Tag Archive | "Understand"

How to Talk to Your Clients in a Language They Understand

Posted by Lindsay_Halsey

A few years ago, while enjoying a day of skiing at Aspen Highlands with a group of girlfriends, a skier crashed into me from above, out of nowhere. He was a professional skier traveling at an exceptionally fast speed, and I felt lucky to get away with a mere leg injury. I couldn’t put weight on my leg, though, so I went to the local emergency room.

After a few hours of various doctors and nurses running scans to diagnose the issue, a new doctor whom I’d never met walked in the room. The first words out of his mouth were, “You have a radial tear in your medial meniscus”. I had no idea what he was talking about. He continued speaking in words better suited for a medical peer than a patient.

I wasn’t at all interested in medical-speak. I was a new mom, anxious to return to my family. I wanted to know for how long and to what extent this injury would impact us, and how active I could be at home while caring for our son.

I didn’t get the answers to any of those questions. Instead, my doctor left me feeling overwhelmed, lost, and frustrated.

Using industry jargon is easy to do

Whether you are a doctor, marketer, SEO, or another specialized professional, this experience made me realize that using industry jargon is easy to do. And I realized that I was susceptible myself — I speak to clients all the time with words that made them feel alienated and confused.

The words and phrases that mean a lot to us as SEO professionals mean little or nothing to our customers.

When we utilize these phrases in conversations and assume we’re communicating effectively, we may be leaving our prospects and clients feeling overwhelmed, lost, and frustrated.

Years ago, feeling that way motivated businesses to hire SEO consultants and agencies. Ample industry jargon was tossed about in the sales process, leaving a prospect set on hiring a professional since SEO was too hard to understand.

There was no way that prospect felt confident in taking a DIY approach to getting found by the search engines; there was no other option besides signing on the dotted line. With a signature in hand, an SEO consultant could begin working some behind-the-scenes magic and deliver impactful results.

Today — and over the last five years — this approach no longer works.

Collaboration is the foundation of SEO

Today, we drive results by building a business’s expertise, authority, and trust online. Sure, there are technical SEO tasks to accomplish (and we can’t forget about foundational action items like dialing in title tags and meta descriptions). But long term, significant growth comes from impacting a business’s E-A-T. And for that, collaboration is required.

As an SEO professional, I often think of myself as a rafting guide in the search engine waters. I’ve been down this river before and already know what to expect around the next bend. I’m responsible for leading a team; our collaborative success (or failure) ultimately depends on my timely, appropriate guidance.

Yet it’s not all about me. The team (or client) is just as invested in our success. We’re sharing the same raft, and we’ve chosen to navigate the same river. They have their paddles in the water and are actively engaged in our journey, eager to work together. Working together — collaboration — means success for us all.

Communication is key to collaboration

Effective communication is critical to a collaborative environment; communication relies on language. If a rafting guide says “port side paddle forward,” his team will likely look at him with confusion. If he says “left side paddle forward,” his team will understand his language and take the right action.

One way to improve communication with prospects and clients is to remove industry jargon from our vocabulary. Over the past few years, I’ve challenged myself to use more everyday words in client communication. As a result, we are closing more business and have more satisfied customers seeing better results. It’s a win, win, win.

Here are some practical examples for communicating (and therefore better collaborating) with SEO clients:

XML Sitemap // Your Website’s Resume 

Instead of telling a client that their website “lacks an XML sitemap,” I explain that this file is like a website’s resume. You wouldn’t show up to a job interview without a resume that lists out your assets in an easily digestible format. A resume quickly summarizes your “contents,” or the structure of your relevant roles and experience — just like a sitemap summarizes the contents and structure of a website.

Link Building // Relationships 

When a client hears you talk about link building, they instantly recall how they feel when they receive spammy emails requesting a favor in the form of a link exchange. They may worry that this tactic is too aggressive or short-sighted and in violation of Google’s terms of service. Consider describing “link building” as building a network of a business’s professional relationships that the search engines quickly and easily understand. Putting up signposts that search engines can read.

Featured Snippet // Above #1

Clients are often hyper-focused on their rankings. If you talk to them about “gaining a featured snippet result,” that language will leave them lost and therefore unengaged in the initiative. Instead, focus on what they want: to rank #1 for a keyword they’ve chosen. If you’re working with a client on a new piece of complete content (to help propel them to the top of the search results by sharing their expertise), you can get the client onboard by telling them the goal is to be “above #1.” 

SEO // Getting Found

Perhaps the most important term of all is “SEO.” We all assume our prospects and clients understand what SEO stands for and why it is important. But more often than not, the acronym alone can lead to confusion. Try substituting “getting found in Google” anytime you’re tempted to say “SEO,” and your client will be connected to the value instead of confounded by the vocabulary.

Removing industry jargon has been the most impactful of our changes to client communication. We also recommend (and practice) sending monthly reports, actively seeking feedback, and setting clear expectations. Read more client communication tips on the Moz blog and at Pathfinder SEO.

What expressions and words do you use in client communications?

Let’s create a shared, jargon-free vocabulary to improve how we talk to our clients. Let’s stop leaving our clients feeling overwhelmed, lost, or frustrated with SEO. After all, collaboration is the foundation of SEO. And to collaborate, we must create — and meet on — shared ground.

Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.

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What do you do if Google My Business doesn’t understand your business?

Pop-up shops, mobile by design, are legitimate businesses but Google has no easy way to help you find them.



Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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

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How to Set Up GTM Cookie Tracking (and Better Understand Content Engagement)

Posted by Joel.Mesherghi

The more you understand the behaviour of your users, the better you can market your product or service — which is why Google Tag Manager (GTM) is a marketer’s best friend. With built-in tag templates, such as scroll depth and click tracking, GTM is a powerful tool to measure the engagement and success of your content. 

If you’re only relying on tag templates in GTM, or the occasionally limiting out-of-box Google Analytics, then you could be missing out on insights that go beyond normal engagement metrics. Which means you may be getting an incomplete story from your data.

This post will teach you how to get even more insight by setting up cookies in GTM. You’ll learn how to tag and track multiple page views in a single session, track a specific set number of pages, based on specific on-page content elements, and understand how users are engaging with your content so you can make data-based decisions to better drive conversions.

Example use case

I recently worked with a client that wanted to better understand the behavior of users that landed on their blog content. The main barrier they faced was their URL structure. Their content didn’t live on logical URL structures — they placed their target keyword straight after the root. So, instead of example.com/blog/some-content, their URL structure looked like example.com/some-content.

You can use advanced segments in Google Analytics (GA) to track any number of metrics, but if you don’t have a logically defined URL, then tracking and measuring those metrics becomes a manual and time-consuming practice — especially when there’s a large number of pages to track.

Fortunately, leveraging a custom cookie code, which I provide below, helps you to cut through that time, requires little implementation effort, and can surface powerful insights:

  1. It can indicate that users are engaged with your content and your brand.
  2. The stored data could be used for content scoring — if a page is included in the three pages of an event it may be more valuable than others. You may want to target these pages with more upsell or cross-sell opportunities, if so.
  3. The same scoring logic could apply to authors. If blogs written by certain authors have more page views in a session, then their writing style/topics could be more engaging and you may want to further leverage their content writing skills.
  4. You can build remarketing audience lists to target these seemingly engaged users to align with your business goals — people who are more engaged with your content could be more likely to convert.

So, let’s briefly discuss the anatomy of the custom code that you will need to add to set cookies before we walk through a step by step implementation guide.

Custom cookie code

Cookies, as we all know, are a small text file that is stored in your browser — it helps servers remember who you are and its code is comprised of three elements:

  • a name-value pair containing data
  • an expiry date after which it is no longer valid
  • the domain and path of the server it should be sent to.

You can create a custom code to add to cookies to help you track and store numerous page views in a session across a set of pages.

The code below forms the foundation in setting up your cookies. It defines specific rules, such as the events required to trigger the cookie and the expiration of the cookie. I’ll provide the code, then break it up into two parts to explain each segment.

The code

<script>
function createCookie(name,value,hours) {
    if (hours) {
        var date = new Date();
        date.setTime(date.getTime()+(hours*60*60*1000));
        var expires = "; expires="+date.toGMTString();
    }
    else var expires = "";
    document.cookie = name+"="+value+expires+"; path=/";
}
if (document.querySelectorAll("CSS SELECTOR GOES HERE"").length > 0) {
var y = {{NumberOfBlogPagesVisited}}
if (y == null) {
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',1,1);
}
  else if (y == 1) {
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',2,1);
  } 
  else if (y == 2) {
    var newCount = Number(y) + 1;
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',newCount,12);
  }
 if (newCount == 3) {
 dataLayer.push({
 'event': '3 Blog Pages'
 });
 }
}
</script>

Part 1

<script>
function createCookie(name,value,hours) {
    if (hours) {
        var date = new Date();
        date.setTime(date.getTime()+(hours*60*60*1000));
        var expires = "; expires="+date.toGMTString();
    }
    else var expires = "";
    document.cookie = name+"="+value+expires+"; path=/";
}

Explanation:

This function, as the name implies, will create a cookie if you specify a name, a value, and the time a cookie should be valid for. I’ve specified “hours,” but if you want to specify “days,” you’ll need to iterate variables of the code. Take a peek at this great resource on setting up cookies.

    Part 2

    if (document.querySelectorAll("CSS SELECTOR GOES HERE").length > 0) {
    var y = {{NumberOfBlogPagesVisited}}
    if (y == null) {
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',1,1);
    }
    else if (y == 1) {
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',2,1);
    }
    else if (y == 2) {
    var newCount = Number(y) + 1;
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',newCount,12);
    }
    if (newCount == 3) {
    dataLayer.push({
    'event': '3 Blog Pages'
    });
    }
    </script>

    Explanation:

    The second part of this script will count the number of page views:

    • The “CSS SELECTOR GOES HERE”, which I’ve left blank for now, will be where you add your CSS selector. This will instruct the cookie to fire if the CSS selector matches an element on a page. You can use DevTools to hover over an on-page element, like an author name, and copy the CSS selector.
    • “y” represents the cookie and “NumberOfBlogPagesVisited” is the name I’ve given to the variable. You’ll want to iterate the variable name as you see fit, but the variable name you set up in GTM should be consistent with the variable name in the code (we’ll go through this during the step-by-step guide).
    • “createCookie” is the actual name of your cookie. I’ve called my cookie “BlogPagesVisited.” You can call your cookie whatever you want, but again, it’s imperative that the name you give your cookie in the code is consistent with the cookie name field when you go on to create your variable in GTM. Without consistency, the tag won’t fire correctly.
    • You can also change the hours at which the cookie expires. If a user accumulates three page views in a single session, the code specifies a 12 hour expiration. The reasoning behind this is that if someone comes back after a day or two and views another blog, we won’t consider that to be part of the same “session,” giving us a clearer insight of the user behaviour of people that trigger three page views in a session.
    • This is rather arbitrary, so you can iterate the cookie expiration length to suit your business goals and customers.

    Note: if you want the event to fire after more than three page views (for example, four-page views) then the code would look like the following:

    var y = {{NumberOfBlogPagesVisited}}
    if (y == null) {
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',1,1);
    }
    else if (y == 1) {
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',2,1);
    }
    }
    else if (y == 2) {
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',3,1);
    }
    else if (y == 3) {
    var newCount = Number(y) + 1;
    createCookie('BlogPagesVisited',newCount,12);
    }
      
    if (newCount == 4) {
    dataLayer.push({
    'event': '4 Blog Pages'
    });

    Now that we have a basic understanding of the script, we can use GTM to implement everything.

    First, you’ll need the set up the following “Tags,” “Triggers”, and ”Variables”:

    Tags

    Custom HTML tag: contains the cookie script

    Event tag: fires the event and sends the data to GA after a third pageview is a session.

    Triggers

    Page View trigger: defines the conditions that will fire your Custom HTML Tag.

    Custom Event trigger: defines the conditions that will fire your event.

    Variable

    First Party Cookie variable: This will define a value that a trigger needs to evaluate whether or not your Custom HTML tag should fire.

    Now, let’s walk through the steps of setting this up in GTM.

    Step 1: Create a custom HTML tag

    First, we’ll need to create a Custom HTML Tag that will contain the cookie script. This time, I’ve added the CSS selector, below:

     #content > div.post.type-post.status-publish.format-standard.hentry > div.entry-meta > span > span.author.vcard > a

    This matches authors on Distilled’s blog pages, so you’ll want to add your own unique selector.

    Navigate to Tags > New > Custom HTML Tag > and paste the script into the custom HTML tag box.

    You’ll want to ensure your tag name is descriptive and intuitive. Google recommends the following tag naming convention: Tag Type – Detail – Location. This will allow you to easily identify and sort related tags from the overview tag interface. You can also create separate folders for different projects to keep things more organized.

    Following Google’s example, I’ve called my tag Custom HTML – 3 Page Views Cookie – Blog.

    Once you’ve created your tag, remember to click save.

    Step 2: Create a trigger

    Creating a trigger will define the conditions that will fire your custom HTML tag. If you want to learn more about triggers, you can read up on Simo Ahava’s trigger guide.

    Navigate to Triggers > New > PageView.

    Once you’ve clicked the trigger configuration box, you’ll want to select “Page View” as a trigger type. I’ve also named my trigger Page View – Cookie Trigger – Blog, as I’m going to set up the tag to fire when users land on blog content.

    Next, you’ll want to define the properties of your trigger.

    Since we’re relying on the CSS selector to trigger the cookie across the site, select “All Page Views”.

    Once you’ve defined your trigger, click save.

    Step 3: Create your variable

    Just like how a Custom HTML tag relies on a trigger to fire, a trigger relies on a variable. A variable defines a value that a trigger needs to evaluate whether or not a tag should fire. If you want to learn more about variables, I recommend reading up on Simo Ahava’s variable guide.

    Head over to Variables > User-Defined Variables > Select 1st Party Cookie. You’ll also notice that I’ve named this variable “NumberOfBlogPagesVisited” — you’ll want this variable name to match what is in your cookie code.

    Having selected “1st Party Cookie,” you’ll now need to input your cookie name. Remember: the cookie name needs to replicate the name you’ve given your cookie in the code. I named my cookie BlogPagesVisited, so I’ve replicated that in the Cookie Name field, as seen below.

    Step 4: Create your event tag

    When a user triggers a third-page view, we’ll want to have it recorded and sent to GA. To do this, we need to set up an “Event” tag.

    First, navigate to Tags > New > Select Google Analytics – Universal Analytics:

    Once you’ve made your tag type “Google Analytics – Universal Analytics”, make sure track type is an “Event” and you name your “Category” and “Action” accordingly. You can also fill in a label and value if you wish. I’ve also selected “True” in the “Non-interaction Hit” field, as I still want to track bounce rate metrics.

    Finally, you’ll want to select a GA Setting variable that will pass on stored cookie information to a GA property.

    Step 5: Create your trigger

    This trigger will reference your event.

    Navigate to Trigger > New > Custom Event

    Once you’ve selected Custom Event, you’ll want to ensure the “Event name” field matches the name you have given your event in the code. In my case, I called the event “3 Blog Pages”.

    Step 6: Audit your cookie in preview mode

    After you’ve selected the preview mode, you should conduct an audit of your cookie to ensure everything is firing properly. To do this, navigate to the site you where you’ve set up cookies.

    Within the debugging interface, head on over to Page View > Variables.

    Next, look to a URL that contains the CSS selector. In the case of the client, we used the CSS selector that referenced an on-page author. All their content pages used the same CSS selector for authors. Using the GTM preview tool you’ll see that “NumberOfBlogPagesVisited” variable has been executed.

    And the actual “BlogPagesVisited” cookie has fired at a value of “1” in Chrome DevTools. To see this, click Inspect > Application > Cookies.

    If we skip the second-page view and execute our third-page view on another blog page, you’ll see that both our GA event and our Custom HTML tag fired, as it’s our third-page view.

    You’ll also see the third-page view triggered our cookie value of “3” in Chrome DevTools.

    Step 7: Set up your advanced segment

    Now that you’ve set up your cookie, you’ll want to pull the stored cookie data into GA, which will allow you to manipulate the data as you see fit.

    In GA, go to Behaviour > Events > Overview > Add Segment > New Segment > Sequences > Event Action > and then add the event name you specified in your event tag. I specified “3 Blog Page Views.”

    And there you have it! 

    Conclusion

    Now that you know how to set up a cookie in GTM, you can get heaps of additional insight into the engagement of your content.

    You also know how also to play around with the code snippet and iterate the number of page views required to fire the cookie event as well as the expiration of the cookies at each stage to suit your needs.

    I’d be interested to hear what other use cases you can think of for this cookie, or what other types of cookies you set up in GTM and what data you get from them.

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    Value Proposition: Before you express the value, you have to deeply understand the value (MarketingSherpa Podcast Episode #3)

    Advertising and marketing creatives need to be armed with an essential reason why the ideal customer should buy your product.
    MarketingSherpa Blog

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    What Is More Important For SEOs To Understand; Guidelines Or Algorithm Updates?

    Tomorrow at SMX West I am moderating a panel called Machine vs. Man: What Really Matters For SEO Success. One of the panelists is Frédéric Dubut from Bing and he posted a poll asking what is more important for SEOs, understanding the search quality raters guidelines or the ranking algorithm updates?


    Search Engine Roundtable

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    Help us understand how digital agencies are evolving: Take our survey

    If you work at a digital agency, we want to hear from you.



    Please visit Search Engine Land for the full article.


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    Successful CEOs Understand The Customer Journey

    Ryan Deiss is the co-founder and CEO of DigitalMarketer, a highly successful online community and learning platform for digital marketers. Ryan recently talked about the challenges of going from founder and Chief Marketer to CEO and offered some great advice for those of you who are in the process of building a company. Below are some highlights from a recent podcast:

    You Were the Rainmaker

    Any successful founder who now finds themselves as a CEO, or if you’re a CEO who came up through the ranks, it’s because more times than not, you were the person who could make the cash register ring. You were the Rainmaker. You could by just own force of will dig in there and make the sales happen, which is why as your team grows it’s very hard to turn that off.

    As a founder, even if you don’t enjoy marketing, you’ve got no choice in the early days of your business. Your first job is to create the product, and then as soon as it exists, even if it’s kind of crappy, it’s like okay we’ve got to sell this thing.

    If you’ve experienced any success whatsoever as a founder, as an entrepreneur, a small business owner, congratulations! It’s because you’re a marketer and it’s because you’re pretty good at it. Turning that off and handing that over to someone else is one of the more difficult things I’ve had to do in my career.

    Making the Shift to CEO

    When you make the shift into CEO or any type of leadership role, it means you have to take on more of a strategic process and more of a strategic approach. It means that the work is going to be done through the efforts of others, so you’re not gonna get that thrill. But if you don’t do it you’re going to be stuck. If you don’t do it your company is not going to grow because it’s only going to be as strong as you are and it’s only going to be able to do as much as you have time in a day.

    As your company grows and you have to take on more responsibilities you have less and less time. That’s why so many companies grow and do really well and then they seem to peter out and flounder. It’s because they never make that transition from the tactical to the strategic and that’s what CEOs need to learn to do.

    How to Move from the Tactical to the Strategic

    You start by hiring people to do the work that you hate to do and you suck at, that’s where it always begins. So in the early stages, building a team is really really easy. However, when you start needing to scale and hire for the roles that you’re good at and enjoy, that’s when it becomes difficult. For me, I really enjoyed marketing and I like to think I’m pretty good at. In the beginning, I tried to find someone who was this all-in-one marketer, who could do everything that I could do and then some.

    What I found is that person just didn’t exist, and it’s not because I’m so amazing, it’s because I had a lot of experience doing this type of marketing that we were doing and also that I had so much tribal knowledge. If you take somebody even with more experience, because they didn’t have the direct experience and all the tribal knowledge associated with the specific company, they are never going to be as good as I was right from the beginning.

    Hire, Train, Retain People… and Don’t Run Out of Money

    If you think about the role of a CEO at its core, it is to hire, train and retain great people, and don’t run out of money. As your team begins to grow, you may really love diving in and doing all the tactical aspects of marketing. But if you’ve got a marketing team there’s going to be issues that are going to suck up a lot of your time.

    You’re going to spend time talking with accountants and finance people, whether you like it or not. You’re going to be dealing with legal and all the other operational aspects of a business that maybe you don’t want to deal with. But in many cases, you’re the only person who can deal with it, and so a lot of the day-to-day, blocking and tackling, that goes into business and into marketing, in particular, you simply don’t have the time to do.

    CEO’s Should Understand the Customer Journey

    It is just taking more of that 30,000-foot view. So along with the roles of the CEO, hire, train, retain the best talent, and don’t run out of money, I would add to that, understand and seek to optimize the customer journey.

    I think as a CEO that’s one of your critical documents if you want to still be involved from a marketing perspective, it’s that customer journey. You need to understand that because if you don’t know how strangers become customers, then you don’t know how the growth engine works in your business. How can you responsibly influence that growth?

    The post Successful CEOs Understand The Customer Journey appeared first on WebProNews.


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    What Is A Strategy Versus A Tactic? (And Why It’s So Important You Understand The Difference)

    Inside the Blog Profits Blueprint I talk about a key distinction, the difference between strategies and tactics when it comes to online marketing and building a blog-based business. Here’s a relevant quote from the Blueprint: Strategies are in place to educate your mind about why things happen. Strategy helps you understand outcomes and helps predict […]

    The post What Is A Strategy Versus A Tactic? (And Why It’s So Important You Understand The Difference) appeared first on Yaro.Blog.

    Entrepreneurs-Journey.com by Yaro Starak

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    Five questions to ask to understand customer motivation

    Understanding customer motivation can provide a solid base for your marketing that allows you to be one step ahead throughout the entire buyer’s journey. By asking yourself these five questions, you can get to the bottom of what is driving your customers to purchase — and why they might be falling off.
    MarketingSherpa Blog

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    Hunting Down SERP Features to Understand Intent & Drive Traffic – Next Level

    Posted by jocameron

    Welcome to the seventh installment of our educational Next Level series! In our last episode, Jo showed us how to better optimize our sites when we think we’ve done it all (but still aren’t ranking). This time around she’s giving us the tools and the knowledge to finally capture ourselves a SERP feature. Read on and level up!

    Are you within striking distance of traffic-bumping SERP features?

    The content on your freakin’ awesome site better be targeting the intent of the searcher.

    People of the world want different types of content depending on what they search. If you get this right, your content will earn the engagement signals that tell search engines you’re fighting the good fight.

    The stakes are even higher now. Not only are you battling it out in the organic results, but there are attention-grabbing features that draw clicks away from organic results.

    But, hey now, chin up! You can use these features to focus on keywords with higher opportunity and win those bobby-dazzlers to drive even more traffic.

    I’m going to show you how to use the ever-impressive SERP features to check whether you’re targeting intent and whether the entirety of your content satisfies searcher intent, putting you within striking distance of owning some of those queue-jumping features.

    Follow along in your Moz Pro account or start a free trial, it’ll be fun, trust me.

    What is searcher intent?

    Intent is the nuanced language people use to search different things, and it drastically changes what they’re really, truly seeking.

    Every single time a human inputs their heart’s desire into that blank, judgement-free rectangle, they’re asking Google to satisfy their intent.

    Show me your best “headphone reviews,” your most reliable “sewing machine repairs,” your funniest “cat vs printer gifs,” I command thee!

    Headphone reviews – I want comparisons, specs, images, first-hand experiences. Maybe I’ll buy something, eventually.

    Sewing machine repairs – I’m looking for a local business who I can call or visit. Or an instructional article or video.

    Cat vs printer gifs – Desperately seeking images in the .gif format of a furry friend freaking out over a machine friend.

    With a few simple clicks on my keyboard, my intention is revealed. As a marketer, if you’re targeting keywords with particular intent, then this needs to be reflected in your content. As a searcher, I haven’t got time to read a long article about cat gifs and printers. I want an array of images to choose from. Likewise, I don’t want to scroll through an image gallery when I’m looking for a service, or an in-depth guide when I’m on the precipice of entering that ever-so-tempting sales funnel.

    Now let’s look more specifically at the headphone niche. If you sell headphones you might think, “If I can stuff my landing page with a bit of jazzy content and get it in front of every person who searches for ‘headphones’ in every weird and wonderful way, I’m bound to get a chunk of traffic and *bam*, I’ll sell a bunch of headphones.”

    It doesn’t really work like that. If your content doesn’t satisfy the intent indicated by the searcher, they’re likely to head back to search — and you just know Google is paying attention to this behavior. So you could end up sending signals to Google that your content isn’t all that good as it sends your visitors back to search. And because Google wants everyone to find what they’re after, your rankings could take a trip to page-two obscurity.

    The different types of searcher intent

    Intent for the purpose of marketing your content can be lumped into three different types that broadly encapsulate what warm bodies are looking for. This is explained in more detail in this post by Tom Anthony. Here is a brief recap that looks at how searches in the headphone niche can fit into vastly different intent types:

    Informational: what were the first earbud headphones?*

    Navigational: cnet headphone reviews

    Transactional: cheap travel headphones

    * I’m going to go all hipster on you and say it was the stethoscope, which morphed into it’s current shape around the 1850s according to Wiki.

    Can you see how the implied intent varies depending on the phrasing around the search term? As you research your own target keywords, build up lists, and use those lists to formulate content, the implied intent of the searcher plays an important role in what form your awesome content will take.

    It also goes hand-in-hand with your journey into long-tail keywords.

    As the marketers of the world have been paying attention to the implied intent to guide their content creation, so indeed has the biggest website on the planet. The website that reduced internet usage by 40% when it went down for 2 minutes a few years ago. Yeah, you’ve heard of them, right? Well, they’re taking a big, old, sloppy bite of the intent pie. In their quest to give the people what they want right in the results pages, Google unleashed The Glorious SERP Feature.

    What the wicky-wack are SERP features?

    The fancy-schmancy SERP feature is Google’s way of dazzling users with its more-than-a-result result.

    It’s Google’s way of saying ‘I hear you’ with its finger guns out, blowing imaginary smoke and reholstering them back into its pockets whilst leaning over the back of your chair, all pleased with itself.

    Features might pop up all over the results, like this:

    The one with its paw in the air ready to swat? Argh, too cute.

    Or they might shuffle into the results, like so:

    Then again, they may hang out over here, all nonchalant but desperate to please at the same time:

    With 16 different varieties currently documented, they’re like the chameleon of the SERP kingdom: taking relevant content and reinventing itself like a shapeshifting lizard queen (or Madonna).

    What SERP features can I win?

    There are a handful of features you can reasonably have a punt at without throwing cash at Google: Featured Snippets, Related Questions, Image Packs, Site Links, Tweets, Videos, and the News Box. I’m going to focus on Featured Snippets, Related Questions, and Image Packs.

    The rest of the features are within the reach of larger sites, Google partners, or local businesses. I’m not going to dive into the local aspect in this post, as our Local Learning Center is a good place to start that journey.

    For regular schmoes like us, it’s a good idea to keep an eye on all 16 features and their presence in the results for keywords you’re tracking. Even if you can’t win them they will elbow out organic results.

    Featured Snippets: These are like having those fast-track passes at your local theme park. You can jump from somewhere else in the results to position ZERO, and then you’re pretty much owning that SERP.

    Rob Bucci is my featured snippet guru and you’ll probably join the ranks after watching his talk at Brighton SEO.

    Related Questions: If you’re tracking Featured Snippets, then you’ll want to familiarize yourself with their buddies, the Related Question.

    Winning a Related Question will most likely get you a small bump in clicks through to your site; nothing wrong with that. However, the treat you don’t want to miss out on is grabbing those questions and adding them to your tracked keywords in Moz Pro. Often, this will help you sniff out a Featured Snippet you can target.

    Image Packs: I looove image packs — there aren’t enough ways to display that in text form. I’m very visually motivated and I spend a fair bit of time searching for animated .gifs. If you watch Rob Bucci’s talk then you’ll know that they didn’t tend to find overlap with Featured Snippets. So these are a good opportunity to target the visually minded and increase your chances of getting traffic through features across more keywords.

    How to use SERP Features to target intent

    Back in the olden days, like 6 months ago, you would look at keyword modifiers and find transactional terms like ‘buy,’ ‘cheap,’ and so on, then bundle these into the ‘transactional’ pile, and so on and so forth and rinse and repeat.

    Now, in the bright and shiny land-of-the-future, we can use the presence of particular features to understand the intent as Google sees it. You’re doing two very important things here: lumping your keywords into piles to understand intent that you will use to guide your content, AND identifying features you can win and those that may push you out of the results.

    Identify the features present for your target keywords

    As with every job there is a manual method and a tool-based method. Manual is totally fine for people with small sites, like a personal blog, and a handful of keywords. I hope that by explaining the basic manual method it will lay the foundation of understanding when we ramp up to the tool-based method.

    Okey dokey spreadsheet fans, get ready for the keyboard + mouse dance we do when filling up a spreadsheet with lovely data. Start by searching your keywords one-by-one, use incognito mode to avoid personalised results, and add a mark to the sheet next to the features that are present.

    Here’s a sheet with all the features already added to get you started. I even added some gentle colors inspired by the first episode of Black Mirror Season 3. Lacie’s giving it 5 stars.

    Don’t forget to check out the second tab with your handy-dandy SERP feature cheatsheet.

    This is a good way to start understanding more about the different SERP features, identify what they look like, where they hang out, and how intrusive they are.

    Identify and track SERP features with Moz Pro

    Got more than a handful of keywords? Want all this data for your site and your competitors? Want a tool to do the heavy lifting for you? Don’t we all.

    Did I mention before about the Moz Pro has a 30-day free trial? I’m pretty sure I did, but it was so far up the page and the follow-along-with-me part is starting right now! It will do all the SERP feature hunting, tracking, and cataloguing for you.

    Moz Pro will identify the presence of all 16 SERP features and will also be able to show you if your site is present in Featured Snippets, Image Packs, In-depth Articles, Local Packs, Reviews, Site Links, and Videos.

    First off, head to the SERP Features tab under Rankings.

    You’ll see the percentage of features present for the keywords you’re tracking (in gray), along with the percentage of features your site is present in (in blue).

    Find out how you are performing against your competitors

    Underneath the Overview chart look for the filter icon, click it and scroll down to choose SERP Features and enter your desired feature. I’m going to start with Image Packs. It’s fairly easy to optimize some image — don’t forget to add informative file names, alt text, and correctly compress your images.

    This little feature key will help you decipher the results:

    blue Blue: Your site is in the feature.
    orange Orange: You and one or more of your competitors are in the feature.
    red Red: You are not in the feature, but one or more of your competitors are.
    gray Gray: A SERP Feature exists but no one in your campaign is present.

    Keep an eye out for features your competitor is dominating by clicking the SERP Features header to filter the results.

    Identify keywords you’re on page one for with features that you could win

    If you’re on page one for your desired keyword, and there is a Feature Snippet present, then there is a gift there, just waiting for you. Kind of like when you had that Amazon parcel sitting on your front doorstep, getting chewed on by your neighbor’s dog and piddled on by their cat and you’re in your house just meters away, blissfully unaware.

    Become aware by heading to the SERP Features tab and filtering by Featured Snippets.

    Hit that Rank header until the arrow is pointing up, then scroll down to peruse keywords with Feature Snippets present sorted by your rank. The tooltip Insights indicates I’m within striking distance of owning this snippet.

    Ronell outlines a strategy for winning and keeping a Featured Snippet. At its heart, it’s about pure laser-focus on intent, find the question, answer said question, add value, and make it accessible to humans and bots.

    Identify pages that are dropping in the rankings and check that the content matches intent

    For this I’m going to head to my Rankings tab, containing all the keywords I’m tracking in my Moz Pro campaign.

    Double click the little up/down icon header twice to filter all the down-arrow keywords to the top of the pile.

    I’ve noticed that my rankings have dropped for my coveted keyword ”learn how to moz,” and I want to figure out if there are some SERP features present that could indicate whether my content could be targeting intent better. So I’ll click the keyword to open up the Keyword Analysis. Then scroll down to Your Performance and toggle to SERP Features from the drop-down menu.

    You’ll see all the different types of features on the left-hand column and when they were present in the results for your keyword indicated by the light gray line.

    I’m not seeing any Featured Snippets or Image Packs, but lookie here! A Related Question…

    Remember what we said about Related Questions? Track those beauties down and add the questions to your bundle — you might just find a Featured Snippet hiding out there.

    So that’s what I’m going to do. I’ll snap up those questions and add them to my Moz Pro campaign.

    Now the next time my campaign updates I can check for tasty little Featured Snippets to target.

    Now back to analyzing intent. I’m going to look at that page and see what can be improved to better match the intent as implied by Google.

    I can see that videos are present, so I’m going to pop a video into my content. It may not show up as a feature on the results page, but I’m responding to what the searchers of the world are seeking, and I’m also thinking this will keep people on the page whilst serving their needs.

    Repeat, and sort your Tracked Keywords by Rank

    You can also follow this same process by sorting by Rank to find keywords where you’re on the bottom of the first page or the top of the second page to suss out the intent as indicated by the presence of certain SERP Features.

    Then zip back up to the last step and repeat the process of analyzing keywords for features to figure out intent and hunt down those tasty features.

    Wrapping up

    Here’s a quick recap: SERP features are your insight into what content Google thinks best serves the needs of searchers for any given keyword.

    You can use the presence of features to quickly understand the implied intent for your target keywords and cross-reference this with a drop in rankings to improve how your content meets the needs of searchers.

    By combining the feature power of Image Packs, Related Keywords, and Featured Snippets you’ll be covering the most effective organic features and potentially queue-jumping your way to position ZERO.

    For the organic fanatics, you’ll also be able to track all 16 features and give more love to those with features you can win whilst artfully stepping around keywords with unobtainable features overcrowding the results and pushing your tasty URL into the lost land of page 2.

    Happy hunting!

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