Tuesday, June 20, 2017

How SEO and UX Work Together to Drive Your Business

How SEO & UX Work Together to Drive Your Business
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The expectations of online customers have changed dramatically over the years. When the internet was in its infancy, no one knew what they wanted or what to expect. However, now customers have been online for a long time and they know what they want from a website.

As customers have become smarter, search engines have adapted how they interpret and display information based on the modification of user intent. This is the result of evolving online environments that have shaped how customers interact with content.

No matter how someone finds and consumes your content, they have certain expectations when they interact with your brand. Every business must adapt.

That’s why it’s critical for businesses to combine user experience (UX) and search engine optimization (SEO) strategies. Doing so will ensure more conversions and help you maintain a competitive advantage. Focusing on only one of these will result in sub-optimal experiences for your customers and less revenue.

Let’s look at how SEO and UX work together to drive more conversions for your business.

The Common Goals of SEO and UX

The goal of every business is to make money.

No matter your industry, you depend on your website to build trust, answer questions, provide services, and sell products.

You depend on a holistic online presence to drive qualified traffic and increase conversions on your website. This means that you need to maximize your search engine visibility while also optimizing your website.

Your customers have specific problems, and they turn to search engines to find their answers. Once they find a website that meets their needs, they expect a great experience.

This is why SEO and UX need to work together. Put simply: UX + SEO = $.

SEO is mainly focused on external elements and the architecture of a website and usually looks to drive traffic to your website. UX is primarily focused on engaging customers once they reach your website and implementing a design that minimizes distraction to maximize conversions.

Driving traffic to your site is worthless unless that traffic is qualified. At the same time, the design of your website is useless if you don’t have any traffic to convert.

Collectively, SEO and UX need to focus on the intent of your users so your business produces a website that turns visitors into customers.

SEO and UX: BFFs <3

UX designers and SEOs were once competing against each other. Each thought their craft was better, and in many companies budget was divided between departments, so they had to fight to ensure adequate funding. However, as online marketing becomes more user-focused, many companies have discovered that SEO and UX work together to drive more sales.

Instead of competing, SEOs and UX teams should realize that they both focus on delivering a great experience at different stages of the customer’s journey. In fact, SEO and UX are two sides of the same coin.

Because search engine algorithms have evolved based on user experience, marketers have learned to use SEO and UX together to drive qualified leads and increase conversions on their website.

SEO and UX working together

How User Experience & SEO Affect Each Other

Today’s online interactions between your brand and customers are more diverse than ever. At the same time, your online customers are more informed and have more choices to solve their problems.

SEO has the data that UX teams need to produce personalized experiences for customers. At the same time, UX teams have the website framework and content optimization insight that SEOs need to make crucial decisions to ensure rankings in SERPs.

When SEO and UX teams share their findings, they can create optimized experiences for their users. Your business needs to make money through your website. You can’t do that by only focusing on technical SEO, or only looking at UX.

customer journey

How SEO Affects User Experience

Search engines use algorithms to identify patterns in how people search and what they are searching for online. Due to the nature of the industry, SEOs utilize different “levers” like keywords and links to rank their web properties in SERPs. This is the basic principle of SEO, so at its core, SEO focuses on identifying, publishing, and optimizing content that will attract qualified readers.

Just as keyword data indicates what prospective website visitors are looking for, this data is also vital for UX designers because it serves as a sample size of their overall audience. This information is even more important than ever as UX designers integrate SEO data to influence their development choices.

When you know what your customers are searching for and how your prospects search, it’s easier to make adjustments to your website so visitors can easily discover what they are looking for. SEOs can work with their UX teams to determine what pages on the website should be optimized to increase conversions.

Why UX Is Pivotal to the Future of SEO

While SEO data is great for highlighting general user trends, this information can’t pinpoint specific issues on a website that influences how individuals interact with website content.

A smooth and optimized website experience means that users spend more time engaging with the site and (hopefully) return to the site often. Great UX design is vital to the personal experience on a website.

Not only does UX influence how individuals perceive a website, but it can also positively impact how search engines view your website’s authority, relevance, and trust (which can indirectly improve your search rankings).

Website navigation is one of the biggest ways that UX impacts elements of SEO. For example, if users aren’t able to find the information they need quickly and easily through either the main navigation menu or how information is organized on a site then those users will leave without converting.

Great navigation is even more important today as a majority of traffic is coming from mobile devices. A couple of other UX factors that impact a site’s SEO include how fast your website loads and whether your content is engaging.

Google and other search engines know that where, how, and when people consume content is changing. As a result, UX teams need to work with their SEO counterparts to ensure that their website is optimized for their users just as much as it is optimized for search engines.

Using SEO and UX as Tools to Improve Your Business

Now that we have looked at how SEO and UX can drive qualified traffic and increase conversions for your company, it is time to improve your website based on the customer journey.

As search engines, your customers, and other technologies continue to evolve, your business must look at how to align your business assets with how your customers behave and engage with your content. Combining your SEO and UX efforts into a valuable strategy that will benefit your customers.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Pixabay
In-Post Images: Alex Alexakis

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-ux-work-together/199840/

On – 13 Jun, 2017 By Chris Giarratana



source https://andlocal.org/how-seo-and-ux-work-together-to-drive-your-business/

Google Strikes Another Blow to Intrusive Ads: Here’s What You Need to Know

June 9, 2017

google-intrusive-ads.jpg

We all know those moments when we stumble upon what looks like a golden piece of content. And just as you’re about to dive in — an ad appears.

You can’t just close it, either. Before you can get to what you visited that site to see, you have to wait, as a countdown clock in the corner of the ad taunts you with, “Close this ad in 5 … 4 … 3 … ”

At this point, does anyone else just hit the “back” button with an angry mutter of, “Nevermind, I’ll read something else”? That’s because ads like these tarnish your online experience. They keep you from getting to the content you want to see. They’re intrusive. Google knows that — and now, it wants to prevent that from happening to Chrome users. >”>

Last Monday, Google announced that it would further crack down on websites that feature intrusive ads like these. And while that might sound great for many, what does it mean for content creators who rely on ad revenue? Don’t panic — you’re not doomed.

Below, we’ve broken down what marketers need to know about these new guidelines (spoiler alert: Google isn’t doing away with ads altogether), and what you can do to prepare for their rollout.

What’s New in Google Ad Blocking

A Better User Experience Without Revenue Loss

To repeat our earlier spoiler, it’s not Google’s intent to do away with ads completely. Rather, the goal appears to be for webmasters to move away from digital ads that interrupt a user’s content consumption — but not to lose critical ad revenue in the process.

The problem with intrusive ads, writes Google SVP of Ads & Commerce Sridhar Ramaswamy in the official announcement, is that they motivate users to install browser plugins that block ads altogether. And ultimately, that widespread blockage takes “a big toll on the content creators, journalists, web developers, and videographers who depend on ads to fund their content creation.”

Given Google’s algorithmic history, this announcement doesn’t exactly come as a surprise. It’s penalized sites with heavy above-the-fold ad content since 2012, and last year, it announced that mobile sites with intrusive pop-ups wouldn’t rank as well — both among consistent changes that, at least on the surface, appear to be motivated by an endless quest to improve user experience.

This particular move is largely the result of Google’s partnership with the Coalition for Better Ads, which recently developed Better Ads Standards — it appears that those standards serve as the foundation for Google’s new ad recommendations to content creators. Once publishers modify their ads to meet the new standards, they can then use Google’s Ad Experience Report to test if they’re in violation of the new standards.

The Penalty

But it’s not entirely clear how, in a broader sense, what the penalty will be for those in violation. The official announcement makes no mention of search ranking implications, though given the search engine’s history within this realm, we wouldn’t be surprised if websites in violation perform as well in search results.

What was clear in the announcement, however, is that within Google Chrome — which as of May 2017 had just over 63% of global desktop browser market share and 49% on mobile — the ads in violation of the new standards will be completely blocked. The browser already “prevents pop-ups in new tabs based on the fact that they are annoying,” Ramaswamy writes. Now, Google plans “to have Chrome stop showing ads (including those owned or served by Google) on websites that are not compliant with the Better Ads Standards starting in early 2018.”

The Criteria for “Bad Ads”

Using combined data from its own surveys and those conducted by The Coalition for Better Ads, Google outlined what constitutes a “bad ad” on its DoubleClick blog. Here’s a quick summary of the findings:

  • Ads that Interrupt. Remember those taunting countdowns we opened with? That counts as an ad that interrupts: one that “forces you to wait 10 seconds before you can” access the content you want. That’s especially true on mobile, where 74% of users would describe these ads as “extremely or very annoying.”
  • Ads that Distract. These are ads with ornate animation or that play loudly, automatically, as or after content loads. As one colleague said to me, speaking for many of us, “Those scare the heck out of me.”
  • Ads that Clutter. Many ads also cause a page’s load time to slow down. They’re what Google calls “high-density displays,” and they can make it even longer for users to get to the content they came to a site to see.

Google also created these handy images to show how much “bad ads” annoy mobile users: 

Mobile_Graph..max-800x800.pngSource: Google

… as well as those on desktop:

Desktop_Graph..max-800x800.pngSource: Google

3 Ways to Make Your Ads Better

Within the same DoubleClick post that outlines the worst practices for ad experiences, Google also lists three key elements of the best ones, which content creators can use to guide their revisions:

  1. Immediate. When ads themselves load quickly, and don’t slow a page’s load time, people tend to engage with them more. Using Google’s AMP framework for advertising can help — that’s what Time Inc. did, resulting in an increased clickthrough rate, among other measurables.
  2. Immersive. These are the ads that, in a way, assimilate with the content being viewed, making it less distracting and less likely to interrupt or interfere with the consumption experience. It’s part of what Google calls “native advertising,” in which ads are designed by the publisher of the site where they appear, and not by the advertiser. (Read more about that here.) That way, ads can more seamlessly fit in with your site’s format and purpose.
  3. Relevant. It’s never been easier to learn more about the people who are consuming your content, by tracking analytics or through simple research. Those are some of the things that comprise “programmatic technology,” Google says, and having that information can help content creators build ad experiences that are relevant to their users. And relevance, we’ve found, correlates with engagement — maybe that’s why 72% of marketers say creating relevant content was one of their most effective SEO strategies.

The 1 Thing You Should Do Right Now

Remember, Google says that these changes won’t fully take effect until early 2018. With that said, however, it’s never too early to start creating a better ad experience based on the criteria above, and using the tools provided by Google to determine if it meets the new standards.

And again — the official announcement may not have specifically stated any search ranking implications for those in violation of the new standards, but at risk of sounding like a broken record, Google’s algorithmic history has us suspecting that that could very well be the case.

When all else fails, put yourself in the shoes of a site visitor, and honestly determine if you have any of these responses to your own ad content:

  • I don’t care.
  • How do I make this go away?
  • No. Back to the search results.
  • GAH! That ad was LOUD!
  • I’m bored.

If any of those thoughts occur to you, then it’s probably time to revisit and re-strategize your ad experiences. We’ll be here to keep you posted on Google’s changes — and whatever implications come of them for marketers.

Will you change your ad experiences in response to the new standards? Let us know in the comments.

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https://blog.hubspot.com/marketing/google-ad-blocker

On – 09 Jun, 2017 By Amanda Zantal-Wiener



source https://andlocal.org/google-strikes-another-blow-to-intrusive-ads-heres-what-you-need-to-know/

Google: How to Create Better Meta Descriptions – Search Engine Journal

Google: How to Create Better Meta Descriptions


SEJ STAFF

Matt Southern

  • 8.6K
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Google has released some recommendations regarding how to create better meta descriptions for search results.

In addition, Google is doing its part to improve meta descriptions by making a notable update to how they are rendered.

How Google Generates Meta Descriptions

When deciding which information to display in the snippet of a search result, Google will first turn to the content within the page itself and extract the most relevant information.

In the event that a page’s content is not the most relevant source based on the user’s query, Google will then turn to the manually written meta description to display in the search snippet.

Previously, if the page content was not the most relevant source for generating a snippet, and there was no meta description, Google would pull information from DMOZ. With DMOZ now closed, Google has stopped relying on the web directory for generating snippets.

With that being said, it has become more important than ever for site owners to write good meta descriptions. Google goes on to explain what it considers to be a good meta description.

“Good meta descriptions are short blurbs that describe accurately the content of the page. They are like a pitch that convince the user that the page is exactly what they’re looking for.”

The most common problems site owners need to watch out for when creating meta descriptions is neglecting to create them at all. Another issue is using the same meta description for all pages across the site. Other problems include writing off-topic, spammy, or low quality meta descriptions.

Google says there is technically no character limit to meta descriptions, but they will be truncated to fit the width of the device they’re being viewed on.

Going forward the NOODP robots directive, which prevented Google from using DMOZ to create snippets, no longer needs to be used.

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-create-better-meta-descriptions/201146/

On – 06 Jun, 2017 By Matt Southern



source https://andlocal.org/google-how-to-create-better-meta-descriptions-search-engine-journal/

Google Issues a Warning About Guest Posting to Build Links – Search Engine Journal

Google Issues a Warning About Guest Posting to Build Links


SEJ STAFF

Matt Southern

  • 15K
    READS

Google has issued a warning to remind site owners about the dangers of publishing content on other sites for the purpose of building inbound links.

The company doesn’t frown on guest posts or syndicated posts in general, but lately there has been an increase in spammy links stuffed into these types of posts. That’s the reason behind this sudden warning from Google.

Distributing content on a large scale when the main intention is to build links back to your own site is strictly prohibited under Google’s guidelines on link schemes.

What Google does allow are guest posts and syndicated posts which “inform users, educate another site’s audience or bring awareness to your cause or company.”

Google goes on to explain other article writing and distribution practices that are against its guidelines.

  • Stuffing keyword-rich links to your site in your articles.
  • Having the articles published across many different sites; alternatively, having a large number of articles on a few large, different sites.
  • Using or hiring article writers that aren’t knowledgeable about the topics they’re writing on.
  • Using the same or similar content across these articles; alternatively, duplicating the full content of articles found on your own site (in which case use of rel=”canonical”, in addition to rel=”nofollow”, is advised).

This probably goes without saying, but Google reminds being caught publishing articles with spammy links could affect the perceived quality of a site and thus affect search rankings. Site owners should be vigilant in their vetting of guest posts, and nofollow any links that appear questionable.

Google will also take action on websites creating the content in violation of Google’s guidelines. The company points out to site owners being harassed about publish content they can submit a complaint via Google’s spam report form.

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/google-issues-warning-guest-posting-build-links/200038/

On – 26 May, 2017 By Matt Southern



source https://andlocal.org/google-issues-a-warning-about-guest-posting-to-build-links-search-engine-journal/

Wednesday, May 31, 2017

3 Ways to Quickly Compare Your Website with Your Competitors – Search Engine Journal

3 Ways to Quickly Compare Your Website with Your Competitors
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Comparing your site to your biggest competitors is useful for a variety of reasons. First, it helps you find missed opportunities. It also clues you into shifts in your industry which could help you stay ahead of the curve. It also gives you a benchmark for growth goals.

Reaching the top of the SERPs and staying there is more challenging now than ever. Although Google webmaster guidelines haven’t changed much over the years, the core algorithm has.

Thanks to regular updates, in addition to major ones like Knowledge Graph, Hummingbird, and RankBrain, Google is better able to filter out websites that don’t meet their standards and boost up sites that best satisfy those guidelines.

I’m not suggesting that you can “reverse engineer” Google’s algorithm. It’s far too complex. Still, a review of top ranking websites can be a good starting point for determining best practices. At the most basic level, a website can be broken down into these components:

  • Technology
  • Content
  • Backlinks

Here are three ways to compare your site to your competitors to see where your SEO could be doing better.

1. Website Technology

A well-structured website that is fast, easy to use, and easy to crawl should be every webmaster’s goal. You don’t need a specific technology to accomplish this, but if you’re starting with a new site or considering a redesign, it’s certainly worth checking out the competition.

My favorite resource for this is BuiltWith.com.

SEJ technology profile using BuiltWith

They provide a ton of technology information, including:

  • Web Server
  • Email Services
  • Hosting Providers
  • Nameserver Providers
  • SSL Certificate
  • Content Management System (CMS)
  • Advertising
  • Analytics & Tracking
  • JavaScript Libraries
  • Mobile
  • Widgets
  • Content Delivery Network (CDN)
  • Aggregation Functionality
  • Document Information
  • Encoding
  • CSS Media Queries

Website Architecture

Knowing your competitors’ website architecture can be useful in terms of establishing parent and child page hierarchy as well as discovering potential product or content gaps. The best and easiest way to determine this is by creating a sitemap. There are several great sitemap tools available, but if you want a free tool that has stood the test of time, it’s hard to beat Xenu Link Sleuth as shown below:

SiteMap

Page Speed

With mobile devices being the most popular access point to the web, page speed is incredibly important. Google has specifically mentioned it as a ranking factor. The WebPageTest tool shows how you stack up against your competition:

Website Performance Tester

If you find your site is underperforming, head over to Google’s PageSpeed Insights for specific recommendations on how to speed up performance. In fact, even if you are best in class, you should still run the PageSpeed test and address any problems cited by Google.

2. Website Content

Organic Keyword Research

Developing the right list of keywords is still important. Chances are, your competitors have already invested a lot of time in developing a killer keyword strategy. Don’t let all that hard work go to waste. Use this competitive intelligence to drive traffic to your site.

My tool of choice for competitor organic keyword research is Ahrefs. They have a large database of search rankings by website. They also make it easy to determine which phrases drive traffic and their potential for ranking.

keyword explorer

In addition to listing keywords and rankings, they also list top pages. Better still,  they include the number of keywords that a particular page ranks for as well as a list of those phrases:

Ranking KWs on Pages

It fairly common to find a single page, like the one highlighted above, ranking for hundreds (even thousands) of related keywords. It can often be much more efficient to concentrate on creating a better version of a top-performing page than to focus on a single keyword or phrase.

One question in the back of nearly every webmaster’s mind is, “What opportunities are being missed?” What are competitors ranking for that you are missing out on? That doesn’t need to remain a mystery. Just plug your competitors into the Content Gap Tool, as shown below:

content gap analysis
You have the option of filtering to:

  • Show keywords that any of the targets rank for, but you don’t
  • Show keywords that at least two of the targets rank for, but you don’t
  • Show keywords that all the targets rank for, but you don’t

This is a great way to find both highly relevant keyword opportunities as well as some potentially new business opportunities.

On-page Optimization

Google may not be as dependent on meta tags since the introduction of Knowledge Graph, but having a clear roadmap for both users and search engines is still important. One way to see how your pages stack up against the competition is by using SEOBook’s free WebPage Similarity Comparison Tool:

Webpage similarity comparison

This tool outputs a comparison of:

  • Page title
  • Meta description tag
  • Keywords (good for competitor intel, not so much for SEO)
  • Text and word count
  • Top two- & three-word keyword phrases

The most effective way to use this tool is to look for patterns. In this case, each title tag leads with the brand and includes mentions of SEO and search marketing in at least two of the three pages with optimized title tags.

Some would argue this makes you the same as everybody else. That may be true, but if that’s what Google is rewarding, I’m OK with that.

3. Backlinks

There was a time when SEOs would chase after every backlink a competitor had to neutralize the advantage that link might provide. That all changed with the introduction of Penguin in April 2012.

Links that once held zero value suddenly had a negative value. All the garbage links acquired through indiscriminate backlink mining became dangerous to have in a link profile.

Penguin 4.0 is much more forgiving, but who knows what the future may bring? That doesn’t mean competitor backlink mining is a bad idea. It just means you need to use your head and “score” prospective links to determine if they are worth the necessary effort to acquire. (Pro tip: If no effort is necessary, it’s almost never worth getting.)

Once again, I find the Ahrefs Link Intersect tool to be highly effective in mining competitor links. (For the record, I have no affiliation with Ahrefs except for a paid subscription.)

Competitior Backlink Mining

The tool offers two different filtering options:

  • Show who is linking to all the targets
  • Show who is linking to any of the targets

Final Takeaways on Competitor Analysis

Content and links will continue to be the backbone of Google’s algorithm for some time. Understanding what you are up against and neutralizing any competitor advantages is an important step when developing an effective marketing campaign. Follow that up with the development of unique and useful content and nothing can stop you from ruling the SERPs.

Image Credits

Featured Image: Pixabay
Various Screen Shots: 4 May 2017 / Chuck Price

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/seo-competitors/196681/

On – 09 May, 2017 By Chuck Price



source https://andlocal.org/3-ways-to-quickly-compare-your-website-with-your-competitors-search-engine-journal/

Bad SEO Information: Too Easy to Find, Impossible to Escape – Search Engine Journal

Bad SEO Information: Too Easy to Find, Impossible to Escape
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We play in our closed Facebook groups, our message boards, our emails to each other. We laugh at the SEO advice being given by “some idiot” who doesn’t know what he is talking about.

From articles that declare SEO is dead to large sites that still use meta keywords, we sit back in our chairs and gloat about how much more we know and how silly people are for hiring hacks.

In SEO circles, cynically ripping apart what we consider bad advice has become a blood sport. Mercilessly trolling “bad apples” who give out bad advice is considered fair game. And, those who do battle with ninja-guru-growth-hacker fanboys wear their scars like badges of honor.

The Amount of Bad SEO Information Online is Staggering

It’s incredibly easy to find bad SEO information online.

Part of the problem is that the Internet is forever. Bad information posted in 2005 continues to haunt us to this day. (Though honestly, if you’re basing any part of your search engine strategy on an article written in 2005, you probably deserve to fail.)

But what about the stuff that comes at us and our clients with misleading half-truths and logical conclusions that are just wrong?

To keep my faith in humanity, I must believe the authors of this false information have good intentions. I find it hard to fathom that they would be intentionally misleading someone.

But you can only hear claims about how click-through rates affect rankings so many times before your cynicism sets in, and you want to tattoo “causation is not correlation” across your forehead so you don’t have to keep repeating yourself.

Timestamps…Really?

The article that prompted this rant (I won’t link to it because I don’t like ruining lives) indicated that Google looked at timestamps on posts to determine which piece of content came first on the web.

He indicated that if you put a timestamp on your content, Google will see the timestamp if someone scrapes your content and Google will know you were first.

I can understand how, if you live in a vacuum, this seems logical.

But, it’s not true.

Not even close.

And that was only one of the many pieces of bad SEO information this author touted as a fact.

Even the Good Stuff Gets a Bad Rap

The proliferation of bad information, and gut-reaction bashing of it, has gotten to the point where even good information is caught in the crossfire.

Recently, a great article from SEO veteran Roger Montti was lambasted by many on SEJ’s Facebook page. Ironically, the article’s intent was to help SEOs discern good information from bad information. Roger stated that:

“Keywords in headers are not relevant to how modern search engines work today.”

Based on the comments, you would have thought that SEJ was the sister publication of the Weekly World News.

Self-righteous SEOs had to get in their two cents.

Some even posted that they had lost faith in the accuracy of the information in Search Engine Journal.

Obviously, the point of Roger’s article seemed to go right over the collective heads of the SEO inquisition mob.

(Roger is right, for the record.)

False information on the internet isn’t the SEO industry’s only problem, though it’s a symptom of the root illness.

Even more dangerous are the snake oil solicitations that innocent and naïve business owners receive every day.

It’s the Consumers of SEO That Suffer

These e-mails say something like, “Hey, guess what! I bought a tool for $99 that runs a report on your site. It says that 20 of your title tags are too long and you don’t have any Alt tags. Oh, and your PageRank is low.”

OK, they’re not quite that honest, but that assessment is factual. And, they often start with, “Greetings of the day!” Who talks like that?

Look, I expect myself, and my team, to build good enough relationships with my clients that they see these solicitations for what they are – hack jobs.

But many business owners and unsophisticated webmasters (and even some who think they are sophisticated) don’t see these solicitations as spam. They fear that something is wrong with their sites.

Then they hire these so-called SEOs who suck up both dollars and time – and just suck. They have bad experiences that color their perceptions of “the SEO industry,” and I get a prospect who wants me to discount my retainer because they had a previous bad experience.

This has actually happened.

SEOs Aren’t Special

I could rant all day, and most likely, so could you.

If you’ve been in the industry for more than five minutes you’ve read the bad advice and seen the bad email solicitations. But we aren’t special snowflakes.

There’s bad advice about every business segment and industry. Wrong and dangerous advice, even.

My doctor told me the worst thing to happen to his profession is the internet. He’s seen many people misdiagnose themselves to the point where they cause significant harm to their bodies.

As SEOs, thankfully we don’t have to worry about anyone dying. But we do see SEO traffic die all the time because of bad information.

So, we rant, and we commiserate. We make caustic remarks about how stupid people are. And year after year nothing changes. The amount of bad advice grows.

There are still uneducated, unethical people claiming to be SEOs, and our industry still has less respect than used car dealers.

I Tried to Help, I Really Did!

It’s been almost four years since I tried to do something about the bad actors in the SEO field.

Four years ago, as a newly elected board member of SEMPO, I embarked on an ambitious endeavor to create a “search congress.”

The purpose of the search congress was to create a cohesive and enforceable code of ethics for the search engine marketing industry.

My idea was that if we could get search engine marketing influencers to the table, we could come to a consensus on basic ethical guidelines. If we had a code of ethics, we could definitively call out the bad actors – the folks who intentionally abuse unsuspecting businesses, and the people who publish bad information, intentionally or not. And we could start shedding the snake-oil salesman image our industry has had since virtually its inception.

It was a noble idea.

It failed miserably.

Why did the search congress fail?

Was it because the bad actors didn’t want their lucrative schemes foiled? Was it because of a few very vocal people who thought the whole thing was a bad idea? Was it because the egos in the search marketing world couldn’t get past their own arrogance to compromise and work with others?

I wish it was one of those reasons.

The reason the search congress idea failed was because of apathy. Complete indifference. No one was interested.

The search congress site was up until about two weeks ago. The site was live for almost four years. Only four people ever filled out a form to solicit more information.

Lots of people said they were willing to help, but when it came time to do the work, no one was available.

We Deserve Our Fate

Our industry failed to take a step toward cleaning up its act because, in the end, no one cared.

We didn’t put a stake in the ground. We didn’t help the next (or current) generation. And now, we’re lying in the bed we made for ourselves.

When you’re ethically apathetic, you get what you deserve.

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/bad-seo-information/198021/

On – 17 May, 2017 By Tony Wright



source https://andlocal.org/bad-seo-information-too-easy-to-find-impossible-to-escape-search-engine-journal/

4 Tips That Will Prepare You for the Future of Search & SEO

4 Tips That Will Prepare You for the Future of Search & SEO
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The more things change, the more they stay the same.

We are experiencing a period of unprecedented flux in the search industry. But dig deeper, and there are some elements that hold stubbornly true.

Historically, search has been about Google and it has been about text. There has been a shift in this relationship, as voice-based digital assistants like Amazon’s Alexa take hold, and search results become much more varied.

The way we approach search has also changed. Search is now central to most marketing teams and it encompasses a wide variety of skillsets. Everyone from the CMO to the creative team to the data analysis specialists has a vital role to play.

This provides a lot of food for thought for modern marketers. Enough for an all-you-can-eat thought buffet.

Just some of the big trends in our industry in 2017 are:

It used to be so much simpler, right?

All of this can be disconcerting. So how can we stay on top of so much change?

If you react to every new, shiny update, you’ll fall into a trap. The faster our industry changes, the slower we should be in our decision-making. The choices we make now will shape how successful we are over the next few years, so it’s worth taking the time to get them right.

Search Strategy

There are some comforting constants within all of this exciting flux.

The act of searching has not changed; it depends on an accurate answer to fulfill its function. Search engines are getting better at judging which answer is the most relevant and for that, we should be grateful. The industry has a long way to go, but the path we are on is a constructive one.

Therefore, with one eye on the present and the other on upcoming trends, we can set ourselves up for short- and long-term search success.

Below are four tips we should all bear in mind as we prepare for the future of search.

1. Use Psychology & Technology to Shape Strategy

People don’t change as quickly as technology. Marketers should understand the psychology behind their audience’s actions.

These eternal marketing principles will take center stage once more as search grows in sophistication. It is in understanding the full breadth of potential interactions our customers can have with our brands that we can thrive in this new ecosystem.

The hardware used to find this information may change, along with the search engine used to power it. However, the user behind the query will have the same impulses and requirements they always had.

Sure, the form these queries take will advance in lock-step with technology. We have seen this with longer queries via voice search, for example. We will see this more and more as users tap icons rather than typing queries.

This is exactly why we shouldn’t chase shadows by targeting specific search queries.

Knowing which keywords led visitors to your site is useful to know. It always will be. But from a strategic standpoint, gaining insight into the intent behind that keyword will be much more valuable.

Search Psychology

Both quantitative and qualitative resources are required to reach this level of comprehension into consumers.

This is where we can use technology to our advantage.

Your company’s CRM data can be a goldmine. Even the humble survey still has a role to play.

If you want to know what people are thinking, ask them. Combine this with what you see in your analytics and CRO software to get an idea of what truly leads a customer either to engage or disengage with your brand.

Psychology is the foundation of a great search campaign. Technology enables us to create a stronger foundation than ever before.

2. Structure Your Site Around Topics

Taking this approach to research will provide you with a rounded view of your customers’ preferences and requirements. This then becomes a fantastic resource when you consider the structure of your website, as you can build topical hubs for semantically related content.

We have been talking about this way of structuring sites for quite a while now. The logic is sound: Map different sections of your website to different products and services and, within each, cover every point of the consumer journey with different landing pages. This lends itself to a URL structure that is great for search engines and users alike.

This can be extended to encompass your apps and social media profiles, should they be a more fitting home for certain types of content.

What this provides is a perfect platform to populate with a variety of content formats. Informational pages may benefit from videos while transactional pages require structured, clear answers to pressing questions.

Hierarchy

Let’s take as our example an insurance brand. Applying this approach, we would have separate sections for each type of insurance.

We can consider the lead product page in each section to be the main content. This is then supported by supplementary content, which supports the main product page by adding further color and guiding users towards an informed decision.

Often these supplementary pages can be migrated from the blog, with some minor amendments. As a result, your product hub will cover everything from [what type of car insurance do i need?] to [get car insurance online].

This adds to your authority as a reputable resource and allows you to nest all related content within sub-folders under the main product.

Wherever the industry takes us in the next five years, this approach to site structure will have merit.

3. Think Beyond Google

Searching implies the requirement for an answer. The transmission of those answers may differ by channel or search engine or by media format, but search is just a vehicle for the information.

In fact, search engines only have access to our information once we choose to put it in their hands. They are not the creators of the content, but they form an essential link between demand and supply.

Google has been a dominant presence in our landscape, although competition is increasing as user behaviors differentiate. And yet, this is driven by a core truth: People are simply seeking new information.

This is important to remember as we ponder the rise of Amazon as an e-commerce search platform, or as Pinterest’s visual search technology evolves. Yes, we should learn how to code Skills for Amazon’s Echo. Undoubtedly, we should know how Pinterest’s “similar items” feature functions.

Nonetheless, this should not come at the cost of creativity. The age of generating content just to fit how we think Google ranks results is long gone. If we try to manipulate our way into a wider array of search engines and media formats all at once, we will lose sight of what is important. Moreover, we’ll have no time left to create anything of worth.

Creativity

This new era will reward genuine creativity and research over ‘quick win’ tactics. The future of search should actually be much more unified, from a strategic perspective, in the sense that we require one cohesive plan across all of those touchpoints.

That has not always been the case; often we have had to make do with the acquisition stage, which is harder to deliver on when you don’t really shape the awareness or consideration phases.

Where we need to upgrade our skills is in the area of content discoverability. Whether it is through Schema.org markup or creating Actions for Google Home, our focus should be on making it as easy as possible for any digital assistant or search engine to find and serve our content.

4. Devise a Flexible Measurement Strategy

We need to measure all of the above in a more nuanced way, bearing in mind that personalization is still an untapped opportunity.

Much has been made of personalization in search for a few years now, but true personalization is still on the horizon. This will be great for marketers, no doubt.

Personalization will, however, present us with new measurement challenges.

Search results will never be static. So how can we measure our ranking performance?

Furthermore, we need to know how to evaluate the success of our content across media platforms and social networks.

The key point in this area is to accept the importance of flexibility in a measurement strategy. The expectations of a video embedded within an informational page will differ greatly to those of a product launched on Amazon. A piece of content that gets links will be different to one that gets social shares, typically, and those will differ greatly from content that converts customers in volume.

Flexibility

Therefore, the communication of our measurement strategy is just as important as its component parts.

We need all parties to buy into the fragmented nature of search as we move away from being a pure, direct response channel.

This can be a very fruitful approach for businesses and may end up being a more varied and satisfying role for search marketers.

Of course, we need clarity in our data to achieve any of this success.

Hopefully that data will be shared by all digital assistants, which will give us insight into performance across devices.

We should also expect Google to split out voice queries within AdWords and Search Console (a feature they have tested already), which will at least provide a little transparency within voice search performance, too.

By using a unified reporting solution with tailored dashboards for different stakeholders, we can share our successes and learn constantly.

Our industry is changing, for sure, but it is changing for the better. The savviest marketers — and communicators — will reap the rewards.

Image Credits

Featured Image and In-post Images: Pixabay

https://www.searchenginejournal.com/future-search-tips/198579/

On – 19 May, 2017 By Clark Boyd

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source https://andlocal.org/4-tips-that-will-prepare-you-for-the-future-of-search-seo-2/