tag:econsultancy.com,2008:/topics/seo Latest SEO content from Econsultancy 2018-04-23T13:39:00+01:00 tag:econsultancy.com,2008:Report/3008 2018-04-23T13:39:00+01:00 2018-04-23T13:39:00+01:00 Internet Statistics Compendium Econsultancy <p>Econsultancy’s <strong>Internet Statistics Compendium</strong> is a collection of the most recent statistics and market data publicly available on online marketing, ecommerce, the internet and related digital media. </p> <p><strong>The compendium is available as 11 main reports across the following topics:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/advertising-media-statistics">Advertising</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/content-statistics">Content</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/customer-experience-statistics">Customer Experience</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/web-analytics-statistics">Data and Analytics</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/demographics-technology-adoption">Demographics and Technology Adoption</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/uk/reports/ecommerce-statistics">Ecommerce</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/email-ecrm-statistics">Email and eCRM</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/mobile-statistics">Mobile</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/search-marketing-statistics">Search</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/social-media-statistics">Social</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/strategy-and-operations-statistics">Strategy and Operations</a></strong></li> </ul> <p>Updated monthly, each document is a comprehensive compilation of internet statistics and digital market research with data, facts, charts and figures. The reports have been collated from information available to the public, which we have aggregated together in one place to help you quickly find the internet statistics you need - a huge time-saver for presentations and reports.</p> <p>There are all sorts of internet statistics which you can slot into your next presentation, report or client pitch.</p> <p><strong>Sector-specific data and reports are also available:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong><a title="B2B Internet Statistics Compendium" href="http://econsultancy.com/reports/b2b-internet-statistics-compendium">B2B</a><br></strong></li> <li><strong><strong><a title="Financial Services and Insurance Internet Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/financial-services-and-insurance-internet-statistics-compendium/">Financial Services and Insurance</a></strong></strong></li> <li> <strong><a title="Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals Internet Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/healthcare-and-pharmaceuticals-internet-statistics-compendium/">Healthcare and Pharmaceuticals</a></strong><strong> </strong> </li> <li><strong><a title="Retail Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/retail-statistics-compendium/" target="_self">Retail</a></strong></li> <li><strong><a title="Travel Statistics Compendium" href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/travel-statistics-compendium/" target="_self">Travel</a></strong></li> </ul> <p><strong>Regions covered in each document (where data is available) are:</strong></p> <ul> <li><strong>Global</strong></li> <li><strong>UK</strong></li> <li><strong>North America</strong></li> <li><strong>Asia</strong></li> <li><strong>Australia and New Zealand</strong></li> <li><strong>Europe</strong></li> <li><strong>Latin America</strong></li> <li><strong>MENA</strong></li> </ul> <p>A sample of the Internet Statistics Compendium is available for free, with various statistics included and a full table of contents, to show you what you're missing.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69941 2018-04-12T09:30:00+01:00 2018-04-12T09:30:00+01:00 Is it time to have another look at Accelerated Mobile Pages? Stuart Shaw <p>Like other search agencies, at Zazzle Media we’ve been banging the ‘site speed’ drum for a while with an aim to improve user experience (among other factors). When we first started to see AMP within the search engine results pages (SERPs) in February 2016, there was a real worry that preference would be given to sites that had shelled out and undertaken the work required, essentially creating a two-tier search environment; where sites could find a glass ceiling beyond which only those with funds (and patience) would be adequately rewarded.  </p> <p>With a <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69908-google-s-mobile-first-indexing-is-finally-rolling-out-here-s-what-you-need-to-know/">mobile-first index</a> now a reality and <a href="https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-in-mobile-search.html">a January 2018 announcement from Google</a> about how page speed will be a stronger ranking factor on mobile searches from July 2018 - there has never been a better time to look at this and honestly ask yourself - do I need AMP?</p> <p><a href="https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/mobile/">Google’s speed scorecard</a> may help you to immediately answer that question, but if not - have a quick read of this...</p> <h3>What is AMP?</h3> <p>These are pages created from the open-source website publishing technology provided by Google and a number of collaborators. It's implemented in a similar manner to <em>rel=alternate</em>, however using <em>rel=amphtml</em> instead.</p> <p>The pages themselves are effectively made from three components:</p> <p><strong>AMP HTML:</strong> Similar to the HTML we all know and love, AMP HTML has some custom tags, properties and a great many restrictions.</p> <p><strong>AMP JS:</strong> JavaScript has long been held up as a major culprit in slow loading sites. AMP JS does away with loading any third-party JS, manages the resource handling and ensures asynchronous loading (reducing total load time).</p> <p><strong>AMP Caching:</strong> Most pages are delivered by Google’s AMP Cache/CDN. However, depending on your hosting and CDN package, you may find that alternative providers will support your content. </p> <h3>Why use AMP?</h3> <p>The key reason - and the only major consideration we’ll discuss - is speed. We often find that custom or outdated CMS’ struggle to fully implement major site speed improvements and, in many cases, the server specs aren’t fantastic either. With AMP you effectively sidestep those issues. The content is forced into being resource efficient and caching is provided once indexed. The only other requisite is that you can add a the rel=amphtml tag mentioned above. </p> <h4>Some caveats:</h4> <p>It wouldn’t be Google without some caveats to any seemingly beneficial change:</p> <ul> <li>The page will need to be kept up to date (potentially outside of your CMS)</li> <li>As of February 2018, Google confirmed the content should match the desktop/canonical version</li> </ul> <p>Sure, all you’ve done is improve things for your mobile users - and only on the few scant pages that you’ve implemented AMP on - but optimisation isn’t about making things perfect in an instant, it’s a gradual process that must adapt to the ever changing ‘techscape’ that is search.</p> <h3>“But...my site is already fast, am I being held back because I won’t conform?”</h3> <p>Yes...perhaps...but maybe not for long (also good work getting a fast site!). It’s unlikely to be as fast as a well-created AMP version but you’ve clearly shown a great commitment to UX and I’m guessing you’d like a reward - well you’ll probably be getting one, soon.</p> <p>Straight from the horse's mouth, the AMP Project provided <a href="https://www.ampproject.org/latest/blog/standardizing-lessons-learned-from-amp/">a March 2018 update</a>. </p> <p>Key points raised by Malte Ubl (Tech Lead for the AMP Project at Google) were as follows:</p> <ul> <li>AMP was designed to help Google understand how to build a user-first web experience.</li> <li>Based on learnings it is looking to support more instant-loading content that isn’t AMP based.</li> <li>A new set of web standards will still need to be fulfilled.</li> <li>Web packaging will be used to provide privacy-preserving pre-loading, which is great because the packaging isn’t AMP specific, allowing for the instant loading of all web packaged content.</li> <li>Current AMP specific search features such as ‘<a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69803-google-brings-the-popular-stories-format-to-amp-is-it-worth-using">Top Stories</a>’ will be opened up for packaged content, allowing for non-AMP content to appear here.</li> <li>Google restated its intention to learn as much as possible from AMP stories.</li> <li>AMP will remain Google’s pathway to creating great user experiences and will continue to receive investment.</li> </ul> <p>Many developers and web professionals have deliberately shunned AMP, seeing it as a Google-owned project being implemented into an otherwise 100% open-source system of glorious (and flawed) HTML. This recent announcement suggests that Google intends to be slightly more open with the benefits, which is a welcome step in the right direction.</p> <h3>Not just for news</h3> <p>AMP is still trying to shrug off the perception that it only has worth within article/news based content, but when you look at one of the UK’s largest keywords (car insurance) the mobile SERP speaks for itself:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3523/1amp_insurance.png" alt="insurance amp results" width="300"></p> <p>In addition to three out of the top four listings being AMP pages, position six is also occupied by a ‘latest stories’ section (shown below), followed by regular non-AMP pages.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3524/2_amp_new_insurance.png" alt="amp news results insurance" width="300"> </p> <p>Correlation doesn’t always equal causation - especially given that the first port of call for financial products are branded searches or comparison tools - but with the SERP being so dominated by the AMP symbol you do have to consider the impact these pages may be having on both the search results and how users perceive their expected experience on such pages (quick!). </p> <p>At the very least, I hope this post has reignited your interest in AMP for your business, and opened up a discussion about whether it’s right for you or if you’re happy to wait for Google to meet you in the middle.</p> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide"><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3235/SEO_Best_Practice_Widget.png" alt="seo report banner" width="615" height="243"></a></p> <p><em><strong>Econsultancy also offers <a href="https://econsultancy.com/training/courses/seo-training">SEO training</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69904 2018-03-28T09:15:00+01:00 2018-03-28T09:15:00+01:00 Do Google's single-result SERPs raise more questions than answers? Kevin Gibbons <p>It’s more than just an idle question. Last week <a href="https://searchengineland.com/google-search-results-page-displays-answer-without-search-results-294076">Google ran an experiment getting back single answer pages</a>. This was later confirmed by Danny Sullivan (now Google’s public liaison of search), stating the project has concentrated on queries around local time, conversion of units and <a href="https://twitter.com/rustybrick/status/974646388272320513">calculations</a>.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">Because we only are experimenting with that for local time, unit conversion &amp; calculator</p> — Danny Sullivan (@dannysullivan) <a href="https://twitter.com/dannysullivan/status/974159207288066050?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">15 March 2018</a> </blockquote> <p>With these queries there is only ever an undeniable single answer. 'The time in NYC', '100 multiplied by 47' or 'litres in a gallon' are known and are not up for debate.</p> <p>Danny further <a href="https://twitter.com/dannysullivan/status/976192861757673473">revealed</a> towards the end of March that the initiative had received enough feedback and the “condensed view experiment” had come to an end. Early results indicated that they had decreased page load time by a significant 0.5 seconds.</p> <p>It’s going to raise a lot of speculation in the search industry – could the experiment point to what could one day be the norm? If so, what would be the impact? And could it even go further for different types of search query?</p> <p>This raises four fundamental questions Google will need to address before it decides if the experiment is acted on.</p> <h3><strong>1. What impact might this have on publishers?</strong></h3> <p>For any site involved in niche content providing answers to these time, calculator and unit search queries, the future could be bleak.</p> <p>Their business model is clear. If they rank highly on Google, they drive traffic to an advertising-supported site which displays the answer. Take away the click-throughs, because people already have the answer, and these sites have lost a huge source of revenue.</p> <p>If it moves searchers away from having to click into content build solely for the purpose of ad impressions, few can argue that it’s not providing a better search experience:</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3200/featured-snippets.png" alt="Google featured snippets " width="500"></p> <p>Google would undoubtedly inflict serious harm on a wide slice of niche publishers without any noticeable revenue loss to itself. Will Google throw these sites under the proverbial bus to offer users a simpler, cleaner experience?</p> <p>If it improves the user experience and comes at no cost to Google, I wouldn’t bet against it. Would you?</p> <h3><strong>2. Does this make Google anti-competitive? Again?</strong></h3> <p>Does Google really want to start limiting who gets access to its search results pages, again?</p> <p>The European Commission handed it <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69213-how-europe-s-2-7bn-google-antitrust-fine-could-impact-the-internet-economy">a record €2.7bn fine</a> for anti-competitive behaviour last June – an <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/sep/11/google-appeals-eu-fine-search-engine-results-shopping-service">appeal</a> was launched three months later.</p> <p>The case had been going on for several years and boils down to whether the company was unfairly shutting out competition by providing quick answers (such as flight times and maps) as well as shopping results in boxes that appeared to be only available to its own companies.</p> <p>Moving forwards, Google would surely struggle to justify providing a single answer in a box, with no accompanying organic listings, that only promoted one of its own sources of data.</p> <p>If it made the solo answer a “best of” what the internet has to offer, perhaps it could get around this. However, it would need to find a way to rate how useful answers on third party sites truly are.</p> <p>Picking its own content at the expense of other publishers or picking one third party above all others raises the risk of Google being seen to create a new way to be anti-competitive. Will it want to risk infuriating the European Commission, again?</p> <h3><strong>3. Does this make Google a publisher?</strong></h3> <p>This has been a hugely contentious issue for Google. At what stage does it consider itself a publisher? When does it move from being a resource pointing people in the direction of someone else’s content to assume responsibility for the content?</p> <p>Culture Secretary, Karen Bradley, <a href="https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2017/oct/11/government-considers-classifying-google-facebook-publishers">announced last October</a> that the Government is considering re-categorising Google, as well as Facebook, as publishers. The authorities are concerned over copyright infringements and the spread of extremist content. They feel these would be better tackled if platforms accepted their responsibility as a publisher, rather than continuing to say they are conduits for others to share information.</p> <p>The moment Google provides a single answer, rather than a series of listings from which an answer may be sought, it surely moves the result from opinion to fact and makes them closer to being a publisher, doesn’t it?</p> <p>It would be very hard to argue Google isn’t a publisher if the single answer comes from one of its own companies. There might be an argument still if it selects what it considers to be the best answer from a variety of sources it does not control.</p> <p>Even so, providing an answer, rather than a list of resources moves Google in to the realms of publisher, or at least editor.</p> <h3><strong>4. Fake News</strong></h3> <p>The US General Election and the Brexit Referendum have seen the term “fake news” become an everyday phrase.</p> <p>So, if Google was ever going to go beyond obviously objective queries and results such as 'what time is it in Calcutta?' and 'how many yards in a kilometre?' – how could it ensure the single answer it went for is correct?</p> <p>What answer would it give for how many people attended <a href="https://www.factcheck.org/2017/01/the-facts-on-crowd-size/">Trump’s inauguration</a>, for example?</p> <p>If it were to ever go for a rating system of third party sites, it wouldn’t be hard to imagine how open to abuse that might be potentially be. If it decided one publisher was more trustworthy than another, there would be accusations of bias.</p> <p>If it opted for a Google company, it could verify where the data is coming from but would surely be open to more anti-competitive accusations.</p> <h3><strong>Will Google go there – what do you think?</strong></h3> <p>Google is always focussed on improving searcher experience and bringing in shareholder value. The sweet spot where these meet is normally the direction of travel most likely to be favoured.</p> <p>When it comes to SEO listings it could be argued that neither improve either consideration. Ten choices of how to find out the time in Sydney doesn’t help a user more than a simple answer which comes at the cost of organic links which don’t boost Google profits anyway.</p> <p>However, a single answer with PPC results at the top of the page, and no organic listings, would be the only scenario where both user experience is simplified and Google’s bottom line can still swell.</p> <p>But will it ever go there? Maybe it would consider a trial becoming reality for the limited answers it has already experimented with.</p> <p>But wouldn’t this send Google in a direction where user experience is blighted by a lack of choice? Receiving a single selected answer to a question is one thing. Having no choice of additional content is quite another.</p> <p>The interesting thing is this is exactly how voice search works and if the expected growth (50% of searches to be voice by 2020, comScore) comes anywhere close to this, it’s a challenge they are going to have to face soon one way or the other.</p> <p>Google’s meteoric success is in steering people to a list of places that are most likely to help them discover what they’re looking for.</p> <p><strong>Can you please everyone with a single answer? Surely it’s a step too far, isn’t it?</strong></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69880 2018-03-20T12:15:00+00:00 2018-03-20T12:15:00+00:00 What are rich search results and how can you get them? Andy Rich <p>There are also rich results for marketers to take advantage of. These are the cards and snippets that enhance normal page results with images, ratings, reviews and other quantitative information featured on your site. Setting up your site to provide rich results will help your business stand out.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3059/rich_results.jpg" alt="rich results" width="500"></p> <h3>What are rich results?</h3> <p>There are thousands of uses for a web page, and even more ways to code and structure it - causing a headache for the bots that crawl and index sites. Rich results are designed to highlight key information and help search engines understand a page's purpose as accurately as possible. This means less guesswork for Google and more relevant results for users.</p> <p>Rich results are made up of rich snippets and new rich cards –offering more image space and a carousel feature. To make the most of rich results for your site, you’ll need to tag up: </p> <ul> <li>breadcrumb navigation </li> <li>corporate contact information and logos</li> <li>sequential carousels </li> <li>search boxes and social profile information to be displayed in results </li> </ul> <p>Individual content types can also be tagged up, including: </p> <ul> <li>news and blog articles </li> <li>books </li> <li>big data sets </li> <li>training courses </li> <li>events </li> <li>jobs and occupations </li> <li>local business details (including contact information and opening times) </li> <li>product information (including pricing, stock and reviews) </li> <li>fact check confirmation </li> <li>media such as music, podcasts, videos and TV and movie information </li> </ul> <h3>What are the benefits of rich results?</h3> <p>Rich results appear at the top of the results page - often in the coveted "position zero" above traditional text results. So, even if you aren't ranking top in the traditional results, you will still be the first thing users see on a search results page. </p> <p>They’re also presented in boxes, often accompanied by an image and star rating, making them quicker and more useful than traditional results. These boxes can have a carousel design that lets users swipe through answers for more information.</p> <p>Detailed rich results present a more enticing prospect for users to click through to your site – and search engine algorithms love high click-through rates, often boosting rankings for your website.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3060/rich_results_2.jpg" alt="rich results" width="450"> </p> <p>Rich results also work seamlessly with voice search. Featured snippets that appear in “position zero” are the results that are read aloud when using voice search on devices such as Google Home and Siri – ideal when you’re on the move or have your hands full.</p> <p>Rather than a whole page of results, voice assistants read out the single featured snippet or rich result. So, if you’re in the top spot, all the exposure is yours. If these results are in the form of a local business profile or a product then users can visit your physical location or buy the relevant product online - all through voice commands. (See more on <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69717-remove-the-waffle-from-your-content-or-risk-failure-in-voice-search">Search Quality Rating Guidelines for voice assistants</a>)</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3056/answer.jpg" alt="rich result" width="500"></p> <p>Rich results boast technical benefits too. Tagging pages for easier crawling of your site means more relevant results are returned - encouraging users to click through to the page. It also means that users are presented with the precise answer, product or information they were expecting - decreasing your site’s <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69247-bounce-is-back-and-product-pages-are-to-blame">bounce rate</a> (when users visit a page but then jump back to the results without interacting with anything) and also helping to improve results.</p> <p>There is speculation that Google will add structured data highlighting to its ranking algorithms. The idea was <a href="https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=1300&amp;v=QWL864VlW7I">first touted in 2015</a>, so having this mark-up working correctly on your site ahead of the game can be a big bonus if, and when, it comes into play.</p> <h3>How do I tag rich results? </h3> <p>Rich results can be marked-up many ways, based on a language called <a href="https://schema.org/docs/full.html">Schema</a> - the universal vocabulary used for tagging pages that’s understood by every search engine. It’s most easily added using the JSON-LD format - a chunk of code in a script that can be added in the top of the page to annotate the relevant elements that already exist, like pricing, reviews, answers and contact details. </p> <p>Learn the JSON-LD format with <a href="https://moz.com/blog/json-ld-for-beginners">Moz's beginners’ guide</a>. Then assemble your code using the <a href="https://www.google.com/webmasters/markup-helper/">Google Markup Helper</a>. Then add the code to Google Tag Manager to finish. Schema plugins exist for the most common web platforms like WordPress, Magento, Shopify, Drupal and Magento - but these are often less flexible and not as accurate as creating your Schema manually.</p> <p>Google’s <a href="https://search.google.com/test/rich-results">rich results test tool</a> reviews URLs to see which potential rich results your page is eligible for. The tool also highlights any errors or suggestions for your structured data and previews your rich result on Google to show how your result will look on both mobile and desktop. This is currently only available for job postings, recipes, courses and movies - but we expect this will increase as time goes on.</p> <p>Use Google Search Console to view your overall rich results presence, rather than page by page. Here, you can see your structured data grouped by type (again for job postings, recipes, courses and movies only), and check for both critical and non-critical errors. Use the data to fix any page errors and see which items can be enhanced further to include more fields.</p> <h3>How do I get the most from my rich results?</h3> <p>Optimising your website to appear in rich results will boost your ranking and traffic. Here are some tips on how to make the most of your rich results:</p> <h4>1. Provide partial answers or additional information to get people clicking through to your page</h4> <p>Ranking for an instant answer that gives away the entirety of your article within the answer itself means you’ll miss out on clicks to your site. Including additional information on the page itself gives users an incentive to click through – and gives you traffic, leads and sales.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/3055/cat_facts.jpg" alt="partial answer" width="500"></p> <h4>2. Create content in the format search engines prefer</h4> <p>To rank for a particular rich snippet, make sure the content you’ve created matches what is currently ranking – be it a listicle, a long form blog, an FAQ page, whitepaper or slideshow.</p> <h4>3. Make sure your on-site experience matches up</h4> <p>Give users who click through to your site a high-quality experience with fast-loading pages (through technologies such as <a href="https://www.redhotpenny.com/insight/accelerated-mobile-pages-amp-ultimate-guide/">Accelerated Mobile Pages</a> and site speed tweaks). Provide quality content, in-stock products with up-to-date information and an intuitive navigation and user experience.</p> <h4>4. Optimise your site with <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide">organic search best practice</a> </h4> <p>Content won’t automatically rank with rich data highlighting. Your site needs to follow <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-in-2018-industry-experts-tell-marketers-what-they-need-to-know/">current SEO guidelines</a> to rank well. </p> <h4>5. Encourage reviews</h4> <p>Reviews and star ratings are a key way of building trust in your product or business. Many rich results pull through star ratings directly to the search page, so you need to have genuine and positive reviews with testimonials from satisfied customers.</p> <h4>6. Write in a natural style</h4> <p>Snippets rely on well-written and structured content, and product copy written in a conversational style. This is also key for voice search, so make sure your written content is up-to-scratch.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3519 2018-03-08T16:02:56+00:00 2018-03-08T16:02:56+00:00 SEO Marketing <p>Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is becoming increasingly tricky - continuous innovations between the rival search engines, coupled with increased activity from your competitors, means that you have to identify the right strategy for your business to rank well.</p> <p>This SEO training course will enable you to build an organic search marketing strategy that will mean more of the right kind of visitors to your website, boost online conversions and stand out in today’s fiercely competitive online marketplace, ensuring the best possible return on investment.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:TrainingDate/3516 2018-03-08T16:00:23+00:00 2018-03-08T16:00:23+00:00 SEO Marketing - Advanced <p>SEO is a complex subject and for those wishing to move their knowledge beyond the basics, this course has been designed for the intermediate to advanced learner. There is lots to consider when optimising for maximum visibility through search. From key phrase research and query audits, to content strategy, page mark-up and site architecture. Getting all these things right is key to grabbing customers who know what they want, but not where to get it from.</p><p>Providing you with a structured process to improve your results from SEO, an industry expert will lead this one-day workshop, reviewing attendees' existing optimisation approaches, analytics and tools against their top-performing competitors and best practice.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69856 2018-03-08T09:18:00+00:00 2018-03-08T09:18:00+00:00 Overcoming bias in the SEO & PR industries Lexi Mills <p>It took a lot of hard work to develop a skill set to design and execute on integrated PR SEO campaigns and data-driven PR reporting and strategies. Once I had worked this out I could show others how to do it. This is when I experienced the greatest conflict and biases.   </p> <p>The challenges I had to overcome may have looked gender based on the outside, due to the gender split between the industries. However, in my view, the conflict is more a consequence of misunderstanding and mistrust between each discipline.</p> <p>Historically, the differences between SEO and PR and the personalities they attracted were at odds with each other. When SEOs and PRs came into contact with each other, both groups had adverse experiences interacting with each other.  </p> <p>The discrimination on both sides was often unconscious and largely underpinned by alternative backgrounds, jargon, etiquettes, cultures and behaviours. They were both territorial, fearful that one industry would swallow up the other.</p> <p>The PR industry has grown <a href="https://www.holmesreport.com/long-reads/article/global-pr-industry-now-worth-%2415bn-as-growth-rebounds-to-7-in-2016">to $15bn</a>. Spending on digital communications has grown as well – in-house communications leaders' digital budgets are rising. Some figures have the global SEO industry worth <a href="https://searchengineland.com/seo-industry-worth-65-billion-will-ever-stop-growing-248559">as much as $65bn</a>. These are large sums to win—or lose. </p> <p>The relationship building between these two industries is on-going. Many agencies in both the PR and SEO fields have made leaps and bounds in hiring and developing specialists from both sectors and combining these two skillsets. Having helped agencies in both sectors and in-house teams do this, I have found a few common approaches that have been effective in achieving smooth and impactful integrations and reducing bias.</p> <h3>Humour over anger with unconscious bias</h3> <p>Now of course, there are some circumstances where you need to address an issue with seriousness. But, let’s only do that when absolutely necessary.</p> <p>The language and manner we use to challenge bias is important. Our brains do not function well when we are in heightened states of emotion. Getting angry is simply less likely to bring about reasonable discussions with others.  </p> <p>Humour can be far more productive, the moment the PR and SEO teams start laughing together I know we are on track to getting some great results, because I have noticed a correlation between the ability to do this and the ability to have tough conversations. </p> <p>It is important to recognise someone’s intent, separate that from their actions, and react accordingly. We need to find ways to communicate against unconscious biases through channels that can be heard, humour is one of the best I discovered. </p> <p>Let me explain.</p> <p>Early in my career, I was often mistaken for the office assistant when clients met me for the first time. They would ask me to get the tea, for example. Now I could have reacted with anger, but I didn’t, much to the amusement of my team, I would smile, get the tea and say, “I hope you like it. My speciality is integrated comms; but, I did my best.”  </p> <p>I enjoyed this game for many years, largely because these were not people operating a conscious gender bias. I looked at it this way: most SEO specialists at the time were male. Their expectation for me to be male was statistically correct, not necessarily conscious bias. Making them feel terrible was not the objective; working with them and helping to adjust their perceptions was.  </p> <p>Mary Poppins has given me some great life philosophies, and in this instance I saw making the tea as the spoonful of sugar that helped the medicine go down.</p> <p>I also decided early on to address the rooms I stand in. Instead of trying to change the minds of the people who think I don’t belong in the same room as them, I sometimes chose to work hard and make another room more successful and more fun. With client work this meant picking the clients most ready for integration initially and then moving onto the ones who were more hesitant.</p> <h3>Allies and advocates</h3> <p>I have to acknowledge that much of my career success was due to the support from people in the industry. Many of these were silent champions giving me feedback, putting me forward for conference speaking slots and shielding me against some of the gender and sector biases. </p> <p>Getting publishers to talk openly about their linking policies, challenges and objectives has been key to me developing campaigns that were successful for them and clients. It helped me learn how to build pages that help journalists with their stories and thus build natural links.</p> <p>Most of the people who helped me were male, as that was the dominant gender of the internet marketing industry. There were also women, some of which had had a much harder time than I did, being part of the industry way before I joined.</p> <p>Some of the women have undoubtedly stood in my shoes (or me in theirs), which helped them recognise when support was needed. That may have made it easier for them to support me, in a way, than it was for some of the men. The men had to rely on keen observation rather than experience to determine how and when to offer advice or help.</p> <p>But I don’t really distinguish whether these people were male or female. I notice more that they have congruent values including proactivity and the courage to stand up for someone both publically and privately. Something we should all foster irrespective of industry sector or gender.</p> <h3>Gratitude</h3> <p>We live in a world that puts immense emphasis on the ‘hero’, but it seems to me that many of the people working to change the fabric of society largely do so silently. It is therefore no wonder that it is only with hindsight you notice how much insight, shielding or advocacy someone has given you. It is never too late to say thank you.</p> <p>You don’t need to send expensive gift baskets; but, you do need to be genuine in your gratitude. With media I have gone out of my way to give journalists exclusives, access to interviews or help them on stories that were sometimes unrelated to my work objectives. Thanking someone is not just an expression of appreciation. It also communicates the value of their efforts. This undoubtedly fuels them to carry out similar actions in the future, and this is part of the two-way street of creating change. </p> <h3>Take stock of achievements and log the funny data points</h3> <p>I sometimes see people get more upset about a lack of gluten-free muffins at tech events than about accessibility and equality. This is in fact a good thing. These more minor complaints mean a lot of the bigger changes have begun. How fantastic it is for me to see this as a data point for success. So, bring on dietary complaints as a metric of progress!  Of course, taking stock of how far we have come does not mean we can slack off, and it should not stop us helping others who are walking a hard path.</p> <p>Finally, revolutions don’t go off without a hitch we need to be reasonable in our expectations of what the path ahead looks like.  It does exist and will take time to change. Despite the fact that a vast amount of our communications are governed by mechanical systems, tools, processes and technology, we are human.  We cannot just recode ourselves or our societies. It takes time, humour gentleness and, most of all, perseverance and bravery.</p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69803 2018-02-14T12:15:28+00:00 2018-02-14T12:15:28+00:00 Google brings the popular Stories format to AMP: is it worth using? Patricio Robles <p>As Rudy Galfi, a Google AMP product manager, <a href="https://developers.googleblog.com/2018/02/amp-stories-bringing-visual.html">describes it</a>, AMP stories are "a visual-driven format for evolving news consumption on mobile," adding, "AMP stories aim to make the production of stories as easy as possible from a technical perspective. The format comes with preset but flexible layout templates, standardized UI controls, and components for sharing and adding follow-on content."</p> <p><iframe src="https://www.youtube.com/embed/6zcYgQhH5TE?wmode=transparent" width="560" height="315"></iframe></p> <p>A number of high-profile publishers, including Conde Nast, Hearst and The Washington Post, collaborated with Google in the development of the format. </p> <p>Why should publishers use AMP stories? According to Galfi, "Creating visual stories on the web with the fast and smooth performance that users have grown accustomed to in native apps can be challenging. Getting these key details right often poses prohibitively high startup costs, particularly for small publishers." AMP stories extends AMP, which is already intended to address the challenges of mobile performance, so that publishers don't have to come up with their own solutions.</p> <p>But even if AMP stories will enable publishers to more easily present content in a story format, should they? Not everybody is convinced.</p> <p>For example, Nilay Patel, the editor-in-chief of tech publication The Verge, believes that the story format works well in apps like Snapchat and Instagram “because they feel completely native to the platform.” AMP stories, on the other hand, don't in his estimation.</p> <blockquote class="twitter-tweet"> <p lang="en" dir="ltr">I love Instagram stories because they feel completely native to the platform. Google’s AMP Stories... do not. <a href="https://t.co/Nq53UqcxKW">https://t.co/Nq53UqcxKW</a></p> — nilay patel (@reckless) <a href="https://twitter.com/reckless/status/963429244696252417?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">February 13, 2018</a> </blockquote> <p>Others note that AMP stories, while open-source and accessible to everyone, is really just a part of <a href="https://www.recode.net/2016/2/24/11588170/google-amp-is-less-about-beating-facebook-at-news-more-about-gobbling">a broader Google push to dominate the mobile web using AMP</a>.</p> <p>Gizmodo's Tom McKay <a href="https://gizmodo.com/googles-quest-for-dominance-continues-with-new-amp-form-1822983028">explains</a>:</p> <blockquote> <p>While technically anyone can create their own AMP stories using the open-source technology, Google really wants publishers to create these and wrote in its blog post that it “plans to bring AMP stories to more products across Google, and expand the ways they appear in Google Search.” So eventually these could get rolled into regular mobile search results, displacing some of the current occupants of some of Google’s most valuable real estate and replacing them with AMP-powered slideshows.</p> </blockquote> <p>That, in turn, could push publishers worried about losing traffic to adopt AMP stories, a format Google has “functional dominance” over.</p> <p>The more devious aspect of this is that while AMP stories doesn't yet support monetization through ads, AMP itself only supports a number of ad providers including, of course, Google. So once AMP stories are monetizable with ads, Google stands to be one of the biggest beneficiaries. That isn't a coincidence.</p> <p>Of course, this might not be such a big deal if the format proves to be a hit with users. But since Google paid early adopters like Conde Nast and Hearst to help develop the format and will initially only show in the SERPs AMP stories from select partners for specific queries, other publishers might want to take a wait and see approach before investing in this new format.</p> <p><em><strong>Related:</strong></em></p> <ul> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/68490-google-s-accelerated-mobile-pages-12-pros-and-cons">Google's Accelerated Mobile Pages: 12 pros and cons</a></li> <li><a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide">SEO Best Practice Guide</a></li> </ul> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69770 2018-02-05T11:00:00+00:00 2018-02-05T11:00:00+00:00 Five tips for an evergreen SEO strategy Nikki Gilliland <h3>Monitoring market adoption</h3> <p>Instead of simply optimising for today’s algorithm, successful SEO also means thinking about the possible and probable future.</p> <p>However, while it might be tempting to jump on new technologies (such as voice technology or virtual reality), practitioners need to consider whether or not the tech has been truly adopted by consumers. Only then will technology innovation truly lead to market disruption – a cycle highlighted in the below image.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2017/Figure_9.JPG" alt="" width="650" height="389"></p> <p>One way to determine this is to monitor the search volumes and signals of intent relating to key technologies that could impact a business. </p> <p>While 2018 is tipped to be the year of voice-activated search, for example, SEOs are still unclear what role this tech will go on to play in consumer’s lives, and as such largely remain in the dark about its true impact.</p> <h3>Relevancy of topic</h3> <p>In 2017, Google updated its Hummingbird algorithm to better deal with conversational queries. This means that instead of recognising keywords, Google is able to understand the user’s search intent and respond with relevant, contextual answers.</p> <p>For SEOs, this means it is going to be much more important to research and optimise around topic relevancy rather than just keywords in future. Longer content, which covers an entire topic in-depth is more likely to rank higher. </p> <p>Naturally, this might prove difficult for marketers who are trying to rank for something that is not the topic of their site as a whole. However, by writing articles that aim to answer probable user queries – including informational, navigational, and transactional queries – sites can provide relevant information linked to a particular topic.</p> <h3>Improving UX</h3> <p>The overriding purpose of Google Quick Answers and Featured Snippets is to improve the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69646-ux-trends-in-2018-what-do-the-experts-predict" target="_blank">user experience</a>, providing the most relevant result for the user (not just in terms of content, but context, intent, and in terms of the act of search experience itself). </p> <p>As a result, practitioners should follow suit, prioritising UX and aligning them with SEO goals.</p> <p>A big barrier to this is likely to be skills and internal structure, however with better integration between SEO and UX teams, performance could be greatly improved across the board.</p> <h3>Localisation</h3> <p><a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/66574-10-essentials-for-local-seo-success/" target="_blank">Local SEO</a> is one area that has continued to grow in importance, with users increasingly using their mobiles to search for nearby services and establishments. In the US, users can now make reservations for restaurants and hairdressers etc. directly in answer boxes and knowledge graphs.</p> <p>So, how can SEOs ensure they are ranking in local search results? First and foremost, businesses should ensure that they are listed, as well as guarantee that any local content is properly optimised with information such as description, opening hours, categories, and phone numbers etc.</p> <p>Other link signals such as location proximity, online reviews, hreflang tags and on and off-page signals can also have an effect on how Google indexes locational content. Overall, it is important that businesses recognise and act on the issues that impact local search results rather than do the bare minimum.</p> <p><img src="https://assets.econsultancy.com/images/0009/2018/local_SEO.JPG" alt="" width="550" height="313"></p> <h3>Building reviews</h3> <p>As content authority takes precedence in 2018, <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69220-who-should-own-customer-reviews-in-your-organisation" target="_blank">online reviews</a> can be a great way for SEOs to help build credibility. Meanwhile, review data can also be applied to local business listings, as well as incorporated into Google results for movies, entertainment, and ecommerce products. This might be in the form of a critic review, which an editor has supplied to an authority publisher. Alternatively, it could be rich snippet, which tends to be a combined rating score from reviewers on a related site.</p> <p>In order to take advantage of this, SEOs should be tracking and optimising performance for search phrases that include keywords like ‘review’. That way, marketers will have more chance of review content to be featured in snippets, which in turn could help to increase click-throughs.</p> <p>However, SEOs shouldn’t just be keeping their fingers crossed that users leave reviews of their own accord. A strategy that helps to encourage this behaviour is going to be highly useful. This could involve asking for reviews within email campaigns, on product pages, as well as rewarding or gamifying the process of reviewing.</p> <p><em><strong>For more on this topic, you can check out further <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/69644-seo-trends-in-2018-what-do-the-experts-predict" target="_blank">predictions for SEO this year</a>. Subscribers can also download the <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-in-2018-industry-experts-tell-marketers-what-they-need-to-know/" target="_blank">SEO 2018 Trends report in full</a>.</strong></em></p> tag:econsultancy.com,2008:BlogPost/69735 2018-01-18T12:48:00+00:00 2018-01-18T12:48:00+00:00 What Google's memory loss means for content and SEO strategy Patricio Robles <p>In <a href="https://www.tbray.org/ongoing/When/201x/2018/01/15/Google-is-losing-its-memory">a blog post</a> that attracted lots of attention, Bray pointed to an article he wrote and published on his blog in 2006, as well a blog post another person published in 2008, that could not be found via Google search. Both carefully-crafted exact-match queries and searches using the <em>site:</em> prefix failed to locate the pages in question.</p> <p>Bray was able to locate these pages using two other search engines, Bing and DuckDuckGo.</p> <p>How to explain this intriguing phenomenon? Bray has a theory:</p> <blockquote> <p>Obviously, indexing the whole Web is crushingly expensive, and getting more so every day. Things like 10+-year-old music reviews that are never updated, no longer accept comments, are lightly if at all linked-to outside their own site, and rarely if ever visited...well, let's face it, Google's not going to be selling many ads next to search results that turn them up. So from a business point of view, it's hard to make a case for Google indexing everything, no matter how old and how obscure.</p> </blockquote> <p>Bray's post went viral and sparked a vigorous discussion and comments from others suggest that Google's memory loss might not be so isolated. For instance, <a href="https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=16153840">on Hacker News</a>, one commenter wrote:</p> <blockquote> <p>I've noticed this many times too, particularly recently, and I call it “Google Alzheimer's” --- what was once a very powerful search engine that could give you thousands (yes, I've tried exhausting its result pages many times, and used to have much success finding the perfect site many dozens of pages deep in the results) of pages containing nothing but the exact words and phrase you search for has seemingly degraded into an approximation of a search engine that has knowledge of only very superficial information, will try to rewrite your queries and omit words (including the very word that makes all the difference --- I didn't put it in the search query for nothing!), and in general is becoming increasingly useless for finding the sort of detailed, specific information that search engines were once ideal for.</p> </blockquote> <p>Another person observed:</p> <blockquote> <p>I think the biggest irony is that the web allows for more adoption of long-tail movements than ever before, and Google has gotten significantly worse at turning these up. I assume this has something to do with the fact that information from the long tail is substantially less searched for than stuff within the normal bounds.</p> <p>This is a nightmare if you have any hobbies that share a common phrase with a vastly more popular hobby...</p> </blockquote> <h3>Why businesses should care and what they can do about it</h3> <p>Despite his personal pain, Bray recognizes that Google is focused on “giving you great answers to the questions that matter to you right now” and acknowledges that it often does a very good job at that. But even so, it's worth considering that Google's apparent memory loss could also be of concern to businesses that have invested in content that they expect to be discoverable through the world's largest search engine.</p> <p>Despite the growing popularity of Google alternatives like DuckDuckGo, most companies still focus their SEO efforts on Google and the search giant's memory loss could affect them in a number of ways.</p> <p>Most obviously, the prospect that Google is intentionally allowing content to drop out of its index over time means that companies can't assume their older content will remain in the index, even if it's high quality. </p> <p>While Google has never offered a guarantee that content will remain in its index because it was added to it at some point, the possibility that it is dropping content from its index more frequently than many expect is problematic on a number of fronts. </p> <p>First, many companies, on the advice of their SEOs, have invested in producing content for long-tail (read: low volume) keywords. The thinking behind this is that such content, even if it doesn't produce significant, consistent returns, will be “out there” and discoverable well into the future and that over time, it will deliver a positive return.</p> <p>But such content, even if it's high quality and of potential value to a very targeted base of users, would seem to be most vulnerable to Google memory loss, especially if it's not updated or linked to frequently from newer pages.</p> <p>Second, many companies don't consider content to be a depreciating asset. To the contrary, many believe that content, particularly so-called evergreen content, can pay dividends long into the future. If Google does have Alzheimer's, determining the value of a piece of content, and calculating how much to invest in the creation of a piece of content, could become a more complex exercise.</p> <p>So how should companies respond?</p> <p>While there's no reason to panic, Tim Bray's post does suggest that businesses would be wise to pay better attention to their content and, to the extent content is seen as valuable, what happens to it long after it's published.</p> <p>At a minimum, companies should be using <a href="https://econsultancy.com/blog/67637-maximising-content-led-organic-traffic-with-free-google-tools-a-comprehensive-guide/">Google Search Console</a> to better understand the status of their content in Google's index. There are also third-party tools and companies with development resources <a href="https://searchengineland.com/check-urls-indexed-google-using-python-259773">can even easily build their own index checkers</a>.</p> <p>Beyond this, the potential that Google has implemented a form of memory loss should remind companies that the execution of content strategy is a fluid, ongoing process. Publishing content is a part of that process, but the lifecycle of each piece of content needs to be managed long-term if that content is to remain valuable long-term.</p> <p>Perhaps proving that: since Bray's post went viral, the two pages he initially couldn't find in Google are now back in the index.</p> <p><em><strong>Econsultancy subscribers can download our <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/seo-best-practice-guide">SEO</a> and <a href="https://econsultancy.com/reports/content-strategy-best-practice-guide">Content Strategy </a> Best Practice Guides.</strong></em></p>