Abby Reimer – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Tue, 24 Nov 2020 16:01:40 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.6.2 10 ways you can support women in SEO /10-ways-you-can-support-women-in-seo-344064 Tue, 24 Nov 2020 15:32:42 +0000 /?p=344064 Female-identifying search marketers share their personal experiences and tips to support women in the SEO industry.

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The SEO industry holds opportunities galore to gain leadership skills, work with top companies, and earn a good salary.

However, a recent study by Nicole DeLeon shows that in 2020, 70% of SEOs identify as male. We can do better than that. 

By supporting and encouraging women, we can work to increase women’s representation in this industry. But often, the question is, “Where do I start?” 

Great question. I asked a variety of female-identifying search marketers – from industry veterans to recent grads – to offer their tips on how we can all better support women in SEO. Here’s what we suggest:

1. Provide mentorship

To mentor simply means to advise or train. A common misconception is that mentorship has to be a structured relationship, or a huge time commitment. But mentorship can actually be as simple as making yourself available to offer advice.

Receiving personalized guidance can give women the confidence and information they need to achieve their career goals. Whether you can give an hour a week or 30 minutes a quarter, consider becoming a mentor to help women and BIPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color) grow as marketers.

Jackie Chu SEO Lead, Intelligence at Uber 

“Try to start small with a weekly 30 minute meeting for 2-3 months. In my experience making the commitment time bound might make it easier to sign up for. In addition to it being the right thing to do, I also think mentoring is great karma points. I’m a big believer in karma and I think you get what you put out in the world, so I try to put goodness out there!”

Chima Mmeje, SEO Copywriter and Content Strategist at Zenith SEO Copywriting Service

“When I started out in SEO, I felt isolated because I didn’t know other SEOs in the international community who looked like me or faced the unique challenges of being Black, Female and African.

I had to figure out a lot of stuff on my own, which meant that growing, upskilling and scaling took more time than if I had someone to guide me.

It would be awesome if we had communities like Women In Tech SEO, but for African SEOs where we could enjoy support and upskill more quickly than if we were playing solo.

I also think there should be more mentorships to encourage black women to embrace SEO. I have a similar program where copywriters from developed countries offer copy feedback and mentorship to copywriters from developing countries. A program like this in SEO could be the game changer that bridges the gap and helps more women gain the needed visibility and shatter glass ceilings only touched by male SEOs.”

Malenie Ven, Digital Marketing Specialist

“As a recent graduate, I’ve found the field of digital to be more conquerable because of my serendipitous encounters with professional women who were so enthusiastic to share their experience and help me along in mine.

Mentors are everything. It can be direct as an actual mentorship or having a one-time conversation on LinkedIn – both have helped me greatly. For professional women to open their doors to those just starting, it means tremendous support, and it also means taking an industry as vast as this one and creating communication and community out of it, two things I believe are very important in the world of digital.”

2. Offer a flexible work environment

When workplaces offer flexibility in hours and location, they help women create a better work-life balance. This can also allow more women to return to work and remain productive after starting a family, which can keep them on track for salary increases and promotions. At the same time, companies benefit from holding onto their talent and reducing turnover.

Nicole DeLeon, Founder and Lead Strategist at North Star Inbound

“Statistics across industries show that when push comes to shove, women breadwinners still do more housework and childcare than men. And the pandemic has only exacerbated this disparity. While employers can’t change what happens at home, they can make it easier for women to meet more of their responsibilities by allowing for a less structured work environment. Many women are willing to put in hours before their kids wake up or after they are in bed. Let them.” 

3. Prioritize diversity in speaker line-ups

When we hear from the same voices, we miss out on an incredible opportunity to learn. Make diversity in your speaker line-ups and keynotes a top priority. And instead of viewing it as a box to check, invest time into connecting with potential speakers with different experiences and points of view, and not just by title or reputation.

Areej AbuAli, Founder of Women in Tech SEO

If you’re in charge of organizing a speaker line-up, then please offer opportunities for new and diverse speakers. 

If you’re a speaker yourself and used to having the spotlight, consider recommending an underrepresented person rather than taking the opportunity for yourself.

If you’re keen to speak yourself then before committing to being a part of an event, always ask what the speaker line-up is and provide recommendations if it doesn’t feel diverse enough.”

4. Build up women’s confidence

Imposter syndrome is oh so real, with an estimated 70% of individuals experiencing the phenomenon at least once in their career. This feeling of inadequacy meets its match when we foster confidence in our peers’ work and abilities.

Izzi Smith, Technical SEO Analyst at Ryte

“How can you help? If you’re lucky enough to have achieved this fuzzy feeling of confidence, I would really encourage you to do all you can to offer a helping hand to those female-identifying SEOs who struggle with this. 

Start by identifying your strong points and use that for good (like a wonderful, nerdy superhero). Have some experience talking at conferences? Offer support for those willing to give it a try by providing test-runs or presentation feedback. Consider yourself technically savvy? Be a sparring partner for someone who is unsure of their assumptions and audits. Enjoy making people smile? Give some praise to those around you who have shared knowledge and done something that was trying to help their fellow SEOs. 

Even a quick 30 minute – 1 hour break a week to do these things can make such a positive impact. If you keep working to empower those around you, it not only helps make this community more welcoming and accessible, but it means we have even more smart minds contributing to creative ideas and strategies that help us tackle SEO challenges in better ways.”

Camille Arsenault, Undergraduate Senior at the University of Minnesota

“Being the “outsider” can be intimidating; even asking a question can make me insecure at times because I don’t want to seem like I don’t know what I’m doing. I think that in order to close the gender gap in this field, women can be supported by developing more confidence. They have just as much of a right to be there as men, but I think that self-doubt can be a roadblock at times.”

5. Work with different communication styles

There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to communicating. Taking time to learn each team member’s communication style and preferences can offer the foundation they need to succeed.

Jessica Girardi, Strategist at Uproer

“Ask your employees what their natural communication style is, and find a way to work with that. As an immigrant, there are many things I used to say or ways I used to communicate in Australia that just don’t work in the United States. My style of communication is relaxed, but to the point – I don’t mince words, but I like to talk seriously over coffee.

In the US, I’ve always felt the need to couch my words, be a little nicer, and to always have serious conversations in the conference room. Having the room to communicate in a style that works for me – at least internally – makes it easier for me to get my work done and increases the enjoyment I get out of my work. Communication is key.”

6. Advocate for gender and pay equality when hiring

Don’t accept the outdated adage, “There just aren’t as many women candidates.”

Consider if there are any barriers for women in your hiring process. For instance, say the main promotion method for your job posting is sharing with your network, but your network is composed mostly of men.

Or, consider if your job description contains exclusive or masculine language like “rockstar,” “expert” or “assertive.” Overly-masculine words suggest an overly-masculine culture, which can be uninviting to women as well as minority groups.

There are many barriers that contribute to a candidate pool mostly void of women. By becoming aware of the often unconscious biases that create these roadblocks, we can start to break down that outdated assumption for good.

Niki Mosier, Head of SEO at Two Octobers

“I think the first step in supporting female-identifying professionals in the search industry is to continue to bring awareness that there are inconsistencies in important areas like pay and hiring of women. Unfortunately this is common in many industries.

After awareness is brought to the issue, I think it’s really important for prominent people and organizations (both in-house and agencies) to speak out in support of equal pay and the importance of gender equality in hiring for SEO roles. Having supportive communities like Women in Tech SEO (huge props to Areej AbuAli) is also so important for giving women a safe space to talk about the struggles they are having and get advice from other women.”

7. Make diversity initiatives a regular part of your business

Hiring women and equal pay is a great step, but it certainly shouldn’t stop there. Once women are hired, invest resources in them to help them continue to grow. 

In short, don’t let diversity be a one-time conversation. When it’s an ongoing consideration in all business initiatives, from holiday celebrations to leadership positions, you offer real support.

Daisy ree-Quaker, SEO Content Marketer

“If you have a platform, amplify, and support diverse professionals. If you run a team or company, increase representation with who you hire, mentor, or promote. If you run an event, solicit a diverse panel of speakers. Make diversity initiatives a part of regular business, not just de rigueur.”

8. Speak to the new generation of marketers 

It’s so important to introduce female-identifying professionals to this field. If universities don’t cover it in their curriculum, that leaves a gap of women who may not know enough about SEO to consider it as a career.

Pursue thought leadership opportunities like speaking for universities or a local organization that supports students and/or recent graduates. By speaking about the topic and chatting one-on-one with the new generation of marketers, we create a space for them to get interested in the field and seek to learn more. 

9. Publicly support women on social media

The more we see and can relate to those who have success, the more confidence we have to pursue those same roles. By increasing the reach of women across social media, we show the rest of the world our place at the SEO table, so to speak. Some easy ways to do this?

  • Like and share posts
  • Comment thoughtful remarks
  • Follow and connect with women and BIPOC across platforms
  • Let women know you like their content offline as well – it’s encouraging when someone brings the compliments off social and says, “Hey, I like your content.”

While we’re on the topic: Please be KIND on social. If you disagree with someone else’s opinion and feel you must speak up, aim to have a respectful and open-minded discussion that leads with questions rather than opinions.

And consider having these conversations privately; it can be intimidating for new creators to see criticism commented across many posts.

10. Listen

This final tip goes beyond SEO. If you haven’t come up against this firsthand, imagine you experienced an injustice at work, and you were ignored. That could tarnish your view of your workplace – and the industry as a whole – forever.

If an issue is raised by a woman or person of color, please don’t shrug it off. Listen, and together we can create an industry that honors and respects every person.

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Feedback optimization: A user-first approach to SEO /feedback-optimization-a-user-first-approach-to-seo-338414 Thu, 30 Jul 2020 12:55:20 +0000 /?p=338414 Feedback optimization is the process of using readers’ comments to improve your content. See how this strategy can improve SEO performance while creating better search results for your audience.

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In my last post, I shared how UGC (User Generated Content) helped my nonprofit client create authoritative articles that 1.) saved both of us loads of time and 2.) crushed it in search and social. (Update: that same client’s organic blog traffic is now up +776% Y/Y).

But the wins don’t stop there. I discovered that users’ comments on the posts themselves not only provide great supplemental content that may help the page rank, but also offer amazing insight into how to further optimize the content.

I call this “Feedback Optimization” – the process of using readers’ comments to improve a piece of content for relevancy and user intent. 

Doing this improved a top query’s click-through-rate (CTR) by +96% P/P with no change in ranking position. Intrigued? Here’s how it works:

Feedback optimization process

1. At the end of your article, include a call-to-action (CTA) to comment. A clear next step can encourage more engagement on your site. Simply ask users to leave their thoughts and ideas on the piece. 

Here’s an example of a comment CTA: “We’d like to hear it from you: what are some of the best ideas you have around this topic? Leave a comment below!”

2. Promote the article on social and email. Cross-channel promotion can spark a burst of comments from users who are already engaged with your brand. 

3. Analyze the comments, both on the article itself and on social. Once your piece has gathered a few comments, read through them and take notes of what you find. Pay special attention to ideas that multiple users share. 

And remember: it’s best to remain true to your business’s values and perspective. A user who simply disagrees with your stance may not provide the most relevant feedback. Focus on consistent, helpful responses rather than singular opinions.

4. Update the article to incorporate readers’ ideas. This can mean adding relevant tips that users share, or updating/removing content that has received negative feedback. The goal is to tailor your content to what your audience truly wants. Then, you can re-promote to get feedback on your improved article!

5. Add Feedback Optimization to your ongoing content strategy. Consider checking the comments on top pieces every 3-6 months, rather than this being a one-off project. Regularly incorporating user feedback can supply new ideas that keep your content fresh (which we know is a search success factor).

Now you may be wondering – will I actually see an SEO benefit from this effort?

The results

I tested this exact process on one of my client’s listicles. I read through the ~100 comments and quickly noticed a pattern: three of the suggestions missed the mark for a handful of commenters.

Fortunately, many of these users also offered ideas on what to replace those items with. We were able to quickly pivot the list items and descriptions to what our audience felt was more helpful. 

Note: Comment analysis may sound time-consuming, but for reference, it took me less than 30 minutes to comb through all the comments and understand what needed to be changed.

After updating the content and submitting to Google Search Console for faster indexing, we saw nearly immediate results. CTR on the best-performing featured snippet increased +96% P/P, from 14.2% to 27.8% with no significant change in ranking.

We also saw a +21% traffic boost to the page, with improvements across most keywords.

It’s interesting to consider: you can own the snippet—the holy grail of ranking positions—but if people don’t like what they see, they may simply move on. 

And even if you don’t own the snippet, user perception still impacts a variety of factors that may affect your page’s performance: backlinks, dwell time and comment sentiment, to name a few.

Short on comments? Try these 3 tips

1. If you don’t receive a lot of comments or social engagement on your own pages, try looking at competitors’ articles for the same keywords. They may have comments on their pages that would be relevant for your own content!

2. It also never hurts to directly ask (if appropriate) a few people you think the article’s topic applies to. Gathering even a few opinions can bring to light obvious ideas you may not have thought of. 

3. Finally, look at your article’s queries in Google Search Console to see if searchers are finding you for topics that you should dive deeper into in the piece. 

For example, one of our SaaS clients has an article about team meetings that started gaining traction for “online” and “conference call” keywords when quarantine began. We updated the language to be more relevant for virtual meetings – applicable not only during the COVID-19 pandemic but also as the working world shifts more and more remote. 

Final thoughts

Beyond the traffic gains, the point of this process is to listen to our audiences and create the best possible content to suit their needs.

I hope these results encourage content creators to prioritize user perception alongside the “search engine opinion.” Asking for feedback and acting on helpful suggestions is one way to create better search results that can truly make a difference. That’s something I think we can all get behind.

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Case Study: How UGC increased organic traffic 228% /case-study-how-ugc-increased-organic-blog-traffic-228-330351 Mon, 09 Mar 2020 17:08:24 +0000 /?p=330351 User-generated content helped a healthcare network nonprofit cut down time spent sourcing unique copy, while engaging their audience and increasing organic traffic by 200+%.

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In the Quality Evaluator Guidelines, Google shares that high-quality informational content is original, accurate, comprehensive and should reflect expert consensus as appropriate. 

The problem is: not all brands have the time, budget or strategy to create this quality of content. Or so they think. 

Using UGC, we helped our nonprofit client publish more than two dozen informational articles and increase their blog’s organic traffic by 200+% in 12 months.  

Read on to see our full process, the results and a few more options for implementing UGC for SEO on your own site. 

Challenges: Lack of strategy + resources

Our client faced two oh-so-common content marketing challenges: a lack of SEO strategy and limited resources for content creation. As a result, their resources section didn’t have a strong organic search presence.

This healthcare support network focused content creation mostly on inspirational stories, which performed well on social but had little impact in search. Their blog was missing informational resources for people affected by medical trials.

Since the organization is a nonprofit, we had to be especially mindful of the resources we allocated to new content creation. The goal was to create high-quality articles without demanding too much of the content team’s already limited time.

Our strategy: Content from users, for users

Instead of competing with sites like Mayo Clinic for competitive medical terms, we focused on building authority for the emotional, spiritual and familial topics that arise during a medical event. CaringBridge refers to this as the “health journey.”

To source content ideas, we analyzed close competitors and held a brainstorm with the content team, then prioritized keywords by relevance and volume.

Once we had our topics, we needed expert input to source ideas from. In this case, we realized that people with firsthand experience are the true experts for this content. Most of the organization’s audience has experienced the effects of a health crisis; they understand better than anyone what is helpful in these difficult situations. 

So we turned to its 311,000 Facebook followers, prompting them for ideas on each topic. We created/updated 28 informational articles, sourcing ideas and including the real comments from our Facebook prompts.

Here’s an example of a prompt we used, and a snippet from the related article:

We concluded articles with a CTA to comment on more ideas, and hundreds of comments cropped up across the posts. Comments – when indexable and moderated – can add more relevant content to the page and boost quality. And with all the new ideas from the comments, we can easily keep content fresh by revamping it with the community’s input. 

Results

This process engaged the audience and minimized the effort needed to create helpful resources. 

The UGC gave us relevant, unique content that earned first page rankings for a handful of our target keywords.

In the last year, the resources section grew from a nearly invisible organic search presence to the fastest-growing organic site section: 

  • 228% Y/Y increase in organic users
  • 79% Y/Y increase in site creations
  • 303% Y/Y increase in Facebook traffic
  • 76% Y/Y increase in email traffic

These results go beyond numbers: hundreds of positive sentiments were expressed by its community on these articles.

“Very helpful listing, I like the quotes. The concept for your site is amazing!”

“These ideas will help me to be able to help my sister. She lives far away so the [gift] package idea will be fun.”

“WOW, these sentiments are spot on… from one who is battling lymphoma. Listening to the patient is so vital as well, it truly is the simple things in life that are the best meds of all!”

More ways to incorporate UGC

Facebook comments aren’t the only place to source content from your user base. Here are a few other UGC ideas:

  • Reviews: A crucial aspect of driving sales, reviews can also add relevant content on-site. If this makes you nervous, Google’s guidelines remind site owners that one negative review won’t hurt: “A single encounter should not be considered negative reputation information.” However, you should still moderate spam or inappropriate reviews, and reply to negative feedback when you can.
  • Comments: Like the page’s main content, high-quality comments can be quite valuable, while low-quality can drag your page down. Ensure you’re moderating responsibly, and that your quality comments are being indexed. 
  • Embed tweets: Prompt your Twitter followers to answer your keyword’s question. You can use their feedback to quickly source content ideas, and embed the tweets in the article to add content and promote community engagement.

Note: Valid concerns arise around UGC, many of which involve spam or inappropriate content. Check out these strategies from Google to ensure all the content on your site is authentic, appropriate and relevant. 

And if you don’t have the resources to moderate your UGC, don’t worry. Manually uploading content (as shown in this case study) can be a good option since you’ll have full control over the content used.

Finally, consider asking your audience for permission to put their responses on your site. The more transparent you can be in this process, the better. 

Final takeaways

From the start, look to your audience for topic ideas. Send a prompt on social or email asking your followers what they want to know. Get FAQs from your customer service and product teams. Read your blog comments to find common themes or questions. From there, you can conduct keyword research to understand how users are searching for these topics.

You definitely don’t need thousands of followers to harness the power of UGC. Many of these strategies are feasible for brands of all sizes – try testing different methods to find which produce the best engagement and performance. When you write with your audience top of mind, you’ll see the results.

Related: Show off your own tactics. Enter the Search Engine Land Awards >>

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TF-IDF: The best content optimization tool SEOs aren’t using /tf-idf-the-best-content-optimization-tool-seos-arent-using-319122 Fri, 05 Jul 2019 17:25:43 +0000 /?p=319122 Term frequency–inverse document frequency uncovers the specific words that top-ranking pages use to give target keywords context.

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TF-IDF, short for term frequency–inverse document frequency, identifies the most important terms used in a given document. It is also one of the most ignored content optimization tools used by SEOs today.

TF-IDF fills in the gaps of standard keyword research. The saturation of target keywords on-page doesn’t determine relevance – anyone can practice keyword stuffing. Search marketers can use TF-IDF to uncover the specific words top-ranking pages use to give target keywords context, which may help search engines understand relevance.

Why should SEOs care about TF-IDF?

Conducting a TF-IDF analysis shows you the most important words used in the top 10 pages for a given keyword. You’ll see the exact terms that search engines consider highly relevant for your keyword and then compare your own content with competitors.

Now, I’m not suggesting you throw out your other keyword research tools—they are still very useful in the beginning stages when choosing your target keyword. However, they simply do not provide the semantic keywords necessary to fully represent a topic.

Let’s compare a keyword research tool’s semantic abilities with TF-IDF:

Keyword: ‘how to make coffee’

Say you’re writing a guide about how to make coffee. Here’s what Ahrefs would suggest including:

These tools provide excellent keyword variations but do not offer any keywords to improve topical relevance.

On the other hand, a TF-IDF tool would provide these insights:

In the top 10 pages about how to make coffee, the most weighted words include:

  • water
  • cup
  • brew
  • filter
  • beans

One glance at these words reveals the topic without a mention of the word coffee. That’s because TF-IDF provides a list of semantically related keywords, or “context” keywords, as one can think of them, that search engines are statistically expecting to see in relation to the topic of “how to make coffee.”

The exclusion of these words from an article about making coffee would absolutely indicate a lack of relevance to search engines… which means you can say goodbye to your chances of high rankings. Traditional keyword research just doesn’t provide this type of insight. 

But some may ask: what about E-A-T? Won’t a good reputation be enough to override the content?

The answer is: No, not really.

In his presentation on technical content optimization, Mike King of iPullRank offers an excellent “David and Goliath” example of the importance of content relevance:

Moz, arguably one of the most relevant sites for SEO-related keywords, ranks #20 for “what does seo stand for.”

Moz’s page (URL rating of 56 and 2.54k backlinks):

Alpine Web Design, the “David” in this situation, ranks #2 for the same keyword.

Alpine’s page: (URL rating of 15 and 75 backlinks)

From an authority and UX perspective, Moz is the clear winner. But TF-IDF analysis tells a different side of the story:

Moz:

Alpine:

As you can see, Moz’s page does not adequately represent many contextual keywords that Google finds relevant for the term “what does SEO stand for.” A significantly higher URL rating and backlink profile couldn’t save it.

How to implement TF-IDF with free tools

The advantages of adding TF-IDF to your content strategy are clear. Fortunately, several free tools exist to simplify this process:

1. Seobility’s TF-IDF tool

Personally, this is my favorite tool. It’s the only one I’ve found that’s completely free, no download or sign-up necessary. You get three TF-IDF checks per day to start, five with free sign-up or 50 with the premium plan.

You also gain access to their text editing tool so you can optimize your content with the tool’s suggestions.

2. Ryte’s content success tool

Ryte’s TF-IDF tool is another excellent choice. You can sign up for Ryte for free and get 10 TF-IDF analyses per month, which includes keyword recommendations and topic inspiration.

This tool also includes a text editor for easy content optimization.

3. Link Assistant’s website auditor

This tool is my honorable mention because it requires downloading to gain access. Once downloaded, you should get unlimited TF-IDF analyses.

If you do decide to download, this video explains how to navigate to the TF-IDF dashboard. 

Final word: TF-IDF is a tool, not the tool

It’s important to note: using TF-IDF is no substitution for having authoritative authors or reviewers, especially when it comes to YMYL topics.

This method of research should be used primarily to increase your understanding of the most weighted terms in a given document, and perhaps influence the variety of words used in your pages. It will never replace the expertise of a professional in the field.

Similarly, TF-IDF should not be taken at face value. You will be unsuccessful if you mimic the exact average of the weighted terms in your own content. Don’t force words in if they don’t make sense.

TF-IDF is just one method of content optimization, not the basket to put all your eggs in. If you get one thing out of this post, it would be to consider adding TF-IDF analysis to your toolbox when creating or updating content, not replacing your existing method of keyword research.

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