In 2018, Perficient acquired Stone Temple Consulting, an award-winning Boston-based $9 million annual revenue digital marketing agency. Read more about the acquisition here, and below you’ll find blog posts by our digital marketing experts from Stone Temple.
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 google.com 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
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
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 …
ADA compliance and web accessibility are more serious than you likely know. Consider this scenario: You or one of your clients suddenly receives a letter stating that the website you administer is not ADA compliant and you’re facing litigation. Facing litigation? Now what! The best course of action is to proactively review your website for ADA compliance and ensure that it is accessible to people with disabilities before you get into trouble. The level of compliance necessary is outlined in the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) 2.0 (available here). These guides are quite detailed, but it will help you fully comply with the law and insulate your company from litigation because it’s comprehensive. A good place to start for website ADA compliance and accessibility is to use the following: Check the current state of your website accessibility with tools like WAVE wave.webaim.org and the Google Lighthouse tool (available in the Chrome browser) Ensure that all images have descriptive alt text Provide closed captioning on any videos your site may have Provide text transcripts of any video or audio only files Give users the ability to pause, stop or hide any automated content like email signups Use simpler design, be sure the website isn’t overly complex and provide options for adjustments to size/color of text and content Be sure your website supports keyboard navigation (think navigation between elements with arrows and tab keys) Provide support features so a person with a disability can contact the webmaster and receive a response Be sure any forms on your website have instructions for their use and that each form element is labeled with clear and understandable text Also, use the id and label HTML elements on form items Once the above checklist has been followed, it is advisable to have a legal professional review your website in light of the WCAG 2.0 guidelines.
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
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
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