FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A: Using New Schema Types to Create Interactive Rich Results

Posted by LilyRayNYC

Structured data (Schema markup) is a powerful tool SEOs can use to efficiently deliver the most important information on our webpages to search engines. When applied effectively across all relevant entities, Schema markup provides significant opportunities to improve a website’s SEO performance by helping search engines to better understand its content.

While Schema.org is continuously expanding and refining its documentation, Google updates its list of supported features that are eligible to be displayed as rich organic results far less frequently. When they happen, these updates are exciting because they give marketers new ways to affect how their organic listings appear in Google’s search results. To make things even more interesting, some of this year’s new Schema types offer the unique opportunity for marketers to use Schema to drive clicks to more than one page on their site through just one organic listing.

Three new Schema types worth focusing on are FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema, all of which present great opportunities to improve organic search traffic with eye-catching, real estate-grabbing listing features. By strategically implementing these Schema types across eligible page content, marketers can dramatically increase their pages’ visibility in the search results for targeted keywords — especially on mobile devices.

Pro tip: When rolling out new Schema, use the Rich Results Testing Tool to see how your Schema can appear in Google’s search results. Google Search Console also offers reporting on FAQ, HowTo, and Q&A Schema along with other Schema types in its Rich Results Status Report.

FAQ Schema

According to Google, FAQ Schema can be used on any page that contains a list of questions and answers on any particular topic. That means FAQ Schema doesn’t have to be reserved only for company FAQ pages; you can create a “frequently asked questions” resource on any topic and use the Schema to indicate that the content is structured as an FAQ.

FAQ Schema is a particularly exciting new Schema type due to how much real estate it can capture in the organic listings. Marking up your FAQ content can create rich results that absolutely dominate the SERP, with the potential to take up a huge amount of vertical space compared to other listings. See the below example on mobile:

Like all Schema, the FAQ content must be a 100 percent match to the content displayed on the page, and displaying different content in your Schema than what is displayed on the page can result in a manual action. Google also requires that the content marked up with FAQ Schema is not used for advertising purposes.

Impacts on click-through rate

There is some risk involved with implementing this Schema: if the content is too informational in nature, it can create a situation where users to get the answers they need entirely within the search results. This is exactly what happened when we first rolled out FAQ Schema for one of our clients at Path Interactive — impressions to the page surged, but clicks fell just as quickly.

This conundrum led to us discover the single most exciting feature of FAQ Schema: The fact that Google supports links and other HTML within the answers. Look for opportunities within your FAQ answers to link to other relevant pages on your site, and you can use FAQ Schema to drive organic users to more than one page on your website. This is a great way to use informational content to drive users to your product or service pages.

Note that this tactic should be done within reason: The links to other pages should actually provide value to the user, and they must also be added to the page content so the Schema code is a 100 percent match with the content on the page. Check out my other detailed article on implementing FAQ Schema, which includes recommendations around tagging links in FAQ answers so you can monitor how the links are performing, and for distinguishing clicks to the FAQ links from your other organic listings.

HowTo Schema

HowTo Schema is another new Schema type that can be used to enhance articles containing instructions on “how to” do something. Like FAQ Schema, Google lays out certain content requirements about what can and can’t be marked up with HowTo Schema, including:

Not marking up offensive, violent or explicit contentThe entire content of each “step” must be marked upNot using HowTo markup to advertise a productIncluding relevant images, as well as materials and tools used to complete the taskHowTo should not be used for Recipes, which have their own Schema

Unfortunately, unlike FAQ Schema, the text included within each HowTo step is not linkable. However, the individual steps themselves can become links to an anchor on your page that corresponds to each step in the process, if you include anchored links and images in your HowTo markup.

HowTo has two visual layouts:

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/how-to

One layout includes image thumbnails for each step in the process. With this layout, users can click on each step and be taken directly to that step on your page. Anchored (#) links also appear separately in Google Search Console, so you can track impressions and clicks to each step in your HowTo process.

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/how-to

The second HowTo layout uses accordions to display the steps.

One added benefit of HowTo Schema is its voice search potential: properly marked up HowTo content is eligible to be read aloud by Google Assistant devices. When voice searchers ask their Google Assistants for help with a task that is best answered with a “how to” guide, content marked up with HowTo Schema will be more likely to be read aloud as the answer.

Like FAQ Schema, HowTo markup presents pros and cons for marketers. Given that the rich result takes up so much space in the SERP, it’s a great way to make your listing stand out compared to competing results. However, if users can get all the information they need from your marked-up content within the search results, it may result in fewer clicks going to your website, which coincides with Google’s rise in no-click searches.

In rolling out HowTo markup, it’s important to monitor the impact the Schema has on your impressions, clicks, and rankings for the page, to make sure the Schema is producing positive results for your business. For publishers whose sites rely on ad revenue, the potential loss in click-through-rate might not be worth the enhanced appearance of HowTo markup in the search results.

Does HowTo markup earn featured snippets for “how to” queries?

Given that virtually every “How To” query generates a Featured Snippet result, I wanted to see whether there was any correlation between implementing HowTo Schema and earning Featured Snippets. I conducted an analysis of 420 URLs currently ranking in Featured Snippets for common “how to” queries, and only 3 these pages are currently using HowTo markup. While this Schema type is still relatively new, it doesn’t appear to be the case that using HowTo markup is a prerequisite for earning the Featured Snippet for “how to” queries.

Q&A Schema

Q&A Schema is another new Schema type used for pages that contain a question and a way for users to submit answers to that question. The Q&A Schema should be applied only on pages that have one question as the main focus on the page — not a variety of different questions. In its documentation, Google also distinguishes between Q&A and FAQ markup: If users are not able to add their own answers to the question, FAQ markup should be used instead.

Q&A Schema is great for forums or other online message boards where users can ask a question and the community can submit answers, such as the Moz Q&A Forum.

Google strongly recommends that Q&A Schema include a URL that links directly to each individual answer to improve user experience. As with HowTo Schema, this can be done using anchor (#) links, which can then be monitored individually in Google Search Console.

Image source: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/data-types/qapage

Blending Schema types

Another exciting new development with these new Schema types is the opportunity to blend multiple types of Schema that generate rich results on the same page. FAQ Schema in particular works as a great supplement to other Schema types, such as Product or Professional Service, which can generate stars, review counts, or other attributes in the SERP. Below is an example of how these combined Schema types can look on mobile:

If it makes sense for your content, it may be worth testing adding FAQ or HowTo markup to pages that already have other Schema types that generate rich results. It’s possible that Google will display multiple rich result types at once for certain queries, or it could change the rich appearance of your listing depending on the query. This could potentially lead to a big increase in the click-through-rate given how much space these mixed results take up in the SERP.

Note: there is no guarantee Google will always display blended Schema types the way it currently does for websites who have already done this implementation. Google is always changing how it displays rich results, so it’s important to test this on your own pages and see what Google chooses to display.

Risks involved with implementing Schema

It would be irresponsible to write about using Schema without including a warning about the potential risks involved. For one, Google maintains specific criteria about how Schema should be used, and misusing the markup (whether intentionally or not) can result in a structured data manual action. A common way this occurs is when the JSON-LD code includes information that is not visible for users on the page.

Secondly, it can be tempting to implement Schema markup without thoroughly thinking through the impact it can have on the click-through-rate of the page. It is possible that Schema markup can result in such a positive user experience within the SERP, that it can actually cause a decline in click-through-rate and less traffic to your site (as users get all the information they need within the search results). These considerations require that marketers think strategically about whether and how to implement Schema to ensure they are not only complying with Google’s guidelines but also using Schema in a way that will provide meaningful results for their websites.

Lastly, it is possible that Google will update its quality guidelines around how rich results are displayed if they find that these new Schema types are leading to spam or low-quality results.

Avoid misusing Schema, or it’s possible Google might take away these fantastic opportunities to enhance our organic listings in the future.

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5 Common Objections to SEO (& How to Respond) – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by KameronJenkins

How many of these have you heard over the years? Convincing clients and stakeholders that SEO is worth it is half the battle. From doubts about the value of its traffic to concerns over time and competition with other channels, it seems like there’s an argument against our jobs at every turn. 

In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins cover the five most common objections to SEO and how to counter them with smart, researched, fact-based responses.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, everybody. Welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins, and today we’re going to be going through five common objections to SEO and how to respond. Now I know, if you’re watching this and you’re an SEO, you have faced some of these very objections before and probably a lot of others.

This is not an exhaustive list. I’m sure you’ve faced a ton of other objections, whether you’re talking to a potential client, maybe you’re talking to your friend or your family member. A lot of people have misunderstandings about SEO and that causes them to object to wanting to invest in it. So I thought I’d go through some of the ones that I hear the most and how I tend to respond in those situations. Hopefully, you’ll find that helpful.

1. “[Other channel] drives more traffic/conversions, so it’s better.”

Let’s dive in. The number one objection I hear a lot of the time is this other channel, whether that be PPC, social, whatever, drives more traffic or conversions, therefore it’s better than SEO. I want to respond a few different ways depending. 

Success follows investment

So the number one thing I would usually say is that don’t forget that success follows investment.

So if you are investing a lot of time and money and talent into your PPC or social and you’re not really doing much with organic, you’re kind of just letting it go, usually that means, yeah, that other channel is going to be a lot more successful. So just keep that in mind. It’s not inherently successful or not. It kind of reflects the effort you’re putting into it.

Every channel serves a different purpose

Number two, I would say that every channel serves a different purpose. You’re not going to expect social media to drive conversions a lot of the time, because a lot of the time social is for engagement. It’s for more top of the funnel. It’s for more audience development. SEO, a lot of the time that lives at your top and mid-funnel efforts. It can convert, but not always.

So just keep that in mind. Every channel serves a different purpose. 

Assists vs last click only

The last thing I would say, kind of dovetailing off of that, is that assists versus last click only I know is a debate when it comes to attribution. But just keep in mind that when SEO and organic search doesn’t convert as the last click before conversion, it still usually assists in the process. So look at your assisted conversions and see how SEO is contributing.

2. “SEO is dead because the SERPs are full of ads.”


The number two objection I usually hear is SEO is dead because the SERPs are full of ads. To that, I would respond with a question. 

What SERPs are you looking at? 

It really depends on what you’re querying. If you’re only looking at those bottom funnel, high cost per click, your money keywords, absolutely those are monetized.

Those are going to be heavily monetized, because those are at the bottom of the funnel. So if you’re only ever looking at that, you might be pessimistic when it comes to your SEO. You might not be thinking that SEO has any kind of value, because organic search, those organic results are pushed down really low when you’re looking at those bottom funnel terms. So I think these two pieces of research are really interesting to look at in tandem when it comes to a response to this question.

I think this was put out sometime last year by Varn Research, and it said that 60% of people, when they see ads on the search results, they don’t even recognize that they’re ads. That’s actually probably higher now that Google changed it from green to black and it kind of blends in a little bit better with the rest of it. But then this data from Jumpshot says that only about 2% to 3% of all search clicks go to PPC.

So how can these things coexist? Well, they can coexist because the vast majority of searches don’t trigger ads. A lot more searches are informational and navigational more so than commercial. 

People research before buying

So just keep in mind that people are doing a lot of research before buying.

A lot of times they’re looking to learn more information. They’re looking to compare. Keep in mind your buyer’s entire journey, their entire funnel and focus on that. Don’t just focus on the bottom of the funnel, because you will get discouraged when it comes to SEO if you’re only looking there. 

Better together

Also, they’re just better together. There are a lot of studies that show that PPC and SEO are more effective when they’re both shown on the search results together for a single company.

I’m thinking of one by Seer, they did right now, that showed the CTR is higher for both when they’re on the page together. So just keep that in mind. 

3. “Organic drives traffic, just not the right kind.”

The number three objection I hear a lot is that organic drives traffic, just not the right kind of traffic. People usually mean a few different things when they say that. 

Branded vs non-branded

Number one, they could mean that organic drives traffic, but it’s usually just branded traffic anyway.

It’s just people who know about us already, and they’re searching our business name and they’re finding us. That could be true. But again, that’s probably because you’re not investing in SEO, not because SEO is not valuable. I would also say that a lot of times this is pretty easily debunked. A lot of times inadvertently people are ranking for non-branded terms that they didn’t even know they were ranking for.

So go into Google Search Console, look at their non-branded queries and see what’s driving impressions and clicks to the website. 

Assists are important too

Number two, again, just to say this one more time, assists are important too. They play a part in the eventual conversion or purchase. So even if organic drives traffic that doesn’t convert as the last click before conversion, it still usually plays a role.

It can be highly qualified

Number three, it can be highly qualified. Again, this is that following the investment thing. If you are actually paying attention to your audience, you know the ways they search, how they search, what terms they search for, what’s important to your brand, then you can bring in really highly qualified traffic that’s more inclined to convert if you’re paying attention and being strategic with your SEO.

4. “SEO takes too long”

Moving on to number four, that objection I hear is SEO takes too long. That’s honestly one of the most common objections you hear about SEO. 

SEO is not a growth hack

In response to that, I would say it’s not a growth hack. A lot of people who are really antsy about SEO and like “why isn’t it working right now” are really looking for those instant results.

They want a tactic they can sprinkle on their website for instant whatever they want. Usually it’s conversions and revenue and growth. I would say it’s not a growth hack. If you’re looking at it that way, it’s going to disappoint you. 

Methodology + time = growth

But I will say that SEO is more methodology than tactic. It’s something that should be ingrained and embedded into everything you do so that over time, when it’s baked into everything you’re doing, you’re going to achieve sustained growth.

So that’s how I respond to that one. 

5. “You can’t measure the ROI.”

Number five, the last one and probably one of the most frustrating, I’m sure this is not exclusive to SEO. I know social hears it a lot. You can’t measure the ROI, therefore I don’t want to invest in it, because I don’t have proof that I’m getting a return on this investment. So people kind of tend to mean, I think, two things when they say this.

A) Predicting ROI

Number one, they really want to be able to predict ROI before they even dive in. They want assurances that if I invest in this, I’m going to get X in return, which there are a lot of, I think, problems with that inherently, but there are some ways you can get close to gauging what you’re going to get for your efforts. So what I would do in this situation is use your own website’s data to build yourself a click-through rate curve so that you know the click-through rate at your various rank positions.

By knowing that and combining that with the search volume of a keyword or a phrase that you want to go after, you can multiply the two and just say, “Hey, here’s the expected traffic we will get if you will let me work on improving our rank position from 9 to 2 or 1” or whatever that is. So there are ways to estimate and get close.

A lot of times, when you do improve, you’re focusing on improving one term, you’re likely going to get a lot more traffic than what you’re estimating because you tend to end up ranking for so many more longer tail keywords that bring in a lot of additional search volume. So you’re probably going to even underestimate when you do this. But that’s one way you can predict ROI. 

B) Measuring ROI


Number two here, measuring ROI is a lot of times what people want to be doing.

They want to be able to prove that what they’re doing is beneficial in terms of revenue. So one way to do this is to get the lifetime value of the customer, multiply that by the close rate so that you can have a goal value. Now if you turn on your conversions and set up your goals in Google Analytics, which you I think should be doing, this assumes that you’re not an e-commerce site.

There’s different tracking for that, but a similar type of methodology applies. If you apply these things, you can have a goal value. So that way, when people convert on your site, you start to rack up the actual dollar value, the estimated dollar value that whatever channel is producing. So you can go to your source/medium report and see Google organic and see how many conversions it’s producing and how much value.

This same thing applies if you go to your assisted conversions report. You can see how much value is in there as well. I think that’s really beneficial just to be able to show people like, “Look, it is generating revenue.My SEO that’s getting you organic search traffic is generating value and real dollars and cents for you.” So those are some of the most common objections that I hear.

I want to know what are some of the ones that you hear too. So pop those in the comments. Let me know the objections you hear a lot of the time and include how you’re either struggling to respond or find the right response to people or something that you found works as a response. Share that with us. We’d all love to know. Let’s make SEO better and something that people understand a lot better. So that’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday.

Come back again next week for another one.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary

Social media marketing and search engine optimization are often viewed as two disparate components of a holistic digital strategy. In some ways, they are distinct, but there is far more convergence and crossover than we’re often led to believe.

I find that looking at one side through the lens of the other invariably helps me better understand the more ambiguous aspects of each. So today I thought I’d share this perspective, with a focus on how these tactical areas can work cohesively to strengthen your brand’s visibility and impact on the web.
Similarities Between Social and Search
Let’s begin by exploring some commonalities between social media networks and social engines.

Both are massively popular internet entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Nearly the same number of people (3.48 billion) are active social media users. That’s roughly half the planet’s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, illustrate why digital marketers everywhere need to account for both search and social. They’re the first places most people go when they hop online.

People use both to answer questions. We all know this is the primary purpose of search engines. Whether users are typing in a literal semantic question, or simply inputting keywords in hopes of finding information, they are trying to find answers and solve problems. Social media doesn’t necessarily present the same direct question-and-answer format, but we usually log on to satisfy some type of curiosity. (What are people talking about right now? What do my friends and connections have to say about recent events? Is this dress white and gold, or black and blue?)

Both are critical brand touchpoints. Two of the easiest ways for any customer to vet a company are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social media accounts. It’s pretty easy to tell based on a brand’s search rankings, SERP display, and site structure whether they have a sound digital strategy. The same is true of a quick glance at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’s difficult to find your company through search or social — or if you give off a poor first impression on either front — that’s an immediate credibility-crusher.
Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically
SEO and social media marketing are fundamentally different. There are job titles, and entire companies, dedicated specifically to each. But in an integrated digital marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize where these two facets intersect and complement one another.

#1: Keyword Research and Application

Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the backbone of a best-answer content strategy. The intel derived from these efforts can also be applied to social media marketing. As mentioned above, people use both these channels to answer questions.

With a defined understanding of which search phrases and queries are pertinent to our audiences, we can better align the content we provide. This is true on social as well. When you use the right keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more frequently in your posts, driving conversations and engagement around them, your brand will be more likely to show up on the feeds of people interested in them.

In either instance, it comes down to the same foundational crux of almost any content strategy: What do your customers want to know, and how can you deliver it?

#2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search

Try entering your company’s name into a Google search. What’s the first result? Hopefully your website’s homepage. The second and third might also be pages from your own domain. But very frequently, the first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing below as a typical example.)

LinkedIn* is a particularly impactful platform in this regard; search engines crawl it, so incorporating savvy SEO tactics on your company’s LinkedIn Page can actually benefit your rankings. This hasn’t been quite as true for other networks, which were once almost invisible to Google, but research from HootSuite did find a dramatic increase in the appearance of Facebook and Twitter content in SERPS starting in late 2015:

“Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted,” writes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. “If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.”

#3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search

It’s been a hotly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Google has claimed for years that social signals are not a ranking factor. Yet, HootSuite’s experimentation found that “there appears to be a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.” Another study last year from Searchmetrics reached the same conclusion.

We still don’t have complete clarity around this relationship, which would earn a Facebook status of “It’s complicated.” Although we don’t believe social signals directly impact search rankings, there is definitely a correlation, which is widely attributed to the byproducts of highly successful social content. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, “Social media may not be a ranking factor for Google, but it can amplify the ranking factors that Google DOES consider.”

In other words, when a link to your content gains traction on social media, it tends to gain more general prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand authority, etc. This, in turn, helps the page earn more visibility in the eyes of Google.

The key is simply getting people to click through on those links, which brings us to the final point of convergence.

#4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial

Search engine optimization today isn’t so much about keyword-stuffing; Google is too smart to be gamed by it. The engine’s sole mission is to deliver the most satisfactory results for a given query, meaning it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more heavily than text arrangement. That’s why an irresistible headline and meta description are so vital to SERP success.

This is also at the heart of social media marketing. In a sea of competing ephemeral content, you’ve really gotta stand out to capture someone’s attention and compel a click. (Especially since social media networks, unlike search engines, aren’t all that interested in sending users over to your website, so the algorithms will often work against you for outbound links.)  

If you find a particular angle or message is especially resonant on social platforms (even if just for driving engagement, not clicks), you might consider adopting it for your meta descriptions to see if it improves CTRs, and vice versa.
Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom
These are separate tactical areas of digital marketing, but to treat them as completely independent would be a mistake. At TopRank Marketing, we view SEO and social media marketing as two complementary aspects of a fully integrated content marketing strategy, with numerous functional similarities and intersectional opportunities. Understanding how to maximize both in unison is instrumental to unleashing your brand’s full potential.

Want to learn more about how different tactics can work together harmoniously in today’s digital strategies? Check out our recent post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know.

* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client

The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complementary appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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How to Screen and Recruit the Best SEO Content Writers

Posted by Victor_Ijidola

It’s easy to find writers; they’re everywhere — from a one-second Google search to asking on LinkedIn.

But hiring the best ones? That’s the daunting task marketers and business owners face. And you do not just need writers, you need exceptional SEO content writers.

Mainly because that’s what Google (aka the largest traffic driver of most sites) has clearly been clamoring for since their Panda update in 2011, RankBrain in 2015, and their “Fred” update (and by the way, Gary Illyes from Google coined “Fred’ for every unnamed Google update) in March, 2017.

It’s obvious how each of these major updates communicates Google’s preference for excellent SEO writers:

If you’re a frequent Moz reader, you probably know how they work — but if not: Panda penalizes every webpage with content that adds little to no value to people online, giving more visibility to content pieces that do. On its own, the RankBrain update has made Google almost as smart as humans — when choosing the most relevant and high-quality content to rank on page #1 of search engine result pages (SERPs).

The “Fred” update further tackled sites with low-quality content that aren’t doing anything beyond providing information that’s already available on the internet. It also penalized sites that prioritized revenue above user experience.

After this update, 100+ sites saw their traffic drop by 50 percent to 90 percent.

It is evident that Google has, through these core updates, been requiring brands, publishers, and marketers to work with SEO content writers who know their onions; the ones who know how to write with on-page SEO mastery.

But how do you find these exceptional wordsmiths? Without a plan, you will have to screen tens (or even hundreds) of them to find those who are a good fit.

But let’s make it easier for you. Essentially, your ideal SEO writers should have two key traits:

Good on-page SEO expertiseA great eye for user experience (i.e. adding relevant images, formatting, etc.)

A writer with these two skills is a great SEO writer. But let’s dig a bit deeper into what that means.

(Note: this post is about hiring exceptional SEO content writers — i.e., wordsmiths who don’t need you monitoring them to do great work. So, things can get a bit techie as you read on. I’ll be assuming your ideal writer understands or is responsible for things like formatting, on-page SEO, and correctly uploading content into your CMS.)

1. On-page SEO knowledge

By now, you know what on-page SEO is. But if not, it’s simply the elements you put on a site or web page to let search engines understand that you have content on specific topics people are searching for.

So, how do you know if a writer has good on-page SEO knowledge?

Frankly, “Can you send me your previous writing samples?” is the ideal question to ask any writer you’re considering hiring. Once they show their samples, have them walk you through each one, and ask yourself the following questions:

Question A: Do they have ‘focus keywords’ in their previous samples?

Several factors come into play when trying to rank any page, but your ideal writer must know how to hold things down on the keyword side of things.

Look through their samples; see if they have optimized any content piece for a specific keyword in the past so you can know if they’ll be able to do the same for your content.

Question B: How do they use title tags?

Search engines use title tags to detect the headings in your content.

You know how it works: put “SEO strategy” — for example — in a few, relevant headings on a page and search engines will understand the page is teaching SEO strategy.

Essentially, your ideal SEO writer should understand how to use them to improve your rankings and attract clicks from your potential customers in search results.

Are title tags really that important? They are. Ahrefs, for instance, made their title tag on a page more descriptive and this alone upped their traffic by 37.58%.

So, look through the titles in your candidate’s samples, especially the h1 title. Here’s what you should look for when examining how a candidate uses HTML tags:

i. Header tags should, ideally, not be more than 60 characters. This is to avoid results that look like this in SERPs:

(three dots in front of your titles constitutes bad UX — which Google frowns at)

ii. The subheadings should be h2 (not necessarily, but it’s a plus)

iii. Headings under subtopics should be h3 (also not necessary, but it’s a plus)

Look for these qualities in your candidate’s work and you’ll be able to confirm that they properly implement title tags in their content, and can do the same for you.

But some writers may not have control over the title tags in their published works — that is, the sites they wrote for probably didn’t give them such access. In this case, request samples they published on their own site, where they actually have control over these tags.

Question C: What do they know about internal linking?

Orbit Media once shared how they used internal linking to shoot a blog post from position #29 up to #4.

So, it’s important that your writers know how to contextually link to your older content pieces while writing new content. And it works for good reason; internal linking helps you:

Communicate the relevance and value of your pages to Google (the more links a page gets, the more authority it has in Google’s eyes)
Demonstrate to Google that your site contains in-depth content about any specific topic
Tell Google your site has easy navigation — which means it has good UX and is well-structured.

Internal linking is a major key to search ranking, so you need writers who have internal linking in their pocketful of tools. But also ensure they do it using proper anchor texts; in a recent LinkedIn post, expert editor Rennie Sanusi hinted at two key anchor text elements to look for in your candidate’s samples:

[Anchor texts] should clearly explain where they’ll take your reader to[Anchor texts] shouldn’t be too long
Question D: Do they write long-form content?

The average word count of a Google first page result is 1,800+ words long — according to research from Backlinko.

Google has been all about in-depth content since its inception; you’re probably familiar with their mission statement:

Every algorithm change they make is geared toward achieving this mission statement, and ranking long-form content helps them in the process as well.

Because, to them, writing longer content means you’re putting more information that searchers are looking for into your content.

So you need writers who can produce long-form content. Check their samples and confirm they know how to write long-form content on a regular basis.

Question E: Have they ranked for any important keywords?

Ultimately, you need to see examples of important keywords your ideal content writer has ranked for in the past. This is the utmost test of their ability to actually drive search traffic your way.

That’s it for finding writers who know on-page SEO. But as you know, that’s only one part of the skills that makes a great SEO content writer.

The other important bit is their ability to write content that engages humans. In other words, they need to know how to keep people reading a page for several minutes (or even hours), leading them to take actions that are important to your business.

2. A great eye for user experience

Keeping readers on a page for long durations also improves your ranking.

In the aforementioned Backlinko study, researchers analyzed 100,000 sites and found that “websites with low average bounce rates are strongly correlated with higher rankings.”

And you know what that means; your ideal SEO writer should not only write to rank on search engines, they must also write to attract and keep the attention of your target audience.

So, look for the following in their samples:

Headlines and introductions that hook readers

You need writers who are expert enough to know the types of headlines and opening paragraphs that work.

It’s not a hard skill to spot; look through their samples. If their titles and introductions don’t hook you, they probably won’t hook your audience. It’s really that simple.

Explainer images and visuals

The report also revealed that: “Content with at least one image significantly outperformed content without any images.”

But of course, they have to be relevant images (or other visual types). And many times (if not most of the time), that means explainer images — so look out for those in their samples. And there are two examples of explainer images:

Example #1: Explainer images with text and pointers

This one has elements (an arrow and a text) on it, explaining how the image is relevant to the topic the content is about.

Example #2: Explainer images without text and pointers

Why does this image not have any text or arrows on it? It’s a self-explanatory screenshot, that’s why.

As long as it’s used appropriately — where the “online sales of Nike products” is mentioned in the content — it gets its message across.

In general, your ideal SEO writers need to know how to use tools like Skitch and Canva to create these images. Remember, you’re on a hunt for the exceptional ones.

References and citing resources

Your ideal writer should link to stats or studies that make their points stronger. This one’s pretty self-explanatory. Check the links in their samples and make sure they cite genuine resources.

Examples

Illustrations make understanding easier. Especially if you’re in a technical industry (and most industries have their geeky side), your ideal writer should know how to explain their points with examples.

Simply search their samples — using Command + F (or Ctrl F if you’re using Windows) — for “example,” “instance,” or “illustration.” This works, because writers usually mention things like “for example,” or “for instance” when providing illustrations.

Excellent SEO content writers = Higher search rankings

Getting SEO content writers who have all the skills I’ve mentioned in this article are possible to find. And hiring them means higher search rankings for your content. These writers are, again, everywhere. But here’s the thing — and you’ve probably heard it before: You get what you pay for.

Exceptional SEO content writers are your best bet, but they’re not cheap. They can send your search traffic through the roof, but, like you: They want to work for people who can afford the quality they provide. So, if you’re going on a hunt for them, ready your wallet.

But ensure you get their samples and ask the questions in this guide as you deem fit. If you’re paying for content that’ll help you rank higher on Google, then you really should get what you pay for.

Did you find any of my tips helpful? Let me know in the comments below!

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The New Moz Local Is on Its Way!

Posted by MiriamEllis

Exciting secrets can be so hard to keep. Finally, all of us at Moz have the green light to share with all of you a first glimpse of something we’ve been working on for months behind the scenes. Big inhale, big exhale…

Announcing: the new and improved Moz Local, to be rolled out beginning June 12!

Why is Moz updating the Moz Local platform?

Local search has evolved from caterpillar to butterfly in the seven years since we launched Moz Local. I think we’ve spent the time well, intensively studying both Google’s trajectory and the feedback of enterprise, marketing agency, and SMB customers.

Your generosity in telling us what you need as marketers has inspired us to action. Over the coming months, you’ll be seeing what Moz has learned reflected in a series of rollouts. Stage by stage, you’ll see that we’re planning to give our software the wings it needs to help you fully navigate the dynamic local search landscape and, in turn, grow your business.

We hope you’ll keep gathering together with us to watch Moz Local take full flight — changes will only become more robust as we move forward.

What can I expect from this upgrade?

Beginning June 12th, Moz Local customers will experience a fresh look and feel in the Moz Local interface, plus these added capabilities:

New distribution partners to ensure your data is shared on the platforms that matter most in the evolving local search ecosystemListing status and real-time updates to know the precise status of your location data Automated detection and permanent duplicate closure, taking the manual work out of the process and saving you significant timeIntegrations with Google and Facebook to gain deeper insights, reporting, and management for your location’s profilesAn even better data clean-up process to ensure valid data is formatted properly for distributionA new activity feed to alert you to any changes to your location’s listingsA suggestion engine to provide recommendations to increase accuracy, completeness, and consistency of your location data

Additional features available include:

Managing reviews of your locations to keep your finger on the pulse of what customers are sayingSocial posting to engage with consumers and alert them to news, offers, and other updatesStore locator and landing pages to share location data easily with both customers and search engines (available for Moz Local customers with 100 or more locations)

Remember, this is just the beginning. There’s more to come in 2019, and you can expect ongoing communications from us as further new feature sets emerge!

When is it happening?

We’ll be rolling out all the new changes beginning on June 12th. As with some large changes, this update will take a few days to complete, so some people will see the changes immediately while for others it may take up to a week. By June 21st, everyone should be able to explore the new Moz Local experience!

Don’t worry — we’ll have several more communications between now and then to help you prepare. Keep an eye out for our webinar and training materials to help ensure a smooth transition to the new Moz Local.

Are any metrics/scores changing?

Some of our reporting metrics will look different in the new Moz Local. We’ll be sharing more information on these metrics and how to use them soon, but for now, here’s a quick overview of changes you can expect:

Profile Completeness: Listing Score will be replaced by the improved Profile Completeness metric. This new feature will give you a better measurement of how complete your data is, what’s missing from it, and clear prompts to fill in any lacking information.Improved listing status reporting: Partner Accuracy Score will be replaced by improved reporting on listing status with all of our partners, including continuous information about the data they’ve received from us. You’ll be able to access an overview of your distribution network, so that you can see which sites your business is listed on. Plus, you’ll be able to go straight to the live listing with a single click.Visibility Index: Though they have similar names, Visibility Score is being replaced by something slightly different with the new and improved Visibility Index, which notates how the data you’ve provided us about a location matches or mismatches your information on your live listings.New ways to measure and act on listing reach: Reach Score will be leaving us in favor of even more relevant measurement via the Visibility Index and Profile Completeness metrics. The new Moz Local will include more actionable information to ensure your listings are accurate and complete.
Other FAQs

You’ll likely have questions if you’re a current Moz Local customer or are considering becoming one. Please check out our resource center for further details, and feel free to leave us a question down in the comments — we’ll be on point to respond to any wonderings or concerns you might have!

Head to the FAQs

Where is Moz heading with this?

As a veteran local SEO, I’m finding the developments taking place with our software particularly exciting because, like you, I see how local search and local search marketing have matured over the past decade.

I’ve closely watched the best minds in our industry moving toward a holistic vision of how authenticity, customer engagement, data, analysis, and other factors underpin local business success. And we’ve all witnessed Google’s increasingly sophisticated presentation of local business information evolve and grow. It’s been quite a ride!

At every level of local commerce, owners and marketers deserve tools that bring order out of what can seem like chaos. We believe you deserve software that yields strategy. As our CEO, Sarah Bird, recently said of Moz,

“We are big believers in the power of local SEO.”

So the secret is finally out, and you can see where Moz is heading with the local side of our product lineup. It’s our serious plan to devote everything we’ve got into putting the power of local SEO into your hands.

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How to Use Ahrefs for Keyword Research (And Earn More on Your Website)


In this video, we’ll cover how to use Ahrefs for keyword research your website. With Ahrefs you can do selective searches based on the platform such as Google, Youtube, Amazon or a few other sites.

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Once you search for a keyword with Ahrefs you will have the difficulty indicator for how many backlinks you would want to have to rank well with your site. There is also the search volume to give you an idea of how often the word is searched for and to give an idea of if it is a seasonal search or you can narrow this by country. Ahrefs even has an estimation of how many clicks a site in the first position will normally receive per month.

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The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complimentary

Social media marketing and search engine optimization are often viewed as two disparate components of a holistic digital strategy. In some ways, they are distinct, but there is far more convergence and crossover than we’re often led to believe.

I find that looking at one side through the lens of the other invariably helps me better understand the more ambiguous aspects of each. So today I thought I’d share this perspective, with a focus on how these tactical areas can work cohesively to strengthen your brand’s visibility and impact on the web.
Similarities Between Social and Search
Let’s begin by exploring some commonalities between social media networks and social engines.

Both are massively popular internet entry points. Google processes 3.5 billion searches every day. Nearly the same number of people (3.48 billion) are active social media users. That’s roughly half the planet’s population. These numbers, in a nutshell, illustrate why digital marketers everywhere need to account for both search and social. They’re the first places most people go when they hop online.

People use both to answer questions. We all know this is the primary purpose of search engines. Whether users are typing in a literal semantic question, or simply inputting keywords in hopes of finding information, they are trying to find answers and solve problems. Social media doesn’t necessarily present the same direct question-and-answer format, but we usually log on to satisfy some type of curiosity. (What are people talking about right now? What do my friends and connections have to say about recent events? Is this dress white and gold, or black and blue?)

Both are critical brand touchpoints. Two of the easiest ways for any customer to vet a company are by: A) Pulling them up in a Google search, or B) Checking out their social media accounts. It’s pretty easy to tell based on a brand’s search rankings, SERP display, and site structure whether they have a sound digital strategy. The same is true of a quick glance at their Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn accounts. If it’s difficult to find your company through search or social — or if you give off a poor first impression on either front — that’s an immediate credibility-crusher.
Where Search and Social Can Work Together Strategically
SEO and social media marketing are fundamentally different. There are job titles, and entire companies, dedicated specifically to each. But in an integrated digital marketing strategy, it’s important to recognize where these two facets intersect and complement one another.

#1: Keyword Research and Application

Keywords (and extensions thereof) form the backbone of a best-answer content strategy. The intel derived from these efforts can also be applied to social media marketing. As mentioned above, people use both these channels to answer questions.

With a defined understanding of which search phrases and queries are pertinent to our audiences, we can better align the content we provide. This is true on social as well. When you use the right keywords (and, in this case, hashtags) more frequently in your posts, driving conversations and engagement around them, your brand will be more likely to show up on the feeds of people interested in them.

In either instance, it comes down to the same foundational crux of almost any content strategy: What do your customers want to know, and how can you deliver it?

#2: Social Content Can Show Up in Search

Try entering your company’s name into a Google search. What’s the first result? Hopefully your website’s homepage. The second and third might also be pages from your own domain. But very frequently, the first third-party link will be your LinkedIn Page. (See the SERP for TopRank Marketing below as a typical example.)

LinkedIn* is a particularly impactful platform in this regard; search engines crawl it, so incorporating savvy SEO tactics on your company’s LinkedIn Page can actually benefit your rankings. This hasn’t been quite as true for other networks, which were once almost invisible to Google, but research from HootSuite did find a dramatic increase in the appearance of Facebook and Twitter content in SERPS starting in late 2015:

“Admittedly, the majority of social links within the SERPs appear for branded search terms, but this should not be discounted,” writes Simon Ensor at Search Engine Watch. “If we are in fact looking at marketing as a more holistic practice in the digital age, then we have to ensure that your branded search terms result in high click-through rates from search.”

#3: Social Signals (Indirectly) Affect Search

It’s been a hotly debated topic in the digital marketing world. Google has claimed for years that social signals are not a ranking factor. Yet, HootSuite’s experimentation found that “there appears to be a strong correlation between social activity and rankings.” Another study last year from Searchmetrics reached the same conclusion.

We still don’t have complete clarity around this relationship, which would earn a Facebook status of “It’s complicated.” Although we don’t believe social signals directly impact search rankings, there is definitely a correlation, which is widely attributed to the byproducts of highly successful social content. As Sharon Hurley Hall puts it, “Social media may not be a ranking factor for Google, but it can amplify the ranking factors that Google DOES consider.”

In other words, when a link to your content gains traction on social media, it tends to gain more general prominence: pageviews, backlinks, brand authority, etc. This, in turn, helps the page earn more visibility in the eyes of Google.

The key is simply getting people to click through on those links, which brings us to the final point of convergence.

#4: Compelling Clicks is Crucial

Search engine optimization today isn’t so much about keyword-stuffing; Google is too smart to be gamed by it. The engine’s sole mission is to deliver the most satisfactory results for a given query, meaning it will weigh click-throughs and time on page more heavily than text arrangement. That’s why an irresistible headline and meta description are so vital to SERP success.

This is also at the heart of social media marketing. In a sea of competing ephemeral content, you’ve really gotta stand out to capture someone’s attention and compel a click. (Especially since social media networks, unlike search engines, aren’t all that interested in sending users over to your website, so the algorithms will often work against you for outbound links.)  

If you find a particular angle or message is especially resonant on social platforms (even if just for driving engagement, not clicks), you might consider adopting it for your meta descriptions to see if it improves CTRs, and vice versa.
Social and SEO: Two Keys to the Content Kingdom
These are separate tactical areas of digital marketing, but to treat them as completely independent would be a mistake. At TopRank Marketing, we view SEO and social media marketing as two complementary aspects of a fully integrated content marketing strategy, with numerous functional similarities and intersectional opportunities. Understanding how to maximize both in unison is instrumental to unleashing your brand’s full potential.

Want to learn more about how different tactics can work together harmoniously in today’s digital strategies? Check out our recent post from Caitlin on The Intersection of SEO & Influencer Marketing: What B2B Marketers Need to Know.

* Disclosure: LinkedIn is a TopRank Marketing client

The post The Relationship Between SEO and Social: It’s Complicated … and Complimentary appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

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The One-Hour Guide to SEO: Searcher Satisfaction – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Satisfying your searchers is a big part of what it means to be successful in modern SEO. And optimal searcher satisfaction means gaining a deep understanding of them and the queries they use to search. In this section of the One-Hour Guide to SEO, Rand covers everything you need to know about how to satisfy searchers, including the top four priorities you need to have and tips on how to avoid pogo-sticking in the SERPs.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to our special edition One-Hour Guide to SEO Part III on searcher satisfaction. So historically, if we were doing a guide to SEO in the long-ago past, we probably wouldn’t even be talking about searcher satisfaction.

What do searchers want from Google’s results?

But Google has made such a significant number of advances in the last 5 to 10 years that searcher satisfaction is now a huge part of how you can be successful in SEO. I’ll explain what I mean here. Let’s say our friend Arlen here is thinking about going on vacation to Italy.

So she goes to Google. She types in “best places to visit in Italy,” and she gets a list of results. Now Google sorts those results in a number of ways. They sort them by the most authoritative, the most comprehensive. They use links and link data in a lot of different ways to try and get at that. They use content data, what’s on the page, and keyword data.

They use historical performance data about which sites have done well for searchers in the past. All of these things sort of feed into searcher satisfaction. So when Arlen performs this query, she has a bunch of questions in her head, things like I want a list of popular Italian vacation destinations, and I want some comparison of those locations.

Maybe I want the ability to sort and filter based on my personal preferences. I want to know the best times of year to go. I want to know the weather forecast and what to see and do and hotel and lodging info and transportation and accessibility information and cultural tips and probably dozens more questions that I can’t even list out here. But when you, as a content creator and as a search engine optimization professional, are creating and crafting content and trying to optimize that content so that it performs well in Google’s results, you need to be considering what are all of these questions.

How to craft content that satisfies your searchers

This is why searcher empathy, customer empathy, being able to get inside Arlen’s head or your customer’s head and say, “What does she want? What is she looking for?” is one of the most powerful ways to craft content that performs better than your competition in search engines, because it turns out a lot of people don’t do this.


Priority 1: Answer the searcher’s questions comprehensively and with authority

So if I’m planning my page, what is the best page I could possibly craft to try and rank for “best places to visit in Italy,” which is a very popular search term, extremely competitive? I would think about obviously there’s all sorts of keyword stuff and on-page optimization stuff, which we will talk about in Part IV, but my priorities are answer the searcher’s primary questions comprehensively and authoritatively. If I can do that, I am in good shape. I’m ahead of a lot of the pack.

Priority 2: Provide an easy-to-use, fast-loading, well-designed interface that’s a pleasure to interact with

Second, I want to provide a great user experience. That means easy to use, fast-loading, well-designed, that’s a pleasure to interact with. I want the experience of a visitor, a searcher who lands on this page to be, “Wow, this is much better than the typical experience that I get when I land on a lot of other sites.”

Priority 3: Solve the searcher’s next tasks and questions with content, tools, or links

Priority three, I want to solve the searcher’s next tasks and questions with either content on my own site or tools and resources or links or the ability to do them right here so that they don’t have to go back to Google and do other things or visit other websites to try and accomplish the tasks, like figuring out a good hotel or figuring out the weather forecast. A lot of sites don’t do this comprehensively today, which is why it’s an advantage if you do. 

Priority 4: Consider creative elements that may give you a long-term competitive advantage

Priority four is consider some creative elements, maybe interactive tools or an interactive map or sorting and filtering options that could give you a long-term, competitive advantage, something that’s difficult for other people who want to rank for this search term to build.

Maybe that’s the data that you get. Maybe it’s the editorial content. Maybe it’s your photographs. Maybe it’s your tools and interactive elements. Whatever the case. 

Do NOT give searchers a reason to click that back button!

One of the biggest goals of searcher satisfaction is to make sure that this scenario does not happen to you. You do not want to give searchers a reason to click that back button and choose someone else.

The search engine literature calls this “pogo sticking.” Basically, if I do a search for “best places to visit in Italy”and I click on, let’s say, US News & World Reports and I find that that page does not do a great job answering my query, or it does a fine job, but it’s got a bunch of annoying popovers and it’s slow loading and it has all these things that it’s trying to sell me, and so I click the back button and I choose a different result from Touropia or Earth Trackers.

Over time, Google will figure out that US News & World Reports is not doing a good job of answering the searcher’s query, of providing a satisfactory experience, and they will push them down in the results and they will push these other ones, that are doing a good job, up in the results. You want to be the result that satisfies a searcher, that gets into their head and answers their questions and helps them solve their task, and that will give you an advantage over time in Google’s rankings.

All right, we’ll see you next time for Part IV on on-page optimization. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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SEO Is a Means to an End: How Do You Prove Your Value to Clients?

Posted by KameronJenkins

“Prove it” is pretty much the name of the game at this point.

As SEOs, we invest so much effort into finding opportunities for our clients, executing strategies, and on the best days, getting the results we set out to achieve.

That’s why it feels so deflating (not to mention mind-boggling) when, after all those increases in rankings, traffic, and conversions our work produced, our clients still aren’t satisfied.

Where’s the disconnect?

The value of SEO in today’s search landscape

You don’t have to convince SEOs that their work is valuable. We know full well how our work benefits our clients’ websites.

Our attention on crawling and indexing ensures that search engine bots crawl all our clients’ important pages, that they’re not wasting time on any unimportant pages, and that only the important, valuable pages are in the index. Because we understand how Googlebot and other crawlers work, we’re cognizant of how to ensure that search engines understand our pages as they’re intended to be understood, as well as able to eliminate any barriers to that understanding (ex: adding appropriate structured data, diagnosing JavaScript issues, etc.)We spend our time improving speed, ensuring appropriate language targeting, looking into UX issues, ensuring accessibility, and more because we know the high price that Google places on the searcher experience. We research the words and phrases that our clients’ ideal customers use to search for solutions to their problems and help create content that satisfies those needs. In turn, Google rewards our clients with high rankings that capture clicks. Over time, this can lower our clients’ customer acquisition costs. Time spent on earning links for our clients earns them the authority needed to earn trust and perform well in search results.

There are so many other SEO activities that drive real, measurable impact for our clients, even in a search landscape that is more crowded and getting less clicks than ever before. Despite those results, we’ll still fall short if we fail to connect the dots for our clients.

Rankings, traffic, conversions… what’s missing?

What’s a keyword ranking worth without clicks?

What’s organic traffic worth without conversions?

What are conversions worth without booking/signing the lead?

Rankings, traffic, and conversions are all critical SEO metrics to track if you want to prove the success of your efforts, but they are all means to an end.

At the end of the day, what your client truly cares about is their return on investment (ROI). In other words, if they can’t mentally make the connection between your SEO results and their revenue, then the client might not keep you around for long.

From searcher to customer: I made this diagram for a past client to help demonstrate how they get revenue from SEO.

But how can you do that?

10 tips for attaching value to organic success

If you want to help your clients get a clearer picture of the real value of your efforts, try some of the following methods.

1. Know what constitutes a conversion

What’s the main action your client wants people to take on their website? This is usually something like a form fill, a phone call, or an on-site purchase (e-commerce). Knowing how your client uses their website to make money is key.

2. Ask your clients what their highest value jobs are

Know what types of jobs/purchases your client is prioritizing so you can prioritize them too. It’s common for clients to want to balance their “cash flow” jobs (usually lower value but higher volume) with their “big time” jobs (higher value but lower volume). You can pay special attention to performance and conversions on these pages.

3. Know your client’s close rate

How many of the leads your campaigns generate end up becoming customers? This will help you assign values to goals (tip #6).

4. Know your client’s average customer value

This can get tricky if your client offers different services that all have different values, but you can combine average customer value with close rate to come up with a monetary value to attach to goals (tip #6).

5. Set up goals in Google Analytics

Once you know what constitutes a conversion on your client’s website (tip #1), you can set up a goal in Google Analytics. If you’re not sure how to do this, read up on Google’s documentation.

6. Assign goal values

Knowing that the organic channel led to a conversion is great, but knowing the estimated value of that conversion is even better! For example, if you know that your client closes 10% of the leads that come through contact forms, and the average value of their customers is $500, you could assign a value of $50 per goal completion.

7. Consider having an Organic-only view in Google Analytics

For the purpose of clarity, it could be valuable to set up an additional Google Analytics view just for your client’s organic traffic. That way, when you’re looking at your goal report, you know you’re checking organic conversions and value only.

8. Calculate how much you would have had to pay for that traffic in Google Ads

I like to use the Keywords Everywhere plugin when viewing Google Search Console performance reports because it adds a cost per click (CPC) column next to your clicks column. This screenshot is from a personal blog website that I admittedly don’t do much with, hence the scant metrics, but you can see how easy this makes it to calculate how much you would have had to pay for the clicks you got your client for “free” (organically).

9. Use Multi-Channel Funnels

Organic has value beyond last-click! Even when it’s not the channel your client’s customer came through, organic may have assisted in that conversion. Go to Google Analytics > Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels.


10. Bring all your data together

How you communicate all this data is just as important as the data itself. Use smart visualizations and helpful explanations to drive home the impact your work had on your client’s bottom line.

As many possibilities as we have for proving our value, doing so can be difficult and time-consuming. Additional factors can even complicate this further, such as:

Client is using multiple methods for customer acquisition, each with its own platform, metrics, and reportingClient has low SEO maturity Client is somewhat disorganized and doesn’t have a good grasp of things like average customer value or close rate

Learn more strategies at my upcoming webinar

The challenges can seem endless, but there are ways to make this easier. I’ll be co-hosting a webinar on March 28th that focuses on this very topic. If you’re looking for ways to not only add value as an SEO but also prove it, check it out:

Save my spot!

And let’s not forget, we’re in this together! If you have any tips for showing your value to your SEO clients, share them in the comments below.

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!

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The One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 1: SEO Strategy – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Can you learn SEO in an hour? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, at least when it comes to the fundamentals! 

With this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we’re kicking off something special: a six-part series of roughly ten-minute-long videos designed to deliver core SEO concepts efficiently and effectively. It’s our hope that this will serve as a helpful resource for a wide range of people:

Beginner SEOs looking to get acquainted with the field concisely & comprehensivelyClients, bosses, and stakeholders who would benefit from an enhanced understanding of your workNew team members who need quick and easy onboardingColleagues with SEO-adjacent roles, such as web developers and software engineers

Today we’ll be covering Part 1: SEO Strategy with the man who wrote the original guide on SEO, our friend Rand. Settle in, and stay tuned next Friday for our second video covering keyword research!

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special edition of the Whiteboard Friday series. I’m Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of Moz, and I’m here with you today because I’m going to deliver a one-hour guide to SEO, front and back, so that you can learn in just an hour the fundamentals of the practice and be smarter at choosing a great SEO firm to work with, hiring SEO people. 

A handy SEO resource for your clients, team, and colleagues

If you are already in SEO, you might pick up some tips and tactics that you didn’t otherwise know or hadn’t previously considered. I want to ask those of you who are sort of intermediate level and advanced level SEOs — and I know there are many of you who have historically watched me on Whiteboard Friday and I really appreciate that — to give this video a chance even though it is at the beginner level, because my hope is that it will be valuable to you to send to your clients, your potential customers, people who join your team and work with you, developers or software engineers or web devs who you are working with and whose help you need but you want them to understand the fundamentals of SEO.

If those are the people that you’re talking to, excellent. This series is for you. We’re going to begin with SEO strategy. That is our first part. Then we’ll get into things like keyword research and technical SEO and link building and all of that good stuff as well. 

The essentials: What is SEO, and what does it do?

So first off, SEO is search engine optimization. It is essentially the practice of influencing or being able to control some of the results that Google shows when someone types in or speaks a query to their system.

I say Google. You can influence other search engines, like Bing and DuckDuckGo and Yahoo and Seznam if you’re in the Czech Republic or Baidu. But we are primarily focused on Google because Google has more than a 90% market share in the United States and, in fact, in North America and South America, in most of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East with a few exceptions.

Start with business goals

So SEO is a tactic. It’s a way to control things. It is not a business goal. No one forms a new company or sits down with their division and says, “Okay, we need to rank for all of these keywords.” Instead what you should be saying, what hopefully is happening in your teams is, “We have these business goals.”

Example: “Grow our online soccer jersey sales to a web-savvy, custom heavy audience.”

Let’s say we’re an online e-commerce shop and we sell customized soccer jerseys, well, football for those of you outside of the United States. So we want to grow our online soccer jersey sales. Great, that is a true business goal. We’re trying to build a bigger audience. We want to sell more of these jerseys. In order to do that, we have marketing goals that we want to achieve, things like we want to build brand awareness.

Next, marketing goals
Build brand awareness

We want more people to know who we are, to have heard of our particular brand, because people who have heard of us are going to be more likely to buy from us. The first time you hear about someone, very unlikely to buy. The seventh time you’ve heard about someone, much more likely to buy from them. So that is a good marketing goal, and SEO can help with that. We’ll talk about that in a sec.

Grow top-of-funnel traffic

You might want to grow top-of-funnel traffic. We want more people coming to the site overall so that we can do a better job of figuring out who is the right audience for us and converting some of those people, retargeting some of those people, capturing emails from some of those people, all those good things. 

Attract ready-to-buy fans

We want to attract ready-to-buy fans, people who are chomping at the bit to buy our soccer jerseys, customize them and get them shipped.

SEO, as a strategy, is essentially a set of tactics, things that you will do in the SEO world to rank for different keywords in the search engines or control and influence what already ranks in there so that you can achieve your marketing goals so that you can achieve your business goals.

Don’t get this backwards. Don’t start from a place of SEO. Especially if you are an SEO specialist or a practitioner or you’re joining a consulting firm, you should always have an excellent idea of what these are and why the SEO tactics that you are undertaking fit into them. If you don’t, you should be asking those questions before you begin any SEO work.

Otherwise you’re going to accomplish things and do things that don’t have the impact or don’t tie directly to the impact that the business owners care about, and that’s going to mean probably you won’t get picked up for another contract or you won’t accomplish the goals that mean you’re valuable to the team or you do things that people don’t necessarily need and want in the business and therefore you are seen as a less valuable part of it.

Finally, move into SEO strategy

But if you’re accomplishing things that can clearly tie to these, the opposite. People will really value what you do. 

Rank for low-demand, high-conversion keywords

So SEO can do things like rank for low demand, things that don’t have a lot of searches per month but they are high conversion likely keywords, keywords like “I am looking for a customized Seattle Sounders soccer jersey that’s in the away colors.” Well, there’s not a lot of search demand for that exact phrase. But if you’re searching for it, you’re very likely to convert. 

Earn traffic from high-demand, low-competition, less commerce-focused keywords

You could try and earn traffic from high-demand, low competition keywords that are less focused directly on e-commerce. So it could be things like “Seattle Sounders news” or “Seattle Sounders stats” or a comparison of “Portland Timbers versus Seattle Sounders.” These are two soccer or football clubs in the Pacific Northwest. 

Build content that attracts links and influencer engagement

Or you might be trying to do things like building content that attracts links and influencer engagement so that in the future you can rank for more competitive keywords. We’ll talk about that in a sec. SEO can do some amazing things, but there are also things that it cannot do.

What SEO can do:

If you put things in here, if you as an SEO pitch to your marketing team or your business owners that SEO can do things that it can’t, you’re going to be in trouble. So when we compose an SEO strategy, a set of tactics that tries to accomplish marketing goals that tie to business goals, SEO can do things like:

Attract searchers that are seeking your content. Control how your brand is seen in search results when someone searches for your particular name. Nudge searchers toward queries by influencing what gets suggested in the auto suggest or by suggesting related searches or people also ask boxes. 

Anything that shows up in the search results, nearly anything can be influenced by what we as SEOs can do.

What SEO cannot do:
Grow or create search demand on its own

But SEO cannot grow or create search demand by itself. So if someone says, “Hey, I want us to get more traffic for this specific keyword,” if you’re already ranking number one and you have some videos showing in the results and you’re also in the image results and you’ve got maybe a secondary page that links off to you from the results, you might say, “Hey, there’s just not more demand,” and SEO by itself can’t create that additional demand.

Build brand (by itself)

SEO also can’t build brand, at least not by itself. It can certainly be a helpful part of that structure. But if someone says, “Hey, I want us to be better known among this audience,”you can say, “Well, SEO can help a little, but it can’t build a brand on its own, and it certainly can’t build brand perception on its own.” People are going to go and visit your website. They’re going to go and experience, have an interaction with what you’ve created on the web. That is going to be far more of a brand builder, a brand indicator than just what appears in the search results. So SEO can’t do that alone. 

Directly convert customers

It also can’t directly convert customers. A lot of the time what we find is that someone will do a great job of ranking, but when you actually reach the website, when visitors reach the website, they are unsatisfied by the search, which by the way is one of the reasons why this one-hour guide is going to include a section on searcher satisfaction.

When Google sees over time that searchers are unsatisfied by a result, they will push that result down in the rankings and find someone who does a great job of satisfying searchers, and they will rank them instead. So the website has to do this. It is part of SEO. It’s certainly part of the equation, but SEO can’t influence it or control it on its own.

WORK OVERNIGHT!

Finally, last but not least, SEO cannot work overnight. It just won’t happen. SEO is a long-term investment. It is very different from paid search ads, PPC, also called SEM sometimes, buying from Google ads or from Bing ads and appearing in the sponsored results. That is a tactic where you can pour money in and optimize and get results out in 24 hours. SEO is more like a 24-month long process. 

The SEO Growth Path

I’ve tried to show that here. The fundamental concept is when you have a new website, you need to earn these things — links and engagement and historical performance in the rankings.

As you earn those things, other people are linking to you from around the web, people are talking about you, people are engaging with your pages and your brand, people start searching for your brand specifically, people are clicking you more in the search results and then having good experiences on your website, as all those great things happen, you will grow your historical engagement and links and ranking factors, all these things that we sort of put into the bucket of the authority and influence of a website.

3–6 months: Begin to rank for things in the long tail of search demand

As that grows, you will be able to first, over time, this might be three to six months down here, you might be able to rank for a few keywords in the long tail of search demand. 

6–9 months: Begin to rank for more and more competitive keywords

After six to nine months, if you’re very good at this, you may be able to rank for more and more competitive keywords.

12–18 months: Compete for tougher keywords

As you truly grow a brand that is well-known and well thought of on the internet and by search engines, 12 to 18 months in, maybe longer, you may be able to compete for tougher and tougher keywords. When I started the Moz website, back in the early days of Google, it took me years, literally two or three years before I was ranking for anything in Google, anything in the search engines, and that is because I had to first earn that brand equity, that trust, that relationship with the search engines, those links and that engagement.

Today this is more true than ever because Google is so good at estimating these things. All right. I look forward to hearing all about the amazing strategies and structures that you’ve got probably in the comments down below. I’m sure it will be a great thread. We’ll move on to the second part of our one-hour guide next time — keyword research. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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