Mastering the Matrix: Content, SEO, Penguin & Possum

The Web as you know it —– is alive! It’s growing, evolving, and changing daily.

While websites have yet to develop consciousness like you and I, they still live and grow based on their interaction with website visitors and powerful search engines. According to, there are over 1 billion websites and Google processes 3.5 billion searches per day.

There are 40k @Google searches/second, 3.5 billion/day, 1.2 trillion/year. #SEO Click To Tweet

How does Google rank website results for all of those searches? Google has constructed an elaborate computer algorithm to “look for clues” to identify which websites best provide the information for which the user is searching. There are over 200 factors that are taken into consideration and the algorithm is updated regularly. The most recent updates include Possum, which went into effect on September 1st, and the latest Penguin update which is rolling out today.

From what we can see, Possum primarily impacted local search results. Map listings appear to have a different filter and results depend more upon where you, as the searcher, are physically located.

Penguin originally launched in 2012 and was a wake up call for many SEO companies who thought they could trick the system. There’s no fooling Google! This latest update has two major changes. The first is that Penguin is real-time. This means data is refreshed in real time so changes will be visible faster after sites are crawled and indexed. The second change is Penguin is more “granular”. Spam will be devalued by the algorithm bed on spam signals so the ranking of the entire site will not be effected as has happened in the past.

So, what does this mean for your website? Google has once again shown us that they put user experience first. They continue to find ways to better meet the needs of the user. That must be our mission as well.

@Google puts #ux first and so do we. @CobaltDigitalMarketing #SEO Click To Tweet

Just like a real, living thing, websites require analysis, care and attention to continually grow to meet user needs. If you fail to regularly feed your website fresh content, improved usability, and intuitive navigation, then you’ll likely be viewed by web crawlers as dead.


It’s not a matter of keeping up with the latest changes in Google algorithms, it’s anticipating them. This is how the expertise of a digital marketing agency like Cobalt Digital Marketing can help you get in front of the right search traffic, stay in front of the search traffic and convert the search traffic into customers.

Keeping a healthy, vibrant website requires a meaningful SEO strategy with quality content. It is important to recognize though that quality content means quality content. Fluff and keyword stuffing will not work. Failing to provide any substance will leave your site emptier than a pool in the winter.

Stay on top of the latest Google algorithm change and anticipate future changes by keeping an eye on user experience with these website management tips.

New Content Means More Frequent Indexing

Now this doesn’t necessarily mean higher indexing, but rather that the more often you update your website with new articles, pages, or downloads, the more frequently web crawlers will stop by your living site. Web crawlers, simply put, are programs that scan the Web for websites and “index” a site based on a number of factors determined by a search engine’s algorithm.

So, the more often these little web crawlers are on your site, the better your opportunity to achieve a higher ranking. All because of fresh, quality content.

But again, it’s all about quality over quantity. Flooding your website with shabby quality content is only going to hurt you in the long run and can actually cause you to get penalized.

You can monitor your @Google site crawls in #WebmasterTools crawl stats. #seo Click To Tweet

More Content + More Authority = Informed Audience

New content should include keywords that will help attract visitors to your site. Search engine web crawlers help to locate these keywords in your blogs or postings, which optimizes your ranking, and gets those viewers to your content.

Something important to remember with Google algorithm updates is that they help filter quality content rather than keyword-stuffed drivel. By writing content that answers questions, provides valuable information, or informs readers how to do something, your authoritative potential rises. This understanding that content is king will make you a meaningful player in your specific industry.

@Google favors quality content not keyword-stuffed drivel. #SEO #ContentMarketing Click To Tweet

The more relevant and meaningful content you saturate your website with, the more of an authority you become on the internet and the more people will begin to trust what you’re saying. By keeping an informed audience constantly engaged with your site, you’ll develop loyalty, which converts to returning traffic and, ultimately, into customers.

Every time you get search traffic to your site you are handed the perfect opportunity to provide users with information about your business and your services. Remember, these visitors were searching for information, product or service and chose your site from thousands of others. Take advantage of the situation and capture their attention with the right message and content to get them to understand why they need your services more than anyone else’s.

Google Wants to Love Your Website

The truth is that Google is the reigning champ right now in the competitive world of search engines. They are so powerful that they actually influence the manner in which websites are constructed, as well as the methodology of Search Experience Optimization (SEO) techniques. It’s exceedingly important to understand their motivation and let that drive your digital marketing effort and the evolution of your website. They love when websites meet the needs of search queries. They want to see low bounce rates. They will reward you for doing everything you can to create positive user experiences.

We don’t always know when Google algorithm updates are coming. In fact, often they slip by with little notice or comment. While there has not been any official word from Google’s PR team about the latest update, the webmaster and SEO community are confident that we will continue to see search result changes as a result of the algorithm change to Google’s local map filter and organic search results.

SEO Expert Mauricio Piña was noted as saying, “Only time will tell if these algorithm updates will leave any major lasting effects, but the fact of the matter is, the only way to be successful in the SEO and content world is by keeping up-to-date with all the changes that occur in the digital universe.”

“The path to #SEO success is keeping up with and anticipating change” @mauriciopina @google Click To Tweet

Cobalt Digital Marketing Wants YOU to Love YOUR Website Too

Let the phenomenal Cobalt Digital Marketing team help you take control of your digital presence. Our Marketing Catalysts can strategically manage all aspects of your online presence including website design, user experience, SEO, content, and social media, to ensure that you are best positioned to take advantage of future Google algorithm updates.

Anticipate site visitor needs and keep your website growing, evolving and changing. Whether an image, download, or blog, adding fresh material will get you traffic and ultimately sales. So get to writing.
Or let Cobalt Digital Marketing do it for you.

SEO is NOT dead.

Let me say this loud and clear one last time, SEO is NOT dead. SEO has changed, for sure, but it is still very often going to give you the best bang for your online marketing buck. Think about it.…  there are an average of over 40,000 search queries on Google every SECOND. That’s 1.2 TRILLION searches annually. (source Some percentage of those people are searching for YOUR business. You just need to get in front of them and convert them into customers. It’s just that simple.

There are over 40,000 #search queries on #Google every SECOND. Click To Tweet

Jayson Demers, a contributor to Entrepreneur Magazine, apparently agrees. Jason says that there are five reasons you need to invest in an SEO campaign right now. I concur.

  1. Return On Investment.

SEO does require a financial investment and that stops many businesses right in their tracks. The key is to not to only look at what you will spend but what you will get in return. Your company will receive a range of benefits from brand visibility to actual sales. If an SEO program is executed effectively you will find that the longer you invest, the greater return you will see and, ultimately, the greater the sales.

The greater #SEO investment, the greater #ROI & the greater #sales. Click To Tweet
  1. The Age of UX

There’s no more “black hat” manipulation of the search engines. Those days are long gone. This is a time of true SEO, what we call Search Experience Optimization. Giving users the information and experience they are searching for is what it’s all about. What a great opportunity for businesses! As the search engines improve their ability to meet the needs of users, our job in executing an SEO program is to provide the best content and user experience. Remember, no longer are users just sitting at their desktops. Today’s users are on the go and a good Search Experience Optimization program MUST include tactics for optimizing mobile content.

#SEO programs must include tactics for optimizing #mobile #content. Click To Tweet
  1. The ROI Snowball

We see the work we do in our Search Experience Optimization program ultimately having amplified returns. The more we build, structure and layer our content, the more we link, the more we build the social presence of our clients, the more they benefit in the end. Their domain authority grows, their brand visibility increases and we see traffic and social following multiply as a result. It’s like a snowball rolling down a big hill, growing both in size and speed!

#ROI for #SEO snowballs over time. Click To Tweet
  1. If You Are Not Moving Forward You Are Moving Backward

Competition is competition. You need to be where the customers are. Don’t wait to implement an Search Experience Optimization program while your competitors implement SEO strategies and scoop up the sales. Every day between now and when you get started with your SEO program is another day for your competitor’s brand to get visibility and their site to get ranked for high volume keywords.

If you are not moving forward, you are moving backward. Click To Tweet
  1. Just Go

This is not a case of “go big or go home”, just go. It is costing you more money every day you think about implementing an SEO program then it would if you just identified a budget you can live with and got in the game. Starting small is just fine but do start. As you see results, you can expand the program for deeper penetration, to encompass a larger basket of related keywords or go after a wider geographic area.

With #seo don’t worry about “go big or go home”, just go. Click To Tweet

While some people shop for headstones to bury SEO, our team is getting even more aggressive. We see nothing but opportunity with Search Experience Optimization. In the end, businesses NEED to be where the customers are. Customers are online. Customers are searching. It’s time to roll up your sleeves, implement a digital marketing strategy and compete. Long live SEO… Search Experience Optimization!

Slam Dunk March Madness Marketing

Friday afternoon across the United States there was a resounding chorus of “Ugggg! There goes my bracket!”. The social media channels lit up with posts, tweets, snaps and memes! Even my 9 year old lamented “There goes my Lambourghini!”. How could the numbers have been wrong? How did 15th seed Middle Tennessee Blue Raiders defeat #2 seed Michigan State in the NCAA Men’s basketball tournament? It’s March Madness at it’s finest!

For weeks leading up to “The Big Dance”, fans are consumed with analysis of players and teams. There are endless discussions of statistics, game theory and bracketology. Everyone has a theory on how to use the numbers to predict the outcomes. The odds, the overs, the unders, the spread, the best bets, the dark horses, the Cinderella stories…. and in the end 9.2 BILLION DOLLARS will be wagered.

All of this number frenzy is in pursuit of the perfect bracket to win money, prizes and bragging rights. This year, Warren Buffet upped the anti in his company pool to give the winner one million dollars a year for life! The Car Lister Bracket Challenge is offering a new Lamborghini. DraftKings, Yahoo, CBS, ESPN are each offering cash prizes and, of course, everyone wants to dominate the office pool. Truth be told, however, the odds of picking a perfect bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808.

The odds of picking a perfect #MarchMadness bracket are 1 in 9,223,372,036,854,775,808. Click To Tweet

Upsets like the one on Friday are not uncommon. My family will never forget the 2012 game when 15 seed Lehigh University beat #2 seed Duke University. The big upset was even immortalized in a YouTube video. In 2006, 11th seed George Mason won game after game and shockingly made it to the Final Four! How could these upsets happen? It’s totally inconsistent with what the numbers predicted. The numbers!?!

Perhaps, THIS is the fun of watching March Madness each year? The games are fast and exciting. These basketball teams are comprised of players who are playing the biggest game of their lives or, in many cases, the last game of their basketball career. They play with heart and give 150%. Here we encounter the most important number and the reason why the other numbers aren’t consistent predictors of the outcomes.

This got me thinking about numbers and outcomes. The effectiveness with which numbers CAN predict outcomes in digital marketing is what makes THIS GAME so exciting. In business, however, WE are the teams and consumers pick us. The good news is that we can easily define the selection criteria based on data and then use specifically targeted and placed content to seal the deal.

So let me simplify it in basketball terms. It just takes a little bracketology. Here’s what I would put in my Final Four winning marketing madness data bracket. Measure these and use the data to predict the winning game outcome.

shoot & score

Yes, it is all about conversion, isn’t it? Be the team everyone wants to pick. Consumers in the end will go for the team that will do the most for them. Use your data to outline your company’s Customer MVP. Once you know who your MVPs are you can identify how to best fill their needs, overcome hesitations and be where they are to get them to engage and convert. Slam dunk!

5 Killer Marketing Lessons From House Of Cards

After spending an embarrassing amount of time binge watching House of Cards this past weekend, I have arrived at the conclusion that there is a lot to learn about marketing from the Underwoods. Really, it’s not a stretch. Look at the powerful image Frank Underwood was able to build. Ok, I concede it was built upon a foundation of lies, manipulation and murder but let’s overlook that for now. He SOLD himself.

Killer Marketing Lesson Number One

Create a Consistent Brand

Frank Underwood knows who and what he is but has created a strong, consistent brand to the outside world. He chooses his words carefully. He undertakes public appearances strategically. He makes sure to be seen when and where it matters. The same applies when marketing a company or product. A brand must be consistent in image and message across medium. What would it do to the brand if all of a sudden Nike started creating sweet touchy feely ads mixed in with the powerful “Just do it” athletes?

Killer Marketing Lesson Number Two

Have A Vision 

There is no question here. Both Francis and Claire Underwood have a vision for themselves and their brand. I think it is clear to viewers that they entered marriage with this vision and saw the other as his or her strategic partner. Every decision, every “ally”, every initiative, every relationship became a card placed carefully on the house that is their vision. A marketing plan is one piece of the strategic plan for a company and/or product. Marketing is a tool, nothing more and nothing less. Marketing is nothing without a vision. As marketers we use the vision of the company to determine where to go and how to get there. Then we design a marketing strategy to execute. Achieving steps on the path are the measurables for marketing success.

Killer Marketing Lesson Number Three

Stay Ahead of the Pack

For those of us climbing to the top of the food chain there can be no mercy. There is but one rule: Hunt or Be Hunted. Frank’s words ring true in my world and the world of all marketers for sure. We need to differentiate our company from the competition. We need to differentiate each client’s product or service from their competition. That IS WHAT WE DO. We study the competition, we study our clients, we figure out how to craft a message to fill a need. No obvious need to fill? Then, it comes to us to create a need. If you are marketing food, make people hungry. If you are marketing a beverage, make people thirsty. If you are marketing SEO, make people see that what Leann Harvey said to Clair Underwood is true. “If you know what people are searching for you know everything.” - CobaltDigital.Marketing Click To Tweet

Killer Marketing Lesson Number Four

Create Change and Break the Rules

If you dont like how the table is set, turn over the table.

Right now, today, we sit in a world full of marketing potential…. more then ever before in the history of time. We have more data availability about consumers than ever before. We have intimate access to consumers in a way that never existed before. Marketing success right now rests in the hands of those who can harness the data and innovate how to use digital marketing tools like social media and search experience optimization to maximum advantage.


Of all the things I hold in high regard, rules are not one of them.”

There are no hard and fast rules in this new era of digital marketing. This is our challenge and our opportunity! Several years ago, Dove broke all the rules with their “Campaign for Real Beauty”. A photography exhibit inspired a new discussion about how women view beauty and evolved into one of the most successful marketing campaigns of the last decade. The Real Beauty Sketches clip from 2013 became the most watched video ad of all time! As I write this blog, the 3 minute version has been viewed 66,719,903 times and the 6 minute version has been viewed 6,175,784 times!

Killer Marketing Lesson Number Five

Invest Thoughtfully for Maximum ROI

Thats how you devour a whale one bit at a time.

Inevitably when I meet with a client to talk about Search Engine Optimization I hear the question “How long will it take until my website is on the first page?”. This one question is the main reason I am trying to change the conversation from Search Engine Optimization to Search Experience Optimization. It takes time not only to improve organic search rankings but, more importantly, to create a digital marketing program that will convert site viewers into actual customers. Return on investment from any marketing program is ultimately measured by conversion.

Ah, yes, season after season we see the Underwoods progress, moving ever forward step by step. We see unbelievable restraint and patience as they methodically plant seeds, one  by one, inching closer to their goals. I’m halfway through season four at this point but I marvel at the Underwoods calculated moves and I sit on the edge of my seat knowing their commitment to the killer marketing of the Underwood brand. They will do anything to achieve their vision. Will you?