Does Your Content Stink?

Who determines the quality of your content?

Google?

Nope!

I’ll give you one more guess…

Got it?

Did you say your website visitors?

Ding. Ding! We have a winner!

Yes, your market determines the quality of your content.

Because, if they like it, they click through to your site from search, stay on your page for a minute or two, share your content, and then come back again and read more in the future.

Google factors all those actions into its rankings.

When you optimize for keywords, Google does look at your content too. But it continually adjusts your rankings based on how well your content performs.

Yes. Google works on the concept of democracy. The people vote by taking (or not taking) actions. A sole powerful king or dictator does not determine what you get to see and hear.

How Do You Know If Your Content Rocks…Or Sucks?

Read this snippet of an article of a post at a local online magazine and decide whether you think it rocks or sucks:

 

The Expert’s Opinion

So, what did you think? Would you have found that useful if you had an interest in going to Minneapolis for a weekend?

Now, get an expert’s opinion.

What do I think?

…It doesn’t matter!

I honestly cannot tell just by looking at the post.

The writing quality is decent. It won’t irk Google and hurt rankings in any obvious ways.

However, the true value of content gets judged by how well it meets the needs and interests of its audience.

…And the only way I can tell that is by viewing data and analytics.

I don’t have access to the website’s analytics. But I can see basic data via Buzzsumo’s Content Analyzer:

43 social shares.

…And this post just got published a day prior to getting this data. So more shares will roll in.

Now, this website is a step above the typical small, local business. For them, I’m guessing it’s not their most popular post.

Buzzsumo lets me see the most popular posts on the site. So let’s look at that data:

Their top posts get 1.5k – 2.1k social shares.

A reasonable guess for this type of website would be that a typical post gets maybe 100 – 200 social shares or so.

It usually takes a couple weeks for numbers to get to their final (that’s how content works). So, this post you just read is likely an average post.

How to Use This to Determine Your Content Quality

Share numbers from your website won’t be nearly as high. That’s because you’re smaller and have a lower reach.

No shame in that. It’s just a fact.

For you, 50 shares on a post might be pretty decent.

But, you can also use Buzzsumo to research your competitor’s sites. See how many shares they get.

And remember, they may have a bigger audience built up. So, you can’t say your posts weren’t successful simply because you didn’t get the same number of shares.

But, you can get an idea of what content works in your niche. Write your own opinion on the same subject. Go farther in-depth and be more helpful.

Add pictures and videos to clarify your meaning. Link to helpful outside sources.

Then, you know you have great content.

And that means you simply have to get yours in front of the right eyeballs.

Great content comes from trying different approaches, studying data, and improving. You build it slowly over time with incremental improvement.

Armed with the right data, you know precisely whether your content stinks…or rocks!

How to Effortlessly Get More Positive Reviews

Consumers just love to see those gorgeous 4-5 golden yellow stars! This holds true for Google Reviews, Facebook, Amazon, your own website, and even just a plain-ol’ Google search.

Why?

…Because they offer so much credibility. In the business world, and human life in general, nothing’s more credible than a 3rd-party testimonial.

Now, sometimes you can fake those reviews. It does happen. You don’t want to do that though because all these websites search for ways to screen those out, and possibly ban you from using their site ever again.

Plus, besides looking good and building credibility, positive ratings do help you increase your SEO and search rankings. So the more you have, the better. But how do you get them in the first place?

Well, let us help you with that:

  1. Ask Satisfied Customers for a Review

You can do this many ways. The first is simply by asking a satisfied customer in person to leave you a positive online review via the medium you’d like them to do so the most.

You could also send a follow-up email to them with a direct link to where they can leave the review – which makes it even easier. They don’t have to search for you on Google, create an account, and sign in. Every little step leads to more dropoff.

  1. Offer an Excellent Service

The internet makes shopping and comparing business hundreds of times easier than ever before. So, you have to beat your competitors at what they do and be worthy of a perfect rating.

Good companies have a 4.0 – 4.5 star rating on Google. Great companies rate 4.6-4.9. When you have that extra bit of a star, it drives your sales through the roof.

One study by Northwestern University’s Spiegel Research Center found purchase likelihood increases the most at around 4.0 – 4.7 stars. Those extra .1 – .2 of a star do help, but the lift isn’t as great as it is at lower ratings.

That same study also found a web page with 5 reviews gets around 270% more sales than a page with 0 reviews.

So, the more you can do to be worthy of a higher rating, the better off you’ll be.

  1. Publicly Respond to Negative Reviews

What do most companies do? They try to brush the dirt under the rug.

However, you can easily turn a negative review into a positive one. Regardless of the medium, you can respond both publicly and privately. Publicly, state you’re sorry about the bad experience and more than happy to fix it. Privately, ask your customer what you can do to get a perfect 5-star rating.

Most customers don’t get too peeved about bad service. They care more about how you respond to it.

If the customer says they want double their money back, give it to them. It pays for itself many times over in the long run.Then, ask them to post an update to their review on their experience with you solving their problem, and how they feel about you now. Last, see if this is a pattern. Are there any changes you can make to your business to prevent this from happening again?

Consistently winning positive reviews online is simple. You just have to get the right systems in place to make it happen. And it’s a glorious thing for your business when it does!

via GIPHY

 

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.

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.

Google’s John Mueller Reveals New Info about the Mobile-First Index

Google’s mobile-first index doesn’t quite work like you think.

At first, you’d think maybe it shows search results different for mobile users. After all, they search differently and want different things than desktop searchers.

But that’s not how the mobile-first index works.

Rather, it means that the mobile version of your website becomes the starting point for how Google determines your rankings. If you don’t have a mobile site, you can still actually rank in the mobile-first index. But, if you provide a better mobile experience than other websites, you get a rankings boost (even for desktop searchers).

So simply think of the mobile version of your website as the primary version. And if it’s the only version you have, that’s fine.

Until now, Google looked at the desktop version of your website as the primary one. So going forward, that means it makes sense to cater to mobile users as much as possible.

Google does this because they’re a smart, publicly-traded company who understands how to cater to the market. At least 60% of all searches now happen on mobile devices.

So if you want to stay the #1 search engine, it simply makes good business sense to show websites that serve mobile searchers best.

What Google’s John Mueller Shared about the Mobile-First Index

Anyway, with all that background info in mind, here’s what Google spokesperson John Mueller had to say about the mobile-first index:

  1. Google Will Notify You in Its Search Console When You Get Moved to This Index

No surprises. No guesses. Google will let you know when you’re in.

  1. Ready Sites Get Moved First

If your site is optimized for mobile users, it goes to this index first. That’s potentially a nice rankings advantage.

  1. Code Remains Important

Google will no longer look at the desktop index. Sometimes, code differs between a mobile and desktop index. And, that code can be important to your rankings.

So it’s essential your SEO and developer understands to include those code snippets that help your site rank.

  1. Better to Have a Good Desktop Site Than a Bad Mobile One

Should you panic at the sound of this news and slam out a mobile-ready site, complete with mistakes and cut corners?

Nope!

John Mueller says to cater to the overall user experience first.

Just like all Google updates, this one is a big deal…but it isn’t.

It will cause change.

But if you pay any attention to the market, and what Google’s doing, it comes as no surprise.

And it shouldn’t catch you off guard.

At the same time, you’re wise to be aware and fine-tune your website for the best searcher experience so you stay as high as possible in the rankings.

How to Turn Your Visitors into Repeat Visitors – And Customers

How does business on the web work?

Why do random web visitors turn into customers?

…And why don’t they?

Business, sometimes, can be a mysterious thing. You don’t always know why consumers choose to do what they do.

But we can assure you that you’ll turn more into repeat visitors and customers when you focus on the following:

  1. Be the Most Valuable Resource in Your Niche

Consumers bookmark, share, subscribe to newsletters, and come back to websites that solve their problems. If they’re not ready to buy now, they’ll at least remember you for quite some time.

…And then if they have a problem you solve, they’ll contact you because they know, like, and trust you.

This cycle may take 3, 6, or 9 months – or maybe even a full year or two.

And to keep their attention, you gotta build your relationship with them. You do that by offering incredible value they can’t get anywhere else.

Most blogs give just the basics.

But if you’re an experienced professional, you know some things many others don’t. Share those insights on your blog so readers have a reason to stick with you instead of the other guys.

Don’t hide your best stuff!

Put it out there. Because when people learn something new, they get interested.

Yes, your competitors might read your blog. But still, they can’t just grab your experience and become you overnight. You can’t fake that.

Trust us – you’ll be okay sharing even your trade secrets on your blog.

  1. Differentiate, Differentiate, Differentiate

On your home page, about page, and services pages (aka all your “sales pages”), focus almost all your time differentiating your company from the hundreds of others who do exactly the same thing.

What if you look at your company and find yourself basically the same as dozens of others?

Spend time and money on creating differentiation.

New and different businesses always attract a boat-load of attention.

And then focus your time on explaining why your difference matters.

This gives your market a good reason to go with you – rather than another company who simply offers a limited time discount.

You’ll also be able to charge higher prices and keep customers longer.

Now Go Out There and Win the Attention You Deserve!

No matter how successful your business is, sticking to these two principles puts you in a winning position – or solidifies it that much more.

So ponder them, research examples, and figure out how you can apply both to your business.