Combined Arms is as necessary in SEO as it is in warfare

Any army general or historian will tell you that in order to win a battle, you need to use all the different types of offensive weaponry available, this being the same across the ages, from the time of 1066 (and earlier) to today.

This is called ‘Combined Arms’ it being the process where an army will use the three main types of fighting unit together in order to win. In the past, these were represented by the Infantry, the cavalry and the artillery. Over time of course this has changed, the role/type of cavalry changing the most, with tanks replacing the horse.

the three arms of SEO

You need to use the 3 arms of SEO just as you do when at war.

But regardless of the change, all three are needed. The artillery to subdue the enemy before the main attack, with the cavalry, after performing the important job of reconnaissance, taking on the task of pinning the enemy in place, thus allowing  the infantry to advance to take the objective.

Of course all this has changed since the days of Napoleon, but they are still basically the same today, all being  needed (with air power taking over a large part of the role of artillery of course).

I understand all of this, not because I have ever fought in a war (or am an acclaimed war historian) but rather because of my hobby, that of wargaming. I play games that cover battles fought by the Vikings, the Persians, the Crusaders, as well as the Napoleonic period. My favourite being that of World War Two. Here I have ‘fought’ in the deserts of Egypt, the steppes of Russian in Normandy, of which have been immensely  enjoyable.  In each battle I have learnt of the importance of using the three different arms together, something that lies at the heart of the hobby.

But what has this got to do with Search Engine Optimisation?

Well, putting it quite simply, there is no ‘magic bullet’ when it comes to getting the best possible rankings on Google (other search engines are available). Instead, you have to make sure that the three areas of Technical Site Build, Content, and Linking Structure are all properly attended too. It is vitally important that these three areas work together just as the three ‘arms’ on  the battlefield, if success is wanted.

The reason for this is that Google look at all three areas, giving ‘marks’ for each. To fail on any of them risks loosing the chance to get a top ranking, the reasons, and the details of each one being covered below:-

Technical Site Build

This is an area that is often forgotten, but is vital, as if the site is not built to allow Google to find all the pages easily, the site will fail at the very first step. Besides this, it is also vital to allow users to move around the site easily and to make the navigation easy to understand and use.

Perhaps the greatest area is however that of site speed, Google now more than ever (with the advent of the Mobile Index) looking for sites that download in the shortest times possible. If they are built in a manner that slows the page delivery  down, or are placed on a server that is overloaded, Google will downgrade the site severely, preventing it from gaining the high positions that it otherwise may deserve.

Content

The reasons that people visit sites are many, but in all cases they are looking for something, maybe the answer to a problem, or for a particular product or service. If the pages of a site do not provide these answers, or give enough detail on a product or service, they will fail to meet the needs of any visitor. And hence, as Google’s aim is to only list pages that are ‘worth the time of their users’ they will fail this important test.

It is therefore necessary to ensure that the pages of a site meet the needs of the visitor. This means that there is not only enough text on the page, but also that it contains pictures and where possible video content (this being another example of ‘combined arms’).

There is by the way a ‘hidden’ advantage to having lots of text on a page (as long as this is laid out in a manner that allows it to be easily absorbed – ‘walls of text’ not being a good idea – whitespace being important). This is all to do with what is known as ‘long tail keywords’ and the capturing of such searches on Google.

Long Tail Keyword Search Phrases.

It is well understood that users use different types of search phrases when they are looking for a product or service. For example, when looking for a TV, they may search for ‘large screen TV’ only to find that the number of search results is too large and that it is impossible to know where to start.

In such cases it is normal for the search phrased to be changed with a view  to getting a better list of sites to check. Perhaps the phrase will be altered to ’40 inch Smart TV’ at this stage.

Further pages and terms will be used until the searcher finds out the model that they want. This is the ‘buying stage’ of the search ‘lifecycle’ and is therefore most important. A term that is used here could be ‘Sony 40EXDB Smart TV in black’. In such cases, it is vital to make sure that your website is in the position to capture such a query.

There are many examples of long tail keywords, and in many cases they are the best ones to capture, as they are often used towards the end of a search for a product etc, at the very time the searcher is ready to purchase.

This is just what using a lot of text on a page can do for any website owner, it allowing them in effect to put more hooks in the ‘water’ of the internet. More hooks lead to more fish being caught, this translating to more visitors and thus hopefully sales.

The overlap with Technical SEO

There is also an overlap with the area of technical search engine optimisation to consider here, that of ensuring that the important areas on a page are used to best effect. These include the Title of a page (the most important real estate a page has) to the Header tags (the H1 being the most important and is best used only once). Besides this, using the other attribute tags like Bold, Italic and List should not be overlooked, these all being places where a part of the content of a page will be placed.

Linking Structure

The third arm of SEO trilogy is still very important today, but it must be said is not as all powerful as it was in the not so distant past (when it was said to be possible to get a blank page to position 1 on Google).

Today, it is still necessary to ensure that a domain, and the pages within the site, have a good number of links, the numbers needed being very different from market sector to market sector and from niche to niche, some being more highly contested than others.

There was a big change in the recent past however, a very big change, one that was started with the introduction of the so called  ‘Penguin’ update by Google. Google felt that they had to make these changes to their algorithm as SEO professionals started creating links in huge numbers to get the pages they wanted to the top of the SERPs.

Basically, this algorithm checked (it is now not run every now and then, but is integrated into the rule set that is used every day) on the links pointing to a site, penalising those that had created too many ‘spammy’ links or a linking structure that use too high a percentage of ‘money keywords’ (these are the phrases that are thought to bring in the sales / enquiries).

All of this means that this part of the ‘combined arms’ team needs to be very carefully handled indeed. So carefully that at Serendipity Online Marketing use specially designed software to handle the whole process, thus ensuring that we only build links that will enhance the standing of sites we work on.

 

So that is it, to succeed in SEO you have to use all three ‘arms’ and use them correctly.

 

The Decline of the Insect and The High Street..

For those of us who are lucky enough to live in, or visit the countryside, there is no doubt that the number and variety of insects has diminished dramatically over the past years. For instance, I can remember having to scrape the hordes of dead bodies from my car windscreen and lights every few days in the 1970’s, the numbers of insects about being so very high.

Do we want to see insects like these disappear?

Now days, however, you hardly notice them, and even when walking the fields you see and hear so very few. Only the other day I was walking through a wheat field and hardly saw anything fly past and certainly nothing crawling along the path.

Of course, this has all to do with our modern way of life and the desire to have unblemished fruit and vegetables (sometimes when I view that perfect lettuce, I cannot imagine that anything ever walked upon it, let alone tried to eat it). This desire (as well as the need to grow as much as possible, both because of demand and the need to make more profit) has in turn led to a huge increase in (even more deadly and effective) insecticides, which naturally (excuse the pun) has had a dramatic impact on insect numbers. Besides this the insect has also to contend with climate change, the way that land is now being farmed and other reasons for loss of habitat.

Whilst this may seem not to matter, the long term effects of reduced insects could be catastrophic. The food chain and the way the planet works being totally disrupted, “they are the little things that run the world” according to one eminent biologist.

The High Street is in Decline Too

But insects are not the only thing in decline in the modern world, the other one that has been making (the bigger) headlines being the decline of the high street.

Can we save the high steet?

Now there are many reasons why the high street is suffering at the moment, the BBC listing 6 of them in its’ new article published in March 2018. These include the fact that people in the UK have less disposable income because pay growth has been lower than inflation. Another good reason is the recent hike in Business Rates. However, the area I am most interested in is that of the competition that the high street faces from Online Retailers.

The Rise and Rise of Internet Shopping

The Internet dominates our lives today, we use it to chat (on social media), to exchange information (using email), to view entertainment programmes via the many streaming services, plus of course more and more people are purchasing their goods online as it is easier, simpler and in most cases cheaper than buying from a ‘bricks and mortar’ shop.

Being An Online Marketing Consultant

This makes me a little bit sad, as for the last 18 years, I through my work as an Online Marketing Consultant (specialising in Search Engine Optimisation and Adwords) I have been contributing, in my own little way, to this decline. It does not cause me to want to stop, as I am after all fulfilling a need my customers have, but it does make me sad.

There is however, as in the case of the decline in the number of insects, little that I can do to stop these changes, and here I can only hope that some great man or women, will step forward and take the necessary actions, before it is too late.

When it comes to the insect population issue, the answer will not be easy to find, especially with the continuing increase in the human population of the world, but it is not a problem that can be ignored forever…

The same is the case with the decline of the high street, but here there are already a number of ideas being floated, these including reducing the level of business rates, whilst at the same time increasing the level of taxes on online purchases; this being an attempt to level the playing field a little when it comes to the costs of operating a retail business.

Others include making the shopping process more enjoyable by ‘engaging’ more with the potential customer and having other entertainments available, plus of course to make parking, or the means to get to the shops (via Park and Ride schemes) easier. Here, what amazes me is the lack of any form of transportation to get heavy items back to the car park, it is after all not that easy to carry a bulky heavy object back to your car. This is something else that drives people to shop online, where delivery to your home is built it.

One idea could be to have shops that hold no stock and where you can only look at the goods you  are interested in, perhaps also trying on clothes, shoes and the like. Orders would be placed with the ‘shop’ with the goods being delivered the next day (as Amazon do today). The shop could be shared by a number of businesses if wanted, thereby keeping their costs down, whilst, and this is the important bit maintaining a presence on the High Street.

Maybe it is an idea that will catch on, who knows, but like the issue with our insect friends, it is something that cannot be ignored forever.

 

Googles New Quality Guidelines and What it Means..

Today content and making a page ‘User Friendly’ is more important than ever when it comes to the current ‘SEO rules’ that Google use. This of course only covers On Page SEO (linking is another kettle of fish) but it is an area that covers a lot of ground.

With this in mind (and acknowledging that I do not know it all) I contacted an SEO Guru to find out if I had all the bases covered. I’m glad to say that I had, but the reply I got back did highlight the fact that Google have just changed their ‘Quality Guidelines’.

But back to my question. I wanted to know more about how content and UX were graded, especially, as before a page is visited by a human (and could hence provide Google with data via the Chrome Browser about time on page etc – if it wanted to take that into account) Google MUST have a means of calculating the ‘value’ of the content and how user friendly it is.

To me this is / was the ‘egg’ part of the chicken and egg story, it being the ‘egg’; a page not seen by Google or anyone else before, that is analysed and given a ‘value’ ranking. This is then being used as a basis for any later search related ranking procedure, pages with ‘higher value’ rankings being more likely to get a position at the top of the SERPS.

I listed the signals that I thought Google use, these being:-

  • Title of Page
  • Description of Page (not truly used, but a lot of poor ones can degrade an entire sites quality, so I have been told)
  • Header Tags on the pages (although these are not as powerful and many a site breaks the ‘rules’ about using them and still gets high ranks)
  • Bold, Itatlics, lists
  • Words used (more on this later)
  • Links out to relevant / useful sites (although I have seen comments from SEO professionals who also say this is not a useful signal)
  • Embedding videos
  • Using Images with the ‘descriptive’ file names and ALT text, and GeoTagging them for LOCAL SEO

Plus on the UX side

  • The Speed of the Page
  • Using whitespace
  • Not allowing too many adverts at the head of page
  • Ensuring that the above the fold area is not just images (the use of Carousels is said, by some to be harmful, but is used extensively and many sites still get a high rank..)

The Words Used on the page:

Here I pointed out that as Google uses a computer programme to analyse any page, that this in turn meant that it must use a lot of TRUE / FALSE checks, this leading on to the use of Words in the content. To me this is an important fact, as it would take a committee of ‘experts’ to view a page to tell whether it was truly good and useful (and they would surely disagree in many cases) and as this is just not the case with Google (even with the power of RankBrain), it surely MUST be making its decisions at a far lower, more ‘mechanical’ level.

The problem about what words to use has been overcome by the use of LSI and Reverse Engineering, and from the reply I got back, I would say that this is still the case today.

Of course, if you want to ‘get a message’ across to Google about what a page was all about, with some specific keyword phrases in mind,  you just CANNOT stuff a page with those target words, this being a dangerous method now.

Google’s Quality Guideline Update

It must be said that these guidelines ARE NOT A PART of the SEO algorithm, but they are important as they form a part of the ‘feed back’ process that Google use when evaluating their own SERPS listings…

The way it Works…

We know a fair bit about the way Google rates pages for any given term, and we also know that Google is constantly changing these rules. In the past, they had to keep changing the rules as SEO professionals were constantly ‘taking advantage’ of an anomaly in the algorithm, but today, with Google’s more holistic approach (also known as Semantic SEO), I believe that the changes they make are all about presenting the best possible results.

Google however has a problem here, as they need some way of checking that they are getting it right…

This is where their army of human evaluators come in. They have been around for many years of course, and were responsible for the rule set that Google used to highlight sites whose general quality is low. Here the sort of thing that they found was that sites which use a lot of duplicate Meta data, or Titles, or have a lot of pages with ‘thin content’ (low word count) tend to provide poor user experience and are basically not worth Google’s time to include in the results.

In order to help these evaluators, Google provided them with an Aide Memoir, this listing all the things that should be checked on a sites pages. We will cover this in more detail later in this post.

So, how does Google use the results of the human evaluators?

Of course, they don’t give you the full picture, but looking at it logically, if the human evaluators rate a page as being of the Highest Quality AND this page is NOT listed in the results for a relevant term, then, the Algorithm may well need some work. The same would be the case if those pages that were considered to be of Low quality WERE in the rankings.

So, even though you cannot affect that part of the ‘Quality Assessment’ that is not being worked out by the set of computer rules that is the Google rule set, you can help Google get it right.

This is important as if a human evaluator ranks a page on your site (or a page like it) highly, this feedback process will eventually ensure that your page gets the best possible rank…

The Google Quality Rules

There is a very detailed blog post on this, and you can also download the full details from Google if you want. But to help, the information below (taken from a part of the post mentioned) will enable you to ensure that all of your pages are of the highest quality.

 

Page Quality Ratings

Overall Page Quality Rating

Google has completely rewritten this part of their guide lines,  expanding this section from the very brief version it has had before.

Old version:

The overall Page Quality rating scale offers five rating options: Lowest , Low , Medium , High, and Highest .

New version:

At a high level, here are the steps of Page Quality rating:

  1. Understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without any beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating. No further  assessment is necessary.
    2. Otherwise, the PQ rating is based on how well the page achieves its purpose using the criteria outlined in the following sections on Lowest , Low , Medium , High, and Highest quality pages.

Here you can see that Google is putting the focus on the beneficial purpose of the page.

 

Page Quality Rating: Most Important Factors

Google’s change to this section yet again put the focus on the purpose of the page, but also bring in the ‘reputation of the creator’ of the content.

Here are the changes, with the changes in italics to this section:

Here are the most important factors to consider when selecting an overall Page Quality rating:

  • The Purpose of the Page
    Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness: This is an important quality characteristic. Use your research on the additional factors below to inform your rating.
    Main Content Quality and Amount: The rating should be based on the landing page of the task URL.
    ● Website Information/information about who is responsible for the Main Content: Find information about the website as well as the creator of the MC.
    Website Reputation/reputation about who is responsible for the Main Content: Links to help with reputation research will be provided.

 

 

Expertise, Authoritativeness and Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

Again there are some significant changes here.  First, the instances where Google referred to “high quality” have  now been changed to “high EAT”.

Here we believe Google is directing its human evaluators to look beyond simple quality and consider other aspects that contribute to the value of that content.

So, Google has added this new part:

Remember that the first step of PQ rating is to understand the true purpose of the page. Websites or pages without some sort of beneficial purpose, including pages that are created with no attempt to help users, or pages that potentially spread hate, cause harm, or misinform or deceive users, should receive the Lowest rating.

For all other pages that have a beneficial purpose, the amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E-A-T) is very important. Please consider:

  • The expertise of the creator of the MC.
    ● The authoritativeness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.
    ● The trustworthiness of the creator of the MC, the MC itself, and the website.

Later in the section, they make some changes specific to the content creators in several key areas, including medical, news, science and financial sites.

Here are those changes, with the changes in italics:

  • High E-A-T medical advice should be written or produced by people or organizations with appropriate medical expertise or accreditation. High E-A-T medical advice or information should be written or produced in a professional style and should be edited, reviewed, and updated on a regular basis.
    High E-A-T news articles should be produced with journalistic professionalism—they should contain factually accurate content presented in a way that helps users achieve a better understanding of events. High E-A-T news sources typically have published established editorial policies and robust review processes ( example 1 , example 2 ).
    High E-A-T information pages on scientific topics should be produced by people or organizations with appropriate scientific expertise and represent well-established scientific consensus on issues where such consensus exists.
    High E-A-T financial advice, legal advice, tax advice, etc., should come from trustworthy sources and be maintained and updated regularly.
    High E-A-T advice pages on topics such as home remodeling (which can cost thousands of dollars and impact your living situation) or advice on  parenting issues (which can impact the future happiness of a family) should also come from “expert” or experienced sources that users can trust.
    High E-A-T pages on hobbies, such as photography or learning to play a guitar, also require expertise.

Here you can see that  Google is putting a lot of stress on the content creators as well, this being all the more important for YMYL (Your Money or Your Life) sites.

 

High Quality Pages

Characteristics of High Quality Pages

Google has also expanded this section, the first reference to the new title changes being mentioned , as well as more on the beneficial purpose of a page.  Changes/additions are in italics.

High quality pages exist for almost any beneficial purpose, from giving information to making people laugh to expressing oneself artistically to purchasing products or services online.

What makes a High quality page? A High quality page should have a beneficial purpose and achieve that purpose well.  In addition, High quality pages have the following characteristics:

  • High level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
    ● A satisfying amount of high quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title.
    ● Satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website. If the page is primarily
    for shopping or includes financial transactions, then it should have satisfying customer service information.
    ● Positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page. Positive reputation of the
    creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.

 

This is all very useful stuff, but hidden in the text is the interesting phrase ‘A satisfying amount of high quality MC, including a descriptive or helpful title’.  This is important as it highlights the fact there is no set number of words and that Titles need to be descriptive and relevant (Click Bait Titles could well result in penalisation).

The Highest Quality Pages

Highest Quality Pages

Again, beneficial purpose is added as a requirement for a highest quality page.

They have also added the “and quantity if MC” as a marker for a distinction between high and highest quality.  This does raise a question about whether all content length is really considered equal in the eyes of Google.  Both Gary Illyes and John Mueller have stated you don’t need to write an essay for a piece of content that doesn’t need it, and to write as much as you need to in order to answer the question the title presents.  But here, quantity of the main content is something rates should specifically look for when deciding if a page is highest quality or only high quality.

And we see yet another reference to the need of having a “very positive reputation of the creator of the main content, if different from that of the website.”

But they have removed references to this on pages for stores or other financial transactions.

Here is the old version:

Highest pages are very satisfying pages that achieve their purpose very well. The distinction between High and Highest is based on the quality of MC as well as the level of EAT and reputation of the website.

What makes a page Highest quality? A Highest quality page may have the following characteristics:

  • Very high level of Expertise, highly Authoritative, and highly Trustworthy for the purpose of the page (EAT), including the EAT
    of the publisher and/or individual author for news articles and information pages on YMYL topics.
    ● A satisfying amount of high quality MC.
    ● Highly satisfying website information and/or information about who is responsible for the website or for stores and pages involving financial transactions, highly satisfying customer service reputation is very important.
    ● Very positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page.

And the updated version:

Highest quality pages are created to serve a beneficial purpose and achieve their purpose very well. The distinction between High and Highest is based on the quality and quantity of MC, as well as the level of reputation and E-A-T.

What makes a page Highest quality? In addition to the attributes of a High quality page, a Highest quality page must have at least one of the following characteristics:

  • Very high level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
    ● A very satisfying amount of high or highest quality MC.
    ● Very positive website reputation for a website that is responsible for the MC on the page. Very positive reputation of the creator of the MC, if different from that of the website.

 

 

And for Low Quality Pages…

This entire section on low quality pages has been updated.  Some was removed as it was replaced with something more concise, while other areas were expanded, particularly around reputation and beneficial content.

Low Quality Pages

The first paragraph has been updated completely.

This was removed:

Low quality pages are unsatisfying or lacking in some element that prevents them from achieving their purpose well. These pages lack expertise or are not very trustworthy/authoritative for the purpose of the page.

And it was changed to this:

Low quality pages may have been intended to serve a beneficial purpose. However, Low quality pages do not achieve their purpose well because they are lacking in an important dimension, such as having an unsatisfying amount of MC, or because the creator of the MC lacks expertise for the purpose of the page.

Here is the reference to beneficial purpose once again.  But this time it also concedes that sometimes these pages were intended to serve a beneficial purpose but something on the page – or missing from it – means it is still low quality.

Google has removed the possibility that some pages that meet their “low quality pages” criteria might not be considered low.  Now, raters must always rate a page as Low – or Lowest – if any one or more applies.

Here is what the section used to be:

If a page has one of the following characteristics, the Low rating is usually appropriate:

  • The author of the page or website does not have enough expertise for the topic of the page and/or the website is not trustworthy or authoritative for the topic. In other words, the page/website is lacking EAT.
    ● The quality of the MC is low.
    ● There is an unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page.
    ● MC is present, but difficult to use due to distracting/disruptive/misleading Ads, other content/features, etc.
    ● There is an unsatisfying amount of website information for the purpose of the website (no good reason for anonymity).
    ● The website has a negative reputation.

And here is the new revised version:

If a page has one or more of the following characteristics, the Low rating applies:
● An inadequate level of Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T).
● The quality of the MC is low.
● There is an unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page.
● The title of the MC is exaggerated or shocking.
● The Ads or SC distracts from the MC.
● There is an unsatisfying amount of website information or information about the creator of the MC for the purpose of the page (no good reason for anonymity).
● A mildly negative reputation for a website or creator of the MC, based on extensive reputation research. If a page has multiple Low quality attributes, a rating lower than Low may be appropriate.

Note that it no longer includes the reference that anonymity for some content might be appropriate.

Lacking Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness (E-A-T)

This section has been completely rewritten, and was formerly section 6.5.

Removed:

Some topics demand expertise for the content to be considered trustworthy. YMYL topics such as medical advice, legal advice, financial advice, etc. should come from authoritative sources in those fields, must be factually accurate, and must represent scientific/medical consensus within those fields where such consensus exists. Even everyday topics, such as recipes and house cleaning, should come from those with experience and everyday expertise in order for the page to be trustworthy.

You should consider who is responsible for the content of the website or content of the page you are evaluating. Does the person or organization have sufficient expertise for the topic? If expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness is lacking, use the Low rating.

Revised:

Low quality pages often lack an appropriate level of E-A-T for the purpose of the page. Here are some examples:

  • The creator of the MC does not have adequate expertise in the topic of the MC, e.g. a tax form instruction video made by someone with no clear expertise in tax preparation.
    ● The website is not an authoritative source for the topic of the page, e.g. tax information on a cooking website.
    ● The MC is not trustworthy, e.g. a shopping checkout page that has an insecure connection.

 

User Generated Content Guidelines

It also made some slight changes to the user generated content section of this, and now specifically includes references to social networking pages, video sharing sites, and wiki-type sites.

Old version:

User-generated websites span the Page Quality rating spectrum. Note that in some cases, contributors choose their own topics with no oversight and may have very poor writing skills or no expertise in the topic of the page. Contributors may be paid per article or word, and may even be eligible for bonuses based on the traffic to their pages. Depending on the topic, pages on these websites may not be trustworthy.

New version:

Note: Websites with user-generated content span the Page Quality rating spectrum. Please pay careful attention to websites that allow users to publish content with little oversight, such as social networking pages, video sharing websites, volunteer-created encyclopedias, article sharing websites, forums, etc. Depending on the topic, pages on these websites may lack E-A-T.

The user generated content section is noteworthy, because they aren’t automatically discounting user generated content as low or lowest, but rather as something that warrants further investigation before rating it.  There are plenty of examples of high quality user generated content, but it seems the majority is definitely lacking in quality and EAT.

It has also changed the notation at the end from “Important : Lacking appropriate EAT is sufficient reason to give a page a Low quality rating.” to “Important : The Low rating should be used if the page lacks appropriate E-A-T for its purpose.”  So Google has a new distinction on EAT for the purpose of the specific page.

 

Low Quality Main Content

This section has been significantly reduced, although some of it was incorporated into new individual sections Google has added to the guidelines, so just because it is noted as removed here, doesn’t mean it was removed entirely.  But we also get our new guidance on the clickbait style titles vs actual content that Google now wants its human evaluators to call Low.

They entirely removed this part which was an example used to illustrate types of low quality content, as well as the differentiation between professional websites and those from hobbyists:

One of the most important criteria in PQ rating is the quality of the MC, which is determined by how much time, effort, expertise, and talent/skill have gone into the creation of the page, and also informs the EAT of the page.

Consider this example: Most students have to write papers for high school or college. Many students take shortcuts to save time and effort by doing one or more of the following:

  • Buying papers online or getting someone else to write for them.
    ● Including inaccurate information, such as making things up, stretching the truth, or creating a false sense of doubt about well-established facts.
    ● Writing quickly with no drafts or editing.
    ● Failing to cite sources, or making up sources where none exist.
    ● Filling the report with large pictures or other distracting content.
    ● Copying the entire report from an encyclopedia, or paraphrasing content by changing words or sentence structure here and there.
    ● Using commonly known facts, for example, “Argentina is a country. People live there. Argentina has borders.”
    ● Using a lot of words to communicate only basic ideas or facts, for example, “Pandas eat bamboo. Pandas eat a lot of bamboo. Bamboo is the best food for a Panda bear.”

 

Here Google point out that the content of some webpages is similarly created. So, where you find content like this, it should be rated as Low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill. Inaccurate or misleading information presented as fact is also a reason for Low or even Lowest quality ratings. Pages with low quality MC do not achieve their purpose well.

 

Keep in mind that we have very different standards for pages on large, professionally-produced business websites than we have for small amateur, hobbyist, or personal websites. The quality of MC we expect for a large online store is very different than what we might expect for a small local business website.

All Page Quality ratings should be made in the context of the purpose of the page and the type of website.

Important : Low quality MC is a sufficient reason to give a page a Low quality rating.

The very much abbreviated version of this section has specifics to clickbait:

The quality of the MC is an important consideration for PQ rating. We will consider content to be Low quality if it is created without adequate time, effort, expertise, or talent/skill. Pages with low quality MC do not achieve their purpose well.

In addition, please examine the title on the page. The title of the page should describe the content.

Exaggerated or shocking titles can entice users to click on pages in search results. If pages do not live up to the exaggerated or shocking title or images, the experience leaves users feeling surprised and confused. Here is an example of a page with an exaggerated and shocking title: “Is the World about to End? Mysterious Sightings of 25ft Sea Serpents Prompt Panic!” as the title for an article about the unidentified remains of one small dead fish on a beach. Pages with exaggerated or shocking titles that do not describe the MC well should be rated Low.

Important : The Low rating should be used if the page has Low quality MC.

 

Unsatisfying Amount of Main Content

Here there is a small change, but it does make a evaluator aware that there is a difference between the amount of content for the purpose of the page.

Old version:

Important : An unsatisfying amount of MC is a sufficient reason to give a page a Low quality rating.

New version:

Important : The Low rating should be used if the page has an unsatisfying amount of MC for the purpose of the page.

 

Lack of Purpose Pages

This is a very important area, Google stating that  “Some pages fail to achieve their purpose so profoundly that the purpose of the page cannot be determined. Such pages serve no real purpose for users.”

Pages that Fail to Achieve Their Purpose

This is another section that was reorganized and rewritten.  Here is the updated version:

Lowest E-A-T

One of the most important criteria of PQ rating is E-A-T. Expertise of the creator of the MC, and authoritativeness or trustworthiness of the page or website, is extremely important for a page to achieve its purpose well.

If the E-A-T of a page is low enough, users cannot or should not use the MC of the page. This is especially true of YMYL topics. If the page is highly inexpert, unauthoritative or untrustworthy, it fails to achieve its purpose.

Important : The Lowest rating should be used if the page is highly inexpert, unauthoritative, or untrustworthy.

No/Little Main Content

Pages exist to share their MC with users. The following pages should be rated Lowest because they fail to achieve their purpose:
● Pages with no MC.
● Pages with a bare minimum of MC that is unhelpful for the purpose of the page.

Lowest Quality Main Content

The Lowest rating applies to any page with Lowest Quality MC. Lowest quality MC is content created with such insufficient time, effort, expertise, talent, and/or skill that it fails to achieve its purpose. The Lowest rating should also apply to pages where users cannot benefit from the MC, for example:

  • Informational pages with demonstrably inaccurate MC.
    ● The MC is so difficult to read, watch, or use, that it takes great effort to understand and use the page.
    ● Broken functionality of the page due to lack of skill in construction, poor design, or lack of maintenance.

Have high standards and think about how typical users in your locale would experience the MC on the page. A page may
have value to the creator or participants in the discussion, but few to no general users who view it would benefit from the
MC.

Copied Main Content

Interesting part they removed from the beginning of this section is the comment that “Every page needs Main Content.”

They also combined the two sections “Copied Main Content” and “More About Copied Content”, although it is nearly identical.

They did remove the following:

If all or most of the MC on the page is copied, think about the purpose of the page. Why does the page exist? What value does the page have for users? Why should users look at the page with copied content instead of the original source?

That is a curious part to remove, since it is a valid way to determine if there is any way the content has value despite being copied or syndicated.

Auto-Generated Main Content

This section was renamed from “Automatically-Generated Main Content”, perhaps to change it to match industry lingo.

This section is primarily the same, but added “Another way to create MC with little to no time, effort, or expertise is to create pages (or even entire websites)” to the first paragraph.

 

 

 

Conclusion

There is a lot here as you can see, but for me the main point is that a page should be USEFUL and be WORTH READING.

Curiously though, the guidelines do not state that Copied Content is necessarily a bad thing. I read this as if a page uses content from another site, IF that page then goes on to Add Value then that page should not be down rated.

It also points out that there are no firm guidelines on the amount of content that should be considered as too low. BUT it does state that the length of content can be used to identify those pages as of being of the highest value…

I do hope that this information helps and thanks again for the work done by Jennifer Slegg

 

 

 

SEO in 2018 – The Gurus, Myths and Legends

There is no doubt that SEO is a continually changing beast, and one where the old practices can often not work so effectively anymore. However saying that, there are really only 4 things that can affect a sites rankings

  • Content
  • Links
  • Technical SEO
  • Social Media

To make things worse, Google does not tell you all the ‘signals’ that is uses to decide what to rank first. It is said there are some 200 of these, but NO ONE knows all of them, and even if they did, Google keeps changing them and their ‘weighting’.

Google and the SEO Arms Race

Seo and Google

Seo and Google

In the early days, the number of factors (signals) used was quite low, and thus it was fairly easy to manipulate the ranking of a page. The main one of these was LINKS, this being the source of Google’s Page Rank. In  those heady days, it was said to be possible to rank a blank page for a term, just using the power of links.

The power of links was still powerful in the days of the US president W Bush, and it is suggested that a so called ‘Google Bomb’ was used by his detractors to get the term ‘miserable failure’ linked with a page about Bush on the White House website. Here it is said that this term brought up the WhiteHouse site in the number 1 position on Google. Now this could well be just another myth, but it fits in with the logic of the day.

It was this sort of behaviour, together with the way SEO experts started to manipulate other items, such as keyword density and Header tags that made Google decide to change how they ranked sites. Thus in 2015, it introduced ‘Semantic SEO’, this just being a more holistic way of ranking a website and it’s pages.

This in effect meant that no single factor could dominate the others and thus website owners had to attend to ‘everything’ on their website, especially the content (where they had to make it really worth reading) if they wanted to score well.

The Guru’s

I do not propose to consider myself an SEO Guru, but do have a problem with those that are so rated. The problem is that they simply do not agree with each other on most subjects, and even when they do, their answers to a direct question are often ‘woolly’ and unclear. Saying that, they do come up with a whole host of interesting information, you just have to listen and pick the bits that seem to be true (at least in your own mind).

 

So What Can You Do

There are 4 areas that you can improve on a site.

 

Content

It has been said for many years that ‘Content is King’ and that the only way of getting Google to rank a page is to make it a really good read, providing information, entertainment or just something that people want. This means that short, duplicate or thin content is out as it will do nothing to help, and may just reduce the overall ‘Quality’ score of the website as a whole.

The latter is important, as even though each page ‘fights its own battle’ for a rank, if the site as a whole is deemed to be of poor quality (see the Technical SEO section for more on this) it will drag the page down (a good analogy is that if the page was a race horse, a bad site would cause more lead weights to be put in the horses saddle, thus handicapping it in the race.)

So, if you want to impress Google, you have to continually create content that is a good read, is of a ‘reasonable length’ (there is no exact figure here, but I always suggest 500 words as minimum) and uses as many ‘related words’ (to the main target keyphrase for that page) as it can.

Now you cannot rely just on using on the ‘right sort’ of words (we have software that will analyse the words used on the top pages for a term, but this is only an ‘aide memoir’). What you have to do is to create content that matches the ‘user intent’ behind the search query you want to rank for.

This is what Google’s Rankbrain is all about. The results it gives are far from perfect, but it is constantly gaining knowledge  (and using us as rats in the maze in the learning process) and this is something that you just have to take into consideration in SEO today.

Also, must never stuff the page with keywords (this is one of those old tactics that does not work anymore) or over use the Header tags, although again, their power has been reduced over the year.

There is another thing that content can do, and that is to create ‘User Interaction’, something that Google ‘love to see’. It is, however difficult to get people to comment on the items that you post or talk about, unless it is something really interesting or topical being discussed. However, if you can come up with content that will get some reaction from your readers, this can help.

There is more to content than just words too. Pictures and video are vital to any page that really wants to be considered favourably.

 

Links

As mentioned in previous posts, the power of links has been declining over the years, BUT saying that, I have seen again and again that links are ESSENTIAL if a site (page) needs to be ranked. For me, it is all about logic.

We know that Google uses a computer rule set to work out which page is best, and we also know that it does use links, so it makes sense that links are needed. To confirm this, you only have to look at the many sites that have good content, but because they have too few links, simply don’t get the ranks that they deserve.

What has changed however is the way that Google ‘looks’ at links. The first and most important thing to bear in mind is that having too many links that use the ‘money phrases’ (the terms you want the site to be found for) in their anchor text will cause Google to down rank the page.

The same goes for having links from a narrow list of sites, because Google likes to see what it terms as a ‘natural linking structure’, which in turn means links from many different domains, all using a variety of anchor text phrases.

However, that is not the end of the matter, as besides just looking at where the links come from (domains that are more relevant being more highly regarded than the others) and the anchor text they use, today Google also looks at the domain that link to the domains that are pointing to your site. This has led to a change in the way that links are built, as now it is necessary not only to build links to a site, but also to build links to those links, this being termed ‘Power Linking’. All of which adds to the costs.

 

Internal Linking

Internal links are a very effective way of pointing both users and the Search Engines to the best page on your site on a particular topic and should be used in the content of your pages wherever it is logical so to do.

You can also use Canonical Tags for this, but this is normally just there for the Search Engines when you have lots of pages about the same thing and want them to just look at one.

Links are however not just a one way thing, and some SEO Gurus also suggest that linking OUT to other interesting and relevant sites from a page is also necessary.

 

Technical SEO

This has become a hot topic lately, as Google are now placing even more emphasis on the speed of a site, because more people are accessing the web from mobile devices (these  having a lower bandwidth and thus need a site to be as fast as possible). This is what is behind the ‘Mobile First Index’, Google now assessing sites as to how well they look and work on mobile devices, considering those that do as being better than those that don’t.

This means that you have to have a Fast site and one that is Useable on the smaller screens found on smartphones and tablets.

There is also the matter of using Structured data markup HTML, although in my experience, it is hard to get most web designers to use it. There are firm SEO benefits, as if you have an appropriate site (some areas do not fit in well with the use of Rich Snippets) then using a markup system like JSon can get you some interesting very high profile listings on the Search Engines.

 

Social Media

Before we go on, we have to say that in the past, Google has said that it does not take into account Social Signals when deciding what to rank. In the end you have to either decide to ignore this statement  (and some of the research in to how Social Media does positively affects SEO) and use Social Media, or just not bother.

If you believe that Social Media will help with your SEO you need to bear a few things in mind.

  1. Getting mentions (so called signals) for a URL can boost its rankings
  2. You should also get these signals for those URL’s that are linking to your site
  3. You can get mentions by either ‘buying them’ (but please just use reputable sources) or that you can ‘earn’ them by creating the great content we mentioned above and ‘spreading the word’ about it using your own Social Media channels.

 

Conclusion

The ‘old SEO methods’ are not dead, just not as powerful as they were. However they are still very much needed as Google is still using them in the ‘mix’.

So, don’t forget to optimise your pages, or to create those links (and social signals), BUT DO bear in mind what your users want and require and write your content accordingly.

Local SEO – The way forward for many small local companies

Local SEO – The way forward for many small local companies

Local SEO

Local SEO is crucial in 2018

 

Why Local SEO is becoming so important?

The fact of the matter is that things are changing because of one thing, the growth of the use of Mobile Devices, especially Smartphones to access the Internet. The figures are quite startling when you look at them, from 41% in 2016 to over 61% in 2017.

Smartphones and Internet Search

How People use Smartphones to Search the Internet

When you then consider that most smartphone searches are related to immediate / local needs you can see why appearing on that Google Search screen has become more important, YOU NEED TO BE THERE to get that all important click (and the business that comes with it).

You also have to consider that when you search on a Smartphone you automatically get local results (Google after all knows where you are) instead of having to ‘manually signal’ i.e. use a geographic term along with the search phrase (i.e ‘Security companies Hereford’ rather  than just ‘security companies’. The latter, when used on a Smartphone automatically giving you local results for Hereford (as long as of course  you are in Hereford at the time of the search).

 

So What Makes Google Choose One Site Over Another?

The first thing to remember is that Google uses different signals to decide who to list in the Local SEO (the map section at the top of listings that is often shown) than the standard Organic Listings.

The Six Local Pack Ranking Factors

  • Proximity of the address used in your Google My Business (GMB) listing
  • The quality of the GMB listing, photographs, details of services etc
  • The linking structure for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The On Page SEO of the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The number of Citations for the website mentioned in the GMB listing
  • The number of Reviews the GMB has recevied

Local SEO and Organic SEO have similarities

As you can see, it is IMPORTANT to ensure that your website is properly optimised, as many of the factors used in Local SEO are also used in the normal Organic listings. It is of course possible to get a listing in the so called 3 pack without having a website, but you are far more likely to get a position if you have a high quality optimised site linked too from your GMB listing.

How to get a Place in the 3 Pack?

Obviously the first thing you need is a Google My Business listing. You may well find that one does exist already, in which case you need to ‘claim it’ a process that can sometimes be carried out by phone, whilst in other cases Google will send you an email or a postcard.

If you don’t have a listing to claim the you must  first log onto your Google account and then vistit https://www.google.com/intl/en/business/, following the process laid out there.

Whichever process is used, you will eventually end up with a GMB listing that you can edit.

Are you listed already and if not who is?

You may also want to check to see if you are, for some reason already listed in the 3 pack, or maybe you want to find out who is. The best way of doing this is to use the Google Adwords tool, this can be found at https://adwords.google.com/apt/anon/AdPreview.

3 Pack Listing Checking Tool

See if your business is already listed in the 3 Pack

 

3 Pack Listing for Caple Security

3 Pack Listing for Caple Security

Editing your Google My Business Listing

The first thing to do is to remember to keep to the rules, these being available at https://support.google.com/business/answer/3038177?hl=en-GB.

Another set of interesting information can be found at https://support.google.com/business/answer/7091?hl=en.

What to include in your GMB listing

  • At least 5 photographs are needed, it also being important to ‘GeoTag’ them (this telling Google they are relevant to a certain location). This is an easy enough process, see https://www.geoimgr.com/ for more information.
  • Provide as much information as you can about the services you offer and your times of operation / opening.

Getting Citations and Reviews

As mentioned above, having a correctly optimised website is a key requirement to getting a 3 Pack listing, but that is a separate matter (and you can find a lot about ‘search engine optimisation’ elsewhere in this blog, so please do have a look about), this post will just cover the important area of Citations and Reviews.

Of the two, Citations are the most important, it being very possible to get a 3 pack listing with no reviews at all.

If you already have a GMB listing that is not listed in the 3 Pack AND have a fully optimised site, then this is more than likely being caused by having too few Citations, or by the fact that the ones you have are ‘confusing’ Google. This is often caused by the fact that the Citations are using different variations of your business name, address of phone number. Sometimes this is just human error, in other cases it is because your business has moved address or changed the phone number.

Whatever the reasons, having citations that all use different Names, Addresses or Phone numbers (the three together being known by the acronym NAP) can be a real killer to your chances of getting a place, so the first thing to do is to check on what citations you do have and ‘clean them up’.

If you don’t have any then fine, you can start building them up, but ALWAYS ensure that you use EXACTLY the same information on ALL of the citations you create.

Don’t forget Press Releases

Online Press Releases are also a way of helping things along, so please also consider posting these as many times as you can.

Local SEO also helps in getting business if you are not in the 3 Pack.

In some cases, you simply won’t be able to get a 3 Pack listing in the town / city you want, this for the very good reason that your office (as in the GMB listing) is not close enough to the centre of the city / town for Google to consider you as being ‘local enough for a 3 Pack placement.

One way around this is to create a ‘virtual’ office in the town that you wish to target, and whilst this, if done properly can work, it is fraught with dangers (i.e. getting your business thrown off ALL 3 Pack listings). It is therefore better to make sure that your website is fully optimised for ‘Local Searches’ as that way, although you cannot get a 3 pack listing, you can get an Organic listing.

As some if the results in Google don’t have a 3 Pack to get listed in in the first place, this is really a great way to go. See below for our customers No.1 listing, one of many too.

 

Local SEO outside the 3 Pack

Local SEO outside the 3 Pack

 

I do hope that this has provided you with some useful information and please do contact us if you want more information or help with your Local SEO / 3 Pack problems. We are here to help!

Why You Should Care About Google Lighthouse

Lighthouse is an Open Source tool that effectively audits web pages and applications to enhance the quality of them. The audits are conducted to measure a variety of areas of a website and webpage. For one, it focuses on performance. The other areas it focuses on include the accessibility and the best practices in order to figure out how the entire user experience scores and whether or not there are any specific problems with it that can detract from a good end-user experience. Below, we will be going over some of the reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse.

Reasons You Should Care About Google Lighthouse:

1. Receive Actionable Advice.

One of the main reasons you should care about Google Lighthouse is due to its unique ability to offer you actionable advice from real data that can help you boost your end-user experience. You are going to get presented with all kinds of data that can help you improve your website in total. Not only will you be able to get the metrics that mean something, but you will also get an actionable report that includes information regarding the most technical aspects of your entire website including CSS selectors, DOM elements, and even the entire infrastructure set up that your website is built on.

2. It’s Built By Experts.

Another good thing that comes from Google Lighthouse is derived from it being uniquely built by the best experts at Google. The engineers that built the performance tooling software have a deep understanding of browsers and what matters inside because they effectively build them. Therefore, you know that they have the greatest expertise when it comes to auditing a website because they fully understand the inner workings of the browser and search engine experience as a whole. They also have direct access to API creators which can help them with both benchmarking and accurate tracking.

3. Measure a Website’s Speed.

When it comes to measuring a website’s speed, there is no better way to go about it. The fact is, the speed of your website is crucial in today’s mobile dominated marketplace. As more consumers change to using their mobile devices rather than traditional desktop or laptop computers, it is becoming increasingly important to maintain as fast of a speed as possible. Everything can affect a website’s speed including the response time, animation time, idle time, and even load times. Thus, you will need to have the proper analytics on each to see where improvements can be made, where they should be made, and if they need to be made in the first place. Being able to use tools like this to help measure website speed can be a game-changer for optimizing your end-user experience.

For anyone that is looking to improve their end-user experience, Lighthouse is an invaluable collection of tools. Not only will you be able to get quantifiable and actionable metrics, but also having actionable advice laid out in an easy to understand way which can help you make the proper adjustments and corrections to your web app or website to improve the end-user experience.

 

Lighthouse is Google’s free, open source, and automated site monitoring tool. It can help ecommerce businesses track site load times, accessibility, and search engine optimization.

Lighthouse is available in a few forms, including via current versions of the Google Chrome web browser.

An ecommerce owner or manager simply opens Chrome’s developer tools by alt-clicking anywhere on a web page, selecting “Inspect,” and then opening the “Audits” tab to find Lighthouse.

Lighthouse is available under the “Audits” tab of Chrome developer tools.

When an audit is run, Lighthouse will load the target website several times as it gathers information about site structure, tags, and performance. The tool puts a premium on mobile, so Lighthouse does its best to emulate a smartphone, even throttling the network connection to something like 3G and testing the page offline.

Improving Your Site

Lighthouse is meant to “help you identify and fix common problems that affect your site’s performance, accessibility, and user experience,” according to Google.

Put another way, the world’s largest search engine wants to use its extensive experience to give your company advice. Followed intelligently, Lighthouse’s findings could help your online store improve, and, perhaps, become easier for shoppers to find and use.

Lighthouse provides a score for each audit category and then offers actionable feedback to improve your site.

A Lighthouse audit will provide five categories of feedback, each with a ranking of zero to 100.

  • Performance. How quickly your site loads or how quickly key elements become available to users on mobile. This audit is based on several data points including when the first elements are painted and when the page becomes interactive.
  • Progressive Web App. Based on the progressive web app basic checklist, Lighthouse looks for your site’s level of completeness. Google is emphasizing PWAs, which improve mobile performance and may boost search engine rankings.
  • Accessibility. This score is a weighted average of about 35 accessibility traits. Accessibility is one of the most important things online merchants can monitor; it is very helpful to have this built in. Not providing an accessible site might be illegal.
  • Best Practices. Checks for the use of current web development best practices, such as employing HTTP/2.
  • SEO. Audits nine search engine optimization basics. This is significantly less thorough than some third-party SEO audit tools or extensions, but it can still help your business get an idea of how it will perform in Google and other search engines.

Usable Results

In many cases, Lighthouse provides details a business can use to improve its site.

As an example, a Lighthouse audit of Walmart.com conducted on May 7, 2018 found a few accessibility errors, including an iframe without a title attribute. Lighthouse points out that this missing title could make understanding the page relatively more difficult for shoppers using a screen reader and shows the specific iframe tag in question.

Lighthouse’s feedback is often specific enough to take action and improve your score.

Armed with this information a Walmart developer could add the required title attribute and improve the site’s accessibility.

Similarly, a Lighthouse audit of Kohls.com on May 7, 2018 identified several CSS declarations not used. The tool pointed to the specific style sheets in question and estimated how many bytes of data Kohl’s might save if it edited this CSS.

Kohl’s might save a few bytes by removing unused style declarations.

Read more: https://www.practicalecommerce.com/google-lighthouse-monitor-site-performance-seo-accessibility

 

SEO Is A Marathon – Not A Sprint

There is a common mistake that many new website owners make, and it’s about the concept of SEO (Search Engine Optimisation). For the most part, those who don’t have experience with it believe it’s something you do once or twice, then you forget about it. In reality, SEO is a consistent practice. So, it is in every website owner’s best interest to understand that SEO is all about the long haul and that it’s not going to be instant. That means all the experts promising you higher overnight rankings are not being completely truthful.

Now you might be wondering why you need to constantly tweak your SEO strategy? Or maybe there’s a shortcut you can use? In order to find out the answers, keep reading.

Why SEO Is A Marathon

The best way to explain why SEO is like a marathon is to look at the way search engines operate. If you were to compare how Google operates now, and what it was like ten years ago, you would notice a dramatic difference.

This is because search engines never stop adapting to the habits of their users. Instead, they continue to add and fine-tune technology in such a way that users become completely dependent on their services.

And you can bet your site the changes will never stop. Because the more people get comfortable with something, the more they search for change.

What does this all mean to you exactly? Well, with SEO you are trying to make your site more visible. And getting to the first pages are definitely possible, but there are many variables involved.

Not only do you have to keep the changing algorithms of search in mind, but you have to stay up-to-date with trends and your competition. Everything will be changing around, getting more focused towards making users happy, which means you need to keep changing if you want to stay relevant.

The Current Situation

As it stands, search engines make it pretty obvious what they want from websites. And by doing a little research, you’ll learn all about these requirements, ranging from informative content to page loading speeds.

Once you have all these areas covered according to the set requirements, it becomes a matter of maintenance. So, no, you won’t have to do a massive amount of work each day, but there are certain things that need to do to stay consistent. For example, posting quality content two or three times a week, makings sure the site is responsive, check for important software updates, etc.

Basically, everything you do can be considered a step towards the next thing that needs to get done. And if you take the right steps, it’s a lot easier to maintain an SEO campaign.

SEO Takes Time

Another tough reality is the fact that SEO takes time to show results. Don’t expect things to happen in a day or two, because there are simply no guarantees involved and you don’t control all the variables.

All you can do is think smart and do the work. And if you really want to take a shortcut, the best way to save loads of time is to work with a professional.

 

Clients can often make tough demands but some of these are literally impossible, such as being able to block a specific country from viewing a particular webpage…

Ah, clients. We love them. They are our bread and butter and helping them realise their search goals is naturally what we’re all about. Of course, helping them understand what their search goals actually are – or should be – is another kettle of fish.

Read four of the most common yet misguided client requests below.

1. We want to rank top in Google for ‘biscuit news’ but we don’t actually want to mention biscuits in the content

If only this was possible! Actually, on second thoughts, no. Could you imagine the state the web would be in if optimisation really worked like this? It all goes back to search intent – if content does not meet user expectations then search engines such as Google will not present it to them. You can’t trick engines by mentioning something in a headline but talking about something entirely different in the body – they are much, much cleverer than that. In fact, since 2017 Google et al have been demanding to see even more relevant detail in body copy than ever before. Deep diving into a topic and its associated interests is really what it’s all about.

2. We need to rank #1 for this keyword by next week

Perhaps the most common request of all. And in our heads we’re thinking, “Of course you do – but so do 500+ other websites.” Lots of clients I’ve come into contact with do not consider SEO to be a time-consuming process – most seem to be under the impression that adding a smattering of big number keywords to a page will work itself out because “Google will do the rest”. No. It. Won’t. Even a new Telegraph webpage, which comes from a domain of longstanding authority, can take weeks or even months to settle.

But expecting to rank at number one – even without a given timeframe – is a mistake. It could be that the client’s website is not authoritative enough to land a page-one slot or that the keyphrase they’re gunning for is so competitive and far removed from conversion opportunity that it would be a pointless exercise.It’s also worth pointing out that search engines can rank and un-rank content without obvious reasons so even if your efforts are improving client ranks today, tomorrow might be a different story. Clients should therefore be encouraged to take the long term view and create content pieces that will enable them to build authority in the relevant field. Targeting keywords big and small is essential – those long-tail keywords, that are cheaper and “less popular” are actually often closer to points of conversion and should be considered “low hanging fruit”.

3. I need every trace of this webpage wiped from the internet by X date

This demand crops up when clients are working to specific campaign timelines, meaning certain messaging or detail can expire on certain dates. It’s understandable, therefore, that pages or content marketing efforts which feature this detail will need to be edited or removed from the front and centre.

Unfortunately, a page that goes live on the web cannot simply be erased with the push of a button. Certainly, we can delete pages from a content management system and yes, we can redirect old links into new destinations on servers, but we cannot control search engine indexes, old social posts that refer to content pieces and any other platforms that may have lifted the content and re-published it on their end.

If content detail is so sensitive to a client’s marketing schedule then discussions should be had at the beginning to manage expectations.

Read more: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/spark/marketing-guides/funny-seo-requests-from-clients/

 

Importance Of Fast Loading Web Pages For SEO

Page speed is often confused with ‘site speed.’ Page speed is actually the time it takes for a webpage to load and fully display its available content. With that being said, page speed is a crucial element when it comes to both SEO and user satisfaction. Not only will you be able to get your website to rank better in the search engines, but it will help you convert more of your traffic as well. Below, we will be going over why fast loading web pages are so important.

Why Fast Loading Web Pages Are So Important For SEO:

1. Optimization.

One of the biggest reasons it is so crucial to achieving a fast loading web page is because of optimization purposes. Search engines want to provide the best experience for their own users. Thus, in order to effectively do so, they need to ensure that the websites they are ranking high within the search engine ranks are well optimized. Having a fast loading web page is one of the biggest indicators of having a well-optimized website.

2. Mobile Responsiveness.

Another reason why having a fast loading webpage is so important for achieving a high ranking within the search engines is because it means that your website is mobile responsive. Because a majority of the traffic now comes from mobile devices, search engine providers are making a concerted effort to boost the rankings of websites that adhere to this trend. Thus, if your website is not fast loading or if it is unoptimized for mobile traffic, you are bound to experience some sort of penalty within the search engine ranks.

Now that we have gone over some of the main reasons it is so important to have fast loading web pages, we will be going over some of the top ways to achieve it.

Ways To Achieve Fast Loading Web pages:

1. Compression.

One of the best ways to achieve faster load times for your web pages is by enabling compression. By reducing the overall size of your CSS, HTML, and Java files, you will be able to make your web pages load at a much faster overall rate.

2. Reduce Redirects.

Another successful way to minimize load times is by reducing the number of redirects you use. Each time a page redirects a user to another page, additional time is added to the load time. Thus, by reducing this redirect pattern, you should be able to achieve significantly reduced load times. One example of a redirect could be redirecting your visitor to a mobile version of your website.

Overall, there are plenty of different ways you are going to be able to minimize the load times that each of your webpages has. By implementing the tips above, you should be able to achieve highly optimized web pages that load fast. By achieving fast load times, you will be able to boost your website’s organic rankings in the search engines and even achieve a higher conversion rate for the traffic that you do end up generating.

 

Success in search engine optimization (SEO) requires not only an understanding of where Google’s algorithm is today but an insight to where Google is heading in the future.

Based on my experience, it has become clear to me Google will place a stronger weight on the customer’s experience with page load speed as part of their mobile-first strategy. With the investment Google has made in page performance, there are some indicators we need in order to understand how critical this factor is now and will be in the future. For example:

  • AMP — Specifically designed to bring more information into the search engine results pages (SERPs) in a way that delivers on the customer’s intent most expeditiously. Google’s desire to quickly serve the customer “blazing-fast page rendering and content delivery” across devices and media begins with Google caching more content in their own cloud.
  • Google Fiber — A faster internet connection for a faster web. A faster web allows for a stronger internet presence in our everyday lives and is the basis of the success of the internet of things (IoT). What the internet is today is driven by content and experience delivery. When fiber installations reach critical mass and gigabit becomes the standard, the internet will begin to reach its full potential.
  • Google Developer Guidelines — 200-millisecond response time and a one-second top of fold page load time, more than a subtle hint that speed should be a primary goal for every webmaster.

Now that we are aware page performance is very important to Google, how do we as digital marketing professionals work speed and performance into our everyday SEO routine?

A first step would be to build the data source. SEO is a data-driven marketing channel, and performance data is no different from positions, click-through rates (CTRs) and impressions. We collect the data, analyze, and determine the course of action required to move the metrics in the direction of our choosing.

Tools to use

With page performance tools it is important to remember a tool may be inaccurate with a single measurement. I prefer to use at least three tools for gathering general performance metrics so I can triangulate the data and validate each individual source against the other two.

Data is only useful when the data is reliable. Depending on the website I am working on, I may have access to page performance data on a recurring basis. Some tool solutions like DynaTrace, Quantum Metric, Foglight, IBM and TeaLeaf collect data in real time but come with a high price tag or limited licenses. When cost is a consideration, I rely more heavily on the following tools:

  • Google Page Speed Insights — Regardless of what tools you have access to, how Google perceives the performance of a page is really what matters.
  • Pingdom.com — A solid tool for gathering baseline metrics and recommendations for improvement. The added capability to test using international servers is key when international traffic is a strong driver for the business you are working on.
  • GTMetrix.com — Similar to Pingdom, with the added benefit of being able to play back the user experience timeline in a video medium.
  • WebPageTest.org — A bit rougher user interface  (UI) design, but you can capture all the critical metrics. Great for validating the data obtained from other tools.

Use multiple tools to capitalize on specific benefits of each tool, look to see if the data from all sources tells the same story. When the data is not telling the same story, there are deeper issues that should be resolved before performance data can be actionable.

Sampling approach

While it is more than feasible to analyze a single universal resource locator (URL) you are working on, if you want to drive changes in the metrics, you need to be able to tell the entire story.

I always recommend using a sampling approach. If you are working on an e-commerce site, for example, and your URL focus is a specific product detail page, gather metrics about the specific URL, and then do a 10-product detail page sample to produce an average. There may be a story unique to the single URL, or the story may be at the page level.

Read more: https://searchengineland.com/making-website-speed-and-performance-part-of-your-seo-routine-291449

 

 

Search Engine Optimisation and Link Building in 2018

Let’s face it, SEO is considered by many to be a ‘black art’, by others to be a waste of time, whilst those who do agree that SEO is worthwhile will endlessly debate about what is good and what is bad, what tactics are ‘white’ and what are ‘black’.

“If you ask six SEO experts a question you will probably get 7 answers….”

Then again, if you turned to Google to ask them about SEO, they appear to suggest that they disagree with the concept (wanting their results to be natural and not manipulated), whilst at the same time knowing that without someone to help all the website owners ‘understand’ how to set up their sites so that Google can read them properly, they (Google) would be lost.

The Death of Link Building Announced Again (and Again and Again)

When it comes to the thorny topic of Link Building, not only do we see Google denouncing the process because it is not natural, we also see them desperate for some help in deciding what sites to list and what ones not to bother with. Like it or not Google needs links..

BUT, not all links are equal and there is definitely a way of gaining Google’s displeasure when it comes to building them. Do it the wrong way and your site is doomed, that is one of the known Google rules and is put into play all the time.

Turning to the Experts

This is why many businesses turn to the experts, as here they can rest easy, knowing their site will be built in a way that Google can read and the content will be created to suit the Search Engines and their readers alike. They will also know that the links built to their site will be created in such a way that it will not be penalised by Google. They will then expect that their site gets better rankings and more traffic. In many cases this is exactly what happens, but in some it does not, and sometimes it is impossible for anyone to discover just what has gone wrong, what appears to be working in one area, fails to do so in another…

Either way, you can be pretty sure that the website owner will not really be aware of what is going on and that there are many ways of creating a ‘buzz’ and the boost of (relevant) traffic that all website owners want.

The Key to Top Class Traffic

If you own a business which has a website, you will, I am sure, have been inundated with telephone calls and emails promising you top rankings on Google, sometimes for little cost. You will also have seen countless bits of software that will boost your site, often, they say, at the touch of a button….

Some of these claims will be by bona fide companies and of the software – particularly research software – can be useful, but what few of them will tell you is that it will be the CONTENT of the site that will win the day, both for getting traffic and for converting your visitors to customers.

The True Power of Content

So why is content so very important? This may seem to be a strange question, but many site owners do not give it much attention. They spend a get deal of time discussing format and presentation, but often give scant regard to the content the pages are to hold. So doing things this way is simply not going to work because there is nothing for Google to get its ’teeth’ into, so the rankings are poor. When (and if) a potential customer arrives, there is nothing to ‘make’ them want to buy or at least to take the relationship any further.

The correct way of approaching any market place (and the keyword market place of the web is no different) is to see what people want. When it comes to Google, this means finding out what phrases people use in the market sector which relate to your products, and thus the pages of your site that will be selling those products.

Reverse Engineering and Latent Semantic Indexing

Then you can start writing content that uses those phrases (and similar words using a technique called LSI (or Latent Semantic Indexing) – this being vital as Google gets cleverer and cleverer). You can even reverse engineer the top sites in Google for a given phrase, therefore TELLING you what words to use.

Pages written this way will not only give Google what it wants, but will also give the visitor the information that will enable them to decide if your product is for them or if you can help them solve the problem that drove them to search for help in the first place.
This content ought to include images, videos, flow charts and anything else that will help them to make a good decision (which hopefully means doing business with you).

The OTHER reason for TOP QUALITY CONTENT

Saying all this, content has another VITAL job to do in the battle for traffic and sales. Having good content will mean that others will link to the site and mention it in their Social Media postings, after all they will have good reason to, they will have something WORTH SHARING.

content is king internet concept

content is king internet concept

But, it is not always easy getting people to notice how good your copy is. The whole thing is a bit of a ‘chicken and egg’ situation. After all, your fantastic copy can’t get links until someone finds it, and reads it. Without rankings or some form of Social Media chatter, no one will ever know it is there..

Priming the Pump (and keeping the pressure up too)

This is where SEO, Paid Search and Social Media come into play. By using all or some of these systems, website owners can start the ball rolling so that people can see just how good they, and their all important copy, is.

Great Copy Required

This is where the need for the top rate copy comes in, as even though the SEO and Social Media work above will bring in the visits, if there is nothing there to grip the audience, all the time and effort will have been wasted as no sales will be made and perhaps as importantly, no one will find anything worthwhile to come back for, mention or link to.

Without these mentions and links Google will not get the signals it wants to give the site repeatedly better rankings and thus more effort is needed to keep things going. If, however, there is something to ‘write home about’ then the links will come in, your site / product will be mentioned on Social Media, and what is more you will get repeat visits.

Are you Getting Returning Visitors?

This is just one area where Google Analytics can help. Just as having lots of New Visitors is good, a low percentage of Returning visitors indicates that you site is not delivering and people are not coming back for more.

 

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

Are you getting a high enough level of returning visitors?

If your site is one with a poor level of returning visitors, then a long hard look at the contents is a must…

The Different Processes of SEO

The term Search Engine Optimisation covers a host of things, usually divided (basically) into Technical, On Page, Off Page and Social Media.

Technical SEO

This covers the way a site is built, how fast it is, how easy it can be read and navigated as well as topics like Rich Snippets and Schema. Some of this is easy to do, some of it a bit more difficult, and not all website developers or SEO professionals cover all of these areas.

On Page SEO

Here we are talking about the words on the pages and the placement of the ‘target keywords’ in the important places on the page, all with a view of ensuring that Google finds what it needs in the ‘appropriate places’ on a sites’ pages. Of course this includes the copy / content of a site, but that is not SEO.SEO is how you make sure that the copy is found, not the actual copy itself (except that SEO will help you find out what to talk about in the first place via the Keyword / Market Research phase).

Off Page SEO

This area covers the issue of Links (and to a degree Social Media). It is these ‘signals’ that attract Googles attention and that will get the rankings and ‘seed’ traffic needed. Creating links also helps to keep the pot boiling while the site builds up its momentum.

Social Media

This is included here because even though this is nothing to do with SEO per say, it is important when considering the process of getting the site, brand and product noticed and talked about in a way that will enhance the site in Google’s eyes and extend the reach of the site beyond that of the Search Engine Results.

The Basic SEO process

In all cases it is necessary to carry out the keyword research so that you can target the phrases that are relevant to your market place AND are being used today.

The site must then be built the right way (the technical SEO bit), and then the copy created. This should be of a high quality, but does not have to be as good as it has to be for ‘Top Notch SEO’, for reasons that will be apparent later. Things such as internal linking should be carried out of course, but basically this is a ‘quick’ method of SEO.

Then the link building starts. These are built in the right way at the right speed, using techniques like ‘Power Link Structures’. Social Media signals are also created using this method. In some cases the pump is also primed by actually creating a small amount of traffic to some of the articles and posts that form a part of the linking structure.

Guest Posts Are Used in the quick method too

Guest posts are included in the ‘quick’ method too of course, but they are used differently. As you will see later on, the ‘proper way’ of placing Guest posts is to find a top Infuencer site, chat to them and get them to accept the post (or pay an lot of money for the privilege). However, this process is a LOT more expensive than just placing an article on a relevant site, so for those clients with limited budgets this is the way we go. Basically, these Guest Posts are ‘link vehicles’ and as long as they are well written (no article spinning here at SOM) and contain links that are not going to trigger a Penguin penalty, they do help, we have many examples  the prove the point.

Carrying out SEO in this manner DOES work and is the way the majority of SEO companies work.

The Top Quality SEO process

If you talk to those SEO professionals who practice only the whitest of white SEO, then they will say this is the only way, everything else being a waste of time. Well I disagree with that, but there is no doubt that this process is superior and offers a greater chance of success, BUT, it is a lot harder and thus more expensive in time and money.

This process includes all the On page SEO that Basic SEO requires, including things such as having explanatory ‘Category Pages’ for Ecommerce sites. These are needed as most sites of this type have lots of product pages that (a) often use the same words as a host of other sites and (b) are also often far too short. Thus these Category pages allow the owner to present the products they sell, with links of course to the product pages themselves. These pages can be much better at getting rankings and thus their use should be seriously considered for all levels of SEO.

Power Pages

Remember, this whole process is based on having TOP QUALITY content on your site. Such pages are often called ‘Power Pages’, their contents varying from ‘How to do something’ to a great infographic, anything that would be interesting to visitors and has not been done before (or at least as sufficiently).

Text based Power Pages need to be around 2,000 words long and contain images, videos and links to other authoritative content on the web, PLUS of course the areas in your site that you want people to see and the pages that will result in conversions and sales. Infographics can be just that, but having some words on the page as well can help in my opinion (just as having a transcript of the words used in a video can).

What to Create the Power Page About

The Keyword Research for the site would of course have been carried out first, so the target phrases are known and understood. Using these words, the bulk of the site, (the ‘normal’ pages) will be written and optimised, this including interlinking relevant pages (Google likes this).

Power pages, however, have a different mission. Their job is to get noticed BIG TIME, to become a fount of knowledge and a ‘go to’ source of information on a particular subject (relevant to the products and services of the hosting website). With this in mind it is easy to see that the very first thing you have to know is what subject to write about.

Research into Trends (or try to start one yourself)

This is where checking on trending posts and web pages can be a great help, as it allows you to see what people have become interested in over a period of time (which you can set). You can then have a look at these posts / pages and use them as a basis of your own works, all in the knowledge that people are INTERESTED in the topic.

finding trending topics

 

Of course you can also plough your own farrow, choosing a topic that is relevant to your market place, for instance ‘What is the History of Plastering’ or ‘How to choose the right lawnmower’. There are countless topics to choose from. Besides Kudani, you could also use Buzzsumo.

Writing the Page

Either way, you can start your research into what to talk about, and that will mean looking not only at the trending sites, but also at all the top INFLUENCER sites, in this instance the ones that are at the top of the Search Engines’ results for some top terms.

All the while it is vital to make sure that the page will be ‘entertaining’ and fulfil one of its main purposes, that of being WORTH SHARING.

Note, for a great definition of what an Influencer is, click this link.

Supporting Guest Posts

One important part of this SEO process is to make sure that there are links to the Power Page from trusted sites, but as it can take some time to get an INFUENCER to mention the page or allow a Guest Post on their site, the first thing that needs to be done is to place a well written ‘taster’ post on a High Domain Authority site.

Thus one post (perhaps more) is written and placed on some relevant sites. In most instances this means paying a ‘publishing fee’. Here I must state that there are some SEO’s who think that placing a post on a site that is known to take money for the privilege is worthless. However when you know that high profile sites like the HuffingtonPost take money for Guest posts, you can see that their argument holds little water.

Converting the Influencers

This starts at the website level, where some selected sites are contacted with a view to them mentioning the Power Page or by having a Guest post placed on their site. It need not contain a DO FOLLOW link as we are after traffic as much as link juice, but if they will allow a FOLLOW link then all the better.

It is best if these influences have been contacted and nurtured for some time before you make a request to place a guest post on their site (this also being the case with Social Media Influencers).
Hopefully one of the sites you contact will allow the publication and thus provide you with a link and the potential for a lot of relevant traffic.

Create a Press Release

Press Releases are a well known way of creating a ‘buzz’ in a manner in which Google approves. All the posts are the same of course, but as the links are always NO FOLLOW this does not matter. Google, it is said, really loves press releases and so one pointing to your power page and telling all about how interesting it is and how they should not miss it, is a good idea.

Posting on your Own Social Media Channels

Presuming you have some Social Media accounts, now is the time to start posting about the power page, (although maybe you have been talking about it coming for a few weeks already – another neat trick). Remember that you will have to post again and again here, Social Media posts being, for the most part, short lived, as they are soon replaced with the next tweet and thus scroll off peoples screens. This makes choosing the right time to post important too.

Contacting the Social Media Influencers

Now is the time to start contacting the Social Media Influencers. There are various ways the leaders in a field can be found and once found the ‘nurturing process’ needs to be continued. This process needs to have been started before the power page is posted, the SEO Agency in question having to have commenced this process some time before.

The idea here is to mention that they may be interested in the Power Page’s contents, perhaps also mentioning the Guest Posts that have already been posted and the Press Release. All of this with the aim of getting them to ‘add their weight’ to the campaign.
This is important, as if they can be convinced to mention the power page on their Social Media accounts, the ripples will build and build, all resulting in more traffic and higher rankings.

Monitor and Interact

Hopefully you will have had some comments on your Social Media channels and on the Guest Posts (where the sites allow). It is VITAL that you monitor these and respond as that will only strengthen the whole campaign.

In Conclusion

So there we have it, a brief summary of what SEO is, and how the two main types differ. Hopefully you can see the differences between the two approaches and can understand why SEO carried out ‘by the book’ is such a long, complicated and thus expensive process.

The good news for businesses with shallower pockets is that the ‘basic SEO’ does work in most markets, you just have to choose to approach any highly competitive areas in a cleverer manner, and not try to charge headlong in to get top rankings for highly competitive keyword phrases.

Why PPC Is Still Relevant In Online Marketing – Making The Most Of Everything

There will always be challenges involved with online marketing and even when you think you have got the perfect system in place, things change and you find yourself back to square one – searching for effective ways of reaching your target audience. In other words, you have to stay current with the “here and now” if you want your online marketing campaign to produce a solid return.

However, some tactics have a longer lifespan than others. For example, word of mouth is still one of the most effective ways to spark interest in a business or product. That’s because people have a tendency to follow, and history has shown it’s a trait that will probably never change.

But, it’s definitely not the only example of marketing that remains effective, PPC (Pay Per Click) marketing is also still relevant in online marketing, and if you haven’t found success with it yet, you are maybe not using the PPC campaigns in the right places. Granted, many users have developed a sense of banner blindness and they use software to block ads, but that doesn’t mean PPC has lost its edge, it only means you have to customise your tactics.

Using another example, search engines like Google will help your PPC campaign reach the front page of search results, and statistics show this is incredibly effective. Why? Because people trust search engines. In fact, more than 80 % of people online will use a search engine to find whatever they are interested in and if you bid on the right keywords, your ad will show up right at the top.

But what about investing in SEO (Search Engine Optimisation) instead? Won’t it be more affordable? Essentially, SEO is more affordable, and it brings about great long-term results. But you are also going up against some tough competition, seeing as most website owners who are serious about their sites will also be investing in SEO. Plus, you have to take into consideration the amount it takes to reach higher rankings through SEO. There is no reason why you cannot include PPC in your SEO strategy as this will give you benefits from both. With a strong PPC campaign, you can reach the top almost instantly, while SEO as a long-term approach.

However, not all PPC campaigns are the same and some advertising spaces are just going to waste your time. Assuming for a moment that you pay a company to run a few PPC ads for you and they run those ads on sites where users love to click but they don’t convert. Or they run them on sites that have no connection with what you are selling, can you really expect to make money? Of course not, having a proper plan of action is essential so that you get a return on your investment.

Make sure that you hire a company with connections to authority sites and organic traffic. Google is a great place to start if you want to see some substantial traffic, but there is no reason why you shouldn’t or can’t try other channels. If the site running the ad has a strong online presence, you are bound to get clicks that typically turn into profit.

 

I believe artificial intelligence (AI) will be a key driver of change in PPC in 2018 as it leads to more and better PPC intelligence.

So far, I’ve discussed the roles humans will play when PPC management becomes nearly fully automated and six strategies agencies can take to future-proof their business. In this final post on the state of AI in PPC, I’ll cover the technology of AI.

Why AI took years to matter to PPC

AI has been around since 1956, and PPC has existed since the late 1990s. So why did it take until now for AI’s role in paid search to become such a hot topic in our industry?

It’s because we’ve recently hit an inflection point where, due to the exponential nature of technological advances, we’re now seeing improvements that used to take years happen in weeks.

What’s driving this is the exponential growth explained by Moore’s Law, the principle that computing power doubles approximately every 18 months. The outcome of exponential growth is hard for humans to grasp, so let me give an example that doesn’t involve computing speeds since those can be a bit too conceptual. Instead, let’s apply this doubling of speed to cars, where we can more easily understand how it impacts the distances we travel and how quickly we get somewhere.

Imagine if the first car, invented by Karl Benz in 1885 with a top speed of about 10 mph, was doubling its speed every 18 months. In 1885, we could have driven that car across a typical town in an hour. After 27 times doubling its speed (the same number of times the microchip has doubled its speed since it was invented), we could have gone to the sun in about 4 minutes. And less than 18 months later, it would take just about 2 hours to travel to Neptune, the farthest planet in our solar system. (Voyager 2 did that same trip in about 12 years.)

Because computing speed has already doubled 27 times, every extra doubling leads to new capabilities that are beyond imagination.

What exponential growth means for PPC

So, if we’ve reached the point of PPC automation today where humans and computers are about equally good, consider that the pace of technological improvement makes it possible for the machines to leave humans in the dust later this year. That’s why it’s worth thinking about the roles humans will play in the future of PPC.

And just like the first car is not the right vehicle for a flight to Neptune, the tools you used to manage AdWords a few years ago may no longer be the ones that make sense for managing AdWords today. So let’s take a look at what AI is doing to PPC tools.

The technologies driving PPC intelligence

Just like you want to know what your employees are capable of by interviewing them before hiring them, you should understand a technology’s capabilities (and limits) before adding it to your toolkit. So let’s see how artificial intelligence works in PPC.

PPC intelligence through programmed rules

Before the advent of AI as a research field in 1956, you could make a machine appear “intelligent” by programming it to deliver specific responses to a large number of scenarios. But that form of AI is very limited because it can’t deal with edge cases, of which there are invariably many in the real world.

In PPC, this would be akin to using Automated Rules to write rules for every possible scenario an account might encounter. Rules are great for covering the majority use cases, but the real world is messy, and trying to write rules for every scenario is simply impossible.

PPC intelligence through symbolic representations

Between the 1950s and 1980s, AI evolved into using symbolic systems to be able to take heuristic shortcuts like humans do. By framing problems in human readable form, it was believed the machines could make logical deductions.

Here’s a PPC problem: you’re adding a new keyword, but you don’t know the right bid to set because there is no historical data for it. By teaching the machine concepts like campaigns and keywords and how these relate to each other, we are providing it with the same heuristics we use to make reasonable guesses.

So the system can now automate bid management and might set a similar bid to other keywords in the campaign because it knows that campaigns tend to have keywords that have something in common.

Read more here: https://searchengineland.com/technology-behind-ai-ppc-289777