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Google's Updates You Need To Understand Prepping For 2022 SEO Strategy

author image Written by: Rabije Gashi Corluka           Categories - SEO

We mentioned the new Vicinity update Google has going on. It was an algorithm update no one was prepared for and caused quite a commotion in the community. To avoid history from repeating itself, we must learn from our mistakes – and what better way than going through all of the things that have already happened? It could benefit you if you go through all the major updates Google had in store in the past year and come up with a strategy for the year ahead.

Google Search Biggest Updates in 2021:

For us to have the most relevant and reliable results, Google Search Algorithms are updated thousands of times throughout the year. Of course, most of them go unnoticed, but every now and then one comes along *cough cough* Vicinity *cough cough* and makes a mess. That’s why it’s better to keep track of each change, make sure to understand what is happening and learn how to use them so it can benefit you.

The Page Experience Update

This update was designed to improve the website experience searchers have. Mobile usability, security issues, HTTPS usage, Web Vitals and Ad Experience are all taken into account. The main goal is safer browsing for users and resurfacing flags in the Page Experience Report.

What To Do?

  • Work on your loading speed
  • Make sure your page has a mobile-friendly version, with no usability errors
  • Make sure your page is secure and use HTTPS
  • Don’t use interruptive, distracting or unfavourable advertising techniques

Here’s a helpful resource for optimizing your page for this update.

Link Spam Update

This was when Google reminded us about the importance of good content and quality links. The update was and still is effective at identifying and nullifying link spam across multiple languages.

What To Do?

  • You need high-quality link building
  • Create high-quality content
  • Focus and improve the user experience
  • Avoid useless linking!

Broad Core Updates

It took longer than expected, but it is done. As usual, Google didn’t offer a lot of advice on how to deal with a core update except to try hard all the time. This update had also caused big commotion since we saw some pretty weird pages ranking high. The conclusion was, again, to use quality backlinks.

ProTip! – Improving content and backlinks might help you to recover more than fixing the technical aspect!

Product Reviews Update

This update was designed to reward in-depth product reviews and “punish” irrelevant, summary-of-a-product type of content. Instead, a review should be relevant and detailed. We have also learned that Google and potential customers like seeing realistic reviews, even if that means seeing a few bad ones as well.

What to do?

  • Write longer, knowledgeable reviews
  • Add your own content, not just the manufacturer description
  • Describe how a product has evolved from previous models
  • Include the Pros and Cons

Here’s more advice on what you should know about the product reviews update and how to handle it.

MUM

Google also introduced us to the Multitask Unified Model which uses AI to help searchers. It “speaks” 75 different languages and understands both image and the written word. However, it might understand much more in the future, since Google keeps saying they’re working on expanding this capability to video and audio.

One of the first things MUM learned to do is to keep track of vaccine queries and it will continue bringing more understanding to Google’s algorithms.

Vicinity

This is a fresh one and we’re still trying to figure out what exactly happened so that keywords aren’t as important anymore. Maybe the lesson with this update is not to violate Google’s guidelines and add keywords for the sake of it. It seems like new businesses are winning with this one.

 

Rabije Gashi Corluka

Mueller: Web Pages Should Have “Some Content” Above the Fold

05/11/2021

Content creators may wonder whether Google views content ‘above the fold’ on websites as more important for its search results. Fortunately, Google’s Senior Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller provided clarification during a recent livestream.

During an episode ‘SEO Office Hours,’ Mueller’s Google Hangout series, a viewer asked Mueller if Google paid more attention to content above the fold. The viewer shared that they were aware of a website that moved their content from below the fold to above, and found that they SERP rankings improved instantly.

‘Above the fold’ refers to what is visible instantly upon clicking on a webpage – in other words, the top of the page. Anything on the page that requires the user to scroll to view is ‘below the fold.’

Search Engine Journal explains that, previously, Google would prioritize content above the fold on webpages when analyzing them for SERPs. Google has since switched to AI and natural language processing to analyze the entire page – not just what is above the fold.

So, does Google really prioritize content that is above the fold?

Not entirely, Mueller explains:

“The main thing is that we want to see some content above the fold,” Mueller said on the livestream. “A part of your page should be visible when a user goes there.”

Mueller provided an example of a page that wouldn’t be received well by Google.

“If a user goes to your website and they just see a big holiday photo and they have to scroll down a little bit to actually get content about a hotel, then that would be problematic for us,” he said. “But if they go to your home page and they see a hall of fame photo on top and also a little bit of information about the hotel – for example, for a hotel site – that would be fine.”

Mueller’s ultimate answer?

“It’s not purely that the content has to be above the fold. But… some of the content has to be.”

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Master the Art of Email Marketing to Boost Your SEO

04/09/2021

There are plenty of misconceptions around emails. One of which is that emails are dead, having been replaced by social media. Another myth is that email has nothing to do with SEO.

Here’s a reality check: emails are crucial for your brand! They can increase engagement, draw in new customers, and raise brand awareness – oh, and they can improve your SEO score too. 

You may have never thought that SEO and email marketing were related in any way, but these two components of your marketing strategy can actually complement each other.

In this article, we’ll show you:

  • How email marketing can boost your SEO score

  • What elements every email should have

  • How you emails can make a lasting impression – and not end up in the spam folder

What is Email Marketing?

Every brand should have an email marketing strategy. This means building a digital list of customers sending them emails on a semi-frequent basis. These emails usually have an underlying goal and an accompanying format. Here are some common examples:

  • Welcome emails, inviting new customers to explore your brand’s world

  • Newsletters, released on a schedule to bring info to your audience’s inbox

  • Sale and promotion emails, intended to excite your customers

  • Important updates, like if your store is moving locations

Yes, Email Marketing Still Matters

You might be thinking, “Wait, aren’t emails a thing of the past?”

It’s true that emails are no longer as prominent as a digital communication method, and social networking sites have fragmented the audience that used to do everything through their email service.

Email is still a popular service, though. In fact, OptinMonster reports that 99% of web users check their email at least once a day – some up to 20 times a day!

For that reason, email marketing is super important. It’s easy, cheap, target-specific, and mobile-friendly. Plus, it can boost your SEO results! Learn how below.

How Email Marketing Strengthens Your SEO Score

Boosts Engagement

We know that having more visitors on your site will increase its SEO score. How do you draw in more visitors? Pull them right out of their email inbox. Any email format can do the trick as long as you link back to your site within the email.

You should keep these tips in mind as you aim to rack up engaged visitors:

  • Don’t just cast out a line and expect everyone to visit your site; target a specific audience

  • Make sure the content in your emails is compelling – give readers something to look forward to in your emails

  • Don’t use language that evokes spam – both readers and spam filters will turn away from emails like these

Types of stats I can look for here: what THING brings in clicks or opens from email users; OR how often do emails go to spam boxes

Gives You Better Insights

There’s a lot you can learn from how your emails perform. It’s easy to track their success, too. There are plenty of easy-to-use email marketing tools that can pick up on useful metrics – for example, learn what language makes an effective headline versus a bad one. You can even test specific keywords, and then use your results to improve your SEO results.

Helps You Create High Performing Content Content for Search Engines

Here’s another great thing about tracking data from your emails: if an email performs particularly well, you can use it for content on your website too.

We recommend creating a bridge between your site’s content and your emails’ content. If a piece performs well on one platform, re-purpose or reuse it on the other.

Helps You Supercharge Your Content Strategy

Your emails and your site’s content are like brother and sister.

You can strengthen your site’s content by testing out different things over email. For example:

  • Try out different topics and see what draws people in

  • Increase engagement by asking for direct responses from readers

  • Create personas and craft emails specifically for them

Gives Your Wallet a Break with High ROI

Email marketing is practically free, and think of how often people check their emails. There are very few ‘barriers’ standing in the way between your emails and the intended reader, so you don’t have to worry about throwing piles of money at a strategy that might not land.

Increases Brand Awareness

Brand awareness is key, and emails do a great job sticking your brand to people’s thoughts. Even seeing your brand’s name among other emails reminds readers that you exist, but why stop there? Strong email content can give your audience a true sense of what your brand is capable of.

Offers a Chance for Link Building 

You know that relevant backlinks can improve a site’s SEO score. Why not apply the same approach to your emails? In your messages, link back to your site or other channels of media whenever possible.

How to Make the Most Out of Your Brand’s Emails

Use HTML

Ultimately, there are two kinds of emails: plain text and HTML-based. Only HTML-based emails can display compelling photos, graphics and other kinds of media, and these are things you’d want to use to engage readers.

If the word ‘HTML’ makes you want to runaway, relax. These coded emails are easier to send than you might think. In fact, there are free email templates all over the web that make the process easy from start to finish.

Here are a few things to consider with your HTML emails:

  • Don’t overdo it – too many components will make your emails take longer to load, and readers will stop clicking them

  • Make sure your emails work on the web AND mobile, and that they can fit screens of any size

Timing is Everything

The day and time on which you launch an email makes a huge difference. You may have read ‘rules’ online, but ultimately, it all depends on your brand and your audience. Here are some tips:

  • Tuesday through Thursday is considered the ‘hot spot’ for emails, drawing in the most engagement

  • Friday is a hard day to gain your audience’s focus, unless your brand involves something they can partake in on the weekend

  • Email marketers and Garfield have one thing in common: they hate Mondays. That’s because audiences are usually too work-focused or dreadful to engage over email

  • Time based on your audience; target mobile-based or younger audiences in the evening, and desktop-based audiences in the morning

There is no universal ‘correct time,’ so think carefully about your brand and when your audience will likely open your emails.

Keep a Newsletter Archive

You may keep a campaign archive for various aspects of your marketing strategy.

Your emails should be no exception. This will help you:

  • Collect data over time to see what’s working and what should change

  • Refer back to older archive to reuse content

Avoid Spammy Language

Here’s something that search engines and email systems have in common: neither of them like manipulative ‘junk’ language. While it’s important to SEO that you don’t overuse a keyword or use repetitive text, email systems have strong filters that ruthlessly hunt down spam.

Avoid aggressive terms, oversimplified claims, and desperate pleas – otherwise your mail won’t make it to the inbox.

Track Your Results

We can’t stress this enough: track your email campaigns! There are so many useful metrics to check, including:

  • Conversion rate

  • Clicks per link

  • Unsubscribe rate

  • Bounce rate – we’ve elaborated on this below

Check Your Bounce Rates

This tip isn’t as much about SEO as it is about your audience, though it’s equally important. One of the most important metrics you should check from your marketing emails is the bounce rate.

The term ‘bounce rate’ might be confusing because it is used in other contexts. Your site’s bounce rate is NOT the same thing as your emails’ bounce rate:

  • On a website, the ‘bounce rate’ refers to how often users click on your page and exit right away

  • On emails, the ‘bounce rate’ refers to how often your email does not reach the intended target’s inbox

In other words, if you’ve ever gotten an error message explaining that an email you’ve sent was ‘returned’ to you, the email has bounced; this is what the bounce rate measures.

If your bounce rate is high – let’s say, 2% or higher – you need to give your email subscriber list a refresh.

Create Beautiful Emails That Are Still Functional

Should you focus more on making your emails look great or making them work well? You don’t have to choose, and you actually shouldn’t.

Your email’s design doesn’t compromise its purpose – strong design enhances it!

Make sure you include each of these important features in every email:

  • A subject line that sparks curiosity

  • Carefully chosen pre-header text, which will be visible in the subject line

  • Strong, bold images

  • A refreshing colour scheme

  • Calls to action, including links to your site

  • An info-dense footer

Bring on the Links

Your emails should be more than just a block of text. Give your reader plenty of links to click on! There should be clear paths from your emails to other channels of your brand: social media, website pages, subscriptions, and any others you can think of. Make sure to tell people WHY they should click on your links, rather than simply choosing to display them.

Another tip: Place social media links on your ‘unsubscribe’ page! While a reader may no longer want to see your emails, they still might want to check out your social media pages.

Put Your Best Content Forward

Emails are a great place to showcase your content, but make sure it’s actually good. You don’t want to end up in the spam folder or get swiftly deleted. Besides, what appeals to readers doesn’t always come down to an exact science. Quality content is the best organic way to reach new people.

The Takeaway

In this article, you learned:

  • Why email marketing is more important than ever

  • How good SEO and email marketing strategies can be combined

How to make high-quality emails that readers and marketing strategists both love

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