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  • Eric Enge and Barry Schwartz

    Google makes numerous search algorithm updates each year. Those updates may affect our sites’ ranking one way or the other. But do we really know how? In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series,  Barry Schwartz, Search Engine Land’s News Editor, together with Eric Enge, explains different kinds of Google updates and why it is really important that you understand Google’s algorithm updates.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources Barry Schwartz’ Search Engine Roundtable Blog See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Eric: Hi everybody, Eric Enge here, and I’m really pleased to have Barry Schwartz with me today. We are going to talk about search algorithm updates. Say hi, Barry. Barry: Hi Barry. Eric: Well done. Thank you for the ritual stupid joke. That’s a good way to start this off. But anyway, since we’re going to talk about algorithm updates, why don’t we talk for a moment about some of the moldy oldies: Penguin and Panda. How do core updates differ from those kinds of algorithms? Barry: I think it’s easy when you look at the Penguin algorithm—it was more focused on links, where you don’t really think or most people aren’t saying that these core algorithms are link-focused. Penguin really was about targeting people, manipulating Google search algorithms around faking your link profile, faking that your PageRank should be higher than it should, faking that your authority should be higher than it Panda was more about the site’s content being something that you could trust: is it authoritative? It’s going back to that list of like 23 questions that we all went ahead and posted back when people wanted answers of, “What they should do to fix their sites” around the Panda update. Most people are comparing the Panda algorithm, which is now built into the core algorithm, according to Google, related to the core algorithm, where everybody’s talking about, “Is this site trustworthy?,” “Is the site content something that people would stand behind?” I think when you look at Panda, it’s probably more related to these core updates. I think it’s just terminologies Google is using in order to basically say, “Hey, we’re not really confirming updates but yeah, we did an update to our core algorithm,” this way they don’t have to come up with new names every day around Fred or Florida or whatever you wanna call these updates. Eric: Well the Fred name was your fault, right? Barry: Actually, it’s Gary’s fault. He named his fish Fred. Eric: Yes, but you’ve spurred him into doing that. Putting that aside for a moment, the Penguin algorithms are actually still around, right? They’re just incorporated in the core algorithm now. Barry: Google doesn’t talk about it much. They said they incorporated into the Panda, at least their core updates. I’m not sure if they incorporated the Penguin algorithm into their core updates. But the Panda they said they did, right? Maybe Penguin also. Eric: Yes, both. Barry: Both are incorporated? Eric: Yes. Barry: Penguin is definitely real-time. Panda is less real-time, according to the last update, but we’re not really getting any information from Google in the past couple years about Panda or Penguin. I think they just stopped updating them or they’ve just embedded them into the core algorithm and it’s Google’s way of not talking about them. They just say, “Yes, it’s a core update.” That’s it; we don’t know much about it now. Eric: Given that you’re sort of like a journalist for the industry, I think a really good question to ask you is, “What do you see that SEOs are typically doing in response to updates?” Barry: Most SEOs that are talking about these core updates are looking at the site as a whole and saying, “What could I do to this site in order to improve it, from a user perspective?” Making the site’s user experience better, making the content better, making it just appear that the site’s more trustworthy, authoritative and around the E-A-T topic, and a lot of SEOs that I’m talking to are looking at things around, “Are the authors that are writing this blog post or the authors writing about this evergreen content someone that has the experience and history behind them to actually go ahead and say, ‘Yeah, this is actually authoritative content written by an expert on the topic, as opposed to just some low-level bloggers regurgitating whatever John Mueller says on an SEO blog called Search Engine Roundtable?'” Eric: Right. I think that’s good advice in general, and there is that low-level blog called Search Engine Roundtable, I understand, but actually I think the guy who writes on that is pretty good, so maybe you ought to read it. But with this whole idea of the quality of the content you’re creating, and having the right expertise behind the writing, I think is a really good one. I think that’s a good area for people to focus Barry: I just had a meeting with somebody on a high level, just talking about their website, and they’re like, “Should we invest time and effort into our content?” I’m like, “Yes of course.” Even so, you should even invest in building the personalities of your employees through the content of your website, because that’s not going to hurt you, it might help you. If you believe everything around what people are saying around content and authority and stuff like that, that definitely will help Google, but it also might help you get more publicity on news channels. You might be interviewed by CNN or Fox or think to extremes, or you might get on CNBC about a specific topic or be interviewed in some journal that’s related to your topic. It just helps you overall by going ahead and investing

  • Eric Enge and Google's Martin Splitt Discuss SEO in Here's Why Video Series

    Google made an interesting announcement at Google I/O in early May 2019: they now prefer responsive sites more than mobile subdomains, and dynamic serving. In this episode of the popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Google’s Martin Splitt joins Eric Enge and explains why Google now prefers responsive sites. Splitt shares some key metrics to consider when developing mobile sites.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Eric Enge: Hey, everybody. I’m Eric Enge, and today I’m pleased to let you know that Martin Splitt is joining me from Google, where he’s a webmaster trends analyst based out of the Zurich office. Say hi, Martin. Martin Splitt: Hello, everyone. Very good to be here. Thank you very much for having me, Eric. Eric Enge: Absolutely. At Google I/O, you said something that was really interesting, that seemed different from what we’ve heard from Google before. Historically, there’s definitely been a sense that your recommendation is that people build responsive sites rather than mobile subdomains, and presumably also dynamic serving. But at Google I/O, something that you said really started to sound like you’re pushing the recommendation to go responsive a little more formally, and forcefully. Did I hear that right, and why? Martin Splitt: Yes, we did say something along those lines. I wouldn’t say that the recommendation necessarily changes what we have been recommending with RWD. But as the last year went by, we noticed that many, many people are having issues or facing challenges or struggling with getting the M-Dot URLs right. It’s another moving target. So many things can go wrong there. You can canonicalize it incorrectly, you can forget your structured data in one of the two sites, you can forget to link your M site, you can get your hreflang wrong. There’s just so much that can go wrong, and then you have to deal with two different moving targets. It seems to me that it is not just recommended to switch to responsive sites, but also that it’s probably a lot easier. We just wanted to highlight that, before you get yourself into hot water and struggle with the M-Dot domain. If you have one that works, okay. But before you do that, and if you want to become more mobile friendly, then probably consider investing in responsive web design. Eric Enge: If you have it right, then maybe there isn’t a great deal of urgency to switch. But my observation is that maybe even if your mobile subdomain is working really well now, it’s just a little harder to maintain too, right? Martin Splitt: It is. Eric Enge: So, would you actually recommend that people who have mobile subdomains or even dynamic serving setups actually invest in converting to responsive? Martin Splitt: If you have a working setup and don’t have any pain points, definitely do not change your running system. But if you are struck by the fact that there is an additional maintenance overhead, or you see that it’s like a hit or miss for you, then I would say it’s a good long-term investment to do responsive. Eric Enge: Got you. There’s just one other mobile topic I want to bring up, which wasn’t really covered in Google I/O: the whole issue of speed. I’m sure that was covered in Google I/O, but I’m not pulling something specific out of it. Talk a little bit about the importance of speed in the mobile environment. Martin Splitt: Mobile is usually using networks that have a higher latency, or are a lot more flaky than stable Wi-Fi connections or stable cable connections, so speed is a much, much more important factor. Oftentimes, we see that developers are not testing it on real-world conditions. It is sometimes just really hard to test it on real-world conditions on mobile phones. Mobile phones happen to have a different CPU architecture; not all of them, but some of them, and we do see that the mobile performance especially in graphics performance, as well as CPU performance, is just not the same as on desktop. We think it is important to emphasize that you should make your website as fast as possible, especially because mobile would suffer if you don’t. When we say fast, then the question is, what do we mean by fast? Speaking of that, you don’t just want to make sure that your server delivers the bytes really quickly over network because basically, the problem might start once the bytes have left your server, and it’s the transmission path or it’s on the device that is slow to parse the data as it comes in. You probably want to also look into things like time to interactive. How long does the phone hang until I can actually start interacting with the page? When do I actually start to see the content? If you’re using client-side rendering, for example, the problem is that your content is bound by the entire JavaScript having to arrive and be parsed, or is cycling the CPU. If it’s compressed, which it should be—that’s a very important factor—your compressed JavaScript needs to be uncompressed, which is usually pretty fast. But then it needs to be parsed. Is this actually JavaScript? Is this valid JavaScript? And it needs to be executed, and then it starts generating the content, which is again putting additional work on the CPU, which will also make the phone respond and make a website much, much later to input. So that’s not a good experience. You should definitely look into making your site faster. That’s generally a really, really good investment. Eric Enge: For years now, I’ve seen people obsessing about things like time to first byte. What you said was time to first interactive—that seems a lot

  • Eric Enge and Google's Martin Splitt Discuss SEO in Here's Why Video Series

    Google made several announcements at Google I/O in early May of 2019 about search and SEO. Images were one of the topics mentioned during the announcement. In this episode of the popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Google’s Martin Splitt joins Eric Enge and explains how visual search is vital to SEO and why Google places emphasis on high-resolution images.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Eric: Hey, everybody. I’m Eric Enge. Today, I’m pleased to tell you that I’ve got Martin Splitt from Google joining me. He is a Webmaster Trends Analysts based out of Zurich. Thanks for joining us today, Martin. Martin: Thank you very much for having me, Eric, and hello everybody. Eric: Today we’re going to talk about the announcements at IO that related to images and visual aspects of search. To start, maybe you could talk a little bit about the announcement made about high-resolution images. Martin: As you know, we now have the new Discover Feed. If you’re using an Android device, you have it on your home screen. If you’re using on mobile, then you will see that there. The search app on Android has it as well, and it can drive a lot of traffic, but also it is very keen on having good visuals. The question then is, what kind of visuals should we be using? We would like to use high-quality images that are a little bigger than usual— that would be nice. But we want our webmaster staff to have full control over what they’re giving us to show and discover, and also, we want to use these images in other surfaces. We have smart home devices with displays now: we have the Assistant, and we have many different surfaces that can show visual content and promote your site, basically. We announced the upcoming possibility to opt-into sharing high-resolution visual content with us: basically, images in high resolution that we use on different surfaces and different devices, and also in Discover Feed and other features. We have no timeline yet for when that opt-in program will start. Eric: So how do you actually opt in or enable the feature? Martin: The way to opt in is probably going to be based around structured data. You would use the regular optimized fast images for your website, so that your web content loads fast on user devices, but you would include a little bit of structured JSON-LD that points us to an high-resolution image that we can use. And probably, there will be settings around that in search console, as well. Eric: Got it. You mentioned that this will be part of the Discovery feature, for example. Do you see the high-resolution images ever coming into play via regular Google Search or image search? Martin: Probably, but at this point, I only know that we will do this in Assistant, especially the smart displays that we have with Assistant and in Discover, but there’s probably more to come. Eric: Got it. And how about 3D images? That’s the other thing that you talked about at IO. Martin: Yes, absolutely. Right now, we are working with a few partners on bringing AR capabilities and 3D models to Google Search. There are plenty of interesting use cases. If you have educational use cases, or if you have things like furniture or real estate, those might be really interesting to try out and have a more visual approach, as these are, by definition, very visual things. Lots of people are visual learners. You definitely want a special understanding of, let’s say, a piece of furniture. There are use cases where it makes sense, and we are piloting that. There are multiple teams working towards a common goal in this case. We have teams that work with WebVR and AR—actually, it’s called WebXR, which is like AR and VR in one specification—to bring these possibilities to the web. There are also teams working to make 3D models smaller—that would be the Draco Mesh Compression. We also work with other teams to make developers more comfortable and make it easier for developers to work with 3D content, as well. And we are participating in the standardization effort that is GLTF, which is basically like a JPEG format but for 3D models. Eric: That’s awesome. I think the functionality and the things that you’re putting into visual search these days are really amazing. Martin: Thank you. Eric: So how important is visual search going to be going forward? Martin: I think visual search is one of the most underrated search experiences that we have right now. I mean, image search can be a fantastic funnel for additional traffic, especially if what you have is a very visual thing. If your product is very visual, if your niche is about visual things—let’s say food or tourism or specific kinds of marketing—then I can definitely see that visual will become more important for users as we also offer them more engaging and more visual ways to discover and interact with content. Eric: Great. Thanks so much for joining us today, Martin. Martin: It’s been a pleasure. Thank you very much for having me, Eric. Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

  • Eric Enge and Brian Weiss discuss SEO in Here's Why Video - educational video series on Digital Marketing

    User experience is becoming a part of SEO, but why does Google want to use it as a signal in their algorithm? In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series,  Brian Weiss explains how Google is using user experience to rank pages.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Brian: User experience is becoming part of SEO. Here’s why. Hey, Eric. Eric: Hey, Brian. Brian: I have a question for you. Eric: Okay, what’s that? Brian: Would you rather have a website that was magically guaranteed to rank number one for every query, or a website that was guaranteed to convert every visitor who came to the site? Eric: Okay. Now, you’re going to tell me you’re the magical genie who can grant me these wishes. Brian: That is what it says on my business card. Eric: It seems like you could do pretty well in either situation, but I bet you have a point of view on this, don’t you? Brian: I’m glad you asked. If I had a website that converted every visitor, I can get it to rank number one for everything. And as an SEO, I’m probably not supposed to say this, but if you can’t convert visitors to your site, you don’t have anything to optimize. Eric: But you seem to think that converting customers in itself will lead to better SEO results? Brian: No, not so directly as that. Eric: But if you’re satisfying 100% of visitors, you’re probably creating some excellent signals for relevance and overall user experience that maybe Google would be interested in. Brian: Right, and SEO gives us an interesting lens to look at user experience through. Eric: It is certainly what Google is trying to optimize for. They want to send users to what they think is the best experience for them. Brian: Yes, and if you think about how they’re doing that over time, using human ratings to feed their machine learning algorithms, then over time, they may come up with some very interesting signals that we wouldn’t necessarily think of as traditional SEO factors. Eric: That’s certainly possible. But as SEOs, how do you think we should best use that information? Brian: I think there are two parts to answering that question. First of all, we can look to the Google results themselves to get clues about what elements Google thinks are important for answering user needs for a particular query. Eric: That’s where something like our semantic content optimization tool, that analyzes content on the top-ranking pages compared to yours and tells you what your page might be missing, would actually come in really handy. Brian: Exactly, those are the pages that Google thinks are doing the best job of providing relevant answers to the largest percentage of user needs. Ideally, you’d go beyond what they’re doing, but you don’t want to just copy your competition. Eric: Got it. It’s hard to beat the competition if all you’re doing is copying them. Brian: Right, but it’s good to know what your starting point should be. Eric: Didn’t you say there was a second consideration related to how SEO should respond to Google optimizing the results for user experience? Brian: Yes, I did say that. Eric: Are you testing me here, Brian, or what? Brian: Exactly, Eric, user testing. Now, would you say that you just had a bad experience? Eric: Yes, I might say that. Brian: Okay, that’s excellent feedback. I won’t give any more passive aggressive answers. Eric: So, user testing. Brian: Yes, doing user testing for conversion rate, bounce rate and time on site—on the one hand, it’s just basic due diligence at this point, given the impact it can have on revenue. But I think it also can help to avoid some of the SEO pitfalls for those not-so-obvious indicators that Google may start using over time, through developing their own user testing and machine learning operation. If users love your site, you definitely have a better chance of Google seeing it as a user-friendly destination. Eric: Of course, that user engagement will create signals that Google does pick up on over the long run. Brian: For sure. Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

  • Perficient Digital's Eric Enge

    You’ve heard that content is king, but today, content is more important than ever. Here’s why. Content is king. It’s still king and it hasn’t really changed. And today, I’m going to show you three case studies that will show you that content is more king than it’s ever been.  Note: Our future videos will start publishing on Perficient Digital channel, please subscribe to Perficient Digital channel Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why, click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Content is king. It’s still king and it hasn’t really changed. And today, I’m going to show you three case studies that will show you that content is more king than it’s ever been. I’m going to start though by talking a little bit about Google’s algorithm updates over the past 14-16 months. I’m currently showing a chart for you that shows all the major updates that were called “core algorithm updates” by Google. It turns out that these updates all had a certain number of things in common. There seemed to be a pretty big focus on user intent and better understanding of user intent. They were looking to lower the rankings of poorer quality content and raise the rankings of higher quality content. But another element of it that I felt really emerged is a much bigger emphasis on the depth and breadth of your content. So, with that in mind, I want to jump into the case studies and show you some data. Here’s the first case study. This is in the addiction marketplace. The first chart shows the publishing volume of one particular vendor in that marketplace. You can see that there are wild fluctuations, but at times we’re talking about hundreds of actual new pieces of content being published every month, some months as high as 700. So, that’s the first data point. Second data point: Let’s look at the rate at which this site was adding links, that you see in this chart here. The linked volume begins to grow rapidly around the same time as the content volume started growing. And now for our third chart. This is the SEO visibility from Searchmetrics. You see that that begins to accelerate rapidly in May of 2017. So, it’s very interesting to see the correlation between the rapid content growth, the rapid linked growth, and how it drove massive changes in traffic to this particular site. Now let’s look at case study two. This one’s in the career space. And again, I’m going to start with a chart on the publishing volume for this particular company. The volume was actually moderately heavy in 2017, running about 45ish pieces of content a month. That’s pretty significant—one and a half pieces a day on average. But in January of 2018, this scaled into many hundreds of pieces of content per month. So, now let’s look at the “rate of links added” chart for this particular company. Here you see that the links did not really scale until you got into around March and April of 2018, when it has a really sharp spike. Now, what that sharp spike is actually showing us is: it turns out that that was due to a redirect of another domain to this particular domain, and so a lot of links transferred very instantaneously, if you will. Let’s look at the traffic chart for this particular company. The traffic actually scaled very rapidly after the links took off in May of 2018. What I like about this case study is that it shows us that the content publishing at a volume where the links aren’t really growing isn’t going to do much for you. You need to create lots of great content. It’s a key part of the picture, but if you don’t promote it effectively, you’re not going to get the right results. Let’s look at case study number three. This one is a consumer retail sales site. Let’s start with the publishing volume chart. This site has been adding content at a heavy volume for a very sustained period of time—it’s consistently in the thousands per month. Now let’s look at the rate of links added for this chart. This doesn’t have as sharp a spike as the second example I showed, or even as dramatic growth as the first example. Yet you do see that links are being added steadily over time built on top of a very strong base. Now let’s look at the traffic for this one. This is actually the SEO visibility chart again from Searchmetrics. In this particular case, the SEO visibility started at a very high level, but you get continuous steady growth over time, as supported by the strength of their publishing program and the rates at which they’re adding links. I have two more charts for you before we wrap up. This chart is data from a company called serpIQ that shows the correlation between ranking in Google and length of content. You’ll see from this chart there’s a clear bias for Google to rank longer form content. Now, before we go off and say that every page should have tons of content on it, it’s very dependent on the context. There are plenty of pages where you don’t need a long-form article. I’m not saying every piece of content or every page on your site needs to have a mass of text on it. That’s not the point. But from the point of view of informational content, it’s very clear that longer form is better And then another chart. This one’s from HubSpot. This data shows that longer form content actually earns more links. Now you can see how I’m making the connection here and drawing all the pieces together. One last chart. This one’s a bonus chart from a

  • Perficient Digital's Eric Enge and Google's Martin Splitt discussing digital marketing related topics

    Google made an announcement at Google I/O in early May of 2019 that Googlebot is now evergreen. What does it mean for the search community? In this episode of the popular Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge, together with Google’s Martin Splitt, explains of the new evergreen Googlebot in search including rendering hash URLs, <div> tags, and infinite scroll.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Eric: Hey, everybody. My name is Eric Enge and today I’m excited to bring to you Martin Splitt, a Google Webmaster trends analyst based out of Zurich, I believe. Martin: Yes. Eric: Say hi, Martin. Martin: Hello, everyone. Very nice to be here. Thank you very much, Eric, for the opportunity to be a guest here as well. And yes, I am, in fact, based in Zurich. Eric: Awesome. Great. Today, we want to talk a little bit about what happened to Google I/O related to the announcement that Googlebot became evergreen, which means that it will be on an ongoing basis on the latest version of Chrome— in this case, Chrome 74, for right now. So, what are some of the things that that means, and what are some of the things that still won’t be supported as a result of this move? Martin: What it means is that we now support many, many features. I think it’s 1,000 features or so that haven’t been supported beforehand. I think most notably, ES 2015 or ES 6, and onwards. We have now upgraded to a modern version of JavaScript. A lot of language features are now supported by default; a bunch of new web APIs is supported, such as the intersection observer or the web components APIs version, one of which is the stable ones. That being said, there is a bunch of stuff that just doesn’t make sense for Googlebot and that we continue not to support. To give you examples, there is the service worker. We’re not supporting that because users clicking onto your page from the search result might never have been there beforehand. So, it doesn’t make sense for us to run the service worker who is basically caching or which is basically caching data for later visits. We do not support things that have permission requests such as webcam or the geolocation API or push notifications. If those block your content, Googlebot will decline these requests, and if that means that your content doesn’t show up, it means that Googlebot doesn’t see your content either. Those are the most important ones. Also, Googlebot is still stateless. That means we’re still not supporting cookies, session storage, local storage or IndexedDB across page load. So, if you wanna store data in any of these mechanisms, that is possible, but it will be cleared out before the next URL or the next page comes on. Eric: Got it. There are some other common things that I’ve seen that people do that maybe you could comment on. I’ll give you three. One is putting or having URLs that have hash marks in them and rendering that as separate content. Another one is infinite scroll, and then a third one is links, implemented as <div> tags. Martin: All of the examples you gave us, we have very good reasons not to implement. The hash URLs—the issue there is that you’re using a hack. The URL protocol was not designed to be used that way. The hash URL— the fragments these bits with a hash in front of them—they are supposed to be a part of the page content and not different kinds of content. Using hash URLs will not be supported still. Using links in things that are not links, like buttons or <div> tags or anything else, would still not be supported because we’re not clicking on things—that’s ridiculously expensive and also a very, very bad accessibility practice. You should definitely use proper links. What was the third one? Eric: Infinite scroll. Martin: Yes, infinite scroll is a different story. Googlebot still doesn’t scroll, but if you’re using techniques such as the Intersection Observer that we are pointing out in our documentation, I highly recommend using that and then you should be fine. You should still test it and we need to update the testing tools at this point. We’re working on that sooner rather than later. But generally speaking, lazy loading and infinite scroll is working better than before. Eric: One of the things that I believe is still true is that the actual rendering of JavaScript-based content is deferred from the crawl process. So, that also has some impact on sites. Can you talk about that? Martin: Yes. Absolutely. As you know, we have been talking about this last year as well as this year. Again, we do have a render queue. It’s not always easy to figure out when rendering is the culprit or when crawling is the culprit because you don’t see the difference necessarily or that easily. But basically, we are working on removing this separation as well, but there’s nothing to announce at this point. If you have a site that has a high-frequency change of content—let’s say, a news site where news stories may change every couple of minutes—then you are probably well off considering something like server-side rendering or dynamic rendering to get this content seen a little faster. If you are a site like an auction portal, you might want to do the same thing. Basically, if you have lots of pages—and I’m talking about millions—that content basically continuously changes. Then you probably want to consider an alternative to client-side rendering. Eric: Right. One of the things that used to be recommended was this idea of dynamic rendering. If you have one of these

  • Perficient Digital's Eric Enge and Jessica Peck

    Images SEO in visual search has been around for a long time, but why is it becoming more important to marketers?   In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Jess explains changes Google has made to their search result pages to show more visual content and how it may impact rankings.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources Google at 20: A Shift from Text to Images See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Eric: So, Jess, images SEO in visual search have been around for a long time. Why are they becoming more important now? What’s changed recently?  Jess: In a macro sense, the technology surrounding image hosting, image recognition, visual search, and that kind of thing has really improved. Image processing has become faster and you can get better quality images. And Google has noticed. In the “Next 20 Years of Google Search” post, Google signaled a switch from text to a more visual way of search. You can see this with their commitment to a much more visual mobile SERP (Search Engine Result Page).  Eric: A lot of these changes have happened over the last year. What changes have you seen most recently?  Jess: Some major changes have been with Google Lens, SERP experiments and changes, the Google Discover feed, and Google Collections.  Eric: Tell us about Google Lens.  Jess: Lens is Google’s built-in image recognition and search product. It’s accessible through the Google app and it lets you search for objects, image first. Say I want a version of a shirt—I can just take a picture of it on my phone and search for it online.  Eric: And we’ve also seen it in Discover and Collections. Both are services used by Google. Discover shows a feed of topics related to what the user’s interests are, and Collections lets the user save search results to boards. It’s kind of like Pinterest in that way. Both display search results with large visuals, titles, and then short amounts of text. They’re usually extremely visual-first, especially compared with traditional SERPs. So how is this showing up in the SERPs?  Jess: We’ve seen massive fluctuations in visuals in the SERP results. Image thumbnails, increased importance of images on the page, all that kind of thing. But the million-dollar question is, “Does this impact rankings?”  Eric: Probably. Maybe. Well, we don’t know directly, and we don’t know how much, especially when compared with other ranking factors. But recently, I did have a chance to talk with Bing’s Fabrice Canel, who confirmed the concept that a page with a high-quality relevant image on it could be seen as a higher-quality page, as a result. And as for Google, we know they also care about a user’s experience. Having relevant, well-optimized images can create a much better experience than just a big block of text. We do know that speed is a ranking factor and is clearly very important to Google. Won’t images slow down your page? Maybe that would impact rankings.  Jess: You can use good compression and next-gen image formats like WebP and JPEG 2000. But you can also think about the speed of the information making its way to the user. In that way, images are speed.  Eric: Can you explain?  Jess: You can explain what the Mona Lisa is in 1,000 words, or you can just show what the Mona Lisa looks like.  Eric: If images are important, how can publishers best implement images on their pages?  Jess: The usual rules for image optimization still apply. Make sure your images are a good size, that you use alt text correctly and accurately, and make sure that your images are a good quality. Beyond that, for speed, you can try implementing lazy loading while still making sure Googlebot can see your images. Try next-gen image formats and use unique images. And even run your images through the Google Image Recognition API to see if it sees what you want it to see.  Eric: Images can be useful in different ways for different niches. You have to think about how your images can be used, for users to find you—and then how they can help your user when they have found you. eCommerce sites, for example, should make sure their products are discoverable using a reverse image search. Financial pages should use images and visual storytelling to help their users understand their text, as well.  Jess: Yes, exactly. You can use images to stand out in the SERPs, help your users take advantage of visuals and take advantage of search features like Collections and Google Discovery.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

  • Google’s John Mueller confirmed that Google has not made use of rel=prev/next tags for some time. But should we still implement pagination? In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge explains why pagination is still important and how you should implement it.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources Pagination Canonicalization & SEO: Your Technical Guide See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript So recently, Google’s John Mueller tweeted that Google has not made use of rel=prev/next tags for some time. But my assessment is that the reason they did this is because the quality of the tagging web developers were using was probably poor on average. This is actually a parallel to what happened with rel=author tags back in 2014, when Google discontinued support for those. Back at that time, we actually did a study on how well those were implemented by people at the time. We’ll share that in the show notes below. This study shows that 71% of the sites with prominent readership made no attempt to implement authorship or implemented it incorrectly. Many of those who had implemented it didn’t understand exactly how to do it and they just got it wrong. That said, what should we do to support paginating page sequences now? If you have prev/next tags, you could still use them on your page if you want. Google won’t use them. Bing might use them—we don’t actually know for sure. But if you are going to keep them on your pages, make sure they are implemented correctly. You do have to take the time to learn how to follow the specs carefully and get it right. Putting aside the prev/next tags for a moment, let’s think about how you should implement pagination otherwise on your page. Our first preference is to implement that pagination in clean HTML tags that are visible in the source code for the pages on your site—something that is easy for the search engines to parse. The second choice would be to implement it in a way that isn’t clinging to the source code, but you can actually see it in the DOM or the Document Object Model. That means that your links are going to be anchor tags with a valid href attribute, not span or button elements with attached JavaScript click events. Paginated pages should also canonical to themselves—that’s a good reinforcing signal. These are the things that you need. The reason why this is still important is that pagination is something that still matters to users. If you’ve got 200 products in a particular category, you probably don’t want to show 200 products on one single page. Breaking that up into many pages is actually a very good way to make the content more parsable and readable and usable for users. This is really why pagination is still important. But make sure you get that pagination implemented the correct way as I’ve outlined in today’s video. Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

  • Consumers want accurate, reliable, easy-to-understand information. Can they trust your content? In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Eric Enge explains why It matters who creates your brand content.  Publishing Note: Starting with episode #215 scheduled to publish on May 20th, the series will feature Eric Enge and a variety of select industry guests. After episode #215, the publish schedule will be every other week. Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Mark: Eric, why do we always say that our content needs to be created by subject matter experts? Eric: That’s a great question, Mark. I think the big key is understanding what the content is being used for. At Perficient, our focus is usually on developing content for content marketing purposes, to build our reputation, increase our rankings in search, and increase our audience. With all those things in mind, you have to realize that the kind of thing we’re trying to do is really thought leadership oriented. You can’t just expect anybody to create that content for you. You need someone who actually knows the topic really well, or else our audience won’t accept it. Mark: You’re saying you should never use just copywriters? Eric: First of all, not exactly. I mean, there are plenty of good roles for copywriters. There’s maybe a lot of content on your site which is really simple, product descriptions or something like that, where you don’t need a true subject matter expert. I think the big key, in that case, is to give them the time to research the topic and be able to write intelligent stuff about whatever they’re addressing. But you can’t expect them to do thought leadership level content in whatever your marketplace is. You can’t just give someone 60 minutes of time, and suddenly, they’re a leading expert on the topic. It really doesn’t work that way, but there are still many ways to leverage the skills of copywriters. Mark: Okay. Can you give an example where SME, subject matter expert level writers are required? Eric: Sure. One is, if you’re trying to build a section in your site, like a content hub with thought leadership level advisory content. These really work best if you answer common user questions and address their needs related to whatever your market space is. This typically requires a pretty high level of expertise to execute really, really well, particularly if you want to create a resource that others might actually link to. So, this might be a wide array of great, helpful articles or a video series, like “Here’s Why”. Hmm, that sounds like a great idea! Or user surveys or other types of research. This level of content really requires a subject matter expert level of, well, expertise. Mark: Okay. How about another example? Eric: If you engage in some level of off-site content marketing–so for example, I publish regularly on Search Engine Land, a column. This provides great visibility for our brand, which is awesome, but Search Engine Land isn’t going to let me publish on their site unless I know something about the topic. So, this is a case where guest posting really makes sense. It’s good for visibility and really getting exposure to your target audience. You’ve got to use this tactic with care, though, because there can be too much of a good thing. So, focus your efforts on publishing in places that have sizable audiences, that are direct interest for your business to be in front of.   Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel

  • More and more people are comfortable interacting with devices using their voice. How does that change the world of marketing? In this episode of the award-winning Here’s Why digital marketing video series, Mark Traphagen shares key insights from Google on how voice assistance is changing our world.  Don’t miss a single episode of Here’s Why. Click the subscribe button below to be notified via email each time a new video is published. Subscribe to Here’s Why Resources See all of our Here’s Why Videos | Subscribe to our YouTube Channel Transcript Eric: Mark, usually I’m the one talking about the rise of digital personal assistants and voice interactions with devices, but you had the opportunity to cover a keynote session on this topic at SMX West. Share with us what you learned. Mark: We heard from Marco Lenoci, who’s the head of Google Product Partnership for the Google Assistant product, and he not only shared with us what Google Assistant can do now and what they’re working on for the future, but also the implications of the rise of voice assistance for search marketers. Eric: I think one of the important things for people watching this show to be clear on is where we are with the volume of voice interactions with devices, which I call it rather than voice search, by the way, because it’s not all really search. We’re not at the point where voice has taken over the world yet, and it’s important to understand that, but by 2020, it should be a significant percentage, which might be 5% or 10% of interactions with devices. That’s enough to matter to a lot of brands, and if you’re going to be ready for that, you have to get going on it now. With that context, why don’t you go over some of the implications? Mark: Okay, the things Marco shared with us. So, he gave us five key insights at the end of his talk, and that’s what I want to concentrate on. I think one of the most important things is that we’re seeing that voice is about action. You said it before, it’s not all search, and that’s true. In fact, Google data shows that there’s 40 times more action-oriented interactions in voice than in search. So, people using voice with devices are about doing things, getting things done. It’s not about finding the coffee, which is what you would be looking for on search, but ordering the coffee and expecting it to be ready when you arrive at the coffee shop. So, start to think about the actions your customers want to take: less passive discovery, more action to completion. People also expect more conversations with their devices. In fact, Google data shows 200 times more conversations going on in voice assistance and voice-assisted devices than in search. So, this means we’re moving from keywords to something more dynamic. Keywords are still important, search is still so important, but in this world… Well, let me give you an example. Doing a traditional search, you’d be searching for something like ‘weather’, and then your zip code, right? But now, we’d ask things to a voice-assisted device or a digital personal assistant like, “Do I need an umbrella today?” We expect that device to understand, when we say, “Do I need an umbrella today?”, I’m asking a question about the weather. There’s also an expectation that the location is understood. Your device knows where you are, so the assistant should know where you are, and what time of day it is, and as I said, that ‘an umbrella’ implies, “Is it going to rain today?” Marco told us that there are actually 5,000 ways users can ask for an alarm to be set on Google Assistant, just as an example. Also, he told us that smart screens are changing everything, and by smart screens, we mean devices that interact by voice but still have a display of some type. Google says that nearly half of the people who are using voice also use touch input on a screen together with it. So some things still need to be seen. We still live in a multi-modal world. That’s the way we interact as humans. That’s the way we expect these devices to interact. The fourth insight is that daily routines matter. These devices are becoming more and more able to know things like the time of day, where I am, this is what I’d usually be doing that time of day. For example, this is the time I usually drive home, so do I want to hear my favorite podcast? Developers need to be thinking in terms of day and time to be there when users need them most. The concept of micro-moments in marketing takes on a whole new context in this. The fifth and final insight is that voice is universal. We already know how to do it. Keyboards and tapping are still not totally natural for humans. Voice is. Eric: Yes, that’s really interesting, and some of the research that I dug up in my investigations into voice shows just how universal voice is. People don’t realize, for example, that a baby in a mother’s womb can recognize the mother’s voice as distinct from other voices. So, it’s actually something that’s innate. Anyway, cool insights overall. What practical actions should we be taking as digital marketers? Mark: Lenoci shared three takeaways. The first is, show up. Be there. Be involved with this. Make sure your content, services, and apps are available on Google and across its various services, including developing things for Google Assistant, like we’ve been doing at Perficient Digital, and Amazon Alexa, and all these different things that we’re working with now. The second is, speed up. Don’t just create experiences. Think about the micro-moments where you can assist. So, “I want to know, I want to play, I want to buy this, I want to go here,” being present at those


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