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.


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.


Illustration overlapping lettering spelling out seven

7 powerful steps to improve your partner co-marketing strategies

One of the core goals of any marketing strategy is to add more value and create more revenue in the most resourceful possible way. Co-marketing strategies are among the most popular and effective ways to achieve cost-effective and valuable marketing success. 

As the saying goes, ‘two heads are better than one’, and many companies find the value, expertise and resources of two companies can combine to create something greater than the sum of its parts.  

Co-marketing definition

Co-marketing refers to when similar, but non-competing, companies share or collaborate on marketing material.

Research by PwC and IAB shows that there has been significant growth in spending on these collaborative strategies over the past few years. According to the report, consumers spent £554 million in 2017 on affiliate marketing and lead generation activities.  

For other companies, however, co-marketing presents plenty of risk – particularly if the other partner doesn’t pull their weight. And there’s an understandable reluctancy to spend time and money collaborating with external partners with different goals, processes and priorities.  

So how effective is co-marketing – and how can businesses learn to tackle the complications and make the best of it? We’ve got some advice to get you on the right track.  

Is co-marketing actually effective?

If businesses choose their marketing partners carefully and navigate the complications, co-marketing strategies can be very effective. Some of the main benefits include:

  • Greater presence online
  • More backlinks
  • Better SEO impact
  • Ability to reach your partner's audience

Competition is fiercer than ever. Organisations are competing locally, nationally, internationally, online, etc. with each other. Digital transformation and cloud computing have allowed much smaller businesses to punch above their weight, business models are shifting, and so is marketing.

Today, marketing is a combination of thought leadership, lead generation, measurable SEO, analytics and much more. Partnering up with like minded companies is a great way to combine to get better results from your marketing strategy.  

So, how do you go about developing valuable co-marketing strategies that will enable you to reap the benefits of such a relationship? Let’s look at how to improve your co-marketing in seven simple but powerful steps.

 

Perfect your co-marketing strategies and plans in 7 steps

 

  1. Make the most of events to connect with potential partners
  2. Decide if the partnership makes sense
  3. Define roles and expectations
  4. Develop an appropriate co-marketing idea with your partner
  5. Know your audience
  6. Run local targeted events
  7. Guest blogging and sharing production costs

 

1. Make the most of events to connect with potential partners

The first step to creating an effective co-marketing strategy is to get yourself out there and connect with like-minded businesses. The obvious way to do this is to get on social media sites like LinkedIn and connect with people across your industry or sector. While there’s certainly some benefit here, there’s nothing quite like networking in person to work out if you and your potential partners really click.  

Luckily for Microsoft Partners, there’s plenty of conferences and networking events throughout the year to facilitate this kind of networking. The main calendar date for Microsoft partners is the annual Inspire conference, but there are a range of other smaller conferences and meetings running throughout the year. These are a prime opportunity for partners to learn about the upcoming Microsoft roadmap, as well as building connections with similar businesses.

2. Decide if the partnership makes sense

Choosing the right partner for your business is perhaps the most sensitive part of the whole process. If this goes well, the other parts of your plan could slot seamlessly into place. If not, you’ll risk wasting time and money on a project that won’t get off the ground. So before you decide to go ahead with a co-marketing strategy, there’s some important questions you should ask yourself.  

The first and most obvious barrier is whether you get on with people in the other business enough to be able to effectively create content. That doesn’t mean being best friends, but it requires a certain rapport, as well as shared values and ideas that can ease the friction between two companies.   

You should also consider what the other company brings to the table from a more practical viewpoint. Is their reputation strong enough that your business will benefit from the association? Can they bring skills and expertise to the table that you will benefit from – or are they offering resources you already have in-house?  

After that you should consider whether the resultant content would benefit from collaboration with your potential. Do they have a similar enough audience that a combined effort would make sense? Would a collaborative marketing effort actually create more tangible leads for your business than your normal efforts? 

If your answer to all of these is positive, then there’s a good chance your co-marketing venture will be a success.  

3. Define roles and expectations

Once you’ve found a company to partner up with, you need to define clear roles and expectations for what you aim to achieve. 

This involves discussing timeframes, costs and responsibilities. It’s important to clearly define early on who’s responsible for what aspects of the project, to reduce any risk of complication further down the line. The last thing you want to have to do is have an argument halfway through the project about who was supposed to complete a particular task, or contribute certain funds.  

It’s also a good idea at this point to clearly define what the project is intended to achieve for both parties. All collaborations require a little give and take – and both sides should be fully aware of the other’s objectives when they’re working on the project.  

4. Develop an appropriate co-marketing idea with your partner

Once you’ve defined your goals, roles and expectations, it’s time to flesh out the plan in more detail and create a more tangible content strategy. At this point, you should consider the shared objectives and choose the type of marketing that best suits the compromise. This could include any of the following: 

  • eBooks 
  • Blog posts 
  • Co-sponsored whitepapers 
  • Videos 
  • Webinars 
  • Research projects 

Each of these different types of content will achieve a slightly different thing, and it’s important to tailor the content to the combination of skills and objectives between the two partners.

Grab yourself a free copy of our “A fool-proof guide to content marketing” eBook!

 5. Know your audience

Knowing yours and your partner’s audience is a key part of creating content that ticks both your boxes. Two businesses’ audiences are rarely exactly the same, and it’s important that a compromise is found. 

Writing for one audience can be difficult enough without having to negotiate the requirements of another entirely – so it’s important that you think carefully about how the two fit together. One of the most effective ways of doing this is to create and share marketing personas 

A persona creates a fictional character that’s the personification of your average potential lead or client. It runs through their company, situation and job role, considering why they’re interested in your product and what the reasons they may or may not be convinced to purchase. If you share your personas with each other, then you can make sure your marketing material is properly aimed towards both characters.

6. Run local targeted events

With two companies, you have twice the resources. That means twice as much money you can put into pushing your content out there and twice the number of clients and partners that would be interested in it. In short, with co-marketing projects, there’s more scope for you to generate some noise and excitement about the project.  

Depending on the size of the task, it could be a good idea to organize an event or launch to get people together and promote your work. That could involve bringing together speakers from around the country or even internationally and inviting your partners, clients and potential customers. This gives you the opportunity to split the planning, logistics and cost of the event with your partner and stir some real interest amongst people within your respective networks.

7. Guest blogging and sharing production costs

Guest blogging refers to when a blog writer develops content for a blog that is not their own. This can expose your brand to a different audience, increase your traffic to both parties’ blogs, boost your brand’s authority, build relationships in the field, and provide your own blog with fresh content from guest bloggers.  

The other value of this is it allows you to generate backlinks, which provide valuable SEO benefits for both sides. If you and your partner agree to guest blog on each other’s websites, you both get a free backlink and a free post – which sounds like a pretty good deal for both parties.

Co-marketing examples

There are many successful marketing collaborations and co-marketing examples that might inspire you. We will list a couple of marketing cases where brands have successfully collaborated and, in some cases, even made it to the advertising history.

Intel Inside

The Intel Inside campaign put a then relatively unknown brand on the map. Before the campaign started, they have launched a 'Red X' campaign where Intel crossed out their competitors' 286 processing unit, implying it was outdated and advertised their brand advantages instead.

 

"Red X" campaign

After the 'Red X' ad followed the Intel Inside campaign, which was designed to sell the processors to the consumers, instead of original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) only.

They've started it with a simple logo with the words 'Intel Inside' within an imperfect circle, which signalled straightforwardness. The collaboration progressed when Intel asked OEMs to place its logo on their tech parts and advertising materials so Intel would automatically be associated with innovation and high quality. And in return, OEMs would receive subsidies.

Intel Inside logo

The results spoke for themselves, as 500 OEMs signed up, and Intel increased its brand awareness, appearing on radio and TV. The campaign was crowned as one of the most successful of the 90s due to its inventive branding approach.

Uber and Spotify

The collaboration between Spotify and Uber seems unlikely. But look deeper, and you will find that both companies gained significant advantages from this marketing campaign.

Spotify wanted to target people while they're commuting and drive more sign-ups for their Premium service. Meanwhile, Uber would benefit by offering a more personalised experience with customers being able to connect to the car's playlist and adjust the volume while travelling. This would differentiate Uber from the competition.

As a result, a partnership with Spotify seemed like the next step, so their collaborative campaign rolled out in 2017 across ten major cities worldwide.

Overall, the campaign was a success, despite Uber's ongoing scandals.

Going in the right direction with co-marketing

In the current, competitive business landscape, taking advantage of partnerships across a range of business functions can help your organisation reach important new heights and milestones. And partner co-marketing is a great way of boosting your resources in a way that delivers excellent value. So, whatever the nature of your business, make sure you take maximum advantage of the potential and opportunities available from other business across your networks. 

As a specialist B2B marketing agency, Fifty Five and Five are experts on marketing for B2B technology companies. We’ve got the knowledge and expertise to help you pull off a successful digital marketing campaign – whether that’s a solo mission or a co-marketing venture. Get in touch with us to find out more.

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.

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importance of backlinks

The importance of backlinks: What they are, why you need them and where to get them

  • What are backlinks and why are they important?
  • How do you get them?
  • Looking at your competitors for help on getting traffic to your site

What is a backlink?

A backlink refers to any link from one website to another. There’s often a little a bit of confusion about the difference between outbound links and backlinks. In essence, they refer to either end of the same link; the definitions refer to the direction of traffic. If I link to your website, I create an outbound link from my website, and you receive a backlink to yours.

There are plenty of different reasons why people would choose to link from their website to someone else’s. Perhaps it backs up their point, provides valuable citation information, extra information, or could just be of general wider interest. One thing’s for sure though: getting backlinks is SEO gold.

So why are backlinks important? And how do you get the best out of them? Here’s more.

The importance of backlinks

The importance of backlinks lies in their value to Google search results. If there are two articles about the same topic – blog A with 10 backlinks and blog B with 5 – there’s a good chance Google will actively rank blog A higher.

But it actually goes one step further than this as well. Let’s say both blogs A and B link off to their own external sources; blog A to blog C, and blog B to blog D. Automatically, blog C gains more ‘vote’ value from their backlink than blog D did, since Blog A is considered more useful a source to start with than Blog B.

Google aggregates all of these scores into an overall ‘domain authority’ (DA) score. Though Google’s own scores are secret, you can get an approximation of your website’s DA score using Moz’s DA checker.

What about no follow links?

As it turns out, not every external link is inherently valuable – as Google themselves discovered back when they first rolled out the algorithm. As soon as the world of SEO first discovered this tool, it was like Christmas: all you needed to do was manually input links to your website in website comments sections and watch as those all-important SEO ‘votes’ pour in.

These links can all be classified broadly as ‘user generated’ – couldn’t be reliably trusted to determine whether a page had DA value. In 2004, Google changed the algorithms, so most links created by external users, rather than by the website admins, have ‘no follow’ tags in the URL – meaning search rankings basically ignores them.

How to get backlinks on to your website

So, you know that you can’t simply go onto another website and put your URL everywhere. Or, more accurately, it would be a waste of time and achieve little to no SEO value.

As it turns out, you need to earn your backlinks. The simplest, and most honest way is simply to write decent quality content that people find good enough to link to.

The problem with SEO, however, is bad rankings make it hard for people to find you, meaning they’re unlikely to link to you, which will further contribute to bad rankings - however good your content is. So occasionally, you need to give things a little boost.

The best way to ‘earn’ backlinks is by guest blogging. You agree to take the time to craft a (hopefully) interesting, engaging piece of content for someone else’s website, and in turn they’ll agree to provide you with a backlink. Everybody wins: they get a free blog, you get a backlink, and the reader gets directed to your platform if they liked your content. Easy.

But that’s not the only way you can go about earning your backlinks.

Your competitors can help

Let’s look at an example.

Anna and Helen both run similar websites and compete for traffic. Grace is an unrelated third party who found an interesting blog on Helen’s website and linked to it from her own.

Thus, a backlink is created to Helen’s website. Good for her. Here’s the catch though: one day Helen changes the page’s URL without setting up a redirect, meaning she loses all that SEO value and Grace’s readers get sent to a 404 error page. Bad for Helen, bad for Grace.

This is where Anna comes in. She’s pretty savvy at competitor analysis and decided to do a Screaming Frog test to find all the 404 errors on Helen’s website, then used Moz’s open site explorer to see which of those have backlinks. She comes across Grace’s link, who doesn’t know the link is directing her readers to a 404 page.

Anna writes a blog on the same topic as Helen’s original and publishes it on her own website. Then, Anna gets in touch with Grace, informs her of the broken link, and asks her to replace it with the one to her rewritten blog. Grace, knowing that broken links aren’t great for her user experience thinks ‘why not?’ and quickly changes the link anyway.

Grace wins because she gets a functional link and better user experience. Anna wins because she gains SEO value and traffic. Helen doesn’t notice the difference because the broken link wasn’t providing her with SEO value anyway.

This process can involve a lot of groundwork without any guarantee of result. There’s no guarantee you’ll find 404 pages with backlinks that you can reproduce, and there’s no guarantee your equivalent of Grace would agree to change the link to your page once you’re done. But if you’re struggling for SEO traffic, failing to get backlinks and losing out to your competitors, it could definitely be worth the search.

SEO marketing for Microsoft Partners

On the surface, SEO is a fairly simple concept; the process for improving your search rankings and getting more traffic to your website. In reality, it requires a knowledge of a wide range of techniques, of which backlinking is just one small part. In our experience, B2B technology companies often find their time and skills are better spent focusing on what they’re best at. However, the importance of backlinks shouldn’t be underestimated.

Get in touch with the experts here at Fifty Five and Five to find out more about specialised SEO marketing for the Microsoft Partner Network. Want to read more about SEO for B2B technology companies? Check out our content here.

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how to get a featured snippet

How to get a featured snippet for your website

  • What are featured snippets?
  • How can you get your content in a Google featured snippet? 
  • How tech companies can benefit from getting content into featured snippets

A featured snippet is coveted by content writers and web developers alike, across almost all industries and disciplines. That’s because, when your content is featured as a ‘snippet’ in Google search engine results, you can expect a lot more traffic to come through to your site. Even if your blog isn’t the number one search result, if the result is framed by a box, it is more likely to draw the user’s attention. That should mean it will be read and clicked on by a lot of people who are in the market for what you are selling.

What is a featured snippet?

It is simply a featured section of content from a web page that is relevant to the terms or phrase searched for. Usually, it appears at the top of the search results page, highlighted in a text box. If you use Google (and really, who doesn’t!) you’ve seen them. If you haven’t, ask your search engine a question: “how to write a tech blog?” for example. The results will likely contain a featured snippet in a text box giving you a quick answer to your query.

The goal or purpose of a featured snippet is to provide the user with a quick answer to their question, saving them having to read through many different webpages.

According to reports, about 12.29% of search results have featured snippets on the results page. If you can optimise your content so that your search engine will decide it answers a question, you massively boost your chances of readers visiting your website.

how to get a featured snippet

 

Most featured snippets serve to answer public queries quickly in as few words as possible, by search engines extracting related information from all online content. Therefore, tailoring your content to answer a specific question will massively boost your chances of readers visiting your website.

Getting your content into a featured snippet?

There is no exact formula for guaranteeing a featured snippet of your content, especially as Google’s search algorithm continues to evolve. However, there are certain measures you can take to give yourself the best chance.

  • Find keywords you’re currently ranking highly for
  • Choose a page to optimise for an answer box
  • Choose the kind of answer box you want to rank for
  • Edit the copy to be ‘answer box- friendly

4 tips on how to get a featured snippet in Google for your content:

1. Find keywords you’re currently ranking on page 1

Search engines like Google will extract its featured snippets from the top ten ranked web pages. You don’t have to be the first ranked page to get a featured snippet. It can extract answers from any of the ten organic results on page one. So, even if your page is at the bottom of the first page, with the right optimisation Google is still likely to extract your information and turn it into a featured snippet.

Choose blogs or web pages you currently rank on the top page for. To do this use an analytics software site like Moz. If you don’t rank on the top page, you need to get there first. Do this by optimising your content. See our other posts to help you with this.

2. Select a page to optimise for a snippet

A blog on company news, or an update to your product, probably won’t be right for answer box optimisation. You will likely need a page that answers a question. Choose a page and tweak if necessary to improve its SEO optimisation.

3. Change the copy to be more appropriate for a featured snippet

The most important thing to know about optimising content to be answer box-friendly is that, at present, the featured snippet algorithm seems to be less sophisticated than Google’s more general search algorithm. Using specific formatting headers like H2 and H3 can help Google to see your information as a featured snippet.

So, make your content as simple as possible for the best chance at netting a featured snippet. For relevant content to be extracted, it’s a good idea to state what the content on the page is about in a way that is understandable. This especially goes for technical content that can sometimes be difficult to grasp. Turning a piece of content from a detailed review of a work process that contains all the right information into a ‘Top 5 process best practice’ article is a good example. By using a list format to simplify your content, you are making the content more snippet-optimal.

4. Optimise your current content

  • Rename your blog titles to include words like ‘how to’
  • Use numbered lists
  • Write copy which clearly shows that the content is an answer to something. For example: “how to” or “easy ways to”
  • Write a short title or introductory sentence which includes your keyword, immediately before the content you wish to be in the featured snippet – that could be a list, a paragraph or a table.

The featured snippet bump

A featured snippet for your keywords could be a serious boost to your page visits, which directly correlates to the number of leads you can expect to receive. Our clients are tech organisations, who are predominantly part of the Microsoft Partner Network and we believe that these companies are really missing out on the huge ROI that featured snippets can offer them.

So if you think your company could do more to optimise its search results and get a greater return from its marketing, get in touch and see how we can help.

 


Fifty Five and Five are a full-service digital marketing agency, guiding clients through the entirety of the content process—from ideation and creation to distribution and analytics. For more information, get in touch with us today.

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