Tag Archive | "Answers"

SearchCap: Google Wikipedia prank, Google answers & search pictures

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Content for Answers: The Inverted Pyramid – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Dr-Pete

If you’ve been searching for a quick hack to write content for featured snippets, this isn’t the article for you. But if you’re looking for lasting results and a smart tactic to increase your chances of winning a snippet, you’re definitely in the right place.

Borrowed from journalism, the inverted pyramid method of writing can help you craft intentional, compelling, rich content that will help you rank for multiple queries and win more than one snippet at a time. Learn how in this Whiteboard Friday starring the one and only Dr. Pete!

Content for Answers

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


Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, Dr. Pete here. I’m the Marketing Scientist at Moz and visiting you from not-so-sunny Chicago in the Seattle office. We’ve talked a lot in the last couple years in my blog posts and such about featured snippets.

So these are answers that kind of cross with organic. So it’s an answer box, but you get the attribution and the link. Britney has done some great Whiteboard Fridays, the last couple, about how you do research for featured snippets and how you look for good questions to answer. But I want to talk about something that we don’t cover very much, which is how to write content for answers.

The inverted pyramid style of content writing

It’s tough, because I’m a content marketer and I don’t like to think that there’s a trick to content. I’m afraid to give people the kind of tricks that would have them run off and write lousy, thin content. But there is a technique that works that I think has been very effective for featured snippets for writing for questions and answers. It comes from the world of journalism, which gives me a little more faith in its credibility. So I want to talk to you about that today. That’s called the inverted pyramid.

Content for Answers

1. Start with the lead

It looks something like this. When you write a story as a journalist, you start with the lead. You lead with the lead. So if we have a story like “Penguins Rob a Bank,” which would be a strange story, we want to put that right out front. That’s interesting. Penguins rob a bank, that’s all you need to know. The thing about it is, and this is true back to print, especially when we had to buy each newspaper. We weren’t subscribers. But definitely on the web, you have to get people’s attention quickly. You have to draw them in. You have to have that headline.

2. Go into the details

So leading with the lead is all about pulling them in to see if they’re interested and grabbing their attention. The inverted pyramid, then you get into the smaller pieces. Then you get to the details. You might talk about how many penguins were there and what bank did they rob and how much money did they take.

3. Move to the context

Then you’re going to move to the context. That might be the history of penguin crime in America and penguin ties to the mafia and what does this say about penguin culture and what are we going to do about this. So then it gets into kind of the speculation and the value add that you as an expert might have.

How does this apply to answering questions for SEO?

So how does this apply to answering questions in an SEO context?

Content for Answers

Lead with the answer, get into the details and data, then address the sub-questions.

Well, what you can do is lead with the answer. If somebody’s asked you a question, you have that snippet, go straight to the summary of the answer. Tell them what they want to know and then get into the details and get into the data. Add those things that give you credibility and that show your expertise. Then you can talk about context.

But I think what’s interesting with answers — and I’ll talk about this in a minute — is getting into these sub-questions, talking about if you have a very big, broad question, that’s going to dive up into a lot of follow-ups. People who are interested are going to want to know about those follow-ups. So go ahead and answer those.

If I win a featured snippet, will people click on my answer? Should I give everything away?

Content for Answers

So I think there’s a fear we have. What if we answer the question and Google puts it in that box? Here’s the question and that’s the query. It shows the answer. Are people going to click? What’s going to happen? Should we be giving everything away? Yes, I think, and there are a couple reasons.

Questions that can be very easily answered should be avoided

First, I want you to be careful. Britney has gotten into some of this. This is a separate topic on its own. You don’t always want to answer questions that can be very easily answered. We’ve already seen that with the Knowledge Graph. Google says something like time and date or a fact about a person, anything that can come from that Knowledge Graph. “How tall was Abraham Lincoln?” That’s answered and done, and they’re already replacing those answers.

Answer how-to questions and questions with rich context instead

So you want to answer the kinds of things, the how-to questions and the why questions that have a rich enough context to get people interested. In those cases, I don’t think you have to be afraid to give that away, and I’m going to tell you why. This is more of a UX perspective. If somebody asks this question and they see that little teaser of your answer and it’s credible, they’re going to click through.

“Giving away” the answer builds your credibility and earns more qualified visitors

Content for Answers

So here you’ve got the penguin. He’s flushed with cash. He’s looking for money to spend. We’re not going to worry about the ethics of how he got his money. You don’t know. It’s okay. Then he’s going to click through to your link. You know you have your branding and hopefully it looks professional, Pyramid Inc., and he sees that question again and he sees that answer again.

Giving the searcher a “scent trail” builds trust

If you’re afraid that that’s repetitive, I think the good thing about that is this gives him what we call a scent trail. He can see that, “You know what? Yes, this is the page I meant to click on. This is relevant. I’m in the right place.” Then you get to the details, and then you get to the data and you give this trail of credibility that gives them more to go after and shows your expertise.

People who want an easy answer aren’t the kind of visitors that convert

I think the good thing about that is we’re so afraid to give something away because then somebody might not click. But the kind of people who just wanted that answer and clicked, they’re not the kind of people that are going to convert. They’re not qualified leads. So these people that see this and see it as credible and want to go read more, they’re the qualified leads. They’re the kind of people that are going to give you that money.

So I don’t think we should be afraid of this. Don’t give away the easy answers. I think if you’re in the easy answer business, you’re in trouble right now anyway, to be honest. That’s a tough topic. But give them something that guides them to the path of your answer and gives them more information.

How does this tactic work in the real world?

Thin content isn’t credible.

Content for Answers

So I’m going to talk about how that looks in a more real context. My fear is this. Don’t take this and run off and say write a bunch of pages that are just a question and a paragraph and a ton of thin content and answering hundreds and hundreds of questions. I think that can really look thin to Google. So you don’t want pages that are like question, answer, buy my stuff. It doesn’t look credible. You’re not going to convert. I think those pages are going to look thin to Google, and you’re going to end up spinning out many, many hundreds of them. I’ve seen people do that.

Use the inverted pyramid to build richer content and lead to your CTA

Content for Answers

What I’d like to see you do is craft this kind of question page. This is something that takes a fair amount of time and effort. You have that question. You lead with that answer. You’re at the top of the pyramid. Get into the details. Get into the things that people who are really interested in this would want to know and let them build up to that. Then get into data. If you have original data, if you have something you can contribute that no one else can, that’s great.

Then go ahead and answer those sub-questions, because the people who are really interested in that question will have follow-ups. If you’re the person who can answer that follow-up, that makes for a very, very credible piece of content, and not just something that can rank for this snippet, but something that really is useful for anybody who finds it in any way.

So I think this is great content to have. Then if you want some kind of call to action, like a “Learn More,” that’s contextual, I think this is a page that will attract qualified leads and convert.

Moz’s example: What is a Title Tag?

So I want to give you an example. This is something we’ve used a lot on Moz in the Learning Center. So, obviously, we have the Moz blog, but we also have these permanent pages that answer kind of the big questions that people always have. So we have one on the title tag, obviously a big topic in SEO.

Content for Answers

Here’s what this page looks like. So we go right to the question: What is a title tag? We give the answer: A title tag is an HTML element that does this and this and is useful for SEO, etc. Right there in the paragraph. That’s in the featured snippet. That’s okay. If that’s all someone wants to know and they see that Moz answered that, great, no problem.

But naturally, the people who ask that question, they really want to know: What does this do? What’s it good for? How does it help my SEO? How do I write one? So we dug in and we ended up combining three or four pieces of content into one large piece of content, and we get into some pretty rich things. So we have a preview tool that’s been popular. We give a code sample. We show how it might look in HTML. It gives it kind of a visual richness. Then we start to get into these sub-questions. Why are title tags important? How do I write a good title tag?

One page can gain the ability to rank for hundreds of questions and phrases

What’s interesting, because I think sometimes people want to split up all the questions because they’re afraid that they have to have one question per page, what’s interesting is that I think looked the other day, this was ranking in our 40 million keyword set for over 200 phrases, over 200 questions. So it’s ranking for things like “what is a title tag,” but it’s also ranking for things like “how do I write a good title tag.” So you don’t have to be afraid of that. If this is a rich, solid piece of content that people are going to, you’re going to rank for these sub-questions, in many cases, and you’re going to get featured snippets for those as well.

Then, when people have gotten through all of this, we can give them something like, “Hey, Moz has some of these tools. You can help write richer title tags. We can check your title tags. Why don’t you try a free 30-day trial?” Obviously, we’re experimenting with that, and you don’t want to push too hard, but this becomes a very rich piece of content. We can answer multiple questions, and you actually have multiple opportunities to get featured snippets.

So I think this inverted pyramid technique is legitimate. I think it can help you write good content that’s a win-win. It’s good for SEO. It’s good for your visitors, and it will hopefully help you land some featured snippets.

So I’d love to hear about what kind of questions you’re writing content for, how you can break that up, how you can answer that, and I’d love to discuss that with you. So we’ll see you in the comments. Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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SearchCap: Google Maps women-led icons, more Google answers & SEO redirects

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What’s Your ‘Desert Island’ Copywriting Technique? Answers from Our Team

You’ve been shipwrecked on an uninhabited island, somewhere with blue skies and dazzling aquamarine waters. But after some time passes, no matter how big a fan of sushi you are, the appeal of your solitary paradise starts to wane. You’ve amassed a fine collection of rocks — suitable for crafting, let’s say, a copywriting message.
Read More…

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Google Introduces ‘Trending Searches’ and ‘Instant Answers’ to iOS App

Google is giving users of Apple products greater functionality with the addition of Twitter-like features in a recent update to its iOS app. The mobile version of the search engine which was introduced in its Android app last year, now sports Trending Searches, a location based feature that lets iOS users know of the hottest searches in their location. In addition, the tech giant added Instant Answers to the app, a feature that gives some useful info at a glance.

Trending Searches for iOS will have an opt-out feature

With their iOS Google app updated, users will know the searches currently trending around them. According to The Tech Bulletin,  merely clicking on the app’s search box will display a list of trending searches made by people near a user’s location. However, it still remains unclear just how localized the coverage of the Trending Searches feature is.

Thankfully, there is an opt-out option included in the iOS update. When Trending Searches was introduced on Android last year, it was met with criticisms with some users clamoring for Google to include an option for turning off the feature. While useful to some, there were users who found it annoying as it gave trending searches made by the masses instead of content specific to the user interests. Google relented by coming up with the opt-out option for people who wished to turn off the feature.

Smarter Searches with Instant Answers

In addition, Google made some improvements to the search experience by introducing what is called Instant Answers. Basically, the app anticipates what the user is trying to type and, even before keying in the complete search phrase, the answer is displayed along with some suggestions below the search box. And that happens even before the user hits the search button.

According to Tech Crunch,  the answers come from Google’s facts database known as Knowledge Graph, which in turn, sources its data from CIA World Factbook and Wikipedia.

[Featured Image via Pixabay]

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SearchCap: Google fake news, Yext IPO & Google answers

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

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SearchCap: Santa tracker, Yahoo Answers app & digital assistants

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Ranking #0: SEO for Answers

Posted by Dr-Pete

It’s been over two years since Google launched Featured Snippets, and yet many search marketers still see them as little more than a novelty. If you’re not convinced by now that Featured Snippets offer a significant organic opportunity, then today is my attempt to change your mind.

If you somehow haven’t encountered a Featured Snippet searching Google over the past two years, here’s an example (from a search for “ssl”):

This is a promoted organic result, appearing above the traditional #1 ranking position. At minimum, Featured Snippets contain an extracted answer (more on that later), a display title, and a URL. They may also have an image, bulleted lists, and simple tables.

Why should you care?

We’re all busy, and Google has made so many changes in the past couple of years that it can be hard to sort out what’s really important to your customer or employer. I get it, and I’m not judging you. So, let’s get the hard question out of the way: Why are Featured Snippets important?

(1) They occupy the “#0″ position

Here’s the top portion of a SERP for “hdmi cable,” a commercial query:

There are a couple of interesting things going on here. First, Featured Snippets always (for now) come before traditional organic results. This is why I have taken to calling them the “#0″ ranking position. What beats #1? You can see where I’m going with this… #0. In this case, the first organic is pushed down even more, below a set of Related Questions (the “People also ask” box). So, the “#1″ organic position is really third in this example.

In addition, notice that the “#0″ (that’s the last time I’ll put it in quotes) position is the same URL as the #1 organic position. So, Amazon is getting two listings on this result for a single page. The Featured Snippet doesn’t always come from the #1 organic result (we’ll get to that in a minute), but if you score #0, you are always listed twice on page one of results.

(2) They’re surprisingly prevalent

In our 10,000-keyword tracking data set, Featured Snippets rolled out at approximately 2% of the queries we track. As of mid-July, they appear on roughly 11% of the keywords we monitor. We don’t have good historical data from the first few months after roll-out, but here’s a 12-month graph (July 2015 – July 2016):

Featured Snippets have more than doubled in prevalence in the past year, and they’ve increased by a factor of roughly 5X since launch. After two years, it’s clear that this is no longer a short-term or small-scale test. Google considers this experiment to be a success.

(3) They often boost CTR

When Featured Snippets launched, SEOs were naturally concerned that, by extracting and displaying answers, click-through rates to the source site would suffer. While extracting answers from sites was certainly uncharted territory for Google, and we can debate their use of our content in this form, there’s a growing body of evidence to suggest that Featured Snippets not only haven’t harmed CTR, but they actually boost it in some cases.

In August of 2015, Search Engine Land published a case study by Glenn Gabe that tracked the loss of a Featured Snippet for a client on a competitive keyword. In the two-week period following the loss, that client lost over 39K clicks. In February of 2016, HubSpot did a larger study of high-volume keywords showing that ranking #0 produced a 114% CTR boost, even when they already held the #1 organic position. While these results are anecdotal and may not apply to everyone, evidence continues to suggest that Featured Snippets can boost organic search traffic in many cases.

Where do they come from?

Featured Snippets were born out of a problem that dates back to the early days of search. Pre-Google, many search players, including Yahoo, were human-curated directories first. As content creation exploded, humans could no longer keep up, especially in anything close to real-time, and search engines turned to algorithmic approaches and machine curation.

When Google launched the Knowledge Graph, it was based entirely on human-curated data, such as Freebase and Wikidata. You can see this data in traditional “Knowledge Cards,” sometimes generically called “answer boxes.” For example, this card appears on a search for “Who is the CEO of Tesla?”:

The answer is short and factual, and there is no corresponding source link for it. This comes directly from the curated Knowledge Graph. If you run a search for “Tesla,” you can see this more easily in the Knowledge Panel on that page:

In the middle, you can see an entry for “CEO: Elon Musk.” This isn’t just a block of display text — each of these line items are factoids that exist individually as structured data in the Knowledge Graph. You can test this by running searches against other factoids, like “When was Tesla founded?”

While Google does a decent job of matching many forms of a question to answers in the Knowledge Graph, they can’t escape the limits of human curation. There are also questions that don’t easily fit the “factoid” model. For example, if you search “What is ludicrous mode Tesla?” (pardon the weird syntax), you get this Featured Snippet:

Google’s solution was obvious, if incredibly difficult — take the trillions of pages in their index and use them to generate answers in real-time. So, that’s exactly what they did. If you go to the source page on Engadget, the text in the Featured Snippet is taken directly from on-page copy (I’ve added the green highlighting):

It’s not as simple as just scraping off the first paragraph with a spatula and flipping it onto the SERP, though. Google does seem to be parsing content fairly deeply for relevance, and they’ve been improving their capabilities constantly since the launch of Featured Snippets. Consider a couple of other examples with slightly different formats. Here’s a Featured Snippet for “How much is a Tesla?”:

Note the tabular data. This data is being extracted and reformatted from a table on the target page. This isn’t structured data — it’s plain-old HTML. Google has not only parsed the table but determined that tabular data is a sensible format in response to the question. Here’s the original table:

Here’s one of my favorite examples, from a search for “how to cook bacon.” For any aspiring bacon wizards, please pay careful attention to step #4:

Note the bulleted (ordered) list. As with the table, not only has Google determined that a list is a relevant format for the answer, but they’ve created this list. Now look at the target page:

There’s no HTML ordered list (<ol></ol>) on this page. Google is taking a list-like paragraph style and converting it into a simpler list. This content is also fairly deep into a long page of text. Again, there is no structured data in play. Google is using any and all content available in the quest for answers.

How do you get one?

So, let’s get to the tactical question — how can you score a Featured Snippet? You need to know two things. First, you have to rank organically on the first page of results. Every Featured Snippet we’ve tracked also ranks on page one. Second, you need to have content that effectively targets the question.

Do you have to rank #1 to get the #0 position? No. Ranking #1 certainly doesn’t hurt, but we’ve found examples of Featured Snippet URLs from across all of page one. As of June, the graph below represents the distribution of organic rankings for all of the Featured Snippets in our tracking data set:

Just about 1/3 of Featured Snippets are pulled from the #1 position, with the bulk of the remaining coming from positions #2–#5. There are opportunties across all of page one, in theory, but searches where you rank in the top five are going to be your best targets. The team at STAT produced an in-depth white paper on Featured Snippets across a very large data set that showed a similar pattern, with about 30% of Featured Snippet URLs ranking in the #1 organic position.

If you’re not convinced yet, here’s another argument for the “Why should you care?” column. Once you’re ranking on page one, our data suggests that getting the Featured Snippet is more about relevance than ranking/authority. If you’re ranking #2–#5 it may be easier to compete for position #0 than it is for position #1. Featured Snippets are the closest thing to an SEO shortcut you’re likely to get in 2016.

The double-edged sword of Featured Snippets (for Google) is that, since the content comes from our websites, we ultimately control it. I showed in a previous post how we fixed a Featured Snippet with updated data, but let’s get to what you really want to hear — can we take a Featured Snippet from a competitor?

A while back, I did a search for “What is Page Authority?” Page Authority is a metric created by us here at Moz, and so naturally we have a vested interest in who’s ranking for that term. I came across the following Featured Snippet.

At the time, DrumbeatMarketing.net was ranking #2 and Moz was ranking #1, so we knew we had an opportunity. They were clearly doing something right, and we tried to learn from it. Their page title addressed the question directly. They jumped quickly to a concise answer, whereas we rambled a little bit. So, we rewrote the page, starting with a clear definition and question-targeted header:

This wasn’t the only change, but I think it’s important to structure your answers for brevity, or at least summarize them somewhere on the page. A general format of a quick summary at the top, followed by a deeper dive seems to be effective. Journalists sometimes call this an “inverted pyramid” structure, and it’s useful for readers as well, especially Internet readers who tend to skim articles.

In very short order, our changes had the desired impact, and we took the #0 position:

This didn’t take more authority, deep structural changes, or a long-term social media campaign. We simply wrote a better answer. I believe we also did a service to search users. This is a better page for people in a hurry and leads to a better search snippet than before. Don’t think of this as optimizing for Featured Snippets, or you’re going to over-optimize and be haunted by the Ghost of SEO Past. Think of it as being a better answer.

What should you target?

Featured Snippets can require a slightly different and broader approach to keyword research, especially since many of us don’t routinely track questions. So, what kind of questions tend to trigger Featured Snippets? It’s helpful to keep in mind the 5 Ws (Who, What, When, Where, Why) + How, but many of these questions will generate answers from the Knowledge Graph directly.

To keep things simple, ask yourself this: is the answer a matter of simple fact (or a “factoid”)? For example, a question like “How old is Beyoncé?” or “When is Labor Day?” is going to be pulled from the Knowledge Graph. While human curation can’t keep up with the pace of the web, WikiData and other sources are still impressive and cover a massive amount of territory. Typically, these questions won’t produce Featured Snippets.

What and implied-what questions

A good starting point is “What…?” questions, such as our “What is Page Authority?” experiment. This is especially effective for industry terms and other specialized knowledge that can’t be easily reduced to a dictionary definition.

Keep in mind that many Featured Snippets appear on implied “What…” questions. In other words, “What” never appears in the query. For example, here’s a Featured Snippet for “PPC”:

Google has essentially decided that this fairly ambiguous query deserves an answer to “What is PPC?” In other words, they’ve implied the “What.” This is fairly common now for industry terms and phrases that might be unfamiliar to the average searcher, and is a good starting point for your keyword research.

Keep in mind that common words will produce a dictionary entry. For example, here’s a Knowledge Card for “What is search?”:

These dictionary cards are driven by human-curated data sources and are not organic, in the typical sense of the word. Google has expanded dictionary results in the past year, so you’ll need to focus on less common terms and phrases.

Why and how questions

“Why… ?” questions are good fodder for Featured Snippets because they can’t easily be answered with factoids. They often require some explanation, such as this snippet for “Why is the sky blue?”:

Likewise, “How…?” questions often require more in-depth answers. An especially good target for Featured Snippets is “How to… ?” questions, which tend to have practical answers that can be summarized. Here’s one for “How to make tacos”:

One benefit of “Why,” “How,” and “How to” questions is that the Featured Snippet summary often just serves as a teaser to a longer answer. The summary can add credibility to your listing while still attracting clicks to in-depth content. “How… ?” may also be implied in some cases. For example, a search for “convert PDF to Word” brings up a Featured Snippet for a “How to…” page.

What content is eligible?

Once you have a question in mind, and that question/query is eligible for Featured Snippets, there’s another piece of the targeting problem: which page on your site is best equipped to answer that question? Let’s take, for example, the search “What is SEO?”. It has the following Featured Snippet from Wikipedia:

Moz ranks on page one for that search, but it still begs two questions: (1) is the ranking page the best answer to the question (in Google’s eyes), and (2) what content on the page do they see as best matching the question. Fortunately, you can use the “site:” operator along with your search term to help answer both questions. Here’s a Featured Snippet for [site:moz.com "what is seo"]:

Now, we know that, within just our own site, Google is seeing The Beginner’s Guide as the best match to the question, and we have an idea of how they’re parsing that page for an answer. If we were willing to rewrite the page just to answer this question (and that certainly involves trade-offs), we’d have a much better sense of where to start.

What about Related Questions?

Featured Snippets have a close cousin that launched more recently, known to Google as Related Questions and sometimes called the “People Also Ask” box. If I run a search for “page authority,” it returns the following set of Related Questions (nestled into the organic results):

Although Related Questions have a less dominant position in search results than Featured Snippets (they’re not generally at the top), they’re more prevalent, occurring on almost 17% of the searches in our tracking data set. These boxes can contain up to four related questions (currently), and each question expands to look something like this:

At this point, that expanded content should look familiar — it’s being generated from the index, has an organic link, and looks almost exactly like a Featured Snippet. It also has a link to a Google search for the related question. Clicking on that search brings up the following Featured Snippet:

Interestingly, and somewhat confusingly, that Featured Snippet doesn’t exactly match the snippet in the Related Questions box, even though they’re answering the same question from the same page. We’re not completely sure how Featured Snippets and Related Questions are connected, but they share a common philosophy and very likely a lot of common code. Being a better answer will help you rank for both.

What’s the long game?

If you want to know where all of this is headed in the future, you have to ask a simple question: what’s in it for Google? It’s easy to jump to conspiracy theories when Google takes our content to provide direct answers, but what do they gain? They haven’t monetized this box, and a strong, third-party answer draws attention and could detract from ad clicks. They’re keeping you on their page for another few seconds, but that’s little more than a vanity metric.

I think the answer is that this is part of a long shift toward mobile and alternative display formats. Look at the first page of a search for “what is page authority” on an Android device:

Here, the Featured Snippet dominates the page — there’s just not room for much more on a mobile screen. As technology diversifies into watches and other wearables, this problem will expand. There’s an even more difficult problem than screen space, though, and that’s when you have no screen at all.

If you do a voice search on Android for “what is page authority,” Google will read back to you the following answer:

“According to Moz, Page Authority is a score developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific page will rank on search engines.”

This is an even more truncated answer, and voice search appends the attribution (“According to Moz…”). You can still look at your phone screen, of course, but imagine if you had asked the question in your car or on Google’s new search appliance (their competitor to Amazon’s Echo). In those cases, the Featured Snippet wouldn’t just be the most prominent answer — it would be the only answer.

Google has to adapt to our changing world of devices, and often those devices requires succinct answers and aren’t well-suited to a traditional SERP. This may not be so much about profiting from direct answers for Google as it is about survival. New devices will demands new formats.

How do you track all of this?

After years of tracking rich SERP features, watching the world of organic search evolve, and preaching that evolution to our customers and industry, I’m happy to say that our Product Team has been hard at work for months building the infrastructure and UI necessary to manage the rich and complicated world of SERP features, including Featured Snippets. Spoiler alert: expect an announcement from us very soon.

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 Is a Content Library? Plus Answers to 9 More Questions about This Innovative Lead Gen Approach

how to create a content library

In May 2013, a small company with fewer than 40 unusual employees made a historic lead generation move that resulted in stunning lead generation results. (I stress “unusual” in a good way.)

The company with those odd employees, of course, was Copyblogger Media (now known as Rainmaker Digital). The story of what happened follows.

The historic move:

Up until that point, Copyblogger had been offering an email newsletter to attract and capture email subscribers. Pretty standard in the online business world.

We wanted to up the ante.

So we launched My.Copyblogger.com — a free membership site, where people sign up to access (at the time) 15 free ebooks and a 20-part email course.

Think of a content library as a password-protected source of premium content that you can access once you register with your email address.

That’s essentially what a “content library” looks like. But how did it perform? Let’s look at the results to see.

The historic results:

According to the case study by Marketing Sherpa,

  • Through the first seven weeks, the free subscription page averaged a 67 percent conversion rate.
  • The first week’s growth was 300 percent bigger than the best week of growth for Internet Marketing for Smart People (a previous Copyblogger 20-part email course) — closer to 400 percent, if you include new paid subscribers.
  • The most visited page on Copyblogger at the time was behind the paywall — with almost a third of all traffic logging in after arrival.

Those are some substantial results, particularly in such a competitive space as content marketing.

Now, I can’t promise you the exact same outcome, but I can promise you that a content library will, at the very least, increase the number of subscribers you capture.

The key, as always, is to build trust first by providing a ton of value before asking for anything in return.

If that concept is new to you, then you can review how to build the know-like-trust factor.

In the meantime, let’s dig a little deeper into the common questions surrounding lead generating content libraries.

1. What’s a “content library?”

You’ll hear sales and marketing people refer to a content library as a bank of all the content assets owned by a company that is placed in a central, internal portal so other departments within that company can access that content.

That’s not what we are talking about here.

Yes, a content library is a bank of content, but in the way we will be using the phrase, it is full of resources that your audience can access once they register with an email address.

In other words, the public can access these resources, which makes this type of content library a lead generation tool.

2. What type of content goes into a content library?

You could include:

  • Ebooks
  • Videos
  • Webinars
  • Audio seminars
  • Podcast episodes
  • White papers
  • Infographics
  • Tutorials
  • Data and analysis reports

And more.

The trick is to offer enough value that prospects view signing up for your content library as a no-brainer — an insane bargain.

See Question 5 for some examples of ways you could structure your content library.

3. What makes a content library better than a conventional email newsletter?

When you offer more resources for the same price (in this case, an email address), you are naturally going to get better results.

Our case study is one such example.

With a content library, you are likely to elevate more of your visitors into an ongoing relationship — in other words, a content library will help you convert more prospects into solid leads.

But not just any type of lead.

See, the main difference between a typical email newsletter and a content library offer is that with the content library, you can now identify your site visitors, which ultimately helps you convert more leads into sales.

Let me explain.

4. What’s the difference between an email sign up and website registration?

In both cases, it’s true that the prospect gives you an email address. With a sign-up, you have permission to send that person email — namely, your email newsletter or latest published blog posts.

With a content library registration, you give your prospect access to a site — access to exclusive resources like ebooks, videos, webinars, forums, and more.

In the first situation, the content marketer is throwing stuff at the prospect. In the second, the content marketer is inviting you to his place — which is loaded with useful resources.

And like I said before, when people visit your site as signed-in members, you can customize your promotional messages, which leads to higher conversions.

5. How many resources should you put into a content library?

There isn’t a hard-and-fast rule.

However, you need to include more than one piece of content. Don’t forget: you are trying to create a sense of great value.

For example, a content library with two, five-page ebooks is not going to suggest high value. But four 50-page ebooks and seven 30-minute training videos, however, will suggest high value.

Here’s another way you could structure your content library:

  • 30 exclusive podcast episodes
  • 10 articles
  • 3 worksheets

As you can see, the numbers of ways you can structure your content library is limitless. Which leads us to our next question.

6. Do I give access to all the content at once?

The short answer is to start by giving away a large amount of content to create a sense of high value.

The ebooks in the original My.Copyblogger content library ranged between 31 and 142 pages — and there were 15 ebooks, plus a 20-part email course.

However, you can start small and build as time goes on.

For example, make the promise of adding more content once a month (or the frequency that works for you).

That strategy has a number of benefits.

It brings all those members back to your site every time you release a new piece of exclusive content.

In other words, you don’t need all the resources in place before you launch.

If you only have four ebooks and two podcast episodes, you can launch with that offer. But as you add more resources, don’t forget to update your content library’s promotional copy and alert your members.

7. How do I get people to my content library?

If you already have an email list in place, then promote your content library to that list.

With My.Copyblogger, an announcement was sent out to our general email list, and because there were 15 ebooks, there were 15 unique email promotions sent out, each one customized to that particular topic.

We sent out one of these emails a week, usually on a Friday.

Depending on the number of resources you have, your campaign might end up lasting two or three months.

Before sending each email, suppress the email addresses of people who have already registered, so those members of your community aren’t annoyed by seeing the same pitch multiple times.

If you don’t have a list (or want to continue promoting the content library after you’ve finished the campaign to your email list), the next step is to create high-quality, tutorial-type blog content that leads to a promotion of the content library.

Once people are on your site because of this high-quality, tutorial-type blog content, give them an opportunity to register.

Here are four useful ideas:

  • Include a footer at the end of each blog post that encourages visitors to register for your content library.
  • Add a sidebar that appears on every page of your website.
  • Create feature boxes that appear in the header of your website.
  • Use pop-overs and pop-ups (yes, there is a difference).

Learn more about these strategies in Beth Hayden’s article, 4 Quick Solutions that Spawn Radical Email List Growth.

8. Won’t content that requires a registration hurt SEO efforts?

No.

True, the content behind the registration wall won’t get crawled or indexed by Google (or any search engine for that matter).

However, search “copywriting” on Google and you’ll see that Copyblogger ranks at the top of the first page of search results. The rest of the topics in our content library are also on the first page of Google for terms like “content marketing,” “landing pages,” and “SEO copywriting.”

And every single one of those pages is what we call a cornerstone content page — which drives social and search traffic to register for the content library on My.Copyblogger.

9. Do I have to call it a “content library?”

Nope.

You can call it whatever you want to call it.

Here are my ideas for different industries like health, fashion, and cooking:

  • The Cross-Fit Foundation
  • 8 Beautiful Wardrobe Basics
  • Your Wok Recipe Essentials

It’s a good idea to mention in the description copy that this is a library of resources — and be very specific about what is in it.

You want to give your prospect the sense that there are some really juicy resources behind that registration wall.

10. Does this mean I’m starting a membership site?!?!

I added all those question marks and exclamation points because what most people say immediately after asking that question is … I’m not ready for that!

You get a real sense they are scared out of their wits.

If that’s you, relax, because registering people as members doesn’t mean you’re suddenly running a full-fledged membership site.

It just means people are joining your community.

However, if you achieve critical membership mass, a nice touch to your content library would be to offer a simple forum where your members could chat, share ideas, and ask you questions.

Our Rainmaker Platform enables someone who is dumber than a bag of bricks when it comes to coding (like me) to set up a password-protected content library — plus a forum — by simply grunting and pointing (like I do).

In the end, what really matters is that members of your community — even if what you offer them is free — benefit from content that’s tailored to their customer journeys.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Chief Content Writer for Rainmaker Digital

The post What Is a Content Library? Plus Answers to 9 More Questions about This Innovative Lead Gen Approach appeared first on Copyblogger.


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SearchCap: SEO Support, SEO Mistakes & DuckDuckGo Answers

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

The post SearchCap: SEO Support, SEO Mistakes & DuckDuckGo Answers appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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