Have you ever used explainer videos for online marketing? Not just big brands, but even small and home-based businesses are using them as an effective way to communicate with their target audiences. Visual content is witnessing explosive growth, and explainer videos are being created in large number because they have been proved to be ‘communication goldmine’. If you’re looking for a marketing tool that will give your products a good positioning while increasing the rate of conversion, explainer videos are there to do just that, and a lot more!
Let us tell you what an explainer video is, why you need them and what the cost of their production is. Also, gather some practical tips for creating them in a way that makes a strong impact on the target audience.
What’s an explainer video?
As the name suggests, an explainer video is a short online video that you can use to explain and market a business, a product or a service. It can quickly tell an audience how to use a product or service to solve a specific problem. Explainer videos are witnessing a boom because people, by their very human nature, are more attracted to visual content than the written word.
For example, you could create an explainer video to explain how to use a particular mobile application or how to use an online platform which makes hiring simple and easy to manage for companies.
Here’s a good example from Gigtown.
[Gigtown is a mobile application which allows people to find, support and book artists or musicians around town.]
< iframe src=”https://www.youtube.com/embed/iHJKM7PyVII” width=”500″ height=”300″ frameborder=”0″ allowfullscreen=”allowfullscreen”>
Well, that’s just one example. There are tons of explainer videos that you can find out there. Whether it’s a software program, an online tool, a project management system or simply a junk clean-up service for houses, explainer videos allow people to get the hang of it within a few seconds.
Why You Need Explainer Videos
There are too many benefits of creating and using explainer videos in a business. An explainer video doesn’t only clarify how a product or service can be used, but it also boosts your business in a number of ways.
Here are key benefits of using explainer videos –
Increase Conversions: Since explainer videos help companies or businesses convey their value proposition in a quick and visually attractive way, they happen to be great conversion drivers. According to a survey, 85% of prospects are more likely to buy a product which comes along with an explainer video. Explainer videos are great at attracting and keeping attention of the target audience or prospects, provided they are designed and scripted appropriately.
Pique Interest: Since explainer videos are visually appealing, they pique an audience’s interest. Regardless of how boring an industry you operate in, you can always look at your business (or product or service) from a unique angle and create explainer videos to quickly attract attention and engage prospects, on a global level. There are many success stories of marketing or spreading the word about a new startup or business or product through explainer videos.
Improve Search Engine Rankings: In multiple search marketing surveys, it’s been revealed that websites with videos rank higher in SERPs. Websites that use videos on their homepage or landing pages have increased time on site, which is an important factor for ranking higher in search engines. Those who create and use videos to promote their business also get a number of indirect SEO benefits by way of attracing inbound links and gathering social signals.
Get More Traffic: One of the biggest benefits of using explainer video content is that they can drive a lot of traffic to a website. Provided you create high quality, entertaining and value-added explainer videos, you’ll be in a good position to attract tons of traffic as you start promoting those videos. Find out what qualities make a video go viral, follow the best practices and you too can generate a large viewing for your videos while giving your website a heavy traffic boost.
Showcase the Human Side: Your prospects are humans, and they’re looking to connect with humans too. Before they decide to step into a brand-consumer relationship, they want to know who stands behind the brand. They look for a human face, a personality. Many times, businesses get themselves in a rut and become so desperate to only make money that they forget about the potential of showing customers their human side. It hurts businesses a lot in the long term. Thankfully, explainer videos provide you with an excellent opportunity to showcase your human side to prospects and customers while earning their trust for long-term business growth.
It’s a proven fact that explainer videos, when done right, can quickly propel your business to the next level. Companies like Dropbox and Common Craft achieved astounding success with explainer videos.
Cost of Creating an Explainer Video
When it comes to creating explainer videos, one question that people often ask is – What’s the cost of producing an explainer video? The cost varies from one explainer video to another, depending on the quality of content (customization and details) and the length of the video. For example, an animated explainer video which is 60 seconds in length might cost you anywhere between $1,500 and $5,000. The price that you pay once could keep on bringing you a good return for years. Explainer videos are real, long-term business-boosters!
One thing that you should always keep in mind is that video producers or video creation companies put a lot of effort in pulling together a great explainer video for a business. The long process of creating an explainer video includes multiple steps – research, scripting, styling, illustration, storyboarding, voiceover, animation and sound effects among others.
Tips for Creating Great Explainer Videos
Now that you’re fully aware of what an explainer video does and why you should never ignore them, it’s time to equip yourself with a couple of insider tips or guidelines so that you’re on the right track while creating them.
Storytelling: Scripts carry the utmost importance. The explainer videos that go viral have a specific type of script. They tell a story that resonates with the target audience. Therefore, make sure you have a good story to tell before you start pulling together the explainer video. If you choose to work with a video production agency, don’t forget to brief them on what you exactly need.
Length: The length of an explainer video can be up to 2 minutes (or a little more) depending on what marketing goals you want to achieve. However, it’s good practice to keep the video length as short and compact as possible, preferably between 30-90 seconds. Another important tip is to say less in more time so that people can easily remember what you tell them rather than increasing the reading speed in a bid to say more. 150 words per minute is a good rule to follow.
Simplicity: How do you keep an explainer video simple? You can keep it simple only when you understand the essential elements that make up a great explainer video. Well, there are four things to focus on – a) talk about a problem b) offer a solution c) explain how people can do it or how they can start and d) include a call to action. If you concentrate on these four elements, you’ll keep the fluff out.
Professionalism: While creating an explainer video, both the audio and the visual should be of a superior quality. There are too many freelance artists available out there. You can hire a professional for a high quality voiceover. Whether it’s the polish of the voice or the way it’s delivered, both play an important role. Likewise, pay attention to the quality of the visuals as well. However, don’t delve into the visuals to a depth which would distract people from the core message.
Humor: Whether your target audience is single parents, physicians, college students, working people, travelers or couples, you should never forget one thing – everyone loves entertainment. Keeping things fun and light-hearted will add plenty of appeal to your explainer videos.
[If all of this sounds too much or you plan to work with a professional video production agency, get in touch with us right away. We’ll create a killer explainer video for your company or business at an affordable price.]
Content writing is a crucial part of the website building process. When you’re planning to launch a new website for your business, you’ll need to put in a great deal of time and energy for creating value-added content. You can easily differentiate one website from another on the basis of the quality of content. In the modern era of content marketing, it’s simply impossible to build a great website without great content. Unless your website features great content, you won’t be able to hold visitors longer enough to turn them into paying customers.
A lot of websites fail to engage visitors and generate leads simply because of poorly written content, regardless of their attractive designs. If you plan to quickly stand out and build a unique identity in your niche, you should make sure that the content on your website offers real value to readers.
Web Writing vs Print Writing
Do you understand the difference between writing for the web and writing for the print media? Before you start developing content for your business website, you should have a crystal-clear understanding of both the writing styles. Unless you know the difference between the two, you’re very likely to make mistakes and create website content that won’t get you the desired results.
First and foremost, the web is a highly active medium. Unlike the print content, web content is reader-driven. In the print media, the author has greater control and the readers are eager to follow the author’s lead. On the web, however, you don’t have much control over the reader. You should always keep in mind that readers on the web only skim content without paying attention to the details.
Studies have proved that –
> Readers on the web are in a hurry to collect information.
> Readers on the web don’t read content word for word.
> Readers on the web have a skeptical attitude.
> Readers on the web suffer from information overload.
When writing for the web, you should keep all these facts in your mind. It’s only when you understand how readers read and behave on the web that you’ll be able to create value-added content for your website.
The Target Audience
Before you start building the content for your website, you should define your target audience – the group of people you’ll market to. Unless you know who your target audience is, you won’t be able to communicate effectively because you won’t know what type of content and what style of writing they’d value.
It’s simply impossible to please everyone. If you want to achieve success in a business, you should target a specific group of people. A successful website, therefore, seeks to attract the attention of a specific group of people. So, you need to identify who your target audience is and then become the best in a niche you operate. You need to build a profile of the audience you wish to target. In fact, the target audience profiling should be done in a way that you can imagine someone you’ll communicate with through the content on your website.
Don’t ever make the mistake of assuming things. If you assume that your target audience thinks like you, it may not always be the case. You should be ready to identify who your target audience really is and understand their wants, needs and desires so that you can effectively plan to connect with them.
Take a look at these examples –
> A single female, in her mid twenties, renting an apartment in Boston, and battling with unemployment
> A stay-at-home mother, in her late thirties, with two children, living in NYC, with a total family income of more than $50,000 a year
> A college student, under the age of 25, living in Texas, working part-time, and making less than $20,000 per year
Each of the above-mentioned examples contains a few details of people. Though you can come up with multiple variations for each of these, the details are certainly enough to create a picture in your mind. A solid demographic base, therefore, is essential when you plan to delve deeper into the needs and desires of a target audience.
How to Write Content for a Website
Apart from understanding the difference between web writing and print writing and why defining target audience matters, you should also equip yourself with the best practices of writing content for a website. By following these guidelines, you’ll make sure that your content is effortlessly readable, user-friendly and easier for major search engines (like Google, Yahoo and Bing) to find.
Start with an Outline: It’s always advisable to create an outline for the content you want to create for your website. The main idea should be broken down into multiple sub ideas so that content writing becomes manageable.
Address the Target Audience: You have defined your target audience already, right? While writing the content, you should remember who you are writing for, what they want from a web page and what you want to achieve. To make your web page content easier to be found by search engines, you should also incorporate those words that your target audience would use when looking for a particular product, service or a piece of information.
Use Plain English: Readers on the web don’t like jargon or complex language. So, you should always use simple, familiar words. Sentences and paragraphs should be short and written in the active voice. The language has to be positive. Most importantly, you should follow university editorial style guide.
Be Concise: Since you already know that readers on the web look for information, you should always say it concisely. Cut out the fluff, but include information generously. Longer web pages can easily drive visitors away. Therefore, you should never create longer web pages unnecessarily. Just remember to provide key information in a succinct manner so that visitors can take the desired action.
Put the Main Points First: Web content writers always follow the inverted pyramid style, which means putting the most important information at the top of the page. If you plan to attract visitors quickly, you should present the main points front and center, and then proceed backwards from there.
Don’t Exaggerate: Today’s web readers are smarter than ever. They can easily see through the scheme of things. Therefore, it’s highly recommended that you avoid the use of lots of adjectives or flowery words. Don’t show off or pretend what you’re not. Objectivity in language will help you build credibility.
Make Sure the Tone is Consistent: The tone of the content is very important. To keep it consistent all across the website, you should employ one writer. Getting the content for your website written by multiple writers should be avoided at all cost, as it will only add inconsistency to the tone.
Leave Adequate White Space: Web pages that look over-packed with text (and graphics) frustrate the visitor. While writing content for a website, you should always remember to leave plenty of white space around the text. Lots of white space on a page improves readability a great deal and makes the visitor feel at home.
Check and Re-Check for Grammatical Errors: All the content on your website should be free from any kind of grammatical or language errors. If your website contains lots of such errors, it will reflect really badly on your company’s reputation. It looks unprofessional and sends the wrong signal to the visitor. Therefore, you should make sure that every piece of content that goes live on your website is grammatically error-free. Check for these errors at least 2-3 times before making the content on your website live for the world to see.
Write for Scanners
Most of the people on the web only scan content. So, you should do everything possible to make scanning easier for them. For example, the headline should quickly communicate what a particular web page is about. Likewise, the subheadings and image captions used on the page should also be meaningful. Using checklists to reduce wordiness also enhances scannability.
The way you build a website can make or break a business. Without great content, it’s just impossible to market a business website. Whether you get the content writing done by your in-house team or outsource the task to an agency, you should make sure that the content on your website offers real value to the reader so that you can attract attention quickly, engage easily and generate more leads.
The next big thing that will revolutionize the online marketplace is video. Among all other mediums of communication on the web, videos have the power to quickly influence and engage potential customers. While customers certainly like to go through articles, blog posts, PowerPoint presentations and infographics, videos stick into their memory for a longer period of time.
According to a study conducted by the Online Publishers Association, as much as 80% of users recollect watching a video ad in the past month whereas 46% of them took some kind of follow-up action.
Taking a strategic approach to video content creation doesn’t only help you market effectively and create a buzz about your brand or product, but it can also improve your website’s SEO considerably.
Why You Can’t Ignore Videos
According to a recent report by Cisco, videos will control around 69% of all consumer traffic generated online. Videos are fast shaping the future of content marketing. In an age of information overload, small businesses need to produce content in a way that can be digested with the least effort. And videos do just that! The human brain is programmed to process visual content 60,000x faster than text. That’s why videos are fast turning into the best online marketing tool.
Here are some key stats you should be aware about –
> Around 700 YouTube videos are shared on Twitter every minute. (Source: YouTube)
> Viewers spend 100% more time on pages that contain videos. (Source: MarketingSherpa)
> Viewers are 85% more likely to buy a product after watching a video about the same. (Source: Internet Retailer)
> Posts that contain videos attract 3x more inbound links than text-only posts. (Source: SEOmoz)
There are plenty of stories on the web about videos going viral as well. Videos carry an inherent potential to quickly attract attention, engage and encourage sharing. They are a perfect tool to compel people to spend more time on your website and interact with your brand. For any internet marketing campaign, social media campaign or SEO exercise, videos are something that you can’t ignore.
Low-Cost Video Production
The best part – you don’t have to plan a big budget for creating videos. Even if you operate locally, you can get into video production and create videos to boost the SEO of your website and expand the presence of your business for increased profits. Dollar Shave Club’s YouTube channel is an excellent example of low-cost video production.
Marketing videos aren’t just for big brands. They are affordable and even small or home-based businesses can create them within minutes. You don’t need to hire a videographer, edit and deploy anymore. Highly efficient smartphones and a wide range of editing software programs have made it pretty easier than ever to create quality videos without spending thousands of dollars. Apart from a smartphone, you can also buy a good camera and start creating high quality videos in-house. All you need to ensure is that sound quality is good and the visuals are steady enough for a fine viewing experience.
If you want people to act in your videos, you can look out for students or freelance actors who will work for you at a cheap price. If you have a few in-house employees, you don’t need freelance actors either.
With the availability of some basic equipment, graphics, some employees ready to act and video editing/production tools by your side, you can easily create cool videos to popularize your small business. There are multiple free (and cheap) online video production tools that you can use for the purpose. Animoto, Magisto and Prezi are good examples of such video production tools.
Given below are some useful tips that will help you improve your website’s SEO using videos –
Since consumers like videos more than anything else, the first thing you can do is publish videos on your website itself. Google considers rich media as high quality content. Having videos on your website means telling Google (and other major searcg engines) that your website contains content that’s highly relevant to search requests. As a result, search engines will start giving more prominence to your website, thereby boosting its rankings in SERPs.
In the near future, you’ll most probably see videos becoming an important ranking factor for all major search engines.
Use Keywords in Titles, Filenames and Descriptions
Without keywords, SEO just might not exist. If you want your videos to be found and ranked for the right terms, you should remember to incorporate the important keywords into the titles, filenames and descriptions. How will search engines understand what your video is about unless your make it clear by using the right keywords? While choosing keywords to increase the visibility of your videos, you should try to be as specific as possible. However, you should avoid overusing or repeating the same keywords.
Create Video Transcripts
The next step to increase the findability of your videos is to transcribe them. Google can’t yet comprehend the content of a video in the same way as it can process text-based content. Therefore, you should transcribe your videos word for word and include it along with the video. Video transcripts make it easy for search engines to understand and index video content.
If you lack the time and resources to transcribe the videos yourself, you should choose to outsource the task.
Pick YouTube as Your Video Host
You can either host your videos on your own website or YouTube. Though you’re free to go as you please, it’s advisable to have your videos tied to YouTube, the most popular video-sharing website in the world. First, videos hosted on YouTube are more likely to appear in universal searches. Second, YouTube provides small businesses with a great opportinity to get adequate exposure. [YouTube has over 1 billion active users and the number of hours people are watching videos on this website is up 50% year over year.]
Submit Video Sitemap to Google
Once you’ve integrated videos into your website, you should also create a sitemap for the same and then submit it to Google. Sitemaps tell search engines which pages need to indexed on your website. However, you should keep in mind that a video sitemap is not the same as the general sitemap of a website.
Optimize Load Time
From the user’s point of view, load time carries utmost importance. Since pages that take longer to load frustrate users, Google considers page load time as a key ranking factor. While embedding videos in your website, you should always keep this important point in mind. There are some tips and tricks that you should apply for embedding YouTube videos efficiently so that it doesn’t affect your SEO. Don’t hesitate to seek help from an expert SEO professional or SEO/internet marketing agency in this regard.
Don’t Forget Social Signals
Finally, you should start promoting your videos. It’s crucial to generate as many social signals (likes and views) for your videos as possible. The more social signals your video gets, the more likely it is to appear in SERPs.
Since you don’t need to have a six-figure budget to create videos and they’re becoming only more and more effective marketing material day by day, you must include them into your overall marketing strategy. Publishing videos on a regular basis is a surefire way of getting the word out about your products/services and improving the SEO of your website.
Everyone of us would agree to the fact that SEO has changed quite a bit over the last couple of years. While experts suggest that modern SEO requires a combination of technical, creative and strategic thinking, small businesses always look for a list of the current ranking factors. There are many search engine ranking factors that you’ve known for years. But it’s crucial to understand which of the previous ranking factors still rule and which of them are projected to change as modern SEO expands to include multiple other aspects of online marketing.
Unless you’re aware of how the different ranking factors might change (in terms of their direct impact on Google’s search ranking algorithm) in the near future, you’ll not be in a good position to take a well-structured approach to the SEO of your website or blog.
Therefore, we present you with an overview of which ranking factors are projected to increase in impact, which of them will remain the same and which ones will decrease in impact. [Source: 2015 Ranking Fctors Experts Survey by Moz]
Predicted to Increase in Impact
There are many ranking factors that are projected to only increase in impact with time. Whether you’re developing a new SEO campaign or improving an existing one, you should focus more and more on these search engine ranking factors.
#1. Mobile friendliness
#2. A site’s or page’s perceived value
#3. Quantity/quality of instant answers provided in SERPs
#4. Click-through rate and time spent on site
#6. Influence of structured data in SERPs
#7. Association with mobile apps and popularity of apps
#8. Clickstream data from outside of SERPs
#9. Download time of site
#11. On-page topic modeling
These factors will only become more important and valuable because they revolve around user experience.
Predicted to Remain the Same
There are some ranking factors that will still play the same role as they did earlier. Even if you’re planning a modern SEO strategy, you can’t underestimate the value of these factors.
#12. Topical relevance of links
#13. Quantity of paid results in SERPs
#14. Social signaling
#15. Presence and prominence of advertising vs content
#16. Raw domain authority based on inbound links
#17. Structure of URL
#18. Internal linking structure
Predicted to Decrease in Impact
There are many ranking factors that will continue to lose their value over time. It’s because they can be easily manipulated. It’s advisable to not dwell upon these search engine ranking factors, as they’ll carry no benefit for the long-term.
#19. Effectiveness of paid links
#20. Influence of anchor text
If you still choose to depend on these ranking factors, you should be ready to face search penalties.
Now that you’ve a clear picture of how different ranking factors might change and impact Google’s ranking algorithm in the near future, you should devise your SEO strategy keeping in mind the ROI for the long term. By taking the modern approach to SEO, you’ll be able to achieve a great position in search engines and gain tangible results while beating out the competition. Modern SEO isn’t just about getting plenty of visitors to your site, but it’s also about converting them into customers so as to ensure a higher return on your SEO investment.
In a nutshell, you have to grow your site in terms of quality, uniqueness, relevance and authority. Keep the technical factors in mind, let your creative juices flow and think strategically. Most importantly, start creating high quality, relevant content on an ongoing basis so that search engines can index your site continuously.
‘Not Provided’ keyword data in Google Analytics has gone away. Google’s Panda algorithm compels every webmaster to focus on the quality of content while its Penguin algorithm sends a clear signal that spammy link building tactics must be avoided. Considering the shift that Google’s algorithm has taken, one can easily say that SEO is no more about depending on a couple of tactics. But, what is most surprising is the fact that many webmasters are looking for new tactics to boost search rankings even today.
Sorry, we’ve had enough SEO tactics already!
Times in the SEO industry are changing too fast. If you believe that you’ll be able to dominate the Google search results by using only a bunch of tactics, you’re still living in the Stone Age. You may think that all it takes to rank at the top of search results is building a couple of links, having some content on your website and inserting the money-keywords here and there in the content. But, that’s not how SEO works in the modern day.
Those days are over!
Today’s SEO is no more just about keywords. The point is that you need to change the approach quickly, right from the start. Don’t bring your SEO to the table with a spreadsheet of search rankings. In fact, your focus should make an immediate shift from algorithms to the needs of users.
The moment you think about improving the search rankings of your website, you should start thinking strategically – step by step. You should be ready to invest adequately in research, analysis and implementation, if you’re really serious about throwing your competition to the dust and dominate the search engines for a long time. That doesn’t, however, mean you won’t use tactics. Of course, you’ll use the tactics that are in adherence to the latest Google quality guidelines. But your SEO strategy will remain on top of everything else. It’s high time that you understand what good SEO could mean to your online businesses.
Here are the important steps that you’ll need to follow to develop a SEO strategy that hits the nail on its head –
- Define your target audience (and what they like)
- Conduct categorized keyword research
- Define your key competitors (and spy on them to learn)
- Look for gaps and opportunities
- Create a customized SEO strategy
- Measure and track the results
- Prioritize, summarize and improve
While developing your SEO strategy, you should appropriately focus on each of the above mentioned steps. Of course, you’ll need to bring people from other departments in your company onboard. You can never leave this job to only a handful of your in-house SEO guys. At the same time, you should also understand that an effective SEO strategy is built upon the foundation of a good website. Unless you pay serious attention to creating a well-structured website, you’ll never be able to convert visits into leads or sales.
It’s also crucial to understand that no SEO strategy can ever be termed as effective if it doesn’t include content marketing. High quality and customer-focused content is, in fact, the backbone of a powerful search ranking strategy. Your strategy will never bear fruit if you lack content that your target audience is desperately in need of. Depending on the results of your target audience research, you should create remarkable content that fulfills their day-to-day needs, removes their doubts, educates them and makes them better buyers. If you’re ready to shift from ‘tactics’ mode to ‘strategy’ mode and follow all the above-mentioned guidelines appropriately, you can be sure to become a SEO superstar.
In any case, you should always keep yourself abreast of the latest news and developments in the SEO industry. Remember, the SEO industry is evolving with each passing day. New algorithm changes, updates and ranking factors are always making the news. By staying on top of it all, you’ll be able to tweak your SEO strategy according to specific requirements in time.
Detailed planning is a crucial part of working out a strong SEO strategy. In order to build a local search strategy which yields results, therefore, you should never forget to conduct an extensive audit for the same. But before you get started with the audit, you should be crystal-clear about what type of data you should include, how much data is adequate and what tools you can utilize to make the audit faster, easier and effective. At the same time, you should be quite well aware of the objective of the local search audit.
Of course, you can build a local search ranking strategy without doing detailed planning as it’s an easy option. You may also achieve some success in this case. But you can be sure to waste a lot of valuable time concentrating on the wrong areas. And you’ll definitely not get the results you actually wanted.
If you’re ready to conduct a truly result-oriented local search audit for your own website or one of your clients’, given below are five important tips that you can use to accomplish the task.
#1. On-Site Audit (Technical & Content)
There are two crucial aspects to an on-site audit. First, you need to look at your website technically. A technical audit actually translates to evaluating the accessibility potential of your website. You need to find out whether search engines can easily access, read and index the pages on your website. Therefore, you should concentrate on checking out the technical structure, meta data (use of local terms) and markup that your website uses. Second, it’s the content on your website that needs auditing. You should find out whether the content on your website is appropriately optimized.
#2. Backlinks Profile Audit
Since links still matter a lot in modern-day SEO, it’s important to make sure whether the links pointing back to your website are of top quality and relevant. A link audit will quickly reveal which pages on your website have been linked by others and which pages haven’t been. It will help you recognize opportunities to create new potential links for your website.
#3. Current Search Engine Ranking Audit
It’s also very important to know where your website stands currently, both in terms of local and traditional search. Before you start with the process, you should also pick the most important terms or keywords you want to edit and analyze. In any case, you should remember to pick terms in a range of variations while focusing on their relevance to your business. This ranking data will prove to be an eye-opener as to where you need to improve and where you should focus to enhance the rankings of your website in search engines.
#4. Google+ Local Page Audit
When it comes to auditing the Google+ local page of a business, there are many things that you should look out for. First, it should be checked whether the profile has been verified. Then, there are things like consistency of map data, map pin, category selection and other additional information that need to be checked to know whether everything is in order. The quality of photos, star rating, amount of reviews and number of followers are the next important elements that must be looked into.
#5. Reviews Audit
When you’re conducting a local search audit, you can never afford to ignore the significance of reviews. Consumers, when they plan to purchase a product or hire a service, first look for local reviews. Therefore, it’s important to gather the reviews and ratings data (across various powerful review sites) and compare them with your competitors. While doing this, you need to look beyond the general review sites. There are many niche review sites that are equally valuable.
Last month, Google pushed out a new major algorithm update – Pigeon (name coined by Search Engine Land). It’s actually an update which impacts local search. Rolling out search updates has now become quite synonymous with Google, because it’s now happening very quickly and consistently. Webmasters are always on their toes so that they don’t miss out on a single algorithm update and make the most of it before it’s too late.
If you run an online business or have a website to represent your offline business, it’s crucial that you understand what Pigeon update actually means, how it can affect your search rankings and what steps you should take to adapt to the latest update so that you can drive more online traffic.
About the Pigeon
According to Google itself, the Pigeon local search algorithm has been launched with an aim to providing users more useful, pertinent and accurate local search results. These local search results are closely associated with the traditional search ranking signals. You can see the changes both while using Google Maps search and Google web search results.
Google has first rolled out the new update only for US English results. Soon, you may expect to see the update roll out on a global level. One thing is sure that the Pigeon update does impact local search results.
Yelp Problem Has Been Solved!
Recently, Yelp (a popular online urban guide and business review site) mad some startling accusations that Google was not showing its pages in search results even when users included the word ‘Yelp’ in their queries.
For example, when users searched with a term “gary danko yelp”, Google returned the restaurant’s official website at the top along with multiple links to Google+ content. After the launch of the Pigeon update, however, that Yelp problem also seems to have been fixed. Yelp pages are once again appearing at the top of Google search results when someone specifically uses ‘Yelp’ in their query. What’s more, it’s not just Yelp that has benefited from the update. There are also many other local directories that have noticed a boost in rankings.
What to Do Now (SEO Tips)
In the wake of the Google’s Pigeon update, you may have already noticed an increase or decrease in your business’ local listings. In case your website has been suffering from a traffic drop over the last few weeks, it may also be due to the disappearance of some of your local listings.
So, what should you do to regain your lost local search rankings? Of course, running a PPC campaign is one of the most obvious options. If you’re thinking for the long term, however, you should start optimizing your website for local keywords that are relevant to your business. It’s just the right time to evaluate your site’s ranking status and take action now.
As mentioned above, the local search results are closely tied with traditional web search ranking signals. This really means that local search results are no more a stand-alone entity. In fact, your local search results now depend on the domain authority, links pointing back to the domain and other search ranking factors of your website. Therefore, you should gear up to increase the authority of your website as a whole to boost your local search rankings.
On the other hand, it’s also evident that local carousel is an excellent way to gain more exposure for your online business or website. Though the best practices or SEO tips for local search optimization remain the same, you must give local carousel a serious consideration. For example, your Google+ business profile should be properly optimized (along with high quality images) while you should also encourage your customers to review your business more and more. The more positive reviews your business has, the bigger influence you’ll build as far as ranking your website in local search results is concerned. At the same time, you should also plan a solid content strategy so that you don’t lose out in getting the most out of other popular local directories.
There are tons of webmasters who even today are trying to game Google. But the harder they try, the worse the situation gets. The point is clear – No matter how smart you think you are, it’s just impossible to game the Google algorithm. Particularly, after the release of the Panda and the Penguin algorithm, applying underhand SEO techniques only means risking the life of your website or online business. Therefore, it’s high time to not get caught in trends and start focusing on the specific needs of users.
Google is constantly refining its search algorithms. Whether you’re a large business or a small one, you need to strictly adhere to the latest webmaster guidelines as put forwarded by Google. Otherwise, you could easily see your site rankings go down or (God forbid) lose the rankings altogether.
If you’re really serious about your website being found in the search results and clicked, here are four pieces of advices to follow –
#1. Every Link Scheme is Bound to Fail
Though links pointing back to your website are significant even today, the ways of building links have changed. You can no more rely on spammy tactics like submitting your websites to directories, using article submission services, exchanging links with your peers (or co-bloggers) and buying links from high PR pages or websites. As a matter of fact, you should try to ‘earn links’ on the basis of the quality of your website. Therefore, avoid any kind of link schemes that you may have in mind, as it will only lead to facing penalties.
#2. The Days of Obsessing Over Keywords are Over
The modern-day SEO is no more about stuffing content with keywords. Google is focusing more and more on returning relevant search results. As soon as you fill out a page with money-keywords, you’ll send Google a signal that you’re not attentive to the needs of the users. What you should actually do is pay attention to the intent of the user. Rather than repeating keywords, you should let them flow naturally into your content.
#3. The Separation of Search and Social Has Ended
Gone are the days when social media and search rankings were seen as two different things. Today, it’s just impossible to separate social media from search engine optimization. According to Google, social cues (such as retweets, Facebook likes and Google +1s) are strong signals to evaluate the quality of a website or the content that it features. It is, therefore, important to understand that social signaling has got to play an important role as far as the ranking of your company website or blog is concerned.
If you’re about to plan a SEO strategy or restructure it, you should never forget to include a social aspect to the same.
#4. Content Reigns Supreme
No matter how wonderfully you design a website, it will fail to make an impact if it lacks high quality content. The modern-day SEO strategy should always revolve around content that the target audience is badly looking for. Of course, it will involve some extensive research to identify the specific needs or the day-to-day issues of the target audience. But that’s the only way to create problem-solving content that Google favors in its search results.
Always look at SEO as a complete strategy. Once you’ve worked out a powerful strategy for search, you should execute it effectively. More importantly, you should analyze the results and see where you’re headed. Depending on the initial results you see, you should optimize your efforts even more to achieve your goals and obtain better rankings in the search results.
I hope you still remember the strong message that Matt Cutts sent across, at the start of this year. Over the last few years, guest blogging has gone on to become a spammy practice, a surefire way of acquiring links. If you’re guest blogging solely for SEO purpose, it’s time to give it a halt. There was a time when guest blogging was considered to be a respectable thing. But it’s now no more than a black-hat SEO tactic, as far as Google is concerned.
Though you may already have started to re-structure your guest posting strategy after Matt’s announcement, there are a few important things that you should learn from the fall of guest blogging.
Here are four of them –
SEO is Dynamic
One of the most interesting things about SEO is that it’s a game where the rules continue to change. Since SEO is a dynamic industry, you should clearly understand the need to change your approach with time. In fact, you should keep a close watch on the Google algorithmic updates so that you know what’s latest and what’s out of date. You can never afford to center your SEO on a few tactics and continue with them for years. It’s important to identify the requirements of the latest Google quality guidelines and embrace the changes so that you can dominate the search results for the long term.
You should now think of SEO as a complete strategy that you should work out by researching extensively, analyzing appropriately and implementing effectively.
You Can’t Manipulate Google Rankings
The fall of guest blogging clearly dictates that you can’t manipulate the Google rankings through spammy tactics. Google doesn’t like it, after all the efforts that it invests into refining its search algorithms. Just like you can’t use article submission services, web directories and press release writing purely for SEO purposes, you can’t use guest blogging to gain links either.
In fact, you should quickly get rid of any thoughts of manipulating the Google search results by any kind of underhand techniques. The game of SEO is now very fair, comprehensive and competitive.
Top Quality Content is Key
If there’s one thing that you should always keep at the top of your mind, especially in the wake of Google’s latest algorithmic updates, it’s the creation of top quality content. Today’s SEO strategy must revolve around remarkable content, which is information that users are truly interested in. You can’t create content just for the sake of filling out your website (or blog) or for merely increasing the number of pages on your site. Your content should always focus on the day-to-day requirements of your target audience. The content that you create should answer the questions that your customers are facing. Your content should teach customers something new. It should have the capability to inform, inspire and engage the audience.
Links Have to Be Earned
The fall or decay of guest blogging points to a quick change in your link building strategy. It may be easy to get links. But earning links is something that depends only on the quality of your website or content. If you thought you could easily build links by purchasing them or exchanging them with your co-bloggers or online friends, you should quit the obsession right away. Links are like rewards that you need to win on the basis of your merit. Therefore, it’s also time to rethink your link building strategy so that you can survive in the modern era of SEO and improve the presence of your business on the web.
For long, you’ve known inbound links as one of the most important factors for ranking a web page at the top of search engines. But has this question ever come to your mind – ‘Can I rank a piece of content on the first page of Google even when it doesn’t have too many links pointing to it?’ Whether you’ve thought about such a scenario or not, Matt Cutts was recently faced with the very question. And he responded to this critical question as well!
Of course, in today’s competitive SEO era, what makes the most difference is the quality of content you produce. High quality inbound links, on the other hand, also play a major role in telling Google whether it should give a specific piece of content or web page competitive ranking.
When Matt Cutts answered this intriguing question through a Google Webmasters video, most of the webmasters around the world felt a little taken aback. He agreed that there are special cases where a page which features remarkable content but doesn’t have too many inbound links pointing to it. He also reveals that Google does rank many such pages and it uses various other signals to measure the quality of a page or a piece of content that deserves higher rankings. Apart from links, there are other factors like the ‘time spent on a page’, ‘number of pages generated per session’ and ‘the bounce rate’ that Google may consider to evaluate the quality of a page or a website which doesn’t have many inbound links.
If you’ve a brand-new website, for example, you may have lots of high quality content featured on it but not many links pointing to it. Does that mean you don’t deserve high Google rankings? Of course, you do. In response to the question, Google’s Matt Cutts mentions about those days when search engines wouldn’t use links (or backlinks) as a ranking signal. AltaVista is a good example of such a search engine. It didn’t use links when it evaluated the relevancy of a page or a piece of content to rank it in search results. It ranked a page only on the basis of the text that it contained. In terms of Google, the quality of content on a page does play a key role. However, ranking a page without many inbound links at the top of Google isn’t about too many keywords either.
When the relevancy (and ranking) of a page is determined only on the basis of text, following factors play a key role –
- The first word on the page
- The second time the word is seen on the page
- Additional occurrences of the word on the page
Matt Cutt was very clear in his explanation that repeating the same keyword over and over again wouldn’t do the trick either, as it will only lead to ‘keyword stuffing’ which is against Google quality guidelines.
The quality of the content (which lacks inbound links) matters the most in this case. Most importantly, Google will want to rank this content when it centers around a unique or rare phrase, which the users may be looking for. If your content is a unique piece of content and still being searched by users, Google will rank it at its top search results.
Getting obsessed about plenty of inbound links may not always be a good idea until you’re creating unique content. Google prefers giving top ranking to a site which has 10 page views/ visitor, 5 minutes average time spent and only one inbound link over a site which has 30 or 40 inbound links with very bad on page/ site metrics.