There’s nothing that beats that organic #1 position in Google’s SERPs when it comes to brand visibility, increase in traffic, trust factor boost, reduction in cost per lead, and so on.
Everyone who’s anyone in online business knows this, which is why the struggle to grab that marketer’s Holy Grail can look like a cut-throat business to many SEO novices.
However, even SEO pros get confused when Google throws a wrench into the intricate workings of the rankings machine. Google’s core algorithm updates can mess up even the best SEO strategies, especially if you react in a panic to a drop in the rankings.
Today, I’ll share with you the three things I’ve learned from 2019 Google algorithm updates that will help you future-proof your SEO. First, however, take a look at the hints that Google rolled out alongside those updates to see if you’re building your SEO strategy on a healthy foundation.
2019 Google core algorithm updates and what they tell us
That’s just a bit shy of 9 updates per day.
All of them change how the algorithm evaluates a website and its rankings (most just slightly, though).
However, three of them were so-called ‘core algorithm updates’ – meaning that their impact on the rankings was likely significant for most indexed websites. Google announced these (in March, June, and September of 2019), which is not something that they normally do. This should give you an idea of how important they were in the grand scheme of all things SEO-related.
Websites were affected differently, with some seeing increases in their rankings and traffic, and others plummeting to Google’s page #3. Many of the sites that experienced significant drops are in the Your Money, Your Life (YMYL) niche.
(Verywellhealth.com shows a significant drop after the March core update)
“The sensitive nature of the information on these types of websites can have a profound impact on peoples’ lives,” says Paul Teitelman of Paul Teitelman SEO Agency. “Google has long struggled with this and at least one of these core algorithm updates was designed to push trustworthy YMYL content to the top while sinking those websites that contain dubious and untrustworthy information.”
Google signaled a path forward with these updates. If you were not paying attention, here are the key takeaways:
- Google signals an intent to keep rewarding fresh, complete, and unique content. Focus on answering the searcher’s questions thoroughly and precisely.
- E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Trustworthiness) guidelines are more important than ever. Things like backlinks from reputable websites, encryption, and who authors your posts can make or break your organic rankings.
- Google wants to see you covering a wide range of topics from your broader niche. Increase your relevance with content that establishes you as the go-to source in your niche.
SEO is far from an exact science.
If anything, it’s educated guesswork based on countless hours of testing, tweaking, and then testing again.
Still, there are things that you can do to future-proof your SEO and protect your websites from reacting too violently to core algorithm updates.
Based on Google’s recent hints, here are three things that you should focus on if you’re going after those page #1 rankings in the SERPs.
Three tips to future-proof your website’s SEO
Keep the focus on high-quality, actionable content
I know you’re annoyed with hearing it by now but high-quality content is a prerequisite to ranking at the top of the SERPs and staying there.
This means that you need to pin-point a specific question that the searcher wants answers to and then write a piece of content that provides a detailed clarification of the issue. Does it need to be 5,000 words long? That depends on the question but, in most cases, it doesn’t. What it needs to be is concise and thorough, and clarify any and all questions that the searcher might have while reading it.
Ideally, you will want your content to be 1500+ words. According to Backlinko’s Brian Dean and his research, Google tends to reward longer content.
My advice is to ask yourself the following questions when you’re writing:
- Am I providing the reader with a comprehensive answer to their question?
- Is my content more thorough than what’s already on the #1 page of the SERPs?
- Am I presenting the information in a trustworthy way (citing sources, quoting experts)?
- Is my content easy to understand, and free from factual, stylistic, and grammar errors?
If your answer to these questions is a yes, you’re already doing better than (probably) 95% of your competitors.
Improve the E-A-T score of your website
In SEO, E-A-T stands for Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness.
In other words – who is authoring blog posts and articles that are published on your website? Are they penned by an expert in the field or by a ghostwriter?
Why should people trust anything you (or your website) have to say? That’s the crux of E-A-T.
The concept appears in Google’s Quality Raters’ Guidelines (QRG), and SEO experts have debated for years whether or not it has any bearing on the actual organic rankings.
In 2018, Google cleared all doubts around it, announcing that QRG is, in fact, their blueprint for developing the search algorithm. “You can view the rater guidelines as to where we want the search algorithm to go,” Ben Gomes, Google’s vice president of search, assistant and news, said in a CNBC interview.
Here’s what the QRG has to say about E-A-T
We have no idea if Google’s core algorithm can evaluate E-A-T parameters as well as an actual human rater. Still, if that’s Google’s end goal, it’s a good idea to pay attention to it now, regardless of whether it’s implemented or not. It most certainly will be at one point in the future.
To improve your E-A-T score, focus on the following
- Add an author byline to your posts – every post that you publish should be authored by someone. Use your real name (or your author’s real name), and start building a reputation as an expert in the field.
- Create your personal website – even if you’re trying to rank your business site, make sure to have a personal branding website of your own (and of any regularly contributing authors). Those websites should be maintained – you don’t need to SEO the heck out of them but you should publish niche-relevant content regularly.
- Get featured on Wikipedia and authority websites – QRG clearly instructs raters to check for author mentions on Wikipedia and other relevant sites. That stands to reason because experts in the field will often be quoted by other publications.
- Get mentions on forums – same goes for forum mentions. If people name-drop you on relevant forums, that means that they feel you have something important to say.
- Secure your site with HTTPS – security is an important E-A-T factor, especially if you’re selling something via your website. An unsecured website will have a low E-A-T score so make sure to invest in encryption to boost trustworthiness.
Build quality backlinks and establish a social presence
Quality backlinks are still a very important ranking factor.
However, according to a report released by Backlinko, it’s not about one or two backlinks, regardless of how strong they are.
What moves the ranking needle are sustainable, evergreen link-building strategies – backlinks from trusted, niche-related websites that are acquired by white hat SEO methods such as blogger outreach, guest posting, and collaborations with other influencers in the niche. The more of these types of backlinks you get, the better your organic rankings.
Additionally, getting backlinks from a greater number of referring domains ensures that your rankings are protected if, for example, a couple of those websites get shut down or penalized in the future. When you’re playing the link-building game, it pays to think ahead.
(Image Source: https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors)
And, while they don’t carry the same weight as true backlinks, you’d be wrong to underestimate the value Google’s ranking algorithm places on social media signals.
A truly authoritative website – and all the authors that write for it – will have a strong social media presence. They will use it to amplify their message, build additional authority, and drive traffic to their website. Ahrefs’ Tim Soulo does this better than any other SEO expert that I know.
All of this will affect the aforementioned E-A-T parameters. If nothing, it will distribute your name far and wide, signaling to Google that you’re not a complete nobody that just happens to run a website or write a blog about a certain topic. The stronger your social media presence; the more followers, comments, and shares you end up earning – the better it is for your E-A-T.
Get people to trust you and the algorithm will follow
Pretty soon, the key to top rankings will be how believable and trustworthy you are. Google’s current insistence on E-A-T parameters clearly demonstrates that. Everything else will be just the icing on the cake after that – the fancy schema you’re using, the on-page SEO gimmicks, and all the other loopholes SEO experts are now using to rank their websites.
I’m interested to hear what you think about the direction that Google is taking with this year’s algorithm updates. Have any of your websites been affected? Leave a comment below and let’s discuss.
The post 2019 Google core algorithm updates: Lessons and tips to future-proof your SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Last July, Google announced its Contact Center AI product for helping businesses get more value out of their contact centers. Contact Center AI uses a mix of Google’s machine learning-powered tools to help build virtual agents and help human agents as they do their job. Today, the company is launching several updates to this product that will, among other things, bring improved speech recognition features to the product.
As Google notes, its automated speech recognition service gets to very high accuracy rates, even on the kind of noisy phone lines that many customers use to complain about their latest unplanned online purchase. To improve these numbers, Google is now launching a feature called ‘Auto Speech Adaptation in Dialogflow,” (with Dialogflow being Google tool for building conversational experiences). With this, the speech recognition tools are able to take the context of the conversation into account and hence improve their accuracy by about 40 percent, according to Google.
In addition, Google is also launching a new model phone model for understanding short utterances, which is now about 15 percent more accurate for U.S. English, as well as a number of other updates that improve transcription accuracy, make the training process easier and allow for endless audio streaming to the Cloud Speech-to-Text API, which previously had a 5-minute limit.
If you want to, you can also now natively download MP3s of the audio (and then burn them to CDs, I guess).
April was a big month for Google Data Studio (GDS), with Google introducing some significant product updates to this already robust reporting tool.
For those not familiar with GDS, it is a free dashboard-style reporting tool that Google rolled out in June 2016. With Data Studio, users can connect to various data sources to visualize, and share data from a variety of web-based platforms.
GDS supports native integrations with most Google products including Analytics, Google Ads, Search Ads 360 (formerly Doubleclick Search), Google Sheets, YouTube Analytics, and Google BigQuery.
1. Google introduces BigQuery BI Engine for integration with GDS
BigQuery is Google’s massive enterprise data warehouse. It enables extremely fast SQL queries by using the same technology that powers Google Search. Per Google,
“Every day, customers upload petabytes of new data into BigQuery, our exabyte-scale, serverless data warehouse, and the volume of data analyzed has grown by over 300 percent in just the last year.”
2. Enhanced data drill-down capabilities
You can now reveal additional levels of detail in a single chart using GDS’s enhanced data drill down (or drill up) capabilities.
You’ll need to enable this feature in each specific GDS chart and, once enabled, you can drill down from a higher level of detail to a lower one (for example, country to a city). You can also drill up from a lower level of detail to a higher one (for example, city to the country). You must be in “View” mode to drill up or drill down (as opposed to the “Edit” mode).
Here’s an example of drilling-up in a chart that uses Google’s sample data in GDS.
To drill-up by year, right click on the chart in “View” mode and select “Drill up” as shown below.
Visit the Data Studio Help website for detailed instructions on how to leverage this feature.
3. Improved formatting of tables
GDS now allows for more user-friendly and intuitive table formatting. This includes the ability to distribute columns evenly with just one click (by right-clicking the table), resizing only one column by dragging the column’s divider, and changing the justification of table contents to left, right, or center via the “Style” properties panel in “Edit” mode.
Detailed instructions on how to access this feature are located here.
4. The ability to hide pages in “View” mode
GDS users can now hide pages in “View” mode by right clicking on the specific page (accessed via the top submenu), clicking on the three vertical dots to the right of the page name, and selecting “Hide page in view mode”. This feature comes in handy when you’ve got pages you don’t want your client (or anyone) to see when presenting the GDS report.
5. Page canvas size enhancements
Users can now customize each page’s size with a new feature that was rolled out on March 21st (we’re sneaking this into the April update because it’s a really neat feature).
Canvas size settings can be accessed from the page menu at the top of the GDS interface. Select Page>Current Page Settings, and then select “Style” from the settings area at the right of the screen. You can then choose your page size from a list of pre-configured sizes or set a custom size of your own.
6. New Data Studio help community
As GDS adds more features and becomes more complex, it seems only fitting that Google would launch a community help forum for this tool. So, while this isn’t exactly a new feature to GDS itself, it is a new resource for GDS users that will hopefully make navigating GDS easier.
Users can access the GDS Help Community via Google’s support website or selecting “Help Options” from the top menu bar in GDS (indicated by a question mark icon) then click the “Visit Help Forum” link.
We hope that summarizing the latest GDS enhancements has made it a little easier to digest the many new changes that Google rolled out in April (and March). Remember, you can always get a list of updates, both new and old by visiting Google’s Support website here.
Jacqueline Dooley is the Director of Digital Strategy at CommonMind.
The post A summary of Google Data Studio: Updates from April 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
Facebook today announced a series of changes to the way it ranks videos on its social network, which determines how widely they’re distributed. According to the updated guidelines, Facebook will now prioritize videos that focus on original content, those where users are engaged for longer periods of time and those where users return repeatedly to watch more.
The company wants to feature more high-quality videos, and less of those that feature “unoriginal or repurposed content” from other sources where there’s been little value added, it says. That seems to imply a bit of crackdown on the prolific video memes — those that lift someone else’s content (sometimes without proper credit) and then publish it to their own Page to cash in.
Facebook says it’s also now going to demote videos from Pages that are involved in Sharing Schemes. These are programs run by unethical content mills that compensate other Page owners for posting content and running ads to promote it.
In addition, Facebook will reward videos that have a more engaged and loyal fan base.
Before, Facebook encouraged video creators to keep their viewers watching for at least a minute. Going forward, it will actively add more weight in rankings to those videos where viewers watch for at least three minutes.
And it will reward videos where viewers repeatedly return to watch week after week.
The goal with the changes is to promote those videos that people value, the company says, while also helping great video creators reach more people across the social network by way of improved distribution.
The changes come at a time when Facebook’s video effort, Facebook Watch, is facing increased competition for viewers’ time and interest from a range of players, including Apple’s streaming service Apple TV+, as well as number of places to watch free, ad-supported content, like The Roku Channel or Amazon’s IMDb, for example, in addition to, of course, YouTube. And soon, the highly anticipated streaming service from Disney will eat into more of viewers’ time, too.
Facebook Watch has also been dinged for featuring low-quality content compared to newcomers like Apple TV+, which has signed big-name talent like Spielberg, Witherspoon and Oprah. Meanwhile, Facebook Watch has focused on things like MTV’s “The Real World” or “Buffy” re-runs in terms of its “premium” content.
With YouTube recently promising its own original content will become free and ad-supported in time, Facebook needed to keep up by making its own video site less meme-filled and more engaging than before. That can only happen if it promotes videos when they meet certain quality thresholds — which is what these guidelines aim to address.
From search to social, ad platforms have been rolling out major changes this year. You may not have the time to review them all in one sitting, so we broke down our top three updates from Bing in the first four months of 2019.
Read more at PPCHero.com
Search came a long way this past year. We saw the appearance of the zero-result SERP, featuring knowledge cards for answers such as conversions and times.
We saw minor changes to image search and a renewed emphasis on “compelling and shareable content.” After testing video carousels on desktop SERPs for a while, Google decided to roll the feature out by replacing video thumbnails with video carousels across the board. Understandably, we’ve since seen more focus on producing video.
Some algorithm updates occurred overnight, some happened incrementally. Some caused only ripples, and some turned the SERPs updside down.
As we say hello to 2019, we want to take a moment to reflect on this past year. The algorithm changes we saw last year can be indicators of changes or trends to come. Search engines often make incremental adjustments to their filters.
So, our friends over at E2M have created a visual and entertaining overview of what went down in Google Search over 2018 — and which might help give us an idea of where we’re going next.
The post What were Google’s biggest search algorithm updates of 2018? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.
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