This Blog Is Written By The Content Authority

Navigation
CATEGORY: Search Engine

How Can Webmasters Leverage Personalized Search?

Google Search HistorySince 2005, Google has taken steps to deliver search results based on other signals besides inbound links and keyword placement. Personalized search was rolled out back in 2005. It was designed to give people better results based on search results they found useful and based on historical searches, whether they were logged into a Google account or not. Although on the surface it seems like the feature locks out some potential for optimization, there are still some ways webmasters can leverage personalized search to their advantage.

Marketing in SERPs

The basic underlying idea of personalized search is that people are more likely to find results they’ve found useful in the past relevant the next time they use the same query. Assuming your page already ranks well, there is another reason someone clicked through to your website, and that’s usually what they saw in the content that Google choose to show to them in SERPs.

Writing Compelling Meta Descriptions and Titles

Meta descriptions and titles are typically the data that Google shows to users from a web page. Granted, they don’t have to show these things; however, most of the time they do. Sometimes these elements aren’t given the proper attention, or they are not configured at all. This is a big mistake. When configuring these, remember to:

  • Use sales language for your meta description; this is your one chance to market to a user
  • Front-load your primary keyword phrase (at the beginning of titles and meta descriptions). People see these bolded in SERPs and are more likely to click when they see them
  • Remember to use proper length (around 72 characters for titles and 160 for meta descriptions)

A meta Description for the content authority

These are all very basic SEO concepts, but the devil is in the details. Think of the last time you searched for something online. Did you click because something was the first result, or did you click because you thought you saw what you were looking for?

Rich Snippets and Structured Data

Making it easy for Google to understand the data on your page is another step webmasters can take to ensure that content they want appearing in SERPs does. Using the microdata format and a little knowledge of HTML, you can markup content in your web pages so it is much more easily seen and understood by Googlebot.

Microdata

Microdata is the recommended method for marking up content, but webmasters can also use other methods. For every page of your website, you should apply markup code to data you want showing up for the target keyword phrase. This could be address information, a person’s name, a business name or a product description. You can learn more about the Microdata markup format here.

Examples of Rich Snippets

Focus on Quality Content

Quality contentPerhaps the best method that a website owner has for leveraging personalized search is the caliber of his or her content. Personalized search works best for sites where people want to come back again and again. These might be pages that work well as references, tutorial information, instructions or other useful formats.

Your content should be well-researched and authoritative. It should be something that people want to share and want to bookmark. It should be highly useful, unique and one of the best resources on the web for its particular niche. This is the content that does well in personalized search, and you may find that it shows up frequently at the top of search results for people, even if it isn’t optimized for search.

When personalized search first debuted, it may have scared a lot of SEOs because it would be that much more complicated to make sure content ranked well. It wasn’t just about placing elements in the right spots anymore, but about impressing users; a task that’s much more difficult and elusive. There are some things you can do, though, to make sure you put your best foot forward. Write compelling language in content that shows up in SERPs, make sure Google can easily see that content and focus on writing for real people and not for search engines.

 

Have you been able to leverage personalized search? How has it impacted your website. Let us know by dropping us a line or leaving a comment below.

Conversational Search: Game Changer or Novelty?

Conversational SearchWhen conversational search was rolled out at Google I/O, it was welcomed by a throng of Google glad-handers who marveled at what the search giant had been able to accomplish. Impressive it was with Google’s VP of Search & Mobile running through mock queries, and at one point using pronouns without the algorithm missing a beat. So, if this is the future of search, if people are going to talk to computers like they are human beings in order to get the information they need, then what does that mean for search engine optimization?

GooglebotDid Conversational Search Kill The Keyword Star?

Right now, if you want a web page to be found in search, you must use keywords. Other factors like social signals are starting to play an influential role for many users’ results pages, but for the most part, if you don’t have the right words in your copy, you probably won’t show up as being relevant for a query.

In an effort to make search easier and to deliver more relevant results, Google is developing strategies that don’t necessarily involve keywords. The Knowledge Graph, for example, ties relevant information to other things that you searched for. This information may have nothing to do with keywords you typed in, but are displayed for other reasons — reasons that apparently cannot be gamed.

I doubt keywords will ever go away as a ranking factor; however, they will change a lot. In a recent video released by Google’s web-spam team, Matt Cutts explains that keywords are still important, but people are using them differently. When you type a query into Google, it is more common to use rigid language because you know you are giving instruction to a computer. With the proven abilities of conversational search and voice search in general, people will speak queries more naturally. When typing queries, it is generally known that the more words you cram into the search bar, the less likely it is you will find what you are looking for. With conversational search, the opposite is true. The more information you give, the more the algorithm has to go on, and the better your results will be. So, instead of typing, “carwashes  Detroit,” you might speak, “find me carwashes in Detroit.” That will change the way marketers use keywords in the copy of their websites and other places online.

Conversational Search ListeningConversational Search is Not a Game-Changer…Yet

It’s hard to say at this point whether conversational search is going to have a large impact on SEO. Certainly, voice search is more prevalent on mobile devices, but what about traditional computers? At this point it’s more of a novelty than a practical tool. Currently, conversational search is only available on the Chrome browser. At the time of this post, Google has not provided the ability for the search function to listen for a command like on Google Glass, where users say the command, “ok Google.”

Further, when you are on a laptop, how often are you really using voice search? Assuming voice-enabled search were available on all major browsers, you had the hardware for your computer to listen to you and Google had the capacity to listen for a query, would it be easier and faster for you to speak it or type it? That is Google’s goal (to make the computer from Star Trek, where all you have to do is speak out into the room).

Search By VoiceGoogle is certainly no stranger to endeavors that just didn’t catch on. Google Buzz comes to mind along with a host of other programs that never took flight. Unlike industries of the past, Google can afford to make a bunch of flops and also put products out there that aren’t fully finished. Partly, that has to do with the nature of software products in that they never really need to be completely finished, but useable.

A New Way to Search

One thing is for sure: conversational search works very well combined with Knowledge Graph. We are already seeing that pervade some parts of the SEO industry. If it does become more mainstream and easier to use, methods that work well now like link building and keywords in content architecture may not be so important anymore. Instead, being relevant online will mean producing content that people like as evidenced by how much they click on it, share it, like it, plus-one it and otherwise interact with it. Eventually, being relevant in the online world will resemble that of the offline world in that it will be nearly impossible to fake.

 

What are your thoughts on conversational search? Have you used it? Do you think it has a future? Let us know what you think by leaving a comment below…

Google Phases Out Its Keyword Search Tool – Welcome To Keyword Planner

Googles Keyword Search Tool InterfacePer usual, Google can’t seem to sit still. I suppose that’s a good thing considering that tech in general moves at the speed of…well, tech. Yet another change to the search giant’s web services is coming down the pipeline. The company is shutting down its popular keyword research tool and replacing it with the Keyword Planner. If you are heavily involved in AdWords or SEO, you have probably used this tool a lot, and (like myself) may have been a bit apprehensive about how good the next iteration will be. After all, wasn’t the tool working just fine?

Screenshot of Google's Keyword PlannerWhy Is Google Changing the Keyword Search Tool?

Judging by the way the tool works and its name (keyword planner), it appears that Google is meshing the services provided by the old keyword tool and the traffic estimator tool that was also a part of AdWords.

If you don’t interact with Google a lot on a deeper level than its search engine or its browser, you are probably unaware of the fact that the organization is constantly in beta mode. Unlike the billion-dollar juggernauts of our parents’ time, Google routinely launches products that aren’t really in a finished state or that perhaps could have been thought through more. Such is true with most tech-related services. They can always be made slightly better than the version released a month ago.

As it relates to the Keyword Tool, there are a variety of ways that it could be better designed to do what it was originally intended to do — help people select keywords for their AdWords ads. Google has been moving progressively closer to that goal by introducing iterations of the tool with better features like ad group ideas. The keyword planner is one more step in the direction of making AdWords a little bit more user-friendly and logical in terms of what it does and how to have the most success with it.

What Does This Mean If You Use The Keyword Search Tool?

If you are an AdWords user…

Google AdWords LogoChoosing keywords for your campaigns will be much easier. With the old tool before ad group ideas were added, keyword additions to a campaign was less than organized. If you weren’t savvy to the notion that only similar keywords should be added to your ad group, your campaign probably tanked right away because the tool suggested tons of keywords that had little to do with what you were selling. A lot of extra effort went into discovering that, “hey, just because you typed in headphones and the tool suggested ‘oversized pink fluffy headphones’ doesn’t mean you should use the keyword.”

After the addition of ad group ideas, it was a little easier to target your ads because the tool was telling you that only this group of keywords should be associated with an ad group. Integration with AdWords was still a bit cumbersome. The tool also didn’t emphasize enough that keywords needed to be grouped by related words.

Googles Keyword PlannerAnother benefit is the usability aspect of the new planner. It resembles more of template for choosing keywords for a campaign rather than a multi purpose tool that can also be used for AdWords. Users see only the options related to the tool and there are even helpful links to the right of the planner in case you are completely lost with how to use it.

Among other additions that make the planner better for AdWords users are the ability to upload bulk keywords from an external file and customization options that allow users to filter out data that isn’t needed. Additionally, the tool does a better job of associating steps in the process with goals that advertisers may have.

If you are an SEO…

Many Google keyword tool users don’t use the tool for AdWords at all. Instead, a common tactic is to get the information from Google and then use it to optimize a website for search. While the basic information that can be gleaned from the tool for SEO can still be found in the new Keyword Planner, the new tool wasn’t improved with this use in mind. SEOs can still make use of the new filters such as the ability to exclude keyword data by number of monthly searches as well as include/exclude filters.

 

Have you used the new Google Keyword Planner? Do you see any drawbacks?Improvements? Join the conversation by dropping us a line or commenting below.

Google Penguin Update: 1 Year Later

It’s funny to talk about a single Google algorithm update that happened a year ago when the company updates its core algorithm almost every single day. Many updates go through without searchers or SEOs ever knowing about them, while others make more of an impact. Penguin was one of those that caused a lot of change. Mainly, it was those who were doing things they weren’t supposed to be doing who were affected by the change; just like Google intended. In fact, it’s sometimes comical to see SEO providers get so worked up about updates and what they should do to prepare for them, when, in reality, they should be rejoicing and embracing the changes. They should be thinking, “I don’t really have to change a thing.” If you find yourself in the camp that lost presence in SERPs because of an algorithm change, perhaps you will find this post useful. We will explore what it was that happened when the Penguin update was deployed, and what you should be doing differently now.

 

What was the Google Penguin Update?

 

Disclaimer:  If you are already familiar with what Penguin and Google Updates are, you can skip to the next section of this post.

 

Google is known for its quirky nature as a company, and being a search and software company, they are constantly updating their services. As such, teams of people are assigned to working on parts of the company’s core algorithm, and the changes are typically assigned internal names. Penguin was an algorithm update that was rolled out on April 24, 2012, and it was designed to combat web spam more adequately. Specifically, it was aimed at weeding out sites that were engaged in lots of keyword stuffing or link schemes. One of the notable parts of this change was that it was supposed to penalize websites for violating quality guidelines that had already been established by Google some time ago, but that were not really being enforced. The change affected about 12% of queries on Google’s search platform across the board.

 

So, if you were a website owner who didn’t pay much attention to SEO and just focused on making a good website, you may have noticed a bump in traffic. If you did pay attention to SEO and practiced “white hat” tactics, you were probably rejoicing. If you were part of the “black hat” crowd, you were probably scrambling to come up with new ways to rank your site in advance of the release. Not everyone, however, belongs to one of these groups, and there were undoubtedly some webmasters out there going about their business, trying to make websites who may have inadvertently lost rankings for one reason or another. Maybe they didn’t realize what they were doing was about to be targeted, or maybe their sites were configured in a way that appeared to fit the bill of a site the algorithm was targeting. Whatever the case may be, it’s been a while now since the update came out, and if you can’t seem to get your rankings back after the change, we have some tips to help you.

What you can do now After the Penguin Update

 

Write your own stuff or have someone write it for you

This is perhaps the single best thing you can do for yourself. Whether you are uploading text online on a regular basis for a blog or simply updating web pages every so often, content must be written by a person and not a program. There are lots of article spinning programs out there that generate halfway readable content pretty quickly, but even the best ones are lacking.

Here are some things to avoid:

  • Content produced by automated software and published without reviewing and/or critiquing it for correct grammar and spelling.
  • Automated content generation from scraping websites, RSS feeds, search results or other content from around the web.
  • Simply copying and pasting snippets from web pages on the Internet into a new order without adding any real additional value.
  • Having many pages of a website that simply deliver content fed from other websites such as news articles or other content feeds with no other static content on pages.

Your best bet is to not do any of these things even a little bit. Writing your own content is difficult and time consuming, but if you plan to make money online or build any kind of credible presence, you must do it the right way. Paying someone to write your content is an excellent alternative to doing it yourself. Not everyone has what it takes to come up with content on a regular basis, but there are tons of people out there looking to write content professionally for other web masters. Hiring a copy writer is a perfectly acceptable alternative to doing it yourself. Many webmasters negatively impacted by the Penguin update enjoyed good rankings for a while before one change caused a significant setback in their activities online.

Don’t Game Search with Links

Technically, Google doesn’t want anyone building links manually at all, but let’s face it — the secret is out and everyone does it. That doesn’t mean, however, that you shouldn’t follow the same model in link building that Google expects to happen naturally if no one were doing it manually. In the ideal model, people would still build links, but they would do it with no knowledge that it was improving a website’s ranking in search. With that element out of the equation, it is thought that their only motivation for building a link is because the content they are linking to is somehow valuable to their audience. Otherwise, why would they essentially be telling visitors to go to another site? Web masters can still build value with links if they qualify both the links they are creating and the ones they acquire coming into their website. Here are some things to avoid when it comes to links:

  • Don’t get involved with link schemes:  This means don’t buy links from other websites claiming that they can help you improve your rankings, don’t exchange links for the sole purpose of exchanging links, don’t accept links from websites you know are spammy or of low quality and don’t use automated services to build links.
  • Don’t make your only mission to build as many inbound links to your website as possible. Have another primary goal in mind and have link building be the secondary goal. Your focus should be on helping users with the links that you build and less on only helping your website.
  • Avoid optimized links in forum or blog posts or in forum signatures. This means links that are created using specific anchor text and that are designed to manipulate pagerank. Sending out automated bots to post these for you is also frowned upon.
  • As tempting as it may be, don’t create optimized links on article submission or book marking sites.

So, all of that may be good advice for those starting on new websites; however, what if you are trying to bring back one that has been hit by this update? The answer is pretty simple: undo all of the things that caused you to get penalized and redo them the right way. If you have spun content or similar on your site, take it down and rewrite it. If you have been building bad links or engaged in other spammy link building activities, this is more difficult to undo.

Removing bad links

Use a tool like Google webmaster tools or one of the numerous SEO tools on the market to gather as many of the bad links to your site as you can find. You can also use the link:operator in Google search to find spammy links. Then, reach out to the websites where bad links are present and ask site owners to remove them. You can get a fair number removed in this way; however, you won’t get all of them. For this, Google offers the “disavow links” tool.

Using the Disavow links tool

Keep in mind that Google wants you to do everything in your power to take down bad links before submitting a disavow links request to them. Once you feel you have done that, create a text file with all of the links that you want Google to disavow, and upload it using the tool.

Disavow Links to Recover from Google Penguin Update

 

You must also submit a reconsideration request. Include in the request all evidence of how you are working hard to remove the bad links to your site. It is important to be honest here and provide as much detail as possible. If you were affected by a third party who was building bad links for you, try to get a statement from them. Provide emails, dates and other correspondence that show you are trying to fix the issue. Any evidence — no matter how insignificant — should be provided. If you simply submit the text file with an email that says, “please just ignore these links,” your request will be denied.

Third-Party Providers

I realize there are a lot of businesses out there buying SEO services, so they aren’t always working with their website first-hand. Even experienced SEOs outsource work on their own websites. You must be absolutely sure that your providers are performing work in line with Google’s quality guidelines. There are stories on the web of business owners who outsourced SEO work to credible agencies who, in turn, outsourced other work to providers who were not so credible. Whether you are working with an SEO provider or searching for one, keep in mind that not everyone cares about your website and your business the way that you do. If you hired a contractor to build a house for you, chances are you would be on the site very regularly making sure they were doing things right. You should be doing the same for your website when you outsource SEO work.

 

What steps are you taking to bring a site back from being penalized by the Penguin update? Did you have a bad experience with a third-party company that was building links or making content for you?

 

 

Recovering from Google Updates

Google released a barrage of algorithm updates in 2012.  In fact, the company rolls out updates almost every single day.  Sometimes they affect many websites, sometimes they don’t.  One thing is for sure, if you have ever made a living with your website and were affected negatively by a Google Algorithm update, you were probably desperate for answers on how to fix it.  Offering advice on recovering from any given update that may have affected a website is a daunting task however many fixes follow the same line of thought; creating good content and designing for users.

 

Recovering from the Google EMD Update

 

One of Google’s moves that caused a lot of buzz in the online community was when they altered their algorithm to go after spammy EMD (exact match domain) websites.  It is important to note the use of the word “spammy”.  The search giant did not go after sites that were simply using an EMD but rather it was a case of most sites that had an EMD also happened to be low quality websites.  The following will state why a website may have been affected as well as what to do to fix the issue.

 

Reason 1:  Low Quality Content

Fix:  Naturally, Google does not divulge the signals it uses to qualify a website as having quality content however they do offer tips on how consumers (i.e. the people that use their search results); can find quality content.  For example is the content on your site composed by a professional in the niche or is the content very shallow in nature?  Are there duplicate articles or posts on the website?  Would a user feel comfortable submitting sensitive or personal information to the website?  A dead giveaway for Google are sites that have frequent structural, grammar or spelling errors.  Are the posts on the site short or lacking in value?  If you are starting to answer yes to a lot of these questions, you probably have low quality content.  Start by either becoming an authority on the topics your site is about or finding someone who is to write for you.  Make useful content that people would find helpful.  Make your site an authority in its niche.  Make it look trustworthy, professional, and easy to navigate.

 

Reason 2:  Spammy inbound links

 

Fix:  Unless you are very talented at sniffing out bad links or you know of some behavior in regards to link building that you should not have been doing, it would be a good idea to have a link audit performed of your inbound link profile.  There are a variety of companies on the web that will perform this service for you.  If you decide to go it alone, you can use one of the many tools available for checking backlinks.

Google’s Disavow Links Tool: If you have identified links that you know are causing your website to fall in the SERP’s, you can use Google’s new disavow links tool.  You must first download a list of the links from your website and create a file from it to upload to Google.  Be sure that only links you want Google to ignore are contained in the list.  It does take some time for the information to be processed by Google and it is also incorporated into their index.

 

Examples include:

SEMoz Open Site Explorer

Ahrefs site explorer

Majestic site explorer

 

Once you have identified bad backlinks, stop at nothing to get them taken down.  This is a primary reason that EMD’s were suffering after the update.  Backlinks are still a strong factor in the formula used to rank websites.

 

There are also other things you should be doing to recover your site.  Once you have the above tasks squared away, engage in an aggressive (and white hat) link building campaign.  Add new content on a regular basis such as once or twice a week.  A blog is a great way to do this.  Become active in social media if you have not already.  Put sharing buttons on your blog post or on your web pages.  Get visitors to share your content by making it useful and informative.  Overall, the primary goal in recovering from the EMD update is to make a website that is designed for users.  Think about what people will find useful and do that.  Avoid designing and generating content for web crawlers.

 

Recovering from the Penguin Update

 

The web spam update (code named Penguin) was released on April 24th 2012.  This highly anticipated update was targeted at web spam and websites that the company felt was violating its quality guidelines.  Examples included keyword stuffing, link spam, and the spinning of content.

 

Reason 1:  Spun Content

 

Fix:  Problems with poorly produced content are among the easiest (although the most tedious) to fix.  If the content on your website has been spun using one of the many article spinners out there, delete it and start from scratch.  Write original content or have someone else write it.  Make sure it is grammatically correct, free from spelling errors, and above all else, make sure it is actually useful to the audience it is intended for.

 

Reason 2:  Keyword stuffing

 

Fix:  It is amazing to still see website owners doing this because it is one of the most easily recognized tactics for manipulating search results.  If you have tons of irrelevant keywords placed in meta tags, title tags or even in web page copy, take them out.  Google does not even use the meta keywords tag in its ranking algorithm (although other engines may).  Use only the keywords that are relevant to the content on the page.

 

Reason 3:  Unusual link patterns

 

Fix:  If you have links on your website with anchor text that has nothing to do with the content of the article within which they have been placed, augment or remove them.  The ideal model is to place links inside of a body of text that have relevance to the content that the user is reading.

 

Reason 4:  Over optimization penalty

 

Fix:  This can take many forms however a very interesting post on SEOMoz talks about a website being penalized for over optimization of anchor text.  The site in question was very well built in terms of SEO with lots of natural backlinks, lots of social signals and original, well written content.  Once the owner went a little deeper, he realized that 10% of his backlinks were coming from an old blog he had created and the anchor text was all the same keyword phrase.  So, if you think you have been affected by the Penguin update and cannot find any logical explanation as to why, try looking closer at your backlink profile.  Specifically, look for the anchor text that is used for inbound links to your site.  If you have an abnormally large amount of anchor text that is targeting the same keyword phrase (in proportion to your entire profile), chances are this is why you are having a problem.  If you have control over these links, change the text and resubmit your site to Google to have it crawled.  If you don’t have direct control, try and get them taken down using a service or contacting webmasters yourself to try and get them removed or changed.

 

Reason 5:  Cloaking

 

Fix:  While there used to be legitimate uses for cloaking, most webmasters use it as a spamdexing technique.  If you are using this technique, simply stop doing it and resubmit your site to Google for indexing.

 

The Penguin update encompassed a lot of targets deemed web spam by Google.  Many of the fixes are easy and controllable by webmasters.  Some, namely inbound links, are more difficult to get rid of.  If you notice one or more of the elements above being a part of your strategy, this may be the reason your site was affected by the update.  Changing the way you do things and resubmitting your site to Google should fix the issue.  Keep in mind that even after you change things and have the site re-crawled, it may take some time (in some cases a few months) before you see any positive results from your efforts.

 

Recovering from the Panda Update

 

The Panda update was Google’s response to “shallow content” or content that is not necessarily spam but is not that good either.  After the Caffeine update, Google’s index filled up with fresh content that fell into this category.  So results were now better for users but not as good as they could be.  Sites affected were those with small amounts of content compared with advertisements on the page, duplicate content and high ad ratios.  Check out this Q & A with Google’s top engineers on the Panda Update.

 

Reason 1:  Shallow content

 

Fix:  Take a look at your web pages and evaluate the percentage of structural design elements (i.e. menus, images, ads, etc) to the amount of actual words on the page that someone might find useful.  If there are far more design elements than actual content, you should work to reduce this imbalance.  You can do this by writing more content for the page.  If you can’t come up with more content, perhaps you should think about if the page is really necessary in the first place.

 

Reason 2: Too many ads on page

 

Fix:  We all know that websites need to make money and it is fine to have some ads on a web page.  If you have way to many ads (so much so that it makes it hard to actually find the content on the page) then you should remove some of them.

 

Reason 3:  Duplicate content (internal)

 

Fix:  Sometimes duplicate content is created inadvertently.  You can use Google Webmaster Tools to identify pages that have duplicate title tags or meta descriptions.  This is not always an indication that those pages have the same content however it will get you started.  Remove duplicate content from your site.  You can also use third party tools such as Screaming Frog to crawl your site and look for these kinds of problems.  Using a canonical redirect on the page that is meant to be the one indexed can also help with these issues.

 

Reason 4:  Duplicate content (external)

 

Fix:  If you syndicate your content or simply post the same thing in multiple areas of the internet you can begin to have issues.  This can be fixed by diluting external duplicate content that may be floating around.  Create more unique content for your website and perhaps stop sharing the same thing on other web properties.

 

Many of the Google updates that have taken place revolve around the same central issue; content.  Google works on a daily basis to balance its own needs with those of advertisers and those that use its service for free.  Its primary concern most of the time is the everyday users and whether or not they are getting high quality content in response to their queries.  Google has released hundreds of updates over the past year and if your site has been affected at all, you should first take a look at how your content is structured.  If that seems fine, also take a look at the links leading to your site and how those are structured.  Many of the changes that Google makes are in direct response to what many people are doing to game the system.

 

Have you been affected by an update recently or in the past?  What steps did you take to recover from it?  Was the process quick or did it take a while?

 

TCA Blog Chat – Live on Google Hangout – Recovering from Google Updates

TCA is hosting a live event on Hangout – Monday January 14, 2013 from 7:00 – 8:30pm.  If you would like to attend, sign up here:

Program Agenda

  • Segment 1: What did Google Update? We’ll review the biggest, most recent Google updates and what exactly was the impact/ change.
  • Segment 2: How to Recover from Google Updates? Let’s discuss the real ways you can recover from these changes.
  • Segment 3: Q&A/ Your Site: Our guest panelists will take your questions and also look at your site live to make key recommendations.

See you at the hangout!

Register here: TCA Blog Chat: Recovering from Google Updates

Local Search SEO

Tips and Strategies to improve Local Search SEO Marketing

 

The integration of basic online marketing strategies are equally important for internet based businesses as well as local businesses. Local search SEO methods are imperative for businesses to undertake in order to increase their customer base. Local businesses obviously do not have the same type of marketing budget other large corporations have, but there are some simple steps businesses can undertake to increase their online presence, thus increasing their customer base. To increase the visibility for a local business online, there are a few areas to explore.

Where is Your Business Listed?

Take a moment or two and enter your business name into any of the search engines. Conduct a search and see exactly where your business is listed. Many local businesses do not take time to register or place their business within local search directories. This may seem like a daunting task, however, it is relatively easy. In addition to being easy, most often there is not a cost associated with it. Some of the top directories for local searches include Google Places, Yelp, Superpages, Local Yahoo and Yellow Pages.

In addition to the search engines, you should check to see if your area has any local search directories. You can easily find this out by checking out local TV and radio stations along with chamber of commerce organizations or any other business group that has an online presence. There are websites for you to check to see if your business is listed in a variety of sources. You can check out ubl.org or amlvisible.org for a quick look to see if your business is listed in the major directories. Some of these sites will offer a free instant report but will want to charge you additional money to improve your ratings. If your business shows up in the directories, this is fantastic news. If your business is not showing up, then you need to do a bit of work. Visit the search engine sites and take the time to make sure your business is properly included with each of them.

Entice New Customers Using Local Search

Local Search Special Offers

Use Local Search Deals & Discounts

Consumer behavior, both online and off, tend to be somewhat the same. Everyone wants services or products that offer value. Consumers will most often make their purchasing decisions based on word-of-mouth reviews or recommendations. Those wishing to improve their local search results must take this information to heart. Quality of service and products remain high on the list of what consumers want. For the local business looking to establish and improve their customer base, may want to include some kind of deal or discount on their website. This may entice a customer who has never used your services to give you a try. Utilizing Groupon or other online coupon services can also be beneficial. Check in your local area for additional providers of this service.

Customer Reviews

This is what just about everyone checks out prior to purchasing or hiring a particular service. Consumers want to know what other customers have to say about your business. It is vitally important to make sure you have customer reviews. In order to increase the number increase you may have, you may want to ask some of your loyal customers to provide feedback about their experiences. Posting positive feedback on your website and on local search pages is an important part of increasing your customer base. Try to have at least 10 – 20 positive reviews posted.

There are also the reviews that are not controllable at all. It is the old adage that you cannot make everyone happy. Unfortunately, you cannot remove this type of comment if it is not on your site and to be perfectly honest, you can turn this around into a positive situation. Responding to a negative review will have a positive impact on those reading it. Addressing the problem and offering some type of solution or change will encourage customers to consider your business. Ignoring the complaint or not addressing it, leads the customer to believe you may not care or value the customer.

Social Media and Local Search

The prominence of social media in regard to businesses cannot be ignored. Facebook has over 750 million users, Google+ is up to 50 million users and Twitter continues to grow. Businesses cannot ignore these kinds of staggering statistics. To increase your local search, make sure that you are listed in Facebook Deals and Facebook Places. You need to remember word-of-mouth advertising is one of the most important parts of a business marketing strategy. Word-of-mouth has taken on a completely new meaning through social media. You should ask your customers to “like” or “follow” your company. You may want to have some of your customers write a blurb on their walls or tweets about the experiences they have had with your business. You may want to offer an incentive plan for loyal customers to bring additional new customers to your business. You can give coupons to your loyal customers to get out to some of their friends via social media. Make sure your reward this loyal customer for doing some work for you!

The tips and strategies outlined above are just a simple approach to local search and SEO. The ultimate goal is to see your business come up in all local search methods. Make sure you offer deals or discounts to entice people to use your products or services. Utilizing both positive and negative reviews will let your customers know you care. Local businesses do not have to be left behind when it comes to search engine optimization. It will take a little bit of work to get it started but in the end, it is a vital component for your business.

 

Google Adwords

Google Adwords: A Positive Impact

When it comes to online marketing, there are several ways to stand out in the crowd of millions who are also working diligently to optimize their exposure on the World Wide Web. The overall goal of obtaining new and repeat traffic to your website can hinge on something seemingly as small as your company name appearing higher than others in your industry on a search engine results page. Marketing tactics such as search engine optimization and backlinks can help increase a company’s exposure through the back end of the site’s operations. Behind the scenes optimization practices are effective, but there are other ways to increase a company’s online visibility during internet searches thanks to Google Adwords.

What is Google Adwords?

Google Adwords is a service provided by Google that allows advertisers to create a small, informational advertisement based on the keywords that best identify their business affiliation. Once the advertisement is created, it will appear at the top, or on the right-side margin of the search engine results page, separate from the non-advertising links that appear based on their page rank and popularity. The beauty of Google Adwords is that the advertiser only pays Google for the preferred placement when someone clicks on their link and are redirected to that company’s homepage.

How it Works

Picture of how google adwords work

How do Google Adwords work?

 

Individuals who generate online searches, attempting to acquire a source for a service or product, who use Google as a search engine, can type in keywords in an attempt to find the best company to fulfill their need. For instance, if somewhere were to type in “Heating and cooling (and the city of their choice)” companies who are enrolled in Adwords would appear on the top or side of the results page, typically accompanied by a map of the area, with a quick blurb of copy to intimate their services or contact information at a glance. Once an individual clicks on one of the Adwords-enrolled companies, they will be directed away from the results page, and taken directly to the company site.

Why it Works

It is no secret that trying to reach a target audience can take a lot of research and wherewithal to make sure your company is being as competitive as possible when piled against the results of numerous companies in the same industry through an internet search. Google Adwords helps keep your advertising budget under control by allowing registered companies the benefit of only paying for their services when an individual clicks on their advertisement. This helps the company using the service to measure their results more easily, by knowing exactly how many people were redirected to their webpage from the Google Adwords partnership. In addition, when individuals are looking for a service or product where an Adwords participant’s keywords apply to the search, they are making themselves immediately available to the audience who is interested in their service or product. Google Adwords brings your target market to you, while providing your company’s advertisement in a preferred location, thereby increasing traffic to your website.

How to Enroll in Adwords

If you do not have a Google account already, you will need to create one. This involves creating an email address and password, with the option to create a profile, which is highly recommend. A profile will allow you to list your company information, as well as its web address, allowing for yet another backlink to your home page. Once you have a Google account, or by using your existing account information, you will need to sign into Adwords, set your time zone and currency information, and verify your information prior to proceeding (this step is for new Google accounts only). Google will supply you with an instructional video, frequently asked questions, target market guidelines, and budgetary queries to help get you started in creating the right advertising campaign for your company. Take time to familiarize yourself with everything Google Adwords has to offer, prior to creating an actual ad. The more tools you have to compete online, the more successful your campaign is likely to be. Once you have researched the available opportunities Google has to offer, you will start by creating account settings for your campaign by choosing the regions you would like to advertise within. You can choose from local, city and state advertising, or check the national or international option, depending on your product or services’ range. In addition, you will set a budget for your advertising campaign. Adwords allows you to place a cap on the campaign’s daily expenditures, and guarantees not to go over, while providing start and finish dates for the campaign’s operation.

How to Create an Ad

Ads can include text or images, along with a headline and two descriptive lines of copy to showcase your capabilities. Keep the information simple, and easy to read. In addition, Google provides keyword optimization, allowing you to enter up to twenty keywords or phrases that will provide your ad as a result when someone searches using those same words. The keywords can be changed at any time, so if you feel as if the initial rounds of keywords are not benefitting your company with results, you can adjust them later. Once the information is complete, preview the ad prior to approving it, to make sure your information is accurate and complete. You will need to enter your billing information, as well as a credit card that can be automatically billed monthly by Google. You information will need to be verified, prior to account activation, so providing legitimate, verifiable information is a key component to getting your Adwords account in motion.

Allow the System to Work for You

Google Adwords provides a tremendous amount of tools for its users to track the benefits of their expenditure, while providing ideas for your account as a whole. The system will help you determine which keywords work for your category, while providing instructions on how to create the best ad for your campaign. What’s more, the system will allow you to balance the cost of the campaign with the traffic it provides, including tools and reports that will help measure the results of your campaign with easy to read charts and analysis. Not surprisingly, Google knows what they are doing, and provide its users with proven results furthering their footing as a leader in progressive online marketing efforts.

Online marketing help level the playing field for small and large companies alike. Whether your company is a small mom and pop auto parts store in Newark, New Jersey, or a national chain of auto parts stores stretching across the United States, chances are, someone is searching for a replacement part near you. Advertising through pay-as-your-ad-is-clicked marketing efforts minimizes the blow to your overall marketing budget, and can help net huge results with continued use. If you do not receive the results you are looking for, Google allows you to edit, pause or delete your campaign in an effort to provide you with the quality service Google has become known for providing. Furthermore, there is an 800 customer service number available at every turn, providing you with step by step assistance in creating results-driven advertising campaigns for your company. Allow Google to help you control where you end up on the search engine results page, while providing you with increased internet traffic and exposure in the meantime.




Google Algorithm

Google Algorithm: A Behind the Scenes Look

 

As with any computer program, a code – or algorithm – exists to empower its operation. For instance, Google employs a specialized algorithm that goes to work when a user types in their search criteria. Google algorithm is the behind the scene genetics that take the word entered, and return the most common results related to that word, in a measurable manner. The problem, however, is that not all of the websites provided on the search engine results page (SERP), which is what an individual sees once they have searched a word, are legitimate websites, with original content. Simply put, some websites copy the material of other sites, no matter how unfairly, and receive higher rankings on the SERP than the initial publisher. In addition, some spam websites, existing in the “make money fast” variety, can also get higher rankings than their legitimate counterparts. That was until recently, when the Google algorithm changed.

Google Algorithm Cleaning Up the Web

Picture of Google Algorithm

Google Algorithm Cleans Up the Web

With its new code enacted, the latest iteration of Google algorithm cut non-original content sites rankings on their results pages significantly. In addition, spamming sites containing disruptive content, which is not beneficial to any user, also saw a considerable drop in the rankings. Low quality content sites of questionable character have also seen a drastic drop in their ranking and traffic. Basically, the new Google algorithm is cleaning up the web, one search at a time. Google may not be able to control low quality websites and their content, but they can, by writing and implementing the proper code and programming, control what results their server provides to its users, and that is exactly what they have done. In a straightforward attempt at providing their target market of the Google-faithful with the best, brightest and most original search results, the Google algorithm has changed for the better. Better results, more original content, less spam, and courageous change sets Google apart from the other search engines by expressing their commitment to their search engine, and the results it displays.

Roll With the Changes

Although for the most part, the Google algorithm change has impressed the masses, some smaller sites are crying foul, as their content somehow has aligned them with the non-reliable bunch, thereby dropping their ranking and traffic. Most are delighted by the cleaner feel, and the availability of original content, allowing the original publisher to take credit for their work, while lessening the copiers’ rankings in turn. To those who feel slighted by the change, the best bit of advice they can follow, is to roll with the change, and rework their website accordingly. Original content is still the best way to get a website recognized through a search engine. Additional advice includes updating the site’s content regularly – daily if possible – using unique and original content, to assist in a higher ranking when searched. Also, and this should certainly go without saying, do not copy other sites’ work and claim it as your own. Plagiarism is unlawful, unethical and downright shameful. Furthermore, if spamming or fly-by-night operations are the existence of your site, most of the world will gladly enjoy the lack of your site appearing in their search results, thereby considering the new Google algorithm a long overdue blessing.

Take care of your site’s content, and keep it as original as possible to give yourself the best ranking possible when searched through Google. Keep in mind that whether you agree with the change or not, Google has an incredibly loyal following, and their users appreciate the newly defined guidelines by which their searches are returned. What you think about it does not change how it works, so re-work your site accordingly, and give it the original content your customers deserve to see.

 

Google Related Features

The Latest in Internet Efficiency: Google Related


Just when the technological world thought Google was going to rest on their laurels, and enjoy the glory of their all-encompassing search engine, mapping capabilities and document programs, just to name a few, they have stepped up their game once again with their newest extension, Google Related. Google consistently delivers genius through groundbreaking formats, benefiting the online world tremendously in multiple capacities, but never before in a single extension as accommodating as Google Related. Prior to the introduction of Google Related, individuals around the world, looking for a bite to eat out on the town, would take to their search engines and begin the several step task of identifying a restaurant’s attributes. Step one, the quick and accommodating advantage of locating a restaurant through an online search, eventually revealing the menu, or nightly specials at any number of places of interest, prior to settling on a destination. Never before have individuals been able to choose a restaurant so succinctly, without stepping foot inside, as with the benefit of an online search. After agreeing that the menu is of interest, another search is enacted to map the location, and yet another to survey any available reviews to assess the restaurant’s worthiness of one’s time and money. The simple task of finding a restaurant, even for the savviest of searchers, can uncover a considerable amount of information to review, while possibly interjecting a few obstacles along the way, when clicking on informational links divert from the original source. Spoiled by the information age, and making use of the necessarily acquired maneuvering skills that come with excessive web searching, most individuals make light work of finding what they need on the internet. As the web and the public’s ability to surf it evolve, so does Google’s awareness that everyone’s online experience should advance with time, and in this case, ushering in Google Related to prove it.

What is Google Related?

Google Related is an extension that can be added to your existing Google Chrome or Internet Explorer internet applications. Adding the extension takes only a few seconds, and begins working immediately by providing “related” information in a slim, non-invasive toolbar at the bottom of a company, service, news, shopping or a multitude of other web pages. Once a site has been settled on, such as a restaurant, the toolbar will display a map of the location, reviews, and additional restaurants in the area, of the same category, without leaving the current web page. In fact, by simply rolling over the information with the arrow, a map, reviews or other similar places of interest will emerge for a quick and convenient view, or can be expanded into a new window or tab, never replacing the current page with new information.

How Google Related Works

Google Related takes the available, public information from any given website, and translates it into easily viewed categories in the toolbar. Although most websites have enough accurate information for Google to provide the Related information, not all sites exist accordingly. In any case where verifiable information cannot be accumulated, the Related toolbar will simply not appear at the bottom of that particular page.

Is Google Related Available to Everyone?

Google Related is only available to those whose search site toolbar is configured through Google.com. For instance, if your home page and search settings are set through Yahoo.com or any other search engine, you will not be able to add the extension without first changing your search settings to route through Google.com.

In addition, the extension is currently only available on mostly English webpages, although Google is working on diversifying the extension. Currently, no timeline is in place, or being made public, for other languages or coverage areas.

Information Dissemination

Planning an evening out for dinner or drinks with friends has never been easier to evaluate online, on one page, as it is with Google Related. The information provided is top notch, and exactly what one needs to determine a suitable destination, no matter their arrangement. In addition to restaurants, Google Related excels in providing easy access to news and shopping categories as well. News outlet websites viewed with the extension allow videos, weather, breaking news and related links from around the web all to be displayed in a simple toolbar at the bottom of the page, using the same, effortless cursor hovering technique to evaluate each interest at a glance. At any time, any of the informative links can be clicked to reveal more, relevant information, always opening a new page or tab, never leading away from the original site. Even more amazingly, shopping websites viewed with the extension will provide like items, pricing comparisons, and designer information from not only the current site browsed, but other websites that offer the same products. For example, after clicking on a pair of jeans on a department store website, Google Related will show the same pair of jeans, and where they can be purchased elsewhere. This practice helps insure the items of interest are displayed in the most positive, and more importantly, if applicable, least expensive light.

Information Hoarding

With all of the beautifully accommodating attributes that Google Related provides, it also administers the proverbial fuel to the ever-growing fire that is the public’s perception of Google’s World Wide Web domination. In addition, a possible side effect of Related’s proficiency could be hindering traffic to websites whose specific purpose is to provide restaurant or product reviews. With Related providing the same information at a glance, it is foreseeable that individuals would be less likely to click on an independent website link to acquire that information. However, in a showing of fairness, Google does list two to three review sites that can be clicked on independent of the reviews they list at a glance. Whether anyone will is a personal choice, and one that would not be deemed necessary out of anything other than curiosity. Google has long been challenged in their attempt to push the little guy aside, and Google Related will only add a notch to their belt in that category. Albeit an incredibly functional, genius notch, it is a notch nonetheless.

Completely Worth It

Picture of Google Related

Google Related is Worth It

In a world of endless information, and just about as many options, Google Related does all of the work without the previously utilized several step search technique, and provides the results in a delightful, yet constructive manner. The toolbar is versatile, unobtrusive, and can be hidden through the “options” link with a single click, allowing the feature to be enacted by page, by website, or merely collapsed altogether with a click of the “x.”

Never before has so much information been available in an easy to view, relative format. The aptly named Google Related invites the available market to become part of their family, providing maximum results for all who use the internet to search for products, services or dining locations. Google continues to evolve with the ever-changing needs of consumers, with Related topping out as one of the more useful extensions to be introduced in the technological atmosphere to date. With an over the top amount of applications available to the masses, Google Related takes search efficiency and functionality to a new, incredibly welcomed level.

Creating a Google Profile

The Importance of Creating a Google Profile

Online exposure through a personal Google profile has become the preeminent way to communicate and share information in the 21st century. Personal blogs, company websites, social media profiles and accounts, all lend themselves to providing your business, or your personal communications, with the maximum exposure possible. Effectively communicating through multiple outlets allows your customers, family or friends to stay in the know when it comes to your capabilities and successes. Individuals connect with one another socially by asking permission to become Facebook friends, following one another on Twitter, or simply logging onto a company website to ascertain more information about the company or individual they are pursuing. In a savvy socializing community, finding another online is as easy as turning on a computer. Those who are adept at online transactions or who use their internet research prowess regularly will have no trouble discovering your information. The process of searching and effectively finding information on the internet is a process the business world relies on for success, while individuals rely on those same results to stay connected with others. If you would like to entertain a more effective way to introduce or communicate your genius to the world, creating a Google Profile may be a step in the right direction.

What is a Google Profile?

A Google Profile is solely created through Google.com, and can include as much information as you deem fit for public view. Not unlike other social media outlets, you can post images, videos, actual text posts, or create a “Buzz.” A Buzz works similar to Twitter Tweets, but is contained in a Google setting, and is read by those who follow your Buzz through Google. Your Google Profile can be set up to contain specific information so individuals searching for you will know they have found the right person. Detailed profile categories allow you to list your education, places you have lived, worked, and what your current personal status is as an individual, regarding marriage, children, or other personal preferences you consider sharable. More importantly, it allows you to list the links that will direct individuals to the rest of your online world, in the form of your Facebook page, Twitter feed, personal blog, business website, or your LinkedIn profile. This information can be listed directly within your profile, at no charge, maximizing your marketability through one profile.

Why Google?

According to Google, they log approximately three billion searches per day, from around 300 million users. Google’s importance in the online world is certainly impressive merely by the numbers. It is also substantial when you consider that it allows you to create such a distinct profile, and house your social or business links all in one place. A Google Profile allows specific information to be listed, which will be publicly available, unless you specifically set it up not to be seen. In addition to creating a unique profile, you can link your documents, maps, Gmail account, sites, groups, calendar, images and web activity into one location, giving you efficient access to your online world, without switching applications. Furthermore, creating a Google Profile will allow you to track your movements, edited materials and successfully aids in the importation and management of outside accounts with ease.

Incorporating a Google Business Profile

Much like your personal profile, Google offers a variation for businesses. The set up process is identical, and provides the same categories and cloud functionality as the personal profile, which is ideal for tying your life into one, tidy site. Additionally, maximizing your business’ exposure by enrolling it into Google Places, once your profile is set up, will link to your company profile for free when someone searches for it online. When your business is searched, the address and an accompanying map of your location will be provided, along with links to any images, videos or alternate information you set up in your profile. What’s more, search result reports will be made available by Google so you can keep track of the number of people searching for your business, what keywords they used to get there, and where the searchers are located across the globe. This will allow you to make search engine optimization changes to your company website, blog or profile information, to help increase your Internet search ranking.

Combining Business & Personal Profiles

With more and more individuals working for themselves, or opening small businesses, it is important to market yourself as your business. With social networking, online profiles, and search engine utilization, there is very little separation between business and pleasure these days. One way to combine the two is by creating a synergy between your business and personal Google Profiles. In order to homogenize the two, simply list only the personal information you wish to share with others, while keeping a friendly and professional tone on your personal page. This information could include your name, education and business experience, while skipping your children’s names or ages, to help maintain a level of autonomy for your family. Secondly, assume any image, video or post that you upload will be seen by your largest client, its employees, and constituents. A proactive approach to disseminating personal information may save any possible public relations headaches later. However, showing that your personal side is accessible to the masses indicates a level of trust and commitment from you as a person, while coexisting with your company profile.

The Freedom of a Google Profile

If you have a computer, and an Internet connection available, you can access your Google Profile, and the information contained within it. Whether you need to view or edit a document, or simply create or follow a Buzz, Google is available from any computer with Internet access. This type of freedom is becoming increasingly important with the use of tablets, smart phones, and the necessity of using public computers, whether regularly, or in a pinch. Google is a reliable, all-encompassing network that provides you with the freedom to work from anywhere, at any time, without limiting access to any of your profiled materials. This type of unlimited access can lessen the amount of media you purchase to store or share information. Part of your Google Profile will include document sharing, and a complete contact database that can be backed up to your physical computer for additional safe keeping.

Increasing Your Visibility

Picture of increasing business with a Google Profile

Google Profile Importance

Whether you decide on a personal Google Profile or one for your business to appear on Google Places, your visibility increases, and your interaction with other Google account holders is streamlined to maximize communication efficiency. After creating a Google Profile, your name and information appear in Google searches for free, and without delay. This function allows other companies or individuals to locate you more easily, and view your information for accuracy prior to reaching out for more information. Not only are you saving time by being located more easily, but others will appreciate how accessible your information is, whether they are contacting you immediately, or storing your information for future use or sharing purposes. Google Profiles are exceptionally important to individuals who work in sales, consulting or are contract employees such as photographers, designers, writers or entertainers. The profile process allows those who do not necessarily have designated offices work from anywhere, while developing a profile that can be displayed to anyone.