Archives May 2017

Content Optimization for Maximum Reach

Episode Overview: A plethora of tools and techniques exist in SEO to help elevate, extend and maximize the reach of your content, but it can be difficult to decide which methods best suit you and your business. Join Ben as he continues High Value Content Week with Searchmetrics’ very own Content Lead Marlon Glover as they discuss tips and strategies to boost and maximize the reach of your best and non-performing content.

Summary:

  • Optimizing and maximizing the reach of evolving evergreen content requires noting new nuances of a particular question or search query your content addresses over time.
  • Optimization priority needs to be placed on having the biggest impact in the shortest amount of time with minimal effort.

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Ben:                             Welcome to High Value Content Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro, and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day talking about how you can find and optimize your highest value content. Joining us again for High Value Content Week is Mr. Marlon Glover, who is the content team lead here at Searchmetrics. Today Marlon and I are going to talk about optimizing content to reach its maximum efficiency, but before we hear from Marlon I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a free trial of the Searchmetrics suite. That’s right. You can now start a trial of both the Searchmetrics SEO suite and our content experience tool without paying a dime. To start your free trial, head over to Searchmetrics.com/freetrial.

Ben:                             Okay. On with the show, here’s my conversation with Marlon Glover, content team lead at Searchmetrics. Marlon, midway through the week. Welcome back to High Value Content Week on the Voices of Search podcast.

Marlon:                      Thanks Ben for having me, man. I feel like we spent a lot of time together this week.

Ben:                             Well, the week is flying by. I’m enjoying every second of it. We’re talking a lot about content. The beginning of the week we talked about identifying the opportunity to make content that isn’t performing rank. Yesterday we talked about the opportunity to make content that’s performing well rank better. Today we’re going to get into some of the tips and tricks that you have for actually evaluating what you can do to boost your content, well-performing, non-performing content. Talk to me about some of the tactics that you use to take an existing piece of content and boost it up in the rankings.

Marlon:                        Well, Ben, I apologize in advance because this is going to sound like an infomercial, but I use Searchmetrics content experience. I’ve used a few other tools out there in the marketplace and this is one tool I’ve found that is pretty great in giving me recommendations and my writers recommendations on how we can fully optimize content based on the words on a page to perform better in Google. Looking at word count, looking at keyword coverage, looking at the amount of repetitions and how well it’s written from a grammatical standpoint, that’s a great starting point for helping our writers and our content creators optimize content for SEO. It’s not the end point but it’s definitely a great starting point. It helps us get us some good guidance there.

Ben:                             Hey, look, we try not to hammer you over the head with “Use Searchmetrics tools for everything.” Searchmetrics is an enterprise suite. It’s meant for companies with lots of content. Those aren’t the only people that are listening to this podcast. There are some smaller businesses, some SEOs that don’t have the page volume or even the traffic where they can rationalize a Searchmetrics relationship. By the way, there’s a free trial. Use the free trial.

Ben:                             Let’s talk about why the Searchmetrics content experience platform provides value and a little bit more about what it does, because there’s other ways that SEOs can do similar things. Obviously it’s easier when it’s done for you, but Searchmetrics is basically telling you things like keyword density. What are the keywords that you need to have on the page and how many do you have too many of? What’s the content length, right? What are some of the other things that you need to look at to evaluate a piece of content?

Marlon:                        I think the topic of keywords has been addressed for a long time and I don’t even like the term keyword density today. It’s not something I typically use with my clients.

Ben:                               How about the important word repetition?

Marlon:                        Important … That’s why they pay you the big bucks, Ben. No, I mean, I think that semantic association, again, using some of my SEO vernacular here, is something that the technology helps us replicate. Folks that aren’t familiar with using SEO tools for creating content, what it allows us to do is define other related topics and association to one that we are targeting a piece of content around. In essence, the first step of the content experience tool replicates this idea of I want to go out there and I want to write a piece of content, but what other phrases, what other terms should I be incorporating, or what other sub topics, better yet, should I be incorporating in this piece of content to make this content as comprehensive as possible? The goal here is that I want to be able to adequately answer a question based on the other pieces of content that is answering that particular question in search results.

Ben:                             Let’s talk about a concrete example here. When you’re talking about semantic association, and I’m going to stay away from saying, “Hey, here’s how the Searchmetrics suite does it,” let’s say I’m banned from Searchmetrics for life, probably something like that’ll happen eventually. I can’t use the suite and I am creating a piece of content that I want to optimize. I need to figure out what semantic associations Google thinks are relevant. The piece of content, name a topic, I don’t know, let’s say my favorite football team, right? I’m talking about the Cal Bears and their probability for going to the Rose Bowl, which is low unfortunately. If I want that piece of content to rank, how do I figure out the other terms, the semantic associations that Google thinks I should put on the page?

Marlon:                       I think in this case, what I would typically do, Ben, is I’m still a user of Google Trends, so starting with a topic in Google Trends and even finding some of the trending topics or related topics down at the bottom of that trend data is something that I can understand a little bit around what are some of the related topics that Google is telling us is related to your Cal Bears. The other thing is I think as simple as typing in, doing the search for your favorite sports team and looking at the URLs that are ranking for that, and ultimately understanding kind of what are the commonalities amongst the top ranking URLs for this given topic that Google was rewarding in a search result.

Ben:                             Basically what Searchmetrics’s suite is doing is looking at the URLs that are ranking for a specific page, coming up with the commonalities of what is on those page and it gives you an understanding of what terms you need to put on it. The example for the Cal Bears football and Rose Bowl, I can just tell you from experience the words “Not going to,” and, “Again,” have to be associated with those pieces of content. It’s heartbreaking. Anyway, that’s neither here nor there. When you’re optimizing a piece of content and you’re trying to figure out what is its maximum efficiency, I have a piece of content, I’m going to change the words around, make sure I have the right semantic associations, how do you figure out when you’re done optimizing?

Marlon:                        How to figure out when you’re done optimizing? I think the best answer to that is you’re never done optimizing a piece of content. I think that if it’s truly evergreen in nature, then that content or that topic is going to be constantly evolving. The best thing that we can hope to do is to make sure that we’re addressing the new nuances of that question over time.

Marlon:                        Now, that said, going back to the technology that we use to optimize content, there is a score that’s sort of embedded within our content experience tool. Now, one thing that we do is, and this is a pro tip that I give to some of our clients that have advanced to this level, is let’s say we’ve decided to optimize for a given topic. Our content editor has pulled in all of the recommended phrases, the recommended word count for this topic. Oftentimes what I’ll do, Ben, is I’ll copy and paste a top performing article and paste it into our editor to understand what that score is. This top URL, what score have they achieved? Looking at those elements, keyword density or keyword coverage, word count, repetitions, all of those things that we know that makes a piece of content successful, take that content out. We have our benchmark score. Now I’ll paste our existing content or take our draft of our new content in there and try to at least reach that benchmark of that top performing content.

Ben:                             Yeah, I think I’m going to disagree with you a little bit on when are you done optimizing a piece of content. I think that when it’s no longer a priority, right? If you hit a perfect content score and you’re ranking in the top spot and you’re ranking one, it does not make sense to invest more time into optimizing that piece of content. You should be optimizing the pieces of content that have the highest opportunity in front of you, whether it’s the Searchmetrics suite or whatever else you’re using to do the content optimization. Your priority needs to be on where you’re going to have the biggest impact in the shortest period of time with the least amount of effort.

Ben:                             That’s where doing your research and understanding where there is opportunity to grow, what the competition is, maybe you’re going from spot two to spot one for your biggest piece of content because there is so much opportunity for that head term, or maybe it’s I have 500 pieces of content that I can bring from spot 11 to spot 10 and those pieces of content need to be optimized. This is really less of a question about how can I get a piece of content to perform, and more where is the biggest opportunity for my business?

Marlon:                        No, I think you’re absolutely right. I see your point and I think that the point that I was making is that content is always evolving and we want to stay in front of those trends.

Ben:                             Yeah, you’re totally right. You can reach a peak with content. It doesn’t mean that you’re going to stay there. You’re totally right where like, yes, you can always improve a piece of content. It might not always be the priority. These things change over time. You constantly need to be evaluating. You might not be always working on the same piece of content, but you should be looking and understanding what is your priority.

Ben:                             That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Marlon Glover, content team lead here at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. If you’re interested in contacting Marlon, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter, where his handle is Marlon_Glover, or you can, of course, reach out to him through the Searchmetrics website. If you have general marketing questions, or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, or if you’re interested in being a guest on the show, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can shoot me a tweet @BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.

Ben:                             If you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic, online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to Searchmetrics.com/freetrial for a test run of the Searchmetrics SEO suite and content experience platform. If you like this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss syndicating your highest value content. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.


Sitemaps & SEO: Are Sitemaps Still Important for SEO in 2019?

As SEO evolves, it gets more and more human-centered and people in the industry begin to question old techniques, targeted mostly at search engines. Such is the case with Sitemaps, which have been around for ages.

Do sitemaps still matter for SEO in 2019 or are they just a waste of time? When and why should you use them? And how can you optimize them for maximum SEO results?

How_Sitemaps_Affect_SEO2.1

In this article, you’ll find out the answers to all those questions, so keep reading!

  1. What Are Sitemaps & How Do They Work?
  2. Are Sitemaps Important for SEO?
  3. How to Add a Sitemap to Your Website
  4. How to Optimize Your Sitemaps for SEO

What Are Sitemaps & How Do They Work?

Sitemaps are files used to tell search engines about pages that are available for crawling on websites. These files are simply just a list of URLs that contain some extra information about the pages, such as when they were last updated, for example.

Sitemap Types

There are two types of sitemap formats, but they can be split into multiple categories, depending on their purpose.

First, we have HTML sitemaps and XML sitemaps.

HTML sitemaps are basically just web pages containing href tags which link to other pages. They are useful for users when seeking something but also for search engines. Crawlers discover your website by ‘clicking’ from link to link until there are no more new links to be found.

If all your website’s links are in a sitemap, be it HTML or XML, search engines will find those pages more easily.

A HTML sitemap would look something like this to a user:

Basic HTML Sitemap

The HTML code in the backend would be pretty simple as well:

Of course, you’re free to add to the HTML sitemap page any CSS you want to style it, as well as a navigation menu, structure or titles.

A good sitemap example in HTML format can be found on the Disney Store. As you can see, all the important categories are listed there and you can basically browse the entire site from that page alone.

Disney Store HTML Sitemap Example

However, the standardized format for distributing sitemaps is the XML format. Search engines use these to read more information about the page, such as the title, directly from the sitemap file.

You can also upload XML files to tools such as the Search Console (former Google Webmaster Tools), where Google will validate it and check it from time to time.

An XML Sitemap is a little bit more difficult to write, as it contains all the metadata about the page in a standardized format. While visually the XML sitemap might not look very different, at a core level you can immediately see they are a lot more complex:

<?xml version="1.0" encoding="UTF-8"?>
<urlset xmlns="http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9">
<url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/</loc>
<lastmod>2005-01-01</lastmod>
<changefreq>monthly</changefreq>
<priority>0.8</priority>
</url>
</urlset>

You can see some special tags there such as <loc> and <lastmod>. These two tags are very important, so make sure you add them to your sitemap! The other two might be ignored by Google. We’ll talk about them soon.

Note that the URLs in the XML sitemaps are absolute. This means that you can’t just add /your-page but you must add https://yoursite.com/your-page instead.

If we go back to our Disney example, we can see that the site also has a XML Sitemap, targeted at search engines.

XML Sitemap Example Disney

You can go one step further and show sitemaps only to Search Engines. You can differentiate via the user agent and show an HTML sitemap instead if a real person visits the page.

Yoast SEO already does this. Visiting a /sitemap_index.xml file on a WordPress website will return an HTML sitemap, while hitting CTRL + U to view the source will return the actual XML sitemap.

Sitemap Categories

As previously mentioned, sitemaps can be split into categories, depending on their purpose.

Normal sitemaps: These are by far the most common sitemaps. Pretty much every website out there tends to have one. That’s because most platforms include some sort of sitemap generation system by default.

They are delivered in XML format and can usually be found on the relative path /sitemap.xml.

Most WordPress websites have their sitemap on /sitemap_index.xml. That is the default URL for sitemaps generated by the Yoast SEO plugin.

The sitemap is delivered by Yoast SEO that way with a purpose. XML files can only become so large before it’s unreliable for crawlers to download and read them.

There’s a limit of 50,000 URLs and 50MB for an XML file, but Google limits that to only 10MB so make sure your file doesn’t have more than 50,000 URLs and 10MB.

If you have a particularly large website, you can break your sitemap into multiple smaller sitemaps and use a sitemap index file to manage them.

Search engines will know how to crawl these as long as you provide the right format for your index file.

<sitemapindex xmlns=”http://www.sitemaps.org/schemas/sitemap/0.9″>
<sitemap>
<loc>https://example.com/pages-sitemap.xml</loc>
<lastmod>2019-04-17T15:12:13+00:00</lastmod>
</sitemap>
<sitemap>
<loc>https://example.com/product-sitemap.xml</loc>
<lastmod>2019-05-15T14:04:43+00:00</lastmod>
</sitemap>
</sitemapindex>

Then, on each XML sitemap, you can use the regular format mentioned above.

Image sitemaps: Normally, images can be added to a regular XML sitemap. However, if you have a lot of them, it might be a good idea to create a separate XML file only for your images.

More information on how to properly add images to your sitemaps can be found here.

Video sitemaps: You can also add videos to your sitemaps. However, similarly to images, the videos are listed in the sitemap in relation to a page / URL.

If you only have a few pages that contain video, just add that information in the normal sitemap. However, if you have an entire section of your website full with videos, then you might consider splitting them into a separate sitemap.

More info on how to properly include videos in your sitemaps can be found here.

News sitemaps: If you have a news website, then you can specify it in your sitemap. Since Google has a News section, it can really come in handy when quick indexation is a requirement.

More details about how to properly create a news sitemap can be found here.

Last but not least, Sitemaps can be static or dynamic. I would see no purpose in having a static sitemap though, as it would have to be updated simultaneously with the addition of new pages on the website.

If the goal of the sitemap is to let search engines know about new pages, then it should be updated as soon as the pages are published.

This means that you need a dynamic sitemap in order for it to be effective. Keep reading and you’ll learn how to generate a dynamic sitemap for your website.

Are Sitemaps Important for SEO?

First, let’s hear what Matt Cutts has to say about this:

But hold your horses, as you’ll want to prioritize your tasks! There are other much bigger technical SEO issues you should fix before adding a sitemap.

For example, do you have duplicate content on your website? If yes, then you should fix that first. Why? Because Google doesn’t like duplicate content and, by creating and submitting a sitemap, you’re showing it directly to Google.

Sitemaps are not required for search engines to effectively crawl your website.

However, they can come in handy, in particular cases. Since they are listed in the Search Console, it is certain that Google offers them some attention.

A sitemap will be most useful in the following scenarios:

You have a big website: Anything from eComm to big informational websites or news outlets fits here. If your site has a lot of pages, it means it will burn quickly your crawl budget. A sitemap won’t help with the crawl budget, but it can help get some deeper pages indexed faster.

A big website might also mean you make frequent updates. Maybe you post new products a lot and remove old ones. Maybe you are a news outlet. Having your XML sitemap set up properly can ensure the most important pages on your site are crawled and indexed.

Your site has a bad internal linking strategy: If you don’t regularly link in-between your pages, some of them might be hard to crawl by search engines. A sitemap could help here. But again… missing an internal linking structure is a far greater technical SEO issue than missing a sitemap. Search Engines focus on crawling your website naturally first. Even if Google does discover a page through your sitemap, without any links to it no Page Rank will flow to it so it will be considered unimportant.

Your site is new or/and has very little backlinks: Since websites are discovered from link to link, it is essential that other websites link to your site to signal its existence. If no website links to your new blog posts, a sitemap can help search engines quickly discover new pages on your site.

Sitemaps can be also used to hide pages from users while still letting search engines crawl them. I can’t really think of a good example for this… But let’s say you have a product landing page you want to show to search engines with a discount as an incentive to click, but you want to keep it hidden from users which came on your site from direct traffic.

Of course, they would be visible if the user visits the actual sitemap file.

There are things though that don’t matter in sitemaps anymore. For example, change frequency and priority don’t matter. At least that’s what John Mueller says:

https://platform.twitter.com/widgets.js

In any way, adding a sitemap to your website will not do any harm. But the truth is you might not REALLY need one, or that you have other priorities which can bring bigger SEO benefits.

Or, how Google puts it:

Google says sitemaps won't harm your SEO

Source: https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/156184?hl=en

So… if your SEO is perfect and you don’t have anything better to do… let’s add a sitemap to your website.

How to Add a Sitemap to Your Website

First, check if you already have a sitemap! As previously mentioned, it probably lurks somewhere under /sitemap.xml or /sitemap_index.xml. The files could also have the .html extension so check them as well.

If you don’t have a sitemap, you can always create one. The difficulty really depends on what type of platform your website is built on.

How to Add a Sitemap on a Custom Made Website

If it’s a custom made website, adding a sitemap might require your developers to intervene.

Of course, you can just generate a static XML sitemap and upload it to your server. You could even write one yourself, but that would take forever! However, a static sitemap means you would constantly have to generate it every time you add a new page to your website in order for it to be effective.

The developers would have to write some code. The process is pretty straight forward. As a new page/entry is added to the database, an nXML file must be updated with the required information.

If you want to go for the free option, you can generate a sitemap with https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/. The tool will simply crawl your website and structure the information it finds about the URLs in an XML file which you’ll then be able to download to your computer and upload it to your public_html folder on your server.

XML Sitemap Generator

However, this has its flaws. Firstly, it will be static which means you’ll have to keep regenerating and reuploading it. Secondly, since the tool crawls your site like any other search engine, this means that if your internal linking is bad, the tool won’t find deep pages and thus it won’t add it to the XML file.

Luckily, https://www.xml-sitemaps.com/ also provides paid versions, one that will dynamically add your pages to your website. However, the best option is probably the PHP version, which you can plug into your website and run directly from your website.

Depending on your needs, the solutions above are the best ones for a custom website.

How to add a Sitemap to a popular CMS, such as WordPress

If you’re on a popular platform such as WordPress, you’re in luck! You can solve your issue by installing a Sitemap plugin. On WordPress, the most popular one is Yoast SEO, which generates a search engine optimized sitemap on its own. You won’t have any struggles with it.

Similar plugins/extensions/modules can be found for other platforms, such as Drupal, Joomla or Magento. Simply perform a Google search for “sitemap plugin + your platform” and you’ll find out if something is available.

How to Optimize Your Sitemaps for SEO

Now that you have a Sitemap, it’s time to make sure it’s beneficial for SEO. While Google says a sitemap will never get you in trouble, it actually can, if you do it the wrong way. For example, you might highlight some duplicate content pages which we know cause at least a little bit of issues.

A good way to check your Sitemap for Errors is the Google Search Console (former Webmaster Tools). However, before you submit your Sitemap to Google, you might want to check it with a proper set of SEO Tools. Once you upload it to Google, it will have an impact on your site, be it positive or negative.

The CognitiveSEO Site Audit comes in handy here, as it can solve for you most issues related to Sitemaps. Once you set up your campaign and run the Site Audit, the tool will crawl your entire site and analyze it for errors. 

The tool will first highlight the discrepancy between the found page (which the tool was able to crawl, just as Google would) and the pages listed in the sitemap. You might do this on purpose, if you want to exclude certain pages. That’s why it’s a warning in the tool and it’s colored yellow, instead of being colored red, like actual errors are.

CognitiveSEO Sitemap Audit Tool

Secondly, you want to fix any duplicate and thin content issues on your website. You don’t want to include those in the Sitemap.

You can do this easily with the Site Audit. You can find what you’re looking for under the Content section:

Duplicate & Thin Content

So make sure you exclude those pages from the Sitemap. Even better, you can fix your issues by canonicalizing the duplicates and adding content to your thin pages.

We ‘know’ from John Mueller that the priority tag is an optional tag and doesn’t matter for Google, we can assume search engines and browsers read files from top to bottom, making the information at the top a priority, since they’re read first.

Most sitemaps are structured alphabetically or chronologically as it is simple, but nobody says you can’t structure it the way you want. Consider adding the most important pages first. 

A sitemap should be structured hierarchically, similarly to an eCommerce site’s internal linking structure. However, it’s better if you focus on the site structure internal linking strategy instead of the sitemap.

Search engines prefer to crawl your website in a “human way”, which means they will go from link to link on your website until they find all your pages.

If it takes users 1 hour and 100 clicks to get to your important pages and find out what they seek, there’s a big chance Sitemaps won’t fix your problem.

Other XML Sitemap best practices that benefit SEO:

  • Consider adding the international hreflang attribute to your sitemaps. You can do it as such:

<url>
<loc>http://www.example.com/english/page.html</loc>
<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de” href=”http://www.example.com/deutsch/page.html”/>
<xhtml:link rel=”alternate” hreflang=”de-ch” href=”http://www.example.com/schweiz-deutsch/page.html”/>
<xhtml:link  rel=”alternate” hreflang=”en” href=”http://www.example.com/english/page.html”/>
</url>

This will help you get your international pages indexed better as well.

  • You can also exclude any unimportant pages which you don’t necessarily want indexed, such as pages with thin content or archive pages and paginated content.
  • Make sure to exclude any pages that are blocking Google from crawling them, such as pages blocked in the robots.txt file or by a noindex meta tag. It wouldn’t be nice to invite someone at your house and then not open the door!
  • That also goes for 404 pages, canonicals or pages that redirect to other pages via 301.
  • Last but not least, although they’re also duplicate content, make sure you don’t add URLs with parameters or anchors in your sitemap (such as comment or social media tracking IDs), unless they are unique URLs with original content.

Once you finish creating and optimizing your sitemap, you can finally add it to the Google Search Console and validate it. There you can also view any previously submitted sitemaps.

Add Sitemap To Google

The Search Console will let you know if there are any issues, such as duplicate content ones. Luckily, you’ve already fixed those with the CognitiveSEO Tool.

If your website doesn’t get crawled properly, a sitemap should definitely help, considering that all the other possible causes, such as noindex tags, have already been excluded. The sitemaps uploaded here will tell Google to crawl your site, but it’s still up to Google if it will do it or not.

Now you know when it’s important to have a sitemap and how you can properly set one up on your website.

What’s your experience with sitemaps? Have they ever helped you rank better? Have you ever fixed any sitemap related issues and ranked better after? Let us know in the comments section. Also, consider joining our Social Media group on Facebook where you can get more insights on Search Engine Optimization and Digital Marketing.

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The Value In Assisted Conversions

For nearly every single client that I have ever worked on I have recommended some sort of educational content. By educational content I mean content that is informational and doesn’t really have the goal to generate revenue on it’s own, but act as a top part of the funnel for a new customer or a lead. Measuring the success of educational (or high-funnel) content is something that some SEO agencies struggle to prove ROI. It can be tricky to show the value in SEO sometimes, we get that. That’s where assisted conversion come into play.

I’m going to share with you the ways that I use assisted conversions to help tell a data-driven story that relates to my clients’ goals and shows the value in some of the efforts that may be a little less fruitful.

What Are Assisted Conversions?

Assisted conversions are the way that Google measures an interaction (any interaction) with a page other than final click (check out this blog for a better understanding of Google attribution), that lead to a conversion (whatever that may be on your site). Assisted conversions can be tracked across different sections of a site and even through multiple channels.

How To Find Assisted Conversions by Landing Page

Step 1: Login to Google Analytics

Step 2: Navigate to Conversions > Multi-Channel Funnels > Assisted Conversions

assisted conversions gif

Step 3: Choose the Organic Channel (assuming you’re tracking SEO efforts only)

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Step 4: Change “Primary Dimension” to “Landing Page” : Other > Acquisition > Landing Page URL

assisted conversions 2

Step 5: Get to Work!

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Assisted Conversions to Prove SEO Value

Now that we know how to find assisted conversions, let’s talk about things to help us make them more valuable.

Like I said earlier, not all content is going to drive conversions immediately. Sometimes customers need to be educated before they make their decision, and that’s not always a fast decision (depending on the business). With assisted conversions, you can isolate the URLs that are considered high-funnel (educational) content and see over the past 90-30 days how much revenue the pages have helped generate.

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The assisted conversions screen in Google Analytics will also show you how much revenue the assisted conversions are responsible for, which makes proving ROI even easier.

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Get Started With Assisted Conversions

There are various other ways to look at assisted conversions and even more ways to use them to prove value; I just shared some of the most common ways that I use assisted conversions. But, I would love to hear from you how you use assisted conversions, so feel free to leave a comment below! For those of you that haven’t used assisted conversions and are struggling to show value in SEO, I suggest taking a look at assisted conversions in Google Analytics and seeing what you can uncover!

If you found this helpful, check out what else we have to say. Already knocking things like this out of the park and looking for a new challenge? Well, we’d love to meet ya, so check out our open positions!

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Top four social listening tools for 2020 and why they’re great

Every business wants as much customer feedback as possible. That’s why we obsessively measure NPS (which barely has any statistical validity) and run surveys (which, in addition to being biased by definition, can negatively impact customer experience) like it’s the end of the world.

But the feedback we really want is different. It’s genuine, quick and easy to get, and structured enough so we can analyze it effectively. That’s where social listening, or social media monitoring, comes in.

Social listening is the process of monitoring mentions of keywords (for example, a brand name) or key phrases across social media and the Internet at large. Think of it as a way to measure people’s awareness of any subject – and their opinion on it – without having to ask questions.

Google Trends

More and more companies are adopting social media monitoring every year, and social listening tools are also evolving quickly. Even though they’re called social media monitoring tools, many apps go beyond social media and monitor the web at large. Finally, they analyze the data in order to provide you with insights you can learn from and act on.

In this post, we’ll look at the best social media monitoring tools you can use in 2020.

1. Awario

top-Four social listening tools for 2020 and why they're great Awario

Awario is one of the best options in terms of bang for the buck. With pricing starting at $29/month, it comes equipped with many features of Enterprise-geared tools: sentiment analysis, topic clouds, Boolean search, and more.

In terms of coverage, Awario monitors Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, YouTube, Reddit, news and blogs, and the rest of the web. Let’s look at what makes Awario stand out.

Rich analytics

Awario lets users measure dozens of social listening metrics, such as sentiment, reach, share of voice, key themes, top countries, and more. On top of that, you can use the tool to identify your biggest influencers and compare several brands side-by-side against crucial metrics for benchmarking and competitor analysis.

Boolean search

Boolean search isn’t for every brand. If your company name isn’t a common or ambiguous word (think Apple or Tesla), you’ll be just fine by simply feeding your brand name to the tool.

However, social listening has plenty of benefits beyond brand monitoring: from lead generation and PR, to doing research for your content strategy, this is where Boolean search comes in handy. It’s an advanced search mode that uses Boolean logic, letting you create flexible queries of any complexity to make sure you only get relevant results, whatever your use case may be.

Alert settings

Pricing

Awario offers a free 7-day trial. Pricing starts at $29/mo for the Starter plan (with 3 topics to monitor and 30,000 mentions/mo) and goes up to $299/mo for Enterprise. 

2. TweetDeck

Top Four social listening tools for 2020 and why they're great - Tweet Deck

Although TweetDeck isn’t a specialized social media monitoring tool, it definitely deserves a place on this list.

First of all, TweetDeck is free. Second, it lets you run Twitter searches using its powerful filters. And third, it combines the search functionality with everything else you’ll need to manage your Twitter presence.

Monitoring and scheduling in one tool

TweetDeck lets you schedule tweets, manage your DMs, and track mentions of your company on the network. You can set up as many searches as you need and reply to tweets right from the dashboard by connecting your Twitter account to the app.

Customizable column layout

Another great thing about TweetDeck is its column layout where you get to choose what each column shows. For instance, you could have your Twitter feed in one column, your DMs in another, and your social listening search in yet another one.

Pricing

TweetDeck is free.

3. Talkwalker

Top Four social listening tools for 2020 and why they're great - Talkwalker

Talkwalker is an excellent social listening tool for digital agencies. The software collects the latest mentions of your brand and offers detailed analytics on your social media presence.

The tool’s social media coverage is pretty impressive, on top of Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, the platform also monitors Flickr and Pinterest. 

Demographic analysis

In addition to monitoring mentions, Talkwalker will give you insights on people who mention you, including your audience’s gender, age, interests, and geography.

Image recognition

Talkwalker’s Enterprise plan offers an ability to monitor images and videos, this way you’ll be notified whenever your logo appears in an Instagram photo or YouTube video. 

Pricing

Pricing starts at $9,600/year for 10,000 mentions/mo. 

4. Mention

Top Four social listening tools for 2020 and why they're great - Mention

Mention is a social media tool that’s primarily geared towards agencies and big brands, although they do offer plans for smaller businesses. Mention’s focus is on real-time monitoring – if you sign up and create an alert, you’ll only see mentions from the last 24 hours. Historical data is available under custom plans.

API access

For businesses that like to have their analytics in one place, Mention offers API access, letting you integrate it into your own tools. If you’re not into coding, Mention offers an integration with Zapier, letting you automatically send mentions to a Google Spreadsheet, set up Slack notifications, and more.

Influencer marketing

In addition to social media monitoring, Mention lets you search for industry influencers across Twitter and Instagram; on top of that, it finds influential websites that you can partner with or guest post on. 

Pricing

Mention’s pricing starts at $29/mo for its basic Solo plan, which lets you monitor one topic. For bigger brands, the app offers custom plans which start at $600/mo.

Conclusion

That’s our list of the best social media monitoring tools for the coming year. Each of them has its own unique pros, so I do hope you’ve found one that’s a perfect fit for your use case and budget.

This is a sponsored post from Awario. Awario is a social listening and analytics platform trusted by over 5,000 companies worldwide. The tool gives brands access to meaningful insights on their customers, industry, and competitors through real-time social media and web monitoring. Awario monitors social media networks, news websites, blogs, and the rest of the web in real time, crawling over 13 billion pages daily to ensure you never miss important conversations that spark out online.

The post Top four social listening tools for 2020 and why they’re great appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Optimizing Your Existing High-Value Content

Episode Overview: Jockeying for the top ranking spot, known as position zero, on Google is no easy feat and requires a level of content optimization finesse to realistically achieve. Although securing the top spot is ideal, there’s no guarantee it can surpass the traffic numbers competitors ranked in spots two and three can gain. Join Ben and Searchmetrics’ Content Lead Marlon Glover as they continue their High Value Content Week discussion on how to edge past the competition with your existing high-value content to secure the coveted top ranking spot on Google and the different ways you can optimize your current valuable content to competitively draw traffic to your site without achieving position zero.

Summary:

  • Optimizing for position zero is no guarantee you’ll receive more traffic, whereas a small change such as adding photos can significantly boost traffic.
  • Optimizing your highest-performing content for position zero ranking becomes less about content and more about the technical aspects of your site, which includes site speed, internal linking and more.

Ben:                 Welcome to High Value Content Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and this week we’re going to publish an episode every day talking about how you can find and optimize your highest value content. Joining us again today for High Value Content Week is Marlon Glover who is the content team lead here at Searchmetrics. And today Marlon and I are going to talk about evaluating the opportunity to optimize your existing high value content. But before we hear from Marlon, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions and to support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a free trial of the Searchmetrics suite. That’s right. You can now start a trial of both the Searchmetrics SEO suite and our content experience tool without paying a dime. To start your free trial, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial. All right, onto the show. Here is my conversation with Mr Marlon Glover content team lead at Searchmetrics. Marlon, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast. It’s High Value Content Week. Let’s talk about the important stuff today, buddy.

Marlon:            All right, let’s get into it.

Ben:                   So yesterday we talked about how to identify an opportunity for a piece of content that could be valuable down the road. Today I want to talk about evaluating the content that you know is already performing, and figuring out if it makes sense to continue to optimize that content. When you’re looking at one of your clients content, how much do you think about optimizing content that isn’t performing and how much do you think about taking the content that is performing and making it more performant?

Marlon:            Yeah. Another great question and I apologize because I’m probably going to rehash some of the same things that we mentioned in yesterday’s episode, so if you didn’t hear that episode definitely go back and listen to it because I think it’ll help close the loop on some of these points. For me there’s a couple of things that we’ve been experimenting with for some of our existing clients. And maybe experimenting is the wrong word to use here because we’re looking at data in a few different ways to determine the potential, again, using that terminology we use yesterday, the potential for optimizing existing content that I think using your terms that could be ranking well the ones that we have found as high value. And correct me if I’m wrong, Ben, you did mention that we’re looking to optimize content that is already performing?

Ben:                 The idea here is that, look, we talked about yesterday how you have the piece of content that’s ranking in the 100th spot. You’re on page 10 and if you get to spot 10 on page one, you’re going to pick up a tremendous amount of market share. There is no point in ranking on page 10 for most queries. What about the content when you’re ranking in spot two? Does it make sense to continue to optimize to try to get to spot one? How do you figure out for the content that is your highest performer, what you can do to make tweaks when something is already working?

Marlon:            Yeah, yeah. No, it’s a great question. So I think one of the things that we want to look at is going back to this idea of traffic potential. So understanding the value of the total sum of let’s say search queries that page one is ranking for, what is the incremental value that we attain from taking that page from position, a weighted average position, to position one? So I mean there’s ways that we do that looking at the data that we have available to us in terms of search volume and then again using that dynamic click-through model. Maybe at position two you could expect to receive somewhere between 13% of clicks to that particular URL as opposed to a position one where you could expect to receive 16% click-through rate from attaining that position. So I think that there are some binary metrics that we could look at based off of our data. The other thing to keep in mind is, is that more and more today we’re seeing SERP features become much more integrated within the search results for a lot of our clients ranking keywords and their pages. So that’s something else that we need to keep in mind and consider when we’re thinking about increasing positions of our existing content.

Ben:                 So the takeaway from yesterday was when you’re farther down the page when you’re not on page one, you could look at some of the content that’s on page one and you can start to replicate what Google is saying they like for a specific piece of content. When you’re super high up, you’re above the fold. You’re in the position two or three. There’s not a lot to look at to copy, right? You can’t say, “Oh well there’s 10 pages ahead of me that have more images or better formatting or longer content,” or you know, a different type of segmentation for the content. There may only be one competitor ahead of you. How do you think about optimizing when you’re not getting a lot of data? What are some of the tweaks that you can do when you’re really already very competitive for a specific query?

Marlon:            Yeah, well, oftentimes I start with tapping the shoulders of my colleagues over here on our SEO consulting team. I think at scale, what we want to understand is on a technical SEO side, how is our site performing? Again, some of our competitors that may be ranking and beating us in that number one position, what can we be doing if anything, to make sure that our site is performing well from a technical aspect. After we’ve checked the box on that, and assuming that all things are performing well, other things I’m looking at is what are some of the elements on those pages, particularly if we’re thinking about e-commerce, maybe on a category level, what are some of the other elements on that page that we can be including in our content that we’re not today? So a good example of that is, let’s say I’m an e-commerce business that is selling clothing, and I recognize that for this particular category of content, we need to include things like size charts, versus another category, which it makes more sense to include things like videos. So at a category level, and then looking at these things at scale. What I’m looking to do is to understand what are some of the other elements that we need to include on this page to more adequately answer questions that are going to be more easily crawled by Google and to build the authority of this page.

Ben:                 So as you get into optimizing your highest performing content, this becomes less about the content optimization and you get into the true technical SEO components. For the most part you’re looking at site speed, you’re looking at your internal linking, you’re looking at your domain authority. There’s also the concept of moving from position one to position zero and it’s not necessarily always binary of one to zero. You could be in position three and rank for position zero. Talk to me about how you think about moving above the actual search results and creating your content. When you have a high value piece of content, is there a way that you can start seeding Google to include that content above the fold in the rest of their search experiences?

Marlon:            Well, I think the question is, and some of these positions, zero, these SERP features. The question I want to ask myself first is, “Do I want to prioritize this content now? Is it worth it for me to move into that position?” I mean we know that some of these features no longer drive traffic to your site. So in that case, was it worth it for us to just answer this question and become a featured snippet in Google or is it worth it for us to simply include images? In some cases I will say it is worth it. But other times I’d say, “You know what, let’s prioritize some of our other content so that we can drive more dynamic clicks to our site by moving up to position zero.” So I think that that’s the factor that we’re including in terms of optimizing some of our existing content.

Ben:                 I mean this really becomes an exercise in understanding your business. I had a conversation yesterday with Jordan about the recent Google car update where he mentioned that Spotify is moving up for a lot of really non-clicked queries, high volume queries about searching for artists’ names or genres of music and where they’re giving content is basically position zero fodder. And that’s great for Spotify because they’re getting all of this visibility. You’re still getting that brand impression. You’re still known as the, the preeminent music service, even if it’s not driving traffic to their site. So it’s a question of what you’re trying to accomplish with some of these pages.

Marlon:            Exactly.

Ben:                 At the end of the day, when you’re evaluating the opportunity to focus on your high value content, optimizing your existing content that doesn’t get a lot of value or creating new content, how do you prioritize the amount of time you should spend thinking about those three categories of content?

Marlon:            Yeah, it’s an interesting question and it’s one that I still today, I want to say I struggle with, but it really depends. And I hate answering that question with it depends-

Ben:                 But it depends.

Marlon:            … but it depends. I often go back to some of my initial research. So depending on where my site is today in terms of its authority in a given topic, I’m often going back to that infinite question of “What questions are my perspective customers asking, what is the demand for those questions, what can we realistically rank for?” And then that is guiding my content strategy around optimizing the high value content on my site, the existing content that may not be performing as well. And maybe some of the gaps that we need to close from a competitor standpoint. Because what that tells me is that one, if I know that this particular category of content has pretty low competition but moderate to high search volume and we know within a given category that we have content within it, then I’m going to begin optimizing that content first.

Marlon:            If I see within that same category that we’re missing some opportunities, then I’m likely going to start creating new content within this category first. So for me it’s important to close the gap and to adequately create content within the low competition, moderate to high search volume categories and tags first. Whether that’s optimizing my existing content, creating brand new content, or even deprecating content that shouldn’t even be on the site that we intended on performing for, for some whatever question but it’s not. So even cleaning up some of our site around given categories. So it’s less about categorizing it in terms of what’s ranking well, what exists that may not be performing well, and what doesn’t exist, it’s more along the lines of what is the market asking and what gaps do we need to close based off of our existing content that we don’t have today.

Ben:                 Yeah. I think at the end of the day, yesterday we talked about identifying opportunities to make content that isn’t performing to start to perform. And today we’re talking about, hey, we’ve got some really high performing content, can it be better? The process is actually pretty similar for both of these, which is understanding what is the size of the opportunity in front of you. If you move up, what is the value? And then matching that with how difficult is it going to be to move up into the rankings and being realistic about what the competitive nature of the keyword is and what assets do you have to be able to eventually rank. So whether you’re optimizing existing content that isn’t performing or you’re just trying to tweak your high value content. The process is pretty much the same, but as you get farther up the rankings, the more you’re getting into some of the technical SEO components, you’re looking at your entire domain authority. It is less about the words, and the image and the formatting of the page and more about your whole domain, about some of the technical things that are happening to make sure that you are the best piece of content for Google to put in the top spot.

Marlon:            Well said, Ben.

Ben:                 All right, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Marlon Glover, content team lead here at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you, so if you’re interested in contacting Marlon, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is, Marlon_Glover, or you can of course reach out to him through the Searchmetrics website.

Ben:                 If you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, or if you’re interested in being a guest on the show, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can shoot me a tweet at Benjshap, B-E-N-J-S-H_A-P. And if you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial for a test run of the Searchmetrics SEO suite and content experience platform.

Ben:                 And if you liked this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss the keys to optimizing your content to reach its maximum efficiency. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.


Yoast SEO 12.3: Transition words in Hungarian

While some of our checks are independent of languages, Yoast SEO has special skills to adapt the various content analyses to different languages from around the world. In Yoast SEO 12.3, we’re taking the first steps to add another language to the list: Hungarian. In addition, this release features a number of enhancement and fixes. Read on to find out more!

Yoast SEO is learning a new language: Hungarian

Every time we plan on adding a language, we need to see how and what we need to do to get it to work in the plugin. Not every language follows the same rules, so we do research and test how to best go about adding a new one. We have a team of linguists, assistants and developers doing the hard work. Their team lead, Manuel Augustin, recently wrote a post describing how we make Yoast SEO understand your language.

That’s not to say we do everything by ourselves. We truly value community input and we need it if we want to reach our goals. In this release, you’ll see one of those community efforts. Thanks to the hard work of 9abor, we can now say our first words in Hungarian! We start off by adding support for the transition word assessment for this language. More to come.

On our knowledge base, you can find the complete list of all available languages and a guide on how you can make Yoast SEO available in your language.

Other fixes and improvements

Yoast SEO 12.3 features a number of fixes and enhancements. In Yoast SEO Premium, we fixed a bug that prevented you from interrupting the internal linking tool during updating. We’ve improved user input validation feedback and suggestions for error correction.

Plus, we’ve added a new floating Save changes button on Yoast SEO admin pages. You’ll this when the normal button isn’t visible in the browser window. We’ve added a new filter called wpseo_sitemap_http_headers which allows filtering the HTTP headers we send for XML sitemaps. Last but not least, Weston Ruter added a code change to add the CSS for the Yoast SEO admin bar to the AMP dev mode. This makes sure that the CSS will always load properly, even if there is a lot of CSS on a page.

Update now to Yoast SEO 12.3

Yoast SEO 12.3 is out today and brings a number of improvements. We’ve started to add support for a new language, namely Hungarian. In addition, we’ve improved input validation and added some changes that will help the admin bar load at all times. Hope you enjoy this release!

The post Yoast SEO 12.3: Transition words in Hungarian appeared first on Yoast.


Search transformation projects: Q&A with SAP’s Siddharth Taparia

At The Transformation of Search Summit next month, we’ll be hearing from a panel on “Embarking on Search Transformation Projects.” One of those panelists will be Siddharth Taparia, SVP and Head of Strategic Transformation and Partner Marketing at SAP.

Siddharth has grown his career in marketing at various companies, including spending the past 11 years at SAP.

siddharth taparia, head of marketing transformation at SAP

For many search marketers, embarking on search transformation projects can seem daunting and unclear. Siddharth’s expertise lies in leading marketing transformation efforts, and he’ll share insights on what’s he’s learned along the way.

Tell us a bit about your role at SAP?

I serve as head of SAP Global Partner Ecosystem and SME Marketing. In this role, I oversee SAP’s entire global partner ecosystem – with nearly 20,000 partners – including companies like Google, Microsoft, Amazon Web Services and Deloitte. We also market to the invaluable small and midsize space. My team is responsible for providing excellent support and resources for existing partners and helping to grow the network with new partners.

What are your key priorities over the next twelve months?

My key priorities over the next 12 months will include supporting SAP revenue and growth aspirations through innovative partner marketing, communications, and enablement. We will continue to be laser-focused on creating great partner experiences, extending the company’s reach to more customers, and driving SAP brand value.

What is your biggest challenge in achieving those?

Our biggest challenge is to make sure that we stay focused and look at the big picture. We are a large team within a large, global company. The path to success comprises many components that must come together in a cohesive manner.

What’s your advice to others who may be facing similar challenges?

As with many areas in life, communication and collaboration is key. Everyone on the team needs to be on the same page when it comes to understanding the plan, the strategy, and the goals. More importantly, the communication has to be a two-way street. It is vital to establish a culture in which people feel comfortable asking questions and providing feedback.

What’s an interesting trend you’re seeing in the market right now?

It is interesting to see the growth of AI and how it is becoming more and more sophisticated. AI is providing unprecedented personalization, which makes for memorable customer experiences. When it comes to search specifically, AI is helping to make it easier to find the information you need faster and with more accuracy than ever before.

How do you expect it will change in the next 6-12 months?

The rate at which AI is evolving is truly astronomical. By its very nature, AI gets better with time. With more data and new algorithms over the next several months, accuracy will continue to improve and forecasting and anticipating customer needs will become even more precise.

Tell us a bit about your session at the Search Summit?

I am excited to be a part of the panel discussion, “Embarking on a Search Transformation Project.” It is crucial for companies to not only incorporate search into their overall martech strategy; they must continue to evolve their search strategy to include new search technology. Search needs to be a core part of every marketing strategy and tactics.

What are you looking forward to most at the Summit?

I enjoyed being a part of the Summit as the keynote speaker last year, and I am looking forward to sharing ideas around the fascinating topic of search. Search is such an important topic to all industries, and the Summit will provide an excellent opportunity to learn about the latest developments within this field.

What’s one of your favorite search technologies and why?

I have been following the development of voice search for quite some time now. It is my favorite search technology because it has come so far in such a short amount of time. Additionally, it’s an engaging, convenient, and fun way to obtain information!

What’s something you do every day that helps you be more successful or productive?

I am a voracious reader. Every time I take a break from a meeting or a call I try to read something new or interesting that expands my horizons. I also love to learn new things — so whenever I am in a meeting I often have a lot of questions.


Thanks Siddharth for the insights, and looking forward to learning more at the event.

Hope to see you all there!

The post Search transformation projects: Q&A with SAP’s Siddharth Taparia appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Identifying High Value Content

Episode Overview: In a vast sea of content, it’s easy for high-value content to get lost and sink below the waves. Join Ben as he kicks off high value content week with Searchmetrics’ very own Content Lead Marlon Glover to discuss how to identify and elevate your high-potential content with essential strategies and how to seize key opportunities to separate your content from the competition.

Summary:

  • Identifying existing content with potential begins with understanding your customer’s current needs; their goals, general interests, pain points and demands.
  • As you evaluate high-value content, it’s important to analyze your competition, the additional content out there related to your piece of content and to evaluate the authority of ranked competitors to identify, discover and enhance specific elements of your content that sets it apart from the competition. 

Ben:                  Welcome to high value content week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. This week we’re going to publish an episode every day talking about how you can find and optimize your highest value content. Joining us for high value content week is Marlon Glover, who is the content team lead here at Searchmetrics. Today Marlon is going to walk us through how to identify new potential high value content.

Before we hear from Marlon, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. We are an SEO and content marketing platform that helps enterprise scale businesses, monitor their online presence and make data driven decisions and to support you, our loyal podcast listeners, we’re offering a free trial of the Searchmetrics suite. That’s right. You can now start a trial of both the Searchmetrics SEO suite and our content experience tool without paying a dime. To start your free trial, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial.

All right, onto the show. Here is my conversation with Mr. Marlon Glover, content team lead at Searchmetrics. Mr. Marlon Glover, welcome to high value content week on the Voices of Search podcast.

Marlon:            Hey Ben. Thanks for having me. It’s been awhile.

Ben:                   I’ve got to say, I’ve probably said this before on a podcast, but every time I hear your name I think of the shaggy song, Mr. Lover, Lover, and I want to just say Mr. Marlon Glover.

Marlon:            Mr. Glover, Glover.

Ben:                    Good to have you today.

Marlon:            Nah, thanks man.

Ben:                   We’re off to a raging start already. Hey look, we’re talking about how to make the most out of your content and figuring out which stuff actually matters and where you should invest your time. Let’s start off with how do you identify content that has potential when you’re either launching new content or you have some content that’s been sitting there that hasn’t really performed, but you feel like there’s an opportunity, how to figure out what content hasn’t really made a Mark that can.

Marlon:            That’s’ a great question, Ben. We actually get that a lot, particularly this time of year as folks are planning their 2020 budget and how they should be allocating time and dollars towards content. The one thing that I typically like to do when we are addressing this question is I typically toss it back to the client and ask how well do you understand your customers today? How well do we understand their demand for questions that are being asked in search. Typically looking at their unique, you know, whether they have various personas, but those individuals, personas, pains, tasks, goals, and just general interests.

For me it begins with looking at the customer demand. Now I know we tend to gravitate towards how is our existing concept performing in as great and that’s absolutely a part of the process. But oftentimes I like to do a quick pulse, a quick check to see based on a topic, what are our customers are demanding and looking at the different variations and semantic associations around different topics. Then I may look at other sources that those customers are using to learn around those same interests, pains, tasks, and goals.

Ben:                    What I’m hearing is, look, you’re going to understand your customers. Hey, marketing 101, who are you actually going after and what are they looking for? Talk to me about how you’re actually figuring that out other than going and talking to your customers and asking them directly. There has to be some search tools to understand demand for a specific segment of people you’re looking at. Walk me through that process.

Marlon:            Yeah, yeah, absolutely. Many of the customers that come to us, the ones that are more progressive, they typically have done some sort of persona research. They understand the different types of customers that are either buying from them directly or are influencing those buying decisions. They understand some of the unique nuances and their day to day. That’s a great starting point. Based off of those habits, based off of their affinity, what types of things are they looking for? We take that information, and we start plugging into our database here at Searchmetrics. I am a bit biased in using this tool of course, given that I work at Searchmetrics, but I will …

Ben:                    They pay your bills. They pay my bills too.

Marlon:             Yeah, they pay the bills. I was privy to using the technology prior to joining the company, as I mentioned in the prior podcast. All that said is that I’m looking at it two stems. One is based on existing data that clients have on their customers, whether it be through persona based research or interviews with the sales team to understand what topics are coming up in conversations throughout the sales process, what are some stem words that we can use to pull data from our database that can be, a good example of that is let’s say we have a client selling makeup products. We know that skincare tips as a topic that typically comes up with this particular client. What we’re looking to do is pull all of the information related to skincare tips and then all of the semantic associations around those particular keywords.

That’s one stem. The second stem is, so again, pertaining to those four areas that we’re looking at around those customers are the other sources. I think of these as our unknown competitors, may not be the folks that you directly compete with on a day-to-day, but other folks that may be creating content around those same pains, tasks, goals and interests and just essentially pulling all of the data, data being those keywords that they’re ranking for and then we begin grouping those and categorize those in a way that makes sense for us from a business perspective.

Ben:                    Yeah, so it makes sense to me that you’re doing this process of understanding your customers, getting the questions people are asking, trying to create content around that and then looking for the the words that are related to those topics. When you’re looking at your existing content and you’re trying to see where there is an opportunity, “Hey look, I’ve already written a thousand blog posts. Some of them perform great. Some of them don’t feel like there’s this concept of like I wrote a piece of content around skincare. I know that there’s high demand for skincare with my customer base. With it, there’s a plenty of demand in search, but my content isn’t performing.” That’s a high opportunity piece of content. How do you think about figuring out where you have opportunity to optimize the existing content you’ve already written, so you’re not constantly producing new content?

Marlon:              Yeah, that’s great. So actually go through the same process with our existing content. So once I’ve done that first primary step of looking at the market, then I’m pulling all of our data around the existing ranking keywords for our existing content. I’m doing a couple of things. One is I will aggregate all of the keywords by page, so you take a URL and you total the amount of keywords, the quantity of keywords that that page is ranked you for, total search volume, the total amount of traffic. For those that aren’t familiar out there with sort of dynamic CTR models around the different positions that your page could be ranking for and can Google, there’s some pretty good models out there. For me, I tried to take a conservative approach. I may say that, “Hey, for this given page, let’s say is ranking for one keyword, right?” Which typically never happen. That page is ranking on the bottom of page 10 and the SERP results. We know that at the bottom of page one, that page will garner 1% of that traffic. At 5,000 searches per month we can anticipate 50 clicks to that site.

Now typically we like to look at your conversion rates from your organic traffic to understand how you perform within the market for your content. Typically we can say that 2% of the traffic that you receive from an organic search result will convert into a potential lead or whatever conversion tools that you have on your site. We can get down into the weeds of predictive analytics and predictive measurement of performance content.

One approach when we’re looking at existing content on your site is we’re taking all of the existing pages, we’re looking at the total sum of traffic for those pages there. We’re even looking at things like average position of those pages, looking at a weighted average. Then we can get pretty detailed in terms of predicting how much estimated traffic you will be getting from those pages if they were optimized for any position on a page.

Ben:                     Here’s what I get is that I could look at any given page on my site, say I’m currently in position 100. If I get to position 10, I’m going to have a net positive gain of 5,000 searches. I think that’s going to have a 1% click through rate. That’s going to be 50 clicks to my site. Now I can figure out revenue. I think the missing part that I don’t understand is okay, if I get from page 100 to page one how much effort do I have to put into that page and is it worth optimizing this piece of content? There’s a large opportunity but there also could be a large cost and understanding how much effort goes into optimizing so you could figure out where to focus. How do you balance. There is a good potential opportunity cause there’s lots of search. I can actually get this page to a point where it is relevant in search.

Marlon:             Yes, so there’s other attributes that we’re also looking at is things like competition. Once we’ve identified that that page has potential at a glance looking at the estimated traffic based on all of this ranking keywords, we also want to take a little bit of a closer look to see which keywords are relevant and then out of those terms that are relevant, how competitive are those terms. We use a score from one to 100 taking into account the other pages that are ranking for this particular search query, how often is this content updated for the search query based on the top performing URLs for it, how authoritative are the sites that are ranking for this search query, how much other spoke or ancillary content around this particular topic may exist around, is this one of the top performing pages.

Then I’m also looking at bestowing a human test. I want to take a look at the content on that page to see what other elements exist on this page that we may not be including in ours that over time we can build to make this piece more comprehensive.

Ben:                    At the end of the day when you’re looking at identifying an existing piece of content, there’s a couple of different things that you mentioned. First off, I’m talking to my customers and trying to figure out what their needs are. I should be building content around that period. Full stop. Talk to your customers about what they’re interested in. When you’re identifying what content that you’ve already created has an opportunity, you’re not only looking at what the potential gains are from if you’re able to get up into a higher position, you’re also looking at the amount of competition, you’re looking at the ancillary content related to that specific piece of content, you’re looking at the authority of the people that are ranking and you’re doing a sniff test on that page to see if there’s something else you can be doing.

You’re using the Searchmetrics Suite to do all of this. You’re a content expert. Last question for you today. For the people who aren’t using the Searchmetrics Suite, you should be, we now offer a free trial or are not content experts, you should talk to Marlon, what do you advise they do to complete this process if you’re don’t have access to a tool like the Searchmetrics Suite?

Marlon:           Well first, let me say, it will be really difficult.

Ben:                   It took you 10 to 15 years of experience to figure out how to do this.

Marlon:           No, I mean, I think it’s all possible through, just a little bit of elbow grease and getting your hands dirty out there. What I typically like to do is, you know all those points that you succinctly summarize can be accomplished by typing a search into Google, typing in the topic that you want to rank for and Google looking at the top performing pages. I would even group those pages into the first three, then the following five and so on and so forth. I want to look at the top three performing pages. Then I want to look at the following pages and understand what are some of the commonalities that exist amongst these top pages and how can we improve the content that we’ve identified, so content may be using our Google analytics, using our search console, things that’s performed for us well in the past. I often look at Google trends. Of course, I’m supplementing all of that with Searchmetrics technology. I would love to have a free trial if I wasn’t a current customer.

I will say overall there are tools, there are free tools out there that, that anyone could use to do this. What we want to take a look at is what Google is rewarding and the search results for questions that we like to rank for and ultimately try to make sure that we’re closing the gap between where we are and where the top pages are in their content creation.

Ben:                 The quick and dirty is if you don’t have access to the Searchmetrics Suite and a content expert like Marlon, you got to look at what pages are already ranking and see what’s on those pages and see if you can add the content components you’re missing on your page like the people are ranking. Make sure it fits your brand. Make sure it’s in line with your content. If Google is rewarding images or videos or longer format text or bulleted text or whatever it is and you don’t have that on your pages, that’s the potential way to identify and boost your high value content.

Okay, that’s a good stopping point for today. That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Marlon Glover, content team lead here at Searchmetrics. We’d love to continue the conversation with you. If you’re interested in contacting Marlon, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is, Marlon_Glover, or you can of course reach out to him through the Searchmetrics website. Have you have general marketing questions, or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast or if you’re interested in being a guest on the show, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can shoot me a Tweet at BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P.

If you’re interested in learning more about how to use search data to boost your organic traffic, online visibility, or to gain competitive insights, head over to searchmetrics.com/freetrial for a test run of the Searchmetrics SEO Suite and content experience platform. If you liked this podcast and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed tomorrow morning to discuss how to evaluate the opportunity to optimize your existing high value content. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.