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Just about everyone wants a chance to rank highly on Google. After all, this is usually the easiest way to get in touch with potential customers and leads. However, reaching that goal can sometimes seem impossible, and consistently adding content to your site might not always be feasible.

Thankfully, Google offers a variety of tools to help boost your rankings that don’t involve writing another keyword-rich blog post. Below, we’ll discuss a few opportunities to consider that can help you achieve higher organic search results.

1. Google Maps

If your business is a local service or has a brick-and-mortar location, achieving a coveted spot in the Google Maps “three-pack” is a pretty big deal. This means that your contact information and website link will show up in the first three Google Maps spots when a person searches for a specific local solution. To increase your chances of securing this ranking, be sure to claim and optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing, a public profile that displays important information about your organization.

Why This Matters

Google Maps is one of the first things people see when they look for a specific business within their local area. If you aren’t listed, it makes it much more difficult for customers to find you. Furthermore, there’s a good chance that your competitors are already using this method, so you must follow suit to ensure your potential leads aren’t going straight to them.

How to Implement This in Your Strategy

Adding your organization to Google Maps is relatively simple. First, you’ll need to sign up for a Google My Business account. Then, you can add your company by searching it on the GMB website and choose whether you want your location to appear on Google Maps. After adding in the requested information, such as your business category, you’ll need to verify your identity to Google (either by mail, phone, or email).

2. FAQ Schema Markup

Another option is called FAQ schema markup. This should be added anywhere there is a question and corresponding answer on your website. When someone searches that question, the special code allows for a portion of the answer to show up in search results. In short, this can be a valuable way to score added traffic.

Why This Matters

One of the easiest ways to connect with your audience is to position yourself as a knowledgeable leader in your industry. Using these schema markups, you are making it easy for Google users to see that you have answers related to what they want to know. This puts you in a prime trust position when they’re ready to make a purchase or invest in your services.

How to Implement This in Your Strategy

To start using FAQ schema, you’ll first need to write and publish question-and-answer style content. You should format the text so that the question is in bold or uses a header tag. Then, you’ll need to insert the schema markup, which requires a bit of HTML knowledge. Here is the official explanation of how to do this from Google’s developer site.

3. Other Google Snippets

Of course, it isn’t just Google Maps and FAQs that achieve the upper level in Google search results. Other snippets happen when content is deemed informative and valuable. While there isn’t a way to do this on your own, the easiest method is to continue to add engaging content regularly and keep track of what’s working well.

Why This Matters

Again, this goes back to positioning yourself as a leader in your industry. Google uses snippets all the time, so it’s crucial that internet users see your content – not your competitors’. Therefore, you need to secure as many snippets as possible to maintain visibility on search engine results pages (SERPs).

How to Implement This in Your Strategy

There are a variety of strategies to optimize for certain Google snippets. For example, using H2 and H3 tags or highlighting top learning points in your text can really help. Again, this comes down to publishing high-quality content on a regular basis.

4. Google Discover

Another great tool to consider utilizing as a part of your Search Engine Optimization strategy is Google Discover. While there’s no way to control whether or not your website is featured, there are a few things you can do to increase your chances. First, make sure the content you create is centered around a specific key entity, which is the term Google uses to describe particular interest groups. Next, create blog posts and articles for your website that are generally time-sensitive. Google Discover only includes content on what’s happening now and for a short period of time.

Why This Matters

More than ever, people are turning to the internet to stay connected with what is going on in the world. By looking up topics on Google Discover and publishing content on your website that could be featured, you’ll put yourself in front of a wider audience. In the end, this equates to higher traffic and more potential for leads.

How to Implement This in Your Strategy

Take a look at Google Discover to see where other businesses in your niche are featured or identify specific trends. Then, publish content on your website that includes these categories or topics.

How Do You Decide Which Tools to Implement?

With so many different ways to use Google to increase your organic search rankings, choosing the best strategies can be somewhat overwhelming. That’s why it’s important to work with a digital marketing partner you can trust. These experts can help you cut through the noise and determine which additional steps to take—or skip—to improve your overall ranking and increase traffic. Best of all, they usually have a whole list of other tips to get your entire marketing plan on the right path, which often means the difference between success and spinning your wheels.

 

Author Bio
Alyssa Anderson is the Content Manager at Zero Gravity Marketing (ZGM), a digital marketing agency in Madison, CT. ZGM is known for developing overarching marketing strategies and specializes in Pay-Per-Click (PPC), Search Engine Optimization (SEO), Content Marketing, Social Media, Development, Design, and eCommerce services.

 

As most of us (hopefully) know, one of the greatest problems facing our planet today is pollution. Tons of carbon emissions and immense trash heaps drown the environment, and this problem only increases with the population. We continue to create more and more waste, and fail to find an effective way to manage it.
But what does this have to do with Google search results?
Well, there is another kind of waste hiding beneath the headlines, impacting our daily lives: digital waste. This “digital waste” clouds up our search results, inhibiting us from finding the answers we need.
Google uses a variety of highly complex algorithms, with simple and often adorable code names (like Panda or Pigeon) to bring us results for each query we make. Googlebot constantly crawl public websites and add them to the system index. These sites are ranked on many factors to determine where they appear in the results page. The most important factors include technical aspects, popularity of the site, quality of the content, and age of the site. Google’s algorithms mostly produce accurate, relevant results from authoritative and trusted websites, and everyone’s happy. However, in specific types of searches this system fails, leaving us with stale results, feeling frustrated.

What are stale results?

Stale results pop up when the older, authoritative sites are shown by Google, even when they are offering outdated, maybe even inaccurate information.

Let’s look at some examples.
Here you would like to know the shortcut for taking a screenshot on your mac computer, so you search “how to screenshot on mac.”

 

 

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Earlier this year Google began including AMP listings into its mobile search results. AMP, short for Accelerated Mobile Pages, is a specification for creating slimmed down pages for mobile devices. It’s a subset of standard HTML but with restrictions. In addition, Google caches AMPs on its own CDN to provide the fastest retrieval possible. Any AMPs appearing in Google Search results are linked to these cached pages.

You may be asking yourself why we need such a thing when mobile phones are already capable of displaying “ordinary” websites. It’s a good question, and admittedly that was my first question when I first learned of AMP. The AMP project says the purpose of AMP is to give mobile users a better, faster web experience. But what’s wrong with the current user experience on mobile phones? Is it really bad enough to warrant an entire new web page specification when we already have HTML 5?

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A Federal judge has allowed a lawsuit to move forward against Google clearing the first hurdle in actually bringing the suit to trial.  The company e-ventures Worldwide LLC (a search engine optimization company) is alleging that Google Inc. has improperly censored search results for “anti-competitive, economic” reasons. (more…)

As confirmed over on the Webmaster Tools blog yesterday, Google is implementing a new change to their algorithm, this time focusing new penalties on something called “Doorway Pages.”

Google - New Doorway PenaltyWhat are doorway pages you may ask?  Google explains it like this:

“For example, searchers might get a list of results that all go to the same site. So if a user clicks on one result, doesn’t like it, and then tries the next result in the search results page and is taken to that same site that they didn’t like, that’s a really frustrating experience.”

Basically over time in an effort to maximize their search footprint, a number of online sites have created various doorway campaigns using either the creation of many different pages on a site, a number of different domains, or a combination thereof.

If you are wondering about any of your current campaigns, make sure they don’t fall into any of these categories: (more…)

For awhile we have known that speed is an important factor in Search Ranking but over the last week we have seen an interesting notification for this being tested.  As reported on SearchEngineLand, Google has been testing a bright red “Slow” warning that can be found in Search Engine Results Pages (SERP) for sites that are slower than normal.  This way users can be warned that clicking the link will result in a slow page load time. (more…)

As you may know we recently re-branded our company and along with creating a new name, website, and logo – we also had to change all of our social media pages / URL’s to reflect the new company name.

Thankfully these days most of the popular social media sights have special tools designed just for this purpose and I will walk you through a few of them. (more…)

UPDATE 10/19: Google has confirmed the rollout of Penguin 3.0

I’ve only got one anecdote to support my suspicion, but a client who was a victim of Negative SEO lost all of their top 10 rankings, and as of today they are all back 100%!

Google Penguin Update

Photo Credit: omoscowonder.com

Backstory: This client  hired us  in December 2013 to figure out why their rankings and organic traffic had dropped overnight on Oct 5, 2013 (date of the last Penguin update).  We analyzed their back links using a variety of tools and didn’t take us long to discover they had been a victim of negative SEO.  We found over a period of 3 months there were random spammy links added to their site to the tune of about 20,000 links a month!  They had never done their own link building nor hired an SEO. Other than these links they had a very small link profile, with just natural links and only a few.

Because the rankings and traffic did drop right in line with the Penguin update, and there were no warnings in Webmaster Tools of a manual penalty, we knew this was an algorithmic penalty associated with these links.

It took us about 3 months to discover and disavow these links, and the reason why is interesting. The links were not showing up on the page every time – they would only occasionally show up upon a refresh.  Each refresh of these spam pages was filled with about 100 random links, and each refresh showed a new 100 links.  So any link checker would find the links some times, but not other times. We had no choice but to continue to run a link checker, 3 different link checkers as a matter of fact, about 1x a week.  Each time we would discover new links that we hadn’t disavowed yet.  It was a brilliant sneaky black hat SEO attack.

By around February, we were confident we had disavowed about 90% of the spam links. But no recovery.

As we have all learned since then, a site must wait on Google to update the Penguin algorithm before any changes in rankings or recovery can take place. Unfair? Absolutely. Especially in the case of Negative SEO, which is real and does work.  And in this case it took Google over a year to update Penguin.  Imagine us reassuring this client that as soon as Google runs their update, their rankings will be back. “When will that be?” “Uh, Google won’t tell anyone, should be within 3 more months”.

In the meantime, we worked hard on content marketing, blogging for the client, getting high quality content published on their site and blog, building out Google Local pages, hoping that when the update hit, their site would be stronger than ever.

SUCCESS!  ALL of their previous important keywords are back to the top 10, as of today October 18, 2014. Some of them even higher!

We are torn between being thrilled and being sickened that Google can allow something like this to happen.

 

SEOMoves - Content MarketingWith Google and other search engines increasingly trying to ‘humanize’ their algorithms so that their preference of websites reflects that of their physical users, there has never been a more important time than now for website owners to make sure that the content they use is fully up-to-scratch.

It is no secret to anybody that Google is a bit of a bookworm, with its head of webspam Matt Cutts frequently using his Webmaster Central vlog to point out that, while intelligent use of images, infographics, videos, and audio files helps a website’s ranking, the search engine is still hungriest of all for text.

Content should be viewed as the bricks and mortar of your site. If you view your website in the same way as your house, of course you want it to look pretty and stand out on your street, but there’s no point doing that if it’s made of sponge bricks and uses porridge as mortar. Nobody would want to visit such a house more than once, and it would fail in its purpose. Aesthetic features on your site should be there to accentuate its solid foundation of content – not in place of it.

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SEO Moves - Google Adwords LogoAdwords by Google is a proven way to generate traffic, leads, and sales. It is a tool that some marketers are using on a regular basis to drive business goals. While there are a few using this tool to great effect, several more are striking out and in the process, throwing a lot of money out the window. Having success with Adwords calls for you to take the same approach you take to generating visibility for your organic content — optimize. However, the actual steps to optimization are a bit different in this arena.

1. Learn to Bid and Budget

Understanding how to bid and budget your funds is crucial to Adwords success. Spending $20 a day may appear to be the way to go for cost-conscious advertisers, but a budget that low will also limit your ability to profit. Likewise, bidding low initially can save you some money, but it might not get you very many clicks. While you don’t want to spend beyond the budget, you also don’t want to limit your potential, so learning how to manage your funds in accordance to the ad platform is key.

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