If you film a product demo or a podcast for YouTube, and you don’t get views, is it anything more than a virtual paperweight? If someone writes a blog and nobody reads it, does it really exist?
You can painstakingly create exceptional content, but your time and effort won’t mean anything if you can’t get eyes on it.
There’s a myriad of ways to draw attention to your website. From tried-and-true SEO techniques to connecting on social media, or even the classic touch of a business card, the choices are vast.
But what if there’s a golden ticket to top visibility? Enter: the Featured Snippet on Google Search.
Below, we’ll unpack this standout method and offer guidance on how to position your content for Feature Snippets. If you’re looking to have your website standout in one of the most sought after placements on Google search engine results pages, you’ll want to read on.
- What is a Google Featured Snippet?
- Why Do Featured Snippets Matter?
- Types Of Featured Snippets
- How To Identify Content With Featured Snippet Potential
- Optimizing Your Content For Featured Snippets
- What Are Some Featured Snippet Best Practices?
- Thriving in a Challenging SEO Landscape
What is a Google Featured Snippet?
A Google Featured Snippet gives you information when you enter a query into the search field.
Note that the snippet isn’t the same as the answer box.
The answer box appears with a simple answer and without a citation. For instance, if you ask when the Toronto Blue Jays won the World Series, Google would generate “1992” and “1993” in a box at the top of a page without citations. That’s an answer box.
Conversely, when you click through to the cited website, a snippet gives you a detailed answer. It highlights the extracted blurb–and its location.
Moreover, the snippet link has an anchor tag to take you to the blurb’s precise page location instead of taking you to the top.
Are you still having a hard time envisioning a Featured Snippet? Ask Google, “What’s a Featured Snippet?” and one will appear with the definition and a requisite link. Also, underneath the extracted website text, the snippet will actually say “about Featured Snippets.”
Featured Snippets evolve continually, perpetually adding and trialling new features.
Up to 23% of Google searches yield Featured Snippets. The longer a search query, the likelier it will generate a Featured Snippet.
SEMrush research cites paragraph snippets comprise 70% of Featured Snippets, making them–by far–the most popular. An average featured paragraph snippet is around 249 characters or 42 words.
Why Do Featured Snippets Matter?
Why should your business and brand prioritize Featured Snippets?
Appearing in a snippet means you’re at the top of the search engine results page (SERP). Thus–whether on mobile or desktop–the clickability of your content multiplies exponentially.
Featured Snippets take up significant real estate on mobile screens – around 50% or more of the available space. Thus, Smartphone and Android users have no choice but to see the featured snipper for their query.
Note that Featured Snippets are more prevalent with intent-specific keywords (e.g., long-tail keywords) at a given sales funnel stage.
Types Of Featured Snippets
Before moving on to the next section, here’s a breakdown of Featured Snippet percentages (according to SEMrush):
- Paragraphs make up 70% of Featured Snippets.
- Lists stand at 19.1%.
- Tables comprise 6.3%.
- Videos are 4.6%.
Below is a list of the various Featured Snippet types:
A featured paragraph is the first one that pops into most people’s minds when they think of a Google snippet.
With these paragraphs, Google attempts to answer a search question with extracted text from a page.
Featured paragraph snippets can also be text from a video description.
You’ll see featured number-list snippets explaining how to do something.
Want a recipe for a homemade chilli or Fettuccine Alfredo? Type in “chilli recipe” or “Fettuccine Alfredo” recipe, and Google will generate a numbered list with the recipes.
This notion holds for other DIY tasks. Whenever you ask Google, “How do I?” or “How to…” there’s a strong chance that the results will feature a numbered list snippet.
Imagine you want to know the top expert-rated sedans in 2023. If you take this query to Google, it’ll likely yield a featured bulleted list. Generally, you’ll be linked back to a listicle article.
You’ll typically come across bulleted lists when you want “best of” rankings or generally ranked items. Although, bulleted lists do appear for unranked items and feature lists.
Tables will have pricing, lists, data, and rates.
They’re also precise in providing relevant content based on the user’s needs. A table will organize specific information about the search query and generate its own table (i.e., you won’t find the same table within the linked content).
Paragraph snippets might be the most prevalent of the bunch, but table snippets hold their own.
Tables make up almost 30% of all snippets since Google likes to show them off.
A significant advantage of Featured Snippets is their versatility. You aren’t limited to your website. For example, your YouTube content is more prime material for Google to mine.
Are you not making YouTube videos? We get that it’s intimidating for some, but the medium is always worth exploring, given the results it yields. Check out this helpful how-to video for making excellent YouTube videos for your business.
Here are the scenarios wherein Google will feature a YouTube video in a snippet:
- It might show a specific time-stamped clip from your video.
- Text from your video description might also be used.
- In fact, YouTube snippets can turn up for any query that needs a Featured Snippet (except tables).
Carousel isn’t only the de facto scene title of Don Draper’s finest moment in Mad Men.
It’s also a Google Featured Snippet type.
With carousels, relevant, Google-suggested keywords a user might search for will appear in little bubbles at the top or bottom of snippets.
Upon clicking a keyword, the user will see the snippet content transform into something else. The search results will also change.
The carousel snippet appears when a query requires more intensive research or refinement to offer a concise answer. It also shows itself when there’s a different answer after a refinement.
Moz research cites that around 67% of carousel bubbles appear from websites in the two to ten ranking spots. The last 33% come from non-raking sites. If you missed out initially, the carousel gives you another chance to take some snippet-based real estate.
You increase your carousel viability by ensuring you’re covering your topics comprehensively.
Double Featured Snippet
Google might seem like some omnipotent, ubiquitous, big-brother-type entity. Yet, it’s not all-knowing. It has flaws and can’t always decipher intent and meaning, as seen in how it responds to some search queries.
That said, as proven by the double-Featured Snippet, Google covers its bases, even when it’s not 100% sure about the information a user seeks.
In short, Google displays two Featured Snippets instead of one when the user’s intent is a bit murky. While “unclear intent” can have many meanings, instances include when keywords have multiple interpretations, contexts, and definitions.
Here are a couple of points to keep in mind with double-Featured Snippets:
- They increase your chance of being featured by 100%.
- Spots three through ten experience exponentially reduced click-through rates due to these double-Featured Snippets.
Two For One
The two-for-one snippet might sound similar to a double-Featured Snippet, but they couldn’t be any different.
Two-for-ones occur when Google cites two websites to answer one question. For instance, they’ll take an image from one company’s YouTube video and text from a different brand’s website.
Most queries calling for a two-for-one snippet require answers best conveyed with images.
Do you ever notice a “people also ask” tab popping up when you make a search query?
This feature is very similar to the accordion snippet.
Such a snippet applies to queries involving topics that require more information, and the answer can’t be offered in a paragraph or table.
Accordion Featured Snippets include multiple collapsible tabs.
How To Identify Content With Featured Snippet Potential
If you were starring in a rom-com, Google would be your love interest. You’re courting them in hopes of them featuring your content in one of their highly coveted snippets.
Unfortunately, sending Google a bouquet of flowers won’t work (believe us, we’ve tried!) Even a candlelit dinner will get you nowhere.
Instead, Google seeks specific qualities within the content it intends to feature. Most crucially, the content itself must be of a high quality. The preeminent search engine in the world has a reputation to uphold. It puts the user experience first on its priority list.
Thus, anything less than excellent won’t pass the Google Featured Snippet test.
An appealing, relevant long tail keyword is the other facet of ticking Google’s Featured Snippet box.
Help your cause by discovering a tantalizing long-tail keyword (pertinent to your brand). Then, make your bid for that Featured Snippet-based real estate.
That said, creating high-quality content is a tall order. Attracting Google requires many optimization efforts, which we’ll detail below:
Optimizing Your Content For Featured Snippets
Do you want to get Google’s attention so they’ll feature your content in snippets? If so, the optimization efforts below will prove integral to your cause.
Write Headers As Questions And With Relevant Terms
Questions are Featured Snippet fodder.
After all, Google most often generates these snippets in response to a question instead of more generalized searches.
It’s always wise to ask, “Can I turn this header into a question?”
You don’t necessarily want to force it–the questions must be relevant.
However, let’s say you’re writing something like “The benefits of winter boots.” That can easily be, “What are the benefits of winter boots?” Or “What benefits should I look for in winter boots?”
What would a “forced version” of the above practice look like?
Maybe something like, “Who wants benefits from winter boots?”
While we appreciate the effort and trying to find ways to shape the header into a question, nobody’s going to ask Google such a thing.
Do your best to put yourself in your target customer’s head. What kind of questions would they ask Google about your content’s topic matter?
Remember, too, that Google seeks relevant questions incorporating equally relevant terms.
Type in half a query, and you’ll quickly notice the box below completes that very query with its own predictions. Use that to your advantage to learn the types of questions being asked.
Here’s a list of relevant questions with relevant terms (we’ll stick with the winter boot example):
- Why are winter boots so expensive?
- Can winter boots be used for hiking?
- Do winter boots stretch?
- Are winter boots waterproof?
- How do I wash my winter boots?
- Will winter boots keep you warm?
- When are winter boots necessary?
Other question words include is, which, who, should, where, and does. These will apply to specific terms in your content but not necessarily to our winter boots example.
Implement Paid Tools Into Your Content Workflow
The term “winter boots” used above has its limitations–as do other generic names for products.
“Winter boot” isn’t useless as a keyword by any means, but it’s evergreen and generalized on its own. A more versatile approach is needed to determine more relevant terms to help you reach a more lucrative audience.
More to the point, only specific types of keywords rank for Featured Snippets, and other words don’t rank at all.
Paid tools like SEMrush and Ahrefs provide much of the information required to guide your process. They provide a snapshot of which keywords rank for snippets and which don’t (when another site ranks for it).
Even if budget is an issue, we suggest investing in paid tools. The return typically vastly exceeds the upfront costs.
In fact, these free tools can provide insights into pain points you’ve never considered, going beyond offering keyword information.
Getting to the Point
A paragraph snippet is generally your go-to and what you should often aim for.
Help your cause (and your click-through rate) by providing immediate answers. Don’t beat around the bush–get to the point because it gives the reader/user what they want.
Once you give your target user the goods (a direct answer), you can sprinkle in other details to further engage the searcher, inspiring them to click through.
Note that Featured Snippets only show limited lines of text or tables (54 to 58 words).
Facts and Data Sets
Facts and data sets apply to list-based snippets.
Imagine you ask, “Should I wear running shoes or winter boots?” In this instance, you have a comparison on your hands. You can then ask about weather, terrain, temperature, environment, etc.
The information above can end up on a table.
You could also ask, “What are the different types of footwear?” In this case, you’ll likely get a list or table offering another data set.
Make life easier for Google’s web crawlers by formatting your page with basic HTML tags.
Questions and bullet points require <h2> and <H3> tags. <p> applies to paragraph tags for the text. List items include <ol> or <ul> and <li>.
Lists don’t necessarily have to be ordered, although it won’t hurt if they are.
Content generated in table snippets tends to be snackable, ordered lists.
What do we mean by snackable? We mean easily digestible content that quickly and effectively conveys an idea.
Consider ways to take your current information and repurpose it into snackable lists. That could mean taking non-listicle content you’ve already written and re-writing it as a separate blog–for instance–and turning it into a listicle.
Relevant pictures generate the best results when they’re photos or illustrations. However, infographics or diagrams will suffice if you don’t have the former.
Image Attributes and Entities.
Ensure your images have these attributes and entities:
- Alt tags:
- This written copy appears instead of a webpage image when that image doesn’t load on a screen.
- Title names:
- This is your image’s name. It tells users and Google what the image is (much like alt tags).
- File names:
- Implementing the file name of your image gives Google something else to crawl.
- File formats:
- Knowing the type of image format offers further help when Google indexes your items.
Structured data can be found on around two-thirds of articles containing Featured Snippets.
Search results and structured data go hand in hand.
Structuring data is a concise way to provide information, giving users what they want in seconds. Then, they’ll be enticed to engage with your website–known as rich results.
The optimization tips provided above will give you a significant leg up in appearing in a Featured Snippet.
However, we can’t make any promises. Turning up in a Featured Snippet comes down to various, ever-evolving factors as well as Google’s always-changing algorithms.
What Are Some Featured Snippet Best Practices?
Below, we’ll highlight some best practices to help increase the likelihood of your content appearing in a Featured Snippet:
Do the Research
Dig into the nuances of your desired snippets.
Determine where Google is grabbing snippets from on featured web pages.
Ask, “What type of schema markup does the featured content have?”
It’s time to embrace your inner Sherlock Holmes, investigate these details, and use the information to foster success.
Discover Your Searchers’ Intent
Say your keyword is “Best DIY Christmas Decorations.” The results page will likely generate visual content (i.e., videos and images). Thus, your content must be visual to match your searcher’s intent.
In the above instance, people need images to help with an activity.
Conversely, someone asking for something specific and factual would have their intent matched by a paragraph snippet.
Matching your content with intent gets you ranked and featured in snippets.
Cut to the Chase
In snippets, Google provides short, concise information, especially for voice query results.
So, cut to the chase and get to the point, eliminating needless words in the content you wish to be featured in snippets.
Incorporate a TL;DR Summary
Your most popular pages should have a “too long, didn’t read” summary at the end (or beginning), including the key takeaways. Prioritize information that yields the most conversions and audience engagement (based on your analytics).
This small effort can make a massive impact in ranking you for all manner of Featured Snippets.
Publish New Content (and Add Dates)
Google wants new, fresh content appearing as Featured Snippets. According to SEMrush, articles no more than two to three years old dominate Featured Snippets, as they’re featured 70% of the time.
Prioritize the user’s needs by adding the date to your content since most people want to ensure your information is current and relevant.
Here are the percentages for how frequently dates are displayed in Featured Snippet types:
- 47% of lists.
- 44% of paragraphs.
- 20% of videos.
- 9% of tables.
Commit to Site Structure Optimization
80% of the time, Featured Snippet content will belong to URLs/website links with a structure similar to the examples below:
We don’t necessarily mean there’s a causal relationship here. Having between one and three subfolders won’t necessarily increase the likelihood of having content featured in Google snippets.
Still, it’s worth noting that longer URLs don’t typically get featured, making one to three subfolders a nice, creamy middle.
Thriving in a Challenging SEO Landscape
The current landscape for small business owners and in-house marketers is daunting.
Many fear a recession, meaning customers will have tighter financial belts than usual. Maintaining robust profit margins will require a highly nuanced approach powered by profound marketing insights.
Leveraging SEO techniques–like harnessing the power of Featured Snippets–will prove invaluable in the coming months.
After all, getting more eyes on your brand is the best way to combat challenging economic times.
Stay ahead of the game by keeping up with the 2023 Local SEO trends that have caught the eyes of our search engine marketers mid-year—and finish the year out stronger than you started.
As generative AI transforms search engines and the threat of a downturn drags on, keeping up with the massive changes happening in SEO has never been more important.
Or more challenging, for that matter, since these days, news on Google latest algorithm tweaks and search features is breaking literally by the minute.
What we want to do here is get you up to speed on seven 2023 Local SEO trends and changes that we’ve got our eyes on and tell how you can leverage them to your advantage.
Our goal? To equip you with practical insights and proven strategies that will keep your business at the top of local search results.
If you’re new to local SEO, check out the refresher below—if not, skip straight to our first point.
- Capitalize on Consistent Customer Reviews
- Build Backlinks to Your GBP Landing Page
- Leverage Your Location (or Overcome its Drawbacks)
- Unleash the Potential of Dedicated Service Pages
- Make Quality Content and Internal Links Work
- Embrace On-page, Technical SEO, and Local Schema
- Get to Know Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE)
Background: Understanding Google’s Approach to Local Ranking
You know the saying, “location, location, location”?
When it comes to local SEO, Google takes this concept to heart—but with a bit of important nuance.
Beyond just physical proximity, Google’s local ranking revolves around three key factors:
You might be wondering what these terms mean and how they can help your business. So, let’s unravel these factors one by one, starting with the first element of Google’s local ranking trinity: Relevance.
1. Relevance is the Perfect Matchmaker
Relevance is all about how well your business matches a user’s search query.
When your business profile matches what someone is searching for, Google gives you a thumbs up.
By refining your business information, you’re telling Google: “Hey, we’re the perfect match for that search!” And Google loves a good match.
2. Distance is the Art of Being in the Right Place
Distance is how far your business is from the location specified in a user’s search.
If a user doesn’t specify a location, Google takes a Sherlock Holmes approach and calculates distance based on “what we do know about their location”, which could include search history.
This factor reminds us of the importance of maintaining an accurate NAP (Name, Address, Phone Number) across your website and Google Business Profile. Even the online mentions of your business’s NAP play a role.
Making these details readily available and consistent helps Google locate your business with pinpoint accuracy, giving you a greater chance of landing in front of the right audience.
3. Prominence is Standing Tall and Standing Out
Prominence is your business’s claim to fame. It’s about how well-known or reputable your business is, both online and offline.
This factor is influenced by elements like Google reviews, backlinks, articles, directories, and even your website’s authority.
If you’re a well-established brand or a business with glowing reviews, Google is likely to boost your prominence in local search.
But this doesn’t mean newer businesses can’t compete—a well-optimized website with quality content can earn prominence, too.
Don’t Fall For the One-Size-Fits-All Local Search Myth
We’d all love a local SEO cheat sheet. Wouldn’t it be great to have a list of every ranking factor and how much they each matter?
Unfortunately, Google doesn’t play like that. In 2023, local SEO remains a game of ongoing observation and adaptation.
Suppose you’re a local SEO expert working with a drive-through coffee shop. You might notice that Google heavily weighs a factor like “popular times” for the industry.
On the other hand, if you’re doing local SEO for a lawyer, you’ll probably find that “popular times” is totally irrelevant compared to something like link authority.
Even though such observations are helpful, they do not provide a universal rule. Every market and industry has its own local search algorithm quirks.
When we say that a specific element impacts rankings, it’s not a revelation from the sacred Google algorithm scroll. It’s based on experience and observation. It’s based on the data we and other reputable SEO professionals have collected through experimentation and testing.
There’s no universal recipe for SEO success. But once you grasp this concept, you can shift your strategy from being a one-size-fits-all to a custom-tailored local SEO approach.
So, take heart. Although we don’t have a definite formula for success, we do have the collective wisdom of experience, observation, and experimentation.
And below, we’ll discuss what we’re seeing as key important factors in local SEO in 2023.
Google My Business vs. Google Business Profile (Same Thing, Different Name)
As of November 2021, Google has officially transitioned from ’Google My Business’ (GMB) to ’Google Business Profile’ (GBP). It’s the same feature, just under a new name. To add to that, the back-end dashboard where you manage your profile is now known as ’Business Profile Manager.’
1. Capitalize on Consistent Customer Reviews
When it comes to optimizing your local SEO, one factor that often takes a backseat but holds immense potential is customer reviews.
In an era where E-E-A-T (Expertise, Authoritativeness, Experience, and Trustworthiness) rules, high-quality reviews can set you apart from the competition. Here’s why a steady stream of customer reviews should be your top priority.
Local Business Reviews are a Trust-Building Exercise
Google isn’t just about algorithms and bots. Above all, it’s about creating a trustworthy and reliable user experience.
And that’s where consistent reviews come into play.
A sudden rush of positive reviews can seem suspicious, like an attempt to game the system. But a steady flow of reviews over a long period? This tells Google, and your potential customers, that your business reliably provides excellent experiences over time.
That you aren’t just a flash in the pan. That you’re here to stay.
But the consistency of local reviews isn’t the only factor to consider when discussing 2023 local SEO trends. There’s also review velocity, diversity, and quality.
- Review velocity is the rate that your business gains new reviews over time. A high review velocity signals to search engines that your business is actively engaging with customers, continually fostering dialogue and feedback. Google loves this engagement. It’s a signal that your business is alive, kicking, and deeply involved with its audience. It’s an indication of freshness and activity that can significantly boost your local SEO rankings.
- Review diversity is not only about a diversity of opinions, but also diversity of sources. Google and other search engines consider reviews from various different sources, like Yelp, TripAdvisor, Facebook, as a sign of credibility. They reward businesses with positive reviews from a wide range of review sources with higher rankings. This diversity, coupled with consistency, amplifies your reputation and credibility, both online and offline.
- Review quality is just what it sounds like. While consistent reviews are key, the sentiment and quality of these reviews matter too. After all, your goal is to provide an excellent experience and build trust. Encourage your customers to share honest, detailed feedback about their experiences. Remember, every review is a story about your business. The richer the story, the more it adds to your E-E-A-T score and your overall SEO efforts.
Customer reviews are more than just ratings; they’re the testament of your customer’s journey with your business. And in the grand scheme of local SEO, they’re increasingly important.
Adopt strategies that drive consistent, quality reviews. Embrace the power of organic growth, trust-building, and the delight of a satisfied customer.
What Else is New in Local Business Reviews that Impacts 2023 Local SEO Trends?
We couldn’t let you go without mentioning a couple of key recent developments in the world of online reviews that you should pay attention to.
FTC Crackdown on Fake Reviews
In a significant step towards ensuring authenticity and credibility, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) is proposing to ban fake reviews. The new rule, if accepted, could see businesses facing fines up to $50,000 each time a customer encounters a counterfeit review.
It’s not just about penalizing businesses that use fake reviews, but also the brokers that produce them.
The proposal extends to prohibit “insider” reviews and testimonials, mandating that any review or endorsement from a company’s managers, employees, or their relatives must have proper disclosure.
This move underscores the importance of fostering a culture of genuine and ethical reviews, which can enhance your E-E-A-T score and positively impact local SEO.
Google’s AI-Based Review Filter
Google has made significant strides in making sure Google Business Profile reviews are the real deal. Part of this effort involves a new AI-based filter on Google reviews meant to weed out the fakes and the spammers.
However, this move has led to instances of genuine Google reviews disappearing. In response, Google has had to set up a dedicated process businesses can use to report missing reviews.
The real estate, home services, and construction sectors appear to be the most affected. Place-based businesses, like car dealerships, brick-and-mortar establishments, or restaurants, are reporting fewer issues.
This difference could be attributed to Google’s ability to verify “store visits”, thereby increasing trust in reviews left by consumers who have visited the location before leaving a review.
Google’s Stand Against Malicious Schemes
Finally, underscoring its commitment to real reviews, Google has taken legal action against a company allegedly creating fake Google Business Profiles and counterfeit reviews. The lawsuit indicates Google’s resolve to safeguard its platform from misuse, promising a more genuine and reliable environment for businesses and customers.
The landscape of customer reviews and local search is constantly evolving. Staying informed about these developments can help businesses navigate this space effectively, ensuring their practices align with regulatory standards and technological advancements.
2. Build Backlinks to Your GBP Landing Page
Your GBP landing page isn’t just about linking back to your homepage. It’s a matter of focusing on the specific URLs that could most impact your local rankings.
What that is depends on your business. Maybe it’s a city-specific service page, or a dedicated city page for each GBP location if you’re a multi-location business.
One way to determine which page you should link to from GPB is to look at Google Search Console (GSC). GSC allows you to pinpoint which pages are attracting traffic for your key search terms, helping you select the perfect candidate for your GBP landing page.
A great point highlighted in the article by Sterling Sky above is to make sure that your chosen keyword triggers a map pack in search results.
And remember, don’t overlook the importance of using UTMs to track your GBP traffic by location. This simple step enables you to compare GBP vs. organic data in GSC, adding another layer to your SEO insights.
Optimizing Your GBP Landing Page with Quality Backlinks
So, you’ve identified the ideal GBP landing page. Now it’s time for optimization, and that’s where backlinks come into play.
Backlinks act as a thumbs-up to your website, increasing your visibility and ranking on search engine results pages (SERPs). They offer a triple threat in terms of boosting local SEO:
- Local Authority: Backlinks from local websites and directories lend your business authority, painting a picture of trustworthiness for search engines.
- Local Citations: Backlinks from local directories act as citations, providing consistent information about your business and solidifying your business’s legitimacy.
- Local Relevance: Backlinks from local industry-related websites and blogs help to establish your relevance to your local audience.
Backlinks from local websites, blogs, and directories not only increase your authority but also showcase your relevance.
And when you add backlinks from review sites to the mix, you build an online reputation that signals quality and credibility to search engines.
3. Leverage Your Location (or Overcome its Drawbacks)
There’s another piece to the local SEO puzzle that’s bigger than ever, and that’s your physical location.
We get it. Setting up shop in the heart of the city isn’t as simple as snapping your fingers.
But understanding the strategic advantage of your location can be the game-changer in your local SEO journey.
In the context of local SEO, proximity isn’t merely about how close your business is to the searcher. It’s about your business’s closeness to the heart of the city you’re serving.
When a user searches for a service or product in a specific location, search engines prioritize businesses in or near that area. Your location’s relevance to the search query can dramatically influence your visibility.
Businesses near the city center enjoy a clear advantage in visibility. It’s simple – higher population density and foot traffic mean a larger volume of searches. The result? A greater chance of your business showing up in local search results.
Now, of course, this is a tough factor to control if you’re not located near city centers. Especially for businesses with multiple locations, the impact of location on local SEO can be a tough pill to swallow.
But here’s the silver lining: understanding this allows you to plan strategically and maximize your potential within your given parameters. While changing your location might not be an option, understanding its impact is your key to informed decision-making.
4. Unleash the Potential of Dedicated Service Pages
Remember when adding predefined services to your GBP seemed to have little impact on your local search rankings?
Those were the days. Fast forward to now, and the picture has dramatically changed.
But we recommend taking it a step further. Instead of just listing your services on your GBP, imagine creating a dedicated web page for each service.
Sounds like a lot of work, right? But consider the potential benefits.
Each page is an opportunity to showcase the unique aspects of a service, to paint a vivid picture that attracts and engages your audience. This level of detail can significantly improve your visibility for those specific services.
And there’s more. Optimized service pages can make your website a magnet for relevant keywords. This means higher ranking in search results and a better user experience for your visitors.
Your prospective customers land on a page that directly addresses their needs. No confusion, no navigation nightmare, just straight to the solution they’ve been looking for.
Suddenly, choosing your business becomes the logical next step.
Make Sure Your Service Pages Stand Out
But beware, there’s a fine line between a successful strategy and a SEO pitfall.
While it’s essential to have separate service pages, duplicating content across these pages is a no-go. Remember, each service is unique and deserves its own spotlight.
- Ensure your content is fresh and unique for each service.
- Describe its benefits, its features, and why it’s the perfect solution for your customers.
- Add relevant images, glowing testimonials, and anything else that makes your service stand out.
You must also make it a point to have your GBP landing pages reflect the breadth of your services. If a service isn’t mentioned on your site, Google’s going to have a hard time figuring out what you offer, and so will your potential customers.
By incorporating these services into your GBP landing page, you’re increasing your chances of being recognized in Google’s “website mentions” justifications. Below is the map pack result for the search query ‘buy kids bike’—note the bold text in the top two local results.
With each unique service page, tailored to the local area, you not only boost your SEO efforts but also become a more attractive choice for your customers.
5. Make Quality Content and Internal Links Work
This point follows directly from the previous one about individual service pages, and it comes in two interrelated parts: content and internal linking.
In the journey to harness 2023’s local SEO trends, your greatest ally is high-quality content. But it’s easy to fall into the trap of churning out countless pages, each one basically copying the other.
This is a pitfall you need to avoid, because Google really doesn’t take kindly to duplicate content. Our topline tips to avoid this trap are as follows:
- Focus on creating unique, valuable content for each of your product or service pages, with an emphasis on geographical relevance. Catering to your local audience is crucial.
- Paint a vivid picture of your services, and how they address the unique needs of your local clientele. Remember, you’re not just offering a product or service. You’re providing solutions that make life better. Show them how!
- Punctuate your words with relevant, original images as well. Recognizable local landmarks are a great start, but what you really want is your people and product on the backdrop of those landmarks.
Use Internal Links to Make Your Site a Roadmap
In the realm of local SEO, internal linking is like a GPS system guiding your visitors through your website.
Imagine your visitor, lost in a sea of content, unsure where to go next. The lack of clear directions leaves them frustrated.
So, how do you alleviate this? By implementing a robust internal linking structure.
Directing users to related content or services on your site enhances the user experience. It encourages them to spend more time exploring, increasing the likelihood of conversions.
Understanding and implementing high-quality content and effective internal linking is your solution to a user-friendly, Google-approved site. By addressing these key elements, you’re not only enhancing your local SEO but also providing an enjoyable user experience.
Now, it’s your turn to put these insights into action. Start by auditing your content and internal linking structure. Identify areas for improvement and make the necessary adjustments. This might be a daunting task, but remember, every step you take brings you closer to your goal of a highly optimized, user-friendly website that rules the local SEO landscape.
6. Embrace On-page, Technical SEO, and Local Schema
You’ve got a handle on the 2023 local SEO trends we’ve noticed in reviews, content, and GBP pages.
But if you stop there, you’re missing out.
Enter the world of on-page and technical SEO, with a special focus on local schema—increasingly becoming the path to truly standing out in local search, and to skyrocketing conversions.
Think of on-page and technical SEO as the foundation and the bricks of your online presence. On-page SEO involves optimizing each page of your website to rank higher and earn relevant traffic. Keywords, meta tags, URL structure, and content quality all play a part here.
Technical SEO, on the other hand, focuses on the backend—website speed, XML sitemaps, website security, mobile-friendliness, and so on. These elements might not be immediately visible, but they make a significant difference to your website’s performance and its appeal to search engines.
Each step you take towards optimizing your on-page and technical SEO is a step towards creating a powerful, search-engine friendly website that stands firm amidst the changes in algorithms and trends.
Speak Google’s Language with Local Schema
Imagine having a direct line of communication with Google’s algorithm, telling it exactly what your business is about.
This is basically what local schema can do.
By adding LocalBusiness Schema Markup to your website, you’re not just speaking Google’s language, you’re shouting out loud in it. But not in a rude way. Sanctioned shouting.
What is LocalBusiness schema? It’s a type of markup within the schema.org vocabulary, used to categorize and provide detailed information about local businesses. It translates your content into machine-readable language, or JSON-LD, making it easier for Google to understand and index your site.
Why is this important? Because it makes you eligible for rich results—those eye-catching search results that provide additional information and visuals right in the SERPs.
And the benefits don’t stop there. Rich results attract higher click-through rates, which leads to increased organic traffic, which in turn leads to more conversions.
Google provides documentation on how to add LocalBusiness markup to your website. It may feel like speaking a foreign language at first, but the reward is the opportunity to directly influence how your business appears in search results.
We’ve also heard word of SEOs using ChatGPT to write schema, which could prove a powerful time-saver. We’re sticking with relying on our experts for now, but there’s potential there.
7. Get to Know Google’s Search Generative Experience (SGE)
This year, Google introduced the Search Generative Experience (SGE), which represents the single most dramatic evolution of the SERP in decades.
And yes, it’s as daunting as it sounds. But let’s break it down.
What we have now are largely observations and conjecture, but these early insights are crucial. Google’s SGE aims to integrate AI into the search results, a significant leap in our SEO journey. Currently, it’s being tested in Google’s Search Labs.
While elements of the SGE Pack and Classic Local Pack overlap, there isn’t a 100% match, indicating a broader net being cast by the SGE. It’s also a clear indication just how much AI will impact local SEO going forward.
As with any new frontier, SGE comes with its share of uncertainty and anticipation. It’s a brave new world, and the rules are still being written. But the promise it holds is too significant to ignore.
The takeaway here is simple: keep SGE on your radar. The year is only halfway through, but AI is already having a huge impact on 2023’s local SEO trends. Embrace the challenge it presents, observe its impact, and adapt your strategies accordingly.
Remember, in this game of digital visibility, the ones who adapt are the ones who thrive. It’s your playing field. Now go forth, explore, and conquer.
Keep an Eye on These 2023 Local SEO Trends
In the ever-evolving landscape of local SEO, keeping up with the shifts and nuances can seem overwhelming.
There’s a lot to take in. But remember, you’re not alone in this journey.
Our agency is here to alleviate that pressure, to help you decode the complexities, and to guide you through this challenging landscape. Reach out to us today and we’ll help pave the way for the successes of tomorrow.
As organic reach continues to decline, it’s becoming more difficult to connect with your target audience and achieve desired results without investing in paid social media advertising.
In other words, it’s getting tougher to get your message out there without shelling out some cash for ads.
You might even be asking, “What’s even the point of posting on my Page anymore?”
At TrafficSoda, we’re here to help you navigate this new reality and make the most of your social media marketing efforts, organic and paid. So, let’s roll up our sleeves and dive into the tips and insights that’ll help your brand stay strong in this social media jungle.
- The Rise and Fall of Organic Reach on Facebook, Instagram & More
- Why Exactly is Organic Reach Declining?
- TikTok: A Temporary Exception?
- How Small to Mid-Size Businesses Can Adapt to Declining Organic Reach
- The Necessity of Paid Promotion for Social Media Visibility
- Boosting Posts with a Purpose
- Finding Your Brand’s Optimal Posting Frequency
- Is Organic Social Still Relevent?
- Social Media is a Search Engine
- Your Customers Are Commenting
- Social Media Benefits SEO
- Social Media is Social Proof
The Rise and Fall of Organic Reach on Facebook, Instagram & More
Organic reach refers to the number of unique individuals who catch a glimpse of your posts on social platforms like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, or LinkedIn.
Reach is different from impressions, which count the total number of times your content is viewed, including multiple views by the same person. Organic reach only counts unique views.
Organic reach is one of those content KPIs that really matter when you’re trying to measure how well you’re really reaching your target audience. Reach affects all of your other engagement-related data such as likes, clicks, and follows — because if you want people to engage with your content, you have to reach them first.
Despite its importance, reach is a moving target.
For one, reach data has always been, at best, an estimate, because a post showing up on someone’s social media feed doesn’t guarantee they’ve seen it.
Plus, most major social media platforms use an algorithm to determine what shows up on any given user’s feed — and aren’t fully transparent about how, exactly, those algorithms work.
Above: Facebook’s official explanation of their ranking system. Not exactly an open book.
What we do have is historical data showing that, as early as 2013, organic reach has been dropping for businesses.
Back in 2017, researchers found that Facebook Page engagements dropped 20%, and by early 2018, more than half of marketers noticed their page’s organic reach going down the drain.
These days, the average organic reach for a post on a Facebook Page is about 5.20%. So, roughly one in every 19 fans will see your non-promoted content
For businesses that use Facebook as their go-to social platform, this decline in organic reach is alarming, because it means your posts aren’t showing up in your followers’ feeds as much as they used to.
But Why Exactly is Organic Reach Declining?
Simple: Platforms are constantly tinkering with their algorithms to try to increase user satisfaction and ROI.
For Facebook, that has meant making sure users see more posts from their friends and family, and less from people trying to sell them stuff (unless, of course, you’re paying Facebook to advertise!)
Over on Twitter, it means boosting paid subscribers and “suggested” Tweets.
Every platform is different, but the bottom line is essentially the same.
Social media platforms are just businesses, and their customers are advertisers. They’re all about making users happy, because that’s what keeps people logging in, which keeps advertisers happy.
In theory, that should help businesses, too — because if people are interacting with the content in their feed, they’ll be more likely to engage with posts from businesses too.
But it also means that, as a business, you will have a hard time getting your posts into their feeds in the first place.
TikTok as a Temporary Exception
In the ever-evolving world of social media, TikTok stands out as a temporary exception to the trend of declining organic reach.
The average organic reach for brands on TikTok is a staggering 118%, compared to Facebook’s 5.2%.
By investing your time in creating engaging content for your TikTok account, you can achieve decent brand exposure and visibility, even with a relatively small following.
But there’s a catch: recent bans of TikTok on U.S. government-owned devices, coupled with new legislation in Congress seeking to block the app, have fueled expectations that the popular Chinese-owned platform could soon face a nationwide ban.
The exact implementation of such a ban remains unclear, but if history is any guide, a prohibition is unlikely to take effect anytime soon. TikTok is likely to challenge any attempt to ban the app, as it was ultimately successful in quashing Trump’s effort to ban the app, but the uncertainty surrounding the future of the platform makes it a risky investment.
We recommend investing in TikTok only for short-term campaigns at this point, but avoiding hinging too much of your social media marketing funnel on it.
In the meantime, keep an eye on the situation and adapt your strategies accordingly, all while maintaining a candid, genuine, and occasionally funny approach that resonates with your audience.
How Small to Mid-Size Businesses Can Adapt to Declining Organic Reach
As organic reach keeps shrinking, it’s getting harder to have your content seen by your target audience.
That means fewer likes, comments, and shares — and yeah, that’s a bummer for visibility. Especially if you’ve put in a ton of time and effort crafting awesome content for social media, only to have it reach fewer people.
The truth is, the decline in organic reach isn’t merely a rough patch – it’s a deliberate design that shows no signs of reversing.
Sure, organic posts give your page a pulse, but expecting significant reach, likes, or follows without investing in paid promotion is nigh impossible.
As marketers, we all have to face the reality and adjust their expectations accordingly.
- Want more eyeballs on your content? Pay for views via boosted posts and celebrate the reach.
- Looking for clicks to your website? That’s a separate goal requiring a different paid campaign.
- The same goes for form fills, page likes, and any other objectives. You won’t get meaningful results from organic posting alone.
Yes, social channels remain an excellent arena for businesses to engage with customers and prospects—and it’s crucial to maintain a presence on these platforms to receive and respond to user communications. However, the era of free, widespread distribution of your content on platforms like Facebook and Instagram is long gone (with TikTok being a temporary exception while it remains in the “honeymoon” phase.)
The outdated “post-it and they will come” approach is no longer effective unless you’re willing to pay for your content to be seen.
a) The Necessity of Paid Promotion for Social Media Visibility
To make the most of your social media efforts, invest in paid social media with clearly defined goals and measurable outcomes. This strategy will not only save you time but also save you from having to bombard your followers with “free” organic posts that yield little to no results.
Unlike disruptive display ads, pop-ups, and video commercials, social media ads are crafted to integrate seamlessly with the platform, often resembling organic posts. The ads are quick to launch and start getting attention right away, so you can see results just as quickly.
While it may seem easy to set up, using social media ads effectively takes a strategic approach. Don’t let the complexity of this task hold you back from reaching your desired audience and generating leads. Partner with our expert agency and take your social media campaigns to the next level.
b) Boosting Posts with a Purpose
If you want to gets started with social media ads right away, boosted posts are the fastest way to do it.
A boosted post is a post from your Page’s timeline that you can promote in order to reach a wider audience. It lets you quickly transform an existing, organic piece of content into a paid ad, extending your reach beyond your current audience.
Once it’s done, you can manage and see results for boosted posts in Ads Manager just like other ads. You shouldn’t think of them as a separate thing—boosted posts are really just ads that you make from your Page instead of the advertising tool.
With that in mind, you’ll want to put the same forethought behind boosted posts as you do other social media ads. Don’t put money behind a post just because Facebook suggests it! Facebook just wants you to boost as many posts as possible. Stick to your strategy.
To make the most of your advertising budget, you need to boost posts strategically as part of a broader social media strategy. Our team of experts can help you develop a social media strategy that ensures that every boost counts towards your overall goals.
c) Finding Your Brand’s Optimal Posting Frequency
While posting at a specific time of day isn’t as important as it used to be (because social media feeds rarely operate chronologically), how often you post can have an impact. And as organic reach continues to drop, every bit counts.
One study found that 74% of consumers believe that the ideal posting frequency for brands is 1-2 times per day. However, each platform’s algorithm is different, so more frequent posting might not necessarily be detrimental.
The key to striking the right balance is to focus on creating high-quality content that supports your overall social media marketing strategy. Instead of overwhelming your audience with a large volume of low-quality posts, invest in crafting engaging and relevant content that resonates with your target audience.
Is Organic Social Still Relevant?
In light of declining reach, organic social media isn’t entirely dead–but it plays a different role now.
Here’s the truth: even with the decline in reach, maintaining organic social media posting still makes sense for many businesses.
- Social media is not only a billboard, but also a search engine, with 82% of consumers preferring searching on social media over Google.
- Being active on social media and responding to customers and potential clients builds relationships, fosters trust and loyalty, and generates more leads, sales, and revenue.
- Embracing social media can greatly enhance your SEO efforts by making a brand more visible in search results and dominating branded keywords.
- Social media comments and reviews are a powerful form of social proof, with 54% of users researching products and brands on social media.
Let’s quickly delve into organic social’s new life in the post-reach world.
1. Social Media is a Search Engine
Social media is no longer just for posting pictures of your lunch or sharing memes; it’s become a search engine for millions of consumers looking for products and services like yours.
In fact, an online survey recently found that 82% of consumers prefer social media for searching over traditional search engines. Of those, 55% cite Instagram as their top platform for social media searches, followed by YouTube (54%), Facebook (51%), and Twitter (44%).
Even TikTok, while ranking last in popularity as a search engine (42%), is attracting a core user base of young, affluent consumers (so if that’s your target audience, you should be there!)
When people search for your business on social media, they want to see an active and vibrant presence. Think of your social media profile like a storefront — if it looks neglected and uninviting, potential customers will just keep walking. Having a dead social profile is like papering over your store window.
So, keep your social media up-to-date and alive with organic posts to show customers that your business is alive and kicking! Otherwise, you’ll lose out on business from searchers who might otherwise give you a phone call.
2. Your Customers Are Calling (and DMing)
More and more customers prefer to communicate through social media rather than traditional channels like phone or email. If your business has a social media presence, customers will expect you to be reachable and responsive, and ignoring them could lead to negative consequences.
If you’re already swamped with leads and customers, social media may not be your top concern. However, if you want to attract more business, you don’t want to leave customers hanging on social media.
When you engage with your audience on social media by responding to their queries and feedback, you show them that you care about their opinion and are open to communication. This builds a sense of trust and loyalty, ultimately leading to more leads, sales, and revenue for your business.
So, it’s not just about being active on social media, but being responsive. That’s what builds meaningful connections, and connections turn strangers into customers.
3. Social Media Benefits SEO
When people search for your business on Google or other search engines, having a strong social media presence can make all the difference.
Social media profiles often appear right below your website in search results for branded keywords, giving you the chance to capture even more attention and dominate the first page.
Plus, with Google indexing tweets and other social media posts, your content can show up in search results for relevant queries, driving even more free traffic to your website.
Your social media profiles can also have an impact on local SEO. Google checks your social media accounts to confirm your business’s legitimacy through your name, address, and phone number. This information must be accurate, since Google examines all listings to verify that contact details are correct.
If the information is inconsistent, it may hurt your visibility in local searches, so keep your profiles up to date!
4. Social Media is Social Proof
Social proof is key in building trust with your audience, especially if you’re offering high-value products or services (and that includes all you B2B firms.)
In fact, a staggering 54% of social media users research products and brands on social platforms, highlighting the importance of showcasing your brand’s credibility through reviews, testimonials, statistics, and awards.
And it’s not just about what you offer. Many customers also want to know about your company’s values and practices — things like how you treat your employees and customers, your stance on social issues, and your contributions to your community can all impact their decision to do business with you.
Sharing posts about your community involvement, sustainable practices, and employee testimonials will help you build a compelling narrative.
Social media also offers an excellent platform for showcasing social proof through user-generated content, reviews, and testimonials. Sharing your customers’ positive experiences and tagging your business can amplify their positive feedback and foster a sense of community for your brand.
How to Bring Your Social Media Strategy Back to Life
Paid advertising allows you to reach your ideal audience at the right time, while organic social media remains relevant in fostering trust, loyalty, and stronger relationships with your audience.
It’s essential to strike a balance and get creative with your approach, making the most of every opportunity to engage your audience.
At TrafficSoda, we’re committed to helping you navigate these changes and maximize the potential of your social media marketing efforts. If you’re looking for expert guidance on how to make your brand stand out in this social media jungle, don’t hesitate to reach out to us. Together, we can create a winning social media strategy that drives results.
Dive into the ways that awareness advertising can recession-proof your sales funnel and get insights on how to use it effectively.
A recession may seem like the time to cut back on advertising, but it’s actually the perfect opportunity to increase your visibility and come out even stronger.
In fact, study after study has shown that cutting back on advertising during a recession actually hurts your brand, sales funnel and bottom line in the long run.
If you want to stay top-of-mind during a recession, you can’t afford to go dark. Brands that cut back on their ad spend during a recession put themselves at risk of losing customers and market share, as the data clearly shows.
- McGraw-Hill Research looked at 600 companies from 1980 to 1985 and showed that those that maintained or increased their advertising spend during the 1981 recession had sales that were 256% higher than those that didn’t by 1985.
- In 2008, Millward Brown shared evidence that 60% of the brands that went ‘dark’ during an economic downturn saw a significant decrease in brand use and brand image.
- More recently, Kantar Group estimates that brands who went dark to save costs in the early part of 2020 will see a 39% reduction in brand awareness and delay recovery.
If you want to ride out a recession and emerge on top, you can’t afford to skip awareness advertising — a type of advertising designed to make a brand or product more familiar to consumers at the top of the sales and marketing funnel.
Don’t let a recession make your brand fade into the background. Keep reading to learn the benefits of awareness advertising during a recession, along with tips and best practices for adapting your marketing strategy to tough economic times.
- Historical data shows that advertising during a recession can give businesses a competitive edge and lead to success when the economy rebounds.
- During a recession, sales cycles become longer, and awareness advertising can help businesses connect with potential customers earlier in the buying process, create a larger pool of prospects, and increase brand recognition and reputation to build trust and loyalty.
- By understanding your target audience, telling stories that connect, and being authentic and transparent, you can create campaigns that resonate with your audience, build trust, and help your business succeed in difficult economic times.
Why Awareness Advertising is Key to the Recession-Proof Sales Funnel
During tough economic times, sales cycles tend to become longer as customers become more careful in deciding what and when to buy.
Your customers spend more time in the consideration phase, conducting more research, comparing products more closely, and taking longer to decide on a purchase during an economic downturn.
In other words, the sprint becomes a marathon — and your business has to keep prospects engaged and interested throughout the process.
But in some ways, a longer sales cycle is a blessing in disguise. It gives you more opportunities to connect with customers and demonstrate the value of your product or service.
One of the best ways to keep a longer funnel flowing during a recession (without increasing ad spend) is to reallocate more budget to awareness advertising aimed at the top of the funnel (TOFU).
Awareness advertising is designed to create a lasting impression that keeps your brand, products or services front and center. These ads are typically aimed at a broader audience to attract potential customers who may not yet be familiar with your brand.
By casting a wider net and reaching more people earlier in the sales cycle, you can create a larger pool of prospects to warm up and convert into customers over time. Awareness ads help you connect with potential customers earlier in the buying process so that, once those prospects are ready to make a purchase decision, they are more likely to turn to your brand over others since you have already established a relationship with them.
In addition, awareness advertising can help businesses to build brand recognition and reputation, increasing consumer trust and loyalty.
By allocating more of your advertising towards TOFU awareness-based campaigns, you lay the groundwork for a more effective sales funnel that helps warm prospects and close more sales — even in the midst of a recession or other economic challenges.
Awareness Advertising vs. Other Types of Advertising
The primary objective of awareness advertising is to enhance brand recognition and promote customer engagement, in contrast to direct response advertising, product advertising, and promotional advertising, which serve different goals.
- Direct response advertising: Direct response advertising is designed to elicit a specific response from the consumer, such as making a purchase, filling out a form, or calling a phone number. Unlike awareness advertising, which is focused on building brand recognition, direct response advertising is intended to drive immediate sales or leads.
- Product advertising: Product advertising is focused on promoting a specific product or service. While awareness advertising can be used to support a particular product or service, its primary goal is to build brand recognition and customer engagement. Product advertising, on the other hand, is designed to showcase the benefits and features of a particular product or service to potential customers.
- Promotional advertising: Promotional advertising is focused on promoting a specific deal or offer, such as a discount or free trial. While awareness advertising can be used to support promotional advertising, its primary goal is to build long-term brand recognition and customer engagement.
In general, awareness advertising is most effective when used in conjunction with other types of advertising. By building strong brand recognition and customer engagement, businesses can position themselves for long-term success and increase their chances of success with other types of advertising.
Does It Work? Case Studies on Advertising During a Recession Say Yes
The numbers don’t lie – history shows that advertising during a recession can be a game-changer for businesses looking to gain a competitive edge.
In fact, some of the most successful companies in history have continued to advertise during tough economic times and emerged even stronger once the recession ended.
Take the recent public health crisis. When COVID-19 forced people to stop traveling, VRBO and Airbnb responded in very different ways. While Airbnb scaled back its advertising, VRBO saw an opening and increased its spending to $90.8 million in advertising from January to February 2021. The strategy paid off, with VRBO seeing a 61% recovery in bookings while Airbnb’s bookings dipped by 15%.
In a sea of struggling travel businesses, VRBO found a way to come out on top – by investing in advertising when others held back.
Another well-known example comes from the recession of 1990, in the responses of three fast food giants: McDonald’s, Pizza Hut, and Taco Bell. When times were tough, McDonald’s cut its advertising budget, while the smaller competitors Pizza Hut and Taco Bell strengthened theirs. As a result:
- Pizza Hut increased sales by 61%.
- Taco Bell increased sales by 40%.
- McDonald’s sales decreased by 28%.
Want to grab a bigger slice of the market during a recession? Follow Pizza Hut and Taco Bell’s lead and ramp up your advertising efforts, while the competition holds back.
Then there’s Amazon. Even during the Great Recession, Amazon continued to innovate with new products despite the slumping economy, most notably with the new Kindle products – supported by millions spent on advertising. When the rest of the economy hit its nadir, Amazon’s sales rose by 28%.
When the going gets tough, the tough get innovative. Amazon proved this during the Great Recession by continuing to invest in new products and advertising, and reaping the rewards with a surge in sales.
These are just a few of the countless examples demonstrating that companies that invest in advertising during a recession can come out ahead when the economy rebounds.
By keeping their brand top-of-mind for consumers and continuing to offer value and promotions, these companies were able to maintain or increase their market share and build customer loyalty.
Awareness advertising during a recession can pay off in spades, as the historical data demonstrates.
Benefits of Awareness Advertising During a Recession
When times get tough, businesses need to get creative to maintain or grow their market share. That’s where awareness advertising comes in.
Here are a few reasons why awareness advertising can be a powerful tool for businesses during a recession:
- It strengthens brand recognition: Awareness advertising can help businesses build strong brand recognition, keeping them top-of-mind throughout a longer sales cycle so that customers remember the brand when they’re finally ready to buy.
- It increases customer engagement: By communicating with customers through advertising, businesses can create a stronger connection with customers, showing them that they are still here, still providing value, and still committed to serving their needs.
- It leverages lower competition: When other businesses are tightening their belts and cutting back on their advertising spend, there is a unique opportunity for companies to take advantage of awareness advertising and gain an edge over their competitors.
By building brand recognition, increasing customer engagement, and positioning for long-term success, businesses can emerge from a recession as stronger players in their respective industries.
1. Strengthen Brand Recognition
One of the most important benefits of awareness advertising during a recession is its ability to build and strengthen brand recognition.
During tough economic times, many consumers cut back on their spending, making it more challenging for businesses to compete.
However, by keeping their brand top-of-mind through awareness advertising, businesses can increase their chances of being chosen over their competitors when consumers do decide to make a purchase.
In addition to helping businesses stand out in a crowded marketplace, building brand recognition through awareness advertising can also lead to increased customer loyalty.
When consumers have a positive association with a brand, they are more likely to choose that brand over others, even when there are cheaper or more convenient options available. In a crowded market, positive brand associations are worth their weight in gold.
As well as building brand recognition, awareness advertising can help businesses establish themselves as thought leaders. Awareness ads provide businesses with the chance to show customers that they are knowledgeable and experienced in their fields. It’s not enough to be good at what you do – you also need to show it. By doing so, your business can build trust and authority which pays off in the long run.
The ability to keep your brand at the top of people’s minds and establish yourself as an industry leader will provide your business with a position to emerge from a recession as a strong player.
2. Increase Customer Engagement
In a time of financial uncertainty, customers need more than just a sales pitch.
Many consumers feel nervous about their finances during a recession, so they’re more cautious about their spending. In this environment, it’s important for businesses to find ways to engage with their customers and demonstrate the value they can provide. This is where awareness advertising comes in.
By sharing stories and experiences that resonate with their target audience, businesses can create a sense of community and belonging that can keep customers coming back. For example, a restaurant might use awareness advertising to showcase its commitment to using locally sourced ingredients, or a clothing brand might use awareness advertising to highlight its commitment to sustainability.
Through awareness advertising, your business can show customers that you are still here, still providing value, and still dedicated to serving them, even in the toughest of times. In a world of faceless corporations, that kind of connection and authenticity makes a world of difference.
3. Leverage Lower Competition
As businesses cut back on their advertising and marketing spend during a recession, competition for customer attention goes down as well. This can be a valuable opportunity for you to take advantage of awareness advertising and gain a stronger foothold in your industry.
- With fewer businesses vying for ad space and airtime, advertising costs may be lower during a recession. This can be especially beneficial for small businesses that may be operating on a tighter budget — more bang for their buck.
- With less competition for ad space and airtime, businesses may be able to increase their ad exposure and get their message in front of more people. This can be especially valuable for businesses that are looking to build brand recognition and increase customer engagement.
- With lower advertising costs and increased ad exposure, businesses may be able to achieve a better return on investment (ROI) with their awareness advertising efforts during a recession.
By taking advantage of lower advertising costs, increased ad exposure, and improved ROI, your business can position itself for long-term success and emerge from a recession stronger.
Don’t wait for the storm to pass – make your move now. Use awareness advertising to seize the opportunities that a recession presents and come out on top, stronger and more successful than ever.
Strategies for Effective Awareness Advertising During a Recession
In a time of economic uncertainty, your advertising needs to work harder than ever.
So, how do you create an awareness advertising campaign that will stand out and make an impact during a recession?
- Know your audience better than anyone: To create an effective awareness advertising campaign, it’s essential to understand your target audience. Who are they? What are their needs and pain points? What motivates them to make a purchase? By understanding your target audience, you can create messaging and content that resonates with them and helps build a sense of familiarity and trust.
- Tell stories that connect on a deeper level: To create a strong connection with your target audience, it’s important to use storytelling and emotional appeals in your advertising campaigns. By sharing stories and experiences that resonate with your target audience, you can create a sense of community and belonging that can keep customers coming back.
- Be real and transparent: During a recession, it’s more important than ever to be authentic and transparent in your advertising campaigns. Be honest about the challenges that your business is facing, and communicate with your target audience in a way that shows that you care about their needs and are committed to serving them.
Use these tips to create campaigns that resonate with your audience, build trust, and help you weather the storm.
1. Know Your Audience Better than Anyone
When the economy is down, it’s imperative to understand how the spending behavior of your target audience may change. Harvard Business Review identifies four general segments that illustrate how consumers behaviour changes during a recession:
- The slam-on-the-brakes segment is the most vulnerable and suffers the greatest financial losses. These consumers reduce all types of spending by eliminating, postponing, decreasing, or substituting purchases. While lower-income consumers are usually part of this segment, higher-income consumers may also join it, particularly if their health or income deteriorates.
- Pained-but-patient consumers are resilient and optimistic about the long term, but less confident about the prospects for economic recovery in the short term. They economize in all areas, but less aggressively than slam-on-the-brakes consumers. This segment includes the majority of households unaffected by unemployment, representing a wide range of income levels. As the economic news worsens, more pained-but-patient consumers migrate to the slam-on-the-brakes segment.
- Comfortably well-off consumers feel confident about their ability to weather the economic storm. They spend at levels close to pre-recession, but tend to be more selective (and less conspicuous) about their purchases. This segment primarily consists of people in the top 5% income bracket, as well as those who feel secure about the stability of their finances. This group includes retirees, as well as investors who had low-risk investments.
- The live-for-today segment continues as usual and remains unconcerned about saving. These consumers respond to the recession mainly by delaying major purchases. They are typically urban and younger, more likely to rent than to own, and prefer spending on experiences rather than possessions (except for consumer electronics). They are unlikely to change their spending habits unless they become unemployed.
By understanding the impact of a recession on different consumer segments, businesses can create awareness advertising campaigns that resonate with their target audience and enhance brand recognition.
It’s also crucial to understand where your product or service falls on a scale from ‘essentials’ to ‘expendables’.
- Essentials are necessary for survival or seen as essential to well-being, and consumers are likely to continue buying these items even during tough economic times.
- Treats are indulgences that consumers may still splurge on occasionally, even if they cut back their spending in this category during a recession.
- Postponables are needed or desired items whose purchase can be delayed until the consumer’s financial situation improves.
- Expendables are perceived as unnecessary or unjustifiable, and consumers are likely to cut back their spending in this category during a recession, potentially eliminating these purchases altogether.
While basic levels of food, shelter, and clothing are essentials for all consumers, transportation and medical care are also often seen as essential. However, the assignment of specific goods and services to each category is unique to each consumer.
During a recession, consumers typically reevaluate their spending priorities. Products and services, such as dining out, travel, arts and entertainment, new clothing, automobiles, appliances, and consumer electronics, can quickly shift from essentials to treats, postponables, or expendables.
As consumer priorities change, they may eliminate purchases in some categories, such as household services, moving them from essentials to expendables. Consumers may also substitute purchases in one category for purchases in another, such as dining out (a treat) for cooking at home (an essential).
In a recession, consumers become more price-sensitive and less brand-loyal. They may seek out their favorite products and brands at reduced prices or settle for less-preferred alternatives. For instance, they may choose cheaper private-label products or switch from organic to non-organic foods.
2. Tell Stories that Connect on a Deeper Level
During a recession, businesses can build trust and emotional connections with their target audience by using storytelling and emotional appeals in their advertising campaigns.
Storytelling can create a sense of community, empathy and inspiration by weaving a narrative that resonates with the audience’s experiences. Emotional appeals can tap into the emotions that the target audience is feeling, whether it be fear, uncertainty or hope, to show that the business understands their struggles and is there to help them.
However, it’s important to be authentic and avoid exploiting emotions for the sake of sales. Messages should be positive, uplifting and empowering, reinforcing an emotional connection with the brand.
Worried consumers, including those in the comfortably well-off and live-for-today segments, often seek comfort in familiar and trusted brands during a recession. To build trust with their audience during tough times, businesses need to communicate reassuring messages that reinforce an emotional connection with the brand and show empathy.
3. Be Real and Transparent
During a recession, consumers are looking for brands that they can trust. When businesses are honest and genuine in their advertising, consumers are more likely to believe in the brand and feel that they have their best interests in mind.
Transparency is another crucial factor in building trust with your audience during a recession. Businesses need to be open and honest about their practices, including pricing, product quality, and any potential issues that may arise. This can help to establish trust with consumers and show that the business is committed to being transparent and upfront.
Being authentic and transparent can also help businesses to differentiate themselves from their competitors. By showcasing unique values and practices, businesses can stand out and appeal to consumers who are looking for something different.
While authenticity and transparency can help businesses to stand out during a recession, it’s essential to ensure that these qualities are genuine, rather than just a marketing tactic. Consumers can easily detect when a brand is being insincere, which can harm the brand’s reputation.
By prioritizing authenticity and transparency, businesses can build trust and foster long-term relationships with their customers. However, businesses should be careful to ensure that these qualities are ingrained in their values, rather than just a superficial marketing strategy.
Awareness Advertising: Your Key to Resilient Sales Funnel in a Recession
When the economy takes a hit, your sales funnel can take a hit, too. But with awareness advertising, you can keep the leads coming in and the sales rolling.
Navigating a recession as a marketer or business owner can be challenging. While it may be tempting to cut back on expenses, including your marketing budget, during tough economic times, this decision could have long-term consequences.
But we want to encourage you to stay the course and continue investing in your business, even in the face of a recession. The truth is that advertising during a recession can make a significant difference in your business’s ability to weather the storm
Instead of reducing your marketing efforts, consider investing in targeted and strategic campaigns that can help your brand stand out and build loyalty with your audience.
We understand that these are challenging times, and want to assure you that you’re not alone in this struggle. Our team of experienced marketers can help you develop a comprehensive and effective marketing strategy that will allow you to stand out from your competitors and connect with your target audience.
Whether you need help with awareness advertising, lead generation, or closing more sales, we’re here to help you achieve your marketing goals.
Ready to step up your SEO in Google Analytics 4?
Whether you’re an analytics pro or just starting out, we’ll take you through 5 easy ways to use Google Analytics 4 (GA4) to measure your SEO performance and take your strategy to the next level:
- How to create ‘Views’ like Universal Analytics in GA4 in order to segment or exclude certain traffic to get the most accurate numbers for your SEO reporting
- How to create a Traffic Acquisition Report to see exactly how much of your website traffic comes from search engines like Google Search and Bing, and why
- How to see your top backlinks in order to determine which backlinks are really worth the investment
- How to create a Landing Page Report to analyze which of your website pages are attracting the most organic traffic and which need to be improved
- How to see if your organic visitors are converting and follow their path from discovery to conversion so that you can patch any leaks in your marketing funnel.
Grab a cup of coffee and get comfortable. Let’s dig into the world of SEO in Google Analytics 4!
Background: What’s the Difference Between Universal Analytics and Google Analytics 4 for SEO?
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is the latest version of Google Analytics, and it brings some significant changes compared to Universal Analytics (UA).
GA4 adds a ton of new functionality, a brand-new interface, and most importantly a completely new data model. This provides some significant advantages over UA when it comes to measuring SEO performance, including:
- Enhanced Measurement: Google Analytics 4 introduces automatic tracking called enhanced measurement which automates a wide range of tracking processes you had to set up by hand in Universal Analytics. GA4 automatically tracks page scrolling, clicks to external sites, using site search, video engagements (including starts, progress, and completion), file downloads, and more.
- Cross-Device Tracking: Google Analytics 4 features reliable cross-device tracking using Google Signals or User-ID. In other words, GA4 can tell when a user switches from their mobile device to a desktop computer and treats them as one user. Not only is it more accurate than UA, but it also offers you deeper insights into how people use different devices.
- Improved Session Tracking: Google Analytics 4 no longer breaks sessions as it goes past midnight, causing it to appear that a person has two sessions when they actually only have one.
- Enhanced Funnels and Paths: Google Analytics 4 offers a robust funnel exploration feature that provides you a detailed look at the steps your users take to complete certain goals on your website, like filling out a form or making a purchase.
- More Flexible Conversion Goals: Google Analytics 4 enables you to set up additional and more flexible conversion goals that can be used to better understand your site.
There are, however, some big changes and missing features that make the transition to GA4 challenging for marketers.
One significant difference from UA is that GA4 does not offer separate Views by default—so, in the next section, we’ll tell you how to configure GA4 to get the same results.
GA4 also lacks certain reports that were available by default in UA and have to be configured manually. We’ll also discuss how to create custom reports for organic traffic, landing pages, backlinks, and organic conversions in GA4.
1. How to Create Views and Filters in GA4
In Universal Analytics, a View is a subset of data for a single domain based on filters that you have applied. Marketers often use Views to exclude internal traffic, test new reporting set-ups, or filter traffic by geographical location.
However, due to a change in the overall account structure, Views are not available as a way to filter data in Google Analytics 4.
The good news is that GA4 does allow you to filter Data Streams to provide a similar experience to UA’s Views.
To create an equivalent to UA’s Views in GA4:
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Events report under Engagement.
- Click on the pencil icon in the top right of the screen to customize the report.
- Click Add Filter to apply a filter based on any of the available dimensions.
- Select a Dimension. For example, if you want to create a filtered view of traffic from one country, apply a filter where the dimension of County equals the country you want to see.
- Click the blue Apply button.
You can also filter certain types of traffic at the Property level. This is the best way to go about excluding traffic that comes from your own staff, since internal traffic can skew the data and make it more difficult to understand exactly how your SEO efforts are performing.
How Views and Filters Help You Measure SEO Performance
Like views in Universal Analytics, this custom GA4 report filters your data so that you can analyze it in a more focused and actionable way.
By creating separate Views for different countries or regions, for example, you can analyze the performance of your website in each location and understand which areas are driving the most traffic. The same can be done using GA4 report filters.
2. How to Check Your Organic Traffic in GA4
To understand where your website users are coming from and how they got there, you’ll need to customize the Traffic Acquisition Report under Acquisition.
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Click on the Primary Dimension, which is Session Default Channel Group by default.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Session Source/Medium.
- In the search bar above the Primary Dimension, type Organic and press enter.
Now, you can assess the performance of your SEO efforts metrics such as users, sessions, engaged sessions, and average engagement time.
Analyzing Organic Traffic Growth with GA4
SEO is one of the most powerful tools a business can use to boost its online visibility.
However, without tracking how many visitors are coming to your website through organic search, you won’t know if your SEO strategy is really working or not.
By tracking how many visitors come to your website through organic search, you can gain valuable insight into what is working and what isn’t. Measuring your organic traffic in GA4 will not only help you fine-tune your SEO strategy, but also help you optimize your entire digital marketing strategy for long-term success.
3. How to See Your Top Landing Pages by Organic Traffic in GA4
If you’re familiar with UA, you’ll remember that a landing page report was available by default by clicking the Behavior drop-down menu, then clicking Site Content, followed by Landing Pages.
GA4 isn’t quite as intuitive, but it only takes a few extra steps to create a report that gives you your top landing pages by organic traffic.
- Click into the Reports section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the second option from the top.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Click on the Primary Dimension, which is Session Default Channel Group by default.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Landing Page + Query String.
- Click the + Plus sign and select First User Medium.
- In the search bar above the Primary Dimension, type Organic and press Enter.
Voilà: you have a report that tells you which of your landing pages drive the most organic traffic!
Unlocking SEO Insights with a GA4 Landing Page Report
When you start seeing organic traffic coming in, it means that your SEO efforts are paying off.
Customers are finding what they need on your website—and Google is rewarding you for it.
You can use what’s working on that page to improve your SEO across your website.
Pages with low traffic, on the other hand, might be missing the mark. By taking the time to spot these pages and make the necessary improvements, you can work to unlock your website’s full potential for generating traffic over time.
4. How to See Your Top Backlinks in GA4
You can use GA4 to get detailed information about which of your backlinks drive the most traffic to your site, and which of them carry the most weight for the search engines.
By analyzing this data, you can identify which websites provide the greatest value to your SEO efforts and where you should focus your link building efforts.
- Click into the default Traffic Acquisition report under Acquisition.
- Type Referral into the search bar and press Enter.
- Click on the + Plus sign to add a Secondary Dimension.
- From the list of Dimensions, select Session Source.
This report provides information about the source of your referral traffic as well as information about the traffic that helps you determine the value of those backlinks.
Use the objective metrics Google Analytics gives you — number of visitors, page views, pages per visit and bounce rate — as well as subjective characteristics like relevance, uniqueness, and authority.
Analyze Referral Traffic to Boost Your Search Ranking
Building backlinks is one of the most essential SEO strategies. One of the factors determining the ranking of your website on Google for targeted keywords is the number of quality links that point to your website.
5. How to Check Your Organic Conversions in GA4
Measuring the volume of website traffic alone can give you a general idea of how your website is performing, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Conversions in GA4 measure how effective your website is at driving desired actions from visitors. These actions could be anything from making a purchase to subscribing to a newsletter or downloading a PDF guide.
To create an organic conversion report in GA4:
- Click into the Explore section of GA4. In the left navigation menu, it’s the third option from the top.
- Click on the Blank exploration report template.
- Name your report Organic Conversions.
- Set the date range to at least 30 days.
- First, you’ll need to create a Segment.
- Click on the + Plus button next to Segments and click the User Segment button.
- Name the new Segment Organic Search.
- Click Add Condition and select First User Medium.
- Click on the Add Filter button. Set the first box to Contains and the second to organic. Click Apply.
- Click the Save and Apply button in the top right corner.
- Next, you’ll need to add Dimensions.
- Click on the + Plus button next to Dimensions.
- Search for the following Dimensions and click the checkbox for each one:
- First user source/medium
- Landing page
- Event name
- Item name
- Device category
- Click the Import button in the top right corner.
- Finally, it’s time to add Metrics.
- Click the + Plus button next to Metrics.
- Search for the following Metrics and click the checkbox for each one:
- Total users
- User conversion rate
- Session conversion rate
- Event revenue
- Click the Import button in the top right corner.
- Double-click the First User/Source Dimension to add it to the Rows section.
- Double click all the Metrics one by one to add them to the Values section.
- Under Values, select Cell Type Heat Map.
Why Organic Conversions Matter in GA4
Organic conversions and organic traffic go hand in hand when it comes to measuring the success of your SEO strategy.
While organic traffic is essential for getting visitors to your website, conversions are what really tells you that the effort you’re putting into SEO is moving the needle.
If you’re getting a lot of website traffic but your conversion rate is low, it may indicate that your website is not effectively converting visitors into customers; or, that your SEO efforts aren’t bringing you the right kind of traffic.
Additionally, comparing your organic conversion rate to that of other channels can help you understand which channels are driving the most valuable traffic to your website. For example, if you see that your organic traffic has a higher conversion rate than your paid traffic, it may indicate that you should redirect some of your PPC advertising budget to SEO.
With this information, you can make data-driven decisions that will improve your website’s performance and drive more revenue to your business.
Unlock the Keys to SEO Success with Google Analytics 4
Google Analytics 4 (GA4) is a powerful tool for measuring your SEO performance.
By following the steps outlined in this post, you can track the most important SEO metrics, create accurate views, and make data-driven decisions for your SEO strategy.
Remember: GA4 can be a bit daunting at first, but with a little bit of practice and the right guidance, you’ll be a pro in no time!
If you find yourself getting overwhelmed or need help with integration, don’t hesitate to reach out to our team. We offer done-for-you GA4 integration and can help you set up your account, track the right metrics and create accurate views.
Contact us today to learn how we can help you drive more traffic to your website.
2018 was a big year for SEO. Google’s constantly-changing search algorithm evaluates over 200 ranking factors, and SEO is an increasingly complex science. We’ve compiled a list of statistics that stood out in 2018 to adapt to your marketing efforts in 2019.
Better content can increase traffic by up to 2,000%
Content should be your number one priority.
Last year, we witnessed just how big an impact content has on your overall digital marketing and SEO efforts. Informative, high-quality content is the pillar of a successful SEO strategy. The better the content, the more traffic it will drive to your site.
Strategically creating website content around a keyword or set of keywords is the first step in attracting traffic to your site. Blogs are an important piece of content that can work magic for increasing traffic. There are roughly 250 million blogs online right now!
Google is responsible for 96% of all smartphone search traffic and 94% of the total organic traffic
Yes, you read that right. 96%. Only 4% of all smartphone search traffic happens on alternative search engines.
Thus, it’s of utmost importance to have a mobile-friendly and Google-friendly website to ensure users have a seamless experience. As far as we can tell, this statistic will only increase in the years to come. If your website isn’t mobile of Google-friendly, you’ll be left in the dust.
Search Engines drive 93% of website traffic
Think about this for a moment. Almost 93% of web traffic comes through search engines, and just about 75% of all searchers click a link on the first page of their search results, never bothering to move on to page two.
So, how can you get your business to rank on the search engine’s first page? You’ll need three things:
- A solid search engine optimization strategy
SEO is the leading driver of organic search ranking performance on a search engine results page. Before digital marketing took off, most marketing firms would create a brochure, meet with prospective clients and expect reasonable growth throughout their business. These days, that’s just not effective.
Today’s fastest-growing businesses are capitalizing on the digital marketing environment, and SEO plays an integral role. This will definitely be the case as we move into 2019.
WordPress accounts for 27% of websites around the world, but less than half of WordPress sites are up to date
What does this tell us? That it’s important to optimize your website for maximum performance. So, how do we do this?
- SEO-friendly URLs:
- Google gives more weight to the first 3-5 words in your URL. Be sure to choose wisely!
- Titles optimized for SEO:
- Title tags are one of the most important factors of on-page SEO. For best results, start your title with your keyword, or place it in the beginning.
- Add modifiers to your titles
- Descriptive words like ‘best’ and ‘review’ are examples.
- Optimize your meta descriptions
- Your description should complement your title. It should contain your main keyword as well.
- Eliminate thin content
- When we talk about thin content, we usually think of its effect on search engine ranking, but you should also be mindful of how it impacts your clients or customers. Here’s how to fix it.
- When we talk about thin content, we usually think of its effect on search engine ranking, but you should also be mindful of how it impacts your clients or customers. Here’s how to fix it.
SEO has a 14.6% conversion rate compared to 1.7% for traditional outbound methods.
Cold-calling and direct mail are things of the past.
In 2018, we saw a 14.6% rate of conversion in SEO marketing.
SEO is such an effective method, in comparison to mail or cold-calling because it’s a direct response to the things people are searching for. SEO strategies can be tailored to your specific target demographic, much more so than marketing techniques of the past.
The average attention span in 2018 is 8 seconds
8 seconds. That’s how long you have to attract a potential customer.
Each year, that time is getting shorter and shorter as a result of the brain’s ‘digitized lifestyle,’ For example, the average attention span in 2000 was 12 seconds.
This means that your website, SEO strategy and social media efforts must grab the attention of the user instantly.
Looking to learn more about SEO and how it can impact your business? Contact us today to chat about your online strategy.
Updated December 11, 2018.
On October 8, the Wall Street Journal broke news of a major Google+ privacy leak that occurred earlier this year.
Hours later, Google announced in a blog post that it would shut down Google+ by August of 2019. Then, in the wake of a second data breach discovered in November, Google stated the Google+ closure would be expedited to April of 2019.
What does this mean for Google+ users, including businesses using the platform to boost their online presence and search engine ranking?
While the demise of Google+ may represent the end of an era for Google, its impact on the rest of us isn’t as significant as you might think.
Why Google+ is Shutting Down
The reasons behind Google’s decision to shut down Google+ is twofold: low user engagement and security troubles.
Back in March of 2018, Google uncovered a serious software vulnerability in the Google+ API. Essentially, the bug gave outside developers access to private information on nearly 500,000 Google+ users: names, email addresses, birth dates, locations and more. Mallory Locklear at Engadget penned a good overview of the Google+ data leak here.
Although Google didn’t find evidence that anyone used this bug (for malicious reasons or otherwise), they felt an in-depth audit of the Google+ platform in general was warranted.
The audit, named Project Strobe, raised a couple of red flags:
- Google+ had not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption and had limited user interaction with its associated apps.
- Though Google’s engineering teams put a lot of effort into building Google+ over the years, there were “significant challenges in creating and maintaining a successful Google+ that meets consumers’ expectations.”
Google found that 90 percent of Google+ user sessions last less than five seconds. To put that in perspective, the average Facebook user session lasts six minutes and 23 seconds, and the typical user logs 173 sessions a month.
Considering these issues, Google is shutting down the consumer version of Google+ over the course of the next six months. The process will conclude when the platform closes for good in April 2019.
Google+ and Search Engine Optimization
When it launched in 2011, Google+ was intended to make Google itself more social. Users could make profiles and connect with networks of family, friends, and other contacts. The platform had a stream akin to Facebook’s News Feed.
Google+ was also a part of one of Google’s newest search features, the +1 button. As the launch video explains, the button allowed users to ‘recommend’ webpages to their Google+ network.
The +1 button was important for another reason: search rankings. Initially, Google indicated it was one of many ranking signals Google’s search engine algorithm used to gauge search quality and rankings.
Over the years, Google+ made appearances on Google’s main site in various other ways, but none seemed to stick.
For a time, Google+ and +1 button activity were used to personalize users’ search results, and Google+ assets like photos and posts showed up in some results as well. Content posted to Google+ was often indexed faster than other sites.
Before Google My Business, Google+ pages also served as a public face for businesses in search.
Marketers and businesses flocked to the platform for its purported search benefits. But the public didn’t follow, and as time passed, Google downplayed the importance of Google+ and the +1 button as ranking signals.
What the Google+ Shutdown Means for Search Engine Optimization
The end of Google+ will mean the end of its effects on search engine rankings, however minimal they may be.
It’s welcome news to businesses who were compelled to use Google+ only for its search benefits. The time spent posting to Google+ can instead be used to engage communities their customers already use: whether it’s Facebook pages and groups, Twitter, LinkedIn, or niche industry forums.
If you’ve invested time in building a presence on Google+, there’s lots of time to tie up any loose ends. The platform doesn’t officially close until next April, and Matt Southern at Search Engine Journal has put together a timely guide on how to export your Google+ data.
Have questions about the Google+ shutdown? Don’t hesitate to ask – we’ll be watching as this continues to unfold.
WordPress is the leading content management system, powering 30% of the web. E-commerce has become one of the biggest online activities, reaching a record $2.3 trillion in global sales in 2017. So, it stands to reason that e-commerce and WordPress would go together perfectly — but the reality is complicated.
Getting an online store up and running on a WordPress site isn’t too difficult. But managing and optimizing that site to drive traffic can be a challenge.
That’s why WordPress developers are intrigued by the recent announcement that the team behind BigCommerce, a major SaaS e-commerce platform, is developing a BigCommerce plugin for WordPress.
If the plugin works as intended, BigCommerce for WordPress could make establishing an e-commerce store on WordPress a lot more efficient.
What’s Required for E-Commerce on WordPress Today
WordPress does not support e-commerce by default. It is possible to set up an e-commerce site using WordPress (and many companies do, like Book Riot and Clickbank) but it requires that you install and configure:
- A domain
- An e-commerce-friendly WordPress theme
- An e-commerce plugin for WordPress
There are already dozens of plugins (free and paid) designed to add e-commerce functionality to WordPress. However, picking the right one can be a challenge of its own. In choosing an e-commerce plugin for WordPress, you must think about:
- What you are selling (some plugins lack shipping and inventory management, or only support digital products)
- Your payment system of choice (few plugins support all the various payment options)
- WordPress theme compatibility
- Plugin customer support (is someone there to help if your store goes down?)
WordPress is almost endlessly customizable, and the process of building an e-commerce site using WordPress is less time-consuming than creating one from scratch. However, it isn’t the fastest way to get into e-commerce. All-in-one e-commerce platforms like Shopify and BigCommerce are faster and more user-friendly.
Shopify and WooCommerce for WordPress
The top three e-commerce platforms in 2017 were WooCommerce, Magneto, and Shopify. WooCommerce was designed for WordPress from the ground up. Shopify is a standalone platform first but has released a WordPress plugin. Magneto does not integrate easily with WordPress.
WooCommerce has notable benefits for WordPress users: the basic software is free and customizable, with no limitations on the number of products or orders it can handle. However, many features are locked behind paid add-ons, including expanded payment and checkout options.
Another downside of WooCommerce it’s only for WordPress, meaning businesses have to rebuild their online store if they ever switch content management systems.
Shopify-built e-commerce sites are robust, but not without limitations. Its terms of service limit what you can sell on the platform, and it is not possible to manage WordPress and Shopify at once. Vendors have also reported configuration issues with shipping rates, weight-based shipping, and other time-sensitive factors that get in the way of conversions.
How BigCommerce Could Make e-Commerce on WordPress Easier
BigCommerce is an up-and-coming e-commerce platform that saw rapid gains in the market last year. Recently, it launched the developer beta of a BigCommerce WordPress plugin, which shows promise as a better option for e-commerce on WordPress.
Like Shopify, BigCommerce is software-as-a-service or SaaS, meaning it takes care of hosting and maintaining the servers, databases, and code for its engine. This system frees up resources on the WordPress end and ensures the online store won’t slow down the site, which is important for search engine optimization.
BigCommerce also promises an efficient control panel that allows businesses to manage both the e-commerce elements and the rest of the site from the WordPress platform.
We also like that BigCommerce is already Gutenberg-ready, so you won’t have to switch platforms when this massive WordPress update rolls out later this year.
If you run a WordPress e-commerce site, you’ll want to check out BigCommerce’s blog post on the subject, which has more information on planned features for the plugin.
A website redesign is much more than a visual facelift. With technology advancing at an unprecedented pace, companies must proactively respond to the changing ways customers find and consume content online. How often you redesign your website can have a significant impact on your ability to reach customers and stand out from competitors.
How Often You Should Redesign Your Website
There’s no rulebook on a website redesign, but the power of observation reveals that organizations with a strong online presence tend to change their website at least every three years.
Why three years? There are several reasons why proactive companies wait no longer than that to update or overhaul their web design.
While the timeline may vary to an extent in different industries, three years is approximately how long you can wait before it becomes necessary to adapt to changing technology, trends, and browsing habits.
Any longer than that and the site will start to fall behind.
Within a three-year period, it’s practically inevitable that:
- Web design trends will change to the point that the website’s visual design reveals its age.
- The ways many people use the Internet, and the devices they use to access it, will shift.
- Companies will phase out old marketing campaigns and launch new ones.
- Search engine algorithms will evolve, and search engine optimization strategies along with them.
Any one of these changes is enough to justify at least a minor change to a company’s website. Depending on the website’s structure, or the time that has passed since the last redesign, it may be necessary to undertake a more significant overhaul.
Below, we’ll look at how these changes can have an impact on the bottom line.
1. Keeping Up with Web Design Trends
Redesigning a website is about more than updating its appearance, but the visual design does matter.
Much like music tastes, fashion trends and more, the web industry changes daily and so do its trends.
The first impression customers have of a site is its colours, layout, graphics, photos, and other visual elements. If the site looks unappealing or outdated (especially compared to your competitors), customers are less likely to explore its contents.
The look and feel of a website is akin to a storefront. If a store looks shabby on the outside, you probably aren’t going to step inside, especially if there’s a competitor down the street.
Having an appealing, easy-to-use website show customers that a company is growing and on top of current trends. It’s important to incorporate new designs, upgrade efficiencies in code and practice new technologies that can improve the speed or overall user experience.
You may not succeed by look and feel alone, but it certainly helps.
2. Responding to Customer Browsing Habits
Ten years ago, only a small percentage of website traffic came from mobile devices like smartphones and tablets. Now, mobile browsing accounts for 56% of web traffic worldwide.
This year, Google plans to begin ranking websites based on mobile versions first, making it essential to have a responsive, mobile-friendly site.
The shift to mobile browsing is just one example of how consumer trends can change drastically in a short time. Voice search is another powerful force that is changing how people find goods and services online.
It pays to be proactive in redesigning a site in response to these trends. While many businesses are rushing to bring their sites up to speed, those that implemented mobile-friendly sites years ago are reaping the benefits.
3. Aligning with Branding and Marketing
A business’s website should always be consistent with its current branding and marketing.
Many customers who learn about products, services and promotions offline go online to find more details. If there’s no trace of them on the business’s website, it could cost the company what could have been a lucrative lead.
What’s even worse is if the website has an outdated logo or tagline, leading customers to wonder if they’re even in the right place.
Even if the business doesn’t sell or offer services online, a well-designed website can reinforce and amplify its other marketing and branding initiatives. It should change and evolve with the overall marketing strategy.
4. Improving Search Engine Optimization (SEO)
Search engine optimization should be on the agenda at your very first redesign strategy meeting. Why?
Because even an outdated or underperforming website has SEO value. Search engines have crawled its content, indexed its pages, and given the site authority.
The last thing you want to do is hurt your current rankings through a poorly-planned redesign.
Well-intentioned web designers can inadvertently do damage through mistakes like:
- Failing to redirect after changing page URLs
- Removing old pages with valuable content
- Adding visual elements that slow down page speed
- Making web design choices that are bad for SEO (like sliders)
It’s important to keep SEO in mind to preserve a site’s SEO value during a redesign, and actively monitor keyword rankings, organic traffic, and backlinks.
As search engines evolve, so do SEO tactics. Google tweaks its algorithm 500-600 times each year, so there is always something you can do to improve your site. Proactively optimizing for SEO during a website redesign is far more time- and cost-effective than continually fixing a poorly-designed site.
5. Meeting Business Objectives
Websites exist for a reason, whether it’s to generate leads, sell products, raise brand awareness, or get customers through the door. If a site isn’t contributing to a business objective or is doing so less effectively, it’s time to examine how this could be improved through a website redesign.
A site should reflect the company’s current goals. When those goals change, so should the website.
Websites are no longer simply a data-driven, content-based items. They’re a storytelling device, and a crucial piece of your marketing funnel. This is why UX/UI design have become the forefront for many agency websites, designed with a mind to the user journey.
6. Leveraging New Technologies
The web is constantly changing and evolving. It’s not only style and design sensibilities that shift – web standards are also moving forward, opening the door to new tools and technologies.
One addition that has made an impact over the past few years is the use of CSS Variables to create interactive elements, something we never had access to in previous renditions. We’ve also seen the rise of Progressive Web Applications, which could well be the future of any web project. We already have apps that auto automize our images, text, code and more, and as this trend moves forward, we will be capable of building websites increasingly faster, leaner ways.
What is Google My Business?
Google My Business is a tool for website owners to manage their online presence across Google, including search and Map. It allows you to create, verify and edit listing information to help potential customers find your business.
So, how can Google My Business help your business?
Directly improves the SEO of your website and helps it rank better
Google My Business listings increase visibility in search results for branded searches. It also lets users find listing information and get directions directly from the search results — all without actually going to the website, which is perfect for mobile users! Google My Business is essential for local SEO as it enables your business listing to appear in local search results for queries specific to your products or services. Even broad queries with large volumes display local results, and this is something small business owners and organizations can capitalize on.
You own your information and can control your service offering
You can make sure your customers have access to accurate information such as operating hours, website, telephone number and street address when they find your business via Google Maps or Search. As such, it’s important to ensure your Google my Business page is fully optimized, accurate, and up to date to provide users with the best experience when searching for your products or services online.
In addition, Google My Business pages offer a range of tools to attract and inform local customers: details like menus, product lists, hours of operation, accepted payment types, and interactive features such as photos and reviews. You can also add coupons and special offers for your visitors.
Manage, showcase and respond to reviews
Google My Business allows you to interact with customers by responding to both positive and negative reviews about your business. Responding to reviews demonstrates that you value your customers and their feedback.
High-quality, positive reviews from your customers will improve your business’ visibility. It also increases the likelihood that a potential customer will visit your location. Do encourage customers to leave feedback by creating a link they can click on to write reviews on your website or email signature. Don’t be afraid to ask your customers personally to write reviews in-store, online or via email.
Learn more about customers
The Google My Business platform includes extra analytic data, enabling local businesses to learn even more about their customers. For instance, on Google Maps, you can access information on where requests for driving directions to your business originate from. This is something that can help you target new customers in the area, or even pick the right neighbourhood to expand to as your business grows.
Tips businesses can use to improve local visibility
- Be sure to select the most appropriate category/categories for your business. This way your business can appear for various product or service-based keyword searches.
- Add photos that showcase your business. Choose high-quality photos that highlight different areas of your business. These may include your company logo, interior and exterior images of your business, and product or service offerings.
- Encourage visitors to upload photos of your venue/business.
- Check the popular times of the day and use paid social or AdWords to drive more visitors to your business during slower hours.
- Encourage local reviews and social check-ins from your customers. Some businesses even offer an incentive to customers who do so.