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Search Engines

4 factors you didn’t realise were influencing search

We all know that Google’s algorithms influence search, but have you considered the other external factors that could impact how your customers find you?

When we talk, in the SEO sense, about search factors, very often we are referring to the guidelines laid down by the almighty Google that may (or may not) help your website to be found in search.  These include the content on your website and how relevant it is to what you are trying to sell, the backlinks pointing to your site and the authority of the referring domains and how you encrypt and code your website.

google search

These might be fairly obvious to those in digital marketing, or anyone who has had a website for some time and has employed an external company to optimise it for search.  What isn’t so obvious is that these are not the only things that are influencing search.

Here we explore four of the external factors that you may not realise are influencing how people might find your brand online:

Television

Brands running local or national television campaigns can expect to see an uplift in their website traffic during and after their ads have aired, as people go online to search for more information on the products or services they have just seen on TV.  However, this isn’t the only way in which television can influence search.  Consider the products that are endorsed by celebrities during programmes – it isn’t just these brands for whom awareness will be heightened but also for anyone offering a similar product or solution.  Doing your research in advance and knowing what’s coming up in the TV schedule may enable you to take advantage of this spike in awareness to ensure you’re in all the right places – i.e. with a prominent paid advertising campaign – when these viewers start searching.

Trends

In marketing, being aware of the latest trends is key if you are going to stay in touch with what your target audience wants.  Search is very much dictated by trends, as we often see language evolving so that certain words or terms fall out of favour with an audience.  Those keywords that you might have focused on five or ten years ago, may no longer be the terms people are using when searching for your products or services.  As the generations evolve, new slang creeps into our language and the mega brands dominate the way we think about everyday items, it’s only to be expected that the way we describe products or services may change.  TOP TIP – use Google Trends to see what terms are rising and falling in popularity so you can ensure your website, marketing and advertising campaigns capitalise on the latest lingo.

Mobile devices

Over the last ten years, mobile devices have probably had a bigger impact on search than anything (even Panda and Penguin I hear you ask?) because they have totally changed the way we consume media.  Whereas before we would have to be in front of a PC or television to be influenced by online marketing and advertising, it is now all around us as the powers of remarketing follow us on our journey through various apps and sites as we check the weather on our mobile phone or catch up on our favourite programmes on our tablets.

The most successful brands have adapted their marketing strategies to be ‘mobile first’ and are capitalising on this by ensuring that their websites can be found well for their most relevant search terms.  In short, not making your website structure, functionality and content mobile friendly will see Google put you bottom of the pile when it comes to search rankings.

Remember – Whilst many of us claim to find interruptive advertising offensive we also get very easily distracted by our mobile devices (and their various bleeping notifications), making the path to purchase anything but straightforward. Brands have a fine line to tread if they are going to catch us at the right time and in a receptive mood!

IoT and the growth of voice search

As the gadgets around us become more intelligent and the use of mobile devices continues to rise, the way that we search for the products and services we need also changes.  Many typical households nowadays would not find it strange to ask Alexa ‘what’s the weather forecast today?’, whilst many drivers will consider it the norm to use the integrated voice search facility in their vehicle to find the nearest takeaway on their way home.  The way that we search, now that we’re speaking more of our queries, means that search terms feature more natural language and are often presented in full sentences or questions rather than staccato phrases or words.  Smart brands who want to take advantage of this changing structure of search queries will need to optimise their websites to feature these phrases and to answer these questions.

So, as you can see, it isn’t just algorithms that are influencing search.  Sometimes it is the wider revolutions in society and technology that change the way people look for the solutions they need.  All you need to do, is make sure you keep up with the times.

Voice Search and the impact of the spoken word on SEO

Remember, back in the distant past, when we spoke about longer tailed search queries and how search was adapting to deal more efficiently with sentences rather than just staccato phrases or words? Remember when we heralded Google’s Hummingbird update and salivated at the thought of the juicy information we would receive in our Google Analytics accounts? We couldn’t wait to get our hands on the exact phraseology used by the people out there who were looking for exactly what we offer.  Of course, we were thwarted quite dastardly in this plan by Google’s perfect timing to make keywords for organic data ‘not provided’ by switching all search to HTTPS.  But it was the start of a quite interesting new chapter…

We then all trundled along, finding other ways to dig deeper into the customer search journey and help identify (and of course reach) our ideal target audiences. All the while, voice search was growing bigger and stronger until, BAM! We find ourselves very much in the middle of marketing shift towards the spoken word.

voice search

The Growth in Voice Search

Voice search is by no means a new concept.  Google launched its voice search capabilities in 2008, but since then, voice search queries have grown by thirty-five times!  And this growth is set to continue.

If you are lucky enough to own a teenager (or pre-teen) then you’ll be only too aware of the idle fingers of the current generation – why spend time typing a search enquiry on your mobile phone (even though the keyboard size is designed for your smaller, adolescent hands) when you can just ask Alexa?  Today’s youth are preoccupied with mobile devices of various sizes and capabilities and when it’s too much effort to use those idle fingers to find the nearest pizza joint, voice search is very much their ‘go-to’ facility.

voice search on mobile phone

It all boils down to this – we can speak much faster than we can type and today that means a lot, because today we are all busy, short of time and overworked.  Shaving off precious seconds here and there all adds up so step up voice search in its modern state, with around 90% word accuracy.

What does this explosion in voice search mean for search?

Well, for starters, there will be more natural language used and even as we speak Google is developing its algorithms to respond to follow-up questions without the searcher having to again state the context.

Secondly, more searches will be performed on a mobile device.  Lets’ face it you’d look pretty ridiculous asking your PC at work to find you a dry cleaner’s to drop your suit off on the way home, but pick up your mobile during your lunch break and it’s easy to keep your dirty laundry private rather than air it in public.

Finally, search will become more local.  Statistics tell us that the majority of people who use voice search are using it to find a local product, service or information, so now is the time to ensure that your website can be found in the local area you wish to target.

Voice Search and SEO

What do you need to do to ensure you don’t miss out on vital traffic from voice search queries?

  1. Make sure your website is optimised using natural language and answers the kinds of questions your prospective customers might be asking – an FAQs page is a great way to include this information
  2. Make your website mobile friendly – this is an absolute must now that so many people use mobile devices to access the internet. If your website isn’t mobile friendly not only will it be less likely to figure in Google’s search results but it will also be off-putting to visitors due to the difficult navigation and small typeface.
  3. Improve your local SEO – so that you can be found in the search and map listings for the services you offer in the local area.

 

Voice search is here and it is the future.  There is no doubting that, so don’t ignore the power of the spoken word, make sure your marketing strategy is catering for voice search queries.  Speak to SEO it Right today on 0121 308 0219 to devise a plan to get your business where it needs to be.

This Year, Try Digital Marketing

 

If your company has been using only traditional marketing methods to generate new business, you need to read this!

2017 is the year of change and improvements. Marketing strategies have grown beyond word of mouth and Facebook posts. Let us show you how your business can reach new heights using digital marketing strategies.

Why Digital Marketing?

 

 

 

  • First and foremost, digital marketing is a tremendously cheaper marketing method than the traditional offline methods – just think about those print runs, radio campaigns and television ads that you couldn’t afford 15 years ago! Digital marketing is much more accessible, even for those with small marketing budgets.
  • It’s a great way to increase your online market share

 

  • **According to Hubspot By 2016, more than 50% of money spent in the US will be influenced by online marketing campaigns. ** How long before we can say the same thing here in the UK?

 

 

What is a digital strategy?

Having a digital strategy is, in essence, a plan. It allocates time and money to all the relevant platforms and helps you to gain insight into statistical data which will help you to reach your goals. Market your business using multiple platforms like Social media, Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Email Marketing, SEO PR, and so much more.

 

  • How to begin building a digital strategy

    • The first thing you need to do is be clear on your aims and objectives.
    • Analyse how your company performed in the previous year.
    • Research your target audience and preferred digital media channels
    • Create your content
    • Allocate paid advertising budgets
    • Create a timeline
    • Evaluate and improve your strategy

    Why you NEED to set aside a budget for an SEO and digital marketing company to help you

    • By now, you must understand the importance of digital marketing. One thing that will help you reach that increased ROI is a thorough and well thought out digital marketing strategy.
    • It can be a daunting task to do yourself
    • You’ll save money in the long run
    • Work alongside a professional to gain a fresh perspective
    • Utilise their resources and evaluation techniques

 

Could Bing Be Set to Take Google’s Desktop Search Crown?

Whilst Bing has grown to be the second largest search engine, currently powering around a third of the world’s search, it’s still a long way behind Google. However, with the introduction of Windows 10 later this year and the new Bing integration strategy, the tables could soon be turned.

As it stands, Bing is the default search engine for Siri, Amazon’s Kindle Fire, all Yahoo! search and until last year, Facebook search was also powered by Bing. With this in mind, Google may not actually be as dominant as you think. In terms of search volume, Google completely engulfs Bing, with the widespread use of the android operating system making a large contribution to this. For all Android devices, Google is the default search engine and Google Chrome is the default web browser, however, Bing could be set to give Google a run for their money.

search

Mistrust of Google

Despite the popularity of Android, in recent times, Google has been under serious scrutiny for abusing its position of power. The European Union has accused Google of distorting search results and favouring Google shopping over other, cheaper services available. These actions are believed to be a breach of EU antitrust rules; as well as likely changes to Google’s search algorithm and a large fine, many users may also turn to other search engines due to the mistrust generated by distorted search results.

Whilst mistrust of Google will no doubt play some part in the rise of Bing, Microsoft and Bing have are currently in re-birth mode and have developed an integration strategy that could help them to surpass Google.

The Bing Integration Strategy

Bing is currently the default search tool for Xbox, Windows, Windows phone, and Microsoft Office, however, with Windows 10 due to be released this year, Bing is due to be fully integrated, with the introduction of Windows desktop assistant Cortana and a desktop Bing search bar that will be present at all times.

Microsoft have estimated that more than a billion retail consumers are ready to upgrade to Windows 10 and in doing so, they will be switching to a new operating system where Bing is integrated and more accessible than ever before. Through Cortana, Windows 10 users can activate Bing voice search at any time, simply by saying “Hey, Cortana” and then making a search query. This takes away the need for having to open a separate window.

As well as Cortana, Windows 10 will also introduce a desktop search bar that is also powered by Bing and is embedded on screens at all times. Through reducing the amount of clicks that users will need to make and by making Bing search more convenient than ever before, Microsoft believe that they will stand a strong chance of helping users to break the habit of having to type in Google.com for all of their search needs. In many cases, users will be indifferent towards altering their basic desktop settings, so Bing stands a good chance of remaining the default search engine. With two separate direct Bing search functions on the desktop, most users are likely to choose one simply for ease of use.

Plans for the Bing Search Engine

With the world moving at such a fast pace, internet users will always look to find the quickest way to perform any task, so by making Bing ever present, Microsoft have given Bing a very realistic chance of taking Google’s crown for desktop search. Bing also has a number of other plans for its search engine, including introducing advanced real-time search functionality. This means that as search is completed in real-time, with a choice of contextual information overlays appearing, with the potential to reduce the need for typing if Bing chooses the right search query for the user. If the Bing desktop search bar is able to pick up the right contextual information when a user begins to type a search query, increasing numbers of users will make the switch from opening a browser to make a search.

With a combination of advanced real-time search functionality and plans to take over the desktop world, Bing may well cement themselves into the big leagues of search for a long time to come.

If you wish for your website to become more widely visible on all of the major search engines, including Google and Bing, give the SEO it Right team a call on 0121 308 0219 to find out more.

Rob Edwards

How Hummingbird Changed The Direction Of SEO And Online Marketing In 2013

2013 was a year that saw numerous events that had a massive impact on SEO and online marketing as a whole. In the past, SEO was essentially about two things; keywords and links. However, this led to large amounts of keyword saturation and link building, not to mention, quite a considerable amount of attempts to game against the system, using what we call ‘black hat’ SEO techniques. Over the past year, Google has made some major algorithm changes that have changed the direction of SEO and online marketing as a whole.

September 2013 was a big month for online marketing, with two major changes to search putting nails in the coffin of the keyword salesman:

First of all, Google switched to https:// privacy settings, meaning that all ever increasing amounts of keyword search queries would show up as ‘Not Provided’ in Analytics. This means that although anyone who uses Google to search for keywords or phrases that might lead to your website can still do so, however, you do not have access to this data. Whilst keyword search data is no longer available for organic search, in a further effort by Google to protect their Adwords revenue, keyword data continues to be available for paid search.

Secondly, Google surprised everyone by announcing the release of a brand new algorithm with no warning. Many argue that Hummingbird will prove to be the biggest change in Google’s algorithm since the beginning. The main purpose of Hummingbird is to allow Google to be able to interpret much more ‘conversational’, semantic language, understanding the intent of a search rather than just recognising short keywords.

The introduction of Hummingbird could be linked with the ever increasing popularity of mobile search. Many people prefer to use voice search on their mobile devices, talking directly into the handset to find what they need. We have started to search questions, not keywords. This means that people are less likely to use short-tail keywords, and are instead likely to search using full sentences that are more familiar to our everyday speech.

Hummingbird plays a big part in changing the way that SEO and online marketing is sold. The future of SEO is no longer based on keywords, but how keywords form a relationship to the intent of a targeted search. Whereas in the past, many in the online marketing community could get away with keyword stuffing to a certain level, the introduction of Hummingbird brings about the importance of online marketers producing more quality, detailed, long form articles that are designed to answer long-tail search phrases.

It could be argued that we are yet to fully see the real extent of Hummingbird’s impact online marketing, however, with search engines adapting to the way that we are now using long-tailed and question-like search queries, Hummingbird has undoubtedly set the stage for a future that is centred on mobile search. Online marketers must therefore adapt their strategies away from short keywords and push out more and more semantic-influenced content in order to capture more traffic. In 2014, we can only expect to see the increasing impact of Hummingbird.

Rob Edwards

A Game Of Cowboys And SEO

In the world of online marketing, SEO has developed a terrible reputation. There is good reason for this. Alongside the hard working online marketers who thrive by working alongside their clients to create the right campaign for their business, there are also thousands of shady characters that are ready to ride in and scam businesses large and small out of massive amounts of money. These SEO Cowboys are tarnishing the good name of all other search marketers.

The question is, who are these Cowboys? Unfortunately, they can be hard to spot. It is unlikely that they ride a horse, there is little chance that they will announce themselves with the clinking of their spurs, and though they use black hat tactics to rob good honest companies of hard earned money, they seldom choose to advertise this. The whole business of being an SEO cowboy is to trick clients into believing that they are the good guys that will help you make the treacherous journey to the top of search rankings safely and in no time at all. The chances are, you won’t last long on the wagon train.

With businesses being hassled constantly by unsolicited emails and phone calls, it is important to determine what makes a good online marketer. So how can an SEO Cowboy be found? Even without a giveaway black ten gallon hat, it is simpler than you would think to separate the villains from the honest SEO guys. To find out if an SEO agency really know what they are doing, there are a few key things to consider.

John Wayne SEO Meme

Image courtesy of http://imgflip.com/memegenerator

  1. First of all, take a look at their website. What does the website look like, what is the website’s content like and more importantly, how are they ranked on Google? You should expect a good online marketer to practice what they preach on their own website. If they can’t do a decent job marketing themselves online, then how can you expect them to do a good job for you? If a potential SEO company approaches you and you can’t find their website, or it is dated and free of informative content, you would be wise to leave your cheque book in your wallet.
  2. Are they making unrealistic promises? Very often, if an SEO company is making a claim that seems too good to be true, that is because it is. As many businesses want instant results, SEO Cowboys often feed them what they want to hear, rather than telling them the truth. SEO is a time consuming process, and any company claiming that they will get you to the top of Google for numerous keywords overnight is likely to be using underhand tactics. Even though this may benefit you for a short time, it will do you considerable harm in the long run. Google is never fooled for long.
  3. It is a worrying sign if an Online Marketer trying to sell their services to you is not open about their strategies, or just bores you with jargon. If somebody claims that SEO is all a highly guarded secret, or talks at you, throwing big fancy buzz words in your face, there is a good chance that they aren’t entirely sure what they are talking about. Many Cowboys are great salesmen, but not so effective at SEO. It is also important to take note of what an SEO agency wants to know about you. A good online marketer should require as much information from you as possible about your products, services, competition, market and relevant keywords.
  4. Especially in the days since Google Penguin waddled into town, Social Media is an essential part of online marketing. Is your potential SEO company active on their social accounts? Do they use them correctly and effectively? If a suspected SEO Cowboy does not make regular posts, or if they don’t make relevant posts linking back to their website, they may not be too clued up on the latest Google algorithm changes and SEO techniques.
  5. Perhaps the most important thing to remember about SEO is that content is key. Google loves nothing more than content rich websites. Look at an SEO company’s content marketing efforts carefully to see the quality of their work. If an online marketing agency has a helpful website and a high quality blog on which they post great, informative and relevant articles on a regular basis, this is a very positive indicator that they know how to perform content marketing successfully.

Essentially, a good SEO company is an open company. Online marketers should be able to do for themselves what they claim to be able to do for you, and communicate with you on a regular basis so you both know what’s going on. For SEO to work successfully, it has to be a two way relationship, where the customer gets the same out of their online marketing consultant as they give to them.

Though many people have had negative experiences with the countless numbers of Cowboys marauding as online marketing experts, an SEO company can be a valuable addition to your business. Through honesty, communication, constant research and development, and most importantly, a cart load of hard work, the right company can help your business see excellent growth.

Rob Edwards

Are We Experiencing Another Google Update?

There is currently a lot of chatter on this – has your site been affected?   Keep your eyes on your traffic in Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools to see whether the suspected update has had an impact on your site. You can read more HERE at the SEO round table.

Is SEO dead? Did Social Media murder it?

From as far back as the early 2000’s, ever increasing lists of articles have been plastered all over the internet, making the bold, yet somewhat misguided statement that Search Engine Optimisation is in fact, dead. According to many more recent posts, the untimely fall of Search Engine Optimisation, (often known by its acronym, SEO) was due in significant part to the rise of the young upstart, Social Media. It is certainly true that social media continues to expand at a huge rate, and is becoming ever more important to businesses of all sizes, however, this does not mean that social media marketing has or will destroy SEO.

Each year, people spend increasingly larger amounts of time on the internet as it becomes more and more accessible through mobile web and applications. The continuing rise in popularity of social media can be directly linked to this. Users can access their social media accounts wherever they go due to the availability of mobile web, and it could be argued that this in turn has influenced more businesses to embrace social media marketing, as they can reach their target audience at all times.

It is true that although SEO has not died, it has changed over the years, and will continue to do so. As search engines have changed, SEO has in turn has had to adapt and evolve. Overlord of all that is search, Google, has continued to change its ranking tactics over time to reflect patterns of search. With the colossal rise of social media outlets such as Facebook, Twitter, and its own Google+, Google has changed the ranking weight of backlinks to have more emphasis towards social media.

Some may argue that Google Penguin, the latest change of search ranking strategies has helped to close the curtain firmly behind SEO, however, SEO can’t die. There is no ‘dead’ in the world of technology. There are merely continuous versions and incarnations. Rather than swinging its leg wildly at the bucket, SEO continues to evolve and adapt. Social media platforms do not challenge SEO; they influence it.

Though there will continue to be changes to search and social media, and other new technologies will continue to expand, Search Engine Optimisation will continue to thrive and transform. As long as there is Search, there will always be SEO, and there will always be search. People want to know more and more as fast as possible.

If you would like to learn more about Search Engine Optimisation, then feel free to visit www.seo-it-right.co.uk.

Rob Edwards