Client Communication is the Key to a Successful SEO

seo idea

If you’ve been doing SEO for any length of time, you’ve undoubtedly experienced your fair share of failures. And in many cases, frustratingly, the SEO program itself was not the issue. While I’ve discussed meta topics such as management challenges, getting executive buy-in, and the need for flexibility in the past, I haven’t directly addressed the question, “What do you do if SEO isn’t your SEO problem?”

As search marketers, we work our tails off analyzing data, search results, client websites and more, with the goal of providing recommendations that will move the needle. Unfortunately, the best recommendations in the world don’t matter if they aren’t implemented — and therein lies one of the biggest challenges of SEO.

Let’s look at a few common obstacles that can hinder an SEO program’s progress and discuss how we can overcome them.

Just following up

We’ve all been there: You’ve sent one, two, three emails and still have heard nothing back. How can you possibly get anything done if the client won’t even answer your emails?

It’s not a simple solution. People are busy; they have other priorities, and it’s our job to ensure our clients understand the importance and value of the program.

If a contact goes silent, there are a few options we can try.

Pick up the phone

Your clients are busy people, and many of them probably receive dozens or even hundreds of emails per day. That’s a lot of messages to sort through! While it can be frustrating to not receive a response, it’s possible your contact has more important emails to get through.

Pick up the phone. It’s so simple, yet we often forgot to do it. In the age of technology, everyone is emailing and texting. Talking to someone can go a long way.

Use an email tracker

If your emails aren’t being responded to, maybe you are sending them at the wrong time of day. Even worse, maybe they aren’t even getting to your client’s inbox.

Tools like Yesware and Bananatag show you when a person opens your email, allowing you to see if your emails are being read — and giving you an opportunity to follow up quickly. Did your client just open the email? Send another one while it’s top of mind, or give them a quick call.

Go to the next person

Sometimes, the only option is to go a level up. I only like to use this as a last resort — we certainly don’t want to make anyone look bad, but at the end of the day, the program’s success is tied to our ability to make things happen.

I disagree with you

As a marketing consultant, you typically end up working directly with an organization’s internal marketing team — a marketing team with experienced professionals, brand knowledge and more often than not, a whole lot of opinions.

For agencies, the key to program success is getting buy-in from key decision-makers. The person in charge needs to ensure that their team approves and implements what you are recommending. However, in some cases, the boss will rely on his or her team to make those decisions. And that’s OK. A sign of a good leader is trusting one’s team.

Unfortunately, the team may not always agree with what you are recommending. Perhaps they’ve done it a different way in the past or don’t think it’s worth the effort. How do we change their minds?

Lay out your strategy

It’s no secret that there’s a lack of education in the SEO world, both inside and out. The result? More work on the front end. Instead of just providing a recommendation, make sure you discuss the why. What is the overall goal, and how is this suggestion going to help them get there?

Pick your battles

We provide a lot of recommendations. In many cases, we make recommendations that aren’t going to move the needle significantly but are best practices that will make the site better. Sure, we’d like these implemented — but sometimes it’s okay if they aren’t. We have to pick our battles.

Let’s take ALT text, for example. A few weeks ago, I had a client who disagreed with an ALT text recommendation my team had made. The client wanted to use something else, so they decided they weren’t going to implement our suggestion. And that’s OK — overall, it wasn’t a high-priority task.

In all likelihood, you won’t be able to implement every SEO recommendation you put forth — so be sure to save your fights for the ones that are really going to matter.

Run a test

For efforts that may require additional time and resources, it can be hard to get buy-in. Suggest running a test.

A few months ago, we provided recommendations to improve a client’s product pages. Unfortunately, the client didn’t want to spend the time and effort making the changes. Our suggestion? There’s a new product page launching, so why don’t we try the proposed improvements on that page and see how it performs?

The new page outperformed all the others — and as a result, the team is now ready to go back and revisit the rest of the product section.

Like most things in life, we want reassurances. If we can prove that our recommendations will get results, it makes it much easier to push for others down the line.

We don’t have time

Time. Precious time. How often have you uttered the phrase, “There’s not enough time in the day?” You aren’t alone.

We only have so many hours in our work week, so we have to prioritize the things that matter to us. Unfortunately, SEO isn’t always the top item on your client’s list of things that have to get done. How can we overcome this hurdle?

Agency implementation

We learned a long time ago that if we wanted things done, we needed to do them ourselves. While agency implementation takes time (and trust from the client), it ensures your recommendations are applied and the program can move forward.

Prioritize recommendations

There’s a thing I like to call “deliverable overload.” A client falls behind, but we continue to send out deliverables. Instead of working through them from start to finish, the client gets overloaded and is unsure where to begin.

Make it easier. When a client starts getting behind, the first thing I do is make a list of outstanding deliverables and prioritize them based on what’s going to have the biggest impact on the site and/or what can be done quickly. That makes it easier for the client to sort through our recommendations and start working on them.

Make your case with data

It’s extremely frustrating to have to put together a bad report for your client — especially when you know that the reason for the poor performance is that nothing was actually done.

If you aren’t making any headway, and if you aren’t able to implement the recommendations yourself, start pulling data. What metrics are important to the client? Show them how those metrics are (or are not) being impacted, and explain how your proposed changes can help.

Final thoughts

As search marketers, our jobs are hard. On top of doing great SEO work, we are managing different personalities, dealing with internal company issues and trying to manage our own day. But if we can proactively address the issues above, we can remove some of the biggest impediments to our SEO program’s success.

Duplicate Content- It’s All About Time Management

Google: Duplicate Content Issues Are Rainy Day Tasks

John Mueller from Google has a wonderful response to a question about duplicate content and how to measure how big of an issue it is on your web site. He posted it in the Google Webmaster Help forums.

In short, he called duplicate content issues an issue SEOs can work on, on one of those rainy days. He said Google does a good job dealing with it, and with all the issues you probably have on your site, duplicate content is probably not a primary issue relative to what else you have on your to do list.

Here is what John wrote:

Focusing on artificial metrics like that is not really that critical … Using tools to recognize issues is great, but you need to understand how these tools work, and take their output appropriately. For example, if you’re looking at a new site, it can be useful to get an overview of where potential issues with duplicate content might lie (and for that, crawling the site, using shingles and comparing them – via hash or directly, is a way to get a rough picture). However, when it comes to actually changing things, I’d recommend not blindly focusing on numbers like that and instead reviewing your content manually. “Is the primary content and purpose of these two pages the same? — Can they be combined into a single page?” Sometimes having the same content on multiple pages is desired, it’s certainly not something Google’s algorithms penalize a site for :). For the most part, I’d recommend looking at it as a user, and working your way through the site naturally. You’ll always find things to improve!… and, as always, try to keep a sense of scale in mind. If you’re spending a week only focusing on filtering out some duplicate content, is that really the best use of your time? How relevant will that de-duplication be in 1 month, in 1 year, in 5 years? Google generally does a good job of dealing with these things, so sometimes it’s worth just jotting the issue down in a “rainy day / when someone new comes on board / for the summer intern” list, and instead focusing on the bigger issues in the meantime.

So much here, I enjoyed reading it and wanted to share it with you all.

SOURCE URL: https://www.seroundtable.com

Google Assistant Offering Family Fun Night

Fun is a competitive battleground in the smart speaker race
Google Assistant Offering Family Fun Night

The battle of the smart speakers and home assistants is in full swing. And both Amazon and Google think that gaming and fun will help provide a competitive edge.

Amazon introduced Echo Buttons, which enable families to play Alexa-based games together, in September. Today Google announced a trove of games for families and kids: “[T]he Google Assistant now has more than 50 new games, activities and stories designed for families with kids.” They include trivia, musical chairs, storytelling and more.

Games for Google Assistant are available on Home devices, smartphones and other devices where the Assistant is available. This is also where Google seeks to compete, as a platform across more devices (“ambient computing”) than Amazon can offer.

Google has also made it possible to personalize the Assistant for kids under 13. Home devices can recognize up to six different voices. Accordingly, kids can use the same devices as their parents, but the Assistant will recognize the child’s voice and offer different options and experiences.

Parental controls are powered by “Family Link.” It’s an app that gives parents the ability to manage their kids’ Android device experiences.

SOURCE URL: https://searchengineland.com

Helpful Hints for SEO Neophytes

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Technical SEO is an awesome field. There are so many little nuances to it that make it exciting, and its practitioners are required to have excellent problem-solving and critical thinking skills.

In this article, I cover some fun technical SEO facts. While they might not impress your date at a dinner party, they will beef up your technical SEO knowledge — and they could help you in making your website rank better in search results.

Let’s dive into the list.

1. Page speed matters

Most think of slow load times as a nuisance for users, but its consequences go further than that. Page speed has long been a search ranking factor, and Google has even said that it may soon use mobile page speed as a factor in mobile search rankings. (Of course, your audience will appreciate faster page load times, too.)

Many have used Google’s PageSpeed Insights tool to get an analysis of their site speed and recommendations for improvement. For those looking to improve mobile site performance specifically, Google has a new page speed tool out that is mobile-focused. This tool will check the page load time, test your mobile site on a 3G connection, evaluate mobile usability and more.

2. Robots.txt files are case-sensitive and must be placed in a site’s main directory

The file must be named in all lower case (robots.txt) in order to be recognized. Additionally, crawlers only look in one place when they search for a robots.txt file: the site’s main directory. If they don’t find it there, oftentimes they’ll simply continue to crawl, assuming there is no such file.

3. Crawlers can’t always access infinite scroll

And if crawlers can’t access it, the page may not rank.

When using infinite scroll for your site, make sure that there is a paginated series of pages in addition to the one long scroll. Make sure you implement replaceState/pushState on the infinite scroll page. This is a fun little optimization that most web developers are not aware of, so make sure to check your infinite scroll for  rel=”next” and rel=”prev“ in the code.

4. Google doesn’t care how you structure your sitemap

As long as it’s XML, you can structure your sitemap however you’d like — category breakdown and overall structure is up to you and won’t affect how Google crawls your site.

5. The noarchive tag will not hurt your Google rankings

This tag will keep Google from showing the cached version of a page in its search results, but it won’t negatively affect that page’s overall ranking.

6. Google usually crawls your home page first

It’s not a rule, but generally speaking, Google usually finds the home page first. An exception would be if there are a large number of links to a specific page within your site.

7. Google scores internal and external links differently

A link to your content or website from a third-party site is weighted differently than a link from your own site.

8. You can check your crawl budget in Google Search Console

Your crawl budget is the number of pages that search engines can and want to crawl in a given amount of time. You can get an idea of yours in your Search Console. From there, you can try to increase it if necessary.

9. Disallowing pages with no SEO value will improve your crawl budget

Pages that aren’t essential to your SEO efforts often include privacy policies, expired promotions or terms and conditions.

My rule is that if the page is not meant to rank, and it does not have 100 percent unique quality content, block it.

10. There is a lot to know about sitemaps

  • XML sitemaps must be UTF-8 encoded.
  • They cannot include session IDs from URLs.
  • They must be less than 50,000 URLs and no larger than 50 MB.
  • A sitemap index file is recommended instead of multiple sitemap submissions.
  • You may use different sitemaps for different media types: Video, Images and News.

11. You can check how Google’s mobile crawler ‘sees’ pages of your website

With Google migrating to a mobile-first index, it’s more important than ever to make sure your pages perform well on mobile devices.

Use Google Console’s Mobile Usability report to find specific pages on your site that may have issues with usability on mobile devices. You can also try the mobile-friendly test.

12. Half of page one Google results are now HTTPS

Website security is becoming increasingly important. In addition to the ranking boost given to secure sites, Chrome is now issuing warnings to users when they encounter sites with forms that are not secure. And it looks like webmasters have responded to these updates: According to Moz, over half of websites on page one of search results are HTTPS.

13. Try to keep your page load time to 2 to 3 seconds

Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller recommends a load time of two to three seconds(though a longer one won’t necessarily affect your rankings).

14. Robots.txt directives do not stop your website from ranking in Google (completely)

There is a lot of confusion over the “Disallow” directive in your robots.txt file. Your robots.txt file simply tells Google not to crawl the disallowed pages/folders/parameters specified, but that doesn’t mean these pages won’t be indexed. From Google’s Search Console Help documentation:

You should not use robots.txt as a means to hide your web pages from Google Search results. This is because other pages might point to your page, and your page could get indexed that way, avoiding the robots.txt file. If you want to block your page from search results, use another method such as password protection or noindex tags or directives.

15. You can add canonical from new domains to your main domain

This allows you to keep the value of the old domain while using a newer domain name in marketing materials and other places.

16. Google recommends keeping redirects in place for at least one year

Because it can take months for Google to recognize that a site has moved, Google representative John Mueller has recommended keeping 301 redirects live and in place for at least a year.

Personally, for important pages — say, a page with rankings, links and good authority redirecting to another important page — I recommend you never get rid of redirects.

17. You can control your search box in Google

Google may sometimes include a search box with your listing. This search box is powered by Google Search and works to show users relevant content within your site.

If desired, you can choose to power this search box with your own search engine, or you can include results from your mobile app. You can also disable the search box in Google using the nositelinkssearchbox meta tag.

18. You can enable the ‘notranslate’ tag to prevent translation in search

The “notranslate” meta tag tells Google that they should not provide a translation for this page for different language versions of Google search. This is a good option if you are skeptical about Google’s ability to properly translate your content.

19. You can get your app into Google Search with Firebase app indexing

If you have an app that you have not yet indexed, now is the time. By using Firebase app indexing, you can enable results from your app to appear when someone who’s installed your app searches for a related keyword.

Staying up to date with technical SEO

If you would like to stay up to date with technical SEO, there are a few great places to do that.

  • First, I recommend you watch the videos Barry Schwartz does each week.
  • Second, keep your eye on Search Engine Land.
  • Third, jump on every blog post Google publishes on Google Webmaster Central.
  • Finally, it is always a good idea to jump into a Google Webmaster hangout or simply watch the recording on YouTube.

 

SOURCE URL: https://searchengineland.com

How Blockchain Will Impact SEO

How blockchain will impact search marketing

If you’ve heard of Bitcoin then you most likely have heard of blockchain, the technology that enables Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies to exist and function. The technology is forecast to disrupt many industries as it allows users to conduct transactions without a middleman in a secure and transparent format.

Some of the industries that can potentially be disrupted are car sales, voting, ridesharing, real estate, insurance, sports management, loyalty cards and gun tracking. While the search marketing industry is not as mainstream as the aforementioned industries, it can also be potentially disrupted by blockchain.

Now, before we go any further, this article is not about Bitcoin or other cryptocurrencies. However, if Bitcoin is adopted by large companies such as Amazon or Walmart, it will certainly have an impact on the future of payments between search marketing agencies, website owners, advertisers and others. Contract agreements will also be impacted, as the blockchain could be leveraged for more transparency and accuracy.

What is blockchain

Here is a great definition of blockchain offered by Don and Alex Tapscott, authors of a 2016 book called “Blockchain Revolution”:

The blockchain is an incorruptible digital ledger of economic transactions that can be programmed to record not just financial transactions but virtually everything of value.

In layman’s terms, it’s like a Google Doc spreadsheet that is shared with the public which displays transactions and is tamperproof. Many are considering blockchain to be as impactful as the internet was in the ’90s.

Impact on search engine marketing (SEM)

In the digital marketing world, many central authorities, such as Google and Facebook, connect advertisers with website owners. For example, Google is a central authority in programmatic ads, where it helps advertisers run ads on websites via the Google Display Network. Google essentially is the middleman that helps advertisers and website owners trust each other. If they already trusted each other, they would not need Google as an intermediary taking a cut of the profits.

Enter blockchain, which can verify that every user is genuine with 100 percent accuracy and that the website owner is only charging the advertiser for genuine clicks through to their site. Then the website owner and the advertiser don’t need a middleman to arbitrate their agreement, which would save them both money. Blockchain presents a big threat to Google’s display network revenue.

Blockchain being the unhackable distributed ledger is going to also help reduce online fraud. It will provide transparency for persons involved in a transaction without giving away their personal details, essentially proving they are a real person. Ad fraud is a big problem: It cost advertisers over $7 billion in 2016. A number of players — including Microsoft, the Interactive Advertising Bureau (IAB) and DMA (in partnership with MetaX) —  are already working on blockchain-based digital identification systems.

Impact on search engine optimization (SEO)

As companies start to adopt blockchain, they will need to integrate it within their websites. This involves the web developers as well as the SEOs, if they are trying to gain organic search benefits as well as display the information from the blockchain transactions.

This will present both technical issues and opportunities in which SEOs will have to work alongside developers to resolve compatibility issues with different content management systems and website platforms. I have noticed that the Schema community has already started to work on Schema Markup for blockchain certificates and user ID profiles. Both items are a work in progress and have not yet been published on Schema.org.

Here is a glimpse of what the codes for both items looks like.

Blockchain certificates

The following sample markup (from our company) is in JSON-LD format. Full details can be viewed on GitHub.

Blockchain user ID profiles

The following sample markup is in JSON-LD format. Full details can be viewed on Blockstack and GitHub.

As new blockchains are developed and it is more widely adopted, it will certainly disrupt the search marketing industry in many other ways. For now, search marketers should pay close attention to blockchain as it grows.

Source Url: https://searchengineland.com

 

Changes May be Ahead for Google Search Results

google-testing

Google seems to be testing a new look and user interface for the sitelinks in the Google search results snippets. I had two different people from India send me screen shots on Twitter, including @V_VipinYadav and @himani_kankaria. The new look shows the sitelinks lined up vertically instead of them in a side by side grid format.

Here is a screen shot from Twitter of the normal look on the left and the test interface on the right:

I cannot replicate this, I’ve tried numerous methods and I am out of luck.

In any event, both looks are fine with me – I am not sure which one would be better here.

Source Url: https://www.seroundtable.com

What a Relief!! Disabling Right Click Does NOT Affect Google SEO

Disabling Right Click & Content Selection Doesn't Impact SEO

Google’s John Mueller said on Twitter that disabling the right click on your web pages and/or disabling the ability to select content on your web pages, has no impact on your SEO or rankings.

John did add that doing so is “obnoxious” and “useless” because it is easy to get around those prevention features.

We discussed this topic over 7 years ago but this is the first time we covered Google talking about it.

Do you disable these features? If so, why?

Source Url: https://www.seroundtable.com

Size May Not Matter, But Site Speed Does

Size May Not Matter, But Site Speed Does

In Google’s world, site speed matters. And the search giant is pushing hard on AMP, its open source initiative to improve web page speed and performance for mobile users. But that speed comes at a cost for digital marketers. AMP eliminates scripts — including the scripts that help you track mobile calls.

Join Eric Enge and other AMP experts as they explore AMP’s pros and cons, as well as how leading technology providers are helping marketers identify AMP visitor sessions and track call sources. Implementing AMP doesn’t have to mean losing call tracking and attribution capabilities.

Register today for “5 Steps to AMP Up Your Call Conversions,” produced by Digital Marketing Depot and sponsored by CallTrackingMetrics.

 

Source Url: https://searchengineland.com

For a Higher Ranking on Google You MUST Have High Quality Content

quality-content-writing

Google has long stressed the importance of “high-quality content” but has provided little, if any, help for those seeking to create it. Until now.

Last month, Google’s Developer Relations Group publicly published five different guides aimed at helping its own creators “striving for high-quality documentation.” And “documentation,” when posted online, means digital content.

Now available:

  • Developer Documentation Style Guide
  • HTML/CSS Style Guide
  • JavaScript Style Guide
  • Java Style Guide

To put this in context, consider that these documents represent just a few of the many guides Google uses internally. The information provided is not new, unique, original, or even complete. That said, Google’s Developer Documentation Style Guides are an excellent resource for anyone interested in creating the type of high-quality content that users value and search engines reward.

Each guide reinforces the idea that high-quality pages — the kind that rank well in search — are a combination of high-quality code, content and UX.

Here is a quick overview of Google’s Developer Documentation Style Guide tips for content creators:

  • Use a friendly, conversational tone with a clear purpose — somewhere between the voice you use when talking to your buds and that you’d use if you were a robot.
  • Try to sound like a knowledgeable friend who understands what users want to do.
  • Use standard American spelling, grammar, punctuation and capitalization.
  • Craft clear, concise, short sentences with simple words that users will understand.
  • Implement effective and descriptive link text.
  • Use accessible words and short sentences that will translate well to other languages.
  • Consider numbered lists for sequences of events.
  • Ensure outbound links are to sites that are “high-quality, reliable and respectable.”

Here is a quick overview of Google’s Developer Documentation Style Guide tips for developers/technical creators:

  • Consider SVG files or optimized .png files with ALT text.
  • Use tables and/or lists correctly. For example, only use a table when you have multiple columns of information.
  • Include <strong> or <b> as appropriate — <b> is for visual emphasis and <strong> is for items of strong importance.
  • Select HTTPS for embedded resources when possible, especially images, media files, CSS and scripts.
  • For HTML templates, use HTML5 in UTF-8 without byte order marks (BOMs).
  • Consider three-character hexadecimal notations instead of six characters for colors, as they are shorter and more succinct.
  • Use HTML for structure and CSS for visual style.

Here is a quick overview of areas Google’s Developer Documentation Style Guide suggests to avoid:

  • buzzwords
  • technical jargon
  • slang
  • exclamation points
  • using the word “please” in instructions
  • placeholder phrases like “please note” or “at this time”
  • starting sentences the same way
  • taking metaphors too far
  • using “click here” in link anchor text
  • user-agent detection
  • CSS “hacks”
  • unnecessary ancestor selectors which help improve performance

Of course, these are general guidelines meant for technical content creators and should be interpreted with that fact in mind.

Whatever their original purpose, they provide a window into what factors Google considers essential for high-quality content in general — meaning that marketers and content creators should find these tips highly valuable when undertaking their own projects.

SOURCE URL: https://searchengineland.com

Choose Your Target Audience Wisely

persona-customer-audience

These days, there are so many audience possibilities that it can be confusing to figure out where to begin. Not all audiences are created equal, though — so in this article, I’ll discuss several that we like to use to amplify our marketing efforts. Specifically, I’ll cover similar audiences, Google Analytics smart lists, Google Analytics custom audiences and “AdWords optimized” audiences.

Before getting started, here are some general pointers:

  • Adding a whole bunch of audiences at once may seem tempting, but doing so can cause problems. For example, there could be issues with inappropriate attribution — it may look like you’re getting traction from your new audience targeting campaigns, but it could be a sale you would have gotten anyway from a regular campaign. Naturally, it sometimes takes visitors a few visits before they decide to convert. Also, you could burn through your budget pretty quickly if you’re not careful.
  • Set appropriate date ranges. For RLSA campaigns, we like to use 180 days so we get a good idea of how many people we’re reaching via a particular list. For display remarketing, we go longer (540 days) to capture people making longer-consideration purchases or to capture renewals that occur after a year (like insurance). For the most part, we find that 30-day windows are too short.
  • Set an impression cap. It’s best to consider this on an account-by-account basis. No one appreciates being targeted like crazy!
  • A lot of remarketing does not move the needle. Less is always more. We choose audiences wisely and build them slowly (more on this below).

Here are some of the audience types we’ve been exploring.

Similar audiences

This is a fairly new audience type on the search side. With this, Google creates an audience that’s similar to, say, all converters or all cart checkout visitors. It’s intended to reach new customers — as opposed to RLSA, which targets your existing site visitors based on their previous actions.

People are added to a similar audience list if not already on an RLSA list, and you can add similar audiences to keyword, Shopping or dynamic search ad campaigns. It’s based on similar query behavior in the last 24 hours, so there’s very high recency with these lists.

What we’ve found is there’s a tradeoff between volume and efficiency. Lower-funnel audiences (like all converters) will have fewer conversions than higher-funnel audiences (like people who’ve viewed the cart page). We find we have to add higher-funnel audiences to get significant traction with these campaigns.

We like to slowly add audiences from the bottom to the top of the funnel. It’s an approach that allows us to primarily home in on areas that we think will convert best and methodically gauge what’s working and what’s not working for us.

Google Analytics Smart Lists

Smart Lists are remarketing lists that Google creates for you based on your conversion data in Google Analytics (GA). With this, Google considers various signals like location, device type, browser and so on, and gauges if a user is likely to convert. The list includes users they think will convert relatively soon.

You need to have 10,000 daily page views on your site and 500 monthly transactions for Google to create a list specific to your site. Otherwise, they use proxy data and generate a list based on other (similar) companies’ signals and data. Naturally, a list works better if it’s based on your own data, but it’s still worth testing if it’s a proxy list.

In our testing, Smart Lists using customer data generated a higher ROI than other types of audience lists. In several cases, we saw a 20 percent increase over other list types.

Google Analytics custom audiences

These types of lists are powerful because they can be tied to data available in GA like particular behaviors, time on site and so on. Naturally, there are nearly endless ways in which you can customize audiences. Some of our team’s favorites are listed below.

  • If you have any lifetime value stats, you can build an audience reflecting the profile of your most profitable customers.
  • You could also target people who had a high average order value and haven’t purchased in over a year.
  • Try targeting people who left a review on the site with GA Events.

‘AdWords optimized’ audiences

In your AdWords accounts, click on Shared library, then Audiences. Here, you can see something lurking in there called the “AdWords optimized list,” and it’s described as a “combined audience based on various data sources.”

At this point, many of these pre-created audiences have more traffic available for Display than for Search. In some of our accounts, the traffic we’re seeing is pretty significant and is estimated in the millions (first list below). It’s also worth noting there are audiences “Similar to AdWords optimized list” (second list below).

Naturally, the “AdWords optimized list” would likely convert a lot better than the “Similar to” audience.

Currently, we use AdWords optimized list with CPA bidding to see if we can get some additional conversions on the Display Network. It may prove to not be so effective for direct marketers who want to drive sales, but it may work well for brand-type advertisers.

Source Url: http://searchengineland.com

What is Really, Truly Important in SEO Rankings

This week, Google celebrated its 19th birthday. A lot has changed in nearly two decades. Rather than relying primarily on PageRank to evaluate the quality of web pages, Google now uses a whole array of techniques to suggest a wide range of content in response to queries, from simple direct answers to multimedia audio and video files.

With loads of guesswork and assumptions, the debate about Google ranking factors is never-ending and evolves with every algorithm update. What’s on the rise, what’s on the decline, and what still works?

At SMX East, several sessions look closely at today’s most important ranking considerations. In SEO Ranking Factors In 2017: What’s Important, What’s Not, you’ll hear the results of comprehensive studies undertaken by Searchmetrics and SEMRush, which looked at millions of sites to determine what separated winners from losers. You’ll also hear a case study from Herndon Hasty, SEO for the Container Store, which battles with formidable competition from Amazon, Walmart and other e-commerce giants.

Shari Thurow has been practicing SEO and carefully observing Google since its inception. In her always popular Search Engine-Friendly Web Design session, you’ll learn how to create search engine-friendly sites that are equally appealing to human visitors. And you’ll get juicy insights into critical aspects of SEO, including:

  • Wayfinder sitemaps vs. XML sitemaps
  • guidelines for mobile-friendly URL structure
  • mobile readability tools, techniques and guidelines
  • parallax design & mobile UX: Dos & don’ts

And if you have questions about particular strategies or techniques, be sure to attend the Meet The SEOs session. During this PowerPoint-free panel, veteran SEOs answer your questions about search engine optimization. Got a puzzling issue? Wondering about a possible trend? Put it to the experts.

SOURCE: http://searchengineland.com/

Easy Tips to Build Links Quickly

link-building

Without a solid base of links, your site won’t be competitive in the SERPs — even if you do everything else right. But building your first few links can be difficult and discouraging, especially for new websites. Never fear — Rand is here to share three relatively quick, easy, and tool-free (read: actually free) methods to build that solid base and earn yourself links.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

 

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about how to get those first few links that every website needs to be able to compete. Many folks I know when you get started with link building, it can seem daunting and overwhelming. 

So let me walk you through what is essentially a half a day of work, maybe three or four hours of work to try these three tactics that will almost certainly get your business or your organization the first handful, let’s say 50 links that you need to start being able to compete. Content can you take you a long way. Keywords can take you a long way. Engagement and interaction can take you a long way. But you’ve got to have a base of links. So let’s get started here.

#1. Your brand name, domain name, and founder’s/execs names

The first one is basically looking for links that come from your own name, your brand name, your domain name potentially, and the names of the founders or people who run your company.

Step One: Search Google for the names in quotes.

So if it was me and Moz, you’d be searching for “Rand Fishkin” or “Moz.com” in quotes, not the domain name in the URL field. But in the Google search bar, I’d be searching for “Moz.com” in quotes or “Moz + SEO.” Moz also has other meanings, including the singer Morrissey, which makes for confusing types of things. If you have that, you’ll need to use your brand name plus some sort of signifier or identifier. It’s very rare that Morrissey gets mentioned along with search engine optimization. It’s very often that Moz gets mentioned along with SEO, and so I can combine those to search for it. So any of these searches will result in a big list of tons of Google results.

Step Two: Manually check the top let’s say 50 to 100 results to confirm that…

  1. They link to the right place, and if they don’t, if there are mentions of Rand Fishkin that don’t link to Moz, we should fix that. We’re going to contact those people.
  2. If you can control the anchor text and where the link location points, you can update it. For example, I can go to my LinkedIn. My LinkedIn has a link to Moz. I could update that if I were at a different company or if Moz’s domain name changed, for example when it did change from SEOmoz to just Moz.
  3. If it’s missing or wrong, I find the right people, I email them, and I fix it. As a result, I should have something like this. Every single mention in Google has a link on the page to my website. I can get that from brand name, from domain name, and from founders and executives. That’s a lot of great links.

#2. Sites that list your competition

So this is essentially saying we’re going to…

Step One: Identify your top 5 or 10 most visible on the web competitors.

This is a process that you can go through on your own to identify, well, these are the 5 or 10 that we see on the web very frequently for searches that we wish we competed for, or we see them mentioned in the press a ton, whatever it is.

Step Two: Search Google not for each one individually, but rather for combinations, usually two, three, or four of them all together.

For example, if I were making a new whiteboard pen company, I would look for the existing ones, like Pilot and Expo and Quartet and PandaBoard. I might search for Pilot and PandaBoard first. Then I might search for Pilot and Expo. Then I might search for PandaBoard and Quartet and all these various combinations of these different ones.

Step Three: Visit any sites in the SERPs that list multiple competitors in any sort of format (a directory structure, comparisons, a list, etc.)

Then in each of those cases, I would submit or I would try and contact or get in touch with whoever runs that list and say, “Hey, my company, my organization also belongs on here because, like these other ones you’ve listed, we do the same thing.” So if it’s here’s whiteboard pen brands, Expo, PandaBoard, Quartet, and your site, which should now link to YourSite.com.

This is a little more challenging. You won’t have as high a hit rate as you will with your own brand names. But again, great way to expand your link portfolio. You can usually almost always get 20 or 30 different sites that are listing people in your field and get on those lists.

#3. Sites that list people/orgs in your field, your geography, with your attributes.

This is sites that list people or organizations in a particular field, a particular region, with particular attributes, or some combination of those three. So they’re saying here are European-based whiteboard pen manufacturers or European-based manufacturers who were founded by women.

So you can say, “Aha, that’s a unique attribute, that’s a geography, and that’s my field. I’m in manufacturing. I make whiteboard pens. Our cofounder was a woman, and we are in Europe. So therefore we count in all three of those. We should be on that list.” You’re looking for lists like these, which might not list your competitors, but are high-quality opportunities to get good links.

Step One:

  1. List your organization’s areas of operation. So that would be like we are in technology, or we’re in manufacturing or software or services, or we’re a utility, or we’re finance tech, or whatever we are. You can start from macro and go down to micro at each of those levels.
  2. List your geography in the same format from macro to micro. You want to go as broad as continent, for example Europe, down to country, region, county, city, even neighborhood. There are websites that list, “Oh, well, these are startups that are based in Ballard, Seattle, Washington in the United States in North America.” So you go, “Okay, I can fit in there.”
  3. List your unique attributes. Were you founded by someone whose attributes are different than normal? Moz, obviously my cofounder was my mom, Gillian. So Moz is a cofounded-by-a-woman company. Are you eco-friendly? Maybe you buy carbon credits to offset, or maybe you have a very eco-friendly energy policy. Or you have committed to donating to charity, like Salesforce has. Or you have an all-remote team. Or maybe you’re very GLBTQIA-friendly. Or you have a very generous family leave policy. Whatever interesting attributes there are about you, you can list those and then you can combine them.

Step Two: Search Google for lists of businesses or websites or organizations that have some of these attributes in your region or with your focus.

For example, Washington state venture-backed companies. Moz is a venture-backed company, so I could potentially get on that list. Or the EU-based manufacturing companies started by women, and I could get on that list with my whiteboard pen company based there. You can find lots and lots of these if you sort of take from your list, start searching Google and discover those results. You’ll use the same process you did here.

You know what the great thing about all three of these is? No tools required. You don’t have to pay for a single tool. You don’t have to worry about Domain Authority. You don’t have to worry about any sort of link qualification process or paying for something expensive. You can do this manually by yourself with Google as your only tool, and that will get you some of those first early links.

 

Source: https://moz.com

Is Your SEO Strategy Working?

Columnist Thomas Stern shows how a content audit, when done right, can help you assess whether your content is relevant not only to your brand goals and SEO objectives, but also to the customer’s needs.

content-design-website-mobile

Google has thrown a ton of changes at marketers over the last few years. From major algorithm updates to voice search, all of these changes follow Google’s ultimate goal of creating the best search experience for its users.

The upshot is that it’s not enough to develop and optimize website content for just search engines anymore. As better language processing has become a major focus for improving search results, your brand’s site content is no longer speaking to search engines alone, but to actual people.

To appeal to both people and search engines, brands must evaluate their site content through an audit process to discover what may (or may not) be working and determine where to improve. A website content audit is the cornerstone of your entire content strategy.

When done right, a content audit helps to determine whether your website content is relevant to not only your brand goals and marketing objectives, but also to the customer’s needs. Audits can identify problems with accuracy, consistency, voice and tone; they can also provide direction for SEO.

Review existing content

Not every content audit is the same; it takes familiarity in many different digital marketing channels to set up a framework for success. However, each content audit has a few things in common, like evaluating quantitative and qualitative metrics for each page of a website.

The first step in each content audit is to record all of a website’s existing content. At ZOG Digital, we find it easiest to centralize the data and break out information like URLs, page titles, conversion rates, meta descriptions and so forth in a single spreadsheet to begin our process.

Take the time to evaluate your audience’s search habits and any historical data you have available. Some of the tools we like to use include:

  • Screaming Frog crawls websites’ pages, links and images and allows us to export the data to a spreadsheet.
  • Google Analytics lets us export the success metrics of each page, broken out by marketing channel.
  • Ahrefs allows us to look at the backlink profiles of each of our target pages.

Next, we layer in qualitative data about the page from a brand level and a content quality level. For our clients, we measure key pages against intended audience segments and brand objectives. As you evaluate each page, you should be able to appropriately grade each page and define next steps for them, too.

With each content audit, you need to define problems with your site’s overall health and identify any strengths and weaknesses. If you decide that the content lacks substance or has weak traffic but is essential to the brand, the content needs to be refreshed for current audiences. You’ll begin to see themes in each category page and be able to make informed recommendations for each part of the site.

Content creation for audience segmentation

After defining next steps, you need to be able to execute it effectively for your target audiences. Successful content marketing is all about targeting a niche and then, of course, making the most out of it in terms of engagement and revenue. Through audience segmentation, you can have laser-focused strategies around each audience type.

For an organization with a large B2B audience segment, like GE, product page or case study content may be the most important piece of content for their target audiences. For Nest, an innovative home and security brand, videos and testimonials might be more effective to establish the use case and value.

You have to refine your marketing tactics in a thoughtful manner when it comes to reaching your target audience. While defining, segmenting and prioritizing your audiences, you also need to define what content type will fill in a gap found in your content audit while also resonating your target audience.

This is where many brands will struggle — they need an agile team of experts to solve the problems uncovered by an initial content audit, while also aligning with target audience segments. Upon evaluating all aspects of current site content, you can fill in the gaps and create more appealing verbiage for your target audiences. Few brands have mastered this technique, and it’s key to be aware of their tactics and how they validate success.

For example, Mercedes-Benz ensures that a majority of their content is made for (and visible to) those who are willing to pay for their high-quality cars. However, they know they want to break into a younger demographic of drivers as well. That’s why they also create content and products that fit in with a millennial’s values, like high value for an affordable price, as well as a strong customer-brand relationship.

You’ll notice in the screen shot below that the first feature listed on the page is phone connectivity, rather than features like mileage or horsepower.

screenshot-www.mbusa_.com

Meanwhile, Toyota’s been marketing their Prius Prime. The auto company claims this to be their most advanced hybrid yet, at a more affordable price than luxury car dealers. Toyota uses infographics to target millennials in the market for new cars who also care about energy efficiency.

Sample image

Both car brands use different types of content to target their audiences on a deeper level. Notice that the goal is to focus on educating the consumer — they focus on audience segments before anything else.

It’s critical to take the time to augment the quantitative data by evaluating each page based on what humans value. For content audits, you need to appeal to both people and Google by being descriptive with a human touch. You can use the following tools to evaluate the quality of your content and formulate a clear understanding when it comes to content creation:

  • Google’s definition of high-quality content includes important factors like trustworthiness and expertise.
  • Triblio allows you to create personalized content for multichannel campaigns by persona.
  • Google AdWords Keyword Planner provides information on the interest (search volume) of target topics.
  • HemingwayApp grades pages based on how difficult they are to read.

We recommend doing a content audit every six to 12 months to ensure consistency and effectiveness of your on-site content as people and search engines evolve. An initial content audit will establish a baseline of data and insights to help you improve content quality. The subsequent content audits will then show you how your pages have grown since you implemented changes, as well as pinpointing any weaknesses that should be addressed.

Final thoughts

By developing a comprehensive content strategy around what you uncover with a robust content audit, you’ll be better able to improve your content development methods and have a baseline for any future changes or updates.

 

SOURCE URL: http://searchengineland.com

Simple Rules for Choosing a Domain Name

Getting a domain name doesn’t have to be complicated or expensive.

Domain-Name-Myths

The internet is generally the first place people look for information on just about everything. That’s why when you register a domain name, or several, it’s an important step for making sure businesses can be found — even without a website.

To help eliminate some of the most frequently encountered misconceptions about domain name registration, we’ve addressed a few popular myths:

Myth #1: Domain name registration is difficult

There are tons of great domain names available for registration, and it can take as little as five minutes to register one at any domain name retailer. These online stores make it easy to search for available domain names with name suggestion tools. They also offer complementary services, such as web hosting and website design so you can register a domain name and set up a website all at once.

Myth #2: I only need a domain name if I have a website

A domain name can be used for a variety of purposes. Many people who are not ready for a website simply register the domain name of their choice to ensure it doesn’t get snatched up by anyone else. They may use it to create a professionally branded email address, or as a web address that can point customers to an alternate online presence, such as a social media page, if they don’t yet have a website.

The benefit of registering a domain name and using it in any of these ways is that when you are ready for a website, you know you’ll have the domain name you want.

Myth #3: Domain name registrations are expensive

Many people may not know that a domain name can be registered at very reasonable prices, sometimes for as little as $.99 per year. In fact, the relatively low cost of domain name registrations can help businesses to register multiple domain names and build a domain name portfolio for use in marketing campaigns or brand-protection strategies. The key is to align your brand and relevant keywords to maximize the value your domain name can bring to your existing and future online presence.

Myth #4: Domain name registration equals domain name ownership

Domain name registrations are priced on a subscription-like model that allows a person or business to register that domain name for a certain period of time (usually in annual increments). At the end of the registration period, you (the domain name registrant) have the option to renew the domain name registration for an additional period of time or let it expire. It is important to renew your domain name registration, or you may find that all of your work building traffic and views to your site ends up benefiting someone else (in the instance that someone else registers your domain name after you let your registration expire), and potentially costing you more in rebranding.

Now that we have debunked these myths, remember: A domain name can be your online address, regardless of whether or when you build a website for your online presence. You can use it for branded email or to redirect to another web location of your choice.

Domain name registrations are affordable. In some cases, they may be registered for as little as $.99 per year. Once you register a domain name, you may continue to hold the registration by renewing it, usually in annual increments.

Bottom line: It’s important to secure or maintain your online brand today, so you can be ready for tomorrow.

 

SOURCE URL: http://searchengineland.com

Google Finally Updated Their Local Proximity Filter Algorithm

Have you noticed a recent shift in Google’s local search results? Columnist Joy Hawkins shares everything you need to know about the ‘Hawk’ update, which seems to have killed some of the changes we saw with Possum.

google-local-hawk-update

I recently reported on an algorithm update impacting the local results that happened on August 22, 2017. This was a strictly-local update, from what I can tell so far, which means that it had no impact on the non-local organic results.

What changed?

The update, which I have dubbed “Hawk,” was a change to the way the local filter works. To get some history here, Google actively filters out listings from the local results that are similar to other listings that rank already. Basically, Google picks the most relevant listing of the bunch and filters the rest. It’s very similar to what they do organically with duplicate content. (Note: Google is typically loath to confirm algorithm updates, usually only saying that it rolls out several updates every day, so these observations are based on an analysis of how local results have changed rather than on any official announcement or acknowledgment.)

The filter has existed for a long time to help ensure that multiple listings for the same company don’t monopolize the search results. In September 2016, the Possum algorithm update made a significant change to the way the filter works. Instead of just filtering out listings that shared the same phone number or website, Google started filtering out listings that were physically located near each other.

This was very problematic for businesses. It meant that if another business in your industry was in the same building as you — or even down the street from you — that could cause you to get filtered out of local search results. Yep, that means your competitors could (inadvertently) bump your listing!

On August 22, 2017, Google refined the proximity filter to make it stricter. It still appears to be filtering out businesses in the same building, but it is not filtering out as many businesses that are close by.

Who this helped

Here is an example of a business I was tracking that benefited from this update. Weber Orthodontics got filtered after the Possum algorithm update for the term “orthodontist wheaton il” due to the fact that they had a competitor down the street — 325 feet from where they were located. This competitor had a higher organic ranking and stronger relevance to that keyword, so they were included in the results, and Weber was filtered out.

Weber-Orthodontics

Here is a before-and-after screen shot that shows how the local results changed as a result of the Hawk update; notice how Weber was completely missing from the results a few months ago.

Hawk-Local-Algo-Update

I was able to nail down the exact date this happened because I have a robust tracking plan with BrightLocal that scans daily and takes screen shots. After studying multiple, completely unrelated cases, I was able to confirm that all cases had this same pattern on August 22.

Another example was this set of four hotels in Killeen, Texas. Previously, two of the four were filtered.

Filtered-Results

Now, following the Hawk update, all four are showing.

Hotels-Killeen

Who is still filtered?

Naturally, this update didn’t help everyone. Although it tightened the distance needed to filter a similar listing, it didn’t remove it completely. I’m still seeing listings that share an address or building being filtered out of local search results. I also see the filtering problem persisting for a business that is in a different building that’s around 50 feet away from a competitor.

Below, you can see that the local results for “personal injury attorney palmdale” — an example I shared in my Possum article — are still filtering out many attorney listings using the same virtual office address. (All the listings in red share the same address as the listing in green and are filtered as a result.)

possum-filter-august-22

Why ‘Hawk?’

The local search community settled on the name “Hawk” for this algorithm update, because hawks eat possums. This is one of the few times where I don’t see any negative outcomes as a result of this update and just wish Google hadn’t taken a year to realize the proximity filter was way too broad.

 

SOURCE URL: http://searchengineland.com/

Finally Google Fixed Google Reminders Feature

google-reminder

Google has finally fixed the set a reminder feature in Google search. We first reported the issue a few weeks ago and I’ve been tracking it since and as of yesterday, last night specifically, the feature started working again.

In short, you can go to Google and search for [set a reminder] or something like [remind me to do X] or something similar and Google will let you set the reminder directly in search. The reminder will be added to your Google Calendars and Google reminders feature.

Here are screen shots of it working this morning in Google search:

google-set-a-reminder

remind-me-at-google

Andy B from Google wrote in the ongoing Google Webmaster Help thread:

Great news! I can confirm this issue should now be fixed for all users. Many thanks again for your reports and continued patience while we worked to resolve this.

If you’re still running into problems creating reminders on Chrome desktop, please read through this help center article outlining common reasons why you may not be seeing the option.

 

SOURCE URL: https://www.seroundtable.com

Protect your Google Analytics Data

Google Analytics data-security

The digital space has given marketers massive reach and capability. But with that power comes responsibility, along with an obligation to protect data that can be recognized as personally identifiable information (PII). Recurring audits and safeguards built into your technical layer are critical to ensuring that PII doesn’t pass into your Google Analytics.

Read Cardinal Path’s guide to data security and privacy for:

  • best practices for mitigating risks of PII and limiting chances of common occurrences.
  • tips on assessing whether you have PII present within your GA account.
  • approaches to auditing and solutions for resolving the issues of PII.

 

SOURCE URL: http://searchengineland.com