How to rank in Google in 2022

  • With each passing year the state of play for the SEO industry shifts
  • You can boost your SEO efforts by creating high-quality content
  • Excellent on-page optimisation and a secure website play a big part in SEO
  • Enhancing the user-experience and improving navigation is key
  • Building a website that works well on mobile will earn you points from Google

 

The Google algorithm has undergone a series of tweaks since the early 2000s, with hundreds of SEO ranking factors coming into play. To see for yourself, here’s our Google algorithm change timeline, which documents the most significant updates and shifts:

 

google algorithm change timeline

 

Though the impacts of these changes vary in significance, the algorithm revisions reflect an overall shift in the direction SEO is travelling in. Whatever industry you’re in, you’ll need to pay attention if you want to continue achieving high rankings for your website as and when these changes occur.

Let’s take a look at some key tips and best practices for improving your Google search rankings in 2022.

 

Google ranking factors in 2022: 

High-quality content

On-page technical optimisation

Website security

Mobile-friendliness

Site architecture and UX

 

1. High quality content

Google have been tight-lipped about their algorithms since the search engine first launched. The SEO industry is a success story in educated guesswork. In fact, the only advice they’ve ever given is ‘write great content’. In their defence, most Google algorithm changes have been aimed towards making the search engine better at judging this – but it’s certainly been a work in progress.

With the rise of machine learning, however, Google can reliably claim to be having some success analysing the deeper, semantic value of a piece of content. Increasingly, the algorithms are geared towards analysing content based on its ability to fulfil ‘the semantic intent of a user’s journey’. To debunk the jargon, this means keyword targeting is going to become increasingly less important, in favour of content that genuinely solves problems and answers questions.

In creating high-quality content, you can drastically improve your website rankings. This is because high-quality content boosts the likelihood of users spending longer on your pages. It also tends to lower the bounce rate on your site and – most importantly – provides value for the user. In providing value for your audience, you will improve the chance of repeat visits to your site.

To create high quality content, you will need to look at:

  • Long-form in-depth articles
  • Search intent
  • Keyword research
  • Rich snippets
  • Long-form articles

Long-form articles

Google algorithms now favour long-form content over shorter counterparts – concluding that the extra length means that the piece is more likely to have more detailed, quality answers in there.

That doesn’t mean you should start writing extra paragraphs just to drive up the word count. If the content is worth the length, and the information is sufficiently complex, detailed and nuanced enough to justify the breadth – then readers will stay. If not, cut it out.

Search intent

Search intent refers to the ultimate goal of the person using a search engine. Over the years, Google has been getting better at determining the search intent of people on the web.

Google ranks pages higher when they fit the search term as well as the search intent of a specific search query. For this reason, it’s important to make sure that the content on your page fits the search intent of your target audience.

Keyword research

Most classic SEO tactics are based around keyword placement; what keywords to use, which combinations, where to put them and with what frequency. In the past, however, this contributed to content that was stuffed with search terms that aren’t relevant to the content or the user. Nowadays, fulfilling the intent of the search term is as important, if not more so, than including the search term itself.

This doesn’t mean that all your keyword strategies are now redundant. But keywords for the sake of keywords won’t do much for your SEO strategy any more – particularly if they’ve got nothing in particular to do with the surrounding sentence or article. Generally, if keywords appear naturally in your text, you’ll find yourself ticking these boxes without really trying.

Rich snippets

A snippet is a result that Google shows to the user in search results. A rich snippet is the term used to describe a structured data mark-up that site operators can add to their existing HTML, in turn allowing search engines to better understand the information contained on each web page. This allows for better visibility in Google search results.

Rich snippets can also increase your click-through rate and lower your bounce rate, because they give users a better preview of your content before they click through.

 

2. Excellent on-page optimisation

Ensuring excellent on-page optimisation is a crucial part of improving your SEO rankings. To achieve this, you will need to consider:

  • Title tags and meta descriptions
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Internal and external link structure
  • Schema mark-up
  • Voice optimised SEO
  • Title tags and meta descriptions

Title tags and meta descriptions

A title tag is a HTML element that specifies the title of a webpage. Title tags are displayed on search engine results pages as the clickable headline. These are important for social sharing, usability and SEO. The title tag of your webpage must be an accurate description of the content found therein. Your title tag is important to SEO, because it determines your display title in search engines. It is also the first thing that a visitor sees.

A meta description is a snippet of up to around 155 characters, which summarises the content on a page. Search engines show the meta description in search results mostly when the searched for phrase is within the description, so it should match the content and include your focus keyword.

Headings and subheadings

Headings and subheadings are important to SEO, because they help users and search engines to understand and read text. They act as signposts for the readers and make it easier for visitors to grasp what a page is about. Ensure your headings and subheadings are clear and relevant to score well in Google’s rankings.

Internal and external link structure

Internal links are hyperlinks that direct the reader to the target page on your website. External links, on the other hand, are links to different sites. A good internal and external link structure helps users and search engines find your pages.

Internal links connect your content and give Google a better idea of the structure of your site, while external links to trustworthy and useful content helps you build an authoritative brand (and helps Google to figure out what your content is about).

Schema mark-up

Schema mark-up is code that you can put on your website to help search engines identify the essential information on each page. This is great for SEO rankings as it improves the user experience and makes your content easier to find.

Voice optimised SEO

Since the early days of Amazon Alexa and Microsoft Cortana, the SEO world has paid quiet attention to the prospect of voice optimised SEO content. Until now, it’s been slow to get going. That all began to change in late 2018, with the advent of Google’s Speakable mark-up, and it’s only set to get more important over the coming years.

The Speakable mark-up lets you mark sections of your content that would be a relevant oral response to a voice search. Think of the voice response as an award, and the mark-up is the tool you use to nominate your own content. From there, Google’s algorithms will analyse the content and select the most relevant contender.

Currently, the system only applies to news-specific content, and eligibility is judged against the same guidelines that govern Google News content. There’s every chance that this will expand to more types of content; specifically, those that answer quick and easy questions in a digestible format.

As far as SEO is concerned, publishers can rest assured that things won’t change overnight.

In fact, marking text up in your post for voice searches isn’t much different from marking it up for a featured snippet. But as the total ratio of voice to text searches continues to rise, there’s every chance that the focus of SEO will shift far more fundamentally than it already has. 2022 is the year this SEO steamroller really begins to roll.

 

3. Create a secure website

A simple step that you can take to improve your SEO rankings is by switching from HTTP to HTTPS. Since 2017, Google has flagged sites as ‘not secure’ if they aren’t under HTTPS. HTTPS provides users with 3 key layers of protection:

  • Authentication – which prevents ‘man in the middle’ attacks and provides a guarantee that a user is communicating with the exact website they intended.
  • Encryption – which provides privacy by encrypting the exchanged data, in turn ensuring that conversations will be kept private and information will be kept safe.
  • Data Integrity – which prevents data from being secretly modified or corrupted during a transfer.

If someone visits your site and is met with an alert from Google that the page is not secure, you can hedge a guess that they won’t stick around to check out your content. What’s more, Google has publicly stated that the security of sites is a ranking signal in the search algorithm, so having a HTTPS page will also help you feature higher on search engines.

Alongside winning favour with Google and improving your SEO rankings - creating a secure website will also help to reduce your bounce rate – as visitors are more likely to stay put if the site is declared secure.

Bounce rate, for all intents and purposes, is the percentage of users who land on your website and leave without going onto a second page. A high bounce rate, then, indicates that your site failed to convince visitors to stay and explore your content or offerings. According to a RocketFuel study, a bounce rate between 26-40% is ideal.

Now, to increase the average amount of time spent on your site, it’s a good idea to monitor your content and see what works best. It’s possible that your headline or call to action isn’t working – which is why it’s important to A/B test. Try producing different landing pages, using different content forms and language, to see what works best with your audience.

It’s worth noting that large images can really slow down the load time of your site – so you should watch out for this and remove any files from the server that are not being used. Ideally, your site should load within 1-3 seconds.

 

4. Build a website that works well on mobile

People now interact with Google on a wide range of platforms. The search giant can’t simply tailor all search results to those with keyboards and computer screens anymore.

Content written for desktop screens doesn’t look exactly the same on mobile or tablet devices. For logistical reasons, there’s often less ‘space’ on the mobile version of a webpage than the original desktop.

Much recent discourse on mobile SEO optimisation suggests that because more mobile searches are being made than ever before, publishers should optimise towards them. While this is true, it misses an important bit of nuance.

It was once the case that website-optimised content would rank better on all devices, regardless of how well-suited to mobiles it was. It is now the case that mobile-optimised content ranks better on all devices, regardless of how well suited to websites it is.

Why is this distinction important?

Without understanding this, organisations who receive proportionately less mobile traffic could happily convince themselves they didn’t need to worry about mobile optimisation. But the success of your mobile rankings influences your web rankings – even if you have barely any mobile views on your website.

B2B websites are among those that receive less mobile traffic, since people tend to access these websites at work, from desktops. It’s understandable that B2B websites may not have been as quick to the mobile optimisation trend as other websites. However, it’s no longer important how many visitors to your site are on mobile. Google has decreed that mobile optimisation is the way forward, and websites that want to stay ahead in the rankings will need to ensure they pay attention to the changes.

From now on, Google will base what it places in the index based on the mobile version of your site. You don’t need to have a mobile site to be mobile-first indexing, but you’ll find it hard to rank if your site isn’t mobile friendly. To find out how you score, you can take Google’s mobile-friendly test.

When designing or adapting your site, keep the phrase ‘mobile first’ in mind. Test your website on a mobile device to check that the design is responsive, clear and easy to navigate on a smaller screen. Be sure to keep an eye on load time too, as this will certainly impact your SEO rankings.

 

5. Improve user experience and site architecture

Google have always said that their first priority is the user, and content that best serves their needs will always perform the best. Despite their intentions, this hasn’t always been the case – and it’s taken many years to get to the point where the algorithms are intelligent enough to properly deduce the best content for a user’s search query.

Whether it’s optimising content to voice and mobile searches, or choosing detailed content that fulfils the deeper, semantic requirements of searches, the changes in Google algorithms are all aimed towards creating this heightened user experience.

A great way to improve the user experience and boost your SEO rankings is to help users find what they are looking for with ease. You can achieve this by ensuring that your website has good architecture and navigation. After all, the more appealing a site is to your users – the more appealing it is to search engines.

To improve site architecture, it’s important that the hierarchy of your site is logical. The navigation and structure should make it easy for visitors to access the information they are looking for. Information should be readily available and the design of the website itself should be simple. Complex structures and ambiguous signposting can put visitors off and cause them to click off your page.

Not only does strong site architecture keep people on your site for longer, but it also helps search engine crawlers to find more pages on a website. Ideally, a user should be able to find any page on your website within three or four clicks.

 

Google FAQ

How to improve local rankings on Google? 

First of all, make sure your business NAP (name, address, and phone number) are consistent across various listings and match the information provided on the website.

Also, encouraging your customers to leave reviews on Google My Business (GMB) helps with ranking up higher than the competition. Try to have a complete and up-to-date profile, and include images of the company, opening hours, and description.

Additionally, posting on GMB ensures your business listing is more visible and keeps customers informed with the latest offers and news.

 

What is search visibility? 

Search visibility is a metric that shows how visible your website is within the organic search results (this excludes paid ads). It is typically expressed in percentages and indicates how often the website is showing up within the search results. Although, some companies, such as Moz calculate it as a score based on the keyword clicks.

 

How can SEO help my business? 

SEO offers a wide range of benefits for businesses, here are a few:

  • Increased brand awareness through organic traffic
  • More conversions and leads
  • Builds brand trust & credibility online
  • Advanced customer data and insights

 

Keep it genuine

There are plenty of ways that SEO will change over 2022 – and much for businesses to pay attention to if they want to continue attracting attention to their websites. But in 2022, the most important thing to remember is that the content you create must first and foremost fulfil the user’s requirements on a number of levels. Content should answer genuine queries, with reliable, detailed and well-researched information.

The days of content for content’s sake are slowly beginning to pass. Throughout 2022, optimising for the user experience will become a far more valuable part of a successful digital marketing campaign than it has ever been before.

 

Looking to improve your SEO?

We can help! Talk to us about your business and the specific barriers you come up against when trying to generate leads.

The SEO experts here at Fifty Five and Five keep are keeping constantly up to date with the latest SEO trends and changes to create the best possible campaigns and improve rankings for our clients. Get in touch with us to find out more.


Why should you optimise for voice search in B2B marketing?

“Hey Google, why should you optimise for voice search in B2B marketing?” If speaking those words led you here, or maybe you asked Alexa or Cortana, then you’ve actually answered your own question, in a senseVoice search optimisation of business-to-business content is why you’re reading this right now.

What do I mean by that? Why does voice search matter for your business’s marketing? And what steps can you take to make B2B content rank high in voice search results? I’ll tell you in this article.

But first, let’s focus on why voice search is a thing in the first place.

The rise of voice search

Today, more and more people are using spoken queries to find products and services. This has been fuelled largely by two factors:  

  • High levels of mobile device usage (smartphones) 
  • New ‘smart speaker’ devices and voice assistants 

According to a study from PwC65% of consumers aged 25 to 49 years old talk to their voice-enabled devices daily. And another survey from Hubspot found that 74% of respondents had used voiced search within the last month. So, it’s clear that adoption of these individual technologies – smartphones, smart assistants and voice search – have contributed to the rise of them all.  

But there are also some other reasons for the increase in voice search uses, which relate to material realities of life today. 

More reasons people are going hands-free

The COVID-19 pandemic may also have spurred voice search’s uptake. Gartner’s report ‘Optimizing Voice Search and Features for Mobile Commerce’ found that 32% of consumers are interested in hands-free technology that would limit touching or contamination. No typing and swiping, no viral transmission – although we have to wonder if today’s speech recognition technologies have been tweaked to compensate for mask muffling. That’s certainly a catalyst for algorithmic improvement that nobody would have expected pre-2020. 

Also Social Media Today revealed that 52% of people use voice search while driving – which could perhaps be a result of smartphones replacing dedicated sat-nav devices on vehicle dashboards. Enabling people to find what they need while still keeping their eyes safely on the road could be one of the most positive benefits of voice search’s rise. 

Okay, but voice search in B2B marketing?

You may be thinking: “So people are using voice search to find the next motorway service station, or a pizza place open past midnight – that’s great. But it all sounds very business-to-consumer. My customers aren’t all saying Alexa, what’s my nearest Microsoft CSP?, are they?  

Maybe they aren’t – right nowBut this is a trend that can only grow – and it’s likely to keep growing rapidly. Statista predicts that by 2024, 8.4 billion voice assistants will be in use worldwideAs voice search makes up more and more of the total number of all searches performed, more of those searches will be business-related.  

To prepare for greater volumes of voice searches and capture as much of the current voice search traffic as possible, now’s the time to start making your B2B content rank high in voice search results. Let’s look at how.  

Our voice search optimisation tips

I asked Fifty Five and Five Marketing Executive Charlotte Chan for her top three tips on voice search optimization. Here they are:

Charlotte’s top three

  1. Optimise for ‘rich answers’. Voice search results are likely to draw from Google’s Knowledge Graph, Knowledge Panel, Knowledge Box and Featured Snippets. Rich answers use these sources – Featured Snippets in particular – so make sure these elements are optimised.
  1. Answer questions concisely. Current best practice is that Google prefers the answers to voice search queries to be short and to the point. In fact the typical voice search result is only 29 words in length. That’s even shorter than this paragraph.
  1. Ensure your website is mobile-friendly. Much of your potential voice traffic will be from mobile devices. Therefore, as well as succeeding with voice search, it also needs to meet Google’s criteria for mobile friendliness for it to rank as well as it possibly can.  

I’ve also got some of my own advice for optimising voice search in B2B marketing, which I’ll share now.  

My advice

Focus on conversational keywords. People query search engines in different ways with their voices than with text. That means conversational phrases (e.g., “How do I...”) and long-tail keywords.

Create pages that answer FAQs. People use voice search to ask questions, so creating content with frequently asked questions – and their answers – is the perfect way to capture their search traffic. I used a question keyword in the title of this blog!

Optimise for more search engines than Google. While Google results are used for voice searches via Google (obviously) and Apple’s Siri, other voice assistants may use different sources. Alexa and Cortana use Microsoft’s Bing – so optimise for that, too.  

Time to make yourself heard

hope this article has helped to illustrate the value of voice search for B2B marketing. It’s still a relatively new field, and it’s sure to evolve considerably as time goes by – so I look forward to exploring new developments in the future.

Meanwhile, if you’d like some assistance in making sure your organisation is being heard by potential customers using voice search, don’t hesitate to get in touch with Fifty Five and FiveWe’ll be more than happy to help.


Blog image - Improve your SEO: Don't put baby in the corner

Improve your SEO: Don't put baby in the corner

It was in that dead zone, the no-man’s land between Christmas and the New Year that I watched Dirty Dancing for the first time. Sure, I’ve been ‘told’ to watch it a million times. And over the years I’ve wavered between the thought that something so famous must be overrated and being too lazy to bother switching it on.

So, I watched it. All the way to the bit where Patrick Swayze lifts Jennifer Grey over his head. And it was fun. Later, I thought that although something is said to be ‘good for you’ we don’t always listen and follow the advice. And the same might be said for certain practices when it comes to marketing. SEO is said to be ‘very good’ for your digital marketing strategy. But for a lot of businesses, it gets… put in a corner. So let's find out how to improve your SEO.


Want to improve your SEO?

Just like Patrick Swayze’s dancing talent, inbound marketing requires great content to achieve the right results. But the traffic to that content and visitors’ engagement with it can be given a real boost by a well-planned and executed SEO offering. Kind of like how Johnny Castle’s summer changes after he’s introduced to Frances ‘Baby’ Houseman. Let’s look at what makes up a great SEO strategy and the results you could expect, and I bet you’ll never think of putting SEO in a corner again.

How to improve your SEO? Let's get going.

1. Complete your keyword analysis

We’ve moved past the days when a website or piece of content could get away with keyword stuffing. Today, it’s about well-researched and carefully chosen keywords used in the correct manner to be effective. And remember, keep that content educational, engaging, and relevant (stay away from an over-reliance on 80s film references, for example).

Quick keyword advice:

  • Choose keywords with high search rates and low competition
  • Opt for both short and long-tail keywords
  • Use local keywords (in terms of your geographic location)
  • Optimise titles, URLs and on-page SEO

Questions you should ask:

  • What keywords should we be targeting and why?
  • What is the strategy to take when it comes to the difficulty of a keyword, against search volume and time?
  • What are our competitors’ strategies?

2. Perform a website audit

A website audit is like an audition before you are accepted into a summer dance troupe at your family’s country club. An audit will give you a comprehensive evaluation of how you’re performing right now for SEO, across your website and other inbound marketing touchpoints. There are several content and performance metrics to consider. These include:

  • Site authority
  • Security
  • Organic traffic
  • Search visibility
  • Link profile
  • Bounce rate
  • Pages per session
  • Site responsiveness

3. Invest in ongoing monthly work to improve SEO

Research and audits are the prep work. Then comes the big dance. To ensure you climb the search rankings for chosen keywords you need to invest in monthly work. This requires a comprehensive set of on-page and off-page techniques and strategies. Ongoing optimisation looks like this:

> Tracking and monitoring keywords

Track and monitor keyword performance, tweaking/adding/removing keywords as required and optimising pages to further boost rankings.

> Site updates, maintenance and improvements

Improve the SEO appeal of the site, including domain authority. This work varies day by day, month by month – looking at site speed, visual design elements, landing page conversions tactics, Google search console, etc.

> Competitor analysis

Track and monitor competitor activities, strategies, successes and failures, and then, importantly, use this information to inform your own work and SEO approach.

> Backlink strategy

It’s worth putting a little thought into your backlink strategy. This includes contacting suitable sites to publish content and understanding what type of content works best on these sites. At Fifty Five and Five, for example, we have built an extensive network of contacts which helps us place the right content on the right sites, boosting domain authority in the correct manner.

> Monthly reporting

Create a comprehensive monthly report—detailing all activity for that month, metrics and successes, and plans for the next month. This might seem like the last thing you would want to do at the end of the month but it’s crucial. And it brings us nicely on to…

The importance of KPIs and benchmarking

If you improve your SEO, but don't track the data, what is the point? KPIs and benchmarking are important because they keep business objectives at the forefront of any decision-making across your marketing strategy. As you put your strategy to work, make sure you take the time to set KPIs and benchmark your current traffic so you can monitor the success of a campaign, or if you need to make adjustments.

> KPIs

Key Performance Indicators are a type of performance measurement that evaluate the success of your campaign or your SEO strategy as a whole. For example, in paid media campaigns, a KPI would be the number of clicks, CTRs or impressions your ad gets. The same can be applied to a piece of content, a page on your website or landing page.

> Benchmarking

Benchmarks are standards against which you can compare your KPIs to measure the success of the campaign. Using the paid media example again, a benchmark of CTR for LinkedIn in the UK is, say, 0.50%; so, if you achieved a CTR of 0.66% for your ad in LinkedIn you can see that the campaign is outperforming the CTR and therefore is going well. Hurray!

Play the long game for SEO success

Just like Patrick Swayze and ‘Baby’s’ relationship your SEO can take time to heat up. In fact, it will usually be several months before you see results. In our experience, though, putting the time into SEO work can really pay off. This is, of course, just a quick guide to putting in place some structure for your business—SEO is a very deep pool and there is a lot to think about and keep on top of.

Some of our clients’ results

Many of our clients asked us to improve their SEO. Here re some examples:

> Increased sessions

Executing a well-planned SEO strategy, our clients have increased the number of sessions on their website on average by 46%. This is based on their starting point prior to their SEO campaign in comparison to their current average sessions over a 12- or 24-month period.

> Better organic traffic

Additionally, clients have seen an average increase in organic traffic by 32%. This is based on their starting point prior to their SEO campaign in comparison to their current average organic traffic over a 12- or 24-month period.

> Higher volume of unique visitors

Furthermore, there has been an increase in unique users by 58%. Again, this is based on the client’s starting point prior to their SEO campaign in comparison to their current average unique users over a 12- or 24-month period.

Turn to the experts to improve your SEO

Want to improve your SEO? We provide advice on all things related to compliment your broader inbound marketing strategy. If you’re confused about the process of adding SEO into your marketing or you could do with some help with the heavy lifting (just like when Swayze lifts…you get the idea), give us a call and we’ll be delighted to help.


Illustration SEO in Google colour palette

What is a Google core algorithm update – and why should you care?

Every so often the world’s content creators and SEO specialists become suddenly impassioned by what’s known as a ‘core algorithm update’. These happen a few times a year and can have a significant effect on a web page’s Google rankings. But what is a core algorithm update? And more importantly – is it really something you should care about?

Algorithms, updates and rankings 

An algorithm update means Google has made a significant tweak to the way they determine search engine result rankings. Admittedly, these can be quite small. But for the world’s biggest search engine, small changes can make a big difference to people who rely on their search engine results pages (SERPs) to generate leads.  

Google algorithm updates happen all the time. In fact, even referring to the Google algorithm in the singular it a bit disingenuous – the truth is it’s a complicated web of loosely related algorithms which has been in a near constant state of flux since Google first got going. Keeping track of all that is a fairly tall order, because updates happen virtually every day. Luckily for SEO professionals, most of these are relatively minor and no cause for alarm 

OK, so what’s a core algorithm update?  

Core updates aren’t just your run-of-the-mill minor adjustments. As the name would suggest, this is a change to the fundamental algorithm that powers the Google search engine. It’s easy to see why these updates happen - if you’re in charge of the world’s most popular search engine, you’re going to want to make sure it responds to changes in how people write, post and read content over time. So far, so understandable.  

The problem is, algorithm updates are a bit like dropping a large fishing net into the middle of an ocean - there's no clear cut line between the content you want to catch and the stuff you'd rather leave where it is 

That means whenever one of these core algorithms turns up, several well-meaning bystanders tend to get caught in the net. Virtually every core algorithm update comes complete with horror stories of businesses whose rankings change dramatically overnight. It’s also why these updates tend to make SEO folks pretty stressed.  

But how can we tell when a core algorithm update has happened – or even better, when it’s on the way? 

How to spot a wild core algorithm update 

Unlike the smaller everyday updates, core algorithm updates tend to get a lot of attention. Sometimes Google announces them in advance, sometimes they announce it on the day (generally via Twitter), and sometimes they keep it to themselves. The bigger the bombshell, the bigger the publicity and the bigger the splash it’ll make throughout the SEO world.   

If you want to find out what’s changing, it’s helpful to follow the Google Search Liaison account on Twitter, as well as paying attention to blogs like Hubspot and SearchMetrics – (and, of course, Fifty Five and Five…) who are generally pretty quick to spot these changes. 

Sometimes, Google will publish guidance on who these changes are likely to effect and what the ramifications are likely to be. Other times, they prefer to keep tight lipped and see if anyone notices. Their search engine, their rules. Naturally, this makes it pretty difficult to keep up of what changes are coming and when.  

The only definite way to limit the damage of such changes is through regular and thorough SEO auditing. That way, if there’s a big change to the SEO rankings of your content you can quickly see what’s affected, identify the trends and take positive steps to mitigate any damage. But as well as this, the type of content you create makes a huge difference.  

What pandas can teach us about SEO 

About a decade ago, Google decided that they'd had enough of 'content farms'. Such website were filled with realms of low value, keyword-stuffed content that made it onto page one of the search results through black hat SEO trickery - without providing much value to their readers. Google described such content as being "as close as possible to being spam, without actually being spam". An update was clearly in order.  

The idea behind the update, known as Panda, was to make search results better match the intent of their users. But what does that mean in practice? And what can we learn from that almost a decade later? 

Well, imagine you want to find out more about a topic such as, for example, Google core algorithm updates, and type “What is a core algorithm update?” into the search engine. Which of the two following articles would you say best matches your search intent? 

  • A detailed breakdown of the context and background to Google core algorithm updates, as well as an explanation as to what it means to you. 
  • An article with virtually no relevant informationwhich just happens to have the words “what is a core algorithm update” strategically placed all over the page to game the SEO rankings.  

Well I hope it’s the first one, anyway.  

The point is, the low-value, keyword-stuffed content might have been successful at gaining a temporary SEO boost, but it wasn’t really what readers were looking when they typed in the search term. Eventually, the rules were always going to catch up.  

Content that stands the test of time 

This game of cat and mouse has been going on since the earliest days of search – and isn’t likely to change any time soon. As long as search engines exist, there will always be people looking to game the system. But content that seeks to fulfill the user’s search intent has consistently managed to stay on the right side of the fishing net, for the clear and obvious reason that it’s precisely the kind of content that Google is trying to promote.  

If you’re writing content that’s genuinely valuable and satisfies the search intent of the people reading it, it’s highly likely you’ll be able to handle whatever spanners the gods of search throw in the worksSo, if you want to avoid getting caught out by the latest core update, the one helpful piece of advice is the only thing you can rely on Google to tell you every time an update happens: Write good content.


Master the art of the blog: how to optimize blog posts for SEO

Microsoft is, to use a cherished phrase, living high on the hog. Thanks to successfully retooling their business strategy with Microsoft 365, they’re dominating the software world. But it’s not just their software that’s doing well. The Microsoft partner ecosystem is a fundamental aspect to the tech giant’s success. But there are 640,000 partners, vendors and service providers all vying for many of the same audience. It can be difficult for your prospective customers and clients to decide who can help them achieve their goals. If you’re a Microsoft partner, you probably already know that in order to attract your target audience, you need to stand out. To do this, you need to rank highly on Google, and that means mastering search engine optimisation (SEO) In this post we’ll focus on how to optimise blog posts for SEO.

The art of standing out

Every business market is saturated with businesses providing similar services – this is why differentiation is essential. You need to set your company apart from your competition so that you become more than just a corporate entity. Creating a memorable brand personality requires unique and engaging content, which will drive more traffic to your website.

Today we will concentrate on how to optimise blog posts for SEO: this is how you’ll get them in front of as many relevant people as possible. This will, in turn, earn your business those all-important leads. Your blog (along with your social media output and website) is where you broadcast your unique voice and is how potential customers get a sense of you as a company and as a brand.

Find your audience where they are

If you want your content to have any chance of reaching your potential readers, you need to optimise it for search engine results. Why is it essential to do this? Well, your potential readers are your potential leads, who are, of course, your potential clients.

The pages on your website are ranked by search engines, who send out bots that crawl the web to assess the quality. So, the idea behind how to optimise blog posts for SEO is making sure the bots can easily parse what they find and index your blog with a higher position on a results page. The better optimised your blog is, the easier it will be to find.

Keywords are key

A keyword is a word or phrase that you know or expect potential readers will be searching for. When you include them in your content, this will lead readers to you. As a Microsoft partner, you’re competing with many companies for MPN specific keywords. The way to handle this is to identify more tailored, unique keywords – finding words that return search results without putting your blog in competition with too many other partners. It can sometimes be best to focus on longtail keywords, which means using specific, key phrases.

It’s important to remember that you’re identifying words that your audience are using, not the words you use. For instance, while ‘digital transformation’ might be a relevant keyword for your business, it won’t get you noticed. Your specific audience needs something that aligns with your USP – so you must understand what problems they have, and how they’ll search for the solution. This requires research.

The right tool for the job

There are many tools that can help you put together the right keywords. For example, Yoast is a plugin for WordPress that is used to optimise blog posts. It allows you to select a keyword or phrase for your posts and shows you how many times they appear. It also shows how popular a keyword is with competitors and customers, among other metrics.

If you’re still not feeling confident about how to optimise blog posts for SEO, Yoast in WordPress gives you a checklist which indicates how well your post is optimised.

In short, remember:

  • Resist the urge to go after ‘trophy phrases’ – they won’t get you the visibility that properly tailored keywords will.
  • Good keywords are the ones that return search results, not the most exciting sounding ones
  • Put your keyword or phrase into the title of your blog post, the first paragraph, at least one header and at least three times throughout the copy
  • If your keyword sounds unnatural in the blog, you need a stronger keyword

It’s a popularity contest

One of Google’s many criteria for SEO has historically been outbound links. By linking other websites to your posts, Google recognises you as ‘popular’ and your search ranking goes up. For example, a good number for outbound links is between three and six links per post. Recently it has been suggested that outbound links are not a ranking signal any longer. However, linking to other sites brings value to your content and that in turn becomes a relevant factor for your blog SEO.

The value of both outbound and internal web links in your posts cannot be underestimated. Creating a ‘pipeline’ for your content – i.e. a website you are linked to, a place where people can subscribe to your blog – is fundamental to making a strong connection between every aspect of your digital presence.

Be more social

Your social media presence is more important today than ever. It helps you increase brand awareness, drive traffic to your website and boost your organic search presence. We’d recommend that you:

  • Tweet at least once a day
  • Link your blog post to your Facebook page and LinkedIn profile
  • Provide internal links within your blog post to your Twitter
  • Promote links and news items that are relevant to your brand or what your company does

Being online isn’t really an option in our digital age, but if you do it effectively, it doesn’t have to be a time-suck. Using tools to schedule posts and cross-post on different platforms can be an enormous time-saver. You can also discover the best time to post across your social media here.

How to optimise blog posts for SEO: hard work

Of course, there’s plenty of work to do when it comes to digital marketing best practice. In addition to making your blog content SEO functional, you also make sure you’re promoting your content. Share it on your social media channels, keep fresh content coming at regular intervals and develop a unique voice that your customers trust. These are all increasingly important aspects that will allow you to rise above the business brand banality that so many tech companies face. After all, you need to stand out to potential customers as well as current clients.


google accelerated mobile pages

AMP up your Google Accelerated Mobile Pages in 2019

  • Learn how to make the most of Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)
  • Getting set up and optimising your website
  • The latest functionality, and how to make the most of AMP

[mks_separator style="solid" height="2"]

The ever-increasing amount of web traffic from mobile devices means that optimising your mobile site needs to be part of your 2019 marketing strategy. While desktop web browsing still has its place, better mobile browsing is only going to become more important. Today, Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) look like the future of mobile browsing.

A faster mobile web

Google AMP is an open source initiative that aims to push higher performance in the mobile web. In other words, faster browsing.

AMP pages show up in Google’s mobile search results, accompanied by a small lightning bolt. It sends out a pretty unambiguous message: ’check out these pages, they’re the fastest’.

But more importantly, the only pages that feature in their ‘Top Stories’ carousel, at the top of their mobile search results, are AMP pages. That’s a very compelling reason to adopt – or, more to the point, not get left out.

But what are the advantages of AMP for individual users? Pages optimised for AMP load far quicker, in a smarter, mobile-centric way, prioritising content ‘above the fold’ (the upper part of a web page that’s visible without scrolling) to appear as quickly as possible, rather than forcing the user to wait for the entire page to load.

You don’t have to be a UX expert to realise that shorter loading times create a better user experience - which means greater engagement and higher visitor retention rates. These are all better for your business.

A study in 2019 by Stone Temple Consulting found publisher sites who optimised their pages by AMP standards achieved a click-through rate that was 23.1% higher click-through rate on Google Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Meanwhile, e-commerce sites benefited from a 32.1% increase in organic traffic.

Impressive results, we think you’ll agree. And when Google throws its mighty weight behind something, it’s a pretty safe bet that it’s going to be big (with the exception of Google+, perhaps).

If you want to make the most of it and not get left behind, here are some tips for implementing Google AMP:

Getting set up with AMP

If your site uses WordPress, it’s relatively straightforward to begin using AMP. Installing the WordPress AMP plugin gives you access to all the essential functionality.

Now, whenever you make a new post on your site, an AMP-optimised version of the page will be created along with the original. You can see it by adding /amp/ to the end of the original post’s URL.

You may have to make some tweaks to bring the look and feel of the AMP-version more in line with your original site, however. This all depends on how your site was coded.

It’s also a good idea to use plugins like Glue for Yoast SEO & AMP to help make optimise your page for search engine optimisation (SEO).

Not using WordPress? Then you may require a little more work from your developer. Now, you’ll need to ensure two versions of each page are created: the original, and the AMP version. For AMP to work, this new AMP-optimised version can’t contain certain HTML tags. That includes some forms of Javascript, as well as frame functions.

But this isn’t a drawback – it’s just part of what AMP does. It simplifies the page by using a streamlined version of Cascading Style Sheets (CSS) – leaner, faster-loading and better suited to provide a better mobile experience.

Learn the right (and wrong tags)

Although it doesn’t allow certain HTML tags, Google AMP has a selection of its own to replace them, which have become known as AMP HTML. These tags have been specifically created to enhance mobile browsing. So, if you’ll be writing AMP optimised web pages, you’ll need to get to grips with AMP HTML.

But it’s not like learning an entirely new language. Just some new terms. For a seasoned web developer, picking up AMP is a breeze. You can find the basics in this AMP HTML specification guide, which includes a list of prohibited tags, their replacements, and a sample page that’s been formatted correctly.

And if you want to get more advanced, the AMP component catalogue contains a full list of all AMP-specific HTML elements. It even includes experimental functions that are still in beta phase, and it’s updated every time there are new developments.

Check that your code is compliant

There are several good tools you can use to ensure the pages you create are AMP optimised. The best of these come straight from the source: Google.

A good start is to test your web pages during development using Google’s AMP validator. It checks the HTML and tells you where and how to fix it, if it isn’t AMP-optimised.

You can also search for validation errors directly in Chrome. Just open the page in the browser, add “#development1” to the end of the URL, open the Chrome DevTools console and check. And the AMP report on the Google Search Console will show you which AMP pages Google can find and crawl. It will also tell you which ones contain errors to be corrected.

The latest functionality for 2019

As of this year, there’s been a range of new features introduced to make AMP-optimised pages look and work even better. You should definitely consider using these if you want your site to shine as brightly as possible.

One of them is improved video. Users can now watch a video and scroll though the accompanying content at the same time. The video can be minimised and docked in a corner of the screen, where it’ll keep on playing while they continue reading the rest of the page.

It’s now also easier to monetise videos. The <amp-ima-video> component allows you to do this with video adverts from networks supporting the Interactive Media Ads software development kit (SDK). AMP also natively supports a number of video players that can monetise ads, including Brightcove and Dailymotion.

Another update is input masking in forms. This makes it much easier for your users to fill in details like credit card information or their date of birth, because developers can add things like spaces or interstitial characters. When a customer is entering long numbers and other such data on a small screen, on the go, they need all the help they can get.

AMP now supports infinite scroll. When a user gets to the end of a list (e.g. search results or product cards) you can automatically repopulate the list with further items. This is particularly valuable for e-commerce or publishing sites.

Since new data protection regulations became enforceable, we’re all used to seeing the ubiquitous consent prompt on almost every page we visit. Although AMP has long featured the <amp-consent> tag to simplify users’ consent to data collection, the latest improvements also support 3rd party consent management platforms (CMP). A lot of businesses use these, making it a useful feature.

Dynamic email content

A departure from other web-based incarnations of AMP, this 2019 innovation lands in your email inbox instead.

AMP for Email allows you to create highly interactive email content that means you can do things you’d usually have to click away to a web page to do - like buy a product or browse the catalogue. Fewer clicks, better UX and a quicker path to purchase.

That’s only one implementation. The ability to provide this kind of interactivity within an email, in a format tailored for mobile devices, has far-reaching possibilities for your business. Many companies like Booking.com and Pinterest have already adopted it for their consumer-facing emails. It’s worth considering joining them.

A new way to tell stories

One of the most common complaints levelled at AMP by past critics was that it led to repetitive and flat pages, because it omits many elements such as Javascript, which allow developers to create more interaction, movement, texture and a richer experience.

That’s one of the reasons why AMP Stories may be the most significant introduction to AMP this year. It’s essentially Google’s take on the ‘story’ functionality that’s already swept across all the social media heavy hitters like Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat.

Like the rest, it allows you to post a brief video, photo or other visually rich clip. So maybe this is Google jumping on the ‘stories’ bandwagon – but it’s also a new way to present a more vibrant, engaging experience within the constraints of AMP – and it does so in a format that mobile users already know and love.

And, as usual with AMP pages, AMP Stories get priority placement on Google searches. Right up near the top of search results, which is some of the most prime internet real estate. That’s yet another good reason why AMP should be on your radar.

Want to really make the most of AMP?

If you like the sound of all this but don’t know where to start, get in touch with Fifty Five and Five. Our team of web development, design and SEO professionals can help you ensure that your web presence keeps up with the latest innovations and user demands in a rapidly changing, increasingly mobile world.


google algorithm change timeline

A History of Search: Google Algorithm Change Timeline

  • Our Google algorithm change timeline outlines the main changes to how Google generates SERPS.
  • What effect have these changes had on SEO over the years?
  • How is digital content better as a result?

Our recent blog discussed Google’s latest algorithm update, nicknamed Medic. This change ensured that websites containing healthcare and medicine related content were held to a higher quality control standard than other websitesSince these websites gave advice on people’s health and their money, the consequences of false or misleading information are much higher. Therefore, Google reasoned, they’d have to try a lot harder to prove their content was worth the rankings 

For many, Medic will pass unnoticed. But it’s the latest stage in a long string of changes, enhancements and outright replacements to the core algorithm that got Google started in the late 90s. However unimportant individual changes may seem, all are geared towards enhancing the user experience; ensuring search results are high quality, well-written and well-researched.  

The continuing work of tweaking the Google algorithm has been underway since the early 2000s. Here’s our Google algorithm change timeline to give you an overview of the most important changes.

The war on keyword stuffing 

By 2002, Google had been around for a little while, and people had started to work out how to game the competition. After a few small changes to the algorithm in 2002 and 2003, the end of the 2003 bought the first significant named update – Florida. It was designed to bring an end to some of the more spam-orientated SEO tactics (or ‘black hat’ as they came to be known), that had developed over the previous years.  

This included hidden links, invisible text and most importantly, excessive keyword stuffing. Previously, websites overloaded with search terms would rank well, as Google assumed, they were more relevant to that query. Florida was the first step in the process that penalised websites stuffed with excessive keywords, forcing content creators to write quality, relevant content if they wanted to rank. That was the intention, anyway. 

Ending content farms 

For a little while, Florida was enough to keep the SEO world on their toes and curb the worst excesses of spam content. By 2011, however, the internet had moved on, and another Google algorithm update was needed: Panda. In the words of Google itself, Panda was designed to penalise content that was as close to being spam as possible, without actually being spam.  

Over the past few years, certain types of websites had begun to crop up, which became known as ‘content farms’. As the name would suggest, they specialised in a certain type of ‘thin content’; low-value, spam-like content that gave little value to the user. 

Panda actually had over 20 different versions, because the problem it looked to solve was more complex than one algorithm change could fix. At some point between the first and twentieth update, Panda began to turn the tide against these content farms, and today they’re a dated concept.  

Similar updates from around that time also sought to deal with link malpractice. Since working out that hyperlinks contribute to SEO rankings, the internet had become awash with low-quality, irrelevant links – often in places where they’re not needed and overloaded with keyword optimised anchor text.  

Before the Google algorithm update, the algorithm struggled to differentiate between quality and quantity of links. Afterwards, Google could better make the distinction, ensuring links that were natural, relevant and authoritative were rewarded. 

Understanding semantic meaning

Until 2013, the updates to Google’s algorithms were just that – updates. There may been extras updates added and tweaks made, but the same basic methods that powered searches in the late 90s were still at work in 2013. By now, it was time for a real shake up.  

Not all the problems Google sought to tackle were down to black hat SEO. Much of the time, improvements were made because the algorithm wasn’t clever enough to understand what the user wanted from the search. Much of the time, it would return results that matched on a word-for-word basis, rather than those which actually answered the customers’ queries.  

Hummingbird was perhaps the most important algorithm change since Google launched, arriving in 2013. It allowed Google to begin understanding the user intent as well as the content in search queries.  

Recently, we discussed how keywords were fast declining as a major SEO ranking factor, in favour of content that fully fulfils a query’s semantic intent. Hummingbird was the change that first heralded this.

Mobilegeddon

While Google had been busy eliminating dodgy links and content farms, the remaining outside world had fundamentally shifted the way they search on the internet. The days where sitting down at your computer and typing a query into Google was the default setting were fast declining. By 2015, mobile devices had become more common than web for internet searches. That year, Google sought to change results to better reflect this. 

‘Mobilegeddon’ was the nickname given to an update that significantly penalised websites that weren’t mobile-optimized. If the website couldn’t be rearranged or reconfigured to suit the smaller screen, there’s a good chance that it would fall down the search rankings. Luckily, this only affected mobile searches, so website admins could feel safe that their websites would remain in the same place for web searches. This wasn’t to last long however. Since the introduction of mobile first indexing, mobile-optimised content performs better across searches on all devices.

Better searches, better results, better SEO 

Most of the changes that Google have made to their algorithm since 2003 have been part of the ongoing cat and mouse game with black hat SEO tactics. By about 2014, they’d eliminated most of the loopholes in the algorithm, meaning the many updates over the past have diverted attention towards changes that make a real difference to the quality of search results. The Medic Google algorithm update is just one of these changes, a focused change that increases the quality of results in a small yet significant way. 

There was a time when black hat SEO tactics were frowned upon. Nowadays, they simply don’t work. As with any algorithm, there probably still exists a way to game the system, but these days it’s simply more effort than it’s worth. Now, if website creators want to find themselves at the top of the SERP page, there’s one rule and one rule only that’ll get them there: Write good content.   

 

As a specialist full-service digital marketing agency for Microsoft Partners, we know everything there is to know about creating content and getting SERP-topping rankings for IT companies. If you want to find out more, get in touch with the team. 

Looking to improve your marketing?

We can help! Talk to us about your business and the specific barriers you come up against when trying to generate leads. Get in touch.


Google Speakable markup

How to implement Google Speakable in your SEO strategy

  • What is Google Speakable markup?
  • Search engine intelligence and the future of voice search
  • The benefits of optimising your SEO for Google Speakable markup
  • How you can use Google Speakable to improve your SEO

Voice search used to seem like something from a sci-fi film, but these days it’s becoming the norm. Using Google doesn’t require a screen anymore – in fact, Gartner predicts that in 4 years’ time 30% of searches will be screen-free. A lot of statistics are flying around about voice search right now because it’s on the brink of becoming the next big thing. The announcement of the beta for Google Speakable Markup is a small step into a future of voice search. But what do we really know about it?

The beta of the Google Speakable schema has just been launched. This means that Google Assistant will be able to read marked sections of news content aloud. The new schema.org specification is in beta in the US and it’s only a matter of time before it launches around the world. While Google Speakable markup isn’t going to change the world of SEO, it does provide some key insights about the ways SEO is going to change in the future.

In this post, we’re going to dive into Google Speakable and how we think you should be preparing to use it to improve your SEO strategy.

What is schema?

SiSchema.org was founded by Google, Microsoft, Yahoo and Yandex to create a universal data structuring vocabulary. Schema markup (in simple terms) is back-end code that helps search engines classify your content. While HTML tags help browsers understand how to display their content, they don’t give any indication of what that content means. To structure that information, schema provides context.

Schema structures the metadata on your website in a way that search engines can understand and index, so they can return richer results. Schema markup boosts your website’s chance of being featured for a rich snippet on Google, which is important for voice search results because of its short, digestible format. Rich snippets also earn your business the highly coveted spot of ‘position #0’ on Google’s SERP - this will rank your business above even the first result. That alone is a real incentive to use schema markup.

What is Speakable?

Speakable is a schema that lets you markup sections of content that would be suitable answers for voice searches. Speakable will use Google Text-to-Speech (TTS) to read out answers to voice queries. As Google have noted on the beta page for Speakable:

‘The Google Assistant uses Speakable structured data to answer topical news queries on smart speaker devices. When users ask for news about a specific topic, the Google Assistant returns up to three articles from around the web and supports audio playback using TTS for sections in the article with Speakable structured data. When the Google Assistant reads aloud a Speakable section, it attributes the source and sends the full article URL to the user's mobile device.’

While voice search capabilities are available around the world, Google Speakable Markup is currently limited to English language queries on Google Home devices in the US.

Speakable schema markup offers a new opportunity for marketers. They’ll be able to use schema markup to identify content that’s suitable for voice search. In July 2018, Google announced the schema, saying it would allow ‘eligible publishers to markup sections of a news article that are most relevant to be read aloud by the Google Assistant’. Google is the first company to announce implementation of this schema - it’s a significant step towards developing more intelligent search engine results.

A brief history of voice search

Since the launch of Google’s voice search app in 2008, talking to your devices has become totally normal. Amazon followed suit with Alexa, Apple with Siri, and Microsoft with Cortana. Ever since, voice search has become increasingly intelligent. Google have put a lot of work into improving voice search; Google Hummingbird saw the core algorithm of Google become substantially more intuitive. A key part of this was semantic search. This allows Google to predict user intent with context. For instance, after the implementation of Hummingbird, Google can recommend you the best restaurant near your location rather than the best restaurant in the world.

Another huge development was conversational speech. In 2013, Google revealed their improved search experience, saying ‘people communicate with each other by conversation, not by typing keywords’. Conversational speech was significant for voice search, because it allows for a more natural user experience. As Google said in their announcement blog:

‘Soon, you’ll be able to just say, hands-free, “OK Google, will it be sunny in Santa Cruz this weekend?” and get a spoken answer. Then, you’ll be able to continue the conversation and just follow up with “how far is it from here?” if you care about the drive or “how about Monterey?” if you want to check weather somewhere else.’

These developments haven’t just been good for voice search, they’ve revolutionised the way we search for information.

What’s the future of voice search?

It’s difficult to predict exactly how we’re going to adopt voice search. Human behaviour is tricky that way. What we do know though, is that the way we consume content has become more and more streamlined over time. Where we used to have to trawl multiple webpages for exactly what we needed, we can now ask one question that a search engine can accurately answer.

Google published its guidelines for how Google Assistant answers queries. This is a great insight into how not just voice searches, but all searches, are going to evolve. Natural language processing allows us to find what we need in our own terms, and conversational speech predicts what we might want next - we expect quick and simple results. Voice search is a natural progression of what we’ve seen from search engines in the past 10 years. At I/O 2018, Google demonstrated the unbelievable capabilities of Google Assistant – onstage, the AI assistant successfully made a phone call booking an appointment without being recognised as an AI. The technology powering the AI is Google Duplex, and it’s only going to become more powerful.

As marketers, we should be very excited and aware of the progression voice search has made and will surely make in the future.

What are the benefits of optimising your SEO for Speakable?

For businesses, structured data markup is essential. Search engine spiders being able to parse your website will improve your domain authority, which will help you rank higher than your competitors. We don’t know all the details on Speakable just yet, as it’s still in beta, but the schema itself indicates ways we can optimise our content, especially for mobile. Voice search is a format designed for quick and easy questions – you’re more likely to search for a recipe or a news article than you are a treatise on ethics.

In order to optimise your content for voice search, you won’t have to change your SEO strategy dramatically (at least, not yet!). Optimising content for voice search is a similar process to getting a featured snippet: your content should answer a specific question your user has. This format transfers well to voice search, so your SEO strategy won’t need overhauling, just updating.

Let’s look at some things you can do right now to get Google Speakable ready.

How to make sure your SEO strategy is ready for Speakable

Use schema for rich results

Make sure important information is tagged appropriately so that Google can recognise key information like your phone number or business address. Using schema increases your chances at rich results for your website. Google keep their algorithms to themselves, so we don’t know the exact correlation between the two but optimising for both can only improve your SERP presence. Position zero at the top of the page is prime position for your business, so it’s worth using all the relevant markup you can. You can find the full schema list here.

Update your Google business listing

Considering the nature of Google Hummingbird, users are going to be searching for businesses local to them. Keeping your information up to date will increase your chances of appearing as a search result when users search for businesses like yours. High quality images, CTAs, relevant information and good reviews will signal to Google and your leads that your business is trustworthy. Google My Business can also show you how leads are finding your business, giving you a data-based insight to which keywords you should be optimising on your website.

Understand your user’s intent

What voice search indicates about user intent is that there are different ways users will interact with your content. People behave differently when they’re speaking aloud than when they’re typing. Rather than typing the two or three keywords they need, people are more likely to use full sentences when speaking aloud. That means longtail keywords will become essential when you’re optimising for voice search.

If you’re using schema to markup content as voice searchable, it should be content that your users would verbally search for. Your user-intent models should take voice search into account because these users are looking for the simplest information you have to offer.

So, is Google Speakable markup going to revolutionise SEO?

Google Speakable markup is a small step, but it’s a small step in an exciting new direction. It gives us a lot to think about when it comes to the future of SEO strategizing. Between algorithm changes and finding the perfect keywords, marketers are always finding new ways to innovate. By embracing voice search early, we’ll be ahead of the curve.

At Fifty Five and Five we’re invested in staying at the forefront of digital marketing and creating effective SEO strategies. Find out how we can help your business get ready for the future here.

Looking to improve your marketing?

We can help! Talk to us about your business and the specific barriers you come up against when trying to generate leads.

Get in touch


5 google algorithm changes in 2019

5 points of emphasis in the new Google algorithm and what that means for your SEO

  • The main Google algorithm changes you should focus on in 2019
  • How you can adapt your SEO strategy to prepare

Google's search algorithm changes a lot. Since 2000, there have been hundreds of large and small updates (you can view the full list here) that affect whether your content climbs or falls down search engine results pages (SERPs). For marketers, this means a new Google algorithm is always on the horizon.

These frequent and tight-lipped algorithm changes lead to much speculation around how businesses can change their SEO strategy to stay at the top of the rankings. While we never know exactly how the algorithm changes, in this post, we’re going to look at five areas you should pay attention to, to help adapt your SEO strategy accordingly.

1. Mobile-first index

With 60% of searches now performed on mobile devices, mobile compatibility is increasingly important as Google shifts its focus from mobile-friendly to mobile-first. The search giant has already split its search index in two—one for mobile, one for desktop, and announced back in November 2016 that mobile would eventually take priority:

“Our algorithms will eventually primarily use the mobile version of a site’s content to rank pages from that site, to understand structured data, and to show snippets from those pages in our results.”

That time has now come. In 2019, Google will combine the two search indexes into one, which will prioritise mobile when crawling.

What should you do?  

Check how suited your website currently is to mobile browsing with Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, which will tell you if your website is easy to use on a mobile device.

You must ensure your mobile site performs as well (if not better) than your desktop site. This means all your site elements must be functional and crawlable on mobile. It’s no longer enough to have a link to ‘view on desktop’ for webpages that don’t perform well on smartphones.

2. More focus on Featured Snippets

‘Featured Snippets’ appear above regular results on SERPs (referred to as position #0). So, if you can rank for them, they can provide a serious boost to your click-through rate and site traffic. Featured Snippets take many forms, from lists or reviews to event dates and answer boxes.

Google are going to continue to expand Featured Snippets in 2019, giving more importance to structured data. Structured data is a line of code that you can add to your site’s HTML that can provide Featured Snippets (also known as rich search results). By adding structured data, you can, for example, score an answer box for a common customer pain point in your industry or create a Knowledge Card for a more visually appealing overview of your company.

What should you do? Here’s what you need to do to add the structured data for Featured Snippets into your HTML:

  • Customize the code snippet
  • Create a Google Tag Manager tag
  • Paste the code into the “Custom HTML” text box and save the tag
  • Create a new trigger
  • Return to “Schema markup” and add the “Page view” as it’s trigger
  • Publish
  • Test using the Structured Data Testing Tool

Look out for an upcoming tutorial post on how-to create featured snippets to get your content up Google’s search rankings!

3. Telling it how it is

Voice search has been one of the biggest growers thanks to AI assistants like Cortana, Alexa and Google Assistant. In the past 10 years, voice searches on Google have grown 3,500%, and 40% of adults now use voice search once per day.

As we can expect this upward trend to continue, this puts further focus on mobile optimisation. But voice search also has the potential to change the structure of search terms. We can predict more ‘natural’ search phrases will come through voice search, as people tend towards asking more fully-formed questions.

It's worth noting that voice search will work hand-in-hand with Featured Snippets moving forward as AI like Google Assistant will read featured snippets aloud as the answer to querying search terms.

What should you do? Voice search will use longtail keywords - more conversational phrases should be used when optimizing for voice search. Your keyword strategy should match this. As they are more specific, long tail keywords generally have a lower search volume, but that also results in less competition and a higher conversion rate, i.e. the people searching for those longtail keywords know what they want.

Consider posing your voice search phrases as questions: “How to improve my SEO score?” for example. If you can combine this with Featured Snippet answers, you can make a considerable jump up Google’s SERP.

4. 'Linkless' mentions

In 2017, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes suggested that Google can now associate mentions without a physical link. These so-called ‘linkless mentions’ (i.e. positive reviews, testimonies, and other un-linked mentions of your company) will play a factor in SEO.

What to do: Try to gain as many positive mentions of your company, its products and people as possible. Whether it’s on your blog, website, or on external sites, Google will treat these testimonials favouringly, even if they are not hyperlinked. Don’t neglect real links, though, as these still give these mentions substance and evidence if people want to check what you’re saying is true. This isn’t an excuse to start embellishing your company!

5. Security-centric

Google admitted a while back that they prefer HTTPS sites in terms of security, and so rank them a little higher. In their recent roadmap, they revealed that in 2019 they will start punishing publishers who fail to add an SSL to their site.

What should you do? By enabling an SSL (secure socket layer) on your site, you can ensure any information going to and from your server is encrypted. This is what differentiates “https” from “http” (the ‘S’ stands for secure) and is a must if your site uses things like geolocation, online payments, or notifications that require the confidential transferral of information. Acquiring an SSL isn’t difficult—all you have to do is purchase a certificate and get your site host to activate and install it. The first free SSL certificates are being introduced, too.

Your new Google algorithm cheat sheet

Remember that the specifics of Google’s algorithm will always remain under wraps. But focusing on these five areas will stand you in great stead regarding best practice SEO for 2019. And make sure to keep up with the Fifty Five and Five blog—we’ll be blogging about any future updates to the new Google algorithm as and when they surface!


Do you need help getting your own content to the top of Google search ranking results? Fifty Five and Five are a full-service digital marketing agency. We combine great marketing with an innate understanding of the Microsoft Partner Network.

[edsanimate_start entry_animation_type= "tada" entry_delay= "0" entry_duration= "0.5" entry_timing= "linear" exit_animation_type= "" exit_delay= "" exit_duration= "" exit_timing= "" animation_repeat= "1" keep= "yes" animate_on= "scroll" scroll_offset= "100" custom_css_class= ""]

Looking to improve your marketing?

[mks_button size="large" title="Get in touch!" style="squared" url="https://www.fiftyfiveandfive.com/contact-us" target="_blank" bg_color="#ffffff" txt_color="#20a1d6" icon="" icon_type="" nofollow="0"]

[edsanimate_end]


Dimension Data case study

Dimension Data Content strategy and promotion

Dimension Data are a global Information Technology Services firm headquartered in South Africa. With a global annual revenue over $7.5 billion, they help their customers do great things in the digital age. Dimension Data bring together the world’s best technology to help clients grow, compete and serve their customers better wherever they are in the world. The company is especially well known for its use of technology to aid in the conservation of rhinos, and for their support role in the Tour de France.

Expert PPC campaign management

Dimension Data run multiple marketing campaigns each year around their research reports and thought leadership whitepapers. They were looking for a partner to help with strategy and promotion of that content and so engaged with Fifty Five and Five to support the management and execution of their digital media strategies - on the likes of Google AdWords, LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook and YouTube.

We now work closely with the Group marketing team at Dimension Data at the planning stages of each campaign, advising on the best channels for promoting their content. We actively manage a raft of paid media campaigns for them, allocating budget, monitoring impressions and clicks, as well as writing copy and designing creative assets.

For each campaign, we provide in depth reports to give them a transparent view of how the budget is being spent and the impact the campaign is having. We are proactive, reallocating spend and rewriting ads on different platforms to ensure the greatest success for each campaign. We make use of our close relationship with Twitter, Google, LinkedIn and Facebook, and can pick up the phone to their reps to resolve any issues and queries.

Our relationship with Dimension Data saves them a significant amount of time when it comes to planning, running and monitoring their campaigns. Our expertise in paid media means their spend is allocated in the most effective way, and we have helped them achieve or exceed their targets for clicks and downloads for all the campaigns we have worked on with them.

[edsanimate_start entry_animation_type= "tada" entry_delay= "0" entry_duration= "0.5" entry_timing= "linear" exit_animation_type= "" exit_delay= "" exit_duration= "" exit_timing= "" animation_repeat= "1" keep= "yes" animate_on= "scroll" scroll_offset= "100" custom_css_class= ""]

Interested in learning more?

[mks_button size="large" title="Get in touch" style="squared" url="https://www.fiftyfiveandfive.com/contact-us/" target="_self" bg_color="#ffffff" txt_color="#20a1d6" icon="" icon_type="" nofollow="0"]

[edsanimate_end]