Google To Lower Mobile Search Ranking of Sites with Interstitials

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Google announced that on January 10, 2017 they are going to lower the mobile search ranking of sites with interstitial ads popping up in front of content. This is something that many mobile searchers will applaud and many publishers will not be too happy about.

“To improve the mobile search experience, after January 10, 2017, pages where content is not easily accessible to a user on the transition from the mobile search results may not rank as highly,” posted Google Product Manager Doantam Phan . “Pages that show intrusive interstitials provide a poorer experience to users than other pages where content is immediately accessible. This can be problematic on mobile devices where screens are often smaller.”

People have become very upset over intrusive popups on mobile devices because it significantly degrades the user experience. “I can’t stand all this stuff popping up on my phone,” commented Bonnie Akridge. “I wish they would get rid of it all. Much of what I read is already mobile friendly but I get the question box do I want to switch to mobile friendly. All this crap is so flipping annoying. I didn’t sign up for this and I hate it being force on me.”

An internet marketer had a somewhat different reaction. “I’ve always hated those popups that come up and block the page (especially on mobile),” stated S. Kyle Davis. “Now it seems that Google has made the use of “interstitials” a ranking point. Good to hear! Of course, any time Google does something like this, the opposite reaction is that it is making things harder for advertisers (thus making it harder for content producers to make money and continue producing content). However, I always hope that it pushes us to find better, less obtrusive and more effective ways to communicate paid messages to audiences.”

Although this initially applies to only mobile search rankings, its a reasonable prediction that Google will extend this to desktop rankings as well in the future, effectively killing interstitial and popup advertising on the internet.

“Although the majority of pages now have text and content on the page that is readable without zooming, we’ve recently seen many examples where these pages show intrusive interstitials to users,” says Phan. “While the underlying content is present on the page and available to be indexed by Google, content may be visually obscured by an interstitial. This can frustrate users because they are unable to easily access the content that they were expecting when they tapped on the search result.”

Google specifically does not want sites to show a popup that covers the main content either immediately or delayed, they don’t want any ads that have to be closed by the user and they consider large top ads to be effectively the same as an interstitial. So they are going to penalize sites where ads dominate above the fold space.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 12.51.41 PM

They did offer exceptions where they won’t rank lower sites with interstitials that are a response to a legal obligation such as age verification, are part of a login process or small top banners.

Screen Shot 2016-08-24 at 12.52.29 PM

“Remember, this new signal is just one of hundreds of signals that are used in ranking,” said Phan. “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content.”

The post Google To Lower Mobile Search Ranking of Sites with Interstitials appeared first on WebProNews.

August 25th 2016 Google, Search, SEO

How to Properly Implement a 301 Redirect

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How to Properly Implement a 301 Redirect was originally published on BruceClay.com, home of expert search engine optimization tips.

What is a 301 redirect?

A 301 redirect is a command used to tell the search engines that a page has permanently moved, and that you want them to index the new page and drop the old one from their index.

Think of it as a change of address card for the web. As long as everything is done correctly, a 301 redirect will ensure that you keep the rankings earned by the old page and prevent duplicate content that could arise if the engines were to index both versions of your site.

Read on for information about:

How to Implement 301 Redirects Using .htaccess for Apache

Make sure you have access to your server and your Apache configuration file, and that you can use your .htaccess files. The ability to use .htaccess files will reside in a command called “Allow Override” in the Apache config file. If you do not have this access, you’ll have to first call your hosting company and get access.

Once you know that you have access to this file, your next step is to locate it. The .htaccess file is a control file that allows server configuration changes on a per-directory basis. It controls that directory and all of the subdirectories contained within. In most cases, this file will be placed in the root web folder for your site. If there’s no .htaccess file present, create one.

To begin using the .htaccess file to redirect page(s) on your site, open up your FTP and log in to your site. Work your way into in the root web folder in order to access your .htaccess file.

(Note: The dot in .htaccess makes it a hidden file, so make sure your FTP browser is enabled to view hidden files.)

When you start editing the file, use a UNIX style text editor rather than Notepad. Typically, an HTML editor or code editor such as TextPad works just fine. To 301 redirect pages using the .htaccess file, you will add a line to the file that tells the server what to do.

To 301 Redirect a Page:

RedirectPermanent /old-file.html http://www.domain.com/new-file.html

To 301 Redirect an Entire Domain:

RedirectPermanent / http://www.new-domain.com/

Once you have inserted the commands to 301 redirect your pages, you need to make sure that there is a blank line at the end of the file. Your server will read the .htaccess file line by line, which means at some point you’ll need to throw it an “endline” character to signify that you’re finished. An easy way to do this is to put a blank line at the bottom of the file.

How to Do a 301 Redirect Using IIS on a Microsoft Windows Server

Navigate your way to Internet Information Services (IIS) Manager, which is found with Administrative Tools within the Start menu. From there, you will find a panel on the left-hand side that lists all your sites. Choose the site you want to work on.

Once you select it, several modules come up. Verify the URL Rewrite module is present. If it is not, you can install it here.

Once you have it, double-click to open the module. On the right-hand side, you will see an option to Add Rules. Click it and then select Blank Rule under the Inbound Rules section. Hit OK. This will take you to an Edit Inbound Rule page. Type a name for the rule, such as Old Domain Redirect or Old Page Redirect.

Go to the Match URL Panel. Set the requested URL at “Matches the Pattern” and then Using as Regular Expressions. Now you will specify if you’re redirecting a single page, a group of pages, or an entire domain:

  • To redirect a single page, type in the page name under Pattern. For example, if we were redirecting this blog post, we would input blog/how-to-properly-implement-a-301-redirect/ in the Pattern field.
  • To redirect the entire site, we would input (.*) in the Pattern field.
  • To redirect all the pages on BruceClay.com within the SEO folder, we would input seo/(.*)

Make sure “ignore case” is checked.

Skip down to the action panel and select Redirect within the Action Type drop-down menu. In the Action Properties, type in the new URL. If it’s a single page, input the single page. If it’s the entire domain or a group of pages, type the new destination with a back reference, which is {R:0}. The back reference will keep all page URLs intact with the new domain.

For example, if we were changing BruceClay.com to BCI.com, we would input http://www.bci.com/{R:0}

If you use tracking parameters and you want them to carry through, check Append Query String.

In the Redirect type field, select Permanent (301).

Click Apply at the top right in the Actions column to save the redirect.

(If you want to review the redirect, hit back to rules in the Actions column.)

After you save this redirect, the rules you created are saved into the web.config file, which you can edit in the future.

Alternative Methods to Implement a 301 Redirect

If you don’t have access to your .htaccess file or your Windows Server Administration Panel, you can still implement 301 redirects with code on your old pages. If your pages are in PHP, ASP, Java, or any other language that allows you to modify response headers, simply place code at the top of each page to do the permanent redirect.


Redirecting pages is just ONE skill an SEO has to know. At BCI, we help clients with not just the how-tos, but also the strategy questions they need to optimize their online revenue. Want to explore how we can help you? Request a conversation or call us today.


Why You Might Need to Implement a 301 Redirect

There are many times a 301 redirect makes sense. Here are a few of the most common:

  • You’re changing your entire root domain.
  • You want to reorganize pages by changing or removing a directory.
  • Let’s say CNN posted a link to this blog post, but the URL was incorrect. We’d still want to capture the traffic that is going to a 404 page. So we’d put in a 301 redirect to direct users from the bad link to the right URL.
  • You want a vanity URL.

Note: If you’re concerned you might lose PageRank through a redirect, know that any fluctuations will be temporary. Google Webmaster Trends Analyst Gary Illyes recently gave this assurance:


Have any questions about implementing a 301 redirect? Ask us in the comments and we’ll be happy to help you.

This post, originally written in 2007 by Lisa Barone, is among our most-visited blog posts of all time, so we keep it up-to-date and accurate. Thanks for visiting, and hope it helps!

August 19th 2016 SEO

Changes in Google Ranking Factors – 2016

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What is and isn’t a ranking factor in search? Here are the latest thoughts by industry experts on search ranking factors and particularly Google Ranking Factors as they are in 2016.

Content & Links Are the Two Most Important Ranking Signals

Eric Enge noted in a post that he participated in a Hangout with Google’s Andrey Lippatsev, Search Quality Senior Strategist, who was asked about the top 3 ranking signals, noting that RankBrain was announced as the third most important. “I can tell you what they are. It’s content and links going into your site,” answered Lippatesev.

“When you aren’t facing page relevance or quality issues, links can, and do, continue to significantly impact rankings.” said Enge.

“Backlinks remain an extremely important Google ranking factor,” said Brian Dean founder of Backlinko in a recent blog post on Google Ranking Factors. “We found the number of domains linking to a page correlated with rankings more than any other factor.” Read more on the Backlinko Ranking Study at the end of this article.

RankBrain – Third Most Important Factor

Danny Sullivan of SearchEngineLand wrote an interesting piece on how RankBrain has now become the third most important ranking factor behind content and links. According to a report onBackChannel RankBrain is being used on almost ALL search queries helping determine the most relevant results and their order:

Google is characteristically fuzzy on exactly how it improves search (something to do with the long tail? Better interpretation of ambiguous requests?) but Jeff Dean says that RankBrain is “involved in every query,” and affects the actual rankings “probably not in every query but in a lot of queries.” What’s more, it’s hugely effective. Of the hundreds of “signals” Google search uses when it calculates its rankings (a signal might be the user’s geographical location, or whether the headline on a page matches the text in the query), RankBrain is now rated as the third most useful.

 
Click-Through Rate (CTR) is Not a Ranking Factor

“I think we can establish that CTR is not a direct ranking signal for Google. At the same time, it can have an indirect effect,” said Eric Enge in a recent video (below) they posted on their marketing website Stone Temple Consulting. “Lots of people clicking on a certain result might indicate a real interest in it, and that might mean it’s a better result than the result above it. Notice I said might there. That will be important later. Anyway, many people have assumed that search engines like Google would use such a signal, of course, bouncing it off against other signals that it uses in ranking.”

So with that answer, one wonders why isn’t then CTR a ranking signal? Primarily because Google has told us they don’t, commented Enge. He noted that it’s simply too easy to game and that it doesn’t necessarily mean the user was satisfied with the result. Google uses it internally for studying search behavior but it is not a ranking signal. He provided this chart in a recent blog post. Enge wrote another article about CTR as a (non) ranking factor here.

Screen Shot 2016-07-27 at 10.24.57 AM

Google Confirms 301, 302, 3xx redirects Do Not Lose PageRank Value

“30x redirects don’t lose PageRank anymore,” Google’s Gary Illyes said in a tweet yesterday. Eric Enge asked Illyes in a Twitter reply if the redirects are “not even a dampening factor?” Illyes replied, “@stonetemple for PageRank, no.” Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land has more.

Local Business Ranking Factors

2016 Quantitative Local Search Ranking Factors Study: If you want your business to rank better in local search results, focus on building popularity for your business, as the results of the study indicate that business popularity seems to outweigh all other factors, most importantly in the form of reviews and quality backlinks to your site. Google Review and Profile View are by far the two most important local business ranking factors.

Dan Leibson, Vice President of Local & Product at Local SEO Guide, made a presentation on this study at SMX Advanced 2016:

Mobile-Friendliness – a Ranking Signal on Mobile Searches

Last year, we started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal on mobile searches,” said Klemen Kloboves, a software engineer at Google, in a Google Webmaster blog post. “Today we’re announcing that beginning in May, we’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results that increases the effect of the ranking signal to help our users find even more pages that are relevant and mobile-friendly.”

Google Now Ranks Mobile Page Speed Separately

Jennifer Slegg of The SEM Post noted that Illyes mention of this at Search Marketing Summit Sydney was the first time that Google confirmed that it indeed plans to make page speed a factor in its next mobile friendly update. Illyes told Jennnifer that the update will be in a matter of months. Illyes has been hinting at mobile friendly sites ranking higher for months.

Google Updates Search Quality Guidelines

“We recently completed a major revision of our rater guidelines to adapt to this mobile world, recognizing that people use search differently when they carry internet-connected devices with them all the time,” said Mimi Underwood, Sr. Program Manager of Google Search Growth & Analysis. “You can find that update here (PDF).”

More Causes for Lower Ranking

Enge also says that there are other factors contributing to less appearance of a site on the first page of a Google search result, which is in effect a lower ranking:

  1. More real estate allocated to paid search
  2. More content from other sources, such as image search, YouTube, and the other factors I mentioned above
  3. Some pages that have less than 10 web results
  4. Portions of the web results that are clearly less driven by links, such as local web, query deserves diversity, and in-depth article results

Backlinko Study

The Backlinko Study is unbelievably helpful in understanding all ranking factors, not just the new ones that happened in 2016. Backlinko analyzed 1 million Google search results to answer the question: Which factors correlate with first page search engine rankings?

Backlinko identified 11 main ranking factors that I’ve summarized below:

  1. Backlinks are still the number one factor in determining search ranking.
  2. Site Authority correlates to ranking.
  3. Tightly focused content ranks better.
  4. Longer content ranks higher.
  5. Sites using HTTPS do better than equal sites using HTTP.
  6. Schema markup doesn’t help.
  7. An image in content raises ranking.
  8. Small correlation with title tag keyword optimization and ranking.
  9. Speed is now a huge ranking signal. It matters a lot.
  10. Exact match anchor text has a strong influence.
  11. Low bounce rate  improves ranking.

The post Changes in Google Ranking Factors – 2016 appeared first on WebProNews.

July 28th 2016 Search, SEO

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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© Online Marketing Blog – TopRank®, 2016. |
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