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

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

seo-ho-ho-card

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

What we’ve learned about SEO in 2016?

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

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

A growing industry

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

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

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

The rise of AI

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

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

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

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

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

The “Google Dance”

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

Mobile-friendly algorithm boost

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

Penguin 4.0

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

“Possum”

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

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

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

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

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

Google’s New Tweet Section. What Will It Mean For You?

We have seen Tweets in the Google Search results before, so this is not new, but I suspect that the way they are being chosen and integrated is different this time around.

Tweets Showing in Google's SERP's Again
Public domain from pixabay

From a marketing perspective though, all that matters is that it is happening and that therefore any business should start thinking that bit more seriously about using Social Media and Twitter to better effect.

As I have mentioned previously, Social Media is important for SEO too, it being an increasingly important factor in the way Google chooses what site to list. This makes Oscar Wilde’s comment “There is only one thing in life worsr then being talked about, and that is not being talked about” even truer, if for different reasons…

The other thing to take from this interesting article is that by the looks of it, the hashtag #, could be being used to selec

Google and Twitter have been teasing us with a new integration of tweets into Google search results for months, but this week they finally made the official announcement. Real-time tweets are now showing in Google search results on mobile devices with desktop integration to come soon.

The integration takes the form of a carousel that appears in search results, which lets you swipe sideways to see various tweets. It only appears on some searches, and it’s unclear how and when exactly Google decides to show them. The examples we’ve seen have been for Twitter profile searches, celebrity searches, and newsy/trendy topic searches.

The placement of the tweets in search results varies. I assume it’s based on now relevant Google feels those tweets are to a particular search. If the search is related to an event, perhaps Google will be more likely to show them toward the top while it’s actually happening. I’m only speculating.

Google isn’t saying much of anything about how it determines what tweets to show or how it shows them. It’s refusing to answer questions about this, and the blog posts from both Twitter and Google on the integration are pretty short and vague. It’s easy to understand why this would be the case. They don’t want people to game the system and abuse the feature.

It’s entirely possible that we’re only seeing the very beginning of what Google will ultimately do with its newfound tweet access. We spoke with Stone Temple Consulting’s Eric Enge about the new integration, and he believes Google will be doing a lot of experimenting and potentially evolving its use of the tweets.

Earlier this year, after Google’s deal with Twitter was announced, we had a conversation with Enge about some studies his company had conducted, including one that analyzed Google’s use of tweets at the time. There were a lot of interesting findings in those, which you can learn more about here. Now that the new integration is live, we wanted to see what Enge thought about it, and if he can see any validations or contradictions to what the study found. Here’s what he told us:

Right now the integration between Google and Twitter is quite light. Currently, it’s only visible from Smartphone devices. In addition, it’s clear that they are experimenting. For example, when you search on a name, such as “Taylor Swift”, you see tweets that she has put out there. Yet, the initial release showed tweets that mentioned her. This is typical of Google, where they experiment with different implementations to see what works best, before settling on one for the longer term. I expect this experimentation to continue.

What this means for visibility in the short term is not much at all. This process is in the very early stages. Think of this as Google proving that they can access, process, and leverage the data from the Twitter firehose. I’d expect more substantial integration sometime soon. The whole process may take months to play out.

What I’d love to see is Google do something involving personalization related to Twitter. I.e., if you share a link in a tweet, and then later search on a related topic, that particular article might rank higher in the search results. I have no way to know if they are getting enough info to implement something like this, but it would be a very cool feature for them to be able to add.

As you know, our two most well-known studies on Twitter evaluated how Google Indexes tweets, and how to maximize Twitter engagement. The current integration tests between Google and Twitter don’t really feature anything that would dramatically change the conclusions of either of those studies. I think the real story is yet to come.

Frankly, I expect both studies to change. Twitter indexing could well skyrocket, as our indexing study showed indexation rates for Tweets of just over 7%. Imagine if this jumps to 50% or more. This could be a huge deal!

In addition, the simple act of rendering tweets in search results will not create a new source of engagement, which is whether or not you are able to get displayed. In particular, how timely are you with Tweeting our news. If you are fast with this, your tweet will get far more attention than ever before.

Overall, I think this initial integration is big news because it’s the start of a process. I can’t wait to see how the rest of the story unfolds!

It does seem like Google may use hashtag searches as an indication of when users might want to see tweets. While not all hashtag searches yield twitter results, others mainly related to things that are being talked about a lot at the time do.

Under Google’s previous Twitter deal, it had a realtime search feature, which included tweets in addition to content from other services. It would be cool if they could bring content from other sources like Instagram, Facebook, etc. into the carousel, at least for hashtag searches as hashtags extend well beyond the Twittervese these days. Either way, Google’s approach seems like all the more reason to include hashtags in tweets for visibility purposes. It is unclear how often people are actually searching Google for hashtags however.

Please see the full article at http://www.webpronews.com/what-does-googles-new-tweet-section-mean-for-you-2015-05

Keeping up with SEO news

SEO is constantly changing and whilst we often hear that ‘SEO is dead’ this in fact could not be further from the truth, SEO is not dead and will be as relevant tomorrow as it was yesterday. It is all about doing it properly and understanding that it is all about the long haul and not instant results. Like anything worth doing, it takes time to nurture and develop and this is where some websites have fallen foul of Google’s algorithms because they have tried shortcuts or have used poor quality content or even linked to irrelevant or poor quality sites. Those who have not been penalised will have made use of good quality content and have backlinks to relevant high quality sites. The thing to remember with good SEO practice is that there are no quick fix shortcuts.

Nothing ever remains the same way for long in the world of SEO. The experts at Moz report that Google typically updates their algorithm between 500-600 times each year! While most of these tweaks go unnoticed, we’ve recently weathered an abundance of rewrites and changes that could affect how your company approaches your content marketing strategy. To help you stay informed about the ever-changing inbound marketing landscape, here are 7 pieces of critically-important SEO news:

1. Google is Tough on Repeat Offenders

One of the most fascinating and little-known areas of SEO news is Google penalties. When websites break Google’s webmaster guidelines with outdated tactics like buying links, they’re typically caught. The search engine responds with an official spam warning, and may eventually ban some websites from appearing in search results. Recovering from these issues can take months of hard work.

Google’s head spam fighter, Matt Cutts, recently revealed in a Q & A session that it’s much harder to come back and rank well after a second or third penalty. In fact, his recommendation for websites who are trying to improve their SEO after past use of purchase links to use the disavow tool to wipe their backlinks completely. If you’re unaffected, take this as evidence that it’s crucial to be pay attention to SEO news and avoid breaking any rules.

2. Rich Snippets Could Be Rolled Out Soon

The author photos which appear next to search results once you’ve earned Google authorship are a form of rich snippet. However, it appears the world’s biggest search engine is considering leveling the playing field. SEO News reporter Matt Southern shared that Google is currently testing the idea of including embedded images in search results, which are visible with certain searches:

Read more at http://www.business2community.com/seo/7-breaking-seo-news-updates-will-take-business-new-heights-0714317#Kq6SV0EdLVSkYhq2.99

Further reading

36 powerful link building strategies to boost SEO

5 points to remember with mobile SEO

SEO for local businesses

Not every business wants to be a multi-national, some want to offer their goods and services to a more local audience and as such, the way they run their online campaigns will be slightly different. For these businesses, having websites that can be viewed from mobile devices is essential as often, people looking for them will be using their mobile phone or tablet. Making use of local directories, local review sites, social media and local business group sites such as Chamber of Commerce, are great for getting a business known in a particular area or community. Using long-tail keywords using local geographical terms will help with the search engine listings as well. Video can be particularly useful and as many people view these from their mobiles and then share them with their friends, this is an area that should not be ignored.

Here’s a local search optimization tactic that is a staple in the repertoire of many professional SEOs: YouTube Optimization. It’s particularly effective in local search since relatively few businesses have created and published video promotions for themselves.

Before launching into the technical tips for optimizing your YouTube videos for local search, it’s worthwhile to mention the content itself. While my tips below will provide benefit somewhat independently of whatever the video is actually about, all benefit derived from the work will be magnified if the video is compelling. So, subject matter and the way it is conveyed are of primary importance. I don’t mention “quality” (although that can contribute) because there are many videos of poor production quality or low resolution that are extremely popular. The subject matter of a video and the way it’s conveyed — its “interestingness” — are more likely to determine whether people will watch it, whether they’ll watch all the way through, and whether they’ll share it with friends.

YouTube Local SEO

Some businesses simply make an ad about themselves when they do a video. While these can be informative for prospective customers, they are typically not all that imaginative (and usually not as effective as less overtly promotional videos).

A better approach would be to publish a series of brief videos over time about aspects of your industry, its products, and its services. Provide how-to videos that demonstrate how to do what you do. Obviously, if you sell a service, you won’t make money off of do-it-yourselfers, but these videos are typically more popular and will therefore convey more ranking potential to your business. They can also serve to establish you as an expert — and sometimes, when you show what’s involved in what you do, it will persuade people to pay to have it done.

Other types of videos can teach consumers about how to select the sorts of products you sell, or tell them how to discern qualities about services offered. These “public service” sorts of videos may train consumers in how to be more discerning and, in the process, train them to choose you instead of your competition. Click here to continue

Further information

5 simple steps to improve your local SEO

2013 local search ranking factors

Local SEO tips for small businesses post Panda/Penguin

 

Hummingbird May Just Give Google The Teeth It Has Always Wanted?

The Biggest Change May Not Be The One You Thought

Perhaps the biggest issue with the Hummingbird update is not the change from keyword matching to conversational / problem solving matching, but the fact that it is also increasingly going to be looking at user behaviour on Google, i.e what they did before and after finding a site in the SERPS.

Sites Rated for Usefulness (for a given search term)

I believe that they are doing this so that they can ‘rate’ a site for ‘usefulness’ i.e is it a good site in the view of the user (sites that are visited, with the user quickly returning to Google being given low scores and those where the user stays on the site / does not return given higher I presume). By the way, in case you did not know, Google get a LOT of data like this from Chrome users.

If the above is true (and I like most can only read what Google and other pundits are saying) then this also leads to another important area, one that is close to Google’s heart, that of site quality. Their ‘holy grail’ (so they say) is to make sure that the sites they list first are the best available, but they have struggled with finding a rule set that makes this happen, using the measurements above, together with improved Social Signal measurement may just bring them closer to their target.

Site Quality Will Become More Important

Again, IF the above is true, this means that site designers and owners (and SEO professionals) will be having to look far more closely at site quality in the future. This is not a new message of course, Google having been saying that content is far more important than the latest SEO trick, but now perhaps, they will be able to put some teeth behind their words. We will see.

For more info on this topic please see this interesting hummingbird article

It certainly makes interesting reading.

Making responsive web design and SEO work for your site

Responsive web design is all the rage these days but it does not always mesh well with SEO. Google would appear to like responsive design so it is a game changer when searches are conducted and sites that are not optimized for mobile devices are less likely to appear in the listings. Mobile users want fast downloads and easy navigation which responsive sites usually give. Responsive sites get better indexing and as such are higher in the listings. SEO is still important but requires a careful approach and here is some information  to help you understand it all.

google-mobile-searchAs smartphone and tablet adoption rapidly increases, so does the importance of mobile-friendly websites.

If SEO is a core component of your digital marketing strategy, having a mobile–friendly website is becoming essential.

Mobile sales have already overtaken desktop sales, and mobile Internet usage is predicted to overtake desktop internet usage by 2014. It is only logical that mobile search will overtake desktop search at some point in the near future as well.

Since 67 percent of users claim they are more likely to purchase from a mobile-friendly website, companies that rely on SEO are wise to begin making the transition to mobile-friendly websites, and responsive web design specifically.

The argument between whether to choose a responsive website or a separate mobile website is a highly debated topic. However, the truth is that both options have their pros and cons.

The option that is best for your business depends on many factors, such as the purpose of the website, the intended target audience, and whether SEO is a factor.

If SEO is a factor, here are three reasons why responsive web design is the best option for your mobile SEO strategy. Click here to continue

Further reading

Responsive web design, Google and SEO

When responsive web design is bad for SEO

How common are SEO problems with responsive web design?

Are you optimizing for mobile?

SEO is one of the keys to getting good organic rankings but with so many people accessing the internet via other devices, does the SEO have to be different now? Well the short answer is yes because what comes up in the rankings on a pc may differ greatly from those coming up on a mobile device and as mobiles are being used more and more, businesses cannot afford to be left behind. Take a look at the following information which may help you improve your rankings across the board.

 

The proportion of search traffic from mobile devices grew ever larger during 2012, peaking at 46% on Christmas Day for some retailers.

And Google probably isn’t alone in predicting that mobile search queries will soon surpass those made on desktop.

But despite the increases in traffic and paid search spend, we’ve seen evidence that show brands aren’t fully aware of how to optimise pages for mobile search.

To give an broad overview of how mobile search differs from desktop and some of the issues that sites need to be aware of, I asked three SEO experts for their advice.

This is the first in a series of posts that will examine the intricacies of mobile search in more depth…

In a nutshell, how does mobile SEO differ from desktop SEO?

Aleyda Solis, SEO and web analytics consultant

Mobile SEO differs from desktop SEO since it’s specifically targeted to the mobile search environment, taking into consideration the specific mobile user’s search behaviour and intent, and the characteristics, requirements and restrictions of the mobile web platform from a content, interface and technical perspective.

Although the principles of mobile and desktop SEO are the same, the environment characteristics and restrictions are different and in order to make the most out of the mobile search ecosystem it’s important to specifically optimize your presence for it.

Andrew Girdwood, media innovations director at LBi

Modern SEO helps digital assets, such as websites, earn the quality signals necessary to be considered appropriate by search engines for a prominent recommendation in response to a query from a user.

Modern SEO is about turning the success search to success in business; turning traffic and exposure into ROI and brand strength.

In desktop SEO the result pages, the recommendations, are complex with a variety of choices and options for the user. A sizable number of desktop searches are considered “long tail”, with multiple keywords, or entirely unique. Searchers are typically on good internet connections. Click here to continue reading

Further reading

How to best optimize your mobile site for SEO

Mobilize your SEO: making the most out of the mobile search opportunity

How to do a mobile SEO audit

Help with your mobile SEO strategy

SEO can be difficult at the best of times but if you are trying to make sure that your site is optimized for mobile users, you might find yourself sinking into a mire. There are several ways of ensuring that your site is accessible to most people and we have found some helpful articles for you.

As with most things in life, mobile search engine optimization (SEO)-the art and science of ensuring your content is easily found on tablets and smartphones-comes with a carrot and a stick.

First, the carrot. All those people browsing the Web and using apps on their mobile browsers are often highly motivated to take action-such as buy a product or service from your site. For example, Mobile Marketer estimates that 70 percent of all mobile searches result in user action within one hour. Nine out of 10 mobile searches lead to some action, and over half of the time, it’s a purchase, according to Search Engine Land. Ensuring your content is easily found by mobile users and renders well on their screens could deliver a bottom line boost.

Now, the stick. If you don’t optimize your site for mobile users, you could get left behind. According to Gartner, mobile devices are expected to overtake PCs as the most common Web-access devices worldwide by 2013, while a BIA/Kelsey report predicts mobile local search volume will surpass desktop local search for the first time in 2015.

Mobile search is big and getting bigger. Some estimates suggest that mobile search now accounts for 25 percent of all U.S. search traffic. Users are increasingly tapping keyword searches on touchscreen keyboards. They’re also asking questions of Siri, Apple’s virtual assistant that rolled out to more iOS devices on Sept. 19, and Google Now, the virtual assistant that debuted in Android 4.1 Jelly Bean.

The good news is that mobile SEO doesn’t require significant changes as compared to your desktop SEO strategies, says Vanessa Fox, author of Marketing in the Age of Google and founder of Nine By Blue, which provides search analytics software and SEO training. SEO best practices-using relevant keywords in title tags and H1 headers, developing great content that people will engage with, attracting quality links from other sites, and so on-are essentially the same with mobile and desktop, she adds.  Read more

 

Further reading

Getting your head around mobile SEO strategies

4 tips for your mobile SEO strategy

The new mobile SEO strategy

Don’t let your business miss out on mobile ecommerce

At SOM, we are always advocating the necessity to adapt your ecommerce marketing so that you do not miss out on the mobile revolution. Shopping via smartphones and tablets are accounting for an ever larger slice of the market and if your online business has not adapted, you could be missing out on rather a lot of revenue. As these mobile devices become ever more sophisticated, people are doing so much more with them, including shopping for goods and services. Now might be the time for your business to have its own revolution!

 

In the US alone, there are 120 M smartphones and almost 60 M tablets accessing the Internet, and the adoption is growing by leaps and bounds.  IDC says that worldwide smartphone shipments will grow from 494M last year to 1.6B in 2016.  And,NPD says that tablet shipments will increase to 416M by 2017.  Combined, the installed base is enormous, ubiquitous and engaging with their owners.  Investors, marketers, and companies want to know how to tap into these mobile devices and make money.  It is an opportunity and has proven to be a double-edged sword as well.  Facebook stock has been clobbered since its IPO largely on greater use of its site on mobile devices with less ability to deliver ads.

is its own “animal” and what works varies….More at Video + Tablets: The Mobile Catalyst for E-Commerce (Watch out 

 

More Reading

 

Keeping up with mobile technology in your online marketing plan

 

Recent figures revealed that more people than ever are using their smartphones to shop online. For an online business this is great news but it also means that their site must be properly constructed to all access via mobile device. Those businesses who have not kept up with technological advances will suffer. It is also important that the site is marketed towards mobile devices so that potential customers know that you are there, ready to provide them with whatever they need.

 

Smartphones and other high tech devices such as tablets are growing in popularity and with this, so is the opportunity for mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing has been something of a buzz word in online marketing circles for a number of years now, but thanks to the rapid uptake of tablet devices such as the Apple iPad, the long awaited era of mobile marketing could finally be about to go stellar.

A recent study by marketing trade website Direct Marketing News found that a staggering 70% of smartphone users welcome mobile advertisements. Those who polled positively about mobile marketing want to receive adverts on their handset.

In addition to this, analysts believe that mobile internet usage will surpass desktop internet usage by 2014. According to Ofcom, the average household now has three internet-enabled gadgets; 15% of homes have more than six. Further reports suggest that by 2014 a quarter of mobile web users will rarely, if ever, use desktop internet.

As smartphones look set to take over, it’s up to marketers to utilize these opportunities and expand their overall marketing strategy into mobile marketing.

Mobile marketing is an effective and efficient way of reaching a new demographic and wider audience.  Mobile engagement between consumers and brands is fast becoming the norm. Arguably, mobile marketing produces more results at a faster pace compared to other direct response marketing campaigns….More at Smartphones take over, and so does mobile marketing | Social

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