Justin Aldridge

5 weeks into lockdown: What’s been happening online and what we have planned for May

It’s been 5 weeks since the UK went into lockdown and a lot has changed online in terms of search traffic and user behaviour.

In the video below our Technical Director, Justin Aldridge, talks about how we have been working with clients since lockdown and what we have planned for the coming weeks ahead to help our clients during this unique and challenging time.

 


Artemis and Coronavirus

How Artemis are Working with Clients During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Business can be testing at the best of times and in all likelihood this will be the most challenging time any of us will ever see, not just in business but in everyday life as well. I am sure, like us, you are having conversations about situations that you never thought you would see.

Here at Artemis we have been adapting very quickly how we work and how we work with clients to help them get through this very challenging time.

I have recorded a video talking about what’s happened in March, the effect it’s had on business and how Artemis are responding and helping our clients adapt.

Watch the video here:

 

We are working extremely hard to ensure all of our clients can, in one form or another, navigate through this very difficult time.

If you’re not an existing client but would like to talk to us about how we can help you to adapt your business to this very different trading environment that we have very quickly found ourselves in, then please do get in touch with us today.


Free GMB check

Get a FREE Google My Business Health Check

Free GMB check

The sudden and unexpected economic impact of the coronavirus has caught all businesses by surprise and many small and local businesses are now being severely impacted financially.

We want to do something to help!

Today and for the coming challenging weeks we are offering small and local businesses a free health check of their Google My Business listings. Having a correctly set up and optimised local business listing can help you to rank better for local searches and may help you generate a few more enquiries online.

As the nation is increasingly being confined to their homes, online local searches for products and services are going to keep increasing.

We want to help you make sure that your business listing is as effectively optimised as possible to appear for those local searches.  It’s a small but very useful thing that we can do to help you get through this very tough time.

Our SEO team will review your listing and send you specific actions that you need to take to better optimise your Google My Business listing.

It’s completely free and we are planning to have a very fast turnaround for all requests.  There is no time to lose at the moment.

Let us help your business today, just complete the form below, we’ll take a look at your listing and send you the actions you need to take today to help you rank better in local searches.

We sincerely also wish you and your business the very best in getting through the next few weeks as well and as healthy as possible.

Request your free review:

  • This is the email you'll like us to send the list of actions to
  • We don't need this but if you want us to call you in case we have any questions about your listing we'll call this number
  • Please leave any comments if there's anything you think we should know before looking at your business listing on Google
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SEO Insights – February 2020

February has been a busy month, and we have seen a number of changes affecting Google rankings and how search results are displayed.

One of the biggest changes to local search results is the highlighting of alternative directory sources for the query being searched. It is not yet clear how Google actually chooses which directories to display, although some of the most well-known brands, such as Yell and Yelp, are prominent.

 

This is part of Google attempting to provide a broader array of options to searchers – likely influenced by a $2.7 billion anti-trust fine the company is facing from the EU for favouring its own content.

At Artemis, we have always considered it worthwhile to ensure that our clients are listed in relevant directories. If these are to be displayed more prominently in the search results it could mean we see a rise in traffic directly from directories.

Another change to be aware of is that Google is now providing a report on review snippets in Google Search Console with the intention of making it easier for website owners to make more of their reviews.

The report allows website owners to see errors, warnings, and valid pages for markup implemented on their site.

This ties in to some of the work that we are emphasising at Artemis. We have understood the importance of getting customers reviews for a long time – and have encouraged our clients to find ways to gather more feedback from customers.

Positive customer reviews can be hugely beneficial, not just from the perspective of SEO but also in reassuring potential customers over the quality of your business.

Just as positive reviews can be an enormous benefit to your business, negative reviews can be extremely challenging to deal with. This is why, here at Artemis, we are now offering a reputation management solution to our clients.

Our reputation management product allows you to see all of the reviews being posted about your business across more than 200 different review sites. You can then manage and reply to them as soon as possible – a vital aspect of good local SEO.

 

Our team of SEO experts has years of experience, so if you are interested in learning more about how Google’s changes might affect your rankings, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Learnings from Google’s January 2020 Core Algorithm Update

Google has had a busy January making significant changes to its algorithm and search results. As large updates are usually not implemented in the run up to Christmas, January is often the month where we see quite a few changes in the search results. Here are the three main changes that have happened in January:

Core Algorithm Update

Google makes regular updates to its core algorithm but the one in January was quite a large one, resulting in significant changes in search results across the board.

There are no details of what the core algorithm change was focused on, these are never released by Google, but the update has very positively benefited Artemis clients’ websites. Our initial assessment of this update is that it is focused on content quality and better rewarding content that deserves to rank higher, due to higher relevancy, accuracy and presentation, but which may have lower PageRank authority than other websites targeting those same key phrases.

New Desktop Search Results Appearance

In 2019 Google changed the look and feel of the mobile search results to include a favicon for each listing and placing the web address (brand) above the page title.

In January Google copied this same set-up across to the desktop search results. This layout may work well on mobile screens but for desktop it does not work well at all.

 

The new desktop results were so poorly received that the backlash caused by this change prompted Google to make the unprecedented move of admitting that maybe it wasn’t the best update to the interface and that they would begin to experiment with further alternatives.

We have now already seen the favicons removed from the desktop search results and we can expect further changes over the coming weeks.

Featured Snippets

A featured snippet is presented in the search results when Google’s algorithm believes that an enhanced result may be very useful to the user based on the search query entered.

Ever since the feature was introduced, a website could enjoy two listings on the first page of the search results: The featured snippet and the organic search result itself, for example:

 

This double listing was often deemed unfair by many and in January Google changed this set up so that if a website had the featured snippet, the same page would not appear again in the organic search results.

This change has advantages and disadvantages. If a listing had a featured snippet and a first place organic listing, this update will result in a loss in traffic as now there is only one opportunity to click through to that page. However, for those websites that rank low on the first page of the results, to get the featured snippet is a way of getting to the top of the search results without needing to be first organically. There can only be a traffic increase in this scenario.

 

As with all changes there are always winners and losers. The latest changes have been very positive for Artemis’ clients and it is a reflection of our constant attention to detail, optimisation refinement and very high-quality link building activities. We expect the Artemis approach to SEO will continue to have an increasingly positive effect on business for all of our clients throughout 2020.

If you would like to learn more about Google’s updates and how Artemis can help your business stay ahead of them, please get in touch with our experienced team today.


What we can learn from pre-Christmas online sales

What we can learn from pre-Christmas online sales

With the new decade beginning, it is interesting to look back at what has changed in recent years in terms of online shopping behaviour. The advent of extensive pre-Christmas sales has changed online shopping behaviour significantly over the festive season. But what does that mean for 2020 and beyond?

Christmas sale signs with snowman

The changing face of online sales

Traditionally, sales were only available after Christmas with the Boxing Day Sale and the famous January sales encouraging shoppers to spend what little money they had left. However, over in the US, sales have traditionally started the day after Thanksgiving; the day known as Black Friday. The concept of Black Friday has filtered into Europe over the last five years, increasing in popularity every year.

Following Black Friday, for those who are too busy to go shopping straight after Thanksgiving, in the US they have further sales on Cyber Monday, which is the first Monday after Black Friday. This has now extended into ‘Cyber Week’ for those who want to enjoy lower prices for even longer in the run-up Christmas.

These US habits have now become ingrained in shopping behaviour in the UK and much of Europe and it’s permanently here to stay. It has significantly changed how businesses sell online in the run up to Christmas and meaningfully impacted profits too.

The impact on the bottom line is particularly problematic for businesses as Christmas has traditionally been the time where many businesses have made their most sales and profits.

Focus on mobile and conversions

Mobile usability and conversions are key for online success today; and this is even more critical when analysing Christmas shopping behaviour.

You will no doubt have been inundated with marketing emails in December from every website you happened to have given your email address to, websites you probably can’t even remember using, all offering you amazing deals for Black Friday, and the entire week after it.

In today’s mobile driven world, we are mostly likely to open an email on our phones and then click through to the mobile version of a website. The need focus on mobile usability and conversions has never been so important.

Most mobile websites sill convert at a rate of half that of desktop, most still don’t load as fast as they should and most aren’t set up as effectively as they could be for conversions on mobile.

Hand holding a mobile phone

What should you focus on in 2020?

In 2020 the focus on mobile needs to be even greater to ensure increased sales/enquiries and optimal conversions, especially in light of the significant shift in online shopping behaviour.

At Artemis we are completely mobile focused. We understand that since Google switched to its mobile first index, it has become essential that businesses improve their mobile optimisation and user experience. This is even true for B2B companies who may still get more traffic and conversions through desktop users.

We work with all clients to continuously improve conversions, page load speeds and usability across their mobile websites. It’s a constant process of learning, testing and refinement what works best for each website, in each market and for each type of customer.

 

Our focus for 2020 is very much on maximising the performance of the mobile websites for all of our clients. If you are interested in learning more about what Artemis could do to improve your business’ mobile website, don’t hesitate to contact us today.


Google introduces new speed report in GSC

Google introduces new Speed report in GSC

We have recently seen a couple of significant algorithm updates which were not publicly announced or confirmed by Google. It is important to note that Google applies updates to its algorithm on a daily basis and most of them go relatively unnoticed. However, sometimes particular updates can cause the search results to noticeably shift the rankings for certain keywords.

Apart from those unconfirmed updates, the most interesting news last month was about the introduction of the new Speed report in Google Search Console (GSC). Google has been testing this new tool for the past six months and is now available for all websites.

It is listed under the Enhancements section but it is still in an experimental stage so it will likely change and improve over time.

Google Search Console speed report

 

There are two reports available, one for mobile and one for desktop.

The results are then broken down into three categories:

  • Slow (longer than 3 seconds)
  • Moderate (longer than 100ms)
  • Fast

Each category then list the specific URLs that fall in that category.

GSC speed report example

 

Interestingly it groups similar URLs, understanding that similar pages, for example blog pages, may all have a common theme contributing to the speed issue.

Why is this important?

Speed metrics have long been available in Google Analytics but the introduction of these reports in GSC is a further reflection of the current and growing importance of page load speeds for ranking purposes.

However, fast loading pages are not just beneficial from a ranking perspective; users are less likely to get frustrated with a website if the pages load quickly resulting in an increase in enquiries. Website visitors have little patience and often little loyalty. Improving the user experience is vital for good conversions.

SEO is a continuous process of refining pages, content, optimisation and authority whilst being relevant and useful for a given search query. A significant part of this process now is also the ongoing task of refining the pages to improve load speeds.

We have known for some time now that page load speed is a ranking factor for mobile results and the significance of it will increase over time. Working towards fast loading pages to create a great user experience is a key SEO factor going into 2020.

 

At Artemis, our team our highly experienced SEO professionals keep up-to-date with all of the changes Google rolls out so that our clients don’t have to. If you are interested in learning more about what we can offer, get in contact with our team today.


Google BERT

How Google’s BERT update is affecting search results

Google BERT update blog image

In early 2015 Google launched its machine learning artificial intelligence system, RankBrain, to further improve the ranking algorithm for its search results. Google actually launched RankBrain in April 2015 but didn’t announce it until October of the same year.

During that time no one had noticed any difference or that anything was refining the search results in the background.

Fast forward four years and we’re seeing the same effect with Google’s latest and most significant update since RankBrain: BERT.

Google seems to have a habit of giving its updates silly names but BERT is a highly significant and advanced addition to Google’s ranking algorithm.

BERT stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers” and is an AI based natural language processing (NLP) system. The system enables Google to better understand the relationship of all words in a sentence and, therefore, better understand what the searcher is ultimately trying to find.

Understanding the relationship of words in a sentence sounds like a simple task but it’s actually incredibly complex for computer algorithms to process accurately. The technology behind BERT is so advanced that it’s also required a change in hardware to handle the complex calculations and processes which were pushing the existing hardware to its limits.

How BERT improves search

BERT is able to determine the intent behind a search query by understanding the relative significance of the words before and after each word in a search query. Here is an example from Google of BERT in action:

Before and After BERT image

“In the past, a query like this would confuse our systems–we placed too much importance on the word “curb” and ignored the word “no”, not understanding how critical that word was to appropriately responding to this query. So we’d return results for parking on a hill with a curb!”

For more examples see Google’s news post about BERT.

When you look at the examples of the change in results with BERT’s input, you’ll see that the results are now completely different. It’s not like with regular Google updates where results change around a bit, with BERT the results returned for the search queries are completely different.

This is why BERT is the most significant change to Google’s algorithm since the introduction of RankBrain.

BERT isn’t refining the search results; it’s completely changing them to make them relevant and more accurate.

Key takeaways

BERT is using machine learning which means that it will continue to improve over time, resulting in an increasingly intelligent language learning system. It also means that the search results will continuously become more accurate and relevant over time.

However, note that BERT will mainly impact longer tail search phrases where the relationship between the words is vital in order to return the correct results. For short phrases it’s likely to have very little impact.

Google estimates that BERT will have an impact on 10% of all search queries and at the moment it is only impacting English queries in the US. It will begin to roll out to other countries and languages over the coming weeks and months.

BERT is also being applied to featured snippets as so many of these are often generated through longer tail search queries. As a result, they should be much more relevant than they are today.

On a final note, it’s important to understand that there really isn’t anything that you can do to optimise for BERT apart from having the relevant content for a given search query. If you were previously ranking top for a specific search and with BERT it no longer is, it’s probably because Google was previously showing the wrong results.

We positively welcome BERT and the positive impact that it will have on the quality of long tail search results. The impact may not be obvious to most searchers or SEOs but it’s Google’s biggest update in over four years and a very exciting one at that.


Man searching on smartphone

Google’s Core Algorithm Update

Man searching on smartphone

In March there were a couple of significant announcements made by Google which are worth discussing in more detail. These are:

Core Algorithm Update

Although Google makes daily changes to its algorithm, most of these changes generally have a very low impact on search results. Most people would never even notice the effects of these updates.

However, this month Google confirmed that it has made a significant adjustment to its core algorithm. It’s rare for Google to confirm that a core update has taken place, but the result of the update on the 8th/9th of March had a significant effect on some websites and it seems Google saw the need to confirm that a “broad core update” had been rolled out.

What’s interesting about this update, compared to previous confirmed updates, is this public comment from Google:

Google SearchLiaison March update tweet

And then followed up by this one:

Google SearchLiaison March update tweet follow up

“There’s nothing wrong with pages that may now perform less well” and “benefiting pages that were previously under-rewarded” and “There’s no fix” and “Over time, it may be that your content may rise relative to other pages”.

So what does this mean?

Historically, updates such as Panda and Penguin have always demoted websites with low quality content or toxic backlinks. However, this core update appears to be working the opposite way and is instead rewarding websites that deserve to rank better, hence the “no fix” comment.

However, the sentence of most significance is probably this one:

“Over time, it may be that your content may rise relevant to other pages”

Over time! In other words, there is “no quick fix”.

What this update appears to have done is adapt the core algorithm in line with artificial intelligence (AI) data that Google has been exponentially accumulating over the last couple of years, since the integration of “RankBrain” into its ranking algorithm.

Google’s AI data is powerfully analysing enormous datasets of user behaviour and the insights from this data has enabled the core algorithm to be adapted to better focus on useful, relevant, correct, engaging and valuable content. Rewarding engaging content is what this update appears to be focused on.

The reason why there is no quick fix is because in order to improve rankings it is necessary to satisfy Google’s AI that a page is better, more relevant and more engaging than the others in the search results. It takes time for this data to accumulate and for the benefit to be applied to the page.

Therefore, the focus has to be, as Google puts it:

“to remain focused on building great content”

Apart from that, some additional insights from this update include the following:

• Avoid competing pages on a website
• Avoid poor internal website structure
• Ensure pages are engaging
• Ensure pages are completely relevant to the search query
• Ensure pages have accurate information and data
• Ensure pages have “high value”
• Ensure pages load quickly
• Ensure pages are considerably better than the competition

There may not be a quick fix, but there’s always a fix.

Mobile-First Index Rolling Out

At the end of March, Google announced that after 18 months of testing, the mobile-first index is now slowly being rolled out to all websites.

A notification will appear in Google Search Console when a website is migrated to the new index, as such:

Mobile First Index Google Search Console Notice

The move to a mobile-first index is in line with the majority of searches now being made on smartphone devices.

Google’s intention is to not affect rankings with this update, hence the slow rollout, and for most responsive websites that will be the case. However, for mobile websites that offer a different crawl path to search engine crawlers or different content when compared with the desktop version, they may see a negative effect from this change.

We have worked with our clients for many months to ensure there is no impact from this change and we continue to monitor results and the transition to the mobile-first index.

We will notify clients when their websites are added to the mobile-first index and will monitor their subsequent progress in search as a result of this. We don’t anticipate any impact in rankings for our clients.


Writing on a laptop

Great Content Deserves Great Links

Writing on a laptop
 
Here at Artemis we have always focused on helping clients acquire the highest quality and most relevant links to their websites. Links are still a very critical component for successful rankings, particularly in competitive industries.

Ever since Google became the dominant search engine with its links-based algorithm, people have tried to fool Google into ranking their websites using spam driven link building methods. Over the years, Google has become exceptional at recognising spam backlinks and demoting websites that don’t deserve to rank because of their spam link profiles.

As Google now understands what constitutes a spam backlink, the attention has very much shifted towards rewarding “earned” links. Links cannot be bought, bartered or acquired in an unnatural way that contravenes Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

Getting links to a website today is much more time consuming and complicated than ever before. The standards required for links to have a positive effect are now so high that many agencies no longer offer link building services.

Earning Links

In 2018, a link is no longer a link; a link has to be earned and the website receiving the benefit of that link must be deserving of it. Link building, on-page optimisation and content cannot be looked at in isolation.

When Google finds a new link to a website, it will calculate both the value of the link where it is and the value of the page that it’s linking to. From this it will then determine what value, if any, to pass through the link from one site to the other.

A link on an irrelevant website, or in an unrelated context, or in a badly written article or where it appears that it may have been placed there for SEO purposes, this type of link will just be ignored by Google.

However, should the link appear on a good website, in context, in a good article and not appear to be for SEO purposes only, then Google will look to see if the receiving page for that link deserves to benefit from that link.

The receiving page needs to:

• Be of a high value
• Have relevant and useful content
• Have unique content
• Have fresh content

In other words, why should the receiving page merit the benefit of the link? There has to be a reason. Freshness signals are particularly important. In many cases, static, often outdated content, should not be worthy of a fresh new link.

Links cannot be looked at in isolation. Links must be earned and that means that pages that links are pointing to need to be regularly refreshed with new, up-to-date content. Alternatively, creating new pages with new content that is “link worthy” is a natural way to build fresh links to a website.

Websites never get penalised for having too much great content! Great content deserves new links.

Here are at Artemis we are constantly working with clients to ensure the continuous generation of quality content for their websites to complement the high-quality links that their websites are earning.