Today Is Google Mobile Friendly Day #April21 #Mobilegeddon

Is Your Website Mobile Friendly? If Not, Your Rankings Will Probably Suffer

Even for those in the digital marketing industry, it’s not easy to keep up with Google’s frequent algorithm updates.

As an agency, we’re constantly asked: why so many updates? What do these updates mean? Will these updates affect me?

As of April 21, 2015 (today), the Google Mobile-Friendly update is upon us. This will affect you, and affect your competitors.

In a constant push towards better user experience, Google has been placing importance on factors that help searchers better find what they’re looking for. It’s about creating a better User Experience.

What Is This Update?

An increasing number of traffic comes from mobile devices. Google will rank search results conducted by mobile devices (smartphones) based on the mobile-friendliness of a website. This update does not affect search results conducted in desktop or tablet environments.

How Does This Update Affect You?

If your website isn’t mobile-friendly, there is a high probability that your rankings will suffer on mobile device searches. To see if your website is indexed by Google as mobile friendly, it’ll be denoted in search results.

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What Do You NEED to Know?

I’ve shared the simple facts of what you need to know, but if you’d like to read up more on it, check out Barry Schwartz’s summary on Search Engine Land.

What Can You Do TODAY?

1) Know WHAT your mobile traffic is.

2) TEST to see if pages on your website are mobile friendly. You can use the Google Mobile Friendly tool for this.

3) We Can Help! We can provide further insight into how your website is seen in Google’s eyes. We’ll look at the usability and mobile friendliness of it, and provide insight in doing so.

Your website is a vital marketing and sales tool for your business. Request a FREE Inbound Marketing Assessment below!

Inbound Marketing Internship – End Of The Line

It was the middle of December 2014 when I started working with LocalTrifecta Internet Marketing agency. With the weather changing from winter to spring, my 4 months of internship agreement has come to an end in the middle of April 2015. Before joining here, I was a full time student of the MBA program at Beedie School of Business in Vancouver. I continue to be a student, but having successfully completed 4 months of internship, I am now officially eligible to graduate in June this year. As exciting as graduation may be, currently I am feeling the sorrow of parting from my colleagues.

In this blog post, I will attempt to summarize my entire internship experience…reflecting on the work, people, culture and training.

The Wake-Up Call

One of the most important things wise old men tell me is to choose a job that you are excited to wake up for. I take this advice very seriously and can speak with certainty that for the last 4 months, I have woken up excited on majority of the days. I look forward to seeing my colleagues at the office, checking my email and slack messages, and participating in the daily huddles where we discuss priorities for the day. There are times when the nature of work may be dull, but the vibrant culture in our office keeps us smiling through the toughest of sails.

The most important asset of this company is its people. Without elaborating on each individual’s personality and turning this blog post into a novel/thesis or a controversy, let me share some selective interesting facts:

  • The average age between the 7 of us who regularly work from the office is around 30. This includes the founder who is in his early 40’s.
  • Between the 7 of us, we represent 6 different ethnic backgrounds – Japan, China, Malaysia, Iran, India and Portugal.
  • Some of us were more suited for movies and some more for politics. A career change maybe on the cards in distant future, for some.
  • Our heights range from 5 feet 3 inches to 6 feet 3 inches.
  • Not everyone here is a Canucks fan.

On a serious note, every person here is skilled, knowledgeable, motivated, trustworthy, and above all, extremely helpful. Together, we have shared an excellent work relationship.

Sharpening The Axe

Abraham Lincoln had famously quoted – ‘Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first four sharpening the axe.’

Learning to manage and optimize digital assets is a key skill set to succeeding as a marketer in this era. Joining the internship program at LocalTrifecta Internet Marketing agency was a calculated decision on my part. I was initially apprehensive of how I would fit in, but it was incredible how well the company accommodated a new recruit and how quickly I felt comfortable and became a contributing member of the team.

Training is an essential element of the internship program and my colleagues never shied away from teaching. I was pleasantly surprised when I requested a training session in the last two days of my internship and it was not turned down. The best part is that you get trained with the opportunity to get hands-on-practice while getting paid for it.

I am sharing a list of some of the topics covered in the training module:

  • Inbound Marketing with an introduction to all 6 channels within it – Search, Blogs, Content, Emails, Pay-per-click, and Social Media.
  • Organic link building and broken link building via outreach
  • Optimization for local search
  • Web hosting
  • Blog post optimization
  • Google Webmaster tools & Google Analytics
  • Site page improvements
  • Content marketing key performance indicators and strategy
  • Social media management and strategy

This is not an exhaustive list as I learned a number of other skills and tactics while faced with unique challenges on client accounts. Many a times, small jobs were tasked to me while being given an understanding of the reasoning behind the tactics. This opened my eyes to a range of challenges and workarounds.

For example, a company had it’s website hacked multiple times despite having changed their web hosting domain server and login information. The client had no alternative but to build a new website. I learned how to de-index every site page of that website from Google and Bing. This is an important pre-step to avoid the new site from getting penalized.

Hands On Deck

I have already spoken of how the training was complemented by hands-on experience. In the 4 months here, I have had the chance to work on every training topic that I mentioned earlier.

Outside of that, being that this is a start-up and that the company is in a stage of self-discovery and growth, I had the opportunity to manage my own secret projects. These are initiatives that I was able to take to improve on the companies operational efficiencies. The following are the main projects that I was in charge of:

Local Search

Managing citations (online business listings) was one of my main projects and one that added direct value to our clients. Before I came here, we were doing a rather ordinary job in managing this project and it needed to be ramped up. My job was to learn everything about citation building and create a system and a training module such that any new recruit could pick-up from where I left off. Now, we have a clearly laid out system to manage information, achieve consistency, and save a lot of valuable time. The system has been documented in the form of a powerpoint presentation and has been tested with a new intern that we hired.

I could go on speaking about this project endlessly, but I have spoken of this in my previous blog posts and have published a blog post specifically on this topic. Hence, I’ll spare you more details.

Information Management

Internet marketing is all about managing information. With loads of spreadsheets, documents, images, account logins etc, it was important to have it managed in a way that it is secure and easily accessible. I created a spreadsheet with all of our clients listed there, the scope of service provided to each and the people responsible for the various services. This spreadsheet was also linked to various important documents/spreadsheets that relate to the various services. My hope is that long after I am gone, this spreadsheet will continue to serve the needs of the business.

Monthly Reporting

Sending out monthly reports to clients is a process that I am tightly integrated with. It has helped me gain an in-depth understanding of all the services we provide to each of our clients. It has also allowed me to dig into data and make sense of the numbers. Reporting to clients is an important aspect of agency operations, and I consider myself fortunate to have been trusted with this responsibility.

Training Presentations

I prepared powerpoint training slides for each of the training sessions that I received. These were created to improve the induction process for a new intern/recruit.

Time Flies When You Are Having Fun

My father used to say, ‘Do what you like or like what you do. If you choose your hobby as your profession, you will never feel like you are working.’

Personally, I really enjoy marketing. Working at an agency has been a refreshing experience as one is always thinking of ways to add value to clients, thinking about what can we do better and what else can we do. It’s exciting to evaluate the results of your actions, keep informed of the latest trends and look to apply new techniques to maximize returns. A lot of our time goes into execution but we constantly exchange great articles and share ideas that can improve results.

When managing multiple clients with varying expectations, internal operations can sometimes turn chaotic. The owner of the agency clearly understands the value of creating efficient operations and this company has come a long way in finding order within the chaos. There continues to be scope for improvement in the way certain activities are managed. But I have felt a sense of satisfaction knowing that I have played a role in helping the company progress towards becoming a more robust organization.

Closing Thoughts

Someone once said it’s not the geography but the people that make a country. Similarly, it’s not the location but the employees that make a company. Despite not being a lavish office in an exotic location, I must say that I have been thrilled to walk through the doors of this office every day – all credit to the wonderful people here. It feels like just the other day when I had come to the office to interview and met every one. They were all strangers back then, but not anymore.

It has been very pleasing to be acknowledged for my efforts by my colleagues and I will continue to be engaged with the company on a part-time basis to see certain projects through to the finish. I have also been given the liberty to take independent initiatives in designing tools and processes to add to operational efficiencies. Although this is the end of the internship, this is not a closure as I will continue to cherish and nurture the relationships that I have established here.

Is ‘SEO’ Changing? Yes, Business Owners Take Notice

One of the great things about the digital marketing industry is that it’s always changing. Flat out – it’s always changing. Google changes its algorithm. Social networks rise and fall. Search behaviour changes. Buying behaviour changes. All this change makes things enjoyable though. How we do things as an agency now is, in some ways, different from how we did things a year ago or two years ago.

One of those Inbound marketing channels, ‘Search Engine Optimization’ (SEO), is a perfect example. It’s the perfect example of an Inbound channel that has been bastardized over the last 5 years — mostly by black hat ‘marketers’. I say ‘Search Engine Optimization’ because that term has eroded a little bit and I’ll explain why in this blog post. In my view, the term ‘SEO’ (the term, not the concept) is rapidly changing.

What Is SEO?

Let’s start off by defining what the heck SEO is from words of the grand wizard of SEO himself, Mr. Rand Fishkin of Moz. Fishkin or for those of you on a first name basis with him, Rand, says that SEO is “the practice of increasing the quantity and quality of the traffic that you earn through the organic results in search engines”.

SearchEngineLand says basically the same — that it’s the process of getting traffic from the “free”, “organic” and “natural” results in search engines.

You type something into Google and you’re served a bunch of results that are determined to be the best and most suitable — in Google’s eyes. Google has a long list of factors that determine how suitable or relevant a search result is. So the optimization part of the term Search Engine Optimization involves optimizing for these various factors.

How SEO Was Done

Terms like cloaking and keyword density were immensely important back in the day. Google’s eventual algorithm changes cracked down on these old spammy tactics.

Here’s a list of things that were done (and that you shouldn’t do anymore):

If you hear any of this from those responsible for your web presence, get out while you still can, business owners.

But let’s think about this all for a second. SEO’s were to optimize a web presence unnaturally for specific keywords that were deemed profitable to a business. It’s kind of like jimmying a padlock or trying to break into your locked car after you left your keys inside. It’s not the right way to go but it’s a way to go.

SEO Today

Now that has changed a little bit. Given all that has happened and transpired in the past, all of the aforementioned heavyweights in the industry have gone in a different direction. And this isn’t bad. They’re responding to Google’s algorithm changes and to search behaviour.

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The results? The emphasis today is on determining user intent, enhancing user experience and satisfying that intent seamless, creating highly valuable pages in the process. This involves creating incredible content that people will naturally link to. You write a blog post that’s so good that people link to it in their own blog posts and share it via social networks. This creates natural backlinks. Plus, the importance of social signals cannot be ignored.

It also involves making sure all pages of your site serve a purpose and that these pages provide users with relevant information. The more valuable information, the better the site is in Google’s eyes. In fact, they cracked down on sites with too little information with the Google Panda penalty.

Of course, all of the on-site SEO items still matter and play a big role — HTML factors, site architecture factors and so on. Take a look at the Periodic Table of SEO for a nice visual representation of that.

Do We Still Call It “SEO”?

If you looked at that Periodic Table for just a second, what was the longest column? Content. So the creation of good, quality content that informs and educates searchers is critical to organic success. There’s already a term for creating content that educates, informs and eventually, brings in business. It’s called content marketing.

Links is the 4th column and there’s plenty of grey area as to what is good in Google’s eyes in terms of building links and what is not. Hence, why all the heavyweights advocate creating content that builds links naturally. I outlined what you shouldn’t do earlier. So if link building has come down to creating content that builds links naturally, then isn’t link building simply about content? So modern link building is just content marketing.

The second-to-last column is “social”. It just means that the more you share and the greater your following is, the better the reach for whatever you are sharing. Now, what do we call the stuff you share over social networks? Content! Social media is almost wholeheartedly content-based and the connection to organic search is that studies have shown that there is a correlation between tweeting or sharing a link and how quickly a post gets indexed in search results. But again, for any of this to transpire, content must be created.

So What Am I Saying Here?

Well, I definitely won’t say that “SEO is dead” as so many out there have. I just argue that much of it is encompassed by other Inbound marketing channels like Content Marketing and Social Media.

And in my breakdown of the Periodic Table, there were still 4 columns remaining and #2 and #3, HTML and Architecture, respectively, are extremely important to the health and viability of any business’ web presence.

So SEO is not dead, but changing and slimming down. What business owners need to understand is that SEO is just one Inbound marketing channel. It requires other channels, like Content Marketing, Social Media, Email Marketing and Paid Search for it to work harmoniously in success. You can’t have amazing content but a poorly structured site with a bunch of broken pages and oversized images. You can’t be running Google AdWords ads and pointing them to a bad landing page or an awful site altogether. All Inbound channels have a place and ought to hold their respective hands together for businesses to reap the benefits.

Main Takeaways

Let me give you some things to take away from this post:

  • Always be publishing great content
  • Always approach your site from a user’s perspective
  • Always have SMART goals
  • Always have a strategy in place to achieve those goals
  • Never look for just an “SEO company”
  • Consider every Inbound marketing channel

BONUS: Here’s a terrific post on the Top 10 SEO Myths by Cyrus Shepard. Please give that a read as well!

I’d love to hear from you on everything you’ve read above! Leave your comments and questions below and I’ll respond!