How to Remove Information from Google Search Results

How to Remove Information from Google Search Results

Information is timeless. We live in a world where data never goes away. Years ago, something hit the local newspaper, it was popular for a few days, and then it was gone.

Today, if you make one wrong move, it can cause a huge ripple in your business.

There are many reasons you’d want to remove information from Google. If there’s incorrect, problematic, or outdated info about you or your business online, it can harm your site’s performance and hurt your reputation.

In this article, I’ll cover everything you need to know so you can manually remove information from Google; instead of waiting for them to do it for you.

When You Should Remove Information From Google Searches

You might find that, for whatever reason, there’s information on Google about you that doesn’t belong there. There are a few different reasons why this can happen, and most of them are harmless.

It’s still important that you get that info off the internet, so no one gets the wrong idea.

Here are four possible situations that may apply to you. If you find that any of these resonate, you’ll want to get this data off Google as soon as possible.

Penalizing Information Removal From Google

Many question whether or not Google penalizes you for certain things like bad links, keyword stuffing, and shady black hat strategies. But the fact that high-quality content always outranks its competitors is proof that it’s essential to follow white hat strategies.

Even if you didn’t mean to, you might have links from sites dedicated to building links or pieces of content that are less than “desirable.” If that’s the case, you’ll want to remove or replace them.

As for low-quality links from spammy or unrelated sites, you’ll want Google to exempt those, and I cover that in more detail below. Having too many “bad” links will tell Google that you’re using black or gray hat linking strategies, and you may get penalized for it.

Outdated Information Removal From Google

Times change, we change, and information changes. Perhaps you used to write about pop culture several years ago and ended up ranking a ton of high-quality articles within the niche.

Now, you’re trying to get noticed as a digital marketer, but every time people look you up on Google, your old content about celebrity gossip keeps taking over.

While this isn’t necessarily a “problem,” it’s outdated info that no longer applies to you. It doesn’t display who you currently are, what you represent, and what you want people to know about you.

Some examples aren’t even as complicated as that. Perhaps you own a restaurant, and a popular site that displays menus of restaurants has an outdated version of your menu on their site.

As a result, people keep calling or coming into your business expecting something only to be disappointed when you don’t have that item that was on your online menu.

Instead of having to explain yourself over and over, you can get that menu taken down from Google and replaced with the updated version.

Misinformation

In some cases, the information isn’t outdated; it’s simply wrong. This can happen for a variety of reasons.

Maybe a business database is posting the wrong hours of operation for you, so people keep getting frustrated when they can’t reach you because you’re closed.

There’s also a lot of distrust in data these days, so it’s even possible that a news network or online outlet has posted incorrect information about you. While it might not be damaging, you may still want to remove it because it’s not correct.

Potentially Harmful Information

The worst-case scenario is that there is harmful and sensitive information about you online. You might have a news story by a local news network with your name and photo on it, or your personal information was somehow leaked online.

Even though the story was six years ago, each time someone tries to look you up, they find this information.

Unfortunately, information like that sticks around, but sometimes it’s wrong or slanderous. If that’s the case, you might be able to get it removed.

Maybe a competitor is spreading false information or even stealing content from you. If you think these types of things don’t happen, think again.

Regardless of your reason, learning how to remove information from Google is possible but it takes a bit of work.

Ways to Remove Information From Google Searches

Before I even start with how to remove information, we need to learn what we’re removing and if it’s worth it.

The first thing you’ll want to do is perform a check on your business and see what pops up.

If I type Neil Patel Digital into Google, I can see that the first few results are business pages and stories from the blog.

Great!

As we move down, I see Glassdoor reviews about working for Neil Patel Digital, and they’re mostly positive, which is also good. Even as I move further down the page and onto the next page, everything checks out fine for the most part.

Next, we’ll want to check image results. The images I see apply, make sense for the brand, and shine a positive light on the business. All is well. But, this might not be the case for you.

Let’s look at six different ways you can remove or change incorrect information on Google.

Disavow Request

Disavowing a link is when you tell Google not to consider the link when crawling your site. You’re probably thinking, “why would I ever want to do that?”

You want to do this when you have low-quality links on your site for whatever reason. Maybe you hired an agency that didn’t understand linking or you have some outdated links from old school strategies.

Either way, you’ll want to use Google’s Disavow feature to exempt that link, so Google doesn’t penalize you for low-quality linking.

Now, according to some experts, the disavow tool isn’t necessary because Google ignores low-quality links anyway. They don’t necessarily penalize, so they don’t even bother with them.

But others believe Google still penalizes users for low-quality links because the algorithm does this automatically.

This should be your last resort if you think your traffic has flatlined and you have exhausted all other options.

So, how do you do it?

First, you need to find the bad links. If this sounds like a lot of work, it’s because it is. Thankfully, we have tools to help us do it. I recommend SEMRush’s Backlink Audit tool where they offer temporary access with a free trial if you don’t have an account.

You’ll go into the dashboard, go to backlink audit, and search by root domain.

Depending on how large your site is, you should get your results in about 10 minutes.

SEMRush will label how toxic each link is and you can export a file with all the bad ones, upload them, and begin to disavow them using the tool in the search console.

Copyright Information Removal From Google Request

If you own rights to intellectual material, it’s against Google’s terms of service for someone else to take that information and post it on their site. It’s also against the TOS for them to claim ownership of something that isn’t theirs.

This policy can apply to some of the following:

  • Plagiarized blog posts
  • Copyrighted business processes
  • Product information and data
  • Patented products and services

To do this you’ll go to the Legal Help section under removing content from Google. You’ll choose which product the request relates to and you’ll choose the specific issue from there.

You can report malware, remove personally identifiable information, intellectual property, and more.

Overall, the process seems very simple and Google even says that they investigate and remove any copyright infringement, counterfeit, or trademark issues within six hours.

Replace Poor Content With Quality Content

Starting with the Google Panda algorithm update in 2011, the search engine has placed more emphasis on accurate and quality information. They’re trying to keep subpar info from reaching users and they continue to update the platform, which makes the quality of your content more and more important.

How do we determine what is or isn’t poor content?

Like everything else, Google lays it out for us!

Here’s a quick rundown of content you might want to replace:

  • Content with ads featuring grotesque images
  • Content lacking a direct audience
  • Content lacking purpose
  • When no information about the creator is present
  • Unmaintained websites
  • Content promoting hate
  • Content promoting harm
  • Content from creators with poor reputations
  • Misleading content

The next question is, what should that content be replaced with? Google answers that for us as well.

Your content should be useful, informative, valuable, credible, engaging. It should also display expertise, authority, and trust.

Go over to your site and find content that consistently underperforms, doesn’t attract links, and doesn’t convert. This is content you might want to replace altogether.

If you have some content that doesn’t rank but still gets some traffic, it might need a refresh. Update the information and make sure that everything still applies in the current space.

Update Metadata

Your metadata is the information displayed when you pop up on Google. When pages perform for a long period, you might want to update this info because the original data may no longer apply.

The method you use for doing this will depend on what site-building platform you use, but most of them make it incredibly simple.

For example, in WordPress, you’ll have to install a plugin like Yoast. Once you’ve done that, you’ll just go to the page or post tab on the left, scroll down, and update the snippet.

It may take a few days for Google to crawl the site again but once they do, you’ll have your updated metadata.

Google Displays the Wrong Metadata

One of the most frustrating things is when Google refuses to display the correct meta descriptions. Even if you write them properly and update the correct fields, Google sometimes takes a snippet from your site anyway.

There are a few reasons why this can happen:

  • Your source code is wrong
  • The cache is outdated
  • They simply ignored it

Usually, fixing your source code to include one description meta tag will fix that problem. If that doesn’t work, try updating your cache using the method below.

Use Tools to Speed Up Google’s Cache of Your Site

As previously mentioned, Google doesn’t always apply your changes right away. If you find that they’re taking excessively long and you don’t want to wait, there are some things you can do manually.

First, you can request indexing by going into your Google Search Console.

Choose your website from the search property and expand the “coverage” section. Once you’ve done that you should see your “last crawl” date.

Click “test live URL” and if everything checks out OK, it’ll ask you if the page has changed and allow you to request indexing. This will speed up the process and ensure that only the most updated and accurate information is displayed on Google.

Conclusion

This all might seem a bit intimidating, but it’s not as hard as it looks.

Start by performing a simple audit. When you type your business or name into Google, what do you get? If it’s not good, follow some of the steps to remove that information from Google.

Next, perform an audit on your site. Find content and pages that are underperforming and see if any of the reasons above are the culprit. You can also hire my SEO team to do this for you.

Doing this may improve your reputation and your SEO, which will ultimately result in more money in your pocket.

Have you ever found anything severely harmful to your business online? If so, what was it?

What Scraping & Analyzing 1.1 Million Search Results Taught Us About The Way Google Ranks Your Content in 2019

What Scraping & Analyzing 1.1 Million Search Results Taught Us About The Way Google Ranks Your Content in 2019

If the scientific community took a deep look into the SEO industry, they’d probably laugh so hard that a couple of them would probably die from a stroke.

Despite the fact that the industry is maturing at this point. Most SEO rules are merely based on anecdotal evidence.

… or theories some well followed guru came up with based on a 6 years old Matt Cutts’ tweet.

So we wanted to do what we can to try to level things up and bring actual data to the table, especially after the recent batch of huge updates that came to Google’s core algorithm.

Be kind, this is our first shot at it but we have been building a custom crawler for this post just to analyze 1.1 million search results and share our findings here (wow, just writing this, I can tell this made a looot of business sense).

one part of the custom crawler we built for this post

Here’s a summary of what we’ve learned:

  • The top position is most likely to be the most relevant result. If there is an obvious result (like a brand), Google will show it, even if it goes against all other ranking factors and SEO rules.
  • For less obvious results (i.e. non-branded keyword searches) Featured Snippets are taking over. 50-65% of all number one spots are dominated by a Featured Snippets.
  • In other words, this is the area where most SEO competition happens. Google is heading towards more immediate answers and fewer clicks on SERPs.
  • Because of these 2 things, lot of the actual SEO competition happens at the second and third place nowadays.
  • Backlinks, measured by the number of referring domains to a URL are still the most strongly correlated factor for SEO success.
  • Some of the popular link authority metrics like Ahrefs Rank or Domain Rating have shown to be less correlated in our study than we expected.
  • Keywords matter. Both the number of keywords in the content and keyword density. Keywords in URL proved somewhat relevant. Keywords in metas, h1 and title tags showed much stronger correlations.
  • While longer content does correlate with higher ranks, it’s sensible to think the length is not the factor – rather it provides a room for more keywords to be inserted at a non-spammy density.
  • It’s better to optimize for the parent topic (highest volume keyword the top result ranks for) than the actual keyword it covers. All high ranked results dominated the “parent topic” over the keyword they ranked for.
  • HTTPS is now a must to rank. No news here, Google made it clear already.
  • Some of the SEO hearsay proved completely invalid. For example, the rumor that Google treats high volume keywords differently or that it holds a preference for content with embed YouTube over other video platforms.
  • Some well-established beliefs might just be a result of bad data science in previous studies. For example, the length of the URL being a strong ranking factor.
  • All first page results show a high average score (over 90%) for Google’s Lighthouse Audits (SEO), but no link was found between higher scores and top ranks.
  • Page Speed seems to help, but not as much as expected. You should want your pages to load fast, for various other reasons anyway.
  • Needs further study: Some results on page two mimic the metrics of the top results on page one – there seems to be a thin line between doing everything right and appearing spammy.

Keep reading to learn more details about the findings …

About This Study

In short, for this study, we pulled out 120,000 random keywords from Google Keyword Planner, half of which we made sure get at least 1000 searches a month.

We then got top 10 SERP results for each and pulled additional data from Ahrefs (such as domain rating), Google APIs and our own custom-built crawlers.

Overall, we ended with quite a rich dataset of some 1.1 million SERP results. The details of how this study was done and example of data we worked with can be found here.

This is the tech stack we used to gather the data

Existing Studies, What’s Out There

Naturally, before getting started with this we had a look at what studies have been done in the past. Surprisingly, not so much.

What’s done, either comes out as a study released by one of the SEO data vendors like Ahrefs (who are doing a great job) or a third party analysis of the data donated by vendors, such as this 2016 study by Backlinko, which served as our inspiration for this piece but felt a little outdated given the massive algorithm changes we have had in 2018 and 2019.

Then you have something like Moz’s annual survey of SEO pros, where they report their day-to-day experience. All of these we found valuable to help us get started.

The rest of what you find is based on hearsay, anecdotal evidence, analysis of Matt Cutts’ past blog posts and tweets and recycled findings from the past studies.

Obviously, we were excited to do this.

Limitations and Challenges of Our Study

It was quite an eye-opening experience working with so many data points and we ran into many challenges.

Those were some tricky things that would get results that seemed perfectly fine but were actually invalid or unreliable. The eye-opening part was that a great deal of what we know about SEO may come from such results.

For example, when dealing with such a large set of random keyword data (100,000 in this case) you are going to get a lot of branded keywords there.

That means comparing the results of the first rank with the rest will yield very different results as with branded keywords Google won’t care much about the small SEO factors like HTTPS or page speed when there’s one obvious answer to the query.

As a result, the average of rank one stats will often look very different to everything that ranks below.

This is something that has also shown up in other people’s case studies like Ahrefs or Backlinko. Often the effectiveness of SEO can be seen on the aggregate data from rank two and three results.

Or another example – a great deal has been written about how shorter URLs lead to better ranking and it’s been backed by past studies.

Well, if you work with aggregate results and diverse keywords, it’s more likely the higher ranks will be for the actual homepages, without a suffix, because they’re relevant to specific keywords and would rank for the query anyway, not because they have a short URL.

In other words, for many keywords, you’re more likely to find something like www.website.com among the higher ranks while something like www.website.com/top-ten-something yielding a shorter average length.

We’ve done our best to filter a lot of such statistical noise out.

OK, so here are the actual findings….

#1 It’s still worth fighting for the #1 Spot

Ever heard of Pareto Rule? It’s the idea that a great majority of results in any area come from the “vital few” – many internet blogs have written about it.

Well, first of all, Pareto was an economist and the Pareto Rule is an economic concept. And the world of business and economics seems to be dominated by this rule.

For example, 99% of apps in the mobile app stores make no or little money while all the billions go to the top 1%. Or 95% of retail securities market investors barely break even.

Organic Traffic And Google Search Rank

On average top result gets the 40% of aggregate organic traffic. For keywords that matter (i.e. >1000 searches a month) the figure goes up to 47%.

It’s the same with SEO. The number one ranks dominate the market leaving the rest pretty much in the dust.

That is not only due to the fact that the #1 result is #1 for the keyword we looked at. It is also because the #1 result ends up ranking for way more keywords on average.

And its #1 ranking makes it gain more organic links which reinforces its position. It’s a virtuous circle.

From time to time I come across some “alternative facts” and SEO ideas like that you should aim for the spot number two or three in an assumption that most people skip the first result in distrust.

Looking at the organic traffic we obtained from Ahrefs, it doesn’t seem to be the case.

Conclusion: It’s worth fighting for the #1 spot when you are on the first page for a keyword. Often moreso than battling for new keywords if you have a fighting chance.

Overall, 46% of the top positions in our study were occupied by a SERP feature. For keywords that get a decent amount of searches, the figure was slightly higher at about 48%.

Serp Feature Example

If you’re an SEO, this is not the most relevant figure.

Basically, with branded keywords, there’s no need for a SERP feature if searching it can yield a very specific result such as a particular Amazon page.

So, after we stripped the results of likely branded queries, the results jumped to 65.5%.

That is a lot more than the 12.29% Ahrefs found in mid 2017 even considering a healthy margin of error.

In other words, for non-branded keywords, the number one rank is getting replaced by an immediate answer.

Featured Snipped SERP Feature In Search Results

What this means is that there’s a clear shift towards Google monopolizing the traffic and its users may end up getting immediate answers, never clicking on the links and reducing the overall volume of organic traffic over time.

Our advice here is to optimize your page so you end up in one of those SERP features.

Hubspot did a case study on this and showed that, for large queries, when they  did appear in the featured snippets, their page was getting a higher CTR than when they did not.

Ideally, you’d want to occupy the second rank as well as optimize towards attracting traffic in the new SERP feature dominated world. For example, by having a strong title.

Conclusion: We are heading towards featured snippets dominated search results and there is nothing you can do about it. Don’t just optimize with an aim to become one, aim to be the first “classic” organic result as well.

#3 HTTPS Matters, But Relevance Beats it

There’s nothing new here, Google has been pushing for HTTPS for quite a while. There’s been a threat of losing ranks and Chrome will literally call your site insecure if you don’t have an active SSL certificate.

So far, well over 90% of the page one results already have HTTPS which shows most sites have now transitioned to SSL and Google is rewarding them for it.

The #1 ranking, however, has a lower correlation most likely due to that relevance factor we mentioned earlier.

That’s simply because if you search something like “child support center” from an IP in Ohio, Google will place the website of the local child support center at the top of the page, regardless of whether they have an SSL certificate or not.

For such queries, we found out that neither HTTPS nor any other SEO factors play a huge role.

Conclusion: Secure your site with HTTPS if you haven’t done it yet. Whatever the results of this study, Google made their direction clear and you will probably suffer the consequences if you delay this more.

There’s no news here. Backlinks remain the most important ranking factor.

We measured the total number of referring domains pointing to the URL and that yielded the highest correlations with top ranks.

At this point, we can only talk about quantity and IP diversity being a factor. (I believe Ahrefs has done some more extensive research into backlink profiles, but I couldn’t find it again).

Number Of Referring Domains And Google Search Rank

Chart: While the average number of backlinks per SERP changed depending on the dataset (high-volume keywords vs. all, includes branded vs. non-branded) the ratio remained the same for all the analyses we performed.

Right now I tend to believe, that when SEOs talk about factors like length of content or presence of an image they may not be factors Google considers at all, but simply happen to correlate with a higher quality content that gets linked to.

We’ve looked at other popular metrics too, like Ahrefs Rank and found no correlation. Domain Rating seemed to be somewhat relevant.

Conclusion: Spend more time building content that gets linked to, instead of reading all those SEO guides and articles.

#5 URL Length and Keywords in URL

The current belief in the SEO industry is that the length of the URL impacts the rank. The previous studies have also correlated higher search ranks with exact match of the keyword in the URL.

URL Suffix Length And Google Search Rank

We also found the same correlations but were suspicious about it. It’s just logical that the higher you go in the search ranks the shorter the URL is going to be as you’ll be getting more results for the homepage with no suffix, and short category pages.

When using a large sample of keywords, a few of such results will dramatically impact the average length.

With the presence of keywords, it’s a slightly different story. Take a look at two URL examples below.

  • www.mywebsite.com/protein-bars-vegan-athletes
  • www.mywebsite.com/vegan-protein/

Let’s say you want to rank for a keyword “vegan protein bars.” The standard advice is to use a suffix like the latter example, i.e. /vegan-protein/.

When looking for an exact match in the URL suffix, in general, we found no correlation.

If we included the root domain, the top few would stand out with higher numbers so it’s sensible to assume the keywords in the root domains (or subdomains) seem to be somewhat relevant despite what Google says.

Now let’s say the keyword we look at is “vegan protein bars.” When we tokenized the keyword as follows “vegan,” “protein,” “bar” and simply counted the occurrence of these we found a much stronger correlation.

With this method, the first, longer URL would be more likely found higher in the search ranks.

Conclusion: I think URL length and keywords in it bear much smaller significance than generally believed. Even with some correlations, looking at all the results we’ve got the case isn’t that convincing.

It might, however, be a good practice to keep it short and concise, but long enough to feature all the important words in high-volume keywords you want to rank for.

#6 Keywords in Meta, Title Tags, H1 Tags, etc.

We managed to crawl 90% of the entire 1.1 million URLs dataset (the other 10% blocked our request or somehow weren’t accessible for crawlers).

We found a much stronger correlation for keywords in meta descriptions, H1 and Title tags than we did in the URL analysis. In fact, we can take it for a fact that Google looks at these, as their Lighthouse audit tool makes it relatively clear that they matter.

In each case, there was a quite solid correlation for the keyword we got the ranks for, but even stronger for the parent topic.

Keywords In H1 And Google Rank

In fact, parent topic keywords (the highest volume keyword the top result ranks for – read more about this metric here) were as much as twice more likely to show up in these properties.

This encouraged us to look more at the parent topic when looking at keyword presence for the next tests to see just how valuable it is for SEO’s.

One thing that I noticed looking at the actual list of Parent topics though is that they are often shorter tail versions of the keyword we were analyzing which explains why they often beat the actual keyword in correlation.

Conclusion: Optimize these properties for your keyword, but don’t forget to aim at the parent topic in the first place. We measured exact match in this analysis by the way.

#7 Content-Length and Content Keywords

There’s a strong belief in the SEO industry that longer content delivers higher ranks, or that Google somehow prefers long-form content.

There’s also a general belief that the optimal content length for SEO is at around 2000 words. While the study did find the correlation for content length, I tend to disagree with the general view.

First of all, any bigger study will have a hard time to precisely assess the length of content, unless done manually. Web scrapers tend to grab elements that don’t belong in the word count and inflate the numbers.

Things like comment sections, side navigation and author boxes.

Other times, the studies published on this topic would come from software companies that have their business in content marketing and thus they’ll be biased to tell you that longer content is better.

Content Length And Google Search Rank

For this study, we tried a bunch of different solutions and finally settled on one built around Readability library that powers the reader view in Firefox browser as it was by far the best at isolating content and removing navigation, comments etc.

While we found a beautiful correlation for word count the overall content length was shorter than generally believed once you strip much of the noise more generic scrappers tend to pick up.

But here’s the most exciting finding.

Keyword And Parent Topic Count : Google Search Rank

For top results, the keyword would appear on average 5.7 times in the readable text (e.g. article body) and 17.2 for parent topic. That’s about 3 times more when compared with rank 12 results.

Keyword count showed beautiful correlation too. On average, we found the keyword appeared in the readable text six times.

What’s more exciting is that the parent topic would appear in the readable part of the text almost 3 times as more often as the keyword we pulled the SERPs for.

Another interesting thing is that the density of keywords correlates too, in spite of higher ranks having a longer average word count.

Conclusion: What that leaves us with, is that it may not be the length of content that affects your SEO as much as it allows you to show Google more keywords while maintaining some credible density.

In other words, if you don’t optimize your content for keywords, the length of content won’t help much. (Unless it’s so good that the sheer quantity of its value makes more sites linking to you).

#8 Lighthouse Audit and PageSpeed Insights

Finally, we wanted to have a look at page speed and whatever else was accessible using Google’s API tools.

A great deal has been said about how speed is critical for SEO.

Some correlations were found in the past, but they usually came from sources like Alexa. I assume because it’s the cheapest and the easiest way to get some additional data.

We considered Alexa too, but many users report inaccurate data, so we turned to Google’s own PageSpeed Insights tool, a much costlier way to obtain data.

This tool gives you an overall score for a URL, looking at a number of factors, including speed, overall performance, SEO best practices, and mobile optimization.

A few months ago, it has been updated with the latest version of the Lighthouse audit tool. It contains an SEO audit which looks at the following points and scores them:

  • Document has a valid `rel=canonical`’
  • Document has a `

While we learned that on average over 90% of all pages comply with all points, there was no correlation between the high rank and higher scores. In fact, it seemed slightly inverted.

Then we looked at the page speed results. We looked at:

  • First Input Delay (FID): the time from when a user first interacts with your site to the time when the browser is able to respond.
  • First Contentful Paint (FCP): the time from navigation to the time when the browser renders the first bit of content from the DOM.
  • … and overall speed.

The results are that the top ranked pages are slightly faster, but most scored AVERAGE or SLOW overall, and AVERAGE for FID and FCP.

Conclusion: It seems to be a good practice to optimize with the updated PageSpeed Insights, but don’t expect miracles for your rankings and don’t sacrifice premium user experience and functionalities for a few points of pagespeed.

Obviously, there are numerous other reasons why you’d want your page to be fast – such as better conversions and lower bounce rates.

#9 Other Observations

All of the above are just the interesting or mention-worthy findings we obtained from the study. However, we looked at a bunch of things while conducting it.

For example, we wanted to see if the presence of a video in the content has any impact on SERPs or whether it’s true that Google prefers pages using YouTube to other video platforms.

None of these assumptions proved valid. At least not in our analysis.

We also assumed the rumor that Google runs a different algorithm for high-volume keywords is true, and ran each analysis on different volumes separately, only to find similar results every time.

Finally, the most interesting thing to see, and something Authority Hacker observed before too, often time the top results on page two seem to show similar metrics to actual top ranked pages.

For example, similar keyword density, Ahrefs Domain Rank, HTTPS prevalence, and so on. Yet, they’ve never made it to page one.

It seems, there are some credibility issues (maybe EAT?) or a thin line between doing things right and coming across as spammy exists in Google’s algorithm.

Final Conclusion

After looking at these results, I think a lot of people have the interest in making SEO seem overly complicated to maintain a guru status.

I do believe a lot of the little technicalities like keyword in url or page speed are important for extremely competitive queries where 1% advantages can make the difference.

But in most cases, they are not as impactful as most people think.

The study has proved once again that Google does a great job at establishing relevance and when there’s a clear choice it pays little attention to the technical aspects of SEO.

You could already observe this in Backlinko’s study from 2016 – notice how the first rank always shows lower scores in most charts.

For all the content where SEO does play a role, I think the answer is straightforward. Do your keyword research, build a unique, highly-valuable piece of content and promote it so you get links.

Have a clean site both from the technical perspective and user experience perspective and you should be good to go.

It gets a bit more challenging when your sites become very large and you need to organise content in a logical way.

But once again, this does not apply to most site owners.

People tend to believe Google is deploying some overly sophisticated NLP and AI algorithms to establish which pages to push higher and which to penalize.

I rather think it does a great job at collecting, sorting and organizing incredible amounts of very basic data (like keywords occurences and links), finding patterns in it and drawing conclusions.

So I’d focus on those simple things.

But that’s my personal opinion based on what I know about the current state of NLP and AI technologies – they’re way more primitive than people think they are.

The results from this study have only solidified this opinion.

Here’s the link to our research methods in case you want more details, or would like to replicate this study.

How to Improve Local SEO Results When Using a Digital Marketing Agency

How to Improve Local SEO Results When Using a Digital Marketing Agency

Written by Zac Johnson

Running a business can be very rewarding and exciting, but there are also many challenges that you have to try to overcome. One of these barriers is the stiff level of competition you face, no matter what industry you are in. If you want to be able to compete effectively with rivals, you have to ensure you have a solid marketing strategy in place and that the solutions you use actually work.

Unfortunately, just ‘creating content’ is never going to get you there. To rank in Google, your site will need powerful backlinks to improve the Domain Authority and Page Authority rankings of your site. Without these in place, your site will likely be found in Google for a wide range of long tail keywords, but likely somewhere between pages 10 to 100 — which is pretty much useless.

In order to effectively rank online and compete against already established sites, you will need to come up with a very creative and highly effective content creation and marketing plan. If you are a single person (or small) business, you will likely find that this task in itself could be a full time business, which is why many organizations outsource the process to a trustworthy digital marketing agency.

To help with the process of winning the war of online marketing and SEO, let’s cover some of the most important factors when trying to find a trustworthy digital marketing agency, and where/how you might want to focus your efforts and advertising dollars.

Local is Extremely Effective for Targeted Ads and SEO

When looking at the internet as a whole, there are more than a billion active sites online — which means they are all creating new content all the time, getting new social shares/backlinks, and ranking in Google. If you want to compete on this global scale, be ready for some massive competition.

At the same time, many smaller and local businesses don’t have the funds or resources to compete at these levels. For this reason, they should focus heavily on their local SEO rankings, paid advertising and demographic audience.

Neon Ambition, an SEO in Austin, has been working with companies for years now on how to improve their local reach and targeting, while also explaining the importance of how to find a positive ROI with SEO marketing, which can have a pretty much limitless ad spend cap.

They recommended the following take place:

“Having worked with hundreds of clients on a local specific ad campaign, we understand not only how hard it can be for a local business to rank, but also for them to spend a limited budget and see results at the same time. We have found great success with building localized content then targeting and remarketing location audiences to come back to the site once again. By additional social media and occasionally backlinking to such articles and resources, we continue to see progressive SEO growth month after month, while not requiring small mom and pops to spend thousands of dollars per month in the process.”

When it comes to local SEO and handing your business off to a digital marketing agency, it’s also important to have some basic understanding of how SEO works for your own personal and business expertise. You will also want to look for the following badges and certifications, as they will give you a better indication on how efficient and trusted an ad agency might be.

A great article on this topic can be found on Forbes, which ranks the following three factors as key elements that should be used when trying to rank in Google, target audiences, and find a positive ROI with local online advertising.

A company’s rank in Google My Business (GMB) results can be boiled down to three distinct areas of focus:

  1. Relevance
  2. Distance
  3. Prominence

How to Use Content and Social Networks to Improve Rankings

As previously mentioned, if you want to rank in Google, you need to have a powerful website and/or blog with established backlinks. If you don’t have this in place, it’s something you can build up over time. However, at the moment, not all is lost.

Thanks to the power of social media, you can rank Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other social profile or local directories pretty fast and easy in Google. Since most of these sites are already trusted in the eyes of Google, it doesn’t take much to rank such inner profiles and pages on their site.

In that same Forbes article mentioned above, they highlight the following methods for relying on social media and local directories to improve site rankings and being found by your target audience.

  • Select a high-volume keyword phrase that has location intent. Typically, for an attorney, this will be “practice area” plus “city name.” For example, “personal injury lawyer Philadelphia.”
  • Create a page on your site targeting this phrase.
  • Include the phrase in your page title, headings, page copy, meta description and image file names.
  • Include your name, address and phone number on the page.
  • Include the phrase in your page permalink as such: example.com/city-name/target-keyword-phrase/

By following these simple tips, there is no reason why your brand shouldn’t be able to rank for all ten listings on the main page of Google for your personal brand or business name. It’s something I’ve been able to do for my “Zac Johnson” name for quite a while now.

Social media is out there and it’s free to use. So take advantage of it!

Quick Ideas and Tips to Improve Local SEO on Your Own

There are many advantages to using a digital marketing agency when trying to rank and promote your local business, especially if you have no idea where to start. But there are also many things you can do on your own time to help promote your site and grow it’s site rankings and power over time.

Here are some quick ideas and tips to get started.

  • Have a blog. This one is a no-brainer, as it will allow you to create content for your site and will also start ranking your site in Google for long tail keywords. Also remember to effectively promote each blog post, and don’t expect people to find them on their own.
  • Create visuals and infographics for social media. This is a great idea, as everyone is already on social media and if you have a new recipe or service coming out, if you can make a quick infographic or animated video, it’s much more likely to be seen and shared.
  • Contribute to expert round ups. Depending on your niche market and business, this one might work or it might not. Check out these expert roundup examples and you can learn more about this.
  • Guest blogging on other industry/local blogs. Again, this comes down to the process of creating content for your sited within your industry, and then gaining exposure and getting backlinks as a way of compensation for your time, expertise and articles.

It’s likely that your digital marketing agency will be handling a lot of this, but there is no reason why you couldn’t start working on some of this at the same time. If you end up securing some nice placements and start to get a good feeling for how local SEO and audience targeting works, it might be something that you want to bring in-house as well.

Finding the Best Local Ad Agency for Your Business

When going with any local ad agency or digital marketing firm, make sure you always do all of the necessary research. Also, try to stay out of a super long term contract. Most SEO campaigns and work can take anywhere from 3-9 months before you start seeing real results.

If you have any questions or comments, feel free to shoot me an email and I can help out with any questions you might have.