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https://relativityseo.com/seo-services/ John E Lincoln – Search Engine Land News On Search Engines, Search Engine Optimization (SEO) & Search Engine Marketing (SEM) Tue, 05 May 2020 17:48:21 +0000 en-US hourly 1 https://wordpress.org/?v=5.4 3 ways digital marketing agencies will change due to COVID-19 /3-ways-digital-marketing-agencies-will-change-due-to-covid-19-334059 Fri, 01 May 2020 19:16:17 +0000 /?p=334059 As we progress, it is important to adapt your strategy, organization and communication.

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If you own an agency, or are with an agency, you are probably wondering how things will change due to COVID-19. I’ve spent a good amount of time thinking about this and here is what I predict will happen. 

1. Strategy with change

Everything a digital marketing agency does starts with their strategy, so I think it is important we address this first. 

How it will change

There have been clear changes to supply and demand online. The product market fit has also been modified for almost every category on some level due to the ripple effect of COVID-19. Because of this, agencies are going to have to look at themselves and their clients through the following lenses:

  • How has the need of their customer base changed?
  • How have their budgets changed?
  • Are they still a good customer target?
  • Should they target a different customer profile?
  • Do they still have the right services to help those customers?

Agencies need to look at their own product market fit and that of their customers. This will be a major exercise through the rest of 2020.

How to win

You need to take a closer look at your customer and refine your strategy around their new pain points. 

For example, we have seen searches drop dramatically for “near me” terms and spike for “delivery” terms. We have seen YouTube grow 15% in traffic, while at the same time ad revenue has gone down. 

Agencies will need to modify the way they take clients to market, their services and pricing for doing so.

Bonus: Immediate tips for how digital agencies should update client strategy

  • A page on their website directly addressing COVID-19 and how they are helping customers. This should be visible on every page of the site. It should also give an update on any changes to the business.
  • They need to bring their new messaging strategy to their advertising creatives, their content marketing and email marketing teams, and TV and radio. 
  • They need to run a campaign that clearly states how they are helping their customer — and they need to track the results. If the results are good, they can tout how they helped customers in a follow-up marketing campaign later in 2020.

2. Organization 

There is no doubt that the way organizations operate will change in the short-term due to this. Agencies are no exception. 

How they will change

With everyone working remote, you can expect employees and employers to get used to this. Rent is not cheap, and in general, agency profitability is low. In most cases, agencies have net profits between 5% and 30% and rent is a big part of that cost as the agency often likes to have a nice office to attract staff and wow customers. If customers don’t want to meet in their office and the staff want to work from home, this means big savings for the company. The best part is that this money can be used to invest more in client success and employee success.

But not having an office brings other large challenges: lack of team/company culture, lack of community, collaboration and so much more. I personally love having an office and seeing our team every day. Without one, agency owners may have management challenges and will need processes and accountability, such as:

  • Time tracking on clients
  • Daily check-ins with team 
  • Weekly accountability 

How to win

This is up to each agency owner to decide, and time will tell how important the office is long term. But for now, a few things that will help are video calls including:

  • Non-work related items, such as happy hours or chatting for team building 
  • And then, of course, multiple department check-ins each week 

3. Communication

For agencies, client communication is going to change. 

How it will change

Clients generally love in-person meetings at their office or our office. They also enjoy lunch, coffee or happy hour. That all has gone out the window now. This places a necessity for everyone still to show up to those meetings just as they would in-person, but via video call. 

How to win

You need to show up to the video call dressed fairly nice, with some decent lighting and a background that is presentable. I believe a nice set-up here will go a very long way with clients. The video call is an experience, so this becomes an entirely new skill set. I expect to see a spike in custom video backgrounds for company employees.

Imagine you’re doing a video call with a staff member at our company. One call has someone in a sweatshirt, hair all messed up, poor lighting, and in the background you see their laundry all over the floor. 

Now imagine that same call with someone who has taken the time to put on a nice shirt, brush their hair, has clear lighting on their face and the background is a whiteboard with the company logo on it so they can write things down and brainstorm. During the meeting, you see your digital marketing strategy written down each week and delivered back to you. This is an entirely different experience — one that you’ve grown to expect in a professional environment.

Conclusion

COVID-19 almost seems unreal due to the magnitude of impact it has had on the world, but we will get through it and come out stronger. As we progress, it is important to adapt — and agencies are no exception. For agencies, think about your new customer needs, employee needs and communication strategy. For those who use agencies, we agency owners appreciate you.

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A deep dive into the fact check structured data: Who is it right for? /a-deep-dive-into-the-fact-check-structured-data-who-is-it-right-for-332343 Tue, 07 Apr 2020 13:36:24 +0000 /?p=332343 If you want to position yourself as an authority in your space, learn how to use Fact Check structured data.

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Do you want the entire internet to know you have your facts right? If so, then you should take a look at the Fact Check structured data. In this post, I’ll cover everything you need to know about it. 

What is Fact Check structured data?

It’s part of Schema.org markup. Specifically, the Fact Check structured data includes three elements:

You’ll need to use all three types if you want Google to display your fact-check in search.

In this article, I’ll go over the Fact Check structured data in detail. I’ll also explain who it’s right for and how to use it.

Diving into Fact Check structured data

So what, specifically, does the Fact Check structured data do? It shows claims and reviews in search.

For example, if somebody types a question based on something overheard into the search bar, Google might show the claim and its review right there in the search engine results pages. That result might look something like this:

  • Claim: The earth is flat
  • Claimed by: The Flat Earth Society
  • Fact Check by NASA: False

There are few things that you should notice about the fact-check above.

First, take a look at the claim. That’s the statement that’s getting fact-checked. In this case, it’s a statement that the earth is flat.

Next is the “Claimed by” section. That’s the name of the person or organization that’s making the questionable claim. In this case, it’s the Flat Earth Society.

Finally, the last line is the “answer” to the claim. It tells you if the statement is true or false (or somewhere in between).

There’s another part to that last line, though. That’s the name of the person or organization that’s evaluating the claim and rendering a verdict. In this case, it’s NASA.

It’s safe to say that the National Aeronautics and Space Administration might have some valuable info on the shape of the planet we live on, so most folks would probably assume that NASA is qualified to evaluate the claim.

By the way, that claim evaluation in the last line is called the rating. 

Who is Fact Check structured data right for?

At this point, you might be thinking to yourself, “Well, I don’t think too many of the people in my target market believe the earth is flat, so I don’t need this markup.”

Not necessarily. While you may not need to fact-check details about the world, you could use Fact Check structured data for other purposes.

For example, you could use it to position yourself as an authority in your space.

Let’s say you’re running a digital marketing business. You want to convince people that you’re an expert in search engine optimization (SEO).

There’s a current claim running around SEO circles that Google uses the Better Business Bureau rating as a ranking signal. You know that’s false because Danny Sullivan just said so.

So why not create some Fact Check structured data to debunk the claim? It would look something like this:

  • Claim: Google uses BBB rating as a ranking signal.
  • Claimed by: Various SEOs
  • Fact Check by MyDigitalMarketingCompany: False

As you can see, the last line includes some branding. That will help build awareness about your business.

But beyond that, the fact-check itself will appear below a link to your web page that includes details about the claim and why you rated it the way you did. As a result, you may also get traffic to your site because of the markup.

So the answer to the question posed in the section header is: Fact Check structured data is right for you if you want to portray yourself as an authority in your space.

Beyond that, it’s also right for “hard science” websites that want to clear up confusion about any issues.

Fact Check structured data can also be used by political blogs to render verdicts about claims made by people in government.

Important guidelines

Just because you add the Fact Check structured data to your website, that doesn’t necessarily mean that your claims and reviews will show up in search. You’ll still need to follow some guidelines.

For starters, you should have several pages marked with the ClaimReview type. Apparently, Google wants to see that you’re a bona fide fact-checking individual or organization.

If you’re fact-checking a news claim, you’ll need to meet the News Publisher criteria for fact-checks. 

While you can host multiple claims on a single page, it’s probably best for SEO purposes just to go with one claim per page. Otherwise, the URL to the claim review will need to include an anchor tag to the right claim. If you don’t include the right anchor tag, it probably won’t show up in search.

Also, the page hosting the claim and review must include a summary of the fact-check as well as the rating. It can include the full text if that’s what you’d prefer.

Next, you should avoid evaluating the same claim on different pages. That confuses the search engines and could hurt your visibility in the SERPs.

Finally, if you run a website that aggregates fact-checking articles, make sure that all of the articles conform to the guidelines listed above.

Important definitions

Let’s take a look at the different types of markup you need to include on a fact-checking page.

First up is the ClaimReview element. Pay particular attention to the following properties:

  • claimReviewed – This is the text of the claim that you’re fact-checking. For example: “The earth is flat.”
  • reviewRating – The actual rating of the claim. This isn’t just a simple text string like claimReviewed. Instead, it’s a type of the Review element. I’ll cover it in more detail below.
  • url – Link to the page containing the full text of the review. The domain of the URL must be the same domain name as the page hosting the ClaimReview element.
  • author – The publisher of the article checking the claim.
  • datePublished – The publication date of the article checking the claim.
  • itemReviewed – The full details of the claim getting reviewed. For more info, see a breakdown of the Claim element below.

Please note: the first three properties mentioned above are required by Google. The final three are recommended.

Next, let’s take a look at the Rating element. That’s the type that you’ll use for reviewRating in ClaimReview. It includes the following properties:

  • ratingValue – A number from 1 to 5, with 1 being False and 5 being True.
  • alternateName – Some text describing the review. Examples include “True,” “Mostly True,” “Half True,” “Mostly False,” and “False.”

Remember, the Review element is embedded in the ClaimReview element. It doesn’t stand apart by itself.

Next, let’s look at the Claim element. Pay attention to these properties:

  • appearance – A link to the web page where the claim appears.
  • author – A Person or Organization type describing the entity that made the claim.
  • datePublished – The date that the person or organization made the claim.
  • firstAppearance – A link to the web page where the claim first appeared.

Finally, let’s go the important properties of the Rating element:

  • alternateName – Another place to put the human-readable rating. Examples include “True,” “Mostly True,” “Half True,” “Mostly False,” and “False.”
  • bestRating – The best possible rating of the claim. It must be a number greater than worstRating.
  • ratingValue – The numeric rating of the claim on a scale from 1 to 5. It must be a number between worstRating and bestRating.
  • worstRating – The worst possible rating of the claim. It must be a number less than bestRating.

Don’t forget, there is a tool and an explorer 

Now if you don’t want to add the data manually, keep in mind there is a markup tool.

That will allow you to mark up the page without coding it.

There is also an explorer. This allows you to see the fact-checked data in action, even when it is not triggered in search results.

Wrapping it up

Do you want to convince potential customers that you’re an expert in your field? One of the ways you can do that is by fact-checking industry-specific claims.

Fortunately, you can use Schema.org markup to add fact-checks to your web pages that will appear in search, if Google thinks it should. In doing so, you’ll build brand-name awareness and boost your business.

The post A deep dive into the fact check structured data: Who is it right for? appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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What happens if you stop doing SEO? /what-happens-if-you-stop-doing-seo-329606 Mon, 24 Feb 2020 17:17:33 +0000 /?p=329606 The ugly truth is that it’s hard to reverse momentum once a website starts going in the wrong direction.

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Often, businesses want to stop and start SEO. 

Some feel that taking a break won’t cause any issues. 

But when a client suggests taking a break, you can explain the details of what will happen.

If you stop posting content correctly 

When you stop publishing content, the following things happen:

  1. You stop targeting new terms consistently. This results in fewer new keyword rankings and new traffic. 
  2. You stop creating new pages that can be linked to, and the number of links you earn goes down.
  3. You stop capturing new visitors to add to your remarketing audiences, email list and push notification list.
  4. You stop generating content that can be used to create hub pages, which are master pages that link to all other pages on the topic. These often rank very well.
  5. You stop generating content that gets shared on social media, and thus, generates social media shares and traffic.
  6. You stop encouraging people to return to your website for new posts. This reduces your branded searches, which are an indicator of quality to Google.

Overall, if you stop creating content, it says to Google that your website is no longer as active as it was and thus beginning the process of dying a slow death.

If you don’t watch for technical issues 

Those without web experience often don’t understand that from a technical perspective, things often break for no real reason.

I’ve never seen a website that did not have at least a handful of technical SEO issues.

If you don’t monitor the technical aspects of your site, issues such as the following could arise:

  1. You block your website with robots.txt.
  2. You generate duplicate content.
  3. You accidentally push your development site into the index. 

You can read more about common technical issues here.

When you don’t monitor these things and fix them consistently, they start to add up. Think of it as a garden – it takes maintenance, or it starts to become overgrown.

It is incredibly important to stay technically correct, especially with new developments such as mobile usability, page speed, AMP and more.

If you don’t, you are sure to have an error at some point that will cost you down the line. Similarly, your tech stack will become so out of date that you can no longer compete in the market.

If you stop refreshing pages

When you refresh a page correctly, traffic will generally increase to that page 10% to 30%, sometimes more.

The reason for this is because Google sees the new text and the value it provides and wants to rank it higher.

Now, there are many ways to go about doing refreshes. Some of those include:

  1. Adding FAQs to the page
  2. Adding links to other articles
  3. Updating facts
  4. Updating dates 
  5. Making the text longer 
  6. Adding schema
  7. Changing a page template 
  8. Etc.

Lately, the most important thing to look for when refreshing a page is whether or not it matches search intent, and if the page in question is better than the #1 ranking page.

My process includes doing a search, categorizing the query based on intent, analyzing the top pages, creating a new strategy for the page we are trying to get ranked, and refreshing as a result of that.

If you stop building new pages 

Building new pages are harder for some industries than others.

For example, when I worked with a few firms in the outsources accounting space, the lower funnel terms were minimal. If you compare that to a large e-commerce site like Amazon, its terms are endless.

While that is the case, I believe websites should always be targeting new terms and organizing them by segment. Those segments should be prioritized based on business goals and tracked in a dashboard.

But if you stop building new pages, you’ll lose keyword growth momentum.

I highly recommend creating these pages for SEO, but additionally, these new pages can be excellent landing pages for paid search and paid media, in general.

As a website grows, it’s a great idea to create more landing pages that target specific keywords and audiences. This will improve quality score on the page side and conversion rates all around.

If you stop this process, you’ll lose your competitive advantage. The people who win in the future of the web will be the ones converting traffic for less.  

If you stop watching out for bad links

If you stop doing SEO, your backlink profile can get out of control.

Lately, spammy links are worse than ever before.

When you watch your backlinks, you will see the following happen:

  1. People scrape your website content and keep the links in by accident. 
  2. You get Google alerts from sites hacked by malware. 
  3. Competitors try to do negative SEO on your site.

If you don’t update your disavow file once a month, you are putting your website rankings at risk. Lately, we have been doing it weekly for clients in competitive spaces.

If you stop watching out for stolen content 

Go to your top landing page on your website right now.

Copy a block of text about three sentences long.

Put that text in quotes and search for it in Google. What do you see?

I’ll bet some of you will see other websites coming up for that content. Some might have even stolen from your website.

Now, think about the impact that can have if it happens across multiple pages on your site. Honestly, it can be devastating. Many times we find others have wholly duplicated a website, stolen key pages, or taken individual sections of a page.

When this happens, you need to address it.

  1. Rewrite the content on your site.
  2. Ask the other site to take it down. 
  3. File a DMCA on them if needed.
  4. Consider sending them a cease and desist.
  5. Sometimes, you can contact the hosting company and ask them to remove the site.

Regardless, if you stop watching for stolen content, it could have an extremely negative effect on your business and rankings. This is something you need to catch right away.

Bottom line: Why you should not stop doing SEO

Obviously, you’re not going to stop doing SEO. We all know it is an amazing asset to improve search ranking and help your business grow. The work you do to create and update content along with the technical issues that are easily solved if they’re on your radar, all improve your bottom line. But you also need to ensure you are compliant with privacy regulations if you wish to remain on top.

The ugly truth is that it’s hard to reverse momentum once a website starts going in the wrong direction. I am a firm believer that all things online should be scaled as the business grows, SEO included.

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Beyond Google and Facebook advertising: 17 ad platforms you should try /beyond-google-and-facebook-advertising-17-ad-platforms-you-should-try-328356 Wed, 29 Jan 2020 13:00:00 +0000 /?p=328356 Expanding your use of advertising platforms can help your campaigns reach target audiences not on traditional platforms through text, video and audio ads.

The post Beyond Google and Facebook advertising: 17 ad platforms you should try appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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While Google and Facebook both have distinct advantages, they aren’t the only platforms to promote your brand online. There are plenty of alternatives out there and it may be time to look at a few of them.

Remember, some of the folks in your target market will see ads hosted by those other networks. Even better, they might be more receptive to ads that aren’t displayed on the usual sites.

You’ll also increase brand-name awareness when people see your company name on multiple locations.

Below are 17 additional ad platforms to consider. 

1. Microsoft Advertising

If you want to reach folks on Bing, you’ll have to use Microsoft Advertising (formerly Bing Ads). There are a couple of free options because Microsoft Advertising runs ads not only on Bing, but also on two other search platforms: Yahoo and AOL.

Here are a few stats about the total audience you can reach with Microsoft:

  • 116 million daily users
  • 5.5 million monthly desktop searches
  • 36.2% of the overall U.S. desktop search market

Microsoft also offers a variety of advertising goals to help boost your business. Using the platform, you can:

  • Generate more phone calls
  • Increase ad engagement
  • Bring foot traffic to your local store
  • Sell products online
  • Increase conversions

Additionally, Microsoft also offers an assortment of ad products that include:

  • Ad extensions
  • Shopping campaigns
  • Dynamic search ads
  • Conversion tracking
  • Shared budgets

So if you’re familiar with the typical features offered by Google, you’ll find it easy to transition to Microsoft Advertising.

Virgin Australia, for example, adopted Microsoft Advertising and saw an 18% year-over-year revenue growth. The company used its own first-party data to target potential customers. According to David Rossi, one of the leaders of Virgin’s digital marketing team: “Virgin Australia applies models based on the likely propensity for users to buy flights to certain destinations.”

Rossi’s solution involved feeding data gathered by websites and apps directly into Microsoft Custom Audiences. He also set different bid modifiers for increased flexibility. Overall, the company only increased investment in Microsoft Advertising by 18%.

2. Quora

There are a few advertising platforms that really stepped up their game in the last year. One of them is Quora.

If you’re unfamiliar with Quora, it’s a “Question and Answer” platform. People log on, ask a question (anything, really), and then other users in-the-know provide the answer. Multiple people can answer, however, there’s often a single answer highlighted as the “best” and makes it easier for others to find.

Part of the challenge when running a business is to reach people who need digital marketing services right now. Quora enables you to do that by running your ad to folks who are asking questions about online marketing.

For example, if someone logs on to Quora and asks, “Which ad platform is best for e-commerce sites?” You can get your ad in front of that person.

Quora also offers the same kinds of sophisticated targeting options you’ve seen on other platforms, such as lookalike audiences, website match audiences, and list match audiences.

You can also target Quora users based on their history on the platform.

3. AdRoll

AdRoll’s platform employs a solution called IntentMap that tracks 1.2 billion shopper profiles with trillions of intent data points and makes more than 80 billion AI predictions every day. It’s designed to reach potential shoppers who are most likely to convert.

You can also use AdRoll to create the ultimate cross-platform experience for folks in your market. Run online ads, email marketing campaigns, and website promotions to lead people through the customer journey. You also get a healthy reporting feature that includes multi-touch attribution. 

If you’re running an e-commerce shop, AdRoll integrates with some of the most popular platforms such as Shopify, WooCommerce and BigCommerce.

4. Amazon

As much as you might think that your product is unique and you can set up a virtual shop alongside Amazon that’s effectively competitive, more than you likely you’ll learn the hard way that it just won’t work.

When that happens, you’ll need to sell your products using Amazon’s platform. And then you’ll need to run ads on Amazon as well.

Why do you need to run ads? Because the competition on Amazon is cutthroat. There are simply too many players in the game.

The bad news is that your margins will take a hit when you sell and advertise on Amazon. So you may have to make some adjustments to your business model.

Still, Amazon is a great place to land if you’re looking for a way to increase brand-name awareness and land more sales. 

Amazon also offers targeting features and a rich reporting system so you can fine-tune your strategy.

5. Taboola

Taboola stands out from the other advertising options because it’s a native advertising platform.

If you’re unfamiliar with native advertising, it’s a way to promote content on somebody else’s blog. The format of the ad looks like content on the hosting website.

Oh, there’s usually some kind of disclaimer making it clear to careful observers that the content is an ad. But the disguise is still effective.

Taboola recently announced a merger with Outbrain and together form a powerhouse of an online advertising option that will help you target the right people, gain more exposure and offer reporting that enables you to adapt your strategy.

Taboola also allows you to use a variety of creative formats, including video, social or content ads. There is also a smart bidding feature so you can automate your optimization strategy.

6. Reddit

Reddit is an online forum for user-generated content. People who like what other folks post will “upvote” it by clicking an up-arrow next to the content headline. Folks who don’t like what they see will “downvote” it by clicking a down-arrow.

Unsurprisingly, content with lots of upvotes tends to surface towards the top of people’s feeds.

What kind of content can you find on Reddit? The answer is yes.

Seriously, Reddit offers forums (called “subreddits”) for just about every subject imaginable.

It also offers forums for some subjects you can’t imagine. But that’s a subject for a different article.

Reddit enables you to create your own post on the platform and then run it as an ad. It will, of course, show up with an “Ad” disclaimer next to it, but people will still see it.

If your headline is catchy enough, people might view your content. If your content is worthwhile, you might snag a few additional customers.

And lest you think that Reddit is an ad platform only for up-and-coming marketers desperate for attention, keep in mind that well-known brands such as Audi and L’Oreal have used the platform effectively.

Reddit, by the way, is another one of those platforms that has heavily improved its feature set in 2019. You’ll appreciate the results.

7.  BuySellAds

BuySellAds is a self-serve platform that enables you to target developers, designers and niche tech audiences. In other words, if your business model involves reaching people in high-tech, you should put BuySellAds on your short list of alternative ad platforms.

One of the more attractive features of this platform is that it enables you to reach people with a variety of ad formats, including:

  • Native ads
  • Content ads
  • Podcast ads
  • Display ads
  • Email ads

The company website includes several success stories from brands such as Hello Sign, Rollbar, Circleci and Storyblocks.

Storyblocks used the BuySellAds platform to identify designers when they were seeking inspiration and resources. That’s how the company reached an audience at the lower end of the sales funnel.

8. Infolinks

If there’s one word that defines the Infolinks ad platform it’s this one: Smart.

Infolinks gives you the ability to reach people in your market when they’re most likely to convert. It does that with a sophisticated algorithm that presents only relevant ads to netsurfers.

You can also use the platform to reach an international audience. Infolinks boasts of a billion users worldwide.

Additionally, the tool enables you to:

  • Choose from a variety of ad units
  • Select from advanced targeting options
  • Optimize your strategy
  • Track your results
  • Run search and display ads

The platform’s customer list includes Digitas, Starcom Mediavest Group, Mediacom, McCann Worldgroup, and MEC.

9. LinkedIn

LinkedIn ads are practically a cost of doing business if you’re in the B2B space.

Simply put: there is no place online where you’re more likely to find business owners and leaders who are part of your potential customer pool.

As of now, there are about 630 million active professionals on LinkedIn. Of those, 180 million are senior-level influencers, 63 million are decision-makers, and 10 million are C-level executives.

In other words, the people you’re trying to reach are there.

With LinkedIn, you have several advertising options, including:

  • Sponsored content
  • Sponsored InMail
  • Video ads
  • Text ads
  • Dynamic ads
  • Carousel ads

Additionally, the platform offers many of the features you’d expect to find on state-of-the-art ad solutions, such as:

  • Conversion tracking
  • Contact targeting
  • Website retargeting
  • Lead generation
  • Audience network

Companies such as Lenovo, Marketo, Intel, AIG, and American Express have used LinkedIn Ads to successfully promote their brands.

Finally, keep in mind that LinkedIn is now owned by Microsoft. So you get the advantages of the Microsoft big data platform, and the targeting possibilities that accompany it, when you run ads on LinkedIn.

10. Pinterest

Pinterest is another one that has significantly improved its ad offerings this year. If you haven’t looked at its rich feature set lately, you should check it out.

That’s especially true if women are a significant part of your target market because they are the vast majority of Pinterest users.

Also, if your brand places a high emphasis on image marketing, Pinterest is a great option because it’s all about sharing images.

Keep in mind: your “ad” on Pinterest will be a Pin. So you’ll start by uploading an image that promotes your business and then make it an advertisement.

You can choose to pay for engagements or website visits. In either case, you’re only paying when people show interest.

Pinterest also offers a robust tracking platform so you can see which strategies are paying off.

11. Snapchat

If a sizable chunk of your target audience skews younger, you should consider advertising on Snapchat. That’s because more than 70% of Snapchat users are between the ages of 18 to 24.

According to the Snapchat advertising page, more than a third of the app’s user community can’t be found on Facebook and Instagram. So you stand to gain market share with Snapchat ads.

The platform enables you to pick one of three goals for your ad:

  • Website visits
  • Local store visits
  • App installs

Also, Snapchat makes it easy to get your ad up and running in minutes with its self-serve platform. 

Finally, the tool offers tracking tools so you can measure and optimize your campaigns for maximum impact.

12. TikTok

TikTok is a short-form video platform that boasts over 1.5 billion users worldwide. More than 60% of those folks are between the ages of 16 and 24. So, once again, it’s where you want to be if you’re looking to reach a younger crowd.

Unlike Vine, TikTok also offers an advertising platform to reach people in more than 20 markets around the world. The platform also enables a way to create ads in a variety of formats and plenty of targeting capabilities.

Guess Jeans, Universal Pictures, and Clean & Clear have used TikTok advertising to promote their brands.

13. YouTube

“In an average month, 18-plus year olds in the United States spend more time watching YouTube than any television network.”

That’s the claim you’ll read when you visit the YouTube Ads home page. It’s a compelling reason to consider advertising on the platform.

YouTube Ads offers a targeting platform called Find My Audience that enables you to reach only the viewers who are most likely to become customers. You can go beyond simple demographics to identify the folks by habits and interests.

As is the case with other advertising options, YouTube Ads also allows you to create In-Market Audiences and Affinity Audiences to broaden your reach even more.

And here’s where YouTube TrueView Ads shine above and beyond traditional TV commercial ads: You only pay when someone watches at least 30 seconds of your ad.

Of course, you’ll have to put some money into producing high-quality video ads. That’s an added cost you’ll need to discuss with your accountant.

Finally, YouTube offers some great analytics tools so you can track your campaign performance and get the most bang for your buck.

14. Propel Media

You can reach folks in your target market with a website lightbox or a TextLink with Propel Media. The platform employs a “DeepIntent” algorithm that’s designed to find high-value audiences in real-time.

How does it work? According to the company website, it combines AI with natural language processing to understand the relationships between 300 million people, places, products and events. The targeting technology can reach your next customers with lightboxes, TextLinks and pre-roll video ads.

Here’s another selling point: the company formed a partnership with streaming brands Roku, Apple TV and Chromecast. Those platforms give you access to people you might not find with traditional web advertising.

Finally, Propel Media even offers native advertising options for both national and international audiences.

15. Revcontent

Revcontent is another native advertising platform that offers the goodies you’d expect from any native ad service: granular targeting options, real-time reporting and flexibility with creatives.

One thing you get with Revcontent that you might not get with some other platforms – dedicated account management. That kind of expertise can make the difference between profitable and unprofitable campaigns.

Revcontent is used by plenty of well-known brands, including Forbes, Ziff Davis, Bank of America, Wayfair and NASDAQ.

16. Spotify

If you want to reach people in your target market in a way that your competitors might have overlooked, consider going with audio advertising on Spotify ads.

The production cost for audio ads might come in a bit higher than traditional image ads but the Spotify ad platform includes a feature to make your own audio ad, which includes a voiceover. So it might not be expensive at all.

Beyond that, the potential to reach your core audience shouldn’t be overlooked. Millions of people use Spotify to discover their favorite music and listen to the podcasts they love.

Spotify advertising also gives you the ability to target potential customers at unusual times, such as when they’re working out, driving to work, relaxing, cooking or cleaning.

17. Pandora

Pandora is a competitor to Spotify so the advantages of running ads on the platform are similar.

Pandora boasts an audience of 118 million listeners. You can target a segment of those folks using the platform’s first-party data as well as Pandora-provided third-party data.

The first-party data includes segments such as:

  • Basic demographic info (age, gender, etc.)
  • Music preferences
  • Location
  • Listening times

The third-party data includes offline habits such as shopping behavior and media interests.

When combined, the first- and third-party data give you laser-like targeting capabilities so that you only reach people who are likely to show an interest in your brand.

With Pandora, you have the option to run 10-, 15-, or 30-second ad spots. The platform also includes an Audio Everywhere product that integrates your message seamlessly with the listener’s preferred experience. 

You can even launch a campaign that combines your audio ad with a persistent visual component that runs across the web and mobile platforms.

Wrapping it up

Here’s your assignment: go through the list of alternative ad platform options above and select the one you think is best for your business. For example, if you’re running a B2B shop, you’d probably choose LinkedIn.

Then, follow a common-sense approach to advertising on that platform. Run ads that highlight the benefits of your brand. Do some split-testing so you can optimize your campaigns. Double down on what works.

When you’ve successfully fine-tuned a strategy for one platform and it’s giving you a positive ROI, pick a second option from the list above and start the same process with that platform.

Rinse and repeat until you’ve saturated your market profit-producing ads.

The post Beyond Google and Facebook advertising: 17 ad platforms you should try appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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How to use Schema to create a Google Action /how-to-use-schema-to-create-a-google-action-325753 Tue, 26 Nov 2019 15:23:28 +0000 /?p=325753 A new update makes Google Actions accessible to a broader range of marketers to build an Action from scratch.

The post How to use Schema to create a Google Action appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google recently announced that publishers can now create Google Actions from web content using schema markup.

For brands, Google Actions can be a great way to get more mileage out of your SEO strategy and offer another opportunity to reach searchers organically. Optimizing for newer SEO features like Google Actions and rich results are becoming increasingly critical when it comes to pleasing the algorithm.

While the option isn’t available for every content type, this new capability is a big deal for less technical users looking to, ahem, get in on the Actions.

What Are Google Actions?

Actions are apps designed for the Google Assistant. They range from apps like the Dominos delivery action to health and fitness apps to personality tests and ride-hailing services.

Actions work when the user prompts the Assistant with a phrase like, “OK, Google, talk to [Action].”

Source

According to Google, here’s a representation of what happens “behind the scenes” during an interaction:

Source

It’s important to understand that all Actions take place inside the cloud, though users can access them on any device with the Google Assistant enabled. Each action is also tied to a specific intent and is programmed with a corresponding fulfillment process to complete a given request.

Speaking of intent, let’s move on to the next section, where I’ll go over the link between schema markup and Google Actions.

Google Actions + Schema

Schema markup is a type of microdata that gives Google more context about the intent of any given piece of content.

When you add schema markup to a webpage, it creates an enhanced description – aka a rich result – which appears on the front page of Google. These rich results include everything from “book now buttons” for local businesses to recipe instructions, contact information and events.

Search engines need to match content to search queries, and part of assessing the quality of a search result depends on intent.

Schema is a way for websites to let search engines know more about the intent behind the content. It’s also a requirement for websites that want to be eligible for Google’s rich results – which increasingly account for the lion’s share of the first page in the search results.

Of course, adding the markup alone won’t guarantee position zero. You’ll need to make sure you follow Google’s recommendations perfectly, that you choose the right schema for the page you’re targeting, and that your content is useful, credible and engaging.

It’s a tall order, but Google’s latest announcement brings schema to Google Actions, offering an additional channel for earning some of your SEO share back.

For content creators is, this means that they now have the ability to create Google Actions, regardless of whether or not they know their way around Dialogflow or the Google Actions Console.

Instead, Google automatically generates an Action when users add specific markup to eligible content types.

Google Actions schema: Content types

Source

The main benefit of using schema for content actions is that it provides an opportunity to increase brand awareness in a format with limited advertising opportunities.

Using schema markup, Google can create a variety of Actions based on six types of content that you might publish on the web. Here’s a look at the supported content.

Podcasts

Last May, Google announced they would be adding podcasts to the search results screen through a new structured markup option.

For podcasters long reliant on clunky search features on platforms like Apple Podcasts or Stitcher, the option to improve discoverability in the Google Search results is huge.

The markup allows podcasters to improve their showing in the Google Search results and on Google Podcasts, with individual episode descriptions and an embedded player for each right there on the first page. Another new feature, Deeper Podcast search, lets users search for the actual audio directly inside the podcast using Google transcriptions.

Connecting podcasts to a Google Action takes things to the next level, making it easy for users to find your podcast in the Assistant directory and play episodes directly from their phone, smart speaker, or Google Home display.

Here’s how to turn podcasts into a Google Action:

FAQs

Per Google guidelines, you can apply FAQ schema to any site that features a list of questions and answers on just about any subject. Meaning, the option isn’t limited to the official FAQ pages included on a company’s website; instead, you can create FAQ pages for any resource or topic relevant to your business.

What’s nice about FAQ schema – whether it’s linked to an Action or not – is those brands that earn position zero can take up a ton of real estate on the SERPs.

As with all other types of schema, FAQ content needs to match what’s on your website 100%. Otherwise, Google may hit you with a manual action. It’s also important to note that FAQ content is purely informational in intent – and as such, you can’t use markup as a free advertising channel.

By turning your FAQ pages into Google Actions, the Google Assistant can read your answers out loud when searchers enter a related voice query.

Here’s what you’ll need to know.

Valid vs. invalid use-cases

FAQ pages must be written from the perspective of the website, with no option for users to submit alternative answers.

This can take the form of either a product support page where, again, users don’t have the option to offer additional answers. This means that forum pages or pages where users can submit questions and provide answers don’t count.

In those instances, you’ll need to add the QAPage markup instead (keep in mind, this will not automatically create an action).

Markup the entire thing

When you add FAQ schema to your page, make sure that you include all text associated with both the question and the answer. Notice how this Booking.com example includes the question as a complete sentence and a conversational answer–they don’t just say, “it’s $167.”

Source

Additionally, all FAQ content must be accessible to the visitor on the source page. So, if you click through to Booking.com based on that answer, you’ll see that exact same text on the official website.

Here’s an example of FAQ markup in JSON-LD format:

Source

Recipes

Recipe markup allows users to promote their content through rich cards presented in the Google Assistant and learn about your content in the Assistant directory. Use it to highlight nutritional information, prep time, and ingredient lists, along with images that get searchers interested in your food.

What’s more, you can use the recipe schema together with the guidance markup, which gives consumers a way to follow along with audio instructions for your recipes.

As it stands, you’ll need to fill out a Google Form to get started with the feature. It’s pretty short, requiring only your name, email, domain, and company name.

It’s also worth pointing out that you’ll need to make sure your page features both the recipe and guidance markup to be eligible for rich search results and as a Google Action.

Additionally, you’ll need to make sure that you set up your structured data correctly.

A few things to consider:

  • Use recipe structured data if your content focuses on showing users how to prepare a specific dish. Google also mentions that things like “facial scrub” don’t qualify as recipes, as they’re not something you would present as an edible dish. In those cases, your content is probably a better fit with the HowTo schema. 
  • If you want your recipes to show up in a host-specific list (a summarized recipe collection) you’ll need to include the following:
    • Use the ItemList structured data to summarize the recipes you’d like to feature. You can opt to provide ItemList schema together with recipe structured data or on its own. 
    • Your site must also have a summary page that lists out all recipes in a collection, like a round-up of summer cocktail recipes or a collection of Thanksgiving recipes. The idea is, when a user clicks a summary link from the SERPs, they’ll then be directed to a website that shows each of these recipes in their entirety.

Here’s an example of recipe schema in JSON-LD format:

Source

How-to guides

How-to schema can be used to markup articles that contain instructional information that show users how to do something new.

As is the case with the other content types I’ve mentioned, there are some guidelines you should know about before applying the HowTo markup to your site.

According to Google Developers, HowTo markup applies to content where the main focus of that page is the how-to. In other words, it doesn’t count if you write a long-form article that includes a short how-to section along with several different elements. The content must also be read sequentially as a series of steps.

How-to content must also abide by these guidelines:

  • You cannot markup offensive, explicit, or violent content. 
  • Each step must be marked up in its entirety.
  • You cannot use HowTo markup for advertising purposes
  • HowTo does not apply to recipes—as they have their own schema.
  • If applicable, include images, along with a list of materials and tools needed to complete the task.

Here’s an example of HowTo markup in JSON-LD format:

Source

Right now, HowTo Actions are only available for Google Assistant, not for Smart Displays.

However, Google is working to sign up more publishers interested in creating how-to content for smart displays. Sign up here to let Google Developers know you’re interested in this option – and perhaps we’ll see this feature roll out sometime in 2020.

News

Adding markup to your news content helps you increase visibility in the SERPs and gives users the option to consume your content via Google Assistant.

Users can apply this schema to blog content, articles, and news articles, though they’ll need to be a registered publisher on Google News to take advantage of this tool.

The News markup makes stories visually stand out in the SERPs. Features like the host carousel, top stories carousel, visual stories, and large thumbnails and headlines allow users an opportunity to attract more organic traffic to their sites by giving them more real estate to share content.

To add voice compatibility to the list of features, you’ll need to choose between AMP and non-AMP formatting, which I’ve laid out for you here.

AMP with structured data

Google recommends that users opt for AMP, as its fast load times mean there’s less of a chance that the Assistant will experience a delay when “reading” an article aloud. It’s also worth pointing out, AMP articles come with a few more requirements than non-AMP content. 

To set it up:

Recommended properties:

  • Author
  • Author Name
  • Date Published
  • Headline
  • Image
  • Publisher
  • Publisher Logo
  • Publisher Logo URL
  • Publisher Logo Height
  • Publisher Logo Width
  • Publisher Name
  • Date Modified
  • Description
  • Main Entity of Page

Non-AMP with structured data

While Google encourages users to embrace AMP, you can add structured data to Non-AMP articles, as well. And like their AMP counterparts, those news stories that include markup have a higher likelihood of appearing in the search results with rich results features.

To set it up:

  • Add structured markup to the page
  • Make sure you follow the guidelines to ensure Google can crawl your page.
  • Test the page using the Structured Data Testing Tool

Recommended properties:

  • Headline
  • Image
  • Date Published
  • Data Modified

Keep in mind, you will need to mark up your content as structured articles for it to show in the news result.

Here’s an example of article markup in JSON-LD form:

Source

Before you apply markup

To turn News content into a Google Action, you’ll need to meet the following requirements.

Have a dedicated news site:

  • Use static, unique URLs
  • Content must be original
  • Ads, affiliate links, and sponsored content should be kept to a minimum
  • Consider using a news-specific XML site map for easy crawling

Here’s an example of News markup in JSON-LD:

Markup vs. templates

In addition to markups, Google introduced another simplified way to create Actions for the Google Assistant: templates. While this option isn’t automated like the Google Action schema approach, there’s no code involved in the template process, either.

Users can quickly create an action by filling out a Google Sheet, although this option only extends to four content types: personality quizzes, flashcards, trivia and how-to videos. How-to videos must be uploaded to YouTube to be eligible.

According to the developers’ page, getting started is relatively simple. All you need to do is complete the following steps:

  • First, select the type of Action you’d like to create (in this case, let’s assume it’s a how-to video).
  • Indicate what kind of personality you’d like to have
  • Add steps via Google sheets. These are written instructions that correspond with the steps followed in the video. It should look like this:
Source

Claim your new action

If you’ve already published your content with relevant structured data, Google may automatically create a page in the Assistant directory.

If this happens, the site owner will receive an email prompting them to claim the page. You can also do this by visiting the directory itself and clicking the link to claim the page.

Remove your action

Because Google auto-generates content Actions, you may end up with some unwanted Actions in the directory. To remove them, all you need to do is follow these three quick steps:

  1. Log in to the Actions console and select the unwanted project from the displayed tiles.
  2. Head over to the Versions section, found on the Overview page. Find the published version of your project and click on the Overflow menu.
  3. Select “Unpublish” and that’s it.

Wrapping up

Smart devices and voice search are becoming increasingly valuable pieces of the SEO landscape, and Google Actions offer a new point of entry for brands looking to increase visibility in the organic search results.

This latest update makes Google Actions accessible to a broader range of marketers who may not have the time or the know-how to build an Action from scratch.

The post How to use Schema to create a Google Action appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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What killing rel=prev/next means for SEO /what-killing-relprev-next-means-for-seo-314967 Thu, 04 Apr 2019 20:00:07 +0000 /?p=314967 Make sure it's clear to Google which page is your Page One – and don't sweat the legacy code.

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By now, you’ve probably heard that Google is no longer supporting rel=prev/next markup. In fact, Google hasn’t supported it for years.

That’s unfortunate because Google forgot to tell anybody. Many digital strategists were implementing rel=prev/next code thinking that it would offer some SEO benefit.

It did at one time. It doesn’t anymore.

So what happened? And what should you do now?

In this article, I’ll go over Google’s recent announcement about the change. I’ll also explain what the elimination of rel=prev/next means for SEO.

How we got here

Way back in 2011, Google introduced the rel=prev/next markup. It was a way to inform Googlebot that the web page was part of a series.

For example, if you wrote several blog posts about all the SEO basics, you might include one article about keyword research, another article about on-site SEO, another article about backlinking, and so on.

In that case, you’d use the rel=prev/next markup to identify the next and previous articles in the series.

It wasn’t just a good idea for blog posts, though. E-commerce sites used the markup to identify products that all belonged to the same category.

Until recently, Google included documentation on its Webmasters Help page that explicitly told website owners to use the rel=prev/next markup. It read as follows:

Use rel=”next” and rel=”prev” links or headers to indicate the relationship between component URLs. This markup provides a strong hint to Google that you would like us to treat these pages as a logical sequence, thus consolidating their linking properties and usually sending searchers to the first page.

Now, that whole page is gone. Even worse: Google deleted it without telling anybody why.

Eventually, the Google Webmasters official Twitter account issued the following statement:

“Spring cleaning! As we evaluated our indexing signals, we decided to retire rel=prev/next. Studies show that users love single-page content, aim for that when possible, but multi-part is also fine for Google Search. Know and do what’s best for *your* users!”

Do you need to remove the code from your site?

No, you absolutely don’t need to remove the rel=prev/next markup from your site if you have it there.

Why? Because simply put, it doesn’t hurt to leave it there.

Also, Google isn’t the only search engine in town. And Bing’s Frédéric Dubut is on record saying that his search engine still uses rel=prev/next markup “for page discovery and site structure understanding.”

So the good news here is that you don’t need to go back and update all your old pages that have been using the markup since 2011.

Whew.

But should you? That is a different question which gets a little tricky. I’ve considered this previously and did a study on it.

What does this change mean for SEO?

Before I answer that question, let me make one thing clear: it looks like no SEO professional noticed that Google discontinued supporting the rel=prev/next markup from an indexing standpoint.

It wasn’t until someone saw that the Big G had pulled the documentation page that people started asking questions.

So maybe we should ask the philosophical question: “If Google removed a feature and nobody noticed, was it ever really there?”

But what it means is that Google will index the category page instead of the pagination going forward.

That’s not a problem, though. According to Google Web Performance Engineer Ilya Grigorik, Googlebot is intelligent enough to find your next/previous pages with a clear signal.

Remember: the bot is already evaluating all the links on your site. If you’ve structured your website so that it’s user-friendly and practiced great internal linking, Google will find your related content and rank it.

A few tips on category optimization

Now that rel=prev/next has gone away, what can you do to optimize your category pages? Here are a few pointers.

First, make sure you have most of your content on the first page in the category. That’s going to help with indexing. By content, I mean text, images and videos.

Not only that, but it will help with indexing for the right search terms. Once people get to your category page, they can find other pages.

Next, optimize your featured image on your main category page. Yes, I’m recommending you have a thumbnail that is optimized with a keyword in the file name and alt text. That gives Google additional info about the nature of your pages.

Also, optimized images will bring in traffic from Google Image Search.

After that, you should also add as many items to your category page as possible without slowing it down too much.

That one can be tricky in some instances. What if you have 10,000 items in a single category?

See if you can break them up into subcategories. Then, include one representative from each subcategory on the category page.

When considering e-commerce, lately I like to have about 30 to 60 products in a category. I also will not create a subcategory unless I have five unique products.

The million dollar question, do you get rid of rel next rel prev?

Well, since there is already a canonical in place, Google will just attribute all the value to the first page. So you have the option of.

  1. Keep it in place and have it work just like a rel canonical.
  2. Get rid of rel next rel prev and have it treated the same way, but don’t worry about legacy code.
  3. Put in place a no index on all the pages except the category. Some people like this because if you do the no index or a robots.txt block it can save some crawl budget, meaning Google will not crawl the pagination as much.

Personally, I like option 2.

Wrapping it up

I could give you 20 more tips about optimizing categories in this article. Things like adding dates to titles, testing numbers in various items in the template, where to add schema and adding unique content. But I’ll save that for another post.

What you need to know today is that Google messed up and forgot to tell you that it’s no longer supporting rel=prev/next markup. That’s not the end of the world.

Feel free to leave the markup code on your site or select another option above. The choice is up to you. But one thing is for sure, make sure you make it clear to Google which page is Page One. That will help your rankings.

The post What killing rel=prev/next means for SEO appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Back to Basics: A beginners guide to voice search and digital assistants in 2019 /back-to-basics-a-beginners-guide-to-voice-search-and-digital-assistants-in-2019-314010 Thu, 14 Mar 2019 18:17:18 +0000 /?p=314010 Here's a roundup of the various digital assistants on the market today with some beginner tips on how to optimize for voice search.

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Correction: This article was updated on Jan. 16 to remove the now-debunked prediction that 50% of all searches will be conducted by voice in 2020.

Voice search isn’t only here to stay, it’s on the rise. Is your website optimized for spoken queries? If not, then you could lose market share to competitors whose websites are optimized for voice search. Good news, though, that’s a problem you can start fixing today.

In this article, I’ll explain the various types of digital assistants and what to do to get your site ready for voice search. If you want to learn more, I’ll be talking about voice search in more detail at SMX Advanced in Seattle on June 5.

Voice search is the new mobile

Many webmasters were caught off-guard when the mobile revolution arrived (almost overnight). They thought their “old school” websites would rank just fine in response to a query on a smartphone. Then they learned the hard way that wasn’t the case and started optimizing their sites for mobile platforms.

If you follow the trendline, that means there will be more voice searches than keyboard searches after 2020.

But what kinds of devices are people using to perform voice searches?

Google Assistant

Google Assistant is the app you download and install on your smartphone. It’s the one that answers to the call, “Hey, Google?”

Unsurprisingly, Google Assistant uses the Google search index to get answers to your queries. It will deliver a verbal response based on the info that it receives. In other words, Google Assistant does the Googling for you. Additionally, you can extend the functionality of Google Assistant with Google Actions.

Google Actions empower you to handle tasks via a conversational interface. For example, if you want to turn the lights on in your home, you’d do that with Google Actions.

However, if you want to use Google Actions, keep in mind the following key points:

  • People may give commands using different words or phrases. Be sure to prepare for that.
  • Folks might need some assistance. Include a help section.
  • Users love personalization. Accept preferences (such as time zone, zip code, etc.) to offer a more personalized experience.

There is a Google Actions Console for Google Actions, just like there is a Google Search Console for your website. In the Google Actions Console, there are templates you can use to build Google Actions. Think of a Google Action like an app for Google Assistant.

Google Home or Google Home Hub

What is Google Home? It’s a standalone device that uses Google Assistant. While Google Assistant itself is an app you download, Google Home ships with Assistant installed.

Google Home is basically a small speaker. Google Home Hub, on the other hand, has a screen. That’s helpful if you want to know how to julienne a carrot and have trouble following along with only verbal directions. Google Home Hub will show you a video so you can see exactly how it’s done.

Really important: Google Home Hub is closely integrated with Google products so make sure you are optimizing using these entities. At Google’s recent I/O event they made it clear YouTube videos would be front in center in Home Hub and the device has special formatting for these videos. With how-to searches on the rise in YouTube, it’s important that you are on the platform to answer questions around your business.

In general, the Google Assistant pulls data from Google properties first – maps, YouTube, rich results, knowledge graph, etc., so it’s essential to align with Google assets.

Amazon Alexa

Amazon Alexa is similar to Google Assistant. The key difference, of course, is that it’s produced by Amazon instead of Google. Unsurprisingly, one of the best features of Amazon Alexa is that you can use it to shop on Amazon and place orders. However, it’s also a digital assistant that will answer your queries. Alexa gets its information from the Bing search engine. This makes it critical to use Bing Webmaster Tools and Bing properties to optimize your content. Amazon also allows developers to create their own voice apps with Alexa Skills.

Here’s how Amazon explains Alexa Skills: “When a user speaks to a device with Alexa, the speech is streamed to the Alexa service in the cloud. Alexa recognizes the speech, determines what the user wants, and then sends a structured request to the particular skill that can fulfill the user’s request. All speech recognition and conversion are handled by Alexa in the cloud.”

Amazon Echo

If Amazon Alexa is like Google Assistant, then Amazon Echo is like Google Home. It’s the smart speaker that people use to access Amazon Alexa. You might think that Amazon copied the idea from Google. If so, you’d be wrong. Amazon pioneered the smart speaker concept back in 2014. Google is still playing catch-up. Amazon also offers home assistants with displays with their Echo Dot and Echo Show.

Apple Siri

If you own an iPhone, then you already know that Apple Siri is embedded into it. All you have to do is hold the home button and give Siri a command. Unlike some of its peers, Siri doesn’t respond to voice queries with audible answers. Instead, it returns mobile search results.

As of now, Siri is only available on iOS platforms. Apple also lets you create Siri Shortcuts which are voice-activated apps similar to Amazon Skills and Google Actions. You can use Siri Shortcuts to handle everyday tasks, such as ordering coffee. Siri also remembers your routines across apps and displays helpful suggestions on the lock screen or in search.

Apple offers SiriKit, a tool that enables your iOS apps and watchOS apps to work with Siri. Use it to give users voice access to your apps.

Apple HomePod

Apple’s answer to Google Home and Amazon Alexa is the Apple HomePod. It wasn’t released until June 2017. In other words, it’s way behind in its development. Still, the HomePod has features you’d expect. It can answer questions and help out around the house. However, Apple hasn’t yet produced a smart display for its in-home assistant.

Microsoft Cortana

“Cortana lets you achieve more while doing less.” That’s Microsoft’s boast about its intelligent assistant. Unsurprisingly, Microsoft Cortana retrieves the info that it uses to answer questions from Bing, Microsoft’s search engine.

However, Microsoft doesn’t offer native apps for Cortana. Instead, it uses Alexa Skills. So if you want to create an app for Cortana, you need to develop an Alexa Skill.

How to optimize for voice search

Now that you know a little bit about the different devices that people are using for voice search let’s look at some ways that you can optimize your site so that it’s used as a reference by the Google Assistant. Do do that, you need to get rich results in Google or be in Google properties. Here are just a few tips.

Focus on conversational questions – Although it’s a great idea to optimize for abbreviated search terms like “content marketing important,” that’s not going to cut it with voice search. Instead, optimize for the full question, such as: “Why is content marketing important in 2019?” Keep your responses to 40 to 50 characters as these surface the most in voice responses.

Optimize for featured snippets – Put whole questions as H2 subheaders so they’ll more likely get mined for the coveted Rank 0 position. Also, include FAQs in your content. Finally, remember to keep your answers brief — quality raters like short answers from voice assistants.

Don’t forget Local SEO – People use digital assistants to find local businesses all the time. Make sure your site is optimized for local search.

Focus on page speed – According to a study by Backlinko, page speed could affect your chances of getting a response to a voice query. Make sure your site loads quickly. There is a lot more to it and this is just a start. Keep in mind, this is just for Google. The methodology is different for each assistant.

Wrapping it up

If you’re looking for “the next big thing,” it’s probably voice search. Make sure your site is optimized for audible queries. Otherwise, your business might struggle for market share. Get started today.

The post Back to Basics: A beginners guide to voice search and digital assistants in 2019 appeared first on Search Engine Land.

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Google Merchant Center to deliver real-time search results /google-merchant-center-to-deliver-real-time-search-results-313226 Fri, 01 Mar 2019 13:00:39 +0000 /?p=313226 The information in Shopping Ads is now available to all retailers (free of cost) and can be submitted directly to Google in real-time, not just by adding schema markup to your site.

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Google Merchant Center is a tool and central dashboard where online retailers can upload store and product data and manage the appearance of their e-commerce products. Perhaps its biggest benefit is that the feed is uploaded directly to Google in real-time, ensuring that all information displayed is accurate at the time of a given search.

This data was used to primarily to power Google Shopping Ads, which meant that the benefits of the merchant center were not readily available to non-AdWords users. Retailers generally relied on schema markup to display information in rich results and rich product image results. Information displayed usually included ratings, price, availability, etc.

But in its latest news, Google announced that it would be opening up its merchant center capabilities to all online retailers, regardless of whether they run AdWords campaigns. This comes after its recent updates to the product report in Search Console and improvements to product visibility through Google Manufacturer Center.

So why is the merchant center update important?

It’s important because all that detailed information in Shopping Ads is now available to all retailers (free of cost) and eligible to be viewed in organic search and image results. That information can also be submitted directly to Google in real-time, not just by adding schema markup to your site.

This gives retailers better control over how their products appear online to help customers better find the relevant information they need.

Google also stated that product data would be ranked based only on relevance to users’ queries. We can assume that it will be treated similarly to rich results by choosing information to display that it believes is best suited to each user and query (based on search history, location, etc.).

This change is great news for online retailers and highlights two major departures from the previous version of the merchant center:

  • Retailers no longer need an AdWords account to upload product information
  • There’s no cost associated with it

For any brands looking to add relevant information to their listings without running a shopping campaign, this is the way to do it.

The expansion is starting in the U.S. with support for other countries coming later in the year.

Don’t have a merchant center account? Here’s how to set one up

To get started, you’ll first need to create a merchant center account. This is free of charge and requires and doesn’t require an associated Google AdWords account.

You will need an existing Google account, or to create a new one.

Then, head to the Google Merchant Center page to begin set up.

You’ll be asked to enter in basic business details like location, name, and website URL.

Then, you’ll need to verify and claim your website. If you haven’t verified your website with Google before, you’ll need to do so either by HTML file upload, HTML tag, Google Analytics or Google Tag Manager.

Note that all websites must comply with the Merchant Center Guidelines.

Now here’s the fun part: the product feed. (Okay, it’s not that fun, but it’s important).

To get started, go to the “Feeds” section under “Products” in your Merchant Center. To create a new Primary Feed (required), click the + button

Remember, your feed is a digital listing of all the products you’re selling online. It will contain quite a bit of detail regarding your products, like title, description, URL, price and image URL. You can find a complete list of eligible attributes in the product feed here. Keep in mind that some of these attributes are required.

These feeds are submitted either in TXT (.txt) or XML (.xml) format. If you go the XML route, you may require the help of a developer. TXT is generally easier for creating a feed.

Once you’ve submitted your Feed, it’s a waiting game. Google processing could take up to 24 hours.

But when it’s done, Google will start pulling information from your feed straight to search and image results.

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Angular Universal: What you need to know for SEO /angular-universal-what-you-need-to-know-for-seo-311437 Fri, 01 Feb 2019 14:53:16 +0000 /?p=311437 Learn the five steps to make Angular play nicely with search engine bots and index your site.

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If you use Angular to power your website, then you have an extra hurdle to cross when it comes to SEO. Fortunately, Angular Universal makes it easy to leap over it.

Keep in mind that “easy” is a relative term here. There’s quite a bit of technical wizardry involved.

You’ll almost certainly need to get a development team involved.

But once the finished product is delivered, your site will serve optimized pages that search engines will easily locate and index.

In this guide, I’ll explain Angular Universal and why it’s important to marketers.

The SEO problem

Angular is a fantastic framework for delivering modular, user-friendly web apps. Unfortunately, it’s a bit hostile to SEO.

That’s for two reasons.

First, Angular relies heavily on script to deliver content. As a result, some search bots don’t “see” the content that a user sees.

Take a look at the Angular Universal documentation. That page is, unsurprisingly, rendered with Angular.

As you scroll down, you’ll see quite a bit of content. You’d think it’s all indexable.

Not necessarily. Right-click on the page and select “View page source” from the context menu that appears.

There are only 100 lines of source code. Nowhere in there will you see the content that you saw when you viewed the page normally.

That, in a nutshell, is the problem with Angular. Human visitors will see the content, but search bots will see the source.

And the source doesn’t have the content!

There’s another SEO problem: speed. Angular apps often don’t load quickly.

Some sites will display a blank screen for a couple of seconds before showing the home page. That can cause visitors to bail as they get impatient.

Site speed is a mobile ranking factor so your rank will take a hit if your site doesn’t load quickly on mobile platforms.

But Google says…

Google claims its bot can index script-driven sites. There’s plenty of evidence to support that, but it doesn’t mean you can avoid going the extra mile when optimizing an Angular site.

For starters, Google isn’t the only search engine in town. If you want your Angular app to rank on Bing and DuckDuckGo, you’ll have to take steps to make that happen.

Next, it may be the case that Google can index some Angular sites, but not yours. Not all Angular apps are created equal. Yours might be the exception to Google’s indexing algorithm.

In my experience, sites that move from HTML to Angular loose massive traffic from search engine a majority of the time. In fact, I’ve had three clients come in over the last year where we had to fix the site back up after the drops due to Angular.

There are solutions

Fortunately, there are ways to make your Angular site SEO friendly.

One of the more popular options is to use dynamic rendering. That’s when you use a tool like Puppeteer to generate static HTML files that web crawlers can more easily consume.

Then, configure your web server to direct search bots to the pre-rendered pages while human visitors navigate around the normal Angular app.

That’s a decent solution, but it still doesn’t address the speed issue. For that, you’ll probably want to go with Angular Universal.

What is Angular Universal?

Angular Universal runs your web app on the server as opposed to running it in the browser.

That’s an important distinction. Normally, Angular apps are client-side applications.

The problem for search bots is that they don’t always “process” client-side code like your browser does when it serves you a web page. That’s why you saw a discrepancy between the Angular Universal documentation page and its source code.

Angular Universal handles server-side rendering (SSR). It pre-renders the HTML and CSS content shown to the user ahead of time.

That means a user will load a static HTML page instead of client-side code. As a result, the page will load more quickly.

Also, because it’s static HTML, search bots can index the content.

Everybody wins.

Why it’s important

If you’re into digital marketing, then you already know that much of the battle involves gaining exposure online. That’s why you reach out to influencers, post updates on social media and optimize your site to rank well.

Simply put: your site can’t rank if it can’t get indexed. If Angular is powering your website, you need to take extra steps to make sure that its content appears in search engines.

That’s why you need an Angular Universal solution.

The downside, of course, is that it’s going to cost money. You’ll need to hire a qualified development team to add SSR to your website.

That’s an expense that should more than pay for itself over time if your site ranks well for key search terms related to your niche.

How to run an Angular App on Angular Universal

If you’re somebody who likes to get your hands dirty with code, or you’d just like to save on development costs, you can deploy a server-side app on your own.

Before you do that, it’s best if you have a basic understanding of Angular, the command-line interface (CLI), TypeScript, and web servers. Otherwise, you’ll likely struggle.

The steps to deploy a Angular Universal app are as follows:

  • Install the necessary dependencies
  • Update the Angular app
  • Use the CLI to build a Universal bundle
  • Set up the server to run a Universal bundle
  • Run the app on the server

There’s quite a bit going on in those five steps, so I’ll cover them each in turn in the following sections.

Install the dependencies

If you have any experience with Angular, then you already know about Node.js. That’s the runtime that transpiles the TypeScript code into a JavaScript app.

Node.js comes with a package manager, unimaginatively named Node Package Manager or npm for short. You’ll use that to install the dependencies.

Fire up your command line window and run the following code:

npm install –save @angular/platform-server @nguniversal/module-map-ngfactory-loader ts-loader

Give it a few moments (or many moments) to install everything.

Update your Angular App

Next, you’ll need to prepare your Angular app for Universal deployment. That involves four steps:

  • Add Universal support. Open your root module (usually AppModule) and add an application ID to the BrowserModule import. You’ll do that in the “imports” section just below the @NgModule declaration.
  • Create the server root module.Next, you need to create a new module named AppServerModule. Make sure it imports ServerModule from the platform-server dependency that you added in the previous step.
  • Create the main file. You’ll need a main file for your Universal bundle. Create that in the root (in the src folder) and export the AppServerModule class from that file.
  • Create a config file. The AppServerModule class needs a config file. Create one in JSON format. It should look something like this:

Create a new build target

Your Angular source directory should include a file named angular.json. You’ll need to update that file in the “architect” section.

It will look something like this:

“architect”: {
 “build”: { … }
 “server”: {
   “builder”: “@angular-devkit/build-angular:server”,
   “options”: {
     “outputPath”: “dist/my-project-server”,
     “main”: “src/main.server.ts”,
     “tsConfig”: “src/tsconfig.server.json”
   }
 }
}

Note the “builder” attribute four lines down. The value after the colon (“server”) is the name of the server. You can update that if you want to name it something else.

Now, you can build your app. Assuming you kept the server named “server,” just head over to your command line and type the following:

ng run my-project:server

You should see output that looks something like this:

Date: 2018-12-12T12:42:09.601Z
Hash: 1caced0e9434007fd7ac
Time: 4122ms
chunk {0} main.js (main) 9.49 kB [entry] [rendered]
chunk {1} styles.css (styles) 0 bytes [entry] [rendered]

Set up the server

Next, you need to set up a Universal server to run the bundle. That’s how you’ll serialize the app and return it to the browser.

To make that happen, create a new file called server.ts. Within that file, you’ll define your app engine.

The details of that code are a little bit outside the scope of this tutorial. Feel free to take a look at the example in the Angular Universal docs.

Run the app on the server

After all of that, you’re finally at a point where you can run the app on the server.

To do that, set up a webpack that handles the server.ts file you created in the previous step.

Name the config file webpack.server.config.js. Once again, check out the Angular Universal docs for the exact kind of code that belongs in the file. You might need to adapt that code to your own naming convention.

Once you’re done with the file, you’ll have two folders under the dist folder: browser and server.

To run the server code, just type the following at the command line:

node dist/server.js

Congratulations! You’re now running server-side code.

Wrapping it up

Although Angular enables developers to rapidly produce high-quality applications, it doesn’t always play nicely with the search engine bots.

Fortunately, Angular Universal can pre-render Angular app pages as static HTML so they’re discoverable and indexable. They’ll also load quicker.

It has always been my recommendation to have an HTML base and use Angular to deliver the other elements on the page. I’ve been making this recommendation about anything JavaScript related since 2010. This process of Angular Universal is the same principal. I can’t tell you have many sites Angular and JavaScript redesigns have destroyed. Be careful with yours and always get it vetting by an SEO company before launch.

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How do you optimize for Google Discover? /how-do-you-optimize-for-google-discover-309244 Mon, 10 Dec 2018 13:00:29 +0000 /?p=309244 Brands will need to focus more on the quality of the content they produce as well as its audience engagement.

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Google Discover is, essentially, Google’s take on the popular social media feed.

In fact, until very recently, Discover was actually called Google Feed.

Like other feeds, Google’s comes in the form of a series of cards meant to keep users up to date on the stories that matter most to them.

The feed, which is based off a user’s browser history (pay attention to that marketing people), indicated interests, and machine learning, marks a new phase in Google search – one that doesn’t actually require any searching on the user’s part.

Rather than relying on user’s to enter in a typical search, the Discover feed gives users information before they even search for it.

And with over 800 million users, the Feed has proved to be a hit.

As Google continues its efforts to make search as seamless as possible, it debuted a slew of new features coming by the end of the year.

One of them was the revamped Google Feed, now called Discover.

Updates to the Discover feed include:

  • New look: The design has been completely redone, with an emphasis on visual content. And now, each post will come with a clickable topic header and Discover icon. When clicked on, it will display related content.
  • Updated content:  Before, most of the content surfaced in the Feed was news coverage, but with the launch of Discover Google announced its plans to include more evergreen content (content isn’t new, but may be new to you). Based on your search history, it will also pull content based on your experience with a certain subject (ex. If you’re a beginner at guitar, it will show you beginner material)
  • More control: At the bottom of each card, you can indicate whether you’d like to see more or less of a particular kind of content.
  • Discover on the homepage: Previously, Google Feed was accessible through the Google mobile app, but now Google plans to show the Discover feed on all google.com mobile browsers.

Optimizing for Google Discover

Google Discover represents a major shift in how people use the search engine. Mainly, users no longer have to rely on their own search queries to find the topics most relevant to them.

For brands, it represents a shift in SEO.

Without search queries, keyword optimization won’t be enough to rank your content in Discover. But the good news is this – a lot of the same SEO rules still apply.

Here are a few to keep in mind.

Create quality, engaging content

As always, a focus on creating high-quality content that addresses the needs of your readers is crucial to surfacing content in Discover. But in addition to quality, you’ll need to focus on garnering engagement for your content.

Think about your typical social media feed. It’s dictated, in large part, but what you and your friends or followers have interacted with most in the past. It makes sense, then, that the Discover Feed will rely on a similar principle.

The key difference here is this: Discover doesn’t take what any friends or followers like or share into consideration. It relies solely on the content you’ve engaged with most and this makes building relationships with your users more important than ever.

Think of ways you can encourage your leads and customers to engage – through email marketing personalization, loyalty perks, social media shout-outs, etc.

Use images and video to rank in Google Discover

In its announcement, Google pointed out that users would be seeing more images and fresh visual content in the Discover feed. This means for content to surface, it should include high-quality images (and relevant thumbnail image) and be translated to video when possible.

Create both new and evergreen content

For your best bet at being pulled into user’s Discover feeds, you’ll want to focus on creating a mix of content. As Google said, they’ll be focusing on both fresher, newsworthy content as well as evergreen content.

Make sure your editorial calendar includes room for both, and that you’re updating any existing evergreen pieces.

Build trustworthy content

Using social media feeds as a model, another key factor we can take away is the emphasis they place on the trustworthiness of a source.

Facebook, in particular, has cracked down hard, only ranking “high-quality news” in its latest algorithm update.

For Google, it likely means that the more trustworthy your content is rated, the more likely it is to appear in Discover.

To build trustworthiness in Google’s eyes, it all comes down to your site authority. And your authority, of course, all goes back to the quality of your content.

It doesn’t hurt to have a link strategy in place aimed at getting backlinks from high-quality websites, either.

Multiple languages

It should also be noted that Google Discover is available in multiple languages and Google has plans to roll out more.

Wrapping up Google Discover

So think of it this way, Google Discover shows content if you interact with it. All you need to do, is get someone to interact with your content and you will have the potential to show the feed.

  • Get ranked high for SEO
  • Run promoted content ads and get engagement
  • Send out content in email newsletters
  • Promote, promote, promote

Google’s latest represents a new way to rank and optimize content for the SERPs.

Brands need to keep in mind that in order to optimize for Discover, they’ll need to focus more on the quality of the content they produce and promotion.

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