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.

Everything You Need to Know About Google Job Search

When you’re searching for a new job, where do you look first? While some job seekers head to sites like Monster or Glassdoor, a lot of candidates — if not most — start their search with Google.

The launch of Google Jobs in the summer of 2017 reshaped the landscape for sites like LinkedIn, Glassdoor, and Monster. These sites depend on Google for a huge chunk of traffic, so they had to adapt quickly to this change. To do so, many of these websites decided to integrate their postings directly into Google’s new search engine, ensuring they appeared in search results.

But Google’s job search also affected other businesses, like staffing firms, recruiting companies, and employers who post jobs to their own websites. Unfortunately, many of these businesses have struggled to adapt. Their job postings either rank poorly on Google, or they don’t rank at all.

If you’re one of these businesses, you’re probably losing out on a huge chunk of qualified applicants. To regain these candidates, you’ll need to rank well on Google job search. And to do that, you’ll need an SEO strategy tailored specifically for Google’s job search engine.

The good news? That’s not nearly as tough as it sounds…

How Google Job Search Works

Before we get to how your job postings can rank well on Google, let’s take a look at how this service functions.

While Google uses a distinct search engine for job postings, this service is integrated into the company’s main search engine. This means that when a user searches for jobs using Google, they get slightly different search results.

  • While the user will still see the usual organic search results, they will also see a “Jobs” panel above the organic results. This panel will include the three top-ranked job listings. The job listings include basic information, like the job title, the job location, and the site on which the job was posted.
  • If the user clicks on a job listing (or clicks on the link for “more jobs”), they are taken to a separate page of search results. On this page, they can view job details for individual listings. If a user is interested in applying for a job, they can click a button that allows them to view the job posting on its original website.

That might seem fairly simple. Where things get a little more complicated is on the back-end.

One of the key features of Google’s job search engine is the information that it includes for each job listing. To ensure this information is accurate and complete, Google relies on structured data markup. This means that your job postings won’t appear in these search results if they don’t include the right kinds of markup.

On a very basic level, this means you have two options if you want your job postings to appear on Google:

  1. You can post your jobs on a site like Monster, Glassdoor, or ZipRecruiter. These sites are integrated into Google’s search engine, so their postings automatically include the right markup.
  2. You can implement markup on job postings by yourself, either through in-house efforts or with the help of an outside agency. This means you’ll be responsible for including the right markup.

Whichever route you choose, you’ll need to do further work on your posts. Even if you include the right kinds of markup, you won’t rank well unless you’ve taken further steps to optimize your job posts. That requires a specialized form of SEO designed specifically for Google job search.

Optimizing for Google Job Search

search algorithm picture

Search engine optimization for Google job search is a niche form of SEO, similar to local SEO or eCommerce SEO. You’re targeting a specialized search engine, which requires a unique SEO approach.

Given the specialized nature of Google job search, you can’t rely on generic SEO strategies. While job search SEO uses some of the same strategies, job postings won’t rank with basic SEO methods.

We’ve compiled a few steps that we take when optimizing our multi-location brand clients SEO strategy for Google job search:

  • Essential Markup. There are eight types of structured data markup that Google’s job search engine requires. If any of these tags are missing or incorrect, Google will exclude the job posting from search results.
  • Additional Markup. There are several other types of markup that you can include in job postings. Strategic use of additional markup can boost your rankings in Google job search. However, it’s important that any additional markup is both relevant and properly implemented.
  • Keyword Targeting. As with any other form of SEO, you need to target the right search terms. First, you’ll need a sense of which terms job seekers are using to search for the types of jobs you offer. After that, you’ll need to include these terms in the right parts of your job postings.
  • User Experience. Google’s search algorithm will rank job postings based on how useful and relevant those postings are to users. Top-ranked postings will be easy to read, include detailed information, and answer job seekers’ most pressing questions about the position.
  • Campaign Tracking. Google Analytics now includes specific tools for tracking the performance of job postings. However, many third-party SEO tools aren’t built for job search. Chances are, you’ll need to set up a DIY system for tracking your job search campaigns.

Given the distinct nature of Google job search, you’ll need specialized talent if you want to optimize your job postings. If recruitment plays a critical role in your multi-location brand strategy, connect with one of our digital marketing experts  to learn more about our SEO and Google job search solutions.

SEO Pitfalls every Multi-Location Marketer Must Know

Running a multi-location business has a unique set of challenges. When it comes to marketing and SEO, those challenges can be magnified across all your locations. Whether your locations are spread across a large metropolitan area or across the country, there are some SEO missteps you should avoid. Let’s take a look.

At Launch

When launching any business, there are a few key things to consider. Simple things like naming and location can play a significant role in your SEO results. As a multi-location business, you’ve probably already gained some SEO juice for your brand, so naming conventions are less of a concern. However, as you expand, location concerns should be top of mind.


Google doesn’t recognize PO Boxes or virtual offices as public addresses. Each location should have a verifiable address for the local business listing. A home address can be used in place of a commercial location, however location owners should consider potential liability concerns associated with marketing their home as their business address.


Also related to location is the physical place the office is located. If your office is in a suburb of a major city, but you serve that city and want to rank for it, you could face obstacles. It’s important to advise future franchisees about the importance of the placement of their physical office or store and how it can impact their SEO results.


On Your Website

As a franchise brand, you probably already have a great website URL that is short and concise. This is a great first step. Making sure your URL ends in .com, is clear to consumers, is short and easy to type, is important. But past these initial steps, you need to take additional action to ensure your corporate site and local sites are all ranking well.


Much of this strategy relies on content. While it is common for corporate content to be pushed down local sites, this doesn’t help your individual locations gain traction on SERPs. You’ll want to be sure that as many pages on the local sites are customized for each location’s target market as possible.


Eliminating duplicate content helps to ensure neither the corporate or the local sites are downgraded. It also plays to the “rising tides lift all boats” theory. If your corporate and local sites are all ranking for the same keyword, you should see some additional juice across the whole network. It’s also important to have new content regularly added to both the national and each individual local site.


When building your site, be sure that each location’s NAP (name, address and phone number) are listed on each page of the site. This is most commonly achieved by placing this information in the header or footer. A contact us page is a must along with clear calls to action.


At Qiigo, we recommend the phone number always be placed in the upper right hand corner of your site in a clear, bold font that is easy to read. Phone numbers should be click to call optimized on all mobile sites. On each page, there should also be a clear call to action. This can be achieved through phone numbers, forms, and/or closing content with a clear message.


Don’t Ignore Local Listings

Multi-location businesses can’t afford to ignore their listings across the web. Here are a few quick tips on key points related to local listings.


    1. Keep locations compliant. Each local platform will have their own set of standards. Be sure your listings meet these standards. A completely filled out listing is also key. Don’t leave fields empty.
    2. Keep NAP (name, address and phone number) consistent across all mentions on the web. From your website to each local directory listing, your name, address and phone number should match as closely as possible.
    3. Clearing up duplicate listings is important. If there is already a listing for a local office, be sure to either claim it or have it closed down.
    4. Get all the information right. This relates back to 1 and 2 but also includes clear photos, correctly placed map markers, correct directions, and other key pieces of information.
    5. Keep an eye on your listings making sure you update any information as things change.


Staying on Top of Reviews

Reviews are one of the most scary and most beneficial things you can hope to get as a business owner. A rave review can lead to more business, while a negative review can wreak havoc. It’s important to stay on top of reviews and respond to ALL reviews regardless of the feedback. Yes, that includes the negative ones.


The more positive reviews you can acquire the better. Too few reviews or a onslaught of reviews that all come in at one time aren’t viewed favorably by Google. It’s best to work your way towards a steady stream of reviews backed by your superior customer service.


As you are acquiring reviews, remember that each platform has a set of guidelines for how reviews are managed. For example, employees or former employees cannot review an employer on Google+. Some platforms, like Yelp, specifically forbid you to ask for reviews. So just be careful that you aren’t’ setting yourself up for reviews to be taken down.


Perhaps most importantly, be sure you are monitoring your reviews and responding. It can feel devastating when a negative review appears. The key is to promptly respond and to take the discussion offline. Encourage the customer to call to discuss the problem and try to come to an agreement. Remember things get lost in translation online, in chat or email, so a phone or face to face discussion is really the best option. Once you’ve resolved the problem to your customer’s satisfaction ask them to remove or edit the review to show that you were proactive and resolved the problem. And, of course, a great big thank you to anyone who leaves a positive review is always a plus!


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!



Website Design with SEO in Mind: What You Need to Know

Most business owners know that search engine optimization (SEO) is important to the health of their website, but many don’t realize that SEO needs to be an integral part of website design from the get-go, not something that’s added as an afterthought.


Why? At its core, an SEO-friendly website will allow search engines to easily read pages across your site. The easier it is for a search engine to “crawl” and understand your site content, the better your website’s rankings in the search engine result pages.


But building a website that’s SEO-friendly and accurately represents your business and services takes careful planning, and can be complicated for businesses that have a difficult time documenting exactly what they do. So first things first.


If your website hasn’t been created around a digital marketing plan with a clear value proposition and business model, revisit that before anything else. If that’s all good, let’s continue.


Creating an SEO-Friendly Website

So how do you ensure that you cover all your SEO bases during website design, or redesign?


Here’s what you need to know about creating an SEO-friendly website:


Cover the Fundamentals:

  • Hosting – If your site is slow, your visitors will be unhappy and leave your page in the blink of an eye. Make sure your hosting follows these basic rules: be where your audience is, be fast, and be platform-specific when needed.
  • Domains – Your domain should make sense and relate to what you do, and all variations and subdomains should point at your main site.
  • CMS – The content management system (CMS) can greatly influence your success. With that in mind, choose the CMS that’s right for your needs, not the one a web company prefers.


Make Crawling Easy for Search Engines:

  • Indexation – Search engines need to read content to understand your site. For this reason, the primary content of your site should remain text-based, not images, flash, or video. Images, PDFs, videos, and content are also important and can be a great source of traffic for your site, but they need to be indexable.
  • Link structure – To index content beyond the homepage, you’ll need internal links that search engines can crawl. Tools like XML sitemaps, search engine directives, and your primary navigation can all help search engines discover new pages and crawl your site.


Structure Your Site So It’s Easy To Understand:

  • Categories, subcategories, and pages – These should be organized in a way that makes sense to users and search engines, with a clear and direct path. For most websites, a 3 to 4 level approach, where content can be easily reached within 3 to 4 clicks, works best.
  • URLs – Much like categories, subcategories, and pages, URLs can give further context to the information available. Follow a naming convention that makes it easy for users and search engines to understand.
  • Navigation – Equally important, navigation works with the structure, the URLs, and other components to help explain what each page is about. It can be easy to get wrong, and should be carefully considered before building your site. Great navigation will be easy for users to understand, and require little thinking on their part. Ensure your navigation is aa easy and natural as possible to prevent user frustration and confusion.


Bottom line? If your website is designed with SEO in mind, users and search engines will be able to quickly navigate and understand what your site is about, leading to happy users and better Google rankings.



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.    



How Important Is HTTPS in SEO Marketing?

HTTPS in SEO MarketingFor the past three years, Google has been pushing webmasters to shift from HTTP to HTTPS. This is part of their attempt to make the web more secure. One of the ways they’ve encouraged this change is by making HTTPS a ranking factor in Google search. But there’s still a lot of uncertainty about how important HTTPS is for SEO marketing.


Some recent data suggest that HTTPS plays a big role in modern SEO. For instance, only 1% of the web currently uses HTTPS, but roughly 40% of all first page results on Google are HTTPS pages.


That suggests that HTTPS is a huge ranking factor for SEO. But when you dig a little deeper, the picture gets slightly more complicated. In fact, some people maintain that HTTPS is more or less an SEO non-factor. Confused? You won’t be by the end of this post.


Understanding HTTP vs. HTTPS

Before diving into the role that HTTPS plays in SEO marketing, here’s a quick guide to what it actually is.


HTTP stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol.” Historically, HTTP is the way that websites create a connection to transmit data to users. Unfortunately, this connection is unprotected. HTTPS, on the other hand, stands for “Hyper Text Transfer Protocol Secure.” Unlike HTTP, it actually protects the website-to-user connection.


This is accomplished with SSL certification. On an HTTPS website, an SSL certificate secures the connection between the website and the user, using a security key. This security key authenticates the connection, encrypts transmitted data, and prevents hackers from exploiting this connection.


HTTPS protection is particularly valuable on certain websites. On ecommerce sites, an HTTPS connection prevents payment information from being stolen. The same is true of any website where a user is entering sensitive information or engaging in private communication. If you download files from a website, an HTTPS can also prevent hackers from corrupting the files during transmission.


While most websites don’t necessarily need this level of protection, it has been Google’s policy since 2014 to encourage HTTPS as the standard protocol for the modern web. To encourage HTTPS adoption, they announced that it would become an SEO ranking factor.


The question is how important has HTTPS been to SEO marketing since 2014? And how important is it in 2017 specifically?

The Importance of HTTPS for SEO

Since 2014, a number of SEO marketing experts have had the chance to measure the effect of HTTPS on SEO. Most analyses have found that HTTPS, on its own, has a marginal effect on rankings. This aligns with Google official position, which they gave in 2015, stating that HTTPS acts as a kind of “tie-breaker.” If two sites are equally ranked, but one uses HTTPS and the other doesn’t, the HTTPS site will rank first.


However, some SEO marketing studies have found that HTTPS gives a small boost to all websites, not just cases where Google needs a tie-breaker. The teams running these studies have seen cases where lower-ranked websites were able to leapfrog closely-ranked competitors thanks to an HTTPS connection.


Part of the reason for this might be the other ranking factors that HTTPS is tied to. HTTPS causes pages to load faster. Page speed is a well-known ranking factor. Users are also more likely to trust HTTPS pages, so these pages might have better user engagement signal.


So how is it that 40% of all first-page results use HTTPS, when only 1% of the entire web has adopted this protocol? The simple answer is that 1% happens to include most the web’s biggest and most trafficked websites: major brands, news sources, social networks, etc. These sites need to be secure, so they were some of HTTPS’s first adopters. At the same time, these sites already have a huge edge in SEO marketing. So even if it seems like HTTPS is giving them a huge boost in the rankings, they’re mostly ranking well because they’re doing everything else right.