Advanced Search Operators for Yahoo, Bing and Google

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Advanced Search Operators for Yahoo, Bing and Google was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

When you search, do you find exactly what you’re looking for the first time?

Have you ever used advanced search filters to find everything the engine knows about a specific subject or website, efficiently?

If not, it’s time to raise your search skills. Search like a robot ninja with search engine operators.

advanced search operators social image

Advanced Search Engine Operators

Digital and search marketing professionals (aka ninjas) routinely use search operators to filter results from the search engine (aka robots). Search ninja skills are useful for wrangling the robot when:

  • Researching a site you’re optimizing.
  • Locating something specific online.
  • And investigating the competitive field.

What are search operators? A prefix or addition to a query in Google, Bing or Yahoo that limits the results set. One common example: You can put quotation marks around your query to find results with the exact phrase. We use exact match search to find sites that are duplicating our clients’ content, for example.

I use the site: search operator daily to limit results to a specified domain. It helps me find articles published on this site on a topic I’m writing about so I can strategically link internally, or to locate the URL of the exact post I need to answer someone’s question.

Each search engine has its own set of advanced search operators. Here’s the official documentation from today’s three major engines, Yahoo, Bing and Google.

In the table below you’ll find the search engine operators that we routinely use in SEO research.

(It’s not an all-inclusive list, so if you’re really looking to up your ninja robot search skills, explore those links above to learn about search operators like stocks:, which serves up stock information for ticker symbols.)

When you get comfortable with a few of these commands, you can find what you’re looking for faster. Below the table we explain how we use the advanced operators in our own SEO ninja research to plumb the depths of the search engines’ bots.

Google Bing Yahoo Result
cache: Shows the version of the web page from the search engine’s cache.
related: Finds web pages that are similar to the specified web page.
info: Presents some information that Google has about a web page, including similar pages, the cached version of the page, and sites linking to the page.
define: define: or definition: define: or definition: Provides a definition of a keyword. You must insert a space between the colon and the query in order for this operator to work in Yahoo and Bing.
site: site: site: Finds pages only within a particular domain and all its subdomains.
allintitle: Finds pages that include all query words as part of the indexed title tag.
intitle: intitle: intitle: Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of the indexed title tag. You must include a space between the colon and the query for the operator to work in Bing.
allinurl: Finds a specific URL in the search engine’s index. You must include http:// in the URL you enter.
inurl: Finds pages that include a specific keyword as part of their indexed URLs.
link: Presents a selection of pages that link to the specified page.
meta: Finds pages that contain the specific keyword in the meta tags.
+ Requires that the word following the plus sign is in the results. An example use is [cats +musical] where there is no space between the plus sign and the keyword that is required in the results.
Removes results that contain the word following the minus sign. This search operator is added on to the keyword or phrase being searched for. It should follow the search query. For example, the query [cats -musical] will give you results about cats without the word musical on the page.
“search term” “search term” “search term” Finds instances of the exact phrase within the quotation marks everywhere it appears within the search engine’s index. Substitute [search term] in the search operator with the exact phrase you’re searching for.

 

How to Use Advanced Search Operators for Marketing Research

Here is how we use the search commands above for SEO research. In the example queries below, the searched phrase is in square brackets.

The cache: command (example query: [cache:http://www.bruceclay.com]) shows you a search engine’s cached version of a page. This is how the search engine actually sees your page. Cache shows what page content the search engine considers relevant to retrieve, making this Google search operator a valuable SEO diagnostic tool.

The related: operator (example query: [related:http://www.bruceclay.com]) gives you a glimpse of competitor content. You’ll see a small selection of what Google considers to be similar content, which you can analyze against SEO metrics — including word count, keyword use, meta data and inbound links — so that you can make your page equal to and then better than its competition.

Using the info: command in Google (example query: [info:http://www.bruceclay.com]) will result in links to a collection of these advanced search operators. It’s a one-stop shop to access the cache:, related:, link:, site:, and quotation mark exact match results.

In cases where you’re using a search engine as a dictionary, you can remove ambiguity and irrelevant search results and get straight to the definition with the define: operator (example query: [define:Boolean]).

Use the site: command (example query: [site:bruceclay.com]  to see how many web pages from a domain and its subdomains the search engine has indexed. Combine the site: operator with a keyword following the domain and you’ll see all pages on that site that are relevant for your search phrase. For example, [site:bruceclay.com 301 redirect] finds all the pages on this site with indexed content about 301 redirects.

With the search operators allintitle: and intitle: (example query: [allintitle: SEO keyword research]) you find who is your competition using your keywords in title tags. Similarly, the commands allinurl: and inurl: let you identify the competition using keywords in URLs.

The Google advanced search operator link: (example query: [link:http://www.bruceclay.com]) shows you the number of pages linking to a URL, whether your client’s or your competitors’ sites. You might devise new linking opportunities from this insight.

The Bing search operator meta: (example query: [meta: personal injury lawyer]) lets you view the pages in Bing’s index with your keywords in the meta description and meta keywords tags, helping you to identify your competition.

In Yahoo, you can use the + sign before a keyword to make sure that a word is in the results. It’s a tool to refine results when a query might otherwise be ambiguous. For example, the query [cats +musical] will help filter out results about cats the animal.

Another refinement tool, the sign before a keyword will remove results with that word. Again, it’s a tool to help refine results when a query might otherwise be ambiguous. If you’re looking for info about cats the animal, but there’s a showing of Cats the musical in your town, you can search [cats -musical] to remove results about the theater production.

Include a phrase in quotes (example query: [“Here is how we use the search commands above for SEO research”] to find that exact phrase within the search engine’s index. One reason you might search for an exact string of text is to check for duplicate content that may be causing your content to be filtered out of results (i.e., how many pages does Google have in its index containing that exact phrase). Another reason you might search for an exact phrase is to see if the search engine has indexed a page that contains that phrase.

Did You Love This Search Operators Cheat Sheet?

Feel like a robot ninja yet?! We’re full of hacks for digital marketing! (It’s what we do!) Learn more ways to get better rankings, better PPC performance, and better digital ROI by subscribing to our blog.

July 15th 2016 bing, Google, SEO, yahoo

5 Technical Factors to Check When Your Search Rankings Take a Dive

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by Jayson DeMers

In an ideal world, your SEO strategy would be on a constant, steadily forward-moving trajectory. As you invest more time and effort into your online presence, your rankings would gradually increase–with no interruptions. However, this is almost never the case. Eventually, no matter how careful or experienced you are, you’ll run into a ranking drop that leaves you frustrated and confused.

The problem is, SEO and online visibility are such complicated topics that they’re impossible to reduce to single variables. Everything, from the type of hosting you use to the type of social media marketing you pursue, can affect your organic search rankings.

Where do you start when troubleshooting a ranking dive?

Technical vs. Non-Technical Issues

Generally, there are two categories of factors that can cause a dive:

  • Quantitative, technical factors. Sometimes, there’s a simple, technical factor affecting how your site is ranking. On many levels, Google’s algorithm is simple and mathematical in its approach. For example, if your site isn’t structured in a way that Google can see and readily interpret, it won’t be able to index your site, and your rankings will drop. These tend to be obvious once spotted, but they require a degree of technical expertise to solve.
  • Qualitative, non-technical factors. Other times, you’ll be dealing with more subjective, non-technical factors. Google has a number of qualitative evaluating segments to its algorithm, such as Panda, which evaluates the quality of your content, and Penguin, which evaluates the quality of your inbound links. Sometimes, a drop in content quality–which is hard to objectively identify–can be responsible for your ranking drop.

Technical Factors to Check When Your Rankings Drop

Your first course of action, after seeing a major drop in your rankings, should be to check for technical factors that might be affecting your positions. These are plain to see and often simple to fix–and once repaired, there’s a good chance your positions will be restored quickly (if not instantly).

Here are things to check:

1. Your hosting.

The first place you should look is your hosting. A lot of things can happen with your hosting provider–your site may be temporarily unavailable, or your site may not be served properly. You might even be experiencing page loading problems because of your hosting provider. Run an audit on your hosting situation and consider switching if you’re not receiving consistent service.

2. Your robots.txt file.

The robots.txt file is a meta data file that instructs Google how to view and index your site. You can use it to prevent certain pages from being indexed, which is highly useful for canonizing duplicate content pages. However, many people end up making mistakes in the robots.txt file, masking the entire site (or entire sections) from being indexed.

3. Improperly set up 301 redirects.

301 redirects are an important and powerful tool in online visibility, but they’re often misused. If you set up a 301 redirect improperly, it could result in a number of different errors, such as duplicate indexing or the complete loss of certain pages of your site. Be sure you’re actually using 301 redirects, and not 302 (temporary) redirects or any other means of forwarding traffic.

4. A content loading issue.

Sometimes, technical hiccups are simple and easy to identify. If some of your content isn’t loading properly, it could cause your rankings to tank. For example, if none of the images or videos on your site are loading on mobile devices, you could suffer a massive blow to your mobile rankings and traffic.

5. Functional errors.

You may also find functional errors throughout your site, which can influence how your site is ranked. These can range from very small, such as broken internal links, to very large, such as entire sections of your site that aren’t loading or running properly. Some of these functional errors can bleed into qualitative factors, such as pages not loading quickly enough, or poor user experience factors. Run performance tests on multiple devices to check for these errors proactively.

If none of these technical factors seem to be affecting your site, you’ll have to start looking for qualitative, non-technical issues that might be wrong with your site. Or, if there’s a specific type of ranking drop you’ve seen (like a drop in local rankings), you can seek your next troubleshooting targets accordingly.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

July 12th 2016 SEO

PPC + SEO = A Winning Team for Search Marketing Success

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Search-Marketing-Success

A winning team requires the proper line-up, teamwork and the ability to fill-in the performance gaps. A winning team for search requires the proper line-up of Paid and Organic strategies to ensure increased visibility and growth. Many B2B companies pigeonhole PPC as strictly a lead gen or a sales tactic but now is the time to go from tunnel vision to full spectrum search.

Why do we all need to start paying attention to organic and paid search integration? With the recent changes to Google’s SERP results page, many companies are starting to see organic visibility slide along with organic traffic as paid advertisers are garnering more real estate on the page. Google continues to push more algorithm updates and while they many not all be as impactful as RankBrain, Panda, or Penguin, SEO and organic rank is becoming increasingly difficult to manage.

I cannot tell you how many times we hear, “Is paid going to impact our organic search performance?” or “Is it going to cannibalize our brand’s traffic?” Study after study has found that answer to be No! Strategic Paid Digital Media only enhances search performance and boosts organic activity.

And for skeptics, here are a few recent stats on the integration of paid and organic search efforts:

  • Integrating PPC and organic SEO efforts results on average in a 25% increase in organic traffic (Business2Community)
  • 50% of clicks by paid ads are not replaced by organic clicks when the ads are absent and the website has a first position organic search ranking (Search Engine Watch)
  • 27% Increase in Profit with Combined PPC and Organic efforts (Business2Community)

Search marketing should be holistic and strategic with integrated PPC and organic efforts. It’s time for marketers to start taking a look at Paid Search as a way to also grow visibility and traffic. An integrated search marketing program will allow you to conquer SERPs and take ownership of your priority keywords. SERP ownership equals authority in the consumers eye which equals success.

But where do you start? Let’s assume you currently have an SEO program in place and are looking at entering the realm of PPC. Here are a few tips and tactics for getting your integrated search marketing effort off the ground.

#1 – What do you HAVE to bid on keywords you’re already ranking for?

Every company has specific keywords or phrases that are ‘make or break’ terms for them. The queries driving the majority of your traffic, leads, sales or whatever you may be doing. These handfuls of keywords are typically LATE FUNNEL and directly relate to your product or service.

We always recommend owning these types of queries, even if you’re currently on the 1st page or in first position organically. The stats above prove that query ownership leads to trust and trust leads to additional clicks, leads and revenue.

#2 – What you SHOULD bid on?

Maybe rankings have started to slide. Maybe you’ve never ranked for the keyword but the term is an important component of your product or service. What do you do? BUY IT!

The SEO game is tough and if you should be visible for certain keywords but are unable to get a reasonable rank, the best, immediate solution is to start bidding on that term.

Remember that paid search is something you can easily turn off and on. If ranking improves and the ads activity doesn’t warrant the spend, turn it off.

#3 – How do you conquer keyword expansion & create a strategy?

Let’s say you’ve been paying attention to Search Console and have started seeing particular search quires driving traffic or maybe you have a new product you’re launching or MAYBE you just have a hunch that content built around a particular keyword phrase is going to be the lead gen treasure. Test it out on AdWords and find out.

Launching small PPC campaigns is a great way to test the opportunity available along with getting a glimpse into how people are searching for a particularly topic or product so pay attention to your search query reports.

Just make sure that you’re not putting too many limits on these types of campaigns. You want to see what the general queries look like. I typically use broad match or broad match modified and run only crucial negative keywords. Use your best judgement with match types and negatives. You also need to give it some time so don’t start making too many changes and drastic bid adjustments, but keeps those ads no lower than 3rd position.

Optimizing PPC Performance

Now that you have a few guidelines for your SEO/PPC keyword integration, it’s time to take a look at performance.

Make sure you pay attention to the Search Query Reports in AdWords. At TopRank Marketing, our practice is to review these as a team to see if we have any new organic targeting opportunities, unqualified traffic issues and engagement vs. reach.

PPC Search Terms

Within the AdWords Dimensions Tab you’ll find the Paid & Organic Report. This report gives you a peak into how your Paid and Organic programs are working together or not working together.

The Paid & Organic Report will show you:

#1 – Co-Exposure – Overlap

Understand what % of traffic can be attributed to either paid or organic. This will also give you insights into how that traffic relates to the position. Maybe you can start bidding certain keywords to a lower position and see if organic is able to absorb the loss to paid traffic and vice versa.

You should also monitor engagement rates when both pair and organic search listings are at play. This will be a good indicator of the positive or negative value provided with dual listings.

#2 – Keyword Opportunities

The report is also going to show you where you are seeing organic presence or paid presence only. Use this report to help guide your expansion efforts. If you’re seeing great traction with a particular keyword organically, you may see improvements by including a paid as well.

If certain paid terms are seeing exceptional engagement rates or volume but you have no organic presence, it’s time to inform the SEO team and start building out content.

PPC Query

You will need to make sure you’ve sync’d your AdWords and Google Analytics accounts in order to access these reports. This should be step 1 whenever your creating an account.

Hopefully these tips for PPC and SEO integration will be the start of a new, beautiful friendship. A winning team that’s focused on an integrated approach to the quest for search success.


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July 11th 2016 PPC, SEO

3 Things to Do Today to Get More In-Store Visits from Local Search

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3 Things to Do Today to Get More In-Store Visits from Local Search was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

“Something our clients ask us often is, ‘How do you prioritize your local SEO efforts?’ There’s so much to do, especially considering you have to do all the traditional search things and then all the local stuff as well. It can be really daunting and a really expensive challenge. This report is for anyone who needs to make those prioritizations.” –@DanLeibson

places scout local search ranking factors study

Enter the 2016 Quantitative Local Search Ranking Factors study. This mammoth, data-crunching undertaking to analyze 100+ factors across 30,000 businesses was conducted by Local SEO Guide and Places Scout, all toward the goal of figuring out how local businesses can rank better in Google.

See the official study write-ups:

At Bruce Clay, Inc., we count lawyers and plastic surgeons among our SEO services clients, along with multi-location automotive service chains and national franchise brands. There are unique challenges posed by local SEO. So it was an intellectual joy to talk about the biggest-bang-for-your-buck local search strategies with two of the study co-authors. Many thanks to Dan Leibson (Local SEO Guide VP of local and product) and Mark Kabana (Places Scout CEO and founder).

If you have 25 minutes (and some patience to stomach technical audio difficulties), I’d invite you to watch our discussion. Otherwise, I’ve summed up the highlights below.

Read on for the top three things (and one crucial bonus) you need your teams doing today to get the edge in local search.

1. Get Links

Here’s a chart of the factors analyzed in the study.
analyzed local ranking factors

What the pros say:

Dan Leibson: That pie chart represents the factors we analyzed and what percent were link factors, website factors, Google My Business (GMB) factors and off-site factors. Those are the core factors that we analyzed in the study.

Mark Kabana: With the data we gathered, 50% of those factors were link factors. The reason we weighed links so heavily is because we’ve always known that links are important. The reason to do a study like this is because, in addition to links, we now have new things like reviews and social, website analysis and other things that are included as part of the study.

The bottom line: Whatever you’re doing right now, stop doing it and try to get a few links.


Top local #SEO tip from @DanLeibson: Stop whatever you’re doing right now and get a few links.
Click To Tweet


Local Link Building Tip!

Meetup.com allows sponsorship of local meetup groups. Find local meetup groups and offer to sponsor them with pizza or a room to have their meetup group. You can often get a link through that.

2. Get Reviews

The #1 most correlated local ranking factor is reviews.

What the pros say:

Mark Kabana: All along, Google has been focused on websites’ popularity. Whoever the coolest kid is in high school, they want to rank them the highest in Google. Back in the day, Google didn’t have a whole lot to work with so it was mainly things like backlinks that would get them to rank you higher.

These days with social being a bigger influence, there’s a lot of different ways to become more popular in the eyes of Google; one of them is more reviews. Your business seems more popular if a lot of people are talking about you.

Reviews may not technically be a backlink, but they may drive other factors such as click-through rates, people spend more time on your site, your bounce rate lowering, things like that might be a secondary factor that increases other primary ranking factors.

Tip for Getting Reviews

Don’t be ashamed to ask for reviews. This is more applicable to small businesses. If you’re a multi-location business, you need to get buy-in for a review program at the corporate level. It’s  really hard to get your locations all invested in that at the same time and it’s something you want to control with the marketing team. Look into GetFiveStars or Grade.us, or any type of review management software.

3. Post Photos and Get User Submitted Photos on GMB

Just below reviews, profile views and a handful of link signals, photos are a top correlated local ranking factor.

What the pros say:

Mark Kabana: The more photos you have, the more people are talking about you and you look cooler to Google. One thing we didn’t analyze is whether those photos came from the business or from a user. We measured the raw photo count from the Google My Business page. The question of whether photos that users share have more impact on rankings than photos that the business shares is something we’re going to look into in our 2017 study.

Dan Leibson: Google wants to focus more on brands and branding — anything that creates a richer user experience.  So for people throughout all types of industries — whether on the content side, the SEO side, the pay per click side, the social side — a robust, richer content drives better user engagement.

SEOs have done experiments showing that more user engagement with the Google My Business page does seem to improve the rankings. So anything you can do on the branding side to make your business look better and make people more willing to engage with it has the potential benefit of improving your ranking.

Bonus To-Do! Verify Your Google My Business Listing

Having an owner-verified Google My Business listing correlated better with strong search performance. So if you’re a small business and there’s nothing you’re doing with Google My Business right now, get verified.

How do these top four local SEO to-dos line up with your experience? Shout out in the comments.

let's talk local search

July 8th 2016 Google, SEO

6 Tips for Managing Local SEO With Multiple Locations

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by Jayson DeMers

Local SEO holds tremendous potential for almost any business with a physical location (and even some without). Because local SEO functions on an algorithm separate from Google’s national search, you’ll face less competition, higher relevance among your local audience, and even higher visibility, thanks to Google’s local 3-pack listings. Unfortunately, most conventional local SEO tactics cater to businesses that have only one physical location – what happens if you have multiple locations?

The Trouble With Multiple Locations

Having multiple locations means you’ll have multiple streams of revenue, and it’s a valuable way to increase brand recognition and your potential pool of customers. However, much of the power of local SEO is derived from associating your business with a single location. If you try to split your efforts inefficiently, you could end up only weakly optimizing for your target cities, but if you only focus on one city, you’ll miss out on the visibility potential of your other locations. What are you supposed to do?

Strategies for Success

Try using these strategies to succeed with multiple locations in local SEO:

1. Create a separate landing page for each city your business operates in.

Your first job is to create a separate landing page for each of your locations. It’s possible to create a new domain for each of your sub-locations, but this is inadvisable, as you’ll lose out on the cumulative authority you’ll gain from all of your sources. For example, you could create a page for a specific city location, complete with location information and any specific unique features that this location offers–for example, US Storage Centers has a designated page for San Antonio, with hours, directions, and unit availability.

2. Create city-specific content for each city you operate in.

Next, you’ll want to fill those pages with content specific to that location. Don’t leave your landing pages as empty shells! Instead, write rich, descriptive content about the unique features each of your locations offers that particular area. If you get hard-pressed, write about some of the features of the city, such as surrounding landmarks or things to do.

3. Split your social media pages.

If you only have two or three locations, you can probably get away with having one “master” social media presence, but if you have more locations than that, you’ll want to split your social media profiles into individual locations. Create a designated contact for each location to manage their respective pages, and keep one “master” brand page to help people find the social media page most relevant to them. This will help you connect more specifically with your target demographics, especially if your locations are around the country.

4. Segment your link building strategies.

As long as all your locations are under the same domain, you’ll gain collective domain authority with any links you build. However, remember that inbound links pass page authority as well as domain authority, and any links you have pointing to city-specific pages will help those individual pages rank higher. This is valuable if you want to promote one location more than another.

5. Manage your third party profiles and local reviews separately.

Each of your locations should have a separate entry in each third-party review site you leverage (such as Yelp). This will ensure that Google lists your businesses separately for each respective location, and will enable you to monitor and manage local reviews more efficiently. Again, you’ll want to designate a responsible contact for each of your locations to take charge of this duty.

6. Produce ongoing blog content for each city.

Finally, you’ll want to produce ongoing content for each of your locations that’s specific to that city. For example, if you have locations in San Antonio and Kansas City, you could write a post about the “top attractions in San Antonio” one week, and “top attractions in Kansas City” the next week. Rotate these geographic-centric terms in and out of your content strategy (always making sure they’re natural) to increase your relevance for each location.

With these six strategies, you’ll be able to optimize your web presence for each of your physical locations without sacrificing your potential to rank for any other location. It requires a careful balance, and you may find yourself wanting to optimize for one location more than another.

This is perfectly acceptable, especially if you have a “main” location, so feel free to evaluate your strategy and balance your efforts accordingly.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

July 6th 2016 SEO

4 Hot Digital Marketing Jobs & Salary Data; Is a Career in Digital Marketing for You?

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4 Hot Digital Marketing Jobs & Salary Data; Is a Career in Digital Marketing for You? was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

I’ll admit it, I’m a millennial.

I value work-life balance.
I expect my job to be more fulfilling than well paying.
I gravitate toward a technical career because I’m always plugged in anyway.

I found a satisfying and challenging career path in digital marketing. If you’re anything like me, digital marketing might be a good fit for you.

Here are the digital marketing salary statistics and job descriptions to help you decide if it’s time to kick-start your career in online advertising, search or social media marketing.

If so, our SEOToolSet Training™ is just the place to start.

Why Choose a Career in Digital Marketing?

jump-start your digital marketing careerTrying to decide what career path to take is one of the biggest decisions you will make in your life. While deciding on a new career is an exciting time, there is no question that all of the possibilities make it overwhelming.

How do you know if a career will be fulfilling? Can you imagine yourself in that job for a long time? Will you make enough to cover your rent?

Digital marketing has opened up a wide array of job opportunities for recent graduates and self-driven learners alike. There are a lot of options to choose from within the digital marketing space. And jobs within digital marketing come with good pay, which makes them all that much more attractive.

What Digital Marketing Jobs Are Out There?

The digital marketing industry incorporates marketing, technical, creative and problem-solving skills.

What makes it so ideal for the younger generations is that they have grown up on the internet. Always being connected is just part of life.

Below are some jobs that exist now within this field. Understand that within this field, you could work at a marketing agency or in-house at a company or non-profit organization. And pay varies based on how long you’ve been working, your geographic region, and many other factors.

Jump to the digital marketing jobs and salary data below the infographic with these links, or scroll to see the full graphic.

digital marketing jobs and salary infographic

SEO Analyst

The ideal SEO analyst: Our team of SEO analysts are analytical, enjoy puzzles, and take pride in keeping up with a fast-changing search industry.

Salary data: The latest salary survey from the Search Engine Marketing Professionals Organization (SEMPO) shows that the average salary of their search marketer membership is just shy of $80,000.

What they do: Having a search-engine friendly website is critical to businesses. Many people don’t realize what goes into making a website that works from a human perspective and also a search perspective.

There are three factors that impact a website’s rankings — search engines, competitors and you.  We can’t control the search engines and we can’t control competitors, but we can control a website. That makes the work of an SEO analyst invaluable. We cover this in detail in our SEOToolSet Training course for those who want to know about our time-tested SEO methodology.

An SEO analyst ensures that the website is search-engine friendly, meaning there are no issues preventing it from being crawled and indexed by search engines. This person also optimizes the website to get more web traffic by engaging in technical and marketing activities. SEO is a never-ending process, which makes it fun and challenging.

Job interview tip: Start getting your resume ready with the SEO analyst interview questions we ask candidates in our own hiring process.

Web Writer or Content Marketer

The ideal content specialist: If you always liked the idea of being a professional writer, getting paid for your words, content marketing could be an ideal career choice for you.

Salary data: Writers who specialize in advertising, public relations and related services make an average yearly salary of $77,450, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics’ 2015 survey data.

What they do: Here’s a little secret, I got my start in digital marketing as a content writer. It’s a rewarding job for those who love the art of crafting a compelling message.

It’s hard to do SEO work without great content on the website.

A content writer is the person who develops text for the website that is relevant and interesting, ultimately attracting more traffic and causing web visitors to take action — whether that means buying a product or learning more about the company.

It is also the content writer who creates content that supports keywords and the overall themes of the website. The content writer will often write copy for home pages and landing pages, as well as blog posts.

Job interview tip: Check out our list of marketing writer interview questions to get a taste of what an employer is looking for in a web writer.

Social Media Marketer

The ideal social media marketer: The job is a good fit for anyone who is naturally social, enjoys creative content creation, and embraces analytics and reporting on metrics to show the value of their social media efforts.

Salary data: The average salary of a social media marketer can range widely, with PayScale.com posting an average annual salary of $46,000 and Salary.com reporting an average of $107,000. By our math, those two estimates average out to $76,500.

What they do: Social media marketers are responsible for maintaining a brand’s presence and building visibility and customer relationships within the social channels. This encompasses many different activities, ranging from creating social media business profiles to developing posts, from engaging with customers to building relationships with influencers.

If you are in the millennial generation, you are likely accustomed to using social media on a regular basis. As digital marketing evolved, it opened the doors to jobs within social media. Businesses now see the value of having a social presence and are willing to pay someone to help them manage it.

Job interview tip: Prepare your knowledge of social media for business with these social media manager interview questions.

SEM Analyst

The ideal SEM analyst: There is a lot of monitoring and reporting involved, so it is a good choice for someone who likes digging into data.

Salary data: Glassdoor.com reports the average annual salary of an SEM analyst at $50,000.

What they do: An SEM analyst is the person who manages the paid online advertising efforts of a business. This is a great job for someone who is analytical because they’ll be looking at average bids, cost per click and other numbers every day.

An SEM analyst is also highly creative, as the best online ads require a deep understanding of what will get the target market’s attention in unique and emotionally resonant ways.

An SEM analyst creates ads for pay-per-click platforms, including search and social media, and other online ad campaigns, such as display. Not only does the analyst get to create or direct the creation of ads, but he or she also manages the bids for those ads and reports on the performance of campaigns.

Prepare for a Career in Digital Marketing

There are not a lot of college courses that will prepare you for a career in digital marketing. This is why many people are self-taught or learn with the help of a mentor when they begin an entry-level job.

There is a path to super charge your understanding of the digital marketing field through our SEOToolSet® Training.

We offer two training classes, Standard and Advanced, effectively a crash course in digital marketing. The course lays a foundation for a digital marketing career. We start with how search engines work, what websites need to do to show up in search and how social media and online advertising fit into the digital marketing equation. Everyone who goes through our training leaves with a whole new understanding of what it takes to build an online presence for a company or organization today.

For more information about our training, visit SEOToolSet.com/training. The next training takes place July 11 to July 15 and could be your launching platform for a successful and fulfilling digital marketing career.

June 29th 2016 SEO

What You Need to Know About the Voice Search Revolution From Microsoft’s Purna Virji #MNSummit

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voice-search-revolution

We may not already notice the change, but voice search is all around us. Voice search can help us complete tasks when we are occupied or busy multitasking. We unconsciously change the way we search on a computer or a text search compared to when we search with our voices. With the growing interest of voice search and digital personal assistants growing, we must ask ourselves as marketers how is voice search going to change the world for advertisers?

In her presentation at MNSearch Summit, Purna Virji from Microsoft stated that by 2020, 50% of search will come from voice (comScore). She outlined the steps to get prepared for voice search for paid and organic search queries. Since the growth of voice search is growing, now is the time to get ready for voice search and to become an early adopter.

Purna had the audience conduct an exercise that showed how people interact via devices compared to actually talking to the person next to them. When talking, people used a lot more words than when using a device (i.e. Twitter). The exercise showed that we are trained to do actions on different channels, like swiping (iPhone) or looking for reviews (Amazon). Below are some of the top takeaways marketers need to understand about voice search. 

Who is Using Voice Search?

The first thing to understand about voice search is who even is using it or personal digital assistants. People use voice search typically when they are:

  • Looking for quick answers
  • Otherwise occupied
  • Experiencing a typing challenge (i.e. when driving and cooking)

Once you understand who is using voice search, the next step is to know why it voice search is important for those users. Another thing to be aware of is that voice search has the potential to take away from organic search results, and show ads on the search engine results. 

What Can You Do Now?

Purna outlined five areas that we as marketers can do to get prepared for voice search.

#1 Rethink Keywords

Currently, text searches are concentrated around one to three words while voice search has around three to four words during searches. The voice search queries relate to the year over year growth of question phrases. When creating a keyword strategy, add verbs to phrases and schema markup everywhere to provide more relevance.

#2- Rethink Local Optimization

Pruna shared that mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local-based than text search. When optimizing your local strategy, utilize localized keywords your audience would typically use when speaking to someone. For example use keywords like “by the sculpture garden” or “close to the lake.” Also, optimize local citations and schema markup throughout the site. For paid campaigns, use mobile preferred ad formats and location extensions to gather more interest.

#3 – Rethink Intent-Based Bids

Voice search intent is different than text based search queries. Voice search tells you exactly what the consumer is looking for because it is more specific. Since the intent is different, set different bids based off of those keywords.

#4 – Rethink Branding

Brand names that are difficult to pronounce like Porsche, Nutella, should take into account any ways that the brand could be mispronounced or spelled incorrectly. Marketers should also use negative keywords and ad extensions to help customers find your brand.

#5 – Rethink Creative

Once again since the intent is different than text based searches, focus on updating the creative of the ads and content to make it more visual. Add descriptors in your title (i.e. brand name, silk, size, M, etc.) to add relevant, high quality keywords. Continue to use help extensions like reviews and easy call-to-action buttons. Also, work together with the SEO team to create top-of-funnel content that focuses on the intent. Test the content with paid campaigns to get a better understand of what your customers are looking for.

After rethinking the five areas of focus, mainly start by selecting three or four questions that would be best for your audience and test bidding on those keywords. If we can test as marketers now and become early adopters, we can be ahead of the curve once voice search is being used by more people.

What We Can Expect

You may find yourself asking why to focus on voice search when there isn’t a huge market for it now. However, the number of voice searches is sure to climb and you need to be prepared to provide the user experience that your audience is looking for. There is also technology all around us that has the capability for voice search including:

  • Wearables
  • Onstar
  • Echo
  • Internet of Things (fridge)
  • Gaming Systems (xbox and playstation)
  • Phones (knows a lot of information about you)

With all these technologies being used already by many people, we need to know that there is no rush to monetize voice search.

Get Ready for Voice Search

Purna set the stage on the importance of voice search for any company. We are all in a good opportunity to test and prepare for the voice search queries before it becomes the norm. Are your content and paid campaigns optimized for voice search?  


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What You Need to Know About the Voice Search Revolution From Microsoft’s Purna Virji #MNSummit | http://www.toprankblog.com

The post What You Need to Know About the Voice Search Revolution From Microsoft’s Purna Virji #MNSummit appeared first on Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®.

June 25th 2016 SEO

The 6 Ways Small Businesses Can Stay Competitive in SEO

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by Jayson DeMers

Search engine optimization (SEO) is more popular than ever as a marketing strategy these days, and one of the biggest reasons for its mass appeal is its scale and sheer potential. There are billions of searches per day, performed by people all over the world, so optimizing your site to rank higher for these searches has practically unlimited potential. But can small businesses hope to capitalize on this potential when there are so many big businesses competing with them?

Popularity and Time

There are two problems with this “infinite potential” model. First, SEO has become incredibly popular–most businesses now have an online presence, and the vast majority of them are actively competing for more visibility online. Second, SEO has been around since the dawn of the Internet, and major corporations who have been pouring millions of dollars into their online strategies are pretty much untouchable in terms of rankings.

These two issues make it seem practically impossible to many small business owners–with limited resources and little existing domain authority–to break onto the scene. But it is possible for small and local businesses to gain an edge with these six strategies:

1. Zero in on a specific niche.

Your first job is to cut down the competition. Not all search terms get the same amount of search volume, and not all terms carry the same amount of competition. If you’re worried about squaring off against major national competitors, refine your target market to a more specific niche. This will cut down the amount of competition you face, and increase your relevance for that specific niche–you’ll be working with lower search volume, but you’ll rank faster and become more relevant for your audience. For example, you could focus on one specific demographic, or target a specific point in the buying cycle.

2. Target overlooked long-tail keywords.

There are two main “types” of keywords, with a bit of gray area in between. “Head” keywords are short, like “bike tire,” and feature high volume and high competition. “Long-tail” keywords are long, often using conversational sentence structures like “how do I change a flat bike tire,” and feature lower search volume but correspondingly lower competition. You can rank for these search terms easily because of how specific they are. Refine your keyword targeting strategy to focus on more long-tail keyword terms.

3. Prioritize local optimization.

Local search results rely on a different algorithm than Google’s national search framework. You may notice when you perform a local search that the top three relevant brands for your search appear in a box (with links to a website, directions, and a prompt to call on mobile devices) above typical organic search results. It’s possible to optimize your site to appear for these local searches; not only will you get a “free pass” by getting featured above the typical national search results, but you’ll face far less competition in the process. As an added bonus, you’ll get more locally relevant traffic for your site.

4. Use the power of personal brands.

Personal brands have a number of advantages over corporate brands. They’re instantly more trustworthy, they have a higher likelihood of being featured in offsite publishers, and if used independently from your local business, they’ll provide an additional potential route of traffic and visibility for your corporate brand. Start developing your key leadership and personnel through content and social media, and tie those personal brands back to your core corporate brand.

5. Work with local publishers.

Major corporations will have more power and resources to force an increase in their content’s visibility (through things like paid advertising), but as a small business owner, you’ll have more relevance in local publications, like local newspapers, blogs, and forums. Work with those publishers to build more of a reputation for yourself, and get involved in more local projects and volunteer opportunities to help your community impact grow. The more connected you are, the more potential search visibility you’re going to receive.

6. Build up a reputation with reviews and social media.

A big part of local SEO depends on the quality and quantity of the reviews you receive, but you can also generate independent buzz by cultivating more reviews (especially on offsite directories and social media). Work with your existing clients and regular customers to start developing better reviews and more visibility for your business. In turn, you’ll get more visibility and more peripheral traffic (bypassing and complementing the organic search route), but you’ll also get more inbound links and more “real estate” throughout the web, which can increase your overall organic search visibility.

The truth is, small businesses can be just as competitive as big businesses when it comes to SEO. They aren’t able to reach the same number of people, but they can receive huge increases in visibility, reputation, traffic, and eventually sales.

Knowing your strengths and weaknesses as a small enterprise means avoiding competing in areas where you’re outclassed, and instead focusing on where you can make the biggest impact.

Be sure and visit our small business news site.

Ask Google Anything: Gary Illyes Talks RankBrain, Panda, Penguin and More

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Ask Google Anything: Gary Illyes Talks RankBrain, Panda, Penguin and More was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

The Ask Me Anything session with Google Search is always an SMX highlight. The audience is full of digital marketers eagerly waiting to hear what Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes will reveal in the AMA with Search Engine Land and Marketing Land Editor Danny Sullivan. Read on for this Googler’s statements on RankBrain, Google Assistant, Penguin, Panda and more!

Google says that RankBrain is the third most important ranking factor; is it really a ranking factor or a query alignment tool?

Gary: Basically, it’s a ranking factor. It’s a supervised machine learning platform. RankBrain is the same thing, it’s learning what worked well for queries and what results are good for a certain query. It works well for long tail queries. He gave the example query of ‘can I beat Mario brother’s without using a ‘walk through’”

With RankBrain, the results are more reasonable than without.

Is it more query refinement and less ranking?

Gary: It will understand what results will work better for queries. Stop words are dropped from queries but rank brain understands the conversational manner of search and can give results accordingly. It’s less about understanding the query and more about understanding how best to score the results.

Do we have a RankBrain score?

Gary: We don’t have a rank brain score. The root of your question is if you can optimize for rank brain

[witty banter]

Rank brain is a new, unique score. It’s enhancing our relevancy in the search results based on what you have on your pages. It makes sure the user gets [the best page for the query]. If you keyword stuff your content, it will almost certainly not be good for you.

How many queries is rank brain processing?

Gary: Not sure; rank brain will refine and learn from every query it gets

Should we fear that it’s going to take over the world? Most of the AI movies show us that the machines will take over …

Gary: Not all of the world.

[insert audience laughter]

Is the number one ranking factor content or links? Which is the most important ranking factor?

Gary: It depends on the query, what you’re looking from and what the numbers say. I can’t give you a concrete answer because it depends on too many things.

What’s the deal with Google Assistant?

Gary: Frankly, I have no idea. I know we’re still wrapping our heads around how to experiment with this new cool idea. It’s based on machine learning. We need to know what you want, how you want it and where you want it.

How much of the algorithm is going to become AI based? 

Gary: Machine learning is extremely important for us. We’re focusing on machine learning and what it can do – not just in Google Search but in all of our products. At what stage are we? I can’t tell you because I only have a vague idea. We don’t want to get to a stage where someone sends us a bad query or a query that we have bad results and we don’t want to get to the point where we don’t understand why the machine gave that result.

Do terms in the URL help in any way with rankings?

Gary: TLDs do not play a role in how we calculate relevancy for a specific result. ccTLDs to play a role in ranking, you’ll perform better in the google local. There are certain cases where we will look at it but in most cases we won’t. I’m not advocating to buy keyword rich domains; it doesn’t have a super power. My recommendation is that it can definitely help you if you’re describing your product in the URL because it helps your user.

Google said it was going to give you more data (more than the current 90 day view) in Search Console almost three years ago; when is this going to happen?

Gary: We went through a very long transition with Search Console. We’ve figured out how to we can make a longer time of data happen and is something we’re working towards a little faster (and we have the buying from management). Let’s move on to Penguin … are we going to get a new one anytime soon?

Gary: Penguin, I will not say a date because I’ve been wrong too many times. I will not say any timeframe anymore.

What’s the deal with Panda? You said it was part of the core algorithm but is stuff running through it constantly?

Gary: It is not real time but it is continuously running. We collect the data and then roll it out, refresh that data and roll it out again.

What’s our time period on each rollout?    

Gary: Months.

So it takes months to get through all the sites on the web?

Gary: Correct.

At this point, unfortunately, my computer died ><. There was one more key piece of information coming out of this Google AMA, though — the official end of Google Authorship.

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June 24th 2016 Google, SEO

What You NEED to Know About the Google Quality Raters Guidelines #SMX

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What You NEED to Know About the Google Quality Raters Guidelines #SMX was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

The Google Quality Raters Guidelines offer unique insights into what Google sees as high quality and what it doesn’t. Leading digital marketing ladies Jennifer Slegg, Ruth Burr Reedy and Jenny Halasz have all studied the Quality Raters Guidelines (PDF) extensively and are here to share their insights on this once-classified Google document at SMX Advanced 2016.

Speakers at SMX Advanced 2016

From left: Ruth Burr Reedy, Jenny Halasz and Jennifer Slegg

Jennifer Slegg: Why are the Guidelines so Important for SEOs to Know?

Jennifer Slegg, founder and editor of The SEM Post, opens by telling us we must pay attention to the guidelines. They show us very clearly what types of sites Google wants to rate the highest. Now, it’s important to know that raters do not directly impact rankings

Your Money, Your Life

These sites are held to the highest standard. They include:

  • Shopping or financial transaction pages
  • Financial information pages
  • Medical information pages
  • Legal information pages

If you are any kind of online store at all, you are being held to the YMYL standards.

Expertise, Authority, Trustworthiness: E-A-T

This is the cornerstone for how Google determines the quality of any webpage.

Expertise

Expertise is determined by author. Any author can have expertise. Being an expert does not equate to expertise in another. Any market area can have authors with expertise, from celebrity blogging to SEO.

Show author’s expertise by including author biography, show off citations, and show credentials, such as speaking engagements. Also, you can perform detailed reviews, post on forums, etc.

Authoritativeness

This pertains to the website itself. Why should someone trust it? Why is it an authority in is market?

Show authority by including a robust About Us page. Show off important publications that have linked or quoted the site. Showcase your employees’ speaking engagements and publications.

Trustworthiness

Why should a visitor trust your site or page? Looks matter here. If you have a weird font and flashing text and appears sketchy, this will hurt you.

5 Signs of Low Quality Content

  1. Main content quality is low
  2. Unsatisfying amount of main content
  3. Not enough E-A-T
  4. Negative reputation
  5. Distracting supplementary content

Should SEOs Look at the Google Quality Rater Guidelines

Next up is Ruth Burr Reedy, the director of strategy at UpBuild.


First question raters have to ask: Why are you here? Is this page relevant? This is especially important for YMYL pages.

Fix your low-quality pages. No discussion even needed. Just do it.

Google has a phrase to describe medium-quality pages: Nothing wrong, but nothing special. Get special.

Make your content better. Are you sick of hearing it? Again, just do it. Don’t neglect your product and services pages. They’re much less interesting, but they still need good content. And that doesn’t mean long content, but a satisfying amount of content.

In the November version of the Quality Raters Guidelines had the sentence: A very positive reputation can be a reason for using the High rating for an otherwise Medium page. That was omitted from the March version. However, Reedy asserts that this was removed only because too many raters were probably ranking pages High because of this sentence.

Experts

Who are the other experts in your industry? Can you get them to talk about you? Google is increasingly able to know who these experts are. Interact with them. It’s also a very human readable signal.

Build Your Brand

Build it online. Build it offline. Be active in your community. Promote your company. Be good at marketing.

Jenny Halasz Dives into Trust

Jenny Halasz, president at JLH Marketing, rounds out the session.

Top 3 Considerations

  • Quality/content of main content
  • Reputation
  • Level of E-A-T

Don’t think that doing an expert roundup, though, will satisfy expertise. Roundups are usually useless.

Don’t try to re-post or scrape content. You won’t fool Google.

Measuring Trust

We all have a human connection to trust. Brene Brown said “Trust is built in very small moments” and Halasz thinks this applies to digital marketing.

  • The way the page is designed
  • Content or lack thereof
  • Intrusive ads
  • Low Better Bureau Business Ratings or negative news articles
  • UGC spam

Google Quality Rater Guidelines: Hidden Gems

Halasz points to these points from page 65-66:

  • Expertise does not equal expert
  • Quality scale should not vary according to topic
  • Ads should not be intrusive
  • There is so sweet spot amount of content

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June 24th 2016 Google, SEO