Thursday, January 21, 2021

Wednesday, January 20, 2021

5 Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Agencies [Webinar] via @brentcsutoras

5 Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Agencies [Webinar] via @brentcsutoras

Learn how to build a productive relationship with your agency and the warning signs to look out for when hiring one on our next webinar.

The post 5 Secrets to Getting the Most Out of Agencies [Webinar] via @brentcsutoras appeared first on Search Engine Journal.



from Search Engine Journal https://ift.tt/3sER05T

How to perform SEO A/B testing in Google Search Console

How to perform SEO A/B testing in Google Search Console

30-second summary:

  • SEO A/B testing allows site owners to understand whether the changes they make to their website have a positive impact on keyword rankings.
  • Anything on a website can be A/B tested, but the best variants to test are those that have a direct relationship to Google’s ranking algorithm.
  • How site owners can best execute an SEO A/B test will depend on the size of their website and their ability to easily roll back changes.
  • If an A/B test proves that a specific optimization is effective, a site owner can more confidently incorporate identical or similar changes to other pages of their website.

For SEO strategists, it is sometimes difficult to know which of the many changes we make to our websites actually impact their overall SEO performance. Moving websites from page 10 to page 2 can usually be accomplished by following SEO best practices, but the trek to page 1? That requires far more granular attention to the specific changes we make to our landing pages. Enter SEO A/B testing, one of the best ways to narrow in and understand the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of specific optimizations.

Many digital marketers are comfortable using A/B testing features in their PPC campaigns or to analyze user behavior in Google Analytics, but fewer are incorporating this powerful strategy to better understand which of their on-page optimizations have the greatest impact on keyword rankings.

SEO A/B testing can seem intimidating, but with the right tools, it’s actually fairly simple to perform. Not only does A/B testing help SEOs identify the most impactful optimizations, but it also gives them a way to quantify their efforts. Although SEO A/B testing is more often utilized by advanced SEO strategists, site owners who are comfortable working on the backend of their website have a great opportunity to elevate their SEO strategy through well-structured A/B tests.

What is SEO A/B testing?

When it comes to controlled experiments, testing two variants is the fundamental building block from which all other testing is built. A/B testing is simply measuring how a single variant impacts an outcome. In the case of SEO, the outcomes are either better, worse, or static keyword rankings.

It doesn’t take much to get started. You’ll need Google Search Console for one (the absolute truth of your SEO rankings), as well as two clearly defined variants you want to test out. Lastly, site owners need to have a dev or staging environment where they can save a version of their website prior to the SEO A/B test just in case the changes do not produce the desired results.

Best use cases for SEO A/B testing

Anything can be A/B tested on our websites, but for SEO purposes, certain site elements are more likely to result in keyword rankings improvements because of the weight they carry in Google’s algorithm. For that reason, the below elements are the best use cases for SEO A/B tests.

Title tags

Choosing title tags is so important and has a huge impact on search results. Title tag changes are very impactful from a rankings perspective because they directly influence click-through-rate (CTR). Google has a normalized expected CTR for searches, and if your landing pages continually fall below the mark, it will negatively impact your overall chances of ranking.

Meta descriptions

For those websites that already have a lot of keywords on page one and are therefore getting lots of impressions, A/B testing meta descriptions can be really beneficial. Like title tags, they directly impact CTR, and improving them can result in significantly more clicks and thus better rankings. 

Schema markup

If you can, it’s good to add schema markup to all of your web pages (you miss all the shots you don’t take!), but if certain pages on your site still don’t have schema.org markup, adding it can be a great use case for an A/B test.

Internal links

Internal links communicate to Google site architecture, and they also distribute PageRank across our websites. Getting internal links right can produce dramatic keyword ranking improvements, particularly for larger websites with thousands of landing pages. Focus on header and footer links because of how much they shift PageRank. For websites with product pages, you can use A/B testing to find the best anchor text for your internal links.

New content

Adding good content to your landing pages is always beneficial because longer content implies topical depth. Using a landing page optimizer tool can help you improve the semantic richness of your content, and a subsequent A/B test empowers you to measure whether Google positively responds to those quality signals. 

Large groups of pages

For ecommerce sites or those who may add a large group of pages all at once, you can use A/B testing to measure whether those pages are crawled and indexed in a way that positively or negatively harms your existing rankings.

Information architecture

There are certain elements of information architecture that are more specific to SEO. Google likes page experience features like jumplinks and carousels, so understanding the impact of adding these features to your web pages is another reason to perform an SEO A/B Test.

Site migrations

Whenever you make core technical changes to your website, A/B testing is a great way to measure how those changes impact keyword rankings. It also helps prevent your site from experiencing a significant rankings drop in the long-term. 

The types of SEO A/B testing

There are a few different types of A/B tests that you can execute on your website. It will largely depend on the number of landing pages you have as well as the category of variants you are testing out.

A then B

The most basic form of A/B testing, this type of test will simply compare the performance of a single page with one different variant. This type of A/B test is better for smaller sites and easier to implement, particularly if you’re confident that the changes are in the right direction.  

Multi-page

This type of A/B test allows for far more statistically significant results and can be executed on large sites with hundreds to thousands of landing pages. Instead of measuring a single variant on a single page, pick two page groups of similar pages (I recommend at least 50 pages per cohort) and change the variant on all of those pages.  

Multivariate

This common form of experimentation has the same core mechanisms of an A/B test, but it increases the number of variants being tested. Multivariate testing can be great for measuring user behavior, but it is less effective in measuring search performance when you’re trying to discover whether a specific optimization has a direct impact on keyword rankings. 

How to perform an SEO A/B test 

The easiest way to do A/B tests is by using site snapshots and rollbacks. Basically, you take a site snapshot, make the change to your site, and sit back for a week and watch what happens. If the change to the site has improved your SEO, you’ll see it in your benchmarking. If you’ve made a mistake, then you just roll back to a previous version of your site and move forward with different optimizations. 

Here is a simple step-by-step process of an SEO A/B test:

  1. Take a site snapshot or do a site backup prior to implementing changes so you can return to a previous version of your website if the change is not effective
  2. Determine the variant being tested (for example, title tag, schema.org, and the others) and make the change to a page or cohort of similar pages
  3. Wait 7-14 days to determine the impact of the change
  4. Compare the keyword rankings for the variant page/s to the original. This can be done in Google Search Console or a Google Search Console Dashboard 

If the optimizations are impactful, you can proceed with making similar changes to other pages of your site. More targeted changes like adding keyword-rich title tags and meta descriptions won’t necessarily directly translate to other pages. However, more technical optimizations like schema.org and information architecture can be implemented across the entirety of your website with more confidence if an A/B test proves them impactful.

Some practical advice for SEO testing across hosting environments

The way you proceed with step one will depend on your dev and staging environment. If you’re hosting on DigitalOcean, you can take site snapshots. If you’re on WPEngine, you can choose a site backup to restore from. For the best in class, try Version Control from Git, which allows you to roll back to any version of your website. 

Version Control is like Track Changes on a Word Document, but the history never gets deleted. With Version Control, even if you delete something or change it, there is a chronology to all of the changes that have been made — when a line of code was created, when it was edited — and you can roll back at any time.

It’s also important to make sure all of the in-development pages and test environment pages on your site have the robots no index tag. Some SEO specialists might tell you that adding the pages to your blocklist in robots.txt or with on-page rel canonical tags would be sufficient, but at LinkGraph I’ve seen numerous examples where pages or subdomains were added to robots and continued to be in search results for months. Just adding a canonical tag is insufficient at blocking the dev domain from crawling and indexing.

The best strategy is to use the robots no index. The even better strategy is to use both robots no index and rel canonicals for added protection.

How long does it take to know whether the variant was effective?

How long you wait to measure your A/B tests will depend on how often Google crawls your website. If you test parts of your domain that aren’t crawled often, you may have to wait longer in order for Google to actually see your changes. If you’re changing primary pages that Google crawls frequently, you can likely see whether those optimizations had any impact within 7-14 days.

As you evaluate the effectiveness of your optimizations, beware of confounding variables. Multiple backlinks in a short period of time, adding Javascript, and of course, algorithm changes, can sharply impact keyword rankings. Any type of experimentation is more accurate when you can eliminate variables, so do your best to not schedule A/B tests during link building campaigns, core algorithm updates, or any period of high search volatility. 

When done correctly, A/B testing can be a powerful way to refine your SEO strategy toward maximum results. Not only can A/B testing help site owners make more data-driven decisions, but it can also help SEO strategists prove the value of their work to clients or executive leadership who may be wary of investing in SEO.

Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning digital marketing and SEO agency that provides SEO, paid media, and content marketing services. He is also the founder and CEO of SearchAtlas, a software suite of free SEO tools. You can find Manick on Twitter @madmanick.

The post How to perform SEO A/B testing in Google Search Console appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



source https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2021/01/20/how-to-perform-seo-a-b-testing-in-google-search-console/

2021 Search marketing: The year of automation

2021 Search marketing: The year of automation

30-second summary:

  • The search engine results page (SERP) is a battleground for user attention riddled with colorful paid and organic content including shopping ads, Quick Answers, popular products, and videos.
  • Today’s search users would rather see to believe than read.
  • Let’s explore what marketers must master in 2021 to stay ahead of the curve for search marketing.

Pull up your phone and search for any good or service, what do you see? In today’s Google and Microsoft search experiences, you will see loads of images and other visual content staring back at you. The search engine results page (SERP) is a battleground for user attention. It is riddled with colorful paid and organic content including shopping ads, Quick Answers, popular products, and videos. The traditional “blue links” are now just one mere navigational aid. Today’s search users would rather see to believe than read. Let’s explore what marketers must master in 2021 to stay ahead of the curve with search marketing:

1. The customer journey must be known

For years, search, while connected to other media channels, largely felt isolated as a “pull” marketing medium. Its purpose was clear: capture demand and connect products and services to the user’s intent.

Today, however, search excellence requires new connectivity to speak more personally to the customer at different stages of their journey. Doing this well requires leveraging first-party customer data, but also, and equally important, leveraging the platform’s view of the customer, be it Google, Facebook, or Amazon. Modern marketers must leverage first-party data, third-party data, and platform data to create greater experiences and ROI. It is pivotal that marketers get this step of the process right as the third-party cookie deteriorates in 2022, causing a new horizon in marketing. Increased focus and investment must be placed on aligning and connecting data and identities across environments, with a privacy-first mindset. To enable this infrastructure, advertisers must enlist developers to automate datastreams that fuel machine learning algorithms in near real-time. Without this investment, both the knowledge of and intelligence behind the customer’s journey is lost.

2. The machine must run

Automation is a requirement to compete in search, but there has always been a complementary relationship between human and machine. The right approach is “both/and” instead of “either/or”.

Still, modern marketers must stay current and regularly question how much to favor machines over humans and for which elements. Further, within the aspects we may turn over to automation, we have what the advertiser, agency, and platform each uniquely know about the customer on the other end of the query. As such, today’s marketers must capitalize on knowing who is better equipped to inform a particular action we take with our ad program.

For example, the advertiser does not know the three most recent websites the user has visited, but platform A does. Platform A does not know which ads the user has interacted with on platform B, but the agency does. However, the agency is unaware of the offline conversion data for the user in a digital marketing target list. Data assets held by the platforms, the agency and the advertiser need to work together in guiding the machine.

Brands should employ just a handful of the real-world search marketing capabilities that use automation based on information the advertiser wouldn’t have themselves. Here are some tips:

1. Real-time automated bidding

Leverage platform-only signals such as previous queries and device/browser combination such as an iPhone 11 running the Google app for search.

2. Automated customer segmentation

This runs the gamut from basic remarketing tags, to platform “smart” audiences, to advanced cluster models. All levels of customer segmentation should be used and layered into your search programs.

3. Dynamic Search Ads

Augmenting most successful paid search programs, this “keywordless” automation step will find newly productive query volume to complement traditional keyword campaign activity. It cannot replace traditional keyword generation but should be used to augment those efforts.

4. Responsive Search Ads

Particularly important to highly-specialized, dynamic, and nuanced businesses, automating ad copy, with distinct, feed-driven customizers is a no-brainer for advanced paid search marketers. Gone are the days of specifying quantities, price points, or geo-targeted locations in tens of thousands of ad groups. Allowing for dynamic keyword inclusion and rotating ad copy narratives is just the beginning of fully automated contextual success.

Business automation accelerates growth

Modern search is mature and as comfortable as a well-worn tee-shirt. To the consumer, it is familiar, yet with fresh subtleties. To the marketer, it is ever more necessary to understand and balance the efforts of the human and machine.

The modern search marketer must have a complete line of sight to the visual battleground of paid and organic listings, understand the customer journey at a session-based level, and guide platform automation with intelligent business inputs as we move into 2021 and beyond. The quaint days of endless negative keyword list management have given way to projects that include near real-time activation of customer segments, based on modeled first-party data and competitive intelligence.

Do you spot any search marketing trends brewing? Feel free to share your observations in the comments.

The post 2021 Search marketing: The year of automation appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



source https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2021/01/20/2021-search-marketing-the-year-of-automation/

Tuesday, January 19, 2021

How Branding Supports Search Engine Marketing Success & ROI via @tonynwright

How Branding Supports Search Engine Marketing Success & ROI via @tonynwright

It takes more than just great strategy and tactics to make search engine marketing work. Find out how branding makes all the difference.

The post How Branding Supports Search Engine Marketing Success & ROI via @tonynwright appeared first on Search Engine Journal.



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Ways to get the most out of your Google Adwords PPC strategy

Ways to get the most out of your Google Adwords PPC strategy

30-second summary:

  • PPC advertising is a highly effective way to drive targeted prospects to websites, sales pages, or blogs.
  • Even though PPC can take up some parts of your budget, there are important benefits attached to this practice.
  • Did you know, 92% of all keywords that people type into search engines are long tails?
  • This article gives you a brief on the benefits of having a PPC strategy, must-haves for PPC advertising through Google Adwords, elements of attractive and effective PPC Ads, and more on optimizing your Google Adwords PPC strategy.

Pay-Per-Click (PPC) advertising is an important component of online marketing. Specific strategies can be used by advertisers to maximize the return from their PPC marketing. PPC advertising is a highly effective way to drive targeted prospects to websites, sales pages, or blogs. Digital marketers can choose between Google AdWords, Facebook Ads, or Bing Ads. However, most online marketers prefer using Google AdWords for their PPC strategy since it displays their ads on Google SERPs.

A. Benefits of Google Ads PPC advertising

Though PPC marketing costs money, it has five important benefits:

1. Convenience and speed

Advertisers can set up their PPC ad campaigns easily and quickly. They can use PPC ads to target their prospects with precision and get results almost immediately. According to Neil Patel, SEO expert and co-founder of both Crazy Egg and Hello Bar:

                    “With PPC, you can drive visitors to your website in hours, not months”

2. Adaptability

Ad text, keywords, and other elements of PPC ads can be constantly tweaked to optimize and so maximize their effectiveness.

3. Cost-effectiveness

Google Adwords charges advertisers only when there are clicks on their ads and not merely when ads are displayed.

4. Budget flexibility

Advertisers can decide on the budget of their PPC campaign since Google Adwords does not have any minimum spending limits. For instance, they can set a maximum daily budget of twenty dollars and a maximum cost of twenty cents for each click on their ad, which they can change whenever they want.

5. Predictability

With a PPC campaign, digital marketers can easily predict the number of their visitors based on how much they spend. The search engine algorithm is less of a factor. In one of his PPC related articles, Neil Patel stated,

“Spend more, get more visitors. If you want exactly 10,000 visitors, you can get exactly 10,000 visitors”,

Despite all these benefits of Google Ads PPC advertising, first-time digital marketers should be attentive as they may lose a lot on their invested money if they ever fail to properly set up their PPC marketing campaigns.

B. Preparation before starting a Google Ads PPC campaign

The first thing new marketers should do is to read thoroughly the Google Adwords Getting Started Guide, which has a large amount of useful information. Next, they should use the Google Adwords Keyword Suggestion Tool and create a comprehensive list of relevant keywords for their products or services.

Use of long-tail keyword phrases

Since the price per click of PPC ads is determined by competitive bidding of search terms, popular search terms such as “insurance”, “stop smoking”, and “weight-loss” cost several dollars for the top three positions on the search results. On the other hand, long-tail keywords are phrases that are not searched very often but are more likely to be used by people who are willing to buy.

Ahrefs, in fact, reports that 92% of all keywords get 10 or fewer searches per month. In other words, 92% of all keywords that people type into search engines are long tails.

PPC strategy - Chart showing search volume distribution

C. Elements of attractive and effective PPC ads

Well written ads are decisive to the success of a Google Ads PPC strategy. They should highlight the key benefit of the product or service so that potential clients click on them.

Marketers should also include these elements in their ads:

1. The price of the product

Users who see the price of the product and still click the ad are more likely to buy the product. If they think the price is too high, they may not click on the ad and save the cost of that click.

2. A strong call-to-action

Specific call-to-action phrases such as “purchase”, “buy”, “call today”, “sign up”, and “order ensures” the prospects understand what they are expected to do after they clicking the ad.

3. The best performing keyword preferably in the title of the ad

Whenever users type that keyword and the ad is displayed, the keyword phrase appears “in bold font” within the ad on the Google search page. This will draw their attention to the ad.

4. The URL of the specific page on the website that has the product

If people who click the ad do not find the product on that page, they are likely to exit and click some other ad.

D. Fine-tuning PPC management to boost its profitability

Advertisers can experiment with different offers and call-to-action phrases and test multiple ads. Google Adwords rotates ads automatically within the ad group and displays, more often, the better-performing one. They can remove keywords that are not getting enough clicks and replace them with others. Also, they can decrease or increase the maximum cost-per-click and check the effect on the performance of their ads.

E. Additional strategies to increase the cost-effectiveness of your Google Ads PPC marketing

Submit negative keywords

Advertisers should make a list of keywords that cause their ads to be displayed but are not related to their product. After that, they should submit them as negative keywords by putting a negative sign in front of those keywords. By doing this, they will ensure that anyone using those keywords won’t have their ad displayed to them. For instance, if the product is about “how to stop smoking”, advertisers should exclude anything like “smoking chimneys” or any other sources of smoke!

Some keywords might have far different user intent and bring in clicks that are an immediate bounce but won’t turn into a conversion”.

Explained SEO expert Rinko de Jong, in an email interview.

This could also lead to ad impressions that result in no clicks. Both can weaken the quality score of your ad resulting in negatively impacting your ad placement and cost per click”, he added.

Disallow ads to be displayed in Google’s content network partner sites

Clicks originating from these websites are usually of a lower quality than those from search results because they come from people who are browsing that website, not people who are actively searching for the product of the advertiser. So, these clicks might result in fewer sales but will cost definitely just the same.

Pay-Per-Click marketing has the potential to drive a steady stream of visitors to affiliate sites, sales pages, or websites resulting in increased sales and profits if it is properly set up and constantly monitored.

Jacob M. is a copywriter, marketing blogger, and inbound marketing consultant.

The post Ways to get the most out of your Google Adwords PPC strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.



source https://www.searchenginewatch.com/2021/01/19/ways-to-get-the-most-out-of-your-google-adwords-ppc-strategy/