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January 2020 core update guide

January 2020 Core Update: All You Need to Know (Plus Tips on How to Survive It)

On January 13, Google announced a core algorithm update called the January 2020 Core Update.

Immediately, site owners took to social media to express their dismay on (yet another) major change that could affect the years of hard work they’d put into reaching a top spot on Google’s SERPs.

Some posted despairing memes. Others begged Google “not to be cruel.” Yet others worried how their keyword rankings would be affected as the new update rolled in.


So, what is the January 2020 Core Update?

Should you be worried about it? Most importantly, what changes should you make to your site so you don’t lose your Google rankings?

Let’s explore this massive update in today’s brand new blog. 👇

Should you be worried about @Google's January Core Update? 🤔 What should you do to maintain your rankings? 📈 Find out in this new guide by @JuliaEMcCoy Click To Tweet

January 2020 Core Update: All You Need to Know (Plus Tips on How to Survive It) – Table of Contents

January 2020 Core Update, Explained

Experts and Content Creators Speak Up about the January 2020 Core Update

The Top Sites Impacted by the January 2020 Core Update

How to Optimize Your Site to Survive the January 2020 Core Update

5 Aspects of Content That Ranks Well on Google

1. Originality
2. Comprehensiveness
3. Expertise
4. User-Friendly and Trustworthy Presentation
5. User Value

5 Tips to Update Your Content and Continue Ranking Well Despite Major Google Updates

1. Write Content You Can’t Find Elsewhere
2. Improve Content Found on High-Ranking Sites for Your Keyword
3. Proofread to Perfection
4. Step into Your Audience’s Shoes
5. Forget Keywords

Moving Forward after the January 2020 Core Update

January 2020 core update

January 2020 Core Update, Explained

Google’s number one goal is to provide value to users. Because of this, it has made thousands of changes per year in recent years.

However, not all of these changes are noticeable. Most of them are tiny tweaks.

The January 2020 Core Update is different. According to Google, this update will have more noticeable and actionable effects for content producers and webmasters.

Google Webmaster Central blog

source: Google Webmaster Central Blog

The January 2020 Core Update is different. 🤯 According to Google, this update will have more noticeable and actionable effects for content producers and webmasters. Click To Tweet

What it boils down to is Google making a brand-new list of the top sites with the most value in 2020.

If your site takes a hit and falls in the SERPs, it’s not because it’s a bad site. It’s simply because users are changing. There are a ton of new sites online. And there are sites which have been online for some time, but whose value was never fully discovered.

SEJ - core update advice

Source: Search Engine Journal

Overall, the January 2020 Core Update is going to shake up the SEO world. Let’s look at what webmasters and content creators have to say about it.

Experts and Content Creators Speak Up about the January 2020 Core Update

Users reacted differently when the news of the January 2020 Core Update was released. Some were dismayed.

Others were confused.

Still others decided to laugh it off.

Of course, top marketers and SEO experts had their own opinions.

Rand Fishkin’s interest was on the bolded ads, favicons, and brand icons featured in the update.

SEMrush listed three prominent changes the update included.

A few days after the release of the update, Glenn Gabe tweeted his findings on the “volatile” splash it had made.

Will this update affect you? According to Danny Sullivan, it will, no matter where you live.

The Top Sites Impacted by the January 2020 Core Update

In the few days since the January 2020 Core Update rolled in, various sites in different sectors showed significant change in SERP rankings. Let’s look at the winners and losers (so far).

1. Sites with Improved Rankings Since the January 2020 Core Update

According to data from Sistrix, sites in the health sector enjoyed gains since the update rolled in. OnHealth.com and verywellhealth.com saw a 37.7% and 34.72% change, respectively.

January 2020 Core Update winners

Source: Sistrix.com

Other sites with improved ranking include a football site, a movie tickets site, and two news sites. Could this have to do with trending news (the British Royal Family and the Holocaust) and entertainment content?

2. Sites with Lower Rankings Since the January 2020 Core Update

The sites which took the biggest hits since the update are carmagazine.co.uk and boxofficemojo.com.

January 2020 Core Update losers

Source: Sistrix.com

The data shows car buyer and finance sites also taking hits since the update rolled in. Could this be because of the pricing information within the sites? It’s interesting to note that boxofficemojo.com (a movie site just like fandango.com) also shows information related to money.

How to Optimize Your Site to Survive the January 2020 Core Update

Like tons of content creators and webmasters, you’re likely scratching your head over all this information. Luckily, Google has some advice on how to optimize your site for the update.

Google 2020 update - focus on content

Source: webmasters.googleblog.com

Clear as mud?

Let’s go deeper into what it takes to create the kind of content Google always ranks well, no matter what changes it makes to its algorithms.

5 Aspects of Content That Ranks Well on Google

When you add these killer components to your site, you don’t have to spend hours analyzing why one movie site enjoyed gains since the January 2020 Core Update, while another movie site took a serious hit.

5 aspects of content that ranks well on google

1. Originality

Take a look at this piece on cats purring by WebMD.

WebMD cats purring

The article is informative, plus it comes from a trusted domain. On the other hand, look at this one from WHISKAS.

Whiskas why cats purr

A piece like this isn’t counted as plagiarism, as nothing is copied word-for-word from WebMD. However, almost everything is the same. There’s no originality and nothing new added to it.

The result? Although WebMD ranks 422 on Google global engagements, Whiskas ranks 1,752, 296.

2. Comprehensiveness

Comprehensive content dives deep into a topic rather than merely scratching the surface. It provides statistics, charts and graphs, guidelines, and relevant images. After readers go through the article, they feel they’ve gained an insider view into the topic.

Length is an important factor to consider when it comes to content comprehensiveness. It’s almost impossible to dive deep into a topic with a 500-word blog. According to various sources of data, the best length is between 2,000 and 3,000 words.

Average engagement by content length

3. Expertise

When searching for medical advice online, what would you prefer to read? A blog written by a well-known doctor or one by an anonymous person who simply rewrites information they find online?

Expertise is important to Google rankings. Sites owned by people who’ve established authority in their industry do much better than random sites without clear credentials.

4. User-Friendly and Trustworthy Presentation

Imagine reading through a site teaching you how to use English grammar and noticing typos and the misuse of adverbs. Even if this site were owned by an authority in language, you’d still click the back button to look for something else. This shows how important it is for content to be free of sloppiness and errors.

Presentation also affects user experience. For instance, think of how annoying it is to read a blog and have a ton of distracting ads crop up. Or imagine opening a site on your mobile device just to find it’s not optimized for mobile users.

5. User Value

Google’s number one goal, as mentioned, is to give real value to real people. This is what all the updates boil down to.

So, ranking well on Google isn’t about keywords. It’s not even about meta data, rich snippets, and title tags (although they help). What ranking well on Google IS about is making people’s lives a little better each time they visit your site.

Content that continually ranks well on Google has these 5 killer components: 1) Originality 🦄 2) Comprehensiveness ☑ 3) Expertise 👩‍🏫 4) User-friendly, trustworthy presentation 👍 5) User value ❤ Click To Tweet

5 Tips to Update Your Content and Continue Ranking Well

So how do you take the five aspects of good content mentioned above and add them to everything you write? Use these smart tips.

5 tips for updating your content

1. Write Content You Can’t Find Elsewhere

Choose a blog on your topic that ranks highly on Google. Read it thoroughly. Then, ask yourself this question: “What can I add to my blog that isn’t dealt with here?”

For instance, look at this piece from Wired titled Why Do Cats Love Boxes So Much?

Wired - Why do cats love boxes so much

To add unique information to your blog on this topic, you could dive a little deeper and do some research on how cats in the wild “withdraw and hide.” Provide information and details beyond what everyone else has already written about.

2. Improve Content Found on High-Ranking Sites for Your Keyword

Type your keyword into Google. Then, go through the sites that rank highest on the SERPs. Are they good? In-depth? As a reader, what satisfies (and dissatisfies) you about each article or blog? Your next step is to find ways to make your content an improved version of the highest-ranking content on Google.

3. Proofread to Perfection

Follow this five-step guide to ensure your content sparkles every single time.

  • Go over your content quickly to get a first impression.
  • Scrutinize each paragraph to see if it supports your big idea.
  • Attack your blog’s organization – ruthlessly pull sentences and paragraphs apart until they flow well.
  • Read it out loud to nail your tone of voice.
  • Read it again, this time from bottom to top.

4. Step into Your Audience’s Shoes

Why did users look up your topic? What do they fear, dream, desire? When you know your audience, you’ll know what they’re looking for in your content.

5. Forget Keywords

Write naturally. Use keywords because you’re dealing with the topic they surround, not because you need to reach a 3% keyword density.

Want to survive @Google updates? 1) Write content you can't find elsewhere. 🔥 2) Improve on high-ranking content. 🥇 3) Proofread to perfection. 💯 4) Step into your audience's shoes. 👟 5) Forget keywords. 💃 ✅ Click To Tweet

Moving Forward after the January 2020 Core Update

The bad news is the January 2020 Core Update is huge.

The good news is it doesn’t matter.

Yes, your site can take hits and lose rankings. But in the long run, if you focus on becoming your users and knowing what they need, your site will always do well in Google search. You’ll rise above the January 2020 Core Update, or whatever updates rock the SEO world in the future.

Looking for expert blogs, articles, and more that are original, trustworthy, and comprehensive? We write content that ranks well in Google, no matter the updates. Check out our pricing.

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Google RankBrain Launches, 15% of New Keyword Searches Come to Light

Big news in the Interwebz! Officially on October 26, 2015, Google released news that it has begun using an artificial intelligence page ranking system called “RankBrain.”

This AI (Artificial Intelligence) system is designed to help Google organize and categorize all of its search results and news of it is currently breaking the Internet. For those of you who are unfamiliar, here’s the skinny on the new RankBrain technology.

Google Rankbrain

What is Google RankBrain?

Google RankBrain is an AI system that Google designed to assist in processing search results. The system operates by teaching itself how to complete a task and is currently being used to search the billions of pages in Google’s ranking indexes in order to find the ones that are most relevant and most valuable for a given search query.

Because the release is so new, it’s still a little unclear whether or not RankBrain is a part of the entire Google Algorithm known as Hummingbird, but sources like Search Engine Land believe that it is.

There are dozens of components that make up Hummingbird and many SEOs believe that RankBrain is simply the latest. This is fueled by the fact that Bloomberg Business reported that Google RankBrain won’t handle all searches as the algorithm would, and is only responsible for a portion of them.

According to Google, RankBrain has been live since early in the year and has been fully rolled-out for several months now. RankBrain will affect a huge number of queries and, as queries continue to roll in, the AI system will continue to become more advanced and learn to make predictions about certain search patterns.

In fact, RankBrain is already beginning to get better at predicting a page’s rank than its human counterparts: according to recent information, engineers involved in developing the software were asked to guess where various pages would be ranked according to Google’s ranking signals.

robot gif Rankbrain

“RankBrain” makes me conjure up this image… remember those crazy Boston Dynamic dog-like bots?

While the engineers guessed correctly 70% of the time, RankBrain got it right 80% of the time. (Better than human?)

People who want to learn more about exactly how the AI properties of RankBrain function can consult this blog post (although the technology is not called RankBrain in the post).

How Does Google RankBrain Work?

The details on this are still foggy but right now the best guess is that RankBrain is used to interpret searches that are submitted to Google and to match them with pages that may not feature the exact keyword phrase that was searched for, but which are relevant nonetheless. This is an expansion on previous Google technologies that allowed the search engine to present pages that didn’t feature the exact search terms entered – so that people searching for “running shoes” would also see pages that targeted the keyword “sneakers” and so on and so forth.

Right now, Google receives over 3 billion searches on a daily basis and, in 2007, the search engine giant reported that 20-25% of those search terms were totally unfamiliar. In 2013, that number scaled down to 15%, which was still significant for such a huge machine (it amounts to about 450 million search terms each day that Google has never seen). The 15% estimation holds true today and, presumably, RankBrain is a way to refine and categorize those queries in order to deliver better results for Google users.

How RankBrain Is Involved in Google’s Ranking Signals

When it comes time to rank a webpage, Google uses a wide variety of so-called “signals” to determine how to rank the page in the index. Things like bolded words, mobile-friendly pages, and local listings are all signals that Google uses to rank a page. These signals are processed by various parts of the algorithm in order to determine which pages show up in SERPs and which do not.

According to Google, there are more than 200 big-time ranking signals used when ranking each page. Many people believe that these 200 signals then give way for up to 10,000 sub-signals. This is important to know because, seemingly out of the blue, Google is now saying that RankBrain is the third-most important ranking signal in existence right now. Although we know that this is a huge development, since we don’t know exactly how RankBrain will look in the coming months, it’s hard to tailor content to this development as it stands now.

The Future of Google RankBrain

Right now, many SEO experts believe that the presence of RankBrain may indicate a future trend toward voice searches.

Because people don’t issue voice searches the same way they issue text-based searches, search engines and marketers alike need to start adapting now.

For example, a person who wants to issue a voice search may ask “Where can I get a bagel in NYC?” while a text search may look more like “bagels NYC.” The fact that RankBrain is capable of learning, adapting to, and predicting a variety of new search queries indicates that the Google engineers may be predicting an AI system that can eventually answer basic questions and even complete easy puzzles.

This, ultimately, is an extension of a program called The Knowledge Graph, which Google released in 2012. The Knowledge Graph was Google’s way to reach toward becoming more intelligent about the connections between words. With the inception of this program, Google moved toward doing what it called searching for “things not strings.” This meant that Google went beyond searching only for information that matched a string of letters and began, instead, searching for pages that provided answers to the questions a person was probably asking through their search queries. For example, The Knowledge Graph allows searchers to enter a term like “when was Nixon born?” and get an answer complete with maps without ever specifying that you mean President Nixon.

Knowledge Graph Screenshot

As RankBrain becomes more established, it seems evident that the service will combine with other Google technologies, such as rich answers (more on these in a moment) to create an intuitive search experience that allows the search engine to see and predict patterns and decipher complex, long-tail queries that may not target specific keywords. RankBrain is designed to translate those queries and present the correct information to the searcher in a format that doesn’t require him or her to navigate away from the search page. This, in turn, will help decrease the number of search queries that Google can’t understand and will create a more satisfying search experience for searchers and Google engineers alike.

The Future of Search & the Increase of Rich Answers

The trend toward more information with every search has already been exhibited through Google’s rich answers. Instead of displaying a simple response when a query is issued, Google progressively upped its rates of rich answers, which is an attempt by the search engine to answer queries in a way that doesn’t require users to click through a website. Rich answers include things like snippets, charts, tables, maps, forms, sliders, and images. Consider the following example of a rich answer:

Rich Answer

Recently, a study conducted by Stone Temple Consulting revealed that of 850,000 search queries entered, a whopping 19.45% of them result in rich answers.

This, along with the introduction of RankBrain may well point to the fact that Google as a whole is leaning toward a more intuitive, intelligent search system that helps users find exactly what they want in a single search while also picking up the slack for 450 million unfamiliar search terms.

Although the scope of RankBrain is not yet clear, it seems evident that the new program is a sliver of the big picture and that RankBrain is primed to make a big impact on search results forever.

Google isn’t exactly an impulsive company and, while the search engine giant tests many things, it only launches huge changes when it’s reasonably certain that they will make a positive impact that aligns with Google’s overall mission and projections. Additionally, the fact that RankBrain is now the third-most important ranking signal in all of Google is a huge deal and serves to further reinforce the idea that Google engineers are gearing up for big changes in the way people search the web.

So How Do We Prep for Search Changes Across all Content?

For marketers, these impending search changes have the potential to offer huge branding benefits if content is designed correctly.

For now, though, we have yet to see exactly what RankBrain will do and how it will affect queries. As always, we will keep you posted as we learn more but, for now, the same thing as always holds true: create original, high-quality content, post it often, do good keyword research, and be active on a variety of social media outlets. That is the key to search query success.

Find quality copywriting in our Content Shop to get well-written, thought-leadership content your readers will love.

google phantom algo update

What Does Google’s New Phantom Algorithm Update Mean For Content?

Google really wants you to mind your P’s (though I guess they care nothing about your Q’s.) First there was Panda and Penguin, and now there is the Phantom.

The Ms. Manners of web traffic has secretly updated its algorithm (again) and made havoc for many content creators out there. Let’s take a look.

What is Google’s Phantom All About?

Earlier this month, HubPages, which as its name suggests is a huge hub of pages on informational content of all sorts, saw its traffic drop by 22 percent seemingly overnight. Other sites, such as WikiHow and eHow saw drops as well, though not as significant.

What had happened? No one was sure because Google is keeping tight lipped, but we do know it has something to do with what Glenn Gabe, a search engine expert, coined “the phantom” or, since this is not the first time Google has so covertly turned Internet searches on its head, “phantom 2.”

Basically, as far as the experts can tell, Google made a change to its algorithm that has the potential to hurt many websites who rely on Google to get traffic.

But what does this mean for you and your website as you try to create a Google-friendly body of content?

What All the Google Updates Have In Common With the New Phantom

I have talked about this before: you have to write good content. Forget for a second the fact that readers want good content and if you do not give it to them, they are not going to read what you have to say. So who cares if you pop up on Google or not? Let’s not worry about that right now. Let’s focus on Google.

What do Panda, Penguin, and Phantom have in common other than they all start with P and they were all Google updates (and they are all nouns)?  They were all created, at least allegedly, to weed out weak content.

  • Panda. This update was created in order to make low-quality sites or weaker content rank lower on the Google totem pole. What this meant was that higher-quality sites with strong content got bumped up in the rankings and made it to the top of Google searches. And let’s face it, who is going to page 10? The higher you are, the better your chances of someone clicking on you.
  • Penguin. This update was created in order to punish “link baiters.” Link baiters are the websites that post links back to themselves all over the Internet in order to appear like a quality site. (If you have ever wondered why someone would take the time to leave a comment on a post about, well, pretty much any topic, in order to mention their completely unrelated and often gibberish sales pitch with a link back to their site, now you know the reason.) Google was not fooled by this scheme and fixed their algorithm to reduce the success of these link impersonators.
  • Phantom. Now, there is the phantom. At first, Google was not commenting on the update, and so we were all left to speculate. What was pretty popularly decided was that Google was targeting informational sites and How to sites that had lower level quality content. However, we have since found out that this was a little misleading. According to a press release by ASEOhosting, Google is not targeting informational and How to sites. Instead, they are simply targeting sites with poorer quality content, which happens to include some informational and How to sites.

What this tells you is that the content game is survival of the fittest. If you create strong content, you are going to beat out weaker content. And the stronger your content is, the less you have to worry about Google. If everything they do is done in order to make life easier for quality content, you know that you are going to remain on top as long as you keep creating the best content.

Lesson: Do Not Write Bad Content

I am not repeating myself here. Write good content and do not write bad content are not synonyms. You could write good content and bad content if you wanted to. I would advise you not to, though. Google does not reward good content, it simply punishes bad content.

Ari Levi discusses Gabe’s, the search engine expert’s, assessment of the phantom in a CNBC article. What Gabe found was that even informative, well written pages were being ranked lower. In other words, an entire domain was being hurt because of its bad content even if it also created good content.

Basically what this means for you is that it does not matter how good some of your content is if the rest is awful. It is not enough to start writing good content, you have to stop writing bad content.

How Do You Write Good Content and Avoid Bad Content?

It is easy to say that you will get rid of your weaker content and start churning out good content. It is a lot harder to actually do it. With everything else you have going on in your career and business, how are you supposed to start over from scratch if you have not already been creating strong articles?

As difficult as it may seem, there are some foundational easy ways that you can do this.

  1. The first, and perhaps easiest, is to outsource. Hire someone else to write your content for you. Professional writers know what they are doing not only because they are good writers with a passion for words, but because they have to stay on top of things. Their job is to research what makes good content, how to properly use SEO, and what Google wants. They get training and alerts when the rules change. They make a living by consistently giving you good, quality content. So you might as well take advantage of them.
  2. If you do write your own content, whether entirely or even just some of it, do your research and perhaps get some training. Make it a point to keep up with these changes. Follow some blogs that talk about web writing. Maybe even take a training course on content creation.
  3. When you write, write for a human being. Yes. Make sure you know and use important keywords. Yes. Think a little about what Google might like. However, do not write for Google, write for your audience. But more about that in a second.
  4. Never write something just because you want to post something. Always have a meaning and a purpose behind your words.
  5. Be trustworthy. Back up your claims with research. Don’t just say, “Buy us because we are the best.” Say why you are the best and convince your readers that you really are.

Worry a Little Less About Google, a Little More About Your Readers

I mentioned it above, but it is important enough to merit its own section: worry more about your readers than about Google.

Google is smart. Google is kind. Google is important. But in the end, your readers are more important. Who cares if Google thinks you should be number one on people’s search results if the reader does not agree. They might click on you, but they won’t click back on you if you do not convince them to stay.

When you write, think about your readers. What do they want to hear? What do they want to know? Base what you write on those facts. In the end, it is the readers’ opinion and thoughts that will make a sale or conversion. So focus on them, and you will not have to focus as much on what Google is plotting in its secret lair hidden away from prying eyes.

Here is the thing, though. If you write what your readers’ want to know, then not only will it make your content better, but it will make you fall right into their searches anyway. That list of keywords your SEO guy sends you did not come out of thin air. It came from data about what your potential audience has been searching for.

If you write what they want, then they are going to be searching for what you write. It’s simple logic. So ultimately, if you write for your readers, you are going to rank higher in Google anyway. Win, win.

Cross Your Fingers and Hope for the Best

In the end, you can do everything I am writing, and Google can change the game again tomorrow. Even Gabe, who is a well-respected expert, admits to being at a loss as to what should be done and how to handle Google.

A lot of your web writing life is trial and error, guess and predictions. However, if you consistently create good content, you do not have to worry about all that. Google wants readers to find you, and even without searches, readers keep the very best websites bookmarked.

So what should you do about the phantom? Give it what it wants – high quality content that readers can trust. And you should be doing that anyway with or without Google.

accurate content

Is Google Ranking Your Content Based On Accuracy?

Google is always updating, with an algorithm change at least every few weeks. Now, in a move to help people find great, accurate content, Google is working on a content accuracy algorithm that will help direct people to accurate sites quickly and easily.

We recently wrote a guest blog on SiteProNews about this very topic, which had a lot of traction inside just 24 hours. Because of this, we wanted to look into the topic further and provide even more data about this hot topic.

Accurate Content: Does Google Care and Why?

Social media has been abuzz lately with the latest Google news to come down the line. It is big enough that it didn’t just spark interest for businesses and SEO experts, but it also got your clients’ attention. People readily assume that content is always accurate because, if it is on the Internet, it has to be true! Or, at least, that is what many people believe. This, however, makes many people fall victim to false news from satire news sources without any verification about the particular topic. Very few people will double check by searching Google for the topic and won’t go to Snopes to see if anything has been written. Because of this, Search Engine Journal says that Google is deeming it necessary for websites to have accurate content.

One of the main reasons Google cares about people getting truthful content is that they have a strong desire to provide people with excellent, expert content and accuracy plays a big part in that. If you don’t believe me when it comes to Google wanting to give readers the best content possible through search results, just take a look at all of the various algorithms they have introduced over the last few months and years.

How Will Google Determine Accurate Content?

According to the Search Engine Journal article I shared above, Google has an interesting plan to check for accuracy. It seems complicated, but Google is planning to build an algorithm that cross checks your content against a number of verified, reputable sources. They haven’t said exactly what these places will be, but a few that come to mind could be places such as Huffington Post, or industry related websites. For the copywriting industry, this could be Moz or HubSpot. This way, Google can tell for sure if you are writing something that is truthful or if it is misleading. This doesn’t seem like it will be too much of a detriment to too many businesses, but it is wise to make sure you know what is going on and ensuring all of your existing and future content is accurate.

How Could This Impact Your Website?

If you are readily publishing accurate content already, you will not have too much to fear from this change. However, if your content has the chance to be somewhat inaccurate or completely so, this could have a huge, negative impact on your site. I don’t have any statistics at the moment as this algorithm is still in works by the Google team, but if it is anything like other algorithms, you can expect to see a few things. Some of the repercussions could be loss of rank on the search engine results page and being slapped with a not-so-fun penalty. Depending on the severity, it could take you a bit to recover. Don’t be too alarmed though! I plan on giving you some concrete ways to check your content’s accuracy before this algorithm is put in place.

What are the Perks of Accurate Content?

There are several great perks when it comes to having accurate content. First of all, it will set you up as a leading voice in your industry. If you write accurate content, you will not only look good to your clients, but also to others in the industry. Secondly, it will help you generate great, fresh content all the time. Another perk I see to accurate content is that it is significantly easier to write naturally when you are telling the truth. Writing naturally is a big part of content writing, and writing truthfully will help with that.

The Top Two Ways to Ensure Your Content is Accurate

Now that I’ve looked at this new algorithm some, I am going to give you something to take away. Here are the top two things I suggest to help you write accurate content, as well as making sure your current content is accurate.

  1. Do Research on Reputable Websites. When you write your content, a great way to get accurate content is to do your research on reputable websites such as Huffington Post, or leading websites in your industry. You should also always make sure to fact check your own content by comparing the research to multiple reputable sites just to be careful.
  1. Get a Content Audit. One of the best ways to make sure you have accurate content is to get a content audit. This will look over your web pages to show you what is working, what should be changed, and giving you an idea on how to tweak your future pages. You can also use a content audit to make sure that your content is accurate before the Google algorithm hits.

Don’t hesitate to check out our article on SiteProNews linked in the intro for more ways you can write accurate content.

Authenticity is the New Sexy

Creating authentic content is the best way to convince readers and clients that your business is the one to be trusted. It has always been an important element in content creating, but now with Google’s impending algorithm, the importance has skyrocketed. Take this opportunity to check and see if your content is currently accurate, and always make sure you write accurate content in the future. If you want to ensure every piece of your content is accurate, you can trust Express Writers. We provide content audits to look over content, which will help you prepare for the new algorithm. In addition, our expert team of copywriters always writes excellent, accurate content. Don’t hesitate to ask us questions about how we can help you with great content!

Photo credit: juras10 / iStock

google panda 4.0

Google Cracks Down on Spam with Panda 4.0 Algorithm Update  

Image Source: www.famousbloggers.net

Apparently, Google doesn’t plan to stop pulling rabbits out of its white hat anytime soon. Over the past weekend, Google has started rolling out a brand-new algorithm update designed to win the battle with spam, in all its forms.

On May 20th, Matt Cutts announced on Twitter that Google is ready to launch its Panda 4.0 update:

Matt Cutts

Most likely, to reinforce its efforts to ensure a superior web experience for all users while fighting the creation and promotion of low-quality, meaningless content. As a matter of fact, according to The Moz Blog, Google actually gave the green light to 2 updates: Payday Loan 2.0. (which addresses “very spammy queries”) and Panda 4.0.

Meet the Winners and the Losers of Panda 4.0

Some of the biggest players on digital markets have already been hit hard by this new update that impacted their website traffic: Search Engine Journal reveals that ask.com, ebay.com and biography.com are only 3 of the giant well-known websites that witnessed a drastic traffic reduction of over 33%. Yikes! Panda 4.0 also announced a few lucky winners that managed to display substantial traffic gains, including emedicinehealth.com, medterms.com and zimbio.com (revealing an astonishing 500% traffic increase!)

Can you guess what separates the winning side from the sore losers? Content appears to be the game-changer. At this point, these numbers are difficult to interpret. However, most of the players that were brought to their knees by Panda 4.0 promoted duplicate or syndicated content, so this may be one of the causes of their recent failure. However, taking into account that the new update is not entirely rolled out, we can still expect to witness many more ranking changes.

Should We Feel Intimidated by the New Panda 4.0 Algorithm Update?

Each and every single time Google is getting ready to throw unscrupulous spammers to the lions (or to the cranky Pandas, in this case) without giving us a heads-up, we can’t help but wonder: how it this change going to impact websites and everyday people who depend on a regular content flow to grow and run their online businesses?

At this point, according to Search Engine Land, Google is now affirming that Panda 4.0 affects 7.5% of all English-language queries, while the Payday Loan update influences approximately 0.2% of the overall number of English searches.

There is a great deal of speculation regarding the overall impact of this new algorithm update and the supplementary measures of precaution that webmasters would be forced to take to avoid search engine penalties and stay friends with Google. Could this brand new wind of change reflect Google’s intention to throw a rope to small business owners who are struggling to make a name for themselves and improve their bottom line by simply boosting their premium content creation efforts?

Could We Be Dealing with a Less Aggressive Panda This Time?

During the Search Marketing Expo, Matt Cutts announced that Google’s search team is currently working on a new Panda update that may be cataloged by many people as “softer”. Furthermore, according to Search Engine Land, Cutts has explained that this update is specifically designed to lend a helping hand to small-scale businesses, by enabling their websites to perform better in search results. Could the 4.0 update represent the less aggressive approach to helping small company owners that Cutts was talking about not too long ago? It’s still too early to jump to conclusions.

Small business owners may expect an increased level of visibility in local search results, which would represent a great advantage. After all, unlike large corporations that set bigger goals and have the means required to reach a broad audience, most small companies choose to promote their business and market their goods locally, because most of their clients are recruited from the local sphere. In this particular content, one question comes to mind: would Google actually be willing to soften its Panda update? Sure, why not? Chances are that Google has actually embraced this approach, especially since it already counts on a solid precedent: the softer version of the Panda algorithm rolled out in July 2013 (one of our infographics explores the timeline history of SEO and Google’s most feared algorithm update).

All in all, even though we still don’t have all the details required to get the bigger picture when it comes to evaluating the fresh Panda 4.0 update, it seems that small businesses could actually benefit from this softer version allowing them to improve their online visibility.

Many webmasters probably feel that they are wandering in the dark and are most likely asking themselves the following question: how do we have to act from now on to cope with this change and adapt to new challenges?

Better Content Will Always Represent the Key to Success

There is only one good answer to this question: by investing more time, money and energy in original, reader-oriented, properly optimized content pieces that have nothing to do with spammy, black-hat SEO practices and any other attempts to deceive search engines. As long as you play by the book and realize that premium content created to provide value to your readers is the solid foundation of any successful strategy, you will manage to protect your business against the powerful wind of change without worrying that Google’s never-ending series of changes could nuke your company and burry it 6 feet under the ground.

Should SEO Experts Stop Trying to Make the Pig Fly?

These 2 new algorithm updates have created quite a stir in the SEO community. After all, many businesses that got hit by Panda never managed to recover, so the fact that changes implemented by Google make most webmasters tremble in terror is perfectly understandable.

But does this mean that this crazy zoo counting an angry Panda, Penguin and Payday Loan should make SEO experts quit their jobs and run away with the circus? Absolutely not! According to Bruce Clay, the president and owner of Bruce Clay Inc., (cited by Search Engine Journal), great search engine optimization strategies relying on orthodox, Google-friendly tactics, still manage to prove their effectiveness even with all these updated rolled out by Google. Google is constantly cracking down on superior quality, so as long as you maintain a user-friendly website with a logical architecture displaying premium, optimized, regularly updated content, you have nothing to worry about.

Keep in mind that neglecting Google’s rules and guidelines would be like swimming against the current: tiresome and pointless. All in all, above-the-average content is your one and only way of salvation.

Instead of spending a significant amount of time rubbing your crystal ball and trying to find out what the next update may bring, you could always redirect your resources towards content creation to enhance the value of your web writing and make it become truly irresistible in the eyes of both human readers and search engines.

 

 

Google algorithm updates

Google's Sneaky Little Redesigns (While We All Were Sleeping)

Google thinks that we are the kind of people who love surprises. We are not. At least when it comes to Search Engine Optimization (SEO) we love certainties that allow us to create and apply winning website optimization strategies. Google doesn’t seem to care about this, since it constantly bombards us with algorithm updates and an ever-growing number of changes that usually take us by surprise and make us rethink or rebuild our SEO plans from scratch.

Interpreting Google’s New Makeover

At this point, all webmasters should focus their attention on Google’s sneaky redesign ideas that have recently been put into practice, probably while we were enjoying our beauty sleep. All in all, it seems that these changes have been made to boost consistency in design, create a cleaner look and perfect the multi-device navigation experience.

Here’s are the main alterations that impact both SERPs formats and AdWords blocks.

1)      Search Results. Obviously, if you run an online business and your website is indexed by Google, you care about the way in which your webpage appears in search engine results. No, your eyes are not playing a trick on you and yes, Google does look a bit different. Here are the main modifications that should catch your eye: first of all, the new version brings a bigger, much more visible title font. At the same time, Google has decided to ditch the underlining and make the URL source just a bit smaller, without changing the mini links or the snippet.

The larger title font may make it easier for your visitors to find you, but this alteration has another implication that you may want to factor in: a bigger title font could reduce the size of some title tags and influence your conversion rates. According to Moz, this means that in the future you may be forced to create smaller title tags, at least for some of your most important pages. Furthermore, there is another important element that captures our attention: a horizontal divider placed at the bottom of the search result. This divider separates search engine results and makes it easier for visitors to find the sources of info that they would like to check out, regardless of the type of devices that they are using to surf the Internet.

2)      AdWords. Google has also implemented a few basic changes, in an attempt to come up with a new AdWords format. Here we spot the main key differences listed above: the oversized title fonts, the horizontal divider and the non-underlined titles. But there are other changes that have taken us by surprise. First of all, the pinkish background and the “ads related to” feature are no longer a part of the picture. A yellowish, very noticeable [Ad] box is strategically placed in front of every single ad. The right-hand side column of the Adwords block displays fewer, less dramatic changes, which include just one [Ad] box for the entire right column, more vertical space and bigger titles.

Should We Work Against the Game-Changer or Embrace the Change?

So the question on everybody’s lips is this: should we feel intimidated by these sudden changes that caught us off-guard?

In November, Moz anticipated the fact that Google will switch to a card-like design, meant to ensure an ideal web experience for all Internet users. As mobile and tablets become increasingly popular and new types of gadgets, like Google Glass could soon change the way in which we navigate online, Google is going for much more versatile SERPs that could be easily mixed and matched to provide different combinations that are much more relevant to various search devices and situations. The horizontal divider used to separate search engine results may not represent a major change for now, but it can be interpreted as a first modification made by Google in an attempt to reorganize the old SERPs that we know and love into units that could be reorganized and displayed in different ways.

It doesn’t really matter if we like the new redesign ideas or not. We have no saying in this. It’s important to know that these changes have recently been confirmed by Jon Wiley, Google’s top search designer and that they may be a tiny part of a much bigger plan. In this context, it is important to find out how these alterations could impact your website’s visibility and profitability and act accordingly. Don’t hate the game-changer; hate your potential lack of initiative that could jeopardize your efforts to stay in the game.

 

 

SEO trends in 2014

7 Ways Content Is Setting the Trends for SEO & Google Algorithms

There’s just no veiling this fact, folks: content has been king for a while now. (Did you know Bill Gates forecasted this all the way back in 1996?) Back in 2013, Entrepreneur told us to ditch the cold call sales technique and invest in blogs and Twitter instead. Notable sources like Copyblogger forecasted that 2013 would be the year of the writer.

Across the web, millions and billions of pages are written and published daily. In a study about Internet in numbers done by Royal Pingdom in 2012, it was estimated that there were 634 million websites and 51 million were added in 2012 alone. Can you imagine just how many were created in 2013? Well, according to Toni.org, the amount of websites is doubling each year and it is believed that there are close to a billion websites now. By his estimation, there will be 2 billion sites in 2015. That’s a lot of web content to sift through, and Google is there to make sure specific pages get to the top.

How is Content Setting the Trends

So how exactly is content going to set the trends for how Google looks at, ranks, and values their indexable pages? Worthy question, folks. Let’s take a dive through that sea!

1. People Want Relevancy

They want topics that are relevant to their likes, as well as topics that flow with the current trends. If you are busy still waxing eloquent on how amazing Brave was while everyone else is going on about Frozen, you are immediately looked at like the person who wears socks with their sandals. Relevant topics are the only way you are going to gain and maintain readership. This might seem a little frustrating if your topic does not seem to be the most relevant topic out there, but finding ways to make it mesh with its surroundings will help immensely. You can use some SEO copywriting tips such as creating an eye-catching title, having a strong start to your content and having a strong call to action. This will help readers feel your topic is relevant, get you further up on that Google search page, and, in the end, get you more readers.

2. Why is Content so Important to Readers?

Because, readers like to get information quickly, but also want to think that they are receiving information from a knowledgeable source. If your content is too short, people may suspect you are not as knowledgeable as you seem, especially in the age of Twitter and Tumblr regurgitation of articles. It seems everyone is an expert on spitting out the informational bare bones, but not many are experts in delving into the juicy meat of a subject. “But what about those casual browsers?” you ask. By offering a heartier wealth of information, you have the potential to turn those casual readers into intent readers, hungry for more information.

3. People Love In-Depth Discussions

You are used to hearing that you need to have short and concise articles and blogs in order to attract more readers, but the reality is Google ranks blogs with higher word counts and quality content. This is because they believe people are more likely to stick with an article that is longer than the short, concise article we have all been told is important. People want to see that lengthy post. They may not read every single word, but they will believe that you have the authority on your topic if the post is longer. That might seem strange, but think about how you feel when you search for an article. Do you prefer a site that seems much more knowledgeable, with lengthy descriptions or one that is short that barely gives any discussion on the topic?

4. Quality is Highly Important in the Game of Google

While long, in-depth content is a factor in ranking with Google another important factor is the quality of your content. If all you do is write specifically for the search engine and sacrifice quality in hopes of getting more viewership, you will find that you rank a lot lower than you initially thought you would. Google wants to make sure the content they rank is quality, something that is filled with interesting and engaging information.

Whatever your niche is, make your content something that is incredibly valuable to people interested in your product or topic. Give random facts that are not too well known, try to stay away from the generic, overdone articles. Find ways to implement relevant pop culture references to connect what you are discussing with something that the majority of people love. If you are a little confused as to what’s relevant, just pop onto Facebook, wade through all the Buzzfeed and Zimbio quizzes and find the stuff people are posting about. When it comes to finding your site at the top of a Google search, the more quality blogs, or content, you have is important. It is another part of the new Google algorithm, according to Jeff Quipp over at the Huffington Post. You also want to be seen as an authority on your topic.

5. Authorship is Important When Playing the Game of Google

In the game of Google, you rank, or you lose. There is no middle ground. Well, OK, it isn’t as intense as Cersei Lannister says it is, but close enough. You want your page to rank in order to get those readers. Readers don’t like to sift through page after page to find what they are looking for, so eventually they will give up the further down the search page they go.

As Business2Community says, the best way to use authorship in a way to get your page to rank is by creating that Google+ account. You know, the social media site no one thinks is cool? Well, Google is making its social media site important if you want your site to rank, making it higher up on the search page. By having your content published under your Google+ account, you will be seen as an authority on your topics and Google is more likely to boost you up the more posts your Google+ account has. See, that social media site is actually very important to content writing! If Google sees you as an authority in your field, they will rank you higher than those whom they do not deem to be experts. By combining quality content with Google authorship, your page will surely find itself ranking high.

6. Blog land is Important in Gaining and Maintaining Your Customers

According to this handy infographic from Brafton, people are more likely to purchase items from a company if they have seen the company’s blog first. In fact, most people are introduced to the company via the company’s blog. It is a great way to find out more information regarding the product they are interested in while also feeling that they have more of a connection with you and your business. Regardless of what the current research says, people still do crave connection. Only, they now crave it from more than just friends and family, but also from the companies where they shop. (It is a good feeling when a company seems to be talking specifically to you.) People are more likely to purchase a product or use a service if they feel that connection.

7. Getting to Know You

As we said, people like to feel connected to companies with which they are going to do business. You can make customers feel like they know you by providing information about yourself and the people who run your business. Before you go and make a generic “about” page, think about whom your target audience is and write your information accordingly. For example, by focusing on the community of nerds and geeks, a small group called Geek Girl Pen Pals has been attempting (successfully) to get people back into the art of letter writing. They write their information in a way that suits their target audience. The people who use this site are able to feel connected to the leaders by reading their information, reading blog posts on the site, and by following the leaders on social media. Get a little personal with people and you will see your site rank higher in the searches, gain new customers, and keep your existing ones.

Google’s New Algorithm Does Not Have to be a Challenge

You may find yourself having to rethink your content strategy due to Google’s new search algorithm, and we are here to give you a few final tips on how to make your content relevant for Google:

Assess and Analyze What Users Search For. According to Entrepreneur, assessing and analyzing what people are searching for will help you create relevant content that will rank with Google. Find the keywords people use when searching for topics in your field, and make sure they are more conversational. People don’t ask stilted questions when searching Google. Their questions are written the way they talk, no eloquent or awkward phrasing. The Internet has moved to a more casual and laidback frame of writing, meaning Google has adapted this to their search engine algorithm. Once you have figured out which keywords (and their synonyms) to use, it is time to figure out which type of post people are more likely to look for when searching your topic.

A few of these “favorite” type of posts, listed by Entrepreneur linked to above, are:

  • How-to’s: People really like to read articles that explain how to use something, how to create something, or how to do something new. Pinterest has made this even more popular, and many more people are getting the guts to try out new DIY projects than ever before.
  • “Top …” lists: You know these lists. The ones you see on Buzzfeed, or AFI’s Top 100 Movies of All Time. We all enjoy these lists and have for quite some time. They are a great way to learn about new topics we didn’t know or to feel validated in things such as the “Top Things About Being an Introvert/Extrovert” articles.
  • FAQs: We know that there are particular questions everyone has about a product or topic, so why not create an FAQ for your company’s blog, it is a great way to get people to read more about your business while also learning important information about their specific questions.

How Does Your Site Look?

After getting those readers to come and read your, “Top 10 Reasons Your Product is Far Out, Man” you need to make sure to keep them. Make sure your site isn’t filled with clashing colors, tiny type, and instant play music or instant play commercials. We know, you really like Pharrell’s Happy, and it totally works for your product, but people do not want to be sitting in the library and have the peppy song blare from their iDevice. Even if your site reflects your favorite colors or how colorful your product is make sure it does not stress out your eyes. Test it on a few honest friends before taking it live.

Getting Social

Lastly, getting social will help your site rank and bring in more readers. Get that social media button to go with each post, directing people to your Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc. (Also, Google will really like it if you have that Google+ button.) By having buttons, people can share your information as well as keep up with your updates. Having social sharing buttons is another great way to attract more people and help you outside of Google’s new search requirements. People who find your article are more likely to share said article if they have an available social sharing button to use. It is a quicker and easier way to share something they enjoy.

So Long, Farewell…

Now that you have read the various ways to improve your content and meet some of Google’s latest updates, it is time to go and implement them. Changing your content and content strategy to fit Google’s algorithm will not only help you rank higher, but will help you get more readers and keep those readers long-term. Why are you still reading? It’s time to go make your site the coolest site on the Internet!

 

 

google algorithm update

Was There a Google Algorithm Update on November 14?

There’s nothing worse than noticing a drop or significant change in your site’s activity without knowing what caused it. On November 15th, MozCast reported a significant temperature spike hitting 102.2.

No, there wasn’t a glitch in the system and the chat on Google didn’t discuss any updates, but there was certainly something amiss. So, was it an unannounced Google Algorithm update? Something Google seems to be doing a lot more of as of late.

SERPs.com and SERPmetrics both reported spikes on November 15th. While one day shifts are nothing to panic about, it often means there is something in the mix that needs to be investigated further.

 

The Big Guys Win Again

According to a blog by Moz.com, the Big 10 websites saw a significant increase in their search results for the day of the spike — with a jump of 15.39 percent to 15.89 percent. You might not think this number is anything to fret over, but that small fraction of a leap is actually a huge amount if you consider the statistics historically. Sites that had the biggest range jump included eBay, Amazon and Wikipedia — all enjoying three to five percent gains.

Yes, some algorithm updates can cause leaps in numbers like this, but a jump doesn’t necessarily mean an update either. So was there an update for sure?

No one has officially released the word on whether or not there was another algorithm change. In some cases big websites can benefit from algorithm changes, while the little guys suffer. However, there are times where these changes benefit or hurt everyone.
 
There are two things for certain that website owners and SEO specialists should keep in mind:

  1. There was a historical one-day change, which is something that cannot be ignored.
  2. The Big 10 metric has now hit yet another historical high — with the last high being in April of 2012.

Wikipedia, for example, gained a few spots on the first page of search results for terms such as “Famous Footwear Store Hours.” In fact, Famous Footwear went from holding eight spots down to four spots while Wikipedia quickly filled up the rest on the search engine result page. It is theorized that this drop is because someone else dropped out, leaving Wikipedia to fill the gap.

 

There Was a Glitch Though…

Google did have DNS issues on November 14th and there were plenty of errors to go around for that 24 hour period while Google worked out their issues. According to the Search Engine Roundtable, the change in ranking reports coincides with the DNS errors, but Search Engine Roundtable doesn’t see any changes for themselves.

It’s hard to say if there was really an update on November 14th or if the entire situation was a glitch. Because the holiday season is upon us (with Black Friday gone and Cyber Monday hitting hard), it’s natural for commercial SERPs to fluctuate — and it doesn’t necessarily mean Google has released or updated anything.

Whatever did occur November 14th hasn’t happened again and there’s no further news to confirm or deny an update. Thus, for now, consider it a SERP mystery. While a one-day spike is something you traditionally see with an update, the holiday season might account for the changes as well. Until then, the big websites can enjoy their new spaces.
 

classic advertising

Take Inspiration from 4 Old Marketing Campaigns to Power Up Your Holistic Inbound Marketing

Organic content marketing.

Non-paid search engine optimization.

Holistic inbound marketing.

Whatever name you call it, this type of marketing is all you need to get noticed online.

Paid search and advertising can only take you so far – you need to keep funneling money into these channels to keep them alive and working. You’re paying for a top spot on Google.

The investment in organic content marketing, on the other hand, is up-front. You put money into content creation and SEO, publish your stuff, promote it, and then sit back. After a few months, with the right attention to quality and optimization, your content starts climbing the SERPs.

That’s the major difference between paid, outbound marketing and organic, inbound marketing: One keeps building momentum as it nurtures leads. The other halts and drops dead the second the dollars and cents do.

Okay, so paid search has its benefits (immediate visibility on Google’s first page), but it only lasts as long as you keep paying.

So what about traditional advertising? Where does that get you?

Well…

Paid Ads and Cold Sells Do Not Nurture the Customer – Holistic Marketing Does

Traditional ads are one-and-done.

They’re the cold sell to end all cold sells.

They appear in front of a target pretty randomly – when they’re driving by a billboard, when they flip to a live TV show, or when they read a magazine at the doctor’s office.

Seeing an ad once is not enough to nurture a connection with a customer. That’s why you’ll see the same ads over and over – the companies want you to remember them, whether you want to or not.

These days, that type of approach feels irrelevant, intrusive, and, mostly, annoying.

Marketing as Holistic Relationship-Building

Of course, the way a holistic marketing strategy works is to draw people to your brand who are likely to buy from you. HubSpot calls this crucial first step the “Attract” stage:

You attract the right people with relevant, high-quality content that’s targeted for your potential leads’ state of mind. The value of the content you provide builds a relationship with your readers, one that stands on a foundation of trust.

Ultimately, that relationship and trust are what lead to a sale.

Newsflash: This Is Not a Novel Concept

This idea isn’t new…

In fact, it’s older than you may think.

Let’s turn back the clock and take a peek at how content marketing blossomed during the early days of advertising.

These old marketing campaigns from household brand names provided value that nurtured relationships with potential customers.

More than that, they may just inspire you anew with your own content ideation and creation.

Turn away from paying out your ears for ads or top SERP spots and follow me to…

5 Old Marketing Campaigns That Demonstrate the Awesomeness of Holistic Inbound Marketing

Before the internet, there was print content marketing. Here are four outstanding examples.

1. John Deere’s News Magazine

John Deere is a tractor and farm equipment manufacturer in the U.S.

The company’s most famous marketing campaign might serve as one of the earliest examples of organic content marketing.

John Deere has been around since 1837, but it wasn’t until 1895 that they launched their farming news magazine, The Furrow.

Volume VI of The Furrow, published in 1901

This publication is a fantastic example of long-form content marketing. It’s still published monthly, in fact, because it is:

  • Comprehensive
  • Targeted for John Deere’s customers
  • Informative/entertaining
  • A relationship builder between the company and their audience
  • Authoritative – it puts the emphasis on the company’s clout and know-how in the industry

The 1976 Bicentennial Issue

Today, the magazine still has an audience of about 2 million worldwide subscribers and is printed in 14 languages. Back issues are digitized on the magazine’s website:

Readers and farmers can check out articles that address topics like land conservation, the food system, sustainable farming and best practices, and the importance of plant diversity for crops.

This incredible content marketing initiative is undoubtedly part of the reason why John Deere is still a household name today.

2. American Express’ Travel Guides

American Express is a world-renowned financial services company.

How did it get there? With a little help from its comprehensive and user-focused content marketing through the decades.

When the company opened in 1850, it was initially a courier service in New York state. Then, by 1915, it added traveler’s checks and travel agency services to its roster. (Additional banking services came later.)

When it moved its focus to travel in the early 20th century, American Express decided it wanted to be the travel company of the United States.

How would they do it? With some really great holistic inbound marketing.

The company started publishing travel guides that became go-to resources for any traveler. They were informative, useful, colorful, interesting, and appealed to the average American Express customers – travelers, jet-setters, and professionals.

Here’s an early example of a guide to the French Riviera from 1917:

Check out this guide to Alaska tours from 1931:

And this guide for Americans traveling to Europe, circa 1948:

Later, the company moved from small guides to big publishing ventures. They bought the magazine Camera and Travel in 1968, which they later renamed Travel + Leisure. It went on to become a best-selling magazine.

Today, American Express is one of the biggest companies in the world. Their travel/financial services have grown and expanded to include exclusive airport lounges, travel insurance, business credit cards geared for traveling professionals, and more.

And, their content marketing has moved onto the digital sphere, of course, where they still offer travel guides and tips:

3. Sunkist’s Early “Infographics”

If you want an early example of using infographics in marketing, look to Sunkist, the fruit-grower, and their early ad content.

Sunkist started in 1893 when citrus growers in California banded together to better market their sweet crops. Back then, oranges and lemons were viewed as luxuries that people only ate on holidays or received as Christmas gifts.

By 1908, Sunkist launched their first campaign to make citrus fruits daily necessities in the minds of Americans.

A few of these early ads bear a surprising resemblance to the infographics of today, using a combination of text and imagery to inform or enlighten readers.

In particular, the ad below (“Every-Hour Uses for Good Lemons”) gives us eight practical ways to use lemons, then advises us to “send for a free book containing many others.”

If you took them up on the offer, the company would mail you a mini guide showcasing all kinds of ways to use lemons in everyday life, including cooking, baking, beauty rituals, and cleaning.

(If you’re curious, you can browse through the whole book digitally thanks to Duke Digital Repository. A few of the suggestions include using lemons to clean brass, remove stains on clothing, help cure a cold, and “invigorate the heart and muscles.”)

Here’s another Sunkist ad that resembles a blog post/infographic hybrid. It instructs us how to correctly serve tea with lemon:

Wait… There’s an incorrect way? (Along with the content, Sunkist also displays their headline prowess here.)

The result from Sunkist’s marketing efforts: The orange was the first branded and advertised fruit. Eventually, lemons and oranges became synonymous with the Sunkist name and still are to this day.

4. Fleischmann’s Recipes and How-Tos

If you’re a baker, you may be familiar with Fleischmann’s Yeast in the yellow and red packaging.

Since the 1870s, this company has been producing yeast for home bakers who want consistently fluffy and well-risen bread or baked goods. They even innovated Active Dry Yeast, which can be stored in the cupboard or pantry and activated with warm water, during World War II.

In the early days, Fleischmann’s used holistic content marketing to help their customers bake the best bread possible using their yeast products.

In 1920, they published small recipe booklets with tips, tricks, and methods for delicious homemade bread, called “Fleischmann’s Recipes.”

Similar to Sunkist’s “infographic” ads, Fleischmann’s also used a similar method to promote their “High Vitamin Yeast” in 1939:

Of course, like the other names on this list, Fleischmann’s is a common brand, one you’ll find in most modern bakers’ kitchens.

Meanwhile, their modern content marketing continues a long-standing tradition of providing useful information for their customers and guiding them on their baking journeys:

Holistic Inbound Marketing: A Time-Honored Strategy for Better Leads

Old marketing campaigns are full of inspiration ready for the taking. If you turn back the clock, you can quickly see that it was pretty common.

As it turns out, content marketing isn’t all that modern – lots of big brands were doing it as far back as the late 19th century.

Here’s why it keeps getting reinvigorated throughout the decades, and why it’s having a major renaissance right this second:

It works.

Do you need any more reason to dive in than that?

Oh Man! Google Hit Me Again: The New Google Penguin 5 & The Spam-Filtering Algorithm

Forget the furry animals. Forget all that has to do with the word “fuzzy,” “animal,” or “cute” —all adjectives to describe the Google Panda and Penguin, names Google has given their recent & biggest algorithm updates. The latest one, Google Penguin 5, has nothing to do with cute.

The newest and latest algorithm update is a vicious version of the old Penguin, cutting down on spam and causing a lot of grief to website owners who are now experiencing a heavy loss in traffic from Google Penguin 5 as a result of the algorithm updates taking place. If that includes you, there’s one comfort: you’re not alone.

Even the best of the best, including copywriting websites, were affected by the change and lost rankings inside the space of one night. Google’s baby, original content, wasn’t overlooked in the battle—it was affected too.

How bad were the effects?

A simple hyperlink that Google didn’t approve of could mean entire de-ranking for a quality content article, which could consequently mean an entire keyword ranking loss.

Matt Cutts Confirms

Matt Cutts officially confirmed the latest Penguin update on October 4 with a simple tweet: Penguin 2.1 launching today. Affects ~1% of searches to a noticeable degree.

While he says it will affect 1% of searches, search engine gurus are saying it has affected more than 3% of all websites. That’s a LOT of websites when it comes down to the count. Literally thousands of websites with some investment in SEO tactics will feel the change, with an expected fluctuation in their rankings—with more people experiencing loss of rankings than an increase.

Why is it Penguin 5, Not Penguin 2.1?

Cutts calls it Penguin 2.1, but SEO blogs, forums and hubs around the Internet are putting it better by titling it Penguin 5. There have been so many numerous “mini”, “large” and “add-on” updates to Penguin. But if the researcher pays attention, this is the fifth most impactful one and so it just makes sense to call it that. (Sorry, Cutts.)

What’s Happening to Others?

Many concerned conversations between website owners occurred all over the web, after Google Penguin 5 hit. The updated Penguin de-rankings cost a living for many. National website owners lost 70% of their traffic, commenting on the Webmaster World thread concerning their misfortunes. Many felt they had no reason to experience the drop in rankings—they just suddenly lost all their traffic and rankings, even after practicing methods (like disavowing bad links) that Google seemed to favor and restore rankings because of, prior.

So What Really Is Google Penguin 5 Targeting?

OK, so what really happened that night where 3% of website owners felt their rankings affected? Here’s a lowdown from some experts.

  • Biggest tweak ever made to Penguin. Chris Crum of WebProNews is saying that Penguin 2.0/5 is the biggest tweak ever made to the entire Penguin algorithm since it launched, and the word is a lot of webmasters were affected.
  • The entire algorithm is a penalty. Bruce Clay, of Bruce Clay, INC, is calling it Google’s Angry Bird. (We love it, Bruce!) He says a dip in traffic could indicate you were hit by the new Penguin, even if no keyword rankings could appear to be lost. He also clarifies that the new algorithm is a penalty. (Really, Google? Your entire latest update is a penalty?) It’s an attempt to devalue all “manipulative links” in Google’s search engine ranking algorithm.
  • The purpose of Penguin 5 is to eliminate spam. Sage Lewis of Clickz recounts some sad stories of entire livings lost because of the update, and confirms that the purpose of the mean new bird was to eliminate as much “spam” as possible.
  • Paid links are the target of the heaviest penalizations. Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand says that the new Google update particularly goes after websites that bought “paid links” to gain their rankings. This is what Google defines as spam-filtering, in this particular algorithm change.
  • All the link types that can be de-ranked by Google: Links achieved quickly on a short time period, imbalanced anchor text, a paid link with exact match anchor text, spammy blog comments, questionable guest blogs, and article marketing links are now all disqualified. Danny Goodwin of SearchEngineWatch delved even deeper on the link issues that Google’s algorithm affected to describe this.

What Can I Do Right Now (and Later)?

Now that you know the entire Penguin 5 is a “penalty” targeting any kind of links that Google thinks are spammy, here are some good practices you can start implementing yesterday to get better rankings and satisfy the angry monster savvy Google Penguin 5.

Step 1. Understand you cannot trick the algorithm any more with paid cultivation of backlinks.

This is a knowledge thing, and can take 5 minutes to 5 weeks to get over, depending on how close to your emotions this principle lies. Simply understand that you cannot—cannot use paid cultivation of links to rank anymore. You cannot game Google and pay an Indian SEO company pennies for thousands of links. Google will know…and catch you in your sleep. (Not really, but it will hurt you, bad.)

Step 2. Fix Your Links.

Now that you’re smart and have taken away all psychological barriers and last pretenses that paid links have any value, it’s time to fix the links that are potentially killing your rankings.

How do you do this? The Google Disavow tool can be a lifesaver. It is a way to tell Google Penguin 5 to stop counting bad links pointing to your site. If you want to get really nitty-gritty, the SearchEngineJournal resource article on how to know which links to disavow is a huge help. Remember, once you’ve disavowed, you’ll need to wait till Google updates again for the links to be disqualified.

Step 3. Practice Good SEO Methods.

  • Diversify. If all you did was organic SEO tactics, invest in Adwords. Look into Facebook ads. Consider email marketing and more regular/scheduled/routine content marketing with a social plan as backup. Investments will bring you more back.
  • Fresh is better. Whenever you need something, from a stock image to a new blog or a link—remember the more original and fresh it is, the better off you’ll be. Don’t recycle old stock images. Don’t try to pay someone to use their recycled link network. Don’t let your website content stagnant. Idea: Getting your entire site rewritten is a great step towards a better SEO ranking experience this autumn.
  • Get social. We don’t mean parties and drinks; we mean investing in a social media management person or team for savvy hash-tagging on your Twitter page and encouragement of your fan engagement. All this social platform engagement good stuff is 100% natural and one of the hottest practices to gain Google’s favor today.
  • Reach out to others in your industry. Whether on Twitter, or on their blog, try to reach out, after you’ve established they will be a quality connection. Connect and socialize and make organic efforts to get to know and follow them. Google will count the connection for SEO value when you link on their relevant site or engage on a social media platform.

Step 4. Invest in what works: written content in the form of blogs and website content.

But this simple sentence isn’t enough. There are some major changes you may need to make to your content strategy, based on what you are doing/not doing that is currently Google-friendly. Good content practices are outlined below.

  • For now, avoid ALL article marketing. We recommend even avoiding Ezinearticles.com for the present. Google is so anti-article marketing, anti-anything-not-natural in the way of links and content, it’s important to only practice what is safe in order to secure rankings (or regain them).
  • Quantity, quality, and relevance of links inside your content. Do not (ever) randomnly link. You must spend time (or have your writer spend time) to find links with good value, and only include those links as hyperlinks in your written blog and website content. Here’s a simple way to do it. Since PageRank is going out the window, that’s not a reliable factor anymore. Moz has put out their own MozBar, a toolbar that tells you the quality factors of any website on the web. The Root Domain is what you want to look at. If the Root Domain (DA) is over 30, the link is decent enough to be favored by Google. Get the MozBar.
  • Guest blogging is still beneficial when the website you’re blogging on has a solid social presence, followers, and hefty amount of quality going on. Like TechCrunch, Mashable, or any other big name in guest blogging. Don’t go for the easy ones. It will pay off to try to get on Forbes.com as a guest blogger. Have your copywriter come up with great blog ideas that relate to your industry for pitches.
  • Watch your tags and categories for duplication. Even synonyms of the same word can be too much. More is less when it comes to categories, and tags should be no more than half a dozen. This is easy to forget when you’re plugging away at WordPress posts.

 
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