CBPO

Tag: Five

Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links

November 7, 2019 No Comments

Google’s Matt Cutts declared guest blogging (and other tactics) as a way of generating SEO inbound links as a “spammy practice” that was dead and gone, way back in 2014. It was a statement that generated plenty of response, both defending and arguing against Cutts’ assessment of the practice.

Five years later, guest blogging — or guest posting if you prefer — hasn’t gone the way of the dodo.

Now as far as flooding your site with poor content that relies on tricking people with the anchor text, yes, those days are mostly behind us. Search engine algorithms have really wised up in recent years and the value of the inbound link hasn’t gone away. It’s only changed.

Before starting your link-building journey, it’s important to understand the primary objectives:

Value and quality take top priority

A guest post can be a great way to bring in new traffic and boost your SEO, but there’s a catch. It has to contain relative information that offers something of value to the audience. The choices on the internet are endless and in an age where everyone knows how to explore the internet, a clickbait guest blogging strategy doesn’t hold up for long.

As for what goes into that content, longer content tends to do better than the shorter stuff. This isn’t to say that an effective guest post needs to be 4,000 words. You don’t necessarily want to test the limits of your audience’s attention span, but the 125-word blurb isn’t likely to result in a lot of traffic.

The main focus is to provide value to the readers with the information and give them a reason to finish and share the content. Generally, the most successful guest posts tend to fall in the sweet spot of 300 to 1,600 words.

Grammar and voice of the content are also of importance. If you were writing a guest post for a medical journal, you would probably use a less conversational style than if you’re writing for “Parents Magazine”

Don’t go crazy with the keyword stuffing

Just because you have access to all the words, that doesn’t mean you need to use all the words. Throwing as many keywords into your post and finding a way to cram them into every sentence simply isn’t going to do much good in the long run. Google’s algorithms are going to pick up on this and if you really overdo it, the article could get marked as spam. Then all that hard work was for nothing.

It goes back to what we touched on earlier about adding value to the audience. Yes, keywords matter, but keyword stuffing is a frowned upon blackhat technique that works against your link goals. 

So how do you know when your content is in danger of falling under the keyword stuffing label? Say you’re working on a post and want to rank for “best gardening hose” and wrote something like this:

“If you’re looking for the best gardening hose the Acme Aqua 2000 is the best gardening hose on the market today and will meet all your needs. More people think it’s the best gardening hose than all the others and tell their friends that it’s the best gardening hose on the market today.”

Yikes! Not only will Google spot this as spam but your savvy readers will too. If you’re still unsure about how to recognize if you’re guilty of keyword stuffing, you may want to brush up on why it’s bad for SEO.

Target websites with a higher domain than yours

Just like we mentioned earlier in regards to content, quality counts as well when building in those links. The internet is a battlefield and websites are constantly vying for power in the form of higher search rankings. By guest posting for websites with higher domain authority, you’ll be giving yourself a leg up and getting the most value out of those blogging efforts — from an SEO perspective, of course.

Google cares not just about the number of links, but the quality of those backlinks. As to what makes a high-quality link in 2019, there are a few must-haves.

Consistent traffic flow is important because it shows that it’s active. Authority is also of importance and by that, we mean domain authority. Websites with a low domain authority as ranked by Moz, tend to have a low ranking of 0-20. They may be new or simply not very active. Whereas a website with a domain authority ranking of 60+ is going to be a well-established one that has a steady flow of traffic and is regarded for high-quality content.

All links are not created equal, so think critically about who you want to link to and who you want linking to you. Now that we understand this, it’s time to start on with link-building:

Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links

So how to go about guest blogging with a strategy that actually works for you rather than throwing chance to the wind? Obviously, you need to find some places that would welcome a contribution to your knowledge.

1. Target keyword phrases

A Google search for a keyword phrase as simple as “write for us” or “become a contributor” is one way to go about it, but that approach can be a little tedious. A great way to hone in on potential places for guest posts is to check out relevant industry sites and competitor sites. Looking at where their inbound links are coming from can provide a valuable springboard to start with.

2. Use guest blogging platforms

If writing isn’t your forte or you don’t have the time, you can still use guest blogging as a viable means of high-authority link building. There are multiple outlets such as DFY Links that offer a variety of guest blogging campaigns with high-quality backlinks.

3. Build an authority content piece

Pitching a blogger for a backlink is a lot easier when it’s to a long-form resource page. Rather than just pitching a topical article to a blogger, focus on selling your existing authority content. Many bloggers have a “resource” section and are looking to populate it with the “right” content.

4. Provide a testimonial

Testimonial link building is a win-win scenario. On the one hand, this is a perfect way for them to build customer trust. Testimonials have an associated level of credibility that garners customer trust. Additionally, these mentions also include a rare backlink of high value that will pay dividends in your SEO strategy for years to come. Finally, some clients also find that these specific backlinks provide a steady stream of click-through traffic which augments their current SEO and paid ad efforts.

5. Using SERPs to find sites that accept guest posts

The internet is replete with a multitude of link building opportunities. Forums, blogs and millions of websites all host backlinks but one must be judicious in selecting which avenue to explore. After generating your list of potential opportunities, it’s time to start filtering by: 

  • Domain Authority 
  • Domain Rating 
  • Referring Domains
  • Spam Score (Moz)

By targeting sites of high domain authority and ones with low spam scores, you can develop a sound SEO strategy. Strong SEO strategies tend to remain relatively unaffected by search engine algorithm changes that may arise in the future.

A few search operations that I typically use

  • [target keyword] + “Become a Contributor”
  • [target keyword] + “Become a Guest Blogger”
  • [target keyword] + “Contribute”
  • [target keyword] + “Submit a Guest Post”
  • [target keyword] + inurl:guest-posts
  • [target keyword] + inurl:write-for-us

Conclusion

When it comes down to it, you should consider every link, both inbound and outbound as a potential place to establish a connection when building an effective guest posting SEO strategy.

The SEO shortcuts of just a few years ago are becoming a thing of the past. Trust and authority are more valued by today’s search engine algorithms. Thankfully, guest posting as an effective strategy for link building is still alive and well in 2019 and the years to come. It’s all about how one goes about it that determines its effectiveness. 

The post Five sure-fire strategies to build inbound links appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five factors that determine the overall page quality

October 26, 2019 No Comments

Google always ranks a web page after determining its overall quality. Page quality is a measure of the importance of a web page in the eyes of Google.

In order to determine the overall quality of a web page, Google hires real humans who are known as “Search Quality Raters“.

Page Quality rating or PQ is a grade given by Page Quality raters who have the responsibility of evaluating “how well a page achieves its purpose”.

Purpose of the content, author expertise, links, and brand citations all come into play while measuring the quality of a page.

In this article, I will discuss the top five factors that directly impact the overall quality of a web page. Let’s start!

1. Purpose of the page

The purpose of the page is the real reason behind the creation of the page.

A page can be created to serve a particular purpose or multiple purposes, make money or harm the user by inserting malicious code via cookies or download buttons.

The first thing that Google does is understanding the purpose of the page in response to the user search. Google applies semantic search to understand the meaning of the words behind the query and matches them with the purpose of the page.

Google presents the best answers to the user after accurately identifying the real intent of the searcher. The purpose of your page must match the real intent of the searcher.

Different sites have different purposes. Hence it is important to identify the real purpose of the page.

Some common purposes of a page

  • The homepage of a news website to share the news with the people.
  • The category page of a shopping portal to sell products to people.
  • A personal review site to inform users about the features, pros, and cons of the product.
  • A how-to page created to help users find the answers to a specific question.
  • A video created to educate people on how to draw a summer landscape.
  • Category page of a software website to allow people to download a particular software.

For example, this page of Best VPN Zone site might have a high PQ rating for the query “how to save money on internet safety” because it lists 55 ways that actually help the searcher to find different methods that helps them to save money on internet safety. Content is over 3000 words and it is divided into proper subheadings that improve the overall readability score of the page. (For tools that you can use to check the word count and readability levels of a web page, please see point three).

When creating a web page, you should keep in mind the actual intent of the user. Identify the main purpose of your page and ask yourself – Does it accurately serve the user intent? The answer should be “yes”.

A page should not be created solely to earn money by running ads or to harm the user. Such pages have the lowest PQ rating.

2. Amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are collectively known as EAT in SEO. Pages that have strong EAT are rated highly by the search quality raters. Let’s understand what EAT means:

Expertise

Who is the creator of the content? (An article written by Danny Sullivan on SEO has more expertise when compared to an article written by any new author having a few years of experience).

Authoritativeness

How authoritative is the website where the content is published or how authoritative is the author? (An article published on science mission on the NASA website is far more authoritative when compared with an article published on a local science magazine such as this).

Trustworthiness

How trustworthy is the website where the content is published or how trustworthy is the author? (An article published by the Medical Association of Alabama is found to be more trustworthy when compared with the information in the personal blog of any random Alabama blogger).

EAT is an extremely important factor to evaluate the overall quality of a page. A page lacking EAT is considered to be of a low-quality and ranks poorly in the search results.

3. Main content quality and amount

The quality of the MC or main content is another major criteria in the calculation of the PQ rating. While determining the quality of MC, Google pays special focus on the following things:

  • There should be no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Content should be clearly written and comprehensive (an interesting point to note here is that long-form content gets more backlinks when compared to shorter content and this is another reason why long-form content actually helps in rankings. This Backlinko study proves it.)
  • The information presented on the site should be factually correct.
  • The information should be presented well.
  • Content on a shopping website should allow users to find the products easily.
  • Any video or other features on the site like a calculator or game should be working properly.
  • EAT also applies here.

You can check the word count of a web page using a tool like Word Counter. Similarly, Grammarly can be used to check the content for any grammatical errors. Sophisticated tools like Readable give you a score for your content based on its readability levels.

A good example of a page having high-quality MC is this Wiki on Siberian Husky. The information is comprehensive, clearly written, accurate, has lots of images to make readers understand the various characteristics and every point is backed up by proper data. This makes this Wiki a page having very high-quality MC and no wonder it ranks on the first position in Google for its target keyword.

4. Clear and satisfying website information

Any website on the web should have clear information about who is responsible for the information contained on the website along with details like office address and other contact details.

Having all the contact details on your websites adds to a high degree of trust. For websites that are directly responsible for the health and well-being of a human, disclosing the details of the organization or the person behind the site is extremely necessary.

For shopping websites, adding a customer support number is important because it helps the users to resolve issues. Hence, contact information along with customer support numbers or live chats are a factor in the PQ rating of Google. Depending on the niche of your website, you must add all the information in it that will help your users.

5. Website reputation

Google also finds out the reputation of the website by analyzing the web about references from other experts regarding what they have written or said about a website.

Some ways how Google identifies a website’s reputation

  • Articles published in reputed news agencies about the website.
  • Awards and recognitions won by the business. For example, a website run by a culinary expert who has won the James Beard Foundation Award for culinary excellence would be trusted more by Google when compared to any random blog run by a blogger who hasn’t received any awards.
  • User ratings about an online store or business or about a particular product or service. Google considers a large number of positive reviews as evidence of a positive reputation.
  • For health-related queries, Google carefully considers both the website and the author’s reputation while evaluating the PQ ratings. For example for a query like “what is CBD”, this resource from CBD Central might achieve high PQ ratings because it has clear information about the author. Similarly, this resource from Medicine Net has all the claims are backed up by trustworthy references and might be rated highly by the raters.
  • Any other information about the website or the author of the article on any other website like Wikipedia, niche blogs, magazine articles, and forums.

You can check the reputation of a website using tools like the Moz (for checking Domain Authority), SEMrush (for checking the Trust Score), Ahrefs (for checking the Ahrefs Domain Rating) and Majestic SEO (for checking the Trust Flow). Each of these metrics is important to determine the reputation of a website.

Bonus

Here are some useful ways that you can use to build the reputation of your website.

Final thoughts

You can’t ignore the page quality if you want to rank your page(s) highly in the search results. The above five factors should be considered carefully and steps should be taken to optimize your pages in accordance with these.

Remember, PQ rating is given by real people so don’t think of applying any Black Hat tactics to fool them. Offer the best services to your customers and genuinely earn a positive reputation for your brand. Focus on the main content quality and the purpose of the page.

Last but not least, try to earn brand mentions and links from reputed media publications and nominate your business for prestigious awards in your business category.

Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist and author of the SEO Sandwitch blog.

The post Five factors that determine the overall page quality appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five great tools to improve PPC ads

August 24, 2019 No Comments

Every digital marketer wants to reach the top position on the search engine results. However, if you’ve recently launched a new website or your niche is saturated, starting with paid search ads sounds like a good idea.

Strategically created PPC campaigns can drive leads, sales or sign-ups to your websites. You know what? In fact, businesses earn an average of $ 8 for every dollar they spend on Google Ads.

Optimizing PPC campaigns is not easy, but it’s very powerful if you do it properly. Just like SEO, it is essential to conduct extensive keyword research, optimize ad copy, and design high-converting landing pages.

Fortunately, there are a lot of effective PPC tools that will help you analyze your competitors’ PPC strategies, figure out tricks in their campaigns, and improve your PPC campaigns.

If you are ready to take an evolutionary leap in your PPC advertising, take a look at my list of five amazing tools to save you time, give you crucial insights, and raise money for your business.

Five tools to improve PPC ads

1. WordStream Advisor: Streamline your PPC campaigns at scale

WordStream offers a pretty neat tool that is targeted to small and medium-sized business owners who want to manage their PPC campaigns across advertising platforms properly. The tool can integrate with different PPC channels like Google Ads, Facebook, Bing, and Instagram.

One of the best features is the 20-Minute Work Week, a workflow that includes 9 items to help you improve the overall PPC process. It will analyze everything: get suggestions for ad budget and ad changes, identify valuable and negative keywords, split up ad groups, and create reports around conversion and call data. You can read more about it here.

wordstream tool ppc

The true worth of WordStream is the fact that they adapt and integrate all of the changes and upgrades when it comes to Google and its algorithm updates. So, you don’t need to constantly check them.

Cost: Free trial for 7 days, paid plans start at $ 299/month for 3-month plans.

2. SE Ranking: Comprehensive keyword and competitor analysis

SE Ranking PPC research tool focuses on keyword research, competitor analysis, and advertising campaign planning. When researching competitors on SE Ranking, you can enter your domain to find a list of websites that compete with you in paid search.

You can also find which keywords they are using, which ads drive the most traffic, how they rank in search engines, and how their ads look like in paid search. The tool shows competitor’s data like search volume, CPC, KEI, traffic cost, and a number of clicks.

Going to the “Adverts history” section, you can get visual graphs of the previous stats by time period, which displays position, monthly budget, and keywords. Having this information allows you to see all competitors’ keywords they have bid on in the past and figure out whether you should take a similar bidding strategy.

se ranking tool to improve ppc ads

You can easily export all the necessary information into an Excel file that you can share with your team. You can check it out in action here.

Cost: Paid plans start around $ 39 per month. SE Ranking provides a 14-day free trial and demo account.

3. Finteza: Conduct an impactful PPC analysis

Finteza is an advanced advertising analytics tool that shows you the exact percentage of high-quality and low-quality traffic coming to your website. The tool includes collection, processing, and instant data mapping through real-time charts and reports to give the most important information whenever you need it.

Finteza provides plenty of options to create, configure and target marketing campaigns for any website and instantly pull out detailed reports and statistics on clicks, impressions, and conversions of your ads.

finteza tool for ppc ads

You can also set up different conversion goals, and even use the retargeting option to display your optimized ads to the users who have performed a certain action on your website. The tool offers integrations with multiple CMS systems.

One of its biggest advantages is to track end-to-end user interaction. It means that the software provides data of all advertising platforms from which you purchase traffic and enables you to adapt them to individual conversions.

You can get the full list of Finteza’s features here.

Cost: The software offers a 30-day trial, and pricing starts at $ 4/month.

4. Unbounce: Build dedicated landing pages

Effective landing pages are crucial for the overall PPC process. At the very least, your ad will get them there, but conversions happen on landing pages. Creating a solid one with tools like Unbounce intended to simplify the whole process.

The tool includes a wide range of awesome features like A/B testing, dynamic text replacement, AMP landing pages, and real-time data dashboard. You can quickly change the text on your custom landing page to match what users are searching for, and split test them without touching a single line of code.

Unbounce offers over 100 high-converting templates for every type of landing page you need (sales pages, ebooks, events, products, webinar, etc.). It works with tons of in-app integrations and thousands more through Zapier.

Cost: Pricing starts at $ 79 per month, but you can try out a 14-day free trial.

5. Bannersnack: Display ad image creation and inspiration

The main purpose of advertising is to make people curious about your products. If you design banner ads that have interactive content, people are far more likely to click on them. One of the best solutions to do that is Bannersnack.

The tool is designed for advertising specialists to save their time and efforts on designing banners of different sizes. You can create both animated and static banners from scratch or select one of its high-quality templates created by professional designers and optimized by marketers.

bannersnack tool to improve ppc ads

One of its most convenient features is the ability to create the entire banner set on one toolbar within minutes. The banner maker is compatible with all major ad networks, Facebook Ads, Google Ads, and social networks. One of the recent features is the option to create AMPHTML ads.

Cost: Freemium; paid plans start from $ 7 per month.

Wrap up

Using the right PPC tools, you can find out your competitors’ best performing keywords, ad copy information, and much more. They help you save a lot of time and efforts as you know what marketing strategies your competitors are using to get maximum results and reach.

What PPC tools do you use and love? Share your views in the comments below.

Irina Weber is Brand Manager at SE Ranking. She can be found on Twitter @irinaweber048.

The post Five great tools to improve PPC ads appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five ways PPC customer support can help SMBs

July 6, 2019 No Comments

When consumers need to find the right product, service or storefront for their needs, they grab their phone, jump on their laptop, or just say, Hey Siri, Hey Alexa, and Hey Cortana. Search results immediately populate their screen and they skim, select, learn, and go.

To win at the game of search, your small or medium-sized business needs to be present online, discoverable and well-matched to the specific needs of consumers. Easier said than done, right?

If you want to quickly reach a targeted audience, drive the right kind of traffic towards your website, and develop a marketing strategy that works alongside your SEO efforts, pay per click (PPC) advertising is a great option. When consumers perform high commercial intent searches, meaning they’re online with the intent to buy a specific product, paid ads get 65% of all clicks. It’s a very effective way to get your products front and center on the search page. Both Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads) and Google Ads offer pretty intuitive platforms when it comes to the account set-up and refinement, but if you’re not a marketing expert (and even if you are) you’re going to need a little help sometimes.

As a small business, you may not have time to really dig into PPC advertising, but you still care about building a campaign that works for you and for your potential customers. Or, maybe you have a strong handle on PPC, but you’re wondering what you could be doing better. Both these scenarios, and many more, could be helped by reaching out to your Microsoft Advertising or Google Ads customer support center or setting up an appointment with a PPC coach.

A coach? Yes, a coach. Really, try it. Working with PPC customer support at Microsoft Advertising, for example, can help your business get the right advice, employ the right tactics, and simply streamline the process, so you aren’t emerging from a PPC rabbit hole feeling frustrated and upset. That’s no fun and can be easily remedied. Here are five common concerns and how customer support can help small businesses like yours with their PPC campaigns.

“I have no idea how to get started.”

Sometimes when people jump into the world of PPC advertising, the process begins easily enough, but issues tend to pop up. Maybe you aren’t sure about how to establish a budget or conduct important keyword research. That’s ok, nobody expects you to be an expert right out of the gate.

Onboarding specialists are part of customer support and work with small businesses to set up your PPC ad account from scratch, create your first set of ads, research keywords, set a budget, and assist you with competitive bids. They view the entire process as a team effort and are genuinely interested in understanding your business goals and objectives. Then they help you design a PPC campaign to meet them.

“I can’t figure out why my campaigns aren’t performing.”

Coaches and customer support specialists can provide visibility on what is and isn’t working by showing businesses how to generate and understand a variety of performance reports. With over 30 different types of reports available, selecting and analyzing them on your own can be a little overwhelming at first, simply due to the sheer volume of data at our fingertips. Working with a coach can help provide clarity, and together you can identify relevant strategies and innovations that have a positive impact on your campaigns. In other words, they can help you figure out what all the data means and how to use it to your advantage.

If you’ve been using PPC advertising for quite a while, coaches can support your campaign by introducing you to the latest features and tools you may not know about. Sometimes we get into a routine and performance plateaus but talking to an expert for 15 minutes can totally refresh your PPC perspective and provide you with valuable insight and ideas.

“I’m afraid I’ll look like an idiot if I can’t figure this out on my own.”

Managing PPC campaigns is a learned skill, but it might not be something that comes naturally to you. A coach’s job isn’t to do everything for you, but to educate you on how to improve campaign performances on your own. Customer support can help business owners get familiar with PPC tools, processes and resources that help you successfully manage your ads without external support. The goal is to empower businesses with the know-how, competence, and confidence to handle their campaigns like a pro and troubleshoot any issues that come up. Learning, in and of itself, represents a measurement of success and makes the next PPC campaign easier to set up, more profitable, and effective.

“I don’t think customer support will understand anything about my business and it’s too much of a hassle. I just have to figure this out on my own.”

The whole point of customer support is to take the time to understand your industry and your business goals, that’s the only way to provide meaningful and targeted guidance. Coaches treat you like a partner and pro-actively offer strategic direction and the right tools to increase your PPC efficiency. They meet you at your level of expertise and build up from there, no matter your budget or your business. You need to be willing to share your story and reflectively consider what you want to get out of your various campaigns, but rest assured, if you’re willing to put in the time, it will most definitely not be wasted.

“I’m not sure I’m managing my campaign correctly and spend too much time worrying about it.”

This is a big one, especially for businesses that aren’t familiar with paid search. Your time is spent worrying that you’re doing it wrong instead of learning how to do it right. This is where working with a coach can really help because they provide you with peace of mind. Peace of mind in the information you’re using, your level of comfort and familiarity with the platform, and the belief that you are fully capable of making changes that improve your business’s visibility and lead conversions.

The post Five ways PPC customer support can help SMBs appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five ways blockchain will impact search marketing

May 21, 2019 No Comments

Few technologies promise to have an impact on the marketplace as tremendous as the blockchain technology. Though many professionals in the search marketing industry are still entirely unfamiliar with it. Blockchain’s disruptive nature is changing the nature of digital advertising regardless of whether some professionals hear about it or not, however, meaning it’s imperative to catch up on how this technology is changing the industry if you want to remain competitive.

Here are five of the major ways that blockchain will impact search marketing, and how advertising professionals are already beginning to master this interesting technology as it takes over.

1. Blockchain will make ads trustworthy

Consumers hate advertisements for a number of reasons, but by and large the most common is that they simply think advertising technology is untrustworthy. Nobody likes feeling as if they are being surveilled 24/7, and few people trust digital advertisements that appear on their screen enough to click on them, even if its contents are interesting. Blockchain technology promises to help this problem by securing the ad supply chain and making the marketing process more trustworthy to consumers everywhere.

Soon, thanks to blockchain services, ad tech vendors, buyers, and publishers will be more connected than ever before. Transparency, that is sorely needed in the ad supply chain can be brought about by the application of blockchain services, which thanks to their nature as ledgers are accessible to every party involved in a financial transaction. Website owners and ad vendors of the future will thus be able to operate with one another much more securely when making marketing arrangements.

2. Blockchain is delivering ad transparency

Elsewhere, blockchain services will be applied to make ads more transparent in an effort to win over the trust of skeptical consumers. Companies like Unilever are now teaming up with the likes of IBM on blockchain projects that they hope will disclose information about their business footprint and the way they collect and utilize information on customers. As these endeavors become more successful, others will be convinced to enlist the help of blockchain technology when it comes to ensuring a transparent advertising industry.

3. Blockchain is changing ad payments

Blockchain technology will also impact search marketing by disrupting the way that advertisement payments are facilitated. Companies like Amino Payments will soon be springing up left and right as the market for blockchain services grows larger and larger. These businesses will help mainstream blockchain-powered ad buys that make use of interesting smart contracts. While smart contracts are only just beginning to become an accepted part of the business world, they’ll be a mainstream facet of doing business sooner than we think, all thanks to the wonderful power of blockchain.

4. New advertising ecosystems are springing up

Some of the ways that blockchain is impacting search marketing are truly monumental. Blockchain technology is helping new advertising ecosystems get on their feet, for instance, with nascent companies like Adshares that are working hard to create a blockchain-based advertising ecosystem. As cryptocurrencies and other blockchain-powered technologies become more mainstream, we’ll see an increased need for blockchain-friendly payment systems.

Search marketing professionals in the future may have to rely on specialized expertise when navigating these new blockchain-powered advertising ecosystems that use a standard bitcoin wallet, which will become dominated by the IT-savvy. Programmatic advertising has already been upended time and again in recent years as the digital revolution brought about better computers, and the rise of blockchain could very well be the next stage in that cycle of disruption.

5. New blockchain browsers will reshape user experiences

Finally, the digital experience of the average consumer will be fundamentally changed by the introduction of blockchain browsers. Browser options like Brave are becoming more popular and grabbing headlines as they promise a privacy-respecting internet experience that features more honest and safer ad tech. Our current understandings of the marketing world may be entirely useless a few years from now when blockchain powered browsers off secure, personalized search options to users who are sick and tired of modern advertising gurus.

Search marketing is in for more than its fair share of disruptive changes in the forthcoming years, largely because of the advent of blockchain technology. Like any other technological innovation, blockchain will take time and investment to grow into its full potential, but it’s already quite clear that its development is jarring advertising professionals.

The post Five ways blockchain will impact search marketing appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five tools for audience research on a tiny budget

April 9, 2019 No Comments

When starting out a digital marketing program, you might not yet have a lot of internal data that helps you understand your target consumer. You might also have smaller budgets that do not allow for a large amount of audience research.

So do you start throwing darts with your marketing? No way.

It is critical to understand your target consumer to expand your audiences and segment them intelligently to engage them with effective messaging and creatives. Even at a limited budget, you have a few tools that can help you understand your target audience and the audience that you want to reach. We will walk through a few of these tools in further detail below.

Five tools for audience research on a budget

Tool #1 – In-platform insights (LinkedIn)

If you already have a LinkedIn Ads account, you have a great place to gain insights on your target consumer, especially if you are a B2B lead generation business.

In order to pull data on your target market, you must place the LinkedIn insight tag on your site.

Once the tag has been placed, you will be able to start pulling audience data, which can be found on the website demographics tab. The insights provided include location, country, job function, job title, company, company industry, job seniority, and company size. You can look at the website as a whole or view specific pages on the site by creating website audiences. You can also compare the different audiences that you have created.

Screenshot of LinkedIn insights

Tool #2 – In-platform insights (Facebook)

Facebook’s Audience Insights tool allows you to gain more information about the audience interacting with your page. It also shows you the people interested in your competitors’ pages.

You can see a range of information about people currently interacting with your page by selecting “People connected to your page.”

To find out information about the users interacting with competitor pages, select “Interests” and type the competitor page or pages. The information that you can view includes age and gender, relationship status, education level, job title, page likes, location (cities, countries, and languages), and device used.

Screenshot of the "Insights" tab on Facebook Audience Insights

Tool #3 – In-platform insights (Google Customer Match)

Google Customer Match is a great way to get insights on your customers if you have not yet run paid search or social campaigns.

You can load in a customer email list and see data on your customers to include details like gender, age, parental status, location, and relevant Google Audiences (in-market audiences and affinity audiences). These are great options to layer onto your campaigns to gain more data and potentially bid up on these users or to target and bid in a separate campaign to stay competitive on broader terms that might be too expensive.

Screenshot of insights gained from Google Customer Match

Tool #4 – External insights (competitor research)

There are a few tools that help you conduct competitor research in paid search and paid social outside of the engines and internal data sources.

SEMrush and SpyFu are great for understanding what search queries you are showing up for organically. These tools also allow you to do some competitive research to see what keywords competitors are bidding for, their ad copy, and the search queries they are showing up for organically.

All of these will help you understand how your target consumer is interacting with your brand on the SERP.

MOAT and AdEspresso are great tools to gain insights into how your competition portrays their brand on the Google Display Network (GDN) and Facebook. These tools will show you the ads that are currently running on GDN and Facebook, allowing you to further understand messaging and offers that are being used.

Tool #5 – Internal data sources

There might not be a large amount of data in your CRM system, but you can still glean customer insights.

Consider breaking down your data into different segments, including top customers, disqualified leads, highest AOV customers, and highest lifetime value customers. Once you define those segments, you can identify your most-desirable and least-desirable customer groups and bid/target accordingly.

Conclusion

Whether you’re just starting a digital marketing program or want to take a step back to understand your target audience without the benefit of a big budget, you have options. Dig into the areas defined in this post, and make sure that however you’re segmenting your audiences, you’re creating ads and messaging that most precisely speak to those segments.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

The post Five tools for audience research on a tiny budget appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five ways to improve your website’s bounce rate (and why you should)

March 30, 2019 No Comments

Bounce rate is the percentage of site visitors that land on your website and leave before viewing a second page. You can easily determine your website’s bounce rate by setting up Google Analytics.

Now, if you’re thinking this isn’t such a big deal and that as long as they visit your website, irrespective of how long they spend on it or how many pages they view, they at least know your business exists, that’s not good enough. The longer visitors stay on your site, the more time you have to turn them into subscribers and customers. But how can you convince users to stick around longer and visit more pages?

Luckily, there are a number of easy and free ways to improve your website’s bounce rate and grow your business.

Here are five ways to improve your website’s bounce rate

1. Create content consistently

Creating content consistently is one of the best ways to keep users around longer and get them to view multiple pages. Useful, engaging content will drive traffic to your website. Once that traffic is there, they’ll stick around, keep reading, and eventually become a subscriber or customer if you have a wide array of informative blog posts for them to read. In fact, according to HubSpot, companies that published 16+ blog posts per month got about 4.5 times more leads than companies that published zero to four monthly posts.

So, create a content plan that’s consistent and offers something for everyone. Not everyone prefers written content, so include a mixture of formats such as written, video, infographics, audio recordings, and more.

Another important tip for your content: Practice effective internal linking. Relevant and useful internal links sprinkled throughout your content can guide users to more of your awesome content and keep them reading.

2. Add images and videos

Speaking of a mixture of formats, to improve your website’s bounce rate, be sure you add eye-catching images and videos to your website. Many users won’t spend a lot of time reading your website content, so you need to grab their attention with images and videos.

Add a large high-quality image or video to your homepage to grab the attention of viewers as soon as they see your site. Most websites do this while keeping everything else on the page simple, like the Panera website for example.

Example of images and video for website content

 

Image Source

If you don’t have the means to hire a photographer, you can find a ton of stunning, free stock images on a site like Unsplash.

3. Speed up your site

You may not have realized it before but your website speed is important for improving your website’s bounce rate. In fact, according to Google, 53 percent of mobile site visitors leave a page that takes longer than three seconds to load. And for every extra second that your page takes to load, the probability of users bouncing dramatically increases. So, don’t make your website visitors wait.

You can use a site like GTmetrix to test the speed of your site. Not only will it tell you what your site speed is, but it’ll also give you advice for improving it. If you’re running your website on WordPress, it would also be wise to download and install some free plugins like WP Smush and W3 Total Cache to help boost the speediness of your site.

4. A/B test

As you’re attempting to improve your website’s bounce rate, don’t leave it up to chance. You should be A/B testing everything in order to determine what’s working and what’s not. You might be surprised by the small things that can cause users to abandon your website. It might even be something as simple as the color of your call-to-action button.

So, perform A/B tests, or split tests, of every aspect of your website. Does your bounce rate improve with a popup on your homepage or does it get a bigger boost on another page? Does one font convert more visitors over another? Does showing or hiding a progress bar help or hurt your bounce rate? When we say A/B test everything, we mean everything.

5. Target abandoning visitors

Did you know that over 70% of people who leave your website will never return? If you don’t start to improve your bounce rate now, that’s a lot of potential leads and customers your business is missing out on. One effective way to stop those users in their tracks and get them to stay on your website longer, and eventually convert them into subscribers or customers is by utilizing exit-intent popups.

Example of utilizing exit-intent popups to improve site bounce rate

Image Source

Exit-intent popups are able to track when a user is about to leave your website and send them a targeted message at exactly the right time. Your popup can encourage website visitors to subscribe to your email list, download your lead magnet, or even offer a discount if they purchase. So, not only can exit-intent popups improve your bounce rate, but they can also boost your sales in an instant.

Got more points to share on improving bounce rates? Share them in the comments.

Syed Balkhi is an entrepreneur, marketer, and CEO of Awesome Motive. He’s also the founder of WPBeginner, OptinMonster, WPForms, and MonsterInsights. Syed can be found on Twitter @syedbalkhi.

The post Five ways to improve your website’s bounce rate (and why you should) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five ways SEOs can utilize data with insights, automation, and personalization

March 23, 2019 No Comments

Constantly evolving search results driven by Google’s increasing implementation of AI are challenging SEOs to keep pace. Search is more dynamic, competitive, and faster than ever before.

Where SEOs used to focus almost exclusively on what Google and other search engines were looking for in their site structure, links, and content, digital marketing now revolves solidly around the needs and intent of consumers.

This past year was perhaps the most transformative in SEO, an industry expected to top $ 80 billion in spending by 2020. AI is creating entirely new engagement possibilities across multiple channels and devices. Consumers are choosing to find and interact with information by voice search, or even on connected IoT appliances, and other devices. Brands are being challenged to reimagine the entire customer journey and how they optimize content for search, as a result.

How do you even begin to prioritize when your to-do list and the data available to you are growing at such a rapid pace? The points shared below intend to help you with that.

From analysis to activation, data is key

SEO is becoming less a matter of simply optimizing for search. Today, SEO success hinges on our ability to seize every opportunity. Research from my company’s Future of Marketing and AI Study highlights current opportunities in five important areas.

1. Data cleanliness and structure

As the volume of data consumers are producing in their searches and interactions increases, it’s critically important that SEOs properly tag and structure the information we want search engines to match to those queries. Google offers rich snippets and cards that enable you to expand and enhance your search results, making them more visually appealing but also adding functionality and opportunities to engage.

Example of structured data on Google

Google has experimented with a wide variety of rich results, and you can expect them to continue evolving. Therefore, it’s best practice to properly mark up all content so that when a rich search feature becomes available, your content is in place to capitalize on the opportunity.

You can use the Google Developers “Understand how structured data works” guide to get started and test your structured data for syntax errors here.

2. Increasingly automated actionable insights

While Google is using AI to interpret queries and understand results, marketers are deploying AI to analyze data, recognize patterns and deliver insights as output at rates humans simply cannot achieve. AI is helping SEOs in interpreting market trends, analyzing site performance, gathering and understanding competitor performance, and more.

It’s not just that we’re able to get insights faster, though. The insights available to us now may have gone unnoticed, if not for the in-depth analysis we can accomplish with AI.

Machines are helping us analyze different types of media to understand the content and context of millions of images at a time and it goes beyond images and video. With Google Lens, for example, augmented reality will be used to glean query intent from objects rather than expressed words.

Opportunities for SEOs include:

  • Greater ability to define opportunity space more precisely in a competitive context. Understand underlying need in a customer journey
  • Deploying longer-tail content informed by advanced search insights
  • Better content mapping to specific expressions of consumer intent across the buying journey

3. Real-time response and interactions

In a recent “State of Chatbots” report, researchers asked consumers to identify problems with traditional online experiences by posing the question, “What frustrations have you experienced in the past month?”

Screenshot of users' feedback on website usage experiences

As you can see, at least seven of the top consumer frustrations listed above can be solved with properly programmed chatbots. It’s no wonder that they also found that 69% of consumers prefer chatbots for quick communication with brands.

Search query and online behavior data can make smart bots so compelling and efficient in delivering on consumer needs that in some cases, the visitor may not even realize it’s an automated tool they’re dealing with. It’s a win for the consumer, who probably isn’t there for a social visit anyway as well as for the brand that seeks to deliver an exceptional experience even while improving operational efficiency.

SEOs have an opportunity to:

  • Facilitate more productive online store consumer experiences with smart chatbots.
  • Redesign websites to support visual and voice search.
  • Deploy deep learning, where possible, to empower machines to make decisions, and respond in real-time.

4. Smart automation

SEOs have been pretty ingenious at automating repetitive, time-consuming tasks such as pulling rankings reports, backlink monitoring, and keyword research. In fact, a lot of quality digital marketing software was born out of SEOs automating their own client work.

Now, AI is enabling us to make automation smarter by moving beyond simple task completion to prioritization, decision-making, and executing new tasks based on those data-backed decisions.

Survey on content development using AI

Content marketing is one area where AI can have a massive impact, and marketers are on board. We found that just four percent of respondents felt they were unlikely to use AI/deep learning in their content strategy in 2018, and over 42% had already implemented it.

In content marketing, AI can help us quickly analyze consumer behavior and data, in order to:

  • Identify content opportunities
  • Build optimized content
  • Promote the right content to the most motivated audience segments and individuals

5. Personalizations that drive business results

Personalization was identified as the top trend in marketing at the time of our survey, followed closely by AI (which certainly drives more accurate personalizations). In fact, you could argue that the top four trends namely, personalization, AI, voice search, and mobile optimization are closely connected if not overlapping in places.

Across emails, landing pages, paid advertising campaigns, and more, search insights are being injected into and utilized across multiple channels. These intend to help us better connect content to consumer needs.

Each piece of content produced must be purposeful. It needs to be optimized for discovery, a process that begins in content planning as you identify where consumers are going to find and engage with each piece. Smart content is personalized in such a way that it meets a specific consumer’s need, but it must deliver on the monetary needs of the business, as well.

Check out these 5 steps for making your content smarter from a previous column for more.

How SEOs are uniquely positioned to drive smarter digital marketing forward

As the marketing professionals have one foot in analysis and the other solidly planted in creative, SEOs have a unique opportunity to lead smart utilization and activation of all manners of consumer data.

You understand the critical importance of clean data input (or intelligent systems that can clean and make sense of unstructured data) and differentiating between first and third-party data. You understand economies of scale in SEO and the value in building that scalability into systems from the ground up.

SEOs have long nurtured a deep understanding of how people search for and discover information, and how technology delivers. Make the most of your current opportunities by picking your low-hanging fruit opportunities for quick wins. Focus your efforts on putting the scalable, smart systems in place that will allow you to anticipate consumer needs, react quickly, report SEO appropriately, and convey business results to the stakeholders who will determine budgets in future.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform BrightEdge. He can be found on Twitter @jimyu.

You might like to read these next:

The post Five ways SEOs can utilize data with insights, automation, and personalization appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Search Engine Watch


Five Years of Google Ranking Signals

June 24, 2018 No Comments

LIghthouse

Braden Collum

Organic Search Ranking Signals

1. Domain Age and Rate of Linking
2. Use of Keywords
3. Related Phrases
4. Keywords in Main Headings, Lists, and Titles
5. Page Speed
6. Watch Times for a Page
7. Context Terms on a Page
8. Language Models Using Ngrams
9. Gibberish Content
10. Authoritative Results
11. How Well Databases Answers Match Queries
12. Suspicious Activity to Increase Rankings
13. Popularity Scores for Events
14. The Amount of Weight from a Link is Based upon the Probability that someone might click upon it
15. Biometric Parameters while Viewing Results
16. Click-Throughs
17. Site Quality Scores
18. Disambiguating People
19. Effectiveness and Affinity
20. Quotes
21. Category Duration Visits
22. Repeat Clicks and Visit Durations
23. Environmental Information
24. Traffic Producing Links
25. Freshness
26. Media Consumption History
27. Geographic Coordinates
28. Low Quality
29. Television Viewing
30. Quality Rankings

Semantic Search Ranking Signals

31. Searches using Structured Data
32. Related Entities
33. Nearby Locations
34. Attributes of Entities
35. Natural Language Search Results

Local Search Ranking Signals

36. Travel Time for Local Results
37. Reverse Engineering of Spam Detection in Local Results
38. Surprisingness in Business Names in Local Search
39. Local Expert Reviews
40. Similar Local Entities
41. Distance from Mobile Location History
42. What People Search for at Locations Searched
43. Semantic Geotokens

Voice Search Ranking Signals

44. Stressed Words

News Search Ranking Signals

45. Originality

Conclusion

Google Ranking Signals

There are some other pages about Google Ranking Signals that don’t consider up-to-date information or sometimes use questionable critical thinking to argue that some of the signals that they include are actually something that Google considers. I’ve been blogging about patents from Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, and Apple since 2005, and have been exploring what those might say are ranking signals for over a decade.

Representatives from Google have stated that “Just because we have a patent on something, doesn’t mean we are using it.” The first time I heard them say that was after Go Daddy started advertising domain registrations of up to 10 years, because one Google patent (Information Retrieval Based on Historical Data) said that they might look at length of domain registration as a ranking signal, based on the thought that a “spammer would likely only register a domain for a period of one year.” (but actually, many people register domains for one year, and have their registrations on auto-renewal, so a one year registration is not evidence that a person registering a domain for just one year is a spammer.).

I’ve included some ranking signals that are a little older, but most of the things I’ve listed are from the past five years, often with blog posts I’ve written about them, and patents that go with them. This list is a compilation of blog posts that I have been working on for years, taking many hours of regular searching through patent filings, and reading blog posts from within the Search and SEO industries, and reading through many patents that I didn’t write about, and many that I have. If you have questions about any of the signals I’ve listed, please ask about them in the comments.

Some of the patents I have blogged about have not been implemented by Google yet but could be. A company such as Google files a patent to protect the intellectual property behind their ideas, the work that their search engineers and testing teams put into those ideas. It is worth looking at, reading, and understanding many of these patents because they provide some insights into ideas that Google may have explored when developing ranking signals, and they may give you ideas of things that you may want to explore, and questions to keep in mind when you are working upon optimizing a site. Patents are made public to inspire people to innovate and invent and understand new ideas and inventions.

Organic Search Ranking Signals

1. Domain Age and Rate of Linking

Google does have a patent called Document scoring based on document inception date, in which they tell us that they will often use the date that they first crawl a site or the first time they see a document referenced in another site, as the age of that site. The patent also tells us that Google may look at the links pointed to a site, and calculate what the average rate of links pointed to a site may be and use that information to rank a site, based upon that linking.

2. Use of Keywords

Matt Cutts wrote a newsletter for librarians in which he explained how Google crawled the web, making an inverted index of the Web with terms found on Documents from the Web that it would match up with query terms when people performed searches. It shows us the importance of Keywords in queries and how Google finds words that contain those keywords as an important part of performing searches. A copy of that newsletter can be found here: https://www.analistaseo.es/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/How-Google-Index-Rank.pdf

3. Related Phrases

Google Recently updated its first phrase-based indexing patent, which tells us in its claims that pages with more related phrases on them rank higher than pages with less related phrases on them. That patent is: Phrase-based searching in an information retrieval system. Related phrases are phrases that are complete phrases that may predict the topic a page it appears upon is about. Google might look at the queries that a page is optimized for, and look at the highest ranking pages for those query terms, and see which meaningful complete phrases frequently occur (or co-occur) on those high ranking pages.

I wrote about the updating of this patent in the post Google Phrase-Based Indexing Updated. Google tells us about how they are indexing related phrases in an inverted index (like the term-based inverted index from #2) in the patent Index server architecture using tiered and sharded phrase posting lists

4. Keywords in Main Headings, Lists, and Titles

Semantic closeness illustrated

I wrote the post Google Defines Semantic Closeness as a Ranking Signal after reading the patent, Document ranking based on semantic distance between terms in a document. The Abstract of this patent tells us that:

Techniques are disclosed that locate implicitly defined semantic structures in a document, such as, for example, implicitly defined lists in an HTML document. The semantic structures can be used in the calculation of distance values between terms in the documents. The distance values may be used, for example, in the generation of ranking scores that indicate a relevance level of the document to a search query.

If a list in page has a heading on it, the items in that list are all considered to be an equal distance away from the list. The words contained under the main heading on a page are all considered to be an equal distance away from that main heading. All of the words on a page are considered to be an equal distance away from the title to that page. So, a page that is titled “Ford” which has the word “motors” on that page is considered to be relevant for the phrase “Ford Motors.” Here is an example of how that semantic closeness works with a heading and a list:

5. Page Speed

Google has announced repeatedly that they consider Page Speed to be a ranking signal, including in the Google Blog post: Using site speed in web search ranking, and also in a patent that I wrote about in the post, Google’s Patent on Site Speed as a Ranking Signal.

The patent assigned to Google about Page Speed is Using resource load times in ranking search results. The patent tells us that this load time signal may be based upon measures of how long it takes a page to load on a range of devices:

The load time of an online resource can be based on a statistical measure of a sample of load times for a number of different types of devices that the page or resource might be viewed upon.

6. Watch Times for a page

While it may appear to be based upon videos, there is a Google Patent that tells us that it may rank pages higher if they are watched for longer periods of time than other pages. The post I wrote about this patent on is: Google Watch Times Algorithm For Rankings?, and the patent it is about is, Watch time based ranking.

A page may contain video or images or audio, and a watch time for those may make a difference too. Here’s a screenshot from the patent showing some examples:

Watch Time for a Page

7. Context Terms on a Page

I wrote the post Google Patents Context Vectors to Improve Search, about the patent User-context-based search engine.

The patent tells us that it may look at words that have more than one meaning in knowledge bases (such as a bank, which could mean a building money is stored in, or the ground on one side of a river, or what a plane does when it turns in the air.) The search engine may take terms from that knowledge base that show what meaning was intended and collect them as “Context Terms” and it might look for those context terms when indexing pages those words are on so that it indexes the correct meaning

8. Language Models Using Ngrams

Google may give pages quality scores based upon language models created from those pages when it looks at the ngrams on the pages of a site. This is similar to the Google Book Ngram Viewer.

I wrote about this in the post Using Ngram Phrase Models to Generate Site Quality Scores based upon the patent Predicting site quality

The closer the quality score for a page is to a high-quality page from a training set, the higher the page may rank.

9. Gibberish Content

This may sound a little like #8 above. Google may use ngrams to tell if the words on a page are gibberish, and reduce the ranking of a page. I wrote about this in a post titled, Google Scoring Gibberish Content to Demote Pages in Rankings?, about the patent Identifying gibberish content in resources.

Here is an ngram analysis using a well-known phrase, with 5 words in it:

The quick brown fox jumps
quick brown fox jumps over
brown fox jumps over the
fox jumps over the lazy
jumps over the lazy dog

Ngrams from a complete page might be collected like that, and from a collection of good pages and bad pages, to build language models (and Google has done that with a lot of books, as we see from the Google Ngram Viewer covering a very large collection of books.) It would be possible to tell which pages are gibberish from such a set of language models. This Gibberish content patent also mentions a keyword stuffing score that it would try to identify.

10. Authoritative Results

In the post Authoritative Search Results in Google Searches?, I wrote about the patent Obtaining authoritative search results, which tells us that Google might look at the results of a search, and if none of the Pages in the SERPs that appear are authoritative enough, it might search upon one of the query refinements that are listed with those results to see if they return any authoritative results.

If they do, the authoritative results may be merged into the original results. The way it describes authoritative results:

In general, an authoritative site is a site that the search system has determined to include particularly trusted, accurate, or reliable content. The search system can distinguish authoritative sites from low-quality sites that include resources with shallow content or that frequently include spam advertisements. Whether the search system considers a site to be authoritative will typically be query-dependent. For example, the search system can consider the site for the Centers for Disease Control, “cdc.gov,” to be an authoritative site for the query “cdc mosquito stop bites,” but may not consider the same site to be authoritative for the query “restaurant recommendations”. A search result that identifies a resource on a site that is authoritative for the query may be referred to as an authoritative search result.

11. How Well Databases Answers Match Queries

This patent doesn’t seem to have been implemented yet. But it might, and is worth thinking about.

I wrote the post How Google May Rank Websites Based Upon Their Databases Answering Queries, based upon the patent Resource identification from organic and structured content. It tells us that Google might look at searches on a site, and how a site might answer them, to see if they are similar to the queries that Google receives from searchers.

If they are, it might rank results from those sites higher. The patent also shows us that it might include the database results from such sites within Google Search results. If you start seeing that happening, you will know that Google decided to implement this patent. Here is the screenshot from the patent:

example search results showing database information

12. Suspicious Activity to Increase Rankings

Another time that Google publicly stated that “just because we have a patent doesn’t mean we use it, came shortly after I wrote about a patent in a post I called The Google Rank-Modifying Spammers Patent based upon the patent Ranking documents.

It tells us about a transition rank that Google may assign to a site where they see activity that might be suspicious, such as keyword stuffing. Instead of improving the ranks of pages, they might decrease them, or rerank them randomly. The motivation behind it appears to be to have those people making changes to do more drastic things. The patent tells us:

Implementations consistent with the principles of the invention may rank documents based on a rank transition function. The ranking based on the rank transition function may be used to identify documents that are subjected to rank-modifying spamming. The rank transition may provide confusing indications of the impact on rank in response to rank-modifying spamming activities. Implementations consistent with the principles of the invention may also observe spammers’ reactions to rank changes to identify documents that are actively being manipulated.

13. Popularity Scores for Events

Might Google rank pages about events higher based upon how popular it might perceive that event to be? I wrote the post Ranking Events in Google Search Results about the patent Ranking events which told us about popularity of an event being something that would make a difference. The following Screenshot from the patent shows some of the signals that go into determining a popularity score for an event:

signal Scores for an event

Some patents provide a list of the “Advantages” of following a process in the patent, as does this one:

The following advantages are described by the patent in following the approach it describes.

  1. Events in a given location can be ranked so that popular or interesting events can be easily identified.
  2. The ranking can be adjusted to ensure that highly-ranked events are diverse and different from one another.
  3. Events matching a variety of event criteria can be ranked so that popular or interesting events can be easily identified.
  4. The ranking can be provided to other systems or services that can use the ranking to enhance the user experience. For example, a search engine can use the ranking to identify the most popular events that are relevant to a received search query and present the most popular events to the user in response to the received query.
  5. A recommendation engine can use the ranking to provide information identifying popular or interesting events to users that match the users’ interests.

14.The Amount of Weight from a Link is Based upon the Probability of Clicks On It

I came across an update to the reasonable surfer patent, which focused more upon anchor text used in links than the earlier version of the patent, and told us that the amount of weight (PageRank) that might pass through a link was based upon the likelihood that someone might click upon that link.

The post is Google’s Reasonable Surfer Patent Updated based upon this patent Ranking documents based on user behavior and/or feature data. Since this is a continuation patent, it is worth looking at the claims in the patent to see what they say it is about. They do mention how ranking is affected, including the impact of anchor text and words before and after a link.

identifying: context relating to one or more words before or after the links, words in anchor text associated with the links, and a quantity of the words in the anchor text, the weight being determined based on whether the particular feature data corresponds to the stored feature data associated with the one or more links or whether the particular feature data corresponds to the stored feature data associated with the one or more other links, the rank being generated based on the weight; identifying, by the one or more devices, documents associated with a search query, the documents, associated with the search query, including the particular document; and providing, by the one or more devices, information associated with the particular document based on: the search query, and the generated rank.

15. Biometric Parameters while Viewing Results

This patent was one that I wondered about whether or not Google would implement, and suspect that many people would be upset if they did. I wrote about it in Satisfaction a Future Ranking Signal in Google Search Results?, based upon Ranking Query Results Using Biometric Parameters. Google may watch through a smart phone’s reverse camera to see the reaction of someone looking at results in response to a query, and if they appear to be unsatisfied with the results, those results may be demoted in future search results.

how satisfaction might be used with Search Results Pages

16. Click-Throughs

We’ve been told by Google Spokespeople that click-throughs are too noisy to use as a ranking signal, and yet a patent came out which describes how they might be used in such a way. With some thresholds, like clicks not counting until after the first 100, or a certain amount of time passes. The post I wrote about it in was Google Patents Click-Through Feedback on Search Results to Improve Rankings, based upon Modifying search result ranking based on a temporal element of user feedback

Rand Fishkin sent me a message saying that his experience has been that clicks were counting as ranking signals, but he was also seeing thresholds of around 500 clicks before clicks would make a difference. It’s difficult to tell with some signals, especially when Google makes statements about them not being signals in use.

Rand's tweet in response to my post, about his experiment.
Rand’s tweet in response to my post, about his experiment.

And Rand responded about what I said in the post about thresholds as well:

Threshold on click rates tweet.

17. Site Quality Scores

If you search for “seobythesea named entities” it is a signal that you have an expectation that you can find information about named entities on the site seobythesea.com.

If you do a site operator search such as “site:http://www.seobythesea.com named entities” you again are showing that you expect to be able to find information about a particular topic on this site. These are considered queries that refer to a particular site.

They are counted against queries that are considered to be associated with a particular site. So, if there are more referring queries than associated queries, the quality score for a site is higher.

If there are less referring queries than associated queries, then the quality score is lower. The post I wrote about this was How Google May Calculate Site Quality Scores (from Navneet Panda) based upon the patent Site quality score. A lower site quality score can mean a lower rank, as the patent tells us:

The site quality score for a site can be used as a signal to rank resources or to rank search results that identify resources, that are found in one site relative to resources found in another site.

18. Disambiguating People

Like the patent about covering terms with more than one meaning by including context terms on their pages, when you write about people who may share a name with someone else, if they are also on sites such as Wikipedia, and disambiguated entries, make sure you include context terms on your page that makes it easier to tell which person you are writing about.

The post I covered this in was Google Shows Us Context is King When Indexing People, based upon the patent Name disambiguation using context terms

19. Effectiveness and Affinity

If you search for something on a phone such as a song, and you have a music app on that phone that has that song upon it, Google may tell you what the song you are searching for is, and that you can access it on the app that you have loaded on your phone.

Social network affinities seem to be related to this. If you ask a question that might involve someone whom you might be connected to on a social network, they might be pointed out to you. See Effectiveness and Affinity as Search Ranking Signals (Better Search Experiences) about Ranking search results.

20. Quotes

quotes-ranking-signals

Google seems to know who said what and has a patent on it.

See Google Searching Quotes of Entities on the patent Systems and methods for searching quotes of entities using a database.

21. Category Duration Visits

Could visits to specific categories of a site have a positive effect on the rankings of those visited sites? We know that people from Google have said that use behavior signals like this tend to be noisy; but what are you to think when the patent I was writing about describes ways to reduce noise from such signals?

The post is A Panda Patent on Website and Category Visit Durations, and it is about a patent co-authored by Navneet Panda titled Website duration performance based on category durations.

22.Repeat Clicks and Visit Durations

I want to believe when Google Spokespeople say that Google doesn’t use click data to rank pages, but I keep on seeing patents from Navneet Panda that Google’s Panda Update was named after which describes user behavior that may have an impact.

The post is Click a Panda: High Quality Search Results based on Repeat Clicks and Visit Duration, and the patent it is about is one called Ranking search results

23 Environmental Information

Google can listen to a television playing, and respond to a question such as “Who is starring in this movie I am watching?

I wrote about it in Google to Use Environmental Information in Queries, and the post is based upon the patent
Answering questions using environmental context

24. Traffic Producing Links

Google might attempt to estimate how much traffic links to a site might bring to that site. If it believes that the links aren’t bringing much traffic, it may discount the value of those links.

I wrote about this in the post Did the Groundhog Update Just Take Place at Google?
It is about the patent Determining a quality measure for a resource

25. Freshness
I wrote a post about this called New Google Freshness-Based Ranking Patent.

There I wrote about how a search engine might try to determine that a query is of particular recent interest by looking to see if there has been a number of occurrences of the query:

  1. Being received within a recent time period
  2. On blog web pages within a recent time period
  3. On news web pages within a recent time period
  4. On social network web pages within a recent time period
  5. Requesting news search results within a recent time period
  6. Requesting news search results within a recent time period versus requesting web search results within the time period
  7. User selections of news search results provided in response to the query or
  8. More user selections of news search results versus user selections of web search results within the time period

The patent that this one was from is:

Freshness based ranking

26. Media Consumption History

If a person has a history of interaction with specific media, such as watching a particular movie or video or listening to a specific song, their searches may be influenced by that media, as I described in Google Media Consumption History Patent Filed.

That is based upon this patent , Query Response Using Media Consumption History. It is one of a series of patents which I wrote more about in How Google May Track the Media You Consume to Influence Search Results

27. Geographic Coordinates

A patent called Determining geographic locations for place names in a fact repository was updated in a continuation patent, which I wrote about in Google Changes How they Understand Place Names in a Knowledge Graph.

The claims from the patent were updated to include many mentions of “Geographic Coordinates” which indicated that including Latitude and Longitude information in Schema for a site might not be a bad idea. It’s impossible to say, based upon the patent that they use those signals in ordinary websites that aren’t knowledge base sites like a Wikipedia or an IMDB or Yahoo Finance. But it seemed very reasonable to believe that if they were hoping to see information in that form in those places that it wouldn’t hurt on Web sites that were concerned about their locations as well (especially since knowledge bases seem to be the source of facts for many sites in places such as knowledge panels.)

28. Low Quality

A post that looks at links pointed to a site, such as from footers of other sites, and might discount those, and links from sites that tend to be redundant, which it may not count more than once is the one at How Google May Classify Sites as Low-Quality Sites.

It is based upon the patent at:

Classifying sites as low quality sites

29. Television Watching

flow chart from patent on television watching as a ranking signal

Google may try to track what is playing on television where you are located, and watch for queries which look like they might be based upon those television shows, which I wrote about in Google Granted Patent on Using What You Watch on TV as a Ranking Signal.

It is based upon the patent System and method for enhancing user search results by determining a television program currently being displayed in proximity to an electronic device

30. Quality Rankings

Quality Raters Flowchart

We know that Google uses Human Raters to evaluate sites. Their rankings of pages may influence the rankings of pages, which I wrote about in the post How Google May Rank Web Sites Based on Quality Ratings The post identifies and explains a few quality signals that might be included in raters evaluations, such as whether it has a broad appeal or a niche appeal, what the click rate or blog subscription rate or PageRank Score might be.

The patent this ranking signal is based upon is Website quality signal generation

Semantic Search Ranking Signals

31. Searches using Structured Data

Google recently published a patent which showed how Structured data in the form of JSON-LD might be used on a page and might cause Google to search for values of attributes of entities described in that structured data, such as what book was published by a certain author during a specific time period. The patent explained how Google could search through the structured data to find answers to a query like that. My post is Google Patent on Structured Data Focuses upon JSON-LD, and the patent it covers is Storing semi-structured data.

32. Related Entities

A search for an entity with a property or attribute that may not be the most noteworthy, but may be known may be findable in search results. In a post about this, I used an example query about “Where was George Washington a Surveyor?” since he is most well known for having been President. The post is Related Entity Scores in Knowledge-Based Searches, based on the patent Providing search results based on sorted properties.

33. Nearby Locations

I stood in front of a statue in my town and asked my phone what the name of the statue in front of me was. It didn’t give me an answer, but I suspect we may see answers to questions like this in the future (and information about stores and restaurants that we might be standing in front of as well. I wrote about how this might work in the post How Google May Interpret Queries Based on Locations and Entities (Tested). It is based upon the patent Interpreting User Queries Based on Nearby Locations. This is worth testing again, I am traveling to Italy in November, and I’m hoping it works for my trip then, so I can ask for reviews of restaurants I might stand in front of when there.

34. Attributes of Entities

Asking questions about facts from entities such as movies or books, and Google being able to answer such queries is a good reason to make sure Google understands the entities that exist on your web pages. I wrote about such searches in the post How Knowledge Base Entities can be Used in Searches.

It is based upon the patent Identifying entities using search results

35. Natural Language Search Results

Example of search results showing natural language answers to questions.

Featured Snippets may be answered from high authority Pages (ranking on the first page for a query) that show the natural language question to be answered, and a good answer to that question. The questions are ones that follow a common pattern for questions ask on the web, such as “What is a good treatment for X?” I wrote about such search results in the post Direct Answers – Natural Language Search Results for Intent Queries.

It is based on the patent at Natural Language Search Results for Intent Queries

Local Search Ranking Signals

36. Travel Time for Local Results

How far someone may be will to travel to a place may be a reason why Google might increase the ranking of a business in local search results. I wrote about this in the post Ranking Local Businesses Based Upon Quality Measures including Travel Time based upon the patent Determining the quality of locations based on travel time investment.

Would you drive an hour away for a slice of pizza? If so, it must be pretty good pizza. The abstract from the patent tells us this:

…the quality measure of a given location may be determined based on the time investment a user is willing to make to visit the given location. For example, the time investment for a given location may be based on a comparison of one or more actual distance values to reach the given location to one or more anticipated distance values to reach the given location.

37. Reverse Engineering of Spam Detection in Local Results

In the post How Google May Respond to Reverse Engineering of Spam Detection, I wrote about the patent Reverse engineering circumvention of spam detection algorithms. I remembered how Google responded when people brought up the Google Rank-Modifying Spammers Patent, that I wrote about in #13, telling people that just because they had a patent doesn’t mean they necessarily use it.

This patent is slightly different from the Rank modifying spammer’s patent, in that it only applies to local search, and it may keep a spamming site from appearing at all, or appearing if continued activity keeps on setting off flags. As the patent abstract tells us:

A spam score is assigned to a business listing when the listing is received at a search entity. A noise function is added to the spam score such that the spam score is varied. In the event that the spam score is greater than a first threshold, the listing is identified as fraudulent and the listing is not included in (or is removed from) the group of searchable business listings. In the event that the spam score is greater than a second threshold that is less than the first threshold, the listing may be flagged for inspection. The addition of the noise to the spam scores prevents potential spammers from reverse engineering the spam detecting algorithm such that more listings that are submitted to the search entity may be identified as fraudulent and not included in the group of searchable listings.

38. Surprisingness in Business Names in Local Search

Another patent that is about spam in local search is one I wrote about in the post Google Fights Keyword Stuffed Business Names Using a Surprisingness Value written about the patent Systems and methods of detecting keyword-stuffed business titles.

This patent targets keyword stuffed business names that include prominent business names to try to confuse the search engine. Examples include such names as “Locksmith restaurant,” and “Courtyard 422 Y st Marriott.”

39. Local Expert Reviews

I’ve been hearing people suggest that reviews can help a local search rank higher, and I have seen reviews considered equivalent to a mention in the Google patent on Location Prominence. But, I’ve now also seen a Google patent which tells us that a review from a local expert might also increase the rankings of a local entity in local results. My post was At Google Local Expert Reviews May Boost Local Search Results on the patent Identifying local experts for local search

40. Similar Local Entities

When you search for a local coffeehouse, Google may decide that it wants to show you similar local businesses, and may include some other coffee houses or other similar results in what you see also. I wrote a post on this called How Google May Determine Similar Local Entities, from the patent Detection of related local entities.

41. Distance from Mobile Location History

Google keeps track of places that you may visit using a mobile device such as a phone. It returns results on searches based upon distance from you, the relevance of a business name to your search, and the location prominence of a local entity to its location. The distance used to be from where you were searching, but it may now be based upon a distance from your location history, as I wrote about in Google to Use Distance from Mobile Location History for Ranking in Local Search

This is based upon a patent called Ranking Nearby Destinations Based on Visit Likelihood and Predicting Future Visits to Places From Location History

42. What People Search for at Locations Searched

Leo Carillo Ranch Query Refinements

Search for a place that you might visit, and the query refinements that you might see may be based upon what people at that location you are considering visiting may have searched for when they were visiting that place. The “Leo Carrill” example above is for a ranch that was converted into a state park where many people get married at, and chances are the queries shown are from people searching from that park.

This doesn’t affect the rankings of the results you see, but instead the query refinements that you are shown. See Local Query Suggestions Based Upon Where People Search based on Local query suggestions.

42. Semantic Geotokens

A semantic geotoken is “a standardized representation for the geographic location including one or more location-specific terms for the geographic location.” My post about geotokens provides details on how much an impact them might have when shown in different ways, at Better Organic Search Results at Google Involving Geographic Location Queries

These are based on a patent named Semantic geotokens

Voice Search Ranking Signals

44. Stressed Words in spoken queries

This may not be something you can optimize a page for, but it does show that Google is paying attention to voice search and where that might take us. In the post Google and Spoken Queries: Understanding Stressed Pronouns based upon the patent Resolving pronoun ambiguity in voice queries, we see that Google may be listening for our voices to emphasize certain words when we ask for something. Here is an example from the patent:

A voice query asks: “Who was Alexander Graham Bell’s father?”
The answer: “Alexander Melville Bell”
A followup voice query: “What is HIS birthday?”
The answer to the follow-up query: “Alexander Melville Bell’s birthday is 3/1/1819”

News Search Ranking Signals

45. Originality in News Search

Google has a few patents that focus specifically upon ranking news results. They have updated some of those patents with continuation patents that have rewritten claims in them. I came across one that used to once focus upon geography as a very important signal but appears to pay much more attention to originality now. I wrote about that change in the post Originality Replaces Geography as Ranking Signal in Google News

The updated patent is Methods and apparatus for ranking documents

Ranking Signals Conclusion

I have mostly focused upon including ranking signals that I have written about in this post going back five years. It’s quite possible that I missed out on some, but I ideally wanted to provide a list that included signals that I have written about and could point to patents about. I’ve mentioned that Google spokespeople have sometimes said that “Just because Google has a patent on something doesn’t mean that they are using it.” That is good advice, but I do want to urge you to keep open the idea that they found certain ideas important enough to write out in legal documents that exclude others from using the processes described in those documents, so there has been a fair amount of effort made to create the patents I point to in this post.

I will be thinking about going back more than 5 years to cover some other signals that I have written about. I did want to include some posts I had written about factors that search engines use when they might rerank search results:

I do look forward to hearing your thoughts about the ranking signals that I have covered in this post


Copyright © 2018 SEO by the Sea ⚓. This Feed is for personal non-commercial use only. If you are not reading this material in your news aggregator, the site you are looking at may be guilty of copyright infringement. Please contact SEO by the Sea, so we can take appropriate action immediately.
Plugin by Taragana

The post Five Years of Google Ranking Signals appeared first on SEO by the Sea ⚓.


SEO by the Sea ⚓


Five ways to use predictive analytics

May 29, 2018 No Comments

The era of graphs and spreadsheets as a way of thinking about analytics is beginning to approach its end. Predictive analytics, along with associated artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning technologies, are changing the way in which we deal with data. These tools are becoming more accessible, and ‘big data’ thinking is no longer limited to firms with billion dollar budgets.

Predictive analytics provides a glimpse into the future, as well as access to strategic insights that can open up new opportunities. Here are five ways you can put predictive analytics to use, and how you can change the way you think about data.

Qualifying leads

According to Forrester research, predictive analytics has found three main use cases for dealing with  leads. Specifically:

  1. Predictive scoring: This method analyzes how leads are responding to your marketing attempts and how likely they are to take action based on that information. In this way, you can more quickly identify which leads to focus more resources on and which to divert resources from.
  2. Identification models: This use case is an approach that focuses on comparing leads to customers who have taken actions in the past. In doing so, you can divert resources to those leads who are most promising based on previous actions they have taken, as well as identify new markets that you weren’t previously aware of.
  3. Personalization: In concert with predicting which leads are most likely to take which actions, the same data can be used to determine which leads respond best to which types of messaging. This advanced form of segmentation can take things deeper than simply splitting leads into groups – instead sending them much more personalized messages.

One prominent example of this was covered in the Harvard Business Review, detailing how a Harley Davidson dealership increased sales leads by 2930% using an AI named Albert.

The AI crunched CRM data to identify characteristics and behaviors of previous buyers. It then split them into micro-segments based on those characteristics. For each segment, it tested different combinations of headlines, visuals, and other elements to determine which worked best for each segment.

The value of your lead qualification is highly dependent on the value and quantity of your data. No matter how good your statistical models are, their abilities are still very limited without access to the information that they need to learn about your customers.

In the digital space – particularly if you are not using a CRM – the best place to start with predictive analytics will almost certainly be an integration of Google Analytics and Google BigQuery.

Modeling customer behavior

While lead qualification and conversion is the most obvious use-case for predictive analytics, and likely the one worth looking into first, it’s far from the only marketing application of this emerging technology. But virtually any use is going to have customer modeling at its core.

You can divide customer modeling into three basic types: cluster models, propensity models, and collaborative filtering.

Cluster models

Clustering is a way of segmenting customers into groups based on many variables. A cluster model looks for correlations between various attributes and identifies a number of equilibria in which certain types of attributes tend to accumulate. What makes clustering special, compared with traditional segmentation, is the sheer number of variables involved. Clusters often use 30 variables or more, far more than would be possible if you were manually segmenting customers, or even if they were manually segmenting themselves.

Clusters come in three forms:

  1. Product clusters: These are clusters of customers who tend to only buy specific types of products, ignoring other things in your catalog
  2. Brand clusters: These customers tend to buy from a specific collection of brands
  3. Behavioral clusters: These are segments of customers with a specific collection of behaviors, such as frequent buyers who place small orders, or customers who prefer the call center over the checkout cart.

What’s important to recognize about these clusters is that they enable predictions about which clusters people belong to – even with limited information. If they buy one product with a specific brand, your brand cluster can predict what other brands they may be interested in, rather than just the more obvious recommendation of simply offering everything else by the same brand.

Propensity models

A propensity model is one that makes future predictions about customer behavior based on correlations with other behaviors and attributes. This may be accomplished using regression analysis or machine learning. A good propensity model controls for as many variables as possible so that correlations aren’t confused for causes.

Here are a few examples of propensity models:

  • Propensity to unsubscribe: A model like this allows you to determine the appropriate email frequency, weighing the possibility that a recipient will unsubscribe against any possible positive outcome
  • Propensity to churn: These are customers who are likely to move on if you don’t take action, but who may be high value otherwise
  1. Lifetime value: Modeling the lifetime value of a customer can help you make strategic marketing decisions if it leads you to customers with more lifetime value, or leads to behaviors that extend lifetime value.

Other propensity models include predicting how far through somebody’s lifetime value you are, and how likely they are to convert or buy.

Collaborative filtering

If you’ve seen Amazon’s “customers who liked this product, also liked…” recommendations, you know what type of model this is. At first glance collaborative filtering might sound similar to product-based cluster models, but collaborative filtering is a bit different. Rather than grouping customers by the types of products they are likely to buy, collaborative filters make recommendations based on aggregate behavior.

In other words, this is less about the user’s product preferences and more about the behaviors that products tend to cause for users.

There are three types of collaborative filters:

  1. Up-sell recommendations. These are recommendations for a higher tier version of a product before the sale is made
  2. Cross-sell recommendations. Also offered before the sale is made, this is a recommendation for a product that is often bought at the same time as the initial one
  3. Follow-up recommendations. These are recommendations for products that people tend to buy a certain time period after buying a prior product, such as replacing a product that runs out, or buying dishes after buying a table.

Connecting the right product to the right market

Working backwards from customer modeling, it’s possible to identify markets for your products that you may not have been aware of. Here are just a few examples of how this use case can play out:

  • Incorporate referral sources into your cluster models. This will allow you to identify which traffic sources correlate with which types of products, brands, or behaviors. From this, you can immediately identify a new market for these products or brands
  • Incorporate referral sources into your lifetime value propensity models. This will allow you to determine which locations to invest more of your marketing resources into, since you roughly know what the ROI will be
  • Look for correlations between traffic sources and success with up-sells, cross-sells, and follow-up recommendations
  • Look for correlations between keywords and your customer models
  • Analyze the attributes that are strong predictors of buying specific types of products and brainstorm other markets that might share those attributes that you have not yet targeted
  • Investigate high performing outliers where limited data is available and investigate whether expanding in those markets is a good option.

Connecting the right users to the right content

There are a number of ways that you can leverage your customer models to connect prospects with content in ways that move you toward your goals, some of them more obvious than others. Here are a few examples:

  • Matching content related to products or brands based on the appropriate clusters
  • Matching users to conversion copy when propensity models predict they are most likely to buy
  • Recommending content to users that improves their propensity scores
  • Recommending content to users that enhances their likelihood of responding well to an up-sell or cross-sell
  • Matching traffic sources to the content that tends to produce high propensity scores for each particular traffic source.

As you can see, the number of approaches you can take here grows pretty quickly. Think strategically about how best to put your models to use and make the most of your models.

Discovering strategic marketing insights

While some predictive analytics tools can automatically streamline your marketing process and generate results (like Albert did for Harley Davidson), it’s important to remember that human decisions still play a very important part in the process.

Where predictive analytics and related AI tools often fail is in a propensity to ‘over-fit’ the data. They can get stuck at local maximums and minimums, incapable of making the leap to new terrain.

Escaping from traps like these, and making the most of these tools in general, requires you to find strategic insights from within your predictive analytics models.

For example, suppose you discover that a specific piece of content has a tendency to raise your prospects’ propensity scores; any automation you have in place can be applied to customize how your users are marketed to, and push them toward that piece of content. But what predictive analytics can’t tell you is whether there might be other traffic sources you haven’t tried yet that would be a good fit for that content. Using your experience and brainstorming capabilities, you can identify other potential markets for that content, feed them into your model, and see how the exposure changes things.

Your goal in working with these kinds of models must always be to find insights like these and test them to see if the results are as expected. If your model runs on autopilot it will not discover any new opportunities alone.

Search Engine Watch