Daily Archives: November 2, 2021

Complete Guide to ASO: App Store Optimization

By | November 2, 2021


Apps are insanely popular. Since 2017, the number of apps developed and found in Google Play and the Apple App Store has grown massively. In fact, statistics suggest that there are at least 2.8 million apps out there!

With that many apps, there is bound to be serious competition no matter what vertical your app falls into. That competition might make it difficult for your app to truly shine. With such a saturation of apps, it can seem almost impossible for your app to stand out and entice people.

Well, worry no more (or just a bit less) – there is a way to help your app thrive! There is a way to help get your app noticed over all other apps! The answer is called ASO or app store optimization.

If you want to focus on boosting your app’s discoverability, if you want to bump up your app store rankings and subsequently downloads, then you’ve come to the right place! This is the perfect guide to help you get started quickly and finish strong.

Here is everything you need to know about ASO!

What is App Store Optimization (ASO)?

 

App Store Optimization (ASO) refers to the act of optimizing mobile apps specifically for the purpose of obtaining a higher ranking in app store search results (as well as getting the best top charts ranking). Since ASO shares some of the same elements and/or qualities as search engine optimization (SEO) for websites, it is easy for one to refer to app store optimization as the go-to SEO for Google Play and Apple App Store.

What many fail to realize is that app store optimization is considered to be the most cost-effective method of obtaining more app downloads. Even more so, ASO comes with a deluge of strategies with the utmost goal of increasing the chances of discovery of an app via an app store search. The upshot of ASO is that if properly done and maintained, the chances of seriously pushing the number of app downloads is quite high. The same is true when trying to push up an app’s rankings in the charts. Simply put, ASO is a powerful tool, with limited costs involved. With high upside and low costs… what’s not to like?

Of course, app store optimization success cannot be achieved overnight. In many ways, the process of increasing your app store rankings is going to require a trial and error period in order to determine a formula that is perfect for your app.

Fortunately, as we mentioned, ASO doesn’t require a whole lot of dedicated budget. As long as you know exactly what to focus on you should be able to increase your app’s download and rankings in a relatively short period of time.

So then, let’s get started with the ASO process, shall we? 

Keyword Research for ASO

 

App Ideas

If you are planning to launch an app, you should already know the importance of ASO (App Store Optimization). It does not matter what type of app you are planning to develop and launch. What does matter is keyword research. Keyword research is the backbone of ASO.

No matter how you slice it, keywords give “identity” to your app. Keywords are both how users find your app and how your app is perceived by users. Meaning, if a certain keyword is what brings your app to the top of the results, users will identify your app one way. If another keyword is what brings your app up, then users may have an entirely different association to it!

The very first thing you need to remember is to be careful (and even a bit sophisticated) when selecting the most powerful keywords. This is especially true as these keywords define the true nature of your app. To this extent, you should strongly consider investigating and learning the top keywords your relevant competitors utilize to rank in app searches. There’s no sense in trying to reinvent the wheel!

Thus you can start your keyword journey by researching the market. This would mean spying on your competitors, on their target keywords, in order to decide which keywords are the most advantageous for your strategy.

From there you can perform analysis and selection. After analyzing the competition you may have an extensive list of keywords. Perhaps too extensive and therefore infeasible and unmanageable. The idea then is to determine which keyword is worth moving forward with and which is not worth your time. You really have to spend time checking the performance of each and every keyword on your list, so you will know if they are worth the effort and investment. [Checkout Rank Ranger’s App Store Rankings tool which makes this analysis a piece of cake.]

What’s really important here is to understand how these keywords perform within any app store. As such, it’s important to ask yourself these questions:

  • Will the keyword drive the relevant persons to your app? (The word of the day being relevant… it’s not just a numbers game.)
  • What search intent do your keywords serve? (Think about the latent meaning and implications of the terms you go with!)
  • What is your main KPI from a specific keyword? (In other words, what do you want from your keywords? Traffic? Brand identity? Etc.)

It’s one thing to know which keywords to focus on, it’s another to actually rank for those keywords! Now, that you have managed to collect the best-performing keywords for your app, it is time to optimize your app’s discovery!

How Do You Optimize Your App Page for Search?

 

It’s time to add the keywords you decided on to the app field, description, title, and a whole lot of other places so that when a user searches for any of those keywords, you’ll have a better chance of ranking higher. Think of old-school SEO tactics, back in the old days: when we used to count our main keywords inside the text.

According to TUNE, (formerly MobileDevHQ), if you include keywords in your title, you might end up with more than a 10% rankings increase. Crazy, no? Just make sure the title is appealing and engaging and always remember the title may be good for ASO, but it should essentially serve your future app user… so blurbing a set of keywords won’t do the trick for ya!

App Title Optimization Stats

Your app’s description is similar to your title and works according to the same keyword construct. You need to describe your app well enough to engage the user so that an actual download transpires. So yes, generously include keywords. At the same time, you should show how updated your app is by making sure you include the top features that best represent your app. In other words, you need to target the engines that decide what does and does not rank. Concurrently, you need to think about what happens when a user finds your app. What do you think happens when a user discovers your app but can’t get a grasp of the features and elements you provide? Speaking of thinking about the user once they arrive at your app’s page… you might want to include some nice screenshots with an appealing design! Below is a nice example of how Airbnb presents its app visually:

Airbnb App Store Layout

Again, ASO, like SEO, is not an overnight success. It is a process, and it is really going to take a huge amount of time in order to be efficient. The good thing is, you do not have to spend a ridiculous amount of money in order to achieve success. Just give it time and you should be able to see satisfactory results in the long run. What I’m trying to say is to be patient!



App Store Optimization Strategies

Now that you know what app store optimization is and how it works to help discover your app, it’s time to learn some tips and strategies to really drive success. The idea here is to help to ensure that your app is able to meet the ranking criteria needed to rise to the top of a search results page. This is especially pertinent since the road to ASO success is not easy (you have to think that most of your competitors are also doing ASO). It really pays to know some well-known and effective strategies.

Well, without further adieu, let’s take a look at some of them.

Understand Your Customers and Competitors

You might not know it, but not everyone out there has concrete knowledge about their customers and competition.

Ask yourself this: How well do I actually know my customers and competition?

A well-formed ASO strategy is one that completely hinges on understanding how customers use an app. Even more so, it comes with a very comprehensive view of the overall competitive landscape. Understand what your customer needs are: what are they looking for in your app? What are they not finding? My best advice is to track their behavior and see their reactions in real-time: you can use 3rd party tools to test that, or simply sit next to your users and watch how they use your app!

Pro Tip: Make sure you know what your competitors are doing. Think: How can you outsmart them? Where’s the gap? What are they missing out on?

Choose the Right App Name

 

Oh, yes – having the right app name can mean a lot to your app’s success. Obviously, if you come up with a catchy and unique name, your app is going to reach a lot of the milestones you’re hoping for. At the same time, in order to obtain the best results, remember to always include relevant keywords within your title (as I mentioned earlier).

That said… optimizing your app is not as simple as creating a catchy easy to remember name that is properly optimized. There are market-specific considerations to take into account. 

If your app is meant for international dissemination there are unique considerations you need to examine. Does your app’s name have various meanings in various languages? It’s even possible that a benign word in one language is a slur in another! It could be your app name is associated with a well-established brand or celebrity in another market. That would add a bit of app store competition, wouldn’t it?! It’s all quite possible when bringing a globally targeted app into different countries. Make sure you’re not using words that would be considered to be foul language in another market and that doesn’t reflect a local well-known brand/celebrity.

Simply put, the best strategy is to select a catchy name which implies what your app is made for. But you have to think broadly about the long term and global implications (when applicable).

Google Play Sample Page

Maximize Your Keywords

 

Unlike SEO where most of our efforts are focused on Google, ASO must consider both the Google Play Store and the Apple App Store, the two most popular app stores in the world. There are tons of strategies that can be applied across the board, especially since we are talking about a couple of different app stores out there. However, no matter how different they can be, both stores require apps to have the best keywords to succeed. Your overall approach does not have to be different, but the way you maximize keywords in each of these stores must be relevant.

Take the App Store (Apple) for example, which is limited to 100 characters in the keyword field (make sure to use only commas, no spaces).

It’s a simple equation, by understanding the idiosyncrasies of each distribution platform, you will know exactly how to maximize your keywords and overall strategy. The most important thing here is… use these elements to your advantage to help both your app and general business strategy.

ASO cannot be isolated from a brand’s way of thinking about its overarching business strategy. Work with your marketing managers to understand how to tackle the strategic issues facing your business by using ASO as a marketing channel.

Google Play vs. The App Store: A Quick Comparison

App Store/Google Play ASO Infographic

Bonus Tip! Version Updates…

 

So what can go wrong? You’ve done everything by the book and followed this guide, but you still need to remember one crucial thing:

Every version update, or every time someone in your team makes changes to your app, please make sure things didn’t break along the way. These scenarios happen. In fact, they happen more often than you would think. The left hand not talking to the right hand can seriously impact your app’s rankings. I would recommend having some internal education about ASO’s importance for anyone who deals with your app page. No, not everyone has to be an ASO expert, but anyone working on your app should know ASO exists and that it needs to be accounted for. At a minimum, doing so will help keep the right people informed when changes to your app are made.

Be the ASO Pro!

 

ASO is super important. What’s unique is that it’s not a matter of spending the most money or anything of the sort. It’s about dedication and diligence. It is a matter of research, aligning your business goals, and constant testing. ASO success depends on your understanding of the possibilities it affords and doing the work that will get you there! It’s not complex, but it can be tedious. That said, it’s worth it.

As with SEO, optimizing your app is not a one-shot deal. It’s a constant process. It means always trying to improve, keeping on top of the competition, and taking notice of any changes to an app store’s ranking process/preferences. There are an endless number of new apps created every day and new competition out there to consider. It’s not only hard to rank well, but it’s also not an easy task to stay on top. Plan ahead and always think about the best long term strategy for your app! No shortcuts!

About The Author

Liraz Postan

Liraz is an international SEO and content expert, helping brands and publishers grow through search engines. She is Outbrain’s former SEO and Content Director and previously worked in the gaming, B2C and B2B industries for more than a decade.



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Top 6 Characteristics of Traditional Home Decor

By | November 2, 2021

Traditional home decor is increasingly gaining popularity again in this modern era. As the name indicates, the traditional design gives you an old-fashioned look with a unique touch of elegance. The traditional design is a perfect example of comfort and amity; where everything is matching and nothing is conflicting to the senses. This decor welcomes your guest with a warm and inviting atmosphere. To help you better comprehend the aesthetics of this beautiful decor style; we have a list of 6 features that come within this unique decor.

Compound Fertilizer Market – Global Outlook and Forecast 2021-2027

By | November 2, 2021

Bharat Book Bureau Provides the Trending Market Research Report on “Compound Fertilizer Market – Global Outlook and Forecast 2021-2027 “under Food & Beverage category. The Compound Fertilizer Market is projected to exhibit highest growth rate over report offers a collection of superior market research, market analysis, and competitive intelligence and industry reports.

Desktop & Mobile Featured Snippets: Are They In Sync?

By | November 2, 2021


So you’ve won a Featured Snippet on desktop, does that mean your URL shows within the zero-position box on mobile? How often does the URL that resides within a mobile Featured Snippet match the desktop URL? Does a Featured Snippet even exist on desktop? What is the likelihood that a Featured Snippet win on desktop equals a Featured Snippet win on mobile? 

Here’s a look at how often Google shows the same URL on desktop and on mobile. (Plus, see how consistently URLs perform within the Featured Snippet on desktop versus mobile!)

 

Does Google Use the Same Featured Snippet URL on Both Desktop & Mobile? 

Does Google use the same URLs for both mobile and desktop Featured Snippets? It’s a pretty straightforward question. If you want a more sophisticated take on the question you might ask, does Google see user intent so differently on mobile versus desktop that it does not use the same Featured Snippet URLs? We could even get philosophical with it and wonder aloud if Google should or should not use the same URLs for both mobile and desktop Featured Snippets? 

Let’s start off nice and slow with some of the main findings and how I and my crack team went about this study. [Huge thank you to Levi Genesove for his help gathering the data for this study!]

Check out our guide to winning SERP features.

Key Findings and Study Method

 

We looked at 265 keywords that produced Featured Snippets on desktop and compared the URLs within them to their mobile versions. Specifically, we tracked the URL within a Featured Snippet over a 30-day period and recorded the percentage of days during the period where the URL was consistent across both devices. This recording also included instances where there was a Featured Snippet on desktop but a lack of one on mobile. 

[Note, and for the record, my starting point was desktop. That is, as opposed to looking at keywords that had a mobile Featured Snippet and comparing the URL trends to desktop, I took keywords that had a desktop Featured Snippet and compared the URL tendencies to mobile.] 

The key findings from this process are: 

  • Over a 30-day period, the keyword dataset produced a desktop Featured Snippet 86.5% of the time but just 73.3% of the time on mobile. 
  • Factoring in instances where on a given day a keyword produced a desktop Featured Snippet but not a mobile snippet resulted in the URL matching 70% of the time during the 30-day period studied. 
  • Discounting instances where a keyword produced a desktop but not a mobile Featured Snippet, the percentage of URLs that matched across both devices through the 30-day period jumped to 90%. 

Diving into the Data on Cross-Device URL Consistency 

Let’s ease into this by going a bit “top-level” and seeing how consistent Google’s Featured Snippet showing is on both mobile and desktop. In other words, once we know Google tends to show a Featured Snippet for a keyword on both mobile and desktop how consistently is that snippet shown on the SERP over 30-days? 

Featured Snippet Display Level

Clearly, Google is a bit more consistent with its desktop Featured Snippets. Over a 30-day period, Google showed a mobile Featured Snippet just 73% of the time compared to 87% of the time on desktop. Meaning, when we looked at each day over a 30-day period, Google only placed a mobile Featured Snippet on the SERP for 73% of those days. On desktop, those same 30-days produced a Featured Snippet 87% of the time for the exact same keywords. [Again, and just to be clear, the dataset includes keywords known to produce a Featured Snippet, it does not factor in instances where a keyword does not produce a Featured Snippet at all.]

On any given day, you are more likely to end up in the desktop Featured Snippet than you are the mobile Featured Snippet simply because there is a substantially larger chance that Google will display a desktop snippet relative to a mobile snippet. 

Featured Snippet URL Matchup – Here Comes the Data!

Knowing how consistently Google shows both a Featured Snippet on mobile and desktop is actually an integral part of analyzing how often the URLs on both devices align. Certainly, if on a given day Google shows a Featured Snippet on desktop but not on mobile there can’t be a URL match!

Now, there are two ways to slice this: 

1) You could include the days where one device shows with a Featured Snippet while the other does not and count that as a ‘non-match’. The advantage of doing that is it showcases the true power of winning a Featured Snippet from a cross-device perspective. In plain English, considering days where one device has a snippet and the other does not as being an instance where the snippet URLs do not match helps you gauge the overall power of a Featured Snippet win. 

2) When considering non-matches, you could discount instances where one device produces a Featured Snippet and the other does not. Doing so would let you know how symbiotic the relationship between desktop and mobile Featured Snippets is. This construct is more of a “pure URL” perspective in that it showcases how Google thinks of Featured Snippet URLs and just Featured Snippet URLs across both devices. This is because other factors such as if there should even be a Featured Snippet for a given keyword on a given day are not accounted for within such a dataset. 

What I’m trying to say is that there are reasons to include instances when Google shows a Featured Snippet on desktop but not on mobile as a non-match and reasons to only look at instances where both devices produced a Featured Snippet when analyzing URL matches. 

Of course, being a thorough person, I did both.  

Desktop and Mobile Featured Snippet URL Matches: Including One Device Instances

Featured Snippet URL Match Overall

The data here includes instances where one device did show a Featured Snippet on a given day and where one device did not produce a Featured Snippet. As is seen, there is a nice chunk of a 30-day period where your Featured Snippet win is not universal. Over the course of a month, your URL that resides within a Featured Snippet will only show on both desktop and mobile 70% of the time. That means that 30% of the time your Featured Snippet win is indeed a win, but just on one device. 

 

From a practical perspective, this data is very telling. If you want to know how far-reaching a desktop Featured Snippet win is, the above data is your friend. (I say “desktop” because as I’ve already alluded, you could approach this from a mobile-centric perspective.) But what does it mean in terms of how Google thinks about Featured Snippet URLs on desktop vs. how it thinks about them on mobile? 

For that, we need to discount the instances where only desktop produced a Featured Snippet. This way we can match up URLs one-to-one and see how device-specific Google’s Featured Snippet URL treatment actually is. (In other words, doing so discounts Google’s consideration of showing a Featured Snippet on a given device altogether and solely focuses on URL treatment once Google “decides” to show a snippet on both devices.) 

Desktop and Mobile Featured Snippet URL Matches: Excluding One Device Instances

Featured Snippet URL Match

The percentage of Featured Snippet URL matches over a 30-day period picks up quite a bit once you remove instances where the SERP feature displayed only on desktop. In other words, there is a very strong URL alignment between the mobile Featured Snippet and the desktop Featured Snippet. The URL Google shows within its desktop Featured Snippets matches that shown within mobile Featured Snippets 90% of the time once you discount those instances where mobile did not produce the SERP feature. On days where both devices show with a Featured Snippet for a keyword, you can expect Google to use the same URL 9 times out of 10. 

This means that the real disparity between Featured Snippet scorings across the two devices has less to do with URLs per se and far more to do with when Google considers the Featured Snippet relevant on each device. 

On Featured Snippet Varying Device Relevancy & URL Uniqueness 

 

The idea of a Featured Snippet, its content and URL, being more relevant to a particular device is… odd. Once a keyword is material for a Featured Snippet I have a hard time seeing how ‘device’ comes into play. There are certainly instances where mobile intent and mobile usage differ from that on desktop. I personally make it a habit not to purchase things on mobile as I like to have full screen/site visibility. However, Featured Snippets are entirely informational. The entire idea is to offer the user a snippet of quickly digestible info. In this scenario, it’s hard for me to see why there would be the 13 percentage point discrepancy between mobile and desktop “snippet consistency” (which results in the overall URL matching between devices to be significantly wide). 

I don’t have any words of wisdom here, to be honest. I simply find it a bit baffling why there would be greater Featured Snippet consistency on one device over the other. It wasn’t like I could see some sort of observable pattern among the keywords we analyzed. There’s no apparent rhyme or reason to any of this that pops out at you. 

What’s more is that even when Google does show both a desktop and mobile Featured Snippet, the URLs don’t match nearly 10% of the time! Now, you might say (as Featured Snippet experts Nigel Stevens and Izzi Smith did) that 10% seems low. The proposition that Google should show entirely unique URLs within Featured Snippets on mobile is provoking, I get it and it makes a ton of sense. Despite that, at the end of the day, I just don’t see user intent for how to___________ being that different on each device. A 10% disparity seems a bit high for me. 

The Featured Snippet Fallout: Takeaways  

 

Bomb Drop

The bottom line is that just because you score a Featured Snippet on one device does not mean your URL has spread its wings on another. It’s not automatic, not anywhere close to it. Over the course of a month, the average keyword will not produce a Featured Snippet with the same URL across both devices 30% of the time. That’s an important number to consider when thinking about the potential traffic a Featured Snippet offers your site. More importantly, when you see your URL within both a mobile and a desktop Featured Snippet you have to realize that there could be a significant amount of time each month where it’s not the case (30% on average). 

At 30% it’s certainly worth your while to research Featured Snippet patterns for a keyword over time in order to observe how consistent the snippet is across both devices. The data presented here is an average. There are going to be keywords that produce Featured Snippets with more consistent as well as less consistent cross-device appearances. Knowing which keyword is which from a device consistency perspective could create for a more efficient Featured Snippet strategy.  

Happy Featured Snippet hunting! 

[For more research on Featured Snippet URLs be sure to look at my study on Featured Snippet market share.]

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!





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How to Handle Zero-Click Searches: A New Content Outlook for Success

By | November 2, 2021


By now you’ve probably heard the news… over 50% of all Google searches do not result in a click! You’ve also probably heard things like this is the end of organic traffic and that Google is killing ‘the website’. You may have even heard a few tips on how to handle this new age of the zero-click search. But between freaking out, blaming Google, and looking for the next organic SEO ****… we’ve missed the boat entirely. 

It would be a bit braggadocious for me to say that I’m going to show you how to really handle zero-click searches and why most of the things you’re hearing are a bit misguided….

That said, here’s the real truth on how to handle zero-click searches and why a lot of what you’re hearing doesn’t pass muster. 

What Is a Zero-Click Search? 

Let’s start by making sure we’re all on the same page here. A zero-click search is when a user executes a Google search but instead of clicking on any of the sites on the results page, they use the information already presented on the SERP as a means to answering their query. 

Now, there are many reasons and ways a user can obtain the information they need directly on the SERP without having to click on any of the organic results. A user could simply be looking to see a book’s rating and may make use of the schema the site themselves has set to show on the SERP with: 

Review Markup Organic Result

In truth, a user could find the information they’re looking for in the very title and/or description of an organic result. 

But that’s not what we mean by zero-click searches. 

What we mean when we employ this addition to SEO jargon are searches that do not result in a click because of these fellas: 

SERP Feature Heavy SERP

SERP features…. Standalone SERP features that directly answer a query by design. Meaning, the SERP features Google has designed to specifically answer a query so as to make a click on any URL unnecessary. A zero-click search is when one of the features Google has crafted so as to make a click superfluous does exactly that. 

With the advent of time and a tad of machine learning, Google has gotten far better at placing multiple forms of content via multiple features on the SERP so as to directly answer the user’s query. My favorite examples of this are sports queries. Take the search term Pittsburgh Steelers, there is no organic result that appears above the fold (see image above).  

Instead of an organic result we get both a Sports Answer Box and a Knowledge Panel. For any user looking to know what the team’s logo looks like, who the team is, where the team plays, who owns the team, who’s the coach, what years the team won a championship, who plays for the team, etc., there is no need to for an actual website, the Knowledge Panel takes care of it. 

If a user should engage the Sports Answer Box, that’s a whole wormhole of Google content in it of itself: 

Sports Box Expanded

Users looking for all sorts of top-level information here (scores, standings, schedules, etc.) really don’t need a website. I would go so far as to say that a website is almost entirely superfluous to a user looking for sports scores, standings, or schedules. And it’s not just sports scores. A user looking for the weather, a list of recent movies, information on a famous person, calendar info (i.e., when a particular holiday falls out), etc. have pretty much everything they need right there on the Google SERP. In these instances, there’s hardly a reason to click on a website. 

You can see why this might spark a bit of righteous outrage. How are sites supposed to make a living if Google is “stealing” their clicks? Why is Google killing websites? Why should we bother creating content? 

It would seem Google is looking to hang as many heads of as many websites as it can on the walls of its California complex. Worse, it seems like this is the end of web content and of earning revenue from site traffic. 

Wrong and wrong. 

 

 

Web Content is Changing – Evolve or Die 

 

I know we feel like our content is under attack. I know it seems that Google is killing content and the sites that host that content. But I’m going to say something crazy, something I never imagined I would ever say… Google answering queries and precluding clicks is not a bad thing. 

It’s not a bad thing. It is simply the natural evolution of content and it puts us at a crossroads where we can either adapt or die (OK, I’m being a bit melodramatic, but you get my point). 

Let me ask you, if you wanted to know the temperature outside, would you want to click on a URL and be directed to a website or would you much rather see the SERP below? 

Google Weather Box

Imagine you’re in a rush or simply using a mobile device, you want quick and easily accessed information. Nothing is quicker and nothing is more easily accessed than just typing your query into your browser and having Google show you what you want in the blink of an eye.

My point is that you yourself don’t want to have to make a click in many instances. What Google is doing is good for users (for the most part). Google giving us the answer is what we want and as a result, represents the natural evolution of content. 

How Web Content is Changing & How You Should Therefore Handle Zero-Click Searches 

Content and the form in which it is consumed is constantly changing and has been for hundreds of years, if not longer. Think about the last 100 years and the amount of change content and content media has seen. 

In the 1920s, the world was experiencing a golden age in radio broadcasting. Radio was the dominant media format. But that didn’t last long as just 20 years later TV entered the fray. By the 1960s, TV had all but completely replaced radio as our primary source of entertainment and information content. This was highlighted by the first US presidential debate broadcasted on television in 1960. Fast forward 50 years and streaming content began to seriously infringe on commercial television’s foothold. In historical terms, that’s not a long time. 

Think about all of the media/content formats our world, the digital world, has killed. From newspapers to periodicals the online world has been a content killer. Just ask your local newspaper (or former local newspaper). 

Content is always changing. Sometimes it’s hardly noticed and at other times the way content evolves can change the entire world in one pivotal moment. (Many ascribe John F. Kennedy’s win over Richard Nixon to Kennedy’s TV performance during the 1960 presidential debate as he dominated on a visual level – which as mentioned was the first debate broadcasted on TV.) We’re at a moment where the fork in the road is becoming tangibly apparent. 

Embrace the Deep: Rolling with the Zero-Click Punches by Moving on from Top-Level Content 

So how is content changing now and how does it relate to zero-click searches?

If you want a good parallel to compare our current “content situation” to, think about how music media/content has changed in the past 20 years. 

In 1999, Napster ushered in the era of downloading songs. Emphasis on songs as over the past 20 years the idea of buying an album has all but fallen on deaf ears. I can’t tell you the last time I bought an album (actually I can, in 1999 I bought ‘No. 4’ by the Stone Temple Pilots… I think I just made my point). If you’ll remember, assuming you’re old enough, everyone was crying havoc at the death of the music industry when downloading really took off. I don’t know about you, but I don’t really worry about Taylor Swift’s wallet these days, she seems to be doing just fine. That’s because there’s still profitability in musical content despite the fact that albums per se don’t sell as well as they did back in the days of The Who and Led Zeppelin. Now, touring has taken a stronger roll in producing earnings. I’m not just saying that based on my anecdotal perceptions as an avid music fan. According to Rolling Stone Magazine, “Live events are quickly shaping up to be the most lucrative space for musicians in the digital-music era.” 

You know what’s not lucrative? Top-level content. Sports scores, weather info, basic facts are all the “albums” of modern web content.

Top-level content is a relic of an age where information accessibility per se was of radical novelty. Up until this point in time, the availability and accessibility of content itself was the novelty. That is no longer the case. Accessibility of information per se is no longer novel. The accessibility of information is now the norm. We expect to be able to find anything and everything, to be able to have all the information we desire available at our fingertips.

The evolution of content demands novelty and that is not found in availability per se any longer but in how efficient that availability can be. The next stage in content’s development is how easily it can be accessed and Google offering answers directly on the SERP is the epitome of this. There is no fighting the advent of a high volume of zero-click searches. 

Deal With It…. Create Deeper Content 

Instead of fighting the notion of a world filled with zero-click searches we should adapt to the prospects the new content paradigm brings with it.

You want to know how to handle the pervasion of zero-click searches? 

Roll with it.

And what does with rolling with the punches mean here? 

It means forgetting top-level content. Google wants it? Let them have it! 

The demand for website content is not to be found in top-level content any longer. That ship is quickly sailing away. The user no longer wants nor expects to use your site for top-level content (broadly speaking). Rather, the user now looks to sites not for the temperature outside, but for weather trends… they look to websites not for scores but for sports analysis. Websites are now, more than ever before, about offering deep, thorough, and unique content. The future of site content is deep and comprehensive content. 

Do what Google is not doing. Top-level content… Google has that covered. Users, forget SEOs, are quite happy with that (as if they weren’t you’d see more sites getting clicks and less clickless searches). Forget freaking out about Google “stealing clicks” and let’s focus on how web content and therefore website content is evolving right in front of our eyes with site content needing to move away from surface-level info in favor of deep if not encyclopedic content! 

Think of zero-click searches as a sign, a sign of what users want and expect from web content. That is, top-level tidbits… that’s not what users expect to see when they click on a site from the SERP. They have Google for that. What they expect is deeply layered, data, analysis, trends, or whatever so long as it is comprehensive and brings unique value. And there is nothing artificial about this, it’s just the natural evolution of web content and the content that is worthy to be clicked on. 

I know what I’m saying can be a hard pill to swallow. But ask yourself… what advantage does having top-level content like movie showtimes offer from a search perspective? As a Google user, what extra benefit is there in going to a site to see what time the latest crap Hollywood offers is playing at the local movie theater? None… not when I get the same thing without any ads, without having to scroll down the page, without having to scour the page for what I want! (Of course, such a site may want to have that content on the page for the users that comprise the site’s direct traffic. I’m speaking solely from a “Search” perspective.) 

Google will never be able to offer the user a truly in-depth look at a topic. The SERP isn’t built for that, it’s built for the “snippet.” You have to then ask where is the true value of a website? It should be clear it’s not in “snippet worthy content.” That’s no longer a site’s unique selling point. It’s like with anything else… do what you’re good at. Sites are no longer good at offering surface information, but there is absolutely nothing better than a website offering in-depth content that offers the user something of substance.   

Room for Click Concern – Where Sites Have a Real Problem 

Highway Twister

I want to be entirely clear… there is a legitimate reason for sites to be concerned about how Google utilizes its SERP features. I know Google says that these concerning practices are for the good of the user, and they may be, but it does not make them any less concerning to sites. In other words, there are instances where I think the ‘click issues’ that sites face fall outside the natural evolution of the web. Surface-like information no longer being proper site content is just the way web content is going. Google may have stimulated that process, but that’s just the natural evolution of technology and content. There’s no stopping it.  

Where I think there is a genuine reason for sites to be perhaps perturbed is where Google’s SERP feature action is not merely the natural flow of web evolution. And while it’s hard to get into all of the examples where sites should be waving red flags as high and as frantically as they can… they mostly have to do with local searches, and I’m including flight searches here because they directly tie into hotel searches (which are, of course, part of the local sphere). 

In these cases, Google is looking to turn itself into a commerce platform. I understand why Google wants to do that, but I don’t think that’s “just the way the web is going.” I don’t think Google going commerce is merely how content has caught up with available technology, the same way machine learning and the like have driven top-level content away from sites and towards the SERP. 

Google creating a travel site has nothing to do with the absurdity of having to click on a site to see the temperature outside. Google having a travel site and Expedia having a travel site is the same thing. There’s no advantage of not having to click and explore to see the content, at least not to the same extent as top-level content tidbits. All that’s happened here is that the travel industry, by focusing more on trying to sell me a rental car with my hotel stay instead of offering me legit price insights has opened the door for Google to come in and fill a market need. Filling a market need, while it’s hard to blame Google for doing so, is not the same thing as expediting the natural evolution of content given the available mediums (in this case the SERP). 

Let’s get real with this for a minute. Google throwing an answer onto the SERP, while it does help its profitability, is less about ad clicks per se and more about aligning to how users really want to access top-level information. Meaning, if Google didn’t do this, users would feel a bit frustrated (as in, “Google, why not just show this simple fact to me right here on the SERP?”). Of course, that eventually goes back to revenue. However, that’s not the same thing as boosting the abilities of a for-profit SERP feature (as is the case with its flight and hotel-related SERP features). 

The same, in a way, applies to Google highlighting competitors within the Local Panel. Doing so began when Google started offering competitive insights within the Hotel Local Panel but we’ve seen this expand to all sorts of businesses. For example, Google was seen testing an ad for a competitor in a brand’s Local Panel. To what extent does a prominently placed ad from a competitor really help the user when you need to enter a brand-specific query to directly bring up the Local Panel (or click on a specific Local Pack/Local Finder listing)? I understand a carousel of related businesses towards the bottom of the page, that makes good sense, but I understand why a business would be upset about a prominently placed ad from its competition in this case.  

Worse than that, there was another case recently where Google showed an entire carousel of competitors above the main listing in the Local Panel. That’s a bit baffling because, again, the brand in the panel itself was specifically chosen by the user! You want to show a carousel of competitors at the bottom of the panel? As I said, I don’t have much of an issue with that. But to see a competitor carousel appear above the featured brand? Hard to understand who that’s good for. 

In other words, I think there are legitimate instances where sites have a legitimate gripe with Google going a bit too far with things. I just don’t think that has really much of anything to do with zero-click searches vis-a-vis Direct Answers and so forth. 

What In the World Do Featured Snippets Have to Do with Zero-Click Searches? 

  

If we’re talking about zero-click searches we have to talk about Featured Snippets. For some reason, the top-position box keeps slithering into the zero-click search conversation. As if winning a Featured Snippet was some way of dealing with the loss of the click. You see it’s all a matter of some math. 0 + 0 is still 0. 

It’s not zero-click searches to the exclusion of Featured Snippets. It’s zero-click searches as is in 0 being literally no clicks. You can see why I’m a bit baffled as to why Featured Snippets are being offered as a way to deal with the zero-click search. This common piece of SEO advice just doesn’t add up from a click perspective. 

In fact, I very much believe Featured Snippets are being used by Google as a form of Direct Answer. Meaning, Google is using the Featured Snippet as part of its zero-click construct. Evidence of this has been a content length reduction in paragraph format Featured Snippets and an increase in the length of the content shown within list format Featured Snippets. In the case of paragraph snippets, less content equals more refined and highly targeted content that directly answers the query. In the case of list Featured Snippets, a more complete list reduces the need to click. In either case, Google is formating the Featured Snippet to function as a defacto Direct Answer.  

There is good reason to target Featured Snippets that reside on SERPs that garner no clicks, it just has nothing to do with site traffic as some seem to imply (which again, I just can’t wrap my head around). What might that reason be? Authority. Being shown at the very top of the SERP is synonymous with being an authority. Of course, being known as an authority could mean users specifically search you out or click on your page when they see your site show up for another query and so forth. So target Featured Snippets for zero-click-searches, just don’t think they’re some sort of clickless search shaman. 

Back to the Future 

 

DeLorean

Usually, I’m all about offering some last-ditch advice or insights in the closing paragraph of my posts. Not today. Today we’re going back to the future. Specifically, back to the notion that the future of website content, of clicks off the SERP, is deeply insightful long-form content. I really just want to take these last few moments to double-down on the idea that there is a natural evolution of content, that content is one of the most elastic substances on earth. That natural unfolding of content’s progression means that simple tidbits of information from Bill Gates’ age to the weather in Timbuktu are not going to be your money makers going forward. People don’t need your site for that. What they need from your site is the impact of Bill Gates’ genius on the social fabric of our society and the impact of dust on Timbuktu’s ancient city of gold and the economic outcomes of that reality…. You get my point, right?! 

About The Author

Mordy Oberstein

Mordy is the official liaison to the SEO community for Wix. Despite his numerous and far-reaching duties, Mordy still considers himself an SEO educator first and foremost. That’s why you’ll find him regularly releasing all sorts of original SEO research and analysis!



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Trending Latest Shalwar Kameez Design

By | November 2, 2021

Most recent Shalwar Kameez Design and kurtas styles continually impact the job of men. Today we are concluding the best Latest Shalwar Kameez Design. Men are giving increasingly more consideration to the most well known ******, in both Western and ethnic dress. In Pakistan, India, Bangladesh and other South Asian nations, kurta or salwar kameez are ethnic clothing with not very many style

How to Buy Perfect Home Decor Furniture for the First Time

By | November 2, 2021

Furniture not only serves as an accommodation but also adds aesthetics to your living space if chosen right. Choosing the right furniture can be an overwhelming process for first-timers as you have to look at a lot of aspects and determine your needs. Although buying home decor furniture is a tiring process, you can easily select the right furniture for your place if you have proper planning for your needs and budget. If you are struggling to decide from your furniture choices then these below-mentioned techniques are going to help you a lot. Have a look at these steps and smoothly decide the furniture for your interior.

What is SaaS Marketing? 8 Tactics We Use at Ahrefs

By | November 2, 2021


SaaS marketing is the process of building awareness, increasing interest, and acquiring more customers for a software-as-a-service (SaaS) product.

As a SaaS company ourselves, we’re no strangers to the process. In fact, we’d like to think we’re more than decent at it. Not only have we reached an eight-figure ARR, but marketers also frequently analyze our marketing strategy on Twitter:

Now, you don’t have to dissect our marketing to use for your own SaaS business because I’m going to share those tactics with you.

Here they are:

  1. SEO-driven content marketing
  2. Data studies
  3. Free tools
  4. Community
  5. Content repurposing
  6. Be a guest on podcasts
  7. Paid ads
  8. Conferences

1. SEO-driven content marketing

Like many other SaaS companies, we regularly create content on both our blog and YouTube channel. But in a crowded world, simply producing content isn’t enough. It needs to be discovered.

The “discovery engine” behind our content is search engine optimization (SEO). This is how our blog gets ~300K monthly visitors from Google alone:

Data on Ahrefs blog's monthly organic traffic

SEO-driven content marketing is the core of our marketing strategy. It drives both our business and other marketing channels.

Here’s how we do it.

A. Find topics with search traffic potential

For a piece of content to get search traffic, it has to be about a topic that people are actively searching for on Google. Makes sense, right?

Here’s how to find these topics:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter a keyword related to your industry (e.g., “design”)
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Toggle the Questions tab

You’ll see tons of keyword ideas and their estimated monthly search volumes.

Matching terms report of monthly search volumes

If you’re looking for topics to rank for on YouTube, then simply change the search engine from Google to YouTube.

The word "Youtube" added in the search box in Keyword Explorer

Look through these topics and note down those that are relevant to your SaaS.

Recommended reading: Keyword Research: The Beginner’s Guide by Ahrefs

B. Focus on high “business potential” topics

One unique thing we do at Ahrefs is to pitch our product in every piece of content we create. We want you to learn how to solve a problem and know how our toolset helps to solve it too.

Unfortunately, many SaaS companies avoid doing this due to the fear of being too sales‑y. But we’d like to think we straddle the line pretty well.

One key reason why we’ve managed to do this successfully is thanks to a score we’ve created called “business potential”:

Table with scores 3 to 0. And explanation of criteria to meet each score.

Writing about topics with a high “business potential” score allows us to promote our product naturally.

For example, the topic “link building” is a “3” in our books. That’s because it’s almost impossible to do link building well without a backlink research tool—something we offer. So, in our link building guide, we can naturally talk about our product:

Blog post talking about value of Keyword Explorer

We do this in our YouTube videos too.

C. Create content that ranks

To rank at the top of Google, you’ll need to create content that deserves to rank. Watch this video to learn how. Or this video if you want to rank on YouTube.

Not every piece of content we create is designed to rank in Google. In fact, we have plenty of articles like this that get almost no organic traffic.

Data of Ahrefs article that gets very little organic traffic

Why do we still create them?

These articles are mostly data studies, and there are three main reasons why we create them:

  1. Thought leadership These studies educate, inform, and enlighten people in our industry on how things are (or where they’re heading). They lend numbers and credibility for what marketers want to do—convince their bosses to invest in SEO, show stakeholders where to direct resources, etc. This, in turn, makes us top of mind.
  2. Show off our data  The core of our product is data. These studies help “flex” our data muscles.
  3. Linkbait – These studies usually attract tons of links as other publications quote them.

Here’s how you can do it:

A. Find an interesting topic

You can’t just create any data study and expect publicity. It needs to be interesting—or at least interesting to people who may cite them (e.g., journalists).

One way to find interesting data is to find topics that people are already talking about subjectively and create objective data to address them.

For example, a popular question in the SEO industry is, “How long does it take to rank in Google?” And almost every blog post that tried to answer this question based the reply on subjective experience.

Excerpt from blog post giving a subjective answer

No objective data to support the author’s claim.

So, in 2017, we conducted a study using our data to answer the question. It remains one of our most popular data studies and has since generated a total of 3,200 backlinks from ~1,500 unique websites:

Data showing Ahrefs' study getting tons of backlinks and referring domains

Another tactic is reconducting popular but outdated studies. Here’s how you can find these studies:

  1. Go to Ahrefs’ Content Explorer
  2. Enter a search term like [industry] + “study,” [industry] + “survey,” [industry] + “research,” or [industry] + “data”
  3. Set the filter to an “intitle” search
  4. Set the Published filter to an older **** range (e.g., 2010–2015)
  5. Sort the results by referring domains

For example, doing this for the SEO industry surfaces a few studies we can recreate that already have thousands of links:

List of studies that have thousands of links

B. Promote your content to interested parties

The beauty of the two tactics above is that you already know who’s writing about these topics. All that’s left is to reach out and introduce your study to them. They may decide to link to your research or feature your research in an upcoming post.

Follow our complete guide to blogger outreach to learn how to do this.

At Ahrefs, we offer plenty of free SEO tools:

Ahrefs webpage featuring free tools

Together, they generate a combined 300K monthly organic visits:

Data showing pages of free tools have lots of traffic

Not only are the users getting a taster of how our product works, but our brand is also top of mind. If they need an upgrade, Ahrefs is the first they’ll turn to. (After all, they already know how it works!)

Not surprisingly, they generate tons of new sign-ups for us:

Person's reply on a registration form that they learned about Ahrefs through a free tool

Here’s how you can replicate it for your SaaS business:

A. Find relevant tools that people are searching for

Like content, tools need to be discovered. So the easiest way is to create something that already has search demand.

Here’s how to do it:

  1. Go to Keywords Explorer
  2. Enter one or more keywords related to your niche
  3. Go to the Matching terms report
  4. Click the Include filter
  5. Toggle Any word
  6. Enter words like “calculator,” “checker,” or “tool” (separated by commas)

You should then see keywords that represent tools people are searching for:

List of keywords like "bitcoin calculator," "btc calculator," etc

B. Create a free tool

Quite likely, all you need to do is to take one of your existing functionalities and create a limited version of it. This is exactly what we do for all of our free tools. For example, our free backlink checker is simply a limited version of Site Explorer’s Backlinks report:

Backlink profile for Ahrefs blog

C. Build links

For your free tool to rank well, you’ll have to acquire links to it. Learn how to do it in our beginner’s guide to link building.

4. Build a community of fans

Ahrefs Insider is our customers-only Facebook group. At the time of writing, it has ~16,500 members:

Header of Ahrefs' Fb page showing 16.5k members

In the group, we frequently post product updates, answer members’ support-related questions, and give tips on how to better use our toolset. But that’s not all we do. Members of the group are welcome to ask questions about SEO or give feedback on what they like/dislike about our product.

The result: We have an engaged community eager to share their knowledge, answer questions, and provide input on our toolset.

For all the industry talk about how marketers should talk and listen to customers, a community is your best bet. We only allow paying customers in the group, so all feedback is qualified and valuable.

Tim Soulo, our chief marketing officer (CMO), shares how we’ve built a community of ardent fans in this video:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=48C-KNdzDeU

If you’re spending lots of resources creating content, it will be a waste just to publish and forget. Instead, make every piece go the extra mile. Turn it into multiple formats.

We do this all the time at Ahrefs. Here are a few examples:

Think of it as a pyramid. Start with one main version, then splinter it into smaller versions for other channels.

Pyramid with 3 levels. Top level is "video content," then "written content," then "social media content"

6. Be a guest on podcasts

Podcasting has exploded in popularity. There are hundreds, if not thousands, of podcasts in any industry. And plenty need guests to come on and share their knowledge.

This presents a great opportunity for any SaaS business to promote itself and tap into the podcast’s audience.

How do you find these opportunities? Here’s what to do:

A. Find podcasts to appear on

The easiest way to find podcast opportunities is to search Google for “best [industry] podcasts.”

Google search results of "best ux products"

Alternatively, you can find a prolific podcaster in your industry and look for podcasts where they’ve been a guest. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Look for someone in your industry who’s been on many podcasts (e.g., Ahrefs’ Patrick Stox)
  2. Paste that person’s domain into Site Explorer
  3. Go to the Backlinks report
  4. Filter for backlinks with their name in the Ref. page title
Backlinks report showing podcasts Patrick has been on

B. Reach out to the host of the podcast

Find the email address of the podcast host, then pitch yourself as a guest.

Paid advertising is relatively straightforward: pay a platform (Facebook, Twitter, etc.) and drive traffic to your website. Plenty of SaaS companies do this because it is direct, measurable, and easy to scale.

Likewise, we use paid ads at Ahrefs too. But with a twist. We use paid advertising to promote our content.

Why? Well, a few reasons:

  • Most people don’t sign up for software after seeing an ad. That’s just not how the buyer’s journey works, and we’re aware of that.
  • We pitch our product in all the content we produce (tactic #1). So each article basically acts as a sales page. Seen from that lens, we’re actually driving traffic to an “educational sales page.”
  • Content needs to be discovered in order for any next step to take place. If no one’s reading your content, then they cannot be educated, link to you, or consume your “sales pitch.”

That is not to say we don’t use paid advertising to get sign-ups. We do. But we only use it for our free tools like Ahrefs Webmaster Tools. It’s a much easier “sell” than trying to convince someone to buy software based on just the first impression.

Read our guide to PPC marketing if you want to learn more about using Google Ads to drive traffic and leads.

Every year, we speak at a number of conferences. And they get us sign-ups:

Written reply of someone who learned about Ahrefs through an event in Bali

Events, like podcasts, are aplenty. You can always find one to share your expertise at. They don’t have to be a 10K-person event; small, local meetups work well too.

If in-person events are not possible, you can always look out for virtual conferences and summits. In fact, Tim did one earlier in the year for the AdWorld online conference.

Which tactics should you use?

Ahrefs is a SaaS. So is your business. But that doesn’t mean you can simply “copy-paste” our tactics and achieve overnight success.

After all, your target customers, industry, pricing, etc., are all different from us.

So how do you decide which tactics you should use for your SaaS?

Assuming you already know who your target customers are (most important step!), I think you’ll like this mental model from David Fallame, marketing director at Be On Deck:

In this metaphor, you need to know:

  1. Which “animal” you’re going after.
  2. Which “hunting tool” you should use.

The first step is to identify your business model. What kind of customers (“animal”) does your SaaS need?

  • Elephants  worth hundreds of thousands of dollars per year
  • Antelopes – worth tens of thousands of dollars per year
  • Rabbits – worth thousands of dollars per year
  • Mice  worth hundreds of dollars per year
  • Flies  worth a few dollars per year

Next, identify the right “hunting tool,” aka your acquisition strategy. There are three main types:

  1. Spears – Require lots of direct human skill and involvement, like sales and business development. For SaaS businesses that target enterprise customers.
  2. Nets – Pull in a large number of potential targets at once, like content marketing. For SaaS businesses that target small businesses.
  3. Seeds – Your customer base grows on its own. Examples are word of mouth and virality. For SaaS businesses that target small businesses or consumers.

For us, our customer base is mainly between the $1K-$10K zone. That is why our content marketing strategy works wonders—it is the right tool for the right group.

Final thoughts

Working in SaaS means hearing the quote “good artists copy, great artists steal” often.

I’ll admit: It’s decent advice. After all, most art is simply a remix of what came before. But I think this advice is taken too far at times. For example, take a look at the homepages of many SaaS companies. They look nearly the same.

Marketing is about differentiating yourself from your competitors. But ironically, by copying each other, everyone ends up looking the same.

In my opinion, there is nothing wrong with copying or following best practices. But always add your own twist. This is how we’ve always done our marketing at Ahrefs. None of the tactics we’ve used are really “unique,” but we’ve always tried to be different.

Just take a look at our homepage and our versus page. Or even our conference banner:

Photo of Ahrefs team and banner with rough sketches on it

You may be inspired by the tactics we’ve executed. But remember: Don’t copy wholesale.

Any questions or comments? Ping me on Twitter.





Source link : Ahrefs.com

The Role of Structured Data & Its SEO Importance: In Search SEO Podcast

By | November 2, 2021






Don’t forget, you can keep up with the In Search SEO Podcast by subscribing on iTunes or by following the podcast on SoundCloud


Summary of Episode 46: Going Deep Into Structured Data & SEO Importance!  

This week we have the wonderful, the delightful, the musical, Jason Barnard here to talk with you all about rich results & structured data markup:

  • Why the “block construct” is so important to Google & what it means for your rich results
  • The changing relationship between rich results and traffic to your site
  • Thinking about structured data beyond clicks

Plus, we take a look at what you could do after being hit by a core update!

Is There Really Nothing to do About Google’s Core Updates? [00:06:44 – 00:18:52]

One thing that caught Mordy’s attention recently was a statement from Gary Illyes of Google who said that bad links to your site are not what’s behind being impacted by the core updates. Mordy, personally, doesn’t think links, in general, are behind the core updates as he believes core updates are the antithesis of links. Meaning, the core updates are all about Google trying to go beyond links and look at content/sites/pages more intrinsically. As Mordy’s mentioned in the past, links are an indirect signal. It’s like judging a meal based on how it looks. It may look great, but it could taste terrible in reality.

Anyways, during this Twitter talk, Mordy got into a nice conversation with Dr. Pete over at Moz about Google’s response/advice to dealing with core updates… which according to Google… is basically to do nothing but create good content. Both Dr. Pete and Mordy just can’t understand why Google says this. Why make these zero-sum statements with no ray of hope?

We know there’s more that can be done after a core update because NOTHING has been as rich and robust when it comes to driving the SEO conversation as the core updates!

Think about it. What’s driven the renewed focus on E-A-T? The core updates! What’s driven the conversation about the QRG vis-a-vis the algorithm? The core updates! What’s driving the conversation about the importance of authority? The core updates! And what introduced the notion of Google being able to take a more qualitative look at content? The core updates!

Yet, despite all of that, we’re supposed to believe there’s nothing to learn from them?!

Let’s look at a case from the last core update, the September 2019 Core Update. Mordy did a piece analyzing the update and one of the things he saw was an interesting pattern among some of the financial sites that lost rankings during the update.

There seemed to be a lot of loan sites impacted by the update so Mordy decided to dive in a bit by comparing the loan sites hit by the September update to those that got through it unscathed. Upon doing so, one of the things that stood out like a sore thumb was the tone of the content.

There were many pages offering a lot of content, or at least what seemed to be comprehensive content, that got hit by the update. But Google seemed to want more than just a comprehensive look at a topic. After comparing the sites that were and weren’t affected by the update it seemed pretty obvious what was going on… Google was interested in how the topic was approached, not only how well it was covered. That is, the “good” sites had no marketing talk in their content on loan information… none. It was all business, straightforward, helpful, and informative content.

The other sites, on the other hand, the ones that got hit, had a lot of content on the page and a lot of good details about the loans they are peddling but within that information was a tinge of marketing. Just a few lines about why this loan type is just the thing for you.

Meaning, it became clear that Google was able to differentiate between pure information and content that while not thin or pure sales talk, is not 100% purely informative.

This type of content analysis is what Google has been striving for years. It’s almost like Google was able to analyze the word choice and as a result, backhandedly pick up on the content’s tone and when that tone was not 100% pure information, Google couldn’t trust it.

But, according to Google, there’s nothing to do and nothing to learn from core updates. As Mordy said, “it’s just so bizarre!”

On the Role & Importance of Structured Data: A Conversation with Jason Barnard [00:18:52 – 00:59:21]

[This is a general summary of the interview and not a word for word transcript. You can listen to the podcast for the full interview.]

Mordy: Welcome to another In Search SEO Podcast interview session and do we have a delicious treat for you today. He is a top-notch SEO consultant, an industry author, and search marketing speaker. He has the best vocal pipes in the industry and is fittingly the host of the SEO is AEO podcast. He is Jason Barnard!

Welcome!

Jason: Thank you for that. Yes, I do like singing and singing the introduction to my SEO is AEO podcast is so much fun.

M: Fun fact. You have an IMDB page, correct?

J: I do. That’s because I did the voice over for five characters including a blue about ten years ago. My wife and I were doing this cartoon with two characters for 3 – 4 years and then we noticed that in order for it continue we’ll need to add in more characters. So I had to do some of the voices. We even wrote in my daughter as blue ’s little sister.

M: Wow, now I’m really tempted to find this cartoon.

So we are going to talk today about rich results. Just to get us all on the same page, what is a rich result?

J: So I’ve been calling them rich elements because to me they’re just elements within a page. To say these are rich results you can say for all Google search results because they’re all rich. The idea for a rich element for me is position zero, the Knowledge Graph, Google My Business, Maps, images, carousels, People Also Ask, and FAQs (which have gone completely nuts in their volume). All of these make Google’s results look richer and richer. Whether you call them rich results or rich elements it’s the same, but rich elements are nice because it ties into blocks which we’ll come to later.

M: Rich Results and the markup that produces them have become a cornerstone of the SEO conversation. How did this happen? Why the rise of the rich result?

J: How it has risen is because users want this rich content. Users would originally have to click on the SERP to get this content so Google decided to put it directly onto the SERP which makes sense. If Google’s aim is to get the user to the answer to their question as quickly and efficiently as possible, it’s clear it has to be on their results. This all goes to having a sort of neutral empathy towards Google, an understanding of their point of view. It’s incredibly helpful for us as SEOs to know what Google is doing to fulfill its needs.

M: Okay, so with the audience on the same page let’s really get into this. You have a 3 pillar construct that I’d **** to get into.

One of the foundations of that is “blocks.” Can you please explain what you mean and how it ties into “rich results?”

J: My concept of blocks is that if you think in blocks everything makes much more sense. If you look at the World Wide Web, your website is simply a block within that World Wide Web. Within your website, you have categories that are blocks. Within those categories, you have pages that are blocks. Within pages, everything in there is a block, your header, article, sidebar, footer, and even H1s and H2s are blocks. So you have blocks within blocks within blocks. Then all of the rich results are blocks too. This makes sense for us as humans and to machines it makes even more sense.

M: And why is that?

J: Because machines need to think in terms of relationships between entities where each block is an entity with a relationship like a parent to a child. If we look at that all of the machines are working on graph theory, entities connect to each other by relationships, blocks make perfect sense.

If you look at linking it’s actually an entity which is a page but also a block linked to another entity which is also a page and a block.

Basically, the block is what allows Google to pull out the rich result and put it on the SERP. It allows Google to construct in its mind the web as blocks/entities with relationships.

M: Do you think Google analyzes each block as its own entity?

J: Cindy Krum, and I agree, thinks that Google is indexing in blocks. So a page is a block, but it will also index a block within a block. If you look at Gutenberg in WordPress, that is a great way as a human being to visualize what’s going on. It forces you to structure, it forces you to think in blocks. You’re feeding a machine (Google) and in order for it to send you traffic you have to present it information in a manner that it can digest easily.

M: Right, I don’t think people understand that Google has limited resources and it wants to see information in the least resource-heavy way possible. It is a funny thing though that Google says it can do these things without markup via machine learning. I’m wondering what you think. Will Google move more in the direction of using machine learning or for the sake of simplicity and using limited resources it will always rely on schema markup?

J: Right now I think of schema markup as a way to confirm to Google what is on your page. I believe Google relies on this precision that we give them so why would they stop?

M: That’s right. There’s really no advantage to machine learning. Why would they do the work themselves when you would do it for them?

J: Exactly. Schema markup is going to be here for a while and anyone not doing it today is liable to miss the boat.

M: There’s a lot of talk about the advantages of using rich results to steer traffic to your site. Is that going to become less of a “thing” with the advent of rich and prolific formats such as the FAQ or How-to? Aren’t the answers now just on the SERP? Are we moving to rich results being a part of Google’s answer engine identity?

J: Yes, we are losing traffic, but maybe one way to change our perspective is to say that my website is one representation of my brand that I completely control. The SERP is another representation of my brand or whatever keywords people are searching and I need to add my brand to that, to get my message across. It’s not just adding in keywords and a meta description. It’s getting my brand message in there so even if they don’t click they’ve read it.

Google is, in a way, phasing out links in search. At the moment, Google doesn’t have as many videos as it would like so maybe the better way to rank nowadays is through video.

M: Right, also for audio content. All things being equal there’s very little audio content.

J: Exactly. I would sometimes ask my clients if they want to consider doing a podcast and they said, “Who cares about podcasts? They don’t rank.” And that’s the point because Google doesn’t have the content. We need to create content that fills these multimedia gaps that Google’s super-rich SERPs are lacking and that users are demanding.

To further bring it out, your social networks is a representation of your brand, your reviews are a representation of your brand. If you take a step back and see that you have all of these representations of your brand which some you control fully and some partially. Your aim is to communicate your message of what you’re offering and why they should buy from you and then they’ll get to your site, presumably when they’re ready to buy.

M: How do you do that though? Or what are some creative ways you’ve seen in getting your message across via the SERP without the click?

J: For the moment, I don’t know if anyone has had any great ideas. Usually with clients, after making sure the technical SEO is good, we then move on to what content can you create to get on the SERP. The idea of creating content for these rich spots shouldn’t be who has the spot, it’s which queries don’t have this rich element that will benefit from it.

I have clients who think all they need to do is write some blog posts. But with blog posts, you’re competing with all the other competing blue links and you’ll need a ton of backlinks into your blog page. You need to optimize the page and put in loads of investment to get anywhere near the top page. But, if you see a SERP that needs a video and doesn’t have one, then create a video. If you think audio will be better then do that. Same for the image gallery or Featured Snippets.

You can also take your content and create it like a series of content, make it episodic. The idea is to give your content this coherence like a TV series. You have your body of work and its elements and each element is for a specific query or topic.

As digital marketers, we can’t look back at the early days and hang our heads and sulk. We need to figure out how to deal with it. Two things are obvious: 1) We’re never going to get that level of traffic again, and 2) The traffic we are getting will have to be much more qualified and we’ll have to find new ways to drive that traffic. As we said early on, people haven’t come up with good ideas, but that doesn’t mean good ideas aren’t going to come.

M: So what’s next? Where do we go from here? We know that Google is obsessed with adding media to the SERP.

J: As I said, we’re looking for qualified visits as opposed to people looking for the weather or the size of a t-shirt. Creating quality, interactive multimedia content that is of true interest to your users. Rather than looking at content think of solutions. What solution am I providing? And not just that, but am I providing a solution to Google’s users? Then I need to prove to Google that I have the correct solution for their users in that context. If your content is cursory, then Google will keep it, if it is more qualified and deeper content then Google will give it to you. If I had one philosophical idea for the future it will be that.

Optimize It or Disavow It



M: If you’re a commerce site and you could only do one, would you create markup for Products or the ever-**** FAQ/How-to?

J: I will say product simply because it’s nearer to the sale and we’re looking to make money. We get over-excited with new toys like voice search, but that’s really just a toy. It’s a generational thing. 15 years ago it was images and now its voice as the younger generation are talking to their machines.

Coming back to FAQ, which has completely exploded in popularity, I have two things to say. One, it’s too early in the buying process (not that you shouldn’t do it, you should) and the second thing is that FAQ is great for the after-sale. If your clients are looking for an answer to a specific question and can’t find an answer they may leave a bad review so FAQs are a great way to keep your clients informed.

M: Thank you, Jason. I really appreciate you coming on. It was so much fun.

J: It was amazing to be on. Thanks for having me.

Tune in next Tuesday for a new episode of The In Search SEO Podcast.

The In Search SEO Podcast Community Question of the Week! 

SEO Community Question #46

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The In Search SEO Podcast

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Google tool for reporting domain verification and user management issues with Search Console

By | November 2, 2021


Google Search Console is piloting a new method to contact Google for support related to Google Search Console. Google opened up previously a method to contact Google about indexing issues. This new tool is to contact Google about domain verification and user management issues with Google Search Console, the company said on Twitter.

New tool. Google said “Earlier this year, we expanded our program for site owners to report urgent bugs or other issues related to indexing. That program has been working well, so we’re expanding it to handle domain verification and user management issues for Search Console.”

Report verification issues. You can now report verification issues in the Google Search Console help docs over here. If all your debugging fails, scroll to the bottom of that help document and click on “report verification issue.”

Report user management issues. You can also report user management issues in a different Google Search Console help doc, over here. If you are having issues with user management in Search Console and you cannot figure it out, click on the “report user management issues” button.

Pilot release. You may not see this feature in the help documents yet. Google said this feature is “currently piloting this in the US only and it should be fully available to all in the US within a week or less.” Plus this is only supported for English now. Google said the company will “reassess the usefulness of a support expansion in this direction in a few weeks.”

Why we care. For some, verifying your domain name and gaining access to Google Search Console can be an issue. These new contact methods will give those having issues more methods to verify and gain access to their sites in Google Search Console. And access to Google Search Console unlocks a ton of useful information, reporting, and debugging for site owners.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz a Contributing Editor to Search Engine Land and a member of the programming team for SMX events. He owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on very advanced SEM topics. Barry’s personal blog is named Cartoon Barry and he can be followed on Twitter here.



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