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Home » SEO
13 04, 2017

Semantic Search Why Is It So Important?

By |2019-01-30T21:20:48+01:00April 13th, 2017|SEO|0 Comments

Companies are now spending millions of £’s in ‘long tail work’ looking at Semantic Search. We spend hours trying to use our knowledge trying to optimise the best of search working our way around what we think the Bing and Google algorithms  are doing. We are trying to maximise the use of our micro meta data our keyword density and our organic data strategies to scrape every little bit of search rank real estate to influence our position. The algorithms that drive bing and google are becoming ‘self learning’ so as to become artificially intelligent. The implications of which will lead to ever increasing changes that will effect contextual and Semantic Search results.

The conversion holy grail that we all strive for is increasingly being influenced by the semantic search elements of the self learning algorithms of bing and google. Thats why we must focus on a good user ‘read’ or experience that will drive conversion rather being wholly obsessed with trying top stuff and manipulate the keywords into an article at the expense of adding anything useful to a reader.

So What is Semantic Search?

Semantic is Mid 17th century in origin from the French sémantique and from the Greek sēmantikos meaning significant. In simple terms Semantic search basically takes any elements associated and related to an article, website, image and now even voice. The correlation from all the other billions of data elements that both Bing and Google have gathered over time are interrelated in virtual contextual ‘links’. This huge repository of information acts like a database that is matched by the algorithms according to the ‘semantic’ or significant elements of that particular searches intent. This ‘leaned’ ability over time delivers more personalised and highly relevant results. The semantic search results are nicely summarised in Googles knowledge graph.

Why is Semantic Search so Important for the User?

The user of any search will not know or quite frankly care about the fact that semantic search plays such a large part in their experience online. The contextual results that are displayed are a result of Google, Bing and all the major search engines trying to deliver the best user experience possible. The mass of semantic search data will result in a deeper understanding of the users intent for the search engine, more relevant data available for the user and less spam. So the semantic searches are the real key behind driving a better user experience for searches online.

Explosion in Data

The explosion in data growth which predicts data demand growing to more than 4300 % annually by 2020 will all help in usability. A new term Zettabyte having to be invented to cope with the data increase. (A Zettabyte unit of information equal to one sextillion or 1021 bytes.) Is not hard to see where search is going. As we sit hear in 2017 with voice now becoming the method of search preferred semantic search will get even more sophisticated and sort the wheat the from the chaff in user experience delivery.

Very particular mathematical models have been created to help in semantic search to improve the user experience such as Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) which is the method to determine relationships between terms and contextual content. This is the most common way of determining the phrases and words on a page or image which are most important. Another important parameter is how the sentences or phrases are constructed and the subject matter that is part of that structure. So similarities in word structure is also very important here as it will stop spamming. This particular model is called natural language processing or Latent Dirichlet Allocation or LDA. 

Another commonly used element within the semantic search algorithms is Frequency-Inverse Document Frequency or TF-IDF which was first devised in 1972 and is used for the term relevance factors in a piece of text. This is very important and why the use of tittle tags, h1 tags including your key words are important in helping your article phrase or keyword being associated with the semantic context of the piece.

Why Entity Based Search Helps in Semantic Search

Entity based search also correlates to semantic search by associating an entity, which are people, places or things and places an identifier to the various elements within that phrase. How this phrase is broken and deconstructed is important in deriving the context of the conversation. Lets take a search for Nicole Kidman for example. Here are the results.

Within these results you can see the news, bio, pictures, movies and social and various stories and articles where Nicole Kidman has been tagged and discussed at length.

Semantic Search Box

Browser with Nicole Kidman selected to show the difference elements of Semantic Search and how it works.

The search context are shown below. They show the pictures, bios. text, directories, news results which show how the information is related to the ‘entity’ definitions.  does and the importance of its role in semantic search.

Semantic Search Results Example.

Search results example for Nicole Kidman, the 41 m searches show how the entity elements go to make up all the various branches from the different nodes.

You can see why Semantic Search has had more importance placed on it over recent months. The power to include more keywords that relate to the focus keyword and content on the page is huge and is something every marketing manager should be looking at.

Let me know what you think about Semantic Search and whether you will be going back through your content to improve your SEO?

8 02, 2017

Possum Update

By |2019-01-30T21:20:48+01:00February 8th, 2017|Algorithm Changes/Updates, Google, SEO|0 Comments

Why! This could be big.

Possum! has arrived locally to you. Well done Google! Here is the inside track on the local effects of the Possum search update now that we have had a little time since its arrival…….

…….with Google’s core search engine also being updated.

The effects of the Possum Update have seen a 59% increase in local SERP results in the Google algorithm changes affecting Google local pack traffic. The changes represent a huge impact on local search results but also a slight change in the search engine at a national results level. So what?

Democratisation of the web that’s what, and that is a big deal especially if you are a smaller business. The impact really is great news for smaller businesses (which is nice to see) at the local level – where it was increasingly hard to see local traffic get visibility due to the dominance of the big ‘national brands’. This has surely got to be good news for regional businesses. We are holding our breath for further increases in local results with ever increasing relevance.

Carrying on the theme of significant search updates beginning with a ‘P’ is Penguin and Panda, the latest iteration has been named ‘Possum’ by the search community. One of our fun tools is the MozCast which is a superb indicator that things are a churn in the Google algorithms.

The impacts are pretty much rolling out and have gradually been effecting search results over the past month. The Domain Diversity is fantastic as it shows the growing number of domains present in search and that has got to be a good thing for the web. The domain diversity is now showing a higher preference of local results according to the great results shown in the Mozcast Domain diversity figures.

The Local/Map results contain the largest impact in movement and change in Search Results. The reduction in desk top organic SERP results to between 7 and 9 results on page 1 and the removing of the adverts on the right hand side of the SERP’s page in early 2016 versus the increase in advertising has helped increase Google ad revenues. However the increase in the local pack results will be a welcome benefit for local businesses.

We looked at a random subject area – ‘garages in Brighton’ and the following came up in the results pages.

Standard results page with mapping at the top. We swapped the use of ‘local’ and also added ‘Brighton’ to the end of the search. The results either placed the ads before the Map in 80% of cases or at the very top of the page. The extended ‘More places’ we think has got bigger, but what we really notice is the resultant map that appears following this has a lot more businesses. We then repeated this for other service functions for B2C companies and then swapped out for B2B.

The advertising that sits at the bottom has pushed the results on the organic SERPS which used to be firmly 10 down to an average of 7. These 3 ‘missing’ places have been replaced by the adverts you see at the bottom of the page. OK this started to happen back in April this year when the right hand advertising block disappeared from Google only to be added to the top and bottom of the page.

So Google local search has got better for the user and for businesses locally.  What we are constantly amazed by is the local businesses that were still not using Google + , Google My Business. With the ever increasing search by Google for relevance it seems mad that this does not happen more.

We wanted to find a little more about the Microsoft side of the story by talking to Bing ourselves to get their take on all the changes in SERPS in the Bing search engines.

Read next time our interview with Bing for information on how the local search results are changing from a Microsoft perspective.

For more on another big Google update, check out Stuart’s post on the Penguin 4.0 update. Or see how we can help your Search Engine Optimisation, taking into account the most recent algorithm changes.

17 01, 2017

SEO vs PPC

By |2019-01-30T21:20:49+01:00January 17th, 2017|Google, Keyword Research, Keywords, PPC, SEO|0 Comments

SEO vs PPC

“I want to grow my business in the online world, what do I focus on and the question of SEO vs PPC is maybe not a clear cut as we think.”

This is a question that digital firms hear all too often. Both can have a massive impact, but the answer depends on your business. Are you large and established? Do you sell a product or service? What are your budgetary needs and concerns? Are you a local business?

The Benefits of SEO

What’s it all about and what is it useful for?

Now, it is important to know that SEO is not simply about optimising your content with keywords (although the use of ‘Semantic keywords’ is very helpful in organic search). Consider the plethora of information search engines use to measure a company’s online potential. Amongst many other factors, search engines monitor your services in the offline world, your social media interactions and the ‘relevancy’ of the content you produce to help prospective clients at crucial touch-points. This information has much larger ramifications on your overall marketing strategies outside of the digital world, as well as in. In fact, one of SEO’s primary functions is about discovering and finessing these touch-points.  

In practice, SEO is a long process of measurement and research. It is heavily content driven and time consuming because of Google’s semantic search technology. Your primary goal should be to understand the keyword landscape of your market, honing in on the variety of search terms the consumer is using and gaining a better understanding of their intent. Investigating the why, as opposed to the what, is a much larger benefit to your future marketing efforts. So, SEO is very useful for businesses that have some time. Getting your pages to be indexed for ideal keyword search terms is a gradual process and fluctuations are to be expected in highly competitive markets. The margin for error is much larger and strategies are as exploratory as they are results driven. From a UX point of view, one serious benefit of SEO is that your efforts will have made your site a lot cleaner. On a bridal website, for example, instead of having headings like ‘Wedding Dress Accessories for Vintage Weddings’, you can go with ‘Wedding Dress Accessories’ or the more specific but still high volume ‘Vintage Wedding Dress Accessories’.

Don’t be discouraged by the indefinite nature of SEO. It will bring you the most qualified leads over time and will directly influence your PPC results. Since SEO has no fee per keyword, you shouldn’t shy away from high competition words, especially as it will help you to qualify for longer tail keywords (something particularly useful for local businesses). Primarily, SEO is an integral framework for your digital marketing efforts. In the short term, it is a form of good ‘house keeping’ that can be used as a solid jumping off point.  Everything counts towards understanding your market’s behaviours and this is why a good SEO strategy can often be useful for small and local businesses, if they have the time. SEO vs PPC is the question that we have been asked more times than any other. Its generally good practice to engage with your knowledge and we think that writing at least one article of 300 – 600 words.

The Benefits of PPC

How does it differ to SEO and how can it benefit my business?

PPC is a great way of kick-starting your business’s digital efforts. It is a very concentrated way of driving potential leads to your site. However, it is a vastly different process to SEO. PPC consists of bidding on and competing for specific search terms that appear in display networks. As a result, you need to be absolutely precise with your keywords and copy, always keeping one eye on the cost per click and one eye on the quality score. You must make absolutely sure that your ad copy is tightly correlated with the corresponding landing pages and that your campaigns are tightly categorised. This approach makes it much easier to cut away ads that are not working. Due to the fastidiousness of PPC, the margins for error are much smaller, simply because it costs you money every time a mistake is made. Although Google does not always put the ‘highest bidder’ at the top of its sponsored results, affording PPC long term can be tricky.

In practice there should not be a choice between SEO vs PPC, PPC is very useful to a business that does not have the time to wait for the long-term benefits of SEO. Lets say you have a brand new product that has to be launched in the next 3 months. You could use a campaign to gauge the demand for the product, by bringing attention to it quickly and taking an early look at its reception. This data will not only inform your longer-term SEO efforts, but also your overall marketing strategies. Another huge benefit of PPC is something called the ‘panic scenario’. With many small businesses that are still trying to establish a steadfast form of revenue, PPC offers the possibility of gaining traffic quickly. And, because of its highly targeted nature, this can be relatively inexpensive in the short term.

However, if budget is not a large problem, PPC does have some very serious long-term benefits as well. Often, SEO consultants cite the classic ‘most people have trained themselves to actively ignore the ad spaces on search engines’. Whilst this might be true sometimes, they are forgetting the deeper value of a high-ranking ad in the search results. In an article from Search Engine Land, a study found that 82% of ad clicks are incremental when the associated organic result is ranked between 2 and 4, and 96% of clicks are incremental when the brand’s organic result was 5 or below. Google says that those visits would not have occurred without the ad campaigns. What is important to consider here is that as a result of having a strong ‘ownership’ of Google’s ad space, the appearance of that business in the organic search section seemed more ‘clickable’. Thus, the biggest long-term benefit of a PPC campaign is reputation, and how that reputation directly affects clickthrough rate and conversions.

Conclusion of SEO vs PPC?

Whether it’s a much-needed source of traffic, or necessary architectural changes that will stand up in the long run, both PPC and SEO have their separate uses. In fact, the only way to ensure success in the digital landscape is to use both in tandem at different times. A good digital firm knows this. So don’t be swayed by a consultant that offers you one service to fix all as this really isn’t good practice. The question of SEO vs PPC will not disappear for a while and will be enhanced even further with Google and Bings increasing emphasis on Semantic keywords becoming more important. So SEO vs PPC will never a choice between the two, but the two being used in a smarter way together. 

Please see other articles that you might find interesting.

Digital Fundamentals Training

Digital Glossary

20 10, 2016

Penguin 4.0 – What Does It Mean For You?

By |2017-01-24T13:21:56+01:00October 20th, 2016|Algorithm Changes/Updates, Backlinks, Google, Penguin Update, SEO|0 Comments

What is the Penguin update?

Google’s Penguin update was first introduced in 2012 and is one of many factors they use to affect Search Rankings in a positive way. This update targeted those websites using black-hat techniques such as keyword-stuffing and any link-building schemes that blew up rankings artificially.

Why is Penguin still relevant?

In the last couple of weeks, Google have started rolling out the 4.0 update that has come with a host of new features, causing a shift in the search rankings for websites that weren’t aware.

It has been 2 years since the last penguin update and many webmaster’s have been preparing in that timeframe with the other minor and big updates (Mobilegeddon anyone!), wandering what Google would have up their sleeve for penguin.

Key features of 4.0

  • It was a worldwide launch. So everyone was affected at the same time, meaning certain websites in other locations wouldn’t get to enjoy those extra couple of weeks they would usually get at the top of the rankings. Even slate for everyone.
  • The update is now in real-time. Google will now update the rankings every time they update the information discovered by the crawlers, meaning you will notice changes to your rankings at a much faster rate than before.
  • Recover from Google penalties faster. Factoring in the real-time nature of the 4.0 update, if you have been penalised before you will know how much of a long process it is to recover from. But thanks to the update it is now a faster process to recover once you have made the necessary changes.
  • Google has now made Penguin part of its core algorithm. This now means you wont see any official announcements regarding penguin, so keep an eye on your link-building.
  • It is targeting more specific pages instead of whole websites when penalising toxic links. In other words, Penguin is becoming more granular making it crucial that websites are audited on a more regular basis.

Why is it a good thing?

  • The algorithm is now much faster in picking up updates to websites. This is a good thing as a lot of companies are put off SEO in the first place due to it being a long process to see any benefit. But thanks to this update, you should start to see the rankings benefit much sooner.
  • Like I’ve mentioned in the key features, it is now much faster to recover from Google penalties. This is great for the webmaster’s who have been stuck with penalties for a while, since the last update for Penguin was 2 years ago.
  • The granular nature of the update makes it less harsh on websites that are generally in the green save for one or two pages that may have a toxic link by only penalising those pages specifically.

What issues may websites face?

  • Whilst granular may be a good thing it also makes it more difficult to track any changes to affected pages, meaning deeper analysis is required to pick up any problems.
  • Since Penguin is now becoming a part of Google’s core algorithm, this now means there will be no more announcements regarding updates to the specific algorithm. This can be a problem for webmaster’s as it means they will have to start consistently analysing and auditing their websites for any changes, adding more work to their already busy SEO schedules.

How will I know when Penguin 4.0 is live and what can I do to stay ahead of the pack?

The Penguin 4.0 update launched on September 23rd 2016 or as Google have stated it is “Rolling out” so there is still time to make the necessary changes and tweaks to keep your website on top.

But how do I make sure I have covered all bases for the update?

Keep a constant eye on your positions in the SERPs (Search Engine Results Page) – Put it into a daily plan to check your most crucial pages in the search results, keeping an eye on any fluctuations positive or negative based on the keywords you are tracking.

Make sure your backlink profile is regularly in the green – Put it into the daily plan again, ensuring your link-building efforts are not including any toxic or low-quality links.

Perform deep backlink checks on your website weekly – It may take longer than a normal audit but it will be worth it to discover if there any pages that are letting the rest of your site down by having a toxic link. Penguins new granular approach makes this step a priority.

Our SEO experts deal with all the latest updates from Google, so if you think your website has taken a hit thanks to one of these updates then check out our SEO page to see how we can gain ground back on your rankings. Or why not check out the 5 killer SEO methods that you may not be using!

5 08, 2016

PPC Marketing £2 Made For Every £1 Spent Really?

By |2019-01-30T21:20:49+01:00August 5th, 2016|AdWords, Blog, Keyword Research, Keywords, PPC, SEO|0 Comments

PPC Marketing – Where Do You Make Your Money?

PPC Marketing – Jupiter Research a Forrester Research company said that 81% of users find their desired destination through a search engine. Broadly speaking, you need to be in the top of the SERP (search engine results page).

PPC marketing is still a relatively new concept and from the outside looking in it can look a bit daunting. What with it looking like a war zone with multiple companies trying to outbid each other on keywords to get their ads to the top. There are many more business not doing PPC Marketing than there are, so therefor Google and Microsoft stand to get even larger in size.

But its important to be aware of whether or not it is right for your business. There have been multiple success stories when it comes to PPC, but it has also seen its fair share of companies who haven’t seen success with the advertising platform.

I want to share with you some amazing statistics before I get into the good & bad of PPC Marketing.

When it comes to AdWords, businesses make an average of £2 in revenue for every £1 they spend PPC Marketing on the platform.

Organic results are 8.5x more likely to be clicked on than paid search results! However, PPC holds a slight edge in conversion rates, as paid search results are 1.5x more likely to convert into sales or email sign-ups for example than organic search. After all the average click-through rate for a Google ad is 3.16%

While those may be huge positives, let me share with you what I found to be the bad points of PPC……

The Bad

It can get very expensive

PPC Marketing costs money, after all its in the title Pay Per Click, you pay up every time someone clicks on your ads. Depending on your experience with the advertising medium it can appear like you are burning cash with no return on investment. So it is essential and good practise that you have defined objectives before you start. Keep your PPC objectives and strategy at the forefront of your mind. What is your CPC (Cost Per Click) target. Even then with the fact that you are bidding with hundreds of other companies for keywords – costs can still skyrocket if you want to see your ads in the top 3 of the first page in Google or Bing.

As an example, “Insurance” is the most expensive keyword at £55 per click! Now can you imagine if 100 people clicked on your ad. That would end up costing you £5500!

Of course this is all relative depending on the size of the business and how much a conversion is worth compared to the PPC spend. Another essential element of effective PPC management is knowing how much you are making in profit margin terms. The product or service you are advertising will have a profit and this should be included as a goal to measure against your PPC efforts.

Did you know, a YouTube homepage ad can cost on average £4,000!

Constant management

One thing a lot of companies don’t realise is the constant management required to run effective PPC Marketing campaigns. A lot of companies start out not knowing this fact and believe it is a set and forget job, burning cash and not achieving results in the process.

For small companies this can be a problem as they usually do not have the resources or time to allocate to manage PPC on an ongoing basis. Many get disillusioned and will say ‘it doesn’t work after trying it briefly’.

Keeping up to date

This almost ties into the previous point in some respect, as being on the ball with PPC Marketing will make sure you are aware of the latest updates and changes. Looking at AdWords for example and Google being Google, they are constantly updating the algorithms and if you are not aware of the changes until its too late, then your campaigns suffer. A good example is Google expanding the character limit for text ads. If you weren’t made aware of this, then you’ll be losing out as your competitors will be one step ahead of you, all because they are constantly aware of what Google have planned and act upon it.

The Good

Instant results over SEO

It’s a fact that SEO takes times before any improvements or changes take effect within the search engines. While that’s not necessarily a bad thing, its not great if you are looking for results in a short space of time.

This is where PPC Marketing comes in! you can put together a campaign with ad groups, keywords and ads – set it live and the next morning see results from the get go. These may mainly be impressions and only a few clicks but results nonetheless. Getting these results instantly also enables you to make changes whereas you would have to wait for SEO to take effect before seeing if you need to make any improvements.

That’s not to say you should neglect SEO entirely, as they both go hand in hand in improving your visibility.

Data, data and more data!

Using AdWords as an example again, there is so much data you can pull from campaigns that help you make smarter decisions and optimise effectively. Data like quality score, average CPC, average position, impression share, % impressions lost and the rules around these.

As an example of how data heavy PPC Marketing can get, the Google Display Network serves about 180 billion impressions (views of an ad) each month, which is about 6 billion a day!

You can also pull data from Google Analytics to find out the effect the campaigns are having on traffic, bounce rate and new sessions.

Some may also see this as a negative because of the overwhelming amount of data, but I like to look at it in a positive way. The more data means the more opportunities you have to make smart decisions that improve your campaign and therefore improve click-through and conversion performance.

Specific Customer Targeting

This is great for businesses of any size, location and target market.

For example you can specify locations down to individual counties which is great for local businesses, this means you won’t waste money from clicks by individuals who are not in your location.

Another great feature is the ability to schedule when your ads are shown. Like the previous point, it helps to reduce click wastage by making sure your ads are shown when your target audience is at its most active.

Conclusion

I have aimed to provide a completely even view of the benefits & negatives of PPC Marketing, to summarise it works for some companies and others not so much. It requires diligence, understanding and real commitment to see true results that become conversions for your business.

If you find that the process puts you off, then we would love to help manage your PPC and show you just how successful it can be for your business. We have years of experience and proven results! If that interests you Click Here!

Some further reading we would recommend includes :

  1. Microsoft Adwords
  2. Google PPC Adwords
  3. Digital Glossary

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