How to predict ROI for SEO fixes

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Digital marketers are under tremendous pressure at the moment to produce results with their marketing budgets. Gone are the days where a business just threw money at something and no care about the result. Instead we are in a world where every campaign needs evaluating to understand how it is performed against other marketing channels.

The first part of this article will help you understand how ROI is calculated. Then the second part looks at how to predict traffic. The final part will bring everything together to understand how predict what ROI will be achieved as a result of implementing an SEO fix.

What Is ROI and How To Calculate It

ROI is a metric used to measure how much was gained vs what effort was put in. It’s a metric that highlights which campaigns have performed best. Marketing & Digital Marketing managers want to be about to know if they spend X, then how much are they going to get in return 2X, 3X.

The formula for ROI is simple:

  • ROI = (Increase from Campaign – Cost of the Campaign) / Cost of Campaign
  • (£72,000 – £5,000) / £5,000 = £13.4

This means that for every £1 spent the client has earned £13.40.

How to Work Out ROI for Non-Transactional Websites

While working out the ROI of a website that sells online is reasonably simple to work out, doing the same for a website that relies on advertising revenue is difficult because we need to carry out a few calculations to use the ROI formula.

For example, if we were working on a campaign for an online magazine, which costs £2700 per month and this months, year on year there had an extra 89,122 sessions what’s the ROI?

What we need to do is first work out the revenue earnt. We use the CPM price which stands for Cost Per Thousand which is a marketing term used to denote the price of 1,000 advertisement impressions on one webpage.

In this example, we will assume that the site earns on average £35 per CPM with 3 different ads running on each page means that the revenue is around: £105 per CPM.

So now we have our CPM price we need to work out how many impressions or more commonly known as pageviews we have had. To do this we use the following formula:

  • (Sessions x Avg Pageviews Per Session) = Pageview

So, in our working example:

  • (89,122 x 1.55) = 138,139 pageviews

Now we understand how many pageviews we have achieved we can work out the amount of revenue using our CPM:

  • 1,381 x £105 = £145,005

So now we have the total revenue finger we can now using the formula to work out the ROI:

  • ROI = (Increase from Campaign – Cost of the Campaign) / Cost of Campaign
  • (£145,005 – £2,700) / £2,700 = £52.70

Which means for every £1 spent we earn an additional £52.70.

It’s worth considering that this calculation presumes that all the advertising slots are sold and it also doesn’t consider bulk purchase deals which is often happens with buying media placements.

Our data is only an example of how the calculation work however the more arcuate the data the more accurate the result.

Working Out Traffic Predictions

It’s now for the second part which is how to make traffic predictions. Now like any form of prediction it is just a prediction which means its highly likely to be wrong. However, the more predictions you make the better you will get. However, we are going to show you some quick technics to make sure you are as accurate as possible.

The first part of any traffic prediction is understanding where traffic will be heading in the next 12 months if you did nothing, i.e. natural growth.

Now there is so many days to do this, however I will share you just one way I do it, however you are free do use your own method.

To predict future traffic, I go to Google Analytics and I click on Acquisition > Campaigns > Organic Keywords.

Then change the date to display data for the last 18 months. Make sure you set the graph to display the metrics in months and not daily as it is set to by default. Export that xlsx file and open it up in excel. Once open select the third tab called “Dataset2” and carry out the following instructions.

In the first column lists the month and in the second column lists the amount of sessions.

The first thing we are going to work out is the month on month percentage increase. We can do this by selecting cell C3 and typing the following formula:

  • =(B3-B2)/B2

Then set the cell formatting to Percentage and we have now just worked out the month on month percentage increase, YAY.

If you pull that formula down it will then work it down for all months.

Next click in cell C1 and type the following:

  • =MEDIAN(C3:C17)

Which this will work out the median of all the month on month percentage increase.

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Next we will move down to work out the year on year percentage increase using the small amount of year on year data we have. (If you do have access to more than 18 months’ worth of data then that will allow for more accurate.)

Now select cell D14 and type the following formula:

  • =(B14-B2)/B2

This will work out the year on year percentage increase. Now pull that formula down in the same way as month on month.

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Then we need to work out the Median with the following formula:

  • =MEDIAN(D14:D17)

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So to recap where we are:

We have an excel spreadsheet with 18 months’ worth of sessions data. We have worked out what each month on month percentage increase is. Then we worked out what a few of the year on year figures look like. Finally, we have worked out what the Median figure is for both, month on month and, year on year figures.

Now what we need to do is take these new figures and apply them to past figures to then project over the next coming 6 months.

Now we need to apply the month on month Median to the final month’s data to see what next predicted month will be. So type in the following formula:

  • =(C17*C1)+B17

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This will give the first months projected traffic using the month on month increase. From that figure we can apply the median average increase in C23:

  • =(C22*C1)+C22

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Then for C24 to C27 we can pull down the formula. We now have a completed 6 month prediction based upon month on month growth of 9.79% which was the median growth rate for the previous 18 months.

Next we need to work predicted growth based upon year on year median of 162.01%.

To do this go to D22 and type the following Formula:

  • =(B6*$D$1)+B6

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The above formula takes the figures for November last year and adds 161.01% on top giving us a predicted figure for November data.

As with the month on month predications we can pull down the formula down. Now we have traffic predictions based upon year on year medium growth.

So now we’re left with two sets of traffic predictions. One based upon month on month growth and the other based upon year on year growth.

The final thing we need to do in B22 is to take the Median of both months on month and year on year to find the middle ground by doing the following formula:

  • =MEDIAN(C22:D22)

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Once again we can pull this formula down now for the following 5 months and that is now our traffic predictions for the coming 6 months. They should look something like the following:

  • November: 9677
  • December: 9580
  • January: 11204
  • February: 12025
  • March: 13205
  • April: 14381

Now we have successfully come up with some kind of traffic prediction that allows us to see potentially how much traffic we expect to see in the coming months providing we continue to see the same level of growth.

Keep Examples of other success

So we now understand what ROI is and how it is calculated. We also have learnt to make traffic predictions based upon consistent historical growth.

Next we need to understand how our recommended fixes with impact on future growth. This is probably the hardest part of the process is predicting how much more traffic you expect to gain as a result of implementing a fix.

One of the most arcuate ways of predicting impact is using past examples of successes whether that be for your own client or it is with third party sites. These come in handy when talking with stakeholders of what the expected outcome. They can be used to encourage others to support your recommendations. They can also work the other way as a way to discourage and idea.

All you need to do is take screenshots of Sistrix of what happens when X website does some large change like move a site from sub domain to sub directory. You can keep them in a folder, Dropbox or even on twitter if it makes sense. Try to keep the stuff organised because looking for a particular screenshot months or sometimes years afterwards can be difficult to find. Also, we would recommend recording the date in the title because then you know how to find the issues again.

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example-2

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The two key things to take from the entire exercise is these are proven examples, which always have more weight Plus they give you some kind of expectation should you implement the same test.

Keeping an example of changes achieves two things. First of all, its evidence to your stakeholders that it works and the second thing it does is gives you an accurate prediction.

Running Tests

Sometimes when you are making traffic predictions you do not have an example to hand. In which case we would recommend running a test.

What we mean by running a test, is taking a recommendation for example reducing the size of a header image and instead of just implementing it, just taking a couple of pages and running a test instead of applying the fix to all 250 product pages.

By running a test on a couple of pages we should be able to see the impact we will bring. For email after a month of running the image size test we can see that the two pages in a test have increase traffic by 11%. So in theory had we applied the test to the entire site we would expect to see a growth by 11% of traffic.

How to apply predictions to SEO fixes?

So to recap we have predicted traffic for the last 6 months based upon historical growth figures. We then have run a small test on a couple of service pages that saw an 11% growth in organic traffic to the service pages.

So now we have a 6 months of traffic prediction. So now we need to add another line of data that suggests what happens if we implement a fix.

An example of this might be that by adding a xml sitemap to a site increased organic which we expected to see a 10% uplift in traffic.

Now this fix will be implemented in February so we can now create a new graph that shows current predicted levels as well as how we feel the fix will impact on traffic.

Now you can see by the above graph we have two sets of data. The first in blue outlines what traffic we predict we will see at current growth levels. The orange line is the same traffic prediction however it also includes the impact that we expect to see when implementing a fix.

Not only does it allow us to clearly see how much extra traffic we are likely to see, it also shares the importance of implementing fixes sooner to gain maximum benefit.

Working out traffic predictions to SEO Fixes

So now we have traffic predictions for the next 6 months and we have traffic predictions for the amount of extra visitors we will receive as a result of our fixes we are now in a position on how much ROI that increase will bring us.

So the client that we did a traffic prediction is currently paying £5000 per month. To work out their ROI for the last months to do the following sums.

Now let’s work out what the ROI will be for our predicted 6 month’s worth of traffic. Then we can work how the ROI improves based upon out recommended fix.

Now for the purposes of these calculations we can tell you that the clients conversion rate is 2.89% along with an average order value of £50.

Now we need to find the correct figures to work out the following formula that was at the stop of the article:

  • ROI = (Increase from Campaign – Cost of the Campaign) / Cost of Campaign

Now the client was spending £3,000 a month so we know that the cost of the campaign over the 6 month period was £18,000.

Next what we need to work out is how much traffic did prediction say it would achieve.

Traffic Predictions with fix for next 6 months: 70,073 sessions

The we need to remove last year’s traffic: 18727 sessions.

So we now need to work out how much extra traffic they have received:

  • 70,073 – 18,727 = 51,346 Sessions

Next we need to times the amount of sessions by out conversation rate to understand how any sales were achieved extra

  • 51,346 * 0.0298 = 1484 sales

Now with an average order value of £50

  • £50 * 1484 = £74,194

Which means we can now calculate ROI:

  • (£74,194 – £18,000) / £18,000 = £3.12

Which means for every £1 spent the client earned back £3.12

What is also useful is working how much additional revenue our fix will bring in.

To do this you need to so the same calculations as above but with the traffic predictions data that include the fix traffic data.

  • 74,430 – 18,727 = 55,703 Sessions
  • 55,703 * 0.0298 = 1610 sales
  • £50 * 1610 = £80,491

So from the above calculations we can work out the ROI of the traffic predictions which include the improvements from our fix.

  • (£80,491 – £18,000) / £18,000 = £3.47

What is interesting is now we have these two sets of numbers we can say that if the client implements the recommended fix we predict that for three months after implementing the fix the site will earn an extra £6296 in revenue.

I believe any digital marketing manager will see how powerful this math is.

Being able to predict that revenue that could be returned will help on some many levels. For a target, it can highlight how you are going to hit revenue figures. The second thing is it allows developers time to understand if implementing a fix would take too long.

For example, we have predicted that implementing a fix will bring in an extra £6296 in revenue which sounds great however if the if the fix costs £7,000 to implement then it wouldn’t produce a positive return on investment.

Summary

Working out potential return on investments allows managers make better decisions by providing them with factual figures that give greater understanding of the risks and rewards.

With these predictions, you must bear in mind that these are just that… predictions and 9 times out of 10 they are going to be off or sometimes wrong altogether. The difference is its far easier to make decisions when you are presented with data compared to no data at all.

These figures are also useful to use when deciding on if an issue is cost effective to fix. For example, let’s say we believe that if a client implements an SEO fix and thus the client expects to see a £3000 uplift in revenue. However, if it costs £4000 to implement then it doesn’t provide a positive return on investment meaning it’s not worth doing.

Plus, the more time you spend predicting your sites traffic the better you will become which will then improve your success rate overall.

Richard Petersen is Search & data manager at Zazzle Media and a contributor to Search Engine Watch

11 Ways to Hack the LinkedIn Pulse Algorithm

LinkedIn Pulse algorithm isn't rocket science

Depending on how many connections you have, the posts you publish on LinkedIn can easily get anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousands views, on average.

But sometimes LinkedIn articles become unicorns – they can get 50,000, 100,000, or even millions of views.

Wish you could get that many views? You can!

Here are 11 hacks to help your content blast off like a rocket on LinkedIn Pulse.

1. Keep Your Titles Short

If your headline is too long, LinkedIn might truncate your title. That means people who are scrolling through the app or their newsfeeds will see only part of your headline.

Make your headline as concise as possible without neglecting

Why do you blog? You want your content to be discovered and read by as many people as possible, right?

But often your reach is limited. You’re limited by the size of your existing audience.

Every day, people are bombarded with more content than they will ever have time to read. Most people are both incredibly busy and have the attention span of a goldfish (guilty on both counts!).

So how do you make your content go further and make sure lots of people read your stuff?

Image via Reid Hoffman

LinkedIn Pulse can help you do just that.

What Is LinkedIn Pulse?

LinkedIn Pulse is LinkedIn’s version of a personalized newsfeed. It is also available as a standalone app. Pulse allows users to see the biggest headlines and read top industry news of the day.

According to recent figures, LinkedIn has more than 1 million publishers; more than 150,000 posts are published every week; and the average post reaches LinkedIn members in 21 industries and nine countries.

You’ll see a mix of curated content on LinkedIn Pulse:

  • Stories that people in your network and/or people in your industry have shared.
  • Trending stories from your extended network.
  • Posts from LinkedIn’s publishing platform – including “Editor’s Picks,” content written by influencers, publishers, and individuals.

We’ll focus on the third type of content for the remainder of this post.

Why You Should Use LinkedIn Pulse

You should publish posts on LinkedIn for the same reason you publish content on your own site as well as third-party publications and blogs like Medium.

Exposure.

If you’re going to invest time and money in creating content, you want it to be consumed.

By publishing content on LinkedIn, you’re increasing the odds that more people will discover and read your content.

However, finding success on LinkedIn Pulse, like any other channel, requires a strategy.

You’ll also have to put in the needed time and effort to make your investment worthwhile.

LinkedIn Pulse algorithm isn't rocket science

Depending on how many connections you have, the posts you publish on LinkedIn can easily get anywhere from a few hundred to a few thousands views, on average.

But sometimes LinkedIn articles become unicorns – they can get 50,000, 100,000, or even millions of views.

Wish you could get that many views? You can!

Here are 11 hacks to help your content blast off like a rocket on LinkedIn Pulse.

1. Keep Your Titles Short

If your headline is too long, LinkedIn might truncate your title. That means people who are scrolling through the app or their newsfeeds will see only part of your headline.

Make your headline as concise as possible without neglecting important headline elements that increase clicks – such as using the right keywords, an emotional hook, and a promise (i.e., telling readers what they’ll get out of reading your post).

2. Use an Eye-Catching Image

If your headline fails to do the trick, the second most important element that can persuade readers to click is your article image.

Definitely avoid using boring images in your content, such as:

  • Generic headshots.
  • Company logos.
  • Anything that will make a reader squint.
  • Anything that screams “I’m a stock photo!” We’ve seen them all a thousand times before – the highway signs (Opportunity Ahead; Innovation, Next Exit), the happy and diverse business team working around the computer, and the business handshake of trust, to name just a few.

Here’s a great example of an eye-catching image:

LinkedIn Pulse example of a great image about VR

Now that’s an image that stands out from the rest and makes we want to click!

3. Grow Your LinkedIn Connections

Every time you publish a post on LinkedIn, your connections will see an alert in their notifications.

But to really make ripples, you need a large audience of first-level connections.

For any of the stuff we’re talking about throughout this post to really work, you’ll need to make as many connections as you possibly can.

LinkedIn Pulse networking is essential

This means improving your LinkedIn profile (to sell yourself to potential connections) and expanding your LinkedIn network (this includes connecting to people you know as well as people you don’t yet know).

Here’s how to write the perfect LinkedIn connection request.

4. Publish Frequently

LinkedIn is a bit of a numbers game. You can’t just publish a post once every six months. That won’t help you.

I publish at least twice a week, usually on Tuesdays and Thursdays. You should probably only publish on weekdays during work hours – LinkedIn is a professional network, so not much happens after hours or on the weekends.

My whole LinkedIn Pulse strategy is powered 100 percent by republished and syndicated content. I’ve never once originated a single piece just for LinkedIn.

Don’t worry about duplicate content issues or the potential impact on organic search rankings if you pursue a content repurposing strategy. As long as you make it clear the article has been published before with a note that links to the original article, Google is good at figuring out which is the original source and which is the copy.

5. Get Featured on Channels

LinkedIn Pulse has more than 100 individual channels. Some of the most popular channels are for Leadership & Management, Big Ideas & Innovation, Technology, Entrepreneurship, and Social Media.

LinkedIn Pulse channels

Getting your posts featured in one of these channels is essential to success. Pulse exposes your content to a massive audience.

At most, you can have 25,000 connections on LinkedIn (though most people don’t come anywhere close to this number). But these Pulse channels have millions of followers.

If you want a post you’re writing to get featured in Social Media (and potentially be read by those 14 million channel followers), then spend some time looking at what types of stories get featured. Figure out what types of article you need to publish if you want a shot at being featured.

6. Do Some Old-School SEO

Content optimization is one super simple way to help get your content featured on a Pulse Channel.

LinkedIn Pulse SEO

To categorize your content, LinkedIn Pulse does an analysis of the text of your article.

This is like SEO tactics of the dark ages, when all you had to do was include your keyword in the title and use the right words a few times throughout the post.

7. Ask a Pulse Editor to Feature Your Story

Want to get a story featured on LinkedIn Pulse? Then you’ll have to tweet at them.

Yes, seriously, you’ll need to head to Twitter to get something featured on LinkedIn.

All you have to do is send a friendly tweet to @LinkedInPulse. Like so:

Tweet to LinkedIn Pulse

8. Give Your Post a Paid Boost

Although getting your post featured on a Channel is awesome, it isn’t enough. You need to help your post go red hot.

After your content gets attached to the channel, you need to quickly drive lots of traffic to it. This will help push your post to top of channel, as opposed to being just listed on the channel in fifth position (or wherever it ends up being shown).

You have to get to the top spot. How?

Spend a few bucks (no more than $50) on Facebook and Twitter promoted posts. This will help quickly drive lots of traffic to your LinkedIn post.

Facebook vs. Twitter Ads vs. LinkedIn Pulse

The LinkedIn Pulse algorithm will reward your content if your post generates a bunch of traffic and engagement within a few minutes.

The best part? You don’t have to pay to drive traffic for long. The social media ads will simply act as a catalyst.

Once your social media ads have helped your article get to the top, the traffic will be self-sustaining for a while as LinkedIn’s users go to their favorite Channel to see what’s trending.

9. Promote Your LinkedIn Page

Although you’re limited to having 25,000 connections on LinkedIn, there is no limit on how many followers you can have.

What you should do is promote your LinkedIn page from other pieces of content.

For example, are you linking to your LinkedIn profile from your Twitter profile? That’s just one way you can help amplify your LinkedIn presence.

larry kim linkedin

Think about it: you’re getting thousands of profile visits on Twitter every month. Even if only a small percentage of those click on the link to your LinkedIn profile, it increase the odds of further amplification on the network.

10. Repost Content

LinkedIn won’t penalize you for reusing the same content you’ve already published on their platform. There are no duplicate content filters.

If a post you published didn’t generate any engagement a few months ago, and you think it should have done much better, why not publish it again?

There are two things you should change, however: your title and image. Most likely, your old headline was too boring or your image wasn’t interesting. Now you know better!

11. Only Syndicate Your Unicorns

LinkedIn Pulse only syndicate your best content

Not every piece of content you write belongs on LinkedIn. So don’t syndicate everything – especially if you’re publishing more than two articles per week around the web.

Focus on your best stuff. Only use content that performed remarkably well elsewhere, whether it generated a lot of traffic for your blog or engagement on another social network.

Your best content has already proven itself on one platform. That means it has a higher probability of doing well on LinkedIn as well.

TL;DR

LinkedIn Pulse what does it all mean?

If you aren’t yet using LinkedIn as part of your content strategy, you definitely should. Use these 11 hacks to use the LinkedIn Pulse algorithm to your advantage and send your content into outer space.

By the way, one other platform that will help your content go further is Medium. The strategy for getting your content to trend is kind of the same for both places. However, one thing I like a little more about Medium is that it’s more of meritocracy – there are no anointed Influencers.

Have you tried LinkedIn Pulse yet? If not, what are you waiting for?!

This article was orginally published on the Wordstream blog and it’s repeated with permission

Google tests its own user ratings for movies

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Google has decided to experiment with user ratings for movies and TV shows. Is this a new permanent feature?

There seems to be an initial attempt from Google to introduce user ratings in its search results for movies and TV shows.

A selected sample of testers noticed a thumbs up and thumbs down sign on the special box that offers more details about a movie. This is a quick way for Google to build user ratings depending on its own audience.

Image: Techcrunch

According to the first images, the search results display a new percentage of user ratings, right next to IMDB and Rotten Tomatoes. The only difference from the other two sites is the system of rating, with Google relying on like and dislike and not an actual rating as a sign of preference.

For the time being this seems to be available only in the desktop version and it isn’t clear whether there is a plan to turn this into a permanent feature.

Even if Google hasn’t revealed its plans yet, it could be an interesting addition to its database which may even lead to further plans on building users’ reviews and gather more features on its own site.

Image: androidpolice

For example, the dedicated section for each movie could rely on users’ ratings to personalise the experience for each user, or even find a great way to connect user ratings with its own Google Play.

For the time being, we are waiting to hear from Google on its thoughts for the particular testing and whether we expect to see it globally anytime soon. Should we vote on that, too?

Mobile Reader Survey: Voting Now Open!

vote-now

With 677 entries from 343 companies across 27 categories, ClickZ and Search Engine Watch’s inaugural mobile reader survey has been compiled and is now open for voting!

Designed to reward technology vendors and agencies at the cutting edge of delivering mobile solutions, services, content and technology, the power is now in you, our reader’s hands to select the winners!

Voting rules:

  • You may only vote for one company in each category.
  • You may not be an active employee of the company that you are voting for.
  • If you do work for one of the companies, you are encouraged to promote the survey to your clients and network, but you may not vote for your own company. You are eligible to vote in any of the categories which do not feature your company.
  • We will be collecting basic information to be able to authenticate your entry against these rules. Please ensure that you use your business email address.
  • Voting will close on January 20th, 2017 and a Shortlist of the winners will be announced during the Mobile Content takeover on January 24th, 2017. Winners will be announced and published in an exclusive ‘State of Mobile Report’ which will go live on February 6th, 2017.

    For more information on how to get involved in our Mobile Content Takeover please contact sam.lawson@clickz.com.

    The categories:

    Data
    Best CRM or Data Management Platform
    Best Mobile Engagement Platform
    Best Mobile-first Marketing Automation Platform

    Agencies
    Best Overall Mobile Agency
    Best Mobile Agency (SMB)
    Best Mobile Search Agency

    Analytics
    Best Mobile Analytics Platform/Provider
    Best App Analytics Platform

    Attribution
    Best Cross Device Attribution Platform

    Apps
    Best App Developer

    Augmented Reality
    Best AR Solution (Delivery/Technology)
    Best AR Content Creation Agency/Firm (Content

    Virtual Reality
    Best VR Solution (Delivery/Technology)
    Best VR Content Creation Agency/Firm (Content)

    Location
    Best Location Data Provider
    Best Location-based Services (LBS) or Proximity Based Technology
    Best Mobile Ad Server
    Best In-App Mobile Advertising Solution
    Best Native Advertising Mobile Solution
    Best Mobile Video Advertising Platform

    Display
    Best Mobile Ad Network
    Best Supply Side Platform (SSP) /Exchange
    Best Demand Side Platform (DSP)

    Content
    Best Mobile Content Creation Firm/Agency

    M-Commerce
    Best Mobile Billing or Payments Provider

    Call Technology
    Best Mobile Click to Call Technology

    ⋆ Overall ⋆*
    Most Innovative Mobile Marketing Technology/Solution

    *This is the only category where the winner will be decided by our editorial team.

    How to use data to justify SEO fixes

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    SEO fixes tend to get pushed further down the development queue as their benefit is harder to put a number on. While you can usually put a definitive number on CRO or UX fixes, SEOs tend to fall into the trap of parroting back Google guidelines, or best practice recommendations, which quite frankly do not stand up to the scrutiny of hard and fast projections.

    What if I told you I could give you a process which can put a definitive number on the returns you would get from SEO fixes? At Zazzle Media, we lead all our recommendations with data. We ground this with keywords, but then pull all the information we can about our competitors to make informed decisions. We then use past, current and predicted keyword rankings for the affected pages and project traffic levels based upon estimated click through rates.

    Why Keywords?

    Why do we use keywords to estimate traffic levels when we already have traffic in Google Analytics? GA is not as clean a data set. You’re not going to get an improvement to your branded traffic levels so it will need to be excluded from your data set, and this is pretty much going to be guesswork. Seasonal traffic also need to be removed; while search volumes are subject to seasonal volume alike, we’re looking to measure the impact excluding these factors. A yearly average of search volume is sufficient for this. Stripping out seasonality from GA traffic is trickier.

    Keyword rankings exclude the white noise which affects Google Analytics, and allows us to sidestep the above tricky questions. Once completed you will be able to say:

    “The current average ranking position of the four affected pages is 5.4. Should we fix the issue it will affect 78 keywords in ranking positions, moving our average position across the pages to 4.2, which will equate to an additional 6428 clicks per year. For a full breakdown of the affected pages and keywords please see my report.” Now that is how to win an argument!

    Methodology

    To complete this task, you will need a complete list of keywords, search volumes and rankings. From there we’ve got a great little template which puts it all together and which you can download here.

    So to begin with you’ll need all the keywords you rank for. When I say all I mean all. You only get out what you put in and I cannot stress how critical it is to this task that you get every possible keyword you rank for. Here’s how I would do it. First I’d go into every rank tracking tool; SEMRush, AHrefs, Sistrix and others and export a full list of my domain’s keywords, ranking and search volumes.

    Don’t neglect the free tools! Google Search Console and the Adwords Keyword Planner are both invaluable additions which some of you will have to lean on more should you have a limited toolset.

    While the export feature in the GSCs Search Analytics report only allows up to 1000 rows at a time, you can get around this restriction with filters. Only select a single URL and pull an export. Make sure you’re keeping tracking of the URL in the export as you will need this later.

    Another way of getting a ton of free keywords is with the keyword planner report. Take full advantage of every report available here; product/service (your keywords), top landing pages and the multiply keyword combination report.
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    By this point you should have a monster set of keywords. Get them all into a single sheet and remove duplicates. Here you want to sense check your keywords for irrelevant/branded keywords which won’t be delivering any targeted traffic. Without a clean data set our analysis is pretty much useless so make sure you’re hot on this.

    You’ll need up to date rankings for every single one of your keywords – if you haven’t already get these you can use URL profilers simple serp scraper. You’ll also need search volumes which will be a bit of a pain if you haven’t got access to an active adwords account. I’m currently using the chrome bookmark Keywords Everywhere which is a good alternative.

    Once you’ve got all this it’s time to fire up our keyword template. Go straight to the Keywords and Rankings sheet and copy your keywords, search volumes, rankings and ranking URLs into the relevant columns. From here on in drag the formulas present in rows G through to K down to the bottom of your keyword set and you should have something resembling the following:

    3

    I’ve hidden the categorisation tabs here as we don’t need it initially. This template is a great strategy tool with a large range of uses, but as we’re only concerned with traffic by URL for this task most of it isn’t required. If you would like to look into the other uses for this template you can read up on it at our blog.

    Okay – now to explain what’s going on. The estimated traffic column will multiply the search volume by the relative position’s click-through rate (estimated CTRs are available in the CTR Ref sheet). So for example, if you were in position one for 1,000 searches a month keyword, you’d capture 26% of the searches which would equal 260 clicks per month.

    The maximum traffic column simply multiplies the search volume by position one’s CTR to give you the total traffic you could ever capture for the associated keyword.

    The incremental traffic column takes the current traffic away from the total traffic to give you an estimate on how much traffic is available for your keyword to capture should your rankings increase.

    Position range and opportunity group pull in from their relative position on the CTR Ref sheet. We will come back to these later.

    So the easiest way to sort through all this data is through a pivot table. Highlight all the columns, then insert a pivot table into a new sheet and use the following setup:

    4

    Sort your rows by URL and then keyword. This allows us to see a breakdown of the total performance of each of your URLs, while expanding the field can show individual keyword performance.

    Columns are sorted by values. We can now see the average position of your URL, amount of keywords the URL ranks for, the total traffic going into this page and the total incremental traffic available.

    It is important to filter your pivot table by opportunity group and exclude long terms and no ranking keywords. This allows you to only see keywords which are currently giving you traffic, making the incremental metric as relevant as possible as it won’t be skewed by keywords we have no chance to rank well for.

    Finally, sort your URL by estimated traffic and you will be left with something like this:

    5

    I just ran a quick export of search engine watch’s keywords. You can see that I didn’t exclude any branded or irrelevant keywords straight away. Apparently SEW are getting a ton of traffic from the term Duck Duck Go. I don’t think so! Do you think they get traffic for the term Search Engine Land? That one is up for debate. I personally would go into GSC’s Search Analytics report for guidance here; if it shows up high on the list keep it in. Here is is updated pivot table which looks more accurate:

    6

    Now, you’ve got all the tools you need to build a business case. Technical fixes you’re chasing will broadly fall into two categories, proactive and reactive. You’ll need to use the tool differently in each instances so I will run through a few examples below.

    Example 1

    We’re going to use proteinworld.com as the example here. Let’s say we don’t think our internal linking is optimised for search. Key pages are several clicks from the homepage and we want to improve this but don’t know where to begin.

    We begin as we always should, by following the above methodology. This allows us to benchmarking our current performance; we end up with an ordered list of amount of available growth by keywords which are already ranking well. This is our foundation.

    I would then do a screaming frog crawl of the site and get the clicks from homepage metric. Add these onto the end of the Keywords and Rankings sheet and update your pivot table to include your results. We now have a table which looks like this:

    7

    Here we can see straight away, the top page isn’t even the homepage. It’s a whey protein product page which is three clicks from the homepage. In fact, only two (three with the homepage) out of the top ten pages are in the main navigation! We’ve now identified a significant opportunity to improve the visibility of multiple pages on site.

    We now need to work through them individually to analyse how much growth we can achieve. We can’t predict a positional increase without understanding what we are up against. We need to compile our competitors’ rankings, technical implementation and website authority, then we need to find a competitor with similar metrics to us, just who have better internal linking. The difference in traffic should be a projected traffic increase; simple right?

    I actually just started again with a fresh spreadsheet at this point, but I just like to have things clean. So I took every keyword which the whey protein page ranked for, I pulled off every ranking URL and their relative position and added it to my new spreadsheet. I quickly identified the top sites by estimated traffic and number of keywords ranking for and ran all the top sites through screaming frog to get the clicks from homepage metrics. Finally, I ran my domains through URL profiler to get their trust flow (Ahref’s domain rating is just as good metric for this).

    The theory here is that, while you can build links to improve your site’s authority, the overall authority is relatively out of your control. Replicating a fix to move your site in line with Amazon technically is not going to elevate your rankings to their level if your domain’s authority sucks.

    Here are my results, rows are ordered by domain and sorted by count of keywords:

    8

    As I have sorted columns by domain and then URL, expanding the sections allow me to see exactly where this traffic is coming from:

    9

    We can go one step further and see which keywords are driving the traffic:

    10

    They’re absolutely killing it on the head term. P.5 on the term whey protein with a product page, with lower authority metrics. How are they doing it? Surely it can’t be just the internal linking? Of course it’s not.

    If you take a look, their on-page content is awesome:

    http://www.theproteinworks.com/whey-protein-80-concentrate

    11

    They’ve got star ratings, reviews and an absolutely awesome FAQ content section at the bottom of the page:

    12

    This is great news for us though, as it is something we can go out and do a lot quicker than say, boosting your trust flow by 30 points. Reviews might need development time… if only you have a business case for that.

    All we have to do is go to our pivot table. Grab our current traffic estimates and our competitors’ estimates, and then pull off affected URLs. So in this instance:

    https://www.proteinworld.com/whey-protein-isolate.html

    • Average Position 11
    • Estimated Clicks Per Month: 416
    • Keywords we expect to see an increase on:
    • iso whey protein
    • isolate protein
    • isolate whey protein

    (etc).

    • Projected Position 6
    • Projected Clicks Per Month: 2623
    • Projected Increase in Clicks Per Month: 2207

    We then just repeat the process for every affected URL which we believe is under-optimised. This basic process applies to any proactive fix you want to push through:

  • Identify affected pages
  • Estimate improvements to rankings based upon competitor implementation and link metrics
  • Project traffic increases based upon estimate rankings improvements.
  • Example 2

    Reactive fixes are a lot easier to project; the most important part of the exercise is to regularly run rankings, especially before and after technical fixes are deployed. Let’s say, for example, that your site does a redesign and despite your wishes, the new category template moves the main body of content below the fold.

    In the template just duplicate your positional and estimated traffic volumes, and add in a new column which takes the new estimated traffic from the old.

    13

    Jump into the pivot table and update it, comparing your affected URLs pre and post launch traffic and build a business case from this. Here is an example of what this might look like:

    14

    We’ve got the average positions and lost traffic all laid out for you. If you sort the pivot rows by URL and then keyword you can highlight exactly where you have lost traffic at the click of a button.

    A weak argument which parrots Google guidelines and best practices is unconvincing, especially to the uninitiated to SEO. We can all understand data, we can all understand competitor intelligence. Using this approach wins arguments and silences doubters.

    Failure to justify your recommendations can see even the best recommendations fail to get off the ground.

    Tom is a Search and Data Consultant at Zazzle Media and a contributor to Search Engine Watch

    Workplace by Facebook: a reality check

    Internal social tools are fantastic for business. They break down barriers, build connections,and make it easier for employees to collaborate across distances, functions and hierarchies.

    As the name suggests, they make work more social, too. But, there’s been an excessive amount of one-sided conversation around Workplace by Facebook recently, generated by those who perhaps don’t understand the company communications landscape as well as they should.

    So does Workplace by Facebook live up to the hype? Some words of caution:

    Beware of “shiny new object” syndrome

    Let’s not be too distracted by shiny new things. Instead, let’s focus on the basics of communication. Communications tools are the tools; not the strategy. Communication channels are the channels; not the message. How we apply them, and what we use them for, is what counts.

    The key is to understand the pros and cons of each tool and channel, and when to use them. This means taking into account employee audience demographics, their likely mind-sets, and business objectives.

    We also need to remember that important messages need to be repeated multiple times, using multiple channels and tools in order to incite understanding, attitude shift, and/or behavior change.

    Just another internal social platform?

    When we move beyond the “shiny new object” aura, Workplace by Facebook is just another social platform to consider. Don’t forget alternatives such as Jive, Slack, Microsoft Teams, IBM Jam, and the many other available options. These are all effective employee-to-employee collaboration and social tools, with their own strengths and weakness.

    Workplace by Facebook’s biggest value seems to be that user uptake is greater than others because people are already familiar with the platform. After all, Facebook boasts nearly 1.8 billion active monthly users, making it the most widely used social network in the world.

    But this represents its own set of issues…

    The Facebook effect

    Facebook has recently experienced significant problems with perception. Its reputation has been sullied by instances of members’ privacy being exploited and users perpetuating fake news reports. It appears that Workplace by Facebook’s security standards are adequate for enterprise SaaS platforms, but these general platform perception issues are causing users—especially older users—to lose faith. Consequently, this cohort may be reluctant to participate in the platform.

    Using a platform owned by Facebook for company communications also forces employees to consider how they should balance their business and social styles. People communicate informally through their personal social networks, liberally using profanity, complaining about their work or people they know, and sharing their hearty opinions on social and political issues. This online style will need to be tempered to be acceptable in a professional environment.

    Similarly, it’s fairly common to find yourself in a Facebook hole, losing 30 minutes (or worse) to interesting, but useless posts. This will happen in the workplace, too, creating noise and distraction.

    In an effort to make messaging more targeted, Workplace by Facebook has specialized algorithms to allow highlights from different groups to be shown to employees. However, it’s not perfect and tends to focus on things that employees already like or know.

    Workplace by Facebook also does not allow employees to choose who can follow them or see their posts. Employees may be concerned about what they post, so therefore opt to post nothing to avoid the risk of being judged or discriminated against.

    100% coverage will never be possible

    Remember MySpace? The rise and fall of this early social platform all came down to usage.

    In the consumer space, only one site could win. There’s a reason why Facebook buys its competitors (i.e., Instagram). Who wants to participate in a social platform if your friends aren’t there?

    As with all communication channels, one size does not fit all. Some people will use it to excess; others will never use it, especially if important colleagues are not there.

    It’s not an email killer

    Can email ever really be replaced by a social platform, when that platform doesn’t have 100% uptake and constant usage (like email currently has)? A platform that requires busy, already distracted employees to actively seek it out is at risk of falling into the “out of sight out of mind” trap. Perhaps Workplace by Facebook will ultimately resort to email notifications, but then that will add to the tsunami of internal email.

    In summation, Workplace by Facebook does offer some employees a great way to exchange ideas, collaborate and build connections, similar to other enterprise social platforms already available. It could be a good fit for organizations that already have a social culture (i.e., start-ups and small companies). And it could be effective with mobile and casual workers in transient sectors such as retail and hospitality.

    But for large enterprises with a remit to get every employee’s attention, Workplace by Facebook, I’m afraid, is not the cure all.

    Sarah Perry is CEO of SnapComms, an award-winning company that develops employee communications software that bypasses e-mail to put important messages in front of employees on any device, anywhere. It has more than 1.3 million paid enterprise users in more than 50 countries.

    Can Content Improve Your Conversion Rate?

    Digital marketing circles’ main concern is steadily increasing conversions from websites, webpages, online ads, etc. We must all strive to understand the SEO-conversion-related factors; obviously, SEO increases visibility, which increases traffic, and, in turn, your chances of attracting your target audience.

    SEO -> Visibility -> Traffic-> Target audience!

    However, there has recently been quite a shift away from a strictly SEO approach to conversion to a more customer-focused one – especially when it comes to B2C campaigns.

    “Content [should be] written with a clear vision of what must be conveyed to the reader, built through understanding their pain points (mainly B2B) or emotional connection (mainly B2C)” – David Rosam, Content Strategist.

    So, once you take a customer-focused approach, what comes next? Understanding your customer base is key. Who are your customers? People. (Please forgive us for stating the obvious). And people like stories – good, authentic ones. Words like brand affinity, trust, and shock value come to mind. Thus, we have expressed a couple of thoughts from SEMrush and digital marketing experts on the potential of content to increase conversions.

    Conversion content marketing should not be confused with landing page optimization. The latter, of course, plays a part in the conversion from content; however, the mission of content is of a different nature. Content marketing builds brand awareness, at first, that later is supposed to grow into creation of brand impression, that is to result in brand affinity, which leads, eventually, to conversion.

    Brand awareness -> Brand impression -> Brand affinity -> Conversion!

    Unlike landing page optimization, the process of driving conversion through content takes, generally, longer. David Sayce has called it a “journey.” Here’s how it works:

    “There’s content you publish to increase your industry standing. Consumers of this type of content are unlikely to be ready to purchase your product immediately. But once they’re ready to buy, they’ll probably be more likely to convert. Unfortunately, an uplift in conversions in relation to this type of content is much harder to prove. But just because something’s difficult to prove, does it make it wrong to focus on?
” – David Bain, Host at Digital Marketing Radio.

    However, optimization is no stranger to our case. In fact, platforms that provide toolset for the digital world are recognising the need to help out the content branch. For instance, SEMrush has improved its SEO Ideas functionality by adding an SEO Content Template feature, which allows you to SEO optimize your content before you’ve even begun to create it!

    What can affect conversions significantly in terms of SEO are meta descriptions, which are often neglected. Many content writers disregard metadata completely, even though providing it along with content can greatly impact its performance.

    “After spending time working and developing keywords (themes) and landing pages, this micro text it the attraction that can make the difference between someone clicking through to a website or not. Much like writing headlines or tweets, this micro content can be very difficult to work on, but once smart, emotive content is created, it can produce a huge uplift in the CTR to the website.” – David Sayce, Digital Marketing Consultant

    In particular, the meta description is instrumental when it comes to e-commerce websites. Relying on his vast experience, David Sayce has concluded that many e-commerce sites are including manufacturers’ descriptions in their product descriptions, which becomes problematic once the user stumbles upon similar or even the same product descriptions on other websites. By simply altering its product descriptions, a company can dramatically increase its competitive advantage

    Another factor that really affects e-commerce sites in terms of product descriptions is the fact that these websites, paradoxically, often neglect their consumers’ needs. What customers want is not an answer to a what question, rather the truly relevant question here is why. Why should I purchase your product and not your competitors’? (Bas Van Den Beld emphasized this fact at SearchLove in London; Laura Crimmons also mentioned it to the SEMrush team in a brief interview.)

    Our expert Laura Crimmons recommends checking out AO.com: “[They] do content on product pages really well. They have so much rich content that answers users’ questions with long descriptions and product features, customer reviews, question-and-answer sections, video reviews, etc.”

    In the 1920s, Elmer Wheeler coined the phrase “sell the sizzle, not the steak.” Since then this approach has been reconsidered only slightly. Still, emotional content, overall, generates higher conversion since it triggers an impulse, and that’s a powerful instrument in the hands of a marketer. Of course, depending on the buyer persona, the rational content might work just as well.

    Both approaches should focus on showing the advantages of the product rather than describing precisely what you get once you purchase it. The Mutual Rescue video represents a textbook campaign for expressing the benefits of making a purchase. This campaign involves both emotional and rational with inclusion of video (quite the “it” thing in digital marketing) elements. Another great example of a brilliant mixture of humor and useful information, all compiled into one smart campaign is the Dollar Shave Club‘s video.

    According to David Sayce:

    “Visual is often the first thing seen by the user that grabs their initial attention. After that, I would suggest emotional. Again there is often an interesting mix of these between B2B and B2C, with B2B seen as more rational and verbal and B2C being emotional and visual. While there is some truth in this, it comes back to the overall branding and the target audience and thinking of these more as a sliding scale than absolute.”

    Laura Crimmons, Communications Director at Branded3 says:

    “In terms of tech, rational tends to perform best, so giving people descriptions, facts and figures will help to convert (them?. In terms of fashion and beauty, or travel, visual and emotional factors will be more important, as you’re buying the aspiration of what you will look like or where you will go, so you need to connect with that on an emotional level.”

    Thus, optimization-related matters such as design, sign-up forms, posting time, promotional channels, and the inclusion of testimonials play a key role, but only if your content has real value, meaning you have addressed the right topic in the right way.

    There are two chief aspects that constitute “the right way.” First, it is of paramount importance to stay “on brand,” which David Sayce defined as “having a consistent message / proposition throughout a business’ marketing process”: your visitor should instantly feel they are in the right place upon landing on your homepage. One of the greatest marketing campaigns in this regard was dedicated to Meerkat, the UK insurance comparison website Compare the Market.

    Secondly, your decision on whether to place emphasis on visual/textual or rational/emotional content should be based upon meticulous analysis of your customers’ needs. For instance, Laura Crimmons shared that, according to her experience, “UK and US [customers] vary; and those in the UK convert better with longer, more descriptive phrases, whereas those in the US convert better with more succinct language.”

    If you would like to learn more about content marketing, please join Online SEMrush Meet up 2016: Content marketing – Full Cycle on December 15.

    By Meri Chobanyan is a Content Writer at SEMrush.

    6 SEO Experiments That Will Blow Your Mind

    how does bounce rate affect seo

    See that “kink” in the graph? Kind of hard to miss, right?

    Landing pages that had a bounce rate below 76 percent were more likely to show up in one of the top four positions. But landing pages that had a bounce rate of 78 percent or higher were more likely to show up in position five or lower.

    What about time on site?

    seo experiments time on site

    This graph shows that if your keyword/content pairs have decent time on site, then you’re more likely to be in top organic positions 1–6. If engagement is weak on average, however, then you’re more likely to be in positions 7 or lower.

    And how about conversion rates? This data shows that

    In SEO, there’s no shortage of theory and best practices. But experimentation is what really keeps this great industry moving forward.

    All of today’s best practices came as a result of past experiments – both failures and successes. Everything we do in SEO is an opportunity to learn and improve.

    That’s why I love doing experiments. While Google may reveal a few bits and pieces of information, they’ll never tell us everything we need to know to evolve our SEO strategies from the ordinary into the realm of unicorns.

    Today I’d like to share six mind-blowing SEO experiments we did this year, what we learned from them, and what it all means.

    1. Does Organic Search Click-Through Rate Matter?

    We know that machine learning – including Google RankBrain – is changing SEO as we’ve known it. Already, Google uses RankBrain for every search, and it impacts “a lot” of queries.

    Is RankBrain (or other machine learning-based elements) impacting rankings? If so, how? Well, that’s exactly what wanted we wanted to find out: what’s a good click-through rate for organic search.

    what's a good organic ctr

    For this experiment, we looked at a set of 1,000 keywords from Google’s Search Console for the WordStream site. What we found is very interesting. In April, the average CTR for the top position was 22 percent. That increased to 24 percent by July and 27 percent by September.

    So our data clearly showed that are top ranked results had its highest CTRs by September. Meanwhile, on the other end, the data showed that lower positions (4-10) were being clicked on less than ever.

    Clearly, the click curve is bending. I believe this is exactly what you would expect to see from a machine learning algorithm – it’s about providing the best answers (based on the highest user engagement), which means fewer people will need to scroll down and click lower results.

    So does organic search CTR matter? YES! More than ever before.

    2. Is Organic CTR an Organic Search Ranking Factor?

    So we’ve established CTR is important. But what’s the relationship between organic CTR and organic search rankings?

    Numerous people who work at Google have said they don’t use click-through rate for the purposes of ranking. But when they say this, they mean they don’t use it as a “direct” signal. Could it be that clicks have an indirect impact on Google’s search results?

    We decided to find out the answer to this question with an experiment designed to figure out whether CTR impacts SEO rankings.

    The goal of this experiment was to see whether there was any clear relationship between organic search CTR and organic search position. The biggest challenge was that separating CTR and ranking is like separating Kanye West from his ego.

    kanye west

    So we attempted to isolate the natural relationship between CTR and ranking by taking the difference between an observed organic search CTR minus the expected CTR:

    organic ctr data

    After looking at our data, we found that, on average, pages that beat the expected average organic CTR for a given position were far more likely to rank in the top four positions. These are unicorns! For example, a page that beats the expected CTR for a given position by 20 percent will likely appear in position 1.

    Also, pages that failed to beat the expected organic search CTR were more likely to appear in positions 6–10. These are donkeys. For example, a page that falls below the expected CTR for a given position by 6 percent will likely appear in position 10.

    So, based on the data, does CTR impact organic search rankings? It certainly seems that way!

    3. Can Rewriting Your Titles Boost Your CTR?

    So if you’ll be rewarded for having a higher click-through rate, what’s the best way to raise your CTR?

    If people see nothing else, they will see your headline in the SERPs. Your content may be totally awesome – but they won’t click on it if the headline is boring.

    SEO has evolved. It’s silly to write title tags like it’s still 2008!

    WordStream has been trying to move away from overly “optimized” “SEO titles” like this one: “Guerilla Marketing: 20+ Examples and Strategies to Stand Out.”

    That old headline followed “SEO best practices.” The most important keyword was at the front and everything fell within 60 characters. But it’s kind of a snore, right?

    So we ran a little CTR optimization experiment. Our content and SEO manager Elisa Gabbert changed only the title of the post – to “20+ Jaw-Dropping Guerrilla Marketing Examples.” The new headline is closer to this super-successful headline template that foregrounds the list format, the emotional impact and the content type (examples):

    seo title formulas

    The article text, images, links, or anything else you can think of were left untouched.

    After updating the headline, the article CTR increased to 4.19 percent (up from 1 percent) and it ranked in position 5 (up from position 8).

    how to move ranking by changing title

    So can you increase your CTR just by changing your title? Yes!

    seo experimentation

    Don’t be boring! Write brilliant headlines that people will click on like crazy. (Just make sure the content behind them backs them up.)

    4. Do Website Engagement Rates Impact Organic Search Rankings?

    It’s super important to create clickable headlines, but the goal isn’t just to create clickbait. You also must have great engagement metrics. If people feel cheated and go right back to the SERP, Google can detect that.

    Dwell time is really the thing that matters. And time on site is a much better proxy for dwell time than bounce rate.

    My theory is that Google uses dwell time (which we can’t measure, but is proportional to time on site) to validate click-through rates. These metrics help Google figure out whether users ultimately got what they were looking for (i.e., a successful search).

    So do engagement metrics (bounce rates, time on site, conversion rates) impact organic search rankings?

    To put this theory to the test, we gathered some engagement rate data. First, we looked at whether the bounce rate of the pages/keywords we rank for had any relationship to their ranking:

    how does bounce rate affect seo

    See that “kink” in the graph? Kind of hard to miss, right?

    Landing pages that had a bounce rate below 76 percent were more likely to show up in one of the top four positions. But landing pages that had a bounce rate of 78 percent or higher were more likely to show up in position five or lower.

    What about time on site?

    seo experiments time on site

    This graph shows that if your keyword/content pairs have decent time on site, then you’re more likely to be in top organic positions 1–6. If engagement is weak on average, however, then you’re more likely to be in positions 7 or lower.

    And how about conversion rates? This data shows that higher CTRs tend to lead to higher conversion rates:

    conversion rate data seo

    Why is this? Because if you can get someone excited enough to click on your offer, that excitement typically carries through to a purchase or sign-up.

    Higher CTRs, engagement rates, and conversion rates lead to more leads and sales. But I believe this data clearly shows proof that improving engagement metrics and conversion rates will also lead to better organic search rankings.

    5. Do Engagement Metrics Impact the Selection of Featured Snippets?

    Google’s Featured Snippets, which appear in so-called Position 0 above the organic search results, come in the form of text, lists, images, and charts, among others. But how does Google’s algorithm pick Featured Snippets?

    First, I wanted to find out whether Google’s traditional organic search ranking factors impacted whether your site gets snipped. So I looked at data for 981 snippets that the WordStream site has earned.

    seo for featured snippets in google

    Clearly not. Otherwise, the top ranked position would get the snippet every time. Google is featuring snippets from content that ranks on page 2 to as far back as the 71st position!

    Having on-page copy that is clear and concise is also clearly important. But, again, word count isn’t the full picture.

    So we dove deeper and investigated this page after seeing it as a snippet for searches relating to getting Bing Rewards points. We discovered two interesting things from our Google Analytics and Search Console data:

    • An unusually high CTR (21.43 percent), even though it had an average position of 10
    • Unusually high time on site (14:30), which was 3x above the site average.

    So do engagement rates play a role in the selection of Featured Snippets? I absolutely believe so!

    crazy seo experiments

    6. What’s the REAL Relationship Between Organic Rankings & Social Shares?

    We’ve heard about the ridiculously high correlations between social shares and organic search rankings for about five years now (see the ranking factor studies done by SearchMetrics and Moz). Many people have assumed that social shares are a ranking signal, even though Google shot this down every single time.

    My belief was that it’s not the visible social share counts that matter. What’s more important is having high social engagement.

    So we tested it out to find the real relationship between organic rankings and social shares. Here’s what we found:

    facebook engagement vs search ctr

    This data showed that Facebook posts with super high engagement rates (above 6 percent) also had an organic search CTR that beat expectations. In other words, if you have Facebook engagement that is 4x higher than average, you’ll have an organic search CTR that is 4x higher than average.

    Why is this? Well, I believe that the same emotions that make people share content on social media also make people click on those same pieces of content when they see them in the SERPs. This is especially true for headlines with unusually high CTRs.

    The correlations were much stronger with unicorn content (those “blockbuster” pieces of content that drive 10-100x more traffic to your site than most of your other donkey content put together). Unicorns with high social engagement rates almost always had high organic CTR, and vice versa.

    The correlations were substantially weaker with donkey content. Donkeys sometimes had high engagement rates, sometimes low engagement rates. The same was true with CTR, some high, some low.

    So yes, high social engagement rates correlate with high CTR, and vice versa. That’s the real relationship between search and social. It’s all about how engaging your content is!

    jaw dropping seo

    What Does It All Mean?

    As these five experiments highlight, SEO is continuing to evolve in a way that rewards your pages and site based on how people engage with your content.

    That means it’s mission critical to optimize for engagement.

    In other words: Optimize for PEOPLE! Write headlines that will make them click and then reward them for that click by publishing amazing and memorable content that will make them want to stay on your site and share your stuff.

    Check out all six experiments summarized below:

    top seo experiments

    Did any of these experiments surprise you? What SEO experiments would you like to see next?

    This article is an abridged version of Larry Kim’s original post on WordStream.

    Influencer marketing: where we’re headed in 2017

    Early in 2016, we promised that this would be the year that influencer marketing would become mainstream.

    We wrote about the progress that influencer marketing made in 2016, but as a marketer, you always need to be looking forward to be prepared for what the future holds. So what direction can we expect influencer marketing to take in 2017?

    We’ve seen the tactic grow, but we’ll see it explored in 2017. Here are a few things that we expect to see in the New Year:

    Less is more

    Influencer marketing’s growth across each individual network can largely be credited to the growth of the big player “celeb” influencers. The Logan Paul’s and Andrew Bachelor’s of the social world. These are the big names who are getting the headlines from mainstream outlets like “60 Minutes,” taking the marketing tactic away from a niche specialty among forward-thinking marketers, to an everyday occurrence.

    Though they’ve made influencer marketing popular, what’s made it successful is the use of “micro-influencers”. These are creators who may not have the audience size of some of these big names, but they’re creating the type of content that grabs a consumer’s attention–and they’re able to much more authentically connect much more authentically with their followers.

    Often with the celeb -influencers like Kim Kardashian, they have their following because of who they are rather than what they create. In our time in influencer marketing working with some of the top brands, we’ve found that the best results come from the people who’ve built engagement with their audience based on what they’re creating. The “micro-influencers”, as they’ve often been called, have come into prominence in 2016 and will see their heyday in 2017.

    Influencer relationships approached more as partnerships

    The brands that will find success with influencer marketing in 2017 are the ones who will approach their relationships with their influencers as business partnerships, and not as line cooks who can churn out content for them.

    Too often, brands use influencers as an opportunity to just promote their brand to a large audience. And they would tell the influencer to share about their brand in exchange for some free product. But as influencer marketing has grown, influencers are now able to command the respect they deserve for the amazing work that they’re creating.

    Building a relationship with the influencer means actually collaborating with them on the program, and getting their input on what will work with their audience in order to ensure that ever-important authenticity. This is why communities such as Snapfluence, which defend the creator’s position, are so important. These communities help to level the equate both sides of the table to bring everyone on a fair and even playing field to build amazing programs.

    Creating meaningful experiences

    The brands that find success with influencer marketing in 2017 will do so by creating meaningful experiences for their audiences. The type of experiences that are both interactive and tangible for your community.

    In 2016, TAKE5 set out to have influencers capture the remixed TAKE5 bar’s new branding by creating a series of experiences throughout 2016 that “remixed” everyday occurrences. At SXSW, they invited influencers to the TAKE5 Swag Exchange to swap their unwanted swag for some awesome remixed swag– like a free Uber ride, or a line-sitter, or a year’s worth of candy bars. The experience embodied the fun, surprising and uncommon spirit that the brand was trying to inspire in its content creators.

    We expect to see more brands provide their communities with direct and unique ways to interact with the brand and its influencers.

    Decline in influencer “networks” and “marketplaces”

    With 2016 came the rise of influencer “networks”, or rosters of influencers that are purported to have some degree of exclusivity to the network over others. These networks were billed as the simplest way to find influencers for your brand, and–due to the “exclusivity”– the easiest way to negotiate rates with the best influencers.

    But like dating sites, we all know people rarely belong to just one network. Influencers and daters alike join multiple networks in order to increase their odds of being found. Discovery on these networks was also found to be pretty limiting as the searching was restricted to just the individuals in their databases. And moreover, these networks also tended to treat the influencers simply as commodities that could be bought and sold for your brand’s need, ignoring their unique ability to create amazing content for your brand.

    In 2017, we’ll see a decline of these supposedly exclusive networks and a rise in agnostic searches that find the true best match for your brand’s program.

    A network agnostic strategy

    Many 2016 marketing predictions called for a huge surge in Vine campaigns, and in the same year, we saw the network shut down.

    With social networks constantly evolving – new ones growing, old ones shutting down, features constantly being added or removed – we forecast a more network agnostic strategy for brand influencer marketing programs in 2017. This will allow for an increase in focus placed on the right audiences to target and the best ways to do that with various networks for each campaign.

    FTC will clamp down

    In 2016, we saw a lot of enforcement on the part of the FTC on various influencer marketing programs. Brands such as from Warner Brothers and Lord & Taylor saw the FTC crack down on their activations due to a lack of clear disclosures.

    And all signs point to the FTC continuing this enforcement in 2017. Brands will need to prioritize ensuring that their programs abide by all of the FTC rules and regulations on influencer marketing in 2017.

    Self-regulation from brands and agencies

    With so much growth and change in 2016, it’s no wonder there were so many mistakes from influencers like Scott Disick and from brands like Lord & Taylor. Influencer marketing is still operating like the Wild West, with brands and influencers alike attempting to determine the best way to connect with audiences and stay within the rules.

    In 2017, we’ll see more brands and influencers learning from their own mistakes and the mistakes of others (after all, there are plenty of resources sharing best practices). Will there still be slip-ups, mistakes, and fit tea posts? Absolutely. But we’ll see incremental improvements and even more badass campaigns.

    If 2016 was the year of growth for influencer marketing, 2017 will be the year where it all comes together. The growth that has occurred over the past year has led to a few bad practices among brands and influencers, but we’ve already seen glimmers of hope in both parties correcting these practices. In 2017, we’ll see influencer marketing grow up to become a more meaningful and practical marketing tactic.

    By Brian Zuercher is CEO & Founder of SEEN, and a contributor to Search Engine Watch

    The problem with Facebook’s miscalculated metrics

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    Facebook announced another glitch with its metrics and marketers start wondering whether they can really trust the social network’s measuring methods.

    It’s the third time in the last three months that Facebook reports a problem with its metrics and this has affected its credibility among marketers and publishers.

    As the most popular social platform the expectations are high and Facebook’s ambitious plans that keep growing year by year bring out bigger challenges. As marketers and publishers invest more time (and money) on it, they are expecting a Return On Investment for their efforts. Thus, they weren’t happy when they found out a problem in accuracy that occurred several times.

    Case #1 – September 2016

    The first case was revealed in September when Facebook admitted that there was a miscalculation in the average viewing time for video ads the past two years. This led to an artificial inflation in the video views

    This led to an artificial inflation of the viewing time in video ads, as it took into consideration all the video views of more than three seconds. According to Publicis Media, this has overestimated the average viewing time by 60% to 80%, while Facebook made it clear that this error didn’t affect billing.

    Case #2 – November 2016

    November was a busy month for Facebook and everyone working on its metrics, as there were miscalculations with the video views, the monthly Page reach, and the time spent on Instant Articles.

    In more detail:

    • Facebook uncovered a bug in Page Insights with the weekly and monthly summaries miscalculating the total numbers without taking into consideration the repeat visitors. This brought a reduced reach of 33% for the 7-day summary and 55% for the 28-day summary. According to Facebook, this didn’t affect the paid reach.
    • There was a small miscalculation to the length of the videos, with a difference of one to two seconds in the final result, due to occasional problems of syncing the audio and the video to each device.
    • There was an over-reporting of 7-8% on the time spent on Instant Articles since last August. Facebook reported that this issue is now fixed.
    • The “Referrals” metrics on Facebook Analytics for Apps was also miscalculated, as it didn’t simply track the links to the app or the site, but also the clicks to the posts via the app or the site, which also included the clicks to view photos and videos.

    Case #3 – December 2016

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    Facebook announced more updates for its metrics, along with new miscalculations and fixes, this time affecting the estimated reach, the measurement of the reactions in live videos and a problem with like and share buttons.

    • There will be an improvement in the estimated reach during the ad creation, which will provide a more accurate estimate for the potential target audience. We should expect from now on a change of less than 10% (increase or decrease).
    • Facebook is fixing the reactions in live videos by counting from now on multiple reactions during a live streaming. These multiple reactions were calculated up to now on the “reactions from shares to post” and they will be now measured on the “reactions on post” metrics. This means that we should see an increase of 500% on average to the “reactions on post” and a decrease of 25% on average to the “reactions from shares of post”.
    • Facebook also identified a discrepancy between the like and share buttons on the Graph API and the URLs used in the mobile search bar, fixing this difference to make the metrics match up.

    Is Facebook ready to improve its metrics?

    It is more important than ever for Facebook to include third-party verification for its metrics and it already made it clear last month that they are heading towards this direction:

    We believe strongly in third-party verification to prove the business value we’re driving for our partners, and we have a long history of working with global industry leaders like comScore, Moat, Nielsen and Integral Ad Science (IAS). We’re now exploring additional third-party reviews to validate the reporting we offer partners. We’re also launching the ability to verify display impression data through our third-party viewability verification partners, including Moat, IAS and comScore. This integration addresses requests we’ve received from partners for independent measurement of the amount of time ads are viewed on-screen.

    For publishers, we’re partnering with Nielsen to include Facebook video and Facebook Live viewership in Nielsen’s Digital Content Ratings (DCR). This will give publishers access to third-party verification for video metrics and allow for comparable digital and TV metrics in Nielsen’s Total Audience Measurement.

    Should marketers be concerned?

    Marketers and publishers have every right to be unhappy with Facebook’s continuous glitches and it certainly affected its credibility up to a point.

    However, looking on the bright side, it may be a good opportunity for the social network to evaluate the growing needs and examine third parties that could help them scale their efforts.

    As the products evolve, it’s important to focus on maintaining its quality and we are hoping that these problems will help Facebook work harder on the right direction.

    If it wants to be taken seriously for its advertising platform and its business aspect, then it’s crucial to bring back the much desired trust and invest in the proper tools that will make the measurement more accurate. This should be an interesting challenge for 2017.