Early this month Google is rolling out some pretty drastic changes to the Google Ad Grants program, which provides up to $10,000 per month in free ad spend on the Google search network to 501c3 nonprofit organizations.
It’s clear by the nature of these changes that Google is making a major push for quality. According to Google, these policy changes are intended to “raise standards of quality for our free advertising grants” program which currently serves more than 35,000 nonprofit organizations.
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).
“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.
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.