SEO – the constant pursuit of connecting search demand to valuable content

The best marketers know that SEO is an ongoing practice – and when done right – it is something that is monitored on a bi-weekly (if not more often) basis, noting changes in search rank due to site optimization, content, links and other ‘search signals’.  Not to mention, Google rolls out hundreds of algorithm updates each year – it’s only the major changes (Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, and iterations of those updates) that seem to get the most attention.

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Among those hundreds of updates – is the latest Google Core Search Algorithm update, expected to be similar to The Quality Update in May 2015.  Both of these updates push search quality forward grading several factors with site content, user experience and links – all focused on creating valuable content.

So – the moral of the story is – SEO is the constant pursuit of higher search rank (connecting search demand) to valuable content (on-page and off-page) – and if that ‘constant need’ isn’t something you can commit to service – it’s time to talk to a SEO agency.

Know, Go, Do, Buy – Google’s New Micro Moments

Leave it to Google – the new release on their Think Insights blog is ‘Micro Moments‘ – those moments that encapsulate searcher intent, specifically on a mobile device.  Google defines these ‘Micro Moments‘ as moments where “decisions are made and preferences are shaped…” when consumers turn to “phones with intent and expect brands to deliver immediate answers.”  (aka – the new GMOT, only, less trendy).  Know, Go, Do, Buy Micro moments can be considered when doing planning or strategy on a keyword-level, and device-level – for keyword ‘types’ that fit ‘micro moments’, like;

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The 7 New Rules of SEO

Search Engine Watch and Pratik Dholakiya recently published a great list of seven ‘directives’ or rules for SEO today that sum up many of the questions we get on a daily basis – so here’s my key takeaways from the list;

  1. Link Building isn’t dead; it has evolved.  Building links is still a critical aspect of SEO (and equates to about 40% of search rank factors) – its just how you build these links that matters.
  2. If you want to build backlinks, build relationships.  High quality content and backlinks both take time, nurturing, and can’t be automated.
  3. SEO must be an enterprise-wide effort.  You have to go big or go home – SEO is so content driven that every aspect of the business has a need for it, and content worth producing (from operations, to supply chain, R&D to marketing).
  4. Long-Tail goes a Long-Way.  Google’s Hummingbird update made long-tail search more relevant than ever – and it starts with items 1-3 already on this list.
  5. Usability, UX and Mobile Optimization take you the rest of the way.  With Google’s mobile algorithm update, it’s a clear signal that Google is rewarding those that provide a great customer experience that aligns with the upward trend of internet & search use.
  6. Your brand is social, Twitter is more relevant than ever.  Now that Tweets are appearing in search results, implementing items 1-5 within social are critical.  Next  stop – Pinterest.  With an ex-Google team developing the algorithm for Pinterest, it’s set to head the same way.  And if you didn’t get how important video has been over the last two years, you’ll need to pick up on that, too.
  7. Do your thing – what is right for your business.  Google updates have, and will continue to come out on a regular basis.  Stick to what you know is right, and you’ll continue to stay in the good graces of Google.

The Changing Landscape of Search & Key Trend Traffic ‘Rush’

Danny Sullivan is a pretty radical guy.  When I saw him present The Changing Landscape of Search, and I noticed he was wearing Google Glass while paddle boarding I thought, “wow – you know you’ve made it when Google sends you so many Glass prototypes that you use them as goggles.”

More importantly, he made sure that everyone knows that SEO IS DEAD.

Well, not quite yet.  In fact, his presentation shows all of the new changes in the search landscape that prove it is ever-changing, and that marketers need to evolve as well to adjust (in everything from scraper keywords & sites, pandas, penguins, to click to call changes).  In fact – looking at a higher level on search trends, he was also able to show that search is still critically relevant – something most men realize in the day or hours before Valentines Day;

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Thank you, Danny.

Search 101 – by Google

For those uncomfortable conversations that you need to have with executives that don’t understand how search works (or those that don’t know that ‘natural’ / organic search results aren’t really 100% natural) – Google’s found a way to make that akward convo more entertaining with Inside Search & How Search Works.  Everything from how search engines (particularly Google) crawl, index sites, how their algorithm ‘works’, fighting spam, and cool toys in the ‘playground’ area (with some oldies and goodies) – and some tips & tricks on how to make life, well… easier.

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Google’s Consumer Barometer on Internet Use

Google did it again – they’ve built another great tool to help geeks like me spend hours delving through all of the research they’ve managed to attain and present in a nice, simple, interactive format (that’s a case study in itself!).  This time, with the Consumer Barometer, where you can explore key findings from research or build your own graphs with data collected around;

  • The Multi-Screen World
  • The Smart Shopper
  • The Smart Viewer

For instance, in studying The Smart Viewer, asking the question, “how often do people watch videos on their smartphone?”

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8 UX Tools Every Digital Marketer Needs

Testing, testing, testing.  One thing reigns true – with marketing, everything is a test – as part of active, ongoing optimization to constantly improve ROI performance (that should be in a stuffy ‘Marketing 101’ book somewhere).  Erin Everhart with SEW pulled together a nice list on UX tools we should all embrace – with a few I added from experience;

10 points to Google for incorporating a Justin Timberlake look-alike in the homepage visual on Consumer Surveys (they’ve obviously been testing & personalizing that page just for me).

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The Google 200 – Organic Search Rank Factors

Backlinko put together a nice list of about 200 different organic search rank factors for Google – broken down by ‘type’;

  • Domain Factors (Domain Age, exact match, etc.)
  • Page Level Factors (Tags, Content Length, Keyword Density, etc.)
  • Site-Level Factors (Content, Pages, Sitemap, etc.)
  • Backlink Factors (# of Linking Root Domains, .edu/.gov links, etc.)
  • User Interaction (Organic CTR, Repeat Traffic, Dwell time, etc.)
  • Special Algorithm Rules (Newer Pages, Searcher History, etc.)
  • Social Signals (Tweets, Likes, Shares, etc.)
  • Brand Signals (Branded Search, Company Page, etc)
  • On-Site Webspam (Panda Penalty, Bad Links, etc.)
  • Off-Page Webspam (Penguin Penalty, Unnatural Influx of Links, etc.)

Lovely!  Thanks, Backlinko.

70% of Consumers have Used Click To Call

Google is touting more Click To Call benefits now with device specific campaign bidding parameters in their Adwords Webinar today – most impressive, is the old data that states even 70% of consumers have used the Click To Call feature (back in 2013!).  More info on Google Think Insights, with The Role of Click to Call in the Path to Purchase.

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Worth Knowing – Google’s Physical Web Initiative

A recent report noted Google’s new ‘Physical Web Initiative’ that aims to make interaction with services, tools, vendors that you use on a daily basis that much easier.  These types of services, tools and vendors might have their own app or kiosk that you’d already connect with individually – what Google is doing is trying to incorporate all of them into one app.  Things like zipcars / bikes, vending machines, parking meters – the day to day transaction units that we interact with, all on one payment / interaction system.

…it’s like the dawn of another iteration of the digital age…

First it was websites – the technology was there, and businesses were on the hook to implement / use it for their business.  It completely changed the way we shop & interact with businesses in less than 10 years.

Then it was search – the technology was there (only it wasn’t so easy to figure out, and still isn’t) – thus came the rise of SEO and Paid Search.

Then it was social – many businesses hesitated at first (as it was almost impossible to make the ROI connection), but now almost every business has a presence on Facebook, at the very least.

Then it was mobile – realizing many consumers don’t have (or need) a personal computer, now businesses have to align with mobile web & app standards as well.

NEXT – it could be Physical Web – and businesses will have to adapt, or be left in the dust… again.

Google’s ‘Boomers’ vs. Bing’s ‘Starters’

Interesting research from Hitwise’s Mosaic tool on the differences between Google and Bing searcher personas;

In Google, the highest indexed audience is labeled Booming with Confidence who are “prosperous, established couples in their peak earning years living in suburban homes (aka well-to-do baby boomers).” This group is also the second most engaged audience in Bing, and represents $59.9 million regular Internet users according to eMarketer.

In Bing, the highest indexing group is what Mosaic called Singles and Starters, who are defined as “young singles starting out, and some starter families, in diverse urban communities.” This group is also the third most engaged audience on Google. This group overall has high engagement with the Internet and are early tech adopters.

However Google’s other core audience is more elite, while Bing captures an older audience. Google’s second most engaged group is defined as Power Elite, who are the “wealthiest households in the US, living in the most exclusive neighborhoods, and enjoying all that life has to offer.” They are highly engaged in travel, finance, sports, family, and are brand conscious. At this time, we do not have conversion rate information by demographic; however, they may be more likely to transact against a paid search ad since they have disposable income and are digitally savvy.

Bing’s third most engaged audience is defined as Golden Year Guardians, who are retirees living in settled residences and communities. They are late digital adopters who are still engaged in traditional media and we stipulate that they are also Internet Explorer users who use the general browser option. They are health conscious, cautious money managers, and typically live in suburban or urban living environments.

Thanks for sharing, iProspect!

HWG again, Amazon PPC, FTW!

Amazon’s own Ad Network (a potential partner site / CDN competitor to Google AdWords / CDN) is said to be opening up to advertisers and retailers by early 2015 (maybe earlier) – and it’s amazing the impact that experts are speculating it will make.  Most of their speculations are warranted as Search Engine Land notes – when you take a look at the data provided on Search Partner Click Share over the past 2 years, retailers and advertisers are looking for a better/different option;

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Multi-Channel Attribution w/ Adometry

Adometry just joined the Google family, bringing a multi-channel attribution tool to the mix.  We were just talking about the need for this kind of tool at the Bazaarvoice Summit – and while it might not have every aspect marketers are looking for (does any tool, really?) – it comes pretty close with it’s ‘Single Source of Truth‘ model…

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The Trifecta of Local Search

Talk about bizarre – 1 day after the launch of ZOG Digital’s Local Footprint Tracker, Google also releases a new local search study in Think Insights, and Search Engine Watch leads with the same hot story.  Could it be a coincedence?  Nope.  We’re in co-hoots with Google and SEW to make sure that marketers finally get it – the “Trifecta of Local Search”.

What’s in the trifecta?  It’s the recipe for success within local search;

  • On-Page Optimization (SEO-optimized locations pages, preferably static, owned assets)
  • Localized Link Building (High quality link building with local keyword anchor text links to SEO-optimized locations pages)
  • Directory Syndication (including automated and manual processes, web, mobile and social directories – like Google Places / Pages, Facebook, Yelp, etc.)

The fourth component to gaining local visibility in search isn’t organic.  Paid Search and other Advertising options (Yelp.com) will boost local visibility immediately, especially in cases where organic Local Search results make take time to increase in rank – or – for seasonality / event influx.

This “Trifecta” is very simple in its approach – one reason why single unit businesses and restaurants outperform chain restaurants and multi-location businesses – because their content is simple – typically one very basic web page, and basic directory syndication, with some high quality links.  Something that gets lost in corporate chaos.

You know you need a PPC Expert, if…

Here’s a great line from Search Engine Watch

If you’re new to PPC, you may be unaware that it will cost you less to hire an expert than it will to launch a campaign on your own.

Pierre Zarokian continues on with 10 (adjusted) reasons to hire a PPC management expert;

  1.  GOOD Keyword research isn’t easy (and the good stuff isn’t free) – so PPC experts use multiple data points to form a more complete picture of the keywords in the search landscape.
  2. WRONG ad copy leads to low conversion & lower quality score (meaning you just wasted a ton of money).
  3. Tracking requires technical expertise – if you don’t know how to setup conversion goal tracking and attribution in Adwords and Analytics (two of your most valuable metrics), you need an expert.
  4. Leveraging experience is priceless – it’ll take a PPC expert with years of experience and many PPC clients LESS TIME and COST to setup your campaign right, than it will for you to figure out, and realize this fact after you’ve lost valuable media budget.  You can read hundreds of articles and forums online, but the good stuff is what you don’t find there.
  5. Campaign settings make things more targeted more difficult.  Targeting, ad groups, ad structure, content network, remarketing… so many options, and the ever-present risk of wasting a ton of ad spend before you know it.
  6. Landing pages matter.  Adwords takes into account the landing page that you’re sending traffic to – as does an expert.  With an optimized landing page, Adwords will increase your quality score, and an expert will be able to effectively support leads / sales with the traffic they generate.
  7. Click fraud?  Yep, you have to monitor for click fraud.
  8. Negative keywords?  Yep, you have to make sure Adwords doesn’t show your ad for things that are unrelated, wrong or down right dirty (and no, it’s not that easy).
  9. Beta programs.  An expert can help get you access into beta programs that may help increase conversion, decrease cost, or provide new features that make a huge impact on your business.
  10. Your time is better spent running the business, not in it.  The time it takes to make these changes right, and manage them, is time better spent doing something else.  You also can’t have an expert ‘set it and forget it’ – that’s the easiest way to lose money, fast.

Relevance Algorithm Updates Coming…

Matt Cutts speaks to a new quality-focused algorithm update coming down the line – as a means to separate true keyword relevance from popularity.  Yet again, it all comes back to relevant content…

“So it is difficult, but it is a lot of fun. We actually have some algorithmic changes that try to figure out hey this site is the better match for something like a medical query,” Cutts said. “And I’m looking forward those rolling out because a lot of people have worked hard so that you don’t just say oh this is a well-known site therefore should match for this query, it’s this is a site that actually has some evidence that it should rank for something related to medical queries, and that’s something where we can improve the quality of the algorithms even more.”  

Thanks, Search Engine Watch & Jennifer Slegg

Google+ / Hangouts = GoogleGone

Google+ had some great SEO / SERP benefits while it lasted… but now, it’s going the way of Google Buzz – reportedly soon to get carved up (no longer positioned as a competitor to Facebook, but now to be incorporated into their other, more successful Google products).  According to two sources reported by TechCrunch

Google has apparently been reshuffling the teams that used to form the core of Google+, a group numbering between 1,000 and 1,200 employees.

TechCrunch is assuming that these employees – along with the Google Hangout team – will get reshuffled into other mobile roles, reiterating the importance of mobile for 2014, and critically in 2015.

Google Fetch – Indexing Content Faster

3 steps to indexing content faster with Fetch in Google WebMaster Tools;

  1. Login to Google Webmaster Tools
  2. Fetch as Google
  3. Submit to Index

…it’s all about helping Google understand that your website is the originator of your content.  All the more reason to install Google WebMaster Tools & use it.  Thanks, Search Engine Land & Matt Morgan.

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Link Building – No Article Directories

Article Directories are OUT for Link Building (and have been) – or are they?

Over time article directories have gotten a little bit of a worse name. So just refresh everybody’s memory, an article directory is basically where you write 3-, 4-, 500 words of content and then you’ll include a little bio or some information about you at the bottom of the article, and you might have three links with keyword rich anchor text at the bottom of that article. And then you’d submit that to a bunch of what are known as article directories, and then anyone can download them or perhaps pay to download them, and they’ll use them on their own website.

Thanks, Search Engine Watch & Matt Cutts.

6 Google Search Updates

6 recent Google search updates worth noting (if you haven’t already noticed);

  1. Date Selector in Hotel Carousel Results
  2. Google Cards for Local Results
  3. Google Answers for Complex Questions
  4. Enhance Stock Cards
  5. Distance Results w/ Maps
  6. Streamlined Search Options

…making Local SEO / Marketing and Content Marketing even more important.  Best to have all bases covered.  Thanks, Search Engine Land & Jessica Lee.

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Google Tag Manager + ABR

Managing complex sites with Adjusted Bounce Rate (ABR) is now easier with Google Tag Manager (GTM).  Best part about it – this has been around since June 2012.

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By adding one line of code to your Google Analytics snippet, you could fire off an event to GA after a certain amount of time elapsed.

For example, you could set the ABR threshold to 15 seconds, 30 seconds, 1 minute, or whatever fits your specific content. And if an event is triggered and captured via Google Analytics, then the visit won’t count as a bounceVoila, you now have a much stronger metric to view when trying to determine low dwell time and actual bounce rate.

Thanks, Search Engine Watch.