Google Ups Its Standard for “Quality Content”

Google recently updated its Quality Rater Guidelines.

Did you know they have people read websites, rate their quality, and factor how they perceive content into their algorithm?

We have mentioned it here and there on our blog over the years. And it is, and will remain, part of Google’s algorithm for the foreseeable future (at least until machines can fully understand and analyze like people anyway).

This search will take you directly to the official document raters use. Unfortunately, at the time of writing, the link didn’t work!

Anyway, Google has a document that tells raters how to analyze content. It’s just as exciting as reading tax code, or watching paint dry (whichever you prefer).

So, instead of reading a long, obnoxious document, learn the highlights of what’s changed here:

The Standard for “Low Quality Pages” Has Risen

A “low quality” page misses the mark on what it hopes to achieve. Raters are now instructed to give pages low ratings, even if they’re clearly intended to serve a beneficial purpose (which wasn’t the case in the past).

If a page meets one or more of the following criteria in the perception of a rater, then it should be rated “low:”

  • The writer clearly doesn’t have expertise, authority, or trustworthiness in the subject
  • The main content quality seems low
  • The main content isn’t long enough to achieve the page’s purpose
  • The main content has an exaggerated or shocking title (this was added to diminish the rankings of shocking click-bait style articles that contain no depth)
  • Ads and supplemental content distract from the main content
  • There is an unsatisfying amount of information regarding the creator of the page, or the general reputation of the website
  • The main content creator has a generally negative reputation, based on research

What This Means to You

Basically, if you set out to create written content, you must do the best job of it you know how. Or, you need to hire someone who takes it seriously as a profession.That means you need to budget time or money. And if you feel you can’t afford quality content, don’t try to skimp. You’re better off not doing anything at all.

Why?

 

Because Google’s only tightening the standards for the internet. It wants to get at the top of its search rankings exactly what the market (people) wants. People want informative, useful, accurate, and interesting content. They want their time to feel like its been spent wisely.

So aim to give them the best you possibly know how every time. Your business will benefit financially. And you’ll keep your rankings…or watch them rise.

Google Rolls Out Yet Another Core Algorithm Change

You may have heard about Google increasing the length of meta descriptions, which won’t have a huge impact on search rankings.

But they actually said this on their Twitter account about their latest update:

“…It’s that changes to our systems are benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded. There’s no “fix” for pages that may perform less well, other than to remain focused on building great content. Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages.”

So doesn’t that make you feel kinda helpless?

What if your rankings get completely trashed and you lose 25% of your site’s traffic or so?

Google’s saying you just gotta wait that out?

What if you can’t?

Search Engine Land reported the story.

Wait a Minute! Actually, You Can Do Something About That

So let’s focus on the fact that Google says they’ve rewarded certain pages less than they should have for some time.

Theoretically, for any one keyword or key phrase, you have one page on a website that’s better than all the others.

Truly, the best.

So even though Google tells you to wait, you can actually do a lot to improve your search rankings.

But let’s qualify that statement somewhat: this becomes much more difficult with your services pages that sell what you have.

Because, what’s so special about any single services page?

They all sell practically the same thing anyway.

Well, you can stand out a little by adding a FAQ section to your services page. You could also add video to give your prospects more of an idea of what it’s like to experience the results of your service. You might add a couple images to break up the text and make it faster and easier to read through your services page.

Your real opportunity to climb the search rankings lies in your content. A simple blog post runs a few hundred words – and that’s what you see most frequently at the small and local business level.

However, the leading online experts create posts thousands of words long. And they only make 1-2 of these per month.

They load the posts with useful videos and graphics. And they offer information you simply can’t find anywhere else.

For example, read any post at Conversion XL, a leading website conversion optimization blog (and bookmark it too).

If you mimicked that at the small or local business level and promoted your post like crazy, you’d win all sorts of traffic, links, social media shares, and customers.

…But You Must Have Realistic Expectations

So yes, you don’t have to sit there helplessly if Google begins to push you down the rankings negatively.

At the same time, understand this isn’t an overnight fix. It can easily take more than a year.

And blog posts rarely instantly attract more customers. People don’t read your posts, revel in how amazing they are, and then buy immediately.

Instead, they read, find your post useful, subscribe to your email list, or bookmark your website. They continue to pay attention to you for months, and possibly years.

Some just use your advice to fix their problem themselves. However, many remember your name, trust you because they love what you say, and then they buy from you when they have a problem you solve.

If Google pushes you down in search a little, it’s impossible to always know exactly why.

But you can absolutely increase your rankings at any time with the right approach.

How to Use Anchor Text to Make Google Happy in 2018

You know what anchor text is, right?

If you link to a website, like this, the words “like this” make up the anchor text.

Back in the primitive days of Google, you could load that anchor text up with the keywords you want to rank for, plaster it all over your website, and watch your rankings shoot up.

Now, you have a different ballgame.

Google would send you straight to the bottom of its search rankings if you did anything of the sort.

At the same time, anchor text still plays a role in your search rankings.

So how should you handle it today?

In 2018, Google Wants “Natural” Anchor Text

Throw out the idea of keywords and that they even exist just for a second…

Go back to the late 1990s before anyone had any clue how any web page got to the top of leading search engines like Yahoo, Excite, and Alta-Vista.

You would link to a website. And you would use whatever anchor text came to mind.

You wouldn’t carefully consider what keywords should go in that anchor text beforehand.

Clearly, that would lead to different words going in your anchor text.

Well…that’s really what Google wants to see today.

Why?

Because, it wants internet searchers to put the best websites at the top of its search rankings.

Google sees each link as a “vote” for your website. The difference between links and democratic voting is that a link from a powerhouse website like the New York Times counts for a heck of a lot more than a link from your personal one.

It doesn’t want to see links professionally placed throughout the web with precision anchor text so that companies who want their websites at the top of the search rankings show up there.

It wants everyday people (the market) collectively making that decision.

Because if Google loses its ability to do this, the market will turn to another search engine which does that better. And since Google’s a $750 billion company, they don’t want to lose any ground to competitors.

What’s a Desirable Keyword-Heavy Anchor Text Ratio?

Some pro SEOs still recommend you use keywords in your anchor text anyway. You can “get away with it.”

But…since Google doesn’t want this behavior, why risk the trouble? If they don’t penalize you now, they will soon.

So, you’ll hear some SEOs recommend 5% of your anchor text should include your targeted keywords.

Don’t buy it! It goes against the principles Google stands for. Eventually, you’ll have to contact all the web masters and get your anchor text changed…or you’ll have to lose rankings and go through a painfully slow Google Disavow process, which may not even return your original rankings 100% anyway.

And while do you that, you’ll lose goodness knows how much business!

Two Kinds of Anchor Text: Onsite and Offsite

When ranking your site, Google gives most of the weight to links coming to your site from other sites (“offsite” links). So, that’s where you need to be especially careful for creating links that use natural language only (and not your keywords).

With links appearing on one of your own pages and pointing to your own pages (perfectly okay – and even encourage, by the way), Google isn’t as fussy.

However, again, why put yourself in any jeopardy? Plus, users don’t click keyword-heavy anchor text. You’re not helping them in any way.

So, make their experience better by giving them links with natural language that point them to other useful areas of your website.

Throw out ratios. Focus on people and relationships.

Do that well, just like you do in any other area of your business, and you’ll have high search rankings for years to come.

Frightening New Negative SEO Attack Makes it Almost Impossible to Find the Attacker

 

Yes, negative SEO attacks, where someone who really wants to see you fail and takes active action to ruin your search rankings, happen.

They don’t get publicized a lot. Most competitors also realize it’s more worth their time and effort to increase their own SEO instead of ruining yours.

However, you still have situations where someone with a bad attitude decides to lash out. And in this case, its’ nearly impossible to detect them.

How This New Attack Was Discovered

Bill Hartzer of Hartzer Consulting discovered exactly this attack, which was later reported by Roger Montti at Search Engine Journal.

A client approached Bill concerned with a sudden drop in their search rankings. Bill found links to an odd site, but the client themselves didn’t actually link to that site.

So, Bill investigated that unusual site. And that led him to discovery of the source of the negative SEO attack.

Just How Does This Attack Work?

To destroy your search rankings, unscrupulous attackers copy the entire header of your web page. Then they find a spammy, crummy, horrible, awful website that Google doesn’t like – and they paste your header into that website’s code.

Included in that code is a “rel=canonical” tag. This tag tells Google that this page is the primary version of the website – and that it should ignore the web page it came from when figuring the search rankings.

Google then follows right along and considers the spammy version of your web page to be the primary version. And your rankings get trashed.

How Do You Stop This Attack?

Unfortunately, it’s absurdly difficult. In this case, the SEO consultant was able to identify the source site of the attack because of a tool called Majestic. However, attackers don’t always leave evidence of their actions behind. So sometimes the exact same thing happens – and you have absolutely no clue who did it or why.

Your only recourse in such a situation is to use Google’s Disavow tool. With this, you can tell Google to ignore specific links pointing back to your website. However, it takes time to do, and you don’t always fully recover your rankings.

The other defense is good content. This makes you easy, and desirable, to link to.

For now, that’s the best you can do. Ideally, Google takes action and changes how canonical tags work so this issue doesn’t happen anymore. But, they haven’t said anything about it yet.

So for the time being, make sure you have a SEO company you really trust. Monitor your search rankings closely for any changes, and react fast if they do!

The Perfect Recipe for a Lead-Generating About Us Page

Believe it or not, right up there in importance with your home page sits your “About Us” page.

No.

It’s not important for search.

No one searches for “About Us” pages.

But when prospects actually land on your website, they place much of the trust in what you say in your “About Us” page.

Most SMBs see this page as a nuisance because it requires them to answer a brief questionnaire…or do some writing.

But go ahead and look at your analytics (or ask your SEO for yours) and see how frequently prospects visit this page versus others.

You’ll find your “About Us” page ranks right up there with your top pages – and it may even be your second most-visited page (just behind the frequent winner – your home page).

What Do You Need to Do on Your About Us Page to Drive Leads and Sales?

You can use this simple formula to create an irresistible “About Us” page that wins more customers:

  1. Start with a Headline that Arouses Curiosity

Curiosity is the number one emotion to appeal to so you gain interest.

Begin with a question. Start with a surprise statement. Create an interesting lead-in to a longer story.

Anything you can do except say “About Our Company” works good to start.

  1. Tell a Story that Discusses Why You Started Your Business

Stories engage. They’re unique. They’re filled with emotion.

That’s far more captivating than a boring company history and mission statement you read on practically every website.

Why did you get into the business you’re in?

If you honestly started it for the money, say that. But of course, your passions and interests changed along the way. Explain why and how that change happened. Discuss what keeps you ready and motivated today.

  1. Write in Conversational Language

Use simple words everyone understands and relates to. Because people can simply click a button to leave your website, you want reading your story to be as easy and painless as possible.

No need to write a dissertation here.

Write just like the way you talk to your clients or customers in person. You wouldn’t swear.

But you talk to them plain and simple so they understand exactly what you say – just like anyone else.

Keep that tone on throughout your page.

Many people suddenly think you have to sound stodgy, formal, and intelligent.

You don’t.

You’ll seem more intelligent and competent when you actually connect with your audience using simple language they understand – even if they are CEOs and PHDs.

  1. Spotlight Your Entire Team

Yes…it’s a good idea to include a pic and bio of your company founders.

But don’t forget your entire team of employees too – even if you have 50 or more.

Prospects like to connect a team to a face.

They do business with people – not websites.

So just take this little extra step to begin forming human connection.

It goes a long way towards driving more leads.

  1. Always End with a Call to Action

A “call-to-action” simply instructs your readers on what to do next.

Many more actually take action when you specifically tell them what you want them to do.

Show your customers your top products and services. Offer a free consultation.

If they’ve read this far, they think you’re pretty awesome.

…And you have a high chance of winning their business.

So don’t ignore your “About Us” page.

Give it some thought.

…Because your competitors could care less about theirs – which means this is a great opportunity for you to sneak right past them.

How to Drive More Clicks, Subscribes, Phone Calls, and Emails from Your Website

You’ve got a wonderful website. You rank well. And you do get some business.

…Ahh. You can relax. Finally! Your job is done.

NOT!

Your website, just like any aspect of your business, is never finished. You should perpetually be testing, adding, and refining.

Google actually demands this – although not to the extent we’re talking about. Google wants your website to continue to grow and provide value. It wants websites with a years-long proven track record of giving visitors incredible value at the top of its rankings.

And as you improve that, you’ll certainly get more buying action because of the increased exposure.

However, once you get prospects on your website, you want as many of them to buy as possible. And that’s its own process too.

Use these simple techniques to get more clicks, subscribes, phone calls, and emails right away:

  1. Tell Emotional Stories Your Visitors Can Relate To

Experienced (and successful) marketers know emotional stories trump every other marketing technique in existence.

This Proctor & Gamble commercial for moms shows you an emotional story:

It’s been one of the most successful advertising campaigns ever because it strikes at the core of what it means to be a mom.

Show a mom this commercial. Ask what she thinks. She’ll love it.

So when you write on your website, describe emotions. Discuss the pain of the problems your customer experience…and the joy and benefits they get when you help them overcome.

…And don’t hold back. The more emotional, the better.

The human brain doesn’t remember boring facts and stats nearly as well as emotionally gut-wrenching stories.

Ironically, that’s a fact!

  1. Use Time-Limited Offers

Putting a time limit on a special offer always drives more buying action. That’s guaranteed.

The trick lies in how you structure the offer. You can never know for sure which offer will drive the most interest.

For example, let’s say you offer a service, like a HVAC system efficiency analysis.

You could try the following offers:

  • Only the next 5 customers who contact us get a free HVAC system efficiency analysis.
  • Get a free HVAC system efficiency analysis. Hurry! The offer ends in 24 hours at 3 PM sharp.
  • Just 3 hours to get your free HVAC system efficiency analysis. And we don’t know when we’ll have this offer again.

…Don’t say something vague like,”Good for a limited time only.” No one knows what that means. So, they think the offer may likely be available for weeks yet. As a result, they feel no need to act now. Then they forget and never act.

Using this persuasion technique gets those on-the-fence prospects off and turns them into paying customers.

You’ll have to test your offers to find out which one works best.

If you want more buying action, add those two techniques to your website.

They’ll work. Guaranteed.

The only question: to what extent?