Optimize This

Vol. 2 - SEO Industry Trends & Team Updates

Happy Friday!

We're finally in the home stretch to the end of February (and winter)! The latest edition of our SEO newsletter provides recent articles focused on content optimization, local search, Google Analytics, and everything between.


Also, please note the deadlines that have been listed for dashboards, KPIs & reports.


To contribute to the newsletter next month, feel free to post articles on SLACK that you feel would be helpful for all Campaign Managers.


Based on the team pictures below, it looks like we've all had a pretty exciting month! The team in Burnaby recently went go karting, Toronto visited WVRST for gourmet sausages, and Montreal celebrated their birthdays with a delicious lunch.

SEO Team Deadlines & Reminders

Dashboard Deadline: Thurs. March 3

KPI Deadline: Thurs. March 3

Report Deadline: Mon. March 14

February Article Summaries

New Era of Search

Article contributed by: Whitney Wen


A changing era of search has become even more apparent in recent months. The below Hubspot article highlights 3 emerging trends in search which will continue to shape the SEO industry in 2016.


1) Mobile Search

Recent data has confirmed that approximately 60% of all internet searches takes place on mobile devices. But even more interesting is the increased time people are spending in apps. With 84% of mobile activity taking place in apps, the article poses the question - what does this mean for search engines? Rather than focusing our efforts strictly on in-browser Google searches, SEO professionals should start thinking outside the box towards in-app searches.


2) Social Search

Though often an underestimated source of search, Facebook experiences 1.5 billion daily searches, in comparison to Google which sees 3.5 billion searches per day. The article also explains that an increasing number of searches on social channels are focused on content rather than people alone. Social media has long been considered a powerful channel through which visitors will find content on websites, so it may be useful to begin building stronger connections with our fellow social campaign managers for cross-channel optimization.


3) Voice Search & Personal Assistants

The article also highlights the important role that voice-assisted search devices are playing in our lives as consumers. With an increased reliance on devices such as Siri and Smart Watches, mobile users now experience a diversified internet landscape. Search behaviour should also be considered with these changes. As SEO professionals, we should optimize for natural language, an expanded search window, and context.


For more detailed information, read the article below.

7 Traits That Will Make You Great at SEO

Article contributed by: Cameron Vader


A recent article published by Search Engine Land explores 7 traits that are common to SEO professionals who are passionate about the industry and successful at their jobs. These traits are particularly apparent with millennials who often seek to creatively expand their skills:


1) Collaborative - achieving positive results with SEO requires knowledge in many areas including technical SEO, content marketing, target audiences, web design, social media, and more. Effective SEO professionals will collaborate with others to expand their knowledge.


2) Hungry - never satisfied with the status quo and always working to better themselves with research, side projects, and learning from mistakes.


3) Agile - adapt to constant changes and develop innovative ideas when up against Google's algorithm and struggling results.


4) Reliable - willing to work hard, get things done on time, and stay consistent


5) Genuine - enthusiastic about their work and are willing to try new things, even if they fail, in order to learn something new and stay accountable.


6) Effective - results-oriented and understands the metrics that are important for effective SEO work


7) Dedicated - not only to their work, but also to their clients and to their team


Do you possess any of these traits? To learn more about each one, read the article below!

7 Ways Small Business can Leverage Apps in Local Search

Article contributed by: Amanda Milek


In this article, Search Engine Land delves into the possibility for SMBs to use popular apps to get in front of customers & increase their profitability. While it may not be worthwhile for SMBs to create apps of their own, there are ways that they can utilize pre-existing ones for the own gain.


1) Optimize for all Google Apps

Not only is Google Chrome the primary browser on most devices, but many people also have the Google Maps app on their phones. The article suggests that it is therefore very important to claim your GMB profile to increase your chances of appearing in local pack results and also impact search done through Siri. Furthermore, many SMBs should take advantage of YouTube, as it is the 2nd most used app and is also owned by Google.


2) Take Advantage of Facebook

The article confirms that Facebook is the most popular mobile app, and can therefore be used as a tool by SMBs to leverage relationships with customers and expand their reach. This idea reinforces how important it to build a cohesive strategy alongside the Social Campaign Manager on your client's account to boost both local search and community engagement.


3) Messaging Platforms

With Facebook specifically, almost all messaging between friends occurs through the messaging app. The article discusses that in the future, Facebook may begin to allow businesses to private message replies to comments posted on their company pages, and also use the app as a platform for advertising.


4) Directory Listing Apps

By providing an honourable shout out to Yellow Pages, Search Engine Land explains the true benefit for small businesses to be listed in local directories. On average, many consumers find information about SMBs through directory-type apps, so being present and optimizing for these areas will further increase the reach to potential customers.


5) Visual Discovery Apps

The article also goes on to discuss the importance of visual apps such as Instagram and Pinterest for local reach, which is especially useful for food and retail establishments who offer tangible and visual products. Recent changes in these platforms now allows SMBs to take advantage of targeting data for the purpose of advertising.


Finally, the article touches on a few other important areas such as the ability for apps to open the door to other marketing technologies, and ways to start optimizing for app-only content that may appear in Google. To learn more about the use of apps for SMBs and search visibility, read the full article below.

Test Your Knowledge - Local Search Quiz

Article contributed by: Ian MacLeod


Recently, MOZ has launched a fun, but challenging "Local Search Expert Quiz" which will test your knowledge on all things SEO. After 40 questions, the quiz provides you with a score which rates your abilities using the following scale:


0-14 Newbie: Time to study up on your citation data!
15-23 Beginner: Good job, but you're not quite in the 3-pack yet.

24-29 Intermediate: You're getting close to the centroid!

30-34 Pro: Let's tackle multi-location!

35-40 Guru: We all bow down to your local awesomeness.


After the quiz, MOZ also provides resources to help you brush up on your local SEO skills and expand the ones you already know. Are you brave enough to take the quiz?

SEO Optimization Strategies for Blogs

Article contributed by: Shannon Cross


Since blogging is such an integral part to an effective SEO strategy, the below article focuses on key strategies to improve a blog's search rankings and traffic.


Below are the writer's top 5 tips for improving search rankings via blogs:


1) Stop focusing solely on keywords

After rolling out the Hummingbird update which focuses on the context of keywords in content, Google now places a greater emphasis on the value your content provides to readers rather than the specific keywords it contains. While this does not mean you should stop including keywords altogether, it is important to integrate them in a natural way. If you focus solely on keyword stuffing, you may instead be hindering your SEO efforts.


2) Share your content on social media

If you haven't done so already, speak to the Social Campaign Manager on your client's account and develop a strategy for cross promotion. By creating shareable content that can be distributed across multiple social channels, you increase the value of your content and ultimately increase the potential for traffic and link building.


3) Quality vs. quantity links

Rather than focusing solely on gaining external links to your blogs from other websites, try to also focus on the quality of your internal linking. Push signals within your blog post to other relevant pages of your website to improve authority and rankings.


4) Promote your content to "earn" links

If the content being created for your client is inherently "valuable" to users, you are more likely to acquire links. The article suggests that developing a strong inbound marketing strategy will help you to earn links, especially if you have "shareable" content that addresses the needs of the audience.


5) And finally... optimize your website for mobile

Websites that are optimized for mobile will generally see greater traffic to their blog posts. If the content is optimized to be viewed on mobile, this also increases the likelihood that it will be shared and viewed more than once by the same individual.

5 Must-Use Google Analytics Strategies for SEO

Article contributed by: Nassim Bojji


When we think of SEO, we often think of KPIs such as rankings and traffic. But, reporting solely on these metrics may not always paint a complete picture of the successes seen in a long-term SEO strategy. A recent article in Entrepreneur discusses a few other key metrics which can be measured in Google Analytics.


1) View only organic search traffic

Many times clients will jump to the conclusion that if total website traffic is down, organic traffic must be the culprit. When we dig a little deeper, sometimes we may just discover that organic has increased, where as other channels have fluctuated. Filter to see just organic traffic when directly analyzing the efforts of your SEO campaign.


2) Assisted conversions report

The "Assisted Conversions Report" allows you to measure the quality of SEO traffic coming to a website. If you have conversions or goals set up in the account, you can dive deeper into a comparison of which channels drove the highest conversions and how much of an influence organic search had in this process.


3) Assign dollar values to organic traffic

If you are aware of the average cost per lead for your client, or if they sell tanigble products with set dollar values, it can be useful to add these in when setting up goals or conversions. Doing so allows you to compare the cost of keywords in an SEO campaign to those in an AdWords campaign, as well as the click-through rates associated with top performers.


4) Identify slow loading page times

Pages with slow load times can negatively influence not only keyword rankings, but also the overall user experience of the website. Identify these with the 'Site Speed" report in GA and discuss these pages with the website developer.


5) Create your own SEO dashboard

Google Analytics has many features that can be useful to display more granular data. In the platform, you have the capability to create a separate dashboard made up of widgets pulling individual reports into a single view. This can be downloaded into a PDF and sent for easy comparison.


The article below provides in-depth information on where to find these variables and how to generate reports from them.

Wikipedia Search Engine to Compete with Google?

Article contributed by: Shannon Cross


Since its launch in 1998, Google has seemingly been untouchable and continues to thrive. However, Google may eventually may be faced with competition. A recent article by Search Engine Land explains that Wikipedia was recently given a $250,000 grant to develop the "Knowledge Engine" project which would be created as a primary competitor against Google.


The purpose of the Knowledge Engine would be transparency, giving searchers the chance to create and curate information. The search engine would sift through material found on Wikipedia and display it to searchers. As well, its goal would be to further democratize the search landscape and create a search engine that does not serve commercial interests.


Only time will tell how successful this project will be, but it's important for SEO professionals to be aware of the possibility. How might this shift our view of search and the ways in which we optimize our clients' websites?

SEO 101 - Part 2

Contributed by: Chantal Desrochers


Below is a continuation of the answers to various industry-related questions that all SEO professionals should know how to answer. Chantal Desrochers discusses part 2 of the remaining topics below:


SEO 101 - PART 2


What would you do if you saw a client had a spike in 404 errors in the Google Search Console?


  • Investigate and manually check some of the URLs from the search console
  • Determine if there is a commonality between the URLs displaying the 404 errors
  • Determine if the pages were to be removed or redirected
  • If they need to be redirected, send a list along with the redirecting URLs to the web team to resolve


How would you test to see how Google can see content on a page?


  • Use Google Search Console's tool "Fetch as Google" - fetch and render


What would you do to get a page indexed quickly?


  • Add the page to the XML sitemap and ensure it has been submitted to Google Search Console
  • If not, submit the URL manually to Search Console & to Bing
  • Add page to the HTML site map & point internal links to that page
  • Update social profiles with the link


What is HTTPs & how do you switch to it? Why is it important for SEO?


  • HTTPs stands for "Secure HyperText Transfer Protocol" (secure version of HTTP)
  • Works with the protocol Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) which transports data safely
  • SEO Benefits Include - ranking advantage over non-https sites, security & privacy for user


What is different about getting a Google Local page ranked opposed to a normal HTML page?


  • A local page appears in the map listings (pulls info from the GMB page)
  • Generating [positive] reviews is important - Google reviews will only be displayed if there are at least 5 on the GMB page
  • Searcher location and intent is important


What are the manual penalties you can get in Google?


  • If you've been hit by a penalty, you will recieve a message in Search Console
  • Manual actions include: unnatural links to site, hacked site, thin content, user-generated spam, cloaking or sneaky redirects, hidden text or keyword stuffing, spammy structured markup


How do you configure a disavow file?


  • Disavow Tool allows you to tell Google not to consider certain links that point to your site
  • Be sure you are only removing links that were intentionally created to manipulate rankings (such as unnatural link farms)
  • Disavow at the domain level - if you disavow at the URL level, you could be missing other bad links coming from the domain
  • Create spreadsheet with links to disavow, in the format: 'domain:example.com'
  • Transfer the excel file to a .txt file & upload to the Disavow Tool


Answers to all questions will be sent in an email once they are completed. If anyone has anything to add or has questions about the info above, please contact Chantal Desrochers.