7 White Hat SEM Tactics to Become Google’s BFF

Breaking into a bank vault and making out like a literal bandit can be easier than pushing to the top of a SERP. But D. B. Cooper did it, so why can’t you? As you whittle away at those rankings, be sure to befriend Google and its mysterious algorithms by taking a stab at these white hat SEM tactics. Before you know it, you’ll be finishing each other’s…sandwiches.

Organic Search Decline

Source: Merkle

7. Diversify Your Branded Marketing Strategy

Of no surprise to anyone whose work has been to whack through Google’s weeds over the years, organic traffic is way down (see above). Where has that traffic gone, you ask? Google has kidnapped it, locked it in a dark-search basement, and there’s no ransom note for its safe return. You’re now having to replace that traffic with Google’s own properties: Reviews, Ads, Knowledge Panels, Answer Boxes, Maps—and the list goes on each time a new Google feature is released.

Yes, it’s true that Google has all your information. Yes, it’s true that over 34% of searches now result in NO CLICK AT ALL. Yes, it’s true that Google controls about 93% of the market. But you do have options to build a branded SERP.

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Secret SEO Audit Strategies to Assess Client Websites

“How are you going to make us number one?”

We get asked this on the reg, and so long as the planet revolves around the sun – I guess I did retain information from elementary school, after all – SEO specialists and marketers will continue to answer that question. It’s some sort of unbreakable rule written in digital stone.

Most salespeople shoot buzzwords from the hip when approaching new business. And that tactic works well since buzzwords are designed to excite, draw upon humankind’s innate neediness, and build up a euphoric sense of gratitude for being allowed entry into some mysterious, clandestine club. (Few have ventured past these doors and lived to tell their tale!)

However, unlike buzzwords, there’s nothing sexy about the term “SEO audit.” Consider how you would react if someone said they were auditing you. Just hearing the word—audit—makes you want to spit in the face of the first person to look at you funny. Say it out loud: Audit. Emphasize its syllables: Audit. Doesn’t it make you hate babies and want to stomp flowers into dust?

SEO Audit Tips

That, my friends, is no buzzword: It’s a buzzkill!

But should it be? The benefits of selling yourself as an expert SEO auditor typically outweigh the risks of mentioning it, so why have we slapped it with the “unsexy” label when it’s more like “nerdy chic”? Well, there’s no time like the present to take a stand and revolt. Follow these secret SEO auditing tips from the pros, and together we can Make Audits Sexy Again.

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Significant Digital Marketing Stats to End 2017

Ah, a new year! What better way to celebrate the conclusion of a turbulent 2017 than with some nerdtastic digital marketing data? Some of these “significant stats” may excite. Some may surprise. Some may make you shrug a shoulder. But they’re all true, so there’s that.

Enjoy.

Automotive Page Speed

Photo: marketingcharts.com

22 Seconds

The average mobile website takes more than 22 seconds to load completely. The average user abandons an unloaded mobile site after just 3 seconds. Can you see the dilemma there?

Within our direct market (automotive), the average mobile site speed comes in at a blistering (/s) 9.5 seconds. If you’re seeing high bounce rates on your dealer site, start by inspecting your site structure and caching settings, including how you’re utilizing mobile ads, banner graphics, vehicle images, and add-ons that may not generate a lot of attention in your heat maps.

320 Characters

In early December, Danny Sullivan (hi, Other-Danny!) officially announced Google had increased the character limit for meta descriptions, expanding the snippet length from ~160 to 320 characters.

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Why Do Google Search Results & Keyword Rankings Vary?

As digital marketers working toward those big-picture SEO results, we get this question pretty frequently: “Why do I see a different Google first page than you?”

The answer, as you may have guessed, is nuanced thanks to Google’s search algorithm complexities and extensiveness. Upon searching for a certain keyword or phrase, you may see a set of links on your home computer that differ from those on your smartphone or tablet. The same can be seen when comparing results between your location in, say, Las Vegas and your pal’s home in Reno.

While these subtle differences on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) might appear like a jumbled mess—for businesses pushing their brand, it can undoubtedly be inconvenient—we assure you that everything is working as intended…for the most part.

SERP Results Different

Different Google Search Page Results: Contributing Factors

Remember when keyword rankings were cut and dry? Oh, how times have changed! A decade ago, you would likely see the same results for certain keywords no matter your location or device. Now, Google considers a variety of factors that influence the first page, including:

  • Device (desktop, mobile, tablet)
  • Location by IP address
  • Browser
  • Search history (cookies, cached data, bookmarks)
  • Google account access
  • Ads shown
  • Keywords
  • Interpreted intent (micro-moments)

This SERP personalization has arguably been beneficial to users, but it can be an SEO headache for brands and marketers looking to make waves past local geographic borders. Because we’re such nice people, here are a few SERP tips and tricks to help you navigate these somewhat nauseating waters.

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TL;DR SEO Length Guidelines for 2017: Blogs & Page Content

We began this series discussing the recommended length of your meta tags, particularly meta descriptions and titles. Today, let’s not waste any time diving into page content and blog length. Yippee!

Blog Length

Blog Post Length

More words mean more opportunities to get picked up on a search engine results page—yeah, I guess that makes sense—but the real barometer of a blog’s success is how, or rather who you’re targeting. Do you want readers to leave with a newfound set of skills or knowledge, or would you rather they skim, share, and move on?

Longer blog posts should draw in more compounded “high intent traffic,” but four shorter posts might produce more total visits in the short term, even if the clickthrough, bounce, and conversion rates aren’t anything to write home about. (One must also consider the time it takes to create a robust 1000-word post versus four 250-word posts.) Each has its perks depending on your goal, but let’s swim through some data anyway.

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Unique & Creative Keyword Research Ideas You Should Try

Having trouble with keyword research? Sometimes the status quo needs to be reworked. If you’re strapped for terms, need some fresh ideas, or are branching into a brand-new niche or vertical, these inspired keyword research tactics might serve you well. In fact, we are certain they will.

Find New Terms on Wikipedia

As the most comprehensive online resource for information, Wikipedia (as if we needed to link it) is a great place to start with keyword ideas. Let’s start by searching on Wiki for the word “burrito,” because I’m quite hungry.

Wiki Burrito

As you can see, there are a few potentially useful pages that populate (and some that aren’t helpful). We’ll go ahead and mark terms like “burrito deluxe” and “burrito bar” as potential keywords.

Heading into the main “burrito” page, we’re given tons of information about what a burrito is, where it originated, how it’s spelled, etc. Here’s where your experience comes into play—you’ll want to identify the best on-page opportunities first, then transition to other pages that are internally linked.

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What’s Google Up To? (News, Updates & Changes)

“What are we going to do tonight, Google?”
“The same thing we do every night, Man in Boxers Eating Ice Cream: try and take over the world.”

Since June, we’ve seen a whole lot of movement from Google. We’ve all heard about the $2.7B fine the EU spanked Google with, but what else is new with the still-flourishing company that’s seemingly become the Brain to our Pinky?

GMB Messaging

Photo: support.google.com

Google My Business Mobile Messaging

Our auto dealers rely on the leads they acquire online, and now Google has given them yet another way to connect to potential customers. With the new messaging feature in Google My Business, companies can chat directly with customers who access their business listing page. But how does it work?

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9 Best Sources for Digital Marketing News & Insider Info

After a long and explosively noisy Fourth of July break—thanks to the neighbors, our dogs are still hiding away in the bathtub—we’re back to the SEM grindstone, as bright-eyed and bushy-tailed as can be. Our first series of business upon returning to our desks, however, was to get caught up on all the happenings in the wonderful world of “Digital Marketing.”

Digital Marketing Sources

A lot can happen in a few days, and as famed philosopher Ferris Bueller once said: “Life moves pretty fast. If you don’t stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it.” Let’s jump right into the fray. Here are our nine favorite resources for industry news, because life moves too fast, yada yada yada….

1.) Google “The Keyword” Blog

Of course, there’s no better way to get in the know than by listening to what comes out of the horse’s mouth. If you sort through the fluff—the hay, if you’ll indulge me in my attempt to make a Dad Joke—there’s a great deal of info to be had from Google’s blog. I tend to sort through blog topics that interest me and fall in line with our industry, such as “Machine Learning,” “Made by Google,” and “Ads,” to name a few.

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Are Google Page Images Ranking Factors?

Here’s a quick one for all of you in SEOville. According to CognitiveSEO’s months-old post, Google has started utilizing its “automatic object recognition” algorithm to analyze images—perhaps all in an effort to ascertain the image’s category and how it relates to the content it’s complementing. But will this new process affect overall site rankings?

Not so fast. Let’s first see how this all works.

Dog with Hat Image

Photo: research.googleblog.com

Image Object Detection Methods

In Google’s infancy, keyword-rich ALT tags were like SEO arrows that pointed to what the page was about—and it could certainly affect your rank. While we’ve evolved past that point, ALT text has continued to be a tried-and-true method of organizing and optimizing a page. With Google’s new method of object detection, ALT text will definitely play a smaller part in a much larger production.

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