In a World With AI, Are Small Businesses Getting Priced Out of SEO?

In a World With AI, Are Small Businesses Getting Priced Out of SEO?

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In a World With AI, Are Small Businesses Getting Priced Out of SEO?
Technology changes quickly, and lately it seems like it’s been changing faster than ever before. While artificial intelligence has been a part of that technological landscape for many years in varying forms, it’s been making headlines lately because of the release of ChatGPT and other generative AI programs. Now, it’s begun to change the landscape of SEO.

How Does AI Play a Role in Google’s SERP Rankings?

Google has used AI in its algorithm for a long time. So how is AI only recently changing the SEO landscape? The answer has to do with the newer generative AI like ChatGPT. Google has started to include responses from its own generative AI platform, Bard, at the top of search engine results pages. This takes up a lot of real estate on the SERP. Users have to scroll down to see any search results at all, even the very first result. This means that the value of that top spot isn’t what it used to be. For those ranked lower on the SERP, there’s a chance users may never scroll down that far.

Who Is Google’s Algorithm Ranking the Highest?

There are many signals that Google’s algorithm pays attention to when it comes to determining search rankings. User interaction is a major one. Google’s search algorithm looks at such signals as clicks, bounce rate, dwell time, and more; websites that not only attract users to click the link but then also remain on the site for longer tend to end up higher in the SERP rankings. In theory, this means that really good content that is the most helpful to users should rank at the top. However, it often ends up being those with the highest ad spend in practice.

How Does Media Spend Impact Google’s SERP Rankings?

Larger companies with bigger budgets for ad and media spend are going to be more visible. Users will therefore recognize these brands more readily, leading them to more frequently click on links belonging to brands they already know and trust. This means that it can be difficult for new or smaller brands to compete; Google shows users what they expect and want to see, which can mean that it shows more popular content and may not leave room for brands that can’t pay to gain that same level of popularity via advertising.

Is Google Favoring Bigger Brands in SEO?

When asked this question, Amanda Shaffer, the founder and CEO of BrainVine, responded:

“The short answer is that it’s complicated, primarily because there’s more than one type of SEO these days. However, within the current landscape and in the more traditional sense of how SEO has functioned during the last decade, the answer is mostly yes.”

 

Amanda Shaffer, Founder & CEO of BrainVine

How Can Smaller Brands Compete in the Modern SEO Landscape?

Even if smaller or newer brands may find themselves priced out of the typical SEO landscape thanks to larger brands and AI taking up the bulk of the SERP real estate, that doesn’t mean there aren’t still options. Local SEO, in which you focus on building a brand within your local area, can be a good option because bigger companies may be focusing on a larger scale. Another option is YouTube; even with generative AI added to SERPs, YouTube videos are often featured prominently at the top. Growing a YouTube channel could be a way to compete for space at the top of a search engine results page.

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How Do Google Core Updates Affect SEO?

How Do Google Core Updates Affect SEO?

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woman working in front of a computer

Google often releases core updates to its algorithm in order to either address a problem or to improve the relevance and quality of search results for users. With Google changing how its search algorithm works so frequently, there can be some disruptions to SEO. But how, exactly, do core updates affect SEO and what can you do about it?

Do Core Updates Change SERP Rankings?

The short answer is that yes, an update can impact your rankings. It doesn’t always; in many cases, rankings may stay the same if your content still meets Google’s requirements for high quality. However, because the core update may reassess what Google considers to be top quality, rankings may decrease or even increase, depending on how your content matches up with the new qualifications.

What Does It Mean If Your Rankings Decrease After a Core Update?

Each core update just means that Google is adjusting how it ranks content in order to better match users with the best possible search results. In some cases, you may have ranked higher on a keyword that didn’t quite match your content as well and now you rank better for other, more suitable keywords. In other cases, you may need to revisit your content quality and update accordingly to meet Google’s standards.

What Can You Do If Your Rankings Drop After a Core Update?

Whether there’s something you can do or not will depend on the core update. If there’s a specific action you can take to restore your rankings to what they were before the update, Google will let you know. For example, when it switched to mobile-first indexing, optimizing for mobile devices first was something Google announced that you could do to improve your rankings. Sometimes, however, there’s nothing specific and Google will announce that along with the core update.

What Should You Do If There’s Nothing To Fix After a Core Update?

If Google has announced that there’s nothing to fix after a core update, then you should focus on improving the quality of your content and your website. This can mean focusing on EAT principles in your written content as well as improving the technical SEO on your website for things like loading speed.

Do Google Core Updates Cause Ranking Volatility?

It’s possible that a core update could cause volatility in the search rankings as the algorithm adjusts to the new criteria. Rankings may not stay static and may change multiple times during the weeks that the update is being rolled out. If in the immediate aftermath of an update, your rankings aren’t what you’d expect, don’t panic. It may take some time for the rankings to settle after the gradual rollout of the update.

Can You Anticipate a Core Update’s Ranking Changes?

There’s no real way to anticipate the changes that Google will make ahead of time. However, there are things you can do to future-proof your SEO. Focus on producing quality content that will benefit and engage your users. If users find your content genuinely useful and keep coming back to it, then your rankings may more easily recover or may not be affected at all by an update. You should also regularly revisit your technical SEO to make sure that your site is keeping up with current expectations for load speed.

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Preparing Your SEO Strategy for the Holidays

Preparing Your SEO Strategy for the Holidays

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man and woman staring at laptop

We’re nearing that time of year again. The holidays are almost upon us and if your business is to maximize this season, then it’s essential to make sure that your SEO strategy is prepared for it. SEO is typically a long game rather than showing short-term benefits, but that doesn’t mean it’s not worth a look at your strategy in the lead-up to the holiday season.

Is Your Website Optimized for Mobile?

Google has been operating on a mobile-first approach when it comes to website optimization for many years now. Your site, therefore, is probably already optimized for mobile. But it’s a good idea to check to be sure. Most purchases are made on mobile, so it’s worth double-checking that you’re not inadvertently driving away potential customers because your site isn’t loading as quickly or looks clunky on mobile.

Do I Need To Do Holiday Keyword Research?

No matter which holiday you celebrate or how you celebrate that holiday, online search behavior changes in November and December. People are shopping for gifts, preparing to travel, hosting visiting relatives, and much more. You’ll want to know what your audience is searching for at this time of year in order to properly optimize your website, any special landing pages you create for the holidays, and your marketing efforts.

Are Last Year’s Trends Relevant for This Year?

While each year will be different, trends from previous years can help to inform you what to focus on. Look at your own site data to determine which pages were the most popular with your audience at this time in previous years. These should be your focus and can help to inform your overall strategy.

Does Content Need To Be Holiday-Themed?

People search for holiday-related content during the holidays. For that reason alone, it’s a good idea to have some holiday-themed content planned out. Ideally, you should have begun planning your content for the holiday season several months before it began. In particular, if you’re offering deals for Cyber Monday and Black Friday, you’ll want content ready promoting those. The holidays are a great opportunity to highlight your products and services and if you don’t have holiday content ready to promote those, you could be missing out.

Should I Use Generative AI?

via GIPHY

Generative AI has been a popular tool for a variety of different tasks. It can be an aid to writers and marketers as well as provide a first line of defense in customer service. Many websites now use generative AI chatbots to help field questions their customers have, helping those customers more quickly and reducing the number that need to wait for a phone call or an email.

When Should I Start My Holiday SEO Strategy?

The sooner you can start prepping for the holidays, the better. Ideally, you would have months to prepare, analyze data and trends, and create the content for your holiday SEO strategy. If you haven’t started yet, then it’s better late than never, however. Get started as soon as you can so you don’t miss out on the possible benefits that SEO for the holidays can bring.

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How Putting Users First Can Boost Your SEO

How Putting Users First Can Boost Your SEO

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mobile users

User experience plays a huge role in your search rankings. It may be one of the most important factors when it comes to SEO. After all, it doesn’t really matter how well-optimized your content is if users have such a poor experience on your site that they leave. Google tracks user experience and uses it as a factor in determining SERP rankings.

How Does Google Quantify User Experience?

User experience is a qualitative feature, so how can a search engine quantify it to influence SERP rankings? Google looks at more quantitative factors that can indicate user experience. For example, bounce rate and dwell time are both linked to user experience. A high bounce rate means users aren’t staying on your site. Whether that’s because the user experience is poor or because the site just isn’t what they’re looking for doesn’t matter; both are signs that the site isn’t meeting user needs and therefore shouldn’t be ranked as highly. A high dwell time, by contrast, indicates a good experience because users won’t stay for long on a site that isn’t meeting their needs and expectations.

How Can You Optimize for User Experience?

There’s no optimization shortcut for user experience. The only way to optimize for this essential SEO factor is to provide a good user experience. This means offering high-quality content written for users first rather than for search engines. Your SEO strategy should be for your audience, not to game search engines into ranking you higher than you should be.

What Is High-Quality Content?

Google uses the following criteria to determine whether content is high-quality:

  • Experience
  • Expertise
  • Authoritativeness
  • Trustworthiness

To have high-quality content that Google will rank at the top of the SERP, your content will need to embody all of those traits. This will involve well-written, informative content and demonstrating that you are an authority in your industry so that others will want to link to your content as a source.

Can You Use ChatGPT Content?

ChatGPT has taken the Internet by storm. The predictive text AI program already caused a lot of speculation on how it can change the way we work in many industries. There are rumors that companies may start to replace humans with ChatGPT for things like content production. However, this is not a good idea if you want to rank well, even after Google has stated it won’t punish AI-written content just for being written by an AI.

Is ChatGPT Content High-Quality?

The problem is that AI-written content just isn’t very good. There are some major limitations to what an AI can do. It looks good, but it tends to be more style than substance and substance is what Google is looking for with its EEAT criteria. That’s not even taking into account the factual errors, lack of ability to understand humans, and the fact that AI can really only work off of input that it gets from real humans

Are Keywords Important for User Experience?

While keywords are still important to an SEO strategy, it’s important to use them sparingly. Gone are the days of keyword stuffing actually improving your rankings. You’ll need to balance your keyword strategy with making sure that the content is readable. Write your content for your users, not for search engines, and that will help you to create high-quality content.

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How to Help Stressed Consumers Make Brand Choices

How to Help Stressed Consumers Make Brand Choices

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confused woman

Within any industry, there are many brands customers can choose from. The trick is convincing them to choose yours. But in an increasingly stressful and competitive world, how can you stand out from the crowd without overwhelming potential customers? There are two important ways a brand can do this: forge a connection with its audience and find ways to make their lives easier.

Ask yourself the following questions to see how your brand could connect with consumers and how you could help to make their lives better.

How Can Your Brand Provide Solutions to Your Customers?

Thinking about how your brand could offer a solution to a problem your consumers are facing can go a long way. Many people are stressed out, worried and anxious about the future. Identify problems that your services or products can solve, either present or future, and offer those solutions in your marketing. Don’t make your customers figure it out themselves; they’ve got enough on their minds already.

How Can Branding Simplify Decision-Making?

Because there are so many options for consumers to choose from, standing out above the rest now often means helping make the choice simpler. People are often overwhelmed by the sheer number of choices out there, so helping them to manage that choice overload can be very attractive to potential customers. Plus, if your brand is able to help reduce decision paralysis, then that may increase the likelihood of the ultimate choice being your own brand.

How Can Your Brand Connect with Consumers?

Another way you can appeal to consumers is by using your brand to forge a connection with them. People want to buy goods and services from companies that they feel align with their own values and how they want to feel. Think about how you can convey those values and how you can use your brand and associated marketing to make a connection that consumers will find meaningful. People don’t typically want to be sold to, but they are more willing to buy from companies they perceive as friendly.

Do Consumers Appreciate Nostalgia in Branding?

Capitalizing on nostalgia is an option for brands looking for ways to connect with their customer base. Look at the age range of your target audience and think about what that age group might feel nostalgic about. For example, Millennials and Gen Z are now in their twenties and thirties, with jobs and mortgages. This may be an influencing factor behind the nostalgia-based trends highlighting the ‘90s.

Highlighting a time period that your customer base feels nostalgic about is a way to connect with them over something that makes them feel good and reminds them of a simpler time in their lives. It can also promote the positive emotions that these memories bring to the surface.

How Can Brands Combine Solutions and Connection?

Offering clear solutions to consumers and building a connection with them can go hand in hand. The language of your branding and video content can point to how your brand can make consumers’ lives easier, while images, coloring, and other themes could promote a personal connection with your audience, whether it’s via nostalgia or current values, or something else.

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What Has Changed with Google My Business?

What Has Changed with Google My Business?

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What Has Changed with Google My Business
Google My Business is a great way for businesses to help local customers find them. It’s linked to Google Maps and offers online users an easy way to find out more information about the business. It’s essentially a free online listing that helps your business appear to users on local Google searches. However, Google My Business (or GMB) has undergone some changes since the autumn of 2021.

What Is Google Business Profile?

To start, Google My Business is undergoing a name change. It will be known as Google Business Profile. The platform has undergone multiple name changes over the years, including Google Local and Google+. Even with the name change, it’s likely that you’ll still see Google My Business, GMB, and even some of the earlier names show up occasionally in Google’s wording.

How Do You Access Google Business Profile?

GMBThere used to be a Google My Business app that profile managers could use to make changes to a GMB profile. That app is retired as of 2022, but there are other easy ways to make GMB profile changes. Managers can access their Google business profile either through Google Maps or via a Google search for the business’ name. If you’re logged into a Google account that is linked to that GMB profile, then you can just do a search for “my business” to access the profile.

How Has Support for Google Business Profile Changed?

Google also announced that in 2022, the GMB portal would support mostly larger businesses that have more than one location. This announcement has prompted a mixed response. Some worry that small and medium-sized businesses won’t get the support they need. Others believe that this won’t have any major impact on smaller businesses because GMB is more frequently used by larger businesses already anyway. At the moment, we’re waiting to see the results of this change.

Is Google My Business Still Important?

Despite the changes being made to the platform, its importance for local SEO remains. Businesses of all sizes should have a profile filled out so that users can more easily find the company. The better filled-out the profile is, the more beneficial it is for SEO.

Do You Have to Have a Physical Address to Use Google My Business?

Do You Have to Have a Physical Address to Use Google My BusinessYou can use Google My Business (or Google Business Profile) even if you don’t have a physical address. It’s best for local SEO, however, because it’s linked to Google Maps. This means that your business will benefit most from using a Google Business Profile if there’s a specific geographic area that you’re targeting with your products or services.

Do You Have to Pay to Use Google Business Profile?

At the moment, the profile part of Google Business Profile is completely free. You do have to pay to use ads, however. While some have concerns that Google will eventually make a GMB listing a paid one, there isn’t any indication that this is going to change at all, let alone sometime soon.

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