A Vision for Brand Engagement Online, or "The Goal"

Posted by EricEnge

Today’s post focuses on a vision for your online presence. This vision outlines what it takes to be the best, both from an overall reputation and visibility standpoint, as well as an SEO point of view. The reason these are tied together is simple: Your overall online reputation and visibility is a huge factor in your SEO. Period. Let’s start by talking about why.

Core ranking signals

For purposes of this post, let’s define three cornerstone ranking signals that most everyone agrees on:

Links

Links remain a huge factor in overall ranking. Both Cyrus Shepard and Marcus Tober re-confirmed this on the Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors session at the SMX Advanced conference in Seattle this past June.

On-page content

On-page content remains a huge factor too, but with some subtleties now thrown in. I wrote about some of this in earlier posts I did on Moz about Term Frequency and Inverse Document Frequency. Suffice it to say that on-page content is about a lot more than pure words on the page, but also includes the supporting pages that you link to.

User engagement with your site

This is not one of the traditional SEO signals from the early days of SEO, but most advanced SEO pros that I know consider it a real factor these days. One of the most popular concepts people talk about is called pogo-sticking, which is illustrated here:

You can learn more about the pogosticking concept by visiting this Whiteboard Friday video by a rookie SEO with a last name of Fishkin.

New, lesser-known signals

OK, so these are the more obvious signals, but now let’s look more broadly at the overall web ecosystem and talk about other types of ranking signals. Be warned that some of these signals may be indirect, but that just doesn’t matter. In fact, my first example below is an indirect factor which I will use to demonstrate why whether a signal is direct or indirect is not an issue at all.

Let me illustrate with an example. Say you spend $1 billion dollars building a huge brand around a product that is massively useful to people. Included in this is a sizable $100 million dollar campaign to support a highly popular charitable foundation, and your employees regularly donate time to help out in schools across your country. In short, the great majority of people love your brand.

Do you think this will impact the way people link to your site? Of course it does. Do you think it will impact how likely people are to be satisified with quality of the pages of your site? Consider this A/B test scenario of 2 pages from different “brands” (for the one on the left, imagine the image of Coca Cola or Pepsi Cola, whichever one you prefer):

Do you think that the huge brand will get a benefit of a doubt on their page that the no-name brand does not even though the pages are identical? Of course they will. Now let’s look at some simpler scenarios that don’t involve a $1 billion investment.

1. Cover major options related to a product or service on “money pages”

Imagine that a user arrives on your auto parts site after searching on the phrase “oil filter” at Google or Bing. Chances are pretty good that they want an oil filter, but here are some other items they may also want:

  • A guide to picking the right filter for their car
  • Oil
  • An oil filter wrench
  • A drainage pan to drain the old oil into

This is just the basics, right? But, you would be surprised with how many sites don’t include links or information on directly related products on their money pages. Providing this type of smart site and page design can have a major impact on user engagement with the money pages of your site.

2. Include other related links on money pages

In the prior item we covered the user’s most directly related needs, but they may have secondary needs as well. Someone who is changing a car’s oil is either a mechanic or a do-it-yourself-er. What else might they need? How about other parts, such as windshield wipers or air filters?

These are other fairly easy maintenance steps for someone who is working on their car to complete. Presence of these supporting products could be one way to improve user engagement with your pages.

3. Offer industry-leading non-commercial content on-site

Publishing world-class content on your site is a great way to produce links to your site. Of course, if you do this on a blog on your site, it may not provide links directly to your money pages, but it will nonetheless lift overall site authority.

In addition, if someone has consumed one or more pieces of great content on your site, the chance of their engaging in a more positive manner with your site overall go way up. Why? Because you’ve earned their trust and admiration.

4. Be everywhere your audiences are with more high-quality, relevant, non-commercial content

Are there major media sites that cover your market space? Do they consider you to be an expert? Will they quote you in articles they write? Can you provide them with guest posts or let you be a guest columnist? Will they collaborate on larger content projects with you?

All of these activities put you in front of their audiences, and if those audiences overlap with yours, this provides a great way to build your overall reputation and visibility. This content that you publish, or collaborate on, that shows up on 3rd-party sites will get you mentions and links. In addition, once again, it will provide you with a boost to your branding. People are now more likely to consume your other content more readily, including on your money pages.

5. Leverage social media

The concept here shares much in common with the prior point. Social media provides opportunities to get in front of relevant audiences. Every person that’s an avid follower of yours on a social media site is more likely to show very different behavior characteristics interacting with your site than someone that does not know you well at all.

Note that links from social media sites are nofollowed, but active social media behavior can lead to people implementing “real world” links to your site that are followed, from their blogs and media web sites.

6. Be active in the offline world as well

Think your offline activity doesn’t matter online? Think again. Relationships are still most easily built face-to-face. People you meet and spend time with can well become your most loyal fans online. This is particularly important when it comes to building relationships with influential people.

One great way to do that is to go to public events related to your industry, such as conferences. Better still, obtain speaking engagements at those conferences. This can even impact people who weren’t there to hear you speak, as they become aware that you have been asked to do that. This concept can also work for a small local business. Get out in your community and engage with people at local events.

The payoff here is similar to the payoff for other items: more engaged, highly loyal fans who engage with you across the web, sending more and more positive signals, both to other people and to search engines, that you are the real deal.

7. Provide great customer service/support

Whatever your business may be, you need to take care of your customers as best you can. No one can make everyone happy, that’s unrealistic, but striving for much better than average is a really sound idea. Having satisfied customers saying nice things about you online is a big impact item in the grand scheme of things.

8. Actively build relationships with influencers too

While this post is not about the value of influencer relationships, I include this in the list for illustration purposes, for two reasons:

  1. Some opportunities are worth extra effort. Know of someone who could have a major impact on your business? Know that they will be at a public event in the near future? Book your plane tickets and get your butt out there. No guarantee that you will get the result you are looking for, or that it will happen quickly, but your chances go WAY up if you get some face time with them.
  2. Influencers are worth special attention and focus, but your relationship-building approach to the web and SEO is not only about influencers. It’s about the entire ecosystem.

It’s an integrated ecosystem

The web provides a level of integrated, real-time connectivity of a kind that the world has never seen before. This is only going to increase. Do something bad to a customer in Hong Kong? Consumers in Boston will know within 5 minutes. That’s where it’s all headed.

Google and Bing (and any future search engine that may emerge) want to measure these types of signals because they tell them how to improve the quality of the experience on their platforms. There are may ways they can perform these measurements.

One simple concept is covered by Rand in this recent Whiteboard Friday video. The discussion is about a recent patent granted to Google that shows how the company can use search queries to detect who is an authority on a topic.

The example he provides is about people who search on “email finding tool”. If Google also finds that a number of people search on “voila norbert email tool”, Google may use that as an authority signal.

Think about that for a moment. How are you going to get people to search on your brand more while putting it together with a non-branded querly like that? (OK, please leave Mechanical Turk and other services like that out of the discussion).

Now you can start to see the bigger picture. Measurements like pogosticking and this recent search behavior related patent are just the tip of the iceberg. Undoubtedly, there are many other ways that search engines can measure what people like and engage with the most.

This is all part of SEO now. UX, product breadth, problem solving, UX, engaging in social media, getting face to face, creating great content that you publish in front of other people’s audiences, and more.

For the small local business, you can still win at this game, as your focus just needs to be on doing it better than your competitors. The big brands will never be hyper-local like you are, so don’t think you can’t play the game, because you can.

Whoever you are, get ready, because this new integrated ecosystem is already upon us, and you need to be a part of it.

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Reblogged 4 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it

Announcing the 2015 Online Marketing Industry Survey

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

We’re very excited to announce the
2015 Online Marketing Industry Survey is ready. This is the fifth edition of the survey, which started in 2008 as the SEO Industry Survey, and has also been known as the Moz Industry Survey. Some of what we hope to learn and share:

  • Demographics: Who is practicing inbound marketing and SEO today? Where do we work and live?
  • Agencies vs. in-house vs. other: How are agencies growing? What’s the average size? Who is doing inbound marketing on their own?
  • Tactics and strategies: What’s working for people today? How have strategies and tactics evolved?
  • Tools and technology: What are marketers using to discover opportunities, promote themselves, and measure the results?
  • Budget and spending: What tools and platforms are marketers investing in?


This year’s survey was redesigned to be easier and only
take less than 10 minutes. When the results are in we’ll share the data freely with you and the rest of the world, along with the insights we’ve gleaned from it.

Survey importance

By comparing answers and predictions from one year to the next, we can spot trends and gain insight not easily reported through any other source. This is our best chance to understand exactly where the future of our industry is headed.

Every year the Industry Survey delivers new insights and surprises. For example, the chart below (from the 2014 survey) lists
average reported salary by role.

One of the data points we hope to discover is if these numbers go up or down for 2015.

Prizes. Oh, fabulous prizes.

It wouldn’t be the Industry Survey without a few excellent prizes thrown in as an added incentive.

This year we’ve upped the game with prizes we feel are both exciting and perfect for the busy inbound marketer. To see the full sweepstakes terms and rules,
go to our sweepstakes rules page. The winners will be announced by June 15th. Follow us on Twitter to stay up to date.

Grand Prize: Attend MozCon 2015 in Seattle

Once again, the Grand Prize includes one ticket to
MozCon 2015 plus airfare and accommodations. This is your chance to see greats like Wil Reynolds, Cindy Krum, Rand Fishkin and more over 3 days in Seattle. Plus experience lots of networking and social events. Moz is also covering the cost of the flight plus hotel room.

2 First Prizes: Apple Watch

Shhhhhh! Because we’re giving away two Apple Watches. These aren’t available to the general public yet, which make them mysteriously awesome.

10 Second Prizes: $50 Amazon.com gift cards

Yep, 10 lucky people will win $50 Amazon.com gift cards. Why not buy yourself a
nice book? Maybe 
this one?

Help with sharing!

The number of people who take the survey is very important!
The more people who take the survey, the better and more accurate the data will be, and the more insight we can share with the industry.

So please share with your co-workers. Share on social media. Share with your email lists. You can use the buttons below this post to get you started, but remember
to take the survey first!

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 4 years ago from tracking.feedpress.it

The Future of Link Building

Posted by Paddy_Moogan

Building the types of links that help grow your online business and organic search traffic is getting harder. It used to be fairly straightforward, back before Google worked out how to treat links with different levels of quality and trust. However, the fact that it’s getting harder doesn’t mean that it’s dead.

What does the future hold?

I’m going to talk about links, but the truth is, the future isn’t really about the links. It is far bigger than that.

Quick sidenote: I’m aware that doing a blog post about the future of link building the week of a likely Penguin update could leave me with egg on my face! But we’ll see what happens.

Links will always be a ranking factor in some form or another. I can see the dials being turned down or off on certain aspects of links (more on that below) but I think they will always be there. Google is always looking for more data, more signals, more indicators of whether or not a certain page is a good result for a user at a certain moment in time. They will find them too, as we can see from
patents such as this. A natural consequence is that other signals may be diluted or even replaced as Google becomes smarter and understands the web and users a lot better.

What this means for the future is that the links valued by Google will be the ones you get as a result of having a great product and great marketing. Essentially, links will be symptomatic of amazing marketing. Hat tip to
Jess Champion who I’ve borrowed this term from.

This isn’t easy, but it shouldn’t be. That’s the point.

To go a bit further, I think we also need to think about the bigger picture. In the grand scheme of things, there are so many more signals that Google can use which, as marketers, we need to understand and use to our advantage. Google is changing and we can’t bury our heads in the sand and ignore what is going on.

A quick side note on spammy links

My background is a spammy one so I can’t help but address this quickly. Spam will continue to work for short-term hits and churn and burn websites. I’ve talked before about 
my position on this so I won’t go into too much more detail here. I will say though that those people who are in the top 1% of spammers will continue to make money, but even for them, it will be hard to maintain over a long period of time.

Let’s move onto some more of the detail around my view of the future by first looking at the past and present.

What we’ve seen in the past

Google didn’t understand links.

The fundamental issue that Google had for a long, long time was that they didn’t understand enough about links. They didn’t understand things such as:

  • How much to trust a link
  • Whether a link was truly editorially given or not
  • Whether a link was paid for or not
  • If a link was genuinely high quality (PageRank isn’t perfect)
  • How relevant a link was

Whilst they still have work to do on all of these, they have gotten much better in recent years. At one time, a link was a link and it was pretty much a case of whoever had the most links, won. I think that for a long time, Google was trying very hard to understand links and find which ones were high quality, but there was so much noise that it was very difficult. I think that eventually they realised that they had to attack the problem from a different angle and 
Penguin came along. So instead of focusing on finding the “good” signals of links, they focused on finding the “bad” signals and started to take action on them. This didn’t fix everything, but it did enough to shock our industry into moving away from certain tactics and therefore, has probably helped reduce a lot of the noise that Google was seeing.

What we’re seeing right now

Google is understanding more about language.

Google is getting better at understanding everything.
Hummingbird was just the start of what Google hopes to achieve on this front and it stands to reason that the same kind of technology that helps the following query work, will also help Google understand links better.

Not many people in the search industry said much when
Google hired this guy back in 2012. We can be pretty sure that it’s partly down to his work that we’re seeing the type of understanding of language that we are. His work has only just begun, though, and I think we’ll see more queries like the one above that just shouldn’t work, but they do. I also think we’ll see more instances of Googlers not knowing why something ranks where it does.

Google is understanding more about people.

I talk about this a little more below but to quickly summarise here, Google is learning more about us all the time. It can seem creepy, but the fact is that Google wants as much data as possible from us so that they can serve more relevant search results—and advertising of course. They are understanding more that the keywords we type into Google may not actually be what we want to find, nor are those keywords enough to find what we really want. Google needs more context.

Tom Anthony has
talked about this extensively so I won’t go into loads more detail. But to bring it back to link building, it is important to be aware of this because it means that there are more and more signals that could mean the dial on links gets turned down a bit more.

Some predictions about the future

I want to make a few things more concrete about my view of the future for link building, so let’s look at a few specifics.

1. Anchor text will matter less and less

Anchor text as a ranking signal was always something that works well in theory but not in reality. Even in my early days of link building, I couldn’t understand why Google put so much weight behind this one signal. My main reason for this view was that using exact match keywords in a link was not natural for most webmasters. I’d go as far as to say the only people who used it were SEOs!

I’m don’t think we’re at a point yet where anchor text as a ranking signal is dead and it will take some more time for Google to turn down the dial. But we definitely are at a point where you can get hurt pretty badly if you have too much commercial anchor text in your link profile. It just isn’t natural.

In the future, Google won’t need this signal. They will be much better at understanding the content of a page and importantly, the context of a page.

2. Deep linking will matter less and less

I was on the fence about this one for a long time but the more I think about it, the more I can see this happening. I’ll explain my view here by using an example.

Let’s imagine you’re an eCommerce website and you sell laptops. Obviously each laptop you sell will have its own product page and if you sell different types, you’ll probably have category pages too. With a products like laptops, chances are that other retailers sell the same ones with the same specifications and probably have very similar looking pages to yours. How does Google know which one to rank better than others?

Links to these product pages can work fine but in my opinion, is a bit of a crude way of working it out. I think that Google will get better at understanding the subtle differences in queries from users which will naturally mean that deep links to these laptop pages will be one of many signals they can use.

Take these queries:


“laptop reviews”

Context: I want to buy a laptop but I don’t know which one.


“asus laptop reviews”

Context: I like the sound of Asus, I want to read more about their laptops.


“sony laptop reviews”

Context: I also like the sound of Sony, I want to read more about their laptops.


“sony vs asus laptop”

Context: I’m confused, they both sound the same so I want a direct comparison to help me decide.


“asus laptop”

Context: I want an Asus laptop.

You can see how the mindset of the user has changed over time and we can easily imagine how the search results will have changed to reflect this. Google already understand this. There are other signals coming into play here too though, what about these bits of additional information that Google can gather about us:

  • Location: I’m on a bus in London, I may not want to buy a £1,000 laptop right now but I’ll happily research them.
  • Device: I’m on my iPhone 6, I may not want to input credit card details into it and I worry that the website I’m using won’t work well on a small screen.
  • Search history: I’ve searched for laptops before and visited several retailers, but I keep going back to the same one as I’ve ordered from them before.

These are just a few that are easy for us to imagine Google using. There are loads more that Google could look at, not to mention signals from the retailers themselves such as secure websites, user feedback, 3rd party reviews, trust signals etc.

When you start adding all of these signals together, it’s pretty easy to see why links to a specific product page may not be the strongest signal for Google to use when determining rankings.

Smaller companies will be able to compete more.

One of the things I loved about SEO when I first got into it was the fact that organic search felt like a level playing field. I knew that with the right work, I could beat massive companies in the search results and not have to spend a fortune doing it. Suffice to say, things have changed quite a bit now and there are some industries where you stand pretty much zero chance of competing unless you have a very big budget to spend and a great product.

I think we will see a shift back in the other direction and smaller companies with fewer links will be able to rank for certain types of queries with a certain type of context. As explained above, context is key and allows Google to serve up search results that meet the context of the user. This means that massive brands are not always going to be the right answer for users and Google have to get better at understanding this. Whether a company is classified as a “brand” or not can be subjective. My local craft beer shop in London is the only one in the world and if you were to ask 100 people if they’d heard of it, they’d all probably say no. But it’s a brand to me because I love their products, their staff are knowledgeable and helpful, their marketing is cool and I’d always recommend them.

Sometimes, showing the website of this shop above bigger brands in search results is the right thing to do for a user. Google need lots of additional signals beyond “branding” and links in order to do this but I think they will get them.

What all of this means for us

Predicting the future is hard, knowing what to do about it is pretty hard too! But here are some things that I think we should be doing.

  1. Ask really hard questions
    Marketing is hard. If you or your client wants to compete and win customers, then you need to be prepared to ask really hard questions about the company. Here are just a few that I’ve found difficult when talking to clients:

    • Why does the company exist? (A good answer has nothing to do with making money)
    • Why do you deserve to rank well in Google?
    • What makes you different to your competitors?
    • If you disappeared from Google tomorrow, would anyone notice?
    • Why do you deserve to be linked to?
    • What value do you provide for users?

    The answers to these won’t always give you that silver bullet, but they can provoke conversations that make the client look inwardly and at why they should deserve links and customers. These questions are hard to answer, but again, that’s the point.

  2. Stop looking for scalable link building tactics

    Seriously, just stop. Anything that can be scaled tends to lose quality and anything that scales is likely to be targeted by the Google webspam team at some point. A
    recent piece of content we did at Distilled has so far generated links from over 700 root domains—we did NOT send 700 outreach emails! This piece took on a life of its own and generated those links after some promotion by us, but at no point did we worry about scaling outreach for it.

  3. Start focusing on doing marketing that users love

    I’m not talking necessarily about you doing the next
    Volvo ad or to be the next Old Spice guy. If you can then great, but these are out of reach for most of us.That doesn’t mean you can’t do marketing that people love. I often look at companies like Brewdog and Hawksmoor who do great marketing around their products but in a way that has personality and appeal. They don’t have to spend millions of dollars on celebrities or TV advertising because they have a great product and a fun marketing message. They have value to add which is the key, they don’t need to worry about link building because they get them naturally by doing cool stuff.

    Whilst I know that “doing cool stuff” isn’t particularly actionable, I still think it’s fair to say that marketing needs to be loved. In order to do marketing that people love, you need to have some fun and focus on adding value.

  4. Don’t bury your head in the sand

    The worst thing you can do is ignore the trends and changes taking place. Google is changing, user expectations and behaviours are changing, our industry is changing. As an industry, we’ve adapted very well over the last few years. We have to keep doing this if we’re going to survive.

    Going back to link building, you need to accept that this stuff is really hard and building the types of links that Google value is hard.

In summary

Links aren’t going anywhere. But the world is changing and we have to focus on what truly matters: marketing great products and building a loyal audience. 

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 years ago from feedproxy.google.com

Back to Fundamentals: 6 Untapped Keyword Sources that Will Boost Organic Traffic

Posted by neilpatel

I used to perform keyword research in the typical, perfunctory way—go to the Keyword Tool, type in some words, and punch out a list of terms.

Easy. Quick. Simple.

Today, things are different. The much-loved
keyword tool has been replaced, long-tail keywords have the ascendancy, and it’s harder to figure out what users are actually searching for.

The rules have changed, and so have the ways of playing the game. I still use the
Keyword Planner, but I’ve also discovered a medley of not-so-obvious ways to get keywords that improve my organic traffic.

1. Wikipedia

Do you think of Wikipedia as just a massive encyclopedia? Think again.
I use Wikipedia for keyword research.

Image from Search Engine Journal.

My process is pretty simple.

Step 1: Google inurl:Wikipedia and my topic. Or just Google the topic or head term. Wikipedia is often the first organic result.

Step 2: Look at the SERP to identify the most relevant terms and possible keywords within a Wikipedia entry.

Step 3: Open the entry in Wikipedia and identify the most relevant terms from the first few paragraphs, morphing them into longail iterations.

Step 4: Identify other relevant terms from Wikipedia’s table of contents on the topic.

Step 5: Link to other associated Wikipedia to see related subjects, and identify even more keywords.

Wikipedia is the world’s
sixth most popular website, and ranks it at number #4 on Google’s list. It boasts 310,000,000 unique visitors (20% of its traffic), and has 7,900,000,000 pageviews. All of this with absolutely no advertising.

In other words, Wikipedia has one of the best organic SEO strategies on the planet. Obviously, these are keywords that matter. Wikipedia’s popularity shows us that people want information. It’s like the greatest content marketing strategy ever, combining user-generated content with prolific publishing on a grand scale.

Do what Wikipedia does. Use the terms that people search for. You won’t outrank Wikipedia, but you will start to rank organically for the longtail varieties that you discern from Wikipedia.

2. Google autocomplete

When you type stuff into Google’s search bar, Google predicts your query and types it out for you. The feature has been around
for a long time. The more time that goes by, the more intelligent the autocomplete algorithm becomes.

These autocomplete suggestions are all based on real user queries. They vary based on geographic location and language. However, in spite of the variation, autocomplete provides a fairly accurate representation of what people are looking for.

Here is why autocomplete is a killer source of keywords:

Step 1: It indicates some of the most popular keywords.

Step 2: It provides longtail suggestions.

Step 3: The keywords are ranked according to the “freshness layer” algorithm. That means that currently popular search terms will rank higher in the autocomplete list.

How do you use autocomplete for keyword research? Well, you can go about this the good old-fashioned spade and shovel way, like this:

Google 2014-08-11 13-50-24

Step 4: Open Google. To prevent Google from autocompleting previously-searched for terms, log out of Google or open an “incognito” window (Chrome: Shift + Cmnd + N).

Step 5: Type in your main keyword or longtail keyword E.g. “lawnmower.”

Step 6: Write down the suggestions that appear in autocomplete.

Step 7: After you type in your main keyword or head term, type in “A” and write down the autocomplete suggestions.

Step 8: Repeat Step 7 for rest of the alphabet.

Or, you can do it the easy way, with Übersuggest. It’s called”suggest on steroids.” It will do all the work for you. The only downside is that it doesn’t suggest keyword extensions based on search popularity.

Keyword suggestion tool — Google suggest scraper — Übersuggest 2014-08-11 13-53-48

If you can get past the eye-popping UI, Übersuggest is a pretty awesome tool.

Keep in mind that Google is not going to provide suggestions for everything.
As quoted in Search Engine Land, here is what the algorithm will filter out:

  • Hate- or violence-related suggestions
  • Personally identifiable information in suggestions
  • Porn & adult content-related suggestions
  • Legally mandated removals
  • Piracy-related suggestions

3. Google Related Searches

Since Google is the biggest search engine, we’ve got to take our cues from its mighty algorithm, imperfect and agonizing though it may be.

Google’s related searches is a really easy way to snag some instant keyword research.


Step 1:
Search for your keyword in Google.


Step 2:
Scroll to the bottom, and ignore everything in between.

There, at the bottom is a harvest of keywords, ripe for the selection:

lawn mower - Google Search 2014-08-11 14-05-22

The idea is similar to Google suggest. However, instead of providing autocomplete suggestions, Google takes the keyword and mixes it up with other words. These other words may be at the end, at the beginning, or sprinkled throughout. These related searches might not even include the actual keyword, but are simply connected in a tangential way.

Whatever the case, you will undoubtedly find some keyword ideas from this list.

4. MetaGlossary.com

Not a whole lot of people know about MetaGlossary.com. You won’t find a lot of information about the company itself, but you will find a ton of keyword ideas.

Here are the instructions. Not too hard.

MetaGlossary.com 2014-08-11 14-53-43

The whole point of the glossary is to provide definitions. But along with the many definitions, you’ll get “related terms.” That’s what we’re looking for.

When I type in “Search Engine Optimization,” my head term, here’s what I get:

Metaglossary.com - Definitions for "search engine optimization" 2014-08-11 14-56-26

All of those are potential keywords.

I can take this a step further by looking through the definitions. These can provide even more keyword fodder:

Metaglossary.com - Definitions for "search engine optimization" 2014-08-11 14-57-28

For this particular term, I found 117 definitions. That’s enough to keep me busy for a while.

5. Competitor keywords

Another great way to get keyword ideas is to snag them from the competition.

Not only are you going to identify some great keywords, but you’ll be able to gain these keywords ideas from the top-ranking organic sites in the SERPs.

Here’s how to do it.

Step 1: Google your top keyword.

Step 2: Click the first organic result.

Step 3: View the page source (Chrome: Cmnd + Alt + u)

Step 4: Search for “<Title>”. Identify any non-branded terms as possible keywords.

Step 5: Search for “<h1>”. Identify any potential keywords in the H1 text.

Step 6: Search for “<keywords>”. Identify any potential keywords that they have identified as such. Some websites have this, such as specific WordPress themed sites, or WP sites using an SEO plugin. Most websites don’t.

Step 7: Look at all the content and locate any additional longtail keywords or keyword variations.

The competitors that are first in the SERP for a given head term or longtail query are ranking high for a variety of reasons. One of those reasons is their keyword selection. Sure, they may have good link profiles, but you can’t rank for a keyword unless you actually have that keyword (or some variation thereof) on your page.

6. Amazon.com

Amazon.com is king of the ecommerce jungle, no questions asked.

Part of their power is that they have total domination of the organic search results for just about any purchase-related keyword. When your audience circles closer to a transactional search query, Amazon is ranking somewhere.

Why? They’ve got keywords—lots of them. And they have reviews—lots of them. This means one thing for you: Lots of keywords ideas.

Let me make a quick clarification. Not everyone is going to find keyword ideas on Amazon. This works best if you have a physical products, and obviously only if Amazon sells it.

Here’s how to skim the cream off of Amazon’s great keywords.

Step 1: Google your keyword.

Step 2: Locate the Amazon entry in the SERP.

Step 3: Click on the result to see the product/landing page on Google.

Step 4: Locate keywords in the following places.

-“Show results for” menu

-Main header

-Text underneath main header

-“## Results for” text.

-Breadcrumb

-Items listed

Here’s a quick survey of where you can find these keywords. Notice the highlighted text.

Amazon.com: Bags & Cases: Electronics: Sleeves & Slipcases, Messenger Bags, Shoulder Bags, Backpacks & More 2014-08-11 14-28-16

You’ll find even more keywords once you dive into individual products.

Pay special attention to these areas on product pages:

-“Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought”

-“Product Description”

-“Product Ads from External Websites”

-“Customer Questions & Answers.” You’ll find some nice query-like longtail keywords here.

-“Customer Reviews.” Again, this is a great source of longtails.

Let Amazon be your guide. They’re the biggest e-retailer around, and they have some great keyword clout going for them.

Conclusion

Keyword research is a basic skill for any SEO. The actual process of finding those keywords, however, does not require expensive tools, formula-driven methods, or an extremely limited pool of options.

I’ve used each of these methods for myself and my clients with incredible success.


What is your favorite source for finding great keywords? 

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What Happened after Google Pulled Author and Video Snippets: A Moz Case Study

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

In the past 2 months Google made
big changes to its search results

Webmasters saw disappearing 
Google authorship photos, reduced video snippets, changes to local packs and in-depth articles, and more.

Here at Moz, we’ve closely monitored our own URLs to measure the effect of these changes on our actual traffic.
The results surprised us.

Authorship traffic—surprising results

In the early days of authorship, many webmasters worked hard to get their photo in Google search results. I confess, I doubt anyone worked harder at author snippets
than me

Search results soon became crowded with smiling faces staring back at us. Authors hired professional photographers. Publishers worked to correctly follow Google’s guidelines to set up authorship for thousands of authors.

The race for more clicks was on.

Then on June 28th,
Google cleared the page. No more author photos. 

To gauge the effect on traffic, we examined eight weeks’ worth of data from Google Analytics and Webmaster Tools, before and after the change. We then examined our top 15 authorship URLs (where author photos were known to show consistently) compared to non-authorship URLs. 

The results broke down like this:

Change in Google organic traffic to Moz

  • Total Site:  -1.76%
  • Top 15 Non-Authorship URLs:  -5.96%
  • Top 15 Authorship URLs:  -2.86%

Surprisingly,
authorship URLs performed as well as non-authorship URLs in terms of traffic. Even though Moz was highly optimized for authors, traffic didn’t significantly change.

On an individual level, things looked much different. We actually observed big changes in traffic with authorship URLs increasing or decreasing in traffic by as much as 45%. There is no clear pattern: Some went up, some went down—exactly like any URL would over an extended time.

Authorship photos don’t exist in a vacuum; each photo on the page competed for attention with all the other photos on the page.
Each search result is as unique as a fingerprint. What worked for one result didn’t work for another.

Consider what happens visually when multiple author photos exist in the same search result:

One hypothesis speculates that more photos has the effect of drawing eyes down the page. In the absence of rich snippets, search click-through rates might follow more closely studied models, which dictate that
results closer to the top earn more clicks.

In the absence of author photos, it’s likely click-through rate expectations have once again become more standardized.

Video snippets: a complex tale

Shortly after Google removed author photos, they took aim at video snippets as well. On July 17th,
MozCast reported a sharp decline in video thumbnails.

Most sites, Moz included, lost
100% of their video results. Other sites appeared to be “white-listed” as reported by former Mozzer Casey Henry at Wistia. 

A few of the sites Casey found where Google continues to show video thumbnails:

  • youtube.com
  • vimeo.com
  • vevo.com
  • ted.com
  • today.com
  • discovery.com

Aside from these “giants,” most webmasters, even very large publishers at the top of the industry, saw their video snippets vanish in search results.

How did this loss affect traffic for our URLs with embedded videos? Fortunately, here at Moz we have a large collection of ready-made video URLs we could easily study: our
Whiteboard Friday videos, which we produce every, well, Friday. 

To our surprise, most URLs actually saw more traffic.

On average, our Whiteboard Friday videos saw a
10% jump in organic traffic after losing video snippets.

A few other with video saw
dramatic increases:

The last example, the Learn SEO page, didn’t have an actual video on it, but a bug with Google caused them to display an older video thumbnail. (Several folks we’ve talked to speculate that Google removed video snippets simply to clean up their bugs in the system)

We witnessed a significant increase in traffic after losing video snippets. How did this happen? 

Did Google change the way they rank and show video pages?

It turns out that many of our URLs that contained videos also saw a significant change in the number of search
impressions at the exact same time.

According to Google, impressions for the majority of our video URLs shot up dramatically around July 14th.

Impressions for Whiteboard Friday URLs also rose 20% during this time. For Moz, most of the video URLs saw many more impressions, but for others, it appears rankings dropped.

While Moz saw video impressions rise,
other publishers saw the opposite effect.

Casey Henry, our friend at video hosting company
Wistia, reports seeing rankings drop for many video URLs that had thin or little content.

“…it’s only pages hosting video with thin content… the pages that only had video and a little bit of text went down.”


Casey Henry

For a broader perspective, we talked to
Marshall Simmonds, founder of Define Media Group, who monitors traffic to millions of daily video pageviews for large publishers. 

Marshall found that despite the fact that
most of the sites they monitor lost video snippets, they observed no visible change in either traffic or pageviews across hundreds of millions of visits.

Define Media Group also recently released its
2014 Mid-Year Digital Traffic Report which sheds fascinating light on current web traffic trends.

What does it all mean?

While we have anecdotal evidence of ranking and impression changes for video URLs on individual sites, on the grand scale across all Google search results these differences aren’t visible.

If you have video content, the evidence suggests it’s now worth more than ever to follow
video SEO best practices: (taken from video SEO expert Phil Nottingham)

  • Use a crawlable player (all the major video hosting platforms use these today)
  • Surround the video with supporting information (caption files and transcripts work great)
  • Include schema.org video markup

SEO finds a way

For the past several years web marketers competed for image and video snippets, and it’s with a sense of sadness that they’ve been taken away.

The smart strategy follows the data, which suggest that more traditional click-through rate optimization techniques and strategies could now be more effective. This means strong titles, meta descriptions, rich snippets (those that remain), brand building and traditional ranking signals.

What happened to your site when Google removed author photos and video snippets? Let us know in the comments below.

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How To Tap Into Social Norms to Build a Strong Brand

Posted by bridget.randolph

In recent years there has been a necessary shift in the way businesses advertise themselves to consumers, thanks to the increasingly common information overload experienced by the average person.

In 1945, just after WWII, the
annual total ad spend in the United States was about $2.8 billion (that’s around $36.8 million before the adjustment for inflation). In 2013, it was around $140 billion.

Don’t forget that this is just paid media advertising; it doesn’t include the many types of earned coverage like search, social, email, supermarket displays, direct mail and so on. Alongside the growth in media spends is a growth in the sheer volume of products available, which is made possible by increasingly sophisticated technologies for sales, inventory, delivery and so on.

What does this mean? Well, simply that the strategy of ‘just buy some ads and sell the benefits’ isn’t enough anymore: you’ll be lost in the noise. How can a brand retain customers and create loyalty in an atmosphere where everyone else has a better offer? Through tapping into the psychology of social relationships.


Imagine that you are at home for Thanksgiving, and your mother has pulled out all the stops to lovingly craft the most delicious, intricate dinner ever known to man. You and your family have enjoyed a wonderful afternoon of socializing and snacking on leftovers and watching football, and now it’s time to leave. As you hug your parents goodbye, you take out your wallet. “How much do I owe you for all the love and time you put into this wonderful afternoon?” you ask. “$100 for the food? here, have $50 more as a thank you for the great hospitality!” How would your mother respond to such an offer? I don’t know about your mother, but my mom would be deeply offended.

New scenario: You’ve gone to a restaurant for Thanksgiving dinner. It’s the most delicious dinner you’ve ever had, the atmosphere is great with the football playing in the background, and best of all, your server is attentive, warm, and maternal. You feel right at home. At the end of the meal, you give her a hug and thank her for the delicious meal before leaving. She calls the cops and has you arrested for a dine-and-dash.

And herein lies the difference between social norms and market norms.

Social norms vs. market norms

The Thanksgiving dinner example is one which I’ve borrowed from a book by Dan Ariely,
Predictably Irrational: The Hidden Forces that Shape Our Decisions. Ariely discusses two ways in which humans interact: social norms and market norms.


Social norms
, as Ariely explains, “are wrapped up in our social nature and our need for community. They are usually warm and fuzzy. Instant paybacks are not required.” Examples would be: helping a friend move house, babysitting your grandchild, having your parents over for dinner. There is an implied reciprocity on some level but it is not instantaneous nor is it expected that the action will be repaid on a financial level. These are the sort of relationships and interactions we expect to have with friends and family.


Market norms
, on the other hand, are about the exchange of resources and in particular, money. Examples of this type of interaction would be any type of business transaction where goods or services are exchanged for money: wages, prices, rents, interest, and cost-and-benefit. These are the sort of relationships and interactions we expect to have with businesses.

I’ve drawn you a very rough illustration – it may not be the most aesthetically pleasing visual, but it gets the point across:

Market norms come into play any time money enters into the equation, sometimes counter-intuitively! Ariely gives the example of a group of lawyers who were approached by the AARP and asked whether they would provide legal services to needy retirees at a drastically discounted rate of $30/hour. The lawyers said no. From a market norms perspective, the exchange didn’t make sense. Later the same lawyers were asked whether they would consider donating their time free of charge to needy retirees. The vast majority of the lawyers said yes. The difference is that, when no money changes hands, the exchange shifts from a poor-value market exchange to an altruistic and therefore high-value social exchange. It is a strange psychological quirk that ‘once market norms enter our considerations, the social norms depart.’

Mixed signals: when social and market norms collide

In a book called
Positioning: The Battle for Your Mind by Al Ries and Jack Trout (originally published in 1981), the authors describe the 1950s as the ‘product era’ of advertising, when ‘advertising people focused their attention on product features and customer benefits.’ It was all about the unique selling proposition (USP).


In this case, the USP is mildness: “not one single case of throat irritation!” (image source)

However, as the sheer volume of products on the market increased, it became more difficult to sell a product simply by pointing out the benefits. As Ries and Trout put it, ‘Your “better mousetrap” was quickly followed by two more just like it. Both claiming to be better than the first one.’

They describe the next phase of advertising (which hit its peak in the 1960s and 70s and which we can probably all relate to if we watch Mad Men) as the ‘image era’, pioneered by David Ogilvy. In this period, successful campaigns sold the reputation, or ‘image’ of a brand and a product rather than its features. Ries and Trout quote Ogilvy as saying that ‘Every advertisement is a long-term investment in the image of a brand’. Examples include Hathaway shirts and Rolls-Royce.

Rather than the product benefits, this ad focuses on the ‘image’ of the man who smokes Viceroys: “Viceroy has a thinking man’s filter and a smoking man’s taste. (image source)

But yet again, as more and more brands imitate the strategy of these successful campaigns, the space gets more crowded and the consumer becomes more jaded and these techniques become less effective.

According to Ries and Trout, this brought the world of advertising into the ‘positioning era’ of the 80s, which is where they positioned (hehe) themselves. As they described this, “To succeed in our overcommunicated society, a company must create a position in the prospect’s mind, a position that takes into consideration not only a company’s own strengths and weaknesses, but those of its competitors as well.”

This one’s all about positioning Winston’s in opposition to competitors: as the brand with real taste, as opposed to other brands which ‘promise taste’ but fail to deliver. (image source)

And yet, despite this evolution of advertising strategy over the course of the 20th century, all of these different approaches are ultimately based on market norms. The ‘product era’ sells you features and benefits in exchange for money; the ‘image era’ sells you on an image and a lifestyle in exchange for money, and the ‘positioning era’ sells you on why a particular company is the right one to supply your needs in exchange for money.

Social norms and loyalty


When does cheap not win?
When it comes to social norms. Social norms are about relationships, community and loyalty. If your sister is getting married, you don’t do a cost benefit analysis to decide whether or not you should go to her wedding or whether the food will be better and the travel cheaper if you go to your next door neighbor’s BBQ instead. If anything, it’s the opposite: some people take it to such an extreme that they will go into massive debt to attend friends’ weddings and bring lavish gifts. That is certainly not a decision based on monetary considerations.

Therefore, if the average brand wants to get out of the vicious cycle of undercutting competitors in order to gain business, they need to start focusing on relationships and community building instead of ‘SUPER CHEAP BEST LOW LOW PRICES!!®’ and sneaky upsells at the point of sale. This is something my colleague
Tim Allen spoke about in a presentation called “Make Me Love Your Brand, Not Just Tolerate It”. And this is what a large number of recent ‘advertising success stories’ are based on and it’s the whole premise behind many of the more recent trends in marketing: email marketing, personalization, SMS marketing, good social media marketing, and so on.

Some of the most popular brands are the ones which are able to find the perfect balance between:

  • a friendly, warm relationship with customers and potential customers, which also often includes a fun, personal tone of voice (the ‘brand personality’) – in these interactions there is often an offering of something to the customer without an expectation of instant payback, and
  • a strong product which they offer at a good price with good ‘market’ benefits like free returns and so on.

One example of this is John Lewis, who have good customer service policies around returns etc but also offer free perks to their shoppers, like the maternity room where breastfeeding mothers can relax. One of my colleagues mentioned that, as a new mother, his girlfriend always prefers to shop at John Lewis over other competitor stores for that very reason. Now if this is purely a convenience factor for her, and after her child is older she stops shopping at John Lewis in favor of a cheaper option, you could argue that this is less of a social interaction and more market influenced (in some sense it serves as a service differentiator between JL and their customers). However, if after she no longer requires the service, she continues to shop there because she wants to reciprocate their past support of her as a breastfeeding mother, that pushes it more firmly into the realm of the social.

Another thing John Lewis do for their fans is the annual Christmas ad, which (much like the 
Coca-Cola Santa truck in the UK) has become something which people look forward to each year because it’s a heartwarming little story more than just an ad for a home and garden store. Their 2012 ad was my favorite (and a lot of other people’s too, with over 4.5 million Youtube views).

But usually anytime a brand ‘do something nice’ for no immediate monetary benefit, it counts as a ‘social’ interaction – a classic example is
Sainsbury’s response to the little girl who wrote to them about ‘tiger bread’.

Some of my other favorite examples of social norm interactions by brands are:

The catch is, you have to be careful and keep the ‘mix’ of social and market norms consistent.

Ariely uses the example of a bank when describing the danger of bringing social norms into a business relationship:

“What happens if a customer’s check bounces? If the relationship is based on market norms, the bank charges a fee, and the customer shakes it off. Business is business. While the fee is annoying, it’s nonetheless acceptable. In a social relationship, however, a hefty late fee–rather than a friendly call from the manager or an automatic fee waiver–is not only a relationship-killer; it’s a stab in the back. Consumers will take personal offense. They’ll leave the bank angry and spend hours complaining to their friends about this awful bank.”

Richard Fergie also summed this issue up nicely in this G+ post about the recent outrage over Facebook manipulating users’ emotions; in this case, the back-stab effect was due to the fact that the implicit agreement between the users and the company about what was being ‘sold’ and therefore ‘valued’ in the exchange changed without warning.


The basic rule of thumb is that whether you choose to emphasize market norms or social norms, you can’t arbitrarily change the rules.

A side note about social media and brands: Act like a normal person

In a time when
the average American aged 18-64 spends 2-3 hours a day on social media, it is only logical that we would start to see brands and the advertising industry follow suit. But if this is your only strategy for building relationships and interacting with your customers socially, it’s not good enough. Instead, in this new ‘relationship era’ of advertising (as I’ve just pretentiously dubbed it, in true Ries-and-Trout fashion), the brands who will successfully merge market and social norms in their advertising will be the brands which are able to develop the sort of reciprocal relationships that we see with our friends and family. I wrote a post over on the Distilled blog about what social media marketers can learn from weddings. That was just one example, but the TL;DR is: as a brand, you still need to use social media the way that normal people do. Otherwise you risk becoming a Condescending Corporate Brand on Facebook. On Twitter too.

Social norms and authenticity: Why you actually do need to care

Another way in which brands tap into social norms are through their brand values. My colleague
Hannah Smith talked about this in her post on The Future of Marketing. Moz themselves are a great example of a brand with strong values: for them it’s TAGFEE. Hannah also gives the examples of Innocent Drinks (sustainability), Patagonia (environmentalism) and Nike (whose strapline ‘Find Your Greatness’ is about their brand values of everyone being able to ‘achieve their own defining moment of greatness’).

Havas Media have been doing some interesting work around trying to ‘measure’ brand sentiment with something call the
‘Meaningful Brands Index’ (MBi), based on how much a brand is perceived as making a meaningful difference in people’s lives, both for personal wellbeing and collective wellbeing. Whether or not you like their approach, they have some interesting stats: apparently only 20% of brands worldwide are seen to ‘meaningfully positively impact peoples’ lives’, but the brands that rank high on the MBi also tend to outperform other brands significantly (120%).

Now there may be a ‘correlation vs causation’ argument here, and I don’t have space to explore it. But regardless of whether you like the MBi as a metric or not, countless case studies demonstrate that it’s valuable for a brand to have strong brand values.

There are two basic rules of thumb when it comes to choosing brand values:

1) I
t has to be relevant to what you do. If a bingo site is running an environmentalism campaign, it might seem a bit weird and it won’t resonate well with your audience. You also need to watch out for accidental irony. For example, McDonalds and Coca-Cola came in for some flak when they sponsored the Olympics, due to their reputation as purveyors of unhealthy food/drink products.

Nike’s #FindYourGreatness campaign, on the other hand, is a great example of how to tie in your values with your product. Another example is one of our clients at Distilled, SimplyBusiness, a business insurance company whose brand values include being ‘the small business champion’. This has informed their content strategy, leading them to develop in-depth resources for small businesses, and it has served them very well.

2) I
t can’t be so closely connected to what you do that it comes across as self-serving. For example, NatWest’s NatYes campaign claims to be about enabling people to become homeowners, but ultimately (in no small part thanks to the scary legal compliance small print about foreclosure) the authenticity of the message is undermined.

The most important thing when it comes to brand values: it’s very easy for people to be cynical about brands and whether they ‘care’. Havas did a survey that found that
only 32% of people feel that brands communicate honestly about commitments and promises. So choose values that you do feel strongly about and follow through even if it means potentially alienating some people. The recent OKCupid vs Mozilla Firefox episode is an illustration of standing up for brand values (regardless of where you stand on this particular example, it got them a lot of positive publicity).

Key takeaways

So what can we take away from these basic principles of social norms and market norms? If you want to build a brand based on social relationships, here’s 3 things to remember.

1)
Your brand needs to provide something besides just a low price. In order to have a social relationship with your customers, your brand needs a personality, a tone of voice, and you need to do nice things for your customers without the expectation of immediate payback.

2)
You need to keep your mix of social and market norms consistent at every stage of the customer lifecycle. Don’t pull the rug out from under your loyal fans by hitting them with surprise costs after they checkout or other tricks. And don’t give new customers significantly better benefits. What you gain in the short term you will lose in the long term resentment they will feel about having been fooled. Instead, treat them with transparency and fairness and be responsive to customer service issues.

3)
You need brand values that make sense for your brand and that you (personally and as a company) really believe in. Don’t have values that don’t relate to your core business. Don’t have values which are obviously self-serving. Don’t be accidentally ironic like McDonalds.

Have you seen examples of brands building customer relationships based on social norms? Did it work? Do you do this type of relationship-building for your brand?

I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.

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