To find a solution, you need to first identify the problem.
In this case, a client at Seer was entering their off-peak season, which began impacting conversion rates in their LinkedIn campaigns. While this can certainly be an expected trend in seasonality, it can also be a great time to test new strategies or hypotheses, rather than just sit back and watch your goals slowly but surely decline in your off-peak season. Therefore, we knew that now was the time to get a little creative.
These two content types look similar in the engine, however, a Lead Gen Forms include a Call-to-Action Button which, when clicked, auto-populates your information based on your LinkedIn profile. Once the Lead Gen Form is submitted, you can directly receive a link or email to the content or offer, without ever having to leave LinkedIn.
But as conversion rates began to slow down, we wanted to take it one step further.
While our campaigns had unique ad copy and landing pages tailored by audience, we were only usingone generic Lead Gen Form for all of our active campaigns:
Sure, the messaging on the generic Lead Gen Formcouldwork for any of our active ads, but we couldn’t help but pose the question:
What would happen if we created unique Lead Gen Forms for all of our ads?
So we did exactly that. And let’s see what happened.
Using unique Lead Gen Forms on LinkedIn resulted in a +31% improvement in overall conversion rate, despite lowering budgets.
Here’s some additional background information to help paint the whole picture:
Timeframe: 12-week test, with a 6 week period before and after Lead Gen Forms were implemented.
Hypothesis: Unique Lead gen Forms that ladder up to the ad copy and landing pages of unique audiences will create a more frictionless user path to their conversion
KPI Measurement: Conversion Rate increases during this client’s off-peak season.
Conversion rates began to decrease on LinkedIn as peak season ended.
Along with a creative refresh, Seer recommended testing unique lead forms on LinkedIn for each specific Whitepaper download to create a tailored user experience.
We hypothesized that if that content on the Lead Gen Form mirrored the content on the ad rather than use the same generic Lead Gen Form for each ad, that would create a better experience for the user, and CVR would increase.
+5.6% stronger CVRof whitepaper-specific forms vs. original generic forms.
+31.4% higher CVRPeriod Over Period, despite a decrease in budget.
Now it’s Your Turn
If you’re advertising on LinkedIn with the goal of driving higher qualified leads, start testing Lead Gen Forms. And if you’re already using Lead Gen Forms, try testing customized ad copy on your form that’s tailored to the copy on your LinkedIn ad.
New to LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms and want to start testing? Check outour blogon getting started with LinkedIn Lead Gen Forms. Or are you brand new to LinkedIn advertising?Reach out– we’re here to help!
Ever since I started college, I knew I wanted to work remotely. I hated the idea of having to work in an office; it felt restricting and, well, boring.
This became especially clear when I started my first job: a cubicle farm position at a failing software company. I was supposed to be a marketing coordinator, but there was never any work to do. I savored the two hours I was alone in the mornings. Sure, I never had to work hard, but being chained to a desk and surrounded by people was hell for an introvert.
Just a year later, I (along with my entire team) were laid off due to a merger. I swore I was never going back to an office job again.
By some stroke of luck, the kind folks at LSG took me in. I knew virtually nothing about SEO, but I had taken a college course on it once and I was pretty good at focusing when I was by myself. And God, I was willing to do anything to work remotely!
This year will mark two years working at Local SEO Guide. Although it’s not what I had originally intended to do, I can’t tell you how happy I feel that this is the way things turned out. My remote job in SEO is freeing and fulfilling. I don’t feel trapped anymore, and it lets me be part of a team without having to drive to work or sacrifice my introverted nature. The job definitely came with its share of surprises, and I wanted to share some things I wish I had known at the beginning.
Leave Your Degree at the Door
All of my coworkers come from vastly different backgrounds. We have an ex-political scientist, a phone sales guy, a bridal shop co-owner, a bicycle mechanic, a landscaper, and a retail employee in our ranks. Very few of my coworkers had a background in SEO before joining us, and even fewer of us originally aspired to become SEOs. But here we are, working with Fortune 500’s and helping huge companies get even huger. Our pasts don’t matter; only the results that we’re able to bring.
Even if you think you know SEO, every company does it differently. What one company says is right is going to be completely backwards to another. In a sense, this makes learning SEO easier for someone who originally knows nothing; they aren’t going to be stuck in their old ways.
Obviously, going to college for SOMETHING helps, but it’s not always necessary. Your attitude and ability to stick to your word is far more important. As a result, SEO can be a great job for people going through a major career change.
Of course, this is completely dependent on the company. There are, I’m sure, plenty of companies that require all of their employees to come from marketing backgrounds!
SEO Isn’t Cool (And That’s Okay)
No one is going to know what SEO is when you tell them what you do. Your friends are not going to think it’s cool.
For the sake of not making us all look stupid, please don’t call yourself a ninja, or a guru, or whatever other stupid title you think is going to make your job sound more interesting than it is. You are not in a band. You are not the owner of a store that sells tiny hats for dogs. You are a person that helps people’s websites “go up on Google”. And that is nothing to be ashamed of!
I feel like American culture bases our identities too much on what we do to make a living. When you meet someone at a party, one of the first things they’re going to ask to get to know you is, “What do you do?”. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want people to think of me as “an SEO”. I want them to think of me as someone fun to be around, that enjoys learning 3D modeling and watching true crime documentaries.
Of course I could’ve pursued a cool job in 3D modeling if I’d worked for it, but honestly? I don’t want to. If you work doing what you love, what you love becomes work. And I like my hobbies.
Forget the 9-5
This is completely dependent on the company, but at my job it doesn’t necessarily matter how long you work. What matters is that you got the job(s) done like you said you would. Accountability and the ability to be someone that the team can rely on is crucial in a work from home job, especially in a work from home agency job.
If you come from a cubicle farm job (like I did) or a retail environment (like one of my coworkers did), this can be a very bizarre change. In an ultra-corporate or hourly environment, you’re expected to “serve your time”. This is also known as the “if you’ve got time to lean, you’ve got time to clean” mentality or the “time-based” work style. It doesn’t matter what you get done, because you’re just gonna have to keep going. My job in SEO isn’t like that–it’s “task based”. If I get my work done early, I can go do whatever I want. I’m still expected to be available, but I’m not expected to engage in “busywork”.
Personally, I absolutely adore this work style. I feel like it encourages hard work and finding shortcuts and ways to do things faster. Ever heard the quote “Always choose a lazy man to do a hard job, because a lazy man will find an easy way to do it”? It’s true. And the same lazy person will sit for eight hours at an eight hour job because they’re rewarded for serving their time, not working hard.
Of course, a task-based work style can have its disadvantages. It can be hard to break the habit of striving for eight hours of work, and it’s surprisingly easy to miss deadlines when you work this way. Missing deadlines is a huge no-no at an agency job, so working in a time-based style can ironically result in having to work longer hours to make up for it. (Personally, I think more companies should switch to the task-based style!)
Time Management is #1
What you know about SEO doesn’t matter if you have poor time management skills. I firmly believe that time management is the number one skill for succeeding in a remote and/or task-based environment.
At a remote job, especially, no one is there watching over your shoulder to make sure you get your work done. Sure, this is a blessing–no one likes to be micromanaged–but it also means you have to kick your own ass if you procrastinate for too long. It’s a double-edged sword. This makes it a great job for people with self-motivated, goal-driven personalities, but a poor fit for people who tend to be easily distracted and disorganized.
If you’re considering a job in SEO (or working remotely in general) I hope you found this article helpful. I know a new job can cause a lot of anxiety, especially when you’re entering a new type of work or have never worked remotely before.
SEO and working remotely aren’t for everyone; it takes a lot of self-discipline to be able to do successfully. But for the people that are built for it, it’s a pretty awesome job.
In the past 12 months, we’ve published 79 pieces of “SEO content” on the Ahrefs Blog. 96% of them rank in Google and get organic traffic month after month.
One post even ranks for 10,000 keywords and gets over 57,000 monthly organic visits:
How did we do this? By taking an SEO-driven approach to our content.
In this guide, we’ll run through the 8‑step process we use to write content that ranks.
But first, the basics…
What is SEO content?
SEO content is, quite simply, content that’s designed to rank in search engines like Google.
You might think that all content is SEO content, but that’s not the case. For example, we have a lot of studies on our blog, and most of them get little or no organic traffic.
Does this mean those posts failed?
Not at all. We published these posts to bring new insights to the SEO community—not to rank in Google.
It’s also important to note that any kind of content can be “SEO content”: product pages, landing pages, interactive tools, and even videos. But when most people talk about “SEO content,” they’re talking about blog posts.
For that reason, that’s what we’ll focus on in this guide.
But before we talk about how to write posts that rank, let’s make sure we understand why this type of SEO content matters.
Why is SEO content important?
No matter what your business does, you can only get so much organic traffic to your “money pages.”
For example, we have five landing pages—one for each of our main SEO tools:
In total, these pages get around 25,000 monthly visits from organic search, and we rank in the top five for all of our main keywords:
But, these pages account for less than 4% of search traffic to our site:
We currently get an estimated 669,000 monthly organic visits to our website, of which traffic to our landing pages accounts for just ~4%.
How? Because we’ve also written hundreds of pieces of SEO content for our blog.
In total, these posts get over 300,000 monthly visits from organic search alone:
If we didn’t do this, we’d be leaving a lot of money on the table because potential customers aren’t always searching for our products directly.
Many are just looking for a solution to a problem that our tools happen to solve.
For example, we have a competitive research tool called Site Explorer. One of the things it does is show who’s linking to any website or web page.
But, potential customers might not know we offer this product and instead search for something like “who links to my website.”
Let’s go through each of those steps in more detail.
1. Find a proven topic
Before you even think about putting pen to paper, you need to find a relevant topic with “traffic potential.”
To do this, think about broad topics that your potential customers might be searching for.
If you sell baking supplies online, then this might be recipes for baked goods, cookware reviews, or other things related to baking.
From there, search for those broad topics in Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer, and then check the “Phrase match” report to see keyword ideas:
Because this gives us a lot of keyword ideas (almost seven million in this case!), let’s filter out super-competitive competitive keywords and those with little or no search volume.
Right away, we see some good topic ideas like banana bread recipe, apple pie recipe, and pizza dough recipe, each with tons of monthly searches.
But here’s the thing with search volume: it can be misleading.
For example, take a look at the search volumes for these two keywords:
Because “butter cake recipe” has almost five times more searches than “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe,” you’d expect this topic to have the most traffic potential.
However, if we look at the top-ranking page, we see that it gets an estimated 2,383 US visits a month from organic search….
… whereas the top-ranking page for “chocolate chip cookie cake recipe” gets more:
This happens because the top-ranking page ranks for—and gets traffic from—more queries.
So, before you settle on a topic, always look at the estimated traffic to the top-ranking page to get a better sense of true traffic potential.
2. Analyze search intent
Search engines like Google have invested billions of dollars into understanding the true intent behind searches.
This is how they’re able to return relevant results—even for vague queries.
Google knows I’m looking for a recipe, despite not specifying that in the query itself.
If you’re writing SEO content, this is important, because if it doesn’t align with search intent, your chances of ranking are slim to none.
But, how can you figure out search intent?
The answer is to take clues from the top-ranking results by analyzing what we call the three C’s of search intent.
Are the top-ranking pages blog posts, product pages, category pages, landing pages, or something else?
If they’re not mostly blog posts, then go back to step one and choose a different topic.
What type of posts rank? Are they how-to’s, list-style posts, opinion pieces, news articles, something else?
For “best baking pans,” they’re all lists:
Look at the page titles to understand more about the type of person searching for this. Are they a beginner or an expert? What do they value? Are they looking for a quick solution or something more in-depth?
For example, many of the pages ranking for “french bread recipe” pitch how easy the recipe is:
For flat dough bread recipe, speed seems to be what appeals to searchers:
The average top-ranking page ranks for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords in the top 10.
For that reason, it pays to know which other keywords the top-ranking pages also rank for when creating your outline—so you can rank for them too.
How can you find them?
Paste the URL of the top-ranking page into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, then go to the Organic keywords report. To weed out irrelevant keywords, filter for keywords where the page ranks in position ten or higher.
You’ll probably notice that many of these are synonyms or less popular ways to search for much the same thing, but some should give you insight into what searchers want to see from this page.
For example, we see that the top-ranking page for “flatbread dough recipe” also ranks for things like “no yeast flatbread,” “quick flatbread pizza recipe,” “homemade flatbread”:
Note that you shouldn’t stuff these words and phrases into your post, but instead use them to iron out the angle of your content and create a rough outline.
For example, if we were writing a flatbread dough recipe, we’d probably want to mention speed in the intro, and we might want to have separate sections on making the flatbread with and without yeast.
If you don’t use Ahrefs, then you can do the same thing by looking at the top-ranking pages and using some common sense.
4. Write a draft
Good news: It’s finally time to put pen to paper and draft your post.
Because this doesn’t have much to do with SEO, we won’t dwell on this process too much. Just remember that the aim here isn’t to write a perfect draft right off the bat, but rather to turn your thoughts into something tangible to work with.
Here are a couple of tips for doing this as quickly as possible:
Write as you speak
Most of the best blog posts are written in an informal, conversational tone, so there’s no need to agonize over every word. Just write as you speak.
Don’t worry if it sounds silly; you can correct this in the next step.
Use the Pomodoro technique
The Pomodoro technique is simple: you set a 25-minute timer, and a goal you want to achieve in that time.
For drafting blog posts, a good goal is a certain number of words.
Most people type at around 40 words per minute, so that’s 1,000 words in 25 minutes. However, drafting a blog post is more mentally taxing than just typing, so let’s assume 30–40% efficiency, or 300–400 words every 25 minutes.
Take a short break after 25 minutes, then repeat.
Continue this process until you have a complete draft.
Test your typing speed here. That way, you can set a more custom goal.
5. Edit your draft
Pulling readers into the flow of your content is important if you want them to stick around—which you do.
Not only is this good for conversions (which is ultimately the point of ranking), but it also has a positive impact on user engagement metrics like time on page, dwell time, and bounce rate, which some SEOs believe may indirectly influence rankings.
Here are three things to focus on:
Correct spelling and grammatical errors
Most word processors and writing apps have spell check built-in, so you don’t have to be a genius to get things right. Just right-click and choose the right spelling.
For grammar, run your draft through a tool called Grammarly. This will tell you about misplaced commas and sentences that don’t make sense.
Make sure it flows
If your content sounds unnatural or robotic, now is the time to rephrase.
Solve this by running your draft through Hemingway.
This is a free browser-based tool that helps you simplify your content using more straightforward sentences, paragraphs, and words.
Sure, it’s soul-crushing to hear that your content isn’t quite up to scratch. But the truth is that the opinion of others can help improve things exponentially.
Send your draft to a friend, tell them to be honest, iron out any creases.
6. Make your content visually appealing
Nobody likes reading a wall of text. If you’ve written more than a few sentences, then you should work to break up the copy.
The most obvious way to do this is with images.
They don’t have to be anything special. You’ll notice that a lot of our posts on the Ahrefs Blog include annotated screenshots like this one:
A screenshot from one of our blog posts.
Not only does this make things easier to skim, but it also helps to demonstrate what we’re trying to explain.
You can also use videos to do this:
A video embedded in one of our blog posts.
Many studies show that visuals help people understand and comprehend content, so including useful images and videos can improve user satisfaction—which we know is important to Google.
Including images and videos can also help your content rank in Google’s image and video tabs.
Don’t overlook this. We’ve had over 5,500 visits from Google Images in the past three months…
… and 32,000 from video results:
But images and videos don’t always make sense. So another thing you can do is break lengthy chunks of text into subsections using H2-H6 headers.
7. Write a compelling meta title and description
Search engines see more than just the text on the page. They look at metadata in the page’s code to learn more about your content.
The two more important pieces of metadata are your meta title and description. Both of these show up in Google’s search results, and they’re effectively your sales pitch to searchers. Use them to explain why they should click and read your post.
Google sometimes rewrites these two things, so what you set isn’t always what shows up in the SERP. But it’s still best to set them.
This is another place it’s useful to match search intent.
Whatever searchers value, pitch it in your title tag. Just make sure it’s still an accurate description of your content. Do the same with your meta description.
This will entice more clicks on your page in the search results, which leads to more traffic.
Some SEOs believe that clickthrough rate also impacts rankings, but Google says this isn’t the case because the metric is too noisy.
Either way. SEO is not just about rankings, but also getting clicks from searchers.
8. Upload your post
Nothing to do with SEO, but here’s a tip to save you some serious time if you use WordPress: Write your content in Google Docs and upload it with Wordable.
It takes just one click to send your content—complete with images—to WordPress. It’s ready for publishing in seconds.
This is what we use to upload every post to the Ahrefs Blog.
Is “content” enough to rank?
Google tells us that the two most important ranking factors are content and links.
Having unique data means people have to cite you as the source when quoting that data.
This is why our studies usually get tons of links:
3. Make it as accessible as possible
People aren’t going to link to something they find confusing or difficult to read. (This is another reason why step #6 is so important).
Following a proven SEO framework to write content makes sense, and it certainly improves your chances of ranking. But it’s important to remember that things don’t always work out, even if you do everything “right.”
The start of international expansion is an incredible milestone for any business, and gearing up to take your venture around the world will be one of the most exciting moments of your career. But just because your business is thriving at home doesn’t mean that it will be a success abroad. To achieve that, you’ll need to give attention to your international SEO strategy.
Achieving online visibility on an international scale can be tricky, particularly when you factor in differences in language, culture, and search habits. It’s not a cookie-cutter approach where one size fits all across all regions. However, you’ll be more than ready to tackle the challenges of international SEO once you’ve followed these six must-know tips, and should soon see your business soaring in search rankings across the globe.
1. Pick an effective domain strategy
A .com TLD is usually considered the cream of the crop when it comes to domains and the authority afforded to them by search engines. But this can be far too generic to attract international customers. Instead, your domain should clearly target your country of choice and show users around the world that your website is catered specifically to them.
A ccTLD, for example, cocacola.fr, is often popular because the country code immediately shows users and search engines what the target country is. However, if you have multiple localized versions of the website across a number of ccTLDs, search engines will treat these as separate entities, meaning each domain will need to build up backlinks and authority from scratch.
A subdirectory, like, nike.com/fr maintains all your pre-existing SEO efforts as you’re simply adding a localized folder to your current domain. However, this risks causing internal cannibalization if different international landing pages are optimized for the same keywords, such as a US subfolder and an Australian subfolder where the language is largely the same.
A subdomain (such as fr.airbnb.com) is often the default for CMS tools, but users are less likely to associate your site with their country as the country code comes first rather than last, meaning click-through-rates could take a hit.
All domain strategies have pros and cons, so it’s important to ascertain how each option would work for your business specifically. Matthew Finn, one of the SEO specialists at Go Up, highlights several points that could determine your international domain strategy decision. Budget obviously comes into play – ccTLDs can be particularly expensive – and your branding could be a factor too.
As they explain: “If your company has a logo which features your domain, or brand guidelines which stipulate talking about your business as YourBrand.com, then a ccTLD wouldn’t work.” You also need to consider possible limitations of your CMS and current domain. For instance, subdirectories and subdomains only work with an existing generic top-level domain like .com.
Look at the domain structures of competitors in your new target countries to see what Google favors. You might decide to use a combination of all three strategies to target different markets.
2. Conduct localized keyword research
You may feel like you have a good understanding of your current audience’s search habits, but these keywords may not be popular across the board. Conducting localized keyword research will help you judge the online queries likely to serve you best in each country.
This isn’t so difficult when you’re targeting other English speakers, though you still have to take slang and regional variations into account. For example, if you’re a shoe business going after an Australian audience, you would probably be better off targeting “thong” rather than “flip flop” keywords. This is especially relevant to voice search.
Of course, things become more complicated when dealing with entirely different languages. You may not understand the words themselves and also need to consider how cultural context can impact intent. Findings from Webcertain showed significant differences between the search habits of US and Chinese users. Roughly 60% of US searches about chairs related to style and shape, yet only 20% of Chinese searches had the same intent. In fact, 5% more Chinese searches were action-based – what to do with the chair. Culture can hugely influence how people formulate their online queries and you can’t ignore this factor when choosing location-specific keywords.
3. Don’t assume one language means one culture
One size does not fit all when it comes to international expansion, especially considering the diversity of languages. There are many differences in Standard Portuguese and Brazilian Portuguese, while there are plenty of Spanish variations spoken across North America, South America, and the Caribbean, let alone the many regional dialects in Spain itself. You may think that translating your website into a “standard” language will enable you to connect with all relevant markets, but you risk alienating millions of potential customers if you don’t tailor your content to each target location.
First of all, remember that idioms or colloquialisms may make sense in one place but not in another, even if the same language is spoken. If an Ireland-based furniture business used the word “press”, it’s highly unlikely any English-speakers outside the country would realize this referred to a kitchen cupboard. Similarly, some words, images, and practices are accepted in one place but offensive in another. Though Arabic is the official language of both Morocco and Saudi Arabia, references to alcohol would only be permissible when targeting the former as drinking is forbidden in Saudi Arabia. You also need to use the correct measurements, currencies, and other details, which may vary from country to country regardless of language. French-speaking Canadians would be puzzled to see prices in euros rather than Canadian Dollars.
Errors like this could deter users and damage a business’s trust, authority, and click-through-rate. Therefore, it would be a huge mistake to focus on accurate translations without considering the unique historical and cultural factors making every place unique. Consulting people familiar with the nuances of each target location will ensure your content is suitable for all the potential customers living there.
4. Think beyond Google
Google is normally the holy grail when it comes to all SEO efforts, but there may be other search engines to prioritize during international expansion. The majority of users in China and Russia, two of the largest markets in the world, direct the majority of their online queries to entirely different platforms, so focusing on Google alone could be detrimental to your visibility and profits.
In Russia, the leading search engine is Yandex which holds 56% of the market share. This success has been put down to the search engine’s deeper understanding of Slavic languages. Meanwhile, Google has been blocked in China under the country’s Internet censorship policy. Most Chinese users conduct their online searches through Baidu, which held between 60 to 77% of the search engine market share in China during 2019.
You can’t afford to ignore alternative search engines when targeting markets like these, and it’s also important to recognize each has its own unique algorithms. There will be some similarities—for example, Google, Yandex and Baidu all reward quality content – but you’ll need to be aware of the differences. Indexing can be very slow for both Yandex and Baidu which means it will take longer to see the benefits of your efforts, so long-term results should be the priority. Paid search is crucial to Baidu, as paid results are given much greater precedence than organic results. Meanwhile, Yandex still values meta keywords – a metric that Google removed from its ranking algorithm some time ago.
5. Implement hreflang tags
Hreflang tags signpost which languages and locations your pages are aimed at, helping Google to understand which version of a page is most appropriate for its users. For example, if someone in Paris typed in a search term relevant to your product page, the hreflang tag signals to Google that the French version of the page should appear in search results.
To target users as accurately as possible, you should include hreflang tags for both language and region. For instance, an ‘en’ tag shows Google that your page is for all English speakers, but you could also add tags to emphasize the specific geographic locations you’re targeting, en-ca for English speakers in Canada and en-us for English speakers in the US. It’s crucial you use the correct codes—for instance, the UK is ‘gb’ rather than ‘uk’—and a hreflang tag generator like Aleda Solis’ SEO tools recommended by Moz that could help minimize mistakes.
6. Start localized link building
Just as with any domestic SEO strategy, links are essential in building the authority of your website within a target locale. To elevate your brand in local search, it’s vital to source links from local platforms within your industry. The more hyperlocal, the better. For example, if you’re opening a new hotel in Berlin, links from travel platforms in the German capital will be more valuable than those in Munich or Hamburg.
Seek out journalistic opportunities and serve as a source of expertise, guest post on influential sites within a region, and use social channels to build connections with local influencers and businesses. It’s also recommended that you use a translator or someone accustomed to the language and customs of a target region to handle the outreach. The more you extend your brand in a target market, the more you will be rewarded with high authority backlinks.
Edward Coram James is an SEO professional and the Chief Executive of Go Up Ltd, an international agency dedicated to helping its clients navigate the complexities of global SEO and the technical aspects of delivering location-specific pages to targeted audiences.
Yoast SEO 13.1 and WooCommerce SEO 12.6 are out today! In these two updated SEO plugins, you’ll find several fixes and enhancements, mostly focused at improving our Schema.org structured data implementation. In this post, you can learn more about the latest versions of Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO.
Yoast SEO 13.1
Back in Yoast SEO 11.0, we launched an innovative and expansive Schema.org implementation for Yoast SEO. For the first time ever, we can build a complete graph for a site and present it to a search engine on a silver platter. In subsequent releases, we fine-tuned the structured data implementation and we are continuously making improvements. You can find more technical detail on our implementation on Schema.org markup documentation.
In Yoast SEO 13.1, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and added a couple of enhancements in our Schema.org implementation. For one, we now set the Schema HowTo name and Article headline to the post title with a fallback to “No title”. In addition, we’ve added the inLanguage property to the Schema CreativeWork pieces. We try to determine the language of a specific piece of content in various ways, including the WordPress site language settings. This paves the way to handle a form of internationalization using Schema.org structured data.
WooCommerce SEO 12.6
Today, we’re also releasing WooCommerce SEO 12.6. This time, we’ve fixed a number of bugs and enhanced the Schema.org implementation. In WooCommerce SEO 12.5, we added the possibility to add a product identifier to your product, which makes it possible to output that number in the product Schema.org. In the 12.6 release, we’ve added some explanatory copy above the input fields for GTIN, ISBN et cetera to make this feature a little clearer.
At the end of this week, we’ll be raising the price of the Yoast WooCommerce SEO plugin. Are you serious about selling online? Get it today for only $49! That’ll save you some serious $$$. Don’t miss this chance…
Another enhancement to the structured data powers is the possibility to choose if you want to display the price in Schema.org structured data and OpenGraph with tax included. Simply check the box for the setting and you’re good to go.
For bug fixes, we fixed a bug where the internal linking and additional keyphrase functionality went missing from the product edit page. Also, we fixed a bug where the meta description and Twitter and Facebook description could still contain HTML tags and redundant spaces.
Update your plugins
That’s it for today’s releases! We’ve enhanced both Yoast SEO and WooCommerce SEO, while also fixing a number of bugs. Please review the changes and update the plugins at your convenience. Thanks for using Yoast SEO!
Not to brag or anything, but I have always been a fairly early-adopter of automation tools over the course of my decade-long career. That’s why I’ve always been somewhat disappointed when they turn out to be lackluster and harm my campaign performance! I still vividly remember using early bidding algorithms (around late-2013) introduced by a previous third party management tool, only to have them tank volume and triple CPA.
Fortunately, “fool me once…” mentality has never been part of my personality. Especially in this industry, anything that was once terrible will, inevitably, eventually become good. The algorithms that Google has developed over the years are one of those things, so I’ve always been pleasantly surprised by how good Smart Display has performed for my clients where I’ve deployed it.
So, as you’re thinking about your 2020 project plans, read on to learn about what Smart Display is, how it works, and what kind of performance we’ve seen across Seer’s portfolio in 2019.
Smart Display History
Smart Display campaigns were first introduced as a beta in 2016, then later officially released to the general public in mid-2017.
I launched Smart Display for one of my biggest clients shortly after the official release, in August 2017. Even in this early phase, it worked well, bringing in significant conversion volume at a CPA comparable to our best-performing search campaigns – not bad for a Display campaign. It performed so well, that what started as a 1-2 month test, was extended to the end of that year, and then made a permanent part of our marketing strategy ever since.
What We Know About How It Works
The concept is simple: you don’t set any targeting options yourself at all, just let Google’s algorithms do their thing, give it a few creative elements to work with, then sit back, and let the conversions roll in.
At its core, it’s powered by three Google technologies: automated targeting, automated ad iteration, and automated bidding. Each of these is a venerable vantablack box on their own, but the main behavior here is that these robots will work together to identify users who are highly likely to convert on your website, what messaging will get them to convert, and how high to bid to make the conversion happen.
You can check out this Google post if you want to learn way more about how Smart Display works and how to use it. But let’s take a look at Smart Display in the hands of Seer, across all the client accounts in our MCC.
Results Speak for Themselves
Overall, Smart Display represents only 17% of Display spending across Seer’s entire MCC, which directly translates to only 17% of display Impressions as well. The bigger takeaway here is that this 17% of spend represents a whopping 41% of total Display conversions across our client accounts! It’s impressive that a campaign type comprising less than 20% of our total spend commands nearly half of all conversions. But how do the important metrics look?
On average, the Smart campaigns have generated a 0.49% CTR compared to Traditional Display’s 0.31% — a 61% improvement in favor of Smart display. And it’s done this at a 39% lower average CPC. The truly amazing stat here is in Conversion Rate, where Smart Display campaigns have averaged a 110% improvement over Traditional Display.
Such improvements in performance are thanks entirely to the three machine learning algorithms mentioned at the top of the post. Google is using its knowledge of the client website and each user to find the right user, at the right time, to serve the right combination of creative elements, to bring them to the site at the right time that will be more likely to lead to a conversion.
As well as Smart Display has performed for Seer clients on the whole, it’s by no means perfect. As my colleague has indicated in his past blog post, some of the inventory on the Google Display Network can be attributed to low-quality placements that APPEAR to perform well. From our analysis, the quality of sites between Smart Display and Traditional Display are fairly equal; but it’s important to stay on top of your Smart Display campaigns, just like any other display campaign, and audit your placements consistently.
Go. Test. Be Smart.
Overall, Smart Display has been a great addition to our PPC marketing toolbox. Even with the issue of GDN placement quality, it’s become an easy-to-implement and effective method for conversion-focused advertising on the Display Network. And given the strides Google has made in machine learning, smart algorithms, I would expect performance to continue improving in 2020 and beyond.
But what do you think? What’s been your experience with Smart Display? Let us know!
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Want to go to marketing conferences, but not sure how to choose, how to prep, and what to do when you get there? We have covered five key questions you may have about marketing conferences in this week’s chat, and we were lucky to have three very special guests to answer them, as well as our insightful community.
The list of settings, adjustments, and targeting levers in any given digital marketing platform (search, social, display, etc.) is seemingly endless. Because of this, it is too easy for human digital marketing practitioners to make mistakes – our brains are just not optimized to keep track of it all. Thus, it is crucial that you have a standardized quality assurance (QA) process in place in order to avoid a costly mistake. This article will walk you through some high level steps to implement an effective QA process for your digital marketing initiatives.
Why use a quality assurance process?
Humans make mistakes. If not identified and corrected, they can have costly ramifications to your business and career. Consequences may include:
Targeting the wrong audience
Difficult conversations with your client and boss
Ultimately, a solid QA process helps ensure that you provide quality work as well as build trust with clients and peers.
Campaign / Initiative Briefs
When starting a new digital marketing campaign, it is important to ensure that all parties are on the same page. A brief should contain all pertinent information about a new campaign launch or change order. We recommend including the following:
Platforms it will run on
Even the best QA processes can let mistakes fall through, so it helps to incorporate machines and automation. Here at Seer, we have developed custom tools for most digital marketing channels that check intended campaign settings against the actual campaign settings. Not only are these tools 100% accurate (granted that the intended campaign settings cells were filled out correctly), but they can also QA dozens of campaigns in just minutes.
(Seer Automated QA tool screenshot)
💡 Pro tip: if using Google Ads, try using various scripts to automate the QA process. Some of our favorites include:
Despite the accuracy and efficiency of automated tools, we found that there were many settings and outside processes that could not be checked with our QA tools. For this, we recommend creating a standardized checklist that corresponds to these missing items. At Seer, we require two manual reviewers to sign off before a campaign can be launched. One of these reviewers must be the relevant account manager because he or she has the deepest knowledge of the client and the intention of the new campaign.
If the overall process is starting to seem complicated, that’s because digital marketing campaigns are complicated. To help with this, we created checklists that break down the process into different stages so that employees could easily follow along.
💡 Pro tip: After you launch your campaign, don’t just set it and forget it! We recommend using a post launch checklist to ensure that your ads are serving correctly.
Instituting a comprehensive QA process throughout an organization can be difficult, especially if your team is entrenched in their ways. To overcome this, we recommend soliciting feedback from your entire digital marketing division when creating a new standardized QA process. This helps your team feel as though they have some ownership and input into the process.
Additionally, hold multiple training sessions to help educate everyone on your team on the new process. At Seer, we made it a requirement for all team members to follow the new process and even involved team leads/supervisors in order to hold them accountable.
Work toward a standardized QA process in your digital marketing division
Humans are going to make mistakes and this is ok. It’s how we learn. Strengthening and standardizing your QA process will build a safety net to catch these mistakes before they start impacting real marketing spend. And do not ‘set and forget’ your QA procedures. This should be a constantly evolving process, even once you have the final version in place. Settings come and go from digital marketing platforms so you need to adapt accordingly.
Have questions? Reach out! In the meantime, be sure to sign up for our newsletter below.
Google hasn’t been merely a search engine for some time. These days it has grown into a massive space on the web where businesses and potential customers can meet. In this article, we’ll touch on the aspects of using Google for branding.
Here’s a list of Google’s underused services, and suggested ways you can use them to your advantage.
Analytical tools which help you understand your website and app audience
Google Marketing Platform is a kind of umbrella brand that Google has developed to make its products work together more effectively. It is essentially a merger of Google Analytics 360 and DoubleClick Digital Marketing.
Google Analytics is a part of the Google Marketing Platform which tracks website traffic and reports information about who is searching for what and where. There are many analytics services available, but Google’s is the most widely used in the world. It can track visitors to your website, and tell you quite a lot about them and how they interact with your site.
When someone visits your site, Google Analytics can keep track of the duration of the visit, the number of pages they viewed, how they got there, and even the bounce rate. It does all this anonymously, of course, you can distinguish between unique users, but you will not have any idea who any particular user is.
Analytics for Mobile Apps is like Google Analytics, the only difference is, it tracks and gathers data for users of any iOS or Android apps you may have. It was designed to give app developers better data on how people use their apps, what people want from them, and how the apps could be making you more money.
Analytics for Mobile apps allows you to keep records of
What actions your users take
Track their in-app spending (and your revenue for that customer)
Check the navigation path they take
Use that data in conjunction with Google Analytics data to really understand the way your customers (or potential customers) approach your brand
Services that you can use to improve brand visibility in searches
Google My Business is a service that lets business owners verify the data Google holds about them. Google generates its own internal business listings for areas literally all over the world, getting its data from a range of online and offline sources. As the process is mostly automated and done without the human verification, errors sometimes occur.
Google My Business allows business owners to ensure that Google has accurate information about them, after claiming the existing listing business can make all the necessary corrections. Besides, if the company is for some reason still off Google’s radar, by creating a Google listing they can let Google know about them.
Thanks to Google My Business, companies can be certain that their customers will find up-to-date information about their business, and their chances of getting featured in the local pack increase as well.
Google Maps is more than just a navigation tool, as well. Google suggests businesses and events in the areas where people are searching for directions and encourages people to search for services (“Show me restaurants near 35th and Maple”) relevant to the way people use Maps.
Some businesses now try to outsmart Google Maps by adding fake business listings to Google Maps, and so, such fake results sometimes crowd out the real ones. Not let this happen Google is now putting effort into verifying the results it displays in Maps and elsewhere – more on that below.
Cloud-solutions for creating and customizing domains as well as store server
G Suite is a set of software products developed by Google Cloud. It was initially called Google Apps for Your Domain. The current lineup of tools and services includes collaboration tools like Sites, Forms, Slides, Sheets and Docs, cloud storage solutions like Drive, and communication tools like Currents, Calendar, Hangouts, and Gmail. Premium versions of the service often include Jamboard (an interactive whiteboard app) as well as Vault and an Admin Panel to help you manage both users and features.
Google Cloud Platform is a suite of software services offering cloud-based access to the same global data infrastructure that it uses to deliver Google Search and YouTube. It essentially combines all of Google’s “infrastructure as a service”, “serverless computing”, and “platform as a service”. Google Cloud Platform offers cloud-based processing, data storage, analytics, and even some pretty advanced machine learning applications, all under a single set of management tools.
Advertisement platforms to pull in additional traffic from popular web channels
Google Ads, which was until very recently known as Google AdWords, is where Google really makes its money. It is still at its core a pay-per-click advertising service, but it operates across all the Google’s ever more sprawling service landscape. Businesses of all kinds can pay to get highly targeted users from showing them ads, relevant product listings, videos with sales or branding content, or offering users an opportunity to download the business’ app.
Some of the services under Google Ads include AdWords Express, Keyword Planner, Reach Planner, Google Ads Manager Accounts, Google Ads Editor, Google Partners, and IP Address Exclusion tool.
Google for Retail is a service designed to make it easier for retailers to connect with existing customers as well as finding new ones. It gives you tools that you can use to better engage with existing customers and potential customers over Maps, Google Assistant, YouTube, and Search.
Google for Retail includes individualized solutions for offering inventory to local customers, developing shopping campaigns with partner organizations, and combining Google Ads with Smart Shopping Campaigns.
YouTube Ads is, as you might have guessed, the primary way to get your ads served up on YouTube. YouTube is the second biggest search engine on the planet, only Google processes more searches than YouTube. It is the infrastructure that connects nearly 2 billion active users to more than 50 million content creators, and 10% of US businesses already have a YouTube Business Account.
Ad types include TrueView Ads – demos, testimonials and adverts that users often search for directly, Non-Skippable YouTube Ads – ads which last up to 20 seconds that play either before or in the middle of a video, and Bumper Ads which last up to six seconds at the end of a video.
Universal App Campaigns are a way to advertise your app throughout Google Ads, Google Play, YouTube and the rest of Google’s advertising empire. It is heavily automated and relies on Google’s machine learning expertise to determine which of your ads work best with particular types of audiences (the ones which cause more users to install your app) and then ensures that the right users see the right ads.
The big benefit here is that you are relieved of the burden of manually split testing and tracking ad performance.
The secret key: NAP
NAP in Google terms stands for Name, address, and phone number. Most experts believe that Google relies heavily on your business’ listed NAP to target search results to individual clients. That is why using NAP in SEO is incredibly important. If you aren’t using it consistently and accurately, you could be losing out on a huge number of highly targeted, site visitors every day – those who Google believes are in your area and actively looking for the goods or services you provide.
How do you use it correctly? It’s not difficult. List your business’ name, address and phone number accurately on your website, and on as many other sites as you can manage. Start with the obvious – your GMB listing, the Internet Yellow Pages, Yelp, Facebook, Twitter and any local or national business directories which cater to your industry or niche. Most importantly, though, list it consistently. Always use the exact same name, address and phone number, and make sure that all are real.
Why does Google care so much about NAP? It isn’t merely about geo-targeting search results. It is about eliminating false and spam sites from those search results. There are a great many businesses that depend on showing up in as many searches as possible, even those that are not particularly useful to the searcher. Great for them, but it makes Google’s results seem less reliable and relevant to the user, and Google can’t let it happen. It looks for widespread, consistent NAP data for a business or a website to gauge how legitimate your business is. Few false sites have real addresses or phone numbers, and even fewer use them consistently across multiple sites and platforms. Using Name, Address and Phone Number data accurately and consistently help your company look legitimate, as well as bring in geo-targeted searches.
Google has become a vast landscape of user-centric services that are almost completely funded by advertising. It has become incredibly canny about how to get advertising messages out to its users in a way that does not annoy users and brings them something they actually need. They make sure that your sales message reaches people who actually need your service, which truly is a game-changer.
Google now has so many individual services that it can be difficult for non-experts to really get the most from its features. However, failing to gain a certain level of expertise in Google advertising can be disastrous for even a small business these days.
Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with writing expertise that spans across online marketing, SEO, social media, and blogging.