Category Archives: Search Results

So Many Changes to AMP Content In Google Mobile Search: Let’s Recap

AMP Platform Your Website Join In - EminentSEO

Accelerated mobile pages – called AMPs – are one of Google’s newest projects. Google’s techies created the platform to help web publishers provide content to users that loads quickly across mobile devices.

Presently, the platform maintains a large focus on news stories. In a blog post that preceded the AMP launch, Google explained the project’s original intent: Rich content, such as video animations and graphics, should work alongside smart ads and load instantly.

With the open-source AMP platform, Google hopes to consistently deliver the best experience for its mobile search users. Our culture has been trained to look for instant gratification, and Google knows that we need lightning fast, accurate information.

How AMP Content in Google Mobile Search Works

AMP content officially debuted in Google mobile search in February 2016. These articles were easy to distinguish from other formats: They appear in a “carousel” layout, allowing users to swipe horizontally between the best results. Each entry also features a lightning bolt icon and the acronym “AMP.” Users have already enjoyed the fast results, prompting more research into the platform’s possibilities.

AMP Content In Google Mobile Search Carousel - Eminent SEO

The AMP framework coincides with existing HTML coding but allows publishers to create lightweight webpages – pages that are simpler and faster because they use fewer parts. The entire project is essentially just a set of specifications, both requirements and restrictions, powered by JavaScript (although publishers cannot write their own JavaScript). CSS3 is used for customized styling, and every page is cached on Google’s servers, working like a content delivery network.

So how much faster are AMPs? With advanced coding, the median load time is a mere 0.7 seconds, according to SearchEngineLand.com. That’s incredibly quick, especially when you compare it to all other pages on the web with non-AMP coding – which average 22 seconds.

How AMP Content Is Moving Across Industries

Although similar, AMPs are quite different from traditional webpages. If website happens to offer different versions of a particular page (such as desktop, mobile and AMP versions) for different devices, your mobile search engine will always prefer the AMP material. This could be the future of instantaneous search results, and the platform’s reach is widening.

In the beginning, AMP specifically catered to news stories. It’s already transitioning, though, opening up to new companies and industries daily. Take eBay, for example. The online auction site has deployed an AMP-powered shopping experience for mobile users since June 30. It has more than 8 million queries, known as “browse nodes,” already available or in production. AMP results can be a vital part of almost any company’s marketing strategy.

EBay AMP Content Moving To All Industries - Eminent SEO

Not only is the AMP platform opening up to new industries, but other search engines are beginning to subscribe as well. Just last month, Microsoft announced that Bing has joined the open-source effort, and that it plans to treat AMP content similar to how Google indexes and features it. This means that the platform has spread well beyond Google, and that the potential reach of AMP content is only going to continue to grow.

Google Is Pushing for AMP Growth

AMPs are a game-changer, especially considering that most internet searches are now done on a mobile device more often than on desktop and laptop computers. Always at the forefront of change, Google has been working hard to increase traffic to AMP pages.

The links to AMPs look identical to others, aside from the lightning bolt logo and “AMP” label tucked along the bottom. The carousel also remains, although it’s currently unclear whether Google has plans to remove it entirely and fully combine AMP results.

In recent news, Google has started integrating AMP content into the organic mobile search results, in addition to still offering the “Top stories” carousel of AMP-only content. The AMP logo is clearly visible now in the organic search results, right where the “Mobile-friendly” label used to be – ahead of the meta description for a particular entry.

AMP Content In Mobile Organic Results - Eminent SEO

AMP Results Now Outweigh Indexed App Content

In 2013, Google began indexing content from apps, and it generally only shows up to users who already have that particular app installed. What this means is that if you conduct a search and Google finds that you already have an app that has your answer, then you would see that content show up in your mobile search results. And if you click on that result, the search engine will take you straight to your app, rather than a webpage.

While Google is still indexing app content, its mobile search engine is now favoring AMP material over “app deep links.” Google’s head of global products partnerships, Adam Greenberg, made this revelation at the SMX East conference in New York last month.

This update shows how deeply committed Google is to the AMP platform for now and the near future.  The change might leave some app developers frustrated, but nonetheless, publishers need to adjust their focus to AMPs – rather than worrying about getting app content to rank in mobile search.

Will AMP Content Help Your Website Rank Better?

As of now, Google has no plans to make AMP material a ranking factor for websites. In other words, offering AMP content won’t necessarily give your entire website’s search rankings a boost.

However, Google almost always gives AMP content page one treatment when someone uses conducts a search via mobile. So producing AMP content may be a way to boost awareness of your website, especially if you’re having trouble cracking that first page organically.

Although it may seem a bit exclusive at the moment, the goal of the AMP project is to produce efficient and fast internet content. Richard Gingras, head of news and social products for Google, told the Nieman Journalism Lab that the AMP launch is a step forward for the technological ecosystem, with a shift toward better content performance.

Why the Search Engine Change Matters

Interestingly, AMPs are hosted on their own servers when visited from a Google search. This means using the AMP platform is a bit of a give and take. You’ll receive special treatment in the form of high search results and mass availability. However, the links point to Google, or whichever search engine someone used to find your AMP content.

This a significant change from the way Google has worked in the past. Previously, the web giant was simply an index that directed visitors to other sites. Now, AMPs can keep visitors exclusively on Google properties. Companies will need to ask themselves if they’re ready for higher visibility with little to no significant increase in actual traffic.

AMPs Are Like Instant Articles – Only Better

The AMP platform is comparable to Facebook’s Instant Articles, which gives content publishers the option to embed data onto the social network. When publishers utilize Instant Articles, followers can consume content without having to leave Facebook’s app.

Many are viewing the AMP project as a vast improvement over Instant Articles, since AMPs provide more opportunities to lead users to your full website.

What About Ads in AMP Content?

Mobile Ads In AMP Articles - Eminent SEOJavaScript is generally forbidden by AMP restrictions, but there are still ways for publishers to post ads, if they’re smart. There’s an analytics tag built into AMP content, which allows creators to send information to certain providers, such as Chartbeat, Adobe and Parse.ly. They’ve been pre-screened by Google, and the data is handled by one JavaScript file (instead of one for every analytic provider). Because this speeds up the process greatly, ads can be used in a similar way.

The AMP project vets analytic information by special criteria, including performance, privacy and security. Publishers can choose to use the AMP tag, similar to the traditional tag. Sections of JavaScript can be placed on the website, although it won’t include access to the same amount of data.

Taking Advantage of the AMP Platform

Wordpess AMP Plugin - Eminent SEOAMPs are well on their way to changing the internet (or, at least, mobile search), so why not take advantage of this platform? Some WordPress plugins are already available to help you craft a concise and functional website. WordPress’s AMP Plugin, for example, automatically translates your posts’ content to these fast-loading pages, and you don’t have to enter special settings for it to work. The software automatically inserts tags, so it’s fantastic for those with little HTML knowledge.

If your team includes a web designer (or if you have some coding background yourself), it’s easy to design a custom AMP page from scratch. The project’s homepage (see screenshot below) includes a huge selection of resources too, which will help you learn how to create the content on your own. You’ll also find a technical section to learn more about how AMP works, plus code samples, source code and documentation courtesy of GitHub.

AMP Project Website Homepage - ESEO

The AMP platform in continuously growing and changing, and it’s in the news almost weekly. At Eminent SEO, we’ve been following the AMP developments closely. It might seem like a lot to take in, but we can help. If you want to understand more about Accelerated Mobile Pages, what they can do for your business, and how to optimize them, trust our expertise to guide you. Call 800.871.4130 for help with building AMP pages today!

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Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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How to Survive in the Current Organic Search Results Landscape

Organic Search Results Landscape - Eminent SEO

Internet search is a field in constant motion, with Google constantly shifting and updating the landscape to provide a more sophisticated product. One significant recent amendment to the search goliath is its update to local listings and how these appear to users on the results pages. These changes, while seemingly minute, have powerful implications when it comes to how your business is represented.

Last year, Google rolled out a new local search format worldwide. The verdict is still out on whether it will be better for businesses or for consumers – or neither. It’s all so confusing! No need to fret: Here are a few changes we can be sure of:

Organic Still Crushes

Organic Results Keep Your Eye On The Ball - Eminent SEOThe SEO firm Nifty recently performed five different search studies of both desktop and mobile platforms with the new local listing setup implemented by Google. Across all studies, organic search results performed the best, receiving nearly 50 percent of all click throughs. Compare this to average click-through rates of 25 and 24 percent for paid ads and local packs, respectively.

If you caught our previous post, it should come as no surprise that it pays off for businesses to aim for high organic rankings rather than placing too much focus on paid search engine spots and other channels, such as social media.

What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Organic results remain the No. 1 way search users are likely to click through to your website. It makes sense, because when someone searches, “I’m looking for [service] in [location],” a keyword search matching the words they type seems to fulfill their search query much better than paid ads or local results, which are essentially suggestions from Google.

Nifty took the results of its study and implemented an SEO strategy that “moved away from a laser focus on maps and really focused on growing organic traffic for phrases that show map results and phrases that don’t.” Overall, the company claims to have had great increases of traffic across all clients since the shift.

Decrease in the Local Pack

Google’s local pack in the search results used to feature seven entries. Now, it’s down to three, although the resource is more visual than it used to be.

What does this mean? For starters, featuring fewer local businesses means that your business could receive less visibility. A keyword search for “plumbers in San Francisco” will yield paid advertisements, local listings and organic search results. Of the local results, your business may show up, or it may not.

The factors contributing to when and how your business show up include the internet provider of a given user and his or her relative location. For example, two people could search the exact same keywords next door to one another and receive two completely different sets of local results in their SERP (search engine results page).

Some have speculated that the new layout is simply a way to streamline the user experience, while others have argued that it’s foreshadowing a larger Google plan to monetize local packs. Searching for different keywords will yield an even wider variety of local listings.

How to Adjust to the New Organic Search Results Landscape

Positive Reviews On Yelp And Google - Eminent SEOSo, how can you keep your business and your website relevant given all the changes to Google’s search layout? Here are a couple of good places to start:

Fill Out Your Google My Business Page Properly

Even though a link to your Google My Business page is no longer available for searchers, you can still claim your Google My Business listing if you haven’t yet.

Be sure to fill out the important details on your GMB page:

  • Add a unique, properly formatted description that includes links.
  • Choose the correct categories for your business.
  • Upload as many hi-resolution photos as possible.
  • Add a local phone number to your listing.

Earn Positive Reviews Within Google Maps

Even though they’re no longer called Google+ Reviews, the reviews on your Google My Business page are still used for local pack snippets. Users generally leave reviews by finding your location in Google Maps and then clicking on “Write a review.”

Your business card will not only include your overall review rating, but your negative reviews as well. This is especially crucial for businesses in the hospitality industry to pay attention to. Why? Because Google has added an option to filter searches to include only businesses above a certain rating, such as four stars or higher.

Pay Attention to Opening and Closing Hours

Since each local listing’s snippet now includes the business’s working hours, make sure to include correct opening hours on your Google My Business page.

Keep Earning Reviews Elsewhere

Business reviews have a direct impact on local search rankings, so you need to spend some time acquiring them. And these are not only Google reviews, but also reviews on your Yelp page and other local directory pages.

Optimize Your Storefront

At the end of the day, your spot on a search engine results page is your storefront. Getting people to see your storefront was already tough, but Google continues to keep raising the stakes.

You want to do everything in your power to get users to walk through your door. Are you getting seen? How does it look when users see you? Get started on finding out the answers to those two questions.

If you’re looking for some help on optimizing your website for search engines as well as filling out your Google My Business page properly, give Eminent SEO a try. We have several new marketing packages available to help your company rise to prominence on many fronts. Just call us today to learn more about our new offerings: 800.871.4130.

 

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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It’s Indisputable: Organic Search Results Are Better than Paid Spots

Organic Search Results Are Better Than Paid Ads - Eminent SEO

“It’s hard to remember the world before the internet.”

If you say that now, wait until five years from now when you might look back on content marketing and forget what it was like before search engine optimization became the standard.

Web marketers have watched strategies adjust over the years to include paid advertising, social media marketing and several other new tools and tactics as part of their repertoire. However, research shows that organic search still holds a vital place within a savvy content marketing strategy, and is even more effective than paying for ads that show up at the top of the search returns.

Don’t believe us? Keep reading to find out why.

Numbers Speak Loudest

Organic search still proves to be the best channel to drive traffic to your site. According to BrightEdge, organic search still accounts for 51 percent of all visitors for both B2B and B2C businesses. In fact, organic search alone commands more impact than all other non-organic traffic generators combined, including:

  • Paid search
  • Social media
  • Display ads
  • Email
  • Referral traffic

However, the team at BrightEdge found that organic search combined with paid advertising yields the best results, as opposed to either channel on its own. In the retail, technology and hospitality industries, for example, “organic and paid search combined make up over two-thirds of their total revenue.” We may see a change to these figures but, for now, organic search is still the anchor.

It’s Not the Tool that Matters, but Who Wields It

Facebook Now Drives More Traffic To News Websites Than Google - Eminent SEOSocial media has become an invaluable tool to any business wishing to grow its online presence. There has been such a powerful shift in media and publishing that Fortune magazine reported in 2015 that Facebook now drives more traffic to news outlets than Google does, accounting for 43 percent of traffic, compared to Google’s 38 percent.

Given the value of such an effective traffic generator, it is foolish to eliminate social media from your content marketing campaign. But first, consider the pitfalls of the social platforms.

When you rely on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. as your primary source of advertising, you are at the whims of the social media platform. Even though these sites drive traffic pretty impressively, they can change their rules at any time. For example, what if Facebook decides to adjust their timeline-viewing algorithm (again)? How can you assure that your content will be seen?

What if Twitter changes its advertising layout? Will your content be as accessible as it was when you first paid for your campaign?

These questions may seem like small matters to consider, but they will remain relevant as long as social media platforms strive to maximize their user experience. Remember that Facebook referral traffic only bests Google when it comes to news websites. This does not hold true for the websites of your average B2B or B2C companies.

Came for the Bread; Stayed for the Meat

The first goal of advertising is to get people to notice your product. The second goal of advertising is to get people to love your product.

Social media and paid ads do an effective job of driving traffic, but research shows that they don’t produce a “sticky” experience. In other words, people often come to your site once, and then they leave.

According to Kristine Schachinger, a marketing CEO and an author for Search Engine Watch, “If you want to sell something or gain brand awareness, social is an excellent channel. If you want people to find your store and remember you, organic is the way to go.”

Think about it: When an article or ad pops up on your news feed, you’re likely to click on it, then leave the site. Whereas with organic search, when you type in your search keywords and find a site matching your search query, you’re more likely to explore the rest of the site and remember its content.

With organic search, people start off looking a topic or product relevant to you, and their keyword search brings them to you. And if they have a great experience on your site, not only are they more likely to click around, they’re more likely to come back.

You Only Get What You Pay For, not a Penny More

Blend Of Organic And Paid Search Results - Eminent SEOWhat happens when the money runs out in paid advertising? You have to consider the following factors when choosing your content marketing campaign:

  • What to spend
  • How much to spend
  • Where to spend it

There are two basic paid channel pricing models: CPM and Pay Per Click. With CPM (cost per thousand clicks), a business is paying for the number of impressions on their ad – aka the number of times their ad gets seen. This is an effective way to allocate budget because it allows you to focus on a base price, but it doesn’t guarantee ROI.

With pay per click, businesses are charged every time an ad is clicked on. While this is a great way to measure traffic, it also doesn’t guarantee ROI, and has the added risk of overextending your finances if the number of clicks exceeds your marketing budget allocation.

Eliminating either channel of advertising result can result in a steep drop in traffic to your site, so it’s extremely important to not rely too heavily on paid advertising. Organic search allows you to capitalize on both impressions and clicks. Thus, remember to aim for strong organic rankings in addition to any search ads you might already be paying for.

Stay Flexible

With organic search, you get the added bonus of flexibility. While it isn’t a good idea to have long breaks in organic search investment, you can decrease the amount of investment you have in your campaign according to the changes in seasons.

Maybe you’re an online flower distributor, and you want to increase your paid advertising around Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day to promote discounts on flowers. Organic search allows you the added bonus of continuing your keyword-targeting strategy while also redistributing some of your marketing budget toward paid seasonal advertising.

Remember: Organic Search Results Are Better than Paid Entries

We can’t speak for the food and diet market, but when it comes to content marketing, organic isn’t just a trend: It’s a staple. A web marketing campaign that doesn’t capitalize on organic search is missing out on a foundational strategy that has proven to be effective, regardless of all of the recent changes in SEO.

Don’t forget to also take advantage of paid and social media advertising, but if faced with a choice between the three, organic will win out every time.

Need help with aiming for organic spots? Or could you use some overall consultation on your digital marketing strategy and where to best allocate resources? Start by learning about Eminent SEO’s Website Marketing services, and then give us a call at 800.871.4130 when you’re ready to hear more!

Team Eminent SEO

Eminent SEO provides strategic SEO campaigns with measurable results along with expert website design, development, pay per click, content and social media and organic website marketing. 800.871.4130.

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Google Reduces 7-Pack in Search to 3-Pack: What This Means for Local Businesses

Google's 3 Pack Algorithm Update

Among all the changes happening at Google, the tech giant made a significant shakeup in local search earlier this month that kind of went under the radar.

For starters, the company separated Google+ from YouTube, meaning you no longer have to have a G+ account to log in to YouTube. Then, Google+ Photos starting shutting down on August 1 in favor of the standalone service known as just Google Photos. After that, of course, Google announced a new parent company, Alphabet, had been created.

Lost in the midst of all of that was a potentially major change to local search results on Google. Last week, Google shrank its traditional 7-pack in local searches to a 3-pack.

What’s Changed in Google Local Search

Not only do companies with a local focus have to do everything they can to optimize their websites and end up on the first page of Google’s search results, but, until recently, a select seven businesses got an extra-special, front-and-center placement.

The Google 7-Pack Is Now the 3-Pack

When conducting a search for a local service, Google used to feature seven businesses between the paid spots at the top of the first page and the rest of the organic search results below. Those seven businesses had verified Google+ pages that were tied in to their websites, and they presumably had put the best local SEO practices in place.

However, the 7-pack has now been truncated to a 3-pack, and some of the features thereof have been simplified, if not stripped down. Let’s look at a couple of examples. If I search for a “Phoenix AC company” in Google, this is what I immediately see:
Screenshot - Google Phoenix AC Search

On the first results page, you can see the pay per click spots at the top (along with some other paid ads on the right sidebar) and then a small map and the 3-pack immediately below. There’s a slight variation to this format depending on what you search for, what device you’re using, and where you’re located.

If I’m looking for somewhere to eat and I type in “Phoenix restaurant,” I’ll get a page that has just one paid ad at the top with the first organic result appearing just above the 3-pack.
Screenshot - Google Phoenix Restaurant Search

If I wanted to be a little more specific in my search, I could type in “Italian restaurant Phoenix” and see the 3-pack at the very top with some ads on the right-hand side.
Screenshot - Google Italian Restaurant Search

Google actually used to have a 10-pack on the first page of search results at one point, so the search engine’s recent move to a 3-pack marks its second truncation of the feature. As you can see, the 3-pack’s placement on the page differs by search, as does the number of ads you see on the sidebar, and this format could change slightly as time goes on. You could search the same term in the morning and again at night and possibly see a variance of the format. Google never lets all of its secrets and rationale out of the bag.

With the change to a 3-pack, Google also brought back the “More (search term)” link right below the last business in the spotlight, as you can see in the three examples above. If you click on that link, it will take you to a map of businesses in that industry in the geographic area you searched. Each page on the map lists 20 results, with the first three listings on page one corresponding to the 3-pack.

Other Features Removed: Addresses, Phone Numbers, Google+ Links

The new 3-pack has a sleeker look than the 7-pack, but some of the information that used to be listed for each business is no longer present. Most notably missing are the full addresses and phone numbers of each business. Presumably, you could have done a search before and dialed up a business of your choosing without having to visit any individual websites. Now, the Google 3-pack encourages you to either visit the websites of the featured businesses or get directions (if applicable) to their location.

Also noticeable in the move from a 7-pack to a 3-pack is the lack of a Google+ link for each business. There’s now no easy way to get to the Google+ page of any of the three in the spotlight. In fact, if you click directly on the name of one of the three companies, it will take you to the aforementioned map.

A Couple of Features Added: Ratings, Business Hours

Google used to only show how many reviews each business in the 7-pack has received (formerly seen as “Google reviews,” now just called “reviews”), but you can now see the rating for each company out of five stars, if there are any reviews. You can also now see the business hours of some in the 3-pack, which will basically tell you what time the company opens up next or, if it’s currently open, what time it closes.

The 3-pack is also more visual than the 7-pack. Besides the snappy symbols that link to the websites of and directions to each business, you might see a photo for some of the companies on the right-hand side of the spotlight. Also, as seen in the first search example, a map might appear above the 3-pack, depending on your search. When Google had a 7-pack, a map usually appeared in the right half of the page, but it wasn’t as visually connected to the spotlight as it is with the new 3-pack.

What the Google 3-Pack Means for Local Businesses

You can bet more companies will be fighting tooth and nail to get slotted in the 3-pack, but all hope shouldn’t be lost if your business can’t quite make it in there.

First-Page Organic Search Results Expanded

When Google produced a 7-pack on page one of your search results, the number of organic, non-7-pack results shrank to 6 or 7, and all were generally below the fold. However, the number of organic results outside of the new 3-pack has been expanded to 10. It’s uncertain at this time if Google simply dropped four from the 7-pack into the organic list immediately below, but this shift may mean that there’s more room for your business to work its way onto page one. If you do make it onto the first page, a strong meta title and description is going to be key.

Google+ Business Pages De-Emphasized for Local Search?

If you didn’t have a business Google+ page before or couldn’t get it verified that it corresponds with your website, Google may no longer be holding your website hostage in the search rankings, as it looks like the company is slowly backing off holding its own social network over users’ heads. This notion still hasn’t been confirmed, so, at this time, we’d recommend keeping your Google+ business page active and continually updated. However, if it’s true that a Google+ business page no longer has any bearing on one’s search rankings, then the field would be leveled for more businesses to contend for a spot on page one, which generates around 90 percent of the search traffic.

Closing Speculation

This major local search change has got many marketers speculating what the future will hold for local businesses. By shrinking the local pack to 3 spots instead of 7, the first page of results shows only Google-approved products above the fold. Could local rankings eventually become ad placements since Google+ didn’t work out?

Share your thoughts on the future of Google local placement in the comments below! If you’d like to learn more about how Eminent SEO can boost your local marketing efforts, including optimizing your website for Google, click here.

Andrew Gilstrap

Content Manager at Eminent SEO - I enjoy writing, editing and photography. I'm here to make YOUR website read better and rank better!

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Stop Trying To Track Keyword Rankings. It’s Dumb.

Look, I get it. You are working on organic marketing and that means you are intentionally trying to get Google and the other big search engines to rank your site for what you believe are important keywords. So, why wouldn’t you want to track them?

Because it’s dumb.  Dont be a dumbass Don’t trust me?

Let me explain:

The Strategy is Flawed

There are literally 1000 or more ways an individual could go to Google and search for something similar.

For example:

Let’s say a number of people are all seeking out a great painter Arizona. Some might geo target, others might not. Some might search for a specific service, such as a stucco house painter, others may do a general search for painter. Some might seek out a painter by including an adjective to help qualify the search such as affordable or experienced, others may not.

Some specific examples of what a search query could look like:

  • Painter
  • House Painter
  • House Painter AZ
  • House Painter Arizona
  • House Painter in Mesa Arizona
  • House Painter in Mesa, AZ
  • House Painter in the Mesa Area
  • House Painter in East Mesa
  • Painter for Houses
  • Find a Painter
  • Find a House Painter
  • Stucco House Painter in Mesa
  • Stucco House Painter in Mesa AZ
  • Affordable House Painter
  • Affordable House Painter Mesa Arizona

And a million more variations.

You get my point.

Even if you use sophisticated tools, hire SEO experts and spend hours analyzing the backend data of your site, there is still NO WAY you are EVER going to know every single possible variation of each type of potential way a user could search for your business, your services, your products and your website.

Of course keyword research is still important and I absolutely recommend you have a solid strategy for integrating your important keywords into the meta data and content of your site, but my point is to say the strategy is flawed.

What strategy?

Picking keywords and only tracking them.

You can pick a handful of important keywords based off of their estimated monthly search volume, but so what? If you don’t rank for them does that mean that you aren’t getting traffic? No. If you don’t rank for them does that mean that your site isn’t doing well? No.

There are a thousand reasons why you might not be ranking for a specific keyword… A few:

  • Your page SEO isn’t properly optimized for that exact term specifically
  • Your SEO is good but your in-bound linking doesn’t support the term enough
  • Your content isn’t properly optimized for that term
  • Google likes other keywords better for that page
  • Your competition is doing a better job
  • Your site is new and hasn’t gained enough authority to rank for that term
  • Your site is old and never established enough authority to rank for that term

I could go on.

Oh, and one last thing. There is only so much you can do. Back in the day you could pick a keyword and add it to your website meta data, content and then build in-bound links using that term as the anchor text and BAM! Rankings! Guess what? That exact strategy will now potentially harm your site and could even result in penalties. No bueno.

Google Penguin

The Penguin is going to GET YOU!

Instead, your on-page SEO, content and organic marketing strategies have to be much more sophisticated and diverse. It looks unnatural to put a keyword phrase in each important key area of your site meta and content and then to also have a bunch of in-bound links pointing to that page using the same keyword as the anchor text. That strategy is outdated and IT WILL HURT YOU.

The Information is Not Accurate

We’ve had clients track rankings using a tool and then manually look for the same results only to find they are not the same. Well duh. I hate to break it to you but the information is intentionally inconsistent, Google knows your game and they are trying to deter you from playing it. Did you know that Google has even said tracking rankings is against their terms of service? And don’t think they don’t know. They know.

So, why and how is the information inaccurate?

There are several big reasons why… all of which I already wrote about in a previous post called “Why Tracking Your Organic Search Rankings Will Drive You Insane”… but I will recap here for you:

  • Your Locations Matters (where you search from changes your results)
  • Your Web Browsing History Matters (what you’ve already searched for impacts what Google serves you)
  • Your Personalized Results are Influenced by Social Signals (logged in users get personalized results – and many are heavily influenced by their social circles)
  • Technical Aspects Play a Huge Role (Google has a ton of data centers and all can display slightly different results at any given time)

To further that, if you are using a tool – paid or free – to track your rankings then you have to understand that the tool itself is also impacted by the above variables. They aren’t allowed to scrape Google every week, day or hour to find your rankings. They are potentially buying the data or pulling it from another resource even that may or may not even be Google. You could be looking at outdated information or data pulled from some 3rd party source.

It’s okay to use a tool to track a few keywords, especially if you are a marketer and you want some very specific insights to use in your campaign strategies – but to rely on the data as a key performance metric and to give it to your client as an indicator of how well their marketing campaigns are doing is INSANE!

Tracking Rankings will Drive You Insane The data is all over the place! All you are going to do is frustrate yourself AND your clients.

Which leads me to my next point…

Rankings Don’t Equal Traffic or Conversions

I mean, think about it. Even if you are number 1,2 or 3 for a specific keyword in Google that doesn’t guarantee ANYTHING! People might not click. People may click a paid ad above you instead. People might click but they don’t like your site or content and decide to keep looking… so, there is no guarantee a ranking will lead to a click that converts.

Also, so what if you rank for a keyword – what about the other 1000 variations of that term (as shown in my first point: The Strategy is Flawed )? I am much more excited to see increased organic search engine traffic then I would ever be over a keyword ranking. Organic traffic means you are ranking for terms that people are clicking on. THAT is real data. Rankings mean nothing. Traffic is everything…. Well, good traffic (but I’ll get to that in a second). Why would you track your rankings or report on rankings to a client when they are VERY possibly 1) not accurate (as shown above) 2) not likely to maintain their placement and 3) not directly correlating with any tangible traffic data?

Such an outdated measurement.

Let’s say I want to rank for terms related to my previous example (above) on “House Painting”. So, I go to a marketing firm and they say to me, “Oh, you should really target ‘house painting’ because that term clearly has the highest search volume in your space”. I would be like, great – let’s do it! Then, for the next several months that marketing firm would work on that term… but then I don’t see any rankings and I am frustrated and think they are doing a terrible job and who needs them anyways. But, if that marketing firm says, well, you know what? You may not be able to see rankings for that term, but guess what? We were looking at your Google Analytics and you have tripled your organic traffic in the last month!

I’d be like, WHAT? Okay!

What? Okay!

Why? Because traffic is what I hired a marketing firm for. Not ranking me for ONE (or a set of) specific keywords.

Besides, the REAL measure is how that traffic is leading to increased conversions. This is marketing people. Why does ANY business pay for marketing? Because they want to make more money. How do they do that? By making more sales. It’s pretty simple. No one cares (or should care) what their rankings are or how much traffic they get if their sales aren’t increasing.

I could write a whole new blog post on that so I’ll just leave it at this – organic online marketing is intended to help you get more traffic and conversions. If you are getting organic traffic you have rankings! If you are currently tracking specific keyword rankings and you don’t see solid results but you DO see increased organic traffic in your analytics, then guess what? You ARE ranking somewhere for something, you just aren’t tracking the millions of variations of the keywords Google could possibly serve you up for.

GET IT?

And I’m just going to say this one more time for kicks…

Who cares what you are ranking for as long as you are getting traffic and increased conversions?

There Are Better Metrics To Focus On

So, I basically just said it – but for those of you questioning what to track, measure and report on instead, here are a few of our favorite client KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) here at Eminent SEO.

Oh, and in case you were wondering, we DO NOT track or report on rankings. Ever.

What to Track INSTEAD of Keyword Rankings

KPI #1: Conversions

I don’t just mean visits here. If a visitor doesn’t take a desired action, then they aren’t worth your on-going marketing spend. I am talking about tracking actions – such as: a phone call, a purchase, a form submission, the download of an ebook or something else of that nature.

Of course to do this properly you have to have some amount of skill and might even need to have some paid tools (such as a call tracking tool), but we are talking about metrics here – if you need help implementing any of these suggestions, well, you’ll just have to call us!

KPI #2: Cost Per Conversion

Okay, great! Now you have conversions, but how much is that costing you? I’ve had clients come in with multiple lead source types (maybe they are running a PPC campaign, have a local campaign going, they are renting space on a large directory AND even doing TV ads) and they have no clue which ad source is actually bringing them their leads and conversions and in turn they really don’t know which marketing source is the most valuable to them. Why? Because they aren’t tracking them individually.

Each individual marketing campaign you are running (on and off-line alike) should be tied in to a separate number, landing page, website or conversion form if you are going to truly measure your efforts. From there, you should tie your ad spend into each individual ad source. Your online marketing firm should be able to track online actions, such a fill form or other web submission, however, if you are also taking calls this does take some extra effort on your part. If done properly you will know exactly where each lead/sale is coming from and determine a cost per lead/sale.

This is HUGE! Reread that if you have to. This is important people!

KPI #3: Visitor Behavior

Once you are certain you are properly measuring your conversions and cost per conversion you can start diving back into important the website metrics, such as visits, repeat visitors, number of page views and the average time on site.

Any good online marketing company is going to use these metrics to improve your conversion rates by addressing quality issues. For example, high bounce rates from a particular page indicate that even though you are getting traffic it’s not converting – so there is a problem on that page that needs to be addressed. On the other hand, as a marketing firm, if you see monthly improvements to these metrics you should be able to show your client that the website is capturing their audience and resulting in better leads and conversions….

Client Thumbs Up

Get a BIG Thumbs Up

And isn’t that a ZILLION times more important that some random keyword rankings?

THE Nutshell:

The Strategy is Flawed

You can’t possibly know every variation people might use to find you. And even if you could, your marketing company can’t just rank you for a specific term anymore anyways. That strategy is outdated and could actually hurt you!

The Information is Not Accurate

We now know (for a FACT) that there are dozens of ways rankings can be influenced and therefore not accurate. So, what are you really tracking anyways?

Rankings Don’t Equal Traffic or Conversions

If you think rankings (or the lack thereof) are proving anything, well, I hate to break it to you… but you are wrong. If you don’t see rankings but you have organic traffic and conversions, well then guess what? You DO have rankings.

There Are Better Metrics To Focus On

I could list 1000 key performance indicators that we feel are more important to a client on how their marketing dollars are actually increasing their bottom line… but I shared 3: conversions, cost per conversion and visitor behavior. If you are tracking rankings and not focused on these other 3 metrics, it’s time to get with the times.

Rankings are a thing of the past. Don’t be dumb.

Why are you so dumb

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Why Tracking Your Organic Search Rankings Will Drive You Insane

Anyone who uses SEO techniques to increase their organic search engine visibility and traffic should be measuring their results. However, HOW you measure and WHAT you measure should depend on your specific business goals.Organic Rankings

SEO is tricky stuff, especially with Google and their insane amount of algorithm updates and data refreshes. SEO techniques that used to work a few years ago are practically obsolete now. You really need to perfect your marketing strategies if you expect to make money online. It’s no longer about mass quantity. Everything is about quality…. especially when it comes to traffic and leads. It’s too time consuming and costly to simply target anything and everything relevant to your business. It’s better to research and test very specific topics so you can better understand your user behaviors and market to your future prospects more precisely.

I mean, who cares how much traffic you get to your site if none of it converts!

It’s easy to get caught up in your website rankings and traffic, but the real number you should care about is your bottom line!

If your marketing campaigns are resulting in conversions, it shouldn’t matter where you rank specially for any one particular keyword phrase on any given day. Besides, rankings LIE!

Let me break it down for you:

Your location matters.

Go to Google right now and type in something general, like “SEO”. I’m in Mesa Arizona. Guess what I see? Arizona SEO firms. Not because they are the top SEO sites in the world, but because I am searching from an IP in Arizona! The search engines aren’t stupid. They know where you are and they are giving you results based off of your current physical location. This is especially apparent when you search for something local, like a restaurant or a daycare. Google and Bing want to give you local results as much as possible, and you will see varied organics depending on where you are when you search.

Note: This is why having a Google + Local Map and a Bing Map is so important for any business that wants local, geo-targeted traffic!

Your web browsing history matters.

You’ve heard it before, websites and search engines store cookies in your browsers and use this data to determine what they should serve you. When you visit a website frequently, Google will start to assume you want to see that site in your search results, and the site will start to appear higher when you search organically.

If you want “real” organic results, you can clear your web history and cookies or try using a Proxy server to search instead.

Personalized results are influenced by social signals.

Bing is integrated with Facebook, so when you are logged in to both, guess what you see when you search? If you search for a topic related to something your Facebook friends have liked, shared, or otherwise recommended, you will see it in your organic Bing results.

The same thing goes for Google. Google wants you to be logged in at all times, encouraging you to use their free services for almost everything you do. When you are logged in to your Google + account, anyone with you in their circles will see your +1 recommendations in their organic results.

Sure, you can log out and your results will change, but many people don’t even realize they are logged in and therefore social indicators are heavily influencing search.

Technical aspects play a huge role.

Google has hundreds of data centers, when you query Google (or Bing) you are pulling data from one of hundreds of data centers that houses information. You could be searching for the same thing I am from across the room or across the country and see different results.

Also, websites can re-index day to day; many variables can change the way Google decides to index and display a site at any given moment. A site can add content, change content, remove pages, add pages, update their on-page SEO, gain new links, loose links, etc etc. All of these factors play a role in how Google will choose to rank a site and it can vary day by day.

Bottom Line:

If you Google yourself (your business, your keywords, your brand) too much, you are asking for an anxiety attack! Of course you want to know IF you are ranking, but you will know how well you are doing when you look at your organic and referral traffic. If your analytics show traffic is coming from the engines, you know you are ranking. You don’t need a rankings report to tell you that!

Remember, you need to track traffic (where it’s coming from – source and keyword) and how that correlates with conversions. If you are investing marketing dollars, you need to know how that money translates into sales.

Don’t drive yourself insane measuring results that don’t matter. Focus on traffic and sales and let your marketing team worry about the rest.

Jenny Stradling

Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing work in 2005. I'm a {very} busy mom of 4 and I owe my sanity to my partner in work and life, Chris Weatherall. I love sharing and engaging in business and marketing conversations, and I'm heavy into social media and blogging on these topics. I love coffee, wine, food and other people who enjoy the adventure of seeking out the best places to eat and drink. In my free time (what's that?) you'll most likely find me studying philosophy and spirituality, cooking for my family or relaxing with a nice glass of wine, a funny movie and the people I love.

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Follow Me:
TwitterFacebookLinkedInPinterestGoogle PlusYouTube