Archives August 2017

The Beginner’s Definitive Guide to Google Analytics

The Beginner's Definitive Guide to Google Analytics

Google Analytics is one of the many tools that Google provides to help people understand what visitors are doing on their website. The tool allows you to track and analyze critical data on your site and site visitors. It‘s one of the most popular free tools available.The volume of data Google Analytics provides makes it an essential component of any website manager‘s or marketeers online toolbox


Ahrefs: The Ultimate Guide

Ahrefs is one of the most powerful SEO tools on the market.

Today, I’m going to show you how you can use it to your advantage (and start getting better SEO results). I love this tool and don’t know how I could function as an SEO without it.

That’s why I’m going to show you everything you need to know about using this incredible tool. Let’s jump in.

What is Ahrefs?

Perform Backlink Audits

Auditing your existing link profile is a good first step for any new SEO campaign.

Ahrefs site explorer

Ahrefs will give you the data you need to make informed decision about your link profile.

Find Link Prospects

Extracting link opportunities from your competitors is one of my favorite functions of Ahrefs.

Ahrefs Link Prospects

I’ll be showing you how to not only find these link opportunities, but also how you actually land links that your competitors have.

Perform Keyword Research

Most people don’t think of Ahrefs as a keyword research tool, but these people are missing out!

Ahrefs KD

This tool has become one of my “go-tos” for finding keywords and content ideas. I will show you how to do exactly that later on in this guide.

Validate Qualify and Analyze Competitors

Finding keywords is easy, but the real magic happens when you understand how to qualify your keywords.

Ahrefs can help you achieve this goal. I’ll show you how to validate keywords in this guide.

Track Individual Keywords

Ahrefs keyword tracking is excellent.

Ahrefs Keyword Rankings

I’ll show you how to set it up later in this post.

Track Total Organic Visibility

Only tracking individual keywords is an outdated strategy. The most important KPI in SEO is your organic search traffic data inside Google Analytics.

organic keywords ahrefs

But in addition to Google Analytics, you should leverage the “Total Organic Keywords” data inside Ahrefs. More on this later.

Brand Management

Ahrefs allows you set up alerts for keywords or branded keywords. This is a powerful function for relationship building and brand management. I’ll get deeper into the tools alerts function in this guide.

Site Audits

Lastly, Ahrefs now has a site audit tool.

ahrefs site audit

This tool can help your technical SEO performance.

Ahrefs Terminology

Here is the Ahrefs terminology that you need to understand before using the tool:

Ahrefs Rank

Ahrefs rank is their version of Alexa rank. In essence, it’s an attempt to rank websites based on their estimated traffic volume.

ahrefs rank

The lower your Ahrefs Rank, the higher they believe your estimated traffic is. Take this metric with a grain of salt. Ahrefs doesn’t have access to your internal traffic numbers, so it’s not possible for their “Rank” to be 100% accurate.

URL Rating (UR)

URL Rating (or sometimes called URL Ranking on different parts of their site) is Ahrefs’ metric for measuring the authority and strength of a single page.

URL rating

For example, my backlinks article has a ~ 44 UR. The concept of UR is similar to Moz’s Page Authority (PA) metric. Ahrefs has a much better crawler, so UR is probably more reliable.

Traffic Value

Ahrefs’ “Traffic Value” metric is an estimation of a website’s organic search traffic value in terms of dollars. This is determined based on Google Ads cost-per-click (CPC) data. This is a useful metric because there is a correlation between CPC and organic search competition.

ahrefs traffic value

Meaning, if businesses are willing to pay a “high” (what’s considered to be high or low CPC is relative to the industry, the business model, etc.) CPC, there’s a good chance they are investing heavily into SEO as well. The only difference is that throwing more money at SEO doesn’t guarantee better results.

If you really want to see how hard high CPC niches are from an SEO perspective, just attempt to rank for “city + personal injury lawyer”.

How to Find Keywords Using Ahrefs

What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you think about Ahrefs?

I’m willing to bet that it isn’t “keyword research”.

Most people know Ahrefs for its backlink analysis capabilities, but you are missing out if you aren’t using it keyword research.

That’s why I’m going to show you several ways you can use Ahrefs to find keywords. I’ll even show you one trick I use to find “untapped” keyword opportunities.

Let’s jump in:

1. Analyze Competitor URL in Site Explorer

The first step of this process is for you analyze a competitor’s URL. After you have chosen a competitor, go the “Site Explorer” section and enter the URL.


After the analysis is complete, it’s time to move onto step two.

2. Go to Organic Keywords

The second step is click on “Organic keywords” under the “Organic search” section.

This where your keyword goldmine will be. Now, this section alone can give you tons of ideas, but to take your keyword research to another level, you need to filter these ideas. That brings me to step three.

3. Play with Filters

Using the filters is where the magic happens, but before you begin, you need to establish one thing:

What is your website actually capable of ranking for?

Meaning, do you have a firm grasp on the authority of your website?

The reason why you need to is because your site’s authority will determine what keywords you should to target.

For example, if you have a brand new website, then you need to target longer tail keywords. If you have an authoritative website (relative to the competitor you are analyzing), then you can target more competitive keywords.

For this example, I’m going to assume you have a new website. The first step is to filter your results based on “Volume”, or in other words, the average search volume per month.

I’ve found that targeting keywords in the 100 – 1,000 search volume range is a good target for new websites. That’s because keywords in that range are going to be less competitive (and longer tail).

Keep in mind:

This doesn’t mean you should target this search volume range forever. You should step into new higher search volume ranges when your website begins to build authority.

The next step is to mess around with is the “Words” filter. So, if you only want to see long-tail keywords, then you should set the “From” field

You could stop your initial keyword research at this point because of how much you’ve narrowed the results.

But I also like to use the “Position” filter as well. This filter will show where your competitor is ranking in Google for each keyword in your set. I like setting this filter from position 11 and to position 20.

Having this intel is important for a few reasons:

1. There’s a good chance that your competitor isn’t targeting that specific keyword phrase. The competitor is probably showing up for those long tail keywords just because of their page authority. Not because they are specifically targeting them.

2. Many long tails ranking on the second or even third page are going to be loosely relevant to your competitors primary keyword. That leaves an opportunity for you to step in and dominate that targeted long-tail keyword.

Now, I want to show you how you can monitor your competitor’s new keywords.

4. Monitor Your Competitor’s “New” Keywords

Click on “New” under the “Organic keywords” section.

So, you might be wondering why should you care about your competitor’s “New” keywords?

The first reason why you should care is because you don’t want them to get too much momentum.

As pages age, they will acquire more social signals, backlinks, and user signals. All of these signals will not only help your competitor rank, but will also solidify their rankings. And

I’ve noticed many times that there is a “snowball” effect when you hit the first page of Google. That’s because most people will not go beyond the first page when they are looking for resources to link to.

The key takeaway is that you don’t want your competitors to build to strong of a foundation.

You need to monitor what new keywords they are targeting and then make a concentrated effort to compete with them on those keywords. That means you need to create a page that is more valuable than theirs.

Now I want to show you how to find your competitors top performing pages.

5. See Your Competitor’s Best Pages

To find a competitor’s best performing pages (from an organic search traffic perspective), go to “Organic search” and click on “Top pages”.

ahrefs top pages

This is one of favorite sections within Ahrefs because you will topics that have already been validated by your competitors.

Backlinks and social signals are validation that the topic has value.

It’s also validation that your competitor picked an attractive content angle for that topic.

Lastly, your competitors strong individual keywords rankings are validation from Google that they have fulfilled searcher intent the right way.

This section will give you the ability to create content and pages that your industry actually cares about.

You will also see what type of content you need to create to fulfill searcher intent (the way that Google wants).

Take advantage of the data in this section because it will eliminate a lot of guesswork from your keyword targeting.

Now I want to show you a quick way to find other competitors in your industry.

6. Find Other Competitors

To find your other competitors click on “Competing domains” under the “Organic search” section.

I recommend you go through the process above to extract even more keywords from your other competitors as well.

The next tactic I want to show you is the Content Gap Tool (love this tool).

7. Use the Content Gap Tool

Click on “Content gap” under the “Organic search” section to access this amazing tool.

This is an amazing tool because it will show what keywords you are NOT ranking for, but your competitors ARE ranking for. All you need to do is put your competitor’s URL in to the “Show keywords that any of the below targets rank for” section. You can add more than one competitor, but in this example I’ll only be using one.

Then, put your URL into the “But the following target doesn’t rank for” section and click “Show keywords”.

Now you will have access to keywords and content ideas that you aren’t currently targeting.

It’s your responsibility to compete for these search terms. That means you need to create pages that are much more valuable (and different) than your competitors for these keywords. Do not allow your competitor’s to have smooth sailing!

The last keyword research tactics I want to show you in Ahrefs is leveraging their Keywords Explorer tool.

8. Leverage the Keywords Explorer

To access this tool, click on “Keywords explorer” in the navigation.

All you need to do now is enter some prospective keywords into the field. In this case, I’m going to use a very general keyword “fitness”.

After the analysis is complete, Ahrefs is going to expose you to all kinds of data about this keyword. This tool is excellent for qualifying your prospective keywords, but in this case, we are only going to use for identifying more keyword ideas. To achieve this goal, go down to the “Keyword ideas” section.

This section is going to show all kinds of great keywords related to original seed keyword.

How you go about leveraging these keyword ideas will largely depend on the authority of your website.

For example, it would difficult to rank for a broad head keyword like “fitness” unless you had a super website. Most websites online are not capable of ranking for such a keyword.

That’s why it’s a good to target longer tail keywords like the ones that Ahrefs is providing in this section.

Now you have a firm grasp on how to find keywords using Ahrefs, let me show you how you can qualify your list of keywords.

How to Qualify Keywords Using Ahrefs

Building a big list of prospective keyword targets is an important first step. However, the real magic happens when you qualify your list of keyword targets.

What does it mean to “qualify” your keywords?

It means you’re going to narrow your list by running your keywords through a vetting process. The end result will be a set of keywords that have “qualified”.

Here’s how to get started:

The first step of the keyword validation process is to click on the “Keywords explorer” option in the Ahrefs’ navigation.

Next, simply paste a prospective keyword in the field. In this example, I’m going to use the keyword phrase “what is creatine”.

As the analysis is complete, you will be taken to a page that looks like this:

Ahrefs’ Keyword explorer is going to show some useful data in this section. The first data point that’s worth looking at is the “Keyword

This a decent gauge of keyword competition.

However, you need to remember that this metric is based on Ahrefs’ internal data. It’s not perfect.

That’s why you need to always conduct your own manual research. But if you’re doing a quick analysis, the Keyword difficulty score will suffice in most cases.

The next metric that you should consider is the amount of searches that result in a click.

According to Ahrefs, the search phrase “what is creatine” produces 50% organic clicks.

That means that out of the approximate 14,000 search per month, only 7,000 of those result in a click. This is often the result of featured snippets or other SERP features that answer the search query without a searcher needing to conduct any additional research.

Another area in the Keyword explorer that you should analyze is the Paid vs. Organic results for your prospective keyword phrase.

This is important for the same results above because more paid results will push the organic results further down the page. That will reduce organic CTR. So, you need to keep that mind when you are doing your research.

Now that understand some of these 30,000-foot view metrics inside the Keyword explorer, I’m going to take this process a little deeper.

Scroll down to the “SERP overview” section and click on the “Export” button in the right hand corner.

Open up the Excel sheet and delete every column except for: “URL”, “Backlinks”, “Referring Domains”, “URL Rating”, “Domain Rating”, and “Facebook”. Your sheet should look like this after you’re done:

The next step is go column-by-column and average out the numbers. Highlight the cells/numbers that need to be averaged and click on the dropdown arrow on the autosum button and select “Average”.

Here’s what it should look like after you have successfully averaged the column:

Repeat this process for all the columns. The next step is paste your domain or target URL in the “URL” column. Then paste your Domain Rating (DR) in the appropriate column like so:

In this example, I am making the assumption that you do NOT have a page already targeting the keyword phrase. The distinction is important because comparing DR is the only option in this scenario.

On the other hand, if you already had a page targeting “what is creatine”, then you would need to add data for every column to get a proper comparison.

So, in this scenario, Greatist.com has enough authority (DR) to compete for this keyword phrase. It wouldn’t be easy, but there are some obvious weakness in these results.

First, there is a YouTube video ranking.

That’s a good sign.

Second, both Blonyx.com and MyProtein.com have one or zero total linking root domains. That’s an indication that these pages are ranking well because they are fulfilling searcher intent the right way. But the biggest force driving their rankings is their overall website authority.

So, in the case of Greatist.com, this would be an attractive keyword to target because their domain is stronger than three of the ranking pages.

Also, Bloynx.com has the lowest DR, but is ranking almost in the top five.

So, this brief analysis is just the first stage of the process.

After you have confirmed that your website can compete (at least at a 30,000 foot view), you then need to analyze each ranking page.

This is critical because SEO isn’t just simple a game of metrics.

On the surface, Greatist should have no problem ranking for this keyword phrase.

However, that confidence can change like the wind when you analyze the ranking URLs on a deeper level. The biggest factor being the quality of the pages.

The main question you have to ask is:

Can you create a page that is MORE valuable and DIFFERENT than what is ranking?

Think about this question every time you want to target a keyword.

Now that you understand how to find and validate keywords using Ahrefs, it’s time for me to show you how to use this tool for technical SEO.

Technical SEO

How to Find Broken Backlinks with Ahrefs

Finding broken backlinks is one of the easiest ways to acquire backlinks. That’s because you already HAD the backlink. Plus, the “linker” has already made the decision to link to you.

That means you can skip right past the relationship building stage of the outreach process.

Here’s how you can find broken backlinks using Ahrefs:

The first step is open up the “Site explorer” tool and enter YOUR domain.

Now go to the “Backlink” section and click on “Broken”.

Now you need to go through each result, find contact information (Voila Norbert and Hunter), and then send each prospect a template similar to this:

“Hey [NAME], love your blog!
I blog over at [your blog] and I saw that you are linking to my article about [topic] (thank you).

I noticed that the link is actually broken. It looks like [insert issue].

When you get the chance, do you think you could change that link to this URL: [your correct URL] – I would be so incredibly grateful.

Thank you!”

Link Building with Ahrefs

How to “Steal” Your Competitor’s Links Using Ahrefs

There are many ways to find link opportunities, but one of the best methods is extract them from your competitors. The key to acquiring your competitor’s backlink is to have an effective outreach process.

Anyone can find link opportunities, but it takes a tested and refined system to acquire backlinks at scale.

That’s the focus on the video below:

The first step of this process is to open Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and paste a competitor’s URL in the search bar.

After the analysis is complete, go to the “Backlink profile” section and click on “Backlinks”.

Now that you can see all of your competitor’s backlinks, it’s time to begin the link acquisition process. I’m going to give you a framework you can take action on today.

But here’s an important point:

You MUST test, refine, and improve your outreach process overtime. No outreach process is perfect. All you can do is test the process and improve it.

Here’s what my link acquisition process looks like (at a 30,000-foot view):

Your success in SEO (and digital marketing in general) is dependent on your ability to build relationships with the individuals who have influence (and established audiences) in your industry. It all begins with outreach.

The first part of this process that you need to understand is that your outreach process will vary based on the type of backlink you are trying to acquire. For example, the process of acquiring a backlink through a guest post is much different than trying to acquire a backlink through broken link building.

Here’s how you can find contact information using Voila Norbert:

Here’s how you can find contact information using Hunter.io:

The next stage is to begin the process of getting “your name out there” and building relationships with your prospects.

Let’s get one thing straight:

No bloggers likes cold outreach. In fact, it’s borderline disrespectful to reach out to a blogger who has an established audience and ask them for something. Why? Because you basically saying: “Hey, can I have all the benefits of your established audience that you probably spent years building without any work on my side?

Moral of the story:

Don’t cold outreach. It’s a dangerous game to play if you are trying to become a serious player in your industry. You do NOT want to burn bridges or repel the people who have the influence. I think you get the point.

So, you’re probably wondering:

HOW do you start the process of building relationships with your link prospects? The best way to hit the prospect on multiple fronts.

Some easy methods include:

  • Leaving insightful and well-thought out blog comments
  • Retweeting their content
  • Replying and engaging with them on their Tweets, Facebook posts, etc.
  • Sending them a complimentary email
  • Asking them a question (that requires their expertise) via email

I recommend using most of these strategies. The key is avoid being creepy and overbearing.

Spread these actions out over the course of weeks.

Otherwise, it becomes obvious that you are only engaging for selfish motives.

All that you need to remember is that effective relationship building and outreach is like how you build relationships in real life.

Take your time and be patient.

Also, always be thinking about how you can add value before asking for anything.

After you have spent some time building relationships with your prospects, it’s time to “test the waters”.

Here are a few templates you can use to “test the waters”:

Broken Link Building

“Hey [NAME], love your blog!

I blog over at {your blog}.

I was reading one of your articles and noticed that you had a few broken links. Would you like me to send the URL over?”

Guest Posting

“Hey [NAME], love your blog!

I blog over at {your blog}.

I was wondering if you are accepting guest contribution at the moment?
I have 3 ideas that I think would be perfect for your blog if are.
Please let me know, thanks!”

Replace or Complement

“Hey [NAME], love your blog!

I blog over at {your blog}.

I noticed that you are linking to {brand’s article about topic}.

I created a similar piece of content except it takes an entirely different angle.
In fact, it {argues|proves|disproves} that {insert why it’s different}.
Would you be interested in reading it?
Just let me know if you’re interested and I’ll send you it over.
Thanks!”

All you need to do now is wait for responses (~1-2 weeks). Send your offer/pitch to those that respond and follow up with the non-responders. If you landed a guest post, write the guest post. If you are “paying to play”, then send the dough.

Now that you know how to find link opportunities, let me show you how to qualify them.

How to Qualify Link Opportunities Using Ahrefs

As I mentioned above, finding link opportunities is the easiest step of the link acquisition process. The next most important step is knowing what link opportunities are actually worth pursuing.

Here’s what you need to do to qualify your link opportunities (at scale):

The first part of qualifying your link opportunities is to go the “More” drop down in the navigation and click on “Batch Analysis”.

Then all you need to do is paste your list of link prospects’ URLs into the box. In this example, I’m going to analyze a list of guest post opportunities in the “fitness” niche.

After you have pasted the URLs, click the dropdown and select the “domain with all its subdomains” option.

This is important because we are qualifying the link prospect’s website as a whole (not just a single page). So, after the analysis is complete you will be presented with a large set of data like this:

The question is… what do you do with all of this information?

The first thing that needs to happen is to understand what we are trying to achieve during this process.

The first objective of this process is to eliminate opportunities that are low quality or do not meet your minimum criteria standards. After that, you then need to prioritize your prospects.

This is possible through the data that Ahrefs provides, but I also recommend using The Relevancy Pyramid as well.

You just need to figure out if you want to focus on the more challenging opportunities or the lower hanging fruits.

Websites is higher authority and traffic are harder to get link placements on, but they have a huge impact when you do successfully land one.

On the opposite side of the spectrum, you can focus on lower authority websites with a quantity focus.

Either way works, but I prefer focusing on the “harder” opportunities because they always seem to perform better (in my experience).

To begin the process of prioritizing these link prospects, you need to sort them by “Keywords”.

“Keywords” are how many estimated organic keywords the website is ranking for based on Ahrefs’ data. This is important for qualifying link opportunities because if a website is performing well in Google, it’s an indication that Google’s algorithm “trusts” this website.

Higher trust = better (and usually more impactful) link opportunity

The opposite is also true.

You should be concerned about websites that are NOT performing well in Google. All you need to do is sort your list in ascending order to find this type of link prospect:

Keep this in mind:

Just because a website doesn’t have great SEO performance, doesn’t mean that it’s a bad opportunity.

You have to remember that Google is just one website and one marketing channel.

The “value” of a link opportunity can’t be based on one channel.

There are a few ways to determine the “value” of a link opportunity outside of organic search traffic such as examining their audience size across multiple channels, examining the quality of their link profile, examining their social media engagement, and even examining their blog engagement.

I’ll get deeper into this process in a future blog post, but for now, the key takeaway is that a link opportunity isn’t “BAD” just because it doesn’t perform well in Google.

But let’s be honest… what I just explained is an optimistic viewpoint.

That’s because many of the opportunities you will encounter WILL be low quality and should be avoided.

All you need to do is examine the websites that have weak SEO performance and see if there is any way that these websites can add value to yours.

If you’re struggling to find any value in a link opportunity, then remove it from your list.

It makes much more sense to focus your time on the prospects that are clearly valuable.

The next step is to sort your list by DR (Domain Rating).

The validation step is simple:

Getting backlinks from websites with higher DR are going to be more impactful (in most cases). They are also harder to get placements on, so you need to keep that in mind as well.

You can then sort your list by Total Referring Domains (the number of unique websites that are linking to yours).

DR and Total Referring Domains are going to be correlated. For example, websites with many Total Referring Domains will usually have a high DR as well.

You can qualify or eliminate most opportunities just based on Total Organic Keywords, DR, and Total Referring Domains.

Some other metrics that you may want to consider are the quantity of .edu and .gov backlinks because this is an indication of trust.

Also, take a look at the Total “Linked” Domains (the total number of outbound links on a prospects website).

If there is a high number of outbound links, it can sometimes mean that the website is selling backlinks. It’s worth investigating if you see an alarming number of outbound links.

But, before you jump in, you need to understand how to optimize your anchor text.

How to Optimize Anchor Text Using Ahrefs

Understanding how to optimize your anchor text can improve your SEO results and keep your website safe from penalties. In the training video below, I show you how you leverage Ahrefs to optimize your anchor text the right way:

Let’s say I wanted to rank for the keyword phrase “healthy breakfast”.

In the example, below I found this keyword phrase while looking through Greatist’s organic keywords. You do an immediate examination, just click the SERP dropdown button.

From here, just click on the down arrow next to each competitor’s URL and open their “Anchors” in a new tab. I recommend doing at least the first five competitors, but ten isn’t a bad idea either. So, now all you’re going to do is get an average of exact match anchor text for this keyword.

This is important because you will be able to see what the “ceiling” is for exact match anchor text.

I usually cut the average anchor text in half and make that my ceiling just be safe.

For example, if the average exact match anchor text is ~10%, I would choose 5% as my ceiling. And as I’ve recommended since the first Penguin update, you should usually stay below 1% exact match anchor text.

This recommendation can change based on the scale.

One other important factor to consider when averaging exact match anchor text (and using it as a guide) is the competition. The reason is because higher authority websites can usually get away with more aggressive anchor text practices.

That’s why it’s a good idea to look at the EMA for the competitor’s that are in a similar authority range as your website.

You can go through the averaging process for partial match anchor as well.

So, at this point, you know how to find and validate keywords, how to find and fix technical SEO issues, how to find and validate link prospects, and how to optimize your anchor text using Ahrefs.

Now, I want to show you how you can monitor your SEO campaigns using this awesome tool.

How to Monitor Your SEO Campaign with Ahrefs

There are countless ranking tracking tools out there, but Ahrefs give you more than enough functionality to track individual keywords, track your overall organic visibility, and track your link profile. In the video below, I show you how you can use Ahrefs to manage your SEO campaigns:

That’s It!

I hope this guide helped you learn how to use Ahrefs to improve your SEO performance. Ahrefs is well worth the investment if you are serious about getting better SEO results.

Also, if you enjoyed the videos, please subscribe to my YouTube channel because I will be producing an incredible amount of actionable SEO training this year.


How voice assistants like Alexa can help marketers reach elderly Americans

The baby boomer generation placed smartphones in the hands of the millennial generation and younger generations. As the baby boomers enter the retirement stage of life, they’re not quite up-to-speed on all the great things that technology can do for them.

Part of the reason for that is that they’re just not as familiar with all the things technology can help them with. Elderly people have a low frustration tolerance for learning how technologies work which is a big reason why voice assistants like Alexa are catching on with this audience.

With devices like Amazon Alexa or Google home, they simply speak their request and the device responds. No swiping or clicking required.

Voice-first technology is a game-changer for seniors

A San Diego pilot project conducted by Davis Park, the executive director for Front Porch Center for Innovation and Wellbeing, set up an Alexa system in a retirement community with 50 residents where most residents were over 80 years old and observed the results.

About 75% of the residents used their smart devices regularly. Instructors focused on helping the residents to connect with the technology. For example, they set up the technology so they could use voice commands to listen to their favorite types of music or watch or listen to their favorite sports teams. From there they were able to branch out and learn how to use the technology to turn the lights off and on, change the temperature, adjust the volume on the music, listen to audiobooks, and get medication reminders using only their voices. 

Voice-first technology quickly generated excitement for them because it allowed them to have greater control and independence, which means they could be less reliant on others. They also felt safer, less isolated, and more connected to friends, family, and the community. In essence, voice-first technology gave them a greater quality of life. 

What possibilities does voice technology bring?

The frontrunners of voice technology in the U.S. are Amazon Alexa and Google Home. There are, however, even more companies that have Voice devices available.  We’re also seeing third party apps on these platforms, built specifically with older Americans in mind.

For example, Alexa has Ask Marvee which is a free service where a senior citizen could send out a morning blast to their loved ones by saying, “Alexa, tell Marvee to send a message saying I’m alright.” Everyone on the list gets a text, email, or both. Seniors can also use Marvee to ask for social visits and get news from their family members. Users can expand their list for a nominal fee.

Another app called ‘Ask My Buddy’ uses voice commands to send an alert via text, call, or email to designated people in times of crisis or trouble. It’s accessible through Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Microsoft Cortana. It’s the next best thing to calling 911.

Alexa also works with LifePod, a proactive voice-first technology that initiates interactions based on preconfigured schedules. The app prompts seniors to follow their routines for taking their medications, checking in with caregivers, staying hydrated, getting exercise, or anything else at a scheduled time, including playing music. If the user doesn’t confirm or respond, the app automatically alerts a caregiver. The app also uses artificial intelligence to recognize irregularities in a senior’s condition, behavior, or sleep patterns and alerts their loved ones.

ElliQ is much like a smart speaker that sits on a nightstand or table. It was created by Intuition Robotics with the senior audience in mind. ElliQ will send or play messages to loved ones. If you ask ElliQ to play some music or pull up some photographs of the grandchildren, the app responds accordingly. If a senior is lazing the day away, ElliQ will suggest that they take a walk or get up and get moving. 

The company incorporated robotics technology into ElliQ which is reflective of a human’s body language. When a senior speaks to ElliQ, it swivels its “head” towards the senior. The device also lights up when it’s speaking. These features increase engagement between the user and the device without trying to mimic a human-robot.

The objective is for the device to be a service bot that doesn’t replace a human companion. Dor Skuler, CEO of Intuition Robotics, states that older adults who are participating in their pilot program are connecting to it. Customers give ElliQ a female gender and classify her as a new entity in their home – somewhere between a person and an appliance.  

Benefits of voice-first technology for the senior population

The goal of voice-first technology is to provide value for the people who use it. By communicating with voice for normal everyday tasks, it’s convenient, saves time, and it’s cost-effective. The value for seniors increases exponentially. For the senior who needs his or her hands to get around using a walker, it’s far easier to ask an electronic app to turn the lights on or off. They no longer need to scour their home looking for a smartphone to call their loved ones every day and tell them they’re doing okay. They will no longer have to put notes up around the house reminding them to take their medication. 

If a senior slips and falls, all they have to do is call out to their app and it will alert someone to send help right away. Photos and videos of close family and friends provide a way to cheer up lonely seniors. With an app like ElliQ, they can see photos or videos of their family members any time they choose, without having to ask someone to dig heavy boxes out of the attic, so they can sort through photographs. 

For family members of aging loved ones, voice-first technology gives them an all-important peace of mind. They can wake up every day and get a message telling them that their loved one is okay and doing well. There is less fear about their loved ones falling and getting injured and not being able to call for help. It eliminates the worry of envisioning them lying helpless on the floor for hours before help arrives. It’s helpful to know that their beloved seniors feel less isolated because they can gain access to audiobooks, music, and television just by making requests out loud. 

How digital marketers can create strategies for seniors by using voice

Do you know what a voice strategist is? Well, I didn’t know what it was either until I met Scot and Susan Westwater, the co-founders of Pragmatic Digital at Global Marketing Day in New York City. When I asked them about how to create strategies for senior care using voice strategy, their first tip was clear – have a clear understanding of what you want to accomplish and what your audience needs from a voice experience. Once you’ve identified what it is that you want to accomplish, it’s easier to develop different strategies to reach your goal. 

For example, if your goals are safety in the home, it’s important to know what their daily schedule looks like. Do they have a consistent routine? Does their daily routine vary on the weekends? Do caregivers come in one or more days per week? Are seniors capable of taking their own medication? Are they able to reach light switches and temperature controls? Can they see the digits on the thermostat? If they go for a walk, how long would they normally be gone? Are they able to take their medications as prescribed? Are they strong enough to lock their doors at night and unlock them without assistance if someone comes to the door? 

By answering those questions, a digital marketer can help some to choose the right digital solutions to accomplish the customer’s goals. 

Using voice-first technology to address health proactively

In many cases, people would live longer if they could make an early diagnosis based on symptoms in the early stages of a disease or illness. It’s possible for voice-first technology to play a role in recognizing symptoms and recording when they first appeared. Electronic apps could play a role such as giving a call to action such as, “Call your doctor…” making it possible to diagnose issues earlier and treat them before they become problematic or life-threatening. 

How to maximize the potential for communication in the senior population

Communication is an important factor when considering your objectives. I find it helpful to list your business objectives and your audience’s objectives and assess where the two meet. What does your message say? Is it clear? You have to think beyond the message and consider who your audience is. The senior population has very different needs than an active young couple or a busy single mother with multiple schedules to manage.

In my recent interview with Scot and Susan Westwater, they noted that they think of voice-first technology as audience-first technology. If you ask it a question, you’re going to get a direct answer. It’s much more senior-friendly than traditional methods of search, where you type your question and have to click around for answers.

The future of voice-first technology in senior care services

As I consider the future of voice-first technology and how it could greatly improve the senior care service industry, I can’t help but consider the barriers that stand in the way. The first obstacle that digital marketers have to overcome is trying to get the seniors on board with understanding that there is more to benefit than to fear with using voice-first technology. Many seniors live on fixed incomes and they may feel that technology is out of reach due to cost, without realizing how cost-effective it is. 

Finally, there’s always hesitancy when switching to something new. For many individuals, it’s easier to take a wait-and-see approach than it is to be a pace-setter. 

The key to employing technology in the senior care industry is education, awareness, and a focus on safety and well-being for senior populations.

Karina Tama is a contributor for Forbes, Thrive Global and the El Distrito Newspaper. She can be found on Twitter @KarinaTama2.

The post How voice assistants like Alexa can help marketers reach elderly Americans appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


20/20 Vision: Google Expands its Update Communications – Jordan Koene // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview: The number of Google algorithm updates reached a new high in 2019, along with their transparency in communication to keep the industry informed on the most recent changes. Join host Ben and Searchmetrics’ CEO Jordan as they review Google’s communication strategies and share what information they expect Google to provide in future announcements.

Summary:

  • Google leadership kept the industry well informed with thorough algorithm descriptions and impact details.
  • Jordan expects Google to expand its communication channels to Search Console and other programmatic ways to communicate algorithm updates.
  • Although Google has done an excellent job of communicating details, they’re lacking in creating a connection with their audience and providing clear implementation examples for SEOs to model after.

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Ben:                 Welcome to SEO Predictions Week on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro. This week we’re going to publish an episode every day covering our bold SEO predictions for 2020. Before we get started I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. Searchmetrics is an SEO and content-marketing platform that helps enterprise skill businesses monitor their online presence and make data-driven decisions. To support you, our loyal podcast listeners, they are offering a complimentary trial of their services and software. That’s right. You can try the Searchmetrics research cloud suite, and the content experience tool to optimize all of your content risk free, no credit card required, by going to searchmetrics.com/trial. That’s searchmetrics.com/trial.

Ben:                 Okay. Joining us for SEO Predictions Week is Jordan Koene who is the lead SEO strategist and the CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. Today, Jordan and I are going to talk about his third prediction for 2020, which is we’re going to see a continued increase in communication from Google on the changes to their algorithm. Okay, here’s the third installment of SEO Predictions Week with Jordan Koene, lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc. Jordan, happy hump day.

Jordan:             Hey Ben. Yeah, happy hump day to you too. Let’s dive in.

Ben:                 We’re halfway through the week. We’ve got our third prediction come up, and this one isn’t actually what’s going to impact business results. It’s not going to be a refactoring of content, where people are going to see your content, it’s how you’re going to understand what the heck Google is doing.

Jordan:             Yeah.

Ben:                 In 2019, we saw Google do a better job with telling people that changes were coming, trying to describe what they were. With some rare exceptions they still snuck a couple past us, but we think that there’s going to be an increase of communication. Talk to me about why you think Google is taking this step, and what do you think they’re going to do to increase communication with the SEO community.

Jordan:             Full stop, a lot of credit needs to be given to Google here. Danny Sullivan has been doing a great job about sharing insights with the community. I commend and applaud what they’re doing. I believe that the webmaster team and spam teams at Google are trying their hardest to ensure that people understand what’s going on. Right? By being as transparent as they can people can do a better job of applying the guidelines and policies that Google has set forth. What we saw in 2019 is just in many instances a full warning that algorithm changes were coming, clarification in terms what might be impacted or what might change, details in terms of the nature of these changes to the algorithm. Ultimately, I think it’s something that we can expect as long as the team stays in place that is at Google, that we’ll see more of this communication, and we’ll continue to see more transparency.

Jordan:             Ultimately, I hope that that not only transfers in terms of direct communication through mediums like Twitter and other channels, but even more importantly even through search console and more in a programmatic way so that it can reach a much larger audience than just the SEO.

Ben:                 I think you bring an important point here in that Google is not only describing what some of the changes are, right, there are communications in a community outreach aspect which Google is using, not only their blog, but other formats, Twitter, other things, to communicate with the SEO community. There’s an increase in the tool set that they’re creating. Let’s break that up into two. What would like to see in terms of communication from Google this year that they’re not already doing?

Jordan:             There are a few things that I’d like to see in addition to what they’re doing. I personally would like to see a much stronger set of details behind how an algorithm change is going to be connected to certain guidelines and policies that they’ve set forth. Google has done a good job of creating very clear guidelines and policies, but what they often fail to do is connect with you. From time to time it happens. I’m not saying that they never do it, but really connecting things to, “Hey, we’re focused on low quality, bad content.” I think even to some degree they need to be little more open about examples, even if they can white label some of these examples, would really solidify both the rule regulation, the execution of that, the actual implementation of that rule or regulation through this algorithm change, and then the knowledge that they’re providing so that search managers and SEOs can understand how to implement this.

Ben:                 You’re so damn diplomatic. I’d like to see Google just come out and say that, “Hey, we’re making sure that YouTube ranks No. 1 in terms of search because that’s a business decision. We’re prioritizing Google products because we’re trying to monetize revenue for Google, and that’s why we’re making some of these changes.” Guess what? Google is a fricking business.

Jordan:             It is.

Ben:                 It is not a non-profit.

Jordan:             Agreed.

Ben:                 That’s just my little hang up. “Oh, hey, surprise.” All these algorithm changes happen to favoring YouTube. Hmm. I wonder why? On the flip side, Google is also releasing more tools. Last year we saw the site speeds. What was it? Web.dev?

Jordan:             Yeah.

Ben:                 It was Web.dev and an increased tool set for understanding how Google is evaluating site speed. What do you see them potentially launching this year? What would you like to see that they haven’t?

Jordan:             I want to see them maintain a lot of these assets. Right? I’ll often times do Google’s great like most companies at launching something. It’s out there, but then they never iterate on it. They never improve it. They never provide more guidance. I’d love to see them continue to add material and content to Web.dev. There are tons of great manuals, tons of great guidelines on how to make your website faster on there. Secondly, when it comes to search console, I really want to see them expand the data set that’s available in there as well as the frequency at which you can access that data. Those are things that we ingrained in them to do, but they haven’t done it in a long time.

Jordan:             I’m really proud of the improvements that we’ve seen in search console, but there’s so much more data that can be provided there and can help many of the webmasters and SEOs that are trying to make decisions.

Ben:                 I’d like to see them roll back the name. I’d like to see it be called Webmaster Tools again because I just can’t get Webmaster Tools out of my head.

Jordan:             You and me both. I think that might die in the line, but we can always try.

Ben:                 Oh, for sure. Sure, I’d like to kick an old school when it comes to SEO. That said, communication, something that Google, we feel, has done a better job on. We’re optimistic. We feel like they’re going to continue to improve their communication with the SEO community, not only in terms of announcements, and blog posts, and given the community an understanding of what the changes are and how they’re making them, but second that they’re also going to continue to iterate on the tool set that they built in 2019.

Jordan:             I just want to say one last thing, Ben. I just want to give a big shout out again to Danny Sullivan and John Mueller for the excellent work they’ve done this year in supporting the community. I know we said it at the top of the episode, but I think it goes without appreciation as they’ve been some of the two most vocal advocates for the space. I want to show our appreciation so that they continue doing more.

Ben:                 To Johnny and Dan, thanks so much for the work. If you happen to be listening to this, we’d appreciate you communicating with the SEO community, and we hope you guys keep it up. That wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, CEO and lead SEO strategist at Searchmetrics Inc. We’d love to continue this conversation with you, so if you’re interested in the contacting Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is JTKoene, J-T-K-O-E-N-E.

Ben:                 If you have general marketing questions, if you’d like to talk to me about this show, if you’re interested in being a guest on the Voices of Search podcast, you can find my contact information in our show notes. You could send me a tweet @benjshap. We also created a Twitter handle for this podcast, which is @voicesofsearch. 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 your complimentary trial of the Searchmetrics Suite and content experience platform.

Ben:                 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. Check back with us tomorrow when we talk about our fourth prediction for 2020, which is the death of backlinks. All right. That’s it for today. Until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.


Mobile SEO: The ultimate guide

We are addicted to our smartphones. For many people, the smartphone is the first thing they check when they get out of bed in the morning and the last thing they look at before they go to sleep. People use them for everything – it’s become huge! Mobile phones have dramatically changed our lives, the way we use the web and, consequently, it has changed SEO. Mobile SEO helps you to reach customers and satisfy their needs while enjoying the experience. This guide to mobile SEO tells you everything you need to know to deliver the perfect mobile experience.

What is mobile SEO?

Mobile SEO is all about offering an exceptional experience to visitors of your mobile site. It’s about making your mobile site load quickly and without issues, and presenting stellar content that matches the users search intent. In today’s mobile-first world, it’s incredibly important to have flawless mobile site.

Why is mobile SEO so important?

Mobile SEO is crucial because it helps you reach your your customers in the right place at the right time and and give them the very best experience. Mobile traffic has now eclipsed desktop traffic. Every day, more and more people are discovering the enormous advantages of the smartphone. Our whole lives are in these devices – it’s almost scary to see how attached we’ve become to our smartphones. Many people call it an extension of themselves and something they can’t live without. To reach these people you need a mobile SEO strategy.

Mobile does not necessarily mean on-the-go. Studies have found that people often grab the nearest device to look something up quickly and more often than not, that’s their smartphone. They use it to inform themselves about products before making the decision to buy something, any time, any place. According to research by Google, smartphone users have a higher buyer intent than desktop users. They’re focused and ready to buy. It’s your job to be there when they are looking for your products or services.

It is easy to see mobile SEO in terms of solving technical problems or content issues, but it is also very much a user experience and branding thing. Getting a bad experience from a brand on a mobile phone might scare away a potential customer forever. Offering a great experience increases the chance of consumers recommending your brand.

According to Google research, negative mobile experiences can really hurt your brand

Mobile SEO vs. desktop SEO

There’s quite a difference between desktop SEO and mobile SEO, but the goals are often comparable. You want to reach your audience and convert them into paying customers. In some ways, desktop SEO tactics also work for mobile SEO, but in a slightly different form. Three major themes still apply: focus on performance, user experience and content. In desktop SEO you’ll often focus more on the general public, while mobile SEO has more of a local focus.

What is different, though, is the results you get on mobile versus desktop. For the same search query, different results may pop up depending on what device you are using. Plus, there are other factors that influence the mobile search results, like the location you’re at. This means that getting a good ranking for your product or content on desktop doesn’t guarantee the same result on mobile. When evaluating your performance on mobile, alway keep an eye on the mobile search results.

In addition, it is always a good idea to regularly check what Google is doing on mobile, in general, but especially in your niche. Google is continuing its push for so-called rich results — often powered by structured data — and these are more prominent on mobile. Think about it: searching for flights, events, jobs, movies, music, products and even simple facts will trigger a Google-owned rich result. We’re going to see a lot more of this going forward.

Google’s mobile-first index is live

The importance of mobile SEO is made even clearer by Google’s 2016 announcement of the mobile-first index. In July 2019, Google switched to the mobile-first index. What does this mean? For the first time, Google will determine rankings based on the quality of the mobile version of the site instead of the desktop version.

A smartphone version of Googlebot will crawl your mobile site and determine if its performance, content and user experience are up to scratch. If so, you get a better ranking. If it is lacking, other sites will rank higher and you could lose out. Even if you’re not focusing on mobile you will still be judged by your mobile site, so now’s the time to take action.

What’s more, in January 2018, Google announced that page speed will be a ranking factor for mobile searches from July of that same year:

“The “Speed Update” applies the same standard to all pages, regardless of the technology used to build the page. The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

Check Search Console to see what Google used to crawl your pages

Things have changed

Right now, Google uses mobile-first indexing when evaluating new sites. Sites it knows about will still be evaluated on a per-site basis to see if they are fit for inclusion. To get Google to discover and understand it properly you must keep your mobile site crawlable by taking down all possible barriers such as poorly loading scripts and not blocking stuff in your robots.txt. It also has to load lightning fast if you want to be indexed well.

Google’s Gary Illyes wrote a blog post detailing some of the things you should take care of for the mobile-first index. These include offering the same awesome content on both the mobile and desktop site, investing in structured data, offering the correct meta data, checking your hreflang set up and making sure that your servers can handle the increased crawl rate.

You can no longer present less information on your mobile site than on your desktop site. Your content has to be identical on both, because you will only rank based on the information on your mobile page. Don’t hide stuff! Michiel wrote a post about the so-called mobile parity. Or, like former Googler Maile Ohye told us in an interview:

“To “optimize” for the mobile-first index, make sure that what you serve to mobile users is the version of the content you’d want Google to index, not a pared down version, or a version that gets updated later than desktop, or a version that redirects to the mobile homepage.”

Maile Ohye

Don’t forget to tell Google your site is mobile-friendly. You can add a viewport declaration – if you’re using responsive design – or a Vary header when using dynamic serving. More on this later – or in Google’s developer documentation.

Read more: 5 things you need to know about mobile-first indexing »

How to improve mobile SEO

Mobile SEO is – just like regular SEO – all about making sure your site is crawlable and findable. Also, you need stellar performance, great content and a flawless UX. To get it right, you need to know how your site is currently performing and what your visitors are doing right now. For example, will people use the same keywords on mobile to find you? People often change how they search while using a mobile device. And what do you want people to do? Offering to navigate to the nearest Whole Foods is less than ideal when you’re on a desktop machine. It makes total sense on your smartphone, though.

Mobile SEO tools

You need to become best friends with Google Search Console. Its search tools are legendary and a big help if you want to find out how your site is doing in the search results. For instance, by using the Search Analytics feature, you can see how mobile and desktop users use words to find what they need. Are you targeting the right words? Should you focus on something else?

Googlebot needs to be able to crawl your JavaScript, CSS and image files to index it properly. There is a handy tool for this inside Search Console: URL Inspection. This tool lets you see exactly how Googlebot sees and renders your content. When the screen doesn’t align and the tool lists errors, you’ve got work to do.

Search Console lets you check how Google sees your mobile site

Mobile Usability tool

Another Google Search Console feature that makes your life easier is the Mobile Usability tool. This tool checks your site and presents an overview of posts and pages that don’t follow Google’s mobile-friendly rules. This is an excellent way to start improving your mobile SEO.

Other tools

Some other great tools to up your mobile SEO game are Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test, Rich Results Test, Lighthouse, Analytics, SEMrush, Ahrefs, Ryte, ScreamingFrog, and SimilarWeb.

Read more: Google Search Console: Search appearance
Read more: DIY: Test your mobile site

Mobile SEO is designing for performance

The number one thing you should be focusing on when you’re trying to improve mobile SEO is performance. Performance almost entirely boils down to site speed. It’s a no-brainer: the faster your site is, the happier your users will be. It’s well known that a site has to load within a couple of seconds or your visitors will give up and go elsewhere. If you combine this with the fact that sites are only getting bigger, it’s clear you have your work cut out.

Better get to work on that page load time

Optimizing performance, however, is a continuous process. Your site will never be fast enough because there’s always more you can improve – and that’s ok. By keeping a close watch on how your mobile site is performing, you can immediately jump onto every opportunity to improve it. Google loves fast sites, and so do your customers.

Read more: How to improve your mobile site
Read more: Page speed as a ranking factor, what you need to know

Responsive design vs. dynamic serving vs. separate domain

While developing your mobile site, you’ll have three options: responsive design, dynamic serving, or a separate site on a subdomain. Google prefers responsive design because you only have one site that adapts to the device it’s used on. There’s only one code base, so maintenance is easy. According to Google, using responsive design will make your site eligible for addition in the new mobile-first index. Always let Google know that your site is mobile-friendly by adding the meta name=“viewport” declaration in the head of your documents.

<meta name="viewport" content="width=device-width, initial-scale=1.0">

Dynamic serving takes a different approach. It uses server-side technology to serve a different version of your site to mobile users, depending on the way they access your site. The URL stays the same, but the files sent are completely different. You need to add the Vary header to get Google to crawl your site. This way, Google immediately knows that it will receive mobile-optimized files from somewhere else. A Vary header appears like this when a browser makes a request:

Vary: User-Agent

The third option is a separate mobile site on a different URL – usually an m. domain – and with different content. Google supports this method, but only if you make the correct connections between your regular desktop domain and the mobile domain. Use rel="alternate" and rel="canonical" to tell Google how these pages are connected. More on these different types and how Google uses them on this Developers page. Or you can read our rel=”canonical” ultimate guide.

Improve site speed of your mobile site

One of the most importants aspects of mobile SEO is improving site speed. PageSpeed Insights shows you exactly how fast your site loads on both mobile and desktop. It also suggests performance improving enhancements. Use this alongside the Developer Tools in browsers and the Speed Report in Search Console to see how your site is rendering its contents.

The two most important things PageSpeed Insights looks at:

  • FCP (first contentful paint): The first contentful paint happens when the first element of a requested page appears on the screen. This gives users the confirmation that the page is actually loading.
  • FID (first input delay): The first input delay is the time between the first interaction of a user with an element on the requested page and the reaction of the browser to that input. How quickly your page reacts to input is of utmost importance for it to appear fast and responsive.

Type in your URL and Insights will give you two scores: one for mobile and one for desktop. These will be different. If your score is red, you have much work to do. Orange means an average performance and green is good. It’ll give you suggestions on enhancing the performance of your site. Follow these suggestions, and you’ll be on the right track.

I hear you thinking:

“Nobody has a score of 0/100, right?”

Well, think again. A combination of factors can do your mobile site a lot of harm. Find a bad hosting provider, install WordPress on a crappy shared hosting platform, activate thirty plugins and upload a hundred non-optimized images to your blog and you are going to score badly. But these things can easily be fixed. Run PageSpeed Insights and other speed analyses tools and follow their advice.

What can you do to improve your site speed?

When improving your page speed, you should always ask yourself if you need all these assets, libraries, images, plugins, theme features and so on. The famous saying “less is more” is still as valuable as ever.

Read more: Site speed tools and suggestions »

Think about implementing AMP

The Google-led open source project AMP, or Accelerated Mobile Pages, has one goal: loading your pages as fast as possible. It’s been in development for some time now and making great strides. It is, however, a controversial technology, but since Google is pushing this so hard, it will be increasingly hard to do without it.

In the beginning, AMP was used on static posts, like blogs or news articles, that didn’t need interaction from the user. For e-commerce purposes and other dynamic types of pages, AMP fell short – until a year or so, that is. Today, AMP is capable of powering canonical sites, with more to come. Look into what AMP could do for your site and how you might implement it. Not every site needs it, but the ones that do could gain an awful lot from it.

Read more about implementing AMP with WordPress »

Progressive Web Apps (PWA)

PWAs offers another way of targeting mobile users. A progressive web app is an all-in-one solution that works on all devices, for all users. It’s the perfect crossover between the app world and the web world. The web app works like an app, without the need to publish it in an app store. PWAs combine the load speeds of mobile sites with the best functionality of a native app. When done correctly, a good PWA might fool users into thinking they are using a native app. Google has a must-read blog post if you want to know how to create indexable PWAs.

Thanks to technologies like service workers, the browser can do a lot more in the background, while keeping the front end updated in real-time. This makes it a good option if you need an app, but can’t justify the cost. There will be a lot happening with progressive web apps in the next couple of years. Every major browser — both mobile and desktop — now supports service workers, even Apple’s Safari on MacOS and iOS. There are, however, still some kinks to be ironed out before Apple’s implementation is solid.

Focus on user experience

Besides being easily found and lightning fast, your mobile site should offer an enjoyable user experience. Find out which common tasks your customers have on your site. What is their search intent? Try to remove any obstacles and make sure users can achieve their goals quickly. There’s a lot you need to consider when optimizing user experience. Here are a couple of things you need to think about:

  • First and foremost: don’t forget your customer!
  • Make your site mobile site useful and enjoyable
  • Fix your font size: your typography needs to be top notch.
  • Keep enough room between the clickable elements.
  • Make your sub-menu clickable, so users don’t automatically go back to home instead of the submenu.
  • Put your phone number on the homepage and make it clickable. This way, people can call you if they want to do business.
  • Don’t make users pinch and zoom to see – and use – your interface.
  • Make your buttons large enough for fingers.
  • Fix your forms: bad forms are unusable on mobile.
  • Cut the clutter.
  • Test, adjust and test again!

Read more: 10 ways to improve mobile UX »

Optimize for local

While we use our smartphones a lot in our homes, these devices become even more useful when we’re out and about. Google found that 76% of people who searched for something nearby visited a related business within a day. 28% of those visits led to a sale.

To cope with that local demand, or so-called near me searches, you need to work on your local SEO. Local search results can look very different from regular desktop searches, so you have to know what to target and how to target it. Here are some ways you can improve your local SEO for mobile:

Read more: Ultimate guide to small business SEO
Read more: Local ranking factors that help your business’ SEO

Finetune your mobile content

Smartphone screens are small. On that screen, text gets truncated and wrapped in a seemingly never-ending stream of paragraphs. Users have to scroll endlessly. Text on a mobile screen has the potential to give any web designer a headache. But the design – and use – of text is of crucial importance to the success of your site. If your site is unreadable or just plain ugly, people will not read your 1,000-word article. Hell, maybe not even your 100-word summary. Fix your typography.

People read a lot on their smartphones, but you have to make it as easy as possible for them to do so. You also need to make sure that your content is up to scratch.

Read more: Optimize your mobile content

Write for the small screen

Always keep the restrictions of the small screen in mind when creating or editing content. Don’t use too many long sentences, keep your paragraphs to around four sentences and break up text using bullet points, lists and headings. Nothing is more daunting to your visitor than a massive block of unformatted text. Check your content on a smartphone to see how it looks and find ways to improve it.

Read more: Copywriting for mobile

Write better meta descriptions and titles

Google shows less information in the search results on mobile than on a desktop. Your meta descriptions and your titles will be truncated if you make them too long. Think about that when you optimize your posts and pages. You lose several characters when optimizing your meta descriptions and titles for mobile. In Yoast SEO’s snippet editor, you can switch between a mobile and desktop preview. This way, you can compare the differences between the two and find the perfect middle ground.

Read more: The snippet preview in Yoast SEO

Prepare for voice search

When working on your content, you should account for the next big thing: voice search. Yes, it’s been around for a while, but with the advent of Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home assistant, things are moving fast. More and more people are using their voice to perform actions on the web, and your content has to provide the answers. If done correctly, you might kill two birds with one stone: you’ll not only respond to questions mobile users have, but it might also lead to so-called featured snippets or answer boxes on desktop searches. Getting a featured snippet almost guarantees your content to be a top answer for assistants. Curious what’s powering conversational search?

To prepare for voice search, you need to take a good look at your current content. Ask yourself, does it answer any question a user might have? If not, change it. Find out which questions people use to find your content and optimize for that. Use Google’s autofill or tools like Answer the Public to find ideas for questions to answer.

Read more: How to prepare for voice search

Add Schema structured data to a mobile site

Structured data is hot. By adding structured data in the form of Schema.org to your site, you can open a line of communication with search engines. Structured data makes it clear to search engines what all the different elements on your site mean. If done correctly, search engines can use this data to give you highlighted search results, known as rich results or rich snippets. This way, your site immediately stands out from the crowd, which could lead to a higher click-through rate.

Structured data allows for many new ways of presenting search results. The rich results we used to know as rich cards, for instance, uses data you can add to your mobile site. The result is a snippet that is mobile-optimized and very attractive to click. Since Google heavily investing in improving and expanding the types of rich results these might turn out to be your ticket to enhanced visibility. Try to get those featured snippets!

Structured data is one of the most important topics to get your head around. See our structured data course for an easy way to learn how to add structured data to your mobile site.

Yoast SEO takes care of your Schema needs

A mobile how-to rich result

Adding Schema to your site has always been a struggle — but not any more! Yoast SEO is making it easy for you. The popular SEO plugin automatically adds an extensive list of Schema structured data properties to your site. Not only that, Yoast SEO also ties everything together in a neat graph. This graph makes it incredibly easy for a search engine to understand the true meaning of your site. That’s not all, because the free Yoast SEO structured data content blocks turn the WordPress block editor into a helpful tool to craft FAQ pages and how-to articles — with more block types to come. Both of these Schema types have a relatively easy to get rich result on mobile attached to it as well.

Read more: Structured data with Schema.org: the ultimate guide

A mobile SEO guide full of tips

This ultimate guide to mobile SEO gives you a lot of pointers to improve the performance of your mobile site. Mobile SEO should always be a work in progress because there are always new developments, but also technologies arrive and are superseded. The world is always changing, and you need to keep up. If you do, the rewards can be great.

So, what are you waiting for? Get your smartphone, check your site on a mobile browser and find and fix those issues. Use this mobile SEO guide well, because this is an important time! This is the time to take action because if you don’t, you might get left behind.

Keep reading: WordPress SEO: The definitive guide to higher rankings for WordPress sites »

The post Mobile SEO: The ultimate guide appeared first on Yoast.


You Can Win At Google My Business Without Doing Anything On Google My Business

We got the opportunity to expand the organic program we have with a Big Baller Brand ™.

This always makes me giddy, as I think local organic search is one of the places where we excel. Turns out, I was right to think so, because we crushed it.
Local SEO Guide Crushed It.
Like I mentioned, this is all organic search work done on-domain. It includes things like technical optimization and content. We did nothing with GMB in the same timeframe. Which is really interesting because GMB killed it too!

The Local SEO Guide Team Went Murder Town on Local Search.

We track clicks from Google My Business to the website, so we can see increases in Search -> Google My Business -> Website user flows (which are a very valuable and constantly slept on segment). As you can see, without doing anything on Google My Business the traffic rose in relation to organic traffic, even if not immediate. Let this be a lesson for organizations out there that you can kill it at Google My Business by being focused on local organic search first.

Just as an endnote, these screenshots are from a Google Data Studio reporting instance that aggregated dozens of websites into BigQuery to allow us to report on like pages etc across domains as well as aggregate GSC data and all kinds of other fun stuff for this client.


Five simple content marketing trends for 2020

How can you improve your content marketing strategy in 2020? Here are five simple and useful content marketing trends to follow in the new year.

We’ve welcomed 2020 and it’s the perfect time to start thinking of the best way to maintain a successful content marketing strategy over the next 12 months.

New channels, tactics, and trends emerge every day but the challenge is to decide on the ones that you want to include to your own strategy.

There are many posts that focus on the latest big trends and how you could revolutionize your tactics for 2020. We’ve decided to go back to basics to review how simple tactics and trends that can improve your content success.

1. Focus on the experience

It’s not enough to increase the frequency of your blogs to improve your content marketing success. In a digital world full of new content, the challenge is to stand out from your competitors.

A good way to achieve success is to focus on the experience. Your content should be relevant and informative but it should also facilitate the user experience.

Content experience is a growing term that refers to the role that sits between content marketing and UX. It’s about reviewing how you can improve your content, your website and even your strategy to ensure that your readers are spending more time on your posts.

There are many ways to improve your content experience:

  • Test the mobile version of your site
  • Aim for short paragraphs that are easy to read on mobile
  • Enhance the “readability” of your content by allowing your text to “breathe” with images and sub-headings
  • Review your loading speed
  • Aim for personalization

Not all changes require too much of your time. What’s important is to acknowledge how your team, your tools, and your processes can gear up towards improved content experiences in 2020, one step at a time.

2. Include visual data

Visual content can improve the reading experience. It can also help you get the main data to stand out. Infographics, for example, help you summarise your key points in a more visual way. They can even help you enhance the “shareability” of your post.

Visual quotes can also help you get your point across in a way that stands out to the reader. You can also include videos in your content to provide an alternative content format for your story.

Another idea that is very helpful in SaaS marketing is to include GIFs when talking about your product. It’s easier for your readers to understand what you’re referring to.

Using visual data in your content marketing can help you simplify complicated ideas and we’re seeing more brands using videos and GIFs to present their data.

Content marketing trends 2020 using story telling

Visual storytelling is growing stronger and it’s useful to experiment with different formats to find out what works best for your readers.

3. Write long-form content

There is a constant struggle on the internet to grab someone’s attention. Not everyone is spending a lot of time on a page, which pushes us to come up with new ideas of bite-sized content. This is actually a good approach in many ways but we also need to remember that long-form content is not dead.

There are many reasons to create long-form content in 2020:

  • Build trust with your readers
  • Go in-depth in the topics that you’re writing about
  • Showcase your writing style and your personality
  • Improve your SEO

Medium got popular as a platform that focuses on writing rather than distractions. You can find the content of great quality and many writers are not afraid to go in-depth in the topics that they’re covering. The Medium looked at their most successful posts to find out that the ideal blog post on their platform is around 1600 words and it takes seven minutes to read it.

 

Medium's stat showing long-form content length content marketing trends 2020

Moreover, creating long-form content is also helping your search ranking. Long-form content is helping you cover in-detail a topic that you want to serve as the authority.

Not all your posts should be too long. But it’s still a good idea to dedicate some time every month to produce a few pieces of more than 1000 words.

4. Read your content out loud

A simple method to improve your content writing in 2020 is to start reading your content out loud. It’s easy to get lost in your thoughts when writing content. What seems to be making sense to you might not necessarily do so for anyone else.

Everything you are writing should sound natural. Start creating content that feels more conversational to “hack” a more successful writing style.

Once you start applying this idea to your content marketing strategy, you start realizing that online writing should not be hard to understand. The idea is to help your readers enjoy your content in a simple and authentic way.

Reading your content out loud is pushing you to review the way you’re getting your message across. It is a practice that helps you improve your writing along with the reading experience. Next time you’re planning to create content for your customers, read it out loud before you publish it. You might be surprised by the difference it can make.

5. Make your SEO smarter

It’s time to make your search engine optimization smarter for 2020. How about being more strategic with SEO to focus on what matters?

You can start by making small changes that can have a long-term impact:

  • Stop focusing on the most popular keywords and start discovering the long-tail keywords that can help you stand out
  • Spend more time on improving your content rather than making sure that you stuff it with your focus keywords
  • Invest in the tools that can make SEO easier
  • Stop aiming for position one ranking in SERPs and explore the different ways to stand out (for example, visual ranking or featured snippets)
  • Write more conversational content to increase the chances of showing up in the featured snippets and the question boxes

What’s important is to start thinking of SEO as another element of your content marketing strategy that addresses your readers’ needs. It’s not just about ranking at the search results. The end goal should always be to deliver a great experience.

What’s next?

Not every content marketing trend should be groundbreaking. Sometimes even the simplest change can lead to great success.

Look at your existing content marketing strategy and what worked in 2019. Start exploring the areas that you want to improve on and find small wins that you can implement.

Look at these five trends as the starting point to simple changes that you can make to improve the understanding of your audience and their needs.

The post Five simple content marketing trends for 2020 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


20/20 Vision: A Rise in Featured and Vertical Paid Elements – Jordan Koene // Searchmetrics

Episode Overview:  As Google moves to increase zero-click SEO positioning it’s also adding more vertical based paid ad elements, which raises an important question – How will these changes affect brands and advertisers? Join Ben and Searchmetrics’ CEO Jordan as they continue 20/20 Vision Week discussing Google’s focus on increasing featured elements and analyzing how these changes will impact the search ecosystem and competitive landscape.

Summary:

  • As Google tailors its paid and non-paid verticalization experience by establishing its own ecosystem rules and competitive landscape, it potentially exposes the company to more regulation or lawsuits from brands and advertisers.
  • Google’s flight and vehicle finder features will rise in prominence as Google seeks to consolidate resources for consumers, acquiring more search market share on their platform.
  • An ongoing prediction for the decade is that Google will further iterate voice search experience as they continue improving mobile with more featured elements and vertical paid ad elements.

GUESTS & RESOURCES:

Ben:                 Welcome to SEO Predictions 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 covering our bold SEO predictions for 2020.

Ben:                 But before we get started, I want to remind you that this podcast is brought to you by the marketing team at Searchmetrics. Searchmetrics is 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, they are offering a complimentary trial of their services and software. That’s right. You can try the Searchmetrics Research Cloud Suite and the Content Experience Tool to optimize all of your content, risk-free, no credit card required, by going to searchmetrics.com/trial. That’s searchmetrics.com/trial.

Ben:                 Okay. Joining us for SEO Predictions Week is Jordan Koene who is the lead SEO Strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc., and today Jordan and I are going to talk about how there’s going to be an increase in featured elements from Google, and also how more vertical based paid ad elements are going to be included in SERPs.

Ben:                 All right. Here’s the second installment of SEO Predictions Week for 2020 with Jordan Koene, CEO and lead SEO strategist of Searchmetrics Inc.

Ben:                 Jordan…

Jordan:             Hello, Ben.

Ben:                 Welcome back to SEO Predictions Week for 2020. We’re off to a flying start this year. We talked a little bit about position zero, about brand SEO, about where voice search is going to play in 2020.

Ben:                 Now we’re going to talk a little bit more about what’s going to happen on the SERP. Your prediction is that we’re going to see an increase in featured elements and more vertical based paid ad elements.

Ben:                 Talk to me about what you think is going to happen on the SERP this year?

Jordan:             Yeah, this is nicely connected to the first prediction around zero click positions and brand SEO, but more specifically this prediction is about Google becoming more verticalized, and we’ve been seeing this now for about a decade with Google.

Jordan:             It really started with PLA, which made a ton of sense. You know, product listing ads where Google can come in for products in specific product feeds, showcase ads that are very direct to consumers, as well as to the brands who are selling those ads. We’re going to see this more often this year. We’re already starting to see a massive trickle of verticalized experiences.

Jordan:             We’ve seen a massive increase in what we call the hotel finder. So for a lot of hotel based queries, what you see is Google’s own paid ad experience that allows different hotel brands, as well as online travel agencies, to list hotels, and actually bid for placement of different hotel and hotel offerings in the hotel ad finder.

Jordan:             And I expect that we’re going to see this continued verticalization and association, both paid and non-paid, experiences that allow Google to provide consumers with a very direct set of results.

Ben:                 I think there’s a lot of risk here for Google, and I don’t disagree that we’re going to see more paid integration similar to product listing ads. You know, we’re going to see flight booking, right? And you’ll be able to book all these things, hotels, we’re seeing more of this vertical integration, where Google is your travel agent, your product comparison engine.

Jordan:             Yeah.

Ben:                 Right? And I also think that Google is trying to compete more with Amazon and just be a universal search option for products.

Ben:                 On the flip side, I do think that there is some risk here for Google on the legal side. Where, when you start blending the ads and some of the free stuff, the line gets a little gray. There’s risk that Google is not making it clear who is the actual service provider, and I think there’s some legal risk.

Ben:                 Do you think there’s any scenario where Google avoids doing more of these featured elements, specifically the paid ones, to just try to avoid litigation?

Jordan:             Yes. I mean, there have been verticals where Google has tested this, for example, the car marketplace. They’ve already tested this with flights in the past, and it really didn’t work out for them. But essentially, then, the challenge here for consumers and for Google, is that Google is dynamically changing these things. They are not very static when it comes to this.

Jordan:             The flight finder’s a great example. Google made an acquisition almost eight years ago to help them improve their ability to understand different flights and provide feeds for flight search, but they’ve never been able to turn that into a monetizeable experience, and that’s why I combined both the featured elements here with the paid ad components, because I believe as Google tests these things out, they’re going to make a decision whether this is a paid ad experience, non-paid ad experience, maybe a little bit of both, but essentially taking more control of the real estate with an owned asset that is theirs to embed very specific content, that has its own set of rules and requirements to participate in is going to be a more prolific experience and expectations should have as SEOs.

Jordan:             I think that’s where it becomes really tricky for us. How do we manage that and how do we adapt and adjust?

Ben:                 I think this goes back to what we said in our previous episode with our previous prediction, and for anybody that didn’t hear that, it’s that there’s going to be an increase in zero click SEO positioning. There’s going to be more brand SEO.

Ben:                 I think the theme here is that Google is going to try to keep the consumer on Google, right? Whether it is, we’re just going to give you the answer when you search for something, your position zero, when you’re looking for a flight, or when you’re looking to book a car, when you’re looking for a product, we’re going to allow you to purchase it within Google, and whether it’s a paid or a free experience, Google is surfacing more and more content in the search results and adding more utility.

Ben:                 My big concern, and like what I said yesterday, is well what’s the value for people to continue to submit their content to Google if Google is just going to keep them on their properties?

Jordan:             Yeah, I think the big difference between yesterday’s episode and today, is that with the zero click policy you have very little in your control, right? I mean it’s going to be the Google show or the highway, wherein these cases SEOs actually have a ton of control and paid marketers as well. Excuse me.

Jordan:             You are making a conscious decision to participate and engage in these experiences, the same way you would set up your Google My Business to have a local positioning, so that you can be seen in Google maps. The reality here is that you’re making some sort of conscious decision to participate and utilize this resource and although I would say that, yes, Google is trying to keep people on Google in these instances, I believe as Google kind of tweaks the dials here, they’re going to make decisions that push consumers in a direction, right?

Jordan:             Because they know that in these experiences, the answer in and of itself isn’t contained exclusively in the module. They’ve only prioritized the options in a more clear cut way, right? They have data, structured data, or they have feeds that allow them to say, “This is number one, this is number two, this is number three,” but it’s within a Google contained experience, as opposed to the organic results.

Ben:                 Yeah, and I agree with you that in 2020 Google’s going to continue to iterate on the experience. They’re going to try to add more utility into the search.

Ben:                 I have questions about what the impact is going to be for marketers, for SEO, for performance marketers, but I agree that we’ve seen nothing but an indication that the more structured data you could submit to Google, they’re finding ways to present that so they can provide the best possible user experience to their consumers.

Jordan:             And you brought up a point earlier. I do agree that this creates a ton more legal risk for Google, right? Because as they verticalize these things, it creates a unique ecosystem and competitive landscape, that then needs to be either regulated or monitored differently. And so it just exposes Google to more potential regulation or lawsuits from brands and advertisers.

Jordan:             So, I do agree that there’s some risk in this for Google, but at the end of the day, I think Google has to do this to create really good consumer experiences, in particular mobile experiences that allow consumers to find the content they want.

Ben:                 And going back to what we think is our 2020 decade prediction, that voice search is going to continue to be an iterative approach for Google, when they are building mobile experiences and building these, we’re going to have the immediate answer for you, it all feeds into what Google’s going to be doing over the decade. Iterate on voice search.

Jordan:             Yep.

Ben:                 And that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Jordan Koene, lead SEO strategist and CEO of Searchmetrics Inc.

Ben:                 We’d love to continue this conversation with you. So if you’re interested in contacting Jordan, you can find a link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can hit him up on Twitter. His handle is JTKoene, J-T-K-O-E-N-E.

Ben:                 If you have general marketing questions, if you’d like to talk to me about this podcast, or if you would like to be a guest on the Voices of Search podcast, you can find my contact information at BenJShap. We also have a Voices of Search Twitter handle, which is @VoicesofSearch.

Ben:                 If you’re interested in learning 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 your risk-free trial of Searchmetrics’ Suite and Content Experience services.

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, when we discuss our third prediction for 2020, which has to do with Google’s ability to communicate changes on their platform.

Ben:     Lastly, if you’ve enjoyed this podcast and you’re feeling generous, we’d love for you to leave us a review in the iTunes store. Okay? That’s it for today, but until next time, remember, the answers are always in data.