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Six must-know international SEO tips to expand your businesses

February 18, 2020 No Comments

The start of international expansion is an incredible milestone for any business, and gearing up to take your venture around the world will be one of the most exciting moments of your career. But just because your business is thriving at home doesn’t mean that it will be a success abroad. To achieve that, you’ll need to give attention to your international SEO strategy.

Achieving online visibility on an international scale can be tricky, particularly when you factor in differences in language, culture, and search habits. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach where one size fits all across all regions. However, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the challenges of international SEO once you’ve followed these six must-know tips, and should soon see your business soaring in search rankings across the globe.

1. Pick an effective domain strategy

A .com TLD is usually considered the cream of the crop when it comes to domains and the authority afforded to them by search engines. But this can be far too generic to attract international customers. Instead, your domain should clearly target your country of choice and show users around the world that your website is catered specifically to them.

A ccTLD, for example, cocacola.fr, is often popular because the country code immediately shows users and search engines what the target country is. However, if you have multiple localized versions of the website across a number of ccTLDs, search engines will treat these as separate entities, meaning each domain will need to build up backlinks and authority from scratch.

A subdirectory, like, nike.com/fr maintains all your pre-existing SEO efforts as you’re simply adding a localized folder to your current domain. However, this risks causing internal cannibalization if different international landing pages are optimized for the same keywords, such as a US subfolder and an Australian subfolder where the language is largely the same.

A subdomain (such as fr.airbnb.com) is often the default for CMS tools, but users are less likely to associate your site with their country as the country code comes first rather than last, meaning click-through-rates could take a hit.

All domain strategies have pros and cons, so it’s important to ascertain how each option would work for your business specifically. Matthew Finn, one of the SEO specialists at Go Up, highlights several points that could determine your international domain strategy decision. Budget obviously comes into play – ccTLDs can be particularly expensive – and your branding could be a factor too.

As they explain: “If your company has a logo which features your domain, or brand guidelines which stipulate talking about your business as YourBrand.com, then a ccTLD wouldn’t work.” You also need to consider possible limitations of your CMS and current domain. For instance, subdirectories and subdomains only work with an existing generic top-level domain like .com.

Look at the domain structures of competitors in your new target countries to see what Google favors. You might decide to use a combination of all three strategies to target different markets.

2. Conduct localized keyword research

You may feel like you have a good understanding of your current audience’s search habits, but these keywords may not be popular across the board. Conducting localized keyword research will help you judge the online queries likely to serve you best in each country.

This isn’t so difficult when you’re targeting other English speakers, though you still have to take slang and regional variations into account. For example, if you’re a shoe business going after an Australian audience, you would probably be better off targeting “thong” rather than “flip flop” keywords. This is especially relevant to voice search.

Of course, things become more complicated when dealing with entirely different languages. You may not understand the words themselves and also need to consider how cultural context can impact intent. Findings from Webcertain showed significant differences between the search habits of US and Chinese users. Roughly 60% of US searches about chairs related to style and shape, yet only 20% of Chinese searches had the same intent. In fact, 5% more Chinese searches were action-based – what to do with the chair. Culture can hugely influence how people formulate their online queries and you can’t ignore this factor when choosing location-specific keywords.

3. Don’t assume one language means one culture

One size does not fit all when it comes to international expansion, especially considering the diversity of languages. There are many differences in Standard Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, while there are plenty of Spanish variations spoken across North America, South America, and the Caribbean, let alone the many regional dialects in Spain itself. You may think that translating your website into a “standard” language will enable you to connect with all relevant markets, but you risk alienating millions of potential customers if you don’t tailor your content to each target location.

First of all, remember that idioms or colloquialisms may make sense in one place but not in another, even if the same language is spoken. If an Ireland-based furniture business used the word “press”, it’s highly unlikely any English-speakers outside the country would realize this referred to a kitchen cupboard. Similarly, some words, images, and practices are accepted in one place but offensive in another. Though Arabic is the official language of both Morocco and Saudi Arabia, references to alcohol would only be permissible when targeting the former as drinking is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. You also need to use the correct measurements, currencies, and other details, which may vary from country to country regardless of language. French-speaking Canadians would be puzzled to see prices in euros rather than Canadian Dollars.

Errors like this could deter users and damage a business’s trust, authority, and click-through-rate. Therefore, it would be a huge mistake to focus on accurate translations without considering the unique historical and cultural factors making every place unique. Consulting people familiar with the nuances of each target location will ensure your content is suitable for all the potential customers living there.

4. Think beyond Google

Google is normally the holy grail when it comes to all SEO efforts, but there may be other search engines to prioritize during international expansion. The majority of users in China and Russia, two of the largest markets in the world, direct the majority of their online queries to entirely different platforms, so focusing on Google alone could be detrimental to your visibility and profits.

In Russia, the leading search engine is Yandex which holds 56% of the market share. This success has been put down to the search engine’s deeper understanding of Slavic languages. Meanwhile, Google has been blocked in China under the country’s Internet censorship policy. Most Chinese users conduct their online searches through Baidu, which held between 60 to 77% of the search engine market share in China during 2019.

You can’t afford to ignore alternative search engines when targeting markets like these, and it’s also important to recognize each has its own unique algorithms. There will be some similarities—for example, Google, Yandex and Baidu all reward quality content – but you’ll need to be aware of the differences. Indexing can be very slow for both Yandex and Baidu which means it will take longer to see the benefits of your efforts, so long-term results should be the priority. Paid search is crucial to Baidu, as paid results are given much greater precedence than organic results. Meanwhile, Yandex still values meta keywords – a metric that Google removed from its ranking algorithm some time ago.

5. Implement hreflang tags

Hreflang tags signpost which languages and locations your pages are aimed at, helping Google to understand which version of a page is most appropriate for its users. For example, if someone in Paris typed in a search term relevant to your product page, the hreflang tag signals to Google that the French version of the page should appear in search results.

To target users as accurately as possible, you should include hreflang tags for both language and region. For instance, an ‘en’ tag shows Google that your page is for all English speakers, but you could also add tags to emphasize the specific geographic locations you’re targeting, en-ca for English speakers in Canada and en-us for English speakers in the US. It’s crucial you use the correct codes—for instance, the UK is ‘gb’ rather than ‘uk’—and a hreflang tag generator like Aleda Solis’ SEO tools recommended by Moz that could help minimize mistakes.

6. Start localized link building

Just as with any domestic SEO strategy, links are essential in building the authority of your website within a target locale. To elevate your brand in local search, it’s vital to source links from local platforms within your industry. The more hyperlocal, the better. For example, if you’re opening a new hotel in Berlin, links from travel platforms in the German capital will be more valuable than those in Munich or Hamburg.

Seek out journalistic opportunities and serve as a source of expertise, guest post on influential sites within a region, and use social channels to build connections with local influencers and businesses. It’s also recommended that you use a translator or someone accustomed to the language and customs of a target region to handle the outreach. The more you extend your brand in a target market, the more you will be rewarded with high authority backlinks.

Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.

The post Six must-know international SEO tips to expand your businesses appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services

February 15, 2020 No Comments

Google hasn’t been merely a search engine for some time. These days it has grown into a massive space on the web where businesses and potential customers can meet. In this article, we’ll touch on the aspects of using Google for branding.

Here’s a list of Google’s underused services, and suggested ways you can use them to your advantage.

Analytical tools which help you understand your website and app audience

Google Marketing Platform is a kind of umbrella brand that Google has developed to make its products work together more effectively. It is essentially a merger of Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.

Google for branding - Google Marketing Platform

Source: Google support

Google Analytics is a part of the Google Marketing Platform which tracks website traffic and reports information about who is searching for what and where. There are many analytics services available, but Google’s is the most widely used in the world. It can track visitors to your website, and tell you quite a lot about them and how they interact with your site.

When someone visits your site, Google Analytics can keep track of the duration of the visit, the number of pages they viewed, how they got there, and even the bounce rate. It does all this anonymously, of course, you can distinguish between unique users, but you will not have any idea who any particular user is.

Analytics for Mobile Apps is like Google Analytics, the only difference is, it tracks and gathers data for users of any iOS or Android apps you may have. It was designed to give app developers better data on how people use their apps, what people want from them, and how the apps could be making you more money.

Analytics for Mobile apps allows you to keep records of

  • What actions your users take
  • Track their in-app spending (and your revenue for that customer)
  • Check the navigation path they take
  • Use that data in conjunction with Google Analytics data to really understand the way your customers (or potential customers) approach your brand

Services that you can use to improve brand visibility in searches

Google My Business is a service that lets business owners verify the data Google holds about them. Google generates its own internal business listings for areas literally all over the world, getting its data from a range of online and offline sources. As the process is mostly automated and done without the human verification, errors sometimes occur.

Google My Business allows business owners to ensure that Google has accurate information about them, after claiming the existing listing business can make all the necessary corrections. Besides, if the company is for some reason still off Google’s radar, by creating a Google listing they can let Google know about them.

Google for branding with Google My Business

Thanks to Google My Business, companies can be certain that their customers will find up-to-date information about their business, and their chances of getting featured in the local pack increase as well.

Google Maps is more than just a navigation tool, as well. Google suggests businesses and events in the areas where people are searching for directions and encourages people to search for services (“Show me restaurants near 35th and Maple”) relevant to the way people use Maps.

Using Google My Business to view ratings and info of a business

Some businesses now try to outsmart Google Maps by adding fake business listings to  Google Maps, and so, such fake results sometimes crowd out the real ones. Not let this happen Google is now putting effort into verifying the results it displays in Maps and elsewhere – more on that below.

Cloud-solutions for creating and customizing domains as well as store server

G Suite is a set of software products developed by Google Cloud. It was initially called Google Apps for Your Domain. The current lineup of tools and services includes collaboration tools like Sites, Forms, Slides, Sheets and Docs, cloud storage solutions like Drive, and communication tools like Currents, Calendar, Hangouts, and Gmail. Premium versions of the service often include Jamboard (an interactive whiteboard app) as well as Vault and an Admin Panel to help you manage both users and features.

G Suite

Source: Rohutech.com

Google Cloud Platform is a suite of software services offering cloud-based access to the same global data infrastructure that it uses to deliver Google Search and YouTube. It essentially combines all of Google’s “infrastructure as a service”, “serverless computing”, and “platform as a service”. Google Cloud Platform offers cloud-based processing, data storage, analytics, and even some pretty advanced machine learning applications, all under a single set of management tools.

Advertisement platforms to pull in additional traffic from popular web channels

Google Ads, which was until very recently known as Google AdWords, is where Google really makes its money. It is still at its core a pay-per-click advertising service, but it operates across all the Google’s ever more sprawling service landscape. Businesses of all kinds can pay to get highly targeted users from showing them ads, relevant product listings, videos with sales or branding content, or offering users an opportunity to download the business’ app.

Some of the services under Google Ads include AdWords Express, Keyword Planner, Reach Planner, Google Ads Manager Accounts, Google Ads Editor, Google Partners, and IP Address Exclusion tool.

Google for Retail is a service designed to make it easier for retailers to connect with existing customers as well as finding new ones. It gives you tools that you can use to better engage with existing customers and potential customers over Maps, Google Assistant, YouTube, and Search.

Google for Retail

Source: Google for Retail

Google for Retail includes individualized solutions for offering inventory to local customers, developing shopping campaigns with partner organizations, and combining Google Ads with Smart Shopping Campaigns.

YouTube Ads is, as you might have guessed, the primary way to get your ads served up on YouTube. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the planet, only Google processes more searches than YouTube. It is the infrastructure that connects nearly 2 billion active users to more than 50 million content creators, and 10% of US businesses already have a YouTube Business Account.

Ad types include TrueView Ads – demos, testimonials and adverts that users often search for directly, Non-Skippable YouTube Ads – ads which last up to 20 seconds that play either before or in the middle of a video, and Bumper Ads which last up to six seconds at the end of a video.

YouTube video ad formats

Source: TipsforSEM

Universal App Campaigns are a way to advertise your app throughout Google Ads, Google Play, YouTube and the rest of Google’s advertising empire. It is heavily automated and relies on Google’s machine learning expertise to determine which of your ads work best with particular types of audiences (the ones which cause more users to install your app) and then ensures that the right users see the right ads.

The big benefit here is that you are relieved of the burden of manually split testing and tracking ad performance.

The secret key: NAP

NAP in Google terms stands for Name, address, and phone number. Most experts believe that Google relies heavily on your business’ listed NAP to target search results to individual clients. That is why using NAP in SEO is incredibly important. If you aren’t using it consistently and accurately, you could be losing out on a huge number of highly targeted, site visitors every day – those who Google believes are in your area and actively looking for the goods or services you provide.

How do you use it correctly? It’s not difficult. List your business’ name, address and phone number accurately on your website, and on as many other sites as you can manage. Start with the obvious – your GMB listing, the Internet Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and any local or national business directories which cater to your industry or niche. Most importantly, though, list it consistently. Always use the exact same name, address and phone number, and make sure that all are real.

Examples of good and bad NAP

Why does Google care so much about NAP? It isn’t merely about geo-targeting search results. It is about eliminating false and spam sites from those search results. There are a great many businesses that depend on showing up in as many searches as possible, even those that are not particularly useful to the searcher. Great for them, but it makes Google’s results seem less reliable and relevant to the user, and Google can’t let it happen. It looks for widespread, consistent NAP data for a business or a website to gauge how legitimate your business is. Few false sites have real addresses or phone numbers, and even fewer use them consistently across multiple sites and platforms. Using Name, Address and Phone Number data accurately and consistently help your company look legitimate, as well as bring in geo-targeted searches.

Conclusion

Google has become a vast landscape of user-centric services that are almost completely funded by advertising. It has become incredibly canny about how to get advertising messages out to its users in a way that does not annoy users and brings them something they actually need. They make sure that your sales message reaches people who actually need your service, which truly is a game-changer.

Google now has so many individual services that it can be difficult for non-experts to really get the most from its features. However, failing to gain a certain level of expertise in Google advertising can be disastrous for even a small business these days.

Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with writing expertise that spans across online marketing, SEO, social media, and blogging.

The post Google for branding: Getting more from search engine services appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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TikTok: The next marketing platform for brands

February 11, 2020 No Comments

TikTok, it’s the social media platform that’s taking the world by storm. Gen Z is all over it, and even millennials are joining in on the fun. Can brands be far behind? But what is TikTok, and is it lucrative enough for brands to include in their 2020 marketing plan?

We look at the growing popularity of the channel, what it means for brands, and how companies can maximize their TikTok marketing.

The rise of TikTok

TikTok is a mobile video app much like the now-defunct Vine, created by parent company ByteDance, a startup based in Beijing, China. Launched in 2016, the app currently boasts over 500 million active users and is popular in India, China, and the US.

Users create short, fun looping videos, from 15 seconds to a minute long that’s usually set to music available from the vast TikTok library. The app also offers effects like split screens and filters much like in Snapchat and Instagram. It also provides live streaming.

Alongside the videos that users can create, they can also remix songs and create playlists, in the same vein as Spotify. Like most other social platforms, there is a certain level of interaction between members on the app, such as liking, commenting, hashtagging, and sending hearts.

TikTok recently incorporated paid advertising, which has encouraged brands to join the app and promote themselves.

Why brands should join TikTok

The number of users on TikTok and the app’s potential to grow should be sufficient enough reason for brands with a mobile marketing strategy to join.

But there is reason to seriously consider whether or not it is worth joining the app. For one, the majority of TikTok users are Gen Z, with a few millennials thrown in for good measure.

If your target audience is Gen Z, TikTok may be the next platform to try while Instagram and Snapchat also cater to this demographic, TikTok is centered entirely on them. 

A presence on TikTok could help you boost the reach within this demographic with ease.

On the other hand, if you aren’t exclusively catering to Gen Z – though most marketing trends suggest you should, TikTok may be superfluous to your social media strategy. 

There is no point in stretching yourself thin if the other platforms are doing the job of improving your reach and conversions.

Additionally, take a look at how important video content is to your marketing strategy. Ask yourself, are you creating videos for your channels regularly? If yes, then TikTok could be a good fit.

You also need to ascertain whether your niche will be well represented on TikTok since the app is very entertainment-focused and takes a whimsical approach to content.

Can you mimic that tone in your content and will it be appropriate for your audience? If you answered, “yes” to those questions, then you should be joining TikTok.

How to market a brand on TikTok

Now that you’ve decided that TikTok is the platform for you and will help you reach your target audience of under-30s, how do you market your brand on the app?

Because of how new the app is as compared to the popular platforms of today, it’s difficult to define a TikTok strategy. However, there are a few methods of engagement that you can use on the platform that we will outline below.

1. Behind the scenes

TikTok is a great channel to showcase life behind the scenes, take your followers through an intimate look at the workings of your organization.

A number of entertainment and news brands are making TikTok videos of their brainstorming sessions or inside writers’ rooms.

You can show how a product is conceived and goes through the stages of production until it’s finally ready to be launched for customers.

Note: You may want to consider how you’d want to do this without giving away crucial or business-sensitive information.

But remember, this is not the place to be overly sales-y as we have mentioned earlier, TikTok is about entertainment. If you can make this content fun and quirky, then it can earn you views and followers on TikTok. If you can’t accomplish this, don’t post content on the app.

2. User collaborations

A handful of TikTok users consistently create such entertaining and unique content, that they have already earned millions of followers. These creators are akin to the influencers on Instagram and Snapchat, and it is worth looking into setting up collaborations with these individuals.

Brands are still considered interlopers on TikTok, which is why creative individuals we have mentioned are the real draw.

Instead of trying to appropriate the platform with content that may not be right for the audience, partner up with creators who already know the lay of the land to make promo videos.

3. Duets

Another type of collaborative content that brands can create on TikTok is duets. These are videos where users can add a new video to an existing piece of content. The final product looks like a split-screen video. If executed well, the result can be incredibly entertaining.

Creating a video that can easily be spliced into another is a great way to boost engagement on the app and improve follower numbers.

4. Hashtag challenges

By far the most popular way to engage users on TikTok and to go viral is – to join or issue hashtag challenges. 

These challenges are social media contests usually based on a particular topic or subject, and users are encouraged to send in responses to the challenge as quickly as possible.

TikTok hashtag challenges draw in millions of users and views—if you have a creative enough challenge to share, you can see some serious engagement. 

5. Paid advertising

TikTok advertising is still a new concept but some major brands like Nike and Disney have already managed to create successful ad campaigns on the platform.

However, TikTok advertising may not be for everyone, ad campaigns need businesses to spend at least $ 500, and the cost of a campaign could number in the hundreds of thousands.

One can see why only mega brands have tried it, making it thus far for smaller businesses, native videos, and challenges that may be the way to go.

If your company does have the budget for a TikTok ad campaign, you will need to create a TikTok Ads account.

Once you have been verified, you can set the parameters for your ad, similar to how one would create a Facebook Ad campaign.

6. Reaction videos

Similar to duets, TikTok’s reaction videos are another way to create interactive and engaging content. These videos prompt reactions from people, which they can share via video.

Unlike most other platforms that only give users the option of leaving comments or likes as reactions to posts, TikTok allows users to create a reaction video that can be embedded in the original content.

Creating content that will evoke reactions strong enough for users to leave a reaction video is a good way to boost your follower numbers.

7. Branded stickers

Snapchat has had branded stickers for a while, and TikTok recently released the ability to create your own stickers, alongside importing them from Giphy.

Branded stickers, like the brand emojis on Twitter, can improve your brand awareness on the app. They don’t need to be elaborate, just fun.

However, try to keep the stickers as relevant to the popular TikTok hashtags as possible to increase the possibility of them being used.

Summing up

TikTok is new and exciting but it may not be for everyone. With a large Gen Z following and their quirky video output, TikTok is as niche as a social platform can get.

Brands need to ask themselves whether this is the audience they need to reach and whether they can commit to creating the kind of content that is popular on the app. Because TikTok is gaining popularity every day and it’s targeting the crowd that knows what is on-trend before anyone else knows it. TikTok could be the channel that sends your marketing strategy through the stratosphere. But it may be too much hard work for your team right now so you might want to keep it on your mind for the near future.  

Look at the history of the app and its niche, as well as the content channels available to brands, and make a decision about whether it is right for you or not.

Ronita Mohan is a content marketer at the online infographic and design platform, Venngage.

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Report: Future of search in 2020 according to SEO specialists

February 8, 2020 No Comments

A survey of SEO specialists published at Best SEO Companies has revealed some interesting analysis on the state of the SEO industry and gives insights about the future of search in 2020 and beyond.

Nearly 500 digital marketing experts offered their responses to the survey, highlighting the tactics which they feel will be important within five years, as well as what factors they expect Google to look upon favorably as the search giant continues to update its algorithm.

Let’s take a look at some of their predictions.

1. Majority of SEOs think the practice is increasing in importance

A significant 75% of respondents believe SEO will be more important in the future.

Future of search in 2020 practice

This isn’t surprising in and of itself, but some more granular detail is quite revealing about how changeable the industry is.

37% plan to stay in SEO for just one-to-three years and a sizeable 23% describe their jobs as precarious in light of Google’s algorithm changes.

Additionally, a massive 80% are concerned that algorithm changes will negatively impact their career. While respondents are broadly optimistic about the need for SEO, they are not universally confident that their own jobs in the sector are entirely permanent.

2. SEOs need to stay current

When it comes to reflecting on their outlook for the future, there is a wide range of strategies SEOs are planning to implement in order to keep abreast of industry changes.

Stat showing SEOs being current for search in 2020

Free online courses and training were cited by 45% of respondents as the best method for SEOs to stay current while operating in this fast-paced and ever-changing industry.

42% plan to diversify their skills and 40.7% point to news/blogs as good ways to keep up-to-date.

38% say attending conferences and seminars will help them stay current and when asked if they will be attending any SEO conferences this year, 54% said they would be.

3. AI optimization is the key tactic for the future

Responses about the significance of specific SEO tactics within the next five years were a little more long-tail.

That said, 31% of respondents cite AI optimization as effective and worthwhile and 29% see this tactic as being important within the next five years.

AI optimization for search in 2020

Mobile remains a big potential growth area for SEOs. 20% see mobile optimization as gaining in importance over the next five years.

Voice search optimization and targeting featured snippets are also predicted to be increasingly important among SEOs in the future.

4. Most think quality content will be the biggest priority for Google

When SEOs are tasked with predicting areas that Google will increasingly take into consideration when ranking sites, content comes out on top.

Stat showing content as a priority for Google

46% of respondents said that the quality of content will be a priority for Google in the future. But, again, other factors were not far behind.

Social share, accessibility, and mobile-friendliness were all cited by more than 40% of those surveyed as being priority areas for the search giant.

5. SEO sentiment and ethics

The survey also highlights some interesting trends about general sentiment SEOs have towards working in the industry and questions of ethics.

69% of respondents reported job satisfaction, with “creative”, “engaging”, and “intelligent” being the top three descriptors cited for how they perceive the work they do.

Stat on SEO sentiment and ethics

The search industry can be frustrating, however. 44% cited short deadlines as a common frustration. Other process-orientated issues such as changing project scopes and, simply, frustrating clients were also cited as some of the more negative aspects working in SEO.

14% of SEOs also admitted to being frustrated by unethical competitors and, when asked directly, a significant 39% of respondents said that they themselves have used unethical – or black hat – SEO tactics.

Takeaways

While the digital marketing industry is broadly optimistic about the importance of SEO in the future, this research certainly highlights that the search community is more than wary of the need to be agile in an industry where key players such as Google can have as much impact on an individual’s job as emerging technologies and client/customer demands do too.

Factors like quality of content, mobile, and AI all appear to be top – or near top – of the list for SEOs when it comes to anticipating key areas of focus over the next few years. But there is actually great diversity in the ideas across the community as to which tactics will be the most important, and where Google will most likely place more weight when generating their rankings in the SERPs.

One key takeaway is that the SEO sector is as changeable as it ever was. It is still evolving. And still subject to disruption from new tech. But with 69% of those surveyed reporting that they are satisfied in their job, it is clearly a challenging and rewarding vertical to work in.

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Three crucial podcast tips from Fractl’s Marketing Director

February 4, 2020 No Comments

A few years ago, I hosted a podcast called ‘Ask Amanda About Marketing’. It ran for 30 episodes before going on a hiatus for over a year. Now, I’m relaunching it under a new name and with a more focused goal, and I’ve been reflecting on what I learned during the first go-around and the podcast tips I’ve acquired while getting ready to publish this next iteration.

Here are my biggest takeaways.

1. Have a narrow focus

This tip comes directly from Joe Pulizzi. I saw he and Robert Rose were relaunching their This Old Marketing podcast, so I reached out to see if he could share any wisdom.

I explained that ‘Ask Amanda About Marketing’ involved me (and sometimes guests) answering various questions people had about digital marketing.

The first thing he said? Narrow your focus.

There are hundreds of marketing podcasts out there, so in order to provide value that isn’t duplicative of what people can already access, you have to hone in your objective. Who exactly do you plan to help, and how exactly do you plan to help them?

He had a point. While I loved the first iteration of the show, it was topically scattered, and I knew we could benefit from honing in our purpose.

We landed on ‘Cashing in on content marketing’, a show all about proving content marketing ROI and getting buy-in. 

Armed with a narrow focus, it was time to book guests.

2. Don’t hide behind the mic

It’s convenient to be able to podcast from home and have conversations with incredibly smart people all over the world through Zoom or Skype or some other platform.

But don’t forget to attend in-person events. While you can cold-pitch people (and we certainly have), you can build much better connections when you meet people in the real world.

Of the first 11 people I have booked to be guests on the show, seven of them are people I met in the last year at marketing events.

Because when you meet people in person, you’re forming a much stronger connection than people you sometimes interact with online. There’s still value in online interactions, of course, but nothing surpasses good ol’ fashioned IRL (in real life) meeting.

If you don’t have a lot of event budget, many conferences have free or cheap community passes, like Inbound. Also, check for local events; some companies host events and meetups in their cities, and these community connections can be just as important. For example, Orbit Media hosts affordable monthly events in Chicago.

3. Do your research

Once you book guests, it’s time to figure out what you’ll talk about. 

My personal style is to keep it conversational, but you still need to set up a framework of questions so you make sure the chatting stays on-topic and that your guest feels guided through the conversation.

I generally have at least five questions that shape the direction of what I want to talk about. If the person has written blog posts, books, or conference presentations that are relevant, I read those and ask questions that refer to those materials.

Not sure if these materials exist? Ask them in advance. 

Give them an idea of what you want to talk about, but allow them to switch up the angle based on what they’re passionate about and have expertise in.

For example, when talking to Mark Schaefer before having him on the show, I told him we could talk about his newest book “Marketing Rebellion,” but he suggested focusing on “The Content Code” since it might be more in line with the podcast’s goals. 

When you touch base before the show, you’re able to establish directions that are better for your audience. And you can prepare accordingly. I brushed up on both books and asked questions about referencing material from them.

As a result, Mark said,

“Thank you so much for reading my books and being so well-prepared with your questions – it was a pleasure.”

Don’t underestimate how much prepping for the interview can set you up for success. You want your questions to be different from everyone else’s, otherwise, you’ll end up with a show that doesn’t stand out.

Conclusion

If you follow this advice – focus and differentiate your podcast’s mission, meet marketing professions IRL, and go above and beyond when preparing for interviews – you’ll be setting a solid foundation for your podcasting endeavor. 

But most importantly – Keep your audience in mind. You’re not creating this for yourself, or your company, or your guests. You’re creating it to help, inspire, or inform your listeners. Don’t lose sight of that, and you’ll continue making the ideal decisions for your show.

Amanda Milligan is the Marketing Director at Fractl, a prominent growth marketing agency that’s worked with Fortune 500 companies and boutique businesses.

The post Three crucial podcast tips from Fractl’s Marketing Director appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Word of advice on exactly what to expect from SEO in 2020

January 28, 2020 No Comments

Between 2010-2015 the SEO industry went from being seen as a shady backroom box of tricks to a leading and essential marketing channel, driven by data, trends and user behavior statistics.

With ongoing changes Google kept SEO agencies, freelancers and internal teams on their toes by releasing update after update to hone and shape not only what they want search results to look like, but how they want us to act and work within them. This included the once-famed Penguin Update, aimed at webspam and link building practices, supposedly impacted around 0.1% of searches when originally launched, but went on to shape the importance of positive link building, utilization of tools and data and birthed job roles around SEO content strategy while strengthening the importance of content marketing.

Long term with the development of RankBrain and (perceived) closer to real-time algorithm changes, more core updates on a regular basis and the journey through ‘Content is King’ to UX – SEO has become theorized in some sense, with many of us having our own opinions and approaches to the same end result.

As we’ve reached 2020 we have in some parts see new developments from Google slow down, with the company’s focus seemingly on updating reporting suites and core updates that offer little more than ‘an improvement to search results’. We’re no longer beholden to the next big Penguin or Panda updates, but more to the inner workings of Google and sporadic updates to its Search Quality Guidelines – with this in mind, what exactly can we expect from SEO in 2020? Adhering to Google guidelines becomes harder, or easier?

We all know how SEO works and many of us will have specialisms or approaches to SEO we feel get results quicker, but with vague updates and unannounced tweaks to algorithms, is it becoming harder to adhere to Google’s guidelines?

Certainly, the unpredictability is a factor at times – with the recent updates to search guidelines on YMYL and E-A-T being announced, there’s a perception the goalposts are moving ever so slightly, every so often.

This means that if you’re scoring just inside the post on Monday, you might be wide of the mark by a fraction on Tuesday. For websites where the SEO team is at the mercy of web development or other factors outside of their control, this can prove a challenge.

Of course, any SEO agency or specialist worth their weight in gold will be able to outline and approach any issues with a solution in hand.

The flipside to this is, however, is that we all have a clear idea of what a good website looks like and what is going to rank page 1 for chosen keywords. With guideline updates, an industry that shares knowledge like no other and a focus on developing strategies that are future proof, there is no reason for every update to send SEO campaigns spiraling.

In 2020, we predict that the next wave of guidelines will be released, and our prediction is these again will be focusing on trust and authority – not a million miles away from where we’ve been for the last few years.

Actioning and adhering to search quality guidelines

Google Search Quality Guidelines regularly update – these guidelines reflect how Google wants you to work within a website and the process the search engine’s algorithm will take to evaluate the relevance of the website for keyword usage.

These guidelines take into account:

  • E-A-T – The Expert, Authority, Trust of the website in relation to the target subject
  • Page Quality – How the page is laid out, how it works and whether it has the user’s best interests at heart
  • Needs Met – Factors around whether the page ANSWERS the needs of the query

The page quality is assessed to identify where the text is placed, the wording used, content used and the quality of the content.

Google’s most recent updates put E-A-T elements at the heart of the Page Quality section of its guidelines, based on industry and type of product.

The blanket approach, and the actions needed to adhere to (or in fact exceed) Google guidelines are that the page should be “more specific than the query, but would still be helpful for many or most users because” the company is reputable in the area.

Top nine factors content managers should audit for on-page SEO

Element to Optimise Definition
Landing Page URL URL of the landing page (after the website name)
Meta Title This is the blue link that shows in Google
Meta Description The text that shows under the blue link in search results – to draw a user to click
Heading 1 Tag A title that shows at the top of a page
Heading 2 / 3 Tags Additional titles which are placed within the content of a page
Content The physical content on the page needs to meet particular criteria
Keyword Density The percentage of keywords to total text ratio on a page
Images The size, name, and title of an image on the page
Internal Links Links which point to other pages on the website

Dependence on technical SEO reduced but is still important

Technical SEO has been on the rise for a number of years but the buzz behind it has somewhat plateaued in the last 12 months or so – although it is still essential to audit from a technical perspective regularly. Traditionally, technical SEO would include web structure, speed, hosting and so on – with JSON, mark up and structured tagging following on from this.

Across client bases we’ve seen the need for technical SEO regularly drop by just under 50%, with wider-ranging audits, working with web development on new site builds and regular crawls on health being the norm.  Working in this way allows for time to be split effectively across multiple areas of SEO and better use of budget. Education on the technical aspects client-side also means SEO agencies and professionals can focus time elsewhere.

Within semi-regular technical SEO audits, there are some core elements to check, all of which will help identify issues and improve the technical performance of a website, without impacting the day-to-day of search marketing.

Top eight factors you should audit for technical SEO

Element to Optimise Definition
Web structure and URL Structure Essentially the folders in use website is built
HTTPS/SSL Security for customers or users visiting the site
HTML Build Code-behind core elements of a website
CSS / Javascript Code behind the theme and functionality of a site
Schema / JSON Code that allows websites to send additional information to search engines
Server Speed The speed in which servers respond to requests from users
Sitemaps/Robots Used by Google to crawl websites
Accessibility Are all pages able to be found

2020 and beyond

As always, Google is likely to throw a couple of curveballs – However, the SEO industry is coming of age again and it’s no longer an area of expertise that “anybody” can have a go at. There’s a need to understand the market of your clients, their customers, their collateral and the demands of Google to achieve success. Following clear structure, regular audits and systematic approaches will allow all of the above to be achieved.

Keith Hodges, Head of Search at POLARIS, is an SEO expert with over eight years’ experience in the industry. 

The post Word of advice on exactly what to expect from SEO in 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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How to find any journalist’s email for content marketing outreach

January 25, 2020 No Comments

Digital PR is contingent on one thing—contacting the right people. When you’ve determined who the right journalists, editors, and influencers in your niche are, all you need is a way to reach them. Some journalists’ contact information is harder to reach than others. In this article, I’m going to share some of my best hacks for one of the most time-consuming aspects of digital outreach: finding email addresses.

We’ve all been there—after spending a lot of time and effort determining the perfect person to contact—you go to their homepage or author archive and realize their email isn’t listed. 

What do you do? While you could give up and use a generic contact form—or worse, just look for another person to contact, there are some tricks you need to try before throwing in the towel. 

Whether you’re reaching out to a blogger, a journalist at a top-tier publisher, or even a decision-maker at your dream client, here are five of my teams’ best hacks for making sure you’re able to reach the best person for your outreach. 

Hack 1: Use Twitter Advanced Search

Did you know that journalists are the most verified profession on Twitter? 

At Fractl, our outreach team contacts upwards of 100 journalists a day. While some journalists are harder-to-reach than others, many will include their email address on their Twitter bio. 

If their email isn’t hiding in their Twitter bio, there is still another way you can use Twitter to determine their email. 

Rather than outright tweeting at the person and asking for their email, you can see if they’ve already been asked. 

You can use Twitter’s advanced search to find the last time your contact responded to this request.

Search for the terms (at) (dot) in “All these words” under the ‘Words” section

Enter their Twitter handle in “From these accounts” under the “People” section. 

email hack

If, at any time, the journalist shared their email with someone in a Tweet, you will be able to find it this way. 

Hack 2: Determine their company’s email format

Have your reached out to another person at this company or publisher before? If you have, do you notice any patterns about the way the email is formatted? 

Often, company email addresses follow one or two specific formats. For small companies, it’s usually “firstname@organization.com”

For larger, it could like “f.lastname@organization.com” or 

“first.lastname@organization.com” 

Try these common formats and then head over to https://verify-email.org/  to test them out. You don’t have to send an actual email to test it! 

This email verification tool actually connects to the mail server and checks whether the mailbox exists or not.

This free tool will allow you to test 100 emails a month without making you pay. 

For example, when I test domenica.dottavio@frac.tl, the mailbox isn’t verified (because that’s not my email). However, when I just use my first name, the email is mailbox is confirmed. 

Hack 3: Hunter.io

Hunter.io is one of my team’s favorite tools for automating the above process. Like verify-email.org, this tool allows you to find 100 email addresses a month without paying.

It has a handy extension that makes the research even more seamless. 

Once you download the extension, the little orange dog icon will appear in the upper corner of your browser.  

When you’re on the company or publisher page of the person you’re trying to reach, you can hit this extension and type in the name of the person you’re hoping to contact. 

The extension will automatically create the most likely email format based on other emails that are listed with the organization. 

For example, if I was looking for this writer, Hunter.io easily and quickly finds the most common email format for her. 

email hack

Sometimes, the email is verified for you, and other times it’s not. If it’s not, head over to verify-email.org to test it out. 

Hack 4: LinkedIn Sales Navigator

Once upon a time, the hottest Gmail plugin out there was Rapportive. It allowed you to test emails right in your inbox and if they existed, you would see their social profiles. 

Rapportive was acquired by LinkedIn and now exists as “LinkedIn Sales Navigator”. Here’s how you can use it to find emails. 

Once you’ve downloaded the extension for Gmail open up a new draft. 

Type in the email you want to test. If the email isn’t associated with a LinkedIn account, the sidebar will read “Sorry, we couldn’t find a matching LinkedIn profile for this email address.”

If it is an email associated with a LinkedIn Account,  the sidebar will automatically appear with the persons contact information, LinkedIn and other social profiles, and profile picture. 

This tool is especially useful if you have already verified an email address, and want to make sure you’re contacting the correct person. For example, if two people share the same first name and work at the same organization, you may wish to contact one, but in fact have the wrong email. 

Hack 5: Clearbit

Just like the LinkedIn Sales Navigator extension, the Clearbit extension works directly within Gmail.

First you have to download the extension, refresh your Gmail, and follow the instructions to connect Clearbit to your account. After that, you can begin using Clearbit to find email addresses. 

Clearbit is very user friendly. Just click the icon in the upper right hand corner. Once there, search any company name. For example, type in my company, Fractl. What should come up is a list of employees within our organization and their job titles. 

You can see how this tool would be particularly useful for sales and marketing teams seeking to reach out to potential new customers. It allows you to see in one window who the decision makers at the company are.  

If you have the amazing content that’s newsworthy, surprising, and certain to earn lots of positive attention online, you only have one problem— how to conduct digital pr outreach successfully. 

While it can be frustrating trying to find a contact’s email address, I hope these tricks will alleviate some of the stress and legwork that it takes when conducting digital outreach.

Domenica is a Brand Relationship Manager at Fractl. She can be found on Twitter @heydomenica.

The post How to find any journalist’s email for content marketing outreach appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Anchor text variations: Your key to link profile diversity

January 14, 2020 No Comments

Anchor text variation is one of the best ways to tell Google what a specific web page is about. It is used to help readers find more information about a topic and also factors into ranking your web pages. While it is a great tool, it can be the downfall of your SEO efforts if not used correctly. 

Many people have tried (and are still trying) to manipulate search results. One way to do this is to link from specific anchor text in an attempt to rank for the specific word or phrase. Unfortunately for these folks but fortunately for those of us doing it right, we are no longer in the olden days of SEO and these types of black-hat techniques no longer work. In fact, they are likely to get you penalized. 

One of the best ways to stay out of a penalty is by practicing link diversity. There are many ways to do this – you could try linking from various domain extensions, different domain authorities, and using a mixture of “follow” and “nofollow” links. For the sake of this article, however, I want to focus specifically on varying anchor text. 

Why vary your anchor text?

Because. Google…

That’s the simple answer, but let’s go a little more in-depth. Google looks at your link profile when deciding how to rank your web pages. Part of your link profile involves the anchor text used to link to your website. 

Google's list of ranking factors

Source: SparkToro

So, you should have specific anchor text that talks about your web pages, right? Well, sort of.

Using specific anchor text is fine, but when you start to use the same anchor text, Google will get suspicious. It will make your backlink profile look unnatural and likely lead to lower search rankings, if not a Google penalty. 

When linking to your website, you need to vary the anchor text. Natural links will come from various anchor texts as webmasters link differently. There is no way all websites got together and decided to link to your website from the exact same anchor text. Google knows this, which is why you will be going down the road of a Google penalty if you don’t incorporate diversity. 

Using long-tail in your anchor text variations

So, how do you choose anchor text variations? There are many ways to do this, but I will show you some that will keep the meaning of your anchor text to best help with SEO. The first is mixing in long-tail keywords with your exact match anchor text. 

Example

Let’s use the keyword phrase “anchor text” as our example. Instead of linking from that exact phrase, use the following long-tail variations:

  • “using variations of anchor text in your backlink profile”
  • “how to vary your anchor text for better link diversity”
  • “how anchor text variations matter in your link profile”

I just made those up, but you can see how we use the exact match keyword within a long-tail anchor text. Google will still see the main anchor text and take that into account, but you also have a variation so as to show a natural link profile (and not artificial link building). 

Using LSI Keywords

The above examples I just made up on the fly, but you can get more technical if you want to vary your anchor text and ensure you keep the meaning of the term you are trying to rank for. What do I mean by that?

Sometimes people simply choose anchor text variations that they think are similar. While they may be similar in wording, they may not be similar in meaning. And yes, it makes a difference. The term “anchor text variation” and “exact match anchor text” contain the same keyword, but they will return very different results when you search Google. 

Example of using LSI for anchor text variations

Source: Google Search

That is where LSI keywords come into play. LSI stands for latent semantic indexing and is a term used to describe keywords that Google feels are similar to each other. And hey, if Google says they are similar, then they are (since Google is the one who determines where they rank). 

You can find LSI keywords in a number of ways. Use an online LSI keyword generator or go to your Google AdWords account and search for specific keyword variations in your ad campaign. You can also simply Google your main term and then look at the bottom of the page for similar searches suggested by Google. 

Using the last suggestion mentioned above, I found the following LSI keywords for “anchor text variation”:

  • “how to create anchor text”
  • “anchor text best practices”
  • “anchor text generator”

This means you can use all three of these to link to the same webpage and Google will see them as the same or similar, without penalizing you for using the “exact” same anchor text. Make sense?

Final word on anchor text variation

There are a number of techniques and strategies available to you when it comes to SEO, but building a diverse link profile is one of the highest impacts. Even within the context of diversifying your anchor text, there are multiple strategies, as you can see. For example, you can add advice such as isolating your current anchor text structure to ensure it is diverse. Without going too far and adding a layer of confusion, however, I think you get the main point which is you must vary your anchor text. By doing so you are creating a diverse link profile that will show Google your links are coming naturally, and you aren’t involved in any link building schemes. 

What variations have you used for anchor text diversity?  

Anthony Gaenzle is the Founder of AnthonyGaenzle.com a marketing and business blog. He also serves as the Head of Marketing and Business Development at Granite Creative Group, a full-service marketing firm.

The post Anchor text variations: Your key to link profile diversity appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM)

January 11, 2020 No Comments

Before anybody does business with you, they’d have Googled your name. The links and information that appear on the first few pages of Google when your name is searched for are what potential partners perceive you are. That’s why online reputation management is key.

According to Eric Schmidt, “Identity will be the most valuable commodity for citizens of the future and it will exist primarily online.”

Curating a positive online reputation is no longer optional. Successful online reputation management (ORM) and search engine optimization (SEO) companies help their clients achieve results through proactively coordinating content, websites, and search engine results pages (SERPs).

In this article, I will share how the right SEO-driven content strategy will boost your digital reputation.

Why online reputation is important to your business’ existence

1. Consumers trust user-generated content more

Research by TurnTo revealed that 99% of consumers would consider user-generated content before making a purchase decision. At Blue Ocean Global Tech, we consistently receive emails from executives, entrepreneurs, and lawyers who have realized too late how one comment or negative link adversely impacts their revenue and bottom line.

2. Your online reputation affects your business offline too

Yes, this is important. Prospective patrons research a restaurant before walking into the physical venue to experience the real thing. According to BrightLocal consumer survey research, 82% of consumers read online reviews for a local business before booking an appointment.

3. Talents will only work with a business that has a great reputation

Businesses may view their online reputation from a customer-acquisition standpoint. However, digital presence affects almost everything, including the perception of potential employees.

How to augment your online reputation by building on SEO efforts

1. Optimize content for a successful ORM campaign

People are influenced by what they read about you. This is where it is necessary to ensure positive content ranks higher for your names or brand keywords.

What is the difference between SEO and ORM, then? Since highlighting your positive content alone does not guarantee that your potential customers or partners will see the most representative information, you need effective SEO to rank and feature the strengths of your brand. Consistently publishing content without implementing effective SEO tactics is a common practice, which we refer to as “spray and pray”.

Keep in mind that the most successful reputation management campaigns rank specific articles, videos, blogs, and websites that highlight your expertise.

An effective SEO strategy will accomplish the following areas:

  1. Optimize pages of your website to appear atop of SERPs and rank for target keyword phrases.
  2. Feature your genuine social profiles representing your company or brand name.
  3. Optimize company-hosted and third-party review website pages to populate when an interested person Googles “your brand name + reviews.”
  4. Influence search engines to highlight positive content and simultaneously push negative or irrelevant content down beyond the third or fourth page.

2. How to optimize content for better discovery on the internet

2a. Types of content to optimize for optimal results

What type of content is best optimized for optimal results? Authentic and concise writing attracts back-links from credible websites. Naturally, optimizing these digital assets insulates you from defamatory content and suppresses negative or erroneous links. Below are several examples of concentrated SEO content.

  1. A guide or tutorial article: Guides are content that takes the reader through the process of understanding a subject. Guides may be harder to create but will rank higher for keyphrases over time. They earn backlinks easily.
  2. Video review of your product/company/industry: According to a study by Forrester Research, video is 50 times more likely to achieve organic page rank in Google than plain text. With video content, you can easily rank positive content for targeted phrases. Additionally, the best offense is a strong defense. Authentic video digital assets inoculate your brand against future malicious or defamatory posts, whether anonymous or not.
    Using client testimonial videos for SEO and online reputation management
  3. Whitepapers: Releasing an original-content white paper is a widely accepted strategy for positively impacting search results. Similar to an actionable guide, the white paper can offer in-depth forecasts and developed arguments, which will further establish you as a reputable authority.
  4. Website bearing your name with a press page: If you do not already have a website bearing your name, now is the time you should create one. Nourish this cornerstone digital asset with SEO-rich content about yourself and your brand. Begin with the end in mind so that you eventually rank on multiple keywords organically. Even if someone wants to do business with Blue Ocean Global Technology, whether through a referral, email outreach, or direct phone call from me, they often Google “Sameer Somal” because I am the CEO. Investing the time to create SameerSomal.com pays ongoing dividends in credibility and trust. Prospects and new friends often thank me for that website because they were able to read so much about me in one place.
  5. An author page or brand page on an authority publication: Publications and sites such as Wikipedia, Forbes, Entrepreneur, and Inc.com often rank on page one for your name in search results. Individuals can have author bylines in Inc.com while companies can be listed on the Inc. 5000 list. Since these high-domain-authority websites allow you to have a biography of yourself on your author page, they are compelling options for concentrated SEO content.

SEO benefit of having an author bio page on authoritative sites for online reputation management

2b. Scores to target for achieving higher content discovery

Connect your goals with the creation of authoritative SEO content to best support your online reputation management campaign. While originating SEO-rich content will rank favorably with Google, consider these benchmarks to drive measurable results:

  1. Aim for depth: You want your content to be as in-depth as possible, giving your readers all the necessary summary information they would want on a single page. Supplement the main points with detailed content that includes technical details and action steps for implementation. Google’s algorithm will understand the depth and subsequently rank the comprehensive material higher for target keywords.
  2. Link to credible sources: With in-depth content, you will notice that you’re making claims that would need to be backed by sources. More so, when you’re attempting to win readers over to your side, ensure your facts and data are referenced from credible sources.
  3. Break your content into digestible formats: You do not want your content to be skimmed over and abandoned because it is difficult to read. Aside from the fact that in-depth SEO content would help you dominate search results, it’s an opportunity to have all of your positive sides ingrained in the minds of your readers, helping you to earn their trust once more.

3. Where brands should focus on when optimizing content for reputation enhancement

To ensure your content performs well, make sure you’re publishing them on high-authority websites. This goes for both visual and text-based content.

For the content hosted on your personal or company website, ensure that all of your website properties are optimized and maintained and update plug-ins monthly. SEO and reputation campaigns will yield relatively marginal results if users are driven back to a website that is not functional or responsive. Furthermore, foundational opportunities to rank on Google and reach people who want your help are missed when you don’t perform regular technical maintenance on your website.

After optimizing your website to perform highly in search results, you should also level up your reputation campaign and promote best-performing content. The next step is to identify positive pillar content sources.

3a. Identifying positive content – Best practices

You want to make sure you’re not only creating rich SEO-driven content but are actually putting your optimal effort into promoting the type of content that highlights your strengths. To identify positive content that may benefit your brand image, consider these milestones you may overlook:

  1. Received congratulatory wishes when they were released – Such as completing a successful acquisition, receiving an award, reaching a new industry milestone, getting featured in an important publication, and so on.
  2. Celebrated the fulfillment of a personal goal – Such as hitting a weight-loss goal, completing a book you’ve been working on, hiring that star employee you’ve always dreamed of working with, and others.
  3. Documented a partnership goal – Has your brand always dreamed of working with another brand, and have you always talked openly about this? Such content could augment your brand’s reputational image by investing SEO efforts into it.
  4. Documented the process it took to achieve a huge goal – Completing your major office headquarters or complex would fall into this category, as would the content that documents the process it took to develop your flagship product from scratch to finish.

4. How to use image search ranking to augment online reputation efforts

Images are often ignored in ORM efforts by marketers because it’s assumed that it is difficult to rank images. Images still provide many opportunities to claim your branded keywords, create authentic back-links, and build a strong reputation within search engines.

Consider this: Why is it that most of the time, when you run a query of a famous person’s name in Google, images of them usually rank at the top of the results? And images often dominate the Knowledge Graph area for popular names such as celebrities, brands, or popular destinations.

Below are some techniques for using images to dominate search results for your online reputation repair campaign.

 4a. Optimize alt tags and keywords

Alt tags in images are strings of connected texts that help search engine crawlers to understand what an image is about. When adding images to your content, always include your branded keywords in the alt text area of the images. For the most effective results, keep the texts connected to each other by adding the underscore sign “_” after every string of text. So, say I was to add an image of myself in content, I’d add the following text to the alt text area: “Sameer_Somal_CEO_of_Blue_Ocean_Global_Tech”, instead of just including random text or just barely adding my name to it.

4b. Name the image after the branded keywords

If you’re uploading an image to your website as a part of your SEO content, you’ll be missing out on keyword ranking opportunity if you’re saving such images with random texts, or, in some scenarios, with numbers. Instead, use the branded keywords you want to rank for as the name of the images. This means you’d have to locate the image file destination on your local storage—that is, your computer or hard drive – and change the name of the image to the branded keyword you want it to rank for. Again, you can use the alt tags approach to optimize it by linking the texts together.

Naming images after branded keywords to use SEO for online reputation management

Conclusion

The ORM process helps aligns your sales, marketing, and technology efforts. SEO content is a key pillar for achieving the results you seek on the internet. By learning the top-performing SEO strategies to rank atop search results for your branded keywords, you’ll be able to maintain a clean image on the internet and create opportunities.

Sameer Somal is the Co-Founder and CEO of Blue Ocean Global Technology, a global leader in online reputation management. He is a recognized international keynote speaker and an internet defamation subject matter expert witness. Sameer can be reached on LinkedIn.

The post The role of SEO in online reputation management (ORM) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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What impact will voice search have on SEO in 2020?

January 4, 2020 No Comments

With every year seeing new technological developments that shift the boundaries of business, working to take advantage of the new opportunities can be a challenge in digital marketing. One of these transformations in the market has been caused by the widespread adoption of voice search technology and its effects on internet usage.

As a consequence, this has had an impact on search engine optimization, where following SEO best practices is essential for most businesses in the current era. Internet voice search could be set to disrupt SEO conventions, so businesses would be well-advised to stay informed of the changes and plan accordingly.  

The rise of voice technology

The introduction of IBM’s Watson in 2010 paved the way for voice technology devices. Watson is a powerful voice recognition question-answer computer system that stunned the world as a super-intelligent, thinking, and speaking robot that was able to beat Trivia grandmasters on the TV quiz show, ‘Jeopardy’. In the following year, Google launched its Voice Search and Apple released Siri for the iPhone 4S, the first digital personal assistant. 

This was followed in 2014 by Cortana from Microsoft and Amazon Echo, a voice speaker powered by the personal assistant, Alexa. Google Assistant was launched in 2016, as well as the smart speaker Google Home. Initial figures showed Amazon Alexa to be leading the market, though Google Home is forecast to take the lead by 2020. Other prominent digital assistants on the global stage include Alice from Yandex, and AliGenie from Alibaba.  

Voice recognition technology has significantly improved since its inception. Google claims 95 percent accuracy, while the Chinese iFlytek speech recognition system has an accuracy of 98%. 

Voice technology has also spread to devices that fall under the umbrella term, the Internet of Things (IoT), such as a smart TV, a smart thermostat or a home kit. While it may be possible, internet voice search doesn’t have direct applications for most of these devices yet, and by far the greatest share of searches are currently made on either a smartphone or a smart speaker.

Twenty percent of queries on Google’s mobile app and Android devices are made with voice, while 31% of smartphone users use voice at least once a week, according to Statistica. 

Media analytics firm Comscore predicts that half of all online searches will be made through voice by 2020, while Gartner predicts that in the same year, 30% of online searches will be made on devices without a screen. This suggests an enormous rise in voice search, as well as the increased adoption of smart speakers. Earlier this year, Juniper Research predicted that 3.25 billion voice assistants were in use – a figure they forecast to reach eight billion by 2023. 

The effects of voice on SEO

Voice is, therefore, transforming our approaches to technology and the internet, but what impact is it having on search engine optimization?

Natural language

With improved and reliable voice recognition systems, voice technology is well adapted to follow everyday language use, so users can give commands as if they were speaking to a human. For any areas of potential confusion, emerging technologies are seeking to improve the user experience. The 2018 Internet Trends Report by venture capitalist and internet trends specialist, Mary Meeker, found that 70% of English language voice searches were made in natural or conversational language. 

Keyword length

Spoken language usually isn’t as concise as the written word, so queries will be longer than the three or four keyword searches more common to graphical user interfaces (GUI). Voice searches currently average 29 words in length, according to Backlinko. SEO strategists will need to adjust by using more long-tail keywords, with the added benefit that the longer the keyword phrases are, the higher the probability of conversion. 

Graph showing voice search query phrase length

Source: Neilpatel.com

Question words

Voice searches will more frequently include the question words who, which, when, where, and how, that are usually omitted in written searches. Marketers need to ensure content can deliver accurate and relevant answers to voice search queries, and distinguish between simple questions and those that require more comprehensive answers. Queries that can be answered with very short responses typically won’t generate traffic to a website because Google will often provide the required information via featured search snippets. 

According to SeoClarity, 20% of voice searches are triggered by just 25 keywords. These include question words and other commonly used verbs, such as make, do and can, as well as key nouns and adjectives, including a recipe, new, easy, types and home. These can be worked into SEO strategies, and question-form queries can show user intent to a higher degree. Marketers are therefore able to optimize content according to questions of a higher value. 

Search query trends by Bright Local

Source: Brightlocal.com

Semantic search

As opposed to lexical searches that look for literal matches of keywords, semantic searches attempt to find the user’s intended meaning within the context of the terms used. This understanding can be aided by user search history, global search history, the location of the user and keyword spelling variations. 

Google’s RankBrain is an artificial intelligence system designed to recognize words and phrases in order to improve internet search outcomes. This independent thinking quality of RankBrain helps it take query handling to a more sophisticated level. Hummingbird is another Google technology that helps natural language queries. It helps search result pages be more relevant based on context and intent, causing relevant pages to rank higher. 

Local search

Voice technology has brought an increased emphasis on the use of local search. Consumers are three times more likely to search locally when searching by voice. Research carried out over the last year shows that 58% of consumers find local businesses using voice search, and 46 percent use voice technology to find information on local businesses daily. Marketing strategies should account for this change and optimize for “near me” queries. 

SERPs

Around 75% of voice search results will rank in the top three positions in search engine results pages (SERPs). Most voice searches are answered by Rich Answer Boxes shown at the top of results pages. Featured snippets are included in 30 percent of Google queries. These are extracts from any website on the first page of SERPs, and brands are given credit in voice search as well as usual GUI searches. Brands only need to be on the first page to be used in featured snippets, rather than position zero.

Ecommerce

Ecommerce is especially impacted by voice, as consumers are much more likely to use voice to make purchases. Sixty-two percent of voice speaker owners have made purchases through their virtual assistant, and 40 percent of millennials use voice assistants before making online purchases. Digital assistants – and the best ways to optimize for them – should, therefore, be a priority for online retailers. 

Adapting to voice search

With voice technology impacting SEO in various ways, here are a few recommended steps brands can take to adapt accordingly.

  1. Google Voice prioritizes quick-loading websites, so brands should ensure images are optimized, files are compressed, response time is reduced, and the site is fully responsive. 
  2. Content should be optimized with long-tail keywords that reflect popular queries used in voice search. Focus on natural language. 
  3. Featured snippets are summary answers from web pages that may be used in position zero. To optimize content for this, include identifiable extracts to be featured and make content easier for Google to read by using H-tags and bullet points. 
  4. Structured data and schema markup provide more information about a brand and drive traffic. They help pages appear in rich snippets, which will increase the chances of being the first result delivered in voice searches. 
  5. Local information for your brand should be provided to meet the increased search volume for local businesses with voice – using Google My Business will help.  
  6. Increasing domain authority will help with search rankings – this can be improved by including high-quality links.

The impact of voice technology on SEO is certain. Given the huge rise in the adoption and use of voice, the impact on businesses will be considerable. Those brands that can anticipate and stay ahead of the changes before they happen will surely reap the benefits in years to come.

Roy Castleman is founder and managing director of EC-MSP Ltd., a London-based IT support organization focusing on small and medium-sized businesses.

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