This year’s SearchLove San Diego included new and returning speakers whose talks covered digital marketing analytics and technical optimization, content and paid promotions, and…romantic comedies? It will make sense to you in a minute, I promise. Below are my notes from the 15 speakers of SearchLove San Diego 2018.
Dana DiTomaso: From Organization-Centric to Customer-Centric
We all know what marketing is (in theory), but Dana argues that often the marketing we end up doing looks like this:
- Management (or our client) decides something is important
- We agree (because we like having jobs)
We can get stuck report on metrics that don’t actually reflect if our marketing is making the business any more money. Our metrics also rarely reflect a focus on helping customers solve their problems as fast as possible, and we can forget to ask our customers what their problems even are.
Organizations tend to put themselves first, but that’s the old way of thinking. We need to be customer centric! Now more than ever, customers decide how they want to shop and interact.There’s tension between the journey your user wants to take compared to the journey marketers want them to take. So we need to change how we measure success: success isn’t measured in campaigns, its’ measured by if we can solve customer problems faster.
For example, we should move from measuring conversion rates on a form fill or purchase to:
- Measuring how fast an order arrives
- Measuring real reviews and positive mentions on social
Dana calls these “customer conversions”. If you make customer conversions your measurement of success, your front line/sales/ops people will have better goals—it will help them have more empathy when interacting with customers. If your sales and operations is held accountable to customer centric mentions, they will treat customers better instead of purely worrying about profitability. As an employee, you know your employer has your back to make decisions that are customer centric.
How can you define your customer conversions? Build persona stories.
Ex: “I am a daughter who wants to learn about foot care so I can take better care of my mom“. Use persona stories as a foundation for content creation.
Success metrics for this content won’t be the number of leads. They will be things like:
- Number of featured snippets. Use STAT to measure the number of featured snippets. Earning these means we helped the customer find their answer quickly! Ask yourself if you have featured snippets for all content stories. Look at how many impressions each piece of content gets in Google Search Console. Match up GSC data with featured snippet data from STAT in data studio.
2. Percentage of content consumed: Use Google Tag Manager to track events measuring if they read the whole piece of content. Look at number of sessions by the same user to measure when users come back to read later.
3. Facebook conversation rate: Use Rival IQ and add the community connector in Google Data studio.
These metrics are about how you are helping customers, not what you are getting from customers (and yes, they do make money).
What can you do next?
- Develop persona stories.
- Discover how those stories relate to something you can measure.
- Make decisions based on customer behavior.
Why do this?
- Customer expectations are higher than your ability to deliver.
- Customers are changing faster than organizations can keep up.
- Customers are spoiled for choice.
Rob Bucci: Featured Snippets: From Then to Now, Volatility, and Voice Search
Read Danny Sullivan’s post: Reintroduction to Featured Snippets
See Rob Bucci’s resources from his talks on Featured Snippets
Rob tracked 1 Million Keywords with high CPCs on desktop and mobile in the United States targeting English-speaking users. 31% returned featured snippets in November 2017.
Featured Snippet Rankings
- Recently, 4% of snippets were sourced from organic position 2 of search results
- Shopping boxes can push a snippet down the SERP
- eCommrece or current event terms can have featured snippet pushed down
- Organic rank of snippet URLs has dropped
- 60% of the time, PAA (People Also Ask) boxes appear after Featured Snippets in the second position
- You still need to rank on the first page to help secure a snippet!
SERP Features vs. Snippets
- 40% of the time there is a featured snippet, there will be a video either in a carousel or standalone
- There is a lot of overlap in intent: answering informational queries is done best by a Featured Snippet or video (but with a video carousel you have more competition)
- Featured Snippets and PAAs are BFFs
- Multiple snippets in are appearing in SERPs
- Use PAAs to inspire content. Map out a tree fo PAAs for a specific query. IF you’re interested in getting a snippet, chances are you’re also interested in other PAAs that appear.
- In November, we saw FS in local SERPs go from appearing never to appearing 1% of the time.
- Go on and find the link between local queries and featured snippets!
Featured Snippet Formatting
- Refresher: FS formats are paragraphs, lists, and tables
- We are seeing lists increase, and seeing tables decrease
- Digital assistants (Google Assistant, Amazon Alexa, Apple Siri, etc.) hate tables: it’s hard for search engines to display data correctly
Featured Snippet Volatility
In April, STAT tracked 1 million keywords. They then tracked all keywords that returned snippets (232,451 of them) for 19 more days. They noted volatility by tracking when: thee is a change in source URL for a FS, a FS disappears from a SERP, or a FS reappears from SERP (each change is 1 point).
- 68% of snippets displayed zero volatility, they appeared every day for 20 days with the same URL.
- 67% of volatility was a change of URL for a FS: Google will “shop around” for better content.
- Google will not usually take away FS from SERPs permanently
- 99% of keywords returned up to three different snippet URLs
- * *You will only see these changes if you’re tracking daily
Spotting Volatility on the SERP
- Volatility is also when Featured Snippets are changing format very often, usually format type and URL change together, so keep tabs on format flipping to help identify volatility of URLs
- As always, improve traditional organic rank for a better shot at snippet stability
Featured Snippets and Voice Search
- Digital assistants rely on Featured Snippets to provide authoritative answers that are easy to read out loud.
- The impact voice search is having on FS:
- Search engines have evolved to understand natural language queries compared to text searches.
- People won’t change how they search with their voice, they will search the way they speak.
- FS MUST understand and respond to natural human language to feed voice search.
- Over last two years, there has been an increase in number of words used in searches that produce featured snippets.
- “How” appears more than any other word. “does it” ,” where”, and others are common, and queries are formatted as full sentences.
- Digital assistants are good at taking spoken queries and translating them into written queries.
- Command vs. Query: DAs will take the command, “what are the best headphones for $100” and pull answers from the SERP for the query, “best headphones for $100”.
- Optimize for voice search by creating snippet content for long-tail, natural language queries.
- Search intent isn’t going anywhere. Better to know what someone wants than who they are. Identifying commercial, transaction, informational, etc. queries—that’s how you create content. But now it’s time to layer in semantic intent: Research the types of snippets appearing for your queries then format your content to match.
Words that produce mostly paragraph snippets: “does” and “cost”
Words that produce mostly list snippets: “best” or “how to”
Intents that produce the most table snippets: rates and abbreviations
Wrapping it Up
- Snippets show up a lot and are mostly stable
- The number of snippets continues to trend upwards
- Double-snippet SERPs appearing (for disambiguation)
- Snippets are a cornerstone of voice search
- Track featured snippets in your query space: what content is winning? what queries is it appearing for? which are volatile?
- FAQs are the low hanging fruit for most sites! Think: based on my personas, what types of questions will people ask? Then create content considering how you can make it easy for Google to answer those questions your audience has.
- The more your domain can pop up when they are researching anything related to you, the better. Build relationships and authority.
- Brand exposure and thought leadership. These are one more touchpoint where you can tie your brand to the problem they’re researching!
Alexa Hubley: Real Lessons in Growth Marketing… From Watching Romantic Comedies
Love Conquers All!
As marketers, we want customers to fall in love with us. This means driving engagement, retention, and loyalty.
Case Study: Unbounce’s Migration to an Annual Plan
They updated their pricing for a tool, but didn’t want to hurt customer retention in doing so. This update meant migrating current monthly customers to new annual plans—At the time only 2% of customers had annual plans. Annual plans promote a deeper commitment. The challenge here was to create value for monthly clients so they understood the pricing change, signed up for an annual plan, and remained loyal (in-love) customers.
This is where romantic comedies come in, and here are the three lessons in growth marketing from romantic comedies:
Intimacy: in marketing this is segmentation. With a segmented profile of customers, you can speak to each prospect as an individual.
Woo them: use humor. if you can make someone laugh, there is an emotional connection with them and anything you say beyond that is going to be more meaningful.
Build Trust Through Reciprocity: when customers are made to feel that they’re special, the likelihood that they’ll respond favorably increases dramatically.
The goal of this campaign was to move 10% of customers to annual plans, actual results were 21% of customers moving to annual plans and over 600k in revenue!
Justin Briggs: Video: Search and Discovery
Youtube is a search engine worth your time with 1.5 billion viewers (active users) with an average session duration of 1 hour.
- Justin pulled data across 100,000 videos
- Used YTcockpit: a tool for pulling data on YouTube SERP (it’s like SEMRush for YouTube)
*Disclaimer: The Problem with Correlations
- You don’t know if correlations are causal, and you don’t know if they are independent or dependent (outcomes vs inputs)
- They provide a good starting point though
Top Correlated YouTube Ranking Factors
- video views
- channel subscribers
- video comments
- channel views
- number of domains that link or embed
- percent fo positive ratings
- number of broad match keywords in descriptions
- number of broad match keywords in title
- estimated watch time
- exact match keywords can help: but 60% of results don’t use exact match
- some level of keyword usage is required
- top ranked videos have shorter titles
- succinct titles rank better (about 50 characters)
- in suggested videos, titles are truncated around 35-45 characters! Channels get the most views from suggested videos.
- 3% keyword density is sweet spot
- 300-350 words is optimal length
- very long descriptions perform worse
- succinct is better for YouTube!
- on desktop, the first three lines, or about 260 characters, are visible without expanding
- on mobile app, description is hidden
- use keyword optimized tags
- only 1/3 of videos are using them
- focused keyword tags perform better
- if there’s less than 200 characters in tags, no benefit is seen
- 200-300 characters is the sweet spot where we see returns
- BUT there are more pageviews for longer keyword tags
- use 2-3 word phrases for keyword tags
- optimize video with TubeBuddy (let’s you pull keyword tags for videos)
- *keyword tags: topical nearness/similarity of keywords increases factor weight (from the YouTube team at a recent conference)
- longer tags perform worse because they throw in off topic or too-broad subject matter
- lead with target tags, follow with related keywords, find overlap with popular videos (using TubeBuddy), and include one or two broader themed keywords.
These keyword factors vary with time: targeted tags have a considerable boost in video rankings during the first 12 weeks, then decays and the “freshness” benefit goes away. Before usage data is collected, YouTube uses on-page factors to determine related content. In the first couple of months you have disproportionate benefit before they shift to weighting usage data over the data you give them.
- channel keywords have a minor impact
- use at least 50 characters in channel keywords: grab video descriptions and put into a word cloud generator to get ideas
- use at least 300 characters in channel description
Channel URL & Name
- keyword usage in channel URL is helpful
- older videos tend to do better
- BUT there’s that rankings boost in videos less than 6 weeks old (freshness boost)
- then over 1 year, we start to see the benefit of video age
- high publication rates keep your videos in these zones (the freshness benefit zone as well as the video age benefit zone)
- trending queries weight freshness: QDF (query deserves freshness) results weigh channel authority, publication date, and recent watch time
- use tags for early cowatch benefits
- look for common keyword tags in first 48 hours to get on these trends
- CTR curve: highly ranked videos get a lot of views, and videos that get a lot of views are highly ranked…
- bump up your saturation and contrast in thumbnails to increase CTRs and video views
Video Watch Time
- more important than video views
- primary metric used to rank videos
- est. watch time = views x duration x retention x positive review rate
- strong positive correlation between watch time and rank performance
- ended up being 10th most correlated
- watch time is keyword specific: YouTube looks at watch time at a keyword level!
- watch time is to YouTube as Backlinks are to traditional search engines!
- optimize watch time by improving retention and publishing longer videos
Embeds & Backlinks
- use shares, embeds, and backlinks to populate the “Trending” feature
- videos ranked in first position had 78% higher embed rate
- more embeds improve average ranking
- watch time from video embeds are weighted same as on-site watch time
- embedded viewers are less likely to watch a 2nd video, though
- look at playlist parameter in embeds: you can choose what to autoplay after an embedded video!
- lowes.com does good text and video based content strategy
- create videos for pages that already have high organic search traffic
Videos Likes & Dislikes
- likes are also an outcome
- focus on viewer satisfaction
- percentage of positive likes by rank: better ranking has higher percentage of positive likes
- longer videos are well-liked (videos over 10 minutes do better, and maximum for well-liked videos is 16 minutes)
- short videos are disliked (videos under 2 minutes)
- very short videos get fewer reviews
- views by duration peak at around 4:26
- BUT watch time is more important than views!!
- duration is a good way to improve watch time: videos longer than 4:30 are effective at improving watch time
- if you’re making shorter videos, they will have to have substantially more views to make up for lack of watch time
- average duration of videos ranking in top 5 positions is 11:44
- YouTubers are intentionally padding videos to artificially inflate watch time
- BUT don’t make shitty 10 minute videos, use cuts and other transitions or relevant content to increase duration
- top videos get a lot more comments, obviously
- little ranking benefit after 1k comments
- correlates well with rank performance
- 1-2M subscribers of channels in the top position
- obviously, this can depend on topic
- these are high brand affinity users!
- subscribers help drive rankings
- to be a YouTube Partner you have to have over 1000 subscribers, you don’t rank well without being a partner
- Channels focused on a subject grow more effectively!
- don’t use your channel as a dump—make your channel focused on a topic
- you want to get over 10K channel views to get start growing rank momentum
- no correlation between videos and ranking on channel, but publish at least 100 videos to grow subscriber base
Basic optimizations are finite, and the algorithm follows the audience.
Remember lessons from the history of media consumption: we want our audience to watch us for longer, more frequently, and with higher levels of engagement and satisfaction.
Tom Anthony: An introduction to HTTP/2 & Service Workers for SEOs
What is http?
A protocol that browsers and servers use to communicate.
Anatomy of an HTTP/1.1 Request
GET /anchorman/ HTTP/1.1
http/1.1 200 OK
Body of html
Every request is for 1 file, whether it’s html, css, etc.
TCP/IP and HTTP
TCP is the road. It’s a networking connection between servers. The problem with TCP is that anyone can see the requests and responses with http. Which brings us to:
When you use https, your requests and responses can’t be seen by third parties. The protocol for http and https is the same though; the requests and responses work the same way. Http sounds great and https is secure. So why change?
Problems with HTTP and HTTPS:
- Small requests/responses still take time. Longer roads (TCP) means it takes more time to make requests and receive all the responses you need to load content on the web. Latency is the amount of time it takes for a server to respond to a request.
- Most pages are made of many files (many requests), and the number of requests to load a web page has increased. It’s not unusual to see 50-100 files making up a web page.
- Mobile connections increase latency by 500-100 milliseconds.
Every round trip takes time: once you have the html file, you make more round trips to get all remaining resources—one connection at a time. The browser opens more “roads”/TCP to get all resources, but you need to actually open up these connections. Opening a new road takes a new round trip. Requests line up waiting for roads to open. This is called head of line blocking.
To reduce latency, what do we do?
Sprite sets was an old idea. This was essentially gluing together a bunch of images so it’s one file necessitating one request and response. You would then use CSS to crop and display the part of the image block you need, each place you need one of those images. This is a pain for developers.
What about a CDN?
They move servers physically closer to the source making the request and reduce latency.
Multiplexing allows many requests per connection! Multiple requests and responses can be on a single “road” at the same time. There is no head of line blocking! All files can be fetched at once and there is a significant improvement in site speed.
- Requests look the same
- Response looks the same
- Response codes are unchanged
Http/2 allows ‘server push’. You send a single request, and if the server knows the html requires other assets, it can send them back with the html! Server push is not ready for primetime, though. It’s new and has some bugs. Also to note, http2 requires https.
How do you get it http/2?
- Your devs don’t need to do anything—the server does all the work.
- CDNs can do it for you! you can toggle and be on http2!
Does Google notice if we have http/2?
Googlebot doesn’t crawl http/2 so there won’t be a speedup in crawling metrics, but that’s not how Google gets performance metrics related to speed. Google uses Chrome User Experience Reports, so if your site is loading faster in chrome browsers, Google will know.
To Sum up HTTP/2
- It can be a quick performance win, and CDNs can make deployment easy
- You need to have already implemented HTTPs
- To check if you’re using HTTP/2, use Chrome Developer Tools, enable the protocol column, and look for protocol = h2 (or use this Chrome extension)
- spdy is http/2’s predecessor. It is being retired.
- To spot http2 turn on protocol column in chrome
- Be wary of cutting edge advice: server push is buggy
- Be wary of outdated advice: sprite sets=no, bundling js files=no
server->html file->css file, js etc.
Single Page Application Model:
server->stubhtml->main logic in js->css controls layout
There are two things that turn a single page application (SPA) into a progressive web application (PWA)
- JSON manifest file (blob of JSON with settings for PWA)
- Service worker: a script run in background separate from the webpage that enables background sync, offline functionality, and inteligent caching
Service workers can exist outside of a PWA too. But where do they live?
The browser checks the browser cache before making a request. If it hasn’t seen it before and it’s not in the cache, it sends a request. So if you “view source” or use the network tab in Chrome dev tools, you are seeing communication between the cache and browser, not server and browser.
Service workers sit in the browser and register requests. Every time a request is made, the service worker sends the request to the cache OR the service worker can make decisions based on requests to prefetch some stuff you might need and refresh the cache while current request is being fulfilled from cache. You can customize these actions for specific users.
Registering a Service Worker
- There’s a cog in dev tools network panel—that’s the service worker
- Use the application tab -> click on service worker
- OR go to chrome://serviceworker-internals/
Tips and Summing Up Service Workers
- ctrl-refresh(f5) bypasses service workers (manual refresh)
- Googlebot (and WRS) doesn’t user service workers
- Affects chrome user experience reports, though!
- To detect service worker changes: view source with JS-disabled
Mat Clayton: Site Speed for Digital Marketers
Why Care About Site Speed?
- 2010: Google confirms site speed is ranking factor
- 2018 Google confirms site speed impacts mobile rankings (again)
- Site speed directly impacts your conversion rates and your bottom line
- Googlebot will crawl more pages if your site speed is optimized
- time to first byte (response leaving the browser and coming back from server
- usually first html file
- Site speed can mean many things to many people:
- First paint
- First contentful paint
- First meaningful paint
- Time to interactive (TTI): you can use the page and click on elements
What makes up a website?
- Use loading waterfalls: webpagetest.org is a good tool
- These will tell you what your site is made up of
- Images really matter and make up around 60% of most sites
- When was it rendered and when does it become interactive? Pay attention to those two vertical lines in loading waterfall reports that tell you when these two events happen.
How to Measure Site Speed
- Will give you all the info (a click has happened, an event happened)
- Look at DNS which can measure the time of the response that you need
- Ask your dev to graph this for you
- Google Analytics
- Not super accurate
- will email you reports! Good for a baseline
Where to Start
- YSlow: browser extension that gives you an analysis
- Google PageSpeed: site and chrome extension
- Google Lighthouse: site and inbuilt in chrome
- Some issues with lighthouse: always in mobile view
- Gives you opportunities
http:// Connections and Requests
Before you open a connection you need to know where your customers are
Things to Try:
- anycast DNS: (AWS route53, CloudFlare, EasyDNS)
- Header compression
- Request priorities
- Server push – beta
NO domain sharing or sprites!
Things That Don’t Change (Static Assets): images, js, and css
- web pack
- CSS + JS: Concatenate and Minify
- more spaces equals a bigger file
- concatenate, and replace variables with single letters! (tools will do this to your files)
- Less code means less data to transfer and a faster site
- A developer has to do this: it’s going through and get rid of unnecessary code
Split Up Your CSS + JS into Multiple Small Files (advanced)
- This allows you to download more files in parallel and helps with caching
- Use YSlow, click on inspector, add expires headers, if it’s not there, fix it
- Ensure every file has a unique name look for size (from memory cache or disk cache)
- Reduces request latency
- Caching, reduces server load
- SSL termination done right
- HTTP2 support
- Compression/minify static assets
- BUT costs more (free plans available), provider dependency, etc.
How to Optimize html
- Reduce the number of html elements
- don’t need a div for everything
- less bytes to download
- Lazy load sections of the page
- parts of the page which aren’t immediately required or content critical
- Images are still the biggest problem
- BIG BIG WIN
- EaSy tO Do
- All you need to remember is, get the right type of image: raster or vector. Prefer vector when possible. SVGs are just simple XML files, they compress very well using gzip.
- If there’s no animation, use jpeg or png. if you need to preserve fine detail and high resolution, use png—all others should use jpeg.
- chrome only
- 30% savings for users with support
Ensure Raster Images are the Correct Size
- Big Big Win. Make sure images match the size they will occupy
- Retina images: ship multiple variants to solve for responsive rendering
Perception of Speed
- progressive JPEGs
- loading states: small preview photo that is a blur, creating the perception of speed while the full size image is loading
- Caching is important for CSS
- Optimize CSS includes
- CSS should be right above closing head tag so it can get started loading right away
- Remove any unused CSS: GitHub.com/uncss/uncss
- purify tool as well
- Minimal CSS rendering (super advanced)
- Styled components
- Optimize <script> positions
- Move to just above </body> OR make the scripts async, which makes it ok to put it in the head instead of body
REMOVE UNUSED TRACKING PIXELS
- At least ensure they are embedded using async so they don’t block rendering
- Reduce number of assets
- Reduce the size of assets
- Make the assets load faster (dns/caching/cdn)
- Orioritize order of assets
- Use http/2
Rand Fishkin: How Marketers Can Incite Hunger Rather Than Just Serving Food
This was Rand’s first time speaking as a non-MOZ employee.
- Ranking in position 1 has always been the goal for SEOs.
- Google is the biggest referrer of web traffic, according to jumpshot (jumpshot and similarweb have clickstream data)
- Searches are going up, and searches resulting in clicks are going down
- Instant answers displayed in mobile went up, that’s why clicks went down
- Organic: 90% of clicks, 10% of budget, paid is inverse
We mock companies for getting SEO wrong, but…
During sistrix March update, etsy lost. They saw 24% fewer pages in organic results day-to-day. To the rest of the world, however, etsy’s doing fine and growing. The top referring keywords for etsy are: custom jewelry, vintage toys, handmade candles, handmade furniture, AND ETSY. Etsy has bigger and better things going on for their business than organic rankings for non-branded keywords.
This works for small companies too:
- Crowd Cow
All of these companies have greater search volume for their brand than for the service they provide. Demand for these brands exceeds demand for their unbranded service: don’t sweat your rankings, sweat your brand.
There are two paths we can take: rank better in searches OR create more searches
4 Ways to Grow Demand Directly Through SEO
- search suggest
- related searches
- people also ask
- rank. solve query. earn loyalty
How to Create Demand Outside of the SERPs
- Associate your brand with a problem, experience, or need
- Create awareness of the problem/experience/need
- Amplify the problem/experience/need
- Make your brand visible at the right times, to the right people, in the right places
- Improve processing fluency and reduce cognitive load with simple, repeated messaging that ties together the need and the brand
A brand is a promise: when you see brand x, it means y attributes
Brand marketing is a coded message reminding you of the brand’s existence, reinforcing the brand’s colors, shapes, sounds, experiences, and feelings—nudging you to use the brand at the right time.
Before you reinforce branding you need a brand promise: we provide… evoke feelings… remind you of… we share the values of…
Everything should (subtly) reinforce the message. This includes emails, social, PR, product names, landing pages, blog posts, videos, SEO snippets, ad copy, etc.
- stop being so scared of controversy
- stop being so literal with language
- let the product do the marketing
- leverage customer affinities
- let customers advocate for you
- align influencers motivations with your own
Wil Reynolds: Power BI for Marketers: Make Big Data Easy Again
*Wil Reynolds step-by-step instructions on using Power Bi is on the Seer Interactive YouTube channel.
*Here is an older presentation from Wil on how to use PowerBi to improve search marketing and combining data sets from SEO: bit.ly/power-bi-all-day
So many algorithms go into making one SERP, how do you prioritize which opportunities to pursue?
Power Bi helps prioritize!
Things like competitor analysis and keyword research take too long, and we are often focusing on the wrong metrics—like sorting by volume during keyword research. Don’t do this. This isn’t using all the data we have access to. For instance, if Amazon appears in your SERP, it negatively affects CTR for all other results. Just because you rank on the first page for a head e-commerce term, doesn’t mean you’ll get the CTR you see in those curve graphs. These graphs are misleading. Too many other factors, including well branded competitors, personalization, and location, influence click-through-rate.
Broad-based best practices are becoming worst practices. We must get to industry-specific best practices.
Learn to use your data to make decisions using only the ranking factors that matter to you.
For example, in Power Bi take 20 (industry related) factors and see what is correlated.
Find what is possible and who your competitors are:
Wil took 10,000 converting keywords from PPC data, and he pulled 100 organically ranking URLs for each keyword, resulting in the analysis of a million URLS in Power Bi. This allowed him to see correlations and insights he never imagined. For example, the fact that his virus client competes with Pinterest in organic search.
It’s important to use paid data for these analyses so you can segment for all keywords that have ever converted for them. Moreover, CPC and search volume are not accurate from SEO tools. Use your actual GSC and paid data (impressions=search volume).
Depending on the competitors you discover, different strategies are necessary.
Some other analyses and insights Power Bi can help you discover:
- Take only converting branded keywords where competitors rank number 1. Decide whether you should go after them.
- Discover long tail keywords that generate conversions. Use number of conversions as a keyword label. This will inform opportunities to capitalize on lower competition but high value searches.
- Discover when ranking #1 is not worth it. For instance, which keywords have a different CTR in paid versus organic. Maybe paid is better for some keywords!
- You can create visualizations that plot groups of keywords based on multiple factors at a time: for example high converting paid keywords where our page is ranking well in organic and has a short (unoptimized) page title.
Don’t bring an opinion to a data fight.
Tips and final thoughts:
- CSVs are faster than XLS when working with this much data.
- PPC data is invaluable and provides real and accurate insight into the value of keywords
- Power Bi is free!
Sarah Esterman: Marketing Emergencies: A Survival Guide
Sarah starts of by clearing the air: There are no true marketing emergencies, this isn’t life and death.
How to handle an emergency:
- keep your cool-breathe.
- Be kind-choose your words.
- know the facts-be kinder to yourself. make a list about yourself, the situation, to help ground yourself and the reality of what’s happening.
- Don’t freak out-assess the situation by asking questions.
- what happened?
- how many people were affected?
- is there any $ to be lost?
- how would you feel in your customers’ shoes?
- what are the consequences?
- take action-ask “do I need to respond to this incident?”
Ways you could respond:
- fixing a thing
- email follow-up
- social call-out
- 1:1 customer relations
Lastly, learn from emergencies. Here are some questions to discover what you should take away:
- how was the response to the response (or lack thereof?)
- what went right?
- what went wrong?
- what would you do differently next time?
- how can you keep his from happening in the future?
*tip: acknowledge your hindsight bias and avoid the “should’ve”s
Gain perspective. For example:
The stars are so far away that looking at them is literally looking back in time.
Darren Shaw: Local Search Hacks You Probably Haven’t Seen Before
There are 6 main areas of local search:
- Google my Business factors (Darren does the survey now)
- Citation factors
- link factors
- behavioral (engagement)
- Primary category and additional categories. You can only see the primary category in search. To see competitors additional categories: go to Google Maps, view source, ctrl+f to search for primary category, and it will list all categories they have selected!
- Remove spammers: check the website for local pack competitor’s actual name, suggest an edit, and change their name. If you’re a local guide, your edit will get approved quickly.
- Hacking citations: Here’s a citation consistency short-cut—go into GMB and add secondary numbers that are appearing across citations instead of going around trying to update inconsistent phone numbers.
- Getting citations indexed: Sometimes services create citations but they aren’t indexed. Fix this by creating a page on your site with links to citation URLs. Link to it internally, fetch and render that page in GSC, and request indexing.
Hacking Your Website
- Getting review stars in SERPs for service pages and location pages. Learn to code it here. This doesn’t work on the homepage, must be original content, PA must be 25 or higher, internally link to with “reviews” or “testimonials” anchor, and try to get external links to the page.
- Sites have service pages that suck and look the same as everyone else’s, then a blog full of content that never gets seen. Amalgamate it together to make one super page. Be the best guide about your service in your city. Example: California child custody laws guide
Hacking Local Links
- It’s amazing what just a few local links can do
- They doesn’t have to have high domain authority: things like sponsorships are perfect.
- Link prospecting: one search to rule them all. Use the search intitle:sponsors “city name” and add this parameter to the end of the SERP URL: &num=100
- Export the SERP with Moz search bar for a list of potential sponsorships/backlinks.
- Getting keywords in your reviews is a positive ranking factor
- When asking for reviews, guide them with what to write in their review: where are you located and what service did you get, etc.
- Ask for Yelp reviews without asking… create a check-in offer, after they check in, Yelp asks them for a review!
- You can generate local packs that didn’t exist previously through keywords and reviews on Yelp
- If you offer incentives for Google reviews, reviews might all get removed
- FIND OUT IF YOUR COMPETITORS ARE INCENTIVIZING REVIEWS AND REPORT THEM.
- Incentivize the employees, not the customers: offer salespeople/customer-facing employees gift cards for positive user reviews.
- The difference-making local ranking factor is becoming engagement
- Google can see transactions: if they can see that plumber A has done 10x the revenue of plumber B, that may influence rankings.
- Google has Opentable data: they can see what restaurants are booked all the time
- They see Chrome browser data
- They see Google Maps data
- Foot traffic: Android devices with location settings enabled in Google Maps allows them to see customers physically at your business
- Which engagement metrics can we impact?
- clicks from search results
- clicks to call
- driving directions
- branded searches
- interactions on Google My Business
- Getting more clicks from search results:
- Optimize titles and descriptions for clicks
- Get the review stars in SERPs, get the clicks
- Emojis in your GMB business name (guidelines violation – use at your own risk)
- Getting more clicks-to-call on mobile devices:
- Write a compelling GMB description (new feature)
- Tons of glowing reviews=more calls
- Responding to reviews shows you care=more calls
- Have compelling photos and videos of your work on GMB
- Getting more requests for driving directions
- Link to this on contact page, email signature, footer, etc.
- Getting more people to search for your brand
- Use a link in your email footer and email newsletters to a Google search results page for the keyword you want to rank for “example law firm personal injury”.
- Sneaky: add a link to branded search result in high traffic content!
- In traditional marketing, tell customers to “just google us!” instead of offering a website URL.
- Get more interactions on GMB
- Add a booking URL (could be your contact page)
- Enable messaging feature
- Seed Q&A with questions, and get your friends to upvote yours
- Definitely use google posts!
- Look for what review sites rank high for your industry and get reviews from those
- Tweet @googlemybiz for GMB support. Their social team is great.
- See Darren’s summary here.
Ashley Ward: Reuse, Recycle: How to Repurpose Your Content and Make the Big Bucks
Create less, promote more.
Buffer is a social media management platform. Their experiment: let’s not create any new content for 4 weeks. They would repurpose evergreen content into ebooks & slideshows.
They did a content audit first to discover what was top performing, most shared, and had backlinks.
They chose 10 pieces of existing content and separated them out over 4 weeks.
Their results: blog traffic went down… a little. BUT:
- SlideShare views increased: they added 3 new SlideShares
- Referral traffic increased
- They had 2,397 ebook downloads
- They created 1 new email drip campaign
- They maintained a smaller than 5% drop in new unique visitors to the blog
All in all, it was a successful experiment. Here are rules to follow:
Republishing vs Recycling
Republishing: publishing the same piece of content but updating the info, images, or some of the content
Recycling: taking a content piece and reproducing the content into new forms of content
- don’t republish all of your content
- wait 2 weeks to republish content
- don’t change the URL if you are republishing
Running Your Own Experiment
- What are your content goals? Buffer’s goals: less than 5% drop in unique visits to the blog, 500% increase in SlideShare views month-over-month, 500% increase in Linkedin followers, etc. Different content achieves different goals.
- Audit your content: pros will be finding the most popular topics, format of content, authors, who you shared it/promoted, how long has it been live? Create a spreadsheet to track metrics: bit.ly/contentauditexcel
- Create your gem list: you don’t need to choose 10, whatever make the most sense for your brand and goals. Buffer chose 5 to recycle and 5 to republish. Republished content was best performing content currently. Recycled content were things like how-to content that would perform better as an infographic.
- Distribute wisely: content is king, but distribution is queen and she wears the pants. 84% of marketers are integrating content into marketing strategies, and they should leverage paid, owned, and earned channels for distribution. Then you play the waiting game.
Measure the Results
Define your key metrics: not all metrics are the same for all content types.
- key metrics for blog posts: time on page, website traffic, new users
- key metrics for podcasts: listening length, new subscribers, shares
- user behavior: SEMrush reports, SimpleReach, Chartbeat, FullStory
- engagement: social media platforms, SEMrush social media tracker, Mention, Brand24
- seo outcome: SEMrush, Majestic
- company revenue: track the number o returning users in GA, check CRM for new leads/existing leads, conversion rate
- don’t be afraid to update your old content
- turn text into video and audio
- put your content on SlideShare and Wuora
- turn old blog posts into eBooks
- think mobile first with your content (mobile devices are projected to reach 79% of global internet use by the end fo 2018, nearly 8 in 10 customers would stop engaging with content that doesn’t display well on their device)
Aleyda Solis: Moving URLs
When you get messages about a client that wants help with a relaunch, they are afraid, but they are planning ahead, so that’s good. It’s not just an opportunity to keep damage from happening, It’s an opportunity to improve what’s already there. Frequently these moves don’t take SEO into consideration.
The most stressful projects are after a bad migration when clients need help recovering.
Not all URL moves are equal, so it’s critical to establish first where you need to go and for what purpose. Are you:
- implementing hreflang?
- implementing non-canonical AMP?
- HTTPS migrations/website rebranding/international web consolidation?
Regardless, you always:
- plan and test
- validate & monitor
Plan and identify the affected URLs based on the moving scope:
- site level, category level, or URL level?
Review the URLs’ configuration, optimization, and ranking status to see what should be kept, changed, or improved. You know you should implement 301 redirects, update links, and update XML sitemap, BUT it’s also an opportunity to add relevant titles, improve navigation, improve thin or duplicate content, and improve site speed.
Once the project is defined, align and agree with the stakeholders to get approval, resources, and support for their implementation.
Tips for hreflang projects:
- sometimes the wrong country or language page of an international website is shown in search results. These misaligned search results will have worse rankings, CTR and conversions.
- always canonicalize different language pages to themselves
- don’t include URLs that are redirecting to others in hreflang tags
- use the accepted ISO 639-1 values for languages and ISO 3166-1 for countries as well as the specified tags formats
- add hreflang tags only on pages attracting rankings from non-relevant countries or languages you can find in GSC
- include tags in html (at start of code) for easier management and use xml sitemaps when you can’t change code or have too many (don’t put them in http header)
- if you need to implement them in xml sitemaps, organize them hierarchically to easily identify and fix issues
- validate hreflang implementation in a test environment before launching by using SEO crawlers like DeepCrawl or Screaming Frog
- Monitor any remaining issues through monitoring in GSC
- Use this hreflang generator
Tips for non-canonical AMP projects:
- original mobile pages are canonicalized to themselves with an amphtml tag pointing to the AMP version
- AMP version is canonicalized to the original version
- don’t implement AMP if it’s not relevant for your business and content
- your url isn’t shown in mobile search, the ones from Google’s AMP cache are, so you need additional tracking
- inconsistent UI between AMP and original pages will likely have a negative impact on the site user engagement
- redirect desktop users accessing AMP content to the responsive version
- in the future you will be able to obtain AMP benefits with non-AMP content
- whatever you choose, it’s critical to redirect visitors based on their user agent, as you do with independent mobile urls.
- Google requires AMP URLs to include the same content as canonical ones to be shown in SERPs
- the goal is to keep the UI, content, and functionality consistent when using non-canonical URLs
- this includes also the implementation of hreflang notations
- opt in for Google Analytics AMPclient ID API to correctly track AMP on cache
- validate errors in GSC
- she has a deck from amp conference 2018
International Web Consolidations, etc.
You might still need to move your site to https, you might be rebranding, etc. It’s critical to establish if it’s only a matter of a technical change, like with https, or if content is changing too.
- Technical: 301 redirect, update links, update xml sitemaps, update images & resources
- If it’s not just a technical update, but you are changing a business name or product name: 301 redirect to new domain, but update anchor text, etc.
- migrate urls with links
- make sure no 301s to 404s
- no 302s, 301s!
- crawl all affected urls using sitemaps, backlinked urls, GSC analytics, log summary, analytics, etc. and gather their SEO metrics like link popularity, traffic, views, etc.
- this will also allow you to identify orphan pages, to avoid missing nay important URLs
- Put the URLs in a csv and label as migrate or not and list the new url
- update settings in GA and GSC (GSC change of address and GA protocol, etc.)
- check and recheck 301 redirects
Brandy Lawson: Smarter Reporting with Data Studio
How are you demonstrating value? Our clients don’t witness us doing the job, so how do we communicate our value?
It’s not the tools, it’s knowing how to use the tools.
Why Do You Hate Reports?
- it’s hard to consolidate all that we’re doing
- it’s a time suck
- waste of energy
- no one uses them
Why Do We Need Reports?
- We are providing “invisible” services: magically a truck full of money shows up, right?
- SEO: doesn’t mean the same thing to our clients as it does to use
- is the phone ringing? that was us, and we need them to know that
- leading vs. lagging: show what’s happening now and how that ties in with what happens later
- client still doesn’t know what you do
Enter Data Studio: Google’s data visualization tool
- free for unlimited reports with any Google account
- it is in beta
Some templates to get you started:
- her template for monthly reports
- her dashboard template
- cut reporting time in half
- labeled information in a way that users actually understand: clients read reports!
- a lot more action, after two years of talk
Why Data Studio
- it’s automatically updated: less human intervention
- interactive: your clients can change timeframes, change sorting on tables
- Google loves Google, so their native data sources available are great: Google Analytics, YouTube, AdWords, Google Search Console
- BUT you can also add any other data source with CSV file
- community connectors are available
- very versatile
- templates are available so it’s easy to add new clients
Why Not Data Studio
- can be sluggish
Start Smart: don’t just go creating
- use google account with access
- easiest to start from an existing report, BUT
- set up data sources FIRST (trust her on this)
- set up data sources
- copy report template
- create report
- set it up with name, layout, theme
- report level items show up across pages
- you can bulk edit charts
- you can rename metrics
- you can copy and paste between reports
- layout helpers help with aligning and other formatting
- you can link and embed reports
- ctrl+click to open multiple reports in new tabs
- shift+click to select multiple items
- PDF – use Google Data Studio PDF export chrome extension
Ryan Charles: Newsjacking: How to Add to the Story and Earn Big Links in Real Time
Look at HARO: journalists have time to fill. Their job is to report on current events and sentiment of people about current events. You are giving them a “man on the street” video before they ask for one.
How do you spot an opportunity?
- train your mind-listen to and read lots of news everyday. Shift your lens.
- be on the lookout (hello Google Trends)
- who’s not covering it? See if you can fit their beat.
- An old, tired news story: what else can you offer
- A series
- Your client’s connection
How do you decide if you should go for it?
- do you have a connection?
- do you have an original angle?
- can you ship in 24 hours?
- can you offer value?
- are you risking your reputation?
- are you going to be a news jackass?
- personal connection
- relevant to what you do
- the competition
- if it feels like a stretch, it probably is
- sparks curiosity
- gets a laugh from just a headline
- imagine your potential newsjack as a headline
Can you ship it fast?
- it’s a race
- act fast to catch the wave, even if there’s lots of coverage
- smaller brands can take bigger risks than bigger brands
- benefits: brand awareness, links, money
- big brands get awareness and authority, where small brands probably won’t
- ways to mitigate risk: get feedback first from colleagues, friends, and family. Evaluate public opinion, and understand nuances of the story so you can take a stand (66% of consumers want brands to take a stand)
Don’t be a news jackass: one who misleads the media regarding a current event or one who trivializes or capitalizes on a current event without thought to the participants, or without backing their newsjack with value.
How to create a newsjack:
- fully establish your campaign
- have relevant content connected to story
- cover yourself legally
- have the next step or “layer of the onion” ready
How to pitch:
- journalists know what you’re doing: be cool
- get to the point
- let THEM form an opinion
- don’t forget to have the next layer of the onion ready
- start local: ripple effect that goes up the chain to national
- prepare for questions like “why are you doing this?” “have they taken you up on your offer?” “do you think it will work?”
Krista Seiden: Using Analytics to Drive Optimization and Personalization
Krista is an analytics advocate & PM for Google Analytics, at Google, obviously. Google has a policy of not sharing out their decks from presentations, which is why it’s not included here.
Many factors contribute to low conversion rates:
- user experience: slow, hard to navigate
- site content & personalization: is messaging geared toward conversion? are bespoke experiences delivered to different groups fo users?
- actionable web analytics: collecting the right data
- development resources: can you actually execute?
94% of marketers agree you need personalization, which can lead to a 19% uplift in sales
- analyze: dive into data to understand your users and find areas of improvement
- hypothesize: define a set of changes that could potentially delight your target users
- test: use a data driven approach to identify the best changes for your users
- personalization: continuously provide the ideal experience
Guidance for Analyzing Your Data
- use campaign tagging to distinguish variations
- email testing: test CTA buttons & links from email for different headline or email copy tests
- ad testing: use the utm_content slot to denote the ad feature (add to auto tagging) and add headline of that ad to see which headlines are driving conversions in Google Analytics
- social media: tag each post individually. you can even put timestamp in UTM params.
- use data layer to collect custom information
- such as “city: san francisco, pagesubcategory:italian” for when you are trying to analyze groups of content at a time
- understand site engagement: scroll tracking trigger
- with a simple trigger in google tag manager you can track scrolling!
- element visibility trigger: you can know when people have opportunity to engage with element and what that group of users does
- understand form engagement:
- category: location of event
- action: action the user took
- label: specifics about action
- your site can tell you what’s important
- site search
- heats can pinpoint areas to optimize
Personalization Maturity Framework
- mass scale: understand your audience in order to target the largest user groups
- specialization: target specific groups of users with specific experiences
- referral source: target your audience based on referral source
- actions: target specific audiences based on the actions they have taken on your site
Will Critchlow: From the Horse’s Mouth: What We Can Learn From Google’s Own Words
I didn’t take a lot of notes on this one because it was a more of a story than a presentation filled with tips and takeaways. You’ll see what I mean if you review his deck.
Check out Bill Slawski’s SEO by the Sea
The PageRank era was Google age of academic innocence. This was before Google was forced to produce more complex algorithms that were harder to exploit for rankings that sites didn’t deserve.
So how do we learn about Google’s algorithm and the direction in which they are heading? By following their patents and acquisitions.
You Should Read:
Post IPO-era: we can start understanding the algorithm through Google’s acquisitions.
Current acquisitions: dev tools/cloud platforms
*He says smart speakers are a red herring for search.
Tips for doing it yourself
- much of the official line is TECHNICALLY correct, but sometimes Google says things they want to make true (site speed, https, mobile friendliness, AMP, etc.)
- there’s lots hidden in plain site: patents, academic papers, forums, lawsuits, stock markets