417 Marketing Blog

What Is Google RankBrain?

If I only had a brain! Like the Scarecrow in the The Wizard of Oz, Google’s bot has finally received a brain! A brain of sorts, anyway. On October 26th, Google announced the newest piece of their influential algorithm: RankBrain. Although the system has been right under our noses for months now, fully live and global, its existence was hidden until last week. Like all signals used by Google’s algorithm, RankBrain will influence how the search engine determines where a webpage should rank on a results page. Utilizing artificial intelligence and machine learning, RankBrain appears to give Google yet another leg up on the competition. So, what is Google RankBrain? More importantly, how will it affect the world of SEO?
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New Penguin Algorithm Will Be in Real Time

Cross your fingers, folks—Santa might be giving us a new Penguin algorithm for Christmas! Yesterday at SMX East, a search marketing conference and expo, Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes stated that the next Penguin refresh will be released in the “foreseeable future.” He added that he hopes it will arrive by the end of the year and that the algorithm will be in real time. So can we expect a new Penguin perched beneath the Christmas tree or stuffed into our stockings? It’s hard to say, but we do know that a real-time Penguin algorithm could have a major impact on the world of SEO.

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Removing Referral Spam in Google Analytics

Twelve times a year, once a month, like clockwork, we send our clients SEO reports. Each of these reports serves a different purpose, and one of them is devoted to showing clients trends for different traffic metrics, such as sessions, page views, average session duration, bounce rate, referrals from search engines, and more. However, in order to send accurate data, we have to filter out referral spam (also known as referrer spam). This useless data can cloud your site analytics, making it difficult for you to spot the truth amongst so much pseudo traffic. If accurate reporting is important to you (and I think it’s safe to assume it is!), removing referral spam in Google Analytics is absolutely essential.
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Warning from Google About Hiding CSS and JavaScript Files via Robots.txt

Any webmaster worth his salt will sit up and take notice when Google issues a warning via Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools). So it’s no surprise that when Google did just that last week, some webmasters went into a tailspin. The alert warned webmasters who were blocking the CSS and JavaScript on their websites via robots.txt that this issue could cripple their site’s ranking. Luckily, we are happy to report that the problem can easily be resolved with a little knowledge and knowhow. So if the e-mail below pops up in your inbox, don’t sweat it! We can help you keep your cool, even in this sweltering summer heat.
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EU Antitrust Case Against Google

In a shocking move from across the pond, France and the European Commission may attempt to force the king of the Interwebs (i.e., Google) to give up his crown jewels (i.e., the all-important search algorithm). The decision to bring antitrust charges against Google would echo a similar attempt by the EU against Microsoft, and it would intimate that the EU believes Google has violated Europe’s antitrust laws by unfairly favoring its own properties in search results. Although anticipated by many, if this development succeeds, it could provoke a far-reaching, game-changing, and downright crazy effect. Some even say that France could force Google to give up its algorithm! I know, I know . . . But before we descend into SEO chaos, let’s learn a little more about the EU antitrust case against Google.

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Google URL Update for April 2015

Unlike your home address, which says nothing about you or your family, a thoughtful and well-formed webpage address (also known as a URL) typically describes something about the webpage itself. It can describe the subject of the page or perhaps hint at the page’s location within the overall website. To emphasize this purpose, Google updated the algorithms that control the display of URLs in mobile search results on April 16, 2015. Let’s learn a little more about this Google URL update . . .
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Google Mobile Algorithm Update

These days, you can’t assume that all Internet users are sitting at a desk and looking at a desktop monitor. They might be wandering the aisles of a grocery store, sitting in a dentist’s waiting room, or preparing to board a plane. In fact, eighty percent of Internet users own a smart phone (source). To accommodate these on-the-go users, who grow in number every day, webmasters create mobile-friendly websites. But now, Google has announced that it wants to make mobile-friendly content even friendlier. Starting on April 21, Google’s algorithm will change, expanding its use of mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal to improve the search engine experience for mobile users. Let’s learn a bit more about the upcoming Google mobile algorithm update . . .

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What Is Direct Traffic?

In everyday life, traffic is dreaded and despised. In the world of SEO, it’s a sign of success! When you first dip your toe into SEO, you’ll hear a lot about traffic: web traffic, organic traffic, direct traffic, types of traffic, how to drive traffic to your site . . . Unfortunately, it can be difficult to understand what some of these terms mean. For example, what is direct traffic? If you search on Google, you might find this extremely clear definition (source):

“Source exactly matches Direct AND
Medium exactly matches (not set)
OR
Medium exactly matches (none)”

Yikes! Google also describes direct traffic in this way: “Users that typed your URL directly into their browser, or who had bookmarked your site” (source). Neither of these definitions is particularly helpful to someone who is new to the concept, so today we’re jumping behind the wheel and driving straight into the gridlock. Our goal? To seek out and clarify the definition of direct traffic . . .
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Are One-Page Websites a Good Idea?

Most websites grow like trees: there is the trunk (the homepage) that extends into several branches (subpages), and those branches veer off into smaller branches and leaves (even more subpages). Climbing these tree-like websites can be difficult, as users must navigate their way through pages and pages of information to get to their chosen destination . . . In more recent years, however, designers have begun creating gorgeous single-page designs that feature innovative transitions and beautiful graphics. Parallax designs are a common example. If a traditional multi-page website is a tree, a modern one-page website is a flower blossom: one large, beautiful, and comprehensive page. By simply scrolling, users can navigate the content of the website. Some websites even “bloom” with new content and graphics as the user scrolls down.

However, despite these websites’ popularity and ease of use, some question the viability of SEO on a one-page site. Are one-page websites a good idea? Or are they simply trendy?

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What Are Alt Tags?

If your friend couldn’t see a beautiful image, what would you do? You would describe it to her, of course. Using words, precise and potent words, you would describe the subjects, the setting, the colors, the mood . . . This is why the alt attribute (more commonly known as the “alt tag”) exists. For without alt tags, without words and descriptions, how would we tell someone who is blind about an image on a website? Similarly, how would we communicate the contents of our online images to search engines? It would be impossible without words. But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start by answering a very basic question: what are alt tags? 

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