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In a sea of signals, is your on-page on-point

30-second summary:

  • Content managers who want to assess their on-page performance can feel lost at sea due to numerous SEO signals and their perceptions
  • This problem gets bigger and highly complex for industries with niche semantics
  • The scenarios they present to the content planning process are highly specific, with unique lexicons and semantic relationships
  • Sr. SEO Strategist at Brainlabs, Zach Wales, uses findings from a rigorous competitive analysis to shed light on how to evaluate your on-page game

Industries with niche terminology, like scientific or medical ecommerce brands, present a layer of complexity to SEO. The scenarios they present to the content planning process are highly specific, with unique lexicons and semantic relationships. 

SEO has many layers to begin with, from technical to content. They all aim to optimize for numerous search engine ranking signals, some of which are moving targets. 

So how does one approach on-page SEO in this challenging space? We recently had the privilege of conducting a lengthy competitive analysis for a client in one of these industries. 

What we walked away with was a repeatable process for on-page analysis in a complicated semantic space. 

The challenge: Turning findings into action

At the outset of any analysis, it’s important to define the challenge. In the most general sense, ours was to turn findings into meaningful on-page actions — with priorities. 

And we would do this by comparing the keyword ranking performance of our client’s domain to that of its five chosen competitors.

Specifically, we needed to identify areas of the client’s website content that were losing to competitors in keyword rankings. And to prioritize things, we needed to show where those losses were having the greatest impact on our client’s potential for search traffic.

Adding to the complexity were two additional sub-challenges:

  1. Volume of keyword data. When people think of “niche markets,” the implication is usually a small number of keywords with low monthly search volumes (MSV). Scientific industries are not so. They are “niche” in the sense that their semantics are not accessible to all—including keyword research tools—but their depth & breadth of keyword potential is vast.
  2. Our client already dominated the market. At first glance, using keyword gap analysis tools, there were no product categories where our client wasn’t dominating the market. Yet they were incurring traffic losses from these five competitors from a seemingly random, spread-out number of cases. Taken together incrementally, these losses had significant impacts on their web traffic. 

If the needle-in-a-haystack analogy comes to mind, you see where this is going. 

To put the details to our challenge, we had to:

  • Identify where those incremental effects of keyword rank loss were being felt the most — knowing this would guide our prioritization;
  • Map those keyword trends to their respective stage of the marketing funnel (from informational top-of-funnel to the transactional bottom-of-funnel) 
  • Rule out off-page factors like backlink equity, Core Web Vitals & page speed metrics, in order to…
  • Isolate cases where competitor pages ranked higher than our client’s on the merits of their on-page techniques, and finally
  • Identify what those successful on-page techniques were, in hopes that our client could adapt its content to a winning on-page formula.   

How to spot trends in a sea of data

When the data sets you’re working with are large and no apparent trends stand out, it’s not because they don’t exist. It only means you have to adjust the way you look at the data.

As a disclaimer, we’re not purporting that our approach is the only approach. It was one that made sense in response to another challenge at hand, which, again, is one that’s common to this industry: The intent measures of SEO tools like Semrush and Ahrefs — “Informational,” “Navigational,” “Commercial” and “Transactional,” or some combination thereof — are not very reliable. 

Our approach to spotting these trends in a sea of data went like this:

Step 1. Break it down to short-tail vs. long tail

Numbers don’t lie. Absent reliable intent data, we cut the dataset in half based on MSV ranges: Keywords with MSVs above 200 and those equal to/below 200. We even graphed these out, and indeed, it returned a classic short/long-tail curve.

on-page SEO signals - Short tail vs long tail keyword performance 

This gave us a proxy for funnel mapping: Short-tail keywords, defined as high-MSV & broad focus, could be mostly associated with the upper funnel. This made long-tail keywords, being less searched but more specifically focused, a proxy for the lower funnel. 

Doing this also helped us manage the million-plus keyword dataset our tools generated for the client and its five competitor websites. Even if you perform the export hack of downloading data in batches, neither Google Drive nor your device’s RAM want anything to do with that much data.

Step 2. Establish a list of keyword-operative root words

The “keyword-operative root word” is the term we gave to root words that are common to many or all of the keywords under a certain topic or content type. For example, “dna” is a common root word to most of the keywords about DNA lab products, which our client and its competitors sell. And “protocols” is a root word for many keywords that exist in upper-funnel, informational content.

We established this list by placing our short- and long-tail data (exported from Semrush’s Keyword Gap analysis tool) into two spreadsheets, where we were able to view the shared keyword rankings of our client and the five competitors. We equipped these spreadsheets with data filters and formulas that scored each keyword with a competitive value, relative to the six web domains analyzed.  

Separately, we took a list of our client’s product categories and brainstormed all possibilities for keyword-operative root words. Finally, we filtered the data for each root word and noted trends, such as the number of keywords that a website ranked for on Google page 1, and the sum of their MSVs. 

Finally, we applied a calculation that incorporated average position, MSV, and industry click-through rates to quantify the significance of a trend. So if a competitor appeared to have a keyword ranking edge over our client in a certain subset of keywords, we could place a numerical value on that edge. 

Step 3. Identify content templates

If one of your objectives is to map keyword trends to the marketing funnel, then it’s critical to understand the role of page templates. Why? 

Page speed performance is a known ranking signal that should be considered. And ecommerce websites often have content templates that reflect each stage of the funnel. 

In this case, all six competitors conveniently had distinct templates for top-, middle- and bottom-funnel content:

  • Top-funnel templates: Text-heavy, informational content in what was commonly called “Learning Resources” or something similar;
  • Middle-funnel templates: Also text-heavy, informational content about a product category, with links to products and visual content like diagrams and videos — the Product Landing Page (PLP), essentially;
  • Bottom-funnel templates: Transactional, Product Detail Pages (PDP) with concise, conversion-oriented text and purchasing calls-to-action.

Step 4. Map keyword trends to the funnel

After cross-examining the root terms (Step 2), keyword ranking trends began to emerge. Now we just had to map them to their respective funnel stage.

Having identified content templates, and having the data divided by short- & long-tail made this a quicker process. Our primary focus was on trends where competitor webpages were outranking our client’s site. 

on-page SEO signals - Page Speed Insight Scores on-page SEO signals - Page Speed Insight Scores by device and competitor comparison

Identifying content templates brought the added value of seeing where competitors, for example, outranked our client on a certain keyword because their winning webpage was built in a content-rich, optimized PLP, while our client’s lower-ranking page was a PDP.

Step 5. Rule out the off-page ranking factors

Since our goal was to identify & analyze on-page techniques, we had to rule out off-page factors like link equity and page speed. We sought cases where one page outranked another on a shared keyword, in spite of having inferior link equity, page speed scores, etc. 

For all of Google’s developments in processing semantics (e.g., BERT, the Helpful Content Update) there are still cases where a page with thin text content outranks another page that has lengthier, optimized text content — by virtue of link equity. 

To rule these factors out, we assigned an “SEO scorecard” to each webpage under investigation. The scorecard tallied the number of rank-signal-worthy attributes the page had in its SEO favor. This included things like Semrush’s page authority score, the number of internal vs. external inlinks, the presence and types of Schema markup, and Core Web Vitals stats.

on-page SEO signals - SEO Scorecard

The scorecards also included on-page factors, like the number of headers & subheaders (H1, H2, H3…), use of keywords in alt-tags, meta titles & their character counts, and even page word count. This helped give a high-level sense of on-page performance before diving into the content itself. 

Our findings

When comparing the SEO scorecards of our client’s pages to its competitors, we only chose cases where the losing scorecard (in off-page factors) was the keyword ranking winner. Here are a few of the standout findings.

Adding H3 tags to products names really works

This month, OrangeValley’s Koen Leemans published a Semrush article, titled, SEO Split Test Result: Adding H3 Tags to Products Names on Ecommerce Category Pages. We found this study especially well-timed, as it validated what we saw in this competitive analysis.

To those versed in on-page SEO, placing keywords in <h3> HTML format (or any level of <h…> for that matter) is a wise move. Google crawls this text before it gets to the paragraph copy. It’s a known ranking signal. 

When it comes to SEO-informed content planning, ecommerce clients have a tendency — coming from the best of intentions — to forsake the product name in pursuit of the perfect on-page recipe for a specific non-brand keyword. The value of the product name becomes a blind spot because the brand assumes it will outrank others on its own product names.

It’s somewhere in this thought process that an editor may, for example, decide to list product names on a PLP as bolded <p> copy, rather than as a <h3> or <h4>. This, apparently, is a missed opportunity. 

More to this point, we found that this on-page tactic performed even better when the <h>-tagged product name was linked (index, follow) to its corresponding PDP, AND accompanied with a sentence description beneath the product name. 

This is in contrast to the product landing page (PLP) which has ample supporting page copy, and only lists its products as hyperlinked names with no descriptive text. 

Word count probably matters, <h> count very likely matters

In the ecommerce space, it’s not uncommon to find PLPs that have not been visited by the content fairy. A storyless grid of images and product names. 

Yet, in every case where two PLPs of this variety went toe-to-toe over the same keyword, the sheer number of <h> tags seemed to be the only on-page factor that ranked one PLP above its competitors’ PLPs, which themselves had higher link equity. 

The takeaway here is that if you know you won’t have time to touch up your PLPs with landing copy, you should at least set all product names to <h> tags that are hyperlinked, and increase the number of them (e.g., set the page to load 6 rows of products instead of 4).  

And word count? Although Google’s John Mueller confirmed that word count is not a ranking factor for the search algorithm, this topic is debated. We cannot venture anything conclusive about word count from our competitive analyses. What we can say is that it’s a component of our finding that…

Defining the entire topic with your content wins

Backlinko’s Brian Dean ventured and proved the radical notion that you can optimize a single webpage to rank for not the usual 2 or 3 target keywords, but hundreds of them. That is if your copy encompasses everything about the topic that unites those hundreds of keywords. 

That practice may work in long-form content marketing but is a little less applicable in ecommerce settings. The alternative to this is to create a body of pages that are all interlinked deliberately and logically (from a UX standpoint) and that cover every aspect of the topic at hand.

This content should address the questions that people have at each stage of the awareness-to-purchase cycle (i.e., the funnel). It should define niche terminology and spell out acronyms. It should be accessible.

In one stand-out case from our analysis, a competitor page held position 1 for a lucrative keyword, while our client’s site and that of the other competitors couldn’t even muster a page 1 ranking. All six websites were addressing the keyword head-on, arguably, in all the right ways. And they had superior link equity.

What did the winner have that the rest did not? It happened that in this lone instance, its product was being marketed to a high-school teacher/administrator audience, rather than a PhD-level, corporate, governmental or university scientist. By this virtue alone, their marketing copy was far more layman-accessible, and, apparently, Google approved too.

The takeaway is not to dumb-down the necessary jargon of a technical industry. But it highlights the need to tell every part of the story within a topic vertical. 

Conclusion: Findings-to-action

There is a common emphasis among SEO bloggers who specialize in biotech & scientific industries on taking a top-down, topical takeover approach to content planning. 

I came across these posts after completing this competitive analysis for our client. This topic-takeover emphasis was validating because the “Findings-To-Action” section of our study prescribed something similar:

Map topics to the funnel. Prior to keyword research, map broad topics & subtopics to their respective places in the informational & consumer funnel. Within each topic vertical, identify:

  • Questions-to-ask & problems-to-solve at each funnel stage
  • Keyword opportunities that roll up to those respective stages
  • How many pages should be planned to rank for those keywords
  • The website templates that best accommodate this content
  • The header & internal linking strategy between those pages

Unlike more common-language industries, the need to appeal to two audiences is especially pronounced in scientific industries. One is the AI-driven audience of search engine bots that scour this complex semantic terrain for symmetry of clues and meaning. The other is human, of course, but with a mind that has already mastered this symmetry and is highly capable of discerning it. 

To make the most efficient use of time and user experience, content planning and delivery need to be highly organized. The age-old marketing funnel concept works especially well as an organizing model. The rest is the rigor of applying this full-topic-coverage, content approach.


Zach Wales is Sr. SEO Strategist at Brainlabs.

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The post In a sea of signals, is your on-page on-point? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


SEO doesn't have to be scary shift from a reactive to proactive strategy

30-second summary:

  • SEO is a reality that all marketers face and many try to steer clear of as they devise an all-encompassing digital marketing strategy that is reactive in nature
  • Begin by familiarizing yourself with Google’s Page Quality Rating Guidelines
  • Create a sound SEO strategy to use every time you start the content creation process, include – researching audience needs, keyword considerations, and internal linking
  • Make sure to clean up and update your existing content so that it doesn’t drag down new, SEO-optimized content

SEO can be vague. It is nuanced. It is always in a state of evolution. But that doesn’t change the fact that it is a very real factor that impacts your marketing, whether you plan for it or not. 

Many marketers discover the powerful effects of SEO when it’s too late. Their content is already underperforming. It isn’t ranking for the right keywords. It isn’t retaining readers and has a low dwell time. 

Fixing the issue of bad SEO wastes time and resources. It’s also completely unavoidable.

The key to utilizing SEO to your advantage is to approach it in a proactive rather than a reactive manner. If you’re in a pattern of noticing the effects of SEO on your online content and trying to make adjustments after the fact, here are some suggestions to help you seize the reins and regain a sense of control over your organic search traffic.

1. Associate yourself with Google’s Page Quality Rating Guidelines

If you want to dominate with your SEO, you need to start by understanding it as much as possible. This is much easier said than done. SEO often feels more like an art form than a science. Algorithms can be difficult to follow. Results can be conflicting. But there are ways to bring some clarity to the chaos.

Google provides a number of pointers for how its search engine works via its Page Quality Rating Guidelines. This is a massive document that used to be privy to Google employees only. Now that it’s public, it enables marketers and SEO experts to better inform their proactive SEO strategies.

There are several key areas of the document that shed light on how Google evaluates your website. For instance, it’s important to understand key concepts, like YMYL pages. These are ‘Your Money or Your Life‘ pages, which contain important information to help readers make critical decisions. Due to their higher degree of importance, Google grades these pages with a more stringent, high-quality standard. That means you need to keep them impeccably informed and up-to-date (more on that further down).

E-A-T is another essential element of Google ranking. The acronym stands for expertise, authority, and trust — a trio of elements that help define how high to rank a web page.

Google’s Page Quality Rating Guidelines may be extensive, comprehensive, and a bit overwhelming. But you don’t need to read it cover to cover every quarter. Instead, familiarize yourself with many of the basic concepts. And, of course, keep it bookmarked for easy reference so that it can continue to inform your SEO strategy in the future.

2. Build each piece of content thoughtfully from the get-go

Everyone and their mother knows about the importance of keywords and linking in SEO. The problem is when you fail to address these critical content components in the planning phase — i.e. before you actually make your content.

Now, this is where things can get tricky. If you focus entirely on things like keywords, it’s easy to over-prioritize SEO at the expense of the reader — and that is always a bad strategy. 

Good SEO comes from putting the reader first and the search engines second. That naturally creates content that better satisfies the searcher’s intent. This has the effect of boosting critical SEO criteria, like dwell time …which ends up boosting your SEO in the long run anyway.

Even so, it’s important to factor things like keywords and linking into your initial content creation strategy. A good way to do this while still prioritizing your audience is by using the following steps:

  • Search for important keywords and phrases related to your audience: What is your target demographic searching for? What answers or advice do they need? One easy way to see this is by looking up generic keywords from your audience and checking the “Related searches” section at the bottom of the SERPs. Use this to guide what content you create.
  • Choose additional keywords: Use a keyword planner to add other keywords to your initial topic. Don’t be excessive. Just use a handful of additional terms to help your content stand out in search results.
  • Create complete content: When you go to create the content itself, try to make it as comprehensive as possible. Complete content refers to something that doesn’t just answer an initial inquiry but any follow-up questions, as well.
  • Add internal links: Finally, remember to link to other areas of your site throughout each piece. Consistently linking to important pages can tie your site together and help it perform better.

By planning keywords and links ahead of time, you can ensure that you optimize each piece of content right out of the gate.

3. Cultivate existing content

It’s tempting to dive right into creating fresh, new content that is SEO-friendly. But let’s stop for a minute and think things through.

If your current site is already performing poorly, creating better content is only going to solve part of the problem. Many chronic SEO issues are a site-wide affair. In fact, Google has clarified that thin content (that is, content without much value) doesn’t apply to individual posts. It’s a site-wide problem.

That means if you start the proactive SEO process by creating new content, it’s going to have to overcome the flaws of your past low-quality content before it can really start to lift your site out of the SEO gutter.

Instead, as you study Google’s search engine guidelines and gain a better grasp of how to improve your SEO, start the reformation process by assessing the state of your current content. Conduct a review of the existing content on your site by asking these questions:

As you go along, try to identify YMYL pages. Remember, those are the pages that contain high value for readers — and which consequently tend to be graded on a higher curve. Make a list of these and check in on them from time to time to keep them at peak value.

Don’t leave SEO to chance

SEO is a powerful tool that can make or break your online content. It’s not the kind of thing that you want to leave to chance. It’s also hard to overcome by reacting to poor SEO after the fact.

Instead, take control of your SEO by using the suggestions above. Start by familiarizing yourself with Google’s guidelines. Then create a sound strategy to guide each new piece of content. Finally, review your existing site (especially any YMYL pages) to make sure you’re offering value with both past and future content.

If you can stay proactive with your SEO, you can turn it into a key element of your marketing strategy.


John Rampton is a top marketing leader and founder of Calendar. Find John on Twitter @johnrampton.

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The post SEO doesn’t have to be scary: shift from a reactive to proactive strategy appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Are the days of pure organic growth over for apps

30-second summary:

  • Has it become nearly impossible to cut through the noise of six million apps in app stores?
  • For app marketing to be effective, it has to take into consideration the whole ecosystem that affects your app’s marketing performance
  • Whether it is app store optimization (ASO) or combining organic and paid user acquisition, marketers need to look at data holistically and ask the right questions when analyzing app performance
  • A successful app marketing strategy understands the correlation between ASO and paid user acquisition efforts
  • You need to understand how your paid funnel impacts organic growth and vice versa

Whether you like it or not, apps have become a day-to-day standard for businesses and consumers. There is an app for everything, whether it is shopping, banking, travel, or gaming.  In fact, a recent survey has found that 88 percent of mobile time is spent within apps.

According to Statista’s data from Q2 of 2022, there are more than six million apps across Google Playstore, Apple app store, and Amazon store.

App data Q2 2022 - Number of apps across Google, Apple, and Amazon stores.

Source: Statista

That’s why marketing your app properly has never been more important and has become an integral part of a business’s marketing strategy. But for it to be effective, app marketing has to take into consideration the whole ecosystem that affects your app’s marketing performance. Whether it is app store optimization (ASO) or combining organic and paid user acquisition (for example, via Google App Campaigns and Apple Search Ads), marketers need to look at data holistically and ask the right questions when analyzing an app’s performance.

Here I will share some of the knowledge I have gained and tricks of the trade I have learned over the past 10 years in the marketing field.

Organic growth on its own won’t take you far

While a few years ago ASO may have been the most important part of your app marketing strategy, to stay competitive in the busy app marketing landscape, you need to power up your User Acquisition (UA) strategy. This does not mean that ASO is no longer important – it sure is – but it has to be combined with your paid user acquisition strategy for an app’s sustainable growth. Both organic and paid UA has the main goal to drive quality conversions while maintaining a low cost per conversion.

To start with, you need a solid ASO foundation to maintain a stream of high-quality users across channels. It is essential as the user will ultimately land in your app store listing. You are literally wasting your money if you haven’t invested time in ASO and optimizing your store listing.

Paid user acquisition can lead to more organic app installs. Ads will bring new attention to your app store listing. The more installs your app generates, the higher your app will be ranked in the app stores. As a result, it increases visibility across search results and browse sections. Due to increased visibility, more and more users will land in your organic store listing and download your app. Hence the growth loop continues!

A successful strategy is about understanding the correlation between ASO and paid user acquisition efforts. You need to understand how your paid funnel impacts organic growth and vice versa. At GAMEE, we have used App Radar’s all-in-one platform which has helped our team work together within one system and understand, as well as maximize, the impact of organic and paid user acquisition for both Google and Apple app stores.

Analyzing app performance

After putting a lot of effort into optimizing your UA, don’t just sit back and hope to see perfect results. Throughout the campaign, you should be analyzing your app’s performance and asking the right questions. You’d probably like to know how much growth your ASO efforts brought. Or was it your paid UA traffic that led to an increase or drop? It can be challenging to answer all these questions, especially considering many factors that can play a significant role. As an example, let’s look at a couple of scenarios.

Scenario one: A drop in app installs

Seeing a drop in installs? It might be concerning at first sight. However, the good news is that there is most probably an explanation for every decrease in installs. And for every problem, there is also a solution.

One crucial impact factor you need to consider is paid user acquisition efforts. When you notice a decrease in downloads, you should first check whether you had ads running during that specific time. Ads can bring a significant amount of traffic to your app, and once you stop or reduce them, this might have a substantial effect on your results. Check the correlation between organic and paid conversions, and then analyze how your paid conversions impact your total growth and understand whether an increase in installs might be due to reduced activity via paid channels.

What should you do now?

First, try to get a better picture of the situation by looking at the last 30 or 90 days timeframe and understanding how significant the impact was. If pausing, for example, your Google App Campaigns greatly decreased your installs, you should consider re-activating the ads.

Scenario two: An increase in app installs

This is the result we are all aiming for. Ideally, you’d want this to continue throughout and beyond your marketing campaign. But for that, you need to know what was impacting the increase. Transferring and attributing success from one place to another can be tricky if you do not know where the success is coming from.

Your best bet would be to look at the conversion breakdown to help you find the answer. Is it Google Ads, Apple Search Ads, another paid channel, or ASO? If you run a campaign via a paid channel at the same time as the installs increased then it is most likely that that was what influenced your overall app growth. It is worth also evaluating which ad platform is the most efficient. Do you get a better cost per conversion with a paid channel? To get an idea of whether your app is performing better or worse, you may want to compare the figures with previous campaigns – How did your impressions, conversions, and costs perform compared to the previous period? Taking all of this into account will help you determine whether you should change your focus or make tweaks to your campaign.

Three takeaways from GAMEE’s experience

At GAMEE we have learned that there are three elements every app marketer should never stop working on:

ASO

It is the end-point to all of your app activities. Every dollar and hour invested elsewhere can be multiplied by a good ASO strategy and approach. This is where our use of App Radar’s platform was extremely valuable in maximizing our campaigns.

Testing

Use custom app store listings (where possible), various combinations of paid ad networks, and app store A/B tests to get the best results.

Prioritizing

Pick the audience, markets, regions, and/or demographics you need to win and focus your ASO and paid channels on them.

While analyzing the impact of paid and organic user acquisition is no easy task, the one thing you don’t want to do is put all your eggs in one basket. You can’t rely on just organic UA or just paid UA. For a successful app marketing strategy, both areas have to work in tandem. Your campaign should also allow room for testing. This enables you to tweak and pivot strategy as you go, and tailor it for your target audience. Trust me, if properly managed your app will soon be reaping your strategy’s benefits.


Jan Gemrich is Chief Marketing Officer at GAMEE, a high-engagement play-to-earn gaming platform, that attracts over 30 million users. GAMEE is part of Animoca brands which is a leading blockchain gaming company.  Jan previously worked for 9+ years at Google, based out of Prague, London, and Toronto, where he was responsible for user growth (Google Pay, Android, Search) and the launch of new products (Pixel, Stadia, etc).

Subscribe to the Search Engine Watch newsletter for insights on SEO, the search landscape, search marketing, digital marketing, leadership, podcasts, and more.

Join the conversation with us on LinkedIn and Twitter.

The post Are the days of pure organic growth over for apps? appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Social Media dominates the way we communicate in the 21st Century.  Here are some social media management tips that can help nonprofits maximise their efficacy using this tool.

Social Media for Nonprofits

As a nonprofit, you know that social media is a powerful tool to reach new donors and volunteers, engage current supporters, and promote your cause.  But with so many platforms and options, it can be hard to know where to start—or how to make the most of your time and resources.


Here are some tips for using social media effectively as a nonprofit:


1. Define your goals.


Before creating content or posting randomly, take some time to think about what you want to achieve with your social media presence.  

  • Do you want to raise awareness of your cause?  

  • Increase engagement from your current supporters?

  • Attract new donors or volunteers?  

Once you know what your goals are, you can create a strategy for achieving them.

2.  Use the right platform for your audience.

Not all social media platforms are created equal.  Some sites may work better for specific audiences or purposes than others.  For example, if you’re trying to reach young adults, Snapchat or Instagram might be more effective than Facebook or Twitter.  If you want to share long-form content like blog posts or infographics,  LinkedIn could be a better option than Instagram.  Consider who your target audience is and where they are most likely to spend their time online before choosing which platforms to use.

3. Create compelling content.

Once you know which platforms you’re going to use, it’s time to start creating content for

Professionals or Volunteers?



There are a lot of different ways to manage social media for nonprofits.  It can be done by staff, volunteers, or even interns.  But what’s the best way to do it?


There are pros and cons to each option.  Staff members are usually more invested in the organisation and its mission, making them more likely to create quality content.  They also have more time to devote to social media management.


Volunteers may be less invested in the organisation, but they can often bring fresh perspectives and ideas.  They may also be more likely to have other commitments that make it difficult to devote much time to social media management.


Interns are usually students or recent graduates interested in learning about social media management.  They may not have much experience, but they’re often willing to do extra work to learn.


So which is best?  There’s no easy answer.  It depends on the organisation, its goals, and its resources.


Rules of Engagement


Nonprofits need to establish clear rules of engagement for social media use.  Here are a few tips:


1.  Define what types of content are appropriate to share on social media and ensure all staff members are aware of these guidelines.

2.  Encourage open communication and dialogue among staff members about social media use.

3.  Keep an updated list of which social media platforms your nonprofit uses, and be sure to have a plan for how each will be used.

4.  Make sure all social media posts are respectful and professional.

5.  Take advantage of social media tools like analytics to track your nonprofit’s reach and engagement.


How to Find and Use the Right Tools



Many social media management tools are available to nonprofits, each with its own features.  The key is to find the right tool for your organisation's needs.


One way to narrow your options is to consider which platforms you need to manage.  For example, if you’re only active on Twitter, you may not need a tool that supports Facebook and Instagram.


Once you’ve determined which platforms you need to manage, take a look at the features offered by each tool.  Some standard features include scheduling posts, team collaboration, analytics, and content curation.


Once you’ve found a few options that meet your needs, it’s time to take them for a test drive.  The best way to do this is to sign up for free trials (if available) and see how easy they are to use.  You should also ask other team members to try out the tools and give feedback.


Once you’ve found the right social media management tool for your nonprofit, put it to good use!  Use it to schedule posts ahead of time, collaborate with team members, track your analytics, and curate relevant content.

Content Ideas for Your Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram Feeds

-Share updates about your organisation’s work, events, and campaigns

-Showcase impactful photos and videos

-Spotlight stories of the people your nonprofit helps

-Engage followers in meaningful conversation

-Promote other content that aligns with your mission

Streamlining Your Efforts with Scheduling Tools


As a nonprofit, your time and resources are stretched thin.  You need to make the most of every minute and every dollar.  That’s why it’s crucial to use scheduling tools to save time on social media management.


Many scheduling tools are available, each with its own set of features.  Do some research to find the tool that best fits your needs.  Some popular options include Hootsuite, CoSchedule, and Buffer.


Once you’ve selected a scheduling tool, learn how to use it effectively.  Experiment with different posting times and frequencies to see what works best for your organisation.  And don’t forget to measure your results to continue improving your social media strategy over time.


When to Share Your Content?

Your nonprofit should have a social media strategy to make the most of your content and ensure your message reaches your target audience.  But what do you do with all that content once it’s created?  How do you know when to share it, and on which platforms?


Here are a few tips to help you get the most out of your social media content:


1.  Share timely content.  If you have something timely or newsworthy to share, don’t wait!  Post it as soon as possible so your followers can be among the first to know.


2.  Share relevant content.  Make sure that what you share is relevant to your audience and aligned with your organisation’s mission.  Otherwise, you risk losing followers who tune out irrelevant content.


3.  Share diverse content.  Don’t just share links to your website or blog - mix things up and share other interesting articles, photos, videos, etc., that will keep your followers engaged.


4.  Share engaging content.  No one wants to read a boring article or see a dull photo - make sure that what you’re sharing is visually appealing and/or interesting enough to hold people’s attention.


5.  Plan ahead.  If you know you have a busy week, take some time beforehand to schedule your social media posts so that you don’t have to worry about it during the week.  This will help ensure that your content is still getting shared even when you


How to Manage Your Time Effectively?

As a nonprofit organisation, you are likely always on the go and trying to accomplish many tasks simultaneously.  While social media can be a great way to connect with your supporters and promote your cause, it can also be a time-sink if you’re not careful.  That’s why learning how to manage your time effectively when using social media is essential.


Here are some tips:


-Schedule regular times for checking and responding to social media messages.  Once or twice a day should suffice.


-Use a tool like Hootsuite or Buffer to help you schedule and post content in advance.  This way, you can set aside time each week to create content and then have it automatically go out at the best times throughout the week.


-When you do sit down to check social media, avoid getting pulled down the rabbit hole of reading every single post and article shared.  Stick to catching up with friends and followers, and leave the rest for another time.


Importance of having Google My Business


As a nonprofit organisation, it is essential to have a solid online presence to reach your target audience.  One way to do this is by creating and claiming a Google My Business (GMB) listing.  GMB is a free platform offered by Google that allows businesses and organisations to manage their online information, such as their hours of operation, contact information, and location.  By claiming and optimising your GMB listing, you can ensure that potential supporters see your nonprofit.


Moreover, GMB provides nonprofits valuable insights into how people find and interact with their businesses online.  This data can be used to improve your online marketing efforts further.  For example, if you see that most people are searching for your organisation on Google Maps, you may want to invest more time and resources into optimising your Maps listing.


Overall, a GMB listing is essential to managing your nonprofit’s online presence.  It’s a free and easy way to help you reach more supporters and better understand how they interact with your organisation online.

Conclusion


There you have it — social media management tips for nonprofits.  By following these tips, you can make the most of your nonprofit’s social media presence and connect with your target audience more meaningfully.  Do you have any other tips to add?  Share them with us in the comments below!


Author: Sanjay R (www.yuvarocks.com)

How to manage SEO clients' expectations

30-second summary:

  • SEO is expensive, yet offers no tangible guarantees in terms of rankings or traffic. No wonder so many business owners are confused
  • All SEO clients are different. It is important to understand their prior experience in SEO before developing your relationship management strategy with each of them.
  • Getting to know a new lead and their decision-makers will help you position your service in a more useful and easy-to-understand way
  • Educating clients is often necessary for them to know what to expect from an SEO service

SEO is an often misunderstood industry. I’ve seen quite a few business owners who assume that an SEO consultant has some sort of magic button that can boost the site’s organic search visibility within a certain amount of time.

While a decade ago that may have been the case, the SEO industry has evolved far beyond manipulative tactics that (to be quite frank) used to work like a charm in the past.

Today’s SEO is about making websites better, on all possible levels, from content value to usability. It’s doing everything better and faster. There’s no single element that needs to be improved that is sure to boost organic positions. It’s working on a website as a whole consistently to hopefully see gradual growth.

To make things worse, most SEO clients come with a long history of SEO work that has been performed on their site. And that work may have resulted in gradual loss of rankings and organic search visibility. Figuring those out is important because those red flags can prevent those businesses from seeing any progress even if they keep investing into the long-term SEO strategy.

So how to properly manage your SEO clients’ expectations without scaring them off?

Understand your SEO client

It may sound extremely cynical but the best SEO client is the one who has already been burnt by overpromising and under-delivering of those promises. These clients come with a better understanding of why SEO results cannot be guaranteed and why they need to invest into longer-term results.

But those clients have other challenges to fight. Their sites are often penalized or filtered and their budgets are often suffering from months of poor organic traffic. These businesses are often willing to agree to anything that would allow them to fall back into Google’s graces but it is tough for them to erase years of link building efforts and start from scratch.

The other type of an SEO client is a restless one. These businesses may have used other SEO agencies in the past, saw no results and are quite impatient by this point. They are weary of making yet another long-term investment because they feel they have invested enough by this point. 

You need to carefully investigate what has been done for these sites so far and explain why it didn’t work and what you are going to do differently, while still insisting on why you cannot guarantee any results in any definitive timeframe.

Finally, there are clueless clients who don’t care what you do but need to know when they are going to rank within top 5 for their important keywords. These clients require a full-scale education, scary examples of businesses losing all their rankings within a day and case studies showing gradual growth of organic visibility that starts with long-tail strategy, link building research and building a tailored outreach strategy.

Investigate your decision-maker unit (DMU) carefully

In many cases, even when it comes to small businesses, there will be more than one person deciding whether you or your agency is someone they will work with.

In the B2B world, a DMU is a decision making unit, in other words it is a group of people which will determine whether a business will work with you. This group may consist of the company owner or CEO, a marketing manager, head of the dev team, etc.

Lots of businesses have internal SEO teams that need outside help. This SEO team will most likely be part of that company’s DMU. Avoid criticizing their work to the management. Don’t make them feel like your agency can replace the internal team.

Instead, find out what that team is doing and how you can complement their work. 

From experience, most in-house SEO teams will gladly outsource things like link prospecting, outreach and, more recently, Core Web Vitals optimization (the latter is too new, so not many SEOs are keeping up). On-going tasks like competitor tracking, keyword gap analysis, and backlink profile monitoring are often missing from many in-house SEO strategies.

You need to know those gaps to position your service better.

The best approach is to identify your DMU and how exactly your agency can help at the lead generation form. Make sure your service request form includes questions like:

  • Do you have an in-house SEO team or person?
  • Have you used SEO services before?
  • Do you have any concerns we need to be aware of?

Have a report sample ready

Develop a detailed SEO report sample to show prospective clients to ensure they know what to expect:

  • Month one report
  • Sample roadmap of further work
  • Monthly reports detailing projects completed or underway, etc.

Based on different decision-making units you have come so far and the different services you provide, those reports may vary.

Be clear and transparent

SEO is an ongoing and never-ending process. The only way to build a long-term customer base is to build trust even prior to onboarding them. And nothing works better than being honest and transparent.

It is better to lose a demanding client than to face the consequences of improperly managed expectations.

On your onboarding call, spend some time discussing who maintains their website, how their blog is managed, what it takes to push updates live, who is creating, editing and approving content before it goes live, and whether the site is powered by an existing platform or is it custom-built.

Make it clear that you will need access to their data, including analytics and Search Console accounts.

Understanding these details will help you estimate the turnaround of your SEO recommendations to be implemented. If you foresee any slow-downs (for example, every update needs a tedious approval process or developers are the only people who can update the site and these teams tend to be busy and slow), make it clear that these roadblocks can slow down the process and discuss ways to overcome them.

Don’t forget to explain the set-up process in much detail. Your agency needs time to research the site and its SEO history in much detail, and that takes time, and that time isn’t free. Many businesses expect active work to start immediately when they sign a contract, so don’t let it come as a surprise that SEO research is part of the setup process. 

Furthermore, on your onboarding call, try to better understand the rest of the company as well. Mention that you will likely need help and input from other teams, like product development and customer support. The ultimate goal of an SEO strategy is to bring in more sales, not just bring in organic traffic, and that’s the whole company’s initiative.

Ask them for more info on their previous digital marketing efforts, including PPC, lead generation, landing page management, and email marketing. The more you know about the company and its current conversion funnels, the better your SEO service will be positioned to compliment those.

Conclusion

Search engine optimization may seem a very mysterious process to business owners who feel like they are throwing money into thin air without being promised anything tangible in return. If you put yourself into those business owners’ shoes, it is actually quite understandable. 

So don’t feel bad when yet another prospective client is demanding some type of guarantee. Be patient but firm. Onboarding SEO clients often requires educating them on why SEO cannot have any guarantees but how it can be very rewarding in the long run.


Ann Smarty is the Founder of Viral Content Bee, Brand and Community manager at Internet Marketing Ninjas. She can be found on Twitter @seosmarty.

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The post How to manage SEO clients’ expectations appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


Ecommerce SEO guide for the 2022 holiday season

30-second summary:

  • Global recession and cost of living crisis will not dampen the gifting spirit and consumer spending
  • For the 2022 holiday season, ecommerce retailers forecast $262 billion in revenue which surpasses the $205 billion benchmark from 2021
  • If you found yourself Googling “ideas to boost ecommerce holiday season revenue” we have answers for you!
  • Our latest guide uncovers the 8 sides of a robust, proven-to-work ecommerce SEO strategy that will help propel your sales

Holiday season brings with it many things. One of them being ecommerce revenue. Despite the global recession and cost of living crisis, the 2022 holiday season will see people spending. Economists at Deloitte forecast ecommerce revenue of around $262 billion which is a 13.5 percent growth.

The question here is, how do you get a share of this $260 billion ecommerce pie? By working on improving your ecommerce SEO.

Holiday ecommerce sales forecast to grow 13.5 percent

Source: Axios

Search engines push 37.5 percent of all traffic to ecommerce sites, and a whopping 95 percent of these searchers stick to the first SERP. Having an early enough start to your ecommerce search strategy helps you earn visibility in top SERPs, measure effectiveness, test, and scale practices as the peak season approaches.

Ecommerce SEO can help your store rank higher and offer a better user experience by making sure your website aligns with search engine ranking factors.

However, Google, the most used search engine, updates its ranking factors several times a year according to its users’ changing behavior. So, you need to upgrade your marketing toolkit with the latest SEO techniques before the holiday season.

In this article, you’ll find some of the latest and proven-to-work ecommerce SEO strategies to hopefully point you in the right direction as you prepare to dip your hands into the holiday season. 

Let’s dive right in!

The eight layers of a powerful ecommerce SEO strategy

Ranking an ecommerce store is critical to winning those holiday sales. Why? Because people turn to Google whenever they are looking to shop for holiday essentials or presents.

In this situation, an ecommerce website that fails to rank higher may miss out on interacting with holiday shoppers out with their money.

So, here are some key ecommerce SEO techniques to help you to help your website rank higher and possibly interact with holiday shoppers:

1. Focus on keyword research

Holiday shopping begins with keywords. People type in search phrases when they are looking to buy something. And that’s where your opportunity to rank lies. 

44 percent of people start their online shopping journey with a Google search. Keyword research might help you find words to help Google and other search engines connect these shoppers with your web page.

ecommerce keyword research differs slightly from regular keyword research. In this case, your focus is to identify and include search phrases with commercial or transactional intent.

There could be keywords that appear commercial but could have an informational intent and hence may prove detrimental to your SEO.

The phrase “best winter shoes for women US” may seem like a transactional keyword. But as it appears from the top search result, it has a dominant informational intent. 

Let’s talk about finding these keywords.

Your keyword research should start with brainstorming keyword ideas. Make a list of all the products you sell, and then jump in your customer’s shoes to see how they would search for what you are selling.

Say that you have a shoe store and sell running and other types of shoes. Your customers may search for your product with keywords like “running shoes” or “buy best running shoes.”

Think of all such keywords.

Backlinko also recommends diving into amazon and typing these root words into the search bar to find more keyword ideas.

amazon keywords - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

All of the phrases in the image above can be used as root keywords for shoe store SEO. 

You can also check out your competitor’s websites to uncover the keywords that they are ranking for.

check competitor websites to find keywords for your 2022 holiday season ecommerce strategy

From the image above, we can see that “Buy best winter shoes for women” might be a good alternative to the “best winter shoes for women” keyphrase. 

Also, scroll to the end of the SERPs to check out the related searches section for more keyword ideas.

refer the related keywords to create a keyword list - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

Make a list of keywords during this brainstorming session. 

Make sure to corroborate the search intent before shortlisting a keyword. Sometimes a keyword may appear to have commercial intent, but in reality, it may be informational.

Finally, run your keyword ideas through a keyword research tool like Google Adwords to determine the search volume and competition.

Low search volume and high-competition keywords are usually recommended. But when trying to rank an ecommerce store, you might benefit from long-tail keywords with low search volume and competition. But these keywords are touted to convert better and may help your website rank sooner.

2. Focus on content

Google now prioritizes websites with descriptive and valuable content. You cannot achieve results with your e-commerce SEO campaign while ignoring content.

Find out what’s trending in the holiday season. What are people talking about? And then create content around topics or products that are trending. 

Focus on optimizing all the content present on your website, along with creating new, informational, and valuable content.

Optimize your product descriptions with relevant keywords. Avoid keyword stuffing, though. Instead, create product descriptions that give users all the information they may need before buying a product.

This may include product details and reviews.

focus on the content in product details and reviews - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

Besides product pages, consider creating a separate blog to post top-of-the-funnel content like blogs, case studies, product reviews, etc. Not only will this enrich your website’s content, it may also help rank your site quicker, drive more web traffic, and generate better leads.

Long-form content, especially blogs, gets around 77% more backlinks than short-form content. Therefore, pumping out informative, unique articles may also help build your backlink profile.

Since we have touched on the topic of backlinks…

3. Yes, backlinks are still relevant

Many people believe backlinks have gone down the hierarchy of ranking factors. That’s not true, though.

Backlinks are as important as ever. When determining your website’s authority, Google relies on the number, quality, and relevance of your backlinks. So, don’t slack off on acquiring links from other relevant sites on the internet.

Gaining backlinks for an ecommerce store may not be as straightforward as building some random blog’s backlink profile.

There are many bloggers that create seasonal content and it could be an opportunity in your ecommerce SEO strategy to get backlinks on holiday season offers and discount pages. Consider reaching out to them and asking them if they could write a holiday season piece on your product and link back to your site, or offer to write a guest post for them to earn a backlink.

Additionally, there are many product review websites. You can reach out to them, send your product, and ask them to write a review of the product and link back to the product’s page on your website.

connect with product review websites

Brand mentions like these may help uplift your SEO scores since 52 percent of marketers believe brand mentions impact organic rankings.

4. Work on improving website user experience (UX)

Website user experience is an important ranking factor. Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.

There are various ways you can improve your website’s user experience. The first one is through site structure.

Your website needs to be easy to navigate for the users and crawl for the search engines. And for that, you will have to make sure all your web pages are arranged so that every page within the website is accessible through three or fewer clicks. This is what backlinko calls the golden rule of website structure.

Here’s a representation of what a good website structure may look like:

what a good ecommerce website structure looks like

Source 

And here’s an example:

page footer site links should be clear to the user - ecommerce seo for 2022 holiday season

Once you have improved the site structure, look at the URLs of the web pages you’ve just sorted. Your website URL should tell the user what the page is about with a short but descriptive keyword.

Here’s an example of what good URLs may look like:

shoesforyou.com/athletic/runningshoes

shoesforyou.com/leisure/sneakers

shoesforyou.com/formal

Furthermore, 73 percent of web designers believe a non-responsive web design is one of the top reasons visitors leave a website. I know these are hard words but I should say all your ecommerce SEO efforts could be wasted, if your e-commerce store is not mobile-friendly and responsive web design happens to be a critical ranking factor. So make sure your website is mobile optimized so the design can adjust according to the screen it appears on.

An example of responsive web design:

responsive web design

Source

Another factor that shapes your website’s user experience is its security. Google, too, prioritizes website security and works to make sure the websites it drives its users to are secure.

Make sure you have a TLS certificate, so “HTTPS” and a little lock appear in the URL bar for the users to know your website is safe.

TLS certificate for HTTPS - site security

5. Page load speed

Page load speed is a part of the website’s user experience. But because it is so important, especially for an ecommerce store, it deserves its own space. 

A drop in page load speed decreases the conversion rates, with almost 75 percent of people tending to change their mind during the checkout process if the website is too slow or taking time to load during checkout.

Since the holiday season usually adds to the website load, your website can slow down. Be proactive and make sure you have enough website resources to handle the holiday rush. 

Google counts a page’s load speed as an important ranking factor and so make sure to remove unnecessary ad blockers, scripts, or optimize everything that can drag your website down in terms of speed.

6. On-page optimization

On-page optimization includes fine-tuning the relatively smaller website elements contained within the web page.

36 percent of SEO experts believe the title tag is the most important SEO element. Therefore, optimize your title tag so it is descriptive, short, and keyword-optimized.

You can use Moz’s Title Tag checker to see how your title would look on the SERP and optimize it accordingly.

title tag optimization for your ecommerce seo strategy - holiday season 2022

Meta descriptions are critical as well. While they do not influence SEO directly, meta descriptions play a vital role in shaping your CTR. So, take the time to write crips and compelling descriptions.

Also, make sure to include keyword-optimized H2s and H3s wherever possible. And don’t forget to optimize the images on every web page.

7. Make good use of schema markup

Schema Markup is a set of codes you can embed in your web page’s HTML to help Google understand the page. It also enables the search engine to return more informative and descriptive results, otherwise known as snippets.

This is particularly important for an ecommerce site because users want to ensure the website they click on contains what they are looking for. And optimized snippets give them that and hence contribute to improved CTRs.

While Google decides what it wants to display in the snippets section, including what you want to be displayed as a snippet through Schema may increase the chances of Google going with what you have chosen.

user schema markup

8. Optimizing ecommerce stores for RankBrain

RankBrain is one of Google’s most historical updates and is now among the top three ranking factors. This algorithm helps Google rank sites that are contextually relevant to the search queries.

Therefore, prioritize understanding your audience and creating the content THEY need alongside working on the technical aspects of e-commerce SEO.

Additionally, work on increasing your website’s engagement rates since Backlinko believes dwell time is an important ranking factor with RankBrain. And as mentioned above, look for any authoritative backlinking opportunity you get and capitalize on it.

Final words

Finding visibility in the search engine space during the holiday season is critical to help drive business revenue. However, winning with ecommerce SEO is tough but not impossible. You might compete with big sharks like Amazon, who dominate the first page. Therefore, you may have to be smart about your strategies.

Building a content-first SEO strategy can help here as these pages may rank more easily and help channel traffic to product pages that may struggle to rank when Amazon reigns over the SERPs.

So, focus on creating optimized, informative, and user-focused content. Work on the technical aspects of SEO, and continue tracking the latest search engine updates to adapt your SEO tool kit accordingly.


Atul Jindal is a web design and marketing specialist. He has worked on website/app optimization for SEO with a core focus on conversion optimization. He creates web experiences that bring conversations and transform web traffic into paying customers or leads.

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The post Ecommerce SEO guide for the 2022 holiday season appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


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