This is one of those secrets that is discussed in every single seminar we do: How does Google rank websites? Why does my website not rank higher than my competitors? What could be the best SEO strategy so that Google ranks us under the first three results?
The Google’s algorithm is one of the biggest secrets in the marketing world. The 200+ ranking features make it very challenging to find the right web strategy of your content and website structure. So, what’s the best way to develop a „Google-loves-us“ strategy?
Neil Patel has created a nice infographic that illustrates the main components of the Google algorithm. Let’s see what he comes up with…
The main challenge to drive more traffic via search lies in understanding the holistic approach of Google’s algorithm. Obviously, it is about the final user that works with the website, reads the content and shares it through their own social communication platforms. Over are those days when people though the „link-in-link-out“ game will solve the SEO war, when companies got paid for building link farms, and people got money to bring more links in. In the end, the user decides on what they need, and finally the Google Algorithm reflects that.
How important do you see social search for your brand or your company? Not much. Well, you might reconsider this answer when you have read some of the stats provided by Prestige Marketing in the following infographic.
The compilation of figures and data gives some insights in why brands need to understand the benefits of social search.
– When exposed to relevant branded media, consumers are more likely to click your information: search click-through rates increase 94%.
– Comparable to the Nielsen findings some months ago, 78% of consumers trust personal recommendations over search result rankings.
– In order to make purchase decisions, 48% of digital buyers use search and social media for their buying decisions.
„Social search engines use data from social networks and online relationships, including rating, shares, and likes, to determine the display order of search query results,“ claims the infographic.
The following infographic will tell you more about a toppic you might not really be spot on…
It is one of these questions that many brand marketers are asking themselves: What makes us reach the top search results on Google? A recent report based on Searchmetric data for 10,000 top Google search keywords sheds some light here. It was based on correlations and website characteristics of 300,000 URLs appearing in the top search result position in the US between March 2013 and June 2013.
The report shows that those websites tend to perform best that have a high social impact in terms of likes, shares, tweets and Google „+1″’s. It also makes clear that there is a realationship between ranking high on Google and collecting Google+ links to achieve better ranking impact which the graphic below indicates.
Despite common believe that fast website performance through intelligent on-page coding might create some benefit for the search ranking, the study shows that just not having it will let websites achieve lower rankings. This means that SEO basics like having H1 and H2 tags or providing brief descriptions now are seen as standards but won’t support any boost effect.
Still, content is king for Google. Good rankings were correlated always positively with good and unique content and had a bigger effect in 2013 than the year ago. As main ingredients of positive content can be named a clever internal link structure, a URL with a clear message and longer text plus a sensible number of integrated (audio)-visual files. This could be as of the fact that Google wants to boost their own pictures search sites and obviously Youtube.
Keywords keep up their impact on the rankings. On the page, they still need to placed in the title as close to the front as possible and in the text they need to be placed wisely as well. As of some algorithm changes compared to 2012, the importance of keywords in the domain name or the URL has lost its significance.
According to the report, websites of brands and other domains seem to play on different levels for Google. Obviously, brand websites seem to be superior to normal sites. The report states that it looks as if the search engine finds it normal for brands to generate more backlinks with the brand name appearing in referring content pieces alone.
The infographic provides some more information – and if this version is too small, just click here and download it…
Google revolutionized the internet, the way we interact, we use our brains and thus, somehow it changed the world. And now they will do it for the second time… with „Search, plus Your World“. This new search engine technology does not only bring us information from across the web. It proclaims to make search even better better by including photos, posts, and „more from you and your friends“.
With an all new algorithm for their search they have changed their search strategy. Today, people are searching not only for content. Today people also want to find personal and private information and touchpoints. The normal result is one which we have all expected for a long time since Google+ launched: Google+ will be integrated in Google search which will definitely affect the power of Google against their hardest social competitor Facebook.
Google’s new „Search, plus Your World“ integrates also personal data like personal content, pictures or videos from Google+. Here is their new promotion video…
On the official Google blog Amit Singhal explains how the new Google search works with an experience of his past.
„As a child, my favorite fruit was Chikoo, which is exceptionally sweet and tasty. A few years back when getting a family dog, we decided to name our sweet little puppy after my favorite fruit. Over the years we have privately shared many pictures of Chikoo (our dog) with our family. To me, the query [chikoo] means two very sweet and different things, and today’s improvements give me the magical experience of finding both the Chikoos I love, right in the results page.“
Google’s first step to integrate Social Search results gets now followed by the integration of Google+ which becomes a massive hub to „socially unite“ all of their own products and services. The new search offers three main benefits…
1. Personal Results, which enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page;
2. Profiles in Search, both in autocomplete and results, which enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following; and,
3. People and Pages, which help you find people profiles and Google+ pages related to a specific topic or area of interest, and enable you to follow them with just a few clicks. Because behind most every query is a community.
However, this might sound as if Google makes us more transparent, users have the opportunity to select whether they want the new Google search algorith, or not. This gives users the ability to see either the good old search results or the brand new private search results. People just need to use the little buttons…
…or they will simply change it in the account settings. And Google extends the Google+ circles idea to their search: Every single result in the private search mode gets marked whether it is private, public or limited entry. Somehow a clever filter, don’t you think…?
We all rely on Google search to find the truth on our current questions, right? Isn’t it scary in some way? Is Google becoming our brain in the future? What if you cannot find the answer on Google? We all use Google – and not only search. But do we use it too much? Could Google become an intelligence pitfall?
An interesting infographic by Onlinecollege.net on „Google and Memory“ explains the impact Google has had and will have in our daily life in the future, especially on our collective memories. The infographic is well created as it separates „The Google’s Brain“ into four separate quadrants. And all of us who use Google can see what effect this has on our habits… We don’t need our brain anymore it seems. Google give us all information: „just a click away“, „available all the time“ and makes us remember where we stored the information we needed.
Will we forget to memorize? Will we lose conceptual thinking? Will we be misinformed?
According to a new study conducted by the New York Times Co.’s About.com in collaboration with Latitude there are three kinds of search behavior: „answer me,“ „educate me“ and „inspire me“. Thus, the study identifies some distinct human behavior search patterns which will help marketers connect and understand the target groups they are heading for.
So, how do these three search pattern types differentiate in the study that surveyed 928 Americans, age 21 to 54 with household incomes of $50,000 or higher?
„Answer me“ searches accounted for 46% of all searches, the study found. People searching in this mode simply just want exactly what they ask for. They don’t want any value add. Their typical search is looking for beauty, fashion and entertainment.
Advice for marketers: The option to capitalize on an „Answer me“ moment by featuring product benefits front and center, in addition to aligning content that presents quick, easy-to-find answers, offers a massive opportunity to marketers to generate leads.
„Inspire me“ searches accounted for 28% of all searches. This is the typical browsing mode. Usually, people in this mode look for travel as well as home and garden.
Advice for marketers: For those consumers in the „Inspire me“ mindset, creativity and different inspirational information sources will be wanted by consumers.
„Educate me“ searches accounted for 26% of all searches. People searching in this mode expect to find multiple perspectives on a topic. The top categories of most interest are health and finance.
Advice for marketers: In the „Educate me“ the contextual search mode marketers offer might help consumers with creating informative, multiple messages.
From a brand marketer’s point of view, the study explains that ads can be relevant to search. When nearly 90% of respondents “enjoy when brands stop trying to sell you something and focus on teaching you something,” this tells them that putting your bets on search is defenitely not the worst tactic.
Furthermore, most respondents agreed on search advertising terms…
– the best ads are the ones that work with the information source to help you get what you need (88%)
– that ads can be useful when they are very relevant to their search (77%)
– that ads have helped them find great options, deals or discounts (64%)
However, marketers can take their advantage from this study, being successful with the findings is still a challenge. What is the best way to identify in which mode a user is? The easiest option will probably be to have some ads for each of the categories. Still, this means to have the right content when consumers are clicking through to the landing page. If you think about it, you will understand why content marketing is seen as a major trend from CMO’s.
Would you like to know what tactics B2B and B2C marketers use to achieve a powerful Search Engine Optimization (SEO) strategy? Well, then you should read the latest MarketingSherpa „2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report – SEO Edition“. But only if you have time to read a 202-page paper. If not, find the latest insights in brief on SEO habits and effectiveness according to more than 1.500 respondents.
Although SEO is one of the main topics in meetings with clients these days, marketing decision makers tend to ignore the strategic approach. The study shows the discrepancy between what marketers want and are willing to invest…
– Developing a SEO strategy is a top challenge but ranks as bottom objective
– Organic SEO via Content creation is a winner but costs many resources
– Established SEO processes generate future investments in SEO
– Incremental SEO improvements add up to large profits
– Local business listings tactics are underutilized
Many organisations are not challenging a strategic plan. The tactical approach still rules the daily business with clear focus on fast tactical objective turnarounds (i.e. leveraging website traffic, lead generation and measurable ROI). Understanding and evaluating digital assets from a SEO point of view is still not a strategic topic in businesses. Only 27% of companies surveyed responded they consider planning an effective SEO strategy an important objective.
However, companies put massive importance on measurable results. The study claims the benefit of Inbound Marketing by some helpful numbers…
– Use Social Media – Revenue goes up 114% and Leads 30%
– Find and test niche content: Organic traffic increased by 40%
– Revamp and optimize web content – Doubles lead conversions
The graphic below illustrates the value if various tactics and how to position them for your strategic efforts.
The above numbers sound as if SEO needs to become a strategic focus of your web strategy – and yes, it should. However, content marketing as an inbound marketing tactic stays a challenge for marketers, especially if it shall be authentic, story-telling and benefitial for users. No wonder it is one of the most difficult processes. BUT it is still considered to gain best returns. Nevertheless, the best SEO strategy needs to have the right approach from data capture to generating leads through to good landing pages, leverage mobile and finally do lead nurturing. And it needs to take into account the right follow up process from customer service and sales to complete a SEO strategy.
BrightEdge recently uncovered with a research project that social profiles of most leading brands don’t rank well in Google. Although many companies still invest a lot of their budgets in SEM/SEO activities, most of them forget to increase their social media presence from a search results perspective.
The research reviewed 200 of the world’s top brands for their social media presence. Most of the those brands, nearly 100%, stay on top or near the top ranks for their brand names on the SERP’s. However, a high percentage of 71% did not have their Facebook pages in the top 20 results. For Twitter it showed more or less the same result: 68% of the brands surveyed were not amoungst the top 20 results of the Google SERP’s.
„Brands today are pouring countless resources into social media channels and are creating great content that will help them engage with consumers, optimizing these for SEO purposes is a crucial way to drive exposure. Brands may be missing critical customer connection points if consumers can’t easily discover their social media pages in search.“ Jim Yu, CEO, BrightEdge
Interestingly enough, there seems to be no necessary correlation between the number of friends and followers and SERP rankings according to the analysis of various social media pages that the BrightEdge surveyed. For example, the Facebook page of a leading photography brand did not perform in the top 20 search results, although more than 160,000 were fans of their Facebook page. On the other hand, a leading auto manufacturer with only 17,307 fans had a Facebook page that ranked in the top 10 of search results.
The least effective brands at optimizing Social Networking sites are coming from the finance and insurance sector. Only three of the top 43 companies had their Facebook pages rank in the top 20 search results. In comparison, retailers were much more successful: 13 out of the top 23 retailers surveyed were found in the top 20 search results.
Brands could argue it is more important to find your homepage or branded pages for products or services in the top search results. Social Media experts might see this different as some of the main brands invest a lot of their branding activities in the leading Social Media sites at the moment. Especially, under the aspect from last year’s report that some big brands reported to loose their traffic on corporate websites to Facebook, the search impact for brands might become more and more important in the future. Would you agree?
Is paid search part of your advertising strategy to generate sales? Then, you better think about your paid search bidding strategy, if you don’t want to spend too much as a retailer.
According to a research by NetElixir -done amoungst 32 large retailer clients that spend at least $75,000 a month on search engine marketing- consumers are clicking more on paid search ads before buying products. The problem is that the cost per click went up by 16% in a period from January 2011 to January 2010, explains Udayan Bose, NetElixir founder and CEO.
“It’s a sign of the times. Consumers want to check out the best deal before committing their money to someone,” Mr. Bose concluded.
Some key insights…
– Consumers click 3.1 paid search ads before purchasing products (January 2011). Two years ago, it was 2.7 clicks.
– Consumers take more time to shop around (time between first click on a paid search ad and final purchase). This is a 12% increased in two years
– Consumers (52%) clicked on retailer’s display ad, a listing on a comparison shopping site, an ad on an affiliate site or social network, or on an organic search result before making a purchase. The interesting part is that all the activity came after the first clicked on the paid search ad from a retailer. This equals an increase by 30%.
We know that the time period between first click and purchase is long. The study and another one by GroupM and Comscore shows that brands and retailer need to extend their expectation for the time period from promotion to sales to 20 or 30 days, not only 14 days. It is not the last click we should monitor when bidding on generic keywords. Ideally companies and brands should not stop bidding on more general keywords that consumers type in early in their research. It is the best way to get consumers early in their purchasing process to meet the latency effect, and to become an evaluation partner for the later sale.
When somebody used to work for Google there is a lot of knowedge to be shared. And I thought, I could learn more about SEO techniques and tactics. Vanessa Fox did work for Google (apart from inventing Webmaster Central), and so I thought, I need to read the book Marketing in the Age of Google. As a web-strategist I should know the secrets of ranking high on Google for my clients.
Getting Vanessa’s inside view on how Google and their search technology operates, gives an aggregated insight on the evolution of search topics. It is saving time and presumingly more efficient than following or reading many SEO experts thoughts. And then let’s help clients to optimize their site fropm a SEO point of view.
To write a review is a challenge. As I follow some of the most interesting SEO cracks, I knew some content topics already. But there is much more quality thoughts and knowledge in it that makes the book worth reading. If companies want to optimize their top rankings, the book offers good tactical approaches and a clear structure how to start and evolve your content strategy as well as how to conquer the top positions in Google.
Having said this, the book is based on the theory of having a web-strategy in place that is aligned to the company’s business strategy. If your company has the consumer approach understanding the needs, desires and motivation why consumers go online to evaluate products and services, then the book is a must read.
The way people used search engines has changed in the last years as the web has become mature from an information platform to a consumer generated content base. It is not about what the company spreads but what the users are looking for and the content they share and create. People hear something about a person, a brand or a campaign and instandly start going to search for more information. Not seldomly they are finding consumer input. And often the initial search entry point starts with offline marketing, PR or customer service conversation – in print ads, TV commercials or an wallpapers.
Business that know how to connect offline and online efforts will succeed in the future. Happy that this was my main claim when I started this blog and thus gets now backed up by a Google specialist… Thanks Vanessa!
The amount of input the book Marketing in the Age of Google offers is probably only handable for a SEO specialist. And this person has to have the buy in from the C-level to manage the online strategy accordingly. A lot of the strategy is based on content creation and content framework which is a PR, marketing, HR, R&D and Customer Service topic in the future in my eyes. These departments need to learn how to place content effectively in the search world. It will affect the way peope perceive the business strategy of a company and the way the companies and brands interact with their clients, partners and employees. What I missed was the effect taxonomies and social tagging might have on search in the future but maybe this comes with the next update.