Google Author Rank is coming. Author Rank is an algorithmic analysis of an author’s authority which is used as a search engine ranking signal. When Google Author Rank comes, you’ll want to be ready, having firmly established yourself as a trustworthy authority. Now is the time for authors, journalists, bloggers and other content creators to evaluate themselves as authors in the way a search engine would. With last month’s disappearance of author photos from the SERP, we believe we’re closer than ever to the actualization of Google Author Rank. This means it’s time to evaluate your authority as an author by:
- Looking at Google Analytics to determine the traffic, bounce rate, and time-on-page to articles on your site
- Looking at data on when, where and how your articles (across sites) are being shared
- Consistently monitoring your content to see where it is ranking for its intended keywords
- Looking at how you align with prominent authors in your area of expertise; i.e. are you as prolific? As in-depth? As followed? As shared? As socially influential based on Klout score (read more on Klout here)?
In the search marketing industry there’s high demand for tools that can evaluate an online presence against metrics like those above, and tools built specifically for analyzing author authority are now coming to market. One such tool that calculates an authority score is ClearVoice, a free platform which has already indexed more than 100,000 authors since it’s launch last month.
“Authoritative writers are finally being digitally recognized by readers as trusted sources. It’s only natural that search engines would weigh the importance not only of the source of content but the voice behind it to showcase content authority,” said Joe Griffin, co-founder of ClearVoice.
How is the ClearVoice Score Determined?
With the ClearVoice Score, content creators have access to an objective measurement of their authority as an author. The ClearVoice Score is calculated by an algorithm that evaluates content that has been marked up for Google Authorship or for Twitter social cards. The ClearVoice Score is then calculated based upon factors including:
- The amount of websites the author contributes to
- The domain authority and reach of those websites
- How often the author publishes content
- How much each piece of content is shared
Authors will then be given a score between 1 and 100 (100 is the top possible score). The average ClearVoice Score is 45.7, and 25% of writers score between 40 and 50. The top .01% of writers have a ClearVoice Score above 90. These numbers, of course, can fluctuate as more and more content creators are evaluated.
“This metric is imperative in today’s influencer marketing economy. If, as a brand or publisher, you’re looking for a writer with a strong voice in a particular vertical that not only can produce compelling content but can also amplify that content, ClearVoice is a powerful tool for identifying those top-tier voices,” explained ClearVoice PR Director Allison Freeland.
Freeman also points out that ClearVoice is the first platform to use Twitter social card markup for authorship validation. ClearVoice studied the habits of 500 major media outlets and found that 40.8% of articles are marked up for Twitter social cards and 33.4% are marked up for Google Authorship. Knowing that, ClearVoice thought it would be valuable to identify content creators via their “digital signature” on Twitter as well as Google+.
How to Leverage Your ClearVoice Score
There’s a reason we look at metrics; as with traffic reports, ranking reports, follower counts and more, they provide us empirical data of where we’ve been and where we’re going. Is ClearVoice an absolute indicator of your worth as a content creator? Or course not — but it’s a tool to help you gauge your reach and grow by identifying how and where you can improve. That way, when Google Author Rank comes (and we believe it will), you will be ahead of the game!
Could Disappearing Author Photos in Google SERPs Signal Coming Author Rank? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
When John Mueller announced Google was “simplifying the way authorship is shown in mobile and desktop search results, removing the profile photo and circle count,” he asserted that this change was simply an effort to de-clutter the search engine results page (SERP). Prominent Internet marketers, however, had their own theories on Google’s latest bold move.
Here we evaluate some of the theories posed by industry thought leaders about why Google has cut author photos from SERPs. We also explore how the removal of author photos from SERPs may actually portend Google’s intent to add author reputation as an algorithmic ranking factor.
Background on Google Authorship and Author Rank
First, a refresher on the Google Authorship program and when to apply authorship code to a web page.
The only place authorship markup should appear is on pages that offer educational, unique or otherwise useful information, created by a true author. Authorship markup should not appear on product pages, for example. Think of a magazine — bylines don’t belong on advertisements; they belong on articles. Google has historically used authorship markup to create a special display, or rich snippet, in its search results that may include an author’s name and head shot.
For more on what Google authorship markup is and how to correctly implement it on a website, read Claiming Your Authorship on the Web.
It’s also necessary to understand how Google may now or eventually use an individual author’s reputation as a ranking signal. Author Rank is industry jargon for an algorithm that gauges the authority of an author so that higher rankings can be given to content written by more authoritative authors. This concept is called “Agent Rank” in one Google patent for a system that quantifies author authority.
Google confirmed that author authority was a ranking signal within In-Depth Articles results. It’s not known if author reputation is used as a ranking signal in other contexts, but there has been indication from Google reps that the search engine would like to use author authority in appropriate contexts if it can be trusted as a clean signal — that is, if the ranking factor can’t be easily spammed.
Abuse of Authorship Markup
Since Google authorship photos debuted in 2011, there have been many reports of increased click-through rates (CTR). A Catalyst Search Marketing case study, for example, found SERP results with author photos saw a 150% CTR increase.
History has shown that known ranking signals become targets of spam and abuse. Ecommerce sites have inappropriately implemented authorship markup on product pages that don’t qualify as “authored” content.
In December 2013, Matt Cutts announced a change that would reduce the appearance of authorship photos in SERPs by 15 percent. This was likely motivated by Google’s interest in cleaning up the signal, weeding out unauthoritative and inappropriate authorship markup. Some have theorized that the latest removal of author photos altogether can also be viewed as a move by Google to stop abuse of authorship markup.
“Google has a vested interest in eliminating people who are using authorship markup just to get their picture in SERPs for an enhanced CTR — people who aren’t really authors or interested in writing true content,” said Bruce Clay, Inc. Senior SEO Analyst Rob Ramirez. “Now that Google has removed photos, i.e., the reward, we’ll see a cleaner SERP.”
In a nutshell, by removing the incentive to abuse authorship markup, Google may be moving closer to using author authority as a ranking factor.
Consider also how Google has experimented with including photos and bylines and a mix of not having one or the other. Google has been selective when including photos and bylines, not always including author bylines despite proper authorship markup implementation. Yet, since Google removed photos completely, we now see author bylines in SERPs consistently. That is, while author photos have been removed altogether, we can now trust that bylines will show up (where authorship markup is set up). Before, it was up to Google’s discretion whether a result would be enhanced with any author info.
Noted Google-authorship expert Mark Traphagen reported:
“Qualification for an authorship byline now is simply having correct markup. This was a bit of a surprise given Google’s move last December to differentiate and highlight authors with better quality content who publish on trusted sites. But in a Google Webmaster Central Hangout on June 25, 2014, John Mueller indicated that now as long as the two-way verification … could be correctly read by Google, a byline would likely be shown.”
With the return of bylines for all authors and the removal of authorship photos, it seems like Google is experimenting with authorship rich snippets as it moves toward an increased emphasis on authorship and a fully realized Author Rank.
Ramirez expects that moving forward, SEOs will continue to see changes within authorship:
“The next thing that we might see Google do is clean up those authors who aren’t really publishing content. How often someone publishes content might start to become a factor. If, for example, authorship is set up one time and it hasn’t budged since that date, that might indicate to Google that this ‘author’ is not, in fact, a real author. In such cases, the user might lose any kind of benefit of authorship. Now that they’ve gotten rid of the photo enhancement in the SERP, they have the problem of cleaning up the people that were spamming it before. That has to be a next step before they go to Author Rank.”
Did Google Remove Author Photos Because the Images Competed with Ads?
On the day of Mueller’s announcement, noted search industry speaker Rand Fishkin (of SEO tools company Moz) tweeted: “the compelling explanation for Google removing profile pics from search is that it distracted from ads, and cost advertisers clicks” and that he was “frustrated [by John Mueller] saying that it will not cost CTR. Either Google lied about the increase in CTR with photos, or they’re lying now.”
In his announcement regarding the removal of authorship photos, Mueller said experiments indicated that CTR would remain steady despite the change to the SERP. Fishkin was not alone in his disbelief; Larry Kim of search advertising software company WordStream tested the theory by turning to analytics data. By his analysis, the CTR of a WordStream ad targeting “negative keywords” gained a 44% increase after the removal of author photos.
“We tested this data rigorously, and the difference we observed is statistically significant with 99% confidence due to the high number of daily ad impressions (thousands) for this keyword,” Kim wrote. “It’s clear to us that based on this data, it’s not realistic to say the deletion of Google authorship photos has no impact on the CTR of other elements on the SERP.”
Even if the removal of authorship photos impacts CTR on ads, Ramirez doesn’t think ad revenue was Google’s main catalyst for this change.
“Things are rarely that black and white when it comes to Google’s motives. I don’t think that Google is hurting for money — they don’t need to make those kind of decisions,” Ramirez said.
Instead, Google’s motivation is most likely tied to improving results and encouraging a cleaner signal for author authority. In the following video, Ramirez shares more of his thoughts on the changes in Google authorship in an exclusive interview:
After almost three years since its last episode, SEM Synergy is making a comeback to WebmasterRadio.FM. It’s the Internet marketing podcast you don’t want to miss hosted by leading search marketing expert Bruce Clay, president and founder of Bruce Clay, Inc.
With new episodes starting July 16 (THAT’S TODAY!) at 11 a.m. Pacific time, 2 p.m. Eastern time, Bruce Clay will be joined by co-hosts Virginia Nussey and Mindy Weinstein. Together, the trio will bring Internet marketers and business owners a weekly dose of news and commentary with interviews from the brightest minds in SEO, like next week’s guest Duane Forrester of Bing and past guests that have included Matt Cutts, Bryan Eisenberg and Avinash Kaushik.
Picking up right where they left off in 2011, Bruce and hosts will be talking about all the different puzzle pieces that make SEO come together synergistically from branding, content marketing and social media to paid search, analytics and conversions. In the first episode of the relaunched radio series, listen in as they discuss Panda 4.0, updates to Google’s Quality Rating Guidelines, the disappearance of author photos in search results, and Matt Cutts’ leave of absence.
Described as a kinder and gentler version of Google’s latest algorithm update, Panda 4.0 targets sites with little content or low-quality content on their web pages. In a Google+ Hangout on Air recorded shortly after the news of Panda 4.0 broke, Weinstein discussed why this was a good thing for Internet marketing. On today’s show the discussion turns to how SEO strategies have transformed over the past several years and how Bruce approaches website rankings in a post-Panda world.
New Quality Rating Guidelines
A sixth generation of the Google Quality Rating Guidelines was just recently “leaked.” The guide is given to human reviewers to give Google feedback on the quality of pages in relation to search queries. SEOs can use this document to evaluate the quality of their site and pages as Google might. Bruce, Mindy and Virginia discuss what the new guidelines entail. They also answer questions like: How will these guidelines affect your rankings? And if Google doesn’t trust your website, will your visitors?
Vanishing Authorship Photos
There has been speculation from many in the industry on why Google removed author photos from appearing in search results. One theory is that author photos weren’t a valid sign of authority as originally intended. But is this true, or is there something bigger at play going on here? Get the scoop on how to approach authorship markup moving forward on today’s episode of SEM Synergy.
Matt Cutts Takes Personal Leave
Google’s leading spokesperson to the search marketing industry is taking a leave of absence. After 15 years of working with Google since the very beginning, this will be the longest amount of time he will be taking off from his role as head of Google’s webspam team. But where will we get our all-important SEO updates during his absence? Bruce, Mindy and Virginia look at life outside of SEO and SEO news without Matt Cutts.
It was interesting to learn while listening to the show that Bruce Clay has been doing SEO since 1996; meanwhile Google didn’t hit the scene until 1998! SEM Synergy aims to offer weekly coverage of the newest marketing strategies, emerging technologies and search marketing news affecting the daily work lives of Internet marketers and business owners across the globe.
Tune into SEM Synergy with Bruce Clay and co-hosts every Wednesday at 11 a.m. Pacific on WebmasterRadio.FM or through the WebmasterRadio.FM mobile application for iOS and Android devices. Listen to past episodes of SEM Synergy on-demand by visiting the archives under the Search Engine Optimization channel at WebmasterRadio.FM.
With mobile Internet usage at an all-time high, Google has been cracking down on websites with poor mobile experience. Mobile web design and user experience must be addressed as part of any effective online strategy.
The way a site handles traffic from mobile devices can directly affect that business’s presence in search results. Just this month, Google announced it was adding a disclaimer beneath mobile search results that redirect smartphone users from the page they click on in the SERP to that site’s home page. From Google’s perspective, this disclaimer improves its mobile experience; meanwhile webmasters should be concerned if their mobile websites are ill-equipped to handle the growing number of mobile queries.
Update: Hours after this post was published, Google announced another change to SERPs related to warning mobile users about sub-optimal user experience. Websites that use Flash will include a disclaimer that the site listed in the results “Uses Flash” and “May not work on your device.”
The pressure is on for websites to provide a user-friendly mobile experience as the number of mobile queries surpassed desktop queries this year.
Mobile browsing isn’t a here-today-gone-tomorrow fad. The mobile web has given rise to a new way of life for consumers. Mobile design is no longer an option, but a necessity in a world where mobile-friendly websites turn visitors into customers.
According the Pew Research Center:
- 90 percent of American adults own a cell phone.
- ⅔ of Americans with cell phones use their phones to go online.
- ⅓ of Americans with cell phones use their mobile device as their primary access point to the Internet.
- Since 2012 smartphone adoption has grown by 69 percent.
So, is your mobile website experience up to par? To help business owners and Internet marketers stay current with mobile trends, lead SEO analyst at Bruce Clay, Inc., Ty Carson, reports the most common pitfalls in mobile website design.
Mobile Website Technology
Avoiding the most common pitfalls in mobile web design begins first and foremost with choosing the right technology to build your mobile website. Without an IT or web developer background, how do you know which technologies are more search-engine friendly than others?
Mobile Web Design Options
Once you’ve decided on which technology you’re going to use to build your mobile website, the next important factor to consider is which of the three smartphone configurations that Google supports works best for your website:
- Responsive web design
- Dynamic serving
- A separate mobile site
BCI SEO Analyst John Alexander covered the pros and cons of each option in a BCI blog post titled A Cheat Sheet for Mobile Design. Read the full post for details on the benefits and drawbacks of each, but at a high level know that:
- Responsive design is Google’s preferred smartphone configuration for mobile websites. However, this may not always be a practical solution depending on the size and layout of your website.
- Dynamic serving is another great option for mobile web design, but it can be a little tricky to implement and may result in unintentional cloaking issues if not implemented correctly.
- A separate mobile site is a fairly common option, particularly among websites with lots of pages, but requires double the maintenance with a whole separate website in the mix.
Whichever configuration you choose to work with, or have already implemented, there’s still a chance you could be losing 68 percent of mobile traffic if these mobile solutions are not implemented correctly.
Common Problems With Mobile Sites Built In HTML
Want to make it easier for your customers to find you no matter where they are or what device they are using? Keep reading to find out if you’re committing one of these cardinal sins of mobile web design as seen through the eyes of our lead SEO analyst who has conducted more than his fair share of mobile site SEO reviews.
Pitfall #1: Faulty Redirects
A website should correctly detect user agents and direct the visitor to the desired page of a desktop website or mobile website, as appropriate. In order for the server to properly direct visitors coming from a variety of devices, the mobile site must have corresponding equivalent pages for every page on the desktop site. This issue is the instigating factor for Google’s new handling of search results that redirect users to the home page, as described above.
Pitfall #2: Missing (or Wrong) Alternate
This issue can be a problem for site’s with a separate mobile site. As a general rule of thumb, every desktop page should point to a corresponding mobile page. This can be done by including a rel=”alternate” tag on desktop pages. Most importantly, the mobile page you point to needs to be a page that closely matches that of the desktop page. This creates a better search experience for mobile users. There’s nothing more disappointing for mobile users than to click on a seemingly promising result only to discover that the page doesn’t really exist … at least for a mobile device user.
Pitfall #3: Missing (or Wrong) Canonical
Here’s another issue that can arise when using a separate mobile site. For every mobile page with a corresponding desktop page that points to it, website owners should be including a rel=”canonical” tag that points to the corresponding desktop page. While the rel=”alternate” tag on mobile pages improves mobile search experience, the canonical tag prevents duplicate content issues and lets search engines know which version of the page should be indexed.
Pitfall #4: Cloaking to Change Content Based on User-Agent
Pitfall #5: Mobile Website Speed
According to data from Google Analytics, the average web page takes about 10 seconds to load on a mobile device, and yet most mobile users have a significantly shorter attention span than that. Google recommends cutting page loading time down to one second or less for optimal mobile user experience. Use tools like Google Page Speed Insights or W3C Mobile Validator to run site speed tests and identify different ways to improve your mobile site’s page loading times.
Pitfall #6: Large Image and File Sizes
Related to issue #3 above, image-heavy websites with large file sizes are major issues that can cause your web pages to load a lot more slowly. The longer it takes for your page to load, the more likely you are to lose visitors. Slow page loading times can also result in slower crawl rates, which means less of your mobile pages getting indexed. The solution: Use compressed images and smaller file size to reduce the time it takes mobile search engines to render your page.
Pitfall #7: Missing Meta Tags
When it comes to delivering search results, Google treats mobile and desktop quite differently when user behavior and intent are factored into search results. That’s why you want to optimize your website for mobile search the same way you would for desktop search. The easiest fix for missing Meta tags on your mobile pages is to pull them from their corresponding desktop pages and make sure they match what the mobile user is searching in Google for a seamless user experience.
Pitfall #8: No Mobile Sitemap
If you have a separate mobile site, you need a separate sitemap. Without a sitemap for your mobile site, you’ll only make it harder for search engines to quickly identify what your site and pages are all about. The sitemap also clues them in on additional pages on your website that may have been missed during the normal crawling process. A sitemap.xml file should be created containing all of the static pages that should be crawled and indexed by search engines and reside in the root directory for your m.domain site.
Avoid the most common pitfalls in mobile design by installing website analytics and verifying ownership of both your desktop and mobile website through Webmaster Tools. This will help you identify and fix errors that may be hindering the mobile experience for users.
Get mobile SEO tips and so much more by checking out the Bruce Clay, Inc. Blog. If you’re interested in a mobile site SEO review, get in touch with us for guidance on how to improve your mobile site experience.
3 Enhancements to Bing Ads Manager Rolling Out Now was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
A few changes to the Bing Ads user interface are rolling out and we got a walk-through of them earlier this week. If you’re managing paid search campaigns on the Yahoo Bing network, expect to see these tweaks to your UI in the coming weeks.
Exclude 0-Click Terms in Search Terms Report
What it is: Faster report running time and a more refined data set in the returned report as the filter will return only search queries which resulted in clicks
Why we like it: This can be useful for those interested in only looking at search queries that received clicks. As far as speeding up things, it really depends on the amount of data you are trying to look at. This will not make a big difference to most, but for those who need to see (or not see) 0-click data, it can be more convenient than having to download a spreadsheet and manipulate it in Excel.
Bid Estimation Workflow Enhancements
What it is: Three new non-default columns in the keywords grid for easier consumption
- Estimated Mainline bid
- Estimated Front Page bid
- Estimated Top Page bid
Why we like it: The major advantage of having estimated bid data is it gives advertisers an idea of the estimated bid levels necessary to achieve the desired ad position in the SERPs. For example, if an advertiser has a valuable keyword that they’d like to show ads for at the top of the page, they’d be able to get a good idea of how much they’d have to bid (and spend) to achieve the “Top of Page” position. If they have a keyword that is not as important, or if they simply can’t afford to show at the top of the page and pay a premium CPC, they might want to utilize the “Mainline” or “Front Page” bid estimate, so they are at least visible in the SERPs but not paying a ton for position.
New Delivery Statuses
What it is: Two new delivery status types for keyword entities under “Eligible – Limited”
- Low search volume
- Low quality score
Why we like it: Delivery status basically tells us whether or not there are any issues with the keyword being able to serve. For example, an “Eligible” keyword is eligible to show ads that are triggered by searchers, with no issue. Sometimes, if the Quality Score is too low, the deliver status will tell us that there is an issue (Low QS) that might cause our ad to not run. This information has been available in AdWords for a while. This information is significant because it simply gives us more in-depth ability to troubleshoot serving issues, specifically for individual keywords. This way, we can diagnose and fix any problems.
We’re currently seeing the bid estimation workflow enhancements and new delivery statuses in our Bing Ads manager but not yet seeing the 0-click terms in search reports. What data or enhancements you’d see in your ads manager if Bing was taking requests? Let us know in the comments.
Yesterday morning the Google Shopping Team, including Partner Education Manager, Nicole Premo, and Product Specialist, Chris Azalde, held their second Google+ Hangout where they discussed best practices for Shopping campaigns and AdWords Editor support.
During the informational session, the Shopping Team reviewed a few items to keep in mind when managing the new replacement of PLAs and Shopping Campaign benefits. Whether you’re new to Product Listing Ads or a PLA master, the following takeaways and recommendations will help you with the Shopping campaign transition taking full effect in late August.
Below you’ll find takeaways from the Google+ Hangout including:
- Best practices for implementing a Google Shopping campaign feed
- A heads-up on updated data feed attributes
- Shiny new features coming to the AdWords Editor (version 10.5!)
And, if you’re interested in talking about how Bruce Clay, Inc. can help you manage your Google Shopping or other paid search campaigns, let’s get in touch!
Best Practices for an Optimized Shopping Campaign Feed
Ensure “product data is complete, fresh and accurate”
- Upload data regularly to keep information current
- Once a day, or depending on changes, schedule frequent uploads
- Feeds should be kept updated to reflect any new price changes and availability
- “Product eligibility can improve your impressions”
- Match the data feed to the information found on your website
- Submit Unique Product Identifiers
Keep “titles, descriptions and images user-friendly”
- Use high-quality, clear images for products
- Use white, gray or light gray backgrounds
- Avoid watermarks and logos
- “Relevancy can improve your click through rate”
- Use Search Query Reports to hone relevancy of products’ keyword lists
- No keyword stuffing
Keep “product type and custom labels in good shape”
- “Bid based on your product group’s relative value”
- Organize your inventory by product type for easy management of your shopping campaigns
- Create a product catalogue or taxonomy
- Five custom labels are available and they make management control of new and old products that much easier
- Each product can be assigned up to 5 labels
Updated Specifications for Data Feed Attributes
- Landing Page Policy
- Image Quality Recommendations
- Attribute Character Limits
Note: The Google Shopping Team will be reviewing feeds on Google Merchant Center. Google strongly recommends reviewing the Feed Summary Page for any warnings or messages. GST also mentioned to update account contact information to receive email notifications. You will be hearing from them this summer if your account is in need of any immediate changes.
Note on “is_bundle”: A good example for the best use of this attribute is a bundle including a camera and case. Clearly, the camera is the dominate product in the bundle.
NEW! 10.5 AdWords Editor Features
- Manage and edit campaigns offline
- Bulk Management: Bids and URLs of Product Groups
- Bulk Management: Negative Keywords
- Update promotional text for many Ad Groups
Note: Shopping campaigns or product groups cannot be created or deleted.
Things to Consider
- Adding negative keywords to your Shopping campaigns directly from the Search Query Report is currently not available, but, like PLAs, you can still add keywords lists also available for bulk management
- Review your Search Query Report to see how your customers are searching
- Backend Auction Activity and Algorithm remains the same and has not changed
- How can you get your product to be displayed for highly competitive keywords?
- Submit Unique Product Identifiers
- Update titles and optimize by relevancy
- Submit Product Group Category
“AdWords Best Practices Series” for checklists, whitepapers and more!
3 Factors of a Standout SEO Resume + 1 Bonus Off-page Factor was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Your resume is the first thing a hiring manager is going to see when you apply for a job — is your SEO resume optimized to make a good first impression? Our SEO Manager Mindy Weinstein shared three factors that make for a standout SEO resume:
And beyond the SEO resume itself, she emphasized an off-page factor she considers when hiring a potential SEO analyst: attitude.
SEO Resume Factor 1: Experience
When it comes to experience, an SEO analyst should have at least one to two years of experience. A senior SEO analyst should have three or more, with experience interfacing with clients and managing projects. For those without SEO experience, however, there are internships, apprenticeships and associate SEO positions where aspiring analysts can get valuable experience.
“If someone is coming with no experience, I focus mainly on communication and time management abilities. SEO can be taught, but great communication is harder to learn. I try to relate his or her past work experience with what I know applies to an SEO’s job,” Weinstein said.
SEO Resume Factor 2: Training
Because Internet marketing is a relatively new industry, ways in which SEOs have been trained vary widely (read more in Learning SEO and the Future of SEO Education). Weinstein said she weighs experience more heavily than training. That being said, if a prospective analysts lists a reputable course or certification program on his or her SEO resume, it stands out.
SEO Resume Factor 3: Results
“One of the first things I look for on an SEO resume are results. It’s one thing to say you have experience optimizing web pages and increasing keyword rankings,” said Weinstein. “Backing those statements up with specifics, such as ‘moved primary keyword rankings to the first position in search results and doubled organic traffic,’ is a whole lot more powerful.”
Off-page Factor: Attitude
A standout SEO resume can get you an interview, but your personality and ability to articulate yourself is going to seal the deal. While experience, training and results are key factors, so is your attitude.
“I pay close attention to how a prospective analyst is able to articulate thoughts,” Weinstein said. “I also watch for signs of a positive attitude. For example, if the candidate is very negative when talking about past work experience, it is usually a red flag.”
Put Your SEO Resume to the Ultimate Test
Do you have what it takes to catch Bruce Clay and Weinstein’s attention? Bruce Clay, Inc. is looking for talented SEO analysts to join our team. We have two open positions right now, in fact. Find out more and apply here.
You have been handed a new account to manage. Congratulations! Freaking out? Don’t! No need to start pulling out your hair. In this post, we will cover a few 101-level PPC tips to get you writing ads that draw eyeballs and clicks. Note that these methods are applicable for new accounts and accounts with historical data alike.
Writing creative ad copy is an important skill for the small business managing their own paid advertising as well as a company who hires an agency to manage their account(s) for them. The skill of writing ad copy that gets clicks is one that is honed through repetition, testing and seeing what works with practice. But to give you a boost I’ve distilled the vital qualities into three key points that when kept in mind can help you obtain the results you want from your ad copy.
But First, Research
Going back to our scenario presented in the beginning, you have just been handed a new account to manage. Yet, before creating any content for your ad copy, you need to do your research first. Research includes:
- Identifying the target audience
- Identifying existing competitors
- Are they running any paid advertising?
- Keyword research to identify potential search volume and estimated cost relatable to your client’s product or service
- Identifying the conversions
- Conversions are anything from form submissions, e-commerce transactions, or any other goal identified by the client
Once you know the information mentioned above, you are ready to get started with ad creation!
3 Qualities of Effective Ad Copy
- Calls to Action
- Following Editorial Guidelines
- Presenting Features and Benefits
Calls to Action
- “Sign-Up for your Free Trial”
- “Big Savings – Call Us Today!”
- “Subscribe for Weekly Auction Updates”
Straight-forward, right? Yet, it’s interesting to see a handful of advertisers forget this key feature of an ad. Without a calls to action, your potential consumer or lead might not click on your ad. Why? Well for starters, the viewer doesn’t know what will possibly follow after the click. Yikes! You just lost a possible customer, where it gets recorded as an impression for the related search query and not a click. Remember, too many impressions with very few clicks are one of the factors that will contribute to a low CTR. When creating your amazing ad copy, you have to remember to give the ad a purpose and put yourself as the viewer while asking yourself, “is the action or message clear”?
Not sure where to start or experiencing writers block? Don’t freak out! Remember in the beginning, you did the research, specifically keyword research. Find out what ads are showing for your search query and review the ads on the first handful of search pages. What are some “Call to Actions” you see being used? Another key point when evaluating other competing ads, would be to ask you yourself, “How can I stand out”? Stand out you must, like our friend Yoda might say. While you are reviewing the ads being displayed, keep in mind that being unique will work in your benefit. If all the ads being displayed look or read the same, wouldn’t you think a different verbiage would help the viewer find more interest and prefer the unique ad instead?
Following the Search Engines’ Editorial Guidelines
- Reduce the likelihood of your ads being disapproved for not following policy, and
- Contribute to writing a clear message to lead potential viewers to your converting landing page.
If you have done your research, you have a clear understanding of who your client wants to reach. Next, you need to know the limits of the ad format so you can craft an ad with the appropriate number of characters, use of punctuation and content verbiage as allowed on the platform.
Knowing the limits of the ad type, develop ad copy that reads with flow and is consistent with your other channels of communication.
Google AdWords Character Limits:
|Ad Copy Areas||Character Length|
Bing Ads Character Limits:
|Ad Copy Areas||Character Length|
Highlighting Features and Benefits
Let’s say that your new client is an online computer store that wants to advertise laptops in hopes of growing profits. How can you attract the right customer? This comes down to the message you send through the text of your ad. Let’s get more descriptive with our example.
In your preliminary research you identified the targeted audience, your ideal customer. This computer store client wants to target college students, and as it’s mid-summer, you want to sell as many laptops as possible to freshmen beginning their academic school year in August. So, what do you include in your message? Yes, features and benefits!
The features in your ad act as the information the student needs to know about the laptop. Possible features to focus on include how much memory it has, its size or dimensions, its weight, etc. The benefits in your ad highlight, why the feature, specifically the product, is worth the purchase. Here are some examples.
Product: X Laptop
|16 GB of Memory||Math class just got easy. With 16 GB of memory compute and analyze calculations in no time. Time saver!|
|Built-in webcam||X Laptop comes with a built-in webcam to help you stay in touch while studying out of state.|
|13-inch wide screen||Don’t strain your eyes while studying. Enjoy a comfortable 13-inch screen and give your eyes a rest.|
|Weight: 1.53 pounds||Textbooks are heavy enough, your laptop doesn’t have to – weighing only under 2 pounds! (OR) A laptop under 2 pounds will make running across campus for class a breeze.|
Still not sure what features and benefits to use? See what others are doing, and then improve on those while being unique!
Like everything, especially in the area of creating effective ad copy, it takes time, practice and continuing education. Just how the internet continues to change every day, we as progressive marketers should also continue to keep updated and not forget the foundation of effective account management.
RECOMMENDED READINGS AND REFERENCES
“8 Actionable AdWords Tips for PPC Managers” by Diana Becerra
“12 PPC Tips from the Experts to Start 2014 with a Bang” by John Gagnon, Bing Ads
“Tips for Creating Successful Text Ads” in Google AdWords support
Recap of SEO Course in Italy: 4 SEO Tips to Remember was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
While many Americans enjoyed getting their head out of work during last week’s holiday, a room full of Europeans dove into SEO practices for online business as taught by one American.
Bruce Clay, an expert on natural search engine optimization, came to Milan, Italy, to teach a sold-out, special two-day SEOToolSet® Training hosted by Bruce Clay Europe. During the advanced SEO course held July 2–3, 2014, I took note of some valuable SEO tips arising from the numerous questions he answered.
1. “Penalties will continue”
In 2014, Google will continue to increase its penalties, and the next update may be the heaviest, coming possibly by the end of summer. At SMX Advanced (in June 2014), there was talk of a spam update that will impact about 30% of organic results. Website owners can prepare for this by cleaning up all inbound links and pruning the low-quality ones.
2. “Responsive design is Google’s preference for mobile sites”
Often the question arises whether it is better to redo the site in a mobile version (such as m.domain.com) or with responsive design. Today Google has in its index 60 trillion pages, 90% of which were created for your desktop. The increase in mobile usage forces companies to make sites that are suited to smartphones and other mobile devices. If everyone created a mobile version of their site today, tomorrow there would be 120 trillion pages. This would have a severe economic impact on Google. It’s understandable why Google prefers responsive design, which enables a website to work across devices by adapting to the size of the user’s browser window. Google will save a tremendous amount of server capacity if everyone implements this approach. For more information on mobile design choices, see our post in English or download this mobile SEO Guide in Italian.
3. “If your SEO might damage the UX on Google, DON’T DO IT”
Often when you’re doing SEO, you encounter unexpected questions. The criteria to figure out if what you’re doing on the SEO side goes in the right direction is simple: if you do could harm to the economic interests of Google or the user experience, you’d better not do it. Google does not want its users to go on Bing due to poor search results.
4. “Having a lot of data is not the same as understanding it”
Bruce Clay restated it this way: “Data is different than wisdom.” You have to be careful to draw the right conclusions from your data, not the wrong ones.
SEO training in the shadow of the Cathedral was attended by 43 digital marketing professionals from 7 countries. At the end of the course I asked some of the participants on-the-fly for their opinions (translated here):
“I liked the course, but most of all the interesting content quality and level of exposure. I’m really glad I made this choice.” – Vincent Gengaro of Punto.Net
“The course of Bruce Clay, Inc., offers a complete and professional project for the construction of a concrete and effective SEO. It provides a 360 degree understanding with insights focused on the basics, which are often overlooked in favor of myths. Bruce, on the other hand, is an experienced and credible voice, sometimes out of the choir, to trust without delay. I recommend this course for everyone, experts and others, to better understand and rethink their own experience in the matter.” – Alexander Vriale, Online Specialist Multinational Electronics
Note: Original version in Italian is published at http://www.aleagostini.com/recap-corso-seo-milano-04072014.html
Shopping for the right PPC management agency can be just as tough as managing PPC campaigns themselves. In an industry that is becoming increasingly flooded by PPC “agencies,” how do you find the right one for you? I’m the SEM manager at Bruce Clay, Inc., and over the years I’ve worked with dozens of companies, many with horror stories of prior experiences with sub-par PPC agencies.
Clients who have worked with other PPC agencies have shared tales of wasted spend due to poor quality keywords, poor campaign setup, failure to track to conversions and more — choosing an unqualified PPC agency is a costly mistake. The awesome thing is you can save a lot of time, headache and money by thoroughly vetting PPC agencies. Read on to discover the questions you should be asking in order to find the right PPC agency.
The Track Record
Research the PPC agency. Ask questions and do your own research to determine the PPC agency’s strengths and weaknesses. Find out how long they’ve been around and what reputation they’ve earned. Get answers to the following questions:
- When was the PPC agency established?
- Are they recognized as a thought leader?
- Do they attend conferences? Speak at conferences?
- What books or articles have they written?
- Who are their key players, and are they quoted and referenced in outside publications?
The Client Roster
In order to be an industry leader in PPC management, you must have a wide array of experience, across industries and business functions. It’s a good sign if an agency has work examples of various types of PPC programs.
- Does the PPC agency’s experience align with your business type?
- Do they have a solid track record of working with e-commerce and lead generation clients? B2B, B2C?
- What types of budgets do they manage? Small, local clients with monthly ad budgets in the low thousands? Fortune 100’s with millions of dollars of ad spend? Most importantly, have they managed budgets similar to yours?
The Project Resources
Understanding how the PPC management agency is able to adequately support your account is vital to understanding whether or not they can deliver what you need. From personnel to tools, you need to determine if their resources cater to your needs.
- Does their internal team structure make sense to you?
- Do they use any industry-leading, or proprietary tools?
- Do they have one person, or multiple people trained and working on your account?
- What types of resources are available to you?
At BCI, each PPC client receives a project manager and a dedicated team of at least two analysts that are cross-trained on accounts. We find this allows for optimal client communication and account management, which leads to results.
The Client Retention Rate
It’s one thing to be able to acquire new business, but does the prospective agency retain their clients? A high client retention rate is indicative of an agency that is able to continuously meet their clients’ PPC goals. Hint: The higher the CRR, the better! The best PPC management agencies usually have at least a 90% CRR.
- What is their CRR?
- What’s the average client length of engagement?
- What percentage of their client base have been with the agency for 2+ years?
Last but not least, don’t just take a PPC agency at their word. Case studies can be extremely helpful in providing insight into how prospective agencies are able to move the needle. Not all agencies have these materials readily available, but they should at least be able to provide examples of successful PPC projects.
Are you interested in learning more about the PPC services offered at Bruce Clay, Inc.? Contact us — we’ll be happy to answer any of your questions (including the ones listed above!).
Internet Marketers On Learning SEO and the Future of SEO Education was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Last week, Bruce Clay, Inc. hosted #SEOchat on Twitter and the topic of discussion was SEO Education. Seasoned Internet marketers candidly revealed how they went about learning SEO, sharing tales of internships, books, training courses, conferences and more.
Having begun in the mid-’90s, SEO is still a relatively new industry — the education paths Internet marketers have taken is widely varied. Read on to discover how several SEO managers, senior SEOs and content marketers learned SEO as they answered questions on:
- Learning SEO
- Formal Training
- The Desire to Learn SEO
- SEO First Steps
- SEO Conferences
- Real-World SEO Lessons
- Becoming a Professional SEO
- Advice for Those Just Getting Started
- Continuing SEO Education
- The Future of SEO Education
Eager to jump to a particular topic? Click a heading above … or read them all!
Q1: How much formal training is necessary for an SEO?
@KevinWaugh: Little to none, it is not covered in higher education, and it has moved very fast over the last 5 years.
@MatthewAYoung: Formal training is essential, but a moderate amount is sufficient. SEOs have to learn by doing and sometimes failing.
@SanDiegoSEO: I don’t think any formal training is “needed” but it can sure help separate fact from fiction.
@sonray: It can be helpful if the degree adds value (I went for Phys ED) but DESIRE to learn is more valuable.
@MindyDWeinstein: I think some form of formal training is needed. Hands on is huge, though.
@cshel: I think everything you need to know can be learned outside of a classroom, but that doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to know.
@LanceMoore22: I would say it’s not a formal training, but an art and science.
@tony_dwm: I think that knowledge of biz & training in marketing are pre-req of SEO training. The “why” is key and these help.
@treycopeland: no formal training is needed. read seo blogs. technical experience does help. former web dev turned seo here.
@KevinWaugh: Based on the college students on my team, I’m glad it is not covered. I had to reteach HTML, which is bad.
@CallMeLouzander: Fundamentals don’t change; don’t try to game the system, serve good content, keep up with tech changes.
Q2: If there is formal training, what does that look like? An apprenticeship? An internship? Something else?
@MatthewAYoung: The Bruce Clay SEO training of course! Which I took a few times in my day
@KevinWaugh: Workshops might be the closest to formal, easy to get into, gives you wings, and lets you go.
@LysaChester: I think formal classroom fundamentals in SEO is great, but most learning is done through internships and entry level jobs.
@MindyDWeinstein: Regarding higher education, I actually went through “SEO” textbooks. They are all outdated as soon as they go to print.
@CaitlinBoroden: I began with an internship. I am forever grateful for the opportunity to dig in and learn!
@sonray: I spoke at @SearchDecoder’s NYU Master’s level class. I was super impressed with the class and quality.
@SanDiegoSEO: I would think formal training would consist of a combo of hands on experience, and lessons on what NOT to do and why.
@CallMeLouzander: Whether interning or studying under someone, vet them first. Bad practices in SEO hurt both you and your clients.
@paulaspeak: I learned SEO on the job, but I work for Bruce Clay! #advantage
@ScottCowley: I teach SEO, but I wish there were an ecommerce site to just hand to the students and let them optimize. The system is imperfect.
@KristiKellogg: It seems like formal training of SOME kind ensures bad habits don’t develop.
@MatthewAYoung: I learned SEO through a combo of formal training, client work, personal study, engaging in a community of SEOs.
@crbawden: Went through some online training courses, they covered the basics well but not details, simply reading articles worked better.
@nikipayne: I started learning about SEO taking webinars on behalf of a marketing director who didn’t have time to take them herself.
The Desire to Learn SEO
Q3: When was the first time you heard “SEO?” What made you want to dive in?
@tony_dwn: Late nineties. Primarily a fascination with words and their meaning, coupled with a deep interest in marketing.
@sonray: Working at a bike shop during the winter and was looking for ‘busy work’; started w/ eBay and local search.
@SanDiegoSEO: When an ecommerce client wanted the service. No one was offering it, so I figured I’d learn it. over 14 years ago.
@KristiKellogg: The first time I heard SEO was a week before my interview with @BruceClayInc. SEO, SEM, SMM, PPC, etc. #TooManyAcronyms
@MatthewAYoung: At an old job, the sales and marketing director asked if I could rewrite content on the site with SEO in mind.
@MatthewAYoung: She asked if I knew what SEO was, I lied and said sure …
@LysaChester: First time I heard of SEO was when I went for a job interview asking me about SEO and Social Media experience 1 1/2 ago.
@CallMeLouzander: When I first heard “SEO” I asked programmer friend about it; he didn’t even know white hat SEO existed.
@DigitalDionne: It was 2010 or so. I was still a journo with AP. I was intrigued by strategic word use to “catch” someone. Like fishing. I eventually decided I liked the concept of words that made money. And my career in news was soon dunzo. lol
@KevinWaugh: I heard of it at a job interview for an #ecommerce site, so I decided I should really learn it. Never stopped learning since
@crbawden: Learned of #SEO from a drunk friend who said people make money by getting sites listed on Google. And here I am now.
SEO First Steps
Q4: After you heard those three magic letters, how did your SEO training begin? Online? With a book? With a course?
@CaitlinBoroden: My training kicked off with @sonray and @dragonsearch! Reading lots of blogs and books as well.
@ScottCowley: I had informal job training, but I bought SEO for Dummies and read at night. My wife would write quizzes for me.
@sonray: Read all the blog posts until they become boring. Experimented and failed often which was the best learning.
@MindyDWeinstein: You also learn a lot at SEO conferences by networking. A collection of knowledge all in one place.
@paulaspeak: @smx sets the standard IMO for Internet marketing conferences. Even @dannysullivan & @mattcutts are there.
@KristiKellogg: Fun and random fact — March is the busiest month for #SEO conferences. How do I know? I made the Internet Marketing Conference Calendar.
Q5: What about learning at Internet marketing conferences? Which ones do you attend, and are they worth the price?
@sonray: Depends on your knowledge level and the level of the conf. Some are duds, some are FANTASTIC.
@KevinWaugh: I went to Internet Retailer Web Design conference last year and the SEO part was high level, nothing in part of new tricks. Score: 6/10.
@MatthewAYoung: I think if you’re learning something that can improve your business, conferences are worth the cost.
@MindyDWeinstein: SMX and Pubcon conferences are always great. SMX Advanced is one I highly recommend.
@KristiKellogg: I think perhaps conferences are good once a base level of #SEO knowledge is in place.
@DigitalDionne: I’ve done Digital Summit and Digital Atlanta. I’ve learned good stuff. But really wanna hit SMX.
Real-World SEO Lessons
Q6: What is the most important lesson you had to learn as you gained experience as an SEO?
@sonray: Hustle wins. Pick yourself up off the mat when you fail big and be willing to put yourself back out there.
@MatthewAYoung: How to distill complex SEO concepts to clients so they could understand them.
@KristiKellogg: At first, I was hesitant to trade clever titles for optimized ones — until I saw keyword optimization maximizes reach!
@LysaChester: The fact that it is ever-changing and in SEO there is always something new to learn.
@SanDiegoSEO: Test everything no matter what you’ve heard.
@tony_dwm: That it wasn’t about me. It was about helping clients achieve online results. If they won, I won. If not, why?
@crbawden: Just because we understand #SEO is important doesn’t mean everyone else does.
@MatthewAYoung: You can learn all you want about SEO, but if you aren’t good at client services, then expertise means little.
@nikipayne: Most important lesson learned: Don’t ever buy links!!!
@DigitalDionne: Patience. You won’t be an SEO sorceress in a few days, weeks, months or years.
@ScottCowley: SEO is one piece of a gigantic pie. It works better for some than others. 85% of it doesn’t change. People in SEO are awesome.
@CallMeLouzander: Also, good point. SEO has to work in conjunction with marketing and development to be effective.
Becoming a Professional SEO
Q7: When did it seem that the training wheels had come off and that you warranted the title “SEO”?
@SanDiegoSEO: The first time a client referred me to a friend of theirs, then again when a firm gave me continued pay days.
@sonray: When my clients started seeing sustained traffic & conversion increases month over month.
@KevinWaugh: When the scenario in A6 happened, it shaped my standing in that organization on SEO.
@LysaChester: When I started creating SEO marketing campaigns on my own and they paid off! FTW!
@MindyWeinstein: When I was no longer the one asking the questions, but was the one answering them (and I was seeing results).
@crbawden: When I could finally hold conversations on industry events, probably took at least 6 months of research and reading.
@DigitalDionne: When I started having my own ideas. I’m still just two years in. But it’s like a kid… when they’re a baby, they just listen. But by 11, they have their own thoughts. When I got my own thoughts, I felt like an SEO.
@KristiKellogg: When I saw my articles begin to rank #1.
@MatthewAYoung: When SEO became my state of mind.
Advice for Those Just Getting Started
Q8: What advice would you give to someone wanting to get into SEO?
@LanceMoore22: Be willing to learn. Always learn.
@sonray: Never say no to the opportunities that come your way; be giving with your knowledge.
@SanDiegoSEO: Learn the technical side as well as learning analytics to show what your work has been producing.
@MindyDWeinstein: Work with an SEO company that is willing to train you. Take your time, study and when you are ready, get your hands dirty.
@DigitalDionne: Develop mentors you can trust. Do the white hat – but learn the black hat too. There’s value in knowing the good and bad.
@KristiKellogg: Carefully consider you’re going to learn from. #IChooseBruce
@MatthewAYoung: Learn all you can from the white hat community on what do right, also attend #SEOchat every Thurs!
@djpaisley: Follow and engage with OLD School SEOs still in the game working at the top levels of the industry!!
@kickstartseo: Work with an SEO company that is willing to train you. Take your time, study and when you are ready, get your hands dirty.
Continuing SEO Education
Q9: How do you continue your SEO education?
@MindyDWeinstein: Read SEO blogs and attend conferences. Of course, join the #seochat whenever you can!
@SanDiegoSEO: With no job ever “done” continued work is the best education, but shows, blogs, and articles help too.
@sonray: Building up and teaching my team, sharing what we’ve learned whenever and however possible. Helping others.
@DigitalDionne: Currently doing Market Motives for work. But mostly by reading books and testing (or at least trying to).
@KevinWaugh: Twitter is great to get pulse of industry. Along with forums link @Inboundorg
@CallMeLouzander: Following good SEOs on Twitter and G+ helps. @sonray is right- good SEO involves helping and educating each other. #payitforward
The Future of SEO Education
Q10: Where do you think SEO education is headed? Is this going to be something the class of 2025 will major in?
@sonray: Depends on what happens w/higher ed and people’s opinions; self-learners will always be but degrees will add legitimacy.
@MindyDWeinstein: I believe more colleges will start to offer SEO education. Things change, of course, but students need a foundation.
@KevinWaugh: I think it will baked into the Marketing Degrees, along with other digital endeavors.
Thank you to everyone who participated in this week’s #SEOchat! #SEOchat is held every Thursday at 10 a.m. PT/1 p.m. ET on Twitter. Learn more about participating here.
A Cheat Sheet for Mobile Design: Responsive Design, Dynamic Serving and Mobile Sites was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
We’ve all heard the statistics: 2014 is the year when more people access the Internet on a smartphone than on a computer or laptop. Mobile design is the future. You don’t want your site left behind, but how exactly do you program for this increasingly mobile Internet? There are three main options, each with its own benefits and drawbacks. In this post, I’ll break down your mobile-readiness options, giving you the pros and cons of each to help you choose the best path forward for your website.
Option 1: Responsive Design
Responsive design determines the resolution of the screen on which a page is being viewed using media queries, then adjusts the size and layout of the page appropriately. Google has stated it prefers responsive web design, which makes it the heavyweight in this discussion.
- There’s only one version of each page. The same page adapts to the type of device displaying it (rather than detecting the type of device and then serving different content based on that). Having the same HTML and URL across all devices simplifies your site maintenance.
- Responsive design doesn’t rely on user-agent detection, as the other two options do. User-agent detection (i.e., detecting what browser or device is requesting a web page) isn’t bad in itself, but it’s not perfect, and if there’s a glitch in the process, users may get served the wrong version of your site. In addition, this saves the search engine spiders from having to crawl your site as several different user-agents — meaning more of your site gets crawled.
- Responsive generally loads more quickly in browsers. Because all devices get the same content, there’s no process of request-user agent detection-possible redirection. And anyone who’s ever been hungry and looked for a good restaurant on their smartphone knows, speed counts.
- It can be a long and intensive process to redesign an existing site. So, if you’ve got a big site, moving to responsive may not be the best choice.
- Depending on the layout of your site, it may simply be too difficult to cram the contents onto a mobile screen. Sites like NYTimes.com maintain separate mobile sites because it’s easier to break the content up than it is to put it into a single page.
- Navigation elements don’t always resize well; hover-over elements don’t work on a touch-screen at all. So going responsive may mean changing your navigation.
- There have been instances where responsive pages with lots of images have loaded more slowly with responsive design. I should stress that this is not the norm, but it has happened.
Should you opt for responsive design, keep in mind that you’ll want to optimize your images (covered previously on our blog) and test your site on various browsers and devices (or use a good user-agent emulator) before pushing it live.
Here is a good example of responsive design, from wwf.org.uk:
The mobile version resizes quite nicely:
Option 2: Dynamic Serving
Sometimes referred to as user-agent “sniffing,” dynamic serving can be done in two ways and is tricky to implement. In fact, Google outlines some common mistakes made with dynamic serving. What this technique does is detect a visitor’s user-agent (i.e., what device they’re using to view your site) and then redirects at the server level. One way to implement dynamic serving is unidirectional redirecting, in which links to a site default to the desktop site, but mobile devices get redirected from the desktop site to the mobile site.
The second type, bidirectional redirecting, has code on both the desktop and mobile sites, making sure that any visitor, regardless of device, is served the appropriate content. (These pieces of code are sometimes called switchboard tags.) Implementation means putting a rel=”alternate” tag on the desktop, pointing to the mobile site; and, on the mobile site, putting a rel=”canonical” tag pointing to the desktop site.
- Because the redirection is done at the server level, you only need one URL per page.
- Dynamic serving also works well for feature phones. As defined by PCMag.com, a feature phone is a “cellphone that contains a fixed set of functions beyond voice calling and text messaging, but is not as extensive as a smartphone.” For example, feature phones typically can’t download apps, but usually have some web browsing capability. Per Google, the biggest difference is that feature phones can’t process CSS, so they can’t handle responsive design very well. So it’s important to know your audience and what type of mobile devices they’re using.
- If you want to have a separate set of keywords specifically for your mobile users, then this option will let you do that since mobile users and desktop users each see distinct HTML. (Search Engine Land has a great article that discusses mobile-specific keywords.)
- Dynamic redirecting doubles your site maintenance work because it sets up a separate site for mobile, with a separate set of indexed HTML requiring a separate SEO project.
- The necessary list of user-agent strings also requires constant maintenance, since new strings have to be added whenever a new mobile device is released.
- Lastly, keep in mind that you’ll need to use a “Vary HTTP-User Agents” header if your site serves content dynamically. The header helps content get served properly and helps engines cache it properly. Google has details on how to add this header.
Option 3: A Mobile Site
This option, as the name implies, involves creating a separate domain specifically for mobile users. The most common examples are m.domain.com or mobile.domain.com. It’s a popular option for large retailers; Bridget Randolph points out that “73% of websites ranked in the Quantcast Top 100,000 sites used URL redirects to a mobile specific URL.” Like dynamic serving, this technique involves developing content specifically for visitors using a mobile device; however, a separate mobile site’s URLs are distinct, so there is no server-level redirection.
- For larger sites with page counts in the hundreds of thousands or millions, implementing responsive design may simply be too much work. A mobile site allows you to tailor your user’s experience, and slowly build up a unique mobile experience.
- Like dynamic serving, a mobile site is better for feature phones than responsive design. Depending on your site’s demographic, this may not be a criterion; but for some businesses, it’s an important consideration.
- Your mobile site won’t benefit from any positive backlink profile that your desktop site has built up (unless you implement bidirectional redirects). So if you’re looking to get your mobile users to find you in organic search, this may be a real setback.
- Your mobile site will require some extra SEO work. You’ll have to submit a separate XML Sitemap to Google and Bing Webmaster Tools. Plus, smaller screens mean smaller SERPs, so you may need to edit your Meta tags. Mobile-specific Meta tags should be shorter than those for a desktop site.
Here is an example of a mobile site done right. As mentioned above, NYTimes.com has a full site for desktop visitors:
And mobile.nytimes.com for mobile visitors:
As you can see, the content has been dramatically reformatted and reduced to make it readable on a mobile device.
In sifting through all of this information to make the right choice for your site, don’t forget to ask yourself how many of your visitors are using mobile devices to access the site. Check your analytics. If the total percentage of mobile traffic is under five percent, then you can probably wait to implement mobile design. For now. If the predictions are correct, then mobile usage will only continue to claim more and more Internet traffic.
Why Press Releases Still Matter to SEOs … and How to Write a Press Release that Entices Media was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
In recent years, search engines have devalued links coming from press releases — and while Internet marketers were less than thrilled over the loss of direct SEO benefits, press releases still matter – a lot. Press releases have strong branding value, especially if a journalist turns your press release into an article that will reach the masses and live online.
When a press release gets picked up, it’s not by chance; press releases that get turned into stories are written with the editor and the journalist in mind. They’re relevant, concise, engaging and error-free. I recently wrote about this topic in PR News’ “Media Relations Guidebook.” Read on for an excerpt from “Get Your Press Release Turned into an Article by Crafting an Engaging Message,” and find out how you can best leverage press releases within your Internet marketing campaign — and how to write a press release that entices the media.
Get Your Press Release Turned into an Article by Crafting an Engaging Message
Engaging press releases benefit all parties involved — journalists and editors get clued in on story leads, and brands and businesses are able to get highly valuable media coverage. How valuable is media coverage? According to Starch Research, news articles have “three times more credibility and six times more readership than paid advertising.” For more than a century, press releases have served as a direct line to media professionals and the starting point of many articles.
Editors and journalists are inundated with press releases. PR Newswire and Business Newswire alone send out more than 2,000 press releases a day. If you want your own press release to stand out among the daily flood of press releases journalists and editors receive, it’s essential that you:
- Only issue press releases that are truly newsworthy.
- Get to the point and be concise.
- Leverage statistics, quotes, photos and videos.
- Take the format, spelling and grammar as seriously as an editor will.
Whenever you write a press release, cater to the sensibilities of journalists and editors — they’re the ones, after all, with the power to turn your press release into an article. Read on to discover why these four factors make or break a press release for a journalist or editor.
Only Issue Press Releases that are Truly Newsworthy
Any time you issue a press release, consider whether the material is worthy of a news article. Is the information you’re providing in the press release going to be relevant to readers? Is your press release the starting point of a high-quality article? If you can’t answer yes to both of those questions, you shouldn’t be writing a press release. It’s better to send out one press release a month that is substantial than four that are insubstantial.
Journalists and editors don’t have time to read press releases that aren’t worthy of a story. Issuing a press release that is not truly newsworthy is a waste of your time and the media’s time. Moreover, a brand that issues irrelevant press releases will lose clout among the editors and journalists who read it — and they’ll run the risk of being ignored when they issue a press release that is truly relevant.
Newsworthy press release cover items such as:
- A grand opening
- A new product, service, book or program
- An upcoming event
- An award or recognition
- A donation or volunteer effort
- An acquisition
- VIP hires or departures
Get to the Point and Be Concise
A press release should be between 400 to 600 words and the first line should get to the point straight away. As a journalist would say, don’t bury the lead — media professionals want to know why they’re reading this, immediately — the reason for the press release should be clear in the first sentence. Dispose of any fluff — there’s nothing that will turn a journalist or editor off more quickly. Resist the temptation to engage in hyperbole.
Let’s say the CEO of an investment company just published a new book and the company is issuing a press release. Here’s an example of press release that a journalist is not going to finish reading, let alone turn into a story:
Are you ready for the book that is going to change your life and revolutionize the way you invest? It’s finally here! Throw every other investment book away and get ready to make money hand over fist.
A strong press release should open with facts and get right to the point. Here’s an example of that same press release, stripped of jargon and focused on the facts:
Kinsey Group CEO Grace Kinsey shares her top investment tips and insights — based on more than two decades of experience, her latest book ‘Financial Freedom 101′ will be released by McRiley House next week.
In this second version of the press release, needless hype is disposed of and, in the first sentence, the reader understands exactly why this press release is coming across his or her desk. With a lead like this, you’ll grab an editor’s attention and possibly get your press release turned into a story.
Leverage Statistics, Quotes, Photos and Videos
When journalists write a news story, it’s laden with statistics, quotes and usually includes an image. Journalists include statistics, quotes and photos to engage their readers; in the same way, press releases that include statistics, quotes and photos will engage the journalist.
Mickie Kennedy, the founder and president of eReleases agrees — in the “Beginner’s Guide to Writing Powerful Press Releases,” he advises brands to use statistics, noting that “statistics are an easy way to show the consequence or weight off something, and journalists often cite them to convey the importance of information.”
Quotes from VIPs are also a strong addition to a press release, and often get pulled straight from the release and into the journalist’s article. Whenever possible, include a quote from the C-suite.
Press releases should always include a graphic element. In “Social PR Secrets,” The Buyer Group CEO and award-winning digital strategist Lisa Buyer asserts that embedding images images in press releases increases engagement by approximately 18 percent and linking to videos within press releases increases engagement by 16 percent. It’s clearly in a brand’s best interest to include a photo or video in their press releases.
Take the Format, Spelling and Grammar as Seriously as an Editor Will
Believe it or not, some press releases are issued with spelling and grammatical errors. This is unacceptable — a press releases with errors of this sort will not be taken seriously, and whoever issued it will lose credibility. Triple check your press release for spelling, grammar and formatting. Furthermore, make sure the press release is written in a third-person, objective and adheres to proper press release structure, including a headline, dateline, media contact and boilerplate — and bonus points for anyone who writes the press release in Associated Press (AP) style.
When you write a press release, keep the concerns of your audience — editors and journalists — at the forefront of your mind. Give your press release a fighting chance to get turned into a story by keeping them relevant, concise, engaging and error-free. These are the kinds of press releases that will grab the attention (and earn the respect) of the media.
Still have questions about how to write a press release? Share them in the comments!
Discover What REAL SEO Clients Have to Say About Bruce Clay, Inc. was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Ever wondered what it’s like to work with Bruce Clay, Inc.? We offer Internet marketing services including SEO, PPC, content marketing, web design, and social media marketing. Chances are you’ve read our blog, seen Bruce Clay at conferences or attended one of the SEOToolSet Training sessions … and now you’re thinking of hiring BCI.
Contracting an SEO firm is a major commitment — and even with an award-winning Internet marketing firm that’s been around since 1996, hearing what actual clients say about their experience with BCI is invaluable.
SourcingLine, an independent research firm based in Washington, D.C., recently interviewed four BCI clients as it prepared to release a series of reports ranking digital marketing agencies in major cities (SourcingLine currently ranks BCI as the No. 1 digital marketing agency in Los Angeles and the country).
Read what the following clients had to say in completely independent interviews regarding their experience working with BCI:
- The Golf Warehouse
- Soundproof Cow
- Sylvan Learning
The Golf Warehouse: ‘It’s All About Web Architecture, Rather Than Performing for a Particular Term’
The Golf Warehouse, a sporting goods retailer, rated BCI:
- Quality of Work: 5/5
- Ability to Meet Deadlines: 5/5
- Value for Money Spent: 5/5
- Overall: 5/5
The Golf Warehouse approached BCI after attending a few SEOToolSet Training sessions. With a goal of improving organic search rankings, BCI played a consultative role on SEO matters including site architecture, page load times and overall improvement. The result? A 50 percent increase in traffic, which has doubled since last year.
“Everything that they tell you to do is grounded in that general approach to SEO site-wide rather than one project’s web architecture,” said Tom Murray, the content development manager for The Golf Warehouse.
Read the the full review here.
Soundproof Cow: ‘We Are Definitely Satisfied. They Are Extremely Knowledgeable and Easy to Work With’
Soundproof Cow, a company specializing in high-end soundproofing equipment, rated BCI:
- Quality of Work: 5/5
- Ability to Meet Deadlines: 5/5
- Value for Money Spent: 5/5
- Overall: 5/5
Soundproof Cow started working with BCI after meeting Bruce Clay at an SMX event last year. The goal was to corner the soundproofing market with a newly-branded website optimized to increase web traffic, call-in volume and website sales. BCI was hired by the soundproofing company for monthly SEO consulting and pay-per-click management. After working with BCI for almost a year, Soundproof Cow reported significant increases in keyword ranks and a 10 to 35 percent increase in traffic volume and revenue. The biggest impact was the decreased cost of acquisition by almost $100 per click.
“We are definitely satisfied. The way that BCI and all of their employees operate is extremely professional, they are extremely knowledgeable and easy to work with. We signed with them for another year,” says Michael Unger, Soundproof Cow’s director of IT and marketing.
“Soundproof Cow was very diligent about implementing everything we suggested, which played a huge role in their success,” said client liaison Justin Moreau. “The key to a great working agency-client relationship lies in trust and open communication, which was present from day one with Soundproof Cow.”
Read the full review here.
Sylvan Learning: ‘They Over-Delivered in Almost Everything’
Sylvan Learning, a national tutoring company, rated BCI:
- Quality of Work: 5/5
- Ability to Meet Deadlines: 5/5
- Value for Money Spent: 5/5
- Overall: 5/5
Sylvan Learning reached out to BCI after seeing Bruce Clay at a conference. The tutoring company needed to establish the groundwork for a new website being designed by a separate agency without a strong foothold in SEO-friendly web development. The search engine optimization agency was brought onboard to work with the third-party agency to oversee development of the site while keeping SEO in mind.
Sylvan’s digital marketing manager Matt Corasanti noted that the BCI team was “very clear in setting expectations.”
Since working with BCI, Sylvan Learning reported an increase in valuable traffic.
“Within weeks, we were able to show up on first page ranks on 18 new strategic keywords. That is a big task, given how competitive our industry is,” said Sylvan’s senior director for digital marketing Ya-Yung Cheng. “Bruce Clay was on the entire time. There wasn’t anything I would change in their service, deliverables, or commitment to us. If anything, they over-delivered in almost everything. They were so flexible in working with various players: the internal tech team and outsourced tech teams. They actually communicated and delivered meeting notes with every detail, so we and our technical teams were clear on what to develop.”
Read the full review here.
Netpicks: ‘I’m Very Satisfied. I Haven’t Worked With an SEO Firm This Structured and Organized’
Netpicks, a trading education company for active investors, rated BCI:
- Quality of Work: 5/5
- Ability to Meet Deadlines: 5/5
- Value for Money Spent: 4/5
- Overall: 5/5
BCI helped Netpicks develop an SEO strategy that included reorganizing the website for improved visibility and removing search engine penalties that was impeding their success in search.
“Some of the cleanup work and getting fresh eyes has helped quite a bit and probably improved the user interface,” said Netpicks founder Mark Soberman. “You have to be patient, but once you are, it pays off. I haven’t worked with an SEO firm that’s been this structured and organized. That was always the downfall for the others.”
The CEO reported a 25 to 40 percent increase in organic traffic and the reappearance in SERPs for key terms that had dropped off the radar previously.
“Netpicks has a great team that works well with us to accomplish tasks and meet their deadlines,” said BCI’s client liaison Stacey Bullington.
Read the full review here.
Want to learn more about working Bruce Clay, Inc.? Contact us today to learn how we can help you reach your Internet marketing goals.
SEO Questions Answered in Real Time at the Search + Social Panel was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Tonight Bruce Clay joins Bing’s Duane Forrester, aimClear’s Marty Weintraub and Message Medium’s Maisha Walker for an evening of audience-driven Q & A in Chicago at Search + Social: The Future of Your Business Online (an interactive event powered by Bing and Inc.). Attendees will ask these Internet marketing leaders anything and everything pertaining to search engine optimization, content strategy and social media marketing.
Last month the Search + Social panel kicked off at Inc. Magazine’s three-day Grow Your Own Business Conference in Nashville. The Search + Social panel was such a hit that when the session broke for lunch, a third of the audience stayed in their seats, hands raised and pens poised for more answers — the Q & A continued for an hour and a half past the session’s end!
Today’s Search + Social session is sold-out with all 400 seats reserved, but there are still opportunities to attend more Search + Social events as the panel travels to major cities throughout the summer:
- Atlanta on July 10
- Boston on July 31
- Houston on August 14
All the events are free, but there is a limit to attendees — register to reserve your seat.
Search + Social Hot Topics
In Nashville, the audience was filled with business owners and webmasters. They asked the panel questions including:
- How do you select keywords?
- Do links still matter?
- How do you deal with penalties?
- How do you do SEO on brand new website?
- Does Google+ help SEO?
- What should I be doing in terms of local SEO?
- How do I handle a negative review online?
- How do I get ranked as an e-commerce site when my competition is Amazon?
- Does a blog help my SEO efforts?
The panel is armed with years of hands-on experience and hundreds of presentations, and all the speakers as industry leaders committed to knowledge transfer and education. In Nashville, the panelists fielded the questions deftly, just as they will today in Chicago and in the coming months as the Search + Social roadshow travels to Atlanta, Boston and Houston.
Take advantage of the panelists’ expertise by attending the next Search + Social event near you and get the opportunity to ask Clay, Forrester, Weintraub and Walker the SEO, social media and content marketing questions you’ve had on your mind. With their insights, you can better understand and tackle critical Internet marketing issues. And best of all — it’s free!
Still reeling from last week’s SMX Advanced? With dozens of sessions focusing on advanced SEO, PPC and SMM tactics, it was Christmas come early for Internet marketers attending the sold-out conference. With so much critical information coming out of the conference, we sent liveblogger Jayme Westervelt to cover key SEO, social media and content marketing sessions, including:
- The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors
- 25 Social Media Ideas for the Advanced Search Marketer
- Enhancing Search Results w/Structured Data & Markup
- What Advanced SEOs Should Be Doing About Mobile
- You & A with Matt Cutts
- Technically Speaking: Advanced Technical SEO Issues
- Executing a Flawless Content Marketing Strategy
- Ask the SEOs
You can click above to go directly to each liveblog, or you can check out the Special Report from SMX Advanced that we released yesterday, which shares takeaways and highlights from each of these sessions.
SMX Advanced 2014 Highlights
Some of the top highlights include the Matt Cutts You & A, where Cutts fielded questions on Author Rank, link removal and his favorite webmaster tools. He also confirmed an algorithm update that was neither Panda nor Penguin and announced Google is trying to make improvements to the reconsideration request process.
In Ask the SEOs, Greg Boser, Rae Hoffman, Jeff Preston, Marshall Simmonds and Ellen White talked about the biggest issues in search engine marketing, including the state of PageRank sculpting, the impact of global top-level domains, and Penguin penalties.
25 Social Media Ideas for the Advanced Search Marketer was another key session with Matt Siltala, Lisa Williams, Mark Traphagen and Michael King. Williams talked about using social media to make connections through storytelling while King focused on the importance of research for every Internet marketing campaign — and how to use that research to inform your marketing on all fronts. Siltala took a deep dive into the role of visual content, and Traphagen taught SEOs how to build brand authority using Author Rank.
Our SEO Newsletter subscribers got the Special Report from SMX Advanced sent directly to their inbox. If you’d like SEO conference coverage like this — plus our monthly newsletter, which is chock-full of industry news and tactical Internet marketing articles – subscribe here.
It’s the session we’ve all been waiting for: the You & A with Google’s Head of Webspam Matt Cutts. Next to plush hummingbirds, Cutts laughs with Search Engine Land Editor Danny Sullivan. I’ll keep up with the convo as fast as my fingers can type!
Announcements and Algorithm Updates
Danny starts by asking Matt if there are any announcements, and with that, the session is off and running.
Matt: Yes, there are a lot. One is that the second part of the latest aspect of the Payday Loan update will be coming soon. Probably later this week, maybe as soon as tomorrow.
Danny: How is that different from the update last week?
Matt: It targets different sites. This is looking at spammy queries instead of spammy sites. This update could affect sites that are doing counterfeit, for example.
Danny: What happened to the MetaFilter site? Was it Panda?
Matt: It wasn’t Panda. What happened is that it was affected by an algo update that wasn’t Panda or Penguin. Even though the site is slightly out of date, it’s a good quality site. Google is working to figure out how to improve the algo based on this incident. Google does not think that MetaFilter is spammy or has spammy links. Google had never sent a notification saying that MetaFilter was spammy.
Matt announces that Google is trying to make improvements for the reconsideration request. They are looking into a way to make it clearer where the problems are for site owners. Now, when Google rejects a request for re-inclusion, the Google team member has an opportunity to fill out more details on an individual basis.
Danny: With two different roll-outs in close proximity (Panda and Payday), people may become confused as to what update they were hit by. Danny thinks it would be great if, for example, Google would show in GWT what algorithm the site was hit by.
Matt: Google has over 500 different algorithms so it would be difficult to do for every update. Matt agrees to think about giving that type of info in GWT. They do try to update people on large updates via tweet, but he agrees that it’s a good question and will consider it.
Announcement by Matt: Google Webmaster Tools — it’s a good time to check it out. Google rolled out Fetch & Render which allows you to see what Googlebot sees for your site. They really are trying to make ‘fetch’ happen. Over the next few months there will be improvements in the robots.txt testing, more with site moves by making them better and easier, better reports, etc. Keep your eyes on GWT — lots to come.
Danny: Has there been a Penguin update since last year?
Matt: No, they’ve been focusing on Panda.
Link Removal and Walks of Shame
Danny: Danny talks about getting an email from a person requesting a link removal. Come to find out, it’s a link that was spammed into a comment that they did themselves. The “link walk of shame” is a good punishment for the folks who did spam, but it’s becoming an issue for the sites they spammed. Why can’t they just disavow?
Matt: Fair question. The work for ‘walk of shame’ does create more work for the site owners, but it’s tricky because they want to make sure the folks trying to do the right thing won’t be at a disadvantage to those who play dirty and ask for forgiveness.
Danny suggests a two strikes rule — first time you’re forgiven … the second time not so much and time to do the walk of shame. Matt doesn’t seem keen on it, but the banter draws giggles from the audience. Soon thereafter, Matt announces that Google is working on getting IE8 referrers back. Danny asks if Google can give us the data in GWT such as a year’s worth vs. the 90 days currently available — why hold our data hostage? Matt basically sidesteps this question and gave no immediate answer as to when more data will be available.
Danny: Is link building dead?
Matt: No, it’s not dead. There is a perception that links are hard to come by and many are nofollowed. That’s not true. A small percentage of links are actually no followed. There is still mileage to be had in links. If you do enough interesting and compelling stuff, the links will come to you.
It’s easier to be real than to fake being real.
Danny: Is it possible to assess a page without using links?
Matt: It would be tricky but it is possible.
Author Rank, Google+ and Matt’s Favorite Tool
Danny: Is Google using Author Rank for anything aside from in-depth articles?
Matt: Nice try. (Matt then goes on to say that the long-term trend of Author Rank is that the data will be used more.)
Danny: Are you looking at CTR, bounce rate and other engagement metrics in regards to ranking?
Matt: In general, they are open to looking at signals but he will not spill the beans as to whether or not they look at the “engagement” of the site for rankings.
Danny: When do sites get a boost for using secure ssl?
Matt: Sites don’t get a boost for using https. Google used to prefer http over https, but Matt believes they’ve backed that out of the algo. Matt does prefer a secure web though.
Danny: What’s the timeline on manual actions and their expiration?
Matt: If Google does a manual action, you get a notification. If it’s a demotion it has an expiration on it. Minor infractions might have a shorter timeline. Major items have a longer timeline. If you wait long enough, they will expire. It expires even if the penalty isn’t fixed.
Danny: Is the Knowledge Graph carousel going insane?
Matt: I’ve never gotten trapped in the carousel but will look into it.
Danny: Is Google+ dead? (Lots of laughs)
Matt: No, I posted something yesterday. (Here, Matt notes, however, that Google is not using G+ data in general rankings.)
Danny: Can you re-avow a disavowed link?
Matt: Yes, upload a new disavow file that does not include the site.
Danny: What is better for mobile?
Matt: He tends to like responsive, but you can do all sorts of things. Google allows you to do any of the main formats and will accept them. Google’s mobile traffic will exceed desktop in the very near future. Asks for a show of hands for those who know if their mobile site is marked up for autocomplete. Minimal show of hands. Make your site faster, easier to use (including autocomplete, Google wallet, etc.) so that people can make transactions quickly.
Danny: Is speed a ranking factor?
Matt: If your site is very, very slow, it will hurt your rankings. Normal sites don’t have much to worry about. It’s in your best interest to make your site fast.
Danny: What’s going on with negative SEO?
Matt: We’re aware of it — because people are worried about it. The upcoming Payday update will help close negative SEO loopholes.
Danny: What are your favorite Google tools?
Matt: Fetch as Google. (Watch a video and learn more about the finer points of Fetch as Google here.)
At this point Matt does a demonstration for wearable search with his phone on voice search for things like where the space needle is, how tall is it, who built it, restaurants near there, Italian restaurants near there and then finally navigating to the first restaurant. This shows that you can do multiple queries related to one topic and have Google understand the searches are all connected. Hummingbird helps connect all these searches into relevant information.
White Hat Link Building and ‘Sweat + Creativity’
Matt: Google can find them and follow them. You can also nofollow those links, too.
Danny: Would you trust white hat link building companies?
Matt: It’s possible to do white hat link building. Usually requires you to be excellent. Sweat + creativity will do better than any tool.
Danny: Are there manual benefits? The opposite of manual penalties.
Matt: No, there are no exception lists for Panda.
Danny: Any last parting words?
Matt: Get ready for mobile. Stressing again the autocomplete in your forms. (Hmm, is that a little clue? That’s not the first time Matt mentioned the autocomplete in this session.)
That’s it for the You & A with Matt!
SMX Liveblog: 25 Social Media Ideas for the Advanced Search Marketer was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Get the skinny on social media tools, tactics and more in this session geared towards savvy search marketers, featuring:
- Michael King, Executive Director of Owned Media, Acronym (@ipullrank)
- Matt Siltala, President, Avalaunch Media (@Matt_Siltala)
- Mark Traphagen, Senior Director of Online Marketing, Stone Temple Consulting (@marktraphagen)
- Lisa Williams, Director, Digital Marketing Strategy, Search Discovery (@seopollyanna)
Lisa Williams on Adding Social Media to Overall Strategy
Williams tells us to start with the actual product and make a connection to the product with great storytelling. Look at search technology as a way to tell a story about your product. Communication strategy should be your first step to making that connection and storytelling. Come up with a communication strategy that’s specific, measurable, actionable, relevant and timebound.
When collaborating between the search and social teams, unify silos with a methodology. Embrace a process that drives business objectives and encourage role clarity and ownership amongst the team. It’s important to have a goal to approach together as a team. Some actionable tasks for your team:
- Create timelines that are specific to the audience. For example, stay high level for execs. Search and social marketers need to have a timeline laid out to work together that is defined for the audience.
- Define your assets, and know what you’re optimizing. You don’t know what users will choose to interact with, so you want to optimize all types of content including landing pages, images, videos, etc.
- Define channel priorities: Prioritize your paid, owned and earned opportunities. Make a grid of the three categories with all your platforms (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest) and list out the opportunities for those platforms. Again, this should be shared with both the search and social teams.
- Create collaborative calendars: get strategic for social and search to thrive together. Make an editorial calendar that lists out dates, topics, content assets, keywords, target audience, calls-to-action, channels and additional notes in a spreadsheet.
Williams said it’s also important to visualize with content pillars. Think about a story or piece of content and look at other channels that you want to use to promote it. Think about how the platforms are connected and the opportunities on each platform. Furthermore:
- Define influencer outreach: build relationships and authority.
- Nurture relationships: you can’t automate relationships (automation isn’t strategy). Work hard to collaborate together once you’ve defined influencers you’d like to collaborate with.
- Engage media and movements: define amplification opportunities. Who do you want to partner with for specific campaigns? Define these opportunities
- Define partnerships: research partners for curation and collaboration. Curation doesn’t mean repurposing! Take a group of content, put it together in a meaningful, but NEW way.
- Alignment on KPIs: what does success look like? Define the KPIs so you can measure your success.
Michael King: Finding Content That Works for Your Marketing
King advises us to integrate SEO and social – 95 percent of marketers that consider themselves superior strategists have integrated search and social according to a 2013 study. Moreover, King notes that every good SEO/social campaign starts with research! Research informs you so you can make great content. Social media acts as your focus group; when building personas, use data from social media.
King stresses the importance of defining business goals, conducting keyword research, listening to social activity and taking social inventory. He recommends some tools:
- Keyword research tools
- Keyword planner
- Uber suggest
- Use Google for suggest terms
- Social Listening Tools
- Organic: Topsy
- Organic: Social Mention
- Organic: Icerocket
- Paid: radian6
- Paid: Sprinkler
King recommends identifying influencers via:
When it comes to content, he recommends using Quora or Reddit to determind what users want.
Bottom line? Do award-winning work. Be king of kings.
Matt Siltala: How to Bring to Life Visual Content to Compel Social Strategies
Siltala is going to talk about bringing two worlds together – offline and online — through social media and visual content.
Types of visual content:
- Pitch decks/slides
- Ebooks/white papers
- Interactive graphics
- Motion graphics
Then take things a step further with the visual content marketing and create stuff that businesses can use both online and offline! Use infographics as brochures for example.
Your job as a company is to help companies to not fall behind the curve. Creative content helps. Find opportunities where sales/knowledge needs to increase and then create content for on and offline. Ask sales team questions, listen to social buzz, define problem and then strategize.
Instagram is HOT. One of the most powerful tools you can use right now.
Great platform to integrate a social strategy. Waffle Crush is an example of a company doing it RIGHT. They only post locations, specials, etc. on their Instagram account.
Use it to show off your products in context. Online & Offline worlds come together here.
Infographics can make great offline handouts so use this to your advantage.
How to cross over from social to the store – Nordstrom’s does a good job of this.
Encourage cross social sharing.
Social media can bring you back to the top.
Mark Traphagen: Author Authority for Advanced Search Marketers
So what makes author authority? An authoritative author is both the originator and promoter. In social, you have got to be the original creator of the content. If you don’t like what’s being said, change the conversation. If you’re a creator, you want to be the one who’s changing the conversation.
Rel=author and beyond
- Rel=author, in Dec. 2013, Google began to reduce the amount of authorship showing in SERPs.
- Site authority and history was the No. 1 factor in author rank.
- If you’re writing more on high authority sites, you’re more likely to get picked up.
- Someone who produces good content with depth is more likely to show up.
- Google has confirmed that author trust is a factor — they look at the overall trust that people seem to have in an author.
What does rel=author do for you?
- Reinforces your brand
- This becomes powerful as more and more searching show your results
- Shows you in personalized search (+1s)
- Google wants to know who you are.
How to Build Author Authority
This is going to become more important in the future. It’s important now for your brand to connect through social to your audience.
- Be the “anyone” that people want to listen to
- Be productive
- Not necessarily publishing every day, but often enough
- Be authoritative
- Know your stuff … and know your stuff better than anyone else
- You’re good, get better
- Be thorough
- Be different/don’t be afraid to stand out
- Say things no one else is saying
- Find your own voice
- Find a way of presenting content that is unique
- Be ubiquitous
- Build social following
- Share your best content, even if it’s from the past
- If you want some respect, go out and get it for yourself
SMX Liveblog: The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
This room is packed with a good share of returnees and newbies. We’re told this session is going to cover everything you need to do to rank well in the SERP … mm hmm.
Speaking in this morning’s “The Periodic Table Of SEO Ranking Factors: 2014 Edition” are:
- Matthew Brown, SVP of Special Projects, Moz (@MatthewJBrown)
- Marianne Sweeny, SR Search Specialist, Portent (@msweeny)
- Marcus Tober, CTO, Searchmetrics Inc. (@marcustober)
This session is fast and furious, and so is this liveblog. Here we go!
The 2014 Ranking Factors According to Marcus Tober
Tober promises to explain the Google algo in detail in the next 90 minutes (his ranking metrics presentation is set to the Iron Man theme). In the recent study they’ve done they compared ranking factors of 2013 to 2014 and what they are seeing more commonly across top ranking sites now vs then.
A few of the 2014 Ranking Factors:
- Google+ and +1s don’t always give you great ranking results, however they help significantly in personalization results
- Site Speed showed a strong increase in importance
- The number of internal links to pages; pages in the site that have targeted and well thought out internal links will sometimes outrank pages in the site with an inflated number of internal links. You should still optimize for the flow of your link juice through the site. Sometimes Less is More.
- Brand factor is also important
What’s even more important?
In the past the feeling was a little “yeah, content is important, I should have some”. Whereas now, it’s more like “Yes, you need to have content and your content needs to be optimized.” Marcus says they have noticed that the number of characters and the overall length of content has increased across top ranking sites compared to a year ago. Not only is it important to have more content, but you want to deliver a better user experience because the user’s expectation is higher than it was a year ago.
When writing your content you want to make sure to use Relevant Keywords and Proof Keywords. Relevant Keywords are the words and phrases that are relevant to your topic and are commonly used by other competitors. Proof Keywords are additional common words that aren’t necessarily ‘relevant’ but they were also found across the top ranking sites. Use synonymous keywords through out the content; don’t just reuse the same keyword phrase over and over again.
The readability of the content (Fleisch reading ease) is a factor so make sure to check this when creating content. Remember that the Panda algorithm focuses on the quality of the content on your site, so you want to have high quality content. Try to become holistic on your topic and become the best on the topic.
There was a high correlations with social +1s and Facebook shares among the top ranking sites that SearchMetrics looked at. The takeaway of this is that good content is shared more often, so create good content that people will want to share.
Backlinks and their quality still matter — get good links from good sites.
- Number of links to to home page
- New/fresh backlinks which are backlinks obtained within the last 30 days
- URL anchors
- Domain brand in anchor
Brands might not always have more “fresh” links but they have the brand awareness, so they typically rank high, and then the sites with a high number of “fresh” links were found to be ranking immediately after the brand.
When it comes to the mobile environment, the following factors were found to be important:
- Site speed
- Text length in characters; you want less content than what you might display on your desktop version of the site
- Number of back links
- Facebook likes
When analyzing desktop vs a mobile environment, only 64% of the sites ranking on the 2 platforms were the same in the SERPs. This makes it easy to say that mobile is ranked somewhat separate than desktop in the results with a fair amount of overlap.
Additional factors that SearchMetrics found to still be important in the ranking algo commonly among top ranking sites were:
- Time on site
- Bounce Rate
The amount of time on site and the click through rate seem to be more important than the Bounce Rate according to their study. This makes since seems how Bounce Rate can vary depending on the site, industry and information the user is seeking.
Marcus says that SEO shouldn’t be defined as Search Engine Optimization anymore, but it should be Search Experience Optimization instead.
With that, Marcus closes and Danny states a basic observation -the search algorithm is supposed to mirror what humans actually like. Humans typically don’t like junk, spam or bad sites so why should those types of sites rank higher than the quality sites that people actually do want to see. Good food for thought.
Marianne Sweeny on the User Experience
Marianne starts with a funny statement about how UX folks are annoying. I think to myself, “Really? More than SEOs to an IT team?” (ha ha ha).
She states that searchers are growing increasingly more lazy since search has become easier. Search has improved by the searchers behavior hasn’t improved at the same rate.
Historically, UX and SEO have developed on separate tracks when in fact they should have been joined all along. Back in 2011 when Panda started, this was the first real clue to the industry that UX was important in the SERPs even though it had been murmured about for ages.
UX factors that are important to the ranking algorithm include:
CTR is impacted by the SERP and how users decide on what result to click on. Users scan results and because of this “lazy” behavior, Google decided to shorten the length of Titles they display and increase the font size in order to make it easier for those scanners.
Engagement: Users are not inclined to scroll on a home page unless induced to do so. They like to see the usable content above the fold. Maximize the space of your webpage above the fold.
Proto-typicality put simply means – Don’t put things in odd places, or call them odd things. Don’t get fancy and put your main global navigation at the bottom of a long page, or hide the search button in an inconspicuous spot on the page if your site has a high interaction with the search. Don’t reinvent the wheel here folks. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.
Visual Complexity is something else to think about. This is the ratio and relation of images to content. If a site has too much visual complexity it is perceived as not useful. Keep the ratio within reason to avoid any issues.
Navigation should be put where it is supposed to be and where users are used to finding it. Don’t have too many different types of navigation and make the overall navigation simple and easy to use so that users can find the pages they are looking for.
A popular design nowadays is having the large Hero graphic across the middle of the page, but according to Marianne, these don’t always work for UX. You’re taking away an opportunity to make the site useful.
Keep your “Click Distance” to task completion to only a few clicks. Don’t make people go to extra pages just to complete something that can be done in 3 pages. Also, think about the overall depth at which you bury your content. This use to be big a few years ago and Marianne still thinks it’s important enough to mention – don’t bury your great content 7 or 8 directories deep in the URL structure. This could lead search engines to believe the content is less important.
Take a look at what content you have and what is presented to users. Do a Content Audit and assign each piece of content to a person where they have to either Keep it, Kill it or Revise it. Remember that dense, subject specific content is preferred over “thin” content – by users and the engines (Panda anyone?). Hummingbird also needs to be considered when creating or revising the content to make sure synonymous phrases, semantic search and the like are supported.
Some Measurable UX to think about for your site:
- Page value
- Unique visitors
- Bounce Rate
Consider setting “scrolling” as an action to factor into the Bounce Rate of a page, because after all, scrolling is a form of engagement.
- Social Actions (shares, likes, pins etc.)
- Number of pages visited
- Avg time spent on a page
- And the exit rate
Matthew Brown on SEO Success Factors
Brown opens by quoting Edward Tufte: “correlation is not causation but it sure is a hint.” He then advises us to look at correlation studies as HINTS, and not as actual ranking factors.
Things you can bank on:
- Links: they’ll still be around for a few years but Google is trying to figure out how an expert user would say this particular page matched their information needs.
- Anchor text: if you have better anchor text, you will rank better. Internal and external
- Keyword strings in Title tags – Google is doing a lot of rewriting of Title tags and descriptions so this doesn’t work as well nowadays
- Structure data – marking up for the wrong thing can negatively impact CTR. Match the markup to what the intent should be in order to benefit fully
- Ranking factors – not as useful because it’s so mixed; knowing what is showing up in the actual SERPs is more important
New things with potential:
- Entity based optimization and semantic search – know what other entities appear in the SERPs along with semantic useage
- Alchemy API – a tool to learn about entities and gives you clues of other things to target in your optimization efforts
- Knowledge graph optimization – the Knowledge graph takes up so much space and includes a ton of useful data so use that to your benefit
- Some additional information can be found here: www.Blindfiveyearold.com/knowledge-graph-optimization
- Mobile – it continues to rise with 25% of total web usage being from a mobile vs. 14% last year Globally
Unknown unknowns: “There are things we know; there are things we don’t know and there are things we don’t know we don’t know.”
Think about this for a second. There are things we know about and can easily guess that they may or may not become more important in the ranking algorithm. Then there are things we don’t know that may one day become important. The important thing is to just pay attention and be smart about the competition. Know what is working for a set of competitors and then move towards that target.
Hummingbird requires us to retest all previous SEO assumptions. You now need to optimize content around entities and relationships. Furthermore, every site has its own set of success factors. Know your competitors and what those factors are.
Final takeaway: SEO is going to be harder, and SEOs will be in demand for a long time.
SMX Liveblog: Enhancing Search Results with Structured Data & Markup was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.
Get practical advice on using structured data and real world examples of schema markup in this informative session featuring:
- Jay Myers, Emerging Digital Platforms Product Manager, BestBuy.com (@jaymyers)
- Jeff Preston, Senior Manager of SEO, Disney Interactive (@jeffreypreston)
- Marshall Simmonds, CEO, Define Media Group, Inc. (@mdsimmonds)
Coming back from lunch and there are plenty of folks who seem to be eager to learn about Structured Data. This session promises to teach us how companies are implementing markup and benefiting from it. This is one of my favorite things to recommend to clients so let’s get started …
Marshall Simmonds: Authorship and Rich Snippets
The evolution of indexation first began with crawling, when Google would come and grab your content. Then, it evolved to HTML sitemaps and eventually XML sitemaps to show them what kind of data you had on your website (image, video, news, pages). Now, indexation has evolved to include structured data.
Why do we do this?
Schema says you can expect that more data will be used in more ways. There are digital assets you, as a site owner or caretaker, can benefit from as they are served up from the SERPs. Did you know that roughly 30% of SERPs have structured data results being served? Interestingly enough, the structured data results differ across browsers — Chrome will show different results than Firefox for the exact same search only moments apart on the same computer. Factor in that Google is regularly updating their algorithms you have to realize that things are constantly changing and different results are constantly being given based on several different factors. Anytime you can capture some of that traffic on a consistent basis is a good thing, right? Structured data can help you do this.
Authorship is one of the more well known types of structured data being used today. With Authorship, an author’s thumbnail and name appears in the SERPs. Marshall says this was basically Google’s way of rewarding people for setting up their G+ accounts. He goes on to ask for a show of hands how many people in the audience have G+ accounts and there is a large show of hands. Marshall then goes on to ask for a show of hands of how many actually use G+ and barely any hands remain in the air. Oops! Google keeps telling us it’s important and yet, in a room full of “advanced search marketers” only a small percentage of people are actually using it.
Late in 2013 Google started showing Authorship results less in the SERPs, however Marshall has noticed an uptick in the appearance in the results more recently. There are a few factors at the site level that help a site to appear in the SERPs for an authorship listing. These things include:
- The authority of the site
- Having high quality content on the site
- The domain longevity
- additional factors vary based on queries
There are also factors at the author level to consider when trying to appear for Authorship listings. These include:
- Reputation (who you are, where you publish etc.)
- Quality of content
- Authority of site you’re contributing to
- Additional factors vary based on queries
Remember, there will be times when you roll out enhancements, and you WON’T see an immediate reaction. Some roll outs will need to be looked at year over year in order to get great data on the reaction. For Reviews, it seems that these are picked up rather quickly, and you’ll see immediate reactions depending on the industry. For recipes, structured data can help results for certain searches depending on how specific the search is. Somewhat generic searches for recipes will show structured data results, but very very specific searches will not show rich snippet results. Article markups can encourage in-depth categorization with other factors involved. Video is a great area to be in and snippets greatly help.
Structured data is only one check point in your overall strategy – SEO is still important.
- Authorship has a slow to medium indexation with a sporadic appearance in the SERPs with minimal traffic impact.
- TV Reviews have a fast indexation cycle with a slower appearance (based on seasonality) in the SERPs and results in a medium level traffic impact.
- Product reviews have a fast indexation cycle with a fast appearance in the SERPs and a good traffic impact
- Recipes have a fast indexation cycle with a fast appearance in the SERPs with a minimal impact on traffic
- Articles are a little different with a hard to track indexation cycle and they don’t always require schema
- Video currently have a fast indexation cycle and are having results appear in the SERPs very fast along with a significant impact on traffic.
Tools & Resources
- Structured Data Markup Validationg & Testing Tools
- Semantic Search Marketing Google+ Community
- NerdyData.com – The Search Engine for Source Code
It’s still very early to get in on rich snippets. If you can get in before competitors, you’re usually sitting better than they are by the time they get around to doing it too.
Use Structured data as another check point in the overall strategy. It helps compete when you can’t break through using regular SEO techniques. It helps to future proof your site from future updates that specifically deal with this area and BOTH Google and Bing want this type of data!
Lastly, remember that this is a marathon, and you have to look at the results year over year.
Jay Myers: How Best Buy Implemented and Benefited from Structured Data
Jay is going to talk about Best Buy’s Journey with structured data – Then & Now. Best Buy actually started implementing structured data as early as 2008, way ahead of the curve and even before it was really recommended to the search community. One way that they implemented structured data in the beginning was to add the markup to each individual store page. The store pages had valuable information, so using RDFa, they added the coding and this resulted in a double digit increase in traffic year over year. And remember, this was years before it was even recommended.
After seeing those types of results with the store pages, Best Buy went on to using markup on an experimental site. After marking up the site and allowing it to be crawled and indexed, they were surprised to see it outranking the main Best Buy site in Google (in 2009).
Shortly after, Best Buy then added structured data to their “shop URLs” that would serve as rich data experiences for both human and machines. Soon they found that these pages were showing in SERPs when they hadn’t before.
These initial efforts were all implemented prior to the real Schema.org push, pre-2010. When Best Buy began implementing, they focused on:
- Publishing data that has valuable meaning beyond keywords
- “clean” and “cool” URLs
- Syntax: RDFa – resource description framework in attributes
- Ontologies ( a loose set of rules to help machines understand data)
- GoodRelations – the web vocabulary for ecommerce
- FOAF – friend of a friend
- GEO – basic methods for representing spatially-located things
Now, Best Buy properties all use microdata and Schema.org in order to better publish their data. They switched from the RDFa to Schema and saw a nice uptick in their traffic. They have found that there are additional data elements that are showing in SERPs such as addresses/phone numbers on store pages is bringing in a better CTR. They are also seeing reviews for the store pages along with the store info in the SERPs and this further drives the customer engagement. The product pages have prices, reviews, availability all showing in the SERPs. This helps enhance the user experience. Best Buy is engaging with the user right from the SERP rather than the user having to come to the site and hunt for the data.
In the future Best Buy is looking to use Gmail Actions in the Inbox, which uses Schema.org to trigger the actions. This enables actions within email simply by using some basic level coding in the emails. At Best Buy, there is also a pilot being pushed to improve the visibility of product information on the web. Best Buy will also focus on enhancing their result in the Knowledge Graph by marking up data feeds things like upcoming events, recent publications, etc.
Jeff Preston: Real World Examples of Structured Data & SEO
Jeff works for Disney and has been implementing rich snippets for awhile with varied but good results. Reviewing what others have said, rich snippets:
- Helps search engines better understand content & markup
- Provides opportunity to improve search engine listings, tweets, Facebook and other social posts
- Will NOT fix other SEO problems; fix other SEO problems first before trying Schema
Open Graph markup helps with Facebook (also G+ and Twitter) listings when people share the content. The code appears in the <head> of the page code. The code allows you to define certain data from the page that will also standardize the way information appears in a Facebook share.
For Schema.org, it’s a microformat vocabulary to describe your data. The search engines support and encourage this type of markup. Disney uses it to markup things like movie pages to call out info like the title, actors and more. Jeff gives a good bit of advice that people should always remember – validate your coding to make sure that the proper things are tagged.
You can use Schema on the navigation. In a test Disney did, it resulted in the site links appearing in the SERP result in Google. Disney also used Schema on an Event Microsite to see if it would help. They added the code to the site with event markup giving details like the name, start data, name of location and address. When they pushed it live they noticed in about 2 days a rich snippet appearing in SERP showing the date, event name and location of the particular event.
Additional applications that Disney has used schema on:
- Executive and staff bios
- Official logos
- Local search: name, address, phone number
They are seeing good results whenever they implement schema, especially on content assets that previously had difficulty getting indexed.
Another thing Disney has experimented with is Twitter Cards. Twitter cards:
- Gives you control of how your content is displayed in tweets
- Links together official website to Twitter account
- Need to apply to Twitter for your cards to be approved
- Fairly easy to implement
Twitter also has a good code validator to check the code.
Some of the things that Disney has done and have seen results in is the Knowledge Graph. Jeff has noticed that Google is pulling some data from Freebase.com, the Schema.org markup, Wikipedia.org as well as other databases that Google might be able to pull entity data like IMDB or Rotten Tomatoes. Do what you can to optimize and influence this information when it relates to your site in order to have a great Knowledge Graph appearing for searches.
Structured Data Resources
Open Graph: developers.facebook.com/docs/opengraph
Twitter Cards: dev.twitter.com/cards
Structured data is still very new even though it’s been around a couple of years and having it implemented on your site definitely helps improve your SERP results, CTR and user experience.