Category: Organic VIsit

CTRL+ALT Digital: Scaling a Small Agency Team

Although running a business of any kind requires overcoming a variety of obstacles, you’ll find in most industries a single challenge that pretty much everyone agrees is the biggest one.

For ecommerce businesses, it’s finding a way to succeed in a landscape increasingly dominated by Amazon and Walmart. For professional sports teams based in Los Angeles, it’s getting people to care that they exist. And for digital marketing agencies, it’s winning new clients.

More specifically, the predominant challenge faced by digital agencies today is winning new clients at scale—growing the number of clients you serve at a higher rate than the number of people you employ. Whether you offer a full suite of services or focus solely on SEM, any agency that’s unable to scale is doomed to either starve (succumb to insufficient revenue) or drown (succumb to unbearable costs).

None of this is lost on Jen Stafford, co-founder and CEO of the full-service, Jacksonville-based shop known as CTRL+ALT Digital. She sat down with WordStream’s Kim Castings to talk about the work her company does and the challenges that come with building it from the ground up.

Let’s take a closer look at CTRL+ALT Digital and their approach to scaling successfully.

Small team, immense value

When you sign a contract with CTRL+ALT Digital, you’re not simply buying a run-of-the-mill service. You’re investing in a partnership with a tight-knit group of digital marketing experts.

Although the company is young—Jen and Chief of Technology Tina Bobango founded it together in early 2018—the aggregate experience among its ranks is nothing short of remarkable. Jen and Tina each bring over a decade of digital marketing experience to the table and now employ a small number of senior-level team members.

This is Jen.

That’s right—the CTRL+ALT Digital team is small. Considering they offer everything from search engine marketing to mobile app development, it’s a pretty impressive machine they’ve got running down there in Jacksonville.

The breadth of the services they provide their clients speaks to what I said earlier about investing in a partnership. If Jen and company dedicated themselves solely to PPC, they could collectively crank out a lot of projects in a short period of time. But that’s not what they’re interested in doing. Instead, CTRL+ALT Digital is built to make long-term, mutually beneficial investments in their clients. Whatever you need—whether it’s custom software application or website development, graphic design, long-form videos, SEO, copywriting—they’ll work with you every step of the way.

The question looms: How do you juggle so many offerings and scale your PPC services?

Growth mode

When asked how much time she and her team spend on prospecting new PPC clients, Jen’s initial response was laughter.

“A lot,” she said. “We’re in growth mode. We’ve grown really fast over the past year or so. Prospecting new clients and putting together proposals is a full-time job unto itself.”

That’s something we hear from our agency customers pretty often. And it’s not just about finding businesses that need help with their digital marketing, either. It’s about finding the right businesses that need help with their digital marketing. You can’t forge healthy, lasting relationships with businesses that demand something you can’t supply.

That’s why Jen decided to partner with WordStream in the fall of 2018—to enable her team to streamline the prospecting process and spend more time delivering value to their clients.

Our New Business Center enables you to glean insights from prospects’ PPC accounts.

“Using WordStream Advisor for Agencies allows us to bring on more PPC clients without hiring extra employees,” Jen told Kim. “The Advisor UI is so easy to use—much easier to use than the native Google Ads interface, anyway. It also makes reporting really easy and enables us to optimize our clients’ campaigns in a fraction of the time.”

What optimizations, exactly? Jen pointed out two metrics in particular that she and her employees keep an eye on to ensure they’re doing the best work possible for their clients: Quality Score and search impression share.

“We’re always trying to find ways to improve our clients’ Quality Scores so they can see better returns and spend less money on clicks,” Jen explained. “Impression share is crucial, too, because a lot of the businesses we work with depend on winning the top ad positions on relatively small mobile device screens.”

Without the right tools, these optimizations are pretty time-consuming. Plus, it’s hard to tell whether a certain tweak is going to make a positive difference in advance. As a WordStream customer, however, Jen has access to the 20-Minute Work Week—which, among other things, lets her know when there’s an opportunity to improve Quality Score or implement a mobile device bid adjustment.

Let’s take a look at how features like these have helped CTRL+ALT Digital in recent months.

Scaling successfully

Around the time she launched CTRL+ALT Digital, Jen signed up for our email newsletter. Six months later, she became a customer.

Within the first 30 days of their relationship with us, CTRL+ALT Digital did such phenomenal work that their first PPC client doubled their paid search budget. Plus, without the burden of hiring new employees and taking on overhead, Jen and company were able to bring four more PPC clients on board.

Overall, Jen estimates that WordStream Advisor for Agencies has given her team a 30% boost in work capacity. Plus, she said the efforts of her dedicated WordStream representative, Lauren Gentile, makes it feel as if she’s got an extra player on her team.

Of course, the feeling is mutual. “Jen is absolutely fantastic,” says Lauren. “The most important thing to know about her is that she’s passionate about her work and wants nothing more than to help her clients succeed. You don’t often encounter someone so fervently trying to move the needle for their clients.”

Jen, Tina, and the rest of the CTRL+ALT Digital crew pride themselves on their capacity to be the partners that businesses need to grow over the long term. Now that’s something we can get behind.

The post CTRL+ALT Digital: Scaling a Small Agency Team appeared first on Organic Visit.

SEO writing guide: From keyword to content brief

SEO writing guide: From keyword to content brief

If content is queen, and the critical role SEO plays a role of bridging the two to drive growth, then there’s no question as to whether or not keyword research is important.

However, connecting the dots to create content that ranks well can be difficult. What makes it so difficult? How do you go from a target keyword phrase and write an article that is unique, comprehensive, encompasses all the major on-page SEO elements, touches the reader, and isn’t structured like the “oh-so-familiar” generic SEO template?

Example of a typical article template structure

There’s no one size fits all approach! However, there is a simple way to support any member of your editorial, creative writing, or content team in shaping up what they need in order to write SEO-friendly content, and that’s an SEO content brief.

Key benefits of a content brief:

  • Productivity and efficiency – A content brief clearly outlines expectation for the writer resulting in reduced revisions
  • Alignment – Writers understand the intent and goals of the content
  • Quality – Reduces garbage in, garbage out.

So the rest of this article will cover how we actually get there & we’ll use this very article as an example:

  • Keyword research
  • Topical expansion
  • Content/SERP (search engine results page) analysis
  • Content brief development
  • Template and tools

Any good editor will tell you great content comes from having a solid content calendar with topics planned in advance for review and release at a regular cadence. To support topical analysis and themes as SEOs we need to start with keyword research.

Start with keyword research: Topic, audience, and objectives

The purpose of this guide isn’t to teach you how to do keyword research. It’s to set you up for success in taking the step beyond that and developing it into a content brief. Your primary keywords serve as your topic themes, but they are also the beginning makings of your content brief, so try to ensure you:

  • Spend time understanding your target audience and aligning their goals to your keywords. Many call this keyword intent mapping. Rohan Ayyr provides an excellent guide to matching keywords to intent in his article, ‘How to move from keyword research to intent research’.
  • Do the keyword research in advance, it will allow writers and editors the freedom to move things around and line it up with trending topics.

How does all this help in supporting a content brief?

You and your team can get answers to the key questions mentioned below.

  • What will they write about? Primary keywords serve as the topic in your content brief.
  • Who is the intended audience? Keyword intent helps unearth what problem the user is trying to solve, helping us understand who they are, and what they need.

Now with keywords as our guide to overall topical themes, we can focus on the next step, topical expansion.

Topical expansion: Define key points and gather questions

Writers need more than keywords, they require insight into the pain points of the reader, key areas of the topic to address and most of all, what questions the content should answer. This too will go into your content brief.

We’re in luck as SEOs because there is no shortage of tools that allow us to gather this information around a topic.

For example, let’s say this article focuses on “SEO writing”. There are a number of ways to expand on this topic.

  • Using a tool like SEMRush’s topic research tool, you can take your primary keyword (topic), and get expanded/related topics, a SERP snapshot and questions in a single view. I like this because it covers what many other tools do separately. Ultimately it supports both content expansion & SERP analysis at the same time.

Example of finding potential topics using SEMRush's topic research tool

  • Use keyword suggestion tools like KeywordTool.io or Ubersuggest to expand the terms combined with Google search results to quickly view potential topics.

Finding potential topics by combining keyword suggestion tools' results with Google's search results

  • Use Answerthepublic.com to get expanded terms and inspirational visuals.

Example of finding potential topics using Answerthepublic

You’ve taken note of what to write about, and how to cover the topic fully. But how do we begin to determine what type of content and how in-depth it should be?

Content and SERP analysis: Specifying content type and format

Okay, so we’re almost done. We can’t tell writers to write unique content if we can’t specify what makes it unique. Reviewing the competition and what’s being displayed consistently in the SERP is a quick way to assess what’s likely to work. You’ll want to look at the top ten results for your primary topic and collect the following:

  • Content type – Are the results skewed towards a specific type of content? (For example, in-depth articles, infographics, videos, or blog posts)
  • Format – Is the information formatted as a guide? A how-to? Maybe a list?
  • Differentiation points – What stands out about the top three results compared to the rest?

Content brief development: Let’s make beautiful content together

Now you’re ready to prepare your SEO content brief which should include the following:

  • Topic and objective – Your topic is your primary keyword phrase. Your objective is what this content supposed to accomplish.
  • Audience and objective – Based on your keyword intent mapping, describe who the article is meant to reach.
  • Topical coverage – Top three related keyword phrases from your topical expansion.
  • Questions to answer – Top three to five from topical expansion findings. Ensure they support your related keyword phrases as well.
  • Voice, style, tone – Use an existing content/brand style guide.
  • Content type and format – Based on your SERP analysis.
  • Content length – Based on SERP Analysis. Ensure you’re meeting the average across the top three results based on content type.
  • Deadline – This is only pertinent if you are working solo, otherwise, consult/lean on your creative team lead.

[Note: If/when using internally, consider making part of the content request process, or a template for the editorial staff. When using externally be sure to include where the content will be displayed, format/output, specialty editorial guidance.]

Template and tools

Want to take a shortcut? Feel free to download and copy my SEO content brief template, it’s a Google doc.

Other content brief templates/resources:

If you want to streamline the process as a whole, MarketMuse provides a platform that manages the keyword research, topic expansion, provides the questions, and manages the entire workflow. It even allows you to request a brief, all in one place.

I only suggest this for larger organizations looking to scale as there is an investment involved. You’d likely also have to do some work to integrate into your existing processes.

Jori Ford is Sr. Director of Content & SEO at G2Crowd. She can also be found on Twitter .

Related reading

SEO case study - How Venngage turned search into their primary lead source
SEO writing guide: From keyword to content brief 1
Three ideas to create a high-converting product page
SEO writing guide: From keyword to content brief 2

The post SEO writing guide: From keyword to content brief appeared first on Organic Visit.

Why Topic Cluster Models Should Be Your Next SEO Strategy

Why Topic Cluster Models Should Be Your Next SEO Strategy

Last updated on

Cover Photo - Topic Cluster Model Your Next SEO Strategy

Through the years, SEO has experienced various changes – from the death of link schemes to mobile prioritization. However, one of the biggest innovations in the industry is the use of the Topic Cluster Model as the newest SEO strategy.

This strategy began when Google launched RankBrain in 2015 – an algorithm that connects the users past searches with related topics and phrases that will result in finding the best results for users.

You should know by now that ranking well in any Search Engine Result Page (SERP) means that you need to show how each of your focused keywords are related to one another.

This is where topic clusters come into the picture.

 

What are Topic Clusters?

Topic Cluster is a group of interlinked web pages that are constructed around a pillar content which targets a broad topic. This is based on the idea that search visibility about a particular topic is way, way better than ranking for a specific keyword.

This strategy ultimately helps you develop an area of influence wherein the overall sum of searches for topically relevant long-tail keywords outweighs the sum of searches for a major keyword. This will definitely aid you in organizing the structure of your website and content. In addition, when a blog post in the cluster does well in rankings, the entire cluster also ranks well.

There are three components of the Topic Cluster Model, which are the following:

  • Pillar Content
  • Cluster Content
  • Hyperlinks

Now, let’s discuss these components more thoroughly.

The pillar content is the cluster core since this is based on the broader topic. It is usually 3,000 to 5,000 words long that usually covers all the aspects of a specific topic but still leaves an ample room for different posts to answer. The pillar content is great for people who are not familiar with a certain topic but want to see a comprehensive overview of it.

This component deals with the various cluster content that is directly connected to the pillar content. Unlike the pillar content that tackles a broad topic, the cluster content focuses on a specific keyword that is related to your broad keyword – discussing it in a more thorough and comprehensive manner. Lastly, these cluster content contain a link that brings your readers back to the pillar content.

Out of all the three components, this is the most important of them all. This is mainly because the hyperlinks are the ones that bind the pillar content to the cluster content.

To have a clearer view as to how the Topic Cluster Model works, here’s a photo of the three components put together:

Topic Clusters

(Image Source: HubSpot)

Simply put, the topic cluster model is a group of interlinked content under one specific topic for easier identification of various search engines. It produces signals that aim to prove your website’s authority and expertise on the given topic. This will increase your website’s visibility which may lead to more traffic and conversions.

 

Topic Cluster Model: Its Importance and Advantages

Undoubtedly, keywords have been and still are the foundation of content creation. However, with constant technological innovation and improvement, gradual behavior shifts happened with how the users interact or use a given set of keywords.

Ever since digital assistants – such as Siri and Alexa – were introduced, they have become one of the most common platforms in accessing search engine results pages (SERPs) at a much faster and more efficient rate than manually typing the query.

Due to this change in user behavior, Google and other search engines have been modifying their systems to cater to topic-based content searches. Existing SEO strategies that could not adapt to the behavior change were ultimately made obsolete to make way for new and more effective strategies, such as topic clusters model.

Though keywords are still important, targeting an entire topic is the way to go these days – mainly because of these following reasons:

 

  • Search engines are better at understanding related ideas.

Searching for an exact keyword is still relevant. However, search algorithms these days are better at understanding multiple terms on the same topic.

 

  • Authoritative and trustworthy results are what Google and other search engine results want to provide to their users.

In order to show authority to people and bots, consistently creating valuable and precise contents about a certain topic is a must. This is far better than making a number of disorganized content that targets keywords that are unrelated to one another.

With this being said, thinking of topics instead of a specific keyword is ultimately one of the factors that you should be focusing on because of these following benefits:

 

  • This will keep visitors on your website

Having innumerable content that is related to the interests of your visitors will make them stick to your website longer.

 

  • When an article does well, all the interlinked articles also do well

As you create content around a certain topic, this gradually improves the search rankings of your other similarly related content that are already on your website. As a result, this can ultimately lead you to own multiple SERP positions.

 

  • It helps bring you more traffic

Given that your cluster does well in terms of rankings, this will attract more visitors to your website and will more likely stay on it – which will make your traffic and conversions soar.

 

Creating a Topic Cluster

Now that you are already knowledgeable about the topic cluster model and how important and beneficial it is, we move on to the next step – creating your own topic cluster:

 

The first thing that you should do when curating your own topic cluster is to figure out what topic you want to be an authority on – it can be on sports, games, or SEO – if you have a blog. However, if you’re dealing with a business website, try to stick to the business’ niche as much as possible. Some things to note when you’re choosing a topic as your pillar content:

  • Your topic should be the keystone of your business
  • It should be something that you want to rank for
  • It should cover all the various aspects of a pillar page but must be broad enough for you to write numerous articles about it

When you finally choose your pillar content topic, that’s the time that you build content around it. By doing this, you are helping prospects to steadily trust you and your brand.

 

  • Inspect Your Existing Content

After figuring out and choosing the topic that you want to talk about, the next step is to do a content audit to see if you have existing and supporting articles that you can link to your chosen pillar page. This will ultimately let you maximize your existing content, and at the same time, will help you maximize the focus on your content creation efforts.

 

Although topic clusters are the latest strategy in the SEO world today, this does not mean that you should neglect and forget about your target keywords. Optimizing your content and web pages around your keywords is still a must.

As soon as your topic clusters are made and you have your target keywords finalized, you can now update and optimize your pages and content in your cluster.

 

  • Link All Your Content Together

Once you have completed all your content, it is now time to link them with each other, as well as to the pillar page. When you are in this part, always remember to make your links two-way – which means that your pillar page must have links going to each of your articles in the cluster.

This is considered the most important step when crafting a topic cluster since this clearly demonstrates to search engines, such as Google, that these contents are connected and related to each other.

Once you have applied all these changes to your website, the only thing for you to do is to wait for the results in your site analytics. However, do note that it takes a month or two before you see and feel the strategy’s impact.

After the given time and you have seen the results to your topic clusters, you’ll be able to see which pages in the cluster performed best and the pages that you still need to optimize to make it rank better.

 

Key Takeaway

Shifting to a new strategy is indeed intimidating, most especially when your business already has an extensive archive. However, if you are able to plan numerous contents on a topic while making it well turned-out and then stitch them all together – then you are apt to be successful in doing this strategy.

The post Why Topic Cluster Models Should Be Your Next SEO Strategy appeared first on Organic Visit.

13 Must-Know Sound Bites from #HeroConf 2019 (And Why You Should Care)

The biggest names in the industry. Crowds of people losing their minds at every stage. Kanye West screaming into a microphone about nothing in particular.

No—I’m not talking about Coachella. I’m talking about Hero Conf.

I went to Hanapin Marketing’s eighth annual US conference to learn from the best and brightest minds in PPC—including WordStream’s own Navah Hopkins and Mark Irvine! Here are the 13 most brilliant sound bites I heard.

(Disclaimer: I’m only a man. I wasn’t able to attend the majority of the sessions at the conference. I’m certain that every single speaker dropped some serious knowledge, and I’m sorry that’s not reflected here.)

1. Isadora Coelho (Facebook Blueprint)

Representing Facebook Blueprint—the educational brand that Facebook created to train and certify business owners and digital marketers in all things Facebook advertising—Isadora kicked off the conference with a keynote address about ad delivery.

That sounds boring as hell. Trust me when I say that it wasn’t.

During the lead-up to the meat of her presentation—which focused on the ad auction, bidding strategies, and advertiser controls—Isadora had this to say about Facebook’s approach to ad delivery:

“At Facebook, when it comes to ads, we’re always trying to maximize value both for businesses and for people.”

I think it’s essential for anyone who’s running (or considering) Facebook ads to understand what Isadora is saying here. Facebook, not unlike the Federal Reserve of the US, has a dual mandate: keep advertisers happy by driving returns on their ad spend and keep users happy by delivering relevant content.

In other words, you have no chance of winning the ad auction if your ads aren’t relevant to the users you’re targeting. If you segment your campaigns according to funnel stage and craft your ads accordingly, you’ll give yourself a much better chance of beating your competitors and driving returns on your Facebook budget.

2. Akvile DeFazio (AKvertise)

The founder of the California-based social media marketing agency AKvertise and a regular contributor to the WordStream blog, Akvile used her session to give us insights into the social network that’s been taking over the world for a while now: Instagram.

Via @michellemsem

The conventional wisdom is that, unlike search engine users, social media users are passive—that is, not actively looking for solutions to their problems. On the contrary, Akvile pointed out that 60% of Instagram users—for those of you keeping score at home, that’s the majority—use the platform to seek and discover new brands, products, and services.

Instagram users, in other words, are active. So how do you capitalize on that commercially motivated mindset?

In a word: video.

“Viewers retain 95% of a message when they view it in a video compared to 10% when they read it in text.”

It doesn’t get much clearer than that. If you’re advertising on Instagram to make people aware of the awesome product or service you offer, static image ads are going to let you down. By incorporating video into your social strategy—you don’t have to do anything fancy!—you substantially improve the likelihood of your ads making lasting impressions on consumers.

Why is that? Because video ads give consumers a much more complete idea of what it’s like to be your customer. On that front, static image ads are far less effective.

3. Amanda Farley (SSDM)

Just because something’s obvious doesn’t mean it can’t be profound. That’s what I what realized when Amanda Farley, partner at digital agency SSDM and frequent contributor to industry-leading publications like Search Engine Land and Marketing Land, said this:

“Buying a $15 t-shirt is different from buying a house.”

This was the most obvious thing I heard Tuesday morning, and it was also the most impactful. Basically, it was Amanda’s way of illustrating a really crucial point: There’s no one-size-fits-all customer journey. Whereas someone may very well buy a piece of clothing after seeing a single Facebook ad, they’re probably going to take a bit more time to settle on a piece of real estate.

Accordingly, taking a full-funnel approach to digital marketing is going to mean different things to businesses in different verticals. If you’re in the affordable apparel sector, you can expect a lot of your prospects to convert after only a few touchpoints. Alternatively, if you’re in the B2B software sector, you’re going to have to invest in truly educating and nurturing your prospects if you want to forge lasting partnerships.

4. Larissa Hildebrandt (Unbounce)

You’ve poured your blood, sweat, and tears into thoughtfully segmenting your campaigns and tightly grouping your keywords. You’ve tirelessly experimented with automated bidding solutions to find which ones work best for you. You’ve obsessively tweaked your ads’ headlines and descriptions to get your copy to the point of perfection.

So why aren’t you driving conversions? Probably because your prospects could rebuild the Phoenix Suns into a championship basketball team by the time your landing page loads.

According to Larrisa—who works as a product marketer at CRO solution provider Unbounce—only 3% of digital marketers prioritize improving page speed. I’ll let her explain why that’s a problem:

“Speed impacts conversions. And when you pay for each click, the stakes are high.”

Again—dead simple, yet pretty profound. 52% of mobile consumers will bounce from your landing page if it takes more than four seconds to load. In ecommerce specifically, every second of landing page load time can cost you up to 20% of your potential conversions.

A paid search marketer (or any digital marketer, for that matter) who neglects to reduce their landing page load time is akin to a brick-and-mortar store owner who neglects to unlock the front door. In fact, neglecting to reduce your landing page load time is even worse because you’re coughing up a fee regardless of whether a particular prospect converts.

Yikes.

5. Kirk Williams (ZATO)

Let’s be honest—there’s a lot about Google and Bing Shopping that’s hard to wrap your head around. With acronyms like SKU and GTIN and UPC flying around, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed. That’s why I love this straightforward excerpt from Kirk’s presentation on shopping ads:

“Shopping campaign organization is all about bidding.”

With this statement, Kirk touched on a fundamental difference between standard search campaigns and shopping campaigns: Whereas the former involves bidding on individual keywords, the latter involves bidding on product groups. And because you’re setting a single bid on a group of several products, it’s extremely important that those products are similar to one another—in more ways than one.

Via @zmste

Price, profit margin, and conversion rate. Those are three crucial metrics that you need to take into consideration when building out your product groups. Why? Because the more expensive, profitable, or well-converting a particular product is, the more you should be willing to pay for a click on an ad for it. You really, really don’t want to bid the same amount of money for clicks on ads for your best- and worst-performing products.

6. Joe Martinez (Clix Marketing)

There’s a phrase I used earlier in this post when talking about the perceived differences between search engine users and social media users: conventional wisdom. As it turns out, the notion of conventional wisdom was at the core of the presentation given by Joe Martinez—director of client strategy at Clix Marketing and another regular on this here blog.

Via @_GilHong

By my count, Joe addressed two iterations of the conventional wisdom when it comes to paid search. One: You must include the keyword you’re targeting in your ad’s headline. Two: Quality Score is the metric to end all other metrics. He had this to say on those matters:

“Your CPC going up isn’t always a bad thing.”

Allow me to clarify. As your Quality Score for a particular keyword goes down, the CPC you have to pay for that keyword goes up. So, when Joe says that your CPC going up isn’t always a bad thing, he also means that your Quality Score going down isn’t always a bad thing.

Here’s why. Let’s say you have a high Quality Score and low CPC for a particular keyword. One of the reasons your Quality Score is high is that you’ve included your target keyword in your H1 and Google has deemed your ad highly relevant. However, because you’re so focused on targeting the keyword and not so much on connecting with prospects’ needs, your conversion rate for that keyword is sub-par.

Consider an alternative. Rather than using your H1 to target the keyword, you use it to connect with your prospects according to their position in your marketing funnel. Because Google deems your ad less relevant, your Quality Score goes down and your CPC goes up. However, because you’ve made that connection with your prospects, you drive a higher conversion rate. Yeah—you’re paying more for clicks. But you’re also getting more revenue out of those clicks.

Something to think about.

7. JD Prater (Quora)

Hero Conf day one wrapped up with a keynote address from Quora Ads evangelist JD Prater regarding the challenges digital marketers face at a time when consumers’ eyeballs are more elusive and expensive than ever.

Via @ppckirk

After sharing some alarming information—for example, the fact that Americans have a more favorable attitude towards CONGRESS than they do towards advertisers—JD dove into his four big ideas for breaking through the noise. The fourth one was simple: Create an awesome experience for your existing customers and they’ll bring you new customers in return. Along those same lines…

“91% of B2B customers are influenced by word-of-mouth marketing.”

If you’re in the B2B sector, pretty much everyone you’re prospecting would be more likely to become your customer if someone gave them a glowing review of your product or service. People trust people. It’s that simple.

So how do you grow your B2B business? You win new customers. And how do you win more customers? You make your existing customers really, really happy.

Go above and beyond with your customer support. Consider yourself an extension of their businesses. Listen to their pain points and change your product or service accordingly (and with your discretion, of course). You’ll all be better off for it.

8. Matt Myers (NPR)

Day two of the conference kicked off with a roundtable of sorts—a four-way conversation between a Hanapin Marketing rep and three of the agency’s clients, including NPR marketing chief Matt Myers.

For about 45 minutes, the four of them talked about what businesses expect from the digital marketing agencies they bring on board. The quotables were flying off the stage like you wouldn’t believe, but I managed to hurriedly jot down this gem from Matt:

“I think the key is accountability—an orientation towards those goals that everyone on the team has agreed are important.”

When you’re working with somebody else’s money, it can be all too easy for it to become an abstraction—disconnected from anything concrete. But that couldn’t be further from the truth, could it? As an agency, your job is to help another person grow their business. And if you ask 100 business owners what they think about most throughout the day, I’m willing to bet that pretty much all of them will respond with “my business.”

I think that’s what Matt was driving towards when he said that accountability is the key to a strong business-agency relationship. If you take ownership of the fact that you’re partially responsible for the success of another business, you’ll do a better job.

9. Michelle Morgan (Clix Marketing)

This presentation—delivered by Michelle Morgan, director of client services at Clix Marketing and yet another regular contributor to our blog—was awesome not only in terms of the content itself, but also in terms of how much content there was. 

Of all the insightful things she shared, this excerpt—from the part of the session regarding lead quality—was my favorite:

“Use your ad copy to deter people from clicking in the first place.”

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Why would you want to deter people from clicking on your search ads? Isn’t that going to hurt your CTRs, your Quality Scores, and your CPCs?

Yeah, probably. But fewer clicks isn’t necessarily a bad thing. If you write your ad copy with a narrow (read: qualified) audience in mind, the clicks you drive—although fewer in number—will come from people who are much more likely to become your customers. Accordingly, you’ll drive a lower CPA and make your sales reps’ lives a hell of a lot easier.

An example is useful here. Let’s say you sell enterprise software for ecommerce businesses that spend millions on marketing and advertising. If you don’t make it clear in your ad copy that your software is for big businesses, you’re going to drive clicks from mom-and-pop shops that will never, ever become your customers. Alternatively, if you use your H2 to say something along the lines of “Software Solution for Big Brands,” you’ll substantially improve the quality of the leads you deliver to your sales team.

10. Aaron Levy (Elite SEM)

As I alluded to in the section about businesses’ expectations for their digital marketing agencies, we’re all here—ultimately—for one reason: to grow. And we grow, of course, by driving more revenue this year than we did last year.

That’s not a secret, right? We want people to buy the stuff we sell. That’s the whole point.

Nonetheless, it’s important to discuss this quote from Aaron Levy, director of SEM at the still-rapidly-growing digital agency known as Elite SEM:

“Don’t ask for marriage on the first date.”

In other words: Don’t ask the person who’s literally never heard of your business to buy your enterprise software. It’s a waste of your money, it’s a waste of their time, and it’s guaranteed to leave a bad taste in everyone’s mouth.

Aaron said this while talking about the role of content in your marketing strategy. Just because whitepapers don’t drive revenue, doesn’t mean they’re unimportant to your business. When you make the effort to share your knowledge and educate the people who are in the market for whatever you’re selling, you improve your brand perception and give yourself a better chance of winning customers when those people decide to buy.

11. Navah Hopkins (WordStream)

(Note: Sadly, Navah and Mark presented at the same time and I had to choose one or the other.) 

Everyone has something they obsess over. For Captain Ahab, it’s the white whale. For Fall Out Boy, it’s mainstream relevance. And for the average search marketer, it’s high Quality Scores. We’ve been inundated for years now with the idea that if you optimize for nothing else, you should optimize for Quality Score—which, for those who don’t know, is determined by historical CTR, ad and landing page relevance, and landing page experience.

Navah Hopkins, our in-house service innovation strategist, thinks differently:

“Quality Score is a health indicator, not a key performance indicator.”

A key performance indicator, otherwise known as a KPI, is a metric that you’ve determined is worthy of optimization given your marketing goals. For example, if the goal behind your search campaign is to drive qualified leads at or below a certain cost threshold, cost per action (CPA) is a KPI you’ll want to track and optimize for.

A health indicator, on the other hand, is a metric that lets you know how closely you’re adhering to best practices. Take your Quality Score, for example. If it’s low (in the 1-3 range) for a particular keyword, that means your CTR is low or your ad-to-landing page relevance is subpar.

Navah’s point is this: A low Quality Score tells you nothing about performance. This ties back to what Joe and Michelle talked about, too. If your Quality Score for a given keyword is low, but you’re driving qualified traffic and delivering awesome leads to your sales team, who cares?

Should you keep an eye on Quality Score? Sure. Should you shape your entire search strategy around the goal of making your Quality Scores higher? Nope.

12. Carrie Albright (Hanapin Marketing)

Two things have become well established at this point: one, that consumers expect fairly instantaneous solutions to their problems; two, that they often turn to their phones to find those instantaneous solutions. Accordingly, if you’re advertising a business that depends on foot traffic—like a pizza place or a bookstore—it’s increasingly important for you to make yourself visible at the top of the SERPs.

But simply getting there isn’t enough, says Carrie Albright, director of services at Hanapin:

“It’s really important that you understand cultural differences.”

Let’s contextualize that a bit. Say you’re the director of the paid search program at an agency that helps brick-and-mortar retailers grow through digital channels. Within your portfolio, you’ve got clients across the United States, in every major city from Boston to Albuquerque.

Here’s Carrie’s point in a nutshell: Boston and Albuquerque are home to vastly different cultures, and your search ads should reflect that. The messaging that resonates with your clients’ prospects in one city probably isn’t going to resonate with your clients’ prospects in another. You have to familiarize yourself with colloquialisms and other cultural idiosyncrasies.  

That’s on top of all the fundamentals, of course—Google My Business listings, ad scheduling during business hours, radius targeting, and the like.

13. Rachel Vandernick (Context Travel)

Content marketing is a pretty straightforward gig. Basically, you write search optimized content to create positive interactions between people and your brand and bring prospects to the top of your marketing funnel. Sure—Google tweaks its algorithms. Keyword trends come and go. The organic SERP evolves. But, for the most part, you’re not caught off guard in any major ways.

You know where that’s not the case? Paid search. And that’s especially true if, like Rachel Vandernick, acquisition marketing manager at Context Travel, you’re using paid search to reach consumers on multiple continents. Here’s one of her insights from Wednesday afternoon:

“PPC does not exist in a vacuum.”

It’s true. Whether you want to admit it to yourself or not, there’s a whole bunch of stuff that you can’t control that influences the efficacy of your search campaigns. Pretend you’re the PPC director at UC Berkeley and you drive traffic to a beautiful landing page by bidding on the university’s brand name. One day, the student body launches campus-wide protests and lands the school on national news programs. Suddenly, searches for “uc berkeley” are going through the roof and you’re getting tons of impressions and clicks from people who have less than zero interest in enrolling.

Within your control? Nope. Impacting your performance metrics? Big time.

Rachel’s point, of course, was not to bum everyone out. Rather, she simply meant to convey the importance of adaptability. Learn from your mistakes and implement the systems you need to mitigate the consequences when unexpected stuff happens.

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Top advanced YouTube SEO tips to boost your video performance Search Engine Watch

Top advanced YouTube SEO tips to boost your video performance Search Engine Watch

YouTube is not just a social media platform. It’s a powerful search engine for video content. Here’s how to make the most of its SEO potential.

There are more than 1.9 billion users who use YouTube every month. People are spending over a billion hours watching videos every day on YouTube. This means that there is a big opportunity for brands, publishers and video creators to expand their reach.

Search optimization is not just for your site’s content. YouTube can have its own best practices around SEO and it’s good to keep up with the most important ones that can improve your ranking.

How can you improve your SEO on YouTube? We’ve organized our advanced YouTube SEO tactics into three key areas:

  • Keyword research
  • Content optimization
  • Engagement

Advanced YouTube SEO tips to drive more traffic and improved rankings

Keyword research

It’s not enough to create the right content if you don’t get new viewers to actually watch it. Keywords can actually help you understand how to link your video with the best words to describe it.

They can make it easier for viewers to discover your content and they also help search engines match the content with the search queries and their relevance.

A video keyword research can help you discover new content opportunities while you can also improve your SEO.

A quick way to find popular keywords for the content you have in mind is to start searching on YouTube’s search bar. The auto-complete feature will highlight the most popular keywords around your topic. You can also perform a similar search in Google to come up with more suggestions for the best keywords.

Example of using YouTube's auto-fill feature to find the best keywords

If you’re serious about keyword research and need to find new ideas, you can use additional online tools that will provide with a list of keywords to consider.

When it comes to picking the best keywords, you don’t need to aim for the most obvious choice. You can start with the keywords that are low in competition and aim to rank for them.

Moreover, it’s good to keep in mind that YouTube is transcribing all your videos. If you want to establish your focus keywords you can include them in your actual video by mentioning throughout your talking. This way you’re helping YouTube understand the contextual relevance of your content along with your keywords.

Recap

  • Use the auto-complete search function to find popular keywords
  • Perform a Google search for more keyword ideas
  • You can even use SEO tools for additional keyword ideas
  • Say your keywords as part of your videos

Content optimization

There are many ways to improve the optimization of your content and here are some key tips to keep in mind:

1. Description

Example of using video descriptions to rank on YouTube

Your description should facilitate the search for relevant content. A long description helps you provide additional context to your video. It can also serve as an introduction to what you’re going to talk about. As with blog posts, a longer description can grant you the space to expand your thoughts. Start treating your videos as the starting point and add further details about them in the description. If your viewers are genuinely interested in your videos then they will actually search for additional details in your description.

2. Timestamp

Example of using time stamps to rank videos on YouTube

More videos are adding timestamps in their description. This is a great way to improve user experience and engagement. You are helping your viewers to find exactly what they are looking for, which increases the chances of keeping them coming back.

3. Title and keywords

Keywords are now clickable in titles. This means that you are increasing the chances of boosting your SEO by being more creative with your titles. Be careful not to create content just for search engines though, always start by creating content that your viewers would enjoy.

4. Location

If you want to tap into local SEO then it’s a good idea to include your location in your video’s copy. If you want to create videos that are targeting local viewers then it’s a great starting point for your SEO strategy.

5. Video transcripts

Video transcripts make your videos more accessible. They also make it easier for search engines to understand what the video is about. Think of the transcript as the process that makes the crawling of your content easier. There are many online options to create your video transcripts so it shouldn’t be a complicated process to add them to your videos.

Engagement

Engagement keeps gaining ground when it comes to YouTube SEO. It’s not enough to count the number of views if your viewers are not engaging with your content. User behavior helps search engines understand whether your content is useful or interesting for your viewers to rank it accordingly.

Thus, it’s important to pay attention to these metrics:

  • Watch time: The time that your viewers are spending on your video is a good indicator of its appeal and relevance to them.
  • Likes, comments, and shares: The starting point of measuring engagement is to track the number of likes, comments, and shares in your videos. They don’t make the only engagement metric anymore but they can still serve as a good indication of what counts as popular content. Likes may be easier to achieve but comments and most importantly shares can skyrocket the engagement and views of your videos. It’s not a bad idea to encourage your viewers to support your work. It is actually a common tactic. However, make sure that you’re not trying too hard as this is not appreciated. Every call-to-action needs to feel natural in your videos.
  • Subscribers after watching a video: The number of subscribers serves as an indication of your channel’s popularity. People who actually subscribe to your channel after watching a video make a very good indication of your content’s engagement.
  • CTR: The click-through rate (CTR) is the number of clicks your video is receiving based on the impressions, the number of times that it’s shown. For example, if you optimize your content to show up high in rankings but it still doesn’t get too many clicks, then it means that your viewers don’t find it appealing enough to click on it. This may not be related to the quality of your content but on the first impression that it gets. You can improve the CTR by paying attention to your title and your thumbnail. Bear in mind that YouTube is not encouraging you to clickbait your viewers, so you shouldn’t create misleading titles or thumbnails if you want to aim for higher rankings in the longer term.

Learning from the best

A good tip to understand YouTube SEO is to learn from the best by looking at the current most popular videos. You can also search for topics that are relevant to your channel to spot how your competitors are optimizing their titles, their keywords, and how thumbnails and descriptions can make it easier to click on one video over another.

Examples of using thumbnails and optimizing titles and descriptions to improve CTR

Have any queries or tips to add to these? Share them in the comments.

Related reading

SEO case study - How Venngage turned search into their primary lead source
Top advanced YouTube SEO tips to boost your video performance Search Engine Watch 3
Three ideas to create a high-converting product page
SEO writing guide From keyword to content brief

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Luxury marketing search strategy, Part 2: Strategies and tactics

Luxury marketing search strategy, Part 2: Strategies and tactics

In the first article of my luxury search marketing series, I discussed the consumer mindset in the luxury vertical. I provided insight into what motivates luxury shoppers and what drives them to purchase.

In the second article, I’ll build upon that foundation and explore how to craft SEO strategies that enable luxury marketers to maximize results in this highly competitive space.

This article’s SEO recommendations address “on-page” ranking factors. Moz defines “on-page SEO” as optimizing both the content and HTML source code of the webpage. Prioritizing on-page SEO will help luxury marketers increase their organic search visibility by (1) Improving search engine rankings, and (2) By driving traffic to their website.

Read also: 10 on-page SEO essentials: Crafting the perfect piece of content

Unfortunately, the work doesn’t stop once you have great on-page SEO. As I explained in my first article, consumers often purchase luxury goods to satisfy an emotional need. So, to truly maximize conversions, luxury marketers should deliver an emotionally fulfilling shopping experience. I’ll share some ideas on how to do this with high-quality content.

1. Understand keyword intent and get your brand in front of the right buyers

It is critical to understand the intent behind customers’ search behavior. You need to understand what they want in order to effectively optimize your website and create a solid foundation for a content strategy. Keyword research, which involves strategically analyzing intent, will enable you to understand consumers’ specific needs and how you should be targeting those searchers.

There are three basic types of search intent:

  • Navigational – These searchers are looking for a website or location. For example, “Gucci,” or “Gucci.com”. Search results lead to the brand’s domain, i.e. Gucci.com.
  • Informational – These searchers are looking for specific information. For example, “Chanel leather types,” “what is caviar leather?” Search results lead to web pages that provide specific information, like guides and lists about the types of Chanel leather or more detailed information about what caviar leather is.
  • Transactional – These searchers are looking to take a specific action such as buy a product or book a service. For example, “buy Jimmy Choo shoes,” “where to buy gold handbags?” Search results lead to retailer websites where you can buy Jimmy Choo shoes or gold handbags.

Putting it into practice

How do you know if your website is addressing your customer’s intent? Start by evaluating your keyword targeting. Look beyond search volume and ask yourself if your keyword targeting matches the search intent. For example, if your page is informational in nature, is the term you are targeting and optimizing for consistent with an informational-based keyword search? Manually check the search results to ensure that the keyword and page you are targeting is a right fit for what’s appearing in the search results.

Read also: How to move from keyword research to intent research

2. Invest in your meta description to win the click

Although meta descriptions have not been a direct ranking factor since 2009, click-through rate can impact your website’s pages’ ability to rank. Given this, marketers need to continue to invest in meta descriptions. Although custom meta descriptions are more work (especially when you’re dealing with ecommerce sites where content frequently changes), it’s worth the effort you put in to get the click.

How do you write a stellar meta-description? Here are a few tips.

1. Prioritize your evergreen pages

Evergreen pages are those pages where the page itself stays the same, even though the content may change slightly over time. These are your main landing pages, specifically your homepage and category level pages, such as “designer collections” or “jewelry & accessories”  where most of your traffic comes from. Even if the content changes slightly, these pages will have the chance to build up equity/credibility within the search engines so make sure you nail the meta description.

2. Paint a picture

In my first article, I explained how many consumers purchase luxury goods to fulfill emotional needs. Use the meta description as an opportunity to address those needs and create an experience. You can do this with visually appealing descriptions that make great use of action verbs. Action verbs deliver important information and add impact and purpose. The click-through rate improved by almost 2% on a page my team optimized using more descriptive copy. Some examples are:

  1. Take a peek at the latest handbag designs.
  2. See yourself in the tropics with this collection of flowy dresses.
  3. Achieve the perfect business look.
  4. Get sun-kissed denim jackets, shirts, and other apparel.

3. Create urgency with your calls-to-action

In my first article, I also discussed the importance of communicating exclusivity when promoting luxury products. Use the meta description as a way to create a “fear of missing out” with your call-to-action. Some examples are:

  1. Shop this limited edition today!
  2. Check out our exclusive collection today!
  3. Don’t miss this once in a lifetime trip!

4. Make sure it fits

Be mindful of character limits. Make sure you stay within 150 to 160 characters, otherwise your description will likely be cut off in search results. It doesn’t provide the user with a good experience when a key part of your message is missing.

5. Hire a professional copywriter

If you are struggling with writing creative and compelling descriptions, I strongly recommend working with a professional copywriter, especially for your website’s key pages. Good copywriters can add the magic touch to your meta descriptions.

Read also:

Putting it into practice

Conduct an honest assessment of your meta descriptions. Is this something you would click on for more information? Winning the click can help improve your click-through rate, and as a result, your SEO ranking position. More importantly, it can help improve your conversion rate which translates into sales and more money earned.

And don’t forget to take stock of what your competitors are doing. Are they winning the click because they are using more creative descriptions, and more enticing, urgent calls to action?

3. Create emotionally fulfilling and relevant content that reiterates the urgency

We’ve talked a lot about the importance of emotionally fulfilling content in luxury marketing. So, what exactly qualifies as emotionally fulfilling content? What type of content or shopping experience is going to trigger that dopamine hit that makes us feel good and go back for more?

In its most basic sense, emotionally fulfilling content is content that makes you feel something. Think about a story that you love. Do you remember how it felt to be totally immersed in the story? If it were a book, you couldn’t put down. Or if it were a TV show that you had to binge-watch for the entire series, you had to keep watching because you couldn’t get enough.

That’s the type of content I’m talking about. It’s content that leaves you feeling satisfied, content, and engaged. This type of content fulfills our high-level needs as we discussed in the first article. Buying that Fendi handbag, or Rolex watch, can give us the confidence we need and appeal to our sense of belonging.

We connect with stories, especially stories we can relate to. Chanel does a great job with this type of website content. I’m a Chanel brand fan and a jewelry lover, so Chanel’s 1.5, 1 Camelia. 5 Allures resonates with me. Chanel creates an experience that you can truly immerse yourself in.

Consumers aren’t the only ones who love good content

For years Google has been stressing the importance of high-quality content.  This type of content is written for the user, not the search engine, but we know that the engines tend to reward strong content with an increase search engine ranking position.

In addition to strong content, the use of urgency elements and descriptive calls-to-action are powerful ways to drive conversions. How often have you scrolled through a website to find your desired product with a “limited quantity – only three left!” label. That’s a powerful motivator that pushes consumers to drive in-the-moment purchases. Leveraging the “fear of missing out” is a powerful tactic that can be applied to products to help drive conversions. Lyst had a 17% conversion rate increase when they showed items on product pages that were selling quickly.

You can create urgency in a few different ways:

  1. Quantity limitations (Only one left at this price!)
  2. Time limitations (Discounted tickets until 1st April!)
  3. Contextual limitations (Mother’s Day is coming, buy a gift now!)

Putting it into practice

Spend some time examining your content. Is it emotionally fulfilling and relevant enough for your customer? Is this something you would be interested in? If not, what can you do to improve it? Content that is emotionally fulfilling and relevant often tells a story and keeps your users coming back for more. Remember, Google tends to reward this type of content with increased search engine rankings.

Also, consider how you can incorporate urgency elements onto specific pages. Think in terms of quantity, time, and context.

Final thoughts

Content that’s relevant and creates an emotionally fulfilling experience for the user should be at the heart of any luxury brand’s marketing campaign. We crave this content because of the experience that it provides for us and how it makes us feel. Don’t forget about the dopamine connection!

The foundation of your SEO campaign should start with keyword intent research. It’s not just enough to target search volume alone, you must balance that with user intent. Finally, invest in your meta description by creating something that’s truly enticing that makes people want to click through, learn more about your brand, and get them to convert.

In the final article in the series, we’ll tie everything together and discuss integrating search marketing with other channels in the luxury goods industry. Stay tuned!

Jennifer Kenyon is a Director of Organic Search at Catalyst (part of GroupM). She can be found on Twitter @JennKCatalyst.

Related reading

Complete guide to Google Search Console
Google tests AR for Google Maps Considerations for businesses across local search, hyperlocal SEO, and UX
Doing backlink building like a ninja
Google Dataset Search How you can use it for SEO

The post Luxury marketing search strategy, Part 2: Strategies and tactics appeared first on Organic Visit.

Facebook Removes Targeting Options, LinkedIn Launches Lookalikes, & More Recent News

Happy spring, dearest readers. Warm days are ahead! While the seasons were changing, so was the world of online advertising—that’s why it’s time for another news round-up. Let’s see what’s been going on recently.

Facebook removes more targeting options

In 2018, the National Fair Housing Alliance, the American Civil Liberties Union, the Communication Workers of America, and several other groups filed suit against Facebook due to concerns that its advertising platform enables discrimination against particular audiences on the basis of race, gender, age, and so on.

Last summer, Facebook removed over 5,000 targeting options from its advertising platform—a decision that impacted advertisers from all verticals. Now, Facebook has announced new policies specifically geared towards advertisers in the housing, employment, and credit industries:

  • Facebook will no longer allow advertisers in these industries to target users according to gender, age, or ZIP code.
  • Facebook will disable targeting that appears to exclude users on the basis of race, gender, age, class, sexual orientation, or religion.
  • Facebook is building a tool that will enable users to view all the housing-related ads that are currently running in the US.

It goes without saying that everyone at WordStream fully supports this decision and the broader trend of Facebook more diligently working to eliminate discriminatory ads.

LinkedIn introduces lookalike audiences

LinkedIn, which now boasts over 600 million users, has announced that advertisers now have the ability to create and target lookalike audiences on the platform.

Long employed by savvy Facebook marketers, lookalike audiences enable you to target users similar to those who’ve already engaged your business in some way—visited your website, downloaded a whitepaper, or even become a paying customer. The idea behind lookalike audiences is that the users who look and act like those who’ve engaged your business are more likely than others to take the action you want them to take.

In a nutshell, you can expand the reach of your LinkedIn ads and remain confident that the impressions and clicks you’re driving are coming from relevant, high-quality users. In fact, LinkedIn says that some of the advertisers who got early access to the lookalike audience functionality grew their reach tenfold without sacrificing quality.

To get started with LinkedIn lookalike audiences, head to Campaign Manager and create a Matched Audience. If you’re looking for ways to build out your first audience, you can pull a list of contacts from your CRM or a list of people who’ve visited your website.

LinkedIn has also announced the expansion of interest targeting, which the platform initially rolled out to advertisers in January. Now, you can target LinkedIn users according to combinations of their professional interests—thus allowing you to get more granular. To help you get started, LinkedIn has created a couple dozen templates of predefined audiences that you can target.

Facebook launches a search engine for ads

Competitive research on Facebook just got a little bit easier. Late last week, Facebook announced the expansion of the Ad Library to include every business page that’s running ads—not just pages related to politics and social issues, as was previously the case.

For those who don’t know, the Ad Library—launched in the US as the Ad Archive a while back—was originally intended to enable Facebook users to get more information about the political ads they saw on the platform. Basically, if a user saw an inflammatory, politically charged ad and wanted to make sure it wasn’t being run by a tech savvy man based in—oh, I don’t know—a massive Eurasian powerhouse, they could so with the Ad Library.

Now, in step with their continued efforts towards greater transparency, Facebook has expanded the Ad Library to enable users to get more information about everyone’s ads. If your business has a Facebook page and you’re running ads on the platform, anyone can use the Ad Library to see what you’re putting out there.

(Technically, users could already do this by navigating to your Facebook page and clicking on the Info and Ads tab. The Ad Library simply makes it easier and more streamlined.)

But, users aren’t really the concern, right? Nope—it’s your competitors that you have to worry about. The Ad Library is essentially a search engine for Facebook ads. Your closest rival can simply type your name into the search box and get instant access to all the creative advertising assets you’re running.

The good news is that your competitors still can’t see all the behind-the-scenes stuff—the demographics you’re targeting, the parameters of your lookalike audiences, and so on. And, at the end of the day, as important as it is to write strong copy and create compelling visuals, those audienced-based details are what really matter.

Nonetheless, it doesn’t hurt to keep an eye on the other businesses in your space and make sure their ads aren’t getting too similar to yours.

Google makes Gmail dynamic, interactive

Gmail is about to become a lot more useful. Last week, Google announced that it has improved its email property—which boasts over a billion monthly active users—by making it far more dynamic and interactive than ever before.

Via Google.

Compared to other web-based experiences, said Gmail product manager Aakash Sahney in the announcement blog post, “email has largely stayed the same—with static messages that eventually go out of date or merely serve as springboards to accomplish more complex tasks.”

We’ve all been there: You get an email invitation to RSVP to an event and, rather than taking care of it within the email itself, you have to navigate to another website and fill out a form there. Not anymore. Thanks to the new, dynamic interface, you’ll be able to accept meeting invitations, complete forms, browse products, respond to Google doc comments, book hotel rooms, and more—all within Gmail.

Business owners and digital marketers alike should certainly feel excited about this. In the past, it’s been all too easy to suffer low engagement across your email marketing campaigns due to the static nature of the messages and the frustration that your contacts may have felt when trying to complete simple tasks.

Let’s say you run a local gym, for example. Previously, when you’ve asked your email contacts to fill out the sign-up form for a new exercise class, you’ve probably lost interested participants simply because they didn’t feel like clicking through to your website. Now, as long as you’re a G Suite customer, you’ll be able to drive more conversions with the help of dynamic, interactive Gmail templates.

Instagram makes Stories ads interactive

Great news for social media marketers who (wisely) incorporate engagement with users into their strategies: Instagram has announced that polls are coming to Stories ads.

Instagram Stories are insanely popular, and a lot of businesses have been using interactive elements—polls, hashtags, mentions—in their organic Stories posts for some time now. It’s a smart tactic—and for more than one reason.

Via Later.

Using a Stories poll to directly ask your followers for their input on your product is a fantastic way to inform the path your business takes going forward. By no means is this a new idea—solving for the customer should be the primary reason you’re in business, after all. A Stories poll enables you to glean those valuable, customer-minded insights in fun, informal way.

Tangentially, fielding customers’ opinions through a Stories poll shows them that you care. You’re giving them an opportunity to influence the development of your product according to their pain points, needs, and concerns. There’s no doubt that they appreciate that.

Anyway, back to the news at hand. With the extension of polls to Stories ads, you can now field opinions not only from your followers, but from Instagram users at large.

Via Instagram.

Let’s say you’re the in-house social media manager for a coffee house in Boston. In the past, you’ve used organic Stories polls to get your followers’ opinions on ideas for new espresso drinks. Now, by incorporating polls into your paid Stories, you can field responses from other users who may be interested in your shop. By creating a custom audience based on users who’ve visited your website or creating a lookalike audience based on users who’ve signed up for your weekly newsletter, you can reach new audiences with your interactive Stories ads while feeling confident that you’re engaging relevant users.

Amazon blocks certain vendors from advertising

CNBC has reported that Amazon is no longer allowing vendors to promote products that ultimately yield losses for Amazon.

Whereas an Amazon seller is a third-party business that sells its products directly to consumers through Amazon’s platform, an Amazon vendor is a third-party business that sells its products to Amazon for resale to consumers. Of course, Amazon aims to resell products at a profit. However, due to packing and shipping costs, Amazon sometimes loses money in the process of buying from vendors and reselling to consumers.

Aw. Poor Jeff!

The company’s logic, it appears, is that no longer allowing certain vendors to promote their unprofitable products will force those vendors to sell to Amazon at lower prices.

This decision, which CNBC was able to make public thanks to emails sent to certain vendors, indicates the lengths Amazon is willing to go to if it means a better bottom line at the end of the quarter. Apparently, they calculate that the money they’ll lose by blocking vendors from running paid promotions is less than the money they’ll gain by pressuring vendors to sell to them at lower prices.

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The Best Strategies Optimize Your SEO for User Discovery

The Best Strategies Optimize Your SEO for User Discovery

Last updated on

Optimizing Your Seo For User Discovery

Online search has seen a rapid course of development over the past few years, from simply being a platform that provides direct search results to its users, to provide users with opportunities to discover beyond the queries they search for. Discovery is crucial for today’s search experience, especially with AI, user intent, and neural matching becoming crucial elements in helping Google understand how and why users conduct their search.

This level of understanding continues to grow as search technology evolves, and doing our part to optimize our content and websites to provide users with more ways to discover content will only make the search experience even more expansive. Optimizing for user discovery is just as crucial as optimizing for search, and here are the best ways to utilize it to boost your SEO.

Search and Discovery

Optimizing for search and discovery require varying strategies in order for it to be effective. Search is more straightforward, as the goal is to provide specific information based on the search query. Discovery, on the other hand, provides suggestions and related terms to that same query. However, discovery is not just providing suggestions, but also provide the first step into the user’s search journey.

To understand how user discovery works, it is important to learn about some of Google’s more recent new features, such as Neural Matching and Activity Cards.

Neural Matching

Neural Matching is perhaps the most notable of these new features, as it is an algorithm that utilizes Google’s AI technology to understand and analyze language in order to generate better and more diverse search results. This helps the search engine provide a response to concepts that it once had a more challenging time to understand and generate a more natural and intelligent answer.

This can work at times when, for example, you are looking for a name or title of a video game or famous figure that you only have a brief description of. While there are some specific queries that Google might not be able to understand yet, the fact that this technology is present makes user discovery optimization possible.

Activity Cards

Activity Cards, on the other hand, provide users with a list of their previous search queries, while providing recommendations based on the same query. These recommendations can include additional information or even new topics that you might want to know more about. This simple feature enhances the user’s search experience by taking into account previous search queries and providing options that help with User Discovery.

Optimizing for User Discovery

Search discovery focuses on related concepts and recommendations that help establish a user’s search journey. Which is why having the right strategy would be able to help you utilize it and be able to provide another way for users to be able to search for your website and content. Here are some effective strategies that you can use to help establish your user discovery experience.

Use Structured Data

Structured Data helps annotate the information within a website in order for search engines to understand them better. A notable type of structured data is JSON-LD, which is a form of schema that is preferred by Google. Applying JSON-LD to your website is simple, as you would only need to copy and paste the right inputs into your website’s code. Adding Structured Data not only makes it easier for search engines to understand the content of your website, but also optimize the look of your search snippets.

Adding Structured Data is another process in of itself, as the application can be done in different forms. For JSON-LD, all you have to do is to add the right tags for each part of your website and send the data to the Google Structured Data Tool for verification.

Analyze related Search Journeys

One of the best ways to optimize your search journeys is by experiencing one yourself. This allows you to take a look at how Google connects related concepts and lead you to different types of content based on a simple search query. This allows you to take a look at recurring trends and patterns that help make User Discovery a diverse experience.

To try this out, you can enter a simple search query, and see how they connect concepts to each other. This allows you to see how Google understands search queries and see how you can find a way for users to discover your content. Optimizing your content for the search journey allows you to be seen beyond the search results and allow your webpage to become an authoritative entity recognized by Google.

Understand User Intent

User Intent provides you with the answer to how, what, where, why, and when people conduct search queries and allows you to understand the process behind it. User intent allows you to optimize search results by going beyond traditional search methods and using keywords, phrases, and concepts that allow users to be able to discover you more naturally.

Using keyword research tools allows you to understand user intent well, which can bode well when it comes to utilizing User Discovery for your search. Additionally, user-centric content is crucial, as it can be the perfect set-up to a user’s search journey, allowing users to discover your content more often than not. For the best tools, you can use the Ahrefs Keyword Explorer or the Mangools KWFinder, which provides you with search metrics and SERP data, along with related search queries and recommendations.

Key Takeaway

As Google continues to improve its search algorithms and AI technology, the more it can understand how users search. Google is not only becoming a better search engine, but it is also becoming a discovery engine, which not only provides search results from direct queries but also presents opportunities to explore beyond it.

If you have questions about User Intent or SEO in General, leave a comment below and let’s talk.

The post The Best Strategies Optimize Your SEO for User Discovery appeared first on Organic Visit.

Google featured snippets: A short guide for 2019

Google featured snippets: A short guide for 2019

When you ask any question in Google or search with any keyword, a special block of information may appear, which is known as a featured snippet.

This block will contain an extracted summary of the answer from a webpage, a link to that page, and most of the time, a related image. Google extracts the summary programmatically. If you can place in any particular keyword for the featured snippet, you will get special attention of the person searching about that topic. The result? More clicks, more traffic.

Here is one example of a featured snippet, from our main site weDevs.com. The competition of that long tail keyword is relatively low, and there were not many resourceful articles about this topic on the internet. So achieving this Google snippet was easy for us.

Example of a Google snippet

You can opt out from featured snippets (using tag on your page). But according to Google, there is no way to mark your page with a featured snippet. It is a fully programmatic process.

In my research about Google featured snippets, I have found some interesting things about this special block of information. In this post, I will cover them. Using these insights you can get success in your featured snippet SEO.

First of all, let’s see a featured snippet.

My search query “who was Alexander the great?”

Example of a Google snippet for a particular search queryThere is an image of Alexander the great in this snippet. If you click in that image you will see the image is taken from the same webpage of biography.com.

Example of where a snippet image is fetched from

But this is not the case for every featured snippet. Sometimes the Google bot takes the picture from one site and text from another site. Look at these images below, where I have searched for two other historical figures.

Example of Google snippet

Example of Google snippet content and image fetching from two different sites

If your image has related text of the search query, it may appear in the featured snippet. I have found some of these kinds of featured snippet images, one is for the keyword SEO.

Example of Google snippet image for query SEO

The featured snippet image can come from YouTube videos, too.

Example of Google snippet image fetching from YouTube videos

Sometimes a table of facts can appear in the special information block. Here is one example of the search phrase “Ibn Khaldun quotes”.

Example of table of facts in a Google snippet

The webpage of this snippet has a table of quick facts about historian Ibn Khaldun in an article. Googlebot grabs the information box from there.

How to get a place in the featured snippet for a particular keyword?

1. Structure your post better than your competitors for that particular keyword. You can use snippet bait for this. Snippet bait is a 40 to 60 words block of information designed to be featured on FS. This short block of information should clearly answer the question you are targeting.

2. Optimize your content for mobile search. If your site is not mobile friendly, it will be hard for you to get a place in the featured snippet.

3. Use lots of H2 and H3 tags. These will help Google bots to identify your information fast.

4. Use a table of facts for quick summarization. Summary and table of facts also useful for readers to get a quick picture of the content.

5. List a bullet point summary with 40 to 60 words. As a reader, I find it very helpful. An example from a blog post.

Example of how to create content for a Google snippet

6.  Find competitors’ featured snippets using SEO tools like SEMrush or Ahrefs. And then in your content, write a better snippet bait.

7. Get connected with more high authority sites by linking to them. And hopefully getting links in return.

8. From all types of the snippet (paragraph, table, and list), a paragraph snippet performs better. So, spend more time to optimize your contents with little information boxes.

9. To rank for a list snippet, a step by step guide content is most suitable. Use H2/H3 subheading tags for every step name.

10.  If you want to rank for table snippet, use tables in your content with quick facts. Table structure should be simple, well formatted so that the Google bot can easily pull data from it.

11.  Increase the site loading speed. You can read more about that here, here, and here.

12. Adopt HTTPS and secure your URL.

A case study of featured snippets: Your site’s ranking doesn’t matter much

It is not about your site’s SEO ranking or how many backlinks you have.

Mostly a featured snippet depends on the quality of the content and structure of your content. If you search by “how much muscle can you gain in a week?” you will see a featured snippet from a site named aworkoutroutine.com. This bodybuilding site is defeating bodybuilding.com in featured snippets while in the actual search result, it is in the number two position.

Example of how site ranking doesn't affect rich snippets

The content of aworkoutroutine.com is well structured, very suitable for skim reading. Also it has useful information in boxes.

Example of a Google snippet that's skimmable

Besides the content of the bodybuilding.com is just a typical structured one. We can see the SEO position of these two sites from MOZ’s link explorer tool.

Bodybuilding.com

Screenshot of Moz's result for Bodybuilding.com

aworkoutroutline.com

Screenshot of Moz's result for aworkoutroutline.com

Another David and Goliath story, where the underdog is defeating the stronger. So, the basic point is, well-structured content can defeat a high ranking page in Google featured snippets.

Share your thoughts in the comments.

Muradul Islam is a Business Analyst at WeDevs.

Related reading

Doing backlink building like a ninja
Luxury marketing search strategy series
Google Dataset Search How you can use it for SEO
Five ways to improve your website's bounce rate (and why you should)

The post Google featured snippets: A short guide for 2019 appeared first on Organic Visit.

Five things to prepare Search Engine Watch

Five things to prepare Search Engine Watch

January saw the announcement of Bing Ads exclusively taking over management for Yahoo and AOL search ads starting in March.

Oath had been renamed Verizon Media and Yahoo Gemini had switched to the name “Oath Ad Manager” only recently but Verizon (who agreed to the acquisition of Yahoo Inc. in 2016) are clearly trying to consolidate and stabilize the decade-long crumbling of the Yahoo empire. Regardless of the ultimate life expectancy of much of the Yahoo portfolio, the status quo was always on borrowed time.

The key question for agencies and advertisers is, what will it mean in the management of your search advertising?

Impact

The whole handover from Yahoo to Bing Ads is going to be far shorter than version 1.0 of this arrangement, which was implemented around 11 years ago. Only two weeks were allotted from the first blush to full transition, which is now, at the end of March.

The biggest impact here will be in the advertiser workflow. Obviously, you have one less platform but you also have a far better platform set as Bing and Google are very similar now. Bing will, thanks to its increase in traffic data, be able to introduce smart, query-level bidding solutions approximate to Google in a shorter timeframe than before. This will be great news for those seeking efficiency and less time spent on the Bing platform.

From an account management point of view, your year-on-year reviews are going to be more complicated. But you’re also going to have one less budget to forecast. So you win some, you lose some.

Scope

Bing Ads will account for around 35% of search traffic in the US. In international markets where Yahoo is a bigger search engine than Bing, there will be a huge jump.

Since responsive ads (native ads by another name) are in Bing Ads just as they are in Oath/Gemini, your creative will continue to deliver on websites but at a higher volume in a single account.

Search will be easier to control since Oath/Gemini had a different set of options and features, and had very different ad types.

The transition checklist

  • Assuming you keep your budgets in place on Yahoo and boost your Bing budgets to cope with the impending traffic influx, you should be fine. No action will be needed on Yahoo since the ads will stop serving automatically.
  • Setting up Bing conversion tracking on your website becomes even more of a priority if you haven’t already.
  • To counteract the year-on-year comparison issues, just ensure you download all of your Yahoo data, and you should be fine.
  • If you’re not particularly familiar with Bing (or are not on it) then this is the time to get to know it much better. And, frankly, if you know Google Ads, it shouldn’t be a stretch. However, there is an excellent Academy site you should look over and, with this Yahoo development, achieving an accreditation has even more value.
  • The good news is that if you have yet to use Bing Ads, the process for getting started is way easier than you may imagine. You can simply create a Bing Ads account and then import your Google account wholesale with the least amount of fuss. There are a few elements you’ll need to tweak once the content is imported (such as bidding strategies and bids in general) but you’ll probably find it to be a relatively painless process.

Screenshot of importing Google ads campaign data

Bing growth

A big takeaway from the last year or so is that Bing is heavily on a growth trajectory. Here are a few data points:

  • Since 2015, they have grown US search share from 31% to 34% in 2018 (includes Yahoo/AOL)
  • Internationally, Bing has grown at a faster pace (UK: 17% to 20%, FR: 11% to 16%)
  • Bing Ads now has access to LinkedIn audiences (currently beta but launching fully soon)
  • Bing is an OS-level search engine across not just Windows but increasingly popular Microsoft computing devices, plus Xbox.
  • Bing is the voice search engine on Amazon Alexa and the latter’s diversification of Echo and Alexa-compatible devices for presence all over your home and in your car is another crucial factor for the future.
  • Bing Ads covering all of Yahoo search ads (and, of course, powering Yahoo organic search) this year is a significant cherry on top of all of this.

Conclusion

Be prepared to work harder on optimizing your Bing accounts and you should see more traffic and sales than ever (especially if you never before waded into the murky Yahoo Gemini waters).

Steve Plimmer is the Head of Account Management US at ESV Digital. He can be found on Twitter .

Related reading

Google's RankBrain: Clearing up myths and misconceptions
mojeek: alternative to google
youtube and child safety: is the service doing enough?
Google / YouTube and brand safety: What's next?

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