Considering Google AMP for SEO? Why Accelerated Mobile Pages Is Not the Speed Solution for Every Business

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Considering Google AMP for SEO? Why Accelerated Mobile Pages Is Not the Speed Solution for Every Business was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Google is pushing AMP hard right now.

“At State of Search in Dallas, Gary Illyes from Google revealed what the next big thing for 2016 would be, and it is AMP, also known as Accelerated Mobile Pages. And he said they will be pushing it aggressively in 2016.” —Jennifer Slegg, TheSEMPost.com (with emphasis added)

Typically, when Google says “this is important and you should do this,” the SEO community jumps to it – especially with today’s focus on mobile SEO.

But AMP is NOT for everyone. Let’s be clear on who AMP is for and the limitations it poses to every other business.

Google AMP for SEO

What Is Google AMP?

Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages Project (AMP) is an open source project geared to enable publishers to load articles instantly for mobile readers.

AMP’s lightning fast loading of publisher content on a mobile device is accomplished by:

  1. Pre-rendering the content while limiting the use of JavaScript that publisher sites can use, and
  2. Caching content so Google doesn’t have to fetch page content from the publisher’s server.

An AMP report was just added to Google Search Console to gain visibility for the initiative among webmasters.

AMP Is Google’s Answer to Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News

AMP is a response to search traffic getting left out of the mobile conversation. Mobile users are used to the fast-loading content experience like that delivered by Facebook Instant Articles and Apple News. Those platforms often exclude the ability to embed advertisements, however, an issue that Google is keen on solving.

With Instant Articles, publishers’ content on Facebook loads really quickly because all those pages are prerendered. You click and it’s there. People are getting used to that experience, but Google obviously doesn’t have control over the speed of a publisher’s page load from the SERP, and it’s very important for them to make sure that people are still using Google and visiting some of the more than 2 million websites that are part of Google’s Display Network. So when this SERP click leads to a site that’s incredibly slow and gives a bad user experience, it’s almost like people are going to associate that poor experience with Google.

With AMP, publishers have a solution for speedy loading content served to searchers that doesn’t exclude Google’s advertisements.

AMP Is Google’s Answer to Ad Blockers

AMP is also a response to the proliferation of ad blockers. Ad blockers are a serious problem for Google AdSense and the publishers that serve AdSense ads. Neither Google nor publishers make money on ads when web users block ads. According to the latest study, 16% of U.S. Internet users block ads. The latest Apple mobile operating system, iOS 9, supports ad blocking in the Safari browser.

Apple’s move to block ads including AdSense is intended to speed up the Internet on phones, and it leaves Google out in the cold. AMP is a response to this. Google knows it needs to give mobile web users a fast experience or they’re going to stop trusting the search engine as a content discovery engine.

As ad blockers are a symptom of a degraded mobile user experience caused by advertising, it’s no coincidence that Google reps first announced the AMP project to the assembled webmaster/publisher community at the Google AdSense keynote at Pubcon Las Vegas last October. Just recently, Google also announced that they have expanded their support of third-party ad platforms, making the ability to place ads on AMP pages a little easier.

What Google AMP Is Not

A fast experience doesn’t always equate to usability or a great user experience. Of course we know that a website should be fast. You’ll lose a visitor if the visible area loads in more than 300 milliseconds, by some reports. AMP won’t automatically turn off visitors’ ad blockers, but Google hopes AMP will go a long way toward making ad blockers unnecessary as users don’t notice a delay for ads to be displayed.

Who Is Google AMP For?

Google AMP is for publisher websites. Why just publishers? Because websites with goals other than serving content and ads will find the limitations of AMP too restrictive.

From ampproject.org: “AMP HTML is HTML with some restrictions for reliable performance and some extensions for building rich content beyond basic HTML. The AMP JS library ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages. The AMP CDN (optionally) delivers the AMP HTML pages.”

In practice, JavaScript is basically not allowed except for a JavaScript library Google provides to act as a container for content. This means web forms, an important lead generation tool, are out. CSS needs to be streamlined and some can’t be used, and available HTML is limited.

Site Speed for SEO Beyond AMP

Luckily, there are a million ways to make sites faster other than to strip them down of all JavaScript and interactive HTML. Bruce made an analogy on a recent episode of our SEM Synergy podcast. If you were to go out and buy a car, you could actually ask for a car without power steering because it takes gas. You could forgo air conditioning because it takes gas. And the concept of a convertible might seem like a bad idea because of wind resistance.

AMP in its current form neuters a site of engagement and interactive site elements, including forms and shopping carts. Many sites have become dependent upon the engagement objects and features that are stripped out for AMP.

So are we recommending AMP to our search engine optimization clients? Not unless you’re a news publisher on an ad revenue model. If this is your business, you can start with AMP here. Otherwise, SEOs have a number of effective tools for cranking up site speed, which you can start with here:

mobile-seo-and-design-checklist

February 5th 2016 Google, SEO

What Should You Expect from a Search Engine?

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What Should You Expect from a Search Engine? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Maybe the question is, why should you expect anything?

Bing-Duane-ForresterThe truth is, inside an engine is a busy place. I spent nearly six years representing a search engine to the SEO industry and I can tell you that, contrary to many search engine optimization conspiracy theories, neither Bing nor Google have designs on harming businesses. Both do have profit motives, however, just like you do.

Updates happen because … pause for drum roll … something undesirable is happening!

What Motivates Search Engines?

Research suggests that WordPress powers about 25 percent of the World Wide Web’s sites. More websites use WordPress, but of those using it, they are not “higher traffic” sites. OK, that makes sense — WordPress powers blogs mostly, we can loosely infer.

Let’s say, for example, someone made a WordPress plugin that managed ads across one quarter of the Internet. And that WordPress plugin placed the ads above the content on a page. Obviously, on an individual level, this is a recipe for increased revenue. But taken across the entirety of the user base, if even a fraction of WordPress sites adopt the plugin, it results in a disturbing trend.

If the engine is judged by users on the quality of the experience the user sees after clicking through on a result, then this places the engine in a difficult position. Do you police for quality or do you “throw it over the fence” and declare it not your problem?

But see, it is the engine’s problem.

Google faces ever-growing competition. Competition that’s gaining, albeit slowly, and in some ways seeking to change the game. Bing faces a similar problem on the other side of the coin — satisfying searchers enough to convert them.

In either case, the common ground is making searchers happy.

Reread that, as it’s a critical and often-forgotten point. The engines do not exist to satisfy a business. They exist to satisfy searchers. More subtly, they exist to develop revenue, to source data, and to feed that data into inter-related systems across the companies operating them.

When Do Search Engines Make Updates?

So when someone builds a popular plugin for WordPress, again, and it shows a trend that goes against the goal of happy searchers, the engines take an action. In this example, Google gave us the Page Layout Algorithm back in 2012. On Bing’s side of the graph, while the updates aren’t named or publicized, they happen. Indeed, they happen frequently. So frequently, in fact, that it simply doesn’t make sense to announce everything.

It’s important to note here that, in many cases, updates are not “to fix something that’s broken.”

Updates are a move from one state to a more advanced state.

all-about-usefulness-today-and-moving-forward-duane-forrester-400Maybe that’s a matter of perspective, but if you’re still asking me today about links, I’d say your perspective is wrong. Things change over time, and with thousands of smart people seeking to improve a product daily, things tend to keep moving. At the scale those projects work at, it can take time to manifest, but I’ve seen first-hand the changes at Bing.

If you think of Google as being a highway, every now and then you encounter a speed bump. It can be jarring. Everything is smooth, then suddenly WHAM! you hit an update. Bing, on the other hand, takes a different approach. The road surface at Bing is slightly less smooth overall, but once you’re up to speed, you don’t notice the slight surface irregularities. It feels smoother. Doesn’t mean things aren’t going on, just that your perception is it’s smoother.

This can help explain why ranking is harder in Bing at times, and more stable in the long run. And on that note, let the corrective comments, refuting examples and hate email start! I’m certain there are more than a few examples to rebut what I just suggested. But again, scale. When looked at not just across the sample set that even the biggest agency works with, the actual scale the engine operates at is enormously larger. In that context — the context of the engines — the statement makes sense.

How Do Engines Feel about SEO?

Does this all mean the engines dislike SEOs, their tactics and businesses doing this work?

Nope. They readily recognize the improvements made by the work. The flip side is that the engines have to protect against gaming. This is why engines always take an arms-length approach.

The job of representing a search engine to the industry is not an easy one. I know. I was that face for Bing for about six years. Matt, Gary, John, Maile, now Christi Olson at Bing have all had to balance carefully. As individuals, all are approachable, helpful and knowledgeable. But that doesn’t mean any of us can give away secrets, or share things the engine wants kept secret. This is obvious, yet countless times at conferences the impossible is asked for, then derision heaped on socially when answers are not forthcoming.

Gary Illyes and Duane Forrester

As a representative of Bing to the SEO industry, Duane Forrester (right) answered questions posed by SEOs on stage with Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes (left) at SMX West 2015.

The reality in some cases is that due to the structure of the product, it’s completely conceivable the person you’re speaking to may not have access to the information, or that something changed since the last time they connected internally on the topic. Bing has a few thousand employees working on search. Google has, what, maybe 20,000 applied to search in some degree? I grew up in a city of 30,000 people, so asking me to know all the information and be current is like asking me to know the details on two-thirds of a city. Unrealistic. Even at Bing’s smaller scale, it’s an unrealistic expectation.

The bottom line here is there will always exist a push/pull reality. Engines want the improvements that optimization brings to a product, but they cannot be trusting to the point where results suffer. And in a space where searchers are growing ever savvier, ever clearer about expected results, it might seem like changes being made are punitive to businesses. But the reality is they are designed to appeal to searchers.

How Can Businesses Appeal to Search Engines?

Now, what might happen if your efforts were all geared towards improving the users’ experience, meeting their expectations and providing the highest quality result for their need? Do you think that might be something the engine would want to showcase?

So what should you expect from a search engine?

Exactly what they’ve given us for years. A lack of in-depth answers in some instances, rapid change and advancement, a searcher-first mentality, and a drive for revenue. We all know these are the ground rules. So why is it so hard for businesses to adapt?

There’s a better approach for businesses to take when it comes to SEO and rankings.

Don’t cater to search engines. Cater to users. Don’t settle for search engine optimization. Think bigger — user experience optimization. Internet marketing is SEO, PPC, content development, social media marketing, website design and conversion optimization. Businesses are born to serve customers. Get back to your roots with your Internet marketing.

February 3rd 2016 bing, Google, SEO

How to Rank Twitter Bios for More Leads

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Your Twitter Bio is just like any other page: the number and quality of the incoming links affects the PA (Page Authority). Although outgoing links from Twitter are nofollowed, increasing your PA and influence is valuable for making your tweets and bio rank in the serps.

If your business is in a particular competitive niche or you have a new site, ranking your Twitter bio and using it to drive potential buyers to your own site can be faster and easier.

Why Would You Want Your Twitter Bio to Rank?

Ranking your Twitter bio is primarily to get customers, of course! Having a Twitter bio on the home page of Google is very possible as you can see in this example for an SEO agency whose Twitter account @topcharlotteseo was third for the phrase “Top Charlotte SEO”. SEOing obviously can rank Twitter bios.

How to Rank Twitter Bios for More Leads

If your site is new or does not have any authority yet, gaining visibility through ranking your Twitter (or other social network bios) could be faster. As with any other page you want to rank, how many incoming links you have and the PA of your Twitter bio affect where it ranks.

The Twitter account in this example has 252 incoming links and a PA of 59. Typically, the Twitter account with the most influence for the desired keywords ranks highest.

According to SEO consultant and trainer Adrienne DeVita of Digital Media Cube:

“All of Google’s algorithm ranking factors apply to Twitter rankings, too. For example, Google bots automatically see the bounce rate if a searcher hits “back” immediately; the interaction on the landing page it links to; the keyword relation to the search; the page authority on that page; and the click through rate from their SERPs. Strive to use your phrase as the first words in your bio and tweets whenever it makes sense grammatically for the person searching – and make sure your phrase is within the first 90 characters. Put any secondary phrase you wish to rank for in characters 91-115.”

When your Twitter bio or your tweets rank, you can use them for lead generation. There are now tools that search for Twitter users and reach out to them to start interactions. The best I know for automating lead generation on Twitter is Socedo.

How to Automatically Capture Leads on Twitter

As you can see in the screen capture below, you can choose your target audience by checking their profession or interest. Once it identifies someone in your audience, it favorites one of their tweets automatically. Then an hour later it follows that user.

Twitter Lead Generation Using Socedo Audience Targeting

After the user follows back, Socedo can (depending on how you have your account configured), either:

  • Start a conversation by sending them a personalized tweet
  • Send them a message and link to your lead capture landing page

Your sales team then decides whether to follow-up (by approving them), or not follow up (by declining within Socedo) or set lower priority to leads they may wish to engage at a later time.

Analytics built into Socedo allows you to modify your targeting and better qualify your leads based on your results. This video shows how it works:

If you want more details on how Socedo works, read How to Generate and Close Social Leads On Twitter. Now that you realize how important Twitter can be for your business, let’s talk about how to keep track of your conversations there.

Business Dashboards for Tracking Twitter

Remembering to keep on top of what you’re doing on Twitter in addition to everything else related to your SEO rankings is a challenge. Fortunately, there is a simple solution: Cyfe. Kristi Hines wrote a comprehensive blog post with a screen capture showing 15 of their widgets. Check out that link for all the widgets that already exist for Twitter (and Klout, LinkedIn, Facebook, Google Plus, Instagram, and YouTube).

Cyfe offers 8 Twitter widgets plus Twitter search plus Klout and bit.ly (to see clicks on your shortened links). Here is an example layout from my Cyfe account showing the Twitter overview, Moz numbers, Twitter tweets, Twitter lists, bit.ly stats, Twitter search results for the search “growmap”, Twitter mentions, Twitter favorites and SERPs – a new widget I’m testing that hasn’t populated yet.

How to SEO Twitter Bios to Rank Your Business - Cyfe Twitter Widgets Dashboard Views

Adding a widget is as easy as clicking on what you want and doing some very simple configuration. You can resize and move each window to wherever you want it. When you mouse over graphs, additional information appears in a pop-up. These are only a few of the massive number of widgets available for other social networks, analytics, advertising, sales and finance and much more.

The image below shows details for a specific date showing tweets, following, listed (in Twitter lists), and Favorites. This data is not live so there is a delay of about 24 hours. (You can see another example in Kristi’s post linked above.)

Cyfe Twitter Widget Overview / SEO Twitter

Should You Bother to Rank Tweets?

We focused on Twitter bios rather than tweets first because Google indexes only 7-9% of all tweets according to this comprehensive study by StoneTemple on how tweets could impact your SEO and what tweets Google is likely to index. It includes:

  • Data on 133K+ tweets to see how Google indexed them
  • Of 138,635 tweets only 7.4% were indexed!
  • Twitter users with more followers have more indexed tweets (21% > 1 million; 10% for 10k-1M; 4% under 10k followers)
  • Images and/or hashtags seem to “increase your chances of getting indexed, as the percentages are significantly higher than the average overall percentage of 7.4%.”
  • “26% of the tweets with an inbound link from sites other than Twitter got indexed. That is nearly 4 times as much as the overall average rate of indexation.

See that post for more details on their study. As you can see, getting your Twitter bio to rank – and keep ranking – is far more likely than getting any particular tweet indexed – much less getting it to stay on page one in the search engines.

Twitter Best Practices

Some of us have been power users of Twitter since they started. I’ve gathered everything you need to know about Twitter into one post called Twitter Best Practices. From the basics for beginners to advanced strategies, everything important to know is in or linked from that post.

Have questions? Leave me a comment and I’m happy to assist.

Twitter Best Practices from Julie Weishaar

The post How to Rank Twitter Bios for More Leads appeared first on SEO Chat.

January 30th 2016 SEO

Expert Interview with SEO and SEJ Contributor Ben Oren

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ben-orenWith over 10 years of experience handling SEO at the highest levels, Ben Oren has seen it all and done it all, twice. He has worked in medium and large agencies managing the internet marketing strategy for super brands like WSOP, Babylon and more, which he now combines with consulting and strategy for various medium and large clients after co-founding an internet marketing agency. Ben has also tackled marketing under start-up conditions, as he is the co-founder and CEO of an innovative e-commerce app.

Ben has truly tackled online marketing from every angle – conversion, SEO, PPC, E-mail, UX, content, and more – and the insights he’s accumulated have made him a regular contributor at leading industry publication Search Engine Journal.

Q: Over the years, you’ve worn many ‘hats’ and fulfilled different functions for different clients: in-house, agency, consultant, auditor. How do you feel that has contributed to your professional development?

A: I believe anyone interested in ascending to the top of their field today can’t settle for only one type of working experience, be it in-house, agency, consultant or other.

Personally, this variation in work type has greatly contributed to my professional development, and particularly, enhanced my ability to adopt a broad perspective when assessing problems and ways to tackle them.

There are usually two main variables to consider when faced with a business dilemma: the first is the industry itself, which in our case is internet marketing. It’s dynamic by nature and constantly evolving, meaning that there are countless solutions to every problem.

The second variable is the client’s niche, and everything having to do with their positioning within it – company size, marketing budget, online readiness, online state (penalties, priors, filters, etc).

Every single stakeholder has their own interests, limitations and special considerations when facing a business decision, and having an in-depth understanding of these can only help communicate and strategize better to reach an optimal solution.

Q: As an experienced marketer and entrepreneur, what is the greatest misconception you’ve come across among start-ups trying to use social media in order to ‘break’?

A: I can actually think of two basic assumptions which are misconceptions that lead start-up heads to choose social media marketing.

The first wrong assumption is that it’s free, and if we invest efforts into building a large audience then it’ll be free to advertise to said audience whenever we’d like to push our product and company. The second wrong assumption is that building a large, loyal follower base is relatively easy.

To address the first assumption, social media marketing is far from free, both when considering (1) the cost of producing high quality content by a dedicated content professional, and (2) the drastic downsizing of organic post reach in favor of paid advertising, carried out by social networks such as Facebook.

The current trend is to move towards a paid model, whether it’s by impressions or clicks – meaning that posts on a business page will only reach a very small percentage of that page’s followers unless you pay – ending up in a miniscule chance for a positive ROI.

As to the second assumption, a truly engaged, sizable, real audience that’s interested in a product or service rather than only having followed in exchange for a one-time offer, is challenging to achieve. Community growth takes time, resources, clear strategy and long term commitment towards gaining potential customers through social media, and retaining existing customers through social media. It necessitates a level of social media presence that not every start up realizes: real time response, professional outputs and engaging storytelling.

Unfortunately, time and again I see start-ups entrust no-one with the task of maintaining social accounts, ending up with deserted business pages that never took off and serve as a sad, outdated reminder. In the worst examples, the page is also flooded with questions and complaints that go unanswered, several damaging reputation.

In short, my recommendation to any start up interested in using social media is to build a sustainable strategy and be realistic about what it entails in terms of budget and man-power. Social media is a tremendous, powerful vehicle with many advantages, but for those to materialize it takes serious performance, patience and persistence.

Q: In your early days in the online marketing industry, you mainly handled SEO, but now you’ve branched out into content, user experience, conversion and a well-rounded understanding of marketing for large organizations. Do you believe that SEO’s future is questionable, and is that why you’ve distanced yourself from it?

A: I didn’t leave or distance myself from SEO. SEO is here to stay and will be around for a very long time; it’s just changing and developing, requiring us to adapt our methods and practices accordingly.

In my career development, I chose to expand my knowledge by tackling different aspects of online marketing, never neglecting SEO. I don’t think the future of SEO is questionable, but I don’t think it’s necessary or appropriate for any business.

SEO has undergone a transformation both in the way it’s performed and in the way it’s perceived. It is no longer regarded as a stand-alone channel, but rather as an integral part of a holistic marketing strategy. As a result, an SEO professional needs to be considerably knowledgeable about content strategy and social media, otherwise effectiveness will be hard to assess or measure.

Another component that’s constantly changing is Google’s algorithm, growing more and more sophisticated with every passing day. Links don’t behave as they used to, relevance is no longer measured the way it was, and engagement level holds greater weight, leading to the marginalization of spammy practices. If one fails to keep up regularly with all of these changes, it can be impossible to move forward and understand exactly what works and how.

Q: You’ve started and managed a start-up; do you have any tips to share from your experience, particularly regarding marketing a start-up?

A: Co-founding and managing my start-up, I encountered three main limitations:

  1. having a limited budget
  2. limited man-power
  3. limited time

On one hand, you’re constantly feeling like you’re behind and that, any moment now, you’ll stumble on an article about an unknown competitor doing exactly what you’re trying to do, but better. On the other hand, you lack the budget and financial justification to recruit more personnel in order to accelerate development. These two lead to a shortage in time – there’s never enough time when working on a start-up!

This is shared by all start-ups I know, and it often leads to the irresponsible misplacement of valuable funds in dubious marketing shortcuts publicized in who-knows-where. The combination of lacking real marketing know-how and not investing in expert guidance, is a sure way to throw time and money down the drain without any results to speak of. Therefore, my best recommendation is to hire a marketing consultant – someone with rich, varied experience and results under his/her belt – to guide the existing team on the best uses for their time and money.

Marketing efforts will still be carried out by the existing team members; however, they’ll be monitored by a professional and form part of a strategy that’s been tailored to the start-up’s niche, state, budget and competitors. Sure, it’s an expense, but it yields results and, more importantly, it can be thought of as an investment: empowering the existing team to handle marketing and slowly decrease dependency on external consultants and agencies.

Q: Outside of your experience with start-ups and small businesses, you’ve handled online marketing endeavors for enormous, international corporations such as WSOP, Caesar’s Entertainment, Babylon, Bouclair Home and more. Please highlight the professional methodological and executional differences when working with both types of companies.

A: Methodologically, surprisingly enough, there isn’t much of a difference. The difference lies in the ability to execute more advanced methods, and the subsequent quality of said execution. Larger companies have a clear advantage thanks to their budgets and recognizability, lending them greater possibilities that small and medium businesses don’t have access to.

For instance, if a large, leading corporation is interested in a partnership with a well known figure, its clout and deep pockets mean it’s likely it will come to fruition as long as there’s agreement between both sides. Small and medium businesses often don’t have the means or access necessary to even garner initial interest.

On the other hand, small businesses benefit greatly from a shorter decision process and a quicker, more efficient turnaround time. Corporations often struggle with miscommunication between different departments, sometimes yielding mediocre execution for otherwise brilliant campaigns. For example, the content and marketing department may not have direct, ongoing communication with the sales department, ending with a marketing campaign that isn’t optimally geared towards the company’s actual end clients.

The post Expert Interview with SEO and SEJ Contributor Ben Oren appeared first on SEO Chat.

January 23rd 2016 Online Marketing, SEO

Modern Internet Marketing Strategies Video: ’90s SEOs Ammon Johns, Bill Slawski, Bruce Clay, Christine Churchill & Kim Krause Berg

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Modern Internet Marketing Strategies Video: ’90s SEOs Ammon Johns, Bill Slawski, Bruce Clay, Christine Churchill & Kim Krause Berg was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

Some fads are retired with great celebration. Crimped hair, No Fear T-shirts, and neon windbreakers buried in the back of the closet since 1999 – probably best if they’re never heard from again.

But some of the search marketing industry’s biggest stars were made in the ’90s and are still trending. On January 1, 2016, Bruce Clay, Inc. marked its  20th anniversary – 20 years that Bruce Clay has been steering the digital marketing industry with thought leadership, and proof that some 90s inventions are classics.

Bruce Clay, president of Bruce Clay, Inc., is one of a rare breed of digital marketers that got started in SEO in the 90s. Others include Stoney deGeyter of Pole Position Marketing, Christine Churchill of Key Relevance, Terry Van Horne of International Website Builders, and Kim Krause Berg of Creative Vision Web Consulting. Beyond their industry veteran status, there’s something else they have in common – and that’s valuable digital marketing wisdom gained from decades of perspective and experience.

This group came together as guests of Ammon Johns (of Ammon Johns and Company) and Bill Slawski (of SEO by the Sea) in Bill and Ammon’s Jumbo January Bogus Hangout. John Mueller, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, and Kristin Drysdale were there too, rounding out the reasons that this conversation was one to watch.

Topics explored in this hangout included:

Jump to topics by clicking the links above or read on for all the highlights.

Knowledge Graph and Direct Answers SEO

Bill Slawski shared that a Knowledge Graph Search API was released a few weeks ago. Since then, Slawski has been working on a new Google+ group for those who want to stay in the know about Google’s Knowledge Graph.

Can and should SEOs optimize for the Knowledge Graph?

It’s a topic that’s been discussed, and Bill thinks SEOs should optimize for Knowledge Graph and direct answer results. Since the new API lets marketers see searches that are connected to each other, Slawski says it’s a “good time to get involved” in direct answer optimization. Slawski suspects that Knowledge Graph optimization is overlooked by a lot of SEO professionals and adds that the Knowledge Graph shows information that perhaps isn’t thought of as SEO but should be.

Usability and User Testing

While most SEOs understand the importance of user testing and site audits, experience goes a long way to teach an SEO exactly when these two practices are needed the most. In Christine Churchill’s experience, sites that undergo redesigns often have the most SEO-related problems to fix.

About to undergo a redesign? You will need more than a webmaster to pull it off. The transition period after a redesign launch will be as smooth as possible with proper audits and testing beforehand. After a launch, Churchill advises testing to ensure the new design “answers the mail” and is easy to use.

Great webmasters, digital marketers, and SEOs consider usability, but it’s still not given proper credit or understood well by clients and business owners. In fact, the hangout participants revealed that for budget reasons, some SEOs even bury usability services in the scope of a different marketing field –  conversion analysis. Churchill believes usability doesn’t get anywhere near the budget segment that it should, which is a problem because it can make a big difference.

How does usability optimization and user testing help with digital marketing? DeGeyter suggests usability optimization does wonders for pure web marketing and helping a business grow. After noticing site issues, he usually runs user tests and provides his client with actionable recommendations that when implemented end up helping with conversions.

Also important to note about usability improvements: DeGeyter said that even if clients don’t get  number one rankings, usability improvements result in conversion increases and revenue – which makes them happy. He says clients don’t always know what they want. “We give them what they want, but you give them what they really need, and that’s going to satisfy them.”

Accessibility, User Intent, and Data Driven Decisions

It’s no surprise that Kim Krause Berg’s SEO focus for 2016 involves improving accessibility and better understanding user intent. She’s a user-experience guru with a company that specializes in both accessibility and user intent along with SEO.

This year Berg is also paying more attention to data-driven decisions for design and marketing work. Worth noting, Berg believes that marketers aren’t preparing for the aging Internet using populations in countries like Europe and America. She believes marketers have to be thinking about how older generations search.

About Mobile

These days it’s hard to have an SEO hangout without talking about mobile. Kim Krause Berg expressed that mobile is “throwing a wrench into everything.”

Ammon Johns suggests that advertising is adapting to users’ multi-screen browsing behavior, but recognizes that cross-channel attribution is still a big SEO challenge.

Bruce Clay had a lot to share on the topic of mobile SEO and mobile advertising. Google doesn’t make money from organic results, he noted. Google makes money on ads. According to Bruce, Google’s focused on making its ad serving systems faster and improving technologies that makes Google money. He said Google can control the format of results on the mobile browser better:

“The reason Google is so supportive of mobile right now is that this is a new environment where they can set the standard saying one organic, three pay per click … If you’re not at the very top you’re not going to show up.”

Bruce Clay believes mobile and local will be the focus of Google, and therefore SEOs, for the next few years.

“Just as a data point, I was around where there were mainframes and in walks the first PC. It’s taken almost 40 years for technology to get to the point where PC is being replaced by mobile.” Bruce views this progression as a natural evolution, not a revolution. He believes that SEOs need to adjust and be where the people are going to be.

(Bruce’s most recent 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions also reveal some other thoughts he has about where mobile is headed.) 

“Everybody has a mobile device. Many people have two mobile devices or more. I think that in a year, that is where everybody lives, and if we as an industry don’t adapt to that, then we’re going to … be left behind.”

Voice Search

Bruce Clay suggests that one of the biggest current challenges for SEOs is adapting to voice search. “Voice search is going to change what people do with a mobile device to the point where perhaps there won’t even be organic results on ‘those devices,’ and that could really change our entire platform going forward.”

Clay said that organic results will always be there. “If the info you’re after won’t conveniently fit on half a page, Google won’t answer.”

“We’re going to see Google go not just mobile, but mobile and local simultaneously, and those are going to change the dynamics of national companies. They’re going to change the dynamics of mobile, all sorts of things are going to be upset, if Google believes for that query you wanted a local presence. They’re going to give local presence precedence and the rest of organic will just have to catch up.”

On Content for Mobile Users

Terry Van Horne added another perspective to the mobile discussion by sharing his suspicions that mobile will not change things as much as people say it will. He said content will always move with the devices, and that marketers should only make one set of content that works across devices. He believes it will be too expensive to run double platforms. For example, responsive design works for mobile, and he thinks SEOs will come up with a similar solution for new devices.

Future Technology and Marketing

“You can’t invent new technology without worrying about where it goes,” said Ammon Johns during the hangout.

Artificial Intelligence

Beyond mobile and local SEO, Clay believes that SEOs will have no other choice but to figure out how to integrate AI. He thinks it will take a couple of years, but sees a future with holograms and 3D printers everywhere.

“If what we want to do as an industry is be where the industry is going, I think we have to understand the technology leaps, I think we have to understand the usability leaps, those are going to be evolutionary.”

Ammon Johns suggested that technology is a good number years off from a proper AI.

(This topic is echoed by Duane Forrester in his 2016 Digital Marketing Predictions, a must read.)

How far off is next-level artificial intelligence? Kim Krause Berg said that her Android phone’s AI is good at bad jokes. So, maybe quite a ways off.

Self-Driving Cars

According to Clay, “The primary reason I think Google wants to have cars that drive themselves is because while the car is driving itself you’re going to be seeing Google ads all over the dashboard. You’re a captive market and you can’t get away from the Google ads and the Google car. I see that as being the way the world works.”

Learning from the ’90s

It’s been solid decades since the SEOs featured in Bill and Ammon’s Jumbo January Bogus Hangout started their careers, and time has proven they have what it takes to stay in the game. Paying attention to the strategies they implemented in the past, what they’re working on today, and what they plan to do in the near future might just keep you in the race!

January 22nd 2016 SEO

Choices in How to SEO a Multilingual Site

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While growing businesses by expanding to additional countries or languages is a great way to increase your income, it is more complicated than you may realize – especially when it comes to SEO.

This site for a southern California criminal defense attorney has content written in English using Google Translate to create pages translated into Spanish. Notice the choice in the top right corner for English – Espanol. Click on the buttons and you’ll see that the pages change between English and Spanish.

In this example, a separate site is not needed because both languages are targeted at ranking in the U.S. If this attorney had a second location in Spain, then ideally he would have a separate domain registered with a country code TLD and hosted in Spain. With locations in two countries, the easiest way to rank is on separate domains.

How much effort is the company willing to invest in ranking in separate countries? Will you register a country specific domain for each language or use languages in directories?

More expense and work is involved with separate domains:

  • Building additional sites
  • Paying to host multiple sites
  • Renewing multiple domains

Even international sites as large as Wikipedia do not necessarily use separate domains. If you look at Wikipedia.org you will see that when you click on a country you are taken to a subdomain that uses the country code as the name of the subdomain. For example:

  • es.wikipedia.org for Spanish
  • de.wikipedia.org for German
  • it.wikipedia.org for Italian

These subdomains use the same letters as country-code domains for Spain (es), Germany (de) and Italy (it), but they use en for English rather than us for U.S. or uk for the U.K.

Read How to do Multilingual SEO for WordPress Sites to get a better idea of your choices. The WordPress multilingual plugin available on that site makes translating and doing SEO for multiple languages much simpler.

How Search Engines Recognize Languages

While search engines can detect languages, it is best to use the <html lang=”xx”> tag to indicate the language a page is in. For more details, read Multilingual Sites and Search Engines: Part 1.

According to that post, “global corporations as a rule have separate sites (and most often separate domains) for the countries they operate in.” While that is the most effective method, it does require more work to create and maintain.

SEOChat Supermod GabrielG suggests you can even “get sophisticated and detect a user’s language, geolocation, or other characteristics and serve the appropriate language site, in case Gooogle doesn’t do that automatically.”

Why Machine Translation is NOT Good Enough

While using Google translation or some other machine translator is the least expensive way to go, these translations are very inaccurate and sometimes impossible to even understand. While there are translation plugins, do not use them unless you just cannot afford a human translator.

Do not sully your brand’s reputation by skimping on content in additional languages. Using human translators is a must. If you do not have someone within your company capable of accurately writing in the language, contract with a company that specializes in language translations for business.

Keep in mind that being able to speak a language does not guarantee a person can write well in it anymore than assuming that everyone who speaks English can become a paid writer or editor.

If you use machine translation, you will end up with major brand reputation issues. See this infographic from Understanding and Avoiding Communication Blunders.

Poor translation communication blunders

Hopefully you now understand why machine translation can never take the place of using the best human translators who are excellent at both translation and content development.

Duplicate Content on Multinational Websites

If the languages involved are totally different (English and German, for example), there is no duplicate content issue. Having the same content on pages written in languages that are closely related – such as UK English versus US English – would definitely create a duplicate content issue.

See the Brick Marketing post Duplicate Content on Multinational Websites for more details about duplicate content. Nick Stamoulis wrote:

“If your site takes a massive hit in visitors and rankings for at least three months (enough time to call it a trend), your site might have been flagged for duplicate content.”

The goal is to SEO a multilingual site so that it will rank in each location. For that, separate sites are best, but even with one site your goal should still be to rank each page if at all possible.

The post Choices in How to SEO a Multilingual Site appeared first on SEO Chat.

January 20th 2016 SEO

What Is UX? Who Owns User Experience Optimization? What You Need to Know About SEO & User Satisfaction from #SEOchat

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What Is UX? Who Owns User Experience Optimization? What You Need to Know About SEO & User Satisfaction from #SEOchat was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

What is UX?

User experience (UX) is the web design and marketing concept concerned with satisfying the user in their every interaction with a brand’s website and products. Attention to UX spans all aspects of digital marketing, including images and videos, design, website architecture and content.

When we hosted #SEOChat last week, we immediately knew what we wanted to talk about: user experience. It’s an integral part of digital marketing, and something we can never pay too much attention to.

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UX + Star Wars = Winning #SEOchat

Digital marketing bellwethers including Duane Forrester, Lisa Buyer, Casie Gillette, Robert Ramirez, Michelle Robbins, Virginia Nussey, Eric Lander, Jason White and Bill Slawski showed up to talk UX. We were also delighted to have Kim Krause Berg — the veritable UX whisperer — join us for the chat.

“I was pleased to see that many SEOs place a high value on user experience for all devices, and that they understood why … I’m thrilled that Bruce Clay, Inc. is educating people on UX,” Berg said post-chat. “UX is HUGE …  it includes empathy for every human, using every device and every software application and every search engine wanting to provide what humans want, in every environment, with an understanding of the limitations of age, bandwidth, Internet availability, use cases and business requirements specific to one’s business or web page intent.”


“#UX = empathy for every human using every device” — @kim_cre8pc
Click To Tweet


Read on for highlights from #SEOchat, or head over to Search Marketing Weekly for a full transcript of the chat pulled together by Lyena Solomon.

UX Defined

Who Owns UX?

Identifying UX Problems

Biggest UX Mistakes

Examples of Brands on TOP of UX

Digital marketers weighed in on who’s doing UX the best … drum roll …

  • The Webby Awards
  • SoulCycle
  • Redbox
  • Apple

Keep Your Visitors Scrolling

Decreasing Load Time

Tips for Creating Video on a Limited Budget

Making Images that Don’t Look Like Stock Photo Garbage #SorryNotSorry


After #SEOchat, Virginia Nussey and I headed over to host a post-chat chat on Blab so SEOs could sound off on anything else involving UX. Check it out below!

Thanks to everyone who joined us at #SEOchat! Join us every Thursday at 10 a.m. PT for another #SEOchat — and if you’re new, check out this article to find out more about #SEOchat and how it can benefit you (like being able to ask a group of experts any question on SEO and getting an answer in real time — for free)!

January 19th 2016 SEO

Is 2016 The Year Bing Takes On Google?

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Bing Gains Ground As Google Loses Browser Contracts

Bing has reached a record-breaking 21% share of the search engine market. Find out what this means in relation to the current market leaders, Google.

Imagine a world where we ‘Bing it’ to get the answer to a burning question rather than ‘Googling it’. 2016 could well be the year that sees this become a reality.

The Rise Of Bing

Bing, the search engine owned by Microsoft, is rapidly gaining ground on Google, who have been the dominant search engine giant for more than a decade.

Bing hasn’t always been a success story. In recent history, the Microsoft search engine was costing the company roughly $1 billion per quarter. There were calls by many to ditch the search engine market altogether. However, Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella saw something in Bing that others did not and committed to investing in the service. His instinct has paid off and Bing is now making a profit of approximately $1 billion per quarter.

It is likely that the increase in profitability has come from the mass release and rollout of Windows 10 and Surface devices, both of which use Bing as their default search engine. Similarly the Windows 10 Mobile and Windows Phone operating systems are also pre-installed to have search results powered by Bing.

The Proof Is In The Stats

The search engine market share statistics speak for themselves. Bing has now reached a 21% share of the search engine market for the first time, whilst Google hangs on to a massive 64%. Google is of course still comfortably in the lead, but the speed at which Bing is increasing their grip on the market is likely to make them uneasy given that search results are Google’s core business.

An honourable mention should also be given to Yahoo who are hanging on to a market share of approximately 12%.

Companies Ditch Google

In January of this year, an enormous ten year contract begins between AOL and Microsoft, which sees AOL introduce Bing as their default search engine. AOL, which is now owned by Verizon had previously been using Google for their search results. Unfortunately, a comparable story occurred last year when Google also lost their contract with Mozilla, who chose to use Yahoo as the default engine in its browser. This was huge news at the time as it represented Google’s largest loss in search engine market share since 2009

Safari Traffic

In addition, there are rumours that Apple Safari, who currently use Google on their iPhone devices, might also be considering going with Yahoo, Bing or even their own in-house program. This would be a significant blow to Google, as reportedly more than half of mobile traffic in the USA comes from Safari, according to data collected in December 2014.

If Google continues on this downward spiral at the same time that Bing are on the up, then it’s only a matter of time before the two shall meet in the middle. However, when it comes to Google, it’s safe to say that they like a challenge and aren’t scared to shake things up. However, the same question was asked last year, and the change was not as dramatic as expected. Watch this space to find out what developments the current search engine market share leader will come up with to hang onto the crown in 2016.

The post Is 2016 The Year Bing Takes On Google? appeared first on SEO Chat.

January 19th 2016 microsoft, SEO

6 Search Marketing Buzzwords You’ll Become Familiar With in 2016

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by Jayson DeMers

Like them or not, buzzwords have their place in every industry. In 2016, search marketers will need to know a handful of buzzwords in order to remain relevant. Some of them you may already know, while others will be completely brand new. Time to start studying!
The Value of Buzzwords
There’s debate in the business community regarding the usefulness and value of buzzwords. Do they make you look stuffy and cliché? Or do they allow you to connect with people on an even playing field?
According to marketer Lindsey Davis, the following statement is an example of bad buzzword usage: “To show our client that we are thought leaders, let’s think out of the box and bring some gamifacation into the mix by creating an immersive and edgy experience for our consumer.”
What does this statement actually say? It’s merely a conglomeration of buzzwords that provides little utility to a conversation. “Conversation is meant to be a collaborative process,” Davis reminds readers. “When it is ambiguous, it fails.”
But Davis also admits buzzwords can be used effectively in certain situations. She provides an example of good buzzword usage through the following statement: “Our client has expressed interest in ROI measurement. Here is an example of how I envision this coming to life and providing value to our client.”
“Good buzzword use occurs when affording ground for action,” she writes. In other words, if you can use a buzzword in a way that contributes to the conversation and allows you to eliminate superfluous words, then your decision to use the buzzword is sound. 
Another business expert, Steele Champion, calls buzzwords “conformity at its finest.” He claims that buzzwords are used to silently tell people you understand them. It’s like being part of an inside joke. You want others to know that you know, and you feel a connection to those who understand you (and vice versa). 
6 Search Marketing Buzzwords
It’s important to understand the utility of buzzwords as a whole before delving into specific terms that are popular in today’s business environment. As you can see, there are times when buzzwords are effective, as well as times when they aren’t. It’s worthwhile to learn how to use buzzwords effectively in order to put yourself in the right position. 
In the world of search marketing, buzzwords are popular. The troubling issue is that many are meaningless, while some have real value. The key is to determine which fall into the former category and which are found in the latter. With that being said, let’s take a look at some of the search marketing buzzwords you need to be familiar with in 2016. 
1. Actionable Analytics
This year, look for “actionable analytics” to be one of the common tech buzzwords. It will rise to prominence as a result of the increased importance of business analytics and big data in both small and large businesses. You’ll begin to see more software and tools developed with the sole purpose of offering actionable analytics, which crunch and correlate all types of structured and unstructured data in order to make real time action and response feasible. 
According to this blog post from datapine, a leader in business intelligence software, 2016 will be the year that business intelligence software finally becomes intuitive and, well, intelligent.  ”As opposed to older systems that primarily aggregated and computed structured data, actionable analytics tools will be able to reason, learn and deliver prescriptive advice,” the post reads.
2. Social reach
While the buzzword has been around for a while, the term “social reach” is finally gaining some steam in the search marketing world. Social reach simply refers to the number of times social media content has been viewed by a unique person. 
3. Device Mesh
Internet of Things was a buzzword of the past that’s now considered common language. Could the new buzzword “device mesh” experience a similar path? Device mesh refers to the connective tissue between different devices – including mobile, home, wearable, and auto devices. Device mesh is what’s expected to propel the Internet of Things forward.
4. Influencer Marketing
Another popular buzzword that’s been around for a while but will increase in popularity this calendar year is “influencer marketing.” This buzzword refers to influential people who support and vouch for your brand. Big brands such as Coca-Cola and Under Armor have been doing this for years, but look for smaller brands to jump on the trend in 2016. 
The goal of influencer marketing is to focus the advertisements and marketing messages on the influencer, as opposed to the product or brand. The hope is that, by leveraging the influencer’s power, viewers will automatically associate the individual with the brand. 
5. Authenticity
As you know, there’s a big difference between authentic marketing messages and obviously-endorsed marketing messages. Authenticity is the buzzword that refers to the former. In other words, it’s how you appear to your audience. While authenticity is a big deal in social media marketing, look for brands to begin focusing on authenticity in search marketing in 2016 as they look for higher returns.  
6. Biased Algorithms
Are algorithms actually computer-based, or do humans insert their own biases into these complicated equations? For example, why does Google show more ads for top-earning jobs to men than to women? (This is something Carnegie Mellon University researchers actually discovered). 
While Google and other search engines would probably tell you there are no biases in their algorithms, the data would tell a different story. Look for biased algorithms to get more discussed in 2016 as binary code becomes more politicized. 
Use Buzzwords Sparingly
If you were to boil down the advice regarding proper usage of buzzwords in today’s business environment, it would come down to three words: Use them sparingly. There are certainly times when buzzwords are inappropriate and eye-roll inducing, but there are also a number of situations where buzzwords can be used to clarify meaning and convey actionable advice. 
As you consider the use of buzzwords in 2016 and how they fit into your vocabulary, keep the aforementioned buzzwords in mind and do your best to use them in appropriate situations, while avoiding overusing them in the wrong ones. Your ability to do so won’t be lost on your peers. 

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

January 19th 2016 Search Engine Marketing, SEO

What Happened When I Flipped a WordPress Based Site from http to https

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In mid-July of 2015, I decided to flip the Sugarrae.com site to https using SSL. In the last eighteen+ months, Google has been pushing hard to “make SSL happen.” They even said it might give you a bit of a rankings boost, no doubt knowing that tons of SEOs and business owners would begin flipping… class="read-more"> href="https://sugarrae.com/online-marketing/seo/wordpress-site-from-http-to-https/">Read More

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January 16th 2016 SEO