Tag Archives: Search Engine Rankings

Google Ranking Factors – Get Onboard To Do What You Can Do

AI, Rankbrain, BERT, Content Creation, and others are all parts of the list of Google Algorithms that determine the placement of websites in search.  Many of these algorithms are so complex that little or nothing can be done to directly optimize for the algorithm.  There are, however, a few general tactics that can be done to optimize your site for Google search.  I have listed and explained a few of these in this post.  I know, sounds boring, but the results you will achieve from understanding and following these guidelines will likely be worth it.

Unique Content And Search Intent

It is not enough anymore to create unique content around a keyword that you wish to rank in search.  You must also analyze the “intent” of the search query for that keyword.  Does someone searching for “Best SEO Company” want a sales statement about how your firm is the best, or are they looking for case studies, examples of success, positive customer reviews and at least a hint at what tactics are used to gain placement for your clients?   I think that the latter outline is what most searching for that term have in mind, and that is the information that one should provide.

There are four types of search queries according to Google:

  1. Informational queries (e.g., how do you do SEO?)
  2. Navigational queries (e.g., SEO firm near me)
  3. Comparison queries (e.g., SEO v. Paid Ads)
  4. Commercial queries (e.g., SEO Pricing)

Page Content and Code

The best indicator of what needs to be on your page to move up in rankings is to review what Google has on the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) for your search terms.  If there are images in the search results, then images with optimized alt tags are important.  Featured Snippets on the SERP?  Be sure to use the proper schema data to highlight your content.  If you are in local search, your Google My Business listing is critical.  Optimize with posts, photos and correct NAP (name, address, phone number) info.

Increase Page Speed

Page speed is an important factor of the User Experience (UX) of your site.  It is also a ranking factor.  You may assess your load speed by using Google’s Pagespeed Insights for load speed and Google Search Console to identify mobile and desktop usage issues and 404s (broken links) and other site structure issues.  Google is using mobile first indexing almost universally now, so page load speed and UX are key to gaining rankings.

E-A-T factors

E-A-T stands for expertise, authority, and trustworthiness. It is difficult to say if optimizing this is going to improve rankings, but it should improve conversion knowing that the person or people behind the ideas being presented in the website are experts in their field.  Be sure that you have contact info on your site, and that you have a profile page explaining who you are and outlining your experience and training. 

Backlinks That Help You Find Information

The most important things about backlinks (links to your site from other sites) is that you want them to be from a variety of sites and that they be links that a human being would actually follow.  Ahrefs.com and SEM Rush both have link building tools that will help to identify sites that link to competitors or have information relevant to your site.


There are so many things in SEO that are outside of our control   The factors that we can influence are vulnerable to constant change.  It is important to focus on strategies that are able to be improved, and trust that creating a website that has unique, relevant and valuable content that is presented in a fashion that allows a user to gain the answers to the questions they ask (keyword searches) will be valued not only by those who visit, but by Google Algorithms.  The above list represents a few improvements that can be made to help a site to rank in SERP.  

What’s New for October 31, 2013 – Bing Optimization, Instagram Ads & Mozilla Lightbeam

Do You Optimize for Bing?

All SEO professionals and clients know that Google is the king of organic search. Searchmetrics recently released a report detailing the Bing Ranking Factors for Bing and it includes a Rank Correlation study for Bing to evaluate the factors that differentiate better-positioned websites from those with lesser rankings.

Searchmetrics studied over 10,000 keyword streams and 300,000 websites appearing in the top 30 search results and were able to identify 5 factors that seemed to heavily influence rankings. The 5 factors are listed here:

  • Quality content is a factor. The correlation on Bing was that sites with more text on them, in general, had better rankings. Bing tended not to rank pages with lots of pictures, while Google was the opposite.
  • Social signals help rankings, and Google+ “plus ones” had a significant rankings correlation, as did Tweets and Facebook Comments.
  • Known brands tend to have higher rankings and there are more Exact Match Domains (EMDs) ranking in the top ten search result listings, on average, at Bing.
  • Link numbers are significant. Approximately 53 percent of the backlinks of websites ranked among the top 30 results on Bing contained keywords in the anchor text. This is about 10% higher than Google.
  • Surprisingly, SEO elements such as H1 headings, site speed, and keyword-rich meta descriptions had a low correlation to high rankings. Positive on-page factors were present in nearly every page appearing in the top 30 search results at Bing, making good on-page SEO the prerequisite to obtaining good rankings.

Bing Search Rankings

Instagram Ads To Start This Week

A very small, select group of advertisers will begin introducing high quality brand-oriented ads that include video and imagery, into the Instagram news feed. The Instagram advertisers include Adidas, Levi’s, PayPal, Macy’s, Starwood Hotels and others, and were chosen because they have high-quality ads. The ads are designed to have a high level of artistic value and be more brand-centric than direct response in nature. Instagram’s take on the new ads is as follows:

“Our aim is to make any advertisements you see feel as natural to Instagram as the photos and videos many of you already enjoy from your favorite brands. After all, our team doesn’t just build Instagram, we use it each and every day. We want these ads to be enjoyable and creative in much the same way you see engaging, high-quality ads when you flip through your favorite magazine.”

The ads will have the ability to be targeted in nature, although the quality of the “rifle shot” online advertising approach remains to be seen.

Instagram Ads

Mozilla Lightbeam Helps You Find Out Who Is Watching You on the Internet

Mozilla, the open-source software company that makes the Firefox browser, wants to make it a bit easier for you to visualize what sites and third-party site services might be tracking or watching your Internet activity. The new add-on for your Firefox browser called Lightbeam lets you know who is watching you online.

Lightbeam offers a very clear toggle that allows you to turn which tracking you contribute to the service on and off. Download the add-on and try it.

Mozilla Lightbeam

Bottom Line: Privacy increases, new ad campaigns that promise to be targeted on social media… does anyone else see the potential new trend here? Social Media sites have targeted information, while search engines continue to fight privacy initiatives to continue to track data. If your business has a significant online marketing platform, these trends bear watching.

Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, a Santa Rosa, California based SEO, Website Design, and Online Marketing Firm.

What’s New – Google’s Mobile Site Requirements & Ways That Social Media Can Help Your SEO Efforts

Two Thirds of Fortune 100 Companies Do Not Comply With Google’s New Mobile Site Search Engine Rankings:

Compliance with Google’s new mobile site requirements will soon affect your SEO efforts and search engine rankings. A recent study by Pure Oxygen Labs, using proprietary mobile diagnostic tools, evaluated the web sites of the Fortune 100 companies against Google’s best-practice criteria. The goal of the assessment was to determine: 1.) whether a site’s desktop pages redirected smartphone users to a mobile-friendly site, 2.) how mobile redirects are configured, and 3.) whether or not website pages employ responsive design formatting.

Of the 100 websites evaluated, the report found that:

  • 45 percent serve a dedicated mobile site to smartphone searchers, but NONE of the mobile sites comply with Google’s mobile configuration requirements.
  • Only 11 percent employ responsive design techniques.
  • Only 56 percent provide mobile-formatted website content to smartphone searchers.

Once Google’s new mobile guidelines are rolled out – probably in the Fall of this year – most of these sites will face declining rankings due to non-compliance with Google Mobile Guidelines.

Search Engine Rankings

Will Social Media Really Help my Search Engine Rankings?

There are three very distinct ways that social media can help with your SEO efforts.

1. One of Google’s ranking factors takes “freshness” of a topic into consideration. Preliminary studies have shown that social sharing can trigger this ranking factor and give you a boost, temporarily, in the rankings.

2. Internet users are visual beings. Many social media sites such as Facebook and Pinterest give you an easy way to share large visual images and infographics.  If you embed links into images that are shared from social sites to blogs or other websites, you can gain valuable, natural back links.

3. Social media sites have been proven to increase the speed at which new pages on your website are indexed.

Social Media is a hot trend, but it is only one determinant of Search Engine Rankings.  Social Media can help to spread that unique, valuable content that everyone is striving to create to boost rankings.

Google Surveys
Google has released its Google Consumer Survey product.  This new product allows webmasters to post customer satisfaction surveys on their websites and collect responses (by inserting a snippet of code) from their website visitors. The pricing is favorable compared to other options that currently exist for surveys. The first 500 responses are free (limited to four questions) and will run until the site has received 500 survey replies.  The count starts over again each month, allowing historical tracking of user’s satisfaction.  Websites can also customize their questions for $0.01 per response or $5.00 for 500 responses.

Bottom Line: Mobile compliance will soon not only contribute to a higher bounce rate on your site, but will cause your rankings to decline.  Tracking user satisfaction using a free survey tool is a great way to let your site users help you to develop that compelling and unique content that every webmaster is seeking in the post-Panda SEO world.  Social Media is one vehicle to spread the word and create link structure and rankings for your site.  More tools will be required to continue to provide a positive user experience on your website. With these challenges comes the opportunity to rise above your online competition.

Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, A Santa Rosa, California based SEO, Website Development and Online Marketing Firm.

Google’s Disavow Link Tool is Live!

Google finally launched their disavow link tool this week. This tool allows webmasters to eliminate spam links from consideration by Google algorithms when determining search positioning. To review, spam links are links that are obviously either created because a webmaster bought them or are from obscure directories or other sources unrelated to the content of the website being linked to and are for the purpose of affecting search engine rankings and little else. Short version: links that a human being would not use or click on. Bing has had a similar tool for a number of months.

Google’s Matt Cutts, in announcing the launch of the tool, has been clear that it should be used carefully. A specific example he cited was internal links, where use of the tool can be harmful to search engine rankings. If used carefully, this should be an expedient way to get rid of links that are causing Google’s “algorithmic actions”, otherwise known as ranking penalties, to go away.

The disavow link tool is currently not linked to Webmaster Tools, so you can access it through the hyperlink provided. If the directions are carefully followed, you should be able to effectively erase spam links from consideration by Google bots.

Bottom Line: The temptation to blame paid links or links that are interpreted by Google to be spam links should be avoided. Assignment of blame will not restore lost search engine rankings and positions or organic traffic. When you use the disavow link tool and the links have been disavowed, be patient to see results, as the bots will have to detect the information and apply the new algorithm before rankings will change. Also, do not undervalue the use of the Bing link disavow tool, as rankings for both Bing and Yahoo will be affected by correcting these link structures. Good SEO is built on hard work, and fixing SEO is even harder work, but both Bing and Google have created tools that will make this process at least a little less labor intensive.

Eric Van Cleave is a Partner in Zenergy Works, A Santa Rosa, California based SEO and Website Development Firm.

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