Tag Archive | "Tips"

How to lead SEO teams and track its performance effectively: Experts’ tips

Leading an SEO team is not an easy task, whether it’s an in-house or an agency one. Moreover, tracking and measuring results is a critical part of any SEO campaign. You need to make sure that your work provides the results.

In this article, you’ll learn how to effectively guide your SEO team and assess their performance from nine outstanding experts in this niche.

People we’ve asked

Julian Redlich

1. Julian Redlich @JulianRedlich

Product Manager (SEO) at Booking.com. Leading the product vision and development efforts for all of our over >100M landing pages for all demand channels (paid/organic) with a team of developers, designers, and copywriters.

 

 

 

 

 

Braden Becker2. Braden Becker @BradenBecker

Senior SEO Strategist at HubSpot. Writer, editor, marketer, photographer, athlete, environmentalist, and SEO strategist.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Vytautas Palovis

3. Vytautas Palovis @VytautasPalovis

SEO & International Growth Lead | Oberlo at Shopify. An experienced ‘T-shaped’ digital marketer with strong skills across a broad range of Digital disciplines such as SEO, Web Analytics, A/B & MVT testing, PPC campaigns, content marketing, affiliate marketing, email marketing.

 

 

 

 

Chris Makara

4. Chris Makara @ChrisMakara

Senior Digital Marketing Analyst at Insperity. A self-taught SEO expert with more than 15 years of digital marketing experience, who helps business owners reach their goals by building and implementing an effective digital strategy.

 

 

 

 

Marcus Miller

5. Marcus Miller @marcusbowlerhat

SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing Consultant and Strategist at Bowler Hat. SEO, PPC & Digital Marketing consultant with over 18 years experience.

 

 

 

 

 

Rodrigo Stockebrand

6. Rodrigo Stockebrand @spanglishseo

Vice President, Digital Analytics & SEO at Univision Communications Inc.  A professional search engine optimization and marketing (SEO/SEM) and digital analytics practitioner, trainer, and consultant with over 15 years of experience in the industry.

 

 

 

 

 

Artem Melikian

7. Artem Melikian

Team Lead of SEO at Netpeak Agency. A professional SEO specialist and digital marketer.

 

 

 

 

Sean Si

8. Sean Si @SEO_Hacker

CEO and Founder at SEO Hacker. An SEO specialist, Growth Hacker, internet marketer, Copywriter, and blogger.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Eren Kozik

9. Eren Kozik @ErenKozik

Founder and Head of SEO at SEOPT. He has been in the online industry for over 15 years now. In digital marketing, especially in the field of search engine optimization, he feels particularly at home.

 

 

 

Questions we asked and they answered

1. How do you measure the results of your SEO team and individual members?

Julian Redlich

At Booking.com, we do not have SEOs in the traditional sense; rather my team consists of Backend Developers, Frontend Developers, Designers, Analysts, and Copywriters. All of them contribute to a collectively designed vision in our agile environment but approach this from a different angle. As a Product Manager, I prioritize the tasks for the team in alignment with business priorities, although this isn’t without input from the team. At Booking.com, we put the customer at the center of everything we do, and all of us are working together to leverage their own special skill sets to accomplish this collective goal.

Braden Becker

We use organic traffic to measure our SEO team’s performance, and this extends to multiple properties belonging to our website. However, a variety of factors can drive the results we see, and we go through a process of elimination to diagnose issues and attribute successes. When analyzing a period of low performance, for example, things like seasonality, international traffic, and updates to Google’s ranking algorithm are often the first to be looked at.

Individual employees are rather measured by where they’re spending their time, how they’re thinking about team challenges, and what they’re doing to address them. Everyone here has pretty specific focuses, and this makes it easy to hold ourselves accountable when things go particularly wrong or right.

Vytautas Palovis

We have monthly goals, as well as projection for the rest of the year. There are two main KPIs which we track as a team:

  • Organic traffic
  • Conversions from organic traffic

Also, we have a bunch of individual metrics for each SEO area we work on:

  • On-page SEO optimization, we check before/after improvements in terms of organic traffic change.
  • For off-page SEO, we do track how many unique referring domains we gained (when it comes to off-page SEO, we create a different type of content – linkable assets, as we call them). We also check how powerful are these links, DA/DR metrics, are these links contextual, did they move the needle and helped that page rank better.

Chris Makara

Sometimes it depends on the overall goal of the initiative, but it usually can be done by keeping track of a spreadsheet or looking at results in Ahrefs.

Marcus Miller

We try to take a more holistic approach to SEO than others do. Which is, we don’t just look at organic rankings for a handful of keywords. We really try and look at various KPIs which are typically customized to the needs of each client. I talk about this in some detail in this post.

We tend to have two sets of primary KPIs:

SEO KPIs

These are KPIs that show us that our SEO health metrics are all going in the right direction:

  • Rank for main converting keywords (local/organic)
  • Rank for secondary benchmark keywords (local/organic)
  • Majestic Citation Flow
  • Majestic Trust Flow
  • Majestic Trust & Citation Balance
  • Moz Domain Authority
  • Moz Page Authority
  • Moz Spam Score

Real-world SEO KPIs

We then track what we call real-world KPIs designed to tell us if the improvements in the SEO metrics are tracking to real-world results.

  • Increase in organic traffic
  • Increase in the number of pages on the site that generate traffic
  • Increase in non-branded search traffic
  • Percentage increase in organic conversions
  • Percentage increase in traffic from specific geographic regions
  • Organic Impressions (Search Console)
  • Organic Click-Through Rate (CTR) (Search Console)

Rodrigo Stockebrand

At Univision, our team’s goals are aligned with business objectives for Digital and we measure results based on macro, micro, and nano SEO metrics. Macro would be things like growth in traffic, conversions, revenue, etc. Micro would be things like improvements to page speed, lower bounce rates/exits, and growth in keywords in the top three. And nano metrics would be the positive movement of each individual page for its core keywords, as well as victories like capturing position “0” or getting premium placement in news, video, or image carousel.

For individual contributors, I measure their results in terms of completion of key action items as well as the contribution that those activities had towards performance growth. And while I do help with the assignments and prioritization of tasks, each team member is encouraged to come up with their own assignments, tasks, and performance KPIs.

The main things that I’m looking to accomplish with this method are:

• Empower everyone to create their own performance and task roadmap – you may know far better than I, what’s important and when it should be done. I want people to have the flexibility and freedom to choose.

• Reward value where it’s due – some of the most important tasks in our department have no impact (at least not directly) on organic search performance. Nonetheless, they are critical in getting other things (that do have a direct impact) moving forward. Therefore, for those individuals that are great at moving these particular pieces, we put less importance on the traffic growth side of performance. In general, I want people to do what they do best and measure them fairly for those tasks, whether they impact performance directly or not. Because in the end, it’s even the stairs to the ship that makes its voyage possible.

Artem Melikian

Of course, we measure the result of teamwork in the number of growing projects and in the volume of growth based on data from the analytics of organic channels. But there are other metrics important to the team:

  • Number of projects (the number of old projects should not decrease, and new projects should come)
  • Work with budgets (projects should increase the budget if it’ll be useful)

A very similar process is for individual team members. Each specialist is interested in the growth of his/her project. For juniors, it’s a little more complicated.

Sean Si

Through our KPIs (Key Performance Indicators). We have different teams that specialize in the various facets of SEO – content, tech, links, strategizing. Our team’s results are measured by being able to produce a set number that coincides with their monthly quotas. So, that’s the primary way we measure results, but for other select teams, we measure results through rankings since that is what we specialize in. So, if a client does not rank well, that means the team in charge of coming up with strategies/experiments/tasks to make a client rank are not performing well.

Eren Kozik

Here we use a variety of systems and SEO tools, not only to record project progress and communicate but also to record the results of the team (before / after). As we have no programmers and no need for custom development, we mostly use systems from valued tool providers. Sistrix, Ahrefs, ScreamingFrog, Google Analytics and Google Search Console are the most important tools for us to measure and log the progress and (partial) results of our work. The toolset may change, depending on the requirement and the target.

2. Which CRM systems do you use?

Braden Becker

HubSpot uses its very own HubSpot CRM, and we recommend it to others! It’s completely free, forever.

Vytautas Palovis

We usually use these two tools:

  • Ahrefs
  • Google Search Console

Chris Makara

For SEO, I usually use a combination of tools. These are Serpstat, Ahrefs, Google Sheets, Website Auditor, Google Analytics, Google Data Studio, and Reports.io.

Marcus Miller

We don’t use a dedicated CRM at Bowler Hat and we tend to manage most of our projects within the Asana work management platform. We track leads and sales for Bowler Hat within Asana and we manage all client projects within Asana. Great tool. ”</p

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Seven SEO tips for image link building to generate more traffic

A picture is worth a thousand words. If we talk about digital marketing, a strategically used picture could be worth a thousand links. Links play a pivotal role in the success of your digital marketing and eventually, your brand’s growth strategy and that’s why image-based link building is a key factor for your search engine ranking.

Put simply, link building is getting your website including your blog, articles, and resources linked by other websites. Your images, infographics, and memes, too, can be used for link building and turn your page into a link magnet.

Readers pay close attention to information-carrying images. According to research by Brain, three days after reading or hearing a piece of information, people can remember only 10% of it. However, if the information is presented in an easy to grasp graphic, that percentage goes up to 65%.

And for that reason, 32% of marketers insist that images are the most important type of content in their digital marketing strategy.

Images can increase your website traffic by 12%Social media updates with images get 150% more shares than those without any image.

Want to see your images generating backlinks and generating traffic? Check out the following:

1. Create images that others want to engage with

If you are a digital marketer, you cannot avoid using images. But, creating images that encourage people to take some kind of action – such as to share or to fill up the contact form – requires strategic efforts.

The best way to do that is to create something that your users might be interested in. Share something that revolves around and resolves their pain points.

Keep your images simple and the information in it easy to digest. Some of the most engaged-with images are those that have facts, how-to guides, tips, and quotes.

Shares by content type

Source: Buzzsumo

Be regular with your posting and keep monitoring the behavior of your audience on each of your updates. The ones that get most shares, likes, comments, and downloads are the ones your audience likes to see and the ones you should center on.

2. Use image resources and creation tools

First, you need images to support your articles, blogs, web content, and social media updates. Then, you will need to fine-tune those images to fit into your requirements.

ShutterStock, iStockPhoto, and AdobeStock are some of the top platforms to get high-quality graphics for your updates and articles. If you are looking for high-quality images without stressing your marketing budget, Pexels, Pixabay, StockSnap, and Unsplash are a few places to visit.

For editing and creation, you could use Canva, the best online platform for creating compelling graphics for your texts and social media updates. With their sea of pre-loaded templates, this task becomes a cakewalk. Some other image editing tools are AdobeSpark, Fotor, and Pixlr.

3. Use infographics to make your content easy to digest

Although there is a mention of infographic in the article earlier, the point is vast and important that it gets a separate cover.

In modern digital marketing, the use of infographics allows marketers to increase their text’s readability and drive engagement. Infographics grab more attention. In fact, an infographic is 30 times more likely to be read than a purely textual article.

About 65% of B2B marketers use infographics for their marketing emails, presentations, and blogs. And 30% of them create infographics on their own.

Creating engaging infographics requires hours and days of research, along with a creative mindset to come up with an interactive, interesting, and unique layout.

You could use tools like Piktochart, Venngage, Visme, and Easel.ly to create infographics like a pro. You can also create infographics with Microsoft PowerPoint.

4. Make your images discoverable

So, now you know how to create graphics for your website and social media. What if people can’t find your image?

No matter how impressive your images are, if no one can find them when they need it most or if no one seeing it, it is of no worth.

To be found on search engines, your images will need to be crawled by crawlers or robots sent by search engines to your website. Since these robots cannot decipher images, you will need to make some alternative arrangements so search engine robots can understand and index your images.

On social media, you will need to follow a completely different strategy in order to make your graphics easy to find by users. On Twitter and LinkedIn, there is an option to add a short description for your images. Pinterest too asks you to add a description to each of your posts.

On Facebook, Instagram, and other platforms including Twitter and LinkedIn, you can increase the visibility of your posts by using the right and trending hashtags.

The easier it is to find your images, the higher is its visibility and engagement.

5. Find out who is using your image

As a marketer, you should know how many websites link to your images and how many are using them without your permission. It is an important metric for your business and digital marketing strategy building.

If you have uploaded an image on the Internet, you cannot actually control it or stop people from using it. But, there are ways to find out who all are using your graphics.

There is no harm if you are given credit or backlink. But if someone unauthorized or without allowance is using your image, it could have an impact on your search engine ranking.

Open Google Image Search, and upload or paste the link of your picture. You shall see a list of similar images being used by others.

A couple of similar tools to locate your images on the World Wide Web are TinEye and ImageRaider. Using both these tools, you can also figure out if your images have been cropped, reversed or flipped.

Once you have found unauthorized use of your images, ask the webmaster or admin of the page to give you credit or remove it from their database.

6. Instagram and Pinterest paid marketing

Social media is an unavoidable practice for a digital marketer. It is an immense boost to your SEO efforts.

To make the most of your high-quality images, you could turn to Instagram and Pinterest – the most happening image sharing platforms – that are also in the list of top 10 most used social networks.

That makes Instagram a very popular and super-active marketing platform. With Instagram marketing, you can connect with your audience across multiple channels. You can also create eye-attracting ads that have high engagement rate and improved ROI.

86% of brands use Instagram and at an average 72% of these brands post at least 1 picture every week. Engagement on Instagram graphics is growing with every passing year and Pinterest is 80% more viral and 3x more effective at generating leads than Twitter. In fact, Pinterest Marketing converts more and faster than any other social media platform. Another plus side about Pinterest is that it has fewer steps from discovery to conversion and it saves marketers a lot of time.

Posting and tracking Instagram and Pinterest activities on a day-to-day basis could be is challenging. So, you could consider using social media management tools. which can ease your day by allowing you to check analytics and schedule your updates.

7. Analyze your competitor’s images

Checking out the activities of competitors has always been a part of traditional marketing strategies. Even in the era of digital and social, you should always be aware of what your competitors are doing.

Follow their feeds anonymously and check out their social media updates and website more often.

Doing so, you can keep yourself updated with the latest marketing trends. This also helps find out the type of content they are leveraging to draw traffic and engagement.

With that, you can take inspiration for your content strategy and gain customer attention through your marketing campaigns. You can even engage with your competitors, sometimes, to draw engagement and attention.

Take an exchange of Tweets between Audi and BMW from last year. BMW tweeted a marketing material using the logo of Audi.

 Image link building example BMW and Audi

 

Taking a note of it, Audi commented with the following:

Image link building example Audi

That simply shows that Audi not only follows BMW but doesn’t hesitate in engaging with their update. BMW, too, didn’t ignore their mention. They came quickly with a hilariously mouth-shutting reply.

It is both an example of keeping an eye on competitor’s activities as well as never letting a chance of engagement slip. Both BMW and Audi are competitors both follow each other on all social networks.

PostPlanner has compiled a list of top brands to follow to take inspiration from for your social media graphics. This list compilation includes brands from different industries. So, no matter what industry you belong to, this list is going to be a great help for you.

There is another way, you can perform competitor analysis. Find free and paid productivity tools based on your budget and requirement. One such tool is a must-have resource for your SEO and SMO teams these days.

I hope these tips help you create outstanding visual graphics for your brand, boost your social and on-site engagement, and generate more traffic to your website. The focus should be on creating pictures that offer users some information they can use. And that is the most important point here.

Moving forward, prepare a list of your on-site images that Google and other search engines have indexed. Make another list pointing out the images that have been used legally by others. They are an authentic backlink for your image and site. Make efforts for the ones used illegally and turn them into an official backlink.

The post Seven SEO tips for image link building to generate more traffic appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

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Tips to qualify link building prospects in minutes

Link builders know that qualifying prospects is extremely time-consuming, and a tool that helps you find the relevant prospects fast is gold. This guide will show you a simple method to obtain a list of relevant prospects in several minutes rather than days, or weeks of manual work.

You either have time, either money, usually, or maybe you are short of both of them, which is a very challenging situation, yet not hopeless. However, these two resources, money and time are related and one way to increase your profit is to actually make many things in less time. The faster you solve problems, the more clients you can help, the more customers you get, well basically, you make more money. This is why doing things by hand is not an option if you consider SEO more than just a hobby; you simply waste too much time this way. So you will have to use some tools, and two very powerful pieces of software for getting and processing large amounts of data are Screaming Frog and Microsoft Excel.

If you are a freelancer or a small SEO agency you should know that Screaming Frog is not a cheap solution. The software itself is not very expensive (not expensive at all, actually), but to use it at its full potential – parsing huge websites, or lists of URLs requires quite a powerful PC configuration. However, you can eat an elephant one bite at a time, as they say, so here is a guide that helps you know “How to crawl large websites using the Screaming Frog SEO Spider“. A free alternative is Xenu’s Link Sleuth, but this cute little program is getting older, and older as it hasn’t been updated for almost a decade. However, Xenu is free and fast. As for Excel, some quite decent free alternatives are Google Sheets and Open Office.

Handling Excel sheets with hundred of rows also requires a powerful PC. A computer with a generous amount of memory, and a vigorous processor that’ll allow you to run Screaming Frog properly and also sort and filter huge amounts of data in Excel. So, if you plan to take your SEO business serious, you will have to spend some money to save time, but it is going to be a great investment in the long run. In case you want to have a PC well configured for Screaming Frog, here is the recommended hardware for it.

Anyway, let’s get back to our main topic – “How to qualify link building prospects fast?

1. Searching for relevant websites 

First things first, in order to get what you want, you actually have to know what you need. So what are you looking for?

Let’s say we want to start a “broken links” type link building campaign for a website about aircraft modeling. In this case, we will try to find some relevant pages from relevant websites.

But what does “relevant” mean actually? Well, for you it means that the ideal prospects should be websites containing pages with:

  • The “links” or “resources” terms in the URL, and
  • The “aircraft modeling” related keywords in the title tag, in the body, and/or inside the anchors – basic on-page SEO, actually.

Tip

The links page are not only good link building opportunities, but also gates to even more relevant prospects. Those external links with relevant keywords in their anchors could take you to even more relevant prospects.

Now that we know what we want, it is time to search for those ideal websites. We could do that in a couple of ways:

  • Just search for “aircraft modeling”, you will get quantity, but not the best relevance (a large list containing many websites including a lot of not so relevant results too).

If we want some more relevant results we should narrow a bit the search using the advanced operators as follows:

  • aircraft modelling inurl:htm – To get websites containing the term “links.htm” in the URLs.
  • aircraft modelling intitle:”aircraft modelling”– To get websites containing your keywords in the title tags
  • aircraft modelling intext:”aircraft modelling”– To get websites containing your keywords somewhere in the body.

Another somewhat useful search operator was inanchor: which is used to search for websites containing certain keywords in their anchors. Unfortunately, Google abandoned this operator a few years ago, but we are going to use Screaming Frog to extract those anchors.

Personally, I usually use the first variant, that offers me those links pages from relevant websites, and do the rest of filtering with Screaming Frog and Excel, as you will see below. However, feel free to experiment.

2. Getting the links pages

Well, there are some quite good paid services and programs for scraping results from the search engines, but I’ll show you a couple of free solutions to that:

  • Link Grabber, a free Chrome extension
  • Google Results Bookmarklet, also free, working on both Mozilla Firefox and Chrome

The scraping process is simple. You just need to follow the steps mentioned below:

  1. Install Google Results Bookmarklet (drag that green button from this page to your bookmarks toolbar)
  2. Enter the preferred keywords in Google

how to qualify link building prospects step 2

  1. Go to “Settings”, and set Google to display 100 results

how to qualify link building prospects step 3

  1. Push the button “SERPS’18” from your toolbar and a new page will open

how to qualify link building prospects step 4

  1. You will see the URLs at the bottom of the resulting page. It’ll look something like this:

how to qualify link building prospects step 5

  1. Do the same for the next pages and copy/paste the URLs in an Excel file

how to qualify link building prospects step 6

  1. Use the filter to see only the pages containing “links/resources” in their URLs. This is something you can skip if your search contained inurl:links.htm, as Google probably has already done this filtering for you.

how to qualify link building prospects step 7

Tip

You can filter out URLs that are not containing a certain extension, this is very useful when you target a particular country (such as .uk, .ca, .au, and any other country-based domains).

That’s it. In about a couple of minutes, you have managed to create a list of some hundreds of links pages from possible relevant websites. This is the point where the hard work of qualifying prospects usually begins, only that this time Screaming Frog will do this for you.

How to find relevant prospects from a list?

  1. Set the “List” mode in Screaming Frog

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 1

  1. In Configuration/Spider/Limits set the Crawl Depth to “zero” – you want Screaming Frog to read and extract data from that list only, not to crawl the URLs.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 2

  1. Paste the URLs in Screaming Frog and hit “Start”.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 3

Tip

Optionally, you can enter some relevant keywords in the Custom/Search fields. This will display the pages containing those keywords (something like intext:keywords).

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 3

  1. When Screaming Frog hits 100%, export “All Outlinks”, and you will see all the links, both internal and external, (this is that inanchor:operator I have mentioned above), along with their anchors and the “Source” pages.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 4

Tip

If you want to select only the external links, simply bulk export the external links.

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 4

  1. Import the list in Excel. Now, you will use the Advanced Filters in Excel.  Note: If you want to learn more about using filters, this Microsoft guide could be helpful.

The process of sorting is not that complicated. You just need to enter the criteria of sorting above the URLs. These criteria will contain the relevant keywords to your website (something like =*model aircraft*).

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 5

The logic behind this is that the links with relevant keywords in their anchors are signs of both relevance to your website and interest in your website.

  • Relevant pages usually have links with keywords in their anchors pointing to relevant websites.
  • If a website has already linked to a site similar to yours, it should be interested in your site too.
  1. Select the anchors to be filtered

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 6

  1. Select the criteria

how to find relevant prospects from a list step 7

Hit “OK” and voilà!

Now you have a list full of probably up to 90% relevant prospects. Just get rid of the duplicate URLs, and you are ready to do some outreach.

how to find relevant prospects from a list - final outcome

Conclusion

There is a great variety of software these days that allow you to crunch huge volumes of data. So a possible shortage is in no case related to the number or complexity of the tools available, but rather to our ability to make the right choices and learn how to get the most out of them.

This is why you should be proud of yourself now, after reading this guide, you have just learned not only how to better use your time, but also several new things you can do with these two powerful pieces of software.

Marius Bujor is the SEO Magister Ludi at PRawareness.com.

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Supercharge Your Link Building Outreach! 5 Tips for Success – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Shannon-McGuirk

Spending a ton of effort on outreach and waking up to an empty inbox is a demoralizing (and unfortunately common) experience. And when it comes to your outreach, getting those emails opened is half the battle. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, we welcome recent MozCon 2019 alum Shannon McGuirk to share five of her best tips to make your outreach efficient and effective — the perfect follow-up to her talk about building a digital PR newsroom.

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

Video Transcription

Hi, Moz fans. My name is Shannon McGuirk. I’m the Head of PR and Content at a UK-based digital marketing agency called Aira. So at this year’s MozCon, I spoke about how to supercharge your link building with a digital PR newsroom and spoke about the three different types of media and journalist writing that we should be tapping into.

But I only had half an hour to be able to share my insights and thoughts. As a next step from that presentation, I need to equip you guys with everything in order to be able to go out and actually speak to these journalists. So for my Whiteboard Friday today, I’m going to be sharing my five tips for success for supercharging your outreach, specifically evolved around email outreach alone.

In the U.K. and in the U.S. as well, we’re seeing, as our industry grows and develops, journalists don’t want to be called anymore, and instead the best way to get in touch with them is via email or on social media. So let’s dive straight in. 

1. Subject lines A/B tests

So tip one then. I want to share some insights with you that I did for subject lines and specifically around some A/B testing.

Back in the early part of the summer, around April time, we started working on a tool called BuzzStream. Now that allowed us to be able to send different kinds of tests and emails out with a variety of different subject lines in order for us to understand how many open rates we were getting and to try and encourage journalists, through the use of our language and emojis, to open up those all-important pitch emails so that we could follow up and make sure that we’re bringing those links home.

Journalist’s name in subject line

So we ran two different types of A/B tests. The first one here you can see was with the journalist’s name in the subject line and the journalist’s name without. It turns out then that actually, when we were running this data, we were seeing far more opens if we had the journalist’s name in the subject line. It was getting their attention. It was getting that cut-through that we needed when they’re getting hundreds of emails per day and to see their name in a little nib meant that we were increasing open rates. So that was our first learning from test number one. 

“Data” vs “story tip”

Now test number two, we had a bit of a gut feel and a little bit of an instinct to feel that there were certain types of words and language that we were using that were either getting us more open rates or not. For this one specifically, it was around the use of the word “data.” So we compared the use of the word “data” with story tip, and again including the journalist’s name and not, to try and see how many journalists were opening up our emails.

At Aira, we have around a 33% open rate with any campaigns that we launch, and again this is tracked through BuzzStream. But when we started to do these A/B tests, combine story tip, full name, and then follow with “data,” we increased that to 52%. So that jump up, it doesn’t mean that you’re going to get 52% more links off the back of your outreach, but it means that you are getting more people opening up their email, considering your data, considering your campaigns, which is half of the problem, when we all know as outreachers, content marketers, digital PRs how difficult it can be for someone to even just open that initial approach.

So now, off the back of those A/B tests, make sure that whenever you’re writing those emails out you have story tip for Tom and then followed by data and whatever research you’ve got in that campaign. 

2. Headline language

For tip two then, keeping on the theme of language, I did a piece of research for another conference that I was speaking at earlier in the summer called SearchLeeds and another one called outREACH.

I analyzed 35,000 articles across 6 different top 10 news sites in the U.K. The language that came out of that, around the headlines specifically, was so interesting. So I split these 35,000 articles down into relevant sectors, took the likes of travel, automotive, business, what have you, and then I was able to create around 30 word clouds according to different articles that had been produced within these different industries at different titles.

I was able to start to see common words that were used in headlines, and that got my mind ticking a bit. I was starting to think, well, actually as a team, at Aira, we should be starting to pitch and use language within our pitches that journalists are already using, because they straightaway resonate with the story that we’ve got. So here’s a quick snapshot of the kind of word clouds that the analysis revealed.

You can kind of see some core words shining through. So we’ve got research, best, stats, experts, that kind of thing. Now the top five words that were most commonly used across all sectors within the headlines were: best, worst, data, new, and revealed. Now “data” is really interesting, because if we go back to our A/B testing, we know that that’s a strong word and that that will get you more opens with your subject lines.

But it also reaffirms that that A/B test is right and that we definitely should be using “data.” So combine story tip for that journalist’s name, Tom or what have you, with data and then start to use some of the language here, out of these top five, and again you’re going to increase your open rates, which is half of the problem with what we’re doing with outreach.

3. Use color

So tip three then. Now this was quite an experimental approach that we took, and a huge recommendation of mine, when you’re doing your email outreach, is actually to start to use color within that all-important pitch email itself. So we’ve moved from subject lines into looking at the body of the email. We use color and bolding back at Aira.

So we use color straightaway when we’re writing the email. So we’ll start with something like, “Dear Tom, I have a story that you might be interested in.” Straight under that, so we’re already using again the language that they’ll be using, story, going back to our A/B test. But then straight under that, we will bold, capitalize, and put in a really bright color — reds, greens, blues — nice, strong primary colors there the headline that we think Tom might write off the back of our outreach.

So here’s an example. “New data reveals that 21% of drivers have driven with no insurance.” Not the most exciting headline in the world. But if Tom here is an automotive editor or a digital online automotive writer, straightaway he knows what I’m talking to him about. Again, he can start to see how this data can be used to craft stories for his own audience.

Again, as I said, this is quite experimental. We’re in the early phases of it at Aira, but we know it’s working, and it’s something that I learnt, again, at outREACH conference too. Straight under this use of color with headline, you should pull out your key stats. Now only keep those bullet points to three to five. Journalists are busy.

They’re on deadlines. Don’t be having huge, bulk paragraphs or long-winded sentences. Tell them the headline, follow it up with the key stats. Be clean, be punchy, and get to the point really quickly. Below this, obviously sign off and include any press material, Google Drive links, press packs that you’ve got under that. Again, we’re seeing this work really, really well.

We’re still in the early stages, and I hope to share some insights, some kind of data and metrics as to the success results of it. But we’ve been able to secure links from the likes of the Mail Online, the Telegraph back in the U.K., and also last week just FoxBusiness using this exact approach. 

4. Use emojis

So tip four then, and again this is a really playful technique and something that we only learnt with experimentation.

Start to use emojis within your pitches as well. Now this can be used within the subject line. Again, you’re looking to try and get the journalist to get that piece of attention straightaway and look at your headline. Or start to use them within the body of the email too, because they break up that text and it makes your email stand out far more than if you have someone that’s pitching in a business piece of data and you’ve just got huge stacks and research pieces.

Actually throw in some emojis that are relating to the business world, a laptop or whatever it may be, something that proves your point around the campaign. Again, it’s more engaging for a journalist to read that. It means that they’ll probably remember your email over the other 200 that they’re getting that day. So really nice, simplistic tip then for me.

If you’re pitching something in the automotive world, put a car or traffic lights on the end. If you’re doing something in the travel sphere, sun, beaches, something that just gets that journalist’s eye. It means that your email is going to be opened above anyone else’s. 

5. Use Twitter

Finally then, so I know I’ve kept this around email outreach for the last couple of points.

But one thing that we’re seeing work really well with the implementation of this digital PR newsroom is starting to approach and speak to journalists on Twitter. Twitter we know is a new source for journalists. Trending topics will obviously be picked up in the press and covered on a daily if not hourly basis. As soon as something breaks on Twitter, we’ll see journalists, writers, bloggers turn that trending feature into an article that’s really resonant and relevant for their audience.

So in the run-up to your campaign, way before the launch, we’re talking like three or four weeks here, reach out to the journalists on Twitter. Start to engage with them. Like some articles. Start to let them know that you’re in and engaging with them on their social media platform. Don’t push it too hard.

You don’t want to go overboard with this. But a little bit of engagement here and there means that when your email comes into their inbox, it’s not a new name, and you’re already starting to build the foundations of that relationship. Secondary to this then, feel free and start to experiment with DM’ing journalists as well. We know that they’re getting two, three, or four hundred emails per day. If you take to Twitter and send them a quick overview of your up-and-coming campaign via a Twitter DM, it’s likely that they’ll read that on the journey home or potentially when they’re walking from meeting to meeting.

Again, it puts you one step ahead of your competitors. Recently we’ve got some of our best pieces of coverage through warming the press up and specific journalists through Twitter, because when your campaign launches, you’re not going out with it cold. Instead the journalist knows that it’s coming in. They may even have the editorial space to cover that feature for you too. It’s something that we’ve seen really work, and again I can’t stress enough that you really have to find that balance.

You don’t want to be plaguing journalists. You don’t want to be a pain and starting to like every single tweet they do. But if it is relevant and you find an opportunity to engage and speak to them about your campaign the weeks in advance, it opens up that door. Again, you may be able to secure an exclusive out of it, which means that you get that first huge hit. So there are my five tips for link building in 2019, and it will help you supercharge things.

Now if you have any comments for me, any questions, please pop them in the thread below or reach out to me on Twitter. As I’ve just said, feel free to send me a DM. I’m always around and would love to help you guys a little bit more if you do have any questions for me. Thanks, Moz fans.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Did you miss Shannon’s groundbreaking talk at MozCon 2019, How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom? Download the deck here and don’t miss out on next year’s conference — super early bird discounts are available now!

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10 Basic SEO Tips to Index + Rank New Content Faster – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

In SEO, speed is a competitive advantage.

When you publish new content, you want users to find it ranking in search results as fast as possible. Fortunately, there are a number of tips and tricks in the SEO toolbox to help you accomplish this goal. Sit back, turn up your volume, and let Cyrus Shepard show you exactly how in this week’s Whiteboard Friday.

[Note: #3 isn't covered in the video, but we've included in the post below. Enjoy!]

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m Cyrus Shepard, back in front of the whiteboard. So excited to be here today. We’re talking about ten tips to index and rank new content faster.

You publish some new content on your blog, on your website, and you sit around and you wait. You wait for it to be in Google’s index. You wait for it to rank. It’s a frustrating process that can take weeks or months to see those rankings increase. There are a few simple things we can do to help nudge Google along, to help them index it and rank it faster. Some very basic things and some more advanced things too. We’re going to dive right in.

Indexing

1. URL Inspection / Fetch & Render

So basically, indexing content is not that hard in Google. Google provides us with a number of tools. The simplest and fastest is probably the URL Inspection tool. It’s in the new Search Console, previously Fetch and Render. As of this filming, both tools still exist. They are depreciating Fetch and Render. The new URL Inspection tool allows you to submit a URL and tell Google to crawl it. When you do that, they put it in their priority crawl queue. That just simply means Google has a list of URLs to crawl. It goes into the priority, and it’s going to get crawled faster and indexed faster.

2. Sitemaps!

Another common technique is simply using sitemaps. If you’re not using sitemaps, it’s one of the easiest, quickest ways to get your URLs indexed. When you have them in your sitemap, you want to let Google know that they’re actually there. There’s a number of different techniques that can actually optimize this process a little bit more.

The first and the most basic one that everybody talks about is simply putting it in your robots.txt file. In your robots.txt, you have a list of directives, and at the end of your robots.txt, you simply say sitemap and you tell Google where your sitemaps are. You can do that for sitemap index files. You can list multiple sitemaps. It’s really easy.

Sitemap in robots.txt

You can also do it using the Search Console Sitemap Report, another report in the new Search Console. You can go in there and you can submit sitemaps. You can remove sitemaps, validate. You can also do this via the Search Console API.

But a really cool way of informing Google of your sitemaps, that a lot of people don’t use, is simply pinging Google. You can do this in your browser URL. You simply type in google.com/ping, and you put in the sitemap with the URL. You can try this out right now with your current sitemaps. Type it into the browser bar and Google will instantly queue that sitemap for crawling, and all the URLs in there should get indexed quickly if they meet Google’s quality standard.

Example: https://www.google.com/ping?sitemap=https://example.com/sitemap.xml

3. Google Indexing API

(BONUS: This wasn’t in the video, but we wanted to include it because it’s pretty awesome)

Within the past few months, both Google and Bing have introduced new APIs to help speed up and automate the crawling and indexing of URLs.

Both of these solutions allow for the potential of massively speeding up indexing by submitting 100s or 1000s of URLs via an API.

While the Bing API is intended for any new/updated URL, Google states that their API is specifically for “either job posting or livestream structured data.” That said, many SEOs like David Sottimano have experimented with Google APIs and found it to work with a variety of content types.

If you want to use these indexing APIs yourself, you have a number of potential options:

Yoast announced they will soon support live indexing across both Google and Bing within their SEO WordPress plugin.

Indexing & ranking

That’s talking about indexing. Now there are some other ways that you can get your content indexed faster and help it to rank a little higher at the same time.

4. Links from important pages

When you publish new content, the basic, if you do nothing else, you want to make sure that you are linking from important pages. Important pages may be your homepage, adding links to the new content, your blog, your resources page. This is a basic step that you want to do. You don’t want to orphan those pages on your site with no incoming links. 

Adding the links tells Google two things. It says we need to crawl this link sometime in the future, and it gets put in the regular crawling queue. But it also makes the link more important. Google can say, “Well, we have important pages linking to this. We have some quality signals to help us determine how to rank it.” So linking from important pages.

5. Update old content 

But a step that people oftentimes forget is not only link from your important pages, but you want to go back to your older content and find relevant places to put those links. A lot of people use a link on their homepage or link to older articles, but they forget that step of going back to the older articles on your site and adding links to the new content.

Now what pages should you add from? One of my favorite techniques is to use this search operator here, where you type in the keywords that your content is about and then you do a site:example.com. This allows you to find relevant pages on your site that are about your target keywords, and those make really good targets to add those links to from your older content.

6. Share socially

Really obvious step, sharing socially. When you have new content, sharing socially, there’s a high correlation between social shares and content ranking. But especially when you share on content aggregators, like Reddit, those create actual links for Google to crawl. Google can see those signals, see that social activity, sites like Reddit and Hacker News where they add actual links, and that does the same thing as adding links from your own content, except it’s even a little better because it’s external links. It’s external signals.

7. Generate traffic to the URL

This is kind of an advanced technique, which is a little controversial in terms of its effectiveness, but we see it anecdotally working time and time again. That’s simply generating traffic to the new content. 

Now there is some debate whether traffic is a ranking signal. There are some old Google patents that talk about measuring traffic, and Google can certainly measure traffic using Chrome. They can see where those sites are coming from. But as an example, Facebook ads, you launch some new content and you drive a massive amount of traffic to it via Facebook ads. You’re paying for that traffic, but in theory Google can see that traffic because they’re measuring things using the Chrome browser. 

When they see all that traffic going to a page, they can say, “Hey, maybe this is a page that we need to have in our index and maybe we need to rank it appropriately.”

Ranking

Once we get our content indexed, talk about a few ideas for maybe ranking your content faster. 

8. Generate search clicks

Along with generating traffic to the URL, you can actually generate search clicks.

Now what do I mean by that? So imagine you share a URL on Twitter. Instead of sharing directly to the URL, you share to a Google search result. People click the link, and you take them to a Google search result that has the keywords you’re trying to rank for, and people will search and they click on your result.

You see television commercials do this, like in a Super Bowl commercial they’ll say, “Go to Google and search for Toyota cars 2019.” What this does is Google can see that searcher behavior. Instead of going directly to the page, they’re seeing people click on Google and choosing your result.

  1. Instead of this: https://moz.com/link-explorer
  2. Share this: https://www.google.com/search?q=link+tool+moz

This does a couple of things. It helps increase your click-through rate, which may or may not be a ranking signal. But it also helps you rank for auto-suggest queries. So when Google sees people search for “best cars 2019 Toyota,” that might appear in the suggest bar, which also helps you to rank if you’re ranking for those terms. So generating search clicks instead of linking directly to your URL is one of those advanced techniques that some SEOs use.

9. Target query deserves freshness

When you’re creating the new content, you can help it to rank sooner if you pick terms that Google thinks deserve freshness. It’s best maybe if I just use a couple of examples here.

Consider a user searching for the term “cafes open Christmas 2019.” That’s a result that Google wants to deliver a very fresh result for. You want the freshest news about cafes and restaurants that are going to be open Christmas 2019. Google is going to preference pages that are created more recently. So when you target those queries, you can maybe rank a little faster.

Compare that to a query like “history of the Bible.” If you Google that right now, you’ll probably find a lot of very old pages, Wikipedia pages. Those results don’t update much, and that’s going to be harder for you to crack into those SERPs with newer content.

The way to tell this is simply type in the queries that you’re trying to rank for and see how old the most recent results are. That will give you an indication of what Google thinks how much freshness this query deserves. Choose queries that deserve a little more freshness and you might be able to get in a little sooner.

10. Leverage URL structure

Finally, last tip, this is something a lot of sites do and a lot of sites don’t do because they’re simply not aware of it. Leverage URL structure. When Google sees a new URL, a new page to index, they don’t have all the signals yet to rank it. They have a lot of algorithms that try to guess where they should rank it. They’ve indicated in the past that they leverage the URL structure to determine some of that.

Consider The New York Times puts all its book reviews under the same URL, newyorktimes.com/book-reviews. They have a lot of established ranking signals for all of these URLs. When a new URL is published using the same structure, they can assign it some temporary signals to rank it appropriately.

If you have URLs that are high authority, maybe it’s your blog, maybe it’s your resources on your site, and you’re leveraging an existing URL structure, new content published using the same structure might have a little bit of a ranking advantage, at least in the short run, until Google can figure these things out.

These are only a few of the ways to get your content indexed and ranking quicker. It is by no means a comprehensive list. There are a lot of other ways. We’d love to hear some of your ideas and tips. Please let us know in the comments below. If you like this video, please share it for me. Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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