Category: Google

An introduction to Google Ads Video Ad Sequencing (VAS)

Video Ad Sequencing (VAS) is a recent addition to the Google Ads video campaign types that allows advertisers to, “…tell your product or brand story by showing people a series of videos in the order that you define.” But it is really a lot more.

Video Ad Sequencing can be used to take your target audience on a video journey based upon, to a limited extent, their behavior. By telling a story VAS lets you drive deeper awareness, engagement, and consideration.

Examples of Video Sequencing usage

Let’s say you want to let people know about “Five key elements of your product” and why it makes you better than the competition. With VAS, you can effectively ensure that potential customers see each video, in a set sequence.

We used VAS with one of our clients which had one long-form video that was just too long to capture the short attention span of users on YouTube. So, instead, we split the ad into five short vignettes, each with a quick intro and value-prop within the first five seconds (which is the non-skippable length of a video ad) to ensure our message got out before a user could skip the full 30-second video. We then set up a VAS campaign that would show these ads, in sequence, so that users would see the full story and all of the value that the product could offer.

What’s great about VAS is that you can go beyond a flat sequence and actually vary the content a user sees, depending on how they interact with each video in the sequence. For example, let’s say a user skips your first ad, rather than having them continue through your sequence, you can say, show them an alternate video outside of your sequence. If they skip that too, then you drop them entirely out of the sequence.

Another potential usage of Video Ad Sequencing

Another potential usage of Video Ad Sequencing is rewarding users for watching your content or calling out when they skip your videos. You can show videos to users that skipped your prior videos in sequence, meaning you can show them alternate content such as alternate value propositions, drop them out of the sequence, or even directly address with the audience that they skipped your prior video but you still really think your product is right for them. Alternatively, if a user views your first video, you can put them into a sequence with longer-form content for the second video, effectively creating exclusive content that only those viewers get to see.

Things you must know

The settings allow for you to dictate what content a user sees after they see an ad (impression) without watching, viewed an ad (watch the full video if shorter than 30-seconds or at least 30-seconds if the video is longer), or skipped an ad.

What you end up with is a flow like this

Video Ad Sequencing example on YouTube

 

If you are looking to try out video ad sequencing keep this in mind – you are limited to target CPM or Maximum CPV bidding and you cannot target by content.

This means no specific placements, topics, or keywords (you can exclude them though). You can really only target them by demographics and target audiences. YouTube does not currently allow custom affinity or custom intent audiences so you are stuck with life events or In-Market Audiences. Google recommends testing sequencing alongside brand lift studies, which basically means: “This campaign can spend a lot if you let it.”

Available bid strategies

  • Target CPM (Recommended by Google)
    • With Target CPM, we optimize bids to show your entire sequence campaign to your audience, which can help you get a higher sequence completion rate.
  • Maximum CPV

Ad formats include the following

  •  Skippable in-stream ads
  •  Non-skippable in-stream ads
  •  Bumper ads
  •  A combination of the above

The bid strategy you select also dictates the ad formats you can use

Bidding type                                             Available formats

Target CPM (tCPM)                                  Skippable in-stream ads

Non-skippable in-stream ads

Bumper ads

A combination of the above

Maximum CPV (CPV)                              Skippable in-stream ads

Source: Google

I would also strongly recommend mapping out your sequence before-hand. Every step of a sequence is set as a new ad group in the campaign, so it can get big and messy quite quickly.

It’s also good to know how you want to deal with the different interactions at different steps in the sequence. Just because a user skips one video, doesn’t mean they won’t watch another and get back into sequence. But similarly, if a user skips your video(s), do you really want to keep showing them ads in the sequence they care nothing about? Maybe at that point, you show them a totally unrelated tried-and-true video and then drop them out of the sequence.

My testing with Video Ad Sequencing so far has been limited, but I am very excited about the opportunity to keep working with several of our larger clients on sequencing. It is a really powerful tool that Google has shown can grow brand awareness and consideration.

Next, I’ll have a guide for setting up your first video ad sequence should you still need help.

The post An introduction to Google Ads Video Ad Sequencing (VAS) appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin November 27, 2019 0 Comments

Page speed optimization: Six areas to focus on for better SEO results

Page speed optimization should be at the core of your SEO strategy. Your page speed is just as important as site speed is to SEO. Here, page speed should not be mistaken for website speed.

What is page speed optimization and how important is this factor to your overall website ranking? Your page speed is technically how long it takes the content of a specific page on your website to load completely – or in more technical terms, “time to first byte”, which the time it takes for your client’s browser to get the first byte of data from your web server. Just like site speed which measures how fast a sample of page views on your website, page speed is critical to your search rankings.

Several reports are saying, including Google admitting in 2010, that site speed due to the high relevance of page speed, is used as a web search ranking factor. Now that this is the case, how can you optimize page speed and improve your search rankings? Read on to learn more.

Site speed as Google’s page ranking signal

Since Google’s admission to the importance of page speed, we’ve seen several tutorials on how to understand page speed and improve it for your website. Given Google’s reputed tight-lipped stance on what makes for their ranking factors, it’s understandable to see the level of importance users have paid to page speed since the announcement.

In my view, page speed would be critical to Google owing to the fact that good user experience is one of its chief aim for its users. It’s now important to take measures to get your page speed right by focusing on the following areas.

1. Time to first byte (TTFB)

An area to focus on to get insight on how to improve your page speed is how long it takes your browser to receive the first byte of information from your web server. This is what is technically known as “time to first byte”.

A perfect tool to evaluate this is Google’s PageSpeed Insights, which measures reports from the FCP (First Content Paint) and DCL (DOM Content Loaded) by polling data from CrUX (Chrome User Experience Report).

Running a test using Google’s PageSpeed Insights doesn’t only provide you with site speed data but also includes suggestions on areas to work on to improve speed. An example is a test on NYTimes/section/politics which returned 45% for the desktop and 34% for mobile – which is actually more important.

2. Your web hosting

While most would go ahead and start tweaking their web design and looking at what plugins may cause a lag in page speed, the culprit is not always obvious.

Your web host would play the biggest role in how fast the pages of your website loads. You can run a lean one-page website on some hosting services and still come short on the page speed or website speed.

According to a guide on website speed published by Kinsta, mediocre web-hosting contributes significantly to how fast a website loads. Factors such as geographic proximity to users (cloud hosts are superior in this regard), the volume of clients on a single server and the size of a server’s RAM and bandwidth limit all contribute to the performance of a website hosted on any giving server.

Since 74% of users will never return to a website that takes longer than 4 seconds to load, a poor hosting provider could cost you thousands of dollars in lost revenue opportunities. This is not counting the loss of traffic as a result of negative search rankings from poor SEO.

3. Redundant and inactive plugins

Inactive plugins on your website are often serious culprits in slow site speed.

Although, the reason plugins have the option to “activate” and “deactivate” them is to make them dormant while you decide whether they may serve any need in the future, rather than deleting them. However, the most efficient way to prevent plugins that are not being used from dragging down your website is to remove it.

To prevent plugins from unnecessarily slowing down pages of your website, you can consider taking the following measures:

  • Only install plugins when they are absolutely necessary
  • Clear your website cache and Minified CSS/JS after removing a plugin
  • If a plugin hasn’t been active for three months, consider removing it from your website
  • Only install plugins that are up to date and marked as compatible with your WordPress version

Aside from causing lags in your website’s page speed, inactive plugins may cause vulnerability to the security of your website leaving you exposed to attackers and hackers. This undoubtedly will negatively affect your website’s SEO and rankings, costing you traffic and revenue.

4. Clean your website codes

Another area you should look out for when dealing with page speed is the codes that make up your website. While this is a more technical exercise and is better handled by technical professionals, taking care of your website codes and ensuring nothing is off can help you gain some speed.

When investigating website codes that could affect site speed, look into these areas:

  • JavaScript
  • CSS
  • HTML
  • Theme files

Poorly configured theme files, for example, may conflict with your users’ browser, thereby negatively affecting how fast your website loads. Below are some aspects you may want to investigate to make sure your website codes are in proper shape:

  • Enable dynamic caching
  • Minify JavaScript and CSS files
  • Avoid making changes to parent theme files and opt for child theme instead

5. Content delivery network (CDN)

Using a content delivery network or content distribution network, commonly known as CDNs can significantly reduce the time it takes to fully load pages of your website. When users are browsing the internet, proximity to your server can affect how fast content is delivered to them.

What CDN does is host your website content in the cloud, and let the nearest server to your clients handle the delivery of the content when they access your website. Since geographic proximity is also a factor in the speed of content delivery, using a CDN takes care of this and eliminates the associated delays that come with loading a website’s content from a distant location.

CDNs also utilize caching to reduce your hosting bandwidth, making room for smooth content delivery and rendering. Plus, it also helps prevent downtimes with your website.

When you opt for a CDN, the following aspects of your website’s content are taken care of:

  • Images and videos on your server
  • Your website JavaScript files
  • HTML pages
  • Stylesheets

Apart from speeding up your website and helping you to improve your SEO, utilizing a CDN can also be beneficial in the following areas:

  • Security: Your website can be protected from hackers and random attacks targeting your website
  • Mitigation against DDOS attacks: Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS) attacks is the most common form of hacks launched against websites to date when a malicious agent tries to disrupt the service of your website. CDNs can fortify your website against this common attack.
  • Increases content redundancy and availability: Since CDNs keep content distributed, pages of your website will remain active and accessible should there be a malware malfunction or spike in traffic

 6. Images

Images are important components of every webpage. And roughly nine out of ten pages on a website would include at least an image. It also goes without saying that images consume the most bandwidth on a website.

To boost your website page speed and enjoy solid SEO dividends, you should optimize images on your website to consume as little bandwidth as possible. Heavy and oversized images are among the top reasons a website may experience slow page speed.

Images that are wider than the content area of your website would overlap on the screen, causing the user experience to suffer. Getting your image size right can make a huge difference in how your page loads.

6a. Image compression

According to findings reported by Blake Hawksworth for effective inbound marketing on how to improve website page speed, it is revealed that –

“Compression has the potential to have the largest impact on page speed, as on average, images make up a total of 65% of a website’s weight.”

This further solidifies the fact that getting your image size and compression right can have the biggest impact on your page speed optimization.

In order to see gains on your SEO, improving page speed by compressing images on your website should be a top priority. To get this right, use image compression plugins such as WP Smush (for WordPress users) or Mass Image Compressor to reduce the file size of images that are uploaded to your website. On image width, ensure you’re not uploading images that are wider than the frame of your website content display area.

6b. Google’s guidelines for image optimization for page speed

Another reliable way to ensure images are well optimized for page speed on your website is to follow Google’s guidelines for image optimization. Realizing the traffic generated by images and their impact on a website’s page speed, Google decided to release a set of guidelines for webmasters to adhere to meet content efficiency and page speed optimization.

And since Google is releasing a set of guidelines for image optimization, it’s safe to assume that images would have significant outcomes on a website’s rankings. Since the scope of this article would not allow me to go over everything in Google’s image optimization guidelines, I recommend visiting the resource for consultation. Rather, I’ll share a breakdown of the most important factors required in the “image optimization checklist”, as recommended by Google, in the next point.

6c. Image optimization checklist

Google declares that there is no definitive answer for how best to compress an individual image, but there are “well-developed” techniques and algorithms that can help see improvements in size reduction. Below are the tips they shared:

  • Prefer vector formats: to meet the demands of a multi-device and high-resolution world, vector images which are resolution and scale-independent are the best option.
  • Minify and compress SVG assets: Ensure your servers are configured to apply GZIP compression for SVG assets.
  • Pick the best raster image format: pick images based on the most-suitable functional requirements.
  • Experiment with optimal quality settings for raster formats: Google recommends dialing down the “quality” settings and you’ll see significant byte savings.
  • Remove unnecessary image metadata: Google concludes that many raster images contain unnecessary metadata such as geoinformation, camera information, etc. They recommend using appropriate tools to strip this data.
  • Serve scaled images: Google recommends that you resize your images on the server and ensure that the “display” size is close to the “natural” size of the image. Pay more attention to large images because they account for the largest overhead when resized.
  • Automate: Google recommends investing in automated tools that will ensure all image assets are always optimized.

Conclusion

Page speed is, as we’ve seen, an important factor in Google’s SEO rankings. And from this article, it’s obvious that getting image optimization right takes the lead in improving your website’s page speed. Try the tips I’ve shared in this article and let me know how your page speed has improved, and if it translates to better rankings for you.

Ayodeji is the founder and CEO of Effective Inbound Marketing, a leading digital agency. He recently acquired BoostMyMedia.com to help clients in the online reputation area.

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admin November 7, 2019 0 Comments

Five factors that determine the overall page quality

Google always ranks a web page after determining its overall quality. Page quality is a measure of the importance of a web page in the eyes of Google.

In order to determine the overall quality of a web page, Google hires real humans who are known as “Search Quality Raters“.

Page Quality rating or PQ is a grade given by Page Quality raters who have the responsibility of evaluating “how well a page achieves its purpose”.

Purpose of the content, author expertise, links, and brand citations all come into play while measuring the quality of a page.

In this article, I will discuss the top five factors that directly impact the overall quality of a web page. Let’s start!

1. Purpose of the page

The purpose of the page is the real reason behind the creation of the page.

A page can be created to serve a particular purpose or multiple purposes, make money or harm the user by inserting malicious code via cookies or download buttons.

The first thing that Google does is understanding the purpose of the page in response to the user search. Google applies semantic search to understand the meaning of the words behind the query and matches them with the purpose of the page.

Google presents the best answers to the user after accurately identifying the real intent of the searcher. The purpose of your page must match the real intent of the searcher.

Different sites have different purposes. Hence it is important to identify the real purpose of the page.

Some common purposes of a page

  • The homepage of a news website to share the news with the people.
  • The category page of a shopping portal to sell products to people.
  • A personal review site to inform users about the features, pros, and cons of the product.
  • A how-to page created to help users find the answers to a specific question.
  • A video created to educate people on how to draw a summer landscape.
  • Category page of a software website to allow people to download a particular software.

For example, this page of Best VPN Zone site might have a high PQ rating for the query “how to save money on internet safety” because it lists 55 ways that actually help the searcher to find different methods that helps them to save money on internet safety. Content is over 3000 words and it is divided into proper subheadings that improve the overall readability score of the page. (For tools that you can use to check the word count and readability levels of a web page, please see point three).

When creating a web page, you should keep in mind the actual intent of the user. Identify the main purpose of your page and ask yourself – Does it accurately serve the user intent? The answer should be “yes”.

A page should not be created solely to earn money by running ads or to harm the user. Such pages have the lowest PQ rating.

2. Amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness

Expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness are collectively known as EAT in SEO. Pages that have strong EAT are rated highly by the search quality raters. Let’s understand what EAT means:

Expertise

Who is the creator of the content? (An article written by Danny Sullivan on SEO has more expertise when compared to an article written by any new author having a few years of experience).

Authoritativeness

How authoritative is the website where the content is published or how authoritative is the author? (An article published on science mission on the NASA website is far more authoritative when compared with an article published on a local science magazine such as this).

Trustworthiness

How trustworthy is the website where the content is published or how trustworthy is the author? (An article published by the Medical Association of Alabama is found to be more trustworthy when compared with the information in the personal blog of any random Alabama blogger).

EAT is an extremely important factor to evaluate the overall quality of a page. A page lacking EAT is considered to be of a low-quality and ranks poorly in the search results.

3. Main content quality and amount

The quality of the MC or main content is another major criteria in the calculation of the PQ rating. While determining the quality of MC, Google pays special focus on the following things:

  • There should be no spelling or grammatical errors.
  • Content should be clearly written and comprehensive (an interesting point to note here is that long-form content gets more backlinks when compared to shorter content and this is another reason why long-form content actually helps in rankings. This Backlinko study proves it.)
  • The information presented on the site should be factually correct.
  • The information should be presented well.
  • Content on a shopping website should allow users to find the products easily.
  • Any video or other features on the site like a calculator or game should be working properly.
  • EAT also applies here.

You can check the word count of a web page using a tool like Word Counter. Similarly, Grammarly can be used to check the content for any grammatical errors. Sophisticated tools like Readable give you a score for your content based on its readability levels.

A good example of a page having high-quality MC is this Wiki on Siberian Husky. The information is comprehensive, clearly written, accurate, has lots of images to make readers understand the various characteristics and every point is backed up by proper data. This makes this Wiki a page having very high-quality MC and no wonder it ranks on the first position in Google for its target keyword.

4. Clear and satisfying website information

Any website on the web should have clear information about who is responsible for the information contained on the website along with details like office address and other contact details.

Having all the contact details on your websites adds to a high degree of trust. For websites that are directly responsible for the health and well-being of a human, disclosing the details of the organization or the person behind the site is extremely necessary.

For shopping websites, adding a customer support number is important because it helps the users to resolve issues. Hence, contact information along with customer support numbers or live chats are a factor in the PQ rating of Google. Depending on the niche of your website, you must add all the information in it that will help your users.

5. Website reputation

Google also finds out the reputation of the website by analyzing the web about references from other experts regarding what they have written or said about a website.

Some ways how Google identifies a website’s reputation

  • Articles published in reputed news agencies about the website.
  • Awards and recognitions won by the business. For example, a website run by a culinary expert who has won the James Beard Foundation Award for culinary excellence would be trusted more by Google when compared to any random blog run by a blogger who hasn’t received any awards.
  • User ratings about an online store or business or about a particular product or service. Google considers a large number of positive reviews as evidence of a positive reputation.
  • For health-related queries, Google carefully considers both the website and the author’s reputation while evaluating the PQ ratings. For example for a query like “what is CBD”, this resource from CBD Central might achieve high PQ ratings because it has clear information about the author. Similarly, this resource from Medicine Net has all the claims are backed up by trustworthy references and might be rated highly by the raters.
  • Any other information about the website or the author of the article on any other website like Wikipedia, niche blogs, magazine articles, and forums.

You can check the reputation of a website using tools like the Moz (for checking Domain Authority), SEMrush (for checking the Trust Score), Ahrefs (for checking the Ahrefs Domain Rating) and Majestic SEO (for checking the Trust Flow). Each of these metrics is important to determine the reputation of a website.

Bonus

Here are some useful ways that you can use to build the reputation of your website.

Final thoughts

You can’t ignore the page quality if you want to rank your page(s) highly in the search results. The above five factors should be considered carefully and steps should be taken to optimize your pages in accordance with these.

Remember, PQ rating is given by real people so don’t think of applying any Black Hat tactics to fool them. Offer the best services to your customers and genuinely earn a positive reputation for your brand. Focus on the main content quality and the purpose of the page.

Last but not least, try to earn brand mentions and links from reputed media publications and nominate your business for prestigious awards in your business category.

Joydeep Bhattacharya is a digital marketing evangelist and author of the SEO Sandwitch blog.

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admin October 25, 2019 0 Comments

10 Takeaways from the state of SEO survey

Here at Zazzle Media, we love surveys – we run them every year to help us better understand the challenges facing both SEO Managers and Agencies alike. Each year we look to prune the questions down and build others out as trends and future opportunities dictate (for example in 2018 we asked more questions around mobile-first preparation).

This year we looked to gain insight into more recent smaller topics such as the impact of Medic or the ease of protecting branded search terms.

In this article we explore the top 10 takeaways from the survey data – think of it as a TLDR version of data collection from hundreds and hundreds of interested parties. See some topline stats or explore the full survey results by clicking here and downloading them.

On-page content creation remains the most effective activity

Any digital marketing professional with a few years of experience in the game has likely dabbled in the disciplines below. While certain practices take far more technical expertise (think, IA and CTR Optimisation) it’s reassuring to know that the marketers still find content creation to be the best approach in acquiring traffic and hitting KPIs.

 

SEO survey 2019 - Stats on competitor research

Likewise, it’s easy to focus on moving forward, many content strategies do just that, and that alone. However, auditing existing content and making tweaks or tests where needed is almost as important, that’s why it shows up as the second most voted for discipline.

A few years ago I would have expected the “creation of new content” and “link building” to have utterly dominated this chart. It’s fantastic to see professionals finding more and more value in other avenues with “Brand mentions” and “CTR optimization” gaining a not insignificant seat at the marketing table.

I’ve long advocated a need for SEO professionals to blur at the edges, merging with other teams and marketing/web-development disciplines. This wider and more holistic view of digital marketing is fast-becoming the rule instead of the exception. A big part of this is how news and knowledge sharing sites have diversified and so helped inform both agencies and managers alike.

Link-building may be losing its appeal

…and I for one, couldn’t be happier with that! Link building by quantity has always been a bugbear of mine. The demand for the service has created sites that sell links by DA as casually as if they were sweets. These companies are still inexplicably in business despite the wider community knowing full well that many of the sites used have been “blacklisted” by Google. Oh yeah, they do that…

Imagine spending hundreds, maybe even thousands of such links without ever really knowing if they’ve made any kind of impact. It’s no wonder that marketers are more unsure about the value in link building over anything else in an SEO agency’s arsenal.

As happy as I might be with the headline the lack of confidence in Non-branded PPC vs Technical SEO is somewhat worrying. I’ve dabbled in paid (largely on social) and found that it provided me with exact costs for cost per acquisition, cost per conversion – all the stats I could digest. It’s also concerning that UX is still so much of a mystery, in the next few years I hope my CRO/UX brethren can educate marketers to close this gap. Platforms and CMS’ have never been easier to split test, and while I appreciate truly putting the user’s experience first is something of a rarity in sites, the benefits of doing so are well documented.

Sites still waiting for the move to mobile-first

It seems like years ago that we were talking about the mobile-first index… probably because it was (https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2016/11/mobile-first-indexing.html). Despite all the time to prepare, it seems Google hasn’t completed the full rollout quite yet, or perhaps have yet to inform webmasters, I’m not sure which would be worse come to think of it.

Whether you have a notification or not, there are a slim non-zero number of sites that can afford to ignore mobile users entirely – possibly sites still optimizing for IE6? It’s great to see over 43% have been positively impacted by the shift to mobile-first. For the slim two percent that has been hit hard by the changes, I imagine they’re seeing their market share eaten into, or have dropped due to a legacy CMS that could do with a shakeup. In any case, there are hundreds of articles around that help you optimize for mobile – not least of all, Google themselves (https://search.google.com/test/mobile-friendly).

Fixing technical issues within the blink of an eye

Each year we run our surveys we find that the implementation of technical fixes gets faster and faster. Whether this is due to development teams taking sprint-led approaches, businesses feeling under pressure to squeeze as much value from their sites as possible or just a growing understanding for the need to have a site that is “technically fit for purpose” we don’t much care – 75% of marketers are getting technical fixes implemented within a month. Get in.

If you’re still having to put together business cases for changing H1s or adding alt text to images – I feel for you son, I’ve got 99 problems but a technical glitch ain’t one. You may want to read this great article from Rory Truesdale on building a business case your boss can’t say no to.

Users still clamoring for best practice advice from Google

We make a lot of demands from Google, if you’re like me then more often than not is the adherence to its own policies and not rewarding bad practice… or longer battery life on my phone. However, I’ll keep those grudges inside for now.

Interestingly, aside from the standard request that rolls out on these questions (that of more keyword-specific user/click data), there are a significant number of marketers who aren’t clear on all of Google’s guidelines.

I feel much of these are perhaps just managers and executives just not having the resource or time to give Google’s webmasters forum and help center a good readthrough. You can find the basic guidelines here, the article has links to more information content, quality, and snippets too.

It’s clear that the overhaul of the search console is relatively positive (if a little segmented) and I’m sure we all welcome new innovation and insights within WMT/GSC. Something I expect will come soon is the visibility around voice searches – data suggests nearly 50% of searches will be made by voice in the next few years, but right now strategies to capitalize on this are focusing almost exclusively on featured snippets as they are the only thing we can really measure with a modicum of accuracy.

Many professionals still without access to rich media

Here’s the catch, Google and users reward content that is unique or content that utilizes the most appropriate format for the message/information. Trouble is, the production of certain formats are costly, the main reason for all the “no” responses was just that – the cost, the second was people finding a reliable artist/animator/SFX professional.

There are a number of sites around where you can find appropriately priced artists that can provide such services but it’s perhaps easier to ask any agencies you work with for their recommendations. After all, we cross paths with a huge number of digital professionals that might suit your needs. For something more affordable and entry-level you can often find amateur or startups willing to work for realistic rates within Facebook or LinkedIn groups.

It’s important to be realistic with your desire for rich media, it takes far longer than you might expect to become truly proficient with many of the tools and software platforms required for a quality result. Don’t be afraid to give it a shot. But make sure you aren’t producing video or podcasts just for the sake of it, if you miss the mark with a blog post you lose a few hours, do that with a video and it’s far harder to explain it away in your next appraisal.

Markets are at saturation point, few innovators blazing trails

In a recent training session, I ran on Content Strategy at BrightonSEO, this was one of the biggest problems felt by both in-house and agency professionals. The skyscraper approach works best when you are “one-upping” the competition. However, many markets are just seeing content duplication over and over – backed up by basic link building to gain the edge.

My advice to those of you looking for an answer will be the same as those at the training session.

Be magnetic

Aside from the habitual checking of Facebook and Instagram stories, what sites are you drawn back to? Can you figure out why they have such an attractive appeal to their content? Is it the tone? Is it imagery? Can you work out what would make your audience feel the same way about your site?

You don’t need a funky brand or hip product to be magnetic, you just need to service the most critical needs of your audience better than your competitors. Do everything right, from UX in the checkout process to follow-up emails and nurture campaigns. It might sound like a big ask and if you’re struggling with the scale of it all, try to do less, but do it better.

50% of marketers still don’t understand their competition

This for me is unforgivable. A sailor is nothing if they don’t keep one eye on the waves around them.

It’s critical to innovate and try to lead the way but the chances of you always being at the front of your market are zero. Instead, you need to be mindful of what the competition is doing and utilize third-party tools to monitor them effectively.

If you’re reading this with a sinking feeling of guilt, it’s not too late. Competitor research is a well-documented discipline in both organic and paid search. The vital point is to learn from both the victories and the mistakes made by the competition. If you spot a campaign that flopped but clearly had significant investment, it’s important you tear it apart and work out how you could have done it better.

If you’re working with an agency and feel that your level of competitor insight isn’t great then consider it as a research project that you can undertake collaboratively in the next quarter. Remember, that you have lots of different types of competition:

  • Our perceived brand competitors
  • Your actual organic competitors
  • Your actual paid competitors
  • Competitors for audience attention
  • Competitors for audience income
  • Similar product competitors

These groups aren’t mutually exclusive and you might find two contrasting competitors that crossover due to your position in a market (an averaged priced womenswear brand would crossover with both Primark and ZARA, despite the two having minimal product/price overlap).

Brand terms are becoming a battleground

There was a time when brands felt confident that with an “about us” page they were relatively well protected in the SERPs, perhaps a few subdomains thrown in for good measure. However, it’s clear that there is no honor among marketers anymore. Bidding on other brand terms has never been more popular. Organically we’ve responded to the clear user demand for “brand vs brand” terms, creating fresh content to target both competitor brand traffic and users in the consideration stage of a purchase journey.

SEO survey 2019 stats on brand term searches

 

Let’s be honest though, this is just good business sense in most cases. I recommended the production and optimization of a comparison page for RAC to target AA terms and the results generated both traffic and revenue despite the clear user intent for “aa breakdown cover”. The RAC site still ranks in third position for the head term with 600+ other keyword rankings and estimated the traffic of over 10k accordingly to Ahrefs.

Example of Google serp for aa breakdown

 

Of course, that’s an extreme case, in an industry where there are only 2 ½significant players (sorry GreenFlag) with substantial branded traffic and searches. If you want to find out more about how to protect your brand from this sort of activity, you can check out a tool I created here, to help organize your branded traffic results and make sure they are tip top shape.

People are spending less than ever on SEO

Always end on a negative? Our survey suggested that more and more marketers are spending their budget elsewhere, the results felt a little too open-ended so we followed up the question to dig into why they’re spending five percent less on SEO than last year.

Interestingly, 60% of marketers state that resources and a shortage of budget are the main reasons they don’t spend more on organic. However, just over 30% still find proving the value of SEO to be a critical factor in securing funds or resources, further pushing the need for agencies, freelancers and in-house professionals to be aware of attribution models, brand value and purpose when it comes to spending more on SEO.

SEO survey 2019 stats on SEO spends

 

As an industry, we’ve needed to educate, educate, educate – at almost every level of client infrastructure. That challenge still remains, in fact, it probably changes monthly. But now with more noise than ever (think CRO, Social, and EDM).

It doesn’t make you a poor search professional if you’ve struggled to educate your manager, in my experience they can be quite resilient to tutelage.

Summary

These are just 10 of what I felt were the most interesting results from a survey containing over 40 digital marketed questions asked hundreds of digital marketing professionals. If you’d like to end your day with a little more insight, the results are all available to download.

Stuart Shaw is Head of Search & Strategy here at Zazzle Media.

The post 10 Takeaways from the state of SEO survey appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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admin September 25, 2019 0 Comments