Will Your Website Make Google’s Mobile-Friendly Deadline?

mobile-friendly April not only marks the close of the dreaded tax season but something else this year. On April 21, 2015, Google will officially start use and expansion of a site’s mobile-friendliness as a website ranking factor.

They expect this change in SERPs to affect mobile worldwide and predict a “significant impact” in search results across the board. The reason? Google wants to improve the user experience when it comes to users finding and navigating relevant and high quality search results from their mobile devices.

Remember, websites are not “penalized” but mobile-friendly websites are given a boost in mobile SERPs. In other words, those who are mobile compliant will be rewarded. Also, this algorithm will be applied on a per page basis, not site-wide.

What Are Important Things to Know About Responsive Design?

  • Keep your design and vision cohesive across all devices
  • If possible, test to see how easily a potential customer can complete a “simple” task such as making a purchase or contacting your business
  • Remember that there are responsive website design options for all budgets
  • Stay organized from the beginning and it will simplify the process

Mistakes to Make with Responsive

  • Pushing off responsive until much later (especially if you have the time and resources)
  • Not analyzing or testing (bugs) on different browsers and phones
  • “Hiding” important content (this is where “read more” does not come in handy)
  • Using too much content at once (to much scrolling and text is not reader-friendly)
  • Setting videos and photos that in content to a set size so that they are not responsive

Thinking of Going Responsive?

Read http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2015/02/finding-more-mobile-friendly-search.html) today and let us know if you have any questions about responsive design for your website. Whether it’s a CMS or completely customized website, we’re ready to help.

Google Identifies Mobile-Friendly Pages

What you see on Google’s search results on a desktop computer should match up to what you see on a mobile device but the landscape is changing. For search results shown on a phone, Google is incorporating more local and mobile-friendly factors, making the actual results differ greatly from the desktop version, depending on your query and actual location. In somewhat big news, Google has taken the next step to actually labeling websites that are “mobile-friendly”.

google-mobile

What Makes a Website NOT Mobile-Friendly?

Small text, big images, slow loading pages/sections, relying on Flash, are all things that make your website mobile-unfriendly. To Google, this means that your website is frustrating, not relevant and your website may be ranked under websites that are deemed “mobile-friendly”. You can see an example of the literal label here on their official blog.

What Adjustments Will You Have to Make?

Luckily, this mobile-friendly labeling has not rolled out completely yet and is expected to finish rolling out globally over the course of the next few weeks. Just another way of Google saying “Happy Holidays”, we suppose!

In order to be considered “mobile-friendly”, your website will have to meet these guidelines:

- Avoids software that is not common on mobile devices, like Flash
– Uses text that is readable without zooming
– Sizes content to the screen so users don’t have to scroll horizontally or zoom
– Places links far enough apart so that the correct one can be easily tapped

Check out your website here: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/ at Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test Tool to see what needs to be changed or fixed.

Make the Change Now… Or As Soon As Possible!

If your website is not mobile-friendly, this isn’t something to brush aside. The mobile audience only continues to grow and think of this label as the first step that Google is taking towards using actual mobile-friendliness as actual criteria for ranking!

Contact Emarketed today if you need assistance with a mobile or responsive website.

What is Google Contributor?

If you’re tired of ads on your favorite sites, Google has the perfect solution for you. And it involves you paying them!

How Does Contributor Work?

google-contributor

Deemed an “experiment”, it seems that Google is trying to figure out just how much users are willing to pay on a monthly basis in order to avoid ads. Users can opt in to pay Google $1 to $3 per month. According to Google, “The more you contribute, the more you support the websites you visit.” As a Contributor, you’ll be directly supporting your favorite sites since after Google keeps a portion of the fees, the rest will go to publishers. Just exactly how much goes to publishers isn’t clear yet either. After payment, in place of ads, you will see a “Thank You” note thanking you for being a Contributor.

What’s In It for Content Creators?

Although it’s not sure quite clear yet, Google also has plans to monetize this experiment for content creators and publishers. Popular sites such as Urban Dictionary, The Onion, Mashable and imgur are among the first few sites to be part of Google’s newest experiment. These high-visit sites signing up surely must mean that Google is on to something big and new, unless they just like taking a gamble…

Early Opinions On Google Contributor

Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Roundtable says, “I have strong doubts that this will work, strong doubts. I would have preferred to see this on the search ads, not the display network ads.”

Wired Magazine says, “But this approach may be too little, far too late. People are already used to getting content online for free. As much as they hate ads and ad tracking, they hate paying for free stuff even more.”

Want to Learn More?

This isn’t Google’s first venture into alternative means of income. YouTube Fan Funding was Google’s first foray into this arena. Viewers were given an opportunity to “Support” their YouTube stars in the amount of $1, $5 or more.

It might be awhile until something comes out of Contributor. Or it might be the latest Product to join the Google graveyard, along with: Google Buzz, Google Wave, and Google Answers. We’ll definitely keep our ears open and eyes peeled. Join the waitlist or read more about Contributor here: https://www.google.com/contributor/welcome/

5 Things Learned If Your Website Drops in Google

Imagine this scenario: your website had #1 rankings all across the board for years. You did anything and everything to keep it that way. This past weekend, those rankings dropped to page 10 overnight. Unfortunately, this does happen and will continue to happen. Google’s latest Panda and Penguin combo updates rolled out around the same time and as it takes weeks for an update to fully roll out, business owners everywhere were on edge. The Penguin refresh affected roughly 1% of queries, leaving some website owners seeing the full lifeblood of their online existence drain, literally overnight.

If this has happened to you, there are many lessons to learn. If this hasn’t happened to your site (or this time around), there are still some takeaways:

red-eye-penguin

1) Get ready for a long stretch – A drastic drop in SERPs isn’t going to be a quick and easy fix. The common misconception is that you did ONE thing that’s considered “wrong” in Google’s eyes and that fixing that ONE thing, will undo the drop immediately. In reality, unless you have a manual link penalty (and even then…), there are usually a number of factors that have caused the website’s drop in rankings.

This is a good time to set a plan of attack, set timelines, and evaluate how the drop in rankings will affect your bottom line.

2) Be careful in choosing your SEO company or if you take the DIY approach to SEO – Outsourcing your SEO is one thing, outsourcing it to a new or untrustworthy company is another. If your website has jumped from company to company, this may make pinpointing the problem even more problematic. While you can focus on on-page issues that are clearly in front of you, tackling off-page issues may prove to be more difficult.

While learning about the basics of SEO, dos & don’ts etc are commendable, you really shouldn’t be messing with on and off page optimization if you don’t know what you’re doing. This is where it helps to hire an SEO company or consultant, who has experience in white hat SEO and identifying and solving Google algorithm/penalty related ranking drops.

3) Don’t focus 100% on organic traffic – Putting all your eggs in one basket is a foolish thing to do, no matter what size budget your company has. It’s even more risky in today’s volatile Google landscape because not everything is transparent. Meaning that if you do encounter a problem like this, there isn’t going to be one clear answer.

Marketing basics stress the importance of a marketing mix, emphasis on the mix. It’s not a marketing ‘put-all-your-resources-into-one-thing’ deal. Luckily for online marketing, there isn’t just SEO. There are other channels to focus on: paid search, social media, traditional, video, email and more.

4) Consider a timeline for an ultimatum – You may be extremely tied to your URL but there may come a time when you have to ditch it for a new one. This ultimatum is hard but it can make or break your  business.

Depending on how you can meet your business goals without a website that is ranking it may come down to two choices: 1) Keeping the URL and trying for months (or years) to get it to rank again 2) Getting a new URL and spending months (or years) to get it to rank. This is a difficult choice and not a decision that should be made rashly. Consult with your SEO company on the best course of action and what is more realistic for your business.

5) No website is ever 100% Google Algorithm or Penalty proof – No matter how well a website ranks or how much business it brings you, you can’t assume that you’re completely excused from Google’s scrutiny. To assume that your website is perfect is dangerous and stubborn. Not to mention that being in this state of mind leaves you unprepared for a drastic rankings drop. There is always work to do on a website and legitimate, white hat ways to make it better. Don’t forget that!

If you have any questions about the latest Google updates or have a link penalty, read more here:
http://www.emarketed.com/google-penalty-removal/ and contact us today. You WILL NOT be charged until the unnatural link warning has been lifted from your website.

Should I Move My Website To HTTPS?

Since Google announced a ranking boost for moving your site to HTTPS, and feedback has been all over the map. Some webmasters moved their site immediately, while others expressed outrage.

https-lock-website

Reasons To Move

If customers submit sensitive (legal, financial, personal) information through your website, it’s a good idea to think about the possibility of moving to HTTPS. With that said, this isn’t something that’s done in the blink of any eye. You need a structured plan, the know-how, the manpower, and the patience to test if there are any kinks after the move.

If you plan on new website launch or redesign in the near future, making the move to HTTPS won’t be such a bad idea. Since you’re already doing all the heavy lifting at once and giving the website a major overhaul, moving to HTTPs can be another step in this move. It will be helpful to make a major change like this all at once so that Google can index it in a more timely manner.

Alternatively, if you have a test site or websites, making the move can be a positive thing since you can accurately monitor the success (or failure) of the move to HTTPS. Testing is never a bad thing and this test project can give you a taste of the work it will take and the results from the move.

Reasons Not to Move

First, Google said that HTTPS would be used as a search ranking factor. But more recently, Google’s John Mueller said that there is no “magical SEO advantage when switching from HTTP to HTTPS.” From what we know so far, there is no clear SEO benefit to moving to HTTPS. But Google is implying that it could change quickly.

SSL certificates and implementing a side wide move to HTTPS isn’t a walk in the park. If you don’t have a qualified web developer, this move (and improper redirection) could be disastrous for your website and rankings.

If you’re happy with how your website is performing and don’t want to make any waves, it might not be such a good idea to rush into the HTTPS move. Some SEOs believe that Google is waiting until the holiday season to unleash an important Penguin refresh.

Will You Make the Move?

One thing that’s sure is that there doesn’t seem to be a magic solution to anything in SEO and HTTPS isn’t an exception. If you aren’t ready to make the move just quite yet, it’s still helpful to think about how you would shortly down the road, as Google may make it a more important factor. Read about HTTPS as a ranking signal on Google’s blog and let us know if you have any questions.

What You Need to Know About Google’s Update to Its Quality Rating Guidelines

It’s been reported this week that Google has completely updated their Quality Rating Guidelines.

What Are Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines?

Have you ever wondered how search results are reviewed and rated? Contrary to popular belief, it’s NOT done all by robots. Google actually has third-party contractors or Search Quality Evaluators (real people!), who manually review search results. They review results by the official Google Quality Rating Guidelines and send feedback to Google’s team. This is part of Google’s process to continuously improve its search algorithm.

eat-google

Why Have Guidelines Changed?

View the most recent leaked guidelines here. As Google’s bots and searchers get smarter and change the way they search, surely guidelines to rate content must change. Some changes and emphasis relies on E-A-T: expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness.

What Do SEOs Need to Know?

The concept of E-A-T isn’t new and judging by the leak of the guidelines, its been a few months since the changes have been in place.

Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness is tied to a business’ reputation and the guidelines stress the importance of whether or not the information is reliable and if the website (source) can be trusted. This is demonstrated in many ways: professional awards, publications, customer reviews, industry associations, and having a real physical address and local telephone number.

How Do These Changes Affect My Website?

If anything, following the concept of E-A-T will only work to improve your website and credibility. There is nothing detrimental about implementing these… unless in fact, your website lacks E-A-T. Expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness are all fundamental concepts that should influence your website design, content, on and off-site SEO. Consider it a good thing that these guidelines have leaked to the general public. It’s very helpful and eye-opening to put your own website to Google’s official search quality test.

Google Authorship Changes in Search Results – What Can We Learn?

This week, Google’s John Mueller announced Google’s “clean up” efforts in its search results regarding Authorship. Namely, this casual announcement refers to “simplfying” Authorship by removing profile pictures and Circle count. While it was good while it lasted, there are always some things to learn.

google-authorship-info

Google can change its mind at any time

Nothing is set in stone when it comes to how Google displays search engine results. And for SEOs, just when we’re getting used to something like the Analytics back end, Google Local/Maps/Business, and Authorship, Google can and will change at any time.

The lesson to be learned here is that businesses who best adapt to these changes will do better in the long run. You’ve got to roll with the punches and Google certainly has a lot to dish out.

Skeptics say it was drawing too much attention away from paid ads

Change is a good thing. Change is a bad thing. Depending on your point of view, you might believe that Google has made strategic moves in organic search because Authorship is becoming too predominant in SERPs that its actually taking away from the paid ad space.

The lesson here is to not put all your eggs in one basket. If you’ve counted on your Authorship picture to help get a competitive edge, Google is here to level that playing field. On the other hand, it might be time to think of PPC to give your business and brand a boost.

Don’t try to game the system

Much like guest blogging, press releases advertorials, businesses and people have tried to use Authorship to their advantage, even when its not meant to be used. For example, Authorship shouldn’t be applied to EVERY single page on your site, it shouldn’t be used for e-commerce sites and you shouldn’t create multiple, mini-sites in order to get your Authorship photo to show up for more search terms. These are all things that Google looks down upon and is working to clean up.

Lesson here is that Google sees all and when they see that something is getting spammed or being overused, they won’t be afraid to shut it down… no matter how popular it is!

Nothing in the SEO world is stable

The state of search engine optimization is always in flux. That’s what makes it so exciting (and terrifying) to be in the online marketing industry. The most important lesson to be learned here is that you have to diversify your marketing channels in order to truly succeed. Although we would all like to think that our business and rankings are stable, it can change at any time. Take advantage of everything you can: organic, paid, local, social, blogging, print, TV/radio ads and even personal referrals.

Read more about Google Author information ion search results here: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/1408986

How to Recover 100% from a Website Penalty

Is your website suffering from a manual Google penalty? Have you spent hours and resources trying to fix it to no avail? Look no further and leave it to us at Emarketed. When it comes to removing website penalties, we have a 100% success rate. No matter how toxic, spammy and unnatural the links in your situation are, our team of SEO specialists can help. Here are some reasons why you should hire an experienced company to handle your website penalty for you, instead of dealing with it yourself:

We Have the Resources

Trying to fix a website penalty yourself is a hassle. You have to look into your website’s history and dig around your back link profile. In addition, you’ll have to try to interpret Google’s vague warnings and messages and try to figure out what they want you to do. It doesn’t help that they don’t give you specific notes and can be a disaster if you don’t have a plan of action. At Emarketed, our team members have the knowledge, experience, and patience to face your website penalty head-on.

We Know What the Different Penalties Are

When we say “Google website penalty”, understand that there is more than one. In fact, there are SO many different kinds of penalties that it can make your head spin just thinking about it! There’s the site-wide penalty, partial-match penalty, keyword penalty, page penalty, PageRank penalty, de-indexing, and many more, including combinations of the ones mentioned.

We Are Transparent and Will Keep You Updated Each Step of the Way

There are some services out there that offer to do all the work and send you a summary of what has been completed at the very end. While it’s nice to be out of the loop, you should want to know what’s going on when it’s something as serious as addressing a website penalty. When working with Emarketed, you’ll have a dedicated team member who can answer all your questions and concerns during each step of the process.

We Only Practice White Hat Practices and are Google Compliant

Beating a website penalty means doing things the right way, not combating it with more black or grey hat tactics. We understand Google’s best practices for SEO and want to help you bring your website into compliance with Google’s terms. Contact us today to discuss your website penalty. We look forward to hearing from you and you won’t be charged until your website penalty has been lifted!

4 Reasons You Should Care About Google+ Views

In the battle of the view counter between Twitter and Google, it looks like Google is the first to make the move. On March 31, 2014, Google+ added view counts for profiles. The counter shows and counts views that go back to October of 2012. But the view count isn’t exact, as it’s only an estimate and doesn’t show views in real time.

What do “views” mean? According to Google, “When you look at your profile, you can see your total number of views. That means you can tell how many times your content has been seen by other people, including your photos, posts, and profile page.” There is also an option to disable this counter on your profile. Even though this is a seemingly small move, let’s take a look at a few reasons you should care:

zappos-views

1) Google is pushing the importance of Google+: Whenever Google can push the importance of their own social network, they’re going to do it. For marketers, views might be seen as an additional way go increase authority and even somehow gain rankings. For businesses and individuals, it adds a competitive edge by giving more incentive to have an engaging profile… to attract more views, on top of followers.

2) Customers are paying attention: If a business has a high number of followers and a relatively low number of views, it might look suspicious and strange. It can be an indicator that your page is so boring that customers don’t bother to visit. Hiding the counter also might be distracting, as it looks like you have something to hide or don’t want to be compared to competitors.

3) Competition: There are many gripes about calculating the ROI of social media. Putting a tangible number on Google+ is one way of making the network more transparent. This is helpful for businesses, marketers and customers… so it can be seen as a win for everyone. When you think of it, there are plenty of quantifiable factors that Google+ accounts for including: Followers, Views, Circles and number of reviews.

4) Avoid scams and buying views and followers: Where there’s a way to improve your standing with Google, there’s a way for people to try and make a profit off of it. Buying Views and Followers is a shortcut and Google looks down on this black hat tactics. Though many people and businesses do partake and benefit, there’s no telling what could happen when Google cracks down. It’s no fun to be on Google’s bad list and the best practice in the long run is to follow Google guidelines. Think natural and organic.

This new additional counter might seem lame or vain but don’t forget that Google has a reasoning behind everything. Also know that it doesn’t necessarily mean it’s permanent. Google is always experimenting and changing things up when necessary. Follow Emarketed on Google+ for more info!

What is Referrer Traffic Spam?

Have you ever looked at referring sites in Analytics and saw that strange sites were showing up? This could be a referrer traffic spam tactic. Matt Cutts explains more about it in the short video above.

Referrer traffic spam is a sneaky way for webmasters to get people to visit their sites via fake hits. It works in that they automatically crawl websites (like Google’s Googlebot) and sends referrer information back to your site. So, when they “visit” your site, it will look like a site X.com, referred someone to your site. In reality, the referral site can be set up to be anything. In the video above, a webmaster can set it to a YouTube video in an attempt to get more clicks and views.

Why Should You Care About Referrer Traffic Spam?

If your site is getting a high amount of visits from fake people, it can be misleading. On the surface, it looks like you’re receiving traffic from a certain site. This is just to entice you to visit their site in return
The effect is that there appears to be a fake person going around visiting a hundred million websites and arriving at those websites from someone else’s website.

Visiting a referrer traffic spam site may be just as innocent as getting a view or some unnatural viral campaign to get publicity about a site. BUT these sites can also be dangerous and contain viruses or malware. On some occasions, a site might be even phishing for sensitive information.

What to Do About Referrer Spam Going Forward

This type of traffic spam has been and will continue to happen. The important thing is to stay educated and understand why it’s a blackhat tactic and the type of harm that can come from it. Another important point is to understand that a high amount of these visits can skew your Analytics. This is why it’s helpful to use Filters in Google Analytics. For example, if you’re getting a lot of traffic spam from Russia, you can see your Filters to only show traffic from the US/

If an unfamiliar site pops up under your website’s referrals, you should do a quick search about it before going directly to the site. If it’s a spam site, chances are other people will detail their experiences, which will serve as a good warning of what not to do… visit that particular site. For the more tech savvy, there are ways to block reoccurring traffic spammers.