Posted by randfish
It's hard enough as it is to explain to non-SEOs how to rank a webpage. In an increasingly complicated field, to do well you've got to have a good handle on a wide variety of detailed subjects. This edition of Whiteboard Friday covers a nine-point checklist of the major items you've got to cross off to rank in the new year — and maybe get some hints on how to explain it to others, too.
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special New Year's edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're going to run through how to rank in 2018 in a brief checklist format.
So I know that many of you sometimes wonder, "Gosh, it feels overwhelming to try and explain to someone outside the SEO profession how to get a web page ranked." Well, you know what? Let's explore that a little bit this week on Whiteboard Friday. I sent out a tweet asking folks, "Send me a brief checklist in 280 characters or less," and I got back some amazing responses. I have credited some folks here when they've contributed. There is a ton of detail to ranking in the SEO world, to try and rank in Google's results. But when we pull out, when we go broad, I think that just a few items, in fact just the nine we've got here can basically take you through the majority of what's required to rank in the year ahead. So let's dive into that.
I. Crawlable, accessible URL whose content Google can easily crawl and parse.
So we want Googlebot's spiders to be able to come to this page, to understand the content that's on there in a text readable format, to understand images and visuals or video or embeds or anything else that you've got on the page in a way that they are going to be able to put into their web index. That is crucial. Without it, none of the rest of this stuff even matters.
II. Keyword research
We need to know and to uncover the words and phrases that searchers are actually using to solve or to get answers to the problem that they are having in your world. Those should be problems that your organization, your website is actually working to solve, that your content will help them to solve.
What you want here is a primary keyword and hopefully a set of related secondary keywords that share the searcher's intent. So the intent behind of all of these terms and phrases should be the same so that the same content can serve it. When you do that, we now have a primary and a secondary set of keywords that we can target in our optimization efforts.
III. Investigate the SERP to find what Google believes to be relevant to the keywords's searches
I want you to do some SERP investigation, meaning perform a search query in Google, see what comes back to you, and then figure out from there what Google believes to be relevant to the keywords searches. What does Google think is the content that will answer this searcher's query? You're trying to figure out intent, the type of content that's required, and whatever missing pieces might be there. If you can find holes where, hey, no one is serving this, but I know that people want the answer to it, you might be able to fill that gap and take over that ranking position. Thanks to Gaetano, @gaetano_nyc, for the great suggestion on this one.
IV. Have the most credible, amplifiable person or team available create content that's going to serve the searcher's goal and solve their task better than anyone else on page one.
There are three elements here. First, we want an actually credible, worthy of amplification person or persons to create the content. Why is that? Well, because if we do that, we make amplification, we make link building, we make social sharing way more likely to happen, and our content becomes more credible, both in the eyes of searchers and visitors as well as in Google's eyes too. So to the degree that that is possible, I would certainly urge you to do it.
Next, we're trying to serve the searcher's goal and solve their task, and we want to do that better than anyone else does it on page one, because if we don't, even if we've optimized a lot of these other things, over time Google will realize, you know what? Searchers are frustrated with your result compared to other results, and they're going to rank those other people higher. Huge credit to Dan Kern, @kernmedia on Twitter, for the great suggestion on this one.
V. Craft a compelling title, meta description.
Yes, Google still does use the meta description quite frequently. I know it seems like sometimes they don't. But, in fact, there's a high percent of the time when the actual meta description from the page is used. There's an even higher percentage where the title is used. The URL, while Google sometimes truncates those, also used in the snippet as well as other elements. We'll talk about schema and other kinds of markup later on. But the snippet is something that is crucial to your SEO efforts, because that determines how it displays in the search result. How Google displays your result determines whether people want to click on your listing or someone else's. The snippet is your opportunity to say, "Come click me instead of those other guys." If you can optimize this, both from a keyword perspective using the words and phrases that people want, as well as from a relevancy and a pure drawing the click perspective, you can really win.
VI. Intelligently employ those primary, secondary, and related keywords
Related keywords meaning those that are semantically connected that Google is going to view as critical to proving to them that your content is relevant to the searcher's query — in the page's text content. Why am I saying text content here? Because if you put it purely in visuals or in video or some other embeddable format that Google can't necessarily easily parse out, eeh, they might not count it. They might not treat it as that's actually content on the page, and you need to prove to Google that you have the relevant keywords on the page.
VII. Where relevant and possible, use rich snippets and schema markup to enhance the potential visibility that you're going to get.
This is not possible for everyone. But in some cases, in the case that you're getting into Google news, or in the case that you're in the recipe world and you can get visuals and images, or in the case where you have a featured snippet opportunity and you can get the visual for that featured snippet along with that credit, or in the case where you can get rich snippets around travel or around flights, other verticals that schema is supporting right now, well, that's great. You should take advantage of those opportunities.
VIII. Optimize the page to load fast, as fast as possible and look great.
I mean look great from a visual, UI perspective and look great from a user experience perspective, letting someone go all the way through and accomplish their task in an easy, fulfilling way on every device, at every speed, and make it secure too. Security critically important. HTTPS is not the only thing, but it is a big part of what Google cares about right now, and HTTPS was a big focus in 2016 and 2017. It will certainly continue to be a focus for Google in 2018.
IX. You need to have a great answer to the question: Who will help amplify this and why?
When you have that great answer, I mean a specific list of people and publications who are going to help you amplify it, you've got to execute to earn solid links and mentions and word of mouth across the web and across social media so that your content can be seen by Google's crawlers and by human beings, by people as highly relevant and high quality.
You do all this stuff, you're going to rank very well in 2018. Look forward to your comments, your additions, your contributions, and feel free to look through the tweet thread as well.
Thanks to all of you who contributed via Twitter and to all of you who followed us here at Moz and Whiteboard Friday in 2017. We hope you have a great year ahead. Thanks for watching. Take care.
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!Post source = http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/7878936
via Blogger How to Rank in 2018: The SEO Checklist - Whiteboard Friday
Posted by FeliciaCrawford
Now, I know we technically have a few days left in 2017, but I'm ready to dive head-first into a fond, full-blown retrospective. Each year we look back on what we've published, compiling and sharing the pieces you liked best. Normally we divvy it up via various metrics: traffic, 1Metric score, total thumbs up, total comments, the best of YouMoz, and so on and so forth. This year, however, we're doing things just a little differently.
A lot has changed in the past year...
The way we run the blog has changed in a few significant ways from the days of yesteryear. YouMoz, our user-generated content blog, was retired in the autumn of 2016 (though we hope to resurrect it in another form someday). We reduced our publishing frequency a bit, and refocused our content on core SEO topics after spending 2015 and 2016 branching out into other marketing subjects (like social media and content marketing). We also made some big changes with regards to commenting: we closed comments on posts older than 30 days (they became veritable spam factories), and implemented stricter moderation filters to better catch spammy comments fishing for either a link or easy MozPoints.
And if I'm being completely honest, I don't think the "Best of" posts from years past have offered you, our beloved readers, as much value as they should've. The most excited comments on those posts occur when someone discovers a gem they'd missed, when a post reaches out to you from the masses of online content clamoring for your attention and speaks to you. The way we formerly ranked "the best" resulted in a lot of overlap; the same few posts with lots of thumbs up, a busy comments section, and high traffic overwhelmed the leaderboard.
What criteria now determines "best"?
At the end of 2017, we're starting fresh. First, I've taken our ten most popular blog post categories by traffic — these represent the topics readers are actively seeking information on. Next, I thought about which metric matters most to me when I consider the success of a blog post. Traffic, thumbs, social shares... Nice to see, yes, but they don't paint a very clear picture of a post's impact. I found myself returning to my favorite blog post metric again and again: the comments.
A post with a lively comments section can be many things. Perhaps it sparked questions or debate; perhaps the findings were controversial; perhaps it was simply inspiring. Whatever the reason, a heavily commented-on post represents something that struck a chord, that convinced a person to peek out from behind their keyboard shield and contribute a thought, that coaxed a little extra effort and commitment from our community. As a silent lurker myself, I am consistently blown away by the humility, genius, and generosity you all display in the blog comments section every day.
So there we have it: this year's Best of the Moz Blog 2017 is a list of the top five most-commented posts in the top ten blog categories. That's fifty unique blog posts throughout the year on a variety of topics, some of which you may have missed. Most blog posts fall into several of our categories, but every post will only be listed once; if it's hit the top five in a more popular category, I've taken it out of the running for the rest. It's my sincere hope that this list uncovers something useful for you, something that helps make your job and day just a little easier.
Without further ado, let's get this party started!
The top 5 Whiteboard Fridays
Whiteboard Friday is far and away our most popular blog category, earning three times as much traffic as the rest. Because it always overlaps with at least one other category, you're bound to get a tidy grab bag of SEO takeaways with this list!
Rand Fishkin, September 22nd
What do the age of your site, your headline H1/H2 preference, bounce rate, and shared hosting all have in common? You might've gotten a hint from the title: not a single one of them directly affects your Google rankings. In this rather comforting Whiteboard Friday, Rand lists out ten factors commonly thought to influence your rankings that Google simply doesn't care about.
Rand Fishkin, December 8th
Featured snippets and meta descriptions have brand-new character limits, and it's a huge change for Google and SEOs alike. Learn about what's new, when it changed, and what it all means for SEO in this episode of Whiteboard Friday. (And this is cheating, but for good measure, you might follow up with Dr. Pete's official recommendation for meta description lengths in 2018.)
Marie Haynes, January 20th
If you've ever been the victim of a Google penalty, you know how painful it can be to identify the problem and recover from the hit. Even if you've been penalty-free thus far, the threat of getting penalized is a source of worry. But how can you avoid it, when it seems like unnatural links lurk around every corner?
In this Whiteboard Friday, we warmly welcome Google penalty and unnatural link expert Marie Haynes as she shares how to earn links that do comply with Google's guidelines, that will keep your site out of trouble, and that can make a real impact.
Cyrus Shepard, May 5th
You may find yourself wondering whether the humble title tag still matters in modern SEO. When it comes to your click-through rate, the answer is a resounding yes! In this Whiteboard Friday, we welcome back our good friend Cyrus Shepard to talk about 7 ways you can revamp your title tags to increase your site traffic and rankings.
Rand Fishkin, January 13th
It's been a few years since we've covered the topic of comment marketing, but that doesn't mean it's out of date. There are clever, intentional ways to market yourself and your brand in the comments sections of sites, and there's less competition now than ever before. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand details what you can do to get noticed in the comments and the benefits you'll reap from high-quality contributions.
The top 5 posts in On-Page SEO
The results of our recent Moz Blog Reader Survey highlighted on-page SEO as the topic you'd most like to learn about, so it's not surprising to see that this category sits right under Whiteboard Friday for popularity. There's an interesting theme that emerges from these top posts: it seems we're still working on many of the same things, but how we treat them has necessarily changed over time.
Rand Fishkin, October 20th
Which link is more valuable: the one in your nav, or the one in the content of your page? Now, how about if one of those in-content links is an image, and one is text? Not all links are created equal, and getting familiar with the details will help you build a stronger linking structure. This Whiteboard Friday covers links in headers and footers, in navigation versus content, and how that can affect internal and external links, link equity, and link value between your site and others.
Rand Fishkin, February 6th
On-page SEO has evolved in the past five years. Rand outlines the changes in five succinct tactics: move beyond keyword repetition rules; searcher intent matters more than raw keywords; related topics are essential; links don't always beat on-page; and topical authority is more important than ever.
Kate Morris, April 13th
Which meta tags are absolutely necessary, which are dependent on your situation, and which should you absolutely ignore or remove? Kate Morris refreshes her original 2010 post on the subject of meta tags, sharing a few new tips and reiterating what's remained the same over the past 7 years.
Rand Fishkin, December 1st
Controlling and improving the flow of your on-site content can actually help your SEO. What's the best way to capitalize on the opportunity present in your page design? Rand covers the questions you need to ask (and answer) and the goals you should strive for in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Everett Sizemore, March 22nd
The top 5 posts in Local SEO
Local SEO overlaps with what we think of as traditional SEO in many ways, so it's not surprising at all to see this category near the top. There's still a lot of doubt and apprehension, it seems, when it comes to local SEO best practices and what really works, and the top posts in this category reflect that.
Casey Meraz, March 28th
It's very clear that spam tactics in Google's local results are earning higher rankings. In this post, Casey Meraz identifies exactly what spammers are doing to get ahead, what they can get away with, and what you can do to fight back against the problem plaguing local results.
Miriam Ellis, December 11th
Not all common practices in local SEO are the best practices. In fact, some of them can be pretty darn harmful. Check out Miriam's list of what-not-to-dos (and what-you-should-actually-dos) in this comprehensive blog post.
Miriam Ellis, February 14th
From Google providing intimate details about businesses to Amazon expanding even further into the local scene, local SEO stood to see a lot of change this year. Check out what the SEOs at Moz had to say about what to prepare for in 2017.
Darren Shaw, February 22nd
Forget everything you thought you knew about the most impactful local ranking factors — searcher proximity just may be the number-one thing influencing where a local business shows on the SERPs.
Miriam Ellis, August 22nd
Are you outranked in Google's Local Pack? Then it's high time to perform a competitive business audit. Use this example analysis and downloadable spreadsheet to analyze the strengths and weaknesses of multiple businesses and devise a plan to win.
The top 5 posts in Basic SEO
Basic SEO is another category that enjoys a lot of overlap with other topics; perhaps that's one reason why it's so popular. This year's top posts in this category cover a range of subjects, and all are pretty useful for someone learning (or leveling up in) SEO.
Dr. Pete, March 3rd
They say history repeats itself. In the case of the great 301 vs 302 vs rel=canonical debate, it repeats itself about every three months. In this Whiteboard Friday, Dr. Pete explains how bots and humans experience pages differently depending on which solution you use, why it matters, and how each choice may be treated by Google.
Britney Muller, September 21st
An absolute essential if you want to keep yourself from getting overwhelmed, Moz's own SEO Britney Muller offers five tips for prioritizing your SEO work: setting specific goals, identifying important pages for conversions, uncovering technical opportunities via a site crawl, time management, and providing consistent benchmarks and reporting.
Rand Fishkin, July 28th
Typical link outreach is a tired sport, and we've all but alienated most content creators with our constant link requests. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand outlines five smart ways to earn links to your site without having to beg.
Bridget Randolph, July 19th
We're so fond of the idea that SEO is hard because it's always changing. But is that really true? Bridget Randolph challenges a common industry refrain and brings us back to the basics of what's really important in our work.
Brian Childs, June 15th
In this edition of our educational Next Level series, you'll learn an easy workflow for researching and targeting multiple keywords with a single page.
The top five posts in Link Building
A thousand years from now, when the Space Needle has toppled into Puget Sound and our great-great-great-great-etc. grandchildren are living on Mars, link building will still prove to be one of the most popular subjects on the Moz Blog. And you get a double-whammy of goodness this year, because they just so happen to all be Whiteboard Fridays!
Rand Fishkin, May 26th
Internal links are one of those essential SEO items you have to get right to avoid getting them really wrong. Rand shares 18 tips to help inform your strategy, going into detail about their attributes, internal vs. external links, ideal link structures, and much, much more in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.
Rand Fishkin, February 17th
We all know how effective link building efforts can be, but it can be an intimidating, frustrating process — and sometimes even a chore. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand builds out a framework you can start using today to streamline and simplify the link building process for you, your teammates, and yes, even your interns.
The 3 Easiest Link Building Tactics Any Website Can Use to Acquire Their First 50 Links - Whiteboard Friday
Rand Fishkin, September 8th
Without a solid base of links, your site won't be competitive in the SERPs — even if you do everything else right. But building your first few links can be difficult and discouraging, especially for new websites. Never fear — Rand is here to share three relatively quick, easy, and tool-free (read: actually free) methods to build that solid base and earn yourself links.
Rand Fishkin, June 16th
How can you effectively apply link metrics like Domain Authority and Page Authority alongside your other SEO metrics? Where and when does it make sense to take them into account, and what exactly do they mean? In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand answers these questions and more, arming you with the knowledge you need to better understand and execute your SEO work.
Britney Muller, December 15th
Image link building is a delicate art. There are some distinct considerations from traditional link building, and doing it successfully requires a balance of creativity, curiosity, and having the right tools on hand. In this Whiteboard Friday, Moz's own SEO and link building aficionado Britney Muller offers up concrete advice for successfully building links via images.
The top 5 posts in Advanced SEO
2017's top posts in the advanced SEO category cover just about every post type we like to publish (and that you like to read): in-depth case studies, Whiteboard Fridays, best practice advice, and solid how-tos.
Dmitry Dragilev, April 19th
If you've been struggling to take the number-one spot in the SERPs for a competitive keyword, take a cue from this case study. Dmitry Dragilev shares his team's 8-step methodology for ranking first in a popular niche.
Rand Fishkin, November 17th
It's common industry knowledge that PPC can have an effect on our organic results. But what effect is that, exactly, and how does it work? In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers the ways paid ads influence organic results — and one very important way they don't.
Rand Fishkin, July 14th
If you've ever had any questions about the canonical tag, well, have we got the Whiteboard Friday for you. In this episode, Rand defines what rel=canonical means and its intended purpose, when it's recommended you use it, how to use it, and sticky situations to avoid.
Sarah Lively, February 13th
Which keywords are driving your organic traffic? Keyword-level data doesn't have to be (not provided). Sarah Lively shares a smart solution using two free add-ons for Google Sheets.
Dr. Pete, December 19th
The end of November saw a spike in the average length of SERP snippets. Across 90K results, we found a definite increase but many oddities, such as video snippets. Our data suggests that many snippets are exceeding 300 characters, and we recommend a new meta description limit of 300 characters.
The top 5 posts in Technical SEO
Technical SEO posts are some of my favorite categories to publish (which is perhaps a strange sentiment coming from a poetry major). The debate that recently raged — about whether it's necessary or unnecessary for SEO — will always stick with many of us, as will Rand's excellent Whiteboard Friday rebuttal on the topic.
Michael Cottam, April 11th
XML sitemaps are a powerful tool for SEOs, but are often misunderstood and misused. Michael Cottam explains how to leverage XML sitemaps to identify and resolve indexation problems.
Alexis Sanders, June 20th
JR Ridley, September 13th
Thinking about going secure? It's more important than ever, with Google issuing security warnings for many non-secure sites in Chrome. This comparison of three popular HTTPS services will help you determine the best option for implementing an SSL certification on your site.
Dr. Pete, March 1st
Google search operators are like chess – knowing how the pieces move doesn't make you a master. Dive into 67 examples, from content research to site audits, and level up your search operator game.
Alexis Sanders, October 18th
Schema.org can be a confusing resource if you're trying to learn how to use and implement structured data. This mini-guide arms you with the right kind of thinking to tackle your next structured data project.
The top 5 posts in Keyword Research
The posts generating the most buzz in our keyword research category seem to revolve around quick yet effective wins and tactical advice. And with time constraints being one of the biggest challenges reported in our Reader's Survey, it's really no surprise.
Britney Muller, July 26th
Keyword research doesn’t have to be a marathon bender. A brisk 30-minute walk can provide incredible insights — insights that connect you with a wider audience on a deeper level. Britney Muller shares several ways to get your keyword research tasks done efficiently and well.
Rand Fishkin, February 10th
What's the secret to earning site traffic from competitive keywords with decent search volume? The answer could be as easy as 1, 2, 3 — or more precisely, 2, 0, 1, 7. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand lets you in on a relatively straightforward tactic that can help you compete in a tough space using very fresh content.
Rand Fishkin, February 24th
Trying to target a small, specific region with your keywords can prove frustrating. While reaching a high-intent local audience is incredibly valuable, without volume data to inform your keyword research, you'll find yourself hitting a wall. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares how to uncover powerful, laser-focused keywords that will reach exactly the right people.
Rand Fishkin, November 24th
You don't want to try to rank for every one of your competitors' keywords. Like most things with SEO, it's important to be strategic and intentional with your decisions. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand shares his recommended process for understanding your funnel, identifying the right competitors to track, and prioritizing which of their keywords you ought to target.
Rand Fishkin, October 23rd
It's not often that a product-focused post makes our blog's Best of the Year list, so this is both interesting and heartening to see. We worked really hard to bring better data and more usefulness to Keyword Explorer this year, and y'all left some really kind sentiments in the comments. Thanks for always being here for us, folks! :)
The top 5 posts in Content
I won't say it, I promise. ;) But content is just as important as ever, and the rather vague advice of "create great content and the rest will come" has certainly gotten a bit exhausting over the years. We've made an effort to publish more actionable ways to think about and use content, and it seems like that's been resonating with you so far!
Britney Muller, February 3rd
You've got top-performing content on your site that does really well. Maybe it's highly converting, maybe it garners the most qualified traffic — but it's just sitting there gathering dust. Isn't there something else you can do with content that's clearly proven its worth?
As it turns out, there is! In this Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller shares three easy steps for identifying, repurposing, and republishing your top content to juice every drop of goodness out of it.
A.J. Ghergich, January 17th
From optimal snippet length, to practical application tips, to which queries prefer tables, lists, or paragraphs, learn everything you need to know to supercharge your snippet wins.
Rand Fishkin, August 18th
The perfect blog post length or publishing frequency doesn't actually exist. "Perfect" isn't universal — your content's success depends on tons of personalized factors. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains why the idea of "perfect" is baloney when it comes to your blog, and lists what you should actually be looking for in a successful publishing strategy.
Jen Carney, August 2nd
You've spend too much time and effort on content creation to share it only once. Check out four smart strategies you can implement today to improve the reach of your existing content.
Alli Berry, November 15th
Keywords are important for innumerable SEO tasks, but driving your content marketing strategy isn't one of them. Your strategy should be based on the audience you're trying to reach if you want your organic traffic to convert.
Paid Search Marketing
While it perhaps seems a little strange for an SEO blog to cover, paid search plays an important part in our digital marketing world, and as reported in our Reader's Survey, plenty of us wear more than one hat. Here are the top posts from 2017 that generated the most commentary about all things paid:
Martin Meany, October 11th
iPhone users tend to spend 3x as much as Android users, according to an analysis of 31 million mobile e-commerce sessions. Digital marketers can capitalize on this revelation via Facebook and AdWords.
Purna Virji, February 21st
You might be surprised to learn that branding and PPC go hand-in-hand. Find out how to leverage your PPC campaigns to strengthen your brand and win conversions and loyalty from your customers.
Kirk Williams, May 30th
Keywords or audience targeting? Kirk Williams sets out to argue that far from being dead, keywords are still the most useful tool in the paid search marketer's toolbox.
Kane Jamison, September 29th
Stuck in a content marketing rut? Relying on your existing newsletter, social followers, or email outreach won't do your launches justice. Boosting your signal with paid social both introduces your brand to new audiences and improves your launch's traffic and results. In this Whiteboard Friday, we're welcoming back our good friend Kane Jamison to highlight four straightforward, actionable tactics you can start using ASAP.
Purna Virji, March 21st
Conversational interfaces are becoming more and more popular, but it's hard to know where to start when it comes to voice search. A $50 PPC budget is enough to jumpstart your voice search keyword list and strategy — learn how in this step-by-step guide.
Top comments by thumbs up
Comments are my favorite blog post success metric, and it simply wouldn't do if we didn't honor the folks who contributed the most popular comments in 2017. Thank you, all of you, for sharing your thoughts with the greater Moz and SEO community, and for taking precious time out of your day to make the blog a more interesting and better place. And for all the comment lurkers out there like me, I offer you solemn solidarity and zero judgment (but I'd be delighted to see y'all venture out from behind the screen now and again ;).
1. Praveen Sharma on "10 Things that DO NOT (Directly) Affect Your Google Rankings - Whiteboard Friday" – 58 thumbs up
Short, sweet, accurate, relevant advice is the name of the game. :) We've had feedback before that some readers come to the blog for the comments as much as the post itself, and this example shows why. Thanks for sharing your insight, Praveen!
2. SEOMG on "7 ‹Title Tag› Hacks for Increased Rankings + Traffic - Whiteboard Friday" – 42 thumbs up
Much like the above, this comment exemplifies clear, useful examples related to the post topic. You rock, SEOMG!
3. Praveen Sharma on "The 3 Easiest Link Building Tactics Any Website Can Use to Acquire Their First 50 Links - Whiteboard Friday" – 39 thumbs up
Swooping in again with another helpful tidbit to add to the blog post at hand, Praveen's made it on the Top 10 list twice. We really appreciate your contributions, Praveen!
4. Trevor Klein on "Moz Transitions: Rand to Step Away from Operations and into Advisory Role in Early 2018" – 38 thumbs up
A bittersweet comment that clearly struck a chord with many in our community. Rand, I hope you know how much we all love and appreciate you! And Trevor, thank you so much for your candid and genuine thoughts; you truly spoke for all of us there.
5. Gianluca Fiorelli on "SEO Best Practices for Canonical URLs + the Rel=Canonical Tag - Whiteboard Friday" – 30 thumbs up
Gianluca's comments on the Moz Blog are legendary; each one is a treasure, a miniature blog post in and of itself. Thank you for sharing your smarts with us, Gianluca!
6. Rand Fishkin on "What Do Google's New, Longer Snippets Mean for SEO? - Whiteboard Friday" – 28 thumbs up
By using the comments section to clarify a few points about his Whiteboard Friday video and highlight his advice, Rand adds extra value and oomph to the post as a whole... and the community responded. :) Thank you for always leaving 10X comments, Rand!
7. Eric Hahn on "10 Things that DO NOT (Directly) Affect Your Google Rankings - Whiteboard Friday" – 26 thumbs up
The discussion in the thread spurred by this helpful, on-topic comment is the kind of lively, educational back-and-forth we love to witness. Thank you for inspiring folks to ask questions and learn, Eric!
8. Igor Gorbenko on "What Do Google's New, Longer Snippets Mean for SEO? - Whiteboard Friday" – 25 thumbs up
It makes me really happy that our community has — and rewards — such awesome personality. Igor, thank you for your wit and your insights! ᕕ(⌐■_■)ᕗ ♪♬
9. Tim Soulo on "Moz Transitions: Rand to Step Away from Operations and into Advisory Role in Early 2018" – 22 thumbs up
The blog community definitely resonated with all the heartfelt, personal stories shared on this post. Tim, thank you for sharing!
10. Gianluca Fiorelli on "Comment Marketing: How to Earn Benefits from Community Participation - Whiteboard Friday" – 21 thumbs up
In an incredibly meta turn of events, Gianluca's comment on our Comment Marketing Whiteboard Friday rounds out the list of 2017's top comments on the Moz Blog. I don't think there's a person on this Internet that's done a better job of personal comment marketing than Gianluca! :)
Here's to you!
Thank you all, each and every one of you, for helping to keep our little community a thriving, nurturing place to learn SEO, share ideas, and hey, even make mistakes now and again. It's an honor to have a hand in providing content to such a TAGFEE and brilliant group of people, and I can't describe how excited I am for all that 2018 will bring.
Let me know in the comments how you liked the change-up this year, what other "Best of" formats or lists you might find helpful, and any other ponderings or thoughts you might have — and thank you again for reading!
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!Post source = http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/7871221
via Blogger The Very Best of the Moz Blog 2017: Our Top 50 Posts
Posted by FeliciaCrawford
As the long holiday weekend draws to a close and we prepare to welcome a brand-new year, we at Moz just want to thank you all for a wonderful, fulfilling year on the blog. Your colorful commentary, delightful debates, thrilling thumbs-up, and vivacious visits have made the past twelve months sparkle and shine (and with that, I'll bid the alliteration adieu).
At the Moz HQ, we practice a multitude of holiday traditions. Whether it's Mozzers gathering in the common room (affectionately named "Roger") to light candles on the menorah during Hanukkah, trading and stealing gifts for the company-wide White Elephant exchange (someone won a bonafide Commodore 64 this year!), or getting our boogie and our board gaming on at the Moz holiday party, we try to honor this special season with a healthy mix of reverence and good old-fashioned fun.
The folks who come to our blog for digital marketing advice hail from almost every remote corner of the world (we know; we looked at our analytics ;). This week, when things tend to slow down and it's just a little more difficult than usual to get anyone to reply to your emails, we'd love to invite you to share your own unique tales and traditions in the comments. What's your favorite way to celebrate, in the office and at home? What mishaps and magical moments alike filled your days, and what's your resolution for 2018? Let's take a little breather as we gear up for all the new projects and responsibilities awaiting us just around the corner and share with each other; after all, that's what being a community is all about! :)
Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!Post source = http://tracking.feedpress.it/link/9375/7844574
via Blogger Mozzy Good Wishes to You & Yours!
Posted by randfish
We know that content is our doorway to earning countless SEO benefits for our sites. Admittedly, though, it’s too easy to get stuck in a rut after one too many content marketing campaigns. In this extra-special holiday edition of Whitebeard Friday (see what we did there?), Rand offers three novel ways to add sparkle to your content creation efforts
Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special Christmas edition of Whitebeard Friday. This week, I wanted to try and help with just a few tactical suggestions on some creative ways to pump up those content marketing campaigns.
1. Niche groups
First one, if you can identify in your community these sort of small but vocal niche groups that are . . . when I say your community, it doesn't have to be people you already reach. It can be people inside the community of content generation and of topical interest around your subject matter. Then help them to amplify their voices or their causes or their pet projects, etc.
So I'll use the example of being in the foodie and gourmand world. So here's a bunch of foodies. But this particular tiny group is extremely passionate about food trucks, and, in particular, they really hate the laws that restrict food truck growth, that a lot of cities don't allow food trucks to be in certain spaces. They have to jump through a bunch of hoops to get licensed. They are not permitted to be permanently in a place for a whole week. Whatever it is, whatever those legal restrictions are. So by serving this small group, you might think that content is way too niche.
2. Products and services
Second, if you can, try and seek out products and services that your audience uses or needs, but that doesn't actually directly conflict with your business. Then create a resource that lists or rates or ranks and recommends those top choices. We've actually done this a few times at Moz. I have this recommended list of agency and consultant providers, but Moz does not compete with any of those. But it's a helpful list. As a result of listing those folks and having this sort of process around it, many of those people are pumping up that content.
Now here's another example. Foodie Moz, Foodie Moz sounds like a great domain. I should go register that right after this hat stops hitting me in the back of the head. I don't know how Santa deals with that. So Foodie Moz presents the best cookbooks of 2017. Now, Foodie Moz might be in the food and recipe world. But it turns out, the wonderful part is cookbooks are something that is used by their audience but not directly conflicting with them.
Since it's not self-promotional, but it is useful to your audience, the likelihood that you can earn links and amplification because you seem like a non-self-interested party is much greater. You're providing value without asking anything in return. It's not like anyone buying these cookbooks would help you. It's not like you have some ulterior motive in ranking this one number one or that one number two. You're merely putting together an unbiased set of resources that help your audience. That is a great way to get a piece of content to do well.
3. Content creators
Third, last but not least here, if you can, find content creators who have been very successful. You can recruit them, the people who have had hit pieces, to create content for your brand. In a lot of ways, this is like cheating. It's almost like buying links, except instead of buying the links, you're buying the time and energy of the person who creates content that you have high likelihood or high propensity for being successful in that content niche with what they create because of their past track record and the audience they've already built.
Pro-tip here. Journalists and media contributors, even contributors to online media, like a BuzzFeed or something like that, are great targets. Why? Well, because they're usually poorly paid and they are desperate to build a portfolio of professional work. Some of these folks are insanely talented, and they already have networks of people who have liked their work in the past and have helped amplify them.
So if you can use a tool like BuzzSumo — that would be generally what I'd recommend, there's a few others, but BuzzSumo is really great for this — you can search for, for example, recipes and see the most shared content in the recipe world in, say, the last three months. Then we can identify, "Oh, here we go. This person wrote the hardest recipe challenge gifts. Oh, all right. That did really, really well. I wonder if we can see who that is. Oh look, she does freelance work. I bet she can write for us."
It's like cheating. It's a great hack. It's a great to way to recruit someone who you know is likely to have a great shot at their work doing well, give them the freedom to write what they want, to create what they want, and then host it on your site. A great way to do content creation, for a decent price, that has a high likelihood of solid amplification.
All right, everyone, look forward to some of your thoughts and tactics. For those of you who celebrate Christmas, a Merry Christmas from all of us at Moz. For those of you who celebrate Hanukkah, happy belated Hanukkah. I know that I'm filming this during Hanukkah, but it's probably after Hanukkah that you're seeing it. For those of you who are celebrating any other holiday this year, a very happy holiday season to you. We look forward to joining you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.
via Blogger 3 Creative Ways to Give Your Content Efforts a Boost - Whiteboard Friday
Posted by adamf
We have exciting news to share with you about our Twitter analytics tool, Followerwonk! For a while now we’ve been looking for a new home for the tool. We’re very pleased to announce that Marc Mims, one of the tool's original developers, formed a company to acquire it and will continue to operate the popular service under the Followerwonk brand.
A little history
In August 2016, we announced our intention to sell Followerwonk. It’s a useful and powerful application, but since acquiring it in 2012, we discovered that the overlap between users of Followerwonk and users of our core SEO products was smaller than we anticipated. To address that problem, in 2015 we offered it as a separate subscription — part of a larger strategy to extend our services beyond SEO. Last year we made some hard choices, ultimately deciding to refocus our efforts on our SEO core. It was then that we decided to seek a better home for our Twitter analytics tool.
Marc and Followerwonk go way back. As an engineer on the team that originally built and launched the tool, he came on board at Moz in 2012 when Moz first acquired it. He spent his first year on the Moz engineering team working on Followerwonk, and then a year working on Open Site Explorer, after which he returned to Followerwonk to help us relaunch it as a standalone product. In August 2016 we put Followerwonk in a holding pattern while we sought a buyer; during this time, Marc stayed on as a contractor to keep it healthy and operational for existing customers.
When Marc made an offer to acquire the product, it was like everything had come full circle; we were delighted to know Followerwonk will continue in good hands. There are only a few buyers in the world who could bring Marc's knowledge and passion for Followerwonk to the table.
In the months since August 2016, Marc spent his time making improvements and optimizations to the backend. He has quietly deployed 52 releases of Followerwonk in that time, improving performance and stability. He’s excited to be able to start adding new features now, too.
What does this mean for existing customers?
It means you can expect continued service from the product you love and the addition of new features and capabilities in the future. Moz will continue to host Followerwonk during a transition period while Marc prepares it to run on its own infrastructure. During that time, you can continue to use Followerwonk as you always have.
As Marc and Moz work together to transfer the service, Followerwonk customers should not notice much change; most of the work will be happening behind the scenes. Accounts will be transferred securely, and we will communicate directly with customers if any actions are required.
If you have legacy access to Followerwonk as part of your Moz Pro subscription from before its 2015 relaunch as a separate service, you will continue to have uninterrupted access to the tool through the transition period. Near the end of that period, Marc and Moz will jointly make a special offer allowing you to subscribe to Followerwonk and continue using it after the tool has left Moz’s infrastructure.
The transition period should take between three and six months. During that time, you can access the tool through your Moz login at https://moz.com/followerwonk. Afterwards, you’ll find it at https://followerwonk.com.
We’ll be sure to reach out to all customers and those with legacy access to provide more details well before any changes occur.
In our hearts and minds, this is absolutely the best possible outcome for Followerwonk. It continues in the hands of a strong engineer, a beloved and respected member of the Moz team, an incredibly TAGFEE person, and someone who knows Followerwonk inside and out. Please join us in wishing Marc great success as he builds a team and a business around Followerwonk, giving it the love and attention it richly deserves.
via Blogger Followerwonk Is Moving On to a New, Loving Home
Posted by Alex-T
The chances that your company invests in a content marketing strategy are very high. Content Marketing Institute revealed that 89% of B2B and 86% of B2C marketers use content marketing, while the money spent on this activity ranges between 26% to 30% of an entire marketing budget.
I believe that spending up to 50% of your overall budget on content marketing needs isn’t too much, if you know how to take advantage of it. Not only will it benefit your brand’s awareness, but it will also help you generate traffic, leads, and sales. My personal experience working with digital businesses has shown that only a few are successful in finding a strategic approach to their content plan. Sadly, most companies practice throwing spaghetti on the wall to see if a piece of content gets any readers.
In this post, you'll learn how to ensure that every piece of content you create drives traffic, attracts leads, and generates sales. I’ll give you ready-to-use solutions on how you can plan, execute, and measure your content promotion, so that content starts earning your business money.
Disclaimer: If you decide to follow any of my recommendations, make sure to adjust these techniques in accordance to your audience’s interests and your business needs, and test, test, and test again. As we all know, every business is unique, and what’s good for one brand may not be as helpful for another. Remember that blindly following any suggestions and mimicking other brands’ activities may not deliver desirable results.
Numbers don’t lie: Measure how your current content is performing
It’s important to start off your new content marketing campaign by analyzing your current situation. You may discover old content that hasn’t performed well yet, but that has the potential to benefit you with a few changes and a second chance. Working with old content is always a good idea, as the copywriting is already taken care of.
Many marketers don’t understand what’s absolutely required when it comes to measuring a content marketing campaign. Data measurement and analysis can be quite intimidating, especially if you're just starting out.
Here are two steps to take in order to get some meaningful insights:
1. Figure out how your content ranks in Google and whether it brings you traffic and conversions
To get ahold of this data, you're going to need a combination of tools.
Start with Google Analytics
The "Landing Pages" report in Google Analytics will show how your pages perform according to the number of impressions, clicks, conversions, and the average position of each page in the search results. To view this report in Google Analytics, your Google Search Console needs to be connected with your Google Analytics account. If you haven’t connected it yet, this data can be viewed directly in Google Search Console via the "Search Traffic" > "Search Analytics" report.
The problem with Google, though, is that it doesn’t give you a page's exact ranking; it only shows your site’s average position. It also requires you to check each page manually, so you can’t see a bigger picture all at once. Using tools — like SEMrush, SpyFu, Searchmetrics, Ahrefs, SERPstat, etc. — will allow you to see more precise data about your content's rankings. For example, here's a screenshot of a Google Analytics report showing a list of keywords for which a specific page appears in the SERPs:
And here’s the same data from SEMrush that allows you to filter pages, export the data, and work with it in a spreadsheet:
2. Find content that can be easily improved/edited to begin bringing value
After completing step #1, you'll have an all-encompassing picture of your content’s past performance. Geared up with the information you’ve uncovered, find those pages that are showing up in the search results and bringing you clicks and conversions, but that aren’t listed among the top five or ten search results. These pages have a lot of potential to make it to the top of Google. I would recommend checking whether these pieces:
The needs and wants of your business: Define the right metrics to track your progress
From an early age, we're taught that there’s a difference between a need and a want, that we only have a few true basic needs, and myriad wants. The same logic can be applied to the business world, but it’s a lot harder to discern and comprehend.
During this stage, you need to select highly meaningful and relevant metrics that align perfectly with your business needs. Please don’t try to use generic metrics — your business may have its own kind of struggles and goals. For some businesses, for instance, a conversion does not equal money. I run a free online conference called Digital Olympus that does not intend to sell anything. For me, a conversion is a registration, and I’ve come to learn that the best conversion for my situation is when a registered user attends my online event. Keep such things in mind at all times!
Another great example of a non-monetary conversion comes from one of my clients. They are a completely free SaaS software for specialists in the agricultural industry. They realized that their conversions aren’t registrations alone, and the reason is quite simple. After carefully analyzing their users’ behavior, they discovered that after a user registers, they aren’t taking advantage of their tool at all. For them, the best conversion is a registered user that is actively involved with their product. Coincidentally, that’s where content marketing can come into play to solve their problems. Their users need help to understand how they can take advantage of the software; adding relevant content to the company’s site will surely add clarity and improve users' understanding of their product.
When it comes to creating and managing content, it’s always a good idea to see exactly how users interact with it. Do they click on your call-to-action buttons? How many of them read your article in its entirety? All of these metrics are very easy to track if you use Google Tag Manager. It’s a must-have tool, allowing you to track whatever you want without going through the excruciating process of dealing with your dev team. Here’s an excellent post by Simo Ahava that explains which metrics you can track and analyze with the help of GTM.
Have your Google Analytics reports ever shown you something like this?:
If the answer is yes, you must know that elevating feeling of joy and excitement, seeing all these visitors checking out your page. But unless you’re a deliberate YouTuber with a fame complex, you’re not interested in traffic, per se. You want to witness conversions.
The goals of pages that attract traffic but don’t convert, in the majority of cases, don't match up to the goals of your web visitors. If you haven’t added lead magnets on those pages yet, it should be your top priority, because currently those content pieces aren’t converting your traffic into something tangible.
Don’t neglect the importance of SEO
Yes, it’s definitely important to write meaningful content that will perfectly resonate with your audience — but that’s not all. If you want to bring a steady flow of new visitors with the help of that content, you must optimize each of your posts to make sure that it has a fighting chance to rank on Google.
I highly recommend spending some time researching topics that will increase your chances to rank well. Below are a few ways you can identify them:
1. Find related keywords
Imagine you discovered that keywords related to "content marketing strategy" are the keywords driving the most conversions. Those keywords should be analyzed in order to find other keywords related to that subject. These keywords have proven to mirror your audience’s search behavior the most, and they're very promising in terms of earning you more paying clients.
Another tool worth trying is SEMrush's Keyword Magic tool. It automatically gives you the most necessary information about a keyword, factoring in metrics such as CPC and volume (basic, but much-needed), keyword difficulty, competition level, SERP features, and exact and broad keyword matches. This tool gathers the data you need and offers a wide range of analysis for both single keywords and groups of keywords.
2. Check the competition level in the SERPs
After you've compiled a list of related keywords, it’s time to choose the keywords (e.g., topics for your future articles) that will help you rank higher in Google.
After these steps are completed, you’ll see how many referring domains each of your content pieces ought to have in order to rank higher. You'll also be able to identify the number of referring domains by looking at how many links have been acquired by the other pages that currently rank well.
Content promotion that gives short-term results
As I’ve mentioned previously, you need to remember that ranking in Google and attracting organic visitors are among the top goals of any content piece. Ideally, every article you publish on your website should eventually rank well, but you need to give your new SEO campaign some time before it bears fruit. While you’re waiting, you can take advantage of the promotional activities that allow for almost instantaneous results. Depending on your budget and your current rankings, choose one of the following promotional activities that seem most relevant for you.
A. Promote your posts on social media channels
Some people say the world will never be same again thanks to social media. Not sure how to interpret that exactly, but not taking advantage of this powerful channel is reckless! This is a basic and very common way to promote content, and it’s not rocket science to figure out how things work. But let me give you a couple of really actionable tips that will help you to maximize the output:
B. Collect leads
If you choose this way of promotion, then you are going to put in some work. A dull page with "meh"-looking content won’t cut it. You'll need to prepare something beforehand, something that will look attractive enough to convince a visitor to give you their email. A user is more likely to give you their contact information when they are offered one (or all) of the following options:
In case you don’t have a staff developer to help you with designing and adding a form to your website, there are different online services (like wisepops.com, wishpond.com, popupmonkey.com, or sumo.com) that you can use to create any kind of forms you want.
C. Use remarketing
Typically, only about 30% of visitors are willing to give you their contact details. The remaining 70% read or skim your content, close the tab, and get back to their routine. But you still have a second chance with them. How? The answer is remarketing:
D. Use email marketing automation to turn leads into paying clients
If you are somehow collecting leads and aren’t putting them through email marketing funnels, then you might as well just burn the rest of your money. HubSpot will really come in handy here because you can create email marketing funnels based not only on how users interact with your emails, but also on the type of pages your leads have visited. I’ve tried several HubSpot features while working on a few projects in the past, and I couldn’t have asked for a more powerful functionality.
In case you aren’t a Hubspot user, there are other marketing tools that allow you to create email funnels. I'd also suggest involving your leads in as many activities as you possibly can, because every interaction matters and is making them warmer. Ask them to follow you on social media channels. You can also offer some case studies or success stories another client shared about your brand. Real-life cases with your actual clients are very powerful, and the open and click rates of these emails can be a lot higher.
Before you start pushing your products or services to your leads, it's important to research what brought them to your website in the first place. This is absolutely essential, but sadly, a lot of companies tend to forget to do this research and fail; open rates plummet and users unsubscribe. Don’t let this happen to you.
It’s obvious why some blogs only post a couple of articles a year. What’s the point in creating tons of content that won’t bring any value to the business?
Always keep your SEO goals in mind, and remember that you have to do some preparation in order for them to be delivered accurately and on time. Even short-term results require some leg work. No doubt that, once you’ve adjusted your routine, practiced some of the tactics mentioned above, and are consistent with them, every time you create a piece of meaningful and purposeful content, it will take you less time to manage and promote it.
via Blogger Use as Directed: A Content Marketing Plan for Robust Business Performance
Posted by Dr-Pete
Summary: The end of November saw a spike in the average length of SERP snippets. Across 10K keywords (90K results), we found a definite increase but many oddities, such as video snippets. Our data suggests that many snippets are exceeding 300 characters, and going into 2018 we recommend a new meta description limit of 300 characters.
Back in spring of 2015, we reported that Google search snippets seemed to be breaking the 155-character limit, but our data suggested that these cases were fairly rare. At the end of November, RankRanger's tools reported a sizable jump in the average search snippet length (to around 230 characters). Anecdotally, we're seeing many long snippets in the wild, such as this 386-character one on a search for "non compete agreement":
Search Engine Land was able to get confirmation from Google of a change to how they handle search snippets, although we don't have specifics or official numbers. Is it time to revisit our guidelines on meta descriptions limits heading into 2018? We dug into our daily 10,000-keyword tracking data to find out...
The trouble with averages
In our 10K tracking data for December 15th, which consisted of 89,909 page-one organic results, the average display snippet (stripped of HTML, of course) was 215 characters long, slightly below RankRanger's numbers, but well above historical trends.
This number is certainly interesting, but it leaves out quite a bit. First of all, the median character length is 186, suggesting that some big numbers are potentially skewing the average. On the other hand, some snippets are very short because their meta Ddescriptions are very short. Take this snippet for Vail.com:
Sure enough, this is Vail.com's meta description tag (I'm not gonna ask):
Do we really care that a lot of people just write ridiculously short meta descriptions? No, what we really want to know is at what point Google is cutting off long descriptions. So, let's just look at the snippets that were cut (determined by the " ..." at the end). In our data set, this leaves just about 3.6% (3,213), so we can already see that the vast majority of descriptions aren't getting cut off.
Coincidentally, the average is still 215, but let's look at the frequency distribution of the lengths of just the cut snippets. The graph below shows cut-snippet lengths in bins of 25 (0-25, 25-50, etc.):
If we're trying to pin down a maximum length for meta descriptions, this is where things get a bit weird (and frustrating). There seems to be a chunk of snippets cut off at the 100–125 character range and another chunk at the 275–300 range. Digging in deeper, we discovered that two things were going on here...
Oddity #1: Video snippets
Spot-checking some of the descriptions cut off in the 100–125 character range, we realized that a number of them were video snippets, which seem to have shorter limits:
These snippets seem to generally max out at two lines, and they're further restricted by the space the video thumbnail occupies. In our data set, a full 88% of video snippets were cut off (ended in " ..."). Separating out video, only 2.1% of organic snippets were cut off.
Oddity #2: Pre-cut metas
A second oddity was that some meta description tags seem to be pre-truncated (possibly by CMS systems). So, the "..." in those cases is an unreliable indicator. Take this snippet, for example:
This clocks in at 150 characters, right around the old limit. Now, let's look at the meta description:
This Goodreads snippet is being pre-truncated. This was true for almost all of the Goodreads meta descriptions in our data set, and may be a CMS setting or a conscious choice by their SEO team. Either way, it's not very useful for our current analysis.
So, we attempted to gather all of the original meta description tags to check for pre-truncated data. We were unable to gather data from all sites, and some sites don't use meta description tags at all, but we were still able to remove some of the noise.
Let's try this again (...)
So, let's pull out all of the cut snippets with video thumbnails and the ones where we know the meta description ended in "...". This cuts us down to 1,722 snippets (pretty deep dive from the original 89,909). Here's what the frequency distribution of lengths looks like now:
Now, we're getting somewhere. There are still a few data points down in the 150–175 range, but once I hand-checked them, they appear to be sites that had meta description tags ending in "..." that we failed to crawl properly.
The bulk of these snippets are being cut off in the 275–325 character range. In this smaller, but more normal-looking distribution, we've got a mean of 299 characters and a median of 288 characters. While we've had to discard a fair amount of data along the way, I'm much more comfortable with these numbers.
What about the snippets over 350 characters? It's hard to see from this graph, but they maxed out at 375 characters. In some cases, Google is appending their own information:
While the entire snippet is 375 characters, the "Jump..." link is added by Google. The rest of the snippet is 315 characters long. Google also adds result counts and dates to the front of some snippets. These characters don't seem to count against the limit, but it's a bit hard to tell, because we don't have a lot of data points.
Do metas even matter?
Before we reveal the new limit, here's an uncomfortable question — when it seems like Google is rewriting so many snippets, is it worth having meta description tags at all? Across the data set, we were able to successfully capture 70,059 original Meta Description tags (in many of the remaining cases, the sites simply didn't define one). Of those, just over one-third (35.9%) were used as-is for display snippets.
Keep in mind, though, that Google truncates some of these and appends extra data to some. In 15.4% of cases, Google used the original meta description tag, but added some text. This number may seem high, but most of these cases were simply Google adding a period to the end of the snippet. Apparently, Google is a stickler for complete sentences. So, now we're up to 51.3% of cases where either the display snippet perfectly matched the meta description tag or fully contained it.
What about cases where the display snippet used a truncated version of the meta description tag? Just 3.2% of snippets matched this scenario. Putting it all together, we're up to almost 55% of cases where Google is using all or part of the original meta description tag. This number is probably low, as we're not counting cases where Google used part of the original meta description but modified it in some way.
It's interesting to note that, in some cases, Google rewrote a meta description because the original description was too short or not descriptive enough. Take this result, for example:
Now, let's check out the original meta description tag...
In this case, the original meta description was actually too short for Google's tastes. Also note that, even though Google created the snippet themselves, they still cut it off with a "...". This strongly suggests that cutting off a snippet isn't a sign that Google thinks your description is low quality.
On the flip side, I should note that some very large sites don't use meta description tags at all, and they seem to fare perfectly well in search results. One notable example is Wikipedia, a site for which defining meta descriptions would be nearly impossible without automation, and any automation would probably fall short of Google's own capabilities.
I think you should be very careful using Wikipedia as an example of what to do (or what not do), when it comes to technical SEO, but it seems clear from the data that, in the absence of a meta description tag, Google is perfectly capable of ranking sites and writing their own snippets.
At the end of the day, I think it comes down to control. For critical pages, writing a good meta description is like writing ad copy — there's real value in crafting that copy to drive interest and clicks. There's no guarantee Google will use that copy, and that fact can be frustrating, but the odds are still in your favor.
Is the 155 limit dead?
Unless something changes, and given the partial (although lacking in details) confirmation from Google, I think it's safe to experiment with longer meta description tags. Looking at the clean distribution, and just to give it a nice even number, I think 300 characters is a pretty safe bet. Some snippets that length may get cut off, but the potential gain of getting in more information offsets that relatively small risk.
That's not to say you should pad out your meta descriptions just to cash in on more characters. Snippets should be useful and encourage clicks. In part, that means not giving so much away that there's nothing left to drive the click. If you're artificially limiting your meta descriptions, though, or if you think more text would be beneficial to search visitors and create interest, then I would definitely experiment with expanding.
via Blogger How Long Should Your Meta Description Be? (2018 Edition)
Posted by BritneyMuller
Image link building is a delicate art. There are some distinct considerations from traditional link building, and doing it successfully requires a balance of creativity, curiosity, and having the right tools on hand. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Moz's own SEO and link building aficionado Britney Muller offers up concrete advice for successfully building links via images.
Hey, Moz fans, welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we're going to go over all things image link building, which is sort of an art. I'm so excited to dig into this with you.
Know your link targets
So first and foremost, you need to know your link targets:
I. Popular industry platforms - top pages
What are those top platforms or websites that you would really like to acquire a link from? Then, from there, you can start to understand who might be influencers on those platforms, who's writing the content, who might you contact, and also what are the top pages currently for those sites. There are a number of tools that give you a glimpse into that information. Moz's OSE, Open Site Explorer, will show you top pages. SEMrush has a top page report. SimilarWeb has a popular page report. You can dig into all that information there, really interesting stuff.
II. Old popular images - update!
You can also start to dig into old, popular images and then update them. So what are old popular images within your space that you could have an opportunity to revamp and update? A really neat way to sort of dig into some of that is BuzzSumo's infographics filter, and then you would insert the topic. You enter the industry or the topic you're trying to address and then search by the infographics to see if you can come across anything.
III. Transform popular content into images
You can also just transform popular content into images, and I think there is so much opportunity in doing that for new statistics reports, new data that comes out. There are tons of great opportunities to transform those into multiple images and leverage that across different platforms for link building.
Again, just understanding who those influencers are.
Do your keyword research
So, from here, we're going to dive into the keyword research part of this whole puzzle, and this is really understanding the intent behind people searching about the topic or the product or whatever it might be. Something you can do is evaluate keywords with link intent. This is a brilliant concept I heard about a couple weeks back from Dan Shure's podcast. Thank you, Dan. Essentially it's the idea that keywords with statistics or facts after the keyword have link intent baked into the search query. It's brilliant. Those individuals are searching for something to reference, to maybe link to, to include in a presentation or an article or whatever that might be. It has this basic link intent.
Another thing you want to evaluate is just anything around images. Do any of your keywords and pictures or photos, etc. have good search volume with some opportunities? What does that search result currently look like? You have to evaluate what's currently ranking to understand what's working and what's not. I used to say at my old agency I didn't want anyone writing any piece of content until they had read all of the 10 search results for that keyword or that phrase we were targeting. Why would you do that until you have a full understanding of how that looks currently and how we can make something way better?
Rand had also mentioned this really cool tip on if you find some keywords, it's good to evaluate whether or not the image carousel shows up for those searches, because if it does, that's a little glimpse into the searcher intent that leads to images. That's a good sign that you're on the right track to really optimize for a certain image. It's something to keep in mind.
So, from here, we're going to move up to providing value. Now we're in the brainstorming stage. Hopefully, you've gotten some ideas, you know where you want to link from, and you need to provide value in some way. It could be a...
I. Reference/bookmark Maybe something that people would bookmark, that always works.
II. Perspective is a really interesting one. So some of the most beautiful data visualizations do this extremely well, where they can simplify a confusing concept or a lot of data. It's a great way to leverage images and graphics.
III. Printouts still work really well. Moz has the SEO Dev Cheat Sheet that I have seen printed all over at different agencies, and that's really neat to see it adding value directly.
IV. Curate images. We see this a lot with different articles. Maybe the top 25 to 50 images from this tradeshow or this event or whatever it might be, that's a great way to leverage link building and kind of getting people fired up about a curated piece of content.
Gregory Ciotti — I don't know if I'm saying that right — has an incredible article I suggest you all read called "Why a Visual Really Is Worth a Thousand Words," and he mentions don't be afraid to get obvious. I love that, because I think all too often we tend to overthink images and executing things in general. Why not just state the obvious and see how it goes? He's got great examples.
So, from here, we are going to move into optimization. If any of you need a brush-up on image optimization, I highly suggest you check out Rand's Whiteboard Friday on image SEO. It covers everything. But some of the basics are your...
You want to make sure that the title of the image has your keyword and explains what it is that you're trying to convey.
This was first and foremost designed for the visually impaired, so you need to be mindful of visually impaired screen readers that will read this to people to explain what the image actually is. So first and foremost, you just need to be helpful and provide information in a descriptive way to describe that image.
Compression is huge. Page speed is so big right now. I hear about it all the time. I know you guys do too. But one of the easiest ways to help page speed is to compress those huge images. There's a ton of great free tools out there, like Optimizilla, where you can bulk upload a bunch of large images and then bulk download. It makes it super easy. There are also some desktop programs, if you're doing this kind of stuff all the time, that will automatically compress images you download or save. That might be worth looking into if you do this a lot.
Source set attribute is getting a little technical. It's super interesting, and it's basically this really incredible image attribute that allows you to set the minimum browser size and the image you would prefer to show up for different sizes. So you can not only have different images show up for different devices in different sizes, but you can also revamp them. You can revamp the same image and serve it better for a mobile user versus a tablet, etc. John Henshaw has some of the greatest stuff on source set. Highly suggest you look at some of his articles. He's doing really cool things with it. Check that out.
So, from here, you want to promote your images. You obviously want to share it on popular platforms. You want to reach back out to some of these things that you might have into earlier. If you updated a piece of content, make them aware of that. Or if you transformed a really popular piece of content into some visuals, you might want to share that with the person who is sharing that piece of content. You want to start to tap into that previous research with your promotion.
Inform the influencers
Ask people to share it. There is nothing wrong with just asking your network of people to share something you've worked really hard on, and hopefully, vice versa, that can work in return and you're not afraid to share something a connection of yours has that they worked really hard on.
Monitor the image SERPs
From here, you need to monitor. One of the best ways to do this is Google reverse image search. So if you go to Google and you click the images tab, there's that little camera icon that you can click on and upload images to see where else they live on the web. This is a great way to figure out who is using your image, where it's being held, are you getting a backlink or are you not. You want to keep an eye on all of that stuff.
Two other tools to do this, that I've heard about, are Image Raider and TinEye. But I have not had great experience with either of these. I would love to hear your comments below if maybe you have.
Reverse image search with Google works the best for me. This is also an awesome opportunity for someone to get on the market and create a Google alert for images. I don't think anyone is actually doing that right now. If you know someone that is, please let me know down below in the comments. But it could be a cool business opportunity, right? I don't know.
So for monitoring, let's say you find your image is being used on different websites. Now you need to do some basic outreach to get that link. You want to request that link for using your image.
This is just a super basic template that I came up with. You can use it. You can change it, do whatever you want. But it's just:
Hi, [first name].
Something like that. Something short, to the point. If you can make it more personalized, please do so. I can't stress that enough. People will take you way more seriously if you have some nugget of personal information or connection that you can make.
From there, you just sort of stay in this loop. After you go through this process, you need to continue to promote your content and continue to monitor and do outreach and push that to maximize your link building efforts.
via Blogger Image Link Building - Whiteboard Friday
Posted by Dr-Pete
On the morning of Friday, November 10, we woke up to the news that John Lewis had launched an ad campaign called "Moz the Monster". If you're from the UK, John Lewis needs no introduction, but for our American audience, they're a high-end retail chain that's gained a reputation for a decade of amazing Christmas ads.
It's estimated that John Lewis spent upwards of £7m on this campaign (roughly $9.4M). It quickly became clear that they had organized a multi-channel effort, including a #mozthemonster Twitter campaign.
From a consumer perspective, Moz was just a lovable blue monster. From the perspective of a company that has spent years building a brand, John Lewis was potentially going to rewrite what "Moz" meant to the broader world. From a search perspective, we were facing a rare possibility of competing for our own brand on Google results if this campaign went viral (and John Lewis has a solid history of viral campaigns).
Step #1: Don't panic
At the speed of social media, it can be hard to stop and take a breath, but you have to remember that that speed cuts both ways. If you're too quick to respond and make a mistake, that mistake travels at the same speed and can turn into a self-fulfilling prophecy, creating exactly the disaster you feared.
The first step is to get multiple perspectives quickly. I took to Slack in the morning (I'm two hours ahead of the Seattle team) to find out who was awake. Two of our UK team (Jo and Eli) were quick to respond, which had the added benefit of getting us the local perspective.
Collectively, we decided that, in the spirit of our TAGFEE philosophy, a friendly monster deserved a friendly response. Even if we chose to look at it purely from a pragmatic, tactical standpoint, John Lewis wasn't a competitor, and going in metaphorical guns-blazing against a furry blue monster and the little boy he befriended could've been step one toward a reputation nightmare.
Step #2: Respond (carefully)
In some cases, you may choose not to respond, but in this case we felt that friendly engagement was our best approach. Since the Seattle team was finishing their first cup of coffee, I decided to test the waters with a tweet from my personal account:
I've got a smaller audience than the main Moz account, and a personal tweet as the west coast was getting in gear was less exposure. The initial response was positive, and we even got a little bit of feedback, such as suggestions to monitor UK Google SERPs (see "Step #3").
Our community team (thanks, Tyler!) quickly followed up with an official tweet:
While we didn't get direct engagement from John Lewis, the general community response was positive. Roger Mozbot and Moz the Monster could live in peace, at least for now.
Step #3: Measure
There was a longer-term fear – would engagement with the Moz the Monster campaign alter Google SERPs for Moz-related keywords? Google has become an incredibly dynamic engine, and the meaning of any given phrase can rewrite itself based on how searchers engage with that phrase. I decided to track "moz" itself across both the US and UK.
In that first day of the official campaign launch, searches for "moz" were already showing news ("Top Stories") results in the US and UK, with the text-only version in the US:
...and the richer Top Stories carousel in the UK:
The Guardian article that announced the campaign launch was also ranking organically, near the bottom of page one. So, even on day one, we were seeing some brand encroachment and knew we had to keep track of the situation on a daily basis.
Just two days later (November 12), Moz the Monster had captured four page-one organic results for "moz" in the UK (at the bottom of the page):
While it still wasn't time to panic, John Lewis' campaign was clearly having an impact on Google SERPs.
Step #4: Surprises
On November 13, it looked like the SERPs might be returning to normal. The Moz Blog had regained the Top Stories block in both US and UK results:
We weren't in the clear yet, though. A couple of days later, a plagiarism scandal broke, and it was dominating the UK news for "moz" by November 18:
This story also migrated into organic SERPs after The Guardian published an op-ed piece. Fortunately for John Lewis, the follow-up story didn't last very long. It's an important reminder, though, that you can't take your eyes off of the ball just because it seems to be rolling in the right direction.
Step #5: Results
It's one thing to see changes in the SERPs, but how was all of this impacting search trends and our actual traffic? Here's the data from Google Trends for a 4-week period around the Moz the Monster launch (2 weeks on either side):
The top graph is US trends data, and the bottom graph is UK. The large spike in the middle of the UK graph is November 10, where you can see that interest in the search "moz" increased dramatically. However, this spike fell off fairly quickly and US interest was relatively unaffected.
Let's look at the same time period for Google Search Console impression and click data. First, the US data (isolated to just the keyword "moz"):
There was almost no change in impressions or clicks in the US market. Now, the UK data:
Here, the launch spike in impressions is very clear, and closely mirrors the Google Trends data. However, clicks to Moz.com were, like the US market, unaffected. Hindsight is 20/20, and we were trying to make decisions on the fly, but the short-term shift in Google SERPs had very little impact on clicks to our site. People looking for Moz the Monster and people looking for Moz the search marketing tool are, not shockingly, two very different groups.
Ultimately, the impact of this campaign was short-lived, but it is interesting to see how quickly a SERP can rewrite itself based on the changing world, especially with an injection of ad dollars. At one point (in UK results), Moz the Monster had replaced Moz.com in over half (5 of 8) page-one organic spots and Top Stories – an impressive and somewhat alarming feat.
By December 2, Moz the Monster had completely disappeared from US and UK SERPs for the phrase "moz". New, short-term signals can rewrite search results, but when those signals fade, results often return to normal. So, remember not to panic and track real, bottom-line results.
Your crisis plan
So, how can we generalize this to other brand crises? What happens when someone else's campaign treads on your brand's hard-fought territory? Let's restate our 5-step process:
(1) Remember not to panic
The very word "crisis" almost demands panic, but remember that you can make any problem worse. I realize that's not very comforting, but unless your office is actually on fire, there's time to stop and assess the situation. Get multiple perspectives and make sure you're not overreacting.
(2) Be cautiously proactive
Unless there's a very good reason not to (such as a legal reason), it's almost always best to be proactive and respond to the situation on your own terms. At least acknowledge the situation, preferably with a touch of humor. These brand intrusions are, by their nature, high profile, and if you pretend it's not happening, you'll just look clueless.
(3) Track the impact
As soon as possible, start collecting data. These situations move quickly, and search rankings can change overnight in 2017. Find out what impact the event is really having as quickly as possible, even if you have to track some of it by hand. Don't wait for the perfect metrics or tracking tools.
(4) Don't get complacent
Search results are volatile and social media is fickle – don't assume that a lull or short-term change means you can stop and rest. Keep tracking, at least for a few days and preferably for a couple of weeks (depending on the severity of the crisis).
(5) Measure bottom-line results
As the days go by, you'll be able to more clearly see the impact. Track as deeply as you can – long-term rankings, traffic, even sales/conversions where necessary. This is the data that tells you if the short-term impact in (3) is really doing damage or is just superficial.
The real John Lewis
Finally, I'd like to give a shout-out to someone who has felt a much longer-term impact of John Lewis' succesful holiday campaigns. Twitter user and computer science teacher @johnlewis has weathered his own brand crisis year after year with grace and humor:
So, a hat-tip to John Lewis, and, on behalf of Moz, a very happy holidays to Moz the Monster!
via Blogger Moz the Monster: Anatomy of an (Averted) Brand Crisis
Posted by BritneyMuller
100% of statisticians would say this is a terrible method for predicting elections. However, in the case of 2016’s presidential election, analyzing the geographic search volume of a few telling keywords “predicted” the outcome more accurately than Nate Silver himself.
The 2016 US Presidential Election was a nail-biter, and many of us followed along with the famed statistician’s predictions in real time on FiveThirtyEight.com. Silver’s predictions, though more accurate than many, were still disrupted by the election results.
In an effort to better understand our country (and current political chaos), I dove into keyword research state-by-state searching for insights. Keywords can be powerful indicators of intent, thought, and behavior. What keyword searches might indicate a personal political opinion? Might there be a common denominator search among people with the same political beliefs?
It’s generally agreed that Fox News leans to the right and CNN leans to the left. And if we’ve learned anything this past year, it’s that the news you consume can have a strong impact on what you believe, in addition to the confirmation bias already present in seeking out particular sources of information.
My crazy idea: What if Republican states showed more “fox news” searches than “cnn”? What if those searches revealed a bias and an intent that exit polling seemed to obscure?
The limitations to this research were pretty obvious. Watching Fox News or CNN doesn’t necessarily correlate with voter behavior, but could it be a better indicator than the polls? My research says yes. I researched other media outlets as well, but the top two ideologically opposed news sources — in any of the 50 states — were consistently Fox News and CNN.
Using Google Keyword Planner (connected to a high-paying Adwords account to view the most accurate/non-bucketed data), I evaluated each state's search volume for “fox news” and “cnn.”
Eight states showed the exact same search volumes for both. Excluding those from my initial test, my results accurately predicted 42/42 of the 2016 presidential state outcomes including North Carolina and Wisconsin (which Silver mis-predicted). Interestingly, "cnn" even mirrored Hillary Clinton, similarly winning the popular vote (25,633,333 vs. 23,675,000 average monthly search volume for the United States).
In contrast, Nate Silver accurately predicted 45/50 states using a statistical methodology based on polling results.
This gets even more interesting:
The eight states showing the same average monthly search volume for both “cnn” and “fox news” are Arizona, Florida, Michigan, Nevada, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Texas.
However, I was able to dive deeper via GrepWords API (a keyword research tool that actually powers Keyword Explorer's data), to discover that Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Pennsylvania, and Ohio each have slightly different “cnn” vs “fox news” search averages over the previous 12-month period. Those new search volume averages are:
Four out of five isn’t bad! This brought my new prediction up to 46/47.
Silver and I each got Pennsylvania wrong. The GrepWords API shows the average monthly search volume for “cnn” was ~33,083 searches higher than “fox news” (to put that in perspective, that’s ~0.26% of the state’s population). This tight-knit keyword research theory is perfectly reflected in Trump’s 48.2% win against Clinton’s 47.5%.
Nate Silver and I have very different day jobs, and he wouldn’t make many of these hasty generalizations. Any prediction method can be right a couple times. However, it got me thinking about the power of keyword research: how it can reveal searcher intent, predict behavior, and sometimes even defy the logic of things like statistics.
It’s also easy to predict the past. What happens when we apply this model to today's Senate race?
Can we apply this theory to Alabama’s special election in the US Senate?
After completing the above research on a whim, I realized that we’re on the cusp of yet another hotly contested, extremely close election: the upcoming Alabama senate race, between controversy-laden Republican Roy Moore and Democratic challenger Doug Jones, fighting for a Senate seat that hasn’t been held by a Democrat since 1992.
I researched each Alabama county — 67 in total — for good measure. There are obviously a ton of variables at play. However, 52 out of the 67 counties (77.6%) 2016 presidential county votes are correctly “predicted” by my theory.
Even when giving the Democratic nominee more weight to the very low search volume counties (19 counties showed a search volume difference of less than 500), my numbers lean pretty far to the right (48/67 Republican counties):
It should be noted that my theory incorrectly guessed two of the five largest Alabama counties, Montgomery and Jefferson, which both voted Democrat in 2016.
Greene and Macon Counties should both vote Democrat; their very slight “cnn” over “fox news” search volume is confirmed by their previous presidential election results.
I realize state elections are not won by county, they’re won by popular vote, and the state of Alabama searches for “fox news” 204,000 more times a month than “cnn” (to put that in perspective, that’s around ~4.27% of Alabama’s population).
All things aside and regardless of outcome, this was an interesting exploration into how keyword research can offer us a glimpse into popular opinion, future behavior, and search intent. What do you think? Any other predictions we could make to test this theory? What other keywords or factors would you look at? Let us know in the comments.
via Blogger Keyword Research Beats Nate Silver's 2016 Presidential Election Prediction