Google Medic Update Proves User Experience Is King
A Google algorithm update that rolled out at the beginning of this month delivered a major shake-up to websites belonging to health care organizations. Many are calling it the “Medic Update.”
Health care sites began seeing big fluctuations in their rankings at the beginning of the month, and in many cases, the changes were not positive.
Although the algo update affected the health care industry the most, it appeared to affect a few other industries, according to Search Engine Roundtable, such as:
Google claimed it was simply a routine “broad core algorithm update,” the same as it releases several times each year. But to us, we know this wasn’t a run-of-the-mill algo update, especially since we have various types of health care clients.
How Do Health Websites Respond?
The best response to Google’s de facto new guidelines for health care sites is to stay the course, meaning keep trying to improve on the quality of your content and user experience (UX). Don’t give up on organic SEO!
Also, if your website is offering medical advice, make sure it’s coming from a medical expert. Or, at the very least, make sure it’s signed off by and attributed to a medical professional. This will help with search engine trust and a little Google concept called “authorship.”
“Worried about the ‘medic update’? There is no fix – nothing quick and easy, anyway. The algorithm change didn’t target health sites exclusively; many websites in other categories were negatively impacted, as well. Why? The truth is, people are making better websites these days and Google expects more. If you want to rank with Google, there’s no secret: Continue to work on improving your website, make better content and create a better overall user experience. That’s what it takes.”
– Jenny Stradling, CEO of Eminent SEO
Creating better content and UX is always recommended, and that’s what we do (for resellers also)! Here are a couple of articles that illustrate what we mean:
Beware Boredom: Keeping Your Content Marketing Strategy Fresh in 2018
Google’s brief experiment with “zero results” answers – where simple queries would only produce a single, Google-provided result in response – struck many as a bad omen of things to come in the world of SEO.
An example from April of the temporary search engine change:
After all, how are you supposed to get traffic to your website when the search engine pages for your targeted keywords only display one featured snippet – and perhaps a handful of sponsored links?
While the Google zero results experiment appears to be dormant for the time being, it should serve as a sign of things to come. Here, we’ll take a closer look at Google’s new strategies, as well as how demand generation can help you take advantage of the recent changes.
Google Zero Results Show It Aims to Be a One-Stop Shop
As website owners and content creators, you’ve likely noticed that, in recent years, the amount of space dedicated to organic search results on Google’s first page has been shrinking. Sponsored ads dominate the top results now, and they are increasing more indistinguishable from the organic search results.
It’s not just paid ads boxing out algorithmic search results. Google’s own services, such as Google Flights, receive preferential treatment over similar third-party services like Kayak, Expedia and Hotwire.
And even when Google does not have its own in-house services to place at the top of a search results page, it’s taking steps to make sure that users have no need to navigate away from a Google property.
For example, during the 2018 World Cup soccer tournament, Google users who searched the phrase “world cup soccer” were shown information taken from other websites. Users would find team standings, player stats and upcoming matches, all without ever having to leave the search results page.
Yes, this feature might have been convenient for the people wondering which team Brazil would face in its next matchup. However, its mere existence surely ruffled the feathers of website owners who had hoped that their coverage of the tournament would drive organic traffic to their site.
Demand Generation Puts Eyes on Your Brand
It’s clear that the search engine giant is focused on taking a larger and larger portion of total web traffic and keeping it planted right on its own web properties. If it doesn’t have to direct attention your way, it won’t. The only winning move is to build so much demand for your brand that Google has no choice but to defer to you in order to satisfy its users.
Many SEO experts are calling this new strategy “demand generation.”
5 Winning Demand Generation Strategies
Here are five of the most effective steps that you can take to increase demand for your brand. When implemented effectively, these tips force Google to shine a spotlight on your products, services or your website in general.
1. Up Your Content Creation Game
Creating and sharing awesome content is an integral part of any successful demand generation strategy. If you already maintain a blog or publish articles on your website, consider ways that you can make your posts even more valuable to your visitors.
Start by asking yourself if you are providing content with original information, or if you’re just rehashing information that users can find elsewhere. Be the first one to shine a light on new trends and data. Or better yet, be the first one to the party by performing and sharing your own original research.
2. Share Your Best Stuff for Free
A key element in building demand for your product or service is cultivating trust between your audience and your brand. One of the best ways to build trust is by providing consumers with your very best stuff free of charge.
This might seem counterproductive, but if your audience knows that you create things that add value to their life, they will be sure to view your brand as a valuable resource in the future. Additionally, those who value your free product, tool, resource or service are more likely to share it with others in their extended network. The recipients of your free giveaway thus morph into de facto ambassadors for your brand.
3. Cultivate Client Reviews
When it comes to demand generation, there is perhaps nothing more valuable than cultivating positive client reviews. The reasoning behind this one should be pretty intuitive. After all, it’s easy to hear a business owner’s big talk and dismiss it as empty bluster. A verified client testimonial, on the other hand, is much more credible, for obvious reasons.
Whether it’s a landing page testimonial, case study or customer interview, the voices of satisfied clients are powerful demand generators and should be part of any complete marketing strategy.
4. Guest Posts Get the Word Out
If you are looking to branch out and reach a new audience, publishing guest posts in popular publications in your space can produce fantastic results. Guest posting is great because you have the opportunity to position yourself as a thought leader in your field while also drawing attention to your own brand.
When guest posting, it is important to remember that publications with a large following will generally only accept content from established writers, so it helps to start by submitting to smaller outlets before working your way up the ladder.
5. Social Media Is King (for Demand Generation)
There are few tools more powerful than social media when it comes to demand generation for your business. By regularly engaging with your audience through channels like Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, you can cultivate a loyal following that associates your brand first and foremost with the product or service you provide.
To make the most out of your social media presence, it is important to constantly test which kinds of posts generate the most response. It’s going to differ from industry to industry, so you will probably have to tinker with it for a while until you find the sweet spot.
Reshares, likes and comments are a great metric to measure a post’s impact, allowing you to zero in on your target audience. And once you know what works, you can make use of automation tools to schedule future postings, ensuring that you share content at the optimal time.
Start Generating Demand Today!
Now, demand generation might not be necessary for every industry, but if you want to thrive in today’s search engine landscape, you now have a better sense of how to get started.
Around September of this year, Google placed new restrictions on advertising keywords related to searches for addiction treatment. This had a tremendous impact on addiction treatment centers around the country that relied on Google AdWords campaigns as their primary digital ad source.
In fact, word on the street is certain centers have been hit so hard they are cutting staff, selling their facilities and even going bankrupt.
Why Did Google Crack Down on Addiction Treatment Ads?
As a long-time addiction treatment marker myself, I have watched the recovery industry evolve over the last 12 years. Over that period of time, I have seen a lot of shady marketing practices in general. I mean, a ton.
However, what has become even more alarming over the last few years has been shady (sometimes even illegal) addiction treatment center business practices. I even recently wrote a blog post directed to addiction treatment centers as an open letter on what NOT to do: Dear Addiction Rehab Owners.
Those of us who preach ethical marketing saw this coming and said it would happen. Overnight, Google decided to stop selling ads for a giant number of “addiction treatment” related search terms, including “rehab near me,” “alcohol treatment” and thousands of others.
Imagine the SHOCK around the country as the $35 billion addiction treatment industry discovered its primary lead generation source was practically shut off overnight.
Google told The Verge in a statement:
“We found a number of misleading experiences among rehabilitation treatment centers that led to our decision, in consultation with experts, to restrict ads in this category. As always, we constantly review our policies to protect our users and provide good experiences for consumers.”
Isn’t This a Loss for Google?
Uh, yes. Some of the top-searched rehab terms were going for $100-plus per click! We know addiction treatment centers that were spending millions of dollars a year on Google ads alone.
But, you know what a bigger loss is? The 570,000 people who die annually from drug and alcohol use every year in the United States. According to National Institutes of Health drug facts, that number breaks down to more than 480,000 deaths related to tobacco, about 31,000 due to alcohol, nearly 22,000 due to overdose on illicit (illegal) drugs, and close to 23,000 due to overdose on prescription pain relievers.
If those deaths don’t shock you, let me give you something to compare that too. This is the list of the top 10 causes of death in the United States every year:
Heart issues: about 630,000 people die of heart disease annually
Cancer: a source of roughly 596,000 deaths annually
Chronic lower respiratory disease (a collection of lung diseases): 147,000 deaths
Accidents and unintentional injuries: 136,053 deaths
Alzheimer’s disease: 110,561
Influenza and pneumonia: 57,062
Nephritis and nephrosis (kidney issues): 49,959
Intentional self-harm (suicide): 44,193
If you combine alcohol and drug related deaths, we are talking about 90,000 annually. Doesn’t that place substance abuse and addiction number 7 on the list?
People are dying! And, the saddest part? They are dying because they aren’t getting the help they need.
Although this stat is outdated (real-time stats on this stuff are hard to find!), the 2013 National Survey on Drug Use and Health found only 10.9 percent of the individuals who needed professional substance abuse actually received it.
We can do better. We MUST do better.
How Can Addiction Treatment Centers and Marketers Do Better?
Unfortunately, this crackdown wasn’t rolled out based on the legitimacy of the facility or its advertising agency, like the organic rankings have been. This change impacted all treatment centers and their marketing agencies, legitimate or not.
It’s not fair, but Google never claimed to be fair. One bad apple might have not ruined it for the rest of us, but a LOT of bad apples did. And you know what? Good.
You heard me.
I’m tired of shady business practices. I am tired of seeing the greed in this industry. I am tired of getting calls for “grey hat” marketing practices from treatment centers who still think they have to trick Google in order to win.
I am tired of finding misinformation on legitimate sites (yes, I see you spammy rehab marketers and your regurgitated, ill-researched content). I am tired of seeing zero value being placed on quality and ethics. I am tired of auditing digital brands only to find crap.
Wake up, addiction treatment providers and marketers! This is not why we do business. We MUST find a way to do better.
Start by putting your clients first. Start by laying out a clear goal and mission. Start by agreeing to do things ethically. Start by working with other industry professionals that care about getting results AND are passionate about making a difference.
The only way your brand stands a chance in the long run is to do things the right way. Otherwise, it will catch up with you. It always does.
What Should You Replace Your Addiction Treatment AdWords Campaign With?
As a multi-channel marketing agency, we have always suggested a custom brand and marketing strategy for our addiction treatment center clients. There is no single marketing channel that will ever supply any business with all of its leads indefinitely, especially when you consider the ever-changing digital landscape.
Typically, our addiction treatment center clients will have a campaign that includes several tactics and digital channels of marketing:
Quality Website Design and Images
Professional Landing Page Optimization
Technical Website SEO
Optimized Content and Meta Data
Brand Asset Development
Organic Search Engine Marketing
Local and Geo-targeted Marketing
Social Channel Management
Paid Social Ad Campaigns
Newsletter and Email Marketing
Testing, Tracking and Custom Reporting
We may also supplement with Google or Bing paid ads, but we have never relied on them. Why? Too expensive, higher cost per admit and lower conversion rate than the organic channels.
However, if you have recently been hit hard by the Google AdWords “rehab” related keyword restrictions, here are some channels you can explore:
Social Paid Ads
Yes, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and even Snapchat can generate addiction treatment leads when done properly. Facebook and Instagram ads are killing it for our clients right now.
It’s not a quick fix, but utilizing custom landing pages, gated assets and email campaigns with smart, automated workflows can have a big long-term impact on your brand reach.
It’s not just “local marketing” anymore. Google gets to decide what search queries are considered local and which ones are not. You must optimize your website and ad strategies for the geo-targets you want to rank for. (Looking for more? Ask us about geo-fencing.)
We can talk about video for days, but I’ll just say this: videos are valuable assets for your brand. But, not all videos are created equally. A well-researched video strategy can drive the entire marketing campaign. 2018 is the year to invest into video.
Website and Social Chat
A surprising number of treatment centers think online chat won’t work for them. Well, I am here to tell you something: it does work, and I know because I see the conversions from our client chat campaigns. If it isn’t working for you, you’re doing it wrong.
When you are in an industry that is known for false advertising, illegal patient brokering and bidding wars, it’s imperative you take the time to A) put ethical business practices into place, and B) hire a company who can guarantee they are doing the same.
If you need an agency that understands the addiction treatment industry and cares about quality, ethics AND the bottom line, give us a call. Let’s make something special together.
Owner and CEO at Eminent SEO in Mesa, Arizona. I started doing SEO and marketing in 2005. I'm a busy mom of four of my own and two step kids (and a grandbaby!). 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 focus on quality, ethics, strategy, data and getting results. I work with a variety of brands and businesses with a special focus on addiction treatment marketing. I do this work because I care about making a difference.
If you are a member of the SEO community, or if you spend your time searching lots of keywords and phrases using the Google search engine, you may have seen the appearance of more knowledge panels on the right-hand side of the results in the past week or so.
The above screenshot shows an example of the knowledge panels that are now showing for certain keywords. In this case, a search for the keyword “SEO” brings up a SERP with a knowledge panel for the phrase “search engine optimization.”
Much like the knowledge panels that show up when you search for a business by its brand name, the knowledge panel gives a definition of the word you are searching (as defined by Wikipedia) and suggestions of other related terms.
While these knowledge panels started showing up just before the long Thanksgiving holiday weekend, and started with very general terms and keywords, the number of keywords and terms that now have knowledge panels associated with them has been growing exponentially in the past week.
So what does this potentially large change mean for SEO?
How Will Keyword Knowledge Graphs Affect SEO and Rankings?
Being that this change (a 30 percent jump in knowledge panels, as of Nov. 27) happened over a holiday weekend, it signals that not only does this appear to be a big change that will cause mixed reviews among users, but it appears that Google may be determined to keep long term. The company slipped the update under the radar while many were traveling, visiting family and enjoying their holiday meals.
Is the Google Knowledge Panel Replacing Rich Snippets?
One way that this has already affected SEO is with rich snippets – those little answer boxes that show up above the organic results that are supposed to offer the best or most concise “answer” to a searched term or phrase.
As Dr. Peter J. Meyers noted in his excellent initial article on the recent knowledge graph changes, the rollout of these knowledge panels has already started to “eat” existing rich snippets that were in place for the same keyword SERPS just a week before. While this is an immediate change that may cause traffic or ranking losses for some keywords, the impact doesn’t seem to be wide at this point.
It seems the biggest concern that the changes created was about the appeal or long-term worth of optimizing for rich snippets – concerns that rich snippets might be going away or diminished in the future. However, since the terms affected are very general terms and it seems that most of the “replaced” snippets were definitions of the term, we don’t believe that there will be a widespread negative loss of snippets at this point.
Product Knowledge Graphs
The changes that certainly got those in the SEO community worried and confused have to do with the knowledge graphs for products.
The appearance of a knowledge graph defining a product caused many to wonder if Google was losing the “intent” of the user searching term. How many users that search the term “HDMI cable” do you think are looking for the definition of the product?
Regardless of whether you were seeking the definition, shopping deals, videos about, or manufacturers of the product, the definition is currently firmly planted on the SERP. While this may seem unnecessary, it does also make sense, seeing as how there is usually a Wikipedia definition within the organic search results for most searchable terms.
This change simply takes the wiki out of the organic search results – which, in many cases, means the Wikipedia article wasn’t a helpful search result and took up one of the precious few first-page positions.
How Granular Will Knowledge Graphs for Terms Go?
General terms that generate a knowledge graph may be bothersome for a few users, but we can see how having one makes sense in most cases. The remaining question is how deep and detailed will Google go with the knowledge graph?
And, will having knowledge graphs for the most detailed search terms cause negative effects for SEO strategists and businesses targeting those terms? At what point is a search detailed enough to not need a definition?
Once this line has been drawn, we can understand better how this will warrant changes to one’s SEO strategy – if changes are even needed.
Until we know more about how far these changes will stretch, I think it is too early to be making long-term strategy changes. However, if your SEO campaign relied heavily on traffic coming in from the definition of certain terms, I would say that this type of strategy was on its way out anyway.
In the meantime, the best way to protect your SEO strategy from being heavily impacted by across-the-board changes like this is to have a diverse strategy. Don’t put all your keyword portfolio eggs in one basket: Focus on long-tail keywords, go after low-hanging-fruit opportunities, and don’t let your strategy get stale.
Eminent SEO News: Team Eminent Goes to Space … Kinda
We’ve been able to let our inner nerd out so far this month! Not only was May the 4th a pretty big day at the Eminent office – thanks to “Star Wars Day” – but we went as a team to see the new “Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” the following day.
And the day after, many of us went to the Chris Rock stand-up show in downtown Phoenix! We would share a few photos from it but … we couldn’t use our phones in the venue because apparently the show was being taped for a Netflix special.
So that’s how our month has gone so far. How about yours?
What’s New in SEO: Google’s New ‘Project Owl’ Aims to Make Search Answers More Reliable
Try as it might, Google has its work cut out for it when it comes to fighting back against web content that’s misleading or outright false.
Recently, the tech giant launched “Project Owl” to minimize the amount of fake news and problematic content that shows up in search results. Perhaps the best news in this new campaign is the fact users will get to play a role in weeding out the iffy content that occasionally shows up for certain search queries.
According to Search Engine Land, Google’s new attention to “problematic searches” will target content that is:
Partially or entirely made up
Based on rumors, conspiracies or myths
Which Areas of Search Will ‘Project Owl’ Target?
Project Owl also aims to improve:
Autocomplete search suggestions
Featured snippet answers (the information that is prominently featured when you ask a very specific question in search)
The visibility of authoritative content
To accomplish this, Google is taking new steps to identify and boost authoritative content, as well as opening feedback forms for users to opine on search suggestions and featured snippet answers.
For example, this is the form you can access if the search engine delivers a featured snippet for your query:
Google is on record saying these “problematic searches” only occur 0.25 percent of the time, but that still adds up to more than 1 million such occurrences each day. Let’s hope Project Owl elicits a better search experience for all of us, and don’t let your blog posts or website content get caught in the owl’s wrath!
Featured Service: High-Quality Blog Post Production
You don’t want to churn out blog content that will be flagged as “fake news,” heavily biased or problematic. If your business could use help with producing informative, engaging blog articles, talk to the experts at Eminent SEO.
Not only are our blog posts image-rich and highly optimized for search, but each article we produce is well-researched and aimed directly at one of the client’s target audiences. We also use the best linking practices (inks to highly authoritative sources, not too many links per page, etc.) when writing, which helps with search rankings in a number of ways.
To find out more about how we can take your blog and start using it to build up your search engine rankings and overall web presence, give us a call at 800.871.4130 today or visit our Blogging Services page.
Consumers demand choices, more than ever before. With Generation Z moving into the forefront of retail business owners’ minds (as they should), the face of the retail online shopping experience is only part of the larger picture.
There are a handful of different avenues a link builder can take, but the end goal is the same: to get a certain page or website to rank higher in the search results than those belonging to similar competitors.
Thank you to all our readers and subscribers! Until next month’s newsletter, if you’d like to stay in touch with Eminent SEO, please visit our blog or use the icons below to find us on social media.
As the Eminent SEO client base expands, our team does as well. Over the last month, we have added three new members to the Eminent SEO team, and we’re looking to hire more!
Meet the three newest members of our team:
Trista Sobeck – Content Writer
Trista is the newest writer here at Eminent SEO. We already have her working on website pages, blog posts, eBooks, newsletter, social media posts, marketing emails and more for our premium clients. Trista has a Creative Writing degree and comes to us with a background in writing for everything from small boutique agencies to Fortune 500 companies.
Welcome to the team, Trista!
Holly Salars – Outreach Coordinator
Holly, our new outreach coordinator, is performing administrative duties for Eminent SEO, in addition to publishing blog posts for clients and building business relationships on their behalf. Holly has a background in several industries, such as health care, hospitality, food and beverage, construction, child care, addiction rehabilitation and more.
Welcome aboard, Holly!
Theresa Nacho Montiel – Senior Graphic Designer
Theresa is the new Senior Graphic Designer at Eminent SEO who produces strategic and original imagery for website designs, blog posts, social media posts, eBooks and more. Theresa has more than 10 years of experience with Adobe programs such as Photoshop and Illustrator, and she believes that design is more than pretty pictures: It’s a business solution.
What’s New in SEO: Google Targets Intrusive Mobile Interstitials
Have you ever clicked a link on social media or in Google Search and you were served a full-page pop-up that you had to click out of to see the desired content? If you hate when that happens, you’re not alone.
Just last week, two high-ranking members of Google confirmed their company began targeting websites that use so-called intrusive mobile interstitials before serving the content that actually shows up in the search engine results. Basically, Google has started penalizing pages that are interrupted by an interstitial right out of mobile search. A penalty will either put the page out of Google’s radar or push it way down in the mobile search results.
Google officials, however, said that the penalty does not apply to pages the user could click through to after landing on a certain page from search. In other words, if you open a website from Google Search and an intrusive interstitial only pops up after clicking to another page on that website, then the site won’t suffer any penalties.
Here are some other instances where certain interstitials won’t warrant a Google penalty for a website:
When the interstitial is for legal obligations, such as to verify the user’s age or warn them about cookies
If the interstitial pops up ahead of non-indexible content that is behind a paywall
When a pop-up banner only covers a small portion of the screen and is easily dismissible
But Who Uses Intrusive Interstitials?
An obvious example that comes to mind of a website with intrusive interstitials is Forbes.com. Whether you’re going to the homepage or you’re clicking on a specific Forbes article from social media or search, you’re immediately served a “Quote of the Day” full page before arriving at your desired reading content. This is true whether visiting Forbes from your mobile device or desktop.
While the Forbes interstitial is fairly benign and it still takes you to your desired page after 5 seconds (unless you manually click out of it), it’s still quite frustrating if you’re trying to pull up an article quickly. The “Quote of the Day” page isn’t an ad by itself, but as you can see, they sneak an ad in there while you’re waiting for the article to appear, which is more prominent on mobile.
The Forbes site has been doing this for several years, but its web content team might want to put an end to it, based on Google’s recent targeting of this practice. Then again, Forbes is a news website and may not care all that much about organic search engine rankings, so it’s anybody’s guess as to whether they’ll kill off the “Quote of the Day” interstitials.
For those of you who do care about your organic rankings, the lesson here is to get rid of intrusive mobile interstitials that cover most, or all, of certain pages on your website. You’re especially going to want to do this if the pages in question show up high in Google mobile search. To read more about Google’s new penalty rollout, check out Search Engine Land’s report.
December Social Media Roundup
We had a busy, but rewarding holiday season here at Eminent SEO. How were your holidays? As the month progressed, we again saw strong engagement on our Instagram account. See the best of our social media shares from last month:
On the Eminent SEO blog in December, we covered a pair of social media-related topics. One dealt with social media directly – copywriting for social media – while the other has very close ties – GIF images. So if you want to upgrade your social game, read through the following blog posts very carefully. Below is an overview of those two posts.
While the average social media manager doesn’t have to be a writer, per se, it is still imperative to write strongly on any social platform. Learn why strong social media copy makes a difference, and get a few tips on how to write specifically for Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn.
Animated GIFs are the life of any social media thread, and they aren’t going away anytime soon. Are you familiar with the five different types of GIFs? You’ll learn all about that plus the legal considerations of sharing GIFs when you read this insightful blog post.
Quality over Quantity Marketing
Now more than ever, Eminent SEO is a firm believer in (and practitioner of) quality over quantity when it comes to digital marketing solutions. That’s why we refer to ourselves as a boutique marketing agency.
It’s easy to see that one great blog post can do more for a website and a brand than several mediocre posts. Likewise, one viral social media share can pay more dividends than dozens of run-of-the-mill social posts. This is why when we look over a client’s objectives for the month, we don’t think in terms of, for example, how many blog posts they need, but instead we ask, “How can we produce remarkable content that knocks it out of the park for them?”
In short, we focus on quality over quantity because readers now demand it, and because that’s what it takes to excel in today’s SEO environment. Anything less would be uncivilized.
To learn more about our unique approach to marketing and how we can help your business, call us today at 800.871.4130.
Eminent SEO News: Help Us Help Out Families in Need This Holiday Season!
Eminent SEO is excited to support Operation Santa Single Style this holiday season, which will provide gifts to single-parent families in need in Arizona. We’re always eager to do our part and give back to the local community, especially during the holidays when so many are struggling to put food on the table while having enough to buy their children presents.
Operation Santa Single Style would appreciate YOUR support this year, as well. Please visit the group’s online registry if you’d like to pick out a toy for a child in need or make a monetary donation.
If you live in Arizona and want to know where to drop off your gift donation, please email firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also email the same address to ask where to ship the gift, if you live out of state.
Thank you for your consideration of supporting a family in need this winter. If you’d like to learn more about Operation Santa Single Style, please visit the group’s Facebook page. Happy Holidays!
What’s New in SEO: Google Kicks Knowledge Graph Snippet Overlays to the Curb
Beginning in January 2014, when a user conducted a Google search, the results page would feature gray text off to the right of the URLs of many entries. If you hovered over that text, a small pop-up would emerge that would tell you about the overall website or the company behind the page you would potentially visit.
Well, say goodbye to that feature. Search Engine Land confirmed with Google in November that Knowledge Graph snippet overlays, as they’re called, have been retired.
Why? Low usage, apparently.
So, the feature failed to last even three years in the search engine results pages. While it appeared like it could be helpful for users, it seemed to provide little-to-no benefit to publishers. The snippet overlays contained up to three links, but none would lead directly to the company’s website. One might go to the business’s Google+ page, but that’s about it. For the few users who did take advantage of the snippet overlays, the links ended up being distractions to the page Google featured in the search results.
Don’t worry, though: Google still places a major emphasis on its regular Knowledge Graph, which you might see in line or off to the right of your desktop search results, depending on the query. This indispensable feature likely played a part in the demise of snippet overlays, for which we say, “R.I.P. We hardly knew ye.”
A Knowledge Graph appears in the right half of this Google search results page.
November Social Media Roundup
Our Instagram account continued to grow in November! And on Twitter, we increasingly lent our voice and expertise to some of the latest topics in our industry. See the best of our November social shares below. Click on any of the photos to see the accompanying caption and more info about the image. We also invite you to keep up with our latest social stuff by following us on Instagram and Twitter.
In November, we revisited one of the hallmarks of SEO best practices: anchor text optimization. We then gave our take on some recent tech news: the impending death of the mobile video app Vine. If you missed any of our November blog posts, get caught up here:
Considering Google’s “Penguin” series of algorithm updates and all of the ranking factors the search engine now has, you might think that optimizing your anchor text is no longer crucial. Well, you’d be wrong. Find out the continued importance of anchor text optimization.
In late October, Twitter announced that it would be shutting down the once-popular Vine app. Although there are a few investors rumored to be interested in buying Vine, the video-sharing service’s best days appear to be behind it. Let’s look at what led to Vine’s apparent demise.
Keep Your Eyes Peeled: New-Look Website to Come
As a final note, we’re excited to share that we have made progress on the behind-the-scenes reconstruction of EminentSEO.com! In the coming months, we will roll out a new-look website that will feature sleeker navigation, new visuals and a more descriptive, yet clearer picture of the many services we offer.
The time for a refresh is now! As you’re waiting for the debut of our website redesign, keep enjoying our blog posts, online newsletters, Max swag and more. Thank you for supporting Eminent SEO.
Over the last couple of months, Eminent SEO has added two new valuable members to its team. Let’s introduce you to them now:
Danielle Knox – Creative Director
Our new Creative Director, Danielle, plans projects, oversees the creative process for clients, and gives guidance to the creative team here at Eminent SEO. As our lead creative strategist, Danielle follows the latest trends in design, advertising and marketing, is a company brand advocate, helps attract clients, and hires creative staff. Danielle comes to us with more than 17 years of graphic design experience. Welcome to the team, Danielle!
Ashton Stradling – Creative Producer
Ashton is getting his feet wet in the digital marketing industry after graduating from Highland High School in the spring. Ashton manages social media accounts for clients, optimizes web content, creates videos, designs images, and assists with administrative tasks. Welcome, Ash 10!
What’s New in SEO: Mobile-First Indexing Underway
In an early November blog post, Google announced it is testing out mobile-first indexing for its search engine. Indexing, if you’re wondering, has to do with which pages of a website Google can evaluate and rank in search. It’s easy to “noindex” a webpage, and there are strategic reasons for doing so, but for the most part, a majority of individual webpages are indexed by Google and other search engines.
Google’s new announcement acknowledges that search users are now using their phones more often than their desktop and laptop PCs. This entire time, Google has always evaluated the desktop version of a webpage and then determined the page’s ranking from there. This is true even if you entered a search on a mobile device and received a list of results. What you saw was a list of mobile results based on the desktop strength of each page.
But now, the algorithm is in the process of changing, based on users’ habits.
“We’ll continue to carefully experiment over the coming months on a small scale and we’ll ramp up this change when we’re confident that we have a great user experience,” Google Product Manager Doantam Phan wrote in the blog post.
Although mobile-first indexing is still in the experimental phase, you should expect it to be the standard before long. If your website is already responsive, the good news is you don’t have to do anything (other than make sure the site provides a great user experience).
If you have a mobile site that is different than your desktop version, then unfortunately you’re going to have to take a few steps to adjust to Google’s plan to prioritize mobile first. See the aforementioned Google blog post for some tips on how to not get left behind.
For more understanding on the importance of responsive design, see this blog post we published earlier this year.
October Social Media Roundup
Our Instagram shares were more colorful than ever in October. We recently started doing an Instagram-first approach to shooting and creating photos for social media, and we’ve seen a boost in engagement since. The best part is the images share well to Facebook, Twitter and other platforms, too.
Below is a quick look at some of our best and brightest social shares from last month. If you’d like to see the caption or learn more about any of the following photos, just click on the likes or comments icon on the bottom of the image that piques your interest.
What’s the latest insight on marketing and search engines from the experts at Eminent SEO? Check out our October blog posts to build your skills and knowledge so you can stay ahead of the competition. Subscribe to our blog, if you have not done so already, to see the posts the day they go live.
Accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) debuted earlier this year, and there’s been a whirlwind of changes in the last couple of months. This platform is now open to everyday businesses and websites, so get caught up on all of the recent developments here.
Gatorade recently kicked off an ad campaign with a message that seemingly would stunt sales of the company’s signature product. If your business has a product with a perceived drawback, learn how you can leverage that weakness into a marketing opportunity.
Email seems like a boring, outdated channel for marketing, right? Not so fast. Studies show how ubiquitous email usage is, plus how it usually provides a much higher ROI than other channels. Learn how to build a targeted, results-driven email campaign here.
Featured Service: Email Marketing
As seen in one of our blog posts above, email has reestablished itself as the marketing channel of choice for businesses to build contacts, nurture leads and delight prospective and existing customers.
But now, we know better than to blast every email message we create to our entire contact list. The key is to segment your contacts according to where they are in the buyer’s journey, and then tailor your messages to those individual audiences. Research says that email marketing has an ROI of $8 for every $1 spent.
Ask any SEO specialist about anchor text, and you may unwittingly spark a lively debate. It’s often a source of both angst and confusion.
With the Google Penguin series of algorithm updates, knowing anchor text best practices is even more important. Here, let’s look into all about anchor text, its role in SEO, and how to make it work for you.
Anchor Text Defined
Anchor text is simply any text that is clickable on a webpage that links to another place on the web. For example, in the phrase, “Eminent SEO can help improve your email marketing strategy,” the anchor text (“Eminent SEO”) links back to our website.
If this link were featured on another website, then you have an example of a process called “link building,” and it’s good for SEO. However, the phrasing can either help your search engine rankings or harm it. The difference is in how you approach your own website’s anchor text, as well as that on other sites that link to yours.
Different Types of Anchor Text
Say we’re trying to rank for the keyword “marketing strategy.” There are several types of anchor text that other websites might use to link to ours:
An exact match only anchors the exact keyword we’re looking for:
Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.
A partial match (also known as a phrase match) anchors the keyword in a phrase:
Branded anchor text would link back to our company, Eminent SEO:
Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.
A naked URL has no unique anchor text, just a web address:
Example:Eminentseo.com can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy.
Generic anchor text provides instructions, but does not include any branding or keywords.
Example: Eminent SEO can help you hone your email campaign, an essential part of your marketing strategy. Click here to go to their website.
How Anchor Text Influences Search Rankings
Search engines such as Google use anchor text as a factor in determining a page’s topic and how it should rank. In other words, using the anchor text “marketing strategy” should indicate to Google that the page on the other end of the link is a good fit for that search engine query.
In theory, the more times we score a backlink with the anchor “marketing strategy,” the higher we should rank for that query. But SEO is rarely that simple.
The Problem with Early Anchor Text
When Google’s search algorithm was less refined, the search engine relied heavily on anchor text, perhaps too much so. Around 2008, the company explained that it thought anchors provided more accurate descriptions of websites than the sites themselves. While the practice was sound in theory, it proved to be too easy to manipulate.
SEO specialists could easily cheat the system back then and tie certain adjectival phrases to a specific group or individual. Fair or not, two of the more famous “Google bombs” prior to 2010 were the association of the search phrase “miserable failure” to George W. Bush and “worst band in the world” to Creed.
Google’s Crackdown on Some Keyword-Rich Anchor Text
As a result, the search engine giant began to crack down on the way people could use anchor text for search engine optimization. The largest shift came in 2012, when the first Google Penguin algorithm update released. Its aim? Punishing low-quality and manipulative practices for link building.
Anchor text was one of Penguin’s primary targets, and companies who pursued exact match anchors aggressively saw their Google rankings plunge overnight. The Penguin update was a sort of Black Tuesday for SEO practitioners, who then had to come up with another way to put their websites at the top page of web results.
Companies, too, became twitchy about anchor text, some believing that only branded anchor text was allowed – and that all others would be punished by Google.
How Does Google Punish Anchor Text?
Does Google punish everything but branded anchor text? In a word: no. But there’s a right way and wrong way to include anchor text.
Over-optimization of anchor text, for example, is frowned upon. Search engines such as Google and Bing want backlinking to occur naturally. In other words, links should only be in your content if they make sense or if they lead to relevant content. If you have too many links, or if your links look contrived, the Penguin filter could demote the page.
While this sounds harsh, in reality, the original Google Penguin update only affected some 3 percent of websites. If own your content contains links in less than 50 percent of the copy, chances are you will not be affected by Penguin.
What About Link Quality?
Penguin also punishes links that don’t lead to authoritative websites. This discourages rank inflation. Quality backlinking to reliable information ensures your page is relevant. Don’t use anchor text just to grab a keyword. It looks unnatural to Google and will hurt your ranking.
Exact and Partial Anchor Text Still Wields Influence
So, does Penguin punish exact and partial keyword anchor text? A study by Ahrefs sought to find the answer. The study involved analyzing 51 keywords in competitive niches from finance to health, both exact matches and partial matches. Ahrefs found that both exact and partial keyword anchor text continue to have some influence on the top spots in Google searches.
The key here is density. For exact keyword matches, aim for it to be in no more than 1 to 2 percent of all anchor text. Partial matches are more forgiving: 30 percent of anchors containing a keyword phrase are safe from Google penalties.
Anchor Text Best Practices
The (not-so) final word on anchor text: It continues to influence the top spots in Google searches, especially in competitive niches. But … it’s not as heavily weighted as it used to be since Google now has more than 200 ranking factors.
Don’t be afraid to use keyword-rich anchor text in your own web content, though. If done well, it will help your search engine rankings. Observe some basic best practices:
Make Your Links Relevant
We talked a little bit about the importance of link relevancy in SEO, but it’s more easily understood with an example.
Say you own an aromatherapy store, and you love to blog about it. Ever eager to share your passion with others, you spend a little time each day reading about the newest in aromatherapy. You find an article about a study linking aromatherapy to increased levels of mood-boosting serotonin in the brain.
When you write a blog about this later, you could link back to the study in a couple of different ways:
“To read the study, click here.”
“A study outlines the effect of aromatherapy on the brain.”
SEO best practices dictate the second phrase (“effect of aromatherapy on the brain”) is more effective, because it is relevant to the topic at hand. Remember, search engines are interested in producing results that are beneficial to the user.
Vary Your Keywords
Google is wary of keywords and anchor text that appear over and over again. If your site’s backlinks all contain the same keyword-rich anchor text, it’s usually a sign those links weren’t acquired naturally.
Shoot for a variety of keyword anchor text, and don’t use the same one each time. This is where the statistics for partial match and exact match keywords come in. In general, try to earn only a few exact keyword matches. Partial keyword phrases are more forgiving, but variation helps in each phrase or term.
And when you’re linking internally or externally, don’t make your anchor phrases too long. Best practice dictates that they should be eight words or fewer for maximum benefit.
For example, if your aromatherapy store is the only store in Atlanta selling sustainable, ethically sourced essential oils, you might want others to link to your website with the keyword phrase “sustainable essential oils in Atlanta.” However, you want the keywords to be varied so you can avoid Google penalties. Similar phrases like these might help:
“Here’s a great site for sustainable essential oils.”
“Buy quality sustainable oils in Atlanta.”
Each anchor phrase carries pieces of the original keyword, yet they’re varied enough to pass the Google algorithm’s muster.
Bottom Line: Don’t Disregard the Power of Anchor Text
Although dwindling to a degree, anchor text continues to carry weight for current search engine algorithms. Early over-reliance on anchor text has led to a crackdown on the way we use anchor text for SEO purposes. Your mission is to keep earning relevant backlinks with varied keywords, which will help your site earn a place near the top of Google’s rankings.
Search engine optimization is essential for the success of your website. Eminent SEO can help optimize your content (including external links) as well as review your backlink profile. Just call 800.871.4130 if your company needs help with better content and earning stronger backlinks.
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.
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.
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 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?
Taking Advantage of the AMP Platform
AMPs 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.
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!