Saturday, January 31, 2015

This Month in #ContentMarketing: January by @dantosz

These articles cover a wide range of topics - from how to reach the largest audience possible to how to tell your content strategy is working.

The post This Month in #ContentMarketing: January by @dantosz appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Google Improves Crawling and Indexing of Location-Adaptive Pages by @mattsouthern

Pages can be designed to adapt to a user’s specific location, showing different content to users in different parts of the world. While these types of pages are great for searchers in different countries, they presente crawling changes for Google. Since Googlebot uses US IP addresses, it may not be indexing all content on location-adaptive pages. To combat this challenge Google has introduced improvements to Googlebot that will give it the ability to detect when its crawling location-adaptive pages. These improvements include geo-distributed crawling, and language-dependent crawling. With geo-distributed crawling, Googlebot would start crawling a page using IP addresses that […]

The post Google Improves Crawling and Indexing of Location-Adaptive Pages by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Friday, January 30, 2015

Google Agrees To Change Privacy Policy In UK by @mattsouthern

Google has agreed to change its privacy policy in the UK with respect to how it gathers personal data, the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office announced today. The changes to Google’s privacy policy will reflect the requirements of UK’s Data Protection Act, a document that outlines the ways in which data must be collected in order to not compromise the privacy of users. UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office has taken issue with Google’s privacy policy since the update in 2012 that combined the privacy policies across all of Google’s services into one. The commissioner’s office argues that this policy was too vague […]

The post Google Agrees To Change Privacy Policy In UK by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

New on #MarketingNerds: Joe Hall on How To Switch Your E-Commerce Site to a New URL by @johnrampton

Joe Hall, Founder of, is the featured guest on Marketing Nerds this week. Joe has been a friend of mine for years, as well as a trusted individual in the SEO industry. Today, Joe teaches us about the common pitfalls and problems when switching your website or e-commerce site from one url to another. In this episode of Marketing Nerds, we cover: Switching CMS and eCommerce platforms How to plan for such a change What systems work best What urls you shouldn’t change The thought process behind changing urls How user flow matters for a website. To listen to Marketing Nerds with Joe […]

The post New on #MarketingNerds: Joe Hall on How To Switch Your E-Commerce Site to a New URL by @johnrampton appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

A Universal SEO Strategy Audit in 5 Steps - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

When it comes to building an SEO strategy, many marketers (especially those who don't spend a significant amount of time with SEO) start off by asking a few key questions. That's a good start, but only if you're asking the right questions. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Rand puts the usual suspects on the chopping block, showing us the five things we should really be looking into when formulating our SEO strategy.

For reference, here's a still of this week's whiteboard!

Universal SEO Strategy Audit Whiteboard

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we're chatting about building an SEO strategy and having a universal set of five questions that can get you there.

So number one: What keywords do you want to rank for?

Number two: How do we get links?

Number three: Site speed. Mobile? Doesn't even seem like a question.

Number four: What about Penguin and Panda?

Number five: When do I get money?

This is bologna. That's not a strategy. Some of those go to tactics you might invest in an SEO, but this is not an SEO strategy. Unfortunately, this is how a lot of conversations about SEO start at teams, with CMOs, with managers, with CEOs, with clients or potential clients, and it's very frustrating because you can't truly do a great job with SEO just in the tactical level. If you don't start with a compelling strategy, doing all of these things is only going to produce a small amount of potential return compared to if you ask the right questions and you get your strategy set before you begin an SEO process and nailing your tactics.

So that's what I want to go through. I spend a lot of time thinking through these things and analyzing a lot of posts that other people have put up and questions that folks have put in our Q&A system and others, on Quora and other places. I think actually every great SEO strategy that I have ever seen can be the distilled down to answers that come from these five questions.

So number one: What does our organization create that helps solve searchers' questions or problems? That could be, "Or what will we create in the future?" It might be that you haven't yet created the thing or things that's going to help solve searchers' questions or problems. But that thing that you make, that product or service or content that you are making, that expertise that you hold, something about your organization is creating value that if only searchers could access it, they would be immensely thankful.

It is possible, and I have seen plenty of examples of companies that are so new or so much on the cutting edge that they're producing things that aren't solving questions people are asking yet. The problem that you're solving then is not a question. It's not something that's being searched for directly. It usually is very indirect. If you're creating a machine that, let's say, turns children's laughter into energy, as they do in the film "Monsters, Inc.", that is something very new. No one is searching for machine to turn kids laughing into energy. However, many people are searching for alternative energy. They're searching for broader types of things and concepts. By the way, if you do invent that machine, I think you'll probably nail a lot of that interest level stuff.

If you have a great answer to this, you can then move on to, "What is the unique value we provide that no one else does?" We talked about unique value previously on Whiteboard Friday. There's a whole episode you can watch about that. Basically, if everyone else out there is producing X and X+1 and X+2, you've either got to be producing X times 10, or you've got to be producing Y, something that is highly unique or is unique because it is of such better quality, such greater quality. It does the job so much better than anything else out there. It's not, "Hey, we're better than the top ten search results." It's, "Why are you ten times better than anything on this list?"

The third question is, "Who's going to help amplify our message, and why will they do it?" This is essential because SEO has turned from an exercise, where we essentially take content that already exists or create some content that will solve a searcher problem and then try and acquire links to it, or point links to it, or point ranking signals at it, and instead it's ones where we have to go out and earn those ranking signals. Because we've shifted from link building or ranking signal building to ranking signal earning, we better have people who will help amplify our message, the content that we create, the value that we provide, the service or the product, the message about our brand.

If we don't have those people who, for some reason, care enough about what we're doing to help share it with others, we're going to be shouting into a void. We're going to get no return on the investment of broadcasting our message or reaching out one to one, or sharing on social media, or distributing. It's not going to work. We need that amplification. There must be some of it, and because we need amplification in order to earn these ranking signals, we need an answer to who.

That who is going to depend highly on your target audience, your target customers, and who influences your target customers, which may be a very different group than other customers just like them. There are plenty of businesses in industries where your customers will be your worst amplifiers because they love you and they don't want to share you with anyone else. They love whatever product or service you're providing, and they want to keep you all to themselves. By the way, they're not on social media, and they don't do sharing. So you need another level above them. You need press or bloggers or social media sharers, somebody who influences your target audience.

Number four: What is our process for turning visitors from search into customers? If you have no answer to this, you can't expect to earn search visits and have a positive return on your investment. You've got to be building out that funnel that says, "Aha, people have come to us through channel X, search, social media, e-mail, directly visited, referred from some other website, through business development, through conference or trade show, whatever it is. Then they come back to our website. Then they sign up for an e-mail. Then they make a conversion. How does that work? What does our web-marketing funnel look like? How do we take people that visited our site for the first time from search, from a problem or a question that they had that we answered, and now how do they become a customer?" If you don't have that process yet, you must build it. That's part of a great SEO strategy. Then optimization of this is often called conversion rate optimization.

The last question, number five: How do we expose what we do that provides value here in a way that engines can easily crawl, index, understand, and show off? This is getting to much more classic SEO stuff. For many companies they have something wonderful that they've built, but it's just a mobile app or a web app that has no physical URL structure that anyone can crawl and be exposed to, or it's a service based business.

Let's say it's legal services firm. How are we going to turn the expertise of our legal team into something that engines can perceive? Maybe we have the answers to these questions, but we need to find some way to show it off, and that's where content creation comes into play. So we don't just need content that is good quality content that can be crawled and indexed. It also must be understood, and this ties a little bit to things we've talked about in the past around Hummingbird, where it's clear that the content is on the topic and that it really answers the searchers' underlying question, not just uses the keywords the searcher is using. Although, using the keywords is still important from a classic SEO perspective.

Then show off that content is, "How do we do a great job of applying rich snippets, of applying schema, of having a very compelling title and description and URL, of getting that ranked highly, of learning what our competitors are doing that we can uniquely differentiate from them in the search results themselves so that we can improve our click-through rates," all of those kinds of things.

If you answer these five questions, or if your customer, your client, your team, your boss already has great answers to these five questions, then you can start getting pretty tactical and be very successful. If you don't have answers to these yet, go get them. Make them explicit, not just implicit. Don't just assume you know what they are. Have them list them. Make sure everyone on the team, everyone in the SEO process has bought into, "Yes, these are the answers to those five questions that we have. Now, let's go do our tactics." I think you'll find you're far more successful with any type of SEO project or investment.

All right gang, thanks so much for joining us on Whiteboard Friday, and we'll see you again next week. Take care.

Video transcription by

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Facebook To Show Location-Based Place Tips In Your News Feed by @mattsouthern

Facebook introduced a brand new feature for its iPhone app today which should help people learn more about the places and attractions they’re visiting. Taking a page from Yelp and Foursquare, Facebook’s place tips will show you interesting facts about the location you’re at. Unlike Yelp and Foursquare, you won’t have to check-in at these places and broadcast your location to everyone. When you’re out and about, place tips may pop up at the top of your news feed. When you tap on it you’ll be directed to a series of cards with info about your location, including photos friends […]

The post Facebook To Show Location-Based Place Tips In Your News Feed by @mattsouthern appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Thursday, January 29, 2015

Acompli is Now Microsoft #Outlook for Mobile: An Interview with Peter Farago, Former Acompli CMO by @wonderwall7

Microsoft announced today that Acompli, the email management app it acquired last month, will become Outlook for Android and iOS.

The post Acompli is Now Microsoft #Outlook for Mobile: An Interview with Peter Farago, Former Acompli CMO by @wonderwall7 appeared first on Search Engine Journal.

Leveraging Panda to Get Out of Product Feed Jail

Posted by MichaelC

This is a story about Panda, customer service, and differentiating your store from others selling the same products.

Many e-commerce websites get the descriptions, specifications, and imagery for products they sell from feeds or databases provided by the manufacturers. The manufacturers might like this, as they control how their product is described and shown. However, it does their retailers no good when they are trying to rank for searches for those products and they've got the exact same content as every other retailer. If the content in the feed is thin, then you'll have pages with...well....thin content. And if there's a lot of content for the products, then you'll have giant blocks of content that Panda might spot as being the same as they've seen on many other sites. To throw salt on the wound, if the content is really crappy, badly written, or downright wrong, then the retailers' sites will look low-quality to Panda and users as well.

Many webmasters see Panda as a type of Google penalty—but it's not, really. Panda is a collection of measurements Google is taking of your web pages to try and give your pages a rating on how happy users are likely to be with those pages. It's not perfect, but then again—neither is your website.

Many SEO folks (including me) tend to focus on the kinds of tactical and structural things you can do to make Panda see your web pages as higher quality: things like adding big, original images, interactive content like videos and maps, and lots and lots and lots and lots of text. These are all good tactics, but let's step back a bit and look at a specific example to see WHY Panda was built to do this, and from that, what we can do as retailers to enrich the content we have for e-commerce products where our hands are a bit tied—we're getting a feed of product info from the manufacturers, the same as every other retailer of those products.

I'm going to use a real-live example that I suffered through about a month ago. I was looking for a replacement sink stopper for a bathroom sink. I knew the brand, but there wasn't a part number on the part I needed to replace. After a few Google searches, I think I've found it on Amazon:

Kohler store, sink stopper, on

Don't you wish online shopping was always this exciting?

What content actually teaches the customer

All righty... my research has shown me that there are standard sizes for plug stoppers. In fact, I initially ordered a "universal fit sink stopper." Which didn't fit. Then I found 3 standard diameters, and 5 or 6 standard lengths. No problem...I possess that marvel of modern tool chests, a tape I measure the part I have that I need to replace. I get about 1.5" x 5". So let's scroll down to the product details to see if it's a match:

Kohler sink stopper product info from hell

Whoa. 1.2 POUNDS? This sink stopper must be made of Ununoctium. The one in my hand weighs about an ounce. But the dimensions are way off as well: a 2" diameter stopper isn't going to fit, and mine needs to be at least an inch longer.

I scroll down to the product description...maybe there's more detail there, maybe the 2" x 2" is the box or something.

I've always wanted a sink stopper designed for long long

Well, that's less than helpful, with a stupid typo AND incorrect capitalization AND a missing period at the end. Doesn't build confidence in the company's quality control.

Looking at the additional info section, maybe this IS the right part...the weight quoted in there is about right:

Maybe this is my part after all

Where else customers look for answers

Next I looked at the questions and answers bit, which convinced me that it PROBABLY was the right part:

Customers will answer the question if the retailer won't...sometimes.

If I was smart, I would have covered my bets by doing what a bunch of other customers also did: buy a bunch of different parts, and surely one of them will fit. Could there possibly was a clearer signal that the product info was lacking than this?

If you can't tell which one to buy, buy them all!

In this case, that was probably smarter than spending another 1/2 hour of my time snooping around online. But in general, people aren't going to be willing to buy THREE of something just to make sure they get the right one. This cheap part was an exception.

So, surely SOMEONE out there has the correct dimensions of this part on their site—so I searched for the part number I saw on the Amazon listing. But as it turned out, that crappy description and wrong weight and dimensions were on every site I found...because they came from the manufacturer.

Better Homes and Gardens...but not better description.

A few of the sites had edited out the "designed for long long" bit, but apart from that, they were all the same.

What sucks for the customer is an opportunity for you

Many, many retailers are in this same boat—they get their product info from the manufacturer, and if the data sucks in their feed, it'll suck on their site. Your page looks weak to both users and to Panda, and it looks the same as everybody else's page for that both users and to Panda. So (a) you won't rank very well, and (b) if you DO manage to get a customer to that page, it's not as likely to convert to a sale.

What can you do to improve on this? Here's a few tactics to consider.

1. Offer your own additional description and comments

Add a new field to your CMS for your own write-ups on products, and when you discover issues like the above, you can add your own information—and make it VERY clear what's the manufacturer's stock info and what you've added (that's VALUE-ADDED) as well. My client Sports Car Market magazine does this with their collector car auction reports in their printed magazine: they list the auction company's description of the car, then their reporter's assessment of the car. This is why I buy the magazine and not the auction catalog.

2. Solicit questions

Be sure you solicit questions on every product page—your customers will tell you what's wrong or what important information is missing. Sure, you've got millions of products to deal with, but what the customers are asking about (and your sales volume of course) will help you prioritize as well as find the problems opportunities.

Amazon does a great job of enabling this, but in this case, I used the Feedback option to update the product info, and got back a total bull-twaddle email from the seller about how the dimensions are in the product description thank you for shopping with us, bye-bye. I tried to help them, for free, and they shat on me.

3. But I don't get enough traffic to get the questions

Don't have enough site volume to get many customer requests? No problem, the information is out there for you on Amazon :-). Take your most important products, and look them up on Amazon, and see what questions are being asked—then answer those ONLY on your own site.

4. What fits with what?

Create fitment/cross-reference charts for products. You probably have in-house knowledge of what products fit/are compatible with what other products. Just because YOU know a certain accessory fits all makes and models, because it's some industry-standard size, doesn't mean that the customer knows this.

If there's a particular way to measure a product so you get the correct size, explain that (with photos of what you're measuring, if it seems at all complicated). I'm getting a new front door for my house. 

  • How big is the door I need? 
  • Do I measure the width of the door itself, or the width of the opening (probably 1/8" wider)? 
  • Or if it's pre-hung, do I measure the frame too? Is it inswing or outswing?
  • Right or left I supposed to look at the door from inside the house or outside to figure this out? 

If you're a door seller, this is all obvious stuff, but it wasn't obvious to me, and NOT having the info on a website means (a) I feel stupid, and (b) I'm going to look at your competitors' sites to see if they will explain it...and maybe I'll find a door on THEIR site I like better anyway.

Again, prioritize based on customer requests.

5. Provide your own photos and measurements

If examples of the physical products are available to you, take your own photos, and take your own measurements.

In fact, take your OWN photo of YOURSELF taking the measurement—so the user can see exactly what part of the product you're measuring. In the photo below, you can see that I'm measuring the diameter of the stopper, NOT the hole in the sink, NOT the stopper plus the rubber gasket. And no, Kohler, it's NOT 2" in a long shot.

Don't just give the measurements, SHOW the measurements

Keep in mind, you shouldn't have to tear apart your CMS to do any of this. You can put your additions in a new database table, just tied to the core product content by SKU. In the page template code for the product page, you can check your database to see if you have any of your "extra bits" to display alongside the feed content, and this way keep it separate from the core product catalog code. This will make updates to the CMS/product catalog less painful as well.

Fixing your content doesn't have to be all that difficult, nor expensive

At this point, you're probably thinking "hey, but I've got 1.2 million SKUs, and if I were to do this, it'd take me 20 years to update all of them." FINE. Don't update all of them. Prioritize, based on factors like what you sell the most of, what you make the best margin on, what customers ask questions about the most, etc. Maybe concentrate on your top 5% in terms of sales, and do those first. Take all that money you used to spend buying spammy links every month, and spend it instead on junior employees or interns doing the product measurements, extra photos, etc.

And don't be afraid to spend a little effort on a low value product, if it's one that frequently gets questions from customers. Simple things can make a life-long fan of the customer. I once needed to replace a dishwasher door seal, and didn't know if I needed special glue, special tools, how to cut it to fit with or without overlap, etc. I found a video on how to do the replacement on So easy! They got my business for the $10 seal, of course...but now I order my $50 fridge water filter from them every six months as well.

Benefits to your conversion rate

Certainly the tactics we've talked about will improve your conversion rate from visitors to purchasers. If JUST ONE of those sites I looked at for that damn sink stopper had the right measurement (and maybe some statement about how the manufacturer's specs above are actually incorrect, we measured, etc.), I'd have stopped right there and bought from that site.

What does this have to do with Panda?

But, there's a Panda benefit here too. You've just added a bunch of additional, unique text to your site...and maybe a few new unique photos as well. Not only are you going to convert better, but you'll probably rank better too.

If you're NOT Amazon, or eBay, or Home Depot, etc., then Panda is your secret weapon to help you rank against those other sites whose backlink profiles are stronger than carbon fibre (that's a really cool video, by the way). If you saw my Whiteboard Friday on Panda optimization, you'll know that Panda tuning can overcome incredible backlink profile deficits.

It's go time

We're talking about tactics that are time-consuming, yes—but relatively easy to implement, using relatively inexpensive staff (and in some cases, your customers are doing some of the work for you). And it's something you can roll out a product at a time. You'll be doing things that really DO make your site a better experience for the user...we're not just trying to trick Panda's measurements.

  1. Your pages will rank better, and bring more traffic.
  2. Your pages will convert better, because users won't leave your site, looking elsewhere for answers to their questions.
  3. Your customers will be more loyal, because you were able to help them when nobody else bothered.

Don't be held hostage by other peoples' crappy product feeds. Enhance your product information with your own info and imagery. Like good link-building and outreach, it takes time and effort, but both Panda and your site visitors will reward you for it.

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Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Learn From Dana Lookadoo, Support Her Medical Fund

Posted by jennita

One aspect of the Moz Community that doesn't get mentioned enough is the individual community members who were here in the early days of SEOmoz. The folks who stuck around when our tools were brand new, when Rand was "just another SEO guy," and when our community was really just a bunch of folks talking about SEO.

One of those early members was Dana Lookadoo. She joined Moz in April 2007, and has been a supporter, trainer, and mentor to many others ever since. Whether it's the blog posts she's written, the thoughtful comments she's left, or the presentations she's given at MozCon and in webinars, she's provided for this community like few others have.

Last year, Dana took a horrible fall when she was on a bike ride (she's an avid cyclist), and broke her neck and back. She's had many ups and downs since the accident, and hasn't been able to work full-time. Dana now suffers intense burning from neuropathy and muscle spacicity that has spread from head to toe, and she has burning and spasms covering approximately 75% of her body. Her mobility and function is greatly limited and she suffers a lot of pain each day.

She splits her time between the wheelchair, the bed, and some in the walker. Unfortunately, over the last few days she's had so much pain and spasms that she isn't walking as much. It is also quite difficult for Dana to deal with bright lights, and she can't spend much time on her phone or computer.

Dana has given so much to the Moz community, and to our industry as a whole. Her knowledge and generosity has helped marketers for many years, and now it's our turn to return the favor. She's in need of part-time caregivers, which cost $4,125 per month. That's almost $50k for a year (...and that's only part-time!). This doesn't include paying for the multiple hospital stays, visits to the ER, physical therapy, occupational therapy, neuropathy treatment, and so on.

I'm asking you to help one of our amazing community members by donating to her medical fund. Every little bit helps, and you can even set up a monthly payment (I'm doing $25 per month). If you don't have the means, please help us spread the word. It's our turn to give back to Dana.

I wanted to take this opportunity to highlight some of Dana's amazing work she's done for the Moz Community, as so much of it remains great advice to marketers.

Stress-free Website Redesign for Search and Social

Download a PDF of the presentation

In September 2013, just two months before her accident, Dana presented an excellent webinar with us about how to make sure your search and social efforts don't go to waste when you redesign a website. The full webinar is a little over an hour, but believe me, it's worth the watch.

Rock Your SEO with Structured Social Sharing

At MozCon 2012, Dana was one of our very first Community Speakers to rock the stage. After seeing how well these presentations were received, we decided to continue the program each year. We've always been grateful to Dana for helping to make this so successful. In her presentation she discusses how to make your SEO even better by ensuring your social sharing is set up correctly. Give it a watch!

And if you'd like to just check out the slide deck, you can view that below:

I could honestly go on and on, as she's been such an integral piece of the greater online marketing community. 

Donations needed

Please take a few moments and donate what you can. Every little bit helps! If you don't have the means, we understand that as well, and hope you'll share the post and fund using the methods below.

Please help share

Let's get the word out! Here are some easy ways to help make a difference for Dana:

Embed a widget on your site:

<object classid="clsid:D27CDB6E-AE6D-11cf-96B8-444553540000" width="258" height="338" title="Click Here to donate!" type="application/x-shockwave-flash"><param name="movie" value="" /><param name="quality" value="high" /><param name="flashvars" value="page=danalookadoo&template=11" /><param name="wmode" value="transparent" /><embed allowScriptAccess="always" src="" quality="high" flashVars="page=danalookadoo&template=11" type="application/x-shockwave-flash" wmode="transparent" width="258" height="338"></embed></object>

Share this image on Twitter

If you have other ideas on how to get the word out and help our fellow community member, let's hear it. Thank you all for your support and assistance.

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How to do Keyword Research in 90 Minutes

Posted by Jeremy_Gottlieb

Everyone's been in the position where there's a million and one things going on, but a client (or you) still requires top-notch keyword research. So something needs to get done in a pinch. Searching around the internet and learning more about the trendiest aspects of keyword research (because let's face it, either it's been a while since you last did it or it's your first time doing it) can take a ton of time. There are literally millions of things you could be reading about it; actually 15.4 million if we want to be precise.

keyword research queries Google

Unfortunately, no one has time to sift through 15,400,000 results and identify which ones are timely, relevant, or even correct. That's why I set restrictions so I could stick to a regimented, specific and effective schedule for identifying and presenting the most effective keywords for organic search, no matter who the client is.

We begin this case study with a fictitious client, Joey Antipodean, who lives in Manhattan and really loves kangaroos. In fact, he loves them so much he decided to make a website, (not real and available for sale on GoDaddy) for other admirers of this wonderful marsupial to ask questions, share stories and have a vibrant, loyal community.

Using the Google suite of tools (40 minutes)

Let's assume Joey has properly set up Google Analytics (GA) and Google Webmaster Tools (GWT). This is a great place to begin, as we can start to see which pages are attracting the most organic traffic and for which terms. Since Google stopped displaying its keywords in GA and replaced them with "not provided," utilizing GA for keyword research involves a bit of educated guesswork. Step by step, this is what we'll do:

  1. Enter into Joey's GA account and click on "Acquisition" in the left-hand navigation
  2. Under "Acquisition", click on "Source/Medium"
  3. In the primary data on the page, click on "google / organic" (Figure 1)
  4. Click on "Secondary Dimension" and under "Behavior" you will find "Landing Page" (Figure 2)

Acquisition data in Google Analytics (Figure 1)

Landing page data Google Analytics(Figure 2)

What we are left with are the top landing pages (as opposed to destination pages, which are for internal search), and from here we can infer which keywords and their variants are driving traffic to the site. We can also assume based on the content of these pages what the users' intent is and at what point in the conversion funnel they are.

landing page data Google Analytics

But we can get even more specific. GWT allows us to see specific data on search queries, impressions, clicks, CTR, and average position on the page. Once again, we'll find Joey's account, and this time we'll click on "Search Traffic" in the left-hand navigation, which will reveal anchor text for "Search Queries". Clicking on "Search Queries" will yield the treasure trove of information mentioned earlier that can be easily sorted and/or downloaded. Filters can be played with to remove branded traffic and voila, all that remains is pure, unbranded search queries actually used by real, live people to at least see SERPs for

search queries Google Webmaster Tools

We can even click on the tab for "Top pages" instead of "Top queries," and we can see once again the top pages by organic search. What is different about this than the GA list of URLs is that by clicking on the individual URLs, GWT will actually provide a list of keywords used to generate impressions and clicks. Pretty great, right?

top pages in Google Webmaster Tools

Let's begin to place some of the fictitious keywords we found in the fictitious GA and GWT accounts for Joey's site into a Google Docs spreadsheet. In a bit, we'll get back to these and attach a number of monthly searches to them. Now we know what we're dealing with and we can move on to improving our selection of keywords. One of my favorite tools is Google Keyword Planner (GKP), and while it is by no means perfect, it certainly is a great place to start.

In GKP, we'll click on "Search for new keyword and ad group ideas" and enter "kangaroos" into the box as our product or service. We can leave the rest of this empty for now, though there are many other ways to successfully leverage the other boxes on this page for keyword research.

Keyword planner for keyword research

keyword ideas Adwords

After we click on "Get ideas" at the bottom of the page, the magic begins to happen. Click on "Avg. monthly searches" to sort the queries from most sought-after to least.

keyword search volume adwords

Clicking on the top ad group, "Kangaroo", we see mostly short-tail keywords that receive the lion's share of the search queries, but towards the bottom we see a few long-tail queries like "where do kangaroos live" that receive 1,000 searches per month. Being realistic and knowing the audience of our site, we should focus on more long-tail queries. This will grant us a better chance of competing in the SERPs due to lesser competition from sites like National Geographic, Wikipedia, and zoos among others.

Another relatively unknown Google-provided tool for keyword research is Google Instant. Google keeps track of what people are searching for and as we begin typing a query into the search bar, it will begin to autopopulate the remainder of the query based on what other people are searching for. This is a great tactic for identifying long-tail keywords.

Google instant suggestions

We'll take these keywords as well as the ones we already had (before we began the keyword research) and plug them into the part of GKP that allows us to find the search traffic for specific queries. All we'll need to do is click on "modify search" and click the option for "Get search volume for a list of keywords or group them into ad groups" before loading the box up with the desired keywords.

Assess the reality: To optimize existing pages or make new ones? (15 minutes)

We want to do a quick analysis here to establish where and if we can compete in the SERPs. Are the domains authoritative and strong or relatively weak and unknown? Moz's Open Site Explorer is a fantastic option for checking out the strength of the competition in the SERPs and finding out if we've got a chance on the first page. For the search query "what do kangaroos eat", which gets 2,400 searches per month, the results seem to be fairly easy competition. Of course, our site doesn't actually exist so it's impossible to rank higher than a real site, but the point is that some weaker pages in the SERPs can be overtaken.

SERPs kangaroo eat

OSE kangaroo food serps

We'll need to take the list of keywords that we're accumulating in our Google Doc and sort it in descending order of monthly search volume. From here we can get a better view of synonyms or closely-related keywords and their search volume. From here, it's time to put our work to the test to see the variance in the SERPs for different but related keywords. If we're seeing the same pages show up time and time again for different queries, we can infer that we don't need to place all the different queries on separate pages; we can just leave some out because they will naturally receive organic traffic through Google's advanced understanding of semantic intent.

Lastly, we're going to select our top-performing keywords from our already-existing list of keywords driving traffic to the site as well as the new ones and figure out where they should go. Are the current title tags perfectly optimized for keywords, or do some need tweaking, while others present solid opportunities, but there is no page that exists for them just yet, so a new page should be created? These are the questions we answer now.

Listen to the ideal audience (15 minutes)

What we've done so far is monitor what we think our audience wants and track those results in Google, but we're biased. I think it's time we heard it from the horse's (read: kangaroo's) mouth. Social media is a very powerful tool, but most marketers only think of it as a tool for content dissemination. By using hashtags and keywords, we can find out how people are actually speaking about what interests us. Ideally this will lead us to influencers or people with large followings and judging by what is said, we can figure out what is interesting to the audience that occupies a given niche.

For example, by typing "kangaroo pet" into the Twitter search bar we're able to see that there is indeed demand for these words and largely within the context we want to see, not the action of softly stroking the animal. This post by Ann Smarty details some other forms of social media that can be used to perform keyword research, but in the spirit of sticking to a 90-minute plan, we're only going to focus on Twitter for now.

Searching on Twitter should confirm or give a few ideas that can be passed into GKP in order to add to our list of potential keywords. However, it's worth pointing out that most long-tail queries aren't going to receive enough traffic to justify building out a new evergreen page, but if the topic is talked about on social media, it could very well serve as a good blog post. Evergreen content, for those unfamiliar with it, is content that rarely becomes irrelevant with time as opposed to a timely blog post.

Slightly different than social media and Twitter is the use of forums. The informal nature of these tends to lead to questions and answers actually posed and answered by humans, not indexed by robots and spit out by some algorithm; responses here are usually very detailed and highly relevant to a given question. If a question surfaces in multiple threads or is just genuinely interesting, that could serve as the impetus for a new evergreen page or as a blog post. We've already established that long-tail is going to be better than short-tail keywords for this particular client, so we need to take advantage of Google's advances in semantic search by providing authoritative content that is interesting and provides strong answers to common questions asked by members of the ideal audience.

Wayne Gretzky had a famous quote for what made him such a great hockey player. He said, "I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been." If we're metaphorically always skating to where the puck has been rather than where it's going, we're granting other sites the ability to develop authority on a topic before we do. Even if Joey's site does not focus on a small, but growing niche now, by beginning to blog and write about it, by the time that topic does become a part of Joey's main offering or it becomes mainstream, Google very well might recognize the site as an expert because it has been writing about it for a while when no one else was. An example of this could be "how wallabies differ from kangaroos" or "are wallabies legal in the United States as pets".

Demonstrate room for growth (20 Minutes)

So, great, we've done our keyword research and feel proud of the work we've performed, but how do we know Joey Antipodean will care or even take interest? SEOs often find themselves immersed in their own little worlds so sometimes it can be difficult to realize that outsiders care less about semantics or hunches about keywords, and more about data and easily recognizable figures.

An e-commerce site should be able to provide the average order value (AOV) for a transaction, but not every site, Joey's included, measures conversions in terms of dollars. In this case, let's say that is looking for email signups and converts visitors at a 3% rate. We're also going to assume that five of the site's fictitious, non-keyword optimized pages hold the number four spot in the SERPs of Google for a couple of search queries.

Using estimated click-through rate data, like the graph below from a study published by Advanced Web Ranking, we see that the number four spot on average has a click-through rate of 6.97%. Assuming that there are 10,000 impressions for those top five pages in a month, 697 will advance through to the website. Of those 697, only 3% or nearly 21 people will sign up and provide their email.

estimated clickthrough data
Read more about this study in Google Organic Click-Through Rates in 2014

This isn't the best we can do. We anticipate that the keywords that we're trying to rank for can eventually land us in the number one position. The same study mentioned above cites that the number one position on Google has a click-through rate of 31.24%. Moving up to the number one spot (just a three spot gain) would earn 3,124 clicks across those same 10,000 impressions, which would yield close to 94 email signups, or 73 more signups with keyword optimization vs. leaving the pages as un-optimized. This is the type of data to be highlighted in a keyword research document. For an e-commerce client, we'd focus on possible future revenue rather than email signups.

calculating emails captures

The example of Kangaroos NYC and its make-believe traffic and conversion rate is just an example, but the concept holds true for nearly all clients. Find out your client's current click-through and conversion rates and demonstrate how that data compares to known click-through rate for SERPs on the first page. Don't forget, the whole reason for keyword research is to rank as high as possible for terms that drive (qualified) traffic, so being able to show how much room for growth exists makes your cases for implementing changes all the more compelling.

What are your tips and tricks for quick, but effective keyword research?

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