Author: Timothy Carter

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How Has Google Changed Digital Marketing SEO Since Last Year?

Here at OutrankLabs, we’re always attuned to the latest happening with Google’s algorithm and their impact on search engine optimization.

Google updates used to be the defining milestones of SEO. For a period of several years, it seemed Google would unleash a massive update every few months that would send our rankings and strategies into disarray. The Panda and Penguin updates were landmarks here, followed by a number of new iterations for each of those major algorithm changes; each time, search rankings would become volatile and search marketers would need to find new ways to achieve their goals, at least in some respects.

But lately, Google’s pace of development appears to have slowed down. The company has switched to more gradual rollouts, making smaller algorithmic changes and unleashing them bit by bit, so they’re hardly noticeable. They’ve also made fewer changes in general, presumably because they already have a solid foundation for search in place. With that being said, Google is still making changes and improvements, so how exactly has Google changed in the past year, and what effects has this had on SEO?


First up, there’s Google RankBrain, a modifying machine learning algorithm that works in conjunction with the Hummingbird update, which was released in 2013 to improve how Google interpreted user queries. With it, Google attempted to understand the semantics behind a user’s query, rather than simply breaking it down into decipherable keywords and phrases. RankBrain exists to handle particularly complex or poorly phrased user queries (which, as you can imagine, are common). As a machine learning algorithm, it attempts to learn from user queries and gradually update Google’s abilities to understand what users are really asking for. This didn’t have a massive bearing on search results, and doesn’t have much impact on SEO—other than the fact that Google’s interpretation of long-tail keyword phrases is becoming more sophisticated.

AdWords Changes

Back in February of this year, Google made some major changes to its AdWords layout. The company completely did away with the traditional ad layout reserved to the right-hand side. Instead, for most commercial searches, it introduced a block of four ads to appear at the top of search results. Ordinarily, organic search results and paid advertisements are two completely separate realms; one has no impact on the other. However, this change had some significant impact on the click-through rates for various keyword terms, especially highly competitive ones, throwing a wrench into some organizations’ ranking strategies and forcing them to seek more niche opportunities.

Strange Volatility

There was a bit of measurable, strange activity in Google search results back in January. Multiple tracking tools seemed to note far higher-than-usual volatility in search rankings, and after some prodding, Google admitted that this was some kind of core algorithm update. However, we don’t have any details about exactly what this algorithm update changed.

Further volatility was noted in May, when search optimizers noticed nearly a week of volatiles changes. However, this time, Google didn’t admit to any kind of update, leaving most optimizers more confused than when they started. No discernable features or qualities of this update provided any clues as to its content.

App Favoritism

Over the past year, Google has stepped up its efforts in favoring apps as possible replacements for traditional websites. It had already introduced app deep linking and the provision of apps in search results, but back in November, Google released an “app streaming” update that allowed users to view app-specific content in apps they hadn’t even downloaded yet. Though this update was reserved for only certain types of apps, it’s a clear indication that Google is pushing the future of apps forward, and you can likely expect to see more app-friendly results and changes in the future.

New Mobile Friendly Standards

Google released the original Mobilegeddon update more than a year ago, back in April of 2015, with its main purpose being to reward sites that it considers mobile-friendly and penalize any sites that still haven’t updated to the new standards. It followed up this update more recently, with a second mobile-friendly update back in May of this year. This update didn’t bring any revolutionary or devastating consequences, but did reinforce Google’s preferential treatment toward mobile-friendly apps.

What Comes Next?

Google hasn’t come out with any significant updates since the second mobile-friendly update in May, and most of its updates are small, gradual, hardly noticeable rollouts. So what can we expect to come next from the search engine giant? More mobile-friendly updates are probably in the pipeline, even after the two that have already been released, and I’d be willing to bet we’ll see more app-friendly updates in the coming months as well. Beyond that, we’ll probably see basic content or link quality updates, some layout changes every now and then, and other minor shifts in volatility thanks to RankBrain and other subtle movers and shakers. The days of big-ticket, game-changing Google updates may be finally behind us.


3 Critical Mistakes Made At Trade Shows By Exhibitors

critical trade show mistakesExhibiting at trade show industry events can be an exceptional opportunity to market your business, products and services. Unfortunately, many of those exhibitors don’t make the most of their time and money on the trade show floor. With the amount of money invested into being part of a trade show expo, it’s important to get a positive return on the investment.

Here are three critical mistakes that businesses make and you need to avoid when planning a trade show marketing presence.

Ill-Equipped Sales Staff
Success depends on the employees working the trade show booth! The salespeople that perform the best are often the ones who know their product, and their sales pitches are second nature to them.  With only a couple of minutes at the most to connect with potential customers, the sales team needs to effectively communicate the benefits, the value of what you’re offering.

It’s important to have a sales pitch prepared before stepping onto the exhibit floor. Staff needs to be polished in their presentations. Failing to do so is letting money walk away from your booth.

Body Language
The way your sales staff present themselves at a trade show, how they look representing your business can be a major factor in whether people visit your booth or look the other way and keep walking. Body language affects other people’s perceptions of you. Looking down at the floor, standing with arms crossed or even sitting behind a table speaks volumes. You want people to remember you!

Greet people warmly as they walk up to your booth with a smile and if possible with a strong handshake. This will increase the likelihood that attendees will engage in a conversation as you’ve opened the door to communicate.

Poor Marketing Materials
Investing in trade show marketing is not cheap. It’s understandable that your budget might be tight. And while you might not need to buy a custom trade show display, you definitely don’t want to cut corners when it comes to your trade show booth and put up a generic pipe and drape looking backdrop.

A sharp, eye-catching trade show display is a great first impression for potential customers walking by. You want to entice visitors to stop. If you can’t attract people to look your direction, your ability to generate leads and sales will be affected.

Also, you never want to skimp on the sales collateral. Generic photocopying of marketing materials is the quickest way to see your papers in the trash. Your takeaway content should be well designed, with valuable information about your company, products and services. They should tie back to your sales pitch.

Event marketing trade shows are a great place to connect with potential customers. Maximizing your time and exposure on the expo floor is critical to success. Having a polished sales staff who are aware of their body language, working in a professionally designed trade show booth with branded sales collateral to give away to visitors sets your business up to have success.

If you’re having trouble with planning your next trade show, Nimlok has a great guide to put you on the path to success.

Why Trade Shows Will Always Matter

In the age of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Vine, YouTube, there is the thought that trade shows and conventions will soon become a relic, nothing more than an old school marketing tactic. Granted, having used the internet to develop sales and connect with people around the world I would never have had the opportunity to meet online, but the truth will remain…trade shows will ALWAYS survive the latest fad!

There…I said it.

don't be shocked by trade shows

Shocking I know.

Why is that?

Trade shows are powerful face to face marketing events.

People develop connections easier when they can look a person in the eye.

Shake their hand.

Hear them laugh.

A level of trust is gained meeting someone in person over seeing a tweet or two, or an email.

Get an explanation that doesn’t depend on them using Google or staring at their smartphone trying to use their thumbs to type on that little keyboard hoping they’ll find the right information.

Trade shows attract people who are interested in what is being offered.

Whether it is at your trade show display or over at the booth of your competitors, people are attending the trade show for:

  • What you sell
  • What service you provide
  • Or what you competition offers

You can create tons of content for your website, share via social media, you can even use that content via social media to drive traffic to your trade show booth display space:

7 Reasons Why Twitter Should Be Your Best Friend at a Trade Show

4 Ways To Make Your Trade Show Booth More Social

5 Ways Social Media Can Make Your Trade Show A Success

But social media is not going to replace trade shows, conferences, and expos. And virtual trade shows will not have the same impact as a live trade show expo.

Trade show marketing will survive and thrive with the power of social media marketing. The ability to drive traffic to your trade show booth before the event and to extend your relationship with those prospects via social media will be an asset not a replacement for trade shows.

Do you think social media or virtual trade shows will replace traditional trade show marketing?