I came across Matthew Woodward ‘s blog a month or so ago. This guy absolutely over-delivers with amazing content. If you are at all interested in getting your site ranking in Google, I urge you to grab your favourite beverage and sit down with his blog for an hour or two and just immerse yourself in all the great ideas.
A recent post was this one: http://www.matthewwoodward.co.uk/tutorials/new-google-ranking-factors-2015/
If you prefer to watch a video, there is the original video of the interview with John Limbocker on that page. But I have put the transcript below, with the bits I love the most highlighted. But make sure you read the full transcript (or watch the video) to get the most benefit!
Hey Matthew I want to really thank you for doing the intro and bringing me out to your audience, I’m really excited to bring this information out to you guys. I’m a little different to most of the SEO guys out there, I actually do this commercially and I do some training and I have a lot of people that bring me information, because I can decipher it, figure it out and then bring that back to them.
So I have no problem sharing information. Most of the guys in this industry when they find something that works they keep it really tight to their chest, and you usually hear about it after it’s done working, so I’m not like that, I like to show what’s going on right now and predictions for the future.
So we’re talking about SEO for 2015, this is what’s not only now but is coming, and I call this the final frontier. Obviously anyone that’s in SEO knows that’s not true, there’ll never be a final frontier because it keeps changing but what I say to people who are not prepared to make the journey into the future of SEO, is really, you just need to stay at home. So if you’re not prepared to make the journey, you really need to stay home.
So one thing you need to know about me is I’m not a hobbyist, I’m like a mercenary and like I said in the very beginning I do this commercially, I’ve been doing it since the very beginning. When I started doing SEO it didn’t even have a name! It was that far back, it was before Google, before yahoo, I remember doing something at (‘Pepperdine university’?) showing people how to get listed in Yahoo when it first came out and all kinds of people wanted me to do their SEO for them at that point.
That’s how I got involved in doing SEO for companies so I’ve been doing this for a very, very long time, and I don’t do it for fun I do it for pay. So I’m like a mercenary.
So some of the things that we’re going to cover here are, the evolution of SEO, so my methodologies are very different from a lot of people that you’ve probably heard or maybe followed in the industry. I’m not saying that anyone is right or wrong but I think you’ll see that I’m a little bit different in the way I go about this, and I’ve done it very successfully for many, many years and one of the things about my methodology is it’s very safe because I’m doing it for companies.
It’s not like I’m doing this for something that I could just throw away. It’s not some affiliate site where if I bomb it and tank it and do something that I shouldn’t have done and all of a sudden I’ve got to re-build it, I can’t do that for companies. I can’t just go in and say “I’ve trashed your site we need to re-build it!” I can’t get away with that.
So anyway that’s one thing about my methodologies that you’ll see, they are very safe and they are very effective as well.
I’m going to share a frightening discovery with you, I won’t talk about that right now, we’ll get into that when the time comes. It’s going to be really shocking for many of you, probably most of you, if not all of you. It alludes to a new thing that Google’s got that I’m going to call the bullshit meter, and we’re going to talk about how to beat that.
This is going to be really good for a lot of you guys, some really good information that most people have not heard. I know a lot of people at Black Hat World; these guys are out on the cutting edge, tip of the sword kind of stuff. I think a lot of the stuff I brought to light had not been heard or talked about yet. Anyway I’m happy to share it with you guys.
So let’s talk about the big problem, the big problem in SEO is it really is always evolving, it’s never going to stay the same. You’ve got 2 choices, you can either:
1) Evolve with it
2) You can let the best thing that ever happened slip through your fingers.
The reason that I say ‘the best thing that ever happened’ is because most people don’t realise why SEO is so good, why the traffic from it is so good, but it really is the best traffic that you can get and it’s the best form of advertising you can get. The simple reason for that is you’re putting yourself at the right place at the right time. It’s advertising that is being looked for versus interruptive advertising, where you’re interrupting somebody and you’re trying to get their attention.
It’s not like that, it’s like you show up right when they’re ready for you and they’re actively looking to buy what you’re offering. So there is no better form of advertising, there never has been. I’m not going to say there never will be because we really don’t know what’s ahead in the future. I know a lot of people would say, if you told me what was going to be happening now was going to happen 10 or 20 years ago, they’d tell you you’re out of your mind. But just know that as of now it is the best form of advertising that I’ve ever seen.
Far better than paid advertising. The conversion on organic search is off the charts as far as how well that converts compared to traditional paid advertising and the likes of.
So let’s talk a little bit about my methodologies. A lot of people have this concept of black hat, and everybody’s really concerned with what hat you wear. When you start talking to somebody that’s somewhat educated about SEO, as far as from a client stand point they’ll say, “Oh are you white hat or do you do that black hat stuff?” Really as far as this goes, the thing about black hat is that, if you do back hat right it’s undetectable and it is the way to go. I equate this to transportation, let’s talk about white, grey and black hat.
In transportation the equivalent of white hat would be walking, and the equivalent of grey hat would be driving a fast car and getting in trouble for it. Black hat would be getting on a private jet and getting where you need to go, and you’re there before anybody knew what happened. So that’s really my interpretation of black hat. Anything that you’re doing that’s going to get you in trouble, that’s what I call shit hat, that’s just like loading up a hat with shit and putting it on your head! So hopefully I didn’t offend anybody with that!
I was told at black hat world I could really speak my mind so I’m still on that path I apologise if I’ve offended anybody, that’s not my intention. It really is true you know? If you’re doing stuff that you’re not supposed to and you know you’re going to get caught then why even do that? Why even wear that type of hat. You know, a lot of people equate that to black hat and that’s not true.
Like I said, black hat is truly undetectable and there’s only one rule about black hat that I have and it’s; don’t get caught! That’s it! If you’re doing stuff where you’re not going to get caught, you’re the invisible man so who cares what colour your hat is? That’s really my first methodology. It’s do things that are not going to show up on the radar and not get caught, and one of my core principles for that is what I call ‘cloud cover’ and I’m not going to get into that here because I’m really trying to get to something that’s really going to help you a lot.
I’m going to give you the biggest bang for your buck for what I can deliver in this short tutorial, but that cloud cover is one of my core methodologies and a lot of people in the SEO communities and the SEO world have adopted it and they’ve been talking about it, and they learned that from me. It’s basically a way to do SEO that hides everything. I bring up the story of World War II pilots, and the guys that learn to come home are the ones that learn to fly in the clouds. They stayed out of the clear blue sky. The guys that flew around in the clear blue sky and were seen and were detected, those were the guys that got shot down and didn’t come home. So that’s not what we want in SEO, we want to go home. We want to go out, do our job, do it safely and return home unscathed. That’s what using cloud cover will do for you.
So next is the power of observation and this is how I learn an awful lot about what’s going on. I’m not really out there listening to what everybody says, although I do take that into account but I always go back to the results and I look and use the power of observation. This really teaches me just about everything I need to know, and it also very well predicts the future the way I do that. Lastly, this is a really simple concept to get, if it’s right for the business it’s probably right for SEO. So if you’re doing things that wouldn’t make sense from a business stand point, if you’re doing things that a business owner would never do, then that might be effective for the time being but it’s going to be short lived, it’s going to get caught and it’s going to get you in trouble. So what’s the point? So again, if it’s right for business it’s probably right for SEO. In using this concept since the very beginning, a lot of the stuff that I did years and years ago is still ranking. It’s still ranking right at the top and it’s never been hit, never been hurt, never been touched.
It was done right, the way a business would do it, right from the beginning and always has been.
One of the things you’ll notice with the power of observation is, I’m really looking at this from the very beginning, there’s not many people that have been in this industry as long as I have, so the scope and scale of knowledge, of things that I’ve seen, all that stuff comes forward. It’s really like fashion when people say “oh throw those clothes out you’ll never wear them again” and all that fashion comes back in style a number of years later. SEO is no different, so if you want to know what the future looks like you’ve got to look at the past to at least understand what it was.
So here’s a historical progression of how this all started, and when search engines first came out they really weren’t even search engines, they were directories, they were alpha numeric and that moved into meta tags and the first actual live search engines were born. Then it went from Meta tags, that got gamed very easily, it was so easy in the beginning to do SEO it was ridiculous. From there it moved to full code relevance, they were looking at all kinds of other factors on the site, on the actual page stuff.
From that it went to actual quantity of content, not just looking at the code but trying to figure out the quantity of content. So next is the quality, when it came to quality what they were looking for was freshness of content and that was really all they had to judge it on in the beginning, and they got refined as things went further down the road. Then of course at some point in the game all the content got gamed as well by the SEO community, so the search engines literally threw content out of the window. They went to popularity and it really was just based on links.
At first just like content was based on the quantity, so were links. When it first came out it was the number of links. You could beat any SEO term to the top just based on the number of links you got for it. Obviously they weren’t all counted equally but you could beat it by sheer volume of numbers. So it moved from that quantity of links to quality of links and we all know about this, and then also it went from another one of the quality standards was actually the anchor text portfolios. So there were a lot of different factors as this refines and evolves, when it moves through.
But it always follows the same path, it goes quantity to the most quality. Then once all of that is basically flushed out they get to the end of that rainbow and then they move into the next one, we saw it move into social signals. So that was the last big move, was into social signals. So Google rank sites based on these factors, and at this point they’ve really kind of run out of the basic things to move into. So now what they’re doing is they’re stacking these things and they’re stacking the quantity of content, the quality of content, the quantity of links, the quality of links and they put social signals on top of all of that now. 2014 was a rough ride for SEO because of this, all of this stuff got stacked on top and it was no longer about one trick, if you were a one trick pony in 2014 you probably weren’t in the SEO business.
Search Metrics comes out every year with all the ranking factors and you’ll notice, in 2013 they threw google+1 at the top of this and Facebook shares and a lot of social signals. So the top third of the ranking factors in 2013 was social signals. So this was a huge change and now there’s a new sheriff in town for 2014. Basically with him came Google’s new bullshit meter. This is what popped up in 2014 right at the top and it’s user signals. What that means basically is that’s user experience. Google is now able to measure the user experience and it’s incredible, and it’s brilliant on their part.
It’s one of the most brilliant things I’ve seen them do. I actually predicted this was going to happen 3 years ago, because I’m always looking at what’s next, I know they’re going to ride out each storm and then they’re going to move, they’re going to change. They went from alphabetical then went to code and then they went to content, and then they threw content completely out of the window and went to links, then they went back to a mix and I’m thinking that they’re running out, they’re running out of variables.
What’s the most difficult thing, the thing that’s almost impossible to game in the system, is the actual user experience and that’s what they turned to towards the end of 2014 and they were moving into those, I realise now looking back on the power of observation, I discovered this actually started back in 2006. So what’s happening today is this huge push toward measuring the user experience and if you’re doing SEO now, this is going to make sense when you see how this all flushes out, but they’re factoring this in and they’re valuing it toward your ranking.
So their ability to detect unnatural behaviour is at an all-time high. I know a lot of you guys probably receive their ‘unnatural behaviour notices’ for linking, well they’ve also got this now toward looking at what you’re doing from an SEO stand point and measuring that against real user statistics to see if it’s real or not. If it’s not you’re going to trip that meter and what’ll happen then is you could be involved in split-test. This is something you don’t want any part of.
A split-test is like the equivalent of Google doing a manual review on you, if you trip the triggers with the SEO filters and you’ve got a manual review, this happened a lot I just want to step back for a minute here and address this because this is something really important that I talked about at the conference and it shocked people. The fact that Google’s manual review process is in place and very, very strong, most people are not aware of that and everybody thought their blog networks were getting cut down because of algorithm changes being able to detect them and that’s not true.
All those blog networks didn’t go down on the same day. When an algorithm detects you and wipes you out it’s all instantaneous. A lot of the blog networks were shut down over months and months’ time. So that tells me again, by the power of observation that, that didn’t happen because of an algorithm change. That was a witch hunt. That was the manual review process.
Now, if you’re building sites and I don’t care what type of sites they are, if they’re private blog sites or they’re affiliate sites, one of the things that’s going to happen if you’re doing things that are going to put you on the radar, you’re not flying in the cloud cover like I do with all SEO projects, if you spin out on the radar what’s going to happen is you’re going to get into a manual review. Somebody is actually going to physically look at your site for Google and decide. Their main objective here is to decide whether your site is valuable or not. Whether it’s a real site, pertains to a real business or if it’s just junk, junking up their listings.
If it’s junk you’ll probably get banned, and if not banned you’ll probably be put so deep in the sandbox you’ll never be able to find your way out. So one of the things about that is, there’s a little trick that I’m going to share with you guys and I haven’t told too many people about this. Very few people know. The only reason I know is because I know the guy at Google that actually wrote the criteria for the manual review process.
There’s an image that you can put on your site that will absolutely avoid you from getting banned in this process. In fact it’ll give you almost a diplomatic immunity. The first thing the reviewer will look for is this particular image and if they find it, they just kind of check you off the list and say “OK this site’s legit” and move on. So if you do go manual review process and you don’t have this image on your site and they don’t find it, or if it’s on there and they don’t find it, what happens is they start digging. This is what you don’t want, you don’t want Google on your site digging trying to find out if you’re for real or not because they’re very picky.
They have a lot of rules and a lot of regulations, and most people will not pass that test. So you want them in and out as quickly as possibly if you do undergo that. All you guys are probably wondering what’s the image? What image can you put on your site to make you immune and it’s really simple. It’s a picture of the business owner or a picture of your building, or a picture of your staff. Any of those things make you look like a real business.
Now if you think about it, guys that are making affiliate marketing sites and blog sites, that kind of thing, are not doing that. They’re just putting up what they need to put up for SEO, then moving on to the next one, they’re just creating a gazillion of these things. That’s what Google’s looking for, that’s what they’re trying to get rid of.
You should have all the normal stuff on your site that a business site would have. You should have a contact page, and guess what you should actually have contact information on it. Not just a form that says ‘fill this out’ and goes nowhere. They should be able to see where your physical location is. The picture of the business owner just solidifies that and locks it down that it’s a real business. All they’re trying to figure out is, is it a real business or not?
If you show them that it is at the first glance, all of those guys are trained to look for that first. If they see that you’ve passed the test, they’re done, they move on to the next, looking for another site to ban. That’s where you want to fall on a manual review. I apologise I got side tracked there from the tutorial but I thought that was really good information that’s worth sharing.
Back to the split-test. What happens with user experience during the split test is if you’ve got a low click-through ratio, this is what can trigger that. There are a lot of things that can cause that low click-through rate, the biggest one is poor description and title. If the guy below you has a better one he’s probably going to be getting more clicks than you are. I’m going to get into some more detail about what would cause that in just a second.
It’s the same thing with high bounce rates, if people are not seeing what they want and bouncing back to the search, and then clicking on another one. These are all signals to Google that your content is poor and they’re really trying to sift out the junk. So what they might do is if they find the case that you’re not getting a good click-through ratio and you’re getting high bounce rates what they’re going to want to do, is they’re going to do a slit-test. They want to remove the one that’s not doing well and put the other one further down the line up in its place to see if it does any better.
You want to avoid that and I’ll get into how to do that in just a minute. If you think about it, look at the difference between an actual site and an authority site. Again I’ll use that term shit hat instead of black hat or whatever. So we have a black hat site on the left and what we call a shit hat site on the right. This is a comparison, both of the sites might have thousands of links coming in and both have really good anchor text portfolios, very much varied in the anchor text. They’ve got a lot of social signals, a lot of that. The first thing here that differs is brand searches. You’ll notice a real true authority site will have brand searches; an SEO site that’s faking it will not have any of that.
The same thing with traffic. A real authority site gets lots of traffic and an SEO site, only gets traffic from the SEO links. Google knows this, they know all about that. Next is the user experience, how people interact with the site versus a poor user experience where they hit the site and bounce off real quickly. Google can see all this so this is the kind of stuff that they’re going to start looking for.
You might ask yourself, “How does Google really know this?” It’s obvious how they know if you’re on chrome because that’s their browser, you actually pass all the info to them. It’s also natural if you’ve got Google analytics, but if you think that they’re getting this through Google analytics you’re absolutely wrong. We’ve proved beyond a shadow of a doubt that they have this data off’ve everybody. All sites, all browsers and it’s really an evil thing in how they got it and I’m not going to get totally into it but basically they’re getting it through safe browser.
The way I found out about this was I created a directory of one of my websites and I put some files in there that were very private files, and I password protected the directory before I even put the files in it. I was the only one that had ever been in that folder and seen those, and a couple of days later Google had indexed those files inside that password protected directory.
I just about died I thought, how in the hell did that happen? A friend of mine works at the Siemens Court. That’s a worldwide corporation, he’s head of their worldwide security and he came over, he brought his test equipment because I told him what had happened. He was like “wow, we need to figure this out”. So he hooked up his test equipment and he measured every packet of information going across the line and he said “you’re not going to believe it.” He said that Google is interpreting and intercepting every packet of data that’s going over your computer line, and we figured out how they’re doing that, it’s through safe browsing.
It’s not just on one browser either it’s not just on chrome, everybody’s assumption when I tell them is it’s chrome. Well I wasn’t using chrome, I don’t use chrome. I was using Firefox, an independent browser. Then we discovered it also does the same thing on the Microsoft browser, on internet explorer. It does the same thing on Firefox, explorer and safari. It does it on safari as well. Obviously it does it on chrome. So all the information, all the user data is going back to Google and the way they’re getting away with it is with the safe browsing that’s built into all the browsers now.
Yes, the answer to your first question is “Can I turn it off?” Yes you can. By default it is on though, so nobody knows about this, so they’re basically giving out all their information to Google. So think about that. When you log into your bank account Google’s in there first. That freaks most people out and that’s what’s really going on. So that’s kind of a side ball but I want you to understand, I’m not guessing at this I am truly using the power of observation to figure out what’s really going on, and use that to my advantage to predict the future, to figure out what we can do in SEO to use these little things to our advantage.
The fact that nobody knows this is going on, Google is getting away with murder and the fact that we know that, we can leverage that to our advantage. You’re going to find out how to do that really quick here. So the thing that will trip the BS meter here, Google knows that position number one in their search should get 32% click-through ratio. They also know that if you’re in position 10 you get about a 3% click-through ratio. So if you’ve done all this SEO and you’ve driven all the way to the top, and you’re getting less than a 32% click-through ratio you’re probably going to trip the BS meter, and you’re going to go through a split-test. So you don’t want to do that, you don’t want to have that happen.
For click-through ratio from the search engine results, the biggest thing that you have going for you is your title and your description. If you can make those two things be more compelling than the other nine on the page you will get a high click-through ratio. That’s what you need, you need to prove that the value of your site is worth it. You can’t just drive your site to the top using a bunch of SEO factors and expect it to sit there. You’ve got to prove that you deserve to be there and you prove it through this click-through ratio, so if you’re not doing this click-through ratio or you’re getting a high bounce rate, any of those things can trigger that BS meter, so you want to avoid that at all costs because you want to stay away from this split-test thing.
So again, organic listings and low click-through, these are things that can trigger that. You want to not do that, same thing with bounce rates like I mentioned previously, and keep in mind Google are just trying to get rid of the junk, they’re trying to find out what’s real and what’s not so we really can’t hold that against them, and I think that’s great, this is brilliant on their part.
Here’s how we combat it. We combat the BS meter with actual real user experience, positive user experience, and the 3 factors are;
– Brand Recognition
– Click Through ratio
– Actual real user interaction with the site
So first I want to talk about brand recognition, and this is really important. Anybody who has been using observation over the last 2 or 3 years has seen this especially after panda, and especially after penguin. A lot of the sites that rose to the top after those fires, the ones that rose from the ashes, one of the things that I observed is that the top ranking sites were big brands, and the fact that most of them had brand recognition, brand links, all these things based on brand. Those were the guys that came out on top.
So let’s talk about brand recognition. I’m considering this a new concept in SEO, brand anchors are king, everybody talks about things are king, content is king, links are king. Well brand anchors now are what I’m considering king. So are brand searches, when people search for your brand in the search box that tells Google that people are aware of your brand, this shows them your importance. So the big elephant in the room is, “well no one searches for my brand” and this is true in most cases, especially in new businesses and especially for affiliate marketing. You guys aren’t building on a brand and this is an important factor, you don’t have this going for you.
So what it’s telling Google is if no one’s searching for your brand and you don’t have a brand, how popular can you really be? So that’s the deal with brand and I’m going to get to how important this is again later on but just take it from me, brand is key.
So next is click-through ratio and it’s specifically from the search engine’s result pages. This is their new benchmark for popularity and like I said earlier, links and SEO will get you ranked but now you have to prove that you deserve to be there and the way you prove that is through click-through. If you’re not getting the click-through they don’t believe it any more. This is going to trip the meter and it’s going to cause a split-test, you don’t want that. Click-through ratio is really important, and description like I mentioned earlier is probably one of the most important things that you can do to increase that click-through ratio.One of the tricks that I used for that is I always truncate my descriptions and I do that deliberately by putting a … and leaving them on a cliff hanger. They’ve got to click it to figure out what’s next. Like if you’re going to “Get a free…” or “a free…”, “Learn the secret that I call…” or “this is going to do…” Whatever it is, whatever is going to capture your audience, whatever is going to appeal to their desires, cut it off and don’t give them the whole thing there, make them click through to find out. That’s going to shoot your click through ratios through the roof.
Finally site interaction, this is really undeniable proof. All the other stuff points toward a good user experience and points towards yeah, maybe you should be there and maybe not, but site interaction, this is the undeniable proof. Here are some of the things that I’m talking about, I’m talking about bounce rate, people are hitting your site and immediately not finding what they want and they’re bouncing off or turned off for some reason. That’s bounce rate, if you’re bounce rate is incredibly high that’s going to be a problem. Number of pages visited, again that’s going to lower your bounce rate incredibly if people are digging in and they’re clicking on things in your site and they’re spending time on your site. That’s also measured. And how many people returned? Return visitors. These are all key elements in Google analytics, if you look at Google analytics you’ll see what they’re measuring. That’s the stuff that’s important.
Keep in mind it doesn’t have to come from Google analytics, that’s just showing you what they’re looking at but they’re getting this data from safe browsing so they’re getting this information whether you’re using Google analytics or not. So the site interaction is really what I call “Follow Through” and that’s the answer to fallen rank. If you guys have sites that are falling, maybe you were top 3 for many, many years and now all of a sudden you’re the top of page 2 or even further down the line, you just keep sliding and it doesn’t matter what you do. You keep doing more and more SEO and better SEO and your efforts are going up, but your results are going down.
It’s you’re probably not getting follow through here. You probably created a great site, got a ton of links, got ranked but what you forgot was that proof of value, that user experience. That’s the layer on top that most people are not aware of yet, and they’re not aware because they’re listening to everybody else but they’re not looking to see what’s real. They’re not looking to see why sites are going ahead and why sites are going back.
So what I call this is the ultimate user experience. If you can create the ultimate user experience then you’re going to show proof. This is going to add value on top of all the other things you are doing to actually make it work. In the past you could get all these links but if you didn’t backlink boost or you didn’t add that little extra piece on top, a lot of your efforts were wasted. This is nothing different, if you’re not adding this little piece on top all of your efforts could be for nothing.
You’ll never get back to that number one spot because if you don’t have all these things to show the user experience, you’re going to get kicked out. You’re going to go through that split test and you’re not going to cut the mustard. So ultimate user experience starts with a search. You want to start with a search that you actually rank for and here’s the key to brand, you probably rank right at the top for your brand so if people are searching for your brand, they’re going to get your site right at the top. So here’s where it starts.
You should get that 32% click-through rate right there, if you’re not you’ve got a problem right out of the gate. So the searcher searches a phrase that you rank for, next they look through the search results page, they find your site (hopefully at the top) for your brand and then they click on your listing. They spend between 20 seconds and several minutes on the homepage and then they click a link to a deeper page. They do the same thing, they repeat this process over and over, and over and then they close the browser up finally. That’s the last step because you don’t want them to go back to Google, because if they go back to Google that tells Google they didn’t get what they wanted, they’re coming back and they’re still on the hunt.
Google needs that signal that they passed the user through to something that was useful, they got what they needed end of story. So imagine if this process was being repeated 10 times a day on your site by different people. If that was going on you would have an ideal scenario. So who would benefit from this sort of thing? Anybody with no brand recognition, if you bring brand recognition onto you, I guarantee you your SEO is going to work better.
Businesses with low traffic like new sites. Say you just bought a brand new domain and put it up, people start searching for its brand, it’s automatically going to give signals to Google that this is important.
Next are businesses with high bounce rates and I use the example of dentists here. Why would a dentist have high bounce rates? Well it’s really simple. Nobody’s going to a dental site to get information, they’re not going there to read articles. If you’re going on dental sites or you’re doing a search for a dentist you probably have tooth ache, you probably have a serious problem that you’re looking to solve and you’re not going to solve it by reading articles, you want the dentist’s phone number so you can make an appointment. It takes seconds to get the phone number and then you bounce off, high bounce rate.
We tried to combat this a couple of years ago by putting phone numbers in the title itself so you didn’t have to click through you could get the phone number right from there. As time went on we realised that click-through ratio was important, we realised we’d shot ourselves in the foot by doing that so we removed the phone numbers out of the titles to solve that problem. They have to click through now to get inside to get the phone number, but it still doesn’t solve the problem of bounce rates. So if you can figure out a way to make your dentist’s site get a user experience that is what we consider the ultimate user experience, you can solve this problem for them.
Sites with poor click-through ratios. This is another one, if you’ve got poor titles, poor descriptions, you probably have a poor click-through rate. So adding this value on top of that, fixing that stuff is going to benefit you.
Over optimised sites. Sites that you’ve done a tremendous amount of SEO on but you don’t really have any good user signals, you’re out of balance. This is going to fix that. And sites that are not ranking on page one. Now if you’re not ranking on page one for your main keywords, like I said earlier you probably are ranking on page one for your brand keywords. By doing this and giving these signals through the brand is important, it’s going to raise the value of the rank of all your other keywords. It’s going to help all the way across the board. There’s something even better here and this is great stuff, if you guys are thinking this is of good value, I’m going to tell you it gets even better.
There is a cherry on top of all of this and before I get to the cherry I do want to tell you that most sites like I said get 32% click-through ratio from that number one slot. We noticed that, that number was going down. Basically what that means is if you take that number 32% and you do keyword research and you find the term, where you’re getting 1000 searches per month for a particular term and you get the number one spot, that means that you should get about 320 people clicking through your site. We’ve always found that to be pretty true, well here a couple of years ago I started noticing that number was going down.
We were getting number one listings, and we weren’t getting that 32% click-through ratio, we weren’t getting that kind of volume to our site and I thought “What is going on, what has changed?” I realised that Google had figured out how to funnel our traffic off’ve there legitimately. They were literally stealing our traffic away, after we’d done SEO and got the top listing, we still held the top listing but they had legitimately figured out how to funnel the traffic away. The way that they did it was through the search box recommendations.
So imagine that your term is ‘Atlanta dentist’ and you’re at the top for Atlanta dentist. Now somebody starts typing in Atlanta dentist and then all of a sudden it starts recommending these other things. Now all of a sudden you got diverted from wanting an Atlanta dentist to now ‘Atlanta dentistry by design’. It’s actually referring a particular dentist. So manipulating this is actually what we call ‘Search Box Optimisation” (SBO). I actually put the name to that, I’ve been doing that for quite some time.
So it’s manipulating what’s being suggested in search box. This is really cool stuff, so imagine what would happen now if somebody gets diverted by that and they click on that ‘Atlanta dentistry by design’, that sends a signal to Google that they actually wanted this brand. These people chose the brand. What happens next when you choose the brand, this is really cool. What happens next is you own the page, obviously you can’t own the advertisements, but if you notice the map there aren’t any choices. It knew exactly which one and it took all of the competition out of the mix.
Now if you went to Atlanta dentist or Atlanta dentistry you would be riddled with a bunch of choices here, but by taking the suggestion in the drop down box there are no choices, you own those, every one of those listings is the same guy, this ‘Atlanta dentistry by design.’ Imagine the click-through ratio here, you’re going to get 100%, there’s nothing else you could click on organically. You could take an ad, but the ads really aren’t relevant to what you searched for particularly.
So this is really, really powerful stuff, stealing all of the traffic by taking advantage of the Google suggest, the SBO. So optimising what goes into the Google search, and like I’ve said since the very beginning of the tutorial, brand is the key here. So this all starts in the search box, what people are typing in. If you can effectively get people to type in your brand and send that signal to Google, that’s the whole start of SBO. You’ve got to be aware that all of Google’s animals that they’ve created over the last few years, they’ve all got those in place and they’re ready to defend this new landscape that they’re using. So you don’t want to overdo this there are a lot of nuances you want to be careful of, like penguin for instance.
You don’t want to have somebody search the exact same term over and over, and over hundreds of times without searching any variation. That algorithm they use to attack over optimisation of anchor text is also at their fingertips and ready at their beck and call to use here. So be careful with that, they might not be doing it now but I predict that they’re going to be doing it very soon if they’re not already.
So one of the key factors here is what goes in the search box better match what’s on your home page. You don’t want to be doing the switch stuff here, you want to be careful that you keep this clean and you do this operation right. So for me optimising my name with SEO as a brand, I actually use my name as a brand name. So now what happens after just 3 weeks of doing this effectively, when you start tying in my name John Limbocker and suddenly when you get to the ‘O’ you’ve got ‘John Limbocker SEO’.
So this was just a test that I did to kind’ve prove this out in the very beginning. It took about 3 weeks to do it. So it’s some pretty cool stuff here being able to divert traffic onto your brand pages. This is really powerful I don’t know if you guys get how significant this really is, but it is let me tell you.
So best practices for what we’re calling ‘faking brand search signals’ are:
Do Not Over Optimise –
You don’t want to over optimise it, don’t do the same term over and over without any variation.
Use Keywords You Rank For –
Use keywords that you actually rank for, which is technically a brand variation of what your keyword is, add your brand onto it.
Mix Your Keywords –
Mix your keywords, again.
Mix in Brand Keywords- Mix the brand keywords as well, generally a brand will have multiple variations of it, it might be incorporated after it or have different brands. For a dentist for example, the dentist himself can be brand terms, and it could be products as well, it could be products related to your business, anything that has to do with brand is great in this mix and technically brand is specific only to you. So there shouldn’t be anybody searching for it. So when you divert these searches to your brand, it’s just absolutely like SEO dynamite.
Use Penguin Precautions –
Then also like I said earlier, use the penguin precautions and that all goes back to several of the things here, don’t over optimise, mix your keywords, mix your brand, that’s all penguin friendly kind of stuff.
So let me just summarise for you, the best thing that you can do for SEO moving forward going into 2015:
Build A Valuable Site –
You’ve got to build value into your site. Your sites really have to deliver to your prospects. That starts with identifying your ideal clients, building content that they will crave. Doing keyword research to make sure you’re figuring out what they’re searching for and bring them to the right stuff.
Optimise It’s Content For Relevant Keywords –
You’ve got to optimise its content for the relevant keywords that you’ve identified, so content again has come back into the mix for SEO. On page is a factor at this point.
Optimise And Promote Your Brand –
You’ve got to get people searching for your brand, remember awareness is really crucial, whether you do this through press releases or articles, however you’re going to do it you’ve got to get brand aware. You’ve got to get people searching for you. Social media is a great way to do it, there’s a lot of different ways to create brand awareness.
Run A Quality Link Building Campaign –
You’ve got to run a quality link building campaign, which means not over optimising, not sending just a ton of garbage links to your site. It’s not about quantity any more it’s about quality.
Build User Experience Signals (Or Fake Them) –
Then build the user experience, or if you don’t have that you need to fake them somehow, we’ve got quite an array of techniques to fake these effectively using our cloud cover scenario.
Ramp Them All Up Together So It Looks Natural –
You need to ramp all this up together so it comes out looking natural, just like an authority site, you want your site to mimic the way an authority site becomes an authority site and it’s all of this stuff built up together, in sync, in harmony. Not doing one thing today, one thing tomorrow, over optimising everything that you do and doing it in steps. You can’t do it like building blocks and stack them on top of each other, that’s very unnatural and it will show up.
So anyway that’s it, this really is SEO’s next big wave and like I said at the very beginning if you’re not prepared to make changes in SEO you need to stay home. You can watch this all just pass you by or you can get on and you can ride this with us. If you’re going to do that it’s time to start paddling. I can assure you, you definitely want to catch this one.
So again thank you Matthew for having me on, I’ve really enjoyed bringing this information out to your people and hopefully it’s really benefitted you guys. That was really my goal and my point to give you some really good content that you can go out and put into play.
So anyway have a great one and we’ll talk soon.