For some, navigating the world of marketing is no easy feat, especially if you’re new. When traversing within this realm you’re bound to encounter a multitude of acronyms for key concepts that must be understood before crafting digital marketing strategies. Like with architecture, ensuring that your foundation is sturdy is vital before you begin building upon it. There are many ways to optimize your site’s ranking, but some techniques involve risks. Before embarking on your journey into the world of digital marketing, we’ll begin with an understanding of SEO.
What is SEO?
If you want to hide something, place it on the second page of the Google search results. People begin their research with Google, but only the first five search results receive 67% of all clicks. With this information in mind, you might be wondering, how do we make it into the coveted top five results? One way to make this happen is through search engine optimization.
SEO is defined as the practice of increasing the quality and quantity of traffic to your website through organic search engine results. It’s important to drive traffic to your site, but not all traffic is created equal. We want searchers who will find your content useful. Once you’ve sifted out the searchers who won’t find your content relevant, that’s when you’ll start focusing on the numbers, or in this case, the quantity of traffic. Unpaid traffic that is generated from SERPs (search engine results pages) is known as organic traffic.
When faced with a perplexing question, it is not uncommon for us to immediately take to our keyboards or awaken our devices from their slumber (Siri, Alexa, I’m looking at you) to help us find the answers we seek. Each second, Google processes over 40,000 search queries on average which equates to 3.5 billion searches a day. Within mere seconds, billions of results appear and are arranged in an order that the engine deems most fitting for our query. The order in which results appear is determined through three main processes: ranking, crawling, and indexing processes.
Crawling – These aren’t your average creepy crawlies! During this process, search engines send out bots to search the web for new and updated content which is later stored in an index.
Indexing – After a bit of search and reconnaissance, the bots store the information that was discovered while crawling. Once stored in the engine’s index, the webpage will be displayed as a result of relevant searches.
Ranking – Answering the searcher’s question is the priority. Based on the query, the results will be arranged from most to least relevant.
Since these functions are carried out by search engines, it may seem like you have little to no control over the crawling, indexing, and ranking processes. Thankfully, there are a few ways you can improve them! We’ve put together a free guide to help you improve your site’s crawlability, indexability, and rankability. Submit your information above and receive your free checklist right into your inbox in a matter of seconds!
Now back to business. When it comes to SEO, there are many hats you can wear. But there are also consequences that come with the hat you choose to don.
Black Hat SEO
You want results and you want them fast. These “short-cut” tactics are often referred to as black hat SEO. People who participate in black hat SEO often regret taking this route. Of the three methods, this one is the least ethical as it goes against search engine guidelines and is often given a penalty. There are many characteristics of black hat SEO. Not sure about which practices are deemed shady by most search engines? Here are a few examples of black hat tactics:
Keyword stuffing – This is the overuse of certain keywords in an attempt to improve visibility and increase organic traffic. In the case of keyword usage, less is more. Maintaining relevance when using keywords in your online content is vital. If determining whether a word is connected to the topic or not feels like a stretch, it’s probably best not to use it.
Cloaking – Trying to pull the wool over the eyes of a web crawler? Some webpages are able to show a different version of their site to crawler/bots that decide to pay them a visit.
Invisible text – This method is dated, but it is still loved by some. This involves hiding text containing keywords in the webpage’s background by matching its color or placing it offscreen using CSS. Doing this only makes the words visible to search engines.
Creating and operating a business requires a substantial amount of time and money. If you started one, chances are that you’re in it for the long haul. Websites flagged for these practices run the risk of being permanently banned from search engines, so it’s best to avoid using black hat techniques.
Grey Hat SEO
If there is a fine line between ethical and unethical SEO practices, a grey hat tactic is it! This method involves practices that aren’t illegal, but they aren’t entirely honest either. Here are a few ways grey hat SEO is done:
Keyword association manipulation – One of the things is not like the other. This technique is similar to keyword stuffing, but it involves trying to make unrelated words functions as synonyms in an attempt to trick bots.
Sneaky redirects – Using redirects on your site isn’t a crime, but when they’re used to show two different versions of your site, it becomes a problem. Refrain from showing one version of your site to desktop users and redirecting mobile users to a spam domain.
Duplicated content – Getting a sense of deja vu? Uploading the same content to multiple websites might seem like a great way to get more eyes on it, but it could run the risk of being deemed as spam by Google or other search engines.
As with black hat SEO, there are risks involved with practicing these techniques. With the ever-increasing advancements in technology, trying to outsmart algorithms is quite the gamble. If having your company’s reputation take a nosedive doesn’t sound like something you’d like to put on the line, it might be best to try your luck elsewhere.
White Hat SEO
If you’re looking to improve your ranking without running the risk of facing penalties, then white hat SEO is the way to go! Essentially, white hat SEO is the avoidance of grey and black hat practices. However, it also requires the optimization of certain components of your webpage. White hat practices include:
Quality content – It’s important to remember the purpose of your content. The user has a problem and your site holds the answer/solution. Through the use of SEO keyword research tools, you’ll be able to find and attach the appropriate keywords that match the purpose of your content.
Meta tags – Always be sure to include these and they not only provide a snippet of your web page in SERPs but are also read by search engines and crawlers to learn additional information about your site. This information can be used to determine rankability.
Information Architecture – The structure of your information plays a pivotal role in usability and findability. Finely structured Information that is easy to navigate will provide users with an optimal experience during their quest to find the answer to their query.
Mobile-friendly – Having a version of your site that is fully capable of being viewed on mobile devices is quite important. According to Google, failure to do so could result in your SERP ranking taking a hit. This is because they prioritize mobile-friendly websites. If you’re unsure about your site’s mobile compatibility status, Google provides a mobility test that can help bring awareness to the components of your site that might require further action.
Implementing most of these practices will begin with the construction of your site. Simplistic yet functional navigation for both users and crawlers alike is ideal. It should be taken into consideration when designing your webpage. Adhering to these guidelines will have you well on your way to improving your ranking. All of this without running the risk of being flagged by search engines.
Improving your ranking is of great importance, but it shouldn’t involve putting your business on the line. It is best to participate in honest practices that won’t result in the loss of your website and ultimately a decline in business. The world of digital marketing is a competitive field. Therefore, you might feel tempted to engage in practices that’ll help you quickly rise above the masses. But it’s important to be aware of the repercussions that are bound to follow.
If you’re still looking for an alternative way to increase your views, you might want to consider SEM or search engine marketing. Learn the basics of SEM and how to implement its practices into your strategy in the second part of this blog. Stay tuned!
Landing on the first page of the search engine results page (SERP) gives any business website a great advantage over its competitors. With one survey proving that more than half (51%) of all website traffic comes from organic search, high ranking websites can significantly drive in potential clients and complement branding efforts. However, to enjoy these benefits would require the proper implementation of search engine optimization (SEO) tactics. Since not all firms can claim expert-level SEO knowledge, employing the services of an SEO-focused agency is sometimes the best option.
Yet with so many companies out there offering SEO services, hiring a reputable firm can be a challenge. It is even possible to end up with a bogus SEO agency, doing more harm than good. Increase your chances of working with a credible SEO agency by knowing the common mistakes to avoid when searching for online marketing partners. Here is what you should look out for:
Falling for unrealistic promises from an SEO agency.
It is easy to be lured with the guarantee of a high search engine ranking for your business website. Yet an SEO agency that promises a first-page search result is a sure red-flag. Your doubts should also increase if the promise does not include clear steps and tactics to achieve the top spot. An honest SEO provider lays down an effective SEO strategy yet also informs the client about the instability of how search engines work. This means that a reputable SEO agency does not center its services on ranking alone. Instead, it provides the best SEO recommendations to improve the rankings and usability of a business website based on reviews and assessments done.
Settling for the cheapest package.
Stats from 2019 SEO services report shows that small businesses spend an average of USD 497.16 per month for SEO services. To save money, it is tempting to choose the SEO provider that offers the most affordable packages. However, expertise comes with a price. This is why reputable SEO companies demand a fair rate for the quality of the services they offer. Thus, an agency offering very low rates may also result in poor performance. This would then lead to wasted money in the long run.
Neglecting to do SEO agency research.
To avoid regrets and mistakes, it is advisable to be meticulous before signing-up with an SEO agency. Do not forget to dig into the background and history of the SEO firm. Among other things, you want to know who their past clients are and the feedback they received from them. You should also be ready to ask the right questions that can assess the credibility and competence of an SEO firm.
Expecting quick results.
Patience is a virtue any SEO agency should attain due to the slow rate at which results are likely to be seen. It usually takes months before you can see the effects of all on-page and off-page optimization techniques. Therefore, a trustworthy SEO firm offers long-term yet realistic SEO services. On the other hand, you should be wary of SEO companies that promise results in a short period of time.
Success in digital marketing requires knowledge and competencies on various strategies. This is why it is best to leave all your online marketing needs to the experts by partnering up with Birch River Design Group. Our team based in Scottsdale, Arizona makes it a goal to help businesses enjoy the rewards of professional digital marketing techniques. Learn more about our services by reaching out to us via phone call or email. Feel free to connect with us through LinkedIn, Instagram, Pinterest, or Facebook!
It is impossible to tell the history of Google without mentioning the numerous algorithm updates it has introduced over the years. Google started introducing more updates as they continue to enhance how their platform processes search results. Web marketers and search engine optimization (SEO) specialists follow and monitor all updates such as Panda, Hummingbird, Penguin, and RankBrain. This is because changes implemented by Google can greatly affect a website’s ranking and performance.
Just recently, Google rolled out another change, the BERT update. With claims that the new update will affect 10 percent of all search queries, taking time to understand it should be part of crafting an online marketing strategy. The following briefly explains what this new change is about:
What you need to know about the Google Bert Update
Google is not the most popular search engine in the world for nothing. The giant company keeps on finding ways to further improve its systems and technology. Last October 2019, Google announced the BERT update, which is the acronym for Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers. The term may appear intimidating. However, it simply represents a technology that will allow the machines to better understand the search intent of users when they type in search queries.
Through its natural language processing (NLP) software, the BERT update aims to help machines respond like a human. In the past, it was not uncommon to type in a keyword and get unconnected results. Due to language complexities, it is very easy for search engines to wrongly interpret a query. Google wants to limit or altogether eliminate these mistakes through the BERT update, which is adept at interpreting the nuances and context of search queries.
How will the Google Bert Update affect SEO?
Since Google did not roll out any major updates in the last five years, reports are saying that the BERT algorithm will bring significant changes to Google’s search function. This prediction makes many digital marketers worry about how it will affect their SEO strategy. People in the online marketing world are likewise eager to learn ways on how to optimize their website for BERT.
However, a statement via Twitter from Google’s public search liaison, Danny Sullivan, sends out an assurance that the BERT update will not require any new or drastic changes to a website’s current on-page SEO tactic. This is true for a website that is already making an effort to provide quality content for its visitors. In a tweet, Sullivan said, “There’s nothing to optimize for with BERT, nor anything for anyone to be rethinking. The fundamentals of us seeking to reward great content remain unchanged.” Thus, if there is any effect, the BERT update will further highlight the importance of great content. The search algorithm will focus on search intent. Therefore, inserting exact keywords in content will no longer be as important as before. Now, the goal is to make the content sound more natural by writing with the users in mind and not for the search engines.
With the rapidly evolving technology, keeping up with the changes is one of the many roles of a digital marketer. Make sure that your firm is always updated with the latest news about how online marketing works by partnering up with a reliable digital marketing agency, the Birch River Design Group based in Scottsdale, Arizona. Get in touch with us through a phone call or email.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is crucial for the success of any digital marketing venture. Firms want their website to appear on the top page of a search engine results page (SERP) because more visibility means a greater chance to achieve marketing goals. However, with a report saying that 46% of Google searches are looking for local information, you will further strengthen your online presence with local SEO tactics. The following briefly explains local SEO and its vital role in the growth of your business.
What is local SEO and why is it important?
Your SEO strategies may have landed you a first page ranking on Google but are your searches leading to new clients and increased revenue? If not, it is probably because your webpage is not properly optimized for your target clients. Local SEO is a variety of methods you can implement to ensure that your online marketing initiatives are reaching the right audience. While basic SEO practices allow you to reach a wider audience, local SEO narrows it down to the group that is actually looking for your services. These methods are generally the same with organic SEO but with emphasis on the location of your business. The following tips can help grow your business:
Pay attention to your contact page.
You want an easy way for customers to reach you, so take the time to make a good contact page. Your contact details in your Ecommerce site or social media pages should be detailed, accurate, and complete. For businesses located in multiple locations, the contact information of all its other branches should be available. Email addresses and phone numbers (on mobile devices) should be clickable. This way, users can readily get in touch if they need to. This local SEO method asks of you to provide the same business name, address, and phone number (referred to as NAP) throughout your sites. This way, you gain a good reputation and display consistency.
Claim and polish your business profile online.
Google makes local SEO simple and easy for businesses by providing free and useful tools. Potential customers will not have a hard time finding your location with Google Maps. Meanwhile, by claiming your Google My Business profile, even firms with no existing website can gain prime online exposure. To maximize these Google services, take time to polish the information you will provide in your business profile. It is advisable to provide as much detail as possible (e.g., photo, logo, company description) because as a major search engine, your entry in GMB can greatly influence your SEO ranking.
Get good ratings from review sites.
Aside from Google, getting your business listed on review sites such as Trip Advisor and Yelp is a strong local SEO method. Being present in these sites can provide a valuable link juice to your business page. Moreover, the said sites also provide testimonials and ratings from clients, so as a rule in any business, it pays to go the extra mile to provide excellent services. You can also monitor the comments and suggestions you will find on the sites so you can give an appropriate response (whether for airing your side, giving thanks, or offering an apology).
Get listed in local directories.
A start-up running its operations in Washington may not exactly benefit from searches coming from far or different locations. Therefore, to further increase your chance to appear in local searches you also want to publish your contact details in local listings. Choose directories that are considered authority sites in order to complement your SEO effort. You also want to choose a directory that your target client is likely to visit. For example, a list of businesses posted on the official site of a city or town.
Include local keywords in your content.
Help search engines display your content with the people looking for the services you offer with keyword research. Use keyword tools to determine the terms that your target clients are using in performing searches. You want to include these terms in the online content you publish too. Moreover, to appear in local searches, do not forget to include the business location in your keyword strategy. Through this local SEO tactic, you will garner the attention of people who are actually in need of your services.
Do you want to explore the many benefits that online marketing can do for your start-up or small business? Reach out to our team at Birch River Design Group, a digital marketing agency in Scottsdale, Arizona. Our experience, expertise, and dedication can provide your firm with the guidance and knowledge to make you reap the benefits of a strong online presence. Schedule a meeting with us today!
With the influence of technology likely to intensify in the years to come, the way people search for information online is rapidly transforming. From typing queries into a search engine, more and more people are starting to explore the convenience of using voice search. A forecast report from ComScore even shows that by 2020, half of searches will be done through voice search. As a relatively new area of technology and search, it is crucial as a business owner to understand the techniques to make it work to your advantage. Prepare for this new way to search and future-proof your business with the following tips.
What is voice search and how is it used?
As the name implies, voice search is a technology where users can simply use voice commands instead of typing keywords to search for information online. This innovation works through the use of automatic speech recognition or voice-to-text mechanisms. Today speech recognition technology used in voice search is commonly used by voice-enabled digital assistants. Apple was the first company to offer a voice assistant with their introduction of Siri in 2011. Three years later, more tech giants launched their own digital assistants: Cortana for Microsoft and Alexa for Amazon. In May 2016, Google launched their own version of voice assistant with Google Home. With technology companies continuously enhancing the functionalities of voice search for consumers, it is clear this new technology will only continue to grow.
Why is voice search gaining popularity?
Anything that makes life more convenient is bound to be a success. Because speaking to search is much simpler than typing keywords, it is no wonder that voice search is gaining in popularity as the future of search. You can also attribute its popularity to the rising usage of mobile devices. Voice search assistants are often a main feature of smartphones and devices, making digital assistants relatively accessible. Along with the convenience it brings, voice search also has its share of challenges. The tendency of the machine to mistakenly interpret spoken queries is one of the difficulties a user may face when making a voice command.
New Practices To Implement For Voice Engine Optimization
Search engine optimization (SEO) has largely focused on text-based queries. With the increasing use of voice search, it is bound to bring about changes to best practices for optimizing digital content. For brands that want to stay competitive, this stresses the importance of implementing a competent voice search strategy. The following are tactics that digital marketers can do to implement voice engine optimization (VEO).
Focus on long-tail keywords.
Writing takes time. Before voice search, users tended to type just one to two phrases when searching for something on the web. Voice search takes the effort of writing away as people start to simply tell their devices what they need or are searching for. This makes a good keyword strategy highly important. When you write any piece of content for your brand your business, it is crucial to include long-tail keywords or phrases. Question phrases are also great suggestions as people tend to talk to the digital assistants as if they are humans. Because of this, it is best to incorporate keywords that sound like natural conversations.
Prioritize page speed.
Page speed continues to be a crucial factor in website rankings. Voice search represents a faster, fuss-free way to obtain any information a user needs. A fast-loading website is the perfect complement to this feature. To avoid losing clients and risking a low site ranking, both the desktop and mobile version of your company’s website should prioritize page speed.
Update content to match voice search queries.
Useful and original content will remain king despite technological developments. However, a little change in how you present content will go a long way. In the world of voice search, content that provides brief, yet complete answers to user’s questions are the way to go. Long-form content will always be crucial, but always be sure to optimize your website and content for voice search. One simple way to do this is by adding a page for frequently asked questions (FAQs).
Watch out for updates.
Voice search optimization is a relatively new area of search technology. There is still a lot to learn and discover about it. It is also a fast-growing market, so the best tips and strategies in utilizing it for your business can change at any time. In order to know how to effectively use this technology to market your brand, it is best to keep track of the latest updates and trends.
Birch River Design Group knows the importance of keeping up with the latest in digital marketing and search technologies. Our team is ready and capable to walk you through the process to get your business ready for future developments such as voice search. Request a meeting with us today to discuss how we can help you achieve your business goals!