Thursday, January 19, 2017

Seven ways to elevate your personal and professional SEO performance in 2017

According to research from Borrell associates, SEO spending is forecast to reach $79.27 billion by 2020. However, the problem that many marketers face is actually elevating the importance of SEO within their organizations.

In 2017 it is essential that SEO professionals secure the buy-in they need from their business leaders so they can accomplish their professional goals.

Understanding how to do this will not only help the brand succeed, but it will also build your reputation as a marketer, paving the way for a successful future within the industry.

This year we witness the rising importance of the micro-moment, the new mobile index, and the growing importance of machine learning and automation in the marketing process.

Understanding this potential and the direction of the industry can help you establish yourself and your business within this changing field, laying a firm foundation for a strong brand moving forward. Here are seven ways you can elevate your SEO performance on both a personal and professional level.

Seven ways to elevate SEO performance

1) Communicate the importance of SEO within your organization

To elevate your personal and professional SEO performance, you must begin by establishing the importance of optimization to others in your organization.

My company, BrightEdge, regularly monitors the impact of organic search on website success and has found that 51% of traffic to your page originates with organic. Additionally, 83 percent of the traffic from search engines is from organic instead of paid.

Brands that want to drive performance need to focus resources and budget on SEO, and as a marketer, you need to promote this channel.

Invest your time and resources in improving performance in this segment so that you can begin to demonstrate both your own competence and the importance of digital marketing to your brand as a whole.

2) Optimize your human capital

The marketing world continues to mature and professionals need to be prepared to evolve alongside it. Within digital marketing, we continue to see a convergence of different marketing disciplines as the former silos begin to come down.

For example, content writers work more closely with SEOs and paid search and organic teams better understand the value that the other has to offer.

You want to maximize your human capital to take advantage of these trends. Look for new hires that have multiple skill sets and understand a few different marketing disciplines.

Similarly, find ways to train your existing team members on other marketing strategies, such as in-house training sessions. The better the team can function as a whole and create unified campaigns, the greater the success will be, which will help boost your value and reputation.

3) Nurture your own skills

Given the speed with which marketing continues to change, marketers must also be attentive to their individual skills. For you to advance professionally, you will need to navigate the hybrid atmosphere of modern digital marketing.

This means taking advantage of the variety of online resources available to help you learn about different aspects of marketing, such as analytics, SEO, writing, or social media. Attend a few webinars, follow key blogs, or even take classes to improve your credentials.

Taking the time to prepare yourself for modern marketing will help you stand out within your company, improve the success of campaigns, and position you for an even brighter future.

Business Woman Working Planning Ideas Concept

4) Find ways to break down internal silos

Breaking down the silos that hinder your organization’s performance requires not only hiring people with cross-specialty skills and expanding your own abilities, but also actively working to break down barriers between groups at your organization.

Do not be afraid to lead the initiative to start working with people from other teams. Get to know those who work in other departments through lunches or regular meetings, work on coordinated projects together, and develop integrated campaigns.

This cooperative effort will allow your organization to create more advanced campaigns and thus strengthen the brand’s efforts.

5) Invest the time, resources, and energy in analytics to gain a full view of your work

To effectively market to your prospects, you need to have a clear view of your performance and progress at every stage. You want to have a complete view of your metrics, understanding how your content and campaigns perform at every level, from keyword ranking to the impact on revenue and share of voice.

Look at how different aspects of your campaigns perform, such as paid search, organic and SEO, and social media efforts. The more complete your understanding of the marketing landscape, the clearer the picture will become of how you should move forward.

6) Use data to build a strategy centered around the customer’s needs

In the modern marketing world, we need to focus on the importance of the customer-centric approach and the growing roles that machine learning and automation are likely to play as the digital industry continues to mature. As a marketer, you need to produce strategies and campaigns that understand the unique needs and interests of your target consumers so that you can then produce the material needed to engage prospects.

The emerging technologies will play a large role in helping you better understand the search landscape so that you can more effectively reach them through your campaigns.

As you bring in the data from your analytics monitoring, use it to start creating a customer-first strategy. Watch the types of devices that people use when accessing your content, how that impacts their behavior, the paths they take to reach the conversion stage, and how various marketing efforts impact outcomes.

This will help you be more effective and create and optimize content that people actually want to read and is set for success, instead of just content that you want to produce. This will make your efforts more effective, providing lift to the organization and elevating the importance of SEO.

7) Understand how to speak to the C-Suite

For you to elevate SEO importance and performance on a personal and professional level, it is vitally important to know how to speak to the C-Suite and other leaders at your organization. They prioritize the specific metrics that will clearly indicate the impact of your marketing efforts on the organization as a whole.

They are less interested in seeing keyword rankings as they are in seeing share of voice, revenue from organic campaigns, and your success within the competitive landscape. Use reports and visuals that easily and clearly communicate your progress and the direct benefit to the company.

On a personal level, work on cultivating valuable meeting room traits, including confident speaking skills and effective storytelling abilities.

This will allow you to engage with the leaders of your organization and help them understand the value of what you have to offer.

The marketing industry continues to mature as consumers, marketers, and the technology involved become more sophisticated. From a personal and professional level, this offers you the chance to elevate SEO and the importance of your own role.

As we venture into 2017, now is the perfect opportunity to take advantage of the ideas above to set yourself and your organization up for a great year.

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Building your SEO strategy in 2017: what’s most important?

If you’re wondering what factors to consider as you build your SEO strategy for 2017, links are still the top-ranking factor for Google’s algorithm with content close behind. And high CTR is still at the core of the rankings pack as well.

Earlier this year, Andrey Lipattsev, a Google Search Quality Senior Strategist, fielded questions about the top ranking factors for Google. Lipattsev said, “I can tell you what they are. It is content. And it’s links pointing to your site.”

Recent Study Put Links to the Ranking Factor Test

A recent study by Eric Enge of Stone Temple Consulting put links to the ranking factor test. And links emerged as powerful as ever.

Previous research by Moz and Searchmetrics found a high correlation when comparing high SEO rankings and external links. However, data from other ranking factors were close behind links.

For example, the Moz study found the number of external links to be rated at 0.30, but the Moz authority rated at 0.28, and the page authority at 0.37.

How could links be so vital to SEO efforts and not have a significant statistical edge on other ranking factors? Enge wanted to know why, and he found that the Moz and Searchmetrics studies used commercial search terms, and evaluated each SERP individually.

“Based on consultations with a couple of experts (Paul Berger and Per Enge), I did a different type of calculation, based on the Quadratic Mean,” Enge explained.

Different varieties of search terms were also employed in the Stone Temple Consulting study. Long tail commercial terms, commercial terms, and informational keywords were used to test the power of links.

The results of the new study certainly matched Google’s announcement, crowning links king of ranking. Links per ranking URL rated at 0.39 with domain and page rating far behind at 0.27.

Links are Still Powerful Amid Hundreds of Google Ranking Factors

Did you know Google uses around 200 ranking factors to rank websites? This may be a lot for SEOs to take in all at once. However, focusing on links is still best practice.

Linkbuilding

Several digital marketing firms compiled hundreds of Google ranking factors, and they may be useful to your SEO efforts, says Entrepreneur contributor Eric Siu.

“While it can be worthwhile for business owners to be at least familiar with some of the topics here, this infographic can be a valuable resource to share with those on your team who are managing your site’s day-to-day SEO operation.”

In fact, out of those 200 ranking factors in Google’s ranking algorithm, three of the most essential encompass links.

  1. The number of external links you receive is important. Some of the top SEOs say external links are simply invaluable to your ranking power, according to Moz.
  2. Anchor text of external links affects ranking. Links with SEO focused anchor text needs to be relevant to the target page.
  3. The links need to be of good authority. For example, your links need to be from a reputable news source or academic journal.

Links have always been a valuable aspect of an SEOs strategy, and many SEO agencies focus on building relevant links to get first page search results on Google.

Building Relevant Links is an Important Ranking Practice

Building links is certainly an essential SEO practice, but Google is still dealing with the manipulation of SERPs via economically minded marketers. However, your link building strategy needs to encompass relevancy, according to Search Engine Land.

Incorporating relevance and trustworthiness into your link building strategy is an essential part of your ranking efforts. The first step in this strategy is to identify resources and publications for inbound links.

Here are two key aspects to incorporate into your link building strategy, according to the best SEO practices of 2016 by Forbes.

  • Identify respectable links. When searching for respectable links ask yourself: Do people trust this site? Does this site use citations? Is the site refined? Is the site a household name?
  • Focus on relevancy in links. In order to optimize rankings, SEOs need to find relevant links within the industry they are marketing. Match content and links up as perfectly as possible to keep rankings moving in a positive direction.

Link building is important, and it may be as essential as ever, according to Google’s announcement. And SEOs still need to combine links with powerful content too.

Google Identifies CTR and User Experience as Major Ranking Factors

Links and content are certainly at the top of your SEO strategy. However, Google identified CTR and user experience as major ranking factors. Increasing one will certainly increase the other as well.

Google utilizes CTR data to indicate a sites ranking value, according to Google engineer Paul Haahr. Haahr also added that Google runs A/B tests with SERPs. This could increase or decrease a site’s ranking by a few spots, and has no relevancy to links or SEO.

Essentially, the higher CTR you have, and the more user experience your site receives, the higher the Google rankings.

A study on CTR by Moz found that, “The more your pages beat the expected organic CTR for a given position, the more likely you are to appear in prominent organic positions.”

Rankings and CTR are certainly codependent. Keeping visitors on your site is one important element in the Google ranking equation. Here are a few tips to optimize your CTR and user experience.

  • Bucket brigades. Using bucket brigades is one great SEO strategy to increase user experience, according to Backlinko. These are simply words and phrases that keep people engaged.
  • Better content title and descriptions. Emphasizing fast results is what Google is all about, and your content title and description need to reflect that. Giving Google browsers the sense of speedy information will increase your CTR.
  • More value in your subheadings. Including benefits in your subheadings will also enhance your CTR and user experience. A more powerful subheading will intrigue your audience to stick around and see what the content has to offer.

Your 2017 Strategy: What Else?

Knowing that you must continue with outreach, content, and CTR optimization as your foundation, what else should you consider for your 2017 strategy? A Forbes article describes three steps to jumpstart site traffic in 2017: Real Time Videos, Augmented Reality Gaming, and Google Penguin.

If you keep your site safe from Penguin while focusing on building a real time video strategy with an augmented reality component, watch your site’s visibility sky rocket! It’s time to combine the old with the new to have your best year ever!

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

Five proven SEO strategies for retailers to use in 2017

Optimizing your ecommerce site for better rankings should be a top priority for any growth-focused business owner.

Being on the first page is no longer enough to generate enough traffic, CTR, and sales, for 2016 and 2017, the main goal should be to rank 1 and I will tell you why.

In 2011, a research conducted by Optify and published by Search Engine Watch showed that “websites ranked number one received an average click-through rate (CTR) of 36.4 percent; number two had a CTR of 12.5 percent; and number three had a CTR of 9.5 percent.”

This report illustrates vividly the value of holding the number 1 spot in search results.

In the article below, I will be sharing five proven SEO strategies for retailers to rank their ecommerce sites in 2017.

1) Use LSIs

Among the best practices for SEO in 2016 and 2017 is the use of Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords. LSI’s keywords are phrases or words closely related to the main keyword or phrase of your page or content.

Adding these keywords to your web pages will improve your SEO for a variety of search terms. Bear in mind, visitors will always use different or a combination of terms in search engines but optimizing your web page with LSI’s allows you to rank easily for closely related keywords.

For example, when optimizing a coupon website for keywords, LSI’s such as promotion codes, discount codes, discounts and deals can be sprinkled over the content in your coupon offers or category description.

Finally, there won’t be a need for LSI’s on a squeeze page with no content but for product description and large e-commerce stores like Amazon, LSI’s will surely get on the good side of search engines.

 

2) Write Long Descriptions For Products and Pages (1000+) and Sprinkle Keyword 3 – 5x

According to SERP data from SEMRush, longer content tends to rank best in Google. This is because search engines (Google) wants visitors to understand the value on your page, more content on your web pages allows search engines to crawl and provide value to web users.

I understand it is impossible to write up to or more than 1000 words for every page on your e-commerce site (don’t sweat it) simply write in-depth 100 words for products or category pages.

After writing your in-depth descriptions, include your main keyword at least 3 times in your descriptions. Doing this, give signals to search engines as to what the page is about.

For example, if your web page is about “Winter Skips” then you need to include that exact phrase at least 3 times in the fully written description.

Avoid poorly written or duplicate product descriptions (many retailers are guilty of this crime), hyperlink properly to internal pages or related items.

3) Use Neuromarketing Hacks To Maximize Page CTR

There is no point stressing out the need to include your main keyword in your page’s title tag. But do you know adding a prefix before your main keyword can actually skyrocket your CTR from search results?

Prefixes or Click Magnets such as “Cheap”, “Buy” and “30% Off” can increase your CTR and help you show up for long tail search queries. It is advisable to use prefixes for every product page as visitors punch in more precise queries such as “cheap winter skips” or “Nordstrom deals”.

Bear in mind, Google presumably uses organic CTR as a ranking signal according to Paul Haahr, well if they don’t, more click-throughs = more sales so you don’t lose in any way.

For example, almost every page with title tags on ChameleonJohn contains click magnets such as “30% off”, “Free Shipping” or “Up to 60% off” which generate more clicks (since we all like discounts).

For optimal results, include creative (and appropriate) click magnets into your title tags and descriptions tags and put longer phrases in description tags since you have more room for words to gain more clicks and sales.

4) Use Date Modifiers For Coupons

For businesses in the coupon industry, best practice will be to include date modifiers (2016, 2017) on each coupon page to show visitors that the coupons are fresh. For example, Kohl’s coupon page shows the last updated date including an expiry date for each coupon offer.

This allows search engines to crawl in-depth, provide comprehensive search results and rich snippets for visitors.

5) Implement Product Review Schema by Displaying Rich Snippets in Google

Rich snippets were first launched in 2009, they offer a way of adding more information to a search listing which could be in form of a star rating of a review or price of an item.

Webmasters can markup web pages with Schema.org making ecommerce sites eligible for displaying rich snippets in search results. Using structured data markup allows search engines to crawl and display page content comprehensively even though Google does not guarantee rich snippets for every website.

For clarification purposes, rich snippets do not affect site rankings but the use allows for comprehensive search listings for visitors, an increased CTR and indirect SEO benefits such as easily indexable web pages and detailed metadata.

Laurynas Skupas is the co-founder and CEO of ChameleonJohn

Monday, January 16, 2017

Top three programmatic trends in 2017

Programmatic is a game-changing technology in the advertising industry.

According to ZenithOptimedia Programmatic Marketing Forecasts, it will grow by an astounding 31% in 2017 – and that’s faster than social media (25%) and online video (20%).

At the same time, marketers using automation is on the rise: Dun & Bradstreet Report predicts almost 70% of B2B marketers plan to increase spending on programmatic advertising in 2017.

So what can we expect from the year ahead and how should advertisers be prepared to take advantage of programmatic? RTB House – a global provider of retargeting technology powered by deep learning algorithms – has put together 3 top trends in the upcoming year.

#1 Cross-device campaigns will get in power

According to Global Mobile Consumer Trends Research, we check our phones around 40 times per day. With more than 78% of the global consumers owning smartphones (76% in developed countries and 81% in emerging markets), mobile programmatic ads are on the upswing.

Rising device penetration and increased mobile usage is a huge advertising opportunity which marketers simply can’t ignore. 2017 will be the year of mobile programmatic not only in the US, where eMarketer predicts that mobile will represent nearly 75% of all programmatic ad spending, but also in other markets across the globe.

Programmatic video is also on the rise. It will amount to about 60% of all digital video ad spending in the US according to eMarketer, and accounts for almost a quarter of video ad spend in Europe.

The UK will remain the market leader in programmatic digital display ad spending, expected to account for more than three quarters of all buys in 2017, so by 2018 programmatic direct will account for 52 per cent of the programmatic total and £2.03bn.

By 2020 desktop spend is projected to be £3.17bn, compared with mobile’s £8.99bn.

The programmatic mobile and video market has been shaky in the past, but device saturation and market maturity seems to put publishers and advertisers in a comfortable place with buying and selling mobile and video ad inventory.

In 2017, brands will be even more eager to run activities that reach consumers on every one of those screens and planning a cross-device campaign will be a common and effective strategy.

#2 Header bidding will revolutionize buy/sell auctions

Header bidding (or pre-bidding) helps publishers better decide which partners they choose work with.

Unlike waterfall auctions, which have long been the standard of buying and selling ads, header bidding means all bids are made at once.

This allows for a more democratic access path to the publishers ad inventory, which creates a win-win for both publishers and advertisers. The price usually goes up, awarding publishers more money. At the same time, it gives advertisers a more even shot at the inventory they most want.

thinkstockphotos-498660724

In traditional waterfall methods, publishers are not able to choose their partners – they are placed into tiers based on how much money they have spent historically. The more they’ve spent, the higher tier they occupy.

When an impression goes up for auction, it is first offered to the highest tier; if that tier doesn’t bite, the same impression is pushed down to the next tier.

This repeats until someone makes a bid. But this process doesn’t always get the publisher the true value for their impression. Nor does it give advertisers equal footing to bid on the impression they want. And here is where header bidding concept steps into the game.

In 2017, header bidding will be more accessible than ever, thanks to rapid developments in the technology that allows them. Buyers will be highly incentivized by the lower costs of impressions technology fees, while publishers enjoy higher profit margins from their inventory.

#3 Deep learning will boost retargeting quality to new heights

According to Juniper Research, machine learning algorithms which are employed in programmatic advertising to enable more efficient bids in RTB networks are expected to generate around $42 billion in annual advertising revenue by 2021, up from around $3.5 billion this year.

Deep learning (a branch of machine learning based on algorithms that attempt to model high-level abstractions in data) has made significant strides in 2016 and will be on the radar of many forward-thinking advertisers in 2017. It’s now being used in many industries beyond software.

These algorithms are the backbone of image or speech recognition, and in 2017 their application will have a great influence on programmatic advertising campaigns.

Thanks to deep learning methods which are employed by innovative retargeting technology providers, advertisers will be able to predict user behaviour, calculate the probability of purchasing, and measure value more accurately.

Programmatic buying and selling powered by deep learning will yield a higher value of conversions and enable advertisers to run advertising campaigns that are extremely effective without larger budgeting.

Daniel Surmacz is the COO of RTB House and a contributor at SEW

Friday, January 13, 2017

Five most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week, Larry Kim peers into his crystal ball to make some outlandish predictions for SEO in 2017; Facebook is preparing to flip the switch on a mid-roll video ad offering that will share revenue with users; and – here’s a name you probably weren’t expecting to see crop up in the news – AOL is offering up free wireless data as a reward for engaging with ads.

Nine crazy predictions for SEO in 2017

It’s January, and as we all know, the arrival of January and the new year heralds the arrival of any number of predictions posts across every website you visit. (I myself am guilty of publishing one this week). But with his ‘Nine crazy predictions for SEO in 2017‘, Larry Kim promises a predictions post like no other.

From the biggest rankings shift in the history of Google, to the death of organic listings 6-10, and the complete demise of local SEO (yikes!), Kim has definitely gone bold and big with his predictions, all while citing evidence to back each one up. The predictions might seem “crazy”, but the reasoning isn’t, making this an article you mustn’t miss.

simplified-google-rankbrain-diagram

And if anyone would like to set up a Search Engine Watch betting pool where we all place bets on which of the predictions will come true and when, I’m all in.

Facebook to get mid-roll ads and share revenue with users

On top of being the world’s most popular social network, Facebook has also become one of the most popular destinations for consuming online video content. Yet although Facebook has never been slow to monetise other parts of its service, it has sought very little revenue from its videos – until now.

Al Roberts reports for ClickZ this week on the news that Facebook is poised to implement a mid-roll ad offering which will share 55% of the revenue generated with creators. In his piece, Roberts looks into the reasons why this could be a game-changer for Facebook’s advertising business. Last year, recode reported that Facebook is nearing the maximum amount of ads that it can show in a user’s News Feed. It’s clear that we are seeing the beginnings of Facebook’s newly diversified advertising strategy in response to that, following on from its monetisation of Facebook Messenger with sponsored messages in 2016.

Consumers continue to turn to Amazon first for product search

Every year, Google handles more than a trillion search queries, making it the world’s most popular search engine – something that will not exactly come as news to anyone who follows this website. But despite the existence of Google Shopping, when it comes to searches for products, Google is not the internet user’s first choice. According to analysts at financial services platform Raymond James, that honour belongs to Amazon.

It isn’t the first time we’ve heard this news, or something like it; in September 2016, Graham Charlton reported for ClickZ that 55% of all product searches begin on Amazon, and a survey of more than 1,000 US consumers by PowerReviews in June also found that Amazon came first in product search. However, the figures from Raymond James re-confirm the fact that marketers shouldn’t be ignoring Amazon in their paid search campaigns. Could it be that some of their PPC efforts should be redirected towards Amazon?

amazon ads

Image from Amazon Marketing Services

Why you should be questioning every part of your organic search strategy in 2017

When was the last time you really tore apart your search strategy and examined why it is the way it is? In 2017, Kevin Gamache is challenging Search Engine Watch readers to “make 2017 the year you question everything”.

In his article for SEW this week, Kevin lays out five fundamental questions to start asking about your search strategy, which cover everything from defining your approach to organic search to asking yourself who your customers are and how you want to target them. If one of your New Year’s resolutions was to take a fresh look at your SEO strategy, put this piece on your reading list.

AOL tries to lure leads with free wireless data

“AOL”. Just saying the name can give many of us flashbacks to the days of stuttering dial-up tones and a soothing female voice intoning “You have e-mail.” But in 2017, news about AOL is much more rare. Verizon purchased AOL for $4.4 billion back in 2015, and now, Al Roberts reports that the company is leveraging its wireless network as part of a new ad offering called BrandBuilder by AOL.

So what is this new “ad creative framework”, and what do Verizon/AOL hope to achieve with it? Al Roberts looks into the details of the scheme over on ClickZ, and considers whether AOL’s offering of free wireless data as an incentive will be enough to generate true engagement.