If you are a content marketer, blogger or writer, you’ll be happy to hear that there have been five recent SEO changes that will play to your strengths.
Google made these changes for two reasons: selfish reasons and selfless reasons.
It is selfish because these changes will keep more people on Google’s products. Not a bad thing from a business standpoint, but from a user standpoint some of these changes impact search negatively:
It is selfless because Google is trying to deliver more content that is based on personal signals. They are trying to take advantage of the fact that people are more likely to read or buy something if they see a friend likes it too.
Whatever the reason for these changes is, this is really good news for anyone who makes a living creating content. Let me show you the changes and the simple ways in which you can leverage each one.
Optimize personalized search
Google has changed the SEO game by delivering personal results. This, of course, means that when you search for “social media tools”, you will get different results from me. The factors that influence these results are several:
- Google personalized search must be turned on – This is done by default. If you want to turn this off, you have two options. Simply sign out or click on the globe icon in the upper right corner.
- Your web browsing history – Google stores your browsing history and then uses that information to dictate what kind of content it will serve up based upon your search term.
- Your content – If you are an online content author, then Google will deliver your relevant content for a search.
- Content shared by your social circles – Including you.
These factors dramatically change the landscape. In fact, this pretty much ruins everything Google has attempted to do when it comes to organic search. No doubt it is a bold and risky move, but Google understands that the search landscape is changing.
People are searching less and discovering more from content on the social web thus the emphasis on search signals such as the number of tweets.
What are some of the steps you should take to optimize your content for personalized search?
- Increase your Google+ circles – It was no accident that Google launched Search Plus You World and their social network close together in time. The goal is to get people to sign up for Google+ and then have them make their circles larger. The more people you have in your circles, the higher in rankings relevant content will show up on a Google search.
- Your Circles see your content – Content related to people in your Circles will get top spots when people search. You can see the impact this has by using Google’s Ripple.
- Drive more traffic to your site – When someone visits your site, Google then connects your site with that visit and then will deliver relevant content from your site to that person next time they search. When Google brings back the “Block Site” feature, naturally this won’t happen if someone hits your site, bounces out and then blocks it.
Increase social sharing
Another way in which you as a content creator can dominate the search rankings with your content is to get more and more social shares.
A study by branded3 proved the connection between tweets to a particular URL and its ranking. Their results showed:
- 50 tweets or fewer – Not sure how much, but URLs received benefit in rankings with 50 tweets or fewer, but those benefits declined after that.
- 5,000 tweets – There’s a huge jump for a page that gets an average of 5,000 tweets. This would be content that goes viral on Mashable, BuzzFeed or Copyblogger.
- 7,500 tweets – When a page gets 7,500 or more tweets, it can easily show up in the top five SERPs on Google.
Here’s a quick snapshot of ranking positions based upon tweets:
No doubt it makes sense: if you have a page that’s got over 1,000 tweets, it’s going to do a lot better than a similar page in content that only has 40 tweets.
This is probably true as well with other social networks too, e.g, Facebook. What this means to you as a content creator who wants to rank high is that you need to increase the number of shares your content is getting.
Here are some tactics to help you:
- Make the social sharing buttons obvious – Your readers should never have to search for your social sharing buttons. Make them easy to find using a social sharing plug in that scrolls alongside the content. The other place to include buttons is at the end of the article.
- Encourage your readers to share – If you don’t come out and ask, then you may miss out on a lot of opportunities. Telling people what to do will boost your shares. For example, Dan Zarella did a study of re-tweets with “please RT”. Tweets with the call to action to RT generated four times as many retweets as tweets without those words.
- Engage influencers – Make a connection with a social media influencer, do lots of favors for them and then ask them to share your content. How do you get their attention? Here are some tactics:
- Post round-ups – Write a blog post that rounds up social influencer’s content and share it. Eventually they’ll see your efforts and reward you.
- Do a guest post – If you can land a great guest posting gig that a lot of influencers read, they’ll likely tweet your stuff and may even follow you.
- Interviews – Conducting interviews with social media influencers is a great way to get to know these people.
Employ semantic keyword research
As Google gets better at segmenting search, you’ll have more opportunities to rank higher and higher in verticals, which always leads to higher conversion rates since your prospects are better qualified.
This means that you need to look for “advanced search” keywords. The procedure is pretty simple. Let me show you.
When you perform a search, you can refine results with advanced search tool tucked away in the “Show search tools” in the right-hand column:
Your next step is to click “related searches”…
Here, you’ll get a boat load of related topics for your search query:
As you can see above, Google is giving you semantic options. Grab these keywords and start checking search volume with Google’s Keyword tool.
Another easy tool you can use is Google Instant, which gives you even more choices than “advanced search”:
Finally, make your keyword list better through Google Insights for Search. This tool will allow you to narrow keywords down via categories, for instance.
If you want to learn more about semantic search and keywords, check out these articles:
- How to Improve Your Rankings with Semantic Keyword Research
- The 3-Step Process to Creating an Effective and Profitable Keyword Plan
- How to Create Smarter Content Using Semantic Keyword Research
Play with the Panda update
For spammers and content farms, Google’s Panda update was a nightmare. It was meant to penalize sites with low-quality content, and it came down hard.
The upside is that those who are willing to create long-form blog posts that are detailed and useful will be rewarded.
To help content creators create this kind of content, Google issued a blog post that recommended you to think like a Google engineer and asked questions to determine the value of your content.
Since then, I’ve created several blog posts that will help you create this kind of content:
- How to Write SEO-Friendly Blog Posts with These 13 Questions
- Neil Patel’s Guide to Writing Popular Blog Posts
- Neil Patel’s Guide to Blogging
- How to Write a Blog Post
Implement the Google Authorship Markup
There’s no denying it: rich snippet will increase SERP CTR and traffic. And search marketing firm Catalyst proved it.
Here’s their analytics from their test (the arrow is when the rich snippet started to show up in results):
If you have a hard time seeing, let me tell you that this amounted to a 150% increase!
Although the results may vary, you can implement the Google’s authorship snippet and benefit from the same kinds of results.
This is what it looks like:
Not only does my profile show up, but the number of people in my Google+ network and a link to see “More by Neil Patel” also do.
Google is still perfecting this feature, so it is not predictable or consistent. You may implement it and see results on some posts but not others or not see any results for a week or two. It’s also somewhat complicated to set up. That’s why I tried to create a simple guide to Google Authorship Markup.
Despite the drawbacks, it’s worth investing the time to set it up because adoption of this feature is slow. That means you will definitely stand out in search results. In fact, only one out of five searches is delivering the rel=author in top 100 results.
I think it is a really great time to be a content marketer! Even though we still have issues with people plagiarizing, for the most part those who dominated the search engines with shallow content are no longer a threat.
Plus, the Google Authorship Markup is going to be really hard for brands to adopt since it is geared toward individual authors, which means you can be a David and fight the Goliath and beat him!
What other recent SEO changes benefit content marketers?