Google says we don’t need no stinking location modifiers… or do we?

Google recently stated that users are beginning to drop location qualifiers when searching for local businesses. But is it time for local SEOs to stop focusing on these terms? Columnist Andrew Shotland discusses. The post Google says we don’t need no stinking location modifiers… or do…

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Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Google hates obnoxious pop-up ads: Here’s why you need to look at the ads on your site

Next year, the search giant will roll out a Chrome browser version with built-in blocking of annoying and intrusive ads. Columnist Sherry Bonelli explains why and provides tips for getting your site ready. The post Google hates obnoxious pop-up ads: Here’s why you need to look at the ads on your…

Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Google (Almost Certainly) Has an Organic Quality Score (Or Something a Lot Like It) that SEOs Need to Optimize For – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Entertain the idea, for a moment, that Google assigned a quality score to organic search results. Say it was based off of click data and engagement metrics, and that it would function in a similar way to the Google AdWords quality score. How exactly might such a score work, what would it be based off of, and how could you optimize for it?

While there’s no hard proof it exists, the organic quality score is a concept that’s been pondered by many SEOs over the years. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand examines this theory inside and out, then offers some advice on how one might boost such a score.

Google's Organic Quality Score

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Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about organic quality score.

So this is a concept. This is not a real thing that we know Google definitely has. But there’s this concept that SEOs have been feeling for a long time, that similar to what Google has in their AdWords program with a paid quality score, where a page has a certain score assigned to it, that on the organic side Google almost definitely has something similar. I’ll give you an example of how that might work.

So, for example, if on my site.com I have these three — this is a very simplistic website — but I have these three subfolders: Products, Blog, and About. I might have a page in my products, 14axq.html, and it has certain metrics that Google associates with it through activity that they’ve seen from browser data, from clickstream data, from search data, and from visit data from the searches and bounces back to the search results, and all these kinds of things, all the engagement and click data that we’ve been talking about a lot this year on Whiteboard Friday.

So they may have these metrics, pogo stick rate and bounce rate and a deep click rate (the rate with which someone clicks to the site and then goes further in from that page), the time that they spend on the site on average, the direct navigations that people make to it each month through their browsers, the search impressions and search clicks, perhaps a bunch of other statistics, like whether people search directly for this URL, whether they perform branded searches. What rate do unique devices in one area versus another area do this with? Is there a bias based on geography or device type or personalization or all these kinds of things?

But regardless of that, you get this idea that Google has this sort of sense of how the page performs in their search results. That might be very different across different pages and obviously very different across different sites. So maybe this blog post over here on /blog is doing much, much better in all these metrics and has a much higher quality score as a result.

Current SEO theories about organic quality scoring:

Now, when we talk to SEOs, and I spend a lot of time talking to my fellow SEOs about theories around this, a few things emerge. I think most folks are generally of the opinion that if there is something like an organic quality score…

1. It is probably based on this type of data — queries, clicks, engagements, visit data of some kind.

We don’t doubt for a minute that Google has much more sophistication than the super-simplified stuff that I’m showing you here. I think Google publicly denies a lot of single types of metric like, “No, we don’t use time on site. Time on site could be very variable, and sometimes low time on site is actually a good thing.” Fine. But there’s something in there, right? They use some more sophisticated format of that.

2. We also are pretty sure that this is applying on three different levels:

This is an observation from experimentation as well as from Google statements which is…

  • Domain-wide, so that would be across one domain, if there are many pages with high quality scores, Google might view that domain differently from a domain with a variety of quality scores on it or one with generally low ones.
  • Same thing for a subdomain. So it could be that a subdomain is looked at differently than the main domain, or that two different subdomains may be viewed differently. If content appears to have high quality scores on this one, but not on this one, Google might generally not pass all the ranking signals or give the same weight to the quality scores over here or to the subdomain over here.
  • Same thing is true with subfolders, although to a lesser extent. In fact, this is kind of in descending order. So you can generally surmise that Google will pass these more across subfolders than they will across subdomains and more across subdomains than across root domains.

3. A higher density of good scores to bad ones can mean a bunch of good things:

  • More rankings in visibility even without other signals. So even if a page is sort of lacking in these other quality signals, if it is in this blog section, this blog section tends to have high quality scores for all the pages, Google might give that page an opportunity to rank well that it wouldn’t ordinarily for a page with those ranking signals in another subfolder or on another subdomain or on another website entirely.
  • Some sort of what we might call “benefit of the doubt”-type of boost, even for new pages. So a new page is produced. It doesn’t yet have any quality signals associated with it, but it does particularly well.

    As an example, within a few minutes of this Whiteboard Friday being published on Moz’s website, which is usually late Thursday night or very early Friday morning, at least Pacific time, I will bet that you can search for “Google organic quality score” or even just “organic quality score” in Google’s engine, and this Whiteboard Friday will perform very well. One of the reasons that probably is, is because many other Whiteboard Friday videos, which are in this same subfolder, Google has seen them perform very well in the search results. They have whatever you want to call it — great metrics, a high organic quality score — and because of that, this Whiteboard Friday that you’re watching right now, the URL that you see in the bar up above is almost definitely going to be ranking well, possibly in that number one position, even though it’s brand new. It hasn’t yet earned the quality signals, but Google assumes, it gives it the benefit of the doubt because of where it is.

  • We surmise that there’s also more value that gets passed from links, both internal and external, from pages with high quality scores. That is right now a guess, but something we hope to validate more, because we’ve seen some signs and some testing that that’s the case.

3 ways to boost your organic quality score

If this is true — and it’s up to you whether you want to believe that it is or not — even if you don’t believe it, you’ve almost certainly seen signs that something like it’s going on. I would urge you to do these three things to boost your organic quality score or whatever you believe is causing these same elements.

1. You could add more high-performing pages. So if you know that pages perform well and you know what those look like versus ones that perform poorly, you can make more good ones.

2. You can improve the quality score of existing pages. So if this one is kind of low, you’re seeing that these engagement and use metrics, the SERP click-through rate metrics, the bounce rate metrics from organic search visits, all of these don’t look so good in comparison to your other stuff, you can boost it, improve the content, improve the navigation, improve the usability and the user experience of the page, the load time, the visuals, whatever you’ve got there to hold searchers’ attention longer, to keep them engaged, and to make sure that you’re solving their problem. When you do that, you will get higher quality scores.

3. Remove low-performing pages through a variety of means. You could take a low-performing page and you might say, “Hey, I’m going to redirect that to this other page, which does a better job answering the query anyway.” Or, “Hey, I’m going to 404 that page. I don’t need it anymore. In fact, no one needs it anymore.” Or, “I’m going to no index it. Some people may need it, maybe the ones who are visitors to my website, who need it for some particular direct navigation purpose or internal purpose. But Google doesn’t need to see it. Searchers don’t need it. I’m going to use the no index, either in the meta robots tag or in the robots.txt file.”

One thing that’s really interesting to note is we’ve seen a bunch of case studies, especially since MozCon, when Britney Muller, Moz’s Head of SEO, shared the fact that she had done some great testing around removing tens of thousands of low-quality, really low-quality performing pages from Moz’s own website and seen our rankings and our traffic for the remainder of our content go up quite significantly, even controlling for seasonality and other things.

That was pretty exciting. When we shared that, we got a bunch of other people from the audience and on Twitter saying, “I did the same thing. When I removed low-performing pages, the rest of my site performed better,” which really strongly suggests that there’s something like a system in this fashion that works in this way.

So I’d urge you to go look at your metrics, go find pages that are not performing well, see what you can do about improving them or removing them, see what you can do about adding new ones that are high organic quality score, and let me know your thoughts on this in the comments.

We’ll look forward to seeing you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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New Report: 5 Statistics You Need to Know on How Content Influences Purchases

How Content Influences the Purchasing Process

These days there’s no question that great content is a foundational element of any marketing strategy—especially in B2B. In fact, according to Content Marketing Institute’s (CMI) 2017 benchmarking report, 89% of B2B marketers use content marketing to “attract and retain a clearly defined audience—and, ultimately, to drive profitable customer action.” And thanks to yet another insightful report from CMI—the latter objective is our focus today. Last week, CMI and SmartBrief released their How Content Influences the Purchasing Process report, featuring data and insights collected from 1,200 SmartBrief subscribers. The aim of the report was to dig into the minds of those who are actually consuming content, and uncover what types of content are most influential, how decision-makers perceive vendor content, and more. From a marketer’s perspective, the findings both reinforce and redefine how marketers should be crafting their B2B content marketing strategies. Below I share five key statistics from the report, and some associated takeaways that can help you both bolster and boost your content efforts to drive action by decision makers.

#1 – 81% say they generally conduct research before bringing a vendor in.

Marketers know that the modern buyer’s journey is becoming increasingly self-directed. After all, this shift is arguably what drove the emergence of content marketing in the first place. So, it’s no surprise that CMI and SmartBrief’s report revealed that an overwhelming majority of decision-makers are conducting their own research before making contact with a vendor. The big takeaway: Simply put, decision-makers want to be educated. Thanks to the rise of the internet, social media and mobile technologies, buyers are more empowered than ever to take things into their own hands. As a result, marketers need to double-down on their efforts to guide people through the purchasing process by creating content for each stage of the sales funnel. For the TopRank Marketing team, this means leveraging the Attract, Engage, Convert model, as well as an integrated mix of tactics, to craft customer-centric content that’s easy to find, consume and share. [bctt tweet=”Simply put, decision-makers want to be educated. #B2B #contentmarketing @cmicontent” username=”toprank”]

#2 – 40% say credibility trumps the source of information.

Since decision-makers are often taking research into their own hands, it stands to reason that they’re consuming information from a variety of sources. According to the report, 66% of respondents admitted to using sources other than vendors to initially collect information. But perhaps one of the most interesting revelations was that 40% say the information source isn’t a big concern. In the end, they just want good, credible information. The big takeaway: As long as the content is credible, the source doesn’t matter. While an organization’s owned channels may never be a one-stop-shop for all prospects’ needs, the report encourages vendors to ensure their websites are up-to-date. In addition, since your prospects will likely come into contact with your brand in a variety of ways, marketers can take the lead on evaluating how their brand is being presented across all channels (i.e. printed materials, social media, third-party review sites, in-person events, etc.) to ensure consistency and build credibility. [bctt tweet=”When it comes to gathering info for purchasing decisions, #content credibility > source. @cmicontent” username=”toprank”]

#3 – 62% say they want content that speaks to their specific needs and pain points.

As marketers, it’s our job to dig deep to understand who our audience is, the challenges they face and the questions they’re asking. But perhaps we’re falling a little short in this area. According to the report, the No. 1 most important quality for content during the purchasing process is that is speaks to the specific needs or pain points of the decision-maker. Product or service specifications, and educational rather than promotional, came in at No. 2 and No. 3 respectively. The big takeaway: Give the people what they want by delivering best-answer content that is tailored to specific niches, scenarios, pain points or questions your prospects/customers are asking. But where do you start? From my perspective, your first stop should absolutely be your sales team. These folks are in the trenches every day and can give you detailed insights on customer characteristics (i.e. job title, company name, company size, etc.), as well as the challenges they’re looking to solve. Then conduct keyword topic research, and analyze your website and social data to learn more about how your prospects are searching and how they’re engaging with your existing content. [bctt tweet=”Give the people what they want: best-answer #content tailored to specific niches. #B2B #contentmarketing” username=”toprank”]

#4 – Just 21% rank blog posts as influential in their purchasing decisions.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, CMI and SmartBrief found that 80% of decision-makers ranked peer recommendations as their No. 1 purchasing influencer. But the No. 2 spot went to original research, with 74% of respondents rating it as influential. Furthermore, many of the most “traditional” content marketing tactics such as eBooks (33%), blogs and articles (21%)  and email newsletters (21%) landed toward the bottom. The big takeaway: It’s time to expand your content mix. To revisit CMI’s 2017 benchmark survey, social media content (83%), blogs (80%) and email newsletters (77%) were ranked as the top three most-used content marketing tactics. But as stated above, these are less influential in purchasing decisions. So, if you want to really connect with decision-makers, it’s probably time to step up with more robust and engaging content offerings such as webinars, on-demand product demos and—if you have the bandwidth and budget—original research. Now, this doesn’t mean you should completely abandon blogs or email marketing. Every organization’s content mix will be different depending on the industry and business objectives. Take stock of what you’re doing, and use the data and insights you have to draw some conclusions about what is and isn’t working. This will help you make decisions on where to ramp up your efforts, and where you can start dabbling with different content types. [bctt tweet=”Based on @cmicontent research, it may be time to expand your #contentmarketing mix.” username=”toprank”]

#5 – Just 5% say they share information with colleagues on social media.

Generally speaking, purchasing decisions are a group effort. But how are decision-makers communicating with one another? According to the report, the vast majority (82%) of decision-makers are sharing content via email with other colleagues. The next most popular channels are conference calls (64%) or through a shared document or folder (36%)—with social channels coming in at 5% or less. The big takeaway: Social sharing metrics don’t give you the full engagement picture, so don’t fret if your shares are looking a little low. From my perspective, the bottom line here is the more you tap into the unique content needs and pain points of your audience, the better chance your content has at making an impression on all decision-makers. [bctt tweet=”#B2B decision-makers are sharing #content via email – not #social. @cmicontent” username=”toprank”]

Want to Read the Full Report?

Get access to the free report here. Are you surprised by any of the findings in the report? Tell us in the comments section below.

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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

Instagram Live Replays: What Marketers Need to Know

Are you using live video on Instagram? Wondering how to save Instagram live videos so followers can replay them later? In this article, you’ll discover how to get an extra 24 hours of view time for your live videos with Instagram Live video replays. Who Has Access to Instagram Live Video Replays The great news […]

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What marketers need to know about addressable TV and OLV

As the population ages, the folks with the spending power are more likely to watch TV in non-traditional ways. Contributor Justin Freid explains how marketers can tap into this audience with online video and addressable TV. The post What marketers need to know about addressable TV and OLV…

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3 Reasons You’re Not Getting the SEO Budget You Need to Be Successful

I have heard digital marketers say that Search Engine Optimization is “free” traffic. I want to help set the record straight by letting you know that SEO is not “free.” Budgets are still needed to write content and have a SEO consultant work on a website.

There have been multiple times in my career that I needed to create a compelling argument for more budget for an SEO campaign. These types of recommendations are often challenged, yet thousands of dollars for PPC can be spent without blinking an eye. Some marketers would say it’s easier to see the ROI on ad spend compared to the SEO campaigns and initiatives that we are also running.

There are a three reasons that SEO specialists struggle to get the budgets they want compared to their digital advertising counterparts including:

  1. SEO is a long-term strategy
  2. Proving ROI for SEO
  3. Potential SEO risks from blackhat tactics

Now is the time to learn how to showcase the importance of SEO and fight for the budget that it needs to make your website successful from an organic standpoint. Below are some top tips for getting the SEO budget that you want and need to show success.

SEO is a long-term strategy

The first step to getting the budget you request is educating your team and decision makers that SEO is a long-term strategy. Of course, there are SEO tactics that you can complete, but SEO takes time to work when done correctly.

By providing education and information, you are able to build trust from the start and setting realistic expectations for all parties involved.

The competitive nature of your industry will also determine how much SEO budget you will need. A competitive industry should expect to pay more money to be aggressive to gain more visibility. Competitive industries usually take a longer time to penetrate from an SEO standpoint and will need a more advanced strategy to succeed.

Most seasoned SEO specialists can provide an estimate on when a website will see an organic benefit, especially when prioritizing tactics. State that from the list of prioritized SEO tactics, you can estimated that the website will begin to see organic performance improvements within a couple weeks to months.

Proving ROI for SEO campaigns

This might be the most important reason you are not getting the budget you are requesting. SEO can be hard to attribute success to if you don’t plan for it. Tracking and monitoring your analytics is crucial to success. Often, SEO teams will report on the wrong metrics like sessions, bounce rate and keyword rankings. Those vanity metrics are important to track but not necessarily to the most essential metrics to share with an executive. Instead, focus on showing how many conversions were generated through organic sessions.

Then, it’s important to come to a consensus on what those conversions normally net for ROI. That way you can show an estimate on revenue from the organic campaigns. ead of monetary value.

SEO teams can also leverage information about what the company is investing in PPC efforts to create a budget and SEO strategy to rank for those keywords organically, potentially saving the company money. Then, that money that is saved can be reallocated to other paid efforts or additional SEO campaigns.

The potential SEO risks of negative tactics from previous SEO consultants

Most marketers are aware of the negative or blackhat SEO tactics from the past (and present). The real issue with these tactics is once discovered, it can be difficult to reverse the impact. More often than not, webmasters who have been hit with a SEO penalty can be reluctant to work with other SEO vendors. Additionally, there a multiple websites online that are willing to charge a low amount of money while providing guarantees that are meaningless. Blackhat tactics and terrible guarantees shine a bad light on the search industry.

When searching for a potential agency or partner for SEO, be sure that they are not implementing blackhat SEO tactics as they can have a long-term impact.

Time to get your budget

SEO is a tried-and-true, cornerstone tactic of successful digital marketing programs. If you’re struggling to get the budget you need, the tips above can help you secure a SEO budget that will help you meet your marketing goals.

If you’re on the hunt for an agency to help you meet your organic search goals, take a look at our Search Engine Optimization services to see if we are a fit for your needs.


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Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®

What Brands Need to Know About Instagram’s New ‘Paid Partnership’ Feature

Influencer marketing is booming—and it’s not hard to see why. Influencers lend authority and credibility to your brand and content, help connect you with new audiences, and typically deliver more ROI than traditional digital marketing tactics. As a result, brands large and small are forming both paid and unpaid partnerships with influencers—and using social platforms to spread their message.

For those brands and marketers engaging in paid partnerships with influencers on Instagram, a change is on the horizon. Last week, Instagram officially announced it would soon roll out its new “paid partnership with” tag for posts and stories.

“The relationships people form on Instagram are what makes our 700M+ community so unique,” Instagram said in its announcement. “It’s here where the world comes together to discover and connect to their passions. Because of this, creators (influencers & publishers) and businesses often join forces to tap into Instagram’s passionate communities with branded content. As more and more partnerships form on Instagram, it’s important to ensure the community is able to easily recognize when someone they follow is paid to post content.”

According to SocialMediaToday, Instagram began testing the partner tag feature—which is similar to what parent-company, Facebook, implemented last year—back in March. And while there’s no official deadline, Instagram said the rollout will be happening slowly over the next few weeks.

So, what do brands and marketers need to know about the new feature? Below are a few key takeaways from the announcement.

#1 – The new feature will enhance transparency—and credibility.

Enhancing influencer marketing transparency is at the core of Instagram’s decision to launch the new tagging option. Not only does the company want to ensure followers can easily recognize sponsored content, but they want to make it easy for influencers and businesses to provide that clarity. In fact, according to TechCrunch, Instagram’s Creative Programs Director Charles Porch said businesses are “looking for ways to be super transparent with their followers when they have a partnership.”

The good news is that brands can use this new level of transparency to their advantage. Simply put, influencers help brands make authentic and meaningful connections with their audience, as well as build brand awareness and credibility. And more transparency means more credibility and authenticity—something modern consumers crave and respect.

In addition, this enhanced transparency will help brands better comply with Federal Trade Commission (FTC) disclosure policies. Back in April, the FTC reported that it had sent out more than 90 letters to marketers and influencers “reminding” them to clearly disclose their relationships to brands when promoting or endorsing products on social media.

#2 – You’ll get access to new data and insights.

Perhaps the most attractive perk brands and marketers will enjoy with the new tagging feature is access to data on influencers’ posts.

“When the partners use this tag, they will both have access to Insights to track exactly how their branded content posts and stories are performing,” Instagram explained. “Creators will continue to see metrics in their Instagram Insights, and business partners will see shared reach and engagement metrics in their Facebook Page Insights.”

As you can imagine, having this data will give you insight into the real impact of your influencer marketing efforts, and help you make informed decisions on where to go next.

#3 – Adding the tag will be quick and easy.

As you can see from the sample photo below, the tag will be prominently, yet simply, displayed at the top of each post. As far as the mechanics of tagging a partner go, an “Add Partner” option will reportedly be nested under the “Tag People” selection—making it incredibly easy to add to any post.

#4 – An official policy and enforcement procedure is in the works.

At this point, Instagram has not announced it’s official policy on tagging paid partnerships, nor how it plans to actually enforce it. But, according to last week’s announcements, it’s in the works and is expected to be announced in the next few months.

Are Paid Influencer Marketing Tactics Right for Your Brand?

As TopRank Marketing CEO Lee Odden often says: “Everyone is influential about something.” As a result, nearly every brand could benefit from adding influencers into their marketing mix. Whether paid tactics are the right course, there’s no one-size-fits all answer. Like any other marketing tactic, you need to consider your industry, business objectives, budget, current marketing mix, target audience and types of influencers you want to work with to make an informed decision. (Of course, if you need help crafting a plan, we’d love to help!)

What’s your reaction to the new Instagram partner tag? Tell us in the comments section below.


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