Archives August 2019

How to use PPC data to drive more SEO traffic

It’s no surprise that PPC campaigns are great for driving quick results. However, it’s not the only way paid campaigns can bring profit to digital marketers. Integrating your PPC data in your SEO strategy will help you improve your overall performance.

Your SEO strategy should be flexible to trends, algorithms, and user behavior. While it takes much time to evaluate SEO results, the PPC data allows you to predict what works and what doesn’t work. Using this information for SEO, you’ll boost your search rankings significantly. In this article, I’ll tell you how to analyze your paid campaigns to determine which keywords resulted in the most significant number of conversions and focus on these phrases to improve your SEO.

The differences between SEO and PPC keywords

Pay-per-click advertising is an easily controlled digital marketing channel that provides an opportunity to target specific audiences, countries, and the time you want your ads to show up. Due to this fact, you can use PPC reports to get useful data for improving your keyword list.

These are the major differences between collecting keywords for SEO and PPC:

  • The main aim of the PPC campaign is to drive conversions. That’s why the keywords used for paid ads have high commercial intent.
  • The landing page of each ad should be highly relevant to the query. Otherwise, the ads will be marked as low-quality ones, and the search engines will display them less frequently.
  • You can configure your PPC campaign in the way to avoid non-target visits, for example, you can select negative keywords, exclude irrelevant audiences, and more.
  • You should mind that Google Keyword Planner usually provides you with high-cost and competition keywords. It rarely suggests users high-volume but low-priced phrases.

How PPC helps your SEO

There are four major reasons you should make your PPC campaigns work together with SEO efforts:

  1. Analyzing your PPC campaigns, you can identify which keywords result in conversions the most. This step will let you focus on the web pages that generate the highest revenue.
  2. Paid advertising is the best way to attract your target audience. The fact people click through the highly relevant ad and find what they’re looking for on your website result in better user behavior metrics. As these visits will result in lower bounce rates and longer session durations, they’ll serve as positive signals for search robots. That’s why paid targeted traffic often has a positive impact on organic search rankings.
  3. If your website is showing up both in paid and organic searches, the chances a user will click through one of the results increase. Moreover, most of the search results provide lots of special elements, including ads, featured snippets, “People also ask” box and others. If all of these elements are displayed on one page, it’s not likely someone will scroll down to your page ranking the third in organic search.
  4. Some brands bid on their competitors’ branded keywords. In the result, the official website is shifting in search results. If you don’t want to lose your prospects to competition, it’s worth bidding on your branded keywords as well.

Improve your SEO keyword list analyzing your PPC campaigns

Step one: Use high-CTR keywords for SEO

In your Google Adwords reportsyou can find lots of useful data for organic search optimization. First of all, it may happen that you are spending large sums on PPC to get little conversions. It usually happens when you select high CPC keywords that are searched for by people who aren’t ready to convert (have you ever heard about a sales funnel?).  Instead, you could optimize your top-of-funnel content for these high-cost keywords and eventually lead the prospects to conversions.

To identify these keywords, go to “Reports” > “Search terms”

using high-CTR keywords for SEO

You’ll see the list of search terms that people have used, and the ones that resulted in your ad being shown and clicked. To collect keywords that result in the highest click-through rates, under “Clicks”, select “High to Low”. The list will automatically portray keywords sorted by the number of clicks.

using the "High to Low" filter in Google Ads Reporting

Now let’s look at the conversion rate of the terms that drive a number of clicks. If the clicks drive no results, it means people using these specific search terms aren’t ready to buy. But if you optimize your blog posts for these keywords, your visitors might come back soon to convert.

Step two: Analyze your competitors’ PPC campaigns

To enlarge your SEO keyword list, you can also analyze your competitors’ ads and keywords they are bidding on. Content creation isn’t only about driving traffic to your website. To be worth something to your business, your website content should attract actual leads that are likely to convert. That’s why it’s important to check the keywords your competitors’ ads are showing up for. If a competitor is spending large sums to appear in Google for a keyword, it’s definitely worth your consideration.

At this stage, you’ll need one of the all-in-one SEO tools, such as Ahrefs, Serpstat, or Moz. To illustrate the process, I’ll go with Serpstat.

There are two reports you can use for this purpose:

1. Keywords report

In the “Keyword Research > PPC Research > Keywords” section, enter your target keyword, select your country, and click on “Search”. In the report, you’ll see the list of similar keywords your top-100 competitors are bidding on along with ads showing up for these keywords. Collect the most relevant ones and add them to your SEO keyword list.

creating a keyword list by monitoring the top-100 that competitors are bidding on keywords

2. Ad examples report

Clicking through the “Ad examples” section, you’ll also see the keywords used in your competitors’ paid campaigns, but this time they are grouped under the specific ads. It allows you to get ready-to-use clusters of keywords relevant to different landing pages.

using the "Ad examples" section to see keywords used in your competitors’ paid campaigns based on different landing pages

Keep tracking

Analyzing your PPC results to improve your SEO performance is an unconventional but very effective method. Make your PPC and SEO work together for your brand promotion and you’ll not only witness higher conversions but also get more statistical data to outrank your competitors.

Adelina Karpenkova is a Brand Specialist at Serpstat.

The post How to use PPC data to drive more SEO traffic appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Free SEO Training Course (No Opt-in Required)

Interested in free SEO training that’s better than 99.9% of paid courses?

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Go through these free SEO training videos in the exact order I’ve laid them out. Watch, take notes, rewatch, and execute on the information. The last part is key.

All of this is just information.

You have to act on this information if you want to achieve your SEO goals.

I’m giving you the exact framework you need to be successful.

Trust the process, act, and don’t be afraid to fail. Those micro failures are fundamental to your long-term SEO results. I’ve failed thousands of times (on a micro level) and I love every single one of them.

Why? Am I psychotic or something? NO!

I love them because I now know what NOT to do.

That’s half the battle.

The good news is that I’ve done more failing than 1,000 people combined. I kind of have a sick obsession with it, I suppose. But I don’t fear failure and you can’t either.

There’s no way to reach your goals if you fear failure, rejection, or anything that may be holding you back. Do what makes you uncomfortable.

Do the work that’s HARD.

Notice I didn’t say “work harder”. I said do the work that is hard.

Do what most people would never do because of their excuses like: “that sounds hard”… “why would you do that”… or “I doubt that would work”. If your mind is closed to new opportunities, information, or ANYTHING, then you won’t be successful. I hate to be harsh, but it’s true.

You need to have an open mind. You need to be optimistic instead of a pessimist.

Stop looking for reasons why something won’t work.

Do the work and discover (on your own) if it works.

You don’t know if something works unless you do it!

Follow someone who’s already been in your shoes because it helps you leapfrog mistakes and get results 10x faster.

You’re piggybacking off someone’s years of experience, hard work, and dedication.

That means you can get results even faster than they did. That’s exactly what this SEO training series is all about. I’m giving you the framework for getting real SEO results.

That means you can get better rankings and more organic search traffic from Google when you learn and execute on this information.

Believe in me and I promise your life will never be the same.

Let’s jump in.

7 Actionable Free SEO Training Lessons

  1. 7 Habits of Highly Successful SEOs
  2. SEO for Beginners
  3. Keyword Research 101
  4. SEO Content Creation 101
  5. Link Building 101
  6. 11 SEO Mistakes to Avoid
  7. Don’t Do SEO Before You Do This

7 Habits of Highly Successful SEOs

SEO for Beginners

Keyword Research 101

SEO Content Creation 101

11 SEO Mistakes to Avoid

Don’t Do SEO Before You Do This

How to Get Even Better SEO Results

What you’ve learned in this free SEO training course can help you achieve your SEO goals. But you’re going to have questions along the way and there’s still a ton you need to learn.
That’s when my paid SEO training course comes into the picture.
Gotch SEO Academy is a complete SEO training course. That means you’ll learn every facet of SEO from point A-Z. You’ll also get all the support you need to be successful through our amazing community and even directly from me.

Here’s the deal:

We only open enrollment to the public a few times per year.

However, when we’re closed, you can apply to get in. We don’t accept everyone because we only want people in our community who are action takers and who are serious about growing their businesses and changing their lives.

If that doesn’t sound like you, then please don’t apply. If it does, then I would love to help you along your journey.


Facebook campaign budget optimization: How marketers must prepare for September 1, 2019

If you are using Facebook’s Ads Manager, campaign budget optimization (CBO) will become mandatory for all ad campaigns as of September 1, 2019. 

If you are using an API tool like AdRules, you have until September 2020 before it is mandatory.

If you do any advertising on Facebook, you will be affected by this change. It will apply to both new and existing ad campaigns.

If you don’t want a rude awakening on September 1 when CBO activates in Ads Manager and your Facebook campaigns start to behave very differently, you need to start testing campaign budget optimization now.

Example of campaign budget optimization for Facebook AdsManager

While nobody likes mandatory, sudden changes, this is not all doom and gloom. There are some considerable upsides to CBO. You will have to give up some control over your campaigns after September first, but with CBO:

1. You’ll have less to manage

If you spend hours adjusting bids every week, or if you pay someone else to adjust bids every week, much of that bid optimization work will be over.

When campaign budget optimization is activated in Ads Manager, Facebook automatically shifts the ad budget to whichever ad set in a campaign is most effective. You get to control the definition of what “effective” means by specifying a goal for each campaign. Goals that are fairly late in your sales funnel, like a purchase or a download, tend to work best with CBO.

Because all that bid management work will be done by the Facebook algorithm, you may be able to hire less expensive people to manage your campaigns or have your team members work on more networks or accounts. Or, if you’ve been doing those bid edits yourself, you may find you suddenly have extra hours free every week. We recommend using those free hours to develop better creative, to study your competitors’ creative, or to set up a more efficient creative testing machine.

2. You’ll get a better return on ad spend (ROAS)

While there were some early reports of CBO not working as well as human-managed campaigns, the algorithm has gotten considerably smarter than when it first launched.

We’ve found that if a campaign is set up properly and the bids are high enough, CBO generally can get better results than a human can get.

CBO will also reduce how often your campaigns are put into “learning mode”. That means you won’t get penalized when Facebook’s algorithm reassesses your campaigns.

But you do need to give campaign budget optimization time to work. The algorithm needs about 50 conversions per ad set, per week, before it accrues enough data to ramp up your campaigns. And speaking of ramping up campaigns if you want to scale your campaigns, CBO is extremely effective. Especially if you keep feeding it new, high-quality audiences.

3. You will still be able to control spending (to an extent) with ad set spending limits

If you set a minimum spend for an ad set, Facebook will dutifully spend at least that amount. And if you set a maximum ad set spending limit, Facebook will not go over that limit.

This is a way to set a “governor” of sorts on your spending. It will force Facebook to run ad sets perhaps longer than it might otherwise have, but if you’re not quite ready to relinquish control, ad set spending limits are a way to ease into this new campaign management approach.

Those of you who also advertise with Google’s App Campaigns may have an edge already. Facebook is in some ways following Google’s lead by requiring advertisers to shift over to automated budget optimization.

You could, potentially, get around CBO by creating dozens or even hundreds of campaigns, each with on single ad set. But that would be working against the algorithm. And besides, CBO works well. There aren’t many good reasons to try to circumvent it. Especially when you use it along with other Facebook best practices and Facebook’s simplified campaign structure recommendation.

Start testing campaign budget optimization now

The benefits of CBO are proven, but you need to start testing now to see how to make it work well for your accounts. We still have a couple of months until the change in Ads Manager, but you may need to run multiple week-long tests to get the hang of this new budgeting strategy.

You may also need to shift how you’ve been defining goals. Using CBO for clicks is a waste of potential. Instead, look towards the end of the buyers’ journey. We like to optimize not just for app installs, but for specific app events like purchases. And not for just two-dollar purchases, we target people who are likely to spend $20 or more.

As you begin to test and measure CBO, don’t get too attached to the results of individual ad sets. Look at the campaign level, as this graphic illustrates:

Comparative study of having vs not having campaign budget optimization

Also, get ready to bump up your creatives. For CBO to work, it often needs several creative assets for each ad set. Including a few videos and elements for dynamic creatives helps too.

Pay close attention to your audiences, too. Many advertisers have found that CBO works best for them if they create separate campaigns for different audiences like one campaign for cold audiences and another campaign for a “warm” audience, like a retargeting audience.

Get ready for things like “The Breakdown Effect” to make your reporting look a little strange at first. “The Breakdown Effect” occurs when discount pacing (how frequently your ads show) intersects with discount bidding and makes it look like the system is overcharging you for conversions. What’s actually happening is the system is trying to find the most affordable conversions first, then it tries to find more expensive conversions.

Graph showing "The Breakdown Effect"

If you do a lot of testing, this breakdown effect pattern may be familiar. It’s similar to how one cell of a test can look like a winner at first but as the data accrue, that early winner falls away and another cell is shown to perform better in the long-term.

Closing thoughts

Facebook is evolving. Everyone knows this, but the CBO change in September for Ads Manager is yet one more example of it happening again. And because Facebook’s advertising platform is evolving, advertisers have to evolve with it, too. If you’re still doing Facebook advertising like you were a year ago, you’re losing money and missing out on better ROAS.

Brian Bowman is the CEO of

The post Facebook campaign budget optimization: How marketers must prepare for September 1, 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Ranking factors and the Google Algorithm — Jordan Koene // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview

Are ranking factors the Rosetta Stone of the Google Algorithm or just Pig Latin for SEOs? Ben and Jordan draw distinct lines between the two to help our loyal listeners understand the difference.

Topics covered include:

  • How ranking factors represent the SEO community’s ongoing interpretation of the Google Search Algorithm
  • The definition and differences of and between technical and content ranking factors
  • The very one-sided nature of relationship between Google and SEOs


Episode Transcript

Ben:                             Welcome to algorithm month on the Voices of Search Podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. This month we’re taking a look inside the black box that is Google search algorithm. Joining us today is Jordan Koene who is the lead SEO strategist and the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. Today, Jordan and I are going to talk about how ranking factors relate to Google’s algorithm. But before we hear from Jordan, 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 complimentary digital diagnostic, where a member of our digital strategies group will provide you with a consultation that reviews how your website, content and SEO strategies can all be optimized. To schedule your free digital diagnostic, go to Okay. On with the show. Here’s my conversation with Jordan Koene, lead SEO Strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. Jordan, welcome back to algorithm month on the Voices of Search Podcast.

Jordan:                         Hey, Ben. It’s going to be a fun month. We’re just getting started.

Ben:                             I have bad news for everybody listening to the Voices of Search Podcast.

Jordan:                         Oh boy.

Ben:                             It’s just me and Jordan this month, so buckle up.

Jordan:                         Yeah, that’s going to be pretty painful. Sorry about this, guys.

Ben:                             We’re going deep and hard into the algorithm, and we want you to know that it’s just going to be the two of us making a mess of things. That said, Jordan, we’re talking about ranking factors. Last week we talked about what the algorithm is. My takeaway here is the algorithm is not an algorithm. It’s a bunch of algorithms. It’s a bunch of these systems crawl index search, and they evaluate, sort and match all of your content. But really there’s a bunch of different algorithms that are at play, freshness, relevance, video, imagery, a whole bunch of different ways that Google’s built technology to evaluate a piece of content to figure out how valuable it is and where it should rank.

But then to the side of this, there’s these things called ranking factors. Let’s start off by talking about what is a ranking factor and why is that different than one of Google’s systems or one of the multiple algorithms that Google implements?

Jordan:                         Yeah, absolutely. Ranking factors are a way to really unpack the way that a search engine applies different data points or different insights they gather to prioritize the results in their search engine. The reality is that there’s these systems that are kind of like the foundation that help Google collect and process this information, and then there are the various algorithms that are being applied to that data to help tweak what’s happening. Ranking factors are the interpretation of those systems and those algorithms being applied.

I think that’s the most important thing is that a ranking factor is just a set of criteria that we have applied as the industry or even Google has applied as the operator of the search engine to better understand how the results are being compiled essentially.

Ben:                             I have two comments. One, Huh? Two, isn’t a ranking factor just a variable in the algorithm? Isn’t the algorithm saying for this query, here are all the various variables that we’re going to evaluate, and some are more important than others for specific queries, right? Maybe your site speed is more important for one query versus another or your content length or whatever it is, but there’s all these different variables. Isn’t it just part of the algorithm? Isn’t it just something that Google is weighing to help evaluate your content?

Jordan:                         I am so glad that you positioned it this way because this is exactly where many folks in our industry get massively tripped up and so many website operators and businesses become so confused. Ranking factors are not the inputs to an algorithm. They can be sometimes, but it is not mutually exclusive that a single ranking factor is an input that actually binds an algorithm. In many cases, the algorithms itself are taking into account a collective of ranking factors, or in some cases, an algorithm may not even be looking at ranking factors at all. They’re just simply processing certain information that is not derived to be, you know, a ranking factor.

To answer your question, they’re not mutually exclusive. No. A ranking factor is not an input to an algorithm, but it’s the best way that we can analyze and interpret what is changing and how things are changing within the algorithm.

Ben:                             Jordan?

Jordan:                         Yeah.

Ben:                             Huh? Wait, let me get this straight: A ranking factor is this thing that you’re supposed to optimize for. I want my content length or my keyword targeting to be right and that’s going to… Whatever it is. My site speed. I need all of these things to be perfect and they’re not actually part of the algorithm. They do or they don’t impact how you rank?

Jordan:                         Well, they absolutely do impact how you rank. but I think the more important notion for our listeners to understand is that they’re not mutually exclusive. This is what makes SEO so challenging. You can’t just have a binary ranking factor pull that lever and miraculously on the other end it’s going to impact the algorithm and you’re going to show up higher in the rankings. That’s not how it works. The reality is that it’s important for us to understand how to evaluate ranking factors, to use the data for ranking factors, and then come to conclusions that can holistically help us improve our websites, and thus, the positions in Google, instead of trying to like hack the algorithm by using ranking factors.

Ben:                             You’re talking a language that I don’t know if I understand. This must be pure SEO, but maybe it would be helpful if you give me an example of a ranking factor or a type of ranking factor.

Jordan:                         Sure. One of the ranking factors that we spent a lot of time talking about on the show is site speed. We talk about site performance all the time, and we make a big stink of it partly because Google makes a big stink of it. But also we’ve seen a lot of our clients be very successful in improving their performance in Google by improving their site speed. But This is not necessarily a mutually exclusive ranking factor that drives an algorithm. There isn’t like an algorithm that Google has that’s just sitting around going, “Ah. I figured out that this speed is the right speed and let’s make this website show up higher.” No. It’s an evaluation KPI that can be analyzed as a ranking factor and can be one of the elements that’s used in the algorithm to adjust rankings.

It’s not that they’re mutually exclusive and they kind of like work hand-in-hand harmoniously. They don’t. I think that’s the challenge that most people have. If they did, here’s what would happen, right? The entire tie would rise even, right? What would happen is if you’re in position eight for all of your keywords, then you would be in position six tomorrow in all your keywords. But as we all know, that’s not how Google search works and we’ve never experienced Google search to work that way agnostically across an entire website.

Ben:                             I think that one of the things that is important here is that not all keywords are necessarily determined the same way, right? That whether it be ranking factors or the algorithm, different queries are going to be recognized and evaluated based on a different set of variables.

Jordan:                         Bingo. Absolutely. Google talks a lot about this. They talk a lot about the fact that different factors impact different keywords, and thus different factors need to be applied to different webpages of your site. It’s a very hard thing for websites to do because typically webmasters, engineers and product teams, they’re trying to make holistic horizontal changes that impact the whole website, not just one page.

Ben:                             Yeah, it’s never going to hurt your website to make your site faster. You’re never going to be penalized for a faster site speed, but it might be a waste of time optimizing pages where your site speed is already faster than everybody else that’s delivering content.

Jordan:                         Bingo. That’s a great reverse way of looking at that situation, right? That’s exactly the way you can interpret the fact that these things are not connected to one another.

Ben:                             I got to say, I’m still confused. Break down ranking factors a little bit more for me so I understand because I’m still thinking of this as, look, at each query has its own set of variables that you need to optimize for. You don’t necessarily know what they are, but when you change the content or the technical part of your page, then you’re going to perform differently. Isn’t it the algorithm that’s interpreting those changes?

Jordan:                         Absolutely, and they are. I think that to understand ranking factors, you often need to understand the way that various companies or agencies are trying to provide you the information. All ranking factors are not created equal. They can be derived from different sources of data. They can be derived using different types of calculations. The reality is that you really need to understand what the intention is of the company to help you understand those ranking factors, and then you also need to understand what data in calculations are using to validate whether or not that ranking factor is impacting your website. It’s just kind of like a cautionary viewpoint on how ranking factors are bundled or analyzed by various companies.

But to simplify things for listeners, there’s really kind of two buckets to look at for ranking factors. There’s typically technical ranking factors and there’s content ranking factors. There are so many different ways of analyzing the factors that are within each one of those buckets and they’re constantly evolving. There’s new ones being introduced all the time. The reality is that the factors themselves help you understand what’s going on in your competitive set on your website itself, and those should then be used to determine what you want to change or improve on your website.

Ben:                             There’s technical and there’s content ranking factors. We can go into a little bit more detail about what those are, but I think I finally figured out a metaphor that helps me understand the difference between the algorithm and ranking factors, and it’s a diet metaphor. To have a healthy diet, you need to have a balance of carbs, fat, and protein. To be healthy on Google, you need to basically optimize for crawl, what the index is, and what the search experience is, but it’s just not that simple. You also need to have the right balance of vitamins and minerals while you’re also consuming food. If you’re just eating one thing over and over again, you’re just going to be a little bit out of balance.

There are these other micro factors that are in the things that you’re doing. I would say that that’s part of the algorithm, but you’re going to disagree with me that you need to make part of your habit. If you don’t get enough vitamin B, you’re going to have problems. If you don’t have good site speed, you’re going to have some problems. Those are kind of the difference between, in my mind, ranking factors and the algorithm.

Jordan:                         That’s a great way of looking at it and that’s precisely the complicated thread that we’re trying to explain here is how do all these different elements come together to create a healthy dialogue.

Ben:                             Does Google actually talk about what the ranking factors are?

Jordan:                         Yes and no. Ranking factors is really a byproduct of the search industry. The SEOs of the world and the data companies have come together to provide ways to better understand what’s happening in the algorithm. I like to look at it from that perspective because the majority of the publications and the information that you’ll read about ranking factors are coming from those sources. But yes, Google does talk about ranking factors from time to time and they do mention at times whether or not something is considered a ranking factor. Recently there was a… I think it was in Office Hours with John Mueller where they talked about content length and whether or not content length was a ranking factor.

John Mueller basically said, “No. It’s not really a ranking factor,” but he didn’t address the answer as if content or content length is or is not a ranking factor. He addressed it from the perspective of content quality because that’s really what Google is trying to measure. They’re trying to measure content quality and we use various factors to describe that.

Ben:                             Okay. This concept of ranking factor is not necessarily a Google generated idea. This is something that the search industry has produced as a way to try to talk about the data that in aggregate has analyzed that there is some proof that impact performance on Google search engine.

Jordan:                         Bingo.

Ben:                             We know for a fact, because we’ve tested it at Searchmetrics, that site speed has a dramatic impact on how you rank in Google. Google is not saying, “Hey, site speed is one of the variables in our algorithm. You should optimize for this ranking factor.” It’s just something we know from empirical data that’s been collected.

Jordan:                         Correct.

Ben:                             Okay.

Jordan:                         That is correct.

Ben:                             Jordan, I’m starting to get it. I understand what ranking factors are. They’re these made up things by the search industry that we know have some effect on search rankings. They are not part of the algorithm. They are what we think are part of the algorithm.

Jordan:                         Correct. Correct. In many cases and in many industries and for many keywords, there are pitfalls and opportunities that can be had using ranking factors. I think that it is up to the decision makers of these websites and the great SEOs that are listening to this podcast to make those decisions. I think that the interesting part is that this is invariably one of the most important data sources that you can use to help you make decisions and choices.

Ben:                             Okay. We know that there are certain things that impact what your performance in search area. We call them ranking factors. We break them into technical and content. Give me the big ones. Let’s start off with the technical stuff. What are the big technical ranking factors?

Jordan:                         Yeah. We already kind of mentioned one of them around site speed and that certainly is one of the critical ranking factors. The other one that I think is really important to note here is hygiene. Again, that’s not necessarily a ranking factor. That’s what I use as kind of like a tag to cluster ranking factors, but this includes things like errors that you might have on your website, server errors, page errors that you might have, redirects and bad links that you might have on your website. The hygiene and quality of your website matters a lot to Google because that’s ultimately how people are going to consume the information. That bucket within technical ranking factors to my opinion is the most critical one next to speed.

Ben:                             What about things like getting into the index, submitting your sitemap? Are there any other ranking factors around those things?

Jordan:                         Absolutely. I mean, you can evaluate those criteria based on different mechanics. I wouldn’t necessarily call them ranking factors per se, but what you can say is that there is a body of work around how to establish site maps and having them or not having them as one way of looking at a ranking factor. Obviously, again, it’s more important to kind of have the groundwork in place, the foundation in place more so than anything else. The big difference here is that site maps are often considered part of just the groundwork and the foundation of what you do, and you have to have it in order for Google to find your content. There’s various tactics in order to get Google to find your content, so it’s not mutually exclusive.

But the long story short here is that it can be evaluated as a ranking factor by the industry, but I wouldn’t necessarily think that Google looks at that as a derivative of how to rank a website.

Ben:                             Talk to me about the content ranking factors. What are the biggest things that the search industry thinks are impacting what drives your performance from a content perspective?

Jordan:                         Yeah. From a content standpoint, there are a variety of ways to slice ranking factors. One of them is relevancy. There’s a variety of different relevancy scores that are considered ranking factors. We’ve talked about things in the past like TFIDF, which is term frequency on pages. There’s also different ways of evaluating the distance or the relationship distance between the core keyword or the title of the page and the body and the substance on the page. There are even other ways to evaluate content that maybe considered a derivative of a ranking factor, but the most important content ranking factors that exist are ultimately the content quality, so measuring the usefulness of your content.

There is the relevancy to main keyword that you’re trying to go after, and then the third one is relationships, so the relationship to your content versus the other content that’s actually available on the internet. Those are the three overarching concepts that are really considered ranking factors in content.

Ben:                             I don’t think any of this is groundbreaking. It’s a lot of stuff that we’ve talked about on the podcast before from a technical perspective, getting your site speed, making sure that you have good hygiene, right? Keeping your site up to date is going to be a ranking factor. That’s how Google is going to interpret the strength of your domain at some point. The technical expertise that you’ve put into it. From a content perspective, it’s what content are you putting on the page, how does it rank for the keyword that you’re trying to reach, and what’s the relationship with it to the rest of your content and the rest of the internet.

If other people are broadcasting that it has a signal of being valuable content, Google is going to take that into consideration as well. You mentioned John Mueller too and how there was some recent news about ranking factors. Talk to me about who John Mueller is and what the recent news related to Google’s announcement about ranking factors.

Jordan:                         John Mueller is… For those of you who are not familiar with John Mueller, John Mueller is the Senior Web Trends Analyst for Google and he hosts… They used to be Hangouts, but now they’re on YouTube, these sessions where he would answer questions for SEOs about, you know, SEO. They can be very, very tactical in nature about a website and what’s going on, or they could be very broad and overarching in terms of like what’s going on in the industry or explain to me what ranking factors are. As I mentioned earlier, you know John highlighted that word count is not an indicative of quality. He was very clear to highlight that quality metrics are not necessarily a pure view of what a ranking factor is.

He also mentioned the Quality Rater Guidelines, which is really interesting and a nice segue because that’s kind of the next big topic for us is talking about these Google guidelines and how we adhere to them to improve our performance.

Ben:                             What I’m hearing is that John Mueller on some level is an analyst for Webmaster Trends, but really he’s the Wizard of Oz, right? He is an evangelist for Google to help the SEO community understand what Google thinks about the search industry and how they should think about what’s happening at Google, how they should interpret. He is talking about ranking factors, which muddies the water a little bit in terms of whether Google is creating ranking factors or whether it’s something that was created by the SEO community to understand Google, but he’s talking about some of the different ways that SEO should think about optimizing their content and saying content length is not a factor that you should consider.

Content quality is. There was also some stuff about URLs and characters. What else? What else did he talk about?

Jordan:                         Yeah. In the past, I mean, John and others have mentioned things about like what is the general statement on URLs and having keywords in the URL or URL length. There’s been a lot of discussion around ranking factors and site speed as we’ve discussed. The reality is that Google is always very careful in the way that they answer these questions about ranking factors because they don’t necessarily want to point people into just one exclusive direction that, oh, you just must focus on the keyword and the number of keywords or the length of your URL. They want you to focus on the collective of these factors, and they want you to understand how to make the best experience for consumers.

Using data though helps us to best justify that and best understand what’s a priority. I think that’s why ranking factors is so important for us to discuss because this is a tool that we use to understand Google’s algorithm. Without this tool, we’d have far less knowledge and insight into doing our day to day jobs.

Ben:                             Finally, you said something that helps me understand what ranking factors are. At the end of the day, ranking factors are let’s call them a manufactured term by the search community where we collectively have done research and analysis to understand what drives results on Google. We’ve broken things up into technical and content ranking factors, but they are theories of what is in Google’s algorithm. They are not actually part of Google’s algorithm.

Jordan:                         You got, it Ben.

Ben:                             Finally. We figured it out.

Jordan:                         I think you finally figured it out.

Ben:                             All right, everybody. I’m halfway to becoming an SEO, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search Podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, the lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics, Inc. We’d love to continue this conversation with you. If you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you could find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter. His handle is @JTKoene, J-T-K-O-E-N-E, or you could visit his company’s website, which is If you have general marketing questions or if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes, or you can send me a tweet @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 for your complimentary advisory session with our digital strategies team. 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 soon. Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed the show and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the Apple iTunes Store or wherever you listen to your podcasts. Okay. That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.

Google Analytics App + Web – The New Frontier In Digital Analytics?

Written By: Catherine Blake and Michael Sherrod.

Who wouldn’t want to know how mobile app experiences lead users to engage with and convert on-site (or vice versa)?

Last week, Google announced the launch of the new App + Web property type in Google Analytics to help answer this very question! While this version is still in Beta, its goal is to solve a disconnect in digital analytics: gathering app and website data for measurement in a single place. This presents new and exciting opportunities for those who collect and analyze both app and website data.

So what does this mean for you? Let’s dive in and find out!

A New Solution for Cross-Platform Analytics

In recent years, the user journey has evolved to include more touchpoints throughout the digital marketing funnel. Mobile apps are everywhere today, generating more than $365 billion globally in 2018.

With more users interacting with brands across apps and websites, a unified picture of engagement throughout the digital ecosystem is essential for marketers. Insight into cross-platform journeys will allow us to understand the full user journey, predict customer needs and provide great brand experiences. Your business exists across platforms, so should your data.

Currently, many businesses measure app engagement with Google Analytics for Firebase (GA4F) or Google Analytics App Views, whereas website engagement is measured in default Google Analytics (GA) web views. While this goes part of the way to understanding the full digital experience, it falls short by collecting data from each platform separately, resulting in siloed data.

Enter, GA App + Web properties, a flexible tool to combine your data and discover insights unique to your business, not the platform.

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What is App + Web and How Does It Work?

App + Web is a new property type in GA that takes the best of GA4F and applies it to traditional web views. The combination allows you to measure app and website data together in Google Analytics for the first time.

This is done by sharing a single set of metrics and dimensions between data sources (app or web). If you are familiar with GA you will understand the session-centric data model used for your website’s data. App + Web properties progress past this traditional data schema by switching to a more user-centric event-based model.

Users of GA4F will recognize this structure as it works in essentially the same way. This change is an exciting prospect for GA users, who have long awaited more flexibility in reporting and analysis.

For a technical overview of how the event-based model works, check out this blog post from David Vallejo.

Out with the old: Two analytics interfaces using different measurement models.

Google Analytics App View Interface:

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Google Analytics For Firebase Interface:

In with the new: One interface, one measurement model, all of your data from web and app.

New Google Analytics App + Web Property View:

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Benefits of Using the App + Web Property

Web + App provides us with a new opportunity to understand our users, in a more complete sense.

Here are just a few cool new things you can expect:

  1. Enhanced Measurement: First off, this event-based model provides better out-of-the-box functionality allowing you to measure a diverse range of actions regardless of platform. This can include app opens, page views, downloads, and more. It automates the manual work of tagging these events without requiring any additional coding.
  2. Exploration: Analyze a bunch of variables for ad-hoc visualizations all in an easy drag-and-drop interface.
  3. Funnels: Illustrate your users’ navigation steps, and identify key entrance and drop off points. There are even options for open and closed funnels.
  4. Path Analysis: Follow your users’ actions at each step of the funnel to better understand conversion.

Some of the questions we can now begin to answer with a unified analytics property are:

  • How many total users do we have across platforms?
  • Where are the majority of conversions happening (web or app)?
  • Which channels are most effective at driving new user acquisition?
  • What does the user journey between website and app look like?

And that’s just for starters! Insights gained can provide us with a host of opportunities to optimize our digital platforms to better serve users. Read more from Google here.

How to Get Started with App + Web

To get started, go to Firebase Console to create a new project.

Follow the steps on screen and then once your project has been created, head over to Google Analytics to complete your setup.

Step 1: Create a Firebase Project

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Step 2: Configure the App + Web Property in Google Analytics

Navigate to the Admin section of your new App + Web property and select Data Streams. This new measurement model revolves around streams. A Stream is your data source and can include iOS, Android or Web applications.

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Here you will setup and configure your data stream.

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Finally, configure your tagging. Depending on whether you have GA tracking setup on your site already or not, you can choose either Add new on-page tag or Use existing on-page tag.

Follow the instructions for the implementation option that applies to you and start collecting data.

New Tag Configuration

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Existing Tag Configuration

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App + Web Property Settings

Seer Master Icons 2016 73 There are no Views in this property type. Anything you would usually configure at the View level admin will now be done in the property settings.

Data retention options of 2 or 14 months. Consult with your internal data/privacy teams to decide which makes the most sense for your business.

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Default reporting identity options of User ID and Device or Device Only.

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Measurement ID: G-xxxxxxx (acts as UA-xxxxxx-x in standard GA properties).

Current Limitations

As with any Beta, you can expect some kinks as the product evolves. Currently, App + Web properties are lacking:

  1. If you depend on Enhanced Ecommerce measurement this solution may not be right for your business (for now). Enhanced Ecommerce Measurement is not yet supported.
  2. There are no product-scoped Custom Dimensions or Metrics and no Custom Reports.
  3. There is a slight learning curve. If you’re not accustomed to Firebase, navigating around a Web + App property may throw you off at first.

Google Analytics new App and Web experience, with its new user-centric event model and new analysis capabilities is now available to all Analytics and Analytics 360 accounts in Beta.

If you already use Google Tag Manager or the global site tag for Google Analytics setup is a straightforward process. There’s no re-tagging required for your website. App data can be included through the Firebase SDK implemented in your app.

While still in its infancy, this new model for combining data from app and website in one place, with on data schema is a welcome addition to the analytics industry.

We are excited to take the plunge into unified data reporting and analysis as the capabilities of App + Web evolve. Got questions about analytics? Reach out – we’re here to help!

How to Become an SEO Expert: The Definitive Guide

Work On Your Own Website

This is how I got started with SEO.

And it’s how I recommend most people step up their SEO game.

Here’s why:

When you run your own website, you can make changes FAST.

No need to ping your boss on Slack to see if it’s OK to change a title tag.

No need to email your client’s web designer to add an image to a page.

See something that needs to be changed. Change it. See the results.

The cycle of test→learn→improve moves 10x faster with your own property than with someone else’s website.

Plus, when you work on your own stuff you get to see the 100+ of factors that go into a successful website (beyond straight-up SEO). Stuff like design, copywriting, list building, social media and outreach.

In other words, running your own site helps you become a well-rounded “T-Shaped Marketer”.

The t-shaped web marketer

For example, Jerryll Noorden applied what he learned from his time as a former NASA scientist to SEO.

Which helped him take his side hustle into a highly profitable real estate business.

Jerryll Noorden – We Buy Houses In Connecticut – Homepage

Here’s how Jeryll described this experience shaped his approach to SEO today.

And Jerryll isn’t alone. A few years back, Maaike de Boer’s daughter was struggling with math at school.

And when Maaike looked for resources to help her daughter, she came up empty.

That’s when Maaike decided to launch a website that now gets 200k visits per month.

Wijzer over de Basisschool – Google Analytics

(Which is even more impressive if you consider that Norway only has about 17 million people).

How did Maaike get so good at SEO? She learned as much as she could about SEO (from blog posts, online courses and SEO conferences). Then, she applied what she learned to her website.

And this fast process made Maaike go from SEO newbie to SEO expert in record time.

Or as Maaike told me:

That said, running your own website isn’t the only way to learn SEO. You can also…

Boolean search for social media monitoring: What to track, how to track, and why


If you have any experience with social media monitoring platforms, you know that getting precise results may be tricky at times: Apps can show a lot of noise for brands with common names or, quite the contrary, miss some valuable data behind due to the restrictive filters.

That’s when Boolean search fits in perfectly.

Boolean search definition

In a broad sense, a Boolean search is a type of search that combines terms with operators. It’s used in social listening tools, search engines, and other apps. It lets you find precisely what you’re searching for, and exclude what you’re not. I have to mention that not all social listening tools provide Boolean capabilities, but some platforms such as Awario, SproutSocial, or Google Alerts do let you test it before starting your subscription.

Dealing with those Boolean queries may look intimidating at first if you aren’t familiar with programming. But the good news is that first of all, not everyone needs Boolean: If you’re monitoring unique keywords, you’ll be alright with a regular search mode. And secondly, mastering the basics of creating Boolean queries doesn’t require any technical background at all.

Boolean terms explained

Before creating your first query, you should get comfortable with major Boolean operators, such as “AND”, “OR”, “AND NOT” (which is sometimes used as “NOT” or just “-”).


This one narrows your search to find results of both keywords or groups of keywords within one post, so the query like “Prince William” AND “Duchess Kate” will show us results where both names are mentioned:

example of using the AND boolean to find keywords or groups of keywords


OR broadens the search to find results where any term is mentioned. This can be good for misspellings, typos, and alternatives of the same term. For example “Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge” OR “Duchess Kate” will show mentions with any version of her name:

example of using OR boolean to search misspellings, typos, and alternatives of the same term


AND NOT lets you exclude terms you don’t want to appear in your search results. If you don’t want to get mentions about Prince William’s 37th birthday, (“Prince William” AND NOT birthday) will help you get relevant mentions:

The list of Boolean operators and their logic varies on different tools: some of them, such as Google Alerts, has a pretty basic set (which is enough in most cases though) which includes “OR”, “-”, “site”, quotation marks, and an asterisk. Others, like Brandwatch, offer advanced operators, such as “NEAR/n”, “raw”, “country”, and more.

Where and how to use Boolean?

Boolean search is applicable in multiple scenarios, but I’d love to focus more on the cases where this mode is indispensable. So below you can find the cases when a few lines of code can save you tons of time on cutting through the noise.

Save time on inputting all brand name alternatives

This is a time-saving tactic that lets you create a query using just a few lines of code instead of entering all possible brand name alternatives. Works best for three-word names or more.

Let’s say there’s a brand that’s called C.S. Johnson & Sons. This brand name can be spelled in a number of ways:

using Boolean to create a query using just a few lines of code

But if you have access to Boolean search, you can create the following query:

example of creating a Boolean search query

Gain control over acronyms or brands with common names

As in the previous case, you can apply the power of grouping words for searching brands with common or ambiguous names. And there are two ways of treating those cases.

First of all, you can exclude irrelevant results by adding a group of negative keywords, which are terms you don’t want to be used in your results:

example of gaining control over acronyms and brand names by adding a group of negative keywords

Secondly, you can add some terms to be used with the brand name to ensure you find results that matter to your business.

example of adding common terms to brand names for boolean search

On the screenshot above, at the top, you can find a social media handle and a website that will bring relevant results per se. They’re followed by the brand name that can be used in multiple cases, but we narrow it down to the relevant case only.

And finally, sometimes it makes perfect sense to use both “AND” and “AND NOT” operators:

example of using AND” and “AND NOT” operators for boolean search

This query shows only relevant results since the whole query is supported by negative terms.

Find linkless pages for link-building purposes

Boolean search lets you easily create queries that contain only mentions of a particular brand or industry and don’t have links to this brand. It works best for news articles and other web pages, so note that you’ll need a tool that monitors those sources as well:

This query will deliver all webpages that mention JIRA on the web and don’t have links to their website. So our job here is to reach out to website owners to turn those pages into backlinks.

Monitor mentions from specific regions

This technique is useful for international companies. You can set up an alert that will deliver relevant mentions to a person in charge of the company unit from a particular geographical area.

You can use the country operator to limit the search to a specific location that’s provided by social networks. And in addition to that, you can create another group of keywords that will provide search results for your keywords with location names. This way, the tool will cover mentions where people use the names of relevant locations in the text of a post.

The example above searches for mentions posted in the US as well as all the mentions where location keywords are used within a post.

Uncover dissatisfied customers

This one is great for crisis managers in a company. Boolean search lets you create queries that search for posts containing problematic terms.

To use this, you’ll need the proximity operator near/n that will let you specify the maximum distance between the name of a company and a word or phrase typically used to complain about something online:

Generate new leads

The other case where Boolean search comes in handy is lead generation. To set up a search, you’ll need to come up with a few phrases that people typically use to ask about services online, such as “I’m looking for”, “I need”, “recommend me”, and similar search queries.

By using the near/n proximity operator, you can define the distance of those phrases from your target keywords:

This query will monitor social platforms for all new posts where people search for web designers. All you need to do is interact with those posts internally from the tool (if it has the capability to do so) or externally from a social media platform.

Check texts for plagiarism

And the last one I’d like to tell you about is checking texts for copyright infringement. All you need to do is add a few pieces of content to the alert (don’t forget to quote it to search for the exact match).

example of using Boolean search to check for plagiarized content

The app will search for matches of those pieces on social media platforms and the web and notify you each time someone’s taking advantage of your work without permission.

Final words

Using Boolean for social media monitoring is a great way to cut through countless mentions to find those gems that let you understand your audience better and reach your social media marketing goals.

So when you shop for a social media monitoring tool, make sure it’s equipped with a Boolean search mode.

Aleh is the Founder and CMO at SEO PowerSuite and Awario. He can be found on Twitter at @ab80.

The post Boolean search for social media monitoring: What to track, how to track, and why appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Marketing your blog: 6 tips to grow your audience

If you’re writing posts for your blog, you want an audience. Nobody wants to perform in an empty room! Ranking high in search engines by doing your SEO flawlessly will, of course, help. But you can do more! In this post, I’ll give you lots of blog marketing tips to make sure your audience will grow and will keep on growing!

Tip 1: Start with a mission

Marketing has to do with increasing the number of people who know and like your company, your products, your brand. To be successful at marketing, you should always choose marketing strategies that fit the mission of your website. And to do that, of course, you need to properly define your site’s mission! Once you know your mission and what makes your company or your website unique, make sure it’s always reflected in the content of your marketing.

Example: Yoast’s mission and marketing

The mission of Yoast is (in a nutshell) to help people optimize their website. To fulfill that mission, we offer free and premium products, as well as courses. We use several channels to reach out to our audience, such as our blog, our newsletter, and social media channels such as Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and LinkedIn. We make sure that the things we share fit our mission and our brand. That does not mean that every post we write is about optimizing websites. As part of our branding, we also share posts on and photos of, for example, events we attend and our office life, especially on Facebook.

Tip 2: Choose marketing that fits your brand

Marketing should also fit your brand. Branding is the way you want to present your company to the world, visually or in the way you communicate. It could even be in the way you make your products. Perhaps you want your brand to be hip and young. Maybe you’d rather come across as traditional and solid. It’s up to you- just make sure you’re consistent. Branding is a matter of personal taste, and most importantly, branding should reflect your mission.

Read more: Where your branding meets your keyword strategy »

Tip 3: Get to know your audience

An important step in marketing is to find out what your audience looks like. Who are my visitors? Where are they from? How do they currently engage with my blog posts? In order to answer these questions, there are different kinds of research you can do. Google Analytics could give you some great insights. And, how about conducting a survey? Once you have a clear view of what your audience looks like, it’s much easier to reach them on (for instance) social media.

Tip 4: Think about new audiences!

Now that you have some idea of your current audience; does it consist of the people you want to reach? How could you expand it? Have you considered all potential audiences you could reach with site?

If you think about your audience, it’ll be easier to find growth potential. For example, it could well be that your current audience is very small, but consists of exactly the kind of people you want to have on your website. Your growth question would then be: where do I find more of these people? It could also be that your current audience and your desired audience are somewhat different. Your growth question would then be: where do I find my new audience?

Tip 5: Find the right platforms

Having a clear vision of the people you want to reach is important for the next marketing steps you’ll take. Usually, trying to reach an audience of hip teenagers on Facebook is simply not a good marketing strategy. Nor is trying to reach an audience of older retirees on Instagram. Both the content of your posts, as well as the social media channel you choose should be finetuned on the audience you want to reach.

In addition to focusing on social media, consider sending out a newsletter. That’s a great way to stay in touch with your readers and regularly send them on-brand content, so you’ll stay top of mind. You may not get everyone from your audience to subscribe, but those who do will be highly engaged.

And, perhaps you have the option to reach out to a blog in a similar niche to yours and offer a guest post? This could be a great opportunity to both reach a larger audience and work on your network at the same time. Don’t go around sending low-quality guest posts to every random blog you can find – that’s not a good marketing strategy and won’t do you any good. But if you can write a great post for another blog that’s reaching a (bigger) audience that you’d also like to reach, go for it!

Tip 6: Advertising

If you have a budget, you could also decide to put ads on, for instance, Facebook or Google to promote your blog. Facebook offers the option to boost your post, making sure it’ll get more exposure.

Facebook actually allows you to really focus on the demographic you would like to reach with settings for age group, location and interests, making it quite easy to target your desired audience.

Conclusion on blog marketing

Devising a blog marketing strategy to roll out alongside your SEO strategy helps grow the audience of your blog. So, get to know your company and your audience! Mind you, growth does not equal more money. If you want to make money with your blog, there’s a whole lot of different things you could do. But marketing your blog with these tips will definitely help you find your voice and an audience that’s eager to hear what you have to say!

Keep reading: Blogging: the ultimate guide »

The post Marketing your blog: 6 tips to grow your audience appeared first on Yoast.

110: A Candid Conversation w/Barry Schwartz on His Story, Productivity, Core Updates & More

Today’s episode I think is an important one for anyone who’s a part of, or interested in, the SEO industry. Whether you’re an actual practitioner, maybe newer to the space, or just following along and love SEO – you’ll probably get something out of this discussion.

I wanted to talk with Barry and get more details around things a lot of people are curious about…

For one, he’s known for being very prolific, publishing up to 5+ articles per day, following the SEO news, sharing things via Twitter, engaging with the community … AND running a company full time (that has nothing to do with SEO).

And I wanted to get his take on the state of Google right and now, and where things might be going. Barry is often the one reporting news — but I wanted to give him the spotlight and learn more about someone who is truly invaluable in this industry.

Some of the many things covered:

  • Barry reacts to his very first blog post from 2005!
  • Why Barry started blogging to begin with
  • How Barry got a Wiki page
  • His thoughts on Danny Sullivan’s role at Google
  • The best way to send Barry SEO news tips
  • Does Google give Barry info “off the record”?
  • The recent Google Core updates
  • Zombie Clicks (?)

And more – enjoy!

Related Episodes You Might Like

  • (Coming very soon!)

Show Agenda and Timestamps

  • (Coming very soon!)

Tools Mentioned

  • (Coming very soon!)

Articles, Resources, and Links Mentioned

  • (Coming very soon!)

Find Barry Online

The post 110: A Candid Conversation w/Barry Schwartz on His Story, Productivity, Core Updates & More appeared first on Evolving SEO.