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Google’s Help Documents Aren’t Always Up To Date

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Google's Help Documents Aren't Always Up To Date


Google admits its help documents aren’t always up to date and says it’s worthwhile doing your own research on recommended best practices.

This topic is discussed during the latest episode of Google’s SEO & Devs web series on YouTube, which is all about whether official help documents can be trusted.

Martin Splitt of Google’s Developer Relations team, and Michael King, founder and managing director of iPullRank, get together to talk about how Google’s documentation can lead developers to not trust SEO professionals.

SEOs provide recommendations to developers based on the information in Google’s official documents.

Google aims to keep those documents accurate and trustworthy, but the information sometimes lags behind what’s actually working in SEO, and what’s no longer relevant.

A specific example they addressed is a situation that came up in 2019, when Google revealed it stopped supporting rel=”next” and rel=”prev” years before telling the search community.

That meant SEOs were telling developers to use pieces of code that were no longer relevant to Google Search.

Rather than making an official announcement about it, Google simply removed the documentation related to rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.

It wasn’t until Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller received a question about it on Twitter that anyone from the company told the search community about this change.

Some SEO professionals and developers may have come to that conclusion on their own after noticing Google understood pagination just fine without the use of rel=”next” and rel=”prev”.

That’s one example where doing your own research could help you learn how Google Search works, rather than relying solely on official documentation.

Splitt shares background information about this situation, and the difficult choices Google had to make when it came to communicating the changes to the search community.

Why Aren’t Google’s Help Documents Always Up To Date?

Google Search changes quickly, so Splitt cautions against looking at the company’s documentation as the single source of truth.

Regarding the rel=”next” and rel=”prev” situation, Splitt says:

“The docs are not always in phase. We’re doing our best to work with the teams and help them to keep their documentation updated, but it does every now and then happen in this case like a bunch of engineers in search quality figured out — ‘hey, hold on, we actually don’t really need the rel-next and rel-prev links anymore to figure out that there’s like a pagination going on. We can figure that out from other things on the page by themselves.’”

When it was discovered the code was no longer needed, Google’s engineers removed support for it.

Splitt explains the decision making process behind communicating this change to SEOs and developers.

“… What do you do? Do you either update the docs to just quietly remove that part because it no longer is relevant?

Or do you go like ‘Hey, by the way, this is no longer necessary. And truthfully speaking it hasn’t been necessary in the last six months.’

Knowing very well that people are reading the documentation, making recommendations based on it to other people, and then these people then invest work and time and money into making that happen.”

Splitt goes on to say the choice was either to remove the documentation and come clean about rel=”next” and rel=”prev” being obsolete, or keep the documents up knowing the code wasn’t necessary anymore.

“And the alternative would be to let it live there in the documentation, even though it’s wrong it doesn’t hurt.

So we went with the full frontal way of going like — ‘Okay, here’s the thing. This has been removed a while ago and we’re sorry about that, but now our docs are updated.’

And I think none of the choices are easy or necessarily perfectly good, but it’s just what happens. So I think we’re trying to keep the docs updated as much as possible.”

So there’s the story behind rel=”next” and rel=”prev” and why Google handled the situation the way it did.

The key takeaway from this story is to always be testing and doing your own research.

Figuring out what works on your own may be more reliable than Google’s help documents.

If you believe something isn’t necessary, even though Google recommends it, your instincts may be correct.

See the full video below:


Featured Image: Screenshot from YouTube.com/GoogleSearchCentral





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Rethinking Upsells & The Psychology of Opt-Ins vs. Opt-Outs

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Rethinking Upsells & The Psychology of Opt-Ins vs. Opt-Outs


Opt-in or opt-out?

Do sales increase if you present customers with a list of upsells to choose from?

If you make customers opt-out or deselect items, will you decrease buyer satisfaction?

Marketers will often tell you to always use opt-ins because opt-outs just upset customers.

But that isn’t always the case.

Psychology research suggests there’s a lot more nuance to these decisions. And the difference could be huge for customer loyalty, the customer lifecycle, and your bottom line.

Presenting Upsells To Buyers

While there are plenty of variations, ecommerce generally uses one of two methods:

Opt-In (Choosing Strategy):

Customers can choose what they’d like to buy from a list of upsells.

Screenshots from Amazon.ca, Domino’s, and UberEats, November 2021

Opt-Out (Rejection Strategy):

Customers must remove or reject unwanted items from their cart before purchasing.

Opt-Out (Rejection Strategy) Shopping Cart Upsell ExamplesScreenshots from Amazon.ca, iRobot, and Domino’s, November 2021

On the surface, these two tactics don’t seem all that different or complex, but research suggests the thought processes behind them are.

For example:

Question 1.

You’re building a petting zoo for your favorite hypothetical 5-year-old daughter to play in. Which animal baby will you put in it first?
a) Lambs
b) Kids (The baby goat kind.)
c) Chicks

Question 2.

You’re building a petting zoo for your favorite hypothetical 5-year-old daughter. Which one are you picking?
a) Poisonous Cobra snake
b) Black widow spiders
c) Piranhas

Question 3.

Your hypothetical daughter wants to turn the petting zoo into a Halloween zoo. Which animal are you replacing the cute animal with?
a) Poisonous Cobra snake
b) Black widow spiders
c) Piranhas

If the research holds (and I structured the questions right), you’ll likely find the first and third questions easier, faster, and a little more satisfying to answer than the second question.

Why?

The second question asks you to choose(+) a negative(-) option. There’s a mismatch.

In more dry language, researchers found that users (on a general population basis) make decisions faster and have less indecision when choosing (a positive action) desirable options (positive items) in a positive situation.

In a negative situation, we prefer to reject (a negative action) undesirable things (negative items).

Why?

Less indecision and interruption in the decision-making flow increases decision confidence.

Positive options or items require a choosing strategy while negative options require a rejection strategy.Chart/Angie Nikoleychuk

Why Action-Option Mismatch Matters

In the second question, there was a mismatch between the action and the item or result that threw you off guard. You were choosing(+) a negative(-) option in a relatively positive situation(+).

Just like your website.

And the effects can be long-lasting.

Research finds we’re usually more deliberate and careful when rejecting items. We pay more attention to our biases and attempt to be consistent.

It’s also important to note that when we reject a choice, we focus on the negative aspects of a product, service, brand, or individual rather than positive details that we would otherwise focus on when using a choosing strategy.

We also tend to engage in a bit of lying to ourselves. After we make a decision, we can reaffirm our choice and build our confidence in our decision by focusing on the negative traits.

“I’m delighted I didn’t choose the car that I originally wanted. The one I chose may not have all the features I wanted, but it’s much more affordable. It was a better choice.”

(In fun terms, this cognitive habit is sometimes referred to as our brains “synthesizing happiness.”)

Getting More Upsells

When we’re more satisfied with a purchase, we tend to be more loyal to that brand.

We’re more likely to buy again from the company, and we’re less likely to complain. (I know you know this but keep it in mind.)

Some research has argued that a pleasurable decision-making process, combined with achieving a goal (purchase), is independent of the consequences of a decision (the experience process).

So, even if a product ends up not being that great, it was still a positive experience. The user is more likely to return for other purchases.

If this is confusing, think of the buying process this way:

  1. Information gathering and discovery process: Top portion of the sales funnel.
  2. Shopping process: Includes browsing and information collecting.
  3. Decision process: Assessing, rejecting, or choosing an item or service.
  4. Buying process: From the shopping cart to the order confirmation.
  5. Experience process: Receiving and using the product or service itself.

The more congruency between these steps, the better the last step is, and the more likely your customer will return.

This concept has a considerable impact on ecommerce. Consider comparative websites, for example.

The Psychology Behind Gift-Giving Decisions

Research finds our decision-making preference may change when we’re selecting an item for someone else.

For example, we get more creative, rely on fewer biases, focus more on quality, and are more desirability-oriented when buying for others.

At the very least, we want to minimize the possibility of negative outcomes.

So, it makes sense that, when we’re buying for ourselves, we prefer rejection strategies (opt-out). We’re arming ourselves with information we need to feel better about our choices. We’re avoiding an undesirable outcome.

But when we buy for others, we prefer choosing strategies (opt-in).

Why? We focus on the positive attributes, the value we’re giving the other person, and reaping the most benefit from the situation.

In other words, we want to do good and look good.

What Does This Mean For Websites?

As mentioned earlier, this aspect of decision-making can be a big help when offering competitor comparisons.

Your site is hopefully a pleasant experience. Will you offer positive options to choose from or reject negatives? Opt-in to upsells or opt-out?

If you’re a retailer mainly offering holiday gifts, it may be more effective to present items or upsells consumers can add to their cart. However, if your customers mainly buy for themselves, you may want to test and opt-out or “remove” approach.

While these are general theories and they may not work for every audience, there is certainly enough research to justify a test.

They may even answer why you’re struggling to increase your Average Basket Size (ABS) or finding it difficult to convert when offering upsells.

More resources:


Featured Image: VectorMine/Shutterstock.com

Related And Referenced Research:

Higgins, E. T. (2000). Making a good decision: Value from fit. American Psychologist, 55(11), 1217–1230.

Heller, D., Levin, I. P., & Goransson, M. (2002). Selection of strategies for narrowing choice options: Antecedents and consequences. Organizational Behavior and Human Decision Processes, 89(2), 1194–1213.

Lu, J., Chen, Y., & Fang, Q. (2022). Promoting decision satisfaction: The effect of the decision target and strategy on process satisfaction. Journal of Business Research, 139, 1231–1239.

Higgins, E. T. (2002). How Self-Regulation Creates Distinct Values: The Case of Promotion and Prevention Decision Making. Journal of Consumer Psychology 12(3), 177–191.





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Top SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know in 2021

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Top SEO Trends Every Marketer Needs to Know in 2021


Search engine optimization can help companies significantly increase their online visibility and sales. What’s great about SEO is that you can learn how to do it yourself online and it won’t cost you a penny. However, it does take a lot of time to master search engine optimization. One of the most challenging thing about learning SEO is that it’s constantly evolving.

You always have to become familiar with new trends to retain or improve your rankings. Here are some of the most important trends that should play a role in your 2021 SEO strategy.

Follow the EAT Principle

The EAT framework was introduced by Google several years ago, but it’s now more important than ever to follow it because a huge amount of your traffic may depend on it. The EAT framework was conceived with the idea to provide Google users with better search results. It’s based on three different factors – expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

The main purpose of this framework is to give ranking advantages to websites with quality content. The first EAT factor is expertise, which you’re required to display in your content. Essentially, you have to display knowledge that’s at the same level or higher than your competitors to outrank them.

Being an expert in a certain field will allow you to craft useful content, but that’s only one piece of the puzzle. You also have to display authoritativeness. To do this, you have to secure links from authoritative websites and pages relevant to your industry. Even if your business gets mentioned on another site, it can positively impact your rankings.

Finally, trustworthiness is another major factor imperative in SEO strategies in 2021. Let’s say that you have a paper writing service that you want to promote online. It will be hard for you to attract new customers if your website isn’t trustworthy. Some of the ways you can display trust include providing users with an easy way to contact you, associating your web page with a physical location of your business, having a privacy policy, and switching your domain from HTTP to HTTPS.

Local SEO

With more businesses with an online presence than ever before, local SEO has become fundamental for reaching customers in your area. This is crucial for every business owner that has a company with a physical location. Although you should definitely optimize content, headers, meta descriptions, and tags to target local audiences, your main focus for a good local SEO strategy should be to create a Google My Business (GMB) listing.

When Google provides users with local results, their algorithm looks for companies with complete and accurate information. If you set up a Google My Business listing for your firm, you’ll be favored for local searches. Some of the most basic information you need to add to your GMB page includes your business address, opening hours, phone number, website address, and category.

It’s always a good idea to add numerous photos that clearly display your business, as well as the goods you provide. Encourage your customers to write reviews about your business on Google, as this plays a huge role in rankings. You can also build trust with consumers if you regularly respond to reviews that you get on your GMB page.

Voice Search

Alexa, Siri, and Cortana have become insanely popular ever since virtual assistants were first introduced. They allowed users to search for information online more easily, which heavily impacted common search queries. While most people usually only enter a few keywords in their queries when they’re typing, voice search is more about posing complete questions.

What this tells you about user behavior online is that many people are looking for an answer to a specific question. You can improve your Google rankings by including FAQ sections on various pages on your website. Research what are some of the most common questions consumers in your industry have and write useful answers.

Long-Tail Keywords

You can greatly increase your conversion rate if you optimize your content for long and specific keyword phrases called long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords are somewhat associated with voice search, but many consumers type them when they’re close to a point of purchase.

What’s great about these types of keyword phrases is that there’s less competition for them, which means you have a better chance of grabbing the first spot on search results pages. Although it won’t provide you with a substantial increase in traffic, optimizing for long-tail keywords will effectively help you turn visitors into leads. While your main objective with this approach should be to rank for long phrases, it also helps you achieve rankings for short keywords.

Summary

Every business owner should update their SEO strategy often. As technology evolves, so does user behavior on the internet. It’s common for strategies that yield good results to become significantly less effective after a few months. That’s why you should always stay up to date on the newest SEO trends.

Author’s Bio:

Charlie Svensson is a freelance writer and digital marketing specialist. Apart from writing articles for various online magazines and blogs, Charlie also likes to help college students with their essays. He currently works at my-assignment.help, offering his services to countless students in English speaking countries across the globe.



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How Does Google Search Use Synonyms?

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How Does Google Search Use Synonyms?


Google’s Search Advocate John Mueller explains how the search engine uses synonyms and whether there’s a human component to it.

Mueller discusses this topic when addressing a question submitted to the Google Search Central SEO office-hours hangout recorded on January 14.

The question asks how automated the process of understanding synonyms is, and if humans are involved in helping Google understand which words are related.

Further, the person who submitted the question notes that generic keywords sometimes bring up knowledge panels for major brands.

They give the example of “moving trucks” bringing up search results for the Budget truck rental company.

Mueller touches on each of these concerns in his response, which you can read below.

Google’s Understanding Of Synonyms Is All Automated

Google’s system of understanding synonyms is fully automated, Mueller confirms.

There are no humans manually writing code to teach Google’s algorithms which words mean the same thing as other words.

“As far as I know, the whole synonyms system is completely automated. It’s not something where someone is manually working on a spreadsheet of synonyms and saying, ‘well this is the same as this,’ because that would never really work out.

We see something along the lines of 10-15% of queries completely new every day. So it wouldn’t be possible for someone to keep up with this all the time.”

Mueller references a video from a conference in 2019 where Google Engineer Paul Haahr explains in more detail how the synonym system works.

The video contains real-world examples Google has come across where it got synonyms wrong and how its engineers learned from those mistakes.

“There is a video from one of the events that we did, I think like two or three years back now, where Paul Haahr, one of the engineers that works on the system, kind of presented some of the situations that we ran across with regards to synonyms, where we try to figure out like what are the synonyms here and some of the cases where we got things completely wrong.

And I thought that was really interesting to look at there. And if you’re interested around synonyms, and how google figures that out, I would definitely check that out.”

That leads to Mueller addressing the situation where generic keywords bring up search results for brand names. He says that’s likely something that Google’s algorithms learned automatically.

Mueller reiterates the automated system doesn’t get everything right, but searchers are always welcome to submit feedback.

“With regards to that generic switch between “moving truck” and Budget Truck Rental, that’s something where most likely we also learn that automatically. And some of these cases we get well, where things kind of work out, or essentially kind of make sense. And some of these we get wrong.

If you see cases where we get synonyms wrong then definitely send us feedback in the search results so that we can try to figure out what we can do to improve that.”

Hear Mueller’s full response in the video below:


Featured Image: Brasil Creativo/Shutterstock





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