Nobody ever said SEO was easy. It not only requires a myriad of different methods that evolve over time and follow no particular pattern, but is also impacted by ever-changing search engine policies.
Yet SEO is actually quite methodical. While you will need to mix and combine multiple on-page, off-page, local and other factors to come up with an effective SEO strategy, you can’t just start anywhere. You must prioritize tasks — from basic to advanced SEO — to succeed.
If you do not begin by laying a foundation, you will end up spending a lot of time without achieving the results you need to support your bottom line.
Set up and check SEO tools
SEO deals with data, so your first priority should be to make sure your tools to collect and analyze that data are working properly. The most important are:
Keyword research is the foundation of all SEO activity. Once you have ensured that your SEO tools do their jobs, figure out which keywords you need to optimize for and which errors you need to fix to avoid penalties. There are three key areas to keep in mind:
To improve your site’s rankings in search engines, you must provide clear signals that your pages are better than those of your competitors. In other words, you need to excel at on-page SEO. Here are some key areas to focus on:
In this article the author has shared his perspectives on the most important SEO tasks with regard to SEO tools, keyword research, and on-page optimization factors.
These three areas are the foundation of any SEO campaign as will they allow you to efficiently collect and analyze data, optimize the keywords your customers search for (and thus drive targeted traffic), and enhance your website by optimizing URLs, tags, descriptions, structure, navigation and UX.
Other areas to keep in mind are technical SEO (specifically, the factors related to mobile-friendliness and loading speed), content, and off-page optimization. These will be discussed in the next article.
Whether you’ve just started with PPC or work in the industry for years, you still remember a mistake that you’ve never thought you could make. After all, human errors are part of our nature.
Every PPC professional is guilty of making at least one mistake at some point. Whether it was important or not, it’s good to recognise it to make sure you’re not repeating it.
We’ve decided to focus on the most common mistakes you can make when it comes to PPC and here’s a list that can serve as your next checklist on the mistakes you need to avoid.
Wrong targeting and bidding
An important part of a successful PPC strategy is the right targeting. Just because you have the ideal target audience in mind from previous campaigns doesn’t mean that you can guarantee future success.
The wrong audience for a particular campaign or objective cannot bring the desired results, that’s why you need to be careful when setting up your targeting options.
For example, you can narrow down your audience by selecting to use the option of ‘target and bid’. This option allows you to reach the people who are on your retargeting list without wasting your budget on users who wouldn’t meet your criteria. However, it’s common to overlook this tactic to use the ‘bid only’ option that can lead to confusing results, from lower traffic to expensive ads.
Another way to make a targeting error can occur if you’re not excluding the people you don’t want to reach. If you are remarking to a particular audience and you don’t narrow down your options, you risk paying more without seeing the desired goals. In a similar way, if you choose to create multiple lists for your remarking strategy, you may risk reaching the same audience several times, which will increase the total cost of your campaign.
Solution: Create a plan for your targeting and double-check all the options to ensure that you’re optimising your audience as much as possible. Keep an eye on your campaign once it starts to monitor the initial results.
Wrong use of keywords
Most PPC professionals focus on keywords to discover new opportunities for success. How often do you evaluate your keyword strategy though?
It’s common to assume that some tactics perform better than others, but it’s still useful to evaluate the results.
For example, you may be focusing on keywords that are too broad. This can be a good idea, but it can also a more expensive option. You can test long-tail keywords as a more cost-effective option that can lead to improved results in competitive industries.
Another common mistake is to ignore the use of negative keywords. It’s easy to forget them, but this can also affect your campaign results. Use them as part of your strategy to filter the keywords you don’t need to avoid paying for unwanted clicks.
Last but not least, many companies forget to bid on their own branded keywords. It may sound confusing or unnecessary, but if your competitors bid on your brand’s keywords, then you may miss on prospects who were willing to learn more about your business.
Solution: Pay close attention to your keyword choices and find the ones that work better for your plans.
A good PPC strategy requires a great landing page. However, it’s common to design a landing page independently from the PPC ads, which leads to several possible inconsistencies:
Your landing page should be an extension of your PPC ads. There needs to be a continuity that starts with design and UX and moves to the brand, the messaging and the KPIs.
For example, you cannot create a PPC campaign that focuses on increasing sales and then create a landing page that doesn’t facilitate a quick shopping option.
Similarly, you cannot target a younger audience without testing your landing page across or devices.
These mistakes can also affect your Quality Score from Google that has to do with the relevance of your ads and your landing pages. This could risk paying more to reach your target audience and it’s a mistake that you don’t want to commit in the future.
When it comes to the messaging, your PPC ads should not trick your target audience to click into something that’s completely irrelevant to them. You need to create a sequence that will add value to make the next steps seem logical. It’s about tapping into the psychology of the user to blend UX and advertising to generate the best results.
Solution: The next time you’re about to set up a landing page, compare it with your involved PPC ads and ensure that the copy and the design are consistent. Use the landing pages to guide your visitors on a journey that will bring them closer to your desired goals.
The best way to avoid making common PPC mistakes is to optimise your strategy depending on your needs. Pay close attention to your goals and adjust the targeting, the bidding, the budget and your copy accordingly.
What’s important is to understand all the important factors that can harm your PPC strategy to ensure that you minimise the risks of any possible future mistakes.
When running paid campaigns on both search and social, it’s imperative to take all learnings from each channel and apply them to the other. This allows you to take an holistic view of your marketing efforts and optimize each channel with insights you wouldn’t get by keeping things in silos.
Search is all about capturing those who have intent related to what you’re selling. Extrapolating and recognizing the audiences expressing that intent should be your goal when it comes to gathering search engine marketing (SEM) learnings.
This article covers some of the easiest ways to gather learnings from SEM and leverage them in paid social.
Pull demographic data
As you run your search campaigns and collect significant data, you should pull in insights on gender, age, household income, and parental status. Google automatically segments out different brackets within these categories to provide insight into how each performs (e.g. how males behave versus females, or ages 18–29 behave versus ages 30–39).
As you gather this data, you can then determine which demographics are converting on your ads and which demographics are poor performers. This will be vital when you craft your audiences to target on social – where you can go after your top performing ages, genders and household incomes, while excluding poor performers. It allows you to be efficient with your budgets based on information you’ve already gathered.
Pull geo data
Similarly, you should take a look at geo data:
Group together geos with similar performance, and leverage that in your social targeting.
For example, imagine you sell luxury home furniture. Using your search data, you have found that your audiences tend to be middle-aged females. Top performing geos are the coastal states; the Midwest performs ok; and the southern states have the worst performance. Segment out ad sets into two groups of geo-targets for your various audiences: one goes after the coastal states, and the other goes after the Midwest. Adjust your budget and bids according to expected performance, then optimize as the social data comes in.
There is, however, one caveat to this: don’t get so granular that audience sizes get too small (segmenting your audiences at the state level based on performance could significantly reduce audience sizes). However, what we have noticed with Facebook is that the smaller the audience, the higher the cost per click (CPC) tends to be. By grouping similarly performing geos together, you are able to retain control over performance yet reap the benefits of moderate CPCs.
Modify social ad copy with search insights
You should always be testing different messaging and copy themes on search. Once winners are validated, transfer those themes into your social ads. They may work as well, worse, or better, but you’ll have a good idea that the message will resonate.
Use Google’s audience insights tool to inform paid social
Take your top converting audiences within Google and run an analysis on the audience insights tool to get additional information about who they are, which can be extremely valuable across channels:
You can then directly take that information and begin crafting audiences to test within social platforms such as Facebook, Pinterest and Instagram. As a result, your search campaigns will being doing double for your spend: they’re getting you direct responses and helping optimize your performance on other major platforms.
The vast potential to create, interact and educate with augmented reality (AR) is quickly gaining popularity. In the past, AR gained media attention for simply existing, but recently, companies have been applying the strategy to their marketing campaigns and reaping the rewards.
As we move further into the digital world, the benefits of implementing AR are staggering. For instance, AR has an average dwell time of 75 seconds – affording companies an unprecedented chance to appeal to their consumers. Flow Digital, a Newcastle-based digital marketing company, are sharing why 2018 is the takeover of the media channel, and what it means for the future.
The statistics driving AR
In the past two years, the AR industry has experienced unprecedented growth. We can largely attribute the early success to the pioneers of AR, Pokémon Go which became the most downloaded app in 2016 with over 750 million to date.
By 2020, the number of AR users is expected to surpass one billion and by 2021, the market for AR, and VR, is estimated to reach $215bn. The benefits of implementing AR are reason enough in these statistics – particularly for e-commerce, marketing and automotive brands which are the industries that experience the largest growth with the communication tool.
Ikea Place demonstrated the potential for the natural partnership of AR and retail. Since launching in 2017 – using Apple’s ARKit tech – the Ikea Place has been downloaded two million times. The potential for allowing users to actually see what items look like in their home will significantly boost revenue.
Similarly, AR provides companies with the opportunity to target impulse shoppers. If you can showcase how their life can vastly improve with this cactus plant on their new coffee table (no doubt that it will), you can catch them before they even realised the need for such a product.
Estée Lauder recently rolled out AR into their marketing campaign – adopting the ‘try before you buy’ method. Users could ‘try’ various makeup products using their Facebook messenger chatbot, with the company experiencing a rise in social media engagement.
However, it’s important to note the limitations in an AR world for both e-commerce and marketing. While we can certainly appeal to more consumers and provide the ‘wow factor’ so many prospects look for, we must take into account the lack of adverts. Marketing ads and header bidding do not have a place in augmented reality, so companies will have to get creative.
Take the example of Pepsi, turning the average bus shelter into a fake window. Relying on a camera to capture people and vehicles in the street, they showcased images of crashing comets, a rogue cheetah and a man flying away while holding onto balloons. While it may not have been your ‘typical’ advertisement for the drink, the ad certainly proved engaging.
Future of video content
Video content has certainly seen a boom – particularly because of an increasing number of Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram users. Today, there are more than 22m daily views on Facebook, Snapchat and YouTube, with the number continuing to grow.
360-degree views are universally appealing, enabling users to go behind-the-scenes with the brand. If there’s anything we can guarantee, it’s that consumers love a nosy. Typically, videos afford companies 2.5 seconds to catch the attention of their prospects. However, AR provides brands with an average of 75 seconds dwell time, offering a staggering amount of time to share relevant content.
We have touched on implementing AR above, and the reasons for doing so are almost endless. Essentially, you are bringing your products and services to life. A static digital advert becomes an interactive catalogue or brochure. In doing so, you are improving the experience of communicating with your brand, leaving more information at their disposal and helping them to make informed decisions. In return, you should see a substantial lift in consumers trusting your company, word-of-mouth sales and potentially ROI.
Social media will only benefit from AR. It’s likely that consumers will share their interactions with your brand on their social platforms – particularly with a specific hashtag – and thus build your following. There is also the opportunity for partnerships with social media platforms. For example, Fanta partnered with Snapchat for their Halloween campaign, offering users a unique Snapchat filter if they scan their limited edition cans.
In simple terms, using AR helps to build transparency. All successful relationships start with trust, and you can even take your customer behind-the-scenes with this communication channel. Share how the product was made, guide them through the delivery process and we can guarantee you will see an increase in interaction.
Partnership of AR and PR
There is a natural partnership between AR and the PR industry, for which we could see an increase in the use of the marketing channel for events. Something as small as including a QR code to your event invite – producing a unique illustration or even animated brand logo – creates a layer of interest. Similarly, product launches can experience the benefit. If you can take your audience into the augmented world, highlighting the key features of your product, you will likely see results. Perhaps, rather than share the product in detail, you could leave a trail of breadcrumbs. Each time a QR code is scanned, more is revealed about the product.
AR transforming other industries
E-commerce and marketing are industries experiencing a boom due to AR, but the medical sector is also seeing the technological advancements. Go Surgery, the brainchild behind Touch Surgery, offers step-by-step guides to performing surgical procedures, as if in real time. The procedure is holographically projected onto a screen. Likewise, the Microsoft HoloLens AR glasses have been used to aid in reconstructive surgery.
One industry in particular which should reap the benefits from the rise of video content is hospitality. For example, guests can explore the rooms before booking and companies can even go so far as to allow guests to review the room when using the app. Likewise, restaurants can share the experience of dining with the through AR.
Companies, such as WayRay, are offering Navion, a system that directs you while you drive. Basically, it’s like Google Maps on the road, but you don’t have to keep looking at the Sat Nav. Navion shows exactly where you want to go, continually adjusting to anything in front of the car.
Ultimately, AR spells the dawn of a different age. Those companies who embrace and adapt will certainly see the rewards, especially when labelled pioneers of the channel.
ClickZ, Search Engine Watch’s sister site, has launched an innovative new series of buyers guides, created with the aim of cutting through the complexity of the technology landscape to help our community of readers to make better decisions about vendors.
The second guide in the series is dedicated to enterprise SEO tools.
With $80 billion predicted to be spent on SEO services annually by 2020, these software packages play a vital role in helping marketers derive insights from masses of data.
The core component (60%) of the ClickZ SEO tools vendor guide scoring comes from our customer survey, which received over 1200 responses and evaluated technologies across the following six areas:
Scores were awarded across 36 sub-categories, with six grouped under each of the categories highlighted in the image above.
A further 20% of the scoring came from the ClickZ expert advisory board, which features representatives from Vodafone, LEGO, GroupM, and Macy’s.
The author attended interview sessions with all six vendors in the guide, along with at least one other member of the advisory board. The output of these interviews were scores that make up the final 20% of the results seen in the guide.
Ahrefs: Company Profile
Ahrefs has quickly become a staple of many SEO toolkits, based on the depth of its backlink data and the comprehensive nature of its site audit capabilities.
This came through in our survey, with 80% of Ahrefs users stating that they use the tool for backlink tracking. Its approach to this field is sophisticated, taking into account the traffic that backlinks refer to a domain rather than focusing purely on the acquisition of a link in itself. Furthermore, the Ahrefs database has link data from over 220 billion pages across more than 200 billion domains, with 4.1 million pages crawled every minute.
The new technical SEO audit tool is a significant improvement to the platform and helps to position Ahrefs as a real contender in this space. This feature scored particularly well with our panel of industry experts.
Moreover, Ahrefs is undoubtedly one of the most comprehensive solutions on the market for keyword research and analysis. Its vast database contains over 6 billion keywords and, combined with a user-friendly interface, this makes it a reliable and helpful platform for both novice and advanced SEOs.
The Ahrefs content index contains over 907 million pages too, which allows for sophisticated and in-depth content ideation. The full scale of the Ahrefs databases can be discovered here.
With a range of further innovations in the pipeline, the company’s ambition now is to provide a comprehensive SEO solution to compete with the established enterprise tools. Built on a robust dataset and an increasingly lengthy list of useful performance tools, Ahrefs is in a great position to become a leader in the enterprise SEO space.
Ahrefs: The ClickZ Customer Survey Results
The three areas in which Ahrefs received its highest scores from current customers were backlinks, site audits, and keyword research. In fact, it was the highest scorer out of all the technologies we reviewed for its site audit capabilities.
Ahrefs has continually built out its list of features to encompass all of the areas that matter to the modern search professional. As the platform evolves over time, its commitment to delivering the most consistent and insightful data to customers remains very much intact.
This begins with keyword research, where this vendor boasts a database of almost 6 billion keywords. This was reflected in its scores for this category, which were high for both keyword research and keyword suggestions. Ahrefs also provides users with access to sophisticated SERP analysis tools, which allow for in-depth analysis of performance by content type.
Ahrefs’ Content Explorer tool, which uses data from backlinks, search traffic, and social shares to analyze topics, was a core reason for the platform’s high score for content ideation. The Buzzsumo-esque feature helps with long-tail keyword research, as well as highlighting the topics that resonate with different audiences. As SEO continues to converge with content marketing, this tool proves invaluable for their customers.
It was perhaps no surprise that Ahrefs was a leader in the backlinks section of our guide, as the company established itself on the SEO tools scene based on the strength of its backlink index. Ahrefs has since evolved into a range of new areas and is perhaps underestimated in this regard, but it is worth stating that backlink analysis remains a particularly impressive area of the platform.
This vendor scored well for the reliability of its link tracking and competitor analysis features, too. Ahrefs also contains a proprietary metric to calculate the strength of a website based on the quality and quantity of inbound links it receives, known as Domain Rating.
Overall, this platform provides excellent value for money, with monthly packages available at $99, $179, $399, and $999. A 20% discount is also offered when companies sign up to an annual package.
Ahrefs is also at the forefront of innovation with many of its features, so these packages provide access to a lot of insightful tools for a relatively low level of investment.
Across our panel of experts and a large quantity of current customers, Ahrefs scored very well across all categories and was seen by many as an indispensable SEO tool.
Appearing in local searches is something businesses need to be taking very seriously. The rise of mobile has made this concept even more prevalent. In fact, a study by Google found that 88% of ‘near me’ searches were conducted on a mobile device.
It’s important to realize that ranking on a local search (in any capacity) is no overnight job. Local SEO is extremely competitive and when it comes to any sort of SEO strategy, there is one thing to keep in mind: it changes constantly.
There are many different factors that come into play when etching out a name for yourself in the local market. Here are eight fundamental steps to get you started.
Prioritize titles and meta description tags
Titles and meta description tags are customizable elements that let users know what your website, or webpages, are about. Remember, most users scan the results of online searches very quickly, so these descriptions should be concise and easily absorbed.
When looking at title tags:
If you use WordPress, you can easily preview and analyze the descriptions of your web pages using the Yoast SEO Plugin.
If you want to attract local searches, be sure to include the name of the city or geographic area that you are targeting and try to position the keyword as near to the beginning as possible.
Writing titles and meta descriptions is an art form: you need to make every single element matter.
Use online directories and citations
Businesses now have access to all sorts of high-traffic online directories, including:
Getting your business listed on these sites is one of the best ways to improve local rankings. The primary bits of information to register are:
Be sure to update these accurately and consistently across the respective directories. Any errors or differentiation that make the information tough for Google to determine can have serious negative effects.
Google My Business: claim and optimize
Other than the major directory sites, one of the most important things local businesses can do is claim their company on Google My Business. If properly optimized, this is an incredible opportunity to gain exposure on the Google 3-Pack.
The verification process is simple. Google will send you a PIN to verify your business, then all you need to do is log in to Google My Business and enter the PIN number. This proves to Google that your business is legitimate. Once verified, you can optimize your description and all the necessary information to help customers learn more.
Actively pursue online reviews
It’s no secret that online reviews play a big role in purchasing decisions these days. In fact, studies have found that 84% of consumers trust them, just as much as personal recommendations.
Google also recognizes their importance and factors them into your rankings. Therefore, getting positive reviews needs to be something you are consistently pursuing. Keep in mind that you may need to ask customer to complete a review. You should also consider doing the following:
Social media and Google are the primary channels people look to in terms of reading reviews.
Your business’ Facebook and Google My Business pages are the two areas in which you should be focusing the bulk of your efforts – as reviews here are influential in boosting online visibility.
Produce local content
If you want to rank locally, you must produce high quality content that pertains to your area of operation. This can be through blog posts, online Q&As, or any other type of page that is specific to the local area. For written content, it’s best to keep the length in the ballpark of 1000 words.
When writing content, there are a number of factors to think about:
If you have a number of different locations, it’s a wise move to set up separate landing pages for each.
Creating and distributing branded content is one of the key methods for differentiating yourself in the market. With whatever you produce, be sure your messaging is relevant, informative, and actionable.
Use local structured data markup
Structured data markup, or ‘schema markup’, is a code added to your website that gives the search engine robots the necessary information about your business. This can be in relation to the products or services you offer, reviews, or what your content is about, for example.
As barely 30% of the businesses do this, adding appropriate markup is one of the best ways to make a local business stand out among the crowd. Google has a user-friendly testing tool that allows you to check your markup and ensure it’s implemented correctly. Google’s Data Highlighter also makes this process even easier.
Local SEO is all about making life more convenient for the users. This concept also applies to the search engine crawlers.
Be socially active
Social media is dominating the business atmosphere for business and consumers alike. With nearly one third of the world’s population being active on at least one of the major platforms, businesses need to make it a point to remain active, especially within their local market. There are many things you can do in this regard.
Search engines like to see that you are taking the time to engage with the world around you and on social media. In return, your profile will be more visible to local users. If you’re not taking advantage of this, it’s a safe bet that your competitors are.
Show community spirit
Long before the days of the internet, showing interest in the local community was one of the best ways to gain exposure, build relationships, and convey what the main purpose of your business. This idea still holds true, even today; the only difference is that the tools and landscapes to do so are different.
There are all kinds of activities that you can use to get your name out there in the community. Sponsoring events from time to time is a great way to get mentioned in local content/news. Making it clear that you are dedicated to serving the area can be an influential factor in improving your rankings.
Over to you
Following these steps to improve local SEO is not a one-off action; ranking high in the SERPS requires strong and persistent efforts. Furthermore, you will need to keep an eye out for new trends and how to capitalize accordingly. As the search engines are constantly changing, knowing what to do when an update is rolled out should be pre-defined.
Manish Dudharejia is the President and Founder of E2M Solutions Inc.
We’ve previously covered HTML meta tags & meta tags here and in some depth here, but as with most things in SEO, it’s an ever-changing landscape and the accepted usage and definitions of tags is often changing.
It’s worth mentioning that if you’re in this realm of SEO optimization, you should also be getting the low-down and implementing structured data to ensure crawlers get the best experience possible.
HTML meta tags vs meta tags – what’s the deal?
Firstly, it’s time to clear up some of the confusion around HTML meta tags and meta tags. The difference between the two tag types is largely arbitrary, with the syntax for an HTML meta tag meaning it’ll contain the word meta within it, whereas a tag defined as a meta tag doesn’t necessarily have to.
The decision for which do or don’t are defined by W3C and are open to change over time, however, what’s important for us to remember is that they both serve the same purpose, that is which is that they are used to provide search engines with information about a web page
Sidenote: Some people include header tags as meta tags, but as they describe one element of a page, not the contents of a page as a whole, we’ve decided to leave them out. However, it goes without saying that ensuring you’re optimizing your header tags will help search engines, and more importantly users, understand what your content is about.
With that cleared up, we can get down to business and take a look at a selection of both HTML and meta tags that we think are useful when performing SEO.
So to start off on the wrong foot, the Hreflang tag isn’t technically a tag. It is an attribute, but it is an important attribute that can help tell Google which language you’re content is using on a webpage.
If you have a site which uses multiple translations, or that serves different territories, you should definitely use Hreflang to ensure that the correct language version is being served in the correct versions of Google. This can help search engines rank your content better, and more importantly ensures users in different territories get the right experience.
An example code snippet for targeting a webpage at English language users in the UK:
<link rel=”alternate” href=”http://example.com” hreflang=”en-gb” />
Another very important one is the canonical tag. Set it up incorrectly and you risk losing visibility in the SERPs and causing real issues for your site. Used correctly, however, it’s a great way of telling search engines that a webpage URL is the defacto version. It’s the best way to avoid duplicate content issues on your site, caused by search engines crawling multiple URLs that contain the same or close to identical content on them.
In general, if a search engine finds multiple URLs with identical content, it’ll have a harder job determining which is the original and which is the duplicate. This can lead to lower rankings for both, or worse, an important page won’t rank.
An example code snippet for canonical tag use:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com” />
Content type tag
The content type tag is used for defining a pages content type and the character set it uses. Using this helps your browser understand and decode a page, and is therefore important.
An example code snippet for content type tag use:
<meta http-equiv=”Content-Type” content=”text/html; charset=utf-8″ />
Probably one of the more recognizable and used tags for anyone carrying out SEO work. The title tag is used to specify what the web page is about. They’re displayed in your browser tab to give users a steer, and more importantly are used by search engines to generate the results we see in the SERPs.
From an SEO perspective, optimizing your title tag to contain topics/keywords information about the contents on the page can help to improve your rankings for those topics/keywords. Currently you can expect Google to display between 50-60 characters of your title before it’s truncated, so keep an eye on length when writing these.
An example code snippet for the title tag, which sits within the head tag at the top of your webpage:
<title>Example.com | The best examples on the web</title>
Meta description tag
Similar to the title tag, the meta description tag is well known and provides you with an opportunity to tell search engines and users in the SERPs what your webpage content is about. While not a direct ranking factor, you should optimize your meta description to provide a compelling succinct account of your web pages content.
If Google doesn’t think you’ve done a good enough job, they may choose to replace your meta description tag with their own interpretation, often using content from the opening few paragraphs of your site.
An example code snippet for meta description tag:
<meta name=”description” content=”This is a meta description”>
The viewport tag is a useful tag for helping browsers understand and control the dimensions of your web page.
In the past, there was no need for this tag as everyone viewed webpages on desktop on similar sized displays, but with the rise and rise of mobile and tablet usage, many of which have different dimensions, it’s now more important to ensure that you’re telling the browser this information.
Correct implementation of the viewport tag will ensure that users experience your site in the correct way, and if there are
An example code snippet for the viewport meta tag:
<meta name=”viewport” content=”width=device-width, initial-scale=1″>
Robots meta tags
There’s a large number of robot meta tags you can use, all of which will help search engine crawlers do their job of crawling and indexing web pages across the internet. Not all search engines will follow all commands, but below are a few examples of robot meta tags and what they ask the crawlers to do:
An example code snippet for the robot meta tag:
<meta name=”robot” content=”noindex, nofollow”>
Open graph (OG) meta tags for social
Finally, we have the OG meta tags for social. While less a direct focus for SEO, ensuring you have correctly implemented OG meta tags for social can help ensure your content looks great when it’s shared, can help to improve engagement with posts and ultimately increase traffic.
<meta property=”og:title” content=”Article about tags”/>
Needless to say, there are a range of other tags you can use on your website, and this list isn’t exhaustive, but hopefully gives you a steer on some of the more important and useful tags you can use on your website to make it the experience better for both search engines and crawlers.
Joshua is an SEO specialist and strategist at atom42
Of course this is happening on desktop, but how the SERPs are being displayed across mobile devices deserves special attention from marketers. It’s a space that presents its own challenges and opportunities. It is also highly competitive and evolving in a unique way.
One such change to Google’s mobile SERPs in recent months is the launch of its ‘More Results’ button (MR). I spoke to Adthena’s Ashley Fletcher about the MR tweak, his reaction to it, and how he sees mobile search changing throughout 2018 and beyond.
Fletcher’s interest in the evolving landscape of the SERPs goes back 13 years to when SEO was in its infancy. Since then, he has worked within agencies, on the client side at Criteo and Beatthatquote, at Google itself (launching its insurance comparison tools in the US and UK), and now at Adthena as VP of marketing.
Adthena specializes in competitive intelligence – using artificial intelligence (AI) and gathering unparalleled levels of data about the SERPs. “There’s so many moving parts in paid search campaigns at scale,” Fletcher tells me. “Retailers might have 1000 product lines. That’s 1000 battlegrounds. AI and tech helps give a clear picture of these battlegrounds.”
Decluttering the SERPs
The quest for clarity amid the SERPs is not exclusive for companies like Adthena and its clients however. Google’s decision to include the MR button could well be partly attributed to cleaning up the mobile search space. This is something Fletcher agrees with, and it is in keeping with other tweaks from the search giant.
“It’s quite a subtle change,” he says. “But there’s such an influx of ad units on mobile SERPs, it is quite cluttered. It seems the MR button is part of a bigger move by Google to streamline the mobile SERPs.”
We know that user experience is high on Google’s agenda. A more efficient UX on the SERPs gets us to the information we desire, the product we want, or the destination we want to visit as soon as possible. This keeps us satisfied and keen to return to Google again, and again, down the line.
Fletcher notes more than a passing resemblance between the MR button and the way content is navigated by users on social media. “We’re seeing Google trying to encourage a sort of infinity loop,” he says. “It’s a single page UX more like what we see on the Facebook newsfeed or on Instagram. Users – and mobile users especially – are now very used to scrolling the same page forever rather than clicking through numerous pages.”
This is a curious realization. The notion of Google wanting users to ‘scroll forever’ is surely counter to the overarching agenda of keeping things as efficient as possible.
But as Fletcher highlights, sometimes the SERP doesn’t do the job and the MR button is a faster way of perusing other search results. It is more in-keeping with dominant trends of mobile navigation, and thus more accepted. There is now no need to load page two of the SERPs. “Page 2 is a graveyard anyway,” Fletcher says.
Impacts: clicks, rankings and happier users
The MR button is quite a subtle design change on Google’s mobile SERPs, but Fletcher and Adthena are already noticing a change in CTRs.
“We’re expecting CTRs to climb on paid and organic listings,” Fletcher says. “It’s what we’re seeing in our latest Paid Search Benchmark report and I would think it will continue.”
Indeed, Adthena’s recently published benchmark is already seeing average CTRs up 10% toward the end of 2017, compared to around 3% for desktops. As the report states, it’s “a measure of the robustness of paid search, and an indicator that advertisers are continuing to get value from the channel”.
If it continues, this will be welcome news to search marketers and SEOs who are striving to ensure their content is getting clicks and keeping users engaged.
“Google rewards pages with good high CTRs and low bounce rates,” Fletcher adds. “And the overall result is simpler SERPs and happier users.”
Takeaways: mobile search is still a battleground
While the MR button has – in effect – eliminated the second page (and beyond) of mobile SERPs, it will still be best practice for marketers to want to be visible above it in the same way page one is still favoured on desktop.
As Fletcher points out: “Beyond the ‘more results’ button is still a graveyard. Search advertisers know this, and they know that they still have to keep up to retain visibility above the fold.”
With the addition of features such as the MR button, the number of battlegrounds that search marketers need to have an understanding and clear view of is not going down – whether across mobile or desktop, more numerous key phrases, within paid search, in organic listings, or across maps on a local and even hyperlocal level.
The SERPs are continuing to diversify, but ultimately, the users are reaping the benefit. With tweaks like MR, Google as a tool is even more efficient and intuitive. The power of mobile search – even with the limitations of the small screen – is being further refined to meet its capabilities.
We recently caught up with Clark Boyd, a visual search expert and regular contributor to Search Engine Watch. We discussed camera-based visual search – that futuristic technology that allows you to search the physical world with your smartphone – what it means for the way search is changing, and whether we’re going to see it become truly commonplace any time soon.
In case any of our readers aren’t up to speed on what ‘camera-based visual search’ actually is, we’re talking about technology like Google Lens and Pinterest Lens; you can point your smartphone camera at an object, the app will recognize it, and then perform a search for you based on what it identifies.
So you can point it at, for example, a pair of red shoes, the technology will recognize that these are red shoes, and it’ll pull up search results – such as shopping listings – for similar-looking pairs of shoes.
In other words, if you’ve ever been out and about and seen someone with a really cool piece of clothing that you wish you could buy for yourself – now you can.
First of all – what’s your personal take on camera-based visual search – the likes of Google Lens and Pinterest Lens? Do you use these technologies often?
I have used visual search on Google, Pinterest, and Amazon quite a lot. For those that haven’t used these yet, you can do so within the Google Lens app (now available on iOS), the Pinterest app, and the Amazon app too.
In essence, I can point my smartphone at an object and the app will interpret it based on what it sees, but also what it assumes I want to know.
With Google, that can mean additional information about landmarks pulled from the Knowledge Graph or it might show me Shopping links. On Pinterest it could show recipes if I look at some ingredients, or it can go deeper to look at the style of a piece of furniture, for example. Amazon is a bit more straightforward in that it will show me similar products.
I suppose that visual search is best summarized by saying it’s there when we don’t have the words to describe what we want to know. That could be an item of clothing, or we could be looking for inspiration – we know what the item is, but we aren’t 100% sure what would go with it.
Recently, I have been both decorating a house and planning my wedding. As a colorblind luddite with more enthusiasm than taste, I can use visual search to help me plan. Simply typing a text search for [armchairs] is going to lead me nowhere; scanning a chair I like to find similar items and also complementary ones is genuinely useful for me.
At the moment, this works best on Pinterest. It uses contextual signals (Pins, boards, feedback from similar users) to pick up on the esthetic elements of an object, beyond just shape and color. Design patterns and texture are used to deliver nuanced and satisfactory items in response to a query.
What’s interesting is that camera-based searches on Pinterest deliver different results to text-based searches for similar items. Basically, visual search can often lead to better results on Pinterest. That’s not the case on Google yet, but that’s where they are aiming to get to.
And that’s the key, really: in some contexts, visual search adds value for the user. It’s easy to use and can lead to better results. There are now over 600,000,000 visual searches on Pinterest every month, so it seems people are really starting to engage with the technology.
To my mind, that is what will give visual search longevity. It mimics our thought process and augments it, too; visual search opens up a whole new repository of information for us.
Camera-based visual search has some fairly obvious applications in the realm of ecommerce, for example where you can see something while you’re on the go and instantly pull up search results showing you how to buy it. But do you think there are any other big potential uses for visual search?
I think there are lots of potential uses, yes; in fact, even the ecommerce example really only scratches the surface.
Where visual search comes into its own, and I think goes beyond the realm of the purely novel, is when it suggests new ideas that people have not yet thought of.
Pinterest’s Lens the Look tool is a great example. I could search for shoes and find the pair I wanted, but Pinterest can also suggest an outfit that would go with the shoes too. This then becomes more of an ongoing conversation.
The new app from fashion retailer ASOS will likely go in this direction too, and I expect sites like Zara and H&M to follow suit. IKEA has its AR-tinged effort too, which allows people to see how the furniture will look. Although in my experience, it will lie in a million pieces for days until I figure out how to put it all together!
We should always consider that visual search exists at a very clear intersection of the physical and the digital. As a result, we should also think about the ways in which we can make it easier for people to enhance their experience of our stores through visual search.
We have seen things like QR codes linger without ever really taking off here, and Pinterest has launched Pincodes as a way to try and get people to engage.
Google has started adding features like this to its Lens tool, and the recent announcement about voice-activated Shopping through Google Express is another step in that direction.
The core of this is really to get people on board first and foremost, and then to introduce more overt forms of ecommerce.
Beyond that, visual search can allow us to take better pictures. Google has demonstrated forthcoming versions of Lens that will automatically detect and remove obstructions from images, and input Wifi codes just by showing the camera the password.
What we’re really looking for are those intangibles that only an image can get close to capturing. So anything related to style or design, such as the visual arts or even tattoos (the most searched for ‘item’ on Pinterest visual search), will be a natural fit.
Search has been a fantastic medium when we want to locate a product or service. That input format limits its reach, however. If search is to continue expanding, it must become a more comprehensive resource, actively searching on our behalf before we provide explicit instruction.
We’ve seen a lot of development in the realm of visual search over the past couple of years, with tech companies like Google, Pinterest and Bing emerging as front-runners in the field. Google acquired an image recognition start-up, and Pinterest hired a new Head of Search and started more seriously developing its search capabilities. What do you think could be coming next for visual search?
First of all, the technology will keep improving in accuracy.
Acquisitions will likely be a part of this process. Pinterest’s early success can be put down to personnel and business strategy, but they also bought Kosei in 2015 to help understand and categorize images.
I would expect Google to put a lot of resource into integrating visual search with its other products, like Google Maps and Shopping. The recent I/O developers conference provided some tantalizing glimpses of where this will lead us.
Lens is already built into the Pixel 2 camera, which makes it much easier to access, but it still isn’t integrated with other products in a truly intuitive way. People are impressed when their smartphone can recognize objects, but that capability doesn’t really add long-term value.
So, we will see a more accurate interpretation of images and, therefore, more varied and useful results.
To go back to the example of my attempts to help furnish an apartment, I don’t think where we are today is by any means the fulfillment of visual search’s promise. I can certainly imagine a future where I can use visual search to scan the space in my living room, take into account the dimensions and act as my virtual interior designer, recommending designs that fit with my preferences and budget. AR technology would let me see how this will look before I buy and also save the image so I can come back to it.
The technologies to do that either exist or are getting to an acceptable level of accuracy. Combined, they could form a virtual interior design suite that either brands or search engines could use.
A gap still remains between the search engine and the content it serves, however.
For this to function, brands need to play their part too. There are plentiful best practices for optimizing for Pinterest search and all visual search engines make use of contextual signals and metadata to understand what they are looking at.
One way this could happen is when brands team up with influencers to showcase their products. As long as their full range is tied thematically to the products on show, these can be served to consumers as options for further ideas.
In summary, I think the technology has a bit of development still to come, but we need to meet the machine learning algorithms halfway by giving them the right data to work with. Pinterest has used over one billion images in its training set, for example. That means taking ownership of all online real estate and identifying opportunities for our content to surface through related results.
The advertising side of this will come, of course (and Pinterest is evolving its product all the time), but for this to come to fruition it also requires a shift in mindset from the advertisers themselves. The most sophisticated search marketers are already looking at ways to move beyond text-based results and start using search as a full-funnel marketing channel.
We’ve been talking about visual search mostly in the context of smartphones, as currently that’s the technology most immediately suited to searching the physical world, given that all smartphones these days have built-in cameras.
But what about other gadgets? We’re seeing a lot of companies at the moment who are developing smart glasses or AR glasses – Snap, Intel, Toshiba came out with a pair just a few months ago – could visual search find a natural home there?
I’m not sure we’ve seen the end of Google Glass, actually. I really don’t think Google is finished in that area and it does make sense to have visual search incorporated directly into our field of vision.
The most likely area to take off here in terms of usage in the short-term is actually for the visually impaired. There are smart glasses that use artificial intelligence (AI) to perform visual searches on objects and highlight immediately what they are seeing.
Those are from a company called Poly, who are doing a range of interesting things in this space.
We think of devices that we wear or actively use, but that may not even be the long-term future of visual search. Poly has also developed visual search technology that works in stores. It can keep track of inventory levels automatically, but also detects who is in the store by linking with the Bluetooth connection in their phone.
Things like face IDs on smartphones along with Apple/Google Pay really help to create this potential use.
So the visual search exists at a higher level, it detects who is in the store, and it adds items to their basket as they pick them up. When the person leaves, they are charged via Apple/Google Pay or similar. So a bit like the Amazon Go stores, but using visual search to scan the store and see who is there and what they buy.
The cost for doing this has reduced dramatically, so it would now be possible for smaller stores to engage with this technology. Where that has potential to take off is in its introduction of a friction-free shopping experience.
That’s just one potential use, but it highlights how visual search can lead to much bigger opportunities for retailers and customers.
How close we are to that reality depends on people’s proclivity to accept that level of surveillance.
The most futuristic technology in the world is no good if no-one is using it, and we’ve seen much-vaunted tech advancements flop before – speaking of smart glasses, Google Glass is a good example of that. So what would you say are the immediate barriers to the more widespread adoption of visual search? What kind of timeline are we looking at for visual search entering the mainstream – if indeed it ever does?
With voice search, it was always stated that 95% accuracy would be the point at which people would use the technology. I don’t think there have been excessive studies into visual search yet, but that should come soon. With increased accuracy will come widespread awareness of the potential uses of visual search.
The short-term focus really has to be on making the technology as useful as it can be.
Once the technology gets closer to that 95% accuracy mark, the key test will be whether novelty use turns into habit. The fact that over 600,000,000 visual searches take place on Pinterest each month suggests we are quickly reaching that point.
It also has to be easy to access visual search, because the moments in which we want to use it can be quite fleeting.
From there, it will be possible for retailers, search engines, and social media platforms like Instagram and Pinterest to build out their advertising products.
As with any innovation, there is a point of critical mass that needs to be reached, but we are starting to see that with voice search and the monetization of visual search sits rather more naturally, I think.
We want to understand the world around us and we want to engage with new ideas; images are the best way to do this, but they are also a difficult form of communication.
Our culture is majoritively visual and has been for some time. We need only look at the nature of ads over the past century; text recedes as imagery assumes the foreground in most instances.
Whether the Lens technologies are an end in themselves or just a stage in the development of visual search, we can’t be sure. There may be entirely new technologies that sit outside smartphones in the future, but image recognition will still be central.
I would still encourage all marketers to embrace a trend that only looks likely to gather pace.
Visual search is still quite an abstract concept for most of us, so is there anything practical that marketers and SEOs can do to prepare for it? Is it possible to optimize for visual search just yet? If marketers want to try and keep ahead of the visual search curve, what would be the best way to do that?
Any time we are dealing with search, there will be a lot of theory and practice that can help anyone get better results. We just don’t have the shortcuts we used to.
When it comes to visual search, I would recommend:
Check our Clark’s presentation on visual search here.
Artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning algorithms are mainstreaming in a way that was never before possible, and these changes are having a significant influence on the way in which marketers need to approach search advertising.
In addition to AdWords itself incorporating AI into its framework, new opportunities are arising that can give marketers an edge over their competitors, or automate lower-level tasks, freeing up more time for strategy.
Here are four ways you can start taking advantage of AI to make the most of your AdWords campaigns.
Automated machine learning as a solution to the decision of what price to bid on paid advertising is becoming an increasingly popular option as the necessary technologies become available to more firms.
Bidding too low means missing out on opportunities to reach leads, while bidding too high means sacrificing ROI.
Google’s internal automated bidding, on top of being identical to what everybody else is using, doesn’t have access to the information it needs in order to maximize your ROI. Reaching that goal also requires knowing consumer trends, purchase behavior, seasonality, demographics, customer lifetime value, and more.
A successful automated bidding model must:
There are, however, some things to look out for:
Pausing poorly performing ads
The quickest way to lose money in AdWords is to continue bidding on an ad that isn’t producing any ROI. When the clicks roll in but the sales don’t, this can be a disaster.
Similarly, when an ad is getting the bids but not the clicks, your quality score will suffer, and ultimately your ROI will follow suit.
A well-built machine learning algorithm will understand when it is necessary to pause an ad in order to avoid hurting your ROI or quality score.
Here are some important considerations your model must account for:
AdWords’ Dynamic Search Ads are one piece of machine learning technology that currently come built-in with the platform, allowing anybody who is using AdWords to take advantage of it.
Dynamic Search Ads automatically generate headlines to capture a searcher’s attention. After uploading a list of landing pages that you want Google to generate dynamic ads for, Google will identify searches that are a good fit for your landing pages, then automatically generate ad content using phrases from your pages.
Google is also generating ad suggestions based on machine learning. These recommendations use models of prior performance to suggest changes to your ads that should boost your results.
But the possibilities for dynamic ads don’t end with what is native to AdWords.
Machine learning approaches can be used to create dynamic ad content that incorporates the following:
The previous insights might make it sound like you’ll need data scientists and developers on your team in order to take advantage of what AI and machine learning have to offer, but this isn’t necessarily the case. While full-time dedicated AI staff are a good idea for big businesses, small and medium businesses can still take advantage of these emerging technologies with emerging products.
Here are just a few examples:
No matter the platform, use the insights discussed to make informed decisions about what will work best for you.
As AI becomes mainstream within the PPC industry, marketers will need to begin shifting their areas of expertise away from micromanaging keywords and bid prices, and towards higher-level strategy. In the meantime, the techniques and platforms discussed still aren’t in use by the majority of your competitors, and taking advantage of that gap would be a wise move.
Pleasure to introduce my self i am Sean Webb i am 27 years old from Manchester, UK.I am doing affiliate marketing and have spend lots of time learning how to rank easy to medium competition keywords. I have recently started PPL and Video Marketing and learning more about it.