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When internet marketing is concerned, the biggest investment can be the time spent in research to determine how to launch and maintain a success campaign. There is a lot of information regarding internet marketing that can be confusing, and overwhelming. Questions like, what is SEO? What is the difference between organic SEO and pay per click? Why is social media important? What are back links and why are they important? What is the difference between a dynamic site and static site? Do I own my own URL? What is web hosting? How do get the most out of video on my site? Do I need e-commerce? How do I launch an e-mail marketing campaign? What is the best way to capture customers? The list goes on and on and many throw their hands up in the air and give up.
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Wondering how to respond to Google’s recent algorithm changes (known as Panda)?
Keep reading to find out.
A bit of history
In an interview with Wired Magazine, Udi Manber, Google’s head of search, said that Google will make as many as 550 changes to its search algorithm this year. One of the bigger changes happened this past winter in what has been called the Panda or Farmer update.
According to a report by Sistrix.com, within days of the update, a number of very large websites saw their Google rankings take a drastic drop. Sites such asEzinearticles.com and Suite101.com lost 90% or more of their visibility on Google.
This Sistrix table shows the domain and the percentage loss since Google's change.
Although a 90% drop in visibility may seem extreme, it was a direct result of Google’s attempts to weed out content farms (websites with high-volume, low-quality content) and those trying to game the system. In the process, a number of unsuspecting websites got caught in the fray.
For the average small business owner, stories like this can be concerning. It’s hard enough to move to the top of the Google search rankings, let alone keep up with the constantly evolving magic that makes Google work.
However, for those looking to build quality websites that achieve high Google search results, nothing has really changed. As always, the key is to focus on publishing high-quality content that readers will want to share.
Here are 7 tips to help your business move to the top of the Google search rankings.
#1: It’s all about the user
It’s important to remember that the reason for the continually changing algorithms and updates is that Google has one objective—to provide the highest quality, most relevant search results possible. If they fail to do so, competitors such as Bing and Facebook are nipping at their heels ready to take up the slack.
Google is not out to penalize websites or hurt website owners. They want to ensure that users find the information they seek on the first try.
When it comes to search engine rankings and improving SEO, start by looking at the site from the perspective of the user searching Google. Does your site provide the best, most relevant information for a given search term and if not, what can you do to fix it?
Google’s Amit Singhal, head of Google’s core ranking team, provided 23 questions to consider when evaluating web content. These are some of the same questions that Google is using to test algorithms and evaluate websites using third-party beta testers. The questions provide an excellent insight into Google’s perspective and a tool to analyze your website from the user’s point of view.
#2: Content: Focus on quality over quantity
In an earlier post I wrote on how to increase your Google ranking, I talked about using blogs to increase the number of pages indexed in Google. And while it still holds true that more pages indexed for a given search term gives you a better chance of achieving a high Google rank, it isn’t enough just to publish text optimized for keywords. The quality of the content is now a factor.
Using the list of 23 questions will help you assess the quality of your content.
Since the Panda update, Google has attempted to screen out those publishing high-volume, low-quality content. Now, in the eyes of Google, it’s better to have fewer high-quality pages then lots of low-quality pages.
Blogging is still one of the best ways to move up the search engine rankings as it is a good way to add high-quality information to a website. However, web pages or blog posts offering little of value can now negatively impact a website. Removing these pages might actually help a website move up the rankings or recover from a drop in ranking.
#3: Links: Focus on quality over quantity
Incoming links have always looked good in the eyes of Google. As a result, one way to move a site up the search engine rankings was to generate a high number of incoming links all pointing to a given web page.
As Google places higher and higher value on the quality of the content, this tactic is not as effective, and can even harm a website’s ranking if overdone.
For the small business website owner, this should come as good news. Instead of generating 50 articles with subpar content, website owners can now focus on creating fewer high-quality articles or incoming links, as Google is no longer placing much value in links from article distribution sites such as Ezine.com.
In another article on ways to improve your blog SEO with inbound links, I suggested that press releases were a good way to generate incoming links because distribution services often generated back-links as articles were placed on various press release syndication websites. This link-building strategy has also changed post-Panda update, as these links are not as highly valued as they once were. However, a well-written press release can still be very effective when picked up and reported by a journalist or major publication.
Focus on getting high-quality links from high-quality websites. Guest posting is still an excellent way to generate high-quality incoming links. If possible, try to wrap links in important keywords. For example, as a content marketing copywriter, a link around “content marketing copywriter” would be more effective than a link wrapped around my name.
#4: Make the most of social media, social sharing and social search
It’s hard to tell exactly how much impact Twitter and Facebook have on Google search results, but at the very least we know that Google is providing real-time social sharing in the search results.
Google’s addition of the Google +1 button and the ability of Google users to block sites take this a step further. Although it’s still unclear how Google is using the +1 button in their algorithms, they have stated publicly that users blocking a site can have a negative impact on returns. This again demonstrates the importance of high-quality content.
#5: Let the search engines know you’re there
Once you’ve published high-quality content, it’s important to tell Google about the content and make it easy for users to find. This means that meta titles and descriptions should closely match the content on the page.
Keyword stuffing and intentionally filling meta descriptions with keywords that don’t match the page in an attempt to deceive will only hurt your search engine results. The closer the match, the better.
It’s also important to make the most of the SERP, the short paragraph showing in the Google search returns. Use this space to provide a clear description of the content and encourage users to click through to your site.
Be sure your meta description matches the post and encourages users to click through. This is what shows in the Search Engine Results Page or SERP.
#6: The truth behind duplicate content
It’s not that Google penalizes websites for duplicate content; Google just doesn’t show it in the search results. Remember what I said in the beginning about providing the best possible search returns. When it comes to duplicate content, that’s all Google is doing.
Instead of showing 20 pages with the same content, Google tries to present the most relevant and original content and omit the rest. Users can still view omitted search returns, they just need to make an effort and most won’t.
This only becomes a problem if you’re using canned content or directly publishing RSS feeds from other websites. Content of this sort might be seen as low-quality and result in lower Google returns. Hopefully the days of stolen web content and RSS scrapers will soon be a thing of the past.
#7: Don’t overdo the advertising
Too much advertising can also result in lower Google rankings. This again is a result of Google’s attempts to improve search results for the user. Google tends to equate an overabundance of advertising to lower-quality or “spam” websites.
Excessive advertising can also hurt your Google returns. Note how the actual content on this site isn't even visible above the fold. This website is also "scraping" content from Social Media Examiner which can also hurt search engine ranking.
Be sure that advertising does not interfere with the content on the page. This is especially important with advertising above the fold and within the text.
Google is constantly evolving, but the fundamentals of SEO will always remain the same. High-quality content that people want to share will always do well in the eyes of Google. Search Engine Land has put together a free guide that will help you gain traffic from search engines such as Google and Bing.
"Search Engine Land has created a Periodic Table of 'SEO Ranking Factors.' Notice the importance placed on content.
The truth about doing business online today is that for many companies, increasing market share requires winning customers from competitors. Using online video to build business is one tactic that has been rapidly gaining popularity in the past few years. It delivers benefits that include personalization, competitive advantage and cost-effectiveness.
Below are seven ways video outperforms static web content in the ruthless competition for market share.
1. Video Attracts New, Relevant Search Traffic
No conversation about ebusiness is complete without discussing search engine optimization (SEO). An ebusiness cannot gain on a competitor until consumers know it exists and can easily find it through organic search. Today, ebusinesses that utilize video assets are at an advantage, since Google is structuring its search engine results to reward sites that include video. According to Forrester, any given video in an index of searchable keywords has a 50 times better chance of appearing on the first page of results than any given text page.
To better promote their video investments and derive the greatest SEO rewards, ebusinesses are making videos more accessible to visitors, scaling videos to reach long-tail keywords, and automating video production in order to have video available as soon as new products are introduced.
2. Video Assets Can be Easily Syndicated
Online video is usually channel agnostic. By syndicating video properties to multiple sites — includingYouTube, the second largest search engine today — ebusinesses extend their reach to innumerable eyeballs. In addition to traditional channels, online video plays equally well via mobile networks, TV, and in-store screens. It is a cost-effective way to maintain brand consistency and strengthen consumer awareness.
3. Videos Encourage Sharing
Videos are far more likely to be passed and shared than text-based pages. Additionally, a video thumbnail on a social media platform — Facebook, for example — grabs more attention than static text and often results in more comments, more “Likes,” and more traffic to the brand’s website. When you like or share a video link, a thumbnail appears on your wall and is also seen by your friends.
According to a study from YouBrand, pictures and video within Facebook get engaged with and clicked more often than just text and questions.
4. Video Engages Site Visitors
Video provides a familiar user interface for site visitors. When videos are properly produced, they captivate the user. Instead of the need to navigate, scroll and click to access information, the video is a one-stop shop for information. It takes less energy than the hassle of reading and the user is engaged until he or she is ready to follow an embedded call-to-action. Today’s automated video production platforms easily enable this flow, in many cases directing visual and auditory calls-to-action that guide the viewer to a shopping cart.
5. Video’s “Halo Effect” Drives Conversions
Video can give customers an in-depth view of a product or a demonstration that quells any hesitancy they might have about purchasing online. The peace of mind the customer gains from the video seeps into the way he or she feels about the brand and website overall, building trust and credibility. This is essential to gaining market share, especially for businesses that sell products with a lot of competition.
6. Video Increases Customer Loyalty
Video newsletters are more likely to attract consumer attention. By some estimates, the open rate for a video newsletter is two to three times higher than for a text-based newsletter. While many brands compete for consumer attention with the latter, those who employ the former stand out from the crowd. These video communications can be personalized for each recipient with individualized greetings, references to previously purchased items, or offers based on shopping history, geography and segmentation.
7. Video Creates Online Personalization
By improving and tailoring the customer experience, online retailers in every sector have increased customer loyalty, conversion rates and average order price. The quality of online personalization continues to rise and in many cases can rival or outperform the “live” shopping experience. This is a key factor in gaining market share, since consumers increasingly shop online but still express a desire for the personal touch and the social aspects of in-person browsing.
When prospects go to a store, they get recommendations and help from in-store staff who point them to relevant products. Video delivers this experience online, with far less variability and chance. With new technologies that offer personalized video created on-the-fly, ebusinesses can bridge the gap between live and virtual experiences.
8. Video Production Costs Are Falling, ROI Is Rising
Online video clearly has an impact on competitive advantage. But is it feasible for most ebusinesses? Thanks to today’s automated video production technology, the answer is “yes.”
Two decades ago, the market struggled to replace the labor-intensive process of website management. Today we hardly think about the steps required to update or add web content: Images and text are now template-based, database-driven and easy to manipulate.
Video production is experiencing a similar change. While many website owners once fought the limitations of manually produced videos — including slow production times and prohibitive costs — today’s solutions tend to be automated, cost effective and high quality. With relatively little human intervention, online video production can increase a business’s competitive advantage while creating a better shopping experience for the user.