Local search marketing is a dynamic and exciting discipline, but like many digital professions, it can be a bit isolating. You may find yourself running into questions that don’t have a ready answer, things like…
What sort of benchmarks should I be measuring my daily work by?
Do my clients’ needs align with what my colleagues are seeing?
Am I over/undervaluing the role of Google in my future work?
Here’s a chance to find out what your peers are observing and doing on a day-to-day basis.
The Moz Local Search Marketing Industry Survey will dive into job descriptions, industries served, most effective tactics, tool usage, and the non-stop growth of Google’s local features. We’ll even touch on how folks may have been impacted by the recent August 1 algorithm update, if at all. In-house local SEOs, agency local SEOs, and other digital marketers are all welcome! All participants will be entered into a drawing for a $100 Amazon gift card. The winner will be notified on 8/27/18.
Give just 5 minutes of your time and you’ll get insights and quotable statistics back when we publish the survey results. Be sure to participate by 8/24/2018. We sincerely appreciate your contributions!
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!
One of the most interesting things I noticed right from the off was the lack of batch and blast marketing with bland, generic, slightly football related content. Of course, there will always be some. Supermarkets, take-outs and travel brands who have special World Cup offers – Ryanair have a limited time sale, Iceland and Co-op have offers on food and drink, and Uber Eats are offering 50% off first orders – but there has been a distinct lack of brands throwing caution to the wind and jumping on the World Cup bandwagon.
Instead, consumers are getting a hyper-personalized experienced via apps and social media. Do you want to know everything that’s happening as soon as it happens? Get the FIFA app. Interested in a free beer while watching the England game? Budweiser have an app for that.
Maybe you’re not interested in the football at all – that’s okay. The likes of Boohoo and ASOS scheduled push notifications about their sales to coincide with the kick-off of England’s World Cup campaign.
Unfortunately, these kinds of tactics are to be expected by big brands. But that doesn’t mean you should let this opportunity pass you by. So how can you make the most of the World Cup fever gripping the globe?
1) Think of your fans
There’s no point running a world cup themed campaign if your audience aren’t going to be engaged, so make sure whatever you do it’ll appeal to your customers. Domino’s’ social media campaign captures this perfectly. Branding themselves ‘The Official Food of not Going to International Football Tournaments’, they created a series of videos featuring former footballer Jimmy Bullard enjoying the World Cup from home. Its tongue-in-cheek humor and popular front man perfectly appeals to their target customers. On the flip side, NowTV is appealing to those hoping to escape the football by offering box set selections for those who ‘don’t give a damn’, are a ‘sore loser’, or have been ‘dumped for the football’.
2) Dominate the game
So far, mobile marketing – via apps, videos, and social media – is dominating World Cup comms. Whatever tactics you adopt, make sure you’re optimized for mobile. The summer is here, and people are making the most of it, so catch your customers wherever they are and make sure the journey you invite them on is one they will can enjoy. Get started with designing your emails for mobile by checking out our latest best practice guide.
3) Be ready for anything
One of the most exciting things about the World Cup is its unpredictability. Utilizing the moments nobody expects is a fantastic way to engage with your customers throughout the month when the world goes football mad. Amongst the biggest surprises so far has been Iceland’s draw with football aficionados Argentina. This has been wholeheartedly embraced by the Iceland Foods who has been filling its social media feeds with hilarious comments about their unexpected success.
4) Don’t score an own goal
Don’t ruin your chances of winning big. FIFA have strict rules about how you can and can’t advertise during the competition. Their “Official Marks” must not be used in unauthorized marketing. This includes the official emblem, trophy and mascot. Additionally, they have a range of “word marks” – specific wording relating to the event – that you can’t use in your promotions such as ‘FIFA World Cup’ and ‘Moscow 2018’. There are still plenty of ways to get in on the action. Sporting phrases and terms like ‘Summer of football’ are the best way around this. More information about the FIFA advertising guidelines can be found on their website.
5) Capture the spirit of the game
One of the most important things to remember is to have fun! It’s summertime and your marketing should embrace the fun and excitement that comes along with the World Cup. Your customers will have their highs and lows, or they may not care about it at all, but make the most of this opportunity to try new things. Did the underdog beat a top tier team? Follow one surprise with another and have a flash sale to celebrate! Are you looking to expand your contact list? Why not organize a world cup themed competition to encourage sign-ups? Maybe think about adapting your abandoned cart automation to include a “did you get distracted by the football” message.
For ideas and inspiration about how to improve your email game, head to our resources page today.
“If you change the way you look at things, the things you look at change” – Wayne Dyer
Email has changed the way we communicate – it empowers us as marketeers to give consumers exactly what they want and when they want it. What’s more, it continues to be the most powerful revenue-generating channel for brands to reach their customers; for every $1 spent on email, $32 are returned.
With more choice comes greater competition in the inbox, and – for email to stay relevant – innovation and transformation are both key. Today, consumers expect brand messages to be contextual, relevant to both their preferences and activity. And, to effectively achieve this seamless journey, it’s essential that you pair the right data with the right messages.
So, why not let our Digital Marketing Specialists provide a fresh perspective on your email marketing strategy? Whether you want to deliver a high-value showstopper, or just looking for interim support on the everyday stuff, we’re in the best position to step in and provide specialist support for great ROI.
Let us work alongside you to:
Streamline your processes
We can take the pressure off by managing your daily sends in a convenient way, providing briefs and calendar templates alongside any amends you may require.
Let us look at what you’re currently doing and advise on whether we think something could be improved or implemented in a better way.
Offer best practice
Are you optimizing your emails with dotmailer’s features? Let us check.
Our specialist team can guide you on content*, layout and design to make sure you get the very most out of your sends.
Check your templates
Are your templates mobile-optimized? Let us do the hard work and test your templates across all major email clients to ensure your emails have the very best visibility.
Experience our partners
We have an incredible range of partners coming up with new ideas and exciting concepts that can transform your email campaigns and enhance their performance; from rich and inspirational content to engagement generation tactics. Whether it be a countdown timer or pulling in a real-time weather forecast into an email, we’ve got you covered.
How do you stack up against other brands in their email marketing? Check out our Hitting the Mark benchmark report – a free download featuring the hottest insights into the email marketing strategy of 100 UK and US brands.
*Please speak to your Account Manager for more information on copywriting services and campaign management hours.
The concept of social proof is simple: if you see someone else – or a group of people – doing something, you’re more inclined to mirror the behavior yourself. The same is true in the world of commerce, in that consumers are more likely to be persuaded to buy if others like them have done so (and the experience was positive).
It’s no surprise then that dotmailer partner Trustpilot has a string of customers who are seeing significant conversion rate and revenue increases from reviews. Customer testimonials can bolster any kind of digital marketing, including PPC and SEM, yet email remains one of the most powerful ways to drive sales to your website. In fact, on average, email drives 18.4% of ecommerce orders, making it a very attractive marketing channel indeed.
The challenge for marketers is that not only are their emails fighting against a cluttered inbox, they’re also tasked with encouraging users to click through once the email is opened. Personalization, persuasive copy and relevancy go a long way to enhance the performance of email campaigns, but it’s social proof that adds the all-important layer of authenticity and trustworthiness. After all, consumers are more likely to listen to another consumer’s perspective of a product over a brand’s description.
How can I maximize social proof in my emails?
There are two ways to approach social proof in email marketing:
Firstly, there’s the opportunity to add ratings, reviews and trust marks to existing emails. A simple tactic could be adding Trustpilot’s TrustScore to your email header or including a customer review in the footer.
If you’re featuring products in your email, you can also include customers’ star ratings to demonstrate popularity and credibility. In this instance you’ll want to ensure that the product page displays the correct rating and reviews, otherwise you might be doing more harm than good. Thankfully, Trustpilot enables you to add live ratings to your emails and website – so they’ll always be accurate.
Other emails that are worthy of ratings, reviews and trust marks are the welcome series and abandoned cart reminders. Welcome emails are designed to introduce your brand’s USPs and build trust with prospects, and social proof is the perfect way to back up your message. Abandoned cart emails remind customers that they didn’t check out and all it could take is some carefully placed social proof to get them across the line.
Emails built around social proof
While your existing emails can benefit from a peppering of ratings and reviews, social proof can also define a new suite of campaigns:
Top reviewed products
You could create an email featuring your company’s top-reviewed products of the week or month, along with their accompanying ratings.
How you’ve used customers’ feedback
An email telling customers how you’ve used their feedback to make improvements to your product or service shows that you listen and act on comments.
An obvious one, but email is the best way to collect reviews from people who’ve purchased a product or service from you. You can set up an automated email program to deliver the feedback request at the right time in the customer journey – e.g. a day or a few weeks after the order was placed, depending on your offering.
Social proof can go well beyond making your emails a customer-centric marketing device. In this free guide by Trustpilot and eCommerce MasterPlan, you’ll discover how it can also improve your company’s search rankings, bolster remarketing ads and improve AdWords performance.
Your welcome email is the first email that your customers are likely to receive from you. It typically has the highest engagement of any email you are likely to send, and it’s your opportunity to show off what you do and how great you are. It is also a way to thank your customers for buying from you and begin building a relationship with them; yet too many retailers miss this great opportunity. You only get one change to make a first impression.
Office, Sweaty Betty and Hotel Chocolat didn’t send a welcome email at all after signing up. There was no thank you, no offer, and no attempts to capture extra data. This is a lost opportunity for these three companies.
Charles Tyrwhitt, Reebok and Urban Outfitters did send an email after signing up. But their subject lines and content don’t come across like a welcome email and can be easily missed for instance, “15% off your Reebok gear”, “Start Urban Outfitting”, “Hurry, your £10 offer is waiting!” However, their emails are on brand and offer an incentive to take action.
Reebok’s welcome email
If UO replaced its hero image with an animated GIF they would probably see an increase in engagement with their emails.
Urban Outfitters’ email has a nice graphic but a GIF would be more eye-catching
Diesel, Footlocker, Havaianas, Hugo Boss, and Uniqlo also send a timely email shortly after signing up. Yet their emails need a lot of work. They are text-heavy, aren’t on brand and are not particularly engaging. Diesel’s email copy is confusing and tries to get you to create an account.
Lack of branding let Diesel’s email down
All of these brands create a poor initial experience. Footlocker, Fossil and Hugo Boss’s emails are double opt-in emails. This is good for data quality, but it is at the expense of great customer experience. At least Fossil and Hugo Boss’s actual welcome emails are on-brand. But since signing up and confirming my subscription, Footlocker hasn’t sent me a single email.
The welcome email from Hugo Boss
Adidas, Allsaints, Cath Kidston, FootAsylum, Forever21, Jack Wills, Kuoni, Levi’s, Schuh all sent what in my opinion are good welcome emails. They had clear subject lines that welcomed or thanked the user. The copy and design of these emails are on brand and again welcomed the user to the company.
Levi’s welcome email is image-heavy and on brand
Some of the brands like Adidas and Forever 21 included a discount to encourage the customer to engage further, and followed best practice elements to create a positive customer experience.
Adidas offers an incentive in its welcome email
However, the outstanding winner of the welcome emails goes to FootAsylum.
The email has great use of microcopy throughout.
It contains a clear benefit statement of being a subscriber. The benefit statement also set the expectations of what you’re likely to receive.
They use a great Call to Action “Stop Reading. Start Shopping!”
They are also the only company to use their welcome email to collect further data by having a very obvious preference centre within the body of the email.
Finally, the email is clearly on brand.
Foot Asylum wins the welcome email contest
Tips for welcome emails
Make sure you send it immediately after the customer signs up.
Keep the subject line clear and obvious that it’s a welcome email.
Set expectations for what the customer will receive and how frequently.
Provide a benefit statement for signing up.
Use this email as an opportunity to find out more about your customers.
Use preheader text as a follow on from your subject line.
Provide a safe sender message to encourage customers to add your email to their safe senders.
The top three reasons were People, Product and Opportunity. I met the people who make up our business and heard their stories from the past 18 years, learned about the platform and market leading status they had built in the UK, and saw that I could add value with my U.S. high growth business experience. I’ve been working with marketers, entrepreneurs and business owners for years across a series of different roles, and saw that I could apply what I’d learned from that and the start-up space to dotmailer’s U.S. operation. dotmailer has had clients in the U.S. for 12 years and we’re positioned to grow the user base of our powerful and easy-to-use platform significantly. I knew I could make a difference here, and what closed the deal for me was the people. Every single person I’ve met is deeply committed to the business, to the success of our customers and to making our solution simple and efficient. We’re a great group of passionate people and I’m proud to have joined the dotfamily.
Dan Morris, dotmailer’s EVP for North America in the new NYC office
Tell us a bit about your new role
dotmailer has been in business and in this space for more than 18 years. We were a web agency, then a Systems Integrator, and we got into the email business that way, ultimately building the dotmailer platform thousands of people use daily. This means we know this space better than anyone and we have the perfect solutions to align closely with our customers and the solutions flexible enough to grow with them. My role is to take all that experience and the platform and grow our U.S. presence. My early focus has been on identifying the right team to execute our growth plans. We want to be the market leader in the U.S. in the next three years – just like we’ve done in the UK – so getting the right people in the right spots was critical. We quickly assessed the skills of the U.S. team and made changes that were necessary in order to provide the right focus on customer success. Next, we set out to completely rebuild dotmailer’s commercial approach in the U.S. We simplified our offers to three bundles, so that pricing and what’s included in those bundles is transparent to our customers. We’ve heard great things about this already from clients and partners. We’re also increasing our resources on customer success and support. We’re intensely focused on ease of on-boarding, ease of use and speed of use. We consistently hear how easy and smooth a process it is to use dotmailer’s tools. That’s key for us – when you buy a dotmailer solution, we want to onboard you quickly and make sure you have all of your questions answered right away so that you can move right into using it. Customers are raving about this, so we know it’s working well.
What early accomplishments are you most proud of from your dotmailer time so far?
I’ve been at dotmailer for eight months now and I’m really proud of all we’ve accomplished together. We spent a lot of time assessing where we needed to restructure and where we needed to invest. We made the changes we needed, invested in our partner program, localized tech support, customer on-boarding and added customer success team members. We have the right people in the right roles and it’s making a difference. We have a commercial approach that is clear with the complete transparency that we wanted to provide our customers. We’ve got a more customer-focused approach and we’re on-boarding customers quickly so they’re up and running faster. We have happier customers than ever before and that’s the key to everything we do.
You’ve moved the U.S. team to a new office. Can you tell us why and a bit about the new space?
I thought it was very important to create a NY office space that was tied to branding and other offices around the world, and also had its own NY energy and culture for our team here – to foster collaboration and to have some fun. It was also important for us that we had a flexible space where we could welcome customers, partners and resellers, and also hold classes and dotUniversity training sessions. I’m really grateful to the team who worked on the space because it really reflects our team and what we care about. At any given time, you’ll see a training session happening, the team collaborating, a customer dropping in to ask a few questions or a partner dropping in to work from here. We love our new, NYC space.
Guests and the team at dotmailer’s new NYC office warming party
What did you learn from your days in the start-up space that you’re applying at dotmailer?
The start-up space is a great place to learn. You have to know where every dollar is going and coming from, so every choice you make needs to be backed up with a business case for that investment. You try lots of different things to see if they’ll work and you’re ready to turn those tactics up or down quickly based on an assessment of the results. You also learn things don’t have to stay the way they are, and can change if you make them change. You always listen and learn – to customers, partners, industry veterans, advisors, etc. to better understand what’s working and not working. dotmailer has been in business for 18 years now, and so there are so many great contributors across the business who know how things have worked and yet are always keen to keep improving. I am constantly in listening and learning mode so that I can understand all of the unique perspectives our team brings and what we need to act on.
What are your plans for the U.S. and the sales function there?
On our path to being the market leader in the U.S., I’m focused on three things going forward: 1 – I want our customers to be truly happy. It’s already a big focus in the dotmailer organization – and we’re working hard to understand their challenges and goals so we can take product and service to the next level. 2 – Creating an even more robust program around partners, resellers and further building out our channel partners to continuously improve sales and customer service programs. We recently launched a certification program to ensure partners have all the training and resources they need to support our mutual customers. 3 – We have an aggressive growth plan for the U.S. and I’m very focused on making sure our team is well trained, and that we remain thoughtful and measured as we take the steps to grow. We want to always keep an eye on what we’re known for – tools that are powerful and simple to use – and make sure everything else we offer remains accessible and valuable as we execute our growth plans.
What are the most common questions that you get when speaking to a prospective customer?
The questions we usually get are around price, service level and flexibility. How much does dotmailer cost? How well are you going to look after my business? How will you integrate into my existing stack and then my plans for future growth? We now have three transparent bundle options with specifics around what’s included published right on our website. We have introduced a customer success team that’s focused only on taking great care of our customers and we’re hearing stories every day that tells me this is working. And we have all of the tools to support our customers as they grow and to also integrate into their existing stacks – often integrating so well that you can use dotmailer from within Magento, Salesforce or Dynamics, for example.
Can you tell us about the dotmailer differentiators you highlight when speaking to prospective customers that seem to really resonate?
In addition to the ones above – ease of use, speed of use and the ability to scale with you. With dotmailer’s tiered program, you can start with a lighter level of functionality and grow into more advanced functionality as you need it. The platform itself is so easy to use that most marketers are able to build campaigns in minutes that would have taken hours on other platforms. Our customer success team is also with you all the way if ever you want or need help. We’ve built a very powerful platform and we have a fantastic team to help you with personalized service as an extended part of your team and we’re ready to grow with you.
How much time is your team on the road vs. in the office? Any road warrior tips to share?
I’ve spent a lot of time on the road, one year I attended 22 tradeshows! Top tip when flying is to be willing to give up your seat for families or groups once you’re at the airport gate, as you’ll often be rewarded with a better seat for helping the airline make the family or group happy. Win win! Since joining dotmailer, I’m focused on being in office and present for the team and customers as much as possible. I can usually be found in our new, NYC office where I spend a lot of time with our team, in customer meetings, in trainings and other hosted events, sales conversations or marketing meetings. I’m here to help the team, clients and partners to succeed, and will always do my best to say yes! Once our prospective customers see how quickly and efficiently they can execute tasks with dotmailer solutions vs. their existing solutions, it’s a no-brainer for them. I love seeing and hearing their reactions.
Tell us a bit about yourself – favorite sports team, favorite food, guilty pleasure, favorite band, favorite vacation spot?
I’m originally from Yorkshire in England, and grew up just outside York. I moved to the U.S. about seven years ago to join a very fast growing startup, we took it from 5 to well over 300 people which was a fantastic experience. I moved to NYC almost two years ago, and I love exploring this great city. There’s so much to see and do. Outside of dotmailer, my passion is cars, and I also enjoy skeet shooting, almost all types of music, and I love to travel – my goal is to get to India, Thailand, Australia and Japan in the near future.
Without a site that’s precision engineered for a good user experience and high conversion rates, all of your email marketing efforts could be going to waste.
Of course, you do want to market your business and email campaigns are statistically proven to be one of the most successful avenues to do so – according to McKinsey, email is 40 times more effective at acquiring new customers than Facebook and Twitter. VentureBeat also released this year that according to their research, email is generating better return on investment than any other channel. So how do you make sure your site is secure and effective enough to keep customers there once your campaign has enticed them this far?
For the majority of visitors, your homepage will be the first impression you get to make. A great homepage factors in a number of different ingredients to create the biggest positive impact on the user. Chief of which are…
A great homepage is above all engaging, instantly connecting a potential customer with the brand. Engagement comes from a website having personality and a clear message, a customer should feel comfortable with the design and want to interact with it. Take the example below – Mardon, an international seafood import and export company. The large cinematic image captures attention, while the well positioned brand and informative footer let the user know who they’re interacting with. The elements on the page come together to create a beautiful and simple looking design with the feel of a company you can trust and, as a result, want to engage with.
mardon.com designed and built by Nublue.co.uk
The human element
In most cases (and where relevant), adding a human element to your homepage will encourage a positive reaction from users. Having a real life human being can enable customers to relate to your business and products more effectively. We believe in this philosophy so much that our own staff feature heavily throughout our site. Using actual staff members allows you to showcase your people, your greatest asset.
The www.nublue.co.uk homepage
Excellent user experience
Once you’ve made an excellent first impression, you’ll need a functional and user-friendly website that ensures customers aren’t left frustrated by complex navigation or slow load times. Simple, intuitive menus and navigation alongside a website that’s fast enough to keep your users from having to wait.
Load speed is critical. According to surveys done by Gomez.com, 79% of online shoppers who have trouble with web site performance say they won’t return to the site to buy again. There are also statistics that suggest consumers will abandon a site that isn’t loaded within three seconds. High performance hosting is vital to addressing this issue and your site could benefit from the use of a CDN. CDN (Content Delivery Networks) improve speed by offloading your site’s static content – such as images and CSS. This frees up your hosting package to serve only the dynamic parts of your site. The result is a faster, smoother running site, regardless of the user’s location.
Better conversion processes
Trying to get people to make a purchase from an email isn’t easy and the fewer potential stumbling blocks you put in a customer’s way the better.
For ecommerce sites, an optimised checkout with guest login will produce a much smoother, simpler and more effective conversion process. Offering guest login at checkout gives the user an option of either signing up for an account or checking out without doing so, and prevents losing any sales at the last moment.
Another best practice is to introduce ‘trust signals’ so that customers feel confidence in buying from your site. Trust signals range from having visible reviews and testimonials onsite, to things like SSL certificates – which are visible in the url bar and prevent third parties seeing or accessing a customer’s personal details between their browser and your server, through encryption.
An expert design and development team will together implement the best features and functionality using a user-centric approach to ‘reverse-engineer’ your site. Effectively creating the best and simplest customer journey, improving both customer experience and conversion levels, whilst making it as quick and easy as possible for customers to buy from you.
When sending an email campaign, it’s vital that your website is not the weak link in the marketing chain and that leads are clicking through to a secure and effective page. At the heart of an effective website is a full understanding of your audience and the expertise to clearly guide them through the actions you want them to take. This is ultimately accomplished through user friendly navigation and beautiful and engaging design.
The site’s features and functionality need to be thought about and in order to get a website that’s fast enough, you’ll need a tailored, high performance hosting solution – such as CDN.
This post was created by Nublue, a web hosting and Magento ecommerce agency and partner of dotmailer.
Every two years, Moz surveys the brightest minds in SEO and search marketing with a comprehensive set of questions meant to gauge the current workings of Google’s search algorithm. This year’s panel of experts possesses a truly unique set of knowledge and perspectives. We’re thankful on behalf of the entire community for their contribution.
In addition to asking the participants about what does and doesn’t work in Google’s ranking algorithm today, one of the most illuminating group of questions asks the panel to predict the future of search – how the features of Google’s algorithm are expected to change over the next 12 months.
Amazingly, almost all of the factors that are expected to increase in influence revolved around user experience, including:
The experts predicted that more traditional ranking signals, such as those around links and URL structures, would largely remain the same, while the more manipulative aspects of SEO, like paid links and anchor text (which is subject to manipulation), would largely decrease in influence.
The survey also asks respondents to weight the importance of various factors within Google’s current ranking algorithm (on a scale of 1-10). Understanding these areas of importance helps to inform webmasters and marketers where to invest time and energy in working to improve the search presence of their websites.
On-page keyword features
These features describe use of the keyword term/phrase in particular parts of the HTML code on the page (title element, H1s, alt attributes, etc).
Highest influence: Keyword present in title element, 8.34 Lowest influence: Keyword present in specific HTML elements (bold/italic/li/a/etc), 4.16
Titles are still very powerful. Overall, it’s about focus and matching query syntax. If your post is about airplane propellers but you go on a three paragraph rant about gorillas, you’re going to have a problem ranking for airplane propellers.
Keyword usage is vital to making the cut, but we don’t always see it correlate with ranking, because we’re only looking at what already made the cut. The page has to be relevant to appear for a query, IMO, but when it comes to how high the page ranks once it’s relevant, I think keywords have less impact than they once did. So, it’s a necessary but not sufficient condition to ranking.
In my experience, most of problems with organic visibility are related to on-page factors. When I look for an opportunity, I try to check for 2 strong things: presence of keyword in the title and in the main content. Having both can speed up your visibility, especially on long-tail queries.
It’s very easy to link keyword-rich domains with their success in Google’s results for the given keyword. I’m always mindful about other signals that align with domain name which may have contributed to its success. These includes inbound links, mentions, and local citations.
These features describe link metrics for the individual ranking page (such as number of links, PageRank, etc).
Highest influence: Raw quantity of links from high-authority sites, 7.78 Lowest influence: Sentiment of the external links pointing to the page, 3.85
High-quality links still rule rankings. The way a brand can earn links has become more important over the years, whereas link schemes can hurt a site more than ever before. There is a lot of FUD slinging in this respect!
Similar to my thoughts on content, I suspect link-based metrics are going to be used increasingly with a focus on verisimilitude (whether content is actually true or not) and relationships between nodes in Knowledge Graph. Google’s recent issues with things, such as the snippet results for “evolution,” highlight the importance of them only pulling things that are factually correct for featured parts of a SERP. Thus, just counting traditional link metrics won’t cut it anymore.
These features describe elements that indicate qualities of branding and brand metrics.
Highest influence: Search volume for the brand/domain, 6.54 Lowest influence: Popularity of business’s official social media profiles, 3.99
This is clearly on deck to change very soon with the reintegration of Twitter into Google’s Real-Time Results. It will be interesting to see how this affects the “Breaking News” box and trending topics. Social influencers, quality and quantity of followers, RTs, and favorites will all be a factor. And what’s this?! Hashtags will be important again?! Have mercy!
It’s already noticeable; brands are more prominently displayed in search results for both informational and commercial queries. I’m expecting Google will be paying more attention to brand-related metrics from now on (and certainly more initiatives to encourage site owners to optimize for better entity detection).
These features relate to third-party metrics from social media sources (Facebook, Twitter, Google+, etc) for the ranking page.
Highest influence: Engagement with content/URL on social networks, 3.87 Lowest influence: Upvotes for the page on social sites, 2.7
Social ranking factors are important in a revamped Query Deserves Freshness algorithm. Essentially, if your content gets a lot of natural tweets, shares, and likes, it will rank prominently for a short period of time, until larger and more authoritative sites catch up.
Social popularity has several factors to consider: (1) Years ago, Google and Bing said they take into account the authority of a social profile sharing a link and the popularity of the link being shared (retweets/reshares), and there was more complexity to social signals that was never revealed even back then. (2) My experience has been that social links and shares have more power for newsy/fresh-type content. For example, a lot of social shares for a dentist’s office website wouldn’t be nearly as powerful (or relevant to consider) as a lot of social shares for an article on a site with a constant flow of fresh content.
Honestly, I do not think that the so-called “social signals” have any direct influence on the Google Algorithm (that does not mean that a correlation doesn’t exist, though). My only doubt is related to Twitter, because of the renewed contract between Google and Twitter itself. That said, as of now I do not consider Twitter to offer any ranking signals, except for very specific niches related to news and “news-able” content, where QDF plays a fundamental role.
These elements describe non-keyword-usage, non-link-metrics features of individual pages (such as length of the page, load speed, etc).
Highest influence: Uniqueness of the content on the page, 7.85 Lowest influence: Page contains Open Graph data and/or Twitter cards, 3.64
By branching mobile search off of Google’s core ranking algorithm, having a “mobile-friendly” website is probably now less important for desktop search rankings. Our clients are seeing an ever-increasing percentage of organic search traffic coming from mobile devices, though (particularly in retail), so this is certainly not an excuse to ignore responsive design – the opposite, in fact. Click-through rate from the SERPs has been an important ranking signal for a long time and continues to be, flagging irrelevant or poor-quality search listings.
I believe many of these will be measured within the ecosystem, rather than absolutely. For example, the effect of bounce rate (or rather, bounce speed) on a site will be relative to the bounce speeds on other pages in similar positions for similar terms.
I want to answer these a certain way because, while I have been told by Google what matters to them, what I see in the SERPs does not back up what Google claims they want. There are a lot of sites out there with horrible UX that rank in the top three. While I believe it’s really important for conversion and to bring customers back, I don’t feel as though Google is all that concerned, based on the sites that rank highly. Additionally, Google practically screams “unique content,” yet sites that more or less steal and republish content from other sites are still ranking highly. What I think should matter to Google doesn’t seem to matter to them, based on the results they give me.
These features describe link metrics about the domain hosting the page.
Highest influence: Quantity of unique linking domains to the domain, 7.45 Lowest influence: Sentiment of the external links pointing to the site, 3.91
Quantity and quality of unique linking domains at the domain level is still among the most significant factors in determining how a domain will perform as a whole in the organic search results, and is among the best SEO “spot checks” for determining if a site will be successful relative to other competitor sites with similar content and selling points.
Throughout this survey, when I say “no direct influence,” this is interchangeable with “no direct positive influence.” For example, I’ve marked exact match domain as low numbers, while their actual influence may be higher – though negatively.
Topical relevancy has, in my opinion, gained much ground as a relevant ranking factor. Although I find it most at play when at page level, I am seeing significant shifts at overall domain relevancy, by long-tail growth or by topically-relevant domains linking to sites. One way I judge such movements is the growth of the long-tail relevant to the subject or ranking, when neither anchor text (exact match or synonyms) nor exact phrase is used in a site’s content, yet it still ranks very highly for long-tail and mid-tail synonyms.
These features relate to the entire root domain, but don’t directly describe link- or keyword-based elements. Instead, they relate to things like the length of the domain name in characters.
Highest influence: Uniqueness of content across the whole site, 7.52 Lowest influence: Length of time until domain name expires, 2.45
Character length of domain name is another correlative yet not causative factor, in my opinion. They don’t need to rule these out – it just so happens that longer domain names get clicked on, so they get ruled out quickly.
A few points: Google’s document inception date patents describe how Google might handle freshness and maturity of content for a query. The “trust signal” pages sound like a site quality metric that Google might use to score a page on the basis of site quality. Some white papers from Microsoft on web spam signals identified multiple hyphens in subdomains as evidence of web spam. The length of time until the domain expires was cited as a potential signal in Google’s patent on information retrieval through historic data, and was refuted by Matt Cutts after domain sellers started trying to use that information to sell domain extensions to “help the SEO” of a site.
I think that page speed only becomes a factor when it is significantly slow. I think that having error pages on the site doesn’t matter, unless there are so many that it greatly impacts Google’s ability to crawl.
Mobile will continue to increase, with directly-related factors increasing as well. Structured data will increase, along with more data partners and user segmentation/personalization of SERPs to match query intent, localization, and device-specific need states.
I really think that over the next 12-18 months we are going to see a larger impact of structured data in the SERPs. In fact, we are already seeing this. Google has teams that focus on artificial intelligence and machine learning. They are studying “relationships of interest” and, at the heart of what they are doing, are still looking to provide the most relevant result in the quickest fashion. Things like schema that help “educate” the search engines as to a given topic or entity are only going to become more important as a result.
Finally, we leave you with this infographic created by Kevin Engle which shows the relative weighting of broad areas of Google’s algorithm, according to the experts.
What’s your opinion on the future of search and SEO? Let us know in the comments below.
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!