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Changes you missed in search marketing

Changes you missed in search marketing Krista Olson

Call it obvious, but I know you're not creating content. I know you're not poring over each Google announcement wondering what small tweak might move your brand's mountain.

And it's not because you're not responsible for your digital marketing strategy. In fact, you're absolutely in charge of it, but you have a team of people who are authoring, compiling, optimizing, and executing the strategy you helped create. It's up to you to make sure that each piece is rolling up to your broader marketing objectives, and it's up to you to report that success to those who require it.

Changes you missed in search marketing

So in the interest of your time (it's valuable), here are some search marketing updates that you should know and be asking your team about when executing your all-hands-in digital search plan.

Does this website make me look fat?

No, you just look top heavy.

It doesn't matter how long ago it was, but within the first few weeks of your first search marketing rodeo, you started to look at websites, ad copy, URL structure, etc. from a different perspective. It's like experiencing a series of epiphanies after being fed golden nuggets of information from your account manager. And while it's great to have this type of "insider" information, it's easy to lose perspective on how the typical user views your landing page.

Google reminded us with another round of its "Top Heavy" algorithm that users don't like a lot of ads above the fold. They don't want to scroll past ads (more on scrolling in a bit) to find the content they want, so websites that don't have a lot of content early on are probably not providing the best user experience.

Providing a bad user experience, no matter how killer your copy and creative are, can jeopardize your ability to rank in organic search.

Pandas are soft and irritable

Wild pandas are known to attack humans out of irritation rather than aggression, and while the analogy won't hold up that long, Google makes some updates in the same way -- it can strike when irritated. Contrary to popular belief, Google doesn't want to take down small businesses in favor of the big brands, as evidenced by the latest round of the Panda update.

In March, we saw a softer side of Panda that was intended to help small businesses regain traffic after being hit by previous Panda updates for having low-quality copy, affiliate links, duplicate content, etc.

If your data indicate that you've been affected by Panda, ask someone to perform a site audit for on-page optimization issues. Also keep in mind Google no longer announces official Panda updates because Panda is considered a "filter" that websites get run through on a regular basis, so maintaining ongoing quality checks on your website is a good idea.

Googlebot phones home with new Google+ page

Google's webmaster community is helpful, observant, and social as evidenced by its new place of congregation: Google's Webmaster Google+ page. If you want to get used to Google+ or just want to follow someone new, I recommend reading it. It's also a good example of the type of content that performs well in Google+: technical, "how to" content with fewer memes and inspirational quotes.

Get your app in gear (or just indexed)

There are several reasons to create a mobile app vs. a mobile site vs. a microsite vs. a responsive site, but finally, Google is making it easier for users to discover your mobile app in organic search results. Your app will need to be available as an Android app, but after your app has been properly indexed by Google, signed-in users will have a choice to click into your website or into your app directly from search results. There are a couple steps you'll need to take to help Google index your Android app, but there are recently revised developer guidelines to help with implementation.

Keep your site trendy and friendly

Pinterest not only revolutionized the "things you never thought of doing but are totally going to do" market, it also made infinite scrolling websites a very popular option. And while a lot of users intuitively perform this type of scrolling, search engines can have a hard time understanding this type of site, especially if it's for e-commerce. Between the sheer quantity of items, sorting parameters, and use of JavaScript, infinite scrolling sites can put up roadblocks to search engine spiders. While each setup will require individual care, Google recently recommended that individual pages be used when JavaScript is disabled, thus making all of your products or items available on specific pages. Also, make it easy to "go back" or click "next," and don't use any URL parameters that are based on user history or behavior.

Regardless of whether you choose infinite scrolling or another type of experience for your next website redesign, keep in mind that a simple user experience doesn't always mean a simple search engine bot experience. Allocate time for technical testing and consulting between your developers and search teams, and your organic traffic will thank you.

Krista Olson is SEO/content marketing manager at Oneupweb.

On Twitter? Follow iMedia Connection at @iMediaTweet.

"Investigator looking with magnifying glass" image via Shutterstock.

With Oneupweb since 2009, Krista leads the SEO/Content Marketing team and is in charge of aligning, executing and measuring brand strategies for clients. Krista graduated from Michigan State University's Honors College with a degree in...

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