New Google “Fred” Update Rocks SEO World

Well, Google’s finally started stop picking on animals with its updates.

One of Google’s current spokesmen jokingly called the new update “Fred.” And he said he’ll continue to call all future updates the same name also.

What Does Google “Fred” Do?

No one’s positive yet. All everyone knows is that on February 7th, many websites saw a noticeable change in their traffic. As always, some rejoiced with great gains. Others threw their arms up in the air in anger after experiencing massive losses.

Current speculation from Search Engine Roundtable believes the update more carefully examines the quality of your links. It’s still early yet, and others think the update may look at the quality of your content also.

But, at this point, the strongest argument is for link quality. That’s because the Black Hat SEO forums are the most active with debate. Black Hat SEOs tend to use links to manipulate their way up the search rankings (versus creating and promoting quality content). And that of course exposes them to this risk.

Now that they’re getting burned by it, they’re not too happy.

What To Do about This Update

If you’ve already been hit by this update, your business will hurt for a while. Sorry, but that’s the honest-to-goodness truth.

If you noticed a big drop in traffic in your analytics on February 7th, or shortly after, you likely got nailed by it.

The first thing to do would be to talk with your SEO company. If you’ve had multiple SEO companies over the past several years, then you’ve got a real mess on your hands. You don’t know who’s responsible. So, talk to your current SEO company to see what they say and how you should proceed. You may have to decide whether to terminate your relationship with your current SEO company.

The good news is you can recover. There’s three things you can do:

  1. Work on making a Disavow request, which is where you ask Google to ignore certain links pointing to your site. It’s a fair amount of work that you should leave to your SEO company. Moz offers a spectacular guide for how this works if you want to learn about it.
  2. If you got a manual notification of a penalty you’ll have to do the Disavow work, plus possible other work to get back in Google’s good graces. Again, you’ll need an ethical SEO company to do this for you. Then, you submit a reconsideration request once you believe you’ve done all the work necessary to clean up your SEO.
  3. You need to keep creating interesting and unique content. This attracts quality white-hat links to you. And that keeps you safe in Google’s search results.

If this penalty hit you, sorry to hear that. But, just know that while it may hurt your business, it’s far from the end of the road for you.

4 Modern Link-Building Tactics That Don’t Anger Google

Google’s most recent algorithm update,”Fred,” nailed websites that used low-quality links to maintain their search rankings. Many of these websites used “link building” from SEO companies to get their search positions.

However, Google doesn’t like “built” links as they were doing them. At the same time, your SEO company can still “build” links. It’s just that it has to be done in a certain way so that Google doesn’t penalize you for your links.

What has to be done? Ask your SEO company how they build links. If they’re doing it in ways that Google likes, they should say they do one or more of these:

  1. Manual Email Outreach to Influential People in Your Niche

Google wants “natural” links. In an ideal, perfect world, a natural link is one that someone decided to post on their website because they thought your content was so useful it was worth linking to.

Well, you can’t get any closer to that than by emailing a website owner or editor of a content-heavy website and letting them know you have a piece of super-useful content their audience would love. Not every one will give you a link. But some will.

And those links are as close to “natural” as you can get.

  1. Social Media Promotion to Your Followers

Nothing gets easier than this. Every website owner does it. Unfortunately, that’s where promotion for most website owners ends.

But you should do it. Make sure only 20% of your posts (at most) go back to your content. Watch your analytics to see which posts get shared the most. Then, reshare them after 3-4 months or so.

  1. Guest Blogging

A few years ago, Google said it would penalize guest blogging. The SEO community, however, overreacted.

Unfortunately, guest blogging can be manipulated just like any other link building method. Spammy, low-quality blogs exist which have virtually no audience. And they sound like they’re written by third-graders.

Those aren’t really “blogs.” They’re designed exclusively for the purpose of getting links.

However, get posted at a blog with an audience of a few hundred to a few thousand people, and Google loves that link. It knows that website already. It knows it has an active and engaged audience.

It’s a legit community. Google loves links from places like those.

  1. Create a Joint Venture

Who serves the same audience you do? Who doesn’t directly compete with you to serve that audience?

Say you’re an HVAC company. Look for a plumbing company. Offer to work together on a blog post, which both of you will post on your websites and social media profiles.

You’ll each win links and social media followers. But you won’t hurt each other’s businesses.

Just make sure you target a company with a similar audience size as yours. If you go for the “big guys,” they won’t be interested because they don’t stand to benefit as much as you. However, they might go for an in-depth blog post from you because their audience would love your niche experience, and they can’t provide it themselves.

Links Will Remain the Currency of the Web

Social shares have gained some importance when determining your search rankings. But for right now, and the foreseeable future, links will have greater power than social shares.

Work with an SEO company who understands how to provide you with high-value links that don’t get on Google’s bad side.

Google Ramps Up Efforts to Filter Out Factually Inaccurate Content

Did you know Google has teams of human quality-raters whose sole job is to rate the quality of websites?

Google gives them their own document in its “General Search Quality Guidelines.” Simply put, the searchers have to conduct various searches and rate how well the pages returned satisfy their query. This information then gets applied to Google’s algorithm so it can automatically apply the judgment to its search results.

Google does this for “offensive” and “upsetting” content. But of most concern to you is that they do this for “factually inaccurate” content. Google recently updated the section of their search guidelines that describes how evaluators should rate “inaccurate” content.

What Should You Do About This?

Truthfully, you don’t even need to look at the document to understand what to do. If you look from a high level at what Google’s trying to do strategically, they’re trying to clean up the web.

Users should be able to go to a website, get the information they want, and get a factually accurate answer.

What if there are different opinions on the correct answer to a question? Now, there’s a legitimate concern.

But again, you have to go back to what Google wants to do: help users. So if there are differing opinions on a particular subject, it’s okay to offer those as possible answers.

Let This Example Clear “Inaccurate” Up for You

Google offers an example in its search evaluator guidelines document. The website in question states (and this is serious):

“Christopher Columbus was born in 1951 in Sydney, Australia…”

You can see an image of this website here.

It continues:

“Columbus knew he had to make this idea of sailing, using a western route, more popular. So, he produced and appeared on infomercials which aired four times daily.”

Clearly, that’s not accurate information. It’s not going to help the website’s users in any meaningful way.

If this were a humor website portrayed as such, it may not get subjected to the filter. However, as it is, it appears to want to be a legitimate website. So, its real motivation may be to deceive its intended target audience (young elementary school students).

Google doesn’t want that in its search results because users won’t find that helpful.

So when you publish blog posts or web pages, make sure your information has good factual backing. As long as you have solid intent to help your users, you’ll be okay.

How to Get High-Income Consumers with Adwords

Many people believe consumers with high incomes need to hear fancy language to buy. That’s not true.

They talk just about the same as anyone else. However, the difference is what they talk about.

With that in mind, we want to tell you about an income targeting feature available in Adwords. In fact, you can target incomes like this:

  • Top 10% (household income: $146,001 +)
  • 11-20% ($131,001       – $146,000)
  • 21-30% ($111,001 – $131,000)
  • 31-40% ($96,001 – $111,000)
  • 41-50% ($64,001 – $96,000)
  • Lower 50% ($0 -$64,000)

…But there is a little bit of a catch. You always have to be careful with Adwords. Remember, it’s Google’s number one source of profit – by far. No other revenue stream of theirs even comes close. It’s to their advantage to look good to their investors. When you make mistakes or don’t understand how Adwords works, Google makes money.

In this case, if you target people by city or zip code in addition to income, that targeting trumps the income. This time, that makes sense. But, we’re just giving you a word of caution so you don’t use Adwords blind and suddenly find yourself in trouble.

In Adwords, you simply go to “Settings > All Settings > Advanced Search > Location Groups > Demographics > Select Household Income Tier.”

Of course, if you know the income range of your customers, then you’d only want to target that range, right? Otherwise, you’ll get clicks with zero-to-little chance of making a sale, which means you’ve wasted your time and money targeting that demographic.

 

How This Comes Into Play in DFW

We have a wide range of incomes here in the Metroplex, and certainly our fair share of high-income earners. But, imagine you know the income of the customer you want to attract.

For example, you sell fancy audio-video home theater systems, and you know people who make $100,000 or more would have an interest in them. Well, now you can target suburbs of DFW where that makes sense. And then you can target the right household income range.

Then, to make it work, you sell the experience of having an amazing home theatre with comfortable seating. Avoid the temptation to use fancy, flowery language. That’s the stuff you see on TV. People who buy home theatres want the intense experience – one that’s way better than watching a regular TV.

And that’s how you use Adwords’ income targeting to your advantage.

Google Releases Its Own Recommendations for Hiring a SEO Consultant

Shot of two male colleagues working on a computer at the office

 

Seems a little late to the game, doesn’t it? SEO’s been around as a practice since 2000. It’s had a reasonably popular reputation since 2008 or so.

You can actually see the video on YouTube here:

Here’s some of the main highlights of the video if you prefer to read instead of watch:

  1. SEO is not “black magic.” It’s a legit practice. Some shady SEO companies certainly treat it like black magic. But Google says it’s definitely a legitimate thing.
  2. You can’t use quick tricks to rank number one in just a few short weeks. You could have done that 12-15 years ago. But SEO isn’t that easy anymore.
  3. Successful SEO helps your site put its best foot forward so it ranks appropriately. No surprises here. Searchers want the best websites at the top of Google’s rankings. This demand forces Google to continue to improve its algorithm so that happens.
  4. Good SEOs ensure you give your online customers a good experience. This certainly follows from the previous point. Spammy tactics, shortcuts, and fast results are not promised by good SEOs.
  5. It takes 4-12 months to rank. Good SEOs need time to implement improvements. And they need some more time for Google to pick up on those and rank your website accordingly.
  6. The best thing you can do is to get a SEO who correlates their recommendation to a documented statement from Google. Google has great resources for this. You’re better off Googling the specific recommendation. But, a couple resources include Google’s Webmaster Search Console and the Official Google Webmaster Central Blog.
  7. In most cases, doing what’s good for SEO is good for your customers (and vice-versa). Again, this relates to points made earlier. Users want websites where they can learn what they want fast and either order it, or save your site and come back to it later to learn more, until they are ready to order.
  8. Conduct a two-way interview with your SEO. There’s several aspects to this. First, try to make sure the SEO is genuinely interested in your business. Check their references. Ask for a search audit (which will cost you money). Finally, make your decision to hire (or not hire) the SEO.

So that’s how Google says to hire a SEO. It’s good, commonsense, practical advice that helps you make a great decision you won’t regret.

3 Techniques You Can Use to Win in Local Search

"Search area on LCD display, pixelated close up view."

Yes, you can do some things to win the fight for local search rankings. And what’s more, they’re fairly simple.

You may be a time-strapped local business owner. But, you can take some small steps to help out your SEO company.

Here are some simple things you might consider:

1. Compelling Titles and Meta Descriptions

For titles and meta descriptions, you simply use the SEO by Yoast plugin. It shows you exactly how your search result appears as you type it in. This is important because the length of both your title and meta description actually change. Go too long, and you see the dreaded (…) in the search results.

That’s a huge turnoff for searchers. So, Yoast SEO helps you stay on top of that so you don’t make mistakes.

Now, as to writing titles and descriptions, you simply answer the question,”So what?”

That’s what searchers think. “So what? Why should I click on your search result instead of any others?”

The better answer you offer to that question, the more clicks you get. Benefits, emotions, and experiences are most enticing for consumers. Business people want emotional benefits too, and you have to compliment those with benefits for their business also.

2. Make Your Business Worthy of 5-Star Reviews

Local business owners are finally getting it. Reviews are key to their success. 70% of consumers will leave a review when you ask. 84% trust online reviews as much as a personal recommendation.

For starters, make sure your company offers 5-star products and services. Study your competition’s reviews to see what people like and don’t like about their company. When you get negative feedback, take that to heart and change your company for the better (assuming it’s not an unreasonable customer). Publicly show you care by responding and fixing what’s wrong, and then ask your customer if they’d update your review.

Never, ever create fake reviews. Many businesses do this. They get away with it for a while. But it eventually catches up to them.

3. Monitor Your Analytics Carefully

If content is king, analytics is queen. You’ll want to watch how long people are staying on your website. Do they bounce? How many take the action you really want them to take?

Test small changes to your website to optimize these. Change what you offer in the headline. Write different calls to action. See what works best with your website.

That’s how the winners separate themselves from the pack.

If you use these 3 techniques, you’ll be well ahead of most local businesses.