What Our Recent Audit Of Google Generative AI Results Revealed
We conducted an audit of the various content and websites that were served up in Google Generative AI results for a number of questions we posed via Google SGE and identified some commonalities among the content (content that was either shared directly in the results by Google or, indirectly, in the blog posts or website pages to which Google SGE linked in results.
As shown below, in addition to sharing content in Generative AI results, Google may serve up links to various websites below the content or in a carousel to the right of results. And, Google may even serve up an infographic!
EightCommonalities Among Content Or Websites Served Up In Google SGE Results:
Use of questions in page or post titles or in headers or sub-headers (H2, H3, etc.) on the page/post
Use of headers/sub-headers, in general, to break up content
Concise/short content (keep in mind content should still be actionable/provide enough detail to really answer someone’s question and allow them to take next steps)
Rows of space/white space to break up content
Infographics (keep in mind that Google doesn’t tend to like infographics from an SEO standpoint because they aren’t accessible; unless they are tagged on the back-end, a screen-reader used by those who are visually impaired can’t read them; if you decide to add more infographics to your site, be sure to use what’s known as “alt-tags” to make infographics accessible
Post/page title or header makes it obvious a list will follow, such as “3 Steps…” or “5 Actions To Take…”
Is It Possible To Prepare For SGE?
The answer to the above is a strong “yes,” and the above commonalities information should provide lots of insight to get you started with developing new, or revising existing, content to make it more likely to be of interest to Google SGE. Need more hands-on help with or advice about Google SGE Prep & Planning? Reach out to our team of SEO experts today!
The topic of this blog post wasn’t the one I planned to write about next. But, it’s particularly busy at Results Communications & Research, and that’s a good thing and blessing, right? It does mean, though, that the longer, more-detailed post topic I had on my radar will have to wait.
Right before posting this, I was faced with this challenge. I’ve been so busy helping clients with their paid SEO and organic SEO this spring and summer, I haven’t had the physical bandwidth to employ SEO tactics related to my own site that I encourage all my clients to implement — particularly the tactic I wrote about in my “Why It’s Time To Get Back To Internet and SEO Basics” blog post about being “fresh” by adding new content to, or updating existing content on your website.
So, I asked myself, “since I don’t have time to effectively write and post a really informative blog post, what small revisions can I make to my website to let Google know that my business, Results Communications & Research, is still alive & well? That we haven’t abandoned ship or shop? That we’re still open for business? That were not neglectful?
Small Website “Freshening-Ups” Support SEO
I landed on making a couple of simple tweaks. I recently had new, professional headshots taken. So, I added those to the About and Contact pages of my site, and wrote an image alt-tag for both of the photos. Alt-tags support being found on Google since Google will crawl and index such tags. They also make it clear to Google that your site is accessible to visually impaired individuals since alt-tags can be read by screen readers. It’s unknown if Google favors accessible sites over inaccessible ones, but Google does love sites that provide for a good user experience.
In addition to the above photo and tag additions, I added a new client name to the Google Nonprofit Ad Grant Services page of my site. And, I submitted all three revised pages of my site for indexing, using my Google Search Console account, so I and my site don’t have to wait for Google to find my revisions.
None of the above was a big lift, but it should support my site ranking well for relevant terms vs. it sliding as far as where in search results listings Google serves it up for desirable, high-volume search terms, known as keywords.
What small revisions can you make today to your site to support your SEO strategy?
Anyone who knows me well, knows I love watching cooking shows on Food Network, particularly ones where competitors have to combine ingredients that are given to them to make a dish that is appealing to both the tongues and the eyes of the particular show’s judges. Yeah, I’ll admit it, I’m watched pretty much every episode of “Beat Bobby Flay,” and countless episodes of “Chopped.”
So, what does food have to do with me, my company, and search engine optimization (SEO)? While my digital marketing agency isn’t just an SEO company, we’ve definitely gotten to be known, particularly in the last five years, for helping organizations (both for-profit and non-profit) in the Greater Boston area and beyond be found better and rank better on Google. Due to more than 10 years of being responsible for how websites rank in Google and other search engines, I’ve learned thru hands-on experience what combination of ingredients, i.e., what SEO tactics/activities, make for a winning SEO recipe!
Keyword Research: Your First and Most Important SEO Ingredient
I’ve given to, or shared with, Massachusetts chambers of commerce and SCORE chapters, as well as existing and prospective clients, a number of SEO presentations about the importance of keyword research. I’ve also written blog posts about it, and have a Word doc I’d be glad to share with you if you reach out to me to ask for it (hey, we don’t want to give out all the secret ingredients in our special SEO sauce too easily!) As we’ve shared in all the aforementioned documents and activities, keyword research ALWAYS needs to be a first step or ingredient in implementing an effective SEO strategy and recipe.
Even if you believe you already know what search terms (known as keywords) your various target audiences are entering into Google’s search engine to identify an organization or individual that offers the products, services, or solutions to problems you do, you should still make the time to confirm your intuitions about target audience’s search behaviors are accurate for these two key reasons:
you may be ranking well or trying to rank well for terms that target audiences are truly searching on, but are you missing out on terms that audiences are searching even more frequently on (high-volume search terms), and therefore, missing out on being found for desirable, relevant search terms because you don’t include those in your website content, page headers, meta tags, or other SEO real estate?
while you believed prior to keyword research completion that individuals were actively/regularly searching to identify an organization that offers the products, services, and solutions you do, your keyword research ends up indicating that the number of people entering relevant terms into Google is very low or negligible. The aforementioned scenario means all the SEO tactics in the world aren’t going to solve an immediate challenge of wanting and needing to generate more sales and leads for your organization since a “push” vs. “pull” strategy is warranted. You’re not going to drive a lot of “organic search” (search engine) traffic to your site, so traffic to your site will need to come from clicks on social media posts, display ads, links/banner ads on other external sites, e-blasts, and other marketing activities that put the idea of your products, services, and solutions in the minds of relevant target audiences who aren’t actively searching to find you.
Keyword research allows you to take a preliminary set of keywords/search terms you believe your audiences are searching on, and generate a much larger list of relevant search terms and the average # of times a month someone is entering that particular term into Google, for a particular geography. By reviewing this research, organizations can identify the keywords for which they most want to be found, and then make sure, as explained above, that those terms are included in SEO tactics/activities such as meta tags and public-facing website content and headers.
SEO Audit: An Ingredient That Adds Depth To Your SEO Recipe and Strategy
My Greater Boston SEO company employs a paid vs. free SEO audit tool to accurately determine for which of the keywords/search terms our clients most want to rank in a particular geography (identified thru the keyword research process above) they already rank well. We used to conduct SEO site audits for clients manually, but as our client list grew and the number of terms for which clients wanted to rank grew, we knew we needed to, and did invest in, a more cost- and time-efficient way to conduct SEO audits.
I consider an organization to rank particularly well for a particular keyword in Google if a listing with a link to its website or its Google My Business Profile/Google Search & Maps listing appears in the first 10 – 12 listings (for a particular geography) that Google serves up for the high-volume keyword in-question, i.e., appears on the first page of Google search results. I consider an organization to rank well, versus particularly well, if a listing with a link to its website or Google My Business Profile/Google Search and Maps appears within the first 25 listings Google serves up for desirable search terms, i.e., on the first two pages of Google Search results.
Identifying the intersection of relevant high-volume search terms and ranking on Google on pages BEYOND the first two (in positions 26 or higher in Google, and depending on the nature of an organization’s products and services, it may be critical to rank in position 1 – 12 in search results) allows us to know where there are areas for SEO improvement — therefore, areas where our client could be experiencing sweeter SEO success and for what terms we need to apply our secret SEO sauce to support ranking better in the future for those important keywords. The aforementioned secret sauce includes, but is not limited to, applying tactics such as employing the high-volume keywords in meta tags, page headers, and page content.
Why You’ll Want and Need To Repeat Your SEO Audit
Once you’ve set up your initial SEO audit, you’ll want to repeat it monthly to see if and how your organization ranks for the high-volume keywords regarding which you’re applying a lot of your SEO energy. Repeating this SEO audit will allow you to continue to tweak your SEO strategy and where you spend your SEO time, so that you continue to rank better and better for the keywords that are most important to the success of your organization and to your target audiences. Read why SEO is not a one and done marketing activity.
Why You Need This Winning SEO Ingredient Combo
Why does combining keyword research with an SEO audit make for a winning SEO recipe? Why spend time trying to rank well in Google for relevant, high-volume terms you’re already ranking well for? Sure, SEO is not a one and done marketing tactic and you should continue to employ appropriate-to-the-page-or-post-in-question content, headers, and page title tags that include those keywords for which you already rank well, but why not put the majority of your SEO energy into trying to rank well for high-volume search terms your organization currently isn’t ranking well for so you’re not missing out on important opportunities to reach your various target audiences?
Here’s an example from my own business. Two high-volume keywords I want my own site to rank well for are “digital marketing agency Boston” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. = 480/month), and “Boston SEO company” (average monthly search volume whole U.S. also = 480/month) since both of the aforementioned keywords have the highest average monthly search volumes among keywords/search terms that are relevant to the products, services, and solutions to problems we offer. Based on an audit we conducted today, we learned that we rank better for the term “digital marketing agency Boston” than we do for “Boston SEO company” — hey, Boston is fortunate to be a place that a very large number of SEO experts call home, so we are always competing with the best of the best SEO experts to rank for relevant terms. Anyhow, given the aforementioned audit information, while we’ll want to continue our efforts at ranking for “digital marketing agency Boston,” we’ll put extra effort into tactics to rank for “Boston SEO company (for the time being anyhow since rankings constantly change and shift depending on your marketplace and competition to be served up for certain keywords.)
Continuing with our food metaphor, we know this was a lot to “digest,” We’d be glad to walk you thru a recent case study we put together about the above winning combo, so please don’t hesitate to use our calendar app to schedule a time to chat https://calendly.com/gail-moraski.
Infographics — images that are designed to condense and consolidate a bunch of complex information, and present that information in a fashion that makes it understandable by a variety of target audiences — have a variety of plusses, including, but not limited to, the following key ones:
they tend to get shared by others, whether it be in a social media post or on a website, so they have a lot of potential to go viral
they provide a vehicle for graphically/visually educating audiences on topics or concepts that may be hard to grasp when simply presented via text
The downside of infographics is when they are added to website pages without what’s known as “embedded text” or an “alt-tag,” they:
aren’t accessible to those with vision impairments or learning disabilities who use a screen reader to crawl a site and read the text aloud to them
can’t be crawled and indexed by search engines, so even though they may contain many high-volume search terms (keywords) for which you want target audiences to find your site, Google, Bing, and other search engines won’t know that the images contain those keywords or reward you from a search standpoint for using them
Spoon-feeding Google What It Needs To Index Your Infographic
Thankfully, there’s an easy solution to the infographic challenge described above. Regardless of what CMS (content management solution)/website platform your site resides on, your website solution should provide for the opportunity to enter an “alt-tag” or “image description” to describe to search engines or screen readers what an image is all about. This is an opportunity associated with all images used on your site, not just infographics.
How To Write An Effective Alt-tag For Website Images
So, what are some best practices for writing an alt-tag to accompany an image on your site? KEEP IN MIND THAT WITH ALT-TAGS YOU ARE BASICALLY DESCRIBING THE PICTURE TO GOOGLE’S AND OTHER SEARCH ENGINES’ SPIDERS/CRAWLERS WHO CAN’T SEE. Therefore, it’s important to adhere to the following:
Keep the tag simple, clean, and authentic, plus descriptive. Imagine describing the image to someone who has their eyes closed.
Don’t overstuff/use too many high-volume keywords. Google will ding you for that. Focus on one or two and only use them if you would fairly naturally use them in describing the image in-question.
You don’t need to include the terms “image of” or “photo of” in your alt tag – just by the fact that Google is crawling an alt tag, it knows it’s related to an image or photo.
Keep to 125 characters (including spaces) or less (you can use the “Word Count” function in MS Word to check for this.)
In general, only include the name of your business if you are writing an alt-tag to go with your Logo artwork/image. If you were describing a picture to someone based on what you are seeing, unless the name of the company were in the image/photo, you would not know what organization was associated with the photo and wouldn’t naturally mention it. Exceptions to this might be a photo where you described a staff member of your organization and the alt tag included a phrase like “Gail Snow Moraski of Results Communications & Research donates a check to…”
An Additional Opportunity To Increase The Positive SEO Impact Of An Image
When and where appropriate, consider hyperlinking your images, so that when a visitor clicks on the image, it will take them to another page on your site. Google rewards sites from an SEO standpoint that effectively use “internal links” to support a good user experience (note that user experience is expected to be a key component of Google’s search algorithm in 2021). That said, don’t “link” just for the sake of linking. Only include links when image clicks take site visitors to appropriate content.
Help Implementing Alt-Tags and Other Organic/Technical SEO Tactics
Our team is always here to either train your team on implementing organic SEO tactics, such as those that are the subject of this post, or implement such tactics on your organization’s behalf. So, don’t hesitate to reach out. We adore a good SEO challenge!