Kristopher Jones – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Tue, 14 Apr 2020 16:48:26 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Analyzing search results reveals a lot about Google’s view of useful content /analyzing-search-results-reveals-a-lot-about-googles-view-of-useful-content-329044 Tue, 11 Feb 2020 20:57:59 +0000 /?p=329044 Understanding what Google chooses to present can help in assessing the types of searcher intent you can address with your content.

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Creating content is a process that has to get smarter all the time. Google is continually improving how it understands naturally expressed human language, as perfectly evidenced in its BERT update from last October.

Google has said – and webmaster trends analyst John Mueller has echoed – that there is really nothing drastically new to optimize for after the update, aside from ensuring that SEOs are writing naturally in their content rather than focusing too much on keywords.

The idea of creating content around topics rather than keywords is not particularly new, and so I am presenting an argument for making sure your content is addressing exactly what users want to see. In addition to all the content-research methods you know about already – performing keyword research, examining keyword intent, and using topic research tools – you should be mining the SERPs to see what Google has chosen to present, especially on the first page.

If there is anything to take from BERT, it is that, for how well Google understood query intent before, it now does it even better. So, the content Google sees as worthy of positions one and zero – as well as all the surrounding ancillary content on the page – is probably worth a closer look by SEOs who want to compete.

With all that said, let’s take a deep dive into analyzing search results for your own content creation, including looking at the various SERP features to see what they mean, discovering the apparent intent of the queries that led you to those particular results, and ultimately understanding and crafting more competitive content.

SERP features and intent

Search for anything on Google and you’ll get about 10 organic results in the form of those famous blue links. Those are the “money” parts of a SERP, of course, but nearly as important are all the images, graphs, boxes and news selections that appear alongside the organic results, depending on the query.

Discussing every possible feature that could appear is beyond the scope of this post, and you already know about meta tags, answer boxes and carousel lists. But since our goal is to analyze searcher intent, let’s look at a few SERP features that can be telling, given the right context.

Knowledge graphs

Knowledge graphs, or panels, present users with basic information about the entity they have searched for, if applicable. Search for “Hyundai,” as you see below, and you get a knowledge panel showing the full name of the company, a blurb describing it, the customer service email and phone number, stock price and so on. That covers quite a bit of information in one concise box. And just to the left, as you would expect, is the top paid result, for the brand’s American division website.

So, what can we tell from the box? It is built for the consumer. From this box alone, you can call customer service, start thinking about buying Hyundai stock, or check out the latest Hyundai models. The panel is also a type of portal to a great range of related subjects, including Hyundai’s social media pages and other car manufacturers.

And the overall nugget from this particular query? It’s for users interested in learning about and buying Hyundais. While it would be basically futile to try to rank your Hyundai blog on page one of the SERPs for a seed term such as “hyundai,” at least you know the term is more of an informational query than anything else, and with the right kind of long-tail keywords and plenty of regular posts, you might be able to push your blog out there.


We all know that images frequently appear at the top of the SERPs for certain types of queries. That last part is important. If images don’t always appear, then we have to assume Google knows which types of queries call for image results and which do not. Google does this through its natural language processing, so you know that when you search “nutrition facts,” you get websites about nutrition, but when you search “nutrition chart,” the first results you get are images.

Even beginner SEOs know how to optimize images to rank higher. My point is that when you search “nutrition chart” or “pastel shirts men,” you get image results so if you want your company to get more visible on page one for these and similarly worded queries, you had better start getting your images out there using all the known tactics for image optimization.

People Also Ask

The “People also ask” feature is one of the most valuable on the first SERP. The PAA box usually appears under the featured snippet or video or image results. The box shows you questions that are topically related to the question you actually asked, and you can expand each question to reveal an organic result. The answer to each question acts like a miniature featured snippet, but, of course, users will see it only if they click that question.

The PAA boxes appear in results when Google determines that a user’s query is informational in nature. The query does not necessarily have to be a question to get a PAA box. However, to increase the chances of your content getting featured or at least making it as a PAA answer, you should write informational content such as a how-to guide and consider marking it up with how-to structured data.

Search an informational query related to your industry. If you are in general contracting and maintain a regularly updated blog, search “how to screw into concrete.” The PAA box shows as follows:

If you find that you cannot compete with the featured snippet, try to write content that answers one of those PAA questions. Check out the current answers to see what they are doing well. Then, make your content better.

Writing better content

There are plenty of other features one could analyze, everything from stock market information to sports results to local packs and health features. By now you probably get the idea that by just reviewing the information right in front of your eyes, you can get clues to how to craft your own content, whether it be a blog post, image, local-pack result or “things-to-do-in” listicle.

By necessity, I have already covered how to interpret what you find on the SERPs to create ranking content. The three major types of searcher intent are:

  • Informational (“I want to know more.”)
  • Navigational (“I am looking for a specific website.”)
  • Transactional/Commercial (“I want to buy something.”)

Searcher intent has also been broken down into local, visual, branded, news, and video intent, among numerous other types. You can use various tools to dig deeper into specific SERP features, but my opinion is that there is no better instrument for figuring this stuff out than basic logic.

Search a query related to your field. Take an hour and really mine that first SERP for what it contains and what each part means. What is Google telling you by presenting this particular piece of content as the answer box? Why is that information in the knowledge panel? How is that People Also Ask question topically or semantically related to what I asked? What are the factors common to the content in positions one and two and six and nine and so on? How can my website compete with all of them?

Keep a few things in mind when attempting to answer these questions. If Google has ranked something in position zero, it is likely for good reason, and it may not be the written words of the content alone. Maybe that result is formatted in just the right way, as a how-to or a type of encyclopedia of similar topics. Perhaps the content intersperses written words with optimized infographics and videos.

You know those ten results on page one have something useful for searchers. Your job is to do it better. Also, remember that you can capitalize on some of your older content by updating it and optimizing it to be better than what’s on the SERPs now. Make this a habit, and keep up with it, to build your web pages’ EAT score and stay competitive.


You have read all the basics of ranking higher on Google. You know about creating quality content, being authoritative, and writing for topics over keywords. But maybe you were searching for a fairly straightforward way to find out exactly what Google was currently ranking for a certain query, and what its curated content actually meant relative to that query. Your solution to this problem is to go right to the source – analyze the SERPs themselves for answers.

Mining that information is only half of it, however. You still need to make your own content better. To do that, go after what Google tells you that people want, but be more detailed about it. Do more research, add more nuances, make it easier to digest, add some jump links, film a video, diversify your formatting, write more naturally, and I could go on and on.

Think of the SERPs like treasure maps. They contain all the clues you need to find your buried treasure. Now you have to take the first step.

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Here’s how to leverage long-tail keywords for your SEO /heres-how-to-leverage-long-tail-keywords-for-your-seo-324210 Wed, 30 Oct 2019 18:38:04 +0000 /?p=324210 Thinking about long-tail keywords for local search, intent and conversational language can help your SEO efforts.

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When it comes to improving your SEO, you should be reaching for every opportunity you can. For most people, one of the first things they’ll think to do is to find keywords that have a high search volume. However, as most people know, this can make you a small fish in a very large pond. We’d all like to think that we’re able to compete with huge websites for high- or medium-volume keywords that are usually more generic terms, but it doesn’t usually pan out that way. Fortunately, there are a few simpler ways of ranking higher, including using more specific, long-tail keywords as primary keyword targets.

While it might be tempting to overlook long-tail keywords that have a lower search volume, they could be exactly what your SEO needs. These keywords might get less attention than broad keywords that more people are searching for. As you make high volume search keywords more specific, the number of people searching for those terms is likely to decrease. Since longer tail has a lower search volume, there’s naturally going to be less competition over them. Depending on what industry you’re in, you might have no choice other than to go after niche and long-tail keywords. The good news is that focusing on longer tail keywords allows the vast majority of businesses to set realistic expectations with regard to SEO success.

Don’t let the potential of these keywords pass you by. To get the full benefit of long-tail keywords, you do have to be a bit clever when you use them.

1. Appeal to local searches

Local business owners will be able to get far more out of utilizing long-tail keywords than they would with broad ones. Most local businesses struggle to compete with large companies for broad keywords; there are always going to be those industry giants that no one can overthrow in the SERPs.

Whether via Google Maps or Google Search virtually everyone looks up a local business before going to the physical location. When your searching for businesses near you, you might simply say something like “restaurants near me.” Alternatively, you might specify what you’re looking for by using local-intent keywords such as your city, zip code or even your state. Searching for a business before going there or before making a purchase has become a natural instinct for most people.

Almost half of all Google searches are local searches, and 76% of people who made a local search on a smartphone visited a business nearby within 24 hours. Since the chances of someone searching for a local business are strong, it would be in your best interest to go after local-intent keywords. If you own a car wash, using “car wash” will put you up against more competition, and much of it isn’t relevant to your users. It isn’t beneficial for you or the user to use broad keywords to appeal to a local audience. By choosing keywords that are geared towards your city and surrounding areas, competition will tend to decrease. Not only will you be competing with fewer results, but the searches you get will also have a good chance of being more qualified than someone searching broad terms. These are people who are already interested in patronizing a business near them, so if you can become more visible in local searches, you could easily see new customers starting to come in.

2. Focus on intent keywords

When compiling long-tail keyword research for your site’s SEO content, be sure to include “intent keywords.” Intent keywords are often commercial in nature and tend to represent the later stage of a sales funnel.

Whenever you’re looking to buy something online, you’re likely doing at least a little research before making a decision. Prior to online searchers reaching any final purchasing decision, they’ll go through the buyer’s journey for the information they need. This is when people begin to gravitate more toward long-tail keywords to get more specific results for a service or product they’re interested in. The right keywords will reflect what people are searching for during this journey. At first, people might search for something general, like “black turtleneck,” which would have a high search volume but is too competitive for you to rank for. Getting further into the journey, people are likely to get more specific with their searches, going for long-tail keywords such as “ribbed” or “cashmere black turtlenecks.” Eventually, they’ll narrow it down to the best ribbed black turtlenecks, the cheapest or ones that are on sale.

Intent keywords such as “best,” “cheapest” and “discount” will have a lower search volume, but the few people who are searching for them can be worth much more than a larger, less interested audience. As the searches get more and more specific with intent keywords, search volume will decrease, but the searches that a keyword does get will be more valuable. With fewer searches, you can end up having a better chance at ranking higher when people are closer to the end of their journey.

A good practice to get into is to check your organic traffic in Google Analytics regularly. See what keywords are leading people to your site, and to what pages specifically. Then check out those landing pages to see what worked to get users there. After that, maybe have a look at your low-traffic web pages that you’re hoping start to rank higher soon. Why aren’t they being found? How can you optimize them? If you can think like a human, you can likely figure out user intent from your ranking keywords. But those low-traffic pages probably aren’t addressing those intentions. Use the lessons you’ve learned about intent keywords on higher-traffic pages to fix up your pages still languishing without much traffic.

3. Use conversational language for long-tail keywords

It doesn’t matter if you’re asking Alexa to play a song or using Siri to find a place to eat, no one can deny the importance of voice searches. The ability to search verbally for something has likely made your daily life easier, but it might be causing some problems for your SEO. For years, voice searches have been making people in the SEO world feel uneasy. The fear is that they will take over consumer behavior and leave all traditionally optimized websites in the dust of the results you can get from a super-specific long-tail voice query. Of course, this isn’t necessarily true, as I have argued before here. However, as time goes on, it will be necessary for us to adjust to the changes happening in a digital community that is increasingly relying on voice searches to find websites.

The way people search for something verbally is going to have different verbiage than the way they would have had they typed it. Because of this, SEOs will have to rethink the way they choose keywords if they want to rank for voice searches.

For you to compete, you’re going to have to start using long-tail keywords. These keywords will be more conversational, as the person will actually be asking questions as they would to another person. Most voice searches are also local searches, which gives you even more of a reason to prioritize long-tail keywords with local intent. It’s important to keep in mind that you’ll have to create content that has the chance of ranking for both voice searches and traditional typed searches. Traditional searches are still going strong, so you don’t want to alienate those users to appeal only to people doing voice searches.


Long-tail keywords are a great example of the maxim that nothing should be overlooked when it comes to improving your SEO. They might not be the first thing to catch the eye of a busy SEO. But with the appropriate amount of work, long-tail keywords can give you an easy and relatively straightforward way of earning the higher ranking you’re already pursuing.

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How SEOs can master voice search now /how-seos-can-master-voice-search-now-321461 Thu, 05 Sep 2019 18:28:18 +0000 /?p=321461 Optimizing for voice search means answering questions in featured snippets, paying attention to local SEO and perfecting your mobile-friendliness.

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You already know the entry-level SEO factors you need to think about constantly to make your rockstar brand visible to your audience. You’ve covered your keyword research, content strategy, domain authority and backlink profile. It’s all solid.

But at the same time, it’s 2019, and those elements won’t always cut it in the same ways they did ten or even five years ago. As we prepare to enter the 2020s, digital marketers everywhere need to stay current with changing trends in the SEO space. In this post, I’m talking about the mostly untapped opportunity of optimizing your SEO for voice search.

You know voice search, that on-the-rise realm of online querying that’s performed with nothing more than your voice and a virtual assistant, be it Amazon Alexa, Cortana, Google Assistant or Siri. You can buy things online, set reminders for yourself and, of course, perform searches.

I don’t know anyone who denies that advanced voice search is one of the coolest pieces of technology to come out of the 21st century so far. But what does it mean for SEO going forward? Despite the now-debunked prediction that 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice in 2020, a voice technology survey from Adobe finds that 48% of consumers are using voice for “general web searches.” This is not the same as “50% of all searches,” but indicates growing usage of voice a search interface.

With that in mind, ask yourself: Is your SEO optimized for voice search? If it isn’t, you may be missing out on about a billion voice searches per month. In 2017, 13 percent of Americans owned some kind of smart assistant. This number was 16 percent by 2019 and is predicted to skyrocket to 55 percent by 2022. Let’s face it. Users like the convenience of interacting with the internet using only their voices and this should affect the way you do SEO.

With all of that said, here are four actionable tips for optimizing your SEO for voice search.

1. Think featured snippets

Voice queries that can be answered directly with a featured snippet almost always are. The Google Assistant specifically tries to do this wherever possible, reading most of the snippet aloud to the user. Position zero is a great place to be and digital marketers, of course, are already vying for that coveted spot. So how do you get to be the featured snippet for a voice search? How can you ensure that Google will read your site’s content out loud to a voice searcher?

  • First, featured snippets are not always pulled from position one. Only about 30 percent are, while the other 70 percent generally come from positions two through five. What does this tell you? It says that once you’re on page one, relevance matters more than position.
  • To become the featured snippet, your content should be optimized to answer specific questions. A large portion of featured snippets are related to recipes, health, and DIY subjects, but don’t be discouraged just because those aren’t your industries. Use SEMrush’s topic research tool or the free Answer the Public tool to generate content ideas for answering specific user questions.
  • Your content will be more likely to be featured in a snippet if it’s presented as a paragraph, list or table. If you go for the paragraph, try to keep it below 50 words, and make the sentences brief. You should also optimize the paragraph with your targeted keyword. Lists and tables are likely to get featured as well, since they’re easy to follow logically and visually. Whichever direction you go with your content, make sure it’s easy to understand and free of advanced terminology. Remember, you’re going for a large audience here, and jargony content is a huge turn-off.

Combine all of these steps – getting to page one, researching one specific query and answering that query briefly and in an easily digestible format – and you’ll be well on your way to getting your time in the spotlight with one of Google’s featured snippets.

Once you’ve done that, just imagine millions of virtual assistants presenting your page’s content as the best answer to a user question. That’s the power of voice search-optimized SEO.

2. Optimize your content for voice search

I touched on voice search-optimized content in the previous section, but content itself is important enough to merit its own section. By this point in the existence of search engines, the best way to type a query into an engine comes as pretty much second nature to most people. We know to keep our searches concise and detailed. “Italian restaurants Scranton” is a quintessential typed query.

As virtual assistants get smarter with every voice search, however, queries are becoming more conversational in nature. A person could say to Siri, “Show me the cheapest Italian restaurants in Scranton.” In response, Siri might say, “Here are the best Italian restaurants near your location.” It almost sounds like two people speaking. For that reason, optimizing content to be found by voice searchers will require you to leverage long-tail keywords such as “cheapest Italian restaurants in Scranton” rather than “Italian restaurants Scranton.”

Long-form content – as in, content with a word count above 1,800 words – is as strong in voice search as it is in traditional SEO, but it’s also a good idea to keep your sentences relatively short and not go out of control with your vocabulary. People use voice search like they talk in everyday life, so go for “reliable” over “steadfast.” You get the idea.

My final point on voice search-optimized content is, again, to use SEMrush’s topic research tool and the Answer the Public tool to find out what queries people are asking to find their way to websites like yours, and what those queries say about people’s plans at the moment. A query beginning with “what” shows someone who is looking for information, while a person with a “where” query is probably closer to acting on their intent. Use this information to your advantage when generating content for voice searches.

3. Perfect your mobile-friendliness

Most voice searches, particularly those involving some variation of “near me,” are performed on mobile devices by people on the go, people who perhaps find themselves in unfamiliar places and rely on voice searches to guide them to points of interest. It is therefore vital that you make your site as mobile-friendly as humanly possible.

If you’re lacking in the mobile-friendliness aspect, take action now. Your first job is to ensure your website has a responsive rather than an adaptive design. Responsive web pages will fit themselves to any screen, be it on a Galaxy phone or an iPad.

Then you need to work on site speed by compressing your files, using a web cache, optimizing your images, and minifying your code. It should take your mobile site no longer than five seconds to load, but aim for three to four seconds. That’s the Goldilocks zone for ensuring mobile users stay with you when they select a voice search result.

4. Focus on local SEO

Finally, you absolutely must optimize your pages for local SEO if you are, in fact, a local entity. This is because 22 percent of voice searches are related to local businesses such as restaurants.

To make sure potential customers in your area can find you, you just need to follow all the normal protocols for local SEO optimization. These include using geotargeted and “near me” search terms in your meta tags and on your landing pages. You should also create separate location pages for all your brick-and-mortar spots. Finally, be sure to claim your Google My Business page and keep your business hours, phone number and address updated and accurate. Do all this, and when users voice-search for “Show me bookstores near me,” they will find themselves face-to-face with your business.

The frequency of voice searches around the world is only going to increase in 2020 and as the decade continues. Voice search most certainly affects SEO, but there’s no need to fear. By taking the time to follow these steps, you can stay ahead of the curve and rank as well in voice results as you do in a typical typed queries. The future is coming, and it is in every SEO’s best interests to pay attention.

This article was updated on Oct. 17 with the Adobe survey notation about the ore accurate research about voice search usage predictions for 2020.

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Accelerated mobile pages: Are they worth it? /accelerated-mobile-pages-are-they-worth-it-310834 Tue, 22 Jan 2019 20:45:11 +0000 /?p=310834 An update on where Google's AMP project stands today offers insight into whether it’s worth adopting for your own website right now.

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Google’s mobile-first index has officially been unveiled and you may have received a notification from Google Search Console that some of your websites are officially being enrolled in the index.

The mobile first index takes precedence over Google’s traditional desktop index and will serve the most appropriate results based on the device being searched on.

This further incentivizes the need for webmasters to implement a fully responsive design that is personalized for users on any device.

Google has attempted to make this transition easier for webmasters by creating its open source initiative that leverages stripped down HTML files to create fast and mobile-friendly copies of webpages. These are referred to as Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP), which are distinguished by a lightning bolt symbol in mobile search results.

The choice to adopt AMP for your website should seem obvious when considering these factors:

  • Webpage speed is a ranking factor of Google’s mobile and desktop indexes
  • A 1-second delay in web page speed can decrease conversions by as much as 7 percent (Kissmetrics)
  • AMP is rumored to be a ranking factor in their mobile first index (AMP was created by Google)

Yet, many webmasters are skeptical to adopt AMP on their website. But the AMP project is still not fully developed and continues to address concerns from webmasters who have had trouble correctly implementing AMP into their website.

I’d like to provide an update on where the AMP project stands today and whether it’s worth adopting for your own website.

AMP: Where are we now?

AMP tagged pages were initially introduced to compete with Facebook’s Instant Articles and only used for news carousel results over mobile devices. Nowadays, AMP results are scattered throughout organic search results, even though you might not notice it as a user.

AMP Pages are no longer limited to news carousel results.

You might not have paid much attention to the AMP project recently. Accelerated Mobile Pages are almost three years old, and development has slowed down in some areas.

Here is a timeline of important AMP related news over the past few years:

Development of AMP for Ads and Landing Pages is not fully complete, although fast fetch rendering has made ads render faster than traditional Ads over Google, and gtag.js implementation connects AMP Ads to events in Analytics and Google Ads.

But AMP has become pretty popular across the world. AMP results are now used in the Baigu, Sogou, and Yahoo Japan. Hundreds of top publishers from around the world, including the Times of India and Slate, have adopted AMP to improve their organic search results.

Hundreds of top publishers have adopted AMP for all news and blog related content, and the number of domains that use AMP surpassed 31 million early last year.

What are Accelerated Mobile Pages?

Accelerated mobile pages (AMP) are essentially stripped down HTML copies of existing webpage content that offer faster load times than standard HTML5 documents. Websites can serve AMP pages by implementing the rel=amphtml tag into their HTML. Pages with AMP code contain a three-step AMP configuration.

  • HTML: A stripped down and unique markup of traditional HTML code with unique tags.
  • JS: Used to fetch resources and stripped down to eliminate unnecessary rendering.
  • CDN: An optimized network designed to cache pages and adapt them to AMP code immediately.

AMP also reduces the need for additional CSS requests and eliminates certain onpage eliminates, including bulky pictures, CTAs in many cases, and much more backend code. This has the effect of increasing speed greatly.

Primarily, AMP speeds up webpage load times by as much a second of total load speed by enabling AMP caching. Essentially, Google leverages this functionality by preloading AMP documents using a single iFrame in the background of a search results page so that pages appear to load instantaneously.

AMP documents can also be pulled from the AMP library directly off of its original server. The AMP library consists of a document with AMP HTML and AMP JS. Unfortunately, fetching these documents do not always provide instantaneous speed.

Here’s a snippet from an SMX panel about AMP that provides more details about what makes AMP pages so fast:

Should you adopt AMP?

While AMP caching does offer improved speeds and is probably favored by Google search results, adopting AMP for your website does come with a few caveats.

For starters, AMP only works if users click on the AMP version of a webpage, as opposed to the canonical version. Studies have shown that the AMP library can reduce the number of server requests to fetch a document by as much as 77 percent, but the AMP version is not always served if it’s not implemented correctly.

Tracking data from AMP pages over Analytics, Ads or even DoubleClick is still fairly limited, although analytics for this is growing.

Most of all, implementing AMP means sacrificing a lot of UX elements of your webpage. AMP HTML prioritizes efficiency over say, creativity. But more tangibly, not only are you missing out on rendering some images on your site, AMP pages only allow one advertisement tag per page. Also, implementing this code was incredibly difficult before the WordPress plugin.

Despite all of the fervor that the AMP project created at its launch, development has been relatively slow-paced, and users are nowhere close to even recognizing what AMP served content is on a mobile device.

So, should you implement AMP on your website? Not necessarily, but there are tangible benefits. I do think AMP is very useful for publishers and will have a major role in mobile search moving forward, but unless you have easy access to implement AMP with WordPress, you might be alright just sticking with dynamic pages served over a responsive design or mobile friendly page.

Fortunately, multiple commands allow you to customize AMP documents further to make them more amenable to your SEO strategy.

How to customize AMP pages

Using Google Search Console or your HTML, webmasters can optimize AMP code to make them more customizable and trackable.

Webmasters can update their AMP cache by using the “update-cache” request.

Here are just a few examples of how to customize your AMP HTML document.

  • amp-pixel: tracking pixel
  • amp-analytics: analytics tracking
  • amp-animation: add animations
  • amp-access: paywall access
  • amp-dynamic-CSS-classes: dynamic CSS elements
  • gtag.js tag implementation allows for events tracking across Google Ads and Search Console
  • amp-iframe: display an iframe
  • amp-access-laterpay: integrates with LaterPay
  • amp-list: download data and create a list
  • amp-live-list: update content in real time
  • amp-app-banner: fixed banner

You can get a full list here.

The future is AMP

Between skepticism of Google itself and Google’s lackluster marketing campaign for AMP, most users and webmasters were largely unaware of AMP for a while or unwilling to adopt it.

Fortunately, the rate of adoption is greatly accelerating. Consider how we mentioned that 31 million domains had adopted AMP early last year. That’s up from less than a million two years ago.

As SEO continues to move away from computer towers and onto mobile screens and other devices, the rate of adoption for AMP and other similar technologies will greatly accelerate. It’s now up to existing platforms to make this transition easier for us.

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Deciphering search intent: 5 areas to get you started /deciphering-search-intent-5-areas-to-get-you-started-305550 Wed, 19 Sep 2018 15:39:00 +0000 /?p=305550 Here are five ways to use search engine results and smart keyword research to help determine search intent for higher rankings.

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As digital marketers, we depend on search engines to properly categorize and prioritize search results based on their intention, extension, and authority. Essentially, for digital marketing to be successful, we need to trust that search engines understand what users are actually searching for and that search engines can provide the best results to meet user intent.

In the field of linguistics, words and phrases are composed of intentions and extensions. Intension denotes the semantic meaning of a word or phrase, while extensions denote the objects that this phrase can be attributed to.

For example, the intention of the word “sock” is meant to denote a piece of clothing we wear on our feet. The extension of this term could be used to identify multiple characteristics and categories of socks, including men’s socks, women’s socks, high socks, ankle socks, blue socks and more.

Categorizing and providing the proper results for this requires massive amounts of data to provide the most informed decision about a particular search. For example, if we apply homonyms to this scenario, such as the word “apple,” we can see that search engines are forced to choose and ration out its limited real estate between the brand Apple and the fruit apple.

This conundrum is not limited to broad-tail phrases, either.

Let’s take the search term “interactive dog toys” with a Google Ads search volume between 10,000 and 100,000. Maybe when you search this term, you have a specific toy in mind or an idea of what you’re looking for, but you can’t quite put it into words. There are literally thousands of extensions or types of interactive toys to choose from.

Search engines choose these results in a number of different ways, including applying sentiment analysis to content on the web, extracting data from its product listing ad (PLA) platform, and even reviewing what competitors are using as ad copy for their Google Ads bid.

But what is the intent of this search? Are people attempting to buy an interactive dog toy, or are they researching the best one before buying in a store? Maybe the answer lies in the search engines themselves.

Understanding search engines

My next point is the main point of this article: understanding search intent helps marketers better understand both users and search engines.

According to best practices, we should always write for users and not search engines. This is undisputed. But can understanding how search engines prioritize results also give us more insight into our customers? Of course!

Keywords let us know what users are searching for, but search results and click data show us what users find rewarding. In fact, many people believe that click data actively influence results, and this makes sense even if Google will not confirm it.

Google and Bing also offer different search engine result page (SERP) blocks for searches of different intent:

  • Featured snippets.
  • Answer box.
  • Local 3-pack.

We obviously know that “interactive dog toys” is a high-volume search term, but this really gives us no insight into what users want. If we look at the results of this page, we’ll see a listicle of the best dog toys, and not a product listing, is the number one result.

Of course, search engines may be splitting hairs by providing results for both transactional and informational intent, but it also shows that, more often than not, people are actually conducting research for this term.

So what is the benefit of optimizing for intent?

  • Moving the needle on organic SERP results by offering more relevant results.
  • Increasing the click-through rate (CTR) of our advertisements.
  • Facilitating more on-page conversions for people who land on our site by meeting their intent.
  • Delineating between local and national content.
  • Offering answers that can make it into the featured snippets box.

With this in mind, I would like to outline five strategies to acquire more data about search intent to improve our overall digital marketing performance.

1. Start with keyword research

Generally, keyword phrases have four forms of intent:

  1. Informational. How, what, when, where and why.
  2. Transactional. Buy and sell.
  3. Commercial. Directions, reviews, store hours.
  4. Navigational. Branded and page/URL specific.

I would suggest different tools for different forms of intent.

  • Informational. SEMrush, AskthePublic.
  • Transactional. AdWords, UberSuggest.

For organic SEO, start with a crawl of your existing site using a tool like Deep Crawl or Screaming Frog to extract a list of keywords your pages are currently ranking for.

Leverage competitor research and the tools listed above to create a list of keywords you want your site to rank for. Segment them by intent to determine what strategy should be used to create the best result for them.

For example, keywords with the terms “how,” “guide” and “tips” would obviously imply the need for an informational blog post.

Pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns will generally rely on broad-tail keywords acquired from tools, such as Google Keyword Planner, that include terms such as “buy,” “sell,” “rent” or “quote.” Segment these keywords by intent to create coordinated campaigns that target user intent on multiple levels: curiosity and purchase.

2. Extract data from SERPs

As previously stated, keyword phrases do not always easily identify intent. Use search engines to your advantage for further analysis.

Run your list of seed keywords through a Google search in Incognito mode. Be sure to clear your cache so you can receive unbiased search results. Analyzing the results for similar keyword groups can help you understand why certain pages are outranking others. It will also show you what search engines deem most relevant to search intent.

For greater contextual clues of what users are looking for, consider consulting these resources:

  • Google’s recommended searches.
  • Google Answer Box.
  • Google and Bing’s autofill search function.

These contextual clues will point you to popular searches within a given industry and help you determine what topics are most relevant to a given query. With this information in mind, you can analyze these keywords to see whether users are looking to make a purchase or conduct more research.

Brand heavy and mostly transactional

A mix of informational and transactional keywords

3. Assessing the funnel

With this in mind, you should also look at your existing channels to optimize content to better match intent.

Log into Google Search Console (GSC) and filter by pages to check the CTR of your top-ranking URLs that are generating impressions. This figure will provide insight into whether or not your URL, title tag and meta description are meeting user intent for a given search.

I’d argue this also makes the case for including exact match keywords in your rich snippets in order to match intent.

  1. Exact match keyword terms are bolded by Google.
  2. Users actively search for these keyword terms or phrases in rich snippets.
  3. Dynamic SERPs will pull sentences from your content that features these exact match keyword terms.

When seeing pages that aren’t generating any impressions, you’ll need to go back and either update your keyword strategy or leverage competitive analysis to see how competitors are meeting that intent. Sometimes it just takes gathering some clicks from link building and paid social campaigns to show Google and Bing your pages are authoritative and relevant to search queries.

You should also evaluate your user behavior flow in Google and Bing analytics to see what elements of your site users are engaging with after landing on it. Are your internal links adding contextual information that satisfies additional intent? Is your landing page nurturing intent to facilitate conversions?

Analyze session times, bounce rates and your tracking code to implement conversion optimization strategies that meet the intent and result in some revenue for your business.

In your analytics, you’ll notice that sales pages should generally gather greater clicks for broad-tail searches, as well as more conversions. On the flip side, informational content pages should gather more clicks for long-tail queries and have longer session times, with sometimes higher bounce rates.

4. Monitor competitors’ Google Ads bids

On the paid side, use tools like SEMrush and SpyFu to see what keywords competitors are bidding on to find insight on what competitors deem most relevant for their campaigns.

Analyze ad copy and landing pages to see how keywords are implemented in titles, descriptions and CTAs. Leverage these keywords to fuel your campaign and experiment with split testing to see which campaigns are generating the best results. It makes sense that ad copy that matches intent generates more conversions and doesn’t waste ad spend.

5. Optimize for natural language searches

Finally, if you want to understand the intent behind searches better, you can also look toward the users themselves. Look at the language people use when conducting voice searches or typing out phrases of their own on forums and social media posts.

Create surveys and pose questions on social media to extract this information. Just engage with your customers to identify the intent behind the terms and jargon they use. You understand your customers better than anyone else, so you should be able to identify the intent behind most searches.

To help out, I’d suggest optimizing your on-site content to answer as many user questions as possible, whether it’s for a paid listing or informative blog post. This will make your content more relevant for users and search engines no matter its intent.

Go optimize!

We use keywords for virtually every aspect of digital marketing. Until recently, neural networks and deep learning were not available to help search engines understand the semantic meaning and intent behind user searches. They simply had to use links and exact match keywords to hope that their results were relevant enough for users.

As search engines become more sophisticated, I’d argue it’s easier for digital marketers to optimize for the best results. The data is clear in the keywords and search engine results.

The post Deciphering search intent: 5 areas to get you started appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Parsing pages: Is it better to update or remove thin content? /parsing-pages-is-it-better-to-update-or-remove-thin-content-300879 Mon, 25 Jun 2018 19:37:00 +0000 /?p=300879 There are three basic strategies for dealing with thin content: update, redirect or noindex. Contributor Kristopher Jones looks at each and says to always keep the purpose of the content in mind when making any change.

The post Parsing pages: Is it better to update or remove thin content? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Some people look at the changes Google makes to its algorithm as adding new rules and penalties, but most of the time, the company is just reshaping the existing order.

The Panda algorithm of 2011 introduced a new structure to Google’s ranking factors and was implemented to keep poor-quality content from ranking well. Panda had a seismic effect on our industry and changed how the search engine optimization (SEO) and search engine marketing (SEM) industries approach content creation. Under the new algorithm, not only did thin content devalue a web page’s value, but it also devalued the quality of your domain as a whole.

In general, parsing pages should be taken case by case to evaluate different strategies that would fully utilize the value of each individual page.

There are three basic strategies for dealing with thin content: You can update or redirect it or use a noindex tag on the web page you don’t want in the search index. There are advantages to each strategy, although your decision should depend on the purpose and equity of the content itself.

Ask Google engineers whether it’s better to keep thin content, update it or remove it entirely and you’ll receive a couple of different answers. Here is Google Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller saying to noindex thin content:

Considerations for updating content

Depending on the size of your site or blog, you may have hundreds of thin or outdated posts that need to be optimized. We define thin and outdated content as:

  • Articles/posts with less than 400 words.
  • No keyword focus.
  • Unoptimized for best SEO best practices (stuffing keywords, spammy link profile and so on).
  • Outdated material/content.
  • Duplicate content.

Not all people consider thin or outdated content to be “bad.” There are a lot of situations where it can be adding value to a website. For example, if someone had an old blog post titled “Best practices for web design” that is still a significant source of backlinks and traffic, they may not want to change the post for fear of losing the traffic.

The key question here is “How old?” If that post was written in 2012, there is a high likelihood the pages currently serve no purpose to the end user; too much has changed in the web design community.

In this case, consulting the data is important, such as traffic flow, backlinks and keyword rank, but over time, poor user signals will erode the value of this web page in Google’s eyes. No one looking for web design information today is interested in content from 2012.

When deciding between removing or updating existing content, ask yourself these questions:

  • What role does the page play in the buyer’s journey today?
  • Is this page still relevant to my industry or business offering?
  • Do I still receive traffic or engagement from this web page?

In highly technical verticals, such as the medical, accounting or legal field, content needs to be updated regularly to comply with current regulations.

With all this in mind, let’s look at which situations may require removing or updating thin content on your site.

Redirecting or removing content

There are many reasons you would consider removing content altogether, such as if it was duplicated or user-generated. But there are additional reasons to consider removing content before replacing it:

  • Content doesn’t align with current product mix.
  • Location pages don’t reflect current business locations.
  • Evergreen content does not reflect current industry trends or best practices.
  • Topical content is outdated and no longer current.
  • Content does not comply with current regulations.

Aside from this, you may consider updating or replacing content that doesn’t provide value for your customers and has a high bounce rate.

I do not recommend inserting a 404 gateway on a web page with any keyword ranking and would instead recommend a 301 redirect to a relevant web page to retain its equity. For all duplicate or outdated web pages, inserting a noindex tag is a good way to prevent disrupting your internal navigation, while also removing it from search results.

If a web page still receives some positive metrics, but it ultimately doesn’t conform to your current product mix or industry trends, consider placing a 301 redirect to a relevant source that would add value. This strategy should be followed for outdated product pages, as well as outdated legal pages.

Instance to update content

On the other hand, there are probably some blog posts and old pieces of content that could still add value to your SEO if properly optimized. This presents many advantages over creating a new piece of content:

  • Less labor-intensive.
  • Already contains backlinks and equity.
  • Could increase in keyword rank.
  • Maintains the size of your website, increasing your indexation rate.

Even scheduling your content management system (CMS) to update your posts to make them appear fresher in search results could increase keyword rankings. You could also consider updating all headlines, meta descriptions and available snippets to increase the post’s click-through rate (CTR) and relevance to specific keywords.

Consider repurposing old content and updating it with multimedia content. Consider creating an infographic or video to support a piece of thin content and share over the social networks and through your email channels.

A smart strategy is to update and rewrite content when you can. As an investment, you don’t want to remove web pages you took the time to create but if it makes sense and adds to your brand, I would do it.

Audit content regularly

Parsing pages is a difficult task. One bad 301 or 302 redirect could present grave problems for your user experience (UX) and internal navigation.

To resolve issues of content becoming outdated, it’s important to schedule an annual content audit that goes through each web page to evaluate performance and its relevance to your current website focus. Use tools like Screaming Frog and Moz to help you go page by page to analyze where thin and underperforming content exists.

Regular audits could be a first step in finding new opportunities to reach your customers and provide more value.

The post Parsing pages: Is it better to update or remove thin content? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Is responsive web design enough? (Hint: No) /is-responsive-web-design-enough-hint-no-297150 Mon, 30 Apr 2018 20:33:00 +0000 /?p=297150 Contributor Kris Jones explains why having a responsive web design is a great first step but combining AMP with a PWA design is better.

The post Is responsive web design enough? (Hint: No) appeared first on Search Engine Land.


As mobile-first indexing nears, the need to optimize for mobile has never felt so pressing.

Even in its current iteration, mobile search is incredibly important for advertisers and businesses of all sizes. Consider these statistics:

  • According to BrightEdge, 69 percent of mobile searchers stated they were more likely to buy from a brand with a mobile site that addressed their concerns.

Now, with mobile web design, speed takes precedence over almost any other ranking factor. Unfortunately, I’m not sure if half of the web is seriously optimized for mobile search.

According to Think with Google, 70 percent of mobile web pages take 7 seconds to load visual content above and below the fold.

Common mobile site errors include:

  • Blocked JavaScript and cascading style sheets (CSS) files.
  • Failed redirects.
  • Poor graphical interfaces (e.g., tiny text and poor image pixelation).
  • Clunky search functions.
  • Obtrusive interstitials.

Fixing many of these issues requires investing in a responsive content management system (CMS) and the right configuration for your mobile site.

Yet many questions remain as to what configuration truly works best for your website. Responsive web design has dominated the industry as the preferred configuration, but as the mobile web becomes more competitive, should the industry move on?

Is responsive web design enough?

Now, creating a standalone mobile website is good from the end-user perspective, but it severely diminishes your website’s equity from a search engine optimization (SEO) perspective.

Beyond this, mobile domains can be a costly investment and even more costly to maintain.

My digital marketing firm uses responsive web design (RWD), as well as accelerated mobile pages (AMP) to create a truly mobile-friendly website for our clients. But we must remember that responsive web design was not designed for speed, it was designed for designers.

Chances are your CMS has a responsive web design plug-in.

RWD web pages take advantage of fluid grids to render images and on-page elements in proportion to their device. For technical teams, this presents clear advantages to mobile design, including:

  • Responsive handling of on-page layout for different devices.
  • Retaining all content on a single uniform resource locator (URL), as opposed to an m. domain.
  • More cost-effective than creating a standalone mobile site.
  • Sites can be accessed offline using hypertext markup language 5 (HTML5).

While RWD does have its advantages, it was mostly created as a low-cost way to optimize websites for mobile search devices. It was also a way to complete this with little effort as possible.

Problems with RWD websites still persist:

  • Slow loading speeds: above 10 seconds without proper onsite optimization
  • Designers still need to optimize for touch, as opposed to scroll-and-click interfaces
  • Data visualizations need to be optimized for small screens (i.e., charts and graphs)

So, why is this important? While RWD is an effective solution for small businesses and publishers on a budget, many established businesses are already making the switch to higher-speed configurations, such as accelerated mobile pages and progressive web applications (PWA).

Is AMP the answer or a red herring?

AMP represents Google’s big push to speed up the internet, but is it only on its terms?

As a quick primer, AMP is essentially an HTML framework that works the same as a content delivery network, serving stripped-down versions of web pages to increase page speeds. AMP is ideal for publishers who serve news articles and blog posts. It’s very similar to Facebook’s Instant Articles format.

AMP is currently being employed by multiple search engines, and even AdWords ads. Using the “Fast Fetch” tag, AMP continues to become faster and easier to implement.

According to Google, over 900,000 domains have already adopted AMP, and that number continues to grow.

In fact, numerous publishers have reported astounding success after switching to AMP:

Google has also made it no secret that it prioritizes AMP web pages for its mobile news carousels.

Mobile web speed obviously has a huge impact on the user experience and your conversion rate.

Using Google’s cache, web pages with AMP load 2x faster at one-tenth the latency of traditional web pages. But herein lies the issue with AMP.

While we’d consider faster loading speeds as contributing to more valued user experience, it’s the sacrifice that AMP needs to undergo that has severely limited its digital marketing value and adoption.

Since AMP is loaded using Google’s cache and served as a different version of the original document, clicks are hard to track since they technically don’t occur on the publisher’s website. This has a significant effect on engagement. By serving a watered-down version of a web page, AMP is great for serving informative blog posts, but there’s an obvious disconnect between the initial click and further engagement with the site.

This means that publishers and e-commerce stores must theoretically offer two different versions of their offerings. AMP is essentially search-result ad copy.

As a side note, another thing affecting AMP’s adoption is Google’s failure to communicate with its customers.

Ask the average web user what an AMP article is or if they could recognize one, and you’ll probably receive a blank stare. Ironically, Google is doing a disservice to its own user experience by not properly communicating the importance and advantages of AMP to individual users. Instead, it’s relied on publishers to make the switch of their own volition.

Does this mean that AMP is a red herring that should be ignored? Not exactly, and it all depends on your website. Unfortunately, there’s another configuration that threatens RWDs hegemony and AMP’s burgeoning adoption.

What about progressive web apps?

You may be familiar with PWAs, although very few sites actually leverage this genius technology.

PWAs are websites that act like an app in every way but don’t require a download.

PWAs are accessed through the web browser and utilize Javascript or CSS, along with HTML, to create nearly instantaneous load speeds. Leveraging their universal resource identifiers (URI), PWAs are linkable when bookmarked or shared by a web user.

The main advantages of PWAs include:

  • Ability to work offline.
  • Universal access on all devices and web browsers.
  • Comparable load speeds with AMP.
  •  Faster transitions between web pages and navigation than traditional mobile domains.
  •  Native app-like interfaces.
  •  Indexable and linkable.
  • Ability to send push notifications.

Primarily, PWAs are used by e-commerce stores to create faster checkout times and a better end-user experience. PWAs can increase engagement on your site and increase conversions through their ability to leverage offline resources and push notifications to continually communicate with users.

But there are also drawbacks to PWAs. It’s a rather costly investment and incredibly difficult to implement, meaning you’ll probably have to hire a professional web designer to do so.

A larger concern would be: why not just invest in an app? Users visit hundreds of websites weekly and have numerous apps stored on their phone. Their primary demand, above all else, is fast loading speeds, which AMP provides.

With this in mind, which mobile configuration is best for your website, as we embark on the mobile-first era?

Which mobile configuration is best?

AMP is ideal for publishers who only seek to drive more traffic to their blog or publication. Many website owners have struggled to implement AMP because many CMS’s still don’t have a plug-in available. Even still, with Google’s new mobile “AMP Stories,” WordPress and many notable CMS’s struggled to properly implement AMP.

On the other hand, PWAs work across all browsers, and progressive enhancements have made them secure from viruses and unwanted content.

In terms of speed, PWAs and AMPs both have nearly instantaneous load times. The biggest difference here is the speed of navigation that comes from PWAs, as all web pages will be hosted in this format, unlike AMP.

From a ranking perspective, AMP may be a ranking signal (no one knows yet), but if PWAs host nearly identical loading speeds, I don’t see AMP as possessing a clear advantage over PWAs.

From a web design perspective, AMP is a nightmare, as it strips away many of the graphical and user interface elements of the native design. On other hand, PWAs are able to render and serve all of your design elements in an app-like display, which makes them more user-friendly.

After switching a hypertext transfer protocol secure (HTTPS) PWA, AliExpress improved its conversion rate by 104 percent across all browsers.

Finally, PWAs are responsive to different browsers and can react to user permissions to create a smooth checkout experience.

In the end, the best solution is to combine both for a truly fast, homogenous experience. Major brands, such as The Washington Post, have already done this. With the greater search visibility and speed of AMP articles and the app-like interface of PWAs, combining both could significantly increase your user signals and offer a better experience for users.


The need to go mobile cannot be overstated, although we’re already past beating the dead horse. Responsive web design is a great first step, but I don’t believe it goes far enough for businesses competing in a competitive niche. This is especially true for publishers.

For e-commerce platforms, combining AMP with a PWA design truly offers the best mobile configuration available today. All I can say is, make the switch to a mobile-friendly website before it’s too late.

The post Is responsive web design enough? (Hint: No) appeared first on Search Engine Land.

7 ways to increase mobile engagement /7-ways-to-increase-mobile-engagement-295306 Mon, 02 Apr 2018 14:15:00 +0000 /?p=295306 The mobile search economy continues to explode. Contributor Kristopher Jones outlines several messaging and alternative marketing strategies to improve your mobile conversion rates.

The post 7 ways to increase mobile engagement appeared first on Search Engine Land.


Mobile users have traditionally been surfers rather than shoppers. According to one study from Monetate, mobile conversion rates are still less than half of desktop conversion rates.

Source: Monetate EQ4 2017

Yet, though there’s an opportunity for e-commerce websites to increase their online sales through mobile, barriers do exist. Mobile checkout is less convenient than it is on desktop, and a majority of mobile consumption occurs in apps rather than websites.

Source: Nielsen Insights

With the mobile-first index finally arriving and voice search continuing to climb in popularity, now is the time to re-optimize your mobile e-commerce strategy to improve your bottom line. Let’s explore some ways you can improve your mobile conversion rate.

Prioritize speed

Google recently announced that mobile page speed would become a ranking factor in July of 2018. Page speed is essential to your user experience and bounce rate.

According to Kissmetrics, a one-second delay in page speed could decrease your conversion rate by 7 percent.

DoubleClick even released a report that found that 53 percent of users will bounce from a mobile site that takes more than three seconds to load.

The first step to improving your mobile page speed is to implement a mobile-optimized web design. This could include creating a separate mobile domain, responsive web design (RWD), a progressive web app (PWA) or Google AMP code.

But implementing responsive web design is not enough. According to Kissmetrics, pages with RWD still take anywhere from six to 18 seconds to load, on average.

Here are some easy steps to reduce your mobile page speed:

  • Minify JavaScript and cascading style sheets (CSS).
  • Enable caching.
  • Implement accelerated mobile pages (AMP) code.
  • Optimize images to smaller pixels and the .jpeg format.
  • Reduce server response time.
  • Reduce navigation and redirects — leverage the long scroll.
  • Load above-the-fold content before below-the-fold content.
  • Eliminate pop-up ads.
  • Enable gzip compression on CSS and Hypert Text Markup Language (HTML) files.

Be sure to regularly test your page speed to uncover whether any new content or changes to your site have slowed down your site. Google’s Page Speed Insights will provide you with a page load-out time, which will help you determine whether any further investigation is warranted.

Improve checkout

One of the main reasons people avoid making purchases over mobile is because the checkout process can be quite cumbersome. Besides having to type in credit card information using public WiFi with tiny keys, navigation becomes a huge issue.

One way to route these barriers is to provide customers with the option to switch devices. Technically, this will not increase your mobile conversion rate, although you can chalk it up to your mobile efforts in attribution.

Another way to encourage payments over your mobile website is to integrate payment services which are trusted and secure, such as PayPal.

Primarily, you should attempt to limit the number of clicks it takes to reach checkout. This is one of the advantages of a mobile landing page. For your home website, a checkout should contain payment information, address and so on, all on one page, and make checkout and taps-to-action as painless as possible.

Scale down content and images

First things first: Optimize your content management system (CMS) to serve specific content for mobile users.

This doesn’t entail writing entirely new content; it requires adjusting meta tags and content length for mobile consumption.

Write shorter headlines that are more likely to attract user attention through their social news feed or on a mobile search engine results page (SERP).

Provide clear call-to-action (CTA) phrases that are shorter, and leverage more power words. For example, here is an interesting experiment The New York Times ran to test different headlines for mobile and desktop users:

One way to organize content on your website is by using modular design. Essentially, modules are different pieces of your website, such as blog content, shopping carts, that can be selectively placed on different parts of a webpage.

Modules are easier to maintain and adjust than templates. Many websites make use of the card-based modular design, the most notable being Pinterest.

Optimize messaging for mobile

Do your research on consumer behavior and habits over mobile. Mobile devices are much more than a device for shopping or Googling information to outsmart your friend; they’re part of many people’s identity.

Segment your content by channel and the format that you produce it on. When you do, keep in mind that half of all video views are seen on mobile devices.

You also need to adjust your text ads for mobile to acquire more clicks.

Source: Wordstream

Provide compelling benefits with simple descriptions. Most people don’t even scroll through mobile results, so you already have a huge competitive advantage over other search and ad listings.

Calls to action with tactile reactions

It’s imperative that you include a call to action above the fold of your mobile webpage. I’d also consider expanding the size of the button in order to make it more visible to customers.

But it’s equally important to provide visual responses to each completed action on your website. Mobile users may think your website or their smartphone is not working correctly if you don’t provide a tactile response to a click or action.

Consider providing a rewarding microinteraction (a visual response a user sees after performing certain actions) to improve your mobile user experience; just don’t let the microinteraction affect page speed.

Take mobile offline

According to research from Deloitte, digital interactions influence 56 cents of every dollar spent in brick-and-mortar establishments, and a whopping 93 percent of Americans use their smartphones while shopping.

This provides a prime opportunity to connect with prospective customers in your store to improve service. This could include setting up scannable quick response (QR) codes for products, offering customers the ability to calculate savings, or even providing advertisements to customers in your store for discounted products. This serves as a great opportunity to significantly extend your brand in the eyes of your customers.

Remarket with SMS and push notifications

Finally, use mobile device capabilities to remarket to customers through push notifications and short message service (SMS) messages.

Use push notifications to advertise time-limited promotions to people every so often. This can even be used to drive ads to people if they’re near your business, using location-based tracking.

To truly elevate your potential to convert leads, leverage urgency and fear of missing out (FOMO) within your notifications. This could include time-sensitive promotions or buy one, get one (BOGO) free offers.


The mobile search economy continues to grow and take over search. Unfortunately, mobile search and advertising are fairly limited by the devices themselves. This means you need to re-optimize your strategy using different messaging and alternative marketing strategies to improve your conversion rate.

The post 7 ways to increase mobile engagement appeared first on Search Engine Land.

7 marketing and promotion tactics to get your content discovered /7-marketing-and-promotion-tactics-to-get-your-content-discovered-293734 Fri, 09 Mar 2018 19:46:10 +0000 /?p=293734 Contributor Kristopher Jones outlines seven tried-and-true content promotion strategies that will drive traffic to your content and website.

The post 7 marketing and promotion tactics to get your content discovered appeared first on Search Engine Land.

content promotion

It’s no secret a well-executed content marketing campaign can deliver a solid return on investment.

According to Demand Metric, content marketing generates three times more leads than most outbound marketing strategies at 62 percent less cost.

As marketers pad their budgets with more money to invest in content marketing this year, one strategy that often gets overlooked is content promotion.

According to a survey by the Content Marketing Institute, 55 percent of B2B marketers were not even sure what a successful content marketing campaign looked like!

Content without promotion is like link building without links or creating a landing page without a call to action. That’s why promotion should take equal focus with creation.

Let’s look at seven tried-and-true content promotion strategies that will drive traffic to your content and website.

1. Paid social promotion

Paid social promotion can be one of the most precise strategies available to market your content to people who are interested in and most likely to engage with your content.

For example, by using Facebook’s Audience Insights, businesses can segment audience lists by select boundaries, such as demographics, psychographics and intent. This allows marketers to create audience segments that are more in line with their brand and specific topics of content on their website.  There are several benefits of paid social promotion:

  • Increase website traffic with relevant visitors.
  • Generate more conversions by marketing to people with high purchasing intent.
  • Familiarize users with your brand.

Even advertising content over native or display ads can help to increase brand recall for customers who come across your website in future searches. Only now, they’ll think of your brand as a bit of an authority because they’re already familiar with your brand.

Paying to promote your content over advertising channels is a good way to cut through the noise and the competition.

Paid promotion is also an excellent strategy to target users who have interacted with your website or blog in the past month. Remarketing not only increases your chance of reclaiming a missed conversion, but it also helps to foster brand loyalty by providing them useful content based on their past consumption.

Before undergoing a paid promotion strategy, it’s key to have your goals outlined. These can include increasing readership for your content or generating more conversions on your website. With these in mind, you can quantify the impact of these strategies and assess their success.

2. Targeted sharing

Facebook is no longer the business to consumer (B2C) marketing giant it once was; after its last algorithm update, it limited organic reach for business posts on the platform.

One way to reach more people over social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram is through targeted sharing.

Targeted sharing is essentially tagging someone in a post in hopes that they will share your content with their audience. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Link to people in the snippet who would be interested in your article.
  • Link to sources featured in the article directly in the snippet.
  • Directly engage industry peers with a question or point of debate in the snippet to curate conversation over a topic.

Twitter’s advanced search tool allows you to find people in your niche who are close to you geographically, using certain hashtags and more:

Instagram recently introduced a “follow” hashtag that allows users to view content in their newsfeed using a certain hashtag. This has opened up an entirely new platform for businesses to reach more customers over Instagram who are already interested in your industry.

3. Use videos over social media

Another proven method to cut through the noise on social media channels is to include videos in your content.

The statistics around video marketing are truly staggering:

  • Google states that half of internet users “search for a video related to a product or service before visiting a store.”
  • Views on sponsored videos on Facebook increased 258 percent between June 2016 and June 2017.

From my experience, including a video on a landing page can significantly increase your conversion rate. In my opinion, the demand for video content over social media far outpaces the demand for written content.

Video can also be more engaging than written content. A compounding or viral video is the definition of a gift that keeps on giving.

Of course, there’s always a caveat. Hosting a long, informative video on your content can discourage click-throughs to your landing page, especially if it’s used to promote written content. I suggest posting a teaser video, an eye-catching image or a graphics interchange format (GIF) in your content to entice users to navigate to the landing page.

4. Influencer marketing

I believe influencer marketing is one of the most underutilized tools in our industry.

Influencer marketing is powerful in theory. Not only will influencer shares expose your content to a new audience, it confers credibility in the eyes of that audience.

According to a study from MuseFind, 92 percent of people trust influencers more than advertisements or celebrities.

There are many ways to approach this strategy: You can reach out to influencers directly in your industry to share your content or engage in a promotion partnership.

Consider using tools like Followerwonk and Intellifluence to find active influencers in your industry to reach out to.

You can also mention an influencer within your content or link to them in a social media snippet to attract their attention. This increases the likelihood that they will share your content to promote their own brand. In turn, this increases your content’s quantity of shares and link opportunities.

5. Content syndication

Content syndication is not new to search engine optimization (SEO), but it’s not often the focus of many content marketing strategies. Content syndication is a great strategy to instantly expand your audience reach with little effort.

Do your research before identifying a site for syndication. Ask about their analytics to see what their visitor traffic is like and monitor keywords to identify the topics of discussion being held.

If you decide to syndicate content on sites like LinkedIn, Medium or community forums, it’s best to be picky. Only share your best content.

If you do participate in a content community, understand that half of your responsibility is also sharing other people’s content to remain an active member. This will help establish relationships across your industry for potential link opportunities and shares.

6. Link building

Link building remains one of Google’s three most important ranking factors when determining organic rank. It is a good idea to increase your content’s reach and visibility by improving its organic backlink signals.

It’s important to remember that link building needs to be strategic when promoting a specific webpage. I wouldn’t put a lot of effort into building links to a topical blog post, evergreen content or webpages that serve a valuable function in your website’s information and sales funnel.

Here are just a few basic link-building strategies to promote content to a wider audience:

  • Guest post on authoritative publications with a contextual link back to your content.
  • Engage in broken link building using manual outreach to offer more value to existing content.
  • Email industry thought leaders about a piece of your content that would be valuable to their future research.

Ironically, the best link-building strategy out there is to craft high-quality content that people organically link back to on their own. Of course, this requires promotion for people to find this content in the first place, but hopefully, you’ll get some ideas from this post to help with that.

7. Personalized email marketing

Email marketing is a great way to market to customers who are already interested in your brand. Email marketing has the benefit of increasing customer retention while also delivering shares and links right to your content.

Not everyone on your email marketing list will jump at the chance to read your next blog post. Here are some basic strategies to increase email engagement:

  • Design an e-newsletter to promote recent posts to your blog or showcase your most viral content for the month.
  • Segment subscriber lists based on their interaction with your site.
  • Personalize emails to include the name of the recipient, as well as pertinent information related to their engagement on your site.
  • Include interactive content, such as a fun GIF or video, to make emails stand out and warm up subscribers to future emails.
  • Conduct split testing on headlines and messages and measure their impact.

Final thoughts

Content marketing has taken on a life of its own as a buzzword in our industry. With reduced organic reach over both search and many social channels, it’s never been more important to focus on promotion strategies that cut through the noise and get content discovered.

The post 7 marketing and promotion tactics to get your content discovered appeared first on Search Engine Land.

How to create content to support local SEO and rock the rankings /create-content-support-local-seo-rock-local-rankings-290638 Mon, 05 Feb 2018 17:50:46 +0000 /?p=290638 Are you looking for ways to increase your organic visibility and rankings in local search results?  Contributor Kristopher Jones shares how to shine in local search results using locally focused content.

The post How to create content to support local SEO and rock the rankings appeared first on Search Engine Land.


The rise of mobile search has led to many changes in SEO, but none more dramatic than the area of local search.

By now, most of us are familiar with the Google update known as Pigeon. Launched in 2014, it allowed greater search visibility for local directories, which helped local search engine optimization (SEO) establish a foothold. With mobile usage surpassing desktop and Google reporting more than one-third of mobile searches local related, it’s no wonder local SEO has become an important part of an SEO’s overall strategy.

Competing for local SEO is quite difficult considering the shrinking real estate of local results in search engine results (SERPS), especially over mobile devices. What strategies should we use to increase our organic visibility and rankings in local search results? Here are four to consider:

  1. Claim all local name, address and phone number (NAP) citations and listings you can in local directories, and be sure they are consistent across all listings.
  2. Claim your Google My Business Page and Bing Places For Business and fill each with relevant information and local keywords to get spotted in a local search. Doing so helps your business show up in search results plus Google and Bing Maps.
  3. Improve local ratings and reviews to rise above the local search pack by fully optimizing your webpages and completing all information fields in Google My Business.
  4. Produce local content to rank for long-tail keywords and below-the-fold results.

For the purpose of this article, we’re going to focus on producing and optimizing local content since it is one of the best ways to boost your visibility and rankings in local search results.

Optimizing content for Local SEO

Local SEO is a great strategy for small businesses and service industries that primarily market in a set geographic area. By focusing content on local keywords and intent, you effectively narrow the competition and your reach to your target audience. Smart!

The two most important steps to optimizing your website for local intent are making your website mobile-friendly and localizing your schema markup.

A survey sponsored in part by Microsoft (download required) found only 17 percent of marketers incorporated schema markup in their websites. Adding structured data to your website communicates the focus of your content and the geographic area of your business to search engines. While this does not directly improve rankings, it makes your webpages highly relevant to local keywords you are targeting. This is also helpful for ranking in local search packs.

When producing content for local intent, it’s key to insert local keywords into title and meta description tags for local ranking. Your content will often focus on long-tail keywords to delineate your site topically and geographically. For example, overarching webpages may include “Seattle SEO Firm,” while a blog post could include “Best SEO Firms in Seattle.”

The insertion of Seattle in both pages, while necessary for the second, will help Google index your content for Seattle and SEO-related searches. It’s also recommended to insert geographic keywords as close to the beginning of the tag as possible so it’s not truncated in search results.

For businesses with multiple locations, this becomes necessary, as they often have the same location pages for separate locations. Beyond updating NAP information, consider adding relevant information such as local landmarks nearby and testimonials from local businesses you’ve served.

Local content ideas

Localized content is a great way to capture a niche not many people are tackling. Aside from local news stations and influencers, most websites don’t focus on localized content, aside from real estate and travel websites like TripAdvisor and Movoto.

Before producing localized content for your area, conduct some research to identify your target audience. The best way to do this is by taking advantage of being local and interviewing customers face-to-face. 

Using search terms and criteria from your face-to-face meetings, conduct an extensive audience analysis using Facebook’s Audience Insights. This will help you identify the demographics and psychographics of your audience and help you curate content that appeals to them.

You can also use Google’s Keyword Planner to measure search volumes for select keywords based on insights provided from face-to-face interviews and your own local keyword tactics. This will help you find target audience members you haven’t reached yet.

You should also consult your analytics to audit your current traffic data and website performance. Are people reaching you through direct traffic, social or search? What keywords are they using in search? This is crucial, not only for selecting topics for local content creation but also for finding the best channels to publish and promote.

One thing to keep in mind is that local content isn’t simply a blog post. Local content marketing incorporates a number of different strategies, including sharing user-generated content, optimizing landing pages with local images and descriptions and optimizing online reviews.

For blog posts or landing pages, there are a number of content ideas you can pursue for this strategy, including:

  • Local event write-up.
  • Piggybacking local news stories.
  • Content centered on your business.
  • Content centered on your industry and unique to your area, such as “How Seattle’s Minimum Wage Laws Affect Retailers.”
  • Answering local questions, such as “What are the Best Places to Shop in Washington, D.C.?”
  • Generating local media coverage.

You can also become active in your community to inspire ideas for local content so you can report firsthand and be authentic in your writing. Ideas include:

  • Hosting local events.
  • Attending local events.
  • Sponsoring local events.
  • Guest posting on local blogs.
  • Guest lectures at universities or local schools.

Beyond merely creating local content to rank in a search engine, the main idea is also to position your brand as a local community leader. That is why it’s important to strategically position, publish and promote content on different channels. Social should be the primary channel, but high-ranking local landing pages will also provide a good opportunity for listicles and valuable local information. Blogs should be reserved for more topical content, such as local news events.

Local link building

Local SEO also presents a valuable opportunity to create linkable assets, focused on local research and statistics. For example, many real estate companies benefit from listing local housing statistics on their websites. This creates a prime opportunity for bloggers and local media to reference these statistics.

This isn’t necessarily reserved for housing and travel verticals. Heating companies could list energy pricing statistics for their geographic area, and law firms could write detailed mockups of changing laws in their city.

Local link building already aligns with current SEO strategies:

  • Acquiring directory links and mentions.
  • Inserting landing page links into relevant citations.
  • Acquiring local media coverage.
  • Local guest blogging.

All of the content strategies I have listed — from hosting an event to giving guest lectures — all present opportunities to build more links. Depending on your geographic location, you can always apply to become a guest columnist for national publications with local and metro sections.

Local SEO is an untapped opportunity

When we think of local SEO, we often think of just the basics, acquiring local directory links and registering for Google My Business. While these are important, local SEO has many more advantages over broad SEO, especially with the continued rise of mobile search.

The post How to create content to support local SEO and rock the rankings appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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