Archives for : March2015

WP Multi Slider

Multi slider is an awesome, super lightweight plugin for your wordpress website. By installing this plugin you will get 4 types awesome slider.

WP SEO Title

Emailed Author: ## Please sanitize your POST calls

You are not properly sanitizing your POST/GET/REQUEST calls.

Example:

request_json = $wpst_api->request( $_POST[‘wpst_keyword’], $wpst_api_key, $_POST[‘wpst_country_selected’], $wpst_sortfield, $wpst_sorttype, $url_blog);

All instances where $_POST data is inserted into the database, or into a file, MUST be properly sanitized for security. This also holds true for $_REQUEST calls that are processed. In addition, by sanitizing your POST data, you will lessen the possibility of XSS vulnerabilities.

Using stripslashes is not enough, you need to use the Input Validation methods, or things similar, to protect your plugin. The ultimate goal is that you should ensure that invalid data is NEVER processed.

Please review this document and update your code accordingly: http://codex.wordpress.org/Validating_Sanitizing_and_Escaping_User_Data

When you’ve corrected your code, reply to this email with the updated code attached as a zip, or provide a link to the new code for us to review.

Google’s PAC-Maps Gets April Fools’ Ball Rolling Early, Turns Google Maps Into Pac-Man Video Game

Today’s PAC-Maps release is most likely the first of many April Fools’ Day gags from Google. The post Google’s PAC-Maps Gets April Fools’ Ball Rolling Early, Turns Google Maps Into Pac-Man Video Game appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

6 Key Steps to Global (Marketing) Domination

By eliminating inefficiencies in your local campaign creation process, you can create more local marketing campaigns. That means more MQLs, which …

Updated Candidate Recommendation of Media Source Extensions; Encrypted Media Extensions Draft Published

The HTML Working Group invites implementation of the Candidate Recommendation of Media Source Extensions. This specification extends HTMLMediaElement to allow JavaScript to generate media streams for playback. Allowing JavaScript to generate streams facilitates a variety of use cases like adaptive streaming and time shifting live streams.

The group also published a Working Draft of Encrypted Media Extensions. This proposal extends HTMLMediaElement HTML5 providing APIs to control playback of protected content. Learn more about the HTML Activity.

Spam Score: Moz’s New Metric to Measure Penalization Risk

Posted by randfish

Today, I’m very excited to announce that Moz’s Spam Score, an R&D project we’ve worked on for nearly a year, is finally going live. In this post, you can learn more about how we’re calculating spam score, what it means, and how you can potentially use it in your SEO work.

How does Spam Score work?

Over the last year, our data science team, led by  Dr. Matt Peters, examined a great number of potential factors that predicted that a site might be penalized or banned by Google. We found strong correlations with 17 unique factors we call “spam flags,” and turned them into a score.

Almost every subdomain in  Mozscape (our web index) now has a Spam Score attached to it, and this score is viewable inside Open Site Explorer (and soon, the MozBar and other tools). The score is simple; it just records the quantity of spam flags the subdomain triggers. Our correlations showed that no particular flag was more likely than others to mean a domain was penalized/banned in Google, but firing many flags had a very strong correlation (you can see the math below).

Spam Score currently operates only on the subdomain level—we don’t have it for pages or root domains. It’s been my experience and the experience of many other SEOs in the field that a great deal of link spam is tied to the subdomain-level. There are plenty of exceptions—manipulative links can and do live on plenty of high-quality sites—but as we’ve tested, we found that subdomain-level Spam Score was the best solution we could create at web scale. It does a solid job with the most obvious, nastiest spam, and a decent job highlighting risk in other areas, too.

How to access Spam Score

Right now, you can find Spam Score inside  Open Site Explorer, both in the top metrics (just below domain/page authority) and in its own tab labeled “Spam Analysis.” Spam Score is only available for Pro subscribers right now, though in the future, we may make the score in the metrics section available to everyone (if you’re not a subscriber, you can check it out with a free trial). 

The current Spam Analysis page includes a list of subdomains or pages linking to your site. You can toggle the target to look at all links to a given subdomain on your site, given pages, or the entire root domain. You can further toggle source tier to look at the Spam Score for incoming linking pages or subdomains (but in the case of pages, we’re still showing the Spam Score for the subdomain on which that page is hosted).

You can click on any Spam Score row and see the details about which flags were triggered. We’ll bring you to a page like this:

Back on the original Spam Analysis page, at the very bottom of the rows, you’ll find an option to export a disavow file, which is compatible with Google Webmaster Tools. You can choose to filter the file to contain only those sites with a given spam flag count or higher:

Disavow exports usually take less than 3 hours to finish. We can send you an email when it’s ready, too.

WARNING: Please do not export this file and simply upload it to Google! You can really, really hurt your site’s ranking and there may be no way to recover. Instead, carefully sort through the links therein and make sure you really do want to disavow what’s in there. You can easily remove/edit the file to take out links you feel are not spam. When Moz’s Cyrus Shepard disavowed every link to his own site, it took more than a year for his rankings to return!

We’ve actually made the file not-wholly-ready for upload to Google in order to be sure folks aren’t too cavalier with this particular step. You’ll need to open it up and make some edits (specifically to lines at the top of the file) in order to ready it for Webmaster Tools

In the near future, we hope to have Spam Score in the Mozbar as well, which might look like this: 

Sweet, right? 🙂

Potential use cases for Spam Analysis

This list probably isn’t exhaustive, but these are a few of the ways we’ve been playing around with the data:

  1. Checking for spammy links to your own site: Almost every site has at least a few bad links pointing to it, but it’s been hard to know how much or how many potentially harmful links you might have until now. Run a quick spam analysis and see if there’s enough there to cause concern.
  2. Evaluating potential links: This is a big one where we think Spam Score can be helpful. It’s not going to catch every potentially bad link, and you should certainly still use your brain for evaluation too, but as you’re scanning a list of link opportunities or surfing to various sites, having the ability to see if they fire a lot of flags is a great warning sign.
  3. Link cleanup: Link cleanup projects can be messy, involved, precarious, and massively tedious. Spam Score might not catch everything, but sorting links by it can be hugely helpful in identifying potentially nasty stuff, and filtering out the more probably clean links.
  4. Disavow Files: Again, because Spam Score won’t perfectly catch everything, you will likely need to do some additional work here (especially if the site you’re working on has done some link buying on more generally trustworthy domains), but it can save you a heap of time evaluating and listing the worst and most obvious junk.

Over time, we’re also excited about using Spam Score to help improve the PA and DA calculations (it’s not currently in there), as well as adding it to other tools and data sources. We’d love your feedback and insight about where you’d most want to see Spam Score get involved.

Details about Spam Score’s calculation

This section comes courtesy of Moz’s head of data science, Dr. Matt Peters, who created the metric and deserves (at least in my humble opinion) a big round of applause. – Rand

Definition of “spam”

Before diving into the details of the individual spam flags and their calculation, it’s important to first describe our data gathering process and “spam” definition.

For our purposes, we followed Google’s definition of spam and gathered labels for a large number of sites as follows.

  • First, we randomly selected a large number of subdomains from the Mozscape index stratified by mozRank.
  • Then we crawled the subdomains and threw out any that didn’t return a “200 OK” (redirects, errors, etc).
  • Finally, we collected the top 10 de-personalized, geo-agnostic Google-US search results using the full subdomain name as the keyword and checked whether any of those results matched the original keyword. If they did not, we called the subdomain “spam,” otherwise we called it “ham.”

We performed the most recent data collection in November 2014 (after the Penguin 3.0 update) for about 500,000 subdomains.

Relationship between number of flags and spam

The overall Spam Score is currently an aggregate of 17 different “flags.” You can think of each flag a potential “warning sign” that signals that a site may be spammy. The overall likelihood of spam increases as a site accumulates more and more flags, so that the total number of flags is a strong predictor of spam. Accordingly, the flags are designed to be used together—no single flag, or even a few flags, is cause for concern (and indeed most sites will trigger at least a few flags).

The following table shows the relationship between the number of flags and percent of sites with those flags that we found Google had penalized or banned:

ABOVE: The overall probability of spam vs. the number of spam flags. Data collected in Nov. 2014 for approximately 500K subdomains. The table also highlights the three overall danger levels: low/green (< 10%) moderate/yellow (10-50%) and high/red (>50%)

The overall spam percent averaged across a large number of sites increases in lock step with the number of flags; however there are outliers in every category. For example, there are a small number of sites with very few flags that are tagged as spam by Google and conversely a small number of sites with many flags that are not spam.

Spam flag details

The individual spam flags capture a wide range of spam signals link profiles, anchor text, on page signals and properties of the domain name. At a high level the process to determine the spam flags for each subdomain is:

  • Collect link metrics from Mozscape (mozRank, mozTrust, number of linking domains, etc).
  • Collect anchor text metrics from Mozscape (top anchor text phrases sorted by number of links)
  • Collect the top five pages by Page Authority on the subdomain from Mozscape
  • Crawl the top five pages plus the home page and process to extract on page signals
  • Provide the output for Mozscape to include in the next index release cycle

Since the spam flags are incorporated into in the Mozscape index, fresh data is released with each new index. Right now, we crawl and process the spam flags for each subdomains every two – three months although this may change in the future.

Link flags

The following table lists the link and anchor text related flags with the the odds ratio for each flag. For each flag, we can compute two percents: the percent of sites with that flag that are penalized by Google and the percent of sites with that flag that were not penalized. The odds ratio is the ratio of these percents and gives the increase in likelihood that a site is spam if it has the flag. For example, the first row says that a site with this flag is 12.4 times more likely to be spam than one without the flag.

ABOVE: Description and odds ratio of link and anchor text related spam flags. In addition to a description, it lists the odds ratio for each flag which gives the overall increase in spam likelihood if the flag is present).

Working down the table, the flags are:

  • Low mozTrust to mozRank ratio: Sites with low mozTrust compared to mozRank are likely to be spam.
  • Large site with few links: Large sites with many pages tend to also have many links and large sites without a corresponding large number of links are likely to be spam.
  • Site link diversity is low: If a large percentage of links to a site are from a few domains it is likely to be spam.
  • Ratio of followed to nofollowed subdomains/domains (two separate flags): Sites with a large number of followed links relative to nofollowed are likely to be spam.
  • Small proportion of branded links (anchor text): Organically occurring links tend to contain a disproportionate amount of banded keywords. If a site does not have a lot of branded anchor text, it’s a signal the links are not organic.

On-page flags

Similar to the link flags, the following table lists the on page and domain name related flags:

ABOVE: Description and odds ratio of on page and domain name related spam flags. In addition to a description, it lists the odds ratio for each flag which gives the overall increase in spam likelihood if the flag is present).

  • Thin content: If a site has a relatively small ratio of content to navigation chrome it’s likely to be spam.
  • Site mark-up is abnormally small: Non-spam sites tend to invest in rich user experiences with CSS, Javascript and extensive mark-up. Accordingly, a large ratio of text to mark-up is a spam signal.
  • Large number of external links: A site with a large number of external links may look spammy.
  • Low number of internal links: Real sites tend to link heavily to themselves via internal navigation and a relative lack of internal links is a spam signal.
  • Anchor text-heavy page: Sites with a lot of anchor text are more likely to be spam then those with more content and less links.
  • External links in navigation: Spam sites may hide external links in the sidebar or footer.
  • No contact info: Real sites prominently display their social and other contact information.
  • Low number of pages found: A site with only one or a few pages is more likely to be spam than one with many pages.
  • TLD correlated with spam domains: Certain TLDs are more spammy than others (e.g. pw).
  • Domain name length: A long subdomain name like “bycheapviagra.freeshipping.onlinepharmacy.com” may indicate keyword stuffing.
  • Domain name contains numerals: domain names with numerals may be automatically generated and therefore spam.

If you’d like some more details on the technical aspects of the spam score, check out the  video of Matt’s 2012 MozCon talk about Algorithmic Spam Detection or the slides (many of the details have evolved, but the overall ideas are the same):

We’d love your feedback

As with all metrics, Spam Score won’t be perfect. We’d love to hear your feedback and ideas for improving the score as well as what you’d like to see from it’s in-product application in the future. Feel free to leave comments on this post, or to email Matt (matt at moz dot com) and me (rand at moz dot com) privately with any suggestions.

Good luck cleaning up and preventing link spam!


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Ward and Sandidge: Digital vs. analog marketing media

The individual online marketing channels we're conveniently lumping together … Most local businesses continue to attract customers and fans the old …

10 Practical Tips For Using Geo-Location To Reach Your Target Audience

local-city-with-pins-ss-1920

Jeans company True Religion needed to promote events and new products at its retail stores. Using geo-targeted emails focused on areas in which the brand had a high concentration of stores, True Religion was able to serve up dynamic emails unique to each audience to drive in-store traffic.

65,000 geo-targeted emails were opened with a 2.5% click through rate and a 1% in-store conversion, a huge impact for one campaign with a small data set, per True Religion’s Director of Global e-Commerce, Gary Penn.

Examples like the above support metrics that find geotargeting doubles the performance of all kinds of marketing methods, from email campaigns to paid search. Per data from the Local Search Association’s LSA Insights database, it also doesn’t matter what vertical your business is in.  The click-through rate for geotargeted mobile display ads was higher than the industry benchmark for all verticals.

Insights chart

The effectiveness of geo-targeting is only going to further improve as mobile use grows and location data becomes more accurate and available. The Local Search Association (LSA) just released data that found that, for the first time, mobile devices surpassed PC use in search for local businesses and services. As I reported last month, the majority of searches (52%) for local information on mobile devices occur either in the car or away from home or work.

Furthermore, 70% of consumers are willing to share their location information if they believe they are getting something of value in return like coupons or loyalty points, according to LSA’s Local Mobile Search Study.  This dynamically moving consumer base is only going to be more receptive to search results and ads that are specific to their location.

Geotargeting is the practice of delivering content to a consumer — via mobile or web — using geographic location information about that individual. At a basic level, a business can restrict its reach to consumers only located in a defined geographic area such as a state or a city. But location often provides much deeper, more meaningful and identifiable traits that tell you what a person wants, needs or is interested in.

Here are 10 practical tips for using geo-location information to reach your target audience.

1. Find A Venue Where Your Target Audience Will Have Specific Wants Or Needs

Stadiums, airports, universities, and malls are examples of specific venues that can be targeted in order to reach specific interest groups. Stadiums provide a great opportunity to focus on specific short engagement events with an audience defined by that event. They often host fans from two specific cities or schools or fans of a specific music genre that is heavy in one demographic. A band like One Direction, for example, is likely to attract school-age female fans.

Use these consumer characteristics to time and target your marketing. For example, airports on weekdays are a great source of business travelers looking for high-end restaurants, while weekends and Spring Break bring more leisure visitors and families looking for more casual dining options. Likewise, dance clubs and bars can benefit by promoting 18 and over events targeted at universities whose student bodies are largely between the ages of 18-21. These are just a few examples of how venues define audiences that can be effectively targeted.

2. Exclude Locations Where Your Target Audience Will Not Be

Not only can you define an area you wish to reach, you can carve out an area you wish to exclude. Exclusion can be done by venue or one side of the street or any area that could have been specifically targeted.

For example, clubs and bars that might otherwise want to target university students may exclude that same area during breaks or the summer when most students are away.

Excluding locations may also be a more cost-effective way to avoid the higher ad rates of high demand target areas. Digital marketing agency Mediative explains in this SlideShare how lower-cost, broader area ad campaigns can accomplish the same targeting goals by opting out of all areas but your desired target location.

LSA map3. Define A Radius By Distance Or Time Around Your Store Or An Area Of Interest

Geo-fencing allows marketers to set a perimeter around a physical location in which ads can be delivered. For geo-fencing ads, they may include creative messages acknowledging the user’s location or may include location-based features such as a store locator.

For example, a coffee shop can set a 1-mile perimeter around its store and reach any user within that radius. Or, it could set a 3-mile perimeter around a nearby office complex to reach users that may be looking for somewhere to grab coffee before going into work. You can also try geo-conquesting, which targets customers around a competitor’s location.

Another way to define a perimeter is not by distance, but by time. A company named iGeolise developed a platform they call TravelTime, an API that allows mobile apps and sites to search by time rather than distance. This could be useful for a condo unit near downtown looking to attract workers with very long commutes, or a restaurant targeting hotel patrons within a 10-minute walking distance.

igeloise

Courtesy: iGeolise

4. Adjust Your Bid On Ads To Prioritize Better Locations

One concern with specific targeting is the loss in volume of audience. Even if you have an otherworldly 10% click-through rate, that’s just 10 click-throughs if only 100 people see your ad.

In low performing locations, the business developed from those areas may be outweighed by the campaign cost. By raising your bid for more desirable target locations, you increase your exposure in that area, while lowering your bid in other areas keeps your reach broad at a justifiable cost. These adjustments are a way of optimizing ad performance.

An event planning company or marketer for a musician that is hosting a concert in Chicago may use bid adjustments to prioritize Chicago, but also reach, at a lower cost, Milwaukee, WI and Grand Rapids, MI, both of which are driving distance

5. Use Location-Specific Keywords For Paid Search Ads

Geotargeting doesn’t always mean you have to capture where someone is physically located. Consumer intent is conveyed all the time by search queries, and location is a commonly included term. Consumers often narrow their own searches by adding in the name of a city or district.

For example, “Austin gyms” or “coffee shops near Dupont Circle” or “uptown restaurants” provide location intent that you can target. Include location terms such as area code, ZIP code, neighborhood, community name, nearby landmarks, popular venues, tourist destinations, well known street names, local jargon and other keywords that will help you get found when a consumer is searching for businesses around you.

6. Predict Your Audience By Geography

Geography can also be used to predict desirable demographics and information about users in that area. Neighborhoods can often be delineated by residents’ income bracket, age, ethnicity, education, and many other demographics or interests. Politicians often draw district boundaries into areas of common political constituencies that also predict demographics or common values.

Knowing your business’ target audience and matching it up with where they live or work helps you find those who might be most interested in your product or service.  For example, a ticket broker might want to advertise NCAA basketball tickets in the state of Kentucky and might think of using Kentucky basketball in its messaging.  However, Louisville basketball would be preferable for any advertising within 50 miles of the city on the Kentucky side of the border and 70 miles into Indiana due to the strength of Louisville’s fan base in those areas.

7. Discover Location Intent By Search History

Targeting ads using search history allows marketers to deliver location specific ads to consumers, even if the consumer’s tracked location doesn’t match the physical location of where he or she was searching.

For example, a user searching for information on the Empire State Building, Central Park, and Broadway tickets predicts a trip to New York. A hotel in the area could use that search history data to deliver a relevant and timely search related ad or message.

8. Analyze Consumer Behavior And Preference From Past Locations Visited

Location history of a consumer provides a lot of information specific to that person: where they like to shop, what they like to buy, how often they make the trip, and even how they get there. Obtaining this information gives great insight to marketers that enhances the ability to target consumers and deliver relevant, responsive location specific ads and information, even if the consumer is not currently in that area.

For example, a bagel shop might serve up a free coffee coupon to anyone who’s visited a Starbucks location more than once within 10 blocks of its shop.  The customers may be from anywhere in the city but their location history allows the bagel shop to target those who are likely to be in the area in the future.

9. Use Location-Specific Landing Pages To Provide Relevant Content

It’s important not only to target the right consumers, but to provide the most relevant information to them. If you find the right user who clicks on your ad, but the landing page for that ad isn’t customized, that conversion could be lost. Offer different website landing pages for each targeted ad that match the reason that user was targeted.

Another way to get the right people to the right landing page is through geo-aware targeting. Your site or landing page can detect where the user is when they click on a banner or visit your website.

For example, if a user from a high income neighborhood visits a car dealer’s site or clicks on a paid search display ad, that consumer may be directed to a landing page displaying a luxury vehicle, while consumers located in a lower income area may be targeted with a deal on an economy vehicle. The higher income consumers may be more interested in deals such as cash off or lower interest rates whereas those in lower income brackets may be more receptive to lower monthly payments.

10. Take Advantage Of Geographic Specific Events

Lastly, geographic specific events, such as the weather or traditional local holiday celebrations, can be used to target consumers. Some events are known in advance, like St. Patrick’s Day in Boston. Others are unexpected, like snow storms in Dallas.

Upon forecast of a blizzard, a hardware store may target consumers with content promoting snow shovels or snow blowers. The week before St. Patrick’s Day, a clothing store may promote its green colored or festive attire. Either way, these events will spike demand for particular items and are a great opportunity to boost sales.

In summary, these are but a few of the examples of how geography plays such an important part in creating customized and targeted marketing campaigns. Consumers respond better to relevant marketing which means that ROI of targeted campaigns will increase. Mobile consumers make geography one of the best ways to target while technology and data make doing so a real advantage to those who use it. Sometimes it takes a little creativity, but it is worth the effort. Especially for the business of local.

The post 10 Practical Tips For Using Geo-Location To Reach Your Target Audience appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Music SEO – 7 Lessons in Brand Optimization for 2015

Posted by evolvingSEO

Bands, music, and SEO – A different paradigm

For B2B or ecommerce, people often discover your brand with commercial queries like “dining room lamps” or an informational search like “how to fix a dishwasher”. 

Then they look around your site, your social profiles, get retargeted—before ever making a purchase—but in many cases that journey started with an non-branded organic search. Search is certainly not the only discovery channel. But important enough that investment in non-branded keywords is essential.

A (very simplified) illustration of this discovery path might look something like this:

content discovery path b2b ecommerce

The above is NOT the case for musicians and bands though. When’s the last time you discovered a band with a search engine? Probably never.

For bands and musicians, the discovery path is  flipped aroundTHIS is probably more realistic:

discovery path for bands

The search engine is  more about reducing friction on the path to becoming a die-hard fan. I don’t think many people are discovering their new favorite band like this:

searching for bands on google

But you HAVE probably tried to learn more about bands and musicians after the initial discovery with searches like this:

current fan search

(No, I am not a Lumineers fan—just so there’s no confusion 😉 )

I don’t think many musicians, bands, record labels or managers are looking at this aspect of search. Sure, you can hope that users and Google “just figure it out.” Or you can be proactive and create the best fan experience possible.


SEO for bands = The branded keyword experience

So the REAL opportunity in keywords for bands and musicians is the fan experience here:

google autosuggest band search terms

It’s their “branded” terms (or what I like to call “PropWords“—proprietary keywords):

  • band name
  • musician names
  • album names
  • song names
  • lyrics
  • performance dates
  • interviews
  • etc…

For example, there’s a TON of volume around Lupe Fiasco’s branded terms—and this is only the tip of the iceberg:

branded search terms lupe fiasco

Just because no one’s discovering Lupe Fiasco in organic search, doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity. It’s just not in the normal places you’d look for B2B or eCommerce opportunity.

So that’s the lens through which the rest of this post should be seen through. SEO for bands is primarily about the fan experience searching their branded terms


Search result opportunities for bands

1. Event listings

1.1 Optimize your own site for general tour searches

As a band, it’s important to keep fans and potential fans in your ecosystem. You should keep fans on your properties (website, social etc) as much as possible—so as not to give up extra traffic to third party sites. Being visible for your own event searches is a critical way to keep them there. 

Let’s use on of my new favorite bands,  Sylvan Esso. Here’s an example of what Google typically shows for a tour search—for the query “sylvan esso tour dates”:

search results sylvan esso

I imagine for this query, fans are trying to get a list of all tour dates. So what is Google doing now? They are providing the list front and center

You notice that Sylvan Esso only has one result—everything else goes to a third party site. This is already a lost opportunity to drive more fans to their site. 

They could optimize for clicks by aligning the likely user intent with their appearance in the SERP. Using the SEO Mofo SERP tool, I came up with:

sylvan esso tour dates search results

This listing may perform better because:

  • It aligns with most likely user intent (browse all dates/location & purchase)
  • The URL is more informative
  • It promises something exclusive (as long as they deliver—maybe with a group discount, a meet and greet etc).

This is the start to funneling fans through your website instead of a third party. 

1.2 Create pages for individual shows (with caution)

Some fans may opt to click a tour date Google has provided. What does Google do next?

tour dates serp

Google then returns a page like this—with a TON of stuff:

band serp

This SERP is packed! It includes:

  • A date carousel
  • A large AdWords ad
  • A map card 
  • Knowledge Graph card
  • Top result has 4 site-links
  • 7 more normal organic results, some with date snippets and extra links

Here’s the kicker. There’s only one tiny little link to sylvanesso.com—in the map card. And it goes to their homepage. They have a pretty poor shot at driving users to their website here.

Let’s look at a result for a specific Dave Matthews Band tour date:

dave matthews serp

They’re doing it a little better. Few observations with this one:

  • Their link in the map goes to their tour page
  • The #1 organic listing goes to their website—because they have a specific page for that exact show.
  • The amount of stuff in this SERP is still immense. The first organic result is way below the fold.
  • The “with caution” part is that—you don’t want to just create individual pages for every show, without trying to add something of value to them—like information about the venue, past show pictures from that venue, etc. These pages can get quite “thin” and this isn’t a good thing either.

1.3 Tag your site to get official ticket links

Finally, the biggest change in Google is the addition of official ticketing agents. To use one of their examples, let’s look at  Google’s example of “ariana grande tour” (and no, definitely not a secret Ariana Grande fan—although some of the production is decent):

Not only do the tour dates show up at the top, but check out this preferred ticketing link showing prominently in the Map Card:

official ticket agent in band serp

Google  first announced this capability about a year ago. And they have recently expanded this for comedians and concert venues as well. Here is Google’s official developer documentation on event markup for performers: https://developers.google.com/structured-data/events/performers I want to note, they are giving preferential treatment to official artist websites:

event markup for performer sites

You have three options to specify event info:

  1. HTML—code it directly into your page
  2. Plugins or Widgets
  3. New “Delegation” Markup—indicate Google to source it from another webpage

2. Make an app (or several) and index them

For those not aware, App Indexing is getting pretty real. I think this is a major opportunity for bands and musicians. Let’s look at mobile search volume for a few albums that have come out recently:

mobile search volume for recent albums

According to my small sample, at least 44% of album name searches are on a mobile device (not even including tablets). Recent claims are that Android has  almost 50% of the smartphone market share. For Alicia Keys, that would mean about 18,500 searches a month for “girl on fire” on an Android.

Are you seeing the opportunity? No? Well, Bjork did:

bjork app

She had an app developed just for her new album, Biophillia. Now, Android users searching Google for this album will be able to purchase and experience the “multimedia exploration” in this app.

If I was a label, I’d be experimenting with making apps for all albums by artists—filling them with an exclusive experience—and seeing what happens.

Google put together their  4-steps to appiness—and easy to follow guide to get your Android app indexed in Google search.

3. Get a Knowledge Graph result

I know we’ve look at musicians who have already reached a threshold of popularity. They are likely to have a Knowledge Graph result already.

But what if you’re an up and coming musician? You may not have a Knowledge Graph result—but perhaps with a little nudge you can get one. For example, a friend of mine (and old bandmate) Lost Midas is now a solo electrofusion producer and songwriter. He is signed to an independent label and even just performed at SXSW—but unfortunately Google does not show a Knowledge Graph result:

missing knowledge graph in serp

What could someone like him do to get in the Knowledge Graph?

One thing I found interesting was Google’s suggestions for how performers specifically can get in the Knowledge Graph. It’s buried at the bottom of the event listings page:

3.1 Get listed in Wikipedia

This is easier said than done. Be sure to read their inclusion criteria for music.

If you feel the band or musician is notable enough to get into Wikipedia, you can then  start the process here. That is the official page to add an article request for bands and musicians. Please note, Wikipedia does not want you to list yourself. 

As Google states above— be sure the official homepage is recorded correctly. I take this to mean—list the exact (“canonical”) version of your homepage URL. The one you would verify in Webmaster Tools.

You may also find this article on how someone claimed to sneak through Wiki’s notability test interesting (although I can’t officially say how good that method is).

3.2 Get listed in MusicBrainz

The other site Google recommends getting listed in is  MusicBrainz.org. I don’t have much experience with this site, but you can go here to learn about making contributions.

musicbrainz

3.3 Upload audio to Archive.org

Note, this is just my hunch. But if Google is using Wikipedia and MusicBrainz to inform their Knowledge Graph results—perhaps they use Archive.org. Why not? It’s one of the most authoritative sources on the web. 

With Archive.org you can upload entire concerts to their site:

archive.org

3.4 Create and verify a Google Plus page

Right, I know. “No one uses Google Plus.” “Google Plus is dying.” Perhaps there are elements of truth there. But I’d be surprised if having a Google Plus page verified with your website doesn’t somehow impact Knowledge Graph listings.

My friend does not have a Google Plus listing currently:

searching for band's google plus page

For those needing to create and verify a Google Plus page:

  1. Go here and choose “Brand” to create a page. (Note, you are not creating a personal page. This is a mistake I see many organizations making).
  2. And then link your website to your brand page by following those instructions.

4. Customize your Knowledge Graph

Once you have a Knowledge Graph listing—that’s just the beginning! Google recently added ways to control what appears there.

4.1 Specify your logo

For bands (and all organizations really) branding is an essential element of success. Google now gives you the opportunity to directly control the logo users see in your Knowledge Graph result:

customizing a band's knowledge graph result

As you can see above, the jazz group The Bad Plus has a random picture from an article showing—when perhaps there is a better photo they would prefer. This may be especially important from a consistency of branding standpoint.

4.2 Specify your social profiles

In addition, you can also directly control what social media links show in the knowledge graph. As I’ve mentioned, getting users to follow you on social is a key goal for bands in terms of audience development. Your audience is everything. And for bands, most search activity is going to come from their brand name. Why not make it easier for them to discover your social profiles?

For example, the amazing “Livetronica” Band (live electronica music) The New Deal could get all of their social links to show in their Knowledge Box:

missing social profiles in knowledge graph

As you can see they are missing a huge opportunity to get more fans to their Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud profiles. There’s at least 1,700 searches a month for “the new deal music” and “the new deal band”.

5. Have a crawlable and indexable site

For some reason, I have noticed sites in the music industry tend to be pretty inferior. This could be due to labels using poor frameworks, or the band/artist needing to just get a website up the quickest, cheapest and easiest way possible. This can cause some issues though.

Let’s check out my friend’s site again. He’s currently on the Flavors.me platform. It looks like there’s several “pages” to the user, but to Google his website is just all one page:

cached band page

As mentioned, this is a common yet often overlooked issue with music websites I see. In fact, despite Bjork getting it right by having an app—her website has the same issue:

cached webpage for bjork

Her website (which actually does looks like an impressive creative endeavor) is built with hashes # in the URLs. Which makes the individual pages uncrawlable.

This shows up as an issue if I try to find her mailing list in Google:

serp for uncrawlable band page

The first result goes to her record label’s page. That’s fine right? Well, not really because she has her own mailing list:

page visible to searcher not search engine

Because of how the website is built though, that page is basically invisible to Google—and users can not easily find it from a search.

The absence of Bjork’s mailing list in search results is a critical oversight. For an artist, your mailing list is one of your strongest assets.

5. Leverage your own YouTube channel

As it’s often said, YouTube is the second largest search engine. And there’s no doubt music queries make up a huge percentage of their overall search volume.

5.1 Create a YouTube channel

I’m sad to have to say this, but many bands don’t seem to even have a YouTube page of their own. Again, they are missing a massive opportunity to funnel fans searching for their content to their YouTube account—where they can grow subscribers, promote music and cross-promote other channels.

For example, that band The New Deal does not have their own YouTube channel:

branded youtube channel

Their live performances are a core selling point. This drives a ton of activity around their band in YouTube (people looking for concert footage). If they added some of their own on their own channel, they could capture a lot of this activity and engage with the fans.

5.2 Add video content fans are looking for

Having a channel is great, but fans are often looking for specific pieces of content. It’s really nice to have lots of fans that upload this content for you for fun, but capturing some of this activity is important.

For example, another new band I have been liking a lot – Made In Heights—could be doing this:

search opportunities on youtube

Fans are looking for live performances, and the only ones there now are all fan uploads.

You can use YouTube search suggest to find other things fans are searching for. I don’t see it mentioned often, but KeywordTool.io allows you to get YouTube search suggestions:

keywordtool.io youtube suggestions

This can quickly give you ideas of what content to add to your band page in YouTube:

keyword suggestions youtube

The above screenshot shows the most common searches around “Made In Heights”. They mostly look like song names. If I were that band, I’d make sure they have video or content for every one of those songs. 

You can use YouTube directly of course to find search suggestions off of the band name. For example, there are a lot of lyric searches. This makes sense. People want to listen to the song while reading the lyrics:

lyric search autosuggest

Wow! Yet, what happens when we look in YouTube for “made in heights lyrics”?

search results lyrics youtube

Never mind the band not having any lyric results—NO one has any lyric results. This is definitely an opportunity to provide content that doesn’t exist within YouTube.

5.3 Create playlists

Playlists are also overlooked in YouTube. They have many benefits:

  • Make your content easier to discover by organizing it.
  • Keep viewers on your content, in your channel
  • I’ve heard it rumored that creation of playlists can help you rank better in YouTube search only if your channel helps YouTube keep viewers… inside YouTube. Playlists can do this.
  • You can organize videos from any account into your playlists.
  • You can also rank in Google search with playlists (more on that below)

I started using playlists on my YouTube music channel (where I mainly post covers and tutorials of hip-hop songs on piano)—and at least anecdotally—have seen my view count rise faster than usual:

youtube playlists

(I sure did use the word “content” a lot in that screenshot!)

Many popular artists in YouTube don’t have any playlists though—for example  Flying Lotus:

missing band playlist youtube

You can also curate playlists of videos about your band no matter who uploaded it. For example, let’s say you’re Drake (OK, maybe Drake’s record label or social media manager). You could curate playlists of the best Drake interviews, no matter who uploaded them:

drake seo suggestions

Then when fans search, they may discover the playlist on Drake’s channel which could earn subscriptions and also get them watching their chosen interviews.

Speaking of Drake—remember when I mentioned you could rank in Google search with YouTube playlists? Take a look at this:

drake serp

That’s a random  fan playlist ranking #1 for “drake playlist”—which gets 1,600 searches a month. That’s not an outlying case though. I barely had to look further for another example:

john legend playlist serp

“john legend playlist” gets 720 searches a month—and two fan playlists rank at the top.

6. Contribute to Medium.com

While the idea of “guest posting” is saturated in many industries, I don’t see this being done a whole lot in the music industry. That’s why I was impressed when I noticed a DJ named A-Trak posted this compelling article about rap in 2014:

guest posting for bands on medium

A few months later, this article has earned:

  • 254 recommendations on Medium
  • 1,480 Facebook shares
  • 470 tweets
  • 336 Google +1’s
  • Including shares by Fred Wilson (380,000+ followers) and pianist Chilly Gonzales (40,000+ followers and high relevance)

It even ranks #2 for [rap in 2014]:

serp for rap in 2014

Although not super high volume, it potentially ranks for a lot of long tail—and will bring in consistent brand discovery from a relevant audience.

6. Provide exclusive content about your lyrics

The SEO world is no stranger to lyric searches. Just last year, Rap Genius (now just “Genius”) was caught up in a Google penalty. And back on December 19, Glenn Gabe was the first to notice Google displaying full lyrics in search results:

band-provided lyric content in serps

Glenn Gabe’s screenshot from December 19, 2014 of Google displaying lyrics in search. 

Glenn also recently published a pretty  in depth study about lyrics in the SERPs I highly recommend you check out.

In his article, Glenn astutely points out that when you add the word “meaning” to your lyrics search—the lyrics box goes away—which I found to be true looking at Sylvan Esso “Coffee” lyrics:

lyrics meaning in serps

As a band you could release exclusive content about your lyrics such as:

  • A photo of where they were originally written (on a napkin while on tour etc)
  • The story about how/why they were written
  • An explanation about their style (rhyme patterns, metaphors, references to history etc.)
  • Share old/original versions of the lyrics or a certain line and the process of revisions

Fans and music publications could also create exclusive content about the lyrics. They could interview the band about their meaning—or publish their own in-depth interpretation of the meaning.

I also want to point out—there can be a lot of search volume for a single line of a song lyric, if the song and artist are popular enough. Check out the volume for this one line by Drake:

lyric search by line

That’s 1,000 searches a month (certainly skewed all towards February, when the album came out) for “runnin’ through the 6 with my woes”.

And I want to point out, 65% of those searches are being done on mobile phones


mobile lyric searches

Check out search volume for Adele lyrics from years ago now:

adele lyric search

“But I set fire to the rain” and “watched it pour as I touched your face” both get decent volume and have a good share of mobile share.

Yet there is only one result in this SERP explaining the meaning to this line:

lyric search opportunity

There’s definitely value to be found by:

  • finding lines from lyrics with search volume
  • creating content to satisfy the user intent

Both the artists AND third party publishers have an opportunity here. Genius.com is really the only true player in this space right now!

7. Optimize for real name searches

Remember my friend “Lost Midas”? This is obviously not his real name. It’s Jason Trikakis. Not a hugely common name. So a search for it should return his website #1 right? 

real name searches in serps

Wrong. You can’t always rely on Google to “figure it out.” The problem here stems back to the fact his website is not very search-friendly. His name is on the website but very hard for Google to find.

Solution in this case would be:

  • Ultimately to be on a better web platform. 
  • But also adding his name into the title of the page (if possible on Flavors.me) would certainly be a step in the right direction 🙂

Also—remember Sylvan Esso? What if one were to be searching around for “Nick Sanborn” who makes up 1/2 of the Sylvan Esso duo?

real name search for band member

Now, I’d never argue something from sylvanesso.com should appear at the top. But there’s nothing from their domain on the first page. As a fan, I’d probably enjoy at least one result from one of their own domains.

Here’s a few ideas for them:

  • Create a bio page on their own site
  • Have a personal website which can then get people to the band website etc

There’s SO much more I could have mentioned in terms of marketing music these days. When I  played in bands it was the days of MySpace 🙂 I don’t even think YouTube was out yet. 

There are so many opportunities out there now with social media, platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I left a LOT out of this post.

If you have any questions at all, please ask in the comments below! And I also love to chat about music!

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