It’s been in the works for nearly a year and Google’s great ad-pocalypse is now upon us. On Thursday, the Chrome browser will begin to automatically filter out ads that don’t meet certain quality standards. Your browsing experience is about to change a little bit. Here’s what you need to know.
In April of last year, the news first broke that Google planned to integrate some form of ad-blocking into its browser that would be on by default. Since then we’ve seen a gradualrollout of the feature, beginning with the ability to mute autoplay videos with sound on the sites of your choosing. Now, Google going all-in with a set of criteria for what ads will be kosher in Chrome.
Along with its fellow ad giant Facebook, Google is a member of the Coalition for Better Ads, an industry group that has performed research on what forms of web advertising annoys people the most. It’s created a list of the 12 types of web experiences that should ideally be avoided by advertisers. Now Google is going to enforce that list with Chrome, which is used by over half of all people accessing the web with a browser.
On Wednesday, the company published a blog post detailing how the system will work. Initially, Google will take a sample of various pages on a specific domain and analyze whether that page is serving any of the offending ad categories. It’ll be given a score of “Passing, Warning, or Failing.” Sites that don’t manage to get a passing grade will be notified by Google and they can review an ad experience report for details on what needs to change. If a site ignores multiple warnings, its ads will be blocked by default after 30 days.
If a user visits a site that’s being filtered by Chrome, they’ll see a message in the address bar that gives them the option to still allow ads—on mobile, users will see a pop-up at the bottom of the screen that will give them the same option. Yes, pop-up ads are blocked, and Google will be informing you with a pop-up notification.
There’s plenty of reason to celebrate this change. The internet is getting harder to navigate, and more annoying with advertisers demanding more obtrusive experiences every day. Google claims that since it kicked off this initiative, “42% of sites which were failing the Better Ads Standards have resolved their issues and are now passing.” So it seems that a lot of site owners got the message before it could even become a problem.
There’s also cause to be skeptical of Google’s altruistic goals. Sure, it’s telling advertisers not to be evil, but it’s also hoping that a better experience will mean fewer people feel the urge to download a third-party ad blocker. That’s good for the internet, which is largely funded by ads. But it’s particularly good for Google, which controls around 42 percent of the US digital ad market and 75.8 percent of the search ad market, according to research from eMarketer. It wouldn’t be so great if Google, with all its power, decided to follow in the footsteps of services like Adblock Plus, which offers companies the opportunity to pay their way onto an acceptable ads list. Representatives for Google have assured us on multiple occasions that the company isn’t offering any kind of paid whitelisting now, and isn’t planning to do so. But things could change.
For now, enjoy the better web before Google fully consumes it all and does whatever it wants.
This often means you – the designer or developer – might receive questions like the above. Clients want to know why their site isn’t performing as well as it should.
After all, that’s what they’re paying you for, right?
But what happens when the website is finished to the client’s specs, but it’s still not performing well?
Sometimes the fault for an underperforming website falls back on you, even if it’s not directly included in your scope. That’s why it’s important to be able to identify potential reasons why a website might underperform, and know how to respond in those situations.
Here are a few things that might be hurting your client’s website performance.
“Your Domain Authority Is Too Low”
Appearing on the first page of Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is a common concern for many clients, and it might be one of the reasons they came to you to build their site in the first place.
But according to RankBrain, the most search traffic goes to the first result, with click-through rates (CTR) decreasing significantly after the second position.
Google also reports that 34% of search results – yes, even those on the first page – get no clicks at all, and that 12% of all clicks go to the top 100 search-traffic-receiving domains.
So not only is it important for sites to rank high, but they really need to be number one to see significant traffic from their SEO efforts.
But one of the reasons they most likely won’t see the first page SERPs is due to low page authority. As mentioned, unless you’re in the top 100 domains, you may not rank on Google.
It doesn’t matter if your site is the best designed, most beautifully crafted website in the world. If you don’t have high site (domain) authority – a predictive score dictated by Moz and used by Google to rank results – you won’t rank.
This is doubly true for new websites. New sites usually start with a score of 0-1. For reference, well-established sites, like Facebook and Wikipedia, are close to 100.
If you’re developing or designing a brand new site for a client, and they complain about not showing up in Google, tell them that they need to focus their energy on driving traffic in other ways.
Paid ads, more posted content (on a blog, typically), or social media traffic can all help to improve domain authority.
“You Need More High-Quality Backlinks”
Another reason why a site may not be showing up as high on Google’s SERPs is due to low or poor quality backlinks – links that point back to your website.
According to Andrey Lipattsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist at Google, high-quality content and link building are the two most important signals used by Google to rank your website for search.
In fact, the top ranked pages on Google have an average volume of 100,000+ high-quality backlinks.
High-quality backlinks can be notoriously difficult to get, especially for new sites, because they require other more popular sites (think top 100 domains for best results) to link to your landing pages or content.
The good news is that quality does make up for the lack of volume. A link from a relevant website in your niche, for example, might be worth 100 links from a lower quality source.
So how do you earn high-quality backlinks?
Over time you may naturally gain some links from other websites, especially as your organic traffic grows from regular content production or social traffic. But in order to gain the quality and volume needed to rank, you need to make some effort.
The first step is to focus on providing valuable and high-quality content on your website. This should ideally come from a blog that can be frequently updated, and not just landing pages.
Google looks for fresh content when considering rankings. Former Google Fellow Amit Singhal once explained that, “Different searches have different freshness needs.”
In other words, fresh content is needed for all your desired keywords.
You then need to find ways of sharing your content on other sites in order to create those backlinks.
Try posting content as guest blogs on larger editorial sites, or by linking to it on sites like Quora. You can also syndicate traffic from sites like Facebook and LinkedIn, both of which have domain authority ranks close to 100.
If clients don’t know why their site isn’t performing, you might recommend they try some link-building strategies, like guest blogging on popular editorial sites or asking customers to link to you on their landing pages.
“You Need to Optimize Your Content”
Because content plays a big role in how Google ranks sites – from the freshness of the content to the links it contains and more – it’s important that sites are creating content that can be shared.
In other words, a pretty website is not enough. It has to have more content.
And that content needs to be optimized so Google knows what to do with it. CTR for content on Google’s first page SERPs increases by 667% for posts that appear as Featured Snippets.
Featured Snippets are selected search results that appear on top of Google’s first page in a special box.
If you’re not sure how to get a Snippet, or you don’t yet have the domain authority to get a Snippet, there are other ways you can optimize your content to rank higher.
Posting content that is engaging – keeps people on the page and has a higher number of conversions into another action, like an email subscription (etc.) – can also improve your relationship with Google.
Their algorithm can track how long someone stays on a page, and what other actions they take and whether or not they click on other content from your site.
You can also help your odds by focusing on long tail keywords in your content in order to gain more organic search traffic and improve your odds of appearing in either a Featured Snippet or on the first page SERPs.
If clients want methods for improving their Google search rankings, tell them to produce more high-quality, optimized content.
It’s important to explain to your clients that creating a beautiful website won’t guarantee them a high ranking on Google SERPs.
Even if it’s fully responsive and includes SEO optimization, if it’s a new website, it needs more to be truly successful.
The top strategies they can focus on include an improved domain, adding backlinks and creating optimized content.
You should also remind them that it takes time to build a reputable and high ranking site, and they shouldn’t give up if they don’t see results right away. With a little effort, it will happen for them.
If you have a responsive site that’s relatively new, we can facilitate your site to help you, or us, create rich snippets, send your blog posts to multiple social media outlets and more. Drop us a note and we’ll help you make it happen.
How does your reputation online affect your business offline?
We live in a day and age where consumers openly air their complaints online for all to see. Ask any business owner to think back to a negative review left online, and they’ll sigh, wishing they could have resolved their customer’s concern privately before public and permanent damage to their reputation was done. Studies show that businesses risk losing 22% of business when potential customers find one negative article on the first page of their search engine results. Two negative reviews on the first page? 44% lost. Four or more? You could lose up to 70% of potential customers.
Many business owners worry that automating their email marketing makes their business seem impersonal. In reality, when done right, email automation demonstrates to your customers just how well you know them. When you send your entire customer database the same email – the information may not be relevant to every customer. This runs the risk of customers disengaging with your emails, deleting them from their inbox, or even flagging the messages as spam. Instead, use automated email marketing to target key groups of customers with messages relevant to them.
Do you ever get an email and think “what was the point of sending me this?” It wasn’t informative. It didn’t tell you anything you didn’t already know. It wasn’t actionable. So what exactly were you supposed to do with it?
If you run a bar, it’s never too early to start thinking about football season. We all want to make sure our spot is the go-to place to watch every game. So how do you get fans in the door? And how do you keep them coming back for more?
How to Get The Most Out of Your Restaurant Email Newsletter
A compelling email newsletter can be a very powerful tool for restaurants. They can inform customers about latest dishes and events and promote a restaurant’s unique personality to differentiate from other restaurants. But how can you ensure that you are creating an effective newsletter?
Look for our next blog post about creating compelling content. Meanwhile, learn more about Spearhead Multimedia and Zenreach and how we create an automated, hands-off system to build your customer list, manage your reputation and keep your current customers informed. Learn more…
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