“Five years ago, you could do SEO in your sleep. Now, you have to actually be awake.” – Bruce Clay
Mobile-first index, AMP, PWAs, featured snippets, chatbots, voice search, virtual assistants… The world of SEO is changing – and changing fast. There were 1,623 Google algorithm changes in the past year alone. That’s an average of four to five updates per day.
I had a blast learning about some of these current and upcoming changes while attending the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle this week. Three days of back-to-back sessions – chock full of nothing but search, search, search. I even joked on day two that there was some hidden meaning in the fact that several of us had to search long and hard to find not only a place to sit to eat our hot lunches, but also to find silverware with which to eat them.
By the end of day three I walked away better equipped to serve GroundFloor Media’s and CenterTable’s clients and excited to for what’s to come. This conference packed quite a punch for those who work (or play) in the search marketing world – and certainly left me wanting more. But like all good things, SMX had to come to an end (until the next one anyway). Here are a few of the many takeaways from the conference:
Top Ranking Factors and Algorithm Updates
Top ranking factors in 2017 include more content, more images and faster speeds – and, obviously, mobile/responsiveness.
The more content you have, the better your chances of ranking well. Recommended page length varies by topic, ranging from 800-2,700 words per page. The most tolerated paragraph length for a user is two to three sentences.
Focus on getting one really good backlink rather than 10 mediocre ones. And buying links on large article sites (think Forbes) are a waste of resources from an SEO perspective.
Speed is crucial: 53 percent of people will bounce out of a webpage if it takes longer than three seconds to load.
You don’t necessarily need to have a high authority website or use schema to get a featured snippet. And if you’re in position six, it can be easier to get to position zero than position one.
Mobile is Huge
60 percent of searches are conducted on mobile devices and 50 percent of website traffic comes from users on mobile devices. This trend is rapidly growing.
The Mobile-First Index is coming – although likely not until sometime in 2018. We need to be preparing now and responsive design is the preferred approach, otherwise you’ve got lots of work to do to get ready for the switch.
People research spontaneously on mobile so it’s a huge lost opportunity if you’re not there when they need you. However, people typically don’t complete their research or buy/convert on mobile. Desktop still matters!
Progressive Web Apps (PWAs) seem to be preferred over AMP. But you can apply AMP coding standards to your website to increase its speed.
The Latest in Local Search
Citations (which are online references to your business’s name, address and phone number) are the ante to play in the local SEO game. Once you’re in the game, they don’t make a big difference.
Although proximity is a huge factor in local search, it is not the only factor. You have to have at least decent onsite SEO in place to even make the cut to appear in the local pack. Once you make that cut, Google will then order listings by proximity.
Schema markup is essential for SEO success in local businesses and eCommerce sites for that matter.
Lastly, these quotes I overheard throughout the week really put SEO into perspective for us:
SEO is not something you do. It’s what happens when you have done everything else right.
Make your website so good that Google feels embarrassed if they’re NOT showing it in search results.
Building a website without SEO is like building a house without the wiring.
Over optimization is like putting on too much makeup. At some point, you don’t like it.
Buyer behaviorists have for a long time relied on the traditional consumer journey funnel to describe how a potential customer starts with a set of brands and through a set of methodical steps, reduces the number of brands down to a small number to make a purchase. The following funnel visually indicates the typical consumer journey: Read more after the jump…
Capitalizing on in-person opportunities as well as digital opportunities brings us Back to the Future.
Last week we hosted our sixth South by Southwest Interactive “Denver Download” – a chance for our clients and partners who attended the SXSWi conference in March to share the knowledge they gained with other clients, partners and colleagues back here in Denver. This year’s panel consisted of Comcast’s Cindy Parsons (who hosted one of the festival’s on-site social media lounges), Sukle’s Dan Schultz, Children Hospital Colorado’s Elizabeth Whitehead and yours truly. Below is a recap of common themes that were discussed during the event – all relevant concepts to look to as evolving trends in digital marketing in 2017.
Knowing your audience (and segmenting your messaging and marketing plan accordingly) is more important than ever.
Gone are the days of distributing one message to as many people as possible through digital channels. With so many social media and digital marketing platforms, combined with the fact that it’s not “solely Millennials” using Instagram or “only older people” using Facebook, it’s more important than ever to create specific audience personas and speak directly to each one of them with tailored content and messaging. Read more after the jump…
The fourth day of South by: When sleep deprivation and too many creative thoughts in your head from the previous three days starts to cloud everything. But the sun came out today and we had an impressive lineup of speakers. Here are our top takeaways from Monday at SXSW 2017:
I attended a wide variety of sessions today, the first being “Blending Leadership: Online and Offline,” where presenter Reshan Richards reviewed six pillars of leadership traits from his book. From a professional development standpoint, the main takeaway for me was, “Once you’ve become more efficient and find yourself with an extra 30 minutes or hour in your day, be intentional about how you fill that time. Don’t cram it with busy work. Rather, spend it on something you’d hoped to do from an aspirational standpoint.”
The buzz and anxiety of the first sessions at South by Southwest (SXSW) are palpable. And its easy to see some of the broader themes of SXSW 2017 rise to the surface: leadership in times of adversity, using the technologies we have at our fingertips to solve everyday problems and the rise of chatbots were some of the front runners. Here are our highlights from Friday at SXSW: Read more after the jump…
Welcome to the data visualization dating game! Hi, I’m Adrienne and I’m new around here. I like engaging social media posts, long creative sessions and most especially thoughtful incorporation of data before and after campaigns. My ideal date doesn’t just take a dip in the data pool, he jumps off the high dive and into the deep end. After his swim, he keeps only the necessary, glistening, shining drops of important, actionable data points.
As my major data crush Avinash Kaushik would say, getting drunk on data and providing “data pukes” is totally unnecessary, not to mention classless and a total turn off. What he means by that is having data is great, but dumping a bucket of it onto a page doesn’t answer the two most important questions data exists to answer – “So what”? And, “So that?” Why is this graph important to your business and what is it telling you to DO!?
Hopefully we’ll provide enough content to make it feel like you’re in Austin.
The annual pilgrimage to Austin is upon us this week, and once again GroundFloor Media and CenterTable will be bringing you the sights and sounds of the South by Southwest Interactive (SXSWi) conference! Beginning Thursday, March 9 and continuing through Tuesday, March 14 Carissa McCabe and I will be hitting up as many sessions, brand activations, concerts, product releases, networking events and Bar-b-ques as possible, and reporting back here on the GFM/CenterTable blog as well as a variety of social platforms.
Should we be blogging? We get this question a lot. And the answer is a big fat clear… maybe.
It’s no secret that both users and search engines love fresh, unique content, right? Absolutely – when it’s timely, original, meaningful and well written. By blogging, you create the opportunity to build relationships with readers, position your organization as an expert in the field and provide new content for Google to index. We have seen the dramatic impact a strategic, well-run blog can have on increasing visibility and improving search engine rankings for an organization. We’re definitely a fan.
But that doesn’t mean it’s for everyone. We have also seen un-nurtured blogs become stale, outdated, duplicative and even a liability.
Develop a Blog Strategy
Before you dive into blogging with both feet, take a step back and think about your purpose in doing so and, maybe even more importantly, your capacity to effectively execute it. Creating a roadmap can help position you, and your blog, for success. Some things to consider before you get started:
Audience – Who are they and what are they interested in? Use this as a guide in developing your content strategy.
Authors – Identify your key thought leaders in the organization and assess their capacity and willingness to develop content.
Content Strategy – Align your audiences’ interests with your authors’ expertise and map out what topics you plan to cover.
Content Calendar – Will you have topics assigned to specific days of the week? Or will the content cycle ebb and flow with current events? Will you create a blog schedule and assign posts to specific contributors? Or will you allow authors to self-select when they provide content? How will you hold your blogging team accountable for maintaining a steady stream of content?
Monitoring – Will you enable blog comments? If so, develop a policy on if, when and how to respond.
Distribution – Optimizing your blog content to be found in search is a great start, but how else will you distribute your blog posts to ensure they reach your target audience?
When working with clients to differentiate their social media platforms we like to focus on creating a unique “voice” and identifying the different types of content for each platform that the brand/business may be active on. The strategic concept is only posting the type(s) of content that fits each platform and speaks to the audience who spends the most time on a specific platform – which will help the brand’s individual platforms grow much faster than otherwise. But often this can be much harder to execute day in and day out than resources allow.