Is Your Website Ready for Mobile-First Rankings?

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It has been an open secret (in marketing circles at least) that Google has been using mobile usability as a ranking factor for some time. And they have hinted at that becoming an even larger factor going forward.

Now, there is no published guide, nor will there ever be, that tells marketers how Google ranks websites. But one thing is very clear, in a mobile world, mobile rankings matter. Google knows this, and if your company is late to creating a great mobile experience for your visitors, you are about to see your traffic tank.

Pretty soon, without a mobile-friendly website, customers won’t be able to find you. They will search on Google (by typing or speaking) and a whole bunch of your competitors will show up. But you won’t.

Your website may continue to get traffic from people coming there directly, or from desktop searches. But those are becoming a smaller and smaller piece of the pie. And pretty soon your traffic will fall to zero.

Don’t let that be you.

What Matters on Mobile

Mobile usability depends on three things:

  1. Speed. Speed always matters online. But it matters even more for mobile. When customers are on their phone, they want things fast. The longer your website takes to load, the more annoyed they get, and the more likely they get to hit the BACK button. Google doesn’t want them to do that. So the more people that do that, the lower your ranking will get.
     
  2. Navigation. The way your customers move around your website on a phone is different than on a desktop. Instead of links, they need buttons. Instead of nav bars, they need menus. If a user can’t find their way from point A to point B, they will get frustrated. The sooner they do, the more likely they are to leave your website. Google doesn’t want that, and you’re going to get punished for it.
     
  3. Readability. Content that does not resize to a user’s screen is often difficult to read or interact with. Too much clutter or tiny type size are two of the most painful mobile usability issues that still happen on many websites. But again, these issues will lead to unhappy users. And Google can’t abide unhappy users.

In Conclusion

If your website is not mobile-friendly, the time to change that is now. Even if it is, you can do better. And you have to do better, because the mobile-first ranking algorithm is coming for your customers.

The Increasing Trend of Voice Search - And How to Optimize For It

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The following guest post was written by Libby Teager. Libby is a social media addict, who turned it into her profession. She loves her role as an account manager and researcher at Speechless Web Design.

Search engine optimization is constantly changing and evolving. And while it is changing, it is becoming more challenging for SEO professionals to keep track of.

With the ever changing trends in SEO, it is important to always have your eyes peeled for potential movements in the industry. This way, you can keep on top of your SEO strategy and become more of a threat to your competitors.

The Increasing Trend of Voice Search

One current trend in the SEO industry that we face today is the movement towards mobile SEO. Whilst mobile has steadily been climbing the mountain for the number one device of choice for internet usage for a while, it has recently came close to taking over desktop as the number one source of search.

According to Hitwise, searches which take place on a mobile device now accord for sixty percent of the overall searches on the web. Such trend has resulted in the increasing trends towards locational searches and voice searches performed on mobile devices.

In fact, Google has recently stated that twenty percent of searches made on mobile devices were in fact voice searches. With the introduction of Siri and Google assistant, this has all become possible.

It is pretty clear that SEO is changing and will continue to do some in years to come, so it is in our own interests to scrap traditional approaches of SEO, and consider such movements by optimizing for current trends like voice search.

Here we will discuss just how to do that....

Takeover of Mobile Devices

Mobile devices have come a long way in such a short amount of time. A month can’t go by without us hearing about another mobile update, or a new model of phone coming out. But as new mobile devices are hitting the market place, they won’t want to disappoint. Hence why we can now do things like speak to our mobile phones.

Whilst it sounds bizarre, speaking to our mobile devices has ultimately taken over the nature of the way we search and browse the web.

With the built in mobile features of Siri, and Google assistant, people would be silly not to ask their mobile phone to search for something on the web. At the end of the day it saves a lot of time, when compared to typing out a search query on such a small screen.

This changes everything with regards to SEO. And as a result, SEO professionals need to rethink their SEO strategies according to what and how their potential customers are searching.

How to Optimize For Voice Search

Since twenty percent of searches are made through voice search, it means that the nature of search has changed. Currently, most websites are optimized for traditional SEO, that being short tail keywords which are searched for by using a keyboard on a desktop. However, voice search means that websites will need to be optimized to fit the modern form of search.

Voice search allows for not only a more natural voice, but a more conversational voice too. This is because you have the chance to search using the words you would use in a normal conversation with another party. In this case, searches get longer, and so do the keywords which are worth optimizing for.

Not only does siri want to provide an accurate web search result for it’s users, but it will also want to provide the user with a result which is straight to the point, rather than not. Most voice searches will require a simple answer, whether that be the answer to a simple question, or a location based answer.

When creating content for your website, it is important to consider optimizing it for longtail keywords, rather than short tail. Longtail keywords might not have the highest search volume or traffic, but they are certainly the keywords which are the most targeted to a specific search. As well as that, they come with less competition because most websites are too focused on optimizing for short tail keywords. There are various tools which help with finding long tail keywords. One in particular is Ahrefs, a great tool for keyword research.

What Are Customers Searching For?

With an estimated twenty two percent of people searching for informative and local content, online and local businesses need to optimize with this in mind.

A great way of finding exactly what your customers are searching for is by taking down a list of questions and statements which your customers commonly ask you as an industry expert. This could be face-to-face, or via the phone. Once you have taken note of the sort of things your customers want to know and learn, you can start to produce content which they would find of value and use to them.

Similarly, it is great to focus on FAQ’s. By producing content which answers the questions of those who are seeking solutions to specific questions in the industry, you are putting yourself in front of the eyes of your ideal audience by providing them with content that they WANT to see.

SEO professionals need to take into account the constant developments of SEO. From the movement towards a mobile only world, to producing content which is geared towards the way users are searching, and what they are searching - it is important to properly optimize your website in a way that puts you ahead of your competitors.

Backlinks 101: Low-hanging Fruit

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A part of any effective search engine optimization effort is backlink generation. Links from other high-quality websites in to yours is still one of the best ways to improve your search rankings, by signaling to Google and the other search engines that your page, and your site, have a degree of authority on a given keyword or subject.

But with all the information out there about bad links, how is any marketing team supposed to know what they should and should not do to go about getting more backlinks?

Luckily, there are some areas where it makes sense to start. These ‘low-hanging fruit’ opportunities are low effort, and potentially high value.

  1. Brand mentions – scour the web for any mention of your brand name, product, etc. Everywhere you find it, check for a link. If none is provided, reach out to the author or site owner to recommend that they add one.
     
  2. Owned content – many companies have properties on the web that exist outside of our own sites, ie. business listings, article sites, microsites, etc. Any and all of these first-party sites should link back to your company’s main consumer-facing website.
     
  3. Guest posting – it is easy to develop a list of blogs and news sites related to your industry. Check to see if they accept guest posts and put together quality content for them that links back to the key pages of your website.

When working to develop backlinks for your website, remember that quality counts more than quantity. The best links come from the best sites. So start with websites that already do well in Google rankings and work backward

Top SEO Blog Posts

Search engine optimization (SEO) is critical for companies looking to get traffic from Google and other search engines [read: all companies]. For that reason, we have covered the subject many times on this blog.

We went back over all of our SEO blog posts for the past few years and grabbed the seven highest read titles. Here they are:

  1. How Are You Measuring SEO?
  2. Content for Link Building
  3. Simple SEO Checklist
  4. The Power of Page 1
  5. 10 Reasons You Need an SEO Strategy
  6. 3 SEO Strategies to Grow Organic Traffic
  7. Page Speed is King
  8. Little Things 19 – Create a Sitemap
  9. How to Increase Your SEO Traffic with Long Tail Keywords
  10. Free Marketing Ideas 10 – Alt Tags and Meta Data

SEO: Mobile vs. Desktop

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As if the basic operating principles behind your team’s SEO strategy weren’t confusing enough before, people now perform a fair amount of search engine queries on their phones and tablets.

Google owns just over 60% of all searches, but nearly 95% of all mobile searches. And global mobile searches now make up close to 60% of all searches. Yes, more people are searching on their phones than one their desktops.

What does this mean for SEO? A lot, actually.

Google’s search results on mobile do not match Google’s search results on desktop. And there is a reason for that. The elusive ranking formula has been refined for mobile to take into account mobile usability and site speed.

If you care about rising to the top of the search results on mobile, and you should (given the stats noted above), you have to put in the work necessary to not only be a reliable, quality site in Google’s eyes, but you now have to work just as hard at making your site as mobile-friendly as possible.

And because the search experience is different on a phone vs. desktop, the argument can be made that showing up at the very top of the search results on mobile is more important. So the time to focus on mobile SEO is now.