How to Use Google Trends to Fuel Higher Search Rankings

Believe it or not, we haven’t covered this topic before.

But, it’s a great way to find keyword searches that your competitors may not be optimizing for.

It’s through a free tool called Google Trends.

It simply shows you how hot a certain keyword search is. For example, I typed in “SEO,” and here’s what showed up:

So, you can clearly see:

  1. For whatever reason, SEO’s relative strength as a search has dropped from 100 to 50 in the past year
  2. SEO is really hot in Kansas, New York, and California

Now, I have absolutely no clue why. But at least you understand America as a whole is losing interest in “SEO” as a topic.

You also get related searches that are gaining steam:

“Insignia SEO” comes up as a popular search. And that’s the name of an SEO company.

Since “SEO” is a relatively large category, however, you get some fairly unrelated topics to what you intended.

“SEO” seems to have a lot to do with South Korean actors.

So, let’s try and clarify that to get more relevant topics. This time, I entered “search engine optimization,” and here’s what showed up:

Again, for whatever reason, the topic as a whole seems to be losing steam here over the past year. And again, it appears to be gaining popularity in Kansas and New York.

So let’s see what came up in terms of related searches:

Ahh! Here’s some useful search terms:

  • Search engine optimization definition
  • Search engine optimization for dummies
  • Search engine optimization techniques

And apparently, search engine optimization’s gaining a lot of popularity in Seattle too.

But now, you at least have a few terms that you know would be worth writing about. And to get a clearer idea on them each, you could enter them into Google trends.

“Search engine optimization techniques” for example, has had its popularity chopping up and down for the past year. Currently, it’s shooting up for whatever reason.

You can also check the trend for the keyword in Image search, News search, Google shopping, and YouTube search.

So, this is quite a helpful tool – especially when you start really drilling down into various niches. You can check the specific popularity of fairly obscure topics most people know little about. It’s a way of gaining precision marketing data that simply wasn’t available prior to the internet.

And if you learn how to use this, it acts as a “secret weapon” in your marketing arsenal.

Google Shocks the SEO World with New “Medic” Core Algorithm Update

 

…Oh those stinkers at Google. They did it again!

At least they’re laying off cute animal names (Panda, Penguin, Hummingbird) this time.

So what ace did they pull out of their sleeves now?

Learn more about the “Medic” update:

Health, Medical, and YMYL Sites Pay Attention

Google doesn’t target niches too often. Especially with core algorithm updates. So it’s noteworthy when they do.

Because something must really be bothering them if they decided to take action.

First, what is a YMYL site? Well, it does one or more of the following:

  1. Asks for personal identification numbers like your banking info
  2. Allows you to perform a monetary transaction with a credit card number or any other payment mechanism
  3. Offers medical or health information that could affect your mental or physical well-being
  4. Gives advice on a major life decision like buying a home or car, or parenting
  5. Offers advice on a major financial issue

The core result of Google’s actions has been to reward the top-quality content in this niche with the highest rankings. Apparently, they felt some sites in this niche were under-rewarded. 

And for those sites who fell, it’s not that their content was “bad.” It’s been “less good” than top-performing content in those niches.

These sites saw around a 33-50% drop in their overall rankings:

…While these sites saw a 33-50% gain in their search rankings:

So, it’s a matter of studying what their content does well. And what it stinks at.

Then, you simply imitate the winners.

Surprise, Surprise! Quality Content Wins the Day!

If you’ve paid any attention to SEO for the last 5 years, you shouldn’t be the slightest bit shocked.

Now, you certainly had no way to know Google would target health, medical, and financial websites.

But, you’ve certainly hear Google (and us) talk endlessly about driving your content quality through the roof.

Remember, “quality content” refers to what your market finds the most valuable. And they tell you that through these metrics:

  1. Bounce rate (the number of people who visit a certain page on your website once, and then leave permanently)
  2. Time spent on-page
  3. Social shares
  4. Page visits
  5. Email unsubscribe rate
  6. Email click rate
  7. Email list size

These metrics tell you other things too. They don’t necessarily only reflect content quality. But, they do offer some indication of the quality of your content.

That’s the great thing about the web. You can learn exactly what your audience wants over time – without them ever speaking a word to you.

So anyway, there’s your lesson for the day. Google’s cleaning up the web. And it’s becoming a more useful place every day.

Now it’s up to you to do the best job you can of serving your audience.

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.

2 Simple SEO Opportunities You’re Overlooking Right Now

 

Truthfully, SEO requires endless ongoing work. You can spend your entire working year on SEO only.

So, that means you always have abundant opportunity for growth. And somehow, you have to focus on the opportunities that can make the most difference for you now.

Here’s another couple ideas to focus your (or your SEO team’s) energy on:

1. Get as Many Reviews as Possible

This could mean Google reviews for your company’s listing when you appear in search. It could also be for specific products as they get listed in search. And you’ll also want reviews all over your website.

Third-party data like this not only boosts your search rankings and your visibility in search, but it also convinces people who don’t know you well yet.

What’s more credible than honest, objective opinions from people who have experienced your product or service?

Worried about negative reviews?

Don’t be.

You can transform them into amazing customer service stories. Simply resolve the issue publicly so other potential customers can see you’ll fix things when they go wrong.

That builds an incredible amount of confidence.

Don’t manipulate your reviews. Follow up purchases and service experiences by email with a link that allows customers to leave honest reviews.

2. Use Customer-Generated Photos

Don’t these frequently look odd and “unprofessional?”

Yes!

…But that doesn’t matter.

Customers don’t want a professional experience on your website that’s completely controlled by your company.

That reeks of bias and lack of objectivity.

Of course, they want your site to look organized and like you care.

But they also want to understand what it’s like to actually experience your product or service.

And posting customer photos makes that far more real and authentic than any expensive professional photo or costly stock image.

Yotpo increased sales by 24% by adding customer-generated photos to their site.

From the SEO side, include phrases that accurately describe what’s happening in the photo using natural language (in the image’s alt text).

This gets you search engine exposure. And then when customers click over to your site and see that photo (instead of an odd, professional, and clearly staged photo like nearly every other business has), you have a far greater chance of winning their business.

Yes. SEO gets creative like this today. And every little edge you can get – the better off you are.

Google Increases Meta Descriptions to 320 Characters – Why Care?

Yep. Another Google change.

This time they increased the length of your pages’ meta description. Strangely enough, this only has a small indirect effect on your rankings.

For clarification, meta descriptions now look like this:

And for once, this change doesn’t have much of an effect on your search rankings.

But smart SEOs and SMBs can still capitalize in significant ways.

Why Should You Care about the Length of Your Meta Description?

So if your meta description’s length doesn’t affect your search rankings, why should you care about it at all?

…Because it’s another opportunity to win more clicks (and sales too). A higher click-through rate for your page does improve your search rankings.

It’s not a huge factor. But it is one nonetheless.

The bigger (and even hidden) opportunity lies in your meta description’s ability to drive more qualified customers to your website.

You can’t jam much value into 160 characters.

But 320 is more than enough.

So, you have more room to include benefits, product and service differentiation, and attractive features about your company (like no contracts, same-day service, limited time offers, or whatever you have).

You can also add another relevant search phrase or two that your customers might use. The keyword they enter, along with closely related terms, appear in bold.

Searchers click listings with their bolded terms more frequently also.

Should You Change All Your Meta Descriptions?

…You don’t need to.

At a minimum, you should at least revisit the meta descriptions for your highest-trafficked web pages.

Make sure they include the primary keyword you target, and possibly a closely related term or two.

Include all the most powerful benefits, differentiation, and product and service features that light customers’ eyes up when considering whether to purchase.

If that doesn’t fill all 320 characters up, no big deal! A long meta description does you no good. But a value-packed one does.

Then, as you have time, work your way down to the pages on your website with the lowest traffic.

You may even ignore your lower traffic pages if you don’t have the time or the money to spend.

Not a Huge Change, But One Smart SEOs and Companies Pay Attention To

In the grand scheme of search, this isn’t a monstrous change.

But, most companies likely won’t prioritize updating their meta descriptions because they exclusively focus on search rankings and know this won’t help them much in that regard.

That means this can be your opportunity to be more persuasive and snatch more customers.

Just like in any other profession, the most successful do all the little things right.

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.