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SEO

Google Launches the Helpful Content Update

By SEO No Comments

Google is launching a new sitewide algorithm update this week called the “Helpful Content Update” to improve the visibility for sites that have content written for people and to devalue content written primarily for SEO and manipulating search engine rankings.

The new “Helpful Content Update” is automated using a machine-learning model that rewards websites providing high-quality, informative content that is useful to end users and satisfies user intent. This change will have a significant impact on SEO, as Google will now place a greater emphasis on quality, useful content. We believe this update will have a strong impact and will cause some fluctuations in the SERPs like we had with the launch of Penguin ten years ago. 

Should You Worry About the Impact of the Helpful Content Update?

If you own or manage a site that publishes large amounts of content offering little value to end users that does not satisfy their information need, then yes, you should be worried your website traffic, rankings, and key performance indicators might be significantly impacted. The signal is weighted, meaning some sites will be hit harder than others.

Keep in mind this update is sitewide. Therefore, if Google determines a large portion of your website’s content is considered ‘search engine-first,’ Google can lower the rankings of all the content on your site, including high-quality pages.

Why Is Google Doing This? 

Google Search is always working to better connect people to helpful information. Unfortunately, the web is filled with SPAM due to people offering low quality content and information to manipulate their search engine visibility.

Google is a machine with modern day AI based algorithms and E.A.T (which stands for: Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trust) is a very important signal that should be included in your SEO strategy and help Google provide the best information to end users that satisfies their information need.

What Should You Do Next?

At Acronym, we are firm believers and practitioners in always creating content for end users first as opposed to search engines. To ensure your website is prepared for the Helpful Content update, here are a few tips:

  • Monitor your website’s rankings and engagement metrics carefully, and make changes as needed. If you are hit by the ”Helpful Content Update”, Google advises to remove unhelpful content from your site i.e., 404, etc. It may be worth creating fresh new content that is useful and helpful to end users.  If you have a section of your site i.e., a blog or community that has a lot of content, monitor it over the next few weeks to determine if you notice any trends or step declines in rankings, traffic and KPIs.   
  • Work with your SEO lead to make sure your content is high quality and informative and conduct a content audit to make sure your content is written well and satisfies the information need for end users and provides value.

According to Google. focus on providing value to your users with people first content. To ensure you’re creating content that will be successful with our new update follow our long-standing advice and guidelines to create content for people, not for search engines. Answering yes to the questions below means you’re probably on the right track with a people-first approach:

  • Do you have an existing or intended audience for your business or site that would find the content useful if they came directly to you?
  • Does your content clearly demonstrate first-hand expertise and a depth of knowledge (for example, expertise that comes from having used a product or service, or visiting a place)?
  • Does your site have a primary purpose or focus?
  • After reading your content, will someone leave feeling they’ve learned enough about a topic to help achieve their goal?
  • Will someone reading your content leave feeling like they’ve had a satisfying experience?
  • Are you keeping in mind our guidance for core updates and for product reviews?
  • Write for your audience, not for Google. Don’t try to game the system by including keywords or phrases just for the sake of ranking higher. It simply just does not work anymore and could end up getting your site in trouble.

How do you avoid taking a search engine-first approach? If you answer yes to some or all of the questions, this is a warning sign that you should reevaluate how you’re creating content across your site:

  • Is the content primarily to attract people from search engines, rather than made for humans?
  • Are you producing lots of content on different topics in hopes that some of it might perform well in search results?
  • Are you using extensive automation to produce content on many topics?
  • Are you mainly summarizing what others have to say without adding much value?
  • Are you writing about things simply because they seem trending and not because you’d write about them otherwise for your existing audience?
  • Does your content leave readers feeling like they need to search again to get better information from other sources?
  • Are you writing to a particular word count because you’ve heard or read that Google has a preferred word count? (No, we don’t).
  • Did you decide to enter some niche topic area without any real expertise, but instead mainly because you thought you’d get search traffic?
  • Does your content promise to answer a question that has no answer, such as suggesting there’s a release date for a product, movie, or TV show when one isn’t confirmed?
  • Use other marketing channels to promote your content, such as social media, email marketing, and PPC advertising.
  • Be different. Focus on providing fresh content, unique ideas, facts and information that others are not talking about in their content strategy. 

How Long Could It Take If Impacted?

According To Google, sites that are impacted could find the effects to last several months.

“Our classifier for this update runs continuously, allowing it to monitor newly launched sites and existing ones. As it determines that the unhelpful content has not returned in the long-term, the classification will no longer apply.”

Even if you fix the section, since it is a sitewide update, it could take months for your site to recover. If you need assistance with this up date or any other performance marketing campaign, please contact us. Our experts are here to help.

POV by: Winston Burton, SVP, SEO, Acronym.

New AdWords “Conversions for Optimizations” Empowers Reporting and Bid Automation

By Paid Search, SEO, Web Analytics No Comments

Google is rolling out a new Conversions for Optimization setting in AdWords over the next couple of weeks that isolates a conversion action for reporting and bid automation.

With the Conversions for Optimization setting enabled, you’ll now be able to set bid strategies for specific conversion actions.

Google AdWords Conversions for Optimization

Optimizing Google ads is another way of saying you are improving the relevancy of your campaigns. This requires understanding how your ads connect to what your potential customers are searching for and how your messaging is carried through your campaigns—from click to conversion.

With the Conversions for Optimization setting enabled, brands can set bid strategies for specific conversion actions.

For example, if you’re tracking content downloads and sign-ups, you can set up bid strategies to optimize only for the higher value sign-up conversions.

The new reporting columns that come with this change are applicable and can be used with nearly any bid strategy, including Target ROAS and Enhanced CPC.

When the “Optimization” conversion setting is enabled in a campaign, New Conversions Optimization columns show performance for the optimized conversion type, even if you are bidding manually.  Essentially, you can isolate the conversion data for the conversion type that is most important to you in the reporting even without having to use bid strategies.

What Does This Mean For Brands?

Acronym’s, SVP, SEO, Winston Burton, offered his perspective.

“This is great news for paid search practitioners. ​

By default, the Google Ads system will optimize toward any conversion. ​An advertiser will likely have multiple on-site actions that are valuable to the business (product view, add to cart, email signup, sale, etc.). But, each operates at differing values; this leaves the advertiser in a position of trying to manually match different conversion types to ad delivery data, applying estimated values to conversion actions to hack the ROAS bidding system, and overall, not as accurate as they could be. After all, the behavior that leads to an email signup is likely not the same as that which leads to a completed sale.” ​

Now, brands can optimize their bidding strategies based on the desired conversion metric as the “Conversions column” will show the total number of conversions accrued.

If you need assistance with your paid search or SEO campaigns, contact us today. Our experts are here to help.

Ten Important SEO Trends To Leverage Before The Year’s End

By Insights & News, Mobile, SEO No Comments

Staying current with SEO trends is like hitting a moving target while sitting in a roller coaster. From changes in algorithms updates to evolving search behaviors — the goal post is always moving as the tactics to boost your rankings look different from year to year.

With only twenty-five weeks remaining this year, brands should make sure they’re leveraging the most important SEO trends of 2022.

1. User Intent. Understanding the buyer’s journey and how to ensure your content connects at each stage of the funnel is more essential than ever before. At Acronym, we combine data insights with a neuromarketing approach so we take advantage of the emotional triggers behind purchase intent and intersect that with the keywords that feed search algorithms.

2. Content Quality. If your content isn’t valuable, it won’t convert. It’s that simple. Make sure you are creating the right kind of content in the most desired format so it’s seen at the right time for conversion.

3. SERPS. Google’s continued focus on SERPS creates both opportunities and challenges for brands. IT’s important to consider intent when optimizing for SERPS.

4. Visuals. Search engines continue to reward sites with unique images that feel authentic. In fact, SERPS will become more image-focused this year.

5. Automation. Finding the right tools for analysis, research and content creation is becoming increasingly important to improve efficiencies and results.

6. Machine Learning. We are seeing rapid advancements in natural language models and content generation. AI is also driving strategic planning as tools like Acronym’s KO and Synergy help brands to see the full picture of SEO opportunities.

7. Mobile and UX. Mobile-first indexing and exceptional UX will continue to drive the complete journey from consideration to discovery thought engagement and conversion.

8. Sustainability. Google is adding enhancements to incentivize sustainable shopping habits. Brands that meet this need will see early wins.

9. IndexNow. The days of waiting for search engines to crawl websites are over as IndexNow delivers those results immediately.

10. E-A-T Scores. there is no doubt misinformation is creating trust issues online making is more important than ever to ensures E-A-T qualities in your content and link-building.

If you need assistance with your SEO strategies, please contact us today. We are here to help.

Google Parameter Tool Discontinued

By SEO No Comments

Parameter Tool: What Was It? 

For many years Google’s URL Parameter Tool was among the most effective controls available to webmasters and SEO leaders. Launched in 2009 to help Google understand how parameters for dynamically generated URLs related to their canonical roots. The tools served as a way for webmasters and Search marketers to communicate directly to Google on how to treat or ignore various scenarios involving specific URLs or combinations of URL parameters. 

In March 2022 Google announced that the tool will soon be deprecated and today, the tool is no longer accessible via Google Search Console. 

How will this impact webmasters and SEO Leaders?  

According to the announcement “Google became much better at guessing which parameters are useful on a site and which are —plainly put— useless.”  

Nonetheless, it is important to recognize the vast number of websites that relied on the tool to control how certain URls were (or were not) indexed; have lost an efficient and useful positive control mechanism. Unless other steps are taken to ensure correct indexation occurs, these domains are now open to be indexed solely at the discretion of Google bots. 

It is true that in many cases Google does and will correctly determine which URLs are meant to be served and which URLs are meant not be indexed, however there are situations and scenarios that still require human judgement and control. So, what do we do? 

Sweat the Details 

With the Parameter Tool now gone, the only levers remaining to SEO leaders and webmasters are canonical tags, hreflang tags (where applicable), and robots.txt directives. 

Each of these can still be highly effective in signaling to Google which areas of a given site need to be hidden from Google index, which URLs are meant for different countries, and which single URL is a primary version in a set of near identical URLs. So, it’s critical that webmasters and Search marketers take the time to review these facets of their SEO plan to ensure they’re communicating their intent with precision and accuracy. 

If you need assistance with managing your search ranking within Google, please contact us. We’re here to help.

POV By Michael Gleyzerov, Manager SEO 

Trust in Advertising is on the Decline – But Search, Social and Programmatic Still Deliver

By Content Marketing, Programmatic, SEO, Social Media No Comments

It’s no secret that consumer trust in advertising has been steadily declining in recent years. But, it’s not all bad news for brands as reports indicate consumers still trust some channels over others. For example, Nielsen’s Trust in Advertising study found that brand sponsorships are among the most trusted advertising sources among global consumers, yet most marketers don’t readily consider newer ad formats like brand integrations, sponsorships and product placements in their media planning. This is where programmatic strategies can help brands connect with customers by leveraging the built-in trust of these partner integrations.

The report also highlights how important digital channels have become from a marketing perspective, evidenced by significant increases in planned spending across search and social media.

Digital marketing channels are attractive because they drive sales in the current quarter, not the next and deliver real-time conversion metrics. Marketers surveyed by Nielsen believe search and social media are the most effective for their businesses.

Meanwhile, The Edelman Trust Barometer has shown that both trust and reputation are correlated with actual and intent to purchase, but that trust is in many ways the more powerful factor. For example, 61% of people globally say that a good reputation may get them to try a product; but unless they come to trust the company behind the product, they will soon stop buying it regardless of its reputation.

So, how can a brand improve its reputation and create the kinds of connections that convert?

According to Edelman, consumers most want Diversity, Authenticity, Transparency, Social Responsibility, Data Security, Valued Opinion and Purpose from brands.

Marketers can demonstrate these brand attributes through their message as well as the select channels and media outlets in which they place their programmatic ads. This can be amplified by additional content marketing through social media and search.

If you’d like assistance with your content strategy and how to best select the right channels in social, search and programmatic, give us a call. We are here to help.

Cultural & Content Considerations for Global SEO

By SEO No Comments

More than 90% of business leads begin in a search engine and at least twelve languages utilizing localized dialects and cultural touchstones are required to connect with 80% of the Internet. 

However, executives’ knowledge of global SEO is usually antiquated with brands often doing little more than a quick website translation in their attempts to create global connections.

In fact, most enterprise brands try to apply the same keywords and search behaviors across all audience outreaches. But it’s imperative to understand a foreign audience’s specific search behaviors beyond a simple translation to create a sustainable, data-driven technique that drives global lead generation.

Search behavior is not the same all over the world. Your customers search differently based on where they live and their culture, and this can have a significant effect on a brand’s SEO efforts.

The algorithms that power search engines are constantly updated based on these changes behaviors. Because of this, it’s important to understand how to optimize your site(s) for different regions and cultures.

Understanding the influence of cultural differences on search behavior is critical for a brand’s global marketing and SEO success. These differences can lead to vastly differing attitudes that will influence:

  • how people search online
  • what they look for in a website
  • the content they are more likely to share or endorse with others (such as reviews)
  • and their expectations of which platforms provide trustworthy information.

Brands should adapt their marketing strategies accordingly. Here are just a few of the steps to consider when developing your global SEO programs.

  1. Assess your most profitable foreign markets and make sure you understand where you most converting traffic originates.
  2. Develop keyword research for each foreign market and consider local language and cultural differences/meanings.
  3. Be sure to consider the right search engine for each market. It’s easy to think Google will be the best channel for your SEO campaigns. But consider that in Russia, Yandex is far more valuable. In Japan, Yahoo! Japan supersedes Google and in China, you will want to leverage Baidu. Be sure you examine the best engine for each region you target as this can change based on a very small geography.
  4. Consider local/regional legislation and rules regarding your website and its content. This is especially important when it comes to privacy laws.
  5. Make sure you fully understand the right URL structure for each region as these vary, even within countries.
  6. Localize the site pages in the target language. We recommend you utilize native speakers as a basic translation doesn’t always include “slang” or other commonly used phrases. This is especially important when it comes to your specific products as different groups may use different terms to describe your products. Be sure to consider Hreflang and internal linking structures as well.
  7. Remember to utilize currency differences as well.

Defining and utilizing a minimum set of criteria or best practices to follow is crucial to guarantee the user experience is matched to each locale and language you wish to target. Different nuances between locales or languages can slow down a process that should be streamlined as best as possible.

If you need assistance with your global SEO strategy, please give us a call. Remember, it takes 12 different languages to reach 80% of the internet. Here at Acronym, our teams currently speak 14 different languages fluently. Don’t miss the opportunity to connect with your customers wherever they are.  

AI to Empower SEO in 2022

By Insights & News, Machine Learning, SEO No Comments

Artificial Intelligence is set to transform the market and deliver increased relevance and visibility in SEO in the coming year.

The use of AI in SEO increases not only the effectiveness, but also the efficiency of the resources used. Machine learning tools quickly analyze the relationships between sites, content pages, and search engine rankings, delivering fast, actionable, and even automated tactics to help brands out-optimize the competition.

Even complex strategic insights that drive personalized content development, improved conversion and usability optimization can be handled by AI both faster and more reliably than traditional methods. However,

Through technical optimization, AI in SEO will increasingly dominate the market at breakneck speed in 2022. Based on machine learning processes, no optimization opportunity will go undetected. Gaps in SEO can be quickly addressed with specific articles and entire websites will be given greater relevance in search engines thanks to tools like Acronym’s AI-driven KO and Synergy, both of which align paid and organic campaigns to assess and overlap/efficiencies. Acronym’s use of AI in SEO will help brands validate and integrate actionable data for a holistic approach to all of Search.

Acronym utilizes AI in our patented/proprietary tools to help brands:

  • Uncover/Promote important (low ranking) SEO Keywords​
  • Uncover/Reduce paid bids on KW with high SEO visibility
  • Reduce/Optimize overall campaign Cost ​
  • Easily visualize (and reduce) brand cannibalization​
  • Know what customers consider ”quality content”
  • Optimize coverage specific to competitive rank

A primary benefit of using AI in SEO is efficiency and speed.

The increase in efficiency can even be quantified in monetary terms. Content creators can work faster and more efficiently with the support of AI in SEO to help them better understand the types of content and topics most desired by a target audience. Machine learning or deep learning is not only helpful in strategic planning  but also in improving content over time. Currently, relevant content is generally only revised after publication when reports show that the content is rising or falling in search rankings. AI supports the ongoing monitoring and (human assisted) maintenance of content and ensures a largely constant high relevance for search engines.

Meanwhile, Google’s AI algorithm RankBrain is expected to become one of the most important factors in ranking on Google’s SERPs as click-through rate and time spent on a page will play key factors when RankBrain prioritizes content.

How can you get a leg up on the competition?

Refresh Content: It’s easy to create content and then forget about it once it’s published. Instead of allowing stale content to feed into algorithms, remove what’s no longer relevant and add what’s new. While the age of the page can aid in its search ranking, don’t risk allowing that published date to label your piece as irrelevant. Update published dates by re-sharing older – but still useful content. The visit history will still carry over and help your content in ranking, even though it appears to be new on the surface.

Automate your SEO Processes: Automation makes life easier so invest in software or partners like Acronym to help automate repetitive tasks like tracking your position, monitoring brand mentions, analyzing keyword intent and more.

Long-Form Content Dominates: In the past, experts have insisted limiting written content to around 800 words. But, in 2022, where time spent on a page impacts ranking, longer-form content from 2,000 – 3,000 words or longer-form videos will help you secure that top rank position.

When it comes to videos, you will want to ensure you offer transcriptions. This allows bots to utilize the additional text to help you rank for more searches.   

Implementing AI into your SEO strategy will play a large part in your business staying competitive. If you’d like to learn more about how AI in SEO can help you score more wins in 2022, please contact us today.

Hotel Brands Need an SEO Concierge To Drive Preference

By Insights & News, SEO No Comments

The concierge is one of the most important roles in a service-oriented hotel or resort. Guests rely on the concierge to provide local recommendations for restaurants, activities, nightlife, etc. Meanwhile, a hotel brand is designed to create a guest culture that attracts a certain type of guest. The concierge needs to have a deep understanding of this culture to connect with a guest personally and provide an experience that will enhance their stay.

Hotel Brands understand the importance of the concierge and how they can connect with guests, but they often fail to take that learning and apply it to the digital experience, especially on their own websites.

Most hotel websites are predominantly focused on driving bookings and rightfully so; they need to fill their beds and ensure all their marketing dollars are driving revenue. This design strategy also assumes the Traveler is ready to book, an assumption that is predominantly true for Brand queries but not necessarily valuable Generic phrases.

The pages that are designed to drive bookings are also not what search engines want to showcase for generic phrases. This predicament requires hotel Brands to design website content that meets the intent of the Traveler and satisfies the Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness (E-A-T) that Google requires to showcase a website.

This leads to an SEO Content Strategy for Travel Brands that is reminiscent of the valued concierge, the SEO Brand Concierge if you will. Before a Traveler gets to a hotel website, there are many considerations derived from the experience they want to have, to the destination that appeals to them as well as the type of hotel they might want to stay at.

These Travelers will spend time researching all aspects of their vacation, sometimes even months in advance. 91% of travelers turn to search engines when looking for a place to stay with the majority (81%) preferring to use Google as their most common source of travel inspiration. Hotel Brands can’t rely on Travel Websites, Social Media and OTAs to be their Brand Concierge as they wouldn’t rely on just anyone to be the concierge in their hotel.

The role of the SEO Brand Concierge strategy is to connect with Travelers throughout the many touchpoints prior to them booking a room. The content strategy requires a deep understanding of the guest profile and there usually isn’t just one, there are generational guest segments such as Millennials and Boomers as well as interest-based segments such as Adventure and Foodie Travelers. Each of these segments requires content that speaks to these Travelers and this content needs to be placed above the specific hotel destination as well as within. Hotel Brand websites need to connect with these important guest segments through content that Google deems worthy of featuring to Travelers.

For a Hotel Brand website to rank well for “Foodie Destinations” or “Dining Experiences Around the World” there needs to be content that curates the types of experiences that exemplifies the purpose of a concierge. These experiences can’t just be about what the Hotel Brand offers, how would you rate your experience with a concierge if they just recommended the restaurant in the lobby? This requires a re-thinking of Hotel Brand websites and the role that they play in connecting with Travelers.

An SEO Brand Concierge carefully designs content that will ultimately lead to a Traveler placing a booking at one of the many destinations a Hotel Brand offers. The strategy is reminiscent of a chess match, with carefully chosen content that leads down a path to connecting with the right Travelers while helping them understand that this is the Brand for them. Identifying the Personas or Traveler segments that a Hotel Brand is seeking is the first step, the strategy needs to be carefully designed to connect with the particular segment at each stage of the journey requiring a mapping of that journey and the types of queries and content that need to be developed. This type of strategy requires an understanding of search, the connections between topics and the intent stages of the queries that are made throughout the Traveler journey, sounds like a job for an SEO Brand Concierge.

If you’d like assistance creating an SEO Concierge for your hospitality brand, please contact us today.

POV by By Brian Ratzker, Executive Director, SEO, Acronym