Showing up on Google’s Top Stories is a huge advantage for gaining exposure. When you show up in Top Stories, your articles gain more visibility than the standard search results. Formerly, you had to have Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) to even have the chance to show up on Top Stories. Since many saw the value in Top Stories and AMPs were a requirement, a lot of people embraced AMPs. However, there is a big change coming.
Google recently announced that they will start using Core Web Vitals as a factor in search rankings and Top Stories. The announcement also detailed that Google will lift the AMP requirement around the start of 2021. This announcement makes the future of AMP unclear. Will it be easier for developers to optimize the mobile experience without AMP or to continue using AMP versions of their pages?
AMP is Google’s open-source, HTML framework that developers can use to create faster-loading mobile web pages. You can use AMP to build websites, stories, ads, and emails in a straightforward way. The content you create with AMP “prioritizes the user experience above all else”. The top benefits of AMP include:
- Faster web page speed, which equates to better user experience.
- Apply AMP across numerous web touchpoints.
- SEO benefits (for now).
- Performance increase.
Downfalls of AMP
While AMP has some key benefits, it also has its fair share of downfalls. If AMP is not a requirement for Top Stories, will people just stop using it? Potentially. Here are some of AMP’s major cons, and the reasons people may abandon it.
- There are alternatives. Previously AMP was a requirement for Top Stories, however, it soon won’t be. Once AMP ceases to be a requirement, people may opt for alternatives. There are other solutions for optimizing user experience and site performance, and some businesses may have just been using AMPs to remain eligible for Top Stories.
- AMP doubles your site maintenance work. With AMPs, you must essentially maintain a second version of your site. This process is not only time consuming, but it is also expensive.
- It will no longer provide a competitive advantage. Formerly, you could not appear on Top Stories without AMP. When that changes, will it make sense to continue using it?
Testing the Waters
After the official update, people can “opt to prioritize page experience factors to get their content into the Top Stories section, instead of maintaining AMP versions of their pages.” Google’s new algorithm intends to rank web pages and Top Stories based on user experience from the signals of Core Web Vitals.
However, not all of Googe’s algorithm updates have had much of an impact before. While it would be a good thing to update rankings and Top Stories based on positive user experience, the actual impact is unclear. Before making any major changes to get rid of AMP, people should wait and see how the updates play out and how the competition fairs.
The big decision for publishers currently running on AMP will be the time they must majorly change their site. When it comes time for a redesign or CMS adjustment, then they should look closely at the costs of updating to AMP vs opting for another method to optimize the user experience.
After the update, publishers and site owners need to compare the Top Stories. Are the majority of Top Stories from AMP sites or non-AMP sites? Without strong evidence that non-AMP sites are ranking in Top Stories, it doesn’t make sense to drop AMP. Additionally, “the requirements for non-AMP pages to appear in the Top Stories section may turn out to be more stringent than maintaining AMP.” In that case, it would actually be easier to maintain AMP than to meet the incredibly strict requirements for non-AMP sites.
AMP: Should it Stay or Should it Go?
As of right now, the future of AMP is not too clear. There are some challenges associated with AMP that sit producers may be eager to get rid of once Google officially renounces it as a requirement for Top Stories. When it is no longer a requirement, site owners will be able to experiment with other methods for optimizing user-experience without creating a second version of their site. However, there may still be advantages to keeping AMP, especially if you are already using it.
Companies should not make the choice right now on whether or not to continue using AMP in the long-term. The first thing to do is to see the impact of Google’s Core Web Vitals update and how AMP fairs when it is not a requirement. It is important to monitor your competition closely, and assess if AMP is still fairing better than other options. Currently, it is not clear if AMP will have a future once it disappears as a requirement for Top Stories.
For a long time, search engine optimization has remained a mystery for companies. While experts understand current best practices and the important factors that contribute to SEO, much of the process has been left up to trial and error.
Recently, Google made an announcement that will change the course of SEO. Google announced that website experience will become a ranking factor in Google Search and Top Stories on mobile. They also released the Web Vitals initiative that gives website owners cohesive metrics for creating websites with user experience and performance as priorities. Google will not change any rankings in 2020 and will provide a six months’ notice before doing so.
Google’s Web Vitals
Google’s Web Vitals is meant to help website developers and owners “optimize for quality of user experience” by “quantifying the experience of your site and identify opportunities to improve”. Web Vitals offers quality signals that can help people improve the website experience of their website, and eventually improve their search ranking as well. Site owners do not need to be experts to understand their website’s user experience when they use Web Vitals.
Web Vitals offers Core Web Vitals, which “ represents a distinct facet of the user experience, is measurable in the field, and reflects the real-world experience of a critical user-centric outcome.” Google will adapt the metrics in Core Web Vitals over time to reflect the user experience. Right now, the vitals for 2020 are:
- Loading. Largest Contentful Pain should happen within 2.5 seconds of when the page first starts loading.
- Interactivity. The pages should have a First Input Delay of fewer than 100 milliseconds.
- Visual stability. The cumulative layout shift should be less than 0.1.
The Core web Vitals will be accessible to all people as one of Google’s tools as a Chrome extension.
How User Experience will Impact Search Ranking
Google compares web pages to journeys and realizes the importance of a visitor’s journey. Flaws in a website’s user experience make the journey difficult, cumbersome, and frustrating. Google wants to eliminate common interruptions and create a better user experience and overall satisfaction.
To promote a better experience for more users, Google will eventually consider Core Web Vitals and its existing search signals when determining search rank. Their overall goal is to provide a better web experience and garner higher engagement. Page experience will not be the only factor that determines rank, but Google will prioritize pages with “the best information overall, even if some aspects of page experience are subpar. A good page experience doesn’t override having great, relevant content. However, in cases where there are multiple pages that have similar content, page experience becomes much more important for visibility in Search.”
While the timeline for a change has not yet been set, Core Web Vitals will directly impact search ranking in the near future. To help owners improve their sites, Google updated its developer tools to reflect Core Web Vitals’ information.
The Importance of Web Hosting for Core Web Vitals
Moving forward, web hosting will be vital for websites looking to achieve optimal core web vitals. To ensure that you provide the best experience and meet all of the key metrics, you need the correct website hosting service. Qualities to look for in a website host include:
- Fast page loading, with the speed of a system’s response comparable to the delays humans experience.
- Stability to load multiple elements progressively. For example, elements that are already visible should not shift as others load.
- Responsiveness. Free of frictions during interactions with your website.
- Reliability, sites that stay up gain more visitors and earn a better user experience.
- Space and capabilities to accommodate your content needs as you grow.
- Bandwidth. You should have enough bandwidth to accommodate your visitors and be able to easily purchase additional bandwidth when you need it.
- Support. In the event that something doesn’t go quite right, you want adequate support to help you quickly resolve it.
- Security. You want your website information to be secure on your servers. This is critical or your visitors and you.
Prepare for Google’s Core Web Vitals
Core Web Vitals will not immediately impact your search ranking in Google, but that doesn’t mean that you should wait to take action. To prepare, you should start viewing your own Core Web Vitals and understanding the areas you need to improve in. According to the Search Engine Journal, the six ways you can measure your core web vitals include:
- Search Console
- Web Vitals Extension
- PageSpeed Insights
- Chrome DevTools
- Chrome UX Report
Stay ahead of the curve and prepare for the switch by beginning to measure and analyze your Core Web Vitals now. This way, you can anticipate and plan for any major changes you may need to make, including your web host.
The Future of Search Ranking is Near
Recently, Google announced that it was going to be implementing a new change on search ranking. Called Core Web Vitals, these new criteria push website developers to ensure that their websites create a friendly experience for users. Although Google doesn’t intend to implement the changes until 2021 at the earliest, it’s important that web developers take note of the changes that they’re going to need to make soon. Here are some aspects that you should know about Core Web Vitals.
What Makes a Great Page Experience?
More than anything, Google wants its users to have a great page experience. This means, for web developers, that they need to cut down on loading times. A user’s experience can become poor quickly if they have to wait around for a page to load. Fine-tuning the load speed on certain pages–and the website as a whole can improve the site’s ranking on Google.
Another aspect that gives a website a great page experience is its mobile friendliness. Google has taken a lot of interest in the mobile experience users have when browsing the internet on their phones. It promotes businesses that create mobile-friendly sites. This is a trend that will continue with the Core Web Vitals update.
One important part of a great page experience is safety. With hacking becoming more frequent, users want to know that the information they put into a website is safe. Businesses and websites need to have protection. This includes implementing HTTPS, which is far safer than the mere HTTP.
Finally, Core Web Vitals also measures how interactive a web page is and how well that interactivity functions. For example, a website that causes a page shift to occur and messes up what the user was attempting to do will rank poorly on Google. An example of this might be if a user was attempting to cancel an order, but the page shifts and they suddenly click on a submit order button instead.
This is poor user experience. The website would receive a poor ranking in return.
Web developers have some time to fine-tune their designs and ensure that each aspect of their website pushes for better user experience.
Preparing for Core Web Vitals Update
Google told us it can be 6+ months before this update rolls out. For all of our current clients at SEO Locale we’re fixing all of the issues that Core Web Vitals update may look for. We’re being pro-active in the SEO industry because we’ve seen in the past how a ranking factor that may only have 5% weight to it can make an impact on traffic and rankings.
Start Your Coding Engines
Although developers have until 2021 to start showcasing their new websites, it’s important to get a head start. Contact SEO Locale for help. We offer a free digital marketing analysis for anyone interested.
While COVID-19 has hardly been the first pandemic to ever shake the world, it is the first in recent history. What has made COVID-19 so exceptional is its fast infection rate and deadly symptoms. This has resulted in the systematic closing of businesses across the world. Those who were strictly brick and mortar businesses are feeling the strain the most. Yet, like their competitors who choose to venture into online markets as well, it isn’t too late for them to start earning profit. The secret rests in properly understanding and implementing SEO.
What is Search Engine Optimization?
For those who are new to the game, SEO, or search engine optimization, is the careful use of keywords and other content to score well on Google’s search engine algorithm. An example might be if someone were to search for “HVAC companies near me.” When inputted into Google’s search query, a list appears that best fits the results that the user is looking for.
That list wasn’t generated randomly. It was compiled from a careful set of algorithms that Google keeps secret. However, content creators and SEO specialists have uncovered most of the secrets in determining how to better your SEO score.
Why Does SEO Matter in a Pandemic?
As a business owner, your first thought may be to shore up expenses and wait through the pandemic. However, you could actually be injuring yourself further. Instead of saving money, it’s a better idea to invest in the right kind of resource. SEO is that resource. Business may have stopped in the physical realm, but it’s still alive and kicking in the virtual world.
By creating a website for your business and implementing SEO, you can not only drive new customers to your business during a pandemic, but you can also increase your traffic during a normal market. SEO can help save your business by bringing it the attention of more people. The pandemic hasn’t stopped people from wanting to shop and purchase services. It’s merely limited the ways in which they can make those purchases and order those services.
By using SEO, you can bring your business to their attention. You may experience more growth than you’ve seen in years.
How to Get Started with SEO in a Pandemic
It’s never been easier to begin SEO practices while the pandemic is brewing. People are looking for more information about the virus. If you want to get started with creating content that will drive your business forward, then use the pandemic as a source to bring attention to your business.
Contact the Professionals
SEO can be the key to surviving any pandemic. Utilize SEO professionals to capitalize today. Our SEO experts in Philadelphia & Jenkintown are ready to help your business shift with the times to keep the customers coming.
You may be an experienced digital marketer or a novice, but there are several ways to improve your auditing skills for Search Engine Optimization. I’ve been in this space for 16 years now and had to deal with over 1,000 website problems. Personally, I enjoy the auditing aspect of SEO, it is always changing and new issues arise over time. Your SEO auditing process should differ from platform to platform and campaign to campaign. For example, a local SEO and national SEO auditing process will be very different. Generally speaking I will provide you some of the key components of an SEO audit process. Let’s get started with these quick tips on how to improve your SEO auditing skills.
Start with an Auditing Tool
First, start with an auditing tool like SEMRush. There are several auditing tools out there to get you started. It is a simple process of getting initiated without any expert assistance. This will be able to crawl your entire website quickly without you missing thousands of issues. We’re constantly fixing website issues month over month, so make sure you provide your fixes in priority order during your audit process. An example of an SEO audit below is from SEMRush for one of our clients. As you can see there are false positives. We tackle items by priority starting with errors and work our way into warnings and notices over time.
Manually Inspect & Browse Your Website
There are several items we manually inspect while an SEO auditing tool is running in the background. Look for the XML sitemap. Find pages, posts and demo content that may have been left in there from the development of the website. Run through the website and see if you can find an HTML sitemap as well, is this website easily crawl-able? Are you having a hard time finding pages? If you are you will want to increase the crawl-ability of the website. Right-click on Google Chrome “inspect”, click on the console tab, do you see any errors or warnings? Fix them. We run into this problem and usually have issues with websites not being fully secure because they are calling http:// rather than https:// on an element on the website.
You could click on the not secure notice next to the website address, on top of your browser, and it will explain why the website is not fully secure. Example below:
Search Google for Your Main Keyword or Brand
During the SEO auditing process, we want to spot any inconsistencies or issues when websites are being crawled. Manually searching for a keyword you may rank for, or search your brand, and check if you see the intended meta description. If you do not, go and check your robots.txt file or see if there is a NoIndex tag implemented on the website.
Run Site: in Google Search
Sometimes our manual process or tools will not pick up some pages so running site: urlofyourwebsite.com in Google search could result in some other findings that can be holding back your website’s SEO.
SEO Auditing Process
Now I only covered only about 1/10th of the entire SEO auditing process, but our workflows and SEO auditing process shifts based on the website and platform. Auditing a website on Shopify versus WordPress can differ due to the structure. If you are interested in a free website audit you can contact us today, no catch! If you own an agency and want to start a white label SEO package with us, you can!
Recently we’ve been getting slammed with new inbound leads at SEO Locale. The team is still working through the shutdown. Sadly we have not seen our team members for almost a month now. As a company we had our setup prepared for a catastrophic event like this. Our team members were up and running immediately after we shut the offices down.
Luckily in our industry the internet is still turned on. Online shopping is increasing and businesses are starting to thrive more with our digital marketing product. We’ve had clients that had to shift their marketing and SEO to be geared towards the virus. The SEO Locale team is moving fast on these shifts for all of our clients.
Marc and myself sat down and evaluated some campaigns since the shutdown period. The statistics below are prime examples of how SEO still works during these stressful and tough times for business owners.
Results measured starting March 15, 2020 – April 2, 2020 vs March 15, 2019 – April 2, 2019
✔️ eCommerce Client +467.51% Increase in Revenue
✔️ Another eCommerce Client +2,298.77% Increase in Revenue
✔️ Local Franchise Gym +181.24% Increase in Leads
✔️ Service Industry Business (B2B) +492% Increase in New Users
✔️ Local Law Firm +389.62% Increase in New Users
✔️ B2C Client +129.57% Increase in New Users
🏆 Beat your competition with SEO. Our clients are seeing massive results during these tough times.
Here are a few marketing tips we compiled for a pandemic like this and how you can stay ahead of your competition:
- Is your product or service in high demand for your customers. If so look at your approach to see if you can make adjustments to increase your SEO visibility.
- Create a notification pop to alert your customers you are still operating.
- Start creating posts on social media that help your customers understand they can still use your services. Most people are bored at home and browsing the internet and social media.
- Increase your brand awareness. This is the perfect time to jump in front of your potential customers with your brand.
- Start a community involvement initiative. Provide help of those in need. Don’t use this as a sales tactic, but getting involved will help the community come together.
- Start increasing your conversion rate with new marketing tactics. Focus on your business during these times and beat your local competition.
What Type of Monthly Reporting Does Your SEO Company Offer? We Break Down Our Proprietary Reporting.
All of our clients at SEO Locale get monthly reports they can understand. We don’t send you hundreds of pages with numbers. We show you the growth or possible decrease in traffic, we don’t need to always tell you a good story. We’re pro-active in our approach and have the problem solved before your traffic takes a down fall. Learn more about our monthly reporting from Mark Rippons at SEO Locale.
- What is Monthly reporting? Monthly report is showing you data from month over month, quarter over quarter, and year over year if there is data to compare to.
- What is the client portal? The client portal is a new system that we developed from the ground up, put a lot of man hours in, to make it easier for you to understand where your keywords are ranking, and the highlights of your website traffic.
- Why does having this portal set you aside from other SEO companies? This portal is unlike anything else you will see from any other SEO company. Nick our COO took the time to build this system from the ground up. This is a one-off portal that no other SEO company has or is able to duplicate. It’s very simple to use and easy to understand.
- How do I know who will be working with my account? In the client portal at the top you see the team at SEO Locale that is dedicated to your account every day. Someone is in the account everyday checking where your ranking, checking goal completions and making sure that everything is on the up and up.
- I have an e-commerce website. Will this show data for that? Yes, we just need eCommerce data tracking set up in Google Analytics, we can show you how many transactions you had, the sources that the transactions are coming from. We can show if the sales are coming from direct traffic, Google Organic traffic, and Google PPC.
- What Platforms will this track? The portal will track all platforms, we can track Google, Yahoo, Bing, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram. We can traffic all platforms that are bringing traffic to your website.
- Can I see how my keywords are ranking and which ones are successful? We have talked about the client portal, we also have the client dashboard that will allow you to see where specific keywords are ranking on Google Desktop, Google Mobile, Bing, and Local Map Pack.
- What do you do with this information to improve my website? We use this information to see how where we can push the campaign, one you have so many keywords rankings on the first page of Google we add more keywords to the campaign to keep the campaign moving forward. We don’t want the campaign to stall or get stale, this can turn into revamping on-page recs and adding more content.
- Will I get to visually see my position changes? You can see this on your client dashboard, you will be able to see how many positions your keywords increase or decrease. You can see how your keywords have increased since you have been with us.
- I’m already a client, is this the same as the dashboard? No, the client portal is brand new for 2020. The client portal is easier to understand and easier on the eyes. The dashboard gives you more detailed technical aspects for audits on the website, specific keyword rankings, backlinks profile. The portal is to tell you that you have this many keywords on the 1st page of Google, this many on the 2nd page of Google, and this many on the 3rd page of Google. The portal will also show you the traffic your website saw for the previous month and this breaks down direct traffic, organic traffic.
- How do I access my client portal? Once we have added our portal email to the analytics for each account as a read/analyze only access. You simply go to SEOLocaleReports.com and login with the provided username and password.
Backlinks are still one of the most popular ways to get traffic back to your website. If the site that publishes your guest post article is high-quality, is relevant to your own content and is already ranking in Google, then you could expect some targeted referral traffic from the guest post within the first week of publication. And if that guest post begins to rank higher in search results, then it will get more traffic and will push more of those readers to your site over time.
But the best part of guest posting is that the links themselves will help your website improve in Google rankings and get more search traffic in the long run.
Unfortunately, a lot of marketers end up getting penalized by Google and hurt their website traffic levels because they don’t do guest posts the right way.
Why Does Google Sometimes Penalize Guest Posts?
Google hates it when people use spam practices and black hat SEO to trick them into sending free, organic search traffic. Many bloggers and marketers plagiarize content or write content that is stuffed with awkward keywords just to fool search engines. But those types of articles don’t offer any real value to the readers.
Some content marketers will also publish guest posts on low-quality private blog networks and on sites that are not related to their own website. For example, they’ll put a guest article about weight loss on a blog that has nothing to do with health and fitness – and then they’ll link to a landing page that sells electronic dog collars. That’s ridiculous, and it offers no value to the readers. It also won’t convert very well.
If Google keeps ranking spam content like this, then nobody will want to use Google anymore when searching for high-quality content. That’s why Google penalizes these sites.
So, to do guest posting the right way and to avoid Google penalties, you don’t want to use these outdated, spammy black hat SEO tactics.
How to Avoid Google Penalties on Guest Post Articles
- Post guest articles on high-quality websites and blogs
- Make sure content and links are relevant to your landing page content
- Use a variety of anchor texts with long-tail keywords
- Write original, high-quality guest articles that people will want to read
- Make sure your landing pages are also of high quality
- Use white hat SEO techniques as much as possible
Some SEO bloggers out there will tell you that guest posting is dead and isn’t worth doing anymore. But they are just wrong. Many marketers today use guest posts to drive tons of traffic to their landing pages and blogs. When done the right way, guest post articles provide value to their readers, and they help your site rank higher as the months roll by.
Thanks to the incredible dynamic advancement of the internet we are experiencing! Today, social media marketing has become one of the most seamless strategies for boosting an organization’s sales trend. It’s only requiring an active social media account with sizable number potential client’s followers.
In recent times, Instagram has become the most sort social media platform by major brands as it has attracted massive users. Hence, you can use Instagram for your SEO marketing through:
- Hashtag Optimization – In most instances, Instagram recommends online sellers to research trending hashtags before bulking their content with irrelevant hashtags. Thus, for your case, once you have created a list of trending hashtags, it’s commendable you choose the ones matching with your content. Then after that, you can use them to optimize your content freely. The relevance of your content trending hashtags is that they attract traffic, by creating brand awareness.
- Engage Your Audience – Instagram followers enjoy having real-time responses. Thus, active participation in comments, contests, and hashtag threads is not an option if you are desirous of boosting your sales on Instagram. It’s recommendable you showcase creativity and smartness by posting appealing photos of your product. Sooner than later, you will realize Instagram followers are gracious enough to return the favor by tagging you along with relevant opportunities.
- Always Add Stories About Your Product– Instagram has a stories feature that allows posting short videos and photos for 24 hours. Therefore, it’s always recommendable to use it in promoting your products and upcoming launches. An upside of using this feature is allowing your audiences to visit your web page by swiping up the stories. You can promptly respond to messages directly from the story, thus reducing response delays. Besides, from the stories, you can get real-time feedback from potential clients by creating polls.
- Regulate Posting Frequency – Posting too much content within short duration, for example, after every few minutes, looks spammy. If you want to show your creativity, we recommend you use reasonable intervals to make your product posts. Instagram followers get bored quickly, especially when they get the same content from the same person frequently. They love some space to navigate other works. To increase your product relevance, always schedule you’re posting frequency. Each time you post, make it phenomenal for your audience to always look forward to the next post.
- Use Local Optimization – Instagram users search products using locations since they love buying them within their localities. Hence, you can take advantage of this by using location tags. Correctly tag the location you are selling the products for audience to reach your business easily. Correct use of Instagram for SEO marketing is promising as it provides you with real customer conversion rates. However, if you cannot utilize this social media space effectively, it can be time-wasting and disappointing. Ensure you have relevant hacks before using this valuable tool for your business SEO marketing.
As a leader in national SEO and digital marketing we leverage the Google Search Console for data within our future strategy for our clients. The Google Search Console is a combination of Google SEO tools. Google Search Console has different data and configuration controls that help boost your website. There are also multiple visitor metrics. The Search Console gives you an insight into Google’s opinion of your website. You can check your site for any errors or broken pages. You can also receive messages from Google concerning your website. You’ll be notified if there is a potential security issues or malware outbreak. You can also use Google Search Console to add deep linking features to your app. Here is a look at some of the additional ways that Google Search Console can assist your digital marketing efforts.
Site Links help people browse your website. The Site Links are automatically generated by Google. They are considered shortcuts to direct pages.
The Search Traffic feature gives you access to important information such as the number of impressions, the keyword search phrases Google served your site and your average search engine rankings for a specific keyword. You can also view your hidden link structure.
You can view analytics that show how your website is performing based on the organic search traffic generated through Google. You’ll receive access to the most popular devices, pages, and queries. Google Search Console also allows you to segment traffic through using different filters. You can segment your organic traffic based on your business objectives. You can use the analytics feature to view new opportunities and trends.
View the Internal Links breakdown to look at the pages with the most links from inside of your website. If the impressions are consistent, but you are noticing a lack of clicks, that is a sign that something is wrong. Test out some new description tags.
The Content Keyword feature lets you view the most popular keywords founds on your website. This helps you ensure that the vision of your website content according to Google aligns with your small business objectives.
The Crawl Stats feature allows you to view the number of pages during the allowable reporting period of around 3 months. Analyze the Crawl Stats to identify website performance issues.
When you go to the Search Traffic section, you’ll be able to view the top linked pages. Check to see if the listed content is trending. If the content is currently in demand, use it to connect with bloggers and other influencers.