Archives for : July2016

Excited about Google’s new map ads? You should be!

Google Maps ads are changing to help local businesses become more visible. Columnist Will Scott discusses the four features you should be most excited about. The post Excited about Google’s new map ads? You should be! appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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iSecure – WordPress Scanner

Monitor & Records Log of Website, members, visitors and email activities.

Lessons to learn and study for local marketers and advertisers at the LBR LBO Summit this year

While advertising is on the rise in the digital space in today's modern world, there are many lessons to learn for local marketers and advertisers.

Merkle’s early data on expanded text ad CTRs: Results are mixed

The agency looked at expanded text ad performance from both brand and non-brand traffic. The post Merkle’s early data on expanded text ad CTRs: Results are mixed appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Positive energy behind Entropia

But when the statement comes from Prashant Kumar, senior partner of the newly-launched local marketing services agency Entropia, it does carry …

SearchCap: AdWords reports, CTR data & Google Maps ads

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web. The post SearchCap: AdWords reports, CTR data & Google Maps ads appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Should SEOs and Marketers Continue to Track and Report on Keyword Rankings? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Is the practice of tracking keywords truly dying? There’s been a great deal of industry discussion around the topic of late, and some key points have been made. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand speaks to the biggest challenges keyword rank tracking faces today and how to solve for them.

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about keyword ranking reports. There have been a few articles that have come out recently on a number of big industry sites around whether SEOs should still be tracking their keyword rankings.

I want to be clear: Moz has a little bit of a vested interest here. And so the question is: Can you actually trust me, who obviously I’m a big shareholder in Moz and I’m the founder, and so I care a lot about how Moz does as a software business. We help people track rankings. Does that mean I’m biased? I’m going to do my best not to be. So rather than saying you absolutely should track rankings, I’m instead going to address what most of these articles have brought up as the problems of rank tracking and then talk about some solutions by which you can do this.

My suspicion is you should probably be rank tracking. I think that if you turn it off and you don’t do it, it’s very hard to get a lot of the value that we need as SEOs, a lot of the intelligence. It’s true there are challenges with keyword ranking reports, but not true enough to avoid doing it entirely. We still get too much value from them.

The case against — and solutions for — keyword ranking data

A. People, places, and things

So let’s start with the case against keyword ranking data. First off, “keyword ranking reports are inaccurate.” There’s personalization, localization, and device type, and that biases and has removed what is the “one true ranking.” We’ve done a bunch of analyses of these, and this is absolutely the case.

Personalization, turns out, doesn’t change ranking that much on average. For an individual it can change rankings dramatically. If they visited your website before, they could be historically biased to you. Or if they visited your competitor’s, they could be biased. Their previous search history might have biased them in a single session, those kinds of things. But with the removal of Google+ from search results, personalization is actually not as dramatically changing as it used to be. Localization, though, still huge, absolutely, and device differences, still huge.

Solution

But we can address this, and the way to do that is by tracking these things separately. So here you can see I’ve got a ranking report that shows me my mobile rankings versus my desktop rankings. I think this is absolutely essential. Especially if you’re getting a lot of traffic from both mobile and desktop search, you need to be tracking those separately. Super smart. Of course we should do that.

We can do the same thing on the local side as well. So I can say, “Here, look. This is how I rank in Seattle. Here’s how I rank in Minneapolis. Here’s how I rank in the U.S. with no geographic personalization,” if Google were to do that. Those types of rankings can also be pretty good.

It is true that local ranked tracking has gotten a little more challenging, but we’ve seen that folks like, well Moz itself, but folks like STAT (GetStat), SERPs.com, Search Metrics, they have all adjusted their rank tracking methodologies in order to have accurate local rank tracking. It’s pretty good. Same with device type, pretty darn good.

B. Keyword value estimation

Another big problem that is expressed by a number of folks here is we no longer know how much traffic an individual keyword sends. Because we don’t know how much an individual keyword sends, we can’t really say, “What’s the value of ranking for that keyword?” Therefore, why bother to even track keyword rankings?

I think this is a little bit of spurious logic. The leap there doesn’t quite make sense to me. But I will say this. If you don’t know which keywords are sending you traffic specifically, you still know which pages are receiving search traffic. That is reported. You can get it in your Google Analytics, your Omniture report, whatever you’re using, and then you can tie that back to keyword ranking reports showing which pages are receiving traffic from which keywords.

Most all of the ranked tracking platforms, Moz included, has a report that shows you something like this. It says, “Here are the keywords that we believe are likely to have sent these percentages of traffic to this page based on the keywords that you’re tracking, based on the pages that are ranking for them, and how much search traffic those pages receive.”

Solution

So let’s track that. We can look at pages receiving visits from search, and we can look at which keywords they rank for. Then we can tie those together, which gives us the ability to then make not only a report like this, but a report that estimates the value contributed by content and by pages rather than by individual keywords.

In a lot of ways, this is almost superior to our previous methodology of tracking by keyword. Keyword can still be estimated through AdWords, through paid search, but this can be estimated on a content basis, which means you get credit for how much value the page has created, based on all the search traffic that’s flowed to it, and where that’s at in your attribution lifecycle of people visiting those pages.

C. Tracking rankings and keyword relevancy

Pages often rank for keywords that they aren’t specifically targeting, because Google has gotten way better with user intent. So it can be hard or even impossible to track those rankings, because we don’t know what to look for.

Well, okay, I hear you. That is a challenge. This means basically what we have to do is broaden the set of keywords that we look at and deal with the fact that we’re going to have to do sampling. We can’t track every possible keyword, unless you have a crazy budget, in which case go talk to Rob Bucci up at STAT, and he will set you up with a huge campaign to track all your millions of keywords.

Solution

If you have a smaller budget, what you have to do is sample, and you sample by sets of keywords. Like these are my high conversion keywords — I’m going to assume I have a flower delivery business — so flower delivery and floral gifts and flower arrangements for offices. My long tail keywords, like artisan rose varieties and floral alternatives for special occasions, and my branded keywords, like Rand’s Flowers or Flowers by Rand.

I can create a bunch of different buckets like this, sample the keywords that are in them, and then I can track each of these separately. Now I can see, ah, these are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving up and receiving more traffic. These are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving down. These are sets of keywords that perform better or worse on mobile or desktop, or better or worse in these geographic areas. Right now I can really start to get true intelligence from there.

Don’t let your keyword targeting — your keyword targeting meaning what keywords you’re targeting on which pages — determine what you rank track. Don’t let it do that exclusively. Sure, go ahead and take that list and put that in there, but then also do some more expansive keyword research to find those broad sets of search terms and phrases that you should be monitoring. Now we can really solve this issue.

D. Keyword rank tracking with a purpose

This one I think is a pretty insidious problem. But for many organizations ranking reports are more of a historical artifact. We’re not tracking them for a particular reason. We’re tracking them because that’s what we’ve always tracked and/or because we think we’re supposed to track them. Those are terrible reasons to track things. You should be looking for reasons of real value and actionability. Let’s give some examples here.

Solution

What I want you to do is identify the goals of rank tracking first, like: What do I want to solve? What would I do differently based on whether this data came back to me in one way or another?

If you don’t have a great answer to that question, definitely don’t bother tracking that thing. That should be the rule of all analytics.

So if your goal is to say, “Hey, I want to be able to attribute a search traffic gain or a search traffic loss to what I’ve done on my site or what Google has changed out there,” that is crucially important. I think that’s core to SEO. If you don’t have that, I’m not sure how we can possibly do our jobs.

We attribute search traffic gains and losses by tracking broadly, a broad enough set of keywords, hopefully in enough buckets, to be able to get a good sample set; by tracking the pages that receive that traffic so we can see if a page goes way down in its search visits. We can look at, “Oh, what was that page ranking for? Oh, it was ranking for these keywords. Oh, they dropped.” Or, “No, they didn’t drop. But you know what? We looked in Google Trends, and the traffic demand for those keywords dropped,” and so we know that this is a seasonality thing, or a fluctuation in demand, or those types of things.

And we can track by geography and device, so that we can say, “Hey, we lost a bunch of traffic. Oh, we’re no longer mobile-friendly.” That is a problem. Or, “Hey, we’re tracking and, hey, we’re no longer ranking in this geography. Oh, that’s because these two competitors came in and they took over that market from us.”

We could look at would be something like identify pages that are in need of work, but they only require a small amount of work to have a big change in traffic. So we could do things like track pages that rank on page two for given keywords. If we have a bunch of those, we can say, “Hey, maybe just a few on-page tweaks, a few links to these pages, and we could move up substantially.” We had a Whiteboard Friday where we talked about how you could do that with internal linking previously and have seen some remarkable results there.

We can track keywords that rank in position four to seven on average. Those are your big wins, because if you can move up from position four, five, six, seven to one, two, three, you can double or triple your search traffic that you’re receiving from keywords like that.

You should also track long tail, untargeted keywords. If you’ve got a long tail bucket, like we’ve got up here, I can then say, “Aha, I don’t have a page that’s even targeting any of these keywords. I should make one. I could probably rank very easily because I have an authoritative website and some good content,” and that’s really all you might need.

We might look at some up-and-coming competitors. I want to track who’s in my space, who might be creeping up there. So I should track the most common domains that rank on page one or two across my keyword sets.

I can track specific competitors. I might say, “Hey, Joel’s Flower Delivery Service looks like it’s doing really well. I’m going to set them up as a competitor, and I’m going to track their rankings specifically, or I’m going to see…” You could use something like SEMrush and see specifically: What are all the keywords they rank for that you don’t rank for?

This type of data, in my view, is still tremendously important to SEO, no matter what platform you’re using. But if you’re having these problems or if these problems are being expressed to you, now you have some solutions.

I look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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AdWords gains 3 new cross-device attribution reports

Based on AdWords cross-device conversion data, the new reports show device influence through the full conversion path. The post AdWords gains 3 new cross-device attribution reports appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Case Study: How We Created Controversial Content That Earned Hundreds of Links

Posted by KelseyLibert

Content marketers, does the following scenario sound familiar?

You’re tasked with creating content that attracts publicity, links, and social shares. You come up with great ideas for content that you’re confident could accomplish these goals. However, any ideas that push the envelope or might offend anyone in the slightest get shot down by your boss or client. Even if a provocative idea gets approved, after feedback from higher-ups and several rounds of editing, you end up with a boring, watered-down version of what you originally envisioned.

Given the above, you’re not surprised when you achieve lackluster results. Repeat this cycle enough times, and it may lead to the false assumption that content marketing doesn’t work for the brand.

In this post, I’ll answer two questions:

  1. How can I get my boss or clients to sign off on envelope-pushing content that will attract the attention needed to achieve great results?
  2. How can we minimize the risk of backlash?

Why controversy is so powerful for content marketing

To get big results, content needs to get people talking. Often times, the best way to do this is by creating an emotional reaction in the audience. Content that deals with a controversial or polarizing topic can be a surefire way to accomplish this.

On the other hand, when you play it too safe with your content, it becomes extremely difficult to ignite the emotional response needed to drive social sharing. Ultimately, you don’t attract the attention needed to earn high-quality links.

Below is a peek at the promotions report from a recent controversial campaign that resulted in a lot of high-quality links, among other benefits.

abodo-promotions-report.png

Overcoming a client’s aversion to controversy

We understand and respect a client’s fierce dedication to protecting their brand. The thought of attaching their company to anything controversial can set off worst-case-scenario visions of an angry Internet mob and bad press (which isn’t always a terrible thing).

One such example of balancing a sensitive topic while minimizing the potential risk is a recent campaign we created for apartment listing site Abodo. Our idea was to use Twitter data to pinpoint which states and cities had the highest concentration of prejudiced and tolerant tweets. Bigotry in America is an extremely sensitive topic, yet our client was open to the idea.

Want to get a contentious idea approved by your boss or client? Here’s how we did it.

1. Your idea needs to be relevant to the brand, either directly or tangentially.

Controversy for the sake of controversy is not going to provide value to the brand or the target audience.

I asked Michael Taus, VP of Growth and Business Development at Abodo, why our campaign idea got the green light. He said Abodo’s mission is to help people find a home, not to influence political discourse. But they also believe that when you’re moving to a new community, there’s more to the decision than what your house or apartment looks like, including understanding the social and cultural tone of the location.

So while the campaign dealt with a hot topic, ultimately this information would be valuable to Abodo’s users.

2. Prove that playing it safe isn’t working.

If your “safe” content is struggling to get attention, make the case for taking a risk. Previous campaign topics for our client had been too conservative. We knew by creating something worth talking about, we’d see greater results.

3. Put safeguards in place for minimizing risk to the brand.

While we couldn’t guarantee there wouldn’t be a negative response once the campaign launched, we could guarantee that we’d do everything in our power to minimize any potential backlash. We were confident in our ability to protect our client because we’d done it so many times with other campaigns. I’ll walk you through how to do this throughout the rest of the post.

On the client’s end, they can get approval from other internal departments; for example, having the legal and PR teams review and give final approval can help mitigate the uncertainty around running a controversial campaign.

Did taking a risk pay off?

The campaign was a big success, with results including:

  • More than 620 placements (240 dofollow links and 280 co-citation links)
  • Features on high-authority sites including CNET, Slate, Business Insider, AOL, Yahoo, Mic, The Daily Beast, and Adweek
  • More than 67,000 social shares
  • A whole lot of discussion

cnet-coverage.png

Beyond these metrics, Abodo has seen additional benefits such as partnership opportunities. Since this campaign launched, they were approached by a nonprofit organization to collaborate on a similar type of piece. They hope to repeat their success by leveraging the nonprofit’s substantial audience and PR capabilities.

Essential tips for minimizing risk around contentious content

We find that good journalism practices can greatly reduce the risk of a negative response. Keep the following five things in mind when creating attention-grabbing content.

1. Presenting data vs. taking a stance: Let the data speak

Rather than presenting an opinion, just present the facts. Our clients are usually fine with controversial topics as long as we don’t take a stance on them and instead allow the data we’ve collected to tell the story for us. Facts are facts, and that’s all your content needs to offer.

If publishers want to put their own spin on the facts you present or audiences see the story the data are telling and want to respond, the conversation can be opened up and generate a lot of engagement.

For the Abodo campaign, the data we presented weren’t a direct reflection of our client but rather came from an outside source (Twitter). We packaged the campaign on a landing page on the client’s site, which includes the design assets and an objective summary of the data.

abodo-landing-page.png

The publishers then chose how to cover the data we provided, and the discussion took off from there. For example, Slate called out Louisiana’s unfortunate achievement of having the most derogatory tweets.

slate-coverage.png

2. Present more than one side of the story

How do you feel when you watch a news report or documentary that only shares one side of the story? It takes away credibility from the reporting, doesn’t it?

To keep the campaign topic from being too negative and one-sided, we looked at the most prejudiced and least prejudiced tweets. Including states and cities with the least derogatory tweets added a positive angle to the story. This made the data more objective, which improved the campaign’s credibility.

least-derogatory.png

Regional publishers showed off that their state had the nicest tweets.

idaho-article.png

And residents of these places were proud to share the news.

If your campaign topic is negative, try to show the positive side of it too. This keeps the content from being a total downer, which is important for social sharing since people usually want to pass along content that will make others feel good. Our recent study on the emotions behind viral content found that even when viral content evokes negative emotions, it’s usually not purely negative; the content also makes the audience feel a positive emotion or surprise.

Aside from objective reporting, a huge benefit to telling more than one side of the story is that you’re able to pitch the story for multiple angles, thus maximizing your potential coverage. Because of this, we ended up creating 18 visual assets for this campaign, which is far more than we typically do.

3. Don’t go in with an agenda

Be careful of twisting the data to fit your agenda. It’s okay to have a thesis when you start, but if your aim is to tell a certain story you’re apt to stick with that storyline regardless of what the data show. If your information is clearly slanted to show the story you want to tell, the audience will catch on, and you’ll get called out.

Instead of gathering research with an intent of “I’m setting out to prove XYZ,” adopt a mindset of “I wonder what the reality is.”

4. Be transparent about your methodology

You don’t want the validity of your data to become a point of contention among publishers and readers. This goes for any data-heavy campaign but especially for controversial data.

To combat any doubts around where the information came from or how the data were collected and analyzed, we publish a detailed methodology alongside all of our campaigns. For the Abodo campaign, we created a PDF document of the research methodology which we could easily share with publishers.

methodology-example.pngInclude the following in your campaign’s methodology:

  • Where and when you received your data.
  • What kind and how much data you collected. (Our methodology went on to list exactly which terms we searched for on Twitter.)
  • Any exceptions within your collection and analysis, such as omitted information.
  • A list of additional sources. (We only use reputable, new sources ideally published within the last year.)

sources-example.png

For even more transparency, make your raw data available. This gives publishers a chance to comb through the data to find additional story angles.

5. Don’t feed the trolls

This is true for any content campaign, but it’s especially important to have an error-free campaign when dealing with a sensitive topic since it may be under more scrutiny. Don’t let mistakes in the content become the real controversy.

Build multiple phases of editing into your production process to ensure you’re not releasing inaccurate or low-quality content. Keep these processes consistent by creating a set of editorial guidelines that everyone involved can follow.

We put our campaigns through fact checking and several rounds of quality assurance.

Fact checking should play a complementary role to research and involves verifying accuracy by making sure all data and assertions are true. Every point in the content should have a source that can be verified. Writers should be familiar with best practices for making their work easy to fact-check; this fact-checking guide from Poynter is a good resource.

Quality assurance looks at both the textual and design elements of a campaign to ensure a good user experience. Our QA team reviews things like grammar, clarity (Is this text clearly making a point? Is a design element confusing or hard to read?), and layout/organization.

Include other share-worthy elements

Although the controversial subject matter helped this campaign gain attention, we also incorporated other proven elements of highly shareable content:

  • Geographic angle. People wanted to see how their state or city ranked. Many took to social media to express their disappointment or pride in the results.
  • Timeliness. Bigotry is a hot-button issue in the U.S. right now amidst racial tension and a heated political situation.
  • Comparison. Rankings and comparisons stimulate discussion, especially when people have strong opinions about the rankings.
  • Surprising. The results were somewhat shocking since some cities and states which ranked “most PC” or “most prejudiced” were unexpected.

The more share-worthy elements you can tack onto your content, the greater your chances for success.

Have you seen success with controversial or polarizing content? Did you overcome a client’s objection to controversy? Be sure to share your experience in the comments.

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