Diversify Your Digital Efforts: Changes in Search That Affect Your Business

Will MeltonMarketing Strategy, Search Engine Optimization

Key Takeaways

  • The Internet and its players are always changing – you should be too!
  • The quality of your content is critical for your success.
  • Diversity in digital strategy as well as diversity across platforms are crucial to long-term success.

Search engines have been vital tools for users of the Internet from the very beginning. Want to learn about growing juicy ripe tomatoes? Search the web. Want to know what that pain in your abdomen is? Search the web (and perhaps call a doctor). Need a new banana container? Search the web. No matter what an Internet user searches for, they will likely find it and that will lead them to their next action – perhaps that’s purchasing a product or a service.

This is good news for businesses that invest in their online presence. If you sell tomato seeds, offer medical care or sell random kitchenware, you might just have made a customer based on one of the above searches. With more and more people using the Internet to get answers and solve problems, the business owner who invests time and money into his online presence regularly, stands to gain the most from the digital revolution. The bad news for business owners is that the Internet is always changing, and keeping up with how those changes impact your business can be challenging.

Luckily for you, our team of digital marketing professionals keeps up with all the changes so that we can break them down into actionable items that can help you get ahead and stay ahead. With that said, here is what has transpired in search over the past few weeks:

Bing & AOL Team Up

Bing and AOL announced last week that they would be forming a new partnership. Bing will utilize AOL’s display advertising technology to distribute ads, and in turn, AOL will begin using Bing as its primary search engine – taking that baton from Google.

What does it mean for you? It means that fewer Internet searches will take place using Google’s technology. Fortunately, AOL has such a small portion of the search market (1.2%) you probably won’t notice any differences in traffic to your site from search engines.

Action Item:

Begin considering your place in Bing search results, and ask your SEO team what they are doing to impact your search results there. While Bing controls about 20% of search results compared to Google’s 64% market share, it is safe to say that things are bound to change and diversifying will only help you in the long run.

Yahoo! Testing the Waters With Google Search Technology

Another big change in search in the past week was the revelation that Yahoo! has been testing Google’s search technology to power its search results. SEO expert Aaron Wall noticed the changes in how Yahoo! was delivering search results, and Yahoo! has since confirmed it is “testing” Google’s technology. Since renegotiating an agreement it had with Bing earlier this year that required it to use Bing’s search technology exclusively, Yahoo! seems to be “dating” again.

What does it mean for you? While we cannot confirm how much Yahoo! will integrate Google’s technology to power its search results, it is definitely something to keep an eye on. Since Yahoo! controls nearly 13% of search results, any permanent change could impact your placement on the search engine.

Action Item:

If you already rank high in Google search results, you won’t need to do anything except wait and see if a permanent change happens. If you don’t currently rank high in Google search results, you may want to consider optimizing your website. See the next topic for queues on how best to approach SEO for your site.

Google’s Recent “Quality” Update

Google released a major update in April that many called “Mobilegeddon.” Basically, it rewarded sites that had already integrated a mobile version or responsive design allowing their site to be visible on all devices. At the same time, sites that were not mobile friendly dropped in search results performed on mobile devices. In May, Google snuck another update into its algorithm that is being called the “Quality Update” — quality referring to the quality of the content on your website.

What does it mean for you? If the content on your website is thin, infrequently updated, or lacks multimedia (pictures, videos), then you will want to start thinking about building more valuable content on your site. While the update seems mostly to have affected “How-To” based websites like Ask.com and Answers.com, some traditional information-based sites that have invested in quality content have seen a boost in their placement in search results.

Action Item:

If you didn’t read my blog post on C.R.A.P., do that now. The conversation has shifted from “Content is King” to “Quality Content is King.” If your next blog post doesn’t provide some tangible value to your audience, don’t bother wasting your time writing it. Spend your time instead asking your customers and followers about the real problems that exist in their lives and write something about that.

Yelp’s Issue With Google

Lastly, there are some things to keep an eye on in Europe with regard to how Google delivers local business results. Yelp has complained to the regulatory commissions in the EU that Google unfairly promotes its Google+ product and businesses listed there over other local listings provided by services like Yelp. If you’ve ever done a search for local businesses on Google, you may notice a map, a list of businesses and their respective reviews. Yelp is claiming that by excluding the reviews provided by third party sites, it restricts a user’s access to information.

Yelp commissioned a study which shows that users who were given reviews and information from third party sources mixed into these listings spent more time engaged with the results. Others argue that this only means that it took users longer to get the information that they were looking for.

What does it mean for you? No changes are being proposed as of now as to how Google delivers search results, not in Europe or anywhere else in the world. This is another thing to keep an eye on. Should things change in the future this could be an issue if you’ve spent all your efforts getting customers to write reviews on Google, but no other services.

Action Item:

Even though there is no indication that Google will change how it delivers local results, not everyone uses Google for local business information. Depending on your industry, searchers might use Yelp, TripAdvisor, Wedding Wire, Health Grades, Angie’s List and many other local directory services. Evaluate the relevant directory/review sites for your industry and be sure to encourage your customers to write reviews in all of them. As a rule of thumb, you should have at least five reviews on each site and be sure your rating is good. If your rating is below four stars, you can boost it by getting new five-star reviews.

In conclusion, the keyword today is diversification. Just like you can’t put all your digital eggs in social media or paid search or any other area of digital marketing, you want to be sure to have a solid presence across different properties on the web.

If you feel like you’re upside down and sideways with regard to your digital presence, you may want to reach out to our team. We can help you start to put things into order with a free digital marketing evaluation. Ready to get started? Complete the form below.