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Vol. 3 - SEO Industry Trends & Team Updates

Thank you to everyone who contributed articles for our third team newsletter. It was not only a busy month for Google, but also for our campaigns (as usual!).

Across the country, each office enjoyed St. Patrick's Day celebrations, a long Easter weekend, many birthdays, and a few new additions to our team!

If you'd like to contribute next month, post your articles in Slack and share the knowledge with the team. The more we share, the better equipped we will all be to speak on our client calls, stay at the forefront of industry changes, and answer difficult questions.

Please note the deadlines that have been listed below for dashboards, KPIs & reports.

SEO Team Deadlines & Reminders

Dashboard Deadline: Tues. April 5th

KPI Deadline: Tues. April 5th

Report Deadline: Fri. April 15th

National Team Birthdays

Happy birthday to everyone who celebrated in March.

And for those celebrating in April... don't worry, we won't embarrass you too much!

Celebrated in MARCH

Nadeem - March 6

Anna - March 7

Shannon - March 13

Dylan - March 16

Amanda - March 16

Whitney - March 21

Upcoming in APRIL

Marilou - April 1

Chris - April 3

Chantal - April 12

March Article Summaries

New Google SERP Layout - Winners & Losers

Article contributed by: Shannon Cross

As we are all now aware, Google made a significant change to the way it displays paid search ads on desktop results in February. While these changes are not expected to have a significant negative impact on traffic to organic listings, it is evident that they are now below the fold and less visible to a searcher.

Search Engine Land explains the "winners" and the "losers" of this change in a recent article.

Winners: PPC Marketers

With the addition of one extra paid search ad in the top positions, it is expected that advertisers will experience a higher CTR if they show up here in comparison to previously being featured in the right sidebar. Even though this fourth position will be a bit more costly, it will be worth it to advertisers who are interested in an increased number of clicks. As well, all ads can now use call-out, sitelink, and location extensions which were previously only a benefit of top page ads. Product Listing Ads (PLAs) are also expected to see a benefit by attracting a higher CTR and larger share of paid clicks.

Losers: Organic Search

While we wouldn't necessarily consider organic search to be a "loser", there are definitely some things we should be aware of as Campaign Managers. The new "paid position #4" is the new organic position #1 which ultimately drives organic results below the fold of the results page. The article states that this should not be cause for alarm, as searchers are still likely to scroll. If you are able to fully take advantage of the local map listings and achieve strong rankings for your clients, you should not see much of an impact. To be proactive, consider enhancing your calls to action in the meta descriptions and make your title tags stand out above the competition.

Tired of GMB Phone Support? Try Twitter!

Article contributed by: Shannon Cross

Having recently come across this article and spoken to others in the industry who have used it, I found it would be beneficial to share a new alternative Google has provided for GMB support. If you are tired of receiving inconsistent or frustrating answers from Google's phone support, we now have the option to use Twitter to reach out to a strong and technically competent customer service team.

Both Dylan and I recently tried this method for our clients and found it to be successful. In order to use this feature, you should provide an explanation of your client's issue by private messaging @GoogleSmallBiz on Twitter. We received answers within the same day and were able to work out issues that previously seemed impossible through phone support. The individual who answered provided a recommendation over Twitter message, but then offered to escalate the issue to email if other steps were necessary.

For those who do not currently have Twitter, we will look into setting up an SEO team Twitter handle which can be used for this purpose... stay tuned!

Ways to Refresh a Stale SEO Campaign

Article contributed by: Melissa Vacchiano-Bourdon

While this may be especially true for SEO campaigns that have been running into year 2 and year 3, it is common for a campaign to become "stale" or outdated as the industry changes and your content strategy begins to wear thin. A recent Forbes article highlights 5 ways to breathe new life into a stagnant SEO campaign:

1. Incorporate a New Medium - rather than focusing solely on written content, consider varying the medium you use and incorporate well-optimized images, infographics and videos. These various forms will give you greater visibility and be more engaging to users on your site.

2. Rotate Your Keywords and Topics - failing to do so tends to be one of the most common causes of campaign stagnation. Try uncovering new topics related to your keywords or integrating new ones into your content that are related horizontally. This will not only help improve your visibility and rankings, but also engage your users and unveil new content opportunities.

3. Test New Authors - to liven up the voice in your content, consider using new authors or integrating guest writers and bloggers into your strategy. This will not only bring a new perspective to your content, but also open the opportunity for cross promotion, especially if you are able to build relationships with thought leaders in the industry.

4. Reallocate Your Social Priorities - rather than always using the same social platform to push your content, try switching it up and testing new avenues. By doing so, you have the potential to reach a new audience and generate discussions which could provide value to your future content strategy. Try also varying your posting times, frequencies, and the types of interactions you encourage.

5. Audit Your Navigation - though this may be a bigger undertaking than the other 4 strategies, it can breathe new life into your SEO campaign. Think from the perspective of a user and make adjustments to the navigation of your website. Making it easier for your users to find exactly what they're looking for will both improve your SEO standings and also encourage people to visit your site more frequently.

Calculating the Value of Organic Traffic

Article contributed by: Whitney Wen

As an SEO professional, it is almost guaranteed that you've had to explain or justify the value of a campaign to a client at least once. Often people believe that because the real driver of SEO is not necessarily conversions, but rather traffic, it has less value than a PPC campaign. However, a recent Search Engine Land article explains exactly how to calculate the value of organic traffic and break it down for a client.

Google Search Console's "Search Analytics" Report

This report allows you to see the top organic search queries that drove traffic to a website in a given 90 day period. Using this data, you will be able to understand non-brand queries that are valuable for your client, and discuss these details in more depth than what is available in a Google Analytics report.

Adding "Suggested CPC" to Non-Brand Clicks

The article provides step-by-step instructions on setting up a spreadsheet to calculate the average cost per month a client would have to pay to get top results for the same non-brand, organic keywords that you are optimizing for in the SEO campaign. This method is a great way to frame non-brand organic traffic and explain the value of a well-optimized site over the long-term.

16 SEO Experiments & Their Surprising Results

Article contributed by: Nassim Bojji

With over 200 ranking factors influencing our monthly SEO results, it is next to impossible to predict exactly how a given change on a client's website will impact your rankings and traffic. However, a recent article by SEO Sherpa suggests 16 experiments that can be used to test the impact of SEO strategies and influence how you develop future campaigns. See below for the findings of these 16 experiments:

1. Click-through Rate Affects Organic Rankings

2. The industry Got it Wrong: Mobilegeddon was Huge

3. Link Echoes: Backlinks Work Even After They Are Removed

4. You Can Rank with Duplicate Content

5. Number One is NOT the Top Spot

6. Using HTTPS May Actually Harm Your Ranking

7. Robots.txt NoIndex Doesn't (Always) Work

8. Exact Match Anchor Text Links Trump Non Anchor Match Links

9. Links to Other Websites can Lift Your Rankings

10. NoFollow Links Actually Increase Your Ranking

11. Links From Webpages with Thousands of Links Do Work

12. Image Links Work Really Well

13. Press Release Links Work

14. "First Link Bias" Was Proven

15. Influence of Anchor Text on Page Titles

16. Negative SEO: How You Can (But Shouldn't) Harm Your Competitors Rankings

Overall, it appears that the experiments yielded some interesting and unexpected results. Even though we think we understand the ins and outs of Google, we may not truly understand as much as we think! Read the article below for more in-depth information and the results of each experiment.

Calculating ROI For Local SEO Campaigns

Article contributed by: Nassim Bojji

When developing an SEO campaign, it's important to understand the possible return on investment (ROI) for a client if they generated leads and sales from a targeted keyword. The problem with this, however is that the answer will be different for every client depending on the vertical. A recent article by Main Street ROI provides a "Local SEO" formula that will help you to determine the true value of your campaign.

1. Understand the demand in your industry & how many people are searching for related keywords on Google (using Keyword Planner Tool)

2. Estimate approximately how many people will click on your website given your target position in the search engine

3. Determine a percentage of how many may become customers based on the number of people that will click your website

4. Estimate how much revenue you could generate (based on your understanding of an average customer value)

To calculate ROI = subtract monthly SEO costs from estimated monthly revenue, and then divide by the costs.

While this is considered to be a very rough estimate, it will allow you to ballpark the expected ROI and better justify the value of your long-term efforts over the course of a campaign.

Quick Wins During the SEO Waiting Game

Contributed by: Whitney Wen

A recent article by Search Engine Land provides insight into how you can generate "quick wins" to show value in your SEO campaign while waiting for your long-term initiatives to start gaining traction.

1. Featured Snippets

Optimizing for featured snippets opens the possibility that you will rank above the first organic listing in the "quick answer box" leading to increased organic traffic. To start, the article recommends using the Search Console to find keyword phrases that contain "how", "what" or "why".

To increase your chances of being featured in the quick answer box:

  • provide answer in bulleted format & specifically answer the question posed by the search query
  • add a video with transcription that answers the question on that page
  • add additional info that adds value for the reader

2. Optimize Existing Content

Because it is often easier to improve the rank of an existing page that has established authority, consider optimizing existing content while you wait for a new page to be added. To do this, check Google Analytics for pages that are viewed frequently, have high conversion rates, and pages which already rank on the first page (or close to it).

3. Improve Rank for Converting Pages

Similar to above, the article suggests finding pages that are converting fairly well and further optimize these. You can also use Search Console to find the keywords that are driving traffic to that page or use PPC campaigns to gather high-performing keywords & integrate them into your content.

4. Find Competing Content

For a quick win, you can also check your site for content that may be similar and make changes so that they are not competing. Similarly, you can work on your internal linking structure to push authority for keywords to relevant pages.

5. Fixing 404 Errors

Finally, the article recommends checking Search Console regularly for 404 errors. If you do notice issues, fix them with 301 redirects and build a custom 404 page.

Google Removes Spam From Google Analytics

Contributed by: Nassim Bojji

According to an article by the SEM Post, Google Analytics has recently started to automatically filter spam sites from referral traffic reports. While this doesn't appear to be the case all the time for all accounts, it seems that Google is testing the change. Unfortunately, the change does not apply to historical data, but future referral traffic is predicted to be filtered.

Having tested this on a few accounts, it doesn't look like the change has been rolled out completely, so it's important that we are still using our spam filter for reporting purposes and checking our referral traffic manually to ensure nothing is missed.

We will keep a close eye on this and provide an update if in fact Google Analytics does start filtering all spam referral traffic in upcoming months.

GMB Setup for Real Estate Offices & Agents

Contributed by: Shannon Cross

If you are currently managing an SEO campaign for a real estate agent or office, you likely understand the difficulty of setting up a GMB page that accurately reflects your client. This is especially true if the agent is located in a multi-agent office and identifies with the company, but also operates as an individual entity. What name do you include on the Google My Business page without running into duplicate naming issues?

An article by Standard Marketing provides some helpful tips to setting up a GMB page for real estate agents and offices:

1. Make sure that the office itself has a Google local agency page first

If your client works for a central real estate office, it's important that this company have its own separate GMB page using its brand name, local address, and general office phone number.

2. Set-up another Google local page as an individual agent

The next step would be to set up a GMB page for your client's personal brand. To avoid duplicate naming issues, avoid using the agency name as the key identifier in the page title. It is fine if the address is the same as the central office page, however the phone number and profile picture should be unique. Finally, you must link your page and website to your agency's page under the "about" section with links to confirm your association.