Effective Amazon SEO: What to know when shifting ad budgets to Amazon

Sources from the ad industry have shone a light on how fast Amazon ad budgets are growing. Reports from various media agencies show that brands have been moving up to 50 percent of their previous Google search spend to Amazon ads. With shifting budget comes the need for more intentional Amazon SEO.

A report by Jumpshot notes that what used to be Google’s share of product searches just three years ago is now Amazon’s and vice versa. The report says that by 2018, 54 percent of product searches began on Amazon compared to those that began on Google, at 46 percent. Granted, shoppers who found products through Amazon took relatively longer to make a purchase. Additionally, Google has a more diverse field for advertisers to play on — YouTube in particular.

Nonetheless, Amazon is proving to be a serious contender in the Google-dominated space. To marketers, this means the work is only beginning when it comes to optimizing product copy for Amazon’s algorithm, Amazon A9.

Amazon is being used for product discovery

This trend shows that Amazon is becoming a center for product discovery. On the other hand, Google is being used to validate the purchase. To understand the pricing, quality standards or brands, consumers still have to turn to Google.

According to Jumpshot, almost 90 percent of product views on Amazon result from search and not advertising, product aggregators or merchandising.

As a brand, now you know that most of your customers are searching for your product on Amazon right now. They don’t have time for banners and merchandising placements. They type in a product name, and within seconds, they have what they need. To be found on Amazon, you’ll have to understand Amazon SEO.

How to be found using Amazon SEO

Here’s how Amazon describes its search process:

Our work starts long before a customer types a query. We’ve been analyzing data, observing past traffic patterns, and indexing the text describing every product in our catalog before the customer has even decided to search. As soon as we see the first keystroke, we’re ready with instant suggestions and a comprehensive set of search results.

In simpler terms, Amazon’s algorithm considers the best selling products, those that have brought visitors back to the site and their relevance to the searcher’s intent.

Bringing it all together: You need product views to generate more views. Huh!

Understand Amazon’s ranking factors

If the goal is to be found by matching the buyer intent, then you just have to find the right keywords and sneak them in your product copy. Right? Sadly, that’s not the case.

Amazon’s A9 takes into account several factors, which may be a clue to how you can improve your ecommerce sales in 2019. According to Amazon, once relevance is established (through keywords), two main factors further influence product ranking:

– conversion rate and

– sales velocity.

Amazon goes on to explain that factors such as Best Sellers Rank (BSR) and customer reviews don’t count. However, you’ll find they do count, considering these are among the factors that increase conversion rate and sales velocity on the site. Remember, the more easily you can be found, the more views you can potentially gain, which should result in higher ranking.

The following is a list of factors impacting your ranking on Amazon.

Relevance

Relevance is used to describe how appropriate the product suggestion is to the context of the search. Generally, the searcher’s intent is manifested in the keywords they use.

Thus, a great way to establish relevance is to use relevant keywords in the product copy. This includes the product description, product features and specifications and brand number (for the more savvy customers).

Best sellers rank

Within the product listing, Amazon assigns a value that shows how well that product is selling compared to others within the same category. It’s called the Best Sellers Rank, and Amazon updates it every hour.

It’s an automatically updated value that can be useful to you as a marketer. You can use it to understand your competitors better. By constantly checking how competing products are performing, you can see whom you’re up against and what they’re doing right.

Customer reviews

While customer reviews may not directly influence A9, they can improve other areas that boost ranking.

As customers research your product category, they are likely to look for information in the reviews section. More than 90 percent of online shoppers read reviews before making a purchase. And 85 percent trust online reviews as much as they do personal recommendations, according to research by BrightLocal.

To get good reviews, ask your customers for them — once you deliver great customer service.

Customer satisfaction

A9 probably does not use customer satisfaction as a ranking factor, but actions of satisfied customers can help align your product with the intent of a future customer.

For instance, when a customer is satisfied and they come back to not just Amazon but your product page, it shows the site you’re generating traffic for them. This, as you’ve seen, is important to Amazon when ranking products like yours. If the customer buys from you again, your BSR goes up. If you have many customers doing this, your conversion rate increases; your BSR remains on top; and you generate significant traffic for Amazon.

Thus, customer satisfaction can influence Amazon ranking.

Conclusion

Amazon SEO doesn’t stop with optimizing your product copy so A9 can find the product. It’s about ranking on the first page of results because 70 percent of Amazon shoppers won’t explore beyond that.

To raise your position, you have to understand how Amazon ranks you. But you have to go deeper than the obvious. You have to know what influences A9. And this includes the product relevance determined by its copy, how frequently people buy your product compared to the products of your competitors, customer reviews and customer satisfaction.

The post Effective Amazon SEO: What to know when shifting ad budgets to Amazon appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

7 things that hurt your SEO rankings and how to fix them

The top listing in Google’s organic search results draws 33 percent of traffic while the second spot garners 18 percent, a study by online ad network Chitika confirms.

After that, it’s a fight to see who secures enough traffic, and of course, in this sort of scenario you need all the help you can get.

Being penalized by Google and experiencing a drop in SEO rankings is one of the worst things that can happen to a website. Now, fluctuations are par for the course, especially considering the rapidly evolving Google algorithms.

When your search rankings take a huge tumble, you need to adopt a proactive approach before your site gets lost organic search obscurity. And this “approach” involves fixing the seven cardinal SEO mistakes listed below:

  • Avoid keyword stuffing

  • Use the same keywords repeatedly? You might want to stop! Of course, if it is necessary for your content to make sense, then you’ve got no other choice. But if you seek to optimize your copy in this manner, then you’re in for a rude awakening.

    Not only does it discourage visitors from reading or interacting with your content but it signals the search engines that you’re attempting to outsmart their algorithms. And that is not something Google takes lightly.

    The above comic strip reimagines keyword stuffing as part of a normal conversation. See how many times the man uses “lunch,” “fine,” “talking funny,” and “mean” in the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th panels, respectively. If it’s THIS irritating in regular dialog, imagine how your readers would feel reading content like this.

    https://c1.staticflickr.com/1/724/21695308292_443d1a2570_b.jpg

    Use an online tool like Live Keyword Analysis or Addme.com to calculate the keyword density. Remove excess keywords to keep your density around 1.5 percent. Mention your keywords in the title, the description, your opening paragraph, and once or twice in the body of your content. Make sure it all sounds natural. That should do the trick and help you regain some of your lost SEO rankings.

  • Check your website speed

  • Almost half of the online users expect a web page to load within 2 seconds or less, and they abandon your website if it does not load in 3 seconds, revealed a survey by Akamai and Gomez.com. So, ensure quick load times for your website by leveraging browser caching, optimizing images, minifying codes, and activating resource compression. A

    chieve all this by using a free tool like PageSpeed Insights from Google to determine the current speed of your website. Also, look at the actionable recommendations offered by the tool to increase your load times.

    Source: CWC

  • Never buy links

  • Give your website enough time to become successful. Creating good content is hard work but it pays off in the end. Resort to shortcuts and you get penalized.

    One of these no-no shortcuts involves buying backlinks, especially from unreliable sources. As soon as Google finds out, they cut your rankings significantly. 22 percent of web admins still buy links without disclosure, according to a survey.

    So, the next time you spot an SEO ad promising hundreds of links along with a first page ranking for a ridiculously low price, ignore it. Links from social networking accounts and spammy, untrustworthy sites hurt your website. A few of these companies claim to protect you by creating a “link pyramid” or “link wheel” that point to an intermediary page.

    The truth is, these might work for some time, but as Google continues to evolve and deal more strictly with spam content, they will learn about this practice and shut you down.

  • Become mobile friendly

  • With Google prioritizing a mobile-first approach, make sure your website is mobile friendly. According to Google, 85 percent of all websites in mobile search results now adhere to the mobile-friendly label. Become a part of the trend and enjoy a smooth flow of traffic.

    Otherwise, if your site is not responsive and people are unable to view you on tablets and smartphones, then not only will your rankings suffer, but your customer inquiries and conversions will too. That’s because users will leave your website and visit one that actually fits this requirement.

    Use tools like Screenfly by Quicktools to check whether your site is responsive or not. If not, use another tool like Bmobilized to convert your existing pages.

    https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/f/f6/Wikipedia_%22Encyclopedia%22_article_on_a_large_Android_phone%2C_2015-04-16.jpg

  • Get rid of ads

  • Recent changes made to AdSense rules by Google indicate that stricter rules are going to be put in place for sites “with more advertising than publisher-provided content.” So, if you’ve been indulging in this practice, get ready to bid your SEO rankings goodbye.

    Ads prompt users to leave your website and impacts your experience metrics. Once your user experience metrics become critically low, it is usually a sign to Google that your website holds no value for your visitors. They will demote you over time.

    Plus, ads have led to the rise of ad blocking. In fact, a report by Adobe and PageFair concluded that the approximate loss of worldwide Internet revenue because of blocked advertising in 2015 was $21.8 billion. So, unless you want to be penalized without any payoff, all you need to do is get rid of the ads and your site will be fine.

  • Handle technical issues immediately

  • Technical problems like network outages, poor hosting, slow connectivity, and server downtime can affect your site rankings.

    If Google constantly abandons attempted crawls on your site, in due time, your SEO rankings will go down. Of course, short server outages don’t matter, but if it becomes a regular occurrence, then you need to look for a new host.

    Identify the problem first. This might not be easy, but it becomes quite obvious if your site goes down every 10 minutes. Or, use an online tool like Downforeveryoneorjustme to check whether your page is up or down. Determine if the problem lies with your host and not your Internet plan. You will find plenty of decent web hosting options, like Liquidweb.

  • Maintain the quality of your guest posts

  • Guest blogging can be a great tool for SEO and lead generation. Unfortunately, as of 2015, only 6 percent of bloggers published original content as guest posts. That’s a dismal number when you consider what an amazing way it is to give your website an edge against the competition.

    Use scraping tools like the one from Guestpost.com to conduct automatic scrapes of every website that accepts guest posts related to your keywords. However, when it comes to your own website, make sure you accept only high-quality guest posts.

    Feature fresh writers on your site and post original and relevant content that appeals to your audience. Also, make sure you maintain a balance between content produced from the site and content offered to your page in lieu of an author bio and a link.

    Source: https://cdn.searchenginejournal.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/09/low-quality-guest-post.png

    Final words

    If you want to survive the virtual world and stay relevant, then you need to focus on raising your SEO rankings. Follow the steps given above to help you fix bad SEO and regain your rankings.

    The post 7 things that hurt your SEO rankings and how to fix them appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Content Marketing 2019: Seven tips to improve your strategy

    Content marketing is changing. Here’s how to make sure that your content marketing strategy is still relevant in 2019.

    Marketing is changing. Traditional promotional methods are not as successful as they used to be. How can you make sure that your content marketing strategy is not staying behind?

    It’s the perfect time to start thinking ahead to adjust your plans for the next 12 months.

    Here are seven tips to get you thinking of what you need to improve in 2019.

    1. Get the basics right

    A good way to start the year is to review your existing strategy. Find the time to get together with your team to discuss all the things that worked well in 2018 and what needs to be improved in 2019.

    A closer look at your strategy can help you understand whether your plans are still relevant for the next 12 months. If you haven’t created a written content marketing strategy yet, then you can start drafting your plans to make it easier to communicate them across different teams.

    According to CMI’s recent report, only 39% of B2B marketers have a documented content marketing strategy. This means that a large number of marketers is still not able to prove how their plans are set to make a case about the value of content marketing to the rest of the company.

    The easiest way to revise your content marketing strategy once a year is to invest time in setting up a documented content marketing plan. Even a simple overview of your strategy can still be effective.

    2. Improve your distribution tactics

    Content distribution can be a key part of your content marketing strategy. It’s not enough to create good content if you cannot show it to the right audience. Distribution is changing and 2019 will encourage marketers to spend more time finding the right tactics to reach their target audience.

    Have a look at your data to discover your best acquisition channels and explore your audience’s habits when it comes to content consumption.

    Start by answering some of these questions:

    Which channels are the best performing acquisition channels?
    What’s the journey of our visitors to the site?
    What are the devices that our audience tends to consume content?
    What’s the best time to reach our audience?
    Which messaging works better to promote our content?
    What’s the ideal frequency in terms of content promotion?

    These questions can help you update your content marketing strategy to adjust to your audience’s needs. They can help you improve your tactics around content distribution to ensure that you stay as efficient as possible.

    3. Focus on your best performing channel

    Content marketing is changing. We’ve left behind the need of being on as many channels as possible.

    Now it’s time to explore your best-performing channels to use them more strategically. Find the channels that your target audience spends the most time on and craft a strategy to reach them.

    Use your learnings from 2018 and improve your success by using the right channels at the right time. Don’t be afraid to start using a channel that is not working for you.

    Just because all your competitors use e.g. Twitter, doesn’t mean that you should be on it if it doesn’t yield the desired results.

    We’re moving away from the time that we’ve added channels to our marketing mix simply because ‘everyone was on them’.

    Start 2019 with a more strategic approach to 2019 and use your energy to your best-performing channels.

    4. Narrow down your audience

    Content marketing is not necessarily about reaching as many people as possible. Even if you’re not aiming for a large-scale campaign to improve your awareness, you still have a target audience in mind.

    Modern marketing is not about shouting hoping that someone will listen to your message. It’s time to set more specific objectives and content tactics to increase the success of your promotion.

    Don’t be afraid to focus in a niche audience if this means that you can improve your engagement or conversion rate.

    In fact, niche marketing can be your key to success. It can prove that you really know your audience and you improve the chances of having a great ROI to your content marketing efforts.

    5. Don’t just create content for the sake of it

    It’s tempting to come up with new content ideas even on a daily basis. However, we’ve reached the stage that there’s too much content out there but not enough time to consume it.

    Right before creating your next piece of content, think of the objectives that you want to achieve from it.

    Does it fit into your content marketing goals?
    It is relevant for your target audience?
    Does it offer something new and useful to your audience?

    More marketers are increasing the time they’re spending on updating their older content instead of creating new one. It’s a good way to maintain a good SEO strategy while updating your best performing content.

    If you’ve created a very successful blog post earlier in 2018, you can review its relevance for 2019 and update it where necessary. This way you’re maintaining its good SEO performance, while you can add it to your new schedule of promoted content.

    Evergreen content still takes time to stay fresh and successful so treat it as part of your strategy instead of just creating new content that might hijack your past success.

    6. Allow time and budget for experimentation

    It’s great to use most of the time focusing on your best-performing channels, but it’s still useful to allow some time (and budget) to try out new ideas.

    Find the new emerging channels and promotion tactics that might be your next big parts of your strategy. There will definitely be good and bad lessons, but there may also be a big opportunity to stay ahead of the curve when it comes to emerging technologies.

    Whether it’s about spending more time on voice technology, AI, Snapchat or anything else that could be relevant for your target audience, it’s worth the effort to leave space for experimentation.

    7. Put your audience first

    The best way to ensure that your content marketing strategy stays successful for the next 12 months is to keep listening to your audience’s needs.

    If your target audience or your objectives changed over the last 12 months, then you need to reflect this changes on your content marketing strategy.

    Spend the time to dive deeper into your data to understand your audience’s behaviour and what they need from you.

    It’s easy to assume that we know as marketers what we want but sometimes we may end up being surprised. We may even notice that there’s a changing behaviour that we need to consider, whether it has to do with emerging technologies, new products or even new habits.

    Where should I start?

    The best way to get started is to go back to your content marketing tactics that you’ve used in 2018.

    Bring your team together to analyse your past campaigns, whether they’ve met your objectives and what you can improve in 2019.

    Find your best-performing channels and adjust your strategy towards spending more time on them.

    Don’t stop listening to your audience and always be flexible enough to address any changing habits.

    The post Content Marketing 2019: Seven tips to improve your strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Do your snippets make people click? Do’s and don’ts of metadata

    Every marketer or website owner knows what meta tags are, but not all of them realize the importance of these small pieces of code. Optimizing your meta title and description you improve such crucial things as click-through rate and the users’ first impression on your content quality. Although Google doesn’t use meta tags in its ranking algorithms, metadata has an indirect impact on your SERP.

    Read the article to find out:

    • The correlation between your snippets and your search ranking;
    • Common mistakes marketers make creating metadata;
    • Tips to follow when elaborating meta tags;
    • How to analyze your existing metadata.

    How meta tags influence your SERP

    Well, if search robots don’t pay much attention to your meta tags, why should you bother these pieces of code at all? You could quickly write some short title and description containing your main keywords to help search engines form your snippet, and that would be enough. Not at all. To make it clear, here is the chain of consequences which correct or incorrect meta title and description can cause:

    As you see, there’s a logical correlation between the metadata you provide and your rankings.

    So, it’s absolutely worth spending some time to elaborate your meta tags.

    Do’s when writing metadata

    The main purpose of creating meta tags is to describe the content of a page ranking in search results. The data you provide there should be:

    • Precise
    • Relevant
    • Catchy

    To make your snippets bring your website ranking a significant profit, they should meet specific requirements. There are two components of metadata you should always consider: title and description. I’ve circled out the tips you should follow when working at each of them.

    Title

    Title tags provide you with great opportunity to engage your potential customers and make them click through to your website. It’s worth to make sure whether they give a precise and accurate summary of your page content.

    Here are the basic requirements you should consider when creating title tags:

    • Should contain no more than 65 characters. Search engines cut too long lines. If you want people to see the whole title of your article, make sure its length lets them do it.
    • The most important data should fit the first 50 characters.
    • Place the keywords at the beginning. If you don’t attract users attention from the first words, what are the chances they’ll click through?
    • It should be readable and easy-to-understand.
    • If your brand is recognizable, place its name at the end.

    Here’s the way it should look in the code:

    What people see in the search results:

    Description

    • Should consist of around 160 characters. The discussion on the perfect length of a meta description seems to be everlasting. At the end of 2017 Google announced they would start showing around 300 characters in description snippets. These were quite significant numbers compared to the previous limits. But in five months, Google claimed they reduced the length to 150-170 characters again.
    • The high volume keywords should stay at the beginning.
    • Denote your competitive advantage. For instance, if you provide free delivery, write it in your description.
    • Call to action (CTA). Such invitations as ‘Find out more,’ ‘Buy now,’ ‘Read here,’ etc. will help you make people visit your page.
    • It should contain a short description of the message of your page content.
    • End it with a full stop or an exclamation mark.

    The meta description in the code:

    The same data in the search results:

    Don’ts when writing metadata

    Creating your perfect snippet, it’s essential not only to know the crucial requirements but also to be aware of what actions can ruin your ‘first impression’ thing.

    Title

    • Try not to use a keyword twice or more. Find the synonyms for your page to get ranked for as much search questions as possible.
    • Never create similar titles for several pages.
    • If your business is new and it’s not that recognizable, don’t mention your brand name.
    • Don’t copy your competitors’ titles.

    Description

    • It shouldn’t differ from the content too much. Google analyzes whether your meta description is relevant to the text of the page or not. If search robots decide you try to manipulate and make people click with your description, they’ll penalize your website.
    • Don’t make it too long. The best way to check how your snippet will look like is to enter your meta description into this service.
    • Don’t make it too short. Surprised? If your description contains less than 100 characters, Google can decide not to use it.

    For instance, this one’s length is about 61 characters:

    And here’s how the page snippet looks in search results:

    Search robots used the first sentences from the article instead of using way too short meta description of the page.

    • Don’t use the same description for several snippets. If you can’t create a unique meta description for every page of your website, leave description tag empty. In this case, search engines will use the first lines of your articles to form the snippets.
    • Don’t write it in capitals. IT’S IRRITATING, isn’t it?

    Evaluate whether your meta tags are well-optimized

    If you already provided metadata for your pages, it’s time to see whether you did your best or you should change anything.

    Firstly, look at your competitors’ snippets. Do they add some information your snippets miss? Check what your competitors focus on and think if it could help you improve your click through rate.

    Secondly, use SEO tools to analyze your meta title, body text, etc. according to the keywords you and your rivals use. For example, Serpstat Text analysis will help you create automated suggestions for optimizing meta tags and page texts. To conduct analysis, you should conduct clustering first of all: click on Create a project, input domain and a list of keywords you use on your website, choose a search engine and select Linkage strength. When the cluster is ready, click on Start text analysis. Here’s what you’ll see:

    The results will help you better understand how you can improve your metadata and correct existing mistakes.

    To sum up

    Some website owners may overlook meta tags importance knowing search engines don’t consider them ranking factors. But they forget that the quality of their snippets influences a lot their users’ experience. And that is, indeed, the ranking factor. So, make sure you follow the tips from the articles to fulfill users’ expectations and watch your SERP improving. If compacting all the tips in a few sentences, here is what you should always keep in mind:

    • Make people click through (CTA, competitive advantage, etc.).
    • Provide only relevant data about your page content.
    • Don’t overspam.
    • Elaborate its uniqueness.

    Inna Yatsyna is a Brand and Community Development Specialist at Serpstat.

    The post Do your snippets make people click? Do’s and don’ts of metadata appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    7 content marketing stats you need to know for 2019

    How is content marketing changing in 2019? What are the key trends you need to know for the next 12 months? Here are the most important stats to maintain a successful content marketing strategy.

    A content marketing strategy needs to be frequently evaluated to ensure that it’s still relevant. As we’re heading towards the end of 2018, it’s a good time to review your work from the past 11 months to find out what worked better and what needs to be improved.

    It’s easy to fall behind with all the emerging trends in technology. A good way to stay up-to-date is to follow CMI’s annual B2B Content Marketing Benchmarks, Budgets, and Trends—North America report.

    It’s the ninth year that the Content Marketing Institute surveys content marketers across the world about the top trends that have to do with strategy, planning, tools, proficiency, and everything that can help you improve your content marketing ideas.

    These are the top content marketing stats you need to know to keep your content marketing strategy up-to-date.

    70% of B2B content marketers say their organization’s content marketing is much/somewhat more successful compared with one year ago

    It’s interesting to see that more marketers see an increased success in their content marketing efforts. It’s an encouraging step that moves content marketing towards a more sophisticated and mature stage. As more marketers realize the potential of content marketing, more businesses will be convinced to increase their budget on content marketing campaigns. Thus, it is a very important step for marketers to see the benefits of content marketing so that they bring more team members on board.

    Moreover, according to the report, 93% of the most successful B2B content marketers reported that their organisation is extremely/very committed to content marketing. The focus on the most successful B2B marketers in some of the stats makes a case of the best practices that more marketers should follow to improve their strategies. In this case, there seems to be a connection between the stronger commitment and the success in a content marketing strategy. Once marketers get the buy-in from the seniors, commitment and success can be easier.

    39% of marketers have a documented content marketing strategy

    A documented content marketing strategy allows you to be more organized and efficient in your marketing team and it tends to be a good indicator of your organisation’s maturity level in marketing. However, although more marketers realize the potential of content marketing, only 39% of them have an actual documented strategy.

    It’s common to discuss your strategy and your objectives without finalizing them in a written form. This is not necessarily a wrong approach, but what we can learn from this report is that a documented strategy is more common among successful B2B marketers. In fact, 65% of the most successful content marketers have a documented strategy. Thus, the documentation of your strategy can be the first step towards an improved success in your content marketing efforts.

    Half of the respondents expect their content marketing budget to increase over the next 12 months

    There are many companies that have a solid content marketing budget over the past years but we should also keep in mind those who are just getting started. As content marketing evolves, there might be additional reasons to invest more time and money to your strategy.

    Whether it has to do with hiring, using new marketing technologies or trying out new channels, it is encouraging to see that more marketers are willing to increase their budget during 2019.

    When it comes to the allocation of the budget, content creation sees the biggest increase year-over-year.

    61% of B2B content marketers have increased their use of social media for content marketing purposes compared with one year ago

    Social media networks can be very helpful when distributing your content. That’s how it gains a more significant role in a content marketing strategy year-by-year. We seem to be moving away from the thinking that social media is mainly about vanity likes and followers embracing a holistic strategy that makes the most out of each channel.

    In fact, social media can nowadays be used across different objectives in your content marketing strategy, from awareness to lead generation and conversion.

    66% of B2B content marketers use paid methods to distribute content

    Paid advertising can help marketers expand the reach of their post. Organic promotion is not enough anymore and more marketers seem to acknowledge the benefits of boosting their distribution methods.

    Why are they using paid methods then?

    The most common objectives are to:

  • Attract a new audience (80%)
  • Generate traffic when organic search isn’t producing the desired results (65%)
  • Reach a niche audience (52%)
  • 74% of B2B content marketers say they’ve used or developed long-form content in the last 12 months

    Who said long-form content is dead? The constant discussion about our shortened attention span doesn’t seem to affect long-form content, at least not in every context.

    It’s very promising to see that a big number of marketers is still investing time in long-form content, whether it’s in written form or even video content of longer length. What’s important is to produce interesting, engaging, and relevant content for your audience without thinking of the ideal length based on others’ suggestions.

    49% of the respondents said that their organizations measure ROI for content marketing

    Almost half of the respondents are currently focusing on the measurement of their content marketing success. It might seem challenging to determine the content marketing ROI in a tangible way, but you can still focus on smaller objectives based on annual goals and specific campaigns to be more specific with your data.

    For example, according to CMI’s report, these are the most popular goals among marketers when it comes to content marketing in the past 12 months:

    • Awareness 81%
    • Educate audience 73%
    • Build credibility / trust 68%
    • Generate demand 68%
    • Nurture subscribers 58%

    What we can learn from these stats about content marketing in 2019

    It’s not easy to master content marketing as content demands increase and digital trends keep evolving. There are many challenges that marketers need to overcome.

    However, more marketers realize the big opportunity to meet different objectives through a successful content marketing strategy.

    As their budgets increase, there is also an encouraging approval coming from the teams beyond marketing who start acknowledging the potential power of content marketing.

    The key areas to consider about your next plans in content marketing have to do with

    • Your current strategy
    • Your maturity level and the ability to adapt to new technologies
    • Your budget
    • Your organisation’s ability to measure ROI
    • Your commitment to building a successful content marketing strategy

    A successful content marketing strategy may take time, but now is the right time to start thinking ahead.

    The post 7 content marketing stats you need to know for 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    How to optimize your local business for voice search

    Voice search is growing, a statement appearing time and time again throughout the web. It has fundamentally changed the way people search and it’s here to stay.

    With a simple command, users can conduct searches for information, products, services and local businesses.

    It’s such a hot topic that our Head of Search and Strategy Stuart Shaw spoke at one of the UK’s largest SEO conferences a few weeks ago to talk about the details of voice search and why it’s important for brands.

    While voice isn’t likely to surpass traditional search any time soon, it has spurred us to explore how local businesses can optimize, adjust their marketing strategies and understand the potential voice search could have on their bottom lines.

    The opportunity for local businesses

    To get information about a local service near to us, we pull out our phones and we search for it:

    • ‘Plumbing services near me’
    • ‘Local pizza delivery’
    • ‘What are the opening times for…’
    • ‘Is so and so open today?’ etc.

    In fact, a recent study by Brightlocal highlighted that 53% of people owning smart speakers such as Amazon’s Alexa & Google Home are performing searches like these for local businesses every day in the US:

    Putting that in context for the UK

    A recent YouGov study showed that people in the UK owning a smart speaker had doubled between Q3 2017 and Q1 2018 to 10% of the total population.

    A study by radiocentre predicted that this growth could reach as high as 40% by the end of 2018.

    Looking a little deeper, we could say that per household there is more than one occupant. In fact on average there’s actually 2.3 people per household, according to the most recent UK gov statistics:

    Source: Office of national statistics

    So, if the 40% of UK households prediction is correct, that is potentially 11 million households exposing voice search content to 25 million people in the UK.

    Who’s leading the smart speaker market?

    Three-quarters of the market share in the UK in Q1 2018 was taken up by Amazon’s Alexa. This, of course, will change but right now this is where the biggest opportunity lies for local businesses optimizing for smart speakers in the UK:

    Source: Office of national statistics

    Although voice search is still in a stage of infancy, and we have only talked about smart speakers, it’s clear to see just how relevant this technology is to brick and mortar businesses.

    And, it’s constantly evolving…

    Here’s a timeline from Stuart’s presentation, highlighting significant changes in voice search, and it’s becoming increasingly accessible for more and more people to conduct a voice search every day:

    3 Biggest steps to optimize your local business for voice search

    1. Take ownership of your digital footprint

    Although voice assistants seem all-knowing, they rely heavily on information they can find around the web about your business.

    A big part of optimizing for local SEO is ‘citations’ which are online references to your business name, address and phone number (NAP).

    Voice assistants use these citations from trusted sources to provide information to users that are conducting local search queries.

    So, where should I cite my business?

    Each voice assistant relies on different and sometimes multiple data aggregators for answers to local search queries:

    • Siri
      • Search: Google
      • Business listings: Apple maps
      • Reviews: Yelp
    • Alexa
      • Search: Bing
      • Business listings: Yelp and more recently Yext
      • Reviews: Yelp
    • Google Assistant
      • Search: Google
      • Business listings: Google my Business
      • Reviews: Google my Business
    • Cortana
      • Search: Bing
      • Business listings: Bing
      • Reviews: Yelp

    So, these data sources are the most important places to make sure your business is correctly cited, up-to-date and optimised:

    • Google My Business – Create a listing
    • Apple Maps – Create a listing
    • Bing – Create a listing
    • Yelp – Create a listing

    2. Utilize schema markup

    Schema is a type of on-page data markup that allows webmasters to provide search engines with data about their business in a more structured way.

    The structured format allows search engines to understand the contents and context of web pages much easier (less algorithmic interpretation) and, subsequently, the engines can better understand the relevance of pages to particular search queries and present richer results.

    Schema is only going to play a bigger part in ranking for rich results and featured snippets which are heavily used in for voice search content.

    What does schema markup do?

    Search engines experiment with how they display rich results all the time and by having your site marked up, you have the opportunity to be featured in new rich results.

    For example, Google experimented with a ‘prominent knowledge panel card’ shown on mobile devices which displays when users conduct a branded search for the business. In the knowledge card you can see ‘place actions’ such as ‘find a table’ or ‘book an appointment’ which would direct searchers into an appropriate webpage to conduct the action.

    These rich results went on to influence the structure of Google My Business which is now heavily used by local businesses. The point here is that the business websites shown in the example image below were ‘future proofed’ and optimal which qualified them for this rich result.

    In other words, as Gary Illyes – web trends analyst at Google puts it:

    “If you want your sites to appear in search features, implement structured data.”

    The biggest benefit and ‘thing it does’ is help Google understand relevance much more fluently. Another few quotes from Gary Illyes helps explain this:

    “Add structured data to your pages because, during indexing, we will be able to better understand what your site is about.”

    “And don’t just think about the structured data that we documented on developers.google.com. Think about any schema.org schema that you could use on your pages. It will help us understand your pages better, and indirectly… it leads to better ranks.”

    Why it’s important for local businesses

    Schema is a tool which search engines and subsequently voice assistants are using to paint a clearer picture of a business website’s central topic and the services the site can offer users.

    With structured data present, it is much more likely that your business (if relevant) will be identified as a good candidate for answering local voice search queries.

    Using local business schema will:

    • Future-proof your website for richer search features (which voice search content is heavily influenced by)
    • Reinforce your online digital footprint
    • Bolster relevancy signals & geographic accuracy
    • Help drive more conversions both online and offline
    • Indirectly help your website rank better (important for voice)

    So how do you take control?

    There are hundreds of schema types which can be utilised for hundreds of business and content types.

    There are also multiple ways of marking up schema in your page source code. By far the easiest is using JSON-LD. Using the example from above the marked up code looks something like this:

    The best way to get your code ready is to go to SchemaApp.com, follow the instructions or use this tutorial and locate the schema types that are most relevant to you and your business.

    Types of local business data that can be marked up:

    • Business name
    • Address
    • Phone number
    • Main email address
    • Business opening hours
    • Geo-location information (latitude and longitude)
    • Reviews
    • Company logo
    • Business description
    • Social profile links
    • Site name

    Bear in mind there are guidelines for usage summarized below:

    • ‘Data must not deceive or mislead experience for search users’
    • ‘Use only the most specific types and property names defined by schema.org’
    • ‘Marked-up content must be visible on the page where the script is added’

    See Google’s policies for structured data for more information.

    Once you’ve gone through SchemaApp, copy and paste the output code into relevant pages before your closing tag or, if it’s content specific schema (such as the review rating above), paste the code before the closing tag in the HTML of your page.

    Finally, check your mark up with this structured data testing tool which will highlight any errors once implemented.

    Note: Avoid using Google Tag Manager for this markup, apply the code natively where possible.

    3. Produce content relevant to voice search needs

    There are great ways of optimizing specifically for voice search using your on-site content.

    The simplest is to explore the realm of user intent and uncover the types of questions people may want answering, when it comes to your business.

    That doesn’t mean you need to create 1000s of pages that are optimized specifically for voice search terms. Instead, search engines such as Google pulls answers to voice queries directly from page content, even if it is a snippet that makes up a small section of the content.

    Work long tail queries into long-form content

    Conduct some long tail keyword research and look for questions people ask about your local business and work them into your content, where it is relevant to do so. I highly recommend Answer the Public to scale your efforts here.

    Here’s an example of what I mean.

    This is a query I searched recently that could be relevant to any local business:

    ‘Does tesco take american express?’

    Here’s what was shown at the top in a featured snippet (the content that will be read out if conducting a voice search with Google Home):

    And here’s the content that Google has pulled out from halfway down the page from choose.co.uk:

    FAQ pages can be perfect for voice search

    Written correctly, an FAQ page can serve voice search queries really effectively and if you struggle to work in your long tail optimisation into relevant pages, an FAQ page is a great way to get around it:

    • People use voice search conversationally, which you can naturally replicate on an FAQ page without the content appearing out of place
    • It appeals to long tail voice & traditional searches which widen your reach
    • Voice search often seeks concise information, under 30 words, which an FAQ page can clearly communicate
    • Creating a dedicated page specifically with this key information in mind could help with higher placement in SERPs for voice searches, which is vital for capturing that first click/interaction

    Conclusion

    However, you look at SEO, voice is the future and it’s growing exponentially and it’s being integrated into more and more of our everyday tech. Local business marketers should be making specific efforts to capitalize on voice search to maximize their online and offline conversion.

    The caveat here is not to let your standard SEO practice fall behind. Having a fully mobile responsive website, fast site speed and good quality local backlinks, among many other optimizations, are still, and will remain, vital for ranking in local search and will greatly impact your voice search efforts.

    Get a deeper dive to voice search or get help with your voice search strategy.

    The post How to optimize your local business for voice search appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    An updated look at Alpha-Beta in a world of close variants

    Google has recently updated exact match close variants; now implied words, paraphrase words and same-intent keywords are allowed to match to exact match keywords as close variants.

    This change gives advertisers less control over their exact match keywords and gives Google more control to appropriately match search query intent to similar keywords.

    For advertisers using (or planning to use) the Alpha-Beta structure for their accounts, there are a few considerations to be aware of with this update to exact match close variants.

    Background on Alpha-Beta

    The Alpha Beta structure breaks keywords into two different campaigns – Alpha and Beta. Alpha campaigns contain exact match keywords that are strong-performing search queries. Top-performing search queries can be determined by a few different metrics (conversions, impressions, clicks, etc.) depending on your business targets and goals. These Alpha keywords are placed into single keyword ad groups, which allows for keywords with hyper-targeted landing pages and ad copy. Single keyword ad groups allow the landing page and ad copy to be as relevant to a user’s search as possible, increasing the likelihood that a user will click on the ad. CPCs are typically lower with this structure as well because of the relevancy of the ad copy and landing page to a user’s search intent.

    Beta campaigns contain broad match modifier (BMM) keywords; these give advertisers more control than broad match keywords and are more inclusive than phrase match keywords. These Beta campaigns allow advertisers to mine for additional top-performing keywords. In order to continually identify top-performing search queries to promote to Alpha, you need to monitor Beta search queries on a recurring basis. It is also important to mine search query reports to eliminate poor-performing search queries that are not driving conversions or are irrelevant to your business.

    Once the Alpha-Beta campaign structure is established, ensure that exact match traffic is funneled to your Alpha campaigns, not Beta campaigns, by adding all Alpha keywords as exact match negatives to your Beta campaigns.

    This campaign structure allows advertisers to maintain control of: the search queries that appear on the SERP, the message delivered to consumers, treatment of top performers, and easy negation of underperforming or irrelevant queries.

    Close variant changes

    Google has made a few changes to exact match close variant targeting over the past few years. You might remember the change in March 2017 that allowed for exact match keywords to show for typos, plurals, and other close variants as long the meaning was similar. (Many advertisers experienced little impact from this change.) The most recent change, which occurred in late September, allowed for implied words, paraphrase words, and same-intent keywords to match to our exact match keywords as close variants, with the help of Google’s algorithm. Google’s stance was that the changes were released to be more inclusive of the constantly changing consumer search behavior; they’ve said that roughly 15% of searches seen every day are new.

    Impact on Alpha-Beta structure

    This change in close variant matching has impacted the way the Alpha-Beta structure is managed. There are two impacts that are important to consider: increases in spend on exact match keywords and poor exact match close variant matching.

    As Google starts to consider additional variants for exact match, I would expect to see traffic start to increase to Alpha campaigns. With no corresponding budget increases, Alpha campaigns could hit some restrictions, so be sure to keep an eye on campaign budgets in the upcoming months.

    It is now increasingly important to monitor close variant matching. The easiest way to monitor matching is to download a search query report and filter match type for exact match (close variant). You can also look into exact match keywords that are seeing significant increases in spend or traffic. If you experience that exact match variants are poorly matching, the solution is to add ad group negatives to control the funneling of these search queries. Note: Google’s algorithm might match search queries as exact match close variants even though that search query is built out as an exact match keyword. This is another circumstance where we would want to add ad group negatives to filter traffic to the most appropriate keywords.

    There could also be instances where Google is matching top performing search queries to your exact match keywords as close variants. If the intent of these search queries is significantly different from the keyword that it is matching to, breaking out those search queries as keywords will allow for more control of traffic and messaging. For example, you would not want to break out sweater and sweaters into different single keyword ad groups because the intent is the same, so you can deliver the same ad copy messaging and the same landing page. You would want to break out and add an ad group negative for “b2b internal payment,” which was an exact match variant for “b2b international payment” (hmmm). These keywords have a very different intent and should never be grouped together.

    In the new world of close variants, the Alpha-Beta structure still allows advertisers to maintain more control over search queries, landing pages, and messaging. But the latest update does impact some of the control over search queries matching to exact match keywords, making it more important to review search query reports regularly.

    The post An updated look at Alpha-Beta in a world of close variants appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways

    We invited Michael Akkerman, Global Head of Partners Program at Pinterest, to our NY office yesterday evening to speak on visual search.

    He talked about discovery over search, audience engagement over audience size, less time more well-spent over more total time spent, and social communities over social networks. It was an insightful, instructive, and *obviously* visual-heavy session.

    Here were some of the key takeaways / highlights.

    Pinterest is a visual discovery engine — discovery over search

    When people come to our platform, they’re trying to discover new pieces of information.

    Our Pinners are not looking to connect with friends or post at parties. They’re doing home renovations. They’re in the market for something. They want to go and actually discover something.

    Google is great for when I know what I want, but it’s really crappy when I don’t know how to articulate it. How do I describe a style I’ve only seen, a city I don’t know, a specific color?

    Like this:

    Or this:

    I know them when I see them.

    Pinterest is visual-first. We wanted it to be able to take images instead of words.

    Pinterest = possibilities

    What do I want to eat? What do I want to wear? How should I decorate my house? What’s my style? We help people understand their taste.

    Total numbers of pins: 23 billion food and drink. 18 billion home and garden. 8 billion beauty. 23 billion style. 4 billion travel.

    Are you in one of these categories? Your customers are on Pinterest.

    “Even if you think your brand’s content isn’t on Pinterest, your customers are probably already bringing it there. Seems like those are people you might want to go and chat with.”

    What keeps people from buying? They’re still trying to figure out what they want — they’re still discovering.

    For us, the camera is the new keyboard.

    Let the image be the SERP.

    Shop the look. Discover products inside an image.

    Personalization not as a feature, but rather the underpinning of the platform

    On Pinterest, we understand that every single person has different interests. We don’t want personalization as just a feature. We want it as the underpinnings of the entire platform.

    The way we’re doing it is we’re bringing what’s called the taste graph. The hipster guy from Williamsburg? His garden board doesn’t look like everyone else’s. My travel board? I want to go to Morocco. Not everyone does.

    When you interact on Pinterest, it feels like it knows you.

    What storytelling was on search versus what storytelling is on Pinterest. Driving people closer to an engaging experience.

    Audience engagement over audience size

    Content at scale:

    • 250 million monthly active users
    • 170 billion pins — 5x the library of congress every single day
    • 3 billion boards

    We have the largest human focus group in the world, curating content into boards.

    “We’re 250 million people, not 2 billion. It’s really looking at the intent. You’ll find platforms with much larger audiences, but they’re not there to engage. We’re a smaller audience size, but people are there with intent.”

    More time well-spent over total time spent

    The visual revolution. 50% of the brain is dedicated to understanding visual information.

    People retain 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do.

    At Pinterest, that “do” part is very interesting. We’re about time well-spent. We want you off the platform as soon as possible — we want you to solve your problem as quickly as possible.

    “When people use Pinterest, they feel positive. It’s about what you can build and achieve. Go make that recipe. Go build that birdhouse. Go nuts. Get off our platform as quickly as possible.”

    Purposeful communities over social networks

    We’re not a social network — but communities are naturally springing up all the time around given topics, images, ideas, and brands.

    Most people call Pinterest “my time.” Not about my social network.

    Ads within the context of purpose-based community versus in a social network

    1. Annoyance: “People use social media to share things about their lives with each other. And let’s face it, ads are annoying in that context.”

    2. Value: “With Google, you know the intent but not the person. With Facebook, you know everything about the person but less about the intent. I was drawn to Pinterest because it combines both.”

    Ads often don’t add value, and they feel disruptive, disjointed.

    Why not make them additive? If you’re searching for a certain type of shoes, we’ll show you ads for those shoes.

    “If the content is valuable, I don’t mind that it comes from a brand. It solves my problem.”

    How people shop: convenience and need over loyalty, bundles over individual items

    Example of REI: They saw that normal human beings shop in bundles. If they’re going camping, they don’t need ten jackets and ten tents. They need a bundle of assorted things. Thus, they started highlighting and bundling trending Pinterest products on their own site.

    Loyalty is elusive in today’s market

    Most purchases are driven by shopping, not by loyalty to a brand. People who switch from brand A to brand B do so because brand B was present the second they were looking for a product.

    Marketers like Pinterest because you can reach customers so early on in their buying journey

    Pinners start the Black Friday hunt in August.

    Most people start pinning, searching, saving 12 weeks before an event. That’s great for a marketer. You can drive interest incrementally over time.

    When someone is designing their perfect home, looking for the perfect bag, planning their next vacation — you should be there. They’re discovering your product.

    Agnostic cross-channel insight

    Last-touch vs multi-touch attribution, in pictures:

    “Last-touch attribution is like a shopkeeper looking out the door and seeing a bunch of customers lined up outside and saying “oh, if I had two more front doors, I’d have three times as many customers.” It doesn’t work that way.”

    You need to do multi-touch attribution. You’re trying to engage customers, build brand, drive sales. But that looks different in every channel.

    Kenshoo found that Facebook was undervalued by as much as 30%. We see the exact same thing on Pinterest right now.

    The full livestream is available on our @Sewatch twitter here as well as online here.

    The post Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Voice search and local SEO: How to get started?

    There were over a billion voice searches a month, as of January 2018 and 40% of those mobile searches had local intent. This strongly suggests that local SEO now requires optimizing for voice.

    The human brain is wired to love convenience. Voice search is enabling people to search with the help of their voice and search engines have become accurate enough to provide direct answers to their voice commands.

    As an SEO, how should you revamp your strategy in order to gain an edge over your competitors?

    In this guide, I’ll tell you what you can do to make your clients’ local business websites the superstars of voice search.

    Focus On Long-Tail And Localized Keywords

    Purely voice focused SEO requires you to research and find out long-tail keywords. More than 70% global searches, in fact, are for long tail keywords.

    Purely local SEO requires, of course, the localization of keywords by adding geographic indicators to them. Geo-local indicators include; Brooklyn espresso, 18th, and Broadway french fries.

    These two research strategies need to be integrated to get the best traction from voice and local SEO as a single channel. Here’s how you can do this:

    • Using any of your favorite keyword research tools:
      • Run queries for your website’s main keywords, appended with your business geographical indicator (city/region/country/etc.)
      • Find out a list of keywords three or more words long
      • Arrange them in decreasing order of search volume and increasing the order of competitiveness
      • Extract the top 100 (or 50) from both lists, and find out the ones common to both lists (means high search volume and low competition keywords)

    This, however, is a manually time-consuming method.

    • Use Google Autocomplete: This one’s much easier and quicker to execute. For starters, type in your local search query into Google’s search box, and wait. The trick here is to:
      • Either write your primary keyword only (and add the city name to suggested keywords later), or

    • Start with the city name followed by your primary keyword, if you also want more versions of city name based keywords

    • Use Google Related Search words: Check out the related searches keywords at the bottom of the search page.

    I would add all these long tail localized keywords into an Excel sheet, and then run them through a keyword research tool to identify the ones with the right balance of search volume and keyword difficulty.

    Latch On To The Micro Moments

    For a marketer, a micro-moment is a crucial fraction of the buyer’s pre-purchase journey. Hence, micro-moments need to be tapped correctly as these can nudge the buyer into purchasing from your business.

    At the core of each of these moments is a question. For a local business, all these questions can be translated into question-form keywords, which makes their content highly contextualized and valid as answers to these questions. Here’s an infographic to help you understand the micro-moments, and the questions that arise in the buyer’s mind at these moments.

    For instance, consider these questions for the four micro-moments:

    • I want to know: What are healthy breakfast choices?
    • I want to go: restaurants near me?
    • I want to do: how to decorate your bedroom?
    • I want to buy: best place to buy fresh vegetables

    I’ll tell you more on optimizing your local website to tap these micro-moments in the next section.

    Let Your Business Be The First To Answer

    Shoppers have questions before they buy; the brands that can answer the quickest will get their business. From a local + voice SEO perspective, this boils down to optimizing your local website for the queries that users will ask their mobile phones’ voice search assistants. To build a list of question form keywords, I recommend these two tools.

    • Keyword.io: Nothing better than this neat little tool to find question-form local keywords quickly. Just type in a generic keyword related to your business/brand/product, and choose the ‘questions’ button on the dashboard to filter down to question-form keywords.

    • Google Auto Suggest; Yes, it works for question keyword research too. Type in your local variation main keyword by adding a question word in front of it (see the example), and you’ll get important, related, and high search volume question form keywords.

    • Apart from these, you might also want to check out Answer The Public, a free tool that offers a visually enriching interface and dozens of question-form keywords related to your input keywords.

    Note: If entering local keywords such as ‘cheap cruise tickets in London’ does not return any question keywords, remove the local element, re-do your questions search, and add the local element to these questions on your own.

    Get The ‘Context’ Perfectly Right For Your Local Business Website

    To make your local business website get Google’s love for relevant voice searches, you need to communicate its context comprehensively. After all, Google doesn’t want to be embarrassed by showcasing irrelevant search results for voice queries. To make your local website’s context clear to Google’s algorithm, do this:

    • Claim your Google My Business listing, complete your profile, and categorize your business correctly.
    • Work towards building up your local business’ citations (also called NAP – name, address, and phone number) online.
    • Claim and complete your listings on the major business directories online.
    • Consult Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to identify the different content types you can markup.
    • Research LSI keywords and weave your web content around them, so that search algorithms are 100% certain that your website offers the right content to be shown in a voice search query
      • Use LSIGraph; a free and easy to use tool to generate contextual and topically related keywords
      • Key in your main local keyword, and extract the list of LSI keywords

    What to do with Long Tail, LSI, and Question Keywords?

    Now that you have a massive library of a long tail, LSI, and question keywords, all localized to your target geography, it’s time to bring out their SEO juice and use it to make your local business website super visible for voice searches. Here are the best practices to stick to:

    • Add all your keywords in an MS Excel (or equivalent) document.
    • Categorize your keywords; this is as simple as adding a generic tag in the column next to your keyword. I have taken a few examples from the ‘cheap cruise’ example.

    • Even if you have 500 keywords, this exercise won’t take more than a couple of hours, and you will have ample artillery to manage your voice + local SEO for several months to come.
    • Once done, sort them into the categories you assigned them, and ask your copywriters to create content, ensuring that:
      • The keywords are used in the page title, meta description tag, and image tags
      • Keywords are used naturally in the content
      • The page content is structured into short paragraphs with subheadings containing keywords

    Concluding Remarks

    The unsaid rule of digital marketing is – find your niche. The same can be extended to understand how voice search and local SEO’s overlapping nature can enable brands significantly improve their online visibility. Don’t wait, because your competitors are coming for you. Get started with the methods I’ve put together in this guide.

    The post Voice search and local SEO: How to get started? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

    Voice search and local SEO: How to get started?

    There were over a billion voice searches a month, as of January 2018 and 40% of those mobile searches had local intent. This strongly suggests that local SEO now requires optimizing for voice.

    The human brain is wired to love convenience. Voice search is enabling people to search with the help of their voice and search engines have become accurate enough to provide direct answers to their voice commands.

    As an SEO, how should you revamp your strategy in order to gain an edge over your competitors?

    In this guide, I’ll tell you what you can do to make your clients’ local business websites the superstars of voice search.

    Focus on long tail and localized keywords

    Purely voice focused SEO requires you to research and find out long-tail keywords. More than 70% global searches, in fact, are for long tail keywords.

    Purely local SEO requires, of course, the localization of keywords by adding geographic indicators to them. Geo-local indicators include; Brooklyn espresso, 18th, and Broadway french fries.

    These two research strategies need to be integrated to get the best traction from voice and local SEO as a single channel. Here’s how you can do this:

    • Using any of your favorite keyword research tools:
      • Run queries for your website’s main keywords, appended with your business geographical indicator (city/region/country/etc.)
      • Find out a list of keywords three or more words long
      • Arrange them in decreasing order of search volume and increasing the order of competitiveness
      • Extract the top 100 (or 50) from both lists, and find out the ones common to both lists (means high search volume and low competition keywords)

    This, however, is a manually time-consuming method.

    • Use Google Autocomplete: This one’s much easier and quicker to execute. For starters, type in your local search query into Google’s search box, and wait. The trick here is to:
      • Either write your primary keyword only (and add the city name to suggested keywords later), or
    • Start with the city name followed by your primary keyword, if you also want more versions of city name based keywords

    • Use Google Related Search words: Check out the related searches keywords at the bottom of the search page.

    I would add all these long tail localized keywords into an Excel sheet, and then run them through a keyword research tool to identify the ones with the right balance of search volume and keyword difficulty.

    Latch on to the micro moments

    For a marketer, a micro-moment is a crucial fraction of the buyer’s pre-purchase journey. Hence, micro-moments need to be tapped correctly as these can nudge the buyer into purchasing from your business.

    At the core of each of these moments is a question. For a local business, all these questions can be translated into question-form keywords, which makes their content highly contextualized and valid as answers to these questions. Here’s an infographic to help you understand the micro-moments, and the questions that arise in the buyer’s mind at these moments.

    For instance, consider these questions for the four micro-moments:

    • I want to know: What are healthy breakfast choices?
    • I want to go: restaurants near me?
    • I want to do: how to decorate your bedroom?
    • I want to buy: best place to buy fresh vegetables

    I’ll tell you more on optimizing your local website to tap these micro-moments in the next section.

    Let your business be the first to answer

    Shoppers have questions before they buy; the brands that can answer the quickest will get their business. From a local + voice SEO perspective, this boils down to optimizing your local website for the queries that users will ask their mobile phones’ voice search assistants. To build a list of question form keywords, I recommend these two tools.

    • KeywordTool.io: Nothing better than this neat little tool to find question-form local keywords quickly. Just type in a generic keyword related to your business/brand/product, and choose the ‘questions’ button on the dashboard to filter down to question-form keywords.

    • Google Auto Suggest; Yes, it works for question keyword research too. Type in your local variation main keyword by adding a question word in front of it (see the example), and you’ll get important, related, and high search volume question form keywords.

    • Apart from these, you might also want to check out Answer The Public, a free tool that offers a visually enriching interface and dozens of question-form keywords related to your input keywords.

    Note: If entering local keywords such as ‘cheap cruise tickets in London’ does not return any question keywords, remove the local element, re-do your questions search, and add the local element to these questions on your own.

    Get the “context” perfectly right for your local business website

    To make your local business website get Google’s love for relevant voice searches, you need to communicate its context comprehensively. After all, Google doesn’t want to be embarrassed by showcasing irrelevant search results for voice queries. To make your local website’s context clear to Google’s algorithm, do this:

    • Claim your Google My Business listing, complete your profile, and categorize your business correctly.
    • Work towards building up your local business’ citations (also called NAP – name, address, and phone number) online.
    • Claim and complete your listings on the major business directories online.
    • Consult Google’s Structured Data Markup Helper to identify the different content types you can markup.
    • Research LSI keywords and weave your web content around them, so that search algorithms are 100% certain that your website offers the right content to be shown in a voice search query
      • Use LSIGraph; a free and easy to use tool to generate contextual and topically related keywords
      • Key in your main local keyword, and extract the list of LSI keywords

    What to do with long tail, LSI, and question keywords?

    Now that you have a massive library of a long tail, LSI, and question keywords, all localized to your target geography, it’s time to bring out their SEO juice and use it to make your local business website super visible for voice searches. Here are the best practices to stick to:

    • Add all your keywords in an MS Excel (or equivalent) document.
    • Categorize your keywords; this is as simple as adding a generic tag in the column next to your keyword. I have taken a few examples from the ‘cheap cruise’ example.

    • Even if you have 500 keywords, this exercise won’t take more than a couple of hours, and you will have ample artillery to manage your voice + local SEO for several months to come.
    • Once done, sort them into the categories you assigned them, and ask your copywriters to create content, ensuring that:
      • The keywords are used in the page title, meta description tag, and image tags
      • Keywords are used naturally in the content
      • The page content is structured into short paragraphs with subheadings containing keywords

    Concluding remarks

    The unsaid rule of digital marketing is – find your niche. The same can be extended to understand how voice search and local SEO’s overlapping nature can enable brands significantly improve their online visibility. Don’t wait, because your competitors are coming for you. Get started with the methods I’ve put together in this guide.