Tag Archive | "2018"

Want to Speak at MozCon 2018? Here’s Your Chance – Pitch to Be a Community Speaker!

Posted by Danielle_Launders

MozCon 2018 is nearing and it’s almost time to brush off that microphone. If speaking at MozCon is your dream, then we have the opportunity of a lifetime for you! Pitch us your topic and you may be selected to join us as one of our six community speakers.

What is a community speaker, you ask? MozCon sessions are by invite only, meaning we reach out to select speakers for the majority of our talks. But every year we reserve six 15-minute community speaking slots, where we invite anyone in the SEO community to pitch to present at MozCon. These sessions are both an attendee favorite and a fabulous opportunity to break into the speaking circuit.

Katie Cunningham, one of last year’s community speakers, on stage at MozCon 2017

Interested in pitching your own idea? Read on for everything you need to know:

The details

  • Fill out the community speaker submission form
  • Only one submission per person — make sure to choose the one you’re most passionate about!
  • Pitches must be related to online marketing and for a topic that can be covered in 15 minutes
  • Submissions close on Sunday, April 22nd at 5pm PDT
  • All decisions are final
  • All speakers must adhere to the MozCon Code of Conduct
  • You’ll be required to present in Seattle at MozCon

Ready to pitch your idea?

If you submit a pitch, you’ll hear back from us regardless of your acceptance status.

What you’ll get as a community speaker:

  • 15 minutes on the MozCon stage for a keynote-style presentation, followed by 5 minutes of Q&A
  • A free ticket to MozCon (we can issue a refund or transfer if you have already purchased yours)
  • Four nights of lodging covered by Moz at our partner hotel
  • Reimbursement for your travel — up to $ 500 for domestic and $ 750 for international travel
  • An additional free MozCon ticket for you to give away, plus a code for $ 300 off of one ticket
  • An invitation for you and your significant other to join us for the pre-event speakers dinner

The selection process:

We have an internal committee of Mozzers that review every pitch. In the first phase we review only the topics to ensure that they’re a good fit for our audience. After this first phase, we look at the entirety of the pitch to help us get a comprehensive idea of what to expect from your talk on the MozCon stage.

Want some advice for perfecting your pitch?

  • Keep your pitch focused to online marketing. The more actionable the pitch, the better.
  • Be detailed! We want to know the actual tactics our audience will be learning about. Remember, we receive a ton of pitches, so the more you can explain, the better!
  • Review the topics already being presented — we’re looking for something new to add to the stage.
  • Keep the pitch to under 1200 characters. We’re strict with the word limits — even the best pitches will be disqualified if they don’t abide by the rules.
  • No pitches will be evaluated in advance, so please don’t ask :)
  • Using social media to lobby your pitch won’t help. Instead, put your time and energy into the actual pitch itself!
  • Linking to a previous example of a slide deck or presentation isn’t required, but it does help the committee a ton.

You’ve got this!

This could be you.

If your pitch is selected, the MozCon team will help you along the way. Whether this is your first time on stage or your twentieth, we want this to be your best talk to date. We’re here to answer questions that may come up and to work with you to deliver something you’re truly proud of. Here are just a handful of ways that we’re here to help:

  • Topic refinement
  • Helping with your session title and description
  • Reviewing any session outlines and drafts
  • Providing plenty of tips around best practices — specifically with the MozCon stage in mind
  • Comprehensive show guide
  • Being available to listen to you practice your talk
  • Reviewing your final deck
  • A full stage tour on Sunday to meet our A/V crew, see your presentation on the big screens, and get a feel for the show
  • An amazing 15-person A/V team

Make your pitch to speak at MozCon!

We can’t wait to see what y’all come up with. Best of luck!

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The Pro Marketer’s Product Launch Checklist for 2018 – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

What goes into a truly exceptional product launch? To give your new product a feature the best chance at success, it’s important to wrangle all the many moving pieces involved in pulling off a seamless marketing launch. From listing audience members and influencers to having the right success metrics to having a rollback plan, Rand shares his best advice in the form of an actionable checklist in this Whiteboard Friday. And make sure to check out the last item — it may be the best one to start with!

The Pro Marketer's Product Launch Checklist 2018

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we are chatting about crafting a professional marketer’s product launch checklist for 2018.

So many of you are undoubtedly in the business of doing things around SEO and around web marketing, around content marketing, around social media marketing in service of a product that you are launching or a feature that you are launching or multiple products. I think it pays for us to examine what goes into a very successful product launch.

Of course, I’ve been a part of many of these at Moz, as part of many of the startups and other companies that I advise, and there are some shared characteristics, particularly from the marketing perspective. I won’t focus on the product and engineering perspectives. We’ll talk about marketing product launches today.

☑ A defined audience, accompanied by a list of 10–100 real, individual people in the target group

So to start with, very first, top of our list, a defined audience. That can be a demographic or a psychographic set of characteristics that define your audience or a topic, a niche, a job title or job function type of characteristics that comprise the profile of who’s in your group. That should be accompanied by a list of 10 to 100 real people.

I know that many marketers out there love using personas, and I think it’s fine to use personas to help define this audience. But I’m going to urge you strongly to have that real list. Those could be:

  • Customers that you know you’re targeting,
  • People who have bought from you in the past and you’re hoping will buy again,
  • People who maybe you’ve lost and are hoping to recapture, maybe they use a competitor’s product today or they’re notable in some way.

As long as they fit your characteristics, I want you to have that list of those real people.

The problem with personas is you can’t talk to them. You can’t ask them real questions, or you can, but only in your own mind and your imagination fills in the details. These are real people that you can talk to, email, ask questions, show the product to, show the launch plan to and get real feedback. They should have shared characteristics. They should have an affinity for the product that you’re building or launching, hopefully, and they should share the problem.

Whatever the problem, almost every product, in fact, hopefully every product is actually trying to solve a problem better than the thing that came before it or the many things that came before it. Your audience should share whatever that problem is that you’re trying to solve.

☑ List of 25–500 influential people in the space, + contact info and an outreach plan

Okay. We’ll give this a nice check mark. Next, list of influential people in the space. That could be 25 to even hundreds or thousands of people potentially, plus their contact information and an outreach plan. That outreach plan should include why each target is going to care about the problem, about the solution, and why they’re going to share. Why will they amplify?

This is in answer to the question: Who will help amplify this and why? If you don’t have a great answer to that, your product launch will almost certainly fall flat from a marketing perspective. If you can build a successful one of these, that list, especially if before you even launch, you know that 20 of these 500 people have said, “Yes, I’m going to amplify. Here’s why I care about this. I can’t wait until you give me permission to share it or release this thing or send me the version of it.” That’s an awesome, awesome step.

☑ List of influential publications and media that influencers and target audience members consume

Next, similarly, just like we have a list of influential people, we want a list of influential publications and media that many influencers and many of your target audience members read, watch, subscribe to, listen to, follow, etc. So it’s basically these two groups should be paying attention to the media, to the publications that we’re trying to list out here. Essentially, that could be events that these people go to. It could be podcasts they listen to. It could be shows they watch, blogs or email newsletters they subscribe to. It could be traditional media, magazines, radio, YouTube channel. Whatever those publications are, all of them are the ones we’re trying to build a list of here.

That is going to be part of our outreach target. We might have these influential people, and some of these could overlap. Some of these influential people may work for or at these influential publications and that’s fine. I just worry that too much influencer marketing is focused on individuals and not on publications when, in fact, both are critical to a product launch success.

☑ Metrics for success

Metrics, yes, marketers need metrics for success. Those should be in three buckets — exposure and branding, which include things like press and mentions and social engagement, maybe a survey comparison of before and after. We ran an anonymous survey to a group of our target audience before and after and we measured brand awareness differential. Traffic, so links, rankings, visits, time on site, etc., and conversions. That could be measured through last touch or through preferably full-funnel attribution.

☑ Promotional schedule with work items by team member and rollback plan

A promotion schedule. So this means we actually know what we’re doing and in what order as the launch rolls out. That could be before launch we’re doing a bunch of things around private beta or around sharing with some of these influential people and publications. Or we haven’t defined the audience yet. We need to do that. We have that schedule and work items by each team member, and we’re going to need a rollback plan. So if at any point along the way, the person who owns the product process says, “This is not good enough,” or, “We have a fundamental error,” or, “The flamethrower we’re building shoots ice instead of fire,” we should probably either rename and rebrand it or roll it back. We have that structure set up.

☑ FAQ from the beta/test period, from both potential customers and influencers

Next, frequently asked questions. This is where a beta or test period and test users come in super handy, because they will have asked us a bunch of questions. They’ll have asked as they’re playing with or observing or using the product. We should be able to take all of those questions from both potential customers and from influencers, and we should have those answers set up for our customer service and help teams and for people who are interfacing with the press and with influencers in case they reach out.

In an ideal world, we would also publish these online. We would have a place where we could reference them. They’re already published. This is particularly handy when press and influencers cover a launch and they link to a, “Oh, here’s how the ice thrower,” I’m assuming, “that we’re building is meant to work, and here’s at what temperatures it’s safe to operate,” etc.

☑ Media assets & content for press/influencer use

Next up, media assets and content for those press and publications and influencer use. For example:

  • Videos of people using the product and playing with it
  • Screencasts, screenshots if it’s a digital or software product
  • Photos
  • Demo-able versions if you want to give people login access to something special
  • Guidelines for press usage and citations, as well as things like logo and style guide

All of those types of things. Trust me, if your product launch goes well, people will ask you for this, or they will just use things that they steal from your site. You would much prefer to be able to control these assets and to control where the links and citations point, especially from an SEO perspective.

☑ Paid promotion triggers, metrics to watch, and KPIs

Next up, penultimate on our checklist, paid promotion triggers. So most of the time, when you’re doing a product launch, there will also be some component that is non-organic, i.e., paid such as paid content. It could be pay-per-click ads. It could be Facebook advertising. It could be web advertising. It could be retargeting and remarketing. It could be broadcast advertising. All of those kinds of things.

You will want with each of those triggers, triggers that essentially say, “Okay, we’ve reached the point where we are now ready. We executed along our schedule, so we are now ready to turn on the paid promotion, and channel X is going to be the start of that, then channel Y and then channel Z.”

Then we should have KPIs, key performance indicators, that tell us whether we’re going to grow or shrink that spend, something like this. So we know, hey, the product launch is going this well, so we’re going to keep our current level investment. But if we tick up over here, we’re going to invest more. If we get to here, we’re going to max out our spend. We know that our maximum spend is X. Versus it goes the other way and over here, we’re going to cut. We’re going to cut all spend if we fall below metric Z.

☑ A great set of answers and 100% alignment on the following statement:

Last but not least on our checklist, this should exist even prior to a product design process. In fact, if you’re doing this at the end of a product launch checklist, the rest of this is not going to go so well. But if you start product design with this in mind and then maintain it all the way through launch, through messaging, through all the marketing that you do, you’re going to be in good shape. That is a great set of answers and 100% alignment, meaning everyone on the team, who’s working on this, agrees that this is how we’re going to position this on this statement.

Before the product we’re launching existed, our target audience, the group of people up here, was underserved in these ways or by previous solutions or because of these problems. But now, thanks to the thing that we’ve done, the thing that we’ve created and what is extraordinary about this product, these problems or this problem is solved.

If you design in this fashion and then you roll out in this fashion, you get this wonderful alignment and connection between how you’re branding and marketing the product and how the product was conceived and built. The problem and its solution become clear throughout. That tends to do very, very well for product building and product launching.

All right, everyone, if you have additions to this checklist, I hope you leave them in the comments below. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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The Guide to Local Sponsorship Marketing – The 2018 Edition

Posted by Claudia0428

For most Moz readers, local marketing means content, reviews, AdWords, local listings, and of course citations. If you’re a larger brand, you might be doing outdoor, radio, print, and television advertising as well. Today we’re here to humbly submit that local sponsorships remain the most-overlooked and opportunity-rich channel, and they build real local connections for both large brands and small business alike.

This article is the second edition of the ZipSprout team’s guide to local sponsorships. We wrote the first edition in 2016 after a few months of securing local sponsorship campaigns for a handful of clients. Since then, we’ve tripled our client roster and we’ve worked with more than 8,000 local organizations, donating nearly $ 1,000,000 in local sponsorships to 1,300+ opportunities. Since then we’ve also learned how to build campaigns for local presence.

So we knew the guide was due for a reboot.

One of our most significant learnings of the past two years is the understanding of local sponsorships as a channel in their own right. They can be directed toward local SEO or local marketing campaigns, but sponsorships are their own breed of local connection — and just like content campaigns, local PR campaigns, or review management, local sponsorships have their own set of conventions and best practices.

This article is meant for anyone with an eye toward local sponsorships as a marketing channel. Agencies and enterprise organizations may find it particularly helpful, but we’re big believers in encouraging smaller local businesses to engage in sponsorships too. Get out there and meet your neighbors!


The what & why of local sponsorships

Local events, nonprofits, and associations constitute a disjointed but very real network of opportunities. Unlike other channels, local sponsorships aren’t accessible from a single platform, but we’ve found that many sponsorships share similarities. This makes it possible to develop processes that work for campaigns in any metro area.

Local sponsorships are also a unique channel in that the benefits can range from the digital to the analog: from local links to a booth, from social posts to signage on a soccer field. The common thread is joining the community by partnering with local organizations, but the benefits themselves vary widely.

We’ve identified and track 24 unique benefits of sponsorships related to local marketing:

  1. Ad (full or partial)
  2. Advertising on event app
  3. Blog post featuring sponsor
  4. Booth, tent, or table at event
  5. Event named for sponsor
  6. Guest post on organization blog
  7. Inclusion in press release
  8. Link in email newsletter
  9. Link on website
  10. Logo on event t-shirt or other swag
  11. Logo on signage
  12. Logo or name on website
  13. Media spots (television/radio/newspaper)
  14. Mention in email newsletter
  15. Mention in publicity materials, such as programs & other printed materials
  16. Networking opportunity
  17. Physical thing (building, etc.) named for sponsor
  18. Social media mention
  19. Speaking opportunity at event
  20. Sponsor & sponsor’s employees receive discounts on services/products/events
  21. Sponsor can donate merchandise for goodie bags
  22. Sponsored post (on blog or online magazine)
  23. Tickets to event
  24. Verbal recognition

There are probably more, but in our experience most benefits fall into these core categories. That said, these benefits aren’t necessarily for everyone…

Who shouldn’t do local sponsorships?

1. Don’t do local sponsorships if you need fast turnaround.

Campaigns can take 1–3 months from launch until fulfillment. If you’re in a hurry to see a return, just increase your search ad budget.

2. Don’t do local sponsorships if you’re not okay with the branding component.

Local link building can certainly be measured, as can coupon usage, email addresses gathered for a drawing, etc… But measuring local brand lift still isn’t a perfect art form. Leave pure attribution to digital ads.

3. Don’t do local sponsorships with a “one size fits all” expectation.

The great thing about local events and opportunities is their diversity. While some components can be scaled, others require high touch outreach, more similar to a PR campaign.

Considerations for agencies vs brands in local sponsorship campaigns

Agencies, especially if they’re creating sponsorship campaigns for multiple clients, can cast a wide net and select from the best opportunities that return. Even if a potential partnership isn’t a good fit for a current client, they may work for a client down the road. Brands, on the other hand, need to be a little more goal and mission-focused during prospecting and outreach. If they’re reaching out to organizations that are clearly a bad fit, they’re wasting everyone’s time.

Brands also need to be more careful because they have a consumer-facing image to protect. As with any outreach campaign, there are dos and don’ts and best practices that all should follow (DO be respectful; DON’T over-email), but brands especially have more to lose from an outreach faux pas.


Our process

Outreach

Once we’ve identified local organizations in a given metro area, we recommend reaching out with an email to introduce ourselves and learn more about sponsorship opportunities. In two years, the ZipSprout team has A/B tested 100 different email templates.

With these initial emails, we’re trying to inform without confusing or scaring away potential new partners. Some templates have resulted in local organizations thinking we’re asking them for sponsorship money or that we want to charge them for a service. Oops! A/B tests have helped to find the best wording for clarity and, in turn, response rate.

Here are some of our learnings:

1. Mentioning location matters.

We reached out to almost 1,000 Chicago organizations in the spring of 2017. When we mentioned Chicago in the email, the response rate increased by 20%.

2. Emails sent to organizations who already had sponsorship info on their websites were most successful if the email acknowledged the onsite sponsorship info and asked for confirmation.

These are also our most successful outreach attempts, likely because these organizations are actively looking for sponsors (as signified by having sponsorship info on their site). Further, by demonstrating that we’ve been on their site, we’re signaling a higher level of intent.

3. Whether or not we included an outreacher phone number in email signatures had no effect on response rate.

If anything, response rates were higher for emails with no phone number in signature, at 41% compared with 40.2%.

4. Shorter is better when it comes to outreach emails.

Consider the following two emails:

EMAIL A


Hi [NAME],

I sent an email last week, but in case you missed it, I figured I’d follow up. :)

I work to help corporate clients find local sponsorships. We’re an agency that helps our business clients identify and sponsor local organizations like [ORG NAME]. We’re paid by businesses who are looking for local sponsorships.

Often, local organizations are overlooked, so my company, ZipSprout, works for businesses who want to sponsor locally, but aren’t sure who to partner with. To that end, I’d love to learn more about [ORG NAME] and see what sponsorship opportunities you have available. Is there a PDF or list of cost and benefits you can share over email or a phone call?


Thanks,

___

EMAIL B

Hi [NAME],

I sent an email last week, but in case you missed it, I figured I’d follow up. :)

I’d love to learn more about [ORG NAME] and see what sponsorships you have available. Is there a PDF or list of cost and benefits you can share over email or a phone call?


Thanks,

___

In an 800-email test, Email B performed 30% better than Email A.

Matchmaking: How can I choose a sponsorship opportunity that fits my brand?

There are many ways to evaluate potential sponsorships.

These are the questions that help us match organizations with clients:

  • Who is your brand targeting (women, senior citizens, family-friendly, dog owners, new parents)?
  • Do you want to tie your brand with a particular cause (eco-friendly, professional associations, awareness foundations, advocacy groups)?
  • Is your campaign based on location? Are you launching your brand in a particular city? A particular zip code?
  • What is your total budget and per-sponsorship range? A top max price or a price range is a useful parameter — and perhaps the most important.

Once the campaign goals are determined, we filter through opportunities based partially on their online presence. We look at Domain Authority, location, website aesthetics, and other sponsors (competitors and non-competitors) in addition to Reach Score (details below).

Further, we review backlinks, organic traffic, and referring domains. We make sure that this nonprofit partnership is not spammy or funky from an SEO perspective and that is a frequently visited website. A small organization may not have all the juicy digital metrics, but by gauging event attendance or measuring organic traffic we can further identify solid prospects that could have been missed otherwise.

We also look at social media presence; event attendance, event dates and how responsive these organizations or event organizers are. Responsiveness, we have learned, is a CRITICAL variable. It can be the determining point of your link going live in 48 hours or less, as opposed to 6+ months from payment.

Reach Score

From a numbers perspective, Domain Authority is a good way to appreciate the value of a website, but it doesn’t tell the whole story when it comes to local marketing. To help fill in the gaps we created Reach Score, which combines virtual measures (like Domain Authority) with social measures (friends/followers) and physical measures (event attendance). The score ranks entities based on their metro area, so we’re not comparing the reach of an organization in Louisville, KY to one in NYC.

As of March 2018, we have about 8,000 organizations with valid Reach Scores across four metro areas — Raleigh/Durham, Boston, Houston, and Chicago. The average Reach Score is 37 out of 100. Of the 34 types of organizations that we track, the most common is Event Venue/Company (average Reach Score of 38), followed by Advocacy Groups (43) and Sports Teams/Clubs/Leagues (22). The types of organizations with the highest Reach Scores are Local Government (64), Museums (63), and Parks and Recreation (55).

Thanks to Reach Score, we’ve found differences between organizations from city to city as well. In Raleigh-Durham, the entities with the highest reach tend to be government-related organizations, such as Chambers of Commerce and Parks & Rec Departments.

In Boston, the highest reach tends to fall to arts organizations, such as music ensembles, as well as professional associations. This score serves as a good reminder that each metro area has a unique community of local organizations. (Read more about our Reach Score findings here.)

Fulfillment

Our campaigns used to take several months to complete, from contract to final sponsorship. Now our average fulfillment rate is 18.7 days, regardless of our project size! Staying (politely) on top of the communication with the nonprofit organizations was the main driver for this improvement.

We find further that the first 48 hours from sending a notification of sponsorship on behalf of your brand are crucial to speedy campaigns. Be ready to award the sponsorship funds in a timely manner and follow up with a phone call or an email, checking in to see if these funds have been received.

It’s okay to ask when can you expect the sponsorship digital benefits to go live and how to streamline the process for any other deliverables needed to complete the sponsorship.

Applying these simple best practices, our team has been able to run a campaign in a week or less.

Two important concepts to remember about the sponsorship channel from the fulfillment perspective:

  1. It’s difficult to fulfill. If your city project involves any more than two or three sponsorships, you’re in for multiple hours of follow ups, reminders, phone calls, etc. There is the desire from most local organizations to honor their sponsors and keep them happy. That said, we’ve learned that keeping the momentum going serves as an important reminder for the nonprofit. This can involve phone call reminders and emails for links to go live and other benefits to come through. Again, be polite and respectful.
  2. It’s SO worth all the effort though! It shows that your brand cares. A sponsorship campaign is a fantastic way to get in front of your target audience in areas that have a special meaning at a personal level. And not in a broad general scope, but locally. Locally sponsoring a beach cleanup in Santa Monica gives you the opportunity to impact a highly localized audience with a very particular cause in mind that would ultimately affect their everyday life, as opposed to partnering with a huge foundation advocating for clean oceans.

Enhancing a local campaign

Some prefer to use local sponsorships as a link building effort, but there are ways — and ample benefit — to going far beyond the link.

Local event attendance

So, so many local sponsorship campaigns come with the opportunity for event attendance. We currently have 11,345 opportunities in our database (62.2% of our total inventory) that feature events: 5Ks, galas, performances, parades, and even a rubber ducky derby or two! If you’re able to send local team members, find opportunities that match your target audience and test it out — and bring your camera so your social and brand team will have material for publication. If local team members aren’t an option, consider working with a notable and ambitious startup such as Field Day, which can send locals out on behalf of your brand. We’ve spoken with them on several occasions and found them adaptable and wonderful to work with.

Coupons/invitations

One client, FunBrands, used local sponsorships as a way to reach out to locals ahead of stores’ grand re-openings (read the full case study here).

For another client, we created unique coupons for each local organization, using print and social media posts for distribution.

An example coupon — use codes to track attribution back to an event.


Conclusion: Local sponsorships are a channel

Sponsorships are an actionable strategy that contribute to your local rankings, while providing unprecedented opportunities for community engagement and neighborly branding. We hope that this updated guide will provide a strong operational overview along with realistic expectations — and even inspirations — for a local sponsorship campaign in your target cities.

Last but not least: As with all outreach campaigns, please remember to be human. Keep in mind that local engagements are the living extension of your brand in the real world. And if somehow this article wasn’t enough, we just finished up The Local Sponsorship Playbook. Every purchase comes with a 30-minute consultation with the author. We hope everyone chooses to get out, get local, and join the community in the channel that truly benefits everyone.

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MozCon 2018: The Initial Agenda

Posted by Trevor-Klein

With just over three months until MozCon 2018, we’re getting a great picture of what this year’s show will be like, and we can’t wait to share some of the details with you today.

We’ve got 21 speakers lined up (and will be launching our Community Speaker process soon — stay tuned for more details on how to make your pitch!). You’ll see some familiar faces, and some who’ll be on the MozCon stage for the first time, with topics ranging from the evolution of searcher intent to the increasing importance of local SEO, and from navigating bureaucracy for buy-in to cutting the noise out of your reporting.

Topic details and the final agenda are still in the works, but we’re excited enough about the conversations we’ve had with speakers that we wanted to give you a sneak peek. We hope to see you in Seattle this July 9–11!

If you still need your tickets, we’ve got you covered:

Pick up your ticket to MozCon!

The Speakers

Here’s a look at who you’ll see on stage this year, along with some of the topics we’ve already worked out:


Jono Alderson

Mad Scientist, Yoast

The Democratization of SEO

Jono will explore how much time and money we collectively burn by fixing the same kinds of basic, “binary,” well-defined things over and over again (e.g., meta tags, 404s, URLs, etc), when we could be teaching others throughout our organizations not to break them in the first place.

As long as we “own” technical SEO, there’s no reason (for example) for the average developer to learn it or care — so they keep making the same mistakes. We proclaim that others are doing things wrong, but by doing so we only reinforce the line between our skills and theirs.

We need to start giving away bits of the SEO discipline, and technical SEO is probably the easiest thing for us to stop owning.

In his talk, he’ll push for more democratization, education, collaboration, and investment in open source projects so we can fix things once, rather than a million times.


Stephanie Briggs

Partner, Briggsby

Search-Driven Content Strategy

Google’s improvements in understanding language and search intent have changed how and why content ranks. As a result, many SEOs are chasing rankings that Google has already decided are hopeless.

Stephanie will cover how this should impact the way you write and optimize content for search, and will help you identify the right content opportunities. She’ll teach you how to persuade organizations to invest in content, and will share examples of strategies and tactics she has used to grow content programs by millions of visits.


Rob Bucci

CEO, STAT Search Analytics

“Near me” or Far:
How Google May Be Deciding Your Local Intent for You

In August 2017, Google stated that local searches without the “near me” modifier had grown by 150% and that searchers were beginning to drop geo-modifiers — like zip code and neighborhood — from local queries altogether. But does Google still know what searchers are after?

For example: the query [best breakfast places] suggests that quality takes top priority; [breakfast places near me] indicates that close proximity is essential; and [breakfast places in Seattle] seems to cast a city-wide net; while [breakfast places] is largely ambiguous.

By comparing non-geo-modified keywords against those modified with the prepositional phrases “near me” and “in [city name]” and qualifiers like “best,” we hope to understand how Google interprets different levels of local intent and uncover patterns in the types of SERPs produced.

With a better understanding of how local SERPs behave, SEOs can refine keyword lists, tailor content, and build targeted campaigns accordingly.


Neil Crist

VP of Product, Moz

The Local Sweet Spot: Automation Isn’t Enough

Some practitioners of local SEO swear by manual curation, claiming that automation skips over the most important parts. Some swear the exact opposite. The real answer, especially when you’re working at enterprise scale, is a sweet spot in the middle.

In this talk, Neil will show you where that spot is, why different verticals require different work, and some original research that reveals which of those verticals are most stable.


Dana DiTomaso

President and Partner, Kick Point

Traffic vs. Signal

With an ever-increasing slate of options in tools like Google Tag Manager and Google Data Studio, marketers of all stripes are falling prey to the habit of “I’ll collect this data because maybe I’ll need it eventually,” when in reality it’s creating a lot of noise for zero signal.

We’re still approaching our metrics from the organization’s perspective, and not from the customer’s perspective. Why, for example, are we not reporting on (or even thinking about, really) how quickly a customer can do what they need to do? Why are we still fixated on pageviews? In this talk, Dana will focus our attention on what really matters.


Rand Fishkin

Founder, SparkToro, Moz, & Inbound.org

A man who needs no introduction to MozCon, we’re thrilled to announce that Rand will be back on stage this year after founding his new company, SparkToro. Topic development for his talk is in the works; check back for more information!


Oli Gardner

Co-Founder, Unbounce

Content Marketing Is Broken and Only Your M.O.M. Can Save You

Traditional content marketing focuses on educational value at the expense of product value, which is a broken and outdated way of thinking. We all need to sell a product, and our visitors all need a product to improve their lives, but we’re so afraid of being seen as salesy that somehow we got lost, and we forgot why our content even exists.

We need our M.O.M.s!

No, he isn’t talking about your actual mother. He’s talking about your Marketing Optimization Map — your guide to exploring the nuances of optimized content marketing through a product-focused lens.

In this session you’ll learn:

  • Data and lessons learned from his biggest ever content marketing experiment, and how those lessons have changed his approach to content
  • A context-to-content-to-conversion strategy for big content that converts
  • Advanced methods for creating “choose your own adventure” navigational experiences to build event-based behavioral profiles of your visitors (using GTM and GA)
  • Innovative ways to productize and market the technology you already have, with use cases your customers had never considered

Casie Gillette

Senior Director, Digital Marketing, KoMarketing

The Problem with Content & Other Things We Don’t Want to Admit

Everyone thinks they need content but they don’t think about why they need it or what they actually need to create. As a result, we are overwhelmed with poor quality content and marketers are struggling to prove the value.

In this session, we’ll look at some of the key challenges facing marketers today and how a data-driven strategy can help us make better decisions.


Emily Grossman

Mobile Product Marketer & App Strategist

What All Marketers Can Do about Site Speed

At this point, we should all have some idea of how important site speed is to our performance in search. The mobile-first index underscored that fact yet again. It isn’t always easy for marketers to know where to start improving their site’s speed, though, and a lot of folks mistakenly believe they need developers for most of those improvements. Emily will clear that up with an actionable tour of just how much impact our own work can have on getting our sites to load quickly enough for today’s standards.


Russ Jones

Principal Search Scientist, Moz

Lies, Damn Lies, and Statistics

Russ is our principal search scientist here at Moz. After a decade as CTO of an agency, he joined Moz to focus on what he’s most interested in: research and development, primarily related to keyword and link data. He’s responsible for many of our most forward-looking techniques.

At MozCon this year, he’s looking to focus on cutting through bad metrics with far better metrics, exploring the hidden assumptions and errors in things our industry regularly reports, showing us all how we can paint a more accurate picture of what’s going on.


Justine Jordan

VP Marketing, Litmus

A veteran of the MozCon stage, Justine is obsessed with helping marketers create, test, and send better email. Named an Email Marketer Thought Leader of the Year, she is strangely passionate about email marketing, hates being called a spammer, and still gets nervous when pressing send.

At MozCon this year, she’s looking to cover the importance of engagement with emails in today’s world of marketing. With the upcoming arrival of GDPR and the ease with which you can unsubscribe and report spam, it’s more important than ever to treat people like people instead of just leads.


Michael King

Managing Director, iPullRank

You Don’t Know SEO

Or maybe, “SEO you don’t know you don’t know.” We’ve all heard people throw jargon around in an effort to sound smart when they clearly don’t know what it means, and our industry of SEO is no exception. There are aspects of search that are acknowledged as important, but seldom actually understood. Mike will save us from awkward moments, taking complex topics like the esoteric components of information retrieval and log-file analysis, pairing them with a detailed understanding of technical implementation of common SEO recommendations, and transforming them into tools and insights we wish we’d never neglected.


Cindy Krum

CEO & Founder, MobileMoxie

Mobile-First Indexing or a Whole New Google

The emergence of voice-search and Google Assistant is forcing Google to change its model in search, to favor their own entity understanding or the world, so that questions and queries can be answered in context. Many marketers are struggling to understand how their website and their job as an SEO or SEM will change, as searches focus more on entity-understanding, context and action-oriented interaction. This shift can either provide massive opportunities, or create massive threats to your company and your job — the main determining factor is how you choose to prepare for the change.


Dr. Pete Meyers

Marketing Scientist, Moz

Dr. Peter J. Meyers (AKA “Dr. Pete”) is a Marketing Scientist for Seattle-based Moz, where he works with the marketing and data science teams on product research and data-driven content. Guarding the thin line between marketing and data science — which is more like a hallway and pretty wide — he’s the architect behind MozCast, the keeper of the Algo History, and watcher of all things Google.


Britney Muller

Senior SEO Scientist, Moz

Britney is Moz’s senior SEO scientist. An explorer and investigator at heart, she won’t stop digging until she gets to the bottom of some of the most interesting developments in the world of search. You can find her on Whiteboard Friday, and she’s currently polishing a new (and dramatically improved!) version of our Beginner’s Guide to SEO.

At MozCon this year, she’ll show you what she found at the bottom of the rabbit hole to save you the journey.


Lisa Myers

CEO, Verve Search

None of Us Is as Smart as All of Us

Success in SEO, or in any discipline, is frequently reliant on people’s ability to work together. Lisa Myers started Verve Search in 2009, and from the very beginning was convinced of the importance of building a diverse team, then developing and empowering them to find their own solutions.

In this session she’ll share her experiences and offer actionable advice on how to attract, develop and retain the right people in order to build a truly world-class team.


Heather Physioc

Director of Organic Search, VML

Your Red-Tape Toolkit:
How to Win Trust and Get Approval for Search Work

Are your search recommendations overlooked and misunderstood? Do you feel like you hit roadblocks at every turn? Are you worried that people don’t understand the value of your work? Learn how to navigate corporate bureaucracy and cut through red tape to help clients and colleagues understand your search work — and actually get it implemented. From diagnosing client maturity to communicating where search fits into the big picture, these tools will equip you to overcome obstacles to doing your best work.


Mike Ramsey

President, Nifty Marketing

The Awkward State of Local

You know it exists. You know what a citation is, and have a sense for the importance of accurate listings. But with personalization and localization playing an increasing role in every SERP, local can no longer be seen in its own silo — every search and social marketer should be honing their understanding. For that matter, it’s also time for local search marketers to broaden the scope of their work.


Wil Reynolds

Founder & Director of Digital Strategy, Seer Interactive

Excel Is for Rookies:
Why Every Search Marketer Needs to Get Strong in BI, ASAP

The analysts are coming for your job, not AI (at least not yet). Analysts stopped using Excel years ago; they use Tableau, Power BI, Looker! They see more data than you, and that is what is going to make them a threat to your job. They might not know search, but they know data. I’ll document my obsession with Power BI and the insights I can glean in seconds which is helping every single client at Seer at the speed of light. Search marketers must run to this opportunity, as analysts miss out on the insights because more often than not they use these tools to report. We use them to find insights.


Alexis Sanders

Technical SEO Account Manager, Merkle

Alexis works as a Technical SEO Account Manager at Merkle, ensuring the accuracy, feasibility, and scalability of the agency’s technical recommendations across all verticals. You’ve likely seen her on the Moz blog, Search Engine Land, OnCrawl, The Raven Blog, and TechnicalSEO.com. She’s got a knack for getting the entire industry excited about the more technical aspects of SEO, and if you haven’t already, you’ve got to check out the technical SEO challenge she created at https://TechnicalSEO.expert.


Darren Shaw

Founder, Whitespark

At the forefront of local SEO, Darren is obsessed with knowing all there is to know about local search. He organizes and publishes research initiatives such as the annual Local Search Ranking Factors survey and the Local Search Ecosystem.

At MozCon this year, he’ll unveil the newest findings from the Local Search Ranking Factors study, for which he’s already noticing significant changes from the last release, letting SEOs of all stripes know how they need to adjust their approach.


Grab your ticket today!

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The 2018 Local SEO Forecast: 9 Predictions According to Mozzers

Posted by MiriamEllis

It’s February, and we’ve all dipped our toes into the shallow end of the 2018 pool. Today, let’s dive into the deeper waters of the year ahead, with local search marketing predictions from Moz’s Local SEO Subject Matter Expert, our Marketing Scientist, and our SEO & Content Architect. Miriam Ellis, Dr. Peter J. Myers, and Britney Muller weigh in on what your brand should prepare for in the coming months in local.


WOMM, core SEO knowledge, and advice for brands both large and small

Miriam Ellis, Moz Associate & Local SEO SME

LSAs will highlight the value of Google-independence

Word-of-mouth marketing (WOMM) and loyalty initiatives will become increasingly critical to service area business whose results are disrupted by Google’s Local Service Ads. SABs aren’t going to love having to “rent back” their customers from Google, so Google-independent lead channels will have enhanced value. That being said, the first small case study I’ve seen indicates that LSAs may be a winner over traditional Adwords in terms of cost and conversions.

Content will be the omni-channel answer

Content will grow in value, as it is the answer to everything coming our way: voice search, Google Posts, Google Questions & Answers, owner responses, and every stage of the sales funnel. Because of this, agencies which have formerly thought of themselves as strictly local SEO consultants will need to master the fundamentals of organic keyword research and link building, as well as structured data, to offer expert-level advice in the omni-channel environment. Increasingly, clients will need to become “the answer” to queries… and that answer will predominantly reside in content dev.

Retail may downsize but must remain physical

Retail is being turned on its head, with Amazon becoming the “everything store” and the triumphant return of old-school home delivery. Large brands failing to see profits in this new environment will increasingly downsize to the showroom scenario, significantly cutting costs, while also possibly growing sales as personally assisted consumers are dissuaded from store-and-cart abandonment, and upsold on tie-ins. Whether this will be an ultimate solution for shaky brands, I can’t say, but it matters to the local SEO industry because showrooms are, at least, physical locations and therefore eligible for all of the goodies of our traditional campaigns.

SMBs will hold the quality high card

For smaller local brands, emphasis on quality will be the most critical factor. Go for the customers who care about specific attributes (e.g. being truly local, made in the USA, handcrafted, luxury, green, superior value, etc.). Evaluating and perfecting every point of contact with the customer (from how phone calls are assisted, to how online local business data is managed, to who asks for and responds to reviews) matters tremendously. This past year, I’ve watched a taxi driver launch a delivery business on the side, grow to the point where he quit driving a cab, hire additional drivers, and rack up a profusion of 5-star, unbelievably positive reviews, all because his style of customer service is memorably awesome. Small local brands will have the nimbleness and hometown know-how to succeed when quality is what is being sold.


In-pack ads, in-SERP features, and direct-to-website traffic

Dr. Peter J. Meyers, Marketing Scientist at Moz

In-pack ads to increase

Google will get more aggressive about direct local advertising, and in-pack ads will expand. In 2018, I expect local pack ads will not only appear on more queries but will make the leap to desktop SERPs and possibly Google Home.

In-SERP features to grow

Targeted, local SERP features will also expand. Local Service Ads rolled out to more services and cities in 2017, and Google isn’t going to stop there. They’ve shown a clear willingness to create specialized content for both organic and local. For example, 2017 saw Google launch a custom travel portal and jobs portal on the “organic” side, and this trend is accelerating.

Direct-to-website traffic to decline

The push to keep local search traffic in Google properties (i.e. Maps) will continue. Over the past couple of years, we’ve seen local packs go from results that link directly to websites, to having a separate “Website” link to local sites being buried 1–2 layers deep. In some cases, local sites are being almost completely supplanted by local Knowledge Panels, some of which (hotels being a good example) have incredibly rich feature sets. Google wants to deliver local data directly on Google, and direct traffic to local sites from search will continue to decline.


Real-world data and the importance of Google

Britney Muller, SEO & Content Architect at Moz

Relevance drawn from the real world

Real-world data! Google will leverage device and credit card data to get more accurate information on things like foot traffic, current gas prices, repeat customers, length of visits, gender-neutral bathrooms, type of customers, etc. As the most accurate source of business information to date, why wouldn’t they?

Google as one-stop shop

SERPs and Maps (assisted by local business listings) will continue to grow as a one-stop-shop for local business information. Small business websites will still be important, but are more likely to serve as a data source as opposed to the only place to get their business information, in addition to more in-depth data like the above.


Google as friend or foe? Looking at these expert predictions, that’s a question local businesses of all sizes will need to continue to ask in 2018. Perhaps the best answer is “neither.” Google represents opportunity for brands that know how to play the game well. Companies that put the consumer first are likely to stand strong, no matter how the nuances of digital marketing shift, and education will remain the key to mastery in the year ahead.

What do you think? Any hunches about the year ahead? Let us know in the comments.

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MozCon 2018: Making the Case for the Conference (& All the Snacks!)

Posted by Danielle_Launders

You’ve got that conference looming on the horizon. You want to go — you’ve spent the past few years desperately following hashtags on Twitter, memorizing catchy quotes, zooming in on grainy snapshots of a deck, and furiously downloading anything and everything you can scour from Slideshare.

But there’s a problem: conferences cost money, and your boss won’t even approve a Keurig in the communal kitchen, much less a ticket to a three-day-long learning sesh complete with its own travel and lodging expenses.

What’s an education-hungry digital marketer to do?

How do you convince your boss to send you to the conference of your dreams?

First of all, you gather evidence to make your case.

There are a plethora of excellent reasons why attending conferences is good for your career (and your bottom line). In digital marketing, we exist in the ever-changing tech space, hurtling toward the future at breakneck speed and often missing the details of the scenery along the way.

A good SEO conference will keep you both on the edge of your seat and on the cutting-edge of what’s new and noteworthy in our industry, highlighting some of the most important and impactful things your work depends on.

A good SEO conference will flip a switch for you, will trigger that lightbulb moment that empowers you and levels you up as both a marketer and a critical thinker.

If that doesn’t paint a beautiful enough picture to convince the folks that hold the credit card, though, there are also some great statistics and resources available:

Specifically, we’re talking about MozCon

Yes, that MozCon!

Let’s just take a moment to address the elephant in the room here: you all know why we wrote this post. We want to see your smiling face in the audience at MozCon this July (the 9th–11th, if you were wondering). There are a few specific benefits worth mentioning:

  • Speakers and content: Our speakers bring their A-game each year. We work with them to bring the best content and latest trends to the stage to help set you up for a year of success.
  • Videos to share with your team: About a month or so after the conference, we’ll send you a link to professionally edited videos of every presentation at the conference. Your colleagues won’t get to partake in the morning Top Pot doughnuts or Starbucks coffee, but they will get a chance to learn everything you did, for free.
  • Great food onsite: We understand that conference food isn’t typically worth mentioning, but at MozCon you can expect snacks from local Seattle vendors – in the past this includes Trophy cupcakes, KuKuRuZa popcorn, Starbucks’ Seattle Reserve cold brew, and did we mention bacon at breakfast? Let’s not forget the bacon.
  • Swag: Expect to go home with a one-of-a-kind Roger Mozbot, a super-soft t-shirt from American Apparel, and swag worth keeping. We’ve given away Roger Legos, Moleskine notebooks, phone chargers, and have even had vending machines with additional swag in case you didn’t get enough.
  • Networking: You work hard taking notes, learning new insights, and digesting all of that knowledge — that’s why we think you deserve a little fun in the evenings to chat with fellow attendees. Each night after the conference, we’ll offer a different networking event that adds to the value you’ll get from your day of education.
  • A supportive network after the fact: Our MozCon Facebook group is incredibly active, and it’s grown to have a life of its own — marketers ask one another SEO questions, post jobs, look for and offer advice and empathy, and more. It’s a great place to find TAGFEE support and camaraderie long after the conference itself has ended.
  • Discounts for subscribers and groups: Moz Pro subscribers get a whopping $ 500 off their ticket cost (even if you’re on a free 30-day trial!) and there are discounts for groups as well, so make sure to take advantage of savings where you can!
  • Ticket cost: At MozCon our goal is to break even, which means we invest all of your ticket price back into you. Check out the full breakdown below:

Can you tell we’re serious about the snacks?

You can check out videos from years past to get a taste for the caliber of our speakers. We’ll also be putting out a call for community speaker pitches in April, so if you’ve been thinking about breaking into the speaking circuit, it could be an amazing opportunity — keep an eye on the blog for your chance to submit a pitch.

If you’ve ever seriously considered attending an SEO conference like MozCon, now’s the time to do it. You’ll save actual hundreds of dollars by grabbing subscriber or group pricing while you can (think of all the Keurigs you could get for that communal kitchen!), and you’ll be bound for an unforgettable experience that lives and grows with you beyond just the three days you spend in Seattle.

Grab your ticket to MozCon!

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A Look Back at a Great 2017: 5 Major Moz Product Investments and a Sneak Peek Into 2018

Posted by adamf

It’s hard to believe that 2017 is already past. We entered the year with big ambitions and we’ve made some great strides. As has become tradition, I’ve compiled a rundown of some of the most interesting updates that you may have seen (or missed) this past year. We’ve intentionally focused on significant product updates, but I’ve also shared a little about some newer programs that provide value for customers in different ways.

TL;DR, here are some of the larger and more interesting additions to Moz in 2017:

  1. Keywords by Site: Keyword Explorer adds site-based keyword research and competitive intelligence
  2. Site Crawl V2: Overhauled Site Crawl for better auditing and workflow
  3. Major investments in infrastructure: Better performance and resilience across the Moz toolset
  4. New instructor-led training programs: Targeted classes to level-up your SEO knowledge
  5. Customer Success: Custom walkthroughs to help you get the most out of Moz
  6. Bonus! MozPod: Moz’s new free podcast keeps you up to date on the latest industry topics and trends

Big updates

This year and last, we’ve been spending a disproportionate focus on releasing large infrastructural improvements, new datasets, and foundational product updates. We feel these are crucial elements that serve the core needs of SEOs and will fuel frequent improvements and iterations for years to come.

To kick things off, I wanted to share some details about two big updates from 2017.


1) Keywords by Site: Leveling up keyword research and intelligence

Rank tracking provides useful benchmarks and insights for specific, targeted keywords, but you can’t track all of the keywords that are relevant to you. Sometimes you need a broader look at how visible your sites (and your competitors’ sites) are in Google results.

We built Keywords by Site to provide this powerful view into your Google presence. This brand-new dataset in Moz significantly extends Keyword Explorer and improves the quality of results in many other areas throughout Moz Pro. Our US corpus currently includes 40 million Google SERPs updated every two weeks, and allows you to do the following:

See how visible your site is in Google results

This view not only shows how authoritative a site is from a linking perspective, but also shows how prominent a site is in Google search results.

Compare your ranking prominence to your competitors

Compare up to three sites to get a feel for their relative scale of visibility and keyword ranking overlap. Click on any section in the Venn diagram to view the keywords that fall into that section.

Dig deep: Sort, filter, and find opportunities, then stash them in keyword lists

For example, let’s say you’re looking to determine which pages or content on your site might only require a little nudge to garner meaningful search visibility and traffic. Run a report for your site in Keyword Explorer and then use the filters to quickly hone in on these opportunities:

Our focus on data quality

We’ve made a few decisions to help ensure the freshness and accuracy of our keyword corpus. These extend the cost and work to maintain this dataset, but we feel they make a discernible difference in quality.

  • We recollect all of our keyword data every 2 weeks. This means that the results you see are more recent and more similar to the results on the day that you’re researching.
  • We cycle up to 15 million of our keywords out on a monthly basis. This means that as new keywords or terms trend up in popularity, we add them to our corpus, replacing terms that are no longer getting much search volume.

A few improvements we’ve made since launch:

  • Keyword recommendations in your campaigns (tracked sites) are much improved and now backed by our keyword corpus.
  • These keyword suggestions are also included in your weekly insights, suggesting new keywords worth tracking and pages worth optimizing.
  • Coming very soon: We’re also on the cusp of launching keyword corpuses for the UK, Canada, and Australia. Stay tuned.

A few resources to help you get more from Keywords by Site:

Try out Keywords by Site!


2) Site Crawl V2: Big enhancements to site crawling and auditing

Another significant project we completed in 2017 was a complete rewrite of our aging Site Crawler. In short, our new crawler is faster, more reliable, can crawl more pages, and surfaces more issues. We’ve also made some enhancements to the workflow, to make regular crawls more customizable and easy to manage. Here are a few highlights:

Week-over-week crawl comparisons

Our new crawler keeps tabs on what happened in your previous crawl to show you which specific issues are no longer present, and which are brand new.

Ignore (to hide) individual issues or whole issue types

This feature was added in response to a bunch of customer requests. While Moz does its best to call out the issues and priorities that apply to most sites, not all sites or SEOs have the same needs. For example, if you regularly noindex a big portion of your site, you don’t need us to keep reminding you that you’ve applied noindex to a huge number of pages. If you don’t want them showing your reports, just ignore individual issues or the entire issue type.

Another workflow improvement we added was the ability to mark an issue as fixed. This allows you to get it out of your way until the next crawl runs and verifies the fix.

All Pages view with improved sorting and filtering

If you’re prioritizing across a large number of pages or trying to track down an issue in a certain area of your site, you can now sort all pages crawled by Issue Count, Page Authority, or Crawl Depth. You can also filter to show, for instance, all pages in the /blog section of my site that are redirects, and have a crawl issue.

Recrawl to verify fixes

Moz’s crawler monitors your site by crawling it every week. But if you’ve made some changes and want to verify them, you can now recrawl your site in between regular weekly crawls instead of waiting for the next crawl the start.

Seven new issues checked and tracked

These include such favorites as detecting Thin Content, Redirect Chains, and Slow Pages. While we were at it, we revamped duplicate page detection and improved the UI to help you better analyze clusters of duplicate content and figure out which page should be canonical.

A few resources to help you get more from Site Crawl:


3) Major investments in infrastructure for performance and resilience

You may not have directly noticed many of the updates we’ve made this year. We made some significant investments in Moz Pro and Moz Local to make them faster, more reliable, and allow us to build new features more quickly. But here are a few tangible manifestations of these efforts:

“Infinite” history on organic Moz Pro search traffic reports

Okay, infinite is a bit of a stretch, but we used to only show the last 12 months or weeks of data. Now we’ll show data from the very inception of a campaign, broken down by weeks or months. This is made possible by an updated architecture that makes full historical data easy to surface and present in the application. It also allows for custom access to selected date ranges.

Also worth noting is that the new visualization shows how many different pages were receiving organic search traffic in context with total organic search traffic. This can help you figure out whether traffic increase was due to improved rankings across many pages, or just a spike in organic traffic for one or a few pages.

More timely and reliable access to Moz Local data at all scales

As Moz Local has brought on more and bigger customers with large numbers of locations, the team discovered a need to bolster systems for speed and reliability. A completely rebuilt scheduling system and improved core location data systems help ensure all of your data is collected and easy to access when you need it.

Improved local data distribution

Moz Local distributes your location data through myriad partners, each of which have their own formats and interfaces. The Local team updated and fine-tuned those third-party connections to improve the quality of the data and speed of distribution.


4) New instructor-led training programs: Never stop learning

Not all of our improvements this year have shown up in the product. Another investment we’ve made is in training. We’ve gotten a lot of requests for this over the years and are finally delivering. Brian Childs, our trainer extraordinaire, has built this program from the ground up. It includes:

  • Boot camps to build up core skills
  • Advanced Seminars to dig into more intensive topics
  • Custom Training for businesses that want a more tailored approach

We have even more ambitious plans for 2018, so if training interests you, check out all of our training offerings here.


5) Customer Success: Helping customers get the most out of Moz

Our customer success program took off this year and has one core purpose: to help customers get maximum value from Moz. Whether you’re a long-time customer looking to explore new features or you’re brand new to Moz and figuring out how to get started, our success team offers product webinars every week, as well as one-on-one product walkthroughs tailored to your needs, interests, and experience level.

The US members of our customer success team hone their skills at a local chocolate factory (Not pictured: our fantastic team members in the UK, Australia, and Dubai)

If you want to learn more about Moz Pro, check out a webinar or schedule a walkthrough.


Bonus! MozPod: Moz’s new free podcast made its debut

Okay, this really strays from product news, but another fun project that’s been gaining momentum is MozPod. This came about as a side passion project by our ever-ambitious head trainer. Lord knows that SEO and digital marketing are fast-moving and ever-changing; to help you keep up on hot topics and new developments, we’ve started the Mozpod. This podcast covers a range of topics, drawing from the brains of key folks in the industry. With topics ranging from structured data and app store optimization to machine learning and even blockchain, there’s always something interesting to learn about. If you’ve got an idea for an episode or a topic you’d like to hear about, submit it here.

Join Brian every week for a new topic and guest:


What’s next?

We have a lot planned for 2018 — probably way too much. But one thing I can promise is that it won’t be a dull year. I prefer not to get too specific about projects that we’ve not yet started, but here are a few things already in the works:

  • A significant upgrade to our link data and toolset
  • On-demand Site Crawl
  • Added keyword research corpuses for the UK, Australia, and Canada
  • Expanded distribution channels for local to include Facebook, Waze, and Uber
  • More measurement and analytics features around local rankings, categories, & keywords
  • Verticalized solutions to address specific local search needs in the restaurant, hospitality, financial, legal, & medical sectors

On top of these and many other features we’re considering, we also plan to make it a lot easier for you to use our products. Right now, we know it can be a bit disjointed within and between products. We plan to change that.

We’ve also waited too long to solve for some specific needs of our agency customers. We’re prioritizing some key projects that’ll make their jobs easier and their relationships with Moz more valuable.


Thank you!

Before I go, I just want to thank you all for sharing your support, suggestions, and critical feedback. We strive to build the best SEO data and platform for our diverse and passionate customers. We could not succeed without you. If you’d like to be a part of making Moz a better platform, please let us know. We often reach out to customers and community members for feedback and insight, so if you’re the type who likes to participate in user research studies, customer interviews, beta tests, or surveys, please volunteer here.

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


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What Does It Mean to "Write for SEO" in 2018? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes” — it’s a quote that’s actually quite applicable when it comes to writing for SEO. Much of the advice given to copywriters, journalists, editors, and other content creators for SEO writing is dangerously out of date, leaning on practices that were once tried and true but that could now get your site penalized.

In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we hope you enjoy a brief history lesson on what should be avoided, what used to work and no longer does, and a brief 5-step process you should start using today for writing content that’ll get you to the front of the SERPs.

Write for SEO in 2018

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about writing for SEO and what that means in 2018.

So writing for SEO has had a long history, and it meant something many years ago that it does not mean today. Unfortunately, I see a lot of bad advice, terrible advice out there for journalists and editors and authors of all kinds about what you need to do in terms of writing for SEO, meaning writing to get you to the top of search engines.

“Writing for SEO” in 2001

Now, let’s be clear, some of this stuff is mired in pure mythology. But some of it is mired in historical fact that just hasn’t been updated. So let’s talk about what writing for SEO used to be back in 2001, how it evolved in sort of the middle era of 2008, let’s say, and then what it means today in 2018.

So, back in the day, writing for SEO did mean things like…

I. Keyword stuffing

If you wanted to rank highly in early search engines, especially the late ’90s into the early 2000s, keyword stuffing was a real tactic that really did have effectiveness. So SEOs would cram keywords into all sorts of tags and locations.

II. They would use and reuse a bunch of different variants, slight keyword variants

So if I’m targeting the word blue watches, I would have blue watch, blue watches, blue watch accessory, blue watch accessories, blue watches accessory, blue watches accessories, ridiculous little variants on plurals because the search engines were not great at figuring out that all these things sort of had the same intent and meant the same thing. So raw, rough keyword matching, exact keyword matching was part of SEO.

III. Keyword use in every tag possible

If there was a tag, you’d cram keywords into it.

IV. Domain name and subdomain keyword use

So this is why you saw that brands would be outranked by, to use our example, blue-watch-accessories.bluewatchaccessories.info, that kind of silly stuff would be ranking. Some of it even maintained for a while.

V. SEO writing was writing for engines and then trying not to annoy or piss off users

So, a lot of the time, people would want to cloak. They’d want to show one set of content to the search engines and another set to searchers, to actual users, because they knew that if they showed this dense, keyword-stuffed content to users, they’d be turned off and they wouldn’t find it credible and they’d go somewhere else.

“Writing for SEO” in 2008

2008, we evolve on a bunch of these fronts, but not all of them and certainly not perfectly.

I. Keywords are still important in important locations

II. Exact matching still matters in a lot of places. So people were crafting unique pages even for keywords that shared the same intent.

Blue watches and blue timepieces might have two different pages. Blue watch and blue watches could even have two separate pages and do effectively well in 2008. 2018, that’s not the case anymore.

III. Domain names were definitely less powerful, subdomains more so, but still influential

They still had some play in the engines. You still saw a lot of debates back in ’08 about whether to create a keyword-rich domain.

IV. Since links in 2008 were overwhelmingly powerful rather than on-page signals, writing in order to get links is incredibly prized

In fact, it still is, but we’ll talk about the evolution of that a little bit.

“Writing for SEO” in 2018

So now let’s jump another decade forward. We’re in 2018. This year, what does writing for SEO mean? Well, a bunch of things.

I. Solving the searcher’s query matter most — writing that doesn’t do this tends not to rank well (for long)

Because engines have gotten so much better, Google in particular, but Bing as well, have gotten so much better at essentially optimizing for solving the searcher’s task, helping them accomplish the thing that they wanted to accomplish, the writing that does the best job of solving the searcher’s task tends to be the most highly prized. Stuff that doesn’t, writing that doesn’t do that, doesn’t tend to rank well, doesn’t tend to rank for long. You can sometimes get to the top of the search results, but you will almost certainly invariably be taken out by someone who does a great job of solving the searcher’s query.

II. Intent matching matters a lot more in 2018 than exact keyword matching.

Today, no credible SEO would tell you to create a page for blue watch and blue watches or blue watch accessories and blue watch accessory or even blue timepieces and blue watches, maybe if you’re targeting clocks too. In this case, it’s really about figuring out what is the searcher’s intent. If many keywords share the same intent, you know what? We’re going to go ahead and create a single page that serves that intent and all of the keywords or at least many of the keywords that that intent is represented by.

III. Only a few tags are still absolutely crucial to doing SEO correctly.

So SEO writing today, there are really only two that are not very fungible. Those are the title element and the body content. That’s not to say that you can’t rank without using the keyword in these two places, just that it would be inadvisable to do so. This is both because of search engines and also because of searchers. When you see the keyword that you search for in the title element of the page in the search results, you are more inclined to click on it than if you don’t see it. So it’s possible that some click-baity headline could outrank a keyword-rich headline. But the best SEO writers are mixing both of those. We have a Whiteboard Friday about headline writing on just that topic.

A few other ones, however, a few other tags are nice to have in 2018 still. Those include:

Headline tags (the H1, the H2),

URL field, so if you can make your URL include the words and phrases that people are searching for, that is mildly helpful. It’s both helpful for searchers who see the URL and would think, “Oh, okay, that is referring to the thing that I want,” as well as for people who copy and paste the URL and share it with each other, or people who link with the URL and, thus, the anchor text is carried across by that URL and those keywords in there.

The meta description, not used for rankings, but it is read by searchers. When they see a meta description that includes the words and phrases that they’ve queried, they are more likely to think this will be a relevant result and more likely to click it. More clicks, as long as the engagement is high, tends to mean better rankings.

The image alt attribute, which is helpful both for regular search results, but particularly helpful for Google Images, which, as you may know from watching Whiteboard Friday, Google Images gets a tremendous amount of search traffic even on its own.

IV. Employing words, phrases, and concepts that Google’s identified as sort of commonly associated with the query

This can provide a significant boost. We’ve seen some really interesting experimentation on this front, where folks will essentially take a piece of content, add in missing words and phrases that other pages that are highly ranking in Google have associated with those correct words and phrases.

In our example, I frequently use “New York neighborhoods,” and a page that’s missing words like Brooklyn, Harlem, Manhattan, Staten Island, that’s weird, right? Google is going to be much more likely to rank the page that includes these borough names than one that doesn’t for that particular query, because they’ve learned to associate that text with relevance for the query “New York neighborhoods.”

What I do want to make clear here is this does not mean LSI or some other particular tactic. LSI is an old-school, I think late ’80s, early ’90s computer tactic, software tactic for identifying words that are semantically connected to each other. There’s no reason you have to use this old-school junk methodology that became like pseudoscience in the SEO world and had a recent revival. But you should be using words and phrases that Google has related to a particular keyword. Related topics is a great thing to do. You can find some via the Moz Bar. We did a Whiteboard Friday on related topics, so you can check that out.

V. The user experience of the writing and content matters more than ever, and that is due to engagement metrics

Essentially, Google is able to see that people who click on a particular result are less likely to click the back button and choose a different result or more likely to stay on that page or site and engage further with that content and solve their whole task. That is a good sign to Google, and they want to rank more of those.

A brief “SEO writing” process for 2018

So, pragmatically, what does this history and evolution mean? Well, I think we can craft a brief sort of SEO writing process for 2018 from this. This is what I recommend. If you can do nothing else, do these five steps when you are writing for SEO, and you will tend to have more success than most of your competition.

Step 1: Assemble all the keywords that a page is targeting

So there should be a list of them. They should all share the same intent. You get all those keywords listed out.

Step 2: You list what the searchers are actually trying to accomplish when they search those queries

So someone searched for blue watches. What do they want? Information about them, they want to see different models, they want to know who makes them, they want to buy them, they want to see what the costs are like, they want to see where they can get them online, probably all of those things. Those are the intents behind those queries.

Step 3: Create a visual layout

Here’s going to be our headline. Here’s our subheadline. We’re going to put this important key concept up at the top in a callout box. We’re going to have this crucial visual next up. This is how we’re going to address all of those searcher intents on the page visually with content, written or otherwise.

Step 4: Write first and then go add the keywords and the crucial, related terms, phrases, top concepts, topics that you want into the page

The ones that will hopefully help boost your SEO, rather than writing first with the keywords and topics in mind. You can have a little bit of that, but this would be what I suggest.

Step 5: Craft the hook, the hook that will make influential people and publications in this space likely to amplify, likely to link

Because, in 2018, links still do matter, still are an important part of SEO.

If you follow this and learn from this history, I think you’ll do a much better job, generally speaking, of writing for SEO than a lot of the common wisdom out there. All right, everyone. Look forward to your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

What Does It Mean to "Write for SEO" in 2018? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes” — it’s a quote that’s actually quite applicable when it comes to writing for SEO. Much of the advice given to copywriters, journalists, editors, and other content creators for SEO writing is dangerously out of date, leaning on practices that were once tried and true but that could now get your site penalized.

In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we hope you enjoy a brief history lesson on what should be avoided, what used to work and no longer does, and a brief 5-step process you should start using today for writing content that’ll get you to the front of the SERPs.

Write for SEO in 2018

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about writing for SEO and what that means in 2018.

So writing for SEO has had a long history, and it meant something many years ago that it does not mean today. Unfortunately, I see a lot of bad advice, terrible advice out there for journalists and editors and authors of all kinds about what you need to do in terms of writing for SEO, meaning writing to get you to the top of search engines.

“Writing for SEO” in 2001

Now, let’s be clear, some of this stuff is mired in pure mythology. But some of it is mired in historical fact that just hasn’t been updated. So let’s talk about what writing for SEO used to be back in 2001, how it evolved in sort of the middle era of 2008, let’s say, and then what it means today in 2018.

So, back in the day, writing for SEO did mean things like…

I. Keyword stuffing

If you wanted to rank highly in early search engines, especially the late ’90s into the early 2000s, keyword stuffing was a real tactic that really did have effectiveness. So SEOs would cram keywords into all sorts of tags and locations.

II. They would use and reuse a bunch of different variants, slight keyword variants

So if I’m targeting the word blue watches, I would have blue watch, blue watches, blue watch accessory, blue watch accessories, blue watches accessory, blue watches accessories, ridiculous little variants on plurals because the search engines were not great at figuring out that all these things sort of had the same intent and meant the same thing. So raw, rough keyword matching, exact keyword matching was part of SEO.

III. Keyword use in every tag possible

If there was a tag, you’d cram keywords into it.

IV. Domain name and subdomain keyword use

So this is why you saw that brands would be outranked by, to use our example, blue-watch-accessories.bluewatchaccessories.info, that kind of silly stuff would be ranking. Some of it even maintained for a while.

V. SEO writing was writing for engines and then trying not to annoy or piss off users

So, a lot of the time, people would want to cloak. They’d want to show one set of content to the search engines and another set to searchers, to actual users, because they knew that if they showed this dense, keyword-stuffed content to users, they’d be turned off and they wouldn’t find it credible and they’d go somewhere else.

“Writing for SEO” in 2008

2008, we evolve on a bunch of these fronts, but not all of them and certainly not perfectly.

I. Keywords are still important in important locations

II. Exact matching still matters in a lot of places. So people were crafting unique pages even for keywords that shared the same intent.

Blue watches and blue timepieces might have two different pages. Blue watch and blue watches could even have two separate pages and do effectively well in 2008. 2018, that’s not the case anymore.

III. Domain names were definitely less powerful, subdomains more so, but still influential

They still had some play in the engines. You still saw a lot of debates back in ’08 about whether to create a keyword-rich domain.

IV. Since links in 2008 were overwhelmingly powerful rather than on-page signals, writing in order to get links is incredibly prized

In fact, it still is, but we’ll talk about the evolution of that a little bit.

“Writing for SEO” in 2018

So now let’s jump another decade forward. We’re in 2018. This year, what does writing for SEO mean? Well, a bunch of things.

I. Solving the searcher’s query matter most — writing that doesn’t do this tends not to rank well (for long)

Because engines have gotten so much better, Google in particular, but Bing as well, have gotten so much better at essentially optimizing for solving the searcher’s task, helping them accomplish the thing that they wanted to accomplish, the writing that does the best job of solving the searcher’s task tends to be the most highly prized. Stuff that doesn’t, writing that doesn’t do that, doesn’t tend to rank well, doesn’t tend to rank for long. You can sometimes get to the top of the search results, but you will almost certainly invariably be taken out by someone who does a great job of solving the searcher’s query.

II. Intent matching matters a lot more in 2018 than exact keyword matching.

Today, no credible SEO would tell you to create a page for blue watch and blue watches or blue watch accessories and blue watch accessory or even blue timepieces and blue watches, maybe if you’re targeting clocks too. In this case, it’s really about figuring out what is the searcher’s intent. If many keywords share the same intent, you know what? We’re going to go ahead and create a single page that serves that intent and all of the keywords or at least many of the keywords that that intent is represented by.

III. Only a few tags are still absolutely crucial to doing SEO correctly.

So SEO writing today, there are really only two that are not very fungible. Those are the title element and the body content. That’s not to say that you can’t rank without using the keyword in these two places, just that it would be inadvisable to do so. This is both because of search engines and also because of searchers. When you see the keyword that you search for in the title element of the page in the search results, you are more inclined to click on it than if you don’t see it. So it’s possible that some click-baity headline could outrank a keyword-rich headline. But the best SEO writers are mixing both of those. We have a Whiteboard Friday about headline writing on just that topic.

A few other ones, however, a few other tags are nice to have in 2018 still. Those include:

Headline tags (the H1, the H2),

URL field, so if you can make your URL include the words and phrases that people are searching for, that is mildly helpful. It’s both helpful for searchers who see the URL and would think, “Oh, okay, that is referring to the thing that I want,” as well as for people who copy and paste the URL and share it with each other, or people who link with the URL and, thus, the anchor text is carried across by that URL and those keywords in there.

The meta description, not used for rankings, but it is read by searchers. When they see a meta description that includes the words and phrases that they’ve queried, they are more likely to think this will be a relevant result and more likely to click it. More clicks, as long as the engagement is high, tends to mean better rankings.

The image alt attribute, which is helpful both for regular search results, but particularly helpful for Google Images, which, as you may know from watching Whiteboard Friday, Google Images gets a tremendous amount of search traffic even on its own.

IV. Employing words, phrases, and concepts that Google’s identified as sort of commonly associated with the query

This can provide a significant boost. We’ve seen some really interesting experimentation on this front, where folks will essentially take a piece of content, add in missing words and phrases that other pages that are highly ranking in Google have associated with those correct words and phrases.

In our example, I frequently use “New York neighborhoods,” and a page that’s missing words like Brooklyn, Harlem, Manhattan, Staten Island, that’s weird, right? Google is going to be much more likely to rank the page that includes these borough names than one that doesn’t for that particular query, because they’ve learned to associate that text with relevance for the query “New York neighborhoods.”

What I do want to make clear here is this does not mean LSI or some other particular tactic. LSI is an old-school, I think late ’80s, early ’90s computer tactic, software tactic for identifying words that are semantically connected to each other. There’s no reason you have to use this old-school junk methodology that became like pseudoscience in the SEO world and had a recent revival. But you should be using words and phrases that Google has related to a particular keyword. Related topics is a great thing to do. You can find some via the Moz Bar. We did a Whiteboard Friday on related topics, so you can check that out.

V. The user experience of the writing and content matters more than ever, and that is due to engagement metrics

Essentially, Google is able to see that people who click on a particular result are less likely to click the back button and choose a different result or more likely to stay on that page or site and engage further with that content and solve their whole task. That is a good sign to Google, and they want to rank more of those.

A brief “SEO writing” process for 2018

So, pragmatically, what does this history and evolution mean? Well, I think we can craft a brief sort of SEO writing process for 2018 from this. This is what I recommend. If you can do nothing else, do these five steps when you are writing for SEO, and you will tend to have more success than most of your competition.

Step 1: Assemble all the keywords that a page is targeting

So there should be a list of them. They should all share the same intent. You get all those keywords listed out.

Step 2: You list what the searchers are actually trying to accomplish when they search those queries

So someone searched for blue watches. What do they want? Information about them, they want to see different models, they want to know who makes them, they want to buy them, they want to see what the costs are like, they want to see where they can get them online, probably all of those things. Those are the intents behind those queries.

Step 3: Create a visual layout

Here’s going to be our headline. Here’s our subheadline. We’re going to put this important key concept up at the top in a callout box. We’re going to have this crucial visual next up. This is how we’re going to address all of those searcher intents on the page visually with content, written or otherwise.

Step 4: Write first and then go add the keywords and the crucial, related terms, phrases, top concepts, topics that you want into the page

The ones that will hopefully help boost your SEO, rather than writing first with the keywords and topics in mind. You can have a little bit of that, but this would be what I suggest.

Step 5: Craft the hook, the hook that will make influential people and publications in this space likely to amplify, likely to link

Because, in 2018, links still do matter, still are an important part of SEO.

If you follow this and learn from this history, I think you’ll do a much better job, generally speaking, of writing for SEO than a lot of the common wisdom out there. All right, everyone. Look forward to your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!


Moz Blog

Related Articles

Posted in Latest NewsComments Off

What Does It Mean to "Write for SEO" in 2018? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

“Those who do not learn from history are doomed to repeat its mistakes” — it’s a quote that’s actually quite applicable when it comes to writing for SEO. Much of the advice given to copywriters, journalists, editors, and other content creators for SEO writing is dangerously out of date, leaning on practices that were once tried and true but that could now get your site penalized.

In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we hope you enjoy a brief history lesson on what should be avoided, what used to work and no longer does, and a brief 5-step process you should start using today for writing content that’ll get you to the front of the SERPs.

Write for SEO in 2018

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!


Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re chatting about writing for SEO and what that means in 2018.

So writing for SEO has had a long history, and it meant something many years ago that it does not mean today. Unfortunately, I see a lot of bad advice, terrible advice out there for journalists and editors and authors of all kinds about what you need to do in terms of writing for SEO, meaning writing to get you to the top of search engines.

“Writing for SEO” in 2001

Now, let’s be clear, some of this stuff is mired in pure mythology. But some of it is mired in historical fact that just hasn’t been updated. So let’s talk about what writing for SEO used to be back in 2001, how it evolved in sort of the middle era of 2008, let’s say, and then what it means today in 2018.

So, back in the day, writing for SEO did mean things like…

I. Keyword stuffing

If you wanted to rank highly in early search engines, especially the late ’90s into the early 2000s, keyword stuffing was a real tactic that really did have effectiveness. So SEOs would cram keywords into all sorts of tags and locations.

II. They would use and reuse a bunch of different variants, slight keyword variants

So if I’m targeting the word blue watches, I would have blue watch, blue watches, blue watch accessory, blue watch accessories, blue watches accessory, blue watches accessories, ridiculous little variants on plurals because the search engines were not great at figuring out that all these things sort of had the same intent and meant the same thing. So raw, rough keyword matching, exact keyword matching was part of SEO.

III. Keyword use in every tag possible

If there was a tag, you’d cram keywords into it.

IV. Domain name and subdomain keyword use

So this is why you saw that brands would be outranked by, to use our example, blue-watch-accessories.bluewatchaccessories.info, that kind of silly stuff would be ranking. Some of it even maintained for a while.

V. SEO writing was writing for engines and then trying not to annoy or piss off users

So, a lot of the time, people would want to cloak. They’d want to show one set of content to the search engines and another set to searchers, to actual users, because they knew that if they showed this dense, keyword-stuffed content to users, they’d be turned off and they wouldn’t find it credible and they’d go somewhere else.

“Writing for SEO” in 2008

2008, we evolve on a bunch of these fronts, but not all of them and certainly not perfectly.

I. Keywords are still important in important locations

II. Exact matching still matters in a lot of places. So people were crafting unique pages even for keywords that shared the same intent.

Blue watches and blue timepieces might have two different pages. Blue watch and blue watches could even have two separate pages and do effectively well in 2008. 2018, that’s not the case anymore.

III. Domain names were definitely less powerful, subdomains more so, but still influential

They still had some play in the engines. You still saw a lot of debates back in ’08 about whether to create a keyword-rich domain.

IV. Since links in 2008 were overwhelmingly powerful rather than on-page signals, writing in order to get links is incredibly prized

In fact, it still is, but we’ll talk about the evolution of that a little bit.

“Writing for SEO” in 2018

So now let’s jump another decade forward. We’re in 2018. This year, what does writing for SEO mean? Well, a bunch of things.

I. Solving the searcher’s query matter most — writing that doesn’t do this tends not to rank well (for long)

Because engines have gotten so much better, Google in particular, but Bing as well, have gotten so much better at essentially optimizing for solving the searcher’s task, helping them accomplish the thing that they wanted to accomplish, the writing that does the best job of solving the searcher’s task tends to be the most highly prized. Stuff that doesn’t, writing that doesn’t do that, doesn’t tend to rank well, doesn’t tend to rank for long. You can sometimes get to the top of the search results, but you will almost certainly invariably be taken out by someone who does a great job of solving the searcher’s query.

II. Intent matching matters a lot more in 2018 than exact keyword matching.

Today, no credible SEO would tell you to create a page for blue watch and blue watches or blue watch accessories and blue watch accessory or even blue timepieces and blue watches, maybe if you’re targeting clocks too. In this case, it’s really about figuring out what is the searcher’s intent. If many keywords share the same intent, you know what? We’re going to go ahead and create a single page that serves that intent and all of the keywords or at least many of the keywords that that intent is represented by.

III. Only a few tags are still absolutely crucial to doing SEO correctly.

So SEO writing today, there are really only two that are not very fungible. Those are the title element and the body content. That’s not to say that you can’t rank without using the keyword in these two places, just that it would be inadvisable to do so. This is both because of search engines and also because of searchers. When you see the keyword that you search for in the title element of the page in the search results, you are more inclined to click on it than if you don’t see it. So it’s possible that some click-baity headline could outrank a keyword-rich headline. But the best SEO writers are mixing both of those. We have a Whiteboard Friday about headline writing on just that topic.

A few other ones, however, a few other tags are nice to have in 2018 still. Those include:

Headline tags (the H1, the H2),

URL field, so if you can make your URL include the words and phrases that people are searching for, that is mildly helpful. It’s both helpful for searchers who see the URL and would think, “Oh, okay, that is referring to the thing that I want,” as well as for people who copy and paste the URL and share it with each other, or people who link with the URL and, thus, the anchor text is carried across by that URL and those keywords in there.

The meta description, not used for rankings, but it is read by searchers. When they see a meta description that includes the words and phrases that they’ve queried, they are more likely to think this will be a relevant result and more likely to click it. More clicks, as long as the engagement is high, tends to mean better rankings.

The image alt attribute, which is helpful both for regular search results, but particularly helpful for Google Images, which, as you may know from watching Whiteboard Friday, Google Images gets a tremendous amount of search traffic even on its own.

IV. Employing words, phrases, and concepts that Google’s identified as sort of commonly associated with the query

This can provide a significant boost. We’ve seen some really interesting experimentation on this front, where folks will essentially take a piece of content, add in missing words and phrases that other pages that are highly ranking in Google have associated with those correct words and phrases.

In our example, I frequently use “New York neighborhoods,” and a page that’s missing words like Brooklyn, Harlem, Manhattan, Staten Island, that’s weird, right? Google is going to be much more likely to rank the page that includes these borough names than one that doesn’t for that particular query, because they’ve learned to associate that text with relevance for the query “New York neighborhoods.”

What I do want to make clear here is this does not mean LSI or some other particular tactic. LSI is an old-school, I think late ’80s, early ’90s computer tactic, software tactic for identifying words that are semantically connected to each other. There’s no reason you have to use this old-school junk methodology that became like pseudoscience in the SEO world and had a recent revival. But you should be using words and phrases that Google has related to a particular keyword. Related topics is a great thing to do. You can find some via the Moz Bar. We did a Whiteboard Friday on related topics, so you can check that out.

V. The user experience of the writing and content matters more than ever, and that is due to engagement metrics

Essentially, Google is able to see that people who click on a particular result are less likely to click the back button and choose a different result or more likely to stay on that page or site and engage further with that content and solve their whole task. That is a good sign to Google, and they want to rank more of those.

A brief “SEO writing” process for 2018

So, pragmatically, what does this history and evolution mean? Well, I think we can craft a brief sort of SEO writing process for 2018 from this. This is what I recommend. If you can do nothing else, do these five steps when you are writing for SEO, and you will tend to have more success than most of your competition.

Step 1: Assemble all the keywords that a page is targeting

So there should be a list of them. They should all share the same intent. You get all those keywords listed out.

Step 2: You list what the searchers are actually trying to accomplish when they search those queries

So someone searched for blue watches. What do they want? Information about them, they want to see different models, they want to know who makes them, they want to buy them, they want to see what the costs are like, they want to see where they can get them online, probably all of those things. Those are the intents behind those queries.

Step 3: Create a visual layout

Here’s going to be our headline. Here’s our subheadline. We’re going to put this important key concept up at the top in a callout box. We’re going to have this crucial visual next up. This is how we’re going to address all of those searcher intents on the page visually with content, written or otherwise.

Step 4: Write first and then go add the keywords and the crucial, related terms, phrases, top concepts, topics that you want into the page

The ones that will hopefully help boost your SEO, rather than writing first with the keywords and topics in mind. You can have a little bit of that, but this would be what I suggest.

Step 5: Craft the hook, the hook that will make influential people and publications in this space likely to amplify, likely to link

Because, in 2018, links still do matter, still are an important part of SEO.

If you follow this and learn from this history, I think you’ll do a much better job, generally speaking, of writing for SEO than a lot of the common wisdom out there. All right, everyone. Look forward to your thoughts in the comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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