Search marketing is arguably one of the most misunderstood media in digital marketing, with search engine algorithm changes taking place daily. Even with these changes, there are many foundational tactics that still have a lot of value in search – tactics like internal links, length of URLs and the position of keywords in your meta titles. The basics of search marketing are a good place to start, but it’s more important to stay updated on the latest changes in the industry.
The search engines – mainly Google – have been busy in the past couple of weeks, tweaking their algorithms to address guest posting anchor text, Google+ Local review pop ups and sitelink design. All of these things are worth examining, especially if you’re the one responsible for your own website’s performance.
Large-Scale Guest Posting Warning
A lot of webmasters have recently noticed an update to Google’s Link Schemes document, a write up that explains how Google treats links from one page to another on the Internet. In brief, any links that have the purpose of skewing PageRank or a site’s rankings in Google’s search results can be considered part of a link scheme. For example, a site participating in a link scheme may sell links that pass PageRank, a logarithmic measure that helps Google weigh and measure link importance.
The new additions to the document make these approaches harmful when link building:
- Large-scale article marketing or guest posting campaigns with keyword-rich anchor text links.
- Advertorials or native advertising where payment is received for articles that include links that pass PageRank.
- Links with optimized anchor text in articles or press releases distributed on other sites.
Guest blogging is not an unusual practice on the Internet, and many people do it without the purpose of building links back to their site. Writing an article for another person’s blog is a great way to build quality links, that is, if your content is well developed. You need to be writing articles that bring value to the visitors of the site in which you’re posting.
Many webmasters and writers also ignore the “optimized anchor text” warning that Google has been vocal about in the past months. We suggest that you avoid using keywords in the anchor text of your article, and instead, focus on incorporating keywords throughout, as they’re needed. Anchor text can be as simple as the name of your company.
New Google+ Local Reviews
Try searching for a keyword like “Italian restaurant” on Google Search, and you’ll most likely see a dynamic overlay window on top of the web search results with reviews. Click on the main name of the business and you’ll be taken directly to the business local page on Google Local. The pin will take you to the local listing in Google Maps, and the review will open this overlay window:
Although correlation does not prove causation, I noticed these things when viewing the listings on Google Maps:
- Listings with high ratings and reviews tend to be ranked higher than those without.
- Listings with images tend to rank higher than those without.
- Listings that use keywords in the business category, paired with high reviews and ratings, tend to rank higher than those without.
- Reviewers who use keywords at the beginning of their review that match the query tend to help listings. For example, an Italian restaurant could rank higher if a reviewer used “restaurant” or “Italian” at the beginning of their review.
Google Sitelinks Redesigned
According to Search Engine Land, Google is testing a new design for their organic search results sitelinks. You may have noticed a change in search results when searching for specific brands in Google, essentially a design that gives the brand more real estate and a larger title.
Jon Cooper provided SEL with a screenshot (above) of a grid that displays four main sections of the Nike website in search results. Though not fully implemented, some users will find that clicking on a section will expand a grey drop down area with additional sitelinks that show up in the gray background area.
Have you noticed these changes? We’re curious to hear about what you think of this update and how it plays a role in your website’s rankings.