Consumer Brand SEO Pulse: SMX Edition

Welcome to the weekly Consumer Brand pulse, where we keep you updated on what’s going on in the world of SEO. Our goal is to stay on top of any new strategies and changes to make sure we are constantly using the best on-site and off-site SEO methods. Sorry we missed last week! We were in Seattle at SMX Advanced, learning tons of new SEO trends and strategies. Here are some of the top things we learned:

1. It’s All About Quality, Not Quantity

One of the main, overarching themes of SMX Advanced was “quality over quantity” when it comes to your backlink profile. It’s much better to have one link from a high domain authority site, than to have 100 from, for lack of a better term, spammy sites. This has been an increasingly important factor since Google’s Penguin algorithm first launched in 2012.

2. Optimize for the Users, Not the Search Engines

Google is getting smarter! It’s getting better and better at understanding a searcher’s intent and can now find sources that answer questions they probably have rather than just searching for the exact terms they enter into the search bar. This means that the strategy for on-site optimization needs to change from optimizing for keywords, to optimizing for answers. How do you do this?

  • Ask yourself, “If someone is searching for this, then what questions would they probably have?” Optimize by answering those questions!
  • Find out what questions your audience is asking (Google’s suggested search is a great resource for this) and create content that answers those.
  • Write your titles and meta descriptions to provide answers, rather than just to get a KW in there.

This way of optimization will continue to be increasingly important. As you’ll see below, it is going to be the main factor in showing up in Google’s rich answers as well as ranking in general.

3. Pay Attention to Mobile Apps

Google has begun indexing apps in mobile search (paid and organic). What does this mean?

  • If a SERP mobile site result has a correlating page within that site’s app and you already have the app installed, you will get the option of opening it within the app, rather than the mobile web page.
  • Internal app pages have also started ranking. If you have that app installed and a page within the app ranks on the mobile SERP, you will go directly to that page within the app.
  • If you don’t have the app installed, but it relates to the mobile search, Google will provide a prompt to install the app directly in the SERP as well as, in some cases, within the suggested search.
  • Currently, this is available on Android systems but, for iOS, is only available while searching within the Google or Google Chrome apps (not Safari).
  • To get your app to show up in the SERPs, make sure you’re back-end is set up correctly and that your app is in the Google Play store.
  • Deeplinking is something exciting and important for those with apps. This allows you to link to a specific page within an app within an app. Think linking to a page in the Pinterest app, rather than Safari, from Facebook.

Sources: Ian Sefferman, TUNE Marketing Console; Justin Briggs, Briggsby

4. You Can Optimize for Rich Answers!

Rich answers, (tables, charts, forms, etc.) have been on the rise since January, 2015 and are changing the search game. If your site is cited in the rich answer, it is much more likely that users will click on your link. Especially since many of the answers (paragraphs and lists) are not completed in the SERP and prompt the user to click the link for the rest. Everyone wants them, but how do you get them?

  1. Title Tag – Use your title tag to include more information, rather than just keywords.
  2. Answer a Question – Content should be in the form of a simple, direct answer to a question (query) and should be clearly laid out on the page.
  3. List the Steps – Especially when answering a “how to,” make sure you’re utilizing lists. If you have a video, transcribe the script beneath the player and include the list.
  4. Satisfy User Intent – Look at what customers are asking and what topics they search for and create content that is optimized for those. (See #2 “Optimize for the Users, Not the Search Engines” above).
  5. Be User Friendly – User friendly sites rank better! Google is looking at “user happiness” as a ranking factor. They use things like bounce rate and CTR as indicators of this.
  6. Optimize for Entity Search – An entity is basically a person, place or thing. Google’s Knowledge Graph indexes entities and their relationships to the search query in order answer the user’s questions. This is Google’s first step toward using semantic search (understanding the user’s intent and context). Entity search is Google utilizing the Knowledge Graph to more accurately understand user intent while mapping additional verified sources.

Sources: Erick Enge, Stone Temple; Carolyn Shelby, Tribune Publishing

5. Ranking Factors to Focus on in 2015

Every year, the importance of different ranking factors seems to change. So what does it look like SEOs should focus on this year? (Keep in mind, correlation does not equal causation. But these factors are consistent within the top ranked pages).

  1. Links – As we said earlier, it’s about the quality of the backlinks you have, not the number of them. The URLs ranking in the top pages almost all have inbound links from sites with high domain authorities.
  2. Anchor Text – There was a high correlation with the top ranking URLs and the anchor text used for the inbound links containing key terms for those sites.
  3. Social Shares – Though social may not have a direct SEO effect, there is a high correlation of top ranking pages having a strong social presence.
  4. Page Speed – Though page loading speed has long been a ranking factor, it is becoming even more important for mobile.
  5. Content – Top ranking pages, for the most part, seem to have more, longer, and higher quality content.
  6. Accuracy – Google is “fact checking” and ranking factual information higher than what might be the more popular opinion. Algorithms could potentially look at the consistency of accuracy throughout a site.
  7. Site Quality – Google is serving high quality sites, not just quality pieces of content. This includes everything that factors into a user experience.

Sources: Cyrus Shepard, Moz; Marcus Tober, Search Metrics; Rand Fishkin, Moz;

This is just a small sample of the awesome information we learned at SMX. Stay tuned here for more updates. That concludes your weekly pulse. Thanks for connecting with us!

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One Comment

  • Thank, Jenna. Your ‘#2. Optimize for the Users, Not the Search Engines’ is subsequently followed by ‘#4. You Can Optimize for Rich Answers’. Perhaps kill-two-bird-with-one-stone with the implementation of Schema, RDFa, and JSON-LD? I know these techniques are the most effective new techniques, in order to supplement your suggestions, in achieving #2 & #3.

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