Thursday, January 18, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
Monday, January 15, 2018 by Kristen Hicks
What Are Google Rich Results and How Do They Affect SEO?If you use Google much (and most of us do), you’ve probably started to notice a real change in the search results. Where once there was a list of links (some of the ones up top paid for), there’s now a mix of links, images, text boxes, maps... lots of types of information in different forms, all taking up space on the main search results page. If you care about your website’s SEO, then you should care about how the search engine results pages (SERPs) look – being one of those links on the first page used to be the end-all be-all goal of SEO. But it means less if your link is pushed down below several other types of content and information, instead of just other links. Everyone with a website should therefore be paying attention to what these changes mean for your site’s visibility. Here’s a basic rundown of the main things you need to know about all those special search results dominating the SERPs.
5 Types of Special Google ResultsThese special results can take a lot of different forms. Some of the main ones that website owners should be aware of are:
1. Featured snippetsWhen you search a simple question in Google, you’ll now often see a box above the other search results that includes the text that answers your question – right there on the results page, so you don’t have to navigate away to get the information you need. These are featured snippets, sometimes called instant answers. This information is pulled from the text of a webpage, which is linked right below the answer. That means that you can be number one in the list of links below, without being the first link people see on the page. These show up in a few different formats. Commonly it’s a little bit of text and an image pulled from the webpage with the link below. Sometimes, the information that’s pulled shows up in a bulleted or numbered list. And sometimes, you’ll see a number of “People Also Ask” options, which open up their own featured snippets.
2. Map snippetsThe map snippet comes up anytime a search term suggests to Google that you’re looking for something you’d be likely to go to a physical location for. Sometimes the map cluster shows up below other ads and results, and sometimes it’s at the top of the results page. In either case, you see a map that has several locations marked with red pins, with three locations listed below below it. The results below the map usually include an address, ratings information, photos, contact information, and business hours (if relevant). Note that these listings don’t provide links directly to the website of the business or other location listed. When you click, you go to an expanded result for the location you clicked on, with a larger map of other relevant results. There you can find the link to the website.
3. Rich adsWhile ads have always been a part of Google’s search results, many searches now include ads that provide visuals and the same kind of rich information that increasingly shows up in natural results. These rich ads sometimes show up above the other results and sometimes to the side. They include images, pricing information, ratings information and the name of the business. Sometimes they even include additional helpful information like that a product comes with “free shipping” or is for “in-store pickup.” Obviously, these aren’t spots you can capture with SEO, but you can pay for them with Google AdWords if you want an easy way to stand out in the SERPs.
4. Video resultsVideos don’t show up as featured snippets that often, but for some searches they do. In these cases, you can click to watch the video on the search results page without navigating elsewhere. More often, you see video thumbnails alongside links in the search results. When you click on these, they open the page where the video is hosted for you to watch (usually on YouTube)
5. Rich snippetsIn addition to the flashy snippets and visuals on the top of and alongside the page, for some searches, you’ll also see rich results in the list of links. What kind of information you’ll see with these can vary a lot, but it can include thumbnail images, ratings information, number of reviews, and things like calorie counts for recipes.
What These Special Results Mean for SEOThese types of special results aren’t either all good or all bad. In some cases, they’re likely to distract away from the main search results, as with rich advertisements that draw the eye before a person starts to scroll down, or featured snippets that answer simple questions on the SERP so that people are unlikely to click through to any other results. On the other hand, featured snippets that provide a partial answer to more complicated questions (often the case with bulleted snippets) are more likely to get people to click through to the link. And rich search results can draw attention to particular search results with more information and visuals, making them potentially more competitive than others that rank higher. On the whole, it’s a mixed bag for marketers. But there are some things you can do to make your webpages more competitive in the world of special search results.
Using Schema MarkupAny of the rich search results you see that have things like thumbnail images, ratings, or review information showing up alongside the link didn’t just get there with luck. The website owners figured out how to provide Google’s algorithm that information in just the right way for it to show up in the results. The way to do that is with schema markup. You use shema markup to tell the search engines which pieces of information on your website fall into the types of data categories they’ve decided merit a special sort of display on the platform. Because Google thinks users will benefit from knowing how long a recipe takes to make or how many calories are in it, if you provide that information to them using schema markup, they’ll display it on the results page. Luckily, schema markup was specifically developed to be pretty user friendly. You can visit Schema.org to learn about the different types of Schema markup there are and the different categories you’ll want to include in your code for each type. To make updating your own site easy, you can use Google’s schema markup generator. Just put in the URL you want to generate markup for, select the type of content it is, and then you can highlight the different parts of the page that should be added into the different fields provided. As an example, you’d highlight the headline of your article and select “Name” in the dropdown menu that shows up to mark it as the article’s title. When you’re done selecting the text on the page for each category, click on “create HTML” to find the code that you need to add to your page for schema markup. You can copy and paste the whole code they provide to your page, or go look for the specific spots where something’s highlighted in yellow and just paste in those parts.
Optimizing for Featured SnippetsFeatured snippets are sometimes referred to as “Position 0” amongst SEO professionals, since they get you above even that top spot. While in some cases, your content showing up in a featured snippet could just mean that people get the answer they need without clicking through, for many searches it’s still a worthy goal to aim for since it puts your answer and link far above everybody else on the page and in a way that draws attention. The best way to optimize for featured snippets is to create the kind of content most likely to show up in them. The types of queries you should focus on are those where people are looking to answer a question – but one that’s a bit too big to get a full answer to within the text box at the top of the page. Spend some time brainstorming questions relevant to your website and industry. Then go do some Googling to see what results show up for them now. What you’re looking for here are queries where there is a featured snippet, but the answer’s not great. These provide an opportunity to create something better, while knowing that Google already sees this query as one that should generate a snippet. Also pay attention to which questions bring up answers from Wikipedia – these aren’t a good place to put your time, since Google’s unlikely to decide your website is more authoritative than Wikipedia. You’ll also want to be very particular in the language you use. Moz recommends making your keywords and phrases very literal. So drop whatever clever heading you had in mind and use the phrase a person’s most likely to be searching.
For Local SEO: Optimizing for the Map SnippetIf your business has a physical location and reaching local residents is a priority, then the map snippet – popularly called the map 3-pack by local SEO professionals – is the most important of all special results for you to focus on. Part of getting into the map cluster has to do with how close you are geographically to the person searching, so you don’t have much control over that. But you can implement a few local SEO best practices to increase your chances of showing up there more often:
- Claim your Google listing. Hopefully you’ve already done this, but if not do it now.
- Add your website to relevant directories. Get listed in as many as possible and make sure your name, address, and phone number looks the same in all of them. So if you write out Acme Road in one, don’t shorten it to Rd in another.
- Encourage reviews. This is a big one and one of the hardest to pull off, since it depends on getting the cooperation of your customers. But you can be proactive in asking for reviews or pointing your customers toward where they can leave you a review on Google.
- Do content marketing and link building with a local focus. Create content focused on local issues. Work with other local businesses to launch events, host charity drives, create joint initiatives – anything that might earn you local press and links to other sites in your community. If it strengthens your local authority, it will improve your SEO in general, which increases your chances of showing up in the cluster.
Monday, June 12, 2017 by Jeremy JensenWhether you’re running a successful solo operation, or have 50 employees working for your company, you may be looking to streamline your efficiency by setting up shop in the Google application suite. Formerly known as Google Apps, the tech giant has rebranded its services under the title of G Suite. Even more significant, Google officially announced that the Google for Work brand has been updated and will simply be called Google Cloud. The transformation is a move Google claims will allow them to target a wider audience by placing less of an emphasis on the work element, and paying more attention to the collection of apps that are incredibly useful in everyday life. In this article we will be discussing the former to arrive at the latter: Google apps has become the industry standard for internal workflow, and as a result, has made the lives of the working individual much less complicated and stressful. But, before we begin talking about the benefits, there are some FAQ’s that need to be addressed.
I Already Have A Gmail Account, What Am I Paying For?Ownership. That may sound underwhelming, but when you use an ordinary Gmail account you do not have the option to have it read email@example.com. From a B2B perspective, it is much less likely your emails will be opened without having your official company name in the address. It is also a tremendous tactic for brand recognition, especially if your company is continually expanding with new employees. On that note, the ownership also applies to an administrator being able to give out company email addresses in times of hiring or firing. If an employee decides to go work elsewhere all rights, including emails and contacts, are kept within the company. So what does it cost? For one user it is a flat $5/month, or $50/year. If you wish to have unlimited storage space within Google Drive then you can upgrade to $10/per month, or $100/year. This is known as G Suite Business. For additional employees the cost works like this: Since many companies are prone to fluctuation in employee numbers, this plan is flexible allowing you to add or subtract the subscriptions you pay for. Most importantly, having your entire team integrated under one room is going to open up collaborative potential like never before.
The Benefits of Using G SuiteExpanding upon the ownership of the email account are several benefits exclusive to using the G Suite paid subscription.
1. File OwnershipA large concern of the previous generation was keeping track of important files being collaborated on within the bounds of a company. On G Suite granting access to documents stored on the cloud is worry free by granting the creation and ownership to the administrator. The product also allows for you to synchronize an employee’s machine so that all of their files on the desktop will be uploaded where you can access them upon an employee’s termination.
2. Sharing DocumentsBy integrating an entire team under one roof, you can easily share documents across the same storage portal with the click of a button. The sharing setting also permits ‘view-only’ and ‘can edit’ assignments on a per case basis.
3. Email Address GroupingYour company is probably broken up into several different departments and operational roles. Rather than trying to remember every individual email upon sending out a message to a specific department you can compartmentalize people who should be receiving the message into categories: Accounting, Marketing, Art, Staff, etc. There are no additional costs for grouping, and the number of groups you can include is unlimited.
4. Unlimited AliasesFor every G Suite account, you’re permitted the use of multiple aliases. For example, I work for a newspaper that is broken up into several editorial departments. I receive emails under three aliases: firstname.lastname@example.org email@example.com firstname.lastname@example.org This diversification allows you to create specific and indicative starting points for potential clients to get in contact. The different aliases can also be applied to multiple accounts as a way for your staff to handle incoming emails as a team.
5. Greater Storage CapacityThe default for Gmail accounts is 15GB, spread between your email and anything you keep in the drive. For a G Suite account that capacity is bumped up to 30GB at the $5/month level. As previously mentioned, storage can be immediately upgraded to individual accounts by paying $10/month. For a complete list of storage options, find out how to get more storage space.
6. 24/7 SupportSurprisingly, the free Gmail option does not come equipped with customer support. With G Suite you’re completely covered 24/7 with phone, email and live chat customer support. If this is your first time integrating Google Apps with your website information having this asset is of great value.
7. 2-Step AuthenticationCyber security is entering an era of increased vulnerability. With major tech firms experiencing breaches in their cloud systems throughout the past few years, it’s crucial to know your sensitive business documents are protected by layers of encryption and verification. G Suite offers 2-step verification that can enforced on all of your company’s users to ensure every device connecting to your network has been verified through phone and email.
8. Integrate the G Suite Control Panel Directly Through HostGatorTo verify your domain name and begin using emails with your domain name’s URL you’ll need to follow a series of steps with your hosting service. Fortunately, we made it easy and have all the steps written out on our support pages.
Wednesday, May 10, 2017 by Kristen HicksSEO is expensive, competitive, and hard. But as a local business, you have something significant going for you: your pool of competition is much smaller than the ones national and international brands have to deal with. Your website doesn’t need to be found by everyone; you just need to be found by the people who live in your community. If you get that right, the results can be significant. Half of consumers that do a local search on their smartphone end up visiting a store they found there that same day. When people do a search in Google, they’ll see a map and a list of the top three local listings that are nearby, before they see any other results. In local searches like this one, users get plenty of information on those top three choices right away - they can see both how other customers have rated each of them and exactly how far away they are. For most consumers, that’s enough information to make a decision and head out, without ever bothering to scroll further down. For local businesses, that means that while making sure your website is optimized for search engines matters, making sure that your Google My Business Listing is optimized matters at least as much.
1. Set up your Google Business Listing (if you haven’t yet).The first step is to set up (or claim) your Google My Business Listing. Go to Google’s My Business page and click “Start Now” in the upper left corner. Then fill in every relevant field that Google offers. You want to make sure the profile is as complete as possible and that every piece of information is accurate.
2. Choose a relevant, specific category.The category you choose will help Google decide which searches your local listing belongs in. You have to choose from the list of available categories, you can’t create your own. If there’s not a specific category that describes what your business is, settle on a more general one that still describes it accurately. If possible though, you want to go for the most specific category available. “Grocery Store” is a more competitive term than “Gourmet Grocery Store” or “Indian Grocery Store.” The latter categories are more likely to land you in the top three for relevant searches, especially if you’re in a city with a lot of grocery stores.
3. Load quality, high-resolution images.Photos help your listing to stand out and give potential customers a glimpse of what to expect. Make sure you use high-quality images that make your business look good and show off your products (if you sell physical products). Consider hiring a Google approved photographer to create a 360-view virtual tour of your business for customers. According to Google, listings that have a virtual tour and photos generate twice as much interest as those without.
4. Make sure your information matches everywhere else.One thing Google’s algorithm looks at to verify the legitimacy of a listing is a consistency in how it’s listed across different websites. While that seems simple enough – your address is the same each time you enter it somewhere – it’s easy for little differences to slip in. Maybe you wrote out the Road part of the street name one time, and shortened it to Rd another time, for instance. Pick a standard way to write out your address, a consistent phone number to use, and make sure all your listings match both each other and the information you provide on your website. And work on getting your website listed in as many relevant directories as possible.
5. Use a local number.In addition to keeping your phone number consistent between your different listings, it’s also important to use a phone number with a local area code. That’s one extra signal to Google that you are actually local. Make sure the number you use for your Google My Business listing is also displayed somewhere on your home page or whatever landing page you link to from your Google listing.
6. Avoid penalty-inducing offenses.Any work you do to optimize your website or local listing will be for naught if you incur a penalty. Google suspends business listings for a range of offenses. Getting suspended is stressful, confusing, and bad for business, so it’s best to avoid doing anything that puts you at risk of it. Read through Google’s guidelines for Google My Business listings so you have a full understanding of what not to do. Some of the main things to avoid are:
- Using a URL that redirects to your website’s URL, rather than the actual URL itself.
- Trying to awkwardly add keywords into your business name field.
- Having multiple local listings for the same business location.
- Using any address for your business that isn’t a physical storefront or office space where you meet with customers.
7. Encourage reviews.You’ll notice that the local businesses listed in the map snippet of a local search usually have star ratings next to their name. Google wants to provide the most useful information to its users, and users want to find the nearby business that seems the best. In both cases, it benefits your business to have a high star rating. Ask your happy customers to take a few minutes to give you a review on Google. Include an encouragement on promotional materials you hand out or put up in your store. A gentle nudge or a reminder of how much it means for your business can make your loyal customers that much more likely to take the time to say a few kind words about you.
8. Make sure your website and content is optimized for search.All the usual SEO advice that helps strengthen the authority of your website in the eyes of Google matters here too. So don’t focus on optimizing your local listing to the exclusion of optimizing your website as well. Make sure that you:
Monday, December 19, 2016 by Alex IvanovsGoogle is a household name, and everyone knows that Google has the potential to make a business successful. It requires hard work and dedication, but the results can be very fruitful and rewarding. The traditional technique for getting exposure on Google is search engine optimization (SEO), of which there are countless tutorials and guides available that help webmasters and business owners to get started with search promotion, but what about other techniques? What else does Google offer to webmasters to increase rankings, gain more exposure, and most importantly, acquire more customers? Over the years Google has built a number of features that any small or big business owner can take advantage of, and all of these tips and techniques are totally free of charge, so you're getting more exposure at literally no cost.
1. Customer Reviews & RatingsGoogle loves rich snippets, and customer reviews and ratings is one of the rich-snippets that Google will happily integrate in the search engine result pages. Not only does this help you gain credibility from your own customers, it also gives you more visibility in search engine pages, and fair rankings for the kind of products and services you are selling. Take a look at the snapshot below and you'll see what we mean. Which search result pops?
2. E-Commerce Link BuildingE-Commerce sites should focus on trying to get backlinks for their product pages, rather than the homepage alone. Because of how big the E-Commerce market is, it can be quite difficult to get product pages to rank when you are only getting links to the homepage. A strategy that involves promoting product pages individually should be essential. Google is built upon the idea of link building and link influence, so to better improve your product page rankings, focus on getting links for those pages alone.
3. Product DescriptionsAn E-Commerce site will be using a lot of content for product descriptions. Make sure that this content is fully optimized for the keywords you are trying to rank for, but don't forget to ensure that this content is friendly to the user, and explains in detail what your product is really about; that's the important part. Saying something is great without explaining why doesn't work these days. Google loves insightful content that answers peoples questions.
4. Google My BusinessGoogle My Business puts your business info on Search, Maps and Google+ so that customers can find you, no matter what device they're using. Give customers the right info at the right time, whether that be physical directions to your business in Maps, hours of operations in Search or a phone number they can click to call you on mobile phones. Google My Business helps you build a loyal fan base. Your customers can show their appreciation with ratings and reviews, use the +1 button to endorse your content, and re-share your Google+ posts across the web.
5. Visual ContentMuch of what you do on an E-Commerce site involves using visual content, whether it is images to showcase what your products look like, or the use of video content to demo your content and talk more about it. Visual content is an essential part of a successful E-Commerce strategy, and Google is known to reward sites that use high-quality photography accompanied by appropriate and relevant keywords; same applies to hosting your video content on YouTube and using concise descriptions for the videos.
6. Outline Your Most Important DetailsEverywhere! This means your contact phone numbers, your physical address, your website address, anything that could possibly connect you with your audience at any given time. Whether it's your Facebook fan page, or Twitter profile, if it allows for you to enter your contact details, by all means do it, since this will further help Google understand the way you have structured your business and its website. Do you have any additional tips for promoting your business on Google? Let us know in the comments!
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