Category Archives: Search Engine Optimization

Siri Gets a Facelift

Siri - Apple Updates Its Default Search Engine Provider | CenterTable Digital Agency

Photo credit: iphonedigital

In recent years, Apple devices used either Google and Bing to provide search results for users depending on how they searched. Safari on Mac and iOS search results were powered by Google, where Siri, Search inside iOS (previously known as Spotlight) and Spotlight search results were all powered by Bing.

This week, Apple has announced a change. Google will once again be the default search engine for Siri, Search inside iOS, and Spotlight on the Mac. However, image search results from Siri will still come from Bing, for now.

“Switching to Google as the web search provider for Siri, Search within iOS and Spotlight on Mac will allow these services to have a consistent web search experience with the default in Safari,” Apple said in a statement. “We have strong relationships with Google and Microsoft and remain committed to delivering the best user experience possible.”

Given Google’s large search market share, it will be interesting to see how this change impacts trends in organic search traffic to websites.

On a related note, you may also notice Siri is little more chipper while reading those Google results today. Last week, Apple’s virtual assistant had some work done on her vocal cords to sound less robotic and more life-like.

Who Moved My Keywords?!

I logged in to our Google AdWords account one day to find that my keywords were no longer where I expected them to be. Apparently, some of our pay-per-click (PPC) ad accounts had magically been migrated over to the shiny new AdWords interface that has been rolling out over this past year. Frustrated, I found myself looking for the hidden exit door that would transport me back to the safety and comfort of the old, familiar interface with which I’d become intimately acquainted over the years.

I actually had to pause for a moment and talk myself down. Is change really so bad? Might I (gasp!) actually like the new platform? Find value in its new functionality? Experience improved efficiency? Learn something new? Or maybe even remind myself of the value in adapting to change in life in general?

Google AdWords New Interface | Centertable Digital Agency in Denver, Colorado

This new look and feel is taking some getting used to. And I admit that there have been a handful of times when I have jumped back over to the old interface to check off a quick hit on my list of to-dos in the name of efficiency or to complete a task not yet available in the new interface. But by and large, despite the ability to revert back, I’m trying hard to push through the uncomfortableness that comes with change and just roll with it, recognizing that change can very well be a good thing.

Google Try AdWords New Interface Button | Centertable Digital Agency in Denver, ColoradoSo, if you’re feeling a bit curious about what’s on the other side, don’t be afraid to click that little “Try the New AdWords” button at the bottom of your screen. You might just find that you like it (and you can still find your way back if you don’t – at least for now).

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to Bing

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to BingWe recently covered how to submit your XML sitemap to Google as part of your onsite SEO efforts, so we wanted to be sure we circled back to talk about submitting that same XML sitemap to Bing, as well.

Submitting the XML sitemap is a great way to tell search engines about all the content on your website and make it quicker and easier for the search engines to find, index and return the website in search results.

Steps to Submit the XML Sitemap to Bing

  1. Jot down the URL for your website’s XML sitemap. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
  2. Create a Bing Webmaster Toolsaccount and verify that you own the website.
  3. Once logged into your Bing Webmaster Tools account, go to Configure My Site, then Sitemaps.
  4. Paste the entire XML sitemap URL into the box. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
  5. Click “Submit” and you’re done! The status will update when the sitemap has been crawled and indexed.

 

Key SEO Takeaways from SMX Advanced in Seattle

SMX Advanced Conference SEO Workshop with Google“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.
  • Hidden website content with the use of CSS will still rank in a mobile-first index, but Googlebots probably cannot see it if it’s something you have to click to see on the page, such as with JavaScript.
  • 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!
  • Google’s mobile interstitial penalty was rolled out – make sure you’re compliant.
  • 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.
  • Now more people have smart phones than toilets.

 

 

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to Google

How to Submit an XML Sitemap to GoogleYou’ve poured your heart and soul into creating a new website. The design is perfect. The content flows beautifully. The graphics are stunning. Now you’ve got to get people there.

One of the simplest, and often overlooked, steps of SEO is submitting your XML sitemap to the search engines. Although the search engine bots will eventually find your site anyway, submitting an XML sitemap can help speed up the crawling and indexing processes for your website and help to improve its ability to rank well in search results.

Steps to Submit the XML Sitemap to Google

  1. Visit your website and make note of the URL of your XML sitemap. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
  2. Create a Google Search Console account and verify that you own the website.
  3. Once verified and logged into your Google Search Console account, go to Crawl, then Sitemaps.
  4. Click the red “Add/Text Sitemap” button then add the subfolder portion of the URL to the box. For example, sitemap.xml.
  5. Click “Submit” – and you’re done! Refresh your browser to see the sitemap is now listed. You will also be able to see if there are any errors with the sitemap you submitted.

To Blog or Not To Blog: That Is The Question

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?

Drop What You’re Doing & Make the Switch to Google Expanded Text Ads

Ready or not, the time to convert to Expanded Text Ads (ETA) in Google pay-per-click (PPC) advertising is here.

Earlier this year, Google introduced ETAs, which provide more space for ad text over the standard text ads we’re used to, and they are better optimized for the mobile experience.

ETAs have been available to most advertisers for a few months now and many have already started to make the switch and see positive results. If you haven’t already tackled this project, don’t panic (yet!). Google will continue to support and run your existing ads until January 31, 2017. However, after that you will no longer be able to edit those existing standard text ads or create new ones – you will have to make the switch and create new expanded text ads moving forward. Read more after the jump…

Consuming a Balanced Information Diet is Harder Than You Might Think

No matter where you stand on politics, these past few months have sure been a roller coaster. And whether you’re currently at the high point or the low, there’s no doubt that algorithms from Google to Facebook are feeding you news and information that align closely with your personal beliefs and validating your position.

The Benefit and Challenge of Algorithms

Eli Pariser's illustration of a filter bubble.

Eli Pariser’s illustration of a filter bubble.

Algorithms aren’t new, and as communications professionals we benefit from their ability to help serve information directly to our target audiences. But as conscious consumers, algorithms can present challenges that are perhaps amplified in light of this recent election.

Interestingly, this 2011 TEDTalk by Eli Pariser, founder of Upworthy, has been circulating the Twittersphere lately and while the talk, titled “Beware online ‘filter bubbles,’” is five years old, it’s pretty incredible how little seems to have changed. Read more after the jump…

What is AMP and what can it do for you?

For several years now, we have been told to think “mobile first” when creating amp-accelerated-mobile-pageswebsites. With end users clamoring to their smartphone and utilizing it as their primary device for accessing online information, this approach to designing and building websites makes sense.

Websites were traditionally built with large screen laptops and desktops in mind; representation on mobile devices was an afterthought. Before the advent of responsive design, many companies in fact had separate websites for mobile devices (remember the “m.” URLs?) versus large screen devices and had to attempt to keep their separate sites in sync from a content and functionality perspective. Read more after the jump…