For anyone who is involved in online marketing, getting on the first page of Google is a complex task. Actually, there is no any secret formula that can bump your website up to the first positions in Google SERPs over night. The search engine updates its algorithms on a regular basis, trying to provide its users with the best results for their queries. Nevertheless, instead of struggling with Google, you can cooperate and collaborate with it.
This time, Ann Smarty @seosmarty, Brand Manager of Internet Marketing Ninjas and Founder of MyBlogU, joined us to discuss what online marketers can do to create websites that will appear at the top of SERPs. If you missed our last SEMrush Chat, you can read the recap below, in which we summarize valuable tips from Ann and our other chat participants.
From the very beginning many of the chat participants named the Knowledge Graph, which Google uses to enhance its search results. Search Engine Land thoroughly explains this complex system. Some users suggested that the contents of the first page depends on several factors.
Obviously, a user can find somewhat different elements on the page, whether he or she is searching for online shops, specific services, information resources, or other things. Besides, as Patrick Stox @patrickstox pointed out, these elements can depend even on the device that people use: “Depends on the SERP and device. Usually some organic and paid, but could be Knowledge Graphs, answer boxes, local, AMPs, etc.”
Nevertheless, whatever users search for, they are likely to see paid ads at the top of the page. Top ads are more eye-catching than ads in other positions and often include some additional ad elements, such as website links and call or location extensions.
And some online specialists assume that organic results on SERPs have started to lose its importance, so website owners should try to get into Google’s first page:
As for the local pack, Olga Andrienko @OlgaSEMrush shared a whole list of local features:
A serious advantage of a Knowledge Graph is that when you search for a specific place, it can provide you with practically everything you want to discover: a location, main photo, map and even ratings.
Ann also reminded us that Google also likes to experiment and named the most recent experiments: Google Carousel, Twitter search results, Quick Answer boxes, and ‘People Also Ask’ boxes.
As we can clearly see, Google evolves, and its first page also undergoes changes. If you’re a website owner, you should carefully track all these alterations, analyze them, and change your online strategies according to Google’s modifications.
Many of our Chat participants have mentioned Google Answer Boxes. But how can you get your website to appear in them?
In recent years Google made several upgrades to its Answer Box. As a result, some SEOs saw serious challenges in these updates, while others found new opportunities. We asked our guests to share their tips on how to optimize for Answer Boxes.
Earlier, we figured out that Knowledge Graphs and Answer Boxes appear if a user types in a question. Obviously, you can try to optimize your online content for these type of queries in order to make your website show up in there. Ann also shared her educated theories on Duct Tape Marketing.
Ryan Johnson shared a brilliant article by Andy Crestodina that we practically know by heart. In the article Andy described the most important and recent trends in search engine marketing.
It may be an obvious statement, but it’s also an inevitable one. Patrick Stox @patrickstox recommends that you fill your website with informative content: “Usually informational pages. Answer the question asked to show.” Carefully craft your articles and other forms of content. I will say the following on behalf of many web marketers: Don’t publish for the sake of publishing!
In-depth how-tos can be a great way of providing your audience with informative and helpful texts. Some marketers use them on a regular basis, posting practical how-tos each week, month or whenever appropriate.
Also, we just can’t help but share these incredibly kind words from Ann:
Let’s sum up what we have so far!
A5a: Structured data, for me, improves traffic, user behavior, and conversions better than it improves rankings. #semrushchat
— Jacques Bouchard (@jacquesbouchard) March 30, 2016
So, what Schema can you implement to get all the benefits we’re talking about?
Well, it’s not a question to discuss – NAP info is definitely necessary for any kind of business, and it provides benefits in both desktop and mobile search. Read more from Google’s Developer page about how to provide local business information.
Also, a lot of participants pointed out that rich snippets for products will also have a great impact on your CTR and, as a result, will improve your rankings. Here is another article from Google’s Developer page: Enabling Rich Snippets for Products.
As we’ve said already, Schema itself won’t improve your rankings, “but it can improve your CTR, because it offers a trust factor,” as Matthew Young @MatthewAYoung points out. And review/rating reach snippets implementation will help you earn some trust points, and even more, it “also helps push/promote for more reviews, more user generated content - higher rankings,” explains Jesse Teske @JesseTeske.
Going a little bit off-topic – while working on rich snippets, keep in mind these two great pieces of advice from our participants. The first one:
And the second one: “Don’t forget to test your structured data.” - Matthew Young @MatthewAYoung.
If you are ready to start right away, check out this plugin recommended by Ann Smarty (it’s free!): All-In-One Schema.org Rich Snippets.
Competition for mobile SERP is bloody tough! As Ann Smarty @seosmarty pointed outs: “In mobile, the problems and the solutions are the same as in desktop search, only worse!”
So, what should we start with? First of all, let’s cover the basics. Here is a small checklist from ThinkSEM:
— ThinkSEM (@ThinkSEM) March 30, 2016
Get closer to your users; remember the specifics of mobile usage and optimize for them. As Dan O Brien @DanBlueChief says, “focusing on location is crucial; the only time I use mobile search is when I'm going somewhere.”
A5 If you are local business, make sure you show up in both Google and Apple (powered by Yelp) maps as well as Bing #semrushchat
— Ann Smarty (@seosmarty) March 30, 2016
Also, remember that the mobile experience is becoming more and more about voice search. “Many people search by voice using phones, so optimizing for longer queries is a good idea too,” says Ann Smarty @seosmarty.
A5. Update regularly - show your visitors and search engines that you are alive and kicking ass at what you do #semrushchat
— Emma P (@Emma_SEO) March 30, 2016
Now let’s talk about content. Propecta @propecta shared a link to a Marketingland.com article during the chat, which states that according to the latest news, “Google will be increasing its mobile friendly ranking factor in the upcoming months, but stresses that high quality content can and will rank even when it is not mobile friendly”: Google to Boost the Mobile-friendly Ranking Factor in May 2016."
Well, it’s seems like search is always about content – it’s still king, and things probably (and hopefully) won’t change any soon, so always keep content in mind.
Speaking of other Google updates and news…
There are still a lot of questions about AMPs, and they’re definitely the future, but one thing we can state for sure – if your website’s main goal (or one of them) is to provide your audience with fresh, useful news and analytics, AMP are worth a try.
And once again – a piece of advice that is relevant for almost every marketing and SEO activity – research the field you’re working in; take a look at your competitors, their weaknesses and strengths.
Competition can be tough, and it can depend on the industry you’re working in, seasonal trends, the particularities of the local market, etc., but there is always a way to overcome these struggles.
First of all, don’t put all your eggs in one basket. Diversify traffic sources and never rely only on one. So, what traffic sources can you try? The first answer that comes to mind is advertising.
And yet, when we talk about advertising, we don’t just mean PPC. Go for social media too - “Facebook Ads are getting better ROIs and cheaper CPCs anyway,” says Vincent Tobiaz @vincenttobiaz . But, of course, when speaking of social media, it would be unfair to mention it only in the context of ads.
Social media will also help you not only to spread the word about your company, but to build a community. “Building your own community (blog subscribers, email lists, SM following, etc.) works for almost any niche,” explains Ann Smarty @seosmarty.
Concentrate your efforts on link building. From a long-term perspective, it will help you improve your rankings, and in the short term, it will help you improve your brand awareness and get referral traffic. “Start publishing content outside of your own site, where you have a better chance of reaching more people,” says Ryan Johnson @rsj8000.
Another link building idea from Michael Hall @allmikehall – “If you can't beat them, join them - get listed on Yelp, Yellow Pages, BBB and other review sites that are outranking you.”
But, although we’ve already been told that Google is not the only source of traffic, that doesn’t mean you should stop trying.
So, take a small step towards future victories – “find other terms that you can rank for. Don't bang your head against the wall trying to rank for terms you can't win with” advises Ryan Johnson @rsj8000.