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If Google Was God: Refuting Pascal’s Wager

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I haven’t been in the SEO industry for very long, but one thing has become clear to me in the last few months: SEO is a lot like organized monotheism. By that, I mean it’s an insular community built around the vague and open-ended doctrine of an incorporeal entity that communicates its will through a system of reward and punishment.

If an extraterrestrial were to accidentally wander into the offices of Page One Power, I have absolutely no doubt that he/she/it would probably assume that we’re all religious fanatics, and that Google is simply our name for god.

No, seriously—think about it. People study the mysteries of Google’s ranking algorithm with all the scrutiny (and guesswork) of church scholars attempting to interpret religious texts. They make pilgrimages to Las Vegas and San Francisco to hear Google’s prophets—SEO geniuses and innovators like Matt Cutts and Rand Fishkin—interpret Google’s will in ways that we common folk can understand.

We’ve even gone so far as to divide the SEO community into sinners and saints.

If Google was GodYou’ve got the “black hat” SEO’s who’ve taken shortcuts and rebelled against Google’s will. We all know that their day of judgment is coming. Google will cast them down to the bottom of the page rankings, where they’ll burn in the fires of obscurity until the end of time itself.

Then you’ve got your “white hat” SEO’s, who strive to obey Google’s will. If they’re loyal to Google’s sacred (and unknowable) algorithm, they’ll ascend through the page rankings and take their coveted place directly below Google’s logo.

Now, before you pull out your torches and pitchforks and start calling me a heretic, allow me to clarify my position. Am I saying that Google is god? No. Am I trying to attack people’s faith in god, or indict organized religion? Absolutely not. I’m simply saying that Google has a lot of the same characteristics that monotheistic religions have traditionally associated with their deity of choice.

God, for example, is omnipresent. So is Google. God is something people often turn to when they’re struggling with life’s difficult questions. So is Google. God’s mind is a repository that contains everything within the scope of human understanding; all the knowledge and information ever gathered by our species. Oh, what a coincidence—so is Google.

Now, this could be another instance of my repressed Catholic guilt ruining my career, but it seems like there’s an obvious connection between good SEO and the writings of 17th century religious philosopher Blaise Pascal.

For those of you who don’t have time to Wikipedia his name, Blaise Pascal was a French theologian who framed humanity’s faith in God as a sort of ontological wager. Pascal argued that people “bet” their lives (and their souls) on the likelihood of God’s existence, deciding how to act by comparing the probability of eternal punishment to the benefits of immediate gratification.

For Pascal, betting on the non-existence of God was a no-win situation, since the reward for being right is finite and fleeting (as opposed to the punishment for being wrong, which is painful and eternal). In short, Pascal believed that it was better for a person to act as if god exists, even when they believe that god does not.

Now, I don’t think very much of Pascal as a theologian. That said, he does provide us with an interesting opportunity to examine the intersection between monotheism and search engine optimization—in that, when it comes to SEO, we have to collectively reject Pascal’s wager. We have to act as if Google does not exist, even when we know it does.

So much of SEO seems to be about what Google “wants”—Google looks for this, Google punishes that. Google likes content that is relevant, informative and interesting. It’s almost like everybody who doesn’t work at Bing got together and decided to put Google in charge of running the internet. Doesn’t this strike anybody else as strange? When did the internet become about what Google wants?

See, as far as I’m concerned, Google doesn’t exist. When I write an article, I write it for my client, for my intended audience and for the people who will (hopefully) post the article when I’m finished with it. If Google decides it “likes” my content, well, whoop-dee-freaking-do. I don’t write articles for Google. I don’t even think about Google when I’m writing articles. When I write articles, I’m thinking about how to elicit and emotional and/or intellectual response from my readers, because I’d rather write in a way that is interesting to me than churn out generic, useless content.

You know the type of content I’m talking about. Anyone with a few weeks of SEO experience under their belt can usually recognize a guest post that has been written for the sole purpose of acquiring a link. These posts are rarely ever original. In fact, they’re usually a re-articulation of information that is already available on the internet. These articles often take the form of lists (“Five Ways to Improve Your _________” or “Ten Ways to Save Money on _________”) and most of them don’t do anything (besides pollute the internet).

If you want to build good links by writing articles that attract traffic and get reblogged, you have to be willing to reject Pascal’s wager and act as if Google doesn’t exist. Tailoring your content to what you think Google’s ranking algorithm is looking for won’t get you anywhere. If Google wanted people to change how and what they write to fit their ranking algorithm, they wouldn’t bother keeping that algorithm secret.

Now, for those of you who aren’t interested in rejecting Pascal’s wager or ignoring the existence of Google, I’ve taken the liberty of preparing a poem for you. I’m sure that if you recite it every morning when you wake up and every night before you go to bed, Google is sure to bless your link-building. Good luck!

Prayer to Google

Our Google, who art practically the whole internet,
Hallowed be thy ranking algorithm
Thy search results come,
Thy will be done
On the super cool smartphones our moms bought us.
Give us this day, our daily links,
And forgive us when we spam
As we forgive those who sometimes spam us
Lead us not unto temptation
And deliver us from paid link exchanges.
Amen.

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My name is Foxy, and my job is to sniff out the good guest bloggers from the ones who aren't. This post was written by a contributing author to Blogging Tips. If you would like to learn more about becoming a writer (not one-time guest blogging) for BloggingTips.com, please contact us.

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Search Engine Optimisation

5 Ways Blog Optimization Tips for Google Ranking Success in 2019

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On-page SEO for your blog articles should be a top priority. You have most likely read plenty of articles on the subject. If you are a new blogger, you probably have a domain, WordPress hosting service, a long list of potential topics and categories to write about, but what about blog optimization? This is a common misstep for new bloggers.

If you are still wondering what the true anatomy of an optimized blog is, we are here to help. Meta-tags, keywords, image Alt Text, and the list goes on. What is the real goal of on-page SEO? Better Google rankings! And better Google rankings means more eyes on your content, since you will be ranking high on Google SERPs.

Having exceptional on-page SEO is vital to the growth and success of your business. This means bending to the hand of the almighty Google. Why? Google handles two trillion searches per year.

Let’s take a deeper look at five ways to optimize your blog for Google ranking success in 2019!

  1. Start with Optimizing Keywords

Whether you write for your own blog, or have an editor, all your content should revolve around unique keywords. Normally, bloggers will be given a keyword to include in their highly authoritative, actionable content in various places. You can see a perfect example here, as the article is written in a way to not only focuses on the keywords and search phrases in the title, but the content within the article breaks down even further into each of these data points and subtitles as well.

Having that keyword allows you to begin formatting your title, subheadings and text. But keyword development doesn’t necessarily end there.

You should also identify two to three supporting keywords that will be used throughout the post, in subheadings, and even in your title. You can use tools like Infinite Suggest to maximize keyword research. You can also find other supporting keyword ideas using Moz, Google Keyword Planner, and SEMrush.

  1. Do Your Due Diligence During Keyword Research

There is a bit more that goes into choosing two or three supporting keywords. You don’t want to blindly pick one. The goal is to find keywords with a fair amount of search volume, low difficulty, and high opportunity.

From the keyword tool, make a list of supporting keywords, let’s say you choose “on page SEO tactics” as a supporting keyword, but the monthly search volume seems low. What to do? Check another platform like MOZ or SEMrush to get a second keyword opinion. Remember, you want to choose keywords that your audience is actually searching for.

  1. Make a List of LSI Keywords

You may be asking yourself, “What are LSI keywords?” LSI keywords, better known as “long-tail” keywords, are actually becoming more important for search engines like Google. They may also help you avoid Problematic Google penalties. How do you find LSI keywords? It’s actually simpler than you may think.

Open up Google and search for your main keyword, and then scroll to the bottom of the page where you’ll find a nice variety of LSI keywords waiting for you. After, check the long-tail keywords you want to use in a keyword tool. It is best practice to use two or three LSI Keywords in a blog article for max value.

  1. Always Put Keywords in Your Blog SEO Titles

Identifying and qualifying your keywords is quite often the most difficult part of on-page SEO for blog posts. However, once you have them, things begin to fall into place for SERP results you will be happy with. How do you use them though?

Placing keywords in your SEO title is also important. It essentially tells Google that you want to rank for this or that. If “Blogger Tips” is your keyword, you’ll want to include it in the title as close to the beginning of the title as possible.

It is important to note that you want your title to still sound natural, so don’t force it. Be natural, but always think Google page one. The closer your keyword is to the front, the more weight it carries with search engines.

  1. Put Your Keywords in Headings Correctly

This is a common mistake many bloggers make. Sure, crafting delightful content that is worthy of the New Yorker is dreamy. However, Google ranking algorithms don’t only look at content. You essentially want to tell search engines, and your audience, where the shifts in the story are, and what each section is about.

Using appropriate header tags can make this happen. Most content management systems will automatically place an h1 tag for your post’s SEO title. WordPress does this nicely! If you are writing for a client, you may only be formatting your blog article for on-page SEO via Google Docs or Word. In this is the case, you want to ensure each heading is tagged correctly, like:

  • h1 tag for SEO titles
  • h2 tag for subheadings
  • h3 tags for supporting subheadings

In Conclusion . . .

There are certainly a ton of blog optimization tips out there for you to dig up and use for maximum rankings on Google. However, the above five tips are among the most important. From keywords to placing keywords strategically, grow your blog by getting the most out of each post. Do you have a blogging SEO tip? We want to hear from you.

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Search Engine Optimisation

How to Optimize Your Blog for Voice Search

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The new year has come and we are just twelve months away from the year 2020. Why is that important? Because by 2020, nearly all searches are predicted to be voice, rather than text searches.

In fact, Gartner found that 30% of those searches are going to be done entirely screen-less. Here are a few more numbers in case you are not convinced:

  • 13% of households used voice search in 2017 and this number is expected to rise to around 55% by 2022. [Source]. Smart speakers have created an industry of their own and are easily integrated into American household. As the software becomes more streamlined and more applications are introduced, this could cause their adoption to grow even more.
  • 72% of current voice search users claim to use it as part of their daily routine. (source: Google). Looks like searching voice easily becomes a habit! It’s definitely here to stay!

News organizations, radio stations, and websites have begun intensively marketing toward owners of smart speakers. Daily news, music, finances, your calendar and the like can now be read to you as you herd your kids to the car and off to school or before heading in to work.

In other words, voice search queries are going to be taking over the search world.

While voice-activated technology started making its way into our lives quite some time ago, the recent smart assistant technology boom caused the actual voice search revolution. Major brands are quickly investing in voice search optimization.

Is your website ready?

Adapting to the Algorithm

To see how important voice search is going to be we have to look at how Google in its current incarnation really works. When I first started in the SEO world, it was all about simple search keywords. But the exploitation of keyword stuffing pushed Google to further the benchmark and make things more complex.

Now when we look at keyword analysis and optimization, it is a completely different process than what it used to be. Not only have keywords become more varied, the way that Google sifts through the noise in order to provide answers for their users is amazing.

That is what has kept Google on top for so long; competitors like Bing just haven’t been able to develop a framework that is as effective and dominating.

Voice search is underlining this fact in ways that weren’t as clear before. When we type a search phrase we are more careful. We think through what we are going to say, we get phrase suggestions that might help us narrow down or change our language and we get a page of results that lets us refocus if needed.

Spoken words are more spontaneous and harder to predict. It’s not always possible to understand what the searcher really needs. Somehow, Google’s algorithm still works with this format, as long as the content providers are properly optimizing on their side of meet the demand.

So, how do we do it?

Think of Search Queries as Speech

A popular meme lately has been, “This is so sad. Alexa, play Despacito“. While tongue in cheek, it shows the way that speech is taking a handle in search and how we might use it properly.

Imagine you are sitting around talking to your friends. You decide to ask them a question, like, “What movies are showing this weekend?” It is a natural way to speak for you. But if you were to type in search terms, it would be something more like, “Showtimes Century 16”.

Searching by voice presents a new challenge to search engine optimization professionals: Optimizing for all possible ways a user can speak your query.

Optimizing for related terms, synonyms and neighboring concepts is more important than ever. TextOptimizer helps you do just that by running your query in Google and using semantic analysis to extract related topics and neighboring context to optimize your page for:

TextOptimizer

[TextOptimizer extracts related topics for your important keywords helping you optimize for a wide variety of queries]

Get Featured!

The general concept here hasn’t changed, as you still want your page to appear on top of Google’s search result pages: It’s a fact that Google’s users seldom ever scroll past the first page.

Voice search is going to gravitate towards the simplest, top results for the user.

Once upon a time, that meant getting on the front page. Now it means making sure your content is set for featured snippets so you can go above the actual page results and gain priority in Google’s ranking.

Featured snippets are selected search results that appear on top of organic search results in Google and Bing. Featured snippets are what gets read to a user in response to a search query.

Featured Snippets

Articles, tables, images, videos, bullet lists… there are plenty of forms of content that appear in featured snippets.

To better target featured snippet opportunities, use Ahrefs: It allows you to filter search queries to those triggering featured snippets and lets you preview actual search results:

Ahrefs featured

While Schema.org officially doesn’t help you get featured, a lot of SEOs have found that playing around with structured markup actually makes a difference. In any case, that won’t hurt, especially given it’s quite easy to implement using a variety of WordPress plugins.

/HowTo schema is predicted to be used by Google soon (since it’s already being implemented in some of the search experiments), so I’d start there. To show you the markup in action, try running this page through Google’s structured data testing tool:

Structured data

Do you have a strategy to add? Let us know in the comments!

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Search Engine Optimisation

5 Effective Blogging and Marketing Strategies for Your Dental Practice

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As bloggers and content creators, we are often creating content or managing social media and blogs for local practices and businesses in our area. If this is the case, you will definitely find a lot of value in this article — especially if you are working with a local dentist, or maybe even have a dental practice of your own?

Local advertising and offline marketing is something everyone needs to consider when they have a brick and mortar location. However, one also needs to ask the question about online marketing and SEO if they are struggling to showcase how great their dental practice is.

For times like these, it’s important to know which marketing strategies would be most effective in bringing in new patients.

With so many types of marketing strategies out there, it can be hard to know what will work best for your business. With more people using mobile devices and Google than ever before, the common answer for this is to have a blog with niche-focused content that is already relevant for local search results.

Here are five effective content creation and marketing strategies that will help you grow your dental practice.

1. Focus on Local SEO

Chances are there are many different dental practices in your area, which means you need to stand out when potential customers conduct Google searches for a dentist near them.

Focusing on your SEO efforts, specifically, local keywords can help you attract new clients. This will help you rank higher in Google searches when people search for things like “dentist near me.” And what’s better is that it’ll boost your company when people use voice search to find local dental practices.

Make sure to do keyword research in advance. You should also focus on more specific keyword phrases like “wisdom tooth removal” to target searches. These tiny efforts can make a big impact on your discoverability.

Beyond SEO, you should also focus on the general optimization of your website. Make sure it’s clean, easy to use, and highlight your business’s value props. If you don’t know how to do that, check out Willow Creek Dental for website inspiration. Not only does the site design match the look and feel we are looking for, they also have great use of online video as well. Be sure to check out their site through the screenshot below.

2. Get Involved with Your Community

As a local business owner, you need to get involved with your community to attract new customers and keep existing ones. By showing community members you care about your community, you can win them over.

Not sure how you should get involved? Attend town events or sponsor a local sports team. You can even speak to elementary school classes about the importance of dental hygiene.

These dental marketing efforts may seem small, but they say a lot about you and your dental practice. And the more you show your business off in the community, the more likely potential customers are to remember you when they need dental assistance.

3. Invest in Your Social Media Presence

Social media is another great way to get involved in your community and strengthen relationships with your customer base–both potential and existing. Social media platforms like Facebook can help you quickly build an online community that you can keep in contact with.

Social media helps you start conversations with customers and share important updates with them. It also allows you to collect reviews and quickly answer their questions. All of these things prove your value as a business to them.

SproutSocial has a great resource guide that is full of dental marketing messages and methods that are currently being used on social media. The messages that perform best will be the ones that are most creative and compelling — like the one below.

4. Pay Attention to Content Marketing

Marketing isn’t only about showing people you’re there; it’s about proving you have something of value to offer them. That’s why you need to invest in your content creation efforts. Content like blog posts brings customers to your site and provides them with the information and reassurance they need to convert into patients.

It also helps you increase your overall SEO ranking, which will bring even more people to your site!

5. Embrace Physical Marketing Materials

While the Internet is a fantastic way to market your business, it’s not the only type of marketing you should be investing in. You should also be distributing physical marketing materials like postcards, mailed offers, and newsletters to convert local potential customers.

Send flyers with discounts to new residents to win them over. Distribute brochures highlighting your other cosmetic procedures to high-value customers. You can even send newsletters packed with content articles and FAQs!

Final Thoughts on Marketing Strategies for Your Dental Practices

When it comes to your dental practice, great service isn’t enough to make your business stand out. You need to invest in great marketing strategies to showcase your business and win over customers. By following the 5 tips in this article, you can make sure your dental practice is the one customers think of first.

Did you find the content in this article helpful? Need more tips and tricks on marketing strategies? Be sure to check out these expert SEO tips for 2019.

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