Google Searches Can Help Us Find Emerging Covid-19 Outbreaks - The New York Times

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Google Searches Can Help Us Find Emerging Covid-19 Outbreaks - The New York TimesGoogle Searches Can Help Us Find Emerging Covid-19 Outbreaks - The New York TimesPosted: 06 Apr 2020 12:00 AM PDT Every day, millions of people around the world type their health symptoms into Google. We can use these searches to help detect unknown Covid-19 outbreaks, particularly in parts of the world with poor testing infrastructure.To see the potential information lying in plain sight in Google data, consider searches for "I can't smell." There is now strong evidence that anosmia, or loss of smell, is a symptom of Covid-19, with some estimates suggesting that 30-60 percent of people with the disease experience this symptom. In the United States, in the week ending this past Saturday, searches for "I can't smell" were highest in New York, New Jersey, Louisiana, and Michigan — four of the states with the highest prevalence of Covid-19. In fact, searches related to loss of smel…

9 Key SEO Factors That Can Help You Achieve Top Rankings in the SERPs - BBN Times

9 Key SEO Factors That Can Help You Achieve Top Rankings in the SERPs - BBN Times


9 Key SEO Factors That Can Help You Achieve Top Rankings in the SERPs - BBN Times

Posted: 31 Jan 2020 12:00 AM PST

The number one search result on the first page of Google gets a CTR of more than 30%. This is substantially higher than the other results on the same page.

The best way to get on top of the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is to design a solid SEO campaign.

Advanced Web Ranking SEO Campaign

Image via Advanced Web Ranking

SEO refers to techniques that focus on bringing organic traffic from the search engines to your website. With SEO, your brand can boost your brand awareness, sales, and visibility. It's a long-term strategy that can help you grow your business.

SEO is necessary for all businesses because the search engines do not understand the content on a website. Through an SEO campaign, you can communicate what your website is about to the search engines. This, in turn, can help you get a top ranking on the SERPs.

Now that you know why SEO is important, let's see how you can design a solid SEO campaign.

KEY ELEMENTS OF A SUCCESSFUL SEO CAMPAIGN

All successful SEO strategies require consistent hard work. The prerequisite to designing a successful SEO campaign is the willingness to devote a lot of time and effort to it.

Here are the key elements that you will need to work on:

1. Keyword Research

Your entire SEO campaign depends on your keywords. They are phrases or words that your audience is most likely to use in search queries. If you use the right keywords, you're likely to get more traffic and better rankings.

Google SEO Campaign

Image via Google

To find the most popular keywords in your niche, you can use keyword research tools. SEMrush, KWFinder, and Google Keyword Planner are great tools to get suggestions of suitable keywords.

While picking keywords for your SEO campaign, keep in mind your audience's interests and preferences. To understand these better, look at the kind of content they resonate with.

It's also a good idea to identify your competitors and look at their targeted keywords. You can find your competitors' keywords through the keyword tools mentioned above.

Another easy way to find keywords is through discussion forums. For this, enter search queries that are relevant to your business on Reddit and Quora.

On these platforms, dig in to find the most popular discussion threads. This will give you an idea of what your target audience is talking about.

In addition to this, take into account search queries that come from voice search. Typically, they are longer and have a conversational tone. Many voice search queries are local in nature and include phrases like "near me."

Once you have a list of keywords that you think are worth targeting in your SEO campaign, it's time to analyze them. Check how easy or difficult it is to rank for a keyword. While most keyword research tools have this feature, you can also check it another way.

For this, you need to install the Moz toolbar on your web browser. Search for your target keywords on Google and look at the first few results.

For each of the links, check out the domain authority (DA) score through Moz toolbar. If most of these sites have DA score below 50, you have a fairly good chance of ranking for it.

2. Create a Solid Content Strategy

For any successful SEO campaign, content is always king. The quality of content you create has a great impact on your search rankings. Based on the keywords that you shortlist, you need to create high-quality content.

For crawlers to understand what your content is about, keywords are important. Therefore, you should seamlessly integrate your keywords into your content. Ideally, for long-tail, semantic, and LSI keywords, you should keep the keyword density at 0.5% – 1%.

However, do not stuff your content with keywords. It can be counterproductive for your SEO campaign. Google's Panda update was introduced to penalize websites that indulged in unfair, black hat tactics. Duplicating content, keyword stuffing, and content scraping can put you at risk of being penalized.

To create high-quality content, try to put yourself in the shoes of your target audience. What are the questions they are likely to have? Your content should aim to address their questions and problems.

In addition to this, make sure your content is easily scannable for mobile users. It's a good idea to write short paragraphs and to divide your content into logical sections.

Not only will it make your content look more organized, it will also decrease your bounce rate and increase your dwell time.

To prevent your content from becoming outdated, try to pick evergreen topics. For any non-evergreen topics, update your content regularly so that it stays accurate and relevant.

You can repurpose your old content and adapt it into different formats to create fresh content. For instance, you can turn a blog post into a podcast or an infographic.

In addition to this, you should produce more video content. A Cisco survey revealed that 82% of all consumer internet traffic would be comprised of video content by 2021. While a high retention rate is an added advantage, videos can also impact your SEO campaign directly as well.

Google now features video content in search results. So, pay attention to the meta descriptions and titles of your videos and include keywords in both. This will help make sure your videos appear for related searches.

3. Build a Strong Inbound Link Profile

The strength of your website's inbound link profile can determine the success of your SEO campaign. Search engines perceive your website as a trustworthy source when several websites with high-authority provide you with backlinks.

Publishing quality content is the best way to get backlinks from high-authority websites. But that's not all. Increasing your visibility across different platforms is also necessary for your SEO campaign. For this, guest posting is a commonly used strategy.

Another way to increase your website's visibility is through social media. While your posts on social media platforms may not have direct impact on SEO, they can help you get more engagement.

If your content goes viral, your inbound link profile will be stronger. This, in turn, can boost your SEO campaign.

Likewise, collaborating with influencers and bloggers in your niche can help you earn quality backlinks quickly. Since their reach is massive, you can also expect a boost in your brand awareness and visibility.

4. Optimize Your Page-Loading Speed

Search engines want to provide users with the best user experience. So, in addition to creating high quality content, providing a smooth user experience should also be a top priority of your SEO campaign.

If your web pages take a long time to load, it can turn away potential customers. In 2018, Google announced that it was a ranking factor for mobile searches as well. According to Google, 53% of mobile users abandon a site if it takes longer than three seconds to load.

Therefore, for your SEO, page-loading speed is a factor that you simply can't ignore.

To boost your page loading speed, you need to figure out what is slowing down your website. Heavy images, a wrong website theme, or even too many embedded media elements — they can all negatively affect your page loading speed.

To analyze your website's page-loading speed, you can use tools like PageSpeed Insights tool, TestMySite, and Lighthouse.

If heavy images are bogging down your SEO campaign, you can use a WordPress plugin like Smush. It has options for lossless compression, which means that you can compress your images without affecting the image quality.

5. Create a Good Site Architecture

Designing a good site architecture should be at the core of your SEO campaign. Think of site architecture as a way to make it easier for crawlers to access your content and index it. At the same time, it can provide users with a smooth navigation.

All websites have some site architecture. It could be well-planned or a disorganized mess of web pages. The best way to create good site structure is to start working on it early on. With less content, it will be easier for you to organize it.

Blogging Hammer SEO Campaign

Image via Blogging Hammer

To design your site architecture, you need to be clear about your content and how you want to divide it up into categories. Establishing a clear hierarchy between them is essential.

Clearly defined categories and sub-categories are crucial for ecommerce websites. It helps users conveniently find products from different categories.

Additionally, internal links are also useful in giving structure to your site's content. When Google's spiders crawl your web pages, internal links make it easier for them to pull out older blog posts. In terms of your SEO campaign, this can help you get indexed faster and bring you more traffic.

6. Optimize Your Website For Voice Searches

Increased usage of products like Google Home and Amazon Echo has made voice searches more popular. You no longer need to sit in front of a computer to browse the internet. According to Gartner, by 2020, 30% of all web browsing will be done without a screen.

People are quickly switching to voice-based queries. Keeping this in mind, you need to adapt your SEO campaign. To achieve the top rankings for voice searches, you need to understand how these queries differ from text-based queries.

70% of requests that Google Assistant receives are not keyword specific but are conversational in tone. Even if they do include keywords, they are mostly long-tail keywords.

For example, a user may search for, "London flights," while typing a search query. However, for voice-based search queries, users are likely to search for, "Cost of New York to London flight."

Another common characteristic of voice-based queries is that most of them come in the form of a question. People are likely to begin their search queries with "What," "How," "Where," "When," or "Why."

For a long time, SEO experts have stressed the need for keywords in your content. But the rules of the game are changing. Your SEO campaign needs a fresh perspective on content.

To optimize your content for voice search, you can create content to answer the most frequently asked questions. Not just that, make sure to include these questions and long-tail keywords in your headings and sub-headings.

7. Optimize Your Website For Multiple Devices

Just like search queries, the devices that people use to browse the internet have also changed. Earlier, desktop traffic was the focus of most SEO campaigns. However, in 2018, 52.2% of global website traffic came from smartphones.

To keep up with this changing trend, you need to optimize your website for multiple devices. While designing your website, keep in mind that your website should be accessible from phones, tablets, and laptops.

Hospitality Net SEO Campaign

Image via Hospitality Net

A responsive, mobile-friendly site doesn't require that users zoom in or zoom out. It's all about providing a smooth user experience. Not just that, it can directly impact your search rankings.

Google recognizes that a large number of users now use mobile phones. To make browsing more convenient for users, they introduced mobile-first indexing.

Simply put, Google uses a website's mobile web page version for ranking and indexing. And the readiness of website for mobile-indexing is a criteria that Google uses to evaluate a website.

Because of this policy, websites that aren't mobile-friendly are set to lose out big time. It's clear that Google wants webmasters to choose a responsive design and gives priority to mobile customers.

Therefore, optimizing your website for mobile phones and other devices should be an integral part of your SEO campaign.

8. Focus on Local SEO

46% of all Google searches are associated with local information. People are constantly looking for places to eat and things to do in their own neighborhood. If you want to take your SEO campaign to the next level, you can't ignore local SEO.

In fact, 69% of users search for a local business at least once a month. That means a huge opportunity for businesses looking to grow. All you need to do is focus on local SEO to make your brand more visible.

It doesn't matter what kind of business you own. Whether you run a salon or pet store, local SEO is a necessity for all businesses.

The first step to work towards your local SEO strategy is to work on your local citations and it's working toward improving your website seo. People use FourSquare, Yelp, and other similar sites to discover new businesses. So, you need to make sure you are visible on these platforms.

Alternatively, you could also use discussion threads on Reddit, Quora, Twitter, Facebook, and other such platforms to get more visibility.

In addition to this, you should focus on creating local content. Look at what people around you are complaining about. What are the major pain points for them? Then think of ways your services or products can solve them. Based on that, create content.

Another way of incorporating local SEO into your SEO campaign is to showcase customer reviews. When other people are searching for businesses, user reviews can add social proof and lend some credibility.

9. Schedule Timely SEO Audits

Working towards achieving your goals for your SEO campaign isn't enough. You need to constantly analyze what's working for you. Even if you are an expert, chances are you won't get everything right the first time you start your SEO campaign.

If you want to create a successful campaign, you need to use a trial-and-error approach. You will make mistakes, so you need to learn from them.

Conducting an SEO audit is a great way of doing this. It will tell you which aspect of your overall SEO strategy needs a bit of tweaking. Schedule SEO audits at regular intervals so that you can keep your goals in check.

To conduct your SEO audit, you can use many different tools during your SEO campaign. Here are a few of them along with their features:

Ahrefs

From backlink research to keyword research and competitive analysis, Ahrefs can help you with everything. It's a comprehensive tool meant to help you improve your SEO campaign. With this tool, you can even get weekly and monthly tracking reports.

Google Analytics

If you are looking for a free tool for your SEO campaign, there is nothing better than Google Analytics. Using it, you can get insights into your page views, visitor demographics, and more. And it's designed in such a way that it's easy-to-use. 

Moz

This SEO tool has a special focus on local SEO. Moz's Local tool is aimed at helping you manage your local business listings. On the other hand, MozPro comes with a link analysis feature. It gives you live metrics to help you figure out how your web pages are faring. Using their keyword explorer, you can find the best keywords to target.

Conclusion

There is a lot more to designing a successful SEO campaign than picking the right keywords. From earning high-quality backlinks to optimizing your website for mobile devices, and page-loading speed to voice searches, there is a lot to take care of.

I hope the above mentioned tips help you design a strong SEO campaign. If you are still struggling to get fruitful results, get in touch with me. I can help you take your SEO campaign to the next level.

How did you design your SEO campaign? Did it work? Tell us about your experience in the comments section.

8 Things That Are Wrong with Google Search Today - Search Engine Journal

Posted: 12 Feb 2020 05:45 AM PST

Regardless of what you do with your days and nights, you'd be hard-pressed to never have used Google at some point in your life.

Chances are, as we're off and running in the year 2020, you're using the "free" internet database and information machine on a weekly basis – most likely daily – and for good reason.

Google is an information powerhouse, serving up billions of searches a day and many-thousands of searches per second. It is second to none.

Its "hundreds of billions of webpages" that have been crawled and make up its always-expanding Search index are proof of that.

But for all its good, Google still gets plenty wrong every day.

Some problems are worse than others, depending on how often you use Google, how familiar you are with the search engines, and, basically, who you are.

A digital marketer is going to (typically) have a much more extensive understanding of how Google works than a middle-aged security guard, a stay-at-home mom, or even a police officer or a firefighter.

When considering the eight call-outs below, it is mostly considered from an everyday, average Google Search user.

That said, there will certainly be deeper explanations for seemingly basic concepts to show just how wrong Google has gotten it on several critical occasions.

1. Always Testing/Changing

Whether you're an everyday user, sometimes user, or in-the-trenches search marketer, you most likely know Google doesn't sit still.

The world-leading search engine makes hundreds of changes per year to its platform through thousands of updates that included more than 3,200 updates in 2018, a number that has increased each year for decades.

It has confused users, angered SEO professionals, and ultimately transformed the way nearly every human on Earth interacts with the World Wide Web.

Thus, there is likely never just one reason for any – or all – of the changes Google makes a year.

But, while many average users can easily illustrate examples of why they were ever displeased with a change Google made, there are plenty of times when those changes worked in favor of the user in terms of a better experience on the search engine.

As a search marketer, we not only appreciate many of the changes Google makes due to their impact on the overall search experience; we also appreciate these thousands of changes per year because it keeps us in demand and employs us – directly and indirectly – every day.

2. Glitchy, Like All Computer Programs

Like any technological entity, Google, too, endures glitches, bugs, broken parts, and pint-sized disasters.

In early April 2019, Google had to fix a technical issue that caused pages to be deindexed.

Later that same month, a Google issue caused the search engine to select unrelated canonical URLs that were sometimes reflected in the breadcrumb trails on mobile. In rare cases, this may have prevented proper indexing of content by Google.

The following month, Google announced it was experiencing indexing issues that lasted through much of a day.

While temporary, it was still a major issue that prevented new content from being indexed in search results and make those results far less useful than they typically are.

Search Engine Journal staff writer Roger Montti pointed out how even though "Google has suffered outages in the past, Google has not experienced so many outages in such a short period of time," as it did in the first half of 2019, suggesting the series of problems could be tied to a larger issue like an infrastructure update.

In July, Google had to fix a bug that caused search results to not fully render for some people over a span of several days.

Then, in the following month, it fixed another a bug that prevented newly-published content from being indexed again (same issue as May).

And, just as recent as February 2020, Google experienced glitches with Google Search Console and Google Tag Manager that caused some sites to become unverified in Search Console.

Clearly, this isn't a problem most Google users would even recognize, but it was another issue that had some sort of impact on search, its users, and Google.

3. Never 100% Accurate

No search engine is perfect.

But they have all been impressive at one point or another with the results they serve up, and Google is certainly no exception to that.

While it doesn't need a specific name or entity title to get the answer you're looking for, Google is able to connect the dots for people more often than not when delivering an answer with a limited amount of information for many informational-type searches.

Other, more-granular searches that are guided with specific details – like a person's name – can result in a short, simple answer that usually becomes a featured snippet.

These answers are a work in progress – that is, building out the database tied to the entities referenced in those answers.

More often than not, featured snippet answers are correct, or at least mostly correct.

There are certainly times when the answers, or at least parts of the answers, are incorrect, though.

Like the example below (which is now fixed), Google referenced Ice Cube's net worth, but then suggested some other similar searches, which include a photo of rapper Vanilla Ice as the representation for (a different) rapper, Ice-T.

8 Things That Are Wrong with Google Search Today

Another example involves actor James Earl Jones and an honorary Oscar he received.

A simple search mentioning the two main entities in the query (Earl Jones and the Oscars) brings back plenty of quality results.

But it also says James Earl Jones is dead after a one-year battle with ovarian cancer (an excerpt from his Wikipedia page that is actually citing the death of Jones' wife, Cecilia Hart).

8 Things That Are Wrong with Google Search Today

This is clearly another mistake tied to the criteria used by Google for choosing the extracted data as answers, or part of the answers, to certain questions.

It can and will be fixed eventually, and even though it's a small piece of misinformation related to the entity in question, the inaccuracy highlights another flaw of Google.

4. Google Does What It Wants (& It's Not Always Ideal or Accurate)

We know Google loves to test new features and ideas – and they don't always (or rarely) stick.

This can be both confusing and frustrating.

Changing a brand's marketing approach and general strategy because of a change Google claims is here to stay is dangerous and irresponsible. (See: Google+ and Authorship Markup.)

Google has a plan and few, if any, outside of the company have any input into the decisions made or directions certain projects, apps, and ideas go — no matter how big or small.

There's a long list of failures – or at least defunct – products and services Google once offered and no longer does.

This is a testament to Google's behavior of changing the tide, sometimes drastically, only to revert back or go in a different direction entirely.

It is not necessarily bad to test new ideas in attempt to improve your product. But when you allow, or even recommend, millions of brands to shape their strategies (and dollars) around these changes, only to backpedal, there are victims and there are losers.

Google is never either of those two things.

5. Privacy?

It may have been a bit of a secret 10 years ago, but it's not anymore.

Google acquires and uses the personal data of its users regularly, and even leverages that data for its own profitable gain.

It sounds so dirty when we say it like that. And it pretty much is.

Google tracks us and every search we make.

Search history has gotten murderers convicted and it's also generated hundreds of billions of dollars in advertising profits ($135 billion in 2019, to be exact).

That's a lot of power for one entity to have. It's easily the most controversial aspect to the business model of the fourth-richest company in the world (Google's parent company Alphabet).

And with the growth of in-home Google Assistant products like Google Home and Nest, the "invasion of privacy" is only increasing.

And Google uses that data to sell advertising.

6. You've Got to Pay to Play

So, Google sells the data it takes from its users to make its profits via advertising.

And it used to offer some of that data to marketers for organic marketing purposes, too. But those days are long gone.

Now, to access proprietary search data compiled and owned by Google in Keyword Planner, marketers have to spend over a certain dollar threshold in advertising per month (although Google never announced what that threshold is).

Not only is the fourth-richest company in the world invading privacy and compiling data to leverage its business, but it's also withholding that data unless business partners spend a large amount of money regularly each month.

To make matters worse, Google keeps creeping closer and closer to having paid search engine results resemble organic search engine results, further clouding the ethical space between ads and organic content and how each appears to users.

This is creating a better advertising product for Google (because paid results that look more like organic results will typically perform well) but allowing brands to pay to "rank" well while appearing to be a non-paid result is misleading.

Paid search ads are designed to convert and, while Google does offer a quality score for those ads, they are not organically awarded for the usual reasons (i.e., favorable user experience, quality content offering that is valuable and educational, a user's best interest in mind, etc.).

7. Google Can't Do It All

Google knows it's not perfect.

Indexing all of the content on the web regularly is more than just a daunting task; it's impossible.

Google has indexed trillions of webpages – but it has not and likely will not index every single piece of content on the web.

That's a result of the robustness of the web's content offering, and Google also admits that it cannot crawl all elements of websites effectively.

Written text is easy to crawl and index – images, videos, and certain HTML elements are not so easily crawl and indexed.

This could make it tougher for websites that operate without that knowledge in mind to communicate effectively, eliminating potentially critical content from the eyes of Google, and thus the web's audience.

8. It's Just Not What It Once Was

Truth be told, this is the most important reason why Google continues to succeed.

While the search engine operates differently than ever before, it's also more advanced and knowledgeable than ever before. It's able to accomplish feats we didn't expect, delivering answers quickly and easily for users, and only getting better as time progresses.

With its thousands of updates per year and its goal of getting information to people easier and faster than ever before, Google is sending a message that it is not going to stop and sit on its product, probably ever. It will keep adapting it to change and perform at its best always.

Changing to cater to the behavior of humans (i.e., favoring mobile, adapting to new technology, etc.) has allowed Google to continue its impressive growth, and will continue to do so as long as it keeps at it.

Implementing game-changing technology that continues to take its search engine to new heights (i.e., machine learning, artificial intelligence, etc.) allows Google to stay useful, relevant, and always just a pocket-reach away.

Don't expect any of these Google discrepancies to change anytime soon, either.

You can expect Google to continue its global domination, as well as domination of the search engine market, regardless of it continuing much of what we talked about above.

It's still the best search engine in the world, and it's still (mostly*) free.

*signifies the compensation for this free service is personal data that the company uses

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Image Credits

Screenshots taken by author, February 2020

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