SEO

The Evolution of Google’s SERPs
1024 576 Kerri Rogers

The Evolution of Google’s SERPs

Google was officially launched in 1998. Over the past 20 years, it has gone through numerous updates and its SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages) have undergone some dramatic changes.

The evolution of Google’s search engine completely changed the way businesses do their online marketing. Once, not too long ago, Black Hat SEO tricks would get your site ranking for your keywords, but these days as Google focuses on providing the best answers for its users – high-quality content and user experience have become the key to SEO.  

But just how did Google evolve into the behemoth it is today, and how have its search results changed over the years? Like many modern tech stories, this one starts in a garage with a couple of university students.

 

Googles SEPRs changed to include paid advertisement

1996

Larry Page and Sergey Brin, two students at Stanford University were working on a project known as “BackRub” where they were developing a search algorithm.

 

1998

Google was launched and the very first SERPs was displayed.

The first ever Google search was conducted by computer scientist John Hennessy, to whom Page and Brin were demonstrating the accuracy of their algorithm.

Hennessy typed in ‘Gerhard Casper’ into the search bar. Gerhard Casper was the president of Stanford University at that time, and instead of displaying results for Casper the Friendly Ghost – as their rival search engine AltaVista did – Google’s search results showed relevant links to the person, Gerhard Casper.

 

2000

Google launched Adwords.

Originally only launched for 350 advertisers, 2000 marked the beginning of pay-per-click advertisements in SERPs.   

Paid results generally appear at the top of SERPs and are primarily powered by keywords. They generally look pretty similar to organic search results but have a lower CTR (3.82% vs organics 65.72% as of Feb ‘18).

 

 

Google Search Results became available in 10 new languages Source:journaldunet.com

2000

Google went international, launching in 10 new languages – French, German, Italian, Swedish, Finnish, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch, Norwegian and Danish. Allowing users to conduct searches in these languages, and for content creators to have their content in these languages discovered.

 

The evolution of Googles SERPs now included images

2001

Google Image Search arrived.

Not only could users search for links to content, but they could also search through over 250 million images in its database.

Images could be displayed at the top of some SERPs (where relevant), giving content creators more incentive to add images to their sites and add appropriate HTML attributes so Google could display them for users.

 

Google SERPs started displaying local listings

Source: Google

2004

Local search results were launched and provided relevant neighbourhood business listings, maps and directions.

Prior to Google Local, users were searching more for information, but with the launch of Local, Google understood that its users would want to use its search engine to find local products and services online.

 

2005 was the year Google Maps was launched

Source: Peterme.com

2005

Google Maps was launched. A feature that has changed lives and made it easy for everyone to navigate new areas and find places without getting lost.

 

The Google Plus Box came to SERPs

Source: Matt Cuts blog

2006

The Google Plus box was added to search results.

If someone searched for a business and Google had further information, such as the business address, they would add a small plus box, that when clicked, it would expand to show this information.

 

Google introduced Place Search in 2010

Source: CNN

2010

Google introduced Place Search.

From Google Local to Google Maps and Plus Box, the search engine was making it much easier for customers and stores in the same vicinity to connect.  

At the time that it launched, everyone was taking notice because of the dramatic change it had on the look for Googles SERPs.

Place added 7 local listings to the traditional Google organic search listings. It included a Google map window of the listings locations and the address, phone number, and the number of Google reviews.

This was great for local businesses as users aren’t always looking for a website. By filling out their Google Local+ business page, they could have more information listed in their results allowing users to connect with them offline.

 

SERPs displaying contnet that has used schema markup

2011

Schema markup was introduced by Google, Bing and Yahoo as an initiative to create a unified set of schemas for structured markup.

Rich snippets had been introduced prior to this (in 2009) but were not widely adopted and not displayed in most SERPs. The introduction of Schemas markup and a more structured way to annotate data meant that rich snippets have become ever more popular in the SEPRs.

Rich snippets are especially helpful for e-commerce stores as they can display information such as ratings, price, and availability of products as a way to entice a user to click on their listing.

2011

On top of Schema Markup, 2011 was the year Google+ authors were added to listings.

It was implemented as a way for users to discover content written by experts in their field and let them know they could trust the link they were clicking on.

For authoritative authors, this was great. Having their name on their listing was easy to implement through Google’s own Google+ platform and often increase CTR and return visits.

 

SERPs now displayed the knowledge graph

2012

Google launched the Knowledge Graph in May of 2012, creating a huge change to the structure of their SERPs.

The Knowledge Graph displays a panel on the right-hand side of search results that pulls information from the web to give quick snippets and summaries of information the user is searching for.

For example, in the listing above it displays; release date, directors, a quick summary of the plot, cast members and other movies people have searched for.

Each piece of information links to the site where the information was pulled and you can get more detail. While the Knowledge Graph is great for users wanting to find information quickly, it hurts sites and creators that provide information by generating fewer clicks for them.

evolution of Google search engine

2013

When Google’s Carousel launched in 2013 it was originally for Local, displaying listings for things like hotels, nightlife and restaurants. However, this dropped just a year later and replaced with panels like the one shown below.

google SERP changes

This did not mean the end of the carousel, and it has been implemented into a number of search results such as ‘US Presidents’ and ‘Movies 2019’

 

Quick answers displayed in google serps

2013

The introduction of ‘Quick Answers’ (which later became Featured Snippets). Much like the Knowledge Panel, quick answers gave users information right on the SERP, but unlike the Knowledge Graph, the majority of them came from Google’s own knowledge base meaning they had no links to sources.

the evolution of Googles results pages

2014

The ‘In the News’ box started to be displayed in SERPs and was later renamed ‘Top Stories’ and became a carousel.  

The change in name came in 2016 due to some issues Google was having with displaying fake news in this box. Google News vets all the publications that it displays, but the Google News box just displays ‘newsy’ stories from across the web. The similar names were causing confusion and Google was receiving backlash for some of its results.

Featured snippets became a common occurrence in Googles SERPs 2016

Quick answers officially became ‘Featured Snippets’

The Featured Snippets showed a quick summary answer to the search query, displayed at the top of search results and could take a number of forms including paragraphs, lists, and tables.

There are a number of advantages to gaining the featured snippet:

 

  • Authority: Google chose your page or site to deliver the answer.
  • Ranking ahead of your competitors: You might not rank top for a search term but if you get the featured snippet you will be displayed at the top of the results, effectively outranking your competition.

 

With that being said, the concern content creators have with Featured Snippets is as they provide answers right there on the SERPs (or even as voice answers if the questions come through Google Home), that there is no need for the user to visit their site.

Google Jobs was launched in 2017

2017

When Google launched Jobs in 2017, it caused massive disruption to the recruitment industry.

Have you ever searched for a job online before? Of course you have, and it is a nightmare. From different companies using different terminology to poorly written or out of date job descriptions the process can often leave you wanting to bang your head against a wall.

Enter Google.

With the aim to improve the job search process for both employees and employers Google has continued to improve its search capabilities so that users can find jobs that are well matched to them and filter results by things like date posted, commute time, etc.

Googles SERPs Video Carousel

2018

Google began including videos in a carousel. Previous video results had been displayed with a thumbnail in organic results. At the same time this change was implemented, the number of SERPs that displaying video results increased.

What does the future hold for SERPs?

In March of 2018, Google started conducting Zero SERP tests. On a selected number of  Knowledge Cards, with simple queries such as time and date, Google displayed results to the searcher with no organic results, just the knowledge card.

A “show all results” button was displayed underneath, that the user had to click on for organic results. While Google only conducted these tests for around a week, it could be an ominous sign of what is to come.

1000 654 Kerri Rogers

7 free SEO tools you need for your 2019 Online PR Strategy

In search of the best free SEO tools for 2019? Look no further, we’ve compiled a list of our favourite SEO tools that every digital marketer needs to know about.

We work smartest and fastest when we have the right tools at our disposal. This is particularly true when it comes to SEO and digital PR, as the right tools can help us automate and scale some of the more time consuming, but completely necessary parts of the job.

Whether you’re a digital PR pro, an entrepreneur, or a online marketer simply looking for a toolkit update, you’ll be sure to find everything you could need within our list.

Here are 7 free SEO tools that can help you with site audits, reporting, keyword research and more, just to make your job that little bit easier:

 

1. Google Search Console

Google Search Console is a suite of helpful tools straight from Google. You can see if you have duplicate metadata, how many pages you have indexed, security issues and more.

These insights can be invaluable, bringing to your attention errors and bugs you may not have been aware of that are negatively impacting your site’s visibility in search. Once you become aware of them and get them fixed you could see some noticeable changes in your rankings and traffic.

Top Tip: Use the performance report within Google Search Console to identify any landing pages on your site with a particularly low click through rates (CTR). This is a great starting point to help decrease those all important impression:click ratios!

 

2. Bing Webmaster Tool

As you may expect, Bing Webmaster tool doesn’t quite live up to the standard set by Google’s Search Console but it’s still worth including on our list as your visibility in Bing may still be important to your overall marketing mix.

Did you know that Bing and Yahoo combined search traffic makes up 33% of the search market share? This is a THIRD of all search traffic, so it’s important to remember to there are other engines out there that may index and rank your site very differently to Google.

Top tip: Both Bing Webmaster Tool and Google Search Console require the installation of a bit of code on your site. If you’re using WordPress as your CMS there are some handy (also free) plugins such as Yoast and Jetpack that can make these installations quick and easy for even least tech-savvy marketers.

 

Keywords Everywhere: A great free SEO chrome extension

3. Keywords Everywhere

Keywords Everywhere is an amazing free Chrome Extension (also available on Firefox if that’s your thing) that literally does what it say on the tin – gives you keywords, everywhere!

It dynamically adds keyword volume and suggestions into almost every search bar you can think of. From eBay and Amazon to Google and YouTube, wherever your audience is searching for your products, services or content, you can get accurate insights into search volumes, competition and a list of suggested relevant keywords as well.  

 

Free SEO tools for 2019: Google PageSpeed Insights

4. Google PageSpeed Insights

If you weren’t already aware, page load times are a significant ranking factor for search engines.

Google’s PageSpeed Insights lets you check the speed and usability of your site not just on desktop but on mobile as well.

Simply enter your URL and it will measure your lead time and give you recommendations on how to improve it.

 

5. Google Analytics

If you want to get serious about your SEO you need to be using Google Analytics.

It tracks every piece of data imaginable relating to your website traffic. It’s completely free and can give you info such as how visitors located your site, what pages they are clicking on most and loads more helpful insights. It’s basically the only SEO analytics tool you need to see how well your SEO strategies are performing.

 

6. Microdata Generator

If you’re not a coder using schema markup for your site can seem a bit scary. Well, Microdata Generator makes it easy. If you are a local business you can simply put in your business info and the free tool will generate the code you need.

Schema markup helps tell search engines what your data means so can be a great way to push your site up the rankings by adding context to your indexable content.

 

Free seo tool: Website Penalty Indicator

7. Website Penalty Indicator

Ever wondered if your site has been with a Google Penalty? Well, Website Penalty Indicator can help you figure that out. The free tool shows you a graph of your website traffic and lines it up with Google algorithm updates. By seeing noticeable drops in traffic line up with dates of algorithm updates you can see where your site has been penalised.

 

These are just 7 of the best free SEO tools that marketers need to use in 2019. If you think we have missed any vital tools off our list let us know in the comments.

Digital PR and SEO events to attend in 2019
1024 1022 Kerri Rogers

13 Digital PR and SEO events to attend in 2019

Here at JBH, we love to attend digital PR conferences and SEO events. They provide a great opportunity to meet and network with fellow industry experts and learn more about new and exciting developments that can inspire ideas for future campaigns and projects that we work on.  

Conferences and events bring a wealth of opportunity to build your network and gain valuable industry knowledge and insight, so for this reason, we’ve put together our comprehensive list of the top digital PR and SEO events throughout the UK in 2019:  

 

BrightSEO, SEO event in Brighton

@brightonseo Instagram

1. BrightonSEO | Brighton | 11-12 April & 12-13 September

BrightonSEO has become an institution in the UK, starting off in a small room in a pub with just a few attendees it has now grown to become one of the UK’s largest SEO conferences hosting over 4,000 guests last year.

Set in the beautiful seaside town of Brighton, over 2 days, some of the best and brightest in the SEO industry host talks and small group sessions sharing detailed and practical SEO insights.

 

Read our key takeaways from September 2018’s BrightonSEO Conference

 

2. SMX London | London | 21-22 May

Anyone who knows anything about SEO has probably gathered some of their knowledge from the Search Engine Land blog – one of the best sources of SEO industry news and technical developments you can find. SMX is their three day SEO event in London, that you can attend to improve your search marketing efforts.

The talks are designed to be accessible to both newbies and veterans, meaning that every attendee will be able to take away practical and actionable tips from their sessions that cover almost every topic imaginable in search.

 

CMALive - one of the top SEO events to attend in the UK

@hellocma Instagram

3. CMA Live | Edinburgh | 5-6 June

CMA Live is an Edinburgh based content marketing event that plays hosts some incredible speakers in the content marketing industry. Past speakers include Ann Handley of Marketing Profs and Chris Brogan, CEO of Owner Media Group so you can expect this years line up to be just as exciting.

These industry experts are constantly creating incredible content for the web and attending CMA Live gives you the opportunity to learn first hand the practical experience and technical knowledge they can share.

 

4. SearchLove | London | 14-15 October

SearchLove conference takes place over 2 days in October each year. Guest speakers give presentations on content creation, analytics, trends, mobile search and a range of other digital marketing topics.

It is geared toward both in-house and agency professionals as well as business owners and marketing managers looking to improve their SEO strategies.

 

Marketing Show North, formerly Prolific North Live, digital marketing event

@ziferblatlpl Instagram

5. Marketing Show North | Manchester | 27-28 Feb

Marketing Show North is the biggest digital marketing event outside of London (formerly Prolific North Live). It covers more than just SEO and digital PR going into broader topics of media, branding and marketing and sales.

 

6. Outreach Conference | London | 8 June

Outreach Conference is the UK’s only event that is dedicated entirely to outreach, digital and online PR. Here you’ll learn all about the techniques, tips and tricks that go into gaining links and coverage for your campaigns.

Top industry professionals host sessions on mindset, creativity and outreach strategy, providing you with a ton of tips to generate coverage and improve your website’s backlink profile.

 

SEO and Digital PR conference

@ungagged Instagram

7. Ungagged | London | 1-3 April

Ungagged is a 2-day SEO & Digital Marketing event taking place on April 1st and 2nd, with day long intensive masterclasses happening on April 3rd.

Ungagged isn’t your typical marketing conference and promises an unconventional delivery with uncensored sessions that are sure to both inform and entertain.

 

8. Search Leeds | Leeds | 20 June

Search Leeds is one of the few SEO events in the North of England. Its tagline is ‘No sales pitches – just actionable advice’ and that’s exactly what you get. Speakers are search industry specialists who really know their stuff, running sessions to share their knowledge. You really do come away from this event feeling like you’ve really learned something. Plus, it’s completely free of charge to attend!

 

9. International Search Summit | London | 20 May

This is the event to attend if you are running an online, digital marketing or SEO project that involves multiple countries and/or languages.

The summit complements the larger SMX London event (as it’s organised by the same team) but this part of the conference focuses primarily on the linguistic and cultural challenges which can affect the operational running of a multilingual site.  

 

10. Atomicon | Newcastle Upon Tyne | 8 March

Atomicon is a marketing event with a difference. They brand themselves as the most fun digital marketing event in the UK and put a core focus around providing practical insights on a range of topics as well as advising how you can implement them to ensure what you learn is going to make an impact.

 

11. Marketing Technology Expo | London | 27-28 March

This two-day expo showcases all the latest and greatest technologies and that are impacting modern marketing practices.

They boast an impressive range of speakers this year including Andrew Fryer from Microsoft, Yoann Pavy from Depop and Martin Tavener from IBM.

 

12. Benchmark Search Conference | Manchester | TBA

Benchmark Search Conference is the North’s leading search marketing event, packed full of inspiring, engaging and entertaining talks from world-renowned experts.

Last years event featured speakers from huge industry names such as SEMrush, Google, Canon, Barclays and BingAds. While this year’s event details have not yet been released, we can expect it to be just as inspiring.

 

Digital PR and SEO events 2019

@liveryonchev Instagram

13. Youth Marketing Strategy | London | 16-17 April

This event gives attendees a youth perspective and helps brands understand the latest trends, meaning you leave will everything you need to know about winning over the most diverse, influential and ambitious generation of young people yet.

 

Get started building authoritative links to improve your SEO.

what you need to know about voice search
1024 683 Kerri Rogers

OK Google; what do I need to know about voice search?

Comscore predicts that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020. How can your business prepare for the inbound voice search revolution?

 

The rapid growth of voice search

Voice search is something that is now an integral part of many people’s everyday lives but just a few years ago it was little more that a gimmick.

Remember way back in 2011 when Siri came out on the iPhone 4S? It seems like a lifetime ago in terms of technology. When it first came out, Siri was frustratingly bad and totally impractical to use. In 2011, iPhone users would laugh at the hilarity of the way Siri would interpret their requests; today however, according to Hubspot, 19% of iPhone users engage with Siri at least once a day.

That’s almost 1 in 5 iPhone users daily using their voice assistant. So, if the voice search revolution is already well underway and more users are conducting voice searches, do your content marketing efforts need to change?

The thought of adopting new technologies and adapting to change can be overwhelming and some businesses had to be dragged kicking and screaming into the twenty first century and are now paying the price as they can’t meet consumer demand.

Change can be scary but with it also comes opportunity. By incorporating voice search into your SEO strategies you provide a service your users want and put yourself ahead of your competitors.

 

Why businesses need to care about voice search

Why should you care about voice search?

Some stats to convince you that voice search is something you should be thinking about:

  • There will be 21.4 million smart speakers in the US by 2020 according to Activate
  • Comscore predicts that 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020
  • 40% of adults now use voice search once per day according to Location World
  • 25% of 16-24s use voice search on mobile according to Global Web Index
  • 41% of people using voice search have only started in the last 6 months according to MindMeld
  • 25% of searches on Windows 10 taskbar are voice – on desktop! according to Bings Purna Virji
  • 42% of people with voice-activated devices say it has quickly become “essential” to their lives according to Geomarketing.com

Brands need to be where their audience are if they want to be heard. It might seem obvious to point out but if your customers are using voice search, and your website is not optimised for voice search, you are going to have less visibility with your audience.

Voice search is still an emerging technology but it is being embraced by consumers at a rapid pace. While at the moment, a lot of voice assistant may have a limited capacity, learning how to take advantage of them now will lessen your learning curve as the technology gains more applications, in addition to giving you an advantage of visibility over competitors who have not yet optimised for voice search.

 

Google search results for 'How does voice search work?'

Is there a limitation to how much information you can answer a voice search with?

While some consider a pitfall of voice search the limitation to the amount of information you can respond with, as a brand you should look at this as an advantage.

Type search on Google and other search engines can be overwhelming for users. They have to wade through a lot of results and it can be difficult for them to find the information they are looking for. Voice search can simplify this process, giving you the opportunity to give simple, clear and conversational answers to consumers.

 

How is consumer behaviour changing?

A consumer that types a query into Google will behave differently than a consumer that speaks to Google.

 

Voice search has longer queries

According to More Visibility the average search through typing is around one to three words but voice searches are much longer, generally including seven or more words.

People talk to their voice assistants as if they are a person. Instead of typing in ‘Chinese restaurant’ a user will ask ‘OK Google, where’s the nearest Chinese restaurant?’

Betsy Rohtbart from Vonage told Forbes “with online search, a slew of otherwise random words yields a narrowed list of final results: “non-slip stair covering beige.” With voice search, however, a query or command gets a response: “Alexa, order more yogurt.” “Siri, where is the nearest park?” Create content that keeps the conversation going, rather than ends it.

You might not think this change in language is a significant difference but those few extra words provide more context and change the type of content that the user is searching for. By providing conversational content you can help give a richer answer that is more likely to lead to a conversion.

 

voice searches are often locally based

Local Search

According to Search Engine Watch voice searches are three times more likely to be locally-based than text searches.

A lot of voice searches happen on the go, through mobile devices, so this makes sense. Voice search allows Google to retain information from your previous search, for example if you ask ‘where am I?’ it will remember the answer if your next question is ‘show me things to do here.’

A user can have a full conversation with Google and go on to get attraction information or contact details and make a call without ever having to leave the search engine or visit a company’s site.  

As a result of this change in search behaviour it is more vital than ever for businesses to keep up to date profiles on sites like Google My Business. Having the correct information such as address, opening hours, phone number, website easily accessible through search results makes for a more seamless experience for users. By having this information available within SERP’s business have a greater chance of getting offline conversions.

 

Search intent

Elongated search terms can help business of both local and enterprise level understand the users intent. Through text based search a user might type something like ‘camera shop,’ but this doesn’t tell you much about what the user is after. They might want to buy a camera, they might want to speak to someone and ask for advice regarding which type of camera they need, or they might be trying to find a shop that can repair their camera.  

A voice searcher will typically search in more complete sentences asking something like ‘Where can I buy a Nikon camera in Manchester?’ or ‘Camera sensor cleaner near me.’ If you are a smaller brand that struggles to rank for short and highly competitive search term, you might find that gearing your SEO strategy towards these longer voice search phrases and questions will give you better results.

 

How do you design for voice search?

Voice search has no visual interface

As content creators, when trying to create content that provides helpful answers to our audience, we not only think about the text but the way that it is displayed; incorporating visuals, layout and structure to ensure that it provides the most value to our audience.

Voice search, unlike type search, has no visual interface though, meaning as creators we have to rethink the UX design. In the coming years we can expect to see voice commands turn UX design on its head in much the same way mobile touch screens did just a decade ago.

Rather than thinking about UX design in terms of visuals we need to think about it in terms of how users digest information. Text will become the focal point of content and rather than creating a design with placeholder text, the choice of words will become the most important aspect.

 

The current state of voice search

Virtual assistants have become more familiar to us and the likes of Siri, Alexa, Cortana and Google are now entwined in our lives. They make finding information easier and are more intuitive than type search, changing the way search engines operate and the way business present their information online.

A Bright Local study from 2018, found the following:

  • 58% of consumers have used voice search to find local business information in the last 12 months
  • 46% of voice search users look for a local business on a daily basis
  • What consumers want most: to be able to use voice search to make reservations, to hear business prices, and to find out which products businesses have
  • 27% visit the website of a local business after making a voice search
  • Consumers are most likely to perform voice searches to find further information on local businesses they already know about
  • Voice searchers are most likely to look for restaurants, grocery stores, and food delivery

Local businesses are seeing a large impact from voice search and we can see that clearer search intent is leading to users to follow up with businesses, becoming leads and then possibly converting to customers. These stats make it clear that voice search optimisation should be a key marketing strategy in 2019 for any local business owner.

 

Amazon Echo giving a voice answer to a voice search

Smart speakers

In 2016, Amazon released its smart speaker, the Amazon Echo and sold 11 million units in that year. Smart speakers quickly became the hottest new trend in voice tech, so of course Apple and Google weren’t far behind in creating their rival devices; Apples HomePod and Google Home.

Since then many smart speakers have launched smaller and more affordable versions to make them more accessible, meaning almost anyone can own one. Amazon now has the Echo Dot and Google the Home Mini and each can be purchased for under £30.00.

2018 research by YouGov found that one in ten people in the UK now owns a smart speaker and according to GeoMarketing, 65% of people who own an Amazon Echo or Google Home can’t imagine to going back to the days before they had a smart speaker; showing that this is clearly not a fad that’s going to pass.

It will come as little surprise that younger audiences are embracing smart speakers more compared to their older counterparts. Business who have audiences primarily made up of under 36 year old may need to focus on optimising for voice search as research by CapTech Consulting found the following:

  • The majority of smart speaker owners are aged between 18 and 36 (53%)
  • 32% are aged 37 to 52
  • Only 15% of smart speaker owners are aged 53 and over

Speakers can provide a great opportunity for businesses as voicebot.ai and Verto Analytics research found that smart speaker owners used their devices much more frequently than smartphone owners; averaging 2.79 times per day in and 0.33 times comparatively.

 

People eating at a restaurant they found using voice search

Industries that can benefit most from voice search optimisation

Voice search will predominantly be adopted by younger generations who are more adaptive to new technologies and will also have a big impact on local businesses. However, there are also specific industries that can expect to see a greater change in the way users find (or don’t find) their business as voice search becomes a more common.

According to the Bright Local survey, the top industries for voice searches are:

  • Restaurants / Cafés (51% of consumers would use voice search to find)
  • Grocery stores (41%)
  • Food delivery (35%)
  • Clothing stores (32%)
  • Hotels / Bed & Breakfasts (30%)

A thinkwithGoogle report found that there was a 2.1 times increase in mobile search for ‘stores open now’ and ‘food open now’ from 2015 – 2016 which can be linked the the rise of voice search on smartphones and smart speakers over this time.

As users behaviour is changing through voice search industries like food/restaurants need to adapt their current search and SEO strategies if they want to maintain or grow their market share.

 

languages that are character based are likely to quickly adopt voice search because of convenience

International voice search

If you have an international business, operating in countries like Korea, Japan or Greece where they have character based languages – that are much more time consuming to type than alphabet based languages – voice search will be key to you staying relevant in your market.

We are likely to see an even more rapid adoption of voice search in these countries due to the convenience that it offers; saving users a huge amount of time over type searching, especially on mobile where keyboards are small and more difficult to operate with a language that has a larger number of characters.

The head of search marketing at Google Southeast Asia, Balazs Molnar said about Asian voice search:

“While voice search and commands are unlikely to replace typing completely, in many Asian languages it’s harder for people to type using a small keyboard. For instance, character-based languages or languages with a lot of diacritical markers, like Vietnamese. People find it easier to speak rather than type on their phones.”

 

Are brands optimising for voice queries?

The short answer is not really. Brands, although aware of the voice search revolution seem not to be focusing their marketing efforts in this area either because they don’t know what they need to do or because their competitors aren’t.

This gives forward thinking brands an opportunity to get ahead of the curve and impress their audiences with voice search optimisation.

 

How can you optimise for voice search?

 

Schema Markup example on a search result from Google

  1. Use structured data

When creating content your main focus should be your audience, with that being said you also need to structure your content so that its optimised for search engines.

Factors beyond your content help to determine a pages ranking in the SERPs and Schema markup is one that is highly relevant to voice search.

Schema data is essentially meta data and is put into your sites source code. While it has no effect on what visitors see it, effect how search engines crawl your site and helps to organise and classify your content.

When a user is making a voice search, especially something local, they are generally looking for something like opening times or directions and you can use schema markup to classify this information on your site so it is easy for Google to use it as an answer for voice search.

If you search for the population of the United Kingdom, Google can give you a quick answer right in the SERPs because they can pull this information from World Banks due to their use of Schema markup.

 

Google My Business for voice search

  1. Google My Business

As we’ve already covered, a large amount of voice searches are local searches. By leveraging your Google My Business you can give your customers and easy way to find you and help Google provide accurate and up to date information about your business.

You might have all your contact information on your site and think that that is enough to appear in local searches but its not the case. If someone searched for ‘Content Marketing Agency Northampton’ then having optimised your search for local keywords gives you a high chance of ranking for this term.

However, if they searched for ‘Content Marketing Agency near me’ Google would be looking at the location of the user and use Google My Business listings to provide results.

The vital elements to have included in your listing are your business name, address, phone number and opening hours. Beyond that it’s also a good idea to fill out the introduction field as it’s a great opportunity to pitch your business to the searcher.

 

 

  1. Make sure your site is mobile friendly

Voice search happens on the go so having a mobile friendly site is essential for voice optimisation.  

Your site needs to be responsive, giving users a seamless experience over desktop, mobile and tablet. With short attention spans you also need to prioritise your page load speeds, ideally getting them under 2 seconds to provide the best user experience and stop visitors going back to the search results after they have found your site.

 

  1. Create FAQs

Voice responses from search engines tend to be pretty short – averaging around 26-35 words. If you want your content to be pulled for voice search responses you need information that is this concise.

The current technology used for voice search does not give it the ability to crawl through a 1000 word blog post and pick out the vital bit of information a user is after so as a brand you need to think about short form content for voice search.

Identify questions that users might be searching for and create an FAQ page with short, concise and informative answers.

Questions coming from voice search often include “who” and “what” type questions. Create conversational and quick answers to any questions, relevant to your business and you will have a greater chance of attracting users to your site

 

Google is not the only search engine you need to consider when optimising for voice search

  1. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket

When it comes to voice search, it’s far from a one horse race. While the majority of the search market share is held by Google it is not the search engine of choice for all voice assistants.

Siri, Google assistant, Alexa and Cortana are 4 of the biggest voice assistants but only 2 are powered by Google – Siri and Google Assistant.

Alexa and Cortana are both powered by Bing. While a lot of SEOs measure success by their Google rankings, checking your Bing rankings is something that needs to be taken into account.

With 20 million Amazon Echos sold, and their assistant Alexa powered by Bing, your brand needs to take into account your Bing results if you want to get in front of these users.

 

How voice search benefits your business

As voice search answers questions without redirecting the user to a site you might think that it’s not going to be of benefit to your business however, there are a lot of advantages to incorporating voice search into your SEO strategy.

 

Voice answers from stand alone devices like the Echo can help boost your brand awareness.

With voice answers, unlike type answers there is no benefit to being in position 2. The search engine only has 1 answer to give rather than letting the user choose from the top results. By investing in being the brand that provides the best answers to voice questions you can have an edge over your competitors because the voice users is only going to come into contact with your answer.

While voice searches do demand short answers, on mobile where a user has a screen device they can still result in click throughs to your website. Answers from featured snippets, which are primarily used for voice search answers, actually drive organic traffic beyond that of regular search results – especially on mobile where most voice searches are done.  

 

People talk at 150 words per minute but are only able to type at a fraction on that, averaging at 40 words a minute. Speaking is the more natural way for us to interact with our surrounding and search for information so as voice technology advances brands must prepare for the shift to voice search if they want to maintain and grow their market share.

 

Learn everything you need to know about content marketing in our definitive guide.

 

Are nofollow links worth having?
1000 666 Kerri Rogers

Are nofollow links worth your time and money?

What is a nofollow link?

A nofollow link refers to a link with a nofollow HTML attribute. This attribute is used to tell search engine crawlers that the link should not affect the domain or page ranking of the site the link is pointing to or pass on any ‘link juice’.

Users visiting the page will still be able to use the link but search engine crawlers will not follow it and it will not pass on any SEO value.

 

Black hat seo such as blog comment links are part of the reason nofollow links were invented

Why were nofollow links invented?

If you were around in the early days of the blogging boom you’ll likely remember that people started filling up the comment sections of blogs with ads to their own sites in order to improve their SEO.

To tackle this issue, in early 2005 Google’s Matt Cutts and Blogger’s Jason Shellen addressed the problem and came up with the nofollow HTML attribute.

It helped established and trustworthy sites by stopping their credibility being diluted by spammers and freeloaders attempting to take advantage of it to improve their own site’s reputation with search engines.

Blog comment spam occurs less often these days and is now considered a black hat SEO technique. Search engines algorithms, like Google’s, are also now much more advanced and discount blog comment links as they aware of the tricks people use to try and cheat the system.

Where are nofollow links used?

 

links on social media all have nofollow attributes

Social Media

Any links you post on social media, including links in your profile will all be nofollow links. This prevents you from just creating accounts on these platforms for SEO purposes and is used to prevent users from spamming these platforms with linked content that provides no value.

Comment Sections

Any website or blog that has a comment section will most likely have made sure that all the links posted will have nofollow attributes to prevent spamming, and so trustworthy sites don’t have their credibility taken advantage of.

Open submissions

Sites like Quora, YouTube, and Reddit, that allow users to submit content will all be nofollow links to stop you from being able to boost your link profile by going to these sites and posting a load of irrelevant links

Some publishers

Large publishers that have huge outputs of content (like Inc, Forbes and Huff Post) are now, more and more using nofollow links for any content created by their contributors. For the most part, this is due to the time that it would take an editor to check that every link in a submitted piece of content was relevant and worth passing on link juice to, and it puts more focus on creating content that is helpful for its users.

 

Why do nofollow links have such a bad reputation?

After the creation of the nofollow attribute, search engines not only told website owners to use it for their blog comments but also for any ad links as well. This way Google and other search engines would be aware of what content was sponsored and know not to pass any link juice on to that link.

The differentiation between paid and natural links protected site owners in later years when Google updated their algorithm and started penalising sites using black hat SEO and that were full of spam content.

Using nofollow links as an indication of paid content meant that many SEO’s wrote them off as completely worthless. Buying and selling links went from a huge industry to occurring much less and since then most content creators and SEO’s have avoided nofollow links like the plague.

Do nofollow links have value?

For the reasons stated above, nofollow links do not have the same value as dofollow links, but that does not mean that they are worthless. In fact, they can be hugely beneficial to your site, traffic, and reputation.

5 Reasons why nofollow links have value

 

1.Brand awareness

Major publishers such as Forbes, The Huff Post, The Mail Online and The Sun have all been replacing all their external links with nofollow links for some time. Does this mean that earning a link from a publication like this is not worth your time? The short answer: No.

When you’re out there trying to make a name for your business, links from sites like these can have a huge impact on your brand awareness and reputation. A nofollow link might not get you the SEO benefits from this site but it does add to your credibility and get you in front of new audiences.

Getting your brand name in front of these new audiences is vital to growing a business, especially if you are just starting out or have a niche product. Sites like Forbes are also considered highly trustworthy, they have a lot of credibility with their audience and a little bit of that gets passed on when your name is mentioned on their site.

Audiences generally trust major publications and news sites because they are established and will generally only report on something of merit, that’s worth talking about. If a potential customer sees your name in a major publication this adds to your social proof and they are much more likely to convert at a later stage of the buyer journey.

Not only that, but content that is high quality and published on top tier sites has a much higher chance of going viral, getting shared and generating buzz around your brand. While there is no direct way to measure the impact that this has on SEO, it is clear that there is some as Gary Illyes, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst said at the 2017 BrightonSEO conference:

If you publish high-quality content that is highly cited on the internet — and I’m not talking about just links, but also mentions on social networks and people talking about your branding. Then you are doing great.

 

2.SEO

Google says that it doesn’t transfer PageRank or SEO value across links that have a nofollow attribute.

In their blog, Google have said:

In general, we don’t follow them. This means that Google does not transfer PageRank or anchor text across these links. Essentially, using nofollow causes us to drop the target links from our overall graph of the web.”

The key phrase to focus on in this quote is ‘in general,’ which indicated that Google may make exceptions from time to time. Most likely, Google knows that high quality sites such as Wikipedia can’t afford to link to low quality sources or they would lose their audience, so even if these links are nofollow (which all of wikis are) it may still take it into account and adjust that pages position in the SERPs accordingly.

Rand Fishkin from Moz, tested this assumption by pointing nofollow links at pages and measuring the effect it had on their ranking; concluding that there ‘may be a relationship between ranking increases and in-content, nofollow links’  

3.Having a diverse link portfolio

If your link portfolio is made up of all the same kind of links from just a few domains – even if they are from high DA sites – they will lose impact. Links to your site that consistently come from the same domains signals to search engines that the link juice that is being passed on to you is no more than link doping and that these links are being gained for the purpose of generating sales and not to provide high quality content to users.

A non-diverse link portfolio, even if it is built up of links from high DA sites, will end up having the opposite effect on your SEO than you would have hoped for, as Google will penalise your website rankings. Diversification is essential in link building and even if a nofollow link is not passing along link juice it is still building your link portfolio and not insisting on dofollow links means you can get a more diverse range.

Why do nofollow links have such a bad reputation?

4.Snowball links

The Mail Online, The Sun and a number of other big publications often get requests from other sites to use their content. A nofollow link on a site like this can easily snowball into a number of dofollow links from smaller sites.

Small publications often look to bigger publications for content, so your content will be viewed by a number of other journalists. If you are creating valuable content that would resonate with their audience, journalists will then ask permission to use this content on their own site.

You can ask for dofollow links from any journalists that make these requests and you may end up with a bunch of new dofollow links from a diverse range of sites off of one piece of content you were tempted not to give to a site because they didn’t want to give you a dofollow link.

Social media is another great snowball source; any content that gets a lot of shares or goes viral will end up in front of a few journalists. As the digital landscape changes, journalists are using social media more and more as a source for content so even though a successful social media post won’t get you ranking no.1 for your main keyword it might help you generate some dofollow links that will get you on your way to that goal.

5.Traffic is traffic no matter the HTML attribute

Nofollow links will generate the same amount of referral traffic to your site as they would have if they were dofollow.

The nofollow attribute does nothing to stop users clicking through to your site, making referral traffic one of the biggest benefits of nofollow links. If you get a nofollow link from a site like HuffPost, that almost exclusively uses nofollow links, that still has a lot of value in the traffic that it will generate for your site. Huge publications like this have massive audiences and you will be getting in front of them giving you a much higher chance of driving traffic to your site.

For example, in WordStreams link bait case study, they created a piece of content with the intention to generate links and traffic. The article they created used buzzworthy topics like social media and a news topic of an upcoming senate race that generated a lot of buzz and was linked to on sites like The New York Times and Politico, both of which were nofollow links.

The New York Times is one of the most trusted and most visited new sites in the U.S and as a result of getting a nofollow link on their site they saw the referral traffic quadruple, with thousands of pageviews in hours. A clear example of just how valuable these kinds of links can be in getting in front of new audiences and driving people to your website.

 

Nofollow links are certainly far from worthless. There are loads of benefits to acquiring them especially if they come from top-tier sites that will then generate further links and traffic for you from your content.

Any link building plan should include nofollow links, they diversify your link portfolio can get you in front of some highly relevant audiences and drive traffic that could convert to customers to your site.

Need help with your next link building campaign. Get in touch with one of our Digital PR experts.

 

Don't let page load times kill your website’s SEO
1024 681 Kerri Rogers

Survival of the fastest: Don’t let page load times kill your website’s SEO

Having fast page load times is crucial for SEO success. It’s a strong ranking factor and indicates to search engines that you have a healthy, well maintained, high-quality site.

Not only is it important to search engines, but your users will also thank you for having a fast site. When was the last time you waited around for longer than a couple of seconds for a page to load on your browser? Probably years, with lightning fast internet and a growing culture of impatience, we all expect sites to load instantaneously.

 

Person using Googles search engine

 

What does Google say about page load speed?

Google is by no means the only search engine out there but it does have 82% of the market share in the UK and is the main focus for most sites when they want to improve their SEO due to the huge amount of traffic it generate. So, what does it have to say about speedy websites?

“You may have heard that here at Google we’re obsessed with speed, in our products and on the web. As part of that effort, today we’re including a new signal in our search ranking algorithms: site speed. Site speed reflects how quickly a website responds to web requests.” – Google Webmaster Blog

This might have been published way back in 2010 but its still relevant today. In 2018, optimising your website speed is not just an option, it’s a necessity, as in July Google released its Page Speed Update. Although speed has been used in ranking for since 2010, when first considered a factor, it was focused on desktop searches. With the Page Speed Update, it is now also a ranking factor for mobile searches.

 

website loading slowly

 

How your visitors are affected by slow page load times

It’s not just Google’s crawlers that are negatively affected by slow pages, users are too which in turn is affecting your bottom line.

According to the NN Group, 47 per cent of visitors expect a website to load in less than 2 seconds, and 40 per cent of visitors will leave the website if the loading process takes more than 3 seconds.

There are some simple steps you can take to optimise your page speed that in the long run will be well worth the time you invest in them through improved SEO and customer retention. But the first step to making improvements is knowing where you are starting from, and in order to do that you need to check the page load times on your website.

 

Checking your sites page load times

There are a few free tools you can use to assess the load times on your website. By analysing your current speed and determining where your site is falling behind you can improve your SEO and maximise the high-quality organic traffic to your site.

 

Using Google PageSpeed Insights to check page load times

 

Page Speed Insights

This is Google’s tool so will give you accurate readings of how Google’s crawlers will measure your site. It rates your website from 0 to 100 for both desktop and mobile and gives you a list of improvements you can make to your website in order of importance.

 

Using pingdom to check page load times

 

Pingdom

Pingdom gives you a slightly more in-depth report of your site speed and has the advantage of allowing you to test from multiple locations. For example, if most of your traffic is coming from the UK you can test from a London, UK server but if you are an international business you can also test from locations such as Washington D.C, Frankfurt, Tokyo and Sydney.

 

How fast should your site be?

If you’re not familiar with SEO it can be difficult to know whether the results you get are good or bad but as a good rule of thumb, you can look at page load speeds as falling into 3 categories:

  • < 1 seconds: Excellent
  • < 2.5 seconds: Acceptable
  • > 2.5 seconds: Poor

 

How can you optimise your page load speed?

Image optimisation

Images are probably the asset biggest in size on your website. They are an important design element and totally necessary in getting your users attention and converting customers but they all need to be downloaded from your server to your visitor’s device before they can be displayed.

By scaling your images appropriately and reducing their file size before uploading them to your site you can dramatically reduce page load times.

Get rid of unnecessary plugins

There are a tonne of great free and paid plugins out there that you may think are adding something useful to your site, while some are, some are not worth the resources they take up.

Every plugin you add delays your sites response and page load time so by removing any unnecessary plugins you can quickly shave off some milliseconds on your load speed.

Use browser caching

The first time someone visits your site their browser has to download all the elements that make up your site such as HTML, image and javascript files before they can use your page. These requests take time but if you leverage browser caching, the next time that browser visits your site the elements will have been saved in the temporary storage (the browser cache) and the page will load faster.

 

301 redirect

 

Ensure each page does not have more than one redirect

Redirects are definitely necessary and help stop 404 errors which can negatively impact SEO and user experience. Use 301 for permanent redirects such as a URL change or removed content and 302 for temporary redirects such as site maintenance or temporary promotions.

Keep your scripts below the fold

You can let your javascript files (which are usually quite hefty) load after your content, so your page will load faster but if you put them all above the fold, like many sites do, they will load before your content and slow down your site.

To prevent visitors having to wait for your javascript files to load, you can place them at the bottom of your page, before the close of your body tag so more of your site will load before the javascript.

You can also defer javascript files so your scripts load after the rest of your content has loaded, again this can be helpful in keeping users on your site as other files will load faster but make sure your scripts run late without breaking your site.

Enable compression

You know when you’ve got a bunch of files you want to send in an email but they’re too big to send so you zip them? Well, compression is like that but for your website.

It can significantly reduce the size of your page and therefore the time it takes to load by giving your visitors less data to download.

Compression is a server setting so you may have to contact your hosting company to have it enabled on your site.

 

As users have higher expectations and demands for richer and more engaging content the size of your site will continue to grow but with a little attention to detail and by optimising pages you can ensure that this does not negatively impact user experience or SEO through slow page load times.

 

Read our Free Guide: What is Digital PR? to find out how digital PR can boost your SEO through link acquisition

Person using search engine
1000 667 Kerri Rogers

The 3 elements of SEO success

There are hundreds of ranking factors that determine where your website sits on Googles search engine results pages (SERPS). Most of them fit into three key areas, that if you improve you should see your site ranking higher for relevant search terms.

 

Technical SEO

Possibly the most important part of SEO is Google (or any search engines) crawlers being able to find your website. Without being able to find your site there is no way for Google to be able to show it in their search results.

Not only does Google need to be able to find your site but it also needs to be able to crawl the content on it. By scanning your site it can identify keywords and the topic of your site so it can be displayed in appropriate SEPRs.

You might look at your site and think because you can see everything on your site without a problem Google can too. However, Googles crawlers can only crawl text – this means any nice images, audio, or other media you have Google can’t see.

This is where technical/onsite SEO comes in; it helps Google index your content.

 

Elements of technical SEO:

Navigation

Google crawls sites the same way you would – through the navigation and links. Ensuring all vital pages are linked (as text-only) means Google can find all of your important content and index it. Having internal links within your pages means that Google will also be able to find your less important content that isn’t directly linked in the navigation such as blog posts.

 

Page displaying 404 error

Links

Broken links can be bad for SEO but also for user experience. If you click on a link and get the 404 – ‘Page not found’ error then you need to redirect to either the new version of the page or an alternative page if that page is no longer available. This stops you losing valuable traffic and means once the crawler has clicked on that link it hasn’t reached a dead end and can keep crawling your site.  

 

URL structure effects SEO

URL structure

Both search engines and your users don’t like lengthy URLs or a URL that ends with a random string of characters or with a complicated structure. They are confusing and spammy; instead you should focus on creating sort, clear URL’s that have the focus keyword of the page included in them.

Page load times

Page speed can have a huge impact on user experience; a survey conducted by Akamai and Gomez.com showed that nearly half of web users expect a page to load in 2 seconds or less, and they tend to abandon a site that isn’t loaded in this time.

Not only is a slow site bad for your users but it is ranking factor for Google on desktop, and since July 2018 the Google Speed Update means its a ranking factor for mobile as well.

 

Content

Content is King – you’re probably sick of hearing it, but it’s true. Whenever you enter a search term into Google you are searching for content, this might come in different formats – infographics, videos, podcasts, blog posts – but its all content.

For SEO, content is what gets you visibility in results pages. This is because your content is providing answers to users search queries.

Regardless of what is being searched for the results are going to bring up some form of content. It might be different forms of content but it’s all content; having content published is the only way to appear in search results.

While crawling the page Google determines the topic of the page so that it can display it in relevant search queries. It will also determine the quality of the page through things like page length and structure, with higher quality pages displayed higher in the search results.

Keyword research

Keyword research is a way you can optimise your content for search engines. It can help you attract high quality and relevant traffic that will be more likely to turn into leads and convert into customers.

By discovering what phrases your potential customers are entering into search engines when looking for products or services like the ones you offer, you can then target those keywords and include them in your content for better search engine visibility.

On page SEO

On page SEO helps Google crawlers understand the page it’s on and mainly focuses on the words you use and where you use them.

  • Post title: place your keyword as close to the start of the title as possible
  • URL: include your keyword and remove your stop words
  • First 100 words: finding the keyword at the beginning of your page helps Google know that the page topic is correct
  • Atl tags: search engines can’t see images so using your keyword in alt tags helps add SEO value to your images

Link Building

Relevance, expertise, and authority are key factors that Google’s algorithm takes into consideration when ranking pages.

Backlinks can help you establish all three of these.

A backlink is content on another site that links to a page on your site.

 

Example of content linking back to JBH website

 

For example, the article above on unbounce features an infographic that our agency created so it links back to our site.

This link comes from a site relevant to ours (covering the same topic; content marketing) which provides more authority than coming from a random and irrelevant domain.

The more high quality links your site has the more of an authority on your topic you appear to Gooogle which is why when building links for SEO it’s not about quantity but quality.

Guest post JBH did for The CMA

Guest post JBH did for The CMA

Ways to generate links for your site:

  • Organic links: links that come organically from sites referencing great content you have created
  • Outreach: contact websites and pitching them ideas for content that they will find valuable and feature on their site that you can put a link back to your own site in
  • Guest posting: publishing a blog post on a third party website in return for being able to add a link back to your site in the post
  • Profile links: many websites offer the ability to add a link when setting up a profile.

 

These elements are responsible for your sites SEO success, by making effort to improve each one of them then you’ll start to see better rankings in the SERPS and in turn more high-quality traffic that will convert into customers.

 

Want to learn more about SEO and where it’s heading in future? Check out our key takeaways from this years BrightonSEO conference.

 

BrightonSEO front window
1024 538 Kerri Rogers

BrightonSEO: What we learned

BrightonSEO is a twice-yearly search marketing conference that welcomes 4,000 SEOs from across the globe to listen to some of the world’s top search marketers discuss the future of the industry.

For their September event, the conference chose a slogan of ‘Understand algorithms, understand the future’ and, of course, this meant they had a Back to the Future theme. Kelvin Newman, the conference’s founder, even came onstage to open the conference wearing a pair of Nike self-lace shoes and carrying a pink hoverboard.

 

the Delorean at brightonSEO

Source: Twitter

 

The conference bought in professionals from all backgrounds in digital marketing to give some great talks and share their keen insight into various aspects of the industry, covering everything from voice search to content strategy.

 

Key takeaways from BrightonSEO:

  • Web design is an important element of SEO. It helps build trust with your audience and provides them with a better user experience – user experience metrics (such as time spent on page) are having a greater ranking influence than ever before.

 

  • Inputting clients first party data into Facebook audience insights can give you insight into their audience, such as who they are, what they’re interested in and what they’ll engage with.

 

  • FOI (Freedom of Information) Requests can be used to gain access to public information that can help with idea generation and pitches to journalists.

 

  • 78% of online audiences are already watching Facebook Live videos.

 

  • Finding broken links to your competitor’s site and offering to replace them with your own content is a great tactic for keeping link building cheap.

 

  • When pitching to a journalist, don’t assume who their audience is, study their publications media and what you find might surprise you – The Daily Mails audience is 78% millennials, 68% mums, 6/10 are foodies.

 

  • Reputation is a ranking factor.

 

  • Related videos and Browse/Featured sections on YouTube are bigger sources of traffic than organic search.

 

  • For every 10 organic clicks on the SERPs, there are 8.8 searches that end in no clicks.

 

  • Google is monopolising its advertising space and trying to answer queries in the SERPS so now is the time to make your website the centre of your campaigns.

 

Rand Fishkin's Keynote at BrightonSEO

Source: Twitter

Highlights

Even though his talk encountered a few technical difficulties, Rand Fishkin’s keynote was one of the standout talks of the day. He covered the future of SEO, focusing primarily on the SEPRs, in a funny, if not slightly cynical 30-minute presentation, that delivered a ton of interesting insights into how Google has started taking advantage of its over 90% search market share.

 

Other highlights included a look into Data Journalism by Ross Tavendale, Marie Haynes dive into Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines and Laura Hogans presentation on Using Your Competitors For Free Links.

 

Want to learn more about optimising your content for search results? Check out our post on why content auditing is essential for SEO

Should your content marketing strategy include blogging every day?
1024 682 Kerri Rogers

Why we don’t blog every day [and you don’t need to either]

It’s a common misconception that if you have a blog, you should post every day. While regular blogs posts should be part of your content marketing strategy, daily blogs could do more harm than good.

 

You will destroy your social proof

Social proof is borrowing a third parties influence to build your own brand awareness and create trust with new and existing customers.

On your blog, this is the evidence left by previous readers (such as comments and shares) that sway your new visitor into reading your posts. They convince your readers that your post is interesting, worth the time it takes to read, and popular.

Without social proof, getting people to consume your content can be difficult.

If you post every day, that post is only at the top of your blog for one day. This means you will get less exposure versus posting once or twice a week. People are more likely to interact with the latest post on your blog, if you give a post longer at the top, you give it a chance to build engagement and social proof.

Readers also don’t have time to check your content every day as well as comment on and share it. If your posting every day they are probably skipping some of your content and only commenting on a few pieces.

 

You will lose subscribers

I’m pressed for time, you’re pressed for time and so are your readers. No one has time to read daily content from the multiple subscription emails they get.

You may have 3 or 4 unopened emails from one subscription in your inbox. Chances are when you do get the time to catch up and read them, you are only going to read the most recent one, and the rest will go straight in your trash.

If you bombard your subscribers with content, you will irritate them. As a result, they will either unsubscribe or just delete your emails without opening them.

 

You will be creating weak content

Good content takes time to create. If you’re focusing on churning out daily content rather than focusing on creating content that your audience wants to see, your blog is going to fail.

Weak or thin content that is not well researched or providing value to readers even gets penalised by Google. Google wants to give the best answers possible for its search queries so if you’re not offering a solution that can’t be found anywhere else thank your content will rank poorly.

 

 

What you should do instead…..

Now you know why daily posting should not be part of your content marketing strategy but what should you do instead?

 

Blogger conducting audience research for their blog

 

Create a content schedule

Plan your posts wisely. Excellent content starts before you sit down and write it.

Take a look at the upcoming month and plan content that is relevant to your industry events, any new data that is being released or important national holidays. This is more likely to grab your readers attention as it will be relevant to them at that moment in time.

If you are only creating 1/2/3 blog posts a week, you can spend more time on ideation and research. By developing your ideas more thoroughly, you can create in-depth content that is of more value to your readers.

It is much better to become known for your great insights (even if they aren’t posted frequently) than to be recognised for posting loads of boring, generic content.

 

Quality over quantity

Your blog is all about serving your customers needs. Think about the types of people you are trying to talk to through your blog; conduct research into the type of questions they might want answering and what information they will find interesting.

Don’t just create posts for the sake of it – think through your ideas and asses whether they are really something your audience would want to read. You will probably have to sift through a lot of garbage ideas to find some gold ones.

High-quality content will keep your audience engaged. They will begin checking back to your blog for answers when they have a question because they know that you have a lot of knowledge of your industry.

If you post content every day, it will become dull, and your audience will be able to tell that you are just adding filler posts. Chances are even if you reduce the number of posts you’re creating you will still spend the same time on blog content, but without the pressure to continually develop ideas and post content every day, you will be creating stronger more pleasing content that your audience will want to interact with.

 

Promote your content

Once you’ve written your post and you’re happy with it – proofread it, checked all the images and links and published it on your site- now is the time to promote, promote, promote!

This can take from days to weeks to do depending on your Digital PR and outreach skills. From using your social media base to contacting media publications, there are so many ways you can promote your content.

If you were creating content every day this would be impossible to do – there just wouldn’t be enough time. Not to mention the content would likely be too weak for any significant publications or influencers to want to share it.

Its a lot of hard work to promote content but the endgame makes it worth it. It should be one of the main focuses of your content marketing strategy; it allows you to reach new audiences and build your influence in your industry while at the same time build backlinks to boost your SEO.

 

Coming up with ideas for your content marketing strategy is not easy, check out these five helpful tools that can help you stay at the top of your game.

Content marketing audit
1024 680 Kerri Rogers

Spring clean your content: Why content auditing is essential for SEO

Content is King – this is not new information, everyone has been saying it for years. Having a grand content marketing strategy is what keeps users on your site and wanting more. These visitors then convert into customers – but creating this high quality, converting content takes time.

 

Performing a content audit is an important way for you to continue your content marketing success. It will help you identify what your audience want and allow you to develop fully formed ideas.

 

What is a content audit?

You can’t know where you are going if you can’t see where you already are – a content audit will help you figure out just that.

A content audit is similar to any other review – the focus of a content audit is to perform an inspection of your content, be that on your website or social media, and use the information you find to improve your content marketing strategy.

You go through the content on your website and then determine its relevance and success. Looking at the data you’ve compiled from each piece of content you can then conclude what needs updating, what needs to be added to, and what should be removed.

 

 

content marketer performing audit on their laptop

 

 

Why perform a content audit?

Content audits can be painstaking and precise experiences that takes up time. So, why would you want to do one?

When you think about it there are actually a lot of considerable benefits to auditing your content:

 

Determining what content is most relevant

The first and most important reason you will want to perform a content audit is it will help you to determine which of your digital content is most relevant to your target audience.

You can look at that content is trending, what is not performing well and therefore does not resonate with your target audience. From here you can use your compiled data to get a more in-depth understanding of your audience and create more successful content in future.

 

Improve your SEO

Performing a content audit on your site ensure your content gets the attention it deserves.

Content has gone the same way as backlinks now, its all about quality and not quantity. When you first started your site you may have had a strategy of posting content every day – in hindsight, you may notice now that this was not the best idea. Having lots of low quality or keyword stuffed content will have a negative impact on your Google search rankings.

By performing an audit of your content you can assess what is not useful to your audience, doesn’t provide value and is too generic. Removing content like this will help you boost your search rankings by showing Google you have more authority.

Users will be dwelling on your site for longer on the tremendous in-depth pieces you have created rather than bouncing on the out-of-date generic pieces you may have created before.

The elements of SEO are always changing and as new technologies like voice search emerge you will also need to think about how you can change and optimise content for new algorithms and audiences.

Learn everything there is to learn about content marketing with our Complete Guide.

 

Panda algorithm

Google has been rolling out penalties since its panda update for content that is ‘thin’ and provides little or no value. You may have thousands of pages on your site and frankly going through them all probably seems like a lot of work but if Google is penalising you for some of them, removing them will be a significant boost for your SEO.

Google has always been a bit tight-lipped about their algorithms, but with manual actions, they are a little bit different. If you submit your site for reconsideration to Google asking them to remove a penalty and they come back with a negative response, they will even occasionally tell you where you are going wrong and what the problem pages might be. This will help you know what types of content to avoid in the future.

 

Accuracy and consistency 

Information changes over time – statistics and research can become outdated, website links can change, pricing and team members within your business will change as well. A content audit can help you keep your site accurate and give you the opportunity to revise the incorrect content hiding in the nooks and crannies of your site.

 

Does your content speak for your business?

Many different people may be contributing to your companies content; management, digital PR, customer service etc.

Different teams will have different goals and different voices. This can end up sending a mixed message to your site visitors, confusing them and making them lose faith in your business. Auditing content allows you to flag up content that does not speak for your business – this can then either be re-written or removed.

 

Use your findings to take action

It’s not enough to just review and analyse your content, you must identify where its strengths and weaknesses are. Revise and remove content that is a hindrance to your site and create future content that will perform well based on your analysis.

 

Does your content need a boost? Find out how interactive content can skyrocket your content marketing strategy.