What Are Algorithms? (a 4 min read)

What Are Algorithms? (a 4 min read)

For most marketers and digital nomads, algorithms are a bit like a blockchain.  Everyone understands a bit of it, but ask them to explain what and how it works – good luck or expect a long complex answer that seems to go off topic but does not really answer the question. 

You know it.  We have all been there. So what are algorithms exactly (without going off on a tangent)?

What Are Algorithms – The Official Definition:

I like BBC’s definition:

An algorithm is a sequence of instructions or a set of rules that are followed to complete a task. 
Source: BBC Bitesize

So what does that mean exactly?  Let’s demystify some of this term loosely bounced around in the context of someone who has an attention span of a 2-year-old on YouTube (yes I have a 2-year-old at home and yes he has been getting too much screen time).

It is like asking your computer to run a program with a specific goal in mind.  The algorithm’s goal can be to provide good search results that answer the query in the easiest and quickest time possible using complex data technology (if you thought of Google’s algorithm here, you get a star!)

Or it can be showing you videos on your streaming app feed for ones you have watched a lot in the past or have shown interest in (you guessed it, YouTube)

Or it can be your friends’ updates and or ads on topics you have shown interest in by browsing on their platform (Facebook, Twitter, or really any other social media platform is using an algorithm for this).

The internet runs on these algorithms. Websites have algorithms.  Search engines have algorithms. Online or mobile apps have algorithms.  GPS has algorithms. Video games have algorithms. Artificial intelligence?  Dating Sites?  Social Media sites?  Well, you get the point.

In a nutshell, this task or guidance provided to machines in a form of code is not easy to do and there will never be 100% correct results for every user, every query, or every action that takes place online.  Because of this, these algorithms must ‘optimize’ – keep trying to feed you things to ensure your satisfaction remains high (or keeps going in the right direction), so you a) spend more time on their platforms or b) come back often and or tell your friends about it.

Hopefully, you can see that algorithms aren’t as mysterious as you originally thought before starting down this post 😊. We are talking concepts here and not technical definitions, so you understand what they are designed to do and the intricacies around them.

Related: What Should Businesses Do Today To Establish Trust Online?

Related: What Is Web Development

Why algorithms have gotten a bad rep lately?

So why the heat lately?

Well, on social media – let’s take Facebook for example – it keeps giving you posts, ads, and content on topics you have shown interest in.  These algorithms track all the online behaviour of users, and slice and dice your profile to match you with ideas, products, communities that they think you will engage with well. Well, that on the surface is not bad, but it allows you to create a more tunnel vision and groupthink.  Polarized topics can form groupthink and it becomes harder for us to connect with others who may not hold our viewpoint over a period of time.

This leads a more divided society that is constantly only fed their own view point on mass (now this is getting a bit political here – so I am not going to expand here, but I think you can see what I mean by this. Hopefully).

Case in point – ever heard of mySpace and their child exploitation scandals that gave this social platform a bad reputation and lead the likes of Facebook (and others) to take its place? mySpace used algorithms and did not put checks in place to ensure bad behaviour and criminal activity is not rewarded.

Also, more research is emerging that talks about predictive analytics used in algorithms punish the poor.

So use of algorithms without proper checks and constant oversight can lead to outcomes that are less than ideal and may even be construed as “trust breaching” or ‘unethical’ to many.

Privacy Concerns 

Algorithms aren’t always perfect.  

What Are Algorithms? Code screen on black background.

Ever heard of cookies?  Well, these are pieces of code that are saved on your browser on the machine you accessed it from and are used to track your behaviour, interest, demographics online by other websites that can then advertise to you.

A lot of folks have been becoming uncomfortable with this idea of being tracked so we can be advertised at a later date.  This means online surveillance by companies is only increasing and people are starting to learn about how this impacts their behaviour including security concerns, purchasing intent, and more. 

Companies can and have taken advantage of it and some as a result may have also suffered because of it.  Take Facebook and their scandal with Cambridge Analytica where the consulting company (not the social media giant) was able to acquire personal and private data on Facebook’s platform and sold it to US election campaign officials.  This constituted a breach from Facebook (and conceded it as a “breach of trust” after being caught).  Facebook was later fined $5 billion.

We are still figuring out as a digital community, world, and society at large what impact these pieces of code have on our daily lives.  Some of it is good and some of it is not so good.

With innovation, many companies have been very accepting of adapting these tools (these algorithms) to help them stand out, deliver more with less, and find ways to get more people dependant on their platform.  If people keep coming back and keep sharing their personal and online behaviour traits, it makes it easy for these companies that use algorithms to market to them.

Our job at Web Worx Labs is to give our voice to technologies and use them ethically where possible.  We bring light to this issue as we recognize and understand the legitimate concerns many have come to express over the years with these technologies.

Have thoughts to share?  Questions or need more clarity.  Comment below or reach out at info@webworxlabs.com. Contact us via email by filling out our contact form: https://www.webworxlabs.com/contact-us/

 

The Most Powerful Digital Marketing Skills

The Most Powerful Digital Marketing Skills

The Most Powerful Digital Marketing Skills

Digital marketing is a rapidly changing field. It is a powerful combination of marketing and information technology that comes together seamlessly to deliver for businesses and brands everywhere.

There are a lot of skills digital marketing professionals are required to have these days. Any digital marketing agency will have lots of different experts in their team to deliver projects for their clients. At Web Worx Labs – we know how different experts need to come together to deliver beautiful products – be it social media posts, google ad copy, reporting/analytics, web design, development project or video editing.

Digital Marketing Skills Needed Today

Here is a breakdown of some of the different types of digital marketing skills that are a necessity in the field:

  1. Branding
  2. Web development
  3. Web Design
  4. Marketing Manager
  5. UX/UI Design
  6. Graphic Designer
  7. Copywriter
  8. Social Media Management
  9. Social Media Design
  10. Search Engine Optimization
  11. Pay Per Click Expert
  12. Content writer
  13. Copywriter
  14. Video Editing
  15. Video Shooting

HubSpot has a great blog that gets into the nitty-gritty of what, who and how is digital marketing practiced. Here is a link to their blog.

In our agency, we know that these diverse skills are required to deliver full-stack solutions. We have in-house expertise for most of these solutions and our team members come together to deliver for our clients.

And trust us – to deliver outstanding projects, you need specialists in the areas mentioned above.

That is why there are so many niches out there. Many companies either focus on back-end IT development, while others focus on Social Media Management and while others are solely SEO practitioners since these are distinct expertise on their own that provides a solution to one aspect of digital marketing.

Digital Marketing Skills Needed Today Graphic

Among all of this expertise, there is one skill and one skill from our point of view that trumps it all. Can you guess what that skill is?

The skill is writing.

Yes, you can say it is content writing or copywriting – but it’s essentially writing. This simple and fundamental skill that was powerful in the 17th century when running print ads (an example will be shown later) is still the most relevant one today.

Why is writing the most sought-after and needed skill in digital marketing?

It is simple – because it’s the one skill that connects every other digital marketing solution.

Why Content Writing Is The Number One Skill In Digital Marketing?

By content writing, we do not only mean writing blogs – we mean writing for ads, copy, email, web copy and anything in between (and yes it also covers blogs).

To us, a content writer and copywriting are almost interwoven disciplines. A good copywriter is a writer that can write blogs, ads or web copy.

One can argue that even in copywriting, there are areas of specialty. A copywriter can specialize in ads vs. another who is better at writing blogs while another can have their primary focus on writing social media copy.

A copy or content writer can have a preference – but intrinsically they are writers. Rules of engagement are slightly different, but the skills are very transferable.

Content is King

Ever heard of the saying – “Content is king”?

That phrase was written way back in 1996 by a famous entrepreneur named Bill Gates – the founder of Microsoft. He may not have coined the term as there is a debate that it pre-dates him, but he made it famous with his essay.

He wrote an essay on the subject and in it he emphasized that content will dominate the internet the same way it did in broadcasting.

His prediction has turned out to be right and will continue to be right in the foreseeable future.

Even Google – one of the biggest companies in the digital marketing industry and the biggest referral network relies on content to do its job. It ranks and answers millions of queries a day by scanning billions of sites with its sophisticated algorithm that scans the content on the sites to provide users the answers they need. All in milliseconds.

So yes, content drives the internet and digital marketing is marketing using the internet. Hence, content marketing is essentially digital marketing.

Related: Up for a technical read? Get to know a lot of the Technical Google Updates and why they happen.

Content is the Glue That Binds Every Other Skill

The great thing about content writing is that it is needed for every other digital marketing skill.

Does a web developer need content for his or her website? You bet! No matter how fast the website loads – she or he will not be able to do anything with it unless the content on the pages connects with the audience.

It is the fundamental marketing skill that is needed in every solution, skill or service to complete its delivery.

Let’s break down other digital marketing skills that need content writing to deliver their products:

  • Search Engine Optimization – It’s a fundamental requirement. White hat SEO is about content creation, website optimization, on-page, meta tags, descriptions, and outreach.
    • For all of those activities, we need great writing
    • Reporting & Analytics also requires a writer who can articulate the work performed
  • UX/UI Designer.
  • For any web design, the content drives the design.
    • Words are used as a direction to help guide the designer to create the WOW factor web experience begins with great writing initially

Web Developer – we already mentioned it earlier 😊

  • Pay Per Click Specialist. Copywriting for PPC has been an age-old industry and professional since the direct mail days.
  • Social Media Management. Whether it’s designing the posts or writing the caption, it starts with writing the content out for the design and then having to design them.
    • Then you create the caption and call to action.
  • Email marketing. This is more obvious. Writing great emails comes from well – great writing.
  • Videography.

Everything from writing a great screenplay or script to editing and video call outs requires content to makes it all come together

Related: Read our blog on what is email marketing & how does it work.

Now it could be argued that many of the web designs, for example, can be mediocre at copywriting to get by and make up for it with their other skills. However, to go after the market and stand out, your copy and content writing is what will need to be consistent to beat out the competition.

Whether it’s through writing blogs, or running podcasts, hosting seminars or writing amazing copy – to market your business, you will need great writing. Period.

And that is the main point here. Once the website is developed and hosted – people will not show up to it. It will need to speak to people, it will need to be marketed. Content and great writing will be needed to drive traffic.

To showcase thought leadership in digital marketing – it begins with great words first getting organized to get the right message across to the right audience.

Great Writers Are Strategist & Marketers

To be a great writer, you have to understand your subject and your audience well. To entertain, engage and keep the reader turning the page or read the whole blog or finish the website copy, you need to understand your customer or reader at a deeper more psychological level.

This means that you are already getting into the mind of the audience and thinking like a marketer.

Does a web copy or ad copywriter know who they need to speak to? How about a great blogger?

To execute and come up with a plan to get great ideas, thought leadership or the target customer engagement is required to achieve the goals (whether it’s clicking on an ad or signing up for conversion) and this also requires a solid plan.

The development of the plan at this point means you think critically, look at the numbers and come up with a plan to achieve. This is, in a nutshell, is in fact strategy development. You need to think critically and write content that attracts, engages and converts.

The simple fact is that writing is the oldest marketing skill out there. It was true in the days of marketing in classifieds or newspaper ads published in the 17th century and it is true in today’s digital marketing age.

The copy used in the advertisement in the ca the 1740s

Source: V&A Collections UK

Related: Our Blog – Marketing Fundamentals 101

Closing Thoughts

If you are in the market for an ad agency or a digital marketing firm, ask them if they have copywriters or content writers? Who writes blogs for their SEO campaigns? Who writes the copy for the ads?

Or if you are a digital marketing professional that is not a natural writer, then we recommend take the time and brush up on your writing skills or partner with a professional writer to help create complete digital marketing solutions.

Writing captivating copy, engaging blogs, and awesome emails will only help in marketing digitally.

Now, we turn it over to you.

Do you agree with this assessment?

Do you feel that there is any other skill that is more important in digital marketing that is as important as writing?

Reach out or drop a comment below and let us know your thoughts!

Things You Need to Know About Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

Things You Need to Know About Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

Things You Need to Know About Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)

AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, but most don’t know what it is.

“AMP” is a play on the words “amplify” to speed up, in this case, the load times of the site.

An AMP is a page created to improve the performance of the mobile web experience by creating fast-loading mobile pages. It is a project announced by Google on 7th October 2015.

You can learn the details all about AMP on their primary site: Ampproject.org.

Amateur digital marketers are not aware of what it is and how it works.

If you are new to AMP – then this blog will give you an overview with a slight bit of technical background and detail.

If you a Web Development Ninja – then we hope you find it a refresher and entertaining read!

So what is AMP again? It is a library that allows users to create light pages using best practices and optimized code.

This project was initiated by Google and Twitter to be super lightweight and fast loading.

Companies like Google, Twitter, and others use AMP.

They use AMP because it is intended to be an open response and an open-source framework.

AMP pages are distributed across a comprehensive range of consumer platforms.

Some of these platforms are Google, Twitter, Bing, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Medium, and more.

We are in a mobile-first world.  Speed is important – super important.

The world is moving towards mobile and given mobile is slower technology than desktop ISPs, the need for faster lighter pages arises.

Google wants fast websites to effectively reach and engage users.

Whether users are browsing the net using 3g network or now the 5G networks that are becoming mainstream these days.

Fact – people do not like to stick around on slow-loading sites.  Studies done by brands like Amazon have quantified the bottom-line impact to slow loading pages.  1% revenue drop for every 100ms decrease in speed – yikes!  Learn more about the study here.

You’ve probably been frustrated with slow-loading websites (we know we have been).

And the cherry on top that makes you run away from slow-loading sites is that they usually are dated in design, and some may even contain obtrusive ads.

All this can lead you away from the purpose of visiting the site in the first place.

This is why the biggest referral network that wants to improve the internet experience for all users is behind this initiative (we are talking about Google here).

Despite half of the users abandoning slow sites, keep in mind that over 75% of websites on mobiles take more than 10 seconds to load on 3G connections fully and significantly longer on non-3G connections.

However, the research also indicates that 53% of users will leave a mobile page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

There is a disconnect in the needs of an average user vs. what he gets by the webmasters across the world wide web.

In fact, in several cases, the need to monetize the website has created bloated sites and lousy user experiences.

Remember, it is not a simple adjustment of monetization vs. performance.

Building a fast, attractive, well monetized, and functional mobile site often requires much effort and constant updates.

It is not an easy task to maintain a fast-mobile website on your own and often requires the assistance of a large team of skilled developers.

All of these reasons are why an AMP project was started.  You do not need to learn advanced HTML or have an army of developers.

The AMP project has made it easier for even novice developers to rely on the library of code to design fast loading pages that are beautiful in look and feel.

I know by now, after this brief context and history lesson, you are probably wondering – so how does it work?

How does it affect my site’s user experience and why a smaller business that isn’t the size of the tech giants mentioned, really care?

So let’s get to it – here are some details that provide clarity to these questions!

A great video by Full Stack that talks about why, where it is used and some of the mechanisms behind it.   Here is a screenshot presentation on a short but powerful video explaining how and where it works;

Image source: FULL STACK – ACADEMY of CODE.

What is AMP made of?

Technically, there are three main components AMP is built on for creating mobile web pages.

The combination of these three elements yields the super-fast AMP experience.

AMP HTML

This is an extension of HTML with some restrictions for better and reliable performance.

The HTML is extended with some custom AMP properties.  These custom elements allow common tags to implement with site performance in mind quickly.

The AMP library is linked within the code, for example, execute an action that is written with the best industry practices in mind.

The tag within the HTML references one of the scripts and links to an AMP script library – allowing the webmaster to leverage the clean code that is optimized for performance (instead of writing the code for the same action in less than the optimal way that can slow the load times).

Now you are wondering here why it is faster or how is it faster vs. other code?

This is because unlike traditionally designed pages, the browser may not know how the content will be laid out until all the code is loaded.

AMP bypasses by making sure that each element size and position is determined within the HTML before the actual resource is loaded.

So AMP loads the resources of the page, before waiting for any resources to be downloaded – this concept is called “static layouts.”

All this is done to ensure the loading time is reduced as fewer resources are needed to load the page.

AMP JS

This is a library that ensures the fast rendering of AMP HTML pages.

Like the AMP HTML – these scripts in the library are linked to allow good clean code to be used.

Use these instead of using bloated code that can prevent poor rending to occur and thereby add to the load times.

Most pages contain code that is synchronously downloaded and can block the rendering of the page.

Using the AMP library allows for Java Scripts to be loaded asynchronously (in parallel) instead of sequential (or in the order specified) to allow for faster load times.

AMP Cache

This element fetches and caches APM HTML and is used to improve the performance of pages automatically.

The most notable benefit is the most obvious one too.

AMP speeds up the load times of web-page by about 40%, and Google search results prefer it.

This key benefit enhances user experience and stops users from bouncing to another page or page by enhancing the load time.

This allows your pages to be discoverable quicker with search engines through the <link rel=”> tag.

what is google amp and its effect on seo

Image Source: SEOpressor

Higher Performance, Engagement & Flexibility:

AMP gives websites a great boost by giving users a smooth, more engaging experience on mobile and desktop.

Let’s assume; you want your average business to rank on top in the search results.

You want your brand to be associated with all the good things, especially when someone visits your site.

If the above-mentioned goals are your concern, then we strongly recommend that you use AMP pages!

If Google is behind AMP and it you want to on Google results, it makes sense to use AMP in your site.

AMP provides publishers and advertisers with flexibility.

It allows them to choose how to present their content and decide what technology vendor to use.

The library allows users to show content in different ways on different screens.

The screen renders faster, fewer resources are used, and the user gets to see what is on the page.

There are a lot of optimization techniques offered to webmasters to help their businesses to win and engage their customers.

The great developers provided all the techniques at AMP Projects.

However, the best part is, the wider internet community is the real winner!

A win-win-win (users, large tech giants, internet webmasters)!

Conclusion:

As digital marketers, we must stay abreast of the latest technological updates, and AMP is no exception.

We all understand the importance of fast loading sites.

And AMP provides a comparatively easy way to upgrade the speed of mobile websites for publishers.

To know more about AMP and how to bring it in use, you can reach out to us, and we feel excited to help you become an AMPed.

If you are a publisher or manage websites, then hopefully you are using AMP.  If not, we highly recommend you start thinking about Accelerated Mobile Pages.

Want Your Website To Rank Higher?

Want Your Website To Rank Higher?

Want Your Website To Rank Higher?

The first thing that comes to mind when we are confronted with the idea of our website ranking higher, “what is the fastest and easiest way for my website to rank higher?”

You have to build trust to rank higher, and trust is a relationship that needs to be consistent over time to develop.

In a nutshell – there is no shortcut, and please, for the love of Google – avoid the tempting alternatives for the longevity and health of your website & brand!

Some people do not abide by good search engine guidelines and game the system, hence their websites suffer over the longterm.

Instead, one must change their thinking and approach this question with a mindset of adding value to the user experience by providing great content for whoever lands on the pages of the website.  The better the content and engagement, the more the site will rank over the long term.  Providing relevant and high-quality content regularly to your viewers is the key here.

In turn, Google Algorithms will reward you with higher rankings in search results, which automatically bring more traffic to your website.

In my experience, there have been many surprises from the search engines changing rules and advancing their algorithms.

But one of these remains the same – if you need your website ranking higher in search results, you must put in the hard work and create value for your visitors.

Here are a few of the most common Website Ranking Shortcuts to AVOID at all costs.

Keywords manipulation to improve website rankings

Image Showing Words Are Key - Search Engine Journal - Rank Higher With Well Written Words - Web Worx Labs

Image Source: SearchEngineJournal

Many novice SEO practitioners try to fit their content and messaging within the confines of their keyword research (and not much else) just to tap into the high-volume keywords.

In other words, marketers shape their content on the website to represent keywords for which they have not adequately aligned for the high-volume keywords.

Because of this, the website loses its chance to engage the customer to display the real message.

The results in analytics for this practice speaks for itself. You will notice lots of traffic to your website but minimal conversions.

The reason here is because the traffic (visitors) were not looking for you.

Don’t try to mislead the visitors or direct them to content that is misrepresented by high volume keywords to increase visibility.

Website Ranking Shortcut: Purchasing Links

Picture Showing Dollars and a link on a laptop sign on a laptop. Source Search Engine Journal. For Article on Rank Higher By Web Worx Labs

Image Source: SearchEngineJournal

J.C. Penney was publicly punished approximately five years ago by Google for purchasing links.

According to an article on Practical Ecommerce, Google and other search engines alike hate paid links since they go after the algorithmic reliance on links as signs of quality.

If a site has earned numerous links, it must be fantastic, correct? Not if those links are paid for or given in return for the item, corresponding links, or different favors.

Therefore, Google has explicitly created algorithmic advancements to distinguish and debase links from link rings, link farms, link exchanges, and paid link schemes.

Without a doubt, there are some paid links accessible that haven’t been caught by Google yet.

However, how much longer will they have value, and what will happen if Google finds them?

The risks far outweigh the brief reward.

Keywords stuffing to improve website rankings

Keyword stuffing is probably the oldest trick in the book. Many people still think that SEO is only about keywords.

It’s not, there is a lot more to that goes into search engine optimization SEO and search engines are well aware of this practice of adding in-text combinations which are unnatural.

Search engines notice these attempts to manipulate search results and demote the content as such.

Black Hat SEO Practitioners that are just looking for shortcuts have tried all sorts of ways to trick the search engines.

Some have tried to add all different variations on the keywords in the footer of their website.

Some have even gone as far as adding these stuffed keywords in the same color as their website background so that the visitors could see them, but web crawlers would.

Remember, keyword research is essential; also, you are writing for humans and not for a search engine.

 Writing content for Robots

Image Source: Yoast

Remember you are writing for humans and not for search engines.

There is still this belief out there: if you write variations on the same keywords and sentences plural/non-plural versions, that means you have covered all your bases.

Repeat the same targeted keywords repeatedly in variations, and you will rank high for these keyword variations. Wrong!

This strategy does not work anymore.

Today the search engines are advanced enough to catch repeated keywords and also variations of keywords.

Most importantly, you are going against the cardinal rule.

You are not writing for value-added or quality content for the visitors.

Instead, you are writing for Robots.

Write for humans!  Or be warned.  There are now even keyword density checking tools that you can use to ensure there is no “keyword stuffing”.

Write your content, and check if it is written to appease to robots.  If you have someone write content for your site, test their work through this tool.

Closing Thoughts

Alright, folks, these are the most common search engine optimization shortcuts to avoid when you are looking to get your website to rank higher.

I will repeat this once again, don’t go looking for shortcuts when it comes to SEO, they never work.

Even if they do – sooner or later, search engines are going to catch on to your practices through algorithm updates, and your rankings will plummet.

The practise of search engine optimization is of patience and hard work, and there are no shortcuts to either one.

Ranking higher in search results is not rocket science (although, I am sure some may make it seem that way).

However, it demands determination and persistence to improve your Google ranking by applying efficient SEO strategies that help you style a properly optimized website.

All you have to do is make sure your site speed is up to bar, your content should be relevant, readable, and of high quality, keyword research must be on point.

All of these will help your site win in the search engine ranking race.

Don’t forget to consider hiring SEO professionals to help you rank higher in search engines.

I hope you enjoyed my article; I would love to read what you have to say and share your stories and experiences with SEO journies.

Do let me know what SEO strategies you have used for improving your Google rankings.

Get to Know the History of Google Algorithm Updates

Get to Know the History of Google Algorithm Updates

Get to Know the History of Google Algorithm Updates

 

 

A Complexed design representing how Google changes its algorithm itself.

Image Source: Techwyse

Google algorithm is a term known by all of those who are in the realm of internet marketing.

To provide better search results, Google updates its algorithm every year.

However, those not familiar or in the industry may not be aware of its importance.

In today’s world, having familiarity and knowing how it can impact a company’s top or bottom line is an essential step in doing a strategic assessment and risk management.

Not staying up to date can impact a company’s organic search ranking, visibility, traffic, conversions, revenue, and finally, income.

The point is, it’s all connected.

Google’s algorithm can indirectly impact your bottom line.

Let’s get into what the heck is a Google algorithm and how you can safeguard your business from it.

To understand Google Algorithm updates, you first have to understand what an algorithm is.

An algorithm is defined in several ways. Here are a few of them for you to understand it better.

Algorithms are a set of rules for solving a problem in a finite number of steps.

So it is a big sophisticated computer program using a set of commands to perform a particular task.

This still doesn’t explain it, does it?

Let’s switch gears to apply the concept to a more well-known example of an algorithm that is used by billions daily “Google”.

So what is the Google Algorithm?

Here is how Encyclopedia has defined Google Algorithm:

“The formula Google uses to rank the resulting Web pages from a user’s query.”

Google algorithm is responsible for 80% of all searches done on the world wide web.

This algorithm is adaptive and offers a wide range of personalized results.

Google’s sophisticated search program uses numerous criteria to deliver more relevant results for users who use it.

It keeps adjusting the results based on the behavior of the users.

Following a strict criteria, it evaluates all the web pages it has indexed to ensure the user gets the best possible answer from the billions of web pages out there.

And it does this in a fraction of a second with tens of thousands of queries a second.  That is a crazy piece of tech.

Google continues to update its algorithm all the time,  which can affect search engine results – and thereby, your site’s traffic.

How people prepare themselves when Google is about to release the algorithm.

 

In one way, Google is the traffic police!  You have to comply with its strict search content criteria for your pages to rank.

You can comply knowingly by managing your SEO efforts (or have someone manage it for you), or you can simply be ranking without knowing unintentionally.

However, it is important to brace yourself because the Google algorithm keeps updating regularly.

The search algorithm of Google is reportedly changing around 500 to 600 times per year and releases significant algorithm changes that have a substantial impact on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPS).

Pro Tip: If you want to get into much more granular changes for Google – stay up to date with Search Engine Roundtable – where the SEO community tracks all the significant changes and reports on it regularly by the excellent work done by Barry Shawrtz at seroundtable.com.

However, we will spell out the most significant updates for you to look for when looking to understand the Google Algorithm updates better.

But what are these changes, and why Google keep releases new updates quite often?

Well, to help you understand the significant algorithm changes of Google in the past, we’ve enlisted all the critical updates and revisions of Google Algorithm.

Types of Google Algorithm Updates:

  • Panda Update.
  • Penguin Update.
  • Hummingbird Update.
  • Pigeon Update.
  • Mobile-Friendly Update.
  • Pirate Update.
  • EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update.
  • RankBrain Update.
  • Top Heavy Update.

Google Panda Update:

Panda update of Google's algorithm released by Google.

 

Google launched “Panda” in February 2011

Panda was designed to target the poor quality sites that made their way on the top of Google’s SERPs.

Sites with poor user experience can be hit by Panda too.

Panda keeps updating from time to time and cleans up occupied search result engine from low-quality content for high-quality content.

Google Penguin Update:

Penguin algorithm update of Google represented by real life Penguin

Google’s Penguin update was announced on 24 April 2012, which aimed to reduce the rankings of those websites which violate Google webmaster guidelines.

They did this by using the techniques of black-hat SEO, a practice entirely against search engine guidelines.

Penguin is a part of Google’s core ranking algorithm since late 2016, which means penalties are now applied faster than before, and recovering from penalizing also takes less time.

Google Hummingbird Update:

The hummingbird algorithm update released by Google

 

This search algorithm has a codename of “Hummingbird” was announced on 26 September 2013.

Google named this algorithm hummingbird because of being “precise and fast.”

The specialty of penguin is that it provides the best results by understanding the meaning behind the words searched.

Also, penguin enhanced semantic search by this process.

There are two significant hazards you need to avoid one is exact-match keyword targeting, and the other is keyword stuffing.

Know all about the  Google Hummingbird algorithm here.

Google Pigeon Update:

Representation of the pigeon update released by Google.

 

The pigeon was launched on 24 July 2014, to increase the ranking of a local business listing in a search.

This algorithm created closer ties between the local and the core algorithm.

In this algorithm, the same practices and factors can be used to rank local and non-local Google results.

Do you know why this algorithm was called “Pigeon”?

Well, its because Pigeons tend to fly back home.

And so does this algorithm after having a substantial impact on local search result rankings.

This algorithm provides more accurate, relevant, and useful local search results by improving distance and local search parameters.

FYI – Does anyone notice a “P” theme going with these updates is it just me (wait Humming Bird update was not a “P” theme)?

Google Mobile-Friendly Update:

Representing the Google's mobile friendly update.

 

The Mobile-friendly ranking algorithm was launched on 21 April 2015.

It was designed by Google to give a boost to mobile-friendly pages in mobile search engine results.

The site version appears on desktops might get challenging to use or even view on mobile devices, and the number of mobile users increases day by day.

So, Google to improve user experience launched a mobile-friendly ranking algorithm to give priority to those websites that appear well on mobile devices.

A site can be checked through a tool that tells either it is mobile-friendly or not.

You can check on the internet if your site is mobile friently or not.

 

Google Pirate Update:

Pirate symbol to reflect an algorithm of Google that was called Pirate algorithm

 

In this digital era, piracy has become a significant issue.

However, to demote pirated sites to appear in search engine results, Google introduced the “Pirate Update.”

Google launched “Pirate” in August 2012.

The main intention behind this algorithm update is to prevent sites that have received a large number of copyright infringement reports from ranking well in Google listings.

This filter is updated periodically and also catches the new pirated sites, which somehow manage to escaped before being caught.

(And we are back with “P” updates!)

Google EMD (Exact Match Domain) Update:

Google launched EMD in September 2012.

EMD aims to prevent site and pages with the poor-quality content from ranking.

Its because they had words that matched search keyword terms in their domain names.

This small algorithm change has reduced low-quality exact match domains from showing up high in the search results.

Remember, there is no such problem with EMDs.

However, they could be a sign of a spammy for the website whose URL exactly matches with a search engine query.

Telling viewers not to rely on exact match domains for SEO

 

Google RankBrain Update:

pictorial representation of rankbrain - an algorithm of Google.

 

RankBrain is a machine-learning artificial intelligence system launched on 26 October 2015.

It helps Google to determine the most relevant results in search engines.

This allows Google to become as smart as a human being in the sense of acquiring knowledge and can somehow summarize what a page is about.

The primary function of RankBrain is to identify query-specific relevance features of a page and then arrange the result in SERPs according to it.

Google Top Heavy Update:

Google launched “Top Heavy Update” in January 2012, to prevent the sites which are top-heavy with advertisements from ranking well in search result listings.

This algorithm affects the sites with less amount of content or if there are many ads displayed beside relevant content.

Because of the advertisements, these sites are too distracting for users. Hence, they are not user-friendly at all.

This distraction is because of too many ads that also influence their ranking.

Wrapping Up:

So here are all the major Google algorithm updates to date, maintain the ranking of your site by understanding these algorithm updates, and prevent your site’s ranking from dropping down.

Also, make sure that you keep yourself up to date with the changes in algorithms with time because you never know Google is always ready to surprise you.

Funny representation of how Google updates its algorithm.

 

Can you see a pattern here?  What do all these changes have in common?

Google is trying its very best with every update to help the user experience on its search engine be the most reliable and simple for the end-user – the searcher.

If you add up all those searches, the one item common in all of them is that it is trying its best to enhance the reliability and relevancy of its search results.

This change was to provide users with answers for questions better that they type each time they use its search engine.

The stronger the site that follows these practices, whether it is good content, high speed, and not spammy links – the better it will rank in Google’s search results.

Its logical and programmatic approach to help Google continue to dominate the market share it has.

Google wants to reward good sites and penalize the sites that have spamming or shady practices.

They want to improve the overall customer experience with this.

It knows the stronger the relevancy and reliability of the search results, the more likely the users will continue to stay on its engine.

The more people use its search engine, the more ad revenue it can make (as that is its primary source of monetizing the search engine).

In our practice at Web Worx Labs, we have seen national and internal organizations become penalized because they do not stay up to date with these changes or are using less than white-hat SEO practices.

Our advice is that you design your site to meet all the requirements of at least the above.

Also, stay within the “spirit” of the enhanced user experience for your target customer.

If you are wondering that what caused your website ranking to fall, feel free to contact us for a consultation and site audit.

Or you can do a FREE Site audit yourself on our page.

We are always looking forward to helping business owners and marketers with their website rank and visibility.

So what do you think?

Is there an update we should mention that you think we missed?

Let us know in the comment section, and if it is cool or fits, we will make sure to add it to our list!

Top 3 SEO Risks Worth Taking in 2020

Top 3 SEO Risks Worth Taking in 2020

Top 3 SEO Risks Worth Taking in 2020

 

SEO Risks - The Ones To Take & The Ones To Avoid - ITSguru

 

Image Source: ItsGuru

The decision to take risks in search engine optimization is all about calculation and hitting the right balance.

There will be moments when you may feel that the time is not right, especially when you are just above the danger mark.

Just like any other risk-taking venture, you need to look at the positives and negatives before you decide to take risky SEO efforts.

It is always a case of weighing your options for and against the decision.

Calculated SEO Risks Worth Taking in 2020:

How User Experience (UX) Design Affects Your SEO | SEO Optimizers

 

Image Source: SEO optimizers

User Experience

Any SEO expert or professional, would know that Google, the search engine that provides the largest platform to this industry, swears by user experience.

That is undoubtedly the prime factor of SEO rankings.

So, trying to improve the user experience offered by your website. It is worth taking a risk.

You can look at the bounce rate of your site, along with metrics like site duration and time on page, to figure out how you are faring for your visitors.

Any effort or change made to this effect is worth the risk.

 

URL Restructuring

A bronze-age site structure with an outdated eCommerce platform is a sure way to kill a website!

More often than not, SEO professionals are working with URLs that are not keyword-rich.

As a result, the response from Google is quite poor.

Also, when users are not clicking on your link even when you are ranking, Google takes a very dim view of your site’s ability to deliver the required content.

This implementation pulls down your rank even further.

How to Create SEO-Friendly URLs

 

Image Source: Backlinko

The above image by Backlinko will explain to you what we mean by a keyword-optimized URL.

Users don’t have any idea of your content from your URLs unless they are optimized with proper keywords.

So that is a path you should walk down and modify.

It may mean temporary slipping of rankings for your website, but it will be beneficial in the long run.

A/B Testing

 

Image Source: Optimizely

A-B Testing 

This method is the most radical risk that you can take.

You would change the whole framework of your SEO initiative and testing it against different keywords and meta tags.

As the name suggests, you need to work with structure A and compare the results with structure B.

Whichever gives you better results will be the way forward for you.

You can see the results on Click-through Rates or CTR.

Try not to overhaul the entire site at a single go.

Do it gradually for the most important pages and then expand it according to the results you get.

SEO risks should always be about finding the right way ahead, not about proving yourself right.

Being a professional SEO Agency, we ensure all the A/B Testing is done to compare the data and provide ROI focused strategy.

Search Engine Optimization – Why It Matters and How to Do It Yourself

Search Engine Optimization – Why It Matters and How to Do It Yourself

Search Engine Optimization – Why It Matters and How to Do It Yourself

 

Search Engine Optimization, or SEO, is a common marketing strategy that businesses use to help their website rank higher in major engines’ search results.

Despite its popularity, some business owners remain skeptical or even unaware of the power of SEO.

This mostly stems from underestimating the value of SEO, or insufficient understanding of what SEO involves.

With all the resources available online, it can be overwhelming for the uninitiated to wrap their heads around what search engine optimization is or what it takes to achieve results.

If you’re fortunate to have enough funds, you can outsource SEO work to experts like us who will handle your SEO for you.

However, we understand some small businesses are on a tighter budget, but that does not mean they have to miss out on the benefits of SEO.

In this blog, we will explain the benefits of search engine optimization.

We will provide a checklist of what you need before starting SEO.

Also, we will walk you through how to do some basic optimization for your business website.

Want to develop or improve your business website? Give us a call, and we’ll give you a customized quote based on your business goals.

Related article: 3 Reasons Your Business Needs a Website

Importance of Search Engine Optimization

First, let’s talk numbers.

As of 2017, over 4 billion people worldwide have access to the Internet.

That’s more than half of all the people on Earth.

One thing most of these people know how to do? Use a search engine.

Search engines are not a new concept anymore.

Since their inception, they have become an integral part of Internet users’ behavior online.

Take the biggest search engine in the world, for example, Google. According to Internet Live Stats, Google processes over 40,000 searches every second on average.

That’s 3.5 billion searches per day and over 1 trillion searches per year.

For further clarification, look at the infographic image below:

Global social media research summary 2020 | Smart Insights

 

Image Source: Smart Insight

What do these numbers mean for you as a business owner?

It means lots of opportunities to reach your target audiences online.

But the Internet is dark and full of competitors.

So how do search engines sift through the noise?

They rely on complex algorithms that automatically crawl websites and rank them according to several factors called ranking factors.

Ranking factors determine where a website will rank in search engine results.

These include factors such as page speed, meta tags, relevant and rich content, mobile optimization, and more.

For your website to rank high in search results, it needs to be optimized for these factors.

Keep in mind that there are no guarantees when it comes to SEO.

But if you do the work right, and don’t try to trick the search engine algorithms, you should be fine.

When it comes to ranking, you want to aim for the first page of search results, and the top 3 results on that page.

Why? Because results in these positions get the highest traffic.

The screenshot below, based on research by Search Engine Watch, breaks down the traffic percentage for each result on the first page.

You’ll see that the first result gets the most traffic, while the last result gets the least traffic.

This number decreases the further down the result is.

 

Increase Your Sales with SEO

If the traffic numbers don’t convince you, let’s try dollars.

Using our extensive SEO expertise, we came up with a hypothetical scenario for a daycare business that charges $1,400/month per student to give you an insight into what your business numbers could look like with SEO.

These assumptions are just to show the potential for modeling and planning purposes only – but it will give you an indication of how the return and costs work.

 

The average revenue after the business has taken the first spot on the first page is $1,138 on the low end and more than double for the realistic scenario.

This means that there is additional revenue coming in every month.

Also, more traffic is being generated by the keyword through SEO efforts.

This can work on additional business models, where the average revenue per transaction is low – how?

By using more keywords and higher converting keywords.

Whether it’s an e-commerce website, a service-based business or something in between, search engine optimization can deliver results when done right.

We have a proven track record for helping businesses increase their sales through search engine optimization.

Read Our Case Studies

If you have questions about implementing SEO for your business, do not hesitate to ask.

We will create a scenario analysis for your specific business model.

But if you want to DIY it, keep reading.

SEO Starter Checklist

The first thing you need before you can even consider doing any search engine optimization is a well-designed, functioning website.

By well-designed we don’t mean a fancy site with a ton of features, it simply needs to have the main elements of a good website:

  • An easy navigation menu
  • Easy and quick access to the most important information about your business, including the address and phone number (if applicable)
  • Relevant, high-quality images
  • Relevant content
  • Fast loading times
  • Responsive design

You can learn more about the steps involved in website design here.

 

Once you’re satisfied with your website, you can start prepping for search engine optimization.

There are two parts to SEO work: on-page and off-page optimization.

This article will focus on on-page optimization, but the following are the basic first steps for any SEO work.

Keywords

Keywords are the words or phrases a user types into a search engine to find information, products, or services.

They are one of the most important ranking factors for search engine bots (complex algorithms that crawl websites).

These bots help search engines categorize the billions of websites on the Internet.

Before doing any SEO, you need to select the best keywords that are relevant to your business.

Using a hypothetical chocolate business called Wonka’s Chocolates, relevant keywords for this business can look like this:

  • Wonka’s Chocolates
  • Chocolate chip cookies
  • Chocolate chip cookies Ontario

Tip: The more specific your keyword, the better your chance of ranking.

Mobile Optimization

In 2015, Google announced an update to its search engine algorithms that prioritize mobile-optimized websites.

In other words, websites that are optimized for mobile will be prioritized in mobile search results.

It is very important to have a responsive website, not only for the benefit of search engine rankings but also for your customers.

Percentage of people who use their smartphones and tablets to browse the Internet has been increasing significantly for the past 4 years.

In 2018, 52.2% of all web traffic worldwide was generated through mobile phones.

That’s more than half of all worldwide web activity.

If your website is not optimized for mobile screens, search engines will not show it to mobile users.

Even if your website shows up, the lack of a responsive design can turn away mobile device users, negatively affecting your brand image.

Don’t know if your website is mobile optimized?  Ask for your free site audit today!

Get Your Free Site Audit

Fresh, Relevant, & Engaging Content

As a business owner or an executive, your website is your online storefront.

It should be regularly maintained and updated with information that is relevant to your consumers.

Neglecting to do this will hurt your SEO rankings, as search engines prefer websites and web pages that are constantly updated with new and relevant content.

The best way to do this is to have a blog on your site where you regularly post high quality, relevant content.

This will signal to search engines that your website is always up to date, and that it provides relevant content to users.

Go the extra step and promote your blog articles on your business’ social media to generate traffic to your site and maintain interest in your brand.

Now that you have the essentials of SEO, it’s time to get technical.

On-Page Optimization Techniques

On-page optimization takes place on the website itself.

This is where some HTML knowledge comes in handy as this part of SEO work takes place on the backend of your website.

If you’re not familiar with HTML, don’t worry, we break down the steps, so it’s easy to understand.

Optimizing Content

We just talked about the importance of content and having regular, updated relevant content on your website.

But content alone is not enough.

The next step is to optimize it.

One way you can do that is with keywords.

Remember that list of keywords you carefully selected?

Now it’s time to put it to use so that when search engine bots crawl the pages of your website, they can associate your content with relevant search engine queries.

In other words, as the owner of Wonka’s Chocolates, you want your website to show for queries looking for chocolate products that you make or sell.

How do you add keywords to your content? Easily.

Let’s take one of Wonka’s Chocolate products as an example: Chocolate Chip Cookies.

Ideally, you would have a page on your website dedicated to this product.

It will have at least one image of the product and some information or details about it.

It so happens that one of your keywords is Chocolate Chip cookies.

This is your chance to integrate this keyword into everything on the page strategically.

Talk about the product and provide answers that your customers might have.

For instance, why are your Chocolate Chip cookies better than your competitors’?

Where do you get the ingredients? The more content you add that would be relevant to a site visitor, the better.

Optimizing Images

As far as search engine bots are concerned, everything on a web page is content.

Content includes text, images, videos, links, the works.

Your Chocolate Chip Cookies page will naturally have images of the product.

But search engine bots don’t have eyes, so they can’t see that beautiful photo of chocolate chip cookies you have on your page.

You’re going to have to describe it to them. How do you do that? Alt text.

Alt text is a text description of an image on a web page that is helpful to both people with visual disabilities, as well as search engine bots.

The best use for an alt text is to make sure it clearly describes the image while also including the relevant keyword, so your page can rank.

Adding alt text is fairly straightforward.

You go to the backend of your website, find the image you want to optimize and look for the <img> tag.

This is where you will enter your alt text.

Here’s what this looks like:

Optimizing Images

 

On the left is how the image appears on your website.

This is what it looks like in code: <img src=“https://wonkaschocolates.com/chocolate-chip-cookies.jpg” alt=“Wonka’s Delicious 12 pc Chocolate Chip Cookies”>

Simply add the alt text in between the quotation marks, save/update your web page, and you’re done!

Have a question about SEO? Ask us!

Ask Us a Question

Optimizing Meta Tags

A title tag is what a user sees in their browser tab. It’s also what appears as the title of the page in search results.

This is another significant aspect of your website that gets crawled by search engine bots.

The title tag tells the bots what this page is about.

When optimized, your “chocolate chip cookies” page would have a title that looks like this:

<title> Wonka’s Chocolates | 12 pc Chocolate Chip Cookies </title>

Similarly, the meta description can include relevant keywords that are specific to each unique page on your website.

The meta description is what a search engine user sees when your website/page shows up in search engine results.

The title and meta description are very important as they tell the search engine bots what the page is about and how it’s relevant to what the user is searching for.

Using the same format as above, this is what your meta description could look like:

<meta description=“Made with fresh ingredients and crunchy chocolate chips, Wonka’s chocolate chip cookies are the perfect snack for kids and adults alike”>

Tip: Keep in mind that you only have a limit of 150 characters (spaces included) for your meta description before it cuts off from view. Keep it short and relevant to the page.

Optimizing Site Links & URLs

Links and URLs on your website are key areas you can optimize for.

You can even optimize your domain name, but only attempt that if you know what you’re doing.

For individual page URLs, make sure that the URL is optimized for the page-specific or content specific keyword.

Going with the ‘chocolate chip cookies’ example, the URL for this page can be “www.wonkaschocolates.com/chocolate-chip-cookies-sudbury-ontario.”

Tip: avoid using underscores (_) in URLs.

Optimizing Header Tags

Last but not least, header tags are important because they tell search engine bots what the content on the page is about.

Header tags look like this <h1> </h1>, <h2> </h2>, <h3> </h3>, etc.

<h1> has higher priority than <h2>, so you want to add the most important information/keyword in between the <h1> </h1> tags.

Also, there is only one <h1> on a single page.

This tag should be at the top of your page.

Moreover, <h2> and <h3> tags can act as subheadings for content. For example,

<h1> Chocolate Chip Cookies in Sudbury </h1>

<h2> Why our chocolate chip cookies are the best </h2>

<p> We use only organic, ethically sourced cocoa beans to make our delicious chocolate chip cookies.

We manufacture them in our factories in Sudbury, Ontario, to allow us to maintain high-quality production. </p>

Common SEO Mistakes

Common SEO Mistakes

 

Search engines are smart, and they get smarter every day.

So, there’s no point in trying to trick them into getting them to rank your website higher.

You risk getting penalized if you do. When you’re doing on-page optimization yourself, avoid the following:

  • Duplicate content

It is extremely important not to have duplicate content on many pages of your website.

This includes other websites or sources online.

Avoid copying content from other websites.

Take the time to write your own unique, relevant content.

  • Overuse of keywords on a page

Keywords are an important ranking factor, but you’re not helping yourself if your content is cluttered with them.

Keep it simple, and don’t over-use your keywords on a web page.

  • Non-user-friendly content

It used to be that developers created web pages that had nothing but keywords on them, but search engines got smart about it.

Always remember to write content for your users first, and for search engines second.

Closing Thoughts

As any expert will tell you, the above was merely the ABC’s of SEO.

But it should be enough to help give your website a boost in search result rankings.

Like your blog, SEO work needs to be regularly maintained. If you do it once and forget about it, your rankings will suffer.

It can also be challenging to stay on top of Google’s constant updates, plus the smaller changes they apply to their algorithms without announcing it.

These are all aspects that a digital marketing agency proficient in search engine optimization can take care of for you.

The goal of this blog is not to turn you into an SEO expert as it is a rapid and ever-evolving field.

There are many challenging aspects in SEO work, from constantly updating and improving your website to staying on top of search engines’ algorithm updates.

Despite its challenges, good SEO work yields long-term results, providing a higher ROI compared to other digital marketing strategies like AdWords (now Google Ads).

Unlike AdWords, search engine optimization is essential for any business website.

An optimized website keeps both search engines and your customers happy.

Now you have the tools you need to take a shot at doing your SEO.

But if you’re feeling overwhelmed, or want to avoid the hassle, reach out to us today.

We customize our plans to fit your business needs.