What Does SEO Stand For?

Here is the deal: SEO is a big deal. And it has been for the last decade or so. If you own any piece of internet real estates like a website, blog, YouTube channel, or an app, you’ve heard of SEO. But, what does SEO stand for?

SEO Theory and Techniques (The Complete Guide to Ranking for a Newbie)

agency-seo

This post is not another “What is SEO. SEO helps you rank well” type of guide.

You are in the right place if you are not only searching for an advanced SEO meaning but also want to discover what you can do now to increase organic traffic to your website, or another online asset.

 

So, what is SEO?

The initials SEO stand for Search Engine Optimization.

We’ll break that down further. Shall we?

Search engines like Google, Bing, and Yahoo use algorithms to present the most relevant information to the searcher.

Picture this:

The internet is a massive, global library. When you want to find information on the internet, you are more likely than not to fire up your internet browser and type in what you are looking for. Sound familiar?

Say you want to learn how to start a business blog or how to create a niche blog on WordPress. What words, phrases or questions would you type into the Google Search box?

Here is an all too familiar example:

seo blogpost wordpress

Notice the first three search results are online advertisements (Google AdWords). But they are right on the money because they are relevant answers to your question.

So, what’s that got to do with search engine optimization in 2019 and beyond?

SEO is all about making your content visible to Google, Bing, Yahoo, and other search engines. Search engines, in turn, make it easy for people searching for information online to find relevant, helpful, and genuine information on different digital platforms.

Search engines do this by ranking websites ideally in order of how relevant, helpful and genuine the content they contain is.

The words, phrases, and questions a searcher types into a search engine box are collectively referred to as keywords.

The likes of Google search engine use keywords to help web browsers like you and I find the best information as fast as possible. Not to oversimplify it, the thinking is if the content of an online platform uses the same words, phrases and questions searchers are typing into search boxes, then that content is likely to give the latter satisfactory answers.

The combined mix of keywords and need for user satisfaction invented Search Engine Ranking Pages (SERPs).

 

What Does SERP Mean in SEO?

Here’s another familiar sight:

 

 

SERP example

An example of a Google search engine result page (SERP).

 

What Does Search Engine Optimization mean for Business?

SERPs are a big deal for businesses and marketers, and here’s why.

The higher up a SERP your website ranks, the more visitors you’ll get. In fact, websites that rank on the first page of Google search results take 92% of all traffic, according to Chitika.

google search results

Google web pages

Ranking on the second page of Google search results will see you get about 5% of the traffic. And it gets worse from there.

 

What Does SEO Mean in Marketing?

SEO helps you rank on the top pages of search results so you can be visible to your target audience. And you already know that buyers buy what they know exists.

Here’s the most interesting bit:

Improving your website ranking to number one on Google will help you fetch 33% of all traffic. Number two gets about 18%. And if you rank on page two of Google, you are likely to fetch only about 1.1% of visitors.

These visitors are also referred to as traffic. And the more traffic you get, the higher your chances of encouraging the visitors to consider your call-to-action.

Studies show providing useful content establishes you as an authority in your industry; that you know your stuff, and the visitor can trust you to help them learn to solve the problem they are looking for online.

 

SEO marketing

By providing the information they need, you can further provide calls-to-action visitors can take to get more answers to their question. For example, in the SERP screenshot above:

The first result is a WordPress ad inviting you to create a blog with them. The second is about Udemy, an online platform where you can learn new skills—which is what the search query is asking to learn: how to create a blog on WordPress. The next screenshot shows other sites that can teach you what you are looking to learn.

Poor SEO techniques can have you buried in, for instance, a position 3 of Page 9 of a SERP, where not many people are looking. Proper SEO techniques, on the flip side, can have you attracting free traffic to your website in the tens of thousands of targeted visitors.

SEO marketing is a set of activities that involve using search engine optimization methods to help you boost your online visibility as a brand.

SEO process

And what are these methods?

 

Types of SEO (Search Engine Optimization):

A web searcher (visitor) will click on your site from the SERP when they think you provide the best value for their time. Again, by providing high-quality content; relevant, helpful, and genuine content.

One of the most powerful SEO methods to implement for business is using geographical location; targeting searchers in a specific area.

Here’s how.

 

1.    Local SEO

What is local SEO?

Get this:

What that means…

…whether you are a local brick-and-mortar business or digital brand, you can benefit from becoming visible to potential customers in your area (or target area).

By using keywords your local target audience would use to find a product or service similar to yours, you can direct local online visitors to your local business—whether online or through foot traffic.

search from mobile vs desktop stats

Courtesy of Blue Corona

A robust local SEO strategy will involve listing your business on Google My Business. If you are a brick and mortar with a verified address, you can list. But if you take services to your clientele, you’ll want to register as a service area business; carpenter, plumber, cleaner, courier, and so on.

search result on mobile

google listing spot

Source: Google My Business

This is a good example of letting prospects know where to find you, what you offer locally, and whether they can reach you when they want to buy from you. You can also use online business directories like YellowPages, FourSquare, and Bing Places for Business.

Remember, you are not listing your business based on the market you serve, but where you are located. You can use a professional local SEO expert to help you set up your GMB mini-website and local SEO strategy if you need expert guidance.

Let’s take an example.

Searching “hotels in Lugano Switzerland” gives:

lugano hotels search results

Example of a Google local 3-pack listing via GMB

Potential customers can use this to find the best hotels in Lugano based on price, proximity, customer reviews, open hours, menu, description, nearby attractions, hotel class, discounts, amenities, directions, and so on.

In fact, a Moz Study showed while 44% of local searchers click on the local 3-pack listing, only about 8% search for more information past it. They get what they want. Fast.

All that information has to do with optimizing a hotel’s local SEO. It is about providing the information they need when they need it to decide their next action.

You can:

There is more. If you like to see some great ways to improve the organic traffic from the Local-Based Keywords to your web pages please read our blog post here.

 

2.  National SEO

As the name suggests, national SEO is about targeting a nationwide audience with that nation’s keywords.

National SEO is similar to local SEO in that you’ll want to target potential customers that are looking for products or services based in a specific area. It’s also based on localization optimization.

Only this time on a national scale as opposed to the neighborhood, city, county approach used in local search marketing.

Instead, you can target keywords and on-page SEO techniques (such as Maps) based on your state or country.

 

3.  International SEO

With International SEO, you’d be looking to appeal to regional and global audiences. That means your SEO needs to use keywords that encourage anyone from anywhere to find your business online.

This SEO strategy is ideal for companies that serve global markets. Otherwise, it would be a waste of resources to market locally sold products or services to a worldwide audience that is unlikely to ever buy from you.

So, how do you do that?

By optimizing your website pages for relevant keywords to your intended global audience.

 

How to Do SEO: What is the process of Search Engine Optimization?

So when someone is trying to understand what does SEO stand for, it is crucial to learn the process of website optimization.

Clearly, the importance of SEO to business cannot be understated. But how do you know what people are searching for online so you can use similar phrases in your SEO strategy and content marketing campaigns?

How do you attract traffic to your site using keywords? How do you know which keywords to use and which ones to leave out of your plan? What makes one SEO strategy more effective than the other?

 

Keyword research is the start for the SEO process, and it defines if you are going to get visible in front of the right audience.

You chose the wrong keywords you waste a lot of resources, including time.

 

And what is keyword research?

Simply, it is about finding out the words, questions, phrases, sayings, and more your target audience are using to find the relevant information to search query (and related products, services, or a combination of both)?

 

What is the importance of keyword research?

By understanding the terms and related terms potential customers enter into search engines to find relevant products and services, you can strategically inject similar terms into your content, so it is easily discoverable by the very people looking for it.

Keyword research is to search engine optimization what fuel is to fire.

 

And how do you do keyword research?

You can go at it manually.

You can search on online platforms such as reviews sites, online forums, and social media channels. You’d be seeking to find how potential customers discuss, describe, word, phrase, and even lament about your industry niche.

Also, you can pick some time-relevant, popular and effective keywords from the bottom of Google’s SERP pages in the “Searches Related to…” section free of charge.

related keyword research

Google’s free keyword research tool

But this can be a lengthy process. And even the best SEO companies take time to gather actionable, long-term keywords.

Alternatively, you can use online search tools to almost automate your search, get suggested keywords and volume data for each keyword. Some of the best keyword research tools include:

Still, if you prefer to hire an SEO expert to do the search and integrate results into your SEO strategy on your behalf, that is okay too.

Whichever way you choose, you’ll want to be keen about using the keywords you find. Because how you use them matters a lot.

 

Targeting long-tail keywords vs Short length keywords

A particularly important portion of SEO and search marketing is to be precise on longtail keywords vs. short-tail keywords.

And what are long-tail keywords and short-tail keywords?

A Long-tail keyword is a keyword phrase that typically comprises of three or more words. Short-tail keywords have less than three words and are broad in their target. Long-tail keywords generally are smaller search volume and less competitive phrases. So if you find it difficult to rank for “dental clinic Leeds” you’d rather choose a long-tail keyword “the teeth whitening dental clinic in Leeds”.

Let’s take an example:

If you entered the keyword “shirts” into a web search engine or an e-commerce search tool, you’d get a massive catalog of shirt results—from Hawaiian shirts to formal shirts.

Would that be satisfactory?

Not when you want to find formal cotton shirts.

Now picture your target market. If a web searcher is looking for shirts, it likely means they are yet to be specific enough to make a purchase decision.

On the other hand, a web searcher that types “official cotton shirts” is advanced in the buyer journey.

They already are aware of the kind of shirts they need. So a long-tail searcher is also much more likely to convert faster. This is a prospect not a lead, a potential customer who is actually looking to make a purchase—not learn what you do.

It gets deeper.

For example, you can use specific LSI keywords to target specific segments.

By using an LSI such as “best notebooks under $650” is likely to connect with potential notebook buyers who are on a budget and need a right mix of quality components, stable performance, and at an affordable price.

Due to their specificity, long-tail keywords are also easier to rank for than short-tail keywords.

In fact, long-tail keywords are ideal for small businesses SEO strategies because not only are most small businesses niche by nature but also because long-tail keywords have less keyword competition hence low keyword difficulty.

Large businesses (which have big SEO budgets to spend) tend to rank much better for shorter keywords, making it tough for smaller companies to rank well. And it can take years for the latter to break into the first pages of Google/Bing/Yahoo/etc.

Now that the time issue’s come up, how long does it take to rank at the top of SERPs?

 

How much time does SEO take?

 time-SEO

The answer is…

…it depends.

 

Really.

Here’s why:

There are literally hundreds of search ranking factors that come into play when creating a sound SEO strategy and in implementing one.

A more complex one is to do with keyword matrices. The combination of various, relevant keywords, including long-tail and short-tail keywords is also known as practicing Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keyword optimization.

LSI is about using a combination of keywords in contextual format and optimizing how they relate. For example, keywords like “dog”, “puppy”, and “breed” relate to the same context.

Link building is another influential ranking factor worth implementing.

Warning! Please be careful with link building because Google penalizes over-optimized websites with unnatural links. Your content needs to be so good that other websites start referring to your webpage to help the searcher get all the relevant answers. That is a natural link building technique and gives Google a strong signal that your webpage deserves a higher ranking. But if you buy spammy links, then it’s almost a guarantee that your website is going to be banned or penalized (Google called such action “a manual action”). Google’s algorithm is very advanced nowadays.

So to answer a question on how much time does it take to rank a webpage or a website we’d say it really depends on your website quality and on the competition. The SEO industry pretty much agrees that a website owner needs to be patient and work hard on natural optimization. On average, some good positive results can be achieved within 4-8 month unless you are up against the competitor that has been optimizing the web pages professionally for years.

But to avoid turning this SEO guide into a book, the most important search engine optimization stages can come down to three, which we’ll discuss here.

Let’s break each down, shall we?

 

Technical SEO

It is not as mind-boggling tough as it reads.

technical-SEO

Technical SEO is all about the search engine optimization aspects that do not involve content or links. So, no keyword density, keyword difficult, and long-tail keywords to deal here.

But what does technical SEO involve?

Here are the major factors to keep in mind:

These are just some of the most important technical SEO factors to look out for.

 

On-Page SEO

What is on-page SEO?

The term refers to all the tasks you can do on your website to rank higher on search engine results.

on-page-seo

Such factors include:

Ensuring your site nails these search engine ranking factors is the first step to boosting the visibility of site online.

However, there is one MAJOR factor that has been increasing with lightning speed in importance – USER EXPERIENCE and USER BEHAVIOR. You absolutely must make sure your web page provides a great user experience so the website visitor does get all the answers to their query. If they don’t, they move from your website and keep on reading on your competitor’s website. If they stay longer on your competitor’s website than on yours, move to other relevant and engaging web pages on that rival’s website, it’s a matter of short time for Google to place your competitor higher in search results than your web page. It’s a simple concept. Write better content, provide a better user experience, and you’ll be rewarded with more online visibility by Google.

The next step is to execute your off-page SEO strategy.

 

Off-Page SEO

So, what is the meaning of off-page SEO?

off-page-SEO

Contrary to on-page SEO techniques, off-page SEO involves all the things you can do directly off your site to rank high up the SERPs.

Some of the best off-page SEO ranking factors include:

Therefore, the answer to how long it takes to rank on top of Google is it takes as much time as you and your SEO professionals can get technical, on-page and off-page SEO factors in order.

 

White Hat vs Black Hat? What’s the danger?

White hat SEO techniques are the legitimate SEO methods to use to rank high in search results. They include on-page, off-page, and technical SEO best practices—as discussed in the above section.

Blackhat SEO techniques, on the other hand, violate Google Guidelines because they involve manipulation of the ranking algorithm. Black Hat techniques can lead to website penalization or even de-indexation from Google Search.

black-hat-seo

It is important to keep track of white hat vs black hat ranking techniques by occasionally conducting a thorough SEO audit of your site.

Because white hat methods do change to black hat approaches, you might find your site penalized for a mistake you didn’t even realize you were making.

To be safe and safeguard your ranking, even when the latest Google updates strike, you’ll want to avoid using black hat SEO methods and rely on white hat SEO principals instead.

But what if you need to rank fast?

What if you need to outrank your competition to stay in business? What can you do to boost your visibility fast and tidy?

Search marketing could help you boost your digital marketing campaign.

 

Search marketing definition

Search marketing leverages both paid and unpaid online advertising to promote a site and get traffic to your web pages. SM branches further into Search Engine Marketing (SEM) and Organic Search.

Primarily, SEM involves using pay-pay-click (PPC) advertising to increase a site’s visibility faster compared to using organic methodologies (organic keywords and link building methods over some time).

And what if you want to learn SEO on your own, so you can practice search marketing on your own sites? You can tap the best SEO tips from the best in the field.

 

How much should a business allocate to SEO:

seo-budget

This question is frequently asked by the business owners and marketing executives. According to Forbes, every business needs to invest in the SEO – in-house or on professional external SEO agency or a consultant. An amount of USD 1,000 per month is a recommended bare minimum for a small business. Large organizations spend millions on SEO monthly.

 

Biggest SEO influencers worldwide:

  1. Google

The most dominant search engine on the planet receives over 2 billion monthly searches. Want to keep ahead of all the latest Google Search algorithm updates and more? For example, get some tips & tricks and learn how Google Search Console works from the horse’s mouth by following the Google Blog.

  1. Ahrefs Blog

The platform brings together keyword research, backlinking, content and technical SEO in one place. Ahrefs is recognized as one of the most advanced tools by SEO community.

  1. MOZ Blog

Rand Fishkin and team create educative blogs, videos and hold weekly podcasts to share their SEO and link building strategies with a solid following—which gets what it deserves.

  1. Backlinko

Brian Dean is one of the most influential figures in SEO. He is particularly celebrated for inventing the Skyscraper Technique of white hat link building.

  1. Neil Patel

Recognized by Forbes Magazine as one of the top digital marketers in the world right now, Neil teaches both simple and advanced methods to increase website traffic. Neil provides great tips for those starting their SEO journey.

  1. Matt Cutts

The former webspam team head at Google has a wealth of Google, SEO and gadgets’ wisdom to share on his blog.

Or perhaps you preferred a more strategic, step-by-step and guided SEO tutorial or SEO agency to help you along?

 

SONDORA SA – SEO agency in Lugano, Switzerland

Search engine optimization is a sophisticated and highly technical internet marketing strategy. But it is worth every effort. You can attract high-quality traffic to your website with almost zero financial strains compared to other methods.

What if you had a professional SEO service at your disposal?

As a Sondora SA client, you can get all the search marketing hacks you need to attract more business. You can focus on serving your customers instead of tweaking 301 redirects on edge.

You’ll have a full-fledged team of professionals on call.

Here is how our SEO project team looks like:

Best SEO team setup

You’ll get a complete SEO audit done to reveal what is hurting your search engine ranking. And have them corrected to help you increase your visibility among other benefits for your business.

 

About the Author:

Matteo Iannelli is the Digital Marketing Manager at SONDORA MARKETING. He has been optimizing clients’ websites locally, nationally and internationally for over ten years. Matteo is always on the toe to create another most-proud-client-moment—like when the team helped a client skyrocket his e-commerce website traffic from 100 visitors to 15,000 visitors per month. After a thorough SEO audit and research that focused on buying intent keywords, it took only 12 weeks to start ranking for multiple significant keywords.

2020 Local SEO: Awesome & Easy Hacks to Dominate the Google Maps Listings

Over the past couple of years, Google has made clear its commitment to websites that focus on local business SEO. This significant shift in policy has spurred millions to revisit their search strategies and bring expert external local SEO services on board. For others, working in-house with a handful of tried and tested local SEO tips is the preferred approach.

Disclaimer: We have obtained an award from Google for Google My Business optimization so we are biased.

In any case, the importance of local search engine optimization cannot be overstated. Nor can its potential for delivering an exceptional ROI. 35% of the clicks and this number is growing, land on Google My Business Listings.

 

What is Local Search?

As the name suggests, the term ‘local search’ applies when a web user carries out an online search for a product or service within a specific geographic area.  Basic examples of which may include:

Local Google Search Example

Today, approximately 46% of all searches carried out on Google are local. In addition, the local ‘Three-Pack’ appears right at the top of the rankings for around 93% of searches with local intent. Two figures that highlight the relevance and importance of local search.

Building a successful local search engine optimization strategy means combining a series of elements in a unified, local-focused campaign – ensuring your business information is consistent across the web, registering your business with Google Maps, claiming your Google My Business listing, localizing your content and so on.

These are the basic fundamentals of a local business SEO strategy, but not nearly enough to position you ahead of your competitors. If your goal is to climb the rankings and top the table for the most relevant search terms, you need to think about more dynamic and creative local SEO solutions.

 

Local SEO Tips and Hacks You Probably Didn’t Know

Figuring out how to do local SEO properly as a newcomer to search marketing can be tricky. Precisely why most outsource their requirements to established local SEO agencies. But even if you bring in outside help, it’s useful to know the kinds of local SEO tactics that deliver the strongest possible results.

The following local SEO tactics have demonstrated their capacity to deliver an unbeatable ROI:

 

Take Note of Competitors’ Google My Business Categories

When you create a Google My Business page, you will be asked to select a category for your business. A basic example of which being ‘Construction Equipment Supplier’. The main category you choose is the category that will show up in the SERP listings when your business appears. However, it’s perfectly possible to add a further 10 categories to your Google My Business page invisible categories – categories that could boost your local SEO performance.

For a good idea of the categories, you should be adding to your Google My Business page, find one or more of your closest competitors’ Maps listings, right click and select ‘Page Source’.

findgin GMB Listing Source Code

Ctrl-F to search for their primary category and you’ll find it (highlighted in red), complete with their other categories (highlighted in yellow) as in the example below:

Finding Competitors Google My Business Categories

A quick and easy way to pinpoint which categories you should choose for your Google My Business page.

 

Localize Your Images

This is a useful hack for businesses and professionals who carry out most of their work on location and away from their primary business address. It’s simply a case of using the tool available at www.geoimgr.com, which can be used to put a geo-tag on any specific image for your business location.

Simply enter the name of your business and find your listing in Google Maps, drag and drop your image into the pane on the right-hand side of the screen and it will be localized with a location tag. This will help Google determine that this image is connected with your business, ultimately contributing to stronger performance in the local SERP rankings.

The more high-quality images of relevance and value you localize in this way, the bigger the impact on your local business SEO strategy.

Additional: use the filename ‘keyword-location.jpg’ for each of your localized images to maximize its local SEO value. Keywords should be selected strategically on the back of your on-going local keyword research.

 

Remove Spammers from the Local Three-Pack

Unsurprisingly, the local SEO tactics adopted by some businesses aren’t what you’d call white-hat or ethical. Adding keywords to your business name can help you climb the rankings and appear more prominently. However, these are the kinds of local SEO tactics that actually contravene the terms and conditions set out by Google.

If your business name appears in the title of any Google Business Page, you’re probably looking at a spammer.

spammy GMB Listing example

 

One option for dealing with spammers is to use the ‘Suggest an Edit’ feature to directly report the inaccuracy to Google. Some prefer to avoid using this tip that takes direct aim at the competition, but it’s everyone’s responsibility to play by the rules.

 

Track Missing Google My Business Traffic in Google Analytics

One of the issues with Google My Business and your knowledge panel within the search results is when it shows up in Google Analytics, it shows up as Google organic. This means you don’t have any real idea of how much traffic is coming from maps or locations, along with what traffic is coming from the actual SERP listings.

This is where a tool called ‘Campaign URL Builder’ can help. Created by Google, it allows the user to create custom tracking links that make it possible to distinguish between Google organic traffic and Google My Business traffic.  Once up and running, you’ll find the information you need presented as follows:

Tracking Google My Business Traffic in Google Analytics

This will enable you to keep a much closer eye on the performance of your campaign and make adjustments accordingly. If you want to know how to do it exactly, please ask me in the comment to this blog post.

 

Get Stars for Your Google Search Listing

It’s hard to deny the appeal or influence of an organic SERP listing that’s accompanied by five bright shining stars. A tried and tested approach to ensure your listing stands out from the crowd and attracts attention.

dding stars to your Google Business Pages is a process that takes place over four separate stages:

  1. Collect unique and genuine reviews
  2. Add the reviews to your website, but don’t feature them on your home page
  3. Drive internal or external links to the page
  4. Modify the Schema Markup code

For WordPress website users, there’s a significantly easier option. Head to the Rich Plugins website, find the Google Reviews widget and add it to the footer of every page across your entire website. Activate the widget by turning on Google Rich Snippets as follows:

insert Google Reviews widget

 

After which, your reviews should be automatically converted to stars in the organic SERP listings.

 

Local Link Building Hacks

Winning links from similar local businesses and relevant local sources tell Google that you’re the real deal. It also confirms you’re a genuine local business, making it one of the most important local SEO tactics at your disposal.

Effective link building can be complex, but it’s nonetheless possible to find hundreds of local links in seconds by carrying out an advanced search. Simply enter into the search bar:

Then, add to the end of the resulting URL:

You’ll then be presented with a list of 100 results on one page, rather than the usual 10.

Next, download the Moz toolbar (which is free) and this will allow you to download a CSV file of the results, which can then be saved in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. A spreadsheet packed with local businesses you can reach out to as part of your local link building campaign.

 

Keyword Optimized Google My Business Reviews

The reviews that appear on your Google My Business page are among the most important of all ranking factors. Whatever kind of business you’re in, it’s important to take a proactive approach to the collection of reviews.

Along with the unique appeal and influence of this kind of social proof, you can also bring your keyword research strategy into your Google My Business review project. Research has shown that keyword optimized reviews can have a dramatic impact on a wider local SEO campaign – particularly where the local Three-Pack at the top of the rankings is concerned.

Getting more relevant keywords into your reviews can be achieved as followed:

  1. Survey your customers, rather than asking them for reviews.
  2. Take the best answers within the responses and tweak them with keywords.
  3. Send the text back to the customer with a link to post it.

Despite being one of the simplest local SEO tips going, it’s also one of the most effective. Google is paying closer attention than ever before to the content of your reviews – why not take more proactive control of them?

!Additional: You can enhance the impact of this local SEO tactic further by also adding keywords to your replies.

 

Stand Out in GMB with Emojis 😜

Google takes an active interest in the way people, in general, engage with your business. From clicks to bounce rates, popularity and engagement count for a lot.

It may not be the most complex of local SEO solutions, but using emojis to stand out and make your presence known can be surprisingly effective. Your Google Business Pages allow for emojis to be added to your business name, which can significantly increase visibility in the SERP rankings. Nevertheless, evidence suggests that comparatively few businesses are using emojis to their advantage.

 

Links to Google Search Pages

How often people search for your brand name is taken into account by Google as a measure of popularity and engagement. Hence, if there’s anything you can do to encourage more searches for your brand, you probably should.  Traditional marketing and online/offline advertising is an option, but there’s a neat trick to try out that’s easy to pull off.

When you send emails, newsletters or general marketing materials to new or existing customers, you probably include links to your home page. Instead of sending traffic directly to your home page, try linking to a Google search for your brand. The users will be directed to a Google SERP with your link right at the top, boosting your perceived value and popularity in the process.

You can also do the same with links to company contact information or directions, which could divert the customer to a Google My Business/Google Maps directions request accordingly.

 

Reach Out to Google Without the Usual Hassle

Last but not least, if you encounter any difficulties with getting approvals with your Google My Business page – initial approval, edits/alterations, etc. – there’s a useful hack for getting in touch with Google much quicker and easier for those living outside of the US.

Contrary to popular belief, the best channels to use when reaching out to Google are in fact Twitter and Facebook.

In the vast majority of instances, Google replies to queries significantly faster on Twitter and Facebook than they do via own channels. What’s more, to contact Google via social media is to reach out to Google’s primary support team in the United States. As opposed to a local representative branch, which may not be quite as helpful.

 

Expert Local SEO Services – Full-Service SEO Solutions

So what are the benefits of hiring professional local SEO services, over and above the DIY method? Or, if you choose to go it alone, what kinds of local SEO tips should you be prioritizing?

By its nature, local search engine optimization can be both complex and time-consuming. If you have neither the skills nor the resources needed to front a multi-dimensional SEO strategy, it pays to hire help.

Outsourcing local SEO requirements can open the door to the best possible ROI while allowing you to focus on running your business. Whether you’re new to local SEO or you have a campaign already in progress, bringing in the right people at the right time really can make all the difference. We’ll be happy to help if you need any assistance.

Googlebot in 2019 – How Does It Actually Work?

If you take a proactive approach to SEO, you’ll no doubt be familiar with the term ‘Googlebot’. If not, here’s its official definition as provided by Google:

“Googlebot is the generic name for Google’s web crawler. Googlebot is the general name for two different types of crawlers: a desktop crawler that simulates a user on the desktop, and a mobile crawler that simulates a user on a mobile device.”

In a purely matter-of-fact capacity, Google provides a fair amount of information on positive SEO practices. Nevertheless, they aren’t typically in the habit of providing the answers SEO specialists and webmasters really want.

As something of a break from the norm, Google’s Martin Splitt and Microsoft’s Suz Hinton recently sat down to discuss all things Googlebot in 2019. What it does, how it behaves and the more general information marketers and webmasters need to know.

Detailed below, you’ll find a selection of key questions raised during the meeting, along with a summary of the answers provided by both parties:

 

What Is Googlebot (and What Isn’t it?)

Much of the confusion surrounding SEO in general stems from the fact that most people have no idea how the Googlebot works. Even if they’re familiar with the concept, they may not understand its mechanics, its functions and its objectives.

According to Splitt, the Googlebot is simply a piece of software used to crawl websites, index web pages and help assign rankings. The system is designed to analyze web content, determine its value and decide who it should be presented to in the SERP rankings. The most appropriate content for any given query being prioritized and positioned more prominently.

However, Googlebot itself isn’t responsible for assigning rankings. Instead, it provides Google with the information required to make decisions and adjustments regarding SERP rankings. Googlebot essentially creates a ‘catalog’ of content by indexing web pages – SERP rankings are determined elsewhere.

 

Does Googlebot Behave Like a Web Browser?

Initially, Googlebot behaves in a similar way to a web browser. The software finds a website by way of a link or a sitemap submission, or through countless other detection methods. It’s also possible to direct site indexation or re-indexation if necessary. After which, the initial website visit occurs in a similar way as with any conventional web browser.

 

How Often Does Googlebot Crawl?

The frequency with which Googlebot crawls is calculated in accordance with the nature of the website and its content respectively. In the case of a dynamic website that’s likely to be updated with relevant content on a regular basis, it will be crawled more regularly than a predominantly static website.

A typical working example of which being news or current events website, which is updated around-the-clock with important news updates. Google wants to ensure it brings relevant information to its audiences the moment it is published, which in turn means crawling such sites more regularly to update its index accordingly.

By contrast, a retail store that’s updated once every few weeks needn’t necessarily be crawled as often. Just as an academic portal with relatively static content may not need to be crawled with any real regularity. Google also enforcers measures to ensure spammy sites are crawled infrequently, which can have a negative impact on their SEO performance.

It’s also possible to instruct Google not to index certain pages of a website if the respective webmaster doesn’t want the information to appear in the search results.

 

What About Crawlers & JavaScript-Based Websites?

Webmasters and business owners operating JavaScript-based websites have long been concerned with Google’s ability (or lack thereof) to successfully crawl and index their pages. Given how crawlers have been traditionally incapable of executing JavaScript, they’ve effectively see blank pages when attempting to crawl JavaScript content.

Contrary to popular belief, this is no longer the case with Googlebot. Today’s Googlebot is designed to effectively execute JavaScript and index the site’s content accordingly. Albeit at a later point, having been subjected to Google’s ‘web rendering service’ and the use of a second browser.

Google, therefore, recommends the mindful and strategic use of JavaScript, due to its capacity to significantly slow down the indexation and subsequent ranking processes.

 

How Can You Tell if Googlebot Visits Your Website?

Interestingly, Google makes no attempt to hide its crawling activities from webmasters and online business owners. It’s actually pretty easy to identify a Googlebot visit, as outlined in Google’s official webmaster support pages:

“Your website will probably be crawled by both Googlebot Desktop and Googlebot Mobile. You can identify the subtype of Googlebot by looking at the user agent string in the request. However, both crawler types obey the same product token (user agent token) in robots.txt, and so you cannot selectively target either Googlebot mobile or Googlebot desktop using robots.txt.”

 

What’s the Difference Between Mobile-First Indexing and Mobile Friendliness?

Addressing one of the most common questions among mobile-focused webmasters, Splitt explained that indexing is about Google ‘discovering content using a mobile user agent and a mobile viewport’. It’s essentially a case of prioritizing mobile-friendly content to be added to Google’s mobile index, rather than desktop content that may not be as appropriate for mobile audiences.

Mobile-friendliness – aka mobile-readiness – simply refers to the quality and appropriateness of a website’s content and layout for mobile access. If every aspect of a webpage or website can be browsed and interacted with using a mainstream mobile device, it’s considered mobile-friendly by Google.

Google’s efforts to index mobile content have been stepped up recently over the past couple of years, in order to satisfy the expectations and requirements of fast-growing mobile audiences worldwide.

 

What Are the Most Critical Quality Indicators for Ranking?

Last but not least, Google once again took the opportunity to confirm that more than 200 signals (or ranking indicators) are used to assign value to any given website. Mobile-friendliness has been cited as one of the most important quality indicators for websites in 2019 but by no means the only indicator taken into account.

Interestingly, Splitt also confirmed that the value assigned to each of these 200+ quality indicators is continuously moving and changing. One of the many measures making it increasingly difficult for black-hat SEO strategies to produce positive results.

The moral of the entire story being eloquently summarised by Splitt in one simple plea to the masses:

“Just build good content for the users and then you’ll be fine!”

 

Author: Matteo Iannelli, Head of Digital Marketing at SONDORA MARKETING.

Misleading Google Analytics: Why It Pays Off to Read Between the Lines

Introduction: Are Agencies Out to Mislead?

In my experience, it’s rare to come across a digital agency that makes deliberate attempts to deceive with misleading analytics. That said, this doesn’t mean that misleading analytics in a general sense aren’t rife. Agencies sometimes fall into the trap of presenting inaccurate findings and voicing misguided suggestions without even realizing it.
As is the case with many things in life, the key to successful use of web analytics lies in interpretation.

With growing regularity, I’m approached by clients looking for clarification of data that appears to paint an inaccurate picture. If you’ve been operating a website for more than a day or so, it’s likely you’ll already be familiar with Google Analytics. It’s also probable you’ve got to grips with the basics of GA and appreciate the significance of the data produced.
Nevertheless, I felt it prudent to present a few facts and findings on the subject of misleading analytics, which I believe could help almost any online business. Or at least, any business owner who takes a proactive interest in the performance and prosperity of their organization.

Table of Contents:
• Introduction: Are Agencies Out to Mislead?
• Not All Bounce Rates Are the Same
• On Page Time: More = Better…Right?
• What vs. Why
• Digging Deeper…

What vs. Why

In terms of keyword use and optimization, let’s consider another everyday example. You stock both tennis balls and footballs in your online store, only to find that tennis balls are converting 200% better. You’ve focused heavily on both keywords – ‘tennis balls’ just seems to be delivering better results.

On the surface, this would seem to suggest that ‘tennis balls’ is not only the better keyword but also the product you should be investing your time, effort and money in. The problem being that by placing your decisions purely on basic analytics alone, you could be making a big mistake.

For example, it could be that there’s a major tennis tournament taking place at the time and generating unusual interest in tennis balls. It could also simply be that the pictures and product descriptions you have accompanying your footballs aren’t nearly as impressive as those accompanying your tennis balls. Long story short, there are endless plausible explanations as to why you’re selling more tennis balls than footballs.

Explanations you won’t find in the most basic Google Analytics data.

It’s the classic case of focusing on what is happening as opposed to why it is happening. With Google Analytics, you’re provided with a detailed snapshot of what’s going on with your website at the time. Nevertheless, Google Analytics itself cannot be relied upon to accurately and effectively interpret its own data.

Ultimately, it’s down to you or your digital marketing partner to make sense of the data and optimize your campaigns accordingly.

Not All Bounce Rates Are the Same

For example, thousands (maybe even millions) of online businesses gauge their success or otherwise predominantly on bounce rates. The way they see it, the greater the proportion of people ‘bouncing’ from their website without taking action, the more urgent the action that needs to be taken. Bounce rates are calculated by way of a percentage of the total number of visitors who visit your website – those who fail to convert or interact.

But here’s the thing, not all bounce rates are created equally.

Think of it this way – how many times have you visited a website or a restaurant, in order to check out its menus and perhaps take its phone number? Or for that matter, looked up a product or service you’re definitely going to buy, but chose not to buy online at the time? Given the fact that you didn’t convert or take action, your visit is classified as a bounce…aka, a failure with the standard interpretation of bounce rates.

Hence, having a bounce rate as high as even 80% or so doesn’t necessarily mean everyone is bailing on your site dissatisfied or disillusioned. With bounce rates, it’s of critical importance to read between the lines and determine what your customers are doing when they pay you a visit.

On Page Time: More = Better…Right?

Another common metric used to gauge the quality and effectiveness of a website is on-page time. That being, the amount of time the average user spends on your website. For obvious reasons, it’s naturally assumed that more is better.

As with the example above, however, this again isn’t necessarily the case. If you’re running a relatively simple e-commerce business, an individual spending a good 5 minutes browsing your products or services is great. That’s more than enough time for them to see what you’ve got to offer, check out your products and maybe even make a purchase.

By contrast, individual spending more than 5 minutes on the website of a doctor or dentist could suggest they’re struggling to find the information they need. It’s a tricky yet important balancing act to pull off – you need to retain the attention of the visitor, but you also need to ensure they get what they need as quickly as possible.

So once again, you cannot base your judgments or decisions on on-page time alone. At both ends of the scale, you could end up reading into data that paints a wholly misleading picture.

Digging Deeper…

Over the last couple of years in particular, I’ve noted a distinct uptick in the number of clients I work with who’ve taken an active interest in analytics. The problem is that in the vast majority of instances, it’s only a passing interest. Unfortunately, a fleeting glance at the most basic analytics from time to time is the perfect recipe for misinterpretation.

Personally, I recommend investing a minimum of 15-30 minutes every week in Google Analytics, Google Ads Manager and Google Search Console observation and analysis. Irrespective of your experience with GA/GSC to date, this is the minimum amount of time required to dig deeper than the surface and figure out what’s really going on.

Once again, the key to effective and efficient use of analytical data lies in separating the ‘what’ from the ‘why’. GA can present all the factual data in the world, but it can’t tell you what to do with it or how to interpret it.

If you struggle to make sense of GA, it’s worth considering third-party involvement for the benefit of your business.

Author: Dennis Dubner, CEO of SONDORA MARKETING