Simply the Best: 2016’s Top Content from the Moz Blog

Posted by FeliciaCrawford

Now that we’ve comfortably settled into the first two weeks of 2017, it’s time to revive an annual Moz Blog tradition: the Best of 2016 is here!

I’ve carefully collected data on all the posts, comments, and commenters you remarkable readers liked the most this past year, compiling it all into one big, beautiful blog post. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, you’ll rue the day you ever downloaded Pocket. But as we commence our journey into the insights and revelations of yesteryear, my sincere hope is that you’ll feel inspired. That you’ll learn something new, or reflect on what’s changed. That you’ll tack a new task onto your bucket list (“Become a Moz Top Commenter” is way more hip than traveling to all 7 continents, people).

Flip on some classic Tina Turner to set the mood and join me as we sift through what you decided was simply the best of 2016.

Table of Contents

  1. Top posts by 1Metric score
  2. Top posts by unique visits
  3. Top YouMoz posts by unique visits
  4. Top posts by number of thumbs up
  5. Top posts by number of comments
  6. Top community comments by thumbs up
  7. Top commenters by total thumbs up
  8. New: Category-specific RSS feeds!

1. The top 10 posts according to our 1Metric score

1Metric is our handy-dandy internal metric that measures how well a piece of content is doing. There were quite a few high scores in 2016, with a clear, strong trend toward core SEO topics. You might notice some posts making it onto a few different lists — consider those the absolute must-reads, and make sure you didn’t miss anything big!

1. 8 Old School SEO Practices That Are No Longer Effective – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, April 29th
Are you guilty of living in the past? Using methods that were once tried-and-true can be alluring, but it can also prove dangerous to your search strategy. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out eight old school SEO practices that you should ditch in favor of more effective and modern alternatives.
2. My Single Best SEO Tip for Improved Web Traffic by Cyrus Shepard, January 27th
“If content is king, then the user is queen, and she rules the universe.” Are you focusing too much on the content, rather than the user? In his last post as a Mozzer, Cyrus Shepard offers his single greatest SEO tip for improving your web traffic.
3. On-Page SEO in 2016: The 8 Principles for Success – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, May 13th
On-page SEO is no longer a simple matter of checking things off a list. There’s more complexity to this process in 2016 than ever before, and the idea of “optimization” both includes and builds upon traditional page elements. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the eight principles you’ll need for on-page SEO success going forward.
1metric98.png
4. 301 Redirects Rules Change: What You Need to Know for SEO by Cyrus Shepard, August 1st
Google blew our minds when they said 3xx redirects no longer lose PageRank. Cyrus is here to give you the low-down on what this means for SEO.
1metric97.png
5. 10 Predictions for 2016 in SEO & Web Marketing by Rand Fishkin, January 5th
Rand examines the accuracy on his predictions for 2015 and, if he does well enough, taps into his psychic ability to predict 2016. Spoiler alert: He’s pretty accurate.
1metric97.png
6. 8 Rules for Choosing a Domain Name – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, July 15th
8 rules for choosing a domain name: Make it brandable, pronounceable, short, intuitive, bias to .com, avoid names that infringe on another company, use broad keywords, and if not available, modify.
1metric96.png
7. Can SEOs Stop Worrying About Keywords and Just Focus on Topics? – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, February 5th
Should you ditch keyword targeting entirely? There’s been a lot of discussion around the idea of focusing on broad topics and concepts to satisfy searcher intent, but it’s a big step to take and could potentially hurt your rankings. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses old-school keyword targeting and new-school concept targeting, outlining a plan of action you can follow to get the best of both worlds.
1metric96.png
8. Weird, Crazy Myths About Link Building in SEO You Should Probably Ignore – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, September 9th
From where to how to when, there are a number of erroneous claims about link building floating around the SEO world. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand sets the record straight on 8 of the more common claims he’s noticed lately.
1metric96.png
9. How Long Does Link Building Take to Influence Rankings? by Kristina Kledzik, August 21st
The eternal question: How much time does it take for a link to affect rankings? Kristina Kledzik breaks out the entire process from start to finish.
1metric95.png
10. SEO for Bloggers: How to Nail the Optimization Process for Your Posts – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, June 3rd
With the right process and a dose of patience, SEO success is always within reach — even if you’re running your own blog. Optimizing your blog posts begins as early as the inception of your idea, and from then on you’ll want to consider your keyword targeting, on-page factors, your intended audience, and more. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out a step-by-step process you can adopt to help increase search traffic to your blog over time.
1metric94.png

2. The top 10 blog posts by unique visits

Rand and his Whiteboard Fridays steal the show this year, with some fantastic cameos by our good friends Cyrus and Dr. Pete, and a promoted YouMoz post that’s worth its backlinks in gold.

One interesting thing to note: You really loved last year’s “Predictions for SEO” post. While 2016 was unpredictable on multiple levels, Rand still made the cut — be sure to check out his predictions for 2017, released just yesterday.

1. 8 Old School SEO Practices That Are No Longer Effective – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, April 29th
Are you guilty of living in the past? Using methods that were once tried-and-true can be alluring, but it can also prove dangerous to your search strategy. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out eight old school SEO practices that you should ditch in favor of more effective and modern alternatives.
blogvisits1.png
2. 8 Rules for Choosing a Domain Name – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, July 15th
8 rules for choosing a domain name: Make it brandable, pronounceable, short, intuitive, bias to .com, avoid names that infringe on another company, use broad keywords, and if not available, modify.
blogvisits2.png
3. My Single Best SEO Tip for Improved Web Traffic by Cyrus Shepard, January 27th
“If content is king, then the user is queen, and she rules the universe.” Are you focusing too much on the content, rather than the user? In his last post as a Mozzer, Cyrus Shepard offers his single greatest SEO tip for improving your web traffic.
blogvisits3.png
4. On-Page SEO in 2016: The 8 Principles for Success – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, May 13th
On-page SEO is no longer a simple matter of checking things off a list. There’s more complexity to this process in 2016 than ever before, and the idea of “optimization” both includes and builds upon traditional page elements. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the eight principles you’ll need for on-page SEO success going forward.
blogvisits4.png
5. Title Tag Length Guidelines: 2016 Edition by Dr. Pete, May 31st
Google is testing a wider left-column, and with it, wider display titles. We dig into the data to see how long your titles should be. TL;DR? Stick to under 60 characters.
blogvisits5.png
6. 301 Redirects Rules Change: What You Need to Know for SEO by Cyrus Shepard, August 1st
Google blew our minds when they said 3xx redirects no longer lose PageRank. Cyrus is here to give you the low-down on what this means for SEO.
blogvisits6.png
7. 10 Predictions for 2016 in SEO & Web Marketing by Rand Fishkin, January 5th
Rand examines the accuracy on his predictions for 2015 and, if he does well enough, taps into his psychic ability to predict 2016. Spoiler alert: He’s pretty accurate.
blogvisits7.png
8. How to Achieve 100/100 with the Google Page Speed Test Tool by Felix Tarcomnicu, April 3rd
The website loading speed is imperative for the overall user experience, and it’s also one of the hundreds of SEO ranking factors. The truth is that nowadays, people don’t have the patience to wait more than five seconds for a page to load. If your website is not loading fast enough, you will lose potential customers.
blogvisits8.png
9. Targeted Link Building in 2016 – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, January 29th
SEO has much of its roots in the practice of targeted link building. And while it’s no longer the only core component involved, it’s still a hugely valuable factor when it comes to rank boosting. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand goes over why targeted link building is still relevant today and how to develop a process you can strategically follow to success.
blogvisits9.png
10. How to Create 10x Content – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, March 18th
Have you ever actually tried to create 10x content? It’s not easy, is it? Knowing how and where to start can often be the biggest obstacle you’ll face. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about how good, unique content is going to die, and how you can develop your own 10x content to help it along.
blogvisits10.png

3. The top 10 YouMoz posts by unique visits

Late in 2016, we lost another old friend. And while YouMoz can’t claim to have sung the best song about an astronaut you’ll ever hear, we still loved it dearly while it was with us. Retiring our process for community contributions was a hard but ultimately necessary decision, and while we hope to have a newer, sleeker process in place someday, let’s take a moment to revisit the most popular posts from the final year of YouMoz.

1. How to Use Six Google Analytics Reports to Complete a Website Content Audit by Daniel Hochuli, February 18th
In this article, I will show you how a content audit with six important Google Analytics reports can help you make some smart decisions about the health of your current site, what your audience wants from your content, and how you can benchmark your performance for future content marketing efforts.
2. How to Find and Fix Structured Data Markup Errors via the Google Search Console by Al Gomez, April 7th
Make your content easier for the search bots to read by eliminating data markup errors from your website.
3. 5 Essential E-Commerce Rich Snippets for Your Store by Aleh Barysevich, February 2nd
When it comes to online marketing bang for your buck, rich snippets are hard to beat.
4. 5 YouTube Tools to Boost Your Content Marketing Efforts by Ann Smarty, March 3rd
YouTube marketing can be overwhelming. Ann Smarty shares her favorite video marketing tools that let you discover more opportunities and allow you to achieve better results.
5. Here’s How to Automate Google Analytics Reporting with Google Sheets by Gabriele Toninelli, February 25th
When it comes to automating your Google Analytics reporting, Google Sheets is your friend.
6. How to Perform an Image Optimization Audit by Ryan Ayres, January 20th
Have you made image optimization a priority for your website? If not, there’s no time like the present.
7. Here’s How My 5-Step YouTube Optimization Strategy Generated 5,121,327 Views by Amir Jaffari, January 28th
In this article, Amir Jaffari explains how following a 5-step process enabled him to increase his annotation CTR by 22,400% (from 0.2% to 45%), how he received 150,000 views from annotations, and how this resulted in millions of views.
8. Hacking Facebook’s Local Awareness Ads: 5 Advanced Tips by Garrett Mehrguth, January 26th
For years, local businesses relied solely on direct mail, stickers, flyers, referrals, and word of mouth. These were the life-blood of their business. Now, in the digital age, we can replace these tactics with a more affordable digital channel that has the power to bolster all of our other marketing channels.
9. 10 Simple Steps for Creating a Blog Your Readers Will Adore by Martina Mercer, March 21st
The keys to making your blog a success is knowing who’ll be reading it and what they desire in the way of content.
10. Here’s How to Visually Map a Content Strategy by Katy Katz, June 13th
When it comes to building a content strategy to guide your brand, seeing is believing, so creating a visual roadmap can help mightily.

4. The top 10 posts by number of thumbs up

If the heated debate in 2016 was whether technical SEO was necessary or important, the trends here suggest an answer: it is. While you’ll see some overlap with our top posts by 1Metric here, be sure you don’t miss Dave Sottimano’s challenging (yet rewarding) task list for Junior SEOs or Mike King’s masterpiece analysis of the technical SEO renaissance.

1. My Single Best SEO Tip for Improved Web Traffic by Cyrus Shepard, January 27th
“If content is king, then the user is queen, and she rules the universe.” Are you focusing too much on the content, rather than the user? In his last post as a Mozzer, Cyrus Shepard offers his single greatest SEO tip for improving your web traffic.
2. On-Page SEO in 2016: The 8 Principles for Success – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, May 13th
On-page SEO is no longer a simple matter of checking things off a list. There’s more complexity to this process in 2016 than ever before, and the idea of “optimization” both includes and builds upon traditional page elements. In this Whiteboard Friday, Rand explores the eight principles you’ll need for on-page SEO success going forward.
3. Can SEOs Stop Worrying About Keywords and Just Focus on Topics? – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, February 5th
Should you ditch keyword targeting entirely? There’s been a lot of discussion around the idea of focusing on broad topics and concepts to satisfy searcher intent, but it’s a big step to take and could potentially hurt your rankings. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand discusses old-school keyword targeting and new-school concept targeting, outlining a plan of action you can follow to get the best of both worlds.
4. 8 Old School SEO Practices That Are No Longer Effective – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, April 29th
Are you guilty of living in the past? Using methods that were once tried-and-true can be alluring, but it can also prove dangerous to your search strategy. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out eight old school SEO practices that you should ditch in favor of more effective and modern alternatives.
5. Weird, Crazy Myths About Link Building in SEO You Should Probably Ignore – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, September 9th
From where to how to when, there are a number of erroneous claims about link building floating around the SEO world. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand sets the record straight on 8 of the more common claims he’s noticed lately.
6. Linking Internally and Externally from Your Site – Dangers, Opportunities, Risk and Reward – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, April 15th
Navigating linking practices can be a treacherous process. Sometimes it feels like a penalty is lurking around every corner. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about the ins and outs of linking internally and externally, identifying pitfalls and opportunities both.
7. Targeted Link Building in 2016 – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, January 29th
SEO has much of its roots in the practice of targeted link building. And while it’s no longer the only core component involved, it’s still a hugely valuable factor when it comes to rank boosting. In this week’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand goes over why targeted link building is still relevant today and how to develop a process you can strategically follow to success.
8. An Essential Training Task List for Junior SEOs by David Sottimano, August 10th
With 5 detailed projects that drag you through the technical trenches, this customizable training program for Junior SEOs should put you on the road to skill mastery (and a nice career edge) in just a couple of months.
9. The Technical SEO Renaissance: The Whys and Hows of SEO’s Forgotten Role in the Mechanics of the Web by Michael King, October 25th
Technical SEO is more complicated and more important than ever before, while much of the SEO discussion has shied away from its growing technical components in favor of content marketing. Mike King makes a compelling case for exactly why and how a returned focus on technical SEO will rejuvenate and revolutionize the search game.
10. A Step-by-Step Process for Discovering and Prioritizing the Best Keywords – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, May 6th
Rand outlines a straightforward and actionable 4-step process (including an array of tools to check out) for uncovering and prioritizing the best keywords for your SEO campaigns.

5. The top 10 posts by comment volume

By the end of 2016, commenting on the Moz Blog took a sharp 180°. We implemented sophisticated filters to catch a higher volume of spam, with even more improvements in the works. I declared it my personal quest to improve comment quality (I can only deny so many invitations to join the Illuminati before it starts to get freaky), and we worked to spark creative discussion from the get-go.

Without further ado, I give you the top blog posts in 2016 that struck a chatty chord:

1. My Single Best SEO Tip for Improved Web Traffic by Cyrus Shepard, January 27th
“If content is king, then the user is queen, and she rules the universe.” Are you focusing too much on the content, rather than the user? In his last post as a Mozzer, Cyrus Shepard offers his single greatest SEO tip for improving your web traffic.
2. 8 Old School SEO Practices That Are No Longer Effective – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, April 29th
Are you guilty of living in the past? Using methods that were once tried-and-true can be alluring, but it can also prove dangerous to your search strategy. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand spells out eight old school SEO practices that you should ditch in favor of more effective and modern alternatives.
3. Weird, Crazy Myths About Link Building in SEO You Should Probably Ignore – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, September 9th
From where to how to when, there are a number of erroneous claims about link building floating around the SEO world. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand sets the record straight on 8 of the more common claims he’s noticed lately.
4. Linking Internally and Externally from Your Site – Dangers, Opportunities, Risk and Reward – Whiteboard Friday by Rand Fishkin, April 15th
Navigating linking practices can be a treacherous process. Sometimes it feels like a penalty is lurking around every corner. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about the ins and outs of linking internally and externally, identifying pitfalls and opportunities both.
5. How to Build a Facebook Funnel That Converts – Whiteboard Friday by Ryan Stewart, October 14th
Are you getting the most out of your Facebook ads? In this guest-hosted Whiteboard Friday, Ryan Stewart outlines his process for using remarketing and targeted content creation to boost conversions.
6. How Long Does Link Building Take to Influence Rankings? by Kristina Kledzik, August 21st
The eternal question: How much time does it take for a link to affect rankings? Kristina Kledzik breaks out the entire process from start to finish.
7. Accidental SEO Tests: How 301 Redirects Are Likely Impacting Your Brand by Brian Wood, January 19th
Those 301 redirects could be more costly to your brand than you previously imagined. Brian Wood dives into the results of an accidental SEO test that turned out to be serendipitous.
8. The 9 Most Common Local SEO Myths, Dispelled by Joy Hawkins, April 19th
Have you taken any of these statements as truth? In this post, Google My Business Top Contributor Joy Hawkins shares and debunks the Local SEO myths she runs into most frequently.
9. 301 Redirects Rules Change: What You Need to Know for SEO by Cyrus Shepard, August 1st
Google blew our minds when they said 3xx redirects no longer lose PageRank. Cyrus is here to give you the low-down on what this means for SEO.
10. Four Ads on Top: The Wait Is Over by Dr. Peter J. Meyers, February 19th
In a 2-week timeframe, Google AdWords top ad blocks with 4 ads jumped from 1% to 36%, and right-column ads disappeared entirely (moving to the bottom-left position).

6. The top 10 community comments by thumbs up

One of the best things about the Moz Blog is what happens in the comments section. You folks support each other immensely, and that’s nowhere as apparent as in how you interact. The top comments from 2016 tended to be on the longer side, thoughtful, TAGFEE, and full of love and concern for our Moz community when times got rough. These are the top comments from 2016, as voted by you.

1. Gianluca Fiorelli | August 17th
Commented on Moz is Doubling Down on Search
2. Gianluca Fiorelli | February 5th
Commented on Can SEOs Stop Worrying About Keywords and Just Focus on Topics? – Whiteboard Friday
3. Rand Fishkin | March 28th
Commented on Are Keywords Really Dead? An Experiment
4. Mark Jackson | August 17th
Commented on Moz is Doubling Down on Search
5. Devendra Saxena | February 19th
Commented on Four Ads on Top: The Wait Is Over
6. Gianluca Fiorelli | March 18th
Commented on How to Create 10x Content – Whiteboard Friday
7. Tomek Obirek | April 15th
Commented on Linking Internally and Externally from Your Site – Dangers, Opportunities, Risk and Reward – Whiteboard Friday
8. Gianluca Fiorelli | August 2nd
Commented on Wake Up, SEOs – the NEW New Google is Here
9. Gianluca Fiorelli | January 27th
Commented on My Single Best SEO Tip for Improved Web Traffic
10. Wil Reynolds | September 8th
Commented on The Future of the Moz Community

7. The top 10 community member commenters by total thumbs up

When you’re in charge of the Moz Blog, you get to know your regular commenters. These folks put a great deal of time and effort into stating facts, asking questions, and more than anything else, reading. Say hello to the top community commenters of 2016 by total thumbs up earned!

1. Shalu Singh, username Shalusingh
MozPoints:

505 | Rank:

214

2. Larry Kim, username larry.kim
MozPoints: 2,809 | Rank: 34
3. Samuel Scott, username

SamuelScott
MozPoints:

3,694 | Rank: 25

4. Mustansar Iqbal, username Ikkie
MozPoints: 1,026 | Rank: 127
5. Joe Robison, username

Joe.Robison
MozPoints:

1,218 | Rank: 111

6. Joy Hawkins, username

JoyHawkins
MozPoints: 580 | Rank: 190

7. Tom Capper, username

Tom.Capper
MozPoints:

905 | Rank:

134

8. Tomas Vaitulevicius, username

TomasVaitulevicius
MozPoints:

200 | Rank:

566

9. Alexandra Tachalova, username

Alex-T
MozPoints:

468 | Rank:

224

10. Jennifer Slegg, username

jenstar
MozPoints:

784 | Rank:

147

Category-specific RSS feeds (Whiteboard Friday fans, rejoice!)

Historically, the only way to subscribe to Moz Blog updates via RSS feed was to commit to the entire thing — every post, every topic, even if you were only into content marketing and didn’t care a fig for anything technical.

That was back in 2016, though. In this bold new odd-numbered world, we now have RSS feeds for our most popular categories. Whiteboard Friday devotees, it’s time to party.

Here’s a list of feeds you can now subscribe to; if you have a desire to follow a category we haven’t covered here, let me know in the comments and we may be able to make it a reality. (Key word: may. I’m only a Level 5 blog mage, after all.)


Onward and upward!

Thanks to everyone who works and plays so hard to keep the Moz community thriving; this place could never be what it is without our readers, commenters, authors, and behind-the-scenes Mozzers. Much earnest thanks to Moz Blog veteran Trevor Klein for some key SQL help, which made my life while writing this post easier by leaps and bounds.

I can’t wait to see what our next year brings. Hope to see you somewhere on this list come 2018!

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!

[ccw-atrib-link]

dotmailer becomes EU-U.S. Privacy Shield certified

On 12 August we were accepted for the U.S. Department of Commerce’s voluntary privacy certification program. The news is a great milestone for dotmailer, because it recognizes the years of work we’ve put into protecting our customers’ data and privacy. For instance, just look at our comprehensive trust center and involvement in both the International Association of Privacy Professionals (IAPP) and Email Sender & Provider Coalition (ESPC).

To become certified our Chief Privacy Officer, James Koons, made the application to the U.S. Department of Commerce, who audited dotmailer’s privacy statement. (Interesting fact: James actually completed the application process while on vacation climbing Mt. Rainer in Washington state!)

By self-certifying and agreeing to the Privacy Shield Principles, it means that our commitment is enforceable under the Federal Trade Commission (FTC).

What does it mean for you (our customers)?

As we continue to expand globally, this certification is one more important privacy precedent. The aim of the EU-U.S. Privacy Shield, which was recently finalized, provides businesses with stronger protection for the exchange of transatlantic data. If you haven’t seen it already, you might be interested in reading about the recent email privacy war between Microsoft and the U.S. government.

As a certified company, it means we must provide you with adequate privacy protection – a requirement for the transfer of personal data outside of the European Union under the EU Data Protection Directive. Each year, we must self-certify to the U.S. Department of Commerce’s International Trade Administration (ITA), to ensure we adhere to the Privacy Shield Principles.

What does our Chief Privacy Officer think?

James Koons, who has 20 years’ experience in the information systems and security industry, explained why he’s pleased about the news: “I am delighted that dotmailer has been recognized as a good steward of data through the Privacy Shield Certification.

“As a company that has a culture of privacy and security as its core, I believe the certification simply highlights the great work we have already been doing.”

What happened to the Safe Harbour agreement?

The EU-U.S. Privacy Shield replaces the former Safe Harbour agreement for transatlantic data transfers.

Want to know more about what the Privacy Shield means?

You can check out the official Privacy Shield website here, which gives a more detailed overview of the program and requirements for participating organizations.

[ccw-atrib-link]

Why Effective, Modern SEO Requires Technical, Creative, and Strategic Thinking – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

There’s no doubt that quite a bit has changed about SEO, and that the field is far more integrated with other aspects of online marketing than it once was. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand pushes back against the idea that effective modern SEO doesn’t require any technical expertise, outlining a fantastic list of technical elements that today’s SEOs need to know about in order to be truly effective.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I’m going to do something unusual. I don’t usually point out these inconsistencies or sort of take issue with other folks’ content on the web, because I generally find that that’s not all that valuable and useful. But I’m going to make an exception here.

There is an article by Jayson DeMers, who I think might actually be here in Seattle — maybe he and I can hang out at some point — called “Why Modern SEO Requires Almost No Technical Expertise.” It was an article that got a shocking amount of traction and attention. On Facebook, it has thousands of shares. On LinkedIn, it did really well. On Twitter, it got a bunch of attention.

Some folks in the SEO world have already pointed out some issues around this. But because of the increasing popularity of this article, and because I think there’s, like, this hopefulness from worlds outside of kind of the hardcore SEO world that are looking to this piece and going, “Look, this is great. We don’t have to be technical. We don’t have to worry about technical things in order to do SEO.”

Look, I completely get the appeal of that. I did want to point out some of the reasons why this is not so accurate. At the same time, I don’t want to rain on Jayson, because I think that it’s very possible he’s writing an article for Entrepreneur, maybe he has sort of a commitment to them. Maybe he had no idea that this article was going to spark so much attention and investment. He does make some good points. I think it’s just really the title and then some of the messages inside there that I take strong issue with, and so I wanted to bring those up.

First off, some of the good points he did bring up.

One, he wisely says, “You don’t need to know how to code or to write and read algorithms in order to do SEO.” I totally agree with that. If today you’re looking at SEO and you’re thinking, “Well, am I going to get more into this subject? Am I going to try investing in SEO? But I don’t even know HTML and CSS yet.”

Those are good skills to have, and they will help you in SEO, but you don’t need them. Jayson’s totally right. You don’t have to have them, and you can learn and pick up some of these things, and do searches, watch some Whiteboard Fridays, check out some guides, and pick up a lot of that stuff later on as you need it in your career. SEO doesn’t have that hard requirement.

And secondly, he makes an intelligent point that we’ve made many times here at Moz, which is that, broadly speaking, a better user experience is well correlated with better rankings.

You make a great website that delivers great user experience, that provides the answers to searchers’ questions and gives them extraordinarily good content, way better than what’s out there already in the search results, generally speaking you’re going to see happy searchers, and that’s going to lead to higher rankings.

But not entirely. There are a lot of other elements that go in here. So I’ll bring up some frustrating points around the piece as well.

First off, there’s no acknowledgment — and I find this a little disturbing — that the ability to read and write code, or even HTML and CSS, which I think are the basic place to start, is helpful or can take your SEO efforts to the next level. I think both of those things are true.

So being able to look at a web page, view source on it, or pull up Firebug in Firefox or something and diagnose what’s going on and then go, “Oh, that’s why Google is not able to see this content. That’s why we’re not ranking for this keyword or term, or why even when I enter this exact sentence in quotes into Google, which is on our page, this is why it’s not bringing it up. It’s because it’s loading it after the page from a remote file that Google can’t access.” These are technical things, and being able to see how that code is built, how it’s structured, and what’s going on there, very, very helpful.

Some coding knowledge also can take your SEO efforts even further. I mean, so many times, SEOs are stymied by the conversations that we have with our programmers and our developers and the technical staff on our teams. When we can have those conversations intelligently, because at least we understand the principles of how an if-then statement works, or what software engineering best practices are being used, or they can upload something into a GitHub repository, and we can take a look at it there, that kind of stuff is really helpful.

Secondly, I don’t like that the article overly reduces all of this information that we have about what we’ve learned about Google. So he mentions two sources. One is things that Google tells us, and others are SEO experiments. I think both of those are true. Although I’d add that there’s sort of a sixth sense of knowledge that we gain over time from looking at many, many search results and kind of having this feel for why things rank, and what might be wrong with a site, and getting really good at that using tools and data as well. There are people who can look at Open Site Explorer and then go, “Aha, I bet this is going to happen.” They can look, and 90% of the time they’re right.

So he boils this down to, one, write quality content, and two, reduce your bounce rate. Neither of those things are wrong. You should write quality content, although I’d argue there are lots of other forms of quality content that aren’t necessarily written — video, images and graphics, podcasts, lots of other stuff.

And secondly, that just doing those two things is not always enough. So you can see, like many, many folks look and go, “I have quality content. It has a low bounce rate. How come I don’t rank better?” Well, your competitors, they’re also going to have quality content with a low bounce rate. That’s not a very high bar.

Also, frustratingly, this really gets in my craw. I don’t think “write quality content” means anything. You tell me. When you hear that, to me that is a totally non-actionable, non-useful phrase that’s a piece of advice that is so generic as to be discardable. So I really wish that there was more substance behind that.

The article also makes, in my opinion, the totally inaccurate claim that modern SEO really is reduced to “the happier your users are when they visit your site, the higher you’re going to rank.”

Wow. Okay. Again, I think broadly these things are correlated. User happiness and rank is broadly correlated, but it’s not a one to one. This is not like a, “Oh, well, that’s a 1.0 correlation.”

I would guess that the correlation is probably closer to like the page authority range. I bet it’s like 0.35 or something correlation. If you were to actually measure this broadly across the web and say like, “Hey, were you happier with result one, two, three, four, or five,” the ordering would not be perfect at all. It probably wouldn’t even be close.

There’s a ton of reasons why sometimes someone who ranks on Page 2 or Page 3 or doesn’t rank at all for a query is doing a better piece of content than the person who does rank well or ranks on Page 1, Position 1.

Then the article suggests five and sort of a half steps to successful modern SEO, which I think is a really incomplete list. So Jayson gives us;

  • Good on-site experience
  • Writing good content
  • Getting others to acknowledge you as an authority
  • Rising in social popularity
  • Earning local relevance
  • Dealing with modern CMS systems (which he notes most modern CMS systems are SEO-friendly)

The thing is there’s nothing actually wrong with any of these. They’re all, generally speaking, correct, either directly or indirectly related to SEO. The one about local relevance, I have some issue with, because he doesn’t note that there’s a separate algorithm for sort of how local SEO is done and how Google ranks local sites in maps and in their local search results. Also not noted is that rising in social popularity won’t necessarily directly help your SEO, although it can have indirect and positive benefits.

I feel like this list is super incomplete. Okay, I brainstormed just off the top of my head in the 10 minutes before we filmed this video a list. The list was so long that, as you can see, I filled up the whole whiteboard and then didn’t have any more room. I’m not going to bother to erase and go try and be absolutely complete.

But there’s a huge, huge number of things that are important, critically important for technical SEO. If you don’t know how to do these things, you are sunk in many cases. You can’t be an effective SEO analyst, or consultant, or in-house team member, because you simply can’t diagnose the potential problems, rectify those potential problems, identify strategies that your competitors are using, be able to diagnose a traffic gain or loss. You have to have these skills in order to do that.

I’ll run through these quickly, but really the idea is just that this list is so huge and so long that I think it’s very, very, very wrong to say technical SEO is behind us. I almost feel like the opposite is true.

We have to be able to understand things like;

  • Content rendering and indexability
  • Crawl structure, internal links, JavaScript, Ajax. If something’s post-loading after the page and Google’s not able to index it, or there are links that are accessible via JavaScript or Ajax, maybe Google can’t necessarily see those or isn’t crawling them as effectively, or is crawling them, but isn’t assigning them as much link weight as they might be assigning other stuff, and you’ve made it tough to link to them externally, and so they can’t crawl it.
  • Disabling crawling and/or indexing of thin or incomplete or non-search-targeted content. We have a bunch of search results pages. Should we use rel=prev/next? Should we robots.txt those out? Should we disallow from crawling with meta robots? Should we rel=canonical them to other pages? Should we exclude them via the protocols inside Google Webmaster Tools, which is now Google Search Console?
  • Managing redirects, domain migrations, content updates. A new piece of content comes out, replacing an old piece of content, what do we do with that old piece of content? What’s the best practice? It varies by different things. We have a whole Whiteboard Friday about the different things that you could do with that. What about a big redirect or a domain migration? You buy another company and you’re redirecting their site to your site. You have to understand things about subdomain structures versus subfolders, which, again, we’ve done another Whiteboard Friday about that.
  • Proper error codes, downtime procedures, and not found pages. If your 404 pages turn out to all be 200 pages, well, now you’ve made a big error there, and Google could be crawling tons of 404 pages that they think are real pages, because you’ve made it a status code 200, or you’ve used a 404 code when you should have used a 410, which is a permanently removed, to be able to get it completely out of the indexes, as opposed to having Google revisit it and keep it in the index.

Downtime procedures. So there’s specifically a… I can’t even remember. It’s a 5xx code that you can use. Maybe it was a 503 or something that you can use that’s like, “Revisit later. We’re having some downtime right now.” Google urges you to use that specific code rather than using a 404, which tells them, “This page is now an error.”

Disney had that problem a while ago, if you guys remember, where they 404ed all their pages during an hour of downtime, and then their homepage, when you searched for Disney World, was, like, “Not found.” Oh, jeez, Disney World, not so good.

  • International and multi-language targeting issues. I won’t go into that. But you have to know the protocols there. Duplicate content, syndication, scrapers. How do we handle all that? Somebody else wants to take our content, put it on their site, what should we do? Someone’s scraping our content. What can we do? We have duplicate content on our own site. What should we do?
  • Diagnosing traffic drops via analytics and metrics. Being able to look at a rankings report, being able to look at analytics connecting those up and trying to see: Why did we go up or down? Did we have less pages being indexed, more pages being indexed, more pages getting traffic less, more keywords less?
  • Understanding advanced search parameters. Today, just today, I was checking out the related parameter in Google, which is fascinating for most sites. Well, for Moz, weirdly, related:oursite.com shows nothing. But for virtually every other sit, well, most other sites on the web, it does show some really interesting data, and you can see how Google is connecting up, essentially, intentions and topics from different sites and pages, which can be fascinating, could expose opportunities for links, could expose understanding of how they view your site versus your competition or who they think your competition is.

Then there are tons of parameters, like in URL and in anchor, and da, da, da, da. In anchor doesn’t work anymore, never mind about that one.

I have to go faster, because we’re just going to run out of these. Like, come on. Interpreting and leveraging data in Google Search Console. If you don’t know how to use that, Google could be telling you, you have all sorts of errors, and you don’t know what they are.

  • Leveraging topic modeling and extraction. Using all these cool tools that are coming out for better keyword research and better on-page targeting. I talked about a couple of those at MozCon, like MonkeyLearn. There’s the new Moz Context API, which will be coming out soon, around that. There’s the Alchemy API, which a lot of folks really like and use.
  • Identifying and extracting opportunities based on site crawls. You run a Screaming Frog crawl on your site and you’re going, “Oh, here’s all these problems and issues.” If you don’t have these technical skills, you can’t diagnose that. You can’t figure out what’s wrong. You can’t figure out what needs fixing, what needs addressing.
  • Using rich snippet format to stand out in the SERPs. This is just getting a better click-through rate, which can seriously help your site and obviously your traffic.
  • Applying Google-supported protocols like rel=canonical, meta description, rel=prev/next, hreflang, robots.txt, meta robots, x robots, NOODP, XML sitemaps, rel=nofollow. The list goes on and on and on. If you’re not technical, you don’t know what those are, you think you just need to write good content and lower your bounce rate, it’s not going to work.
  • Using APIs from services like AdWords or MozScape, or hrefs from Majestic, or SEM refs from SearchScape or Alchemy API. Those APIs can have powerful things that they can do for your site. There are some powerful problems they could help you solve if you know how to use them. It’s actually not that hard to write something, even inside a Google Doc or Excel, to pull from an API and get some data in there. There’s a bunch of good tutorials out there. Richard Baxter has one, Annie Cushing has one, I think Distilled has some. So really cool stuff there.
  • Diagnosing page load speed issues, which goes right to what Jayson was talking about. You need that fast-loading page. Well, if you don’t have any technical skills, you can’t figure out why your page might not be loading quickly.
  • Diagnosing mobile friendliness issues
  • Advising app developers on the new protocols around App deep linking, so that you can get the content from your mobile apps into the web search results on mobile devices. Awesome. Super powerful. Potentially crazy powerful, as mobile search is becoming bigger than desktop.

Okay, I’m going to take a deep breath and relax. I don’t know Jayson’s intention, and in fact, if he were in this room, he’d be like, “No, I totally agree with all those things. I wrote the article in a rush. I had no idea it was going to be big. I was just trying to make the broader points around you don’t have to be a coder in order to do SEO.” That’s completely fine.

So I’m not going to try and rain criticism down on him. But I think if you’re reading that article, or you’re seeing it in your feed, or your clients are, or your boss is, or other folks are in your world, maybe you can point them to this Whiteboard Friday and let them know, no, that’s not quite right. There’s a ton of technical SEO that is required in 2015 and will be for years to come, I think, that SEOs have to have in order to be effective at their jobs.

All right, everyone. Look forward to some great comments, and we’ll see you again next time for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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!

[ccw-atrib-link]

Moz Local Officially Launches in the UK

Posted by David-Mihm

To all Moz Local fans in the UK, I’m excited to announce that your wait is over. As the sun rises “across the pond” this morning, Moz Local is officially live in the United Kingdom!

A bit of background

As many of you know, we released the US version of Moz Local in March 2014. After 12 months of terrific growth in the US, and a boatload of technical improvements and feature releases–especially for Enterprise customers–we released the Check Listing feature for a limited set of partner search engines and directories in the UK in April of this year.

Over 20,000 of you have checked your listings (or your clients’ listings) in the last 3-1/2 months. Those lookups have helped us refine and improve the background technology immensely (more on that below). We’ve been just as eager to release the fully-featured product as you’ve been to use it, and the technical pieces have finally fallen into place for us to do so.

How does it work?

The concept is the same as the US version of Moz Local: show you how accurately and completely your business is listed on the most important local search platforms and directories, and optimize and perfect as many of those business listings as we can on your behalf.

For customers specifically looking for you, accurate business listings are obviously important. For customers who might not know about you yet, they’re also among the most important factors for ranking in local searches on Google. Basically, the more times Google sees your name, address, phone, and website listed the same way on quality local websites, the more trust they have in your business, and the higher you’re likely to rank.

Moz Local is designed to help on both these fronts.

To use the product, you simply need to type a name and postcode at moz.com/local. We’ll then show you a list of the closest matching listings we found. We prioritize verified listing information that we find on Google or Facebook, and selecting one of those verified listings means we’ll be able to distribute it on your behalf.

Clicking on a result brings you to a full details report for that listing. We’ll show you how accurate and complete your listings are now, and where they could be after using our product.

Clicking the tabs beneath the Listing Score graphic will show you some of the incompletions and inconsistencies that publishing your listing with Moz Local will address.

For customers with hundreds or thousands of locations, bulk upload is also available using a modified version of your data from Google My Business–feel free to e-mail enterpriselocal@moz.com for more details.

Where do we distribute your data?

We’ve prioritized the most important commercial sites in the UK local search ecosystem, and made them the centerpieces of Moz Local. We’ll update your data directly on globally-important players Factual and Foursquare, and the UK-specific players CentralIndex, Thomson Local, and the Scoot network–which includes key directories like TouchLocal, The Independent, The Sun, The Mirror, The Daily Scotsman, and Wales Online.

We’ll be adding two more major destinations shortly, and for those of you who sign up before that time, your listings will be automatically distributed to the additional destinations when the integrations are complete.

How much does it cost?

The cost per listing is £84/year, which includes distribution to the sites mentioned above with unlimited updates throughout the year, monitoring of your progress over time, geographically- focused reporting, and the ability to find and close duplicate listings right from your Moz Local dashboard–all the great upgrades that my colleague Noam Chitayat blogged about here.

What’s next?

Well, as I mentioned just a couple paragraphs ago, we’ve got two additional destinations to which we’ll be sending your data in very short order. Once those integrations are complete, we’ll be just a few weeks away from releasing our biggest set of features since we launched. I look forward to sharing more about these features at BrightonSEO at the end of the summer!

For those of you around the world in Canada, Australia, and other countries, we know there’s plenty of demand for Moz Local overseas, and we’re working as quickly as we can to build additional relationships abroad. And to our friends in the UK, please let us know how we can continue to make the product even better!

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!

[ccw-atrib-link]

The Linkbait Bump: How Viral Content Creates Long-Term Lift in Organic Traffic – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

A single fantastic (or “10x”) piece of content can lift a site’s traffic curves long beyond the popularity of that one piece. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand talks about why those curves settle into a “new normal,” and how you can go about creating the content that drives that change.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about the linkbait bump, classic phrase in the SEO world and almost a little dated. I think today we’re talking a little bit more about viral content and how high-quality content, content that really is the cornerstone of a brand or a website’s content can be an incredible and powerful driver of traffic, not just when it initially launches but over time.

So let’s take a look.

This is a classic linkbait bump, viral content bump analytics chart. I’m seeing over here my traffic and over here the different months of the year. You know, January, February, March, like I’m under a thousand. Maybe I’m at 500 visits or something, and then I have this big piece of viral content. It performs outstandingly well from a relative standpoint for my site. It gets 10,000 or more visits, drives a ton more people to my site, and then what happens is that that traffic falls back down. But the new normal down here, new normal is higher than the old normal was. So the new normal might be at 1,000, 1,500 or 2,000 visits whereas before I was at 500.

Why does this happen?

A lot of folks see an analytics chart like this, see examples of content that’s done this for websites, and they want to know: Why does this happen and how can I replicate that effect? The reasons why are it sort of feeds back into that viral loop or the flywheel, which we’ve talked about in previous Whiteboard Fridays, where essentially you start with a piece of content. That content does well, and then you have things like more social followers on your brand’s accounts. So now next time you go to amplify content or share content socially, you’re reaching more potential people. You have a bigger audience. You have more people who share your content because they’ve seen that that content performs well for them in social. So they want to find other content from you that might help their social accounts perform well.

You see more RSS and email subscribers because people see your interesting content and go, “Hey, I want to see when these guys produce something else.” You see more branded search traffic because people are looking specifically for content from you, not necessarily just around this viral piece, although that’s often a big part of it, but around other pieces as well, especially if you do a good job of exposing them to that additional content. You get more bookmark and type in traffic, more searchers biased by personalization because they’ve already visited your site. So now when they search and they’re logged into their accounts, they’re going to see your site ranking higher than they normally would otherwise, and you get an organic SEO lift from all the links and shares and engagement.

So there’s a ton of different factors that feed into this, and you kind of want to hit all of these things. If you have a piece of content that gets a lot of shares, a lot of links, but then doesn’t promote engagement, doesn’t get more people signing up, doesn’t get more people searching for your brand or searching for that content specifically, then it’s not going to have the same impact. Your traffic might fall further and more quickly.

How do you achieve this?

How do we get content that’s going to do this? Well, we’re going to talk through a number of things that we’ve talked about previously on Whiteboard Friday. But there are some additional ones as well. This isn’t just creating good content or creating high quality content, it’s creating a particular kind of content. So for this what you want is a deep understanding, not necessarily of what your standard users or standard customers are interested in, but a deep understanding of what influencers in your niche will share and promote and why they do that.

This often means that you follow a lot of sharers and influencers in your field, and you understand, hey, they’re all sharing X piece of content. Why? Oh, because it does this, because it makes them look good, because it helps their authority in the field, because it provides a lot of value to their followers, because they know it’s going to get a lot of retweets and shares and traffic. Whatever that because is, you have to have a deep understanding of it in order to have success with viral kinds of content.

Next, you want to have empathy for users and what will give them the best possible experience. So if you know, for example, that a lot of people are coming on mobile and are going to be sharing on mobile, which is true of almost all viral content today, FYI, you need to be providing a great mobile and desktop experience. Oftentimes that mobile experience has to be different, not just responsive design, but actually a different format, a different way of being able to scroll through or watch or see or experience that content.

There are some good examples out there of content that does that. It makes a very different user experience based on the browser or the device you’re using.

You also need to be aware of what will turn them off. So promotional messages, pop-ups, trying to sell to them, oftentimes that diminishes user experience. It means that content that could have been more viral, that could have gotten more shares won’t.

Unique value and attributes that separate your content from everything else in the field. So if there’s like ABCD and whoa, what’s that? That’s very unique. That stands out from the crowd. That provides a different form of value in a different way than what everyone else is doing. That uniqueness is often a big reason why content spreads virally, why it gets more shared than just the normal stuff.

I’ve talk about this a number of times, but content that’s 10X better than what the competition provides. So unique value from the competition, but also quality that is not just a step up, but 10X better, massively, massively better than what else you can get out there. That makes it unique enough. That makes it stand out from the crowd, and that’s a very hard thing to do, but that’s why this is so rare and so valuable.

This is a critical one, and I think one that, I’ll just say, many organizations fail at. That is the freedom and support to fail many times, to try to create these types of effects, to have this impact many times before you hit on a success. A lot of managers and clients and teams and execs just don’t give marketing teams and content teams the freedom to say, “Yeah, you know what? You spent a month and developer resources and designer resources and spent some money to go do some research and contracted with this third party, and it wasn’t a hit. It didn’t work. We didn’t get the viral content bump. It just kind of did okay. You know what? We believe in you. You’ve got a lot of chances. You should try this another 9 or 10 times before we throw it out. We really want to have a success here.”

That is something that very few teams invest in. The powerful thing is because so few people are willing to invest that way, the ones that do, the ones that believe in this, the ones that invest long term, the ones that are willing to take those failures are going to have a much better shot at success, and they can stand out from the crowd. They can get these bumps. It’s powerful.

Not a requirement, but it really, really helps to have a strong engaged community, either on your site and around your brand, or at least in your niche and your topic area that will help, that wants to see you, your brand, your content succeed. If you’re in a space that has no community, I would work on building one, even if it’s very small. We’re not talking about building a community of thousands or tens of thousands. A community of 100 people, a community of 50 people even can be powerful enough to help content get that catalyst, that first bump that’ll boost it into viral potential.

Then finally, for this type of content, you need to have a logical and not overly promotional match between your brand and the content itself. You can see many sites in what I call sketchy niches. So like a criminal law site or a casino site or a pharmaceutical site that’s offering like an interactive musical experience widget, and you’re like, “Why in the world is this brand promoting this content? Why did they even make it? How does that match up with what they do? Oh, it’s clearly just intentionally promotional.”

Look, many of these brands go out there and they say, “Hey, the average web user doesn’t know and doesn’t care.” I agree. But the average web user is not an influencer. Influencers know. Well, they’re very, very suspicious of why content is being produced and promoted, and they’re very skeptical of promoting content that they don’t think is altruistic. So this kills a lot of content for brands that try and invest in it when there’s no match. So I think you really need that.

Now, when you do these linkbait bump kinds of things, I would strongly recommend that you follow up, that you consider the quality of the content that you’re producing. Thereafter, that you invest in reproducing these resources, keeping those resources updated, and that you don’t simply give up on content production after this. However, if you’re a small business site, a small or medium business, you might think about only doing one or two of these a year. If you are a heavy content player, you’re doing a lot of content marketing, content marketing is how you’re investing in web traffic, I’d probably be considering these weekly or monthly at the least.

All right, everyone. Look forward to your experiences with the linkbait bump, and I will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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!

[ccw-atrib-link]

Pinpoint vs. Floodlight Content and Keyword Research Strategies – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When we’re doing keyword research and targeting, we have a choice to make: Are we targeting broader keywords with multiple potential searcher intents, or are we targeting very narrow keywords where it’s pretty clear what the searchers were looking for? Those different approaches, it turns out, apply to content creation and site architecture, as well. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand illustrates that connection.

Pinpoint vs Floodlight Content and Keyword Research Strategy Whiteboard

For reference, here are stills of this week’s whiteboards. Click on it to open a high resolution image in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about pinpoint versus floodlight tactics for content targeting, content strategy, and keyword research, keyword targeting strategy. This is also called the shotgun versus sniper approach, but I’m not a big gun fan. So I’m going to stick with my floodlight versus pinpoint, plus, you know, for the opening shot we don’t have a whole lot of weaponry here at Moz, but we do have lighting.

So let’s talk through this at first. You’re going through and doing some keyword research. You’re trying to figure out which terms and phrases to target. You might look down a list like this.

Well, maybe, I’m using an example here around antique science equipment. So you see these various terms and phrases. You’ve got your volume numbers. You probably have lots of other columns. Hopefully, you’ve watched the Whiteboard Friday on how to do keyword research like it’s 2015 and not 2010.

So you know you have all these other columns to choose from, but I’m simplifying here for the purpose of this experiment. So you might choose some of these different terms. Now, they’re going to have different kinds of tactics and a different strategic approach, depending on the breadth and depth of the topic that you’re targeting. That’s going to determine what types of content you want to create and where you place it in your information architecture. So I’ll show you what I mean.

The floodlight approach

For antique science equipment, this is a relatively broad phrase. I’m going to do my floodlight analysis on this, and floodlight analysis is basically saying like, “Okay, are there multiple potential searcher intents?” Yeah, absolutely. That’s a fairly broad phase. People could be looking to transact around it. They might be looking for research information, historical information, different types of scientific equipment that they’re looking for.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b15fc96679b8.73854740.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

Are there four or more approximately unique keyword terms and phrases to target? Well, absolutely, in fact, there’s probably more than that. So antique science equipment, antique scientific equipment, 18th century scientific equipment, all these different terms and phrases that you might explore there.

Is this a broad content topic with many potential subtopics? Again, yes is the answer to this. Are we talking about generally larger search volume? Again, yes, this is going to have a much larger search volume than some of the narrower terms and phrases. That’s not always the case, but it is here.

The pinpoint approach

For pinpoint analysis, we kind of go the opposite direction. So we might look at a term like antique test tubes, which is a very specific kind of search, and that has a clear single searcher intent or maybe two. Someone might be looking for actually purchasing one of those, or they might be looking to research them and see what kinds there are. Not a ton of additional intents behind that. One to three unique keywords, yeah, probably. It’s pretty specific. Antique test tubes, maybe 19th century test tubes, maybe old science test tubes, but you’re talking about a limited set of keywords that you’re targeting. It’s a narrow content topic, typically smaller search volume.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b160069eb6b1.12473448.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

Now, these are going to feed into your IA, your information architecture, and your site structure in this way. So floodlight content generally sits higher up. It’s the category or the subcategory, those broad topic terms and phrases. Those are going to turn into those broad topic category pages. Then you might have multiple, narrower subtopics. So we could go into lab equipment versus astronomical equipment versus chemistry equipment, and then we’d get into those individual pinpoints from the pinpoint analysis.

How do I decide which approach is best for my keywords?

Why are we doing this? Well, generally speaking, if you can take your terms and phrases and categorize them like this and then target them differently, you’re going to provide a better, more logical user experience. Someone who searches for antique scientific equipment, they’re going to really expect to see that category and then to be able to drill down into things. So you’re providing them the experience they predict, the one that they want, the one that they expect.

It’s better for topic modeling analysis and for all of the algorithms around things like Hummingbird, where Google looks at: Are you using the types of terms and phrases, do you have the type of architecture that we expect to find for this keyword?

It’s better for search intent targeting, because the searcher intent is going to be fulfilled if you provide the multiple paths versus the narrow focus. It’s easier keyword targeting for you. You’re going to be able to know, “Hey, I need to target a lot of different terms and phrases and variations in floodlight and one very specific one in pinpoint.”

There’s usually higher searcher satisfaction, which means you get lower bounce rate. You get more engagement. You usually get a higher conversion rate. So it’s good for all those things.

For example…

I’ll actually create pages for each of antique scientific equipment and antique test tubes to illustrate this. So I’ve got two different types of pages here. One is my antique scientific equipment page.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b161fa871e32.54731215.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

This is that floodlight, shotgun approach, and what we’re doing here is going to be very different from a pinpoint approach. It’s looking at like, okay, you’ve landed on antique scientific equipment. Now, where do you want to go? What do you want to specifically explore? So we’re going to have a little bit of content specifically about this topic, and how robust that is depends on the type of topic and the type of site you are.

If this is an e-commerce site or a site that’s showing information about various antiques, well maybe we don’t need very much content here. You can see the filtration that we’ve got is going to be pretty broad. So I can go into different centuries. I can go into chemistry, astronomy, physics. Maybe I have a safe for kids type of stuff if you want to buy your kids antique lab equipment, which you might be. Who knows? Maybe you’re awesome and your kids are too. Then different types of stuff at a very broad level. So I can go to microscopes or test tubes, lab searches.

This is great because it’s got broad intent foci, serving many different kinds of searchers with the same page because we don’t know exactly what they want. It’s got multiple keyword targets so that we can go after broad phrases like antique or old or historical or 13th, 14th, whatever century, science and scientific equipment ,materials, labs, etc., etc., etc. This is a broad page that could reach any and all of those. Then there’s lots of navigational and refinement options once you get there.

Total opposite of pinpoint content.

<img src="http://d1avok0lzls2w.cloudfront.net/uploads/blog/55b1622740f0b5.73477500.jpg" rel="box-shadow: 0 0 10px 0 #999; border-radius: 20px;"

Pinpoint content, like this antique test tubes page, we’re still going to have some filtration options, but one of the important things to note is note how these are links that take you deeper. Depending on how deep the search volume goes in terms of the types of queries that people are performing, you might want to make a specific page for 17th century antique test tubes. You might not, and if you don’t want to do that, you can have these be filters that are simply clickable and change the content of the page here, narrowing the options rather than creating completely separate pages.

So if there’s no search volume for these different things and you don’t think you need to separately target them, go ahead and just make them filters on the data that already appears on this page or the results that are already in here as opposed to links that are going to take you deeper into specific content and create a new page, a new experience.

You can also see I’ve got my individual content here. I probably would go ahead and add some content specifically to this page that is just unique here and that describes antique test tubes and the things that your searchers need. They might want to know things about price. They might want to know things about make and model. They might want to know things about what they were used for. Great. You can have that information broadly, and then individual pieces of content that someone might dig into.

This is narrower intent foci obviously, serving maybe one or two searcher intents. This is really talking about targeting maybe one to two separate keywords. So antique test tubes, maybe lab tubes or test tube sets, but not much beyond that.

Ten we’re going to have fewer navigational paths, fewer distractions. We want to keep the searcher. Because we know their intent, we want to guide them along the path that we know they probably want to take and that we want them to take.

So when you’re considering your content, choose wisely between shotgun/floodlight approach or sniper/pinpoint approach. Your searchers will be better served. You’ll probably rank better. You’ll be more likely to earn links and amplification. You’re going to be more successful.

Looking forward to the comments, and we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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!

[ccw-atrib-link]