The vertical lead generation programs for credit cards, auto insurance, mortgages and travel insurance will start winding down Tuesday, February 23.Google’s lead generation product known as Google Compare, will start sunsetting this week.
In an email sent to partners and acquired by Search Engine Land, the Google Compare Team told Compare partners on Monday night that the product will start to wind down on Tuesday, February 23, 2016. Google Compare will shut down completely in both the US and UK — the two markets where Compare is offered — one month later on March 23.
The email to Compare partners:
From: Google Compare Team
Subject: An Update on Google Compare
Beginning on February 23, 2016, we will start ramping down the Google Compare product, which is currently live in both the US and UK. We plan to terminate the service as of March 23, 2016. As you know, Google Compare (formerly Google Advisor in the U.S.) has been a specialized, standalone service that enables consumers to get quotes from a number of providers for financial products such as car and travel insurance, credit cards and mortgages.
Despite people turning to Google for financial services information, the Google Compare service itself hasn’t driven the success we hoped for. We greatly appreciate your partnership and understand that this decision will be disappointing to some. But after a lot of careful consideration, we’ve decided that focusing more intently on AdWords and future innovations will enable us to provide fresh, comprehensive answers to Google users, and to provide our financial services partners with the best return on investment.
We’re grateful for all the feedback that you have provided over the course of this product’s development, and we are looking forward to partnering with you to achieve greater success in the future.
We will work with you during this transition and beyond. Please reach out to your Google representative if you have any questions and to discuss the next steps.
The Google Compare Team
Google has confirmed the email’s authenticity.
The company only recently began rebuilding the Compare product from the ashes of the Advisor program in the US. The single piece left standing from that initial effort was the credit card offering — savings accounts, CDs and mortgages had all discontinued. Compare for Auto Insurance launched just last March, starting in California. Then Google relaunched Compare for Mortgage quotes in November with Zillow and Lending Tree among the launch partners. Both of those relaunches had limited roll outs. In the UK, Google Compare has been running since 2012 for car insurance, mortgage rates, credit cards and travel insurance.
A Google spokesperson told Search Engine Land that while searches on these queries remained high, the product didn’t get the traction it hoped for and revenue was minimal. That’s in part due to the limited availability of the products in both the US and the UK.
In the UK, the Compare product also came under scrutiny in 2014 by the Financial Conduct Authority, the UK financial services industry regulator, when comparison sites complained Google was competing unfairly by placing its own product at the top of the search results. However, any legal concerns did not play a role in the decision to close Compare, we’re told.
What’s next? Google says the focus will primarily be on AdWords and transitioning partners to standard ad products. However, it may still focus on the space and look at new product avenues.
While the move will come as a surprise to many outside the company, apparently internally this decision to terminate Compare is not coming as a shock. The Google spokesperson said the company will help Googlers currently working on Compare find new roles within the company.
Even though SEO is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby for Searchengineland provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.
When you start at a new company as the SEO specialist or pick up a new client, one thing everyone wants is to see quick results. The fact that SEO takes time can be a struggle as you try to show value while also satisfying your own desire to make an impact.
Here are a few SEO techniques that will let your colleagues or clients know you are the real deal, bringing value with your expertise.
1. Win With Featured Snippets
Winning a featured snippet spot can have a huge impact, bringing organic traffic to a page. Although getting featured in the quick answer box is not guaranteed, there is a pretty simple formula for optimizing your content for it.
Start by going to the Google Search Console to find rankings for queries that contain a question — you can do this by filtering for queries containing “how,” “what” or “why.”
Once you have a list of keyword phrases, check search volume and prioritize your list, focusing on the keywords with the highest search volume. If you do not currently rank for any question-related keywords, think of a simple question you can answer, and create the content to answer that question.
Increase your chances of being featured in the quick answer box by making on-page improvements:
- Provide a detailed answer in a bulleted or numbered format that specifically answers the question posed by the search query.
- Add a video to the page that answers the question (with transcription).
- Add additional information that adds more value to the page for the reader.
Once your content has been revised, submit it to be indexed, and share it on Google Plus, so that the changes are noticed quickly. To learn more about optimizing for featured snippets, check out this article by Eric Enge.
2. Optimize Existing Content
It is much easier to improve a strong existing page’s ranking a few spots in the SERPs than it is to get a new (or poorly ranking) page to show quick results.
Knowing that you see the biggest bumps in traffic when you get into the top three results, target content ranked in position 3 to 10. Improving bounce rates or building on pages that are converting can also be a great way to see big gains from a small time investment.
There are several ways to identify which pages to focus on:
- Going back to the Search Console, sort keywords by rank to find keywords ranked between 10 and 3.
- Looking in Google Analytics, find pages with a high bounce rate but decent traffic.
- Also in Google Analytics, find pages with high conversion rates. Check what keywords are driving traffic through Search Console, and focus on optimizing for those keywords.
What can you do to improve these pages and see results quickly? Here are some ideas
- Modifying the basic on-page ranking factors to improve search engine optimization.
- Find internal pages that are related to your target pages, and create new internal links from the related pages to the target pages.
- Share on Google Plus and submit to Google to be crawled.
Crowd Source Content For Quick Links
One way to quickly improve a page’s content (and possibly gain links) is by reaching out to influencers. Keep it simple by asking influencers to contribute to a page you are trying to improve.
For example, if you have a page you wrote about the best places to eat in Austin, you could reach out to food bloggers in Austin and ask them for their opinion on the best new restaurants.
Even more effective is to ask them if they have a blog post about those specific restaurants that you can link to. They will gladly give you content to link to while you get more content to add to your page.
Once the updates are made, let the influencers know by email and via Twitter. This can result in additional social shares and possibly links for the influencers. You can also use this technique when you are creating a brand-new page.
Optimizing For Search Intent
I often find pages ranking well for queries that do not fit the page. For example, I might see an article ranking for queries related to “finding influencers” that is really more focused on how to reach out to influencers. Fixing this will likely improve rank and lower bounce rate.
- If the page does not rank for other keywords, and the keywords currently driving traffic are strategic for your site, rewrite the article completely focusing on those keywords.
- If you want to maintain the article, you can add a section to better answer the query that it already ranks for.
- If the information that would match the search intent does not belong on the page, write a new page that answers the questions, and link to it from the ranking post with keyword-rich anchor text.
3. Improve Rank For Converting Pages
Look at Google Analytics to find the pages that are converting. Use Search Console to find the keywords driving traffic to that page. You can also look at paid campaigns to see top-converting keywords.
Focus on these keywords and pages to see quick results and really prove the value in SEO.
4. Find Competing Content
Check your site for several pieces of content on the same topic and combine the pages. Make sure to redirect URLs so that there is only one page.
5. Fixing 404 Errors
There are several tools that make it easy to find 404 errors. You can fix links by reaching out to site owners that have the broken links or redirect the broken URL to a live page.
While SEO is a long-term investment and can take time to show results, there are always a few things you can do to show quick value. I have included only included a few opportunities here, but there are many other techniques like using other sites to get content ranking quickly. What are some of your techniques to get quick results?
is a long-term investment, marketers often feel pressured to show progress quickly. Columnist Dan Bagby provides some ideas for quick wins that can show value while waiting for your longer-term initiatives to start gaining traction.
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[G o o d] Morning #digital friends! Not sure where we'd be without ☕️?. #didyouknow Neurofuse, one of the most popular nootropic formulations out there, was originally developed by Harvard students looking to gain an academic edge but not interested in the risks associated with prescription products. They built a safe and effective formula and recently released it publicly. Read the full article —>http://nextshark.com/9-reasons-elite-entrepreneurs-are-using-study-pills-to-crush-work-1/ #google #instadaily #instapic #instagood #guardianowldigital #louisville #coffee #coffeeaddicts #me #love #energy #awake #business #women #girlboss #marketing #professional #life #goodmorning #googlepartners #louisvilledigital #tech #technology #entrepreneur #seo #sem #keurig
To many startups, search engine optimization (SEO) is a task that sits on their company’s back burner. Yes, there’s an element of uncertainty with SEO (after all, Google doesn’t publicly reveal the factors they use to rank websites). But according to a new ranking-factor study, SEO doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. In fact, you can prioritize your SEO tasks based on what’s likely to give you the most bang for your buck.
With features to launch and customers to support, the idea of spending time fiddling with your title tags can seem like a fool’s errand. That’s especially true when there’s no guarantee that your hard work will result in a single additional visitor from Google. That’s one of the reasons that a recent study ranked SEO as the third most important marketing priority for startups (behind social media and content marketing).
Why do startups tend to shy away from SEO? From working with dozens of startups, I’ve found that founders hate the uncertainty that comes from SEO. Indeed, success with SEO can seem like throwing two dice and hoping you roll double sevens.
Backlinks, content and page speed are key
Backlinko recently teamed up with a handful of SEO software companies to evaluate the factors that are most important for success with SEO today. To do this, they analyzed one million Google search results.
Of the 20 potential ranking factors they looked at, five were revealed to be especially important. I’m going to deep-dive into these five important ranking factors, and show you how you can apply them to squeeze more juice out of your SEO efforts.
Content is king?
The study found that the most important ranking factor was number of different websites linking to your page.
This ranking factor is as old as Google itself.
Despite the fact that so-called “black hat SEOs” manipulate Google with phony links, it appears that this ranking factor remains an integral part of what makes Google tick.
This shouldn’t come as a big surprise. Google’s reliance on backlinks has taken it from two guys in a garage near Stanford to one of the most valuable companies on the planet. And today, Google’s worldwide search market share remains relatively stable. This makes it unlikely Google will completely remove backlinks from their algorithm. This data suggests that, at least for today, backlinks are still heavily relied upon by Big G.
You can prioritize your SEO tasks based on what’s likely to give you the most bang for your buck.
Another interesting wrinkle is that this finding flies in the face of what many SEO consultants recommend: Many SEO agencies preach a “quality over quantity” approach to link building.
While there’s no question certain backlinks provide more benefit than others (for example, a link from TechCrunch is significantly more powerful than a link from your average mommy blog), this study suggests that backlink quantity is also important.
This is an important lesson for founders and startup marketers to learn. As someone who does PR consulting for startups, I notice that many founders shoot for the moon with their link and PR aspirations. In other words, to many founders, it’s “CNN.com or bust.” This new data suggests that this approach may be a mistake. In fact, one of the chief reasons I took Polar to 40+ million pageviews is that I wasn’t overly picky about which sites we got mentions and links from.
If a site looked legit and wanted to cover us, I said, “Let’s do it.” That’s part of the reason I’ve landed 1,300 mentions over the last few years.
As you can see, a lot of these mentions were on major news sites. But the funny thing is that a good chunk of these major mentions came as a result of a smaller blog or niche news site writing about us. In fact, this is the exact strategy that Ryan Holiday recommends in his PR classic “Trust Me, I’m Lying.”
Not only are mentions from smaller sites beneficial for startups’ PR, but they can significantly boost your Google rankings, as well.
Slow loading site = SEO death
Backlinko’s new study also found a strong tie between site speed and Google rankings. Using site-loading-speed data from Alexa, they discovered that fast-loading websites significantly outperformed slow sites.
This finding shouldn’t come as a shock to anyone who follows SEO. Google has come out and said they use site speed as a “signal in our search ranking algorithms.” Because users hate slow-loading websites, Google doesn’t want to show them to their users.
Fortunately, taking your site from “tortoise” to “hare” is relatively simple. If you happen to use WordPress, there are no shortage of plug-ins that can boost your site’s loading time. Even if you don’t use WordPress, a few quick steps can typically move the needle for most websites:
- Upgrade your hosting: Cheap $5/month hosting plans like Bluehost aren’t bad, but their servers aren’t typically optimized for speed.
- Cut image file sizes: For most websites, images are the No. 1 factor that slow down a page. You can usually compress them or reduce their size without sacrificing much in the way of quality.
- Hire a coder: If you’re not a coder, hiring a pro to analyze your code with an eye on site speed can be a game changer. Most sites have at least some code bloat that can be easily cleaned up.
Long-form content wins the day
Backlinko also found that, when it comes to SEO, content may not be king, but it’s certainly queen. Specifically, their data revealed that long-form content tended to rank above shorter content.
According to their analysis, the average article on Google’s first page boasts 1,890 words.
Does this mean that Google has an inherent preference for long content? Maybe. The study authors pointed out that this finding was simply a correlation, and they couldn’t say for sure. But they hypothesized that Google would want to show their users through content that fully answers their query. In other words, long-form content.
However, it may be that longer content generates more shares (in the form of tweets, Facebook likes and backlinks). In fact, BuzzSumo found that longer content tended to generate more social shares.
Considering that shares can lead to higher rankings, long-form content may simply outperform short content in the share department, leading to higher Google rankings.
If you haven’t attempted to publish long-form content because you feel your audience doesn’t have the attention span for it, this finding may give you the impetus to at least give it a shot.
Adding focus to your content may improve rankings
Additionally, the study found that focused content outperformed content that attempted to cover several different topics. Using software called MarketMuse, each article in their database was scored for “topical authority.” A high score represents an article that covered a topic in-depth. A low score indicates that the article skimmed the surface of a given topic.
The authors guessed that Google would prefer comprehensive content. This is because of a fundamental shift in the way Google indexes content. In the last few years, Google has moved away from simply looking at the words on your page to actually understanding what your page is about. This is known as semantic search.
For example, before semantic search, if you Googled “who is the CEO of Starbucks”, Google would look for pages that contained the exact term “who is the CEO of Starbucks” on the page. And they would present 10 links to those pages.
Today, they know the actual answer, and present it to you.
It turns out that Google may prefer in-depth content, as it gives them a deeper understanding of your content. This study found that content rated as having high topical authority ranked above content with a poor rating.
The old writing adage “go an inch wide and a mile deep” may also now apply to SEO, as well.
Bounces aren’t just hurting conversions
This research also found a correlation between a low bounce rate and poor rankings in Google.
According to the study, Google may use bounce rate as a proxy measure of content quality. If someone searches for a keyword, clicks on your page and quickly leaves, it sends a message to Google that your page isn’t a good fit for that keyword.
On the other hand, if you stay on the site and browse through several different pages, it implies that that person had a great experience and enjoyed reading your content. That may push Google to show your page to more people.
While this finding is interesting, there are a few important caveats I should point out.
Also, being a correlation study, it’s impossible to say whether Google directly measures or uses bounce rate as a ranking signal. A high bounce rate may simply reflect content that isn’t very good.
Regardless, reducing your bounce rate certainly won’t result in lower rankings — and it can boost conversions, as well.