With new social networking platforms appearing from behind every corner, it can be hard to know exactly where to commit your time and resources. And as we move into the latter-half of 2013, it’s important to look ahead to where social networking is going, and how we can get on board.Read More
With all the discussion surrounding what’s not working quite as well in SEO – from SSL encryption, to panda, penguin and humming bird updates. I wanted to focus our attention to what’s really working for us and hence the SEOs Silver Linings Playbook!
I’d like to discuss a couple of advanced SEO tactics and analysis – that work.
Advanced SEO interlinking
Acquiring high authority links to your site and building up domain strength is great but how can you effectively leverage the strength of your internal pages to further boost pages that don’t rank as well. That’s where advanced SEO interlinking comes in to play.
Identify internal linking prospects
Export all the pages from the “Top Pages” tab – these are pages that have the highest page authority.
This method requires a lot more steps but it also provides a lot more data:
Extract all the backlinks for your root domain in to an excel file.
Use pivot tables to analyze top linked pages.
To go one step further, you could merge both Ahrefs and SEOMoz data to give one giant list of top pages on your site (don’t forget to remove the duplicates though!)
Analyze keywords with the content
So now we have pages that we’d want to link from. Next we want to identify keywords and landing pages that we’d want to link to from these top pages. Create a list of your high priority keywords that you’d want to see increase in ranks. SearchMetrics is a great tool to help you identify keywords that are currently not ranking in the top 10.
Lets assume we want to help drive up the link equity for some of these pages and keywords. We run these keywords as filters using Screaming Frog (another favorite!) to help identify if these keywords mentioned anywhere in our Top pages list.
Screaming Frog then magically spits out pages that have these keywords mentioned in them. We can then use these pages for interlining to our preferred keyword/landing pages. Quick Note: Make sure you don’t overdo the interlinking, use some longer tail variations of the targeted keywords.
Creating semantic sitemaps is extremely useful when it comes to getting a better understanding of your site and how search engines crawl/perceive it.
Instead of creating one giant sitemap with all the URLs, its preferable to break out the URLs in to categories that are similar to your website. This helps you analyze which section of the site is being better indexed as compared to other sections of the website.
If we take Allrecipies as an example – we’d want to create a sitemap that mirrors the sites taxonomy.
If the site were structured well, with clear folders that segment each of the categories – creating these XML sitemaps would be a lot easier. However, if its not then its more of a manual process. At the end, you’d want to be able to view each of the segments that have been created using Google Webmaster or Bing Webmaster tools to give you a definitive picture of how these sections are being crawled
Here’s an example of what a semantic sitemap would look like –
In the example above, we see that certain sitemaps (home-décor.xml) have a low indexation rate. This data helps us analyze further which categories and sections of our site might not be driving traffic due to poor indexation by Google.
Social Content Marketing
No SEO playbook is complete without a strategy around content marketing!
Social signals do help in increasing ranks. At AdLift we’ve done a number of tests on the impact of social links and SEO that hat proved that these help in driving up page authority and in turn rankings. This particular case study explains how social links increased ranks for keywords faster that keywords without the social links.
However, just as you need a solid content marketing strategy you also need a strong social marketing network to help drive that effort. Synergizing efforts between your content marketing and social media team is a great first start !
I hope this post was useful – If you have any questions, please let me know in the comments!
About the Author
An alum from Columbia University, Prashant Puri has over 10 years of digital marketing experience in building sites into multi-million dollar enterprises. Prashant Puri currently runs AdLift – a niche Bay Area SEO Company focused on delivering digital marketing ROI.
Enhanced campaigns, image extensions, third party reviews… the list goes on. Fantastic features that have improved performance for search marketers.
But we always want more, don’t we?
What do we hope that 2014 will bring from Google to make us really happy?
What We Want
The lists below aren’t sorted by importance or even feasibility. This is speculative stuff.
- More and better demographic data. Demographic data in search is a tricky business, but if anybody can solve this it’s Google. Their data quality has come a long way in the last couple of years but it still has the scope to get better.
- Third party data in search. If I have a cookied list of people who have made a phone call to my business, I want to be able to adjust my bids and targeting for those users. In fact, I’d like to be able to buy third party data and apply that to my search targeting. There’s a lot of it out there I can use on my display campaigns, and think how great the performance could be on search!
- Better RLSA remarketing lists (minimum volume, longer duration, YouTube audiences, etc.). I can see why this product launched with restrictions on these lists, but boy do I wish we had more flexibility. I’d love to have a list containing people who bought insurance from me 11-12 months ago. As soon as they search for insurance terms again I want to make sure I’m appearing. But with a 180 day duration limit I can’t do that at the moment. Any time Google want to open this up, I’ll be ecstatic. Let me use my Google Analytics lists too!
- Richer ad formats. Surprise me. I kind of don’t mind what’s included. Google have been pretty inventive about these in the past, and sitelink descriptions, image extensions etc have made massive impacts to my regular search ads. Combine what’s been done with PLAs and we’re in a good place now. All this improvement has just whetted my apetite. Give me more!
- Relaxed character restrictions. I know these limits have been fixed since time immemorial, but think how good an ad you could write with a few more characters in your headline, now that you’ve got years of experience writing such concise, neat ads!
- Video content. Google have been experimenting with videos in ads for a while, but it’s been quite limited. I have quite a nice video, so let me put it in my ad so people can watch it if they want to.
- Campaign and ad group IDs, and ad parameters in AdWords Editor. This one really would make a difference. We use the API for a lot, but for ad hoc tools a spreadsheet is still the easiest way for a campaign manager to make bulk changes. Unfortunately I can’t make bulk changes to things like ad group names, because then there is no way to upload that back into AdWords Editor with the tool totally aware which group has changed to which new name. Each campaign and ad group has an ID, let us export it and make changes around it, the way we can in the API.
The other API only tool that we like is the ability to change ad parameters. These sit at keyword level, and we want to be able to change these on the fly please, without having to build new API tools each time we need to do something different and inventive with them.
- Better filters in the Dimensions tab. If I’m looking at the Dimensions tab, I can’t filter by campaign or ad group. What? That seems like a ridiculous oversight. Sure I can look at just one of these at a time by using the left nav bar, but are my choices really to look at a single campaign or the entire account? Why can’t I, for instance, include every campaign that doesn’t contain the word “Brand” in the campaign name, thereby looking at all my non-brand activity together?
- Bulk add/remove in Client Center level reporting. This one is personal, folks. On a regular basis I need to extract data from across all our accounts. That’s 250+, of which some should be included and not others. My choices are to include all accounts, or to add them one at a time. Dammit! I want to be able to add all, but still have individual controls to add or remove.
What Might we Actually Get?
Of the above list, only some.
Expect the demographic data to improve, but I’d be surprised to see much change to RLSA remarketing lists. I’ll eat my hat if we get third party data in search in 2014.
RLSA remarketing lists are dominated by the implicit user terms people agree to every time they do a search on Google. They’re already stricter for users who have signed in (they’ve explicitly told Google what can be done with their data, and it’s hard to change that for new products). Third party data is a step too far, probably.
We’ll definitely get some richer ad formats, probably including video. I suspect new formats on mobile will be prevalent too. That’s just continuing an existing set of trends. Relaxed character limits seem unlikely. There is no pressure on Google to change this, and the amount of upheaval for a lot of AdWords accounts makes it tricky to implement.
Regarding the management/reporting changes: your guess is as good as mine. Speak to your AdWords reps until they consider these as problems that affect multiple people. As long as its just a few lone voices asking for these changes they’ll be considered low priority.
What Changes Would be Actively Bad?
There are always still a few of these, generally regarding changes to defaults or removal of useful granularity of control. Each of these makes campaign management more complicated in order to recreate the level of control we used to have.
Example: since enhanced campaigns removed the ability to ability to have different mobile bids easily for different keywords, some PPC commentators discuss using one keyword per ad group to regain that control. It’s the kind of change we shouldn’t have to make, but in some cases we simply do.
I’d like to see Google avoid those kinds of changes this year. A small core of AdWords users spend the most time using the platform, and changes to benefit the rest that harm the sophisticated users are sure to reduce the good will towards Google.
While at NAIAS with the Ford Blogger Experience, I had the opportunity to catch Sheryl Connelly’s presentation on the forecasted trends for 2014. Sheryl Connelly is Ford’s “Futurist”, which means it is her job to predict new trends – 3 years in advance! Sheryl had some pretty interesting ideas about what the future might hold.
Many of the trends Sheryl mentioned in the 2014 report (which can be downloaded as a PDF here) are directly applicable to internet marketing and how people use technology today. Below are notes on some of the trends Sheryl has forecasted for 2014.
Vying For Validation
According to the report:
We are living in a world of hyper self-expression, complete with “selfies,” chronic public-journaling and other forms of digital self-expression. As authors, we have the opportunity to craft our own identity and tell the stories that are unique to us. What looks like—and perhaps started as—vanity showmanship is now a deep desire for validation…But as we smooth out the rough edges of our public self, do we gloss over our real character?
For consumers, this trend is about sharing your lifestyle and how you percieve yourself. Although Sheryl’s report says it could have positive effect and change social norms by increasing positivity, the fact remains that many people aren’t honest about themselves online.
- 74% of Americans paint a better pic of themselves than reality
- 62% feel better about themselves when people react positively to what they post online
The report states:
Across the globe, there are huge differences between how “old money” and “new money” narrate their place in society— and with it, marked shifts in the ways in which we express our wealth, status, and influence…In developed markets, displays of wealth were once regarded with admiration and aspiration. Today, post-recession, conspicuous displays of wealth are frowned upon— and there is a growing contingent of educated youth who see material ownership as an unnecessary burden when it comes to enjoying life. Access is a powerful, if also subtle, manifestation of status—so too is the luxury of time in an increasingly demanding world: How we choose to spend our time can be even more important than how we spend our money.
How people show their own status, as well as react to others’ has a big impact on the social media conversations that take place. However, there has been a change in how people show their wealth. For instance, 86% of those surveyed say amount of money isn’t important, it’s what you do with the money you have. In addition, 56% of those surveyed in the United States say displays of wealth are tasteless, versus 90% in Japan.
Other highlights from the presentation included:
- Consumers like purchasing from the manufacturer directly
- We are experiencing the counter-trend of FOMO (fear of missing out). Now it is JOMO – the joy of missing out
- Micro Moments: where we actively do small tasks so we have more free time later, like texting ourselves a grocery list in between meetings
- Myth of multitasking: only 2% are effective, for the rest, it does more harm than good. A study said you lose 10 points in your IQ when multitasking.
- Voicemail is now being translated into text to sort easily: this trend and dependence toward voice services will continue in the future
Ford is attempting to capitalize on the voice trend with Ford Sync and AppLink, which allows the driver to read texts or play playlists on their phone through voice command.
Overall, the trends report and presentation was very informative about the state of digital and social trends in the coming year. One question Sheryl brought up at the end of the presentation has stuck with me: “In the future, will it be that only the affluent are able to leave their phone at home? The Average Joe now uses their phone at all times to stay competitive.” Quite a change from years past when owning a cell phone was a status symbol!
Forecasting SEO trends for local is quite difficult – primarily because I know in my heart of hearts that local SEO isn’t a trend, phenomenon or fad. Local – along with personalized search – is a necessary evolution to truly optimize the search experience for users across the globe. It is a mindset that SEO professionals can’t “arrive to” late.
Can you project what Social Media will do for SEO?
In recent conversations with social media visionary Brent Csutoras, we discussed a question that I hear at least once every day when potential clients call: Will a social media campaign help me rank better in Google Organic?