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Posted by on Oct 24, 2017 in SEO Oddities

The Latest With Google: 4 Resources

Google is constantly innovating and improving its algorithms, platforms, products and services. Staying up-to-date with the search giant’s advancements can help to shape your digital choices and strategies. Here are 4 of MDS’ favorite trusted resources to consult when looking for news and updates on Google:

  1. Google’s blog itself, The Keyword – Did you know Google has its own blog? It’s often one of the best and most up-to-date sources to learn about what’s new in the world of Google. You can sort the blog content by topics (including: Google in Asia, Google in Europe, Safety & Security, Travel, etc.), Product News and Latest Stories. New posts are added daily (and sometimes even hourly!)
  2. Moz’s Google Algorithm Change History  SEO authority, Moz, documents each major Google algorithm update and what it means for SEO and digital marketing experts. For instance, did you know there was a large update earlier this year called “Fred?” Learn more about the impacts of Fred (and other major updates) to see if there are any takeaways for your site.
  3. Search Engine Land – There is an entire page on their site devoted to Google. It chronicles updates, search news, tips, algorithm changes, testing, etc. Search Engine Land covers all topics from Google AdWords to AMP to local search, and everything in between.
  4. Search Engine Round Table – In their dedicated Google section, you can find updates on Google as well as Bing, Yahoo and other SEO related topics. Search Engine Round Table is a great resource for staying updated on the entire search landscape. Plus, the site also has a very user-friendly archive that puts past Google posts right at your fingertips for easy browsing.

Have any questions? Ask your Digital Client Services Manager! We have a team of digital experts waiting to help.Google Logo

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Posted by on Aug 22, 2017 in All Matters SEO, SEO Oddities

iSearch – How AI will Change the Future of SEO

If you are like me this is probably the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear “AI – Artificial Intelligence.”  But as you will see at the end of this post, it is less spine-chilling than that. It is changing the face of SEO, but not how you might think.

We’re talking about algorithms that enable machines to make connections, “learn” to process the data and apply its learning in upcoming tasks.

When you search for something, the results displayed take into account a number of considerations like your search history, location, favorites and what other users click on for a similar search results. AI improvements mean ranking factors can change from query to query, as the algorithm learns how people are clicking on the search results and decides on the most related factors to take into account for each search.

So how can this influence the world of SEO, you may ask? Most of us consider SEO to be really important only for web browsing on computers. That is where the change happens.

Google Search On Mac(Image Source: Pexels)

According to ComScore, by 2020, 50% of searches will be voice search. Voice is the future of web search. Both Google and Bing have stated that the majority of search queries they receive take place via voice on mobile. This is just a matter of time taking under consideration the development of hands-free devices. With the vast improvement in the quality of digital voice assistants like Google Now, Siri and Alexa, it was only a matter of time people discovered the vast convenience of voice search and rely on it for their queries.

Imagine one of such searches…

  • Alexa, find me the best hotel in Berlin?
  • Google, book a table for tonight at the best Italian restaurant near me?

What can we do to be ready for voice searches?

  1. Focus on phrases and longtail keywords

The search focus will shift from just random keyword combinations to more natural language, full sentences and phrases. The way we speak is very much different from the way we write and the words said will be different from those we would type in the search box.

  1. Optimize your website for local SEO

Mobile voice search is three times more likely to be local-based than text search. This is closely related to the fact that most smartphone searches are also local. With this in mind, businesses should keep their profiles and contact information up-to-date, since this is what Google will pull for queries such as, “Where can I get the best coffee in London?”

This means you need to step up your game, because voice search is rapidly becoming the way your customers will find your services. Keywords need to be relevant to your local customer, include places, sites, district names that would be associated with your location, etc.

Your Google Knowledge Graph should be up-to-date reflecting your contact details, opening hours, services, etc. “Where is the best Chinese food near me?” and “Where can I go swimming today?” These are clearly local searches and they trigger ads in the search engine results that allow the user to act without going to a web page. In the results, you can see reviews, a phone call button, directions button and a “book now” button. Users don’t have to come to your website to complete their intent.

This is only the tip of the iceberg and there is more to come…we will be communication more using voice commands and voice search will only continue to grow.

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Posted by on Mar 22, 2016 in All Matters SEO, SEO Oddities

How the Flesch-Kincaid Test Can Help Optimize Your Content

People feel the need to write complex sentences to sound smarter; whether it’s replacing words with their longer synonym, or adding an extra adverb here and there. My personal favorite is making nouns into verbs (I’m looking at you, “trending”).

And I get it; you want to appear as the subject matter expert on what you are writing about. Now, what if I told you that the simpler you write the more engaged your readers will be with your web content. And as everyone knows, great engagement has the potential to result in great SEO.

Flesch-Kincaid Readability Test

(Source: Flickr Creative CommonsLicense)

Readability and How It Affects SEO

Since the release of Google’s Hummingbird algorithm, SEO specialists are encouraged to stay on top of the industry by becoming more “precise and fast” than previous years when planning their content creation. Merely targeting keywords without making content easily digestible will often result in hurting a client’s results in the long run. This is why it’s imperative for content to have readability, as it’s considered to be a ranking factor for Search Engines. What is readability?

Readability (n) – The ease with which a reader can understand a written text.

As a hotel reviewing property website content or marketing collateral, think about future travelers: Are you using industry jargon or buzzwords? Can potential guests understand the message?

Like all digital marketers, you’re thinking “how can something so subjective be measured?” Lo and behold the Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Test.

The Flesch-Kincaid Reading Ease Test

Want to test your content to see if it could be understood by the masses? There’s a formula for that!

206.835 – 1.015 (total words/total sentences) – 84.6 (total syllables/total words)

When you plug in your data into the formula, you get a score between 0 and 100. This is how the score should be interpreted below:

  • 90 – 100: Understood by an average 11-year-old
  • 60 – 70: Understood by an average 13-15-year-old
  • 0 – 30: Understood by university graduate

So the higher your score, the more readable your content is! I realize if you were a non-math major like me, you are probably scratching your head just looking at the formula. Here is the break-down; when it comes to the amount of words in a sentence:

  • The more words in a sentence, the less readable it is.
  • The less words in a sentence, the more readable it is.

When it comes to the amount of syllables in a word:

  • The more syllables in a word, the less readable it is.
  • The fewer syllables in a word, the more readable it is.

Don’t feel like doing the math? Check out, from there you can copy your text or submit your URL and your content will be scored for free!

What Does This All Mean?

I’m aware that I’m not the first person to tell you to keep it “short and sweet.” You probably do want your content to appeal to everyone, but I must iterate that you have to know your audience. If you find that your clientele is sharper than most, you wouldn’t want run the risk of watering down your posts by trying to appeal to the general public. They might lose interest and you might lose the engagement that you were trying to seek in the first place. So take this test with a grain of salt, and write for your audience, not for Mr. Flesch and Mr. Kincaid; strive for genuine readability.

Want to Improve Your Readability? Try this.

Want to improve your readability without cutting down on words, sentences and voice? Try these tips.


By providing the audience headings and subheadings, you make your post more “scannable.”  This allows readers to pick and choose whether the content is relevant to them or not.

Make it Visual

Humans are inherently visual creatures, use graphics and colors to strengthen your points. Also use italics or bold fonts to highlight key words or phrases for quick hits.

Less is More

Keep the reader’s interest by shortening paragraphs. It makes the content less intimidating. Long paragraphs make readers think that they don’t have enough time to read the entire thing. By breaking a long paragraph into two, you give the reader a chance to catch his/her breath.

Have you tried this test before? If so, leave us a comment detailing your experience. Oh and by the way, if you were curious, this blog post has the reading ease of 73.7.

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Posted by on Jun 16, 2015 in SEO Oddities

Links MDS Loves

Looking for some quick, interesting industry reads? We’ve compiled a few of our favorites from the past week.

What To Do When Your Link Building Campaign Fails – Is your content falling flat? Are your online influencers not as engaged as you thought they would be? Re-evaluating your outreach and content might be the key to future link building success.

How to Make the Most of Pinterest During Wedding Season – Pinterest is a great place to reach brides! Check out these tips for making your wedding content pop.

Using Guest Surveys to Improve Rankings with Google’s New Algorithm – Guest surveys provide unique and fresh website content while giving hotels the opportunity to interact with guests by responding. This article speculates the current positive impact of guest surveys on Google rankings as well as predicts an even bigger impact on Google rankings in the future.

Google’s Amazing Location-Aware Search Finds Answers About Nearby Places – Google’s new location-aware feature gives you answers about things around you without naming them. This shows the importance of having accurate Google Map information and other info up to date.

Skift Survey: Majority of Americans Will Take Little to No Vacation This Summer – Interesting insights into American travel plans for this summer.

Luxury Travel is Booming – What drove increases in luxury travel? Where are they coming from and where are they going? ITB Berlin and IPK International give answers.

Marriott Hotels Becomes First to Offer Netflix on Guest Room Televisions – Exciting update from Marriott Hotels!

What else have you been reading this week? Leave any suggestions in the comments section below!

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Posted by on May 26, 2015 in SEO Oddities

MDS Participates in Spirit to Serve

MDS was thrilled to participate in Marriott’s Spirit to Serve Our Community initiative at the C&O Canal. We helped paint picnic tables, clean the pavilion, paint lines in the parking lot, pull weeds, pick up trash, paint grills and complete other tasks that helped to beautify the park for patrons. Marriott International CEO, Arne Sorenson, also joined in on the efforts! What a great day giving back to the community – check out our experience below!

STS - 1

Account Manager Florent Abaziou picking up trash from the canal.

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Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson pictured with Account Managers Sally Arnold, Carolina Weber and Joanne Chung.

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Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson pictured with Account Managers Morgan Reid, Sally Arnold and Carolina Weber.

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Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson with MDS Client Services Director, Lindsay Gonitzke, and Operations Director, Lindsay Heizyk.

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Account Manager Sally Arnold pouring paint to spruce up picnic tables.

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Account Managers Sally Arnold and Carolina Weber pulling weeds along one of the canal’s park paths.

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Account Managers Carolina Weber and Sally Arnold painting park picnic tables.

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Account Supervisor Jaci Gentile and Account Managers Allison Guarino and Vincent Ayube repaint lines in the park’s parking lot.

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Account Manager Chelsea Moore helps steady a board to ensure straight painted parking lot lines.

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Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson with Fred Schaub and MDS’ Senior Manager Mike Jozaitis.

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Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson pictured with MDS’ Charles Pollard, Florent Abaziou, Jackie Sharp and Jessica Whalen.

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Marriott International CEO Arne Sorenson pictured with MDS’ Morgan Merron, Florent Abaziou, Jackie Sharp and Jessica Whalen.

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MDS’ Manager of SEO Strategy, Emily Malcolm, with Matt Bully.

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MDS’ Ricarda Dhossou, Lindsay Heizyk, Kristin Bartholomew and Lindsay Gonitzke taking a break from cleaning the canal.

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Posted by on May 19, 2015 in SEO Oddities

A Few of Our Favorite Things: Books & Podcasts

The minutes leading up to our monthly MDS team meetings are loud. The room is buzzing with chit chat as we all catch up on personal news or current events. As a group, MDS is well-read and up-to-date on pop culture (we are the digital generation after all). So often these conversations turn into an impromptu book club of sorts. We swap recommendations on our favorite books, TV shows, podcasts, movies, music and more.

MDS book recommendations

Instead of keeping this wealth of information to myself (my Goodreads To-Read list is already a mile long as is!), I reached out to my fellow book worms to get the scoop. Today I’m sharing the MDS team’s favorite books and podcasts related to the work we do: business, marketing and all things digital.


Allison G - Books

Allison Guarino
Account Manager

“After reading this Levo League review, I am looking forward to reading Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media by Aliza Licht, who is well-known on social media as DKNY PR Girl.”

Charles P - Books

Charles Pollard
Digital Reporting Strategy Manager

Made to Stick: Why Some Ideas Survive and Others Die by Chip and Dan Heath is about why some ideas thrive while other ideas do not. It reviews a method for making your own ideas sticky, the ‘SUCCES’ model, which stands for simple, unexpected, concrete, credible, emotional, and stories, all common characteristics of viral, sticky ideas!

My favorite takeaway from the book was learning about ‘the Curse of Knowledge.’ Basically, when we as humans know something, it is hard for us to imagine not knowing it and therefore we turn into awful communicators, not recognizing that someone else may not be familiar with what we’re talking about. This has made me more cognizant of what I am saying when speaking about natural search and SEO!”

Carley B - Books

Carley Beckner
Account Manager

“I read The Power of Habit: Why We Do What We Do in Life and Business. It really explains how habits are developed and how you can change them. It also illustrates how marketers can create habits and impact consumer behavior.”

Caitlin W - Books

Caitlin Weems
Account Supervisor

“I recommend reading Don’t Make Me Think, Revisited: A Common Sense Approach to Web Usability – by Steve Krug. This is a book on web usability that has been around for a while, but it’s a great (and quick) read! It’s a really insightful look at how people use websites and how a good website should let users accomplish their intended tasks as easily and directly as possible.

Two good quotes from the book are ‘Nothing important should ever be more than two clicks away’ and ‘If you want a great site, you’ve got to test. After you’ve worked on a site for even a few weeks, you can’t see it freshly any more. You know too much. The only way to find out if it really works is to test it.’”



Carolina W - Podcast

Carolina Weber
Account Manager

“Listen to the EconTalk episode with Michael Munger on the Sharing Economy. The podcast starts off a little slow, but it is very interesting as economists discuss the future of the sharing economy and disruptive innovation, and specifically discusses examples in the hospitality industry.”

Amber F - podcast

Amber Francis
Account Manager

“A couple of podcasts I really like that address pop culture and social behavior are Side Show by Soundworks and Invisibilia by NPR.”

Vincent A - podcast

Vincent Ayube
Account Manager

“I enjoy listening to the podcast Start Up, it brings out the inner entrepreneur in me. If you’re like me, and always wondered what owning your own business would entail, Start Up is the podcast for you! Start Up takes listeners through the growth, failures and successes of one start up podcast media company. The lessons you learn through the trials and tribulations of this company are applicable in almost any industry. If you’re looking for a new podcast, I would definitely suggest Start Up.”

Do you have any book or podcast recommendations for the MDS team? Share your favorites in the comments below.

*All book logos sourced from Amazon link provided, podcast logos sourced from iTunes link provided.

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