The Top 8 Digital Marketing Posts of the Week

It may have been a short week with the Memorial Day holiday, but the search engine marketing world was as busy as ever. We have combed through many of the industry’s top blogs and put together a list of the top blogs and articles of the week. Without further ado… 1. 3 Crazy PPC CRO Hacks To Boost Conversion Rates Right Now Search Engine Land consistently delivers industry news and updates, as well as fantastic posts for leaders in SEO, Social Media, Paid Search, and other aspects of digital marketing. In this post, Larry Kim dives into making the most of your PPC campaign. Hint: it’s not bidding to have the top position. 2. 2015 Social Media Marketing Industry Report Social Media Examiner released its 2015 Industry Report this week, and it goes hand in hand with another post from them this week – Social Media Marketing Trends Gaining Traction in 2015: New Research. I’ll ruin the surprise for you: social media is still here to stay; it’s more powerful and more important than ever. Having an effective social strategy in place will pay off in big ways. 3. Four Mobile Dos and Don’ts for SMBs Mobile has been a hot topic in recent years, especially since “Mobile-geddon” in April. Kelly Wrather breaks it down with two dos and two don’ts. “Don’t Be Afraid of Change” is a nice lead in to the next post from Conversion XL, and “Do Put an Emphasis on Quality Content” is a short version to the following post. 4. A Look at Domain Strategy for Businesses with Multiple Store Locations Another do for businesses with multiple locations is to consolidate marketing efforts with a single domain. Link building, content, branding, everything is done best when you focus in on one domain. We still see companies trying to leverage several domains and usually with little success. Our own Dylan Vergurgt breaks it down for you. 5. Why You Should Test on Mobile and Desktop Separately More than ever, users access sites and get to know brands on mobile devices. Conversion rates – ecommerce in particular – don’t match up to desktop users though. ConversionXL breaks down why and how to test differently for the mobile and desktop versions of your site. 6. Why You Need to Start Creating Long, Evergreen Content Today Mobile has had all the attention lately, but Panda is just as relevant as ever. Whether on mobile or desktop, users – especially millennials – are eating up quality content. Visual aids, especially infographics, get a lot of love, but Julia McCoy explains why long, evergreen content is your best friend. 7. 10 Tips for Keeping Your WordPress Site Secure Another hot topic in recent years has been cyber security. Whether it’s protecting your credit card information (*cough* Target *cough) or your website, taking precautionary measures is undeniably important. WordPress is an extremely popular and user-friendly CMS, so Greg Secrist lends a hand with his top tips to your site secure. 8. Is Brand a Google Ranking Factor? – Whiteboard Friday No weekly roundup of search engine marketing blogs would be complete without a WBF from Moz. Rand delivers once again and tackles a tough question. He explores how brand does or does not play into site rankings and overall digital marketing. Give it a watch.   So, there you have it: my top 8 search engine marketing blogs of the week. What would you add to the list?

5 Changes to SERPs via Google’s Knowledge Graph in 2014

Throughout 2014, there have been several changes in the world of SEO — from the always looming algorithm updates that massively affect the way search engine results rank and display, to adjustments to the more dynamic and intelligent features of search engine results pages (SERPs) that we have all come to know and appreciate since the advent of the Hummingbird algorithm, there have been some significant updates in 2014. Penguin 3.0. Panda 4.1. Pigeon. Yet, there have been some significant updates to the way in which search results display that welcome discussion, and can yield insight into the way in which Google and the behavior of its users will continue to evolve in the coming year.

Loco Local Search Results

It’s no secret that Pigeon was a pretty significant–and at times, even unexpected–change in the way in which businesses were forced to compete for local search and visibility on SERPs. What we saw from Pigeon was a concerted effort from Google to really qualify what constitutes a need for a local result. In Moz’s piece detailing advice from experts about Pigeon recovery, it becomes clear that Pigeon did several things all at once, much of which leaned heavily on the implicit data passed to Google during the search query, like location information and the device on which you are searching. The location information is especially important, as we saw Google restrict the geographic radius of local-pack search results, and also use implicit data to deliver local listings that are physically closer to the searcher. For those using explicit geographic information as part of their search strategy, this was a bit of a rude awakening as Google also restricted the types of queries and associated vocabulary that generated local listings, and presumably leaned heavily on user data to adjust the types of industries that see local listings rather than strictly organic search results. For example, searching for a restaurant may yield a local pack, while searching for available local real estate may not.

Pigeon was far from a picnic, though generally didn’t disrupt things too much. Search Engine Land even suggested that the best thing to do about Pigeon was generally to stay the course. However, this ushered in a larger conversation about the way in which Google was looking to change local results as a whole. Leveraging the Knowledge Graph, Google also looked at shifting ways to display local results in SERPs. The carousel is now being replaced by answer boxes that feature the same information, providing a more intuitive user experience and illuminating Google’s shifting point of view on the carousel’s UX.

 

A third major shift in local results was the formal introduction of the now re-named Google My Business, which was no small feat; Google Local, and the host of other names for local business results are now populated by Google My Business, entities that tie a businesses local platform’s local, social, brand sentiment, and content all together via Maps and Google+. This was a significant launch for Google, and should provide some significant advantages to ensuring we optimize local search.

Farewell to Freebase

Google’s knowledge graph continues to help illustrate some of the most sought after information for searchers directly on the SERP itself. While earlier iterations of its Knowledge Graph caused dips in organic traffic, robbing traffic to individual sites by quickly answering the user’s question from the search result, new iterations of the Knowledge Graph encourage further exploration and more detail than ever before. From answer boxes to extended data and related searches, Google’s commitment to making their SERPs smarter and more user-friendly remains steadfast.

Much of Google’s understanding about how particular entities are related to one another comes from Freebase, an open-source database that was heavily moderated and one to which many users continue to contribute. However, Google is moving its source of information and the structured data used to establish relationships from one entity to the next to Wikimedia’s Wikidata, and eventually phasing out the Freebase API. It’s unclear to see how this will affect how SERPs display information within the Knowledge Graph, but any time there are major shifts in open-source platforms, users can expect to see at least some variance with the ways in which new users behave.

Smarter Search Results Using In-Depth Answer Boxes

As Google gets smarter, users naturally expect a smarter search, and their engineers seem to have been hard at work preparing to deliver just that. An example of this that’s certainly been around for a while is the way in which Google displays definitions. Consider the following:

Leaning more heavily on structured data and relationships, Google is able to create a box that succinctly defines the word, yet looks far beyond the word’s definition into the etymology, history, and root of the word. Similarly, these extended relationships are appearing more frequently in answer boxes, including showing song lyrics that link directly to Google Play.

Updating Display

Google’s commitment to improving user experience caused two small, albeit significant, changes to the way in which they display certain types of search results. The search results now displaying an Answer Box or Carousel now contain breadcrumb navigations for secondary questions.

In Search Engine Land’s piece outlining this new feature, they use an example of a search query like [michael jordans children]. The resulting SERP has photos of his children in the carousel, and a bread crumbs for searches specific to Michael Jordan. This helps provide a better user experience for users seeking to understand the relationship between, people, places, and things of interest.

Similarly, Google worked to deliver the highest quality content to users no matter what device they were using. There are now small clues indicating when a site may be appropriate for a user to visit on a mobile device, which is a fantastic way to pre-qualify a site’s ability to compete. As user experience will always remain a sustainable ranking factor, Attaining these visits on the right device is paramount to keeping them there!

In a seemingly insignificant switch, Google started labeling search results with “Mobile-friendly” or in some instances, included an icon representing a mobile phone for mobile sites. This clearly shows the importance of having a seamless UX no matter what device a user may be using to access your site.

 

More than a Meta Description

The final thing I wanted to look at that delves into how Google is using structured data, the Knowledge Graph, and relationships between entities to better present data to the world is looking at the evolving structured snippets that appear at the bottom of search results. SERPs now display more structured data underneath each meta description, highlighting the importance of structured data and rich snippets to help better identify your business and corresponding information.

Google’s changes to the way in which data is presented on SERPs are significant, and definitely illustrate a commitment to structured data all based on an improved UX. This is by no means a comprehensive list, but just a short look at how relationships and entities are better infiltrating Google’s ability to address topics rather than just keyword-based queries. We are eager to see how these changes continue to evolve in the coming year!

 

Ratings vs. Rankings

Managing your customer reviews is a significant part of your marketing campaign. What are you doing to ensure customer satisfaction ? For some time now, we have been noticing the overwhelming correlation with online reviews on websites such as Yelp and Google+, and keyword rankings. Businesses that have acquired low ratings and reviews are having trouble ranking in the top positions of Google. This is becoming one of the most important things to manage, as a business owner. Just to give you an idea of the weight of these things, “Yelp Reviews” gets searched 60,500 times monthly and, “Google Reviews” gets searched 201,000 times monthly. Online reviews are becoming more important to the consumer than ever before. I recently had a client who was achieving strong keyword rankings, but not TOP keyword rankings. Upon further investigation, I determined that out of their 54 reviews on Yelp, they had between 1 and 3 star ratings. Clearly, this is a sign that they aren’t holding up their end of the deal to provide exceptional customer service. Why do I care how they treat their customers, you ask? No, it’s not because I am huge advocate of karma, although I certainly am! It’s because Google knows! They know and they aren’t going to rank websites in the top positions of their search engine if customer feedback states that they are sub-par. Why would they want to promote a business that is sure to disappoint? It makes them, as a search engine, look bad. Ok, so this seems very basic, right? Provide an honest service, be sure that your customer service is out of this world, and your product goes above and beyond what the customer could ever imagine. What happens when you are doing everything in your power to go above and beyond for a customer, and it simply isn’t enough and they decide to write a bad review? Although you might want to throw a dart at their head, it’s better to kill ‘em with kindness. Respond to their review with a polite, “I’m so sorry you had a less-than-pleasant experience. I would love to make things better by buying you a pony”. Don’t have money for a pony? Come up with SOMETHING! Customers just want to feel that they are heard, and if your respond with kindness, you will find that many times they will go back and change their negative review. In closing, it is necessary for you to take an active role in your reputation management. Letting bad reviews sit is, not only, going to hurt you on review sites like Yelp.com and Google+, but it is going to hurt your overall web presence. Be kind and understanding when you respond to unkind reviews and you will maintain top positioning in Google. Remember, you can catch more flies with honey, Honey! 😉 Jori Stevian is an Account Manager at SEOhaus. If you would like to stay up-to-date on all of the latest SEO industry news and tips, you can subscribe to our blog here. Thanks for reading the SEOhaus blog!