Today’s Google doodle pays homage to the iconic Mexican singer and actor, Pedro Infante.
Born in Mazatlán, Mexico, Infante began playing music as part of his father’s band when he was a teenager.
“Infante experimented with the style that made him most famous,” writes Google on the Google Doodle blog, “Mixing feeling with technique, his soulful croon forever changed the way the mariachi was sung and he helped popularize the genre around the world.”
In addition to being a famed musician, Infante was also a film star, starring in nearly 60 films during the golden era of Mexican cinema. Some of his more well-known roles included “La Feria de las Flores,” “A Toda Máquina,” and “Pepe El Toro.”
Infante died in April of 1957, six months before his 40th birthday. That same year, he was posthumously given a Silver Bear Best Actor award at the 7th Berlin International Film Festival for his role in the movie “Tizoc.”
Today’s doodle leads to a search for “Pedro Infante,” and includes the following six images:
“As today’s Doodle shows, Infante’s passions went beyond stage and screen, though they often appeared intertwined,” writes Google, “Today we celebrate what would have been the artist’s 100th birthday with scenes illustrating the vibrant parallels between his life and work — all beginning with a classic Infante pose.”
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In the good old days, SEO was simple. You stuffed a page full of keywords, and you ranked number one. Oh, if only it were that simple today! Now, Google (and the other search engines) literally take hundreds of factors into account when determining which pages rank high in search engine results pages (SERPs).
This new reality means that elements of user experience (UX) have been rolled into SEO best practices. How easy is your site to navigate? Do you have quality content that makes visitors want to stay and engage? Is your site secure, fast and mobile-friendly?
Think of the partnership of SEO and UX this way: SEO targets search engines, and UX targets your website’s visitors. Both share a common goal of giving users the best experience.
Here are some common website elements that impact both SEO and user experience.
Just as the headings of a printed work make it easier to find information, the headings of a web page make it easier for both visitors and search engine crawlers to understand and parse your content.
Headings (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>) should tell the readers and search engines what the paragraphs/sections are about and show a logical hierarchy of the content. Headings also help users if they get lost on a page.
Only use one h1 tag on a page — that lets search engines and users know the page’s primary focus. H1s are normally the first piece of content on a page, placed near the top. (Think of h1s as the chapter title of a book.) Adding keywords toward the front of a heading can also help with rankings.
Other headers (h2 through h6) should follow h1s to structure and organize the rest of the page appropriately. The other headings can be used several times on a page, as long as it makes sense. You do not need to use all of them, either — sometimes your content may only need an h1 and some h2s.
Easy navigation and site structure
It may seem crazy that we’re still talking about easy site navigation… but we are. There are way too many sites out there that simply don’t get it. Your site structure is not only important for your users, but it’s your site’s roadmap for the search engines, too.
Remember that many of your visitors will not enter your site through your home page. This means that your site needs to be easy to navigate — no matter which page a searcher (or search engine crawler) lands on.
Your site’s navigation is not the place for fancy popups, a long list of options, hide-and-seek games or a place of dead ends where the user doesn’t know how to get back to another section of your site or get back to your home page.
Take a look at how healthcare giant Anthem’s menu overtakes the screen — on both desktop and mobile — when the menu is clicked:
With the menu literally filling the entire screen, a user can’t read the content that’s underneath the navigation. This creates a very poor user experience. When people are on mobile devices, chances are they won’t have the patience to deal with menus like this.
Additionally, a clean site navigation and structure can also lead to sitelinks appearing in Google search results. Sitelinks can help you take over more real estate on search engine result pages — which means less room for your competitors (and, hopefully, more clicks for you).
Google’s algorithm decides which sites get sitelinks (and which ones don’t). They base this decision largely on a site’s structure:
I believe that user signals will increasingly become a more prominent factor in search engine rankings. Do you have Posts on Google My Business that visitors are clicking on? Are visitors on mobile devices using the click-to-call feature to dial your business? Are happy customers leaving five-star reviews for you — and are you responding to those reviews?
Although Google has denied that user signals such as time on site or bounce rate are direct ranking factors, studies have shown that there is a strong correlation between these signals and top rankings. Let’s put it this way: Google sees and knows everything. Every touch point and interaction your visitors have with you (and you have with them) shows Google that users are interested in and engaging with your content.
Site speed has long been a ranking factor for Google search, and the company has even announced that mobile page speed (rather than desktop) will soon be used to determine this ranking factor. So not only is it important to have a website that loads quickly, but your mobile experience needs to be fast as well.
Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool allows you to enter your URL to see the issues your site might be having with mobile responsiveness. PageSpeed Insights measures how the page can improve its performance on both time to above-the-fold load and time to full page load and provides concrete suggestions for reducing page load time.
Amazingly, even the big sites with presumably large development and IT budgets have speed issues. See the poor results for the Harvard Business Review site:
Content-heavy and news sites should especially pay attention to site speed issues, since these sites are often viewed on mobile devices for the sake of convenience.
When you think of “mobile experiences,” speed is definitely one consideration, but so is your mobile website as a whole — the look, feel, navigation, text, images and so forth.
Ever since Google released its mobile-friendly update in 2015, webmasters and SEOs have had to take “mobile-friendliness” into account as a ranking factor. And now, with the mobile-first index said to be coming in 2018, your mobile site will be considered your “main” website when Google’s algorithm is calculating rankings — thus making a good mobile experience all the more crucial.
Navigation is one of the most important components of a mobile experience — users and Google need to be able to find what they’re looking for quickly. Even button sizes and designs can impact user interaction on your mobile website. Every element on your mobile website impacts a user’s experience and directly (or indirectly) affects SEO as well.
In searching for an example of a local business’s mobile website, I found the one shown below. For this company’s mobile site, more than half of the above-the-fold real estate is taken up with meaningless information like huge logos and social media buttons. Plus, their menu is teeny-tiny and doesn’t even say “Menu” — it says “Go To…” and has the actual link to the menu to the far right-hand side. This does not make for a very user-friendly experience.
This company would be better off taking the clutter away from the top of the screen and making their menu, products and services more prominent for their mobile users.
Simple and smart design decisions like this will go a long way to making not only your visitors happy, but Google, too!
SEO and UX: A winning combination
Hopefully, you can see how SEO and UX go hand-in-hand in creating a successful website experience for both your human visitors and the search engines.
But what do you think? Do you think of your site’s users when you are creating content? How do you work with your design team to ensure that your site makes for a great mobile experience for your users? What is your balance between SEO factors and UX factors? We’d love to know!
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Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.
From Search Engine Land:
Recent Headlines From Marketing Land, Our Sister Site Dedicated To Internet Marketing:
Search News From Around The Web:
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You may have heard about private blog networks (PBNs) before, but you may not be sure what they are or why they are used. A PBN is a network of websites used to build links (and therefore pass authority) to a single website for the purpose of manipulating search engine rankings. This scheme is similar to a link wheel or link pyramid, as it involves several different websites all linking to one another or to one central website.
While these types of schemes were used commonly years ago, PBNs are now considered a pure black hat tactic and should be avoided at all costs, as they can lead to a loss in rankings, or even a manual penalty. PBNs usually provide little to no long-term value to the websites they are linking to.
Google has long been fighting PBNs, and businesses caught up in this shady tactic have been made an example of over the years. One such case was the J.C. Penney link scheme that was exposed back in 2011 by The New York Times. As Google gets smarter and develops better technology to combat link spam techniques, it has become harder and harder for black hat SEOs to pull off a PBN successfully.
How to identify private blog networks
The key to identifying a PBN is the cross-site “footprint” where much of the technical data on the sites are the same. Old PBN networks were on the same IP, shared servers, had the same WHOIS information, or even used the same content across sites.
Today, PBNs are much more sophisticated and may be harder for users to spot because the sites span different industries, topics and layouts. When determining if a site is part of a PBN — and therefore one that you should avoid like the plague — consider the following:
A dead giveaway for many PBNs is having a similar backlink profile. If multiple sites have the same link profile, or if they all link to one website multiple times (especially where it seems like overkill or it isn’t relevant), then the site is likely part of a PBN — or, at the very least, is selling links. Google’s Penguin algorithm, which now runs in real time as part of the core ranking algorithm, can detect these kinds of schemes and devalue your website rankings as a result. In some cases, you could even wind up with a manual penalty.
However, simply owning several different websites doesn’t mean you are a private blog network. For example, media companies that own several sites and link to them in all website footers wouldn’t likely have to worry about being flagged as a PBN unless the websites weren’t related, there were dozens of links in the footers, or they were linking to similar internal pages repeatedly.
In addition, PBNs are generally groups of sites all owned by one company or individual, but separate individuals who are working together to link to one another could also be considered a PBN if there is a pattern of repeatedly linking to the same sites or pages across several different groups of websites.
How can you protect your site from PBNs?
No reputable SEO consultant will recommend private blog networks for link building or increasing website traffic. Unfortunately, your site may be involved in a PBN without your even knowing it, especially if you are outsourcing your link building activities to a third party. Buying links on sites like Fiverr or through other services may put your site in grave danger. And if anyone tries to convince you to participate in a link exchange (i.e., trade links with them), run.
Strong oversight of link-building activities is key. Educate yourself on which practices Google considers to be link schemes, and ensure that anyone responsible for building links to your site is strictly adhering to these guidelines; any reputable link builder should agree to be transparent about the links they are pursuing for you.
This will require some effort on your part, but remember: Just because you aren’t aware of what goes on behind the curtain doesn’t mean you won’t be held responsible for the consequences.
Best practices will ultimately win the day
You might feel frustrated by competitors who appear to be using spammy link-building techniques like PBNs. You could report them through a webspam complaint, of course. But even if you don’t, remember that their black hat tactics will eventually catch up to them.
While your competitor is relying on a PBN to get links, your company can build out more robust link-building campaigns based on best practices that have more staying power and aren’t frowned upon by search engines. Then, when your competitor gets busted and is demoted, deindexed or otherwise penalized, your site will have the advantage.
As a whole, private blog networks are a dangerous and unacceptable link-building strategy. A link should only be given when it truly provides value to the user — anything to the contrary may result in less visibility within search engine result pages, or even a manual penalty.
Save yourself and your company the headache of lost money, resources and time, and focus on better link-building tactics that will get you results without the strife.
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When it comes to digital marketing and search engine optimization, the devil is truly in the details. Seemingly trivial choices can have a dramatic effect on your web presence and search visibility, and nowhere is that more evident than in Google My Business (GMB).
GMB optimization has quickly become something of a cottage industry within the broader scope of SEO. By now, you’ve probably heard all about the importance of keeping your listings up to date with accurate store hours, phone numbers and addresses. Those are the no-brainer changes. How do you go beyond the low-hanging fruit to really make your GMB listing stand out?
Some relatively straightforward tweaks to Google My Business can have a profound effect on your listing’s visibility and your local pack ranking. They may seem deceptively simple, but these GMB hacks could make all the difference in the world.
OK, so you’ve updated your store listing with an accurate address — but does it follow recognized and standardized guidelines? Any irregularities within your GMB listing could adversely affect your local ranking.
Compare your address with the acceptable formatting and standards laid out by the United States Postal Service (USPS) and see how it stacks up. It may seem minor, but updating your address to bring it in line with USPS standards will help your local page ranking.
For organizations outside of the United States, be sure to check with your national guidelines on address standards.
Google My Business uses your listing address to generate geocodes, which in turn dictate where your store appears in Google Maps. This is not a foolproof process, however, and it’s not unheard of for businesses to have wildly inaccurate geocodes. Google Maps could put your store at a nearby intersection, or even several blocks away from its actual location.
You don’t want to make it any more difficult for your customers to find you, which is why it’s so important to ensure your listing has precise geocodes. This is doubly important for any business located in a larger metropolitan area. Denser areas could see more inaccurate geocodes, so city dwellers need to be extra mindful of this factor.
Google doesn’t change its algorithm for the fun of it. The company is always trying to improve its search engine so it returns results that closely align with users’ queries. With each new update, relevance becomes an even more important factor in a listing’s visibility.
The more precise you can be with your store category, the more likely your listing will appear for searches that match it. Don’t settle for overly broad store categories, even if they are technically accurate. Drill a little deeper to provide an accurate characterization of your business, and you’ll likely see better results.
Proximity to search
That same need for precision applies to your store’s listed location as well. It may be tempting for businesses located near a larger city (but still outside of it) to list that metropolis as their location. Why not, right? It could broaden your potential customer base.
Google takes location and proximity into account when calculating local page ranking, however. It won’t be fooled by businesses misrepresenting their location, and if anything, doing so will hurt those stores’ visibility. If your shop is in Skokie, Illinois, say so. Don’t pretend it’s located in Chicago to draw more eyeballs. You’ll be far more likely to rank for searches done in your area.
Cultivate (and respond to) reviews
Unknown quantities tend to scare off consumers. No one wants to be the first diner at a new, non-vetted restaurant or roll the dice on a barber with no track record of leaving customers satisfied with their haircut. More than ever, online reviews are critical to local page success. Encourage your customers to go online and leave a review for GMB to pick up on. The more reviews you have, the more exposure your business can get.
Business owners may be a little wary of online reviews given their mercurial nature. It doesn’t take much to get negative feedback, and those kinds of comments could reflect poorly on your store. However, such instances are opportunities to engage unhappy individuals and show other potential customers that you take their satisfaction seriously. Google recommends responding to both positive and negative reviews to improve your listing.
Create engaging content
An inactive site could be mistaken for a dead one. One area of optimization that’s easy to overlook is filling your site with engaging content. Creating new material to share with regular or potential customers is a good way to improve your local page ranking. Moreover, content that focuses on local events or area-specific concerns can help your search efforts immensely.
Additionally, consider making use of Google Posts, which allows you to publish events, promotions and other business updates directly to Google Search (in the Knowledge Panel) and Maps.
A recent study by Joy Hawkins and Ben Fisher suggests that use of Google Posts may have a mild impact on ranking.
Add relevant images
A picture says a thousand words, yet many stores neglect to include images in their Google My Business listing. Customers today like to do their online legwork before visiting a business and actively look for photos of products, store interior, signage and so on.
Uploading images can have a profound effect on your local ranking. I just recently worked with a client to optimize 70-plus GMB listings and saw that adding images alone increased traffic by 300 percent.
Remember when I said the devil is in the details? These are the kinds of details I was referring to. Something as seemingly insignificant as adding a store image can drastically increase the performance and visibility of your page listings.
Optimize those listings!
The beauty of it all is that none of the suggestions above are very time-consuming. It’s pretty easy to make some quick optimizations to your Google My Business listing and website that have the potential to increase online traffic.
Just remember: Every little bit helps when you’re trying to gain that competitive edge, so don’t ignore any updates because they seem inconsequential. With Google My Business, nothing is inconsequential.
The post Where to go next with your Google My Business listing appeared first on Search Engine Land.
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In this week’s Search In Pictures, here are the latest images culled from the web, showing what people eat at the search engine companies, how they play, who they meet, where they speak, what toys they have and more.
A terrace at the Google Singapore office:
Urchin light up neon sign at Google Analytics office:
Android statue ready for winter in New York:
Lots of mailboxes at Google:
Polish dress up day at Google:
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With hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, and even millions of pages, sites, social conversations, images and keywords to manage and optimize, enterprise SEO has become increasingly complicated and time-consuming. Using an enterprise SEO platform can increase efficiency and productivity while reducing the time and errors involved in managing organic search campaigns.
More specifically, managing SEO through an enterprise toolset can provide the following benefits:
If you are considering licensing an SEO software tool, MarTech Today’s “Enterprise SEO Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide” will help you decide whether or not you need to. This 42-page report examines the market for SEO platforms and the considerations involved in implementing this software into your business and includes profiles of 13 leading SEO tools vendors, capabilities comparison and recommended steps for evaluating and purchasing.
Visit Digital Marketing Depot to download “Enterprise SEO Platforms: A Marketer’s Guide.”
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Google made a few announcements for AdWords advertisers just in time before Black Friday kicks off the holiday shopping season in the US next week.
About a year ago, Google started testing promotion extensions in text ads. That beta extended to the new AdWords interface this summer. Now they are rolling out globally in all supported AdWords languages and currencies in the new AdWords interface (AKA the new AdWords experience). Promotion extensions let advertisers display specific offers in their text ads without having to create new ads. They can include a percentage off, a promotion code and offer period.
Custom intent audiences
On the Google Display Network, Google is rolling out custom intent audiences to enable advertisers to target “people who want to buy the specific products you offer–based on data from your campaigns, website and YouTube channel.”
Anthony Chavez, director of product management for AdWords, explained in a phone interview yesterday that there are two flavors of custom intent audiences. In one variation, advertisers can create their own based on topics and URLs that people who are likely to be interested in their products read about and visit. The second variation, is machine-learning based and automated. Google will create an audience based on the campaign and infer characteristics of target consumers.
The auto-generated custom intent audience lists will be surfaced to advertisers in the Audience Center as an auto-created audience. Google will show reach and performance estimates for each of these audiences.
A new way to test ad variations is also rolling out in the new AdWords. Google says you can now test this across thousands of ads in a few clicks. Google will show the results of the test once they are statistically significant.
You’ll find Ad Variations tab along with Campaign Drafts and Campaign Experiments in the new UI. The example below shows a headline test using “Happy Holidays”, but advertisers can also use ad variations to test display paths and descriptions.
Google wants you to be excited about the new AdWords experience
If you aren’t a fan yet of the new AdWords experience, you’re going to find it increasingly hard to resist it as more new features are rolled out exclusively in the new interface. As incentive for giving it a harder try, Chavez pointed out that the new interface has unified audience management in one place, improved the ads preview experience, and beefed up what’s show in the Opporutnities tab — including an MCC view that enables managers to apply recommendations across accounts.
“We are trying to make it more assistive to help managers be more effective and efficient,” said Chavez. One example is the campaign construction workflow now asks for the objective upfront and then surfaces most relevant features in set up workflow.
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