Reflecting on the ups and downs of SEO in 2016, I find myself in awe of all the shake-ups, testing, and changes Google made to the algorithm.  With the ups and downs of Penguin, Panda, Possum and mobile-first indexing on top of quality updates, SEOs found themselves spinning in circles to try and keep up.  This year was trivial at times, but a huge highlight for me was when I ranked a blog #2 for the keyword Google. Now that’s cool.

So What Happened?

On September 8th 2016, The Google Webmaster Blog released an update, “A reminder about widget links.”  The quick message being that you can’t hide backlinks in widgets and expect not to get penalized.  Seeing how important it is, we posted a quick blog on seoplus+ about it.  This blog was nothing fancy, only about 350 words, and we made it live before 9:30am (which, as you’ll see soon, really helped).

You can take a look at the post here.

A week later we took a look at our analytics/search console and noticed a HUGE spike in impressions (about 66,000) for seoplus+,  but why?  The blog I wrote was appearing, on average, second in the search results.  The bigger plus was that the post was also appearing in Google’s AMP results on mobile.  Let me tell you, the impressions articles get on the results are insane.  Here’s a peek at the metrics:

Google Analytics Search Landing page views

AMP article metrics in our analytics.

Let’s take a step back, what is AMP?  Well, AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile Pages, and it is Google’s way of rendering content fast to its users.  AMP pages and articles get stored in Google’s own page cache to render even faster to you when you open it on your phone.  This allows Google to deliver content quickly and efficiently to its users without the threat of pop-ups, ads, and other clunky elements that slow page loading.  

Taking a deeper dive in Search Console, we could see that the query the article was ranking for was “Google”.

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What would this look like in the SERP?  Unfortunately, we don’t have a screenshot from that day – but taking a look at today’s’ news, we can draw the conclusion that it probably appeared first in the AMP results anytime someone searched Google.

AMP results of article

How can you re-create these results? Well here are some tips to get you to the top:

1. Keep an eye on news that is relevant your industry

Make it a morning ritual when you get out of bed, are drinking your morning coffee, or first get to the office and see if there is any breaking news.  If there is something that you’re all about (in our case it’s anything digital marketing).  If there is something new and exciting, write a quick 300-word post of original content. The longer the better, of course, but you can always circle back at a later time for a deeper dive. Now it’s all about being one of the first to provide industry-specific insights on the topic.

The easiest way to stay up-to-date is to follow thought leaders in your niche on Twitter. Segment them on a Twitter list to cut through the noise and get the latest news as it happens. Load your favourite news sources and industry blogs into an RSS feed to get quick access. Finally, set up a Google Alert for targeted keywords. You can set Google Alerts to come in at your preferred pace, including every time your keyword is used in a news source so you don’t miss a thing.

2. Implement an AMP Solution

So now you’re creating valuable content, but how can you show up in the AMP results?  Simply put, implement an AMP solution.  In an SEMrush chat, I briefly talked with Barry Adams, who is the founder of Polemic Digital in the UK. He is an expert in AMP and mentioned a couple WordPress plugins and solutions you can use.

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Here at seoplus+, we have a custom AMP plugin we use – but check out some online and read some reviews before implementing! You can test out whether the plugin is working and pinpoint errors in your code by using Google’s handy AMP testing tool.

3. Share on Social

To ensure you can get eyes on your article, be sure to share with your social networks!  Valuable content will be read and hopefully shared further.  The initial traffic will give your work traction to be successful in results. Think beyond Facebook and Twitter and see if you can get engagement on a platform like LinkedIn Pulse or Medium. Share a summary of your insights or build off the news in a way that is tailored to the audience on that platform. Just remember to link back to your original article.

4. Rinse and Repeat

Keep writing great content and sharing.  The value of writing and sharing is invaluable in the world of Digital Marketing. You’d be surprised how great content can build on itself. This process is also important for identifying topics that move the needle in your industry. What starts as a quiet news release in February can grow and evolve until it’s universally biggest development in your industry by the end of the calendar year. When you get in on the ground floor, you’ll have more gravitas as a source.

Put out quality content every day and engage around it.
– Gary Vaynerchuk, garyvaynerchuk.com

Wrapping Up

The big question is, am I still number two today? No.  Once the article wasn’t “news” for Google, the impressions dropped drastically.  Right now the article is ranking above some pretty big publications (like Search Engine Land) for “Google Penalizing Widgets” and probably some variations of this.  Why?  The huge traction it gained initially and the timeliness of it gave it more authority over other online publications. Plus the fact that it was content delivered in a mobile-optimized format doesn’t hurt, and that aspect will only continue to grow in importance as the prioritization of mobile-friendly content takes root.

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What we learned from this is how powerful AMP is.  Paired with relevant, timely, insightful content, you can really make waves in your SEO efforts and get lots of eyes on your site.  How are you planning on incorporating AMP and content marketing in your 2017 digital strategy?  Comment below to let us know!  Need help implementing or have more questions?  Check out our seoplus+ AMA here and ask us!

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Lindsay Kavanagh

Lindsay Kavanagh

Lindsay Kavanagh is an SEO Specialist with seoplus+. Lindsay has a passion for helping businesses large and small optimize their online presence, improve search rankings, grow organic traffic, and drive conversions. Lindsay works with clients to achieve their campaign objectives while maintaining balance between a business’ branding, SEO, CRO, and UX. She is a certified Google AdWords and Analytics professional with specializations in search, display, mobile, video, and shopping. Lindsay has been published in Business 2 Community, SMB Retail, Stack Overflow, Job Advisors, and ucraft.