• 15/07/17 SEO

    How To Prep Your SMB Website for Voice Search

    The numbers on the use of Google’s voice search disagree in specific, but they all agree on one major trend:

    explosive growth.

    From 2015-2016, voice search grew from 0% of all Google searches to around 10%. This includes all major voice search options in the market, like Google Now, Apple’s Siri, and Microsoft’s Cortana.

    A recent survey of 39 leading SEO experts resulted in voice search becoming the third most powerful SEO trend in 2017. Mobile optimization and epic content were slightly ahead.

    The reason for this may be that voice recognition has increased dramatically in recent years. For example, Google Now had accuracy well below 80% in 2013, and it now sits well above 90%.

    Regardless of how you choose to interpret the data, it’s clear voice search is too powerful to ignore both now and in the future.

    How Do You Optimize Your Website for Voice Search?

    Google doesn’t yet offer voice search data to the public (although it may in the future). Until that data are released, you can’t create a perfect voice search optimization plan.

    But that doesn’t leave you helpless. Not at all. In fact, you can easily optimize for voice search now.

    First, start with Google’s answer and question boxes, which you’ve seen before. They look like so:

    The answer box at the top may be out of your reach. Typically, Google reserves that for highly reputable websites. Ones that have been around for years and years.

    Ditto for the question box.

    But, they both give you valuable data to optimize around. Look at those questions and answers, and BOOM! – you’ve got extensive data to build FAQ pages (which rank well in and of themselves).

    You might even consider building FAQs not just in your main navigation menu, but directly around specific products and services.

    Not only do they help you optimize for voice search, but they also are incredibly useful for your users. Answer thoroughly and honestly, and your website visitors put their trust in you, keep coming back, and eventually buy. Give generic, boring answers, and your customers have no reason to stay at your website instead of visiting your competitors. And you can also save money by not having to spend as much time on your customer service.

    And The Content Ideas Gush Out From There…

    Now, simple FAQs are great. But, you can go into even further depth (and usefulness, which is what web users want) by giving detailed answers to these questions in blog posts (view our content marketing services to get great content for your blog). You can make e-books that you sell.

    You could also create lead magnets out of these and use them to offer an incentive for people signing up to your list. Remember, your e-mail list has your most profitable customers on it. They love you.

    Or, you could create a video blog answering the question (especially if you’re a tradesman of some kind). You could turn this into a podcast also.

    From the example above, if you’re a lawyer, you could create an ultimate guide to apartment rental law.

    Wow! All that from a few questions and an answer?


    You could spend a full year, or even couple of years working part-time and creating massive content that answers these questions.

    For now, this is what you can do. And you’ll only be building future security around your search rankings by doing it.

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  • Proximity to Searcher is Now The #1 Local Search Ranking Factor
    01/05/17 SEO

    Proximity to Searcher is Now The #1 Local Search Ranking Factor

    Moz, by far the best source of credible SEO info, recently released its 2017 local search ranking factors study. Basically, they ask for the opinions of dozens of local SEO consultants. And then they aggregate the opinions to get their data.

    This year, the proximity of the searcher to the address they’re searching for became the top factor for determining search rankings.

    So, all you have to do is create a floating warehouse that uses drones to deliver your products, just like Amazon. No joke. That’s a real possibility. Amazon has a patent for it!

    But yes, I do jest. That project’s a little out of the reach of many businesses.

    Instead, take a look at the other top local search ranking factors:

    Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Your Website

    This one continues to stay at or near the top year after year. And it should continue to remain there for the foreseeable future.

    It’s simply the best way to determine the quality of your website. Think of it like asking other people what they think of a certain person. If Warren Buffet vouches for your investing skills, others will notice.

    Links work the same way. If big-name websites link to you, Google believes your site has some cool content to offer.

    Links may lose some of their ranking power as other factors (like proximity), gain it. However, I think links will continue to remain near the top. They won’t suddenly drop down and become completely irrelevant.

    Proper Business Category Association

    local search result

    This factor used to be #1 in 2013. And in 2017, it’s still the third most important if you want to rank in the local 3-pack, which is this:

    Of course, it’s a huge deal if you can get yourself ranked in this. So you must make sure your business is in the right Google My Business category.

    Seems so simple when you think of it. But it’s really a big deal.

    Domain Authority

    Moz created this proprietary metric. Basically, it predicts your website’s ability to rank in search.

    When you just start a website, your DA is 1. Powerhouse websites like ESPN and Amazon have a DA of 100. Disney currently sits at 88. A strong local website, for an HVAC company for example, will be in the mid-20s to low 30s.

    “Domain Authority” is quite complex, like Google’s algorithm. But it’s not that complex. Basically, it measures the quality of the links pointing to your website. And it’s best viewed as a comparative metric to see the authority of your domain versus others in your niche.

    You can download Mozbar, which shows domain authority, completely free.

    Notice What’s Missing?

    Believe it or not, content didn’t make the top 10 for ranking in either the local 3-pack or organic search.


    Content’s important. It attracts links. You must have something worth linking to.

    But content by itself isn’t as important to your rankings. Yes, you consistently need fresh content for search engines, and your readers. But content hidden alone by itself where no one can see it doesn’t do you much good.

    FYI – you can read Moz’s entire 2017 local search ranking factors study here.

    Happy ranking in 2017!

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  • Google Ramps Up Effort to Weed Out Factually Inaccurate Content
    27/04/17 SEO

    Google Ramps Up Effort to Weed Out Factually Inaccurate Content

    Remember when Al Gore famously said he “created the internet?”

    See him saying it here at about 50 seconds into the video:

    Who knows his intent. Maybe he just got caught up in the moment and lost track of what he was saying.

    Regardless, it was a factually inaccurate statement.

    When you consider search, Google wants to remove as much factually inaccurate content from its results as possible.

    Google employs hundreds of people to manually review websites and rate the content as good, bad, spam, or useful. No one knows the precise impact their ratings have on Google’s search algorithm. But we do know their opinion gets factored into algorithm updates.

    Google gives its evaluators nearly 160 pages of guidelines to shape their decision-making.

    And one of the latest changes involves demoting “factually inaccurate content.”

    How Does Google Understand Factually Inaccurate Content?

    As you know, there are many opinions on nearly every topic out there. Facts disagree.

    Who’s right?

    Sometimes, it’s not so obvious. And, of course, you don’t want to find yourself in the trap of unintentionally angering Google.

    First, check out this example from page 10 of Google’s evaluation guidelines:

    Google result example

    Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia.

    I’m no history buff…but that sounds factually inaccurate to me.

    And it is. However, in this case, teachers set up this website for elementary school students to practice their fact-checking skills. You find this out as your read their other pages.

    While factually inaccurate, the site serves a “helpful and beneficial purpose.” So, it’s not going to get docked in Google’s search rankings.

    In example two, take a look at humor website OM NOM NOM NOM:

    google example for ranking

    You see a mouth drawn on a drier. Again, technically that’s factually inaccurate.

    …But remember this is a humor website. So Google once again says this site has “a helpful or beneficial purpose.”

    It provides value (humor) to its audience. It’s not attempting to deceive them in any way.

    Google Doesn’t Like This Kind of Content

    Google offers search evaluators this example of “Low-Quality Content:”

    Right away, it has a couple obvious grammar errors. And while you can’t see it in this screenshot, later on, it says an “endless amount of nuclear power can be found in the different ocean across the world.”

    That’s not really the case. The article does say uranium can be found in abundant quantities throughout the ocean. But saying we have an endless amount of nuclear power available in our oceans is something else altogether. And the article offers nothing to substantiate that claim.

    Clearly, not much effort or thought was put into this content. So, it gets docked by search evaluators.

    How Useful Is Your Content?

    Google’s not asking search evaluators to pull anything tricky here. Nothing sounds unreasonable.

    Basically, if you’re going to publish on the web, keep what you say factually accurate. Make sure you have perfect spelling and grammar (a typo here and there isn’t anything to worry about).

    But above all, be useful. Make sure your readers can take something from your content and put it into action, or make a more informed decision with it. A professional SEO can help.

    Yes, it really is that simple.

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  • Should You Still Focus on Keyword Rankings in 2017?
    16/04/17 SEO

    Should You Still Focus on Keyword Rankings in 2017?

    For quite some time, SEOs have sold their clients based on good rankings. Clients look at the rankings, notice the uptick in their business, and then they decide the SEO’s worth keeping.

    But with Google personalizing search, cramming paid ads at the top of its search pages, and constantly updating its algorithm, is this really a good way to measure SEO success?

    Let’s take a closer look.

    The Problem with Search Rankings

    Really, we just discussed this. They fluctuate. A lot. Plus, rankings aren’t what you really want anyway.

    Why’d you hire your SEO?

    You want them to grow your business. So, while rankings make for a leading indicator of search success, they don’t count for much by themselves.

    You’ll want to also look at organic traffic, which increases as your search rankings grow.

    But most importantly, you want your SEO to drive conversions. You want more people contacting you through your form. You want more phone calls.

    It’s on you to close the sales from there.

    How Do You Track This Information?

    Online data is easily tracked with Google Analytics. Simply have your SEO set up your contact form to redirect to a “Thank You” page once people contact you. This is quick and easy for an SEO to do.

    Then, buy a separate phone number you use for your website only. Those two together get you pretty close to the reality of the effectiveness of your SEO’s work. Some people may walk in your physical location after reading your website, but not too many.

    Should You Use Keywords Yet Today?


    If you sell HVAC or legal services, you wouldn’t talk about zebras and unicorns, would you?

    Because, if you did, Google certainly wouldn’t rank you for the appropriate search terms. It would say,”What the hell is going on here? I’m putting this site near the bottom of the search rankings.

    That’s an extreme example. Many SEOs get lost in the finer details. They mention the keyword too much.

    All you need is to put it in your page’s title, and then once in the body content somewhere. You can also include 2-4 related terms. Then, you make sure every keyword sounds natural, and that the page provides a solution to a problem the searcher might have.

    You include the related terms because Google’s search is “semantic.” That simply means it also looks for words similar to your target key phrase on your page.

    That only makes sense, right?

    It’s not hard to make Google happy with keywords. But, it is hard to continually produce content that both Google and your users like over a long period of time.

    Making a website today is hard, long work.

    But you don’t have to worry about a Google penalty if you keep it simple and focus on solving problems for your users with each type of content you add.

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  • Google Rocks the SEO World with “Fred” Update
    11/04/17 SEO

    Google Rocks the SEO World with “Fred” Update

    Google pulled a big surprise on the SEO world this time. The “Fred” update, as it’s accidentally been called, has annihilated as much as 50-90% of the traffic from some websites.

    Details weren’t clear at first. However, this is what it’s currently believed “Fred” has done:

    1. Pushed websites with poor link profiles down the search rankings
    2. Removed websites really designed to make money off affiliate ads and revenues (versus genuinely helping searchers) from the top of the search rankings

    Google’s Gary Illyes provided some confirmation of the second view when he tweeted this on March 14th:

    DYK there’s no inherent problem with affiliate links? The problem is when a site’s sole purpose is to be a shallow container for aff links.

    TechTerminus.com, for example, publicly shared the fact that it got penalized. On their content pages, they have a big banner ad front and center right when you first visit them. After scrolling down about a screen or two on a desktop/laptop PC, you get hit with another banner ad on the right side.


    • When you read the content, it’s fairly basic stuff you can find anywhere on the web
    • It’s clearly written by someone whose first language is not English because it contains a number of obvious mistakes
    • The majority of the topics are likely based on keywords

    So, Google looks at all those factors and says,”Yikes. Not sure that searchers would really like this site. Plus, I know of other sites that answer the search query much better. So, let’s push this one down the search rankings a ways.”

    Even though Fred may or may not have included a penalty for low-quality links, it’s not shocking if it did. Google consistently works to clean up the web and get websites that searchers want at the top of the search results. That means links should be acquired “naturally,” which means the link was placed by someone who found your site interesting and decided to link to it.

    What Do You Do If You Got Nailed By Google Fred?

    If this update hits you, you’re really in a world of trouble. It won’t be quick to recover from.

    The best solution involves shifting your mindset. Change it from “I gotta make money” to “I must create the most useful website of its kind on the entire web.”

    Whether you actually succeed in that or not doesn’t matter. But if you push toward that goal, your search rankings won’t be in jeopardy.

    More specifically:

    • If you rely on ads or affiliate links, evaluate how you can reduce or eliminate your reliance on them
    • Create only the most useful content of its kind
    • Promote that content heavily to your audience to earn natural links and shares
    • Mention your desired keyword phrases once or twice on each page, and that’s it
    • Create content rich with embedded videos and images, in addition to text

    You’re best off doing these now, even if you didn’t get penalized. Google’s only going to continue to tighten its stringent standards. Use an SEO that knows how to navigate them.

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  • Should You Fear Google’s New Mobile-First Index?
    22/03/17 Google's Algorithm Updates

    Should You Fear Google’s New Mobile-First Index?

    Google’s changes always shoot your stress through the roof, don’t they? Will you, an honest business owner doing your best to follow their rules, suddenly find 25% of your business gone overnight?

    It happens. Though Google seems to be getting better at wrongly punishing solid websites.

    You remember “Mobilegeddon,” don’t you? Google announced the change would “significantly impact” its search results. SEOs freaked because:

    Google almost never discusses algorithm changes before they happen
    They used the specific phrase “significantly impact”

    After all the dust settled from the update, Moz found the number of mobile-friendly web pages in Google’s search results increased just 2%.

    In other words, no big deal.

    But What about the Mobile-First Index?

    Well, you don’t have to worry too much. Google’s Paul Haahr and Gary Illyes have both publicly said they expect minimal search results changes with the mobile-first index. So, no need to have a heart attack. Save yourself some stress. Panic over other business challenges you have.

    What is the Mobile-First Index Anyway?

    At this point, Google’s got a bit of a problem. It sees more mobile searches than desktop ones. But, prior to the mobile-first index (which it’s rolling out now), it only ranked your site based on the desktop version.

    Google does an amazing job of meeting searcher demands. So, they’re working at meeting this change in behavior.

    The mobile-first index is a separate index from the desktop one. Google treats a mobile-first version of a web page as the primary version to index ahead of the desktop one. You also get a slight rankings boost for having a mobile-friendly (aka “responsive”) website.

    Most searchers will get mobile-first search results. And eventually, the desktop-only search results will go completely away.

    What Should You Do, If Anything?

    Fortunately, you don’t have to panic about unexpected costs in this case. If you’re my client, I’ve made your website “responsive,” so it offers a fluid user experience on both desktops and mobile devices. Since that’s the case, you don’t have to do anything.

    On an ongoing basis, it’s important to check and make sure your website displays properly on your smartphone and tablet PC. It should be easy to press buttons so users can take actions. Your site should load in a couple seconds. Simple things like that.

    Some companies have a desktop and mobile version with different content. They’ll have to make some back-end SEO changes with structured data to avoid a rankings loss.

    But you? You’ll be fine. No need to worry about the mobile-first index at all!

    Read More Articles

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  • 02/03/17 Google's Algorithm Updates #

    All You Need to Know about Google’s Intrusive Pop-Ups Penalty

    How do you feel about the pop-ups that ask you to subscribe to email newsletters you encounter on many websites?

    Do you want to punch the website’s owners? Or, do you just click the “X” in the upper right corner and go on with your day?

    Well, Google’s sensitive to the fact that many users can’t stand pop ups. On the other hand, many websites continue to use them (even after the introduction of this penalty) because they do help build email lists quite well.

    Anyway, Google’s publicly said this about intrusive popups:

    “To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly.”

    And this is kind of a big deal because email lists do an awesome job of engaging and selling across all industries (consumer and business-to-business).

    What Does This Mean at a Practical Level?

    Google calls intrusive popups “intrusive interstitials.” They use this term to refer to those popups that block your entire screen before you can take an action. That could include a popup to join an email list or a banner ad that suddenly hits you before you can go to the next level in a game.

    Searchers, and Google, do not like ads that disrupt their browsing experience. They want one click to get to your content. They don’t want to click on your listing and then click down a popup or two to get to what they want. That frustrates them.

    There’s a Simple Alternative

    Fortunately, this change simply forces you to use content to guide your visitors through your buying process. Web searchers and Google don’t mind that at all, as long as you’re not pushy and obnoxious about getting people to buy.

    And list-building? Yep, you can still do it. You simply embed the email sign-up form in various places throughout your website (at the top of the pages, after the end of blog posts, and in sidebars are key areas).

    The cool thing about building an email list is that it protects you from rankings changes. Once you have people on your list, Google can’t do a thing to remove people off them. Only you can influence whether they stay or go. And people on your list already love you. So it’s much easier to sell something to them than people who come from search.

    Google’s intrusive pop-ups penalty? It’s not a surprise at all. And you don’t have to worry about it a bit.

    More articles are found here.

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  • New Study Reveals Content Gaining Ranking Power, While Links Losing It
    28/01/17 Content Marketing , SEO

    New Study Reveals Content Gaining Ranking Power, While Links Losing It

    A new study by Searchmetrics reveals content relevance is gaining cred with Google, while backlinks are declining as a ranking signal. If you follow that link, you can read a summary of the major highlights of the report. It also contains a link that gets into gritty, nerdy details. Anyway, you get the gist.

    Continue reading

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  • 4 Benefits of Bing Ads Over Google Adwords
    21/01/17 SEO

    4 Benefits of Bing Ads Over Google Adwords

    If you’ve read this blog for any length of time, you’ve heard me mention Bing Ads as an alternative to Google Adwords.

    …But why?

    Isn’t Google the god of search?

    Well, yes. With search results they rock.

    But Bing Ads really is an awesome alternative to Adwords.

    Continue reading

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  • How to Make Facebook Work for Your SMB in 2017
    13/01/17 Social Media

    How to Make Facebook Work for Your SMB in 2017

    One of the funniest things about businesses is that they get upset and surprised when Facebook changes how it works so your posts show up to fewer people when you publish them. You call this “organic reach.” And the reason it’s silly to be surprised that Facebook does this is because it’s a publicly traded company. On its IPO, it traded at $38.23. Then, its price plummeted all the way to $18.06 shortly thereafter.

    Continue reading

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