Search Engine News

A Search Engine Marketing News Site

Image Link Building – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

Image link building is a delicate art. There are some distinct considerations from traditional link building, and doing it successfully requires a balance of creativity, curiosity, and having the right tools on hand. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Moz’s own SEO and link building aficionado Britney Muller offers up concrete advice for successfully building links via images.

http://ift.tt/2CqptuT

http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

Image Link Building

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

http://ift.tt/2o9SIz9

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re going to go over all things image link building, which is sort of an art. I’m so excited to dig into this with you.

Know your link targets

So first and foremost, you need to know your link targets:

I. Popular industry platforms – top pages

What are those top platforms or websites that you would really like to acquire a link from? Then, from there, you can start to understand who might be influencers on those platforms, who’s writing the content, who might you contact, and also what are the top pages currently for those sites. There are a number of tools that give you a glimpse into that information. Moz’s OSE, Open Site Explorer, will show you top pages. SEMrush has a top page report. SimilarWeb has a popular page report. You can dig into all that information there, really interesting stuff.

II. Old popular images – update!

You can also start to dig into old, popular images and then update them. So what are old popular images within your space that you could have an opportunity to revamp and update? A really neat way to sort of dig into some of that is BuzzSumo’s infographics filter, and then you would insert the topic. You enter the industry or the topic you’re trying to address and then search by the infographics to see if you can come across anything.

III. Transform popular content into images

You can also just transform popular content into images, and I think there is so much opportunity in doing that for new statistics reports, new data that comes out. There are tons of great opportunities to transform those into multiple images and leverage that across different platforms for link building.

IV. Influencers

Again, just understanding who those influencers are.

Do your keyword research

So, from here, we’re going to dive into the keyword research part of this whole puzzle, and this is really understanding the intent behind people searching about the topic or the product or whatever it might be. Something you can do is evaluate keywords with link intent. This is a brilliant concept I heard about a couple weeks back from Dan Shure’s podcast. Thank you, Dan. Essentially it’s the idea that keywords with statistics or facts after the keyword have link intent baked into the search query. It’s brilliant. Those individuals are searching for something to reference, to maybe link to, to include in a presentation or an article or whatever that might be. It has this basic link intent.

Another thing you want to evaluate is just anything around images. Do any of your keywords and pictures or photos, etc. have good search volume with some opportunities? What does that search result currently look like? You have to evaluate what’s currently ranking to understand what’s working and what’s not. I used to say at my old agency I didn’t want anyone writing any piece of content until they had read all of the 10 search results for that keyword or that phrase we were targeting. Why would you do that until you have a full understanding of how that looks currently and how we can make something way better?

Rand had also mentioned this really cool tip on if you find some keywords, it’s good to evaluate whether or not the image carousel shows up for those searches, because if it does, that’s a little glimpse into the searcher intent that leads to images. That’s a good sign that you’re on the right track to really optimize for a certain image. It’s something to keep in mind.

Provide value

So, from here, we’re going to move up to providing value. Now we’re in the brainstorming stage. Hopefully, you’ve gotten some ideas, you know where you want to link from, and you need to provide value in some way. It could be a…

I. Reference/bookmark Maybe something that people would bookmark, that always works.

II. Perspective is a really interesting one. So some of the most beautiful data visualizations do this extremely well, where they can simplify a confusing concept or a lot of data. It’s a great way to leverage images and graphics.

III. Printouts still work really well. Moz has the SEO Dev Cheat Sheet that I have seen printed all over at different agencies, and that’s really neat to see it adding value directly.

IV. Curate images. We see this a lot with different articles. Maybe the top 25 to 50 images from this tradeshow or this event or whatever it might be, that’s a great way to leverage link building and kind of getting people fired up about a curated piece of content.

Gregory Ciotti — I don’t know if I’m saying that right — has an incredible article I suggest you all read called “Why a Visual Really Is Worth a Thousand Words,” and he mentions don’t be afraid to get obvious. I love that, because I think all too often we tend to overthink images and executing things in general. Why not just state the obvious and see how it goes? He’s got great examples.

Optimize

So, from here, we are going to move into optimization. If any of you need a brush-up on image optimization, I highly suggest you check out Rand’s Whiteboard Friday on image SEO. It covers everything. But some of the basics are your…

Title

You want to make sure that the title of the image has your keyword and explains what it is that you’re trying to convey.

Alt text

This was first and foremost designed for the visually impaired, so you need to be mindful of visually impaired screen readers that will read this to people to explain what the image actually is. So first and foremost, you just need to be helpful and provide information in a descriptive way to describe that image.

Compression

Compression is huge. Page speed is so big right now. I hear about it all the time. I know you guys do too. But one of the easiest ways to help page speed is to compress those huge images. There’s a ton of great free tools out there, like Optimizilla, where you can bulk upload a bunch of large images and then bulk download. It makes it super easy. There are also some desktop programs, if you’re doing this kind of stuff all the time, that will automatically compress images you download or save. That might be worth looking into if you do this a lot.
You want to host the image. You want it to live on your domain. You want to house that. You can leverage it on other platforms, but you want sort of that original to be on your site.

SRCSET

Source set attribute is getting a little technical. It’s super interesting, and it’s basically this really incredible image attribute that allows you to set the minimum browser size and the image you would prefer to show up for different sizes. So you can not only have different images show up for different devices in different sizes, but you can also revamp them. You can revamp the same image and serve it better for a mobile user versus a tablet, etc. Jon Henshaw has some of the greatest stuff on source set. Highly suggest you look at some of his articles. He’s doing really cool things with it. Check that out.

Promotion

So, from here, you want to promote your images. You obviously want to share it on popular platforms. You want to reach back out to some of these things that you might have into earlier. If you updated a piece of content, make them aware of that. Or if you transformed a really popular piece of content into some visuals, you might want to share that with the person who is sharing that piece of content. You want to start to tap into that previous research with your promotion.

Inform the influencers

Ask people to share it. There is nothing wrong with just asking your network of people to share something you’ve worked really hard on, and hopefully, vice versa, that can work in return and you’re not afraid to share something a connection of yours has that they worked really hard on.

Monitor the image SERPs

From here, you need to monitor. One of the best ways to do this is Google reverse image search. So if you go to Google and you click the images tab, there’s that little camera icon that you can click on and upload images to see where else they live on the web. This is a great way to figure out who is using your image, where it’s being held, are you getting a backlink or are you not. You want to keep an eye on all of that stuff.

Two other tools to do this, that I’ve heard about, are Image Raider and TinEye. But I have not had great experience with either of these. I would love to hear your comments below if maybe you have.

Reverse image search with Google works the best for me. This is also an awesome opportunity for someone to get on the market and create a Google alert for images. I don’t think anyone is actually doing that right now. If you know someone that is, please let me know down below in the comments. But it could be a cool business opportunity, right? I don’t know.

So for monitoring, let’s say you find your image is being used on different websites. Now you need to do some basic outreach to get that link. You want to request that link for using your image.

This is just a super basic template that I came up with. You can use it. You can change it, do whatever you want. But it’s just:

Hi, [first name].
Thank you so much for including our image in your article. Great piece. Just wondering if you could link to us.com as the source.
Thanks,
Britney

Something like that. Something short, to the point. If you can make it more personalized, please do so. I can’t stress that enough. People will take you way more seriously if you have some nugget of personal information or connection that you can make.

From there, you just sort of stay in this loop. After you go through this process, you need to continue to promote your content and continue to monitor and do outreach and push that to maximize your link building efforts.
So I hope you enjoyed this. I look forward to hearing all of your comments and thoughts down below in the comments. I look forward to seeing you all later. Thanks for joining us on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. Thanks.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog http://ift.tt/2AKzXYK

Advertisements

Top 10: Best Video Editing Software for Beginners

If video isn’t already an important part of your content marketing strategy, odds are it’s about to be. Web content is taking a turn toward video whether SEOs and content marketers like it or not. Nearly 50% of marketers are adding YouTube and Facebook channels for video distribution in the next year; one third of online activity is spent watching video; and video itself is projected to account for more than 80% of all internet traffic by 2019. 80%!

For those looking to continue to grow their organic traffic, that means one thing:

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Moneyball

Not an expert? Don’t have a video studio, or a bona fide video specialist to shoot and cut your features? That’s alright! The goal of today’s blog is to show you that with the right video editing software, you too can churn out sleek, professional video content—regardless of experience—and keep your content strategy ahead of the curve.

Let’s dive in! Here are our top 10 best pieces of video editing software for beginners—from cheapest (i.e. free!) to most expensive.

1. Apple iMovie 

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners iMovie

Ok—so to those of you working with PCs, this one won’t really apply; but we’d remiss to leave it off the list. If you’re looking for simplicity and elegance, it doesn’t get much better than Apple iMovie. iMovie’s ten high-fidelity filters are some of the classiest in the video editing game; and if you’re shooting on your iPhone, or have been editing a project on your iPad, you can use AirDrop to wirelessly and seamlessly transfer your project over to your Mac.

One of iMovie’s most coveted features is its green-screen, or “chroma-key” tool, which allows you to place your characters in exotic locations—Hawaii, say—at a moment’s notice. Want to overlay the scene with “Somewhere Over the Rainbow”? iMovie ties directly in with iTunes and GarageBand, so you can easily implement custom tracks and sounds. When your movie’s finally ready to ship, release it into the wild using iMessage, Facebook, YouTube, or any other of iMovie’s succinctly connected platforms.

Standout Features: Seamless Apple product integration; green-screen; audio and social platform integration

Pricing: Free with the purchase of a Mac

2. Lumen5

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Lumen5

We’ll put this more in the category of a video editing “tool” than video editing software, but for social media marketers who want to create fun, flashy social promos in the blink of an eye, Lumen5 is a no brainer. Here’s a short little feature we made for a recent blog post, 14 Fun & Festive Holiday Marketing Ideas for 2017:  

Lumen5 markets itself as a tool that turns blog posts into social promos. While the process isn’t perfect, and you’ll likely have to do some tinkering to get your blog content looking just the way you want it, the rest of the video creation process is a cinch. Merely refine some copy that teases your blog post; drag and drop some gifs, screengrabs, or video clips; add some music; and your engaging social video will be ripe for Facebook and Twitter.

Standout Features: Blog-to-social-promo creation; drag-and-drop interface

Pricing: Create as many 480p videos as you want with the free version; or, for $50 per month, upgrade to 1080p HD.

3. Nero Video

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Nero

One of the cheaper options around ($49.99), Nero Video holds its own on this list—it comes well-stocked with a lot of the tricks and effects you’ll find among other products vying for video editing supremacy, and as far as software for beginners, you can certainly do worse. If you’re going to spend money on video editing software, however, you might want to steer clear. Nero just doesn’t have the speed and functionality of some of the other products listed here, and if it’s value proposition is its price, $50 is still not all that cheap.  

Standout Features: Low pricing

Pricing: One-time payment of $49.99

4. Corel VideoStudio

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Corel

Corel VideoStudio has all the characteristics of the other top-of-the-line products on this list, including 360-degree VR and 4k support, but it also has the distinction of being the first piece of consumer video editing software to offer motion tracking—which, if you’re not already familiar, is a feature that allows you to track specific objects throughout your cut (if you wanted, say, to point an arrow at one of your characters, blur out his face, or bestow him with a funny hat). Most of the products on this list come equipped with motion tracking, but VideoStudio still boasts one of the best motion tracking systems around.

One of the knocks on VideoStudio is its speed, which lags notably behind some of the faster systems on this list, like CyberLink PowerDirector and Pinnacle Studio. Still: for a one-time payment of $51.99? You can do much worse.

Standout Features: Motion tracking

Pricing: One-time payment of $51.99

5. Filmora from Wondershare

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Filmora

When it comes to free video editing software, Filmora is about as multi-faceted as they come. Filmora is Wondershare’s standard, simple, high-quality video editing offering; but Wondershare also offers FilmoraGo (for mobile editing) and Filmora Scrn (for screen recording and editing). The design is intuitive and easy to use, and comes replete with filters, overlays, motion elements, transitions, and a small selection of royalty-free music. Here are a few more of the “basics” Filmora offers: 

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Filmora

4k and gif support are boilerplate features for most video editing products today, but one thing Filmora does particularly well is titles. Title tools are trending in video software, and while Filmora’s doesn’t have the functionality of say, an Apple Final Cut Pro X, which can superimpose 3D titles over your videos and rotate them on three axes, it nonetheless has some snazzy titling features for the money you’re spending:  

Another Filmora feature beginners to video editing will find attractive is “Easy Mode,” which allows you to create fun, polished edits by merely dragging and dropping clips, choosing a theme, and selecting music.

Standout features: Title tool; mobile and screen editing; “Easy Mode”

Pricing: Starts at $59.99 for a lifetime license; or, $39.99 for a year.

6. CyberLink PowerDirector

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners PowerDirector

So—we stretched the meaning of “software” a bit earlier; now, we’re going to stretch the meaning of “beginner.” We included CyberLink PowerDirector on this list because its interface is, at the end of the day, pretty straightforward. Head to the product page, run through the tutorials, and you’ll be alright. There is within the interface, however, an embarrassment of options and effects. If you’re not willing to invest the time in learning all of them, it can get a bit overwhelming. 

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Cyberlink

Don’t be scared of CyberLink’s extra features; just be wary of your commitment level!

In terms of rendering, PowerDirector is regarded as one of the fastest video editing systems around. It also operates consistently in the sphere of the innovative and cutting edge. PowerDirector led the charge in the switch to 4k, and today, it’s one of the first systems to support 360-degree virtual reality footage.   

Price: you get what you pay for! $79.99 gets you unlimited access to one of the most capable pieces of video editing software around.

Standout Features: Lightning-fast rendering; comprehensive suite of effects

Pricing: One-time payment of $79.99

7. Adobe Premiere Elements

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Premiere Elements

We include Premiere Elements on the list mostly because it’s been an industry leader in the video editing game for some time. And $79.99 is not egregious, but we’re here to say that at that price, you’re mostly paying for the name. In the time since Premiere Elements’ inception, too many other products have surpassed it in speed and capability for us to place it among the cream of the crop. That’s to take nothing away from Premiere Elements’ usability, though—specifically for beginners.

The Guided Edits feature makes Adobe Premiere a particularly attractive option for beginners, as it allows them to take on both quick edits and advanced projects with substantial assistance from the software.  

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Premiere Elements 2

If you’re not entirely sure what you’re doing, don’t sleep on Guided Edits!

So while Premiere Elements lags behind the competition in terms of speed, 3D editing, multi-cam, and some other advanced features, it’s still a great choice for the beginner looking for a comprehensive suite of effects, and some guidance on how to implement them.

Standout Features: Guided Edits; simple interface

Pricing: One-time payment of $79.99

8. Pinnacle Studio

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Pinnacle

At the higher end of the Corel product line is Pinnacle Studio—which, at $129.95 (the amount you’ll need to pay to edit 360-degree and 4k content with the “Ultimate” version), costs more than twice as much as VideoStudio. What do you get for the extra money? Well, not only does Pinnacle come readily equipped with all the features you’d expect from an upper-echelon product—motion tracking, 360-degree VR support, 4k support, multi-cam, etc.—but you’d be hard-pressed to find a faster product on the market in terms of rendering.

For all of its features, Pinnacle’s interface is still as user-friendly and intuitive as anything on this list. Thus, is you have the need for speed, and you don’t mind shelling out a few extra bucks for it, Pinnacle might be the product for you.

Standout Features: Top-of-the-line rendering speeds; full range of features and support

Pricing: One-time payment of $129.95

9. Adobe Premiere Pro

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Premiere Pro

With a virtually unmatched suite of features, 360 VR and 4k support, and a newly implemented ability to store, organize, and share assets online with a team, Adobe Premiere Pro is perhaps the most complete piece of video editing software around. Here’s a recent video promo for our free AdWords account structure guide we cut using Premiere Pro:  

http://ift.tt/2ky7WsP

One of the more dazzling of Premiere Pro’s tools is the Lumetri Color tool, which offers color adjustment and manipulation on par with that of a Photoshop. The multi-cam feature is also a winner—whereas most systems allow you to work with a limited number of camera angles, Premiere Pro’s latest iteration allows for an unlimited amount.  

Throw in a wealth of titling options, readily connected ancillary apps (like Photoshop and After Effects), and a flexible, easy-to-use interface, and Premiere Pro is a no brainer.

Standout Features: Multi-cam and coloring options; title tool; easy integration with Adobe Products; straightforward interface

Pricing: $19.99/month

10. Apple Final Cut Pro X

Best Video Editing Software for Beginners Apple Final

For the most advanced, least fiscally prudent of beginners, there’s Apple Final Cut Pro X. $299.99 might be a little steep for a product you may well have a difficult time understanding; but for those among you who enjoy a challenge, and who aspire to some level of professionalism in video editing, why not go for it? Apple has made the transition from iMovie to Final Cut Pro more painless than ever—so if you’re the kind of guy or gal who enjoys him/herself an Apple product, and has worked with iMovie to the point of mastery, it might be time to splurge on Final Cut Pro. The power is still daunting; the interface, significantly less so.   

Standout Features: Magnetic Timeline; Touch Bar support

Pricing: One-time payment of $299.99

Some Final Thoughts

Are you a content or social media marketer looking to get in the video editing game for the sake of keeping up with the growing video trend? Don’t stress! Any of the above products would make a fine choice for a beginner.

Think about your budget, your current level of expertise, and how much time you’re willing to devote to learning a new skill. If the responsibility has fallen on you to get your team’s video marketing strategy up to snuff, or if you’ve taken that responsibility upon yourself, that’s a good thing! Don’t wait around deliberating—get invested in one of these video editing products, and make it yours.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2jYBfoE

Introducing New & Improved Success Reports for Cross-Platform Campaign Analysis

Over and over again, we’ve heard from our clients, both advertisers and agencies, that reporting is a pain. When we run informal polls before webinars, reporting is usually named as one of the top two time sucks for marketers.

To make matters worse, it’s particularly difficult and time-consuming to get a clear picture of performance across multiple ad platforms, where native reporting metrics are often apples to oranges. You have to:

  • Pull data from multiple sources
  • Compile it and try to make sense of different metrics
  • Analyze and interpret success to make recommendations
  • Share all that information across the business

It’s hard enough for any single business, but it’s decidedly one of the most inefficient and dreaded tasks for agencies. And according to HubSpot, “agency staffers spend around four or five hours per client each month reporting on digital.” The more clients you have, the more that adds up and gets in the way of all the other work you have to do.

WordStream Advisor new Success Reports activity graph

In our quest to make online advertising easier for all our clients, we just released new and improved Success Reports in WordStream Advisor that compile results from all your online platforms in one place and give you the big picture of your success. Hallelujah!

Introducing the New Success Reports

WordStream Advisor new Success Reports cross platform report

If you’re a WordStream customer, this is what you’ll see in your account as of today. The new Success Report provides:

  • A single version of the truth – You’ll immediately see a single-source, easy-to-interpret funnel view of key metrics across all your ad platforms.
  • Highly customizable data slices – Include or exclude campaigns or platforms at will.
  • Aggregate spend, impressions and performance across platforms – At a glance you can see how performance for each metric has changed.

How the New Success Reports Work

As always, Success Reports are included in WordStream Advisor as your default reporting; if you’re already a customer, you don’t need to do anything to get access to the new reports.

The Success Report pulls in campaign data from all of your connected platforms including Google AdWords (search, display, shopping, video, and universal app campaigns), Bing Ads, and Facebook Ads (including Instagram placements).

The key metrics your Success Report includes for each platform are:

  • Spend
  • Impressions
  • Clicks
  • Conversions
  • Click-through rate (CTR)
  • Conversion Rate
  • Cost per acquisition (CPA)

If you’ve got Easy Tracking in place, the report also pulls all the leads you’ve generated together, whether those leads were from phone calls, landing pages or directly from your Facebook lead ads.

WordStream Advisor new Success Reports leads graph

The Performance Funnel in your Success Report is a “big picture” view of your performance. You can start by seeing topline aggregate performance results across platforms and then drill down by platform for a more detailed view.

Once you drill down, you’ll see unique reporting elements for each platform. For example, when you’re looking at your AdWords results, you’ll see a word cloud of your top-performing keywords (our clients LOVE this feature!).

WordStream Advisor new Success Reports top performing keywords list

You’ll see your Quality Score health for Search platforms in both AdWords and Bing.

WordStream Advisor new Success Reports AdWords performance funnel report

For Facebook, you’ll see results by campaign objective along with your top performing posts.

WordStream Advisor new Success Reports top objectives by spend

Your reports are fully customizable – you can include or remove any section and add your own analysis and insights as desired. This is a great feature for agencies who might want to annotate reports before sending to clients – and as a bonus, you can also white-label the report or add your own agency logo.

Finally, the Success Report can be scheduled automatically or produced as a one-off report whenever needed.

Benefits of the New Success Reports

Why did we revamp these reports? To make reporting and analysis easier and more effective for you, our clients! Starting today, we feel confident you’ll see these benefits:

  • Agencies will discover dramatically improved workflows and efficiencies – you’ll spend more time on client strategy and growing your business, less time on mindless data aggregation.
  • You’ll easily and intuitively share reports across your business or agency with a modern, concise design.
  • Reporting will actually be an enjoyable part of your job – not something to dread every week!

As mentioned, if you’re a customer, you’ll find the new Success Report in your account today. Please let us know what you think!

Not a customer? No problem. See how it works for yourself with a free trial of WordStream Advisor

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2yt2b4x

Moz the Monster: Anatomy of An (Averted) Brand Crisis

Posted by Dr-Pete

On the morning of Friday, November 10, we woke up to the news that John Lewis had launched an ad campaign called “Moz the Monster“. If you’re from the UK, John Lewis needs no introduction, but for our American audience, they’re a high-end retail chain that’s gained a reputation for a decade of amazing Christmas ads.

It’s estimated that John Lewis spent upwards of £7m on this campaign (roughly $9.4M). It quickly became clear that they had organized a multi-channel effort, including a #mozthemonster Twitter campaign.

From a consumer perspective, Moz was just a lovable blue monster. From the perspective of a company that has spent years building a brand, John Lewis was potentially going to rewrite what “Moz” meant to the broader world. From a search perspective, we were facing a rare possibility of competing for our own brand on Google results if this campaign went viral (and John Lewis has a solid history of viral campaigns).

Step #1: Don’t panic

At the speed of social media, it can be hard to stop and take a breath, but you have to remember that that speed cuts both ways. If you’re too quick to respond and make a mistake, that mistake travels at the same speed and can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, creating exactly the disaster you feared.

The first step is to get multiple perspectives quickly. I took to Slack in the morning (I’m two hours ahead of the Seattle team) to find out who was awake. Two of our UK team (Jo and Eli) were quick to respond, which had the added benefit of getting us the local perspective.

Collectively, we decided that, in the spirit of our TAGFEE philosophy, a friendly monster deserved a friendly response. Even if we chose to look at it purely from a pragmatic, tactical standpoint, John Lewis wasn’t a competitor, and going in metaphorical guns-blazing against a furry blue monster and the little boy he befriended could’ve been step one toward a reputation nightmare.

Step #2: Respond (carefully)

In some cases, you may choose not to respond, but in this case we felt that friendly engagement was our best approach. Since the Seattle team was finishing their first cup of coffee, I decided to test the waters with a tweet from my personal account:

I’ve got a smaller audience than the main Moz account, and a personal tweet as the west coast was getting in gear was less exposure. The initial response was positive, and we even got a little bit of feedback, such as suggestions to monitor UK Google SERPs (see “Step #3”).

Our community team (thanks, Tyler!) quickly followed up with an official tweet:

While we didn’t get direct engagement from John Lewis, the general community response was positive. Roger Mozbot and Moz the Monster could live in peace, at least for now.

Step #3: Measure

There was a longer-term fear – would engagement with the Moz the Monster campaign alter Google SERPs for Moz-related keywords? Google has become an incredibly dynamic engine, and the meaning of any given phrase can rewrite itself based on how searchers engage with that phrase. I decided to track “moz” itself across both the US and UK.

In that first day of the official campaign launch, searches for “moz” were already showing news (“Top Stories”) results in the US and UK, with the text-only version in the US:

…and the richer Top Stories carousel in the UK:

The Guardian article that announced the campaign launch was also ranking organically, near the bottom of page one. So, even on day one, we were seeing some brand encroachment and knew we had to keep track of the situation on a daily basis.

Just two days later (November 12), Moz the Monster had captured four page-one organic results for “moz” in the UK (at the bottom of the page):

While it still wasn’t time to panic, John Lewis’ campaign was clearly having an impact on Google SERPs.

Step #4: Surprises

On November 13, it looked like the SERPs might be returning to normal. The Moz Blog had regained the Top Stories block in both US and UK results:

We weren’t in the clear yet, though. A couple of days later, a plagiarism scandal broke, and it was dominating the UK news for “moz” by November 18:

This story also migrated into organic SERPs after The Guardian published an op-ed piece. Fortunately for John Lewis, the follow-up story didn’t last very long. It’s an important reminder, though, that you can’t take your eyes off of the ball just because it seems to be rolling in the right direction.

Step #5: Results

It’s one thing to see changes in the SERPs, but how was all of this impacting search trends and our actual traffic? Here’s the data from Google Trends for a 4-week period around the Moz the Monster launch (2 weeks on either side):

The top graph is US trends data, and the bottom graph is UK. The large spike in the middle of the UK graph is November 10, where you can see that interest in the search “moz” increased dramatically. However, this spike fell off fairly quickly and US interest was relatively unaffected.

Let’s look at the same time period for Google Search Console impression and click data. First, the US data (isolated to just the keyword “moz”):

There was almost no change in impressions or clicks in the US market. Now, the UK data:

Here, the launch spike in impressions is very clear, and closely mirrors the Google Trends data. However, clicks to Moz.com were, like the US market, unaffected. Hindsight is 20/20, and we were trying to make decisions on the fly, but the short-term shift in Google SERPs had very little impact on clicks to our site. People looking for Moz the Monster and people looking for Moz the search marketing tool are, not shockingly, two very different groups.

Ultimately, the impact of this campaign was short-lived, but it is interesting to see how quickly a SERP can rewrite itself based on the changing world, especially with an injection of ad dollars. At one point (in UK results), Moz the Monster had replaced Moz.com in over half (5 of 8) page-one organic spots and Top Stories – an impressive and somewhat alarming feat.

By December 2, Moz the Monster had completely disappeared from US and UK SERPs for the phrase “moz”. New, short-term signals can rewrite search results, but when those signals fade, results often return to normal. So, remember not to panic and track real, bottom-line results.

Your crisis plan

So, how can we generalize this to other brand crises? What happens when someone else’s campaign treads on your brand’s hard-fought territory? Let’s restate our 5-step process:

(1) Remember not to panic

The very word “crisis” almost demands panic, but remember that you can make any problem worse. I realize that’s not very comforting, but unless your office is actually on fire, there’s time to stop and assess the situation. Get multiple perspectives and make sure you’re not overreacting.

(2) Be cautiously proactive

Unless there’s a very good reason not to (such as a legal reason), it’s almost always best to be proactive and respond to the situation on your own terms. At least acknowledge the situation, preferably with a touch of humor. These brand intrusions are, by their nature, high profile, and if you pretend it’s not happening, you’ll just look clueless.

(3) Track the impact

As soon as possible, start collecting data. These situations move quickly, and search rankings can change overnight in 2017. Find out what impact the event is really having as quickly as possible, even if you have to track some of it by hand. Don’t wait for the perfect metrics or tracking tools.

(4) Don’t get complacent

Search results are volatile and social media is fickle – don’t assume that a lull or short-term change means you can stop and rest. Keep tracking, at least for a few days and preferably for a couple of weeks (depending on the severity of the crisis).

(5) Measure bottom-line results

As the days go by, you’ll be able to more clearly see the impact. Track as deeply as you can – long-term rankings, traffic, even sales/conversions where necessary. This is the data that tells you if the short-term impact in (3) is really doing damage or is just superficial.

The real John Lewis

Finally, I’d like to give a shout-out to someone who has felt a much longer-term impact of John Lewis’ succesful holiday campaigns. Twitter user and computer science teacher @johnlewis has weathered his own brand crisis year after year with grace and humor:

So, a hat-tip to John Lewis, and, on behalf of Moz, a very happy holidays to Moz the Monster!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog http://ift.tt/2AkPudO

7 Hard Truths About SEO in 2018

Are you aiming to make a seismic impact on your organic visibility in 2018?

Google and the wider industry have dropped many hints as to what will have the biggest impact in 2018. With all the noise, it can be difficult to see where to put your focus.

With that in mind, here’s our take on the six most important truths you need to accept along with the biggest SEO mistakes you need to avoid in the coming year.

how to do seo in 2018

1. Google’s mobile-first index is already here

Originally announced in 2016, Google has already started rolling out their mobile-first index. This essentially means that Google will rank mobile versions of content, or whatever content would perform best on mobile devices, over non-mobile content. This has been a long time coming, especially since Google reported that more searches are made on mobile way back in 2015.

However, Google has confirmed that websites that are not ready for the mobile-first index won’t be moved across just yet. In other words, you have a bit more time to prepare your website.

Here are some focus points to help get you there for 2018:

  • Move away from m-dot. Google recommends switching to a responsive design as opposed to maintaining a separate mobile website.
  • Create consistent content for mobile and desktop users. This means not hiding or creating different content for specific devices.
  • Check out Google’s mobile-friendly testing tool to make sure your site promotes a positive experience for mobile users.
  • Whether it’s mobile or desktop, I cannot over-stress the importance of page load speed, and I’m positive that SEO experts around the world universally agree. Make sure you capitalise on site-wide opportunities such as browser-caching and image optimisation to boost content load speed on mobile. We all know it’s a ranking signal, but Neil Patel’s data below demonstrates a clear correlation between speed and position.

seo in 2018 strategy

Site speed vs. search engine ranking, via Neil Patel

2. You can’t neglect the influence of machine learning

Briefly, RankBrain is Google’s machine learning system that measures how searchers interact with their results pages. As one of Google’s top three ranking signals, RankBrain helps it determine search rankings along with content and backlink quality.

In 2018, put focus into two areas that RankBrain analyses to help determine rankings – click through rates and dwell time.

Optimising your organic click-through rates can provide significant gains. High-ranking keywords with poor CTRs in the Search Analytics section of Google Search Console are vulnerable to losing their rankings. Prioritise keywords in the top 5 with CTRs below 10% and refine with more enticing titles and description tags.

Dwell time is the period between clicking on a page in the Google search results and returning back to the search results – very similar to bounce rate, but only taking the user’s return to the SERP into consideration. As an indicator to RankBrain of user intent and engagement, take the time to identify pages within Google Analytics with high exit rates from organic visitors. Address the quality of the content and intent match to better retain searchers.

3. You can’t over-rely on guest blogging for links

Above all, it’s important to remember that SEO is primarily about content and links. This isn’t going to change in 2018, and the recent study below confirms this.

backlinks in 2018

Number of backlinks vs. Google position, via Backlinko

Content must be at the foundation of your link building strategy. If your content is bad, you won’t get links. It’s that simple.

If there’s one area of focus for 2018, it’s don’t rely heavily on churning out guest posting. While building links through guest posts still works and will continue to be effective in 2018, a return of one or two links for each article may not warrant the investment.

Instead, focus on creating content for your own site that has the potential to be picked up by influencers in your industry and adds real value. We’re drowning in content and it’s often to see dozens of blogs covering the same topic with the same level of depth. If you’re not adding anything new, why would people link to it?

link building in 2018

Via Brandwatch

Use 2018 as the opportunity to start adding real value to your audience. Also take the time to:

  • Identify existing content that has gathered great results, and make it better. If there’s an authoritative article on link building in 2018, why not turn it into an Infographic or an interactive piece? Both Buzzsumo and Ahrefs provide insight into what content has gathered decent traction. Export the data, and pick out popular pieces that could be updated or improved on.
  • Scan knowledge bases and community hubs such as Quora. Listen out for common frustrations that your target audience shares, and create content to remedy them. Also consider investing in a social listening tool such as Hootsuite to gain further insight into what’s hot, and what’s your audience is talking about.

Traditional sources of link building are still relevant and still get results. So be sure to monitor and capitalise on native and competitor broken links and brand mentions.

4. It’s time to kill your thin, poor quality content

It’s always important to remember that Google’s objective is to show searchers the best result, and the algorithms keep changing to serve that objective. This will continue to be the case in 2018 and beyond.

There is a clear correlation between content depth and rankings, as shown in the findings of a study undertaken by Backlinko below.

word count vs. google rank

If you’ve noticed key pages slipping down the rankings, it’s important to address depth, and whether it’s still relevant. It’s also very likely that someone else has done a better job at addressing the topic since you wrote it.

For in-depth pieces such as guides and articles, always aim for 2,000 words, and kill any content that’s old, irrelevant and doesn’t contribute anything to your website in terms of authority and traffic. This is known as pruning, and I highly recommend auditing legacy content to find pages that don’t make the grade (i.e., no little to no organic traffic or links). However, always attempt to improve the content before cutting away completely.

5. You must actively optimize for featured snippets

Nearly 30% of Google’s search results contain a featured snippet according to a recent study undertaken by Stone Temple. In addition, Stone Temple’s study revealed that featured snippets significantly impact the CTR’s of traditional organic search results below them.

More SERPs are being dominated by featured snippets, knowledge graphs and rich snippets as Google continues to generate a more visual information source beyond the traditional organic results. Throw text ads, product ads and image results into the mix, and your organic listings are going to slide further down the pages.

Here are some actions you can take to ramp up your content’s visibility in featured snippets:

  • Identify page one rankings that currently don’t occupy a featured snippet in the SERP. This is your opportunity to jump in for some quick-wins.
  • Update and optimise old but authoritative content on your website for featured snippets. Check out this study to find the sweet spot triggering featured snippets.
  • Add Quora, Reddit and Answer the Public to your keyword research tool kit to identify questions that your audience is asking, and create new content around these.

6. Voice search shouldn’t be an afterthought

Voice search has been the one to watch since 2011, but the increasing adoption of virtual assistants and smart speakers have upped the game significantly. It’s been reported that voice-enabled smart speakers will reach 55% of US households by 2022.

seo for voice search

If voice search isn’t on your agenda, take a look at these statistics:

  • 60% of people using voice search have started in the last year
  • 40% of adults now use voice search once per day
  • Prediction: 50% of all searches will be voice searches by 2020

For those relatively new to voice search, here’s a few tips to best optimise your content for voice search:

  • Buy a virtual assistant or smart speaker such as Google Home or Amazon Echo if you haven’t already to get a handle on exactly how they work.
  • As previously highlighted, invest time in optimising content that currently ranks on page one to appear for a featured snippet.
  • Use tools such as Answer the Public to identify conversation queries and create new content around these.
  • Structure relevant content to include a question and answer. This would particularly apply to blog posts and FAQ content.

Google has hinted that they will be introducing better voice search reporting to Search Console. Hopefully we’ll see this come to light in 2018 along with more granular voice search reporting in Analytics, perhaps.

7. Video is a necessary investment

Video has exploded and well and truly really taken off in 2017. This is reflected in some mind-melting industry statistics, including:

In a recent study by STAT, the number of video carousels appearing in Google’s SERPs has nearly doubled.

video seo 2018

Video carousels per rank via STAT

What does this mean? Google is paying more attention to video and placing it in prime real estate on the SERPs. If you’re not currently embracing video marketing and incorporating it into your strategy, now is the time to step up your game.

There are many opportunities to explore for video, including:

  • Explainer videos
  • Product demos
  • Video testimonials
  • Video blogging
  • Live video such as webinars and interviews

Don’t just stop with YouTube. Create and share video content on other platforms such as Vimeo and Dailymotion. Share on social media platforms Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn as they continue to better accommodate video in user feeds. Above all, take more opportunities to drive visibility and attract natural links with video.

How is your SEO strategy evolving in 2018?

About the author

As Digital Marketing Manager at Hallam Internet, Tom plans and delivers digital marketing strategies for key B2B and B2C clients in addition to leading a team of specialists. His expertise is within SEO, Paid Search & Content Marketing.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2j1FaAi

Keyword Research Beats Nate Silver’s 2016 Presidential Election Prediction

Posted by BritneyMuller

100% of statisticians would say this is a terrible method for predicting elections. However, in the case of 2016’s presidential election, analyzing the geographic search volume of a few telling keywords “predicted” the outcome more accurately than Nate Silver himself.

The 2016 US Presidential Election was a nail-biter, and many of us followed along with the famed statistician’s predictions in real time on FiveThirtyEight.com. Silver’s predictions, though more accurate than many, were still disrupted by the election results.

In an effort to better understand our country (and current political chaos), I dove into keyword research state-by-state searching for insights. Keywords can be powerful indicators of intent, thought, and behavior. What keyword searches might indicate a personal political opinion? Might there be a common denominator search among people with the same political beliefs?

It’s generally agreed that Fox News leans to the right and CNN leans to the left. And if we’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that the news you consume can have a strong impact on what you believe, in addition to the confirmation bias already present in seeking out particular sources of information.

My crazy idea: What if Republican states showed more “fox news” searches than “cnn”? What if those searches revealed a bias and an intent that exit polling seemed to obscure?

The limitations to this research were pretty obvious. Watching Fox News or CNN doesn’t necessarily correlate with voter behavior, but could it be a better indicator than the polls? My research says yes. I researched other media outlets as well, but the top two ideologically opposed news sources — in any of the 50 states — were consistently Fox News and CNN.

Using Google Keyword Planner (connected to a high-paying Adwords account to view the most accurate/non-bucketed data), I evaluated each state’s search volume for “fox news” and “cnn.”

Eight states showed the exact same search volumes for both. Excluding those from my initial test, my results accurately predicted 42/42 of the 2016 presidential state outcomes including North Carolina and Wisconsin (which Silver mis-predicted). Interestingly, “cnn” even mirrored Hillary Clinton, similarly winning the popular vote (25,633,333 vs. 23,675,000 average monthly search volume for the United States).

In contrast, Nate Silver accurately predicted 45/50 states using a statistical methodology based on polling results.

Click for a larger image

This gets even more interesting:

The eight states showing the same average monthly search volume for both “cnn” and “fox news” are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.

However, I was able to dive deeper via GrepWords API (a keyword research tool that actually powers Keyword Explorer’s data), to discover that Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Ohio each have slightly different “cnn” vs “fox news” search averages over the previous 12-month period. Those new search volume averages are:

“fox news” avg monthly search volume

“cnn” avg monthly search volume

KWR Prediction

2016 Vote

Arizona

566333

518583

Trump

Trump

Nevada

213833

214583

Hillary

Hillary

New Mexico

138833

142916

Hillary

Hillary

Ohio

845833

781083

Trump

Trump

Pennsylvania

1030500

1063583

Hillary

Trump

Four out of five isn’t bad! This brought my new prediction up to 46/47.

Silver and I each got Pennsylvania wrong. The GrepWords API shows the average monthly search volume for “cnn” was ~33,083 searches higher than “fox news” (to put that in perspective, that’s ~0.26% of the state’s population). This tight-knit keyword research theory is perfectly reflected in Trump’s 48.2% win against Clinton’s 47.5%.

Nate Silver and I have very different day jobs, and he wouldn’t make many of these hasty generalizations. Any prediction method can be right a couple times. However, it got me thinking about the power of keyword research: how it can reveal searcher intent, predict behavior, and sometimes even defy the logic of things like statistics.

It’s also easy to predict the past. What happens when we apply this model to today’s Senate race?

Can we apply this theory to Alabama’s special election in the US Senate?

After completing the above research on a whim, I realized that we’re on the cusp of yet another hotly contested, extremely close election: the upcoming Alabama senate race, between controversy-laden Republican Roy Moore and Democratic challenger Doug Jones, fighting for a Senate seat that hasn’t been held by a Democrat since 1992.

I researched each Alabama county — 67 in total — for good measure. There are obviously a ton of variables at play. However, 52 out of the 67 counties (77.6%) 2016 presidential county votes are correctly “predicted” by my theory.

Even when giving the Democratic nominee more weight to the very low search volume counties (19 counties showed a search volume difference of less than 500), my numbers lean pretty far to the right (48/67 Republican counties):

It should be noted that my theory incorrectly guessed two of the five largest Alabama counties, Montgomery and Jefferson, which both voted Democrat in 2016.

Greene and Macon Counties should both vote Democrat; their very slight “cnn” over “fox news” search volume is confirmed by their previous presidential election results.

I realize state elections are not won by county, they’re won by popular vote, and the state of Alabama searches for “fox news” 204,000 more times a month than “cnn” (to put that in perspective, that’s around ~4.27% of Alabama’s population).

All things aside and regardless of outcome, this was an interesting exploration into how keyword research can offer us a glimpse into popular opinion, future behavior, and search intent. What do you think? Any other predictions we could make to test this theory? What other keywords or factors would you look at? Let us know in the comments.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog http://ift.tt/2yiF9NK

5 Must-Have Tools to Help Manage Your Digital Marketing Agency

The key to running a successful agency is to utilise relevant tools and software to manage and automate as many areas of the business as possible, enabling you to focus on the needs of each of your clients. Having great tools in place to help you and your senior team manage areas such as operations, resourcing, CRM and reporting will free up your team to focus on adding value for your clients.

In this post, I’ve put together a list of tools and technology to help you out in areas that are essential in ensuring your agency runs smoothly, so that you can stay focused on your customers.

1. File Storage: Google Drive & File Stream

There are multiple ways of managing files within an agency, but the priorities for any agency owner must be ease of access, security and simple file syncing options.

With Google Drive, agencies can rely on a cloud-based method of storing files. Google Drive allows staff to easily sync files saved on various machines via Google Drive File Stream.

Google Drive (and Docs) is built for collaboration, which makes it the perfect fit for agency working. Whenever a change is made to a file on Google Drive, the previous version is automatically updated, so everyone is accessing the latest version no matter whether you’re accessing it from your iPhone or PC:

 digital marketing agency tool google drive

With Google Drive, your entire agency can also share folders internally or with external clients or contacts while maintaining administrative control themselves:

 digital marketing agency tool google sheets

Of course, you will want to ensure you consider adding an extra layer of security as there will no doubt be client-sensitive information contained within some of the files. Google has this covered via a range of options including:

What if something gets changed or deleted by accident?

If you want to revert to a previous version or undelete a file, you can easily do this in Google Drive or in any Google doc:

agency tool google file restore previous versions 

You can also restore deleted files via the Google Drive admin console.

2. CRM & Agency Management: Podio

Customer relationship management is crucial to running a successful agency. As your agency grows, you’ll need a robust system that will help you to manage data relating to previous, existing and potential clients.

As an agency, you should be looking to implement a CRM system that offers the following features:

  • Ability to easily store and maintain accurate client information
  • Ability to track and manage client communication
  • Tracking billing information, managing invoicing and billing contacts
  • The ability for people across the agency to view up to date client information and information related to client specific projects

At Hallam, we have utilised a project management tool called Podio to build a customised CRM & Project Management workspace that our entire company can access. This space allows us to manage client data, contacts at each organisation we have on record, track client projects, billable and non-billable hours, request resources from multiple areas of the business and create mailing lists from the data we have on record to hook up with Mailchimp.

 agency management software crm podio

 

As a digital agency, you need to keep a close eye on how you and your team spend, bill, and manage time. Podio allows you to build custom apps to track this data and associate it to other apps via the use of relationship fields and automated workflows. For example, all of our client projects link up with apps such as billable hours, non-billable hours and financial forecasts. This ensures we have everything related to each project accessible in a single place:

agency management software podio 

Like a lot of agencies, we started with an Excel spreadsheet to track hours, which can obviously be quite time-consuming (and often painful) to maintain accurate data, especially as we have grown. For anyone still using this approach I would strongly encourage you to test out customisable tools such as Podio which will enable you to mould a system to the needs of your business.

3. Project Management: Basecamp

Every agency needs to manage client projects, and there are a number of simple project management tools that can significantly increase your employees’ ability to get work done quickly.

basecamp agency project management tool 

Basecamp is an excellent project management tool that makes collaboration really easy both internally and with clients. Basecamp revolves around a few simple functions:

  • To-do lists – These should be time bound and allocated to members of each Basecamp project. Basecamp also allows users to attach files to to-do items and send lists to clients for updates and approval
  • File sharing – Having all files related to a project referenced in a project workspace is hugely useful and avoids having to dig around in file storage platforms to find what you’re looking for. Basecamp allows users to link to files and documents on Google Drive.
  • Chatting (campfire) – This option should be used for informal chats around client projects.
  • Message board – Updates on projects can be posted here instead of being sent via email, keeping an audit trail within the project workspace instead of information being lost within emails.
  • Scheduling – Basecamp has a calendar function which syncs up with most major third-party calendars such as Outlook, iCal and Google Calendar. To-do’s with dates are automatically added to schedules, meaning they can appear in your calendar of choice if synced.
  • Automatic check-in requests – Automatic check-ins allow you to set milestones for each client project and ping reminders to everyone involved at key milestones.

Using Basecamp gives you full transparency, working away from email and in clearly visible workspaces which clients can be added to. That being said, there can be a clear separation between “agency side” and “client side” in Basecamp which enables seamless but safe communication that’s visible to agency managers.

One of the huge benefits of Basecamp is that it’s vastly simpler than most other project management systems. We trialled using Podio for clients by creating individual client workspaces and almost all clients found it hard to understand, including those that are tech savvy. Basecamp essentially means that clients just have to respond to an email for everyone to get visibility over the discussion.

In my experience, it’s an excellent tool for collaborating with clients, getting sign-off on various tasks and tracking client communication. You can even hook Basecamp up with CRM systems (such as Podio) via Zapier, enabling agencies to maintain a single customer view.

4. Resource Planning: Podio & HighCharts

Knowing the capacity of your workforce is at the core of managing your projects and enabling your sales team to successfully bring in new clients.

Beyond just having visibility into projects and their associated billable hours, it’s important for agency owners to understand:

  • Employee utilisation by individual, team, and department
  • Non-billable hours spent on client projects (over-servicing)
  • Non-billable hours put into pre-sales activity and conversion rate of that activity

Your team and their time are your most important assets, so it’s up to you and your project managers to ensure they’re focusing their attention on the right projects and tasks. Finding software that enables you to have a clear view of staff availability and utilisation can help manage workloads and empower recruitment decisions.

In my opinion this information should be captured in any agency CRM system, which for us means it’s captured within Podio. There are then a number of third-party tools which can help extract and visualise data from most popular CRM or agency management systems.

One tool which I can highly recommend for this purpose is Highcharts. Highcharts allows us to extract data from Podio and visualise it in a range of customisable graphs to report on areas such as utilisation and capacity and split it up by individual, team, department across a variety of date ranges.

 agency tools for planning and reporting

We also use Highcharts to report on our business KPIs in our monthly senior management team meetings, again extracting the data from our CRM system and visualising it using Highcharts.

If you’re already collecting data in these areas then why not give Highcharts a try to see if it could help you better track performance across your agency?

5. Client Reporting: Google Sheets & Data Studio

We have in the past used Google sheets for all of our client reporting by hooking it up to extract and display our client’s Google Analytics data.

 agency client reporting tools google data studio

This solution delivered huge time savings vs. pulling manual reports, while allowing us to set up highly customisable analytics dashboards for each of our clients, providing them with a concise overview of their performance at all times which is automatically updated each month.

You can read more about how to set this up here.

What are Your Favourite Agency Tools?

This post has covered a few essential tools we use to manage our marketing agency. There are of course plenty of other tools that we use as an agency to help our management team keep the business running smoothly.

We’d love to hear from other agency owners and managers about the tools you’re using to help manage your agency – please use the comments section below.

About the author

Ben Wood is Marketing Services Director at Hallam Internet. Ben has worked in digital marketing for over 8 years and gained client side experience at a blue chip corporation before moving to a high growth digital agency in 2012.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2AvQxeW

Not-Actually-the-Best Local SEO Practices

Posted by MiriamEllis

It’s never fun being the bearer of bad news.

You’re on the phone with an amazing prospect. Let’s say it’s a growing appliance sales and repair provider with 75 locations in the western US. Your agency would absolutely love to onboard this client, and the contact is telling you, with some pride, that they’re already ranking pretty well for about half of their locations.

With the right strategy, getting them the rest of the way there should be no problem at all.

But then you notice something, and your end of the phone conversation falls a little quiet as you click through from one of their Google My Business listings in Visalia to Streetview and see… not a commercial building, but a house. Uh-oh. In answer to your delicately worded question, you find out that 45 of this brand’s listings have been built around the private homes of their repairmen — an egregious violation of Google’s guidelines.

“I hate to tell you this…,” you clear your throat, and then you deliver the bad news.

marketingfoundations1.jpg

If you do in-house Local SEO, do it for clients, or even just answer questions in a forum, you’ve surely had the unenviable (yet vital) task of telling someone they’re “doing it wrong,” frequently after they’ve invested considerable resources in creating a marketing structure that threatens to topple due to a crack in its foundation. Sometimes you can patch the crack, but sometimes, whole edifices of bad marketing have to be demolished before safe and secure new buildings can be erected.

Here are 5 of the commonest foundational marketing mistakes I’ve encountered over the years as a Local SEO consultant and forum participant. If you run into these in your own work, you’ll be doing someone a big favor by delivering “the bad news” as quickly as possible:

1. Creating GMB listings at ineligible addresses

What you’ll hear:

“We need to rank for these other towns, because we want customers there. Well, no, we don’t really have offices there. We have P.O. Boxes/virtual offices/our employees’ houses.”

Why it’s a problem:

Google’s guidelines state:

  • Make sure that your page is created at your actual, real-world location
  • PO Boxes or mailboxes located at remote locations are not acceptable.
  • Service-area businesses—businesses that serve customers at their locations—should have one page for the central office or location and designate a service area from that point.

All of this adds up to Google saying you shouldn’t create a listing for anything other than a real-world location, but it’s extremely common to see a) spammers simply creating tons of listings for non-existent locations, b) people of good will not knowing the guidelines and doing the same thing, and c) service area businesses (SABs) feeling they have to create fake-location listings because Google won’t rank them for their service cities otherwise.

In all three scenarios, the brand puts itself at risk for detection and listing removal. Google can catch them, competitors and consumers can catch them, and marketers can catch them. Once caught, any effort that was put into ranking and building reputation around a fake-location listing is wasted. Better to have devoted resources to risk-free marketing efforts that will add up to something real.

What to do about it:

Advise the SAB owner to self-report the problem to Google. I know this sounds risky, but Google My Business forum Top Contributor Joy Hawkins let me know that she’s never seen a case in which Google has punished a business that self-reported accidental spam. The owner will likely need to un-verify the spam listings (see how to do that here) and then Google will likely remove the ineligible listings, leaving only the eligible ones intact.

What about dyed-in-the-wool spammers who know the guidelines and are violating them regardless, turning local pack results into useless junk? Get to the spam listing in Google Maps, click the “Suggest an edit” link, toggle the toggle to “Yes,” and choose the radio button for spam. Google may or may not act on your suggestion. If not, and the spam is misleading to consumers, I think it’s always a good idea to report it to the Google My Business forum in hopes that a volunteer Top Contributor may escalate an egregious case to a Google staffer.

2. Sharing phone numbers between multiple entities

What you’ll hear:

“I run both my dog walking service and my karate classes out of my house, but I don’t want to have to pay for two different phone lines.”

-or-

“Our restaurant has 3 locations in the city now, but we want all the calls to go through one number for reservation purposes. It’s just easier.”

-or-

“There are seven doctors at our practice. Front desk handles all calls. We can’t expect the doctors to answer their calls personally.”

Why it’s a problem:

There are actually multiple issues at hand on this one. First of all, Google’s guidelines state:

  • Provide a phone number that connects to your individual business location as directly as possible, and provide one website that represents your individual business location.
  • Use a local phone number instead of a central, call center helpline number whenever possible.
  • The phone number must be under the direct control of the business.

This rules out having the phone number of a single location representing multiple locations.

Confusing to Google

Google has also been known in the past to phone businesses for verification purposes. Should a business answer “Jim’s Dog Walking” when a Google rep is calling to verify that the phone number is associated with “Jim’s Karate Lessons,” we’re in trouble. Shared phone numbers have also been suspected in the past of causing accidental merging of Google listings, though I’ve not seen a case of this in a couple of years.

Confusing for businesses

As for the multi-practitioner scenario, the reality is that some business models simply don’t allow for practitioners to answer their own phones. Calls for doctors, dentists, attorneys, etc. are traditionally routed through a front desk. This reality calls into question whether forward-facing listings should be built for these individuals at all. We’ll dive deeper into this topic below, in the section on multi-practitioner listings.

Confusing for the ecosystem

Beyond Google-related concerns, Moz Local’s awesome engineers have taught me some rather amazing things about the problems shared phone numbers can create for citation-building campaigns in the greater ecosystem. Many local business data platforms are highly dependent on unique phone numbers as a signal of entity uniqueness (the “P” in NAP is powerful!). So, for example, if you submit both Jim’s Dog Walking and Jim’s Bookkeeping to Infogroup with the same number, Infogroup may publish both listings, but leave the phone number fields blank! And without a phone number, a local business listing is pretty worthless.

It’s because of realities like these that a unique phone number for each entity is a requirement of the Moz Local product, and should be a prerequisite for any citation building campaign.

What to do about it:

Let the business owner know that a unique phone number for each business entity, each business location, and each forward-facing practitioner who wants to be listed is a necessary business expense (and, hey, likely tax deductible, too!). Once the investment has been made in the unique numbers, the work ahead involves editing all existing citations to reflect them. The free tool Moz Check Listing can help you instantly locate existing citations for the purpose of creating a spreadsheet that details the bad data, allowing you to start correcting it manually. Or, to save time, the business owner may wish to invest in a paid, automated citation correction product like Moz Local.

Pro tip: Apart from removing local business listing stumbling blocks, unique phone numbers have an added bonus in that they enable the benefits of associating KPIs like clicks-to-call to a given entity, and existing numbers can be ported into call tracking numbers for even further analysis of traffic and conversions. You just can’t enjoy these benefits if you lump multiple entities together under a single, shared number.

3. Keyword stuffing GMB listing names

What you’ll hear:

“I have 5 locations in Dallas. How are my customers supposed to find the right one unless I add the neighborhood name to the business name on the listings?”

-or-

“We want customers to know we do both acupuncture and massage, so we put both in the listing name.”

-or-

“Well, no, the business name doesn’t actually have a city name in it, but my competitors are adding city names to their GMB listings and they’re outranking me!”

Why it’s a problem:

Long story short, it’s a blatant violation of Google’s guidelines to put extraneous keywords in the business name field of a GMB listing. Google states:

  • Your name should reflect your business’ real-world name, as used consistently on your storefront, website, stationery, and as known to customers.
  • Including unnecessary information in your business name is not permitted, and could result in your listing being suspended.

What to do about it:

I consider this a genuine Local SEO toughie. On the one hand, Google’s lack of enforcement of these guidelines, and apparent lack of concern about the whole thing, makes it difficult to adequately alarm business owners about the risk of suspension. I’ve successfully reported keyword stuffing violations to Google and have had them act on my reports within 24 hours… only to have the spammy names reappear hours or days afterwards. If there’s a suspension of some kind going on here, I don’t see it.

Simultaneously, Google’s local algo apparently continues to be influenced by exact keyword matches. When a business owner sees competitors outranking him via outlawed practices which Google appears to ignore, the Local SEO may feel slightly idiotic urging guideline-compliance from his patch of shaky ground.

But, do it anyway. For two reasons:

  1. If you’re not teaching business owners about the importance of brand building at this point, you’re not really teaching marketing. Ask the owner, “Are you into building a lasting brand, or are you hoping to get by on tricks?” Smart owners (and their marketers) will see that it’s a more legitimate strategy to build a future based on earning permanent local brand recognition for Lincoln & Herndon, than for Springfield Car Accident Slip and Fall Personal Injury Lawyers Attorneys.
  2. I find it interesting that, in all of Google’s guidelines, the word “suspended” is used only a few times, and one of these rare instances relates to spamming the business title field. In other words, Google is using the strongest possible language to warn against this practice, and that makes me quite nervous about tying large chunks of reputation and rankings to a tactic against which Google has forewarned. I remember that companies were doing all kinds of risky things on the eve of the Panda and Penguin updates and they woke up to a changed webscape in which they were no longer winners. Because of this, I advocate alerting any business owner who is risking his livelihood to chancy shortcuts. Better to build things for real, for the long haul.

Fortunately, it only takes a few seconds to sign into a GMB account and remove extraneous keywords from a business name. If it needs to be done at scale for large multi-location enterprises across the major aggregators, Moz Local can get the job done. Will removing spammy keywords from the GMB listing title cause the business to move down in Google’s local rankings? It’s possible that they will, but at least they’ll be able to go forward building real stuff, with the moral authority to report rule-breaking competitors and keep at it until Google acts.

And tell owners not to worry about Google not being able to sort out a downtown location from an uptown one for consumers. Google’s ability to parse user proximity is getting better every day. Mobile-local packs prove this out. If one location is wrongly outranking another, chances are good the business needs to do an audit to discover weaknesses that are holding the more appropriate listing back. That’s real strategy – no tricks!

4. Creating a multi-site morass

What you’ll hear:

“So, to cover all 3 or our locations, we have greengrocerysandiego.com, greengrocerymonterey.com and greengrocerymendocino.com… but the problem is, the content on the three sites is kind of all the same. What should we do to make the sites different?”

-or-

“So, to cover all of our services, we have jimsappliancerepair.com, jimswashingmachinerepair.com, jimsdryerrepair.com, jimshotwaterheaterrepair.com, jimsrefrigeratorrepair.com. We’re about to buy jimsvacuumrepair.com … but the problem is, there’s not much content on any of these sites. It feels like management is getting out of hand.”

Why it’s a problem:

Definitely a frequent topic in SEO forums, the practice of relying on exact match domains (EMDs) proliferates because of Google’s historic bias in their favor. The ranking influence of EMDs has been the subject of a Google updateand has lessened over time. I wouldn’t want to try to rank for competitive terms with creditcards.com or insurance.com these days.

But if you believe EMDs no longer work in the local-organic world, read this post in which a fellow’s surname/domain name gets mixed up with a distant city name and he ends up ranking in the local packs for it! Chances are, you see weak EMDs ranking all the time for your local searches — more’s the pity. And, no doubt, this ranking boost is the driving force behind local business models continuing to purchase multiple keyword-oriented domains to represent branches of their company or the variety of services they offer. This approach is problematic for 3 chief reasons:

  1. It’s impractical. The majority of the forum threads I’ve encountered in which small-to-medium local businesses have ended up with two, or five, or ten domains invariably lead to the discovery that the websites are made up of either thin or duplicate content. Larger enterprises are often guilty of the same. What seemed like a great idea at first, buying up all those EMDs, turns into an unmanageable morass of web properties that no one has the time to keep updated, to write for, or to market.
  2. Specific to the multi-service business, it’s not a smart move to put single-location NAP on multiple websites. In other words, if your construction firm is located at 123 Main Street in Funky Town, but consumers and Google are finding that same physical address associated with fences.com, bathroomremodeling.com, decks.com, and kitchenremodeling.com, you are sowing confusion in the ecosystem. Which is the authoritative business associated with that address? Some business owners further compound problems by assuming they can then build separate sets of local business listings for each of these different service-oriented domains, violating Google’s guidelines, which state:

    Do not create more than one page for each location of your business.

    The whole thing can become a giant mess, instead of the clean, manageable simplicity of a single brand, tied to a single domain, with a single NAP signal.

  1. With rare-to-nonexistent exceptions, I consider EMDs to be missed opportunities for brand building. Imagine, if instead of being Whole Foods at WholeFoods.com, the natural foods giant had decided they needed to try to squeeze a ranking boost out of buying 400+ domains to represent the eventual number of locations they now operate. WholeFoodsDallas.com, WholeFoodsMississauga.com, etc? Such an approach would get out of hand very fast.

Even the smallest businesses should take cues from big commerce. Your brand is the magic password you want on every consumer’s lips, associated with every service you offer, in every location you open. As I recently suggested to a Moz community member, be proud to domain your flower shop as rossirovetti.com instead of hoping FloralDelivery24hoursSanFrancisco.com will boost your rankings. It’s authentic, easy to remember, looks trustworthy in the SERPs, and is ripe for memorable brand building.

What to do about it:

While I can’t speak to the minutiae of every single scenario, I’ve yet to be part of a discussion about multi-sites in the Local SEO community in which I didn’t advise consolidation. Basically, the business should choose a single, proud domain and, in most cases, 301 redirect the old sites to the main one, then work to get as many external links that pointed to the multi-sites to point to the chosen main site. This oldie but goodie from the Moz blog provides a further technical checklist from a company that saw a 40% increase in traffic after consolidating domains. I’d recommend that any business that is nervous about handling the tech aspects of consolidation in-house should hire a qualified SEO to help them through the process.

5. Creating ill-considered practitioner listings

What you’ll hear:

“We have 5 dentists at the practice, but one moved/retired last month and we don’t know what to do with the GMB listing for him.”

-or-

“Dr. Green is outranking the practice in the local results for some reason, and it’s really annoying.”

Why it’s a problem:

I’ve saved the most complex for last! Multi-practitioner listings can be a blessing, but they’re so often a bane that my position on creating them has evolved to a point where I only recommend building them in specific cases.

When Google first enabled practitioner listings (listings that represent each doctor, lawyer, dentist, or agent within a business) I saw them as a golden opportunity for a given practice to dominate local search results with its presence. However, Google’s subsequent unwillingness to simply remove practitioner duplicates, coupled with the rollout of the Possum update which filters out shared category/similar location listings, coupled with the number of instances I’ve seen in which practitioner listings end up outranking brand listings, has caused me to change my opinion of their benefits. I should also add that the business title field on practitioner listings is a hotbed of Google guideline violations — few business owners have ever read Google’s nitty gritty rules about how to name these types of listings.

In a nutshell, practitioner listings gone awry can result in a bunch of wrongly-named listings often clouded by duplicates that Google won’t remove, all competing for the same keywords. Not good!

What to do about it:

You’ll have multiple scenarios to address when offering advice about this topic.

1.) If the business is brand new, and there is no record of it on the Internet as of yet, then I would only recommend creating practitioner listings if it is necessary to point out an area of specialization. So, for example if a medical practice has 5 MDs, the listing for the practice covers that, with no added listings needed. But, if a medical practice has 5 MDs and an Otolaryngologist, it may be good marketing to give the specialist his own listing, because it has its own GMB category and won’t be competing with the practice for rankings. *However, read on to understand the challenges being undertaken any time a multi-practitioner listing is created.

2.) If the multi-practitioner business is not new, chances are very good that there are listings out there for present, past, and even deceased practitioners.

  • If a partner is current, be sure you point his listing at a landing page on the practice’s website, instead of at the homepage, see if you can differentiate categories, and do your utmost to optimize the practice’s own listing — the point here is to prevent practitioners from outranking the practice. What do I mean by optimization? Be sure the practice’s GMB listing is fully filled out, you’ve got amazing photos, you’re actively earning and responding to reviews, you’re publishing a Google Post at least once a week, and your citations across the web are consistent. These things should all strengthen the listing for the practice.
  • If a partner is no longer with the practice, it’s ideal to unverify the listing and ask Google to market it as moved to the practice — not to the practitioner’s new location. Sound goofy? Read Joy Hawkins’ smart explanation of this convoluted issue.
  • If, sadly, a practitioner has passed away, contact Google to show them an obituary so that the listing can be removed.
  • If a listing represents what is actually a solo practitioner (instead of a partner in a multi-practitioner business model) and his GMB listing is now competing with the listing for his business, you can ask Google to merge the two listings.

3.) If a business wants to create practitioner listings, and they feel up to the task of handling any ranking or situational management concerns, there is one final proviso I’d add. Google’s guidelines state that practitioners should be “directly contactable at the verified location during stated hours” in order to qualify for a GMB listing. I’ve always found this requirement rather vague. Contactable by phone? Contactable in person? Google doesn’t specify. Presumably, a real estate agent in a multi-practitioner agency might be directly contactable, but as my graphic above illustrates, we wouldn’t really expect the same public availability of a surgeon, right? Point being, it may only make marketing sense to create a practitioner listing for someone who needs to be directly available to the consumer public for the business to function. I consider this a genuine grey area in the guidelines, so think it through carefully before acting.

Giving good help

It’s genuinely an honor to advise owners and marketers who are strategizing for the success of local businesses. In our own small way, local SEO consultants live in the neighborhood Mister Rogers envisioned in which you could look for the helpers when confronted with trouble. Given the livelihoods dependent on local commerce, rescuing a company from a foundational marketing mistake is satisfying work for people who like to be “helpers,” and it carries a weight of responsibility.

I’ve worked in 3 different SEO forums over the past 10+ years, and I’d like to close with some things I’ve learned about helping:

  1. Learn to ask the right questions. Small nuances in business models and scenarios can necessitate completely different advice. Don’t be scared to come back with second and third rounds of follow-up queries if someone hasn’t provided sufficient detail for you to advise them well. Read all details thoroughly before replying.
  2. Always, always consult Google’s guidelines, and link to them in your answers. It’s absolutely amazing how few owners and marketers have ever encountered them. Local SEOs are volunteer liaisons between Google and businesses. That’s just the way things have worked out.
  3. Don’t say you’re sure unless you’re really sure. If a forum or client question necessitates a full audit to surface a useful answer, say so. Giving pat answers to complicated queries helps no one, and can actually hurt businesses by leaving them in limbo, losing money, for an even longer time.
  4. Network with colleagues when weird things come up. Ranking drops can be attributed to new Google updates, or bugs, or other factors you haven’t yet noticed but that a trusted peer may have encountered.
  5. Practice humility. 90% of what I know about Local SEO, I’ve learned from people coming to me with problems for which, at some point, I had to discover answers. Over time, the work put in builds up our store of ready knowledge, but we will never know it all, and that’s humbling in a very good way. Community members and clients are our teachers. Let’s be grateful for them, and treat them with respect.
  6. Finally, don’t stress about delivering “the bad news” when you see someone who is asking for help making a marketing mistake. In the long run, your honesty will be the best gift you could possibly have given.

Happy helping!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog http://ift.tt/2z01Vxu

3 Strategies to Make Your Facebook Custom Audiences 3X More Effective

Custom audience targeting is the crown jewel of Facebook Ads. Nothing else in our arsenal of ad targeting weapons comes remotely close to custom audiences in terms of raw ad-targeting power.

strategy for facebook custom audiences

Sadly, though, most of the Facebook advertiser accounts I audit fail to realize the full power that Customer Audiences have to offer.

Today, I want to quickly illustrate my top three hacks to get 200-300% more value out of your custom audience targeting methods.

Facebook Custom Audience Hack #1: Find & Eliminate Donkey Audiences

When I analyze your Facebook custom audiences, I usually see a mixed bag of donkeys and unicorns.

If you haven’t been following me for a while, you might be wondering what the heck I’m talking about. Here’s what I mean by donkeys and unicorns. A marketing unicorn is one of those magical campaigns that’s so effective it performs in the top 1-3% of all marketing campaigns. The donkeys, on the other hand, are the average to below-average performers that aren’t doing anything to move the needle.

To boost our Facebook ad performance, we’ll need to eliminate some of the donkeys. They’re dragging your overall average down!

How do we do it?

Using the various ad and audience insight tools provided by Facebook. They’re basically a laser-guided donkey detector for your Facebook Custom Audiences!

facebook audience strategies

Take, for example, the following audience insights from a real-life advertiser of productivity software:

facebook custom audience tips

Note that:

  • Women ages 35-44 and women 45-54 are substantially more likely to engage with this business’s ads than any other age/gender cohort. These are their unicorn-audiences, the very best performing demographic.
  • Men, across the board, accrue 57.94% of impressions but account for only 46.6% of the engagement (note: Facebook is a pay-per-engagement ad platform, so spend = engagement). Men 25-34 are their donkey audience, as they are the least likely to engage.

What do we do with this fantastic audience insight?

Eliminate the men from your ad targeting!

It might sound a bit drastic, but the problem with Facebook ads is that they’re not free. We want to make sure that every dollar spent yields the most bang for your buck, so you’re going to need to be a bit picky as to who you serve your ads to.

Heck, if budget is tight, eliminate the women between 13-24, 55-64, and 65+, too.

9 times out of 10, advertiser budgets are smaller than the massive audiences Facebook allows you to target, therefore when it comes to audience definitions, focus on your unicorns (the most engaged, best performing audiences) and eliminate your donkeys (the low-engagement duds).

(Note: If you have enormous use-it-or-lose-it ad budgets, or are under pressure to yield more conversions regardless of cost-per-conversion, feel free to ignore this advice.)

Facebook Custom Audience Hack #2: Unicorn-ification

An alternative to donkey elimination is to try to convert a donkey audience into a unicorn audience by changing the ad.

analyzing facebook audience performance

The following is a Facebook audience insight for a real-world advertiser of high-end electronics equipment. The grey bars in the background represent the relative abundance of the selected cohort on Facebook overall. The blue bars represent the distribution of the advertiser’s customers (via their custom audience).

facebook audience insights reports

Notice how:

  • 89% of the purchases are from men.
  • Of those purchases, most (85%) come from ages 35-44, 45-54 and 55-64.
  • The remaining 12% of purchases made by women are far more evenly spread out across the various age groups.

In this case I would:

  • Eliminate men age 18-24, 25-34, 65+, as well as women 18-24.
  • Segment your ad set to run a different ad for the rest of the women.

Most customers of this particular high-end electronic gadget were men, so we just changed the ads that were shown to women to instead highlight how this is the best gift idea for your husband or dad this year (rather than highlighting a bunch of technical features).

That one change alone doubled the ROI!

Facebook Custom Audience Hack #3: Unicorn Cloning

A third and final Facebook custom audience hack is to take the valuable audience insights gleaned from Facebook analytics and apply them elsewhere to other marketing efforts.

I call this “unicorn cloning” as it’s generally the case that your Facebook unicorn and donkey audiences will perform similarly great, or terrible, if targeted via different platforms.

how to clone your best facebook audiences

Take for example this custom audience insight for a B2C advertiser whose customers appear to be somewhat liberal in terms of their political leanings:

analyzing facebook custom audiences

What could we do with these insights?

A lot!

You could:

  • Target your Google Display Network remarketing ads to appear only on liberal-leaning websites.
  • Exclude conservative news and opinion sites from your list of GDN managed placements.
  • Target travel and comedy sites.
  • Overlay “outdoor” interests like camping, or hiking, using “Topic targeting” in the Google Display Network.
  • Draw from these unrelated interests to inform content or ad copy creation efforts using my inverted unicorn technique.
  • Etc. The possibilities are nearly endless!

Closing thoughts

Businesses sell to people. Not keywords, not pixels … PEOPLE!

The better you know your customer audience profile, the better your Facebook ads (and all marketing campaigns for that matter) will perform.

The good news is that using insights provided by Facebook, creating a data-driven customer persona for your business has never been easer!

Now get to work analyzing the heck out of your customer audiences – know their demographics, interests and behaviors, and start leveraging that information throughout ALL your marketing campaigns today.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2nPzE9a

What Do Google’s New, Longer Snippets Mean for SEO? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Snippets and meta descriptions have brand-new character limits, and it’s a big change for Google and SEOs alike. Learn about what’s new, when it changed, and what it all means for SEO in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.

http://ift.tt/2kzsB33

http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

What do Google's now, longer snippets mean for SEO?

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

http://ift.tt/2A5bDMU

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about Google’s big change to the snippet length.

This is the display length of the snippet for any given result in the search results that Google provides. This is on both mobile and desktop. It sort of impacts the meta description, which is how many snippets are written. They’re taken from the meta description tag of the web page. Google essentially said just last week, “Hey, we have officially increased the length, the recommended length, and the display length of what we will show in the text snippet of standard organic results.”

So I’m illustrating that for you here. I did a search for “net neutrality bill,” something that’s on the minds of a lot of Americans right now. You can see here that this article from The Hill, which is a recent article — it was two days ago — has a much longer text snippet than what we would normally expect to find. In fact, I went ahead and counted this one and then showed it here.

So basically, at the old 165-character limit, which is what you would have seen prior to the middle of December on most every search result, occasionally Google would have a longer one for very specific kinds of search results, but more than 90%, according to data from SISTRIX, which put out a great report and I’ll link to it here, more than 90% of search snippets were 165 characters or less prior to the middle of November. Then Google added basically a few more lines.

So now, on mobile and desktop, instead of an average of two or three lines, we’re talking three, four, five, sometimes even six lines of text. So this snippet here is 266 characters that Google is displaying. The next result, from Save the Internet, is 273 characters. Again, this might be because Google sort of realized, “Hey, we almost got all of this in here. Let’s just carry it through to the end rather than showing the ellipsis.” But you can see that 165 characters would cut off right here. This one actually does a good job of displaying things.

So imagine a searcher is querying for something in your field and they’re just looking for a basic understanding of what it is. So they’ve never heard of net neutrality. They’re not sure what it is. So they can read here, “Net neutrality is the basic principle that prohibits internet service providers like AT&T, Comcast, and Verizon from speeding up, slowing down, or blocking any . . .” And that’s where it would cut off. Or that’s where it would have cut off in November.

Now, if I got a snippet like that, I need to visit the site. I’ve got to click through in order to learn more. That doesn’t tell me enough to give me the data to go through. Now, Google has tackled this before with things, like a featured snippet, that sit at the top of the search results, that are a more expansive short answer. But in this case, I can get the rest of it because now, as of mid-November, Google has lengthened this. So now I can get, “Any content, applications, or websites you want to use. Net neutrality is the way that the Internet has always worked.”

Now, you might quibble and say this is not a full, thorough understanding of what net neutrality is, and I agree. But for a lot of searchers, this is good enough. They don’t need to click any more. This extension from 165 to 275 or 273, in this case, has really done the trick.

What changed?

So this can have a bunch of changes to SEO too. So the change that happened here is that Google updated basically two things. One, they updated the snippet length, and two, they updated their guidelines around it.

So Google’s had historic guidelines that said, well, you want to keep your meta description tag between about 160 and 180 characters. I think that was the number. They’ve updated that to where they say there’s no official meta description recommended length. But on Twitter, Danny Sullivan said that he would probably not make that greater than 320 characters. In fact, we and other data providers, that collect a lot of search results, didn’t find many that extended beyond 300. So I think that’s a reasonable thing.

When?

When did this happen? It was starting at about mid-November. November 22nd is when SISTRIX’s dataset starts to notice the increase, and it was over 50%. Now it’s sitting at about 51% of search results that have these longer snippets in at least 1 of the top 10 as of December 2nd.

Here’s the amazing thing, though — 51% of search results have at least one. Many of those, because they’re still pulling old meta descriptions or meta descriptions that SEO has optimized for the 165-character limit, are still very short. So if you’re the person in your search results, especially it’s holiday time right now, lots of ecommerce action, if you’re the person to go update your important pages right now, you might be able to get more real estate in the search results than any of your competitors in the SERPs because they’re not updating theirs.

How will this affect SEO?

So how is this going to really change SEO? Well, three things:

A. It changes how marketers should write and optimize the meta description.

We’re going to be writing a little bit differently because we have more space. We’re going to be trying to entice people to click, but we’re going to be very conscientious that we want to try and answer a lot of this in the search result itself, because if we can, there’s a good chance that Google will rank us higher, even if we’re actually sort of sacrificing clicks by helping the searcher get the answer they need in the search result.

B. It may impact click-through rate.

We’ll be looking at Jumpshot data over the next few months and year ahead. We think that there are two likely ways they could do it. Probably negatively, meaning fewer clicks on less complex queries. But conversely, possible it will get more clicks on some more complex queries, because people are more enticed by the longer description. Fingers crossed, that’s kind of what you want to do as a marketer.

C. It may lead to lower click-through rate further down in the search results.

If you think about the fact that this is taking up the real estate that was taken up by three results with two, as of a month ago, well, maybe people won’t scroll as far down. Maybe the ones that are higher up will in fact draw more of the clicks, and thus being further down on page one will have less value than it used to.

What should SEOs do?

What are things that you should do right now? Number one, make a priority list — you should probably already have this — of your most important landing pages by search traffic, the ones that receive the most search traffic on your website, organic search. Then I would go and reoptimize those meta descriptions for the longer limits.

Now, you can judge as you will. My advice would be go to the SERPs that are sending you the most traffic, that you’re ranking for the most. Go check out the limits. They’re probably between about 250 and 300, and you can optimize somewhere in there.

The second thing I would do is if you have internal processes or your CMS has rules around how long you can make a meta description tag, you’re going to have to update those probably from the old limit of somewhere in the 160 to 180 range to the new 230 to 320 range. It doesn’t look like many are smaller than 230 now, at least limit-wise, and it doesn’t look like anything is particularly longer than 320. So somewhere in there is where you’re going to want to stay.

Good luck with your new meta descriptions and with your new snippet optimization. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

from Moz Blog http://ift.tt/2nFKRcs