Google has introduced a new WordPress plugin which brings insights from Google tools to users’ dashboards.
Site Kit by Google allows users to access information in Search Console, Analytics, AdSense, and PageSpeed Insights from the WordPress admin panel.
“With Site Kit installed, WordPress users can access unified insights and Google product capabilities directly from the WordPress admin panel. Where it is helpful, Site Kit will also provide deep links into Google products for advanced reports and product configuration capabilities.”
Google will release Site Kit to beta testers in early 2019. Those who are interested in the plugin can sign up for the beta version here.
Site Kit doesn’t add any new insights that are not already available in Google’s tools, but it does make them easier to access.
For example, users can navigate to a page on their website and click on the Site Kit button in the admin panel to see stats for that specific page.
The plugin will also notify users when they’ve hit publishing milestones and show combined stats for the most recently published posts.
Google plans to expand Site Kit’s capabilities and integrations in the future based on feedback from beta testers.
While most traditional marketing tactics (for the most part) still hold true in digital marketing today, SEO changes have quite drastically changed the landscape.
Most, if not all, of these changes have helped improve the web – and search, in particular.
Yet, some people still cling to the “old ways” and try to use outdated SEO practices to improve their brand’s organic search visibility and performance.
Some of the tactics worked a few years ago, but now just aren’t as effective as they used to be.
Yet many novice marketers and/or small business owners are still using these “zombie” SEO techniques (tactics that should be dead, but aren’t for some godforsaken reason).
Not only are they ineffective, but many of the 12 outdated SEO practices below are potentially dangerous to the well-being of your brand, websites, and other digital properties.
1. Keyword Abuse
There are so many ways webmasters and “marketers” continue to misunderstand keywords’ role in general SEO initiatives, and how they should be used in the day-to-day strategy.
Let’s take a more granular look at specific types of keyword abuse and mismanagement, including irrelevant usage, writing for a specific keyword density, and keyword stuffing.
Irrelevant Keyword Targeting/Confusion
All too often, novice SEO practitioners try and fit their content and messaging within the confines of their keyword research (and not much else).
These “marketers” will shape the content and its metadata to represent keywords it’s not properly aligned with, nor the proper intent of the users conducting the searches for the high-volume keywords being targeted.
This causes brands to likely lose the attention of readers before ever having the chance to communicate a real message with them.
If the keywords marketed for don’t align with the content on the page, the disconnect will hinder the success of content even if it’s otherwise of good quality.
Don’t try to mislead users and direct them to content that is misrepresented by high-volume keywords in order for increased visibility.
Google knows what this looks like, and it can truly be defined as an obsolete SEO practice (as well as a “black hat” technique, in many instances).
Writing for a specific “keyword density,” like many keyword-focused marketing tactics, is just missing the mark.
Google no longer depends on keyword density (or the ratio of specific keyword usage to the overall page copy) to determine whether a webpage is an effective source for answering a search query.
It is so much more advanced than simply crawling for keywords; search engines like Google use a multitude of signals to determine search results.
While keywords remain important to the topics and ideas they represent, they are not the lifeline for ranking for high-value search queries.
The quality of content and how the messaging is delivered are the lifeline for that.
This is probably the oldest trick in the book.
SEO is about keywords, right?
So, loading up our webpages with keywords — especially the same high-value keyword we are aggressively targeting throughout the website — is going to help us show up higher in search, thus outranking out competition?
Search engines have, for a long time, known what keyword stuffing is and what kind of text combinations are unnatural. They notice these as attempts to manipulate search results and demote the content as such.
Back in the day, webmasters trying to game the system would go as far as putting every keyword variation of a high-value keyword in the website footer or, even more sketchily, make those keywords the same color as the site’s background, effectively hiding them from humans but not the search engine crawlers.
Remember, you’re writing for humans, not search engines.
2. Writing for Robots
It’s important to understand that writing unnatural is, well, not natural.
And search engines know it.
The belief is: writing for the web means we should repeat a subject by its proper name every time it is mentioned, working in variations and plural/non-plural versions of the word so that “all bases are covered.”
When crawled, the crawlers see the keyword repeated, and in several different versions, thus leading the page to rank well for the keyword variations used (over and over … and over again).
This isn’t going to work anymore.
Search engines are advanced enough to understand repeated keywords, their variations, and the unfavorable experience of generally bad content.
Write for humans, not search engine crawlers or any other robot.
3. Article Marketing & Article Directories
Any attempt to game the system doesn’t usually work out in the world of SEO.
But that doesn’t stop people from trying.
Especially when these tactics offer noticeable improvements to a brand, its website, and/or its associated digital properties.
Sure, article directories worked. And they worked pretty darn good for a long time, too.
Commonly considered one of earliest forms of digital marketing, article syndication was low-hanging fruit to those in the know. And it made sense since the idea was similar to other channels like TV and print that already use syndicated content regularly.
But Google eventually caught on, unleashing its game-changing Panda update in 2011.
Panda chewed up the search landscape, targeting content farms and directories, as well as other websites offering crap content (whether it was simply bad/false, horribly written, makes no sense, or stolen from someone else).
The idea behind article marketing doesn’t make sense in today’s world, where your high-quality content needs to be original and demonstrate expertise, authority, and trustworthiness.
4. Article Spinning
Typically done with software, article spinning is the black-hat tactic of trying to recreate quality content using different words, phrases, and organization.
Essentially the end result was a garbled mess of an article that made the same points as the source material.
This one is still biting webmasters many years later.
Like most SEO tactics, if it seems shady, you probably shouldn’t do it.
Buying links is no different.
Once upon a time, it was routine practice to quickly pay to get a high volume of links pointing at your site.
Now we now that backlink profiles need to be maintained and optimized just like the websites we oversee, and low-quality domains with far too many backlinks pointing to a website may be dangerous to a website’s health.
Google can easily identify low-quality sites, and it will also identify when those sites are sending an abundance of links out that they shouldn’t be.
Today if you want to legitimately help boost the authority and visibility of your website, you need to earn links, not pay someone to build them manually.
6. Anchor Text
Internal linking is a characteristic of any good site structure and user experience.
This is typically done with anchor text, an HTML element that allows us to tell users what type of content they can expect if they click on a link.
There are various types of anchor text (branded, naked, exact-match, website/brand name, page title and/or headline, etc.), but some have most certainly become more favorable than others, depending on the usage and situation.
In the past, using exact-match and keyword-rich anchor text were standard SEO best practices.
This goes back to the Golden Rule about producing well-constructed content that is user-friendly and natural.
If you’re optimizing for search engines and not humans, you’re likely going to fail.
7. Obsolete Keyword Research Tactics
Keywords have certainly gone through some drastic changes over the last five to 10 years.
Marketers used to have a plethora of keyword-level data at their fingertips, allowing us to see what works well for our brand and what doesn’t, but also to get a better understanding of idea targeting and user intent.
In the years following, tools popped up that tried to replicate keyword data. But to fully recreate it correctly is simply impossible.
And yet, even with that now-stripped keyword data, marketers are required to do keyword research of their own to get an understanding of the industry, the competition, the geographic region, etc.
To do this, many marketers turn to Google’s free Keyword Planner. While the data in there has been subject to some scrutiny over the years, it’s a free Google-owned product that gives us data we previously couldn’t really come by, so many of us continue to use it (myself included).
But it’s important to remember what the data actually represents for keywords.
“Competition” in the Keyword Planner pertains solely to paid competition and traffic, thus it is practically useless to build an organic search strategy around this data.
Some alternatives to this are the Moz Keyword Explorer tool and SEMrush’s Keyword Magic Tool, both of which are paid tools.
Google Trends is helpful for this type of competitive analysis, too, and it’s free.
8. Pages for All Keyword Variations
This was once a useful tactic to rank well for all the variations of high-value keywords targeted by your brand and its messaging.
Fortunately, algorithm updates like Hummingbird, RankBrain, and others have helped Google understand that variations of the same word are, in fact, all related to the same topic.
The best, most-useful content around these entities should be most visible due to the value it offers users on the topic, not just one variation of the word.
Aside from the fact that this will lead to brutal site self-cannibalization, it makes a website considerably harder to use and navigate since content will be so incredibly similar.
The negative user experience alone is reason enough not to do this. But the added fact that Google knows better than to overlook this practice makes it a no-brainer.
This tactic evolved and eventually helped lead to the inception of many content farms that were targeting traffic solely for their keyword value and visibility.
This was attributed to the “old way” of optimizing a website — for keywords and search engines, rather than users and their intent.
9. Targeting Exact-Match Search Queries
The tactic of targeting exact-match search queries in hopes to rank for those queries solely for the traffic numbers — and not because the search query or its answer actually pertained to the business optimizing for it — became a somewhat popular practice before the full deployment of the Google Knowledge Graph.
Marketers would strive to rank in the top spot for exact-match search queries to trigger a breakout box and an increased click-through rate for their sites.
10. Exact-Match Domains
Having high-value keywords in your URL makes sense. To some extent.
But when it becomes confusing or misleading (i.e., it results in a bad user experience), you have to draw the line.
As quickly as one technology trend arrives, there is another one right behind it, so it is getting increasingly difficult to keep up with all this digital innovation that is readily available at our fingertips.
In the last twenty years, we have gone from the very early stages of mobile phone usage to a world where we can do our grocery shopping with a few clicks on a smartphone. The capabilities of the Internet seem endless and the stats show us just how much impact the Internet has had over the last few years.
This infographic reveals some very interesting digital information that might surprise you. For example, did you know that across the world there are over 4 billion Internet users? A massive 2 billion of that population is located in Asia and there are now 3.2 billion social media users (as of Jan 1st, 2018).
It is hard to imagine a world without the Internet now that it has become so integral to our daily routines. Social media is not just a way for people to connect with friends; it is also a strong business marketing channel with 90% of businesses now actively using social media.
Watching videos on YouTube has become a regular hobby for all generations and particularly the younger generations. There are now more than 1.5 billion YouTube users worldwide and anyone can quickly record a video using their smartphone or create their own tutorial on a webcam.
52.2% of website traffic is now via mobile phones and we have seen changes in website development to reflect this by making websites more mobile friendly. In 2018 over a billion voice search queries per month were recorded and this is a trend that is expected to continue through 2019.
As Google makes the big change to mobile-first indexing, it’s important that your site is ready for the shift. Are you fully prepared?
Let’s start at the beginning.
What Is Mobile-First Indexing?
The mobile-first initiative is an effort to address the growing percentage of mobile-users in today’s search landscape.
Back in March, on their Webmaster Central Blog, Google announced that they are rolling out their mobile-first indexing initiative more broadly which is a big change to how Google crawls and indexes your site. The push is on now and Mobile Indexing is being fully implemented.
What’s Changing about Google’s Rankings?
Per Google, “Mobile-first indexing means Google will predominantly use the mobile version of your websites content for indexing and ranking.”
But what does that mean?
Currently, Google crawls and indexes your site based on the desktop version of your site and the content that exists there. With this change, Google will be looking at your mobile site first and the content on that version to determine how your site is ranked.
Over the course of the last year, Google has been slowly experimenting with a small percentage of sites to make the switch to crawling, indexing, and ultimately ranking sites based on their mobile experience, not their desktop as they always have.
This doesn’t mean your desktop site isn’t important anymore, it just means that they will be looking at it as a secondary source, not the primary one for crawling, indexing, and ranking as it has been in the past. But even if your site is doing well organically, if it’s not responsive (mobile friendly), your ranking will drop substantially. Don’t lose those years of building your search engine position, contact us today.
How Mobile-First Indexing May Impact Your Site
Depending on how you handle mobile, this change may or may not directly affect your site.
If your site is built in responsive design, you will see no impact, as your site adapts to all devices.
If you have a separate m. site (or something similar) and your primary content does not exist on it, then you are at risk of seeing a negative impact as Google will no longer be looking at your desktop version.
If you do not have a mobile site/experience then this change will negatively impact you. Also, it’s 2018: if you don’t have a mobile-friendly site then you have much larger issues that this change.
What Mobile-First Best Practices Can I Follow To Ensure I Maximize My Opportunity?
While there are many things to consider and you should read through the entire list above, two major points are ensuring you have mobile-friendly content and that your site loads as fast as possible. Site speed is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor, which coincides with users’ needs to get everything as quickly and seamlessly as possible. With the rapid adoption of AMP (accelerated mobile pages) and the popularity of Progressive Web Apps (PWA’s) growing, it’s not surprising to see Google pushing site owners in this direction.
How Do I Know If Google is Using Mobile-First Indexing for My Site?
Google will be notifying site owners that their sites are migrating to mobile-first indexing through Search Console. The message will look like this:
So you need to make sure that if you have an m. version of your site, it is verified in Search Console.
You will also see a significant increase in the Smartphone Googlebot crawl rate and Google will show the mobile version of pages in search results and cached pages.
What Do We Think About This?
This is a major change in how Google interacts with our websites and makes sense as more and more traffic continues to move to mobile. While your desktop site will certainly remain important and Google will not be ignoring it, users have been trending towards mobile usage for years and this is the natural progression of our industry.
Companies need to take notice of this change. Thinking mobile-first should not be something that is kicked down the road and moved down on priority lists, from a search perspective this should be top of mind for all organizations large and small.
Should you be concerned? If you haven’t been paying attention to how your site functions on a mobile device, this probably isn’t going to pan out for you. The good news is that all websites are living documents and can be changed and updated. If you are coming in a little late to the game on mobile, then now is the time to improve that experience and ensure your site is set up to provide value to mobile users.
This is yet another banner that Google is waving to signal the importance of your mobile experience. If you have been neglecting it, now is the time to rectify that and putting people and resources behind it.
If you think your site is not mobile friendly or have tested it and know, contact us for advice to bring your website up to speed with the current technologies.