Welcome to another Exposure Ninja Digital Marketing Roundup.
Since our last round-up, we’ve experienced a very turbulent period in the SEO community following a disturbance in Google’s algorithm, which has been christened the Medic Update.
In between our last round-up and today, we’ve also decided to make our digital marketing round-up posts bi-weekly. This decision was taken so that we can dedicate more time to produce deep-dive articles on the important issues raised by some of the changes in the field of SEM and the wider industry.
In this week’s Round-up we’ve learned:
💥 Google released a MAJOR algorithm update
✂️ How to repurpose your content so that it has an even bigger impact
📹 How to claim Featured Video Snippets
⏳ How to bulk check PageSpeed Insights
📰 What the recent update to the Google Ads Interface means for your PPC campaigns
Jump to your favourite marketing subject:
How to Avoid Private Blog Networks
Private Blog Networks, or PBNs, are loathed by Google. It hates them, and so do we. They’re a manipulative method used by shady SEOs and, while they may work for a little while, in the end, they’re normally found out and punished by Google (starting with the Penguin update in 2012).
If someone offers you cheap SEO or cheap backlinks, you can (almost, but not every time) expect that there’s some PBN usage in the mix.
So if you’re hoping to build links to the stellar 10X skyscraper content you’ve spent the past month creating, how can you avoid PBNs?
Responsible Link Building – How to Recognize and Avoid PBNs, written by Nikola Baniček of Boostability, is full of very simple tips on how to quickly review a website.
Not included within the list, but a good thing to check, is whether a website is using HTTPS and if it’s mobile friendly (Google’s mobile-first index means it will be ranking mobile-optimised websites higher, so those are the types of websites you want traffic and link authority from).
We use the following bookmarklet to check the responsiveness of a website quickly. Drag it into your toolbar and click it to use it.
How to Repurpose Your Content for Other Channels
You spend hours and hours researching and writing content for your website for it to perform well, but it’s not helping you perform strongly across your other channels. Your blog posts may be great long-form reads, but they don’t communicate well to a mobile device or as a social media share.
What you need is a method of turning your singular piece of content creation into multiple touch points between you and your target audience.
Lee Odden of TopRank Marketing has created a blog post full of fifty ideas to gain exposure for your content.
Your content isn’t one piece of content. It can be split into separate blog posts on other people’s websites, turned into video recordings with more in-depth detail and off-the-cuff insights, or turned into short videos and Gifs to be shared on social media channels.
Odden’s article is full of examples of the possibilities and runs through methods you can start implementing to expand your content to create more touch points with your users — it’s a must-read before you start brainstorming your next piece of content. Ask yourself: how many mediums could it be shared in? What would videos for the content look like? Could it contain vibrant, engaging images, so that visual content can be shared on Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest?
Pay-Per Click (PPC)
Amazon Ads Expanding to Include Video Ads and External Links
US lighting retailer Lamps Plus has been one of the first premium retailers given the keys to the new advertising features, starting from September, which offers them an additional channel through which they can connect with and secure new potential customers. Not only will they be able to continue to sell through their own Amazon store, but they’ll also be able to bolster (and earn more margin from) sales numbers for their own domain.
Amazon Ads is absolutely something to watch and worth investigating if you’re an eCommerce store. Beat your competitors and dominate the channel first.
How to Transfer a Google Ads Campaign into Bing Ads
Google Ads is an incredibly strong platform, capable of reaching billions of people around the world, but it’s not the only search engine with advertising options.
For many people, Bing is the one and only search engine they use, especially if they’re a Microsoft Edge browser user (yes, those people exist).
Joking aside, Bing retains 3.13% of the worldwide search engine market share and it’s a terrific place to find very specific demographics. For example, if you’re targeting an older generation, it’s plausible to assume that they’re not downloading an additional browser, such as Chrome, after they buy a PC. It’s quite likely that they’re using the stock browser preinstalled on their operating system. In this case, Bing may be the simplest method of reaching them.
If you’re currently running a Google Ads campaign and you want to test out how well your ads will perform for a different market, or you’d like to reach your target market via a different channel, then this short and simple “How to Transfer a Google Ads Account into Bing Ads” guide by Leo Worsley of Hallam can help you complete the process with ease.
Google Ads Line Total Expanding and What It Means for You
SEOs may be grumbling that the newly-expanded Google Ads are taking up more space in the SERPs and pushing their precious links further down the page, but if you’re a cunning PPC Specialist, you’ll be itching to get starting using the new additional space to pull people into your ads and to your client’s landing pages.
As explained in Emily Pollock’s blog post for Seer Interactive (where Emily is a Senior PPC Associate), the August update to the ads format increases the character count, which will provide further opportunities for you to increase your click-through rate.
Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)
Huge Algorithm Update Dubbed “The Medic Update” Landed on August 1st
On August 1st, a huge update started to jostle and change the index and ranking of thousands of domains across the world.
Named only as a “broad core algorithm update” by Google’s Search Liaison, the update caused many domains to lose anywhere up to 70% of their visibility and traffic, leading to many businesses losing huge amounts of both potential and relied-upon sales overnight.
The hardest hit was the Medical, Health and Wellness vertical. This led to the eventual nomination of the “Medic Update” name.
There have been several hypotheses about which ranking factors led to the mass changes, including potential issues with usability, technical errors, content quality, and much more besides.
We decided to dig deeper into the postulated reasons for the update and not only determined that several SEO veterans were very accurate in their estimations, but also that there may be a new form of authorship authority being monitored and tracked.
Our full analysis of the update — which includes a how-to and checklist on avoiding a negative impact from similar updates in the future — can be found in our breakdown, “What Is the Medic Update?”
Your Website’s Architecture Can Help Shape Your Ranking Success
Performance-based site architecture is so often neglected with new website builds and redesigns, simply because it’s not a subject often discussed. There are lots of great articles on site architecture, but, as with many things, unless you know to look for it, you may never find it.
Now there’s a brilliant go-to article on site architecture that we can all learn from and share with our clients or website developers.
“15 Site Architecture Tips for Performance SEO” by notable SEO consultant and former Director of SEO at Moz, Cyrus Shepard, includes all of the essential introductions and explanations needed to teach the unaware how they can improve their site architecture for a measurable increase in website performance.
Also included are several links to articles, which include intermediate and advanced techniques for internal linking and click-depth optimisation.
Published just after this post was this case study-backed article by Dave Davies for Search Engine Land, which highlights how to link smartly to your key converting pages or pages of high importance.
Referring Domains Are a Decent Predictor of Success
Mike Belasco, CEO of Inflow®, has created a fantastic data-based deep dive into eMarketer’s 2017 US Ecommerce Sales 2017: The Top 10 Companies report to determine the reason behind the success of ranked businesses.
Using SEO toolbox Ahrefs for onsite and offsite analysis, Belasco reviewed and found a number of interesting statistics and observations on the (potential) reasons for domain and ranking success, including:
- Number of Pages Indexed Is NOT Correlated with SEO Traffic or Revenue
- Ahrefs Domain Rating Seems to Be a Weak Predictor of Traffic and Revenue
- Referring Domains Are a Decent Predictor of Success
The most interesting and actionable observation of some growing eCommerce businesses was that “increasing the number of pages you index is no guarantee of ranking for more keywords. You can rank for more keywords with a smaller amount of quality pages”, a recommendation we fully agree with. Targeted quality always outperforms quantity.
How to Claim Featured Video Snippets
Here at the Exposure Ninja Dojo, we’re regular readers of Justin Briggs, so when an article drops providing details on the requirements for claiming a Featured Video Snippet in Google’s search results, we sit up and pay attention.
Video Featured Snippets: How Suggested Clips Work is filled with great analysis of what Google looks at to determine the YouTube videos it chooses to highlight, and includes a how-to list for optimising your own videos for any search query you’re tracking that already has Featured Video Snippets appearing.
How to Get Your Phone Number in Front of More People
With the frequency that Google changes the design of the search results, it’s hard to know whether we’ll see any traffic clicking through to our websites in the near future.
We need to make contacting our businesses as simple as possible. With the above in mind, how are we to do that?
20 Essential Technical SEO Tools
Writing for Search Engine Journal, Brian Harnish‘ has created a great list of essential tools for practitioners of Technical SEO to use, including our beloved Screaming Frog SEO Spider Tool, private search engine Majestic, and the Panguin algorithm analysis tool by Barracuda Digital.
Whether you’re an SEO or learning the ropes, adding these tools to your arsenal will make technical analysis a little easier to accomplish.
How to Bulk Test PageSpeed Insights Using Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider
I couldn’t live without Screaming Frog’s SEO Spider. While it does practically everything you need for SEO auditing, it’s also incredibly flexible for doing the types of things it wasn’t originally intended to be used for.
If you’re in dire need to audit a lot of URLs, doing it manually can be a major pain. There are a number of software options that can help you do page speed tests (with Sitebulb being a personal favourite), but sometimes a manual approach is needed. This method is a perfect solution and should firmly reside in your bookmarks.
Google Images Referral Tracking in Google Analytics
As reported in our round-up on July 23rd, Google is set to separate traffic via Google Image searches from the standard Google referrer within Google Analytics.
Google has now published an update detailing how that is going to look within Google Analytics.
The most important aspects to note are on how the change will affect any filters you or your data analyst may have set up:
If you do have special filters, custom channel groupings, or reports based on this data, then you will want to make updates as needed to capture the new Source parameter in your custom settings.
Note that when this change launches, you may see a drop in data perceived to be coming from ‘google,’ since it will be reclassified as coming from ‘google images.’ In some cases, you may see an increase in organic traffic as we reclassify some traffic previously classified as ‘referral’ to ‘organic.’ These changes should all balance out and you shouldn’t expect an overall drop or increase in total traffic.
BrightLocal Releases SEO Citations Study 2018
Citations are to local businesses as backlinks are to regular websites, except that, if you’re a local business, you’re unfortunately going to need plenty of both.
BrightLocal continually creates and releases data-backed studies on the state of local search, and in August it released not just the results of its latest study, but also a tool, which allows you to quickly check the total of Average Citations and Median Citations, and the average number of citations needed to rank in the first three positions of the search results pages.
As a follow-on post, the recently published “How To Find Local Backlinks And Citation Opportunities Using Majestic” is very useful for citation finding.
Google My Business Reviews Lead to Improved Ranking and Sales
In one of its latest articles, Local SEO experts Whitespark has shared real-life case studies detailing how its own customers have not only improved their local rankings for key profit-generating keyword phrases, but also increased their lead generation by 1,650% — from 20 leads a month via Google in 2015 to 350 leads in 2018 (which verifies that Organic Search is not only a very strong generator of leads, but also a worthy long-term investment).
The key is in reviews — strong keyword-rich reviews and testimonials from real-life customers who have been given the best service or product delivery possible.
But what’s the key to achieving this? Asking for them.
That’s it. No “hacking” is necessary, but just the simple process of asking your customers for a review in the right way.
Whitespark’s post is full of great info, but for the Ninja approach to Local SEO, I can strongly recommend the following by our genius-level SEO Ninjas:
- The Ultimate Guide to Local SEO
- How to Improve Your Local Ranking Using Google Reviews
- Accountancy Company Local SEO Campaign Generated 900% Increase in Visibility [Case Study]
SEMRush Launches Listing Management Tool (USA Only)
Citation management can be a bit of a drag, but, for local businesses, it’s unfortunately a very necessary requirement.
Making directory submissions easier to do is a demand every Local SEO consultant has made, which is why the US-based company Yext (a data management company) has been so successful since its inception in 2006 that it was able to make an IPO in 2017. It matched a need.
In August, SEMrush brought the ease of citation management into its own toolbox as the Listing Management Tool.
Using a connection to Yext, users in the US will be able to manage their Name, Address, and Phone Number citations across the biggest directory websites in one place, making it easier for busy business owners to complete this time-intensive, but highly necessary, task in minutes.
Duplicate Content Defined
“What is duplicate content?” is a question our expert SEO Ninjas are regularly posed, and we can fully understand why people are often confused. There’s a lot of information out there on the World Wide Web and it’s not always the same across different websites.
Knowing what does and what doesn’t count as duplicate content can be confusing, but fortunately, dear reader, John Doherty of the SEO provider recommendation service Credo has put together an easily-accessible write-up on What Is Duplicate Content for SEO? We’d really recommend giving this one a read.
How to Find and Reclaim Lost Backlinks (Using Ahrefs)
While we don’t use the SEO toolbox Ahrefs here at the Dojo, we were incredibly impressed by its recent publication, which details how to use the tool to find and reclaim any backlinks that may have been lost since they were first created.
The blog post details a fantastic process of detection using its own tool, but much of the process outlined can be applied to your own SEO tool of choice.
If you’re looking for an alternative method that uses an array of alternative tools — including Google Alerts, Buzzsumo, Majestic, and Moz Open Site Explorer — then this article by Darren Kingman of Builtvisible documents a simple process you can follow.
Other Notable Mentions
Too Many eCommerce Stores Neglect Offline Execution
During a roundtable event in Mumbai marketers, analysts and event moderators discussed how eCommerce stores can compete in increasingly saturated arenas.
There are several insightful observations from the event, but the most important relates to how many eCommerce stores are neglecting one crucial aspect of their sales process.
Too many ecommerce businesses focus only on the online experience and neglect offline execution
As an eCommerce business, your responsibility to the customer doesn’t end at the checkout; it ends when the customer has the product in their hands. Did it arrive on time? Did it arrive in one piece? Is it easily returnable? Is it easy for the customer to reorder it if they like it enough to have more of them or to gift to a friend?
Your customer experience can be your SCA, or Sustainable Competitive Advantage. Another company may be able to match your prices or your product range, but the one thing they can’t copy is your brand and the feeling people have when your product is in their hands.
The 25 Best Productivity Apps in 2018
As busy business owners, digital marketers or Ninjas, it can sometimes be hard to stay on top of all the many wonderful things that fill our days. No matter how brilliant we all are, our minds can only retain so much information. Instead, it’s best to take a little offered help to make life easier and more manageable, so that we can all be a little bit more productive.
Thanks to the API connector Zapier, we can all add a touch more productivity to the rest of the year — and the years ahead — by utilising one or more of the recommendations from its recently published 25 Best Productivity Apps in 2018.
Included in the list are some personal favourites, including: