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As of March 27, 2018, Google officially began the rollout of its mobile-first index. Implementation started small with a few hundred websites. But, as of late April, global rollout has begun, ushering in a new era for search engine functionality and search engine optimization.
Historically, Google’s algorithm indexed a full-size desktop website first. But, the mobile-first initiative is acting like an algorithm update and changing the way Google’s “bot” crawls the web. Now, the algorithm will index a mobile website first.
A mobile website may be:
- Your company website that is built on a responsive framework that automatically scales the display based on user screen size
- A separate version of your website that users can access by toggling from the desktop version and vice versa
- A completely separate website
The mobile-first initiative is expected to impact rankings for many websites.
What You Have to Do to Maintain Search Engine Visibility in a Mobile-First World
By prioritizing mobile websites in its indexing, Google (and other search engines to follow) is prioritizing the mobile user experience. And by doing so, mobile-first indexing changes the ranking impact of some known factors. For instance, loading speed, while always important, takes on a new significance in the mobile-first world.
So, to maintain visibility in organic search engine results pages (SERPs), you have to make sure your mobile website*:
- Loads fast
Site loading speed cannot be underrated in a mobile-first environment. Mobile devices are employed by users-on-the-go who have even less patience than desktop users when it comes to waiting for a website to be completely visible and functional.
Although Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is not the only way to increase site loading speed, it is a data structuring practice that Google has never been shy about favoring. So, AMPing pages may be a strategy worth considering to maintain top SERP ranking (or finally climb ahead of your competitors).
- Features elements that display well on mobile devices
In addition to optimizing loading speed, you need to consider the user experience when trying to view and/or manipulate certain elements. For instance, even if you optimize images for fast loading and they automatically scale for screen size, is that infographic going to be readable without the users zooming in/out and repositioning it multiple times? Will the user know how to get back to the main page if they click something that directs them to an off-site tool or subdomain?
- Is intuitive to navigate
User-friendly navigation has always been a ranking factor, but it’s even more important on mobile devices where users do not have a “big picture”—i.e., a full-size menu—to help them visualize the organization of the site.
If you have an ecommerce website, navigation is even more important because you have to make sure your viewers know how to keep moving down the funnel to complete a sale before frustration makes them abandon a cart.
As always, mobile-first indexing will use user behavior, like bounce rate and time on page, to rank mobile assets.
What SonicSEO.com Clients Have to Do to Maintain Search Engine Visibility in a mobile-first World
Some businesses may be left scrambling to get their websites back on the first page of mobile-first SERPs to maintain visibility. But not SonicSEO.com clients.
As an industry leader, we’ve known that mobile-first indexing has been coming for quite some time. So, we prepared. We made sure we did all the right stuff to make your website rank well no matter which version is given indexing priority.
Our clients’ websites have already been:
- Built on a responsive or mobile-friendly framework
- AMPed for top page-loading speed
- Designed for easy navigation
- Designed to eliminate elements that are likely to frustrate mobile users
No panic required.
If you need assistance updating your website for mobile-first performance, contact us to schedule a free consultation.
* Actually, we recommend making sure even websites intended for desktop viewing conform to mobile-first preferences because there is no reason to not to optimize every users’ experience.
Your company works hard to establish a favorable reputation in the industry and with your consumers. But if you’re not putting in the effort to establish a favorable reputation online, then your real-world bottom line may suffer.
To get the best performance from your online marketing—i.e., increased online-generated leads and sales, increased visibility and real-world word of mouth referrals—you need to proactively build your brand reputation, not just reactively protect it.
Boosting Your Online Reputation Is More than Reputation Management
We frequently discuss reputation management; it’s an important aspect of customer service, and customer service is marketing. However, reputation management only maintains or preserves the reputation you already have. It is reactive in nature—it involves the actions you take in response to reviews, customer complaints and other press your company may have received.
Where reputation management is mostly concerned with your company’s relationship with existing customers, reputation building is about acquiring new ones. To convert prospective consumers into actual consumers, to push repeat buyers into raving (unpaid) promoters, you need to proactively boost your online reputation.
A few strategies to try include:
Create Content that Everyone Wants…and Wants to Share
Nearly every reputation-boosting strategy derives from this one. In addition to quality products and services—the stuff that drives your business’ profits—you need to offer free informative and/or entertaining content that builds brand awareness, consumer preference and brand loyalty.
And the types of content online users really want to consume are:
Videos. YouTube is the second largest search engine, so there is huge potential to expand your reach. Facebook videos also enjoy a significantly higher share rate than text-only posts. And, video allows you to more comprehensively represent your brand because users get visuals and voice for a more complete brand persona, which is layered on top of the actual message/information your video delivers.
Podcasts. Not every time or place is conducive to video watching, but many of those times are ideal for listening—e.g., in the car, on a plane, during a workout, etc.—and that makes podcasts an ideal format to share valuable content, like your expert opinion on the state of your industry, tips on getting the most benefit from your products or services, exposure to other thought leaders who inform your company values, culture and product development.
Long-form content. It’s one of the paradoxes of online user behavior—they want easy-to-digest content, and for many content creators, that’s translated into short content. But consumers often know that the brevity of pages may come at the cost of valuable information. So, they want the whole story, the in-depth analysis, the complete case study.
Although it should go without saying, we’ll say it again: quality content that will get shared is content that provides value to the users. Push marketing does not add value. Mudslinging about the competition does not add value. The content that helps them become more savvy consumers, saves them time and/or money or otherwise increases the quality of their lives is.
Position Yourself as a Visible Authority
One way to get an edge on your competitors and compel prospective consumers to choose your brand is to demonstrate your authority within your niche/industry. And for online users, authority is demonstrated by:
- Offering valuable content (see above strategy #1)
- Earned mentions (citations, references and backlinks) because of your content and your credentials
So, to build an authoritative brand:
Get Quoted. Your business leadership should have a face—some figure who can speak for your company as an industry authority. Whether it’s your CEO, COO or other brand ambassador, get this person “out there” where they can offer journalists and other media moguls as well as live audiences “sound bites” that make your name stick in the minds of your prospective consumers. (Businesses can do this old-fashioned way by making human contacts, but there are also online services for which you can register as a “source” so that journalists go to you when they need information or opinions on issues affecting your industry.)
Flaunt Your “Featured In’s”. When your brand and/or brand ambassador has been noticed by a news network, popular blogger or other professional organization within your industry, make that visible on your home page with a “Featured In” section. Give your viewers easily recognizable logos (with links) to see where you’ve been mentioned and/or where your authoritative contributions appear.
Of course, do not ignore the tried and true methods of establishing authority—BBB ratings, Angie’s list and similar directories and recommended vendor/service providers by trusted industry organizations.
Leverage Others’ Authority for Your Brand
The “Get Quoted” and “Flaunt Your Featured In’s” are two strategies to help you get noticed by online influencers and popular bloggers…and that gets you visibility in front of some massive followings. Plus, online mentions often come with links back to your own quality, shareable content…and that boosts your SEO performance.
But there’s no reason to stop there. If you are offering products, make sure they can be found (and purchased) on trusted ecommerce sites…and there’s none bigger than Amazon. Amazon wants to be the world’s one-stop online shop for everything, so they are happy to add credible vendors. They offer a number of online helps to get started like this guide.
Maintain Your Website
Remember that most off-site mentions will prompt users to visit your website and/or social media channels. Your online properties need to provide a user experience that reinforces the idea of you as an industry authority and a business that cares about relationships with your consumers. That means website maintenance and regularly freshening up content is a reputation-boosting strategy…as is reputation management (and now we’ve come full circle).
If you need help building and maintaining your online reputation so you can focus on running your business, contact SonicSEO.com.
Employers in nearly every industry face the same challenge—how to find qualified candidates. Or perhaps more specifically, how to find qualified candidates who fit into my company culture.
Before you divert your recruitment funds to outsourced solutions, make sure your company website has the potential to get your business found by job seekers with the right qualifications.
Job Hunters Need to See You
New college grads and experienced professionals alike often turn to online recruitment services like ZipRecruiter and Indeed, but they don’t stop there. In fact, they may not even start there. They may start at the Google search bar just as they would for any other search.
So, if you want to be seen by candidates, your job postings need to get you to the top of relevant search engine results pages (SERPs)…particularly because Google has restructured job-related SERPs so that job hunters can refine their searches by location, department, posting date and employer all without ever leaving Google’s property.
Plus, job hunters serious about building their careers and/or savvy enough to know that work environment and culture can greatly add to or detract from job satisfaction will do more research into the companies they are interested in. Your “Careers” section and job postings need to highlight your company’s leadership style, expectations and culture so that candidates can start to self-select whether or not they’re a good fit.
How to Help Job Hunters Find You
Optimizing your company website to attract talented candidates requires the same work as attracting prospective customers and clients. You need to:
- Determine who your target audience is
- Identify search terms they may be using to find jobs and companies that fit their skill set, experience and values
- Create content that provides the information job hunters are looking for
- Optimize on-page and back-end elements of job-related pages and posts for best search engine performance
Let’s break that down…
Determine who your target audience is
Maybe you absolutely must have an experienced professional who can hit the ground running. Maybe you have the experienced team who can nurture an industry newcomer. Create an avatar of sorts, a representative of the prospective employees you want to reach. Keep them in mind as you craft the “Careers” sections and job descriptions so that you appeal to your ideal candidates.
Identify search terms they may be using to find jobs and companies
Job hunters use common criteria to find suitable positions and employers, including:
- Title/experience level
Take some time to think about what job hunters may be typing into their search bars or speaking to their digital assistants when conducting online job searches. Make sure to incorporate key data in prime SEO real estate, like title tags, subheadings, etc.
Create content that provides the information job hunters are looking for
Companies looking to recruit top talent need to create content at two levels—
- Careers section—a navigational section of your website all its own that houses category-level and individual job postings. This is the section that gives you the most opportunity to share your company’s core values and describe—nay, sell!—your company culture.
- Job postings—individual pages explaining the day-to-day responsibilities, specific requirements, etc. of each position currently available in your organization.
When developing content for job seekers, you must think of them as potential clients. Appeal to their needs and interests the same way you do your consumers on other parts of your website.
On a very practical level, this means organizing your careers-related content so that users can intuitively navigate the section. For multi-site organizations, organize job postings by location first. For local companies, make it easy for job hunters to view postings that best meet their education/experience level and skill set. Make content easy to scan, incorporate images and videos so that they get a multisensory experience of your company.
Optimize on-page and back-end elements of job-related pages and posts
Creating content that meets job hunters’ intent will go a long way toward boosting your company and job listings in relevant SERPs. However, once you’ve edited your “Careers” and job posting content to incorporate keywords, there’s more you can do, such as:
- Add job post structured data to facilitate search engine indexing and enhance your SERP presentation
- Remove job postings that have been filled or are no longer available
- Submit new sitemaps when your job postings change so that SERPs reflect the latest information on your site
Optimizing your website for recruitment may sound like a lot of work. But in reality, it’s not. Much of the content you need is the same content you have to develop for online recruitment sites anyway. And if you want those channels to deliver qualified candidates, the same consideration you need to devote to identifying your target audience and their intent should go into the online job postings for ZipRecruiter, Indeed, etc., too.
But, no matter how much work it takes to recruit quality talent, it’s is minimal compared to the hours you could spend pouring over resumes and conducting interviews of less-than-satisfactory candidates…not to mention the expense that comes with trying to train the wrong person for the job.
We Can Help You Optimize for Recruitment
Still, if you do not have the time or resources to optimize your careers section for recruitment, SonicSEO.com can help. Contact us to schedule a consultation so that we can better understand your needs and enhance your “Careers” section to attract the talent your company needs to thrive.