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Beating paid search results with organic SEO

Paid search results are increasingly prominent on Google and very few organic results appear above the fold. But is it possible to beat paid search results using only organic SEO? By using features such as images, video snippets, Knowledge Graph, Authorship, Long Form Articles, Google+ and Review Ratings, we will show you how you can boost organic search results and stay at the front of the game.

Images

Images have always increased clickthroughs and been essential to online marketing and visibility. To ensure your images get a prominent position in search results, you need to address the following points:

  • Don’t forget to use the alt text attribute for all images. Include a short description here, and include specific keywords.
  • Think about the name of your file and choose something that is easily understandable and descriptive.
  • Surround your images with related text.
  • Host images where possible on the same domain.
  • Create an image XML sitemap.

Video

Videos are one of the most powerful and popular content types on the web. Used well, they can be an incredibly strong way of drawing attention to your brand and building your online community.

To display video thumbnails in search results, you will need to either self-host your content or use a site such as YouTube or Vimeo. As with images, you will need to make sure your files are named appropriately and have useful descriptions. 

Again, creating a video XML sitemap and surrounding your videos with text (such as a transcript) will also help with SEO. With video set to be the next big thing, it will pay to get on top of this straight away.

Knowledge Graph

Google’s Knowledge Graph is a database providing structured and detailed information about topics in addition to a list of links to other sites. You will probably have noticed the encyclopaedia-like Knowledge Graph box on the right-hand side of your screen when you search for something in Google. 

The information is gathered from many sources, including the Freebase.com database and Wikipedia, so entries in these places can help your site to feature as part of this information.

Google+

Google+ is becoming more and more important in terms of search engine results. So it’s critical not only to make sure you have a Google+ company page set up with links to your main website and your physical location, but that you are actively and regularly using the site. 

Encouraging people to engage with your content, share your posts or link to your profile, the more valuable your Google+ profile becomes and the more it will help with Google rankings.

You need to remember that the first sentence of every Google+ post will become part of the search title tag, so it’s absolutely vital to choose your wording carefully to encourage visitors to click on your link. If you’ve already fallen into this trap, don’t worry – Google+ allows you to make unlimited edits to your posts.

Rich snippets

Displaying review ratings, author information, images and videos alongside your standard url and metadescription in search results makes your site more attractive to users and increase clickthroughs by up to 30%. The eight types of rich snippets which Google can extract from your website are:

  1. Author snippets
  2. Business and organisation snippets
  3. Event snippets
  4. Music snippets
  5. People snippets
  6. Product snippets
  7. Recipe snippets and
  8. Review snippets

Find out how to add rich snippets to your website.

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Authorship

One way of increasing your search visibility is to use information from social media. Authorship is one way to do this. Google uses authorship data (Author Rank) to associate new content with the person it was written by, allowing a picture to build up over time as to which authors are the most influential and providing the most useful and high-quality content. 

The easiest way to implement rel=author is to submit your email address to Google. 

Alternatively, you can link your content to your Google+ profile.

Once you’ve added the above markup, you just need to add a reciprocal link back from your profile to the site you’ve updated (by editing the ‘Contributor To’ section on your Google+ profile page), click ‘add custom link’ and enter your url.

In-depth articles

Google state that “Up to 10% of users’ daily information needs involve learning about a broad topic.” So to cater for readers who need a more in-depth article, they have introduced a feature whereby searchers can find a block of results under the title ‘In-depth articles’. 

In addition to the result, a large thumbnail image, logo and snippets are included, drawing noticeable attention to the item. There is a specific markup which a webmaster can add to a site to ensure that Google recognises the page as a detailed article. Google’s recommendations are to:

  • Use schema.org “article” markup
  • Provide authorship markup (see above)
  • Use rel=next and rel=prev for paginated articles
  • Provide information about your logo
  • Create compelling, detailed content

If your site contains articles that would fit into this category, it is certainly worth investigating in-depth articles a little further, since this is a useful way to increase your brand visibility and provide informative and useful content to your users.

In summary

Although paid search results can yield great results when used well, there is no doubt that there are many organic search tools that are currently being underused and even overlooked by many companies. And since search engine users click on organic results overwhelmingly more than on paid results, throwing money at the problem might not be the best solution. 

Taking a look at some of the methods highlighted in this is the first step towards making your SEO work for you, and done accurately and consistently, might well prove to beat those paid search results hands-down.

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