Google Local Guides and The Importance of Reviews

Yelp Elite Squad, meet Google Local Guides. Though Google’s program for City Experts was first launched in 2013, Google recently renamed and re-launched the program dubbed Google Local Guides in an effort to make a stronger local push.

What are Google Local Guides?

Much like Elite Yelpers, Google Local Guides have to sign up to participate in the program and meet certain criteria. Also like Yelp, Google’s program also benefits Local Guides based on a point system that is based on reviews. Local Guides get the opportunity to preview Google apps and services, receive 1 terabyte in Google Drive storage space, and even a chance to meet other top Local Guides at Google’s main campus!

What is Google’s Goal for Launching Local Guides?

Our first inclination is to “Yelp” a new or unfamiliar business. Yelp reviews can make or break a business. It can be said that the Local Guides program is Google’s effort to invite tech-savvy thought leaders to harness that energy and put it into Google Local instead of other third party review sites, like Yelp.

In influx in reviews for local businesses not only helps the business but it also helps Google. By bringing in more user-generated content, it gives searchers a reason to search, browse and stay on Google for a longer period of time…instead of clicking away and going onto another review site such as Yelp and Zagat.

Focus on Good Relations and Gaining Customer Reviews Naturally

Gaining user reviews in a “natural” way without explicitly asking is difficult and tricky. And yet Google and Yelp are making it more difficult for businesses to be visible without a good amount of positive reviews. Check out more about Google Local Guides in the video below and let us know what you think. Will you be signing up for Google’s Local Guide program any time soon?

How Will Google’s New RankBrain Affect SEO?

What Exactly is Rank Brain?

google-rankbrain You may have heard about Google’s new artificial intelligence (AI) system, RankBrain. Before visions of Skynet start coming to mind, we’d like to confirm that it’s not exactly that. RankBrain is actually Google’s latest effort to help better process search results. In short, it helps with the output of the “correct” answer when users input more long-tail and complicated questions. RankBrain is not a new system for ranking but now part of Google’s overall search algorithm. RankBrain does not “learn” in real-time (yet!), but rather, it is given historical data offline, where it learns to make future predictions and continues to “learn”.

How is RankBrain Tied to Google Hummingbird?

We all know about Google Hummingbird and how it is also part of Google’s overall search algorithm. Think about RankBrain as being a new part of the Hummingbird algorithm. RankBrain is so closely related to Hummingbird as its main purpose is to interpret searches, mostly questions. Even though the query may not contain the actual keyword or phrase, it’s RankBrain’s job to figure out what the intention of the search is – in other words, reading between the lines.

Will RankBrain Change SEO?

RankBrain is new and definitely important. Note that Google has deemed it the THIRD most important ranking signal. While they will not reveal the top two factors, it is a big deal that their emphasis on RankBrain is so public. While the thought of RankBrain completely changing SEO can be frightening, the reality is that organic SEO has been changing for some time now.

SEOs are probably very worried and/or intrigued about how RankBrain will affect organic optimization. Although we don’t have any definitive proof or information of RankBrain’s affect on SEO yet, the bottom line is still to optimize content and websites for the human user experience. That means writing naturally and staying away from rigid goals of keyword usage. It involves thinking about topics and concepts in an all encompassing manner, instead of just piecemeal, as it is done with traditional keywords.

If you have any thoughts, questions, or predictions about RankBrain, be sure to let us know!


Is Branded Content Ever Good for SEO?

What is Branded Content?

branded-content The easiest way to think about branded content is “sponsored content”. This can take the form of written content, videos, webinars, tv commercials, or images and infographics. Although the main purpose is to be interesting or entertaining, by nature, it can often be highly self promotional. There are pros and cons to using branded content in marketing so it’s wise to set a goal before getting started.

How Can Branded Content Be Used Effectively?

Written branded content is often prone to feeling overly self serving. The advertorial style of branded content is not very effective or popular. Depending on your business and industry, this can still be done. Take Adobe for example, they have tons of branded content that includes their products but also have branched out completely with a separate site This is a hub that is separate from their core products but completely sponsored by Adobe to deliver marketing insights and inspiration for and by marketing leaders.

Other branded forms of content are becoming more popular and effective. Some common forms you may have seen are webinars or whitepapers. The goal is to be helpful but ultimately, the goal is to make a sale. There is a fine line when it comes to branded content and advertorials.

Use Branded Content with Caution

Branded content may seem duplicitous, especially if you are promising answers to one question but selling your product/services as that answer. What may seem like an effective branded content marketing campaign for a big company may not work so well for a small business. Bigger companies have the benefit of brand awareness and a wider audience, so that they might not even have to put their brand name on the branded content in order for it to still be effective.

At the end of the day, branded content can be innovative and interesting but it can also be stale when overdone. Take a look at competitors and big players in the industry to see how you can incorporate effective pieces of branded content into your marketing plan.

What is the Best Way to Deal With Thin Content on a Website?

panda-thin-content As we all know, thin content is a Panda’s best friend. Having a lot of thin content on a website also puts you on Google’s fast track to be hit by the latest Panda update. It can’t wait to seek you out! Essentially, Google penalizes thin content websites because they add little to no value to searchers. Some examples include: scraper sites that duplicate content from other blogs/sites or news sites, keyword stuffed content farms, and pages with very little content that is obviously not helpful to real life searchers.

What Does Google Recommend?

What exactly is the best approach when trying to overcome or prevent your website from being affected by a Google Panda update? Before you race off to delete all thin or short content pages on your website, take a moment to plan first. At the recent Pubcon, Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google Gary Illyes discusses not removing thin content but rather adding to it or using the NOINDEX tag to prevent the useless content from being indexed. Not to mention that mass deleting (and not properly redirecting pages) can cause even further harm to your website’s health and rankings. There is reasoning behind this methodology, although not all SEOs agree.

Working With What You Have

Of course, it’s easy to offer and follow vague advice, even if it’s coming from a Google representative. If a website has hundreds or thousands of thin content pages, it’s virtually impossible to fill all of that with good, quality content. For a more realistic scenario, let’s imagine that website has a few dozen thin content pages. This is much more manageable to go page by page and analyze to plan what else can be added to the pages. Depending on the topics, you can easily add more information in a variety of ways, including:

  • Researching and answering FAQs
  • Commenting on recent news stories or events on the topic
  • Adding a video and transcribing it
  • Writing an in-depth tutorial
  • Adding an infographic

If the page cannot truly be made better, it’s time to think of how it can be merged with another strong page and deleted and redirected all together. There is no cookie cutter solution to overcoming a Panda penalty. If you have questions, make sure to contact the Los Angeles SEO consultants at Emarketed for a free consultation today.

What’s New with Google: October 2015 Edition


What’s new with Google? Find out more about a new compression algorithm, a new warning for repeated violations, and a shake up in the Local Pack that includes paid (sponsored) listings!

Brotli and Compression

Yes, compression on the internet is a big thing and you don’t have to watch Silicon Valley to know that. Efficient compression is important, especially when optimizing for people and search engines. Named after the Swiss German ‘small bread’, Brotli is a new compression algorithm. In the future, hopefully most browsers will support this algorithm for faster page load times.

Repeated Violations of Google’s Webmaster Guidelines

Moving on to penalty news. If website conversions are down and you suspect that your site may be affected, make sure to check out the Manual Action notification section of your Google Search Console. If your website has been affected, make sure to take all necessary steps to fix a penalty. This means complying with best practices and keeping things that way moving forward, even after the penalty has been removed! Some naughty webmasters may revert to their old ways after a penalty or manual unnatural linking action has been cleared. But be warned, Google is too smart to be outsmarted!

Google’s Frustrating and Shrinking Local Pack

Google’s Local 7 pack has been effectively shrunken down to 3 for some time now. This can be incredibly frustrating as this is where a lot of click-throughs occur, increasingly so on mobile devices. Though this has some heated opinions, Google has begun testing a new paid sponsored 3 pack in local results. They have been testing this in industries which are prone to spam and false locations, such as: plumbers and locksmiths. You can read more about that here.

Let us know what you think about this and more by visiting our Facebook page or emailing us at:

Take Advantage of Schema Markup in Search Results

Describe Your Content the Right Way

schema-serps-example Structured data markup is an easy way to describe and annotate your content so that search engines have a better understanding of what your website is all about. Recently, web pages marked up with Schema markup have been showing up more in organic search results. Although search engines are very good and finding and categorizing information, structured data helps search engines better classify the most important parts of your website content.

Benefits of Stars, Ratings, and More

Structured markup such as star ratings and client reviews help a website stand out on a search results page. It can definitely help with click through and conversion rates, especially if your website prominently displays stars while competitors do not. Although Google officially states that Schema markup does not affect search rankings, it doesn’t hurt to implement this markup in the event that Google does want to display it. Make sure that each individual page and section is marked up accurately. Google is less likely to display structured data markup if it is the same across your entire website.

Is It Worth the Time and Effort?

Remember, the last time Google allowed markup to show up regularly in search results? That was way back in 2013, and then everyone started jumping on board, so that didn’t last very long. Implementing specific structured data on your website isn’t difficult or time consuming, there are plugins and generators that can help you get started. The window of time for benefits may be closing in, so take advantage of it while you still can because you never know when Google will change its mind and pull the plug again!

Los Angeles Meetup to Discuss Pay Per Click Marketing

ppc-overviewHave questions about PPC but aren’t sure how or who to ask? You are just in luck! Emarketed is holding a FREE meetup next Wednesday at our Los Angeles office at 6pm. We will discuss everything your small business needs to know about pay per click advertising with Google.

Our meetup will be the perfect refresher course if you are just getting started with PPC or even if are looking for alternatives to the way your current campaign is being managed.

Think Like the Customer

Putting yourself in the customer’s shoes is a good practice as a business owner. But it’s also a good perspective to take with paid ads. By understanding a user’s search intent, you can make the most out of your campaigns by targeting the right people who are looking for what your company offers. This understanding helps in every aspect from the ad copy, landing page, website, contact form, and buying or checkout process. Context is everything, so don’t be afraid to play the part of the customer.

Focus on the Top Bunch

By the nature of PPC, ads are going to get a lot of clicks and conversions that cover a variety of topics and keywords. To combat the information overload, focus on top performers – meaning top clicks and conversions. Optimizing for the top performers is a good way to make your paid ads worker smarter, not harder. Make sure to be aware of and ask your PPC consultant about top metrics to keep track of.

Consider Remarketing

Remarketing isn’t like traditional pay per click but they are related. This cost effective method of paid search is a good way to keep your brand and business at the forefront of the minds of interested customers. Ask us more about how remarketing can work for your business.

Branded PPC

Branded pay per click is also an efficient way to maximize your paid search profitability. You can read more about that on our related blog post here. The idea is to capture an audience that is already searching for your brand and these terms are usually very cost efficient.

Lear more about our meetup by visiting our event or Facebook page.

Why Using Headlines in Content Is Still Important in 2015

bam-headline The amount of text on any written medium can be extremely overwhelming. On top of that, reader attention span has dropped significantly compared to previous years. This means that using interesting and relevant taglines throughout content is more important than ever.

Think of ‘Clickbait’… That Actually Delivers

The idea of ‘clickbait‘ is to tempt readers to click into a story or website based on outrageous or sensationalist headlines. More often than not, these stories don’t have anything of substance and are merely puff pieces written to bring in traffic. Take the first part of that idea but follow through.

Instead, you can still incorporate some of these ideas into your headlines:

  • Using numbers – Example: Top 10 Burger Joints in Los Angeles According to the Internet
  • Show a way to achieve something – Example: How to Grow Your Business Quick Without Failing
  • Get creative with adjectives and descriptive words – Think positive (incredible, effortless, essential, etc.)

Headlines Are Still Important for SEO

Taglines help organize a piece of content and also help directs the flow. It also helps readers stay in check and focused. Using headlines gives long content a break but it’s also a good opportunity to use related & desired keywords and phrases. When used in a question format, this is also great way to meet the Hummingbird factor in headlines.

Breaking it down to on-page optimization and the actual coding of a website or web page, headlines give the opportunity to use subheading classes (h2, h3, h4, etc). Using these designated subheading classes shows an emphasis in the topic – which is essential for SEO.

The next time you feel like going on a long rant in a blog post or web page, don’t forget to go back and add some subheadings. They are still important for readers and SEO!

5 Reasons Your Web Pages Aren’t Indexed

slow-website-crawl Does it seem like Google is painfully slow at indexing your site, especially the inside web pages? There might be good reason to look into why your website isn’t being crawled, indexed, and cached as frequently.

1) Google Will Never Index All Your Pages

Plain and simple: Google Webmaster Trends Analyze John Mueller has publicly stated that Google will “never index all pages”. As disheartening as that sounds, there are just some things that are beyond your control. In the mean time, take a look at all the back end things that are within your control to make sure that you are doing everything possible to ensure the proper indexing of your website.

2) Check Your robots.txt File and Meta

Sometimes, after a redesign or website changes, funny things can happen to your robot.txt file or meta tags. This is especially true for WordPress sites where “NOFOLLOW,NOINDEX” can easily be applied to all or some of your web pages. Make sure that these options are disabled and that pages are set to FOLLOW,INDEX.

3) Domain or Partial Domain Penalty

If your website or some web pages have a penalty, the consequence is that they won’t show up or be indexed by Google. A good place to check for that is in the Manual Actions section in Google Search Console. This is extremely helpful for manual penalties but sites facing algorithmic penalties may have a harder time. If you still suspect some type of website penalty, check for duplicate and thin content.

4) Is Your Website Hacked or Infected?

Search Console is also a good place to check to see if Google thinks your site has been infected. If this is the case, Google has a legitimate reason to not index your website to prevent users from harm from the malicious content.

5) Not Enough Signals to the Web Page

If you have a really good, informative web page, it’s probably not the best idea to just add it to your website and have that be the end of things. Google will surely never see or find it that way. That is why it’s important to keep an updated sitemap and sitemap.xml file, to make it easier for Googlebot to crawl. Linking from the home page and relevant places in the navigation is also important. Aside from linking on your own website, it’s also necessary to link elsewhere: social media websites, third party review sites, relevant directories, and niche listings. The more helpful a website or web page is, the more likely it is that it will be linked to from a diverse amount of other websites.

PPC: Should I Advertise on Bing?

pac-man-ppc-chart As of July 2015, it is officially correct to say that on desktop searches, Google controls 65% of the search market share while Bing controls about 33%. You can read more about that here on comScore’s findings.

Bing’s Market Share

Because Google owns so much of the search “pie”, Bing has to make drastic and innovative changes in order to stay relevant. With the competitiveness of PPC on Google, it’s a valid time to question or consider paid search on Bing. Apple is straying away from Google as its default search engine and has its eye set on Bing. If you’ve noticed in the referrals section of Google Analytics, you may have noticed an increase in visits from Yahoo or Bing. Some industry experts expect this trend to continue, which is why some small business owners are already making the move to Bing PPC ads. On top of that, Bing is also expected to power AOL search.

Non-Google PPC

Whether it is Facebook, YellowPages, or LinkedIn, there are many different options for paid search campaigns outside of Google’s vast network. Search volume is the number one reason why business owners pursue paid ads on Google. But the price to pay can be hefty, especially if there is aggressive competition in your industry. Bing PPC ads may be an untapped market for your business. But the basis of your success ultimately depends on volume, CPC, and ROI. This gives businesses a good opportunity to experiment to see if Bing Ads is the right choice.

Questions About Pay Per Click?

If you are interested in PPC ads for Bing, don’t hesitate to call us at 1 800-WEB-5421 or email for more information. Our PPC experts will help analyze your account and make the best recommendations for your business and budget.