Daily Archives: November 4, 2021

What Makes an SEO Webinar Great? In Search SEO Podcast

By | November 4, 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

The In Search SEO Podcast Community Question of the Week!

SEO Community Question #39

SEO webinars are more popular than ever, so what gets you to tune in? 

Summary of Episode 39: The In Search SEO Podcast 

In Search SEO Banner 39

This week we have master webinar creator, Anton Shulke, the head of Video Content at SEMRush, who comes on to discuss SEO webinar creation: 

  • Which guests make the best guests & how to handle difficult guests

  • Which webinar and video formats are the most engaging
  • What technical considerations are the most important when creating a webinar

Plus, we get into some tips for building SEO knowledge and insights!

How to Get Started Building Some Serious SEO Knowledge When Time Is Limited [00:04:30 –  00:28:46]

We do this podcast because it’s fun, but also to help people know what’s going on in SEO. Well, a listener of ours, Dave Nix, mentioned on Twitter that he’s new to the industry and it’s hard to get a grasp on everything because it’s not like you can spend all day learning about SEO. Well, you could, but you have to do things like work.

So we wanted to take a break from all the advanced things we speak about to offer Dave and people like Dave some tips on how to build SEO knowledge if you’re trying to get started. By the way, if you’re reading this, please tell us how we can help you and your efforts to gain more SEO insights. That’s what this is all about. Give Mordy a shoutout on Twitter and he will respond and do everything he can to talk about whatever topics or tips would help you!

So we broke down some strategies to build that SEO knowledge without driving yourself crazy and then we’ll share some topics we think you should focus on outside of the traditional recommendations.

1: Read the SEO News



Everyone is going to tell you this. What everyone won’t say is that a lot of what’s out there is a bit fluffy. Our specific recommendation to you is to keep up with Barry Schwartz’s SERoundtable.com. Look, there are some great sites out there, but if you want to get a sense of where things are headed and what’s changing you want SERoundtable. It really helps you understand how things are evolving and for us that’s really important. It’s one thing to know about this big Google announcement or tips on X, Y, and Z in SEO, but what really helps to build that foundational knowledge is having a sense of things and what’s going on. That’s where SERoundtable stands out and it’s not a huge investment of time each day.

2: Interact with the Community



One of the easiest and best ways to learn is to interact with the SEO community. The best way to do that is to go on Twitter, follow a bunch of people, watch and observe and then start to interact… because when you interact you have to back up what you’re saying or make sure it’s right first. When that happens, you really delve into a topic in a way you would not have otherwise and you get that deep learning experience.

Interacting is scary, especially as someone new to the industry, but it’s a must and most people in the SEO industry won’t bite. And even if someone tells you on Twitter, “Well, you don’t know anything about anything,” a) that person’s a jerk and who cares and b) nothing is forever. As you grow in your knowledge your online reputation will become that much stronger.

Now, here’s a list of people who you should follow both because they know a ton and because they’re super nice and helpful. We know we’re leaving a ton of people out and we’re sorry. This is just an abridged list.

  1. Barry Schwartz (Everything after Barry is in no particular order)
  2. Andrew Optimisey
  3. Carolyn Lyden
  4. Cindy Krum
  5. Dr. Pete Meyers
  6. Aleyda Solis
  7. Niki Mosier
  8. Alexis Sanders
  9. Alli Berry
  10. Claire Carlile
  11. Greg Gifford
  12. Eli Schwartz
  13. Mark Traphagen
  14. Eric Enge
  15. Izzi Smith
  16. Valentin Pletzer
  17. Sergey Alakov
  18. Mike Blumenthal
  19. Brodie Clark
  20. Joe Hall
  21. Debra Mastaler
  22. Joy Hawkins
  23. Gianluca Fiorelli
  24. Rand Fishkin
  25. Danny Sullivan and his Search Liaison account
  26. Liraz Postan
  27. Igal Stolpner
  28. Jon Henshaw
  29. Dawn Anderson
  30. Craig Campbell
  31. Marie Haynes
  32. Glenn Gabe
  33. Bill Slawski
  34. Mike King aka iPullRank
  35. John Mueller

There are definitely others… and you might say, “There are so many top-level experts not on this list!” but keep in mind this is not just a list of who to follow but also who to interact with!

3: Run some queries!



One of the best ways you can learn is just by playing around with the SERP. Run a few queries each week, look at the results and see what you can deduct about user intent. What does Google show and why does Google show it? Look at the SERP features that are there today that weren’t there the last time you checked. How does the SERP look on mobile vs. desktop? What’s part of a feature that you may not have played with before? Etc.

This research will a) give you hands-on experience with the SERP and b) help you understand what’s actually happening on the SERP, which is invaluable.

4: Find your own space!



SEO is huge… so many different things, topics, and areas and whatnot. Not all of us are equally suited for each aspect. You may be a super technical person, you may be a content person, you’re super creative, you might like experimenting, you might like analyzing trends, you might like educating, etc. Find what you like, find what skills and SEO areas suit you best, and hone in on that. Obviously, not to the total exclusion of other facets of SEO, but find your home, find your niche. It’s so important to feeling competent!

Let’s move on to some topics we think you should focus on. For Mordy and Sapir these are the big three:

Entities

Machine learning (qualitative analysis) 

SERP features


If you want to get a deeper look into SEO, if you’d rather understand not just how to do SEO but what’s actually going on in SEO, then focus on these three topics.

Obviously, it’s a challenge as these are not super easy areas… so start slow. Read a bit here and a bit there and in a year you can look back and see how deeply you now understand Google’s trajectory.

Entities are super important. How Google understands them is, in Mordy’s opinion, the basis of everything. It’s what he thinks is behind a lot of the recent algorithmic behavior and how Google treats sites.

Machine learning is really an extension of entities but also touches on how well Google understands a query, user intent, and so forth (which is super important for obvious reasons).

Lastly, SERP features, mega important. If you keep up with the tests and changes Google makes to its SERP features you can glean so much! Where Google wants to go, what it can do with machine learning and entity understanding, how accessible it’s making site traffic, which queries are easier than others to win and gain traffic from, etc. Tracking SERP features tells you all of this!

And there you have it! That should be enough to get started. Again, reach out to Mordy and let him know if you have questions and how he can help!

A Behind the Scenes Look at Creating an SEO Webinar: A Conversation with Anton Shulke [00:29:15 – 00:57:41]

[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. I am here on the fly in person with one of my favorite digital marketing personalities, Anton Shulke of SEMRush!

How are you?

Anton: I’m fine, thanks. I **** Tel Aviv.

M: It is a great place. So we’re here to talk about webinars as they are the in-thing in the SEO community. Straight off the bat, what’s the difference between creating a webinar that’s interesting, focused, and shareable (on social media) and a webinar that no one follows?

A: If you can answer the question of why you’re doing this webinar (and not just because it’s your job) then it will be great. If you can’t, then it will be a disaster. If you’re doing it just for exposure then it probably won’t work. It’s like emails. 15 years ago you could send out emails to people and get results, but now people don’t open their emails. It’s the same with webinars.

M: I’m going to call out Google as every time I hear they’re doing a webinar I ignore it. There’s no personality to them. What can you do to make your webinar stand out? How can you make it clear, discernible, and attractive to an audience that’s inundated with webinar content?

A: It is very difficult. Again, the main thing to ask is why are you doing this webinar? Sometimes you’re not doing this webinar for your audience but for your experts. If you get brilliant minds together and instead of talking about your audience you talk amongst yourselves then SEOs will be very happy. Your audience will **** it.

M: I speak to people who **** all of the guests on our show as we have had some big-time guests on the podcast, but for me personally I like having lesser-known SEOs (to put in a better way, those deserving of more publicity) as guests because 1) you can have a much deeper and richer conversation with them at times and 2) there’s a much richer network for these people. Meaning, when I have a smaller name there’s a greater support network.

Can it be overrated to cater to the big names in the SEO industry?

A: Some big names will support you and others they’re so big that you will be so proud to work with them. We try to work with both more and lesser-known SEOs. We want to work with people who want to work with us.

M: Right, we may get hung up on the name, but the name doesn’t always make for great conversation. In my opinion, what makes for great conversations are two relatively humble people (you’re much more humble than I am), who you can connect to. When you connect with somebody, be empathetic, sympathetic, and understand where they’re coming from, that creates for real conversation and that’s sometimes better served with a “lesser-known” person than a more well-known person. Is that true?

A: Absolutely, but remember that you as a host should strike the pain point of your interviewee. If you ask me a question that I don’t know the answer or doesn’t interest me then you will get a stupid, flat, non-interesting answer.

M: One of the reasons some people are tense or scared to do webinars is because of the technical considerations. What equipment do you recommend people to use in terms of cameras, microphones, applications, etc.?

A: Quality is very important. If picture and audio aren’t clear people won’t try and make the effort to watch it. But nowadays it’s so easy to fix that issue which is also why webinars are so popular now because anyone can make them. It’s so cheap and easy to make. That’s not even really the question people should be asking.

One thing that’s important is the webinar format. There’s the classical, one host one guest, but they make for a boring webinar. We do use it. For example, we just did a PPC course webinar for people who didn’t even know what PPC stands for. So we decided to just have one person because if you had five people that will just confuse people. Another reason we’ll do classical is if it’s very technical information that no one is arguing on.

For other types of webinars, we introduced a hybrid format that’s between the boring classical and a round table. It’s a short presentation where afterward four people, including the host, go into a panel discussion. And a lot of experts didn’t want to do it because it was unusual, they were scared. And we were doing all of this live. What we’re doing now can be cut and edited. Our podcasts are done with video and while we cut them after the recording they can be watched live.

M: That’s amazing. What problems come across when you do it live?

A: There can be an issue with the audio where you can’t hear someone.

M: Yeah, I always tell my guests not to use their laptop’s built-in microphone.

A: Right, another issue is bad internet connections. A couple of weeks ago, Hangouts just didn’t open.

M: How can you avoid that?

A: You have to test a couple of weeks before. If they have a bad microphone then you can kindly ask them if they can invest in a $75 microphone.

M: What do you do if it’s a big name in SEO who for someone quite technically adept doesn’t understand to buy a new microphone?

A: When I started I once had a big name in SEO and he told me right before the interview that he can’t do video because his connection is not good and I wanted to scream at him why did he agree to the interview.

Nowadays, I don’t care who they are. Well-known or lesser-known, If you can’t fit our interview-style then it’s off.

M: You’re my idol, Anton.

What’s the biggest mistake you’ve made on a webinar, the most unavoidable? Or to rephrase so I won’t put you on the spot, how do you overcome those mistakes where there’s no way around them?

A: Psychologically, one webinar doesn’t change your life. Good or bad. If there’s a technical issue that goes wrong then I’ll live with that.

M: Right, and sometimes a good webinar can be bad or a bad can be good as you’ll never know until it goes online.

A: Exactly. Once we had Google on a webinar and someone from Google said something that was never put on record before. The next morning, I woke up and found 30,000 views on that webinar.

M: I’m very curious about how you deal with this. A lot of times what Google says may not be exactly where things are. When you have an instance when you know what Google says isn’t the reality how do you handle that?

A: Usually, I’m not part of the webinar. I just arrange them. The idea is to put the right people in the right place because they are much smarter than I am. Let them play and you will get fantastic results.

M: What was the worse thing that happened when doing that because can sometimes backfire, no?

A: Yes, sometimes. After that Google webinar, we wanted Google to be on another webinar with Rand Fishkin and Google said no, we don’t want to do an interview with Rand. But I already called Rand and I was put in a very difficult position so I had to cancel the webinar. It was very upsetting. Google can sometimes be difficult to handle.

M: Are you afraid of Google? 

A: No, I’m not. Why should I be? It’s just that Google doesn’t like the SEO tools as you are probably aware of.

M: Absolutely, which is why I don’t understand it. To be honest with you, if you know your rank, that’s a good thing, and that way you can make better decisions. So who is it hurting?

A: Right. I don’t have a problem with SEO tools as they aren’t lying to a user, they’re not misleading, they’re just technical. Google for some reason doesn’t like SEO tools because they think they’re so clever that we’ll figure everything out. You, the user, should just write good content.

M: If you’re a newbie to webinars, what’s the single most important advice you can give?

A: If you don’t have a solid email list, just don’t do it. For webinar registration, only email works. Promoting on social is great, but very few sign up. We tweet our webinars for only one reason: we tag our speakers and we want to please them. We want to show them that we do care.

M: 100%. There was one podcast we did which got constant retweets, but it’s one of our least-watched episodes because, as what happens with a lot of tweets, people share without reading/listening.

A: Right, and even for yourself. Have you ever retweeted something that you haven’t read?

Optimize It or Disavow It

M: If you had a choice between creating a short, quick, loveable video with actionable tips as a YouTube video or as a webinar, what would you choose?

A: I would do webinars. I use webinars for a reason that people don’t think about. I use webinars as an influencer marketing tool. It’s one of the best influencer marketing tools. I bring people to webinars. They **** to talk and be heard. You give people the right opportunity and they are your friends forever.

M: It’s true. One of the reasons this podcast is great is because we have guests like you on. You can build new relationships, new connections, and new avenues to integrate into the community.

Anton, thank you so much for being on the show. For an on the spot interview with no preparation that was one of my favorites.

A: If I tried to prepare I’m sure it won’t go so well.

M: That might be true for me as well, so next time we speak I won’t prepare either.

A: Okay, nice. Thanks.

SEO News [01:03:00 – 01:07:13 – 01:12:04]

 

New Image Preview Box: Google has launched a new format for the image search preview box! And guess who was the first to spot this testing on the SERP a few months ago, our very own Mordy!

Mobile Search is Super Popular: New numbers on the popularity of mobile for Google search. Google now says that 65% of searches are on mobile!

Local Pack Carousel Tests: Google keeps testing a carousel format for the Local Pack. One recently showed with a carousel of local listings that had an ad stuck atop the carousel!

Fun SEO Send-off Question

 

What TV show character is Google? 

Sapir had no question about it and chose Will Smith from the Fresh Prince of Bel-Air. He’s legendary and iconic. He’s the best and Google is the best.

Mordy went in a bit of a different direction saying since Bing is Seinfeld’s Kramer then Google must be Costanza!

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

About The Author

The In Search SEO Podcast

In Search is a weekly SEO podcast featuring some of the biggest names in the search marketing industry.

Tune in to hear pure SEO insights with a ton of personality!

New episodes are released each Tuesday!





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How to Win SERP Features with the SERP Feature Monitor!

By | November 4, 2021




When should you target a Featured Snippet and when is it not worth your while? What queries are open for a serious ‘People Also Ask’ win? What keywords are more consistent and which are less consistent at bringing up Google’s Video Box? Which sites win in the Top Stories carousels and what are the topics and stories that are propelling them? 

Learn how you can use our fresh out of the oven SERP Features Monitor to help propel your SERP feature strategy and gain the deepest feature insights you’ve ever feasted your eyes on! 

Get ready for a whole new set of insights on Featured Snippets, the People Also Ask box, the Video Box, Top Stories carousel, Product carousels Local Pack, and Hotel Pack! 

How to Win Google SERP Features (& How to Avoid Wasting Your Time on the Wrong Snippets) 

Featured Snippet SERP Feature Monitor Banner

There’s so much written on how to best optimize your pages for Featured Snippet wins. However, a far more important part of Featured Snippet strategy is knowing which keywords to target, which are out of your reach, and which are just not worth your time and effort. In other words, before you can start worrying about optimizing pages, you need a Featured Snippet strategy to tell you which pages to focus on (and even how to best focus on those pages)! 

Enter the SERP Feature Monitor. 

How to Know Which Featured Snippets You Should Focus Your Energies On

A little while back we did a study about Featured Snippet market share. There, we found that one URL occupies a given Featured Snippet 75% of the time. While the other 25% is not a lot, that does give sites some room to work with. 

However, would it be worth pursuing a Featured Snippet that never shares its URL space with multiple sites? Probably not! The SERP Feature Monitor tells you exactly that:

Featured Snippet URL Dominance

The Period Visibility score here tells the entire story for this keyword…. Google strongly prefers the site spendwithpennies.com for the Featured Snippet brought up by the keyword stew recipes. The only reason that the Period Visibility score is not 100% is due to the lack of a Featured Snippet altogether as a result of the unconfirmed July 2019 Google update! 

In terms of priorities, this keyword and the optimization and content creation that would go into winning its Featured Snippet falls down the priority list upon seeing the data here! 

At the same time, seeing Google throw volatility into a given Featured Snippet could be an opportunity for you to put your URL into play. If substantial stability may preclude you winning a Featured Snippet, increased volatility may be your ticket in. Here again, the SERP Feature Monitor proves itself to be invaluable.

Still, there may be changes made to a Featured Snippet’s URL itself that might impact your decision to actively target a specific keyword. Seeing Google move Wikipedia into the zero-position box is not a good sign you’re on your way to a Featured Snippet win. The chances of Wikipedia being moved out of the Featured Snippet is far less than even the most authoritative site. At a minimum, it would be prudent to carefully monitor this keyword’s Featured Snippet URL performance before investing time and money into winning it. (Here, the SERP Feature Monitor allows you to track the URL inside this Featured Snippet and avoid wasting precious resources in haste.) 

The inverse is also true. If the SERP Feature Monitor shows a Wikipedia URL moving out of a Featured Snippet in favor of another URL, that may indicate that Google is opening the market for the keyword. Below is a bit of a rarity, it’s Google removing Wikipedia from a Featured Snippet for the keyword low fare airlines

Featured Snippet Trends

By using the SERP Feature Monitor in this way you can capture the moments Google is searching for new URLs to place within a Featured Snippet. In this particular case, the removal of a site like Wikipedia could mean that Google plans on heavily experimenting with the Featured Snippet and optimizing for it could present you with a rare win! 

Evaluating Featured Snippet Wins

 

Scoring a Featured Snippet is a momentous occasion. But before you uncork the champagne (and make some serious SEO decisions) it’s very important to understand how substantial the win really is. Before you move your CTAs and whatnot over to your newly prized page that sits atop the SERP in a zero-position box you may want to gauge the stability of your placement. 

Certainly, seeing Google oscillate between various URLs may dampen your spirits. That said, assessing how big a Featured Snippet win is needs to take one other consideration into account… such as how often a SERP goes without a Featured Snippet altogether. 

Inconsistent Featured Snippet Trend

In the above case, while Amazon is the only site to win the Featured Snippet for the keyword new book releases over a 30-day period, its Period Visibility score stands at a paltry 35.48%! That’s because for the overwhelming majority of the time Google does not show a Featured Snippet for the query. In fact, if you look back to July 9th, Amazon scored this Featured Snippet for over a week consecutively. Despite this, the overall tendency is for Google not to show a Featured Snippet on this SERP. Making an SEO or content “move” based on this win might be a big mistake.

The bottom line is to properly gauge the advantage of winning a Featured Snippet you need to be aware of all of the trends associated with it. Which, of course, is where the SERP Feature Monitor earns its name! 

 

Get Inside What Makes a Featured Snippet Tick 

 

It’s one thing to monitor Featured Snippet trends and performance, it’s another thing to crack the shell a bit and peek inside what makes a Featured Snippet tick. Getting a bit creative with the SERP Feature Monitor lets us do just that. 

One of the best things about this tool is that it not only gives you the trends per se on a host of SERP features (I’ll get into some of those other features in a bit) but gives you much-needed information about the winning pages themselves.  

Here are the Featured Snippet trends for the keyword prevent burglary

Featured Snippet Trend: Dominant Market Share

 

Going with the notion that the majority of Featured Snippets see the usage of two URLs over a 30-day period it’s clear that the URL from getsafe.com is by far the dominant URL for the keyword prevent burglary. But that’s not the lesson to learn from this Featured Snippet. By looking at the SERP changes presented by the SERP Feature Monitor we get a bit of insight as to the impact of certain optimization changes on Featured Snippet placement: 

Featured Snippet URL Titles

Looking above, you can see that getsafe.com shows a change to the title tag on July 13th by adding the full name of the site into the title that appeared on the SERP (GetSafe Home Security). And the net impact of the change was? Nothing. Meaning, the insertion of the site’s name, while possibly a move that you might think would not be looked upon favorably due to the duplication of it, had no negative effect. Perhaps Google was indeed “displeased”  with the change. That said, the net result was not the loss of the Featured Snippet.

Now, it’s hard to draw a hard and fast conclusion from this one example, but there is an indication that ancillary changes to a page’s title, i.e., those changes that do not add or take away from the main description elements of the title, don’t impact Featured Snippet placement. At a minimum, it’s something to take note of and to find other examples of so that you can draw that concrete conclusion. Which, as should be noted, is something very much within the scope of the SERP Feature Monitor!

Drafting a Strategy to Target Related Questions (People Also Ask) 

 

Related Questions SERP Feature Monitor Banner

Featured Snippets are just one of the SERP features you can hone in on with the SERP Feature Monitor. We’ve also made it easy to access trends on the ‘People Also Ask’ feature (sometimes known as Related Questions). 

The People Also Ask (PAA) feature is both a great opportunity to increase your site’s presence on the SERP and a great way to become befuddled with confusion. Why? Simply because it’s hard to gauge and predict the type of content and intents Google wants to target in the PAA box. When trying to optimize for the PAA box you’re also facing another giant unknown…. how predisposed is Google to changing the URLs within the initial four questions traditionally presented in a PAA box?  

Enter the SERP Feature Monitor! 

Finding the Opportune Way to Enter the ‘People Also Ask’ Fray

One of the interesting things about the PAA box is its subjection to oscillating waves of stability and volatility. That is, there seem to be moments where Google is content to leave the URLs that appear within the top four questions alone and periods where Google is intent on shaking things up a bit!  

Knowing when these moments of volatility arise can be quite useful if you’re trying to get your URL into the top spot within the PAA box. For example, look at the PAA box trends for the keyword what are good dinner ideas

Related Questions Trends Data

From early June through late July the URLs within this keyword’s PAA box are a bit static (discounting a few days in mid-June). In fact, from the time of the unconfirmed July 2019 update until July 27th Google is showing just three initial questions in the PAA box. However, as of July 27th, there was a serious shakeup among the URLs Google shows within the initial four PAA questions! (By the way, notice how short that period is as it appears that the URLs have stabilized by August 2nd.)

Knowing this is important for a few reasons:

1) Seeing Google start to swap URLs among the most desired real estate within the PAA box might be a good time to make a final optimization push to try to get your URL to the top of the PAA box. (This is particularly true if your URL is already within the top four boxes shown.)  

2) Looking at the changes Google makes to the order of the URLs shown within the top four PAA questions is a great way to get inside Google’s head. Notice in our case above, the URL for eatingwell.com disappeared after June 9th and was replaced with a URL from coupons.com

Using the SERP Feature Monitor we can see exactly what URL/content was replaced. 

Here’s the result eatingwell.com used to show within the top PAA questions: 

EatingWell.com PAA Result

Now here’s the coupons.com result the above was replaced with: 

Related Questions Ranking Result

Just looking at the results here alone, it would seem that Google wanted to add an intent into the PAA box that addressed busy folks who don’t have time to cook each ***** and want a way to cook once for the entire week. 

If we move forward to the end of July we can see that Google experimented with removing the coupons.com URL from the top PAA questions. However, this is less about coupons.com and the intent behind the site’s content and more about the cosmopolitan.com URL:

Cosmopolitan Related Question Result

How so?

The coupons.com URL was replaced with one from homemaderecipes.com which targets the exact same intent as the URL from cosmopolitan.com

HomeMadeRecipes PAA Result

Ultimately, cosmopolitan.com remained towards the top of the PAA box and homemaderecipes.com was removed (with coupons.com also being restored). What was added was a URL from pinterest.com offering some dinner ideas. 

At the same time, you can also get a more micro-level look at the intents Google prefers within the PAA by looking at the meta changes a page has made and the impact on PAA rankings that resulted. 

For example, here cosmopolitan.com made a change to its title on July 31st and simultaneously saw its PAA box ranking fall. Upon changing its title yet again the site saw its PAA box prominence return: 

PAA Box Title Changes

[For the record, while the above shows a correlation, the changes in rank could be the result of the period of increased volatility itself. More examples would be needed to draw a hard and fast conclusion. Of course, you could use the SERP Feature Monitor to do just that!]

 

Better Evaluate ‘People Also Ask’ Opportunities

One way to determine which keywords to target for PAA placement is by looking at the overall transiency of the URLs placed among the top four questions. 

Take the keyword *** new release. In this instance, Google only makes use of just four URLs:

Low Competition Related Question Box

Compare that to the keyword *** new toys where Google has experimented with 11 different URLs over a 30-day period: 

High Competition PAA Box

Obviously, it’s going to be easier to get your URL into the initial four PAA questions for *** new toys vs. *** new release (of course, remaining in the top four is another question entirely). 

The point is, using the SERP Feature Monitor to gauge PAA box volatility is a great way to focus your efforts on the right keyword (especially when the keywords are similar as they are here). 

As an aside, have a look at the URL changes Google made with regards to the site gearhungry.com (one of the sites ranking within the PAA box for the keyword *** new toys)

Related Question Meta Changes

You can see that Google had been oscillating between showing two URLs for the site within the top four PAA questions. Notice though, that the more general title What are the best toys for boys ranks better than the more specific title that hones on one age group specifically (i.e., 6-year-olds).

Bottom line, the SERP Feature Monitor goes beyond a skin-deep analysis to offer some substantial SERP feature insights! 

Know What Google Is Looking for Inside the SERP’s Video Box

Video Box SERP Feature Monitor Banner

When using the SERP Feature Monitor to gain insights into Google’s Video Box you could certainly make use of some of the methods we discussed earlier. To that extent, seeing how volatile URL placement within the cards that make up the Video Box is a major asset. The tool even shows you which keywords are and are not entirely applicable to the Video Box altogether… as it does for the keyword cabernet sauvignon:  

Keyword with Irregular Video Box Showing

But like with Featured Snippets and the PAA box, the SERP Feature Monitor helps you dig in a bit deeper! 

URL volatility and keyword applicability aside, the SERP Feature Monitor gives you a front-row view of how Google understands the keyword and what video topics are relevant to it. Moreover, it tells you why certain keywords score a Video Box while similar keywords do not! 

In other words, a keyword can be understood in various ways according to multiple user intents. The question is, does Google’s understanding of a keyword align to the content you created (even when the keyword would generally be considered highly relevant to your site)?

Enter the SERP Feature Monitor! 

Using the SERP Feature Monitor to Understand Video Box Applicability 

Like the trends chart shown earlier, let’s stick with wine. 

As with the keyword cabernet sauvignon, most other wine types don’t produce SERPs that consistently show a Video Box on them. Yet, despite this trend, the keyword spicy wine does regularly produce a Video Box:

Keyword with Regular Video Box Scoring

This might seem odd at first glance. Is there really that much of a difference between the keyword cabernet sauvignon and spicy wine? No, not from a product perspective. However, when it comes to user intent the two keywords are lightyears apart. 

For the keyword cabernet sauvignon, Google, when it did show videos on the SERP, displayed content related to wine tasting and the like. In other words, the content was geared more towards wine connoisseurs. 

Have a look at the content Google shows for spicy wine

Ranking Video Box Content

The video content Google chooses to show here is far more focused on using the wine as a cooking ingredient or as being a part of a meal rather than being an exquisite treat all unto itself. 

In other words, when dealing with a keyword like a cabernet sauvignon, Google sees user intent as being related to wine expertise and so forth. Dial things back a bit and use a more descriptive keyword like spicy wine and Google understands it to be part of an overall culinary experience which deserves a constant Video Box. 

Seeing this, a fine wine site may conclude that there’s no point in targeting a keyword like spicy wine. Or, if they do choose to do so, they at least now know what sort of video content will rank on the SERP! 

Bottom line, by using the SERP Feature Monitor you’re better able to know which of your keywords are deserving of video content and in what context. 

Discover What’s ***, What’s Not, & What Works Inside Google’s Top Stories Carousel

 

News Box SEPR Feature Monitor Banner

Google’s News Box, aka Top Stories carousel, is one seriously dynamic SERP feature. This, of course, makes sense since “the news” is an ever-changing arena. Due to this,  the insights provided by the SERP Feature Monitor are also more dynamic when it comes to Google’s Top Stories. When dealing with Google’s news carousel, how do you know which keywords work, what topics are current, which news items are coming into focus, and what type of stories win out? 

Enter the SERP Feature Monitor!

 

Which News Content Is Coming Into Focus & Which Never Has to Begin With?

 

When it comes to the news there are certain topics that are always newsworthy, as you can see below for the keyword democrat

Consistent Top Stories Keyword

At the same time, there are keywords out there that you may think to optimize for without doing a thorough investigation beforehand. How could you lose with the keyword US news? Well, have a look: 

Lack of Top Stories for News Keyword

The SERP Feature Monitor, like it does with Featured Snippets, PAA Boxes, and the Video Box, can save you from wasting precious time and resources on keyword optimization when the keyword is a total loss. 

At the same time, when it comes to the news what was once a dead topic can receive new life. Elections are a great example of this. Topics that have not been relevant for years are suddenly *** again. And, of course, the SERP Feature Monitor lets you know when this is happening… just see below: 

Keyword Reappearing with News Box

Learn What Stories Win Inside of Google’s Top Stories Carousel 

Beyond top-level insights, the SERP Feature Monitor can help you discover which facets of an overall news topic are winning on the SERP. In other words, a new story is generally multifaceted with certain sub-topics being more and less essential to the overall story. By showing you the titles for the news articles Google is placing within the Top Stories carousel, you now have easy access towards knowing which facets of a news topic Google considers to be highly relevant.   

With the US presidential election again coming into focus, the keyword debate (as in candidate debates) is a *** news topic. However, not all takes on the presidential debates are equal. Here’s a look at the actual stories and their Top Stories ranking: 

Top Ranking Article Titles

Overall, the above shows a clear preference for the first slot in the Top Stories carousel… winners and losers. News content that focused on who stood to gain or lose the most from the debates and subsequently who ended up gaining and losing the most as a result of the debates ranked a bit higher than other related topics. 

 

This is particularly pertinent when the news topic is a bit cyclical, as it is here. With more debates coming as the US election kicks into full gear publishers who did not rank well in the Top Stories carousel this time around will get another crack at it. Now armed with information from the SERP Feature Monitor, they stand a real shot at dominating Google’s news carousel. 

Bottom line, the SERP Feature Monitor offers you both macro and micro level news topic insights to help you improve your Top Stories rankings! 

Get a Grip on Local Pack (and Hotel Pack) Consistency to Find New Opportunities

Local Pack SERP Feature Monitor Banner

The Local Pack is probably one of the most important features on the SERP as it has a direct effect on sales and revenue. The same holds true for its cousin, the Hotel Pack (which unlike the Local Pack sports four listings and a heap of ancillary information).

Knowing where your listing ranks on average within a Local Pack or Hotel Pack goes without saying. However, going beyond a skin-deep analysis can yield a tremendous advantage. How consistent are listings shown? How volatile is a Local Pack (or Hotel Pack) overall? Where is there room to enter the fray? Where are you just wasting your time banking on Local Pack rankings?

Enter the SERP Feature Monitor!

Which Local Listings Do You Optimize First

If you’re anything like me, your day is filled to the brim and prioritization is the key to survival. If you’re facing a boatload of local listings to work on where do you start? Well, you might start with the listings where optimization has the highest ceiling while avoiding listing optimization that has little to no immediate purpose (all things being equal as that’s a very complex equation with more than one consideration).

For example, the keyword bbq pizza is definitely relevant for Local Pack consideration in Orlando:

Consistent Local Pack on SERP

This is not the case for the same keyword in Miami, as odd as that sounds:

Minimal Local Pack Relevance Keyword

This is powerful knowledge as it may mean focusing on different aspects of a business’s online presence in the various markets it services.

Where Local Packs and Hotel Packs are consistent, the question still remains a good one… which listings should take priority?

Have a look at the keyword beach resorts in san diego ca. The listings in the Hotel Pack are incredibly stable. Nothing much is moving as of late compared to how volatile a Hotel Pack usually is. You might want to consider other channels to drive traffic in such a case if you’re not one of the four listings Google shows.

Consistent Rankings in Hotel Pack

Compare that to the keyword ice cream in st. louis. Here you can see that Google now tends to experiment with what is shown inside the Local Pack. If you have a listing that needs some TLC, a keyword like this might be a good place to start as there’s a tremendous upside in optimizing a GMB listing that can rank here!

Local Pack Listing Test

In the above example, you can see that Google is toying with the notion of ranking Gelato Di Riso. Pushing the button on optimization for this listing might just move the needle. At a minimum, starting with particular this listing makes serious sense.

Harness the Power of Reviews

Because the SERP Feature Monitor catches more than just ranking trends, you can see where a campaign to shore up solid reviews will be most profitable. The tool records the ratings of a listing at each position change.




Take the below for instance. When the listing had a rating of 4 it was the first business listed in the Local Pack. When that rating dropped to 3.6 Google demoted it to be #3. A day later when the rating went back up to 4 the listing’s top spot in the Local Pack was returned to it.

Local Pack Rank Loss with Rating Change

The SERP Feature Monitor tracking a change in Local Pack rank that correlates to a change in the listing’s rating

Now, that could just be a correlation and a more thorough analysis is needed. The point though remains the same. You can use the SERP Feature Monitor to see how impactful increases/decreases to a listing’s rating are and work to capitalize on that knowledge!

Just a Tip of the SERP Feature Analysis Iceberg 

 

Tip of the Iceberg

There are so many considerations when trying to crack the nut that is SERP feature success. At risk of stating the obvious, what I’ve shown here with the SERP Feature Monitor are just a few ways you can get real SERP feature insights. The point of the SERP Feature Monitor goes well beyond any example I could offer you. The tool was developed to make it easy to isolate SERP feature trends while giving you a deep look into what is driving those trends. With that fundamental goal in mind, the actual way you can use the tool and the insights you glean from it are as individualized as your very SEO practices! 

Let us know how you’ve used the tool and any other suggestions you may have! 

You can find the SERP Feature Monitor inside the Rank Ranger UI under: Reports>SEO>Campaign Reports 



About The Author

Shay Harel

Shay Harel is the CEO of Rank Ranger, an innovative and comprehensive SEO & digital marketing Saas platform. In addition to overseeing company growth, Shay can be found tapping away on his keyboard developing new and unique SEO data reports.

When not hard at work helping guide the SEO industry, Shay enjoys spending time with his family, strumming his guitar, exploring exotic places, and indulging in fine wine from his growing collection.



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