“I probably don’t need to tell you about the power that first page Google rankings have for you, and your business. Because the fact is, if we can get your sites on the first page for keywords that your customers search for everyday – life is good. Targeted traffic rolls in, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. New clients and customers come to you.…all of this gives you more time and more freedom.”
Jon Schepke (with Search Engine Watch) pulled some great insight from Mary Meeker’s 2015 Internet Trends Report – and, in reading between the lines – could see that all lines point to… Mobile & Local Search. So if you’re still on the fence about mobile and local search marketing & optimization strategies, you might as well hand in your Marketing Badge right now. Here were his key take aways;
Optimizing for Mobile is TABLE STAKES
- Mobile searches have overtaken desktop search (sooner than projected)
- Mobile use has also overtaken desktop use, on a daily basis (see the chart above).
- 73% of the planet has a mobile phone
- “if your local search strategy fails to address the mobile consumer, you might as well not have a local search strategy”
- See Google’s recent release of Micro Moments noting that ‘near me’ searches have increased 34 times in 2011 (in Q4 2014, 80% of those searches were conducted via mobile devices).
- See Forrester’s push of Mobile Moments, by definition, “a point in time and space when someone pulls out a mobile device to get what he or she wants immediately, in context.
- See Facebook’s Retailer Beacons for businesses to offer deals & content for consumers in store via Place Tips.
- In most cases, mobile (and mobile search) is the MOST direct connection between your company & consumer demand.
Get Ready for MOBILE WALLETS
- “Brands that convert ‘near me’ searches into revenue through appealing mobile wallet offers are solving for the “last mile” of local search.” (truly creating a full circle consumer behavior).
- Whole Foods has seen mobile payments surge by 400% since adopting Apple Pay.
- Pep Boys has seen a seven-figure sales result from mobile wallet.
The best marketers know that SEO is an ongoing practice – and when done right – it is something that is monitored on a bi-weekly (if not more often) basis, noting changes in search rank due to site optimization, content, links and other ‘search signals’. Not to mention, Google rolls out hundreds of algorithm updates each year – it’s only the major changes (Penguin, Panda, Hummingbird, and iterations of those updates) that seem to get the most attention.
Among those hundreds of updates – is the latest Google Core Search Algorithm update, expected to be similar to The Quality Update in May 2015. Both of these updates push search quality forward grading several factors with site content, user experience and links – all focused on creating valuable content.
So – the moral of the story is – SEO is the constant pursuit of higher search rank (connecting search demand) to valuable content (on-page and off-page) – and if that ‘constant need’ isn’t something you can commit to service – it’s time to talk to a SEO agency.
Anyone who claims that links are dead just hasn’t been paying attention to either Google or what’s going on around them. To be honest, I’m fine with folks believing links are dead as it makes my job easier (and yours too) so let’s leave them believing it and move on.
And that’s how this latest article from Dave Davies and Search Engine Watch starts out – it had me hooked in the first paragraph. Dave goes on to talk about why he’s never again using the term “Link Building” again (based on the history of the tactic), but instead, is moving to use the term “Signal Driving” – now that off-site SEO signals come from many different areas, not just links.
Search Engine Watch and Pratik Dholakiya recently published a great list of seven ‘directives’ or rules for SEO today that sum up many of the questions we get on a daily basis – so here’s my key takeaways from the list;
- Link Building isn’t dead; it has evolved. Building links is still a critical aspect of SEO (and equates to about 40% of search rank factors) – its just how you build these links that matters.
- If you want to build backlinks, build relationships. High quality content and backlinks both take time, nurturing, and can’t be automated.
- SEO must be an enterprise-wide effort. You have to go big or go home – SEO is so content driven that every aspect of the business has a need for it, and content worth producing (from operations, to supply chain, R&D to marketing).
- Long-Tail goes a Long-Way. Google’s Hummingbird update made long-tail search more relevant than ever – and it starts with items 1-3 already on this list.
- Usability, UX and Mobile Optimization take you the rest of the way. With Google’s mobile algorithm update, it’s a clear signal that Google is rewarding those that provide a great customer experience that aligns with the upward trend of internet & search use.
- Your brand is social, Twitter is more relevant than ever. Now that Tweets are appearing in search results, implementing items 1-5 within social are critical. Next stop – Pinterest. With an ex-Google team developing the algorithm for Pinterest, it’s set to head the same way. And if you didn’t get how important video has been over the last two years, you’ll need to pick up on that, too.
- Do your thing – what is right for your business. Google updates have, and will continue to come out on a regular basis. Stick to what you know is right, and you’ll continue to stay in the good graces of Google.
Scott Brinker of @chiefmartec has done it again – further updating his Marketing Technology Landscape infographic / map. I love this infographic for two reasons; (1) if I ever need to see what companies are providing services in a certain area, I just have to zoom in 15x, and (2) it gets bigger, and bigger, and bigger every year.
The real lesson out of all of this is that if you – as a business – have to rely on a graph like this to get traffic / customers – instead of showing up on page 1 search results for a simple, topical search keyword – you have a SEO problem.
If you know nothing else about SEO in 2015 – memorize this of the TOP 11 SEO TACTICS in 2015, compiled by Pratik Dholakiya with SEW. While there are over 200 ranking factors (and a more refined, smaller list recommended by MOZ), if you can master & execute regularly on these tactics, you’re doing better than most marketers;
- Create Incredible Content that Earns Links
- Create Co-Citation Links
- Create Editorial Links
- Fix Broken Links
- Conduct Link Reclamation (Brand Mentions, Content Usage)
- Conduct Link Outreach (New Placements, Mentions, Content)
- Conduct Competitor Analysis (Find Competitor Placements)
- Focus on ROI instead of Rank
- Map your SEO Strategy to an Audience (or Audiences)
- Optimize for All Search Engines (or, well – master Google)
- Focus on Mobile SEO Criteria & Keywords
Note how 65% of that list is focused on link building – it’s certainly not dead, and still is one of the few SEO tactics that can move the needle when all else has been done with On-Page SEO.
Danny Sullivan is a pretty radical guy. When I saw him present The Changing Landscape of Search, and I noticed he was wearing Google Glass while paddle boarding I thought, “wow – you know you’ve made it when Google sends you so many Glass prototypes that you use them as goggles.”
More importantly, he made sure that everyone knows that SEO IS DEAD.
Well, not quite yet. In fact, his presentation shows all of the new changes in the search landscape that prove it is ever-changing, and that marketers need to evolve as well to adjust (in everything from scraper keywords & sites, pandas, penguins, to click to call changes). In fact – looking at a higher level on search trends, he was also able to show that search is still critically relevant – something most men realize in the day or hours before Valentines Day;
Thank you, Danny.
For those uncomfortable conversations that you need to have with executives that don’t understand how search works (or those that don’t know that ‘natural’ / organic search results aren’t really 100% natural) – Google’s found a way to make that akward convo more entertaining with Inside Search & How Search Works. Everything from how search engines (particularly Google) crawl, index sites, how their algorithm ‘works’, fighting spam, and cool toys in the ‘playground’ area (with some oldies and goodies) – and some tips & tricks on how to make life, well… easier.
Interesting report released recently by Digital Marketing Depot as a Marketer’s Guide to Enterprise SEO Platforms in 2015. This brings up the case that any platform would be useless without the team needed to assess and interpret the data, implement changes, and develop content around a solid content marketing strategy.
So – a SEO platform is really only one piece to the SEO puzzle, whereby most top SEO agencies these days give you access to these very same platforms at a reduced cost, or as part of their cost, similar to the same cost of the platform itself. SEO Strategists, Analysts, Tools, Content Dev, Link Building, Reporting Management = Agency Team, where even the… Cost of an Agency Team & Tools = Cost of a Single SEO Platform.
Still – SEO platforms are worth reviewing, just to stay on top of what’s available in the marketplace;
- Domain Factors (Domain Age, exact match, etc.)
- Page Level Factors (Tags, Content Length, Keyword Density, etc.)
- Site-Level Factors (Content, Pages, Sitemap, etc.)
- Backlink Factors (# of Linking Root Domains, .edu/.gov links, etc.)
- User Interaction (Organic CTR, Repeat Traffic, Dwell time, etc.)
- Special Algorithm Rules (Newer Pages, Searcher History, etc.)
- Social Signals (Tweets, Likes, Shares, etc.)
- Brand Signals (Branded Search, Company Page, etc)
- On-Site Webspam (Panda Penalty, Bad Links, etc.)
- Off-Page Webspam (Penguin Penalty, Unnatural Influx of Links, etc.)
Lovely! Thanks, Backlinko.
If you remember Altimeter Group‘s Converged Media Imperative when it came out in 2012, you’ll be surprised when you reread the content and realize that marketing as an industry – and most marketers – still aren’t there yet. Channels are still siloed. SEO still reigns supreme, Paid is still questionable, Social Media still exists in a bubble – and for most, marketing budgets still match last click attribution. Reevaluating this Converged Media Strategy – and with a checklist – might be the way to help make a drastic (better late than never) change in your Content Strategy;
Back to DigitalRelevance‘s 2015 Enterprise Buyer’s Guide to SEO – it includes even more info on organic search industry trends – and – trends in best vendors that sums up the state of the SEO industry in a few lists (love!) – here are the highlights;
Organic Search Trends
- The Big Picture > Sustainable SEO – understanding macro-trends (not just the micro-trend code-level updates) in SEO is mandatory, now that competition is more intense – this means SEO is at the core of your Content Strategy & marketing machine.
- Increase of Long-Tail Search Traffic (16% of all searches done today have never been seen before – and – social & video are an ever present search competitor).
- Changing Display of Search Results (Google Carousel, Knowledge Graph, and future changes & updates).
- Merging of Thought Leadership and Social Engagement – social engagement is needed as proof to Google that you’re a true thought leader (or, it could be correlary, in that brands that do great SEO also support great social efforts).
- Value of Truly Earned Links – link building is alive, and better than ever – given that it’s one of the few ways to still rise above the competition, prove relevance, and leverage content.
- Fragmentation of Search – optimization on other platforms is necessary, as Google is losing a bit of search traffic to other info providers; Amazon, Wikipedia, Yelp and mobile apps. Amazon SEO is a great next step to consider.
- Diminishing Focus on Keywords and Rankings – first manifest in Google’s encryption of keyword search data – putting more focus on the use of Google Webmaster Tools (GWT).
- Personalization – personalized results across channels will set brands apart.
- Importance of Mobile – mobile surpassed desktop in 2014 so mobile-specific content and pages are a must.
Common Traits of Winning SEO Providers
- Passion – a team that will tell any brand what it’s going to take to get the job done, not just what they want to hear – not sacrificing quality for a quick win, yet proposing a sustainable strategy that will work.
- A Track Record of Success – a demonstration of impressive and sustained results across multiple brands over time (especially if dated back to the birth of SEO).
- A Long-Term Focus – an understanding of the sales funnel and how content aligns to it, planning, measuring and creating long-term campaigns that make an impact (and please upper level execs).
- A Multi-Disciplinary Approach – a holistic, sustainable approach to SEO is a multi-disciplinary one that relies on the interplay between search, media outreach, content, technical elements and social factors (and video!).
- The Ability to Execute and Prove ROI – execution and measurement of the items above for both B2C and B2B clients.
…and, this year – starting things off right with their 2015 Enterprise Buyer’s Guide to SEO. This guide includes some 2014 SEO highlights, but also promotes a NEW SEO Structure that is at the core of all content production (right where it should be, aligned with Content Marketing) – as opposed to the OLD way of sticking SEO in a nice compartment right under all of search marketing;
Jim Yu (founder and CEO of Brightedge) compiled a great collection of top stats from 2014 in an article for Search Engine Watch – some stats need a bit more explanation, but at best, a great collection of some of the top stat providers last year;
Organic Search Statistics 2014
No doubt that the organic search channel has proved its place in marketing over the past few years, and data points from 2014 show it:
- According to BrightEdge data, organic search was the largest driver of traffic to websites across sectors studied, and the largest driver of revenue – even over paid search – in most sectors studied.
- Thirty percent (30) of traffic to insurance sites in June 2014 came from search, according to a study by Millward Brown Digital.
- According to an experiment conducted by the Groupon marketing team, up to 60 percent of direct traffic is actually organic search traffic.
- Mobile implementation errors cost websites 68 percent of organic search traffic, according to BrightEdge data.
- Search engine marketing, including SEO, is the most effective acquisition channel for 85 percent of retailers, says Shop.org.
- Search is the starting point for 60 percent of travelers, according to data from Kenshoo.
- According to BloomReach, 49 percent of U.K. consumers use organic search to find retailers.
Content Statistics 2014
Fueling organic search success is content, and it has its own set of unique opportunities and challenges. From the Content Marketing Institute’s most recent research on content for the B2B and B2C sectors, we find the following stats …
B2B Content Stats
- Eighty-three (83) percent of B2B marketers use content for lead generation.
- Website traffic is the key metric for tracking content success, according to 63 percent of B2B marketers, while 39 percent say SEO rankings is.
- Eighty-one (81) percent of B2B marketers say articles on their websites are a most-used tactic; 80 percent say blogs are, and of those that use blogs, 60 percent say it’s the most effective.
- Publishing new content multiple times per week was the norm for 26 percent of B2B marketers; the next largest data set was “weekly,” at 17 percent.
B2C Content Stats
- Seventy-seven (77) percent of B2Cs use content marketing.
- Engagement was the primary goal for content for 88 percent of B2Cs.
- Sixty-two (62) percent of B2Cs say website traffic is a key metric for content success.
- Blogs were the most effective platform for content, according to 54 percent of B2C respondents.
- Thirty-one (31) percent of B2Cs publish new content multiple times per week.
Despite constant changes to Google’s organic search algorithm, Chitika has been able to nail down a good baseline for average CTR for organic search rank (although we’ve found that it’s rather conservative in nature – it accounts for a variety of industries / types of searches, across those were SERP1 is cluttered with Google Info – and – those that do not). In comparison to Paid Search CTR you can see why most marketers invest heavily in organic search & SEO. Here’s what Chitika found;
- Position 1 @ 32.5% CTR
- Position 2@ 17.6% CTR
- Position 3@ 11.4% CTR
- Position 4@ 8.1% CTR
- Position 5 @ 6.1% CTR
- Position 6 @ 4.4% CTR
- Position 7 @ 3.5% CTR
- Position 8 @ 3.1% CTR
- Position 9 @ 2.6% CTR
- Position 10 @ 2.4% CTR
- Position 11-15 (Page 2) @ 1-0.4% CTR
A great new article from Thomas Stern (ZOG Digital) in RunningRestaurants.com with “Why Restaurant Websites Matter in Today’s Local Search Environment“. Google algorithm changes are affecting restaurants and changing the game – making it easier for local mom & pop restaurants (with 1 location) to rank at the top of search. It’s left major restaurant chains (both corporate and franchised) struggling to catch up to the little guys.
Local searchers are actively looking for restaurants more than any other business including realtors, clothing retailers, auto part stores or pharmacies, according to YP. The opportunity to reach local searchers is huge, with four out of five consumers using search engines to find information on local businesses according to Google. Google’s research also shows that nearly 20 percent of local smart phone searches lead to a purchase within a day.
Restaurants have an untapped opportunity to increase their visibility in local search rankings and capture the attention of local searchers by developing and executing a local search engine optimization (SEO) strategy. Local SEO is a powerful marketing tool because of its ability to connect restaurants with consumers at the exact moment that the consumer is making a purchasing decision. The higher the restaurant is in local search ranking, the more likely a consumer is going to see its specific location and consider it.
Last week, ZOG Digital held a webinar entitled “Digital Marketing for Multi-Location Businesses” – presented by ZOG, UBL and Forrester – as a 101 course in the who, what, where, why and how of Local SEO or Local / Mobile Search. Like most marketers, I don’t have time for webinars – but I DO have time for… you guessed it – Cliffs Notes. Here are the Cliffs Notes (Article) from that webinar that illustrate the importance of, and how to accomplish optimization within Local / Mobile Search for a Multi-Location Business.
Local search engine optimization has proven its ability to drive in-store sales.
- Local SEO success comes with three tactics; On-Page Optimization, Local Directory Syndication and Local Link Building.
- With On-Page Optimization, if location-based information is not indexable, it will reduce your search rank and visibility to local searchers.
- With Directory Listings, the more directories that cite a business’s location data, the more credibility it is given by search engines, increasing search rank.
- With Local Link Building, it is the quality and quantity of links that matters – a time consuming task, done on a localized level, with local keywords, on external websites that have local reach.
- Relevance. Restaurants are the most searched for industry on mobile browsers and mobile apps.
- Conversion Timeline. 90% of mobile searchers convert within the day, 64% within the hour of their search query (Source: Nielsen).
- Competitive Advantage. The restaurant industry is currently, generally unsophisticated in the adoption of Local SEO, thus providing an opportunity to gain a head start on optimization that will pay off months and years down the line.
Last week, ZOG Digital held a webinar entitled “Digital Marketing for Multi-Location Businesses” – presented by ZOG, UBL and Forrester – as a 101 course in the who, what, where, why and how of Local SEO or Local / Mobile Search. Like most marketers, I don’t have time for webinars – but I DO have time for… you guessed it – Cliffs Notes. Here are the Cliffs Notes (part 3 of 3) from that webinar that illustrate the importance of, and how to accomplish optimization within Local / Mobile Search for a Multi-Location Business.
Forrester: Data Driven Marketing – Local Search and Attribution
View the Slides Online > Data Driven Marketing
- The current state in cross-channel attribution is that only 7% of marketers use attribution analytics to improve marketing accountability, hence defining the VALUE of marketing tactics. Marketers that do not track these metrics are simply making assumptions or educated guesses at what works.
- Cross-channel attribution is complicated, but can provide deeper customer insights. Managing cross-channel attribution, Adidas was able to confirm that mobile search optimization was a key driver in in-store sales.
- In the Adidas Case Study provided, mobile optimization efforts led to a 680% incremental increase in ROI with in-store foot traffic and purchase. Out of their test segment, 1 in 5 mobile searchers visited a store, 13% of those converted in-store with AOV of $71, leading to Mobile to In-Store Conversion assumptions of 20% of mobile searchers in-store convert with AOV of $80. Therefore, each store locator click was worth $3.20.
- What can you do to embrace cross-channel attribution?
Manage and connect all data, across devices and channels.
Choose a mix of analytical techniques that drive balanced marketing performance insights.
Deploy attribution measurement not as a project, but as a way to drive customer value.
Last week, ZOG Digital held a webinar entitled “Digital Marketing for Multi-Location Businesses” – presented by ZOG, UBL and Forrester – as a 101 course in the who, what, where, why and how of Local SEO or Local / Mobile Search. Like most marketers, I don’t have time for webinars – but I DO have time for… you guessed it – Cliffs Notes. Here are the Cliffs Notes (part 2 of 3) from that webinar that illustrate the importance of, and how to accomplish optimization within Local / Mobile Search for a Multi-Location Business.
UBL: Business Profile Management
View the Slides Online > Business Profile Management
- Local Mobile Searches(85.9 billion) are projected to exceed desktop searches (84 billion) for the first time in 2015 (eMarketer).
- Search engines are the #1 information source used when looking for a local business / service (Thrive Analytics, Local Search Survey, August 2013).
- Listing Syndication requires 4 actions; Claiming listings, Submit to aggregators, Submit to verticals, engage with a listing management service.
- Google Places make it easy to check out KPIs for business listings (impressions, actions, top search queries, directions, by date), see image below.
- Top business listing issues to look out for;
- missing listings on key websites
- corporate vs. branch or franchisee listing conflicts
- branding inconsistencies
- unclaimed locations or lost passwords
- mismatched phone number w/ use of call tracking numbers
- address variations
- deficient or inaccurate categorization
- website URL inconsistencies, misdirection
- photo formats and bad image links
- poor or incomplete descriptions
Last week, ZOG Digital held a webinar entitled “Digital Marketing for Multi-Location Businesses” – presented by ZOG, UBL and Forrester – as a 101 course in the who, what, where, why and how of Local SEO or Local / Mobile Search. Like most marketers, I don’t have time for webinars – but I DO have time for… you guessed it – Cliffs Notes. Here are the Cliffs Notes (part 1 of 3) from that webinar that illustrate the importance of, and how to accomplish optimization within Local / Mobile Search for a Multi-Location Business.
ZOG Digital: Digital Marketing for Multi-Location Businesses
View the Slides Online > Digital Marketing for Multi-Location Businesses
- How Local SEO impacts the Consumer Decision Path
- 4 in 5 consumers use search engines to find local information
- 84% search on computer or tablet
- 88% search on smartphone
- 18% of local smartphone searches lead to a purchase within a day
- Source: Google / Ipsos MedicaCT/Purchased, Research: Understanding Consumers’ Local Search Behavior, May 2014.
- Major Factors that Influence Local Search Rankings
- 50% of influence = local directories
- 19% of influence = on-page SEO
- 10% of influence = reviews
- 6% of influence = social signals
- 6% of influence = website performance
- 9% of influence = personalization
- Source: Local Search Ranking Factors 2013 Survey, David Mihm / Moz
- How to Optimize for Local SEO
- Develop unique location page content
- Conduct keyword research, by location
- Utilize structured data to guide search engines (shema.org preferred)
- Link local directory listings to their applicable location page
- OR – hire a marketing agency with Local SEO expertise to do it for you.
…when two great, relevant tips cross your desk like;
Many of our clients look to our Link Building service for just the SEO rank improvement alone – but – in some cases, the additional benefits outweigh what is brought in by search rank. SEJ provides a POV with details and case studies on The Benefits of Backlinks, beyond SEO, like;
- Increase in Referral Traffic
- Increase in Organic Search Traffic
- Building Authority
- Building Relationships
- Influencer Marketing Benefits
- Conversation Marketing Benefits
Convincing executives of the value proposition and business case behind SEO is a conversation that still comes up regularly. Here’s my take on the list of SEO TRUTHS presented by Trond @ Search Engine Land…
- Offline & Online Marketing are Co-Dependent. Yep, just as Paid Search and SEO are dependent on branding (branded keywords make up the majority of traffic from both channels – and – in more competitive search markets where SERP1 is dominated by long-time SEO veterans, for a newcomer, sometime brand – and advertising – is all you’ve got!)
- You Don’t Own Your Search Rankings. Maintaining search rank is like letting your business run without management for a few weeks – any success is just by luck, until things fall apart. When you think of the competitors that are actively targeting your business, you’re helping them out by not doing SEO.
- Even Small, Careless Changes Can Damage Your SEO. Simple changes to website copy (just because something ‘sounds better’), navigation nomenclature, imagery, pages, page location can have a drastic effect on SEO that you’ve been building up.
- Be Careful When Changing to a New CMS. AND – be careful when redesigning the website, there needs to be a smooth transition with content, links, and SEO equity, or you’ll loose a majority of the SEO equity you’ve invested in all those years. Even picking the right CMS can set you ahead or behind with SEO.
- Mobile SEO is not just “Responsive Design”. You can have ‘responsive design’ without any mobile SEO. Mobile SEO is a strategy all to itself, with other affected channels like Local Search / SEO, etc.
- SEO isn’t an Act – It’s the Whole Play. Some of the best brands we talk to incorporate SEO into every facet of their business, and every bit of content that they create. It’s like having a healthy lifestyle vs. dieting. SEO is a lifestyle.
- Change is the only Constant. As it should be – it’s an online marketplace, not that different from the offline marketplaces that we shop & search in today.
From our very own Jason Squardo (@JasonSquardo) – five tips for achieving high mobile search rank (more important than ever, seeing as how mobile will outpace desktop in search in 2015 – time to optimize!).
“Consumers are expected to spend $626 billion globally via mobile devices in 2018, according to investment bank The Goldman Sachs Inc. That’s roughly half of total e-commerce sales on all devices worldwide in 2013, as estimated by market research firm eMarketer.”
In order to increase mobile search rank, Jason recommends these 5 strategies;
- Reevaluate target keywords for voice search
- Use responsive design, adapt to all devices
- Page load speed (slower = lower, search rank)
- Focus on local (w/ content, pages, etc)
- Feature quality content (relevance, authority)