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Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Oct 10, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Whiteboard Friday

We spend a lot of time discussing SEO tactics, but in a constantly changing industry, one thing that deserves more attention are the tactics agencies should employ in order to see success. From confidently raising your prices to knowing when to say no, Moz’s own Russ Jones covers four essential success tactics that’ll ultimately increase your bottom line in today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday.

 

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. I am Russ Jones, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for my first Whiteboard Friday. I am Principal Search Scientist here at Moz. But before coming to Moz, for the 10 years prior to that, I was the Chief Technology Officer of a small SEO agency back in North Carolina. So I have a strong passion for agencies and consultants who are on the ground doing the work, helping websites rank better and helping build businesses.

So what I wanted to do today was spend a little bit of time talking about the lessons that I learned at an agency that admittedly I only learned through trial and error. But before we even go further, I just wanted to thank the folks at Hive Digital who I learned so much from, Jeff and Jake and Malcolm and Ryan, because the team effort over time is what ended up building an agency. Any agency that succeeds knows that that’s part of it. So we’ll start with that thank-you.

But what I really want to get into is that we spend a lot of time talking about SEO tactics, but not really about how to succeed in an industry that changes rapidly, in which there’s almost no certification, and where it can be difficult to explain to customers exactly how they’re going to be successful with what you offer. So what I’m going to do is break down four really important rules that I learned over the course of that 10 years. We’re going to go through each one of them as quickly as possible, but at the same time, hopefully you’ll walk away with some good ideas. Some of these are ones that it might at first feel a little bit awkward, but just follow me.

1. Raise prices

The first rule, number one in Let’s Make Money is raise your prices. Now, I remember quite clearly two years in to my job at Hive Digital — it was called Virante then — and we were talking about raising prices. We were just looking at our customers, saying to ourselves, “There’s no way they can afford it.” But then luckily we had the foresight that there was more to raising prices than just charging your customers more.

How it benefits old customers

The first thing that just hit us automatically was… “Well, with our old customers, we can just discount them. It’s not that bad. We’re in the same place as we always were.” But then it occurred to us, “Wait, wait, wait. If we discount our customers, then we’re actually increasing our perceived value.” Our existing customers now think, “Hey, they’re actually selling something better that’s more expensive, but I’m getting a deal,” and by offering them that deal because of their loyalty, you engender more loyalty. So it can actually be good for old customers.

How it benefits new customers

Now, for new customers, once again, same sort of situation. You’ve increased the perceived value. So your customers who come to you think, “Oh, this company is professional. This company is willing to invest. This company is interested in providing the highest quality of services.” In reality, because you’ve raised prices, you can. You can spend more time and money on each customer and actually do a better job. The third part is, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If they say no, you offer them the discount. You’re back where you started. You’re in the same position that you were before.

How it benefits your workers

Now, here’s where it really matters — your employees, your workers. If you are offering bottom line prices, you can’t offer them raises, you can’t offer them training, you can’t hire them help, or you can’t get better workers. But if you do, if you raise prices, the whole ecosystem that is your agency will do better.

How it improves your resources

Finally, and most importantly, which we’ll talk a little bit more later, is that you can finally tool up. You can get the resources and capital that you need to actually succeed. I drew this kind of out.

 

If we have a graph of quality of services that you offer and the price that you sell at, most agencies think that they’re offering great quality at a little price, but the reality is you’re probably down here. You’re probably under-selling your services and, because of that, you can’t offer the best that you can.

You should be up here. You should be offering higher quality, your experts who spend time all day studying this, and raising prices allows you to do that.

2. Schedule

Now, raising prices is only part one. The second thing is discipline, and I am really horrible about this. The reality is that I’m the kind of guy who looks for the latest and greatest and just jumps into it, but schedule matters. As hard as it is to admit it, I learned this from the CPC folks because they know that they have to stay on top of it every day of the week.

Well, here’s something that we kind of came up with as I was leaving the company, and that was to set all of our customers as much as possible into a schedule.

  • Annually: we would handle keywords and competitors doing complete analysis.
  • Semi-annually: Twice a year, we would do content analysis. What should you be writing about? What’s changed in your industry? What are different keywords that you might be able to target now given additional resources?
  • Quarterly: You need to be looking at links. It’s just a big enough issue that you’ve got to look at it every couple of months, a complete link analysis.
  • Monthly: You should be looking at your crawls. Moz will do that every week for you, but you should give your customers an idea, over the course of a month, what’s changed.
  • Weekly: You should be doing rankings

 

But there are three things that, when you do all of these types of analysis, you need to keep in mind. Each one of them is a…

  • Report
  • Hours for consulting
  • Phone call

This might seem like a little bit of overkill. But of course, if one of these comes back and nothing changed, you don’t need to do the phone call, but each one of these represents additional money in your pocket and importantly better service for your customers.

It might seem hard to believe that when you go to a customer and you tell them, “Look, nothing’s changed,” that you’re actually giving them value, but the truth is that if you go to the dentist and he tells you, you don’t have a cavity, that’s good news. You shouldn’t say to yourself at the end of the day, “Why’d I go to the dentist in the first place?” You should say, “I’m so glad I went to the dentist.” By that same positive outlook, you should be selling to your customers over and over and over again, hoping to give them the clarity they need to succeed.

3. Tool up!

So number three, you’re going to see this a lot in my videos because I just love SEO tools, but you’ve got to tool up. Once you’ve raised prices and you’re making more money with your customers, you actually can. Tools are superpowers. Tools allow you to do things that humans just can’t do. Like I can’t figure out the link graph on my own. I need tools to do it. But tools can do so much more than just auditing existing clients. For example, they can give you…

Better leads:

You can use tools to find opportunities.Take for example the tools within Moz and you want to find other car dealerships in the area that are really good and have an opportunity to rank, but aren’t doing as well as they should be in SERPs. You want to do this because you’ve already serviced successfully a different car dealership. Well, tools like Moz can do that. You don’t just have to use Moz to help your clients. You can use them to help yourself.

Better pre-audits:

Nobody walks into a sales call blind. You know who the website is. So you just start with a great pre-audit.

Faster workflows:

Which means you make more money quicker. If you can do your keyword analysis annually in half the time because you have the right tool for it, then you’re going to make far more money and be able to serve more customers.

Bulk pricing:

This one is just mind-blowingly simple. It’s bulk pricing. Every tool out there, the more you buy from them, the lower the price is. I remember at my old company sitting down at one point and recognizing that every customer that came in the door would need to spend about $1,000 on individual accounts to match what they were getting through us by being able to take advantage of the bulk discounts that we were getting as an agency by buying these seats on behalf of all of our customers.

So tell your clients when you’re talking to them on the phone, in the pitch be like, “Look, we use Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, SEMrush,” list off all of the competitors. “We do Screaming Frog.” Just name them all and say, “If you wanted to go out and just get the data yourself from these tools, it would cost you more than we’re actually charging you.” The tools can sell themselves. You are saving them money.

 

4. Just say NO

Now, the last section, real quickly, are the things you’ve just got to learn to say no to. One of them has a little nuance to it. There’s going to be some bite back in the comments, I’m pretty sure, but I want to be careful with it.

No month-to-month contracts

The first thing to say no to is month-to-month contracts.

 

If a customer comes to you and they say, “Look, we want to do SEO, but we want to be able to cancel every 30 days.” the reality is this. They’re not interested in investing in SEO. They’re interested in dabbling in SEO. They’re interested in experimenting with SEO. Well, that’s not going to succeed. It’s only going to take one competitor or two who actually invest in it to beat them out, and when they beat them out, you’re going to look bad and they’re going to cancel their account with you. So sit down with them and explain to them that it is a long-term strategy and it’s just not worth it to your company to bring on customers who aren’t interested in investing in SEO. Say it politely, but just turn it away.

Don’t turn anything away

 

Now, notice that my next thing is don’t turn anything away. So here’s something careful. Here’s the nuance. It’s really important to learn to fire clients who are bad for your business, where you’re losing money on them or they’re just impolite, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn them away. You just need to turn them in the right direction. That right direction might be tools themselves. You can say, “Look, you don’t really need our consulting hours. You should go use these tools.” Or you can turn them to other fledgling businesses, friends you have in the industry who might be struggling at this time.

I’ll tell you a quick example. We don’t have much time, but many, many years ago, we had a client that came to us. At our old company, we had a couple of rules about who we would work with. We chose not to work in the adult industry. But at the time, I had a friend in the industry. He lived outside of the United States, and he had fallen on hard times. He literally had his business taken away from him via a series of just really unscrupulous events. I picked up the phone and gave him a call. I didn’t turn away the customer. I turned them over to this individual.

That very next year, he had ended up landing a new job at the top of one of the largest gambling organizations in the world. Well, frankly, they weren’t on our list of people we couldn’t work with. We landed the largest contract in the history of our company at that time, and it set our company straight for an entire year. It was just because instead of turning away the client, we turned them to a different direction. So you’ve got to say no to turning away everybody. They are opportunities. They might not be your opportunity, but they’re someone’s.

No service creep

 

The last one is service creep. Oh, man, this one is hard. A customer comes up to you and they list off three things that you offer that they want, and then they say, “Oh, yeah, we need social media management.” Somebody else comes up to you, three things you want to offer, and they say, “Oh yeah, we need you to write content,” and that’s not something you do. You’ve just got to not do that. You’ve got to learn to shave off services that you can’t offer. Instead, turn them over to people who can do them and do them very well.

What you’re going to end up doing in your conversation, your sales pitch is, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you. We are great at some things, but this isn’t our cup of tea. We know someone who’s really great at it.” That honesty, that candidness is just going to give them such a better relationship with you, and it’s going to build a stronger relationship with those other specialty companies who are going to send business your way. So it’s really important to learn to say no to say no service creep.

Well, anyway, there’s a lot that we went over there. I hope it wasn’t too much too fast, but hopefully we can talk more about it in the comments. I look forward to seeing you there. Thanks.

 

The 10 SEO ranking factors we know to be true

Posted by on Oct 7, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on The 10 SEO ranking factors we know to be true

SEO has become extremely complicated and technical over the years. I’ve heard that organic search went from roughly 200 rankings factors to over 500, possibly more. But that’s speculation – only a few ranking signals were ever officially confirmed by Google. Some were “discovered” in studies, but most of them are either based on assumption or anecdotes. That creates too much room for uncertainty, speculation and straightforward wrong information.

Deep Dive: (for beginners) what is a SEO ranking factor?
An SEO ranking factor is a signal Google uses to rank pages in Google Search.

Google applies “Ranking Signals” to its index of web documents to return the most relevant result when a user performs a search. It’s important to distinguish between indexing and ranking. Google builds an index of pages by using hyperlinks to crawl through the web. Ranking doesn’t happen in this step. Many people think that when Google cannot properly index a page, say because it uses non-compliant Javascript, it is a ranking factor. That’s not the case.

Ranking signals take lots of different parameters on and off a web document into account: content, links, structure, etc. Our goal as SEOs is to figure out what ranking factors Google uses, so that we can optimize sites to rank higher in Organic Search.

We need more clarity about what we do know and what we don’t know in SEO to improve our credibility, have better conversations and achieve better results. Google’s use of Machine Learning is already making it harder to understand ranking signals and algorithm updates. It will not get easier and speculation only adds to the noise.

Instead of analogy, we need to reason from first principles.

HOW WE DISCOVER RANKING FACTORS IN SEO

“What ranking factors do we certainly know to be true?” is not a simple question. Google is a black box and it won’t tell us the secrets to its $100 billion algorithm [13]. It’s often impossible to create laboratory conditions in which we can isolate a factor and measure its impact on rank (people tried [27]). On top of that, ranking factors aren’t as “clear” as they used to be. They changed a lot over time and now even seem to be weighed different depending on the query. Yet, there are other systems of similar nature that have been reverse engineered. It’s not impossible.

To advance our understanding, we can draw evidence from 7 sources:

  1. Google’s blog
  2. Public statements by Googlers, e.g. on Twitter, in presentations or in interviews
  3. Ranking factor studies/analyses
  4. The Google Quality Rater Guidelines
  5. Google’s basic SEO guide
  6. Patents Google registered or acquired
  7. Anecdotes (people running tests and drawing conclusions

None of these sources are perfect, but in combination, they give us the best picture possible. There’s always an angle you can attack this from. For example, officially confirmed signals still don’t tell us how their weighted in the sum of all signals. Statements on Twitter are often very broad. And we even see data that conflicts with some things Google says. But, we have to work with what we have ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

ESTABLISHING FIRST PRINCIPLES OF SEO

First principles are the smallest building blocks; the things and laws we know to be true. Establishing first principles comes with three constraints. First, we have to distinguish between direct and indirect impact. Optimized meta-descriptions can positively impact organic traffic, but don’t have a direct impact on rank. Second, the questions “how much” and “in which case” are significant. Not every ranking factor applies to every query in the same way. For example, QFD (“query deserves freshness”) and HTTPS apply to only certain keywords. Third, we have to distinguish between positive and negative ranking factors (for example, 404 errors or “thin content”).

What’s the overarching goal I’m trying to achieve with this article? The goal is to sharpen our sense of proven truths in times of uncertainty. Google’s increasing usage of machine learning makes it harder than ever to understand the algorithm(s). But, by going back to the basics, we should be able to focus on results over speculative minutiae.

OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED RANKING FACTORS

We can put ranking signals into three groups:

  1. Officially confirmed by Google
  2. Discovered through analysis
  3. Speculated

I’m covering only confirmed and discovered signals in this article. I don’t see any sense in amplifying ranking signal speculations by covering them in this article.

The order in which the ranking factors are mention is my personal understanding of their significance. I understand content to be the most important signal on this list and E-A-T the least important. However, none of the signals are unimportant.

  1. Content
  2. External and internal links
  3. User Intent
  4. CTR
  5. User Experience
  6. Title tag
  7. Page speed
  8. Freshness
  9. E-A-T
  10. SSL encryption

RANKING SIGNAL 1: CONTENT

Returning the most relevant search results is the goal of every search engine. The roll-out of Hummingbird in 2013 was a milestone in getting closer to that goal: Google switched focus on entities and their relationships, which made it significantly better at understanding context and relevance.

In the early days of search, it was enough to mention a keyword many times on the page to be relevant. Now, content needs to have high relevance for the query, informational depth, answer all questions about a topic and match user intent. So, “Content as a ranking factor” means the length, depth, and relevance of body content for the targeted query.

Deep Dive: the nuance of content

Content is not only text; it’s also images, videos, gifs, and more. All these elements play together (more under “User Intent”). Ranking in Google’s image search is not the only benefit of optimizing images. Adding a descriptive alt-tag and file name increases the relevance of your content, especially for search queries that demand more visual results, like “star wars wallpaper”.

There’s also a difference between main content and supplementary content, i.e. text in the footer, header or parts of the site other than “the body”. It’s easy to see that the topic of “content” is very nuanced, but I’m trying to keep it high-level here.

Lastly, “pruning” low quality content has shown to be effective many times. The idea is to decrease the amount of low quality content on a domain by either improving or getting rid of it (noindex, 404 or redirecting). This indicates that Google measures content quality on a domain-level, at least to a degree. Note that this is not an official ranking factor, but John Mueller addressed the topic in a Webmaster Hangout, saying:

So in general when it comes to low quality content, that’s something where we see your website is providing something but it’s not really that fantastic. And there are two approaches to actually tackling this. On the one hand you can improve your content and from my point of view if you can improve your content that’s probably the the best approach possible because then you have something really useful on your website you’re providing something useful for the web in general. […] cleaning up can be done with no index with a 404 kind of whatever you like to do that.

How do we know this to be true?

Google SEO Starter Guide

  • Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.” [2]
  • […] optimizing your image filenames and alt text makes it easier for image search projects like Google Image Search to better understand your images.
  • If you do decide to use an image as a link, filling out its alt text helps Google understand more about the page you’re linking to. Imagine that you’re writing anchor text for a text link.

Presentations:

  • How Google works [18]

Interviews:

  • Andrey Lipattsev Q&A [20]

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “When we index a web page, we add it to the entries for all of the words it contains.” [1]
  • “Matt Cuts: Is speed more important than relevance?” [24]
  • “How Google is remaking itself as machine learning first company” [31]
  • “Better understanding of your site” [32]
  • “Good times with inbound links”: “*One of the strongest ranking factors is my site’s content. *” [34]
  • “Google Technology Overview” [36]
  • “Google Image Publishing Guidelines” [45]

RANKING SIGNAL 2: EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL LINKS

Links still have a decent influence on rankings, but ranking factor studies and Google statements have shown its decline over time. They still play a role in the ranking and indexation of web documents. And, like “content” as a ranking signal, backlinks are a bit more nuanced. Their quality depends on many factors, such as anchor text, strength of the link source, and matching content relevance between link source and target.

Internal links are powerful ranking signals, too. They pass link equity from page to page. Internal anchor text helps Google understand the topic and context of content like external backlinks. Already in 2008, Google recommended to “keep important pages within several clicks from the homepage“. So, URL-structure has a positive impact on rankings because it’s an indicator of a clear hierarchy of information (system taxonomy). URL optimization revolves around clean, descriptive directory-structures without duplicates or parameters.

Deep Dive: age as a quality indicator for links (and content)

I want to call out a patent invented by Matt Cutts (some might remember him) and Jeff Dean (Google’s current head of AI), amongst others. It describes using historic information in ranking, but I want to narrow down on the factor of document age and its impact on the quality of a link. A rapid spike in the number of backlinks might indicate a spam attempt or be okay depending on how old a page/site is.

In implementations consistent with the principles of the invention, the history data may include data relating to: document inception dates; document content updates/changes; query analysis; link-based criteria; anchor text (e.g., the text in which a hyperlink is embedded, typically underlined or otherwise highlighted in a document); traffic; user behavior; domain-related information; ranking history; user maintained/generated data (e.g., bookmarks); unique words, bigrams, and phrases in anchor text; linkage of independent peers; and/or document topics.” [40]

The patent contains all kinds of interesting hints, so give it a read when you have time.

How do we know this to be true?

Patents:

  • PageRank patent [14]
  • “Training set construction for taxonomic classification” [29]
  • “Information retrieval based on historical data” [40]

Interviews:

  • Andrey Lipattsev Q&A [20]

Google SEO Starter Guide [2]

  • The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important. Although Google’s search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site.
  • Link text is the visible text inside a link. This text tells users and Google something about the page you’re linking to. Links on your page may be internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about.” (also applies to external links)
  • Think about anchor text for internal links too
  • URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site.
  • Use a directory structure that organizes your content well and makes it easy for visitors to know where they’re at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
  • Provide one version of a URL to reach a document

Articles

  • “Importance of link architecture” [33]
  • “Technologies behind Google ranking”: “IR gave us a solid foundation, and we have built a tremendous system on top using links, page structure, and many other such innovations.” [17]
  • “Good times with inbound links”: “As many of you know, relevant, quality inbound links can affect your PageRank (one of many factors in our ranking algorithm)” [34]
  • “Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines” [35]
  • “Google Technology Overview” [36]
  • “Content guidelines: Keep a simple URL structure” [44]

RANKING SIGNAL 3: USER INTENT

I’ve written about the different types of user intent and how to identify them for a large set of queries in “User Intent mapping on steroids”:

User intent” is the goal a user is trying to achieve when searching online. Old school SEO distinguished between “transactional”, “navigational”, and “informational” user intent. People either want to buy, visit a specific page or find out more about a topic.

That hasn’t changed dramatically, but in the 2017 version of its quality rater guidelines, Google distinguishes between four intents:
– Know
– Do
– Website
– Visit-in-person

Content relevance and User Intent are closely related, but not the same. First, if user intent isn’t met a page won’t rank, whereas content relevance exists on a spectrum. For example, a blog article cannot rank for a query that demands listings, say for jobs or real estate. Or when you search for “Sushi”, you get local search results. Google understands that more users are looking for restaurants than an explanation or definition in this case. For some queries, images are a better format than text, for example, “tattoo inspiration”. In this case, you want to create an image gallery to rank well, not an essay.

RankBrain is the engine behind user intent understanding and the third strongest ranking signal according to Google:

Of the hundreds of “signals” Google search uses when it calculates its rankings (a signal might be the user’s geographical location, or whether the headline on a page matches the text in the query), RankBrain is now rated as the third most useful.

It’s described to assess “how well a document in the ranking matches a query” (Jeff Dean, head of AI at Google in a Wired article 2016 [31]).

How do we know this to be true?
Presentations:

  • How Google works [18]

Interviews:

  • Andrey Lipattsev Q&A [20]

Articles:

  • “FAQ: All about the Google RankBrain algorithm” [23]
  • “How Search Works”: “Understanding the meaning of your search is crucial to returning good answers. So to find pages with relevant information, our first step is to analyze what the words in your search query mean. We build language models to try to decipher what strings of words we should look up in the index.” [..] “This involves steps as seemingly simple as interpreting spelling mistakes, and extends to trying to understand the type of query you’ve entered by applying some of the latest research on natural language understanding.” [1]

RANKING SIGNAL 4: CLICK-THROUGH RATE

Click-through rate is the ratio between clicks and impressions in the Google search results. It’s affected by:

  • Brand recognition
  • Relevance of title, description, and URL for the query
  • Whether you have a rich snippet or not
  • Other features shown in the SERP (and which ones)

The exact usage of CTR in ranking is not 100% clear. It often falls between the cracks of using general feedback mechanisms in search. The questions here are how strong compared to other signals CTR is, whether it affects rankings in real-time (unlikely), or if there is an accumulation time. Besides Google being unclear about its usage, two papers show strong evidence for Google using CTR to rank pages.

There’s also evidence that Google is able to distinguish between more than just long and short clicks: “[…] rather than simply distinguishing long clicks from short clicks, a wider range of click-through viewing times can be included in the assessment of result quality, where longer viewing times in the range are given more weight than shorter viewing times.” [15]

How do we know this to be true?

Patents:

  • “Modifying search result ranking based on a temporal element of user feedback” [15]
  • “Incorporating Clicks, Attention, and Satisfaction into a
    Search Engine Result Page Evaluation Model” [26]

Presentations:

  • Gary Illes’ presentation at SMX Munich 2015 [16]
  • How Google works [18]

RANKING SIGNAL 5: USER EXPERIENCE

User Experience is one of the blurriest ranking signals of all because it’s so had to define and overlaps with many other signals. It could entail all touch points a user has with a company, but that’s impossible to measure for a search engine. It’s too soft. Instead, we need to look for hard factors:

  • Accessibility
  • Usability
  • Design

A page is accessible when it loads completely, quickly, and without issues. One way to optimize for this particular case is by providing image dimensions to avoid the “jump” when a page loads. But Ad pressure and invasiveness of ads fit into the bucket as well.

Compatibility with different devices, search functionality, and 404 errors are indicators for usability.

What most people have in mind when thinking of “user experience” is design and it does carry some importance. For example, If a site looks spammy users bounce, which can have implications on rankings. Important factors for “design’ are how easy it is for users to find and consume information and how trustworthy the experience looks. The latter plays into the next signal: E-A-T.

Good indicators for User Experience are user signals (bounce rate, dwell time, pages/visit) and engagement signals (social shares, scroll depth).

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “These algorithms analyze hundreds of different factors to try to surface the best information the web can offer, from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search terms appear and whether the page has a good user experience.” [1]

RANKING SIGNAL 6: TITLE TAG

The Title tag has been one of the stronger ranking signals from the beginning. It’s a strong indicator of relevance and affects CTR. Having the keyword in the title is still a requirement to rank, even though Google understands the context of queries. Google looks at “[…] how often and where those keywords appear on a page, whether in titles or headings or in the body of the text.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “How Search Works” [1]
  • Google SEO Starter Guide [2]

RANKING SIGNAL 7: PAGE SPEED

Google confirmed page speed to have an impact on rank in 2010 for the first time [22] and in 2018 for the second time [21]. Where the former relates to desktop devices, the latter refers to mobile search (to no one’s surprise).

10 years ago, page speed was a simple metric. Nowadays, we need to measure several metrics to get a good understanding, as websites have become much more sophisticated. Google’s own page speed tool, WebPageTest, recommends “Speed Index” as unifying metric. It accrues metrics like TTFB (time to first byte), TTFP (time to first paint), TTFMP (time to first meaningful paint), and time to DOMContentLoad.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “Using page speed in mobile search ranking” [21]
  • “Using site speed in web search ranking” [22]
  • “Google Technology Overview” [36]

RANKING SIGNAL 8: FRESHNESS AND QDF

Fresh results are a top goal of search engines, after relevance. As mentioned in the Google SEO Starter guide:

Traditional search evaluation has focused on the relevance of the results, and of course that is our highest priority as well. But today’s search-engine users expect more than just relevance. Are the results fresh and timely?

“Freshness” in search got a push when Google introduced its new indexation system “Caffeine” in 2010. [37] It allowed Google do index (new) pages in a matter of seconds and paved the way to assign a query “freshness”: a higher relevance for time. The query “Bitcoin” is highly sensitive to news these days, for example, while that wasn’t the case 2 years ago.

“Query deserves freshness” QDF is the ranking signal Amit Signal, former head of search at Google, talked about already in 2007: “The QDF solution revolves around determining whether a topic is “hot”. If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current information. The model also examines Google’s own stream of billions of search queries.” [38]

The difference between “Freshness” and QDF is that the latter measures spiking search volume to indicate whether a query is “hot”. It ranks newer content higher and shows more news integrations in the SERPs as a result. The former refers to keeping content up to date by adding new facts or findings. Search engines always want to return content that’s as up to date as possible, but that’s not the same as a query that suddenly has a high interest. The two vary in intensity.

How do we know this to be true?

Patents:

  • “Information retrieval based on historical data” [40]

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “We take note of key signals — from keywords to website freshness — and we keep track of it all in the Search index.” [1]
  • “Google SEO Starter Guide” [2]
  • “Giving you fresher, more recent search results”: “Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.” [19]
  • New York Times: “Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine” [38]

Videos:

  • Matt Cutts “Query deserves freshness.” Fact or fiction?” [39]

RANKING SIGNAL 9: E-A-T (EXPERTISE, AUTHORITY, TRUSTWORTHINESS)

E-A-T (“expertise, authority, trustworthiness”) is another broad signal, like user experience. To optimize for E-A-T, you need to add information to your site that helps Google understand whether you’re an authority, for example by adding an “about” page or providing a correct and full address. Your content needs to live up to the required expertise in quality and length. Writing about rocket science sounds and looks a lot different than writing about rap (no judgment). Google will also look at recommendations and endorsements from other, neutral sites. Yes, that also includes links from highly authoritative sites like Wikipedia.

E-A-T includes factors like domain age, reputation, reviews, and ratings. Some of us might remember the days of rel=author, an attempt of Google to measure the expertise of people for specific topics. Google retired authorship, but the idea is the same.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “In order to assess trustworthiness and authority on its subject matter, we look for sites that many users seem to value for similar queries. If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign the information is high quality.” [1]
  • “Google Quality Rater Guidelines (2017)”: “The amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E­A­T) that a webpage/website has is very important. MC quality and amount, website information, and website reputation all inform the E­A­T of a website.” [30]

Presentations:

  • How Google works [18]

Articles:

  • “Obtaining authoritative search results” [28]

RANKING SIGNAL 10: SSL ENCRYPTION

Google confirmed SSL being a ranking signal in 2014, after migrating to https itself two years earlier. Once again, the question is and was how much that signal applies. Back when Google rolled it out, HTTPS affected about 1% of queries and seemed to carry less weight than content:

For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Encryption is more important in industries like insurances, finance, and e-commerce than in others. It’s also more applicable in the check-out/login part than the blog of a site, for example. Google seems to give certain queries and parts of a website a higher relevance for HTTPS. That doesn’t make HTTPS unimportant in other cases: Google often emphasizes the benefits of HTTPS for general security.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “HTTPS as a ranking signal” [25]
  • “Google I/O 2014 – HTTPS Everywhere” [43]

RANKING FACTOR STUDY “META-ANALYSIS”

The strongest evidence in scientific research comes from a meta-analyses study. It looks at the data from many different studies on the same topic to form a holistic view. I conducted a “pseudo ranking factor study meta-analysis”, in which I compared the results of 7 studies from the last 2 years by Searchmetrics, SEMrush and Backlinko*. It’s “pseudo” because I couldn’t get insight into the raw data of the studies, so all the scientists in the audience can calm down ;-). (If any ranking factor study provider wants to grant me access – I’m all ear!).

On the chart, you see the top10 ranking factors from each study. I grouped them into five bigger fields (colored), so we can see the overlaps.

(links = orange, content = yellow, user behavior = blue, social = green, technical = gray)

When we look at the ranking factors across different studies – I don’t think anyone has ever done that before – we see foremost one thing: a big mess. On second look, I see a slight dominance of content relevance and length paired with user behavior. Backlinks seem to live on the lower end of the top10.

When it comes to backlinks, the sheer number of links and linking domains seem to still be the most prominent factor.

We can debate the meaningfulness and interpretation of ranking factor studies for the SEO industry, but I’m always open to learning from large sets of data. This little analysis merely helps to see the bigger picture.

*More caveats: Also note the timeliness of the studies. Ranking factors seem to change (or adapt?) faster in the last couple of months. Lastly, some studies focused on broad keyword sets while others looked at specific industries. That makes them only comparable to a degree.

ORGANIC SEARCH IS A NON-LINEAR SYSTEM

Organic Search is a non-linear system, meaning the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Some factors seem to compound, others seem to be driven by thresholds. Having great content, links, and user, experience seems to have a stronger effect than each factor added in isolation. Google also seems to measure negative factors with thresholds: a few 404s won’t hurt, but after a certain percentage Google seems to reinforce negative consequences. I only have observational evidence for this, so I’m curious on your experience!

Fact is, we don’t know the exact relationship between each ranking factor. And, If there are really 200 (or more) ranking factors, we must admit that most are unknown to us. That doesn’t mean we cannot speak about them or do experiments, but we must be honest about what we know and what we don’t know.

But even without that knowledge, we can focus on the parts we know make a difference – on the first principles of SEO:

  1. Content
  2. External and internal links
  3. User Intent
  4. CTR
  5. User Experience
  6. Title tag
  7. Page speed
  8. Freshness
  9. E-A-T
  10. SSL encryption

You can never do the basics well enough.

References

  1. https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/crawling-indexing/
  2. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7451184?hl=en
  3. https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking
  4. https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors
  5. https://www.semrush.com/ranking-factors/
  6. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/
  7. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-finance/
  8. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-travel/
  9. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-media/
  10. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-health/
  11. https://abc.xyz/investor/pdf/2017Q4_alphabet_earnings_release.pdf
  12. http://ilpubs.stanford.edu:8090/422/1/1999-66.pdf
  13. https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US146703304
  14. http://www.thesempost.com/how-google-uses-clicks-in-search-results-according-to-google/
  15. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/technologies-behind-google-ranking.html
  16. https://www.slideshare.net/SearchMarketingExpo/how-google-works-a-ranking-engineers-perspective-by-paul-haahr
  17. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-more-recent-search.html
  18. http://webpromo.expert/google-qa-march/
  19. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-in-mobile-search.html
  20. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
  21. https://searchengineland.com/faq-all-about-the-new-google-rankbrain-algorithm-234440
  22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muSIzHurn4U
  23. https://security.googleblog.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal_6.html
  24. https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/research.google.com/en//pubs/archive/45562.pdf
  25. https://engineering.purdue.edu/~ychu/publications/wi10_google.pdf
  26. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9,659,064.PN.&OS=PN/9,659,064&RS=PN/9,659,064
  27. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&S1=08484194&OS=PN/08484194&RS=PN/08484194
  28. https://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/assets/searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf
  29. https://www.wired.com/2016/06/how-google-is-remaking-itself-as-a-machine-learning-first-company/?gi=e27d6becfaf8
  30. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2006/12/better-understanding-of-your-site.html
  31. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2008/10/importance-of-link-architecture.html
  32. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2008/10/good-times-with-inbound-links.html
  33. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-26/google-turning-its-lucrative-web-search-over-to-ai-machines
  34. https://web.archive.org/web/20111115090558/http://www.google.com/about/corporate/company/tech.html
  35. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/our-new-search-index-caffeine.html
  36. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/business/yourmoney/03google.html
  37. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=QyFlIhruda4
  38. https://patents.google.com/patent/US7346839
  39. https://patents.google.com/patent/US6285999B1/en
  40. https://www.seroundtable.com/google-improving-pruning-content-24706.html
  41. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBhZ6S0PFCY&utm_source=wmx_blog
  42. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76329?hl=en&ref_topic=4617741
  43. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en

Google, SEO’s and ‘Quality Content’

Posted by on Oct 3, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google, SEO’s and ‘Quality Content’

GeoCities is a site previously ranking 3rd/4th for all variations of “wish promo code” (though now it’s settled in comfortably at #8).

I think 250k monthly queries related to a major brand makes this a pretty competitive query wouldn’t you say? Not only that, it came out of nowhere and is rapidly ranking for more and more search queries. Just check out the organic keyword report from SEMrush:

Seriously, you should check out the site, it has no main navigation, it’s written very poorly for the language it’s in (English), and it doesn’t have a meaningful link profile to speak of:

 

So if they aren’t ranking this site for its link profile, then I guess it’s ranking because of it’s ‘quality content’ right? After all ‘quality content’ without links can rank…

What does this mean for SEOs

Honestly, why are we as an industry still taking comments like this at face value? And aren’t comments like this detrimental without any context?

 

How often is this true? Is it for high volume or low volume searches? How often does Google rank low-quality pages by these processes aka what’s the fail rate? Google spokespeople hype up the ability of their machine process to solve incredibly complicated problems. And they do it! But they don’t do it anywhere near 100% of the time. And without the context and data, it feels irresponsible to run your digital business (whether agency side or in-house) based on statements like these.

Traditional SEO practices still work, Google doesn’t programmatically understand qualitative concepts like content quality nearly as much as they want you to think they do.

SEO isn’t dying anytime soon, and solid technical SEO, links etc still work etc.

 

How to use SEO to make your startup more attractive for investors

Posted by on Sep 30, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to use SEO to make your startup more attractive for investors

Long before you get into deep negotiations, due diligence or just even get to pitch your startup to an investor, your chances of getting funded may be damaged by your online searchable reputation.

Your startup’s web assets, such as website, social media pages and any type of online content, as well as your personal online assets, are exposed to basically anyone who knows how to search on Google.

When someone new is interested in doing business with you, the first thing they’ll do is search your name and your startup name on Google. When this happens, you want to be sure that they are presented with the most complimentary information of yourself and your business. It means that web pages which contain positive information about you must be ranked at the top of the SERP (search engine results page).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results. — Wikipedia.

In order to do that you need to be able to control or at least influence 2 things:

1. The content on the top search results of the SERP.
2. The rankings of the SERP for your name and your startup’s name.

How a search engine algorithm works?

Search engines such as Google use web crawlers to collect data from all around the world wide web. The collected information is then analyzed for each web page and domain through various parameters. The most important parameters are links to a web page, and content on a web page. That is how when you search for “Chicago Bulls,” you get the official website of the NBA team, and not of a bull farm in Chicago. This is accomplished simply because there are more links and content about the Chicago Bulls basketball team than any other bull in Chicago.

A SERP for the search term “chicago bulls”

While it is a huge and complex topic, which many thousands of engineers and marketers around the world everyday try to figure out, manipulate, and use to their advantage, there are actually a few things that anyone, even without previous background, can do to optimize theirs SERP rankings and content in a way that will support their online reputation.

Social Media Profile Optimization

Social media websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus and more, always rank high on Google for the account name search queries. Search engines love social media pages because they are usually the most relevant page when a user is searching for a specific name of an individual or a brand.

Here’s what you can to optimize your Social Media profiles/pages on SERP:

1 — Write persuasive profile bio:

Search for your name on Google and see how high your Twitter and LinkedIn profile appear. Pay close attention to the content snippets of the search results.

Does the text in the description create the best image of you or your brand?
If not, go to your profile settings, and edit text in the description. It may take a few days for the changes to appear, but it’s better late than never.

2 — Get a legit profile image:

Are your best images featured in the SERP? The images you see in the middle of the results page are taken from your social media accounts. If you are not happy with them, switch your profile pictures.

Make sure that your profile image is authentic, legit, and leaves a good first impression.

For your brand profile images, make sure your logo’s image is customized to the displayed size and isn’t cut in the middle of it.

3 — Remember I said it may take a few days for the new content to be indexed in search engines?

This one can sometimes help Google call its web crawlers to review your profile pages sooner. Submit the URL of your profile page to Google Search Console.

Submit your new social media profile page to get them indexed faster by Google

4 — Links are super important for search engine algorithms.

They show that a specific web page is relevant for a certain search query. Use the profile bio areas of your social networks account’s to link to your website and to your other social media accounts. Do it from your both personal and brand profile, and make sure that you link to your social media profile from your startup website as well, same as from your personal website if you have.

5 — Signup to more social networks.

If you see on the first page of the SERP other pages that you are not happy with their content or preview, go and open more social media accounts and optimize them. It will take some time for them to get indexed and climb to the top page, but it’s worth it.

Here is a list of recommended social networks to have your profile at, as they tend to rank high on SERP: Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, About.me, Quora, Medium, Pinterest, and Facebook (I guess you have that. Though pay attention that the profile bio from your Facebook profile won’t be displayed on SERP.)

6— Pay special attention to these 3 social networks:

Twitter:
There are 2 main reasons why Twitter is so important for SEO. One — it almost always ranks on the first page of Google. Two — many second tier social networks are automatically generating your default profile bio using your Twitter bio description. Make sure that you pay close attention to your Twitter bio.

LinkedIn:
As with Twitter, LinkedIn will almost always rank on the first page and in many cases will be the first search result, especially in situations where you don’t own a personal website. LinkedIn will also have a higher click-through rate than any other social network. It means that if anyone is searching your name, they will more likely to end up on your LinkedIn page than on any other of your social network profile. The reason for this is that on LinkedIn users expect to find more background information about you, but also to have it outlined in a way which is more organized and easy to read.

Google Plus:
Beside the fact that this is the official social network of world’s largest search engine, there’s also a much more pragmatic reason to pay much closer attention to your Google Plus profile. Here is the reason why.
When your Google Plus contacts search for information about you on Google search, they will be presented with this box on the left side of the SERP. Ask a Google Plus contact to send you a screenshot of this box while they google your name and edit the description and the image on your Google Plus profile to deliver an optimized message to your potential investors.

People that you connected with in Google Plus will see this box (on the right) when they’ll google your name

7 — Customize profile URLs.

Include your first name and surname in profile’s URL. For brand profiles, make sure to include the exact brand name.

Guest Blogging and Content Contribution

Another group of website that search engines love is large publications. By becoming a content contributor of online magazines, you will be entitled to have an “Author Bio,” which you will use to not only brand yourself as an authority in your field, but also to link to your website and other social media profiles.

More than that, if you create the most relevant content about your brand and yourself, then you have a good chance to control more real-estate of SERPs for relevant search queries.

So here’s what you can do:

  1. If you are not writing at the moment, start with blogging. You can open a blog on Medium and begin writing articles about your niche product, or your journey as an entrepreneur.
  2. To get ideas on what to write about, you can use Google Keyword Planner which is a free tool that exists in a Google AdWords account. This tool allows you to explore popular keywords and searches of your product niche. Use these insights to optimize your writing to include answers to popular search queries.
  3. Distribute you blogs posts. You can use popular Twitter hashtags to help reach the most relevant audience.
  4. Use Facebook and LinkedIn groups to engage with other entrepreneurs or professionals in your niche and share your articles with them.
  5. When you feel that your writings has reached a good enough level, outreach to popular bloggers and editors and offer to contribute articles. You can use this list to find website that are open for content contributions.
  6. Mention your startup brand name in your articles to increase the chances of that content appearing on your startup’s brand name search queries.
  7. Link to your startup website in an authentic way, which will add value to the readers. If you do that, it will improve the rankings of your startup website.

Structured data with Schema.org

Posted by on Sep 27, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Structured data with Schema.org

Schema.org takes care of all the structured data needs on your website. If you use it to markup products, reviews, events and recipes, search engines like Google can pick up this data and present it in an enhanced way. If you want rich results like snippets, interactive mobile results, voice activated actions or a listing in the knowledge graph, you need to mark up your pages with structured data. This ultimate guide is an overview of this wide-ranging topic.

Boost your chances of Google showing rich results of your site in the search results: learn how to add structured data with Yoast’s training on structured data and SEO.

What is structured data?

Structured data is the data you add to your website to make it easier for search engines to understand. You need a so-called vocabulary to make it work and the one used by the big search engines is called Schema.org. Schema.org provides a series of tags and properties to mark up your products, reviews, local business listings, etc in detail. The major search engines, Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo, collectively developed this vocabulary to reach a shared language that allows them to gain a better understanding of websites.

Structured data & Yoast SEO

Our flagship SEO plugin Yoast SEO supports multiple Schema.orgs out of the box. We’re working hard on extending this list and there’s more info in our Knowledge Base.

If implemented correctly, search engines can use the applied structured data to understand the contents of your page better. As a result, your site might be presented better in search results, for example in the form of rich results like rich snippets or rich cards. However, there are no guarantees you’ll get rich results – that’s up to the search engines.

Why do you need structured data?

Marking up your products, reviews, events, and more with structured data in the Schema.org vocabulary makes your site instantly comprehensible by search engines. This means that they can tell exactly what every part of your site is about. Search engines no longer have to guess that a product listing is a product listing, you can now say it is.

Is structured data important for SEO?

To cut a long story short: yes, structured data in the form of Schema.org is important for your SEO. Correctly implementing data might not give you better rankings, but it will indirectly make your site a better search result.

Enhanced search results give searchers an easier way to pick a result from the list of links. If your listing is rich, and your page does what your listing promises, you are a valid result for the customer and that will lead to a lower bounce rate. A lower bounce rate tells Google that your site is a well-regarded result that promises and delivers.

Also, since structured data is still picking up steam, you have a good chance of getting a head start on your competitors. Just think about it, if you have a barber shop and you markup your 300 five-star reviews, you are way ahead of your competitor who doesn’t mark up his reviews. Google picks up this data and shows it directly in the search results. If you were looking for a barber shop on Google, who would you pick? The one with no reviews or the one with 300 good ones?

Structured data leads to rich results

By making your site understandable for search engines, you’re allowing them to do interesting things with your content. Schema.org and its support is in constant development, so it is improving and expanding all the time. As structured data forms the basis for a lot of new developments in the SEO world — like voice search –, there are bound to be more in the near future. Below is a sampling of the rich search results that are currently available; you can find examples of all in Google’s Search Gallery. At the moment, there are several rich results:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Corporate contacts
  • Carousels
  • Logos
  • Sitelinks Searchbox
  • Social profiles
  • Articles
  • Books
  • Courses
  • Datasets
  • Events
  • Fact checks
  • Job postings
  • Local businesses
  • Music
  • Occupations
  • Podcasts
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • TV & movies
  • Video

Sitelinks Searchbox

A Searchbox is where the internal search engine of a site is presented within the search results of Google. Google uses Schema.org code for this as well. Yoast SEO has support for this built in, and there’s more info in our Knowledge Base.

The rich results formerly known as rich snippets

Rich results — we’re not supposed to call them rich snippets anymore, according to Google — are the extra pieces of information and interactive features shown on a search result page. In addition to the regular black lines of meta description text, a search result can be enhanced with product information like prices or reviews, or extra navigational tools like breadcrumbs or site search.

Keep reading: ‘Rich snippets everywhere’ »

Rich results on mobile: the carousel

Rich results on mobile are all the rage right now. Search results for certain types of items, like local restaurants, recipes, movies and courses, can get special treatment in the mobile results. These are presented in a touch-friendly, swipeable way also known as the carousel.

Google is incredibly interested in getting you to do as much as you can within these results. So, you can book your flight tickets, reserve a spot in a popular restaurant, order movie tickets and send a tasty looking recipe for cheesecake straight to your Google Home so it can assist you while baking it. Almost everything powered by structured data. And this is only the beginning.

Read on: ‘How to get mobile Rich Cards in Google’ »

Knowledge Graph

 

The Knowledge Graph is the big block of information on the right-hand side in Google. This block details different bits of information about a particular search result. Google fills this graph by checking and evaluating related content about this specific subject. If you have a validated company or if you are an authority on a certain subject, you might see your name, logo and social media profiles appear.

OK, so this might be a sneaky addition because featured snippets are rich results, but they do not get their content from structured data. A featured snippet answers a search question directly in the search results, but uses regular content from a web page to do so.

Does structured data work on mobile?

Yes, the results of implementing structured data work everywhere. Mobile implementation of Schema.org data is in its infancy, although Google has been pushing mobile rich search results for a while now.

If a page meets the criteria set by Google, you can now book movie tickets or reserve a table at a restaurant directly from the search results. If you implement structured data correctly, you could also be eligible for several interactive extras in the mobile search results pages. In addition, if you add AMP to the equation you can get even more Google approved interactive goodies on mobile.

 

Different kinds of structured data

If you look at the Schema.org website, you’ll notice that there is a lot of information you could add to your site as structured data. Not everything is relevant, though. Before you start implementing structured data, you need to know what you should markup. Do you have a product in an online store? Do you own a restaurant? Or do you have a local business providing services to the community? Or a site with your favorite cheesecake recipes? Whichever it is, you need to know what you want to do and explore the possibilities. Don’t forget to check the documentation by search engines to understand what they need from you.

Don’t go for the most obscure ones; pick the ones that are relatively easy to implement. Some Schema.orgs appear on less than a thousand sites, but others appear on millions. You can put the major Schema.orgs into groups like Creative Works and Commerce, and you will find the most common items to markup with Schema.org in these groups. These are the most important ones:

Creative works

The first major group is Creative Work and it encompasses the widest group of creative works – things that have been produced by someone or something. You’ll find the most common ones below, but the list is much longer. You’ll also find properties for sculptures, games, conversations, software applications, visual artworks and much more. However, most of these properties don’t have a rich presentation attached to them in search engine results, so they are less valuable. But, as mentioned earlier, if your site has items in the categories below, be sure to mark them up with Schema.org.

Articles

An article could be a news item or part of an investigative report. You can distinguish between a news article, a tech article or even a blog post.

Books

A book is a book, be it in a paper form or in digital form as an eBook. You can markup every type of property, from the author who wrote it to any awards it has won.

Courses

Soon, anyone offering courses can use the new Schema.org. At the moment, Google is holding small-scale tests with selected participants to see how this Schema.org performs.

Datasets

Google understands structured data for datasets and can use this to help surface and understand these datasets better. Find out more on Google’s developer pages.

How-tos

In the near future, you’ll be able to markup your how-to articles with HowTo structured data. By following a step-by-step process, users can get a specific task done. At the moment, there’s no rich result attached to this.

Music

Music also gets the structured data treatment. There are a couple of Schema.orgs of interest for music, like MusicRecording, MusicAlbum, MusicEvent and MusicGroup.

Recipes

By adding Recipe data to the recipes on your cooking website, you can get your recipes featured directly in search results. What’s more, with the advent of mobile rich results, recipes might even be presented in a stunning new way on mobile featuring great images — if you add them. And that’s not all, because you can now send your recipes to Google Home and get Assistant to speak it out loud for you. How cool is that?

TV & Movies

Movies and TV shows get their own piece of structured data as well. Searching for a movie in search engines will yield a rich result with reviews, poster art, cast information and even the ability to directly order tickets for a showing. You can even mark up lists of the best movies ever made or your favorite TV shows. What’s more, get your visitors to watch the content directly by adding ViewAction or Watch Action structured data.

Videos

It’s possible to do all kinds of interesting things with video. Google, in particular, is working on new ways to display videos in the search results, with AMP for instance. Google can use your videos in AMP carousels and Top Stories listings.

Podcast

Have a podcast? Why not mark up your podcast with structured data so Google can do cool stuff with it, like showing each episodes description and even adding a play button as well.

Commerce

The second major group is Commerce. In this group, you’ll find several important types to mark up with Schema.org.

Events

Marking up your event listings with the correct Event Schema.org, might lead to search engines showing your events directly in the search results. This is a must have if you own a nightclub, a venue or any type of business that regularly puts on events.

Businesses and organizations

If you make money with your website, chances are you own a business. If you’re a site owner or just work on a company site, you’ll find the business and organization Schema.orgs interesting. Almost every site can benefit from the correct business Schema.org. If you do it well, you could get a nice Knowledge Graph or another type of rich listing in the search engines. You can even add special structured data for your contact details so customers can contact you directly from the search results.

Read more: ‘Local business listings with Schema.org and JSON-LD’ »

Products

The Schema.org for products is almost as important as the one for businesses and organizations. Using Product Schema.org you can give your products the extra data search engines need to give you rich snippets, for example. Think about all the search results you see with added information, like pricing, reviews, availability, etc. If you have products, this should be a major part of your structured data strategy. Don’t forget to mark up your product images.

Keep reading: ‘Rich snippets for product listings with Schema.org’ »

Reviews

Reviews and ratings play an important role in today’s search process. Businesses, service providers and online stores all use reviews to attract more customers and show how trustworthy their offer is. Getting those five stars in search engines might be the missing link to creating a truly successful business.

Read on: ‘Grow your business with ratings and reviews’ »

New kid on the block: Actions

Voice assistants are all the rage and we will see a lot happen in this space in the coming months. Take recipes for instance; you can send a recipe from the search results — powered by structured data and AMP — to your Google Home to be read aloud while you are cooking. These are called Actions and there are a whole bunch of them. If you want your recipes to appear in the Google Assistant library you need to add a specific set of structured data and adhere to additional rules. You can find more on that on the Creating a recipe action page. Visit Google’s Assistant site to get a feel for what’s possible (a lot!).

Technical details

To get started with marking up your pages, you need to understand how Schema.org actually works. If you look closely at the full specs on Schema.org, you’ll see there’s a strict hierarchy in the vocabulary. Everything is connected, just like everything is connected on your pages. Scroll through the list to see all the options at a glance and note down the ones you think you need.

Google Search Console

If you need to check how your structured data is performing in Google, check your Search Console. Find the Structured Data tab under Search Appearance and you’ll see all the pages that have structured data, plus an overview of pages that give errors, if any. You can also find more insights into Rich Cards. Read this post for more info.

Let’s look at the hierarchy. A Schema.org implementation starts with a Thing, this is the most generic type of item. A Thing could be a more specific type of item, for instance, a Creative Work, an Event, Organisation, Person, Place or Product.

For example, a movie is a “Thing” and a “Creative Work”, which falls under the category “Movie”. You can add a lot of properties to this, like a “Description”, a “Director”, an “Actor”, a poster “Image”, “Duration” or “Genre”. There are loads of properties to add, so you can get as specific as you want. However, don’t go overboard, since not every property is used by search engines – at least not yet anyway. What you should do, is look at the specifications in Google’s documentation, for instance, to see which properties are required and which are recommended.

A sample Schema.org hierarchy

If we put what we know now in a hierarchy, this is what you will end up with:

  • Thing
    • Creative Work
      • Movie
        • Description (type: text)
        • Director (type: person)
        • Actor (type: person)
        • Image (type: ImageObject or URL)
        • etc.

If it would be a local business, you could use something like this:

  • Thing
    • Organisation (or Place)
      • LocalBusiness
        • Dentist
          • Name
          • Address
          • Email
          • Logo
          • Review
          • etc.

For local businesses, you could pick a more specific type of business. This makes it easier for search engines to determine what kind of business you own. There are hundreds of types of local business, but your business might not fit one of the descriptions. Using the Product Types Ontology you can get more specific information if your listing is too broad.

Sticking to the local business example, you’ll see that Google lists several required properties, like the NAP (Name and Phone) details of your business. There are also loads of recommended properties, like a URL, geo-coordinates, opening hours, etc. Try to fill out as much of these as you can, because only then will search engines give you the full presentation you’re looking for. If you need help with your local business markup, you’ll find our Local SEO plugin very helpful.

What do you need to mark up?

Looking at Schema.org for the first time might feel a bit daunting. The list is enormous and the possibilities are endless, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To get over this, you need to go back to basics. Think about what your site, business or product is about and write down the specifications and properties you feel are important, then work your way up from there.

Having said that, there are a couple of sections you should prioritize in your plan to add structured data to your site. If you start off with these three, you’ll have the basics covered and then you can build on that. You should absolutely start with structured data for your business details, products, and reviews. These will have the biggest effect in the short term.

 

How to implement structured data

Don’t be frightened, but here comes the technical part of the story. Actually there’s nothing scary about adding the data to your pages any more thanks to JSON-LD. This JavaScript-based data format makes it much easier to add structured data since it forms a block of code and is no longer embedded in the HTML of your page. This makes it easier to write and maintain, plus it’s better understood by both humans and machines. If you need help implementing JSON-LD structured data you can enroll in our structured data course or follow a high-level course on Google’s Codelabs.

Structured data with JSON-LD

JSON-LD is the preferred method of adding structured data to your site. However, not all search engines have been quick to adopt it – Bing being the last hold-out. Thankfully, Microsoft came round and now supports this, which is the most efficient method.

Below is a sample product listing of our flagship SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. This is only a small product listing with the basic information: type, name, image, description, and brand. At the end of the code is a call to action to buy the plugin, which costs a certain amount of dollars.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org/",
  "@type": "Product",
  "name": "Yoast SEO for WordPress",
  "image": "https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png",
  "description": "Yoast SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin. It handles the technical optimization of your site & assists with optimizing your content.",
  "brand": {
    "@type": "Thing",
    "name": "Yoast"
  },
  "offers": {
    "@type": "Offer",
    "priceCurrency": "USD",
    "price": "89.00"
  }
}
</script>

If you want to learn more about working with all this on your site, you should read Michiel’s article on how to use JSON-LD to add Schema.org data to your website, Annelieke’s article on adding structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager or learn how to add structured data with our training on structured data and SEO.

The old ways: RFDa and Microdata

The classic way of writing structured data for inclusion on your pages involves directly embedding it into your HTML. This made a really inefficient and error-prone process and is much of the reason why the uptake of Schema.org hasn’t been particularly fast. Writing and maintaining it via RFDa or Microdata is a pain. Believe us, try to do as much as you can in JSON-LD.

Microdata needs itemprops to function, so everything has to be inline coded. You can instantly see how that makes it hard to read, write and edit.

Structured data and Google AMP

The open source AMP project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) has been causing quite a stir. The project’s goal is to get pages to load lightning fast on mobile using a special kind of HTML. Google is pushing AMP pretty hard and also mentions its reliance on structured data. If you want to use AMP you need to add structured data. Google uses several Schema.org items to take care of the more interactive parts of AMP elements. You can use Yoast SEO combined with our AMP Glue plugin to take care of most AMP needs.

Tools for working with structured data

Schema.org is not too hard to work with, but if adding code by hand seems scary, you could try some of the tools listed below. If you are still not sure how to go about this, ask your web developer for help. They will probably fix this for you in a couple of minutes.

External links

Most search engines have their own developer center where you can find more information on the inner workings of their structured data implementations. Read these to see what works and what doesn’t. You should stick to their rules, because a bad Schema.org implementation could lead to a penalty. Always check your code in the structured data test tool to see if it’s correct. Fix errors and regularly maintain the code on your site to see if it is still up to scratch.

In the end

You can’t run away from structured data anymore. If your site means anything to you, you should look into it and figure out the best way to make use of Schema.org. Implemented correctly, it can do great things for your site, now and in the future. Search engines are constantly developing new ways to present search results and more often than not they use Schema.org data to do it.

The post Structured data with Schema.org: the ultimate guide appeared first on Yoast.

 

So-Called Google Duplex: The what, the ethics, the SEO

Posted by on Sep 23, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on So-Called Google Duplex: The what, the ethics, the SEO

What is Google Duplex exactly?

Google Duplex is an experimental new technology that Google demoed at Google I/O, the company’s annual developer conference. This technology allows Google to mimic human conversation. Google is quick to say that at this point, it’s only trained for specific fields.

Google showed a video in which a robot makes an appointment for a hairdressers appointment by calling that hairdresser and having an actual conversation. If you haven’t seen a demo of it yet, check out this video.

Is it any good?

Last Wednesday at the Google I/O conference, John Hennessy said about Google Duplex: “In the domain of making appointments, it passes the Turing test.” The Turing test is a test that determines whether a human is indistinguishable from a robot. This means that the robot used in Google Duplex is not distinguishable from an actual human being.

John Hennessy is the chairman of the board of Google’s parent company Alphabet. He is also quite a hero in the field of computer science. When he says something like that — even about his own company — it’s worth thinking about.

John Hennessy was pretty quick to point out that it passes in only one specific field: the task of booking appointments. “It doesn’t pass it in general terms, but it passes in that specific domain. And that’s really an indication of what’s coming.” Which gets us to ethics.

The ethics of AI that’s this good

When you have an Artificial Intelligence (AI) that can interact with people, as Google Duplex can, you need to think about ethics. Luckily, people have been thinking about precisely these kinds of ethics problems for a long time. The first set of rules you’ll run into when you search around ethics concerning AI are Isaac Asimov’s famous three laws of robotics, introduced in his 1942 (!) short story Runaround:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.
  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.
  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws.

While this laid the groundwork for almost all of the science fiction around robots, most of that doesn’t necessarily immediately come into play now. But since then, people have started adding on the three laws of robotics. The most well-known “fourth law of robotics” was added by novelist Lyuben Dilov, in his book Icarus’s Way. This law is as follows:

A robot must establish its identity as a robot in all cases.

Now, go back to the video linked above. Nowhere does that assistant state it’s a bot. In fact, it has mannerisms that make it very human. I think that’s wrong and I think people were rightly calling Google out on that. Google has already stated that they will change that. I’m curious how exactly. Let’s say I am skeptical. Google does not always communicate their intentions clearly. I mean: Google says it discloses which results are ads in its search results and which results aren’t. However, most ‘non-tech’ people don’t know what exactly is an ad and what is an organic result.  We’ll have to wait and see, or maybe, hear.

Security implications

In the wrong hands, this type of technology is incredibly scary. Did you know that it now takes less than 1 minute of recorded audio to reasonably accurately simulate somebody’s voice? Combine that with the inferior systems of security we currently have for phone conversations with, for instance, banks, and you have a potential disaster on your hands.

What will Google Duplex be used for?

The examples we’ve seen so far indicate that Google Duplex can be used to make straightforward phone calls – to plan meetings and make reservations. These examples fit the personal assistant purpose for which Google Assistant is promoted. But if an AI becomes this good at consumer interaction, of course, businesses will want to use it to receive phone calls as well. They could use it for helpdesks and other types of calls that we now task entire call centers with.

Future use of Google Duplex?

It is hard to say when Google Duplex will be used on a large scale. This might not happen next year or even the year after. But it’s definitely going faster than most people outside of the tech bubble realize. If Google Duplex can be trained to make a restaurant booking, it can also be trained to take your new credit card application. And, since it is an AI, it would be much faster and less error-prone than a human would be at performing your credit check.

Look at a Google Duplex-like system for receiving calls as a nice extension to the phone call conversion tracking system Google already has. Google could indeed take your credit card application. Or, without even all that much training, do the other side of the second example call in the video above and take the entire reservation system for a restaurant and automate it. The question then becomes: what if your digital assistant calls into the Duplex powered system on the other side? Will they use human-like conversation to get the job done? Will we end up with human speech as the ultimate computer to computer language?

 

 

How does this impact search and SEO?

Google Duplex might not seem to have a direct impact on search, but consider this: if your Google Assistant can have conversations like this with your hairdresser and your restaurant of choice, will you have these conversations with him/her too? Suddenly you can talk to your phone and sound like you’re talking to your secretary, instead of sounding like the freak who talks to his phone or watch. Search becomes even more conversational and queries get more complicated.

When queries get more complicated, context becomes more important than ever. And now we’re back to what we’ve been writing about for quite a while here at Yoast: you need to write awesome content. I really can’t add much to what Marieke wrote in that post, so read it.

The other side of how this impacts SEO is more technical. For AIs to be efficient, it’s far easier to rely on structured data. If you use a standards-based system like Schema.org for things like reservations, all Google has to do is tie into that. Suddenly, it doesn’t have to retrain its system for a new booking engine; it can just detect that you use Schema.org for that, and poof, it just works.

6 Plugins for Improving WordPress Performance

Posted by on Sep 20, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on 6 Plugins for Improving WordPress Performance

You don’t need to know how to code or do anything technical to make your site run faster and keeping it safe.

1. SWIFT PERFORMANCE LITE

This is free and will significantly speed up your site by:

. Combining CSS/Javascript
. Minifying CSS/Javascript/HTML
. Eliminating render-blocking Javascript and CSS above-the-fold in content
. Leveraging compression and browser caching
. Optimizing images
. Removing query strings from static resources
. Organizing plugins

2. TINYPNG

This plugin will compress and optimize your JPEG and PNG images automatically by:

. Automatic optimization of images when uploaded
. Advanced image optimization in the background
. Optimize images already in your media library
. Set max parameters for images to resize large images
. Option for preserve copyright metadata of images
. Compatible with WPML, Multisite, and WooCommerce

3. WP OPTIMIZE

This plugin helps your site perform at its best because it:
. Cleans your database – It will search for remove and unnecessary data such as trackbacks, pingbacks, trashed and spam comments, and expired options. It gives you complete control over which options it will carry out and can do these at the intervals you select (weekly, etc.).
. Compresses images – The plugin comes with an image compression tool that will compress JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, and TIF files up to 5MG in size. It will also do bulk compression, and auto-compress as images are uploaded.
. Has a built-in cache – WP Optimize also has a caching engine that will temporarily store data for faster loading website loading.

4. YOAST SEO

This plugin makes it very simple to optimize your site for SEO purposes. With it, you have:
. Keyword optimization
. Title and meta description templating
. Content and SEO analysis
. Content snippet previews
. Create cornerstone content
. Bulk editing of content

5. ALL IN ONE WP SECURITY FIREWALL

This is a plugin we always use because of how many features it has, a mere handful being:
. Protection against “Brute Force Login Attacks” with a site lockdown feature
. Google reCaptcha to the login system
. User registration security features
. Database security
. File system security features
. Blacklist functionality
. Firewall features
. Comment spam monitoring
. Security scanner

Both of these plugins give you the opportunity to automatically or manually backup the entirety of your WordPress site at no cost!

WordPress Hack Prevention

Posted by on Sep 13, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Hack Prevention

1. GET UP-TO-DATE

Updating everything on WordPress sounds daunting but can be done automatically! Insert this into your wp-config.php:

” define( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, true ); “

Don’t forget to put this in your functions.php:

” add_filter( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ ); ”
” add_filter( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_true’ ); “

2. CHOOSE YOUR THEMES AND PLUGINS CAREFULLY

Simply choose plugins that have at least 40,000 installs and has a rating of at least 4/5. Make sure, however, to see if its latest update is only a few months old; otherwise it’s much easier to hack into.

3. MODERATE USERS

Make sure none of your users have access to the site that you don’t want. Also delete any old users wherever you can.

4. DISABLE WORDPRESS FILE EDITING

File editing through WordPress is a quick and easy way to make edits, but is also rendering your site susceptible to attacks. It’s best to disable this unless you don’t have FTP access by inputting the following into wp-config.php:

” define(‘DISALLOW_FILE_EDIT’, true); “

5. PROTECT YOUR LOGIN PAGE

You should rename your wp-login.php page so that brute force attacks are practically ineffective. “All in One WP Security” does this for you for free!

6. ADD TWO-FACTOR AUTHENTICATION

This just means you either get a text or email notification sent to you so that nobody can get in unless you let them. You simply have to fill out a verification code sent to you.

7. CHANGE YOUR ADMIN USERNAME

Brute force attacks commonly use the username “Admin” to get into your site. Simply rename it so they have no extra way to get in.

8. USE SSL TO ENCRYPT YOUR DATA

SSL’s really simple to setup as long as you have a CloudFlare account and you have your DNS pointed there. Many hosting services are also starting to provide a free SSL to boot.

9. LIMIT LOGIN ATTEMPTS

“All in One WP Security” does this for you too! If a hacker has too many wrong answers when trying to login, they’ll be locked out for a certain period of time.

10. ALTER YOUR WORDPRESS DATABASE TABLE PREFIX

WordPress databases almost always start with “wp-“. Much like “wp-login” and “admin”, this makes your site easier to hack. Just rename it to something else through your hosting control panel.

11. ALWAYS BACKUP YOUR WEBSITE

Do this for free using the plugin “BackWPUp”!

The Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategies

Posted by on Sep 13, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategies

The Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategies

The Ultimate Guide To LinkedIn B2B Marketing Strategies

Why you need to be on LinkedIn for your B2B business

If you own a B2B business, you need to be on linkedIn, here’s why.

 

Every single second you spent reading this line, there is one new account being created on LinkedIn.

It is a rapidly growing platform that has huge potential, potential to bring you more customers.

You might think why do I need LinkedIn? I’m not looking for a job, I’m not looking for someone to work for me either.

Here’s the point that you miss, realized how you said job and work automatically when you mention LinkedIn?

LinkedIn is widely viewed as a platform for jobs, for professionals. When you’re running a B2B business, who’s your customer? Other businesses of course and people in those other businesses ARE professionals.

Professionals who most probably has their own LinkedIn account.

Forget Facebook, forget Twitter, LinkedIn is 277% more effective at lead generation than either of those platforms.

What’s more, those leads will be the kind of people you want. People in a business or in a position where they can say, hey there’s this product I saw on LinkedIn that might be useful for our company. Leads that can actually convert.

50% of LinkedIn members are the decision makers of their company. They hold the power and is at the position where they can actually buy your product or service for company use.

If this can’t convince you enough I have more stats coming in.

LinkedIn generated leads for 59% of B2B marketers and not only that, 38% of them also generated revenue.

Marketers are saying they got real leads, real customers and real revenue from LinkedIn.

You can get em too.

How to get on LinkedIn and get those leads coming in

If you already have a LinkedIn account, that’s great! You already nailed the first step.

Make sure you set up a personal profile that is up to date.

Now I’m sure LinkedIn will guide you through all the jazz. Adding a profile picture, adding your alma mater, adding connections et cetera.

Those are all good, follow all those steps to make your profile look like someone living and breathing and EAGER is actually behind the profile. Don’t look like a half-finished profile that probably hasn’t been logging in since the day it was created, we don’t want that, no one wants that.

Having a personal account is not enough, it is only the very first step. What you need to set up next is your company account.

Set up your company page. After following all the guidance from LinkedIn in filling up your business profile, here are some extra tips.

1. USE KEYWORDS TO OPTIMIZE YOUR PROFILES

You need keywords in your company profile. Now now, keyword is not some fancy SEO magic that can only be accomplished by gathering moondust and phoenix feather in the cauldron and stir it anti-clockwise for 3 and a half circles.

What is your business?

Where is your business?

How can you help your customers?

Answer those 3 questions, and you get your keywords. Think of it from your customer’s point of view, what will they type into the search bar when they want to find your business?

Make sure you answered these 3 questions in the first TEN ish lines, cause that’s how much everyone can see without expanding the box. Also while you’re at it, make sure they will want to expand that box, because that is where they can see the link to your company homepage.

LinkedIn only shows the first ten-ish lines before clicking on expanding, so fit in your important stuff there.

Pretty much like Facebook, you can publish posts on your company page.

Use keyword driven, and relevant content that addresses the pain points of your targeted audiences.

 

Use tools like LSIGraph to get keywords that can fit in naturally to your profile.

2. ESTABLISH CONNECTIONS TO REACH MORE POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS

Now that you have your business page on LinkedIn, you can and should go ahead follow the company page.

Not only that, you can also connect to your company page by adding it in your Experience tap saying this is the company you’re currently working for.

Here is one important tip to get a wider connections web. Ask all your employees or co-workers to follow these two steps. That is follow the company page and list it as your current employer.

What this does is, you’re basically amplifying your existence on the platform.

Every employee is a connection to your business, and every one of them has their own connections that will be looking at your employee’s profile page and see that oh, ok this is the company he or she is working at.

They might be curious and click it and be lead to your company page. Again, they might look at the page and think, well, this seems like a nice company that has useful and professionals posts that can help my own professional life, and they might click follow.

You see, by simply having someone list your company in their profile, they are endorsing you to their own connections. On the other end, you’re endorsing them too, you’re telling everyone on the platform that this is your employee.

Add your company to your experience tab and encourage your employees to do the same to amplify your business network.

So, people who are interested in your business, they might be intimidated to just go ahead and interact with you directly, they might find one of your employees and look at their profile first.

You want to be building a network, a map where people has an easy access to find you, your business, or anyone who works for you.

3. LINK TO YOUR WEBSITE AND CONTENTS TO INCREASE EXPOSURE

The most important part of your business’s online presence is probably your website homepage. Link that on your LinkedIn business profile.

Don’t forget to boost your LinkedIn page on your company website too. Create a little follow button to encourage your visitors to go ahead and follow your LinkedIn page.

If your company website runs a blog, link those blog posts on your LinkedIn page too.

Post a little sneak peek on your post then link them back to your blog for the full thing. Or if you like, create original content to post on your LinkedIn page, then link them back to some related blog posts for further reading.

The thing is, treat your company page, not like a homepage, you already got your website for that. Instead, you want to treat it like a landing page and a navigation page.

Consistently update your company page and link out to your website for more valuable articles or informational pieces. That way you can broaden your exposure while maintaining an active page at the same time.

Bring your content marketing right into your LinkedIn page

When someone logged into LinkedIn, they’re logging in as a professional. Not a mom checking out how her son is doing at the college town, but as a career woman, eager for some professional advice or leader insights on an industrial problem.

 

Your content works for you even when youre not, and LinkedIn is a great platform to let your content work.

LinkedIn is a platform for professionals, that’s why we have decided that you need a LinkedIn presence for your B2B business at the first place right?

So how can you translate this into your content marketing strategies?

One rule, keep it professional.

On LinkedIn, more than any other place, you need to post contents that are focused, informative and insightful. You may crack a joke and use a meme on Twitter, but please refrain on LinkedIn.

1. KNOW YOUR AUDIENCE AND TARGETED PERSONA

I know we talked about how 50% of LinkedIn members are positioned high enough to be decision makers in their company. But in smaller companies, the line may be blurred.

Professionals holding different positions in the company have different concerns when they’re looking for purchasing a B2B service or product.

Many transactions, in fact, most in B2B, don’t have a single buyer. For that reason, one piece of content might do a great job of reaching one person, while not performing well with other decision makers. This is why we need an overlapping persona analysis when building out content. — Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz, Moz

What you need to do is this, think hard and long on who you want to be targeting. In your industry, your niche, who will be the one making the decision on a purchase? What will be their concern?

You need to address their concerns, from the developer’s to the board member’s, and tell them the exact outcome that concerns them IF they buy your product.

This is why, when you’re planning a buyer persona you also need to check for overlapping personas. You want to be able to appeal to, and impress these people of different levels that they need your product and how it will benefit the company as a whole.

2. USE LONG FORM CONTENTS

Professionals are so busy all the time, why would they want to read my thousand words content? They won’t if it’s irrelevant.

The thing is, they are professionals, they already know a lot about what they need to know.

But, stay with me, if you can tell them MORE about something they already know, you’ll be getting their attention. And things like that can’t be done in a hundred words.

So long form contents, in this case, is really more in depth and detailed contents. Case studies are especially always a welcomed sight.

New data and new case studies are the kinds of long-form content that provide values to someone who is already a veteran in a field.

What’s more, your own service and own product is the perfect tool to create such kind of long-form contents.

That way, you’re killing two birds with one stone by creating valuable long-form content and showcasing your product at the same time.

3. CREATE MEDIA RICH POSTS

Posts with images have six times the engagement compared to a post made up of only text, while posts with video got 3 times the links compared to your good old text post.

There’s nothing wrong with text posts, I’m saying you can make them even better by sprinkling in an image here and there.

Images can actually be useful in a couple of ways. Use an image to summarize the points, draw attention to a certain point, evoke emotions, present data and more.

The most important role of images when you’re creating an in-depth, long-form content is really to show the readers, how things are.

 

Link your audience to the post back at your website and attract them using images.

Especially when you’re making a case study, showing them directly what happened is the most straightforward way to showcase your project.

Your readers will also be more interested in looking at the situation first hand instead of trying to imagine what it’s like by piecing together the words you’re weaving.

Reaching your audience on LinkedIn

Now that you know why you need to be on LinkedIn for your B2B content marketing, you know what kind of content you need to make it work, the most important question is, how can you reach all those powerful LinkedIn users and turn them into leads and finally convert them into customers?

Now let’s start with the first step, looking for those who fit into your targeted persona.

1. LOOK FOR YOUR POTENTIAL CUSTOMERS DIRECTLY

One strength of LinkedIn is how their search bar functions, you can filter your search by location, companies they have served, or currently employed, the industry they’re working in, and their profile language.

And that’s only for a free profile if you upgrade to one of their premium plans you can further filter your search to look for those who fit your targeted persona the most, like what positions they held in their company.

No other social sites let you search for users this way, this is a powerful tool for you to identify your potential leads.

LinkedIn has a search filter system that is perfect to look for your potential customers.

Once you have found them, them as in your potential leads, you can ask to connect with them directly.

Your connections are automatically served their connections, which in this case, your posts on their LinkedIn homepage.

Some people don’t welcome connecting with people they don’t know though, so here comes the second way.

2. JOIN GROUPS TO ESTABLISH YOURSELF AND MAKE CONNECTIONS

There are hundreds of groups on LinkedIn where conversations and discussions go on for days.

Find groups that are relevant to your business and start mingling with other members to establish yourself and build a bigger network.

Look for groups specific of your niche, and don’t just join any groups, you want to make sure they are active groups, where the members are actually checking in and engaging with each other.

Join one, or a few, if you’d like. Join their conversations, mingle with the other members. Now you can start filtering members who has the potential to be your prospects.

Since you’re active in the same group as them and have probably interacted with them a couple of times, they are more willing to accept your invitation to connect.

Voila…

Now, you have your optimized profiles, you have your optimized content, and your prospects in your connection. Paired with a consistent update and effort you can start seeing those leads trickling in.

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width: 100%;
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background: url(https://seopressor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/social-media-statistic-mock.png);
background-size: cover;
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width: 60%;
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padding: 24px 4% 32px;
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Platform Analysis: Breaking Down The Social Media Big Six

We did the research on the 6 most popular social media platforms so you don’t have to!
Read the detailed overview.
Match it to the type of business you’re running.
Discover which fits best!

 

Google Search Tips That’ll Help You Find Everything

Posted by on Sep 7, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Search Tips That’ll Help You Find Everything

Have you ever had this situation where no matter what phrase you type into the search box, no matter how deep you dig into the result page, you just can’t get what you’re looking for? You might need some tips on how to search if so.

So here are a few Google search tips to help you find anything and everything across the web.

1. Minus operator excludes terms in the result

Use the “-“ operator to exclude the term from appearing in result.

This is especially useful for terms that are used in pop culture. In my example, if you search for ‘stitch’ without the minus operator you’ll probably be greeted by a blue alien pet dog from Disney.

2. Plus operator to include a term in the result

You can also use a “+” sign if you want the result to include another term.

3. Quotation marks for exact match

If your search term is made up of more than one word, the results might not be accurate because the search engine returns results where the terms appear separately.

So use quotation marks to get results with the exact math.

4. OR to combine searches

Use the OR (yes, in capital letters) when you want to combine search queries. This is useful in a situation where you’re looking for two terms that are similar in nature.

5. Wildcard – use asterisks to match on any words

I use this when I want to treat the targeted term as a theme, and have the result include whatever that comes along with it.

6. Search site using site:’siteurl’

When you need to search on a site but their own search function is ineffective, consider using Google instead.

7. Two dots between numbers to get a result between those numbers

Instead of typing out “from 1994 to 2001” you can just replace it with two dots, like this “1994..2001” and you’ll get results between those numbers.

8. Intitle: search only in the page title

Use this to search specifically in the title, and use quotes when your term is made up of more than a word.

9. Allintitle: search only in page title using all the terms

Use this to search specifically in the title, but using all the words in your search term.

10. Intext: search only in the body of a page

Use this to search specifically in the body, and use quotes when your term is made up of more than a word.

11. Allintext: search only in the body of a page using all the terms

Use this to search specifically in the body, but using all the words in your search term.

12. Filetype: search for a specific file type for a term

Searching for more technical or scholastic terms there are often search results that trigger a pdf download when clicked. The filetype operator can be used to specify the filetype you want to avoid such a problem.

13. Related: discover similar sites

You can use this to look for similar or related sites for the site you want. It only works on bigger websites though.