How Long Does It Take to Rank in Google Infographic

The usual answer to this burning question is ‘it depends’. Luckily, thanks to a study from marketing data company Ahrefs, we finally have a more concrete answer.

In order to determine the average age of the pages in Google Top 10 results, the team from Ahrefs took 2 million random keywords and pulled data on the Top 10 ranking pages for each of them. The results showed that the average Top 10 ranking page is 2+ years old, while those that rank at position #1 are almost 3 years old on average. In fact, only 22% of pages that currently rank in the Top 10 were created within 1 year.

The study then looked at what percentage of pages at each ranking position were less than 1 year old, and it turned out that the search engine results page (SERP) is dominated by “old“ pages.

To answer the question of how long it takes for a page to rank in Google, Ahrefs randomly selected  2 million pages that were first seen by their crawler a year ago and then tracked the position history of each page for any keyword it’s ranked for.

If you want to find out what they discovered, check out the comprehensive infographic below by The Website Group.

How long it takes to rank top of Google is a question we get asked daily... infograph helps explain

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New Study Finds Average Load Time for a Mobile Page is 22 Seconds

What We Can Learn from New Mobile Page Speed Insights

Mobile benchmarks are changing rapidly.

According to an article on Think With Google titled Find Out How You Stack Up To New Industry Benchmarks for Mobile Page Speed, the average loading time for a mobile page is 22 seconds.

This is an outrageous number considering that 53% of mobile visitors to your site won’t stick around unless your page loads in under 3 seconds.

Somehow, most websites are missing the “3 second” mark!

In this article, we will talk about what you can do to improve your mobile page load times, and also briefly indicate areas over which you have no control whatsoever. Let’s get started!

1. Optimize for Mobile Speed or Risk High Bounce Rates and Low Conversions.

Web traffic from mobile is more than half of overall web traffic. In their study, Google analyzed over 900,000 mobile landing pages from 126 countries. Results were not surprising but were also not impressive.

Over 70% of mobile pages took over 10 seconds to load completely. That included all visual content from above and below the fold.

Google used a deep neural network (which had 90% prediction accuracy) and was modeled on the nervous system and brain of a human. As page load times increase proportionately from 1 – 7 seconds, probable visitor bounce rates increased by 113%.

If the quantity of page elements increases from 400 – 6,000, conversion probability drops by 95%. Moreover, there were other interesting revelations.

2. Page size correlates with page speed.

Of the pages that were examined the following stats were revealed:

  • 70% of pages were over 1MB in size
  • 36% of pages were over 2MB in size
  • 12% of pages were over 4 MB in size

A 1.49MB page takes 7 seconds to load over a fast 3G connection according to Google.

Customers are already long gone before the page has even completely presented itself. One site totaled out at 16MB. You do not stand a chance of impressing a mobile visitor with such slow download speed.

3. Improve mobile benchmarks by reducing content and images, where possible.

  1. Compress your site content and images. For more than 30% of pages examined, a decrease in page size of 250KB could occur after compression.
  2. Examine your site design and determine if a less intense image strategy overall could improve your page load speed.
  3. Review your article content and ascertain the feasibility of reducing article imagery or minimizing content.
  4. Contemplate splitting some articles in two. This strategy might expedite mobile access. It also presents double the ranking opportunity.
  5. Remove what is not absolutely necessary from site pages. Slideshows can be a resource and speed hog, as are image galleries.

4. Accept that there are some mobile benchmarks over which you have no control.

No one can know the wireless connection speed a site visitor might be experiencing. A site that loaded in under 2 seconds at home over WiFi might take 7 seconds or more depending on their mobile carrier due to network constraints, network traffic, disruption of communication equipment, areas of coverage, and the list goes on.

Essentially, you can optimize your site until the cows are all safely in the barn, but it’s the points between your server and the phone to which your site data is being served that ultimately make the difference.

Key Takeaways for Mobile Page Speed Benchmarks

  1. Be as careful as you can about the creation of your mobile pages, decreasing sizes wherever possible.
  2. Use the Google Mobile Page Speed Checker to evaluate your own website.
  3. Keep a close eye on your mobile website page speed over time to make sure it stays as fast as possible.

For specific information about optimizing your website for mobile, chat with one of our experts at 1st on the List. We’ve been around longer than Google, and have some unique insights on optimizing for mobile.

Call us now at 1-888-262-6687!

Be sure to check out our additional articles about Page Speed and Site Performance:

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Best Local SEO Tips and Resources for 2017

Local search has become a de facto standard for businesses that service consumers in specific locales. Your online presences is just as important (if not more important) than your offline presence.

If you are new to the scene of Local SEO and search optimization for your local or small business, here are five Google local SEO tips to help you navigate through the steps needed to ensure that your business has the presence it needs to earn the Search Engine Results Page (SERP) results you deserve.

1. Attractive and Click-Worthy Title and Meta Descriptions

This is often an overlooked opportunity by many local SEO campaigns. These HTML elements are customizable features which are used to represent your website in search results. Typically, titles range from 50 – 60 characters and descriptions can range up to 200 characters.

In years past these titles and descriptions were used to incorporate keywords and help with rankings. Current SEO best practices tell us to use these titles and descriptions as an opportunity to improve user experience and attract clicks. Your meta titles and descriptions need to be a clear depiction of your page content, be persuasive, and of course specifically unique. Including your city in the description is recommended. Targeted keywords should be as close to the beginning of the paragraph as possible but not at the expense of user readability.

Use this opportunity to set yourself apart – do you offer 24/7 service? Free shipping? 25% off for first time customers?

2. Keep a Consistent and Prominent Online Presence

Whether your business is brand new or has been around for decades and moved locations several times, it is extremely important to make sure that your business name, address and phone number is consistent and visible across the Internet, no matter where someone may find you.

This consistency instills consumer trust and builds your authority. The consistency also plays a large role in your local SEO performance. The Search Engines want to understand your company and have confidence that you are a legitimate company.

Here is a starter list for online business directories where you can establish your presence:

  • Citysearch
  • Merchant Circle
  • YellowPages
  • Yelp
  • Facebook
  • LinkedIn
  • Houzz
  • Local Chamber of Commerce
  • BBB
  • Local Trade Affiliations

3. Claim Your Google My Business (GMB) Listing for Full Control

Over the years Google My Business and Bing Places for Business have built their database of business listings. Even if you have never claimed your business listing the Search Engines may still be showing a listing for you!

It is critical for you to claim this listing so that you have full control over proper categorization of your business, description, address, and business hours.

There is a simple verification process for your GMB listing. Google mails you a postcard containing a PIN number you need for verification purposes. This confirms to Google that you are whom you say you are and indeed own the business you are attempting to claim.

4. Manage, Respond To, and Grow Your Reviews Online

Nowadays, both personal word-of-mouth referrals along with online reviews can influence whether or not we stay at a hotel, eat at a restaurant, hire a plumber, or even order a shirt from an online retailer.

The importance of controlling, managing, and growing customer reviews is finally catching the attention of businesses. A BrightLocal survey indicates that:

  • Online reviews are trusted as much as personal recommendations by 84% of those surveyed.
  • If asked, 70% of consumers will leave a review.
  • Positive reviews encourage 54% of consumers to visit a website.
  • Local businesses are trusted more when they have positive online reviews.
  • Less than 10 reviews are read before a consumer forms an opinion.
  • Reviews older than 3 months are not deemed relevant by consumers.
  • Over half of consumers agree that star ratings are important.

Seeking quality reviews on an ongoing basis is good business practice and keeps your brand in the forefront of consumers’ minds, helps you stand out from competitors, and also helps to minimize the one-off bad review you may get.

Don’t have the time or find it awkward to ask your customers for reviews? Consider our online Reputation Management Services that offer a fully automated software system that actually works behind the scenes to grow your reviews.

5. Structured Data Markup for Local

This markup language provides more information about your business to Google once it has been implemented in your website code. Most businesses use only the basic markup. This provides opportunities for business owners to outdistance their competitors by utilizing uncommonly used markup.

Google has a Structured Data Testing Tool you can use to determine if your markup implementation meets the required standards.

Want to learn more about how to win at Local SEO? Here are some additional articles by other SEOs in the industry as well as articles by our own team:

You can also call 1st on the List at 1-888-262-6687 if you have specific questions. We’d love to help you optimize your business for Local Search!

Additional Local SEO Marketing Tips and Articles:

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Can Grammar Issues Eliminate Featured Snippets in Google Search?

Recently Britney Muller of Moz Blog indicated in a brief article titled Does Google Drop Featured Snippets Over Typos? on the Search Engine RoundTable site that a simple typographical error was the probable cause behind Moz losing a featured snippet.

When the error was corrected, Moz reportedly regained the featured snippet in search. As mentioned in the Moz article, the only entity that could confirm or deny this activity would be Google themselves. Without their input we can only speculate.

So do typos, spelling mistakes, and grammar issues stop featured snippets from showing Google Search?

In the instance experienced by Moz, the difference between the word choose and the word chose was the underlying cause. In the article, it only indicates that “…the page had a typo, a spelling mistake.” It wasn’t specified if that spelling mistake was in the page content, in the page URL, or both. That doesn’t provide us with enough information. Here’s what I think happened.

Grammatical Errors Change Featured Snippet Context

If the URL was spelled correctly, but the on-page content was not (or vice versa), I could see Google having grammatical issues with the page vs. the URL.

Choose = (verb) Simple present tense and future tense

Chose = (verb) Simple past tense

The difference in tenses might suggest that Google interpreted the feature snippet compared to the URL. One of them was not linguistically correct.

Grammatical Errors & Featured Snippets Linguistics

Most of us may not think a simple typo should warrant the change that Moz experienced. However, Google has teams of linguists working to correct just such grammatical errors. It’s possible that Moz experienced one of the changes that Google initiated based on recommendations from their linguistic staff.

In a Quora post titled What do linguists at Google do? from 2014, Dave Orr (a Google employee at that time) responded:

“If you have a working system, it will get stuff wrong. What is it getting wrong and why, and how do we fix it? Linguists help answer those questions.”

Eliminate Grammatical Errors & Featured Snippets

Grammatical errors should probably be a concern for anyone writing content for SEO purposes. Muller hypothesizes that Google could have just been doing some testing, which altered the listing temporarily.

However, on a larger scale in the grand scheme of things we know that Google is constantly striving for better quality content. Behind Google’s masterminding stands a team of linguists. We should all be striving to make our content more grammatically correct and typo-free to appease the experts on this team.

Correct Grammatical Errors in Featured Snippet SEO Content

If you ever have to ask yourself the question “Why did we lose a Featured Snippet?”, it should not be because of a typo, or because past tense was used instead of simple present tense. Content has to become linguistically-friendly if we expect it to fly through Google’s ever-widening bevy of tests.

Give yourself a head start on the daunting linguistic issues by using programs such as Grammarly, Hemingway App, and a host of others to check, recheck, and triple check your content before posting.

Your site visitors will appreciate clear, concise, grammatically correct content. So will Google. To adequately serve both of these masters, you will need to set up your writing skills to match the ever-evolving world of SEO.

If your content needs a literary boost, call 1st on the List today for more information on SEO Content writing at 1-888-262-6687.

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Understanding Crawl Budgets and How to Increase Your Website Crawl Budget with Google

Google admitted in their Webmaster Central Blog on January 16, 2017, that they don’t have an official “crawl budget definition”, indicating that a single term would not suffice. They went on to indicate that they would clarify what they actually have and what it means for Googlebot.

In this article, we will explore what Google has told us about site crawl budget and how it operates.

What is Crawl Budget?

As an SEO, when we talk about crawl budget we are referring to the resources Google will allocate to crawling (or discovering) the pages on your website. The budget could be determined by number of pages and or the time Google will spend crawling. That’s right – Google has limits on how long and how many pages of your website they will crawl!

Should I Be Concerned About My Site Crawl Budget?

For pages crawled on a daily basis, Crawl Budget is not a high priority concern for websites with fewer than 1,000 URLs. As long as there isn’t anything blocking Google out of the site there shouldn’t be issues crawling these pages.

Google stresses that website crawl budgets are more improtant for larger sites.

What are Google’s Limits to Site Crawl Rates?

Crawling is a priority, but Google claims it does so without degrading user experience on the site, instituting crawl rate limits for given sites to minimize that possibility. They define crawl rate limits as the number of simultaneous connections used by Googlebot to crawl, and the wait-time between fetches.

What is Crawl Health?

On websites that respond rapidly to Google crawling its pages, the crawl limits go up, using more connections, and allowing Google to crawl and discover more and more pages. This allows Google to index and rank more and more pages.

For slower sites or those with server errors, the crawl limit is throttled back and fewer pages are crawled as the Googlebot has to wait longer to crawl each page.

Google also reminds website owners you can manually set limits for crawling inside your Google Search Console, but that setting higher limits does not mean they will automatically increase the crawl on your site.

How Frequently are Crawl Demands Made?

If there is little demand from indexing (even when peak crawl rates haven’t been reached) there will be little Googlebot crawl activity.

More popular URLs are usually crawled more consistently to keep Google’s index up-to-date, as another objective for the crawler is to prevent URLs from becoming stale.

Crawls can also be triggered if a website is moved and new URLs need to be re-indexed.

Ultimately, the rate and demand are what define a crawl budget in Google’s eyes.

6 Ways to Improve Your Website Crawl Budget According to Google

Google says that crawl rate is negatively affected by websites with numerous low-value-add pages and categorizes these types of websites into 6 main groups, listed by order of importance.

If your site is large enough to have a Crawl Budget, or if you want to prevent your site from falling under a Crawl Budget, address the following prioritized issues, as applicable.

1. Address URLs with naturally duplicated content.

Faceted navigation (ability to filter pages by price, colour, size, etc.) affects the crawl budget because they contain many combinations of a URL with duplicated content. These prevent Google from crawling new and unique content as quickly or index pages correctly as a result of diluted signals between versions that have been duplicated.

Session identifiers also fall under this list. User info and tracking information stored in these URLs cause duplicated content through the numerous URLs used to access a single page.

2. Minimize duplicate text content from page to page.

On websites with content duplicated across several pages, Google uses algorithms designed to prevent this duplicated content from adversely affecting user-experience or webmaster-experience. Here’s how Google deals with this duplicate content:

  1. When duplicate content is found, the URLs are grouped into a cluster.
  2. The best URL that represents the cluster is chosen and presented in search results.
  3. Properties such as link popularity within the cluster are consolidated and applied to the chosen URL that represents the cluster.

3. Mark old deleted pages with 404 Not Found response.

Crawl rate can be affected by soft error pages that occur when a server responds with a 200 OK response if a page does not exist instead of a 404 Not Found which is more appropriate. This limits site crawling because these old deleted pages might be crawled instead of other live pages on the site.

4.  Deal with any hacked website pages and content ASAP.

If your site has any hacked pages, well, just don’t expect Google to crawl it anytime soon.

5.  Make sure that each URL on your website has its own unique purpose.

Sites affectionately called infinite spaces (sites with an excessive number of URLs) are not high on Google’s list of crawlable content. Make sure that each page you want Google to crawl has its own unique purpose and message. What need does it meet for your visitor?

6. Purge any low quality or spam pages.

Pages containing low quality and spam are right up there with the hacked pages and will negatively affect the crawling rate of the site.

Google determines all six of these areas as a waste of their resources and delays them from discovering the great content of a website.

If you have any questions about Crawl Budget, whether or not your site contains any of the items that might negatively affect your crawl budget, give 1st on the List a call at 1-888-262-6687. You can also reach us through email at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

Learn more about How Search Engines Work to crawl, index, and rank your website!

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SEO Voice Search Trends in 2017

There’s a lot of discussion lately about SEO for voice search and how it’s going to change SEO in many aspects. I tend not only to agree but to also suggest that the acoustic nature of voice search will hasten the development of new ways to present your website data specifically targeted to those using voice search devices.

Many articles about voice search marketing refer to the necessity of preparing for voice, but few make reference to little more than the importance of long tail keywords and lengthier query structures associated with voice search. This, in turn, will mean lengthier content more aptly zeroed in on the voice searcher.

While these might be part of an advantageous SEO strategy to optimize for voice, it can be very difficult to accurately and effectively annotate for mobile search intent and voice search intent within a single website page.

In this article, we will explore several voice search considerations for 2017.

Keyword Text Content vs Voice Content

Some voice search keyword strategies may work for a while, but voice searchers are looking for more than text content. They’re looking for voice content. And as Amine Bentahar wrote in his Forbes article 2017 Will Be The Year Of Voice Search,

“No longer can you simply target a specific keyword, but content and websites need to be more complex, ready to answer the questions that your users have.”

The complexity of presenting for voice search is still in its infancy, and research has presented us with some interesting tangents to follow. In a paper titled Understanding User Satisfaction with Intelligent Assistants,  from March of 2016, Julia Kiseleva et al. studied “how user satisfaction varied with different usage scenarios and what signals can be used for modeling satisfaction in different scenarios.”

We know that Google is all about searcher satisfaction, and they aren’t afraid to reduce the rankings of sites not keeping up with the rest of the flock. Check out our recent article about Google’s interstitial ads penalty update as just one example of their prioritized commitment to the searcher. And, rightfully so. It is the needs of the searcher on which Google’s empire has flourished.

Voice Search Behaviour is Complex

Julia Kiseleva et al went on to write:

“We also study how the nature and complexity of the task at hand affect user satisfaction and found that preserving the conversation context is essential and that overall task-level satisfaction cannot be reduced to query-level satisfaction alone.”

Starting to see what we mean about complexity?

Granted, their voice search research is on intelligent personal assistants, but the searching via these assistants for in-depth queries through online channels are in many ways what will push the edges of emerging dialogue surrounding how voice searches might be optimized.

SEO Keywords for Voice Search Differ from Text Search Keywords

Add to all of this the fact that voice searches and text searches are very different.

At the moment, there’s a lot of theory, conjecture, and hyperbole about SEO for voice search, but little clear direction. In the Forbes article, Bentahar also indicated that “[k]eyword research is needed for how people like to phrase questions out loud, understanding the search terms consumers are likely to use.”

This in and of itself opens an enormous can of regionally-specific, colloquial worms. I can’t help think of the off-kilter, axiom-like joke that Canadians sometimes pass around at parties. It goes something like this. Canadians ask “How’re you doin’, eh? Someone from New York might ask “Eh, how you doin’?

Voice Search Behavior and Good Abandonment

As Julia Kiselev et al. wrote in their paper:

“We know that user satisfaction for mobile web search is already very different. So we cannot assume that users who do not interact with the SERP are dissatisfied. This problem of ‘good’ abandonment received a lot of interest in recent years.”

I have found the same. After reading a couple of papers on good abandonment including  Good Abandonment in Mobile and PC Internet Search, and Detecting Good Abandonment in Mobile Search I came to the conclusion that good abandonment (the act of nothing after mobile search results are displayed to the mobile searcher) can’t possibly be construed as much of anything. The absence of something (searcher action post-query), does not indicate the presence of something else, (searcher satisfaction).

I think that the search engine research community have aligned themselves so closely with good abandonment because frankly, there are yet no other identifiable means of determining what an abandoned search means. Stop and think about this logic …

Picture yourself sitting in a doctor’s office waiting to be called into the examination room. You pull out your phone and enter a search into Google for a company name that you saw on the side of a vehicle on your way to the doctor’s office. Just as the SERP finishes loading, you’re called into the examination room. You put your phone to sleep, but the browser is still open. You forget about it until you are about half way home again. Is that too considered good abandonment?

There are dozens of similar scenarios where good abandonment makes no sense whatsoever. You can’t assume something about voice abandonment any more than you should associate lack of interaction with the browser post-text-search as good abandonment. The phrase good abandonment is at best a term used because there is no other data on which to quantify abandoned search results.

Voice Search Optimized Content for User Experience

In his article SEO Trends for 2017: Why Voice Search and Mobile Could Be Big, Sam Saidman wrote that SEO companies need to “provide voice search-optimized content that benefits the user’s experience.”

But no one clearly knows for certain what voice search-optimized content looks like yet. At the moment, the search engines hold all the cards, and the closest SEOs could hope for is a glimpse at server logs for voice searches.

Additional Voice Search Usage and Statistics – Voice Search Queries Still Far From Natural Language

Fortunately, researchers like Ido Guy can give us some ideas of what to focus on. Guy is a Principal Research Engineer at Yahoo Research. In his paper Searching by Talking: Analysis of Voice Queries on Mobile Web Search, Guy shares “we (presumably Yahoo!) perform a query log analysis of half a million voice queries, issued to the mobile application of a commercial web search engine, over a period of six months.”

Not only was the voice query log analyzed, it was compared to sample text queries on mobile of the same relative size.

Guy further reports that:

“…(w)e provide empirical evidence, based on language modeling, that voice queries are closer to natural language than text queries, yet are still distant from natural question language.”

The analysis was based on 500,000 random voice queries performed by 50,000 unique searchers, over a period of 6 months in 2015. Voice queries were predominantly more frequent during the day from 8am to 8pm, and text queries were more frequently carried out from 8pm to 8am. These stats were consistent 7 days a week.

Voice query lengths of 5 words or more comprised 34.5% of all voice queries, as compared to only 21.2% of text queries. On average, voice queries are definitely longer than voice. But what I find most interesting is the distinctive term set used by voice as opposed to what is used during text queries.

Terms most used on the voice list include:

  • Pronouns
  • Question words
  • Function words like determiners
  • Prepositions
  • But rarely any nouns.

On the other hand, the text search list included numerous abbreviations for states, such as nc, tx, ca, etc. These were almost never used on voice searches.

Voice queries usually began with question words How and What. The most distinctive words used on a text search were Facebook and Pornhub.

Guy also wrote that “A recent survey of 1400 U.S. smartphone users found that 55% of the teenagers use voice search every day.”

In an article titled How Voice Search Will Change Digital Marketing — For the Better,  Purna Virji refers to a voice search study by Thrive Analytics that indicates 71% of mobile personal assistants users are 18-19, and 59% are 30 to 43.

But even with widespread usage of voice for this particular age group, click-through rates are substantially higher for text searches than for voice searches, and at greater than 2:1 ratio. Not surprisingly, voice searches focused more on audio/video content. And that is where the most dramatic rift between text and voice search begins to occur.

Voice Search Trends and Behaviour

Overall, voice searches also tended to focus on topics that required less screen interaction than text searches. This is another clue for the SEO community that voice is undoubtedly evolving into its own, distinct taxonomic search group.

Guy goes on to write in his study that his “…findings suggest that voice queries pose their own type of language, in-between traditional text queries and natural-language questions” and that “…new metrics for evaluating user satisfaction of voice queries should be developed.”

These glimpses of a new taxonomy of searcher, slowly being revealed through research paper after research paper, is beginning to outline how differently everyone will have to examine the voice search aspect of SEO.

Voice searchers use distinctly different queries than text searchers on mobile. And even though there may be similar, overlying characteristics, voice searchers are not using natural-language questions per se.

The Future of SEO for Voice Search

Voice search will require a whole new set of measurement devices, an entirely new lexicon of terminology, and a willingness by SEO strategists to explore all avenues of presentation to voice search users. With so many details still to be examined, and so many questions to be explored, 2017 is certainly going to be interesting for SEO.

If you have any questions about voice search, how to develop a voice search strategy that makes sense for the shifting landscape of vocal search, or just want to contribute your two cents worth to the discussion, contact us today!

Phone: 1-888-262-6687

Email: contact@1stonthelist.ca

Related Articles:

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Is Your Website Being Marked as Not Secure in Chrome?

The Chrome 56 Update

Google has taken a very strong stance on website security over the last couple years and very soon its latest update will hit the web.

Set to release sometime late January 2017, the new Google Chrome 56 browser will label any HTTP website that collects passwords and credit card numbers as Not secure.

Have you complied with Google’s suggestion to make sure that your website is secure, whether or not your website collect sensitive information?

As time goes on, we are warned that Google will be even more strict and start labeling all insecure websites as Not Secure, even if they do not collect sensitive information.

Google will also begin giving even more favourable rankings to websites with SSL Certifications in place and HTTPS Everywhere active on all pages (and other areas) of a website. This is Google’s prerogative, and they are choosing to do so in an effort to make the Internet more secure for everyone.

How Do I Get Rid of the Not Secure Warning?

If you are a website owner, and your site is already deemed, or might be deemed, Not Secure by Google, you need to purchase an SSL Certificate through a Certificate Authority (CA) and have it installed on your website. This will turn your website URLs to HTTPS, meaning that your site pages are secure.

Google suggests, in their article titled Secure Your Site With HTTPS that you “ensure a high level of security by choosing a 2048-bit key.”

At 1st on the List, we have chosen to work with DigiCert because they satisfy the encryption standards that Google expects you to have for HTTPS Everywhere. We can help you install the 2048-bit key and implement the required site changes.

How Do I Start Implementing HTTPS?

The best way to begin implementing HTTPS is to give 1st on the List a call and chat with one of our SSL experts. They’ll need to know how many sites you have, how many subdomains each site might have, and some other details about your organization.

HTTPS Everywhere not only appeases Google, it will make your visitors happy because you invested the time and effort to prioritize their privacy and security needs. It can also help protect your organization from the liability of security breaches.

Call 1st on the List today about your SSL Certificate and discuss how HTTPS should be your next step toward creating a safer Internet for everyone.

At 1st on the List, we’ve been talking about the importance of HTTPS and SSL for a couple years. Here are some other articles we have written on this topic:

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Your Guide to the Google Interstitial Ads Penalty Update

We’ve all seen them. The annoying popup ad layered over the page of a website which prevents us from reading the content after we’ve followed a link on our mobile device.

Google has decided that these interstitial mobile ads are intruding on a mobile user’s experience by preventing the user from immediately accessing the page content from a search result link.

On January 10th, 2017, Google instituted its Interstitial Ad Penalty and began penalizing mobile website pages that have intrusive interstitial pop-up ads that initially obscure page content for a user.

Google explains that this is because they provide a “poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible.”

Google’s Interstitial Policy Rationale

In their announcement on Google Webmaster Central Blog, Google explains:

“Pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results, may not rank as highly. As we said, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking and the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

This could adversely affect the bottom line of many companies who rely on interstitial ads as a significant source of their revenue. Read our article How to Improve B2B Website Usability in which we touch on popups and the public’s distaste for them.

3 Forms of Mobile Interstitial Ads Being Penalized

There are 3 specific forms of mobile interstitial ads that are at risk of being penalized with this recent Google interstitial update:

  1. Pop-up ads that immediately cover the main content after arriving at a mobile page through a link from a search result.
  2. Pop-ups that force a user to dismiss them before page content will be displayed.
  3. Sites that make the above-the-fold components of a page appear as though they are a standalone interstitial, underneath which the original content has been inlined.

Mobile Interstitial Ads NOT Affected by Google’s Update

Methods of interstitial use which are not affected by the new Google mobile ranking signal penalties include:

  1. Interstitials that are legally obligated to be on a page, such as age verification or cookie usage, are not affected.
  2. Site logins where content is not indexable for the public, including content that is private, or behind a paywall.
  3. Banners that can be easily dismissed, and use a reasonable amount of screen space.

Wondering what is a “reasonable” amount of space? Google does not indicate what proportion a reasonable amount of screen space constitutes, exactly. From the banner images in their mobile phone image examples in the article, the banners appear to take up approximately 1/4 of the screen.

What’s the Future of Interstitial Ads?

Personally, I’d like to see the same penalty system rolled out for desktop search. Ever come across a pop-up ad after clicking on a search result link? These seem to become more and more common and are just as annoying to visitors today as they were when they first appeared.

What is your experience with interstitial ads on mobile or desktop?

If you want more information on how interstitials as a ranking signal might affect your website, contact us at 1st on the List today at 1-888-262-6687, and we’ll answer any questions you might have.

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Voice Activated SEO Strategy for Google Home Device

Google Home is a voice-activated speaker powered by Google Assistant. You can ask it questions or tell it to do things, much like the Google Search function on your computer or phone, but in a hands free speaker version.

As Google’s entry into the home market, the Google Home device was released in October 2016 (just in time for people to add to their Christmas wishlists) and is expected to ship nearly 3 million Google Home devices in 2017 (according to Strategy Analytics).

With voice only search devices like Google Home and the Amazon Echo entering the home it is important to recognize voice only search within your SEO strategy.

As a business owner invested in an SEO Strategy for your website you may be wondering what does this mean for you?

To ride the upcoming wave of voice-activated SEO there are two significant concepts to become familiar with:

  1. Featured Snippets
  2. Good Abandonment

Why Did Google Create Featured Snippets?

Ever since the first iPhone was released in 2007 the search engines have continually evolved and adapted their results to more effectively present Search Results to mobile devices. Google’s Featured Snippets were part of that evolution. The thinking was (and is even more so now) that short, concise answers to questions right in the search result would more readily adapt to responsive design. It turns out, they also translate well (in most instances) to voice.

What none of the Search Engines had during the first years of smartphone devices was a means of successfully measuring or monitoring the satisfaction level of the answers shown in a Featured Snippet search result. For example, a mobile user would search a term, and if Google found an appropriate answer online, it would likely present it as a Featured Snippet to a mobile device.

If the answer satisfied the searcher, no further clicks occurred on the device (this is what we call “good abandonment” and will discuss next). Google was left wondering how to gauge the results, and most SEO firms were left trying to figure out how to utilize this information for their clients.

What is Good Abandonment?

Good abandonment is an abandoned, informational query addressed successfully on the results page which requires no further click or query refinement.

In a 2009 paper titled Good Abandonment in Mobile and PC Internet Search (Google et al.), they used the term Good Abandonment to describe just such a query. Essentially, the absence of any action on the part of the mobile user after the initial query was deemed to be Good Abandonment. The logic was, the user was satisfied with the answer (Featured Snippet) provided at the top of the result and no further action on the part of the searcher was required.

In a 2016 paper titled Detecting Good Abandonment in Mobile Search (Microsoft et al.), the research logic focused on gestures on mobile devices as underlying indicators of Good Abandonment. But in both studies, the principle units of measurement seemed to remain relatively the same. The absence of actions post-query was interpreted as the presence of a degree of satisfaction.

SEO for Google Home Device

So what do these things all mean for Google Home and voice activated SEO?

The SEO community is already writing articles as a result of what Google Home presents to users. A Moz piece titled How to Rank on Google Home is an interesting peek into what Google Home finds for a variety of different searches.

Google Home does a better job of presenting results for specific queries than it does for more general questions. And Google’s Explore Features section of Google Home helps provide a list of topic areas currently addressed by the device.

As Search Engine Land expresses in another article titled SEO without SERPs, I feel that the most applicable areas for SEO will currently be Facts & Info searches on Google Home, and Local Guide. While these regions may not leave much travel space for introduction into your specific SEO portfolio, look for Google to expand Home’s repertoire of responses in the coming months and years as they will no doubt refine and expand its infrastructure.

Focus on Featured Snippets

Until the SEO community does some research and exploration into other ways to optimize websites for Google Home, intensive focus on Featured Snippets seems to be the most likely method of gaining voice-activated entry in Home’s world.

The ability to summarize a question and uniquely answer that query in a way that garners Google’s attention for Home is likely to become a very specialized skill. The categories of questions (Facts & Info and Local Guide) available to pursue for Home do not provide much room to explore. They are not as much roadmaps for definitive voice search success but rather points of interest on a vocal highway which Google will undoubtedly continue to widen and pave as they explore.

If you have any questions about Google Home and SEO, call us today for more information at 1-888-262-6687.

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What Does it Take to Rank #1 on Google?

According to marketing consultant Mathew Barby in his recent article How to Rank Number One in Google: A Study of 1 Million Pages, some of the most common elements of top ranking websites in Google are:

  • Backlinks
  • Anchor text
  • Page titles
  • Target keywords
  • URLs

In this blog post we are going to discuss more of Barby’s findings of what it takes to rank on Google in 2017 and provide a brief rundown of how this might impact your SEO roadmap.

Backlink Quantity

Barby found that backlinks outperformed any other aspect of the study with the Top 2 Google results sharing 38% of all backlinks of page 1 search results. As always, organic and natural link building is clearly an area on which to focus.

Backlink Variety

Pages ranking #1 had 168% more linking domains that pages ranked #5. This indicates that the number of backlinks from multiple domains is more fundamental to search results than a large number of backlinks from one domain. A natural backlink profile with a diverse set of authoritative domains is important.

Anchor Text Focus

Anchor text driven by keywords is still a significant ranking factor. Pages holding the #1 ranking position had the keyword they were ranking for take up 5.4% of the anchor text. Focussing on your anchor text and keyword placement within it are a priority.

Shorter Titles & URLS

The optimal length for page titles was shown to be 8 words. The shorter the URL length, the higher the ranking position of the page. Barby’s study found that URLs under 60 characters also equate to higher ranking, and when combined with short page titles, could make excellent snippets that have high Click-Through-Rates which in turn can further strengthen the ranking. Optimizing in this way for snippets alone can be an extremely effective tactic.

Title/URL Keyword Placement

Surprisingly, the keyword presence in the title for 15.8% of number 1 pages has less to do with page presence itself than the consequence of click-throughs on the search snippet. As always, keyword placement within the URL was significant as well. If you are interested, read our recent article 3 Ways Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic to learn more about the implications of a featured snippet ranking.

HTTPS Ranks!

This study reports that 33% of pages ranked in the first 3 positions had implemented HTTPS. Google has confirmed the importance of HTTPS and in their continued efforts to make the web more secure will undoubtedly put more ongoing weight behind it where page ranking is concerned. For more information, check out our HTTPS Everywhere page.

Utilizing the items discussed in this article as next step advancements or maintaining them as an on-going part of your SEO strategy will likely improve your SERP presence. Don’t abandon other important aspects of SEO such as schema markup or mobile friendliness. Instead, include them as parts of a diversified, comprehensive, and ongoing web presence master plan.

If you have any questions about the development of your website SEO, call us today at 1-888-262-6687. Or, you can reach us by email at contact@1stonthelist.ca.