The State of SEO: Google algorithm updates and best practices

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58 percent of leisure and 64 percent of business travelers begin with search engines (Kenshoo) and if your website isn’t even showing up in Google's search results you might as well still be paying for an advertisement in the Yellow Pages.

Google continues to change how it ranks websites like yours and if you’re not staying up-to-date with these algorithm changes, such as Panda or Penguin, your website could be penalized without you even knowing it!

Liz Day covers the current state of search engine optimization (SEO), our recommended best practices as a result of Google’s algorithm updates, and how a strong organic presence can help maximize your online revenue.

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  • Been with RezStream for 4 years
  • So we’re a small company, but we have a lot of love for the travel industry which really appealed to to me when I took the job 4 years ago because well, I love travel and I was going to be able to become an expert in the field, not just a jack of all trades

    Reservation software is the foundation of the company and we’re currently in Beta testing for the new reservation software release which is expected to launch in the next few months
    Online booking engine includes a desktop and a mobile booking engine
    Website design services include custom and template website solutions
    Digital marketing services include SEO, PPC, Social Media and Email Marketing services
  • If your site cannot be found by the search engines, i.e. Google, Bing and Yahoo!, or your content cannot be put into their databases, you are missing out on incredible growth opportunities.
    So what do I mean by organic? Click next slide!
  • Businesses have two opportunities when it comes to search engine marketing: 1) organic search listings and/or 2) paid search listings
    Organic search results are located within the green border that is not blurred out
    SEO is the tactic you perform to increase your organic exposure
    Paid search results are located within the orange border that is blurred out
    Pay per click (PPC) advertising is the tactic you perform to increase your paid search exposure
    RezStream recommends doing both tactics, but if you have to choose between the two for budgeting purposes, SEO is what we recommend focusing on since you’re not paying anything when a visitor clicks on your business’ organic listing (which is the case for pay per click advertising)
  • So how does Google and the other search engines determine your results? Algorithms!
    What are algorithms? Algorithms are mathematical equations to determine high quality pages from poor quality pages
    Unfortunately, Google doesn’t share their exact equation with us so we don’t know everything Google is evaluating when rendering search results to their users, but some factors that Google does include in their algorithms are provided when they conduct major updates
  • 500 is a lot. However, these updates can be either minor tweaks that you don’t even notice or they can be really big updates that can impact your website’s organic exposure.
    Because Google and the other search engines are constantly updating their algorithm, it’s important to have a professional on your side to keep you ahead of the curve
    During MozCon, I had an “aha” moment as Oprah likes to call it. One of the speakers said “SEO is not a project. There’s no end date- it’s a constant work in progress” which makes total sense.
    Google and the other search engines will never stop making updates because they want to constantly improve their users experience. Therefore, you should never have the mindset that SEO is a set it and forget it tactic. It’s constantly evolving based on the changes that are being made so you need to be adjusting your strategy accordingly.
  • They want to provide their users with the best information and experience possible!
    Now that we know more about Google and how the search engines work, let’s talk about some of the major updates Google has made over the past years and the goal behind each one.
  • Google’s goal for Panda was to prevent websites/pages that offer users poor content or information from showing up in their search results
    Google doesn’t want to provide poor information to their users!
    So what does Google consider to be poor quality content? They have a blog outlining all the guidelines so I encourage you to go out and read it so you are aware of how Google is judging your website’s content, but some popular characteristics include
    Misspellings
    Not enough text on each page, i.e. 1-2 sentences per page
    Duplicate content meaning several pages on your website that have the exact copy
    The next update …
  • Penguin was focused on punishing websites that were engaging in spammy link practices.
    What do I mean by “spammy” link practices? Examples include having your website listed on websites that are completely irrelevant to what your business offers, i.e. pet friendly lodging directory when you’re not a pet friendly property. It doesn’t make sense and it’s confusing to the user!
    You want to be careful who you are linking to … Google looks at this information!
  • Hummingbird is often referred to as the conversational algorithm update
    Google was no longer just focusing on the words of the searchers query- but the search engine was taking previous search history and your location and time into context before rendering results
  • Think of a link as a vote
    In the past, it was all about getting the most votes for Google to consider your site as being an authority whereas now, it’s not so much the quantity as it is about the quality
  • A title tag or title element is the summary of your pages content, much like a headline of a news article it should accurately and concisely convey the page’s content.
    This element is critical to both user experience and SEO, the user wants to know what information they’ll find on that page and the search engines use that tag to make sure they’re presenting the searcher with what they want.
  • First things first! Review your Google Analytics!
    How to identify poor quality pages on your website? Look at the visitor metrics like bounce rate, exit rate, new users, time on site, etc.
    If it’s unrelated content that is not useful to your audience like an old event page, don’t spend the time attempting to make it more useful, kill the page. For example, if you notice that an old holiday page is performing poorly, does it make sense for you to invest resources into making that better or more relevant to your audience? Probably not.
    It’s important to conduct an audit of your site’s content because it could hurt your future efforts, i.e. poor quality pages will bring your potential new pages performance down
    SEO and social should be working together. For our clients who using both services, we have conversations with Stephanie, our social media specialist, all the time about potential content building opportunities for those clients. She can tell us what people LOVE reading about which can then give us ideas on what topics we should focus on when it comes to creating new pages so I encourage you to look at your own posts to identify what’s engaging to your audience and then using that as a great resource in developing new pages.
  • Travel: property videos, recommended restaurants in your area, itineraries, top 10 lists, upcoming events, guest interviews,
  • Schema was developed by the search engines
    The reason behind it was of course the users. So what did they do? They offered us, marketers, the opportunity to enhance your organic search listings to offer more information to their searchers in the search results.
    Some key benefits:
    It’s FREEEEEEEEEE
    Eye catching results because they’re bigger and offer more information
    By the listings taking more real estate on the results page, you could attract more clicks and traffic to your website
    Offering more information to the searchers based on what they’re looking for
  • The engagement you receive on your Google listing, the more exposure Google will offer you in search exposure via listings
  • Make sure to fill out the listing featuring all your business’ information: tag line, introduction, contact info, website and links
    Make sure your page is verified. You know if your page is verified by seeing the check mark next to your name and next to the website URL
    You can verify your URL and business email address
    Once the page is filled out, make sure to encourage reviews! The more engagement you have your page, the chances of Google displaying your listing above your competitors increases.
    Listings like your Google My Business are important for local businesses because they help your business receive exposure in the local listing section in Google, Bing and Yahoo!
  • Visit your website on your smartphone to see how easy it is to make an online booking from navigating the pages to making an online reservation
    Responsive websites reside on the same URL as your desktop website and size to your device screen
    Because responsive websites sit on the same URL (they do not redirect to a m. or mobi URL), it’s easier for Google because Google has to do less thinking
    However, it’s important that whatever type of mobile friendly website you go with, that it’s quick to load
    It’s so important to Google that they created a PageSpeed tool that will help you identify how to speed up loading times
  • The State of SEO: Google algorithm updates and best practices

    1. 1. THE STATE OF SEO Liz Day 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    2. 2. SUMMARY 1 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 • About me • Google updates • Panda • Penguin • Hummingbird • Best practices
    3. 3. ABOUT ME 2 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 • Liz Day • Digital Marketing Account Manager at RezStream • California born, Illinois raised and Colorado transplant • Dog enthusiast, not yet owner • Oldest of 5 kids
    4. 4. ABOUT REZSTREAM 3 of 31 www.rezstream.com • RezStream has been providing solutions to the hospitality industry since the company was founded in 2005. • Located in Denver, Colorado • 21 employees • Majority of our clients are independently owned properties. • RezStream’s hospitality solutions include: • Reservation Software • Online Booking Engine • Website Design Services • Digital Marketing Services • Other services include GDS, Photography & Videography 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    5. 5. 4 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 GOOGLE UPDATES
    6. 6. GOOGLE UPDATES 5 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 What is SEO? Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the practice of improving and promoting a website in order to increase the site’s organic exposure in the search engines.
    7. 7. GOOGLE UPDATES 6 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    8. 8. GOOGLE UPDATES 7 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 How does Google and the other search engines determine my search results? Search engines like Google craft mathematical equations – algorithms – to determine quality website pages from poor quality website pages. From there, Google ranks the quality pages based on the algorithm.
    9. 9. GOOGLE UPDATES 8 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 Each year, Google updates its search algorithm around 500-600 times.
    10. 10. GOOGLE UPDATES 9 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 Why does Google and the other search engines make algorithm updates? To provide users with high quality, relevant information.
    11. 11. GOOGLE UPDATES 10 of 31 www.rezstream.com Panda updates are generally focused around the content on your website. The algorithm determines quality content, internal linking and any signs of content spam. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 PANDA UPDATE (Initially launched in February 2011)
    12. 12. GOOGLE UPDATES 11 of 31 www.rezstream.com PENGUIN UPDATE (Initially launched in April 2012) Penguin algorithm updates have been solely focused on unnatural inbound links to your website from third party sites. Google has made it very clear they want sites to have natural quality links versus a large quantity of links that are irrelevant to the websites’ industry. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    13. 13. GOOGLE UPDATES 12 of 31 www.rezstream.com It was named “Hummingbird” because it is “precise and fast”. Google pushed this update to better understand their searchers meaning behind each search query, i.e. location. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 HUMMINGBIRD UPDATE (Initially launched in August 2013)
    14. 14. GOOGLE UPDATES 13 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 HUMMINGBIRD UPDATE (Inititally launched in August 2013)
    15. 15. 14 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 BEST PRACTICES
    16. 16. LINKING| BEST PRACTICES 15 of 31 www.rezstream.com • Don’t go out and build links for the sake of building links If you get the wrong links, Google will penalize you. • Ensure all links are relevant, i.e. TripAdvisor Links provide relevancy clues that are tremendously valuable for search engines. • Create a compelling reason for other sites to link to yours The safest and most proven way to build quality, inbound links for your website or blog is to create useful or entertaining content. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    17. 17. TITLE TAG| BEST PRACTICES 16 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 “If your webpage was a store on the side of a busy highway, the title tag's job would be to capture attention and get people in the door.” -Moz
    18. 18. TITLE TAG| BEST PRACTICES 17 of 31 www.rezstream.com A great title tag can result in more clicks and more traffic to your site, while a poorly crafted title can cause people to skip over your site and visit one of your competitors. • Keep title tags relevant to the page • Keep title tags unique to each page • Avoid keyword stuffing • And … 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    19. 19. TITLE TAG| BEST PRACTICES 18 of 31 www.rezstream.com • Keep title tags to 55 characters or less to display full title tag 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 Google's search engine results page redesign increased the font size of title tags.
    20. 20. CONTENT| BEST PRACTICES 19 of 31 www.rezstream.com Content can be either visual, auditory, or written. It includes everything from blog posts, articles, website pages, social media posts, infographics, photos and video. • Review your Google Analytics to identify poor quality pages on your website and revise to reflect high quality content. • Does this content help my users? If not, remove it from your site. • How can you make your customers lives easier by solving a common problem they face? • Review your social media analytics to discover new opportunities. • Create an editorial calendar. • Hire a professional to write your website’s content. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    21. 21. CONTENT| BEST PRACTICES 20 of 31 www.rezstream.com • Make sure each page answers a question to prevent getting penalized for the page(s) being “too thin” or of “low-quality.” 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    22. 22. CONTENT| BEST PRACTICES 21 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    23. 23. SCHEMA| BEST PRACTICES 22 of 31 www.rezstream.com Schema is a type of micro data that makes it easier for search engines to parse and interpret the information on your web pages more effectively so they can serve relevant results to users based on search queries, i.e. people, food recipes, events and reviews. Benefits of Schema include: • It’s FREE • Eye catching results • Potential increase in clicks via search results • Offer quality results to searchers 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 “Pages with Schema.org integration rank better by an average of four positions compared to pages without Schema.org markup.” -Searchmetrics
    24. 24. SCHEMA| BEST PRACTICES 23 of 31 www.rezstream.com You can promote a variety of information utilizing Schema including: • Packages and specials • Contact information, i.e. Phone Number, Email Address • Reviews • Upcoming event • Logo • Interaction amount, i.e. 20 “likes”, 5 comments, 200 downloads • And more … 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    25. 25. SCHEMA| BEST PRACTICES 24 of 31 www.rezstream.com Schema can be added to any page on your website. RezStream recommends working with your site developer to get various types of Schema added. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 “Less than 1 percent of websites have implemented Schema.org markup.” -Searchmetrics
    26. 26. GOOGLE+| BEST PRACTICES 25 of 31 www.rezstream.com Google offers marketers the opportunity to interact with visitors through many more touch points, including YouTube and directly in search results. This means that for visitors who engage with you through Google+, the potential traffic channels multiply. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 “The number of people who interact socially with any Google products on a monthly basis now reportedly exceeds 500 million.” -USA Today
    27. 27. GOOGLE+| BEST PRACTICES 26 of 31 www.rezstream.com • Include a “Tagline”, an engaging “Introduction”, offer all “Contact Info”, link “Website” and take advantage of the “Links” section. 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    28. 28. MOBILE| BEST PRACTICES 27 of 31 www.rezstream.com A responsive website allows visitors to access all pages and information about the property. Offering an accessible website for every user on every device is a must! 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 “US mobile travel sales to increase 60% in 2014.” -eMarketer
    29. 29. 28 of 31 www.rezstream.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210 Google offers best practices when it comes to mobile-friendly websites. Make sure to follow to prevent your site from being penalized. “67% of the time when we're using a PC we're also using another device.” -Google MOBILE| BEST PRACTICES
    30. 30. CONCLUSION 29 of 31 www.rezstream.com • Be aware of Google’s search engine updates to maximize exposure • Relevant linking and natural acquisition through content • Revise title tags to reflect 55 characters or less • Develop and promote engaging content for your customers • Implement schema on website to beef up your site’s search engine results • Claim, verify, optimize and manage your property’s Google+ page • Ensure your site is mobile-friendly 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    31. 31. CONNECT 30 of 31 www.rezstream.com Website: www.RezStream.com Email: Liz.Day@RezStream.com Social Media: – www.Facebook.com/RezStream – www.Twitter.com/RezStream – www.Plus.Google.com/+Rezstream – www.RezStream.com/Blog 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210
    32. 32. www.rezstream.com Image Credit: 451Heat.com ArmstrongRE.com CHLA.com FineArtTips.com ChameleOnWebServices.co.uk MarketingEpic.com MasterGoogle.com ReviewsOnTech.com Business2Community.com Moz.com CPCStrategy.com LeanForward.com SearchMuse.com 3801 E Florida Ave. Suite 800 Denver, CO 80210 Sales: 866-360-8210

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