Welcome to another Exposure Ninja Digital Marketing Round-up. As we approach August, we take a look at the interesting pieces of content that have popped up around the web over the past week.
In this week’s Round-up we’ve learned:
- Google is making finding a job easier to do in the UK
- That we’re (probably) doing keyword research backwards
- Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo is tired of Google’s monopoly
- Messenger bots are getting easier to set up and every business should consider getting one
Jump to your favourite marketing subject:
The Classic Approach to Keyword Research Is Outdated
Kevin Indig says that “the classic approach to keyword research is outdated” and he’s 100% right.
Keyword research is a crucial component of not just content creation, but also the full optimisation of a website’s onsite SEO. Because of this, the task is often carried out by SEOs who collect every variation of a keyword phrase and related questions before going on a data-gathering spree. This is then turned into a master spreadsheet, which people like me love to gather nuggets of opportunity from.
This then leads to content being created around a phrase, so that the article or page will rank for that keyword. The longer the phrase, the better (what is a long tail keyword?).
The problem is, the brainstorming of content around keywords is limited to the imagination of the writer creating that piece. If the keyword is “best laptop bag” then the most likely outcome is that the writer will create a “Best Laptop Bags in 2018” blog post — and while that’s okay, what separates it from the other fifty articles that’ll also be written this year on the same subject? What makes it more likely to rank? And, more importantly, how does it help the searching user’s individual dilemma?
Each searcher is unique, so the pages they find should be unique to them. That’s not to say that we need to create hundreds of thousands of pages to cater to every one of those users, but it does mean that we must understand the problem to better understand the search query.
If I’ve just bought a new laptop, it’s highly likely that I’ll need a way to carry it, either in a bag or maybe in a sleeve. My problem is that I often travel, so it needs to be something conveniently-sized, but also durable enough to endure the knocks and scrapes that can occur during trips from A to B.
By understanding the background behind my search, the content creator can then better address the content requirements they need to meet to move me further down the sales funnel.
I may still be in the informational stage of my buyer’s journey, so I need reviews and whatever data you can provide, which will not only educate me to make a better decision, but also make me trust the website which helped me more. The likelihood is I’ll then consider making the decision to buy from them.
The best content for me could be written specifically around my narrow problem within a wider one. For example, the content may be “Which Is the Hardest Wearing Material for Laptop Cases?” as part of a segmented content base of “Laptop Bags, Cases, and Sleeves”. This may also comprise other closely related content, such as:
- Which Is The Lightest and Strongest Laptop Sleeve?
- Laptop Bags for Frequent Business Travellers
- How to Choose Between a Laptop Bag, Case or Sleeve
- Types of Laptop Sleeve Material and How to Choose Them
- Digital Nomad’s Guide to Essential Laptop Accessories
After the questions are gathered, data can then be applied on top, including the average number of keyword searches, suggested cost-per-click and competition data we all naturally love (add some Keyword Difficulty, SERP Analysis and Intent in there too for good measure).
The problem first, keywords second approach to keyword research recommended by Mr Indig aligns with our thoughts on content creation completely and Kevin summarises the fundamental reason why this approach works perfectly when he says: “The problem-driven approach to keyword research is built on empathy.”
Before creating your next piece of content, consider first what your target audience’s dilemma is, then create content to match it (and do it five times better than the other content out there!)
Conversion Rate Optimisation (CRO)
Make Your Important Pages Mobile Friendly
Mobile, mobile, mobile. It’s all anyone has been talking about for years, with responsive design replacing standalone mobile sites and Google now moving to a mobile-first index to deliver an improved index of websites for mobile devices — but how well prepared are your pages for converting users on a mobile device?
Speed is crucial. Do everything you can to make your website blisteringly fast to load on mobile devices and you’ll see an improvement in both conversion rate and ranking, but have you considered how your page looks on a mobile device? You may find that your brilliantly designed website is very responsive to different display sizes, but is everything in the right order? Are headlines going missing or at a text-size that’s too large for the screen?
Going even further, are your calls-to-action as engaging on a mobile device as they are on a tablet? Is there too much text in the button? Is it getting truncated to something unintelligible like “Get a FRE”?
Fortunately, Lee Dobson of BrightLocal has gathered some brilliant guidance on the absolutely necessary areas and items to check when optimising for mobile, including:
- That your contact details must be easily accessible and usable
- That speed really is everything
- That your copy must be concise and not a fifty-swipe long-form piece of content
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Google Brings Job Search Improvements to UK Results Pages
Google announced on July 17th that it was finally bringing improvements to job search queries to the United Kingdom’s search pages.
The changes are part of an effort by Google to help stimulate employment in the U.K. by bringing an increase in visibility of available jobs to the unemployed or job-seeking public.
The improvements provide more information and options to the searcher, giving immediate access to “…salary information, reviews and ratings of the employer, and different options to apply for a job or use a location filter to see jobs in the areas that are convenient for you.” There are also additional helpful tools, including a save feature and an alerts notification so that a searcher can be notified of similar jobs when they become available.
This does, however, spell an interesting period ahead for jobs websites such as Indeed and Monster, among others, as the Jobs section of the results pages pushes these websites even further down the page — beneath the four Google Ads already present and the new Jobs panel.
Also concerning is the method by which each job can be applied for — with a button link provided to each website where the job is posted, including the employer’s website. This is not to say that competition between websites is bad, rather, that there is nothing a job website can do to encourage the user to click through to their website, other than increase brand recognition (which, in reality, you can do a lot of work on with the right budget and strategy).
Multi-Domain Publishing Making a Comeback?
Once upon a time, website owners attempted to occupy every result in Google’s search results pages by owning several domains.
For example, a plumbing business owner back in 2008 may have owned the following domains, in an effort to dominate the SERPs:
However, Google soon came to detest this form of search engine gamification and started to penalise websites which attempted to do this, through altering its algorithm to discount exact match phrase usage and backlink profiles, and even reviewing the IPs of domains to see if they were interconnected (all of which is still a large part of the algorithm today).
Some publishers also behaved in the same manner, creating multiple domains to cater to different subject matters. Examples of this could be:
- and so on…
These publishers also felt the heat when Google changed the game by updating its algorithm, so tactics changed.
One of the most common tactics was to consolidate all content onto one website: a singular website for all of your content needs. One publisher who attempted to achieve this and succeeded for many years was about.com, a catch-all publisher of any content they could imagine or publish on behalf of others.
Unfortunately, Google eventually decided that it didn’t like this approach either, preferring publishers who were masters of one topic, rather than amateurs of several (which remains at the core of Google’s publisher and content preferences today).
About.com felt the effects significantly, losing market share to other niche publishers or pages which Google had decided were experts in each particular subject matter.
The about.com team had to stop and reconsider their approach. Should they continue to mass-produce content which was deep in length, but shallow in value? Or do they make a drastic change and focus on a macro approach to each topic?
In May 2017, about.com rebranded to DotDash, marking a significant transition “from a general interest website to a vibrant collection of stand-alone vertical brands.”
The new publishing platform relaunched its entire content library into several highly-specific and targeted domains in the areas of health, jobs, DIY/crafts, travel, technology and education.
The multi-domain approach had returned, but not quite like before.
As Jan Grundmann of SearchMetrics has so brilliantly analysed in a recent article, the change has delivered improved keyword visibility that is outperforming about.com’s performance before the change. Each of the new domains (verywell.com, thebalance.com, etc.) achieves, through specialised and contextually-relevant article creation, what the conglomerated former domain could not.
As much as your local supermarket may operate a pharmacy, you (probably) wouldn’t go to them for medical advice. Nor would you choose them for expert wine recommendations, advice on choosing the best coffee beans for your preferences or which new telephone to buy (even if they operate their own phone contracts). Instead, you go to your GP for expert advice, you visit a wine shop for expert wine suggestions, you ask the barista at your local coffee shop for bean-buying advice and you visit a technology specialist (such as the Carphone Warehouse) for recommendations on the best phone and contract for you.
The change for about.com has been a terrific success, as shown in SearchMetrics’ post and data, so much so that DotDash has opted to fragment some of its new domains even further into new, specialised domains, including:
Should You Split Your Domain Into Multiple Domains?
Unless you’re a publisher of multiple subject matters, switching to a multiple domain approach is probably not worth considering, especially as the organisation and planning involved would be a very prolonged and expensive endeavour.
However, this is very hard to know — unless full analysis is carried out to determine the value of the change. If the change to a multi-domain approach is significantly better than the current approach over the long-term, then it’s absolutely worth considering, but not if the objective is to simply “occupy as much space on the search results as possible.” That’s not what this strategy sets out to achieve.
It’s also worth keeping in mind that multiple domains also require multiple marketing strategies. It’s not as simple as splitting the marketing budget from one site into two sites or more. Rather, you’re looking at multiplying the budget to build and maintain one domain and accomplish the same for each new domain. A very expensive prospect indeed.
Video Carousels Losing Some eCommerce Sites Hundreds of Thousands in Revenue
We love Glenn Gabe. Whenever there’s a change in the algorithm, we’re not satisfied with any possible theory until Mr Gabe has spoken.
Naturally, Glenn regularly writes articles about the interesting, and often brilliant, baffling problems he comes across during his work.
This week, Glenn has highlighted an increasingly problematic situation with websites being pulled into Google’s now universally available Video Carousel feature, which displays videos within the search results for a range of search queries.
In Glenn’s case study — and we strongly suggest that you read it — the problems of an eCommerce company are brought to light.
The problem for this B2B eCommerce site is that a large number of its most valuable pages are appearing in the Video Carousels. “They should be so happy,” you may think to yourself, but the consequence of this is that clicks to the website have significantly dropped — while impressions have remained high — leading to lost sales and revenue in the region of “$300K to $500K in sales since this started happening”.
Glenn’s article sheds better light on the situation, so please do read it, but the main message to take from this is that it’s increasingly difficult to keep up with Google’s changes to the algorithm and the way it displays the search results. The search giant will continue to move the goal posts and it’s crucial that SEOs are given the time and resources required to monitor these changes, adjust to them and continually test for better options.
Google to Change Referral URL for Google Images
If your website relies heavily on Google Image traffic, then Google’s recent update regarding a forthcoming change to the referrer URL needs to be on your radar.
While not a large change, this will change the way in which Google Image traffic will be reported in Google Analytics channel reporting.
“If you use Google Analytics to track site data, the new referral URL will be automatically ingested and traffic will be attributed to Google Images appropriately. Just to be clear, this change will not affect Search Console. Webmasters will continue to receive an aggregate list of top search queries that drive traffic to their site.”
There’s no official date for the change, but we don’t expect it to be too far away.
Social Media / Influencer Marketing
How to Use Messenger Bots Regardless of the Size of Your Business
Messenger bots have become the backbone of many successfully-run social media accounts for brands over the past few years, with some companies working to integrate them with their own software, such as CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platforms.
In a recent podcast and blog post round-up by Social Media Examiner, Michael Stelzner speaks with Messenger Bot expert Molly Pittman about the different ways messenger bots can be used at separate stages of your sales funnel, all the way from the TOFU (top-of-the-funnel) to the BOFU (bottom-of-the-funnel).
The podcast and blog post linked above is a crucial listen and read for any business owner who’s looking to grow their business online and increase their sales. It once again backs up the notion that social media is a crucial customer service contact point and should be run as standard.
Other Notable Mentions
DuckDuckGo Blasts Google for Anti-Competitive Search Behaviour
Privacy-focused search engine DuckDuckGo publically named and shamed Google for its anti-competitive activities on the Android mobile operating system and Chrome web browser last week, fresh off the back of a large $5 billion fine from the European Union.
The search engine, which averages twenty-three million searches a day, pointed towards a situation where Google has limited the adoption of DuckDuckGo by users who would prefer to use the search engine on Android devices and Chrome, highlighting that the issue doesn’t occur on Safari and iOS, Google’s main OS and browser competitor.
Up until just last year, it was impossible to add DuckDuckGo to Chrome on Android, and it is still impossible on Chrome on iOS. We are also not included in the default list of search options like we are in Safari, even though we are among the top search engines in many countries.
— DuckDuckGo (@DuckDuckGo) July 18, 2018
In the opinion of this agency, every internet user should be able to pick and choose how they use the internet and should be able to set their own default settings to match their preferences, no matter whether that’s using DuckDuckGo, the tree-planting Ecosia search engine or Firefox Focus, the private browsing app for Android.