The Science Behind Page Ranking

Before you ask, “How do I get my pages to rank #1 on Google?”, there’s another question you should ask first…

“How does Google decide its page rankings in the first place?”

To answer this question, you’ll need to learn how Google interprets search queries, how it matches different queries to relevant web pages, and how it ranks relevant pages in search results.

By understanding this process, you can start looking at keywords and content the way Google’s algorithm does. At that point, it’s much easier to create relevant content and craft it in a way that boost its ranking.

Determining Search Intent

Before Google calculates page rankings for a query, it first attempts to determine the query’s search intent. In many cases, this is an even more complicated process than the actual ranking of search results.

In determining searcher intent, Google looks at a range of signals. Some of these signals come from the query itself. Others come from data generated by billions of past Google searches. Google can also use data about your device and your Google history to make assumptions about your search intent.

This process has a lot of moving parts. So, to give you a sense of how this process works, let’s take a look at an example to see how Google might determine search intent…

Search Intent for “Restaurants Near Me”

Google has a gets over 20 million searches each month for “restaurants near me.” So, it has a ton of data to work with to figure out search intent.

Based on that data, Google knows that searchers who make this query are looking for restaurants in close proximity. But the user hasn’t told Google where “near me” is. Google has to look at the location of the device to determine where the user wants to search. So in addition to the query itself, Google will look at your location to determine search intent.

But Google’s analysis of search intent doesn’t stop there.

Google will also draw on data from other users searches to make educated guesses about your intent. For instance, Google knows that most people who search for “restaurants near me” are looking for restaurants that are currently open. So, Google might assume that you’re looking for restaurants with hours that line up with the time you made your search.

Google can also look at information from your Google history to narrow down your search intent. For example, if you tend to search for and visit burger joints and ramen shops, Google might assume that you’re looking for fast-casual restaurants based on your Google Maps history.

These factors — along with several others — help Google figure out the search intent for any given query. But once it’s determined that intent, how does it actually rank its search results?

Calculating Page Rankings

Once Google has determined a user’s search intent on a given query, it needs to do two things. First, it needs to sort out the relevant search results from the non-relevant results. Then, it needs to rank those results from most-helpful to least-helpful.

To sort and rank search results, Google’s algorithm looks at over 200 different signals. These signals include your site’s security certificate, the frequency of keywords and related terms in your content, the layout of your webpage, the backlink profile of the page, and many, many more.

What’s more, Google will weight these signals differently for different queries. For example, if Google believes that searchers are looking for detailed information on a topic, it will reward pages with a higher word count. In other cases, Google might believe that users are looking for shorter, to-the-point content. In these cases, it may reward pages with a lower word count.

Google can even weight these signals differently for the exact same query, depending on contextual signals. Here’s an example of how that can occur…

Calculating Page Rankings for “Black Hole”

If you searched for the term “black hole” on March 10, 2019, Google would assume that the intent of your search was to find general information about black holes. It would then adjust its ranking factors accordingly.

To do so, it would look for pages on trusted domains that specialize in general information (like Wikipedia) or space science specifically (like NASA). It would give higher rankings to pages with longer word counts and keywords related to the subject of black holes. And it would look for pages with high volumes of inbound links from trusted sources.

But if you conducted the same search on April 10 — the date that the first-ever image of a black hole was published — the results would look entirely different.

Based on signals from news sites, social media, and search habits, Google would assume that most searchers were looking for content about the black hole image. So, it would reconfigure the weighting of ranking factors to find pages related to the breaking news story.

To do this, it would prioritize more results from trusted news sites, like The New York Times and CNN. It would also prioritize recently published pages, rewarding newly posted content. And it would reward pages that contained trending keywords in other news stories and on social media.

The end result? A completely different set of rankings.

Bottom Line = Finding the Most Helpful Results

Based on this overview of how Google calculates page rankings, it’s clear that the process is complicated. At this point, even Google’s own engineers don’t fully understand why some pages rank ahead of others.

But if you’re looking for a general guideline on how Google’s algorithm ranks pages, look at this this way…

Google is trying to serve users with the content that they consider most relevant and most helpful for any given search. The best way to achieve high rankings is to approach content creation with the same goal: try to anticipate the pages that users are looking for, then create your content accordingly.

Mastering the Essentials of Organic SEO for 2019

For many brands, organic SEO is a tricky part of digital marketing. On the one hand, organic search plays a huge role in modern purchasing behaviors. On the other hand, modern search algorithms — like Google’s AI-driven RankBrain algorithm —are increasingly opaque. They’re also constantly changing, which raises concerns about the long-term impact of optimization.

However, if you can master the basics of modern SEO, the returns are well worth the investment. Consumers rely on organic search at multiple stages of the sales funnel, many of which are critical to purchasing decisions. And because organic search is self-led, users are more inclined to trust high-quality content that they find through organic search.

The essentials of organic search in 2019 are significantly different from five or ten years ago. In this post, we’ll cover three of the most important (and most misunderstood) aspects of modern SEO:

  • How algorithms like RankBrain reward user-focused content
  • Why consumers expect more information than ever from brands
  • Where brands fit within the wider organic search ecosystem

Organic SEO Essentials for 2019

Content for RankBrain = Content for Users

From day one, Google has urged brands to create content for users instead of search engines. In the past, brands could safely ignore that advice. With the right backlinks, keywords, and metadata, it was relatively easy to increase your Google rankings. But that’s changed in the age of RankBrain.

With RankBrain, Google’s algorithm no longer uses hard-and-fast rules to determine rankings. Through machine learning, RankBrain is constantly refining its criteria for rankings. What’s more, these criteria differ from query to query. That means there are fewer and fewer best practices that you can safely apply across all of your pages.

The algorithm is now so dynamic and so complex that even Google’s own engineers no longer understand why certain pages rank better than others. But given users’ off-the-charts trust in Google search, it appears that RankBrain is doing its job: serving users the best and most relevant results.

That’s why digital marketers are divesting themselves of hard-and-fast rules for SEO. Instead, they’re assuming that Google knows what users want, and they’re optimizing their content to provide that experience. This means doing as Google has long suggested: instead of trying to figure out what Google’s algorithm expects, they’re creating content based on what users actually want.

Consumers Want More Information Than Ever

Thanks to RankBrain, brands need to create content that users want. But these wants are constantly evolving. That invites the question: What are users actually searching for in 2019?

A recent clickstream study by Google sheds light on the answer. According to this study, users have become much more research savvy than those of the past. The typical user relies on organic search to research different products and services before making a purchase decision. A growing number of users will research products, services, and brands on a previously unheard of level, tracking down every morsel of info they can find.

Additionally, Google found that the research phase now frequently extends past the point of purchase. After buying a product or service, users continue to search for information that will help them make the most of their purchase.

Smart brands have already picked up on these changes, and they’ve adapted their organic search marketing to match. They take the time to understand their consumers’ research habits both before and after a purchase. They then optimize their content to answer users research queries and concerns.

Optimize Across Multiple Search Channels

When digital marketers talk about organic search, they’re primarily referring to Google’s main search engine. After all, 88% of users say that they use Google for most of their search needs. And the mark of a successful SEO campaign remains a #1 ranking on Google search.

This, however, ignores two important things…

First, Google operates a number of additional search engines, many of which are integrated with their core search offering. That’s why results from Google Maps, Google Images, Google News, and other Google services often appear within search results pages. Google also operates search engines for Google Assistant, Google Voice, and YouTube, to name just a few of its most widely used services.

Second, while Google is the focus of most SEO efforts, search engines from other companies are a huge part of the modern online ecosystem. There are Google-alternatives like Bing. Virtual assistants with built-in search, like Siri, Cortana, and Alexa. Social networks like Facebook and Instagram use their own search algorithms. And then there’s Amazon — the largest retailer on the planet, and the focus of intensive search optimization by vendors.

The bottom line? If brands want to maximize their organic reach, they need to think about how they fit into all of these different search engines.

Learn more about Qiigo’s Search Engine Optimization solutions here

5 Google Ranking Factors You Need to Know

Google Analytics ScreenIf your business relies on organic search traffic, Google’s algorithm can make or break your business. Websites that rank number one for popular search queries can rake in millions of hits per month. Meanwhile, websites that rank outside of the first ten results are often left fighting for scraps.


The good news? Effective search engine optimization (SEO) practices can launch you from the bottom of the pile to the top of the pack. The bad news? Google’s algorithm relies on literally hundreds of ranking factors. 


Thankfully, you don’t need to know every line of code from Google’s algorithm to boost your rankings in search results. So long as you optimize for the following five need-to-know ranking factors, you can achieve first-page rankings for key search terms.


1. On-Page Content

Bill Gates coined the phrase “content is king” back in 1996. Now, more than twenty years later, his words ring as true as ever. Content is far and away the biggest factor for Google search rankings. Barring a total-overhaul of Google’s algorithm, content will hold its crown for years and years to come.


When evaluating content for its search rankings, Google’s algorithm judges content in three key ways:


  • Relevance. To determine content relevance, Google looks for keywords from the user’s search query, other words and phrases related to the user’s query, as well as the density and placement of these keywords in the text.
  • Quality. In addition to content relevance, Google’s algorithm searches for signals that indicate high-quality content. These signals include the length and readability of content, user engagement metrics, and on-page errors like spelling mistakes or broken images.
  • Uniqueness. Google doesn’t want to show users several near-identical results of the same page. So if Google determines that two or more pages are overly similar, it will exclude all but one of those pages from search results.


2. Strong Backlinks

While Google’s algorithm measures certain signals of content relevance and quality, the search engine still relies on users to tell it which pages are best. This is accomplished by evaluating a page’s backlink profile:


  • How many backlinks point to this page?
  • How trustworthy and popular are the sites where these backlinks are found?
  • What keywords are used in the anchor text of these backlinks?


To achieve a first-page ranking for a competitive search query, both your page and your overall website will need a strong backlink profile. You’ll also need to make sure that your profile isn’t filled with low-quality or untrustworthy links, which can result in Google punishing your page in search rankings.


3. Social Signals

Google has spent more than a decade telling users that social media signals are not a part of its algorithm. Yet multiple studies have shown an undisputable link between a website’s social media signals and its rankings in Google search results.


Despite these studies, many SEO experts believe that Google is telling the truth and that it doesn’t measure social media signals. Instead, they hypothesize that social media helps drive other factors that Google does measure. The more a news story is shared on Facebook, the better that page’s engagement metrics will be, the more backlinks it will accrue, etc.


So, while Google might not be tracking your Facebook share counts, social media plays a big — likely indirect — role in the search engine rankings. To rise in Google’s rankings, brands are wise to focus on social media.


4. Mobile-Friendliness

Over 60% of internet traffic now comes from mobile devices, and that number continues to grow year after year.


Google knows that most of its users are viewing pages on mobile devices, and its algorithm reflects this. Back in 2016, Google switched to a mobile-first format, meaning pages with mobile-friendly design would rank higher than pages with poor mobile functionality.


More than 80% of all webpages now meet Google’s standards for mobile-friendly content, and pages that meet these standards perform far better in search rankings. So, if you want to rank well against these pages, you’ll need invest in mobile-friendly design.


5. Technical Factors

In the past, technical factors played a bigger role in Google’s search rankings. While the impact of these factors has diminished in the past decade, they still play a big role in the search engine rankings.


Here are three of the most important technical ranking factors right now:


  • Meta data. Meta data continues to have a big impact on Google rankings. For best results, your title tag and meta description should include important keywords, encourage user engagement, and fit Google’s character limits (roughly 70 characters for title tags and 160 characters for meta descriptions).
  • Crawlability. Google captures data by crawling the web, jumping from link to link to link and capturing page data as it goes. If Google’s robots can’t find your page due to poor site structure, or if your page blocks them from crawling, you won’t appear in search results.
  • Encryption. Google now expects HTTPS encryption on every website. If you don’t have HTTPS encryption in place, Google will lower your pages in search results. It may even block users from visiting your website through Chrome.


Click here to learn more about search ranking factors and Qiigo solutions to help you navigate and manage your online presence.

Bridging the Gap between PPC and SEO

With digital marketing playing a larger role that ever, SEO and PPC must work closer together…yes we said together. In the past, old-fashioned tactics kept many digital marketers from truly integrating these two efforts.


Some have viewed SEO as a threat to revenue generated by PPC. Some have even chosen to divide these efforts. However, this tends to lead to miscommunication or worse yet mixed messages being disseminated to consumers.


We recommend integrating PPC and SEO efforts to strengthen results and improve brand awareness and sales. How? Let’s start by looking at the basics. What’s the difference between SEO and PPC?


SEO, Search Engine Optimization, is the process of optimizing your site, so it can be ranked higher on search engine results pages (SERP). This is done by targeting specific keywords or phrases. Keywords or phrases should be determined based on those that may be entered most often in the search by a specific audience. A consistent and long-term SEO strategy will build your website’s value.


PPC, Pay Per Click, drives website traffic in the form of ads. The fees are based on how competitive the keyword you want to rank for is. Since they are paid ads, PPC ads appear above the organic SEO listings on SERP. PPC can be pricey if your marketing is misguided (or the product is new or testing has not been done) and the learning curve requires the analysis of website variables to determine ROI.


Working Together for the Greater Good

So, what are the advantages of running SEO and PPC together? SEO and PPC work best when integrated and strategically aligned. With both avenues having strengths and weaknesses, working together often drives response towards more favorable results. Studies have found having a paid ad visible in conjunction with an organic listing improves the brand’s influence.


Let’s talk a little about some of the “greater good” we found by putting SEO and PPC in the same room:


  • Keyword and conversion data from Pay per Click campaigns can utilized to improve organic search.
  • By targeting clicks with PPC and focusing on high-performing keywords in SEO, you can impact the total volume of site traffic.
  • Expensive keywords, high-volume keywords, and essential keywords that tend to be low for conversions can be moved from PPC to organic search. Be sure to always place your keywords in the title and headline tags, meta descriptions, content, and don’t forget the ever-important image descriptions!
  • Your PPC traffic data can be used to boost your SEO and find your best performing landing pages. Use A/B ad copy testing and landing pages to update and feed your organic listings and landing pages.
  • After an initial consumer touch via organic search, it’s essential to stay top of mind through remarketing or retargeting. You want to be present in as many online entry points as possible, so don’t discount the value of using SEO to boost PPC.
  • Testing your keyword strategy in PPC before investing in a long-term SEO strategy can help you to target users at different stages of the purchasing journey.


Sharing a Room Can Work!


In the end, we know that when it comes to increasing traffic, whether it’s SEO or PPC everyone has their favorite, but they can (and do) co-exist.  Brands still need to have data for any new product or product line, service, or consumer campaign, so using SEO and PPC data in conjunction with one other along with aligned marketing initiatives and strategies is well worth the effort.



How Search Algorithms Work

search algorithm picturePop to the top, it’s what we all want for our websites. We know what we want, but do we understand it and know how to get there? Let’s start with what a search algorithm is, then how it works.


What is a Search Algorithm?
A search algorithm is not a formula, it is a combination and series of multiple processes and sets of rules used to solve [search] for specific information. These processes and rules are based on step-by-step procedures used to find the desired data among the plethora of the internet data collections.


When diving into the seemingly bottomless pools of internet data the rate at which the requested information is processed and ultimately received depends upon the depth and complexity of the algorithm parameters. Multiple algorithms can co-exist and affect each other.


How Do They Do It?
With so many ways to search the web for information, we will discuss how Google uses search algorithms to find what you’re looking for!


First, as a search engine Google provides users with relevant information based on their search. The search engine ranking or SERP is made up of a combination of algorithms. These algorithms analyze what the searcher’s intent was and to return results to fulfill that objective. Google is constantly refining and adjusting their algorithms to assess searches and the results in finer detail. The goal is to make the SERP more accurate so it works better for you.


How it works has no quick, easy answer. To better understand how search algorithms work we have broken in down into 5 parts.


Part 1: Analysis
Analyzing what you want, through the use of words, a search engine deciphers what you want, including misspellings, and this is done through indexing. Factors that contribute to faster or slower return may include domain and page authority (relevance to your search), content schedule (frequency of content publishing), and the popularity of the website.


Part 2: Search Matching
Next is webpage matching. Similar to Part 1: Analysis, search matching analyzes how often your search criteria appears on the web page, in content, or in other relevant places like images..


Part 3: Page Ranking
When you begin a search, have you ever thought about quantity of web pages with the potential relevant information you want? Thousands? Millions? No? Me either – you want the right information, quick, and now, right?


Google uses Googlebot with the support of crawling and indexing for a more robust search. Googlebot, a search software, collects and adds information to its seemingly endless index through the crawlers that continually move from website to website to feed it’s appetite for information.


Part 4: Context
Your information matters. Search algorithms count on your personal information such as previous search history, settings, and even location. This information is used to deliver relevant content to you for your specific area or location.


Think about the search term “football.” If your location is in London, you are more likely to retrieve soccer related content. As compared to the same search performed in Atlanta, which would most surely show NFL related content in general and Atlanta Falcons related content specifically..


Part 5: Results
This is where the rubber meets the road. Before you see your results, the information is calculated and sorted by relevance. Now is when a website’s SEO comes into play. Simply put, when the keywords entered your search engine match the keywords on a website, it’s a hit!


Algorithms work with a specific purpose in mind. In the case of a search engine, it is to produce the results the user wants. For example, the Panda algorithm was designed to examine content. While the Penguin algorithm evaluates links. While each algorithm is separate, they work together to influence rankings.


Remember, algorithms count on content, URLs, external and internal links, and images just to name a few factors. Take time to review your online presence and reach more users by optimizing your website through your content with keywords, meta tags, etc.


Local Search Tactics That Give You A Competitive Edge

As more businesses compete for a spot in the Google local 3-Pack, search ads, online directories, and local search engine optimization (SEO), it can become increasingly difficult to stand out from the crowd and get noticed by your customers and prospects. If you’re worried about your ranking and thinking about what direction to take in your overall strategy, it might be time to focus on Local SEO tactics that can set your business apart from the competition.
Below, we’ve outlined some local SEO strategies you can implement to help jump ahead of your competitors.

Take Advantage of Your Google My Business Page

Claiming your Google My Business (GMB) listing is an absolute MUST for local search success. If you don’t claim your GMB listing, you are severely limiting your chances of showing up in local search results.


But it’s also important to do more than just claim it and walk away. You need to take some additional steps including monitor the insights that Google delivers on how your prospects are engaging with your GMB. Look at the following stats to see how people are engaging with your listing:

  • Did you load good quality photos of your facility, products, and staff?
  • Do you keep your business hours for holidays or other unforeseen closures up to date?.
  • Are consumers reaching out using the click-to-call option?
  • Are consumers using the new Q&A feature? Are you responding?

Be sure to check which GMB category you choose for your business. The category set to your page can have a significant impact on your Google ranking. If you find your competitors are surging ahead of you in the 3-pack, check out their listing category. Are you in the same category? Is their category a better representation of your business? Consider making a change to see if it has an impact on rankings.


Don’t forget to use Google Posts to promote your business. Posts are like small ads that include a description, picture, offer, URL link, and call to action. Use posts to share information about products and services, promote sales or specials, communicate good wishes with customers, promote events, and more. Each post should include relevant keywords and your target geography.


Use URL Best Practices

URLs play an important role in your SEO ranking as well as the users’ experience with your site. The page URL tells visitors to your site, as well as search engines, what the page is about and guides your website structure.


Any new pages or blogs created should have a concise, yet descriptive structure. If you’ve written a blog post with the headline of Our Wide Variety of Custom Framing Options, you don’t need the whole headline in the URL. Reduce the URL structure to the keyword and a target geography if used.


Check Site Security

Google is firm in their insistence on secure websites. Sites that do not have security protocols in place will not rank as high. Users may see a “Not Secure” warning generated by Google if https:// protocols are not in place. As a result you could be losing a lot of business. When your site is secure, the https:// and the green locked padlock that appear next to your URL in Chrome demonstrating to visitors that you take their security seriously.


Add Quality Local Content to Your Site

Google rewards sites that have fresh content added to their site regularly. The added benefit here is that so do you customers. Adding blogs regularly to your website can help to create interest as well as improve your local rankings. Get more detailed information on creating content here.


The good news about maintaining your online competitive edge is that it’s relatively simple to do. Focus on increasing your visibility, monitor your traffic and traffic patterns, rely on analytics to help you improve the impact of your online presence, and you will generate more leads with the opportunity to transform them into paying customers.


Using SEO and Local Listings Together

You can go a long way toward preserving and enhancing your presence online by combining search engine optimization (SEO) and local listings. This combination can make your brand an online powerhouse.


Combining SEO and local listing efforts can actually prevent your business from being lost among all of your competitors. Here’s how you can use SEO and listings together to create a superpower presence online.



SEO Promotes Organic Rankings
A good SEO strategy will help your website rank higher on search engine results pages (SERPs) and drive traffic to your site. The higher you rank on SERPs, the more likely  prospects are to find you when searching for your products and services. Without a consistent SEO strategy, it may be hard to rank high enough to attract customers to your site.

Local Listings Help You Get Found Online
It’s no secret that consumers spend a lot of time searching online before actually visiting a store or making a purchase. This is why it is absolutely essential to be listed on Google My Business, Yelp, and other prominent review and directory sites. Listing pages will help you get your business in front of more people, no matter where they’re searching.

Own Your Company’s SERPs
Both SEO and local listings work hand-in-hand to promote your brand online. Search engines, such as Google and Bing, will take into consideration the consistency with which your business information is displayed online. The more consistently your key information (Name, Address, Phone, and Website) displays online, the higher your ranking. Additionally, the more places search engines can see your business information online, the greater the chance you have of appearing near the top of search results related to your products and services.


Combining your SEO and local listings efforts can go a long way toward making your brand an online powerhouse!



Getting Your SEO and PPC to Work Together

When it comes to developing a digital marketing strategy, search engine results pages (SERPS) are incredibly important. Make it to the top of the first search results page on Google, and your business is virtually guaranteed to have an increase in traffic heading to your website.


Search ranking can be improved with two very different approaches, search engine optimization (SEO) and paid search engine marketing (SEM). SEO is the unpaid, organic approach to higher rankings. It relies on high-quality content that is optimized to show as a top result for searches on specific keywords. SEM, also referred to as pay-per-click (PPC), is the paid approach to search ranking. Brands bid on certain keywords and pay to have their links appear at the top of search pages for those keywords.


While SEO and SEM can both help improve your rank on search pages, many marketers choose to put all their efforts in only one, or use these tactics in competition with one another. With both tactics approaching search so differently, it’s easy to see why divisions begin, but there are huge benefits to combining both strategies.

SEO and SEM: They’re Better Together

Simply stated, using SEO and PPC in tandem can lead to better engagement, conversions, and retention. Here’s why:


Be Everywhere At Once

Some believe that SEO and SEM are competing for the same SERP real estate, but that’s simply not the case. SEM can only reside in the sponsored or paid part of the SERP, the sides and top of the page. SEO optimized content will appear only in the organic search results.


When your marketing strategy incorporates both SEM and SEO, your brand will dominate the SERP and have an advantage over the competition. Another bonus? The more users see your brand listed, whether it’s paid or organic, the more they will trust your brand. This combined approach will help your brand gain trust with increased visibility and lead to higher conversion rates.


Clicks and Content: They BOTH Matter

SEM and SEO are both important, but in different ways. SEM brings more traffic, faster and serves a few purposes. It can bring your site traffic while you’re building your organic SEO and waiting for it to gain traction. Since it works much quicker than SEO, it’s perfect for testing out new ideas and campaigns in hours instead of weeks.


But SEM will not lead to audience growth and conversion without engaging content. That’s where SEO comes in. Informative, accessible copy improves retention and leads to higher conversion rates. It build trust and credibility with your customers, and encourages follow-through with your brand, whether it’s an immediate purchase or connecting on social media or via email. SEO content can also be repurposed and shared on social channels for extended reach.


For a digital marketing strategy that covers all your SERP bases, SEM and SEO working together are a winning combination.    



PPC Basics Part 1: Understanding Paid Search to Grow Sales

Pay Per Click BasicsPaid search is a powerful digital marketing tool, and can place your business ad at the very top of search engine results at just the right moment. But learning how to effectively use paid search (or PPC) can be overwhelming. Here’s a quick but comprehensive run down on the basics of paid search and how it can work for your business.

How Paid Search Works

Paid search refers to ads placed at the top of the results screen on search engines, like Google and Bing. Businesses bid for top placement on these results pages for keyword terms and phrases that are related to their products or services. An example of this would be a cleaning company paying to have their ad shown when a customer searches for “cleaning services”.


The benefits of paid search are easy to see; a customer is in need of a service you provide, and your ad appears at the top of their search. PPC ads generate leads, that when followed up on and closed, can generate more business for your company.

What’s the Difference Between PPC and SEO?

When you use paid searches, you get instant results in the form of ads that can generate web traffic and leads. When you stop paying for paid searches, your ads and web traffic abruptly stop.


Search engine optimization (SEO) is the process of increasing the visibility of your website in search results that are seen below PPC ads at the top of the page. SEO doesn’t provide instant results as paid searches do and should be seen as a long term investment in your website’s visibility. Ongoing SEO efforts will generate results that grow over time and provide free, organic web traffic.


Businesses looking to maximize their online presence use an ongoing strategy of combining SEO and PPC for maximum results.

Paid Search Acronyms (And What They Mean)

There are a slew of acronyms being used in the world of paid search. Here are some terms you may come across, and what they mean:

    • SEM: SEM stands for “search engine marketing” and can refer to any boost to your website’s visibility that you pay for, but it’s most often used in reference to PPC advertising.
    • PPC: PPC stands for “pay per click” and is the most common pricing structure in search engine marketing. Also referred to as paid search, it means that advertisers pay by the number of clicks an ad receives.
    • CPC: CPC stands for “cost per click” and determines the price an advertiser pays when someone clicks on their ad.
    • Max CPC: This is the maximum cost an advertiser is willing to pay per click. The CPC may come in lower than the Max CPC, but never higher.
    • CTR: CTR stands for “click through rate” and refers to the percentage of customers that clicked on your ad and how effective your ad is; a low CTR would indicate that many users are seeing your ad, but few are clicking on it.
    • CPM: CPM stands for “cost per mille” or cost per thousand impressions. It’s a different pricing model in which the advertiser pays based on how many times the ad is shown, not how many times it’s clicked.
    • CTA: CTA stands for “call to action, and it tells customers what to do next, such as “call now for an appointment” or “book today”.



This information touches on the basics of PPC, but how do you actually get set target keywords, get ads placed, and manage your campaign? We’ll cover that in our next post.



Nearly 60% of Search Traffic Now from Mobile Devices

Search Traffic from mobile

Recently, Google announced that mobile search traffic had overtaken desktop search traffic in the United States. Since then, Google has been tight-lipped on how much those number have changed. But two new reports suggest that nearly 6 out of every 10 searches now take place on mobile devices. The battle between desktop and mobile continues to take place.


These reports offer key insights and data regarding mobile vs. desktop search. Researchers found that mobile’s shares of search traffic varies significantly across different categories. They also found big discrepancies in the search results that Google returns when searches are made on different types of devices.


Smartphones & Tablets Dominating Search

The share of mobile search traffic reported in both studies was remarkably similar. The first report, which measured overall search traffic, found that 57% of searches originated from mobile devices. The second, which measured search traffic across 11 different categories, found that mobile devices accounted for 58% of search traffic on average.


Both reports used numbers pulled from analytics software for business, so these figures could be more representative of consumer behavior than overall search traffic. But from a marketing perspective, that actually makes these figures more valuable for brands and businesses.


The reports offered other key data points. In the first report, researchers found significant fluctuations in Google search results between mobile and desktop devices.


Over 79% of all search results had a different search ranking on different devices. This variance was less pronounced among top results, but still significant. 49% of top-20 search results had their rankings change from one device to another, and 35% of first-ranked pages lost their #1 ranking.


In the second report, the percentage of mobile searches varied widely between categories. Food and beverage (72%), health (68%), and sports (68%) had the highest shares of mobile traffic. Out of eleven categories, only three had less than 50% of their traffic from mobile devices: real estate (48%), entertainment (42%), and banking (39%).


The variance in percentages was even more extreme when researchers looked at different types of searches within each category. For instance, the percentage of mobile searches in the travel category (52% overall) went through the roof for queries about wait times (93%) but was far lower for queries about exchange rates (34%).


Takeaways for Mobile Search Marketing
The data in these reports offer a number of key takeaways for businesses and search marketing professionals.


• While the share of search traffic by mobile devices has grown in the past 2.5 years, that growth is slower than many predicted.


• Brands should think in terms of mobile SEO or desktop SEO, depending on which device they’re targeting. Rankings change between devices based on a number of factors, including page length, style of language, use of images/video, where key information appears, and — most important — how user behavior on the page changes from mobile to desktop.


• Even though mobile traffic is now 140% the size of desktop traffic, a mobile-first strategy isn’t best for all businesses — just most. A desktop-first strategy might still be your best bet, depending on the type of business you operate.


• Device targeting needs to be adaptive and flexible. How you target consumers and which devices you target will be different for different search terms, different products or services, different stages in the sales process, and different types of customers.