Tag Archive | "Coming"

Zero-Result SERPs: Welcome to the Future We Should’ve Known Was Coming

Posted by Dr-Pete

On Wednesday, Google launched a large-scale experiment, removing organic results from a small set of searches with definitive answers such as this one for “What time is it in Seattle?”:

These SERPs display a Knowledge Card with a “Show all results” button and no additional organic results or SERP features. Danny Sullivan wrote on Twitter that this is currently limited to a small set of answers, including calculators, unit conversions, and some time/date queries. Here’s another one, converting yesterday’s MozCast temperature (“108 degrees in celsius”):

At first glance, this is a startling development, but it shouldn’t be entirely surprising. So, let’s get to the hard questions — is this a sign of things to come, and how quickly do we need to adapt?

For today, don’t panic

First off, preliminary data suggests that these really are isolated cases. Across the 10,000 searches that MozCast tracks daily, one search (0.01%) currently displays zero results: “1 gigabit to gigabyte.” This change is not impacting most high-volume, competitive queries or even the vast majority of results with Knowledge Cards.

Second, we have to face the reality that Knowledge Cards, even paired with organic results, already dramatically impact search user behavior. Thanks to Russ Jones, we’ve pulled some data from an internal CTR study we’re currently working on at Moz. In that study, SERPs with 10 blue links have a roughly 79% organic click-through rate (overall). Add just a Knowledge Card, with no other features, and that drops to 25%. That’s a 68% drop-off, a loss of over two-thirds of organic clicks. Google has tested this change and likely found that showing organic links on these particular searches provided very little additional value.

This isn’t new (part 1)

I’m going to argue that this change is one that we in the industry should’ve seen coming, and I’m going to do it in two parts. First, we know that Knowledge Cards and other answers (including Featured Snippets) power SERPs on devices where screen size is at a minimum or non-existent.

Take for example, a search for “Where was Stephen Hawking born?” Even though the answer is definitive (there is one factual answer to this question), Google displays a rich Knowledge Card plus a full set of organic SERPs. On mobile, though, that Knowledge Card dominates results. Here’s a full-screen image:

The Knowledge Card extends below the fold and dominates the mobile screen. This assumes I see the SERP at all. Even as I was typing the question, Google tried to give me the answer…

If the basic information is all I need, and if I trust Google as a source for that information, why would I need to even click at this point?

On mobile, I at least have the option to peruse organic results. On Google Home, if I ask the same question (“Where was Stephen Hawking born?”), I get no SERP at all, just the answer:

“Stephen Hawking was born in Oxford, United Kingdom.”

Obviously, this is born of necessity on a voice-only device like Google Home, but we get a similarly truncated result with voice searches through Google Assistant. This is the same answer on my phone (the same phone as the previous screenshots), but using voice search instead of text search…

Google’s push toward voice UI and mobile-first design means that these considerations sometimes move back up the chain of devices. If the answer is enough for voice and mobile, maybe it’s enough for desktop.

This isn’t new (part 2)

Over the past couple of years, I’ve talked a lot about how SERPs have expanded well beyond 10 blue links. What we talk about less is the flip-side, that SERPs are also shrinking. Adding SERP features is, in some cases, a zero-sum game, at the cost of organic results.

Each of the following features take up one organic position:

  • Full site-links (each row)
  • Image results
  • Top Stories
  • In-depth articles (3 articles = 1 organic)
  • Tweets (carousel)
  • Tweets (single)

Across the 10,000 SERPs in our data set, over half (51%) had less than 10 traditional organic results. While very-low counts are rare, over one-fourth of page-one SERPs fell into the range of 5–8 organic results.

While the zero-result SERP is certainly a new and extreme case, the removal of organic results in favor of other features has been happening (and expanding) for quite some time now. SERPs with as few as 3–4 page-one organic results have been appearing in the wild for well over a year.

In some cases, you might not even realize that a result isn’t organic. Consider, for example, the following set of results on desktop. Can you spot the In-depth Articles?

On desktop results, there are no visual markers separating In-depth Articles from organic results, even though these results are powered by two different aspects of the algorithm. From the source code markers, we can see that the answer is #2–#5, three results which displace one organic result:

Another example is Twitter results. You’ve probably seen the Twitter carousel, which is a visually distinct format with three tweets, but have you seen a result like this one (on a search for “cranberry”)?

At first glance, it looks organic (except for the Twitter icon), but this result is a vertical result pulled directly from the Twitter data feed. It is not subject to traditional organic optimization and ranking factors.

All of this is to say that organic real estate has been shrinking for quite a while, giving way to vertical results, Knowledge Graph results, and other rich features. Google will continue to experiment, and we can expect that some SERPs will continue to shrink. Where the data suggests that one answer is enough, we may only see one answer, at the cost of organic results.

Search intent vs. opportunity

It’s easy to let our imaginations run wild, but we have to consider intent. The vast majority of searches are never going to have one definitive answer, and some queries aren’t even questions, in the traditional sense.

From an SEO and content standpoint, I think we have to expand our idea of informational search intent (vs. transactional or navigational, using the classic model). Some questions are factual, and can be answered by the ever-expanding Knowledge Graph. As of today, a search like “When is Pi Day?” still shows organic results, but the Knowledge Card gives us a definitive answer…

Here, organic opportunity is very limited. Think of this as a “closed informational” search.

On the other hand, open-ended questions still rely very much on a variety of answers, even when Google tries to choose one of those answers. Consider the search “What is the best pie?”, which returns the following Featured Snippet (a hybrid of organic result and answer box)…

No one answer will ever suffice for this question. Even the author of this post had the decency to say “Go ahead and let me have it in the comments,” knowing the disagreement would soon flow like cherry filling.

Think of these searches as “open informational” searches. Even if we have to compete for the Featured Snippet (especially on voice results), there will be organic/SEO opportunity here for the foreseeable future.

Ultimately, we have to adapt, and we have to get smarter about the searchers we target. Where Google can answer a question, they will try to answer that question, and if organic results add no measurable value (regardless of whether you agree with how Google measures value), they will continue to shrink.

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You Need Both of These Skill Sets to Keep Your Audience Coming Back for More

When I’m not performing my typical duties as Rainmaker Digital’s Marketing Technologist, I’m cooking up a storm in my kitchen. Amidst the rhythmic chopping of fresh produce, the clashing of pots and pans, and the roar of boiling water, I realized that my two roles have a lot in common. They both require a balance
Read More…

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Apple says HomePod is finally coming on February 9, but can it compete?

Apple also said that Siri is now used on more than 500 million devices.

The post Apple says HomePod is finally coming on February 9, but can it compete? appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Google to roll out new Search Console features in coming weeks

After comprehensive beta user testing, Google begins release of the new Google Search Console reports to all verified users.

The post Google to roll out new Search Console features in coming weeks appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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Coming to terms with fake reviews

In the same way that Google considers some forms of SEO to be unacceptable, they and other review sites dislike any reviews that aren’t organic — yet fake reviews are still prevalent. Columnist Kevin Lee discusses the scope of the problem and why you should resist the temptation to solicit fake…



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Google’s mobile-first index likely not coming until 2018 at earliest

At SMX Advanced, Gary Illyes says Google will “communicate a lot” before rolling out the mobile-first index.

The post Google’s mobile-first index likely not coming until 2018 at earliest appeared first on Search Engine Land.



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New features may be coming to AdWords Responsive Ads

Some accounts are now requiring a square image.

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New Moz Local Product Packages Are Coming in November

Posted by dudleycarr

We’ve been working behind the scenes to make Moz Local serve your needs better than ever. It’s not quite ready yet, but we just can’t hold it in any longer — we had to give you a teaser of what we’re planning.

Moz Local has grown tremendously over the past 2.5 years. Our initial $ 84 Listing Distribution offering pioneered the use of data aggregators to bring new efficiency and value to local businesses and agencies. We followed that with Search Insights, which added Local SEO analytics that gave businesses insight into how their location data performed in local searches.

The changes we’re making now will help all of our customers — local businesses, enterprise brands, and our agency partners — get the most out of Moz Local by delivering greater business value.

We’ll provide that value by making Moz Local available in 3 different packages:

Moz Local Essential

For the majority of our local business customers who have a single to dozens of locations, Moz Local Essential is our base-level Active Location Data Management and Reputation Monitoring solution. At $ 99 per year, this new entry-level offering adds Reputation Monitoring, the ability to monitor the latest reviews of your business locations on the most popular review sites, all from one place — while remaining priced at less than 50% of the leading competition.

Moz Local Professional

For Enterprise brands and agencies that need an enterprise-class solution to manage at scale (hundreds to thousands of business locations), Moz Local Professional includes everything in the Essential package — plus Local SEO Analytics to analyze results and make informed decisions that improve local marketing performance, and SEO expertise and support from the Moz Local customer success team.

Moz Local Premium

For Enterprise brands and agencies that have a higher level of business need, Moz Local Premium includes everything in the Professional package — plus all of the advantages that Moz Local has to offer made available via the Moz Local API, and augmented with the full suite of organic SEO tools from Moz.

At all levels, we continue to ensure that Moz Local is the industry’s most effective location data management solution. And as the global leader in SEO software, we’re committed to bringing the power of SEO and location analytics to your increasingly complex local marketing challenges, whether you’re a brand or an agency.

We’re busy putting the finishing touches on these new offerings, but we just couldn’t wait to tell you. On November 17th, we’ll share full details about each of our packages, features, and pricing.

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Get Ready for the Evolution of Long Tail Keywords, Coming Soon to Mobile Apps

Posted by Royh

Last month Google made a big announcement, potentially signaling a game changer for search. Google is quietly rolling out app-only content indexing, even if that content isn’t actually hosted on the indexed app.

So, what does that actually mean?

The game-changing implication is that when you search Google from your phone or tablet, app-only content will “stream” directly to your mobile device — even if you don’t have the app installed.

Thus, if I search for the key phrase “hotel tonight in Chicago,” I’ll see results from mobile apps that aren’t installed on my device, sending me directly to app-only content “streamed” from a virtual app hosted on the Google cloud.

Hotel Tonight

(Image credit: TechCrunch)

How is app content indexed differently?

Before this announcement, direct deep links to app content were displayed only if the matching app was already installed on your mobile device, as in the example below:

(Image credit: Google)

With this change, web content no longer needs to match app content.

According to Google’s Rajan Patel leading the new initiative:

“We want users to be able to have access to this content, regardless of whether it’s available on the web or in an app.”

How will this announcement change the way applications are discovered?

Well, Google is effectively lowering the bar for app indexing, and app owners can score a quick win if they act in a timely manner — a few tips on this below.

The new long tail landing page for mobile

The new app content streams are essentially equivalent to landing pages for a desktop website. Both share the same principal: promoting select content from the website or app.

That means focusing on long tail keywords. Simply changing the title and description of the home page of the app is no longer enough — targeting those long tail keywords is going to be essential.

To find the keywords that send traffic to competitors, I’ll use the SimilarWeb app analysis feature as an example. In this case, you can see how the search engine keywords that sent traffic to Snapchat’s competitors — keywords searched in the Google app — drove traffic to Snapchat after the search, and were basically all keywords from app indexing.

What’s the key here?

Say hello to the app indexing API!

In order to make this whole process possible, app developers need to implement the app indexing API. It’s not new, but now that you don’t need to match app content to web content, it can be your secret weapon to torrents of mobile traffic.

The indexing API doubles as a ranking signal to Google, so all the mobile apps that implement and complete the app indexing API will gain a ranking edge.

Measure mobile engagement stats

Once you implement the indexing API, you’ll show Google how much time users spend inside your app, and what they do there.

If you need a benchmark to go by, you can measure how your competitors’ apps are doing in terms of time on the app and session per user. Here’s an example from SimilarWeb’s app engagement function:

Again, the first thing you need to do in order to get started is implement the app indexing API, as I said earlier — since Google factors it as one of the ranking signals, it will favor the app owners that complete the process.

If you want some more instruction and technical walkthroughs for getting your app indexed, you can check out this piece by Bridget Randolph on the subject. Just keep in mind that this is still in beta.

Google is testing the process on a few apps that agreed to participate in this experiment. It’s still unclear when the update will be released out of beta, but I’m sure several clear winners (and losers) will emerge when this fully rolls out.

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The Coming Integration of PR and SEO

Posted by SamuelScott

Earlier this year, I published a Moz post that aimed to introduce the
basic principles of public relations that SEOs and digital marketers, I argued, need to know. (Specifically, the post was on media relations and story-pitching as a means of getting coverage and “earning” good links.)

Following the positive response to the post, Moz invited me to host a recent Mozinar on the integration of PR and SEO. (
You can listen to it and download the slides here for free!) As a former print journalist who later became a digital marketer, I love to discuss this niche because I am very passionate about the topic.

In summary, the Mozinar discussed:

  • Traditional marketing and communications theory
  • Why both inbound and outbound marketing are needed
  • An overview of the basic PR process
  • How to use PR software
  • Examples of messaging and positioning
  • Where to research demographic data for audience profiles
  • How to integrate SEO into each step of the workflow
  • How SEO and PR teams can help each other
  • Why the best links come as natural results of doing good PR and marketing
  • “Don’t think about how to get links. Think about how to get coverage and publicity.”

At the end of the Mozinar, the community had some intriguing and insightful questions (no surprise there!), and Moz invited me to write a follow-up post to provide more answers and discuss the relationship between SEO and PR further.

Follow-ups to the PR Mozinar

Before I address the questions and ideas at the end of the Mozinar, I just wanted to give some more credit where the credit is certainly due.

People like me, who write for major publications or speak at large conferences, get a lot of attention. But, truth is, we are always helped immensely by so many of our talented colleagues behind the scenes. Since the beginning of my digital marketing career, I have known about SEO, but I have learned more about public relations from observing (albeit from a distance) The Cline Group’s front line PR team in Philadelphia over the years.

So, I just wanted to thank (in alphabetical order)
Kim Cox, Gabrielle Dratch, Caitlin Driscoll, Max Marine, and Ariel Shore as well as our senior PR executives Bill Robinson and DeeDee Rudenstein and CEO Josh Cline. What I hope the Moz community learned from the Mozinar is what I have learned from them.

Now, onto the three Mozinar Q&A questions that had been left unanswered.

  • Why do you use Cision and not Vocus or Meltwater or others?

I do not want to focus on why The Cline Group specifically uses Cision. I would not want my agency (and indirectly Moz) to be seen as endorsing one type of PR software over another. What I can do is encourage people to read these writings from 
RMP Media Analysis, LinkedIn, Alaniz Marketing and Ombud, then do further research into which platform may work best for them and their specific companies and needs.

(Cision and Vocus recently agreed to merge, with the combined company continuing under the Cision brand.)

  • Do you have examples of good PR pitches?

I’ve anonymized and uploaded three successful client pitches to our website. You can download them here: a
mobile-advertising network, a high-end vaporizer for the ingestion of medicinal herbs and a mobile app that helps to protect personal privacy. As you will see, these pitches incorporated the various tactics that I had detailed in the Mozinar.

Important caveat: Do not fall into the trap of relying too much on templates. Every reporter and every outlet you pitch will be different. The ideas in these examples of pitches may help, but please do not use them verbatim. 

  • Are there other websites similar to HARO (Help a Reporter Out) that people can use to find reporters who are looking for stories? Are the other free, simpler tools?

Some commonly mentioned tools are
My Blog U, ProfNet, BuzzStream and My Local Reporter. Raven Tools also has a good-sized list. But I can only vouch for My Blog U because it’s the only one I have used personally. It’s also important to note that using a PR tool is not a magic bullet. You have to know how to use it in the context of the overall public relations process. Creating a media list is just one part of the puzzle.

An infographic of integration

And now, the promised infographic!

I told the Mozinar audience we would provide a detailed infographic as a quick guide to the step-by-step process of PR and SEO integration. Well, here it is:

pr-seo-infographic-final.jpg

A second credit to my awesome colleague
Thomas Kerr, who designs most of The Cline Group’s presentations and graphics while also being our social media and overall digital wizard.

Just a few notes on the infographic:

First, I have segmented the two pillars by “PR and Traditional Marketing” and “SEO & Digital Marketing.” I hate to sound stereotypical, but the use of this differentiation was the easiest way to explain the integration process. The “PR” side deals with
people and content (e.g., messaging, media relations, and materials, etc.), while the “SEO” side focuses on things (e.g., online data, analytics, and research, etc.). See the end of this post for an important prediction.

Second, I have put social media on the online side because that is where the practice seems to sit in most companies and agencies. However, social media is really just a set of PR and communications channels, so it will likely increasingly move to the “traditional marketing” side of things. Again, see the end.

Third, there is a CMO / VP of Marketing / Project Leader (based on the structure of a company and whether the context is an agency or an in-house department) column between SEO and PR. This position should be a person with enough experience in both disciplines to mediate between the two as well as make judgment calls and final decisions in the case of conflicts. “SEO,” for example, may want to use certain keyword-based language in messaging in an attempt to rank highly for certain search terms. “PR” might want to use different terms that may resonate more with media outlets and the public. Someone will need to make a decision.

Fourth, it is important to understand that companies with numerous brands, products or services, and/or a diverse set of target audiences will need to take additional steps:

The marketing work for each brand, product, or service will need its own specific goal and KPI(s) in step one. Separate audience research and persona development will need to be performed for each distinct audience in step two. So, for a larger company, such as the one described above, parts of steps 3-8 below will often need to be done, say, six times, once for each audience of each product.

However, the complexity does not end there.

Online and offline is the same thing

Essentially, as more and more human activity occurs online, we are rapidly approaching a point where the offline and online worlds are merging into the same space. “Traditional” and “online” marketing are all collectively becoming simply “marketing.”

Above is our modern version of traditional communications and marketing theory. A sender decides upon a message; the message is packaged into a piece of content; the content is transmitted via a desired channel; and the channel delivers the content to the receiver. Marketing is essentially sending a message that is packaged into a piece of content to a receiver via a channel. The rest is just details.

As Google becomes smarter and smarter, marketers will need to stop thinking only about SEO and think more like, well, marketers. Mad Men’s Don Draper, the subject of the meme at the top of the page, would best the performance of any link builder today because he understood how to gain mass publicity and coverage, both of which have always been more important than just building links here and there. The best and greatest numbers of links come naturally as a
result of good marketing and not as a result of any direct linkbuilding. In the 2014 Linkbuilding Survey published on Moz, most of the (good) tactics that were described in the post – such as “content plus outreach” – are PR by another name.

At SMX West 2014 (where I gave a talk on SEO and PR strategy), Rand Fishkin took to the main stage to discuss what the future holds for SEO. Starting at 6:30 in the video above, he argued that there will soon be a bias towards brands in organic search. (For an extensive discussion of this issue, I’ll refer you to Bryson Meunier’s essay at Search Engine Land.) I agree that it will soon become crucial to use PR, advertisingand publicity to build a brand, but that action is something the Don Drapers of the world had already known to do long before the Internet had ever existed.

But things are changing

The process that I have outlined above is a little vague on purpose. The lines between SEO and PR are increasingly blurring as online and offline marketing becomes more and more integrated. For example, take this very post: is it me doing SEO or PR for our agency (while
first and foremost aiming to help the readers)? The answer: Yes.

In a Moz post by Jason Acidre on
SEO and brand building, I commented with the following:

Say, 10 years ago, “SEOs” were focused on techie things: keyword research, sitemaps, site hierarchy, site speed, backlinks, and a lot more. Then, as Google became smarter and the industry become more and more mature, “SEOs” woke up one day and realized that online marketers need to think, you know, like marketers. Now, I get the sense that digital marketers are trying to learn all about traditional marketing as much as possible because, in the end, all marketing is about
people — not machines and algorithms. What the f&*# is a positioning statement? What is a pitch? I just wish “SEOs” had done this from the beginning.

Of course, the same thing has been occurring in the inverse in the traditional marketing world. Traditional marketers have usually focused on these types of things: messaging documents, media lists, promotional campaigns, the 4 Ps, and SWOT analyses. Then, as more human activity moved to the Internet, they also woke up one day and saw an anarchic set of communications channels that operate under different sets of rules. Now, on the other end, I get the sense that traditional marketers are trying to learn as much as possible about SEO and digital marketing. 
What the f&^% is a rel=canonical tag? What is Google+ authorship? I just wish traditional marketers had done this from the start.

In fact, such a separation between SEO and PR is quickly dying. Here is a simplified version of the marketing and communications process I outlined at the beginning:

Traditional marketers and communications professionals have used this process for decades, and almost everything that (the umbrella term of) SEO does can fit into one of these boxes. A message can appear in a newspaper article or in a blog post. Content can be a sales brochure or an e-book. A channel can be the television or Facebook. A lot of  technical and on-page SEO is simply good web development. The most-effective type of off-page SEO is just PR and publicity. Public-relations executives, as I
have written elsewhere, can also learn to use analytics as yet another way to gauge results.

It all goes back to this tweet from Rand, which I cite in nearly every offline conversation with the marketing community:

SEO as an entity (sorry for the pun)
unto itself is quickly dying. The more SEO entails, the more the umbrella term becomes useless in any meaningful context. For this reason, it is crucial that digital marketers learn as much as possible about traditional marketing and PR.

So, in the end, how does one integrate public relations and SEO? By simply doing good
marketing.

Want more? Don’t forget to watch the Mozinar — I’d love to get your feedback in the comments below!

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