Not Making Videos? Now’s the Time to Reconsider

It's easy to get started with videos.
It’s easy to get started with videos.

With organic results being pushed down below the fold, with the shrinking space on mobile screens leaving nearly no room after ads, how can you get your website to show for organic or unpaid searches?

It is simple, use videos posted on YouTube which Google will preferentially index and show over videos posted with Flash or other video applications embedded back on your website.

The key take away on this is that YouTube is a Google property. Google loves to promote and link to content in its own network as ads can be shown and therefore it pads its own pockets. Plus Google likes and understands that users want video and so shows them mixed in with the organic results very frequently. We are a visual world!

Your YouTube video that you do to explain, illustrate, or showcase a product may be the way that new customers will find your business and enter your website.

Videos you post to YouTube do not need to be works of art, but solve a problem, talk to a need, and do not even need to be long. Just grab your smartphone and start recording. You can receive value from 20 to 30 second videos or how to videos.

I like to post these types of videos to YouTube plus archive them via the embed code back on my own website, getting double duty of new fresh content and ways for clients to view – on my site or full screen over at YouTube.

I think that for businesses struggling to get organic placement in the new no-ad-sidebar Google world that video will play a strong part in getting future traffic.

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Domain Masking or 301 Redirect?

Hit the mark with a strategy for visibility.
Hit the mark with a strategy for visibility.

It’s important to know as a website owner for SEO purposes what is happening with your site and server set up.  Although you may want to trust your SEO consultant, there are a few things that you need to know just to keep them in check.

Domain Masking

If you have multiple website properties, I find it better to point domains versus setting up domain masking.  I think it is important to have a parent domain clearly defined by having your website files reside there.  Although others may love domain masking, I think it confuses visitors. I recommend keeping your brand clear to search engines and visitors.

301 Redirects

For some larger sites and those that are managed properties, multiple domains may be controlled with A Name Records and use 301 redirects. Before your SEO consultants starts recommending tactics, make sure that they are clear on how your site is set up. If you don’t know, ask them to call your tech support provider or review your web hosting control panel.

Although you as a business owner don’t want to or need to be bogged down in details. It is important to have at least a working knowledge of what will be done to your site in an effort to improve placement.

Looking for a savvy consultant to help position your site and boost online visibility? I invite you to visit our website to learn more about our services.

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The Problem with the Google Knowledge Graph and the Carousel

Knowledge Graph of a Search on Pope Francis
Knowledge Graph of a Search on Pope Francis

Make sure to read my blog post from Monday about eye tracking studies as this will help you to understand this information.

As Google works hard to keep users on the search results page longer in order to not lose relevance but also to have the opportunity to serve more advertising and make more money, it becomes harder for business owners to get Google.com searchers into their website to see their full range of services, products, and marketing information.

How is Google keeping searchers all to themselves?

The Knowledge Graph

Although you may not know the name of this feature, surely you have seen it in action when you have done a search recently. The image at the top of this post is of one such knowledge graph boxes that pop up on a search I did recently on Pope Francis. Google chooses when to show this additional content which is gleaned from a variety of sources. In many cases the information is supplied by Wikipedia or other relatively authoritative websites. One will not typically find content from business websites but rather news, Wikipedia, .org, Google images, or authoritative sites supplying the content found in the knowledge graph.

In some cases the knowledge graph may show results from your own Google+ contacts – another reason to start building your empire on Google+ to benefit your own business.

In many cases the reader simple gets the information they want from the knowledge graph and does not even leave Google.com for more information.

The Google Carousel
The Google Carousel

The Carousel

Just like you’ve seen the knowledge graph, you’ve seen the Google Carousel as well. Typically this black background slide show pops up for restaurants and hotels when you query a specific location.

By interacting with the ribbon you can see images pulled from the business’ Google My Business page, get directions, read reviews and even click into their website. Typically Google will preferentially show the business’ Google My Business (aka Google Places page) in the top organic spot in the organic search results with a map and a knowledge graph on the right. The actual business website may or may not appear at all in the organic results in the first ten results.

The Quest for Organic Placement Just Got Harder

Based on all these features that Google is loading into the search results page, it is getting harder and harder for a business owner to appear in the organic results. Just another reason why so many businesses are now flooding into Google AdWords in an effort to appear on the first page of search results.

All these changes are great for Google, making their search engine results page becoming a destination into itself and making it much more difficult for a business to garner traffic organically.

If there is one important take away from this information it is that a Google My Business page is now key for your business in order to be competitive and to potentially appear in the “local” knowledge graph and in the carousel and location specific results. With Google showing fewer website results you’ve got to use Google’s own products to leverage your exposure for desktop and mobile searches.

 

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Google’s Golden Triangle is Replaced by the Vertical Slash

Eye Tracking Studies Show How We View Google SERPs Have Changed
Eye Tracking Studies Show How We View Google SERPs Have Changed

Much has been written about eye tracking studies and the importance position in the organic results plays, but with the advent of the smartphone how readers view and react with organic results is drastically changing.

In 2005 an eye tracking study was published and widely shared on the web. The pattern the test candidates repeated over and over as they scanned Google.com’s organic results became known as Google’s “Golden Triangle”. Named for the triangular shape repeated over and over with the test candidate’s eyes typically starting at the top left in the first position of organic results, then moving down to the second position of the organic results and then to the far right to the top paid search results, this pattern shaped how SEO’s tried to position client websites in the SERPs.

Much has changed and the Golden Triangle has now been replaced by a Vertical Slash in a report recently done by the MOZ blog. The MOZ article writer, Rebecca Maynes, states that with the strong use of smartphones eye tracking moved to a more vertical line and started to encompass a wider set of listings in a rapid scanning fashion.

However, with a vertical scan of the Google results page as the preferred method of viewing, the actual length of time the typical person takes reviewing the Google search results is now even shorter than previously recorded in 2005. Google has done much in the last year to counteract that trend!

So we’ve moved from a Golden Triangle to a Vertical Slash that actually is more like a slash and grab as your eye travels the page rapidly scanning for the information you want.

You’ll want to click in and read Rebecca’s excellent article that is complete with images to get a better view of how eyes now travel Google in the search for the best search result.

The key takeaways are that with Google adding more information to the search results page like local listings, the carousel and the knowledge graph, readers are having to search further down the results page to find what they want in a strong vertical fashion that encompasses much more than three site listings. And in some cases readers are never even leaving the search page, but rather interacting with content in the form of the Google knowledge graph (info box that appears on the right with more details, questions and info on a topic) or using the carousel (a black strip of images typically shown for restaurants or hotels that point to Google+ local pages) to find out more about on their information search.

Although this action of trying to keep a reader longer on the search results page is a boon for Google (as it will be able to serve more advertising), it is a bane for business owners who are hoping to use Google organic search results to drive traffic to their website. This means that your meta description tag and title tag have to now work even harder to try to grab attention quickly to get a click in to your website.

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Have You Spent Time With Google Insights?

With the world of organic search optimization having changed significantly and few really good keyword research tools for website placement on the Web, Google Insights has become a very important tool as you consider making changes on your website. Personally, I use the Google AdWords keyword tool hand in hand with the Google Insights tool. What the Google Insights tool helps me to understand is if a keyword phrase I am thinking of using for optimization on a website or for creating a new content page for a client is worth the expense and trouble.

Here’s an example, I have a client in California who wants to do a page on their website for climate controlled warehouse space. I used the AdWords keyword tool to find phrase variations that are popular for clicks in the United States. Then I used the Google Insights tool to review which of those phrases were important and in what locations since 2004. The information has helped the client access how much they want to push this service.

As it turns out climate control keyword phrases are not important to his local or state customers but for the East Coast and Southern markets it is. If he does not have clients in these eastern and southern areas, it may not be worth the time and trouble to do a new service on his website nor promote the service on AdWords. In fact based on the information, he may not move to a new warehouse with climate controlled space.

That’s how powerful Google Insights can be to a business which is developing a new strategy or service. If you want to check out the tool yourself, visit Google Insights now. I think you’ll find the tool useful and very interesting.

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SEO’s Take a New Strategy with Anchor Text

Don't get nailed by Google's Penguin filters
Don’t get nailed by Google’s Penguin filters

It used to be pre-Penguin era, that you researched your keywords and then actively worked to include the keywords you wanted to place on organically in your anchor text. For some of you who are reading, anchor text is the actually text that is shown that is underlined in a hyperlink. Now, to prevent link spam penalties on Google.com, you’d better mix up your anchor text!How So?

Now it is a big no-no to constantly repeat the same anchor text in on-site and off-site efforts. In fact some SEO’s are moving to general terms such as visit our website, click here, find out more instead of very targeted keyword uses such as Maryland SEO firm, or SEO experts. Google actually recommends using descriptive text for links and not the very general click here types of use. However, some SEOs are trying to mitigate overly optimized strategies now by introducing generic links to move their SEO client sites out from underneath Google’s microscope. Here’s a great article I’ve found that really expounds on that topic. 

So what’s a website owner to do in regards to anchor text?

1. Make sure you do not use the same three to five phrases of anchor text in your website and off-site efforts starting now!

2. Mix it up, use generic text as well as descriptive, but not keyword dense phrases. Consider the reader, use what works best and is descriptive of the link versus a set phrasing albeit even in unnatural wording to not be hit by Google’s Penguin filters.

3. Work to increase your visibility on the web so co-citation can work for you for organic placement. Google is very smart now, you don’t need to spoon feed keywords important to your traffic; rather take time to let others share your content and Google will understand what you do through these offsite mentions.

Just a few tips to help you take a new direction. If you need more concrete help to move your website into becoming a web authority site, make sure to check with McCord Web Services.

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