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9 Mind-Bending Ways to Use Psychographics in Your Marketing

To the uninitiated, the field of psychographics may sound a little like a debunked “scientific” principle such as phrenology, but actually, it’s one of the most exciting developments in psychological analysis that marketers can leverage in their campaigns.

 Psychographics in Marketing

But what is psychographics? Why should you care? How can you use it? These are all questions we’ll be answering in this post. We’ll explore what psychographics is, what makes it so valuable to digital marketers, and nine amazing ways you can apply it to your campaigns.

Before we begin in earnest, though, let’s run through a quick primer on psychographics as a scientific discipline.

What is Psychographics?

Psychographics is the study of people’s attitudes and interests, often studied in conjunction with typical demographic data to build more complete profiles of target markets and audiences.

Psychographics in marketing concept illustration 

Although psychographics is used in a variety of applications, its primary use is in market research. We can tell a great deal about a person simply by examining the demographic data about their life – their age, income level, education, occupation – but by itself, this data is only of limited use. It tells us nothing about their aspirations, their beliefs, their attitudes, or any other subjective psychological measure.

That’s what makes psychographics so powerful; by combining demographic data with psychographic data, we can build much more complete, sophisticated profiles of consumers based on a much richer picture of who they really are.

Now that we know a little more about what psychographics is, how do you go about gathering this invaluable data?

How Can You Gather Psychographic Data?

Although many of the metrics favored by digital marketers are quantitative, psychographics is more qualitative. Yes, psychographic data can and should be appropriately categorized, but psychographic data can be significantly more subjective and nuanced in comparison to traditional quantitative research methodologies.

Market Research Firms

If you’ve ever conducted market research, you probably already know what a tremendous pain in the ass it can be, particularly if you’re a freelance marketer or working as part of a smaller team with limited resources. That’s why many companies turn to dedicated market research firms to do the legwork for them. This offers several benefits, such as scientifically rigorous data collection methods and proper vetting to ensure integrity of the data.

Psychographics in marketing market research concept 

It also presents a further budgetary consideration, as market research data – even generic white papers and reports – rarely comes cheap.

Focus Groups

Conducting focus groups can be an excellent method of gathering psychographic data. It allows you to create testing audiences that adhere to your specifications (including your business’ ideal customers and established buyer personas).

The major drawback of focus groups is actually assembling them and gathering the data. Putting together a focus group can be a significant time-sink, and that’s before you even ask your first question. Furthermore, there are no guarantees that the information you gather will be actionable or even reliable.

Customer Surveys and Questionnaires

Another method of psychographic data collection at your disposal is customer surveys and questionnaires.

This approach has many benefits, including the fact that surveys and questionnaires are relatively inexpensive to produce, can be distributed electronically for ease of completion by participants, and general consumer familiarity with this method of market research.

Psychographics in marketing customer survey concept illustration 

Image via Help Scout

Surveys and questionnaires do have their drawbacks, though, including few solid ways to overcome low respondent participation, and the potential unreliability or inaccuracy of the data itself – many people answer questionnaires in an aspirational way, meaning they may not respond completely truthfully to certain questions, especially questions on more contentious topics. 

Detailed Analytics Data

Perhaps the most time-efficient means of gathering psychographics data is using detailed analytics data.

Psychographics in marketing Facebook interest targeting 

Social media platforms such as Facebook and Twitter are arguably better suited to the gathering of psychographic data by virtue of the wealth of personal information these services possess about their users. In particular, an individual’s personal interests can be immensely valuable psychographic data points, as can data that some individuals may not be as truthful about in a real-world setting like a focus group, such as their political beliefs.

9 Ways to Use Psychographics in Your Marketing

As we mentioned above, psychographics is most commonly applied in the field of market research, specifically in the creation and development of detailed buyer personas. However, this is far from the only potential application of this fascinating data.

Let’s take a look at nine applications of psychographics you can use in your next campaign.

1. Create More Refined Social Media Audiences 

If you’ve ever run a Facebook Ads campaign, you’ll know how granularly you can target prospective customers. Targeting relevant audiences by interests is a viable strategy, but if you dig a little deeper into what really makes your audience tick, you’ll find a whole new world of possibilities opens up.

Psychographics in marketing Facebook interest targeting options branded terms 

Once you’ve identified and refined your core audience, look for the psychographic commonalities that your target market shares. Are their political beliefs relevant? Does their affinity for certain brands or even specific products suggest wider underlying attitudes? (For example, mothers in their thirties who are also into yoga may be interested in broader health-related topics.) How do these consumers see themselves? These are all questions you can ask as the starting point for psychographic targeting research that could yield new opportunities you may not have considered previously.

2. Write More Emotionally Compelling Ads

We know that leveraging emotional triggers can be amazingly effective in online advertising. If we can write emotionally compelling ads using the bare minimum of information, imagine how much more effective your ads could be if you knew more about your target market.

Psychographics in marketing top 10 emotional triggers in online ads 

Using emotional triggers in ad campaigns is always a tentative balancing act, as what one person finds fascinating and enticing may be morally repugnant and utterly repellant to someone else.

However, psychographic data can reveal a great deal about your target market, allowing you to write emotionally powerful ads – negative or otherwise – that may improve your conversion rates considerably.

3. Enhance A/B Tests

Hopefully, you’re already A/B testing most of your marketing collateral. However, incorporating psychographic data into A/B tests can result in even more revealing and accurate results.

Psychographics in marketing A/B test concept illustration 

Image via VWO

It’s important to note that when I say psychographics can be used to enhance A/B tests, I don’t necessarily mean the tests themselves. It’s very difficult to segment an A/B test by psychographic dimensions, simply because there’s no reliable way to determine or define a visitor’s psychographic profile at the moment they visit your site. I am, however, saying that psychographic analysis may yield valuable insights into why your visitors responded to the A/B test in the way they did.

Psychographics in marketing calls to action examples 

For example, does a specific landing page you tested perform strongly because of something as simple as a design element or the wording of a call to action, or are there more complex underlying reasons that could have shaped visitors’ behavior? The main image on your landing page might resonate differently depending on your audience’s psychographic makeup.

Only you can decide whether this data is actionable, but the more you know about why visitors interacted with your site in the ways they did, the more accurately you can target your ideal prospects in the future.

4. Identify New Content Topic Areas

One of my favorite content marketing concepts is what Larry calls “land and expand,” the process of broadening the breadth of your content topics to include tangentially relevant topics that are beyond your immediate business interest but are still relevant – and interesting – to your primary audience. This is an application of psychographic data that can really shine.

For example, here at WordStream, we know that many of our readers work in digital marketing – gasp! – but we also know that many are interested in broader trends in the technology industry, as we determined by analyzing analytics data from our social media accounts as well as our website.

Psychographics in marketing Google Analytics affinity categories 

Affinity categories in Google Analytics let you explore your site visitors’ interests

If we were to dig a little deeper into psychographic research, we could then ask more detailed questions when devising our wider content marketing strategies based on those interests. For example, we could investigate whether our readers’ interest in technology stems from an aspirational view of the world and how technology can solve urgent social problems, or whether this interest in tech is from a purely consumptive or entrepreneurial standpoint.

Psychographics in marketing Twitter Analytics screenshot 

Twitter Analytics is an excellent source of psychographic data such as
personal interests

Once you start to learn who your audience really is, you can “land and expand” much more effectively – a real boon for established blogs that may be experiencing difficulty in finding new topics to cover.

5. Improve Your Conversion Pathways

If you’ve set up custom conversion pathways in Google Analytics to measure the success of specific goals and objectives, incorporating psychographic data can be remarkably effective at identifying why people fail to convert and explaining more fully why people drop off at the point in the funnel that they do.

Let’s say you have a custom conversion pathway established in Google Analytics, and that this conversion pathway is tied to a specific business objective (which it should be, by the way). You may know that many prospects fail to convert on a specific landing page – but don’t know why.

Psychographics in marketing Google Analytics conversion pathways 

A visualization of conversion pathways within Google Analytics

By applying the psychographic data you’ve gathered to a specific problem (i.e. why you’re losing people at a specific point in your funnel), you can examine the problem with a great deal more focus. Is the language of your landing pages turning off prospects because they perceive your business differently than you do? Does your brand messaging reinforce beliefs your audience already holds, or does it stand directly at odds with their perceptions of themselves as consumers?

The more you know about your target market, the more confidently you can hypothesize why the most vulnerable points of your sales funnel are failing – then shore them up.

6. Reinforce Your Brand Values

We’ve talked about the importance of cultivating brand advocacy in the past, and for good reason. Brand evangelists are your most hardcore fans, and one of the best ways to encourage people to become loyal brand ambassadors for your company is to put your brand values on full display in everything you do. An easy way to do this is to compare the psychographic profiles of your most fiercely loyal followers and ensure that your wider messaging reflects these brand values.

Psychographics in marketing Baileys brand values daybook illustrations 

Illustrated examples taken from Baileys’ brand value daybook. Original art by Serge Seidlitz.

The Lush cosmetics company is an excellent example of this principle in action. Obviously I don’t have actual psychographic data for Lush’s target market to hand, but the company makes sure that its commitment to ethically produced, environmentally friendly products made without the use of animal testing is front-and-center in its messaging. I’d bet my last dollar that this messaging strongly reinforces the personal values of Lush’s ideal customer.

Psychographics in marketing Lush cosmetics brand values 

How can you reinforce your brand values as part of your wider marketing messaging?

7. Create More Targeted, Relevant Email Marketing Blasts

One of the great things about psychographics is that it gives you so much clearer an idea of not only who your target market is, but also what they want and how they feel. This, in turn, allows you to tap into your audience’s doubts, fears, and questions to create highly relevant and targeted email blasts.

Psychographics in marketing email subject line open rate comparison chart 

We know that creating highly personalized email blasts is a great way to improve your open rates. Tapping into psychographic data allows you to do precisely this. You can also cross-reference existing analytics data from your email marketing campaigns to gain greater insight into why your most popular email blasts resonated so strongly with your readers – then replicate it.

Email marketing allows for certain concessions that other marketing campaigns may not, such as the use of using hypothetical questions as enticing subject lines, tying your company’s brand values to current events, and other creative techniques, all of which can be deepened by a greater understanding of your audiences’ psychographic profile.  

8. Use Aspirational Imagery and Messaging

One of the most revealing things you can learn about your prospects through the application of psychographics is not only who they are, but who they want to be. Aspirational messaging can be extraordinarily effective, and the more you know about your market, the more effectively you can leverage these aspirational desires in your campaigns.

Psychographics in marketing aspirational marketing pyramid diagram 

At WordStream, we frequently remind our readers that people don’t buy products for its own sake; they buy things to solve their problems. As such, aspirational messaging can be amazingly powerful. It allows prospective customers to envision how your business can not only improve their lives in an immediate, problem-solving sense, but also how your business can help them become the people they want to be – a powerfully persuasive technique.  

9. Revisit and Update Buyer Personas

Our last tip might not be as exciting as the preceding tips, but it’s no less important.

Once you’ve gone through the trouble of gathering psychographic data about your target market, it’s vital that you either update existing buyer personas and message matrices to include this new information, or create new ones entirely.

Psychographics in marketing buyer personas demographics 

Many companies use multiple buyer personas for each stage of the conversion funnel, and incorporating psychographic data into your existing personas is crucial to ensure your campaigns hit the mark. This also offers a range of other benefits, including the potential for more personalized messaging, a clearer and more comprehensive profile of your ideal customers for new hires, and ultimately, more effective marketing campaigns overall.

Psychographics, Qu’est-ce Que C’est

Psychographics is an exciting and fascinating field of study that can be immensely beneficial to marketers hoping to gain greater insight into what makes their target markets tick. Combining more subjective psychographic data with traditionally empirical marketing metrics can be tricky, but the potential gains make it well worth exploring.

If you’re using psychographics in your campaigns, I’d love to hear your experiences – get at me in the comments with ideas or suggestions! 

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2v1FeDI

5 Tips to Help Show ROI from Local SEO

Posted by JoyHawkins

Earlier this year, when I was first writing my advanced local SEO training, I reached out to some users who work for local SEO agencies and asked them what they’d like more training on. The biggest topic I got as a result was related to tracking and reporting value to small business owners.

My clients will often forward me reports from their prior SEO company, expressing that they have no idea what they were getting for their money. Some of the most common complaints I see with these reports are:

  • Too much use of marketing lingo (“Bounce Rate,” “CTR,” etc.)
  • Way too much data
  • No representation of what impact the work done had on the business itself (did it get them more customers?)

If a small business owner is giving you hundreds or thousands of dollars every month, how do you prove to them they’re getting value from it? There’s a lot to dig into with this topic — I included a full six pages on it in my training. Today I wanted to share some of the most successful tips that I use with my own clients.


1. Stop sending automated Google Analytics reports

If the goal is to show the customer what they’re getting from their investment, you probably won’t achieve it by simply sending them an Analytics report each month. Google Analytics is a powerful tool, but it only looks awesome to you because you’re a marketer. Over the past year, I’ve looked at many monthly reports that made my head spin — it’s just too much data. The average SMB isn’t going to be able to look at those reports and figure out how their bounce rate decreasing somehow means you’re doing a great job at SEO.

2. Make conversions the focus of your report

What does the business owner care about? Hint: it’s not how you increased the ranking for one of their 50 tracked keywords this month. No, what they care about is how much additional business you drove to their business. This should be the focus of the report you send them. Small business call conversions

3. Use dynamic number insertion to track calls

If you’re not already doing this, you’re really killing your ability to show value. I don’t have a single SEO or SEM client that isn’t using call tracking. I use Call Tracking Metrics, but CallRail is another one that works well, too. This allows you to see the sources of incoming calls. Unlike slapping a call tracking number on your website, dynamic number insertion won’t mess up NAP consistency.

The bonus here is that you can set up these calls as goals in Google Analytics. Using the Landing Page report, you can see which pages on the site were responsible for getting that call. Instead of saying, “Hey customer, a few months ago I created this awesome page of content for you,” you can say “Hey customer, a few months ago, I added this page to your site and as a result, it’s got you 5 more calls.”
Conversion goal completion in Google Analytics

4. Estimate revenue

I remember sitting in a session a couple years ago when Dev Basu from Powered by Search told me about this tactic. I had a lightbulb moment, wondering why the heck I didn’t think to do this before.

The concept is simple: Ask the client what the average lifetime value of their customer is. Next, ask them what their average closing ratio is on Internet leads. Take those numbers and, based on the number of conversions, you can calculate their estimated revenue.

Formula: Lifetime Value of a Customer x Closing Ratio (%) x Number of Conversions = Estimated Revenue

Bonus tip: Take this a step further and show them that for every dollar they pay you, you make them $X. Obviously, if the lifetime value of the customer is high, these numbers look a lot better. For example, an attorney could look like this:Example monthly ROI for an attorneyWhereas an insurance agent would look like this:
Example monthly ROI for an insurance agent

5. Show before/after screenshots, not a ranking tracker.

I seriously love ranking trackers. I spend a ton of time every week looking at reports in Bright Local for my clients. However, I really believe ranking trackers are best used for marketers, not business owners. How many times have you had a client call you freaking out because they noticed a drop in ranking for one keyword? I chose to help stop this trend by not including ranking reports in my monthly reporting and have never regretted that decision.

Instead, if I want to highlight a significant ranking increase that happened as a result of SEO, I can do that by showing the business owner a visual — something they will actually understand. This is where I use Bright Local’s screenshots; I can see historically how a SERP used to look versus how it looks now.


At the end of the day, to show ROI you need to think like a business owner, not a marketer. If your goals match the goals of the business owner (which is usually to increase calls), make sure that’s what you’re conveying in your monthly reporting.

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This Is Why You Should Be Testing Your Headlines

It’s all about that click.

headline analysis and testing

This is true whether you’re writing headlines for PPC ads or content that’s meant to earn organic search traffic, links, and social media shares.

You can’t honestly call your content “high quality” if it isn’t getting read. And if your headline is boring, people won’t click. They’ll ignore you.

That means lots of bad things for your business and brand. For instance, you won’t:

  • Grow your audience.
  • Attract links naturally.
  • Generate qualified leads.
  • Boost your social media engagement and shares.
  • Make enough money.

Oh, and if we’re talking paid search? You’ll pay more for your ads, since Quality Score heavily rewards a high click-through rate.

If only there were a way to know in advance whether that headline you’ve been writing will generate tons of traffic or be ignored…

Well, there might be one way – headline analyzer tools. But do they actually work?

What Are Headline Analyzers?

Headline analyzers are free tools that score your headline, giving you some sense ahead of time as to whether people are going to want to click on your headline.

Here are three headline analyzer tools you can test drive:

CoSchedule

headline analyzer tools

This headline analyzer is my personal favorite. I’ve been using it for a couple years. It analyzes and scores your headline based on factors like your word balance, length, keywords, and sentiment. Plus, CoSchedule’s tool will show you what your headline will look like as a Google search result and an email subject line.

Advanced Marketing Institute

headline testing tools

This headline tool analyzes the “emotional marketing value” of your headline and also gives it an “emotion classification.” They say that most headlines should have between 30 and 40 percent EMV words at minimum, but ideally should be in the 50 to 75 percent range.

ShareThrough

headline analysis tools

I’m least familiar with this tool. It uses an algorithm that analyzes your headline based on 300 variables. It provides some feedback on your strengths and also points out a few areas where you can potentially improve (e.g., mention a brand, body part, or celebrity… Um, seriously?)

So if you’re looking to craft that perfect headline, problem solved, right? Surely one of these will do the trick.

Or will they?

Analyzing the Headlines in Google Search Results

We know that Google will sometimes reward posts that generate more clicks with higher search positions. And it makes sense for them to do so.

headlines and click through rate

Think about it:

If a page Google has ranking in Position 1 gets 10 percent of clicks while a page ranking in Position 3 gets 30 percent of clicks, that would clearly signal to Google that something may be wrong. Perhaps the page in Position 3 is the better answer for a given query (as long as users aren’t immediately bouncing back to the search results) because it aligns with the user’s intent.

That means a more clickable headline could be the difference between ranking in Position 1, 2, or 3 in the SERPs.

So is there any correlation between the headline score and ranking positions?

Anecdotally, at least with CoSchedule, it sometimes seems so. But this could be an exhaustive study on its own.

For now, let’s just look at one search. Fittingly: [how to write headlines].

Here’s what you get, along with their scores from the three headline analyzers (CoSchedule / AMI / ShareThrough):

  1. Headline Writing 101: How to Write Attention Grabbing Headlines That Convert (Quicksprout) (52 / 18.18 / 73)
  2. How to Write Better Headlines [Infographic] (HubSpot) (73 / 16.67 / 65)
  3. 5 Easy Tricks to Write Catchy Headlines (Goins, Writer) (62 / 42.86 / 65)
  4. How to Write Magnetic Headlines (Copyblogger) (63 / 20 / 65)
  5. The Step-by-Step Guide to Writing Powerful Headlines (Neil Patel) (63 / 14.29 / 69)
  6. 10 questions to help you write better headlines (Poynter) (67 / 25 / 66)
  7. 9 Tips for Writing Great Headlines in 2017 (WordStream) (63 / 0 / 61)
  8. 17 Easy Tricks How to Write Catchy Titles and Headlines (DreamGrow) (70 / 30 / 67)
  9. 55 Easy Ways To Write Headlines That Will Reach Your Readers (CoSchedule) (75 / 36.36 / 63)

I know what you’re thinking. CoSchedule, the creator of the headline analyzer, ranks ninth?

Well, I never said your headline was the only – or even the most important – Google ranking factor. But it definitely is one of your most important content elements.

So what does this one analysis teach us?

There is absolutely no correlation between headline analyzer scores and ranking position – at least on this one query.

Honestly, it’s pretty much impossible to draw any significant comparisons from this one example. After all, it’s just one search out of trillions of searches that happen on Google every year.

All we know is that, according to CoSchedule’s headline analyzer, the CoSchedule post has the best headline; Goins, Writer has the best headline according to AMI’s tool; and QuickSprout has the best headline, based on ShareThrough’s headline analyzer.

So is there any value in these headline scores?

Can Headline Analyzers Actually Predict a Winner?

Which one of these articles will get the most clicks?

That was the name of the game for the last month for me at Search Engine Journal (full disclosure: I am Executive Editor of SEJ).

For this particular test, I relied on CoSchedule’s headline analyzer when writing headlines.

Typically, my goal is to write headlines that score 70 or higher. But sometimes, depending on the topic, it’s surprisingly hard to get a score of 70. A score of 80+ is even rarer. Forget about a score in the 90s let alone a perfect 100 (I’ve yet to achieve either).

At SEJ, we use a custom-made headline A/B testing tool (well, technically A/B/C tool). Why custom?

  • We tried using the King Sumo WordPress plugin. However, this causes issues for cached sites (the same headline would end up being shown repeatedly, resulting in flawed tests).
  • We also tried the Title Experiments Free WordPress plugin. However, this one was bad news for SEO. Basically, the H1 tag would look empty to Google whenever it crawled and indexed the page because Google still has problems with JavaScript. Plus, if you have a high traffic day, your server could quickly get overloaded because this plugin sends an AJAX request for every page load.

During our headline test, we wrote three headlines for every new post published. Then, for 120 hours, a test ran. During this time the three headlines were shown an equal number of times to our website visitors.

Our headline A/B testing tool has one constraint worth mentioning. Our “A” headline can be any length we want, but our two alternative headlines (“B” and “C”) must be less than 50 characters total.

7 Things I Learned From 31 Days of A/B Headline Testing

OK, let’s talk results.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume the following about CoSchedule’s headline scores:

  • 100 = Perfect Headline
  • 80-99 = Great Headline
  • 70-79 = Good Headline
  • 60-69 = Average Headline
  • Poor/Bad (59 or lower)

Here’s what I found in the past month.

1. Headline Analyzers Can’t Actually Predict the Winning Headline

In total, 50 articles and 150 headlines were tested.

During these 31 days of headline testing, the CoSchedule score matched the most clicked headline only 40 percent of the time.

The other 60 percent of the time, a headline with a lower score actually got more clicks.

Here’s one example.

One of these three headlines got clicked on 37 percent of time. Which one?

headline testing

You would think the “A” headline should win since it has a score of 80, but actually the “B” headline (with its score of 70) got the most clicks.

Why? My best guess, based on using CoSchedule’s tool for a while now, is that they heavily weight the word “things,” whereas readers of SEJ might be more inclined to click on “tips” than “things.”

So if you think that a great score on a headline analyzer is a reliable indicator of whether your headline will actually be successful, think again.

2. A Great Score Doesn’t Guarantee Lots of Clicks

If you get a great score (between 80 and 99), you’d expect to get lots of clicks, right?

Nope.

The best score I managed to get for the month was 84 for this headline: This Is the Most Important Aspect of SEO.

This was the “B” headline. It got 35 clicks. That was good enough to come in second place, but it was a loser nonetheless.

As for that previously mentioned headline, How to Rank for Featured Snippets: 9 Things You Need to Know? It got a great score as well – 80.

That was good for last place. Third out of three. Worse yet, it was beaten handily by headlines that had scores of 70 and 66.

This is a perfect example of why you must A/B test your headlines.

3. The Most Clicked Headline Had a Good (Not Great) Score

One headline dominated all the others. Your Rankings Have Dropped – 10 Things to Do Now earned 192 clicks during our testing period.

What score did it get from CoSchedule’s Headline Analyzer?

A 71.

That means 33 out of the 150 total headlines we wrote that month had a better score from the headline analyzer.

headline testing tools

That said, any headline over 70 should do well. But if one headline with a lower score can outperform 33 other headlines, this is yet another reason not to completely trust a headline analyzer.

Surprisingly, the headline that got the second most clicks was actually the “C” headline for that same article (What to Do When Google Rankings Drop Dramatically). It got 181 clicks and had a score of 68 from CoSchedule’s tool. That means it outperformed 51 other headlines with higher scores – and we didn’t even end up using it!

4. A Headline With a Good (or Even Average) Score Can Drive More Clicks Than a Great Score

In looking over these 150 articles, there are numerous examples of great headlines generating less clicks than good or average headline scores.

how to analyze headlines

For instance:

  • A Simple Guide to Smart Social Media Aggregation scored 73, but got just 36 clicks.
  • Misrepresentative Content: What You Need to Know scored 79, but only got 20 clicks.
  • How to Filter Referral Spam in Google Analytics scored 72, but got 29 clicks.

On the other end, there are numerous examples of average and good headlines generating more clicks than posts with a great score:

  • 3 Ways SEO & Content Work Better Together scored only a 54, but it got 110 clicks.
  • 8 SEO Tips to Optimize Your URL Structure scored just 59, yet it got 139 clicks.
  • Hiring an SEO? Don’t Ask These 13 Dumb Questions got a score of 64, but managed to get 131 clicks.

Bottom line: Some “how to write headline” posts try to make the process sound easier than it actually is. The truth is you really can never know with 100 percent certainty that your headline will click with readers – and get their clicks.

5. Your Content Is Only as Good as Your Headline

Spending hours writing what you consider “high-quality” content is essentially all time wasted if your headline is boring.

Don’t just spend 2-3 hours writing a post and slap some lazy headline on it. You’re sabotaging yourself.

While some people might argue that you should write dozens or even a hundred headlines for every piece of content, that’s nonsense.

If you can’t write at least an average-good headline for an article within 30 minutes, maybe there’s something seriously wrong with the content.

6. Your Headline Is Only as Good as Your Content

You can write the greatest headline in the world. But if it’s on a topic your audience doesn’t care about, it’s simply a headline wasted.

A topic that is of great interest ­– even if it has an average headline – will almost always outperform a brilliant headline on a piece of content that is more niche or simply is off-topic to your core audience.

Sometime we tend to overthink things during the content research and ideation stage. It’s really not rocket science – identify topics your audience is interested in and find new and interesting ways to talk about them.

7. Headline Analyzers Can Help You Write Better Headlines

Despite all their flaws, the process of testing your headlines with an analyzer will help you write better headlines. The secret of any kind of writing is to do it more. That’s the only way you’ll improve.

For instance, I pretty much confirmed one thing that I’ve been suspecting lately – that question headlines are losing their effectiveness. In fact, I believe that question headlines can sabotage your content.

seo headline analysis

We tried out nine question headlines on SEJ. Only one attracted any significant engagement (Hiring an SEO? Don’t Ask These 13 Dumb Questions). However, this headline doesn’t fall into the trap that many question headlines do – you can’t answer it with a yes or no (a.k.a., Betteridge’s Law).

Data vs. Creativity

i'm going to try science

Sometimes you just “know” a headline is going to be awesome. It’s perfect. It’s catchy. It’ll grab all the attention and convert like crazy.

Except, if you don’t test it against any other headlines, how do you truly know you couldn’t have had an even better headline?

If there truly is a “perfect” headline for every piece of content you create, you won’t find it unless you’re testing.

The only limit to your headline is your own creativity – and your ability to admit that you might be incredibly biased about how awesome that headline you wrote is.

Be creative. Just let the data be the final decider.

Data always wins.

TL;DR

Can you trust the scores of free headline analyzers to accurately predict which headline will get the most clicks? Nope. You’ll be wrong more than half of the time.

Are headline analyzers worth your time anyway? Yes. Although you’re really writing your headline for one tool’s algorithm, it forces you to re-examine every word you choose carefully.

The more headlines you write and test, the more chances you have to discover the right headline. If you aren’t testing, you’re potentially missing out on traffic, rankings, leads, shares, and revenue.

The more data you collect, the more you’ll know about what YOUR audience responds to. Ultimately, this is why you need to A/B test your headlines.

from Internet Marketing Blog by WordStream http://ift.tt/2wLL9ih

SEO Above the Funnel: Getting More Traffic When You Can’t Rank Any Higher

Posted by Tom.Capper

Normally, as SEOs, we follow a deceptively simple process. We identify how people are searching for our product, then we build or optimize pages or websites to match searcher intent, we make sure Google can find, understand, and trust it, and we wait for the waves of delicious traffic to roll in.

It’s not always that simple, though. What if we have the right pages, but just can’t rank any higher? What if we’re already satisfying all of the search volume that’s relevant to our product, but the business demands growth? What if there is no search volume relevant to our product?

What would you do, for example, if you were asked to increase organic traffic to the books section on Amazon? Or property search traffic to Rightmove (UK) or Zillow (US)? Or Netflix, before anyone knew that true online streaming services existed?

In this post, I’m going to briefly outline four simple tactics for building your relevant organic traffic by increasing the overall size of the market, rather than by trying to rank higher. And none of them require building a single link, or making any changes to your existing pages.

1. Conquer neighboring territories

This is a business tactic as well as an SEO one, but it’s worth keeping an eye out for reasonably uncompetitive verticals adjacent to your own. You have an advantage in these, because you already have a brand, a strong domain, a website to build upon, and so forth. New startups trying to make headway in these spaces will struggle to compete with a fairly low-effort execution on your part, if you judge it well.

Start by ideating related products. For example, if you’re a property listings site, you might look at:

  • Home insurance
  • Home valuation
  • Flat-sharing listings
  • Area guides

Once you’ve outlined your list (it’s probably longer than my example), you can do your basic keyword research, and take a look at the existing ranking pages. This is a bit like identifying keyword opportunities, except you’re looking at the core landing pages of a whole vertical — look at their Domain Authorities, their branded search volumes, the quality of their landing pages, the extent to which they’ve done basic SEO, and ask whether you could do better.

In the example above, you might find that home insurance is well served by fairly strong financial services or comparison sites, but flat-sharing is a weak vertical dominated by a few fairly young and poorly executed sites. That’s your opportunity.

To minimize your risk, you can start with a minimal viable version — perhaps just a single landing page or a white-labeled product. If it does well, you know it merits further investment.

You’ve already established a trusted brand, with a strong website, which users are already engaging in — if you can extend your services and provide good user experiences in other areas, you can beat other, smaller brands in those spaces.

2. Welcome the intimidated

Depending on your vertical, there may be an untapped opportunity among potential customers who don’t understand or feel comfortable with the product. For example, if you sell laptops, many potential customers may be wary of buying a laptop online or without professional advice. This might cause them not to buy, or to buy a cheaper product to reduce the riskiness.

A “best laptops under £500,” or “lightest laptops,” or “best laptops for gaming” page could encourage people to spend more, or to buy online when they might otherwise have bought in a store. Pages like this can be simple feature comparisons, or semi-editorial, but it’s important that they don’t feel like a sales or up-sell function (even though that’s what the “expert” in the store would be!).

This is even more pertinent the more potentially research intensive the purchase is. For example, Crucial have done amazingly for years with their “system scanner,” linked to prominently on their homepage, which identifies potential upgrades and gives less savvy users confidence in their purchase.

Guaranteed compatible!

If this seems like too much effort, the outdoor retailer Snow and Rock don’t have the best website in the world, but they have taken a simpler approach in linking to buying guides from certain product pages — for example, this guide on how to pick a pair of walking boots.

Can you spot scenarios where users abandon in your funnels because of fear or complexity, or where they shift their spend to offline competitors? If you can make them feel safe and supported, you might be able to change their buying behavior.

3. Whip up some fervor

At the opposite end of the spectrum, you have enthusiasts who know your vertical like the back of their hand, but could be incited to treat themselves a little more. I’ve been really impressed recently by a couple of American automotive listings sites doing this really well.

The first is Autotrader.com, who have hired well-known automotive columnist Doug Demuro from Jalopnik.com to produce videos and articles for their enthusiast news section. These articles and videos talk about the nerdy quirks of some of the most obscure and interesting used cars that have been listed on the site, and it’s not uncommon for videos on Doug’s YouTube channel — which mention Autotrader.com and feature cars you could buy on Autotrader.com — to get well into 7-figure viewing counts.

These are essentially adverts for Autotrader.com’s products, but I and hundreds of thousands of others watch them religiously. What’s more, the resulting videos and articles stand to rank for the types of queries that curious enthusiasts may search for, turning informational queries into buying intent, as well as building brand awareness. I actually think Autotrader.com could do even better at this with a little SEO 101 (editorial titles don’t need to be your actual title tag, guys), but it’s already a great tactic.

Another similar site doing this really well is Bringatrailer.com. Their approach is really simple — whenever they get a particularly rare or interesting car listed, they post it on Facebook.

These are super low-effort posts about used cars, but if you take a step back, Bring a Trailer are doing something outrageous. They’re posting links to their product pages on Facebook a dozen or more times a day, and getting 3-figure reaction counts. Some of the lesson here is “have great product pages,” or “exist in an enthusiast-rich vertical,” and I realize that this tactic isn’t strictly SEO. But it is doing a lot of things that we as SEOs try to do (build awareness, search volume, links…), and it’s doing so by successfully matching informational or entertainment intents with transactional pages.

When consumers engage with a brand emotionally or even socially, then you’re more likely to be top-of-mind when they’re ready to purchase — but they’re also more likely to purchase if they’re seeing and thinking about your products, services, and sector in their feed.

4. Tell people your vertical exists

I won’t cover this one in too much detail, because there’s already an excellent Whiteboard Friday on the subject. The key point, however, is that sometimes it’s not just that customers are intimidated by your product. They may never have heard of it. In these cases, you need to appear where they’re looking using demographic targeting, carefully researched editorial sections, or branded content.

What about you, though?

How do you go about drumming up demand in your vertical? Tell me all about it in the comments below.

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These 4 Forgotten AdWords Best Practices Still Matter – Here’s Proof

It’s been a full year since Google first released expanded text ads to advertisers globally – and what a year it’s been! Since they were first announced, advertisers were eager to begin testing the new expanded ad format, but many were hesitant to let go of their tried and true ads.

Now that standard text ads can no longer be created in either AdWords or Bing, it’s time to look at what work lies ahead of us for migrating to expanded text ads.

Expanded Text Ads One Year Later: Adoption and Performance

First, some good news – 95% of search advertisers have at least begun the migration to ETAs. 71% of advertisers have fully migrated to expanded text ads, with an additional 24% still working through their migration, using a mixture of standard text ads and expanded text ads within their account.

expanded text ad adoption stats

Those who have made the migration have mostly seen positive results. In July, those who were migrating between standard text ads and expanded text ads saw their ETAs average an 11% higher CTR than their standard text ad counterparts.

expanded text ad ctr data

And the benefits to expanded text ads aren’t exclusive to AdWords advertisers. Bing Ads advertisers may have more to celebrate after migrating to ETAs. Bing’s SERP is slightly different than that on Google. Bing’s search traffic is predominantly still from desktop devices and Bing also still has ads in the right-hand rail. This subtle difference may account for why ETAs seem to perform 20% better on Bing than on Google:

bing vs. adwords eta data

So, by nearly every metric, most advertisers have found success in transitioning to expanded text ads. But that’s oversimplifying the story. Many advertisers found immediate success with their ETAs, but I’m sure that nearly everyone who’s made the transition has a few horror stories or scars to share. Why was this transition more difficult for some than others?

Rewriting all your ads is certainly a laborious task, and it appears that in all this work over the past year, many advertisers forgot to implement some of the industry’s oldest best practices. These forgotten best practices may explain why so many marketers are so unenthusiastic about Google’s expanded text ads and struggling to make them work.

These four best practices still matter – here’s why.

#1. Test Multiple Expanded Text Ads in Every Ad Group

You’ve likely heard dozens of experts say that ad testing is important, but in the focus to get ETAs into every ad group, most advertisers have settled for testing a single ETA in each ad group.

Fewer than a quarter of advertisers have followed through on older best practices of creating multiple ads in each ad group. When all is said and done, there are overall fewer ads being tested at a time in AdWords today than there was a year ago.

testing expanded text ads best practices

This is an unfortunate trend to see – we know that ad testing is one of the most important habits in a successful paid search campaign, but many are focusing too much on finding the one perfect ETA or holding on to their standard text ads that they’re no longer ad testing as much as they used to.

As Larry Kim used to say, you need to test 100 different ads to find one unicorn ad – with CTRs 3 times above average! Raising a unicorn by testing hundreds of different ads is no small task, but even the smallest amount of ad testing has its benefits.

Our data shows ad groups with multiple ETAs were much more likely to find success in the migration and averaged a 21% higher CTR overall!

why test multiple adwords ads

As a best practice, aim to test at least 3 different ETAs in every ad group! Not only will testing multiple ads help you find the best ads easier, but it turns out just the practice of ad testing may help improve performance, especially with optimal ad rotation settings. Speaking of which…

#2. Set Your Ad Rotations to Optimize

As you create multiple ETAs, you’re going to have to think of which ads could potentially serve to different searchers. For instance, let’s say your phrase match keyword for “Red Sox Tickets” triggers an ad for someone searching for “Cheap Red Sox Tickets.”

If you’re testing different calls to action or offers in your ad copy, they’ll of course perform differently with different kinds of searchers. So which ad will show? If you set your ads to rotate evenly, you’ll be as likely to show your best offer for this search as you would any other offer.

If your campaign is set to rotate ads to optimize for clicks or conversions, however, Google will use signals like a user’s search query, device, demographic, time of day, and past search behavior to show ads more likely to earn you clicks and conversions.

ad rotation settings best practices

The change is a simple one, but as ad testing becomes more complex, it’s increasingly important.

This easy change may also have noticeable changes on your account’s performance. Throughout Q2 2017, we transitioned 419 accounts from a “rotate evenly” to an “optimize for clicks or conversions” ad rotation setting, and the results were, on average, an 8% increase in CTR and 11% increase in CVR!

what's the best adwords ad rotation setting

“But Mark, I like to rotate evenly so I can see the results of my ad tests!”

A fair objection, but it’s worth noting that ad rotation doesn’t affect which ad is shown, but instead which ad enters the ad auction. It’s a subtle difference, but if Google expects an ad to perform worse, then Google may reduce your Quality Score and ad rank in that auction so your ad may appear in a lower position or less frequently. As a result, you’ll seldom see “rotate evenly” ad rotation show equal ad impressions or position among ads in an ad group. Consequently, “rotate evenly” can be sabotaging your own ad tests’ results as they run.

But often, “rotate evenly” prevents your ad tests from succeeding simply because the account managers forget to follow up or take too long to conclude their tests. What do you do with an ad with no conversions? What about one with no clicks? What about ads in low traffic ad groups? If you don’t have the time or data to conclude these ad tests, then optimizing your ad rotation may be your only path toward success.

Most manual ad tests have a simple one or two variable approach. Consider this ad test:

adwords ad test

Which is the better performing ad? Many would look at these two ads and conclude the first ad as the “winner” and pause the second ad. But if you dive one segment deeper…

adwords ad test analysis

Looking at the same data by device reveals meaningful insight – the first ad may perform better on desktop, but the second ad performs better on tablets and mobile! You may not immediately notice these trends, but Google does and accounts for trends like them when optimizing your ad rotation.

#3. Use ALL the Different Ad Extensions

A few years ago, it was a no-brainer to make use of every possible ad extensionsitelinks, call extensions, location extensions, maybe an app extension, and you were done!

But Google has made new ad extensions all the rage, releasing a new one every few months. Now with callout extensions, structured snippets, price extensions, affiliate location extensions, message extensions, and Google’s newest promotion extensions – it’s easy to fall behind or be tempted to skip one. I mean, if your goal is to drive online conversions, why would you spend a ton of money to have people click on your location extension, right?

Well, not really. Even if you’re showing multiple types of ad extensions, very few people click on extensions – 89% of all clicks are on the ads’ headlines themselves. Sitelinks may get a small share of clicks from these ads, but overall these extensions get few direct clicks and cost almost nothing.

adwords extensions share of clicks

Ok, if no one clicks on ad extensions, then why bother creating them? Well, even if few people click on an extension, people certainly notice them immediately! Compare the following two ads – which are you more likely to notice and click on?

This one?

adwords ad with extensions

Or this one?

adwords ad without extensions

Ad extensions get people to notice your ad faster, and even if they don’t drive direct clicks, you’ll certainly notice more clicks when an ad extension is showing. For example, location extensions may only drive 1% of all paid clicks from the SERP, but ads with location extensions have almost twice as high a CTR as those without a location extension showing!

App extensions may drive even fewer clicks, but they can increase your ad’s CTR six-fold! These increases in CTR are great in themselves, but they also help to improve the Quality Score of your ads, ultimately saving you money!

ctr by extension type

So even if an ad extension isn’t particularly enticing for your company, don’t ignore it – it can still improve your overall ad’s CTR and Quality Score. All businesses can enjoy these benefits – and we would know! Even though we don’t expect anyone to ever randomly show up at our office, WordStream decided to include a location extension with our ads:

adwords extensions in ad example

The result? When that address shows, our ads have a CTR twice as high as when it doesn’t. Our next closest competitor is also pushed 12pts further down the SERP. The costs for these benefits? A whopping $6.04 last month.

#4. Create Ad Extensions Across the Entire Account

The good news – most accounts have created common ad extensions like sitelinks, callouts, and call extensions. The unfortunate news – while most have created these extensions, 1 out of every 7 accounts will forget to apply them to all (or in some cases, any) of their campaigns, and thus many of their campaigns don’t reap the CTR and Quality Score benefits of these extensions, even after all the work of creating them!

adwords sitelinks best practices

While an extensive audit of your account will catch these kinds of mistakes, it’s too easy to forget to reapply each ad extension after you create a new campaign. To protect yourself from not having extensive ad extension coverage, you can create some generic ad extensions that will apply to your entire business at the account level.

adwords extensions best practices

As you create more specific campaigns and want to complement your ads with more relevant ad extensions, you can also apply those extensions at the campaign or ad group levels to suit your needs. Extensions at the ad group or campaign level will be used within those ad groups and campaigns instead of those at the ad group level! Combining account level extensions with campaign and ad group level extensions gives advertisers the control they need while ensuring full exposure across all their ads.

These best practices have been overlooked in the transition to ETAs over the past year, but implementing them is simple and should significantly improve your ads’ performance!

Data Sources:

Where not otherwise noted, the aggregated data in this post is based on a sample of 11,014 accounts with active search (excluding DSA and shopping) campaigns.

About the author:

Mark is a Senior Data Scientist at WordStream, focused on research and training for the everchanging world of PPC. He was named the 5th Most Influential PPC Expert of 2017 by PPC Hero. You can follow him on TwitterLinkedIn, and Google +.

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Google (Almost Certainly) Has an Organic Quality Score (Or Something a Lot Like It) that SEOs Need to Optimize For – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Entertain the idea, for a moment, that Google assigned a quality score to organic search results. Say it was based off of click data and engagement metrics, and that it would function in a similar way to the Google AdWords quality score. How exactly might such a score work, what would it be based off of, and how could you optimize for it?

While there’s no hard proof it exists, the organic quality score is a concept that’s been pondered by many SEOs over the years. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand examines this theory inside and out, then offers some advice on how one might boost such a score.

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http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

Google's Organic Quality Score

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about organic quality score.

So this is a concept. This is not a real thing that we know Google definitely has. But there’s this concept that SEOs have been feeling for a long time, that similar to what Google has in their AdWords program with a paid quality score, where a page has a certain score assigned to it, that on the organic side Google almost definitely has something similar. I’ll give you an example of how that might work.

So, for example, if on my site.com I have these three — this is a very simplistic website — but I have these three subfolders: Products, Blog, and About. I might have a page in my products, 14axq.html, and it has certain metrics that Google associates with it through activity that they’ve seen from browser data, from clickstream data, from search data, and from visit data from the searches and bounces back to the search results, and all these kinds of things, all the engagement and click data that we’ve been talking about a lot this year on Whiteboard Friday.

So they may have these metrics, pogo stick rate and bounce rate and a deep click rate (the rate with which someone clicks to the site and then goes further in from that page), the time that they spend on the site on average, the direct navigations that people make to it each month through their browsers, the search impressions and search clicks, perhaps a bunch of other statistics, like whether people search directly for this URL, whether they perform branded searches. What rate do unique devices in one area versus another area do this with? Is there a bias based on geography or device type or personalization or all these kinds of things?

But regardless of that, you get this idea that Google has this sort of sense of how the page performs in their search results. That might be very different across different pages and obviously very different across different sites. So maybe this blog post over here on /blog is doing much, much better in all these metrics and has a much higher quality score as a result.

Current SEO theories about organic quality scoring:

Now, when we talk to SEOs, and I spend a lot of time talking to my fellow SEOs about theories around this, a few things emerge. I think most folks are generally of the opinion that if there is something like an organic quality score…

1. It is probably based on this type of data — queries, clicks, engagements, visit data of some kind.

We don’t doubt for a minute that Google has much more sophistication than the super-simplified stuff that I’m showing you here. I think Google publicly denies a lot of single types of metric like, “No, we don’t use time on site. Time on site could be very variable, and sometimes low time on site is actually a good thing.” Fine. But there’s something in there, right? They use some more sophisticated format of that.

2. We also are pretty sure that this is applying on three different levels:

This is an observation from experimentation as well as from Google statements which is…

  • Domain-wide, so that would be across one domain, if there are many pages with high quality scores, Google might view that domain differently from a domain with a variety of quality scores on it or one with generally low ones.
  • Same thing for a subdomain. So it could be that a subdomain is looked at differently than the main domain, or that two different subdomains may be viewed differently. If content appears to have high quality scores on this one, but not on this one, Google might generally not pass all the ranking signals or give the same weight to the quality scores over here or to the subdomain over here.
  • Same thing is true with subfolders, although to a lesser extent. In fact, this is kind of in descending order. So you can generally surmise that Google will pass these more across subfolders than they will across subdomains and more across subdomains than across root domains.

3. A higher density of good scores to bad ones can mean a bunch of good things:

  • More rankings in visibility even without other signals. So even if a page is sort of lacking in these other quality signals, if it is in this blog section, this blog section tends to have high quality scores for all the pages, Google might give that page an opportunity to rank well that it wouldn’t ordinarily for a page with those ranking signals in another subfolder or on another subdomain or on another website entirely.
  • Some sort of what we might call “benefit of the doubt”-type of boost, even for new pages. So a new page is produced. It doesn’t yet have any quality signals associated with it, but it does particularly well.

    As an example, within a few minutes of this Whiteboard Friday being published on Moz’s website, which is usually late Thursday night or very early Friday morning, at least Pacific time, I will bet that you can search for “Google organic quality score” or even just “organic quality score” in Google’s engine, and this Whiteboard Friday will perform very well. One of the reasons that probably is, is because many other Whiteboard Friday videos, which are in this same subfolder, Google has seen them perform very well in the search results. They have whatever you want to call it — great metrics, a high organic quality score — and because of that, this Whiteboard Friday that you’re watching right now, the URL that you see in the bar up above is almost definitely going to be ranking well, possibly in that number one position, even though it’s brand new. It hasn’t yet earned the quality signals, but Google assumes, it gives it the benefit of the doubt because of where it is.

  • We surmise that there’s also more value that gets passed from links, both internal and external, from pages with high quality scores. That is right now a guess, but something we hope to validate more, because we’ve seen some signs and some testing that that’s the case.

3 ways to boost your organic quality score

If this is true — and it’s up to you whether you want to believe that it is or not — even if you don’t believe it, you’ve almost certainly seen signs that something like it’s going on. I would urge you to do these three things to boost your organic quality score or whatever you believe is causing these same elements.

1. You could add more high-performing pages. So if you know that pages perform well and you know what those look like versus ones that perform poorly, you can make more good ones.

2. You can improve the quality score of existing pages. So if this one is kind of low, you’re seeing that these engagement and use metrics, the SERP click-through rate metrics, the bounce rate metrics from organic search visits, all of these don’t look so good in comparison to your other stuff, you can boost it, improve the content, improve the navigation, improve the usability and the user experience of the page, the load time, the visuals, whatever you’ve got there to hold searchers’ attention longer, to keep them engaged, and to make sure that you’re solving their problem. When you do that, you will get higher quality scores.

3. Remove low-performing pages through a variety of means. You could take a low-performing page and you might say, “Hey, I’m going to redirect that to this other page, which does a better job answering the query anyway.” Or, “Hey, I’m going to 404 that page. I don’t need it anymore. In fact, no one needs it anymore.” Or, “I’m going to no index it. Some people may need it, maybe the ones who are visitors to my website, who need it for some particular direct navigation purpose or internal purpose. But Google doesn’t need to see it. Searchers don’t need it. I’m going to use the no index, either in the meta robots tag or in the robots.txt file.”

One thing that’s really interesting to note is we’ve seen a bunch of case studies, especially since MozCon, when Britney Muller, Moz’s Head of SEO, shared the fact that she had done some great testing around removing tens of thousands of low-quality, really low-quality performing pages from Moz’s own website and seen our rankings and our traffic for the remainder of our content go up quite significantly, even controlling for seasonality and other things.

That was pretty exciting. When we shared that, we got a bunch of other people from the audience and on Twitter saying, “I did the same thing. When I removed low-performing pages, the rest of my site performed better,” which really strongly suggests that there’s something like a system in this fashion that works in this way.

So I’d urge you to go look at your metrics, go find pages that are not performing well, see what you can do about improving them or removing them, see what you can do about adding new ones that are high organic quality score, and let me know your thoughts on this in the comments.

We’ll look forward to seeing 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!

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Google (Almost Certainly) Has an Organic Quality Score (Or Something a Lot Like It) that SEOs Need to Optimize For – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Entertain the idea, for a moment, that Google assigned a quality score to organic search results. Say it was based off of click data and engagement metrics, and that it would function in a similar way to the Google AdWords quality score. How exactly might such a score work, what would it be based off of, and how could you optimize for it?

While there’s no hard proof it exists, the organic quality score is a concept that’s been pondered by many SEOs over the years. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand examines this theory inside and out, then offers some advice on how one might boost such a score.

http://ift.tt/2vohSvq

http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

Google's Organic Quality Score

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about organic quality score.

So this is a concept. This is not a real thing that we know Google definitely has. But there’s this concept that SEOs have been feeling for a long time, that similar to what Google has in their AdWords program with a paid quality score, where a page has a certain score assigned to it, that on the organic side Google almost definitely has something similar. I’ll give you an example of how that might work.

So, for example, if on my site.com I have these three — this is a very simplistic website — but I have these three subfolders: Products, Blog, and About. I might have a page in my products, 14axq.html, and it has certain metrics that Google associates with it through activity that they’ve seen from browser data, from clickstream data, from search data, and from visit data from the searches and bounces back to the search results, and all these kinds of things, all the engagement and click data that we’ve been talking about a lot this year on Whiteboard Friday.

So they may have these metrics, pogo stick rate and bounce rate and a deep click rate (the rate with which someone clicks to the site and then goes further in from that page), the time that they spend on the site on average, the direct navigations that people make to it each month through their browsers, the search impressions and search clicks, perhaps a bunch of other statistics, like whether people search directly for this URL, whether they perform branded searches. What rate do unique devices in one area versus another area do this with? Is there a bias based on geography or device type or personalization or all these kinds of things?

But regardless of that, you get this idea that Google has this sort of sense of how the page performs in their search results. That might be very different across different pages and obviously very different across different sites. So maybe this blog post over here on /blog is doing much, much better in all these metrics and has a much higher quality score as a result.

Current SEO theories about organic quality scoring:

Now, when we talk to SEOs, and I spend a lot of time talking to my fellow SEOs about theories around this, a few things emerge. I think most folks are generally of the opinion that if there is something like an organic quality score…

1. It is probably based on this type of data — queries, clicks, engagements, visit data of some kind.

We don’t doubt for a minute that Google has much more sophistication than the super-simplified stuff that I’m showing you here. I think Google publicly denies a lot of single types of metric like, “No, we don’t use time on site. Time on site could be very variable, and sometimes low time on site is actually a good thing.” Fine. But there’s something in there, right? They use some more sophisticated format of that.

2. We also are pretty sure that this is applying on three different levels:

This is an observation from experimentation as well as from Google statements which is…

  • Domain-wide, so that would be across one domain, if there are many pages with high quality scores, Google might view that domain differently from a domain with a variety of quality scores on it or one with generally low ones.
  • Same thing for a subdomain. So it could be that a subdomain is looked at differently than the main domain, or that two different subdomains may be viewed differently. If content appears to have high quality scores on this one, but not on this one, Google might generally not pass all the ranking signals or give the same weight to the quality scores over here or to the subdomain over here.
  • Same thing is true with subfolders, although to a lesser extent. In fact, this is kind of in descending order. So you can generally surmise that Google will pass these more across subfolders than they will across subdomains and more across subdomains than across root domains.

3. A higher density of good scores to bad ones can mean a bunch of good things:

  • More rankings in visibility even without other signals. So even if a page is sort of lacking in these other quality signals, if it is in this blog section, this blog section tends to have high quality scores for all the pages, Google might give that page an opportunity to rank well that it wouldn’t ordinarily for a page with those ranking signals in another subfolder or on another subdomain or on another website entirely.
  • Some sort of what we might call “benefit of the doubt”-type of boost, even for new pages. So a new page is produced. It doesn’t yet have any quality signals associated with it, but it does particularly well.

    As an example, within a few minutes of this Whiteboard Friday being published on Moz’s website, which is usually late Thursday night or very early Friday morning, at least Pacific time, I will bet that you can search for “Google organic quality score” or even just “organic quality score” in Google’s engine, and this Whiteboard Friday will perform very well. One of the reasons that probably is, is because many other Whiteboard Friday videos, which are in this same subfolder, Google has seen them perform very well in the search results. They have whatever you want to call it — great metrics, a high organic quality score — and because of that, this Whiteboard Friday that you’re watching right now, the URL that you see in the bar up above is almost definitely going to be ranking well, possibly in that number one position, even though it’s brand new. It hasn’t yet earned the quality signals, but Google assumes, it gives it the benefit of the doubt because of where it is.

  • We surmise that there’s also more value that gets passed from links, both internal and external, from pages with high quality scores. That is right now a guess, but something we hope to validate more, because we’ve seen some signs and some testing that that’s the case.

3 ways to boost your organic quality score

If this is true — and it’s up to you whether you want to believe that it is or not — even if you don’t believe it, you’ve almost certainly seen signs that something like it’s going on. I would urge you to do these three things to boost your organic quality score or whatever you believe is causing these same elements.

1. You could add more high-performing pages. So if you know that pages perform well and you know what those look like versus ones that perform poorly, you can make more good ones.

2. You can improve the quality score of existing pages. So if this one is kind of low, you’re seeing that these engagement and use metrics, the SERP click-through rate metrics, the bounce rate metrics from organic search visits, all of these don’t look so good in comparison to your other stuff, you can boost it, improve the content, improve the navigation, improve the usability and the user experience of the page, the load time, the visuals, whatever you’ve got there to hold searchers’ attention longer, to keep them engaged, and to make sure that you’re solving their problem. When you do that, you will get higher quality scores.

3. Remove low-performing pages through a variety of means. You could take a low-performing page and you might say, “Hey, I’m going to redirect that to this other page, which does a better job answering the query anyway.” Or, “Hey, I’m going to 404 that page. I don’t need it anymore. In fact, no one needs it anymore.” Or, “I’m going to no index it. Some people may need it, maybe the ones who are visitors to my website, who need it for some particular direct navigation purpose or internal purpose. But Google doesn’t need to see it. Searchers don’t need it. I’m going to use the no index, either in the meta robots tag or in the robots.txt file.”

One thing that’s really interesting to note is we’ve seen a bunch of case studies, especially since MozCon, when Britney Muller, Moz’s Head of SEO, shared the fact that she had done some great testing around removing tens of thousands of low-quality, really low-quality performing pages from Moz’s own website and seen our rankings and our traffic for the remainder of our content go up quite significantly, even controlling for seasonality and other things.

That was pretty exciting. When we shared that, we got a bunch of other people from the audience and on Twitter saying, “I did the same thing. When I removed low-performing pages, the rest of my site performed better,” which really strongly suggests that there’s something like a system in this fashion that works in this way.

So I’d urge you to go look at your metrics, go find pages that are not performing well, see what you can do about improving them or removing them, see what you can do about adding new ones that are high organic quality score, and let me know your thoughts on this in the comments.

We’ll look forward to seeing 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/2uvIuYv

Google (Almost Certainly) Has an Organic Quality Score (Or Something a Lot Like It) that SEOs Need to Optimize For – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Entertain the idea, for a moment, that Google assigned a quality score to organic search results. Say it was based off of click data and engagement metrics, and that it would function in a similar way to the Google AdWords quality score. How exactly might such a score work, what would it be based off of, and how could you optimize for it?

While there’s no hard proof it exists, the organic quality score is a concept that’s been pondered by many SEOs over the years. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand examines this theory inside and out, then offers some advice on how one might boost such a score.

http://ift.tt/2vohSvq

http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

Google's Organic Quality Score

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about organic quality score.

So this is a concept. This is not a real thing that we know Google definitely has. But there’s this concept that SEOs have been feeling for a long time, that similar to what Google has in their AdWords program with a paid quality score, where a page has a certain score assigned to it, that on the organic side Google almost definitely has something similar. I’ll give you an example of how that might work.

So, for example, if on my site.com I have these three — this is a very simplistic website — but I have these three subfolders: Products, Blog, and About. I might have a page in my products, 14axq.html, and it has certain metrics that Google associates with it through activity that they’ve seen from browser data, from clickstream data, from search data, and from visit data from the searches and bounces back to the search results, and all these kinds of things, all the engagement and click data that we’ve been talking about a lot this year on Whiteboard Friday.

So they may have these metrics, pogo stick rate and bounce rate and a deep click rate (the rate with which someone clicks to the site and then goes further in from that page), the time that they spend on the site on average, the direct navigations that people make to it each month through their browsers, the search impressions and search clicks, perhaps a bunch of other statistics, like whether people search directly for this URL, whether they perform branded searches. What rate do unique devices in one area versus another area do this with? Is there a bias based on geography or device type or personalization or all these kinds of things?

But regardless of that, you get this idea that Google has this sort of sense of how the page performs in their search results. That might be very different across different pages and obviously very different across different sites. So maybe this blog post over here on /blog is doing much, much better in all these metrics and has a much higher quality score as a result.

Current SEO theories about organic quality scoring:

Now, when we talk to SEOs, and I spend a lot of time talking to my fellow SEOs about theories around this, a few things emerge. I think most folks are generally of the opinion that if there is something like an organic quality score…

1. It is probably based on this type of data — queries, clicks, engagements, visit data of some kind.

We don’t doubt for a minute that Google has much more sophistication than the super-simplified stuff that I’m showing you here. I think Google publicly denies a lot of single types of metric like, “No, we don’t use time on site. Time on site could be very variable, and sometimes low time on site is actually a good thing.” Fine. But there’s something in there, right? They use some more sophisticated format of that.

2. We also are pretty sure that this is applying on three different levels:

This is an observation from experimentation as well as from Google statements which is…

  • Domain-wide, so that would be across one domain, if there are many pages with high quality scores, Google might view that domain differently from a domain with a variety of quality scores on it or one with generally low ones.
  • Same thing for a subdomain. So it could be that a subdomain is looked at differently than the main domain, or that two different subdomains may be viewed differently. If content appears to have high quality scores on this one, but not on this one, Google might generally not pass all the ranking signals or give the same weight to the quality scores over here or to the subdomain over here.
  • Same thing is true with subfolders, although to a lesser extent. In fact, this is kind of in descending order. So you can generally surmise that Google will pass these more across subfolders than they will across subdomains and more across subdomains than across root domains.

3. A higher density of good scores to bad ones can mean a bunch of good things:

  • More rankings in visibility even without other signals. So even if a page is sort of lacking in these other quality signals, if it is in this blog section, this blog section tends to have high quality scores for all the pages, Google might give that page an opportunity to rank well that it wouldn’t ordinarily for a page with those ranking signals in another subfolder or on another subdomain or on another website entirely.
  • Some sort of what we might call “benefit of the doubt”-type of boost, even for new pages. So a new page is produced. It doesn’t yet have any quality signals associated with it, but it does particularly well.

    As an example, within a few minutes of this Whiteboard Friday being published on Moz’s website, which is usually late Thursday night or very early Friday morning, at least Pacific time, I will bet that you can search for “Google organic quality score” or even just “organic quality score” in Google’s engine, and this Whiteboard Friday will perform very well. One of the reasons that probably is, is because many other Whiteboard Friday videos, which are in this same subfolder, Google has seen them perform very well in the search results. They have whatever you want to call it — great metrics, a high organic quality score — and because of that, this Whiteboard Friday that you’re watching right now, the URL that you see in the bar up above is almost definitely going to be ranking well, possibly in that number one position, even though it’s brand new. It hasn’t yet earned the quality signals, but Google assumes, it gives it the benefit of the doubt because of where it is.

  • We surmise that there’s also more value that gets passed from links, both internal and external, from pages with high quality scores. That is right now a guess, but something we hope to validate more, because we’ve seen some signs and some testing that that’s the case.

3 ways to boost your organic quality score

If this is true — and it’s up to you whether you want to believe that it is or not — even if you don’t believe it, you’ve almost certainly seen signs that something like it’s going on. I would urge you to do these three things to boost your organic quality score or whatever you believe is causing these same elements.

1. You could add more high-performing pages. So if you know that pages perform well and you know what those look like versus ones that perform poorly, you can make more good ones.

2. You can improve the quality score of existing pages. So if this one is kind of low, you’re seeing that these engagement and use metrics, the SERP click-through rate metrics, the bounce rate metrics from organic search visits, all of these don’t look so good in comparison to your other stuff, you can boost it, improve the content, improve the navigation, improve the usability and the user experience of the page, the load time, the visuals, whatever you’ve got there to hold searchers’ attention longer, to keep them engaged, and to make sure that you’re solving their problem. When you do that, you will get higher quality scores.

3. Remove low-performing pages through a variety of means. You could take a low-performing page and you might say, “Hey, I’m going to redirect that to this other page, which does a better job answering the query anyway.” Or, “Hey, I’m going to 404 that page. I don’t need it anymore. In fact, no one needs it anymore.” Or, “I’m going to no index it. Some people may need it, maybe the ones who are visitors to my website, who need it for some particular direct navigation purpose or internal purpose. But Google doesn’t need to see it. Searchers don’t need it. I’m going to use the no index, either in the meta robots tag or in the robots.txt file.”

One thing that’s really interesting to note is we’ve seen a bunch of case studies, especially since MozCon, when Britney Muller, Moz’s Head of SEO, shared the fact that she had done some great testing around removing tens of thousands of low-quality, really low-quality performing pages from Moz’s own website and seen our rankings and our traffic for the remainder of our content go up quite significantly, even controlling for seasonality and other things.

That was pretty exciting. When we shared that, we got a bunch of other people from the audience and on Twitter saying, “I did the same thing. When I removed low-performing pages, the rest of my site performed better,” which really strongly suggests that there’s something like a system in this fashion that works in this way.

So I’d urge you to go look at your metrics, go find pages that are not performing well, see what you can do about improving them or removing them, see what you can do about adding new ones that are high organic quality score, and let me know your thoughts on this in the comments.

We’ll look forward to seeing 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/2uvIuYv

Google (Almost Certainly) Has an Organic Quality Score (Or Something a Lot Like It) that SEOs Need to Optimize For – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Entertain the idea, for a moment, that Google assigned a quality score to organic search results. Say it was based off of click data and engagement metrics, and that it would function in a similar way to the Google AdWords quality score. How exactly might such a score work, what would it be based off of, and how could you optimize for it?

While there’s no hard proof it exists, the organic quality score is a concept that’s been pondered by many SEOs over the years. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand examines this theory inside and out, then offers some advice on how one might boost such a score.

http://ift.tt/2vohSvq

http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

Google's Organic Quality Score

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about organic quality score.

So this is a concept. This is not a real thing that we know Google definitely has. But there’s this concept that SEOs have been feeling for a long time, that similar to what Google has in their AdWords program with a paid quality score, where a page has a certain score assigned to it, that on the organic side Google almost definitely has something similar. I’ll give you an example of how that might work.

So, for example, if on my site.com I have these three — this is a very simplistic website — but I have these three subfolders: Products, Blog, and About. I might have a page in my products, 14axq.html, and it has certain metrics that Google associates with it through activity that they’ve seen from browser data, from clickstream data, from search data, and from visit data from the searches and bounces back to the search results, and all these kinds of things, all the engagement and click data that we’ve been talking about a lot this year on Whiteboard Friday.

So they may have these metrics, pogo stick rate and bounce rate and a deep click rate (the rate with which someone clicks to the site and then goes further in from that page), the time that they spend on the site on average, the direct navigations that people make to it each month through their browsers, the search impressions and search clicks, perhaps a bunch of other statistics, like whether people search directly for this URL, whether they perform branded searches. What rate do unique devices in one area versus another area do this with? Is there a bias based on geography or device type or personalization or all these kinds of things?

But regardless of that, you get this idea that Google has this sort of sense of how the page performs in their search results. That might be very different across different pages and obviously very different across different sites. So maybe this blog post over here on /blog is doing much, much better in all these metrics and has a much higher quality score as a result.

Current SEO theories about organic quality scoring:

Now, when we talk to SEOs, and I spend a lot of time talking to my fellow SEOs about theories around this, a few things emerge. I think most folks are generally of the opinion that if there is something like an organic quality score…

1. It is probably based on this type of data — queries, clicks, engagements, visit data of some kind.

We don’t doubt for a minute that Google has much more sophistication than the super-simplified stuff that I’m showing you here. I think Google publicly denies a lot of single types of metric like, “No, we don’t use time on site. Time on site could be very variable, and sometimes low time on site is actually a good thing.” Fine. But there’s something in there, right? They use some more sophisticated format of that.

2. We also are pretty sure that this is applying on three different levels:

This is an observation from experimentation as well as from Google statements which is…

  • Domain-wide, so that would be across one domain, if there are many pages with high quality scores, Google might view that domain differently from a domain with a variety of quality scores on it or one with generally low ones.
  • Same thing for a subdomain. So it could be that a subdomain is looked at differently than the main domain, or that two different subdomains may be viewed differently. If content appears to have high quality scores on this one, but not on this one, Google might generally not pass all the ranking signals or give the same weight to the quality scores over here or to the subdomain over here.
  • Same thing is true with subfolders, although to a lesser extent. In fact, this is kind of in descending order. So you can generally surmise that Google will pass these more across subfolders than they will across subdomains and more across subdomains than across root domains.

3. A higher density of good scores to bad ones can mean a bunch of good things:

  • More rankings in visibility even without other signals. So even if a page is sort of lacking in these other quality signals, if it is in this blog section, this blog section tends to have high quality scores for all the pages, Google might give that page an opportunity to rank well that it wouldn’t ordinarily for a page with those ranking signals in another subfolder or on another subdomain or on another website entirely.
  • Some sort of what we might call “benefit of the doubt”-type of boost, even for new pages. So a new page is produced. It doesn’t yet have any quality signals associated with it, but it does particularly well.

    As an example, within a few minutes of this Whiteboard Friday being published on Moz’s website, which is usually late Thursday night or very early Friday morning, at least Pacific time, I will bet that you can search for “Google organic quality score” or even just “organic quality score” in Google’s engine, and this Whiteboard Friday will perform very well. One of the reasons that probably is, is because many other Whiteboard Friday videos, which are in this same subfolder, Google has seen them perform very well in the search results. They have whatever you want to call it — great metrics, a high organic quality score — and because of that, this Whiteboard Friday that you’re watching right now, the URL that you see in the bar up above is almost definitely going to be ranking well, possibly in that number one position, even though it’s brand new. It hasn’t yet earned the quality signals, but Google assumes, it gives it the benefit of the doubt because of where it is.

  • We surmise that there’s also more value that gets passed from links, both internal and external, from pages with high quality scores. That is right now a guess, but something we hope to validate more, because we’ve seen some signs and some testing that that’s the case.

3 ways to boost your organic quality score

If this is true — and it’s up to you whether you want to believe that it is or not — even if you don’t believe it, you’ve almost certainly seen signs that something like it’s going on. I would urge you to do these three things to boost your organic quality score or whatever you believe is causing these same elements.

1. You could add more high-performing pages. So if you know that pages perform well and you know what those look like versus ones that perform poorly, you can make more good ones.

2. You can improve the quality score of existing pages. So if this one is kind of low, you’re seeing that these engagement and use metrics, the SERP click-through rate metrics, the bounce rate metrics from organic search visits, all of these don’t look so good in comparison to your other stuff, you can boost it, improve the content, improve the navigation, improve the usability and the user experience of the page, the load time, the visuals, whatever you’ve got there to hold searchers’ attention longer, to keep them engaged, and to make sure that you’re solving their problem. When you do that, you will get higher quality scores.

3. Remove low-performing pages through a variety of means. You could take a low-performing page and you might say, “Hey, I’m going to redirect that to this other page, which does a better job answering the query anyway.” Or, “Hey, I’m going to 404 that page. I don’t need it anymore. In fact, no one needs it anymore.” Or, “I’m going to no index it. Some people may need it, maybe the ones who are visitors to my website, who need it for some particular direct navigation purpose or internal purpose. But Google doesn’t need to see it. Searchers don’t need it. I’m going to use the no index, either in the meta robots tag or in the robots.txt file.”

One thing that’s really interesting to note is we’ve seen a bunch of case studies, especially since MozCon, when Britney Muller, Moz’s Head of SEO, shared the fact that she had done some great testing around removing tens of thousands of low-quality, really low-quality performing pages from Moz’s own website and seen our rankings and our traffic for the remainder of our content go up quite significantly, even controlling for seasonality and other things.

That was pretty exciting. When we shared that, we got a bunch of other people from the audience and on Twitter saying, “I did the same thing. When I removed low-performing pages, the rest of my site performed better,” which really strongly suggests that there’s something like a system in this fashion that works in this way.

So I’d urge you to go look at your metrics, go find pages that are not performing well, see what you can do about improving them or removing them, see what you can do about adding new ones that are high organic quality score, and let me know your thoughts on this in the comments.

We’ll look forward to seeing 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/2uvIuYv

Google (Almost Certainly) Has an Organic Quality Score (Or Something a Lot Like It) that SEOs Need to Optimize For – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Entertain the idea, for a moment, that Google assigned a quality score to organic search results. Say it was based off of click data and engagement metrics, and that it would function in a similar way to the Google AdWords quality score. How exactly might such a score work, what would it be based off of, and how could you optimize for it?

While there’s no hard proof it exists, the organic quality score is a concept that’s been pondered by many SEOs over the years. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand examines this theory inside and out, then offers some advice on how one might boost such a score.

http://ift.tt/2vohSvq

http://ift.tt/1SsY8tZ

Google's Organic Quality Score

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about organic quality score.

So this is a concept. This is not a real thing that we know Google definitely has. But there’s this concept that SEOs have been feeling for a long time, that similar to what Google has in their AdWords program with a paid quality score, where a page has a certain score assigned to it, that on the organic side Google almost definitely has something similar. I’ll give you an example of how that might work.

So, for example, if on my site.com I have these three — this is a very simplistic website — but I have these three subfolders: Products, Blog, and About. I might have a page in my products, 14axq.html, and it has certain metrics that Google associates with it through activity that they’ve seen from browser data, from clickstream data, from search data, and from visit data from the searches and bounces back to the search results, and all these kinds of things, all the engagement and click data that we’ve been talking about a lot this year on Whiteboard Friday.

So they may have these metrics, pogo stick rate and bounce rate and a deep click rate (the rate with which someone clicks to the site and then goes further in from that page), the time that they spend on the site on average, the direct navigations that people make to it each month through their browsers, the search impressions and search clicks, perhaps a bunch of other statistics, like whether people search directly for this URL, whether they perform branded searches. What rate do unique devices in one area versus another area do this with? Is there a bias based on geography or device type or personalization or all these kinds of things?

But regardless of that, you get this idea that Google has this sort of sense of how the page performs in their search results. That might be very different across different pages and obviously very different across different sites. So maybe this blog post over here on /blog is doing much, much better in all these metrics and has a much higher quality score as a result.

Current SEO theories about organic quality scoring:

Now, when we talk to SEOs, and I spend a lot of time talking to my fellow SEOs about theories around this, a few things emerge. I think most folks are generally of the opinion that if there is something like an organic quality score…

1. It is probably based on this type of data — queries, clicks, engagements, visit data of some kind.

We don’t doubt for a minute that Google has much more sophistication than the super-simplified stuff that I’m showing you here. I think Google publicly denies a lot of single types of metric like, “No, we don’t use time on site. Time on site could be very variable, and sometimes low time on site is actually a good thing.” Fine. But there’s something in there, right? They use some more sophisticated format of that.

2. We also are pretty sure that this is applying on three different levels:

This is an observation from experimentation as well as from Google statements which is…

  • Domain-wide, so that would be across one domain, if there are many pages with high quality scores, Google might view that domain differently from a domain with a variety of quality scores on it or one with generally low ones.
  • Same thing for a subdomain. So it could be that a subdomain is looked at differently than the main domain, or that two different subdomains may be viewed differently. If content appears to have high quality scores on this one, but not on this one, Google might generally not pass all the ranking signals or give the same weight to the quality scores over here or to the subdomain over here.
  • Same thing is true with subfolders, although to a lesser extent. In fact, this is kind of in descending order. So you can generally surmise that Google will pass these more across subfolders than they will across subdomains and more across subdomains than across root domains.

3. A higher density of good scores to bad ones can mean a bunch of good things:

  • More rankings in visibility even without other signals. So even if a page is sort of lacking in these other quality signals, if it is in this blog section, this blog section tends to have high quality scores for all the pages, Google might give that page an opportunity to rank well that it wouldn’t ordinarily for a page with those ranking signals in another subfolder or on another subdomain or on another website entirely.
  • Some sort of what we might call “benefit of the doubt”-type of boost, even for new pages. So a new page is produced. It doesn’t yet have any quality signals associated with it, but it does particularly well.

    As an example, within a few minutes of this Whiteboard Friday being published on Moz’s website, which is usually late Thursday night or very early Friday morning, at least Pacific time, I will bet that you can search for “Google organic quality score” or even just “organic quality score” in Google’s engine, and this Whiteboard Friday will perform very well. One of the reasons that probably is, is because many other Whiteboard Friday videos, which are in this same subfolder, Google has seen them perform very well in the search results. They have whatever you want to call it — great metrics, a high organic quality score — and because of that, this Whiteboard Friday that you’re watching right now, the URL that you see in the bar up above is almost definitely going to be ranking well, possibly in that number one position, even though it’s brand new. It hasn’t yet earned the quality signals, but Google assumes, it gives it the benefit of the doubt because of where it is.

  • We surmise that there’s also more value that gets passed from links, both internal and external, from pages with high quality scores. That is right now a guess, but something we hope to validate more, because we’ve seen some signs and some testing that that’s the case.

3 ways to boost your organic quality score

If this is true — and it’s up to you whether you want to believe that it is or not — even if you don’t believe it, you’ve almost certainly seen signs that something like it’s going on. I would urge you to do these three things to boost your organic quality score or whatever you believe is causing these same elements.

1. You could add more high-performing pages. So if you know that pages perform well and you know what those look like versus ones that perform poorly, you can make more good ones.

2. You can improve the quality score of existing pages. So if this one is kind of low, you’re seeing that these engagement and use metrics, the SERP click-through rate metrics, the bounce rate metrics from organic search visits, all of these don’t look so good in comparison to your other stuff, you can boost it, improve the content, improve the navigation, improve the usability and the user experience of the page, the load time, the visuals, whatever you’ve got there to hold searchers’ attention longer, to keep them engaged, and to make sure that you’re solving their problem. When you do that, you will get higher quality scores.

3. Remove low-performing pages through a variety of means. You could take a low-performing page and you might say, “Hey, I’m going to redirect that to this other page, which does a better job answering the query anyway.” Or, “Hey, I’m going to 404 that page. I don’t need it anymore. In fact, no one needs it anymore.” Or, “I’m going to no index it. Some people may need it, maybe the ones who are visitors to my website, who need it for some particular direct navigation purpose or internal purpose. But Google doesn’t need to see it. Searchers don’t need it. I’m going to use the no index, either in the meta robots tag or in the robots.txt file.”

One thing that’s really interesting to note is we’ve seen a bunch of case studies, especially since MozCon, when Britney Muller, Moz’s Head of SEO, shared the fact that she had done some great testing around removing tens of thousands of low-quality, really low-quality performing pages from Moz’s own website and seen our rankings and our traffic for the remainder of our content go up quite significantly, even controlling for seasonality and other things.

That was pretty exciting. When we shared that, we got a bunch of other people from the audience and on Twitter saying, “I did the same thing. When I removed low-performing pages, the rest of my site performed better,” which really strongly suggests that there’s something like a system in this fashion that works in this way.

So I’d urge you to go look at your metrics, go find pages that are not performing well, see what you can do about improving them or removing them, see what you can do about adding new ones that are high organic quality score, and let me know your thoughts on this in the comments.

We’ll look forward to seeing 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/2uvIuYv