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SEO 101: Semantic Search and the Evolution of SEO

Posted Wed, December 24, 2014 by Julie Short

The deeper you get into search engine optimization, the harder it is to speak about specifics. This is partly because Google keeps its exact formulas and algorithms secret – we know that things like keywords and links are important to search engine rankings, for example, but don’t know exactly how they factor into the rankings at a mathematical level.

Another important reason, however, is that search engine optimization is always evolving. Google is always tweaking its approach to stay one step ahead of its competitors, and that means there are always going to be new wrinkles or ideas to consider.

Here at WebRevelation, we work hard to stay on top of these trends and best practices so our clients will always be prepared. The more competitive a search market is, the more fine-tuning and refinement is needed on a continual basis. If you want to bury your competitors and get the most traffic, you can’t let your website and search engine optimization plan become stagnant.

To give you an idea of why continual SEO refinement is so important, here are just a few of the most important search trends we’ve noticed in the past year or two:

Semantic search. Contextual search is getting to be an even bigger and more important part of Google’s algorithm. In a few years, individual keywords may not matter much at all; instead, search results will be based on a user’s preference and a host of other factors like location, visit history, and the overall depth and topic of a website. In other words, Google is getting better at figuring out what people really want when they search, and recognizing that the keywords they use might not be the clearest form of the question.

Local SEO. Now that Internet searches have effectively replaced the Yellow Pages and local print advertising in a lot of areas, local search engine optimization – based on geographic search terms – is more important than ever. If you don’t have text on your website that identifies your city, state, or area, you could be missing out on a lot of traffic.

Social inputs. More and more, Google and the other search engines are using social popularity and activity as a means for determining credibility. So having lots of followers, and comments on your social profiles, could conceivably help you achieve a higher search engine ranking. That’s especially true in the case of Google+, which is owned by the search giant itself.

Harsher penalties for bad SEO. Once upon a time, you could rank very well for lots of search terms by simply listing keywords over and over, “borrowing” content from your competitors, or having lots of low-quality links point at your website. Those days are over, however, and engaging in these kinds of tricks will likely get you penalized by Google and the other search engines to the point where they may not list your website in the search results at all.

Staying on top of search engine optimization takes a lot of work, but it also brings big rewards. If you can win visitors your competitors don’t have access to, you’ll enjoy a steady flow of buyers coming to your website each and every day.

How can we help you with your search engine optimization and Internet marketing campaigns? Call WebRevelation today to let us know, and we’ll be happy to schedule a free consultation for you and your team.

Posted in : Website Content , SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : semantic , search , google , SEO


SEO 101: Context and Authority

Posted Wed, December 17, 2014

We’ve already covered a lot of ground in our SEO 101 series, explaining how Google uses small bits of automated software to scan and analyze websites, as well as what you can do to make your own pages easier to find and understand.

When it comes to the reasons search engines have to prefer one website over another, however, not everything comes down to the text that’s on your page. That’s still the biggest factor, but it’s not the only one. After all, Google has to have a way of separating two websites with similar content and keywords. Just think of all the different pizza places or accountants, for example, that could have websites in a given area. How do search engines decide which ones are given a priority?

Beyond the content on the websites themselves, it often comes down to context and authority. Let’s take a quick look at each one.

Context in Search Engine Results

Psychologists will tell you that context and nonverbal communication are actually key to the way humans interact with and understand one another. Google can’t read your facial expressions or tone of voice (yet), but it can use context to try to figure out what you’re actually looking for, even if the piece of information you want doesn’t exactly match your search string.

For example, if you type in a question about a baseball player, it may steer you to a site with a matching keyword and a lot of other baseball-related facts and articles. Additionally, it may consider other websites you’ve recently searched, or topics you’ve been looking for more information on, along with your geographic location, preferred language, and other demographic data to try to sort out a set of results that are most meaningful to you.

This is incredibly helpful as a searcher, but it has important implications for marketers, too. The more useful your website is as a whole – meaning the more pieces of interesting and unique content it has – the more potential it has to answer questions. So in that sense, context is all about identifying your location and having lots of great content.

How Authority Factors Into SEO

If context is all about delivering the best match, authority is about finding the most trustworthy answers. To help searchers get the right answers to their questions, and not just the best keyword matches, Google has to consider the authority of your website.

Authority is built and demonstrated in a few ways: by having other respected websites link to yours, with lots of social activity, and by having an abundance of recent, unique, and in-depth articles (usually in the form of a blog).

With all of these factors in place, Google can feel confident that you know what you’re talking about and are a relevant source of information on your topic or industry. Then, it can begin to favor your website over the competition.

Context and authority aren’t quite as straightforward as things like keyword placement are, but they are important to understand and take advantage of if you want to rank highly in a market with lots of different competitors. In the final installment of our SEO 101 series, we’ll take things further and look at some of the newer trends in search engine optimization.

Check back next week for the conclusion of our SEO 101 series. Or, for customized advice on web design and Internet marketing, call or email the WebRevelation team today to arrange for a free consultation.

Posted in : Website Content , SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : SEO , context , authority , google


SEO 101: Making Your Pages More Visible to Search Engines

Posted Wed, December 10, 2014 by Julie Short

In the first part of our SEO 101 series, we looked at the way Google uses automated “spiders” to go through your site and decide what your content is actually about. That’s actually a fairly simple process, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.

After all, there could be hundreds, thousands, or even millions of webpages out there relating to your topic or industry. Search for “San Antonio web design” and you’ll see exactly what we mean. We know how tough the competition is out there because we deal with it every day.

It’s one thing to have Google be aware of your website, and another thing for the world’s largest search engine to be sending you visitors every day. So making your pages more visible, in a search engine optimization sense, is an incredibly important topic.

Here are a few things you can do to make your pages stand out, and the reasons why:

Pay attention to page titles and meta descriptions. The title of your page is important because it tells Google what a specific piece of content should be about. You want yours to be short, but also to contain important search keywords.

Meta descriptions, on the other hand, don’t have any search engine optimization value but are displayed in search listings. That means they can be helpful in getting visitors to click through to your website.

Add more in-depth, keyword-rich content. All other things being equal, Google likes longer pages with important keywords used more than once. It’s not hard to understand why – a more comprehensive search result, and one that’s narrowly devoted to a certain topic, is more likely to give a searcher the answer he or she is looking for than a small blurb of generic text.

Be careful, though, that you don’t go overboard with either of these concepts. Having too many keywords, or too much content, can be worse than having none at all. If Google feels like you’re building pages for the sole purpose of SEO, it will ignore them (and the rest of your website) altogether.

Create lots of pages on similar topics. In the same way that a longer page with lots of information is usually more valuable than a shorter one, Google knows that a comprehensive website with many related posts or articles is probably more helpful to a searcher than one with just a few offerings. That’s why building lots of pages that relate to each other is important for SEO.

Keep your content fresh and up to date. We live in an age where millions and millions of pages are being added to the Internet every day. That means Google can afford to be picky and look for more current search results for its users. The more often you update your pages, the more relevant your website will seem and the more search engine traffic you’ll be rewarded with.

There are other, more advanced techniques you can use to make your pages stand out to search engines, but just paying attention to the basics is often enough to separate you from your competitors – or at least make a good start at a more comprehensive search engine optimization campaign.

In the next post, we’re going to go a bit deeper into the concept of linking, relevancy, and currency as we look at the broader SEO meaning of context and authority.

Be sure to stop back and check out that post, or contact a member of the WebRevelation team to get a free consultation today.

Posted in : Website Content , SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : SEO , google , keywords , content


SEO 101: How Google “Sees” Your Website

Posted Wed, December 3, 2014 by Julie Short

Every business owner or marketing manager knows it’s important to rank well on Google. By processing more than 2 billion search queries every day, it’s the one Internet marketing portal that can literally make or break your business overnight.

Google’s importance is well understood, however, the way it “sees” and ranks different websites isn’t. We regularly meet with new clients who either have mistaken ideas about what it takes to improve their search engine optimization campaigns or literally have no idea how Google and its competitors process searches at all.

That’s understandable, if you’ve been outsourcing your SEO activity for a long time. Still, by understanding what Google actually looks for, and how the different pieces work together, you can go a long way toward building a website that attracts more traffic and turns those visitors into customers.

With that in mind, we’ve decided to produce a short series of articles we’re calling SEO 101. In this post, and the three that follow, we’re going to give you a quick bit of insight into the world of search marketing and offer some easy-to-follow tips you can use to make your web content stand out.

How Google Views and Analyzes Websites

Before you can give Google what it wants to find, you have to know what that is in the first place. That starts with the understanding that the engineers at Google don’t usually consider individual websites at all; instead, they generate pieces of code – called search spiders – that crawl all over the Internet constantly, cataloguing and evaluating everything they find.

As you might imagine, search engine spiders look at websites a bit differently than an actual human viewer would. Here are a few of the most important differences:

  • Search engine spiders generally follow links, both within websites and throughout them. So if a part of your website doesn’t have any links pointing at it from your other pages, it may be “invisible” to Google.
  • Search spiders understand text but not images. So, unless you have given your pictures or video files a written title and description, they aren’t going to count for anything as far as SEO goes.
  • Once a search engine spider has viewed, or “crawled,” through your website, it will catalog what it has found in terms of content and then return later. If it finds more fresh and unique content along the same topics or themes, that’s a good sign your website is relevant and up to date.


The net of all of this, of course, is that Google can know what your website is “about” in the form of search terms (keywords) it finds on your pages. Later, when human searchers enter those keywords into Google, it can match that request against what’s found on your website.

There’s a little more to it than that, of course, especially when it comes to deciding which websites should be shown first in Google’s search listings. For now, though, you know how Google actually sees your website, and why the text on your pages is more important to search engines than anything else.

Check out the next article in our SEO 101 series, or contact WebRevelation today to see how we can help with business web design and Internet marketing.

Posted in : Website Content , SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : SEO , websites , marketing , google


What to Do When Google Treats You like a Russian Gymnastics Judge

Posted Wed, June 25, 2014 by Julie Short

Most business owners and Internet marketers are already at least somewhat familiar with the concept of the Google AdWords Quality Score. It basically amounts to a numerical evaluation of how relevant and effective your pay-per-click ads are, which in turn affects how often they are shown and the prices you need to pay to maintain a certain ad position.

The basic idea is that, when your Quality Scores are high, Google will allow you to bid very little for a prime advertising position; with low Quality Scores, though, you'll pay through the teeth to even show up for your most important keywords (because your Quality Scores vary from one keyword to the next, the best way to check them is by logging in to your AdWords account).

The net of all of this is that it's impossible to run an efficient and effective paid search campaign with low Quality Scores. Getting clicks and conversions will just cost too much, especially if you want to maintain a high bid position.

So, what can you do when Google's Quality Score evaluation process treats you like a Russian gymnastics judge at the Olympics and marks you with a lower number than you expected?

The first step is to understand where your score actually comes from. Here are a few of the ingredients that are known to be important:

Click-through rate. Google runs ads to make money, but also to help searchers find what they're looking for. Running ads with lots of click-throughs helps them do both, since it's a sign that searchers find the offer to be relevant.

Content on your site. If relevance didn't matter, people would simply choose the keywords and search phrases with the highest traffic and put unrelated ads with them. That would lead to a lower-quality experience for end users, so Google evaluates the content on your site to make sure it matches up with your keywords and ad copy.

How focused your campaigns and groups are. Google likes to see campaigns and ad groups that are tightly focused. If you have too many keywords stuffed together, your Quality Score will suffer.

Account history. Google factors your account history (and even other accounts for the same keyword or search term) into your Quality Score, so it pays to be an excellent advertiser over time.

There are other things that factor in, but these are the most important and easiest to change. So, if you find your Quality Scores are suffering, your best course of action is to first reevaluate your ad groups and keyword combinations, and then start testing new versions of your ads to increase your click-through rates.

The important takeaway here is that bad Quality Scores can be overcome, but it's always going to be easier – and less expensive – the sooner you start.

Need help getting your AdWords account in order? Let the team at WebRevelation help.

 

Posted in : SEO/SMO/SMM , Website Content | 
Tags : google , quality , scores


Optimizing Web Content As You Write

Posted Mon, April 29, 2013 by Julie Short

Search and social media technologies have evolved vastly in the last few years by modifying and building tools to make digital media landscape more accurate, useful and interactive. 

SEO isn’t a purely a technical concept. At its core, SEO revolves around marketing. As technology changed and evolved, SEO became more content centric. SEO gives brands with good content, especially smaller operations, the ability to put themselves in a winning position. SEO boils down to technology and human behavior. Content marketing and content management systems play a large part in this relationship. 

The Shift
In the past, content marketing and SEO departments generally have been separate disciplines. Originally, CMS systems weren’t designed with SEO as we know it in mind. SEO was a totally different game. Mastering SEO would help brands trick their way to the top of search engines. Uploading thin content just to have something on your website, forgetting about design and focusing on rankings are ways of the pasts. 

As Google has shifted to focus on quality, relevance and content, it's essential that brands bridge this gap and time lag between authoring and optimizing content. Published content that isn't search engine friendly with errors that can be easily penalized by Google. To make the most of this content marketing opportunity and it's important to optimize content as you write it.

Integrating your content and SEO process provides you with learning, scale, and efficiency across content and SEO teams. Users can create and optimize in sync without having to switch from SEO tools to CMS systems. 

The result is great content that is SEO friendly that allows you to maximize results from search (search rankings, traffic, conversions, and revenue).
As an organization you can coordinate content creation across SEO and editorial teams to ensure the content turns is optimized, of high quality and produced efficiently. Any content changes can also go live sooner and impact results faster.

The Relationship Between CMS and Content Creation
Having a content management system empowers people within your organization to actively contribute relevant content to your website. What type of content am I talking about? This content could be blogs, news, adding to your growing portfolio as you complete new projects or adapting your descriptive information to reflect your evolving business. Your business is alive and changing. Search engines reward websites that regularly contribute quality content because they expect for your site to be an extension of your living business. 

SEO as You Go
Before you start adding content to your site, make a strategy. What do you want to accomplish with your site? What does your target audience search for online? Those are the kinds of topics you want to address within your site. Here’s some SEO best practices to apply to your content as you write:

  • Create a simple directory. Avoid having subdirectories and using directory names that have no relation to the content in them. 
  • Improve your URL structure. URLs that are simple to understand and easy to remember will help people reach your content. Use real words in URLs. 
  • Use brief, but descriptive titles. If it’s too long, search engines will only show a portion of it in the search result. 
  • Accurately describe page content. Titles that don’t specifically describe what they’re about could get lost in search. Often, inferences won’t cut it, even if they’re cute or funny. Be as direct as possible. 
  • Customize your post by being as unique as possible in content descriptions. Also, mention any sub-topics in the content. 
  • Offer exclusive content. When you’re writing something, find your unique perspective and insight. Ask yourself, what can I offer that will set this apart from anything else online?
  • Write content that’s easy to read. You’re not writing a scientific study. Make sure what you’re writing isn’t boring. Don’t fill sentences with unnecessary or difficult to understand words and ideas. 
  • Organization is key. Don’t write a long block of content. Break things up with subheads and bullet points. 
  • Create content directed at the user, not the search engine. Your content should be easily accessible to search engines, but should accommodate the visitor’s needs as well. 

Concluding Thoughts
Empowering content writers with SEO capabilities allows your business to scale the impact of your SEO team. Technology and CMS integration enables your content team to make optimizations that drive traffic and conversions. SEO professionals can also analyze error distribution, identify common SEO errors and the source of these errors, and take corrective action.

Posted in : SEO/SMO/SMM | 
Tags : content , google , seo


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