Kevin Kantola

I am the owner and hands on search engine optimization guru behind SEO First.

Mar 012015

I will keep this short and sweet. Google has publicly stated that there are 2 new ranking factors in its search algorithm soon that all webmasters and marketers need to know.

The first one, according to Google, “Starting April 21, we will be expanding our use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal.”

The second one according to Google, “…over the past few months we’ve been running tests taking into account whether sites use secure, encrypted connections as a signal in our search ranking algorithms. We’ve seen positive results, so we’re starting to use HTTPS as a ranking signal.”


Links to More Information at Google


Feb 232015

Scott Stouffer offers a great read via the Search Engine Journal website about “Using Artificial Intelligence to Solve #SEO”. While it is pretty technical, it allows us a glimpse on the algorithmic scale on whiy SEO is so difficult and what can be done on the search engine level to resolve this.

Mr. Stouffer talks about Particle Swarm Optimization in relation to birds flocking which is an interesting concept.

According to Mr. Stouffer, one of the biggest reasons SEO is so difficult, “In fact, typical optimizations have to go through four layers: crawling, indexing, scoring, and finally the real-time query layer. Trying to correlate this way is fools gold.

“In fact, Google actually introduces a significant noise factor, similar to how the U.S. government introduced noise to its GPS constellation, so civilians would not be able to get military-grade accuracy. It’s called the real-time query layer. The query layer is currently acting as a major deterrent for SEO correlation tactics …

“…The query layer is the user’s view of what is going on, not the brand’s. Therefore, correlations found this way will very rarely mean causation. And this is assuming that you are using one tool to source and model your data. Typically, SEOs will use a number of data inputs for their modeling, which only increases this noise and decreases the chances of finding causation.”

Mr. Stouffer offers a solution that search engines can take in order to more closely match queries to results (you’ll have to read the article to find this nugget). This may well be the future of search, which will positively impact users, so it will be worthwhile for SEO’s to be familiar with these concepts.


External References


Jan 292015

Consistent NAP (or name, address and phone number) entries are vital for SEO of local businesses. Inconsistent NAP’s in local directories across the web can cause lower rankings for local searches.

On July 24, 2014 Google rolled out their Pigeon Update (not to be confused with the April Fool’s joke of PigeonRank technology) which had many local websites drop like a rock in the rankings.

At the heart of a lot of these ranking drops were inconsistent NAP’s. In order for rankings to stay high a website needs to have the exact same information in relation to places like Google Plus Business, Yelp, Bing Local, Yahoo Local, Merchant Circle, Linkedin, CitySearch, Mapquest and many more.

Some of these inconsistent listings are unavoidable such as if a business has a change in name or a change in address.

The solution is to first make sure that your website and Google Plus are perfectly aligned with exact match name, address and phone number. Second, make sure that the top local directories such as those mentioned above are also perfectly aligned. Close enough doesn’t count here.

So, if you don’t want your company to have an unhappy mishap that falls into your lap regarding your Google Map then make sure you have a reliable NAP so that you can sleep at night. That’s a rap.


External References


Dec 222014

Just in time for the holidays, Google has launched a limited release of popular song lyrics at the beginning of the search results. Here’s a little test you can try yourself in Google.

Type in the popular Christmas song + lyrics, “Grandma got run over by a reindeer lyrics” and you’ll see something like the picture below.

You can also try “Stairway to heaven lyrics” and a handful of other popular song lyrics to see if they pop up. This appears to be an expansion of the Google Knowledge Graph in the search results.

According to TechCrunch, “With Knowledge Graph, Google has been steadily enhancing its search results pages for years with data gathered from a number of sources, including Wikipedia, the World CIA Factbook, Freebase, Google Books, online event listings, other commercial data sets and structured data from the web.”

Some of the top lyrics websites may be affected by this move, but it will be an asset to some searchers who are looking to find popular song lyrics quickly instead of digging around through other websites to find the info for which they are looking.


Nov 282014

Google has recently rolled out its beta Contributor program as a test targeted toward about 10 websites. Contributor lets a select group of website visitors block Google ads for $1, $2 or $3 per month with the lion’s share of this going to the website publishers.

According to Wired, “The web is funded by ads. But so many people hate seeing them, and they often resent all the data tracking that props them up. It’s a clash that has become a major pain point for news websites and other publishers. The rise of ad blockers, which let people surf the web without these annoying ads, is also blocking their revenue. But Google is now offering a service that addresses both sides of this rather complicated issue.

“Launched on Thursday, the service is called Google Contributor, and it asks you to pay $1, $2, or $3 a month to back the websites you particularly like. In exchange for your support, you’ll see ‘thank you’ messages where ads used to be—at least on the websites that participate in the program.”

Some of the high profile websites that are participating in this test include Mashable, The Onion, Imgur, Urban Dictionary, Science Daily and WikiHow. Of course there are already ad blockers that one can use especially add-ons for Firefox, but this option allows fans of certain websites to contribute to the publishers directly and support their favorite online content.

It’s too early to tell how Google Contributor will impact advertisers or Adsense publishers.





Oct 292014

Google is calling their latest Penguin 3.0 release an algorithm refresh rather than an update. According to Google they didn’t add any new signals to the algorithm but rather cleaned up some old issues from Penguin 2.0.

Google broke the story through Search Engine Land that this worldwide rollout had started late on Friday night, October 17, 2014. After some confusion regarding the end of the rollout, it has been stated that Penguin 3.0 is still rolling out and will do so for weeks to come.

A couple other fun facts about Penguin 3.0 is that have been stated by Google representatives is that it impacts less than 1-percent of the English language search queries and it is targeting spammy links. What are the unstated facts? Like all refreshes or updates, it may take weeks or months to figure out the nuances.


Sep 292014

Yahoo started as a directory in 1994 and since has evolved into much more. After 20 years of service, however, Yahoo has decided to hand its own directory walking papers.

Because of competition from Google and decreased demand for what its directory has to offer users, Marissa Mayer has decided to pull the plug without offering a life line.

According to Yahoo, “Yahoo was started nearly 20 years ago as a directory of websites that helped users explore the Internet. While we are still committed to connecting users with the information they’re passionate about, our business has evolved and at the end of 2014 (December 31), we will retire the Yahoo Directory. Advertisers will be upgraded to a new service; more details to be communicated directly.”

Yahoo is an acronym for “Yet Another Hierarchical Officious Oracle.” RIP Yahoo Directory.

Aug 142014

This week is SharkFest on the National Geographic TV channel and appropriately enough Google has entered into their own battle with real, live sharks.

Fiber optic cables, which transmit data across the Pacific Ocean, have been the object of recent shark attacks. One theory is that the sharks are mistaking the electrical impulses from the fibers for fish.

According to The Guardian, “Showing video of a shark biting a cable during an attack, a cloud product manager said that Google is working with partner companies on cables across the pacific to reinforce them with a Kevlar-like matting to prevent damage. Underwater surveillance video shows a confused shark biting down on a cable.”

So, if your Internet speed connecting to Asia has been slow of late, it just may be bites of bytes that are responsible.


Read more at The Guardian


Jul 162014

In May 2014 the European Union declared that its citizens have the right to be forgotten. In other words, many of these citizens don’t want to appear in the search results.

So, how about in the U. S.? According to a recent survey on Survey Monkey, 74-percent of adults in the U. S. also want the right to be forgotten and would permanently remove their names from the search results if given a chance.

Some of the top privacy precautions users take online include using privacy mode in their browsers, deleting history, deleting cookies and avoiding storing information in the cloud. A whopping 27-percent avoid social media altogether including Facebook, Twitter and Linkedin.

So, what now? Google at least has taken a step in the more anonymity direction. After 3 years, Google + says they will finally accept any name to be used and will no longer require only real names upon signup. This may help at least some of that 27-percent to join in and participate in social media.


Jun 242014

Some people have asked, for the past several years, if the heyday of search is over. And the answer is that for the past 6 months, this apparently has been so.

Shareaholic has tracked the organic search traffic to the top 5 search engines from December 2013 through May 2014 and found declines in ALL of them. In fact, the declines have been between 17-percent and 32-percent.

So, what has replaced the search engines? Well, social media (especially Facebook and Pinterest) have been in the driver’s seat in regard to increased traffic quarter over quarter. Twitter is also starting to creep up in delivering traffic.

But, Linkedin and Google + while owning a very small percentage of the traffic pie, tend to drive more engaged users. And this is something that marketers need to be aware of as well.

So, is search dead? No, not dead, it’s just not peaking month after month like it used to do. And social media continues to expand its place at the table.