Understanding Trust and Citation Flow

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Understanding Trust and Citation Flow

When it comes to looking for quality in websites, the very first thing that you would need to check is their content. The quality of your content affects numerous factors that will determine the amount of traffic, along searchability and the trustworthiness of the content. For the latter, Google’s E.A.T. allows the search engine to measure how effective and informative the content is.

Content quality is always crucial, as your goal is to create helpful content with accurate information that addresses the user’s needs, thus making it search-friendly. Tracking this data can take time and needs the right tools, but once you have them, searching for quality content and websites becomes a much easier process. Metric that helps gauge these factors are Trust and Citation Flows. These two metrics have become crucial in assessing link quality, which is a major indicator of the reputation of the website.

This set of metrics was introduced by Majestic, which is a company that offers one of the more popular and effective website checking tools around. Eventually, these metrics have become a crucial element in other SEO tools, such as Mangools, which is a part of their already versatile arsenal. Let’s take a look at Trust and Citation Flow and understand why it’s crucial when evaluating a website.

What is Trust Flow

Trust Flow

To put it simply, Trust Flow is the metric that gauges the trustworthiness of a website by taking a look at its overall quality. While it may sound straightforward as it is, there are many factors to consider when measuring it. One of the crucial factors is the number of authoritative links that you have within your website. This makes linking to quality websites even more crucial, as content marketing requires you to cite or mention a number of reputable websites, as they would help bring in link juice, allowing more web crawl opportunities from Google.

The trustworthiness of a website is something that takes a good amount of time to build through the creation of quality content. Producing a steady stream of weekly articles is a good thing but ensuring that these articles consistently remain in the highest quality should be your main goal. Examples of websites with good trust flow scores are news websites, as they provide up to date news that has been researched well, along with linking to well-informed sources.

While some people will say that link building would not be as important as it was during the past few years, I believe it is still a very crucial and important process. Building links allow us to now only gain traffic and connect to other websites, but it also builds up the quality and trust within our own website. Our team ensures that we only link to reputable websites, as this would benefit both parties, and possibly create long-term partnerships in the future.

All in all, having a good trust flow score means that you are linking only to quality websites and receive a steady stream of traffic. Like a good thesis or research paper in the academic world, having the best sources would prove to be the key ingredients to success.

What is Citation Flow

Citation Flow

Over the years, we have seen numerous websites that have become very influential with how we navigate or use the internet, such as Google and Facebook. These websites not only affect our internet experience but also possesses a certain impact to users overall. This means well-known websites are more likely to bring in more impact, which is what Citation Flow is. Citation Flow measures the popularity of the links within your website, making a more influential website. Unlike Trust Flow, Citation Flow does not take into account the quality of the backlinks but instead take a look at how popular the website is. This means that while they may gain high traffic, they may not contain trustworthy content. This can include pornographic or spammy content, both of which can negatively affect your traffic.

Looking into Trust and Citation Flow

Mangools Online Tools allow us to view Trust and Citation Flow, along with a host of other key data through their SiteProfiler tool. This allows you to see how Trust and Citation Flow are decided using factors such as organic traffic, the number of quality backlinks and referring domains. When it comes to content marketing and link building, this data is very important, as you would be able to determine the best places to connect with, along with finding the best sources for your content.

Building your digital brand is the main objective of digital marketing, and creating a website filled with rich quality content is the best way to keep the process going.

Key Takeaway

Trust and Citation Flow are two metrics that help give you a new perspective on looking into websites. These two metrics help show how impactful traffic and trustworthiness is allowing you to see how well your website is doing, while also be able to look for reputable sites to establish connections.

If you have questions and inquires about SEO, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

Understanding Trust and Citation Flow was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Creative Inspiration: Content We Enjoyed this Autumn

Autumn’s roundup focuses on making the mundane memorable. Whether it’s weather-watching, logging into a website, or scrolling endlessly through a long form, we are used to norms. Login forms are dull, grey boxes, a cursor is an arrow, and weather predictions are told with satellite images – it’s what we are used to. This roundup looks at how the ordinary has been reimagined with little touches that make you look twice.

UX reimagined

Charlie vs the worldDo the Green Thing

The cursor reimagined. This scrolling piece uses some very fitting visual imagery. Discussing the carbon footprint of a cocaine habit, a white line links one piece of content to the next. As you scroll you find out the carbon equivalent of various amounts of cocaine, which are astounding! 50g is the same as buying 56 new iPhones and throwing them in a river. My favourite touch here though is the cursor, which is a nose!

Animated Login AvatarDaris Senneff

Login fields reimagined. Darin Senneff has created an animated SVG login avatar. Login forms are so dull. The bane of my life, in fact! Anything that can make this less laborious should be considered if it does not throw up UX issues. Fewer fields, conversational intro text, colour, password managers, and in this case a little guy who seems to react when your details are entered. Smiling when you enter your email address, and comically covering his eyes so as not to peek when you enter your password.

Logo Eyes – Creative Boom

Logo reimagined. We have all seen logos animate, or become smaller and perhaps more simplified as you scroll down a page, but Creative Boom, have been more inventive. The ‘OO’ in the word ‘boom’ animate – turning into a set of eyes which move into the centre of the page, the eyes follow the cursor position as you scroll.

T-Rex Dinosaur gameGoogle Chrome

Offline mode reimagined. When Chrome fails it used to launch a little one button game (of which we are big fans at Distilled: Brexit bus game, Emergency stop game). In the game, you use the spacebar to jump, and the dinosaur dies when you come into contact with a cactus. The way the dinosaurs eyes bulge out here is my favourite part. I got to 560 points, and no, I haven’t spent the last half hour playing it…

Onsite content reimagined

About Us PageCornett

Identity reimagined. About pages can be hard, there are certainly some questionable ones out there. Not everyone likes having their photo taken, and unless you have a studio, it can be hard to maintain consistent backgrounds and lighting. But what is an about us page trying to show? That the people behind the company are human, smart, approachable, and someone you would want to collaborate with. We build relationships based on connections. Cornett’s about page is a square product montage of things that are important in those people’s lives – showing their passions, fashions, and identities, not through a photo of their face but with objects that mean something to them.

The Dangers of Storm SurgeThe Weather Channel

Weather predictions reimagined. It can be hard to imagine what changes in the weather will feel like, especially dramatic ones. We are used to seeing aerial satellite shots of swirling storms approaching – showing the direction, speed and perhaps to some extent the ferocity of a storm – but it doesn’t explain what it will feel like on the ground. The Weather Channel, used a virtual reality studio to do just that. Gigantic walls of water circling the presenters, showing just how high the water could come. This realism, I would hope, enticed people in risk areas to evacuate without hesitation.

Media reimagined

Sounds from the worldNY Times

Podcasts reimagined. This piece could easily have worked as a podcast; it is after all about sound. But there is something about sound paired with amazing photography that shapes a different experience that sound alone, or video (sound with moving image) could not create. The scrolling mechanism also allows time for pause and reflection, and like reading a book over watching a film, the lack of movement leaves some of the story to the imagination.

My favourite snippet from this piece is the noise that city rats make, they’ve even captured rat laugher! To do this, the frequency of sound that rats make had to be lowered to the human vocal range so we can hear it.

Money Reimagined

Notable WomenGoogle

Bank notes reimagined. Distilled created a piece on this theme, called Dead Men on Dollar Bills, which highlighted that 85% of the world’s banknotes have men on them.  We imagined how notes would look with inspirational female figures on, including Emmeline Pankhurst and J.K. Rowling. Google has taken this a step further making, 100 notes featuring women, along with the story of why they deserve to be commended.

Products reimagined

Halloween Instagram postsLush

Bath bombs reimagined.  The holidays are the perfect time to launch a product range with a twist. Lush cosmetics turned their bath bombs into googly eyes! There is undoubtedly something chilling about these unblinking balls all gazing mindlessly.

Data reimagined

Midterm Election Candidates DiversityNY Times

Graphs reimagined. We often have internal battles here at Distilled about the clearest and most creative way of showing data. Clear and creative often feeling like they are at opposite ends of the spectrum, with the clearest usually being the humble bar graph, and arguably not the most creative  This piece, however, succeeds in telling a simple story in an interesting way. Animating small multiples to show percentages communicates the diversity in the recent midterm elections. The cut-out heads enable us to see the 26 lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender candidates. As the piece zooms out, it shows us how the share of candidates who are white men, at 58%, is the lowest in the past four elections!

What content have you enjoyed lately? Let us know in the comments.

Creative Inspiration: Content We Enjoyed this Autumn was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

YouTube to Remove Credits and Annotations, Test Out Back-to-back Ads

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YouTube to Remove Credits and Annotations, Test Out Back-to-back Ads

Much like the rest of the internet, YouTube has established numerous steps to optimize the user experience on mobile. When it comes to mobile-friendliness, the YouTube mobile app is truly a handy and reliable app that allows you to watch videos on the go, while offering full functionality that allows you to record and stream live.

With more users going mobile, this also means that some processes and details must also be updated to keep up with the times. This means removing some seldom-used features and elements to streamline the process, while also testing out possible changes that might impact revenue and user experience.

For YouTube, the newest set of updates aim to remove credits and annotations in editing, while testing out back-to-back ads that play before a video starts. Here are our thoughts, how it works, and how these can affect the user experience.

Removing Credits

Video credits in YouTube allows users to be able to tag users and channels that they have collaborated with when creating a video. This ensures that users and channels would be credited and recognized properly and allow users to discover different related channels. Despite its benefits, it has become a feature that has been used less and less, which leads to YouTube removing the feature altogether.

While the feature to tag users and channels has been removed, adding credits can still be done when writing the description of your video, which is a practice done by more users recently. This has become more common on different videos and looks to be the more practical approach that will be the standard. This smoothens the editing process, while still giving users the ability to give credit to their fellow users.

Removing Annotations

Along with removing credits, YouTube will also remove video annotations by January 2019. Annotations have been no longer in use since 2017, but videos that contain them are still present. This update would remove them entirely, especially when watching videos. Annotations do not appear when viewed on mobile, which is why the feature was no longer in use. With better calls to action that are more visually appealing, this feature has become outdated. If you have a video that still contains annotations, it is best to wait for the update before adding necessary changes to create a better experience.

Back-to-back Advertisements

Ads have become a regular part of YouTube ever since the playing of ads before a video has been somewhat a standard practice. This not only helps various channels generate income, but also helps users discover different things such as brands, viral campaigns, and new products and websites. While ads may have affected the user experience for better or for worse, it is a necessary feature that helps bring in more revenue to the platform.

YouTube Ads

With this in mind, YouTube will begin to test out back-to-back advertisements that play before a video starts. This means an average of 2-5 minutes before watching a video. While this will allow more revenue and brand exposure, this might be a controversial feature, as a lot of users still adjusting to watching ads before videos. Since this is still at testing phase, there might be a chance for this to change, or to not happen at all. With this in mind, it is best to respond to official surveys, and leave reviews to ensure that YouTube would be able to bring impactful changes to the user experience.

YouTube SEO Impact

With these new updates, users would have to adjust accordingly when giving credit and optimizing their YouTube SEO experience. This means that along with making sure the description makes it searchable and informative, fellow users must be properly credited. As for the ads, this is something that might impact the viewer count. However, just as long you deliver quality content that is searchable, you will not have any issues with getting traffic into your videos.

Key Takeaway

YouTube has seen numerous changes over the years, and these updates are there to optimize a few details to optimize the user experience. With these set of updates, expect YouTube to continue making the viewing experience much better on any platform.

If you have questions and inquiries about YouTube or SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

YouTube to Remove Credits and Annotations, Test Out Back-to-back Ads was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

How User Comments in Google SERPS Affect the way we Search

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How User Comments in Google SERPS Affect the way we Search

Searching in Google has become more personalized in the past few years, with the search engine ensuring that the user’s preferences would help adjust their search to their specific needs. User input and experience has become an increasingly important element in search, and this allows it to grow, as search engines understand how people search more and more.

Another step in this development is the introduction of user comments in Google SERPs. While the feature has only been introduced to sports events, this is a step that could lead to a new direction in how we do SEO. Here’s some key information about how user comments work, and how it affects the user search experience.

Why sports?

When it comes to topics that generate the highest amount of traffic on a regular basis, sports is one of them. From basketball, tennis, European and American football, and baseball, sports is one event that every country talks about. This also makes it the most searched on Google as well. One example of a viral sports event was the 2018 FIFA World Cup, where user SERP comments have seen a lot of activity.

User Comments

With this in mind, I can see why they began adding the feature in sports events, as it can provide a wide range of discussions and opinions on what they think of the event, and how can it be searched. These results also affect social media, creating viral posts, news, and campaigns that would allow more people to start discussions, allowing Google to learn more about its users.

How to add comments

After logging in to your user account you can search for different sporting events for any responses. The ability to add comments might still not be available in all regions yet, but it would be a feature that should be slowly integrated, and add comments through Google.com or using the mobile app. You can view all of your comments in your account page as well, allowing you into Google as a standard feature.

Add Comment

Effect on SEO

The user experience has affected SEO in many ways that affect traffic and presence, with responsive design and AMP allowing a more optimized experience in different platforms. Adding comments is somewhat similar to adding reviews, as it gives more users an idea of what their search results have to offer. In fact, having user activity might be an indication of high traffic, which can definitely affect SERP results.

User Comments 2

While this may only be present in sports events, I could see this becoming important for local SEO, as businesses would be able to get important user input and information about their service or products in a way that is different to a review. Allowing users to begin discussions on the search engine, would allow a more open atmosphere that makes communication possible.

The future of SEO is trending towards a more mobile-friendly approach enhances interactivity and brings in more portable functionality that brings in a new set of challenges. Adding features like comments would make search more personalized than before, providing more accurate results, and a new way to impact rankings.

Key Takeaway

User comments provide a different degree of interaction that encourages communication and possibly affect search rankings in the future. As Google continues to introduce new updates and features, SEO is bound to change in the next few years. This is just a simple new feature, but it has the opportunity to bring about new changes that focus on the user.

If you have questions about Google or SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

How User Comments in Google SERPS Affect the way we Search was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Volusion SEO Best Practices: 5 Traffic Boosting Tips That Work

Ecommerce

Volusion is a relative ‘newcomer’ for ecommerce websites & shopping cart software.

They might not be as notable as Shopify, but they pack Shopify-level features at competitive pricing.

Plus, their SEO options are no joke and can help your store bring in more traffic and sales.

As an ecommerce brand, you need organic traffic for your business to thrive.

Sure, you can get away with paid traffic for a while, but as you scale, that simply becomes a losing, uphill battle where you have to spend thousands upon thousands a week to see bottom-line impact.

Here is why Volusion is a great platform for ecommerce SEO and five different ways you can bring in more traffic from your store by using it.

What is Volusion? Why Should You Use It?

Volusion is an ecommerce hosting platform with over 180,000 online stores being hosted using their technology.

With a focus on the small business, they represent amazing startups like Notch, Tiny House Coffee and Capital Teas.

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If you aren’t familiar with building websites or coding and want a DIY-approach, Volusion has solid themes that rival Squarespace in beauty and BigCommerce in functionality:

Like most other ecommerce platforms out there, Volusion has you covered on integrations. Want to connect your email marketing, PayPal, Shippo, Stripe, or anything else? With Volusion, you can.

With inventory management, payment collection options, and unlimited product listing, you can host a store that sells a few products or a few hundred products.

So, what’s the pricing?

Volusion’s pricing is a bit different than other platforms. It’s meant to scale as your business grows, ensuring that you aren’t paying exorbitant fees while you are still in the startup phase.

As you can notice, payment options, product listings, storage, and many other features come included in all packages. Pricing will increase as your online sales increase.

As you scale up in revenue per year, you unlock more critical features with the better plans, like reviews, a dedicated success team, and more.

And the beauty of it is that Volusion’s success teams want you to succeed due to their pricing model.

Compared to BigCommerce, Shopify, and 3dcart, the pricing is very competitive.

One of the biggest selling points of Volusion is their themes. Not just because they are good looking, but because they have numerous in-house ecommerce CRO experts that have helped build them for sales-focused entrepreneurs.

While they only have a limited selection of themes, each is customizable with countless elements.

So, is Volusion any good for SEO?

Is Volusion a Good Ecommerce Platform for SEO?

Volusion is an optimization-focused ecommerce platform. It’s why their themes are designed for conversion rate improvement and why they have put time and effort into their tool stack.

With Volusion, standard SEO features you can expect are:

  • Metadata customization
  • Sitemaps
  • Robots.txt
  • Custom product page and blog URLs
  • In-depth guides on SEO

Search engine optimization is constantly changing.

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There are between 500 and 600 algorithm changes to Google a year.

Volusion does a fantastic job of keeping their guides up to date, providing expert knowledge on almost any topic in ecommerce and SEO:

With over 200 existing guides on topics from data analysis to PPC to SEO to holiday marketing, you always have access to detailed information on improving your growth.

Plus, Volusion has a great track record of SEO success when you look at client case studies. In fact, Volusion actually offers professional marketing services beyond general hosting packages if businesses need help taking their sales to the next level.

For instance, one Volusion-backed store Boat Lift and Canopy was struggling to optimize their site’s product pages, metadata, and navigational UI with a conversion focus.

To combat this, they focused on on-page optimization to rank higher in search for their target keywords. Optimizing FAQs and articles on their site, they could drive huge increases in organic traffic.

The final nail on the head was implementing a content strategy on their blog to build brand awareness in their niche.

The results? They speak for themselves:

Volusion’s offering made it easy for Boat Lift and Canopy to implement SEO. Using Volusion Blog they easily started their own content machine that could pull organic traffic. With metadata optimization, targeting the right keywords and increasing organic click-through rates was a piece of cake.

Here is how you can utilize Volusion’s SEO features with five tips to improving your organic performance.

5 Tips to Improve Organic Performance Using Volusion

Volusion packs impressive SEO features and a focus on optimizing pages for traffic.

Here are five critical ways to improve your organic traffic with a Volusion store.

Establish a Blog on Your Volusion Store to Drive Traffic

Blogging and content marketing are still king. While the market for content becomes more saturated, it’s still important to produce top quality content that can rank.

HubSpot found that B2C companies that blog more than 16+ times per month generate significantly more leads and sales than those that blog less than 16+ times per month. Simply put, the more blog posts you have, the more traffic and ranking potential you have:

(Image Source)

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Blogging in your niche should focus on building your brand. For online shoppers using Google to find products and companies, brand recognition was the number one factor that drove clicks in organic search.

(Image Source)

Known retailer is the number one thing that users look at when deciding whether or not to click on your organic listing for products.

To build your brand, there is nothing better than starting a blog and writing on topics that your customers care about. With good keyword research, you can uncover great blog ideas to jumpstart your traffic.

To create a new post on your Volusion store, head to the Pages section of your dashboard:

From here, create a new page using the “Blog Post” selection from the templates list:

Here you can start to write directly within the Volusion blog post editor, or simply copy and paste from an outside Google Doc or wherever you decide to write the blog post:

Before publishing your blog posts live, be sure to create SEO friendly URLs just like you would on product and category pages for your store. On your Volusion blog post, scroll down past the text editor and you will see an SEO section to add your URL string.

For instance, if your next post is on ecommerce SEO as your keyword and topic target, use that for your URL string:

This keeps the focus on your target keyword, and when users are looking on search results they will see your URL string and be reaffirmed that you are covering the topic they searched for, helping to improve your organic click-through rates.

If you prefer an outside blogging platform like WordPress or Blogger, you can link it to your Volusion-hosted store. To do this, follow Volusion’s guide to setting up your WordPress or Blogger with your store.

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Meta Descriptions

With algorithm changes coming every single day, it’s hard to know what SEO factors can really make an impact on your organic traffic.

But the latest data shows that meta descriptions are still impactful for increasing CTR.

One company was able to increase their organic traffic by 48% through writing better meta descriptions.

On your online store pages, you will see the same SEO box that appears on your blog posts at the bottom of each product and category page:

This is where you can enter meta description and title tag information for each page.

The key to success here is making every single title tag and meta description unique. Duplicating them will only lead to penalties with Google and bad rankings.

Follow these best practices when writing meta descriptions and title tags:

  • Create unique descriptions and titles for every page
  • Include main keyword in your title + meta description naturally
  • Craft a meta description that is enticing to click for searchers

Link Google Analytics For Data

Google Analytics is a treasure-trove of data that any ecommerce store can benefit from.

Stores looking to produce blog content and drive organic traffic shouldn’t go a day without Google Analytics installed.

GA can help you understand what content pieces resonate well with your audience, traffic levels, referral sources, and even on-site search keywords that can give you easy content wins:

Can’t I just use Volusion’s store analytics? Absolutely…not. While it’s nice that platforms like Volusion offer integrated Analytics, they aren’t in-depth enough to help you improve performance at a high-level.

To integrate Google Analytics, you can paste your Google Analytics code directly into the <head> section of your live editor.

For more details on this, follow Volusion’s guide directly on your store.

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Optimize Image Alt tags

Search engines can only scan your text for information and contextual relevance. Images without alt tags give search engines no additional information, and they can also impact disabled persons when browsing who can’t see your image.

Optimizing image alt tags takes just a few extra seconds of time and can help you boost relevance and SEO.

To add alt tags to your images on Volusion, simply hover over them in the editor and it will reveal the following toolbar:

Click on the “i” info button to pull up image alt editing.

Be sure to follow these best practices for Volusion alt tags:

  • Limit the text 125 characters or less
  • Describe the image you are showing
  • Only use keyword if it naturally fits, DO NOT keyword stuff
  • Don’t use “image of” to describe, that’s already a given

Optimize Product Pages

Optimizing category and product pages on your ecommerce store are critical components of good SEO.

Targeting the right keywords and including the right content tapping into pain points can help you bring in more organic traffic that is qualified to buy from you.

When adding new products on your Volusion store, start by naming your product and providing the product image, as well as editing the alt tags like we discussed earlier.

The key section here will be optimizing your content on that page. This includes the text you write about the product and category itself.

Where most go wrong is thinking that more is always better. But on product pages, you want to keep the description short and sweet, focused on the benefits of the product for customers.

A great example of this is from from Bolthouse Farms:

Keeping content short and to the point, they focus on a small description of the product and its benefits, like increasing your vitamin intake.

Using semantically related keywords they can help provide more context to search engines.

On your category pages you can start to offer more content and descriptions that are long-form compared to individual product pages, like Beyond Pet Food’s natural dog food category:

On this category page, they communicate tons of value to customers and also improve their SEO by writing more relevant content on the topic.

Expand your category and product pages to include your keywords and relevant information.

But remember: don’t add content if it isn’t helping your brand or SEO.

Conclusion

Volusion may be a lesser-known ecommerce hosting platform in a market dominated by Shopify and BigCommerce, but that doesn’t mean it’s devoid of features and a pricing scale that work.

Volusion is backed by high-level marketers who have helped the company design CRO focused themes, easy SEO measures, and a world class content guides to help anyone from the new store to a thriving giant.

When optimizing your store with Volusion, the first step you should take is to initiate your blog. This is the meat and potatoes of SEO and is one of the best ways to start bringing in new traffic.

Link your Google Analytics to get insights on blog success and your market.

Optimize your product pages for target keywords and don’t forget to tag those images for an added SEO boost.

Volusion is a fast growing ecommerce hosting platform with great features. Now it’s up to you to put them to use to grow your online store.

Volusion SEO Best Practices: 5 Traffic Boosting Tips That Work was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Guest Blogging for Links and Traffic: My Five-Step Process for Getting Published on Top Publications

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Guest Blogging for Links and Traffic: My Five-Step Process for Getting Published on Top Publications

It’s been over four years now since Matt Cutts famously declared, “So stick a fork in it: guest blogging is done.”

According to Matt Cutts, at the time, guest blogging has been overdone and is mostly abused as a spammy tactic for link building — and it is pretty much dead.

A few things have happened since then, for those who have been paying careful attention:

  1. Matt Cutts no longer works at Google.
  2. Guest blogging is far from dead.

In fact, for followers of this blog, it is no secret that guest blogging is Sean’s favorite link building tactic for the following reasons:

  • It gives the opportunity to gain links.
  • It gives you access to a larger audience.
  • It improves your author rank.

There are many more benefits of guest blogging. It is also my favorite link building and marketing tactic, and if you pay careful attention to Cutt’s post published four years ago, it is very clear that the kind of guest blogging he is denouncing is the low-quality, spammy kind of guest blogging.

Real guest blogging, the kind that focuses on getting quality backlinks on relevant, authoritative blogs isn’t just alive, but it is growing stronger.

Below are some examples of what I’m talking about:

 Business Insider

(my guest post on Business Insider)

 Adweek

(my guest post on Adweek)

 Entrepreneur

(my guest post on Entrepreneur)

 The Next Web

(my guest post on The Next Web)

I could go on an on with the list of screenshots, but without boring you suffice it to say that I’ve been published and syndicated on some of the biggest publications in the world: Fast Company, CNBC, Yahoo, Glassdoor, and Upwork are just some of the other notable publications I’ve been featured in.

Like Sean, guest blogging is my favorite link building tactic. It’s been my main method of promoting my site where I review web hosts, and it’s one of the most effective content marketing techniques I know of for achieving strong backlinks, quality endorsement, traffic, and exposure all at once.

Over the years, I’ve perfected a process for getting published on some of the biggest publications in the world, and I believe this process can help you get published almost anywhere. In this article, I’ll break down my process for you:

 

Step #1: Compile Your List of Target Blogs

My first step for guest blogging is compiling a list of target blogs I plan to write for. When compiling a list of target blogs, I focus on two things:

  • Ensuring that the target site is really authoritative; generally, I tend to use Ahrefs Domain Ratings (DR) to determine which site to guest post on, and I tend to focus on sites with a DR of 70 or more.
  • Ensuring that the target site is relevant; in certain cases, I go for really strong, general sites like the media publications earlier referenced.

To find target sites, I use a variety of techniques:

  • I use relevant Google search queries to find target blogs. E.g. marketing blog + “write for us,” marketing blog + “guest post by,” or some other query similar to this that will lead me to the guest post guidelines of a blog or to guest posts by other authors on that blog.
  • When I notice the name of a particular guest author appears on two or more key blogs in my niche, I do a Google search on the author’s name + guest post to find guest posts by that author on other blogs. I then filter the list of the blogs to determine which of these blogs I want to use.
  • Occasionally, some top publications link to other relevant publications like them, or that are owned by their parent company; I follow these links and vet the publications to see if I am interested in any of them.

 

Step #2: Carefully Study Your Target Blog

Once I’ve decided on what blog I will be approaching for guest posting, the next step is to carefully study the blog.

When I study a blog, I pay attention to two things:

  • The content type the blog likes to publish. Is it case studies? Success stories? How-tos? Top lists?
  • The content angle. Does the blog like approaching topics from a controversial angle? A deep dive into very niche topics?

In most cases, it can be difficult to say much about what a blog wants based on content type; most top publications use a mix of content type. The angle a blog uses matters a great deal, though. Some blogs want articles that are carefully articulated opinion pieces and nothing more. Some want deep dive into niche topics backed with research. By the time you review 5 – 10 pieces (preferably by guest authors), you should have an idea of the angle a publication prefers.

 

Step #3: Identify the Editor of Your Target Blog

Once I’ve decided on the content approach I will be using with a blog or publication, the next step is to identify the editor of that publication.

I know, most blogs tell you to use a submissions form or to send an email to a particular submissions email. Some even go far to tell you that if you do otherwise you won’t be hearing back. The problem is that you do just that and hear nothing.

What has been most effective for me is identifying individual editors of the blog I intend to target and pitching them directly. In very few instances, some have directed me back to use the submissions form/email. Usually, though, many simply ask me to send an article.

 

Step #4: Pitch The Editor of Your Target Blog

 

The next step is to pitch the editor of your target blog. Don’t send draft articles without pitching an editor first; this can be quite problematic. If your article is custom-tailored to them and they decide not to respond, your effort is wasted. If they take too long to respond and you send the piece to another publication that publishes it and they later also publish it, that could be problematic.

It’s better than to pitch the editor of your target blog with an idea first and let them respond before sending them your article.

Most of the pitches — including the ones that got me on top publications like Business Insider — are in the following format:

Hi, Editor,

I’d like to inquire/ask about the steps involved in writing for Your Publication.

I have been published/featured on several top publications including ABC Publication, XYZ Publication, and ETC Publication.

Kindly let me know how to become a Your Publication contributor.

Warm Regards,

Name”

 

The above approach works for a few reasons:

  • I address the editor directly by name; it shows I have done some research.
  • I include relevant publications I’ve been featured in for social proof; I tend to get better responses when I do this compared to when I don’t use social proof.
  • The email is clear, concise, and to the point.

I don’t include links to samples of my guest posts in my pitch, unless it is specifically requested by a publication, in order to avoid triggering spam filters. Occasionally, I include ideas in the first email if the publication prefers it that way; otherwise, I try to get the editor to respond first before sending ideas to save time.

 

Step #5: Submit Content that Wows the Editor of Your Target Blog

Finally, it is important to realize that having an editor approve your pitch is no guarantee that your content will be accepted and published.

Once you have editor approval, the only guarantee of publication is by submitting content that wows an editor. Here are some tips:

  • Ensure your content is well-researched, well-thought-out, and well-written.
  • Longer isn’t better; while most blogs in the marketing industry might prefer comprehensive posts 1,200 words or longer, editors at top publications like The Next Web and Business Insider would prefer something in the neighborhood of 700 – 1,000 words. Make sure your post isn’t longer than what your editor will prefer.
  • Pay careful attention to the formatting requirements of the publication and format accordingly. Do they prefer shorter paragraphs? Use of sentence case? What is their policy on headings and bullets? Etc.
  • What is their policy on links? Internal and external links?
  • What is their policy on image use?

It is very important to consider all of the above factors and write your content accordingly to ensure your content is accepted and published after an editor has approved it.

Conclusion

Spammy guest blogging is dead, but the kind of guest blogging that focuses on publishing useful, well-thought-out guest posts on authoritative blogs based on the steps outlined above is still very well alive. With the above tips, you can take your guest blogging from average/below average to excellent.

Guest Blogging for Links and Traffic: My Five-Step Process for Getting Published on Top Publications was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Green Marketing: The psychological impact of an eco-conscious marketing campaign

The following research was first published in the MECLABS Quarterly Research Digest, July 2014.

Almost every industry has seen a shift toward “green technology” or “eco-friendly materials.” While this is certainly a positive step for the earth, it can rightly be questioned whether the marketing that touts this particular aspect of the business is really effective.

Marketing offices across the globe face some very real questions:

  • Does highlighting your green practices actually cause more people to buy from you?
  • Does it have any impact at all?
  • Does it, much to our shock and dismay, temper conversion?

When we find an issue like this, we are inclined to run a test rather than trust our marketing intuition.

Experiment: Does green marketing impact conversion?

The Research Partner for Test Protocol (TP) 11009 is a furniture company wanting to increase sales of its eco-friendly mattresses. Our key tracking metric was simple: purchases. Our research question was this: Which landing page would create more mattress sales, A or B?

As you can see in Figure 1.1, the pages were identical save for one key aspect: Version B included an extra section that Version A left out. In this section, we went into more detail about the green aspects of the mattress. It should be noted, however, that both pages included the “GreenGuard Gold Certification Seal,” so it is not as if Version A is devoid of the green marketing angle. Version B simply spelled it out more clearly.

Figure 1.1

Did the change make a difference? Yes, Version B outperformed Version A by 46%. Remember, this lift is in purchases, not simply clickthrough.

 

 

We have established that green marketing can be effective. But in what cases? How can we put that knowledge to good use and navigate the waters of green marketing with a repeatable methodology?

Four ways to create effective green marketing campaigns

In the test above, green marketing made a clear and significant difference. We made four observations as to why this particular green marketing strategy succeeded. You can use them as guides toward your own green marketing success.

Key Observation #1. The value was tangible. The value created by the copy was directly connected to the customer experience.

In the case of the GreenGuard Certified mattress, the value of being green was not solely based on its being eco-friendly. It also was customer-friendly. The green nature of the manufacturing process directly affected and increased the quality of the product. The copy stated that the mattress “meets the world’s most rigorous, third-party chemical emissions standards with strict low emission levels for over 360 volatile organic compounds.” Not only is it good for the earth, but it is also good for your toddler and your grandmother.

This tangible benefit to the customer experience is not always present in green marketing. In Figure 2.1, you see three examples of green marketing that fail to leverage a tangible benefit to the customer:

Figure 2.1

 

  1. When a hotel encourages you to reuse your towels to “save water,” it does nothing to improve the value of your experience with them. If anything, it may come off as an attempt to guilt the guest into reducing the hotel’s water bill.
  2. GE’s “Ecomagination” campaign is devoid of a tangible benefit to the customer. How does GE being green make my microwave better for me? The campaign doesn’t offer an answer.
  3. Conversely, “100% recycled toilet tissue” not only does not offer a tangible benefit to the customer, it also implies that the customer might not receive the same quality experience they would have with a non-green option.

For green marketing to optimally operate, you must be able to a point out a tangible benefit to the customer, in addition to the earth-friendly nature of the product.

Key Observation #2. The issue was relevant. The issue addressed by the copy dealt with a key concern already present in the mind of the prospect.

For people in the market for a new mattress, especially those with young children, sensitive skin or allergies, there are well-founded concerns regarding the chemicals and other materials that go into the production of the mattress. This concern already exists in the mind of the customer. It does not need to be raised or hyped by the marketer. Again, not all green marketing campaigns address relevant concerns.

Figure 3.1

 

  1. People are more concerned with safety, comfort and affordability when traveling. Whether the airline is green or not is not generally a concern.
  2. When choosing a sunscreen, most people don’t go in with aspirations of choosing a green option. Their top concern is sun protection, and biodegradable sunscreen doesn’t appear to meet that need as well as another option can.
  3. Again, “biodegradable” is not a common concern brought to the table by people buying pens.

All of these, while potentially noble causes, do not directly connect to a relevant problem the customer experiences. On the other hand, the GreenGuard Certified mattress immediately addressed a pressing concern held by the customer. It is “perfect for those with skin sensitivity or allergies.”

Key Observation #3. The claim was unique. The claim of exclusivity in the copy intensified the “only” factor of the product itself.

Just like any other benefit, green marketing benefits gain or lose value based on how many others can make the claim. If a web hosting platform touts itself as green or eco-friendly, the claim doesn’t hold as much force because the industry is saturated with green options (Figure 4.1). The same is true of BPA-free water bottles (Figure 4.2).

 

Figure 4.1

 

Figure 4.2

 

However, in the case of our Research Partner, not many of its competitors could make the “GreenGuard Gold Certification” claim (Figure 4.3). This added exclusivity — not to mention that Gold status implied they achieved the highest level of certification. Uniqueness drives value up, as long as the benefit in question is actually in demand.

Figure 4.3

 

Key Observation #4. The evidence was believable. The evidence provided in the copy lent instant credibility to any of the claims.

After the initial wave of green marketing techniques and practices took the industry by storm, there was a very justified backlash against those simply trying to cash in on the trend. Lawsuits were filed against marketers exaggerating their green-ness, including the likes of SC Johnson, Fiji Water, Hyundai and others. As a result, consumers became wary of green claims and must be persuaded otherwise by believable data.

In the winning design above, we did this in three ways:

  1. Verification: “100% Certified by GreenGuard Gold”
  2. Specification: “Our mattresses get reviewed quarterly to maintain this seal of approval. Last certification: January 4th, 2014.”
  3. Quantification: “Low emission levels for over 360 volatile organic compounds.”

The ability to prove that your green practices or eco-friendly products are truly as earth-friendly — and tangibly beneficial — as you claim is a crucial component in creating a green marketing angle that produces a significant increase in conversion.

How to approach your green marketing challenges

We have seen that green marketing can work. Still, this is not a recommendation to throw green marketing language into everything you put out. Green marketing is not a cure-all.

However, given the right circumstances, the right green positioning can certainly achieve lifts, and we want you to be able to capitalize on that. Therefore, we have created this checklist to help you analyze and improve your green marketing tactics.

☐  Is your green marketing tangible?

Does the nature of the green claims actually make the end product more appealing?

☐  Is your green marketing relevant?

Does the fact that your offer is green solve an important problem in the mind of the customer?

☐  Is your green marketing unique?

Can anyone else in your vertical make similar claims? If so, how do your claims stand apart?

☐  Is your green marketing believable?

Are your claims actually true? If so, how can you quantify, verify or specify your particular claims?

Of course, this checklist is only a starting point. Testing your results is the only true way to discover if your new green techniques are truly improving conversion.

Related Resources

Learn how Research Partnerships work, and how you can join MECLABS in discovering what really works in marketing

Read this MarketingExperiments Blog post to learn how to craft the right research question

Sometimes we only have intangible benefits to market. In this interview, Tim Kachuriak, Founder and Chief Innovation & Optimization Officer, Next After, explains how to get your customers to say, “heck yes”

One way to be relevant is better understand your customers is through data-driven marketing

Discover three techniques for standing out a competitive marketing, including focusing on your “only” factor

Read on for nine elements that help make your marketing claims more believable

Green Marketing: The psychological impact of an eco-conscious marketing campaign was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Using Log File Analysis to Optimize Your SEO Strategy

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Using Log File Analysis to Optimize Your SEO Strategy

The challenge for webmasters everywhere is to accurately know what GoogleBot is doing on your website. GoogleBot’s primary job whenever they enter a website is to crawl a specific number of pages set by the website’s crawl budget. After crawling, they save the pages they crawled to Google’s database.

Having the skills to thoroughly understand GoogleBot’s movements on your site is one of the most effective strategies to improve your technical and onsite SEO. Log file analysis helps you improve your SEO – leading to higher rankings, more traffic, and improved conversions & sales. But what exactly is Log File Analysis?

 

What is Log File Analysis

Log file analysis is the process of downloading your log files from your server and opening it through a log file analysis tool like Screaming Frog or Splunk. The log file analysis tool enables you to see all the information regarding the “hits” of your website – both bot and human – to assist you in making informed and effective SEO strategies that will take your website to the first page of Google SERPs.

Although log file analysis is an arduous undertaking, it massively helps SEO specialists find and discover important technical SEO problems that cannot be found in any other way. The data that log files contain is accurate, helpful, and important for webmasters and SEOs with regards to our understanding of how search engine crawlers move inside their websites and what specific information they store in their database. But, before we get into the whole process of analyzing log files, we must first understand the types of logs that are used.

Log File Types

The most common of logs come in 3 types. The most common one would be Apache. While other logs include elastic load balancing and W3C – which is common for users of Kibana. The last type would be custom log files that are usually seen for larger sites. So, after knowing the types, what do these log files look like?

They’re commonly made up of 5 parts:

URLSREAL

First would be the URLs of the pages the crawler visited.

TIMESTAMPREAL

Second is the timestamp – date and time the crawler made a request.

IPADRESSREAL

The third is the Remote Host or the I.P. Address

RESPONSE CODE REAL

The response/status code of the page they visited.

USER AGENT REAL

Lastly, the user agent. For us SEOs, the most important user agent would be Googlebot.

How to Analyze Log Files

When you’ve collated all these data, the next thing to do is to analyze it to understand how Googlebot and other crawlers go around your website. There’s a great number of tools you can use such as Splunk, Loggly, or you can even analyze your log files through Microsoft Excel. In the screenshots above, I used Screaming Frog Log Analyzer to open the log files of the SEO Hacker blog. The first step to analyzing log files is to use a tool that you’re comfortable with. Other SEOs I know primarily rely on Splunk, while I mostly use Screaming Frog Log Analyzer. Here’s what it looks like:

How to Analyze Log Files

After opening your log files, what do you analyze? The process goes like this: check the top pages – the pages that have the most number of requests made by Googlebot. At the same time, you should also check the types of Googlebot types that are entering your site. It could either be Googlebot Smartphone, Googlebot Mobile, Googlebot Images, or the standard Googlebot. They should visit the right pages and the right pages should also be responsive and not have any errors.

 

Crawl Budget and Page Optimization


One of the main objectives of Log File Analysis is to help you know more information about GoogleBot and optimize your crawl budget. When it comes to crawl budget, this refers to the number of times that Google does its site crawl into your website. Here are the best ways to make it work for you and establish a more efficient SEO process:


Evaluate the timeframe, speed, resources, and traffic frequency

Page traffic and is one of the constant statistics that we always keep track of when assessing our SEO Strategies. This means checking out traffic frequency, which tends to be more evident when new or viral content is published, leading to GoogleBot performing site crawls more often. This means taking into account specific timeframes in which GoogleBot performs their actions. Looking into the months, weeks, and days will help you see site crawl, allowing you to take advantage of it when creating optimal strategies.


Focus on Mobile

Mobile Search has become one of the most important elements in SEO. With mobile internet becoming more accessible to a wide audience, it is important to take advantage of this traffic. This means optimizing your website for mobile users, and that includes allowing responsive design and AMP, which allows better viewing and faster loading speeds. The Google Speed update also means that mobile loading speed is now a ranking factor, which means that the GoogleBot might be taking your mobile performance into account.


Optimizing navigation

Navigation allows you to not only be able to navigate through all of your web pages but also allow GoogleBot to conduct their site crawl. Internal links allow these web pages to get crawled, allowing it to appear in search and gain more traffic. We ensure that we do internal linking to a lot of our previous posts, and it has been a process that has provided us with more traffic reaching our website and getting more people to see our content.


Assessing Page Errors

Monitoring your site crawl also allows you to find pages that are not responding or have corresponding 301, 400, or 500 errors. Each of these pages is worth taking a look, as you would need to redirect and fix them in order for GoogleBot to crawl into the right locations. Finding them also opens up more questions on how these issues can be resolved, as cleaning this up will only bring about more benefits to your web site’s traffic, allowing your SEO strategy to take into effect more efficiently.


Removing Pages from the Index

Removing your web pages from the index and taking out duplicate content helps your crawl budget as it optimizes navigation, allowing users to be led into the right places. This may also help you find missing content as well, allowing those missed pages to receive more traffic, which leads to GoogleBot conducting their crawl.

 

Key Takeaway

Every SEO expert and webmaster wants to know what’s going on in their website. Log file analysis allows us to understand how Google views our site and which pages are being focused on by the crawler. Know what’s going on, make an effort to check all the resources and pages, clean up the errors you see, repeat. An optimized and authoritative site is what Google is looking for. Is your site one of them?

Using Log File Analysis to Optimize Your SEO Strategy was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

How to rank for head terms

Over the last few years, my mental model for what does and doesn’t rank has changed significantly, and this is especially true for head terms – competitive, high volume, “big money” keywords like “car insurance”, “laptops”, “flights”, and so on. This post is based on a bunch of real-world experience that confounded my old mental model, as well as some statistical research that I did for my presentation at SearchLove London in early October. I’ll explain my hypothesis in this post, but I’ll also explain how I think you should react to it as SEOs – in other words, how to rank for head terms.

My hypothesis in both cases is that head terms are no longer about ranking factors, and by ranking factors I mean static metrics you can source by crawling the web and weight to decide who ranks. Many before me have made the claim that user signals are increasingly influential for competitive keywords, but this is still an extension of the ranking factors model, whereby data goes in, and rankings come out. My research and experience are leading me increasingly towards a more dynamic and responsive model, in which Google systematically tests, reshuffles and refines rankings over short periods, even when site themselves do not change.

Before we go any further, this isn’t an “SEO is dead”, “links are dead”, or “ranking factors are dead” post – rather, I think those “traditional” measures are the table stakes that qualify you for a different game.

Evidence 1: Links are less relevant in the top 5 positions

Back in early 2017, I was looking into the relationship between links and rankings, and I ran a mini ranking factor study which I published over on Moz. It wasn’t the question I was asking at the time, but one of the interesting outcomes of that study was that I found a far weaker correlation between DA and rankings than Moz had done in mid-2015.

The main difference between our studies, besides the time that had elapsed, was that Moz used the top 50 ranking positions to establish correlations, whereas I used the top 10, figuring that I wasn’t too interested in any magical ways of getting a site to jump from position 45 to position 40 – the click-through rate drop-off is quite steep enough just on the first page.

Statistically speaking, I’d maybe expect a weaker correlation when using fewer positions, but I wondered if perhaps there was more to it than that – maybe Moz had found a stronger relationship because ranking factors in general mattered more for lower rankings, where Google has less user data. Obviously, this wasn’t a fair comparison, though, so I decided to re-run my own study and compare correlations in positions 1-5 with correlations in positions 6-10. (You can read more about my methodology in the aforementioned post documenting that previous study.) I found even stronger versions of my results from 2 years ago, but this time I was looking for something else:

Domain Authority vs Rankings mean Spearman correlation by ranking position

The first thing to note here is that these are some extremely low correlation numbers – that’s to be expected when we’re dealing with only 5 points of data per keyword, and a system with so many other variables. In a regression analysis, the relationship between DA and rankings in positions 6-10 is still 98.5% statistically significant. However, for positions 1-5, it’s only around 41% statistically significant. In other words, links are fairly irrelevant for positions 1-5 in my data.

Now, this is only one ranking factor, and ~5,000 keywords, and ranking factor studies have their limitations.

Image: https://moz.com/blog/seo-ranking-factors-and-correlation

However, it’s still a compelling bit of evidence for my hypothesis. Links are the archetypal ranking factor, and Moz’s Domain Authority* is explicitly designed and optimised to use link-based data to predict rankings. This drop off in the top 5 fits with a mental model of Google continuously iterating and shuffling these results based on implied user feedback.

*I could have used Page Authority for this study, but didn’t, partly because I was concerned about URLs that Moz might not have discovered, and partly because I originally needed something that was a fair comparison with branded search volume, which is a site-level metric.

Evidence 2: SERPs change when they become high volume

This is actually the example that first got me thinking about this issue – seasonal keywords. Seasonal keywords provide, in some ways, the control that we lack in typical ranking factor studies, because they’re keywords that become head terms for certain times of the year, while little else changes. Take this example:

This keyword gets the overwhelming majority of its volume in a single week every year. It goes from being a backwater search term where Google has little to go on besides “ranking factors” to a hotly contested and highly trafficked head term. So it’d be pretty interesting if the rankings changed in the same period, right? Here’s the picture 2 weeks before Mother’s Day this year:

I’ve included a bunch of factors we might consider when assessing these rankings – I’ve chosen Domain Authority as it’s the site-level link-based metric that best correlates with rankings, and branded search volume (“BSV”) as it’s a metric I’ve found to be a strong predictor of SEO “ranking power”, both in the study I mentioned previously and in my experience working with client sites. The “specialist” column is particularly interesting, as the specialised sites are obviously more focused, but typically also better optimised. – M&S (marksandspencer.com, a big high-street department store in the UK) was very late to the HTTPS bandwagon, for example. However, it’s not my aim here to persuade you that these are good or correct rankings, but for what it’s worth, the landing pages are fairly similar (with some exceptions I’ll get to), and I think these are the kinds of question I’d be asking, as a search engine, if I lacked any user-signal-based data.

Here’s the picture that then unfolds:

Notice how everything goes to shit about seven days out? I don’t think it is at all a coincidence that that’s when the volume arrives. There are some pretty interesting stories if we dig into this, though. Check out the high-street brands:

Not bad eh? M&S, in particular, manages to get in above those two specialists that were jostling for 1st and 2nd previously.

These two specialist sites have a similarly interesting story:

These are probably two of the most “SEO’d” sites in this space. They might well have won a “ranking factors” competition. They have all the targeting sorted, decent technical and site speed, they use structured data for rich snippets, and so on. But, you’ve never heard of them, right?

But there are also two sites you’ve probably never heard of that did quite well:

Obviously, this is a complex picture, but I think it’s interesting that (at the time) the latter two sites had a far cleaner design than the former two. Check out Appleyard vs Serenata:

Just look at everything pulling your attention on Serenata, on the right.

Flying Flowers had another string to their bow, too – along with M&S, they were one of only two sites mentioning free delivery in their title.

But again, I’m not trying to convince you that the right websites won, or work out what Google is looking for here. The point is more simple than that: Evidently, when this keyword became high volume and big money, the game changed completely. Again, this fits nicely with my hypothesis of Google using user signals to continuously shuffle its own results.

Evidence 3: Ranking changes often relate more to Google re-assessing intent than Google re-assessing ranking factors

My last piece of evidence is very recent – it relates to the so-called “Medic” update on August 1st. Distilled works with a site that was heavily affected by this update – they sell cosmetic treatments and products in the UK. That makes them a highly commercial site, and yet, here’s who won for their core keywords when Medic hit:

Site Visibility Type
WebMB +6.5% Medical encyclopedia
Bupa +4.9% Healthcare
NHS +4.6% Healthcare / Medical encyclopedia
Cosmopolitan +4.6% Magazine
Elle +3.6% Magazine
Healthline +3.5% Medical encyclopedia

Data courtesy of SEOmonitor.

So that’s two magazines, two medical encyclopedia-style sites, and two household name general medical info/treatment sites (as opposed to cosmetics). Zero direct competitors – and it’s not like there’s a lack of direct competitors, for what it’s worth.

And this isn’t an isolated trend – it wasn’t for this site, and it’s not for many others I’ve worked with in recent years. Transactional terms are, in large numbers, going informational.

The interesting thing about this update for this client, is that although they’ve now regained their rankings, even at its worst, this never really hit their revenue figures. It’s almost like Google knew exactly what it was doing, and was testing whether people would prefer an informational result.

And again, this reinforces the picture I’ve been building over the last couple of years – this change is nothing to do with “ranking factors”. Ranking factors being re-weighted, which is what we normally think of with algorithm updates, would have only reshuffled the competitors, not boosted a load of sites with a completely different intent. Sure enough, most of the advice I see around Medic involves making your pages resemble informational pages.

Explanation: Why is this happening?

If I’ve not sold you yet on my world-view, perhaps this CNBC interview with Google will be the silver bullet.

This is a great article in many ways – its intentions are nothing to do with SEO, but rather politically motivated, after Trump called Google biased in September of this year. Nonetheless, it affords us a level of insight form the proverbial horse’s mouth that we’d never normally receive. My main takeaways are these:

  • In 2017, Google ran 31,584 experiments, resulting in 2,453 “search changes” – algorithm updates, to you and me. That’s roughly 7 per day.
  • When the interview was conducted, the team that CNBC talked to was working on an experiment involving increased use of images in search results. The metrics they were optimising for were:
    • The speed with which users interacted with the SERP
    • The rate at which they quickly bounced back to the search results (note: if you think about it, this is not equivalent to and probably not even correlated with bounce rate in Google Analytics).

It’s important to remember that Google search engineers are people doing jobs with targets and KPIs just like the rest of us. And their KPI is not to get the sites with the best-ranking factors to the top – ranking factors, whether they be links, page speed, title tags or whatever else are just a means to an end.

Under this model, with those explicit KPIs, as an SEO we equally ought to be thinking about “ranking factors” like price, aesthetics, and the presence or lack of pop-ups, banners, and interstitials.

Now, admittedly, this article does not explicitly confirm or even mention a dynamic model like the one I’ve discussed earlier in this article. But it does discuss a mindset at Google that very much leads in that direction – if Google knows it’s optimising for certain user signals, and it can also collect those signals in real-time, why not be responsive?

Implications: How to rank for head terms

As I said at the start of this article, I am not suggesting for a moment that the fundamentals of SEO we’ve been practising for the last however many years are suddenly obsolete. At Distilled, we’re still seeing clients earn results and growth from cleaning up their technical SEO, improving their information architecture, or link-focused creative campaigns – all of which are reliant on an “old school” understanding of how Google works. Frankly, the continued existence of SEO as an industry is in itself reasonable proof that these methods, on average, pay for themselves.

But the picture is certainly more nuanced at the top, and I think those Google KPIs are an invaluable sneak peek into what that picture might look like. As a reminder, I’m talking about:

  1. The speed with which users interact with a SERP (quicker is better)
  2. The rate at which they quickly bounce back to results (lower is better)

There are some obvious ways we can optimise for these as SEOs, some of which are well within our wheelhouse, and some of which we might typically ignore. For example:

Optimising for SERP interaction speed – getting that “no-brainer” click on your site:

  • Metadata – we’ve been using this to stand out in search results for years
    • E.g. “free delivery” in title
    • E.g. professionally written meta description copy
  • Brand awareness/perception – think about whether you’d be likely to click on the Guardian or Forbes with similar articles for the same query

Optimising for rate of return to SERPs:

  • Sitespeed – have you ever bailed on a slow site, especially on mobile?
  • First impression – the “this isn’t what I expected” or “I can’t be bothered” factor
    • Price
    • Pop-ups etc.
    • Aesthetics(!)

As I said, some of these can be daunting to approach as digital marketers, because they’re a little outside of our usual playbook. But actually, lots of stuff we do for other reasons ends up being very efficient for these metrics – for example, if you want to improve your site’s brand awareness, how about top of funnel SEO content, top of funnel social content, native advertising, display, or carefully tailored post-conversion email marketing? If you want to improve first impressions, how about starting with a Panda survey of you and your competitors?

Similarly, these KPIs can seem harder to measure than our traditional metrics, but this is another area where we’re better equipped than we sometimes think. We can track click-through rates in Google Search Console (although you’ll need to control for rankings & keyword make-up), we can track something resembling intent satisfaction via scroll tracking, and I’ve talked before about how to get started measuring brand awareness.

Some of this (perhaps frustratingly!) comes down to being “ready” to rank – if your product and customer experience is not up to scratch, no amount of SEO can save you from that in this new world, because Google is explicitly trying to give customers results that win on product and customer experience, not on SEO.

There’s also the intent piece – I think a lot of brands need to be readier than they are for some of their biggest head terms “going informational on them”. This means having great informational content in place and ready to go – and by that, I do not mean a quick blog post or a thinly veiled product page. Relatedly, I’d recommend this in-depth article about predicting and building for “latent intents” as a starting point.

Summary

I’ve tried in this article to summarise how I see the SEO game-changing, and how I think we need to adapt. If you have two main takeaways, I’d like it to be those two KPIs – the speed with which users interact with a SERP, and the rate at which they quickly bounce back to results (lower is better) – and what they really mean for your marketing strategy.

What I don’t want you to take away is that I’m in any way undermining SEO fundamentals – links, on-page, or whatever else. That’s still how you qualify, how you get to a position where Google has any user signals from your site to start with. All that said, I know this is a controversial topic, and this post is heavily driven by my own experience, so I’d love to hear your thoughts below!

How to rank for head terms was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing

Black Friday 2018: Best SEO Tool Deals

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Black Friday 2018: Best SEO Tool Deals

The Black Friday sale is considered to be the biggest consumer event of the year, with numerous brands around the world selling their products at discount prices. From entertainment media, clothes, technology, gaming, and even software, Black Friday gives consumers the opportunity to purchase products for so much less.

Among the many products that people would be able to get at a discount are SEO tools. These tools are an important investment for your SEO efforts, which means that these sales are the best opportunities to add another tool to your arsenal. These tools are a part of our SEO Hacker Toolbox and have served us well in making our work that much smoother. With that in mind, here are some of the best SEO tool deals that you can get on Black Friday.

SE Ranking

SE Ranking

One of the best website tracking tools in the market, SE Ranking offers users one of the best ways to track website traffic, backlinks, and even your competitors. Along with that, you can also perform tasks such as keyword research, making this tool even more versatile, along with Competitor and PPC research.

What users would get is a 30% discount on any subscription plan, which is a package truly worth getting. You can also take a look into our review of SE Ranking and get a better idea of how this tool can work for you.

Accuranker

Accuranker

When it comes to looking for one of the most accurate keyword ranking tools around, you cannot go wrong with Accuranker. Providing a live rank tracking system for all of your keywords, Accuranker’s data is very reliable, as we are ensured that we know that our websites are being found by the right keywords. Our team has greatly benefited from this excellent tool and has made our work more effective.

Our review covered a good number of features that Accuranker has to offer, and it is surely worth a look to know more about this amazing tool. Accuranker’s offer is now offering a deal that will allow you to track 1,000 keywords for 3 months for $19.75 a month. This impressive offer looks great, as it allows you a good number of keywords and the best data in your hands. We also did a review on Accuranker, which allows you to get a look into what it can do.

Mangools Online Tools

Mangools Online Tools

Mangools Online Tools is another set of versatile tools that make doing SEO, link building, keyword research, and SERP tracking a much better experience. KWFinder provides a great tool that helps us assess keyword difficulty, SERP Checker and Watcher allows us to track search results, and Link Miner is a quality link building and tracking tool that monitors all your links.

Along with these set of tools, Mangools also has a Google Chrome Extension that makes it even more effective, as you only need to access the tool with only a few clicks. We have done our review on this impressive set of tools, and provides you with the information you need to know to start.

Key Takeaway

Having a great set of SEO tools is the best way to improve and expand your capabilities, allowing you to do more work in less amount of time. The Black Friday sale is one of the biggest sales around and only happens once a year, which brings up more unique opportunities for you and your team. With these awesome deals, you are guaranteed to have more tricks up your SEO sleeve.

If you have questions and inquiries about SEO tools and SEO in general, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

Black Friday 2018: Best SEO Tool Deals was originally posted by Video And Blog Marketing