Categories
Blog SEO

25% of the UK biggest brands fail the mobile-friendly test!

People have been saying that ‘the year of the mobile’ has been here for a while, it now seems as if Google are forcing that issue.

On February the 26th 2015, Google announced on their webmaster central blog that they will be adapting their algorithm to reflect the changing behaviour of their users. This change will see those websites that are mobile-optimised receive a small boost, versus those websites that do not provide a mobile-optimised experience.

Categories
Blog SEO

#SEONOW2015: What does SEO reporting look like in 2015?

This post was originally published on White.net

 

In 2015, brands will move further towards an online marketing target, with each channel playing their part in that goal.

With SEO changing dramatically over the last few years, our reports have to reflect that. These changes have resulted in a move away from ranking positions and the number of links that we have built, to a more content-focussed approach.

This has led to agency and in-house teams providing training to key stakeholders within businesses, who prefer to see clear deliverables and results which links and rankings provide.

Although there will be a move to a more integrated marketing report, there has always been a constant in each report: how your activity compares to the KPIs that you have been set.

Daniel 3

Which on-site metrics should really matter to brands? Why?

The on-site metrics that matter most to your brand are generally individual and should be reverse engineered based on the targets you have been set.

The metrics that you need to use will differ depending on the campaign that you are running. A campaign that is aimed at generating brand awareness (content marketing) is going to have different metrics to a campaign aimed at the conversion end of the funnel.

With that said, there will always be some metrics that need to be used across any campaign, with the majority leading back to content performance and device.

Looking at it from an SEO point of view, landing page performance is crucial. What content is generating the most visits from search engines? What is the conversion rate of those pages, or how many of those pages play a part in the conversion funnel?

If these pages are not playing a part, why not? Are they pages that have the biggest exit percentages, do they have limited time on-page, is the bounce rate too high? By reporting on these figures you will be able to determine how effective these pages are, and whether a campaign needs to be based on improving these pages.

If there is an off-page element to your campaign, then you need to track brand mentions, whilst cross-referencing any citations/links to your referral traffic. This will provide you with a good understanding of whether the placements that you have generated are working and worth further investment.

As mentioned above, we are moving to a more mobile-focussed environment, which needs to be reflected in your report. Therefore understanding what each device category is contributing to your campaign, can often provide great insight and determine how further campaigns are crafted.

Which off-site metrics should really matter to brands? Why?

Reporting on the number of links that you have generated is gone! You should no longer be building quantity of links but instead generating quality links, and this should be reflected in your report.

If through your campaign, you have generated coverage within high-quality publications, then you should report it. This also needs to be supported by referral figures that the link/coverage has generated to support the cost of activity.

Alongside referral traffic from your campagin, you should monitor brand mentions. This is important as it could lead to an increase in direct or social traffic.

Reporting on the number of links that you have generated is gone! You should no longer be building quantity of links but instead generating quality links, and this should be reflected in your report.

How to tell the right story?

Each report that you create needs to be focussed on the KPIs that you have been given. Whether it is an individual campaign that will contribute or on-going work, how does it effect your target?

The story that you tell will be determined by the campaign you are running. Choosing the right metrics will allow you to bring the campaign alive, by showing the successes and failures of campaign.

An important factor when telling your story is being honest. If your campaign has not worked, then do not cover it up with meaningless metrics. Explain what happened, the learnings that you have taken away from it and how they will be implemented into the next campaign.

Linkdex SEONOW 2015
Daniel Bianchini contributes to Linkdex’s SEONOW 2015

When creating your report, make it visual, easy to understand and straight to the point. Creating complicated reports to tell the story will not only confuse those that are reading it, but will likely bring further questions.

Finally, more than anything else, make sure that it always relates back to the KPIs.

If you are interested in reading the full eBook, you can download it from the Linkdex wesbite. I’d be interested in your thoughts on how reporting has changed, and what represents a good SEO report in the comments below or over on twiter @danielbianchini.

Categories
Blog SEO

5 Techniques to Ensure Your Content is User Focused

This post was originally published on State of Digital.

It is all about the user, it always has been and always will be, it is just that we focus on the user in slightly different ways.

With digital marketing, we usually concentrate on keyword and competitor research to determine the type of content that we develop. It becomes all too easy to get wrapped up in our digital world, and forget the needs, wants and desires of those that we are marketing to.

But digital marketing, just like offline marketing, should be putting your target audience at the heart of everything you do. During this post, I will discuss five techniques to help you further understand your audience without using keyword research, ensuring that your content is user focused.

Become an expert, taught by experts

experts

[Image Credit: Flickr]

Stakeholder meetings have become a key part of any online marketing campaign, regardless of the channel that you are working in.

The aim of the meeting is simple, you need to know everything that your internal contact and their colleagues know about the product/service. Immersing yourself within the business is a key part to not only cementing a client/agency relationship, but allowing you to market appropriately.

Some things that have worked well for us at White.net are attending product demonstrations, going on courses, and using the product/service that we are promoting. These things allow us to put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes, which means that we can provide the user with a better experience.

Stakeholder meetings could span several sessions, but by the end you should be well versed in the service/product and know at least:

  • What it is
  • How it works
  • How it benefits the user
  • Whether any changes are happening within the sector
  • What pain points it addresses
  • What the USP is
  • Why it is better than the competition
  • Any technical specifications.

These are just a few of the learnings that you should have gathered from these meetings. This is the only stage during the campaign when the people you are working for, will be working harder than you.

Become a member of the customer service team

On some occasions a series of meetings is just not enough, you need to see how people are interacting with the product and the questions that they are asking.

We often forget that shopping online is not always as useful as touching and using the product. Therefore it is essential to understand the questions that users are asking the business. This can be done easily by shadowing a member of customer services, or sifting through all questions that have been sent.

As you are listening to the customer service representative or searching through all the questions, you need to keep a look out for common themes. Once you have identified these themes, it becomes easier to create content to answer those questions and save the customer services team some time.

This can be quite time consuming and is not always necessary, but on those occasions that it is, you will find some really useful insight into what content your user is looking for.

Surveys

Cheap, easy to create and not hugely intrusive, surveys are a great way to get information on what your users think of the product/service that you offer.

However in my opinion, you need to split your survey audience into two groups: existing customers and potential customers. This way you are more likely to get reliable results as the potential customers are not biased.

When surveying your existing customer base, the best way is to run an email campaign with an incentive to improve participation. By doing it this way you are able to be more specific in the questions that you are asking your customers. Although you may be providing an incentive to answer questions, don’t overdo the number that you ask, keep it to a minimum to get the best possible response.

For new customers, it is likely that you will want to target them when they are leaving the website and not whilst they are browsing it. Again, make sure you ask limited questions, and in my experience a single question for this type of survey will ensure that the user does not get annoyed.

When it comes to setting up a survey there are a lot of tools to use, but I would recommend the following:

Understand your audience through personas

Most businesses have or are in the process of creating personas for their marketing activity. If you have the ability to do so, then ensure that you read through the persona documents that the business has put together.

YouGov_Profiler

Although some persona documents can provide you with limited information, the majority will provide you with a few snippets that can be used to influence your marketing approach.

Some of the key pieces of information that you should include are:

  • Who is your target audience (age/gender)?
  • What channels do they consume content through?
  • What influences a purchase?
  • Do they use social media?
  • Do they use multiple devices when browsing online?

Knowing this information will allow you to tailor some of the marketing content that you would create, to ensure that your target audience and user is taken into consideration. There is no point in creating something that your audience will not be interested in.

If your business does not have or are not in the process of putting together a persona document, then use YouGov Profile tool, as a quick way to understand your users. When using this tool, you may need to find a brand that is a close match if your brand is not within the database.

Focus Groups

Although considered an old tactic within offline marketing and product development, focus groups are becoming increasingly popular within digital marketing.

The aim of the focus group is to understand how people feel about the product/service in an open and honest forum.

You will be able to ask those that use your product/service exactly what information they would like to see on the website, what questions they were asking and whether the website provided the answers. During this session you can get feedback on the product/service and discover how it compares to your competition. When you are running a focus group, ensure that you are prepared so that everything runs as smoothly as possible. You are talking directly to your customers, so you want to ensure they continue to get the best possible service.

Once the session has been completed, you should have a lot of useful notes that will filter into the strategy that you apply when marketing to your users.

And this helps how?

It is a fair question, but how many of you know this type of detail on the product/service that you are promoting? By going through as many of these steps as possible at the start of the campaign, you will gather a large amount of information about your users that keyword and competitor research will not provide you with.

Some of the information that you will have gathered will allow you to start to develop content that, alongside some keyword research, will be user focused.

If you are not confident in running these sessions yourself, then see if the business you are working for are running any internally. I promise you it will be beneficial to your relationship with the business, and to how you approach the campaign.

Are you using any of these techniques already? If not, I would love to hear the alternative ways you do go about ensuring that you are focused on the user, either in the comments below or on twitter @danielbianchini.

[Featured Image Credit: Flickr]

Categories
Blog Events

SMX London – Chris Sherman Interview

This post was originally published on White.net

This week I had the opportunity to interview Chris Sherman, Founding Editor of SearchEngineLand.com about the upcoming SMX London event. During the interview, Chris gives his insight on the event, the agenda and his thoughts on the search industry in 2015.

If you are interested in going to SMX London and you want some discount, then you are in luck. The lovely people at SMX have provided us with a 15% discount code when signing up by simply add WHITESMX at the registration page.

The below is a transcript of the interview recording.

Daniel Bianchini (DB):Hello Chris, thanks for taking the time to speak to me.

Chris Sherman: Sure.

DB: Really looking forward to SMX coming up in May. So I just really wanted to get some of your thoughts about a couple of key points that I sent across, if that’s okay?

CS: Sure. It sounds great.

DB: So the first one is, obviously, SMX is back in London. What can we expect from this year’s conference? Is there any surprises you can let the audience in on?

CS: I don’t think we’re gonna have any surprises. The real advantage that I think we have in running SMX in London in May is that it comes right between our SMX West and our SMX Advanced show.

During the process of planning the show, we get to not only see what’s new, what’s happening and so on in San Jose at SMX West, but we’re also thinking forward to what we’re gonna run at SMX Advanced in Seattle.

So in my mind, SMX London gets the best of both worlds. We kind of distill the content that we think is really, really useful from both of those shows, and of course it’s not entirely U.S. based approach. We try to look at what’s happening in the U.K., what’s happening in Europe and so on. But we really do get a lot of advantages from having the timing right when it is.

DB:I was at SMX Advanced in Seattle last year. I was lucky enough to manage to come across and I really enjoyed it.

So how do you think the content there differs with the content that you have over in the U.K.? Like you said, you try and get the best of both worlds. But is there a difference?

CS: Yeah. There is a difference. I mean, with SMX London, as with most of the rest of our SMX shows, we try to have a balance between advanced and intermediate content. We really don’t do a whole lot of basic content anymore because we feel that most people who are coming to the shows do have the basics already down.

So it’s gonna be a nice broad range of topics that we’re covering. We do have some of the same sessions that we are running at SMX Advanced running in London. So people who are experienced will have the advantage of getting that content.

There will be different speakers. That’s the nice thing about London is we tend to have more U.K. and European based speakers, so we get a different perspective, but we still get that great content that we really get at SMX events.

DB:That’s interesting. Obviously you have been coming to the U.K. for quite awhile now. How do you think the content has changed throughout time?

CS: Oh, it has been fascinating. I’ve actually been involved in programming search conferences for over 15 years now. When we first started doing them it was just so, so basic. We were only interested in what’s your search engine ranking and how many hits does a page get, and so on.

It was simple stuff. Over time it has involved to be this incredibly complex, very rich sort of process. I mean, when we first started doing it there were no ads, for example. I mean, it was all just organic search. Now we have ads. We’ve got mobile. We have so many things. Social media.

It’s just become this incredibly rich and fascinating sort of process that we have to get involved with and it changes constantly. So to keep up with it, it’s really a full time job.

DB:Do you think there’s been any trends that have stayed consistent or has it completely flipped?

CS: Well, it’s interesting, because when people ask this question I always have consistently, for the past 15 years had pretty much the same response. The content and the way that you actually get stuff out to people is very consistent. You still have to have great content. You have compelling ads. All that kind of stuff.

Yet many people say, “Well, wait a minute. Isn’t there some secret sauce? Isn’t there some brand new formula that we have to be paying attention to and so on?”

Yes, there is, there are. Things change constantly. But in that constant change if you don’t have the good content, if you don’t have the compelling advertising and so on, you don’t have any chance. That’s something that we continue to focus on at the conferences.

DB:We’ve all seen the change in the content over the years. Agencies generally tend to come to these type of events a lot more than in-house members, is sort of the way I see things. Why should those in house people come along to SMX London, rather than just follow it on blogs and Twitter?

CS: Well, I think you’ve seen live blogging. You have seen tweets and so on. That kind of stuff is great. It’s really good to kind of dip your foot, so to speak, into the flow of what’s going on. But you really don’t get the context that you get when you’re at the event itself. You don’t get the nuances of actually watching speakers, seeing their body language, in many cases. Getting the subtle nuances that come through when you hear an actual full conversation or presentation.

There are little things like that. But then also at the event itself, a huge part of it is the networking with the other attendees so that you can see a presentation, you have a break, blog and actually discuss what you’ve just heard with other people who are there.

The opportunity to exchange tips, exchange ideas, and that whole learning process, you can’t get that if you just do it by reading live blogs or on Twitter. So I think that’s a very, very compelling reason for people to actually attend the event itself.

DB:I’m very much an advocate of those, just to network and then making sure they speak to people after the show or straight after the presentation to make sure that they can clarify any points they were a bit concerned about.

So the next section I’m taking a look at the agenda and I wanted to just talk about that, if that’s okay.

CS: Sure.

DB: keyword research is a huge part of search marketing, both organic and paid. With the removal of the keyword data, obviously, and the focus starting to move towards the user, how do you think this changes the way we look at keyword research?

CS: Well, I think keyword research is and will always be very important. I mean, that’s fundamentally the way search engines work regardless of the improvements and the algorithms and so on. You’re basically taking a string of words and trying to match that to content on the web.

Until we really get full AI based voice search, that’s not gonna change very much. What’s changed is that the search engines are going beyond just the simple strings of keywords and they’re actually looking at content. They are looking at more semantic intent.Also intent. That’s the key word. What is the person really trying to accomplish when they’re using a search engine?

So I think the search engines are looking at much more of a behavior that’s going on and trying to help people understand beyond what the simple words that are being typed in. What is it that we can do to really solve this person’s problem or satisfy their information need?

So I think from the standpoint of somebody doing SEO, keyword research has to become much more about what are the different personas? What are the needs, and how can we create content that’s gonna be really rich that will help satisfy these needs?

So the keywords, again, I think they’re fundamentally important, but it’s much more than that, the way that search engines work these days.

DB:With keyword research comes content and that’s become a huge, huge topic since the changes Google made over the last few years.With content moving on to be a bit more creative, a bit more visual. What’s the best piece of content you have come across and why, or several?

CS: It will probably sound trite, but I’ll say Shakespeare. It goes back hundreds of years, but there’s a reason that Shakespeare was relevant in his time and still is now. I mean, it’s just absolutely amazing stuff that this guy wrote.

I think to be more contemporary, there’s stuff that I see being created every day. To your point, it really is all about creativity. But again, going back to what we were talking about earlier, I think again, compelling content is something that satisfies a need. I think if people really wrap their heads around that concept, creating that kind of compelling content becomes much easier.

It doesn’t have to be Shakespeare. It could be something as simple as, where can I find the best tool for this task that I’m trying to provide. Even mundane things like that, you can create very, very compelling stuff if you get creative and really try and help the person that has that need.

DB: Grand. So, just taking another step in a different direction, there’s also a panel this year, which is great. Past panels involving employees for search engines have generally become quite heated, which is obviously great. I really enjoyed the SMX Advanced one last year with Matt Cutts.

What are you hoping to hear from the search engines representatives this year during the Meet a Search Engine session?

CS: Well it’s gonna be very interesting. The search engines, we’re really lucky to have them at the event. It’s great to have representation from Google, from Bing. In past years we’ve actually had Baidu, we’ve had Yandex, we’ve had other search engines.

It’s always difficult to know because they have an interest in, obviously, engaging with their customers, which is really what the SEO community is in a large degree. But they also have competitive issues. So it’s almost like a dance trying to get them to reveal interesting things and sometimes it does get heated, as you said. Other times it’s more, “Well, come on. We’re really trying to draw you out.”

I don’t honestly know what we’re gonna hear this year. Sometimes it’s very, very interesting. Very deep and, “Wow, this is really gonna change my life as a search marketer.” Other times it’s, “Well, things are just sort of business as usual.”

But it’s my job as moderator of that session to really do the probing and really trying to get at them. Quite honestly, I don’t know yet how I’m going to approach that. But it’s definitely something that I’m gonna have fun with and really try to see what we can come up with in that session.

DB: I’m really looking forward to that. I’m quite interested to see how you’re gonna get some, extrainformation out of them, shall we say. When you talk about search, social media is never far form the discussion.

CS: Right.

DB: How do you feel that search and social is best used together, and whether it is essential to every business?

CS: Well, it’s a good question. We’re actually running an entire track on search and social. One of the things that’s actually emerging as a theme is that search and social, I think until quite recently, have been thought of as very, very different species, almost, in marketing. But, in fact, they’re [inaudible 00:11:36] and they can amplify the effects, one or the other.

In the past we’ve kind of focused on that as well. Do this on Facebook or Twitter. Then you might have this kind of impact on your search results and drive traffic and so on. But that was always kind of done in an almost ad hoc way. I think what we’re seeing emerging now is people really analytically looking at how do we make these two things work together?

What are the tools that we have? What are the sort of reports, the metrics, the things that we can measure and conclusively prove that, hey, this is the way you should really be approaching this. Then how can we take that amplification effect and really magnify it so that we’re not just having a really effective search campaign, we’re not just having a really effective social campaign, but we’re seeing ripple effects based on what we’re doing with both that really, really compound the overall effect of both sides of the equation, if you will.

So I think we’re gonna see a lot of people talking about, here are the real techniques. Here are the real analytics. It’s gonna be very tangible and real information rather than we just have a gut clench that this is gonna work.

DB: Okay. Thank you very much for that. Just take a little step away from SMX and the agenda. I wanted to just talk about the industry a little bit. So in 2014 it continued to be a year of change in the search industry. Any reports on what Google specifically has up their sleeve this year, and whether we’ll see any other animals begin with the name P?

CS: It’s a really good question because again, as I said I’ve been watching the search space for well over 15 years. Every year, in my mind, has been a year of significant change. It continues to just astonish me how things keep evolving and keep progressing.

I think we’re not gonna see the kind of dramatic changes that we have in the past few years with the various algorithms, with the knowledge graph and so on. But what we’re starting to see, and I notice this literally almost every day when I’m using Google now, is I think that AI within Google has become so good that the AI itself is actually starting to make changes to how Google works.

Google will not talk about this. They will not publicly admit it. They acknowledge that they’re using AI and so on, but I think, as much as what Google is planning in terms of the change to their algorithms, the improvements that they’re making and so on, I think there’s a subtler change going on. The software itself has actually reached a stage where it’s improving on its own.

I have no proof of this. I have no way to substantiate it. It’s just more that I have been using Google since it started in 1998. My sense is that I’m seeing changes that I haven’t seen before, and I don’t really know what to make of them other than, well, maybe the AI really is here. So I think that’s gonna be an interesting thing to watch going forward. Maybe I’m crazy. Maybe I’m wrong. But that’s my sense.

DB: I’d be very interesting to keep an eye on that, like you said, and seeing how that goes. So we’re just going to talk about this year specifically. What do you think will be the biggest trend in 2015, and what do you think practitioners such as myself will be doing a lot more of in the search marketing campaigns during 2015?

CS: Well, I hate to say it because it’s kind of a cliche but I think mobile. I mean, this is the year, if not already, where people are active more on mobile devices than they are on desktop, and not just mobile devices itself, but voice. I think voice is becoming a huge thing. It’s gonna be very interesting to see. I’m not entirely clear yet what the implications are in terms of how you have to alter your SEO efforts. Obviously, the ads are different. There’s in app stuff that is starting to emerge that is very interesting, that’s very different. Both Google and Bing are surfacing things from within apps. So I think mobile is gonna be probably the thing that most people are gonna be focusing a lot more on this year than they have in the past.

DB: That’s very interesting. I think, obviously a lot has come out over the recent weeks. Google’s recent announcement of mobile and the ranking factors. So, mobile is definitely something I would agree is gonna be huge this year, if not last year as well.

If you have to choose one, and I know this is putting you on the spot a little bit. What do you think is currently the most influential important ranking factor signal?

CS: That’s a really good question, too. I think we’ve actually moved beyond what’s the most important one? Obviously in the past it was links. I mean, you could argue a good case right now that it’s content, but there’s no good definition of what is quality content, and so on.

I don’t know. Again, depending on whose studies you look at, there are anywhere from several hundred to several thousand ranking signals that come into play. My sense with that is that depends entirely on the type of site that you have, the content that you’re providing, or what you’re trying to accomplish with your marketing.

So the ranking factors are gonna vary. If you’re local, obviously it’s gonna be some local signals that are gonna come into play. If you’re a retailer it’s gonna be process and all that kind of stuff. So I don’t think there is any one overall kind of signal anymore in the past that links were. I think it’s probably also gonna become much more diluted, if you will. We’re gonna have many, many more signals. They are gonna be starting to be used in very more complex and nuanced ways.

So I think that’s good for searchers. It’s gonna make our jobs as search marketers quite a bit more challenging to try and understand. Okay again, it’s getting back into the head of the searcher, because I think that’s what the search engines are trying to do themselves in terms of understanding, what can we do to make the best possible experience for the people that are using this?

DB: And finally. How would you compare the strength of search marketers in the U.K. to those offered out of the U.S.A.?

CS: I would put them on a par. This is interesting because in the past, quite honestly, when we would program the conferences I would kind of gauge. Features that we rolled out in the U.S. and they wouldn’t come to the U.K. for a year or two or three years later.

But I think that’s changed. Everything is pretty much equal now around the world. Maybe a little less so in some other parts of the world. But definitely in the U.K. it’s absolute parity with the U.S. We program our shows with that in mind. We don’t think there’s any difference at all. So we’re trying to bring absolutely the best quality programming, the best speakers that we possibly can to the U.K. shows just like we do in the United States.

DB: Great. Well, thank you for taking the time to speak to me. I’m really looking forward to SMX in May.

CS: That’s great.

DB: I look forward to seeing you then.

CS: Sounds good. Thank you, Dan.

DB: Thank you very much, Chris.

Categories
Blog SEO

6 Tools You Should be Using to Inspire Your Content

This post was originally published on State of Digital

Content, Content, Content. It is the most talked about subject in our industry and rightly so. However, it is becoming increasingly more difficult to create new, fresh ideas for your niche as everyone online has become a publisher.

Some create content just for the sake of it, others really go into depth and try to create the very best resource for that subject. No matter which of these two categories you fall into, the six tools I have provided below will help you to continue creating the content you need.

Content Explorer – aHrefs

The Content Explorer tool within the aHrefs suite is relatively new. Similar to BuzzSumo, you search for a topic and it will return a list of the most shared and linked-to content within the database.

ahrefs

The feature I really like is the advanced search. This allows you to be more specific in your search through the use of boolean operators, groupings, and even by the domain. This tool means you can easily spot content that has been successful for both your own website, but also for your competitors.

Just because it has been done before, does not necessarily mean it cannot be done better!

Uber Suggest

Commonly known as being awesome at helping with keyword research, Uber Suggest can also be used for content inspiration. By providing you with the search terms from Google Suggest, the tool throws up some great ideas.

ubersuggest

If you can, then use multiple country locations to get the most out of the tool and enhance the topic that you have identified. Combining multiple searches will also ensure that the topic you are writing about is extremely well covered.

Quora/Yahoo Questions

This tool is an obvious choice to use, but one that seems to be easily forgotten. Consumers often use Q&A sites to get answers for those questions that they need answering.

Spending just 30 minutes a day looking around these sites will provide you with enough content ideas for a month! The key here is to be broad with your original search, and then when you identified a topic get more specific. This will allow you to really drill down to the topic that you have identified.

Topsy

Creating content is not always about what people have been looking for in the past, but also what they are sharing in the present. Being proactive is key, in order to understand what people are sharing right now, and to see if you can create something better.

topsy

Using tools such as Topsy, will allow you to stay on top of the different types of content that is being shared by your audience right now.

Hubspot Blog Topic Generator

Can’t think of what to write? You are in need of blog title inspiration. Hubspot have created a very simple, easy to use but useful tool that helps create blog titles for you, based on the keywords that you provide.

hubspot

They openly admit that the algorithm is not highly sophisticated, and may require some amending but it will definitely give you something to work with.

Your Own Analytics – Looking at old posts.

One tool that is often overlooked when generating content ideas is your own analytics package. Although not an obvious choice, there is no better place to see how your old content performed and whether it is still performing well.

Take a look at the content that was created 12-18 months ago, did it receive much traffic? Does it still? If you answer yes to one or both of those questions, then how much social media attention did it get? If this generated a significant amount, and I do not necessarily mean thousands of shares, this piece may be worth rewriting and republishing.

If you can find 5 – 10 posts that are worth rewriting, then you save yourself a lot of time. It is a tried and tested piece of content that can be updated regularly and kept current.

These are just some of the tools that I use to help during my content idea generation process. What tools do you use? I would love to hear your thoughts on the tools I mentioned above, either in the comments or on twitter @danielbianchini.

[Flickr Credit – Michael Phillips]

Categories
Blog SEO

KEYWORD OPPORTUNITIES: 4 TOOLS THAT WILL OPEN YOUR EYES

This post was originally published on the SEMrush blog

Finding keyword opportunities is becoming more and more difficult, with the markets we work in becoming even more competitive.

I recently wrote a post that went through my five steps to spotting keyword opportunities using a piece of campaign management software, but there are lots of tools that can help you to spot keyword opportunities.

When you use these four useful tools together, they can help you to spot an array of keyword opportunities and determine the effort that is required to gain visibility within the search engines.

Keyword Opportunities-

Open Your Eyes with (Now Provided)

The first place that you should look to for keyword opportunities is the one place that is most often overlooked – your own website! Understanding what terms you are currently ranking for, and what traffic they are driving, should be your first port of call.

The (Now Provided) tool allows you to see what terms you are ranking for within the top 20 of either the UK or US market for your chosen search engine and merges them with Google Analytics organic landing page data.

This not only allows you to see what keywords are behind the success of your content, but also provides keyword topics that have potential but may need more emphasis.

Now-Provided-KWR

As well seeing what pages are performing well, (Now Provided) will also allow you to understand those terms that may require more in-depth pages to be created to provide the best possible resource for the users search query.

Once you have run the tool, don’t forget to export the data so that you can start to create your keyword opportunity topics.

Domain vs. Domain Analysis by SEMrush

Now that you have an understanding of those terms that are driving traffic to specific pages, what about those terms that your competitors are targeting?

SEMrush provides a great resource within their tool suite, which compares domains and shows how you are performing versus your major competitors.

SEMrush

The tool will provide you with a list of terms that you and your competitor(s) both rank for when you add their URL(s) vs. your own. If you export the results into a spreadsheet and filter by those terms that are ranking in positions 10-20 within your chosen search engine and market, you can identify terms that will further enhance your list of keyword opportunities.

By merging this list with that identified by (Now Provided), you will start to collate a good list of keyword topic opportunities. At this point it, is worth tagging the terms into categories/topic groups to help with the selection process.

Go Long Tail with Keywordtool.io

Although you will have already found some good opportunities, it is essential to create the very best resource for your users, and therefore you need to cover the topic in full.

Using your opportunity list, take the head term of each keyword topic and run it through Keywordtool.io. This will provide you with a list of results that users are currently searching for and are appearing in Google suggest.

keywordtool.io

By exporting the list and running the terms through Google’s Keyword Planner, you will get another good list of terms to make your resource a lot more effective. The next step is to trim that list down to those that are real opportunities and fit within the keyword topic you are targeting.

Competition? What Competition? – Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool

Now that you have a list of keyword opportunities, you need to prioritize them by how difficult it would be to achieve the visibility that you want.

There are many tools that are starting to implement their own keyword difficulty metric, but the one that has been around the longest is the Moz Keyword Difficulty Tool.

Although time consuming, getting a keyword score for each term and then averaging the score for each keyword topic quickly provides you with a quick understanding of what effort is going to be required.

SEOmoz-KW-Difficulty

With all the data you’ve gathered from the tools mentioned above, you will be in a commanding position and able to pursue the right keyword opportunity at the right time.

These are just four tools that I use to help spot keyword opportunities. Do you use any of these tools? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below or over on twitter @danielbianchini.

Categories
Blog SEO

5 Steps to Spotting Keyword Opportunities

This post was originally published on State of Digital

It’s a bit late to say it’s a new year with new opportunities, but I am going to say it anyway! We have all been busy building out new campaigns, and trying to find opportunities for our clients or brands that we work with, as we get full flow into 2015.

One thing that I have been working on a lot over the past few months, is spotting opportunities. Whether that is for existing clients, or for potential clients through pitch meetings and I wanted to share my ideas with you.

The process is a simple, and easy one to follow, but the start requires time and patience, however the outcome could be amazing!

Before we start, some housekeeping – I am using dummy data, and I have no affiliation to any of the brands mentioned in my examples. :) I am using Linkdex as a tool (our software provider), but all of this could be done within a spreadsheet, although that requires a little bit of work.

Now that is out of the way, let’s begin!

Gather the right data, not ALL the data!

There are two very important but time consuming steps to identifying the right opportunities, and the first is keyword research.

We are all capable of doing keyword research, so I won’t go into too much detail here, but just make sure that the terms that you are targeting are highly relevant.

To help gather this information, I use a combination of the following tools:

Conducting your keyword research using these tools should help you come up with a comprehensive list of highly relevant terms.

One thing that I would recommend, that I think is overlooked far too often is, looking at the search terms that you are already visible for. These terms may be ranking page 2+, but it is a clear sign that the search engine is finding them relevant for certain terms.

A quick way of finding the search terms you are already visible for is running your website through SEMrush. They will provide all the terms that the website ranks for within the top 20.

Whilst conducting your keyword research, make sure that for every keyphrase you get the following data based on an exact match query:

  • Monthly Search Volumes
  • Average CPC
  • and get the keyphrase ranking whilst you are at it

This will become helpful when identifying the opportunity. Hopefully, by now you will have a large number of keywords in your spreadsheet ready to start tagging.

Keyword-list

Tagging by Topic

No, we are not running a PPC campaign here, but we should be using some of the methods that PPC practitioners have been using for years.

Tagging keywords into specific groups/topics, allow you to be more granular with your analysis to spot the opportunity.

Some of the keyword research that I have come across, on most occassions have tags associated to the very top level. They have been tagged simply as high, medium or low, which is OK, but doesn’t really provide you with the information you need.

If you are keen on using the high, medium and low tags, then I would suggest that you use them in collaboration with more specific tags.

For tagging keywords, I like to keep it simple, and related to the website that you are working on, therefore I use the navigation structure.

As an example of what a tagging structure could look like is as follows:

Category
Category – Sub-category
Category – Sub-category – Product

You are also likely to want to include a modifier tag as part of your process, such as location, price, style, etc.

Location
Location – London
Location – Ediburgh

For my example, and since I am looking at the cruise industry I used the following tag method.

Brand (Everything related to a specific brand).
Brand – Cruise Liner (Everything relate to a specific brands ships).
Brand – Cruise Liner – Ship Name (Everything to a specific ship for a specific brand).
Brand – Cruise Liner – Ship Name – Details (Everything that related to a specific ships specification, for a specific brand).

keyword-tagging

There were others, but this should give you the idea.

Now you understand the tagging process, you need to go through each keyphrase giving a tag or mulitple tags if required.

For the search term “Balmoral deck plan” I would give the following tags.

Brand (Fred Olsen)
Brand – Cruise Liner (Becuase it is a cruise liner)
Brand – Cruise Liner – Balmoral (Keyword targeting a specifc ship)
Brand – Cruise Liner – Balmoral – Detail (Keyword is targeting specific details of a ship)

This may look like overkill, but when you come to analysing it becomes key to see where the opportunities really lie.

This process is very time consuming, and you could automate it to a certain extent, but it is a very important step. Adding a keyword to the wrong tag could mean missing a huge opportunity, so make time to do this properly.

Once you have completed this, you can either upload it to your SEO software (Linkdex in my case), or you can continue the analysis within a spreadsheet.

Analysing opportunities by tag

Once uploaded to Linkdex, the software will do a lot of the hard work for you. They will provide you with estimated traffic based on ranking positions and search volume, as well as providing you with how much the current levels of traffic would cost through PPC activity.

If you are using a spreadsheet, you can do the maths through formulae by using estimated click through rates, and the search volume figures you have.

Now it is time to start analysing your keywords at a tag level (Group Analysis in Linkdex) to identify any noticeable opportunities.

When looking at the data provided by Linkdex, or filtered in your spreadsheet it is key to not be too focused on the search volume column.

Take a look at all the data provided, with a keen look at the number of keyphrases ranking within the top 20. There is no point in starting to target terms that have lots of search volume, but no current rankings. Start by looking at the keywords that are ranking, but also have good search volumes as these are realistic opportunities.

Fred-Olsen-Opportunity

Once you have identified an opportunity, such as Fred Olsen highlighted in the image above, it is time to look at the tags at a more granular level.

Fred-Olsen-Opportunity-Granular

Looking at the more specific tags that have been identified within the Fred Olsen branded tag, it is clear to see that they all have very good potential, and are only driving very limited estimated traffic.

On initial view, this looks like we have an opportunity, but we need to see what a forecasted return would be.

What is the potential – Forecasting

Forecasting is a dubious subject within the SEO industry, as there are so many variables, and the limited accurate data that is available, but C-Levels want to see what there return would be.

Forecasting within Linkdex is easy, using the forecast tool. Select the keyword tag that you want, identify the target window that you will improve, and estimate where you will get them in terms of rankings. By doing this, the forecast tool will estimate the uplift in traffic.

Fred-Olsen-Opportunity-Forecasting

This can also be done using a spreadsheet (we have one internally), to provide the current rankings and estimated potential rankings that will provide a new traffic figure.

But this data alone, will not necessarily swing the decision for you or the C-Level that you will be reporting too.

The next step would be to add in a conversion rate and an average order value to provide you with a return.

In this case it was £108,884,34 per month, and yes that is just for one tag!

But, before we get carried away, let’s ensure that the competition isn’t too strong, and we get nowhere near our targets.

Identify, analyse and judge

Before we go to the C-Level with a great opportunity, we need to do our due diligence on the competition. Who are they? What terms are they ranking for and with what content? Can we realistically compete with them for these terms?

A quick competitor analysis will allow you to find that information and provide the final piece to the jigsaw.

With all this information, you can decide if you have an opportunity that is worth taking to the C-Level to invest in.

These are my steps to identifying an opportunity, and they can be used for any brand or business. The time consuming parts of the process are at the start, but once you have the keywords, and they are tagged properly, identifying the opportunity is the easy bit!

I hope this is useful. I’d love to know how you spot keyword opportunities, and whether you agree or disagree with my approach either in the comments or on twitter: @danielbianchini.

[Flickr Image Credit]

Categories
Blog Presentations

4 steps to building a data-driven strategy [Presentation]

This post was originally published on White.net

On Monday 24th November, I gave a presentation on building a data-driven strategy at White Exchange.

Categories
Blog SEO

Decisions, Decisions! The Marketing Software Dilemma

This post was originally published on State of Digital

Software is big business! Marketing software and online marketing software in particular is big business. Only recently, Hubspot floated on the New York Stock Exchange with a “closing price [which] reflects an overall valuation of $913 million” according to the WBUR. That’s nearly a billion dollars for a marketing software company!

Although we already knew it (or we should have), it goes to show the potential that is out there for digital.

Although HubSpot is one of the more successful forms of online marketing software that is available, there are lots of tools on offer to us as online marketers. There are many examples that I could have chosen, but staying close to search and SEO specifically, I have chosen link analysis products. This is a competitive niche, and has become an essential part of the marketing mix especially with the algorithm changes and Penguin updates.

Below is a small list of different software providers or companies that offer a link analysis service:

  • Majestic
  • aHrefs
  • Open Site Explorer
  • Search Metrics
  • Linkdex
  • Bright Edge
  • Web Me Up
  • Open Link Profiler

All the above provide some kind of link data for analysis. Some of the above use the Majestic API and then add an extra layer of filtering on top. Some, however, have their own indexes that may or may not provide different results. But for the majority, the main difference between each is how they present that data to us.

How many of the above do you use? Four? Five?

It’s great to have these options, and the list is unlikely to reduce – in fact they are likely to increase – but how many do you need? How much will they all cost? Do they all do something different? And this is just for a small niche within the SEO industry.

There is lots of content about what tools you should have, and why, but how do you evaluate why you need them? The next part of this post takes you through how we evaluate tools at White.net, and how we make that all so difficult decision.

Try before you buy

We trial everything. Well when I mean everything, I mean the tools that we are interested in. This is THE most important step when deciding whether a tool is going to be an asset to your wider set.

Most tools will provide some kind of trial, whether it is 30 day access, a demo or a free version. If there doesn’t seem to be one available, then get in touch with them as I’m sure that they will provide you with limited access.

Once you have access to a trial, make sure that you actually test it. I can’t remember how many times in the past we have had a software trial only to let it run out without putting it through its paces. To stop this from happening, we now give one of our teams the task of testing the tool. They use it for client work, as well as any internal projects that we are running. Once the free trial has expired, the team provide their feedback on whether they feel that it is a valuable addition to the marketing mix.

This feedback is key. If you force tools onto your teams that they don’t need or feel add any value, you will find yourself spending a lot of money and not getting much from it.

Nice to have or must have?

During the trial, the team needs to very carefully consider whether the tool is a must have, or just a nice to have.

The reason for this is simple, there are many tools available that do exactly the same job. To understand whether the tool is going to be valuable or not, you need to create bespoke criteria to judge it on. This allows you to have a more analytical approach to determining whether the tool will be valuable.

Try not to fall down the trap of just getting a tool because you see people on social media raving about it. Make sure the tool will add value to what you are doing. Just because a tool is right for them, doesn’t necessarily mean it’s right for you!

Cost

No matter whether you are agency, in-house or a freelance consultant, cost can be a sticking point and needs to be a consideration throughout the process. Tools can range from being free, to being charged based on credits resulting in variable monthly or annual costs.

So there you have it, three areas that we analyse before determining whether we need to add any extra software to our marketing mix.

How do you determine whether you need a tool? Do you have a process of evaluation or is it more of a purchase first, cancel later? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below, or on Twitter @danielbianchini.