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Microsoft Advertising talks intelligence, UI updates, audience solutions in SMX keynote

Posted by on Nov 14, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Microsoft Advertising talks intelligence, UI updates, audience solutions in SMX keynote

NEW YORK – As brands look to compete in today’s market, identifying ways to connect with audiences is critical – especially since growth relies so heavily on the marketer’s ability to find better ways to meet the needs of customers, said Christi Olson, head of evangelism at Microsoft Advertising and Bing, during a keynote session at SMX West on Wednesday.

“Consumers want brands to help them, anticipating their needs and making their buying experience frictionless,” said Olson. “Our [Microsoft’s] goal is to help retailers become more competitive and deliver more engaging customer experiences that unlock new revenue and fuel future growth,” she added.

Customer journeys are also getting more complex and less linear, which means it’s more imperative than ever for advertisers to understand the advanced technologies and innovations that drive meaningful brand engagement.

Delivering value with AI

According to Olson, Microsoft is leaning heavily on artificial intelligence and machine learning to create better experiences for customers. One example is the Seeing AI app, which has helped over a million people with vision impairments read a menu in a restaurant or count out money when making a purchase. Another example includes the integration of AI into Microsoft Dynamics 365 products to help our customers manage information and tackle common business challenges. Moreover, AI can now help service teams quickly identify and resolve equipment issues remotely, or empower HR teams to land top candidates. 

(See Also: Get the just-released Periodic Tables of PPC)

“Creating better experiences for your customers, people you engage with is not about handing off your advertising to machines. At a time of advancing automation, creativity remains the essential differentiator of greater value than at any other point in human history,” Olson said.

To help organizations adopt AI-driven capabilities quickly and easily, Microsoft aims to integrate intelligence with the products and services that consumers already use daily. Olson said that Microsoft will be launching a new class of purpose-built Dynamics 365 AI solutions aimed at delivering out-of-the-box insights from unified data. That data can then be infused with advanced intelligence to support integrated team actions across sales, customer service, and marketing.

Personalization at scale

In our connected world, a user’s device is the key stepping stone to understanding the consumer, Olson said. Devices provide context, which helps marketers better understand what matters to a consumer in a particular location and at a particular time. The right message at the right moment is the next level in customer service and can turn intent into action.

Context also allows retailers to better than ever anticipate what a customer might need based on when, where and how they arrive at their site and help them decide how to respond to them. Consumers are always on the hunt for product information, deals, local availability and local discounts online. Retailers who don’t make efforts to supply the right, personalized information at the right time will lose out.

“As we think about this enormous opportunity, we at Microsoft see four key areas of opportunity for retail,” Olson explained. These include:

Know your customer. Deliver unforgettable customer experiences that make your brand stand out from the crowd.

Empower your employees. Provide your team with the tools that enable extraordinary customer service.

Deliver intelligent supply chain. Improve agility to reduce costs and drive customer satisfaction.

Reimagine your business. Stand out in today’s competitive retail environment by reinventing your business model, starting with the customers and working backward.

Uniting the Internet and the Intranet

One of the biggest challenges facing organization is the difficulty of finding and accessing company information through company intranets. Earlier this month, Microsoft introduced the new Microsoft Edge and Microsoft Bing for business.

Olson said Microsoft’s ambition is for Bing and Edge to deliver the best search and browser experiences for businesses and consumers alike. With enhanced capabilities like deep intranet integration, improved people search, and features that support business resources, Microsoft aims to make employee productivity more efficient and impactful.

Olson said Microsoft will be introducing even more features for the consumer audience in spring 2020.

Microsoft’s redesigned UI

In October, Microsoft Advertising unveiled the platform’s interface refresh, designed to better align with the update Google Ads rolled out in full a year ago.

The redesigned UI, explained Olson, enables advertisers to manage campaigns more easily with the following improvements:

Improved usability and navigation. The new online navigation includes more intuitive features for greater integration with Google Ads, saving advertisers more time when it comes to campaign management. Advertisers can use the new global menu to switch accounts, quickly access tools and settings like ad preview, shared library, conversion tracking, Google Import, and more.

Better organization of features. The new vertical page menu includes Ads & Extensions, Audiences, Experiments, and other features to deliver more streamlined access for advertisers. As advertisers navigate campaigns, page menus will adapt to only display the pages and data that are applicable to each campaign.

Modern look and feel. The new online experience is now more up to date and consistent with other Microsoft products.

Intelligent audience solutions

Currently, Microsoft Advertising offers intelligent audience solutions designed to help advertisers reach a target audience with a personalized ad experience at the right time.

These solutions include AI-driven targeting capabilities such as location, device, in-market audiences, Google Import, campaign-level associations, and more. Microsoft is currently piloting LinkedIn Profile Targeting, product audiences, similar audiences, and customer matches.

Eventually, Olson said, Microsoft plans to roll out customer combinations with “or” and “and” logic.

Amping up for new retail solutions

“For retailers to power great experiences on their website, search is critical,” Olson said.

With Intelligent Search, Microsoft aims to bring advertisers closer to understanding shopper intent with scale, intelligence, and AI. To do this, Olson pointed to Bing’s index that retailers can embed on their sites to grow visibility. Bing technology allows marketers to understand consumer behavior and trends while leveraging the power of machine learning and AI to help automatically optimize to boost conversion rates, Olson said.

As part of Microsoft’s vision to further unlock search for retailers, Intelligent Search will deliver personalized product recommendations through deep learning algorithms. Experimentation and custom rankings will help businesses achieve goals and drive up consumer satisfaction. Additionally, advertisers will have an improved ability to analyze transactional, behavioral, and demographic data from the sites.

Microsoft PromoteIQ, a vendor marketing solution that enables retailers to generate high-margin advertising revenue with their own advertising experiences, will become fully integrated with the Microsoft advertising platform. Currently in private preview, the PromoteIQ Network will allow retailers to scale commerce advertising revenue using an expanded integration with the Microsoft Advertising platform and sales teams, providing access to new channels to help retailers maximize monetization.

The age of digital marketing is
behind us, and our new reality—though it may at times seem daunting—is
marketing in the digital age. One in which marketers simply cannot find success
talking at
customers through single, traditional channels. Instead, brands must engage
with them on new and meaningful levels, wherever they are.

As Olson stated during her session, Microsoft is setting out “to help reimagine how [advertisers] serve customers and grow your business, deliver more engaging customer experiences that unlock new revenue and fuel future growth.”

The post Microsoft Advertising talks intelligence, UI updates, audience solutions in SMX keynote appeared first on Search Engine Land.

14 Ways To Improve Your Search Ranking With Video

Posted by on Nov 14, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on 14 Ways To Improve Your Search Ranking With Video

Are you disappointed with your company’s search ranking? Have you tried a video strategy yet?

Nobody can deny that video is the king of content: a billion hours of video are watched on YouTube every single day. And YouTube is the second-largest search engine. With numbers like that, it stands to reason video content could help you improve your ranking.

But with 400 hours being uploaded to YouTube every minute, it’s easy for any one video to get buried in search. Be aware that not just any video will drive up your ranking. You need to create the perfect video for your audience and optimize it to rank high.

In this article I’ll teach you how I got the number-one spot on YouTube and some tips for your video to shine on search engines, helping to improve your ranking, as well.

How to Improve your Search Ranking with Video
1) Include Your Brand Identity
Your video is one key element of many that will build a sound brand identity. If that personality is unique, your brand will be recognizable for your prospective client. Ask yourself: Who would your brand be if it was a person? What would it sound like? Why is it different from other brands?

Watch this example to understand how to do it with an animated video:

2) Define Your Target Audience
One of the key steps for a successful video is to define your target audience.

Gender, age and location are basic demographics that you need to narrow down in order to develop a successful creative strategy. You could also think about psychographic data such as periods in the life cycle or social class.

Don’t forget to analyze seasonality and purchase behavior: Is there a time customers buy your products more than others?

If you build a well-thought-out profile, your video will deliver what they need.

3) Focus on Giving Solutions to Their Problems
What are your audience’s pain points? How can your brand help them to solve those problems?

An easy way to address your audience’s needs is to create a story in which somebody has an issue (your target audience) and your brand will be the hero who help them to sort it out.

Check out how you can achieve that by combining live action with animation:

4) Keep It Entertaining
You don’t need to use a formal tone to be taken seriously. Even if you have a B2B product you can entertain your audience with a hint of humor. Don’t forget that this can be applied to what you say and what you show.

Here you have an example:

What could be more serious than financial transactions? This video, however, uses animation to be dynamic and entertaining.

5) Bring Out Emotions
Don’t forget that emotions underline most of our purchase decisions. Apart from the product’s features, try to think about what kind of emotions it triggers. This could be a key element in your video.

How will your client feel while enjoying your product? Happy? Relieved? Powerful? Whether your video is 30 seconds or three minutes long, you need to tell a powerful story that includes a start, a development and an end.

That story should be driven by well-developed characters to whom your audience can relate. Emotions—no matter if it’s love, disgust or awe—make your video more shareable, which will have a drastic impact on your rankings.

Watch this short video in which a brand tells a short story about a family and their feelings when they enjoy their product.

6) Use the Power of Educational Videos
First, you need to know that Google’s algorithm prefers video content to answer certain kinds of search queries:

Tutorials (“Photoshop tutorial,” “How to paint a wall”)
Fitness (“Yoga class”)
Reviews (“New Galaxy S9”)
Funny videos (“Cute babies”)
Explainer videos (“How a business works”)
search-rankings-video-example
In general, people are visual learners, and they prefer a short explainer video to a long-form article. So they look for videos on a wide range of topics to help them solve everyday problems, whether that be learning a new skill, deciding which phone to buy or losing a few pounds.

When creating an explainer video, think about what problem you can solve for potential customers. Then think about how they would search for the answer to that problem online. Tailor your video to that search and your video should gain some serious organic traffic.

7) Hook Your Audience
Whatever length you choose, bear in mind that YouTube’s algorithm rewards audience retention. If people watch the whole video (or most of it) the platform assumes it provides useful information and quality entertainment.

Nothing is more important than hooking your audience from the beginning. The topic should be stated as soon and as clearly as possible but, don’t show all your cards too soon.

Ask questions that your viewer wants to know but don’t answer them immediately.

For example, this is how our relative audience retention graph looks for our video “What’s the best explainer video style?”:

search-rankings-video-audience
8) Engage Your Audience
Subscribing and liking are two of the most important metrics that YouTube values. Take advantage of YouTube Cards to encourage your audience to take any of those actions.

Comments also have great value when it comes to driving up your rankings. Have you tried to ask questions directly to your audience? You could even let them get involved with the creation of a new product, for example.

Check out this video to know how an outdoor gear company provides useful information to its target audience by teaching them camping recipes. In the end, they encourage the viewer to subscribe and watch related content with this image:

9) Make Sure Your Video’s Length Is Friendly
To establish the ideal length of a video is tricky because it depends on how complex the topic is. Some experts say “the shorter, the better.”

But in a recent analysis of 1.3 million YouTube videos, Backlinko found that longer videos significantly outperform shorter videos. According to the research, the average length of a first-page YouTube video is 14 minutes, 50 seconds.

search-rankings-video-length1
You should think about your particular needs to establish the perfect length for your video.

10) Optimize Your Video Using Strong Keywords
The first step to optimizing your video is to know what your potential clients are searching for. First, brainstorm words that are related to your business and your video topic. Think about the questions users would ask Google to find the information on your site.

For example, if you have a tutorial video on how to snake a drain (and you sell drain snakes), think about the things people would search for: “how to snake a drain,” “snaking a drain,” unclogging a drain,” etc. Those are your long-tail keywords. Keywords related to your business — drain snakes, plumbing, clogs — would be your short-tail keywords.

You can then research your keywords in a keyword planner tool like Google AdWords and compare how many search queries that set of words has had on average.

You’ll notice a lot of the short-tail keywords have hundreds of thousands of monthly search queries, meaning that a lot of companies will fight to rank for them. Your ultimate goal is to rank higher for those keywords, but that’s hard to do when you’re just starting out.

Instead, you should try for some more specific long-tail keywords that will be less competitive.

Let’s see an example:

Our company, Yum Yum Videos is an animated video production company and its keyword was “explainer video” which has huge competition:

search-rankings-video-keyword-high
To rank one of our videos on YouTube, we chose a long-tail keyword, “Explainer video styles,” which has a maximum of 1K average monthly searches:

The strategy is to start with a medium-competition keyword that’s easier to rank for and rank on the high-demand keyword in the long term. Following this strategy — and the other techniques that I explain in this article — it’s high in the Google ranks, being one of the first videos to appear.

search-rankings-video-google
11) Optimize Your Video on YouTube
YouTube looks at many features to understand what your video is about. Those features also grab your audience’s attention.

Title

Include your long-tail keyword toward the beginning of your title and be brief and clear about your content.

Video Description

Write a paragraph telling the viewer what your video is about. Use two or three keywords without repeating them too much. Add a link to your web page and your social media profiles. Remember, that’s why you‘re creating a video! You should also include the keyword-optimized video transcript like we did here:

search-ranking-video-yumyum
Tags

Use your keyword first and some variations of it later. You can also add tags about other topics that your video covers. Don’t be afraid to use the same tags as your competitors. That way, your video will be added to their suggested video sidebar.

You can see YouTube tags with apps like VidIQ. These are the ones we’ve chosen for our explainer video:

search-rankings-video-tags
Customized Thumbnails

When viewers see a list of YouTube results, they’ll click on the most engaging one. The percentage of people who click on your video is your click-through rate, or CTR, and YouTube’s algorithm pays close attention to that.

When a video is uploaded, you can choose a thumbnail from the three options that YouTube randomly generates, but those are probably not the best ones.

To boost your CTR, create attractive thumbnails that clearly state the topic of the video. For example, between these four options we chose the upper-left image for our video:

search-rankings-video-thumbnails
Captions and Text Overlays

Most users are mobile, and that means they probably won’t turn the sound on when watching a video. aIf they don’t understand the content, they will keep scrolling.

To prevent that, your video should be able to stand on its own without sound. Adding captions and overlaid text will help your audience understand the content even on silent mode.

12) Boost Your Video With YouTube Ads
Investing some money on YouTube Ads will give your video an initial boost and increase the chances your video will be liked and shared.

Once you get some traction, stop investing and see how your view rate grows organically. The more it grows organically, the more your brand gains credibility.

13) Increase Views by Embedding Externally
It’s very hard to make YouTube rank your video on the first pages from the start, that’s why viewers have to find it somewhere else first.

Embed your video anywhere you can: on social media, blogs, newsletters, etc. That will increase the views of your video. Eventually, YouTube will notice and start suggesting it.

On this graph based on our “What’s the best explainer video style?” video, you can see (in red) how in the first three months around 95 percent of our viewers came from external sources (outside YouTube).

Later, that number dropped to 35 percent and the rest (green and blue) comes from YouTube’s suggested videos and YouTube’s searches, getting 300 percent more views per day if we compare it with day one.

search-rankings-video-views
14) Embed Your Video on Your Webpage
When a video is displayed on a site, people tend to stay on the page longer to watch it. The longer people stay, the more trust Google will give your site and the higher it will rank.

That time will also allow your brand’s message to sink in. Your visitor will probably have a higher level of interaction, clicking on different pages, another positive signal for Google’s algorithm.

Conclusion
An engaging video can help you communicate your core message and values in a compelling way that will build up your brand reputation online and boost your rankings effectively.

Take your time to think about what is the absolute best video for your product, who is your target audience and what they need.

To prevent your video from getting buried in the results, don’t forget to use keywords strategically.

Google starts new Search Console training series on YouTube

Posted by on Nov 13, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google starts new Search Console training series on YouTube

Today at SMX East, Daniel Wasiberg a Search Advocate at Google, announced a new YouTube series aimed at training users on how to get the most out of using Google Search Console.

It’s on the YouTube channel. The new series will be on the Google Webmasters YouTube channel available at https://www.youtube.com/googlewebmasters/

What it covers. The series covers everything from the basics, such as getting started, verifications, reports and settings. The series will go through how to monitor your site traffic, fix numerous issues reported by Search Console, as well as help searchers find your web site on Google search.

Coming soon. Right now, Google only posted a teaser video on the channel, but Daniel Waisberg said the series is coming soon.

The trailer. Here is the trailer:

Why we care. Google Search Console offers a critical set of tools that should be mastered by everyone in the SEO space. It should also be a toolset used by developers, webmasters, publishers and site owners. This video series should help everyone learn more about how to use Google Search Console through tips and advice from a Googler, Daniel Waisberg, who not only gets search but deeply understand analytics and the publishing world.

The post Google starts new Search Console training series on YouTube appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How to Fix the WordPress Error “There has been a critical error on your website”

Posted by on Nov 13, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Fix the WordPress Error “There has been a critical error on your website”

With the release of WordPress 5.3, there is a new WordPress Error “There has been a critical error on your website”. There are a lot of errors that you can encounter with WordPress, like internal server errors, database connection errors, and even ones that say “There has been a critical error on your website.” A lot of times, the full error is:

“There has been a critical error on your website. Please check your site admin email inbox for instructions.

Learn more about debugging in WordPress.”

There has been a critical error on your website

Things being what they are, you’re likely thinking about what it means, and how to fix it? All things considered, ideally you’ll have the option to illuminate it, however in case you’re not happy with investigating WordPress issues, or apprehensive you’ll destroy something, WP Fix It can help with this issue. https://wpfixit.com/product/wordpress-support/


What does this error mean?

On the off chance that you’ve at any point known about the Blue Screen of Death with Windows, well WordPress has a proportionate, which is known as the White Screen of Death. That appears to be frightening. The blunder “There has been a critical error on your website” is really a comparable adaptation of the White Screen of Death. After WordPress 5.3, this is generally observed rather than the previous White Screen of Death. Kindly note that despite the fact that it might be terrifying, your site isn’t lost. It very well may be fixed.


How to Fix the WordPress Error “There has been a critical error on your website” issue

A great deal of times, the straightforward issue is to rollback the site. To do that, you have to have a reinforcement of your site. Shockingly, not every person backs up their site, so in case you’re understanding this, and one of those individuals who don’t have a reinforcement accessible, at that point this investigating instructional exercise is for you.

So as to fix the issue, you need to discover where the issue turned out badly. You do this by investigating whether it was a subject or module strife.

Theme Conflict Troubleshoot

To perform this, you just activate a default theme, like Twenty Nineteen. Unfortunately, because your site is showing an error, you will need to perform the troubleshoot with either your web host’s file manager (like cPanel’s Filemanager), or use FTP or sFTP (it’s like secure version of FTP.) It’s important to note that in switching themes, you won’t lose your chosen theme’s settings. To do this, you rename your active theme’s folder by adding DISABLE or OFF to the end of the folder’s name. For example, if you’re using Twenty Eighteen and the folder is ‘twentyeighteen’, you would name it ‘twentyeighteenDISABLE’ or ‘twentyeighteenOLD’ . Go back to the front of your site and refresh.

The objective is to check whether the mistake leaves. In the event that it doesn’t, it is anything but a subject issue. Try to rename the organizer back to its unique name when you’re finished investigating.


Plugin Conflict Troubleshoot

If it’s not the theme, it might be a plugin issue. In a way, troubleshooting is similar. However, it’s much easier to rename the plugin folder to ‘pluginsOFF’. Visit the site, and log-in. This will turn off all of the plugins. Please note that it won’t remove the original settings of those plugins, as they will be there when you reactivate them later on.

Once the plugins are off, go back and rename the folder back to ‘plugins’. Go to your WordPress admin area and reactivate each, one-by-one, until you get the screen that says “There has been a critical error on your website”. The plugin that you just reactivated, is the problem.

(Change plugins folder name via cPanel)

(Change plugins folder name using FTP – Filezilla)

Once more, in case you’re not happy with doing any of these investigating steps, WP Fix It is here to help solve this issue. https://wpfixit.com/product/wordpress-support/

When you’ve discovered the issue, you probably need to rollback the subject or module that caused it. You can do this several different ways.

  1. Download the original plugin files directly from the WordPress plugin directory, and replace the plugin via Filemanager with your web host (or cPanel), or through FTP or sFTP.
  2. Use WP Rollback plugin https://wordpress.org/plugins/wp-rollback/ to roll the plugin back to the previous version.

If you use WP Rollback, it will give you several versions to choose from. It will tell you what version you have. Below, you can follow the images to get an idea of how to use WP Rollback.


Step 1: Choose the plugin to rollback. Click ‘Rollback’ if it is available in the plugins listed in your WordPress admin.

There has been a critical error on your website

Step 2: Choose the version you want to rollback to.

There has been a critical error on your website

Step 3: Read the warnings. It might be better to test, before rollback. Only rollback if you’re sure.

There has been a critical error on your website

You will want to hold off to update when the developer does another release of the plugin or theme.

Hopefully this article will help you through solving this issue with “There has been a critical error on your website”, but if you’re not computer savvy to troubleshoot, then no worries, we’re here to help at WP Fix It. https://wpfixit.com/product/wordpress-support/

When you’ve investigated the issue and everything is up and working on your WordPress site, true to form, you ought to consider utilizing a reinforcement tool like UpdraftPlus, and backup up your site.

The post How to Fix the WordPress Error “There has been a critical error on your website” appeared first on WP Fix It.

SEO Title Tags (The Meat and Potatoes)

Posted by on Nov 10, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on SEO Title Tags (The Meat and Potatoes)

SEO Title Tags (The Meat and Potatoes)

Optimizing your title tags for SEO is simple:

Just throw your keyword in the title and you’re good to go, right?

Yes and no.

You could stop there and probably do pretty well (if you’ve done everything else right).

But the truth is:

There’s so much more you can do to optimize your title tags.

That’s what this guide is all about.

Make sure you read until the end because I’ll be sharing some title tag optimization tactics that will skyrocket your organic search CTR.

Let’s jump in.

What is a Title Tag?

As the name suggests, a HTML title tag is an element of your web page’s HTML code that indicates its title. It is often used to let both search engines and people know what the page’s content is all about.

You can only have one title tag per page. It will appear in your code as:

<head>
<title>Example of a Title Tag</title>
</head>

Most people will encounter your title tag in four places:

1. Web Browser Tabs

The title tag can be seen on your web browser when you open your page in a new tab.

This is especially helpful when a user has many tabs open and would like to go back to your content. Because of this, it’s important that your title tags are unique, easily recognizable. and can be immediately differentiated from other open tabs.

2. Browser Bookmarks

Browser bookmarks on Chrome show the website’s title by default. As you’ll notice below, the titles are usually truncated when it’s on the “Bookmarks Bar”.

However, you can see most of a page’s title if you’re using folders. This is a good reason why you should use short, but descriptive titles. More on this soon.

3. Shared Media on Social Media Platforms

You know those little previews on Facebook and Twitter when someone shares content on those platforms? Your title tag will show up there as well, letting people know what the page is about and what they can expect to find when they click on that link.

Some social networks will allow you to customize your title tag just for their platform. An enticing title tag helps draw in more visitors.

If you’re on WordPress, you can customize your OG data using Yoast and All-in-One SEO pack. You can also download download this OG plugin. It doesn’t require any set up and it will ensure that your “Featured Image” shows up when people share your content on social.

If you’re having issues with your Featured Image not showing, use the following:

Facebook’s Debugger tool (you can force Facebook to recrawl your page).
LinkedIn’s Post Inspector
Twitter’s Card Validator

4. In the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages)

One of the most important places where your title will show is in Search Engine Results Pages (that includes Google, Bing, Yahoo, DuckDuckGo, etc).

The title tag shows up as a big, blue clickable link above a short meta description or summary.

This means that if someone found your web page by searching a term that is related to your business, this is your first chance to make a lasting impression and convince them to click on your website.

It’s very easy to add a title tag to your website, but writing an effective one takes time, research, and a little skill (that’s easily developed).

But first:

Why are Title Tags Important for SEO?

Some blogs will tell you that title tags are obsolete in 2018. This is misleading. While title tags may not play the same role in SEO as they did a decade ago, there are still many reasons not to neglect this low-effort, high-impact SEO action.

Here are the benefits of optimizing your title tags (the right way):

1. Keyword Rankings

Do you need to place your target keyword in the title tag to rank well in Google?

The short answer is “Yes”.

The longer answer is that it may not be as important as it once was.

Brian’s research found that having the keyword in the title tag does impact rankings, but it’s a small factor in comparison to other factors:

Image Source: Backlinko.com

Ahrefs also found that “there’s a slight correlation between the usage of keywords in the title tag and rankings.”

Image Source: Ahrefs.com

And finally, one last case study from Matthew Barby also indicated that “The presence of keywords in the page title” does correlate to higher rankings.

Image Source: MatthewBarby.com

Truth be told:

I’ve never attempted to rank pages without using the target keyword phrase in the title tag.

That’s because it wouldn’t make sense me to stop doing what’s working.

My recommendation will continue to be that you should place your target keyword in the title tag. Just keep in mind that it’s a small factor in the larger ranking equation.

2. SERP Click Through Rate (CTR)

Although there’s some debate about CTR being a ranking factor, there’s no denying that increasing your CTR will increase your organic search traffic.

And just to be clear:

The goal of SEO is to get more organic search traffic. When you change your mindset from “rankings” to “traffic” it changes the way you operate.

Optimizing your title tag for maximum CTR is an intelligent action to take.

I’ll explain some tactics you can use to achieve that goal in a second.

Side note: I lean towards CTR being a direct or least an indirect ranking factor. The way I look at is there’s no benefit of NOT optimizing for CTR. Even if it isn’t a ranking factor.

Ross Hudgens from Siege Media has an excellent video on this topic, worth a watch:

.embed-container { position: relative; padding-bottom: 56.25%; height: 0; overflow: hidden; max-width: 100%; } .embed-container iframe, .embed-container object, .embed-container embed { position: absolute; top: 0; left: 0; width: 100%; height: 100%; }

TL;DW: CTR may not be direct ranking factor, but it likely impacts rankings indirectly.

3. Social Sharing

Your page’s title is a focal point when it’s shared on social media. Does that mean you need to use clickbait titles like this?:

No, but you should think about why clickbait works.

The truth is clickbait is only annoying when the actual content doesn’t add real value.

4. Headlines Matter

What you place in your title tag is nothing more than a headline. You’ve probably heard the idea that only 8 out 10 Internet users will read past the headline.

Or that:

“Five times as many people read the headline as read the body copy. When you have written your headline, you have spent eighty cents out of your dollar.” – Confessions of an Advertising Man (1963) by David Oglivy

The truth is:

If you’re reading this, then you’re in the minority.

In fact:

Most people only make it through around 17-20% of my content before returning back to watching cat videos.

But regardless, the copy you use within your title tag is the first touch point for readers.

You have to do it well or your engagement will be low.

Those are four important reasons why you need to optimize your title tag, but now I need to cover a few important questions:

Does Google Rewrite Titles?

If Google doesn’t think that your title is relevant, readable, or provides value to your site’s visitors, it can and will completely rewrite it – and often in ways that you won’t like.

In fact, here’s what Gary Illyes said:

“We will never quit rewriting titles. We’ve seen so many sites whose title really suck. A lot of sites have no title; a lot of sites have a title saying “Top Page”. In fact, Google almost always rewrites titles. We couldn’t provide useful results to our users if we quit rewriting titles. Experiments showed us users preferred written titles. So, we’ll continue to write titles.” – Gary Illyes (Source)

It’s pretty clear based on Gary’s words that Google’s algorithms will rewrite your titles (and isn’t planning on stopping anytime soon).

But what can you do to prevent it?

The #1 thing you can do is make sure that your title matches your page’s content/intent. If your title is “Buy Shoes”, but your page is all about “buying blue Nikes”, then Google will likely rewrite your title.

Your title should be a 100% match of the page content.

One other factor you need to consider is title tag length.

How Long Should Your Title be?

There are technically no character limits to your title tag, but search engines can only display so much of your title before cutting it off.

If your title is too long, Google will cut it off with an ellipsis (…), which could potentially prevent site visitors from seeing important information about the page.

According to Moz’s research, Google usually displays the first 50-60 characters (including spaces) of a title tag, but the more accurate limit would be 600px. This is because some characters (like M, W, etc.) take up more space than others.

Staying under 60 characters is a good rule of thumb, but you can also use many title tag preview tools like this one just to be sure.

If you’re on WordPress, Yoast and All-in-One SEO pack will do the job.

If you want to find titles tag that are too long at scale, then I recommend using Screaming Frog.

Open up Screaming Frog, enter your target domain, click on the “Page Titles” tab, and select “Over 65 Characters” from the filter:

You can click on each individual URL and preview what the title tag looks in the SERPs. Just click “SERP Snippet” at the bottom:

Can Your Title Tag and H1 be the Same?

The short answer is, yes. You should try to keep your H1 tag consistent with your title tag, but that doesn’t mean it has to be an exact match. For example, this page has a different title tag and H1 tag:

One method you can use is to vary your H1 from your title tag to rank for more long-tail keyword variations. I prefer keeping my H1 nearly identical to the title, but it’s elements to test for sure.

You can use Screaming Frog to find all titles that are the same as your H1 tags.

Open up Screaming Frog, enter your target domain, click on the “Page Titles” tab, and select “Same as H1” from the filter:

With some of those important title tag questions out of way, let me show you:

22 Easy Ways to Optimize Your Title Tags for SEO

Since we’ve already established that a good title tag is a low-effort way to optimize both your SERP ranking and your CTR, how exactly do you go about writing one?

Here are 22 ways to optimize your title tags for better rankings, CTR, and social sharing:

1. Focus on the Content First

That’s right. The first action you need to take is to make sure your SEO content is the highest quality possible. It doesn’t matter how well you optimize your title tag if the page itself is low-value.

Getting the click is important, but getting visitors to dwell longer, visit more than one page, or complete a goal is what the objective should be. That’s only possible if you’re crafting effective SEO content.

Don’t take this step lightly!

2. Identify the Page Type

How you craft your titles will depend on the page type. For example, optimizing a title tag for a product page will be much different than a blog post.

There are a few different types of SEO-driven pages that a website will have:

Homepages

If you decide to optimize your homepage for a target keyword, there’s a good chance it will have middle or bottom of the funnel intent. For example, Hubspot targets “inbound marketing software” with their homepage.

This keyword phrase has transactional intent so their homepage is structured to drive leads for their software (not educate).

Notice the effective use of a curiosity gap at the end of their title tag as well.

Category Pages

E-commerce websites are the most likely candidate to try to rank category pages. However, there are some information-driven websites where it makes sense.

For example, RTINGS have a beautifully-structured category page for the target keyword phrase “tv reviews”.

Although the keyword phrase “tv reviews” may lead to sale in the future, I still consider it to be top of the funnel intent. Or, informational in nature.

Notice that RTINGS front-loads their primary keyword phrase and use not one, but two modifiers (“Best” and “2018).

Product Pages

Many product pages will target a combination of Navigational/Transactional keyword phrases. For example, take a look at the keyword phrase “Nike trout 4 cleats”.

Someone searching this keyword is primed to buy, so the title tag needs to reflect that intent.

Local Pages

Keyword stuffing title tags seems to be a common practice on the local level. After digging around, I was able to find an interesting example for the keyword phrase “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer”.

Although I don’t love the idea of jamming “car accident lawyers” in the title, I do like a few things about this title. First, they’ve front-loaded their primary keyword. Second, they’re using numbers within their title, which makes it much more eye-grabbing.

Blog Posts

Crafting title tags for blog posts is the easiest to understand.

Your goal should be to make your title as accurate and interesting as possible. The following tips can drastically improve your blog post title performance.

Most blog posts are going to target keyword phrase with Informational intent, so you need to satisfy that.

3. Satisfy Searcher Intent

This applies to both your title and the page itself. The best way to satisfy searcher intent is to think about it from a funnel or buyer journey perspective.

There are four primary categories of searcher intent:

Informational – These are top of the funnel search queries such as “what is SEO”.
Comparison – These are middle of the funnel search queries such as “Ahrefs vs Moz”.
Transactional – These are bottom of the funnel search queries such as “Moz free trial”.
Navigational – These types of search queries are branded like “Gotch SEO”. This means the searcher already knows your brand or may already be a customer.

Most keyword phrases will fall under one or more of these categories.

Your title must satisfy the search intent behind keyword phrase you’re targeting. You do not want ambiguity. Make it as clear as possible for the searcher.

4. Front-Load Your Primary Keyword

If you approach crafting your title tags from a searcher intent perspective, it would make sense to have the keyword phrase front-and-center. If someone’s searching for “best baseball cleats”, they’re likely to click on a result that showcases that keyword right away.

Keep in mind that “front-loading” doesn’t mean that your keyword phrase needs to be first in the title tag. It just needs to be towards the beginning.

5. Write for Searchers, Not Search Engines

Yes, place your keyword in your title, but don’t do this:

“SEO Company | SEO Agency | Chicago SEO Company”

You wouldn’t believe how often we find this type of keyword stuffing in our SEO audits (check out our SEO audit service if you need help).

There a few reasons why you shouldn’t stuff keywords in your title tag:

It’s Not Necessary

Google’s algorithms are much more sophisticated than before. More specifically, Google’s Hummingbird algorithm is designed to understand content better.

That means it can identify synonyms and variations of your keywords. You don’t need to jam keyword variations into your title tag. Instead, you can place keyword variations or synonyms naturally throughout your copy and you’ll still perform well for them (given you did everything else right).

You Should Only Target One Primary Keyword Phrase Per Page

Although there are some exceptions to the rule (super authoritative websites), you should aim to target one primary keyword per page.

You’re Losing Precious Real Estate

Most keyword phrases aren’t persuasive in any way. When you stuff your title tag full of keywords, you’re losing the ability to add elements of effective copywriting and persuasion. I’ll be explaining some of these tactics in a second.

6. Use Shorter Titles

Matthew Barby’s research found that shorter titles tend to perform better in Google:

Image Source: MatthewBarby.com

Try to stay below 60 characters (including spaces).

If you’re struggling to keep it below 60 characters than you should try:

Avoid using all-caps in your title tag. Capital letters take up more space than lowercase letters.
Avoid using punctuation when necessary
Remove redundant or repetitive words
Use short phrases instead of long, complicated ones

7. Avoid Duplicating Page Titles

No two pages (that you want indexed in Google) should have the same title. The best way to find duplicate page titles is to use Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

Open up Screaming Frog SEO Spider, enter the target domain, and click on the “Page Titles” tab:

Then click the “Filter” dropdown and select “Duplicate”:

Sort the list by “Title 1”:

You only need to be concerned about duplicate title tags if your page is indexed. The new version of Screaming Frog makes this super easy with their new “Indexability” column.

8. Write Unique Titles for EVERY Page

Every page on your website should have a unique title. In fact, according to Google:

“Titles are critical to giving users a quick insight into the content of a result and why it’s relevant to their query. It’s often the primary piece of information used to decide which result to click on, so it’s important to use high-quality titles on your web pages.” – Google

The best way to find pages with missing titles is to once again, use Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

The steps are identical as above except you’ll select “Missing”:

9. Use Title Modifiers

If you dig through my content on Gotch SEO, you’ll discover that I love using title modifiers. I believe using title modifiers is one of the best ways to drive more long-tail traffic (without much effort).

I actually call this The Phantom Technique because many of these keyword variations are largely untapped.

Here’s a free video from my paid training course, Gotch SEO Academy explaining how to execute this tactic:

Like this training? Join Gotch SEO Academy today and save 20% when you use coupon code “titletag” at checkout.

With that said:

Some simple title modifiers you can use are “top”, “best”, or the year.

Important note: If it’s relevant to use a year in your title tag, make sure that your URL doesn’t include it. For example, I update my anchor text guide every year and change the year in the title tag, but the URL never changes.

That means I can continue to build the authority of that page because my URL isn’t changing every year.

10. Build a Keyword Variation List

I also build a keyword variation list every time I find a new primary keyword phrase to target. For example, my primary keyword phrase for my backlinks guide is “backlinks”.

But obviously my title couldn’t just be “Backlinks | Gotch SEO” because that’s A) boring and B) I would lose out on long-tail traffic.

Instead, I searched for relevant keyword variations I could naturally add to the title.

Ahrefs Keyword Explorer is perfect for this task.

Enter your primary keyword phrase, start the analysis, and then click on “Phrase Match”:

This section is a goldmine for finding keyword variations for your title.

You can also use UberSuggest and Keywords Everywhere to build your keyword variation list (both are free).

Although you won’t use 99.9% of these variations in your title tag, a large percentage of these keywords can dispersed throughout your page.

11. Emphasize Freshness

Do you know anyone that prefers old content? I don’t and that’s why emphasizing “freshness” in your title works really well.

One persuasion principle that I picked up from Frank Kern is that people love “new” things. In fact, something simply being “new” can be a big driving force.

Hence the reason why you’re more likely to buy a newer model car than a car from the 80s.

Another example if when you see a training course use “2.0” or “Revamped” in their headline. They’re emphasizing freshness.

Some ways to incorporate freshness into your title tags are to use the word “new”, “updated for YEAR”, “new data”, etc.

12. Use the H & W Strategy

The H & W strategy simple: Just use one of the following words in your title tag:  “How,” “What,” “Why,” “When,” “Where,” or “Who.”

How to {Create|Learn|Build|Use|Leverage|Increase|Get|Do}…

Example: How to Tie a Windsor Knot

Total Organic Keywords: 5,079
Total Linking Root Domains: 161
Total Social Shares: 819 (Buzzsumo)

What {are|is}?

Example: What Are Second Cousins vs. Cousins Once Removed

Total Organic Keywords: 2,600
Total Linking Root Domains: 59
Total Social Shares: 1.9 Million (Buzzsumo)

Why

Example: Why the Myers-Briggs Test is Meaningless

Total Organic Keywords: 2,500
Total Linking Root Domains: 77
Total Social Shares: 19,000 (Buzzsumo)

When

Example: 21 High-Protein Snacks To Eat When You’re Trying To Be Healthy

Total Organic Keywords: 1,800
Total Linking Root Domains: 32
Total Social Shares: 28,000 (Ahrefs)

Where

Example: The Complete Guide to Where to Put Your Eye Makeup

Total Organic Keywords: 5,200
Total Linking Root Domains: 33
Total Social Shares: 26,000 (Ahrefs)

13. Use Numbers

We’ve all been victim of consuming numbered listicles at one point or another. That’s because they’re super effective.

According to a study by Conductor, they found that 36% of respondents preferred headlines that included numbers:

Image Source: Moz.com

An example of an effective listicle post is “18 Unforgettable Countries Where You Can Roll Big on $50 a Day“. This example ranks for “cheapest countries to visit” (~3,600 searches/mo), has 45 linking root domains, and over 81,000 social shares.

Outside of the traditional listicle, you can also use monetary values such as: “Silicon Valley’s $400 Juicer May Be Feeling the Squeeze

Or, you can use percentages in title tags like this: “Nike’s online sales jumped 31% after company unveiled Kaepernick campaign“.

14. Use This Secret Title Tag Hack (Copywriters Hate It)

Ahh… yes, the classic clickbait headline.

I know I’ve fallen for many, but that’s because they work well! Mainly because they leave open loops in your mind and engage our natural human curiosity.

The trick here is to give readers a sneak peek into what they can find out by clicking on your link without giving too much away.

Employ as much tantalizing language as necessary; remember: you need to evoke surprise, amazement, or speak to a deeply-rooted fear. You can combine this technique with the other techniques above to create a truly click-worthy headline.

Example: 7 Unbelievable Exercises That Will Help Keep Your Nose In Shape

Total Organic Keywords: 3,500
Total Linking Root Domains: 17
Total Social Shares: 12,000 (Ahrefs)

Note: Use clickbait tactics few and far between because they can be annoying or unauthentic. Overuse could hurt your brand’s perceived value.

15. Be the Most Comprehensive

Fear of Missing Out (FOMO) applies in many different scenarios, but especially with knowledge gaps. People want assurance that they aren’t missing out on any important information.

That’s why {Complete|Ultimate|Definitive} guides work well.

Example: The Ultimate Guide To Brunching In NYC

Total Organic Keywords: 3,300
Total Linking Root Domains: 62
Total Social Shares: 48,000 (Ahrefs)

16. Emphasize Speed (or Time Savings)

One of the most powerful benefits to emphasize is saving time. Although this usually applies to products, it can be emphasized in title tags as well.

Use words like “fast”, “quick”, “simple”, etc.

Example: How to Get Rid of Stretch Marks Fast

Total Organic Keywords: 4,200
Total Linking Root Domains: 113
Total Social Shares: 160,000 (Ahrefs)

17. Break the Pattern

Pattern interrupts are common in video content, but there are ways to break the pattern in the SERPs as well. Some the best methods are use [brackets], {curly brackets}, (parentheses), equal signs (=), plus (+) or minus (-) signs, or pretty much any unordinary symbol.

You can also test using Emojis in title tags as well. Google doesn’t always show them though.

18. Use Title Tags to Find Keyword Cannibalization

Keyword cannibalization occurs when two or more pages on your website are optimized for the same keyword phrase. Auditing your title tags using Screaming Frog SEO Spider is actually one of the fastest ways to identify keyword cannibalization.

Open up SFSS, enter your target domain, click on the “Page Titles” tab, and keep the filter set to “All”:

You can then use SFSS’s built-in search function to find pages that are similar. In this example below, I searched “backlinks” and identified two pages using that primary keyword phrase.

In this case, it doesn’t make sense to consolidate these assets because the intent behind “how to build backlinks” vs “buy backlinks” are much different.

Identifying keyword cannibalization issues requires manual analysis, but it’s time well spent.

19. Test Your Titles

How do you know if your title will be effective? Well, the good news is that it doesn’t have to be a shot in the dark. I recommend using AM Institute’s tool to test and refine your titles before going live:

You can also use CoSchedule’s free headline analyzer tool as well.

20. Incorporate All the Methods

The good news is that you don’t need to be exclusive with what techniques you use. Mix and match the title tag optimization methods to get the best results possible.

21. Measure Performance with Google Search Console

Google Search Console shows you CTR data for your organic keywords. Just click on the “Performance” tab and you’ll access to all kinds of useful data:

Although your CTR is determined by more than just your title tag, it’s one of the most important factors. If you are ranking well, but your CTR is subpar, then you should test changing your title.

Here’s a simple title tag testing framework I use:

Create 10-20 title variations
Qualify the idea using AM Institutes tool
Execute the change
Annotate the change in Google Analytics
Wait (at least 3-4 weeks) – You need to give Google time to recrawl the page and see whether there’s a positive or negative impact.

The goal of these tests is to increase CTR.

Keep in mind: Navigational search queries (that aren’t your brand name) like “Blogspot” (I’ve been floating between the #2 – #5 spot) will have low CTR:

Changing your title tag won’t do much in this scenario because it’s based on intent.

On the other hand:

Navigational search queries that ARE for your brand (branded search) should have exceptionally CTR:

22. Be Realistic

All of these methods will help you optimize your title tags for peak SEO performance.

But don’t forget:

Placing your keyword in your title tag is a micro ranking factor.

Think of it as the bare minimum for ranking well.

That’s All for Title Tags!

I hope this guide helped you learn a thing (or two) about title tags.

If you got a lot of value out of this post please share it and drop a comment below because I respond to every single one

 

Let’s kill the hourly rate: We are leaving money on the table

Posted by on Nov 7, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Let’s kill the hourly rate: We are leaving money on the table

One of the hottest topics and hotly debated threads on r/ppc is about rates and what you should charge. What does an agency charge? What should I charge as a freelancer? How do you charge if you do work on Amazon versus Google or Facebook?

Different ways to charge clients

There are a lot of models for how you are going to charge a client. No one model is perfect and you have to do what is right for your business in the end.

Hourly

Bill for each hour of your time and track how many hours you worked that week. This is one of the most common ways we have seen freelancers charge for their time.

Pros

Work more hours and you know you are going to get paid more (all things being equal). Clients love to love the hourly rate because they are familiar with it from designers and other creative industries.

Cons

As you get better at a task and it takes you less time, you end up making less money even if you are getting better at your task. How does that make any sense? This is the biggest drawback to the hourly rate, in my opinion.

Percent of spend

Scale that spend up and bill each of your clients more money at the end of the month. This is the most common way we see agencies charge. It’s what clients expect to hear but increasingly clients do not want to pay this way as it can lead to abuse.

Pros

As clients trust you and they spend more money, you see your agency revenue increase in lockstep with that higher spend. Assuming that increase is leading to a profitable business, this can work out well for both sides.

Cons

Not every client loves this because it can be abused by some agencies to just spend money but not have it be profitable. Also, there are some clients who don’t think an agency should be paid $10,000/month, even if they manage a large ad spend budget that has a good ROAS. 

This can lead to “negotiation” on agency fees or firing the agency and taking it all in-house. The latter being from a lack of value for what agencies can do and thinking they are easily replaceable. You can not in-house an outside point of view for your business.

Monthly retainer

Charge a fixed or flat monthly fee for the work that was agreed upon in the contract and proposal.

Pros

It keeps billing simple and both sides know what to expect each month. It’s easier to sell it to clients versus other methods above. Clients are less likely to feel like they are getting ripped off.

Cons

Scope creep can increase the workload and yet, it can be harder to increase that monthly fee. If you don’t think about where you will be a year from now with that client, you could find yourself with an unprofitable client on your hands.

Performance-based

Not as widely used but an interesting model we have done with clients. You set a target based on top-line revenue you bring into the business. As you hit different tiers, you get paid on that tier level.

Pros

Clients love it because they feel the agency is putting skin in the game. If the agency is good at what they do and the client’s site is top-notch you can make a lot of money each month.

Cons

This depends on trust from both sides and a site that is ready to convert. If that site is not good, you can spend a lot of time going nowhere. Also, some clients may not pay the bonus even after the agency did an amazing job. I worked on an account in the UK where this happened.

Mixed Model

Do a combination of the above. Maybe you do a month strategy fee and then do 5% of ad spend each month. You could do a monthly retainer with a performance bonus basked in. There are a few ways you can mix this model up.

Pros

It gives you a base retainer for each client but gives you the upside if work increases and the client wants a deeper relationship. You can make more money to cover your costs.

Cons

A more complex pricing model that some clients might find more complicated. It can be harder to explain to some clients or turn them off because you still have a percentage of spend in there.

Kill that hourly rate

Once you start charging hourly, you often get into discussions about how long something took. 

This could be because the client was thinking it would take less time or they feel it should take less time because they used to do it themselves.

If you spend all of your time talking about hours and how long a task took on their invoice, the conversation shifts away from outcomes and towards labor.

This shift is about pressuring you to be faster at a task, where there might not always be a faster way to do it. Sometimes faster is not better if you don’t reach the same outcome.

Less time spent on a task means the client spends less money on marketing. So many view marketing as a cost center, when it’s an investment center. Based on my experience, the majority of clients who like hours are just trying to find the cheapest person to do the task.

Hiring agency A at $50/hour is going to be the same as hiring agency B at $100 or $150/hour. We all know this is not the case.

If agency B comes down in price, then this tells the client that this set of work is worth that much. Even if it’s going to cost you a lot more to deliver on the work. We should stop selling hours and starting selling outcomes.

No one right way future

As much as I believe there is no right answer to what we should charge as an industry, I also believe that we should stop underselling ourselves and leaving money on the table. The biggest way we leave money on the table is by competing on price.

Tell me if you heard this one before: you are talking to an awesome client and the brand is one you want to work with. They love you and you love them…you got that first date vibe going on. They ask about your pricing for the project and you tell them your fee structure.

There is this pause and you just wait for them to respond. What has only been 30 seconds feels like minutes. The client then tells you some other agency can do the work for X or your hourly rate of $150/hour is too high because they talked to someone who can do it for $100 cheaper.

Not valuing the work can come from not understanding the task and what it takes to deliver. What is worse is that the client does not value the task and just wants someone, anyone…the cheapest agency to do the work. Large brands have been known to be just as bad at this as SMBs.

What do you do? Some agencies will come down in price and not change the scope of work. Other agencies will come down in price but will ask for a change in scope of work. Other agencies will just say they don’t compete on price and this is what it costs to do the work right the first time.

Working with a client needs to be a partnership. Both sides need to understand that each other’s success creates a rising tide which lifts all boats. Creating a win-win partnership is the only way that both sides will succeed and will be in business a year from now. Remember, an agency is a business and needs to make a profit. Killing the hourly rate can help us get there as an industry.

Duane Brown will be participating in a roundtable discussion about profitable pricing strategies at SMX East on Nov. 12.

The post Let’s kill the hourly rate: We are leaving money on the table appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Ultimate guide to small business SEO

Posted by on Nov 7, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Ultimate guide to small business SEO

SEO isn’t just for big business. As a small company or a local business, there is actually a lot you can do yourself to get good results from search. This ultimate guide for local and small business SEO will help you get the most out of search by finding your niche, optimizing your pages and using social media.

Way back in 2014 we promised you in our post on local SEO that we’d write more about local and small businesses. As local SEO is basically about optimizing for local search engine results, it’s fair to say that local SEO and small business SEO are closely-related, which is why we’ll cover both in this article.

We’ll discuss a variety of related topics in this article:

 

As long as Google’s local search result pages continue to grow and improve, we’ll never be done with this subject. But in the meantime, here’s our ultimate guide to local and small business SEO. Let’s start at the beginning of your SEO process.

Finding your niche

Determining your niche is vital for local or small businesses. When you know your niche, you can emphasize what makes your brand or products unique, therefore improving your chances to rank well for them. If you have a clear niche, you can compete locally with large national brands – despite their multi-million dollar advertising budgets.

Find out who your customers are and which words they use to describe your product or service because people will use the same terms to find your website. These terms can really help you optimize your local business SEO when you turn them into long-tail keywords and these keywords should be as specific as possible. Once you’ve done all of this, remember to regularly assess your niche as it evolves with the growth of your company.

Find your shop’s niche

Low budget branding

We have talked about this time and again: branding is very important for SEO. Branding means stuff like your logo and tagline. Do they represent your company without further explanation? What do your logo and tagline reveal about your values and your field of expertise? It’s all about recognition.

Read more: ‘Low budget branding tips for small businesses’ »

Here’s a tip for branding: share your expertise! You can do that in blog posts and on social media. We’ll talk more about this later on.

Start writing great content

Your small business SEO will get a significant boost from the right content. Too many small business owners just put their products and contact details on their website and leave it at that. But there is so much more to tell and share!

Focus on making an awesome first impression on your potential customer. Write about your business, your business goals, how great your products are and things like that. You could also discuss market developments or events that relate to your business. These are just a few tips for your local SEO content strategy.

When writing your content, be realistic about the chances of getting that content to rank in search. If you are in a highly competitive market, content works very well as a marketing tool and as input for social media, but it probably won’t get you that number one spot in Google, and that’s OK. Manage your expectations.

Picking the right keywords to optimize for is very important. Usually, it’s a good idea to pick mid-tail keywords, including the local area you are targeting. It really doesn’t matter if you add this content to your site as a page or blog post. Just make sure that you write about things that people want to talk about or things that make people talk about your business in a positive way.

Keep reading: ‘Improve your small business SEO today’ »

Share your content on social media

While you can actually sell your products on social media platforms, in most cases we recommend using social media for brand awareness or to lead potential customers to your website for a sale. Using social media as a small business is all about promoting your brand, your company, and your products to establish your image and to get the right traffic to your company website. When used in this way, social media can really help small business SEO.

I like to compare social media to a market where all the stall owners know each other and customers browse the products. At some point, someone will tell other visitors where to go to for a product: “The cheese over there is delicious”, “you should really check out the fruit over there”, that kind of thing. So make sure people start talking about you. And start talking about yourself online, to make others start talking to you on social platforms. Lastly, actively engage in social media conversations, to let people know you are listening.

Use Social Media to increase your sales

Local ranking factors that help your small business SEO

There are many things that influence your local rankings, but there is one very obvious one: your address details or NAP, which stands for Name, Address, Phone number. Be sure to add these in the correct formatting (in code), using schema.org details – our Local SEO plugin can help with that. Also, ask your web developer to look into AMP, as Joost says in this Ask Yoast article on AMP for small businesses. As well as this, it may help to add your city, and perhaps your state, in the title of your pages for easier recognition as well.

Also, if you want to start optimizing your website in order to rank better, but you are not sure where to start, you might want to have a look at our new, free SEO course for beginners!

Google My Business

Make sure you use the exact same NAP details on both your website and your Google My Business listing and include your website link to your listing too. This is the only way for Google to understand the relationship between them. Add these details – for example in your footer – and of course, on your contact page. Google My Business really is your friend if you want to rank in your specific geographical area, so get your details right!

Improve local SEO with Google My Business

Add ratings and reviews

Google My Business, like Facebook, allows others to leave a review of your company. If your company has a good rating, people will be more likely to click through to your website from either of these two platforms. Make sure you monitor and maintain these reviews.

If you get a negative review for any reason, react by responding and solving your customer’s problem. Then, once you have, ask them to change their review afterward. In other words, turn that dissatisfied customer into a brand ambassador!

It’s easy to make use of these reviews and ratings. If you need some tips, find out more in this article:

Read on: ‘Get local reviews and ratings’ »

Links from related small businesses

Social ‘proof’, like the ratings and reviews mentioned above, should be backed up with a few links from local directories, such as:

  1. Yelp
  2. SuperPages
  3. YP.com
  4. ReferLocal.com
  5. Bestoftheweb

You should get a listing on these sites, for the obvious reason that this means you also get a link to your website. If you can get some links from other related local websites in that directory, that will also help your site’s findability. Note that links from other local websites should be from sites that are in a related profession. It’s of no use to have your bakery website linked from an accountant’s website.

 

If your small business is closely related to other businesses that are not located in the same area, you should definitely also ask those businesses for a link. Google spiders the web link by link, so if your business is linked to from a website in the same field of business, that link is extra valuable to you.

Near me searches

When talking about local rankings, we also have to mention near me searches. These are searches and search suggestions that include words like “near me”, “closest”, “open” and “nearby”. Optimizing for these searches is similar to optimizing for local, but applies for global brands as well (“buy Lego near me”). So you’ll have to think outside the box – there’s probably more to optimize for. Google really focuses on search terms like these, as you can read here:

Is that a Possum near me?

In conclusion

As we’ve seen, there are many things you can do as a small business to improve your site and rank better. You should start by focusing on your niche and emphasizing your uniqueness. Think about how you present your brand: logos and taglines are important to give your customers an idea of who you are as a business.

You can increase your visibility by creating great content on your site, optimized for the most appropriate keywords. Also, it always helps if you are active on social media. There are several factors related to local SEO that help small businesses. Make sure Google My Business has the right details, keep track of your ratings and reviews, and try to get links from related small businesses. Finally, try to optimize for ‘near me’ searches.

Read more: ‘5 questions: Talking local SEO with David Mihm’ »

The post Ultimate guide to small business SEO appeared first on Yoast.

 

Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links

Posted by on Nov 6, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links

Google’s Matt Cutts declared guest blogging (and other tactics) as a way of generating SEO inbound links as a “spammy practice” that was dead and gone, way back in 2014. It was a statement that generated plenty of response, both defending and arguing against Cutts’ assessment of the practice.

Five years later, guest blogging — or guest posting if you prefer — hasn’t gone the way of the dodo.

Now as far as flooding your site with poor content that relies on tricking people with the anchor text, yes, those days are mostly behind us. Search engine algorithms have really wised up in recent years and the value of the inbound link hasn’t gone away. It’s only changed.

Before starting your link-building journey, it’s important to understand the primary objectives:

Value and quality take top priority

A guest post can be a great way to bring in new traffic and boost your SEO, but there’s a catch. It has to contain relative information that offers something of value to the audience. The choices on the internet are endless and in an age where everyone knows how to explore the internet, a clickbait guest blogging strategy doesn’t hold up for long.

As for what goes into that content, longer content tends to do better than the shorter stuff. This isn’t to say that an effective guest post needs to be 4,000 words. You don’t necessarily want to test the limits of your audience’s attention span, but the 125-word blurb isn’t likely to result in a lot of traffic.

The main focus is to provide value to the readers with the information and give them a reason to finish and share the content. Generally, the most successful guest posts tend to fall in the sweet spot of 300 to 1,600 words.

Grammar and voice of the content are also of importance. If you were writing a guest post for a medical journal, you would probably use a less conversational style than if you’re writing for “Parents Magazine”

Don’t go crazy with the keyword stuffing

Just because you have access to all the words, that doesn’t mean you need to use all the words. Throwing as many keywords into your post and finding a way to cram them into every sentence simply isn’t going to do much good in the long run. Google’s algorithms are going to pick up on this and if you really overdo it, the article could get marked as spam. Then all that hard work was for nothing.

It goes back to what we touched on earlier about adding value to the audience. Yes, keywords matter, but keyword stuffing is a frowned upon blackhat technique that works against your link goals. 

So how do you know when your content is in danger of falling under the keyword stuffing label? Say you’re working on a post and want to rank for “best gardening hose” and wrote something like this:

“If you’re looking for the best gardening hose the Acme Aqua 2000 is the best gardening hose on the market today and will meet all your needs. More people think it’s the best gardening hose than all the others and tell their friends that it’s the best gardening hose on the market today.”

Yikes! Not only will Google spot this as spam but your savvy readers will too. If you’re still unsure about how to recognize if you’re guilty of keyword stuffing, you may want to brush up on why it’s bad for SEO.

Target websites with a higher domain than yours

Just like we mentioned earlier in regards to content, quality counts as well when building in those links. The internet is a battlefield and websites are constantly vying for power in the form of higher search rankings. By guest posting for websites with higher domain authority, you’ll be giving yourself a leg up and getting the most value out of those blogging efforts — from an SEO perspective, of course.

Google cares not just about the number of links, but the quality of those backlinks. As to what makes a high-quality link in 2019, there are a few must-haves.

Consistent traffic flow is important because it shows that it’s active. Authority is also of importance and by that, we mean domain authority. Websites with a low domain authority as ranked by Moz, tend to have a low ranking of 0-20. They may be new or simply not very active. Whereas a website with a domain authority ranking of 60+ is going to be a well-established one that has a steady flow of traffic and is regarded for high-quality content.

All links are not created equal, so think critically about who you want to link to and who you want linking to you. Now that we understand this, it’s time to start on with link-building:

Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links

So how to go about guest blogging with a strategy that actually works for you rather than throwing chance to the wind? Obviously, you need to find some places that would welcome a contribution to your knowledge.

1. Target keyword phrases

A Google search for a keyword phrase as simple as “write for us” or “become a contributor” is one way to go about it, but that approach can be a little tedious. A great way to hone in on potential places for guest posts is to check out relevant industry sites and competitor sites. Looking at where their inbound links are coming from can provide a valuable springboard to start with.

2. Use guest blogging platforms

If writing isn’t your forte or you don’t have the time, you can still use guest blogging as a viable means of high-authority link building. There are multiple outlets such as DFY Links that offer a variety of guest blogging campaigns with high-quality backlinks.

3. Build an authority content piece

Pitching a blogger for a backlink is a lot easier when it’s to a long-form resource page. Rather than just pitching a topical article to a blogger, focus on selling your existing authority content. Many bloggers have a “resource” section and are looking to populate it with the “right” content.

4. Provide a testimonial

Testimonial link building is a win-win scenario. On the one hand, this is a perfect way for them to build customer trust. Testimonials have an associated level of credibility that garners customer trust. Additionally, these mentions also include a rare backlink of high value that will pay dividends in your SEO strategy for years to come. Finally, some clients also find that these specific backlinks provide a steady stream of click-through traffic which augments their current SEO and paid ad efforts.

5. Using SERPs to find sites that accept guest posts

The internet is replete with a multitude of link building opportunities. Forums, blogs and millions of websites all host backlinks but one must be judicious in selecting which avenue to explore. After generating your list of potential opportunities, it’s time to start filtering by: 

  • Domain Authority 
  • Domain Rating 
  • Referring Domains
  • Spam Score (Moz)

By targeting sites of high domain authority and ones with low spam scores, you can develop a sound SEO strategy. Strong SEO strategies tend to remain relatively unaffected by search engine algorithm changes that may arise in the future.

A few search operations that I typically use

  • [target keyword] + “Become a Contributor”
  • [target keyword] + “Become a Guest Blogger”
  • [target keyword] + “Contribute”
  • [target keyword] + “Submit a Guest Post”
  • [target keyword] + inurl:guest-posts
  • [target keyword] + inurl:write-for-us

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, you should consider every link, both inbound and outbound as a potential place to establish a connection when building an effective guest posting SEO strategy.

The SEO shortcuts of just a few years ago are becoming a thing of the past. Trust and authority are more valued by today’s search engine algorithms. Thankfully, guest posting as an effective strategy for link building is still alive and well in 2019 and the years to come. It’s all about how one goes about it that determines its effectiveness. 

The post Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

14 Free SEO eBooks Available for Immediate Download (PDF)

Posted by on Nov 6, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 14 Free SEO eBooks Available for Immediate Download (PDF)

Free SEO EBooks

If you’re looking for the best free SEO eBooks worth downloading, then this list is for you. We did our research and crafted a list of the top SEO eBooks available for download in PDF format.

We visited each and every eBook to ensure that it has up-to-date SEO information and that it’s free to download.

For each eBook, you’ll get a summary of what you’ll learn and detailed instructions on how to download it.

This collection will not only help you learn the basics of SEO but more advanced concepts like link building and conversion optimization.

All eBooks are published by highly reputable and trusted websites.

Let us know in the comments if there is an eBook that should be included in this list.

The pre-requisites are simple: to offer valuable and up-to-date information about search engine optimization or related topics and be available as a free PDF download.

14 Must-Read SEO eBooks for SEO Professionals

This is the ultimate list of the best SEO eBooks available for download on the Internet today and for free!

1. Most Effective Methods to Drive Traffic to Your Website

eBook: Most Effective Methods to Drive Traffic to Your Website
eBook: Most Effective Methods to Drive Traffic to Your Website

Publisher: Reliablesoft.net | Pages: 20

What you’ll learn

This eBook will walk you through the process of driving traffic to your website repeatedly and reliably. It outlines the 8 methods that can really make a difference to your ranking and traffic. The eBook is updated regularly to include the latest methods and techniques.

How to download

To download this free eBook, you first need to register to reliablesoft.net newsletter. Click the button below, enter your name and email and you’ll be redirected to the eBook downloads page. You can view and download the eBook as PDF.

Download eBook

2. How to Start and Grow a Successful WordPress Blog (Easy Guide)

eBook: How to Start and Grow a Successful WordPress Blog
eBook: How to Start and Grow a Successful WordPress Blog

Publisher: Reliablesoft.net | Pages: 39

What you’ll learn

In this eBook, you’ll learn how to set up a WordPress blog from scratch. It’s a super easy guide for beginners to WordPress and blogging.

Besides learning how to register a domain name and hosting, installing and configuring WordPress, you will also learn how to grow the traffic of your blog using SEO.

So, if you are a beginner in blogging, get a cup of coffee and find out how blogging can literally change your life.

How to download

To download this free eBook, you first need to register to reliablesoft.net newsletter. Click the button below, enter your name and email and you’ll be redirected to the eBook downloads page. You can view and download the eBook as PDF.

Download eBook

3. SEO Starter Guide

eBook: Google SEO Starter Guide
eBook: Google SEO Starter Guide

Publisher: Google | Pages: 32

What you’ll learn

If you are looking for an SEO eBook directly from Google, then this is the eBook for you. The Search Engine Optimization Starters Guide was originally created to help teams within Google to optimize their web properties for Search Engines but they eventually decided to release it to the general public.

In this eBook, you’ll learn the SEO fundamentals. It starts with the SEO basics like page title optimization, meta descriptions, site structure, and internal linking. It also talks about crawler optimization, mobile SEO and white hat SEO promotion methods.

It is highly recommended that you download and read this eBook. It is suitable for both SEO beginners and SEO Experts. Any SEO advice given by Google is worth reading and taken into account.

How to download

Click the link below. This will open the eBook in a new browser tab. Right-click anywhere in the document and select SAVE AS for downloading this Google SEO eBook as PDF.

Download eBook

4. 11 Growth Tactics for Your Ecommerce Business

eBook: eCommerce Growth Tactics
eBook: eCommerce Growth Tactics

Publisher: SEMRUSH | Pages: 133

What you’ll learn

In this eBook by SEMRUSH, you’ll learn what it takes to SEO optimize an eCommerce website. It covers technical SEO, AMP for eCommerce, image optimization, schema markup, and conversion optimization.

Data in this eBook is backed by research studies and statistics, which makes it a very good resource if you want to optimize and grow an eCommerce website.

How to download

Click the button below and enter your details in the form provided. You’ll gain instant access to view and download this eBook as PDF.

Download eBook

5. Complete SEO Starter Pack

eBook: Complete SEO Starter Pack
eBook: Complete SEO Starter Pack

Publisher: HubSpot | Pages: 78

What you’ll learn

In this eBook by HubSpot, you’ll learn what is SEO, how to do on-page SEO optimization and how to plan and implement a 30-Day SEO strategy.

When you register to download this SEO Kit, you get 2 PDFS: What is SEO and How to Increase SEO Traffic in 30 Days and an excel template for on-page SEO.

It is a comprehensive guide covering all aspects of SEO and it worth download and reading.

How to download

Click the button below to go to the download page. Enter your email and click the download button. You’ll get instant access to download this eBook on your device as a zip file. Extract the zip file and you’ll see 3 files (2 PDFS and an Excel Template).

Download eBook

6. How Search Engines Work

eBook: How Search Engines Work
eBook: How Search Engines Work

Publisher: Search Engine Journal | Pages: 148

What you’ll learn

Before optimizing your website for search engines, you need to know how do search engines work and this is what this eBook is all about.

It’s a very detailed guide covering all the work that search engines do once they find a new page on the web. Among other things, it includes how crawling and indexing works, how search engines render pages, search engine algorithms, SERPS and rich results.

This eBook is easy to read with nice graphics and illustrations.

How to download

Click the button below, enter your details and you’ll receive the PDF download link by email.

Download eBook

7. The Beginner’s Guide to Search Engine Optimization

eBook: Beginners Guide to SEO
eBook: Beginners Guide to SEO

Publisher: Web Savvy Marketing | Pages: 27

What you’ll learn

If you are looking for a quick introduction to SEO, then this is the eBook to download and read.

It explains what is SEO and how it works in a simple to understand language.

How to download

Click the link below to go to the eBook download page. Once you enter your details, you’ll get instant access to the eBook download link.

Download eBook

8. How to Write Content that Converts

eBook: How to Write Content that Converts
eBook: How to Write Content that Converts

Publisher: Blogging Wizard | Pages: 25

What you’ll learn

SEO is not just about getting organic traffic from search engines but it’s also about converting that traffic into regular readers and customers.

In this eBook, you’ll learn how to write blog posts that target the right audience, with the proper message and suitable voice. This eBook has 3 chapters and it’s very easy to read.

How to download

Click the button below to go to the VIP Blogging Resources. Click the ‘Yes, I want Access” button. Enter your email address and click the download button.

Once you confirm your email, you’ll get a link to access the VIP resources and download this eBook and other resources.

Download eBook

9. Link Building for SEO

eBook: Link Building for SEO
eBook: Link Building for SEO

Publisher: Backlinko | Pages: 90

What you’ll learn

Link building is a critical SEO process. Links in SEO are considered as ‘votes of trust’ and to rank high on Google, you need to have links pointing from other websites to yours.

One of the most known link building experts is Brian Dean and this 90 page eBook, you’ll learn the best methods to use to build links to your site.

How to download

Click on the link below to visit the online version of the article. To download as PDF click the ‘Yes, Give me the PDF’ button, enter your email address and you’ll get instant access to this SEO eBook.

Download eBook

10. 21 Signs of a Perfect Landing Page Design

eBook: Landing Page Design
eBook: Landing Page Design

Publisher: Template Monster | Pages: 29

What you’ll learn

In this free eBook, you’ll learn how to create high converting landing pages. As mentioned above, it’s not enough to be able to get traffic to your site from SEO but you also need to know how to convert that traffic.

Knowing how to design landing pages that convert is a must for modern SEOs.

How to download

Click the button below to go to the download page. Scroll down to the bottom of the page (in the download area) and enter your email address. You’ll then receive an email to confirm your address and once confirmed, you’ll get another email with the link to download the eBook.

Download eBook

11. 8 Key Steps to Blogging Mastery

eBook: Blogging Mastery
eBook: Blogging Mastery

Publisher: JeffBullas.com | Pages: 59

What you’ll learn

Jeff Bullas is a well-known marketer and online marketing influencer. In his eBook, you’ll learn how to create a memorable blog brand.

Branding is indirectly related to SEO. It’s much easier for brands to rank high with the proper SEO than unknown blogs or websites.

How to download

Click the button below to go to Jeff Bulla’s website.  Scroll down and look in the right sidebar for the “FREE EBOOK” banner. Enter your name and email and click the DOWNLOAD button. Once you confirm your email, you’ll get a link to download the PDF.

Download eBook

12. Copywriting 101 – How to Craft Compelling Copy

eBook: Copywriting 101
eBook: Copywriting 101

Publisher: Copyblogger | Pages: 32

What you’ll learn

As stated by copyblogger, “Copywriting is the art and science of strategically delivering words that get people to take some form of action.” Copywriting is an essential skill of every good search engine optimization specialist.

With Copywriting, you can optimize an article to achieve high rankings for the keywords that matter for your website or business.

How to download

Click the button below to go to the PDF download page. Enter your email and wait for the confirmation email. Once your email address is confirmed, you can download this SEO eBook.

Download eBook

13. Finding and Targeting Your Ideal Audience

eBook: Finding your ideal audience
eBook: Finding your ideal audience

Publisher: Optinmonster | Pages: 32

What you’ll learn

Optinmonster is one of the best tools you can use for lead generation and conversion optimization. It’s the tool we are using on this website for increasing our subscribers’ list, redirecting visitors to our SEO course sales pages and for many other functions.

Besides being a great tool, optinmonster offers a number of free eBooks to their users for educational purposes. One of them is this eBook that talks about creating buyer personas.

Knowing who your potential customers are, can help you adjust your SEO strategy to target them at the various stages of the sales funnel.

How to download

Download this eBook is simple. Just click the button below to visit the download page and click the “Download Guide” button. You’ll be prompted to save the PDF on your computer.

Download eBook

14. Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines

eBook: Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines
eBook: Google Search Quality Raters Guidelines

Publisher: Google | Pages: 167

What you’ll learn

Do you want to learn how Google evaluates websites? If the answer is Yes, then this is the eBook to download, read and keep to your library for future reference.

Google has a team of thousands of people called “Search Quality Raters”. These people are responsible to provide feedback to Google on how their search algorithms are performing.

Their job is to perform hundreds of search queries, visit the websites that appear in the top positions of the Google results and answer a detailed questionnaire.

The instructions and criteria to use for this task are explained in detail in this free eBook.

If you’re serious about SEO, you need to read this guide from start to finish. It will give you a very good idea of what Google is looking for when ranking websites.

It should be noted that the feedback provided by the search quality raters does not directly influence the ranking algorithms but it’s a way for Google to test if their changes are producing better or worse results for the users.

How to download

Click the button below to open the PDF in a new browser tab. Right-click anywhere in the document and select SAVE AS to save the eBook as PDF.

Download eBook

Are any free SEO eBooks missing from the above list? Let me know in the comments and I will update this post accordingly.

The post 14 Free SEO eBooks Available for Immediate Download (PDF) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

Facebook’s Panda Update

Posted by on Nov 4, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Facebook’s Panda Update

So far this year publishers have lost 52% their Facebook distribution due to:

Instant Articles may have worked for an instant, but many publishers are likely where they were before they made the Faustian bargain, except they now have less control over their content distribution and advertising while having the higher cost structure of supporting another content format.

When Facebook announced their news feed update to fight off clickbait headlines, it sure sounded a lot like the equivalent of Google’s Panda update. Glenn Gabe is one of the sharpest guys in the SEO field who regularly publishes insightful content & doesn’t blindly shill for the various platform monopolies dominating the online publishing industry & he had the same view I did.

Further cementing the “this is Panda” view was an AdAge article quoting some Facebook-reliant publishers. Glad we have already shifted our ways. Nice to see them moving in the same direction we are. etc. … It felt like reading a Richard Rosenblatt quote in 2011 about Demand Media’s strong working relationship with Google or how right after Panda their aggregate traffic level was flat.

January 27, 2011

Peter Kafka: Do you think that Google post was directed at you in any way?

Richard Rosenblatt: It’s not directed at us in any way.

P K: they wrote this post, which talks about content farms, and even though you say they weren’t talking about you, it left a lot of people scratching their heads.

R R: Let’s just say that we know what they’re trying to do. … He’s talking about duplicate, non-original content. Every single piece of ours is original. … our relationship is synergistic, and it’s a great partnership.

May 9, 2011

Kara Swisher: What were you trying to communicate in the call, especially since investors seemed very focused on Panda?

R R: What I also wanted to show was that third-party data sources should not be relied on. We did get affected, for sure. But I was not just being optimistic, we wanted to use that to really understand what we can do better.

K S: Given Google’s shift in its algorithm, are you shifting your distribution, such as toward social and mobile?

R R: If you look at where trends are going, that’s where we are going to be.

K S: How are you changing the continued perception that Demand is a content farm?

R R: I don’t think anyone has defined what a content farm is and I am not sure what it means either. We obviously don’t think we are a content farm and I am not sure we can counter every impact if some people think we are.

A couple years later Richard Rosenblatt left the company.

Since the Google Panda update eHow has removed millions of articles from their site. As a company they remain unprofitable a half-decade later & keep seeing YoY media ad revenue declines in the 30% to 40% range.

Over-reliance on any platform allows that platform to kill you. And, in most cases, you are unlikely to be able to restore your former status until & unless you build influence via other traffic channels:

I think in general, media companies have lost sight of building relationships with their end users that will bring them in directly, as opposed to just posting links on social networks and hoping people will click. I think publishers that do that are shooting themselves in the foot. Media companies in general are way too focused on being where our readers are, as opposed to being so necessary to our readers that they will seek us out. – Jessica Lessin, founder of TheInformation

Recovering former status requires extra investment far above and beyond what led to the penalty. And if the core business model still has the same core problems there is no solution.

“I feel pretty confident about the algorithm on Suite 101.” – Matt Cutts

Some big news publishers are trying to leverage video equivalents of a Narrative Science or Automated Insights (from Wochit and Wibbitz) to embed thousands of autogenerated autoplay videos in their articles daily.

But is that a real long-term solution to turn the corner? Even if they see a short term pop in ad revenues by using some dumbed-down AI-enhanced low cost content, all that really does is teach people that they are a source of noise while increasing the number of web users who install ad blockers.

And the whole time penalized publishers try to recover the old position of glory, the platform monopolies are boosting their AI skills in the background while they eat the playing field.

The companies which run the primary ad networks can easily get around the ad blockers, but third party publishers can’t. As the monopoly platforms broadly defund ad-based publishing, they can put users “in control” while speaking about taking the principle-based approach:

“This isn’t motivated by inventory; it’s not an opportunity for Facebook from that perspective,” Mr. Bosworth said. “We’re doing it more for the principle of the thing. We want to help lead the discussion on this.” … Mr. Bosworth said Facebook hasn’t paid any ad-blocking software company to have its ads pass through their filters and that it doesn’t intend to.

Google recently worked out a deal with Wikimedia to actually cite the source of the content shown in the search results:

it hasn’t always been the easiest to see that the material came from Wikipedia while on mobile devices. At the Wikimedia Foundation, we’ve been working to change that.

While the various platforms ride the edge on what is considered reasonable disclosure, regulatory bodies crack down on individuals participating on those platforms unless they are far more transparent than the platforms are:

Users need to be clear when they’re getting paid to promote something, and hashtags like #ad, #sp, #sponsored –common forms of identification– are not always enough.

The whole “eating the playing field” is a trend which is vastly under-reported, largely because almost everyone engaged in the ecosystem needs to sell they have some growth strategy.

The reality is as the platform gets eaten it only gets harder to build a sustainable business. The mobile search interface is literally nothing but ads in most key categories. More ads. Larger ads. Nothing but ads.

And a bit of scrape after the ads to ensure the second or third screen still shows zero organic results.

And more scraping, across more categories.

What’s more, even large scaled companies in big money fields are struggling to monetize mobile users. On the most recent quarterly conference call TripAdvisor executives stated they monetize mobile users at about 30% the rate they monetize desktop or tablet users.

What happens when the big brand advertisers stop believing in the narrative of the value of precise user tracking?

We may soon find out:

P&G two years ago tried targeting ads for its Febreze air freshener at pet owners and households with large families. The brand found that sales stagnated during the effort, but rose when the campaign on Facebook and elsewhere was expanded last March to include anyone over 18.

P&G’s push to find broader reach with its advertising is also evident in the company’s recent increases in television spending. Toward the end of last year P&G began moving more money back into television, according to people familiar with the matter.

For mobile to work well you need to be a destination & a habit. But there is tiny screen space and navigational searches are also re-routed through Google hosted content (which will, of course, get monetized).

In fact, what would happen to an advertiser if they partnered with other advertisers to prevent brand bidding? Why that advertiser would get sued by the FTC for limiting user choice:

The bidding agreements harm consumers, according to the complaint, by restraining competition for, and distorting the prices of, advertising in relevant online auctions, by reducing the number of relevant, useful, truthful and non-misleading advertisements, by restraining competition among online sellers of contact lenses, and in some cases, by resulting in consumers paying higher retail prices for contact lenses.

If the above restraint of competition & market distortion is worth suing over, how exactly can Google make the mobile interface AMP exclusive without earning a similar lawsuit?

AMP content presented in the both sections will be “de-duplicated” in order to avoid redundancies, Google says. The move is significant in that AMP results will now take up an entire phone screen, based on the example Google shows in its pitch deck.

Are many publishers in a rush to support Google AMP after the bait-n-switch on Facebook Instant Articles?

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