Topic: Search Engine Optimization

Google Updates Impacting How Local Businesses Appear in Search

Google has been making an effort to make their search results show local information better for some time now. The search engine recently launched two major updates to their algorithm, both with a goal of diversifying local map results in organic search. These updates can either have a positive or a negative impact on your business.

The first update to the Google organic search algorithm did not directly penalize or remove any businesses from Google My Business, but it could have made your listing disappear from Google’s Map Pack. When you search Google for a local keyword the search engine will show a selection of local listings on the top or middle of the search results page, this is commonly referred to as Google’s Map Pack.  Many in the SEO world have dubbed this first algorithm update as the Possum update, due to the fact it caused otherwise functional local listings to ‘play dead’ and disappear from the map pack on the search results page.

The Possum update was first launched in 2016 many businesses that had brick and mortar locations physically near or with shared ownership as another business with the same name found that their listings were hidden in search results. This also caused businesses that shared office space with another business operating in the same industry to disappear. Businesses did not need to share addresses to be affected, there were some cases of competitors with addresses on the same street being negatively impacted by the update. The update also gave more weight to the searchers physical location. For example, a person living in Markham who searched Google for ‘plumbers’ would see a much different search results page than someone doing the same search in Oakville.

Google doesn’t necessarily make updates to their algorithm to penalize website owners, their goal is always to make search more accurate, useful and relevant to their users. The Possum updated filtered out businesses with the same name or who offered similar services with the goal of providing more diversified results. Some industries were impacted more than others with this update. It’s not uncommon to see various doctor, lawyer, and insurance offices clustered together in a certain region of a city. It’s very likely that some of these businesses were negatively impacted by the Possum update (especially for those operating in the same building).

Over the years, Google has earned a strong reputation for being receptive to the feedback of their users, and an additional update was launched to lessen the negative impact from the Possum update. In August 2017, Google launched an algorithm update nicknamed Hawk to curb the negative effects of the previously issued Possum update. Hawk was able to tighten the proximity filters of Google, this helped many listings wrongfully hurt by the Possum update to start appearing again. Unfortunately, the update to the algorithm did not help businesses operating in the same building from cancelling one another out.

Are you finding that your business is losing local traffic due to the Possum algorithm update? Here are some useful tips if the Hawk update didn’t help:

  • Focus on your local online presence – Take advantage of the many tools and features included in Google’s free Google My Business account to maintain local visibility. Be sure to fill out as much information as possible and keep everything up-to-date. Try to make to your audience on a regular basis.
  • Add a local spin to your content – Content is extremely important online and it can really help with your local search results. When writing content you’ll want to think local and give your content a local flavour.
  • Post relevant and local content on all platforms – Try to connect with other high-quality websites in your local area and ask them to backlink to your website. Ensure that any page being backlinked to contains relevant and localize content. This strategy will show Google that you are a local authority in your market.

It’s important to have a strong understanding of how Google operates and the updates to their algorithm. Google’s focus on diversifying the local content they show can be an excellent opportunity to rank higher and get qualified web traffic. At Insiteful Solutions, we’ve been helping businesses rank higher in Google with sustainable SEO strategies. Learn more about how SEO can generate traffic for your business by contacting us today.

How Voice Search and Smart Speakers are Changing SEO and Content Marketing

It’s hard to believe that the Internet has been part of our lives for over two decades. During this time, we’ve seen dramatic changes on people interact with the Internet. Smart speakers are becoming more and more popular in today’s homes. Devices such as the Google Home and Amazon Echo have made it possible to perform Google searches by simply saying a couple of words. Many newer vehicles are equipped with Bluetooth technology that syncs your Apple or Android phone to your vehicle while you drive. It’s estimated that half of all searches will be performed as a voice search by 2020. People are drawn to the ability to make easy, fast and accurate searches without typing a single word.

Smart homes are becoming more and more popular and they are controlled by a relatively inexpensive device. With only a few words you can control the music you hear, what streams on your television, control the heat, turn off the lights, ask for directions, order socks on Amazon, and easily perform dozens of other common household tasks. You can also ask Google any question you that randomly enters your brain.

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) and content marketing are core to most online marketing strategies. For years, we’ve been building campaigns with the understanding that people are using a keyboard or phone to make searches in Google. People can be lazy when they type a search in Google, the search engine does a great job at understanding the search term you’ve entered, even if it’s not accurate. For example, ‘Pizza shop Toronto’ will not always produce the same results as ‘I want to order pizza in Toronto’.

Voice searches take a lot less effort than typed searches. People talking to their Smart Speakers are more likely to provide complete information and full phrases.  This could be a game changer for companies who embrace voice search in their online marketing strategy.

Traditionally, SEO is the practice of optimizing a webpage for keywords that Internet users utilize when searching Google for a specific product or service. For a pizza place to rank in Toronto, the page should include references to both ‘pizza’, ‘Toronto’ and any other relevant keywords throughout the page. Ideally, the page’s headings, META tags, anchor links and other elements would include the keywords your customers may use on Google. Voice search could potentially change the way we write online content and perform SEO.

People are getting used to using their Smart Speakers and onboard vehicle technology to perform Google searches. Practise makes perfect, and it doesn’t take long to realize that these devices work best when more detail is included in the voice search. Again, it takes a lot less effort to talk than it does to type. The ease of voice search makes impulse searches a lot more common. It’s estimated that the average person will have 50,000 – 70,000 thoughts in their head during a day, that’s 35 to 48 thoughts at any given minute. Smart speakers make Google searches effortlessly if you want pizza you can ask for instant information.

To beat your competition on voice-activated searches, you’ll want to add more detail to your content. A more conversational tone in your content is the best way to capture voice-activated search traffic. Spend the time and use this logic on all pages of your website. Be sure to include localized information throughout your site, a Smart Speaker or vehicle will seek the closest brick and mortar location that’s related to a search.

A voice search will usually be a sentence or a phrase. Study your Google Analytics and come up with a list of common searches using multiple words and integrate these terms into your content. Think about how you would answer a question posed to a Smart Home device with the information on your website.

The times are changing and it’s time to prepare your brand for increased voice searches. Over half of all teenagers regularly perform voice searches on Google, and over 40 percent of adults do the same. SEO isn’t going anywhere, but voice search is quickly changing how information is found online. This means your content is going to need to take this growing segment into account.

Designing a Website for the Mobile World – Why Mobile Designs Matter and Why You Should Care

Mobile Design

Mobile Design

The Internet is going mobile and it’s happening more and more every day. If you don’t have a mobile design or mobile version of your website, you’re losing a large percentage of your web traffic. Regardless, of the industry you work within, people of all ages are using their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets to view content online.

It’s estimated that there are 1.2 billion mobile web users online and some of them no longer use a desktop on a regular basis. The data also shows that more and more people enjoy shopping online from their mobile device. It’s easy to see why more smartphones are sold yearly than desktop computers. Computers aren’t going anywhere, but people are using their mobile devices a lot more than ever before.

Taking mobile-first strategy with your website design is something we recommend to all of our Toronto clients. With so many different mobile devices and screen sizes it can almost be impossible to have a custom design for each mobile user. Basically, a responsive mobile design allows adapting to any screen it is being viewed on. A responsive website design is usually the best way to make your site look great on any device. It can be the best way to ensure that all the important elements of your website appear correctly for your entire audience. It doesn’t matter what the hottest phone on the market is, or if people are using Apple or Android; your site will look great.