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 Find Content Ideas Practically Guaranteed to Drive Traffic, Links, and Sales

 

If you’ve written your own blog for any length of time, you know how challenging it becomes to find more content ideas.

It’s even harder to be unique in your niche – one of the greatest ways to differentiate and gain attention.

Yet somehow, some companies seem to consistently find winning content ideas all the time. And they get the blog comments, social shares, search engine rankings, and customers you want.

So how do you find can’t-miss content ideas?

Here’s some strategies for doing just that:

  1. Spy on Your Competitors

The nice thing about the web is that all the information you need to succeed is publicly available. In some cases, someone else has already compiled and published it.

However, you can quickly and easily gather the data you need to succeed. Tools like Buzzsumo (a limited number of free searches) and Ahrefs (paid only) let you search by a keyword.

Then, they show you the most popular content for that keyword – along with some data. For example, you’ll get the social shares.

And since you know certain topics work well at their site, your audience will like them too.

You can also look at your own analytics data and see what’s worked well in the past. Then, you simply create similar content – but go down a slightly different road you haven’t explored before.

  1. Just Google Your content Topic

If you want to rank for a specific keyword, it really is just as simple as Googling the keyword and then creating your own content on that topic.

The fact that a content piece has become ranked highly in Google doesn’t necessarily mean it’s the most appealing angle on that topic. It does mean, however, that the particular topic got in front of enough eyes to generate enough traffic, social shares, and links such that it currently retains a high position in Google.

So truthfully, a large part of your content’s success depends not just on the angle you take on your content…but also on your ability to promote it. 

  1. Ask Your Audience

If you have any kind of active Facebook page, email list, blog – or any way of interacting with your customers (including in person), simply ask your audience what they want to know more about.

You can give them options. You can also just leave the question wide open and see what comes back.

You’ll hear the same things over and over. And those are some of your top content topics.

As you find your ideas, write them down. You should have no problem identifying more topics than you could ever write on.

What’s Different about Your Content

Does just any old content work?

Kind of.

But you get limited results from that content.

Because, as you know, now you can read a blog post about any problem you have.

Don’t know how to fix your water heater?

How do you prepare your house for the winter?

Can you get rid of a cold faster?

Got ants in your pants and need a quick solution?

No matter how small, large, or absurd your problem, someone else has written or recorded the solution.

And usually, dozens of people have.

Having a solution available, whether by blog, email, or social media, gives customers a reason to keep listening to you.

Creating a unique solution gives customers and prospects a powerfully persuasive reason to listen to you.

What if you don’t have a unique solution?

How can you stand out with your content?

You can actually do quite a bit to differentiate your content so you get more links, followers, and customers than your competitors:

  1. Get to the Point Already 

Internet searchers want a quick answer to their question. They may need help with just a step or two to solve their problem.

Don’t blabber on about the entire history of the problem.

Get to the point.

Identify the problem. Explain why it happens. Show the fixes.

Don’t make your reader endure even one more sentence than they have to.

  1. Entertain

Erin Williamson at Design Crisis knows how to entertain while discussing various interior design topics.

Giving just the facts bores most audiences. It may be appropriate for audiences who like facts, like lawyers or doctors.

 

Here’s an example of a facetious comment she makes:

“I took trig, calculus and physics, and none of that equipped me to figure out how to specify the length and width of a panel with pinch pleats and rods and rings.”

If you crack jokes in person, do it online too. You get the same response, even though you don’t necessarily experience it.

  1. Go Meticulously In-Depth…Farther Than Anyone Else

Again, don’t tell your readers about the history of a problem. That bores.

But do offer details that only an experienced professional like yourself would know.

 

Give your readers everything. And don’t hold back.

Will some take your secrets and do their project for themselves?

Perhaps.

But even more will realize you know what in the heck you’re doing. And they’ll want to hire someone with a sharp mind like yours.

Consider writing a single blog post and going all out on the solution to a problem.

 

Brian Dean of Backlinko uses this approach in the SEO/internet marketing niche, which leads the innovation of content.

He goes way further in-depth and delivers more value than anyone else, which makes it no surprise he’s one of the top minds in his niche.

And don’t be afraid to constantly share stories of personal experiences. Nothing is more credible or convincing to your readers. Plus, the human mind is wired to remember stories far better than lists of boring facts.

How can you make your content stand out?

It should be no problem now!

How Machine Learning Affects Your Search Rankings (And What You Should Do in Response)

Google’s algorithm learns on its own, without human intervention. Yes, programmers need to alter how its algorithm learns with updates from time-to-time.

But Google’s algorithm can absolutely do much of its learning on its own. That’s artificial intelligence.

Google’s RankBrain update does this with new search queries it’s never encountered before. When evaluating the search terms entered, it compares them to similar words and keyphrases which have been searched before. Then, based on its understanding, it delivers the most relevant results for the new search term you enter.

The big deal about this is that Google can understand the actual intent of your search. For searchers, that means they get results more in line with what they want.

Maybe Google isn’t always perfect. But it’s far more accurate than any other search engine.

Big Deal! What Does This Mean for Your Business?

Well, it dramatically shifts your approach to SEO. For around a decade, it’s been all about optimizing your page using the right techniques and keyphrases. And many SEOs still swear adamantly to this approach. For example, you should:

  • Include your most important keyphrase in your page’s URL
  • Make sure it appears in the H1 title at the top of your page
  • Include it in a H2 sub-header, or maybe even a couple of them
  • Keep it in the regular body text of your page a few times
  • Make sure each of the pages on your website is at least 500 words
  • Keep your page load times at less than 3 seconds

Now don’t get us wrong. That stuff’s still important. But almost everyone understands to do it now.

So, you can’t sneak ahead of the competition when you use these techniques. It’s simply a standard of practice you have to do to keep pace.

Today, ranking’s all about content quality.

What Makes content Amazing?

Let’s take a typical small business niche: DIY home repair. You’ll have no problem finding thousands of articles on nearly any DIY subject online.

So what makes one so much better than another?

Take a look at industry expert Bob Vila’s website. It’s loaded with dozens of “how-to” guides. They’re filled with:

  • Detailed info which explains all steps and concepts so anyone can understand them
  • Image examples to clarify ideas
  • Product recommendations

Once you’re done reading the article, you really don’t have any questions left.

But Won’t That Cause Most Customers to Simply Do Everything Themselves and Not Use Your Business?

No. Of course, some readers will go the DIY route. But, remember you’re not going to change what they want to do.

Some readers will always want to DIY. Your goal isn’t to change their minds so you can do it for them and charge them a fee.

Your goal is to provide such amazing value in your content that readers bookmark you, share your content on social media, and otherwise never forget you. Then, when they do have a need for your services (and of course many customers will want to pay for them because they have no desire to DIY), they remember you, and not your competition.

Content is a long-term game in this regard. And those shares and links you earn only come with amazing-quality content. But it creates consistency and predictability you can’t win using any other marketing technique.

3 Guidelines for Determining Your Marketing Budget

A couple decades ago, you simply needed to take out an ad in Yellow Pages. Maybe send out a few brochures. That was your marketing budget.

Now, when marketing online, there’s dozens of channels and tactics you can use. How much do you budget for each?

Which don’t you use? How do you know if you’re overspending, underspending, or spending the right amount?

…And then Google changes how the game works! How do you account for that in your budget?

Those are hard judgments to make. You don’t have any easy answers.

Realistically, you have to understand your own business’s needs and budget accordingly. Here are some things you might think about as you do:

  1. How fast do you need to profit?

Most digital marketing tactics don’t have a quick return. Yes, we’re a digital marketing company. But, that’s the truth.

Social media, SEO, content marketing, website redesign…they typically take at least 6-12 months before you see any benefit. And often, longer than that to realize the full benefit.

PPC can get you qualified leads in your doors within a month. But it’s not as cost-efficient. So, it’s something you may want to hit aggressively at first, and then allocate less budget towards in the future.

  1. How much should you spend?

Public companies spend anywhere from 5-15% of their total annual revenue to increase their growth. About 10% is the average. Public companies who spend less than 5% of their annual revenue experience slow growth, if any at all.

Further, the company who wrote that report found that even for mediocre marketing programs, companies got $10 in revenue for every $1 spent. So now you have guidelines on the gross amount to spend.

  1. 70% of Surveyed SMBs Will Increase Their 2017 Marketing Spend

Get Response, one of the leading email marketing tools available, asked Gartner, a leading tech research firm, to survey SMBs and share the results. Here’s what they found:

  • 70% of SMBs will increase their 2017 marketing budget
  • 40% would increase it “somewhat”
  • 30% said it would increase “considerably”

Another online survey by Gartner (and again requested by Get Response), found high return-on-investment in online marketing, regardless of industry.

Online Marketing Simply Works…You Have to Decide Your Budget

Just like anything else, you get what you pay for. Online marketing offers high ROI. At the same time, you have to be willing to budget for it to make it happen.

Only you can decide exactly what your budget should be. And now, you have perspective and information so you can make the most sensible decision for your business.

How to Write Amazing Headlines That Drive More Clicks and Higher Rankings

The headline…it gets overlooked a lot.

But, it’s the first thing that gets noticed about your website. If users are in search, they see that big blue headline first. If they’re actually on your website, it’s the first thing they see at the top of your web page.

Your headline determines whether searchers click through to your website. And if they’ve already made it to your website, it determines if they read to the bottom of your page or not.

Well, not entirely. But, it plays the largest role in whether that happens. Pages on your site with longer engagement time, more click-throughs, and lower bounce rates experience better rankings in search.

So, your page’s headline is quite a powerful thing that shouldn’t be overlooked.

What makes one headline get more clicks than another? Buzzsumo was wondering. So, they did research on 100 million headlines.

And here’s some of the highlights:

  • The 3 Most Popular Phrases for Starting Headlines

These are the three phrases Buzzsumo’s research found for starting headlines:
X reasons why…
X things you…
This is what…

Why do the first two work? List-based posts have always worked well…even before the internet. In the day of magazines, newspapers, and other print content, marketers knew this. People just love knowing how many things they’re going to learn before actually visiting the post.

“This is what…” likely works because it arouses curiosity. That’s usually the leading emotion to market to for consumers.

By the way, the most engaging numbers in headlines are 10, 5, and 15 – in that order.

  • How Many Words Long Should Your Headline Be?

Shorter is better, isn’t it? Not with headlines.

Buzzsumo’s research found headlines that get shared the most have 12-18 words, with about 15 being ideal. They actually fall almost perfectly on a normal curve.

If you’re going to make the topic clear and communicate exceptional value, headlines take more words.

  • All That Said, You Must Research Your Niche

People in any niche respond to certain headlines best. At this point, the web is so saturated with great content and engaging headlines that you can research what works quite easily.

Buzzsumo offers free 14-day trials. With their tool, you can enter in a URL of a top website in your niche and instantly find the articles that get the most shares so you learn what headlines and topics work.

We don’t have any kind of business affiliation with Buzzsumo, so don’t feel like this is an advertisement. It’s simply an extremely useful tool for researching the most popular content in any niche.