On Monday, November 5, Tim Berners-Lee unveiled a document called “The Case for the Web” which outlines principles to protect and enhance the web’s future, as well as craft a collective contract for May 2019.
He revealed these plans for a contract at the Web Summit in Lisbon, together with his organization, the Web Foundation.
Signers to join the contract thus far include Facebook, Google, the French Government, Sir Richard Branson, the Georgia Institute of Technology, and more than fifty other organizations and key individuals. Amazon has reportedly not yet joined.
The contract is expected to be finalized in May 2019, the year when the web celebrates its 30th birthday, and when half of the world’s population is expected to be online.
When asked which particular groups he’s targeting to join, Berners-Lee pronounced, “Everybody, everybody.” The hope is that any and all companies, individuals, and governments will participate in crafting this contract. You can show your support here, and also participate on Twitter with #ForTheWeb.
Why do we need a case for the web?
The document begins by chronicling a bit of web history: how we’ve grown from just one website in 1990 to nearly two billion websites at the end of 2018 — or one website for every four people in the world.
Much of that explosive growth has brought life-saving change: uncovering corruption, overthrowing dictators, providing emergency relief from natural disasters, sourcing truth, giving countless people access to education, advancing innovation, creating millions of jobs.
But much of that growth has also carried disastrous consequences: election interference, cyber bullying, misinformation, discrimination, spread of hate speech and terrorism, data breaches and privacy scandals.
For better and for worse, the web has “changed lives and altered the course of history. . . It has changed the way we communicate with each other, opening up new worlds and new ways of thinking, even if we haven’t left home.”
The document then discusses how “the web we know and love is under attack.”
Right now it’s not for everyone — over half the people in the world aren’t online, and most of them are marginalized populations (specifically those from low-income countries and women).
And right now, the vast majority of internet power is concentrated in the hands of a few giant companies:
What is to be done, then? That’s exactly what Berners-Lee and the Web Foundation are trying to accomplish here: “to establish the open web as a public good and a basic right.”
What are the 3 key focus areas of “The Case for the Web”?
The Case for the Web outlines three main efforts the contract hopes to further.
Accessible and affordable for everyone
Safe and welcoming for everyone
Empowering for everyone
What are the core principles?
The core principles thus far include mandates for each governments, companies, and citizens.
How feasible are these?
At a glance, many of these principles seem far-fetched and idealistic, maybe even naive. We don’t have to be the first to remind you of the data breaches, scandals, and privacy concerns that have wrecked havoc on 2018.
When asked about why people would join his effort, Berners-Lee told CNET, “We’re not expecting anyone to do it out of altruism. We’re expecting them to do it out of collaboration.”
Some of the core principles are obviously easier than others — for citizens at least, many of us are already committed to being creators and collaborators, but many of us find it hard to protect an environment where everyone feels safe and welcome online.
Many companies are already making efforts to respect privacy and personal data (thank you, GDPR), and many are at least trying to develop technologies that support the best in humanity (TBD on how that’s going, i.e. social media rank with hate speech).
Particular governments will certainly have the biggest strides to make in ensuring the internet is available, working, and private to all.
As far as feasibility, many of these goals — while lofty — are at least attainable in some hoped-for future.
If nothing else, now certainly feels like the time when people will be most willing to hop on board to at least try. The climate of late (looking at you, Google Walkout) points to a renewed sense of people starting to take matters of human rights and wellbeing into their own hands, instead of waiting on those with all the power to do it for them.
It doesn’t hurt that the person calling for change is the inventor of the web himself — most people would be hard-pressed to call any more of his ideas impossible.
To realize these changes? He’s calling on “everybody” to help.
Everybody includes you, too
On the nearly sixty groups and individuals already signed up, Berners-Lee commented on the “richness” of the list — that we want everyone from large companies to groups of women in developing countries. “If we’re going to decide on the way we all together work towards having a web that has the right values,” he said, “we don’t want it to be a white guy’s contract, we want it to be a contract with everybody.”
It seems he really is interested in not just the Googles and Facebooks of the world, but the smaller actors too — anyone who uses the internet.
Or as he put it in 2014,
You can show your support here, and also participate on Twitter with #ForTheWeb.
The full report, “The Case for the Web,” can be read here.
So you have built a brand, large enough for it to be searched on Google? Now, how well are you ranking for all those branded queries?
For example, [State Farm] search triggers local-three-pack results. That’s a branded search:
[State Farm Shannon Barr] returns a knowledge graph: That is a direct search:
This classification makes your local search optimization strategy much more clearer and better organized:
Let’s discuss the above two points in more detail:
1. Dominate direct search results
Here’s one important thing that you need to always keep in mind when creating your strategy for these: More often than not, this search is driven by ROPO / ROBO (research online purchase/buy offline/online) behavior.
What this means is that those searchers already know you and are ready to purchase. In fact they are so ready that they take time researching you online.
This is huge.
This also needs to push you to keep a closer eye on those direct search results and what first impression they make when someone looks at them for the first time.
The first impression matters here. A lot.
With that in mind, perform and repeat the following exercises on a regular basis:
The search results are always evolving, so it’s important to perform those exercises on a regular basis as well come up with and implement a new plan at least yearly.
2. Collect and organize your branded search queries
This is one of those steps that’s unbelievably missed by many, even big, brands.
Remember: Your important branded search is not just your actual business name. There are hundreds and (for bigger brands) even thousands of ways your potential customers are searching for you online.
Here are a few most important ones to keep an eye on:
And here’s another thing to remember: You want to rank #1 (and if possible #1, 2 and 3) for all of those! Otherwise, you may lose a customer to a competitor or a blogger who is suggesting a better alternative or simply advises against your brand.
But not just that! Think about all those “blended” search results that may distract the user’s attention from your brand:
Whenever these are triggered for your branded search, include a separate strategy for conquering those too, e.g. “[brand name vs your competitor’s name] needs a video”.
Serpstat is a solid platform helping you research and organize all those branded queries in a meaningful way.
Serpstat’s output gives a very good insight into search results for each keyword without the need to actually search for each one in Google. This allows you to efficiently create a thorough branded search optimization strategy.
You can read more about there keyword selection tool here.
3. Optimize for local-three pack rankings
Local-three pack has changed local search optimization a lot. It is also leaving a lot of local businesses and marketers confused because there’s not much obvious logic behind it, in some cases.
There are no official recommendations helping us understand what can get a businesses into the well-used local three pack, obviously, but here’s what I was able to collect from reputable sources and my own observations:
More on ranking in local-three pack: How to Start Ranking in Google 3 Pack ASAP
Are you optimizing for your direct and branded search queries? Let us know in the comments!
Sears, which long ago pioneered an early form of ecommerce through its catalog business, didn’t foresee a shifting landscape that started 25 years ago in Jeff Bezos’ garage in Seattle.
While the U.S. retail giant could have carved out a strong presence in ecommerce, it failed to act back in 2005 when Amazon became the leading internet retailer. Instead, it launched its own big-box retail chains to try to turn tide on market share loss from Walmart, Target and others.
Eleven years later in 2016, former CEO Eddie Lambert who stepped down after Sears filed for bankruptcy last month, warned of disruption to retailers like “Walmart, Nordstrom, Macy’s, Staples, Whole Foods and many others have felt the impact of disruptive changes from online competition and new business models.” Like many other retailers struggling to survive like Toys “R” Us, JCPenney and Macy’s, Sears is closing 142 unprofitable stores by the end of this year.
Insights on Sears.com traffic and conversions
To better understand Sears’ under-performance in the rising ecommerce economy, we analyzed data from Jumpshot’s panel of 100 million devices that tracks more than five billion consumer actions per day. The data ranges from January 2017 to September 2018.
One key finding is that Sears has barely grown online transaction volume for nearly two years. Through September, it posted almost exactly the same number of purchases, growing just 0.03% year over year. Traffic to the site has been declining. It’s down 16% for the year.
While that means Sears is converting at a slightly higher rate with less traffic, the bad news is almost half of search engine traffic now comes from paid search ads. That’s up from just over 20% from the same time last year. Nearly half of its traffic comes from Google promotions.
Sears’ private-label strategy didn’t stand the test of time
The value for Sears’ historically strong brands like Craftsman, DieHard, and Kenmore has lost its luster. The retailer manufactured or sourced high-quality products to earn lasting trust that spanned generations and used them to generate loyalty. But, Sears failed to realize it could not rely on brand affinity forever, especially since brand loyalty is prevalent mostly among older generations who are the majority of Sears’ customer base. Instead, it’s limped along using the goodwill it’s generated to maintain sales or sell off its brands as assets.
In comparison, Amazon’s winning private-label strategy has focused on acquiring retail dominance and then moving in on established brands with its own often cheaper and lower-quality products to squeeze out the competition.
Jumpshot data shows that Sears’ strongest categories online are tools, appliance and shoes. Combined, they account for about half the transactions on Sears.com.
The tools category is a bright spot for Sears. It grew 50% year-over-year growth last year and Sears.com is the fourth ranking domain in category behind Amazon, Walmart and Home Depot.
But, 84% of tools purchases on Sears.com are driven by one brand, Craftsman, which represents about one-fifth of all online sales for Sears.
Though they’ve sold the brand to Stanley Black & Decker, Sears has wisely retained licensing rights for its most valuable brand for another 14 years.
Unfortunately, Sears performance for online sales in its two other top categories, appliance and shoes, is underwhelming compared to competitors.
Its Kenmore brand drives 62% of all appliance sales on Sears.com, but appliance sales have been flat so far this year, down 0.1% year-over-year through the end of Q3. It ranks ninth in market share with only a 1.6% sliver of the pie by domain. Amazon outpaces the pack with a 69% market share in the category. Others ahead of Sears in online appliance sales include Walmart, Home Depot, Lowes, Kohls, Best Buy and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Sears’ performance in the shoes category is far worse, and most of the traffic it is generating is tied to legacy brand DieHard boots.
Four of the top six keywords leading to interactions with the brand include the DieHard name, and it’s paying for consumers’ attention with nearly half of its traffic from those keywords being driven by paid ads. Overall, Sears.com is ranked 17th among a crowd of competitors for market share by domain.
Lack of ecommerce vision may sadly end in Sears’ liquidation
In a plea to employees last month during a town hall meeting as Sears gears up for a do-or-die holiday season, Chairman Eddie Lampert said “we need to show material progress over the next few months” to avoid liquidation. In a past warning, he stated that Google and Amazon are forcing traditional brick-and-mortar businesses “to evolve or face dissatisfied users and shareholders, leading to major corporate actions.”
Even if Sears didn’t surpass Amazon as the king of ecommerce, if it had acted earlier to adapt to a changing landscape, it could have been a fierce contender. If only Sears had seen the future of online commerce around the time of its Kmart merger in 2004, it could have successfully reinvented itself as a leader in a new internet retail economy. Instead it chose to imitate other big-box retailers instead of using its considerable resources to take on Amazon.
As Kurt Vonnegut wrote: “Of all the words of mice and men, the saddest are: ‘It might have been.’” Only time will tell with Sears’ final fate, but the future is not looking bright. If you follow the search engine data insights, they clearly show the strong likelihood of Sears’ downfall in light of the rise of ecommerce.
Deren Baker is the CEO of Jumpshot.
Whether your business is in the B2B space or consumer goods, the holiday season presents some unique SEO opportunities to capitalize on, and important pitfalls to avoid.
Ecommerce, brick and mortar retail stores, and even B2B businesses can experience unique opportunities by being visible in search at a time when people are actively shopping, researching, and getting caught up on work. The holidays are a time when there is a huge uptick in SEO activity, including purchasing through ecommerce and in-person at retail stores.
SEO strategy and content planning as we approach 2019
Much has changed in the SEO space over the past years, but the message from search engines like Google has not changed all that much. The name of the game is still to create better content and a better experience on your website for users, based on specific user search intent.
When forming your SEO strategy for the holidays you need to identify the problems your customers will be looking to solve, and how you can present the best solution. Here are the steps you should take in forming your SEO content strategy for the holidays.
1. Keyword research
Perform an exhaustive analysis of the keywords being used by your customers when they are searching for your products or services. Consider the specific issues your customers might have during the holidays related to your business. Visit competitor sites to identify the keywords they are targeting; Screaming Frog is a great tool to crawl a website and pull meta-data for all accessible pages. Use SEMrush to see current ranking terms for your website as well as competitors.
You can use a variety of SEO tools to perform keyword research including: Google Keyword Planner, SEMrush, Moz, Wordstream, and a variety of others. Identify all variations and organize into broad groups. Once you have created broad keyword groups (and even during research), it’s a good idea to check intent by examining search results for your chosen terms. Make sure the results line up with the subject matter and type of content that makes sense for your business.
2. Competitive SEO research
Once you have identified the keywords you are looking to rank for, take the time to examine the web pages that are dominating the search results. What about them is done well, where are they falling short? What types and depths of content are being showcased? Is it short informational videos explaining how to diagnose a home-improvement problem (like a broken garbage disposal at a holiday party), an extensive written blog post on fixing the issue, or is it a directory filled with local repair specialists?
You will want to fit in with what is already there as much as possible. You might write the one blog post that outranks all the ecommerce product pages, but this is less likely. The goal is to understand the intent of your audience and present the best solution possible. Google search results pages are your best resource here, the SERPs offer powerful data and insights into the intent and search behavior of your audience.
3. Content planning
If you have completed thorough keyword and competitor research, you should have some ideas on the types of content you want to create in order to outperform the competition. Focus on providing better information, easier and more straightforward solutions, and plenty of details so the user gets everything they need without leaving the page.
Organize content so it is easy to digest visually; use bullet points, simple charts, images, and videos. Keep text short enough to scan, with plenty of headings and sub sections so users can easily find the information they want. Lastly, research questions that your audience is asking related to the keywords you are targeting. Including questions with thorough and accurate explanations within your content is a good way to target voice search and rich snippets.
Ecommerce SEO during the holidays
If you sell products online through ecommerce, the holidays should already be on your radar and you likely have already been forming a strategy to maximize sales. SEO is still one of the biggest drivers of traffic and online sales across the board, so a well-crafted SEO strategy should be central to your overall digital strategy.
It’s still the same SEO
The rules for SEO don’t change with the season, so the same rules you follow the rest of the year still apply. The big difference is the stakes, and during the holidays the stakes are very high for many ecommerce stores. There are some things you can do to research seasonal SEO trends in order to create a strategy that capitalizes on the very best opportunities. If you can get access to monthly search volume for your target keywords (instead of just monthly average searches) you can plan ahead and target terms that you know are big during the holidays. Google Trends is also a great resource for identifying these kinds of seasonal SEO fluctuations across various keywords and topics.
In-person retail sales
While many brick & mortar retail businesses may not think about digital presence and SEO during the holidays, this is a major mistake to avoid. Lots of businesses don’t sell online and still depend on SEO visibility to drive foot traffic and in-person sales. If you are a business that gets lots of foot traffic during the holidays, you will want to make sure your local SEO listings are accurate, visible, and provide all credibility factors possible so that you’re the destination of choice for holiday shoppers who need what you’re selling.
Local SEO listing management
Make sure you have claimed your Google My Business page, that it is filled out as much as possible and has updated information and pictures. Make sure your important product/service categories are listed wherever possible, and there is a link to your website (if you have one). Lastly, make sure your name, address, phone number, and hours are accurate! If you stay open later during the holidays, you better make sure your listing doesn’t say you’re closed. You can use free audits from tools like Yext & Moz Local to check your local listings and get a list of other local directory sites you will want to claim and update your business listings on (most can be done for free with a little extra research). Although, be aware you may receive a sales call after using Yext as your info may be passed to their sales team. Both are solid services for managing local listings, and for the price Bright Local is another great option.
SEO for B2B businesses during the holidays
B2B businesses are the last type you might expect to have big SEO opportunities during the holidays, but you would be wrong! Although many B2B businesses are pretty dead during the holidays, the key stakeholders, c-suite executives, and other senior management personnel are often using this time to catch up on work initiatives and other high priority tasks they couldn’t fit in before the break.
Businesses opportunities from SEO can definitely materialize around the holidays. While search volume goes down for many B2B business topics, there are also amazing opportunities that can pop up from people filling out online forms or leaving messages during the holiday break. If you can get ahead with your SEO plan and be visible in the right spots when this time hits, you might find that your competition is out to lunch when the big opportunity you have been waiting for arrives as a result of your SEO strategy.
Another big consideration around the holidays is how businesses can lower their tax liability, SEO is a great investment around this time. The truth is that if you are waiting till the holidays to develop your SEO strategy, you’re unlikely to be successful. The good news is you have a huge opportunity to get ahead for next year!
Many businesses put off SEO investment until the new year because of annual budgets and the previous year’s planning. End of the year is a great time to get ahead and gives you an advantage over competitors who kickstart new SEO programs after the new year (of which there are always a ton). There is a great deal of SEO work that requires heavy research and planning in the initial phases and making these big investments at the end of the year can get you a few months ahead of the competition.
The holidays are a great time to take advantage of increased activity and purchase behavior, but it’s critical that you plan ahead and cover your bases. If you dedicate the proper time and resources into developing a well-crafted SEO strategy, you can capitalize on some significant opportunities during the holidays and reap huge rewards.
Chris Rodgers is CEO of Colorado SEO Pros.
As I write this (1st November) thousands of Google staff in offices around the world have taken to the streets ‘to protest sexual harassment, misconduct, lack of transparency, and a workplace that doesn’t work for everyone,’ according to the movement’s official Twitter feed.
The mass walkout is just the latest public display of employee anger within the search engine. It follows criticism of the company’s involvement with Project Maven back in March, high profile resignations over the leaked Dragonfly project in August, as well as the “Rubingate” scandal uncovered by the New York Times last month which saw key Android developer Andy Rubin given ‘a hero’s farewell’ and a $90m exit package after claims of sexual misconduct were made against him.
It would appear that the treatment of Andy Rubin (amid accusations that Google admitted to be completely credible) has been the key contributing factor to the well-orchestrated global protest.
Employees are united under a banner of five clear demands they want to see implemented within the organisation. Let’s unpick these proposed changes one-by-one to get a better understanding of how a multinational company might go about making them and why they are so important for the future of the tech industry.
1. An end to forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination for all current and future employees.
Forced arbitration refers to the policy of companies who only allow their employees the right to solve disputes via processes of internal arbitration.
Many organisations have forced arbitration clauses written into the employment contracts for their staff and while it isn’t a bad route to go down when employees have the option to solve disputes this way (this is known as voluntary arbitration), forced arbitration means that anyone at the company who wants to bring forward a case does not have the right to sue, to make a class action lawsuit, or to appeal – and nor do they have access to federal protections such as The Equal Pay Act of 1963.
A change within Google which would end forced arbitration in cases of harassment and discrimination would signal a fundamental shift in corporate culture which has, to date, more often sought to protect the wellbeing of the company above the wellbeing of those who work on the office floor. It would ensure that any employee who is embarking on the complex and, often, emotionally difficult process of raising a dispute would have the right to raise it outside of the internal arbitration framework if they want to.
There is some advantage for Google itself when internal disputes are resolved by internal arbitration – but this change could certainly help rekindle their image as a progressive organisation.
2. A commitment to end pay and opportunity inequity.
Google is still plagued by a significant gender pay gap, as well as a lack of representation of women and people of colour at board level. In the US during 2017, the Department of Labor said that its audit of Google revealed ‘systemic compensation disparities against women pretty much across the entire workforce.’ This was followed by UK reports by The Telegraph this year where the company admitted that the mean average salaries for women working at the search engine were 17% lower than the salaries for men.
Of course, the ethical argument for pay and opportunity equity is clear, but there is increasing data which points to the business and economic value of diverse workforces. McKinsey’s illuminating Delivering through diversity report published earlier this year sees companies in the top quartile for gender diversity being 21% more likely to experience above-average profitability than companies in the fourth quartile. The most ethnic and culturally diverse businesses see even better comparative performance, with those in the top quartile earning 33% more than those in the fourth quartile.
3. A publicly disclosed sexual harassment transparency report.
The value of this quite straightforward. It will be useful for employees, future employees and the public to have a full understanding of the levels of harassment which have occurred within Google’s walls. It will also go some way to drawing a line under the problematic nature of the Andy Rubin resignation, and will set the company on a course of renewed transparency.
4. A clear, uniform, globally inclusive process for reporting sexual misconduct safely and anonymously.
This change will further set Google on course to improving the lives of people at all levels of the business. It would improve the rights for victims of harassment and would provide better support as they go through the process of reporting misconduct. It would also give employees more confidence in coming forward should they be unsure whether to report something.
The organisers of the protest sum it up well, ‘The improved process should be accessible to all: full-time employees, temporary employees, vendors, and contractors alike. Accountability, safety and an ability to report unsafe working conditions should not be dictated by employment status.’
The goal to roll this out globally would be a positive step for the tech industry at large – showing that the organisation can be united across borders in protecting the rights of all who work there.
5. Elevate the Chief Diversity Officer to answer directly to the CEO and make recommendations directly to the Board of Directors. Appoint an Employee Rep to the Board.
This will be the step which ensures numbers 1-4 are implemented and that there is the necessary accountability in place for these demands going forward. The CDO and Employee Rep will also be in the position to suggest changes in the realm of gender and ethnicity equity.
Five real positive changes for Google, its employees and the tech industry
It has been fascinating to see this protest play out across news sites and social media today. The walkouts in New York, Dublin, London, Berlin, Haifa, Zurich, Tokyo and elsewhere have shown that staff are united in wanting to see the company do better for their current employees, as well as the thousands of gifted programmers, developers, engineers etc. who are looking to the company as a potential source of work in the future.
It also gives Google a clear opportunity to listen to the needs of the very people who make the business work. If they implement these changes, and acknowledge that the actions of their staff are justified, then they can be seen as a leading light for worker’s rights and equity within the tech industry on an international level – a place which is too often seeing such values eroded.
At our Transformation of Search Summit earlier this month, we heard a fan-favorite session on Amazon Advertising.
In this session, John Denny (formerly of Bai, currently Cavu Venture Partners) and Luis Navarrate Gomez (LEGO) gave real strategies for how they leveraged both paid and organic search on Amazon to grow their companies.
Bai grew from a small niche brand to the number one beverage on Amazon. They were named “Vendor of the Year” by Amazon in 2015, and they were later sold to Dr Pepper Snapple Bottling Group for $1.7 billion.
Why Amazon Advertising?
In 2012, Amazon surpassed Google as the top destination for US online shoppers, and 55% of consumers turn to Amazon first when searching for products online.
Despite its popularity among consumers, Amazon Advertising is still in its early stages. As John and Luis mention, many buyers liken AMS these days to what it was like running Google search campaigns in 2005.
While there are certain hiccups, Amazon is increasingly being recognized as a viable competitor to Google search. Particularly for ecommerce, many marketers are moving budget from Google to Amazon.
And it seems those investments can pay off: In the spring of 2015, awareness of Bai was around 7%. A year later, it had tripled to 24%. At the beginning of 2018, it had passed 60%. Quite rapid growth for a beverage brand, not typically famed for skyrocket successes.
Bai is a quintessential example of a CPG company diving into digital and search marketing, finding that traditional top dogs in those categories haven’t yet done so, and being able to claim those high-ranking spots.
In this session, John and Luis divulge seven strategies they used on Amazon to get their brands to the top.
Tip #1 Go all in on Amazon Ad programs versus organic search
The paid positions are multiplying. All the “fair organic listings” are not as viewable to consumers as they seem. Many are drowned out — especially on mobile — by new categories like “Top-rated from our brands,” which features private label brands from Amazon.
They quoted an observation that “While [Amazon’s] digital shelf was originally a shelf democracy, it’s becoming more and more an advertocracy where you have to pay to exist and survive.”
Most advertisers are focused on Amazon search. Moving budget to Amazon search from Google. But Amazon’s key ad programs include both search and display (Amazon DSP).
#2: Winning brands on Amazon know organic brand impressions drive success
“Customers who bought this item also bought X” — this spot is a huge deal. Bai was able to appear organically in that position even when consumers searched for their competitors.
A study on earned brand impressions found that layering in display on top of search increased organic brand impressions by 90%.
At this point, they move past the “basic course” and into the expert.
#3: The Pulsing strategy
By using a strategy called pulsing, Bai was able to generate revenue that looked like this:
Essentially, they chose specific days and times of year to increase / pulse their ad spend, and found that the ROI on those days was significantly higher.
They continue with four more expert insights — but we’ll leave those for the full-length video.
They also were able to get 50% of their subscription revenue to be monthly auto-replenishment orders.
Watch the full session
Whether you currently use Amazon Advertising or are thinking of adding it to your search game, these are some excellent and practical growth tips.
Here’s the link to their session, “Tips from insurgent brands: How to success hack Amazon Advertising.”
Instant Social Profits (Ewwwwww!!!) What a terrible name, and in fact the sales page isn’t much better… lot’s of hype, income proof screenshots and overall IM BS! BUT! Stick around as once you go past all of that it DOES get better! What Is Instant Social Profits? So let’s dive straight in, you may already […]
When Google’s Search Quality Senior Strategist Andrey Lipattsev was asked about Google’s most important ranking factors, he gave three: content, links, and RankBrain.
We’ve known for a long time that links impact websites’ search rankings and Google has for a very long time emphasized the importance of quality content. What is RankBrain all about, however? Unlike content and links, RankBrain is influenced by behavior metrics that indicate that users actually find a site to be useful. These behavior metrics, more than anything else, are influenced by the usability of your website — in other words, user experience (UX).
If you’ve been focusing on content and links at the expense of user experience, you won’t be able to maximize the performance of your website in the search engines. The following five UX tips will give you an SEO advantage.
1. Work on your site’s mobile compatibility
Google hasn’t hidden the fact that it pays a lot of attention to a site’s mobile compatibility. Anyone who has been in SEO for more than a few years will remember mobilegeddon, and mobile-first indexing is a thing: in other words, coming to terms with the realization that most of the usage of its search engine comes from mobile devices, Google has decided to start indexing the mobile version of a website first.
In other words, if your website does not have a mobile version — or if the mobile version of your website is not properly optimized — then you could lose more than half of your search traffic.
Below are some tips to ensure your website is mobile compatible:
2. Optimize your website speed
Just how important is the speed of your website? Research shows that a single second delay in site load time can reduce your conversions by 7 percent, and that 40 percent of people will abandon a website that takes more than three seconds to load. In other words, people don’t like slow websites. And that explains why Google keeps strengthening page speed as a ranking factor.
While Google has long been using site speed as a factor to rank desktop sites, it recently began to use site speed as a ranking factor for mobile sites in July 2018.
You can make your website faster by doing the following:
3. Optimize your site architecture
Another UX tip that will give your site an edge in the search engines is to optimize your site architecture in a way that is easy to use and search engine friendly. For example, take a look at the following screenshot from the website of Lookers:
In particular, pay attention to the navigation bar and you will notice a few things:
Not only will a good site structure make your site more accessible to readers, while at the same time making it easy for the search engines to crawl your website, but you are also likely to be rewarded by sitelinks. Here’s what a Google search for Lookers turned up:
4. Use breadcrumbs navigation
A breadcrumb is a secondary navigation system that helps users know where they are on your website and that can help them trace their way back. Besides the fact that breadcrumbs make it easy for users to navigate your website, they also make it easy for Google to see how your site is structured and while increasing your site’s indexability.
Here’s a look at SEW’s breadcrumbs:
As you can see, from the screenshot above, the trail goes like this “Home >> Industry >> The end of Google+ after a data breach and how it affects us.” In other words, it makes it easy for the user to trace his/her steps back to the primary category of the article, then to the homepage.
5. Work on your content readability
While we tend to focus on the technical aspects of UX when it comes to SEO, content also plays a great role in UX as far as the big G and other search engines are concerned. Making the following tweaks to your content will give you an edge:
While good UX can give you an edge when it comes to SEO, it does more than that: it ensures that users actually use your website while guaranteeing an improvement in ROI and conversions.
Getting PPC and SEO to work together effectively is always a key goal, whether we’re managing just one of the channels or both of them.
Although it sounds easy in principle, it’s generally not. A typical request cropping up is around sharing top-performing PPC ad copy by category and using this to update meta descriptions.
Sharing ad copy performance is something PPC teams should definitely be doing with their SEO counterparts; but unless your meta descriptions are awful the impact here is minimal.
This brings us to the first problem you encounter — although there is lots you CAN do, picking and prioritizing what you do when is vital.
The second common request is switching off PPC ads when you rank in position one (P1) organically. Initially this makes perfect sense and gets the attention of sharp CMOs and CFOs. But this is the second key challenge to overcome; how do I get the right data in the right place to know if it’s actually working.
Let’s take a typical example: car insurance. Here we see MoneySuperMarket ranking P1 organically:
The inevitable push comes; can we turn PPC off in [car insurance] because it’s really expensive and we’re ranking P1 organically.
Well, probably not. Yes, your report is accurate: you rank P1 organically. But you’re actually the fifth result on that page. On my work monitor the organic ranking is well past halfway down the page. On mobile you’re well below the fold:
This is where getting the right data is key.
One way in which we’re improving SEM data for our clients is via a Keyword Universe. This isn’t perfect by any means, but it gives us a working framework on which to build our reporting and optimize efforts. A template can be found here.
It uses PPC search query data as a starting point. It’s important to use this; instead of the Paid v Organic report you can find in Google Ads or Search Ads 360. The reason for this is that Shopping search query data isn’t included in this report, so for retailers you’re likely to be missing out on a ton of data!
Layer this with organic data from Search Console and you’ll start to be able to build up an idea of your coverage.
Pulling in conversion data at a keyword level for PPC is easy; organic not so much. What we recommend here is using the category column to categorize your terms and then pivot up. You can then assign landing pages to categories and understand organic conversions and revenue. Not a perfect solution, but it gives you something to work with.
Then you can add in search volume estimates from Google Keyword Planner or other tools you may use. You can use this to figure out what your paid, organic, and SEM share of voice is. This gives you a few ideas:
You can then add in search queries where you only rank organically and see if you want or need PPC coverage.
Finally, you could add in keywords you might want to target and ask the PPC team to run some tests to see what kind of volume and competition you will be up against. Run PPC temporarily until organic rankings get up to scratch.
The categorization element of the report is the most time-consuming.
As you can see, the argument for switching off generics can be blurry at best. However, we tend to also see an argument for switching off brand. It’s generally the next conversation once a client realizes that turning off a generic head term is perhaps not going to have the impact there were expecting.
Again there are a multitude of options and approaches here but we’ll cover the most common ones:
There are tech providers out there which offer, in various guises, ways supported here. The important thing to remember is that you are not allowed to scrape Google search results if you are also making changes to bidding. So for example, ad monitoring platforms which can tell you what competitor creative is for certain terms can do that because they are allowed to scrape the results — but they cannot use this information to make automatic changes to your account. That means an account manager jumping between both monitoring tools and search engines on a daily basis to eke out minor gains. It’s possible; but probably not a sensible use of time.
The challenge we have with the strategies outlined above, respectively, are:
As such, we’ve been establishing a more balanced approach – which takes time, but will help save budget and, most importantly, keep the data flow going so you can explain WHY the results are as they are.
Key steps to a more balanced approach
1. Understand the lay of the land:
2. You now want to identify a target search exact match impression share. This is a little bit finger in the air as the idea is to drop this gradually over a period of weeks; but you need a starting point. We’d recommend:
3. A report template can be found here. All you need to do here is to populate the table with your data. Take the PPC data from Google Ads for the campaign you are testing and then Google Search Console data and look for your branded terms.
4. Fill out the report every week, with both your PPC and SEO teams feeding into it. What you are hoping to achieve is SEM traffic staying static and your overall PPC investment declining.
Key benefits of brand testing
This is a good starting point for brand testing. The key benefits are:
Build an environment that encourages sharing
Aside from the more practical tips outlined above, we’ve found the most important strategy in getting PPC and SEO to work well together is enabling a method for the teams to talk to each other. If this is internal it should be easy; but across different agencies it’s likely to be a bit more difficult. Our top tips for this are:
1. Establish a monthly learning deck. This changes from client to client but typically looks like this:
2. Have a monthly call. This can be tweaked depending on the scale of work that’s going on; but monthly works for a lot of our clients. It takes 30 minutes and we run through the monthly learning decks and highlight areas of opportunity. One example of a benefit here was landing page testing. An SEO team had struggled to make a case for changes to the organic page because the internal brand team were winning the argument on what the page should look like. We used PPC landing page data to evidence how a change in the position of a call to action had a significant impact on the conversion rate of the page; immediately the SEO team got the green light to start testing new page designs and performance improved!
3. Make sure you’re sharing anything you think may be relevant. Sometimes even the smallest detail can be important. For example SEO teams may be planning for AMP pages; but that means new Floodlight tags for PPC teams if they are using SearchAds 360.
4. Don’t forget about the other teams. I know this is an SEM post; but audience data is already a key pillar. Search has had to play catch-up with the likes of Facebook; but the stuff PPC teams have access to at their fingertips is extensive. Make sure the social and programmatic teams know about it!
Getting PPC and SEO to work better together is a bit like the attribution conversation. It’s not always perfect; but it’s better than doing nothing! Hopefully these points give you a jumping-off point.
Martin Reed is PPC Account Director at Croud.
Yesterday while I was having a blast reading “The Anatomy of a Large-Scale Hypertextual Web Search Engine,” I happened across some fun facts.
We got into some of the more technical goods from the paper yesterday, but figured these would also be an worthwhile — or at least more enjoyable — read. Friday and all.
1. “Wow, you looked at a lot of pages from my web site. How did you like it?” – people encountering a crawler for the first time
They note that they received almost daily emails from people either concerned about copyright issues or asking if they liked the site after looking at it. For many people with web pages, this was one of the first crawlers they had seen.
More innocent times.
2. A billion web documents predicted by 2000
“It is foreseeable that by the year 2000, a comprehensive index of the Web will contain over a billion documents. . . The goal of our system is to address many of the problems, both in quality and scalability, introduced by scaling search engine technology to such extraordinary numbers.”
Now in 2018, there are reportedly 130 trillion documents on the web — an extraordinary number indeed. And sure enough, their search has scaled to meet it.
3. Google took up 55 GB of storage
“The total of all the data used by the search engine requires a comparable amount of storage, about 55 GB.”
Now, Google is 2 billion lines of code. As noted by one of their engineering managers in 2016, the repository contains 86TB of data.
4. “People are still only willing to look at the first few tens of results.”
Please note: “tens.”
They write about the need for more precision in search. Remember the days when people regularly clicked past page 1?
5. Percentage of .com domains: from 1.5 to 60, to now 46.5
They note how “commercialized” the web was already becoming, leaving search engine technology “to be largely a black art and to be advertising oriented.”
“The Web has also become increasingly commercial over time. In 1993, 1.5% of web servers were on .com domains. This number grew to over 60% in 1997.”
According to Statistica, the number of .com domains is down to 46.5% as of May 2018.
“With Google,” they wrote, “we have a strong goal to push more development and understanding into the academic realm.”
6. “There are two types of hits: fancy hits and plain hits”
After going into some technical detail about optimized compact encoding, they reveal that they’ve their complex compact encoding preparations are categorized simply — endearingly — into fancy and plain.
7. Already defending user experience in anticipating search
From the start, it seems Brin and Page fought for users to not need to excessively specify their queries in order to get desired information. They wrote:
It’s interesting that this was so clearly in their thinking from the beginning. At last week’s Search Summit, Googler Juan Felipe Rincon said, “The future of search is no search, because search implies uncertainty. Instead, it will be about how you populate something before someone knows what they don’t know.”
8. There was a typo
In the second paragraph of section 3.2, they write “Couple this flexibility to publish anything with the enormous influence of search engines to route traffic and companies which deliberately manipulating search engines for profit become a serious problem.”
Did you catch it? The verb should be, “companies which are deliberately manipulating search engines become” or “companies which deliberately manipulate search engines become.” Of the utmost gravity, we know.
Just goes to show that even if an incomplete verb phrase won’t keep you from doing some pretty cool stuff in the world. And of course, that even the best of us need editors.
9. Search Engine Watch shout out
We tweeted this yesterday, but felt the need to share again for extra emphasis. Our very own Search Engine Watch was cited in the paper, stating that top search engines claimed to index 100 million web documents as of November 1997. Been a fun 21 years.
10: They chose these photos
Happy Friday, everyone.
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.