Why the “New” Rules of SEO Are Giving People Déjà Vu - by Sean Ward

Posted: February 1st, 2013 by Sean Ward

Search engine optimization is always changing, but the significant shifts to Google’s algorithm that we have seen lately have been amongst the most aggressive in recent years. Specifically, the “Panda” and “Penguin” changes have taken some of the focus away from keywords and links, and put them on fresh, unique content… in other words, quality over quantity.

Although this has come as a bit of a surprise to some business owners and web designers, it really shouldn’t have – searchers have always wanted more relevant results, and so the burden is on search engines to give it to them. Besides, what comes around goes around, and the “new” rules of search engine optimization are starting to give some business veterans déjà vu.

Why? Because in the days before keywords ruled all, being current, interesting, and unique weren’t just good ideas for your marketing plan, but necessary for getting any kind of attention at all. In other words, a lot of current SEO really just comes down to good old-fashioned public relations.

With that in mind, we can take a few classic ideas off the shelf and apply them to current search campaigns:

1. Either be newsworthy or talk about what is. People like articles and ideas that are current, so it’s a good idea to base your content strategy at least partly on topics that are relevant right now.

2. Set the tone yourself. It used to be that copying competitors was a good way to build content. These days, however, you want to be a market leader – invent your own ideas and concepts and then let others try to keep up with you.

3. Follow an editorial calendar. Instead of posting material randomly to the Internet, follow an editorial calendar that encourages you to come up with new content on a regular basis and forces you to organize your thoughts and topics into consistent themes.

Search engine optimization might be changing, but the basic rules of marketing, online or off-line, tend to be fairly consistent. Be a source of interesting, high-quality information, and customers will always give you more of their attention.

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Analyzing impact of Google’s SSL Search - by Benjamin Spiegel

Posted: November 18th, 2011 by Benjamin Spiegel

It’s been a little over a month since Google announced that it will be providing SSL searches for it’s logged in users and as Result of that we will lose some of our Organic Search Data, we covered this in a bit more detail HERE

So now that the initial craze has settles we decided to look at some sample data and look at what’s actually going on and how it is really affecting us and our Brands.

We decided to use 6 Sits from different verticals as a sample; we decide don the following verticals:

  • SEO Company (since Visitors are obviously engaged in Google, we assume that they logged in)
  • Home Cleaning Products Manufacturer
  • Financial Service Company
  • Home Electronics
  • Healthcare Services
  • News & Gossip Site

This gives us a good look at a very wide spectrum of sites and users.


Type Total Visits Organic Visits Hidden Keyword Chrome Total/Hidden
SEO Company 3778 1322 299 / 22.62 11% / 45%
Cleaning Products 293693 26474 1632 / 6.16 13% / 35.36 %
Financial Services Company 228688 54510 2608 / 4.78 25% / 47.35 %
Home Electronics 338140 49977 3.382 / 6.77 16% / 48 %
Healthcare 133730 20240 2679 / 13.24 9% / 18%
News / Gossip Site 35558 26121 419 / 1.60 34% / 42%

So what did we find?em>

The first thing just as we suspected is that SEO / Tech & Computers users are Google users, therefor logged in and will be using the SSL search. This was confirmed with 22% of searches being hidden.

Another interesting fact is that Google actually seems to be serving them smart. One of the sample sites is a healthcare site, and without giving away too much, it is not a modern medicine, it targets elderly people and we are fairly certain they do not have a Google account (80% of their members have ISP emails such as Comcast, Verizon, AOL etc). Based on the analytics sample data it seems that Google hid 13% of the keywords.

We need to keep one thing in mind, Google does this to protect users privacy and not to mess with us internet marketers ‘)

On the flip side it is fairly interesting that Google does not hide the info from a financial services site, but this might be due to the fact that most of their site is already served over https

Also we were expecting to have a higher amount of hidden KWs on the home electronics site. More hen 50% their member emails end in @gmail


So without upsetting any hardcore Internet marketers, it does seem that there is more behind the decision process on Google’s side then just are you logged in or not.

After compiling this I looked at a few more healthcare and medical related sites, and it seems that across all of them there is a really high rate of hidden keywords as well, some even up to 50% and all of those sites are targeted towards elderly people, not your usual google crowd!

Another Interesting find is the high number of Chrome share among the hidden keywords, it seems that the browser is a deciding factor as well.


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Google Hiding Keyword Data for Google Users - by Benjamin Spiegel

Posted: October 20th, 2011 by Benjamin Spiegel

So on Thursday October 18th the Organic Search Community had a moment of silence and then complete Panic, google announced in a blog post ( http://vfx.la/xFDD0 )that it will stop showing the Search query from users logged into Google as well as all users using the secure search option ( https://encrypted.google.com/  )

We have been answering a few panic calls from clients, so I decided to write up this quick info sheet.

So to understand the impact a bit better, let’s look at the current flow of events.

  1. Users a search Query using Google’s search page or toolbar
  2. Google Displays the results page (at this point the search term position and following action are saved in the Google Webmaster Tools – and also inserted into Google Analytics)
  3. Upon click google redirects the user to the final destination page

So what has changes?

On the frontend it all still looks the same, besides a cute ssl logo the average user will not notice a difference. ON a technical site the queries CTR rates and all related transactions are encrypted and more safe (not really sure why people care) but they seem to do.

So what does that mean for the organic community?

  • You will no longer be able to see the SERP positions / CTR in Webmaster Tools
  • In Analytics it will say (not provided) instead of the actual keyword
  • You will no longer be able to track organic performance on a keyword level
  • No more goal or e-commerce data on a keyword level

Who does this apply to?

  • This only applies to Organic searches (paid is still getting that data)
  • This for now only applies to users that are logged into their google account (so all Google+ / Gmail / Adsense / Adwords users)

Does this affect me?

  • One of the hardest hits is against anybody provided services in the internet sector, such as web development agencies, SEO companies and any web service related companies. Why? It is because most of the internet development and marketing community is using one or another google tool.
  • If you target for example Google+ and any other Google Product users, this applies even stronger to you


Why aren’t you worried?

  • Based on our current numbers (we checked in Google Analytics) only 0.12% for the organic traffic was marked as (not provided)
  • People who are logged into google, getting a custom search experience and SERPs anyway, and therefore not a good measurement of performance as it is.
  • We have a strong believe in Whitehead tactics and think that google does these changes to improve quality for the SERPs and as long as we produce quality content and follow the clean guidelines

We will keep an eye on the Analytics for our web properties and keep you updated on any developments or changes.

UPDATE: After some technical feedbacks, we can confirm that when you leave a SSL site such as google Secure SERPs and go to a non SSL page, no referring data is transmitted which means its not just google being mean, it’s a technical challenge!


Update #2: Google just confirmed it in this Article ( http://googlewebmastercentral.blogspot.com/2011/10/accessing-search-query-data-for-your.html ): In Webmaster tools and Analytics you still can:

  • View the top 1000 daily search queries and top 1000 daily landing pages for the past 30 days.
  • View the impressions, clicks, clickthrough rate (CTR), and average position in search results for each query, and compare this to the previous 30 day period.
  • Download this data in CSV format

Are you worried? Why not get a Free SEO Audit?

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Mobile SEO Strategy Part 2 – The Tools - by Benjamin Spiegel

Posted: September 21st, 2011 by Benjamin Spiegel

Mobile SEO Part 2 – The Tools & Research

Continuing on from Part 1 – What is mobile SEO we are looking today at the tools and ways to do your keyword insights and some initial ways to measure success and also establish a baseline / KPIs. If you have missed Part1 I would sugest you read this first, in case you decide not too, you should be aware that we are talking about smartphone SEO not mobile SEO, there is a dramatic difference as we will explain throughout this series .

1. Search Volume and keyword suggestions

The first step in any SEO campaign kickoff is the keyword research, thanks to google’s latest updates we have now a variety of ways to obtain the Smartphone (again smartphone != mobile) search volume. My favorite tool of choice is still the google adWords keyword research tool. Google recently added data for mobile volume / competition etc. They separate it into 4 separate groups:

  1. Desktop and laptop Devices
  2. All Mobile Devices
  3. Mobile WAP Devices
  4.  Mobile devices with Full Internet Browsers

This allows you and your team to evaluate the overall volume as well obtain suggestions for similar keywords / phrases. However I would still remain careful with the Total searches google estimates for some of their suggestions as they seem rather high ;)
Adwords Mobile Filtering for Mobile SEO

2. Keyword Suggestions and Trends

Unfortunately google trends has not yet updated its filtering functions to include mobile trends, I am sure they will add this functionality at some point, but again as of now, there is no option to filter for mobile trends yet! We will go further into strategy in a later chapter…
But for no a quick approach we follow is to get last years data from google trends, see what are the upcoming initiatives or seasonal items
Google Trends YoY
We would then take these keywords and run them against the mobile search volume within google adowrds mobile and extract longtail keywords from that as well. For additional longtail optimization I would suggest then running those keywords trough autosuggest on google mobile and other mobile search engines and devices.

3. Establishing a baseline

So where do we start in terms of measurements?  We would suggest 2 base KPIs for any mobile SEO camp:

  1. Measure user engagement for mobile Clients (Bounce, Time on site etc)
  2. Search Engine Results page Clicktorugh rate

The first one is fairly easy since analytics comes by default with a mobile user segment which allows us to run some simple reports against all mobile users.
Analytics Mobile Metrics
For the SERP CTR we are thankfull again to a recent update in Google’s webmaster tool that now allows us to display the CTR on the results pages for smartphone SERps. From there we can establish which results where displayed on mobile devices and what our Click Trough rate was, then we can modify Meta Descriptions and Title tags to fit better into the mobile shelf!
Webmaster Tools Mobile Filter


So what now?

As already promised in Part 1 of this mobile SEO Tutorial we will get into actionable items in a later chapter, but next on my list is one of the more existing parts of this: The future of Mobile SEO!
So for now go ahead, look at where you currently are in terms of metrics and goals, see if you keyword strategy aligns with your visitors and goals. And in the next Chapter we will start to actually get our hands dirty!

But if you are in a rush and need help getting your site ready, free to fill out our Free SEO Quote

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