SEO Ho Ho – Search Engine Optimisation in 2016 – Xmas Message

The year is nearly at an end and Xmas has been and gone, but there is still a lot of cheer in the air and pleasant memories of all the festivities to boot (amongst them our company Xmas card – see the image below) which went down very well with our customers).

seo-ho-ho-card

But there are other reasons to be grateful about 2016, in that in my view Google has made some really good moves to make the results fairer and more accurate, the latest Penguin update really sorting things out.

This has been somewhat of a relief to SOM as we have been ‘preaching’ what we call ‘Proper’, ‘Scientific’ SEO. What we mean by this is that we research the words that people are searching for in a market area, find the words that Google ‘wants to see’ for these phrases so that they can be incorporated in to the copy. Then we add some relevant links (with a natural anchor text and source type mix) and he presto , things start to happen.

The best part of this is that it is all totally ‘Google legal’  and can never in our view be subject to any penalties that Google may dream up at some time. We can say this as all we are trying to do is to make sure that any site we optimise offers some of the best information there is on a given subject, and of course we make sure that there are enough links to the site’s pages so that Google thinks the same. We call this link building programme ‘priming the pump’ as once the site gets traffic, the links will start building organically. Link building is still required in many cases, but perhaps, only because others are trying to get their sites rankings higher too…

As to the blog post we have included below, we certainly agree about the rise of AI and believe that Google searchers have for some time been ‘rats in the Google maze’, in that they have been analysing what we click on and what sites we like, thus getting closer and closer their goal of truly understanding the real intent behind a given search term.

The other interesting thing raised here is the increased importance that mobile search is being given these days, not really surprising when you realise that people are accessing the web using mobile devices more and more these days.

For 2017 we see it as more of the same, Google getting cleverer and cleverer at spotting the good sites (the ones that deserve rankings) from the ones that don’t, all of which means you just have to ‘Do SEO properly’ or suffer the consequences…

To see the full article on SEO in 2016 and some predictions for 2017 please click the link.

What we’ve learned about SEO in 2016?

Since the inception of the search engine, SEO has been an important, yet often misunderstood industry. For some, these three little letters bring massive pain and frustration. For others, SEO has saved their business. One thing is for sure: having a clear and strategic search strategy is what often separates those who succeed from those who don’t.

As we wrap up 2016, let’s take a look at how the industry has grown and shifted over the past year, and then look ahead to 2017.

A growing industry

It was only a few years ago when the internet was pummeled with thousands of “SEO is Dead” posts. Well, here we are, and the industry is still as alive as ever. SEO’s reputation has grown over the past few years, due in great part to the awesome work of the real pros out there. Today, the industry is worth more than $65 billion. Companies large and small are seeing how a good search strategy has the power to change their business.

As search engines and users continue to evolve, SEO is no longer just an added service brought to you by freelance web designers. With the amount of data, knowledge, tools and experience out there, SEO has become a power industry all on its own.

Over the course of the year, my agency alone has earned a number of new contracts from other agencies that are no longer able to provide their own search efforts. A large divide between those that can deliver SEO and those that can’t is beginning to open up across the board.

The rise of AI

Artificial intelligence (AI) is now prevalent in many of our lives. Google, IBM, Amazon and Apple are very active in developing and using Artificial Narrow Intelligence (ANI). ANI can be used to automate repetitive tasks, like looking up product details, shipping dates and order histories and performing countless other customer requests.

The consumer is becoming more and more comfortable with this technology and has even grown to trust its results. Sundar Pichai, Google CEO, announced during his Google I/O keynote that 20 percent of queries on its mobile app and on Android devices are voice searches.

RankBrain, Google’s machine-learning artificial intelligence system, is now among the top three ranking signals for Google’s search algorithm. Why? Google handles more than 3.5 billion searches per a day, and 16 to 20 percent of those are unique queries that have never been searched before. To handle this, the team at Google has harnessed the power of machine learning to help deliver better results.

While we can’t “control” RankBrain, what we can do is learn more about how Google is using it and then help the tool by creating good content that earns shares and links, building connections with others in our niche or related niches, and building trust in very targeted topics.

We are still in the beginning stages of this technology, but as more and more homes become equipped with smart tools like Amazon Echo and Google Home, we can be sure that these tech giants will use the knowledge they gain from voice search to power their AI technology.

The “Google Dance”

Every so often, Google likes to surprise us with a major algorithm update that has a significant impact on search results — some years we get one, and other years we get a little more.
While they do make nearly 500 tweaks to the algorithm each year, some are big enough to garner more attention. Let’s look back at four of 2016’s most memorable updates.

Mobile-friendly algorithm boost

A little under a year after “Mobilegeddon,” an event marked by the launch of Google’s mobile-friendly ranking algorithm, the search giant announced that it would soon be increasing the effects of this algorithm to further benefit mobile-friendly sites on mobile search. That boost rolled out on May 12, 2016, though the impact was not nearly as significant as when the mobile-friendly ranking algorithm initially launched.

Penguin 4.0

While this ended up being a two-phase rollout, Penguin 4.0 made its entrance on September 23, 2016. This has been considered the “gentler” Penguin algorithm, which devalues bad links instead of penalizing sites. The second phase of Penguin 4.0 was the recovery period, in which sites impacted by previous Penguin updates began to finally see a recovery — assuming steps were taken to help clean up their link profiles.

“Possum”

While this update was never confirmed by Google, the local SEO community noted a major shake-up in local pack and Google Maps results in early September 2016.

Fellow Search Engine Land columnist Joy Hawkins noted that this was quite possibly the largest update seen in in the local SEO world since Pigeon was released in 2014. Based on her findings, she believes the update’s goal was “to diversify the local results and also prevent spam from ranking as well.”
Divided index

As mobile search continues to account for more and more of the global share of search queries, Google is increasingly taking steps to become a mobile-first company. In November, Google announced that it was experimenting with using a mobile-first index, meaning that the mobile version of a website would be considered the “default” version for ranking purposes instead of the desktop version:

“To make our results more useful, we’ve begun experiments to make our index mobile-first. Although our search index will continue to be a single index of websites and apps, our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

The time to say goodbye to 2016 is fast approaching, and I am truly excited to see what 2017 has in store for the world of SEO!

The Importance Of Hiring The Right SEO Firm

As a website owner, our desire is to see that our website reaches the top spot in the search engines and receive a lot of traffic that converts. You can have the best content in the world but without search engine optimization you will not reach that goal. It is a rather depressing scenario as SEO seems so simple.

However, if you have ever tried to play around with your own site, you realize it is anything but a simple task. There are so many nuances and algorithms to take into account. Learning how to do SEO and then implanting those techniques on a site would be a full-time job for many of us. Thankfully, there are people who do this for a living and many of them do it well. This article is going to shed some light on how to find the best SEO services.

Solid Portfolio

One of the most important aspects in finding an SEO firm is going to be the quality of their work, They should be able to offer up a full portfolio of sites that they were able to rank for several keywords and phrases over the years.

It is essential to take note of the competitive nature of the keywords they ranked for. Are they easy words like “best fried chicken dinner in Louisville KY?” Or is something that would take skill to rank for like, “best credit cards?” Anyone can rank for that first phrase, but there would be skill and expertise needed for such a competitive word as the second.

Guarantee

Not too long ago the internet could have been compared to the wild west. And some SEO professionals were the proverbial train robbers. They would charge companies large amounts of money for really no work at all. This was due to many companies not really understanding search engine optimization like they do today.

Now most SEO companies will offer a guarantee on the work they do and will not expect a blank cheque in advance. This is advantageous for smaller companies with a limited budget. If the ranking is not completed within a specified time you can either get your money back or allow more time for the individual to rank the keyword.

The Secret Sauce

One final ingredient to keep in mind when looking for the best SEO company is to find out how they plan to rank their site. You will not get any specifics, you just want to make sure that only ethical and white-hat methods are being used. If an SEO agency were to use underhanded methods to rank your site, it may be penalized down the road. When this happens you will either have to pay a good deal of money to get the site back in the rankings or simply begin a new one.

It can be a very time-consuming process, so make sure they are doing things that will not harm your site.

If it was easy to rank a site, everyone would be doing it! However, it is a difficult task that is best left to the professionals to handle. Let them rank your site, while you reap the long-term rewards.

 

Like any worthwhile business investment, selecting a Search Engine Optimization (SEO) agency requires time for careful consideration, and this is doubly true if your business relies heavily on online search for brand discovery.

The sheer number and variety of SEO firms to choose from is enough to give anyone pause.

During this process of intensive research and analysis for service procurement, a number of facets may not be as upfront as looking up an About Us page or researching an agency on LinkedIn.

Yet these same facets are crucial to return on investment, you don’t want to kick yourself for now knowing about them before committing to a potentially long-term relationship.

 

Culture of Transparency and Communication

You’ll want to ensure that the SEO vendor you partner with embraces the same values of transparency and effective communication you expect between in-house teams and/or employees, and for the same reasons, really.

Transparency affords businesses better relationships, synergy, engagement and solutions. Your SEO agency needs to meet the same standards your internal people do on a regular basis.

Some things to consider:

  • Which key performance indicator (KPIs) will be available to you on-demand? Are they the right ones for performance tracking?
  • Can you request any data relevant to your relationship at any given time with good reason?
  • What about communication times? Some changes in long-term strategies like link building obviously require some time to take root, so you need to be able to immediately shift tactics, can your SEO agency turn on a dime in these cases?
  • How can you ensure you’re getting the truth and not a dressed up version of events to make things look good?

Secondary and Tertiary Competencies

While most SEO agencies might list secondary and tertiary competencies in their packages, always make sure to ask.

SEO on its own is strictly limited to traffic, not conversion. It’s a means to the bottom-line, which means it functions in concert with relevant channels within search (e.g. pay-per-click ads) as well as efforts indirectly related to it.

Your SEO agency needs to be at least competent enough in coordinating and communicating to the other moving parts of your digital marketing machine to guarantee that their efforts won’t exist in a bubble, and your campaigns are not in disparate silos not working together toward a single goal.

Tech Stack

You’d be surprised how many people brush off the importance of tech stack compatibility when looking for partners across the many channels of digital marketing. There are a few simple questions that can help you determine if your SEO agency of choice has the right tech stack for your operation:

  • Are they experts in your current tech? If you’re running on WordPress, as is more than 70 million sites on the web, can your SEO agency work with that, or are they better with more technical CMS like Drupal or Joomla? Also, it’s one thing to be an expert at a certain tech stack or build, and another to just be “handy” in it.
  • Can they help you migrate to a new one, if necessary? Might seem contradictory to the above, but technology is constantly shifting. E-commerce portal Bluefly, for instance, recently found itself on the wrong end of tech adoption when the E-commerce platform they originally signed up for, among the most popular ones in the past decade, couldn’t support what they wanted to do on mobile. They ultimately had to switch providers.
  • APIs, APIs, APIs: The tech world is badly fragmented, and your SEO agency needs to ensure it either has the right application programming interfaces (APIs) or the capacity to support them from third parties.

Scale Potential

Your partner’s tech stack is relevant to this factor: scale potential refers to how big your partner can help you get before becoming too small for your operation.

It’s a simple truth that different SEO firms have various clientele targets. Some cater to small to mid-sized businesses (SMBs), others focus on enterprise. While the ones that focus on SMBs can offer unique insight to enterprise level clients, they neither have the manpower or tech infrastructure to support enterprise-level SEO.

Read more: http://www.business.com/seo-marketing/7-things-to-keep-in-mind-when-choosing-an-seo-agency/