Quantcast
Professional Digital Marketing from Aqueous Digital
Aqueous Digital discusses the closure of DMOZ

What does the closure of the DMOZ directory mean for SEO?

 

The SEO community was left to reminisce about the good ol’ days of the internet after the ancient relic that was the DMOZ directory closed its doors last month, but has the closure had any effect on SEO or rankings?

The AOL-owned DMOZ web directory disappeared from our browsers on March 17th 2017, leaving just a link to a static mirror of the site which can be found at www.dmoztools.net and the following message.

 

 

What was DMOZ?

For those that weren’t familiar with DMOZ.org, the website was an Open Directory Project that had been around since 1998 (under one name or another) and used human editors to organise websites rather than computers. The directory listed millions of websites that had all been added and categorised by thousands of volunteers.

When it started out in 1998 (the same year Google launched) its main competition was the Yahoo Directory.  Over the years Yahoo saw the benefit of machine-generated search results and gradually phased out their directory, until eventually closing it down in December 2014.

 

SEO and DMOZ

Then

For SEO, having your website listed on the DMOZ directory used to be a highly sought after prize.

This was during a time when the directory was very active, with new links constantly being added, reviewed and modified.  Before Google’s rise, DMOZ bought websites a lot of direct traffic and Google even had the directory copied as the Google Directory which they linked to on their homepage.

However as Google grew, DMOZ began to decrease in popularity and requests to be listed on the directory began to take a longer and longer time to process, until it became a near impossible feat.

 

Now

10 years ago or so having your link listed on DMOZ may have been the Holy Grail, but over more recent years the directory’s SEO value had significantly decreased as it has become less popular, relevant and current.

Machine-generated search results and Google’s growth have slowly but surely bought about the demise of the open directory.

Late last year both John Mueller and Gary Illyes from Google made negative comments about directory listings, suggesting that they now provide less SEO value than ever.

 

Will DMOZ’s closure effect rankings?

So far there has been no obvious reported effects on rankings from the closure of the mostly redundant DMOZ directory.

The only reminder to webmasters and SEO professionals will be the NOODP meta tags that have been used to instruct search engines like Google not to pull in descriptions from open directories like DMOZ.  If you have this tag in place on your website it will not have a negative effect, it will simply now be redundant.

 

Curlie?

Although many people in the SEO community may believe that it’s time to let open directories like DMOZ rest in peace, for those that have devoted years to the project it is proving hard to let go!

On the 31st March the DMOZ Facebook page posted a link to a website called https://curlie.org/ that contains a static page mirroring the late DMOZ directory and the defiant message ‘Humans still do it better.’

Jonathan and Emma Guy receiving the Halton Business Award for Marketing Excellence

Aqueous scoop top Marketing award at the Halton Business Awards

Aqueous Digital were delighted to win the prestigious Marketing Excellence award on Friday evening at the Halton Business Awards, held for the first time this year at the Select Security Stadium in Widnes.

The awards, now in their tenth year, are a showcase for the best and brightest businesses in the Halton region. With fifteen individual sponsors, the main sponsor of Mersey Link and attended by over 300 guests on the night, this was a chance to highlight the region’s talent.

Following a wonderful meal and keynote speech by James Rule, Chief Executive of Widnes Vikings, the awards ceremonies began.

Aqueous Digital were shortlisted in two categories; Apprentice/Young Achiever of the year and Marketing Excellence and were successful in the Marketing Excellence category.

The award recognised the achievements Aqueous had made with customers they help, including helping move one business from a kitchen table start-up to over £1,000,000 turnover in just three years.

There to collect the award on the night were Jonathan Guy, Managing Director and Emma Guy Director of Sales Operations and they accepted the award on behalf of the entire Aqueous team.

The atmosphere on the night was bright, energetic and enthusiastic with companies mingling, congratulating and supporting one another. We were overwhelmed by the support shown by everyone and the accolade of being crowned the best in Halton.

Established in Runcorn in 2011 the firm has gone from strength to strength, employing local people and growing year on year. The award reflects the hard work and dedication of the team and their daily achievements on behalf of customers who are looking for a return from their Paid and Organic search budgets. Without the individuals who make up the Aqueous team we would not have been able to achieve this.

As we look forward to our sixth birthday next month we are looking forward to a bright future where we can help even more companies succeed with their marketing.

Article discusses Accelerated Mobile Pages

AMPing up your website’s mobile speed in 2017

Could AMPing up the speed of your website’s content give you the edge over your competitors?

Did you know that all around the world more people are now searching for information online using their mobile devices than they are desktop computers? (According to Google)

Mobile browsing has been on the increase for some time now and this doesn’t seem set to slow down any time soon.

With the digital landscape constantly shifting and becoming more mobile-oriented is your website keeping up and delivering a mobile-friendly experience?

 

What is AMP?

Since 2015 Google have been slowly rolling out accelerated mobile pages (AMP) in response to the increase in demand from users for more instantaneous access to information on mobile devices.

In a world where we have access to almost any information we could dream of at the tips of our fingers, we don’t want to have to deal with the frustration of slow pages taking an age load – we want answers and we want them now!

Accelerated mobile pages can be identified in search results by looking for the AMP initials and lightning bolt symbol next to the listing as shown here:

Rudy Galfi, the AMP Project Product Manager has been quoted saying that on average an AMP-formatted webpage takes 0.7 seconds to load, whilst the average time for other webpages is 22 seconds!

So far AMP has most commonly been used by news websites and blogs but is now being adopted by a more varied mix of websites.  It is expected that as with most things Google, early adopters of AMP will be the ones that reap the rewards!

How does it work?

AMPed pages load almost instantaneously because they are coded to prioritise loading text content.  Additional content like imagery is kept to a minimum and loaded after the text content on the page.

 

Why AMP?

The key benefits of using AMP are:

  • Improves user-experience by minimising frustration caused by slow-loading pages, which will in turn keep people on your website.
  • Fast-loading pages are great for SEO. AMP is not yet known to be an individual ranking factor, but site speed is!
  • Improved visibility of content. Google uses a ‘top stories’ carousel that highlights AMP content.

 

How can I get it?

In order to get AM on your website you will need new versions of your web pages built and developed using the AMP HTML.  These new pages will strip out all ‘non-essential’ information on the page when it is being viewed on a mobile phone.  When your webpage is viewed on a desktop computer, visitors will still see the full webpage, giving users on both mobile and desktop devices the best experience for their browsing device.

Worried about duplicate content?

We’ve all had it hammered home that duplicate content is bad for SEO, so won’t your new AMP webpage contain the same duplicated content as the desktop version?

In short, yes, it will contain the same content but using a rel:”canonical” tag will prevent Google from marking either version as duplicate content.  The rel:”canonical” tag simply tells Google which piece of content is the original and should be applied with all the credit and lets it know that the AMP page is a related copy of this page.

 

Want to find out more about AMP?  Visit the AMP Project website for more details and tutorials or give one of our team here at Aqueous Digital a call on: 0800 285 1424.

Pinterest look to introduce advertising through ‘Promoted Pins’

Pinterest advertisers could start paying for promoted pins as early as the end of this month, according to a report from the Wall Street Journal, following experiments with Promoted Pins which started last October.

Invite to pinSimilar to Twitter, Google and Facebook, Pinterest will look to make use of native advertising, looking to display their ads with the same look and feel as organic pins with the exception of a ‘Promoted Pin’ tag. This feature will allow advertisers to reach users outside of their own followers, on a platform with over 70 million active users.

Some big brands have already had a chance to test the visual-driven ads, including high-end hotel chain Four Seasons, who created a pin promoting a $70,000 hotel package complete with a private jet trip to Bora Bora; which was re-pinned more than 9,000 times with the company receiving over 500 requests for a brochure.

Similarly to Google’s advertising platform, Pinterest will be offering the choice of CPM (cost per thousand impressions) or CPC (cost per click) adverts, depending whether the advertiser is looking for branding or performance based campaigns.

With Pinterest already having numerous beneficial features available for e-commerce marketers, including pricing on product pins and the free price drop alert, the question is will Pinterest be able to entice companies into paying for additional exposure?

Hopefully they will have learnt a thing or two from Facebook and won’t be making the same mistakes, such as demoting organic posts in order to encourage people to use paid advertising.

Pinterest is a great platform with a huge active user base and we have no doubt that introducing advertising is a smart move, we just hope they do it right! We wouldn’t want to see their reputation heading in the same direction as Facebook…

Voice search and SEO

Is Voice Search a Game Changer for Digital Marketing?


As we become increasingly comfortable with speaking to our electronic devices the number of people using voice search is growing.  This shift in the way people search means businesses and websites need to adapt their online strategy in order to stay ahead of the game and thrive.

Just as you thought you were getting to grips with how to optimise your website for typed search engine queries, technology advances and gives you a new dimension to learn about!

According to a survey by Comscore, 40% of adults now use voice search once per day.  If your business hasn’t started to at least consider how to optimise your website for voice search then you could be at risk of getting left behind.

 

What is voice search?

Voice search is a basic form of AI, you probably know it best as Siri on the iPhone, Alexa on Amazon’s Echo, Microsoft’s Cortana and Google’s own voice search feature.

 

Voice search and SEOHow is voice search changing digital marketing and SEO?

First of all, it’s important to understand that voice search is not taking over from typed search, so don’t panic, all previous digital marketing and SEO work undertaken is still relevant!

In order to adapt for voice search businesses need to add a new dimension to their strategy rather than changing anything existing.

Voice search requires a different SEO approach to typed searches as users deliver their queries in a different way.

Think about what you may type to search for a hairdresser versus what you might say via voice search.

For the majority of people a typed search will be 2-3 words long, written in ‘computer speak’ and narrowed down to just a few essential keywords.  Whereas when we use voice search we expect the technology to be able to understand full sentences, so we tend to talk as though speaking to another human being.

 

Common features of voice searches

  • Longer query length
  • Generally these are question searches
  • We ask as though speaking to another human
  • More frequently performed on mobile devices
  • Queries often have greater intent
  • Often used when speed is of the essence
  • More likely to be used for local-based queries

 

How to adapt online for voice search

Eager to get your business’ online presence optimised for voice search? We’ve come up with a few tips on what to consider and changes to implement to keep your business one step ahead when it comes to voice search.

 

Research, research, research!

Keyword/phrase research for voice search is essential.  Find out what questions people are asking on voice search in order to discover your business.  Once you’ve got some idea on what kind of phrases and questions are being used, identify which ones are your highest value questions.

Remember that generally people using voice search tend to use more specific search queries that are capable of revealing their level of intent a lot more accurately than with text search.

 

Update content accordingly/create new content

Once you’ve identified which voice search queries people are using to find your website you can begin to tweak existing content or create new high quality content around these questions and queries.

 

Adjust bids

Of course if you’re able to identify the highest value queries and long-tail key phrases, then it makes financial sense to adjust your bids on any Adwords campaigns that you may have running to reflect your findings.

 

Update local business listings and ads

Due to the speedy nature of voice search, a high percentage of searches performed this way are local searches, meaning that local businesses that adapt will reap the rewards and have the advantage over competitors who are slower to adapt.

People performing local searches on the move often want quick answers with minimal actions before a decision is reached.

This is why local voice searches often trigger business listings/ads in search results, making it essential to keep business listings up to date.  Local voice searches often have high intent, resulting in searchers bypassing business websites and instead taking action directly from the search results by using the ‘call now’ or ‘book now’ call to action buttons.

 

With new and emerging technologies like Amazon’s Alexa Smart Home becoming more popular and wearables like smart watches now being released by popular brands like Michael Kors, speaking to our devices is becoming more and more commonplace.

Businesses with their finger on the pulse should begin adapting their online strategy now if they haven’t already in order to stay ahead of competitors and save themselves a bigger job down the line.

 

Need some help or advice with optimising your online presence for voice search? Get in touch with our team of experts here at Aqueous Digital by giving us a call on 0800 285 1424.

Google 2017 algorithm changes - Aqueous Digital Services

Google’s FRED Update: What? Why? And how to recover

Google’s latest algorithm update which first hit on March 8th has been causing waves in the SEO world as some websites reported almost a complete loss of organic traffic overnight.

The update hasn’t been bad news for everyone as some savvy webmasters have reported positive results since this date, but for many affected this has been the most devastating update of the year so far.

We’ve taken a look at what we know so far about the Fred update, who has been affected and what steps you can take to recover if you’ve suffered a drop in ranking.

 

8th March – Fred update is rolled out

It first became apparent that something big had occurred on 8th March.  Unsurprisingly Google responded vaguely to accusations of an update, leaving it unconfirmed at this point.

The update was quickly christened ‘Fred’ after Google’s Gary Illyes recent joke that all new updates should be named ‘Fred’.

 

 

What we knew one week on

After about a week and some intensive investigation from SEO professionals and webmasters worldwide, it became evident that this new update was another attempt to improve the quality of search results.  Sites negatively affected by the update tended to have low quality content and a lot of ads or affiliate links featured on-page.

Many of the websites hit were non-specialist blogs covering a wide range of topics that appeared to have been created with the sole purpose of creating backlinks or generating income through ads without offering much in the way of valuable or unique content to users.

 

 

Many of these websites have been affected quite dramatically. According to the guys at Search Engine Roundtable, after they reviewed a number of websites that were hit by the update, most of them had experienced at least a 50% drop in organic traffic overnight – with some seeing up to a 90% drop!

 

23rd March – Google confirm update

It wasn’t until March 23rd that Google openly acknowledged the update. First Google’s Gary Illyes stated during the AMA with Google session at SMX West that sites suffering from the update were rightfully hit as they were going against Google’s webmaster guidelines.

Later that same day John Mueller from Google said during a Webmaster Google Hangout that the update was to hit sites that weren’t following webmaster guidelines, and that websites affected must have content quality issues that need to resolving.

 

 

What can you do to recover a website affected by the Fred update?

If you think that your website has been affected then the first thing to do is make sure that you fully understand the Fred update and revisit Google’s Webmaster Guidelines.

At Aqueous we have identified a few of the key areas that most affected sites could do with brushing up and improving in order to conform to Google’s guidelines and improve their content and regain their rankings.

 

Reduce the number of ads

Although there is no set number of how many ads is too many, we would advise webmasters to review their website and ask themselves honestly whether the ads featured are intrusive.  If more than one ad can be seem at a time on any one page or piece of content then it’s probably too many.  Remember that your website should appear user-friendly and attractive and professional to look at, not ad heavy.

 

Write specific not generic content

Anyone can write generic content, but not everyone can write unique content.  With so many people writing shallow generic content, a lot of content on the internet becomes samey and so loses its value.  Remember that Google values unique, relevant and high quality content, so instead of writing shallow articles on broad topics try to drill down into a specific angle or aspect of a topic to make your content different and interesting.

 

Make sure content provides users with value

Don’t blindly write a piece of content because the title has sprung to mind, think carefully about whether the content will provide readers with value.  Think about who your audience is and what pain points they’re looking for solutions to in order to create content for real people rather than for search engines.

 

Reduce backlinks (quality over quantity)

Google have been making it clear that ‘black hat’ SEO techniques involving ‘spammy’ backlinks are bad and will be penalised for almost a decade now, so there’s no excuse to still be featuring them on your website!  If your website has forced or artificial links pointing to it then you need to work with the Webmaster who owns the website that they feature on to get them removed.  Equally if your website features a lot of these kind of irrelevant links to other websites then you need to be removing them and reviewing your content.

 

Ensure keywords are included naturally

Make sure you’ve not gone over the top with keywords in your content.  Instead, write well researched and valuable content with the reader in mind.  Good quality content should naturally use synonyms and be keyword rich, there should not be any need for unnatural keyword stuffing.

 

 

Have you seen any changes to your website’s ranking over the last couple of months? If so tweet us @AqueousDigital.

Need some help recovering your rankings? Get in touch with our SEO team by giving us a call on 0800 285 1424.


 

John White Boots

The astonishing endurance of John White Boots and a Marketing lesson for all

I can’t remember the exact date when I bought my first pair of John White boots but I do remember how I felt.

You see, these boots were over £100 and I had never paid that much for a pair of boots before.

Ever.

So, it sticks in my memory for the simple reason that this was a major expense as far as I was concerned and one that would, in hindsight, mark a change in my buying behaviour.

At the time, back in 2008 or 2009 (I really can’t remember the date), I thought I was just buying a good pair of boots but it turned out to be a whole lot more than that.

As with all new footwear, they felt strange at first but that didn’t last long.

Within a day, I was starting to feel that they were part of me and within a week you couldn’t get them off my feet.

These were, without a doubt, the most comfortable pair of boots I had ever bought.

John White Boots

Up to that point, most of the footwear I had previously bought had become tired and worn and eventually were simply sent for recycling, usually after less than a year.

These boots, however, bucked the trend. They kept going year in year out and with a little bit of TLC they still looked decent.

 

When they needed a resole and reheel and they ended up at my local cobblers who did a decent job with them. It took almost two years before they needed work and this was the first of four occasions which they went back to him and each time came back they seemed to have a new lease of life.

After a while I began to think of them like Trigger’s broom in Only Fools and Horses; the broom had 17 new heads and 14 new handles but it was still his original broom.

But in 2011 I hit another crisis point. The laces finally gave out and I could not find a suitable replacement. After trawling round my local shops, I decided to contact John White themselves and in February 2011 they sent me two pairs of replacement laces. I only know this as I have the original email acknowledging my contact from the website!

This was quite simply great customer service.

And so, the boots kept going. And going. And going.

Fast forward to 2017 and they are still going.

John White Boots

John White no longer make this exact boot but they never forget their customers.

About a month ago, the laces finally gave out but a quick call to them and the lovely Christine in Customer Services sent me out some more replacement laces which should keep them going for many more years.

It turns out that I wasn’t just spending £100 on a pair of boots all those years ago, I was buying an ongoing relationship with the boots and this business.

And it works. I own four pairs of John White boots and shoes and now they offer a repair service I don’t have to rely on my local cobbler, I can send them back to the manufacturer to get the love and attention they need.

I learned from this that firstly, paying good money for good shoes is an investment and secondly, that if you buy them from a decent company then they look after you. The customer care I have received over the years, as well as the quality of the product, has led me to write this piece.

And all it has cost them in almost ten years is a couple of pairs of laces.John White Boots

I should probably say at this point that I have absolutely no relationship to John White shoes nor have they given me anything to write this piece. It’s from the heart and thank you to them for the product and service over the years.

It’s a classic Marketing tale of how to create and build a brand and in so doing create a customer for life.

Linkbuilding with Aqueous Digital

The Ever-Changing World of Link Building

Building links with Aqueous DigitalLink building is dynamic and ever-changing, but it is still an integral part of any form of digital marketing, and should be one of your SEO priorities.

What started as a simple ‘who shouts the loudest wins’ with very few rules has slowly been becoming a super-strict game – with the rules strictly enforced by the mighty Google.

It may be all well and good finding ‘quick wins’, but the ugly truth is most of the time these are short-lived, short-term and ineffective solutions, and although Google is just a machine, it’s unlikely you’re going to ‘fool the system’ for too long.

We’ve said it time and time again and we stick by it, the best practice for SEO should always be do it right the first time.

That being said, what exactly is ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ when it comes to link building? This is something that seems to change on a regular basis, and we spend a fair bit of time keeping up with the rules as Google churns them out.

But for now, there are a few rules you should always abide by when it comes to link building, as dictated by Moz.

 

 

One of the first rules they touch on is something we’ve been preaching for a while now – which is beware your anchor text.

When it comes to websites being penalised for their backlinks the common factor often seems to be the anchor teLinkbuilding with Aqueous Digitalxt, and you should be particularly aware when you control the anchor text. Google knows when you control the anchor text and that is exactly what they are looking for, and self-controlled links with over-optimised anchor text are subject to devaluation and penalisation.

 

With regards to this, you should be even more cautious with links that scale, such as widget links, author bio boxes, etc. Combining these two elements leads to a bulk amount of poor links that are even more prone to devaluation and penalisation.

 

You should never ask for anchor text, whenever you do this, regardless if you try to diversify the way you do it, you create over-optimisation and a predictable pattern, which more often than not will lead to a lot of red flags being raised.

 

Letting people link to your site however they choose, whether it’s how you want it or not creates a much more natural link profile, which is ultimately what you are looking for.

And one of the final “avoid” rules from Moz is avoid site-wide links, which again is something we have been preaching to our clients for years. The only obvious exception would be site navigation, but besides this site-wide links of any kind, particularly site-wide anchor text footer links should be avoided at all costs.

 

The key point out of all this, despite the ever-changing rules and dynamics behind it all, is to keep link building.

 

Google is continually changing its algorithm and rolling out new updates and rules, but this doesn’t mean you should ever give up on link building. Link building has always and we suspect will always be an integral part of search engine optimisation.

Read more about the dos and don’ts of link building or watch the video over at Moz: http://moz.com/blog/the-rules-of-link-building-whiteboard-friday

Google 2017 algorithm changes - Aqueous Digital Services

What do we know about Google’s algorithm updates so far this year?

Google’s updates in 2017

With Google keeping the details of any changes to their algorithm firmly up their sleeve, we’ve rounded up some information on what we know or suspect has happened so far this year.

Here at Aqueous the last couple of months have been a mix bag when it comes to SEO ranking.  Google refused to comment on whether or not there had been any changes made to their algorithm earlier this month, but evidence suggests that there has been some upheaval, with some websites noticing significant fluctuations in traffic whilst others remained unaffected.

Let’s take a look at the three potential dates so far this year when the SEO community suspect Google may have made changes to or tweaked their algorithm.

Google's algorithm changes in 2017 - Aqueous digital marketing services UK

 

January Update

After Google made a very rare announcement about a future update to their algorithm back in August 2016 the SEO community prepared themselves for the worst and waited with baited breath to see what the effect would be.

Said update was the January 10th Mobile pop-ups update which it was said would penalise websites making it difficult for those browsing to access the content on the page due to intrusive pop-ups.

The SEO community looked on with interest on this date and then during the days and weeks that followed but saw very little (if any) change to rankings as a result of this update.

 

Potential Update in Early February

It wasn’t until early February when we really started to notice some unusual fluctuations in rankings, but there hadn’t been a peep from Google, so as usual we were left to investigate possible causes ourselves.

Minor changes to website rankings began to get picked up around February 1st and these fluctuations became even more apparent around February 7th.  Google have kept their lips sealed and refused to either confirm or deny if they have made any changes but we suspect that there has either been a new update or a tweak to an existing one.

 

Who has been affected?

The cause and effect of any algorithm change is still unclear, but research and talk amongst the SEO community suggests that the changes may be related to backlinks and so could have been caused by a tweak to the Penguin update.

Amongst a number of huge changes that aimed to improve the quality of search results, the Penguin update cracked down on websites that had gathered ‘spammy’ backlinks (eg. paid for links or links to their website from unrelated websites that weren’t seen to be genuine).

Although most SEO companies have now moved away from this kind of activity, some websites may still have some remaining ‘spammy’ backlinks out there pointing to them.  It has been reported that some websites that have backlinks from PBNs (Personal Blog Networks) seem to have been negatively affected so there is speculation about whether Google may have implemented a tweak to stamp out the effectiveness of backlinks from these kinds of websites.

 

Have you seen any changes to your website’s ranking over the last couple of months? If so tweet us @AqueousDigital.

Need some help recovering your rankings? Get in touch with our SEO team by giving us a call on 0800 285 1424.

Ewan & Ryan

Aqueous grows again with the addition of two new superstars

Due to a number of significant customer wins at the start of 2017 Aqueous have grown again!

We stepped into the January transfer window looking for exciting talent and are very fortunate to have found two future superstars.

Ryan Jackson

First to join was Ryan Jackson, who is a specialist in social media and PPC campaigns. Ryan has already demonstrated his abilities by not only passing his Google Adwords exam in his first week but also impressing us with the speed at which he has taken on the social media side of things.

Next to join us was our new Business Development Manager, Ewan Drake.

Ewan Drake

Ewan joins us with a background in media sales, particularly digital media over the past five years. Never one to be left out Ewan too sat and passed his Google Adwords exam in his first week and is now itching to get out on the road seeing customers.

We are excited to welcome these two to the Aqueous team and please feel free to wish them a warm welcome in the comments below.