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SEO in 2021: What your organization’s executives and senior leaders must know

March 1, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Did you know that 53 percent of trackable web traffic is organic?
  • A study from BrightEdge revealed that search (organic and paid) still delivers more traffic to websites than any other channels, including social and display
  • These statistics prove that the role of SEO in 2021 is elevated across all industries since an organic flow of traffic is now more critical than ever
  • Merkle Inc.’s VP Head of SEO, Eryck Dzotsi discusses six key focus areas that leaders across organizations must clearly understand about the role of SEO to drive organic search performance

2020 wasn’t a year that we will soon forget. Life and the way we do business changed forever. Ecommerce grew more last year than it has grown in the past five years combined. As a result, many businesses had to adapt their marketing efforts to these changes. The role of SEO in 2021 is elevated across all industries since an organic flow of traffic is now more critical than ever.

As we navigate this year, leaders across organizations must clearly understand the role of SEO and focus on driving organic search performance. Let’s dive into some key areas of focus:

1. Define the integration of SEO within other channels going forward

Did you know that 53 percent of trackable web traffic is organic? A study from BrightEdge revealed that search (organic and paid) still delivers more traffic to websites than any other channels, including social and display. This statistic alone demonstrates why brands need to realize that organic traffic is not going away, and they need to value SEO in 2021 and beyond. They need to integrate SEO with their other media channels. Organic search is the only channel that has a touchpoint across each stage of the customer journey.

While TV and display are generally associated with awareness, paid search is typically aligned with the mid to lower funnel as customers are making a decision about the product or service and converting. The story is different for organic search.

  • When interested in a product or when they have a problem they are trying to solve, users search (often as a result of interacting with an ad)
  • When making a decision and comparing options, users search
  • When customers are ready to convert, they search again, and often, after the purchase, search is again involved in learning how to use the product, service, and more

SEO is about answering users’ questions and helping them find what they were seeking. As a result, SEO is one of the few channels where the engagement is initiated by the user and the ad does not disrupt the customer journey. This makes SEO the channel that ought to be the point guard to a cross-channel line-up, playing assist to the other channels.

2. Organizations must hold SEO to the same accountability and scrutiny as other channels (ROI)

Organizations need to deploy a clear SEO analytics plan going forward. Often, because SEO does not have an associated cost, marketing prioritization is low, and measurement is laxed. ROI can seem abstract, and teams fail to properly track the measurement of success based on levels of effort, this is not ideal. SEO teams must have a systematic measurement plan and resources in place to make the right level of attribution and adjustments happen.

To start, align your goals with the other media channels – look at the impressions and have a clear understanding of your share of voice within your industry, click-throughs, visits, and conversions as part of the full view – what percent are you gaining compared to the market?

This accountability must be demanded from your SEO team going forward.

3. Organizations must optimize to one search experience by harmonizing SEO and SEM

In the first half of 2020, and throughout some of the social unrest periods that marked the year, many advertisers paused their campaigns. In those instances, this was a real-time experiment in organic vs. paid traffic acquisition. The conclusion many have walked away with is that you need both, but the programs which invested heavily in organic search showed the best results in aggregate.

Since non-branded keywords are becoming increasingly expensive, it is not always efficient to deploy a non-brand campaign in paid search. As a result, many campaigns have been reduced to maximizing visibility on branded terms. So, how do you win in search when you cannot buy your way out with paid campaigns? Organic search is the answer. An analysis should be conducted to properly find the balance between paid and organic so that you are optimizing the total search experience. Organizations that win here will have a clear strategy around leveraging where they are winning and where they have gaps.

4. Marketing teams must align SEO and user experience

Many lessons were gained in terms of reducing friction in the customer journey and optimizing the conversation between customers and brands. As a result, many brands set out to either redesign their websites or migrate to a new platform. When redesigning or overhauling a website, it is vital to involve SEO in the project from the beginning, or you will likely end up adding an extra step when a botched overhaul of content starts to affect performance. Start the project with SEOs involved from the beginning to save time, money, and headaches in this process. Additionally, ranking factors are becoming more aligned with items that are controlled by the UX team. SEO connects your media team to your user experience team, and collaboration between the two is necessary to bridge the gap in 2021 and beyond.

“Page experience” is already a ranking factor in Google’s algorithm and represents a set of aspects considered important in a webpage’s overall UX (mobile-friendliness, security, and the others). There are a couple of things happening this year that are specifically highlighting Google’s continued focus on rewarding websites that provide a great experience. First, Google is finalizing the switch to mobile-first indexing, which means all websites and their content will be crawled, evaluated, and indexed from a mobile device standpoint. Then the Core Web Vitals will be included in the larger page experience ranking factor.

5. Technical priorities for web must include SEO, Core Web Vitals, and user experience

If you ask 1,000 SEOs what the big trend for SEO in 2021 will be, 1,000 will tell you that it will be the year of Core Web Vitals. Core Web Vitals are a set of aspects that Google considers important in a webpage’s overall user experience. There are several things happening this year that specifically highlight this – the most impactful being Google’s switch to a mobile indexing environment, which is the end of an era as we know it. This means that Google will largely use the mobile version of the content for indexing and ranking. In the past, the index primarily used the desktop version of a page’s content when evaluating the relevance of a page to a user’s query. Many websites have done great work to prepare, but complying with your technical foundation is a non-negotiable going forward.

6. SEO anchors on optimizing content across the entire customer journey

Marketers must create content that caters to the user’s journey – answering the demand and questions they will have across each stage of the funnel. As you plan content, have clear keyword governance to manage your content strategy across the organization, clearly defining each owner. For example, for large financial institutions, which business unit of banking, credit card, and mortgages owns the SEO performance for the keyword “credit score”? It is imperative that copywriters work hand-in-hand with SEO to have a functional content strategy to optimize the journey. You shouldn’t just use SEO to prioritize your content and keywords, but use it to determine the voice and narrative around those keywords.

According to a new Google update on December 3, Google is favoring information and user-focused sites. As a result, there has been a shift in ranking for organizations that are providing value and nurturing their customers. User-focused content across the journey is no longer a nice-to-have for organizations, but a must-have to properly rank.

Organic engagement with customers throughout the customer journey is and will continue to be a key element to marketing success. As the data shows, the channel is healthy. Brands that have invested in an institutionalized approach to SEO have achieved and sustained levels of success that span across other channels. There are many more opportunities for growth, and with ecommerce and customer expectations continue to grow at a rapid pace, the outlook for SEO in 2021 is optimistic.

Eryck Dzotsi is VP Head of SEO at Merkle Inc.

The post SEO in 2021: What your organization’s executives and senior leaders must know appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Far-Right Platform Gab Has Been Hacked—Including Private Data

March 1, 2021 No Comments

The transparency group DDoSecrets says it will make the 70GB of passwords, private posts, and more available to researchers, journalists, and social scientists.
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Three critical PPC trends to watch for in 2021

March 1, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • The PPC world is ever-changing. Today’s trends may not be in the picture tomorrow
  • People will start focusing more on the buyer’s journey and use it to its full potential
  • Automation and AI will be a key trend in 2021

Many things have turned topsy-turvy after witnessing a year full of unprecedented situations and multiple coronavirus-induced lockdowns. Companies are shifting to a remote-first culture, people prefer shopping online than going to a retail store, and in-person conversations have turned to video conversations. A lot has changed in the last year, even on the advertising and marketing turf. Marketers have started using automation and artificial intelligence (AI) to create data-backed ads. They’ve started understanding the buyer’s journey and making the most of it. Here are three PPC trends that can potentially rock the boat in 2021.   

1. Google’s ad data hub will be a gold mine

Earlier in 2020, Google announced that they’d stop allowing third-party pixel tracking because of security concerns. The reliance on third-party pixels to check YouTube metrics led Google to invest in Ads Data Hub.

It is a custom analysis that aligns data with your specific objectives while maintaining privacy and security. It offers marketers a comprehensive analysis to measure the effectiveness of the ads across different screens. 

PPC trends - Google's data hub

Ads data hub will prove to be a gold mine for the marketers as it gives specific insights about the customer behavior and how they’re interacting with your ads. 

2. Understanding the buyer’s journey

A key aspect of a successful PPC campaign is to know how your customers behave to your ad in each step of your customer’s journey. Understanding each stage of the buyer’s journey can help in creating a more effective PPC campaign. 

Here are the five stages of the customer’s buyer’s journey and how can make the most of it by creating PPC campaigns for each stage.  

Stage #1: Awareness

In this stage, customers learn about your business and offerings. People are looking for an answer to their question—there are looking for someone to solve their problem. So, their needs may or may not be well defined. 

How can you help? 

Help them figure out their needs and align your offers according to them. Use branded paid ads to garner their attention. Use keywords they’re using to search in their search queries. When they see your ad, it stirs curiosity in them, and it compels them to know more about your brand. 

Stage #2: Exploration

In this stage, the customer learns more about the answers to their problems. They are sure of their needs and know different ways to cater to them. They also deem you as one of the solution providers and are gauging whether you can solve their problems. They’re checking your company’s USP, reviews, social proof, and previous partnerships. 

How can you help? 

At this stage, you can engage with your customers and build a long-lasting relationship. You can also use Facebook lead ads for addressing your customer’s problems. You can also write a conversational copy having social proof, case study, and previous work. This will inculcate a sense of trust in them, and they’ll love to explore your offerings. 

Stage #3: Comparison

In this stage, the customer compares different offerings and finds the best fit. He now understands the pricing points, their reviews, and ratings. Hence, PPC remarketing ads can prove out to be a great bet here. You can evoke the customer to click on your ad and embed your “cookie.” This keeps your brand in front of your customer. 

Stage #4: Conversion

The customers have realized their needs. They have narrowed down their options and are ready to buy. This is where you can put a strong call to action in your ads to encourage them to purchase from you. A solid CTA will compel your customer to purchase from you. Besides, you can also use remarketing to ensure that the prospects buy only from you. 

Stage #5: Re-engagement

Finally, the prospect has become a customer. So, make efforts in retaining them. But how will you do that? Segment these customers into a new audience list and use remarketing ads to attract their attention for other products and services. 

Understanding each stage of the buyer’s journey will help you create a rock-solid PPC campaign. The more you know your customers, the better you can tailor your campaigns. 

3. Automation will play a crucial role

According to Statista, the market size of automation globally will increase from 71.5% to 83.2% by 2021.

PPC trends - Automation will take charge

Hence, automation is expected to be a game-changing trend in 2021. With AI and machine learning (ML), advertisers can automate labor-intensive tasks of finding the right place to display the ads. Automation will also play a crucial role in testing ads. It’ll be used to optimize ads that include:

  • Finding the best bidding strategy 
  • Creating bids to get maximum conversions 
  • Enhance cost per click by looking for ad auctions 
  • Monitor the ad performance and stop low-performing ads 
  • Prioritize the ads that are generating top results 
  • Generate ads dynamically using user behavior and website content 
  • Generate ad performance reports dynamically 
  • Generate ad data and create ad copies to generate maximum clicks 

As AI learns more about your audience’s behavior and how they interact with the ads, it can accurately create ads to improve your PPC campaign’s performance. 

Wrapping up 

As an advertiser, you must incorporate these PPC trends in your marketing strategy to get the most out of your campaigns. In 2021, AI and automation will take the front seat. People will focus on each stage of the buyer’s journey and use voice search to look for answers to their queries. There will be a surge in VR-enabled video ads. Marketers will also look for alternate PPC campaign platforms such as Quora, LinkedIn, Reddit, and other such platforms to generate better ROI in 2021. Hence, it’s true to say that 2021 has a bunch of whole new things in its bag for you. All the best for taking up your digital marketing strategy a notch up!

Aayush Gupta is Sr. Manager, Brand & Marketing at Uplers.

The post Three critical PPC trends to watch for in 2021 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


How To Be Successful While Onboarding Virtually: New Hires, Human Resources, and Current Employees

February 28, 2021 No Comments

After almost a year, the world is still trying to get used to onboarding virtually and making new hires feel well trained and welcomed, even from miles away.

Read more at PPCHero.com
PPC Hero


Daily Crunch: Facebook launches rap app

February 27, 2021 No Comments

Facebook unveils another experimental app, Atlassian acquires a data visualization startup and Newsela becomes a unicorn. This is your Daily Crunch for February 26, 2021.

The big story: Facebook launches rap app

The new BARS app was created by NPE Team (Facebook’s internal R&D group), allowing rappers to select from professionally created beats, and then create and share their own raps and videos. It includes autotune and will even suggest rhymes as you’re writing the lyrics.

This marks NPE Team’s second musical effort — the first was the music video app Collab. (It could also be seen as another attempt by Facebook to launch a TikTok competitor.) BARS is available in the iOS App Store in the U.S., with Facebook gradually admitting users off a waitlist.

The tech giants

Atlassian is acquiring Chartio to bring data visualization to the platform — Atlassian sees Chartio as a way to really take advantage of the data locked inside its products.

Yelp puts trust and safety in the spotlight — Yelp released its very first trust and safety report this week, with the goal of explaining the work that it does to crack down on fraudulent and otherwise inaccurate or unhelpful content.

Startups, funding and venture capital

Newsela, the replacement for textbooks, raises $ 100M and becomes a unicorn —  If Newsela is doing its job right, its third-party content can replace textbooks within a classroom altogether, while helping teachers provide fresh, personalized material.

Tim Hortons marks two years in China with Tencent investment — The Canadian coffee and doughnut giant has raised a new round of funding for its Chinese venture.

Sources: Lightspeed is close to hiring a new London-based partner to put down further roots in Europe — According to multiple sources, Paul Murphy is being hired away from Northzone.

Advice and analysis from Extra Crunch

In freemium marketing, product analytics are the difference between conversion and confusion — Considering that most freemium providers see fewer than 5% of free users move to paid plans, even a slight improvement in conversion can translate to significant revenue gains.

As BNPL startups raise, a look at Klarna, Affirm and Afterpay earnings — With buy-now-pay-later options, consumers turn a one-time purchase into a limited string of regular payments.

(Extra Crunch is our membership program, which helps founders and startup teams get ahead. You can sign up here.)

Everything else

Jamaica’s JamCOVID pulled offline after third security lapse exposed travelers’ data — JamCOVID was set up last year to help the government process travelers arriving on the island.

AT&T is turning DirecTV into a standalone company — AT&T says it will own 70% of the new company, while private equity firm TPG will own 30%.

How to ace the 1-hour, and ever-elusive, pitch presentation at TC Early Stage — Norwest’s Lisa Wu has a message for founders: Think like a VC during your pitch presentation.

The Daily Crunch is TechCrunch’s roundup of our biggest and most important stories. If you’d like to get this delivered to your inbox every day at around 3pm Pacific, you can subscribe here.


Social – TechCrunch


The SolarWinds Body Count Now Includes NASA and the FAA

February 27, 2021 No Comments

Plus: Firefox blocks more tracking, how to fight a robodog, and more of the week’s top security news.
Feed: All Latest


Salesforce delivers, Wall Street doubts as stock falls 6.3% post-earnings

February 27, 2021 No Comments

Wall Street investors can be fickle beasts. Take Salesforce as an example. The CRM giant announced a $ 5.82 billion quarter when it reported earnings yesterday. Revenue was up 20% year over year. The company also reported $ 21.25 billion in total revenue for the just-closed FY2021, up 24% YoY. If that wasn’t enough, it raised its FY2022 guidance (its upcoming fiscal year) to over $ 25 billion. What’s not to like?

You want higher quarterly revenue, Salesforce gave you higher revenue. You want high growth and solid projected revenue — check and check. In fact, it’s hard to find anything to complain about in the report. The company is performing and growing at a rate that is remarkable for an organization of its size and maturity — and it is expected to continue to perform and grow.

How did Wall Street react to this stellar report? It punished the stock with the price down over 6%, a pretty dismal day considering the company brought home such a promising report card.

2/6/21 Salesforce stock report with stock down 6.31%

Image Credits: Google

So what is going on here? It could be that investors simply don’t believe the growth is sustainable or that the company overpaid when it bought Slack at the end of last year for over $ 27 billion. It could be it’s just people overreacting to a cooling market this week. But if investors are looking for a high-growth company, Salesforce is delivering that.

While Slack was expensive, it reported revenue over $ 250 million yesterday, pushing it over the $ 1 billion run rate with more than 100 customers paying over $ 1 million in ARR. Those numbers will eventually get added to Salesforce’s bottom line.

Canaccord Genuity analyst David Hynes Jr. wrote that he was baffled by investors’ reaction to this report. Like me, he saw a lot of positives. Yet Wall Street decided to focus on the negative, and see “the glass half empty,” as he put it in his note to investors.

“The stock is clearly in the show-me camp, which means it’s likely to take another couple of quarters for investors to buy into the idea that fundamentals are actually quite solid here, and that Slack was opportunistic (and yes, pricey), but not an attempt to mask suddenly deteriorating growth,” Hynes wrote.

During the call with analysts yesterday, Brad Zelnick from Credit Suisse asked how well the company could accelerate out of the pandemic-induced economic malaise, and Gavin Patterson, Salesforce’s president and chief revenue officer, says the company is ready whenever the world moves past the pandemic.

“And let me reassure you, we are building the capability in terms of the sales force. You’d be delighted to hear that we’re investing significantly in terms of our direct sales force to take advantage of that demand. And I’m very confident we’ll be able to meet it. So I think you’re hearing today a message from us all that the business is strong, the pipeline is strong and we’ve got confidence going into the year,” Patterson said.

While Salesforce execs were clearly pumped up yesterday with good reason, there’s still doubt out in investor land that manifested itself in the stock starting down and staying down all day. It will be, as Hynes suggested, up to Salesforce to keep proving them wrong. As long as they keep producing quarters like the one they had this week, they should be just fine, regardless of what the naysayers on Wall Street may be thinking today.


Enterprise – TechCrunch


Data-backed insights on featured snippet optimization

February 27, 2021 No Comments

30-second summary:

  • Around one-fifth of all keywords trigger a featured snippet
  • 99% of all featured snippets tend to appear within the first organic position and take over 50% of the screen on mobile devices, driving higher-than-average click-through rates (CTR)
  • The key to featured snippet optimization lies in a few specific areas: long-tail- and question-like keyword strategy, date marked content that comes at the right length and format, and a succinct URL structure

Google has always been pretty hazy on any details about winning featured snippets. This was the case when they were first introduced, making them something businesses considered to be the cherry on top of their SEO efforts, which is still largely the case. Having first-hand knowledge about the value and power of featured snippets, Brado teamed up with Semrush to conduct the most comprehensive research around featured snippet optimization to uncover how they really work, and what you can do to win them.

Revealing the highlights from a Featured snippets study that analyzed over a million SERPs with featured snippets present, this post unwraps actionable suggestions on amping up your optimization strategy to finally win that Google prize.

General patterns across the featured snippet landscape

With billions of search queries run through the Google search box each day, our study found that around 19 percent of keywords trigger a featured snippet. Why does this even matter? Featured snippets are known to drive higher CTR – as another study uncovered, they are responsible for over 35 percent of all clicks.

Further proving the immense power of featured snippets, our study showed that they take up over 50 percent of the SERP’s real estate on mobile screens.

Combine this with our findings that 99 percent of the time featured snippets take over the first organic position, and that they are in most cases triggered by long-tail keywords (implying specific user intent), and you’ll get the reason behind incredibly high CTR numbers.

Are some industries more likely to trigger featured snippets?

In the study, we defined industries by keyword categories, discovering that, indeed, featured snippet volume is inconsistent across various segments.

The top industry, seeing a featured snippet in 62 percent of all cases, is Travel and Computer & Electronics, followed by Arts & Entertainment (59 percent), and Science (54 percent), while Real Estate keywords lag behind all the rest with only 11 percent of keywords triggering a featured snippet.

featured snippet optimization insights on keyword categories that trigger

Yet on a domain level, the industry breakdown varies slightly, with Health and News sites having comparable featured snippet volumes.

You can discover the full industry breakdown within the study.

Featured snippets are all about earns, not wins

Just hoping your content will win you a featured snippet isn’t enough – as our study showed, it’s all about hard-earned content optimization results.

Throughout our in-depth featured snippet analysis, we pinpointed the following SEO best practices consistent across all featured snippets we’ve come across:

1. Optimize for long-tail keywords and questions

When it comes to optimization and keywords, employ ‘the more the better’ logic.

Our study found that 55.5 percent of featured snippets were triggered by 10-word keywords, while single-word ones only showed up 4.3 percent of the time.

One thing even better than long-tails is questions. In fact, 29 percent of keywords triggering a featured snippet begin with question words – “why” (78 percent), “can” (72 percent), “do” (67 percent), and in the fewest cases, “where” (19 percent).

featured snippet optimization insights on question keywords that trigger

2. Use the right content length and format

The SERPs we analyzed included four types of featured snippet: paragraphs, lists, tables, and videos:

  • 70 percent of the results showed paragraphs, with an average of 42 words and 249 characters
  • Lists came in as the second-most-frequent featured snippet (19 percent), with an average of 6 item counts and 44 words
  • Tables (6 percent) typically featured five rows and two columns
  • Videos, whose average duration stood at 6:39 mins, showed up in only 4.6 percent of all cases.

Of course, don’t blindly follow this data as the golden rule, rather see it as a good starting point for featured-snippet-minded content optimization.

Plus, keep in mind that content quality always prevails over quantity, so if you have a high-performing piece that features a 10-row table, Google will simply cut it down, showing the blue “More rows” link, which can even enhance your CTR.

3. Don’t overcomplicate your URL structure

As it turns out, URL length matters in Google’s choice of a site that deserves a featured snippet. Try to stick to neat site architecture, with 1-3 subfolders per URL, and you’ll be more likely to win.

Just for reference, here is an example of a URL with three subfolders:

xyz.com/subfolder1/subfolder2/subfolder3

4. Make frequent content updates

In the “to add or not to add a post date” dilemma, based on our featured snippet analysis, we’d suggest that you publish date marked content.

The majority of Google’s featured snippets include an article date, with the following breakdown: 47% of list-type featured snippets come from date-marked content, paragraphs – 44%, videos – 20%, and tables – 19% of the time.

While fresh-out-of-the-oven content can be favored by Google, 70% of all content making it into the featured snippet was anywhere from two to three years old (2018, 2019, 2020), meaning once again that content quality matters more than recency, so you shouldn’t worry that putting a date on it will work against you.

Take a deep-dive into the full Semrush study to learn more about featured snippets and discover the best way to create featured snippet hubs.

A.J. Ghergich is the CTO at Brado.

The post Data-backed insights on featured snippet optimization appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Opinion News Found By Machine Learning at Google

February 27, 2021 No Comments

Opinion News in Top Stories Earlier this year, I wrote a post about news stories that are shown in carousels in Google Top Stories Are Chosen By Importance Scores The patent I wrote about in that post told us that Google may attempt to show opinion pieces related to topics that were being identified as … Read more

The post Opinion News Found By Machine Learning at Google appeared first on SEO by the Sea ⚓.


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