At the Search Engine Optimization category of the Vizion Interactive blog, get advice and tips about SEO from the experts at Vizion Interactive. Vizion is a dedicated team of search engine optimization experts, Google and Bing Certified paid search experts, Google Certified analytics experts and social media experts who excel in content marketing, outreach, link building, online PR and overall di
Search engine optimization (SEO) centers on Google. Google is by far the top search engine marketers should focus on, as it is where businesses get the bulk of their visitors. Google advanced search operators, or Google search modifiers, are the keys to unlocking this search engine’s true powers for a business. Learning the top 10 search operators can revolutionize how you conduct website research. Gain insights into new SEO opportunities, improve your rank on Google search results, and unleash your full potential with the right search operators.
Ever wonder what the “cache” option next to your search results in Google means? It’s an advanced search operator that SEO experts can use to discover the most recent cache of the website. Google’s browser cache contains information from the most recent collection the Google search bot took. The cache will look like the current page of search results, but when you click the “Text-Only Version” option in the top left-hand corner of the page, you’ll see the text that Google reads.
Conduct a search for some key terms that a customer might use to find your site, product, or service. Then, press the “Cache” option, found next to the green primary URL on the search results links. Find out what text elements Google reads for that search and use them on your website. The Googlebot will then pick them up, consider them relevant for a search, and place your site toward the top of the results for that search.
The “allintext” search operator works like this: add “allintext:” before your Google search. For example, a search for allintext: social media marketing would search body text for every individual term. In other words, the operator will help you learn whether all the terms after “allintext:” appear in the text of a page. Although the allintext: operator isn’t 100 percent accurate because it won’t look for text that appears close together, it’s a beneficial tool if you’re looking to see if the words in a phrase appear on your website, a competitor’s, or elsewhere.
The intext: Google search modifier is similar to allintext: except it is more global. This operator lets you search for terms anywhere on a webpage, not just its body content. Putting “intext:” before a search word or phrase will show you where it pops up on a site’s title, URL, meta description, tags, body content, and elsewhere. The intext: Google operator is handy if you’re researching how the search engine is categorizing others’ on-page SEO efforts, in order to inform how you’ll handle your own.
Looking for a fast and easy way to enhance your site’s blog content? Outshine your competitors’ blogs on the same or similar topics using the allintitle: Google search modifier. Place “allintitle:” before your search topic or phrase and read what others have already written about that topic. Then, craft your content to beat what’s already out there. The allintitle: operator is a great way to make sure your content is totally unique, as well as offering added value compared to what your competitors are publishing.
The inanchor: operator is an excellent tool to search for keywords that appear in anchor text, or in links on other pages. For example, searching inanchor: top SEO tricks would result in matches that have links to other pages using “top SEO tricks” or similar language as the anchor text. Inanchor: searches can help SEO by seeing what pages others are linking to on their websites. You could also use the allinanchor: operator to see anchors that contain all query terms.
Filetype or Ext
Starting a search with filetype:suffix will narrow results down to pages only with the desired suffix. If you’re searching only for PDF documents, for example, searching SEO infographic filetype:pdf would return Adobe Acrobat PDF files that match your keywords. Without the modifier, you would see a range of file types with SEO infographics, including websites and images. Using the Google operator ext: does the same thing. Ext: is an undocumented alias for the filetype: modifier.
Using the info: modifier will give you search results that provide information about the desired website, person, or company. The info: operator narrows search results down to only show information such as About Us sections, news stories, biographies, etc. about the desired search term instead of other content. For example, a search for info:Social Media Examiner will come up with the website, contact page, staff info, Wikipedia page, and Facebook page as the first five hits. The same search without the info: operator only comes up with the company’s website and social platforms.
Placing location: in front of your Google News query will narrow your search results down to the location you specify. This modifier is handy if you’re trying to see the latest news in your community only. A location-based Google News search can be helpful for coming up with new blog topics and keeping your readers informed on the latest goings-on in your neighborhood. Google News will accept country, US state abbreviations, and Canadian province abbreviations to narrow down search results by location.
A Google search using the modifier related: is an easy way to see pages that are similar to the one you’re interested in. This search operator is helpful for SEO purposes because it will generate a list of websites similar to yours or your competitors’. You can get a list of sites that might be your competition. You can then use their sites to create strategies for how to improve or build upon what they already have. Use this modifier with a URL. For example: the search related:Google.com comes up with Yahoo, Bing, Yahoo Search, HotBot, and DuckDuckGo as the first five hits – five search engines similar to Google.
Inurl: is a Google advanced search operator one could use to see results with the keyword in the page’s URL. The inurl: modifier might be helpful if the searcher cannot quite remember the name of a site or if the searcher has an idea of what he/she wants but doesn’t know the exact title. For example, searching Neil Patel inurl:Blogging will come up with articles Neil Patel has written on the subject of blogging.
Get more out of your Google searches and SEO research. Start with these 10 advanced operators, then learn more as you get more confident!
Google wants your website to succeed. The search engine powerhouse has proved this again and again with the incredible tools it offers businesses and website owners. One tool you shouldn’t pass up is Google Search Console. Google Search Console is the new name for the suite formerly known as Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
Google Search Console is a free webmaster console that generates a wealth of information about your website and its visitors. It lets you track metrics such as the number of site visitors, where they came from, what devices they’re using, and what pages they like the most. It also makes it easy to detect and repair issues with your site, submit a sitemap to Google, and more. If Google Search Console sounds like a tool that could benefit you, set up an account with the following steps.
Start a Google Account
First, if you don’t have a Google account, you’ll need to set one up. Your Google account is free to create and gives you instant access to all the tools in Google’s web console, plus plenty of other perks through Google. The tools suite works with Google Analytics, but helps more with the technical aspects of your website rather than marketing. Signing up with GWT will give you the Search Console and much more. Start by creating a Google Account for your business if you don’t already have one, or by logging in to your existing account.
Add Your Website
Once you’re logged into your Google account, go to the Search Console. Google Webmasters has a green “Search Console” button you can press, or you can enter “https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools” into any search bar. You’ll come to the Welcome to Search Console page where you will add your website. Type your website’s URL into the bar, changing the dropdown menu from “website” to “Android App,” if applicable. Press the red “Add a Property” button to submit your site.
Verify the Site Is Yours: HTML Options
Next you will need to verify that you own the site. Google needs to see that you’re either the site owner, webmaster, or another authorized user. Verifying your site is Google’s way of protecting users’ website information from competitors, hackers, and other such parties. Google gives users a few different ways to verify their sites. If you have experience with HTML code, you can verify this way. HTML tag verification may be easiest for users connecting a WordPress or Yoast SEO site.
Select “Manage Property” from the main Search Console dashboard. Select your website (it should say “Not Verified” next to it), then press “Verify this Property.” Google will list the methods it recommends. If “HTML tag” doesn’t appear here, check in the “Alternate methods” tab. Google will give you the HTML code you’ll need to add, save, and publish to your website’s homepage for verification. Revisit the Search Console dashboard and press “Verify” next to your website. Google will then check for the verification HTML code. Do not remove the code from your homepage after verification, or this will make your site unverified.
You also have the option to verify your site using an HTML file uploaded to your website’s root directory. Find the “HTML file upload” verification option under recommended or alternate methods on the Search Console. Select it and Google will ask you to download an HTML file. Then, upload the file to the location Google specifies. Do not alter the content of the file or its name. Return to Search Console and press “Verify.” Google will look for the file on your site. Again, do not remove the file afterward or you’ll lose verification.
Verify the Site Is Yours: Non-HTML Options
If you’d prefer to verify your website without using HTML code or files, Google has a few other methods you can use. The first is by signing into your domain name provider. Selecting this option from the “Verify this Property” page will bring you to a list of domain name providers. If you don’t see yours, select “Other” to create a DNS TXT reference or CNAME record for your provider. Simply sign into your domain provider and Google will verify your site this way.
The fourth verification option is by adding a Google Analytics code. This method will be easiest if you already have a Google Analytics account that you are the administrator of. If so, Google will instantly verify your site through your Google Analytics account. All you need to do is select this option under recommended or alternate methods and press “Verify.” Verification will be immediate.
Finally, you can verify your website through Google Tag Manager. This option makes the most sense for people who already have Google Tag Manager accounts (with “View, Edit, and Manage” permission). If this sounds like you, make sure your site’s HTML code has the Google Tag Manager code after the <Body> tag, then press “Verify.” Google will find the Tag Manager code and instantly verify your site.
Start Using Google Search Console
Now you’re ready to start using your Google Webmaster console. First, create a sitemap and submit it. The Search Console tool has everything you need to easily create your sitemap. Go to the Search Console dashboard and find the “Crawl” option. Click this dropdown menu and then select “Sitemaps.” Press the red “Add/Test Sitemaps” button and enter “systems/feeds/sitemap” in the box provided. This will submit your sitemap to the console. Note: if you have WordPress, the Google XML sitemaps plugin will build your sitemap for you.
Make the most out of Google Search Console by connecting it to your Google Analytics account. That way, you’ll get metrics from both the internal and external side of things – the marketing aspect through Google Analytics and the internal site metrics from Search Console. Bridging the two can give you a comprehensive look at your website from all angles. Connect the two by selecting the site you with to connect from your Search Console dashboard. Click on the site, then select “Google Analytics Property.” Find the desired account and click, “Save.”
It will take about a week for Google to gather data from your website and present it in the Google Search Console. At that time, you’ll gain access to incredible metrics and insights about site traffic and usage you can use to fix issues, optimize usability, and conquer SEO.
Most businesses today depend on search-driven web traffic to succeed. Taking their cues from changing technology and shifts in consumer behavior in recent years, astute companies have begun to adapt their SEO strategies to leverage voice search technology. As more consumers use their smartphones, tablets, and voice assistants to acquire information and make purchases through voices search, companies who choose to rely solely on mobile SEO risk obsolescence in a rapidly evolving e-commerce landscape.
Why Voice Search Matters
Its Use is Increasing Among Consumers
In recent years, a growing number of consumers have begun to rely on personal digital assistants capable of registering verbal commands to make online inquiries. In fact, analysts report that as of 2016, over 40% of adults in the United States performed daily voice-based searches, and instances of voice-searching increased by a multiple of 35 between 2008 and 2016. In 2017, Google announced that 20% of the search requests it fields are voice searches, and observers estimate that by 2020 at least half of all internet searches will be voice-based.
Commentators agree that the availability and diverse application of voice-first devices, as well as the convenience and efficiency of voice search technology, primarily explain the rise in its popularity. As of 2017, an estimated 33 million voice-first devices were in circulation in the United States. This number reflects a sharp rise in the prevalence of smart speakers like Google Home devices, Amazon Echo, and Siri, which operate almost exclusively on voice command and normalize the concept for their users.
Expect this trend to continue as the sophistication of voice-recognition systems evolve and retailers adopt the technology. Believe it or not, some recognition software now boasts accuracy ratings as high as 95%, which rivals the accuracy rate of human auditory perception. Moreover, in an effort to enhance profits from the growing online shopping trend, large corporate retailers have begun to partner with technology companies to enable voice command purchasing on their digital interfaces.
It’s Changing Search Traffic Patterns
Voice-first assistants respond to the unique speech patterns of their users by processing natural language commands and providing search results in response to queries based on learning a user’s preferences over time. Therefore, in a world where virtual assistants stand between businesses and consumers, businesses can no longer succeed with an SEO strategy that fails to address voice search. Instead, SEO strategies must adapt to vie for search recognition by the virtual gatekeepers of their target markets.
In addition, the nature of voice search differs from the keyword searches that have defined internet information mining since the 1990s. Firstly, voice search follows a conversational pattern, and search prompts tend be longer and less formal than traditional keyword queries. Moreover, because voice search technology caters to on-the-go users, the searches are usually conducted on mobile devices and focused on information relevant to the user’s locale. Thus, to benefit the user, content gathered in response to a voice search must be easily accessed on a mobile device, relevant, and brief. 7 Techniques to Optimize Your Voice Search Presence
Here are the seven key techniques you can deploy to ensure your business remains visible in the results of searches conducted by virtual intermediaries.
Improve Your Local Search Rankings.
Nearly half of all voice searches focus on business information. Make sure your business appears in these searches by claiming and optimizing your Google My Business Page. Use this resource to instantly supply potential customers with all the critical information they need about your business, including location, contact information, hours of operation, online reviews, and any special sales or promotions you have on offer.
Adopt Conversational Keywords.
Because voice searches are more casual and dialogue-based than traditional keyword searches, an effective keyword strategy for these searches must mimic a real-life conversation. To develop content that reflects live interaction, try to adapt the type of questions that customers pose about your business over the phone. Keep track of the specific questions and words used by customers in their interactions with your sales staff or customer service department, and use them to create longer, conversational search terms (known as “long-tail+ conversational keyword phrases”) that you can build into your company’s web pages.
You can also look to Google’s Search Console reports for a list of the actual search terms that directed users to your site. Although these terms may not have been used in a voice search, they can provide an additional set of words you can use to develop long-tail+ conversational keyword phrases.
Build Conversational Keywords into Your FAQ Pages.
Increase the frequency with which your company appears in voice search results and the chances your site will appear in a Google ‘Featured Snippet’ by using long-tail+ conversational keyword phrases to respond to questions you commonly receive from customers. Frame the questions in the natural language used by customers, and group related questions on the same page. To maximize your presence in voice search results, include detailed and specific customer inquiries and provide brief and clear responses to each one.
Enhance Your Website’s Crawlability.
Your website’s search performance results in part from how well it can be crawled by Googlebot. If your site appears in Google search results less frequently than it used to, or has fallen out of the results altogether, then visit the Google Search Console to identify and fix any potential problems. In particular, make sure the Google index includes your site (especially if it’s new) and alert Google to your most important web pages by providing them a sitemap.
Optimize Your Website for Mobile Applications.
Voice searches are conducted almost universally on mobile devices, which increases the likelihood that searchers will navigate away from your site if it does not provide a quick and easy user experience. Google provides a Mobile-Friendly Test and PageSpeed Insights Tool for businesses that desire feedback on the mobile user experience of their sites. Simply enter your company’s URL to learn how to modify your site to enhance your voice search optimization and protect your PageRank.
Create Mobile-Friendly Content.
Ensure that voice search users can read your content on their mobile devices by keeping it succinct and accessible. Avoid long articles, which are difficult to read on a small screen. Instead, include summaries at the top of each page to present readers with the key material it contains, and use informative headers to help readers quickly locate the information they require. Use simple sentence structure and short paragraphs, and incorporate visual illustrations where possible.
Keep Up on Developments in Voice Search Optimization.
Although voice search data is not presently included in Search Console reports, Google has signaled in the past that it may begin to report voice search and keyboard search queries separately, much like how desktop and mobile search data are tracked. The availability of this data would streamline a company’s ability to identify the voice search queries driving traffic to its site and adapt its content accordingly. To this point, the long-tail+ conversational keywords used in voice search occur in such low volumes that Google excludes them from the Search Console. Google has yet to reveal how it will address this problem, but watch for developments in this area.
Do you want to learn more about how Voice Search can fit into your SEO Strategy? Check out our SEO Services and contact us today!
We here at Vizion have been stressing to our clients for many months now about the importance of implementing our mobile site optimization recommendations. In fact, we’ve been stressing it SO much, that we fear we may be sounding like broken records. But be warned, Mobile-First is NOT #fakenews. So, instead of just another post about why getting your ducks in a row for Mobile-First is so important, we thought we’d synthesize some articles that other thought leaders have published on the topic (including Google itself) that we think are important, and if you don’t feel like reading each article, we’re going to share our highlights – lucky you! We hope you enjoy the straight and to the point (and a bit sassy) commentary from Vizion experts Lisa Ainza and Shanti Shunn below. Read a few of the articles if you have time, and then get to optimizing!
Lisa Ainza: “Thank you Google for confirming the obvious. Since Google has been beating webmasters and SEOs alike over the head about page speed since 2010, one more update on the subject doesn’t make me stand at attention. These days when I view an SEO update confirming a signal most SEOs already know to matter, I tend to zero in on the language used to read between the lines for the real story (rather than the statement) to help get an idea of how an update may play out in the wild.
As usual, Google includes its standard diatribe regarding breadth of impact in an attempt to quell panic by indicating that negative effect imparted by the update will only be limited to a tiny portion of websites and only the worst offenders. This of course translates to: there is likely to be a tidal wave of impact and it’s probably going to affect websites far and wide, and that’s too bad for you.
They counter this with a quick, arbitrary reminder that other things do still matter, to prevent SEOs from going Mad Cow and ending up nervously stripping away everything, but the kitchen sink to make their pages fast.
Shanti Shunn: “While this article seems to gloss over some things pertinent to the mobile-first pending change like when they say, ‘Websites that adequately employ responsive web design or dynamic serving — practices that modify how a website looks and acts based on the device it’s being loaded on — won’t have to change their websites for mobile-first indexing,’ they do not account for the fact that many sites currently truncate the amount of data displayed from the desktop version, often including content that is moved into an off-canvas state. This will have an impact on the mobile version of your site ranking and supporting what you see on the desktop-based measuring system, still mostly active (but on its way out) today.
This stated, the post does share the most salient fact of why Google is doing this, specifically the facts that when looking at time spent on the digital landscape, ‘65% in the US is spent on mobile devices’ and that a 2016 report showed that search engines’ queries share was ‘60%.’ These are the core driving forces for this shift by Google, so make sure you are focused on getting ready now.”
Shanti Shunn: “This article states some great salient points when it comes to the pending (and already being tested) Mobile-First shift by Google. The main takeaways from my perspective are these:
“Aim for a Loading Speed of Less than 2 Seconds”
Remember, this is the potential universal target for any and all mobile sites, regardless of technology or content depth, but also remember that content that is good and is truly useful from the user-intent perspective can balance this out.
“Make Sure Your Content is the Same from Desktop to Mobile”
This has been my mantra to clients. So often the mobile version of a website has shifted content off-canvas and that means that the google-bot for mobile will be looking for what is actually displayed as part of the mobile-first ranking change. So, make sure what is displayed on the desktop site is also displayed on the mobile site.
Shanti Shunn: “This article/post is definitely worth looking at and reading in its entirety. What it contains is some comparative tools that Google has presented to be able to measure your website and get an idea of how page-speed may be impacting your business. The other major takeaway from testing with these tools and using these calculators, is that is provides you direct insight into why Google is making this change and how they see you stacking up, especially when it comes to the implementation of a universal mobile performance goal. Go see where you stack up with this tool especially: https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/mobile/“
Lisa Ainza: “While SEOs have been aware for some time of the on-going Google initiative of the Mobile-First Index, this update was unusually helpful in providing guidance in the more complicated aspects of mobile communication with the search engine. My guess is these are the areas where Google has seen issues most frequently, and ensuring these areas are buttoned-up will most likely result in much less blood and tears when Mobile-First descends on your own sites. I’m sure Google will appreciate it too to help lessen the chance that this (unnecessary) push towards a mobile universe blows up in their face.
If you’re feeling a bit like the deer in the headlights and not sure where to start, head over to Google Search Console and check for mobile-related errors in the areas Google is calling out. Maximize your Schema opportunities and then ensure all your mobile pages have proper metadata. If you have a site that has multiple region or language page versions you’ll want to address Google’s tidbit on hreflang considerations as soon as possible, as this is a more complicated attribute. Happy mobiling!”
If you want to know whether your site is truly ready for Google’s Mobile-First Indexing, we’re happy to help! Check out our SEO Services, and contact us today!
You may also be interested in: Google Is Your Mobile-First Guidance Counselor What does Mobile Mean to Your Bottom Line? Mobile-First Google Shift The Importance of Mobile Page Speed for Users and Mobile SEO
Selecting your search engine optimization (SEO) consultant or agency is about more than just money. Your SEO strategy can virtually decide the fate of your company. Business-to-business (B2B) owners should not underestimate the importance of hiring the right SEO consultant. Finding a B2B SEO agency is an art and science that requires effort for optimal success. There are eight questions you should always ask potential professional SEO consultants before signing on the dotted line:
Do You Have Experience With My Business Type?
Your B2B company isn’t like a business-to-customer (B2C), publication, merchandising, ecommerce, or hybrid business. Each of these business types is unique and requires a different SEO strategy. On the search for a B2B SEO agency, look for one with real-life experience handling your business type. Ask about past projects with other B2Bs and success with prior SEO strategies. Request to see referrals, testimonials, or a portfolio.
Do You Have Experience with My Market and/or Market Segment?
SEO and marketing should work together as a seamless single unit. They are no longer two separate entities. As such, you need professional SEO consultants who have worked with other businesses in your market, market segment, or niche. B2B marketing centers on meeting the needs of other businesses, not the end client. An SEO consultant should recognize this important distinction and include strategies for your specific market, whether you’re a producer, reseller, or other institution. An understanding of your market is the only way a consultant can craft a successful SEO strategy.
Do You Have the Experience to Help Prioritize SEO Projects Externally?
The list of tasks relating to SEO is enormous. It can include website redesign, internal linking, content creation, and a number of other items. It takes a team of dedicated professionals to tackle the many elements of a single SEO project. Experienced SEO professionals will prioritize search engine optimization tasks using audit programs or sets of recommendations. The SEO consultants can then implement solutions to specific SEO problems. External prioritization can make a project move much more quickly and efficiently, saving the client time and money. Rookie consultants may not have the resources or skills to for external SEO prioritization.
Do You Have Familiarity with My Platform/Site Technology?
Familiarity with your chosen platform or website technology is a must for your B2B SEO agency. An agency will not be able to provide top-quality services if it doesn’t have at least a general knowledge of how your platform operates. For example, a consultant who has only dealt with WordPress sites may be at a loss when it comes to SEO for SquareSpace or Blogger. The consultant you choose should at least have experience with site technology that’s of a similar scale to what you use. Agencies with more than one SEO specialist are more likely to have someone with experience handling a lesser-known platform.
What Level of Experience Do You Seek in Your Directly Interacting SEO Consultants?
The directly interacting SEO consultant for your project should be qualified to address your specific concerns. The best consultant for the job will have experience handling clients similar to you, and can therefore understand issues that apply to your business type. Ask what type of experience, skills, and qualifications the agency requires of its consultants. Look for an SEO consultant with experience in B2B markets particularly.
If There is a Critical Project, Would an SEO Consultant Be Able to Work On-Site?
A good remote SEO agency can tackle almost any project from afar with the same personal approach and dexterity as a local company. Yet sometimes you might prefer a consultant to be with you, in the same room. If this is a priority for you or something you believe you will need for a critical project, find a consultant willing to meet you on-site. Ask the potential consultant or agency if they can accommodate on-site requests before you start working with them. The last thing you want is to discover they can’t meet you in person after already signing a contract.
Does the Agency Provide Additional Tools to Focus Not Only on SEO?
Search engine optimization is not a compartmentalized task. It is an all-encompassing goal that requires more than just basic SEO best practices. To achieve and maintain a better search engine ranking, you need services like local listing management, social media advertising, conversion rate optimization, blog management, marketing automation, and a number of others. If you want to truly improve your business with your SEO agency investment, find one that can address all your marketing needs, not just SEO. Additional tools can prevent you from having to hire more than one consultant or agency.
How Would You Describe the Potential Account Manager for My Account?
Your account manager will be the one in charge of overseeing your project. He or she will likely be your main point of contact – the person you’ll work most closely with to establish and meet your goals. The skills of the manager can make a big difference in the success of your project. Get to know your potential account manager as much as possible before hiring. Ask questions about the individual’s experience, specialties, referrals, strengths, and weaknesses. Arrange for a meeting or phone conversation with the potential manager, if possible.
The questions you ask before hiring a consultant or retaining a B2B SEO agency can help you establish whether you’re making the right decision for your brand. Keep these eight questions at the top of your list to ensure that you vet properly and proceed with confidence and hey, feel free to contact Vizion Interactive.
In my push towards helping to create some Standards, demystify search engine optimization and help more and more people get search engine optimization into their marketing budgets, I developed a free SEO RFP template for those seeking search engine optimization services, 10 years ago. As you might imagine, a lot has changed since then, and so I have updated the SEO RFP Template to account for things that you should be considering, today.
Certainly, there will be other search engine optimization firms out there who may want to offer some suggestions to what is included within this RFP template, AND I WELCOME THEM! (add them as a comment to this post, and I will try to include them, as we revise this moving forward).
As with all things “interactive”, this document should be a living/breathing thing, constantly evolving to include other key influencers.
Update: It’s been a while since this has been published so we felt the need to put our heads together and come up with a 2018 version of what a SEO RFP should look like. If you’re so inclined, here’s a link to Vizion Interactive’s SEO Services page.
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There are so many people and companies writing content about Google’s impending change to true “mobile-first” indexing that it can make your head spin, especially with all the speculation of what it will take to do it right. That said, yes, I’ll also be writing about this same topic, but I’m going to not only focus on highlighting sources for best practices, but will also highlight just a few of the warning signs that were the early indicators that this was coming. If you had not heard about this until late 2017, you might as well fire any executives and agencies that did not bring this up and start looking for people with actual eyes on what is happening.
Let’s start with some of the history and what better than reviewing Google’s own published content. Back in 2011, Google already was referencing “mobile-first” in its own posts. Interestingly, that post specifically speaks to looking at the mobile experience from the design perspective, but, even more interestingly, looking at the design process from the mobile version as the starting point and working up to the desktop site. So why is it such a surprise now that Google is pushing this flip-flop of the traditional site design process? It isn’t. People were just not listening.
In 2013, Google then published a whitepaper titled “Any Place, Any Time, Any Device”. The catch part was the sub-head of “Building Websites for the Multi-Screen Consumer”. Not only does this whitepaper speak to the stats as they relate to multi-device use trends by web users, but it then gets into the details as they relate to designing for the Mobile and Tablet experiences. In this whitepaper, Google not only highlights the user behavior trends pointing to the creation of better mobile experiences, but highlights key stats that, again, should have been early indicators that Google was seriously focused on Mobile. Some of the key quotable stats are that “there are now 1.5 billion mobile subscribers globally” and that is growing at “an astonishing growth rate of 31%”, but also that “in the U.S., smartphone adoption has passed 61%”. Now, this may have been something you already knew. That said, we now keep hearing things about “intent” being a part of the derived relevance and one of the additional driving factors for the priority focus on Mobile. Sure enough, when reading through this old whitepaper, we see this being the key point when they state: “’Why should I visit your website and use your business?’ What you offer users, what they expect from you, and what they can achieve at your site should all fit together.” Basically, satisfying “user-intent” has always been a part of relevance, but now Google was calling this out and relating it to Mobile.
Google has always been pushing site speed. In terms of the Mobile focus of it though, no headline calls this out more than the article posted in 2015 entitled: “Speed is key: Optimize your mobile experience”. Yeah, not much of a cognitive load to translate that into “Google wants fast experiences, especially for mobile”. You’ve probably heard SEOs and others calling out optimization of Page Speed. Google has tools dedicated to helping with this and has for years now. Yet, despite this bluntly titled piece from 2015, many organizations and development groups don’t consider this from the beginning of any website design project. This represents yet another aspect being emphasized now by Google as they push the impending ‘mobile-first’ shift, but again, this is nothing new and should not be a surprise. Has our organization made it a priority? How long ago was it a priority? Is it something you still have your IT and Design teams focused on as an ongoing task? If the answer to that last one is no, stop what you are doing and, as so frequently stated by Captain Picard, “Make it so.”
Obviously, since the end of 2016, you could not avoid hearing about Google’s impending change to ‘mobile-first indexing’. Even if you did not see the piece published by Google on November 4th, 2016, you probably heard about it not too long after. One of the other big pushes with this change has been “Structured Data Markup” on both Desktop and Mobile sites. Again, another “early warning” of what Google wanted site owners to focus on. Yet, there are still so many sites and site owners who don’t know what ‘schema.org’ is, including what they need and why. At this point, Google is even simply posting even more bluntly titled content like this piece “Best practices for mobile-first indexing”, so again, are you ready?
I like to joke that Google is a “’content” producer that also runs the world’s most successful search engine. That stated, to me it isn’t really a joke. Google publishes more content than almost any site on the web. It is published to provide clues for those paying attention, but also to satisfy the user-intent of all business owners. This all should have been in the knowledge banks of anyone with ‘online’ or ‘ecommerce’ or, let’s be honest, any executive that is overseeing a business that operates online, from the c-class down to the managers. This is the time to truly understand and evaluate whether your Marketing Team and/or Executive Team is worth the salaries or, maybe it is the fault of the organization due to not keeping your folks in-touch with what you have them for. Figure it out. Fix how your organization gets market knowledge, especially general knowledge like this. Contact Vizion Interactive today and let us look to see if you are ready, after all, you got a month…maybe 3 to have everything ready for ‘mobile-first’ indexation.
Search engine optimization (SEO) is one of the most important aspects of doing business today. As such, it deserves attention from experienced SEO professionals. Trusting your brainchild with just any SEO consultant can be a big mistake. You worked hard to create your brand – don’t let a rookie or inexperienced mid-level consultant make poor decisions. Your consultant should build your progress, not obstruct it. Learn how to tell expert professional SEO consultants apart from the novices, for the benefit of your business.
Why Hire Professional SEO Consultants?
If you’re a new startup or modest small business, it can be tempting to hire cheaper, less experienced SEO consultants. If this is all that your budget allows, it’s still better than no SEO professional at all. Many people start with freelancers and work their way up to actual SEO agencies. Yet spending the extra money on a trusted professional to begin with can shorten your timeline to success. This practice can eliminate the risk of a clumsy SEO rookie harming your brand rather than helping it and get you started on the right foot.
Googling SEO best practices will only get you so far. You need a specialist to take your efforts to the next level and compete with top brands in your industry. Finding the right SEO agency to help is an extremely valuable asset to your company. Hiring a professional right from the beginning can save you time and allow you to focus on aspects of business you prefer, such as your product or customers. If you don’t like or understand SEO work, your time is better spent handling other matters. Let a team of experienced professionals do the legwork.
Going with a professional over a rookie will drive more optimal returns. If you’re sick of your webpage not ranking on the first page of Google web results, you need an SEO professional. A real SEO site audit can reveal invaluable information about where your site needs improvement. Working with qualified consultants will fix these holes and correct technical issues in a flash. If you’re a business owner who likes to do things right the first time around, go with an established, reputable senior SEO professional. What Sets a Senior SEO Professional Apart from a Rookie?
Distinguishing established SEO professionals from the rookies isn’t hard if you know what to look for. There are advantages you’ll notice professional SEO consultants possess that rookie and mid-level consultants lack. In one conversation with a professional agency, you’ll recognize the factors that make it a notch above its peers. Here are three signs that the consultant you’re working with is an A-level professional:
History of success. Browse the consultant’s website for SEO case studies, testimonials, reviews, and success stories. Look for a portfolio that can give you an idea of what the agent has achieved. Don’t just take the consultant’s word for it that he or she has gotten real results – ask for proof. Senior professionals won’t have a problem fulfilling this request.
Variety of services. A rookie or mid-level consultant may not have the training or experience to handle a wide range of services. Instead, he or she may specialize in just one facet of search engine optimization. Look instead for professional SEO consultants who have the ability to take on any issue your site may encounter. The service list should have more than one or two options.
Honest and open communication. Established and successful SEO consultants won’t need to hide behind smoke or curtains. They will give you the information you request up front, and be completely transparent about how they will handle your project. If you can’t get a straight answer out of your consultant, chances are he or she is a rookie – or worse, a scam.
There are plenty of other factors that make up a good SEO consultant. Ultimately, go with your gut. Contact the consultant or agency and see how your initial conversation makes you feel. Determine whether you’re on the same page as the company and if your goals are aligned. You may be working with the SEO consulting firm you choose for months, so you want to feel good about the decision you make. Find the Right SEO Consulting Service for You
Not all SEO consulting services are created equal. There are distinctions not only between professionals and mid-level specialists but also among the other elements at an agency as well. Finding the perfect fit for your brand takes a bit of research. Find a few different SEO consulting services that offer what you’re looking for. This might be simple search engine optimization or more in-depth services like digital marketing and link building.
Browse each company’s website, read testimonials, and look at past projects. After reading about a consultant enough or speaking with him or her over the phone, you should have an idea of whether you’ll mesh well together. A solid, highly regarded SEO professional will come across as such from the first time you speak.
It’s Tool Tip Tuesday, and what more exciting tips than the ones straight from the folks at Google themselves? I recently wrote a piece for Search Engine Journal looking back at Google’s Vince update and thought I’d share it with you today. Feel free to share your comments below!
There is little more exciting than the release of an algorithm update from Google. This dramatic story commonly begins with chatter among SEO professionals over ranking fluctuations, a message announcement from Google, a collective freak-out from the search community, followed by deep data dives and a communal conversation on why Google has again seemed to shake up the search landscape.
Nonetheless, it allows us to reflect years later and review why the algorithmic update happened.
Did we see it coming? How did it change SEO? And did it lay the groundwork for future algorithmic updates?
Find out the answers to those questions and more inn my full post on Search Engine Journal.
As a business owner in 2017, know that your website speed can be a killer. Countless studies have proven the importance of download speed to overall user experience and satisfaction. One Kissmetrics report found that 40% of shoppers will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. You could lose almost half of your potential customers with below average download speeds. Luckily, there is a tool that can help you analyze your speeds and make improvements – Google PageSpeed Insights. About the PageSpeed Insight Tool from Google PageSpeed Insights analyzes websites based on URLs that users input. It measures the performance of a site in terms of mobile and desktop use, fetching the URL through two different user agents. It determines whether the page has applied the speed rules and best practices and gives it a score depending on how the site stacks up. The score ranges from 0 to 100, with 100 being the best. The tool will give a score based on the following standards:
Number of landing page redirects
Whether or not compression is enabled
Server response time
Browser caching leveraging
Optimized CSS delivery
The priority of visible content
The use of asynchronous scripts
In general, websites should avoid plugins, use legible font sizes throughout, and have viewports configured for maximum usability. The PageSpeed Insight tool will lower the grades of sites that do not abide by the accepted standards for modern mobile and desktop websites. As these standards change, website administrators will need to update their sites for the most recent SEO best practices. Keep checking your PageSpeed score periodically to make sure you’re still on top of the latest requirements.
Interpreting Your Google PageSpeed Insights Results
Don’t obsess about receiving a 100/100 score. A less-than-perfect score isn’t the end of the world. It doesn’t necessarily mean your website is suffering due to subpar speeds. It’s impossible for sites to get perfect scores in some situations – especially WordPress sites with several external scripts or multipurpose themes. It’s okay to not make 100 percent. The Insights tool uses three main categories to judge a website: good, needs work, and poor. As long as your site ranks in the “Good” category, you shouldn’t worry too much about your exact score.
“Good,” or a score of 85 and higher, means that your website contains most best practices and delivers a good user experience. There may be room for improvement but, overall, your site performs pretty well. “Needs work” is a yellow flag that means you should consider a revamp. Your page may be missing some common optimizations that are resulting in slower download speeds and a worse user experience. The tool will provide recommendations for what to change to improve your score. Ignoring a “Needs work” score could bode badly for your brand and lead to preventable lost business in the long run.
A “poor” score on Google PageSpeed Insights is a red flag for website performance. It means your website failed on both parameters: time to complete an above-the-fold load and time to complete a full page load. You may see several recommendations with the red exclamation point icon. Fixing these issues could significantly impact your page performance. Look at a “poor” rating as an urgent business concern. A perfect grade might not be necessary, but you should at least strive for a “good” rating. Address each yellow- or red-flagged recommendation on your score sheet systematically, and watch your score improve.
How Important Is Your PageSpeed Insights Score?
Google PageSpeed Insights is meant for just that – to provide insights on how your website performs in terms of loading speeds. Its purpose is not to penalize your site or make you believe you’re losing customers due to inefficiencies. The majority of websites will not receive a 100/100 score. A less-than-perfect grade does not mean you should worry about your page’s performance. Some of the recommendations your report will feature are impossible or unrealistic for your site. There may also be inconsistencies – for instance, PageSpeed removes points for CDNs, yet a CDN can improve speed for international visitors.
In some instances, the time and effort you’ll spend addressing a recommendation is not worth the outcome. For example, say you lost a point for failing to optimize an image. If compressing the image will only save a miniscule byte of data, it may not increase your score. Don’t waste time worrying about every single recommendation your Insights report highlights. Pay attention to red flag indicators, but know when to dismiss suggestions that do not apply to your particular website.
Google PageSpeed Insights is not the end-all solution for page speed analyzers. Alternatives exist that may give reveal more information about the performance of your page. Like Insights, most of these features are free. A few examples are the KeyCDN Speed Test, Pingdom Website Speed Test, and GTMetrix. Many site managers and SEO experts use more than one speed test for a comprehensive overview of site performance. Play around with a few different tools before getting too stuck on your Google PageSpeed results.