Location Extensions Augmented Advertisements

When a Google Patent uses the word “Content” they often mean advertisements, rather than just the content on a website. That was true when I wrote about a Google patent about combining advertisements and organic results in the post Google to Offer Combined Content (Paid and Organic) Search Results

I don’t often write about paid search here, but sometimes see something interesting enough to write about. We’ve been seeing some of the features from organic search appearing in paid search results, such as sitelink extensions, and Structured Snippets extensions. Google has written up extensions, which are ways of adding additional information to advertisements “to maximize the performance of text ads.”

One specific type of extension is a location extension. Location Extensions can add information to an advertisement that you bid upon that can exhibit more information to your ad, such as:

Google Ads location extensions allow you to show your business address, phone number and a map marker along with your ad text.

.

That information isn’t shown to everyone but may be shown to people within a threshold distance from an advertiser’s location. The location extensions page doesn’t provide much in the way of details as to when location extensions might be triggered which is why I thought it helpful to write about this patent application that appears to cover location extensions.

A Google patent application was published this week about location augmented advertisements. The patent tells us about when a location extension that could be shown with an ad might be triggered to show:

The method includes receiving a request for content from a user device. The method further includes identifying, by one or more processors, a content item for delivery to the user device responsive to the request. The method further includes determining a location of the user device. The method further includes determining a threshold distance that a user is likely willing to travel when visiting a physical location associated with the content item or content sponsor. The method further includes identifying a bounding region associated with the location of the user device. The method further includes identifying one or more location extensions that are associated with the content item. The method further includes determining, by one or more processors, when one of the one or more location extensions is included in the bounding region and when a distance between the location extension and a current location of the user is less than the determined threshold distance. The method further includes augmenting, based on the determining when the distance is less than the determined threshold, the content item with the one location extension.

A Think with Google article on location extensions provides more information about ways to use location extensions.

The location extensions patent application provides more details on how location extensions work. It points out the following features:

  1. The request for content can be associated with a search query, a map request or page request.
  2. The user device can be a mobile device, and location information for the user can be provided as part of the request.
  3. Determining the threshold distance can include evaluating requests from plural users and determining the threshold distance as a mathematical function derived from the evaluating.
  4. Evaluating can include evaluating driving direction requests received from users that terminate at a location associated with the one location extension.
  5. The mathematical function can be a numeric average and the threshold distance can represent an average distance a user would drive to visit the location.
  6. The threshold distance can be determined based on a characterization associated with a sponsor of the content item.
  7. The characterization can be based on a type of product or service offered by the sponsor.
  8. Identifying one or more location extensions can include identifying plural location extensions that are included in the bounding region and selecting one of the plural regions.
  9. The selecting can be a random selection.
  10. Augmenting can include providing the one location extension for presentation in proximity to the content item when displayed on the user device.
  11. Identifying a bounding region can include: identifying a first bounding region; determining that no location extensions for the content item are included in the first bounding region; identifying, based on determining that no location extensions for the content item are included in the first bounding region, a second larger bounding region; determining when one of the one or more location extensions is included in the second larger bounding region; and augmenting the content item with the one location extension.

The underlying purpose of this patent about location extensions is that they will show location information to searchers who are within a certain distance from an advertiser based upon travel time, and what they are offering. The patent application is:

Determining Relevant Business Locations Based on Travel Distances
Inventors: Derek Coatney, Eric L. Lorenzo, Yi Zhu, Amin Charaniya and Gaurav Ravindra Bhaya
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent Application: 20190180326
Published: June 13, 2019
Filed: February 19, 2019

Abstract

Methods, systems, and apparatus include computer programs encoded on a computer-readable storage medium, including a method for providing content. A request for content is received from a user device. A content item is identified for delivery to the user device responsive to the request. A location of the user device is determined. A threshold distance is determined that a user is likely willing to travel when visiting a physical location associated with the content item or content sponsor. A bounding region associated with the location of the user device is identified. Location extensions are identified that are associated with the content item. A determination is made when one of the location extensions is included in the bounding region and when a distance between the location extension and a current location of the user is less than the determined threshold distance. The content item is augmented with the one location extension.

Takeaways

A query that triggers a location extension on an advertisement can be a query that includes a location such as [italian resturants in Carlsbad, Ca.] or it could involve a query that doesn’t include a location such as [French food].

It appears that to have working location extensions as an advertiser, you need to register your location with Google My business (and link that account with Adwords) and you have to set up location extensions in adwords. You can have multiple locations displayed as well if you have those.

Location extensions look like they could be helpful in attracting attention to local consumers who may be interested in what you offer on your site.


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Video SEO: New tool by Trint helps make spoken words in videos crawlable

trint makes spoken words videos crawlable

June 13 saw the release of a new tool by London-based company Trint which can assist the crawlability and visibility of video content in search engines.

The Trint Player has been unveiled at the Global Editors Network Summit in Athens where it will be used to publish video and transcripts of keynotes by Google News founder Krishna Bharat and Bloomberg Editor-In-Chief John Micklethwait.

Video to dominate traffic and SERPs

In two years, video content is expected to make up 80% of online traffic. Google is increasingly returning video content in its SERPs and delivering it in a variety of ways, depending on device used and the type of content that is searched for.

To date, search engines can only find a video based on words in the title, the description and in a small amount of accompanying metadata. The embeddable Trint Player works by automatically attaching a transcript to videos using AI.

A search engine indexing a page with a video published in the player will be able to record all the words from the attached transcript and show the spoken words in search results.

The transcript functionality is interactive. Users can click on a word and the tool will navigate to that part of the video. It auto-scrolls as the video plays and you can easily follow along or view the text without image and/or sound.

I gave the searchability of the above Elon Musk video a quick test by Googling “we have an amazing product to show you tonight.” Indeed, the page on the Trint site which is hosting the video ranks very well – just below some news sites which have manually taken some quotes from Musk’s presentation. It is also worth noting that the embed in this instance is a fair way down the page.

Benefits for news sites and marketers

To date, manual transcription has been a very laborious and timely job. Understandably, taking time on such a task for SEO benefit is not necessarily a big priority for journalists. The Trint Player can do this job for them with minimal legwork from the user – and with 99% accuracy according to the press materials. Trint already boasts enterprise clients in The Associated Press, NBCUniversal, The Washington Post, Vice News and Der Spiegel.

It is also easy to see the potential for marketers and brands keen to get the most from their video content. According to Vidyard, 83% of marketers say video is becoming more important to them. Webinars and demos – precisely the types of videos which include a lot of unique content – are the most common types of video marketers are investing in.

Looking beyond YouTube

The player has been available to Trint customers in beta since February. It is currently compatible with videos published on YouTube and the company is awaiting feedback from users before exploring compatibility with other video hosting sites.

It builds on existing work the company have been doing with their productivity platform which uses automated transcription to change the way professionals work with audio/video to produce content and insights.

The company has been backed by Google Digital News Innovation Fund and the Knight Enterprise Fund. The launch of the Trint Player comes on the heels of the business closing $4.5 million in Series A funding, with follow-on investment from Horizons Lab, the Hong Kong-based seed fund operated by the managers of Horizons Ventures, as well as institutional investors including TechNexus and The Associated Press.

Related reading

Five ways blockchain will impact search marketing
New visual search innovations tap human emotions and biological buying triggers
Digital marketing strategy guide for B2B industrial manufacturers

Five backlink analysis tools agencies should try out

Five backlink analysis tools

A healthy and quality backlink profile can help you stay ahead of the competition. After Google rolled out the Penguin algorithm in 2012, it became clear that the quality of backlinks matters, not just their quantity. The more is not the merrier anymore. 

Luckily, over the years, it has become easier to analyze and monitor backlinks thanks to a number of specialized tools available on the market.

Through the use of such tools, you can dissect any backlink profile and discover where the competitors reverse engineer their SEO strategy to generate new backlinks. Plus, you can find out what kind of content performs best for obtaining certain types of backlinks or social engagement.

This post focuses on five tools agencies can take advantage of to benchmark the link quality of their clients against competitors, keep an eye on specific backlinks, and discover opportunities to partner up with other websites to reach the set SEO goals.

1. SE Ranking

Backlink listing of SE Ranking

Source: SE Ranking

SE Ranking offers a complete range of tools designed to help you stay on top of your entire SEO workflow, including backlinks.

With the Backlink Checker tool, you can discover all incoming links to any website, regardless of whether it belongs to you, a client, or a competitor.

Along with the full list of backlinks, referring domains, and Do/NoFollow links, the tool provides data on the backlink’s status, specifies the anchor text, the date the link was last seen and added on, the destination URL, and the Domain Trust score. Plus, you can add filters to conveniently sort the data.

The entire list of backlinks can then be added to a website in a single click where the data can be further analyzed. That’s where the other backlink tool comes into play.

SE Ranking's Backlink checker tool

Source: SE Ranking

The Backlink Monitoring tool enables you to work closely with the backlinks that have been added to a website, and get daily reports on any changes. This is where all the day-to-day backlink management tasks are performed.

By connecting Google Search Console, the list of backlinks will constantly get updated automatically. Otherwise, you will have to use Backlink Checker every now and then to pull up an updated list of backlinks.

Furthermore, you can switch between tabs to get an overview of the backlinks, see all the anchor texts, and set up a Disavow file to signal to Google what backlinks you don’t want it to take into account when analyzing the reference weight of the website.

Now, in addition to the parameter data provided in the Backlink Checker tool, the Backlink Monitoring tool offers a lot more information on each backlink, such as Google Index Status, Moz DA, Referring IP, Country, External Links, Alexa rank, and Social shares. This data gives you a good grasp of the backlink profile at hand.

Besides providing an array of backlink parameter data by default, the Backlink Monitoring tool gives you an opportunity to specify additional information on each backlink via custom parameters that need to be filled out manually, such as Source, Price, Anchor type, Category, Backlink manager, Setting up dates, Validity period, and Notes. Doing so will give you a convenient way to go through large amounts of data.

All in all, the tool provides comprehensive data, the interface is very clean, modern, and definitely not an eye-ache to look at. On top of that, the white label feature along with automatic reporting makes it easy to communicate with clients.

What else comes with the package

  • Website audit
  • Keyword rank tracker
  • Keyword suggestion tool
  • Competitor research
  • Page changes monitoring
  • Social media management
  • Keyword Grouper
  • Lead generator
  • Search volume checker
  • Index status checker
  • Page changes monitoring
  • API

Pricing

It’s a paid tool (starting at $39/month) but it offers a free 14-day trial. The Enterprise package suitable for agencies is available for $189/month.

2. LinkMiner

Listing of backlinking opportunities in LinkMiner

If you’re looking for a backlink analysis tool that’s specifically designed to help you find backlink building opportunities, LinkMiner is the right solution for you.

Just like other backlink analysis tools, LinkMiner also enables you to check the backlinks of any imaginable site, including your clients’ and their competitors’. Naturally, it also has a lot of other useful features.

With LinkMiner, you can analyze up to 50 backlinks a day at no cost regardless of the access level. And when analyzing such backlinks, you can click any one to get an instant preview of that website along with the highlighted anchor text, referring website title and URL — and decide whether or not it makes sense to replicate the backlink.

Furthermore, the service automatically breaks backlinks down into groups based on their category like Q&A, blog, forum, making it easier to spot new backlink opportunities and tag your favorite backlinks for later use. LinkMiner also provides a number of third-party metrics such as Citation Flow, Trust Flow, Do/NoFollow attributes to help you evaluate a link’s strength.

The provided third-party metrics can be a great way of analyzing the backlinks and determining the most valuable ones. Plus, the system will notify you if any backlinks break or go missing, but it’ll be up to you to reclaim the link from the site owner.

As for LinkMiner in general, it has some flaws that are a result of the tool being too simple for experienced SEO specialists, but it’s great if you’re just starting out with building links, so be sure to give it a go.

What else comes with the package

LinkMiner is a part of the Mangools SEO suite which also includes:

  • KWFinder
  • SERPChecker
  • SERPWatcher

Pricing

It is a paid tool (starting at $44/month) but it offers a free 10-day trial. The Agency package is available for $79.90/month.

3. URL Profiler

Screenshot of bulk data listing that URL Profiler provides at a URL and domain level

URL Profiler is a powerful software-based SEO tool that can pull bulk data from sites at a domain and URL level. Considering the fact that there are plenty of SEO tools out there like Majestic, MozScape, Ahrefs, Google, MY Addr and Copyscape, to name a few, URL Profiler was designed to group such tools to provide comprehensive insights under one roof.

The tool can actually be used to perform a number of SEO tasks that include the audit of content, social media, and Google penalties, link prospecting, keyword rank tracking, and, most importantly, backlink analysis.

URL Profiler analyzes the quality of backlink profiles, allowing you to quickly go through a huge number of links by analyzing various data such as location, link type, and the anchor text for spamming and unnatural use of keywords.

Since there’s a lot of data to work within this tool, it is up to your knowledge and experience to select the metrics that you value most.

Once you fill everything out, the tool produces an Excel file with multiple sheets containing a detailed analysis of every specified URL. You can look at the link score together with its explanation, view a list of URLs on Google’s blacklist, automatically get the contact info of all the sites you want to reach out to, and a number of other metrics.

With the power of this data, you can make informed decisions regarding every single backlink. To facilitate data analysis, you can customize the settings and look at URL and domain data separately to have a clear grasp of why certain URLs rank higher.

To sum up, URL Profiler is a tool for advanced SEO professionals as there’s a learning curve newbies will have to go through. Moreover, if you’re already using a number of the biggest SEO tools on the market, then URL Profiler is a what you need as it puts everything in front of you in a single data-rich, but, unfortunately, boring interface.

What else comes with the package

  • Keyword tracking
  • Analytics
  • Data export
  • External integrations
  • Link tracking
  • Data import
  • Multi-user

Pricing

It is a paid tool (starting at $19.95 + VAT/month) but it does offer a free 14-day trial. The Agency package is available for $64.95/month.

4. Monitor Backlinks

Monitor Backlinks' dashboard that helps keep track of backlinks and Google keyword rankings

The name is an instant giveaway, but, either way, Monitor Backlinks was designed to help professionals check their and their competitors’ backlinks.

With this tool, you can find and keep track of backlinks, and Google keyword rankings on autopilot via email notifications. So, whenever a competitor successfully uses a keyword to obtain a new quality backlink, you’ll have a chance to act quickly and not let your clients fall behind.

Monitor Backlinks gives you an overview of your backlink profile, providing details on the domains that are helping your SEO efforts, and those that are not. Additionally, the tool sends out reports full of insights on the competition, highlighting what keyword resulted in a high Google rank, as well as backlink data. With data like that, all that’s required from you is to reverse engineer the process to devise a solution that works for your clients.

The tool is aimed at helping you build a strong backlink profile and come up with an SEO strategy to foster business and traffic growth. To help you achieve this, the tool is packed with the most critical SEO metrics that give you all the data you need in one neat interface.

The graph in the dashboard deserves a special mention. It allows you to measure keyword-based site traffic dynamics, as well as the efforts to build a healthier backlink profile. Such graphs provide information to clients that they can easily visually comprehend without doing any digging.

What else comes with the package

  • External link count
  • Backlink status
  • Import/Export
  • Bookmarklet
  • Expiration date
  • Disavow links export
  • Tags and notes

Pricing

It is a paid tool (starting at $24.90/month) that offers a free 30-day trial. For agencies, you can request a custom quote, if you want to control more than 10 domains ($187.43/month).

5. Mention

Monitoring and managing web and social media brand reputation in Mention

The last tool from this roundup is a web and social media brand reputation management and monitoring solution called Mention. Evidently, unlike the other tools described here, this one isn’t a backlink analysis tool per se.

In fact, we included it in the list because it can really help you get good topical backlinks by notifying you of all online mentions you’re interested in. Say someone is discussing a client’s brand, product, service, or content, but doesn’t link out — join in on the conversation and request that a link to the target website be added.

The tool can easily keep track of keyword-based mentions in over 40 languages across billions of sources online in real time. But what you want to be on the lookout for are articles that mentioned your client but did not link out to the site. Plus, the tool’s influencer discovery features can assist you in finding popular people who can help you get the word out.

Fortunately, you don’t have to do this work manually. Set up to receive daily email alerts of all mentions on that day, or, alternatively, get notified via the desktop/mobile app. Plus, you can get laser-precise results by filtering them by sentiment, location, and gender.

The best part for agencies is that all the data, reports, and mentions can be white-labeled with the client’s logo and sent to them automatically.

What else comes with the package

  • Filter out online resources you don’t want to track
  • Share alerts with clients and assign tasks to colleagues
  • Get notified about priority alerts
  • The service studies your behavior to hide irrelevant alerts

Pricing

It is a paid tool (starting at $29/month) but it has a free 14-day trial that allows you to track 500 mentions for 3 search terms. The Enterprise package is available for $600/month or even more.

Summing up

Although all of these tools aren’t free, they offer some type of cost-free trial. For this reason, we’d recommend trying them all out before choosing one solution for your backlink analysis and monitoring needs.

The bottom line is that you should consolidate the data from all these tools to get a clear picture of your clients’ and their competitors’ backlink profiles. Even some of these solutions with huge amounts of data are lacking in user-friendliness and design, and may even provide different crawl depths, index stats, and other valuable metrics for the same URLs.

So, if you’re serious about backlink analysis, it’s best to start using several of the mentioned tools and deciding on those that suit your needs most as you go along.

Diana Ford is a digital marketing specialist with writing expertise that spans across online marketing, SEO, social media, and blogging. She can be found on Twitter @diana_ford.

Related reading

How to understand searcher intent to boost SEO rankings
How to master technical SEO Six areas to attack now
Image optimization for SEO Everything you need to know for success

How to Strategically Think About Technical SEO – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BenjaminEstes

We’ve all agreed that technical SEO is integral, and many of us know at least a little bit about the subject if we’re not already practitioners. But have you considered that the way you think about technical SEO could be hindering or helping your success? Today, Ben Estes from Distilled shares the agency’s tried-and-true framework for tackling technical SEO quandaries strategically.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi. Welcome to another Whiteboard Friday. My name is Ben, and I’m a principal consultant at a company called Distilled. Today I’d like to talk to you about how we think about technical SEO at Distilled. Now, technical SEO is something that a lot of people know a lot of stuff about.

You accumulate knowledge over time from a lot of different sources, and that’s where a lot of the value that we deliver comes from. But not everyone can think about technical SEO from a strategic perspective, and that’s the skill that I think we should talk more about. 

Framing the problem

Let’s start by framing the problem. So look at these charts. Now, I would argue that most people’s mental model of technical SEO matches this first chart.

So in this chart, the solid black line is the actual traffic that you’re getting, whereas the dotted line is the hypothetical traffic you could be getting if all of the technical problems on your site were resolved. So some people see this and say, “Well, you know, if I can just keep fixing technical things, I can keep getting more traffic to my site.”

That’s one way of looking at it, but I would argue that it’s not the best way of looking at it, because really there are only so many technical things that can go wrong with your site. There’s a finite number of problems. It’s not an opportunity so much as an issue that needs to be resolved. So what I try and encourage my clients and colleagues to do is think about it in this way.

So it’s the same chart and the same situation. Here’s the actual traffic that you’re getting and the hypothetical traffic you could be getting. But really what’s happening is your technical problems are keeping you from realizing the most potential traffic that you could be capturing. In other words, there are technical issues preventing us from capturing all the traffic that we could. Now, once you’ve framed the problem in this way, how do you solve it?

So some people just say, “Well, I’ve got this big problem. I need to understand how all the things that could be wrong with this site. I’m just going to dive in. I’m going to go through page by page, and I’ll finish when either I run out of pages or more realistically I run out of time or I run out of the client’s budget. So what if there’s a better way to actually solve that problem and know that it’s been solved?

Well, that’s what this framework that I’m going to present to you is about. The way that we would recommend doing that is by taking the big problem, the overall problem of technical SEO and breaking it down into subproblems and breaking those down again until you have problems that are so small that they are trivially solvable. Now, I’m going to explain to you exactly how we accomplish that, and it’s going to be a little bit abstract.

The approach

So if you want something concrete to follow along with, I’d recommend checking out the blog post at this URL. That’s dis.tl/tech-audit. Okay. So when you have a big problem that you’re trying to break down, many people’s first attempt winds up looking something like this Venn diagram. So we take one problem, break it down into three subproblems, but there’s some sort of overlap between those problems.

Once there’s overlap, you lose a lot of confidence. There is, are you duplicating effort across these different areas? Or did you miss something because these two things are kind of the same? Everything just gets a little hazy very quickly. So to get past that, what I’ve used at Distilled is this consulting concept called MECE.

Mutually exclusive and comprehensively exhaustive

MECE stands for mutually exclusive and comprehensively exhaustive. That’s a lot of fancy words, so I’ll show you pictorially what I mean. So instead of having a Venn diagram like this, what if each of the problems was completely independent? Now they still cover the same area. There’s just no overlap between them, and that’s what MECE means.

Because there is no overlap between them, they are mutually exclusive. Because they cover all of the original problem, they’re comprehensively exhaustive. So what does this mean in technical SEO specifically? Now remember the problem that we’re dealing with is that there are technical issues preventing us from capturing traffic that we would otherwise be able to. So what are the three ways that that could happen? 

  1. Maybe our content isn’t being indexed. There’s a technical reason our content isn’t being indexed. 
  2. Our content doesn’t rank as well as it could, and therefore we’re losing this traffic. 
  3. There is a technical reason our content isn’t being presented as well as it could be in the SERPs.

This is things like having rich snippets, stars, things like that that could increase click-through rate. These things seem kind of trivial, but actually all of the technical problems that you can find on your site contribute to one or more of these three categories. So again, that was pretty abstract. So let’s talk about an example of how that actually plays out. This is actually the first technical check in this audit at that blog post.

An example

So, for instance, we’re starting by considering there is a technical reason our content isn’t being indexed. Well, what are all the ways that that could happen? One of the ways is that URLs are not discoverable by crawlers, and, again, that is a whole thing in itself that can be broken down further.

So maybe it’s that our XML sitemaps aren’t uploaded to Google Search Console. Of course, this isn’t a guarantee that we have a problem. But if there’s a problem down here, there’s a pretty good chance that that trickles back up to a problem up here that we’re really concerned about. The beauty of this isn’t just that it winds up helping us create a checklist so that we know all of the technical issues we ought to be looking at.



But it also helps us convey exactly what the meaning is of our findings and why people should care about them. So this is the template that I encourage my colleagues to use at Distilled. “We are seeing ________. This is a problem because something.You should care about that because something else.” The way this works is like Mad Lib style, except we work like inside out.

So we start with this point here. We are seeing that our XML sitemaps aren’t uploaded to Google Search Console. This is a problem because maybe URLs are not discoverable by crawlers. We should care about that because there is a technical reason our content isn’t being indexed, and that right there is exactly the message that you deliver to your client.

So again, this is exactly the framework that we use for our technical audits at Distilled. It’s given us a lot more confidence. It’s given us a lot more insight into how long this process should take for our analysts and consultants, and it’s also got us better outcomes particularly because it’s helped us communicate better about what we found. Thank you very much. I would love if more people use this, and feel free to reach out to me personally if you have any thoughts or questions.

Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Five things to do on a small digital marketing budget

Five things to do on a small digital marketing budget

When you have a smaller digital marketing budget, every dollar counts, and you often need to get creative to make sure your ads show where you want.

In this post, I’ll walk through a few important tactics to utilize if you are launching a new program or if you have an established program with a smaller budget.

  1. Retargeting site visitors and purchasers
  2. Mid-funnel remarketing
  3. Bid adjustments: Geo-targeting and ad scheduling
  4. Search terms reports: Exact keywords and negative keywords
  5. InMarket and Similar Audiences for competitive terms

1. Retargeting site visitors and purchasers

We all know that it takes more money to acquire a brand-new customer than it does a customer who has already purchased or otherwise engaged with the brand. Paid search and paid social can be a very competitive space, so it’s crucial to use audience targeting to the best of your abilities. One easy way to get the biggest bang for your buck, with lower CPAs (Cost per acquisitions) and higher ROAS (return on advertising spend), is to retarget site visitors and purchasers. These users have already shown intent and interest in your brand, making it easier for them to engage.

It is important within your search campaigns to either segment these users into their own campaign or bid-up on them within your current campaigns. For GDN (Google Display Network) and paid social, try to get in front of these users with a special message to bring them back to the site, and keep these campaigns separate from your acquisition campaigns. For both paid search and paid social, consider special messaging or discounts for these users to help them convert.

2. Mid-funnel remarketing

Many B2B or lead gen businesses will focus their paid search and paid social campaigns on just getting that upper-funnel lead and will then let their sales team and email convert that lead down-funnel. Another way to ramp up the success of your paid social campaigns is to create mid-funnel remarketing campaigns to target upper-funnel leads who have not converted down the funnel. Paid social can also help push users to convert and helps complement the efforts of your sales team and email. One tactic is to stay in front of leads with a case study or white paper that talks about some of your brand’s biggest value propositions and how they help the current problems of your target audience.

3. Bid adjustments: Geo-targeting and ad scheduling

When you have limited advertising funds, it is important to allocate those funds to the areas that are performing the most efficiently, just as you would for keywords. I recommend analyzing these segments and adjusting bids accordingly:

  • Geographical
  • Device
  • Time of day and day of the week
  • Audience
  • HHI (Household Income)
  • Demographics (Age and gender)

For example: If you are a B2B company, you might see that CPA rises during the weekend. To take advantage of this observation, pull back on Saturday and Sunday to save more money for more efficient days of the week. Our AdWords history has shown that clients lower CPA by up to 30% by smarter bidding according to performance in these segments.

4. Search query reports: Exact keywords and negative keywords

Search query reports should be your best friend. Review the search query reports specifically for your broad terms to monitor poor matches and new top performers. Long tail keywords can add value to the account and provide reductions in CPA, so it is important to build them out if they are performing well in matching to your broad keywords. These broad keywords can also lead to poor matching, though, so it is important to review the search queries and add irrelevant or poor matching search queries as negative keywords.  For example, let’s say you are a skincare company that sells facial oil and are bidding on the keyword “facial oil.” You begin seeing your click-through rate start to decrease. You look into search queries and start to see that you are matching to “olive oil,” which is not a relevant search. You would add that as a negative to the account to cut back on wasted spend for irrelevant queries.

5. InMarket and Similar Audiences for competitive terms

Broad keywords can lead to high competition, high CPAs, and lower impression share, especially if bigger brands are part of the mix. That doesn’t mean you should ignore them; bid on potentially valuable broad terms, but restrict bidding to InMarket and Similar Audiences so your ads only serve to audiences you’re confident are interested in your product or service.

Small budgets might seem to lead to initial challenges, especially if the market is highly competitive or efficiency targets are not currently being met. Make sure to incorporate these steps into your marketing to drive greater efficiency.

If you have other tactics or strategies that have worked for your SMB, leave a comment.

Lauren Crain is a Client Services Lead in 3Q Digital’s SMB division, 3Q Incubate.

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How to Leverage Offline Events for Link Building

Posted by allen.yesilevich

Link building is all about creating strong, reputable relationships online — but what if you took offline strategies and applied it to building your brand online? No matter the size of your company, hosting, speaking at, or attending an event is a valuable tool for bulking up your backlinks while giving your brand industry exposure.

Every stage of the event process, from promotion and beyond, provides valuable opportunities for acquiring backlinks. The trick is to apply the correct strategy. Whether you’re sharing your event on an event listing site, reaching out to influencers to spread the word, or publishing event-specific content, leveraging your face-to-face marketing efforts to gain more backlinks will help your business — no matter its size — become more visible.

Prior to the Event

Before you set out on your link-building journey, you need to establish what pages and domains you want others to share. For an event, a dedicated landing page on your website that lists key details and invites people to register is the best place to drive potential attendees. It’s also easy to share for promotion.

Event sites

Once you have your pages and domains set up, you can take that page to event listing sites, which offer easy link opportunities. The location of your event will determine where you choose to post. For instance, if you’re hosting a small event, region-specific event sites will earn you links that increase your visibility in local search results. 

If you’re hosting a larger event with a national or global draw, Eventful or Meetup are two sites that will link out directly to your event page. As an added bonus, some larger sites will get scraped by other sources, meaning you could potentially get multiple links from one post.

Connect with influencers

Connecting with bloggers in your industry and asking them to share your event details with their followers is another way to gain links. 

Before you reach out, do some research to see what types of bloggers and influencers are best suited for this; you want to make sure the backlinks you receive are valuable, from credible sites that will help you build authority and enhance your organic search visibility. While it may be more difficult to obtain links from the experts in your industry who have higher domain authorities, they’ll be the most beneficial for brand building.

Once you establish your list of target industry bloggers, reach out and explain why your event is relevant to their audience and why sharing or posting about it would add value to their content. 

A big mistake people often make is expecting content without contributing anything in return. Would you show up to a potluck without a dish and eat all of the food? Consider offering an incentive, like an opportunity for cross-site promotion so that the partnership isn’t just transactional, but mutually beneficial. Not only will this help you acquire a new link, but it will also help you get more exposure to people in your target market that you may not have been able to reach previously.

During the Event

Whether your company is hosting an event or someone from your team is speaking at one, there are many opportunities to support your site’s link building efforts. Attendees can have a positive effect on your organization’s backlink profile. As the old saying goes, if you didn’t post about it, were you even there? Professionals and brands alike love sharing thought leadership insights and event recaps in the form of blogs and social posts. When they do, there’s a good chance they’ll be sharing a link to your company’s site.

Write about it

Even if you’re only attending an event, there are link building opportunities to take advantage of. Post daily blogs highlighting the key takeaways from that day’s sessions or share your take on a memorable keynote. Event-specific content has a good chance of making its way to and being shared by the speakers, event host, other attendees, and your team back at the office.

“Consider offering an incentive, like an opportunity for cross-site promotion so that the partnership isn’t just transactional, but mutually beneficial.”

To increase your chances of getting your content out in front of the right people, share it in a quick email or LinkedIn message to a presenter or marketing lead from the company hosting the event. Of course, you should always share your post on your own and your company’s social media channels and tag the relevant players. The hope is that, by being included and getting free publicity, these high-quality sources will feel inclined to share your content

Network, network, network

While posting about events can help you get links, you should also focus on building long-term relationships with other leaders in your industry. There is no better time to do this than when at an event. In fact, 81 percent of event-goers say they attend events for networking opportunities. If you’re networking, you can set yourself up well to establish future linking partnerships with sites in similar or complementing industries.

After the Event

You can still acquire backlinks from your offline event after you’ve headed back to work. Some of the best link building opportunities have yet to come.

Follow up with email

If you spoke at an event, you can nurture the people who attended your session through email and send them relevant information. Setting up a landing page on your site with downloadable slides from your presentation can easily be shared and linked. If they haven’t done so already, see if your contacts are willing to share their event experience on their blog and social pages. This will give you crowdsourced content with valuable backlinks.

Track your efforts

It’s important to track your backlinks using social listening tools after the event. If you feel the linking sites could offer synergies, either for content or business purposes, reach out to discuss mutually-beneficial partnerships.

Remember, all the hard work you put in now will pay off in the future, too. Consistently acquiring backlinks has a snowball effect and will increase both your ranking positioning and attendee turnout for future events.

Wrapping up

One of the best link-building strategies you can leverage is your real-life relationships. What are some ways you’ve transformed an in-life connection into a valuable, digital backlink? 

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

Why we should stop using DA to measure influencers

Why we should stop using DA to measure influencers

Whether you’re an SEO, PR or a website owner, it’s highly likely you’ve come across DA (Domain Authority). The metric, created by industry-leading platform Moz, was designed to help search marketers understand the value of a domain, at a glance and compare it with others in the same industry or niche. This was important for SEO, third party links have long been used to understand how “trustworthy” a website is and form part of Google’s “ranking criteria” (although their importance and how this works is a hot talking point in SEO).

Moz uses their index (or understanding of the web), to map out these links between sites and, alongside other factors, try to assign a “competition” score to each website they encounter. This can then be used as a proxy to determine the value of a said site.

Note: I have nothing against Moz. This piece isn’t in any way designed to be a slight on them or their work, but further insight and context into how to use the data they provide.

The eye-opener to follower deception

Last year, Social Chain opened marketers’ eyes to the murky world of follower deception. Many brands understand the importance of influencers to the digital ecosystem, but measuring the value that someone can bring prior to working with them is difficult and time-consuming. As such, often companies rely on metrics that symbolizes “reputation”, followers, engagement, and other similar indicators. However, as Social Chain asserted, the typical signposts do not always depict a true picture and if not completely understood or manipulated, can lead to large amounts of spend being wasted.

This is a common theme with SEO. Although it’s less a question of manipulation and more a question of understanding. In 2012, Penguin, Google’s “webspam” filter was rolled-out and assigned a positive or negative value to third party links. Prior to this, “trust” was judged on an arguably simpler set of volume-based criteria, but as the flaws in the system were exploited. It soon became clear that a more complex solution was required, to ensure the integrity of search results was maintained. Trust continued to be an important factor in success, but SEO’s had to start thinking more carefully about how they generated these. Here the connection between SEO and PR became more important as links could not be artificially built they had to be earned, naturally.

The two teams started to collaborate more closely, with SEOs providing PRs extra resource to contact a “lower”, but still valuable tier of influencer and PRs helping SEOs reach the higher, more widely trusted publications that they could not access before. Over time, the lines between SEO and other channels have started to blur – and as teams were pushed to operate across remits, PRs started to use SEO metrics, with DA taking precedence (as it was arguably the simplest to use), to understand more about the people they were contacting. With investment from brands increasing, more influencers started to appear, and from this grew an industry in its own right.

Fast forward to the present day

An influencer marketer will likely sit across content, Social, PR, and SEO, with the goal of engaging personalities to improve performance across all the channels they are connected to (based on the goals of the organization/campaign). For social and PR, engagement and reach can be more easily measured. But SEO has always been complicated. This is because “good SEO” has never been about links alone and the idea of a “link value” is entirely subjective, based on factors that change between industries, counties, and even search results. As such, the idea of using a single, links-based metric to determine the value a domain can provide for SEO is inherently floored – and yet, many marketers, influencers and PR teams still continue to use DA for this purpose.

To make matters more complex, the whole link-building ecosystem has been flooded with misinformation. I discussed this in a recent webinar with SEMRush, but it’s often been the case that the wider industry’s understanding of the link building practice has come through commentators on the practice and not the experts conducting the work themselves. This means, the influencers and PR teams, and not the SEO community themselves.

Why is this the case?

There’s really no simple answer, although, for a long time before the collaboration was mainstream, it would be a frequent occurrence for SEOs and PRs to clash over remit cross-over. In the agency world, this could have led to reduced budgets – why pay two agencies to do the work of one, although (from my experience), clients were very much open to creating a joined-up approach between both teams.

While conflict happened behind the scenes, uncertainty, and misinformation filtered out to the influencer market, with PRs and SEOs trying to show that they “knew enough” about the other to make a wider judgment on influencer selection for projects. This led to followers and domain authority becoming key metrics in this process which, although not unhelpful, rarely offered the truest picture of a website’s worth. In turn, this led to transactional relationships with websites, where links and shares were bought for a price that, once this became a commodity only ever increased. Instead of paying for the time and expertise of the people that were being engaged, their value became intrinsically tied to their reach or their link-equity (perceived through domain authority), two metrics that could be easily manipulated.

Now, the growing rumble of discontent within the influencer landscape has finally hit the headlines with a theatrical flourish. Unfortunately for many, this has come too late, with brands realizing the cost of investing in reach over expertise, most famously with the Fyre festival scandal. But, this doesn’t mean that influencer marketing isn’t valuable, as I wrote at the time, but that how and most importantly – the reasons as to why marketers engage with content creators need to change. We’ve seen publicly how using followers to measure reach can be folly. But there’s still time to take these learnings and apply them to domain authority too before something as equally damaging to the industry happens.

Latest developments

Recent legislation in the UK has started to pave the way for change in this field. It’s certainly made working with influencers harder, in large part to the ambiguity around the specifics of how the changes should be interpreted, I personally apply the principle of “better safe than sorry”, even from a search perspective. Every brand interaction should now be declared as an advert, including event invites and even in cases where the only “payment” has been a reimbursing of travel costs. With Google’s hardline view on manipulative link building, the practice of engaging “high authority” SEO influencers is slowly ending or at least, becoming incredibly risky.

Instead, we should look to engage influencers for their subject matter expertise and credibility they can lend to a story or campaign. In practice, this means killing the transactional “I give you X and you give me Y” type of relationships and seeing content creators as partners in getting your message out to the world. For SEO, this may mean using “no-follow” links (which, in basic terms, tell crawlers that they should not consider them for search benefit), but this shouldn’t be an issue. Sure, their direct value on search may be limited, but to think that the search algorithm considers the web in as simple terms as this would be myopic. There are some brilliant studies around the power of brand on search, which are worth noting in this context. Moreover, at its heart, a link is there to carry users from A to B. Adding a “no-follow” tag doesn’t stop this from happening and in this case, using domain authority as a metric often would lead to discounting a valuable traffic driving part of this ecosystem.

With this shift in the industry and better collaboration than ever between search and the wider marketing mix, the opportunity for content, search and marketing communication teams to unite is stronger than ever. So too, is the need for it, as achieving cut-through in the wall of digital noise is harder than it’s ever been. Campaigns, to be successful on all fronts, must genuinely inspire, engage or provide value to users and older-school tactics, such as product reviews and content seeding, have all but lost their ability to drive results. On this point, we simply must move away from using domain authority and followers as a metric, as neither is an effective gauge of how useful a site might be to its users.

Closing notes

I’d like to speak directly to influencers because without a universal change in mindset, we’ll continue to see the same practices continue and the channel will continue to be under-utilized. I’d impress upon them the need to keep an open mind and focus on becoming the best subject matter experts that they can. I’d encourage the end of any agonizing over “vanity metrics”, which are often taken out of context, and in place look to whether their users are genuinely engaging with their content, and how this impacts their value as creators. Importantly, I’d implore everyone, PRs and SEOs included, to have a little more fun, harness the incredible creativity that brand communications teams, content creators, and influencer marketers can yield and build something great together.

Ric Rodriguez is an SEO Director and winner of the 2018 Drum Search Award. He can be found on Twitter @RicRodriguez_UK.

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How to Automate Keyword Ranking with STAT and Google Data Studio

Posted by TheMozTeam

This blog post was originally published on the STAT blog.


We asked SEO Analyst, Emily Christon of Ovative Group, to share how her team makes keyword rank reporting easy and digestible for all stakeholders. Read on to see how she combines the power of STAT with Google Data Studio for streamlined reporting that never fails to impress her clients.

Why Google Data Studio

Creating reports for your clients is a vital part of SEO. It’s also one of the most daunting and time-consuming tasks. Your reports need to contain all the necessary data, while also having clear visuals, providing quick wins, and being easy to understand.

At Ovative Group, we’re big advocates for reporting tools that save time and make data easier to understand. This is why we love Google Data Studio.

This reporting tool was created with the user in mind and allows for easy collaboration and sharing with teams. It’s also free, and its reporting dashboard is designed to take the complexity and stress out of visualizing data.

Don’t get us wrong. We still love our spreadsheets, but tools like Excel aren’t ideal for building interactive dashboards. They also don’t allow for easy data pulls — you have to manually add your data, which can eat up a lot of time and cause a lot of feelings.

Data Studio, however, pulls all your data into one place from multiple sources, like spreadsheets, Google Analytics accounts, and Adwords. You can then customize how all that data is viewed so you can surface quick insights.

How does this relate to keyword reporting?

Creating an actionable keyword report that is beneficial for both SEO and your stakeholders can be a challenge. Data Studio makes things a bit easier for us at Ovative in a variety of ways:

Automated data integration

Our team uses the STAT API — which can be connected to Data Studio through a little technical magic and Google Big Query — to pull in all our raw data. You can select what data points you want to be collected from the API, including rank, base rank, competitors, search volume, local information, and more.

Once your data is collected and living in Big Query, you can access it through the Data Studio interface. If you want to learn more about STAT’s API, go here.

Customization

Do you care about current rank? Rank over time? Major movers – those that changed +20 positions week over week? Or are you just after how many keywords you have ranking number one?

All of this is doable — and easy — once you’re comfortable in Data Studio. You can easily customize your reports to match your goals.

“Our team uses the STAT API — which can be connected to Data Studio through a little technical magic and Google Big Query — to pull in all our raw data.” — Emily Christon, SEO Analyst at Ovative Group

Custom dashboards make reporting and insights efficient and client-facing, transforming all that raw data into easy-to-understand metrics, which tell a more compelling story.

How to build your custom Google Data Studio 

There are a myriad of ways to leverage Google Data Studio for major insights. Here are just a few features we use to help visualize our data.

Keyword rank

This report gives you a snapshot of how many keywords you have in each ranking group and how things are trending. You can also scroll through your list of keywords to see what the traffic-driving queries are.

One cool feature of Data Studio when it comes to rank is period over period comparisons. For example, if you set the date range to the previous week, it will automatically pull week over week rank change. If you set the date range to the previous month, it pulls a month over month rank change.

At Ovative, we do weekly, monthly, and yearly keyword rank change reporting.

Keyword look-up tool

If you notice that traffic has declined in a specific keyword set, pop down to the keyword look-up tool to track rank trends over time. This view is extremely helpful — it shows the progress or decline of rank to help explain traffic variability.

Campaign or priority tracker

To support newly launched pages or priority keywords, create a separate section just for these keywords. This will make it easy for you to quickly check the performance and trends of chosen keyword sets.

What’s next? 

Google Data Studio is only as powerful as you make it.

The STAT API integration in Google Data Studio represents one page of our typical client’s reporting studio; we make sure to add in a page for top-level KPI trends, a page for Search Console keyword performance, and other relevant sources for ease of use for ourselves and the client.

Want more? 

Want to dive deeper into STAT? Got questions about our API? You can book a demo with us and get a personalized walk through. 

You can also chat with our rad team at MozCon this July 15–17 to see how you can go seriously deep with your data. Ask about our specialty API — two additional services to give you everything a 100-result SERP has to offer, and perfect if you’ve built your own connector.

Grab my MozCon ticket now!

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Google’s How News Works, aimed at clarifying news transparency

In May, Google announced the launch of a new website aimed at explaining how they serve and address news across Google properties and platforms.

The site, How News Works, states Google’s mission as it relates to disseminating news in a non-biased manner. The site aggregates a variety of information about how Google crawls, indexes, and ranks news stories as well as how news can be personalized for the end user.

How News Works provides links to various resources within the Google news ecosystem all in one place and is part of The Google News Initiative.

What is The Google News Initiative?

The Google News Initiative (GNI) is Google’s effort to work with news industry professionals to “help journalism thrive in the digital age.” The GNI is driven and summarized by the GNI website which provides information about a variety of initiatives and approaches within Google including:

  • How to work with Google (e.g., partnership opportunities, training tools, funding opportunities)
  • A list of current partnerships and case studies
  • A collection of programs and funding opportunities for journalists and news organizations
  • A catalog of Google products relevant to journalists

Google attempts to work with the news industry in a variety of ways. For example, it provides funding opportunities to help journalists from around the world.

Google is now accepting applications (through mid-July) from North American and Latin American applicants to help fund projects that “drive digital innovation and develop new business models.” Applicants who meet Google’s specified criteria (and are selected) will be awarded up to $300,000 in funding (for U.S. applicants) or $250,000 (for Latin American applicants) with an additional award of up to 70% of the total project cost.

The GNI website also provides users with a variety of training resources and tools. Journalists can learn how to partner with Google to test and deploy new technologies such as the Washington Post’s participation in Google’s AMP Program (accelerated mobile pages).

AMP is an open source initiative that Google launched in February 2016 with the goal of making mobile web pages faster.

AMP mirrors content on traditional web pages, but uses AMP HTML, an open source format architected in an ultra-light way to reduce latency for readers.

News transparency and accountability

The GNI’s How It Works website reinforces Google’s mission to “elevate trustworthy information.” The site explains how the news algorithm works and links to Google’s news content policies.

The content policy covers Google’s approach to accountability and transparency, its requirements for paid or promotional material, copyright, restricted content, privacy/personalization and more.

This new GNI resource, a subsection of the main GNI website, acts as a starting point for journalists and news organizations to delve into Google’s vast news infrastructure including video news on YouTube.

Since it can be difficult to ascertain if news is trustworthy and accurate, this latest initiative by Google is one way that journalists (and the general public) can gain an understanding of how news is elevated and indexed on Google properties.

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Can "Big Content" Link Building Campaigns Really Work?

Posted by willcritchlow

There’s a lot of material out there, on this site and others, about the importance of link-building. Normally, its effectiveness is either taken for granted or viewed as implied by ranking factor studies — the latter of which doesn’t necessarily show that correlated factors actually drive performance. The real picture is one in which links clearly remain important, but where their role is nuanced.

For a while now, I’ve wanted to dig a little deeper into an individual link-building campaign that takes place over a relatively short period of time. I wanted to see what results (besides just link-based metrics) could be attributed to it.

In this post, I will try to pin down the effects that came from the campaign and show that yes, getting a bunch of links from the success of some highly visible “big content’ can drive improved rankings

The reason you don’t see more posts like this one is noisy data — so much goes on with a website’s performance that it can be difficult to draw a hard and fast connection between a campaign and its results for a business’s bottom line. This is especially true for link-building, for three reasons:

  • Websites are naturally accruing links anyway — both the target of the campaign and their competitors
  • To some extent, we anticipate a domain-wide effect, which will as such be proportionately small and hard to pin down vs. noise from the algorithm and competitor activity
  • Links do not have such a step-change impact as technical fixes or creation of new landing pages

However, at Distilled we recently had an opportunity with a particularly strong piece on a niche site to analyze a situation where the impact of our work ought to be more clearly visible among the broader noise. Take a look at these graphs, which show the linking-root domain acquisition of a client of ours over the last two years, as measured by Majestic and Ahrefs respectively:

See what I mean about noise? And I’m saying this is an unusually clear cut case. We actually built nine creative pieces, with link acquisition as one of the goals, for this client, over a two-year period. We’ve talked before about the campaign as a whole, here. There’s one that stands out in both graphs, though which is the one that launched in March 2018.

This gives us a rare, valuable opportunity to see which other metrics, which might have more direct business value, had noticeable changes around that time.

What might we expect to happen?

The theory is simple: Links remain part of Google’s algorithm, and so more links to a site mean better rankings. However, the reality is more complex — in our experience, creative pieces as link-building assets tend to result in two types of links:

  • Links to the creative piece, which in turn links, typically, to the site’s homepage
  • Links directly to the homepage of the client site — e.g. “Research by client (client.com) indicates that…”

The interesting thing here is that for many sites, the homepage is not a core landing page. I’ve written before about how it’s almost impossible to have a good mental model for internal link equity flow, which makes the actual impact of the piece on core pages almost certainly not zero, but otherwise hard to predict. On the same subject, I’d also recommend this video by Dixon Jones at Majestic.

In a similar vein, we also know that the complexities of PageRank are themselves only a part of the unknowable complexities of Google’s ranking algorithm, meaning we can’t guarantee that adding links always moves the needle. I recently recorded this Whiteboard Friday where I mention some recent research by my colleague Tom Capper, which shows how unpredictable these effects can be.

The particular client example I’ve been referring to in this post had two things going for it which, again, brought unusual clarity to these effects:

  1. The homepage was, in fact, a core ranking URL
  2. It was struggling to make its way onto page 1 for many reasonable target terms

Both of these ought to make it an ideal candidate for clearcut benefits from high-quality link building. (This isn’t to say link-building cannot work if these criteria are not met — just that the results will be harder to analyze!)

1st order results

Precisely because of the difficulty in analysis mentioned above, we find clients normally prefer to assess the performance of link-building campaigns in terms of 1st order benefits — by which I mean the performance of the actual creative piece, rather than their commercial landing pages.

The particular piece that stands out in those link acquisition graphs above earned the following 1st order benefits (and I’ve included graphs from our internal tracking platform so you can get a feel for the pace of acquisition):

228 LRDs peak (204 “fresh” index shown below), of which ~145 within a month of launch:

2,140 Facebook shares at the peak, of which ~1,750 within a month of launch:

82,584 landings in Google Analytics, of which ~67,000 within a month of launch:

I mentioned above that not all links tend to be directed at the piece itself, with journalists instead often referencing the homepage. 145 (domain-unique) links were directed at this piece by mid-April, but you’ll notice that March beat an average month by ~200 LRDs, and April also outperformed by ~100. By my back-of-the-envelope maths, you might want to claim as many as 300 LRDs driven to the whole domain by this piece, but your opinion may differ!

Showing the ways it worked

Right, I did say I’d link this at least to rankings, didn’t I?

Remember: This was part of a campaign of 9 pieces, and it launched mid-March, with most 1st order metrics, or leading indicators, coming through within a month (and no major technical changes around this time). There is some signal in among the noise here. Check out this graph, showing the number of keywords ranked for, according to Ahrefs:

Notice that change in gradient after the launch? (And, for the cynics among you, the piece itself only ranks for 20 keywords itself according to this same data source — that wasn’t a primary goal with this content).

Here are the rankings for the client’s (fairly ambitious!) target keywords:

I’d particularly draw your attention to the movement from the “11–20” to “4–10” group, which is consistent with the research by my colleague Tom Capper that I mentioned above. (Sidenote: it was nice to see the client’s Domain Authority increase relative to their competitive set in the recent update. The improvements to DA, aimed at making it better at predicting ranking ability, appear to have worked in this sample-size-one case!).

You can see this pattern more clearly in this graph, which we presented to the client when the campaign concluded late last year:

This effect is surprisingly clear-cut, but it might well be that to continue moving up the SERP, from positions 4–10 to positions 1–3, a very different type of work is needed — perhaps one emphasizing brand, or intent matching.

How can I do this for my site/client?

Here are some useful resources to help when starting on your creative campaigns:

Mark – How to make sticky content

Hannah – What is content strategy

Leonie – How to make award winning creative content – Part 1

Leonie – How to make award winning creative content – Part 2

Conclusion: Big content for links can work

As I mentioned above, it’s surprisingly unusual to see such a clear and obvious case of link-building work moving rankings in a lasting way. This has certain similarities with other such cases we’ve seen in recent years, though:

  • The site started fairly small (if nothing else, this makes the signal bigger relative to the noise)
  • It had target terms that were on the cusp of first-page rankings
  • Some search competitors had far stronger domains

The reports that “links are dead” have, apparently, been greatly exaggerated — instead, it’s just that the picture has gotten more complex.

Obviously Distilled clients are only a finite sample, however, so I’d love to hear your experiences of successful link-building, and, crucially, the kind of situations in which they moved rankings, in the comments below!

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