Tuesday, 31 May 2016

Does Google look at anchor text in internal links?

Internal linking is a key SEO tactic, one which allows websites to send clear signals to Google on the relative importance of various pages.

It also works from a user experience perspective, helping visitors find pages that are relevant or potentially useful to them.

It’s something I place great importance on as an editor, as it’s one part of SEO that I can control, and I’ve seen the benefits for sites I’ve worked on.

Internal linking: examples

Let’s take an example from Search Engine Watch. I wrote this article on internal linking, with examples and tips, back in September 2015.

I’ve since linked to it using that exact anchor text (and variations on it) on at least 10 occasions. Essentially, I’m telling Google that this is the page I want Search Engine Watch to rank for that term.

As we can see, it’s worked well. Third on Google, and first for related terms (internal linking best practice for example).

Internal linking SE

Then there’s Mail Online. The most visited English language newspaper on the web had a relatively haphazard approach to internal linking until recently.

For common, high traffic terms (world leader’s names, celebrities etc) would be used regularly in articles.

The result was that each article would end up competing against previous articles for the same keyword or phrase.

The chart below shows its rankings for ‘David Cameron’ over a six month period. 80 different URLs were returned from the Mail for that search, but it didn’t rank consisitently for the term.


The answer was a consistent internal linking and hub page strategy. Mail Online created hub pages for common terms and consistently linked to them.

The result is a more consistent ranking from November 2015 onwards, when the changes were implemented.

There have been some fluctuations, perhaps due to inconsistent implementation of the linking strategy, but the page is performing much more effectively. As a result, the site will pick up more traffic for that term. Applied across the whole site, this can make a big difference.

nov 2015

Does Google count anchor text in internal links?

This is the question Shaun Anderson from Hobo Web sought to answer recently.

In the examples above, the pages targeted with internal links all contain the keywords used in the anchor text. So, Google could be using the content of the page, and the fact that several pages link to it to decide on the ranking.

In other words, this doesn’t prove that Google is taking note of the anchor text when choosing to rank a particular page.

So, Shaun set up a test. He added an internal link to one page on his site using the target keyword as anchor text.

It’s important to note that the target page did not contain the keyword used, so the only signal that it was relevant to said keyword was the anchor text on the link.

As we can see from the chart, a number of days after the test was implemented, the page ranked for the target term. When it was removed, the page dropped again.

hobo web screenshot

As that page had no other relevance to the term other than the link, the anchor text appears to be the only reason for the page’s ranking.

It’s worth reading Shaun’s blog post for more detail, and for further variations on the test, but the indications are that the answer to the question in the headline here is yes.

It would be good to see other tests to back up this with more evidence. In fact, I’ll see if I can devise one on this site along similar lines.

The article Does Google look at anchor text in internal links? was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

The most expensive 100 Google Adwords keywords in the US

Google is on track to make more than $70bn in revenue in 2016, and the lion’s share of that number will be generated by its insanely successful advertising business.

As I’m sure you know, advertisers pay a fee every time somebody clicks on a link in one of their ads. Some of the costs per click being paid are absolutely staggering, though they must be worth it, from the advertiser’s perspective.

Last month I analysed a large chunk of Google Adwords data from SEMrush to discover the most expensive keywords in the UK. Today, I’m releasing the same research for the US. The old adage suggests that everything is bigger in the States, and that certainly seems to apply to advertising expenditure.

So, here are the top 100 terms, based on a massive dataset of 80m keywords…

The Most Expensive Keywords in the US

As you can see, the legal sector dominates, with the most expensive term closing in on a truly incredible $1,000 per click. It sounds insane, but consider that the average mesothelioma settlement is in excess of $1m and it starts to make a lot of sense. Legal terms account for 78% of the top 100, and nine of the top 10.

Water damage is another big ticket item, with clicks costing more than $250 for the top terms. Repair costs and associated claims for water damage into the tens of thousands, so again, it figures.

The other sectors that need to spend big to make an impression include Finance (largely focused on insurance), B2B (typically around the provision of business telephony) and Health (the top terms being linked to rehab).

One of the most obvious difference between the UK and US research is the total absence of any terms related to gambling in the latter country, where it remains illegal to gamble online. Gambling terms account for 77% of the UK’s top 100 terms, with the most expensive cost per click coming in at around $220.

The other thing is the lack of typos. In the UK advertisers are quite happy to seek out people who cannot spell, something that makes the eyes narrow when those terms are linked to gambling.

Sector by sector

Here’s a sector-specific breakdown of the top five most expensive terms in the US. Note that I’ve adjusted the scale for each one, such is the variance in click costs between industries.

You can share these charts individually, should you wish to do so.

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As Google continues to turn the screw towards a fully fledged pay-to-play model my bet is that we’ll see even more keyword inflation over the next few years, though ultimately there may be a point at which things start to plateau.

What do you think? Are you surprised by the amount being spent by advertisers? Do leave a comment below…

The article The most expensive 100 Google Adwords keywords in the US was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

The continuing rise of voice search and how you can adapt to it

Google’s I/O developer conference brought several huge announcements about Google’s future direction and projects, including two new technologies which demonstrate just how important voice search and natural language processing are to the company’s future development.

The first, Google Assistant, is a voice-activated digital assistant which builds on “all [Google’s] years of investment in deeply understanding users’ questions”, as Google’s blog declared. It takes Google’s voice search and natural language capabilities to the next level, while also allowing users to carry out everyday tasks like booking cinema tickets or restaurant reservations.

The second is Google Home, Google’s long-awaited smart home hub to rival the Amazon Echo, which comes with Assistant built in. Google Home – which will be “unmatched in far-field voice recognition”, according to VP of Product Management Mario Quieroz – will give users access to Google’s powerful search capabilities in answering their questions as well as linking together smart devices all over their home.

google assistant

It’s no surprise that Google is focusing heavily on voice search and natural language going forward when you consider that in 2015 alone, voice search rose from “statistical zero” to make up 10% of all searches globally, according to Timothy Tuttle of the voice interface specialist MindMeld. That’s an estimated 50 billion searches per month.

Indeed, Google CEO Sundar Pichai revealed in his keynote speech at I/O that 1 in every 5 searches made with the Google Android app in the US is a voice query. Bing produced a similar statistic earlier this month when it announced that a quarter of all searches on the Windows 10 taskbar using Bing are voice searches. And statistics like these are only like to increase further as search engines, apps and developers respond to this trend.

Digital assistants: The agents of voice search

Siri. Cortana. Google Now. Alexa. Google Assistant. These are only the names of the most well-known digital assistants from the major technology companies; a search for “digital assistant” on the iOS or Android app store shows just how many different varieties of these voice-controlled AIs there are.

Digital assistants are overwhelmingly the medium through which we interact with voice search and carry out natural language queries, so it makes sense that they, too, are on the rise as companies compete for the biggest share of this rapidly expanding market.

The figures show just how recent much of this uptake of voice search is. Late last year, MindMeld published a study of smartphone users in the U.S. and their use of voice search and voice commands. It found that 60% of smartphone users who used voice search had begun using it within the past year, with 41% of survey respondents having only begun to use voice search in the past 6 months.

mindmeldImage: MindMeld

With that said, digital assistants are not just confined to smartphones any more, increasingly integrated into devices like smart home hubs and game consoles. And the more that we speak to and interact with assistants, pushing the limits of what they’re capable of, the more sophisticated they become.

The newest generation of digital assistants, including Google Assistant and Viv, a new AI from the creators of Siri, are capable of interpreting and responding to long, multi-part and highly specific queries. For example, during a public demonstration in New York, Viv showed off its ability to accurately respond to queries like, “Was it raining in Seattle three Thursdays ago?” and “Will it be warmer than 70 degrees near the Golden Gate Bridge after 5PM the day after tomorrow?”

At the demonstration of Google Assistant at Google’s I/O conference, Sundar Pichai made much of the fact that you can pose follow-up queries to Assistant without needing to restate context. That is, you can ask a question like, “Who directed the Revenant?” and then follow up by saying, “Show me his awards,” and Assistant will know that you are still referring to director Alejandro Iñárritu in the second query. (It’s worth noting, though, that Bing’s web search has been able to do this for a while).

Continuing the conversation: Google’s Assistant can now handle follow-up questions to a previous query without needing to hear the subject again

How voice queries are changing search

So how is this upswing in voice queries and technology’s increasing ability to respond to them changing the way that users search?

We don’t search with voice the same way that we search with a keyboard. Computer users have evolved a specific set of habits and expectations for web search based on its limitations and capabilities. So we would start off by typing a quite generalised, keyword-based search query like “SEO tips”, see what comes back, and progressively narrow down through trial and error with longer search terms like “SEO tips for m-commerce” or “SEO tips for beginners”.

Or if we were looking to buy a pair of red shoes, we might search for “red shoes” and then navigate to a specific website, browse through their shoes and use the site interface to narrow down by style, size and designer.

Whereas now, with the advanced capabilities of search engines to understand longer, more specialised searches and the advent of voice search making natural language queries more common, we might start off by searching, “Quick SEO tips for complete beginners”, or, “Show me wide-fit ladies’ red shoes for under £50.”

voice vs keyword searchWe search differently with a keyboard to the way we search with voice

The increasing rise of voice search brings with it a wealth of new data on user intent, habits and preferences. From the first query about SEO, a site owner can see that the searcher is not just a novice but a complete novice, and is not looking to spend a lot of time researching in-depth SEO guides; they want a list that’s easy to digest and quick to implement.

From the second query, a shop owner can tell exactly what type of shoes the consumer is looking for, down to the fit and colour. The price range indicates a budget and an intent to buy.

When mobile users are conducting voice search with location enabled, site owners and business owners can also gain valuable location data. Often, the voice query will contain the important phrase “near me”, which shows that the searcher is looking for local businesses. Mobile voice searches are three times more likely to be local than text, so optimising for local search and mobile will also help you to rank for many voice searches.

A mobile screenshot of a Google search for "Marks and Spencer near me", showing the three-pack of local results below a small map of the area.

With the growth of voice search, we can expect to see more and more long-tail search keywords and natural language queries, which give increasing amounts of contextual information and useful data about searcher intent. The addition of voice assistants to smart home hubs like Amazon’s Echo and Google Home (Apple is also reported to be developing its own smart hub with Siri built in) will also give the companies behind them access to untold amounts of data on users’ daily life and habits, purchases, interests and more, opening up new avenues for marketing.

How can you capitalise on voice search?

With all of that in mind, what practical things can website owners do to take advantage of this new search frontier?

Look out for natural language queries in your site analytics

At the moment, there’s no way to tell outright which users are reaching your site through voice search, though Google is rumoured to be developing this feature for Google Analytics. But by looking out for natural language queries in your search traffic reports, you can start to get a feel for what users might be asking to find your site, learn from it and use it to inform your SEO strategy.

Think about how people are likely to phrase queries aloud

We need to start moving our approach from thinking of endless variations on different keywords to thinking about different types of questions and phrases that users might search. Ask yourself which questions might bring a user to your site, and how they will speak them aloud. What are the extra words, the ones that wouldn’t appear in a regular keyword search, and what information do they give you about the user’s intent on your site?

Make sure your site is set up to answer searchers’ questions

Once you’ve considered the types of questions a user might be asking, consider whether your site will satisfy those queries. Rob Kerry, in a presentation on the future of search at Ayima Insights, advised website owners to start integrating Q&A-style content into their sites in order to rank better for natural language searches and better satisfy the needs of users who are asking those questions.

Q&A-style content can also be excellent material for featured snippets, which is another great way to gain visibility on the search results page.

Develop content with a conversational tone

Because natural language queries reflect the way that people speak, they aren’t just longer but more colloquial. So consider if there are ways that you can create and incorporate content with a more conversational tone, to match this.

Use voice search!

One of the best ways to understand voice search, how it works and what kind of results it returns is to use it yourself. Search the questions you think might bring people to your site and see what currently ranks top, to get a sense of what works for others. Are there questions that aren’t being addressed, or answered very well? You can take this into account when creating content that is geared towards voice search.

The article The continuing rise of voice search and how you can adapt to it was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

Monday, 30 May 2016

3 Serious Reasons to Give SEO Another Try


If you, like me, are an SEO salesperson, or if you are in account management, you have definitely heard it.  Likely even the other members of your agency have heard it as well. To what am I referring?  To the SEO Rip Off/Blackhat Story, of course. Though the details of the story may change prospect to prospect, there are a few standard elements that always seem to be present.  They are: 1) My past SEO company charged me an arm and a leg, and they didn’t get results. 2) My past SEO company took my money, and I just never heard from them again. 3) My past SEO company was doing really great for me, then we got slammed with a Manual penalty from Google, and I found out that my agency was doing black hat SEO. These are all very unfortunate occurrences that happen too often. However, each of these need not be the coffin nail for your SEO hopes. There are reasons to seek out a good SEO company. Today, we will examine three of them that correspond to the stories mentioned above.

  1. You are now much wiser to the SEO game and know what to look for in a quality agency.

So, you had a poor experience with an SEO company, and you are unsure about how to judge the effectiveness of future partners before you purchase.  Fortunately, you have many more tools in your belt now to help determine what a good SEO strategy is and what is likely to produce the best results.  You have great websites like Moz and Raven Tools that constantly publish great content focusing on best practices for SEO as well as great SEO news sites like Search Engine Journal and Search Engine Land that will help you remain up to date on trends and news in the digital marketing world.  Furthermore, you clearly know a strategy that doesn’t work (aka, your first agency’s strategy), and you can use that to compare new plans.  Finally, you now know that the proof is in the pudding.  That is, you now know that if a company can’t rank itself highly for key search terms, it very likely can’t rank your site either.  If you talk to an agency that can’t be found in the search engines, you know to take a pass and move on.

  1. Demand a contract that protects you in case the client doesn’t perform the agreed upon services.

I am still stunned at the sheer number of times I am talking to a prospect about a competitor who is offering SEO services without a contract. You, prospect, now know the futility of a relationship with an SEO agency that doesn’t hold itself accountable in writing to you.  Are you simply going to take your salesperson’s word that he or she is going to get the work done?  You simply can’t afford to make this mistake again because the worst case scenario is too costly to you in terms of money and time wasted, and it happens too often.  You are not being pushy to ask for the terms of the agreement to be committed to writing.  You are simply being a wise, forward-looking business person who is concerned for his or her best interests.

  1. Educate yourself on Google’s algorithm updates to protect against spammy SEO and find a company that has never done black hat SEO or had a client penalized for work done by that agency.

Panda and Penguin aren’t simply your favorite animals at the ZOO.  Flawed as they may be, they are also some of the best changes to happen to SEO in forcing the spammers into relative ineffectiveness.  They are both updates to Google’s algorithm, the notoriously secret formula that determines search rankings.  Once you can understand both Panda and Penguin, you will then be armed with the knowledge you need to quiz each SEO company on their past work.  First, find out if the company you are considering has ever done black hat SEO in the past.  Though this isn’t a completely damning fact if they are currently doing white hat SEO, it is a sign that you should be very wary of working with that company.  Second, find out if that company has ever had a client penalized. If they have, you need to do some serious soul searching before working with them.  Though they may have reformed their ways, in my opinion, you should probably move on as there are plenty of agencies that have never earned their clients a penalty before.

Your SEO story doesn’t have to have a bad ending.  Things can turn around and be better, and you can experience the joys of targeted traffic and inbound leads all day long if you follow the steps above.  While I haven’t covered everything you should dissect when vetting an agency, the above is a start.

The post http://www.highervisibility.com/blog/3-serious-reasons-to-give-seo-another-try/ appeared first on http://www.highervisibility.com

Friday, 27 May 2016

Five most interesting search marketing news stories of the week

Welcome to our weekly round-up of all the latest news and research from around the world of search marketing and beyond.

This week we have a round of very exciting changes to AdWords and some stats about the intolerability of video ad formats.

Google AdWords launches new features for mobile ads and maps

As Sophie Loras reported last week, Google has “introduced new tools and features to AdWords to specifically address the consumer shift towards mobile.”

These include:

Expanded text ads for a mobile

Headlines in AdWords will increase from one 25-character header, to two 30-character headers, giving advertisers more room to explain their products and services.

The description line will also increase from two 35-character description lines to one 80-character description line.

Responsive display ads

These are designed to help advertisers with the many different content shapes and sizes across the more than two million publisher sites and apps on the Google Display Network (GDN).

Bid adjustments for device types

AdWords will soon allow advertisers to set individual bid adjustments for each device type (mobile, desktop and tablet).

Connect online and offline with mobile

Google is introducing new local search ads across Google.com and Google Maps to reach consumers as they search for physical business locations.

New ad formats on Google Maps

To make it easier for users to find businesses around them Google Maps will offer promoted pins as well the ability to include details for one off special offers or sales.

You can now tie-up all your web properties together in Search Console

As I reported a few days ago, you can now track the combined search visibility of all your managed web properties.

So all the separate platforms you operate for one single brand – websites, mobile sites, apps – you’ll be able to treat as a single entity. You can even add HTTP or HTTPS versions of the same site and combine multiple apps.

The aggregated data from your properties will be found in the Search Analytics of Search Console and you’ll be able to check everything from clicks, to impressions to CTR, as you would normally with single properties.

Silent ads for the win

Latest research from Wibbitz on the state of video advertising reveal some fascinating – if not obvious – home truths on our tolerance for video ad formats.

45% of people said that muted ads are more tolerable than targeted, autoplay or interactive ad formats.

Also, the survey found that 70% of people won’t watch an ad longer than 10 seconds, 61% admit they always skip video ads and 42% disapprove of autoplay ads.

Bing’s share of the search market is growing faster than Google’s

According to comScore, in April 2016, Bing’s share of the search market rose by 0.2% while Google’s dropped by 0.2%.

Also according to SEJ, “Google’s total share of the US desktop search market has dipped below its previous 64% to 63.8%. Microsoft’s share of desktop search is now sitting at 21.6%.”

Google’s new title and description lengths: ‘it’s just a test’

Google has been experimenting with a variety of expanded title tag and meta description lengths in its SERPs over the last few weeks.

However, as we all expected, Google’s John Muller has this to say about Google’s constant honing of the look of its search results…

So yeah, don’t get too excited.

The article Five most interesting search marketing news stories of the week was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

How To Solve SEO’s Biggest Problems With Ecommerce Websites


The past couple decades have been marked by the rapid development of digital entrepreneurship, resulting in shifts in consumer attitudes and behavior that have made ecommerce an overwhelming chunk of our current economy. In 2014, retail ecommerce sales amounted to over $305 billion, and that was just in the United States. As is true of any highly profitable industry, competition increases at a rate proportional to ecommerce growth. How, then, do you make your business or brand’s online presence stand out among the millions of others and ecommerce giants like Amazon? By optimizing your website and addressing the biggest, most common SEO problems with ecommerce websites. Take a look at the list below to maximize the performance of your ecommerce website.

Volume of Pages

Having too many pages is a common issue for ecommerce websites, often because there are so many product pages. It’s important to have your products accessible online for consumers, but having too many pages increases the risk of duplicate content.

To correct this issue, try and make a habit of deleting pages that haven’t generated any sales in the past year. If you have so many pages you don’t even know where to start, use a tool like Shopify to determine which products on your website are generating the most revenue.

Site Speed

Site speed is critical for a couple of reasons. First and foremost, Google’s algorithm accounts for site speed, so if yours is slow, it’s directly affecting your rank. But in addition to that, site speed is an important part of the user experience. A delay in site speed can cost you leads and conversions that can amount to huge dents in your overall revenue.

Unfortunately, site speed is something that will come at a cost. If your site speed is suffering, you’ll need to upgrade your hosting. But paying a little more to upgrade your hosting will keep your site Google and user friendly. And, depending on the host you choose, add protection from cyber hacking/attacks (if you go with a content delivery network).


A common problem among ecommerce websites is the tendency to promote keywords that people aren’t actually searching for. Aside from being a wasted effort, it also doesn’t help searchers find what they’re looking for.

Spend some time researching the behavior and language of your customers. More often than not, consumers search for a specific phrase or question. If you can find key phrases, you’re more likely to generate traffic as opposed to keywords that are too broad.


The readability of a URL has a lot to do with why searchers do or don’t decide to click on a link. The idea is to have URLs that are readable, brief, and keyword-oriented. Check out the Moz image below for a clearer picture of URL importance:

URLs How To Solve SEO's Biggest Problems With Ecommerce Websites

Put yourself in the shoes of your customers and aim to develop URLs they’d find trustworthy and helpful, and use the keywords and phrases you find in your research.


Content is one of the biggest factors of SEO, and many ecommerce websites struggle specifically with duplicate and thin content. Both are punishable by search engines and will hurt your rankings, therefore hindering your ability to effectively compete.

To avoid or correct this problem, it’s important to write a couple hundred unique words on every product (using a manufacturer’s description will get you banned from search engines!). If your content is high quality and original, your search engine ranking will improve. If there are some instances that require duplicate content, create a canonical tag so Google knows not to treat the pages as duplicates, or consider a no index tag.


The overwhelming majority of buyers look for reviews when searching for products to purchase. By not having reviews of your products, service, and website available, users are prompted to buy from another producer that has positive reviews.

In addition to building up the reputation and ranking of your ecommerce website, reviews are also an excellent way to build up some unique content. Your users reviews will keep your website fresh and encourage search engines and other uses to value you as an authority.

The post http://www.highervisibility.com/blog/how-to-solve-seos-biggest-problems-with-ecommerce-websites/ appeared first on http://www.highervisibility.com

Winners and losers of Google’s latest mobile friendly update: USA

Last week, Google’s John Mueller confirmed on Twitter that Google’s latest, stronger Mobile Friendly Update has been fully rolled out.

This update is supposed to give an even more powerful boost to mobile-friendly pages.

When we try to figure out the winners and losers of this, it’s actually much easier to identify the losers. This has to do with Google using the same index for both desktop- and mobile-searches.

This means that a small positive change, caused by the website’s SEO or webmaster, can actually improve the visibility of both the desktop and mobile results.

This makes it quite difficult to figure out the if the ‘Mobile Friendly Update #2’ was the cause for the increase.

Nonetheless, I will show you some examples for websites where the update is the most likely cause for success.

As far as the losing websites are concerned, we are able to check for all the problems that Google said webmasters should look out for, when it comes to mobile.

We looked at the mobile visibility for 200 domains for the time frame between April 25th and May 16th, 2016. We only took those domains into account which had a visibility score of at least 3 points for the Mobile Visibility Index.

Here are the most interesting cases:


1) Instructables.com


Instructables.com crashed from 44.9 points to 12.2 points in the Mobile Visibility Index (a decrease of -70.56%)

This case is very interesting as we can use the new Google Mobile Friendly Tool to analyse their mobile version.

For many URLs there are up to five resources that are blocked to the Googlebot. Some of these blocked resources are from advertisement platforms, but just blocking the resources does not mean that Googlebot might not still see the following during their crawl…

instructables ads

When I visited the website from my iPhone, or using the Google Chrome browser, I was shown some annoying advertisements and there are also some interstitials.

As Googlebot will obviously ignore cookies, it is very likely that Googlebot gets to see these interstitials every time it visits the site. The crash may be caused by either problem.

It not only lost visibility in the USA but also in UK and ES (they also have content in Spanish that ranks on Google.es)

2) Moveflat.com


Moveflat.com went from a visibility score of 3.272 to 1.929 (a decrease of -41.05%)

This is a very simple case: moveflat.com is simply not showing their mobile website to mobile users, by default. The user must actively click on a link. This makes them a good example when we consider John Müller’s statement:

“The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal – so even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content“

It seems that this website does not belong to the above category.

3) Hipmunk.com


Hipmunk.com went from a visibility score of 13.593 to 9.770 (a decrease of -28.13%)

While the people at Hipmunk.com seem very likeable with their chipmunk mascot, they also have some technical problems.

If we run the site through Google’s Mobile Friendly Test, we notice that Google will analyse the desktop version of the page. The sad part is that, if I open the website with my smartphone, I am shown a mobile version of the page.

hipmunk mobile friendly test

If you do not have an appropriate mobile version of your website, or if Google cannot find/access it, you will have problems trying to rank well for mobile searches.

In the next chart you can see the historic ranking data for the desktop and mobile results for hipmunk.com for the keywords “cheapest flights.”

cheapest flights ranking

The red line shows the desktop positions while the blue line shows mobile rankings.

We can see that in the desktop-search they have been ranking in the top 10 for this keyword for a long time, while for mobile they only managed to crack the top 10 results three times, which is actually a pretty good summary of what is happening with the mobile friendly Google update.


As I said before, it is easier to identify the losers than the winners. While the winners could be where they are because they benefited from Google’s latest mobile friendly update, they could also show an increase because of positive SEO changes.

1) Boardgamegeek.com

boardgame geek

Boardgamegeek.com managed to increase their visibility from 5.774 points to 10.024 (an increase of +73.60%)

This case is interesting as we see a decrease in desktop visibility while the mobile-visibility is on the rise. The amazing thing is that they actually do not have a mobile version at all!

This will likely come back to Jon Mueller’s statement from before that: “even if a page with high quality content is not mobile-friendly, it could still rank well if it has great, relevant content.”

This could definitely be the case for Boardgamegeek, a domain that is already 16 years old, has a massive community of users and a lot of relevant content for the more than 77.000 games they cover.

2) Brainpop.com


Brainpop.com went from a visibility Index score of 8.973 to 12.950 (an increase of +44.32%)

The target audience for this educational website are young adults, who – as we all know – live glued to their smartphones. In the above chart we can nicely see how they break their negative trend after the update went live.

This shows that the same URL (the mobile update works on a URL level) has a better ranking for mobile than desktop for the keyword “electric circuits.”

desktop vs smartphone

3) Reuters.com


Reuters.com managed to increase its visibility score from 19.315 to 27.311 (an increase of +41.40%)

In many countries we see news portals sporting a higher desktop visibility, while here we see the mobile visibility come out on top.

If we look at the ranking history below, for the keyword “indian temple”, we see the desktop rankings in red and mobile in blue. In the past, neither ranked very high, but after the update, the mobile version jumped into the top 10.

indian temple ranking

It is very likely that the domain was then able to create positive user signals through their mobile results, which then also helped the desktop ranking. This very much makes sense once we consider that Google only has one index for mobile and desktop.

Juan González is the SEO and Country Manager from Sistrix.

The article Winners and losers of Google’s latest mobile friendly update: USA was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

Five ways UX blends with SEO to improve a site’s performance

For many years there has been a debate on whether UX and SEO can really go hand in hand, but this is not the case anymore. Today we’re examining how UX and SEO can make the perfect match.

There’s no need to question nowadays the need to blend UX with SEO when building a website, as none of these two can stand on its own.

User Experience (UX) focuses on target groups of people and usually bases decisions on their design preferences, as well as the industry’s trends, while SEO tends to focus more on the actual site and its data, in order to increase the content’s visibility in search engines.

However, there is a spot that these two meet…

seo and ux

Google made it very clear in its Webmaster Guidelines that even in SEO optimisation, users should be the centre of attention:

Make pages primarily for users, not for search engines.

And this is only a reminder on why SEO cannot work in isolation from other factors that affect a site’s performance, especially when the focus of the old days on keyword-stuffed topics is long gone.

Here are five points that remind us how UX can blend with SEO to improve a site’s performance:

1. Creating content for the user

Both UX and SEO should focus on the user and despite the older perception that SEO’s effectiveness depends on keyword and page optimisation, Google keeps reminding us to also think of the users when creating content.

It’s the human element that both users and search engines appreciate, as it indicates that the main goal is to satisfy the user, rather than the engine, although the latter will also favour the specific page in the ranking.

Whether it’s design or optimisation, the emphasis on the users’ needs help a page improve its performance and the audience will reward this effort with an increased time spent on the site.

2. Readability

Content should aim at relevance, quality and engagement, in order to become appealing and thus, convince the users to spend more time on it.

UX can enhance the appeal and the readability of a page and this may boost SEO, as the quality of the content is favouring a site’s crawlability from search engines.

Readability in SEO is the optimisation of the content in order to be clear, relevant, and informative, covering a topic as much as possible, in order to increase the page’s authority for search engines.

What’s more, keywords and on-page optimisation (even with the simplest steps) favour a post’s readability, providing that they are properly applied to enhance the browsing (and crawling) experience.

There’s no need to focus on target keywords anymore to increase the page’s ranking on SERPs, especially if it affects the quality of the content and its readability, as neither search engines, nor users will appreciate it.

Readability for UX is all about pleasing the users that access a page, ensuring that their first impressions will be positive.

A clear structure and a functional page, which works for all devices and browsers, contribute to an improved user experience and increase the chances of creating an engaged audience.

It’s the concise, legible, functional and properly formatted content that defines readability both for SEO and UX, with the combination of the two making a great match that users will enjoy.

3. Visual appeal

Visual content may contribute to the appeal of a page and both UX and SEO focus on its optimisation.

As human beings process visual elements faster than written information, images, videos and any other types of visual content are becoming important to the user experience.

In terms of SEO, visual content can be optimised to help search engines discover it and provide another way of leading traffic to your page through the rise of visual search engines.

User experience understands the importance of including visual content to a page, in order to increase its effectiveness, although it is very important to maintain the right balance, as visual content should not replace the actual text.

Moreover, both SEO and UX advocates agree that large images may affect the browsing experience, as they may disrupt the layout of a page and increase its load time.

Thus, always optimise your visual content, while keeping in mind the different devices, favouring both the desktop and the mobile experience.

4. Usability


It’s not just the design, but also the functionality of a page that affects the user experience.

An easy navigation allows users to further explore a page and and a proper menu functionality, internal link structure and clear navigation labels contribute to the time the users spend on a page and most importantly, they affect whether they will find what they’re looking for, which was the reason they initially clicked on the page.

What’s more, sitemaps are useful both for users and search engines, as they help the indexing, the navigation and the crawling of a site, which both SEO and UX want.

SEO and UX also agree on the importance of maintaining the right page speed, ensuring that heavy images, ads and faulty functionality won’t affect the time it takes to load a page. As users are becoming impatient with the loading speed of a site, it is critical to measure and improve the page speed, in order to keep the bounce rate as low as possible.

It is also important to test a page’s performance in all the browsers and the devices, aiming for a seamless experience for each user, with an additional focus on mobile users that keep increasing.

Furthermore, accessibility is also significant, both for SEO and UX, and it can be enhanced by ensuring that all pages are useful for readers with visual impairments, for example,  who use screen readers to navigate a page.

Is your content descriptive? Is the navigation checked? Are your images captioned?

5. Retain users

UX aims to provide the site experience that helps users browse and find relevant and informative content and the right navigation pattern can guide them to the next steps in an easy and simple way that seems effortless to them.

Navigation and user paths may ensure that you retain users on your site, and by the time this is achieved, it’s time to think about conversion.

Both SEO and UX should have the idea of conversion in mind, either by turning visitors into loyal users, by encouraging them to subscribe to an email newsletter, or by turning them into clients.

Don’t be afraid to create calls to action that will help the users know what you expect from them. After all, users prefer to have clear guidance, rather than being exposed to multiple options that may paralyse them.

You don’t have to create content by simply having the idea of conversion in mind, but still, it’s the ultimate goal to understand what your audience wants and blend a great browsing experience with your business goals.

How UX and SEO optimisation may enhance a site’s performance

It’s not necessarily complicated to blend SEO and UX to improve a site’s performance, and it’s even more important to understand why these two cannot work independently anymore, at least not with the same effectiveness.

It’s SEO that may lead traffic to the site and help it reach a higher position on SERPs, but it’s UX that will determine whether the traffic can be maintained and converted into the set goals.

Thus, every site trying to improve its performance through UX and SEO should offer:

  • Quality, informative, and relevant content
  • Easy to use structure and simple and effective navigation
  • Optimisation of text and images to please both users and search engines
  • Appealing design that focuses on accessibility
  • Clear call-to-action, both around the users’ next clicks, but also around the desired conversion

The article Five ways UX blends with SEO to improve a site’s performance was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

Thursday, 26 May 2016

Why ecommerce sites should use both SEM and SEO for acquisition

It is well-known that in order to get a good return on investment in terms of marketing, online retailers need to be constantly in front of their customers. However, with the rise of online users, it is important these retailers adopt a multichannel approach.

Despite being similar in that SEM and SEO both aim to improve visibility through rankings on search engines, they do have significant differences.

SEM is a pay-per-click (PPC) service, while SEO improves ranking organically and does not involve paying for search results.

However, with Adobe’s recent Q4 Digital Advertising Report explaining that not only are CPCs in decline in Europe, but click-through rates are on the rise, all signs are pointing to a Paid Search orientated strategy.

Are retailers better off investing their money in SEM or their time in SEO? Let’s explore the arguments for each technique.

Why should ecommerce retailers use SEM?

Quick results

With SEM, results can be achieved relatively quickly. Of course, you will be required to make changes in the AdWords interface, however once this has been done, you can see results almost instantly.

With SEO on the other hand, you will need to implement a longer-term strategy and it can take time to reap the rewards of your efforts.

Better conversion rates

According to New Media Campaigns, PPC holds a slight edge in conversion rates as paid search results are 1.5 times more likely to convert click-throughs from the search engine.

Direct control over your visibility

Even with a significant amount of time invested into SEO, there is no guarantee that you will ever appear in the top spots on search results pages. While the same can almost be said for PPC, bidding plays a huge role in paid search campaigns and increasing your budget can take you so far in improving your visibility on search engines.

Few website optimisations

Although good website structure helps to improve your PPC ranking, it is not incremental to do so to achieve good paid search results. SEO on the other hand, requires that your website’s structure and content are optimised to achieve good results

Why use SEO as well as SEM?

While there are many arguments that may convince online retailers to rely on Paid Search, there are also many benefits to using SEO as well as SEM in their multi-channel strategies.

No direct additional costs

Besides your time and effort, SEO allows you to achieve results without any direct additional costs. SEM on the other hand, can obviously require a significant amount of investment, particularly for competitive keywords.

Organic results more likely to be clicked on

According to the same study by New Media Campaigns, organic results are 8.5 times more likely to be clicked on than paid search results!

Improve brand awareness

With organic results more likely to be clicked on, it is a no-brainer to invest in an SEO strategy. However, another added benefit is the possibility to improve brand awareness.

Presuming that you are able to successfully place your ads in paid search results, also appearing in organic results will help to reinforce your message and improve the visibility of your brand. Over time, the more your brand awareness increases, the more likely consumers are to trust your brand name.

A long-term strategy

It will take time and effort to properly optimise your website for search engines, but in the long term it will help bring you continuous website traffic for free.

Of course, you will need to be sure to keep up-to-date with the latest guidelines to ensure that you are not penalised and your efforts don’t end up going down the drain.

As you can see, there are many advantages to both SEO and SEM, however what is important to take away is that they are complementary techniques. Online retailers are generally encouraged to start by adopting both strategies.

For newly-launched businesses, SEM will accelerate brand awareness, as users start to recognise and trust your brand name. As a first step, it is wise to invest more into SEM while your SEO efforts get off the ground. You can then balance your investments once your organic visibility increases.

Mark Haupt is UK Sales Director at Twenga Solutions and a contributor to Search Engine Watch.

The article Why ecommerce sites should use both SEM and SEO for acquisition was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

Three tips to improve your mobile marketing from Nick Wilsdon, Vodafone

While marketers realise the importance of mobile, many of them have yet to catch up with consumer expectations, or realise how SEO and mobile work together.

Everybody knows that it’s the year of mobile (again). Everybody knows that smartphones are behind more and more internet searches. But still, not everybody connects the two.

This winter, experience management platform Sitecore and UK market research company Vanson Bourne surveyed brand marketers all over the world about mobile marketing. While 97% of them agreed that a good mobile experience impacts customer loyalty, only 59% have a solid mobile strategy in place.

Part of that is because purchases haven’t caught up just yet. According to Google research, mobile commerce is particularly prevalent in countries like Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and South Africa, where at least 60% of consumers regularly make purchases with their phones. But in many Western nations – including the US, the UK, Belgium, France and Germany – that figure is less than 10.

Vodafone Graph

Nick Wilsdon, lead SEO for the Vodafone Group, believes there’s a symbiotic relationship between mobile SEO and mobile commerce. He believes that marketers excelling at the former will see more of the latter.

“[Too many marketers] haven’t been thinking about their site through mobile and not testing it enough. They don’t function in mobile; the buttons are too small,” said Wilsdon at Shift London. “The mobile web is broken right now. Very few people get it right, but there are a few champions in the area.”

1. Mobile and SEO

Last year, Google famously changed up its algorithm to favour mobile-friendly sites. The search giant has since launched the Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) initiative, which was designed to speed up mobile content.

More than three-quarters of people will abandon a site that doesn’t load in five seconds; 40% will X out after three. “Mobilegeddon” was born with consumer behavior in mind and brands that don’t follow along are penalised.

Still, 39% of the marketers surveyed by Sitecore don’t have mobile optimised websites in place. Wilsdon doesn’t believe they realise the kind of effect SEO has on mobile.

“This impacts massively on SEO because Google will give us a ranking benefit for having a fast website. We’ll then get more exposure and then get more traffic,” said Wilsdon. “It dovetails with everything that happens in performance.”

2. The ascension of apps

In the UK and Ireland, the Domino’s app now accounts for nearly half its orders. Wilsdon believes that case study is something marketers should aspire to, as mobile internet activity is increasingly happening in-app.


As a result, Google has been pushing its fast-loading Progressive Web Apps concept for most of the last year.

“We can cache parts of it and do push notifications, and basically make our webpages act more like apps,” said Wilsdon.

Analyzing data from 52 million Android smartphones, Paris-based Cheetah Ad Platform compared app engagement from around the world. Engaging with an average of 53 apps each month, Brazilians have the world’s most competitive app market.

For marketers looking to replicate Brazil’s app engagement, Wilsdon recommends smart app banners, which bridge the gap between the mobile web and apps; and native code, which bridges the gap between marketers and consumers.

“Native code actually interacts with your phone and knows whether you have the app installed already. This goes into app deep linking, which is a massive game changer for the web, which we can now link to specific functionality in apps from SERPs,” he said.

3. The seamless factor

Vodafone pushes Indian consumers toward the app when it’s time to pay their bills. That reduces the number of steps in process, as the app already knows who they are.


The strategy there fits in with a larger theme of seamlessness. Making the experience easier is ultimately going to increase customer satisfaction. About 90% of people don’t want to create a new login on a website or stay on a mobile site if they get their login wrong on the first try.

Push notifications are another good – but under-utilised, in Wilsdon’s opinion – strategy for retaining customers and making their lives easier. For example, your website can send alerts to users even when their browser isn’t open, reminding them that they have an item in their cart.

“Previously, we thought of mobile as something to bolt onto our sites. That’s not the case anymore. We have to retool the entire way we’re creating content,” said Wilsdon. “The mobile web is open for business; we now have the tools to make it work.”

The article Three tips to improve your mobile marketing from Nick Wilsdon, Vodafone was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

How to write meta descriptions for SEO (with good and bad examples)

What is a meta description? How do you write one? Why are meta descriptions important? Do they actually help with search engine optimisation? What are some good and bad examples?

Following on from our incredibly popular guide 22 SEO essentials for optimising your site, I thought I’d follow up the advice on meta tags and answer all of the above questions.

If you just want a quick guide to optimising meta descriptions, click here to jump to the checklist section.

For the rest of you, first lets talk about meta tags in general:

What are meta tags

As Kristine Schachinger described in our previous guide to meta tags back in 2012, meta tags are HTML elements that provide information about a webpage for search engines and website visitors.

There are two elements that must be placed as tags in the <head> section of a HTML document. These elements are:

  • Title tag
  • Meta description

We’ve already discussed title tags in a separate post last week, and now you’ve mastered that skill, let’s move straight into meta descriptions.

What is a meta description?

The meta description is the short paragraph of text placed in the HTML of a webpage that describes its content. The meta description will then appear under your page’s URL in the search results. This is also known as a snippet.

guide to primavera sound 2016 Google Search

The meta description will also often appear when people share your articles across other websites and social channels.

Methods Unsound meta description on facebook

Where do I add the meta description?

You can add a meta description in the <head> section of your site’s HTML. It should look something like this:

<meta name=”description” content=”Here is a precise description of my awesome webpage.”>

You should have complete control of your meta description in your CMS, particularly if you’re using WordPress.

If you use an SEO plug-in, such as Yoast, you can add a meta description to the ‘meta description’ section, and you can preview an example of how it will look in search engine results pages (SERPs):

meta description example


Why is the meta description important?

A meta description can influence the decision of the searcher as to whether they want to click through on your content from search results or not. The more descriptive, attractive and relevant the description, the more likely someone will click through.

Are meta descriptions used as a ranking signal?

Google has stated that meta descriptions are NOT a ranking signal. But, again, the quality of the description will influence click-through rate, so it is very important to use this element wisely.

How to write a great meta description

Meta description checklist

  • Keywords: do make sure your most important keywords for the webpage show up in the meta description. Often search engines will highlight in bold where it finds the searchers query in your snippet.
  • Write legible, readable copy: this is essential. Keyword stuffing your meta description is bad and it doesn’t help the searcher as they’ll assume your result leads to a spammy website. Make sure your description reads like a normal, human-written sentence.
  • Treat the meta description as if it’s an advert for your web-page: make it as compelling and as relevant as possible. The description MUST match the content on the page, but you should also make it as appealing as possible.
  • Length: a meta description should be no longer than 135 – 160 characters long (although Google has recently been testing longer snippets). Any longer and search engines will chop the end off, so make sure any important keywords are nearer the front.
  • Do not duplicate meta descriptions: As with title tags, the meta descriptions must be written differently for every page. Google may penalise you for mass duplicating your meta descriptions.
  • Consider using rich snippets: by using schema markup you can add elements to the snippets to increase their appeal. For instance: star ratings, customer ratings, product information, calorie counts etc.

Good examples of meta descriptions

Here are a few examples of appealing meta descriptions that tick the above criteria.

‘best burgers in london’

Although the keywords are further down the description than perhaps they ought to be, the reason why this result is so appealing is the way the copy draws you in with emotive (and mouth-watering) language.

best burgers in london

‘captain america civil war review’

This contains markup to show the star rating, the meta description is short, snappy and best of all, contains a call to action.

captain america civil war review Google Search empire

‘meta descriptions’

Things really are getting too meta. Here Moz has managed to exactly describe what a meta description is, within its own meta description, which is terribly helpful. Although do note that the snippet is a lot longer than normally allowed by Google.

meta description Google Search moz

Bad examples of meta descriptions

‘best burgers in london’

I’m not really interested in the history of rubbish burgers in London, I want to know where to get a tasty burger now! This meta description also fails to include the ‘best’ keyword from its own title tag.

best burgers in london Google Search

‘captain america civil war review’

Although there is some rich snippet markup, the text is muddled and merely copies the title tag directly rather than offering a different enticement. It’s also far too long.

captain america civil war review Google Search

‘meta descriptions’

I’m not sure if there’s something blocking Google’s ability to crawl the webpage properly, but a website called ‘High Rankings’ should really know better than this…meta description bad Google Search

The article How to write meta descriptions for SEO (with good and bad examples) was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com

Wednesday, 25 May 2016

Five competitive advertising strategies to outsmart your competition

It’s often said that competition is good for your business. It pushes you to be your best. Think Coca-Cola vs. Pepsi, Visa vs. MasterCard, Xbox vs. PlayStation, or Apple vs. Microsoft.

Of course, part of the fun of rivalry is stealing customers from your rivals. You can do that with the help of advertising!

Today you’ll learn five brilliant competitive advertising strategies you can use to get in front of your competitors’ customers and (with a little work) turn them into YOUR customers instead. *Evil laughter*


1. Target Facebook users whose interests include your competitors

Facebook Ads doesn’t offer keyword targeting for your ads and you can’t specifically target people who have liked your competitors’ pages. However, Facebook offers something called interest-based targeting.

On Facebook, interests range from extremely broad (e.g., business or entrepreneurship) to very specific. In this case, your competitor’s name is the specific interest you want to target, because Facebook allows you to choose to target people based on, among other things, brands and products they like.


Type in your competitor’s website URL. Or, if that doesn’t work, you can type in your competitor’s brand name or try a few keyword combinations to figure out best option for reaching their target audience – which is now your target audience!

2. Disrupt your competitors’ videos with YouTube ads

Recently I was on YouTube searching for an AT&T ad. Before I could watch the ad I was looking for, I had to sit through another ad – I know, that’s modern life. But the genius part was that this ad wasn’t for AT&T, but for its competitor, Sprint.

In this ad Sprint explained why it is a better provider than AT&T and highlighted an offer to switch carriers, before I could even see the ad for the brand I had searched for.

To execute this competitive advertising strategy for your own campaigns, create the most watchable TrueView ad you can, adding in how much you’re willing to spend.

There are many targeting options to choose from (e.g., demographics, interests, keywords, remarketing). But today we’re feeling competitive!

You want to target your video ads so that whenever someone searches for the YouTube videos of your competitor that they’ll see your ad first. If you play it right, they might not even watch your competitor’s video!

3. Use your competitors’ emails against them with Gmail Ads

Another brilliantly sneaky competitive advertising tactic you should start using now is targeting people who have recently shown interest in the things your competition sells.

With Gmail Ads (those ads that appear at the top of the Promotions tab of users’ personal email accounts), you can do keyword targeting on your competitors’ brand terms.

As you read this, people who are in the market for your competitor’s products are getting emails from your competitors – and those emails mention your competitors’ brand terms.

For example, if you were competing with Sephora, you could target its brand name as part of a Gmail ad campaign so that every time a Sephora newsletter arrives in someone’s Gmail inbox, your brand ends up in its inbox as well. Obviously, your email should tell Sephora subscribers all about your great competing site and product and why they should check your out.

So if you want to try to steal some sales, target the trademarks of your competitors. Make sure you use an email subject line that will have users clicking your Gmail Ads in droves.

Use only the best-performing subject lines, the ones with the highest open rates – your unicorns. As an added bonus, because these people are already in the market for a competing solution, it’s likely that more people will click on your ads, which reduces your costs.


4. Reach your competitors’ audiences through the Google Display Network

Google has some great display ad technology. But if you want to beat up on your competition, you need to use Google’s custom affinity audience feature.

Affinity audiences let you target a predefined audience, one that should be more receptive to seeing your ads.


To make this work brilliantly, and avoid wasting your ad budget, you’ll want to target the home page of your competitor. AdWords will then figure out the brand trademarks and the behavior of the people who visit and are interested in that domain name (or search for content on related topics).

Let’s use MailChimp as an example: MailChimp is a publication that’s geared toward businesses doing email marketing. So if I’m running a similar business geared toward email marketers,MailChimp visitors would form the basis of our “ideal customer” we want to reach with our own display ads.

This will start the process of getting the right people familiar with your brand and the products or service you provide. And hopefully, with the right message, you’ll start stealing business away from your competitors and experiencing breakout growth.

5. Download & target your competitors’ Twitter followers

There are tools that allow you to download a list of every Twitter follower for any account, such as BirdSong Analytics. You can use these to download a list of all your competitor’s Twitter followers. Costs generally start around $35 and go up the more followers the account has.

Once you have your report, you can use those Twitter handles to create a list that you’ll then upload to Twitter Ads. Make sure to select the option to “add tailored audiences.” Uploading the list will take about 3 hours to process.

You can then create ads to get your business in front of the Twitter users who are already following your competitors and are likely in the market to buy or switch to a similar product or service. Genius, right?

After setting your budget comes the real fun. It’s time to get creative and compose your tweet copy. Important note: Twitter’s “advice” for ad success is kind of a disgrace, so please read my article on How to run a successful Twitter Lead generation campaign.

Don’t let your competitors have all the fun!

Remember, all these competitive ad strategies are putting your business in front of users who are interested in your competitors, which means they’re much more likely to be in the market for your product/service. You just have to show them that what you offer is better than what your competitors do!

The article Five competitive advertising strategies to outsmart your competition was first seen from https://searchenginewatch.com