Our Readership: Results of the 2017 Moz Blog Reader Survey

Posted by Trevor-Klein

This blog is for all of you. In a notoriously opaque and confusing industry that’s prone to frequent changes, we see immense benefit in helping all of you stay on top of the game. To that end, every couple of years we ask for a report card of sorts, hoping not only to get a sense for how your jobs have changed, but also to get a sense for how we can improve.

About a month ago, we asked you all to take a reader survey, and nearly 600 of you generously gave your time. The results, summarized in this post, were immensely helpful, and were a reminder of how lucky we are to have such a thoughtful community of readers.

I’ve offered as much data as I can, and when possible, I’ve also trended responses against the same questions from our 2015 and 2013 surveys, so you can get a sense for how things have changed. There’s a lot here, so buckle up. =)


Who our readers are

To put all of this great feedback into context, it helps to know a bit about who the people in our audience actually are. Sure, we can glean a bit of information from our site analytics, and can make some educated guesses, but neither of those can answer the questions we’re most curious about. What’s your day-to-day work like, and how much SEO does it really involve? Would you consider yourself more of an SEO beginner, or more of an SEO wizard? And, most importantly, what challenges are you facing in your work these days? The answers give us a fuller understanding of where the rest of your feedback comes from.

What is your job title?

Readers of the Moz Blog have a multitude of backgrounds, from CEOs of agencies to in-the-weeds SEOs of all skill levels. One of the most common themes we see, though, is a skew toward the more general marketing industry. I know that word clouds have their faults, but it’s still a relatively interesting way to gauge how often things appear in a list like this, so here’s what we’ve got this year:

Of note, similar to our results in 2015, the word “marketing” is the most common result, followed by the word “SEO” and the word “manager.”

Here’s a look at the top 20 terms used in this year’s results, along with the percentage of responses containing each term. You’ll also see those same percentages from the 2015 and 2013 surveys to give you an idea of what’s changed — the darker the bar, the more recent the survey:

The thing that surprises me the most about this list is how little it’s changed in the four-plus years since we first asked the question (a theme you’ll see recur in the rest of these results). In fact, the top 20 terms this year are nearly identical to the top 20 terms four years ago, with only a few things sliding up or down a few spots.

What percentage of your day-to-day work involves SEO?

We hear a lot about people wearing multiple hats for their companies. One person who took this survey noted that even at a 9,000-person company, they were the only one who worked on SEO, and it was only about 80% of their job. That idea is backed up by this data, which shows an incredibly broad range of responses. More than 10% of respondents barely touch SEO, and not even 14% say they’re full-time:

One interesting thing to note is the sharp decline in the number of people who say that SEO isn’t a part of their day-to-day at all. That shift is likely a result of our shift back toward SEO, away from related areas like social media and content marketing. I think we had attracted a significant number of community managers and content specialists who didn’t work in SEO, and we’re now seeing the pendulum swing the other direction.

On a scale of 1-5, how advanced would you say your SEO knowledge is?

The similarity between this year’s graph for this question and those from 2015 and 2013 is simply astonishing:

There’s been a slight drop in folks who say they’re at an expert level, and a slight increase in folks who have some background, but are relative beginners. But only slight. The interesting thing is, our blog traffic has increased significantly over these four years, so the newer members of our audience bear a striking resemblance to those of you who’ve been around for quite some time. In a sense, that’s reassuring — it paints a clear picture for us as we continue refining our content.

Do you work in-house, or at an agency/consultancy?

Here’s another window into just how little our audience has changed in the last couple of years:

A slight majority of our readers still work in-house for their own companies, and about a third still work on SEO for their company’s clients.

Interestingly, though, respondents who work for clients deal with many of the same issues as those who work in-house — especially in trying to convey the value of their work in SEO. They’re just trying to send that message to external clients instead of internal stakeholders. More details on that come from our next question:

What are some of the biggest challenges you face in your work today?

I’m consistently amazed by the time and thought that so many of you put into answering this question, and rest assured, your feedback will be presented to several teams around Moz, both on the marketing and the product sides. For this question, I organized each and every response into recurring themes, tallying each time those themes were mentioned. Here are all the themes that were mentioned 10 or more times:

Challenge # of mentions
My clients / colleagues / bosses don’t understand the value of SEO 59
The industry and tactics are constantly changing; algo updates 45
Time constraints 44
Link building 35
My clients / colleagues / bosses don’t understand how SEO works 29
Content (strategy / creation / marketing) 25
Resource constraints 23
It’s difficult to prove ROI 18
Budget constraints 17
It’s a difficult industry in which to learn tools and techniques 16
I regularly need to educate my colleagues / employees 16
It’s difficult to prioritize my work 16
My clients either don’t have or won’t offer sufficient budget / effort 15
Effective reporting 15
Bureaucracy, red tape, other company problems 11
It’s difficult to compete with other companies 11
I’m required to wear multiple hats 11

More than anything else, it’s patently obvious that one of the greatest difficulties faced by any SEO is explaining it to other people in a way that demonstrates its value while setting appropriate expectations for results. Whether it’s your clients, your boss, or your peers that you’re trying to convince, it isn’t an easy case to make, especially when it’s so difficult to show what kind of return a company can see from an investment in SEO.

We also saw tons of frustrated responses about how the industry is constantly changing, and it takes too much of your already-constrained time just to stay on top of those changes.

In terms of tactics, link building easily tops the list of challenges. That makes sense, as it’s the piece of SEO that relies most heavily on the cooperation of other human beings (and humans are often tricky beings to figure out). =)

Content marketing — both the creation/copywriting side as well as the strategy side — is still a challenge for many folks in the industry, though fewer people mentioned it this year as mentioned it in 2015, so I think we’re all starting to get used to how those skills overlap with the more traditional aspects of SEO.


How our readers read

With all that context in mind, we started to dig into your preferences in terms of formats, frequency, and subject matter on the blog.

How often do you read posts on the Moz Blog?

This is the one set of responses that caused a bit of concern. We’ve seen a steady decrease in the number of people who say they read every day, a slight decrease in the number of people who say they read multiple times each week, and a dramatic increase in the number of people who say they read once a week.

The 2015 decrease came after an expansion in the scope of subjects we covered on the blog — as we branched away from just SEO, we published more posts about social media, email, and other aspects of digital marketing. We knew that not all of those subjects were relevant for everyone, so we expected a dip in frequency of readership.

This year, though, we’ve attempted to refocus on SEO, and might have expected a bit of a rebound. That didn’t happen:

There are two other factors at play, here. For one thing, we no longer publish a post every single weekday. After our publishing volume experiment in 2015, we realized it was safe (even beneficial) to emphasize quality over quantity, so if we don’t feel like a post turned out the way we hoped, we don’t publish it until we’ve had a chance to improve it. That means we’re down to about four posts per week. We’ve also made a concerted effort to publish more posts about local SEO, as that’s relevant to our software and an increasingly important part of the work of folks in our industry.

It could also be a question of time — we’ve already covered how little time everyone in our industry has, and with that problem continuing, there may just be less time to read blog posts.

If anyone has any additional insight into why they read less often than they once did, please let us know in the comments below!

On which types of devices do you prefer to read blog posts?

We were surprised by the responses to this answer in 2013, and they’ve only gotten more extreme:

Nearly everyone prefers to read blog posts on a full computer. Only about 15% of folks add their phones into the equation, and the number of people in all the other buckets is extremely small. In 2013, our blog didn’t have a responsive design, and was quite difficult to read on mobile devices. We thought that might have had something to do with people’s responses — maybe they were just used to reading our blog on larger screens. The trend in 2015 and this year, though, proves that’s not the case. People just prefer reading posts on their computers, plain and simple.

Which other site(s), if any, do you regularly visit for information or education on SEO?

This was a new question for this year. We have our own favorite sites, of course, but we had no idea how the majority of folks would respond to this question. As it turns out, there was quite a broad range of responses listing sites that take very different approaches:

Site # responses
Search Engine Land 184
Search Engine Journal 89
Search Engine Roundtable 74
SEMrush 51
Ahrefs 50
Search Engine Watch 41
Quick Sprout / Neil Patel 35
HubSpot 33
Backlinko 31
Google Blogs 29
The SEM Post 21
Kissmetrics 17
Yoast 16
Distilled 13
SEO by the Sea 13

I suppose it’s no surprise that the most prolific sites sit at the top. They’ve always got something new, even if the stories don’t often go into much depth. We’ve tended to steer our own posts toward longer-form, in-depth pieces, and I think it’s safe to say (based on these responses and some to questions below) that it’d be beneficial for us to include some shorter stories, too. In other words, depth shouldn’t necessarily be a requisite for a post to be published on the Moz Blog. We may start experimenting with a more “short and sweet” approach to some posts.


What our readers think of the blog

Here’s where we get into more specific feedback about the Moz Blog, including whether it’s relevant, how easy it is for you to consume, and more.

What percentage of the posts on the Moz Blog would you say are relevant to you and your work?

Overall, I’m pretty happy with the results here, as SEO is a broad enough industry (and we’ve got a broad enough audience) that there’s simply no way we’re going to hit the sweet spot for everyone with every post. But those numbers toward the bottom of the chart are low enough that I feel confident we’re doing pretty well in terms of topic relevance.

Do you feel the Moz Blog posts are generally too basic, too advanced, or about right?

Responses to this question have made me smile every time I see them. This is clearly one thing we’re getting about as right as we could expect to. We’re even seeing a slight balancing of the “too basic” and “too advanced” columns over time, which is great:

We also asked the people who told us that posts were “too basic” or “too advanced” to what extent they felt that way, using a scale from 1-5 (1 being “just a little bit too basic/advanced” and 5 being “way too basic/advanced.” The responses tell us that the people who feel posts are too advanced feel more strongly about that opinion than the people who feel posts are too basic:

This makes some sense, I think. If you’re just starting out in SEO, which many of our readers are, some of the posts on this blog are likely to go straight over your head. That could be frustrating. If you’re an SEO expert, though, you probably aren’t frustrated by posts you see as too basic for you — you just skip past them and move on with your day.

This does make me think, though, that we might benefit from offering a dedicated section of the site for folks who are just starting out — more than just the Beginner’s Guide. That’s actually something that was specifically requested by one respondent this year.

In general, what do you think about the length of Moz Blog posts?

While it definitely seems like we’re doing pretty well in this regard, I’d also say we’ve got some room to tighten things up a bit, especially in light of the lack of time so many of you mentioned:

There were quite a few comments specifically asking for “short and sweet” posts from time to time — offering up useful tips or news in a format that didn’t expound on details because it didn’t have to. I think sprinkling some of those types of posts in with the longer-form posts we have so often would be beneficial.

Do you ever comment on Moz Blog posts?

This was another new question this year. Despite so many sites are removing comment sections from their blogs, we’ve always believed in their value. Sometimes the discussions we see in comments end up being the most helpful part of the posts, and we value our community too much to keep that from happening. So, we were happy to see a full quarter of respondents have participated in comments:

We also asked for a bit of info about why you either do or don’t comment on posts. The top reasons why you do were pretty predictable — to ask a clarifying question related to the post, or to offer up your own perspective on the topic at hand. The #3 reason was interesting — 18 people mentioned that they like to comment in order to thank the author for their hard work. This is a great sentiment, and as someone who’s published several posts on this blog, I can say for a fact that it does feel pretty great. At the same time, those comments are really only written for one person — the author — and are a bit problematic from our perspective, because they add noise around the more substantial conversations, which are what we like to see most.

I think the solution is going to lie in a new UI element that allows readers to note their appreciation to the authors without leaving one of the oft-maligned “Great post!” comments. There’s got to be a happy medium there, and I think it’s worth our finding it.

The reasons people gave for not commenting were even more interesting. A bunch of people mentioned the need to log in (sorry, folks — if we didn’t require that, we’d spend half our day removing spam!). The most common response, though, involved a lack of confidence. Whether it was worded along the lines of “I’m an introvert” or along the lines of “I just don’t have a lot of expertise,” there were quite a few people who worried about how their comments would be received.

I want to take this chance to encourage those of you who feel that way to take the step, and ask questions about points you find confusing. At the very least, I can guarantee you aren’t the only ones, and others like you will appreciate your initiative. One of the best ways to develop your expertise is to get comfortable asking questions. We all work in a really confusing industry, and the Moz Blog is all about providing a place to help each other out.

What, if anything, would you like to see different about the Moz Blog?

As usual, the responses to this question were chock full of great suggestions, and again, we so appreciate the amount of time you all spent providing really thoughtful feedback.

One pattern I saw was requests for more empirical data — hard evidence that things should be done a certain way, whether through case studies or other formats. Another pattern was requests for step-by-step walkthroughs. That makes a lot of sense for an industry of folks who are strapped for time: Make things as clear-cut as possible, and where we can, offer a linear path you can walk down instead of asking you to holistically understand the subject matter, then figure that out on your own. (That’s actually something we’re hoping to do with our entire Learning Center: Make it easier to figure out where to start, and where to continue after that, instead of putting everything into buckets and asking you all to figure it out.)

Whiteboard Friday remains a perennial favorite, and we were surprised to see more requests for more posts about our own tools than we had requests for fewer posts about our own tools. (We’ve been wary of that in the past, as we wanted to make sure we never crossed from “helpful” into “salesy,” something we’ll still focus on even if we do add another tool-based post here and there.)

We expected a bit of feedback about the format of the emails — we’re absolutely working on that! — but didn’t expect to see so many folks requesting that we bring back YouMoz. That’s something that’s been on the backs of our minds, and while it may not take the same form it did before, we do plan on finding new ways to encourage the community to contribute content, and hope to have something up and running early in 2018.

Request #responses
More case studies 26
More Whiteboard Friday (or other videos) 25
More long-form step-by-step training/guides 18
Clearer steps to follow in posts; how-tos 11
Bring back UGC / YouMoz 9
More from Rand 9
Improve formatting of the emails 9
Higher-level, less-technical posts 8
More authors 7
More news (algorithm updates, e.g.) 7
Shorter posts, “quick wins” 7
Quizzes, polls, or other engagement opportunities 6
Broader range of topics (engagement, CRO, etc.) 6
More about Moz tools 5
More data-driven, less opinion-based 5

What our readers want to see

This section is a bit more future-facing, where some of what we asked before had to do with how things have been in the past.

Which of the following topics would you like to learn more about?

There were very, very few surprises in this list. Lots of interest in on-page SEO and link building, as well as other core tactical areas of SEO. Content, branding, and social media all took dips — that makes sense, given the fact that we don’t usually post about those things anymore, and we’ve no doubt lost some audience members who were more interested in them as a result. Interestingly, mobile took a sizable dip, too. I’d be really curious to know what people think about why that is. My best guess is that with the mobile-first indexing from Google and with responsive designs having become so commonplace, there isn’t as much of a need as there once was to think of mobile much differently than there was a couple of years ago. Also of note: When we did this survey in 2015, Google had recently rolled out its “Mobile-Friendly Update,” not-so-affectionately referred to by many in the industry as Mobilegeddon. So… it was on our minds. =)

Which of the following types of posts would you most like to see on the Moz Blog?

This is a great echo and validation of what we took away from the more general question about what you’d like to see different about the Blog: More tactical posts and step-by-step walkthroughs. Posts that cut to the chase and offer a clear direction forward, as opposed to some of the types at the bottom of this list, which offer more opinions and cerebral explorations:


What happens next?

Now we go to work. =)

We’ll spend some time fully digesting this info, and coming up with new goals for 2018 aimed at making improvements inspired by your feedback. We’ll keep you all apprised as we start moving forward.

If you have any additional insight that strikes you in taking a look at these results, please do share it in the comments below — we’d love to have those discussions.

For now, we’ve got some initial takeaways that we’re already planning to take action on.

Primary takeaways

There are some relatively obvious things we can take away from these results that we’re already working on:

  • People in all businesses are finding it quite difficult to communicate the value of SEO to their clients, bosses, and colleagues. That’s something we can help with, and we’ll be developing materials in the near future to try and alleviate some of that particular frustration.
  • There’s a real desire for more succinct, actionable, step-by-step walkthroughs on the Blog. We can pretty easily explore formats for posts that are off our “beaten path,” and will attempt to make things easier to consume through improvements to both the content itself and its delivery. I think there’s some room for more “short and sweet” mixed in with our longer norm.
  • The bulk of our audience does more than just SEO, despite a full 25% of them having it in their job titles, and the challenges you mentioned include a bunch of areas that are related to, but outside the traditional world of SEO. Since you all are clearly working on those sorts of things, we should work to highlight and facilitate the relationship between the SEO work and the non-SEO marketing work you do.
  • In looking through some of the other sites you all visit for information on SEO, and knowing the kinds of posts they typically publish, it’s clear we’ve got an opportunity to publish more news. We’ve always dreamed of being more of a one-stop shop for SEO content, and that’s good validation that we may want to head down that path.

Again, thank you all so much for the time and effort you spent filling out this survey. Hopefully you’ll notice some changes in the near (and not-so-near) future that make it clear we’re really listening.

If you’ve got anything to add to these results — insights, further explanations, questions for clarification, rebuttals of points, etc. — please leave them in the comments below. We’re looking forward to continuing the conversation. =)

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Reblogged 5 days ago from tracking.feedpress.it

Help Us Improve: The 2017 Moz Blog Reader Survey Is Here

Posted by Trevor-Klein

It’s been a couple of years since we last asked you all about what you enjoy most (and least) about the Moz Blog, and to say our company and our industry had changed in those couple of years would be an enormous understatement.

We saw SERPs continue to add new features and far more featured snippets, as well as shifting massively toward HTTPS results.

Here at Moz, we launched Keyword Explorer, rebuilt our Site Crawl, and made a strategic shift to refocus on our core strength of SEO. We added features to Moz Local, too, emphasizing the importance of local SEO to all businesses with a physical presence.

You get the idea.

With so much having changed, we wanted to be sure we’re still living up to the high standards we set for this blog, and that we’re still providing as valuable an experience as we can for you all. That’s where you come in today.

If you’ve got time, please consider going through the survey below, which asks about who you are, what challenges you face, and what you’d like to see more of on the Moz Blog.

We’ll publish the results along with our takeaways in a few weeks, and will use them to guide our work going forward. From all of us at Moz, thanks in advance for your time!

(If the embedded survey isn’t showing up properly below, click here to take it in a new tab.)

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Reblogged 1 month ago from tracking.feedpress.it

2017 dotties winners

Tonight was another big night for dotmailer – our second annual dotties awards! Of the more than 350 entries across the 11 client categories, from a shortlist of over 70, here are the brands that took home the trophies:

Best Subject Line – WaterAid

In the UK, most of us take access to clean water for granted, so WaterAid had to craft subject lines that would resonate with its readers and allow them to relate to not having easy access to clean water. Moreover, the brand faced the challenge that a lack of access to clean water brings up some issues that many of us find taboo, which makes these emails difficult to drop into people’s inboxes. WaterAid were able to craft subject lines that used humour to overcome both of these challenges, delivering great results. The way these lines resonated with the judges proved that personalisation doesn’t need to include a person’s name; it just needs to connect well with the reader.

The winning subject lines:

  • ‘Don’t get a dog – get a bog!’ – a yule-tide campaign to break through the Christmas charity clutter.
  • ‘Your top ten period dramas’ – supporting Menstrual Hygiene Day with an innovative play on words.

Best Email Creative – British Heart Foundation

Restrictions in email rendering mean that emails are just a box of boxes and therefore not the best channel through which to show off traditional creativity. The judges therefore wanted to see evidence of creativity in other areas. The British Heart Foundation (BHF) impressed with the clever way it used recipients’ data in its My Marathon campaign to keep contacts motivated and engaged throughout their own “personal marathon.” Using dynamic content and real-time landing pages, The BHF were able to deliver each recipients progress towards both completing their personal marathon and achieving their fundraising targets. The key to the whole campaign was a consistent journey across all channels driven by both the look and feel as well as strong copy, which drove incredible results.

Best Use of Data – England Hockey

Your email marketing efforts can only ever be as good as your list. The problem for England Hockey was that it had the details for hockey club committee members but not the club members themselves. With the hockey World Cup coming to England in just a year’s time, the team had to grow its player member list fast. England Hockey emailed existing contacts with a link to a survey that could be easily passed along. With the records collected through this process, the team hit its “hockey family” sales target in hours rather than weeks.

Best Use of dotmailer Americas – Copa Airlines

One of the hallmarks of retail is managing stock. For most retailers the stock comes with the variation (size, colour, etc.) but the price for each variation is the same. The airline industry, like all ticket-based businesses, flips this model on its head. Each seat is the same but will be sold for a different price. Sure, there are different classes of seat, but seat 14A does not change from flight to flight. It can however, be sold at wildly different prices. The way around this is twofold: first, sell more seats directly from the airline rather than travel companies; second, sell more seats to loyal customers who will pay more per ticket. Copa is able to achieve this by delivering the right offers to the right passengers through their depth of integration with dotmailer.

Best Use of Multichannel – Greene King

Just using a bunch of different channels here was not going to be enough to win a dottie. The judges were looking for entries that strategically tied multiple channels together. Greene King used email to promote its digital scratch card game to existing customers first building engagement then encouraging them to share the game with their friends. Traditional social media channels and other sites like Money Saving Expert bolstered this new acquisition effort. Overall, the campaign generated an almost mind blowing ROI of 10,000%.

Best B2B Marketing Campaign – City & Guilds

City & Guilds has a large number of different audience groups that each need to have different information across both the website and the email. The challenge is that new visitors come into the site anonymously and City & Guilds needs to get a little information before they start sending. They built a custom preference centre and multi-step welcome program to get this initial information. Once the recipient starts receiving the email, City & Guilds is able to build a deep rich profile by combining web insight and contact scoring from which they can further increase the level of personalisation through segmentation and dynamic content.

Best B2C Marketing Campaign – The Dune Group

There were many worthy winners in the Best B2C Marketing Campaign category. What made this Dune campaign standout was that email was clearly a part of the core multi-channel strategy not a last minute add-on. The episodic nature of the content attracted new customers who were integrated quickly into the overall email marketing communications starting with a confirmed opt-in.

Best Use of dotmailer APAC – Spend-less Shoes

Spend-less shoes is an Australian owned and operated footwear retailer with over 200 stores in addition to an ecom shop. To promote its core range of seasonal fashions inspired from around the world, the company sends two emails per week. To avoid list fatigue, Spend-less Shoes combine explicit data collected through its preference centre with implicit data gathered through interactions with previous emails, browse behaviour and purchase history to deliver the most relevant content to each recipient.

Best Ecommerce Campaign – Neal’s Yard Remedies

Gaspar is thought to have brought Frankincense to the baby Jesus. He had a whole caravan of camels, wagons and servants; Neal’s Yard Remedies only had email to launch its Frankincense-based facial serum. The brand combined emotive copywriting and design over the course of four emails to explain the science behind the serum, the ingredients, drive customers into their shops to experience the product and, finally, how the Frankincense is ethically sourced. Neal’s Yard Remedies more than doubled its initial sales target; no small ask, as this was the brand’s most expensive product when it launched.

Best Charity Campaign – British Heart Foundation

Charities often face an impossible challenge – they have to raise awareness for things that are generally unpleasant – such as one in ten people who suffer cardiac arrest in public survive. The British Heart Foundation work very hard to prevent heart disease. When the worst happens however, pretty much everybody should know what to do. This campaign supported “Restart the Heart Day” by encouraging schools to use the CPR kits they already have to train up to 100,000 young people on how to perform CPR. The British Heart Foundation succeeded by first targeting the teachers who had participated in the previous year to be part of something bigger. The charity also targeted teachers who had not participated previously to help fill Wembley stadium with young people trained in CPR. Through a multi-channel campaign, the email component delivered 120% of target.

Best Use of dotmailer EMEA – Shortlist Media

What is the best way to find out if your readers like your email? Ask them; this is exactly what Shortlist did – in every email. How do you keep your readers from feeling you are bombarding them with emails? Tell them, which is also what Shortlist did. The company dynamically display the reader’s preferences in every email so not only does the reader know what they are getting and what to expect, but the brand can build a little FOMO (fear of missing out) and promote its other emails. By combining this feedback with a rigorous test-and-learn program and the data shown in the campaign reports, Shortlist were able to transform one of its key newsletters in just a couple of weeks rather than months.

Partners of the Year

In general, the judges were looking for partners that exemplify the dotmailer philosophy:

  1. Developing platforms that empower the serious marketer
  2. Continuous platform development
  3. Collaboration to deliver the best results for the clients and develop a strong partnership

Of course being good to work with, fun to drink with and bringing in loads of business doesn’t hurt either.

Congratulations to the best partners:

  • Tech Partner of the Year – Nosto
  • Ecommerce Agency of the Year – Vaimo
  • Digital Partner of the Year – XCM

Email Marketer of the Year – Sheri Riddlesworth of Forest Holidays

The email marketer of the year is more than just a great email marketer; they also have to demonstrate that they can overcome difficult business challenges, deliver tangible results and, most importantly, promote email throughout their organisation and in the wider marketing industry. Sheri nails this. Over the past year she has lead the effort to fully implement the dotmailer platform into all of Forrest Holidays’ marketing efforts – which has increased their ROI from email by over 1,000%.

Email Marketing Team of the Year – Shortlist Media

This may seem obvious but the Email Marketing Team of the Year has to work well together, overcome difficult business challenges and deliver real, significant results for their business. The Short List team is the epitome of these criteria. There are three of them who deliver newsletters across a number of brands and because they are a publisher, all newsletters have to go on time, every time. At the same time, they have delivered great results by growing subscribers, boosting engagement and driving revenue over the past year. The best example of their impact to the business is that they brought along 30 colleagues to the dotties to celebrate their success.

A big pat on the back for all those shortlisted and huge congratulations to the winners. Be on the lookout for the dotties annual and our upcoming dotLives featuring tonight’s winners.

The post 2017 dotties winners appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 5 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Make the Most of Your MozCon 2017 Adventure – A Seattle How-To

Posted by Danielle_Launders

There’s a little secret we keep here in Seattle: it doesn’t actually rain all the time (we just want people to think that so we can keep the beautiful summers all to ourselves). Those of you who have been to a MozCon before are in on that secret; those of you who are joining us for MozCon 2017 on July 17–19 will soon find out!

It can be hard coming to a new city and trying to find food and experiences off the beaten path, which is why Mozzers have come together to share some of their favorite places, both new and old, to help you make the most of your time in Seattle this summer. If you don’t have your ticket and don’t want to miss out on all the fun, grab yours now — they’re selling out!

Buy my MozCon 2017 ticket

Unfamiliar with MozCon and not sure what you’ll learn? Scope out the full agenda with all the juicy details on who’s speaking and what topics we’re covering.

Official MozCon activities

We want you to enjoy yourself, make new industry friends, and get the most out of your MozCon experience — which is why we have an assortment of events and activities to keep you busy.

Monday night #MozCrawl

Monday night is all about exploring and making new friends. Join us from 7–10pm for our annual #MozCrawl. This year we’re bringing it back to the Capitol Hill neighborhood! Get to know your fellow attendees and our six MozCon partners hosting the fun. You’ll be able to go at your own pace and in any order.

Bonus points: have your MozCon Passport stamped at all of the stops and enter our drawing to win a ticket to MozCon 2018.

Capitol Cider hosted by Klipfolio

Linda’s Tavern hosted by WordStream

The Runaway hosted by CallRail

Stout hosted by Jumpshot

Unicorn hosted by BuzzStream

Saint John’s Bar & Eatery hosted by Moz

Tuesday night MozCon Ignite

You’ll definitely laugh, you’ll likely cry, and most importantly you’ll enjoy yourself at MozCon Ignite. Listen to twelve of your fellow attendees share their journeys, life lessons, and unique hobbies in our five-minute Ignite-style passion talk series. MozCon Ignite will take place at Benaroya Hall from 7–10pm, where you’ll have time to relax, unwind, and mingle.

  • My Life with Guinea Pigs with Britt Kemp at Bishop Fox
  • A Disastrous Camping Trip with the Best Partner with JR Ridley at Go Fish Digital
  • My Wife, Actually: A Story of Being Gay Enough with Joy Brandon at Nebo Agency
  • Homebrewing 101: A 5-minute Primer on DIY Alcohol with Erin McCaul at Moz
  • This Too Shall Pass: The Blessing of Perspective with Yosef Silver at Search Interactions
  • The King of Swing: A Guide to Creative Fundraising with Cameron Rogowski at Double Dumplings
  • How Finding my Sister’s Mother Changed my Life with Ed Reese at JEB Commerce
  • Living My Life with an Identical Clone with Christopher Beck at Internet Marketing Inc.
  • How to Change Sex the Easy Way with Maura Hubbell at Moz
  • 4 Signs Your Friend or Loved One is a Birder with Jeremy Schwartz at MediaPro
  • How to Save Humanity in Twenty Minutes a Day with Andrea Dunlop, author & independent book marketing consultant
  • Traumatic Brain Injury & Why Self-Diagnosis Sucks with Blake Denman at RicketyRoo Inc.

Wednesday night MozCon Bash

Bowling: check! Karaoke: check! Photobooth: check! Join us for one last hurrah before we meet again at MozCon 2018. You won’t want to miss this closing night bash — we’ll have plenty of games, food, and fun as we mix and mingle, say “see ya soon” to friends new and old, and reminisce over our favorite lessons from the past 3 days.

Birds-of-a-feather lunch tables

At lunch, you’ll have the opportunity to connect with your fellow community members around the professional topics that matter most to you. There will be seven tables each day with different topics and facilitators; find one with a sign noting the topic and join the conversation to share advice, learn tips and tricks, and make new friends.

Monday, July 17

  • B2B Email Marketing hosted by Steve Manjarrez at Moz
  • E-commerce hosted by Everett Sizemore at Inflow
  • In-house SEO hosted by Kristin Fraccia at Magoosh
  • It’s Just Me — Digital Departments of One hosted by Liz Reuth at Le-vel
  • Linkbuilding hosted by Rachael Brandt at Magoosh
  • On-Page SEO hosted by Cyrus Shepard at Fazillion
  • Travel Website SEO hosted by Michael Cottam at Visual Itineraries

Tuesday, July 18

  • In-house SEO hosted by Jackson Lo at Tripadvisor
  • Link Building hosted by Russ Jones at Moz
  • Mobile Marketing hosted by Bridget Randolph at Hearst Magazines
  • Perceiving Brand Through Digital PR hosted by Manish Dudharejia at E2M Solutions
  • Product Marketing hosted by Brittani Dinsmore at Moz
  • Search Trends hosted by Gianluca Fiorelli at IloveSEO.net
  • Technical SEO hosted by Corey Eulas at Factorial Digital

Wednesday, July 19

Even more ideas for your Seattle adventure!

There are so many wonderful places to see, food to eat, and yes, coffee and craft beer to be consumed. Lots and lots of coffee and craft brews. That’s why a few Mozzers have pulled together their favorite places to check out during your stay in the Emerald City.

No Anchor
“By far my favorite place in Belltown. Incredibly unique beer selection and fresh local food combinations that you can’t find anywhere else.”
Abe Schmidt

Marination Ma Kai
“Marination is one of the top food trucks in the country and now they have several brick and mortar restaurants. Marination Ma Kai is located in West Seattle and has a big outdoor patio with gorgeous views of downtown Seattle, it’s a summer hotspot for a cool beverage and noms. Why is it quintessential Seattle? Not only is the food life changing, the view amazing, but getting there is an adventure! Just walk down to the waterfront and hop on the wonderful Seattle Water Taxi. The trip from downtown drops riders off right at the restaurant.”

Rapha Seattle
“If you LOVE bicycles this place is a must-visit. One of only five US Rapha Clubhouses, Rapha Seattle is home to delicious coffee, fine food, and bicycle events.

The atmosphere is cool and inviting. Visitors are surrounded by the coolest bicycle gear and memorabilia. You can rent a Canyon bicycle to explore the city (Which is a big deal because you cannot buy Canyon bikes in America, yet). Rapha also does guided bike rides for the public and member only rides.”
James Daugherty

Taylor Shellfish (Pioneer Square, Capitol Hill, or Queen Anne)
“The Puget Sound offers the best oysters in the world. What’s great about Taylor Shellfish is that it’s all about the oysters, the drinks and the people you’re with in a simple, unpretentious, come-as-you-are atmosphere. There’s nothing more quintessential to Seattle than that.”

The Point in Burien
“An all-around great bar to grab a bite and a drink if your flight is delayed or you need to kill some time near the airport. The Point is 10 minutes from SeaTac, has a fantastic menu (including lots of gluten free options), a great cocktail menu, tap list, and big-screen TVs.”
Brittani Dinsmore

Hattie’s Hat
“Ballard was an old fishing village. Hattie’s Hat bar has been in continuous operation for over 100 years and the bar that you sit at was installed in 1907 or something. Incredible. The bartenders are all in Seattle bands, some of them moderately famous from the 1990s. Go in the early afternoon. Ask for Lupe or Lara. Sit at the bar. You’ll thank me for it.“
Brian Childs

Holy Mountain Brewery
“Seattle is a beer city. Holy Mountain makes Seattle’s best beer. Go there.”
Evelyn Baek

The Whale Wins, Revel, Joule, and Fremont Brewing
“All are in the Fremont area and are each tasty in their own right. Besides if you don’t like those options there are plenty of places to choose from in Fremont”
Steve Manjarrez

Ada’s Technical Books and Cafe
“Coffee + super sleek bookstore that encourages women in tech and science. Need I say more?”
Meredith Crandell

Still hungry? Check out:

And don’t miss our posts from years past, which are full of even more recommendations: 2016, 2015, 2014, 2013, and 2012.

If you’re looking to connect with fellow attendees, please join our MozCon Facebook Group.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Reblogged 5 months ago from tracking.feedpress.it

IRCE 2017: 4 Key Session Takeaways for Brands

The annual Internet Retailer Commerce & Expo (IRCE) show came to a close last week in Chicago. We had so much fun seeing our customers, partners and industry friends at one of the largest e-commerce trade shows of the year. We were inspired by some great sessions with some very common themes that e-commerce brands should consider right now to grow their business…use innovative technologies but be human, have fun – be authentic, get personal with your customers and think of one more creative idea to make it work.

Here are a few session takeaways that inspired us.

  • Shark Investor, “Shark Tank” TV Series, Barbara Corcoran – Barbara Corcoran shared her personal journey in creating her empire and $66 million dollar sale of her real estate business. Getting past failure, having more fun at work, “dress in your PJ’s, dress as nuns,” was threaded throughout her presentation. Corcoran’s message to e-commerce entrepreneurs, “Fun is good for business. If you have more fun at work you build more teams.” Corcoran also shared how all of the best things that happened to her happened on the heels of rejection and that setbacks are “the seeds to creativity and innovation.”
  • Mary Beth Laughton, SVP, Digital, Sephora“Feed her mobile addiction” with “teach, inspire and play” experiences was the theme of Mary Beth Laughton’s presentation. Laughton shared how mobile is Sephora’s fastest growing channel. Embedding “addictive mobile experiences” along the consumer journey, drawing on customer insights and following up quickly with personalized communications (personalized emails with tips on how that product looks, exclusives, early access experiences, etc) are all opportunities to get the customer to come back again.
  • Nicole Gardner, COO, Dormify – dotmailer’s featured customer Nicole Gardner, COO of Dormify, shared best marketing practices for converting tech-savvy Millennial and Gen Z shoppers. As an e-commerce business that is growing 50% year-over-year, Dormify continues to focus on fresh SEO techniques and layering great content and guidance at every touch-point of the customer journey. Gardner wrapped up the session by sharing the following advice, “Know your customer and know they will change. Be where they are (but don’t force it). Be useful. Help them build the ultimate _____. Be modular, not prescriptive. Provide choices and tools to help them make their own experience.”
  • George Hanson, VP, North America E-Commerce and Brand House Stores, Under Armour – This session gave an awesome look at wearables today and plans in the works. According to George Hanson, “data is the key to unlocking more personalization and product innovation.” Under Armour has a community of more than 200 million connected fitness consumers. This community informs Under Armour’s digital marketing experiences. Hanson emphasized that personalization needs to be connected and many brands have siloed solutions.

We look forward to continuing the discussion and hearing about your favorite takeaways. Fill out our dedicated survey to provide your feedback.

Please keep the conversation going at @dotmailer, #IRCE17!

 

 

The post IRCE 2017: 4 Key Session Takeaways for Brands appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 6 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

An interview with the author of Hitting the Mark 2017

Hitting the Mark 2017, our biggest and best email marketing benchmark report to date, is hot off the press! An in-depth analysis of 100 retail brands’ email practice, this report is the go-to for marketers looking to inform and inspire their strategy.

Now that the author, our Content Manager and wordsmith wizard, Ross Barnard, is back from some much-needed Hitting the Mark R&R, I asked him what it was like to construct a report so meaty it has its own serving suggestions.

Ross, we’ve heard a rumor that HTM100 totted up over 70,000 words – that’s a lot of copy! Why do you think there’s appetite for an email marketing benchmarking report of this size and stature?

Yes, it really is a beast of a document. I’m surprised I have enough words left in me to do this interview!

This was the eighth Hitting the Mark that dotmailer has published – and it’s certainly the biggest. In 2017, we wanted to introduce a bigger sample of brands to give marketers a broader view of the email marketing tactics being used by retailers. I think it’s important to not only present the common trends and observations from the research, but also to provide deep-dives into each brand; this is the best way to enable companies to learn from the best (and the worst!)

There’s some huge household names quite far down the scoreboard in HTM100. Were you surprised at the failures made by some of the bigger brands? Why do you think that was? (Sorry, that’s two questions in one!)

I was surprised to see some well-known brands coming in the bottom 50 for sure. There must be a good reason for this – i.e. they generate enough revenue from other avenues, meaning email is not a priority. However, I believe email has a place in every organization and this was certainly demonstrated by the top 10 brands. I think some of the digital content providers (e.g. those selling music, films, books etc.) can definitely learn something from the likes of Netflix; email automation and personalization lends itself perfectly to these types of companies that have access to a wealth of rich customer data.

This year’s report goes beyond the email to evaluate aspects of brands’ ecommerce experience. Why?

That big buzzword that’s been loitering around for the last couple of years: customer experience. We recognize that today, brands are having to mold themselves around the consumer; there’s a growing number of channels and touch-points to keep up with, and it’s interesting to measure how retailers are performing in this area. Needless to say, I was not surprised that UK department store John Lewis led the way.

Can you sum up this year’s HTM100 in 3 words?

  • Hefty (you could probably knock someone out with it)
  • Comprehensive
  • Unmissable (if you’re an ecommerce email marketer)

The physical copy of the report has a whole host of alternative uses. So far in the office we’ve heard: pillow, deadlift weight and tent peg mallet. What’s your favorite alternative use for HTM100?

I think it makes for a great height-raising laptop stand (especially if you’re a marketer, because you’ll want to keep it close by).

Want to find out where brands like Asos, John Lewis, and Google Play came in our email marketing benchmark report? Download Hitting the Mark 2017.

Just had lunch but still have room for a bite-size snack? Download our infographic version.

The post An interview with the author of Hitting the Mark 2017 appeared first on The Email Marketing Blog.

Reblogged 7 months ago from blog.dotmailer.com

Local search ranking factors: What’s working in 2017 [Podcast]

In our new episode, we chat with Darren Shaw about the just-released Local Search Ranking Factors survey and discuss what marketers need to know about local SEO in 2017.

The post Local search ranking factors: What’s working in 2017 [Podcast] appeared first on Search Engine Land.

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.

Reblogged 7 months ago from feeds.searchengineland.com

Announcing the 2017 Local Search Ranking Factors Survey Results

Posted by Whitespark

Since its inception in 2008, David Mihm has been running the Local Search Ranking Factors survey. It is the go-to resource for helping businesses and digital marketers understand what drives local search results and what they should focus on to increase their rankings. This year, David is focusing on his new company, Tidings, a genius service that automatically generates perfectly branded newsletters by pulling in the content from your Facebook page and leading content sources in your industry. While he will certainly still be connected to the local search industry, he’s spending less time on local search research, and has passed the reins to me to run the survey.

David is one of the smartest, nicest, most honest, and most generous people you will ever meet. In so many ways, he has helped direct and shape my career into what it is today. He has mentored me and promoted me by giving me my first speaking opportunities at Local U events, collaborated with me on research projects, and recommended me as a speaker at important industry conferences. And now, he has passed on one of the most important resources in our industry into my care. I am extremely grateful.

Thank you, David, for all that you have done for me personally, and for the local search industry. I am sure I speak for all who know you personally and those that know you through your work in this space; we wish you great success with your new venture!

I’m excited to dig into the results, so without further ado, read below for my observations, or:

Click here for the full results!

Shifting priorities

Here are the results of the thematic factors in 2017, compared to 2015:

Thematic Factors

2015

2017

Change

GMB Signals

21.63%

19.01%

-12.11%

Link Signals

14.83%

17.31%

+16.73%

On-Page Signals

14.23%

13.81%

-2.95%

Citation Signals

17.14%

13.31%

-22.36%

Review Signals

10.80%

13.13%

+21.53%

Behavioral Signals

8.60%

10.17%

+18.22%

Personalization

8.21%

9.76%

+18.81%

Social Signals

4.58%

3.53%

-22.89%

If you look at the Change column, you might get the impression that there were some major shifts in priorities this year, but the Change number doesn’t tell the whole story. Social factors may have seen the biggest drop with a -22.89% change, but a shift in emphasis on social factors from 4.58% to 3.53% isn’t particularly noteworthy.

The decreased emphasis on citations compared to the increased emphasis on link and review factors, is reflective of shifting focus, but as I’ll discuss below, citations are still crucial to laying down a proper foundation in local search. We’re just getting smarter about how far you need to go with them.

The importance of proximity

For the past two years, Physical Address in City of Search has been the #1 local pack/finder ranking factor. This makes sense. It’s tough to rank in the local pack of a city that you’re not physically located in.

Well, as of this year’s survey, the new #1 factor is… drumroll please…

Proximity of Address to the Point of Search

This factor has been climbing from position #8 in 2014, to position #4 in 2015, to claim the #1 spot in 2017. I’ve been seeing this factor’s increased importance for at least the past year, and clearly others have noticed as well. As I note in my recent post on proximity, this leads to poor results in most categories. I’m looking for the best lawyer in town, not the closest one. Hopefully we see the dial get turned down on this in the near future.

While Proximity of Address to the Point of Search is playing a stronger role than ever in the rankings, it’s certainly not the only factor impacting rankings. Businesses with higher relevancy and prominence will rank in a wider radius around their business and take a larger percentage of the local search pie. There’s still plenty to be gained from investing in local search strategies.

Here’s how the proximity factors changed from 2015 to 2017:

Proximity Factors

2015

2017

Change

Proximity of Address to the Point of Search

#4

#1

+3

Proximity of Address to Centroid of Other Businesses in Industry

#20

#30

-10

Proximity of Address to Centroid

#16

#50

-34

While we can see that Proximity to the Point of Search has seen a significant boost to become the new #1 factor, the other proximity factors which we once thought were extremely important have seen a major drop.

I’d caution people against ignoring Proximity of Address to Centroid, though. There is a situation where I think it still plays a role in local rankings. When you’re searching from outside of a city for a key phrase that contains the city name (Ex: Denver plumbers), then I believe Google geo-locates the search to the centroid and Proximity of Address to Centroid impacts rankings. This is important for business categories that are trying to attract searchers from outside of their city, such as attractions and hotels.

Local SEOs love links

Looking through the results and the comments, a clear theme emerges: Local SEOs are all about the links these days.

In this year’s survey results, we’re seeing significant increases for link-related factors across the board:

Local Pack/Finder Link Factors

2015

2017

Change

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain

#12

#4

+8

Domain Authority of Website

#6

#6

Diversity of Inbound Links to Domain

#27

#16

+11

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL

#15

#11

+4

Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain

#34

#17

+17

Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally Relevant Domains

#31

#20

+11

Page Authority of GMB Landing Page URL

#24

#22

+2

Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Industry-Relevant Domains

#41

#28

+13

Product/Service Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain

#33

+17

Location Keywords in Anchor Text of Inbound Links to Domain

#45

#38

+7

Diversity of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL

#39

+11

Quantity of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL from LocallyRelevant Domains

#48

+2

Google is still leaning heavily on links as a primary measure of a business’ authority and prominence, and the local search practitioners that invest time and resources to secure quality links for their clients are reaping the ranking rewards.

Fun fact: “links” appears 76 times in the commentary.

By comparison, “citations” were mentioned 32 times, and “reviews” were mentioned 45 times.

Shifting priorities with citations

At first glance at all the declining factors in the table below, you might think that yes, citations have declined in importance, but the situation is more nuanced than that.

Local Pack/Finder Citation Factors

2015

2017

Change

Consistency of Citations on The Primary Data Sources

n/a

#5

n/a

Quality/Authority of Structured Citations

#5

#8

-3

Consistency of Citations on Tier 1 Citation Sources

n/a

#9

n/a

Quality/Authority of Unstructured Citations (Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts, Gov Sites, Industry Associations)

#18

#21

-3

Quantity of Citations from Locally Relevant Domains

#21

#29

-8

Prominence on Key Industry-Relevant Domains

n/a

#37

n/a

Quantity of Citations from Industry-Relevant Domains

#19

#40

-21

Enhancement/Completeness of Citations

n/a

#44

n/a

Proper Category Associations on Aggregators and Tier 1 Citation Sources

n/a

#45

n/a

Quantity of Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators)

#14

#47

-33

Consistency of Structured Citations

#2

n/a

n/a

Quantity of Unstructured Citations (Newspaper Articles, Blog Posts)

#39

-11

You’ll notice that there are many “n/a” cells on this table. This is because I made some changes to the citation factors. I elaborate on this in the survey results, but for your quick reference here:

  1. To reflect the reality that you don’t need to clean up your citations on hundreds of sites, Consistency of Structured Citations has been broken down into 4 new factors:
    1. Consistency of Citations on The Primary Data Sources
    2. Consistency of Citations on Tier 1 Citation Sources
    3. Consistency of Citations on Tier 2 Citation Sources
    4. Consistency of Citations on Tier 3 Citation Sources
  2. I added these new citation factors:
    1. Enhancement/Completeness of Citations
    2. Presence of Business on Expert-Curated “Best of” and Similar Lists
    3. Prominence on Key Industry-Relevant Domains
    4. Proper Category Associations on Aggregators and Top Tier Citation Sources

Note that there are now more citation factors showing up, so some of the scores given to citation factors in 2015 are now being split across multiple factors in 2017:

  • In 2015, there were 7 citation factors in the top 50
  • In 2017, there are 10 citation factors in the top 50

That said, overall, I do think that the emphasis on citations has seen some decline (certainly in favor of links), and rightly so. In particular, there is an increasing focus on quality over quantity.

I was disappointed to see that Presence of Business on Expert-Curated “Best of” and Similar Lists didn’t make the top 50. I think this factor can provide a significant boost to a business’ local prominence and, in turn, their rankings. Granted, it’s a challenging factor to directly influence, but I would love to see an agency make a concerted effort to outreach to get their clients listed on these, measure the impact, and do a case study. Any takers?

GMB factors

There is no longer an editable description on your GMB listing, so any factors related to the GMB description field were removed from the survey. This is a good thing, since the field was typically poorly used, or abused, in the past. Google is on record saying that they didn’t use it for ranking, so stuffing it with keywords has always been more likely to get you penalized than to help you rank.

Here are the changes in GMB factors:

GMB Factors

2015

2017

Change

Proper GMB Category Associations

#3

#3

Product/Service Keyword in GMB Business Title

#7

#7

Location Keyword in GMB Business Title

#17

#12

+5

Verified GMB Listing

#13

#13

GMB Primary Category Matches a Broader Category of the Search Category (e.g. primary category=restaurant & search=pizza)

#22

#15

+7

Age of GMB Listing

#23

#25

-2

Local Area Code on GMB Listing

#33

#32

+1

Association of Photos with GMB Listing

#36

+14

Matching Google Account Domain to GMB Landing Page Domain

#36

-14

While we did see some upward movement in the Location Keyword in GMB Business Title factor, I’m shocked to see that Product/Service Keyword in GMB Business Title did not also go up this year. It is hands-down one of the strongest factors in local pack/finder rankings. Maybe THE strongest, after Proximity of Address to the Point of Search. It seems to me that everyone and their dog is complaining about how effective this is for spammers.

Be warned: if you decide to stuff your business title with keywords, international spam hunter Joy Hawkins will probably hunt your listing down and get you penalized. 🙂

Also, remember what happened back when everyone was spamming links with private blog networks, and then got slapped by the Penguin Update? Google has a complete history of changes to your GMB listing, and they could decide at any time to roll out an update that will retroactively penalize your listing. Is it really worth the risk?

Age of GMB Listing might have dropped two spots, but it was ranked extremely high by Joy Hawkins and Colan Neilsen. They’re both top contributors at the Google My Business forum, and I’m not saying they know something we don’t know, but uh, maybe they know something we don’t know.

Association of Photos with GMB Listing is a factor that I’ve heard some chatter about lately. It didn’t make the top 50 in 2015, but now it’s coming in at #36. Apparently, some Google support people have said it can help your rankings. I suppose it makes sense as a quality consideration. Listings with photos might indicate a more engaged business owner. I wonder if it matters whether the photos are uploaded by the business owner, or if it’s a steady stream of incoming photo uploads from the general public to the listing. I can imagine that a business that’s regularly getting photo uploads from users might be a signal of a popular and important business.

While this factor came in as somewhat benign in the Negative Factors section (#26), No Hours of Operation on GMB Listing might be something to pay attention to, as well. Nick Neels noted in the comments:

Our data showed listings that were incomplete and missing hours of operation were highly likely to be filtered out of the results and lose visibility. As a result, we worked with our clients to gather hours for any listings missing them. Once the hours of operation were uploaded, the listings no longer were filtered.

Behavioral factors

Here are the numbers:

GMB Factors

2015

2017

Change

Clicks to Call Business

#38

#35

+3

Driving Directions to Business Clicks

#29

#43

-14

Not very exciting, but these numbers do NOT reflect the serious impact that behavioral factors are having on local search rankings and the increased impact they will have in the future. In fact, we’re never going to get numbers that truly reflect the value of behavioral factors, because many of the factors that Google has access to are inaccessible and unmeasurable by SEOs. The best place to get a sense of the impact of these factors is in the comments. When asked about what he’s seeing driving rankings this year, Phil Rozek notes:

There seem to be more “black box” ranking scenarios, which to me suggests that behavioral factors have grown in importance. What terms do people type in before clicking on you? Where do those people search from? How many customers click on you rather than on the competitor one spot above you? If Google moves you up or down in the rankings, will many people still click? I think we’re somewhere past the beginning of the era of mushy ranking factors.

Mike Blumenthal also talks about behavioral factors in his comments:

Google is in a transition period from a web-based linking approach to a knowledge graph semantic approach. As we move towards a mobile-first index, the lack of linking as a common mobile practice, voice search, and single-response answers, Google needs to and has been developing ranking factors that are not link-dependent. Content, actual in-store visitations, on-page verifiable truth, third-party validation, and news-worthiness are all becoming increasingly important.

But Google never throws anything away. Citations and links as we have known them will continue to play a part in the ranking algo, but they will be less and less important as Google increases their understanding of entity prominence and the real world.

And David Mihm says:

It’s a very difficult concept to survey about, but the overriding ranking factor in local — across both pack and organic results — is entity authority. Ask yourself, “If I were Google, how would I define a local entity, and once I did, how would I rank it relative to others?” and you’ll have the underlying algorithmic logic for at least the next decade.

    • How widely known is the entity? Especially locally, but oh man, if it’s nationally known, searchers should REALLY know about it.
    • What are people saying about the entity? (It should probably rank for similar phrases)
    • What is the engagement with the entity? Do people recognize it when they see it in search results? How many Gmail users read its newsletter? How many call or visit it after seeing it in search results? How many visit its location?

David touches on this topic in the survey response above, and then goes full BEAST MODE on the future of local rankings in his must-read post on Tidings, The Difference-Making Local Ranking Factor of 2020. (David, thank you for letting me do the Local Search Ranking Factors, but please, don’t ever leave us.)

The thing is, Google has access to so much additional data now through Chrome, Android, Maps, Ads, and Search. They’d be crazy to not use this data to help them understand which businesses are favored by real, live humans, and then rank those businesses accordingly. You can’t game this stuff, folks. In the future, my ranking advice might just be: “Be an awesome business that people like and that people interact with.” Fortunately, David thinks we have until 2020 before this really sets in, so we have a few years left of keyword-stuffing business titles and building anchor text-optimized links. Phew.

To survey or to study? That is not the question

I’m a fan of Andrew Shotland’s and Dan Leibson’s Local SEO Ranking Factors Study. I think that the yearly Local Search Ranking Factors Survey and the yearly (hopefully) Local SEO Ranking Factors Study nicely complement each other. It’s great to see some hard data on what factors correlate with rankings. It confirms a lot of what the contributors to this survey are intuitively seeing impact rankings for their clients.

There are some factors that you just can’t get data for, though, and the number of these “black box” factors will continue to grow over the coming years. Factors such as:

  • Behavioral factors and entity authority, as described above. I don’t think Google is going to give SEOs this data anytime soon.
  • Relevancy. It’s tough to measure a general relevancy score for a business from all the different sources Google could be pulling this data from.
  • Even citation consistency is hard to measure. You can get a general sense of this from tools like Moz Local or Yext, but there is no single citation consistency metric you can use to score businesses by. The ecosystem is too large, too complicated, and too nuanced to get a value for consistency across all the location data that Google has access to.

The survey, on the other hand, aggregates opinions from the people that are practicing and studying local search day in and day out. They do work for clients, test things, and can see what had a positive impact on rankings and what didn’t. They can see that when they built out all of the service pages for a local home renovations company, their rankings across the board went up through increased relevancy for those terms. You can’t analyze these kinds of impacts with a quantitative study like the Local SEO Ranking Factors Study. It takes some amount of intuition and insight, and while the survey approach certainly has its flaws, it does a good job of surfacing those insights.

Going forward, I think there is great value in both the survey to get the general sense of what’s impacting rankings, and the study to back up any of our theories with data — or to potentially refute them, as they may have done with city names in webpage title tags. Andrew and Dan’s empirical study gives us more clues than we had before, so I’m looking forward to seeing what other data sources they can pull in for future editions.

Possum’s impact has been negligible

Other than Proper GMB Category Associations, which is definitely seeing a boost because of Possum, you can look at the results in this section more from the perspective of “this is what people are focusing on more IN GENERAL.” Possum hasn’t made much of an impact on what we do to rank businesses in local. It has simply added another point of failure in cases where a business gets filtered.

One question that’s still outstanding in my mind is: what do you do if you are filtered? Why is one business filtered and not the other? Can you do some work to make your business rank and demote the competitor to the filter? Is it more links? More relevancy? Hopefully someone puts out some case studies soon on how to defeat the dreaded Possum filter (paging Joy Hawkins).

Focusing on More Since Possum

#1

Proximity of Address to the Point of Search

#2

Proper GMB Category Associations

#3

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain

#4

Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally Relevant Domains

#5

Click-Through Rate from Search Results

Focusing on Less Since Possum

#1

Proximity of Address to Centroid

#2

Physical Address in City of Search

#3

Proximity of Address to Centroid of Other Businesses in Industry

#4

Quantity of Structured Citations (IYPs, Data Aggregators)

#5

Consistency of Citations on Tier 3 Citation Sources

Foundational factors vs. competitive difference-makers

There are many factors in this survey that I’d consider table stakes. To get a seat at the rankings table, you must at least have these factors in order. Then there are the factors which I’d consider competitive difference-makers. These are the factors that, once you have a seat at the table, will move your rankings beyond your competitors. It’s important to note that you need BOTH. You probably won’t rank with only the foundation unless you’re in an extremely low-competition market, and you definitely won’t rank if you’re missing that foundation, no matter how many links you have.

This year I added a section to try to get a sense of what the local search experts consider foundational factors and what they consider to be competitive difference-makers. Here are the top 5 in these two categories:

Foundational

Competitive Difference Makers

#1

Proper GMB Category Associations

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to Domain

#2

Consistency of Citations on the Primary Data Sources

Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Industry-Relevant Domains

#3

Physical Address in City of Search

Quality/Authority of Inbound Links to GMB Landing Page URL

#4

Proximity of Address to the Point of Search (Searcher-Business Distance)

Quantity of Inbound Links to Domain from Locally Relevant Domains

#5

Consistency of Citations on Tier 1 Citation Sources

Quantity of Native Google Reviews (with text)

I love how you can look at just these 10 factors and pretty much extract the basics of how to rank in local:

“You need to have a physical location in the city you’re trying to rank in, and it’s helpful for it to be close to the searcher. Then, make sure to have the proper categories associated with your listing, and get your citations built out and consistent on the most important sites. Now, to really move the needle, focus on getting links and reviews.”

This is the much over-simplified version, of course, so I suggest you dive into the full survey results for all the juicy details. The amount of commentary from participants is double what it was in 2015, and it’s jam-packed with nuggets of wisdom. Well worth your time.

Got your coffee? Ready to dive in?

Take a look at the full results

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Win a trip to Magento Imagine 2017

 

In its sixth year, Magento’s Imagine brings together over 2,500 commerce experts including merchants, agencies and technology providers from all over the world. Be inspired by the world’s brightest experts and visionaries, entrepreneurs, authors and adventurers. All while collaborating with executives, marketers, merchandisers, developers and commerce visionaries – and did we mention you get to do this poolside?

 

 

This year, dotmailer wants to send YOU to Imagine. Magento developers are a huge part of the Magento community and you deserve a chance to be in the room (or rooms) where it happens. Don’t miss this chance to enter to win a round-trip flight, luxury accommodation at the Wynn, and an exclusive full conference pass to Magento Imagine 2017, taking place from 2-5 April in Las Vegas.

We here at dotmailer believe the Magento developers community #RealMagento should be front and center (or networking poolside).

Enter for your chance to win! All online entries must be received by 10 March, 2017 11:59PM EST.

Please note that this competition is only open to Magento developers based in the United States; you can read the full terms and conditions here.

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