How Website Speed Can Make or Break Your Online Reputation
The easy access to information via smartphones has empowered Canadian consumers to make decisions faster than ever before, and they want to act upon these decisions straight away.
Any hurdles in accessing information such as slow load time of your website can negatively affect your online reputation.
Rise of Smartphone Use
According to Statista, 62.37% of the population in Canada used a smartphone in 2016. The Statista 2016 data showed:
A Google report showed that 82% of smartphone owners used a search engine as the initial step to gratify at least one of their needs.
According to Google, Canadians, in particular, use a search engine at the exact time they want something. This means that they’re more likely to be loyal to their needs than to any brands or products that they’ve used before.
An example of this demand to satisfy one’s need on-the-spot is the rise the search phrase “open now”. The search giant reported that search interest in the keyword phrase “open now” has increased 3 times since 2015.
Expectation to Get Products & Services Immediately
With the rise in smartphone usage, consumers’ expectation to get the products and services they need as soon as possible has also increased.
Canadian consumers, according to Google, aren't any more willing to wait even for a few days for their orders to arrive. They want to get the products or services as soon as possible. The tech giant reported that searches for the keyword phrase “same day shipping” has grown by 160% since 2015.
The Need to Know Where to Get Products & Services
Google research showed that consumers are using their smartphones as “anywhere” assistants, turning to their phones in search of stores where they can visit to get what they want prior to leaving the house – a phenomenon that renders store browsing close to oblivion.
According to Google, over the past 2 years, mobile searches for keywords “where to shop” and “where to buy” have increased by more than 100%.
Speed Equals Revenue
Whether your website visitor is a plan-ahead type, impromptu type or that last-minute type, each of these visitors all want the same experience: they want to get the information they want right here and right now.
The basic website load time can either make or break your brand reputation.
SOASTA’s report "The State of Online Retail Performance" released in Spring 2017 found the following key insights regarding site load time:
Google, for its part, reported that the average time it takes to fully load a mobile landing page is 22 seconds. Fifty-three percent of mobile site visitors, however, according to Google, abandon a site if it takes more than three seconds to load.
More than half of the overall web traffic, Google reported, comes from mobile. Despite this traffic lead, mobile falls behind desktop in terms of conversion rates.
Google researchers analyzed 900,000 mobile ads' landing pages in 126 countries. The researchers found that bulk of these mobile sites are slow and stuffed with too many features.
"Our research has been eye-opening,” said Daniel An, Global Product Lead, Mobile Web at Google. “For 70% of the pages we analyzed, it took nearly seven seconds for the visual content above the fold to display on the screen, and it took more than 10 seconds to fully load all visual content above and below the fold.”
You can check how your website fared in terms of speed at Test My Site – a free service offered by Google that analyzes your website in terms of speed and usability.
According to Google, these two are the top factors that affect site loading: number of site elements and number of images.
Researchers at Google said the high number of site elements results in greater site's weight and complexity. A typical webpage today, the researchers said, weighs 2,486KB and holds nearly 100 assets hosted on dozens of different servers – issues that contribute to slow loading.
The second factor that contributes to the slow loading of a page, the researchers said, is the high number of images. A typical page can contain logos, favicons and product images that can easily add up to two-thirds of a page's total weight – equivalent to hundreds of kilobytes. This results in cumulatively slow page loads throughout a session, the researchers said.
Reducing the number of elements and reducing the number of images in your site can make your site load faster.
Google researchers also found that webpages that have more images and other elements result in fewer conversions.
To speed up your site, a mere compression of images and text can make a big difference. Thirty percent of webpages, according to Google, could save more than 250KB through this simple process.
"It's no secret that shoppers expect a fast mobile experience,” An said. “If there's too much friction, they'll abandon their cart and move on. Today, it's critical that marketers design fast web experiences across all industry sectors. Consumers want to quickly pay bills on finance sites, get rapid results when they're browsing vacation reviews, and view an article immediately when they click through.”
Is Your Brand Ready for Voice Search?
As the market for speakers with personal assistants heats up, voice search intensifies as well.
Smart Speaker Market
Even before Google entered the smart speaker market, Google CEO Sundar Pichai said in the middle of 2016 that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches.
In late 2016, Google joined the smart speaker market with its smart speaker called “Google Home”. This market was initially dominated by another tech giant Amazon with its smart speaker called “Echo”. Google Home’s personal assistant is called “Google Assistant”; Amazon Echo’s personal assistant is called “Alexa”.
Almost every tech company that has personal assistant like Microsoft (Cortana), Apple (Siri), and Samsung (Bixby) is developing a smart speaker. Just recently, Chinese internet giant Baidu unveiled its smart speaker called "Raven H". According to Gartner, worldwide spending on virtual personal assistant (VPA)-enabled wireless speakers will reach $2.1 billion by 2020, up from $360 million in 2015.
"A significant number of households could therefore have more than one unit, or even one per room," said Werner Goertz, research director at Gartner. "With smaller form factors, price erosion over the years and potential subsidization models, we expect that 75 percent of households with VPAs will have one, 20 percent will have two, and five percent will have three or more devices by 2020."
According to MindMeld, 61% of users had adopted intelligent voice assistants in the 12 months prior to October 2015. MindMeld found that the popularity of voice assistants has grown due to the hands-free feature, enabling many to do other tasks, in addition to conducting hands-free online search and online shopping as well.
The total global sales of smart speakers in 2017 is expected to reach 4 million units, with an estimated 60% of all smart speakers sold this year will run on Amazon’s Alexa platform, while Google’s Assistant will account for 20% of the sales, according to Strategy Analytics.
How Will Smart Speakers Change Consumer Behaviors
The widespread adoption of personal assistant-enabled speakers could result in an increase of online shopping orders initiated from a smart speaker instead of a laptop or mobile device, Gartner projected.
With Google Home, for instance, you can shop everyday essentials – from food supplies to toiletries. Shopping via Google Home can be done from participating Google Express retailers like Walmart, Whole Foods Market and Whole Foods Market.
To shop via Google Home, you only have to say, for instance, “Ok, Google, order paper towels.” Setting up the shopping feature of Google Home can be done by going to the Google Home app, navigating to “More settings” and then scrolling down to “Payments.” From there, default credit card and delivery address can be set-up.
Google markets its personal assistant-enabled speaker to “understand your context – location, device you’re using, etc.” It currently understands English, French, Brazilian Portuguese, Japanese and Korean.
According to Google, if, for instance, you decide to visit Vancouver, you can ask Google Assistant these questions:
Check the weather: “Ok Google, what’s the weather in Vancouver?”
Check flight schedule: “Ok Google, show me flights to Vancouver on Saturday”
Choose an adventure: “Ok Google, what should I do in Vancouver?”
Places to eat: “Ok Google, what are the best restaurants in Vancouver.”
"Vendors that are able to create an intimate, familiar relationship with the user will be able to contextualize ordering to the extent that preferred products will be proposed, and processing details will already be captured,” Gartner said. “As a result, the user's propensity to purchase products and services using VPA systems should increase, transactional friction could be reduced and the overall user experience would be improved."
How to Prepare Your brand for Voice Search
Given that voice search is a growing trend, here are some tips to prepare your brand for this technological advancement:
1. “Sounds Like” Issue
Comedian John Oliver and his staff created parody websites of the three major credit reporting companies EquifacksDOTcom for Equifax, experianneDOTcom for Experian and tramsonionDOTcom for TransUnion.
“It would clearly be a horrible thing if these actual companies were mistaken for these fake companies. But don’t worry – 95 percent of the time, that won’t happen. And apparently that’s good enough, right?” Oliver said.
While the parody websites of the 3 major credit reporting companies tried to get the message across that millions of people have their reputation tarnished because of major errors on their credit reports as a result of mistaken identity, this parody also showed that variations in pronunciation can affect voice search.
In voice search, take into consideration the variations in pronunciation for your brand name or key search terms. Add these variations of pronunciation to your keyword optimization strategy.
2. Rise in Longer-Tail Searches
In the last 2 years, there has been a rise of longer-tail searches. When people search online by typing words on their computers or mobile phones, shorter keywords are words. But in voice search, people tend to use longer-tail searches. For instance, if one wants to visit Vancouver, one may type in the search words “things to do Vancouver”. In voice search, people tend to use natural language like “What should I do in Vancouver”.
To improve your brand’s visibility via search results, ensure that you offer the closest answer to the voice query.
3. Question-Based Search Phrases
In voice searches, the queries tend to be in the question formats. Questions that start with the word “what” are fairly common. While voice queries expressed in question format may not immediately convert into sales, content that answers these questions could improve brand’s engagement and goodwill.
Anticipate the questions of your consumers by researching the most commonly asked questions about your brand or product and try to optimize answers for the natural language query version.
Artificial intelligence is now a reality within our midst through personal assistants like Assistant (Google), Alexa and Siri. Tech giants like Google, Amazon, Apple and Baidu are continually optimizing their virtual personal assistants to better understand the natural language of humans. Don’t allow your brand to be left behind this modern way of reaching out to your customers – via voice search.
How to Reach Last-Minute Shoppers this Holiday Season
Mobile shopping might have given shoppers the opportunity to shop early for the holiday season, but this technological innovation hasn’t changed consumers’ old habit of procrastination.
It’s never too late to launch your online campaign for last-minute shoppers. According to Google, holiday shoppers redouble their online search to find stores open nearby once it’s already too late to ship.
Here are the top 3 approaches to reach out to last-minute shoppers this holiday season:
1. Target Relevant Keywords
Let’s take a look at the search words used by holiday shoppers as compiled by Google itself.
Use of Broad Search Words
While majority of consumers have something specific in mind when they use Google search, more than 40% of searchers still use broad terms like "living room furniture” or "women's athletic clothing".
Use of “Where to buy” Search Words
In the last 2 years, mobile searches for the keywords “where to buy” have grown more than 85%. Examples of these searchers include “where to buy gift boxes”, “where to buy cards” and “where to buy ugly Christmas sweater”.
On Christmas Eve of 2016, mobile searches for “where to buy Hatchimals”, “where to buy NES classic”, “where to buy Cards Against Humanity” and “where to buy coal” rose. The “where to buy” searches specifically peaked from Dec. 18 to Dec. 23 after the shipping cutoff.
Use of “[Fill in the blank] brands” Search Words
While shoppers have something in mind to buy, they’re open to different brands. During the 2016 holiday season, mobile searches for “[fill in the blank] brands” increased. Examples of these keywords include “makeup brands” (up by 150%), best purse brands” (up by 140%) and “men’s watch brands” (up by 70%).
Use of “Store hours” Search Words
Mobile searches for “store hours” also peaked on Christmas Day 2016, with top searches including “what grocery stores are open on Christmas”, “what stores are open near me on Christmas,” and “what stores are open right now.”
“[fill in the blank] to avoid” and “is [fill in the blank] worth it” Search Words
Consumers don’t only want to know about particular items, they also want to know what specific items or products to avoid. According to Google, mobile searches for “[fill in the blank] to avoid” have increased by 150% over the past two years, while mobile searches for “is [fill in the blank] worth it” have increased by more than 80% in the past two years.
The keywords provided by Google are just general guidelines of what holiday shoppers want. In choosing the best keywords for your online campaign, it’s important to make the keywords relevant to local searchers. Based on a Google study, 4 in 5 consumers conduct their online search with their location and proximity in mind.
2. Target Mobile Phone Users
Google has offered marketers the following relevant numbers about mobile-first shoppers:
A Google study showed that 76% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a local store within a day and 28% of those searches resulted in a purchase.
3. Use Omni-Channel Approach
A 2015 to 2017 study by YouTube – video sharing platform owned by Google – showed that “shop with me” videos have grown in popularity, with watchtime rising more than 10 times in the last 2 years on mobile alone. By watching these “shop with me” videos by random YouTubers, consumers tapped the opinion of others in deciding whether to visit your store or not.
The YouTube study also found that “store tour” videos have soared in popularity, with watchtime growing by over 10 times the past 2 years. With “store tour” videos, your customers can virtually explore your store prior to physically visiting the store.
Shoppers nowadays aren’t satisfied with text or still images alone. Consumers now want to know more about the product beyond the typical product specifications. This explains the amount of time spent watching those unboxing videos of mobile phones on YouTube. Consumers want to see videos about your products or your store. Videos may be time-consuming to make, but these compliment well with your other online campaign.
4. Use Pay-Per-Click (PPC) Ad Campaign
The best way to save time and find last-minute holiday shoppers is through PPC campaign, in particular, Google AdWords as Google enjoys the biggest market share in terms of mobile searches.
These Google PPC numbers tell the story:
“Ultimately, showing up gets your brand in the game to be chosen, not just seen,” Google said. “By being there, your brand has the chance to address consumer needs in the moment, help move someone along their decision journey ….”
Don't have time or resources? Our experts will help you grow this holiday season and beyond. Call us today (888) 807-6278
Here is how to Increase Web Traffic through Social Media
Worried that your organization’s website isn’t getting enough traffic? The answer may lie in social media platforms.
According to a report released in the 1st quarter of 2016 by analytics firm Parse.ly, social media – Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, StumbleUpon – drove more traffic to news sites (46%) than search engines (40%).
An earlier report from content marketing hubShareaholic showed that the top 8 social networks (Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, StumbleUpon, Reddit, Google+, LinkedIn and YouTube) drove 31.24% of the overall traffic to sites for the 4th quarter of 2014, up from 22.71% for the same period in the previous year.
Facebook is the dominant source of social media traffic.
According to Parse.ly, for the 1st quarter of 2016, the lion’s share of the traffic to news sites from social media came from Facebook (41.4%) and bulk of the traffic from search engines came from Google (39.5%).
According to Shareaholic, for the 4th quarter of 2014, one-fourth or 24.63% of the social referrals to sites around the web came from Facebook. Shareaholic, which tracked Facebook’s traffic referrals from 2011 to 2014, noticed a 277.26% increase, from only 6.53% in 2011. Behind Facebook, Pinterest came in as the 2nd top social media referral site (5.06%), followed by Twitter (0.82), StumbleUpon (0.50%), Reddit (0.15%), Google+ (0.04%), LinkedIn (0.03%) and YouTube (0.01%).
Unlike Parse.ly which focused on news websites traffic, Shareaholic sourced its data from diverse sites, including food, sports, parenting, tech, design, marketing, fashion and beauty, religion and general news.
According to nonprofit medical practice and medical research group Mayo Clinic, its top social media referral site to mayoclinic.org in the first quarter of 2017 was Facebook which accounted for 78% of the traffic from social media, followed by Twitter (7%) and StumbleUpon (6%). Mayo Clinic added that in the 1st quarter of 2017, Facebook was also its dominant social media referrer for appointment requests.
Penetration Rate of Social Media, Facebook in Canada
According to statistics portal Statista, as of January 2017, nearly 37% of the world’s population had an account on at least one of the social networks. In North America, approximately 66% has at least one social media account. In Canada, over 20 million people are expected to have a social media account by 2018, Statista projected.
According to Statista, global internet users spend an average of 118 minutes each day surfing social networks, while Canadians spend 107 minutes each day accessing social media from any device.
As with the rest of the world, tech giant Facebook is the most popular in Canada in terms of penetration, with three quarters of Canadians having an active account on this platform. Facebook is also the most visited social network via mobile, Pinterest taking the 2nd spot and Twitter taking the 3rd spot.
User base of Twitter in Canada is projected by Statista to grow from over 3.3 million in 2012 to 7.6 million users in 2020. The professional platform LinkedIn has the highest penetration rate, according to Statista, among residents in Alberta and British Columbia.
Given that Facebook has 1.32 billion daily active users on average and 2.01 billion monthly active users as of June 30, 2017, and given Facebook’s value as the dominant source of social media traffic, here are some strategies that you can use to drive Facebook traffic to your organization’s website:
1. Take Advantage of Facebook Links
In the About page, photo and video descriptions, comments (where relevant), make sure to include links back to your organization’s website.
It’s essential to include links back to your organization’s website in all social media pages of your organization, including Facebook, as social media sites are favored and have high ranking in search engines, including Google. If your organization hasn’t done much to the website, for instance, failing to regularly update the site via blog posts, and your organization has other social media pages, when people search your organization via search engines, links to these social pages show up higher than your website.
2. Provide Brief Quote or Excerpt from Blog Post
When posting links to blog posts, provide a brief quote or excerpt to give the readers a heads up what to expect when clicking on the link. Pick a portion of the blog post that best describes the topic. Use this as a way to entice the reader to click on the link to the blog post.
3. Post Frequently
According to Facebook, based on an experiment that it conducted with 29 media partners, increasing post volume by an average of 45% over a week resulted in a 76% increase in outbound clicks, 47% increase in fans and 10% increase in likes per post.
4. Upload Videos with a Call-to-Action
According to Facebook, more than 4 billion video views happen on Facebook each day. Post videos on your organization’s Facebook page. Be sure to add a call to action to your video to drive viewers to your organization’s website.
5. Use Facebook Ads
It’s a good practice to supplement your Facebook strategies with Facebook ads. Over the past few years, there has been a drop in “organic” or non-paid Facebook post reach. Your organization has no control on who views your Facebook posts. More often, this social media platform gives priority to posts that organizations paid for to be promoted. As it’s becoming increasingly hard for non-paid posts to get the needed exposure, the better option is to make use of the Facebook ads.
The focus must be driving traffic from social media platforms, not to social media platforms like Facebook. Remember that the role of your organization’s social media pages is only to supplement your organization’s site. This site is your very own – your organization has complete control over it. Your organization’s social media pages, on the hand, are only “rented”. Driving traffic to your organization’s site, not to social media pages ensures that if one of these social media platforms were to change its business model today or close its business, your organization still has a venue to engage with your audience.
When you need help generating more targeted web traffic, connect with us and we will be more than happy to help.
Why Business Listing Accuracy is Important
Business Name. Address. Phone number. These 3 – jointly called as “NAP” – are the holy trinity of information.
Your business name, address and phone number are of utmost importance for those who may plan to buy from your physical store or those who may want to contact your office prior to visiting your store.
An example of a business listing or business directory is Google My Business – a free business listing or directory offered by Google. This business directory integrates 3 Google products: Google Maps, Google Search and Google +. It allows consumers to find your business or organization’s contact details. It also shows your customers how to get to your store or office with its travel directions for a variety of transportation modes.
Benefits of Accurate Business Listings
Based on the Google-Oxera study (PDF), accurate business listings result in the following:
1. It can help your organization’s online reputation.
The Google-Oxera study showed that businesses whose listings are verified, specifically on Google My Business, are twice as likely to be considered “reputable” by consumers.
2. It saves time.
The Google-Oxera study revealed that consumers save 0.74 minutes per record when they see a verified business listing. The study estimates this time-saving consequence to be worth around $9 for each consumer over a year for every type of business they locate using Google.
3. It increases homepage clickthroughs.
The Google-Oxera further found that accurate business listing produces more consumers’ online activity. The study found that accurate business details generate at least 30% increase in homepage clickthroughs.
Prevalence of Inaccurate Basic Business Information
Inaccurate business names, addresses and phone numbers are prevalent on the internet. A Yext survey revealed that 65% of large businesses in the UK have incorrect addresses listed online. This problem isn’t limited to large businesses, as 67% of smaller businesses have incorrect addresses listed online. The inaccurate information doesn't stop there, according to Yext, as 33% of large organizations in the UK list incorrect phone numbers, and 61% of small businesses face the same problem.
A Mediative and Placeable (PDF) report showed that 80% of Canada's top retailers have inconsistent, inaccurate or missing basic business information online.
Negative Effects of Inaccurate Business Listings
1. Inaccurate business listings can drive away customers and contacts.
A Google and Ipsos MORI survey (PDF) revealed that 4 in 5 smartphone and computer/tablet users conduct local searches on search engines, specifically about local store address, directions to the local store and business hours.
The survey further revealed that 50% of consumers who conducted a local search on their smartphone visited a store within 24 hours, and 34% who searched on computer/tablet did the same. Despite the growth of online retail, therefore, the truth remains that offline spending on products and services aren’t losing ground.
Imagine a customer driving all the way to your supposed store address, only to find a notice that you’ve moved to a new address or said customer simply can’t locate your store as it’s the wrong address. Or picture a customer, who after finding your organization’s phone number online, contacts you with this number and said customer can’t contact your company because that number is an old one or the number is simply wrong.
The responses for these two scenarios are immediate: inaccurate address and phone number drive away would-be customers and contacts. Even your existing customers will turn their backs against your business if you don’t update your new address or phone number.
2. Inaccurate business listings result in financial losses.
According to the Mediative and Placeable report, if 5% or 100 branches of a 2,000-branch home improvement store with $57 average daily ticket, 5,000 local searches a month and a 1% click-through rate (CTR) have inaccurate phone numbers, it could mean an annual loss in revenue of $1.6M from customers who opt to shop elsewhere.
3. Inaccurate business listings can do damage to your business’ search engine optimization (SEO).
According to Moz’ 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors, the following inaccurate and missing business data negatively impacts your business’ SEO:
If search engines notice that your organization has incorrect and conflicting business addresses and phone numbers, your organization’s website is less likely to rank high on search results. The reason for this demotion is that search engines are simply trying to protect their reputation as well. If their search results show incorrect and misleading information, their customers would similarly leave them.
"Inadequate syndication of location data across the third party ecosystem leads to poor placement in search engine results and the loss of online site visits," the Mediative and Placeable report said.
The following factors are responsible for basic business data inaccuracies:
1. Change in Location and Phone Number
Inaccuracies of location and phone number can stem from a recent transfer to a new address or a change of phone number.
2. Typo Error
Many inaccurate business addresses and phone numbers are the results of typo error or mistakes in typing the words or numbers.
3. Substantial Number of Business Addresses and Phone Numbers
Specifically for large organizations – those with hundreds and even thousands of branches, manually ensuring that addresses and phone numbers are accurate can be burdensome.
4. Substantial Number of Business Listings
In today’s digital economy, your business name, address and phone number don’t appear on one site alone. Depending on your location and type of business, your organization may have to deal with hundreds of business listings within niche based categories. New sites could also pop-up anytime and existing sites could get your business name, address and phone number from several sources.
5. Lack of Time to Claim and Regularly Update Business Listings
Claiming a business listing like Google My Business takes time. Aside from Google My Business, there are other business listings that are equally as important like Bing Local, Facebook, Apple Maps and TripAdvisor.
Connect with us today and we will show a simple, automated way to keep your listings up-to-date, attract new customer, and win against competition.
How to Protect Your Organization’s Online Reputation from Negative SEO
Competition is healthy. To be on top of the game, some organizations though employ dirty tactics like the negative SEO.
What is Negative SEO
Search engine giant Google allows “white hat” search engine optimization (SEO) – defined as the legitimate ways of optimizing a site for search engines. What Google doesn’t allow are illegitimate ways of optimizing a site for search engines called “black hat” SEO.
Negative SEO falls under black hat SEO. Negative SEO is the act of sabotaging a competitor’s ranking in search engines. A competitor wanting to sabotage your ranking in search engines may build hundreds or thousands of spammy links to your website.
History of Spammy Links and Their Effects on Search Engine Results
A few years back, some organizations were able to successfully rank high on Google’s results by using spammy links. In early February 2011, the New York Times published an article that showed how J. C. Penney, an American department store chain, was able to successfully ranked number one on Google’s results for close to a dozen keywords by using spammy links.
To understand how J.C. Penney rose to the top of Google’s results, let’s understand how Google at that time ranked websites organically – not including paid advertisements.
In early February 2011, Google used hundreds of criteria for ranking websites in its search engine. These criteria are well-guarded secret by Google to prevent people from manipulating the search engine results. But one criterion used by Google to rank websites at the time was exposed and abused: links from one site to another.
At the time, links – regardless of their origin, whether from low quality sites or high quality sites – were considered by Google as votes of approval, listing sites with high number of links on top of its search engine results.
This happened to J.C. Penney. The New York Times report found that 2,015 pages with keyword “dress” bounced directly to the main page for dresses on JCPenney.com, making the company then the number one on Google’s search result for the keyword “dress”.
While some of these web pages were related to dresses, some weren’t. Sites such as nuclear.engineeringaddict.com; casino-focus.com; and bulgariapropertyportal.com were examples of sites with keyword “dress” that bounced directly to the main page for dresses on JCPenney.com in early February 2011.
Darcie Brossart, spokeswoman for J. C. Penney, told the New York Times, “J. C. Penney did not authorize, and we were not involved with or aware of, the posting of the links that you sent to us, as it is against our natural search policies.”
Few hours after the New York Times’ revelation, Google placed Penney under what it calls “manual action”, demoting the site, for instance, in the keyword “Samsonite carry on luggage” from its number one position to number 71; and in the keyword “living room furniture”, from number one to number 68.
In April 2012, Google rolled out “Penguin” – an update in its search engine criteria, affecting 3.1% of queries in English. The Penguin update, in effect, demoted sites with spammy links.
While the Penguin update halted the practice of organizations from building spammy links to rank higher on Google’s results, this update emboldened some unscrupulous organizations to bring down the search ranking of their competitors by using spammy links.
In spammy links, Google has no way of finding who created the links. What Google does in the 2012 Penguin update was to demote the site which supposedly benefited from the spammy links. Your competitors may link unrelated sites – worst cases are porn sites and other low quality sites – to your site.
In September 2016, Google rolled out an additional update on Penguin, this time, devaluing the link spam instead of demoting the site it is directed at.
Disavow Links Tool
In a blog post dated October 16, 2012, Matt Cutts, former head of the web spam team at Google, said that his team is aware of negative SEO. Cutts’ first recommendation to victims of negative SEO was then to contact the sites that link to your site and ask site owners to get these links taken off the public.
If the links aren’t taken down despite your request, Cutts’ then recommended the use of Google’s Disavow Links tool. “In general, Google works hard to prevent other webmasters from being able to harm your ranking,” Cutts’ said. “However, if you're worried that some backlinks might be affecting your site's reputation, you can use the Disavow Links tool to indicate to Google that those links should be ignored.”
Negative Effects of Spammy Links
Spammy links won’t immediately go away when you use Google’s Disavow Links tool. It takes days and in some cases months for spammy links to disappear from the search engine.
While the spammy links are still in limbo on the internet, these may affect the bounce rate of your website. Bounce happens when a visitor to your website only views one page and then leaves your site. Is a high bounce rate a bad thing? According to Google, bounce rate can either be good or a bad thing.
“If the success of your site depends on users viewing more than one page, then, yes, a high bounce rate is bad,” Google said. “On the other hand, if you have a single-page site like a blog, or offer other types of content for which single-page sessions are expected, then a high bounce rate is perfectly normal.”
Prevention is the Key
In dealing with negative SEO or spammy links, it’s important to be proactive. Use tools that automatically detect spammy links. Contact the site owner if you notice a spammy link. If this request is disregarded, use Google’s Disavow Links tool.
Remember that aside from spammy links, Google has more than 200 criteria as basis for ranking your organization’s website. “The web has significantly changed over the years, but as we said in our original post, webmasters should be free to focus on creating amazing, compelling websites,” Google said.
You don't have to do this alone if you don't have time or skills to spot and manage negative SEO. Our managed plans include toxic link monitoring and management as a standard feature. Call us today to protect your SEO.
Search Engine Statistics Every Business Needs to Know
Through the years, the world wide web has accumulated billions of webpages that compelled search engines, not just to search webpages but to display search results according to importance. There are more than 1 billion websites on the world wide web today.
In 2014, the number of websites worldwide reached the 1 billion mark, with the inventor of the world wide web Tim Berners-Lee announcing the big milestone. Afterward, the number went back to below 1 billion as a result of inactive websites. The 1 billion mark was reached again in March of 2016.
In the advent of the internet, anyone can add a document to the world wide web without telling anyone. A world wide web without search engines is similar to a library with billions of documents but without a librarian.
To determine the importance of every webpages, every search engines has its own algorithm which includes a number of criteria. Algorithms’ criteria are safely guarded by companies like Google as they don’t want people to manipulate the search engine results.
What is Search Engine
Search engine is a software program that search documents on the world wide web for specific keywords and returns a list of links or webpages where the keywords can be found. The search engine term is often associated with the top programs such as Google, Bing, Baidu, Yahoo, Ask and AOL.
Here are search engine statistics that every business needs to know:
Search engine is the most trusted source for general news and information.
The 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer revealed that search engine is the go-to place for people when they search for general news and information. Search engine is the number one most trusted media platform with 64% of the 2017 Edelman Trust Barometer survey respondents trusting it.
In the Edelman 2017 trust survey, traditional media is ranked as the second most trusted media platform, with 57% of the respondents trusting it. Online-only media is ranked third (51%); owned media is ranked fourth (41%), and social media is ranked as the fifth trusted form of media platform (41%).
Owned media refers to company-ran media platforms such as the company’s website and blog, while social media refers to social networking websites or mobile applications such as Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Google is the undisputed leader of search engines.
Every second, Google processes an average of over 40,000 search queries according to Internet Live Stats. This translates to more than 3.5 billion searches per day and 1.2 trillion searches each year worldwide.
Google is a search engine built in 1996 by two Ph.D. students at Stanford University Larry Page and Sergey Brin. When Google was launched in 1998, the search engine was only serving 10,000 search queries per day.
In terms of global desktop search engine market share, Net Market Share reported that for the period of June 2016 to June 2017, Google’s market share was 76.13%, followed by Bing (8.51%), Baidu (7.41%), Yahoo (6.32%), Ask (0.20%), AOL (0.08%) and Excite (0.01%).
In terms of global mobile/tablet search engine market share for the period of June 2016 to June 2017, Net Market Share reported that Google’s market share was 95.17%, followed by Yahoo (2.47%), Bing (1.04%), Baidu (0.46%), Ask (0.04%) and AOL (0.01%)
More Mobile Searches than Desktop Searches
For the period of June 2016 to June 2017, according to StatCounter, 53.18% of searches came from mobile and tablet, while 46.81% searches came from desktops.
Google, for its part, announced in 2015 that “more Google searches take place on mobile devices than on computers in 10 countries including the US and Japan.” Part of the reason that Google controls mobile searches is that it’s the default search engine of major phones such as Apple phones.
Consumer Search Behaviors
In 2014, Google commissioned research organizations Ipsos MediaCT and
Purchased® to understand consumers’ local search behavior. The Google-sponsored study found the following interesting insights:
1. When using search engines, people search with their location and proximity in mind.
2. Search engines influence searchers to take action.
In the case of car buyers, they spend up to 15 hours online researching, comparing and studying according to the 2013 Polk Automotive Buyer Influence Study commissioned by AutoTrader.com. Google’s internal data also showed that when people search online using their desktop for automobiles, they want to see visual presentations – pictures of their dream car. Google said nearly half of Google searches for cars contain images.
SEO can either stand for search engine optimization or search engine optimizer – a person or organization in charge of optimizing a website for search engines. Building a good online reputation requires a good understanding of SEO, especially for Google. While Google doesn’t publicly reveal how it comes up with search results, the search engine giant has provided some guidelines for optimizing a website for search engines.
Google suggests that if you’re looking to hire an SEO to improve your brand reputation, make sure the SEO use “whitehat” techniques, instead of “blackhat” techniques. Google said it’s vital to know the difference between these two techniques as blackhat SEO will essentially ruin your website and reputation.
Blackhat SEO is defined by Google as “Illicit techniques that manipulate search engines to try to rank a site higher are considered blackhat techniques that violate our Webmaster Guidelines.” An example of blackhat approach is buying or selling links. Instead of the blackhat approach, Google recommends for the “whitehat” approach – defined as “techniques aim to improve a site by focusing on the visitors instead of on ranking higher.” Examples of whitehat techniques include creating high-quality content.
When choosing an expert SEO provider, always make sure that they don't employ black hat SEO techniques, and only help you achieve desired results and secure more business through high-quality content.
Looking for an honest digital marketing agency? Connect with us today.
5 Local SEO Tips to Improve Your Business' Ranking
With all the benefits of using SEO, it's no wonder companies are investing heavily in digital content.
High search rankings lead to more inbound traffic, conversions, and increased business revenues.
They also help build your brand. And while online reviews & content marketing win every time, search ranking is also boosted by things you can do locally with your web page and content.
Keeping ahead of the game is an endless chore. It seems like once you have a digital marketing trick mastered the whole game changes.
The LA Times explains:
“Digital marketing is harder because you have to continually learn new tools and stay abreast of emerging trends, which feels like a never-ending uphill task"
Is there a way small to medium business owners can even compete with the big guns?
Something inexpensive, easy, and effective too?
The answer is simple: Local SEO tips.
Master our 5 local seo tips to improve your business' ranking and you'll be feeling the big dogs nipping at your heels in no time.
Let's find out what they are:
Reviews influence page rank up to 10% and increase website visits 25%.
Making sure you take care of reviews locally will boost you in the rankings.
2. Inbound Links Boost SEO
There's a lot Google won't tell you when it comes to increasing your rankings. Their algorithms are guarded like national security.
One thing they are upfront about, though, is this:
Inbound links will boost your site's SEO.
Doesn't sound like a local SEO tip?
The key to getting real inbound links is creating content people want to link to and share.
3. Write Great Content
Content creates clicks and shares.
Producing content is one of the best local SEO tips. The more content, the better.
Give Your Customers What They Want
70% of people say they’d rather learn about products through content rather than through traditional advertisements.
As long as it's relevant.
4. Trending Now: Ever Changing Local SEO Tips
Searching for topics to write about? Study the trends.
Google, Facebook, and a number of other tools allow you to study online trends. What's happening right now?
If you have something pertinent to say about the newest trend, get on it. These clicks mean boosting your rankings.
As long as it is relevant. Take it from The New York Times:
Though traditional print journalists might roll their eyes at picking topics based on Google searches, the articles can actually be useful for readers.
"The problem, analysts say, is when Web sites publish articles just to get clicks, without offering any real payoff for readers."
The same goes for keywords. Whether you're following a trend or talking about the goods and services, your keywords need to point to content that is relevant.
Putting It All Together
You focus on the goods and services your clients need. We can focus on the rest.
Did you know clients love Reputation Mart? The reasons why are simple.
We help businesses succeed.
We don't just protect your reputation. We enhance it.
Want your brand name across all online communities?
Looking to see your product or service above all in Google search results?
What is SEO, and How to Select the Right SEO Company
What is SEO?
Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is a multifaceted, scientific discipline. SEO is hard to do, and even harder to sustain. It must always align with the search engine rules. You are always walking a thin line, risking to lose free traffic to your website, overnight. It requires a lot of highly specialized skill sets that takes years to hone. Somehow, every corner of the Universe is filled with SEO “gurus” and “specialists”. If you are as skeptical as I am, you are probably right.
You see, I’ve been toying with SEO for over 20-years. It started as a hobby and slowly turned into paying gigs. Still, every day I learn something new. The more you experiment, the more you learn. Over the years, the concept of search engine optimization has not changed. The search engine rules did, a lot, making it harder and harder to keep the free traffic flowing to a small business website. Since larger businesses produce enough organic buzz to stimulate the free traffic, SMBs need to work extra hard to achieve similar results.
Can an SEO Company Guarantee Results?
A few years back, we could guarantee SEO results and deliver on our promises, 100%. Back then, major search engines embarked on a journey of hoarding the advertising revenues, and the changes to the search algorithms became more and more frequent. Don’t get me wrong, I understand why the changes are being implemented, and fully support search results relevancy, or at least their attempt to be as relevant as possible.
Despite every attempt to achieve search result relevancy, and billions of dollars spent on research and development initiatives, traditional consumer search is still far from perfect. That however, does not bother the major search engines as long as pay per click advertising revenues keep increasing, keeping the shareholders happy.
Now back to the SEO.. Relevancy is a tricky thing. You can have the best, most compelling website content in the world, yet you won't rank as high as you should in the search results unless you follow the search engine rules. When I say “follow”, I mean it. Google, as an example, published and keeps updating webmaster guidelines. Anyone who reads those guidelines, immediately fires their SEO guy in an attempt to save money and that’s where the trouble begins. Alright, I’ve exaggerated a little.
To conclude, if a SEO company guarantees fast results without hesitation, run, and run fast. Search Engine optimization is a long term strategy with many unknowns which are beyond the control of your business, your webmaster and/or the consulting company.
Dissecting Google Webmaster Guidelines
While Google’s guidelines are a great starting point for webmasters, it assumes that the webmasters reading the guidelines are very experienced, and have enough experience to understand the depth of Google’s messaging. For example, Google insists that link building in any way, shape or form is frowned upon. They also suggest that if you have unique, quality content, the Internet community will find and disseminate it organically. It would be true, if anyone would look for your content on page 10 of Google search results. Another example is using the keywords in your content that no one is searching for. Thanks Google, and good luck with that.
When you are starting out, or introducing a new product or service, search engines don’t want you to be on the first page getting a ton of free traffic. They want you to use pay per click advertising to generate more revenue for themselves. It’s their business model, and it won’t change anytime soon. In fact, pay per click traffic, while follows it’s own rules, is by far a more stable source in comparison to organic traffic.
The Best SEO Strategy
It appears that the best strategy for any business is to embrace a combination of organic and pay per click traffic. So, instead of giving up, you must optimize your website to be in line with Google’s guidelines. I would not recommend doing it on your own, unless you have the necessary expertise. How many times you have done a home improvement only to later realize that you should have hired a professional? You get the gist of it.
While solid, sustainable website optimization does rely on unique, high quality content, many SEO professionals got it down to a science. They also keep up with the latest changes implemented by the search engine, and react accordingly in a timely manner, to protect the flow of the free traffic to your website. The main issue business owners have is finding the right SEO “guy”.
Here is How to Select the Right SEO Company
The following may help your selection process:
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