Tag Archive | "Series"

Search Engine Land’s Community Corner: Introducing the “Ask the #SMXpert” series

A new Q&A series launches this week featuring answers to your questions from our community of SMX speakers and contributors.

The post Search Engine Land’s Community Corner: Introducing the “Ask the #SMXpert” series appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Posted in IM NewsComments Off

New Year’s Eve 2017 Google doodle brings back penguins for the holiday doodle series

Today’s New Year’s Eve image is the third entry in the series.

The post New Year’s Eve 2017 Google doodle brings back penguins for the holiday doodle series appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Posted in IM NewsComments Off

December global festivities Google doodle marks day 2 of Google’s holiday doodle series

Today’s doodle shows Google’s animated penguins celebrating the holidays with their warm weather friends.

The post December global festivities Google doodle marks day 2 of Google’s holiday doodle series appeared first on Search Engine Land.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


Search Engine Land: News & Info About SEO, PPC, SEM, Search Engines & Search Marketing

Posted in IM NewsComments Off

The Beginner’s Guide to Structured Data for SEO: A Two-Part Series

Posted by bridget.randolph

Part 1: An overview of structured data for SEO

SEOs have been talking about structured data for a few years now — ever since Google, Bing, Yahoo! and Yandex got together in 2011 to create a standardized list of attributes and entities which they all agreed to support, and which became known as Schema.org. However, there’s still a lot of confusion around what structured data is, what it’s for, and how and when to implement structured data for SEO purposes. In fact, a survey carried out last year by Bing found that only 17% of marketers are using (or were planning to use) Schema.org structured data markup.

In this two-part series, you’ll learn the basics of structured data: first we’ll talk about what it is, and how it relates to SEO (Part 1), and then I’ll take you through a simple process for identifying structured data opportunities and implementing structured data on your own site (Part 2).

What is “structured data”?

“Structured data” as a general term simply refers to any data which is organized (i.e., given “structure”). For example, if you have a bunch of scattered Post-It notes with phone messages about meetings, dates, times, people, etc, and you organize these into a table with labeled rows and columns for each type of information, you’re structuring the data.

Example of unstructured data

Post-It 1: “John called, confirming 3pm on Wed at Coffee Shop”

Post-It 2: “Don’t forget your 10am meeting at Mary’s Office this Friday”

Example of structured data

Meeting With

Date

Time

Location

John

Wednesday

3pm

Coffee Shop

Mary

Friday

10am

Office


Structured data can be used in many different ways, such as using Open Graph markup to specify a Facebook title and description, or using SQL to query a relational database. In an SEO context, “structured data” usually refers to implementing some type of markup on a webpage, in order to provide additional detail around the page’s content. This markup improves the search engines’ understanding of that content, which can help with relevancy signals and also enables a site to benefit from enhanced results in SERPs (rich snippets, rich cards, carousels, knowledge boxes, etc). Because this type of markup needs to be parsed and understood consistently by search engines as well as by people, there are standardized implementations (known as formats and/or syntaxes) and classifications of concepts, relationships, and terms (known as vocabularies) which should be used.

There are three syntaxes which search engines will typically support (Microdata, JSON-LD, and microformats) and two common vocabularies which can be used with these syntaxes: Schema.org and Microformats.org. Schema.org can be used with either the Microdata and JSON-LD syntaxes, while the microformats syntax and vocabulary go together. If you’re reading up on this topic, you may also see references to RDFa, which is another syntax.

*This all gets pretty confusing, so if you’re feeling less-than-crystal-clear right now, you might want to check out this great glossary cheat sheet from Aaron Bradley.


When we talk about structured data for SEO, we’re usually talking about the particular vocabulary known as “Schema.org.” Schema.org is the most commonly used approach to structured data markup for SEO purposes. It isn’t the only one, though. Some websites use the Microformats.org vocabulary, most often for marking up product reviews (h-review markup) or defining a physical location (h-card markup).

In addition to being able to use different vocabularies to mark up your site, you can also implement this markup in different ways using syntaxes. For Schema.org vocabulary, the best ways to add markup to your site are either through using the Microdata format, or JSON-LD. With Microdata markup, your structured data is integrated within the main HTML of the page, whereas JSON-LD uses a Javascript object to insert all of your markup into the head of the page, which is often a cleaner, simpler implementation from a development perspective.

The Microdata approach was originally the recommended one for SEO purposes, but Google’s JSON-LD support has improved in the past few years and now it is their recommended approach when possible. Note, however, that Bing does not currently support JSON-LD (although hopefully this may be changing soon).

How does structured data support SEO?

Google, Bing, and other search engines encourage webmasters to use structured data, and incentivize that usage by providing benefits to websites with structured data correctly implemented.

Some of these benefits include search result enhancements and content-specific features, such as:

  • Rich search results: Includes styling, images, and other visual enhancements
  • Rich cards: A variation on rich search results, similar to rich snippets and designed for mobile users
  • Enriched search results: Includes interactive or immersive features
  • Knowledge Graph: Information about an entity such as a brand
  • Breadcrumbs: Breadcrumbs in your search result
  • Carousels: A collection of multiple rich results in a carousel style
  • Rich results for AMP: To have your AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) appear in carousels and with rich results, you’ll need to include structured data

These enhanced search results can also improve your click-through rate (CTR) and drive additional traffic, because they are more visually appealing and provide additional information to searchers. And improved CTR can also indirectly improve your rankings, as a user behavior signal.

Implementing structured data on your site is also a way to prepare for the future of search, as Google in particular continues to move in the direction of hyper-personalization and solving problems and answering questions directly. Tom Anthony gave a presentation about this topic not too long ago, titled Five Emerging Trends in Search.

Common uses for structured data

Part 2 of this series will go into more detail around specific structured data opportunities and how to implement them. However, there are certain common uses for structured data which almost any website or brand can benefit from:

Knowledge Graph

If you have a personal or business brand, you can edit the information which appears on the right-hand side of the SERP for branded searches. Google uses structured data to populate the Knowledge Graph box.

Rich snippets and rich cards

The most commonly used markup allows you to provide additional context for:

  • Articles
  • Recipes
  • Products
  • Star Ratings and Product Reviews
  • Videos

Using this markup allows your site to show up in the SERPs as a rich snippet or rich card:

Google’s rich cards examples for “Recipe”

If your site has several items that would fit the query, you can also get a “host carousel” result like this one for “chicken recipes”:

Image source

In addition to these types of content markup, Google is currently experimenting with “action markup,” which enables users to take an action directly from the SERP, such as booking an appointment or watching a movie. If this is relevant to your business, you may want to express interest in participating.

AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages)

If your site uses AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages), you’ll want to make sure you include structured data markup on both the regular and AMP pages. This will allow your AMP pages to appear in rich results, including the Top Stories carousel and host carousels.

Social cards

Although Open Graph, Twitter cards, and other social-specific markup may not have a big impact from a purely SEO perspective, this markup is visible to search engines and Bing specifically notes that their search engine can understand Open Graph page-level annotations (although at the moment they only use this data to provide visual enhancements for a specific handful of publishers).

If you use any social networks for marketing, or simply want your content to look good when it’s shared on social media, make sure you correctly implement social markup and validate using the various platforms’ respective testing tools:

AdWords

You can include structured data in your AdWords ads, using structured snippet extensions. These allow you to add additional information within your ad copy to help people understand more about your products or services and can also improve click-through rate (CTR) on your ads.

Email marketing

If you have Gmail, you may have gotten a confirmation email for a flight and seen the information box at the top showing your flight details, or seen a similar information box for your last Amazon order. This is possible due to structured data markup for emails. Google Inbox and Gmail support both JSON-LD and Microdata markup for emails about various types of orders, invoices and reservations.

3 common myths about structured data & SEO

Myth #1: Implementing structured data means I will definitely get rich snippets.

Although using structured data markup is necessary to be eligible for rich snippets and rich cards, there is no guarantee that simply adding structured data markup to your site will immediately result in rich snippets or cards. Sometimes it may not show up at all, or may appear inconsistently. This doesn’t necessarily mean you’ve done anything wrong.

Myth #2: Structured data is a ranking signal.

Using structured data correctly can help search engines to better understand what your content is about and may therefore contribute to a stronger relevancy signal. In addition, studies have shown that rich snippets can improve click-through rate (CTR), which can lead to better rankings indirectly. However, the use of structured data markup on its own is not a direct ranking signal.

Myth #3: Google can figure it out without the extra work.

Sometimes it’s tempting to skip extra steps, like implementing structured data, since we know that Google is getting smarter at figuring things out and understanding content without much help. But this is a short-sighted view. Yes, Google and other search engines can understand and figure out some of this stuff on their own, but if you want them to be able to understand a specific thing about your content, you should use the correct markup. Not only will it help in the short term with the things the algorithms aren’t so good at understanding, it also ensures that your site itself is well structured and that your content serves a clear purpose. Also, Google won’t give you certain features without correct implementation, which could be costing you on a large scale over time, especially if you’re in a competitive niche. Apart from anything else, studies have shown that rich snippets can improve CTR by anywhere from 5%–30%.

Additional resources

In Part 2 of this two-part series, we’ll be looking at the practical side of structured data implementation: how to actually identify structured data opportunities for your site, and how to implement and test the markup correctly.

But for now, here are some resources to help you get started:

In the meantime, I’d love to hear from you: Have you implemented structured data markup on your site? Share your results in the comments!

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


Moz Blog

Posted in IM NewsComments Off

Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series

man telling a story at a cafe

In this cold, hard, commercial world, everyone is looking for answers online.

We are all “searchers” looking for the best way to solve a problem or satisfy a desire.

And we are ruthless …

We make split-second decisions about clicking a headline.

How does your website look at a glance?

If you try to consummate the fragile exchange of attention and education too quickly with a “buy this” button, you’ll likely lose long-term prospects and lifetime sales.

The reality is — whether you sell garden hoses or reputation management services — you have to master the know-like-trust factor first.

How do you accomplish this vital component of content marketing?

You educate people step-by-step.

And, if you ignite a feeling that inspires a commercial transaction, then you’ve created successful content marketing.

You lift prospects out of their ordinary worlds and invite them to consider a journey that ultimately leads to a transaction.

This article is all about how you create that journey.

Welcome to storyboarding

One idea we are quite fond of around here is the hero’s journey. It’s content marketing that educates your audience through the storytelling arc, and it works best with a blog series.

For example, last year I wrote a series on Google Authorship and Google+. It was a six-post series.

I could have approached the task by simply gathering and presenting the facts. Unfortunately, there were smarter people than me who’d already done that. I needed to give our audience something they couldn’t get elsewhere.

You, as you probably know, have the same problem. Some call it content shock.

It’s just reality.

The same was true this year when I tackled native advertising. I was late to this party, but we wanted to create a resource for our audience that added value to the current conversation. So, among other things, I used a special technique to create that content.

Storyboarding.

Radio commercial advertisers, television directors, animators, and screenwriters all employee this technique. And it’s something that content creators like you can use, too.

Here are six steps to help you storyboard an irresistible content series.

1. Discover your ideal audience

Do you even know what your audience looks like?

Keep in mind, this step is not about drafting a buyer persona. Instead, we want to figure out who your ideal audience is.

Fortunately, you can discover the answer by using an empathy map.

empathy-map

An empathy map is a simple tool that helps you crawl into the shoes of your customers. Here’s how you create an empathy map on your whiteboard or large sheet of paper:

  • Draw a large square.
  • Divide that square into four quadrants.
  • Label the quadrants “Think and Feel,” “See,” “Say and Do,” and “Hear.”
  • Create two boxes below labeled “Pain” and “Gain.”

Ask simple, open-ended questions to your audience:

  • What do you want to know?
  • Why?
  • What keeps you up at night?

On the diagram, fill in the responses, especially the ones that challenge your assumptions about what you thought you knew. Then, you begin to empathize with your ideal audience.

Empathy is really understanding, seeing, and relating to a person’s views. When someone has a certain belief about the world and you confirm it for him, that’s a very powerful psychological connection.

One of the beautiful benefits of the audience-first approach is that when you create content that resonates with people, and it’s well-organized and easily discoverable, then it gets shared and you get the links you want.

2. Inform your hunch

A good blog series starts with a hunch. A theory. An idea about how you think the world works, how certain problems should be solved.

This hunch may be fuzzy. It might just be a word or two. Whatever it is, use it as a stepping stone.

This will get you started in the right direction. Next, do this:

  • Exhaust the search engine: Jump on your favorite search engine and pull up all the articles on your topic. Follow links, take notes, recognize where people are going, trends that are developing. If you don’t find much material, you may be onto something rare. That’s not a bad thing. But it hardly happens. Keep digging.
  • Expose the keywords: Keyword research helps you see where your root idea branches off. Google Keyword Tool or Scribe can help you see how topics are related. You’ll discover new connections. You might want to take a look at Neil Patel’s article on semantic research to learn how to group these keywords.
  • Conduct interviews: Reach out to people who advocate for and against your position. Adding quotes from authorities to your articles adds a depth and freshness that people appreciate. This is good journalism. This is good content direction.
  • Survey: Both readers and Google are looking for original and fresh content. One of the best ways to produce it is to develop an idea out of an original survey. This was the approach I took with the native advertising series. I had a hunch about native advertising — namely, it was a hot topic inside the industry, but everyone else (including many marketers) was clueless. The results from the survey helped inform the direction and content of the series.
  • Eavesdrop on the competition: The next step to understanding topics and language is to get out there and see what else there is. Don’t be intimidated by the level of competition. Find the holes. Find out what you can do differently. Find out what people complain about.

It’s “marketing research tough love.”

As Brian Clark said:

You effectively need to grill yourself on your own assumptions and expectations of how you think this particular idea or industry or content marketing approach is going to go. Then you need to effectively try to disprove yourself. There is no fault or crime in being wrong, as long as you find out you’re wrong before it’s too late.

baked-potato

3. Compile

Next, gather all of your material.

How you compile depends upon your style. I prefer a large whiteboard.

I collect all my notes on Evernote and then list them on the whiteboard. This is where the story of your series starts to take shape.

whiteboard-storytelling

You make categories, and then drop related notes beneath the labels.

At the compilation stage, you will discover holes in your research. More questions will be raised. Make notes about these questions and gaps.

You’ll come across further questions later in the writing process, as well. That’s fine. Repeat Step Two as many times as needed.

4. Create a narrative

This is where you bring it all together. One way to think about this process is episodic education. We are taking a playbook out of cable television, motion pictures, commercials, radio, and animation.

In other words, storyboarding is a technique that visualizes the sequence of a story.

Here’s a classic example of a storyboard. In this scene, Forrest Gump compares scars with Lyndon B. Johnson.

forrestgump-storyboard

According to the DGA Quarterly, “Chris Bonura’s storyboards helped director Robert Zemeckis meld archival footage with new footage.”

As a writer, storyboarding helps you:

  • Define the parameters of a story within available resources and time
  • Organize and focus a story
  • Figure out what medium to use for each part of the story
  • Start and publish the first article without writing the remaining articles

Once you’ve compiled your facts, think about the narrative flow.

How is each individual article going to dovetail into the next? What is the central conflict? The main challenge?

This won’t be as neat as a novel, and you won’t use illustrations (unless you have the talent). You just need to arrange your ideas into a story-like sequence.

See, your story needs a framework, and this is where the idea of scaffolding is helpful. It gives dimension and direction to your series. Scaffolding helps you corral and streamline all of your research into one big idea.

This could be as simple as using the 5 W’s or the copywriting formula Problem-Agitate-Solve.

In addition, a framework builds anticipation into each article. With each article in the series, you program your readers to anticipate the next scene in the story. But you can’t storyboard effectively, however, until you have a hook that unifies the entire series.

5. Find the hook

The hook is the unifying theme. It could be a motif. A worldview. But it always involves conflict.

In the Google Authorship series, the hook was the shared fear of obscurity that most writers suffer. That concern was manifested in the opening article with the introduction of Hunter S. Thompson, an apt mascot for our series and our culture.

In 1959, before his fame, Thompson wrote:

As things stand now, I am going to be a writer. I’m not sure that I’m going to be a good one or even a self-supporting one, but until the dark thumb of fate presses me to the dust and says, ‘you are nothing,’ I will be a writer.

He wondered why he had to park his personality at the door. Why can’t he, the journalist, be a central part of the story? Thompson went on to challenge other journalistic conventions, and make history.

And that conflict — the fear of authorial obscurity — became the central motif behind the Google Authorship series. Thompson was the hero we were happy to follow.

His spirit remained throughout the series, but discovering that motif was not instantaneous. Hooks will hide from you. You must dig (see Step Two).

6. Repurpose

Finally, after all that research and note-taking and storyboarding, you’ll write that first article, and before you know it, six weeks have gone by and you are exhausted.

But don’t rest yet. There’s still something else you need to think about: repurposing your content.

Could your series work as a:

  • Podcast series
  • Book
  • SlideShare
  • Sequence of email autoresponder messages
  • Video seminar
  • Landing page

All of the above? Probably so.

You can put your creation in each new medium over a long period of time, always directing traffic to the original posts, giving life to your archives. And even make money from those old posts.

Let’s not forget, your blog series can also become cornerstone content.

Your turn

So, at the end of the day, if you want to capture the attention of a prospect hell-bent on finding what she wants, then create a content series that answers her most pressing needs or satisfies her curiosity — in a manner that appeals to the way she thinks, feels, and acts.

But storyboard it, like you were creating a cable television show or comic book.

This is a gentle, non-threatening way to open up the relationship — one where you respect your prospect, and, ultimately, your prospect recognizes and respects your authority. She views spending money with you as a sound investment.

And for one final example of a content series built like a story, check out our New Rainmaker podcast hosted by Robert Bruce and Brian Clark.

Let us know what you think here.

Flickr Creative Commons Image via Jim Pennucci.

About the author

Demian Farnworth

Demian Farnworth is Copyblogger Media’s Chief Copywriter. Follow him on Twitter or Google+.

The post Master This Storytelling Technique to Create an Irresistible Content Series appeared first on Copyblogger.

Related Stories

Copyblogger

Posted in IM NewsComments Off


Advert