A Look Over Our Shoulders in SEO and What to Expect
We’ve had another great year at Thinkit Media with advancing the art of ethical search engine optimization. Helping clients see sustainable results from their hard work makes us happy!
Needless to say, Google is the 800-pound gorilla that leads all other search engines in bloody rampages against questionable practices and sub-optimal website design. Our own SEO toolkit already stands out for its effective, straightforward techniques that increase traffic and profits while showing deep respect for our clients and their website visitors, but it’s always a good idea to keep a close eye on the gorilla’s mood swings. Let’s take a look at what happened in 2015 and what’s likely to happen in 2016.
An Eventful Year for Mobile Computing
In early February, many industry observers saw large, unpredictable fluctuations in Google’s results for major classes of keywords, but the search giant’s spokespeople remained tight-lipped about the meaning of these phantom changes. After some speculation on possible e-commerce and mobile-computing optimizations, life went on for SEO experts and webmasters.
In mid-April, Google decided to strengthen its support for mobile-friendly computing. The company’s algorithmic updates slammed mobile-device results for millions of websites that Google’s back-room wizards saw as still being too focused on fuddy-duddy desktop platforms. Unsurprisingly, website owners all over the planet panicked over the potential for large traffic losses.
However, Google’s spokespeople made it plain that the company still placed primary importance on seeing high-quality content for all platforms. Furthermore, Google pointed out its online tools for helping laggard webmasters upgrade their sites to responsive mobile designs that worked equally well across desktops, laptops, smartphones and tablets. Simply adjusting links for ease of clicking and paying attention to text readability promised to yield positive results for many webmasters reluctant to immediately tackle full-scale mobile-access redesign projects.
In early May, Google followed up on February’s mysterious flux and April’s minor “Mobilegeddon” earthquake with a stealthy change that rattled savvy website operators, many of whom saw marked changes in SERPs, search-engine results pages, for their favored keywords.
After initially staying mum about “Phantom Update 2,” Google confessed later the same month that it had indeed retrained its pet algorithms to weight quality factors differently. Despite alarmed reports of some large sites such as HubPages losing a major amount of mojo without clear explanation, SEO experts eventually found little overall impact across the global website community. Quality content, mobile-friendliness and navigability remained the foremost concepts for search engine optimization.
In mid-July, Google officially fired the opening salvos of its first Panda update for 2015. Widely known as Panda 4.2, the latest iteration of Google’s relentless quest to promote higher quality content and suppress unsavory tactics seemed to directly affect only about 2 to 3 percent of all search queries. Furthermore, Google indicated that its algorithmic changes for over major 200 signals of website quality would roll out slowly, taking perhaps months rather than weeks to complete. Still, many webmasters took heed of the message that Google would only increase its pressure to trim bloated websites for mobile accessibility and to focus on the best possible content.
Late in October, Google released a surprise announcement that the company’s RankBrain machine-learning project had become the third most influential ranking factor behind its search results. Given the urgent need for improved artificial intelligence to cope with semantic analyses of the crushing torrents of data that flow daily, the ultimate supremacy of AI technology in Google’s Hummingbird suite of algorithms for producing SERPs seems foreordained.
Moving into 2016, the beginning of January saw an early shakeup of Google’s search-evaluation algorithms that again resulted in large ranking swings for many websites. Google said little about the changes beyond acknowledging their normal practice of continuous “core updates,” refusing to confirm or deny widespread speculation about another Penguin update.
Finally, Google jolted the AdWords community in late February by trotting out major alterations to the program, including the abolition of right-column advertisements and an increasingly firm commitment to its new practice of slapping four advertisements in a row at the top of website pages.
Great Expectations for 2016
Led by Google, the search-engine industry in 2016 promises to tighten the screws further on the old boogeymen of keyword stuffing, low-quality content and questionable inbound links while placing ever more emphasis on responsive design and other mobile-friendly approaches. Of particular note is a strong Google push behind the open-source project called Accelerated Mobile Pages, meant to counter the competing Instant Articles project from Facebook. Regardless of industry developments, Thinkit Media will continue to stay on the leading edge of website development and promotion techniques for clients seeking the best in Dallas SEO.
So, you have had a website for a while, and are pretty proud of it. You have made a few changes over the years and consider yourself someone who keeps up with the times, so you know that you need to move your site to the next level. What is that level? Making your site mobile friendly (and tablet friendly.)
When making that decision, there are two options to consider. Either you try to adapt your site to fit the small screen of most mobile devices, or you hire someone to build you an app that can be downloaded and accessed by the general public. While an app may seem like the popular way to go at first, there are some benefits to making your website ready for most smartphones and tablets that you may want to consider first.
What does it mean?
When making your website ready for smartphones (or to make it more tablet friendly), you are basically taking your site and allowing it to quickly and easily display on most devices. Making your site mobile ready makes it easier to read and navigate for your users, allowing for minimal scrolling and a more responsive design for their device. Using Flash is also avoided, since some tablets do not support it.
Why is this important?
On April 21st, Google began using a new algorithm update that impacted mobile search results. Nicknamed “mobilegeddon,” this update allows mobile-friendly websites to be ranked higher in search results than those which are non-mobile. So the first benefit of making your site optimized for mobile devices would be that you would allow yourself to be more visible to possible customers than those that have not taken made their sites mobile friendly. That makes perfect sense business-wise.
The Disadvantages of Apps
Building an app is a popular choice, but unless you know how to code, you will probably have to hire someone to do it for you. Plus, not only will they need the skill, they will need to know how to adapt it for the various platforms that exist. So, not only will you need an app for the Apple App Store, you will need one for Google Play, the Windows Store and Amazon. If you instead decide to go the mobile site route, you don’t have to adjust for as many platforms. It simply needs to work on the browsers that are used.
Overall User Experience
With the growing number of iPads, tablets, and phones out there, people are abandoning the traditional desktop and laptop. This means that the information they searched for on a bigger screen is now being looked for in a much, much smaller package. Even if you do not have a mobile site, users will still try to access your information using your regular site. The only problem is that not only might things look a little distorted, it might take so long to load that any potential customers might decide to go somewhere that has a more responsive design. Making a site ready for mobile devices benefits the user and gives them a much more pleasing experience.
How Can I Check?
If you would like to see how mobile friendly your site is, follow this link for a simple test: https://www.google.com/webmasters/tools/mobile-friendly/
As time marches on, web design and technology continually make giant strides toward simplicity and better user experiences. While there are current trends in web design that will be around for a long time to come, others won’t exist in as little as a year from now. These are just a few of the current and future trends for web design, as well as ones that have already made their way out.
Responsive design is argued to be one of the most influential trends in web design to date, and there are plenty of reasons why. Responsive design creates a more flexible user experience for website visitors, regardless of the platforms they’re viewing from It’s predicted that responsive design will continue to stick around for a long time to come.
Right now, simplicity is also a monumental trend. Websites that utilize large, vibrant backgrounds behind minimal overlay content are very popular. Additionally, transparent/ghost buttons are being used heavily in conjunction with these types of sites due to their flexibility.
Websites with card/tile layouts are quite a hit at this point in time. Pinterest is a vast online presence that utilizes this layout, and many more entities are beginning to adopt it. It promotes better organization of content, and it enhances the user’s ability to quickly scan through information.
Typography is already a valuable asset to any website, but it will only continue to grow in popularity as 2015 marches on. At one time, typography set kits were expensive to purchase, but they have become more affordable with time. This type of design element adds personality to a website, something that is extremely important right now.
Clicking is being replaced, at a surprisingly rapid rate, with scrolling. Rather than clicking to move from area to area on a website, a user can simply scroll to move onto new content. Many websites have already adapted this navigation process, and it’s only expected that many more will do the same in the near future.
Businesses are also beginning to show off their products in new, ground-breaking ways. Some products can now be viewed in interactive, 3D experiences rather than from just a single, stationary image. Users can rotate and zoom in on these virtual product displays to get a better idea about what they’re purchasing.
Simplicity will also continue to become more prominent across the web. Non-essential design elements and content are being left behind to create a more straightforward user experience.
Worn Out Trends
You might recognize some of these trends from the past, and you might also realize that they’re not implemented so commonly anymore. Trends that have essentially made their way out include:
- Web 2.0 design elements. Glossy buttons, flashy icons, and heavy use of texture are all a thing of the past.
- Hit counters. Hit counters have been ditched for back end analyrics. Analytics tools have proven to be much more accurate and powerful.
- Ribbon text. Text over ribbon graphics quickly became a worn out design concept.
- Text-heavy content. We aren’t seeing many websites with a lot of text these days. Web designers are going for simplicity and usability these days.
Because web design trends are constantly evolving, you need a web designer in Dallas who fully understands that. Any Dallas web design agency that uses outdated tactics and strategies to build websites is only setting their clients up for disappointment. Stay ahead of the trends by working with the best web designer in Dallas. We think our projects, clients, and experience speak for themselves when we say we’re the best in what Dallas web design has to offer.
When looking at SEO, you are going to see that it doesn’t always work the way you think it will. Yes, plenty of company owners will go out of their way to spend time and money looking to rise to the top. However, in the end, many site owners don’t see the results they want. With this in mind, here is a look forward to 2015 SEO trends to look out for.
Quality will count more than ever: In the past, site owners would go out of their way to post dozens of articles all over the Internet. This worked for a while, but it is not a good way to rise to the top of the SEO Rankings. In fact, if you own a site and post junk articles all over the place without regards to making sure you write decent content, you are going to lose in the rankings. Not only that, you will waste a lot of time. Luckily, an SEO firm will help you focus on quality content, which will help you get to the first page of Google.
Social media: Without a doubt, if you want to run a company, you will need to use social media to reach out to clients. Furthermore, in the future, people will want to use social media to rise in the rankings. Simply put, if you are going to do well, Thinkit Media can help you get there. Then, when doing so and getting a great presence setup, you are going to do well in SEO. At the same time, your Internet presence on the social media sites will help you find more clients with ease. To take it further, site owners should try to use multiple social media sites to reach out to more people as not everyone uses the major sites such as Facebook and Twitter.
Keywords sparingly, but no too sparingly: Previously, people used to use a keyword too much and still get results. However, Google is not stupid, and the leading search engine will punish a site owner if he or she uses content with high too many of the same keywords over and over. Instead, a site owner should aim for about 1-2.0 percent keyword density. That way, you can show Google what the site is about, all without writing weird sounding and annoying content. Fortunately, with SEO, you can do so and get to the top of page one. Remember, if you use the same keyword too often, you will bother your readers and hurt your SEO chances.
Frequent blog posts: Finally, if you want to succeed with SEO, you will want to post often to your blog. Think about it, if you are going to impress your readers and show of your product or service to them, you will want to post often. Then, with SEO, you can communicate with your followers and enjoy a higher conversion rates. While true, you need to concentrate on the other factors mentioned above as a site owner who posts too frequently runs the risk of putting up boring, uninteresting or dredged up content. Yes, if you have a blog and want to enjoy success with it, you will want to put out interesting and useful information, all with the right keyword usage.
Without a doubt, when running a site, one must understand future SEO trends. When one knows what is to come, he or she is likely to do well in the future. In fact, it’s the only way to survive in many industries as it’s hard to do well without getting on the front pages of the search engine results.
The adult industry is undoubtedly one of the biggest markets out there and even though most of our nation frowns upon the thought of it, it’s big business. I understand we don’t want our kids to see it, but they will…eventually. It often makes me wonder if we weren’t so against it, if it would still be as big as it is. Or would it be even bigger.
When it comes to the online market, the adult industry has always been big because it gave the user the anonymity that most preferred without having to pull over to some abandoned looking building on the outskirts of town and do the ultimate walk of shame…twice. The adult related keywords are highly searched and if you were to take a guess who would dominate these terms, like ‘sex’, who would you guess? How about Funny or Die?
I hadn’t received a newsletter from them in a while, until the other day. It made me wonder if the website has lost it’s position as it had a couple of years ago. What I found was kind of shocking. If you do a search for “sex” in Google, you’ll find FOD right at the top. What is even more amazing is to view what SEMRush knows about them. They dominate the sex related keywords. They do have videos that parody sexually related skits, but it’s far from being a porn site. What they have done is found an angle to shoot traffic through the roof, which I’m sure coincided with ad revenue. When imagining Will Ferrell having a business meeting to discuss all of this, all I can see is this.
According to the SEMRush traffic graph, their traffic almost doubled from Nov’13 to Dec’13
Then look at their keyword domination and you’ll see that ‘sex’ makes up for a third of their traffic and they have over 40k page one results with most being adult related
Since search engines really aren’t keen on porn, why not make your site relevant to a busy market in some form so you can boost your traffic? FOD’s biggest competition, when it comes to this topic, is Break.com. Their graphs show they fair a little better in the number of page 1 results.
Their traffic has increased recently:
And their keyword breakdown:
After some fun with excel, I took the top 200 keywords for FOD, and sorted them by shortest words first. The shorter keywords are always harder to rank for versus the longer keywords. Enjoy the list.
|s ex||1||0.01||blw jobs||1||0|
|se x||1||0.03||call sex||1||0|
|a xxx||2||0||ex tapes||1||0|
|bo ob||1||0||fail sex||1||0|
|i sex||1||0||film sex||2||0.03|
|o xxx||3||0||gal sexy||1||0|
|r xxx||3||0||hand sex||3||0|
|se xy||1||0||hot giol||2||0|
|sex a||2||0||hot girl||2||0.31|
|sex i||1||0||hot glrl||1||0|
|sex t||1||0||hot grij||2||0|
|tit s||2||0||hot gril||2||0|
|xxx i||3||0||hot grul||2||0|
|xxx w||1||0||hot jirl||1||0|
|sexy g||1||0||leak sex||1||0|
|slu ts||1||0||leov sex||3||0|
|but sex||1||0.02||naked wo||3||0|
|eva sex||1||0||niga sex||1||0|
|hot gir||2||0||nude pic||2||0.04|
|hot grl||2||0||nude piz||2||0|
|lol sex||1||0||nufe pic||2||0|
|nud pik||2||0||nuid pic||2||0|
|pic sex||3||0.01||poan pic||3||0|
|sax hot||2||0||pube pic||2||0|
|sax www||1||0||s3x tape||1||0|
|sex lol||1||0||saxy grl||1||0|
|sex pec||1||0||sex apes||1||0|
|sex rea||2||0||sex call||1||0|
|sex sex||3||0.01||sex fail||1||0.01|
|sexy gi||3||0||sex guro||1||0|
|snl tsa||2||0||sex indu||2||0|
|tap sex||1||0||sex leak||1||0|
|xex cam||2||0||sex real||1||0|
|xxx img||1||0||sex tale||2||0|
|xxx vdo||1||0||sex tape||3||0.26|
|xxx xxx||1||0.03||sex taps||2||0|
|blo jobs||3||0||show sxe||2||0|
As a brand, Jack Daniels does a magnificent job of marketing online. And while much has been said about their content-driven digital marketing strategy and their adept and calculated approach to social media , I was reminded just yesterday that their true marketing genius extends far beyond our computers and smart phones.
I have been a proud, card-carrying member of the Tennessee Squire Association since 1998 and since that time I’ve come to realize what a brilliant marketer this brand really is. You see, being a Squire is really just a novelty. A little talked about “club” whose members receive a 2″x 2″ plot of land at the distillery (complete with a deed), a membership card, quirky update letters every few months & even small gifts from time to time. (I do love the annual calendar I receive every year!)
Yesterday’s mail brought me one of said letters that I’d like to share. It’s from Randy “Goose” Baxter and while I won’t transcribe it here, you can click on the image to read it if you like. It’s not the actual content of the letter that impresses me. (I mean, I’d never heard of musk thistle before and was even more oblivious to the fact that it has a natural predator in the musk thistle weevil.) It’s the consistency with which they come that impresses me. It’s the diversity and creativity of each message that impresses me. It’s the mirage of exclusivity that impresses me.
Jack Daniels created the Squire Association back in the 1950’s as a way to appease antsy patrons who couldn’t get their hands on enough of their whiskey. The brand exploded when it was popularized by stars like Frank Sinatra and the distillery simply couldn’t keep up with demand. So, the Squire idea was born as a way to pacify their anxious community and build incredible loyalty while the company was working to increase production. Talk about social media! Well. Done.
It comes as no surprise to me that they are doing so well online. The storytelling that began around the stills in Lynchburg back in 1866 continues today through the interactive timeline on their website, their social channels and those quirky letters. Their 4.6 million likes on Facebook is overshadowed only by the high-level of active engagement you’ll find on their page. Jack Daniels has taught a master class on brand-building and customer loyalty. Jasper Newton himself would be very proud, I’m sure.
Oh, and their whiskey is awesome, too.