Google in 2014 – What’s changed and how to take advantage of it

Google in 2014 – What’s changed and how to take advantage of it
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Recently I presented at Interactive Minds in Brisbane about Search Marketing: What’s changed and how it affects your ROI. It was a great event, and I presented alongside other industry experts – Nic Blair from Search Factory, and Rhys Thomas from Google.

For those that didn’t get to attend, I’ve uploaded a slightly modified version of my presentation, which you can find right here (including some explanatory notes below). Google has introduced lots of changes in the last few months. This presentation will take you through the changes and how to take advantage of them. Protect yourself against future Google penalties, and know the RIGHT way to build links in 2014.

Notes:

Slide 2: Love or Hate Matt Cutts? Everyone is entitled to their own opinion, and when you’ve been hit by a Google penalty it can be easy to hate, but it’s usually for good reason.

Google is constantly making changes to try and deliver better search results to users. Sometimes these updates can have negative effects, but most of the time they do actually improve the search quality for people searching on Google.

Slide 3/5: Hummingbird – Google algorithm update has built a capability to understand conversational search queries much better than before. Ability to effectively address conversational queries and match content based on synonyms.

Nothing has changed. If you have original, high-quality content, and you have high-quality and relevant websites linking to your own website, then your website is still going to rank well. If anything, your website’s rankings will improve just as they should have after the Penguin and Panda updates rolled out.

Think about topics rather than keywords when considering content creation. What questions does the page answer? Are there synonyms for the topic that can be used on the page?
Hire qualified, capable people for both writing and SEO. Just because someone is good at SEO doesn’t mean they can write copy that is clear and compelling, and most writers aren’t trained to do SEO.

Slide 6: Not all sunshine and rainbows – plenty of people have been hit by penalties from previous “cheap” SEO efforts. Even if it was done 5 or 6 years ago, it can still hurt you NOW. So far I’ve removed 5 (out of 5) manual penalties. Hitting some big players now – Expedia, Interflora etc.

Slide 7: Penalties can mean lots of lost revenue – if you’re not on page 1, nobody will find you.

Slide 11: PPP sites = Porn, pills or poker. Only keep quality sites – if in doubt, throw it out.

Slide 12: Keep a spreadsheet with all your link cleanup so you can submit this to Google with your reconsideration request.

Slide 26: Matt Cutts has announced war against poor quality guest blogging.

Slide 27: The perfect example of how to get your request for a guest post IGNORED. It’s clearly written by an outsourced SEO that hasn’t bothered to read any content on my website.

What’s in it for me? How would it benefit me/my readers? Where’s the unique/useful/interesting angle? If the author had even bothered to look at my website, he would’ve seen that I already have a comprehensive guide on this topic.

Slide 31-33: Link building outreach – use personality e.g. the Doug DeMuro example. Much better cut through – remember it’s a real person with a real personality that you’re trying to connect with!

Slide 37: Everyone says “create great content” but nobody does it. You need to create the BEST. Find what people are already linking to and make it BETTER. Choose subjects that aren’t time sensitive.

Slide 38: Any other company/place/site you mention, link to them. It’s a service to your users. Then CONTACT those people and let them know! They’ll mention it everywhere.

Slide 40: This client had been using Google AdWords for years. They had an external PPC manager for about 4 years (before I came to the job). The results were like a burger from McDonalds – average at best. If they were lucky, they’d break even but most months were actually losing money. Any suggestions about new things they could try were usually met with “we tried that before and it didn’t work” (from the previous PPC manager).

Slide 42: We get external audits once a year for SEO even though we have our own team. The experts aren’t always experts! I’m not suggesting that you ditch your company every 12 months, but get someone from OUTSIDE to see the things that those close to the situation can’t see.

Slide 43-45: Upon closer inspection into the AdWords accounts, we discovered so many glaring problems. I’ll share them with you in the hope that you may find and be able to fix some of the same problems in your own accounts.

-Search/display – ALWAYS want to treat campaigns separately and optimise accordingly.
-one ad displaying for hundreds of keywords – can’t optimise well
-7 different ads showing for one keyword, OR only one ad showing (nothing to test against)

The amount you pay in the AdWords auction is based on your quality score. Quality score is a calculation of your historical CPC, landing page quality, and keyword relevancy.

Don’t let Google optimise for clicks. Sometimes the best performing ads actually show up less!

Broad and phrase match causing keyword overlap (i.e. the same keywords appearing for multiple ad groups). Use negative keywords to counter.

Bid optimisation We are overbidding on some poor performing keywords and underbidding on potential money spinners.

Slide 47: It seems as though every week or two there’s a new post somewhere proclaiming the death of SEO. While SEO isn’t dead, it has certainly made some massive shifts over the last couple of years.

Slide 48: Google penalties are here to stay, and they’re making a big impact – in the last few months some big brands have felt the wrath of Google, including Expedia, Forbes, a number of newspapers, Hugo Boss and Interflora.

Slide 50: Penalties – It was a real wake up call what can happen if you rely too heavily on organic Google traffic. What happens if you get hit again, hit harder, or (even worse) hit on your big money-making site?

Slide 51: Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. SEO is great, and it’s certainly not dead, but there are plenty of other great ways of diversifying where your customers come from.

As an example, here are some other things we’ve either started doing, or put a renewed focus on. Many you may be able to apply to your own business, and some may spark other ideas.

Please leave your questions in the comments below and I’ll be happy to answer any of them!

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