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
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.
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.
- Assess your most profitable foreign markets and make sure you understand where you most converting traffic originates.
- Develop keyword research for each foreign market and consider local language and cultural differences/meanings.
- 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.
- Consider local/regional legislation and rules regarding your website and its content. This is especially important when it comes to privacy laws.
- Make sure you fully understand the right URL structure for each region as these vary, even within countries.
- 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.
- 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.
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.
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
Benjamin Franklin once said, “by failing to plan, you are planning to fail.”
We believe that to be a self-evident truth. After all, effective planning is the foundation of success. So, in honor of #NationalPlannerDay, some of Acronym’s group leaders are sharing their top three tips for effective planning across your SEO, paid media and social media programs.
3 STEPS FOR SEO SUCCESS – Winston Burton, SVP, SEO
1. Structured Data
Marking up your content and having structured data is the best way for Google to find that content fast. Structured data gives your content to Search Engines in a way they can understand it in real time, as opposed to waiting and hoping that the bots find your content.
This saves both bandwidth and time. It is also important to understand Search Engines are playing a ‘long game’ with structured data as it enables a far more efficient way to effectively answer a search query with a personalized and factual set of results. This is called ‘data retrieval’ versus the traditional and time-consuming exercise of ‘information retrieval’.
2. Voice Search and Task Completions
Search will transcend mediums yet again in the very near future. Like the meteoric trajectory we saw with the mobile device type revolution, where the preference swapped from desktop to mobile driven search, text-based search will soon be surpassed by Voice Driven Search with more results sets being of the audible variety.
Being prepared for this future of Voice means creating resourceful dynamic experiences that not only solve for the micro-moment but also personify your brand to the customer, creating lasting affinities into the next frontier of Digital.
Critical steps to take now include creating Actions for the Google Assistant and Skills for Amazon’s Alexa. Voice assistants represent a powerful application of Voice search and represent one of the leading behavioral influencing sources for quickly moving consumers off text search and into Voice. Soon Voice assistants will be able to complete tasks and you should be ready for that moment.
3. Creating Content for 5G
Be prepared for 5G. 5G will speed up and change the content experience allowing new and innovative ways to connect with customers.
Hyper-personalized content delivery, high-bandwidth digital experiences, faster websites will ensure the CX is exceptional. It’s also predicted that the usage of ad blockers will go down, allowing advertisers to serve ads effectively.
Digital will evolve from 2D to 3D, and interactive and live content will become the norm.
3 STEPS FOR PAID MEDIA – Gregg Manias, SVP, Performance Media
1. Establish Parameters for the Plan
Begin by defining the overall objective you want to achieve and the specific conversion goals to demonstrate success. You also want to determine the timing of the campaign and consider the opportunities and challenges inherent in that timing. Also, plan for the frequency of the message within that timing.
Next, you need to understand who the target audience is and examine their online behaviors and media preferences.
Finally, determine your overall budget and KPIs as this will drive the spend allocation and metrics for success.
2. Analysis Historical Performance & Research Landscape
After defining the parameters, you should review past media performance at every possible level to understand how it has traditionally performed. When you’re running ads online, you have to know what you’re spending your money on, and which ads are delivering the results you need.
This will help determine what needs to be changed to achieve the new goals based on where you’ve seen success in the past.
From there, you want to research the category landscape, target audiences, and all data and insights available to you.
3. Identify Proper Media Mix Tied to Parameters
After taking the learnings from historical plans and research, you want to create an integrated media plan that ties back to all the parameters.
It’s important not to throw money at every shiny new channel. Remember that each media channel you use might obtain a single objective from the parameter.
For example, YouTube might be used to capture a younger audience in the awareness stage, while Bing might be used to capture demand from an older demographic who use a desktop device.
So, be sure you know what each channel offers in terms of the target audience and types of engagements within each media opportunity.
3 STEPS FOR SOCIAL MEDIA SUCCESS – Mary Sutter, Director, Social Media
1. Use Social Listening to Stay Relevant With Social Trends
By listening to your target audience online and paying attention to the topics that most interest them, you can deliver organic content that meets their needs.
It can be very easy to believe you already know what your target audience wants from your brand(s). But, social media audiences, conversations and opportunities change constantly. So, listening to your target audience and even to your competitors can give you an edge in your content planning.
There are a number of terrific tools that enable you to follow the topics, issues, concerns and trends that matter to your target audience. We recommend Sprout Social as a terrific Social Listening and planning tool.
2. Utilize a Social Media Calendar to Stay Organized, But Be Flexible for Timely Posts
We all know content calendars are a useful way ensure you consistently deliver compelling content that addresses all key messages and product positions.
But, it’s also important to allow for spontaneous content that leverages memorable moments in time and/or allows you to include your brand in trending conversations.
There is something amazing about ‘spontaneity’, especially on social media.
People love it because it’s authentic. It’s not produced. It’s real. It just comes out of the moment. Of course, you want to ensure your in-the-moment content remains “on-brand.” Spontaneity in social media works when it’s still relevant to your audience. Don’t just jump on any bandwagon. Be selective as you mix spontaneity with planned content.
3. Track & Analyze Your Content To Determine What Works & What Doesn’t.
Too often, brands take a set-it-and-forget-it approach to social media. But, this could result in putting time and resources behind content that doesn’t deliver engagement or click-through.
It’s imperative you review the social media analytics (tied to your specific KPIs) so you focus on the content types that truly connect with your customers.
If you would like assistance with your planning process in Search, Paid Media, Paid and Organic Social Media or Business Analytics, please contact us today. In the meantime, Happy #NationalPlannerDay!
Many executives have now heard that SEO is one of the most important digital marketing strategies. After all, according to a Google study, over 90% of business leads start in search engines.
However, executives’ knowledge of the discipline of SEO is usually very antiquated and negative. Which ultimately leads to the application of the usual “digital tactics”, which are closely related to time-honored classic marketing measures, such as paid ad campaigns in search engines or in social media. Compared to SEO, however, the hoped-for successes are usually of a manageable nature.
In doing so, executives miss the fact that SEO is a sustainable, data-driven technique that can drive up to 60% traffic to websites in many cases, as well as being a lead generation engine.
From the experts’ perspective, it therefore seems more than necessary that executives take the time to learn about SEO and recognize what this discipline is today and what it can do for their company.
After all, the benefits of continuous SEO work are clear. SEO is the basis of all online marketing activities and offers seven advantages that should be known:
1. SEO improves the ranking and visibility of websites.
Google has already received 390 billion searches this year (and counting). If you want your site to be found by your target customers, a strategic search engine optimization strategy is the first and most necessary step to take.
2. SEO provides lasting and sustainable free traffic to websites.
Prioritizing SEO gives you the power to do what you can to make sure your business appears first during those searches. And, because the right SEO strategy keeps your website’s traffic active, it’s imperative to have the right partners who can help you keep up with Google Algorithm changes so you’ll stay agile and can make key adjustments when they’re needed.
3. SEO generates leads and sells products and services.
Consider that of the billions of searches that happen on any given day, 15% of daily searches are new to Google. In fact, consumers now conduct 70% of their purchasing research online before they ever get into a sales conversation. Ranking well in search engines enables your buyers to easily research on their own while spending time learning about your on your terms.
4. SEO works on a data-based and measurable basis.
There are hundreds of SEO metrics you can track. In fact, Google uses over 200 ranking factors in its algorithm. By establishing which metrics are most critical for your business, you can track those KPIs in real-time and adjust your strategy accordingly.
5. SEO changes the perspective and reveals the intentions of potential customers.
The right SEO strategy, analytics and reporting can help you better understand why someone conducts a search that brings them to your page. It could be to find an answer to a specific question they have or advice on how to achieve a desired goal, otherwise known as informational intent. Maybe the person wants to find a place to go, known as navigational intent or they are driven by transactional intent – the desire to buy a product they want. Either way, intent matters. Understanding the “why” behind your customers’ search behaviors helps you to deliver the best search experience.
6. SEO can create synergies and minimize budget waste.
Because SEO delivers real-time analytics, you can easily and quickly adjust budgets to ensure you leverage the most successful strategies to avoid wasteful spending. Similarly, by measuring your customers’ search behaviors, you can align all of your online marketing and content to deliver even stronger multi-channel results.
7. SEO brings clarity about the competition and faces competitors proactively.
Running regular competitive analyses in SEO can help you examine ranking signals on the macro and micro levels that can help you uncover and capture the competitive niches that improve your ranking and ensure your content appears on all the right channels. The best way to beat the competition is to understand them.
POV by Ulrich Franke, Managing Director EMEA
Google’s mission is to provide its users with information that best satisfies their information needs. Thus, one of the most important signals for Google is whether or not the end user has a positive experience in their search journey. If your site’s content satisfies the information need and provides a good page experience for the user, your website will be rewarded with better rankings.
In recent months, Google announced the Page Experience’s full role in search rankings will roll out by the end of August 2021 with an update to their search ranking algorithm. This update impacts how Google evaluates the ‘page experience’ of websites, including visual indicators in search results to highlight sites that have a great page experience. This means Search marketers have a window of about one month to perform key optimizations to their websites and ensure we’re providing the best user experience to searchers.
What is Page Experience?
Google uses a set of signals to detect whether users are likely to have a positive site and content browsing experience. These signals consist of how quickly a page loads (page speed) to give users what they want in the moment; whether or not the page renders properly on mobile devices; and if the site has secure encryption and does not pose a security threat; and if the site has any disruptive pop-ups or interstitials. All of these fall under what Google calls Page Experience signals. Within these signals, Google is introducing a new set of metrics related to page speed that are called Core Web Vitals. These metrics look at load times for the main content elements on a page, load times before a page is ready for user interaction (i.e., clicks, scrolling), and the extent to which content elements shift positionally on a page as it loads and renders. You may reference the diagram below that illustrates the Page Experience signals.
What Does This Mean?
Although page speed has always been a key factor for SEO marketers, the new Core Web Vitals provides additional and clear metrics for how we should optimize page load times.
Additionally, the introduction of a visual indicator in search results will notify users that certain pages have been determined by Google to offer a positive page experience.
Google is no stranger to providing users with such icons, with previous examples including AMP icons, PageRank, mobile-friendly labels, and more. Nothing has been detailed yet on what this visual indicator will look like, but there is some testing going on and we expect to see the label to be rolled out with the updates. The new label is likely to be interpreted by users as a “seal of approval” by Google and therefore its presence or absence can have a substantive impact on clickthrough rates on search results.
Brands can prepare for the upcoming updates by prioritizing efforts to improve page speed for their web presence. This includes identifying pages with longer load times (optimizing the file weights of images and animation and removing unnecessary code from pages. The Core Web Vitals report in Google Search Console is also an excellent place to start understanding how your site is performing in these areas.
If you’d like an audit of your website in preparation for these new metrics, please contact us. We’re happy to help.
POV from Winston Burton, SVP, SEO, Acronym.