SEO Articles

The latest news in SEO and WordPress: July 2020

Every few weeks we have an SEO News video in which Jono Alderson and I, along with other experts, share the latest SEO news with our academy subscribers. Last week, we decided to try this in the form of a webinar where viewers were able to ask us questions right away. Because this was such a success, we’re already planning our next webinar. In this blog post, I’ll discuss the highlights of our July 2020 webinar to give you an idea of what’s new in the world of SEO!

Stay on top of the latest changes in SEO by getting a Yoast SEO academy training subscription. This also gives you the opportunity to watch earlier videos of SEO News and develop vital SEO skills by completing a variety of courses.

What’s new with Google and Bing?

Our friends at Google and Bing have not been sitting idly by, so we had lots of news to share. Here, I’ll give you a few highlights of what we discussed.

Scroll to text

Google has been testing it on AMP for quite a while, and now it’s probably here to stay: scroll to text. So, what is it? When someone does a search on Google and clicks on a featured snippet result, Google will send this user to the specific piece of text on the page and highlight it. Seemingly, without the context of the introduction above or content surrounding this answer. And although this focus on getting a quick answer is understandable from a user’s view, it seems quite contradictory to Google’s view that long-form content provides more quality and a better user experience.

So, what does this mean for us? It might mean some changes to your design, for example considering a sticky header to keep your brand in the picture wherever someone is on your page. But mostly, it means that structuring your content becomes even more important to make sure that each part of your text can stand alone. To make it easy, you’ll have to treat every piece of text on your page as its own landing page. Our SEO Copywriting training, which is part of our Content SEO training course, can definitely help you out with that.

Licensing program for news publishers

With an increase of zero-click searches (where questions are being answered at the top of the SERPs), it’s becoming more difficult for certain businesses to get people to click through to their site. And this makes it more difficult to make money and create new content. That’s why Google has launched an early pilot for news publishers. A licensing program in which they’ll pay publishers for high-quality content, to make sure they’ll be able to keep their business running and provide people with complex and deeper stories on different issues and interests. Now, this is still a pilot for specific countries and specific publications, so we’re curious to see where it goes.

Free product listings in the SERP

Google has a product tab in their search, but they seem to be shifting more and more to showing products directly in the search results. And the latest announcement in this is that if you have schema.org and structured data for the products on your site, your products become eligible to being shown directly in the search results. Without paying Google. And this is pretty cool because it’s a step in opening up the web further for everyone. Anyone who uses schema.org and implements their structured data the right way can compete, even with the bigger players. If you haven’t implemented schema.org yet, our Yoast SEO plugin and WooCommerce SEO plugin can help you with that.

Bing Site Scan tool

Bing has launched the Site Scan tool, a potential competitor to existing tools where you can crawl your site to find technical SEO issues. It’s not as extensive as other tools you might be familiar with, but it gives you reports on things that are broken and can impact your rankings. So it’s definitely worth having a look at.

There’s lots and lots of more fun news we discussed in the webinar, such as a page experience update, the latest on structured data for recipes, a new fact check label, and more. To get access to this and other videos to stay on top of the latest news in SEO and WordPress, you can subscribe to one of our Yoast SEO academy training courses:

Show me the Yoast SEO training subscriptions!

What’s new in WordPress?

Web Stories (beta)

The upcoming release of WordPress 5.5 comes with a few noteworthy features which we discussed in the webinar. But in this blog post, I want to highlight one of them: Web Stories. Now, this is still in the beta stage, but this editor shows us a promising next step in the way we create and present content. To put it in understandable words: Web Stories makes it possible to present your content in a visual, engaging and swipeable way on your site (think Instagram or other visual social platforms).

The cool thing with this new feature and others like it, is that the Google team actively collaborates with us to make sure it will work together well with our plugin. In the case of Web Stories, someone from Google made a pull request on our Yoast SEO Github. Which is essentially a request to review the changes they will make before they’re final. This gives us the opportunity to anticipate them and make sure our plugin will seamlessly work together with this new editor by giving out the right metadata.

XML sitemaps in core

Another feature worth mentioning is that WordPress will be adding XML sitemaps in its core. This is pretty cool because it’s a feature that was still missing from WordPress. For everyone using our Yoast SEO plugin, we will disable this default sitemap for the simple fact that Yoast SEO already adds a sitemap which helps Google find your content. Don’t worry, we know what we’re doing. We’ve actually worked with a team from Google on optimizing our sitemap feature and the one Yoast SEO provides is just more up to date concerning metadata.

What’s new in Yoast?

With an ever-changing SEO world around us, we understand the importance of improving our work to keep up with these changes. Not just in terms of adding more languages to our Yoast SEO plugin, but also in providing everyone in the community with an easy and natural workflow.

Duplicate Post

That’s why we recently acquired the Duplicate Post plugin from its original developer Enrico Battocchi, who has also joined our team as a senior developer on the plugin. This plugin lets you duplicate any post or page in WordPress, and all its settings, with just one click. You can read more about this plugin, and what it can help you with, in our announcement post.

Improved publishing workflow

What’s new in Yoast SEO is an improved publishing workflow and the possibility to tell search engines how to treat links that you add to your content. These are both features to help our users create quality content that fits into a good SEO strategy. The improved publishing workflow helps you keep an eye on the rankability and readability of your text, but also makes it easy to share your new post right away.

Rel attributes for links

The rel attributes we’ve added for links, might not be recognized as a Yoast feature right away, but they are. And I’ll tell you what they’re for. This feature helps you mark external links as nofollow, which is always a good idea if they lead to pages you don’t really want to endorse. Also, you can use the sponsored attribute to show search engines that an external link is commercial. These attributes help Google get a better sense of what happens with links on the web.

You can read all about these new features in our Yoast SEO 14.4 release post. And if you’re curious about the other topics we discussed, have a look at our Yoast SEO academy subscriptions to get access to these SEO News videos.

The post The latest news in SEO and WordPress: July 2020 appeared first on Yoast.

Read More

Parent and child pages: Linking hierarchical post types for SEO

Parent and child pages: Linking hierarchical post types for SEO

When we talk about site structure on WordPress we often focus on blogs post: “Use tags and categories and link to your the best fitting related posts!” But you probably have hierarchical post types on your site too. An example of a hierarchical post type is the Page post type; a page can have parent, child, and sibling pages. Inherently, these pages fit in a certain structure and, with little effort, you can leverage this structure to boost your SEO. Let’s have a look!

Site structure and SEO

A solid site structure is essential for SEO. Users and search engines love content to be findable and well-organized. Therefore, your site should have a clear structure, your menu should reflect this structure and users should easily navigate your site to find what they’re looking for. Navigating often means following links, and just like readers do, search engines follow links. So, in fact, by organizing and connecting your content in a sensible way, you’re able to hit two birds with one stone: please users and search engines.

Internal linking

Smart internal linking leads users and search engines to related content, and ideally, to your best content. For instance, if we write about keyword research tools, it makes sense to link to other posts about keyword research (and not, let’s say, posts about the robots.txt file). Moreover, if we want to keep users engaged and show our expertise, it’s a good idea to link from all these related posts to our best and most complete resource on the topic: our ultimate guide on keyword research.

Doing so, we’ll not only guide readers to this guide but search engines too; as this post gets so many (internal) links, it must be an important post. As a consequence, Google will rank it higher than other topically related posts on your site. We call this a cornerstone strategy. And, in fact, your hierarchical pages offer some great opportunities here!

What is a hierarchical post type?

In a hierarchical post type, you can place posts in a certain hierarchy by selecting a parent page. This often means the parent page covers an overarching theme and groups various child pages that are topically related. A child page can only have one parent page, but a parent page can have multiple child pages. So a child page can have sibling pages on the same level. For instance, on a company website, a Team and Mission page are probably child pages of the About us page. And, in that case, the Team and Mission page are siblings.

Hierarchical vs non-hierarchical

Hierarchical means that there are different levels: the parent page is on top, followed by child pages on a sub-level, which could again be followed by grand-child pages on a sub-sub-level. A non-hierarchical system means that all items are on the same level. You can compare it with the table of content and the index of a book. The table of content structures topics in a hierarchical way. For instance, in a book about big cats:

Big cats

Africa’s big cats Lion Leopard Cheetah Asia’s big cats Tiger etc

While you’ll have an index like:

African savannahp. 33cheetahp. 10Himalayan mountainsp. 18lionp. 21snow leopardp. 12etc

Both structures will help you find content in a slightly different way. In WordPress, blog posts usually are a non-hierarchical post type; you can’t give them a parent. But this doesn’t mean that you can’t structure these posts! You should definitely organize them by giving them tags and/or categories and interlinking them properly. The main difference here is that you can put non-hierarchical posts in multiple categories and give them various tags, while hierarchical pages will only have one parent per page.

How do you set a parent page?

On a hierarchical post type, you can easily set a parent for your page. In the WordPress block editor, you should go to the settings sidebar and scroll to Page attributes:

Setting the parent of a WordPress page in the post sidebar in the WordPress block editor

Under Parent Page you’ll find a list of pages on your site. Just select the parent page of the page you’re creating and you’re done. If you do this, the hierarchy is reflected in the URL and breadcrumb of the page too: just look at the URL of our About us and Mission page:

https://yoast.com/about-us/

Yoast’s mission: SEO for everyone

And the breadcrumb also shows where this page sits on our website:

The breadcrumb of a page shows where the page sits on your site: the Mission page is a child page of About us.

When do you choose an hierarchical post type?

Not all content fits in a hierarchical post type. But some pages, like your About us pages, definitely do; they all fall under one overarching them: About us. But also topical content, for which you’d like to rank, can fit very well.

An example: Let’s say you’re a fan of big cats and you write about them to raise money to support their survival in their natural habitat. One section of your site is dedicated to describing these big cats, which species belong to this group, and giving more details about each one of them. In that case, using hierarchical pages makes sense. You could have:

A parent page about all big cats: here you can write about which species belong to the big cats, what they have in common, how they live, why they are such awesome creatures, and a short description of all of them.An African big cats’ page, which tells you everything about the group of big cats originating from Africa: the lion, leopard, and cheetah. This is the child of the big cats’ page. On the same level, you can have two sibling pages: big cats from Asia and big cats from the Americas.Pages about every single species, for instance, the leopard. This parent is the child of the Africa’s big cats’ page and the grandchild of the big cats’ page. It goes into more detail about the single species.

Link your hierarchical posts for users and SEO

As all this content with one parent page is related, it makes sense to connect it! You can do so by internal linking. For instance, you can link from the leopard page to the lion page and the cheetah page. But of course, as you’ll probably mention these species belong to Africa’s big cats, you should link to the parent too. From the parent pages, it also makes sense to link to the child pages; when reading about Africa’s big cats, people probably want to know more about the species belonging to this group.

For search engines, all these links show the connection between your content; they create a sort of cluster and make clear how pages relate to each other. Moreover, all this related content and its context helps search engines to better understand what entities you’re talking about: not Lion the candy bar, but the lion, Africa’s big cat (although that might be quite obvious in this example).

Linking them is easy with Yoast SEO Premium!

Since Yoast SEO 14.5 we have a new feature in Yoast SEO Premium! As you’ve read above, linking hierarchical post types is beneficial for SEO. And linking them is super easy with the block editor in Yoast SEO Premium. We’ve created two blocks:

a sub pages block: a block that lists and links the child pages of a pagea siblings block : a block that lists and links the siblings of a page

Adding them is super easy: if you create a new block, search for sibling or sub-pages and the blocks will pop-up. In this video, you can see how it works:

Want to have this feature, and loads of other awesome functionalities, like internal linking suggestions or a redirect manager, too?

Get Yoast SEO Premium ▸Only $89 USD (ex VAT)

The post Parent and child pages: Linking hierarchical post types for SEO appeared first on Yoast.

Read More

Declining Visitor Values

Declining Visitor Values

Late Funnel SEO Profits

Before the Panda update SEOs could easily focus almost all their energies on late funnel high-intent searches which were easy to monetize without needing to put a ton of effort into brand building or earlier funnel informational searches. This meant that SEOs could focus on phrases like [student credit cards] or [buy earbuds] or [best computer gaming headphones] or [vertical computer mouse] without needing to worry much about anything else. Make a good enough page on those topics, segment demand across options, and profit.

Due to the ability to focus content & efforts on those tiny subset high-intent commercial terms the absolute returns and CPMs from SEO investments were astronomical. Publishers could insert themselves arbitrarily just before the end of the value chain (just like Google AdWords) and extract a toll.

The Panda Shift / Eating the Info Supply Chain

Then Panda happened and sites needed to have stronger brands and/or more full funnel user experience and/or more differentiated content to be able to rank sustainably.

One over-simplified way to think of Panda and related algorithms would be: brand = rank.

Another way to look at it would be to consider the value chain of having many layers or pieces to it & Google wanting to remove as many unneeded or extra pieces from the chain as possible so that they themselves are capturing more of the value chain.

That thin eHow article about a topic without any useful info? Not needed.
The thin affiliate review which was buying Google AdSense ad impressions on that eHow article? Also not needed.
All that is really needed is the consumer intent, Google & then either Google as the retailer (pay with your credentials stored in your phone) or another trusted retailer.

In some cases there may be value in mid-market in-depth reviews, but increasingly the aggregate value offered by many of them is captured inside the search snippets along with reviews directly incorporated into the knowledge graph & aggregate review scores.

The ability to remove the extra layers is driven largely by:

the quality of the top players in the market
the number of quality publishers in a market (as long as there are 2 or more, whoever is not winning will be willing to give a lot of value to Google to try to play catch up against their stronger competitor)
the amount of usage data available in the market
the ad depth of the market

If your competitor is strong and they keep updating in-depth content pieces you can’t set and forget your content and stay competitive. Across time searcher intent changes. Those who change with the markets should eventually have better engagement metrics and keep winning marketshare.

Benchmarking Your Competition

You only have to be better than whatever you are competing against to win.

If you have run out of ideas from your direct competitors in an emerging market you can typically find many more layers of optimization from looking at some of the largest and most successful players inside either the United States or China.

To give an example of how user data can be clean or a messy signal consider size 13 4E New Balance shoes. If you shop for these inside the United States a site like Amazon will have shoe size filters so you can see which shoes from that brand are available in that specific size.

In some smaller emerging markets ecommerce sites largely suck. They might allow you to filter shoes by the color blue but wanting to see the shoes available in your size is a choose your own adventure game as they do not offer those sorts of size filters, so you have to click into the shoe level, find out they do not have your size, and then try again. You do that about 100 times then eventually you get frustrated and buy off eBay or Amazon from someone who ships internationally.

In the first case it is very easy for Google to see the end user flow of users typically making their purchase at one of a few places like Amazon.com, the official New Balance store, or somewhere else like that which is likely to have the end product in stock. That second experience set is much harder to structure because the user signal is much more random with a lot more pogos back to Google.

Bigger, Better Ads

Over the past couple decades Google has grown much more aggressive at monetizing their search results. A website which sees its rank fall 1 position on mobile devices can see their mobile search traffic cut in half overnight. And desktop search results are also quite ad heavy to where sometimes a user can not see a single full organic result above the fold unless they have a huge monitor.

We tend to look at the present as being somewhat static. It is a part of human nature to think things are as they always were. But the general trend of the slow bleed squeeze is a function of math and time: “The relentless pressure to maintain Google’s growth, he said, had come at a heavy cost to the company’s users. Useful search results were pushed down the page to squeeze in more advertisements, and privacy was sacrificed for online tracking tools to keep tabs on what ads people were seeing.”

Some critics have captured the broad shift in ad labeling practices, but to get a grasp of how big the shift has been look at early Google search results.

Look at how bright those ad units from 2001 are.

Since then ad labeling has grown less intuitive while ad size has increased dramatically.

Traffic Mix Shift

As publishers have been crowded out on commercial searches via larger ads & Google’s vertical search properties a greater share of their overall search traffic is lower value visitors including people who have little to no commercial intent, people from emerging markets with lower disposable income and

Falling Ad Rates

Since 2010 online display ad rates have fallen about 40%.

Any individual publisher will experience those declines in a series of non-linear step function shifts. Any of the following could happen:

Google Panda or another algorithm update from a different attention merchant hits your distribution hard
a Softbank-backed competitor jumps into your market and gains a ton of press coverage using flammable money
a roll-up player buys out a series of sites in the supply chain & then tries to make the numbers back out by cramming down on ad syndication partners (sometimes you have to gain enough scale to create your own network or keep rotating through ad networks to keep them honest)
regulatory costs hit any part of the supply chain (the California parallel to GDPR just went live this month)
consumer interest shifts to other markets or solutions (the mobile phone has replaced many gadgets)
a recession causes broad-based advertiser pullbacks

Margin Eaters

In addition to lowering ad rates for peripheral websites, there are a couple other bonus margin eaters.

Junk Sunk Costs

Monopoly platforms push publishers to adopt proprietary closed code bases in order to maintain distribution: “the trade group says Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) format was foisted on news publishers with an implied threat — their websites wouldn’t show up in search results.”

Decreased Supply Chain Visibility

Technical overhead leading to programmatic middlemen eating a huge piece of the pie: “From every £1 spent by an advertiser, about half goes to a publisher, roughly 16p to advertising platforms, 11p to other technology companies and 7 per cent to agencies. Adtech companies that took part in the study included Google’s dv360 and Ad Manager, Amazon Advertising and the Rubicon Project.”

Selection Effect

Large attention merchants control conversion tracking systems and displace organic distribution for brands by re-routing demand through a layer of ads which allows the central network to claim responsibility for conversions which would have already happened had they not existed.

Internal employees in the marketing department and external internet marketing consultants have an incentive to play along with this game because:

it requires low effort to arbitrage your own brand
at first glance it looks wildly profitable so long as you do not realize what is going on
those who get a percent of spend can use the phantom profits from arbitraging their own brand equity to spend more money elsewhere
those who get performance based bonuses get a bonus without having to perform

Both eBay and Microsoft published studies which showed how perverse selection effect is.

The selection effect bias is the inverse of customer acquisition cost. The more well known your brand is the more incentive ad networks have to arbitrage it & the more ad networks will try to take credit for any conversion which happens.

2) Why does CAC (mostly) only go up?

When you think about, CAC is “lowest” in the beginning, because you have no customers. You can get the low-hanging fruit cost effectively.

Think ad spend. Outbound sales spend. etc. First movers are ready to buy quickly.— Elizabeth Yin (@dunkhippo33) July 6, 2020

These margin eaters are a big part of the reason so many publishers are trying to desperately shift away from ad-based business models toward subscription revenues.

Hitting Every Layer

The commodification of content hits every layer from photography….

Networking is an art and a skill… but if the gold you hold are your images, don’t trade them for the passive networking value.

Simple lesson that is difficult to accept.— Send it. (@johnondotcom) July 4, 2020

…on through to writing

When you think about it, even $1000 is really inexpensive for a single piece of content that generates 20,000+ visits from search in the 1-3 years it’s alive and ranks well. That’s only about 1,000 visits a month. Yet companies only want to pay writers only $200 an article — Dan Shure (@dan_shure) July 6, 2020

…and every other layer of the editorial chain.

Profiting from content creation at scale is harder than most appreciate.

The idea that a $200 piece of content is particularly cheap comes across as ill-informed as there are many headwinds and many variables. The ability to monetize content depends on a ton of factors including: how commercial is it, how hard is it to monetize, what revshare do you go, how hard is it to rank or get distribution in front of other high intent audience sets?

If an article costs $200 it would be hard to make that back if it monetizes at anything under a $10 RPM. 20,000 visits equates to 20 units of RPM.

Some articles will not spread in spite of being high quality. Other articles take significant marketing spend to help them spread. Suddenly that $200 “successful” piece is closer to $500 when one averages in nonperformers that don’t spread & marketing expenses on ones that do. So then they either need the RPM to double or triple from there or the successful article needs to get at least 50,000 visits in order to break even.

A $10 RPM is quite high for many topics unless the ads are quite aggressively integrated into the content. The flip side of that is aggressive ad integration inhibits content spread & can cause algorithmic issues which prevent sustained rankings. Recall that in the most recent algorithm update Credit Karma saw some of their “money” credit card pages slide down the rankings due to aggressive monetization. And that happened to a big site which was purchased for over $7 billion. Smaller sites see greater levels of volatility. And nobody is investing $100,000s trying to break even many years down the road. If they were only trying to break even they’d buy bonds and ignore the concept of actively running a business of any sort.

Back in 2018 AdStage analyzed the Google display network and found the following: “In Q1 2018, advertisers spent, on average, $2.80 per thousand impressions (CPM), and $0.75 per click (CPC). The average click-through rate (CTR) on the GDN was 0.35%.”

A web page which garnered 20,000 pageviews and had 3 ad units on each page would get a total of 210 ad clicks given a 0.35% ad CTR. At 75 cents per click that would generate $157.50.

Suddenly a “cheap” $200 article doesn’t look so cheap. What’s more is said business would also have other costs beyond the writing. They have to pay for project management, editorial review, hosting, ad partnerships & biz dev, etc. etc. etc.

After all those other layers of overhead a $200 article would likely need to get about 50,000 pageviews to back out. And a $1,000 piece of content might need to get a quarter million or more pageviews to back out.

Categories: publishing & media

Read More

The Unique SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links

The Unique SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links

We keep hearing that content is king. Write great content, content here, content there. But how true is that statement? Is there such a thing as an SEO Content Strategy that you can use to rank #1 with zero backlinks?

 

 

Like most answers in SEO, this one is also ‘it depends’.

 

Keep reading and I’ll explain exactly why.

 

While you might not be able to get to position one without any backlinks for a highly competitive keyword, you’ll definitely be able to increase your rankings in Google just by optimizing your content and having in place a great SEO content strategy. 

 

By the end of this blog post, you’ll have a better understanding of how Google treats links and content and you’ll get the SEO Content Strategy that might help rank #1 on Google with zero backlinks.

 

Can I Really Rank #1 with Zero Links?
Why Is Google Pushing More Weight to the Content Ranking Factor?
Step-by-step SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links

Identify Your Primary Audience and Their Pain Points
Perform an In-depth Keyword Research & Audit
Make a List of the Keywords You Can Realistically Dominate
Analyze the Search Intent of Your Keywords
Optimize Landing Pages / Per Keyword & Per Search Intent
Write Content That Stands Out and Is Share Worthy
Launch & Share Your Content with Key Influencers
Monitor How Your Content Is Performing
Update Your Content Once in a While

Conclusion

 
1. Can I Really Rank #1 with Zero Links?

Not long ago we performed a lot of searches for pharma, gambling and skincare keywords, in a nutshell on highly competitive keywords and niches. 

 

Our bet was to figure out if there are pages within these niches ranking based on high quality content only. 

 

As you can see in the screenshot below taken from cognitiveSEO’s Content Optimizer, you can see that there are many pages with no or just a few links but highly optimized content, that rank really well. 

 

Of course, we cannot answer to this question with a simple yes or no, yet, with Google giving so much weight to content lately, we might say that a good SEO content strategy can help you out big time.

 

Of course, it depends based on what you mean by rankings and it depends on what you mean by links.

 

For example, someone might claim they rank without any links, but what are they ranking for?

 

Are they ranking for a high competition, high search volume keyword, or a long tail, low competition and low search volume one?

 

Some time ago, Steven Kang started a contest in the SEO Signals Facebook Group, with a prize pool of $1000, to whoever could find or pinpoint a website that ranked #1 on Google with no backlinks.

 

 

However, the rules for this contest were very specific:

 

There can be no external backlinks present. Any single external backlink to the domain discovered will disqualify the site.
The site can have internal links since some claim internal linking shouldn’t count for such claim.
The site must be written in English.

 

One year after, the contest is still available. Nobody has won it yet.

 

 

By the looks of it… it seems that it’s difficult to rank on Google without backlinks.

 

However, in one case a website was eliminated and it had backlinks only from Social Media platforms such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.

 

 

While those are indeed backlinks, almost every website has them and they don’t pass as much value as a contextual link from a high quality, relevant website.

 

Other contestants have said that the contest is not fair, as they did not buy or build the links, but they simply came naturally, just as Google wants.

 

However… they’re still links, aren’t they?

 

The contest therefore excludes all links, not only purchased, built or bought ones. Considering this, Social Media is also excluded and probably any other form of online promotion.

 

So when it comes to ranking with zero links… Are you talking about links to that specific web page, or links to the entire domain?

 

Are you talking about a made-up keyword with no search volume whatsoever, or about a profitable, competitive, highly searched for keyword with a great market value?

 

If you’re trying to rank for a very competitive keyword, where the top-ranking domains have thousands of backlinks pointing to them… tough luck!

 

The truth is that beside a solid SEO content strategy, links still matter and if your competition is building, buying or obtaining backlinks naturally, you’ll have a difficult time ranking #1 with zero backlinks.

 

But if the competition doesn’t have many backlinks either, it is possible to outrank them, even without links, in some cases.

 

There are many examples of websites which outrank their competition with fewer backlinks.

 

For example, we’re outranking Moz for the keyword “does meta description affect seo” although we only have 23 referring domains, while Moz’s page has over 1500.

 

For another similar phrase, “does meta description matter”, another website is ranking very well, with only 1 referring domain.

 

However, in both cases the results are an answer box. If you remember, some time ago you could have the answer box position and another spot. 

 

Luckily, when Google changed this and only let you keep one or the other, they let us have the answer box.

 

 

These are pretty specific keywords and for the most competitive phrase, “meta description”, Moz still dominates the top spot.

 

Ranking with just a few backlinks to a web page is possible, if you have the right content.

 

But it’s probably necessary to have at least some backlinks pointing to your domain.

 

The internet doesn’t really work well without links. Search engines use links to crawl the entire web.

 

It’s also true that without any backlinks pointing to your domain, Google will have a hard time crawling and indexing your site.

 

However, keep in mind that backlinks on their own won’t do very much if the content doesn’t satisfy the users. They can even do harm.

 

After the Penguin updates, it was pretty clear Google was set to fight back against link spam.

 

Maybe the top spot isn’t achievable with absolutely zero links, but you don’t need the top spot to increase your search traffic.

 

You can greatly improve rankings in Google simply by optimizing your content even for competitive, high search volume keywords.

 

Many other SEOs and content marketers have improved their rankings following this OnPage SEO technique.

 

If you stick around, I’ll show you exactly how you can do it, too.

 

But first, let’s see why Google is pushing away from backlinks and more towards content.

 
2. Why Is Google Pushing More Weight to the Content Ranking Factor?

 

Back in 2017, during our numerous tests, we found a big correlation between the Content Performance score we had developed and rankings.

 

We repeated the test after 2 years, in 2019 and it seemed that content is even more important now.

The algorithm we use is complex, using a mix of AI technologies and things such as LSI and Flesch–Kincaid to determine what makes a piece of content rank high.

Attempts to remove backlinks from the algorithms have been made before.

 

Why? Mostly because of spam. As long as backlinks are a ranking signal, people will try to abuse them.

 

In 2013, Yandex, the Russian search engine, removed backlinks from their algorithm in an attempt to stop link spam.

 

Although it only took effect in the Moscow local search results and only for commercial queries, the change was short lived, as they brought links back only a year after.

 

Officials at Yandex stated that the change was “quite successful technologically”, but people still bought links and spammed the web regardless, so they decided to bring them back.

 

However, they brought them back with a substantial change: The links would not only be a positive ranking signal, but also a negative one, just like with Google’s Penguin update.

 

Could it be that the officials at Yandex are not willing to admit their failure? Maybe, who knows.

 

But if it was a success, couldn’t they just use spammy links as a negative signal only? Without using other links as a positive one?

 

Google has also tested rankings without backlinks in their algorithm.

 

 

However, they came to the conclusion that the results look much better when backlinks are a ranking signal.

 

Unfortunately, there are other issues with backlinks other than buying them.

 

Take a look at Negative SEO, for example. Google claims they can spot and ignore these types of links with Penguin 4.0, but is it really possible?

 

I’m not convinced. I’ve seen many cases in which websites have a drop in traffic immediately after an unnatural spike in backlinks clearly built by others.

 

You’d think that people engaging in Negative SEO will try to mimic link building… but that might also result in positive results for the target.

 

So, these attacks are usually very obvious. Pure spam. And Google still penalized the site.

 

So, it’s obvious they have a hard time dealing with all this link trading and spam.

 

This, combined with the constant effort from SEOs to obtain backlinks in unnatural ways, has pushed Google into wanting to back away from backlinks.

 

Backlinks are something you don’t have much control over. Yet, an SEO content strategy you can control.

 

With algorithm updates such as Penguin (which penalizes spammy links) and Panda (which penalizes spammy content), Google shows us it’s putting more weight on content.

 

 

But although search engines don’t like them, it seems like links are still going to stick around for a while, as Matt Cutts states in the video above.

 

However, with AI software that can also write content like humans getting better and better every day…

 

It’s hard to tell where this will go.

 

We might have the same issue as with links, with AI written websites constantly trying to compete to the top.

 

It would be a battle of the algorithms… one in which users won’t have a say.

 

We could bring the law into the equation, but that would spark a whole new lot of bigger and more complex issues.

 

However, I could see how in the future, the law would require you to specify that the content is written by a robot and not by a human.

 

While AI written content can be used for good, it can also be used for harm, from the relatively harmless blackhat SEOs to the highly harmful fake news outlets.

 

 

We’ve known for a long time that content was an important ranking factor, but now we also wanted to know why.

 

Google was moving away from backlinks (our tool and marketing strategy was mostly built around backlinks) so investing in this was in our own interest.

 

So let’s take a look at how exactly you can improve your rankings in Google without any link building, only by optimizing your content.

 
3. The Step-by-Step SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with No Links

 

OK. Now you know that it’s possible to rank without links in some situations and also why Google puts more and more weight on the content side of SEO.

 

You also know that backlinks are something you don’t have complete control over.

 

But how exactly do you rank without links? What step-by-step SEO content strategy can you apply to succeed?

 

Here are the steps you need to follow to have a chance on ranking without links.

 
3.1. Identify your Primary Audience and Their Pain Points

 

The first think you should do before writing anything is identifying your target audience.

 

You can start with what’s top of mind and build from there.

 

Who would be interested in your content and how can you make your content appeal to them?

 

Who are your clients? How old are they? Who are their friends? Where do they hang? How do they talk?

 

It’s easier to do this when you already have some clients or readers. Just look at your best clients and readers so far.

 

Who’s buying from you? Who’s reviewing on products? Who’s commenting on your blog and social media profiles?

 

If you’re just starting out and have no idea… then consider doing a market research.

 

I know it sounds complex, but you can start by simply creating a Google Form and sharing it on a couple of Facebook Groups, asking for help.

 

Sure, it’s not much, but it’s better than nothing.

 

 

Don’t focus on features with your product but on benefits. Don’t think in terms of needs but in terms of wants. Want is stronger than need.

 

And don’t seek answers from your research but feelings and emotions which you can then use to convince them to buy.

 

That’s what you want to ultimately address and that’s what will get you sales / engagement.

 

This step is probably more useful for products and commercial keywords and less for informational queries.

 

However, you can still address things such as the tone of voice for your audience.

 

You can also try to create a persona of your ideal customer / reader and try to write as if you were speaking directly to that person.

 
3.2. Perform an In-depth Keyword Research & Audit

 

The really important step when trying to optimize content is always keyword research.

 

What are you targeting now?

 

You can use the Google Search Console to easily determine the keyword you’re already ranking for.

 

 

Can you improve this existing content? Or should you target new keywords? These are questions you should ask yourself when putting together your SEO content strategy. 

 

You can also use the CognitiveSEO Keyword Explorer to identify new topics you can target.

 

 

Once you’re done, map out these keywords into an excel file and sort them out by relevance and importance.

 
3.3. Make a List of the Keywords You Can Realistically Dominate

 

Now comes the more difficult part.

 

For which of those keywords can you realistically rank better?

 

After you’ve determined a list of keywords you’ll go after, you have to take a look at two things:

 

Content Performance and Domain Performance.

 

You can use the Ranking Analysis section of the Content Optimizer Tool.

 

 

While the Content Performance is something that we have control over and will improve in a future step, backlinks aren’t something we have that much control over.

 

So you want to see websites with as few referring domains as possible compared to your site (which you can check with the Site Explorer).

 

Of course, if you see a lower content score and/or word count, those are also good indicators that it will be easier to improve your content.

 
3.4. Analyze the Search Intent of Your Keywords

 

Search intent and user experience are very important. It’s the key metric in 2020 and onward.

 

If you don’t match the search intent well, users will have a bad experience on your website.

 

One of the best examples of search intent is transactional vs. informational.

 

Given the keyword “men’s running shoes”, eCommerce websites will tend to rank better.

 

However, for a keyword such as “best running shoes for men”, reviews and buyer’s guides will tend to rank better.

 

People are simply looking for different types of content on each of those keywords.

 

What you ultimately want to figure out is what your user is looking for when searching for a particular query and accessing your website.

 

For this blog post I know that there are two possible intents that are very closely related to one another: “can you rank with zero backlinks” & “how to do it”. My article simply appeals to those needs.

 

Knowing my audience in general, I know that I want to provide proof for the first group, and step-by-step tutorials for the second.

 

A good way of analyzing search intent is to look at what’s already ranking well.

 

You know they’re already doing something well, since they’re ranking.

 

If you can spot some gaps you can fill, such as questions asked in the comments that remain unanswered in the content itself, that’s even better.

 

Did you know?

 

The Content Optimizer & Keyword Tool from cognitiveSEO automatically classifies the search intent for you. 

You just need to type in the keyword you are interested in optimizing for, and the tool does most of the job for you. The tool performs keyword research, it will tell you what is the user search intent, how popular is that keyword, how difficult it is to rank on it, and cream of the crop: what it takes to rank on that keyword, meaning, what are the exact keywords and links that boosted that page in the top of the search results. 

 

 
3.5. Optimize Landing Pages / Per Keyword & Per Search Intent

 

On with the actual optimization. Don’t worry, it’s probably the easiest step.

 

First, consider that it’s always best to optimize for a single main keyword and a single search intent per page.

 

You can sometimes combine very similar keywords, but try as much as possible to stick to the same search intent.

 

Remember, if the search engine results are similar for these keywords, they probably have a similar search intent as well.

 

You should keep in mind that writing naturally is the best way to go.

 

Open the Content Assistant section and hit Start Optimizing.

 

It’s easier to work on something you’ve already written, but you can also start from scratch. However, you’ll have to write at least a title for the tool to work.

 

You can also import a URL if your content is already live.

 

Then, just click Check Score, the tool will analyze your content, tell you the score and recommend you some keyword ideas.

 

 

The idea is to add those keywords into your blog post. However, don’t just throw them in, or else you’ll end up with a Keyword Stuffing warning.

 

The keywords with dots on their left are the most important ones. You should be using them multiple times throughout your content.

 

The idea is to think of these keywords as subtopics or areas of interest that you should cover in your content.

 

If a keyword that the tool recommends doesn’t seem to fit or has grammar mistakes in it, don’t force it in.

 

You don’t need a 100% score. The tool will pinpoint how much you need to reach.

 

However, you can also try doing it in phases. First, optimize for a few points above the average, then update your content after a few weeks to the recommended score.

 
3.6. Write Content That Stands Out and Is Share Worthy

 

A great way to do this is to write content about complex questions that are very often asked in your industry, or case studies.

 

For example, this article about meta descriptions affect SEO or not has been linked to multiple times by other SEO blogs trying to make a quick point without getting into too much detail.

 

Also, make sure you have great Titles, Headlines and Descriptions.

 

Optimize your titles with keywords for SEO, but also keep them catchy for Social Media.

 

You can use the Open Graph property to set different titles for SEO and Social Media

 

Long content tends to perform better in organic search results.

 

When people search for something, you already know they are interested in it. That’s why SEM has such a high conversion rate and people spend time reading in depth articles.

 

You can look at the top ranking search results for your keyword in the Ranking Analysis section of our Content Optimizer Tool.

 

 

For this particular keyword, you can see that the top ranking content is between 2500 and 5000 words on average, although we can even see articles with only 1800 words in top 10.

 

Usually, it’s a good idea to go for at least the top 10 average plus a few hundred words, just to be sure. But it’s not really about quantity, it’s about quality.

 

However, you’ll probably not be able to fit all the depth required for this particular topic in just 200 words, at least compared to the competitors.

 

Nevertheless, take this content length thing with a grain of salt. While long form content performs better in search, shorter content might perform better on social media.

 

On Social Media, people are browsing different things and not really looking for a particular topic, so they might prefer things straight and to the point.

 
3.7. Launch & Share Your Content with Key Influencers

 

Once you’ve written and published your content, it’s time to promote it. This should be an important part of your SEO content strategy.

 

We made a study a few years ago on weather social signals influence rankings and it seems that a strong presence on social networks is correlated with better rankings.

 

 

Once you have your content live, it’s time to share it with the appropriate influencers.

 

Who are these influencers? Well, people who have a following which matches your target audience.

 

If they don’t hear about your content… they can’t share it or talk about it.

 

It’s also a good idea that the influencers themselves are interested or resonate in the topic and the way you present it.

 

One of the even more advanced SEO strategies is to plan your content ahead.

 

And by this I don’t mean having an editorial calendar, but actually targeting influencers beforehand, analyzing them and writing something that you already know they will be willing to share.

 

You’ll have to be persuasive and it’s also a good idea to build trust with them beforehand, by sharing their content and commenting on it or engaging with them.

 

I know it sounds evil and manipulative and you can be if your sole interest is only to get what you want, but being genuine and truly offering value in exchange usually works best.

 

I can recall the easiest response I have ever got. It was from a person named Reiner, which reminded me of a character in the anime show Attack on Titan.

 

 

Luckily, he did see the anime, so we how now had a personal connection and he was willing to give me a hand.

 

 

Another easy-to-implement technique is to ask for quotes from experts in your industry or take interviews.

 

Two examples are my article about SEO mistakes and my colleague Andreea’s article about SEO tips from 22 experts.

 

While we offered a lot of value, it’s true that we also used the guests’ reputation to leverage our content’s reach.

 

Of course, it’s not guaranteed to work, but most of them will gladly share the content on their social profiles or blogs.

 

To find influencers, you can use a tool such as Brand Mentions.

 

You can spy on your competitors and see which influencers have mentioned their content.

 

 

Then, engage with them and try to build relationships.

 
3.8. Monitor How Your Content Is Performing

 

You should make sure you’re able to track your progress if you want to know how successful your modifications were.

 

The Google Search Console is a great way of monitoring organic search traffic and positions.

 

However, the data there might sometimes be a little confusing and hard to filter.

 

You might also be interested in a third party tool, such as our Rank Tracker.

 

 

Moreover, not all traffic comes from Google, so you might also want a tool such as Google Analytics to monitor other traffic sources.

 

You can also try a tool such as Brand Mentions to monitor mentions about your brand and content on Social Media and the internet.

 

To precisely monitor the effectiveness of this OnPage SEO technique, make sure you don’t make any other major changes to the website.

 
3.9. Update Your Content Once in a While

 

Google loves fresh content. That’s why updating it from time to time should be part of your SEO content strategy.

 

Our method works really well for old content as well, so don’t just focus on new content.

 

We’ve improved many of our old blog posts using the Content Optimizer Tool.

 

In fact, we did it on a mass scale, with pretty good results.

 

Although some of the articles did lose a couple of rankings instead of gaining them, the overall process was a success, both in terms of rankings and traffic.

 

 

One of the articles we’ve constantly updated over the time is our Google Easter Eggs article, which is one of our top performing piece of content, although not directly related to SEO. 

 

It’s a good idea to check the content’s score from time to time to see if it’s still in good shape.

 

The Content Performance score is relative. This means that as other articles improve, your score might drop over time.

 

However, even if the score is still really good, don’t try to trick Google by simply changing the date to make your content look fresh.

 

It’s best if you actually review the content and make a few improvements / modifications.

 
Conclusion

 

To get high ranks, the focus shouldn’t be on backlinks, but on a solid SEO content strategy. Get your content under the right people’s eyes, and you’ll see the links pouring in.

 

Applying this SEO content strategy can help you easily rank without going through the hassle of obtaining links. Attack the content creation and promotion from the right angle and backlinks will come naturally.

 

The truth is, you don’t need backlinks for every article. You just need a handful of articles that bring in the links to grow the authority of your domain.

 

Then you can use those links to pass that authority to all your articles, making it easier to rank everywhere.

 

So, let us know in the comments section below: Do you consider it’s possible to rank a page without any backlinks? Have you every managed to rank one on a decent search volume keyword? Do you know any content marketers at all able to rank websites on Google without backlinks? What other marketing strategy have you used to rank your content except building links?

 

The post The Unique SEO Content Strategy to Rank #1 with Zero Links appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Read More

How to Build Links Using Google Alerts

How to Build Links Using Google Alerts

Link building is hard. But did you know that Google makes it easier for you?

Seriously… they do make it easier because they provide you with free tools.

No, I’m not talking about the ones you already use like Google Search Console and Google Analytics

They actually have tons of other tools. Some you may have heard of, but I bet you don’t use them.

And today I am going to show you how you can build links using Google Alerts.

What is Google Alerts?

As the saying goes, if it isn’t on Google, it doesn’t exist.

Google is the most popular search engine in the world. Their database contains hundreds of billions of web pages and is over 100,000,000 gigabytes in size.

Because of their massive size, they are able to crawl web pages more frequently than any SEO tool including my own, Ubersuggest. This is precisely why you want to start using Google Alerts to build links.

So, what is Google Alerts?

As I mentioned above, they have a bigger database of web pages than any other link building or SEO tool. So, you’ll want to use their database to find easy link opportunities and ideally without wasting time digging through billions or even thousands of web pages.

Google Alerts allows you to create notifications on any subject, topic, or keyword.

So, when a new web page talks about anything that could be an easy link opportunity, you’ll get notified in an email.

Just like this one…

So, let’s set it all up step by step so you can get some backlinks.

How to set up Google Alerts

First, I want you to go here.

You’ll see a screen that looks like this (make sure you sign in at the top right).

I want you to type in your domain name without the www or the https part.

In my case, I would type in: neilpatel.com

You may see an alert preview like the one above, but if you have a newer site you probably won’t see any results, which is fine.

Then I want you to click on the “Show Options” link next to the “Create Alert” button.

Your settings should match mine:

How often – at most once a daySources – Blogs, Web (select those 2 options, you don’t want news as an option as it tends to create more irrelevant results and we’ve found that it is harder to get news sites to link back to you)Language – English (or the language you are targeting)Region – any region (or you can select the country you are targeting although I recommend picking “any region”)How many – all resultsDeliver to – should be your email.

And then click “Create Alert.”

Up to once a day, you’ll get an email with a list of pages that mentions your website or domain.

I want you to repeat the process and create an alert for the following items:

Your domain – you should have just done this.Brand name – in my case I would create an alert for “Neil Patel.”Product names – if you are selling any services or products you can create an alert around that. In my case, I would create an alert for “Ubersuggest.”Industry terms – create alerts for anything related to your industry. When people are talking about your space, it is an easy link opportunity. In my case, I would create alerts for the terms: digital marketing, online marketing, and SEO.Your email address – create an alert anytime someone gives out your email. Again, another easy link opportunity.

Here’s what mine looks like:

You’ll also notice for all of my two-word phrases I have quotation marks around them.

For example, I would not create an alert for: Neil Patel

But, I would create an alert for: “Neil Patel”

The reason being is that alerts for two-word phrases without quotes aren’t as relevant. For example, here are some alerts from the term: online marketing.

When I use quotes, here are the results.

See the difference?

Getting links

Now that you have alerts set up, it is time to get links.

Keep in mind that when you get an alert email, someone could have already linked to you. So, not every alert will be a link building opportunity, but many will be.

Typically, more than half will be opportunities.

Depending on the alert type, some will be easier than others. So, let’s go over how to convert each opportunity into a link.

Your domain

You’ll find that a good portion of the mentions of your domain will contain a link back to your site.

For those, you don’t have to do anything as you’ve already got a link. 🙂

For the ones that aren’t linking to you, I want you to send the following email to the webmaster…

Subject: Did you make a mistake?

Hey [insert first name],

First off, I just wanted to say thanks for mentioning [insert your domain] in this article [insert a link to the URL that mentions your domain].

I know you are busy so I will just cut to the chase.

Would you mind hotlinking my domain to my website? I know it doesn’t seem like a big deal, but that extra traffic really helps small companies like mine.

Cheers,

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

Brand name

When it comes to brand names, it is a 50/50 shot. Roughly half the people will link to you when they mention your brand and the other half won’t.

For the ones that didn’t, send them this email:

Subject: You forgot to do this

Hey [insert first name],

I’m flattered.

Thank you for mentioning [insert your brand name] in your article on [insert the title of their article].

[insert the URL of their article]

You really made my day with that.

Again, thank you!

I feel bad doing this because you already mentioned us, but it would mean the world to me if you also linked our name to our site.

Would you mind doing that?

Sorry to bug you.

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

Product names

With product names, usually 70% to 80% of the websites will be linking back to you and the rest not. For the ones that don’t, send them an email similar to this:

Subject: Did you mean to do this?

Hey [insert their first name],

I just wanted to take a minute to tell you how much I appreciate that you mentioned [insert your brand name] here [insert the URL of the webpage that mentions your product].

Seriously, thank you!

Now, I feel bad doing this, but would you mind hotlinking [insert your product name] to this page on our website where people can find the product [insert the URL on your site that covers the product]?

Sorry to bug you.

And again, thank you for mentioning us. It really means a lot.

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

Your email address

Now this one is rare as most people won’t be publishing your email address.

And when they do, they usually aren’t linking to you.

If you try to get them to link the email address, you will find it hard. But what’s easier is to get them to remove your email address and link to your contact page instead.

Here’s the email template I use for this.

Subject: Privacy issue

Hey [insert their first name],

I noticed you mentioned our email address, [insert your email address], on this page [insert the page they mentioned your email on].

Would you mind mentioning and linking to our contact page instead [insert your contact page URL]?

For privacy reasons, I would rather have people get in touch with us through that page instead of our email.

Thanks for your time.

[insert your name]

You also notice that in this template I didn’t include the PS at the bottom. The PS typically helps boost your success ratio, but when it comes to this email, you want to be a bit more firm as it is related to your privacy.

You ideally want the link and fewer people sharing your email because then you’ll have to deal with a ton of spam messages.

Industry terms

In almost all cases, alerts that contain industry terms won’t be linking to you. And this group will also be the largest number of results you get with each alert email.

You’ll have to go through each alert and look at the context of the web page.

If they are talking about something that you have already covered on your website and did more in-depth than they have, there is a good chance you can convince them to link to you.

For example, if there is an article about SEO and they mention how you need to build links, but they don’t go into how to build links, I would email the site owner pointing to this article as it breaks down how to build links.

Here is the type of email I would send:

Subject: Some feedback for you

Hey [insert their first name],

Love your article on [insert the topic of their article] [insert the URL of their article].

I just have one piece of feedback for you (hope you don’t get offended), but you mention [insert the subject they mention that you go more in-depth on within your own site], but you didn’t go too in-depth on it.

I think if you adjusted that it would provide a lot more value to your readers.

Or if you don’t have the time to, I already have an article on it here [insert the URL on your site where you go in-depth on that topic] that you could just link to.

Let me know your thoughts.

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

How do I get in touch?

Now that you know what kind of emails to send depending on the alert you receive, you’ll have to, of course, get in touch with the site owner.

So how do you find their email address?

Well, the simplest way is to go to their contact page and see if their email is there or if they have a contact form.

You can also check out their terms of service or privacy policy.

Another option is to use tools like Hunter. Just type in a domain name into Hunter and you’ll see a list of people you can contact.

Their free plan allows 50 requests per month, which should be enough to get you started.

Conclusion

Google Alerts is an easy way to build links so I would start with that.

What’s beautiful about it is that you’ll get notified of opportunities. This will save you a lot of time.

And if you find yourself with a bit of extra time, I recommend one more strategy to build links.

Go here and put in your competition’s URL.

Once you hit “search” you’ll see a report that looks something like this:

These are all of the websites linking to your competition. What’s interesting about this list is that it is sorted.

The results at the top have more authority, in which they typically boost SEO rankings more than the ones at the bottom of the list.

You’ll want to go through the list, click on each site, and see if it makes sense to reach out to that website and ask them to link to you.

Typically, if you have similar content to your competition that is more thorough, it’s possible to convince someone to link to you. You’ll have to send them emails like the one below…

Hey [insert their first name],

Question for you…

How do you think it makes you look to your readers when you link to another site that doesn’t really help them?

It kind of makes you look bad and maybe even lose a little bit of trust with your readers, right?

In this article [insert the URL on their site], you link out to [insert the competition’s URL].

The article you are linking to doesn’t cover [insert the areas the competition missed].

I actually have an article [insert your article URL] that covers [insert what you cover that the competition doesn’t and why it benefits readers more].

If you aren’t interested in linking to us no worries. I just know that you care about your readers and you want to do the best for them.

Cheers,

[insert your name]

PS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

If you follow the steps above, you’ll start building links.

It isn’t that hard and you can do it. You just have to be willing to put in the time and not get discouraged if you send out a handful of emails and no one links back to you.

Just think of your email as a sales pitch and it may not be perfect the first time… so you may have to modify and adjust it.

If you have any questions on the steps or are confused about anything, just leave a comment below.

The post How to Build Links Using Google Alerts appeared first on Neil Patel.

Read More

Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign

Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign

30-second summary:

Podcasting can add a new dimension to your brand and content marketing strategy.
There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 
Georgi Todorov shares a comprehensive guide on podcast content which encompasses the benefits, SEO perks, types of podcast content, publishing and marketing platforms, and a lot more!

If you have a content marketing strategy already in place, you’re no stranger to the fundamental principles that guide it. Your goal is to naturally attract more readers, fans, and followers by providing them with information and/or entertainment they want to consume. There are many ways you can approach this, utilizing different mediums, channels, and distribution methods to accomplish this, but many content marketers stick to the basics, almost exclusively focusing on written content. 

If you want to stand out from the crowd, reach new audiences, and capitalize on a medium with enormous momentum, you should consider starting your own podcast. But how can you integrate podcasting with the rest of your content marketing campaign? 

Why podcasts?

First, let’s talk about why podcasts are so valuable in the context of content marketing. A podcast is a series of pieces of audio content, usually released regularly in the form of episodes. These episodes vary in length and format, with some primarily unfolding as interviews and others attempting to provide an entire narrative experience.

Five big benefits of podcasting

In any case, there are several benefits to using podcasts: 

1. Current popularity

Podcasts have become incredibly popular in the past several years. There are currently more than a million podcasts, with 30 million episodes between them, and more than half of all households are podcast listeners. Podcasts still seem to be on a fast growth trajectory, as more people discover and become immersed in the medium. 

2. Ease of entry

Podcasts are also valuable because of how easy they are to create. Make no mistake, you’ll still need to put the effort in, just as you would with any kind of content. However, you can get started with a relatively inexpensive assortment of equipment, and you don’t need any special training in audio engineering to make an episode that sounds good. 

3. Cross-medium potential

Podcasts are also a gateway to produce multiple forms of content simultaneously. For example, you could record video of an interview you conducted with an industry leader, then release it as a video, a podcast, and as a blog (with a written transcript), capitalizing on the content in three ways. 

4. Collaborative potential

The interactive audio experience lends itself well to collaboration, you can benefit by going on other podcasts, and other industry experts can benefit from attending yours. This cross-pollination effect allows you to spread your influence more easily, while also getting help creating new content. 

5. New audience segments

Some people who prefer listening to podcasts may never discover your work unless you break them in with audio content. In any case, you’ll be able to reach new segments and existing segments in new ways, broadening your audience. 

Podcasting as a new content marketing channel

With those benefits in mind, the best way to think about podcasting in content marketing is to think of it as a new content marketing channel. Content marketing always has the same overarching goal. You want to give people content they want. This could mean providing them with answers to their questions (which is especially important if you’re optimizing for search engines), or merely entertaining them. 

Take ASAP Science as an example. The popular Youtube channel has racked up over 9.3 million subscribers since launching over seven years ago. About two years ago, they launched a podcast called Sidenote to supplement their popular video content.

Each content marketing channel represents some way for consumers to find your content and consume it. For example, there’s blogging, email marketing, social media marketing, and videocasting – in some ways, podcasting is just another lead generation channel to add to your repertoire

As with the addition of other channels, the best way to harness the power of podcasting is by treating each channel as a complementary unit in a broader whole. For example, you’ll use your email newsletter to showcase your best blogs, and you’ll call for email newsletter signups in the body of your blog posts. This allows channel-specific consumers to discover your other mediums and helps keep your brand top-of-mind in many areas. 

If you decide to podcast, you’ll need to take advantage of this, leveraging your existing channels to push your podcast and using your podcast to deliver listeners to other channels. 

This is what Neil Patel and Eric Siu did to launch their four-year-old podcast, Marketing School. Both are well-recognized experts in the field of online marketing, and they leveraged their existing content channels, including their blogs and email lists, to launch Marketing School, which now enjoys over 1 million downloads per month. 

Podcasts and SEO

Podcasting also requires attention to search engine optimization (SEO) in two main ways. First, if utilized properly, podcasting can boost the search engine visibility of your main site. 

You can list and distribute your new podcast episodes as individual pages of your site, much like a blog, and if you provide adequate titles, meta information, and episode transcripts, you’ll easily have a new way to optimize for specific keyword phrases. Each new podcast episode will also be a piece of content that can be discovered in search engines. This is the approach Shane Barker takes with his podcast, Marketing Growth Podcast.

Over time, as your podcast becomes more popular, it will attract more citations and other types of links. This is vital for improving your domain authority, which in turn will make it easier for your site to rank. If you’re interested in building a separate domain, you can do that too, using your podcast as an engine of exclusive support. 

There’s another way to think about SEO, however. Podcasts are an avenue to grow the authority and visibility of your main site—but you also need to think about promoting the podcast’s authority and visibility. Most people discover podcasts by browsing podcast distribution networks and conducting searches for topics that interest them. Accordingly, you’ll need to optimize for these podcast-specific search engines. 

The process for optimizing a podcast for podcast networks is very similar to website-specific SEO, you’ll need to optimize for specific keywords and improve your reputation. Take, for example, the aptly-named podcast The Fantasy Footballers, who rank very well in search results for their niche, “fantasy football.” 

In addition to your podcast’s name, you’ll need to collect as many ratings and reviews as possible, which means calling listeners to action each episode and ensuring you provide them with high-quality material. 

The saturation dilemma: Finding a unique angle

The 30 million podcast episodes currently in circulation are a sign of podcasts’ popularity, but this is both a good thing and a bad thing. It’s a good sign that you’re onto a hot channel, but it also means you’re facing a ton of competition. The podcast market is, in some ways, saturated, and if you want to succeed, you’ll need some way to stand out. 

Four ways your podcast can be unique in some way
1. A new topic

You could introduce an entirely new topic to the podcast world — something no one has covered before. Given the length of time podcasting has been around and the sheer number of people trying to do this, finding a truly unique topic may be exceedingly difficult. 

2. A different format

You may also try to take an existing topic and cover it in a different format. Instead of short episodes, you could do deep, two or three hour dives. You could also try to produce bite-sized segments, five minutes in length, to capitalize on audiences with minimal free time. If most people in this space are doing interviews, you could create a narrative or vice versa. It all depends on your goals. 

3. Strong opinions

It’s also possible to differentiate your podcast by offering strong opinions on a given subject. It’s okay to be controversial, even if some people disagree with you, they’ll be inclined to voice their contradicting opinions, which will only bring more attention to your work. Just make sure you’re still being respectful in your expression of your opinions. 

4. A different tone

You can also consider introducing your topics with a different tone. For example, if people usually treat this topic overly seriously, you could give it a cheeky, tongue-in-cheek spin. 

However, you choose to be unique, make sure you’re also showcasing your authentic self. People listen to podcasts in part because they feel like they get to know the hosts; if you’re trying too hard to put on airs or if you try to use a personality that isn’t your own, you’re going to turn people away. 

The quality factor

It should go without saying that your podcast needs to be “good,” or people won’t listen to it. But what exactly is a “good” podcast? 

As with written content, there are some easily identifiable hallmarks of “good” work, but also some harder-to-place subjective qualities you’ll need to consider. Listen to a lot of podcasts to get a feel for what you like and don’t like. 

The most important quality to strive for is value; are you providing listeners with something they find valuable? Beyond that, you’ll need to think about the integrity of your recording; are your voices coming through loud and clear, with little to no background noise? 

Distribution and promotion

Much of your podcasting success will depend on your ability to distribute and promote your work. Let’s say your podcast is objectively the best podcast ever recorded, it’s funny, informative, and has something for everyone. That’s still no guarantee of success. If people aren’t able to find and listen to it, they’ll never even know what they’re missing out on. 

Accordingly, you’ll need to make additional efforts to improve its visibility. As we already covered, it’s important to optimize your podcast for search engines. It’s also important to distribute your podcast on as many podcast distribution networks as possible. Spotify is the biggest podcast platform currently, but Apple Podcasts is also a major player, and there are several smaller platforms to consider. It doesn’t take much effort to list your work in these channels, so you might as well do it. 

You’ll also want to publish new work on a consistent basis. Many podcasters strive for a weekly new episode or even a daily new episode, but the frequency isn’t nearly as important as the consistency. Consistency is what allows you to retain your existing audience and snowball new listeners into your fanbase. 

In addition to distributing your podcast on multiple platforms, you’ll want to promote your work so people can find it easily. Again, cross-promotion on your other content channels is ideal here, but if you want a quicker route to early momentum, consider paying for advertising. 

As your podcast begins to mature, you’ll want to spend extra effort nurturing your existing audience to encourage their loyalty (and hopefully get more referrals). Respond to comments on your podcast episodes when you can, thank your listeners regularly, and get involved on social media; you can even consider starting a Facebook Group or similar network for your fans. Here’s a guide with 101 tactics to promote your podcast.

A note on monetization

This guide assumes that you’re using podcasting as a way to market your brand or website overall. Accordingly, it’s a form of advertising on its own. However, it’s worth noting that if your podcast accumulates a significant enough listener base, you may be able to monetize it. 

Ads, sponsorships, and affiliate deals can all help you offset the costs of recording and establish a separate stream of revenue — but they may also turn some audience members away. 

Content marketing touchstones: Measurement and analysis 

As with other elements of your content marketing strategy, the only way to tell if your podcasting strategy is working is to measure and analyze your results. How many new listeners and subscribers are you getting? How many times is each episode downloaded? Is your podcast responsible for generating new traffic to your site? How many site visitors eventually download a podcast episode? 

Set up Google Analytics or your platform of choice to track these metrics, then experiment. Do people respond better to a certain type of episode that you release? Did your numbers drop off when you took a big risk? More importantly, what trends do you see emerging over time? 

Conclusion

Podcasting is a powerful complement to your existing content marketing efforts, and it can stand on its own as a path to revenue generation if you treat it right. But to be successful, you’ll need some way to distinguish yourself from your numerous competitors, a high emphasis on quality, and constant refinement with the help of measurement and analysis. 

It’s a complex and nuanced content marketing channel, but getting started is easier than most people think. Give it a try, and see if it can work for your brand.

Georgi Todorov is a digital marketing specialist at Green Park Content. He can be found on Twitter @GeorgiTodorovBG.  

The post Guide: How to use podcasting in your content marketing campaign appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Read More