The holiday season is in full swing – and with that comes the season of giving, when nearly 30 percent of all donations happen. With Giving Tuesday well under way today and Colorado Gives Day just a week away, many donors are actively searching for ways to support and donate to causes they care about. Now, Google search has made that effort easier than ever. Read more after the jump…
How many times have you heard someone say “you just need a blog!” to improve your website’s search engine optimization (SEO) strategy? Don’t get me wrong, there’s merit to this claim – when it’s done right. Fresh, quality, original content is king. But how do we define quality? Simply aiming to hit a certain number of blog posts in the name of SEO, rather than writing robust, meaningful content on the topics that are most relevant to your users is probably not worth your effort.
What is Thin Content?
So, what is thin content? And how do we make it thick? In 2011, Google rolled out the Panda update, which assigned quality scores to web pages, aiming to reward the high-quality websites and demote the low-quality websites in search results. In 2016, those filters became part of the algorithm. Google defined thin content as pages with little or no added value, typically those that include: Read more after the jump…
I remember looking for jobs in college. I walked down the street to the Career Center on campus, pulled out a giant binder full of job postings and thumbed through them until something caught my eye. I updated my cover letter and resume from the computer lab, printed off *hard* copies of them and then either dropped them in the mail or hand-delivered them to the hiring manager.
Job Searching in the Digital Era
Since then, things have certainly changed – a lot. Entire websites dedicated exclusively to networking and job seeking, like LinkedIn, and a plethora of other job posting sites have erupted along the way. And then feeds became available that would automatically email you a notification when a job that meets your criteria pops up. Read more after the jump…
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.
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?
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.
So, 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).
We 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
- Jot down the URL for your website’s XML sitemap. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
- Create a Bing Webmaster Toolsaccount and verify that you own the website.
- Once logged into your Bing Webmaster Tools account, go to Configure My Site, then Sitemaps.
- Paste the entire XML sitemap URL into the box. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
- Click “Submit” and you’re done! The status will update when the sitemap has been crawled and indexed.
“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!
- 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.
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
- Visit your website and make note of the URL of your XML sitemap. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
- Create a Google Search Console account and verify that you own the website.
- Once verified and logged into your Google Search Console account, go to Crawl, then Sitemaps.
- Click the red “Add/Text Sitemap” button then add the subfolder portion of the URL to the box. For example, sitemap.xml.
- 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.
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?