What is Zero-Click?

A new phenomenon is taking a hold of the search engine results pages. It’s called zero-click searches and it’s forcing business owners and website developers alike to rethink how the content on their website functions.

What is Zero-Click?

Zero-Click means that the person who is conducting the search never clicks on a website or ad.

Example: I’ve recently considered hiring a company to mow my lawn on a bi-weekly basis. So I’ve done a bit of research on landscape companies who offer this. I’ve most recently done a search for “lawn maintenance in McKinney, Texas”. As with most location-based searches, the first thing that pops up in the map pack. This offers enough information to make a quick decision on who to call  based on the proximity to my search AND the star rating.

Search Engine Results Page

There is enough information here to allow me to contact 3 companies and get quotes from them for their services.

What does this mean?

It means that all of the SEO work that has been done on these companies websites is being circumvented. A focus has been placed on managing their presence via Google My Business, which is where this information is being pulled. With all of the information necessary for me to make a quick decision presented to me within the search engine, I don’t need to click on anything further. It’s all right there in front of me.

A Few Different Options

There are also a few different styles of Zero-Click searches that you can run into. One of the most popular is answering a question. In my decision to search for a lawn maintenance company, I searched for “How often should I mow my lawn?”. Again, I was given the answer without ever having to click on a website.

By creating more opportunities for Google to provide information to searchers without ever taking the user to a website, they are effectively redirecting traffic from websites and keeping it in-house. At some point in time, I fully believe in a future where we may not have to leave the Google, Bing, etc. environment to navigate the web.

What does that mean for SEO?

Without beating around the bush, it means you have to have your ducks in a row. All of them. Since a zero-click search won’t show up in website analytics reports, you have to rely on Google Search Console stats to see how successful your site is in providing answers.

Every business who derives leads, phone calls, contact form submissions to sustain their bottom line needs to make sure all opportunities for Zero-Click searches can lead back to them. This means you have to be vigilant about managing your local listings. Filling out the information from top to bottom without spamming and getting removed from the indices (the exact opposite of what we’re trying to do).

It also means that the content on your website has to be top notch. It has to answer questions that your potential clients ask. In doing so, you increase the likelihood of a searcher clicking on the link to your website to read more information and find out what you do.

Us here at Baggies Web Solutions focus on making your website as good as it can be, so we can bridge the gap between zero-click and getting the phone call.

What is Time On Page?

Time on Site

Time on Site

Time on Page is a funny metric. Who cares how long someone spends on your website, right? As long as the people find what they are looking for, make a purchase, fill out a contact form, or call, why does it matter? While there is no concrete proof that the amount of time people spend on your site will cause your rankings to improve, there is reason to believe that it does make a difference. According to a Google spokesperson:

“As we’ve commented on before, we use interactions in a variety of ways, such as for personalization, evaluation purposes and training data. We have nothing new or further to share here other than what we’ve long said: having great, engaging content is the right path for success. We’d encourage site owners to focus on that big picture,” a spokesperson said.

That can be interpreted in many ways, but the most direct line of thinking is to make content that keeps a person on the site longer than someone who is in your industry competing for your traffic. Google is not know for giving straight answers and, at times, can be very vague.

What does that mean for my site?

We recommend a number of things to keep people on your site.

  1. Videos
  2. Blogs
  3. Long-Form Content (over 1000 words)

The benefits of these suggestions are two-fold. First, it is giving more meat to the search engines to place your site where it needs to be in the results. Secondly, it is giving your visitors a reason to stay longer and browse the site.  This, in turn, helps fulfill the requirement stated by Google when they say: “having great, engaging content is the right path for success.”

What is Mobile First Indexing?

Mobile-first indexing

Mobile-first indexing

A couple of weeks ago, I started receiving notifications from Google that: “Mobile-first indexing” was enabled for many of our websites. According to Google, the background of this is: “Mobile-first indexing means that Googlebot will now use the mobile version of your site for indexing and ranking, to better help our (primarily mobile) users find what they’re looking for. Google’s crawling, indexing, and ranking systems have historically used the desktop version of your site’s content, which can cause issues for mobile searchers when the desktop version differs from the mobile version. Our analysis indicates that the mobile and desktop versions of your site are comparable.”

In short, if your desktop version and smartphone version of your website are comparable, then you should not see any effect on your traffic. However, if you are producing 2 separate websites, one for each device, then your traffic could take a hit. The Speed and Mobile-Friendliness of your site is not what attributes to mobile-first indexing. This is simply a content issue.

Google’s Latest “Speed Update” Wasn’t A Game-Changer

Page Speed

Page Speed

Ever so often, Google releases a major algorithm update that’s designed to shake up the SEO community and have website managers fret over the loading speed of their sites. As with every update, it has the potential to shake up a lot of businesses, as we are never exactly sure how they will affect traffic and what the details are. Google is notoriously secretive about their algorithm.

The most recent update that was designed (we thought) to give preference to faster loading sites over slower sites, has hardly affected the search results. According to Link Assistant, the top 30 positions for over 33,500 queries across 1 million URLs did not change from before the update went into place.

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why did we spend so much time getting the speed of your website as fast as possible and dedicate many hours to lowering your load time? According to the findings from Link Assistant, the optimization of speed DOES have a high correlation to the position in the search engine results pages.

So, this update was more than likely designed to weed out some of the worst offenders in load time. If you were at the top of the search engine rankings, you are still there and can continue to monitor your page speed.

5 Tips to Rank Better

We are asked all the time what are some things I can do to rank better with Google. While the answer is not as simple as we all would like there are some things that we recommend to all of our clients. We call it, Essential SEO. These are the essential things every website should be doing to rank better. If you are not doing these things, then your rankings are suffering. Call us today and we can guide you through this process and get your website ranking as high as it can.

Page Speed

Your website needs to load fast to keep your potential customers on it and one of the leading causes of abandoning a website is slow load time. Google uses several factors to determine how to rank search engine results. These factors are either related to the content of a webpage itself (text, URL, titles and headers, etc.) or were measurements of the website itself (age of the domain name, number and quality of links, etc.). However, now the speed at which someone could view your content from a search result is a signfigant factor.

Slow loading pages suffer from low user engagement (increased bounce rates, low average time on page) and Google factors this user behaviour data to influence search rankings. So users that find your page that are bouncing off a slow loading site could potentially decrease its rankings.

Using a tool like Pingdom, can help you determine what parts of your site need optimizing.

Titles and Descriptions

Title tags and meta descriptions are important elements of your website’s content. The title tag and the meta description tags should include keywords relevant to the content of the web page they describe. This helps Search Engines understand what the page is about and index your web pages accordingly for relevant keywords or keyword phrases.

When creating title tags and meta descriptions, the user is always the most important factor – not the search engine. Including keywords in your titles and descriptions is important, but you can take your titles and descriptions to the next level by considering these tags in the context of motivating a user to click, similar to an ad.

Business Verification

An important first step for any website is to claim and verify your local business’ Google My Business (GMB) listing. Getting on Google My Business can increase your chances of showing up in Google’s Local Pack, Local Finder, Google Maps, and organic rankings in general.

Additionally, over the past several months, Google has added some great features to Google My Business that companies should take advantage of that enhances your Google My Business listing and helps to grab viewers’ attention — and can increase how you rank in local search results.

Many local businesses just claim their GMB listing and forget about it. What most businesses don’t realize is that there are a variety of other features Google gives you that you can use to optimize your Google My Business listing and several reasons why you should frequently check your business listing to ensure that its accuracy stays intact.

Sitemaps

A site map is a model of a website’s content designed to help both users and search engines navigate the site. A site map can be a hierarchical list of pages (with links) organized by topic, an organization chart, or an XML document that provides instructions to search engine crawl bots.

Sitemaps are important for SEO because they make it easier for Google to find your site’s pages—this is important because Google ranks web PAGES not just websites. There is no downside of having a Sitemap and having one can improve your SEO.

SSL Certificate

Google is on a mission to reduce the chance of you visiting a site that pretends to be someone else. Malware, viruses and identity theft are a huge problem in today’s online society. By installing an SSL certificate on your website, you are letting, not only the search engines, but your website’s visitors know that you are who your website represents. Starting in July 2018, Google will begin to warn users who are visiting a website that is not secure and does not have an SSL Certificate

Google has encouraged all sites to secure visitor information with SSL Certificates. That means that whether the website collects personal information or not, Google will reward sites with SSL Certificates with a boost in search ranking.

A single-name SSL Certificate is the perfect solution for small business owners, bloggers, and for personal Websites. We encourage all of our users to purchase an SSL and we can provide those to you. Just login to your account and buy one today.

Google Reverses Update of Longer Meta Descriptions

Google Reverses Meta Descriptions Update

Google Reverses Meta Descriptions Update

Leave it up to Google to reverse one of the biggest visible changes to search engines in many years. Back in the beginning of the year, they announced that they would begin showing around 320 characters underneath the titles when you perform a search on their website. This was a big change, as the number of websites shown above the fold and on your screen would have shrunk by 2-5 (depending on your screen size). That meant that if your website had longer description tags, it would take up more space and valuable real estate on the already crowded search engine results pages.

Reducing Meta Descriptions

In a surprising decision, Google has reduced the number of characters shown in meta descriptions on the search engine results page from ~320 back to ~160. While this does not mean the end of the world, it does mean that your descriptions will cut off, sometimes mid-sentence.

Recently, Google has used the description tags as a suggestion, instead of a definite. For instance, if someone searches for a very specific thing and the page that relates to it does not have that term in the description, Google will randomly take the liberty of replacing it with content from the page that does.

Why are metas important?

Titles and Descriptions are the first impression that searchers get when perusing the list of websites to click on for their particular search. Well-written and descriptive meta tags entice users to click on your site, so spending the time to write and rewrite them is worth it. If you have the best website in the world, but poorly written, or missing metas, your website will miss out on traffic from search engines, as you have not given searchers a reason to click on your site. Metas are one of the most important factors driving traffic to your website.

SEO Takes Your Marketing Dollars Further

Search Engine Optimization Marketing

When your company is approaching the bottom line, marketing cannot be on the chopping block. By choosing SEO (Search Engine Optimization) as part of your online marketing strategy, you can save money and reap the benefits over a longer period of time than traditional Pay Per Click Campaigns (PPC). Paid advertising has its value but once the campaign is over your exposure is over. The paid billboard comes down, the magazine does not print your name any more, and stopping PPC means your presence falls from the top of the search results. SEO campaigns encourage slower and more sustainable grains than more traditional advertising approaches. Your investment can continue to show a great return even after the campaign has ended. Your company will be able to build trust with users, save money, and drive relevant traffic.

Organic Search Results are Preferred

Research shows that 81% of users find their destination through search engines and that organic results are clicked on 8.5 more times than paid results. SEO is not about being at the top of my list but being the best presentation on the list. Customers are becoming more savvy when it comes to search engine results. Organic results are more respected and trusted and as such, are starting to skip the top ads. Users know that just because you paid the most to be there, does not mean you earned the right to be. This will also bring you better quality leads.

Search Engine Optimization Marketing

SEO is Cost Effective

SEO has been proven over the years to be one of the most cost-effective forms of online marketing and delivers a higher return for every dollar invested. If you implement an effective SEO strategy, you can attract thousands of targeted users to your website. The ongoing effect that SEO provides is that it continues to build momentum over time leaving you to focus on other aspects of your company while SEO does the rest.

Web traffic from an excellent SEO strategy has high conversion potential. Customers are more likely to purchase goods or use services by finding your company through organic results than paid ads. This form of campaign is highly targeted too. SEO allows you to utilize keyword analysis so you can find out just how big the market is or how many people are searching for an exact keyword.

How to Dominate Search Engine Results

improve my search rankings

The internet has become a crowded, highly competitive marketplace. New technology, however, allows for more robust, direct marketing to your customers. The question then becomes, “How do you get your website and products in front of your customers?” The answer? Making sure your business website covers as much ground in the search engine results pages. Here are a few ways to make that happen.

improve my search rankings

Local SEO

In the past few years, local searches have taken over prime real estate in the results pages. Just take a look at my lunch search below! The first thing that pops up and takes up the entire page is the Map search showing you what’s around you! Local SEO means making sure your NAWP (Name, Address, Website, Phone number) are correct across all facets of the web. By monitoring your business’ web presence, you will show up in Map searches when someone is looking for your product or service in your area. After Google changed how they display local search results, businesses do not have to compete for the top spot but the top three.

Search Engine Results Page

Blogging

Regularly writing a blog that answers common questions that people may have about your business increases your authority and the chances of popping up in search results when someone does a specific search for that blog’s subject. If you are a HVAC repair company, you want blog content that answers a common question like “Why is my AC unit leaking?”. If you have a blog dedicated to that specific subject, your likelihood of getting clicks goes up tremendously!

Pay Per Click

Pay Per Click is a great way to get people who are looking for your services and products to your website. If you set up and monitor your ads wisely you can see significant returns on your investment. The search engines’ goal is to return quality results, but not necessarily the highest bidder. If the top paying ad is not helpful, customers will never click on it. Search engines want the best ad for the search, not the highest paying.

Pay Per Click Search Results

Fresh Content

Content on your site must be fresh, keyword-centric, and well-written. Fresh content is one of the major foundations of Google’s relevancy algorithms. Do not post content that is full of errors, duplicated, or boring. A great way to stay on top is to keep Google happy.

These are just a few ways to get more of your business in the search engine results pages. For an in-depth consultation, contact us and we’d be happy to sit down with you to discuss your needs.

 

SEO and PPC Working Together

SEO and PPC Working Together

Boosting traffic on your website is essential for visibility and there are two options to choose from – SEO and PPC. Separately, you can find what is best for your needs and budget but combining the two may give you more bang for your buck. They are more complementary than opposite. Here is why SEO is important to PPC:

SEO stands for “search engine optimization” and is a marketing discipline that uses both creative and technical elements to improve rankings, drive traffic, and improve ratings. This means using specific words on your site, links to your site from others, and ensuring that your site is built so that search engines can recognize it. Search engines are the primary way internet users find what sites to visit. In today’s web traffic you want your site to stand out and on top so that users find you first. Search engines do most of the work but still need help with how to target traffic to your site. Here is where the right SEO can make or break your site and provide returns that traditional marketing cannot.

Pay-per-click, or PPC, allows businesses and individuals to purchase listings in the search results of search engines. This allows them to be seen above or before non-paid or “organic” search results and in return, you pay the search engine every time a user clicks on the listing. Ad spots are sold at auction and if you are the highest bidder you come out number one. PPC is great because it generates traffic fast with some systems producing targeted traffic within minutes. PPC differs from SEO in how quickly it can adapt to user behavior. Most PPC campaigns can be tailored to meet customer interests and trends within hours whereas more organic marketing can take weeks. The downside to using PPC is the price tag. Auctions can run up costs very quickly and, just like eBay, you can get caught in a bidding war.

SEO and PPC do not have to be used exclusively. In fact, sites can benefit from both strategies being used in tandem. A well-run and thought-out SEO program will help your PPC campaign spend less money and get better conversion rates. Here’s how:

Quality Score

Your website is assigned a quality score that is based off of the keyword that people are searching for. For instance, if you are bidding on the keyword “purple widgets” and you lead people to a page that has purple, red and blue widgets on it, then you likely have an OK quality score. If you lead them to a page that focuses solely on purple widgets, has plenty of SEO-friendly content about them, has an easy way to find what they are looking for and is highly relevant, then you will have an even higher quality score. What does that mean for your PPC? A higher quality score means less money paid to gain the click (and likely, the conversion).

Conversion Rate

So, you’ve gained the coveted click, and now there’s a potential customer on your landing page and they are looking for reasons to call your business. A website that has been SEO optimized will generate a higher conversion rate than a website that hasn’t. Why, you ask? When a landing page is properly designed, it puts all of the relevant information above the fold and in plain view along with contact information and a way for the viewer to find more information (should they require it).In conclusion, you can see plenty of gains when using either PPC or SEO, but the biggest returns and the best choice for your business are utilizing both at the same time. Not only will you be focusing on the short-term with PPC, by keeping your spend low and returns high, but you will also be focusing on the long-term with SEO, by ensuring your that you website is clear, concise and technically sound so your organic traffic will increase. Contact Baggies Web Solutions today to get started!

Can Online Reviews Help My Search Rankings?

Online Reviews

Online Reviews and Search Rankings?

This is one of the most popular questions we get when meeting with clients to discuss their online presence. In a short answer: No. In a longer answer: Absolutely. Here’s why.

Bing Search Engine Results for “dallas sushi”

For the purpose of this blog, I went to both Google and Bing and did a search for ‘dallas sushi’ and on both search engine results pages, the very first thing that popped up were online reviews. Yelp for Bing and Google Reviews for Google. That means when people are searching for your business, if you have a less than stellar rating on either service, you aren’t presenting your business in the proper light.

If you’re out searching for the best sushi joint close to your home and there’s a 3-star review and a 5-star review, which one would you likely choose? Of course, there are many factors that go into that ranking, but, upon first glance, the 5 star review will be chosen more often.

Bing Online Reviews
Bing Search Engine Results for “dallas sushi”

It is not just Google and Bing anymore.

The restaurant and retail industries have become more and more dependent on the online review aggregators over the past few years. The rise of Yelp, Urbanspoon, Foursquare and Google Reviews shows that potential customers are willing to spend the time needed to wade through reviews to find what customers have to say about a business before they step in the front doors.

If your business has any reviews online, you must take action and address problems and compliments to your business, just as you would if someone were telling you in person. If an unhappy customer is out there writing reviews of your business in a negative light, then the number of customers lost can noticeably affect your income.

Google Online Reviews
Google Search Engine Results for “dallas sushi”

So, back to the original question: Can online reviews help your search rankings? While you may not notice an uptick in your traffic from Google or Bing, you will notice an increase in traffic from the countless number of review sites out there. Where are they coming from? Just do a search for “sushi” in your preferred search engine and take a look. Underneath the reviews and the local maps, is the organic search results, Yelp and Google Reviews are the all over the place.

Have you noticed an increase in traffic from online review sites?