Ever wonder if the news stories you read on the Internet are actually true? Well, now you don’t have to thanks to Google. Google has launched a new feature that will give publications the option to highlight articles that have been fact checked and are considered accurate.
The new tag, “Fact check,” is meant to help readers find fact checking in news stories from various publications. According to Google’s Head of News, Richard Gingras, fact checking articles has become very popular and more than 100 active sites are conducting thorough fact checks to make sure the information you are reading is accurate. These sites are examining articles about the media, health, education, and, yes, politics, which could be very helpful this election year.
Be mindful that Google is not manually fact checking your stories; that is still the job of the publication. Google is just giving publishers the opportunity to add the “Fact check” label next to their articles. But there is a strict set of criteria that must be met before Google will allow you to add the “Fact check” label to your work. This is accomplished through following Google’s standards and including the new schema.org markup called ClaimReview.
Google will look for the ClaimReview markup, and will also be looking at sites that already follow common criteria in fact checking to help determine if the article is truthful. If Google discovers a publication is using the markup but does not meet the required criteria, it may remove the site from Google News. This is intended to help separate fact from fiction for readers. Google launched the new feature on Thursday, October 13, available on the web through Google News and Weather iOS and Android apps, starting with the United Stated and the United Kingdom.
A successful SEO program doesn’t just bring traffic to your website. It will bring the right type of visitors, ones that are interested and willing to invest in your products or services. The goal of an SEO program is to increase your brand’s online visibility within specific topics to expand brand recognition and reach new customers. You likely already have some sort of SEO strategy in place, but if you don’t and do decide to use an SEO program, keep in mind that it can take anywhere from 6 months up to a year to actually see developments in online visibility. But the good news is you do not have to wait a year to understand if your SEO program is succeeding or failing. Continuous efforts will help bring perpetual results and checking the health of your SEO program will help you stay ahead of problems that could have been prevented.
How do you know if your efforts are paying off? Here are some quick ways to check if the health of your SEO is in tiptop shape!
Check for Broken Links
There are many tools that will check to see if there are any broken links on your website. A broken link, whether internal or external, can actually hurt your SEO. If one week a particular link is working fine, it doesn’t mean that it won’t be broken the next. Sometimes you can’t control this, so it’s best to check every month to be sure everything is working. Sites like Broken Link Check and Dead Link Checker can do this for free, making it an easy one to quickly check and fix.
Pay Attention to Site Speed
Paying close attention to site speed is something to be aware of because it may be a ranking factor and a potential annoyance for visitors. Google Page Speed Insights can be very helpful with tracking your score. Combine that with the site speed data from Google Analytics to see if your website is getting faster. Also, use Pingdom Tools to check loading times on specific pages. These simple tasks could help you realize what any problems might be with your SEO score.
Check Your Robots.txt
This might seem intimidating, especially if you don’t have experience in coding. But it’s actually easier than you think to make sure your website has robots.txt setup properly. A robots.txt file is something that every website should have for good SEO. There should be no major disallows, meaning that the Google bots might not be able to index certain pages on your website. All you have to do is type in “robots.txt” after your domain name.
For example: yourdomain/robots.txt
After you type your website name, followed by robots.txt into the Google search bar, you will likely see a list of areas where crawlers are not allowed to index. You would then have to make sure you don’t have any SEO problems, which means making sure there is nothing you want crawled that isn’t being crawled.
Make Sure Your Website is Mobile-Friendly
Sometimes a large percent of the traffic to your website might be coming from mobile phones. So it’s important to make sure your users have a good mobile experience. Searchmetrics and SEMRush both give you an excellent overview of mobile traffic and Google Analytics can segment data by device. Whether your website gets a small number of mobile users or not, it’s always important for your site to be mobile-friendly. So make sure to keep an eye on the pages that drive the most mobile traffic and monitor ranking.
Check for Crawl Errors
Checking to see if search engines can crawl your website is simple to do with Google Search Console. If search engines cannot crawl your website, you will get no organic traffic. Most people assume that if you didn’t have a crawl error to begin with then your website is safe, but this is not always true. If, for example, someone changed something on the backend of your website or you had a minor hack, there might be errors you didn’t know existed and this could cause your ranking to decrease.
Measure Organic and Referral Traffic
It’s important to measure organic and referral traffic in your Analytics platform monthly and look for an upward trend in your search traffic. If your direct traffic is over 30 percent, then you have a problem with traffic attribution. You can use Google Search Console to generate a list of links to your site and it will show you the pages with the most links. You can also use Majestic, which will generate a list of links to your site but will group links by topic. Majestic will also track link velocity. Increasing a number of inbound links to specific pages will show you which content is unique and useful. Remember, the more links to more pages, the better your linking strategy is and the more links from similar topical websites, the more relevant your site is to that topic.
Changes from Google could be affecting how customers are able to find your business. You may notice that Google Maps are now listing businesses according to more than just location proximity and industry categories. Google uses business identifier to list businesses that they deem to be the most relevant. So how do you make sure your business listing doesn’t get pushed to the bottom? Check out these helpful tips!
- Verify your Business Listing
Checking that your Google+ business page is verified is the very first thing to do. Not sure if you have one? Well chances are you probably do, all thanks to Google! Years ago Google created roughly 83 million business pages based upon data that was already on the Internet.
To find your business, go to Google and type in “Google my business”. Click to the Google My Business page, then click the Get Onto Google button. It will prompt you to enter your Google email address and password to log in. Don’t worry if you don’t have one; you can sign up for a password. Next, in the search bar where it says “find your business,” type the name of your business and it should bring up your business listing.
Google will tell you whether the listing is claimed and if it’s claimed with the email address you are using. If it is, then you can log in and edit the page. If the email doesn’t match, then you need to claim your business.
Claiming your business is simple. You just need to verify that you are the owner. You can do this by having a verification pin sent to your phone, or by postcard. Your best bet is to have it sent via your phone because a postcard could take up to two weeks to receive.
- Choose the Correct Category
Once your business page is verified, you then need to check that your business is registered in the correct category. You can check your business category by searching for your business on Google. In the search results, it will show underneath your business name the primary business category you are registered under.
If the category that is selected for your business is incorrect, then you can edit the category by searching for a classification that is better suited. You can do this in the Google My Business Centre.
Name, Address, Phone Citation or NAP, is the next thing to do! You need to make sure the name, address and phone number of your business are registered correctly. This is known as a NAP citation and is important because Google uses this to recognize whether your business is trusted and relevant in the local area. After you verify your NAP, check that it is the same as the listing on your website.
- Citations Listed in Business Directories
Once you’ve completed all the above, you now need to consider how many citations are online and how consistent they are. If your business has moved and changed its address, then there may be a harmful amount of inconsistent citations across the Internet. So you need to check on other local business directories and sites, such as, Yelp, Yell, and Freeindex, to see if your NAP citation is the same as your website and Google + page.
Being a trusted provider is important to Google, so having a number of consistent NAP citations on dependable business directories is good!
- Positive Reviews
Having positive reviews about your business is important in terms of local search and can significantly help your business listing on Google. When people search for what they need in Google, Google will pull the most relevant businesses and will also consider the user generated content around those businesses via reviews.
Your business will typically need more 5-star reviews than your competitors in your local area to stand out in Google’s top 3 listings. Coming up with a review collection strategy could really help your business. Asking satisfied customers to go on Google and leave feedback about their experience could help persuade potential clients that your business is the best in the area. Also, the more positive feedback will protect your reputation if you do receive a negative review.
A few years ago, Matt Cutts, a Google software engineer, confirmed many SEO specialists’ suspicions: 301 redirects affect PageRank, which is the algorithm Google uses to rank sites in its search engine results pages (SERP). Cutts’ confirmation stated that the PageRank of an old URL was not fully passed on to the new URL, causing a drop in rankings. In order to prevent movement in the rankings, it was suggested to link through using a normal link versus using a redirect. Two years later, our pal Matt Cutts released a statement that 301 redirects no longer dilute PageRank. SEO specialists celebrated as Cutts said, “The amount of PageRank that dissipates through a 301 is currently identical to the amount of PageRank that dissipates through a link.” Now that our 301 worries are relieved, what about 302 redirects or other 30x redirects?
Up until now, all other forms of redirects still caused a dilution in PageRank. It wasn’t until last month that SEO specialists could stop worrying about PageRank when Gary Illyes, a Google webmaster trends analyst, confirmed that using a 301, 302, or 30x redirect of any kind will not result in a loss of PageRank. Google’s John Mueller also confirmed this statement.
301 redirects are used most commonly when a page with good page authority from your domain has been removed from the site. It is encouraged to add a 301 redirect from that page to another relevant page from your domain. In terms of SEO, this is a better alternative than using 404 error pages, which have no SEO advantage.
Are you interested in optimizing your search engine results? RobMark Web’s team of SEO Specialists is here to help! With a mix of white hat SEO tactics, RobMark Web can help you improve your PageRank.
So you’ve launched a new website and your search engine rankings plummeted. Now what? There are several things to consider while building and launching your new website to ensure your site stays optimized and/or improves in optimization. Some common mistakes that occur while building a new website that can affect your SEO include the following:
- Using unoptimized or Flash-based images — These types of images can lead to slow load time on your website and in the not-so-patient world of e-commerce, customers won’t wait for the page to load. Flash-based images can even prevent users from accessing the website via mobile devices altogether, which accounts for at least fifty percent of all web traffic nowadays.
- Neglecting to migrate important content — Informative and unique content is important in terms of SEO, which includes content that lives behind the scenes—meta data and alt tags. Sometimes while migrating from an old site to a new one, that content gets missed. These elements are crucial to preserve existing SEO practices.
- Blocking search engines from crawling the website — Occasionally during planning and development, a robot.txt code is used to block search engine crawlers from crawling an unfinished website. However, sometimes developers may forget to remove that code while transferring over to a live server, making the new website uncrawlable and unrankable. Or certain firewall settings could be preventing the website from being crawled. Search engines need to have the ability to crawl and read the website in order for it to be ranked.
- Lacking mobile-friendly optimization — Like previously stated, mobile traffic makes up approximately fifty percent of all web traffic, and in some cases more. Last year, Google adjusted its algorithm to weigh more on mobile-friendliness, i.e. ranking responsive, mobile-friendly sites higher than those that aren’t. While in the development stage, by primarily focusing more on the appearance of the site on a laptop, you’re doing more harm than good. Thinking about the user’s experience on all devices will set you up for the success.
These are just four of the common SEO mistakes that occur during new website launches. Next time, trust Savannah’s web design experts at RobMark Web. Staffed with web designers, programmers, and SEO specialists, every website launched by Robmark Web is run through a gauntlet of testing on all devices and a thorough SEO checklist to ensure your rankings go nowhere but up. Call (912) 921-1040.
What started with Siri in 2010 has quickly transformed into a growing industry that involves all the big tech players, including Apple, Google, and Amazon. Voice search has not only grown over the last three years, but it has exploded. In one year, voice search went from zero percent of searches to 10 percent, and as of June 2016, it now accounts for 20 percent of searches. That is huge growth in a short amount of time, and that percentage can be expected to continue to grow.
Consumers are using voice search in a few ways, which Hound, a voice query app, has divided into the following four categories:
- Personal Assistant — creating events, shopping lists, reminders, making calls, or sending texts
- Fun and Entertainment — listening to music, social media, searching video, or playing games
- General Information — web searches, news, recipes, or banking and finance.
- Local Information — finding restaurants, shopping, directions, home services weather, or traffic
Voice-controlled Personal Assistant and the General Information searches are the majority of voice queries.
With this change in how consumers are searching, businesses are going to have to employ new strategies in order to keep up. Since certain voice searches are bypassing the opportunities for competitors to try and attract your attention with high organic listings and paid advertisements, new strategies need to be developed to ensure that small businesses don’t get left behind in the new voice search era. Some things to consider include online reputation, search result rankings on search engines other than Google, and long-tail keywords.
Amazon Echo relies on “Skills,” which is Echo’s version of apps, to provide data for its searches. This can leave small businesses at a competitive disadvantage due to lack of capital to create a comprehensive application like big brands and franchises are able to do. This means the best way to compete is to optimize your presence on vertical sites that have applications, like Yelp, for example. Yelp is especially important since it is also the skill that Echo accesses when looking up local businesses such as restaurants or retail shops.
Being on the first page of Google is great, but what if a user is searching via Bing, Yahoo, or DuckDuckGo? Where does your site rank on the non-majority search engines?
Amazon Echo is the leading personal assistant at the moment and its default search engine is Bing. It’s important to make sure you have good standing across all of the top search engines, not just the majority leader — Google.
Queries, when using voice search, tend to be more conversational, longer, more nuanced, and actually reveal a greater intent than basic searches. For example, a user who is typing may search for “ac repair near me,” whereas a user using a voice assistant may say, “There is a burning smell coming from my Trane ac unit.” Or instead of searching for a pizza restaurant near you, you will ask your personal assistant to order you a specific pizza from that app on your device. This is also the case with local service providers. Instead of searching for an electrician in your area, you will request your personal assistant to book an appointment with the highest-rated local electrician who is available during a certain time. This last instance can circle back around to our first objective: online reputation.
Since this is relatively new technology, competition, issues, and updates will undoubtedly arise, making it difficult to anticipate what strategies will work. However, if small businesses stay on top of the technology and actively participate as it grows, it lessens the chance of being left behind as this industry changes.