Posted from SEORoundtable
Matt McGee summarized the most important changes, as he sees fit, which include anchor text changes, image search changes, indexing symbols, navigation query changes and more.
One thing that I think really stands out is this one:
Improvements to processing for detection of site quality. [launch codename "Curlup"] We’ve made some improvements to a longstanding system we have to detect site quality. This improvement allows us to get greater confidence in our classifications.
Here is the full list for the most recent updates:
- Autocomplete with math symbols.
- Improvements to handling of symbols for indexing.
- Better scoring of news groupings.
- Sitelinks data refresh.
- Improvements to autocomplete backends, coverage.
- Better handling of password changes.
- Better indexing of profile pages.
- UI refresh for News Universal.
- Improvements to results for navigational queries.
- High-quality sites algorithm data update and freshness improvements.
- Live results for UEFA Champions League and KHL.
- Tennis search feature.
- More relevant image search results.
- Fresher image predictions in all languages.
- SafeSearch algorithm tuning.
- Tweaks to handling of anchor text.
- Simplification to Images Universal codebase.
- Better application ranking and UI on mobile.
- Improvements to freshness in Video Universal.
- Fewer undesired synonyms.
- Better handling of queries with both navigational and local intent.
- Improvements to freshness.
- Improvements to processing for detection of site quality.
- Better interpretation and use of anchor text.
- Better local results and sources in Google News.
- Deprecating signal related to ranking in a news cluster.
- Fewer “sibling” synonyms.
- Better synonym accuracy and performance.
- Retrieval system tuning.
- Less aggressive synonyms.
- Update to systems relying on geographic data.
- Improvements to name detection.
- Updates to personalization signals.
- Improvements to Image Search relevance.
- Remove deprecated signal from site relevance signals.
- More precise detection of old pages.
- Tweaks to language detection in autocomplete.
- Improvements in date detection for blog/forum pages.
- More predictions in autocomplete by live rewriting of query prefixes.
- Expanded sitelinks on mobile.
- More accurate short answers.
- Migration of video advanced search backends.
- +1 button in search for more countries and domains.
- Local result UI refresh on tablet.
Lots of things here, some of them we covered previous in our April Google Webmaster report.
Last March, the Federal Trade Commission reported that they had levied a fine of $250,000 against the Legacy Learning and Smith company. The fine originated due to their use of online bloggers who were paid to produce reviews and endorsements for the products. The intent was to stimulate credibility among readers in order to generate purchases and clicks for the Legacy Learning and Smith company.
Since 2009, the FTC has been ramping up its efforts to put an end to this kind of paid endorsement. They explicitly underscore that this sort of back-scratching between paid reviewers (“critics”) and companies selling products and services is far from okay.
Being caught by the FTC and getting a heavy slap on the wrist (and the wallet) isn’t the only reason you should avoid this kind of blatant disregard for authenticity. You’re also lying to your customers.
Search marketing and local SEO in Alabama isn’t just about visibility, it’s about building real credibility. That comes from establishing and working on relationships founded in trust. When you sponsor reviews and pay for “critics” to talk up your products and services in local SEO boosting sites like Google Places and Yelp, you’re risking serious harm to your credibility.
Here are 3 Reasons Paid Reviews Are Bad for Local SEO (and your business…)
Consumer Savvy Continues to Grow
It’s easy for some business owners to think of their consumers as simple-minded people browsing, but the majority of your target audience is anything but a bunch of rubes. The more time people spend online, the more they’re able to sniff out disingenuous content. Start using paid reviews to bolster your local SEO and watch how quickly red flags go up. Your audience will avoid you like the plague.
Those who do business with based on those reviews, who then have a different experience, are going to feel extremely cheated. Thus begins the negative word of mouth and even more harm to your brand.
Associating your brand and your business with this kind of deceptive local SEO marketing might net you a short term profit, but it decreases your long-term visibility, return customer base and consumer loyalty.
If you’ve got a great product or service, you shouldn’t have to rely on local SEO based in fake reviews to market yourself
Dishonest Local SEO Marketing is a Gateway Drug
If you can’t see the ethical issues that reveal themselves in paying someone to deliberately mislead your consumers, then you’re leaving yourself wide open to utilizing more devious (and deceptive) marketing gimmicks.
You might think “this is OK, but I would never do X”, you’re lying to yourself. When it comes to business ethics, you’re either honest, or you’re not.
The Staggering Risk of Viral Negativity
Remember how quickly the videos spread that showed a FedEx driver throwing a television over a fence during one delivery? How far did that message reach? You might think that your average consumer won’t notice or care about your little local SEO dishonesty with some paid reviews, and you might not worry at all about the ethical implications, but you should know there are some savvy people out there who know how to get the word out.
And they’re connected in all the right ways, and can get the word out in just the right time that you could wind up with a viral backlash.
It might start with a simple blog post, but what if that blog is read by another more influential blogger who decides to name your business as a stark example on how NOT to approach local SEO marketing? What if that “how not to do this” goes viral across the web? You got the exposure you wanted, but not in the right way. Now no one will touch your brand.
If you want to focus on a Local SEO strategy, focus on quality content. Don’t pay for bad, biased reviews. That’s bad business, period.
One research firm, BrightEdge, found that of the top 100 brands (which was determined using Millward Brown’s Top 100 Most Valuable Global Brands in 2011), 77 have created a presence on Google+ with a branded page. That’s in comparison to Facebook, where 93 of the top 100 brands have created Facebook pages.Another research firm, Simply Measured, looked across the top 100 brands and found that while 61 had Google+ brand pages, only 13 of those top brands had more than 5,000 followers. On Facebook, many of the top brands have hundreds of thousands of followers. Some in the millions.
Because I work in marketing online, my eyes picking up things in website content and design that others don’t normally see. I can’t help it, it’s my job. One of the things that stands out on every page is the call to action. It’s one part of the overall conversion rate optimization (CRO) of a page. One of the things we strive for in all we do (Alabama web design, copywriting, SEO services, content marketing, etc.) is to get users to convert into customers while maintaining SEO best practices.
Because of that, I really appreciate a job done well when I see it. I was turned on to a company that has a tremendous form layout for their contact section, with a great call to action. It’s subtle, but it’s strong. I was even compelled to enter my information, and I don’t even need their services.Â The company in question is an Australian based provider of SEO.
Check out this screen cap
The important thing to take away from this is that something as simple as a call to action, just a few words, mingled with the right design of your page can make a massive difference in your conversion rates.
When you’re dealing in the optimization of your website content, it goes well beyond pumping it full of keywords for the purposes of SEO. You need to think about what inspires your visitors to click. Think about that if you’re in the market for an SEO agency. Do you want to work with someone who stuffs your on page content full of keywords or do you want to work with someone who understands the importance of making a psychological connection with your target audience?
By the way – how do we know this is a great example of a strong call to action? It’s not just the fact that we feel compelled to check it out. It’s also the fact that, upon investigation the owner of this particular company revealed that their conversion rates spiked by 700%.
I typically wander through the web on any given day opening discussions on LinkedIn and other social media. Recently Google came to Mobile, AL to discuss the benefits of a mobile website in a GoMo initiative. I attended, and was curious what other local business owners had thought of it. I posed the question to one of my LinkedIn groups and got a great response back that I wanted to share:
Gary, I saw all the advance hoopla by Sullivan St. Clair (I believe now going by the name of Red Square) about this, but I didn’t go in for a “free” consultation once I read you had to give them a credit card number to participate.
My website seems to come up just fine as is on mobile devices, so I’m wondering what the real advantage is. Will be interested in the responses.
My Response follows:
Most websites will come up just fine on a mobile device, what’s important is how they’re viewed. The primary benefit to having a website or landing pages optimized for mobile is they provide an improved user experience by design.
With a standard website, the contents are shrunk down considerably in order to display as much of the content as possible. A user then has to zoom manually or double tap the screen to scale up/zoom a particular section. Once zoomed, they’re forced to scroll around. Mobile sites are designed for those handheld devices and tablets and automatically adjust to fit the screen. This keeps you in line with best-practices for online marketing and digital sales funnels, where you want to minimize the clicks and actions of a prospect in order to keep them engaged in the buying process.
Load time – Mobile optimized sites load faster, as the markup is streamlined for optimal download/load speed on a device that doesn’t have the same computing power as a current-gen pc/mac system. (at least not yet). The difference is only a few seconds, but when it comes to browsing online, most people don’t even like wasting a few seconds and they’ll back up to try a different website.
Enagegement/Targeted Content – This is a big one, because it allows you to offer mobile-specific features that including things like mapping functions and click-to-call. A great option for local businesses is how mobile devices are movin to location-aware technology. As this technology grows into the mainstream, mobile phones will be able to connect to a mobile optimized website when a user is in the immediate geographic proximity to your business.
When you combine a well-developed mobile website with offline media including QR codes, you can bridge the gap between on and offline marketing, effectively staying engaged with your clients. Imagine having a simple SMS marketing flag on a table, or a QR code, that sends a customer in your location to a mobile landing page on their smartphone. Through that page they can easily opt-in to receive future special offers.
The mobile web is no longer a concept – it’s a mainstream reality that will impact any organization that aims to communicate with target audiences online. Most leading industry analysts project that within a few short years, mobile phones will overtake PCs as the most common Web access device worldwide. The responsibility now falls on website owners to take advantage of the unique opportunities mobile offers for connecting with the growing number of visitors who will inevitably access their website on mobile devices.
Morgan Stanley released an exhaustive report last year citing the tremendous growth and the future of the mobile web, stating that based on current focus and adoption, the mobile web will be more widely used than desktop internet use by 2015.
Check out the full article from Mashable: http://mashable.com/2010/04/13/mobile-web-stats/
I often find myself wondering the point of having a website if no one can find it. The occasional visitor might stumble on it, but is there a reason to pay for hosting if you cannot get your site up to the front page with your keywords? Small business owners are typically the worst offenders, though it’s not intentional.
In most cases, they feel they don’t have the time or budget to build and maintain a professional website for their business. Instead they settle for less. The result is an unpolished, unprofessional website that simply isn’t visible in search. Whatever time and money put into it is wasted. If those unprofessional sites do gain some traffic and visibility, they’re likely doing more harm than good because of the quality of the design (or lack thereof).
Not only do you have to think about the aesthetics of your site but you need to think about the content and how you can optimize and supplement your website content in order to improve your visibility -and- your conversion rates. (i.e. turning visitors into customers)
Here are some simple tips to get you thinking about how you can improve your search presence and the user experience to boost your SEO efforts.
- Get your own domain, do not co-host somewhere else. Do not use free domains. Having your own domain shows professionalism.
- Keep an eye on your performance. Google Analytics will help you determine the point of origin for your best traffic, how long they stay, how they exit and other metrics.
- Get involved in the community such as through forums. When you participate there are opportunities for giving out links to your site to build your link profile.
- Use a blog you’ve started for blog marketing – link back to your site pages in your post.
- Update your blog on a regular basis, you never know when it will take off and people could start linking to it.
- DMOZ may not be as popular as other major search engines since it is edited by humans, but many of the major search engines still use this site for indexing.
- Complex java script can confuse search engines when they are indexing your site, avoid it at all costs.
- Flash sites can cause similar issues with search engine indexing. Keep dynamic content that is strictly visual to a minimum.
- Target good keywords with low competition. Use tools for research such as Google Adwords keyword research tool.
- Include your keywords in all areas of your site. This includes your title and Meta description, alt tags, footer, and the body of the content. This greatly increases your relevancy when indexing.
- Surround your keywords with relevant words that pertain specifically to the topic. Sometimes site excerpts are displayed in search results as opposed to the meta description. Keep the info in context and help them find what they are looking for. Be the solution.
- Avoid keyword stuffing – Keyword stuffing is considered a spammy practice used to manipulate search results. If your content is flagged for keyword stuffing you can suffer a penalty to your rank and even have your domain removed from the search index.
- Door way pages or splash pages are tools commonly used in black hat and gray hat SEO. The search engines, particularly Google, frown on their use. If you use one, drop it and create a home page that offers real value.
This certainly is no master primer, but these little things are good to keep in the back of your mind as reminders on how to handle yourself and your marketing campaign. Try not to get your eyes glued on the big picture and remember the little things that have a tremendous impact on conversion, site design, visibility and SEO.
As social media marketing continues to grow in scale, becoming more user friendly for business owners, it’s becoming less of an “if” companies should execute a strategy for social media marketing. There’s no questions about it anymore. Your customers exist in social media across a vast number of networks. If the traditional marketing mantra of “go where your customers go” still holds true, then your business needs to make an effort to embrace social media marketing.
The question that stops most companies from using social media however is “how do we execute a strategy that produces results?” That’s a fair questions, given that there are so many businesses out there putting in all the effort, and getting nothing in return. If you want to find success with your foray into social media marketing then consider these 10 “Do’s” to help you put a killer strategy together.
Social Media Marketing Do #1 – Repurpose Content & Save Time
You don’t have to sit down and brainstorm the perfect topics, attempting to avoid anything that has ever been written before. You can save yourself a lot of time by repurposing old content (like newsletters and articles) or curating content from other sources that can be valuable to your target audiences.
Social Media Marketing Do #2 – Interaction is Key
Real interaction can be a tough cookie to crack for some business owners. You need to find the best balance between self promotion and intriguing content in order to keep your audience members engaged. Quality interaction means engaging in conversations and replying as much as it means starting them. A great start is to ask questions that inspire a response.
Social Media Marketing Do #3 – Try to Vary Your Media
Use different forms of media. Sometimes posting a few questions is great but customers like a little meat to content. If you want to increase how often your posts are shared then use infographics, video, images and even podcasts to improve your engagement.
Social Media Marketing Do #4 – Optimize Your Content
Most businesses operate without any plan in place for optimization, whether it’s their social media marketing or their website. You need optimize every page of content and every post you make if you want to be found. Making your content searchable ensures that people can actually find you, engage with you and give you a return on your investment in social media marketing.
Social Media Marketing Do #5 – Keep a Level Head
The last person you need is some random intern having a meltdown in the middle of your social media marketing campaign, flying off the handle at the first negative thing said about your brand. When you keep a level head during a poor review or nasty outburst from customers, and have a plan in place to deal with such incidents, people will have more respect for your brand. It shows a certain sense of class when it comes to customer service.
Social Media Marketing Do #6 – Customize for Different Audiences
Few businesses have only one target audience. You should tailor your various messages to include more than one target audience. Don’t write for one group all of the time, write for all the groups sometimes. Do your homework for your social media marketing and figure out how to speak to each audience, what they want to hear, etc.
Social Media Marketing Do #7 – Choose Your Brand Ambassador Carefully
A lot of companies have learned from their mistakes by letting random employees post to their social media. You don’t necessarily want to discourage interaction or stifle your team but you also want to make sure that the voice within your social media marketing is consistent, and works to further your goals and overall strategy.
Social Media Marketing Do #8 – What’s Your Purpose?
Remember the purpose behind your social media marketing. If you don’t keep your goals in sight it’s easy to get off track and start sharing content or making posts that don’t move you closer to your goals. Those actions often lead you away and reduce the return on your investment.
Social Media Marketing Do #9 – Measure Twice, Cut Once
Your strategy for social media marketing is important. Always remember that anything worth doing is worth doing well, so plan your approach to social media, engagement, posting, responding, etc.
Social Media Marketing Do #10 – Be Open to Innovation
You don’t need to be innovative or cutting edge in order to run a quality social media marketing campaign. With that said, you still need to have your eyes and ears open for the newest trends. Review your strategy regularly and figure out if changes in technology, software or the search and social landscape might make your social media marketing strategy easier to manage.
If you think you can capture the attention of your audience via mobile marketing with the same dull content people have been served with for the last 20 years then you need to revisit your creative marketing process. People carry their smartphones because they’re convenient and they offer a depth of immersion – especially when they’re bored with nothing else to do. This creates a unique opportunity for brands to interact with their customers and get a strong marketing message across. It’s time to put on your thinking cap for mobile marketing.
Make 5 Minutes a Blast with Mobile Marketing
Not only are smartphone users mobile phones as a tool to ramp up productivity but they use them as a reliable source for entertainment. If you want your offer to stick you must mingle a traditional sense of urgency in your marketing with entertainment and value. If your customer is stuck by a train, sitting in traffic, in a waiting room, etc they will turn to their mobile for some kind of engagement or entertainment. You have a few minutes to offer them something enlightening, entertaining and engaging.
Phones are Personal, Mobile Marketing Should Be As Well
Our mobile phones connect us to a world that we cannot otherwise reach with other devices. The web, email, SMS, applications, multimedia. More people are turning to their mobile devices to manage their lives including scheduling and banking, GPS, task lists, fantasy sports, business and more. For your mobile marketing to be effective, you need to make it easy to access via a mobile device, but more importantly it must be relevant to their needs – and it must be personal.
Use Mobile Marketing to Ask for Engagement
If you’re having a hard time looking for a way to inspire engagement among your customers, then ask them to capture it on film. Most smartphones are equipped with a quality digital camera. Use that to help build your community as they capture and share events around your brand or products.
Go Beyond Mobile Marketing
Mobile marketing campaigns work best when they’re combined with other forms of advertising and marketing such as live events, print media campaigns, content marketing and social media. That means putting up sites specific to your mobile marketing campaigns, utilizing QR codes and SMS opt-ins on table cards in your store or restaurant, putting mobile marketing ads in the weekend paper, etc.
Always Give Something
If you want to get something from your customers (more sales, contact info, etc) then you need to give something first. Offer simple incentives such as access to relevant information (weather, news, local events, discount offers, etc) or some kind of coupon or content only available to mobile users. This can help boost intake rates and customer participation in your mobile marketing.
Business owners are always looking for ways to keep customers coming back, such as with video marketing and mobile marketing. It’s easy to get someone new to spend money in your business. The hard part is getting them to come back for more. Special offers and discounts sometimes help, but they’re not always effective and don’t typically help business owners target people when they’re making decisions.
QR codes are an effective mobile marketing tool that can be put into virtually any type of advertising. Rather than relying on passive print marketing, you can create a call to action for your customers to check out your QR code for details. The curiosity can often get the best of them, launching them into a custom sales funnel that inspires engagement and interaction with your brand.
Why are QR Codes Valuable
Their value lies in the fact that QR codes are free to make, they’re open source and they have a hyperlinking capability. The number of customers equipped with smartphones continues to grow every day, and as long as they have a camera phone with a QRcode app, they can interact with your QR code marketing.
What Can a QR Code Do?
QR Codes don’t just link your audience to a website. They can funnel them into an opt-in, set up an SMS, an Instant Message, fire off an email or connect them to a phone number. They can also be put anywhere a camera can be aimed. As more businesses come on board, we’ll begin to see more of them on billboards, in-store displays, business cards, event ticketing, conference ads, trade-shows, flyers, print ads, direct mail letters, coupons and a lot more.
The Major Benefits of QR Codes
Above all else, QR Codes let you bridge the gap between offline and online marketing. If you offer a great deal of content online beneficial to your customers, QR codes can help draw them into that web of social media bliss. They also make it extremely easy for a customer to take action from your Call to Action.
For businesses who want to know the statistics of their marketing campaigns, QR codes make tracking simple. Analytics weren’t available for traditional offline marketing with things like billboards, so it was difficult to measure how effective they were. With QR codes, you can measure the results based on clicks, captures and overall leads.
Blog Marketing – Going Beyond Words
If you want to make your blog marketing work for you, and build a sustainable reader base, then you need to consider the SEO (search engine optimization) side of your content. While SEO can get a little complicated, especially for small business owners that aren’t “up” on everything related to optimization, you don’t need to know everything from top to bottom. You just need a handle on the basics for effective blog marketing.
Blog Marketing For the People
It’s important that you fine tune your content so that it’s geared toward your target audience. Believe it or not, if you’re in line with what your audience wants to hear then the SEO almost takes care of itself through blog marketing.
If you do want to tweak your blog marketing with SEO beyond the optimization you get just from writing targeted messages, follow these key elements:
Excerpts – This is your post, summed up into a brief description that is shown to the user when they do a query through a search engine. Descriptions are important if you want people to click through your content. The description should be sharp enough, while containing your targeted keywords, to snag the attention of the readers and the search engines.
Keywords – You don’t need to do hours of keyword research just to figure out what to write about. If you know your target audience then you know what kinds of lingo they use when they’re searching for content. This distinction has to be made so that your audience can find you when they’re searching online. Use your targeted keywords when blog marketing to improve your odds of being found online.
Links – It’s a universal truth that if you want to improve the position of your blog, and you want a higher rank, then you need links pointing to your site. Links come from sharing strong content that people want to link to and share. Links carry a lot of weight with the search engines because it makes you look like a credible source and an authority in your industry. More links = more trust = more value = better rank.
You should also link among your posts to drive traffic within your blog, as well as to your company site. To gain the most benefit, your links should use keywords as the anchor text, regardless of where they are pointing in your site. This will help you establish relevancy for your targeted keywords. Just make sure that the destination page is relevant to the keyword you use as your anchor text.
By linking your current blog marketing posts to older posts, you can encourage your readers to stick around a lot longer. They’ll also be able to accurately judge your authority and expertise on a topic which will make them more likely to respond to your Calls to Action such as subscribing to your newsletter, opting in for an eBook, clicking affiliate links, etc.
Tags – Tags are used different in a number of blogging platforms, so their relevancy can waiver. Either way, you need to use tags that are relevant to your content as well as for the audience. It’s recommend that you limit your tags to about a dozen per post, otherwise you risk undermining their effectiveness.
Categories – This setup helps your visitors jump deeper into a subject by reviewing all the posts or topics under a specific category. Instead of wading through your content they can dive right into what interests them. Google also has a thing for categories and indexes them accordingly, using a category system to help “categorize” your own content within its database for relevant indexing at a later date.
It’s not rocket science, but SEO is as much a science as it is an art. There’s no perfect way to do it, and no two pages will be optimized in the same manner. Remember that above all else, your blog marketing is all about writing content for your target audience. If you do that with these target elements in mind you’ll have no problems improving the relevancy of your site, blog posts and overall visibility on the web.