Category Archives: blog

The SERPs are Dead; Long Live the SERPs

At their core, search engines are answer machines.  Where once your search engine would provide results directing you to a potential list of answers, search engines today provide you with the answer themselves without the need to click through to a site. To add to this, often that answer comes in more than one format which takes up screen real estate above the fold, that area visible before you scroll down. Now, even if you’ve followed the tenants of organic search engine optimization (SEO) and rank first, your site may not appear above the fold.

The dawn of the search engine and its use once involved a simple process – enter a word in the search bar, get results that related to the search word. Pretty straight forward. If your website had keywords embedded in the site’s copy or its code, and was optimized to be discovered by an amorphous search genie, that site had a chance of ranking high on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

This simple search function spawned a multi-billion industry that didn’t exist 25 years ago – Search Engine Optimization (SEO). The art of SEO has evolved into a science involving complex textual relationships based on equations that most wouldn’t recognize unless they were a mathematician. And, there are multiple components that must be considered to rank high on SERP.

In the 90s when search engines first came in to play there were a number of choices like Excite, AltaVista, Webcrawler, and Yahoo Directories. Today, the de facto search engine is Google which has triple the monthly visitors of the next largest engines, Bing and Yahoo. And, arguably, Google largely dictates the tempo and direction of online search methodologies.

In the past, organic results were the first thing we saw on the page, those natural results generated based on a series of metrics that determines their relevance to the searched term or sentence. Now, often your screen’s real estate above the fold will include sponsored listings, a Knowledge Graph, Quick Answer, map, video or news results.

Today you complete with a number of new features to rank above the fold on page one. The Quick Answer is popular one. Let’s say that you are a platypus marine biologist trying to capture attention to the plight of the unique creature and want people to come to your website that offers information on and takes donations for platypus survival. Type in “what is a platypus” and the first thing you will see in your results is a box with the definition of platypus. If someone is marketing and selling these duck-billed beaver like wonder as stuffed animals you may even see a paid listing under the Quick Answer box with a little box that reads “Ad” next to the listing (an Adwords feature). On the right side of the page you will likely see what is called a Knowledge Graph. This feature provides pictures of, facts about, and types of platypuses. Your screen is filled with a wealth of information. If there is a brew pub in your city called the Platypus Bar a map identifying the pub’s location may be the first think listed on the SERP. In short, your site championing this mammal may not be visible above the fold and your efforts to raise money for a platypus sanctuary may go unnoticed.

Why isn't my website ranking?


So, what does it take to get listed in that prime screen real estate?

The behind the scenes of a single search today involves a process that includes a semantic network of over 570 million objects and more than 18 billion facts about the relationships between different objects that are used to understand the meaning of the keywords, phrase or sentence entered in the search bar, and that’s just the computational figures behind the Knowledge Graph.

In order to assure that your company, product, or brand is seen throughout the web, you can no longer rank first organically and call it a day. You must tailor build the content on your site to better rank in Quick Answers. All relevant information must be wrapped in structured data in order to make sure the Knowledge Graph displays the most accurate data available. Your Local SEO must be strong, reinforced with geographical based Keywords in order to rank well in Maps. An ever evolving Pay-Per-Click campaign should be developed and implemented in order dominate as many search queries as possible. Proper Social Media profiles should be built, maintained, and optimized to further increase your web visibility and increase your odds of a conversion. If you sell products online, your E-Commerce SEO needs to be on point to help products themselves appear in the SERPs and Google Shopping alike.

Today, it takes a team of professionals to ensure you are visible above the fold in search engines. Being number one is no longer good enough. Your brand must be Michael Phelps and have a gold medal in everything in order to compete in the digital marketing landscape.

Remarketing 101

More and more, clients are asking about remarketing and all of its glory. They hear about the power of remarketing, but they don’t know exactly what it does. Simply put, remarketing is an assortment of strategies used to connect with audiences who are already interested in your products or service, have been to your site, or have visited your competitor’s site. Remarketing targets audiences who have a high potential of converting. Using incentives, the goal of these campaigns are to get highly relevant audiences to your site to either sign up for your service or buy your product. When used correctly, these strategies have been known to be very effective.

Remarketing 101

There are several different types of strategies Remarketing can often refer to. The first is “standard remarketing”. This type of remarketing targets audiences who’ve actually visited your site and left without converting into sales or leads. These are people who’ve found in a search and clicked on your ad. They spent time on your site, looking at different pages, and then they left. Another version of remarketing is known as “re-targeting”. This strategy targets audiences who’ve not yet been to your site but have visited your competitor’s site. Similar to this option of audiences, you have “in-market targeting” and “affinity retargeting”. In-market refers to people who’ve looked for products similar to yours in search over the last 60 days. Affinity targeting refers to audiences who have a long term interest in your product or service. Ads show to these individuals in form of text ads, image ads, and video ads.

Remarketing ad-copies can be displayed in a variety of places. Using Google’s Display Network, remarketing ads can show up in search results, on designated websites of similar interest, and even on YouTube. Considered as “video remarketing”, specific YouTube ads act as commercials that play prior to selected videos on YouTube. This type of ad can play anywhere from 10 seconds to a full minute. They possess a call-to-action or custom incentive, and when clicked on, they transition the audience right to your website allowing them to convert. Using a variation of these ad-copies will allow you to reach a larger target audience.

Remarketing is one of the strongest forms of PPC available. Targeting audiences who have a certain level of interest in your market creates a great opportunity for conversion. These ads are also often cheaper to run than traditional keyword based advertisements. Pairing both search and remarketing ads is a great way to recapture audiences who are likely to convert on your site. During your next PPC meeting consider discussing this with your PPC expert.

Quick and Easy SEO Tips for Small Businesses

For many the mystery of SEO can seem complex and foreign. If you are running a small business you may feel that SEO is too much for you to tackle on your own, and too expensive to hire out for. We are happy to say that SEO does not need to be complicated. Even more so, utilizing the SEO strategies laid out below can have a truly large impact on your small business.

  1. Make sure you set up a Google My Business Account and claim your physical address if you serve people locally. This will allow you the potential to appear in local search results when users near you are searching for your type of business. It’s also best to fully optimize fill out everything when setting this up. 

    SEO Tips

  2. Make sure your website is mobile friendly. There are many simple plugins for different CMS’ that can allow you to do this simply and fairly quickly.

  3. Utilize Google Search Console. This is a free tool offered by Google that will keep you updated on your website’s performance in Google Search and any errors the Google bots come across. You can get started here:

  4. Keep up with Industry News. Things can change rapidly within the SEO world. Find a few SEO blogs such as Search Engine News and Search Engine Land and follow the newest trends and updates, to ensure that your website is in compliance.

  5. Maintain a Blog and Fresh Content. Relevant, fresh content can help you rank for your targeted keywords. Make sure you are not just creating content for SEO purposes, but that the content is useful and interesting to the readers of your website. It should also help answer the questions they have (the search intent). If you do decide to start and maintain a blog, make sure you update it at least once a month.

  6. Use a clear URL structure on your website. Visitors should be able to have a strong idea of what the page is about by looking at the URL.
    1. Good Example:
    2. Bad Example:

  7. Utilize internal linking to better optimize your website. Linking internally between relevant topics and themes on your website is not only helpful for Google and other search engines to understand what your website is about, but also helpful to users as they navigate their way through the website.

  8. Install and utilize Google Analytics for your website. This free tool from Google will show you all of the different traffic types, and how much of it, is coming into your website. It also reveals different locations visitors are coming from, the keywords they use to find the website in the SERPs and which pages on the website are getting the most traffic. You can also set up goal and conversion tracking to see how effective different forms and other items are on the website. You can get started here:

  9. Encourage Reviews on Google My Business, Facebook and Yelp. Reviews not only help to drive conversions, but they also help with your local visibility in the Google Map Pack and SERPs. seo12

  10. Write a unique title tag for every page. Try and naturally incorporate keyword phrases related to the page.



It’s all about micro moments!

blog 2

So obviously your first question is: “what is a micro moment?”  To keep it simple, a micro moment is when an individual instinctively turns to a device, and more often than not these days it is a mobile device (better known to some of us as that thing that rules our lives), for an immediate answer to their needs. This can be a simple as finding the answer to a random question that came up during girl’s night, to a more impactful example of “nearest pizza place.” Micro moments are rapidly shaping the means by which decisions are being made by consumers, and preferences are being shaped.

So your second question might be: “why is this important to my business?” To be blunt, you need to be the company that is found when users make these searches. They are asking the question, and you need to make sure your company and online resources are answering those questions. With over 2 billion (that’s right I said billion) searches a day on Google, you can’t afford to be lost in the crowd. You company needs to stand out for all the right reasons. Micro moments demand immediate results. These need to know now users are changing the game of online searches with their need for instant gratification. They want information that will feed their hunger for knowledge, and this doesn’t always promote brand loyalty. This doesn’t mean your brand means nothing, but rather than picking a name because we know it, we are now picking the name because it is loyal to our needs as consumers.

It is more important now than ever to make sure your information shows up at the right place at the right time. It is vital that content put forth by a company not only be accurate, but that it satisfy the user to the point that you can increase your bottom line. Micro moments are intent driven actions. Think of it this way, “I want what I want, when I want it!” To capitalize on micro moments, one must be readily available with the right information.  Your online platforms must provide the answer to the question, whether it be a website, or social media platform, it is vital that you utilize all of the tools at your disposal for this ideal to work.

blog pic

A.I. Is Taking Over: RankBrain’s Prominent Future at Google

Google’s created a machine learning program called RankBrain which was incorporated into Google’s algorithm in 2015.  You may be asking what exactly machine learning is and if so, you are not alone.  Machine learning is when a machine actually teaches itself how to do something rather than being taught by a human.  It presents a great opportunity for Google to make the search results for you even better and that is why we should all care.

What exactly is RankBrain then and what is it doing for Google?  There are snippets of information available about RankBrain but there are also many things that not only we but also Google doesn’t fully even understand.  Google has explained some of the reasons for adding this to its algorithm but we still have a lot to learn.  For one, there are many searches that happen that Google is never able to actually review.  With this particular A.I. it gives Google the opportunity to review the quality of those searches without having a person on the Google team engage with the results.  Next, it provides the chance for you to actually be rewarded for having the best information about your product or service because it can compare you against the competition and give you a ranking based off what the A.I. has learned on your specific subject.

RankBrain was already a very prominent part of the algorithm with reports saying that it is the third most important part of the algorithm and it looks like that is only going to become more important.  The previous Head of Search at Google Amit Singhal recently retired after helping shape Google for the last 15 years.  He is being replaced by John Giannandrea who was previously the head of artificial intelligence at Google.  The two divisions are merging to become one moving forward.  All signs point to Mr. Giannandrea further integrating artificial intelligence and RankBrain into the search algorithm.  How will this continue to evolve, adapt, and refine search results?  Only time will tell but it is a safe bet that John Giannandrea has plans for his A.I.’s future at Google.

AdWords Quality Score Can Now Be Reverse-Engineered

Having a high Quality Score is key when it comes to maximizing AdWords results. Previously it has been very difficult to work with Quality Score, as Google has not easily allowed you to diagnose all of the factors that make up Quality Score.

Recently Google changed its API making this possible, so we would like to share some valuable insights into Quality Score factors.

Why a high Quality Score is crucial?

Quality Score, ad extensions metrics, and your bid, is how Google determines your Ad Rank. Quality Score is the second biggest component of Ad Rank, with only your bid being more important.

When you raise your Quality Score, you can expect some of the following to happen:

  • Your average page position rises.
  • Your costs-per-click (CPCs) lowers.
  • Your CPCs decrease, and your average position rise.

You may also see your average page position increase and your average CPC lower, as you’re now beating a different company in the auction.

Overall, when you can’t raise your bid but you want to raise your average position, then the only thing you can do is increase your Quality Score.

The Quality Score factors

There are three main factors that make up Quality Score:

  • click-through rate (CTR),
  • ad relevance
  • keyword relevance
  • landing page experience.

Previously, it was very difficult (if not impossible) to see these factors for every keyword.

Reverse-engineering the Quality Score factors

Google recently launched the newest version of its API that allows optimizers to download each Quality Score factor individually. Along with its status (average, below average, above average) for every search keyword within the account. Meaning; we can now analyze (at scale) how Google weights the factors and determines the actual Quality Score.

To understand this formula, you need to understand how Google weight each factor. You can look at the table below to see how many points you get based upon your Quality Score factor and how good it is:

Landing Page Experience Ad Relevance CTR
Above average 3.5 2 3.5
Average 1.75 1 1.75
Below average 0 0 0


The formula is simply: 1 + Landing Page Experience weight + Ad Relevance weight + CTR weight.

For instance, let’s say you have these factors:

  • Landing Page Experience: average — 1.75 points
  • Ad Relevance: above average — 2 points
  • CTR: average — 1.75 points

Then your Quality Score is: 1 + 1.75 (LPE) + 2 (Relevance) + 1.75 (CTR) = 6.5. As Google doesn’t show fractions, this is rounded to a 7, which can be seen inside your API account.

Therefore, if you can improve your landing page experience or your CTR to above-average from average, your Quality Score would go up 1.75 points to an 8.25, which would be displayed as an 8.

Now that we know the weightings and the formula, we can also see the actual weightings. Meaning we can deconstruct, reverse engineer, and dial-in quality score like never before!

I Can’t Make You Love Me: Google’s Complicated Relationship with SEOs

Earlier this week, Google confirmed that they were removing their Toolbar PageRank Chrome extension, removing the information entirely from the public view. For most of us, the world will continue to spin. But even though the PageRank score has not been updated in years, it was an important litmus test in the SEO repertoire. This isn’t the only time an all-important tool was plucked from search engine marketer hands, either. Late last year, Google removed location settings in their search tools. The primary reason? It wasn’t being used enough by anyone other than SEOs. In fact, search tool filters have dropped from 9 to 2 over the last two years. You don’t have to live on Baker Street to notice a pattern…


Does Google hate SEOs?

The answer is yes.

Well… not really…

It’s complicated.

Strap on your billion dollar, self-driving Google shoes and think… What does your search engine do? Simply put, it provides the most relevant information based upon a search query. Now, what do SEOs do? They help sites rank better in Google. Sounds like these go hand in hand, right? In a perfect world, yes. Reputable SEOs (like your friends at SocialSEO) do this by improving the site as a whole. Creating unique, high quality content that reinforces highly researched keyword phrases, developing and implementing a robust link earning strategy, keeping your SEO knowledge up to date, improving the overall user experience through strong Web Design, posting on Social Media, developing a strong Pay-Per-Click strategy… These tweaks help sites rank strongly because they provide a better answer to a user’s question. Google likes this. Dare we say, Google loves this.

But we all can’t be as good as SocialSEO.

There’s a whole separate spectrum of the SEO world called Black Hat SEO. And Google does not like Black Hat SEO. Consider Black Hat strategies as SEO on steroids. This is not “on steroids” as in “espresso is coffee on steroids,” but more along the lines of “Lance Armstrong who?”. Basically, it’s against the rules, heavily frowned upon by the community, and while it can get you some short term gains, getting caught could wind up giving you a hefty penalty. Black Hats understand what Google likes. What makes their actions shady is how they go about getting it. Links are not earned, but purchased. Keywords aren’t integrated, but spammed. Black Hats take what they want instead of earning it. And that’s a no-no.

So does Google hate SEOs? The answer is yes. That’s because a good SEO isn’t really SEO at all, but more the proper way to build, nurture, and grow your website the way Google intends. So if you develop a strong, White Hat SEO strategy, or hire one of the best in the business, your site can naturally rank well, and you can find your happily ever after.

5 Tips to Create a Successful Facebook Ad Campaign

Have you heard of Facebook Advertising and want to start using it for your business?


Do you want to step up your game and make your ads perform more effectively?

With any social media ad campaign, there are hundreds of different approaches you can take.  Ads can be informative, engaging, funny, and interactive, but ultimately an ad is established to accomplish a set goal or objective.  That goal could be to increase your brands awareness, web traffic, video views, engagement, or even your audience following.  Whichever objective you choose for social media advertising, ensure that your objective is clear and is used to benefit your business in some way.

Below you will find 5 helpful tips on creating a successful Facebook ad campaign.  These tips are commonly used strategies and can help boost your overall ad performance.

#1 Customized Targeted Audience

With Facebook advertising it is possible to reach small or large audiences dependent on your target demographic.  To establish your target audience you can either use your current demographic statistics from your marketing department or utilize the custom audience tool within the Facebook Ads Manager.

Facebook ad campaign


If your Facebook business page has greater than 1,000 following fans, then you can see what demographic your page following has, or you can see everyone’s targeted interests on Facebook.  Choosing everyone on Facebook allows you to delve down into your target market by depicting different audience interests, behaviors and even lifestyle practices.  This will allow you to see the typical audience those specifics items attract.

Creating a Facebook Ad Campaign

You will then be able to see demographics, what pages the audience typically likes, where they are located, their current Facebook activity, household demographics as well as purchase behaviors.  By utilizing this it can help you establish a more accurate target market that already exist for your business and helps tailor your Facebook ads to an audience that is going to respond positively.

Once you establish your target market you can then test your ad campaign with different eye-catching ad copy.

#2 Ad Copy A/B Split Testing

Creating similar ads to your existing campaign can help you determine which ad copy and graphics your audience responds to the best.  By doing this, you can test different call-to-actions, photos, and eye-catching text.



Once you are able to determine a successful ad copy strategy, you will then be able to modify that strategy as needed throughout the campaign.  Ensure that you keep your text and photos fresh, so users don’t become bored or respond negatively to the ads.

#3 Synch your ads to Instagram

Not too long ago, Facebook bought Instagram which allowed for both channels to share the same advertising platform.  This allows marketers to utilize a two-for-one approach by having ads show up on both social media platforms.  Now, typically Instagram is not a platform for every business type, but it can be a beneficial asset.

#4 Don’t slack on graphics

Nobody wants to see a picture they can’t make out or understand.  Ensure your graphics are high-quality and relate to what it is you are trying to promote.  If you don’t have an established graphics history with your business, you can always utilize Facebook free stock images that is powered by Shutterstock.  This feature can be a lifesaver if your business or client does not have up-to-date marketing materials.


#5 Monitor progress with the Power Editor

Facebook’s ad performance tracking capabilities are far more advanced than other social media advertising platforms.  By utilizing the power editor you can see oodles of goodness like the age & gender your ads respond best to, how often the ads are shown per person, relevancy scores (similar to Google’s quality score), where the ads are being placed on what devices as well as regions or cities the ads are showing up in.  Not only are you able to decipher which demographic and devices your ads are performing best on, but it will also show you statistics like, avg. click through rates (CTR), cost per 1,000 impressions, how many page likes you received, and more.

The possibilities are endless when it comes to creating and maintaining a successful ad campaign.  Ensuring that you are utilizing these easy 5 tips is a great start at creating a successful Facebook ad campaign.  If you want help managing and growing your Facebook ad campaign, contact the social media marketing specialists at SocialSEO today.

Google Launches Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) – What This Means For Marketers

We’re only three months into the new year and Google continues to surprise us with changes that affect how we search on the internet.  In January, we caught wind of Google’s Core Ranking Algorithm update, in which we’re still anxiously awaiting the official roll out of Penguin 4.0. Also, just last week all of the ads on the right-hand side of search engine results vanished.  The latest change is completely focused on the mobile user experience.  Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) allow mobile users to quickly find information that they are searching for without being bombarded by ads and pop ups.  Google explained that their objective was to “dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web by creating open technical standards to boost page speed and streamline ads with hopes that the ecosystem can build a faster, more engaging mobile web that will benefit everyone.” (Search Engine Land)

As we all know, mobile usage has become more popular than desktop usage in recent months.  But this does not necessarily include using mobile devices to look at web results.  The internet has become so cluttered with advertisements and pop ups that users tend to search for information via apps instead of typing their search queries into Google.  “Only five percent of mobile media time is spent with the mobile web, according to the most recent data from Yahoo’s Flurry unit.” (Search Engine Land) In order to reverse this trend, Google started working on AMP back in October. AMP is structured in a way where ads cannot block page content and they “load about 4X faster and use 1/10 the data of pages not built in AMP.” This really fortifies the user experience on mobile phones.

Part of Google’s ranking algorithm takes into consideration whether a website is mobile-friendly and loads quickly.  If a website is not mobile-friendly and loads slowly, there is virtually no chance that it will show up among the top results.   Google is all about the user experience for the consumer.  AMP is heightening that experience even more by delivering these instant articles.  While AMP is not currently a ranking factor for Google, it would not be surprising if this changed in the future due to the increased user experience consumers will receive.

If you haven’t seen an AMP yet, check out the search query below for information on “gravitational waves” from Search Engine Land.  In the first photo, you will notice a carousel of AMP pages right at the top of the search engine results.  When you click on an AMP result, you will be brought to an article that fits your screen perfectly and is not being blocked by advertisements, as shown in the second and third pictures.


So now that you’ve been reading about Google’s new feature, how can you optimize your pages for a better user experience?  We won’t get down to the nitty-gritty on how to “AMP” your website, but here are a few basic principles behind the optimization process.

  • Maintain two versions of any article – original version and AMP version
  • AMP pages cannot contain contact forms, comments, any other submission forms
  • It is very likely that you’ll have to rewrite your website template to accommodate AMP restrictions to keep them within the loading speed guidelines
  • Follow AMP image size guidelines
  • Make sure your data markup is correct. “ meta data is a requirement to make your content eligible to appear in the demo of the Google Search news carousel.” (Search Engine Land)

AMP is still very new. Remember, it rolled out right at the end of February, so we will continue to see the project evolve to better suit users’ needs.  Currently, it does not support all pages and user experiences across the internet. AMP is primarily designed for publishing and content sites where users will find articles and news, but it is not optimized for e-commerce platforms yet.  Google has plans to progress it to being a great platform for all sites.


For more information on how AMP works, contact the specialists at SocialSEO.

I Got 99 Problems But A Schema Ain’t One

Schema has evolved over the last few years to play a now almost crucial role in SEO, making it one of the foundations for a successful campaign of local, national and E-commerce businesses.  In fact, in late 2015 John Mueller of Google actually went so far as to say that structured data markups like schema could become a ranking signal at some point.

The basic idea is that you use a semantic markup code to further identify the “juicy bits” of your webpage that could provide the most relevant information to searchers and users.  This markup, in turn then helps the search engines associate your newly marked up content with user queries, building the bridge of relevance between your content and what the searcher is looking for.


So just exactly why are these bits juicy?  The name, address and contact info provides relevant and important information to a visitor.  Using a “local business” schema markup here we can send a signal to the search engines telling exactly what these lines of text are about.  The search engine doesn’t have to decide what this content is about, instead, we’re telling it.  We designate the address, phone number and contact information and associate it with the domain, the business and the geographic area.

Kiss Metrics put it best “Schema tells the search engines what your data means, not just what it says.

The local business schema is only of one of a huge range of schema markups that can used.  Everything from people and places to products, events and brands can be marked up. Some of the most common markups that can be used for almost any site are:

  • Local business
  • Event
  • Aggregate Rating
  • Organization
  • Product
  • Blog Post
  • Person

You can find a full list of objects and places available markup on

Ok, so a schema markup can tell the search engines what my page is about, is that it?2016-02-26_1428

Not by a long shot!

In addition to helping communicate information, schema can help to get nifty rich snippets to appear in search results.  What are rich snippets?  They’re those little additions in a SERP aside from the page title and meta description that can give even more information to searchers and help with CTR.

We’re not done yet though..

Schema can also help to influence the Google Knowledge Graph results. The Knowledge Graph is that fun little box on the right side some search results that shows information about the entity you’re searching on.  It could be a logo, location, company information, competitor’s, photos and more.

In a lot of cases Google creates these on their own with information they’ve dredged up from across the net.

With schema, you can help to influence what information goes into these.  Better to tell Google what you want displayed then let them decided for themselves.  There have been reports of incorrect or even competitors info being pulled into Knowledge Graph results.

That being said, just because you mark it up with schema, there’s no guarantee that Google will display it, but it’s better than having nothing at all.

This whole schema thing sounds awesome, should I just mark up everything I possibly can?2

Probably not.  As with all good things, there will always be people who abuse it (this is why Google won’t let us have nice things).

Google has a spam manual action for “Spammy Structured Markup”.

“Markup on some pages on this site appears to use techniques such as marking up content that is invisible to users, marking up irrelevant or misleading content, and/or other manipulative behavior that violates Google’s Rich Snippet Quality guidelines.”

Schema should only be used when and where it’s appropriate, so if you’re in doubt, best not to risk the black eye from our benevolent search overlords.  You’ve got your 99 problems, don’t let schema spam be one.

Ready to learn more?  Here’s some great starting points.

Want to learn even more about schema? Call the experts at SocialSEO today for more information.