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.
“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.
You’ve probably heard that pictures are the king, or queen, of social media. But that doesn’t mean mean stock images. We’re talking infographics, and beautiful, original images. Driving people to action and helping them recall your content requires compelling visuals, unless you happen to be a sophisticated Russian hacker. Fortunately, there are a plethora of online tools to help create those visuals and new ones are always popping up.
You’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
Visit your website and make note of the URL of your XML sitemap. For example, com/sitemap.xml.
Finding your audience in search – or more so making it possible for your audience to find you – can be a bit of a moving target. This week we’ve got updates from both the paid (PPC) and organic (SEO) sides of search to keep you on your toes.
The numerous recaps of 2016 have been written, so it’s clearly time to usher in the “what will happen in 2017” articles, and we have a number of interesting insights and predictions for you this week. This is for certain: the only constant in our industry is change.
The decline of organic reach on social platforms continued in 2016. Changes in platform algorithms are making it harder and harder to get your messages in front of your followers. But fear not, says Fast Company, “The new social media order that’s taking shape in 2017 promises companies the kind of precision and measurable results long expected from traditional channels like print and broadcast.”
While the Fast Company article tells us as many as 25% of purchases are influenced by social media, this research-based article is a bit more specific, “45% of people are more likely to tell friends and family about a brand after watching a good video by that brand on social media.
Juxtaposed against organic reach, the social media and digital advertising target continues to move at a breakneck pace. The advent of live and 360 video offerings are the latest keeping advertisers on their toes…and there doesn’t seem to be any end to the constant change in sight.
Speaking of change, Google’s latest offering is connecting brands directly with YouTube personalities/influencers, leaving some influencer-related agencies wondering what their future seat at the table will look like.
What CenterTable and GroundFloor Media Blogged About This Week:
There was a lot of news coverage of “fake news” leading up to and following the recent presidential election, but after doing some digging, it became clear that fake news and fake news sites are nothing new.
And it’s not just fake news that’s getting attention. I came across a story about how a police department in Central California issued a fake news release to the media to protect a person who was sure to be killed by rival gang members. Many in the local media were highly critical of the police’s actions, but the Santa Maria police made no apologies.
In an ever-shrinking media landscape with fewer and fewer “real” media and reporters, how do you tell real from fake news? The New York Times covered this topic in an appropriately titled headline: Inside a Fake News Sausage Factory: ‘This Is All About Income’. The article covered how a computer science major from Georgia (the country), started creating fake stories about Hillary Clinton on a website he set up, and watched his Google ad sales soar as more and more people found the site. He really started making money when he began creating content about Donald Trump.
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…
At the risk of negatively impacting your blood pressure, there are a few things that our industry needs to figure out – not the least of which are mitigating fake news, and relying on social networks for accurate metrics. We have a couple articles that address those touchy topics this week, and a few that highlight new features within Instagram and Google that could have an impact on your business. That said, don’t forget to check out the last article to help put some things in perspective (and hopefully lower your blood pressure) as well!
Instagram continues to add features, including shopping tags that allow consumer brands to tag products in photographs with a link to purchase. In an obvious challenge to Pinterest, it will be interesting to see how much traffic Instagram will be able to drive to eCommerce sites, and how this update might change the platform’s approach to content.
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.
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…