Vol. 5 - SEO Industry Trends & Team Updates
Thank you to everyone who contributed articles this month. We've gathered a lot of great insight into recent industry updates and optimization tips for our campaigns.
I'd also like to give a warm welcome to Annick, Olivier, Tyler and Tamara who have become a part of our SEO family within the past few months! We are excited to have you on our team.
Also, we'd like to extend a congratulations to a few team members who have taken on new positions this month. Chantal is off to pursue an exciting transition as Team Lead in the Burnaby office, and Ian and Cam have joined the DPP team. Congrats!
Finally, 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
KPI Deadline: Fri. June 3
Report Deadline: Wed. June 15
National Team Birthdays
Happy birthday to everyone who celebrated in April.
And for those celebrating in May... don't worry, we won't embarrass you too much!
Celebrated in MAY
Tatiana - May 12
Gerald - May 23
Upcoming in JUNE
Genevieve - June 9
Amrit - June 23
May Article Summaries
Proving the Value of SEO to Small Businesses
Making the case to small to medium sized businesses about the value of SEO can be challenging, especially when they invest a large sum of their marketing budget and expect to see instant results. However, a recent article by MOZ suggests a 5-step process to help you build a strong case and develop trust with your clients throughout a campaign.
Step 1: Show Search Queries with Obvious Intent
When going over results with a client, highlight terms that demonstrate visitor intent. If there are terms that you know your client would like to put a great emphasis on, try to speak about those first before moving on to more general ones. This will help to reassure the client and also facilitate greater trust if they realize you are keeping their best interests in mind.
Step 2: Highlight Search Volume and Competition
Part of the case you make to a client will include the relationship between search volume and competition for various terms. A high search volume will reassure clients that people are in fact looking for their services. You can also use this as a talking point to justify the "long term" approach of SEO due to competition level, but explain why it will be beneficial when you do finally achieve high placement for these terms.
Step 3: Start with Adwords & Shows Cost > Clicks Comparison
When you work out the cost per click for keywords in an AdWords campaign in comparison to those same terms for SEO, it is often a lot cheaper to invest in SEO. Making this case to a client is important, especially if you can break it down to expected ROI.
Step 4: Show the Process and Examples of Your Results
If you can show tangible results, achievements and pieces of content from your campaign, it will help to justify the SEO investment over the long term. Many of the concepts in SEO can be "behind the scenes" and abstract in the eyes of a client, so make an effort to show tangible examples of things like a verified GMB page, new content on a website, and analytics data.
Step 5: Listen to Objections & Concerns with Empathy
Always be open to listening to a client's concerns, remain calm, and provide explanations with data to support your campaign. It is important to always manage expectations, making it clear what a campaign involves and the types of results that should be expected at various stages.
The Reason Why Position #1 Doesn't Matter (as Much as you Think)
Article contributed by: Shannon Cross
It is widely known that a top spot in Google is ultimately going to drive more traffic to your website. However, a recent article by Search Engine Land explains why the #1 position is no longer as important as it used to be.
Featured Snippets/ Direct Answer Box
Websites now have the opportunity to rank in a "direct answer box" depending on the nature of the query and the structure of the content. Direct answer information is always displayed at the very top of a results page above the first organic listing. This content is not always pulled from the website ranking in the top spot for the query, but is instead pulled from the site with the best answer regardless of rank.
If you fully optimize your website, videos, and social channels, there is a possibility that you will be able to achieve better real estate on the search results page even if you are not ranking #1 in the regular organic listings.
To optimize content to increase the chances of it being pulled into a featured snippet, position your content in the form of an answer to a question. Search for related queries and make changes on your site as you see fit. Building an FAQ page is a great first step to achieving this. Note that snippets are typically found for informational queries only, and not transactional ones.
Boost Traffic With "Need to Know" SEO Tips
As search algorithms and SEO best practices continue to evolve, it is now more important than ever to understand both the basics and the new trends in the industry. A recent blog on CoSchedule provides a comprehensive guide to developing an SEO strategy, optimizing basics of a campaign, and measuring success over the long term.
Read the article below to learn:
1) 5 Tips on Conducting Keyword Research
2) Meta Tag Formatting Tips for Search Snippets
3) Writing Tips to Create Better SEO-Friendly Content
4) Image Optimization Techniques
5) Internal Linking Tips to Avoid Over-Optimization
6) Additional WordPress SEO Tips
7) Tips for Measuring Campaign Success
Google's Mobile-Friendly Algorithm Boost
In early May, Google officially rolled out its second version of the mobile-friendly update. The goal here is to boost the visibility of websites that are mobile friendly and offer better user experience over those sites that have not yet made the transition. The algorithm functions on a page-by-page signal, so it will take time for Google to assess each page of a website.
If you have any clients with third-party websites that are not mobile friendly, it would be worth assessing traffic and ranking data to see if you notice any changes. If you're not sure if your client's site is mobile friendly, you can run it through the "Google Mobile-Friendly Tool" for a complete report.
The update functions in real-time, so once a site migrates to a mobile friendly version, it will be recrawled and indexed to reflect these changes.
Prominence as New Local Search SEO Ranking Signal
Recently, Google has updated the factors it uses to rank businesses in the local listings. "Prominence" has been added as a new signal - meaning that the more well-known you are, the more likely your Google My Business page is to show up in the local pack.
Relevance refers to how well a local listing relates to a query someone is searching for in the local area. By fully optimizing your GMB page and adding detailed business information, Google will be able to better understand your business and which queries it is relevant for.
Google will take into account how close a searcher is from a business when choosing which results to display. The closer you are to a searcher, the more likely you are to show up.
Prominence is a little more complicated, and refers to how well-known a business is. It will be determined by information that Google has about a business across the web (including links, articles and directories). The search engine will count and score these items, factoring it into a local search ranking. Reviews and positive ratings also play a role here. This can be problematic though for small businesses that are trying to make their mark in the digital space, but have been around for a shorter period of time and are less popular in the offline world.
So what impact will this have on your campaigns? You may start to notice fewer "local" results showing up in your keyword rankings depending on the strength of your clients' brands.
9 Common Local SEO Myths, Dispelled
Believe it or not, it is possible that some of the things you believe about local SEO are not as they appear. A recent blog posted by MOZ breaks down the 9 most common local SEO myths and explains the real truth behind the madness.
1. Deleting your listing in GMB actually removes the listing from Google
You or your client may believe that in order to remove duplicate listings online, it is best to actually try to claim the duplicate listing and then delete it from the GMB dashboard. Unfortunately, doing this just makes the listing unverified and does not remove it completely - it will still exist on Google maps and may still rank.
2. Failure to claim your page means your business won't rank anywhere
The truth is that your GMB page may still show up and rank if you don't claim it. The "verification" status has very little impact on rankings, however it's important to still verify it to add updated information, images, and content to the page to improve your positioning.
3. "Professional/Practitioner" listings on Google are considered duplicates and can be removed
Google will often create listings for public-facing professionals in an office, however if the owner of a practice wants them removed, Google will only remove the listings in two circumstances. It must be proven that the professional is not public-facing OR the business only has one public-facing individual.
4. Posting on G+ helps improve your ranking
Unfortunately, your posts on Google + will not actually be seen unless someone clicks directly onto your page. These posts do not show up in the local pack and therefore are not a ranking factor. It is useful, however, to still stay active on your page to engage the users who do visit it.
5. "Maps SEO" is something that can be worked on separately from "Organic SEO"
This is not true, especially when your focus is on local SEO. The two cannot be separated because map listings go hand-in-hand with organic SEO.
6. Google employees are the highest authority on which ranking signals you should pay attention to
The article suggests that while Google employees can be helpful, we shouldn't necessarily take everything at face value. It's important to understand the ins and outs of the industry on your own first, since some of the feedback they provide for GMB may not necessarily be relevant for your client.
7. Setting a huge service area means you'll rank in all additional towns
The radius is strictly to demonstrate to customers how far a business is willing to drive to reach them and does not impact rankings. You will still only rank for the local area in which your business address is located.
8. When your business relocates, mark the listing for the old location as "permanently closed"
If your business is verified, all you need to do is update the address on your listing.
9. Google displays whatever is listed in your GMB dashboard
The data an owner inputs onto the page is just one of many sources Google pulls information from, so not everything may appear exactly as you have it in the dashboard.
Google Ad Updates that Affect Local Search
A recent article by Search Engine Land confirms that Google has been testing the display of PPC ads in the local three-pack in the main Google search results. If this is officially rolled out, it could have a significant impact for organic listings as it pushes them further down the page. It also may provide a benefit for those clients that are running SEM ads, as it provides a new way to achieve top result positioning.
These ads are placed in the local three-pack through an AdWords location extension, but advertisers will not have a pin displayed on the map like the other organic map listings.
Dangers, Opportunities & Risks for Linking on Your Site
Link building has long been a debated process for the SEO industry, especially in regards to best practices. In a recent blog, MOZ discusses the ins and outs of internal and external linking and presents the risks and opportunities of each.
Linking to External Sites & Pages
- Good external-pointing links can reward your perceived relevance and rankings
- Linking out can drive traffic and earn the notice of other site owners who are more likely to link to you
- Manipulative linking to low quality sites OR to good sites for non-editorial reasons can hurt your rankings
Linking to Internal Pages or Other Sites you Own
- The right internal links can have a significant positive impact on indexation & rankings
- Internal links that drive traffic and continue the visitor's journey, as well as those that provide useful reference info, are often the most helpful
- Internal links tend to have the largest impact on existing authoritative sites with crawl issues
- Manipulative internal links, especially stuffed in footers or in template areas that don't earn real clicks can harm rankings and cause penalties
Read the article below for a further discussion on each of these points.
New Title & Description Lengths for Google Search Results
Google has recently made a significant change to the lengths of titles and descriptions that display on the search results page. Below is a quick summary of the changes:
- Title tags have increased to 70-71 characters (which is up from 50-60 previously)
- Meta descriptions have increased by 100 characters per line & extends from two lines to three in some instances
Google is still truncating the descriptions to 2 lines for many results, so most will still come in at around 160 characters. For the results that do display at 3 lines, you will have 278 characters of room to explain what your page is about.
Note that these change is just in the test phase. Do not base your SEO strategy off of them, however it's important to be aware of the possibilities.
Performing a Manual Backlink Audit
Performing a back link audit on a site can be an effective way to diagnose any issues with the authority of your site and to look for opportunities. Below is a summary of the steps to take to perform a manual back link audit for your clients:
Use a backlink tool to pull data of the websites that are currently linking to you. Examples of tools can include Google Search Console, Majestic, Ahrefs, Moz, or Spyglass.
Conditioning Your Data
Develop a spreadsheet of all the backlinks where you can filter them into one list and remove known duplicates. You can then filter them through a tool with a free trial called "URL Profiler" which aggregates your data into an easy-to-read chart with useful data sets.
Performing the Backlink Audit
Sort the data by HTTP status, link status, and rel nofollow. This will help to cut down your data and ensure it more manageable to work with. Read the article below for in-depth instructions about what is involved for each of these steps.
Work With the Remaining Data
There are an infinite number of ways you can use the data you are left with, but below are a few key ones when trying to locate unnatural links:
- Sort by anchor text first, then URL - this will give you a solid picture of anchor text overuse.
- Sort by domains on IP first, then URL - this will give you an understanding of whether your backlink profile is part of a blackhat SEO strategy.
- Sort by site type first, then Majestic, Ahrefs or Moz scores - these scores will help you to determine the quality of the link
Guide to Screaming Frog
If you don't use it already, it is beneficial that you download Screaming Frog SEO Spider in order to perform technical SEO audits and understand the optimization opportunities on your site. For those of us that already use the tool, it is quite possible that we don't understand just how vast its capabilities really are. The below articles provides an in-depth guide to using Screaming Frog to learn almost anything about your site.
Below are a few examples of its capabilities.
- I want a list of all the pages on my site
- I want to find a list of domains that my client is currently redirecting to their money site
- I want to find all of the subdomains on a site and verify internal links
- I want to crawl a site hosted on an older server
- I want info about internal and external links on my site
- I want to find broken internal links on a page or site
- I am looking for internal linking opportunities
- I want to identify pages with thin content
- I want to find images that are missing alt text
- I want to find pages that have social sharing buttons
- I want to identify pages with lengthy page titles, meta descriptions or URLs
- I want to find duplicate page titles, meta descriptions or URLs
- I want to verify that my robots.txt file is functioning as desired
- I want to find or verify schema markup on my site
- I want to create an XML site map
- I want to find slow loading pages on my site
- I want to check if my site migration/redesign was successful
- I want to know which pages my competitors value most
- I want to know what anchor text my competitors are using for internal linking
- I want to know which meta keywords my competitors have added to their site