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Should We All Stop Guest Blogging?

guest blogging

Some important figures say that we should stop guest blogging.

It all goes back to an announcement from Google’s Matt Cutts about how the links that you acquire through guest blogging will no longer be all that useful and could, in some cases, actually do some harm to your blog’s SEO practices.

Since then we’ve seen guest blogging change to the point where a lot of new bloggers feel like it’s too risky to do any guest posts at all.

I myself have opted out of things like “expert roundups” where a bunch of quotes are collected to make a big post about a certain topic, each person with a link back to her or his site (I’ll talk about that more below).

Let’s take a look at whether or not guest posting is still a valuable strategy, and how bloggers should approach it without getting stung.

What is guest blogging?

If you’re new to blogging it might be good to do a little introduction to the idea of guest blogging or guest posting and how the whole things works.

Basically this is where you ask or are invited to write a blog post on another blog, usually in the same niche/industry as your own.

As you can see in the little graphic below, you write a bunch of posts that link to your blog which then take readers to a landing page that sells a product or promotes a mailing list.

guest blogging

Initially guest posting sprung up as a way to get new content on your site; you’d invite an expert to write about a topic that you didn’t fully understand and as such your readers would get new perspective.

This was a very organic and honest set up and, along with great new content, you, as the blogger, would often acquire a new audience as your guest author shared the post that they did on your site with their own followers.

So where did guest blogging all go wrong?

My own feeling is that guest blogging all started to go wrong when bloggers figured out that they could get backlinks from these posts and, as such, cause their Google rankings to become artificially inflated.

For a little while it was as simple as landing a guest post on a relevant site, including a link with rich anchor text in the article and then, after a while, you’d start ranking for the keywords in that anchor text.

It was rife with manipulation.

And the problem really became obvious when entire industries popped up around the idea of paying for links in posts. I remember back in college my friend and I would stay up late on a site called PayPerPost (I don’t want to link to it) and dig around for opportunities where some company would pay you $10-$100 for a 500-word article on your site that contained at least one (and often more) backlink to a site that was only barely relevant to yours.

Google then went and absolutely crushed that industry back in 2007 by removing page rank for a lot of pay per post bloggers and, since then, everyone has been making more and more algorithm changes to determine whether or not guest posts are allowable, valuable, or even ethical.

Here is the video with Matt Cutts mentioned at the top of this post:

Of course bloggers didn’t stop guest posting. In fact, if you look at statistics about the number of blog posts in the world I am confident that it would be bigger and bigger every year as more people start blogging and more people look for promotional methods.

So what’s the situation now?

Should we stop guest blogging altogether?

Guest blogging is not even close to dead.

In the last couple of months I’ve done a guest post on Bluehost and one over on the Jeff Goins blog about how Artificial Intelligence might change our online careers over the next few years.

But there is one qualification: it’s not about building links anymore.

When I think about a guest blogging opportunity I am always thinking about tapping in to a new audience that I think might benefit from encountering the content on Blog Tyrant.

So, really, what guest blogging is about now is getting more quality email subscribers on your mailing list.

While there are some very smart bloggers who like to call Google’s bluff on the whole links issue, even they are being very clever and careful about how the acquire those links and, generally speaking, a guest post is a pretty obvious flag to a search engine robot.

Of course link building is still important, but the old way of landing guest posts (or paying for them…) and then adding some rich anchor text is probably a little bit too dangerous to be useful from an SEO point of view.

How to successfully guest blog in to the future

I encourage everyone reading this post to continue to try and land as many relevant guest blogging opportunities as possible as they are a fantastic way to find new, relevant traffic. Here are a few tips on how to approach guest posting in the future:

  • Keep it relevant
    As Google’s algorithms get more and more sophisticated I think one of the things we’ll see is more frequent penalties for things that aren’t relevant. When you really consider it, it’s irrelevant materials that looks like spam. So, if you’re a finance blog doing guest posts on dog training websites I think you’ll expect that those links will be useless at some point.
  • Make sure it’s all unique
    Another major signal for Google is that guest posts are unique and useful. The idea here is that you should really be only writing about a topic on a guest site if you can offer some sort of unique perspective that the owner cannot. This helps to show that it’s not at all a paid arrangement, which is part of where I think the expert roundups start to look a bit suspect.
  • Consider using nofollow links
    If you are really concerned about some links in your guest posts you can always ask the site owner to make sure the nofollow tag is included on them. This is a pretty safe signal to Google that you aren’t doing the posts for SEO purposes but they will still, of course, send through all the traffic.
  • Have a wide variety of platforms
    It’s also a good idea to not just do guest posts to other blogs in your industry. You can also get featured on things like podcasts, videos, slide shares, Facebook posts, and so on. Some of these are “safer” from an SEO point of view and also teach you valuable marketing lessons about finding traffic from new sources and how those relationships work.
  • Link to different properties
    Another important concept to experiment with is the idea of linking to more than just a few posts on your blog. Of course, you can link to your root domain, but why not also link to your own podcast and social pages, or directly to a tool or video that you’ve made and see if you can send that viral.
  • Monitor results closely
    Lastly, you want to make sure you track all of these results in Webmaster Tools and elsewhere to ensure that they are having the right effect and traffic is going up over time. There are also dozens of tools that you can use to see whether you might be doing some SEO damage.

The main thing with all of this type of activity is to keep reading and then testing to see whether the information you have is working for your blog.

Sometimes there is a really big lag on these types of things and as such you have to be quite careful about how you monitor it. Sites like Moz and Ahrefs and Backlinko are all good places to start.

How is your guest blogging going?

Do you spend a lot of time and energy on your guest blogging efforts? I’d really love to know how it’s going for you and whether any of these concerns have been popping up on your radar. Feel free to leave a comment below and we can all have a big chat about it.

Top photo © Intararit

Copy: Decoding the Google Answer Box Algorithm – a SERP Research on 10.353 Keywords

Last time we looked at the Google’s Answer Boxes, we came up with quite a handful of interesting observations. However, we couldn’t quite give you the best explanation of what it takes to get your website on the position zero, as some named it. We gathered you needed to be regarded as an authority site, but what does that really translate into?

The most exciting phrase to hear in science, the one that heralds new discoveries, is not ‘Eureka!’ but ‘That’s funny…’ – Isaac Asimov

So we set out to find out more about the issue, only this time with a more scientific outlook on things. This meant that, while we could still look at only some examples, we could make the sample much bigger. What’s a big enough sample? Well, in statistics a couple of thousands is usually enough. So just to make sure, we looked at about 10 000 keywords. Of course, we didn’t have one person (or more) look at every scenario, but rather we devised an algorithm that would do the job for us.

 

The algorithm did automatic keyword research. It looked for phrases such as “what is…” and “who is…”, adding just one letter after the phrase ( “what is a”, “what is b”, and so on up to “what is z”) and taking into account the autocomplete suggestions (since those are supposed to be most popular searches, therefore the ones most likely to elicit answer boxes).

 

To have a standardized cutoff point, we only took into account the first 10 autocomplete suggestions for each generated keyword. Using this method to extract the keywords we selected a sample of keywords that are most likely to return answer boxes.

Google Answer Box Appearance Ratio on 10k Keywords

This foray into the search engine came up with about 10 000 search terms (10 353 to be more precise). Of those, only 1 792 returned answer boxes, which is roughly 17% of the total number of searches. So the first straight observation is that the percentage of search results with answer boxes out of the total number of search results is fairly small.

 

We can say that this claim is true in general, since our sample size of 10 000 is enough to extrapolate for a population of pretty much any size with a high confidence level. While this may sound pretty unbelievable, that’s just how statistics works. Admittedly, we haven’t really been using a perfectly random sample, so let’s just say that the claim we made earlier is true of all searches that could potentially yield an answer box: off all that could, rather few actually do.

Google Answer Box Appearance Ratio

 

Google Answer Box Types

We have already established previously that answer boxes are a certain type of rich answers and can come in many shapes and sizes. Also, there are different methods to trigger the answer box. Theoretically, answer boxes are triggered by the featured snippet you set, but there’s not a fact. Mostly Google selects what info considers it is relevant for a specific query. So we instructed the algorithm to also figure out what kind of answer box it received.

 

Most of the answer boxes included definitions or descriptions that were the result of various website extractions; they were 1 236, which amounts to almost 69% of the answer boxes. Which means that all the other types of answer boxes – Web Definitions, Video Widgets, Google Widgets (conversions, maps) or Google Dictionary Definitions – taken together amount for less than a third of the answer boxes. But this is good news for SEO. If you mark up your content with structured data you’ll be able to appear in google’s answer boxes. Google’s natural language API helps webmasters to find all the entities from their website and get more rich snippets , better click through rate and maybe some answer box integrations.

 

If the answers only consisted of Google widgets, Google definitions or web definitions, you would have little to contribute to the landscape. As things are now, your website could be the source of a definition or description for the vast majority of the answers in the box.

Extracted Google Answer Box Types

 

Before continuing, let’s clear up a bit the definition’s types, as they appear in the answer box.

Google Dictionary Definition

Google Dictionary was an online dictionary service of Google, originating in its Google Translate service. The Dictionary website was terminated on 2011 but after that, part of its functionality was integrated into Google Search and now it looks like it’s integrated in the paragraph snippet. When it provides the direct answers from the Google Dictionary, you won’t see any URL near the generated content. It answers the question and it kind of gives you the feeling that Google “knows for sure” that the info is accurate and doesn’t need to give any extra explanation.

Google Dictionary Definition

Google Widget

Google has quite an impressive and helpful number of widgets, including translating, weather, driving directions or currency converter services. These widgets really improve the user’s experience, sparing him lots of clicks and time invested. For instance, if a user needs to find out how much  300 meters mean, reported to kilometers, a user doesn’t have to go on several sites to find out how much one meter mean and multiply it by 300. All he has to do is “ask” Google “how long is 300 meters” and he will get his answer instantly.

Google Widget Definition

Google Video Widget

Also, if you want to impress your friends with some new move dances or you are looking for a particular type of moves that you want to reproduce, Google understands this need and gives you a video result directly in the answer box.

Google Video Widget Definition

Google Web Definition

The quick answer boxes provided from the web definitions are quite a basic way of generating the information extracted from URLs with Glossary and dictionary words. These kind of definitions rely neither on entities nor on a dynamic process of extracting data but rather a static procedure is involved. Although there are a high number of answer boxes coming from web definition, they are not always the best answers that Google provides, time and again providing inaccurate or unrelated data.

Google Web Definition

Google Web Extraction

The definitions provided in the answer box from web extractions are, as we will see later on, more reliable, more dynamic and more accurate than the web definition. They usually come from sites that have high authority and also include the search query on their site. For instance, in the example below, if we want to find out what an atom is composed of, the answer box extracted the information from education.jlab.org/qa/atom.html . As we follow this site, we will see that on the landing page we will have a dedicated content to this matter, with the matching title “What is an atom? What are atoms made of?”

Google Web Extraction

Unique Domains Used for Data Extraction

It seems that in the world of the search engines the rich get richer. When we analyzed the answers that were extracted from websites, we found out that they only came from 342 websites. So on average about 3.6 answers per website. But averages can be deceiving and in this case they actually are. Of those 342 websites (mainly , Wikipedia, dictionaries or Glossary) not all got the lion’s share.

Unique Domains Used For Data Extraction Google Answer Box

Top 10 Ranking Position Distribution in the Organic SERPs for the Answer Box URL

Of the many factors that might influence the “distribution”, one that comes to mind almost instantly is the SERP ranking. So we split the websites according to this criteria, and look and behold, websites that were found on the first position in the organic results accounted for a third (33%) of all answer box information. The top 5 pages accounted for more than three quarters (77%) of the answers.

 

There was just 1 answer out of the total 1 236 that came from a page not in the top 10 (statistically, that’s less than 0.1%). So rankings matter. And while you would be right to suggest that the relationship implied by this correlation may be more complicated here than what we are seeing from the numbers, you’d be taking a pretty serious chance to bet on being that 1 case in 1 236 that doesn’t need to be up high in the rankings to make it to the answer box. Or, to quote XKCD “scienc-y” web comic creator Randall Munroe, “Correlation does not imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there.’ ”

Answer Box Extraction URL SERP Distribution

Trusted Sites Distribution in Google Answer Boxes

In all fairness, we are inclined to cut you some slack and say that it’s not necessarily (or solely) the SERP rankings that matter, but that’s only because the SERP positioning might simply be an indicator of some other measure of your website’s quality: referring domains. This is a case where more is actually more and better. Domains that provide answer boxes with more than 10 000 referring domains are exactly half of all domains that represent answer sources.

 

Interestingly enough, a lot more answers (twice the number) come from domains with between 1 and 5 000 referring domains than from domains with between 5 and 10 000 referring domains. That may very well be, though, due to the arbitrary split or due to a lot of the values being around the cutoff point. Despite this, however, the 1 K mark is a fairly good predictor: more than 80% of all answers come from places that have 1 000 referring domains or more. But that means there’s still a reasonable chance of popping up in answer boxes even with less than that. However, if you drop under 100 you are on your own: less than a 3% chance of hitting the jackpot.

Trusted Sites Distribution Google Answer Boxes

Google Answer Box Crawl – No. of Results based on Words per Page Intervals

In fact, how the information is structured may have a lot to do with your chances of being considered a trustworthy source for answers. A helpful element is having a title that is roughly the same as the question and an answer that immediately follows the title. That speaks to the structure part. What about rich content? This is where, unlike before, less is actually more. Pages with less than 2 000 words (the rough equivalent of 5 pages typed in Times New Roman, font size 12, single spacing) account for close to 70% of all answer boxes.

 

As the number of words grows larger, the number of answer box results shrinks: 20% for pages with between 2 000 and 5 000 words, 5.5% for pages with between 5 000 and 10 000 words and only 2 percent for pages with over 10 000 words! Whether adding information automatically makes it harder for Google to look at that page for answers, or it simply makes it harder for us to keep things simple and straightforward, one thing is certain: leaner is better.

Google Answer Box Crawl Words Intervals

Google Answer Box Characteristic – Title vs No-Title Answer Boxes

As you’ll go around searching for different queries on Google, you might notice that there are two types of answer boxes, if we take into consideration the title: answer boxes which have a title and answer boxes which don’t have one. Just like in the case of any piece of content, the title can make a great difference. Let’s take a look at the screenshot below!

Title vs no TItle Google Answer Box

We are not talking only about the title’s purpose to garner attention and entice people to start reading your content. But about the basic purpose of titles: functionality. Beyond all, people need to know what the content is about. From all the analyzed answer boxes about 30% have a title, while the rest provide the information directly in the box, without any other introductions. Is a title beneficial? It definitely is as it highly improves the user’s experience. With a majority of “no title” answer boxes it is not exactly at hand saying that Google is on the right track with this matter. Yet, things might change in the future and having 100% titles in answer boxes in a couple of years might not be far from the truth.

Google Answer Box Characteristic Title vs No Title

Answer Box Stability and Freshness

There seems to be quite a lot of hard work you need to do to get into the much coveted answer boxes. But the reward is likely to pay off, perhaps even in ways that were not necessarily intended. We are no further still into the “that’s interesting” territory. The interesting thing being that the answer box functionality seems to be rather static and that once a website gets there, it might be a long time before it is removed. Not even, say, the website going down will shake the answer box. This turned out to be the case for a variety of queries, such as “what are lr14 batteries”, “where to buy plan b”, “what are k1 tax forms”, “what is seo spam”, or even “who is john endler and what did he study” (vertebrates, he studied vertebrates). So there is a very slight chance that an answer box will buy your website a little bit of post-mortem remembrance.

Expired Domains Rank No.1 in Google Answer Boxes

Being in the SEO industry and trying to make our way through all the Google’s guidelines, we are often asked “what is a natural link ?” We’ve tried to give the best answer to this question but what better place to ask about this than Google? Yet, as we tried to figure out what the exact definition of the Google friendly links was, the answer box failed to provide us with  such a rewarding explanation. What is even more interesting is that when we tried to follow the link from the answer box for more info, we stumble upon an expired domain: wordpressseomarketing.com.

Web Definition Broken Unregistered Site
Being imbued by the “researcher’s fever”, we decided to buy this domain and analyze the ranking data we may get from Google.

Registered The Domain

Even if it was dropped, this link stayed in the answer box from 16 May until 6th of July. This means almost two months while an un-registered domain ranked number 1 for the “what is a natural link” search query. And it would have probably stayed even longer if we haven’t bought it. Quite ironic, isn’t it? Google, the great unnatural link “slayer” providing us a broken link on the top of its results, trying to explain us what a natural links is.

Unregistered Registered Method

We decided to re-create the page based on its previous content and remove any extra data. So, with the help of WayBackMachine we extracted the content of that page and recreated it exactly.

WayBackMachine Information Extraction

 And this is the content that was put on the site based on the previous content that was there years ago.

SEO Terms Example

What is left to do now (beside enjoying the quality of the owner of a website listed in the answer box)? Track the traffic and enjoy the ride. We are still analyzing this site’s situation and as we gather enough valuable information, we will let you know what happened with our mentioned answer box expired site in the Answer Box results.

Watch Traffic Roll In

But some website definitions bring out even more issues as not only they hit the jackpot, they do so multiple times. Wikipedia’s entry for “Search engine optimization (SEO)” brings all the SEO-related curious people to its yard. It’s the source for no fewer than 14 answer boxes, including, information for questions such as “what is seo expert”, “what is seo consulting”, “what is seo industry”, “what is seo definition”, “what is seo marketing” and more. But do not be fooled by this “rich and well structured” content that provided so many answer boxes. What really happens is that for all the mentioned queries, even if it’s about SEO expert or SEO marketing, we are provided with the same, identical answer box. Not so impressive anymore, right?

 

Then again, there is a much greater chance that this static character of answer boxes will impact you negatively, since it will prevent your perfectly well-functioning website from entering the ranks because some defunct authority no one even knows if it exists anymore is taking up the space.

Website Extraction vs Website Definition Answer Boxes

I invite you to take a look at another interesting finding, regarding the Website Definitions.

It looks like none of the URLs for website definitions are found in the top 10 SERPS.

For instance, for the search query “what is a link description”, the URL suggested in the answer box, http://www.sparkbb.com/free-forum-articles/forum-terminology.php,  is not to be found in the first 10 pages of results. This raises two legit question:

  • how can a site that Google doesn’t consider worthy to be listed in the first 10 results  be given as a resource in the answer box
  • shouldn’t we worry about the quality of the information found in the answer box, given this situation?

 

As we analyze other answer boxes extracted from web definitions we find out that the majority of them seem to be low quality and sometimes even unrelated. Let’s take for instance the query “what is 360 link”. Even if the web definition provided by the answer box comes from Wikipedia (where 51% from all web definitions come from), it cannot be found in the top 10 results. Even more, the content provided is unrelated and has a commercial flavor (it refers to a product from the ProQuest company). This is the exact opposite of what John Muller from Google said  about “branding” the answer boxes:

we need to watch out […] so it doesn’t turn out to an advertisement for a web site but rather that it brings more information to the search results about this general topic.

Thereby, having so many issues, answer boxes generated from Web Definitions don’t look very reliable. Yet, in the case of website extraction things are more settled and we don’t encounter the same problems. Judging by the fact that the data are shown differently, we can assume that the extraction from web definitions vs Entity Extraction done using the Knowledge Graph is made totally different. The Website Extraction seems more precise while the Website Definition seems more basic.

 

Nevertheless, mysterious are the ways of Google but equally determined are the people from cognitiveSEO to find out answers. As we browsed so many queries with answer boxes, we identified a pattern in the web definitions extraction. It looks like the majority of definitions that are not coming from Wikipedia have a similar URL pattern using the words “glossary” or “dictionary” ( and other variations).

Google Website Definition Characteristic Patternable Words

Google SERP Re-crawl – 1 Week Later

As we tried to keep things as accurate as we can and assure ourselves and our readers that the data used in this research are representative, we’ve re-run the analysis one week later after the initial research was made. The results made us think even more about how the answer box algorithm really works (as we weren’t already) but confirmed in the same time the correctness of the initial investigation. After this re-crawl on the 10.353 keywords taken into account, we found 120 new answer boxes, 127 disappearances and 13 answer boxes with their status changed. From the new answer boxes, a large majority (about 80%) are Web Extractions and just a few are Google Widgets. Judging by the fact that for our sample only, we found more than 100 new answer boxes we might say that answer box is a growing “industry” and Google might offer answer boxes in short time for more queries.

 

Let’s move a bit our focus on the disappeared answer boxes. The reasons of the 127 dissolutions might be multiple and we cannot be 100% sure what really happened. But we have some well-funded assumptions. The first one would be that Google is making some A/B testing. It’s very likely that the big G is taking into consideration the bounce rate, the click through rate, the user’s experience overall and choose to keep or remove the answer boxes depending on these factors. I think that they are actively doing A/B testing on the Google Answer Boxes because sometime they appear sometime they do not for the same search. Google is doing a lot of testing in the SERPs and with answer boxes being such an important part of it right now, they might apply the same tactics.

 

Our second supposition is based on a situation that we meet quite often: Google is not always returning the same results for the same search query, answer box included. Meaning that for the same “ what is…” query, keeping the same coordinates of the search, sometimes we received an answer box and sometimes we didn’t. Thereby, this mysterious vanishing of the 127 answer boxes may originate from here.
As for the answer boxes with a changed status, we can see that a very small number underwent modifications. Most of these few adjustments concern transformations from Web Definitions into Google Widgets and vice versa.

1 Week Google Answer Box Changes

 

Conclusion

Google Answer Boxes might be quite controversial as the Google Search user interface lets Google’s users view and copy content without visiting the content provider’s website. In addition to losing organic traffic, webmasters might be also a bit “upset” with the fact that their perfectly well-functioning website doesn’t appear int the answer box while some broken site that doesn’t exist anymore is taking up the space . Double-ouch for Google answer boxes!

 

Yet, we cannot help ourselves from seeing things from the user’s point of view. If the answer box has accurate information, they provide the user with a better usability by sparing him  another click or providing a shortcut to the final action he needs to do. If, for instance, you urgently need to make a payment and you want to know how much  127$ is in Euros, all you have to do is “tell” Google to “convert 127$ to euro” and you’ll have the result in an instant. Not long ago, for the same operation you needed to consult a currency exchange site and after that manually calculate the amount you were interested in.

 

Having 80% of the newly emerged answer boxes , on our second analysis, coming from Web Extractions, gives webmasters quite a new breath. Judging by this information, we can say that Google is looking more and more at the definitions provided by high-quality websites, giving webmasters the chance to have their site mentioned in the first row, above all the search results. As we shown previously, answer boxes extracted from websites are more accurate and provide the user with a better experience. Thereby, Google taking more into consideration various websites as a source for the answer box is a win-win situation.

 

As we mentioned in this blog post, there are several issues with the answer boxes. The most important we feel the need to emphasize are the fact that the results generated are quite static and sometimes not relevant, even though they are mostly reserved for high quality sites. These issues can be a big enough obstacle for webmasters that wish and (maybe) deserve to be listed in the answer box. It is indeed a hard working process but not an impossible one. Proving Google that your site is trustworthy and an authority in the field it’s way harder to be done than to be said but it pays off on the long term. Moreover, following some tips that we came up with in a previous post on how to optimize for the Google Answer Box might be also really helpful.

The post Copy: Decoding the Google Answer Box Algorithm – a SERP Research on 10.353 Keywords appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Does the Google Interstitials Penalty Impact Your SEO Efforts?

Since the mobile intrusive interstitial ad penalty from January 10h, 2017, there has been a lot of fuss on pop-up, banner and interstitial ads. Google itself announced it will devalue webpages  that use intrusive pop-up and interstitial ads in mobile search.

 

Is this the end of those types of ads? Is there a Penalty for them? What does Google have to say?

Be patient and you’ll find the answers to all of your questions regarding this topic. Today.

 

Do popups interstitials or banners impact seo

 

In the following minutes, you’ll find the differences between all those types of ads we mentioned before: pop-ups, interstitial ads, and banners. Next, we’ll go on with the statements Google has made on this subject, whether there are penalties, updates and whether the ads affect SEO.

 

We’ll also see what other experts and specialists in the industry have discovered and experienced during the updates Google made regarding the ads.

 

In the end, we’ll find out if there are Google penalties and if we can prevent them and how.

 

Get your snacks and drink and enjoy reading one of the tastiest topics and flavored blog posts about the impact of pop-ups, banners, and interstitial ads on your SEO.

 

  1. What Are the Differences Between a Pop-Up, an Interstitial and a Banner Ad?
  2. Google Is Looking for a Positive User Experience
  3. What Do Experts Say About the Interstitials Impact on SEO?
  4. Are Interstitials Hurting Your SEO?
  5. Do Intrusive Ad Penalties Really Exist?
  6. How Can You Prevent an Intrusive Ad Penalty?
 

1. What Are the Differences Between a Pop-Up, an Interstitial and a Banner Ad?

First things first. Let’s start with the banner ad. It is a form of display advertising because of the visual nature of the banner.

 

Intrusive Banner Ad

 

Usually, it doesn’t interrupt the user, but if it is very big and flashy, it might cause him to lose focus on the content.

 

Pop-ups, on the other hand, appear over the content but do not interrupt the user immediately. Look at the example in the next picture.

 

Pop-up

 

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a pop-up refers to something that appears suddenly or unexpectedly. A pop-up ad is another form of online advertising and it is designed to attract customers and generate traffic.

 

Interstitials have the same purpose as the previous ads, to promote and advertise. But, unlike the pop-up and banner, the interstitial interrupts the user and hampers the normal flow of content.

 

Just take a look at the next picture to understand how:

google-app-install-ad-format

Source: marketingland.com

 

One of the biggest sites on the web has been using these types of interstitials for quite a while now.

 

I bet you all know Forbes, right? Well, the website has an interstitial that opens every time you click on a link that points you to its content.

Forbes interstitials

 

Whenever you click on a link that redirects you to Forbes, there is this page waiting for you before you see the content you want.

 

They use it to push content and advertise products or services to the forefront of a user’s experience. In term of SEO, it increases the CTR and the time on site. They are really annoying and not at all user-friendly.

 

There are other types of intrusive advertisements that manipulate the user.

 

If you take a look at the next screenshot, the whole background is a full page background ad.

 

Clickable background

 

There is a high chance for the user to mistakenly click on it and be whisked off the website and the original content to the advertiser’s site. It is annoying, for sure. These types of ads turn out to be extremely aggressive.

 

Deceptive full page ad

Source:www.gsqi.com

 

2. Google Is Looking for a Positive User Experience

It all started in 2012, when Google began to devalue websites with too much ad space above the “fold”.

 

Then, in 2015, Google announced it would be downgrading sites that show annoying full-page ads prompting users to install mobile apps. The Google’s App Interstitial Giant Ad Penalty went live in November 2015.

 

Until now, Google has continued to keep an eye on the different intrusive advertising formats on the web that have a negative impact on the overall experience on the website. 

 

 

January 19, 2017 is an important date to remember. Starting on that day, Google has penalized websites that have content which is not accessible to the user in the transition from Google mobile search results. This update is meant to help users easily access content on mobile. 

 

Google gives a statement on the Webmaster Central Blog regarding this update:

As we said, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking and the intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.

Intrusive mobile interstitials are frowned upon by Google. After this update, a diagram was posted on the blog pointing out to those on the blacklist to be targeted in the future.

 

google-interstitial-examples

Source: webmasters.googleblog.com

 

Google also provided a few examples of interstitials that would not be affected by the new signal, if they are used responsibly and don’t make content less accessible.

 

Interstitials that can be accepted

Source: webmasters.googleblog.com

 

In the Rater Guidelines, Google has an entire subchapter about Distracting/ Disruptive/ Misleading Titles, Ads, and Supplementary Content.

 

Google penalizes websites that do not match users’ expectations after they click on a link, only to find something else on that page.

 

There are 2 situations when ads are considered disruptive:

1. Ads that actively float over the main content as you scroll down the page and which are difficult to close. It can be very hard to use the main content when it is actively covered by moving, difficult­ to­ close ads and these are considered to be disruptive. – Google

 

2. An interstitial page which redirects the user away from the main content without offering a path back to the main content is considered to be disruptive. – Google

Besides those, there are many other reasons why ads are distracting and misleading and you can learn more in the Rater Guidelines.

 

As mentioned on the Google Webmaster Central Blog, at first Google analyzed interstitials that ask users to instal an app on smartphones. As they started to dig deeper into this issue, they thought that it was mandatory to explore the interstitials in general.

 

Now, the check for app install interstitials is incorporated into the new signal in Search.

 

Just a few weeks ago Google took the first decisive step. It has started sending emails to a thousand online publishers warning them that they are showing “highly annoying, misleading or harmful” ads, according to a source from Ad Age.

 

Google is part of the Justice League-type group within the Coalition for Better Ads born with the purpose of offering and improving consumer’s experience with online advertising.

 

In March, the coalition asked 25,000 people in the U.S. and Europe to rate 104 different ad experiences on desktop and mobile. A shockingly high percentage (97%) of desktop violations included popup ads. Just over a half (54%) of mobile sites were flagged for the same thing. According to Google, 21% of mobile websites were in violation for having a high ad density, which means that more than 30% of a page comprises ads.

 

Since we were talking about Forbes, you should know that they are amongst other big publication to receive an email from Google as it violates the Better Ads Standard. Other big publications in the same situation include Betty Crocker, the New York Daily News, the Los Angeles Times, The Independent, TV Guide, the Chicago Tribune, LifeHacker, ZDNet, PCMag, the Orlando Sun-Sentinel, the Washington Times, Eurogamer and the Chicago Sun-Times.

 

Google argues that Chrome’s removal of bad ads will serve as a filter, not an “ad blocker.”

 

3. What Do Experts Say About the Interstitials Impact on SEO?

In 2016, there were a lot of unconfirmed updates that experts detected. Also, there’s a great debate around the dates when they happened.  

 

Moz has recorded only 4 updates so far, as mentioned below:

  • Intrusive Interstitial Mobile Penalty – January 10
  • Unnamed Major Update – February 1
  • Unnamed Major Update – February 6
  • “Fred” Unconfirmed – March 8

In a research Glenn Gabe posted on G-Squared Interactive, there were listed 6 updates:

  • Intrusive Interstitial Mobile Penalty – January 5
  • February 7
  • “Fred” March 7
  • April 26
  • May 4
  • May 17

As you can see there are some differences between them.

 

Barry Schwartz identified other two updates, on June 14 and June 25. Lots of discussions happened on Twitter about these updates.

 

For the Google update he detected on 25, Google’s John Mueller gave a statement on Twitter:

 

 

But apparently, in the end, Google didn’t confirm the update. John Mu tweeted about it.

 

 

Experts disagree the statement. For example, RankRanger reported that sites ranking in positions 6-10 experienced SERP volatility. They showed that through one of their case studies.

rank-risk-index-five-days-spike-june2017

Source: www.rankranger.com

 

On top of this, John Muller also refuted the Fred update or at least that’s what he said in one of his Google Webmaster Hangout. See with your own eyes at 2:00:

 

 

After being asked how the Fred update impacted e-commerce websites, John Muller declared:

So from our point of view, there was no Fred update.

This is a name that was given externally to a bunch of updates that we’ve been doing over time. So it’s not the case that there’s this one thing that is changing in search. We make changes in search all the time and we’re always working on trying to find ways to bring more relevant, more high-quality content to users, and that can be affecting a variety of websites.

John Muller John Muller
Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google @JohnMu

Until now it has been just a smoke screen. A lot of opinions and vague information. On a final note, there are all kinds of speculations, but only Google knows the truth.

 

We’ve scooped through the internet to see what people are saying about the penalties, what their reactions are.

 

On Twitter, there were people who experienced a huge fluctuation in the rankings. Others saw an increase and others saw their website drop from the first page, going from page 1 to page 3.

 

 

 

4. Are Interstitials Hurting Your SEO?

Lots of smoking guns so far, but do ads hurt your SEO?

 

Don’t hate me for the answer: it depends. It really depends on how your ad looks like. If it doesn’t have pages where content is covered entirely and it doesn’t whisk you over the main content to an advertiser’s website, then it most probably won’t hurt your SEO.

 

In other cases, you might experience some SERP fluctuations, some ranking instability and in the end, you’ll be wiped off the face of the search results.

 

How’s the weather forecast in your website’s zone?

 

After the updates Google made this year on the interstitial penalty, there were lots of webmasters who saw traffic drop and/or SERP fluctuations. Some of them say the interstitial penalty has got them.

 

For example, Vic Holtreman, founder of gamerant.com, says this happened to him because of full-page ad with “buy now” clickable images on each side of the content.

 

This is how his website looked like on May 29, 2017:

Deceptive full page ad

 

If we take a look at the rankings for this website, we can see it experienced a huge drop.

SEO Visibility gamerant.com

https://explorer.cognitiveseo.com/?u=gamerant.com&m=*U*#section/4

As you can see, the site’s ranking started to drop (as of February 19) after the Intrusive Interstitial Penalty from January 10 and other major updates from February went live.

 

Although the owner of the website is struggling on reducing ads, improving readability, content quality he didn’t manage to recover the high rankings.

 

Glenn Gabe’s statement on these type of ads is quite clear; the site might have received an Intrusive Interstitial Penalty:

I would categorize that as deceptive, which we know Google has called out in the Quality Rater Guidelines.

He adds: “those are extremely aggressive, annoying, and deceptive”. Everything Google disapproves at an ad.

 

There is a lot going on with this website. The link profile doesn’t look very natural, it had full-page ads for a while so the high drop it experienced could have happened because of multiple reasons. Those ads didn’t help at all, though.

 

Pinterest has another story. Some say it got hit, some just wanted the site to get hurt.

 

Sistrix posted an article saying the Pinterest probably got hit by the Intrusive Interstitial Penalty. They saw a drop in rankings.

40% of its smartphone Visibility in the UK, 35% in the USA, 34% in Germany and 34% in Spain. Today, the Visibility is still -16.5%, on average.

As you can see in the next screenshot, it is a notable drop.

Visibility-of-Pinterest.com-in-other-countries

Source: www.sistrix.com

 

After a quick review in the cognitiveSEO Explorer, we could see they had a drop from 4.14 mil in January to 3,32 mil in April, losing over 1 mil in just a few months. Until now, they haven’t fully recovered.

Rankings drop pinterest

 

At the moment we speak, Pinterest blocks content from non-users and the interstitials they use cover all the space on top of the main content, which Google counts as intrusive, because it has a negative effect on the user’s experience.

Pinterest blocking pop-up

 

Yet, Glenn Gabe shared his findings and said that the Intrusive Interstitial Penalty has no impact. He made a list with domains that were using all kinds of ads that broke the Rater Guidelines and kept tracking them to see if they suffered any changes in the search engines rankings. Unfortunately, he saw that the update had little or no impact at all on those domains.

As of today, I’m still not seeing a widespread impact. Again, many of the URLs across the domains I’m tracking are ranking exactly where they did prior to the rollout of the mobile popup algorithm.
Glenn Gabe Glenn Gabe
Digital Marketing Consultant at G-Squared Interactive / @glenngabe

It seems that Google AdSense New Native Ads will harm your website. The ads blend into your content and Google has an algorithm that specifically penalized ads in your content.

 

Barry Schwartz and Glenn Gabe support this statement.

Glenn Gabe Adsense

 

Glenn Gabe tweeted an example of a website that saw a big drop because it used the new native ads.

Traffic drop

Source: twitter.com/glenngabe

 

He strongly disapproves the use of native ads “designed to match the look/feel of your site”. It is a big thread on his Twitter about this:

Glenn Gabe tweet about native ads

 

The situation regarding intrusive ads is really serious. It doesn’t matter if there aren’t so many examples of websites that got penalized because of this. Google is rolling updates on a regular basis. It just a matter of time. It’s a “when” not an “if”.

 

5. Do Intrusive Ad Penalties Really Exist?

It is official, a website can be penalized for interstitial ads on mobile devices. The word got out at Search Marketing Expo in January and it’s been doing its job so far. No secret here!

 

 

 

There are other experts who say the Penalty is real. Google confirmed the mobile interstitial penalty did roll out so there isn’t much questioning.

 To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly. – Google

With all the examples of penalized sites we shared with you, we can be sure it is real.

 

6. How Can You Prevent an Intrusive Ad Penalty?

Before responding to this question, you should know what kind of ads you can use. The accepted ads are those that don’t appear over the main content, blocking the user to access the information in an intrusive way and don’t send them to a totally different site. So there is a possibility to use ads not targeted by this penalty.

 

If you want to prevent the penalties, you can use some of the pop-ups, banners or interstitials mentioned below:

  • age verification blockers that protect a certain type of content, such as alcohol or adult content;
  • cookie usage that respects Google’s Guidelines (popups that ask for agreement);
  • any other type of legally required pop-up that uses a reasonable amount of screen space.
  • If you don’t want to be penalized you need to understand which ads are accepted, avoid the gray areas, using timed pop-ups that cover only a small space of your screen, and always offer a positive user experience.

Also, it would be good to run a Mobile Friendly Test in Google Search Console to check your site and see if your site doesn’t have any errors on mobile. Otherwise, you might lose traffic because of a bad mobile user experience and many other problems. 

 

Google is aware of the fact that many websites are supported by ads, so you must rethink your content marketing and mobile marketing strategy and don’t rely entirely on ads. 

 

 

Conclusion

As a takeaway for the eternity, we have something to tell you that you should remember forever.

 

The interstitial penalty will be triggered by on-scroll pop-ups, but delayed pop-ups will be impacted by this change. You are still allowed to use interstitials triggered by an intent to exit, legal notices using pop-ups, actions bars, slide-ins, and banners.  The interstitial signal is just one of hundreds of signals Google uses to analyze your website. It is just one of the many factors that influence your website’s ranking in the search engines.

 

But be careful, depending on how big your website is, how information is used and displayed, how your architecture is made, it can damage your website. There are lots of ifs and opinions but it is better to prevent than to correct.

 

Use the recommendations and information we gave you for a good and natural ranking.

 

You’ll never know what Google will do in the future, so you might better start improving your site now.

The post Does the Google Interstitials Penalty Impact Your SEO Efforts? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Everything You Need To Know About Augmented Reality and its Impact on SEO

The SEO industry will always vary according to trends, and the rise of AR will definitely be course-changing for the SEO specialists and their content strategies.

 

An emerging field of technology, augmented reality or AR  seems to be somehow of a buzzword nowadays. Rumor has it that augmented reality is limitless and has enormous potential, holding plenty of features in the store for the future. Should the SEO hark to these facts?

 

The Rise of Augmented Reality And Its Impact On SEO

 

We took the challenge of talking about augmented reality and the impact on SEO and show you the connection between them. But that’s not all. Gain deep insight and an overall view on the topic by following each tab from the table of contents below:

 

  1. The Rise of Augmented Reality and What You Missed About It
  2. When and Where Augmented Reality and SEO Connect
  3. Augmented Reality and Local SEO 
  4. What Do Experts Say About Augmented Reality and SEO
  5. Google and Augmented Reality
  6. Facebook and Augmented Reality
  7. Snapchat and Augmented Reality
  8. Apple and Augmented Reality
  9. What to Do Next Instead of Conclusion

 

Steve Jobs said once: “You’ve got to start with the customer experience and work back toward the technology – not the other way around”. Today there’s a new level of consumer power. Search marketers and SEOs strive to follow trends and market changes in order to retain customers.

 

And the rise of augmented reality can be both the wave that takes you out to greatness, and the breath of fresh air to upgrade your marketing game.

 

This is true especially when AR is dependent on content, the very core of digital marketing, SEO, SEM, and of everything a business sends out to the crowd.  Content is king again. Content is a must-have, translated both as the message displayed inside the AR experience and as a trigger for retaining audiences. That is why FinTech and SEO race to be early adopters.

 

1. The Rise of Augmented Reality and What You Missed About It

 

What Exactly Is AR?

 

Using the means of digital technology, augmented reality overlays information in video, text, or image format onto everyday surroundings, objects, and locations from the real world.

 

Gaia Dempsey, co-founder of DAQRI, makes it clearer for everyone what AR is and looks like by summarizing everything in the video below:

 

80% of the information that the brain takes in is visual; so by providing information in a visual medium that also has the spatial nature of augmented reality, you’re giving the brain a very intuitive way of accessing knowledge. 
Gaia Dempsey Gaia Dempsey
Co-founder @DAQRI/ daqri.com

 

 

Users will normally acknowledge the augmented reality around them by making use of a smartphone camera, tablet, goggles, or headset specially designed for AR. Still, for the time being, AR is mostly stuck on the smartphone (be it made available by brands, or used by audiences across the globe) and will have limited use cases, such as education, gaming, social media, and indoor mapping.

 

Although very promising, AR devices don’t appeal yet to a very large mass of consumers, but find a home more in the work industry, especially in the blue-collar environment. 

 

There are two versions of AR technology: marker-based (which uses a visual, physical trigger to start the AR experience), and markerless-based (it doesn’t need a trigger to start an AR experience, rather it builds the experience from scratch).

 

 

In other words, AR can fall into three categories: 

 

  1. Information overlay (e.g. The British Museum where you can scan a displayed object and pop-up messages will appear with info regarding that specific object);
  2. Virtual objects (e.g. Ikea refurbishing homes – scan your home, then place different pieces of furniture in your house environment to see how they fit);
  3. Digital packaging (e.g. Pepsi, Coca Cola, or Starbucks using AR interfaces designed by Layar and Blippar).

 

Marker-based augmented reality regards real life objects that trigger virtual activity and visuals. All you need is a proper device, which for the common user and for most of the times is the camera.

 

 

When Did AR Start to Become a Thing?

 

The world started talking about AR once the Pokemon Go phenomenon began to spread in 2016. Everyone went crazy; firstly, for the concept itself; secondly, for the thrill and engagement it provided.

 

Since then, many businesses have opted for building apps and interfaces that employed features of AR. Some of them are Pokemon Go, Snapchat, Google Translate, Star Chart, Pepsi, and a whole lot more, to name just a few. 

 

But things hold a lot more than they show. In fact, augmented reality is not  a novelty at all. 

 

The AR technology was actually developed in the ’60s by Morton Heilig, yet from then it has made huge leaps in matters of improvement.

 

Heilig’s invention displayed a huge device called sensorama, one of the earliest known examples of multimodal technology. Sensorama was able to display stereoscopic 3D images using a wide-angle view, employ body tilting, provide stereo sound, and also had the necessary means for wind and aromas to be triggered during the film.

 

Heilig Sensorama

 

Which Are the Impacted Industries

 

Statistically speaking, eCommerce will be the most impacted industry of all. Imagine virtually trying out shoes from your favourite brand without the hustle and bustle of actually doing it all day long, running from one shop to another. Brands like Adidas and Converse have already tried this technology, scoring higher conversion rates, yet fewer returns, once customers satisfied their necessity or curiosity.

 

 

With the help of augmented reality shopping and marketing, eCommerce is and will be able to gain more powerful insight and feedback from customers. Reviews, star ratings, how many times something was tried out, social shares, try-out span, and a whole lot more information will be at the brands’ disposal.

 

GAP and hardware chain Lowes are already using augmented reality and VPS (Virtual Positioning System) to suit their customers’ needs and exceed their expectations. GAP opted in for a “no physical try out needed anymore”, similar to that of Adidas’ and Converse’s. Lowes came with this bright idea of an AR app for your shopping list, where you can get real-time directions inside the store to know where and if you can find the product you noted on the list. 

 

The Difference Between AR and VR

 

Augmented reality and virtual reality often go hand in hand. It’s not uncommon for AR or VR to be mistaken by beginners. The thing is that both AR and VR allow you to experience computing more than you could do just from working, playing, or interacting with a computer. They both either bring computing to your world or take you to a new world, but resembling the real one. 

 

Unlike augmented reality, virtual reality (VR) provides a totally immersive experience in a world that is created from scratch, with little to no connection with the real world. VR does generate realistic images, sounds, and other sensations, but the imagery environment is virtual and artificial, computer-generated.

 

VR uses mostly comprise gaming, but can also be relevant for entertainment causes such as seeing movies, sports games, shows or concerts, health care, manufacturing industry, education, military, and even NASA duties.

 

If we are to relate to the list above, there’s not much of a difference between AR and VR when it comes to use case environments either. Yet unlike VR, AR is totally geo-point bound with no to very little independence from location or object.

 

International Data Corporation (IDC) made a forecast on the worldwide spending on AR and VR for 2017 and 2020. They estimate the augmented reality and virtual reality market to reach $13.9 billion by 2017, an increase of 130.5% over the spending recorded in 2016. As for 2020, the spending is estimated to be $143.3 billion.

 

When doing a quick check on mentions across the web and social media, we see that AR and VR are becoming more and more a trend talk. They get traction. Be it because virtual reality games or augmented reality apps gain popularity at a fast pace or not, BrandMentions displayed actionable clear cut results worth taking into account.

 

Augmented Reality in BrandMentions

Virtual Reality in BrandMentions

 

Although augmented reality leads the mention race, VR doesn’t fall too short, as it closely follows AR from behind. 

 

When Buzzsumo partnered LinkedIn in writing a marketing study entitled “The DNA Behind the World’s Most Successful Content”, Steve Rayson and Jason Miller published statistics on the number of shares VR  has on the Internet and it’s amazing. This provides you with an answer to the question: ‘Why should I care about AR?

 

VR Number Of Shares On The Web

 

Marketing Senses a Change in the Digital Landscape

 

With time, brands started to realize that augmented reality is set to grow exponentially as a discovery and communication channel. And so did digital marketers and search marketers.

 

The power of mobile devices to trigger information-rich experiences in real-world settings made brands crave to turn AR into a powerful marketing tool. The benefits were undoubtedly rich and offering: smartly leading customers to brick and stone stores, alerting them to a sale, and create the means for better and faster real-time ratings and reviews.

 

Augmented reality and shopping are often congruent. Shopping has a lot to gain from augmented reality. Several examples have already been provided earlier. But that’s not all.

 

Augmented reality is a win-win business. Customers also have a lot to benefit from it. AR apps save time, provide detailed information, are eye-opening, better serve a customer’s needs, create engagement and entertainment. When available, people will be able to scan surroundings in search of nearby restaurants, discounts, all within line-of-sight and with maximum accuracy. 

 

 

Print media already started to actively incorporate AR into their publications. Esquire Magazine proved this in their 2009 issue when readers were able to scan the paper cover and trigger an augmented reality experience with a very lively real Robert Downey Jr.

 

Esquire magazine | AR experience

 

No doubt both the magazine’s and Downey’s fans were crazy for this marketing move. 

 

 

Pepsi too joined the dance and used the augmented reality technology in their marketing strategies. Their AR billboard campaign gathered almost 8 million views on YouTube. Pepsi created an augmented reality experience for those waiting in a bus shelter for the means to get wherever they needed.

 

 

2. When and Where AR and SEO Connect

 

Search Engines Support Visual Search and Will Use AR

 

All major search engines such as Google, Bing, and Yahoo, employ primary search results techniques. This is how web pages and other contents, such as videos or local listings, are displayed and ranked, depending on what that specific search engine considers to be of most relevance to users. We are talking about organic search here, and not paid search (SEM).

 

Judging from the continuous growth of augmented reality, it’s no wonder if your website content will soon be crawled, indexed, and ranked higher in SERPs for AR-based content via visual search. Everything from digital content and activity, to offline advertising, physical locations, brand and product photos and images will someday be searched through AR. 

 

Organic search professionals will need to include the augmented reality technology into their content marketing strategies. At least, this is what a forward-thinking SEO and business would do. 

 

 

Augmented reality is beneficial for brands that are searching and fighting to be first and foremost both in their industry and in SERPs. 

 

For now, Financial Technology a.k.a. FinTech and SEO race to be early smart adopters, although the latter somehow falls behind, although it should be the other way around. 

 

Content Connects the Dots Between AR and SEO

 

Content is again king. Content is king in AR and VR, just as it is in any other medium. Augmented reality content can take various forms, such as video, social sharing, reviews, 3D objects, usually available all-in-one search engine result page or advertorial.

 

In order to stand out, content marketers are investing a lot in visual content such as videos, images, and infographics. But it’s time to consider AR tech in your content marketing strategy. 

 

Sporting good augmented reality technology and smartly optimized content will both please your audience and boost your content up in SERPs. This way you encourage your customers to participate in the AR experience by contributing with content in real-time. Augmented reality is where content is not only provided by the brand, but also by the customer, both online and offline, and where positive content probably has the biggest impact of them all. 

 

VR is in many ways similar to AR. Thus we think that many VR statistics and analytics speak for AR, too. When asking users for feedback on what to improve in VR, 55% said more content, and 45% said better quality content.

 

VR, AR, and Content

 

The Impact AR Has on SEO

 

Mentions, reviews, links, ratings, all in a new form – this is what AR offers to the world of SEO.

 

Given the novelty and hype of this AR madness, people are naturally drawn to brands who take the risk (or the opportunity) to include AR into their content marketing strategy. This is why AR triggers brand awareness, something many businesses fight for and with.

 

Augmented reality cultivates a wow-factor. It presents a new search and information-ready ecosystem to organic search professionals.

 

AR-impacted SEO agencies can get actionable data and deep insight into customer behavior, thus knowing how to launch more engaging and successful marketing strategies across search engines.

 

Augmented reality isn’t supposed to replace your existing SEO efforts, but to expand your audience and to engage them to an extent they’ve never experienced before.

 

Talking about the audience, Adobe recently published a survey made on AR app users to see how many fans are there. 

 

Mobile survey on AR app users

 

The numbers are in continuous growth, so this is a clear indicator of something that triggers people’s attention and makes them walk on that digital path – use it to drive them to you – as one of your communication and content means. 

 

3. Augmented Reality and Local SEO

 

Augmented reality is bridging the digital world with the real world. The rise of AR has brought an increased importance to local SEO efforts – e.g. geolocation.  

 

Pokemon Go is an AR-based gaming app, launched in July 2016, and works by the rules dictated by location. Pokemon Go is a location-based game. 

 

Pokemon Go location-based game

 

Search marketing and SEO gain useful informational data on the surroundings by deploying AR experiences from their customers. All they have to do is to hold up their phones, scan a section of their world and get optimised information offering anything from cafes, restrooms, ATM mapping, museum, to opening hours, discounts, and job vacancies.

 

What Is Local SEO?

 

Local SEO or local search is everything existing in a specific geographical area that is/can be searched and found online. People usually deploy local search when aiming to find some specific information, or want to make an offline transaction (and search online for ATM or bank posts). Local SEO is about the marketers’ efforts to create the perfect means for users to find their business and engage with their brand at a local level.

 

Local SEO is SEO to the next level. Local SEO helps businesses stand out in the SERPs and get better traction. 

 

In other words, local search is similar to when you look in the yellow pages offline for some kind of information, but instead, it’s conducted online. Examples: “ATM downtown Frankfurt”, “shopping center on Avenida da Boavista”. 

 

Technologies, devices, and concepts such as location-based, geo-targeting, geo-fences, and beacons are big names in local search and SEO.

 

Local Search Ranking Factors

In matters of local SEO, everything regarding location details has to be updated and accurate – otherwise, the AR user experience may fall flat. 

 

Local SEO makes great use of anything that is both user-generated at a local level, and locally available. It can and will work only with existent surroundings, objects, user feedback inputs, and business information. Nothing more, nothing less, whether you like it or not.

 

There are a series of local search factors that greatly influence your positioning in the SERPs. Augmented reality apps will use them to the very core, so mind them as they matter both for the present, and for the future.

 

1. Google My Business Listings: in the AR landscape you could, say, use your phone or wearable device to scan a building or a nearby area and get info on a particular business, images and all, ratings and reviews, and also competitor listings of nearby businesses. This is both compelling and engaging and the audience will be undoubtedly attracted to it. That’s why you need to keep your business details updated and as comprehensive as possible to satisfy your customers’ needs and curiosity.

 

2. Citations: they are local mentions of your brand name, address, or any other related information, important to augmented reality, in the view of third-party sites known as citation sources. Yelp is one such third-party citation platform that people from San Francisco, New York, L.A., Chicago, and many others often use. Yelp encourages people to share their experience and leave reviews on various types of businesses such as restaurants, shops, clubs, sports centers, beauty salons, home services, and a whole lot more. 

 

Yelp

 

3. Reviews: they are a big part of local SEO and also for location-based AR apps. They are user-generated, hence 100% authentic and organic. With AR apps users will get real-time reviews on restaurants, stores, and whatever other building they would hover on with their device.

 

The review system is amplified with the AR technology. Businesses should now more than ever increase positive feedback so to maximize and secure sales.

 

Reviews have the power to influence foot traffic to your local business. But brands should for all intents and purposes first deliver impeccable services and product experience to customers, and only after that good word of mouth will be spread.

 

Besides, this augmented reality twist on reviews could raise awareness among business owners to implement or improve their negative customer complaint management system, as reviews of all types appear in real time and can harm their reputation.

 

4. Geo-targeting. Similar to roaming messages working on the geo-localization principle, imagine getting push notifications on your AR app when connected and viewing the street with a wearable device, and being informed of nearby discounts, partnering brands with the one you’re in at the moment and their services. All through engaging theatrical or motion experiences.

 

Yet location targeting doesn’t always imply geo-localization. It can also be deployed using the marker-based type of AR, with objects coming to life, switching from offline customer experience to online customer experience. Or intertwining them.

 

Local SEO, Local AR, and Content

 

Local AR regards virtual annotating experiences triggered by location positioning of a user with an AR app on their devices. 

 

Local AR needs geotagged content, something Google already owns if we think of Street View imagery and their impressive place database (Google My Business Listings is one of them, yes!). Thus, local data businesses will already be one step forward in the game as they will provide local AR apps with the info they need. A good example is Yext, a platform that puts businesses on the map with relevant details and information, such as contact details, listings, reviews, analytics, etc.

 

Yext screenshot

 

Google Earth is also an enormous place database with everything from satellite imagery, maps, terrain, 3D buildings to relief in the oceans and galaxies in the outer space. Augmented reality will undoubtedly make use of this data. Humans already do it and, many times, this data is life changing. A fit example is Saroo’s search of home, where he succeeded to find his long-lost family and place of birth.

 

 

How Does SEO Benefit from the Rise of AR?

 

With the help of augmented reality, SEO will better serve clients’ needs and help them make decisions on anything at another level of ease. AR can provide better user experience and grant more information-rich services. Just as it does here, with a marker-based AR app for scanning cars and finding the necessary information and specifications before purchase.

 

 

By improving customer experience, your clients will find the information they need faster, take decisions easier, and make transactions at a greater speed. When playing after AR rules, local search gets a facelift. Initially, offline shopping behaviors can turn into compelling online engagements.

 

What Do Experts Say About Augmented Reality and SEO

 

Blippar, one of the biggest players in the AR industry, said that augmented reality boosts user engagement, and consequently dwell time is increased.

 

The augmented reality platform raised  $45 million in 2015, giving it a huge incentive to advance AR to the next level.

 

Ori Inbar, founder of Super Ventures, a VC company specializing in VR said: “Augmented reality is the next mobile computer, the next OS, the next social platform. The smartphone is dead; it just doesn’t know it yet”.

 

Tim Cook, Apple CEO, regards AR as being a huge opportunity in the digital landscape: “I regard it as a big idea like the smartphone. The smartphone is for everyone. We don’t have to think the iPhone is about a certain demographic, or country or vertical market; it’s for everyone”.

 

Notable entities invest heavily in the research and development of AR. Although Google Glass had a false start, Tango holds all the aces and doesn’t seem to change a bit. Facebook is building AR and VR glasses, Snapchat wins with Spectacles –  playful goggles that capture video that can be shared via Snapchat, Apple intends to incorporate AR on smartphones. Most of them invest in many AR and VR apps and tools.

 

Google and Augmented Reality

 

Google AR Activity and Worldwide Recognition

 

Google plays an important part in the development of AR and VR. Google noted on their blog that “we’re making investments in the core technologies that enable VR and AR, and in platforms that make them accessible to more people”.

 

Google is an active player in the AR business, making big moves in AR with projects such as Tango, VPS, and Google Lens. And there’s a lot at stake for them. Check the video below to better grasp what’s the whole thing with Google, AR, and search.

 

 

It is clear that Google is investing both time and money into this new digital technology and many might wonder why. At Google I/O ’17, Clay Bavor, VP of Virtual Reality at Google, wanted to make it clear and put their AR activity in a bit of a context. 

 

 

At a quick search on “Google about AR” results were pretty meaningful. The big search giant is far from being reluctant to AR.

 

Google about AR

 

Obviously, given such a rich AR and VR activity, Google got even awarded for their research and development, notably in 2016 and 2017. In 2016, they won 3rd pace for putting VR for the masses in a cardboard box, and in 2017 they won 1st place for developing a photographic memory.

 

Google 2016 3rd prize for AR

Google 2017 1st prize for AR

 

Google Glass: To Be or not to Be – That Is the Question

 

Google made a first step in the AR arena in 2013, when it launched Google Glass, a special goggle-like device that employed AR overlays to inform the user of various things (on which I will expand later). Eventually it ceased production in 2015 and that’s why some call it a fake start. But the idea lived on with a new gadget, Google Enterprise Edition, similar to the first edition, but addressing a special niche – the work environment.

 

 

Given that most of the SEO efforts have Google as a center target, it is important to see how and how much Google supports and partners the evolution and development of AR. Whether we like it or not, we marketers all have to play by the Google rules. Thus, it’s better to be one step forward in the game and be ready and informed on the AR boom.

 

Going back to our sheep, in 2013 Google launched a first Google Glass edition called the Explorer Edition. It wasn’t the final product or consumer version, but one that could be tested by users from whom to get actionable feedback. Feedback would have further helped develop the software, shape, and all of Google Glass.

 

Initially, the Explorer Edition included 7 functionalities:

  1.  Take pictures;
  2. Record a video;
  3. Get directions;
  4. Send a message; 
  5. Call someone;
  6. Google+ hangouts;
  7. Google.

 

At that moment, the list of things that it could do was rather limited, yet it targeted to be a promising paradigm tool (something like an android phone with no apps, on your face).

 

Although photo, video, navigation (walking, driving, biking navigation), call, message, and Google search were awesome stuff to play with on Explorer Edition, more was needed. That’s why a Google Glass Explorer community of developers formed up, with all them looking to further develop and create new apps and functionalities for this device.

 

Google Glass Enterprise Edition on the other hand, seems to have more success and that the odds will be in its favor. Intended for work environments, and not for the regular consumer, it addresses businesses with hands-on workers and experiences.

 

Tango Winning the Dance Floor

 

Simply put, Tango is Google’s augmented reality platform. The Tango technology is an AR scanning one and it has three functions: motion tracking, depth perception, and area learning. At Google, Tango is for AR what Daydream is for VR. Google took care of that. 

 

Tango has been used for both AR and VR, but primarily it’s the core technology behind Visual Positioning Service (VPS), Expeditions AR, and other AR devices.

 

2017 came with a promise from Google experts – that of a new AR app promised to be released this fall.  It uses Google’s Tango technology to map the physical interiors (say, a classroom) and place 3D objects in AR. 

 

Expeditions AR has been introduced into a special educational program supported by Google, called the Pioneer Program, where AR lessons are taught to American students inside classrooms.

 

 

Yet rumor has it that Tango is or is going to be soon left behind, as Apple ARKit gains ground both in announced product concept, and in predicted fan base. Some say that “Google’s Tango is about the future whereas Apple’s ARKit is about the present” but it’s better to let time and numbers tell the tale.

 

Virtual Positioning Service (VPS)

 

This year, Google’s I/O conference shared an important AR piece of news. Tango gets a new Visual Positioning Service (VPS) that works as a better performing, highly accurate form of GPS. 

 

VPS, called the new GPS, is taking the reins from where GPS stopped. It helps devices quickly and accurately understand their location indoors. GPS takes you to the location, but VPS can take you to a specific item from a store or location, namely performing indoors.

 

Blippar location-based AR tech is sporting some new prototype of VPS, called UVPS, that is Urban Visual Positioning System.

 

 

Not to forget about Google Lens, update helping Google use AR to its visual search purposes.

 

Google Supported AR Devices

 

Google supported the launch of two mobile phone models that support Tango and AR in general, namely partnering the Asus and Lenovo brands.

 

Asus ZenFone AR is the second-released phone suitable for both Tango and Daydream, granting his success over his predecessor. To exemplify what you can do with it, ZenFone allows you to scan a 3D map of your home and, while shopping for furniture, you can scan that item and place it in your home to see if it fits and suits. One way or another, ZenFone hypnotizes you with what it can do.

 

 

Facebook and Augmented Reality

 

Facebook announced this year at the F8 developer conference that they plan to launch a new platform for coders to build AR apps in addition to Facebook’s core service. It is open to a limited number of developers and now it’s in beta mode. There’s no date available yet as to when the product will be released.

 

The social network giant bets on its own AR strategy, being confident that it will shine through in an already-crowded AR market. Mark Zuckerberg says that Facebook will help people get used to AR first through their phones, and then through other devices.

 

Facebook is known for making research in VR and building its Oculus Rift VR headset, but not so known for AR. Yet the SERPs displayed when searching about Facebook and AR are both meaningful and surprising.

 

Facebook about AR

 

While most of the other big tech players are using AR to turn static objects into a live 3D experience, Facebook would bet money that customers need something more personal, therefore empowers the smartphone camera and makes human faces the trigger for AR experiences.

 

Facebook-powered apps – Facebook, Messenger, WhatsApp, and Instagram – will all meet new camera capabilities in terms of AR. In short, Facebook left us with two things in mind: the camera is everything, and they’re poised to make AR huge.

 

And Facebook literally bets their money on AR, together with VR, by investing heavily in this child star tech.

 

Facebook investment in AR

 

What Is AR to Facebook?

 

AR is for Facebook the trigger to social communication, the social software that helps people build their relationships online.

 

AR could also help Facebook prevent inappropriate videos from being posted on the platform, and no longer be depending solely on humans. Facebook announced, at their big developer conference of 2017, that they plan to monitor violence on the platform and most probably they will use AR for this purpose, too.

 

How Facebook Plans to Bring Novelty in AR

 

Facebook’s platform for AR developers and projects is similar to Google’s Project Tango, only that they didn’t mention anything about 3D motion trackers or depth sensor that need to be installed on Android supported phones. They just stated their intention of turning the smartphone camera into an AR full-stack device, without the fuss of designing custom hardware or phones for their new platform.

 

Besides, Facebook believes the augmented reality glasses’ popularity is to fade sooner than expected.

 

Facebook on AR 2017

 

Snapchat and Augmented Reality

 

No doubt everybody is familiar with the annotating camera effects Snapchat uses on their app. Basically, the augmented reality effects they use on people’s faces and surroundings represent more of 50% people associate with Snapchat when somebody utters the brand’s name.

 

Snapchat about AR

 

Apart from that, they’ve successfully launched the Oculus special AR glasses in 2016 and people went crazy on it. 

 

In April 2017, Snapchat made an update and added world lenses for a further leap into augmented reality. Its AR capabilities can add 3D animated objects to your Snapchat messages. 

 

 

Apple and Augmented Reality

 

As usually, Apple comes late but steals the show by upgrading and outwitting everything their competitors have already done. Thus Apple is poised to outstrip Facebook in their AR plans, by offering a more enticing and convenient option for AR developers to make their apps available to the audience.

 

Apple is set to smash competition with a brand new relaxed vision on AR. Apple’s advantage in the battle is simple and clear cut: while Google Tango needs special hardware, ARKit requires developers and users to only have a recent iOS device. 

 

Facebook, Apple, and Google altogether on AR

 

Techies like to say that even though Facebook is the most powerful app in the world, it’s still just an app on Apple’s operating system. Pretty nasty, huh?

 

On another train of thoughts, Tim Cook let us understand that he prefers AR over VR and considers the former to be more commercially viable as people can still interact and be present among others as opposed to VR, where a screen is wrapped around your face and you immerse yourself into a brand new world and forget about the real one. 

 

ARToolKit is the place designed by Apple where AR advocates create, gather, and store AR applications. 

 

All things being said, AR will take longer to flourish to its full potential. It needs time, money, and a lot of patience and skill. 

 

Besides, AR comes with a high cost of production, hence the small number of brands leveraging this technology in their marketing strategies for the time being. Yet businesses work hard and publish job listings on AR developing positions to make the augmented reality dream come true. 

 

What the SEO Industry Should Do Next

 

AR Current Status and Future Follow-up

 

Augmented Reality enables digital material to be superimposed on any physical object. That we know. But what about what we don’t know yet?

 

Today AR apps can do the following: gaming and play (3D games triggered by scanned objects), media/advertising (print, TV, and product packaging), instructional (education, blue-collar industry, medicine). 

 

To list just a few facts about augmented reality and its current status, here are some details like number of released apps, devices, and investments in AR.

 

Present status of AR

 

AR devices don’t appeal yet to a large mass of consumers but find a home more in the work industry environment.

 

Besides the above-mentioned already existent AR features, the future apps of this new technology will also include visual search, navigation, and discovery, social networking.

 

Soon, this annotated world will walk hand in hand with SEO marketing in a way never seen before: bold innovative promotions, fresh inbound marketing campaigns, and a noteworthy updated user experience will be the small talk of the AR world.

 

Action Time and Mindful Steps to Take

 

Augmented reality aka search in an annotated world won’t wait for you. 

 

The AR landscape shows signs of becoming mainstream, therefore it’s important that you join the dance as soon as possible if you want to keep your business up-to-date and attractive as the marketing world faces its next massive shift.

 

Although your business is small you need to be ready for the AR boom; when it becomes trending and indispensable, you risk to fall flat with your marketing strategy and be left behind. Be equipped.

 

Overlay virtual imagery specific to your brand on the real world that both you and your customers share and live in. Seek to be a frontrunner in deploying this technology. 

 

“Then what should I do?”, might someone ask. We believe a first step is to be inquisitive – download AR apps, try them out, see what works and what doesn’t, and understand how it is for companies to engage with the audience through augmented reality. In addition, keep yourself up-to-date with the development in the AR industry. 

 

Then you should go deeper and more analytical.

 

Pay attention to your citation profile. Local citations are a key ranking factor in search engines. The richer, the better. It will appear in review sites, thus in the SERPs to people’s queries. These sites play an important role in Google results, thus in organic search. There are more chances for your business to be found by your targeted audience when entering queries.

 

Reviews are gaining ground nowadays and, being a user-generated SEO, they fit perfectly in the AR landscape. As augmented reality will keep growing, so will the influence of reviews. Imagine fresh star rating left by a customer dining at the same restaurant as you do popping up on your screen and informing you of the restaurant’s services. Wouldn’t it be useful?

 

Check to see if you have Google My Business Listings, and then make sure you provide a rich array of good-quality photos and updated business and contact details. This is most often the go-to point of information. It’s supported by Google, a huge supporter of the AR evolution; so secure your spot and feature relevant and updated brand info such as addresses, opening hours, phone numbers, business updates, and images.

 

Location, because AR literally depends on real world location, as opposed to its twin sister – virtual reality. Similar to roaming text messages that you get when entering another country, AR aims at making the audience aware of close-by deals and businesses with pop-up messages projected on real world ground and seen with an AR supported device.

 

If already engaging with the augmented reality technology, mind the following steps:

  1. Plan constant updates to keep your AR experience fresh and relevant;
  2. Use social media to raise awareness about your brand using AR;
  3. Create engaging AR campaigns suitable for your brand advocates;
  4. Enhance your audience’s user experience by adding AR to printed literature such as business card, banners, brochures, and leaflets.

 

Designing and implementing AR apps in your SEO marketing strategy means more than just having fun. You should primarily start with a clear idea of how your users are going to benefit from such technology as AR. Your business should also check an open team mindset on their to-do and must-have list. If you want to succeed with AR, you need impeccable collaboration between computer scientists, designers, developers, and marketers. A strategy for integrating this new technology into the CDJ is not an easy task, you know …

 

 

Now What?

 

Pokemon Go proved the world that not only VR is focused on gaming, but that also AR can do the job. And that not only VR can be fun and engaging, but AR too.

 

Things are moving, and they’re moving in the right direction. The Future of StoryTelling Summit and community is bringing techies, marketers, and talents together to discuss the present and future of storytelling in a world overflowing with digital inventions and once-SF now possible technologies. Once again, content is king. People and technologies along will always cherish its power and its unquestionable evergreen status. The way we interact with content and stories has gone unchanged for ages.

 

 

People want to be part of the story and message, and augmented reality grants them this wish.

 

So are people really going to buy the idea? Are they going to use AR apps and hold screens in front of their eyes all day long? Probably not, not even digital natives. It should make everything easier, more fun, more convenient, and not bring a plus of a burden. That is why AR is in a continuous change and development; tech giants want to make it something that is piece of cake, and a day-to-day necessity and joy. And most probably they’ll succeed. 

 

The post Everything You Need To Know About Augmented Reality and its Impact on SEO appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How to Measure the Success of Your SEO Efforts

SEO, like business and life, is all about constant improvement – and improvement is only possible when something can be measured.

 

Measuring SEO, however, is often easier said than done.

 

There is a staggering number of components and variables in the SEO efforts and several metrics are needed to gauge success. The complexity can be challenging, and it takes true grit to master the art and science of measuring SEO. Yet, the prize is worth it. 

 

How to Measure the Success of your SEO Efforts

 

Those who go the distance will win the best SERP rankings and gain a much-deserved competitive edge. If you want to succeed in today’s competitive digital landscape, you must make a commitment to be better at SEO than your competitors.

 

  1. The SEO-Measurement Struggle Is Real
  2. Patience Is an SEO Virtue
  3. Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for SEO Success
  4. Organic Search Traffic
  5. Keyword Rankings
  6. Social Shares
  7. Conversion Rate from Organic Search Traffic
  8. Backlink Volume
  9. Organic Click-Through Rate
  10. The Mountain Is High, but the Victory Is Sweet
 

The SEO-Measurement Struggle Is Real

 

Why is SEO success so hard to measure? For starters, SEO practitioners are bombarded with a huge amount of data to analyze. With so much data, it’s often difficult to reach cut-and-dry conclusions.

 

Data needs to be prioritized into information that’s important for your particular website. No two businesses have the exact same strategies, goals and objectives – and neither do any two websites.

 

The SEO data that’s important for one website may not be so important for another.

 

Data also needs to be “reportable”, so you can clearly explain it to managers and clients. If things get overly confusing, decision makers start getting frustrated with SEO practitioners.

 

Because the data can become so overwhelming, smart marketers use SEO dashboards that lay everything out into one easily-digestible view. A dashboard isn’t a cure-all, but it can make the SEO practitioner’s life much easier. Check out Cyfe’s SEO dashboard guide and cognitiveSEO’s tool for more info.

 

The struggle doesn’t end there, and the sheer volume of data isn’t the only challenge faced by SEO practitioners.

 

Another difficulty is that Google has developed a huge number of factors that go into the ranking process. The challenge is the fact that Google isn’t so quick to reveal what all these components even are. Yes, many of the biggest ranking factors are well known in the SEO industry. But there’s still so much that’s kept mysterious.

 

 

Also, SEO involves a diverse mix of several talents. Not only are logic and technical abilities needed to analyze SEO, but a large degree of creativity and problem-solving prowess are also necessary. Moreover, SEO is a multi-team effort. It often requires input from branding teams, marketing, web development, content specialists, and more.

 

But certainly, one of the most challenging aspects of implementing and measuring SEO is the fact that Google changes its algorithms constantly. The strategies and measurements we undertake today might very well have to be tweaked and adjusted tomorrow. In the world of SEO, experience and expertise is crucial.

 

Patience Is an SEO Virtue

 

With all the complexity involved in SEO, it’s no wonder why inexperienced practitioners get overwhelmed almost immediately. Many in the industry want fast results so they can know on the spot whether they’re on the right track. Nonetheless, it’s crucial to get used to measuring SEO over time, with patience and an understanding of how long things can actually take.

 

Monitoring SEO success is a marathon rather than a sprint.

 

Why? First, it’s important to note that it sometimes takes months for search engines to update their results pages. And even when they are updated, improvements in rank usually don’t happen simultaneously across all keywords you’re targeting.

 

Further, smart SEO practitioners aren’t merely measuring their clients’ online performance. They also need to keep track of the performance, ebb and flow of their competitors’ SEO. Like an astronomer monitoring the movements and activities of celestial bodies, the SEO professional studies numerous time-consuming processes that simply can’t be rushed.

 

How does one measure something as intricate and ever-changing as SEO? It all starts with KPIs.

 

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for SEO Success

 

In measuring SEO efforts, one often gets a dramatic sense of just how much data there is to work with. It’s sometimes difficult to reach cut-and-dry conclusions and give simple, direct reports to clients or management. The solution is to know which key performance indicators (KPIs) to use, and to tie the KPIs to the objectives of the client or business.

 

KPIs are the metrics and measurements you use to determine whether your business activities (SEO activities in this case) are successful.

 

It’s important to tie your KPIs to specific marketing goals. Your company or client has hopefully created a digital marketing plan that spells out some solid marketing objectives. These are the objectives you want to connect your KPIs to so you can accurately determine whether your SEO efforts are successful.

 

Whether the objective is to gain awareness for a new product, build a stronger brand or gain new leads for your client, you should know what business objective each SEO effort is striving to achieve.

 

Here are six important key performance indicators to effectively measure SEO success.

 

Organic Search Traffic

 

This is a useful KPI to measure for companies aiming to acquire new customers or leads. Organic search traffic refers to website visits that originated from search engine results and not through ads. Organic search results are displayed because they are relevant to search terms, not simply because an ad was purchased and placed in the search results.

 

not organic traffic

organic traffic

 

A related term, organic SEO, refers to the strategies used to help websites earn natural, high placements on search pages.

 

Benefits: Organic search traffic is a highly effective indicator of overall SEO success. When a website’s content includes keywords that frequently match what users are searching for, that website is likely to appear in a larger number of search engine results pages (SERPs) than competing websites.

 

With organic search traffic (as opposed to paid advertising,) searchers will find a website more consistently, and they’re more likely to stay on the website longer once they find it.

 

Challenges: Among the biggest challenges with organic search efforts is the frustration that Google (as well as other search engines) constantly changes its algorithms. When updates happen unexpectedly, SEO efforts can be directly affected without warning. In your analytics, observing sudden setbacks in performance may indicate such changes.

 

How to measure: Using Google Analytics, open the Acquisition menu. From there, select All Traffic, then select Channels.

google analytics

You’ll now be presented with a view of a website’s sources of traffic, which are sorted by channel. Select the Organic Search channel for a useful report that displays a site’s organic traffic stats.

 

This report is a versatile one. It gives SEO practitioners the ability to uncover critical information such as:

 

  • Which landing pages are the most effective at attracting traffic
  • Which keywords are delivering the highest amounts of traffic
  • Which of the search engines are directing the highest amount of organic traffic to a website
  • What pages are frequently the biggest exit pages (or the last page a visitor views before leaving the website)
  • And many other vital stats

 

Best Practices: Because of frequent changes to search engine algorithms (up to 600 changes per year for Google,) an SEO practitioner must be vigilant at all times. An important best practice is to anticipate such changes and have a keen awareness of them when using this KPI.

 

Keyword Rankings

 

Keyword Ranking is how well or how poorly a website ranks in SERPs for a given search term. Measuring this KPI is effective for determining, among other things, a company’s ability to build brand awareness. The lower the keyword rank, the better. Ranking on page one – or even better, the first result on page one – has traditionally been the highest goal.

 

Benefits: The strategy of analyzing your keyword rankings over time can help you determine (and improve) how effective your website is at pulling in organic web traffic.

 

The best results are achieved by tracking this KPI continually. When keyword ranking is checked on a regular basis, you’re able to diagnose problems early on. The goal is to quickly notice things like steady declines in ranking over a period of a few weeks. If you’re paying close attention over the long haul, fewer problems will sneak up on you.

 

Challenges: Many factors influence keyword ranking. For any given keyword, results on Google’s page one often look different from user to user.

 

Google results displayed on mobile devices can be different from results shown on a computer. Results can also vary based on the searcher’s location. Further, personalization (based on a user’s past behavior) can alter what is seen on page one. For example, a website might rank higher in a searcher’s results if that user has already visited that site frequently.

 

How to measure: Google analytics isn’t as helpful as some SEO practitioners would like it to be as far as tracking keyword rankings. Its keyword tab (within the campaign tab) often displays the phrase “not provided.”

 

Instead of Google analytics, consider the rank tracker provided by cognitiveSEO. One of its advantages is that it allows SEO practitioners to track keywords at a universal level as well as at a local level. It also allows you to analyze the keyword performance of competitors.

 

cognitiveSEO Rank Tracking

 

Best Practices: While keyword rankings can help you see the positive (or not so positive) results of your SEO activities, this KPI isn’t good at explaining why your strategies are working or not. Therefore, it’s very important to use this KPI simultaneously with other metrics.

 

Social Shares

 

Social shares can be defined simply as the sharing of your content by social media users. While it’s generally thought that Google does not take social signals and shares into consideration when ranking SERP results, social shares are still very important to your SEO efforts.

 

Benefits: Tracking your social shares is beneficial because of the important impact social media plays in SEO strategies. As more people share your content with their followers, the higher the chances that more people will view it and ultimately migrate over to your website. More visits to your website means a boost in organic search ranking.

 

Social sharing also boosts the likelihood that blogs and websites will link to your content – which, as I’ll soon discuss, is highly beneficial to your SEO efforts.

 

Further, social media profiles are indexable by search engines. Social posts with good rankings often have a significant number of social shares. Tweets and Facebook posts are handled as web pages, which is why a company’s social accounts often show up in SERPs along with the company website.

 

The SEO advantage here is that when a company’s social media profiles take important real estate in top positions of a SERP, that’s less space a competitor can occupy.

 

Challenges: While it’s true that social media profiles are indexable, it can be frustrating for some SEO practitioners to discover that not all indexable social-media pages actually get indexed. Because of the sheer number of tweets and other social content, Google can’t index all of it.

 

How to measure: Using Google Analytics, open the Acquisition menu. From there, select All Traffic, then select Channels. You’ll now be presented with a view of a website’s sources of traffic, which are sorted by channel. You’ll be able to view the sources of Search, Social, Direct, Referral, Email, Paid search, and “Other.”

 

Also, here’s a good resource from Yoast that guides you toward tracking social shares by adding social buttons to your site.

 

Best Practices: When monitoring this KPI, watch for any inaccurate geographic or business information on any of your profiles. Mismatched address information, phone numbers, websites, etc. could potentially lower your ranking on SERPs.

 

Another important point to keep in mind as you’re monitoring your social shares is that many users share content without even reading or viewing it first. To gain visitors and traffic to your website, observe which kinds of posts actually get users to click the content along with sharing it.

 

Conversion Rate from Organic Search Traffic

 

Companies striving for higher sales should measure conversion rates from organic traffic. A “conversion” happens when a website visitor has been converted into a sale or a lead. “Conversion rate” is the number of visitors who have completed the action or goal you’re aiming for. The goal might be for visitors to make a purchase (if you run an ecommerce site,) or to sign up for a newsletter or opt in to an email list.

 

Conversion rate is expressed as a percentage. If 5 visitors out of 100 were to do what a business (or individual) wants them to do, the conversion rate would be 5%.

 

It’s also important to note that a “lead” can mean several things. It can be a sales qualified lead, a marketing qualified lead, or simply any person who has expressed interest by identifying themselves through a web form.

 

Benefits: Organic traffic generated from inbound marketing is known for producing higher conversion rates than outbound marketing (such as paid ads). Conversion rates from organic traffic are therefore a very effective KPI for gauging the success of your SEO strategies.

 

Challenges: A high conversion rate is a reflection of good CRO (conversion rate optimization) practices. When measuring this key performance indicator, keep in mind that SEO and CRO professionals have traditionally conflicted when working on the same project.

 

CRO practitioners tend to be concerned that SEO efforts might affect their work and decrease conversion rates. Conversely, SEO practitioners sometimes worry that CRO pros will negatively affect their traffic-generating web pages.

 

For both sides of this marketing coin the solution is  to look at goals together and work side by side along the same path. The reality is that there’s no conflict between SEO and CRO when they work together for a common goal.

 

How to measure: Google analytics will help you measure conversion rates from organic search traffic. The first step is to establish conversion goals in Google analytics.

 

  1. Log in to Google Analytics
  2. Select Admin
  3. In the third column (View), select Goals
  4. Select “+ NEW GOAL

 

Goals Google Analytics 1

new goal google analytics

 

Next, give your goal a name, and mark the choice for Destination to choose a web page.

 

goal description google analytics

 

Input the URL your visitors will land on after they complete the goal – such as a confirmation page displayed after making a purchase, or a thank-you page.

 

Then, if you know a dollar amount for a goal value, add that as well. You’ll now be ready to track your conversions.

 

destination google analytics

 

Best Practices: Be as specific as you can when setting conversion goals. You’ll want to track the user journey from beginning to end. It helps know your micro and macro goals. A micro goal could be when a visitor lands on a specifications page for a product. The macro goal would be going on further to purchase the product.

 

Once you know your micro and macro goals, you can track them in Google Analytics’ Goal Completions. You’ll then have insight on whether your website’s functionality and design are effectively facilitating your visitors’ journey all the way up to goal completion.

 

 

Backlink Volume

 

Useful for measuring the authority and popularity of your website, backlinks (often referred to as inbound links) are links to your website that originate from someone else’s website. Backlinks to your site can also originate from other pages on your own site.

 

The strategy of acquiring backlinks is important because Google’s algorithm looks at link volume to judge the importance of a website. If your site has a larger number of relevant backlinks than what your competitors have, Google will rank your site higher.

 

The philosophy behind this is that if a multitude of other websites are referring to your site through backlinks, then the content on your site must be useful and important. And if your site is so useful to web searchers, that’s a signal to Google to give it priority on SERPs.

 

The key to measuring this KPI is to track your website’s backlink volume (number of backlinks) and compare it to your competitors’ backlink volume.

 

Benefits: Measuring this performance indicator will go a long way in helping you rank higher. By tracking it, you’ll always know where you stand with what some in the SEO industry view as the most important ranking factor used by Google. When you know whether you’re succeeding with your backlinks, you know how much you need to improve by.

 

There are several strategies that can be used to acquire more backlinks – including efforts such as nurturing online relationships, blogging, guest blogging, listing your site in directories, and other tactics.

 

The bottom line is that when you track your backlinks, you’ll know how much work is needed and which link-building strategies to employ.

 

Challenges: One challenging aspect of the KPI and strategy of backlinks is that the links need to be relevant to your website. For example, backlinks from a pet supplies website wouldn’t be very relevant when linked to a car manufacturer’s website.

 

Also, to be effective, an SEO professional can’t merely count relevant backlinks and call it good. Backlinks should come from websites that are themselves frequently linked to. Why?

 

Websites have varying amounts of “link juice.” This is a term casually used in the SEO industry to refer to a website’s backlink volume and the age of the site (a long history on the web is important to Google.) A website that gives backlinks to your site passes some of its link juice onto your site. Backlinks from websites with higher link juice are more valuable to your site than links from low link-juice sites.

 

How to measure: Using Google Analytics, open the Acquisition menu. From there, select All Traffic, then select Referrals. You can now look at your referral traffic, which is Google’s way of saying “backlinks.”

 

referrals googla analytics

 

Also, for a comprehensive backlink analysis tool, cognitiveSEO aggregates backlink data from trusted link databases and analyzes the links on demand for each of their clients.

 

Best Practices: As with other KPIs, it’s very important to track your backlink volume consistently, over time. Be aware of how many new backlinks you’re gaining week by week, and compare this to how many links your competitors are gaining.

 

Organic Click-Through Rate

 

While many marketers think of click-through rates (CTRs) as being tied to pay-per-click (PPC) ads, click-through rates are also very useful in the organic search realm. Organic click-through rate is a good KPI to measure the quality of your website. If web searches like what they see, they’ll dig deeper into your site.

 

A CTR is a straightforward metric: It’s the number of times a search result gets clicked, divided by how many views (or impressions) the search result has received.

 

Benefits: This KPI is useful because it helps you determine and demonstrate exactly how effective your search engine listings are at attracting clicks. After all, no matter how high your web site is ranking on Google, it won’t be of any value unless visitors are clicking it.

 

Challenges: One limitation of this KPI is that organic CTRs don’t tell you anything about the quality of the clicks your listings are receiving. Are you getting clicks from visitors who have no intent to make a purchase? Are you a local business who’s receiving clicks from people outside of your city (or even outside your country?)

 

Also, CTRs often fluctuate when universal results alter the position of your listings.

 

A decrease in your CTR might very well be caused by news results or featured snippets that come and go over time.

 

Another challenge is that CTR can also be affected by the devices used by visitors. Because SERPs aren’t exactly the same on mobile devices as they are on computers, click-through rates sometimes vary between them. While web searchers using mobile will often scroll through to the bottom of page one, they typically don’t view page-two results.

How to Measure: In the Google Search Console, select Search Traffic, and then Search Analytics. Next, choose the options to display clicks, impressions, position. You’ll then want to download this data, open it in Excel, and group all keywords by rank.

 

Calculating the average CTR of a rank is pretty straightforward. Simply add the clicks for each position. Next, divide the total by the number of impressions. You’ll now have your website’s general CTR curve.

 

Best Practices: Organic click-through rate should be measured along side of other analytics. Your Conversion Rate from Organic Search Traffic is a good KPI to monitor along with your organic CTR.

 

The Mountain Is High, but the Victory Is Sweet

 

If you’re out of breath after reading this post (or worse yet, discouraged,) don’t be overwhelmed! Take heart, force a smile, and accept the fact that victory never comes easy. Success and competitiveness are for those who are willing to work harder and get their hands dirtier. The bottom line here is that you can do this, and it will be worth it.

 

The keys to good SEO measurement are patience, dedication, and the ability to adapt to change. So get ready for the marathon, and keep your eye on the prize: measurable successes and a steep competitive edge.

 

About the Author 

 

Sagi is an online marketing expert and the head of SEO at InboundJunction, a premium content marketing agency based in Israel. With his technical and creative abilities, Sagi is constantly looking for the latest SEO trends and tools to formulate a winning search strategy. You can connect with him on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter.

The post How to Measure the Success of Your SEO Efforts appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Chatbot Marketing: Is It the Strategy of the Future ?

There’s a big hype going on about chatbots. If you’ve heard of them but aren’t quite sure what exactly they are or how they work, you’re in the right place.

 

This article will explain what chatbots are and how they can help you take your digital marketing to the next level. I’m not using “to the next level” as an idiom, because chatbot marketing might just be the next big thing. It has the potential to revolutionize the marketing world!

 

Is Chatbot Marketing the future

 

Chatbots can improve and benefit your marketing and sales in many ways.  They apply to support requests, e-commerce and even personal or informational websites. You can find some of the best techniques in this article.

In a nutshell, Chatbot Marketing is about promoting products and services using chatbots.

Stick with me and below I’ll show you exactly how you can set up your own chatbot, and how you can put it to good work plus many more. 

 

  1. What Is a Chatbot and How Does It Work ?
  2. Why Chatbots Are the Future of Digital Marketing
  3. Best Uses of Chatbots
    1. Personal virtual assistant
    2. Get Traffic & Grow Audience
    3. Buld e-mail list
    4. E-commerce & Conversational Commerce
    5. Customer Support
  4. How to Set up Your Own ChatBot
  5. Possible Concerns and Problems
    1. Trolls and Consumer Interest
    2. Spam & Malicious Intent
    3. Employers vs. Employees
  6. Can ChatBot Marketing Improve SEO?
 

1. What Is a Chatbot and How Does It Work ? 

 

Chatbots are complex computer software designed to chat with persons and perform different actions, from simple conversation to customer support and e-commerce.

 

A chatbot is short for “chat robot”. We think of robots as machines, but ‘robot’ actually means ‘forced labor’.

 

chatbots can work for you

Source: quickmeme.com

 

Chatbots can even talk between them, but most of the time they chat with humans and try to imitate real persons. Designers focus on passing the Turing Test with their bots. A bot passes the Turing Test when humans think they’re actually talking to another human.

 

The most popular online chatbots developed so far are mostly for fun. You can have basic conversations with them, but you will get bored pretty fast. Some will even perform a few basic tasks, such as searching the web for you and displaying images.

 

Some good examples of popular chatbots are Mitsuku and Cleverbot.

 

Popular chatbots

 

If you talk long enough to CleverBot, you will figure out that sometimes it’s not as clever as you’d expect. It’s rather arrogant, acting like that guy who thinks he knows everything. Don’t get me wrong, though. CleverBot is an incredible piece of software, and it’s one of the top in its niche. 

 

The basis for each chatbot program is the database. The database can be filled upfront with information. The larger and more detailed the database, the greater the knowledge base. When you ask a question, you basically send a request to the database. The bot then pulls out an answer and displays it.

 

Doesn’t sound too fancy, does it?

 

Well, hear this out:

 

Developers keep creating more sophisticated software, equipped with algorithms called recognition patterns. These programs first store new questions and answers into the database. Then, they make connections between them and develop new answers. 

 

Mitsuku and CleverBot learn from new questions and answers. They keep improving as they chat.

 

Here’s a short conversation with Mitsuku:

 

mitsukubot answer

 

Now it’s CleverBot’s turn:

 

CleverBot Chatbot Conversation

 

Well, it doesn’t seem very CleverBot, does it?

 

CleverBot then started asking me random questions, in its selfish journey to absolute knowledge and world dominance.

 

Anyway…

 

If you keep talking to the bots for little while, you realize pretty quickly that they’re not real persons. Nowadays, chatbots have gotten really advanced, but there’s still a lot of room for improvement.

 

Some have claimed that their AI chatbots have passed the Turing Test, but that’s not actually true. Chatbots are still far away from becoming true artificial intelligence.

 

A chatbot can pass the Turing Test by fooling people that it’s a real person. But that’s not very helpful. 

 

Rollo Carpenter (the developer of CleverBot) stated that Turing tests only prove a machine can “imitate” human intelligence rather than actually show it.

 

Or, how Hamza puts it…

 

 

In the next section, you’ll discover why chatbots are becoming more popular and why companies started investing in them.

 

2. Why Chatbots Are the Future of Digital Marketing

 

In case you don’t believe me that chatbots are a big trend now in 2017, here is what Google Trends has to say: 

 

Why are chatbots popular

The term had a big but very short trend somewhere between 2006 and 2007. This happened when the first chatbots appeared on the web.  Although cool at first, since they were not helpful in any way, people lost interest fast.

 

But the bots built today come in many ways and forms, and are useful for a very wide range of purposes.

 

In 2015, Baidu, China’s biggest search engine, introduced an artificial intelligence-powered chatbot to solve the healthcare crisis. Melody, the medical assistant, can chat with people at home to help diagnose possible illnesses.

 

Another helpful chatbot is Poncho. Poncho is a cute bot, designed as a cat. It sends daily weather forecasts in a friendly and funny way.

 

Poncho Weather Chatbot

 

As you can see above, Poncho does a great job at being fun and useful at the same time.

 

Abhimanyu Godara, founder of Bottr.me said that chatbots will fix the app clutter, as many apps can be replaced. He also said that soon, everyone will have their own chatbot.

 
Marketing is shifting from logos to faces, from brands to people. The chatbot talks to you, and the process becomes a lot more interactive, creating engagement.
Abhimanyu Godara Bottr Abhimanyu Godara
CEO at Bottr.me / @abh1manyu

 

Abhimanyu is definitely right:

 

You can see the personal brand business model become more and more popular (especially in the digital marketing industry). People like Gary Vaynerchuk, Neil Patel and Brian Dean and many others promote and use this model. Even Richard Branson is using his personal brand to promote his businesses.

 

Big brands will still be in the game, though. But every business will also have its own chatbot.

 

Here’s why:

 

Messaging apps are growing really fast. Faster than social media itself!

 

chat apps vs social media

Business Insider

 

If they become the #1 way people talk to each other, businesses will have to find a way to engage with their customers there.

 

Mobile search is growing, and Google is testing the mobile first indexing. This tells us that people will use the messenger apps even more. Chatbots apply best to people using mobile devices.

 

One way would be setting up customer support departments. That is not cost effective, and many businesses won’t do it.

 

The other way, is having a chatbot.

 

This will make small businesses a lot more competitive, especially in the digital industry. With the help of well set up bots, small teams will be able to manage a significantly higher amount of clients.

 

Even if it sounds crazy, chatbots might even challenge apps and websites! An app requires space, it has to be downloaded. Websites take time to load and most of them are pretty slow. A bot works instantly. You type something, it replies. Another great thing about them is that they bypass user interface and completely change how customers interact with your business. People will navigate your content by using their natural language.

 

 

But don’t get too hyped yet! Chatbots are still far from becoming a standard.

 

Ilan Kasan, CEO at Exceed.ai said in January 2017 that the chatbot technology is going through the Gartner’ Hype Cycle. Back then, it was standing on the Peak of Inflated Expectations. Right now, it started to fall in the Trough of Disillusionment.

 

Gartner Hype Cycle

 

The Gartner Hype Cycle is a timeline of how new technologies appear on the market. This applies to most things in the IT field.

 

As Ilan said it…

 
Get ready for the Trough of Disillusion … it’s coming soon. With it, many chatbot companies will vanish. Eventually, as the technology improves and the market understand the best use cases for chatbots, winners will emerge.
Ilan Kasan Ilan Kasan
CEO @ilankasan / exceed.ai

 

My research kind of proves Ilan’s theory.

 

I’ve contacted some people who use chatbots directly on their website. So far, their results were either mixed or missing altogether.

 
The experience is still confusing so even if people are trying it, it’s telling from their messages that they aren’t sure what the chatbot does or how it works.
seobrien Paul O’Brien
Blogger at seobrien.com / @seobrien

 

Here’s another response:

 

 

Now that was… Harsh.

 

On the other hand, on platforms like Facebook Messenger, the read rates can get extremely high. Matthew Barby, Head of SEO at Hubspot tells us about his experience:

 
It’s still early days and I have a lot more experiments ongoing within Messenger in particular, but I’ve seen read rates of my push messages of over 90% – which is insane!
matthew barby Matthew Barby
Blogger at matthewbarby.com / @matthewbarby

 

Still, even with all the current problems, setting up a bot can kickstart your site’s growth.

 

Sujan Patel, a renowned expert in growth hacking, has been talking about chatbot marketing as a growth technique for a while.

 
Chatbots can definitely be a growth tactic as it could help increase leads, start conversions/engage with potential customers and get feedback.
SujanPatelChatbotExpert SUJAN PATEL
Blogger at sujanpatel.com / @sujanpatel

 

Although people are barely scratching the surface of chatbots potential, it’s still a good idea to get started with them. Learning the technology now can gain you an advantage over the competition in the future. These types of software are prone to becoming popular in the days to come.

 

Let’s take a look at some of the best use cases for chatbot marketing.

 

3. Best Uses of Chatbots for Marketing

 

Chatbots can pretty much apply to anything, depending on how advanced they are. I already gave a few examples above, and you might have already figured out new ones by yourself. Here are some areas where they could best perform.

 

3.1 Personal Virtual Assistant

 

A virtual personal assistant can help you save a lot of time. Whenever you’re away, the bot will reply in your place. The better you set it up, the better it can give replies.

 

Nathan Hague, an awesome Australian marketer, uses one on his personal website. After a few seconds and scrolls on the website, the invitation to chat with it will pop up. The bot is an essential aspect of Nathan’s social media strategy.

 

Nathan Hague Chatbot

 

Clicking on the “Send to messenger” button will take you to Facebook messenger, where the bot takes action.

 

His bot is very well built and has an awesome vibe. You can see that Nathan did his best to showcase his personality through his bot.

 

Nathan Hague Messenger Chatbot

 

On his page, Nathan uses the bot to let people know he will respond. And he does! (Thanks, man!)

 

Paul O’Brien took a more complicated approach. He tries to replicate himself altogether, using a bot on his website.

 

I’m seeking a virtual assistant clone of myself. Have looked into a good number of bots and have yet to find anything that works. Bottr plus Replika might come close.
seobrien Paul O’Brien
Blogger at seobrien.com / @seobrien

 

On Paul’s blog, in the bottom right corner, you can notice what looks like a live chat icon. What catches your attention is Paul’s face in the icon.

 

Paul O'Brien's Chatbot

 

The bot still has a very long wait until it will be able to replace Paul completely. Still, you can pick from a set of questions and find more about Paul and his work. The answers are usually articles he has written on his blog or other websites. If the bot can’t answer something, it will put you in contact with Paul directly.

 

Having a personal virtual assistant can help you save time and get people engaged with your content. 

 

3.2 Get Traffic to Your Site and Grow Your Audience

 

Chatbots can help you send fans from social media directly to your website. You can definitely include them in your content marketing strategy.

 

Here’s an example from the WholeFoods Market, the company Amazon is planning on buying:

 

WholeFoodsMarket Chatbot 

 

On their Facebook bot, they engage with their audience by showing them interesting recipes. Before that, they narrow the posts down by the user’s preference.

 

Subscribing users to your bot can help you bypass the reach algorithms and all the other clutters on social media. While others will deliver posts in the news feed, you can send them directly into the users inbox. That’s where they chat with their friends, so you know they will see your message.

 

Remember, by engaging with your fans directly through their inboxes, you can get read rates of up to 90% of your subscribed users.

 

News publishers have been using this method in their content marketing strategy for a while:

 

CNN Chatbot

 

3.3 Build an E-mail List

 

The Facebook bot subscription works like an e-mail list. You can actually build an e-mail list with chatbots.

 

Nathan Hague recommends setting up  a bot to record any contact information the user may provide. This is a more complex action and requires a custom bot to be build by a team of developers.

 

My very strong suggestion though, is to use the Facebook bot more and more instead of email marketing! Remember, you’re renting your presence on Facebook and it can be taken away from you at any time! Keep building your email list in case something ever goes wrong. 

Nathan Hague Nathan Hague
Blogger at nathanhague.com / @australiawow

 

Still, he says that the upgrade from e-mail open rates of 10%-20% to Facebook messenger open rates of 90% is invaluable.

 

Try to use Messenger instead of E-mails, but keep building your e-mail list as a backup in case your Facebook profile/page ever gets banned.

 

3.4 E-commerce & Conversational Commerce

 

Buying products online can be really frustrating sometimes. You have to click a lot, look through many pages, compare and decide.

 

On a messaging platform, e-commerce becomes conversational commerce. Think of this like shopping in a small physical store, where you ask the owner what you’re looking for and he shows you the products.

 

Many companies are doing this. Here’s an example from Kayak, the travel search engine:

 

 

Some travel bots can even book your flight or your hotel room. Pizza Hut also uses a similar technique for their orders.

 

With a bot you can also classify prospects. It’s very easy to sort out consumer preferences. This also applies to all fields, from age, gender and location to interests and hobbies.

 

Fashion brands use this strategy to study new trends and learn about what their clients want.

 

Here’s an example from American Eagle:

 

 

Here’s another one from H&M, on Kik.

 

h&m chatbot

 

After you tell the bot your style, it sends you different outfits you might like. You can save them to favorites, skip them or select a specific product and buy it.

 

h&m sales bot

 

Unfortunately, I couldn’t purchase directly through the messaging app. Every time, the bot sent me to a website to make the final purchase. This is probably happening because I don’t live in the USA. Facebook Messenger payments are available in the USA since 2015, so we know it’s possible.

 

After a purchase is made, you can even set up the bot to follow-up and ask the user for feedback.

 

3.5 Customer Support

 

Customer support is the area where chatbots apply best. That’s because people today expect instant responses, and companies fail to deliver.

 

Just think about it:

 

When you shop online and have a question, or use a service and have some issues, don’t you prefer live chat over e-mail? E-mail takes time, live chat can solve the problem on the spot.

 

 

Chatbots can reply instantly to any questions. The waiting time is ‘virtually’ 0 (see what I did there?). Even if a real person eventually shows up to fix the issues, the customer gets engaged in the conversation, which can help you build trust. The problem could be better diagnosed, and the chatbot could perform some routine checks with the user. This saves up time for both the customer and the support agent. That’s a lot better than just recklessly waiting for a representative to arrive.

 

So far, support bots can’t actually fix problems seamlessly.

 

1-800-Flowers uses a mix of bot and human interaction. First, the chatbot is used to enable users in the conversation, then the real representative solves the issue.

 

1-800-Flowers Customer Support Bot

 

Twitter also has a support bot up and running. It’s a great way to learn about Twitter if you’re just starting out.

 

twitter chatbot support

 

You can only talk to it by tapping the buttons, so you aren’t really chatting with it. Playing with it, I can say it’s more like a FAQ database and  knowledge base.

 

Twitter Support

 

Big brands and businesses are already using this technology to reduce waiting time, and are even taking it to the next level. Enterprise chatbots for support might be expensive, but the investment is minimal compared to a whole support staff.

 

A friend of mine told me about an experience he had when calling a bank to solve an issue. He said that only by the time he ended the call did he realize he was actually talking to a robot.

 

There are many other ways you can use chatbots to improve your online marketing campaigns, but the ones listed above are the most popular and feasible. You can find many other ideas out there, from consumer analysis to personalized ads.

 

Let’s get to the golden part: setting up your own bot.

 

4. How to Set up Your Own ChatBot

 

One of the most popular and easy ways to set up chatbots out there is ManyChat. On their homepage you can get started for free.

 

You have to login with Facebook and the app will also ask you to assign a Facebook Page to it.

 

ManyChat Easy to setup

 

To create automated conversations, use the left menu in the Dashboard. Go to Automation -> Keywords, then simply click + New Rule:

 

manychat automation

 

Then, you can set up a keyword. If the user types that keyword to the bot, it will respond with the answer you set up. To set up an answer click on Create New Reply.

 

You can either set up a simple text message, or add Buttons from which the user can select.

 

Using Buttons is cool because you can select the type of content/action you want the bot to answer with (text, website or phone number).

 

Tapping an answer is also a lot faster, yet typing the answer instead of tapping won’t work.

 

type of content

 

You can keep adding buttons to new answers to create patterns. You can also insert galleries, audio files, images and other interesting things.

 

To add the chatbot to your website, go to Growth Tools:

 

Add ManyChat to Site

 

You will then have to Authorize the site and Install the ManyChat Snippet by going to the Setup section:

 

manychat snippet

 

First, add your site’s URL here:

 

add manychat to site

 

Then, copy and paste this code into the Head section of your website.

 

manychat code

 

Another great tool to use, which works directly on your website, is Bottr.me.

 

Unlike ManyChat, Bottr is not a Facebook messenger chatbot. It works directly on your website, so people won’t have to leave. Users interact with it similarly as with a live chat. It features easy access by placing an icon with your profile picture at the bottom of your site, just like on Paul O’Brien’s website mentioned above.

 

Setting it up is really easy.

 

First you have to register your account. Then, your bot will be prepared.

 

Once it’s ready, you can chat with it yourself, to see how it works.

 

How to set up your own chatbot

 

The team at Bottr is developing artificial intelligence technology. By connecting more social media accounts to it, the bot learns about you.

 

Artificial Intelligence Chatbot

 

It then uses the information to create new question suggestions and answers. For example, only from my Facebook and Twitter, the bot already knows I like Japanese cars. It also added an artist that was featured in a song I frequently listen to.

 

Artificial Intelligence Bot

 

From the chat dashboard, you can very easily add or remove questions. Then, to change them, simply trigger them in the chat, and click to edit. Select the type of content you want to be displayed and click Save. You can add text, images, links and create carousels.

 

Chatbot AI

 

If the chatbot doesn’t know how to answer a question, it will ask the user to contact you.

 

ChatBot Marketing AI

 

If you are online, you will be able to answer him right away. If not, Bottr will notify you by e-mail. You can easily type the answer. It will be recorded into the database for further questions.

 

Direct/Unanswered messages can also be viewed and edited in the Bottr Dashboard:

 

Set up you chatbot

 

To add the bot to your website, click the share button top right. You also have a chatbot analytics button near it. You can view stats about your bot’s performance.

 

Add a chatbot to website

 

And that’s about it. The more time you spend on building the chatbot, the better the customer experience will be.

 

For enterprise chatbots with custom features you will need a team of developers. You can also build it yourself, but the work volume required is bigger. Here’s a list of chatbot building platforms.

 

 

5. Possible Concerns and Problems

 

ai joke

 

Don’t worry, that scenario is highly improbable. Or is it ?

 

5.1 Trolls and Consumer Interest

 

Microsoft and Twitter launched an A.I. powered bot on Twitter, called Tay. It’s a very good example of a highly advanced chatbot. However, things escalated quickly. After only the first day, it was shut down.

 

TayTweets

 

Tay’s answers were based on a mix of reactions from all the people tweeting it. Some people started trolling, sending racist messages. Tay eventually reused some of those answers in its tweets.

 

The adult industry also stimulated a lot of demand in this field. Most of the online searches about chatbots revolve around … Yep! You’ve guessed it: sex. As Matthew Barby said in his article: “This is why we can’t have nice things.”

 

5.2 Spam & Malicious Intent

 

Spam is similar to cancer, as it expands in every marketing channel possible, as soon as it’s popular.

 

50 years ago, you would wait weeks for a letter. Now your mailbox is full of commercial stickers. 10 years ago, receiving an e-mail was celebrated. Today, your inbox is full of spam.

 

Soon, brands will start using mobile messages as a marketing channel.

 

Some of them already do!

 

I quit smoking almost 4 years ago and still receive the promotional messages from the brands I gave my information to in different campaigns.

 

What’s really bad about SMS is that sometimes it’s hard to unsubscribe. There’s no number to call, only a random 4 digit number. There’s no option on their website. It’s really hard to get in touch with them regarding this issue.

 

Remember not to abuse the trust of your audience by sending daily messages, but reserve if for messages that are almost GUARANTEED to be opened. Delight them. Surprise them. BRIBE them! Just don’t bugger things up by essentially, spamming them!

Nathan Hague NATHAN HAGUE
Blogger at nathanhague.com / @australiawow

 

Of course, there are exceptions. If you own a restaurant or have daily offers that change regularly, you can create a subscription plan like that.

 

Chatbots still fall short in making the conversation seamless. They often treat conversations like a game of Tennis or Ping-Pong: talk, reply, talk, reply and so on.

 

An article on Entrepreneur.com says the following: “An important point here is that while chatbots can be a great backup for real employees, as an alternative to call waiting, they have to appear real. If the chatbot is low quality and the customer can tell it’s not human, the result may be damaging customer feelings toward the brand”.

 

In my opinion, that’s bad brand positioning. People will eventually distinguish a bot from a real person, at least for now.

 

If you think people don’t like talking to robots, don’t fall into the trap of tricking them. If they figure out they have been lied to and are not actually talking to a real person, you will lose their trust. Customers will understand and accept the bots as part of their purchasing process in the end.

 

Don’t try to trick your audience. Today’s people bullshit detector is so high, you won’t last for 2 minutes. You will lose more trust if the customers find you are lying. They might think you’re also lying with the product and its quality.  It’s very hard to build trust, so don’t put it at risk.

 

5.3 Employers vs. Employees

 

If you work in any of the domains mentioned above, you have probably already figured out your job might be stolen by robots.

 

This is one of the future’s biggest problems, and it should be addressed. It’s no secret. Automatization creates less work places for humans. Unfortunately, evolution and adaptation are the only ways to progress.

 

A single bot has the potential to replace an entire team of people in different marketing channels. This is a no-brainer for employers all around the world.

 

If you’re interested in how high the chances are robots will steal your job, go to https://willrobotstakemyjob.com. Then, if you found out that robots are very likely to take your job… inspoirobot.me can make you feel even worse!

 

6. Can ChatBot Marketing Improve SEO ?

 

Having a chatbot only website sounds cool. But one of the problem with chatbots is that the content stored in the database is not indexable.

 

Sujan Patel advises us to stick to conventional SEO. So if you have important pieces of content, make sure you also post them  on your website.

 

Chatbots & SEO are two very different things. Make your content indexable and crawlable and stick to conventional SEO wisdom.
SujanPatelChatbotExpert SUJAN PATEL
Blogger at sujanpatel.com / @sujanpatel

 

But chatbots directly on your website can bring some SEO advantages. Dwell time and bounce rate are linked to rankings. Improving them can also grow your position in Google.

 

If a bot can retain users on your website, then it is definitely a plus. You could even make them trigger at different intervals while the user reads an article, to point out key elements. The possibilities are infinite.

 

SEO has far less to do with content and words than people think. Google ranks sites based on the experience people have with brands. If a bot can enhance that experience in such a way that people are more enthusiastic about a site – they share it, return to it, talk about it, and spend more time there, it will affect positively how the site appears in Google.
seobrien Paul O’Brien
Blogger at seobrien.com / @seobrien

 

On the other hand, Paul also tells us that if the bot negatively impacts the website, then the rankings can also drop.

 

Chatbots can also help you get links, likes and shares.

 

Here’s a simple process outline: User asks for subject => Bot replies with link to website => User clicks and reads => After a few minutes, bot asks: Did you like it? => Yes/No => Leave comment and share/How can we improve it?

 

As with anything else, when using bot marketing you have to be creative and original to stand out.

 

The marketing world is constantly evolving and we have to adapt. Marketing to millennials, for example, is very demanding. New generation clients have very different ways of going through the buying process. Chatbot marketing is a great innovative way to enable users like these to buy your products and share your brand.

 

If you liked this article, have any questions or feel I missed some points, please feel free to drop off a comment in the section below. Let’s get the conversation started!

The post Chatbot Marketing: Is It the Strategy of the Future ? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Step-by-Step Guide to Performing a Content Audit

Content audits can be very powerful and restorative, yet many content marketers and SEOs underestimate it, be it for its complexity, or its rather lengthy process. But if you want your content to perform, you should run a content audit from time to time. 

 

Step-by-Step-Guide-to-Performing-a-Content-Audit

 

It’s like those annual physical exams you take at the doctor’s. You know they are time-consuming and rather unpleasant, yet results are eye-opening and eventually rewarding. You benefit from knowing what’s to improve, what’s to remove, and what’s working at its best. It’s both a worry relief and a step forward to improving your content.

 

How many times did you publish a blog post and then left it where it was, without going back to check it for years in a row? No doubt many of us fall into this category. Good practice demands that we do constant repetitive checks so to provide a fresh, updated and charming content all the way to the bottom.

 

Quick Summary of a Content Audit

 

Before we launch in a whole WH questions and answers series, there are some things that help set the right introductory atmosphere. 

 

A content audit is meant to bring more performance, more quality, and better rankings and conversions to the content published on your website. In short, deploying a content audit will help both your SEO and content marketing efforts in boosting your business.

 

The audit process should be based on previously set KPIs in order to extract as much as possible from the available data and make good use of it. Contrary to common feeling, a content audit doesn’t necessarily have to go by the book. It is not an all-or-nothing process but a flexible one, always depending on your aims and goals.

 

Talking of data, the content audit is a qualitative analysis, and not a quantitative one, actually, known as content inventory. By engaging the former, you get to focus on content quality, customer and user experience, and content performance. 

 

There are times when content audits can go terribly wrong when not done right. It’s not because of you set objective and goals, but rather because of their absence or, worse, lack of knowledge on what to do with the gathered data.

 

That’s why we have put together a comprehensive but concise perspective on the content audit. You will find answers to questions like what, who, when, how, with what tools, and why, all uncovering the content audit hidden secrets.

 

  1. What Is a Content Audit?
  2. Who Performs a Content Audit?
  3. When Do You Perform a Content Audit?
  4. What Tools Do You Need To Perform a Content Audit?
  5. How Do You Perform a Content Audit?
  6. Why Is a Content Audit Important?
  7. Upgrade Your Content Audit Experience
  8. Conclusion
 

1. What is a Content Audit?

Content Audit Map and Assets

 

A content audit is a full qualitative inventory of all the indexable content on a domain. URLs are the sole identifier in Google’s index. This is what makes all your published content registered and crawled. Talking of which, it’s a common mistake to remove a content page instead of its search engine indexation when aiming to perform a pruning/removing action (we’ll talk about this later).

 

Marketers need content audit to get actionable insight on your content marketing strategy. This way, you will learn where you should focus your efforts more and what’s to do next. It helps you find answers to questions like: “Which content is performing best?”, “Which content do customers appreciate and engage with the most?”, and “Which content is already way past its intended glory?”. But as all things come easier when visualized, let’s check the video below:

 

 

A content audit lets you see what performs best, thus what’s to keep, what’s to improve, and what’s to remove. 

 

The main purpose of such a process is to improve the overall trust and qualitative services delivered to customers by the domain, optimizing all ranking signals, thus influencing crawl budget, Page Rank flow and much more.

Content may look rather lengthy and comprehensive, but it’s rather easy to track at the core. It mainly comprises 3 stages:

  1. inventory and audit – it concerns all indexable content, not crawlable content;
  2. analysis and recommendation;
  3. summary and reporting.

 

Whatever reasons you have when deciding not to take it, do it at least annually. It’s time-consuming so you should be ready to undertake it when your time and energy allow it. And also, when you’ll be ready with a clear set of objectives and goals go for it.

 

2. Who Performs a Content Audit?

 

There is no specific group of professionals who solely perform content audits. Nevertheless, marketers, SEOs, and content strategists are more prone to do it than others. 

 

There are tens of how-to guides on the internet on how to do a content audit. Yet people with a certain amount of field knowledge couldn’t read results and implement actionable steps better than aficionados or beginners.

 

3. When Do You Perform a Content Audit?

 

As previously said, a content audit is not a one-size-fits-all process. There isn’t a specific time when you should engage in a such a process.

 

However, most times it’s relevant to try an audit once you’ve you gathered some content history in your blog section. Or your domain has already been introduced to at least one applied content marketing strategy.

 

But most often marketers deploy a content audit when – guess what – they do need one. You need that actionable insight on how your content is performing and how your business is, broadly speaking.

 

Frankly speaking, once you find the courage to launch a content audit process you have had already pinpointed some goals.

 

You want to spot the website content that needs to be updated so to address today’s requirements and not (only) yesterday’s.

 

Or you look for content that asks for a second check, curation, and copywriting or rewriting for more quality. You even take into account removing limping content from the website if necessary.

 

Your goal is to gain insight on keywords that get traction, perform best, and eventually attract social signals and leads.

 

You wish to get down to business and check the keyword optimization score of each piece of content, spot your strongest pages and learn how to use them to their full capacity.

 

You need to get hands on with content marketing opportunities, and give a second chance to penalized or low-ranking content by recovering or re-editing them.

 

4. What Tools Do You Need To Perform a Content Audit?

 

First and foremost, you need yourself. Or a human being, per se. You can do the content audit by yourself alone, although it’s quite a big and sometimes exhaustive step. Or you could share the duty, and delegate some chores to another employee. You should do it patiently, step-by-step, at any given time and pace. Anyhow, you could always give it a try and use research automation tools.

 

From a starting point, there are plenty of tools to use when performing a content audit. Yet, as you might have guessed, there still are some that are preferred over the others.

 

Screaming Frog is the most popular go-to tool when it comes to crawling website content. Marketers find it rather comprehensive and satisfying. Screaming Frog can crawl up to 500 URLs with the free subscription version and has all the functionality apart from being able to save a data export. Whenever deploying content analysis, it can provide you details such as page title tag info, anchor text, response time, meta descriptions, URLs, title, title length, meta description and the length of it, major H1 and H2 headings on the page, or word count. 

 

Screaming Frog

 

URL Profiler, on the other hand, is a paid crawler, but a popular tool nonetheless. URL Profiler can help you improve your content audit tasks and provide you with raw fresh material for you to analyze on.

 

URL Profiler

 

In order to keep work organized and gain a broader view of their website content, SEO’s use Google Analytics for information such as the number of page visits, bounce rate, conversion data by page, time on page and many more.

 

Apart from the above-mentioned SEO tools, marketers often use Microsoft Excel, Adobe SiteCatalyst, SQL database, and Copyscape or Siteliner tools for checking content uniqueness.

 

5. How Do You Perform a Content Audit?

 

This is where the game really begins. In short, a content audit is about making an inventory of all search engine indexed content while following given metrics, and deciding what action is to be taken regarding various pieces and page of content – keep, improve, or remove.

 

If your website has both desktop and mobile versions, you should do two separate content audits. Although versions share the same URL, the code-base is different – one for mobile, one for desktop. 

 

We’ll dive into some mindful steps to take when deploying a content audit. 

 

First – gather all your data

 

Open and create an audit spreadsheet. You need it to keep work neat and tidy. Then compile all sitemaps and internal databases, such as all products lists and category URLs. Gather them separately, then organize them all in a single file.

 

Organize URLs

www.singlegrain.com

 

Now you can start to crawl all indexable URLs. Word of advice: don’t use just a crawler (say, Screaming Frog) as you might easily miss some URLs from the audit, but also Google Analytics and Google Webmaster Tools. After checking this down, filter out URLs that you don’t need to audit, in order to spare yourself from unnecessary work.

 

Second – consider using more metrics than you’re accustomed

 

It’s time you considered additional metrics. Search and use some more metrics and information, besides what you already get from crawlers. Apart from titles, descriptions, word count, and meta tags you should check organic search traffic, internal and external links, content uniqueness, conversions, publish date, time-on-site, pages-per-visit, page speed, and mobile friendliness.

 

Content Audit Metrics

blog.alexa.com

 

Note that time-on-site and pages-per-visit enter a special niche. Be it positive or negative results, they should always be taken with a grain of salt as they can point out to more than one situation. Sometimes customers find the information they’re looking for on your website from the very beginning, which makes them leave as suddenly as they came across you. This automatically influences time-on-site. Similarly, if somebody is satisfied with the information you provided on a page, they might very well feel it’s enough to convince them and no longer check other pages on your website.

 

Third – use a dashboard

 

Now that you gathered all the necessary content audit data, it’s time to tidy up. Organize all information in a dashboard. If your site is small, you can do it manually but if it’s larger, you should use Screaming Frog to automatically generate a list of your URLs.

 

Fourth – do the content audit

 

This is it. This is where the content audit really shines through. Once you’ve put all the information down in the dashboard, start to perform the content audit on it. 

 

See what content can draw penalties, be it because of its lack of quality and relevancy, or because of the existence of duplicate content. Take each case in turn and treat it wisely. See what needs rewriting, improving, left as-is, or pruning. More on this topic, check this article we published some while ago.

 

At this stage, you will gain access to a good set of  SEO and content marketing data. You will notice patterns and data behavior for SEO metrics such as page title, target keywords, meta descriptions, page visits, last updated date, inbound links, page bounce rate, page entries and exists, average time spent on page, 404 links.

 

As for content marketing data, you’ll get insight on metrics such as page length, word count, general topic, author, comments, shares, mobile-friendliness, desktop usability, CTA, and page score. Depending on the type of website content – article, blog post, infographic, info page, landing page, publication, news story, FAQ – you can get more or fewer user data and actual feedback on them and also see if it’s outdated or still trendy.

 

Fifth – get down to action

 

Decide on a set of steps to take after you complete your content audit. Now it’s time to dive deep into your gathered data, gain insight, draw conclusions, and get down to revolutionizing actions.

 

Content Audit Chart

www.contentmarketingup.com

 

Depending on your set objective and goals, you should focus and do the follow-up action phase after completing a content audit. Rewrite or remove low-quality content pages, go for more promotion with high-performing pages on social media networks, create more trending content pieces similar to the highest-converting ones spotted while content auditing.

 

Setting to-do lists is one thing, but executing what’s written in them is totally another thing. Wisdom calls that you set deadlines to accomplish your outlined actions. Keep track of yourself and your content marketing strategy.

 

6. Why Is a Content Audit Important?

 

Knowing all the assets that exist on a website is important both for a website owner and also for an SEO or digital marketer. Having the documentation of the content audit in handy so you can use it in hard times is essential. Depending on your results, you’ll see what’s to change and what’s to consolidate in your content marketing and SEO efforts.

 

Also, being able to identify which type of content has worked in the past, which gets the most links, and which gets the most social signals, allows you to plan a future strategy which is based on real actionable data.

 

A content audit allows for an effective content strategy to be built around it, or even to measure whether the current content strategy is working. This is game-changing both for the popularity of the website and revenue. 

 

From a sales conversions point of view, it can provide you with a clear insight on what content is helping you in your revenue building process. It helps you understand how a visitor navigates and interacts with the website.

 

A content audit is needed when you want to have a complete idea of the content assets, their usefulness and where gaps needed to be filled. It is also useful in developing future content themes and types.

 

7. Upgrade Your Content Audit Experience

 

Spy on your competitors

 

Now that you’ve got the taste of it, track your competitors’ content performance, identify their content gaps, and use the collected data to your advantage and learning.

 

When performed against competitor websites, content audits can reveal weaknesses and strengths. If you find that one of your competitors is using a certain type of content extremely successfully, you can analyze it, see whether it fits in with your online marketing strategy, and fold it into the content plan for a test run.

 

Usually, there will be enough competitors in your marketplace for you to analyze and develop a complete content audit of the whole niche. This is very useful if you wish to dominate the space, it enables you to allow others to test the market with differing types of content, spending money on both success and failure, to allow you to come in and only spend time and energy on what has proven to work. Fill the missing spot in the content industry with the help of actionable data.

 

With Site Explorer you can see and evaluate the number of links your competitors have. Moreover, you’ll gain valuable insight on who linked them, and whether links come from authoritative domains and pages.

 

Site Explorer links

 

Site Explorer DoFollow NoFollow Links

 

Following the same pattern, you can analyze their best performing content pieces by checking them with Keyword Tool and Content Assistant tool. Check what steps they chose to employ to best optimize their content, how many focus keywords they used. Details such as readability score, words on page, and content performance will provide a deeper look at their strategy.

 

Content Assistant Suggestions

 

Interpret social signals

 

There are many tools available to index and collate the social signals of a website. This is now an essential part of the content audit as it reveals which content works well with the customers.

 

It’s not just to see whether the crowd likes the content or not, as to see whether the content is promoted properly or not. You can have the best content in the world, but if it is not promoted among social groups, it might be worthless.

 

What the content audit reveals is crucial information, and can reshape your content strategy. Sometimes, an audit can reveal hidden gems and give ideas of what future content to create, allowing you to increase the ROI of the marketing spend.

 

Social shares and mentions are very important in the process of triggering links. With BrandMentions you can visualize the number of mentions by day in a set span of time, and how many are on web and which on social media – Twitter. Given you have selected a specific location and language, you can see who and where that specific mention come from. 

 

BrandMentions social shares

 

Links

 

We need to know which pages have links, where the links are coming from, and how powerful the links are in the eyes of Google. After grasping the needed lessons from both competitors and your site, you can adjust your content marketing strategy for the better.

 

Site Explorer provides a graphic visualization that enables you to quickly understand the link structure of your site. All the displayed dots are pages that linked to your site. These links bear information worth taking into account. Just hover over them and you gain insight on their link influence, domain influence and date last seen.

 

Visual Link Explorer

 

By correlating data we have gathered with the backlink data, we can have access to certain interesting aspects, such as:

 

  • Do specific subjects get more links?
  • Are certain promotion techniques better than others at getting links?
  • Can social signals trigger links on the world wide web?
  • Which specific content types are more popular with social and link building?
  • What content should we be concentrating in the future?
 

Conclusion

 

Everyone will have their own method of performing a content audit and you should develop the method which works for you best. It’s not a one-off process that you deploy once in a lifetime. You will perform it more than once, and every time things will be different. All depends on your style, your needs, and your goals.

 

The work flow is just as important as the tools you use. Having a methodology and a process is crucial to ensure that results are reached in an efficient and speedy manner.

 

The conclusion of the content audit analysis is shaped by what the purpose of the audit was in the first place, thus make sure you have previously defined reasons for performing one.

 

Beware of the analysis paralysis trap. No doubt everyone is fighting it. There’ll be a point when the data will be abundant, thus so many conclusions to draw and a whole array of actions to deploy, that you’ll probably block or experience fright. Especially when you’re doing it for the first time. Don’t be intimidated by the data. Concentrate on the few metrics that are relevant to you and make sure these are gathered and presented in a logical clear format. 

 

Remember: content audit is an opportunity for you to improve your content marketing processes. So shine on with it!

The post Step-by-Step Guide to Performing a Content Audit appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

12 Inspiring Workspaces from Awesome Digital Marketers

As many of you know, cognitiveSEO likes tackling in-depth, extensive digital marketing topics. We like going all analytical with our blog posts and case studies. There are two reasons behind it. One – to find as many solutions as possible to questions we marketers have. Two – we enjoy to dive deep into research and learn new marketing tips. 

 

We’ve decided to write something out of our comfort zone: an article dedicated to awesome workspaces belonging to great digital marketers.  This article has proved to be more than just a novelty for us: it has been a genuine highway to fun. 

 

 

But one way or another, creating a set of cool digital marketer workspaces seemed a hip idea, therefore we gave it a go. Plus, it is a great way of proving Cynthia Rowley’s theory which goes like this:

 

I’ve got a theory: if you love your workspace, you’ll love your work a little more.
Cynthia Rowley Cynthia rowley
Fashion Designer at Cynthia Rowley

Each desk has a personality similar to its owner. So we went hunting for the best workstations in the marketing field. We wanted to find out what type of personality they have based on their workstation.

Stay with us on this journey and you’ll discover: 

  • how we paved our path to delivering the “coolest workspaces in the digital marketing world”;
  • which marketers accepted the challenge, and disclosed their office spaces/coworking spaces;
  • who they are;
  • their pics and must-have gadgets, and eventually;
  • what to learn from this experience.

 

These are the professionals who spiced up our “Cool Marketing Workstations” list:

 

  1. A Down-to-Earth Guy’s Workspace by Jack Meredith
  2. The Minimalist’s Office by Eduardo Yi
  3. The Bold One’s Work Desk by Wilson Hung
  4. The Winner-of-’Em-All’s Workspace by Sean Bestor
  5. The Restless Traveler’s Office by Tomas Laurinavicius
  6. The Practical Guy’s Office Desk by Benjamin Beck
  7. The Rebel’s Office by Sol Orwell
  8. The Artist and Marketer’s Workspace by Ty Magnin
  9. The Marketing Guru’s Office Desk by Derric Haynie
  10. The Champion’s Workspace by Sujan Patel
  11. The Magician’s Office by Benji Hyam
  12. Superman’s Office Desk by Aaron Orendorff

 

The Roll-out

 

From the very beginning, the article generated a fun-mode-on atmosphere at cognitiveSEO. Although we were the ones writing the blog post, guess we ourselves were the most eager ones to hear from the digital marketers we outreached to.

 

There are not tens, nor hundreds, but thousands of people who delight in creating inspiration boards on Pinterest regarding their home, office space, garden and so on. Probably, you are one of them too. Compiling this set of inspiring workspaces from digital marketers around the world was like a Pinterest activity. Which is kinda awesome!

 

But the cherry-on-top was the sneak peak we were about to be introduced to.

 

Fellow marketers across the globe, people we admire and look up to, either from wide-known organizations or fresh start-ups, have disclosed the aces up their sleeves when it comes to devices, gadgets and things they couldn’t live without on a daily basis.

 

It all started from a Slack post:

 

screenshot slack invitation

 

A few days later, we already had answers from notable marketers such as Sean Bestor, Benjamin Beck, and Sol Orwell. Great! Just a few more to enlist in our challenge and we could call this article a success.

 

Browsing them you’ll see how different professionals are from one another. Needless to say, their digital workspaces too. Apart from details such as shape, size, or location, you’re soon to notice how diverse these marketers are from one another. Hipsters, neat freaks, minimalists, clutter fans, you name it, they’re all there.

 

 

All digital marketers who accepted the challenge had to answer to a couple of questions:

 

  1. Take a photo of your cool desk setup, upload it to your favorite file sharing service and share it with us.
  2. What’s on your desk? Make a list of items and share your reasons why you can’t live without them.

 

Without further ado, let’s see the coolest digital marketers workstations in our industry.

 

 

1. A Down-to-Earth Guy’s Workspace by Jack Meredith

 

Roost stand: Getting a Roost stand changes your life. Never be hunched over again.
Jack Meredith Jack Meredith
Senior Growth Marketer at Kettle & Fire / @jvmeredith

 

Jack Meredith is a Senior Growth Marketer at Kettle & Fire, and co-founder at Open Eye Signal, a web design, and marketing consulting company for SMB’s and start-ups. He is a growth marketing junkie and full stack marketer, with a taste for early stage companies.

 

These are the items you’d normally see on his desk at work:

 

  • Asus VS239H-P 23-Inch Full HD 1920×1080 IPS HDMI DVI VGA Back-lit LED Monitor. Not the greatest monitor but it gets the job done for a marketer;
  • Roost stand: Getting a Roost stand changes your life. Never be hunched over again;
  • Logitech K380 Multi-Device Bluetooth Keyboard: Reliable, found via wire cutters;
  • Logitech Wireless Marathon Mouse M705: Reliable, found via wire cutters;
  • AKG K 240 Semi-Open Studio Headphones: Cost-effective headphones that give Bose and Beats headphones a run for their money.

 

Jack Meredith's work desk

 

2. The Minimalist’s Office by Eduardo Yi

 

My desk setup is very minimal—and that’s intentional.
Eduardo Yi eduardo yi
Lead Content Marketer at Teachable / @eduardoyi

 

Eduardo Yi is the Lead Content Marketer at Teachable, a job he loves having, as he states in his LinkedIn bio. As a digital marketer, I’m just happy to have found a career path in which work means nerding out, he says. That’s creative thinking, for sure!

 

In a similar tranquil vibe and with youthful transparency, he told us what he uses at work on a daily basis:

 

  • My desk setup is very minimal—and that’s intentional. I have very little stuff lying around to avoid distractions.
  • A second screen, keyboard, and mouse are all I really have in there.
  • The standing desk also helps me stop procrastinating, just because I get tired of standing and feel like I should just get stuff done so I can go sit.
  • I also have a plant, which is not mine…but I water it sometimes anyway.

 

Eduardo Yi's work desk

 

We already like the guy. There’s much to learn from him. In wisdom, we can all learn how true and topical the saying “less is more” is.

 

Our mind can make associations in an instant and thus lose its focus, yet if we try to keep ourselves concentrated, we should take the example of Eduardo and try to get rid of every distractor that is standing in our way of having the job done.

 

3. The Bold One’s Work Desk by Wilson Hung

 

Airpods: Totally worth it. I can walk around the office or stretch while I’m on calls.
Wilson Hung wilson Hung
Growth Marketing at Kettle & Fire / @wilsonghung

 

Wilson Hung is in charge with Growth Marketing at Kettle & Fire, and previously with Growth at SumoMe. In addition, he created wilsonhung.com, a growth support company.

 

Wilson wrote detailed essays on growth featured in Forbes, ConversionXL, SumoMe, and shared by Andrew Chen, Guy Kawasaki, and 500Startups. Were he to talk about his life experience, he would start telling you how he quit his job as a chemical engineer to apply a data-driven and scientific approach to acquiring customers. His life roadmap is quite inspiring; if curious, check here.

 

When asked about what’s usually on his desk, here’s what he said:

 

  • Dual Monitor Setup: this is critical as it allows for increased productivity. Left monitor will normally be Slack, or a data set (spreadsheet), where as the Main monitor will be the “productivity/working” monitor;
  • Far Right Task Management with Sticky Notes: Segmented based on “Completed This Week, High Priority, Medium/Low”. I can never keep my Trello board updated, but something about seeing it all the time on my desk helps prioritize my workload. Every Monday starts with prioritizing my week/sticky notes;
  • Bluetooth Mouse + Keyboard: Again, spend extra money on tools you use every day. Don’t settle for using your laptop’s trackpad. Instead, improve your ergonomics and also productivity (mouse set up super high sensitivity will allow you to click/move around that much faster);
  • Airpods: Totally worth it. I can walk around the office or stretch while I’m on calls;
  • Notepad + Notebook: I use notepad for one-off things like sketching funnels, pricing, random thoughts. I use the notebook for meetings + keeping organized so I can refer back to meeting notes + action items;
  • Aeropress + Coffee: Coffee at my office sucks, so I make my own =) Plus it’s a good routine in the morning + after lunch and helps me take breaks;
  • 1L Water Bottle: Gotta stay hydrated, and the bigger the bottle, means less times you have to get up and refill.

 

Wilson Hung's work desk

 

4. The Winner-of-’Em-All’s Workspace by Sean Bestor

 

Air Traffic Control Headphones: No joke, I use these all the time. I write best in absolute silence. $20.
Sean Bestor Sean bestor
Former Content Marketer at Sumo / @sbestor15

 

Sean Bestor from Sumo was among the first ones to send a picture of his digital workspace and must-have gadgets.

 

Sean has an extensive experience as a creative digital strategist and marketer. Plus, he has a track history of being a multiple award-winning copywriter.

 

By the time we collected answers from fellow marketers, he was still working at Sumo, writing the coolest stuff on the web, quoting him from LinkedIn. At the present, he is a Digital Strategist at Whole Foods Market, a company that has been on Fortune’s Best Places to Work List every year for 20 years straight. You should also check his website, it’s pretty cool and info-packed.

 

And because humor never hurt anybody, he chose to embrace it and make us giggle. See for yourself in the lines below:

 

  • My computer – A definite upgrade from the “Speak and Spell” I had in 1st grade;
  • Notebooks – I sketch landing pages, product pages, funnels and ad ideas in here all the time. Can’t have enough of these;
  • Tiny Alcoholic Drinks: As a warm-up to my bigger alcoholic drinks;
  • Beats Headphones: For when it’s time to get creative with maximum base;
  • Air Traffic Control Headphones: No joke, I use these all the time. I write best in absolute silence. $20;
  • Camelbak Eddy: A gift because apparently walking to the faucet and putting your face under the spout 20 times a day is frowned upon;
  • Signed Champagne Bottle: From my initiation at Sumo, everyone signed it;
  • Cubs Hat: I don’t actually like the Cubs. But on a retreat, we got to watch them play (the year they won the World Series). That was pretty fun;
  • Autonomous Stand Up Desk: Just a game-changer. Though honestly, I sit on the couch most of the day.

 

Sean Bestor's work desk

 

5. The Restless Traveler’s Office by Tomas Laurinavicius

 

To organize my daily to-do list I use Todoist and physical notebook from Collins.
Tomas Laurinavicius Tomas Laurinavicius
Lifestyle Entrepreneur at tomaslau.com / @tomaslau

 

Tomas Laurinavicius is a digital marketing, media contributor, and writer, but could easily be taken as a wanderer. He is 25 but has checked more things than others could do at this age. He describes himself as having an ENTJ personality, hence his thrive, charisma, and confidence.

 

Tomas is a lifestyle entrepreneur and blogger from Lithuania, writing about habits, lifestyle design, and entrepreneurship on his blog and weekly lifestyle newsletter – tomaslau.com. Simultaneously, he is a contributor to many renowned media, business, and marketing outlets in the world, such as Forbes, Observer, Huffington Post, Influencive, Creative Cloud and The Next Web. He enjoys sharing his knowledge and coming with effective solutions that inspire others.

 

His latest ambition and desire is to travel the world and empower 1 million people to change their way of living life from that day on.

 

But getting back to cool digital marketers workspaces, let’s see his:

 

  • MacBook Pro 13″ is the most important machine I use daily to run my business, write, learn and plan my travels.
  • To improve my posture I recently invested in STANDapart, a featherweight laptop stand, Magic Keyboard and Magic Mouse to keep things clean and wireless.
  • To organize my daily to-do list I use Todoist and physical notebook from Collins.
  • Most of the other time I use iPhone 6s Plus, for reading Kindle, Scribd and iBooks. Alternatively, I use my iPhone to take quick digital notes, get directions for coffee shops I want to try next and take photos.
  • For the last 2 years, I kept my workspace extremely minimal and portable while traveling to over 30 countries.

 

Tomas Laurinavicius' work desk

 

Lessons to learn, you ask? Needless to say we need more courage to do what we dream of. There’s not much you need to know about Tomas to see his thrive towards making his dream a reality. He put effort in achieving this, but more important, he put ambition. And we guess this works as a marketing tip too.

 

6. The Practical Guy’s Office Desk by Benjamin Beck

 

Mouse – With my laptop being so high I need a mouse and I like to game so I like a wired mouse more than a bluetooth.
Benjamin Beck Benjamin Beck
Founder of Link Building Class / @ben_beck

 

Benjamin Beck is one professional that likes things to be clear and straightforward, but never leaves quality and client satisfaction out of topic. He is the creator of the free email course Link Building Class. The platform sends you comprehensive lessons on link building techniques deployed by top professionals to rank higher in some of the harshest industries. All for that nerve racking way of increasing organic rankings and traffic.

 

Beck is set on helping businesses succeed online, thus he came up with benjaminbeck.com. As an online marketing specialist, Benjamin comes with an enviable set of skills meant to solve start-ups, charities, and small businesses’ problems in connecting with customers and growth.

 

Guessing you’re anxious to find out what’s on his desk, we shall proceed further with the list:

 

  • Roost Stand – Portable laptop stand that saves my neck!
  • Bluetooth Keyboard – Portable so I can still type fast;
  • Mouse – With my laptop being so high I need a mouse and I like to game so I like a wired mouse more than a bluetooth;
  • Headphones – I just got some Bose noise cancelling headphones which are nice;
  • Messenger Bag – I use a Timbuk2 bag to carry all my gear wherever I go. Have had it for 4 years now.

 

Benjamin Beck's work desk

 

Beck usually works remotely, which undoubtedly has its perks. Nice background! Should one ever want to take a break and do some fun exercise, the climb walls are right at hand.

 

 

7. The Rebel’s Office by Sol Orwell

 

I like pictures. On the left is a pic at my sister’s wedding, in front of me is a pic of my woman and I at NYE, and on the right is me as a baby with my grandparents (my grandpa was a badass – literally born on the streets, rose to become a Supreme Court Judge).
Sol Orwell Avatar Sol Orwell
Co-Founder of Examine / @sol_orwell

 

Apparently, traveling has become a real phenomenon. Interesting enough is that traveling is not just a medium to escape the ordinary work life or procrastinate duties, but it’s more of a boost to your inspiration and fuel to your work binge.

 

Sol Orwell, 30, is just the right match to this trend. One thing Orwell couldn’t live without is traveling. For him, having independence is paramount, and he doesn’t let anybody control his time and freedom of movement.

 

Sol Orwell is a well-known digital marketer, mostly known for co-founding Examine.com, a site selling reports on nutritional supplements, and for speaking about entrepreneurship. Over 15 years of entrepreneurship, 6 companies, over 8 figures generated – all these surely must point to an inspiring professional.

 

He likes to say that he is semi-retired, and we can see both the sense and the irony, as we know his free lifestyle. He says he’s living the immigrant dream, as he likes creating companies in different niches and then hand them over to someone else, people who are able and entitled to make the most out of them. If curious for more, you should check this.

 

Here’s what he wrote us about his work essentials:

 

  • It’s my work space, so I like to keep it simple and clean.
  • I like pictures. On the left is a pic at my sister’s wedding, in front of me is a pic of my woman and I at NYE, and on the right is me as a baby with my grandparents (my grandpa was a badass – literally born on the streets, rose to become a Supreme Court Judge).
  • I have my Field Notes (every time I meet people I take it with me – I never use my phone for any notes), and my Productivity Planner (which keeps me on track).
  • Otherwise, I Just have trinkets I have picked up from travels and others have given me. Eg the little toy “dog” on the left was given to me by my buddy Andy Morgan, who flew all the way from Tokyo to Toronto because we invited him to a potluck we were hosting. It reminds me of all of the crazy connections I’ve made through the Internet.

 

Not only he is a valuable, inspiring marketer, but also a great story-teller. He made us dive deep into visualizing the people, places, and objects mentioned by him.

 

Sol Orwell's work desk1

 

8. The Artist and Marketer’s Workspace by Ty Magnin

 

MacBook Pro with 16gb ram. I spend so much time on my computer. Having a fast one with a big screen is worth the investment.
Ty Magnin Ty magnin
Director of Marketing at Appcues / @tymagnin

 

Ty Magnin is Director of Marketing at Appcues, and previously first marketer at Work Market, with extensive experience as a digital and content marketer. Having roots in poetry and film production, he is one authentic fellow marketer.

 

Simultaneously, Magnin built tymagnin.com, where professionals can learn how to boost upvotes on ProductHunt, build blog audiences, and scale self-services. He is talking big numbers, in support of his tips and tricks, all experienced by himself at first hand with his marketing strategies.

 

His philosophy is “fewer but better”, which has greatly impacted the way he approaches blogging, email marketing, customer stories, and life in general. His experience as a video producer and writer helped him shape both his lifestyle and skills. One thing he learned is this: “Most of marketing is writing. I think if you have a love of writing, you get focused on the particulars. That attention to detail plays out when you’re writing marketing copy and orchestrating campaigns”. More on his career roadmap as a successful digital marketer here.

 

Because we particularly enjoyed reading his list and the little stories attached to each thing on his desk, we’d like to share it with you:

 

  • Macbook pro with 16gb ram. I spend so much time on my computer. Having a fast one with a big screen is worth the investment;
  • Sticky notes with frameworks/themes. I need constant visual reminders to make an idea a habit. These sticky notes help remind myself of the important frameworks I’ve set for the marketing team to keep us aligned;
  • Matcha tea. I can’t drink coffee. It makes me tense. Matcha green tea has let me switch off of it, and it’s great for you;
  • Headphones. I often listen to the same song on repeat all day when grinding it out. Music helps me focus sometimes;
  • Second monitor. I like using this because it helps my posture. I’ve had this background image for years now—it’s the New York Public Library and always inspires me to work and study hard;
  • Off to the left you can see my standing desk. Sometimes it’s great to extend my legs;
  • Hat from Bali. No real reason this is here other than I like wearing it.

 

Ty Magnin's work desk

 

9. The Marketing Guru’s Office Desk by Derric Haynie

 

Business cards, 23 inch monitors, speakers.
Derric Haynie Derric haynie
CEO at Vulpine Interactive / @SixPeppers

 

At present CEO at Vulpine Interactive and Co-Chapter Director at Startup Socials, Haynie manages to rock that work experience as a marketer. With several high positions as CEO, Head of Growth, Co-Founder, or President, Derric Haynie is the entrepreneur to go to when in need of counseling and effective solutions. In addition, he enjoys working with his wife, Shana Haynie, in running events on marketing, entrepreneurship, and startup growth.

 

Vulpine Interactive is about social media marketing, in terms of content, branding, engagement, and analytics. It helps professionals across the globe to manage and grow their teams, innovate their social media strategies, and build powerful brands and passionate fans.

 

As for Startup Socials, this one is a global events company meant to connect and empower people in the startup ecosystem.

 

Eager to find out what Haynie’s workspace looks like? Brace yourself, as you’ll be surprised:

 

  • Business cards.
  • 23 inch monitors, speakers.
  • I have this button that says “Fuck” on it, and when you hit it, it says something ridiculous. It’s for stress relief.
  • Mic stand and camera are very important as well.

 

Derric Haynie's work desk new

 

Don’t know about you, but we love the sense of humor marketers display nowadays. After all, that’s all life is about – knowing how to deal with things and situations. Interesting, though, how much you can grasp from a concise snippet as such.

 

Talking of humor, we have a challenge for you: Spot the button in the picture!

 

10. The Champion’s Workspace by Sujan Patel

 

Batman Clock. I’m a big batman fan and even have a batman tattoo on my arm. The clock reminds me to have a life and help people as the clock was a gift from someone I helped through a tough time.
Sujan Patel sujan patel
Co-Founder of WebProfits / @sujanpatel

 

With a vast experience in digital marketing in general and SEO, content marketing, PPC, social media in particular, Sujan Patel outruns many marketers with his knowledge. He is a data-driven marketer, entrepreneur, and avid writer for publications as Forbes, WSJ, Inc., and Entrepreneur Magazine.

 

His hobbies are growing companies and helping others solve problems. Sujan is the Co-Founder of WebProfits, a growth marketing agency. He says he enjoys sharing everything he knows and usually creates more content than most consume.

 

Our advice is to check his website, and join his weekly newsletter or get in touch with him, as you’ll benefit from a lot of rich, useful information.

 

Although he usually works 80 hours/week, Sujan Patel loves hitting the gym in the early hours of the day when most of us are snoring out loud. If he’s not there, you’d most probably find him at the race track racing cars and motorcycles, or conquering the skies while skydiving. Interesting though how sometimes hobbies emerge from fears – at least that’s what happened to him and his fear of heights.

 

Getting back to workspaces and must-have tools that change the world, here’s Sujan’s workstation:

 

  • Batman Clock;
  • Macbook Pro 13inch;
  • iPad Pro 12inch used mostly as a 2nd monitor;
  • Unicorn Pen;
  • Notebook;
  • I’m a big batman fan and even have a batman tattoo on my arm. The clock reminds me to have a life and help people as the clock was a gift from someone I helped through a tough time;
  • Macbook Pro & iPad Pro are perfect for travel and working anywhere;
  • I use a pen & notebook to write down things that I need to remember, brainstorm and doodle. I also use evernote but I haven’t been able to replace goold of fashion pen and paper;
  • I hate clutter and things. I try to keep my life simple as all I really need is a computer, phone and internet connection to live 90% of my life.

 

Sujan Patel's work desk

 

11. The Magician’s Office by Benji Hyam

 

Nothing.
Benji Hyam Benji hyam
Co-Founder of Wordable / @benjihyam 

 

Benji Hyam is the Co-Founder of Wordable and Grow and Convert, with massive experience as a digital marketer, having also previously run marketing for two VC backed startups. His experience in the marketing industry has lead him to successfully outrun fellow marketers, and leave a mark in each company he worked with.

Wordable, previously Postable.io, is a SaaS web app where professionals can import posts from Google Docs to WordPress in one click. Content managers, blog editors, and solo bloggers love it and call it a revelation. Nevertheless, their motto stirs your curiosity: Try it. It feels like magic.

 

Grow and Convert is here to offer articles, training, and services for you to become a top 1% content marketer. Featured in publications as Entrepreneur, The Huffington Post, Growth Hackers, and ProBlogger, Grow and Convert is a content marketing agency and consultancy for growing businesses. Benji makes the magic happen on the content strategy and promotion side of the company.

 

And because magic is simpler than most of us think, Hyam told us about his secret tools for making wonders happen:

 

Nothing. I’ve been traveling for the last year and half doing the nomad thing and it helps me write when I have a computer, a nice view and no distractions.

 

Undoubtedly, you’re dead curious to see for yourself what nothing really looks like.

 

 

 

12. Superman’s Office Desk by Aaron Orendorff

 

Books, books, and books — most notably, behavioral economics texts like ‘Misbehaving’ by Thaler and ‘Thinking, Fast and Slow’ by Kahneman, along with ‘The Customer Challenge’ because that book continues to blow my mind when it comes to content marketing.
Aaron Orendorff Aaron orendorff
Founder and CEO of iconiContent / @iconicontent

 

Aaron Orendorff is an inspiring digital marketer, the Founder and CEO of iconiContent, Content Marketer at Shopify Plus, and Communication & Philosophy Faculty full-time member.

 

Orendorff was featured in Forbes 25 Marketing Influencers to Watch in 2017. With extensive knowledge and experience in content marketing and communication, he contributed on many occasions for business, tech, and marketing publications such as Mashable, Entrepreneur, Huffington Post, Lifehacker, Inc., Fast Company, Business Insider, Success Magazine, The Next Web, Content Marketing Institute, Copyblogger, MarketingProfs, ConversionXL, Unbounce, and more.

 

His motto is “Saving the world from bad content”, and aims at helping professionals improve their content strategies, content marketing, and copywriting techniques.

 

One way or another, his career path is amazing. Curious enough to see what his digital workspace looks like? The photo will just make you regret your desk isn’t sending a similar smart vibe as Aaron’s:

 

  • Two MacBook Pros to separate my work for Shopify Plus from personal projects;
  • A horizontal monitor for writing — always on Google Docs — and a vertical one for taking screen shots and doing research;
  • Microsoft’s Natural Ergonomic Keyboard and Mouse to save my wrists from all the hard, hard work of being a full-time writer;
  • Flexible cell phone tripod and camera remote for taking non-selfie selfies and posting them to social mediathe engagement on those is crazy;
  • Books, books, and books — most notably, behavioral economics texts like Misbehaving by Thaler and Thinking, Fast and Slow by Kahneman along with The Customer Challenge because that book continues to blow my mind when it comes to content marketing;
  • Beats Headphones for high-quality remote meetings and calls;
  • Picture of me and my girls to remind me what matters;
  • A figurine of the Three Little Pigs a former college student gave me because I use that story over and over to teach my one great, educational love: outlining.

 

Aaron Orendorff's work desk

 

Conclusion

 

After such a rich array of photos and smart gadgets to empower you in your quest of changing the digital marketing ecosystem, we ask: What’s to learn from these millennials?

 

Apart from triggering a fun mode-on atmosphere and giving food to our restless curiosity regarding fellow professionals in the industry, we believe situations like this create bonds.

 

Nevertheless, it is inspiring and challenging to see how others perform at work, what they do, where and how. Witnessing digital marketing influencers at work can empower us, fellow marketers, to strive for more.

 

 

In another train of thoughts, it’s interesting how most digital marketers have attached stories to the enlisted tools and gadgets. Objects often trigger memories and once you share them you let others be inspired. There’s a lot to learn from these stories and life snippets, and we’re glad we’ve come to learn them.

 

Charlie Chaplin said once that a day without laughter is a day wasted. We can all agree on that. Digital marketers sure know the perks humor has. This is one of the many and main reasons we enjoyed reading their list and researching about them.

 

We created a set of snippets both from websites bootstrapped by the above-mentioned marketers, and from their Twitter accounts. They prove the rule that a fine sense of humor can sometimes indeed make the difference. Enjoy!

 

Sean Bestor

 

Sean Bestor humor no.1

 

and

Sean Bestor humor no.2

 

Sol Orwell

 

Sol Orwell humor

 

Derric Haynie

 

Derric Haynie humor

 

 

The post 12 Inspiring Workspaces from Awesome Digital Marketers appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How to use Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to Rank Better on Mobile

Optimizing a page for mobile speed? Not easy. Mobile search has come a very long way, especially since the Google Mobile Friendly Update, back in 2014.

 

Mobile optimization keeps evolving, and it happens fast.  At first, we had separate mobile versions, then responsive designs, now we have Google AMP pushing strong. What AMP (accelerated mobile pages) is, if and how AMP can influence SEO and how it will impact your business – you can find the answers to all of these questions in the following article. 

 

How_to_Correctly_use_Google_AMP_to_Rank_Better_on_Mobile

 

All this change, happening so fast, can get a little frustrating.

 

It’s difficult to implement Google AMP and you’re not sure if it’s worthwhile spending that time.

 

In this article, we’ll be taking a look at exactly what Google AMP is. We’ll find out if we need it or not, how to easily implement it the right way and if it’s really good, or just another Google attempt to monopolize itself over the web.

 

 

  1. What Is Google AMP and How Does It Work? 
  2. How Can AMP Improve SEO?
    1. Site Speed and Dwell Time
    2. The AMP Carousel, Cache and Third Party Apps
  3. How to Implement Google AMP
    1. How to Install AMP on WordPress
    2. How to Install AMP on Drupal
    3. How to Install AMP on Joomla
    4. How to Install AMP on Concrete5
    5. AMP for Magento and OpenCart
    6. Custom AMP Implementation
    7. How to Validate the AMP HTML
    8. What Happens If the AMP HTML Is not Valid?
  4. The Pros and Cons of AMP
  5. Conclusion

 

You might be thinking:

 

My website loads fast enough on mobile! I already have a responsive design and a cache plugin! Why do I even need Google AMP?

 

Here’s the deal:

 

If your website is blazing fast on mobile, you’re definitely not part of the majority. Mobile pages are still slow! More factors than you might think are involved.

 

A study from DoubleClick by Google states that more than 50% of mobile users decide to abandon a webpage if it takes more than 3 seconds to load.

 

Site Speed Case Study 1

 

The study also states that 77% of mobile websites take longer than 10 seconds to load. The average load time of mobile sites on a 3G network is 19 seconds.

 

Yes, you read me right! It’s 19 seconds. And 4G only makes it 14 seconds, which isn’t all that great.

 

We, the marketers/publishers, might be OK with seeing pop-ups, ads, register forms, banners, videos, and so on. We profit from them. Sure, we optimize them for maximizing revenue and for performance, as well.

 

But think of it this way:

 

You’re now the reader. You’re standing at your desk, on your PC, looking for something on the internet. It’s not marketing related. Let’s say it’s a health-related issue, or some information you need on some legal problem. The first website you open takes 5 seconds to load. Your speakers are a little bit too loud, but you forgot. A video ad autoplays. You start searching for it on the screen while reaching for your speaker’s volume knob. You finally spot the video through the forest of ads. It’s on the top-right side of the screen. As you move your cursor up, an exit pop-up triggers. It’s full screen. The video still plays in the background. Are you mad yet? I sure am.

 

mobile ads are bad

 

Now, all of this can happen pretty fast on a PC, at least if you have a decent computer and network connection.

 

On mobile, things are probably not so dramatic.

 

You know what happens?

 

People tap the back button. And boom! Just like that, the bounce rate jumps up high, and the dwell time goes down, as well as your rankings.

 

When you’re on the go, you either want to find some information REALLY fast, or you’re just browsing and won’t even bother waiting. A dozen of other articles are waiting out there.

 

We’ll dive into the details later, but first, let’s take a look at what Google AMP is, and how it works.

 

1. What Is Google AMP and How Does It Work?

 

Google AMP is short for Accelerated Mobile Pages. The project has been started by Google in partnership with Twitter, in order to make mobile browsing super fast.

 

In a nutshell, it’s a stripped-down version of HTML.

 

The developers claim that an accelerated mobile page is capable of loading up to 4 times faster than a regular HTML page.

 

One way or another, it’s a response to Facebook’s Instant Articles or Apple News. Although in many ways similar, an important difference is the fact that it’s open source.

 

The new mark-up restricts the use of JavaScript to only a few files that Google will provide. You will also have to use a specific form of CSS, but don’t worry: your site can still look pretty cool.

 

AMP is built for speed. The main concept is readability. Special design, effects and features are not important in the accelerated mobile page.

 

When a valid Google AMP page is posted and indexed, Google will then cache it on its servers. 

 

Once the page is cached, Google can rapidly fetch it for dispaly when someone tries to view it. The AMP version is already faster by itself, but through heavy caching, the loading of the page in mobile browsers seems instant.

 

Many third party applications will also cache the AMP version of your pages so that they can display it very rapidly.

 

Both versions of the AMP page (the hosted one and the cached one ) will contain rel=”canonical” which points to the original mobile webpage. In case the website is responsive, then the AMPs will point to that version.

 

I asked Will Critchlow, from Distilled, what he thinks about AMP, and if he thinks it will succeed in becoming a standard in the future.

 

I think we have to acknowledge that it’s already a standard. There are reports that publicly list just how much AMP traffic some big publishers are getting.
WILL CRITCHLOW
CEO @willcritchlow / distilled.net

 

Will also said that it’s been a long time since Google has been pushing anything so hard, and that we should expect more and more updates to come. Will helped me to better understand a few concepts about AMP, and I want to thank him one more time. So… Thanks, Will!

 

2. How Can AMP Improve SEO?

 

In the early days, before AMP was even released for the search engines, Google had speculated that it might impact SEO at some point.

 

They have not officially stated that AMP affects SEO in any way. In February 2016, John Mueller said in a Google Hangout that AMP isn’t a ranking signal.

 

AMP still isn’t officially a ranking factor in 2017. Here’s a tweet from John from early 2017:

 

 

However, there are a lot of indirect factors that might lead to SEO improvements, on mobile and desktop as well.

 

Keep in mind that most people use AMP as a second option for their website. If you have a responsive website, you will mark the original HTML page as the canonical version. This means that you will have a rel=canonical from the AMP to the original version.

 

In this case, your main website will be the responsive version of the website, not the AMP one. Google will then index the fully responsive version of your website, and use that to calculate the quality score of your page.

 

John states in the following video that if the AMP page is the canonical version, then it matters for site quality and user experience.

 

 

However, having an AMP page marked as canonical on a responsive website makes your AMP version the only indexable version.

 

 

At first, I thought that AMP was only for mobile. I mean… the name is Accelerated Mobile Pages, right? But John’s statement proves that you can have an AMP only website.

 

And guess what:

 

The AMP official website at ampproject.org is exclusively written in AMP HTML. There doesn’t seem to be any issue with rendering an AMP page on a desktop device. The site looks great. It even has nice animations on it. And of course, it is pretty fast.

 

A website can be built entirely on AMP HTML, as long as it’s built correctly. It will display well on both desktop and mobile devices.

 

We also know that Google is testing the mobile index first, so it makes sense now to have a strong mobile version more than ever. Mobile SEO will soon become the standard for desktop search results as well.

 

There are cases though where desktop versions were indexed first for mobile, even though an AMP version was available.

 

Jennifer Slegg wrote about this, back in November 2016, after the State of Search Conference. She also tweeted about it.

 

 

This happens probably because in many cases, the AMP version is not only stripped off HTML but also off content. If Google indexed only the AMP version by default, then those pages would actually have a disadvantage.

 

2.1 Site Speed and Dwell Time

 

The speed of your site matters a lot. As mentioned at the beginning of the article, people tend to abandon slow loading sites.

 

Google has tested that many times, and results have been consistent. People who implement AMP get higher loading speeds, which results in better CTR and more conversions. If you read about the topic long enough, you will notice a lot of positive experiences with AMP. These experiences mention lower bounce rates and higher dwell time.

 

You see, informational websites usually suffer from higher bounce rates. This is because when people find the information, they usually click back or exit the page. It doesn’t mean that the page is bad or that it offered a bad user experience. It’s just the way things happen. 

 

Content marketers usually resort to popups and forms in a try to get leads and keep their customers from bouncing. Although this works and many marketers commend it, it can negatively impact the speed of a website, which in turn will lead to the same problem: people leaving your website.

 

Google AMP tries to fix these problems. At first, people thought that because the limitations, sign-up forms might not be available anymore. AMP fixed this with recent updates and forms are now available.

 

As we stated in another article, dwell time is related to SEO and it’s like a brother to the other similar ranking factor, the bounce rate. The more people stay on your site and the less they bounce, the better your rankings will be.

 

Both bounce rate and dwell time are factors tracked through Analytics. We can use Analytics in Google AMP as well.

 

As stated on the Google Developers Website:

 

Analytics AMP vs Non-AMP

 

From the phrase above, we can understand that AMP Analytics data can blend with regular data, which might bring better mixed results over time. You can read more here.

 

2.2 The AMP Carousel, Cache and Third Party Apps

 

One of the most intriguing features of Google AMP is the possibility to be featured in a carousel. The carousel will only show AMP pages, and although it doesn’t always get triggered, it will show above the SERPS, therefore placing you at the top of the page.

 

Here’s a series of screenshots taken with my mobile phone. The screenshots show the AMP carousel in action. You can check it out yourself by accessing http://g.co/ampdemo on your mobile device. I simply searched for ‘Obama’.

 

AMP carousel

 

The carousel has good parts and bad parts. It’s good to be featured at the top of the page, over the #1 spot, but at the same time, readers are one swipe away from leaving your website. Google AMP is very good for readers, but publishers and advertisers might not agree with every aspect of it.

 

As we can see, although Google stated clearly that Accelerated Mobile Pages don’t affect SEO directly, some indirect factors can lead to SEO improvements.

 

Google AMP doesn’t directly affect SEO, but indirect factors that result from AMP can.

 

AMP’s purpose is to improve the user experience. And from what we know, better user experience results in better rankings.

 

What’s really cool about AMP is that it cannot impact your rankings negatively. If you implement AMP and use rel=”canonical” to point it to your main version, Google will use that to calculate the quality score for ranking.

 

Remember: if you only have an AMP version of your website, then Google will use that version to rank you. If you build it well around the stripped HTML and are willing to accept all the current restrictions, you will have a faster website that offers a better UX.

 

3. How to Implement Google AMP

 

Ok, AMP looks cool. Now, how to get it?

 

Well, if you’re using one of the popular CMSs out there (WordPress, Drupal, Joomla) things are as simple as installing a plugin/module/extension, or whatever they are called.

 

3.1 How to Install AMP on WordPress

 

WordPress is the most popular CMS on the web. You’re probably using it. The WordPress development team already has an agreement with the team at AMP Project, so an easy implementation was expected.

 

The default and official WordPress AMP plugin can be downloaded here. Yoast also had to release a glue SEO plugin to merge the meta data with the AMP format. 

 

If you wish to improve the experience, install this plugin. It comes with better reviews and more functionality. It already has Yoast support built into it, so you can directly optimize the AMP pages for search engine optimization. In order to work, this plugin requires the default AMP plugin mentioned.

 

The plugins can be installed in any order.

 

To install a WordPress plugin, login into your WP Dashboard, click on Plugins on the left and then on Add new plugin. Search for the plugin name, click Install and then Activate.

 

If you don’t know how to do this, take a look at this simple video from WP Beginner.

 

 

After installing them, you should be able to access the accelerated version of your pages by typing /amp after any URL on your WordPress website.

 

3.2 How to Install AMP on Drupal

 

Drupal also has its own plugin for AMP pages. If you wish to install it, you can get the plugin here. The archives with different versions of the module are towards the bottom of the page.

 

To install a plugin on Drupal, simply go to the Extend section on your Dashboard. Then, click Install new module. You can either download the tar.gz file from the link above and upload it into the Dashboard, or you can right click, copy link address, and paste it into the Dashboard.

 

If you’re having trouble installing a Drupal module, follow the steps in this video:

 

 

3.3 How to Install AMP on Joomla

 

Joomla also has a number of available extensions for implementing Google AMP. Head over to https://extensions.joomla.org/extensions/  and search for AMP.

 

There are multiple ways of installing the extension. You can download it from the website and then upload it into your Joomla Control Panel, click on Extensions and the Extension Manager.

 

All the methods of installing the extension of your choice can be found in the following video:

 

 

3.4 How to Install AMP on Concrete5

 

Even the new uprising Concrete5 has its own module for AMP pages. It is developed by hissy on GitHub. This module is still in beta. It should be tested on a development version of the website first.

 

Installing it is a little bit more complicated, as you will need access to your server’s command prompt. This can be done by logging into your cPanel and searching for SSH (Secure Shell). If you don’t have SSH access, your hosting provider may or may not provide you with it. Contact the hosting provider’s support department for information.

 

Then, simply run the following command lines into your command prompt. Enter the lines one at a time, and press the Enter key after each line.

 

$ cd ./packages
$ git clone git@github.com:hissy/concrete5-amp.git amp
$ cd ../
$ ./concrete/bin/concrete5 c5:package-install amp

 

After doing so, you can access the following URL from the dashboard:

 

/index.php/dashboard/system/seo/amp

 

Accessing it will lead you to the module setup page. Select the page types you want to activate AMP on. Then, insert your Analytics ID. This is optional. Click save, and you’re done!

 

If you wish to customize the AMP design template, you can copy the package and files from packages/themes/amp to application/themes/amp.

 

If you run into any trouble, you can get further support on the Concrete5 community forums.

 

3.5 AMP for Magento and OpenCart

 

The two most popular eCommerce CMSs also have their modules for the Accelerated Mobile Pages.

 

These are fairly complex plugins, and I have only been able to find paid versions in the top results of my searches.

 

Magento AMP plugin download.

OpenCart AMP plugin download.

 

3.6 Custom AMP Implementation

 

If you’re not using one of the popular CMS platforms there, things aren’t that easy. Ideally, you should outsource this to a group of experienced programmers. If you have a custom platform, you probably already have a team.

 

But if you’re willing to do this yourself, the whole documentation on the AMP Project Website is a must read.

 

In this article, we will cover only the most important parts, and the ones related to SEO.

 

Remember that the AMP HTML is a lot more limited. It has many restrictions. Elements must be placed in a very specific order, otherwise, the format won’t be valid.

 

Here is the most basic accelerated mobile webpage, the classic “Hello, World!”.

 

<!doctype html>
<html amp lang="en"> <head> <meta charset="utf-8"> https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js <title>Hello, World!</title> <link rel="canonical" href="http://example.ampproject.org/article-metadata.html" /> <meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width,minimum-scale=1,initial-scale=1"> <style amp-boilerplate>body{-webkit-animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both;-moz-animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both;-ms-animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both;animation:-amp-start 8s steps(1,end) 0s 1 normal both}@-webkit-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@-moz-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@-ms-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@-o-keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}@keyframes -amp-start{from{visibility:hidden}to{visibility:visible}}</style><noscript><style amp-boilerplate>body{-webkit-animation:none;-moz-animation:none;-ms-animation:none;animation:none}</style></noscript> </head> <body> <h1>Hello, World!</h1> </body>
</html>

 

In order for an AMP HTML to be valid, we must correctly insert all required mark-ups. 

 

For example, the document must begin with 

<!doctype html>

. The document must also contain the 

<html ⚡>

 top level tag. You can also use 

<html amp>

. While in regular HTML the

<head>

  and

<body>

  tags are optional, they are required in AMP HTML.

 

You must also include the link in the AMP JS file using 

https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0.js

. This JS loads everything you need in order for the AMP HTML page to work properly. 

 

The

<head>

  tag must also contain a 

<link rel="canonical" href="original page URL or self" />

 . Remember that the canonical tag is very important, as it tells Google which version should be used for indexing and organic search rankings.

 

The CSS boilerplate content is also mandatory. You can use the 

<style amp-custom>

  tag to add diversity to your website. The whole supported CSS documentation can be found here.

 

Another critical thing is the 

<link rel="amphtml" href="https://www.example.com/url/to/amp/document.html">

 . Without it, Google won’t even know your website has an AMP page and it won’t display it. You should place this in the full version of your site (mobile or responsive).

 

Without rel=”amphtml” Google won’t discover the accelerated version of your page. Place it accordingly in the original version of your webpage.

 

How to Add Forms in Google AMP

 

As mentioned before in the beginning of this article, the developer team at AMP worked hard to keep improving the mark-up.

 

At first, forms were not available in the AMP HTML so people feared that they will not be able to generate any kind of leads anymore.

 

A workaround, consisting in an iFrame hack was available. Today, AMP allows you to use the

<form>

 and

<input>

 tags. For the document to be valid, the following script is required: 

https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0/amp-form-0.1.js

.

 

More about AMP forms can be read here.

 

How to Add Analytics to AMP

 

In order to track your AMP pages, you will have to load the following required script: 

https://cdn.ampproject.org/v0/amp-analytics-0.1.js

 .

 

Then, you can use the

<amp-analytics>

  tag to measure different statistics. The whole Analytics documentation can be found here.

 

Can you Implement Ads in Google AMP?

 

So far, some disadvantages have been flagged regarding the ads and revenue of publishers. The team at AMP Project recently published an update, presenting new accepted types of ads for AMP.

 

The types of ads that can be inserted include parallax videos, lightboxes and carousels:

 

AMP ads

 

To be honest, these ads look pretty cool. They look clean. They aren’t annoying as they work similarly to the Facebook principle of ads. They don’t interrupt the user from reading. Users see the ad, but they can very easily skip it. It naturally comes and goes through the scroll.

 

These AMP ads are also really fast. Check out this video showing an AMP ad loading side by side to a regular ad.

 

 

More and more ad networks are supported by AMP. To implement ads into your accelerated pages, check this documentation.

 

3.7 How to Validate the AMP HTML

 

After you have built your AMP page or made modifications to it, you have to verify and validate it.

 

The best and quickest way to do it is using the AMP Validator Chrome Plugin. The AMP Validator Plugin is also available for Opera Browser.

 

AMP Validator Plugin

 

After installing the plugin, an icon will show up where the Chrome Extensions are. It will turn green when the AMP HTML page is valid. In case the AMP is not valid, it will turn red, and you can click it to view the errors.

 

Invalid AMP

 

As you can see, the plugin does a great job at identifying the issues. You can then click on Debug and it will take you to a page where you can edit your HTML and quickly validate it. You can also type the HTML directly into the validator at https://validator.ampproject.org.

 

If you are not using Chrome or Opera, you can also do the following:

 

Access your AMP HTML, right click, go to Inspect and then click Console. Then, type 

#development=1

  at the end of your URL and hit Enter. This will show the errors in the browser console.

 

AMP Validator Console

 

If your code is valid, the console will display the message “AMP validation successful.”

 

You can also test the page through the CDN by accessing 

https://cdn.ampproject.org/c/s/yoursite.com/basic-amp-test.html

 . The page will display if it is valid. If not, the following message will show.

 

Invalid AMP CDN

 

3.8 What Happens If the AMP HTML Is not Valid?

 

If your AMP HTML is not valid, your pages won’t get cached by Google or other third party platforms that use AMP to rapidly display pages. Your will then not benefit from things such as the AMP carousel.

 

However, if your website is AMP only, or the accelerated page is the canonical one, your site will still get indexed, even if the HTML is not valid.

 

 

AMP is a basic HTML mark-up, with only a few extra features. It will get indexed like any other HTML.

 

4. The Pros and Cons of AMP

 

So far, most arguments against Google AMP have been annihilated. Not only that the problems were solved, but disadvantages now turned into advantages.

 

  • Hard to implement ads, if any at all > Fixed by recent updates
  • No forms, have to use hack instead > Fixed by recent updates
  • Not suitable for eCommerce > Snapdeal uses AMP and increased conversion rates. eBay has also been testing AMP
  • Sharing on social media used cached URL > Fixed, Google now allows you to share the real URL instead of the Google one

 

Many more fixes could be added to this list, but I hope you get the point.

 

Despite this, many people still strongly disagree with AMP. 

 

Josh Bachynski is a great SEO and also an Ethicist. He had a pretty good count of arguments concerning Google’s actions on the Internet.

 

Personally I don’t like AMP at all. I like how it is fast, but that is not the ONLY way to get your mobile experience super fast! It is just another clandestine attempt to own and control more of the internet!
josh bachynski JOSH BACHYNSKI
SEO @joshbachynski / Follow Josh on his YouTube Channel.

 

And it’s kind of true. I mentioned in the beginning of this article that the project is Open Source. The term sounds like anyone could contribute to the code itself, but in the end, it’s still Google who decides what stays and what doesn’t. We can only play by Google’s rules.

 

It’s the same like with Mark Zuckerberg’s instant articles. Although it sounds like Facebook wants you to browse faster, the idea behind it was to actually keep people engaged in the Facebook App, never to leave it again.

 

It’s faster, but sometimes, you really want to browse a website at its fullest, and inside FB app, that’s not possible. Sure, you can eventually open it in a browser, but it requires an extra step.

 

Even Will Critchlow agrees that AMP will never have the same functionality as a regular HTML website.

 

“By definition, AMP is a cut-down version, and it needs to stay that way. If it allowed all the functionality of HTML, then publishers would end up re-creating the heavy, slow sites they have now. The whole thing only works if you are restricted from doing certain things. There’s an element of game theory here – by being able to blame Google, and plausibly claim to advertisers that they can’t possibly do certain things, publishers get to avoid doing the things they wanted to avoid anyway.”

 

Will basically tells us that Google is trying to be Good Guy Greg here. Publishers will now be forced to avoid certain things that they thought were good, but actually weren’t.

 

Scott Gilbertson wrote for The Register about AMP. He doesn’t agree with it for a number of reasons. When I asked him about Google fixing slow mobile sites, he stated that:

 

The problems that AMP is supposedly trying to solve are a result of poor developer practices, poor education within the developer community and a lack of emphasis on page load times from search engines. I do think that there’s a real problem with page speed that needs to addressed, and I think Google is in a unique position to be able to influence developers but AMP isn’t the way to do it.
Scott Gilbertson
Blogger @luxagraf / luxagraf.net

 

Scott says that if Google changed its ranking systems to favor faster pages, developers would rush out and start building faster pages. Google already has done that to some degree, but not too aggressively. Scott suggests an “estimated page load time” displayed in search results so that people could decide whether or not they want to click through.

 

Scott also states that the real URLs are obfuscated. Sites in the Google cache will be easily mixed up one with another, because they all look so similar. A full story about how a Russian news site can be easily mistaken for a British one can be read here.

 

AMP looks a little bit like communism: Everybody shall be fast. But you can’t work more to advance in speed over others. No, no. Everybody shall be EQUALLY fast. Meanwhile, Google shall monitor all your traffic and keep it close to it. Even Russian spy sites are involved!

 

But if Google eventually forces everyone to use AMP, then what happens to all the good guys who fought hard to have a fast mobile website? If everyone uses AMP, it will be very hard to outwork your competition in terms of site quality.

 

It seems like Google took advantage of a World Wide Problem and found a solution to help themselves as well.

 

In the end, users will appreciate AMP. A 10KB page vs a 2MB page will result in less data traffic used. They might complain about the changes in aspect and carousels at first but they will comply and ultimately like it. Regular users won’t even feel the difference between AMP and non AMP. They will only spot that pages load incredibly fast, and content is right in their face, as they tap.

 

Conclusion

 

As marketers, we set the standards. Consider that users are more prone to remembering a bad experience rather than a good one. This is available in all situations. It’s the pain principle. Our brain is more prone to avoiding pain that to pursue happiness.

 

Google cares most about making their customers happy.

 

You might say:

 

“Not true. Google cares most about making money.”

 

And you might be right. But by offering the best experience to their readers, it means they will stay more on Google. And this means Google wins.

 

Think about this though: if you were Google, what would you do?

 

Google AMP is a bridge that tries to get both readers, publishers, and advertisers to get along. Sure, it’s kind of forced, but so far it has worked pretty well.

 

This article was about AMP. If the AMP initiative fails or doesn’t sound fair to you and you won’t use it, then this article is a call to all web developers, publishers and advertisers there to do their best to improve the user experience of all their websites.

 

What do you think about AMP? Do you have any questions? Let me know in the comments section, and let’s get the conversation going!

 

The post How to use Google AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) to Rank Better on Mobile appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How Content Influences Rankings – What We Found Out After Analyzing 3,7 Million Pages

You’ve heard it a thousand times by now already: write high-quality content and the ranks will follow. Or Content is king! But what does that even mean?

 

To shed some light once and for all if and how content influences rankings, we’ve performed an in-depth analysis on almost 40,000 keywords and around 4 million pieces of content. And the results are GOLD.

 

Content Performance vs Rankings Research cognitiveSEO

 

Content marketing, among other SEO strategies, is really a hot topic these days for any industry. But I bet you already knew that. What we think you might not know is the exact correlation between SEO and content. 

 

Do you know how the content of your website actually impacts your search engines’ rankings? Or do you know the exact key elements your content needs to have in order to rank in Google’s top results?

 

We have good news and bad news. The good news is that after having analyzed a whopping set of data we’ve got it all sorted out: content’s correlation to Google rankings, metrics to measure content’s performance, key elements that boost content + many other data that we’re sure is going to impact your website big time.

 

The bad news? Well, the study is quite large and to get the best out of it you will need to thoroughly read this article. And yes, it’s quite long but, for the sake of your business,  totally worth it.  

 

  1. A High Content Performance Will (Almost) Guarantee You a Top Google Position
  2. Commercial vs. Brand Keywords: How Do They Correlate With Rankings
  3. How Do Domain and Page Performance Influence Rankings
  4. How Long Should Your Content Be to Get High Rankings
  5. Defining a New Metric: Content Performance
  6. How We Did the Research
  7. How Can You Improve Your Content Performance Score 
 

1. A High Content Performance Will (Almost) Guarantee You a Top Google Position

 

Do you know that saying: Save the best for last? This time we decided not to take it into account.

 

Admittedly, we are too excited about the findings so we couldn’t help but share the big news with you:

 

Content does influence rankings but we also figured it out why and how.  

 

If you torture data long enough, it will confess.

 

As you can see in the screenshot below, after compiling and analyzing all the ranking content for the top positions in Google, for around 40,000 keywords, we realized that there is a very strong correlation between content performance and rankings (and therefore organic traffic we might say).

The higher the content performance score, the better the rankings.  

The content performance metric shows you how well a page is optimized from a content point of view, on a scale from 0 to 100. We needed a way to scale content when correlating it with rankings and content performance was great for this. You can find out more about Content Performance  here or later in this article.   

 

 

At an informal level, we always knew that content strategies have a lot to do  with rankings and quality content creation improves your rankings. Google itself admitted it and they even created an update dedicated to this issue and the importance of relevant content. 

 

When you actually see real numbers that show to what extent content performance influences rankings, it’s totally different. 

 

So let’s do a rundown of these interesting observations.

 

The first thing to notice when looking at this chart is that good content performance is within average values – almost within the middle two-thirds of a 0 to 100 scale. There are no extremely high or extremely low content performance scores. Not only that but along the represented interval, points are quite evenly distributed – there are no quick jumps or sudden falls, everything follows the same, smooth line.

 

This is another important observation: the trend line is a lot smoother (almost perfect, from corner to corner). There are only 4 instances in this chart where points don’t follow the “high content performance equals high position” rule and those are very subtle, almost unnoticeable. If the vertical axis went from 0 to 100 instead of zooming in at the current interval, we’d probably not notice those points at all.

 

Last but not least, there is another visual cue to be found in the graph: a sort of a “cut-off” point at a score of 50 for the content performance, which almost evenly splits the first 10 positions from the following 10. While not specifically significant in itself, it is consistent with the other observations and strongly points that:

There is a very strong correlation between a high content performance scores and ranking on a high position.

 

2. Commercial vs. Brand Keywords:  How Do They Correlate With Rankings

 

There are 9 million bicycles in Beijing and over 1 billion websites in the world. And all these billion websites are interested in targeting all sort of keywords.

 

At a holistic level, we realized that the keywords analyzed by us within this research, fall into one of the two categories: commercial keywords and brand keywords.

 

  • Brand keywords refer to the keywords strongly related to the name of the brand. For instance, “cognitiveSEO” is a brand keyword we are interested to rank for.
  • Commercial keywords are the ones that have a direct profit – making intent. For instance, in our case “best SEO blog” would be a commercial keyword.

 

The question now remains: does the content targeted for commercial keywords correlate differently with rankings than the content targeted for brand keywords?

 

Commercial Keywords – Ranking Correlation

 

Just by taking a look at the chart below it’s crystal clear that when it comes to the content targeted by commercial keywords, the correlation between the content performance and top rankings is extremely strong.

 

This means that when it comes to commercial keywords, content has a very high impact on rankings.

Commercial Content Performance Rankings cognitiveSEO

 

It’s almost impossible to keep up with the link amount a big brand is getting. Yet, content performance is something that is in your full control and you can take advantage of it.

 

Brand Keywords – Ranking Correlation

 

We realized that the same strong correlation that applies to the overall content performance and rankings, applies as well when it comes to brand keywords in particular.

 

It seems that the better the content performance score for the brand keywords’ content, the better the rankings.

Yet, we couldn’t help noticing a particularity of this correlation. Yes, it’s a strong one (we ran several regression tests on it to make sure of that) but it’s slightly different. As you can notice in the chart above, the first position has almost the same content performance score as the 5th one (#1 scores 46, # 5 scores 45). And this situation replicates to some extent to other situations as well.

 

And, as we are prayed upon the idea: if it works, why? If it doesn’t why?, we took a closer look at this situation.

 

Content matters a lot when it comes to brand keywords, yet, not as much as it matters when it comes to other types of keywords. And this is because we believe there are other external factors that boost a brand name to the top of the rankings.

 

Let’s take, for instance, “Brand Mentions”. It could be a commercial keyword, yet, is also a brand name: brandmentions.com.

 

 

Even if the content performance score for brandmentions.com score isn’t as big as for other pages targeting the same keyword, the brand itself will be the winner and it will rank first.

 

And this is because Google is really good at semantical search and understands the intent of the user, firstly. Not to mention that the brand itself is most likely the topical authority for the brand keyword and it will be automatically ranked among first.

 

Yet, content performance seems to matter a lot in the case of brand keywords as well. So just because you are targeting your own brand name doesn’t mean that you don’t have to put efforts in creating a high performing content.

 

3. How Do Domain and Page Performance Influence Rankings

 

The bitter-sweet truth is that content alone does not boost rankings. There are other ranking factors that interfere when it comes to SERP position. And among those factors there is the domain and the page’s performance.

 

We can refer to domain/page performance or authority. We used the term “performance” for this research as it piles up several factors (domain/page’s age, number of incoming links, etc.)

 

Domain Performance vs. Rankings

 

As we can deduct from the screenshot below, overall there is a strong correlation between a domain’s performance and its ranking position.

 

Yet, this relation is not always smooth and linear. We can see that the domain performance for the pages ranking number one is almost the same with the ones ranking number 4.

Domain Performance Rankings cognitiveSEO

Therefore, even if domain performance seems to matter a lot when it comes to rankings, there are cases when other factors, such as content performance, might matter more than the domain’s overall performance.

 

Page Performance vs. Rankings

 

When it comes to Page performance, there is clearly a strong relation between the authority of a page and its rankings. The higher the page performance, the better the rankings.  

 

If, after looking at this chart you say something like: I have zero chances of ranking without a high page performance, think again.

Page Performance Rankings cognitiveSEO

 

When you get to think about it, how does a page become highly authoritative? Among others, when it’s a topical authority on a subject. And how can you become a go-to resource on a subject, the topical authority on that matter? By having relevant and optimized content on that particular subject. Therefore, without planning to make everything about content, we cannot help by noticing how connected the pieces from the ranking puzzle are.

 

4. How Long Should Your Content Be to Get High Rankings

 

As we crawled so much data, we couldn’t help taking a peak at the number of words top 20 Google ranking webpages use.

 

The very first thing you should notice about any chart is the variation range. In this case, it looks like having anywhere between 1400 and 2000 words is associated with being in the top 20 rankings.

 

It seems that the optimal number of words one page should use in order to rank high is somewhere around 1700 words. Yet, here is a longer subject to debate which we’ve luckily covered in a previous study: Long versus short content, which one ranks better?

Number of Words Rankings cognitiveSEO

 

The next thing you should do is look for trends and correlations. And here is where things usually get complicated. Even this chart, while seemingly straightforward, points to a few interesting observations. The first is that, in general, it is better to have more rather than fewer words .

 

There are 11 points on the graph that go in direct decreasing order of both number of words and position. They are not consecutive, so that makes the trend a bit less obvious, but it is there. Even where there are consecutive points that don’t follow this “rule,” the rule is reinstated within maximum 2 points.

 

The second equally interesting observation is that this rule is visible only from the 3rd position onwards, while the first three positions actually display the opposite trend – the fewer the number of words, the higher the rank. But here comparison between points is again useful.

The number of words associated with the first position, while lower than the number of words associated with the second or third position, is still higher than 15 of the other 20 positions (75%).

I know; it sounds a bit complicated. But this actually means that while there is not a perfectly linear correlation, the placement of points is still consistent with the idea of a correlation.

 

What do we get when put all of this together? Two conclusions:

 

Having fewer words, rather than more, within a certain interval, is likely to land you on a lower ranking.

 

Having between 1600 and 2000 words (all other factors being equal) has the highest chance of placing you in the top 10 Google positions.

 

Yet, remember: it’s not the size of the dog in the fight, it’s the size of the fight in the dog.

 

5. Defining a New Metric: Content Performance

 

As we like this metric just as much as a kid likes his newly lego built toy car, indulge us to explain to you some more about it.

 

Why? Because it’s worth it. Not to mention that content performance is the core of the present research.

 

 We needed to correlate content with Google positions. But we cannot correlate “content” as a whole. We needed a metric that would measure the content influence. And here is how we ended up with Content Performance.

 

content-impacts-rankings

 

How Did We Come Up with the Idea of Content Performance Metric?

 

It all started from a cliche. Everybody says that content is king, you need to have good content to rank and I bet you can continue this row of self-evident truths.

 

But lately, it’s been getting harder and harder to rank on Google’s top rankings, no need to insist on that. We figured out that the solution of getting high ranks relies on content.

 

But our question was:

 

How can we actually measure the impact of content on rankings? We also believe that content impacts rankings but how exactly?  We needed some clear evidence.

 

Call me the doubting Thomas but I believe that almost everything that exists can be measured at some point. So, can we “measure” content? A difficult, but not impossible task.

 

 Inspired by semantic search and the term frequency – inverse document frequency (I know it sounds like a Wheel of Fortune word but you can find more info on it here) we came up with a metric that can measure the impact any piece of content has on rankings: the Content Performance metric.

 

What Is Content Performance?

 

The Content Performance score reflects how important a word is to a document in a collection or corpus.

 

Putting it simply, the content performance metric shows you how well a page is optimized from a content point of view, on a scale from 0 to 100.

 

The higher the score, the better optimized the content is. And not only this: the same metric gives you info on the reasons why a piece of content is performing well or not.

 

The Content Performance metric is an indicator entirely developed by us, everything from soup to nuts. A lot of Google reverse engineering was involved in this, combining algorithms and concepts such as semantic search, LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing), TF*IDF or topical authority, just to mention a few.

 

How Does Content Performance Work?

 

  • We start by analyzing the top rankings results from Google, having content as a focus point.
  • After that, we apply some really advanced algorithms in order to identify the semantics, topics and keywords used on those pages. We do not take in consideration HTML tags influence (h1/h2, etc.). We only look at how well written and relevant the content is, trying to identify the exact factors that boosted those pieces of content on the top of the rankings.
  • Based on an in-depth analysis, we give a content performance score for each piece of ranking content, highlighting the focus keywords used by that piece of content.
 

6. How We Did the Research

 

The short answer for the “how we did the research” question would be: with tons of patience and a truck of coffee.

 

The longer answer would be: 3,784,369 pieces of content.

 

What we actually did was to look at the content, domain, page performance and many other data coming from approximately 3,7 million of pages ranking on 40k keywords. We took the first 100 SERPs for each keyword. We’ve analyzed them thoroughly, squeezed them as much as we could and we draw some great conclusions.

 

Even if we had the data for the first 10 Google pages, we decided to present you the conclusion on the top 20 positions in Google because we know that these are the “most hunted” positions and are of great interest for you, guys.  The data collection took place in April 2017. 

 

I have yet to see any problem, however complicated, which, when you looked at it the right way, did not become still more complicated. 
Poul Anderson Poul Anderson
American science fiction author 

Inspired by Google Semantic Search, Latent Semantic Index, Latent Semantic Analysis (LSI & LSA) and applying lots of advanced algorithms and Pearson Correlations, we squeezed everything we could for the set of data we had in order to make sure we have the most accurate and reliable results possible.

 

We also ran some regression analysis to make sure the correlation was right and the results more than confirmed our theory. It turned out there was a 97% positive relationship between variables and that the regression model accounts for 94% of the variation in ranking. With p falling way below 0.01, it is clear that this finding is significant and not the result of random chance.

 

This, of course, doesn’t mean that there aren’t other factors that contribute to ranking variation, just that the variation in content performance correlates, to a very large degree, with the variation in rankings, and that it is consistent with all the other factors.

 

regression

 

We hope we haven’t lost you somewhere among the geeky data. Yet, we believe that a solid research cannot be made without a proper methodological approach.  

 

And yes, we do know that correlation does not imply causality.  But, as the creator of the XKCD web comic states:

 

Correlation does not imply causation, but it does waggle its eyebrows suggestively and gesture furtively while mouthing ‘look over there.’ 

 

And, if we were to draw a conclusion to all the data, what you need to keep in mind is that a high Content Performance score is correlated with top rankings in Google.

 

7. How Can You Improve Your Content Performance Score 

If you’ve made it so far, allow me to reward you with a short joke:

 

Statistics play an important role in genetics. For instance, statistics prove that numbers of offsprings is an inherited trait. If your parent didn’t have any kids, odds are you won’t either.

 

Also, since you’re here I’m guessing that you’ve browsed through all the charts and figures exposed above and you are now interested in our sense of humor only. But you want to see how can you make the most out of this research.

 

If the content performance boosts rankings, then, the content performance score is what you need to work on. 

 

Seeing the high correlation between the content performance score and the rankings, wouldn’t it be great if there was a tool that helped you out to calculate and improve your content performance score?

 

Well, good news: we’ve invented that tool: The Keyword Tool & Content Assistant

 

As we’ve made this great breakthrough with the content performance score, we knew we needed to do something about it. So we’ve begun to dig deeper and decided to create a tool that will offer something that no other automated tool can: the exact recommendation that any piece of content should follow in order to improve its content performance score and therefore its rankings.

 

It wasn’t an easy ride, I can tell you. Lots of hard work, advanced algorithms and months of continuous work and research. Yet, the results are tremendous as we’ve managed to create the tool that we and any SEO pro, webmaster or content marketing needs. 

 

 

But I’d better show you how it works.

 

Let’s say that I own a food blog and I am interested in tackling the “vegan recipes” niche. I already used the Keyword Tool to get an idea of what people are searching for in Google when it comes to this subject. And now I am interested in “beating” my competition’s content performance score.

 

Just by taking a look at the Ranking Analysis section I can get a full idea of who my competitors are, where they rankings are and how  they got there. 

 

vegan receipies content performance

 

Having the content performance score for each of my competitors makes it easy for me to understand where my content performance score should be. More than that, I also get the exact list of focus words those webpages used. The focus keywords are the exact keywords that boost the content performance score. 

 

I am all covered when it comes to the competition. I know who ranks where and why. But what about my content score?

 

The Content Assistant is a feature also created by us; a sort of personal assistant that will tell you the exact pieces you need to use to improve your content performance score. It’s a learning machine, based on real search results, that helps you to optimize your content and your overall marketing strategy.  

 

It’s like trying to solve a really complicated puzzle but someone would come and would give you the exact instructions and steps you need to follow. Things get way much easier, right? Just take a look at the screenshot below.

 

 

I’ve entered my own piece of text on which it seems I need to do some content improvements. It seems that my content performance score is only 19 and my goal is to beat #1 score, which is 52. So how do I get that score? By following the recommendations, just like in the screenshot above.

 

There are some important keywords that I never thought of using. And not only my content performance score will be increased if I use them, but also the overall quality of my article, as it will tackle some subjects that are of high interest. And hopefully my ranks as well. 

It’s a 100% beneficial situation: my blog articles will get great content optimization tips (due to which my target audience will have a better user experience) and my SEO rankings will hopefully improve. 

 

Hopefully this research, along with the tool, will make you re-think your content marketing programs and the way you view search engines rankings.

 

Of course, there are a lot of factors that can influence rankings: social media (we even did a research on how social signals influence rankings), backlinks, etc.

 

As long as content performance has such a high impact on rankings, why not make the most of it?

 

 

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