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One of the best ways to discover keyword opportunities for pay-per-click advertising campaigns, content marketing topics, and search engine optimization is to identify which keyword phrases your company’s competitors are ranking for on popular search engines.

Thanks in part to keyword analysis tools such as Ahrefs, SEMrush, SpyFu, and Moz’s Keyword Explorer, it is easy to identify competitors, see which keyword phrases they are successful with, and find opportunities to grow your own business.

In this article, I’ll address a few ways to identify the keywords that may be working well for your competitors. In all cases, I’ll assume we are researching for a hypothetical farm and ranch supply retailer, and we will use Tractor Supply, which is perhaps the largest farm and ranch chain in the United States, as our competitor.

Organic Keywords

Let’s start by looking for some of the keyword phrases Tractor Supply ranks for organically. For this example, we’ll use Ahrefs.

The Ahrefs’ Site Explorer estimated that Tractor Supply is ranking for about 1.3 million organic keywords.

One quick search on Ahrefs and we learn that Tractor Supply ranks for about 1.3 million keywords.

 

We can dig a little deeper with the tool’s organic keyword report. This report can be filtered by position on a typical search engine results page, the estimated monthly search volume, the keyword difficulty, and several other factors.

Let’s only consider keyword phrases for which Tractor Supply ranks in the top five positions on a typical SERP. We’ll filter further, returning only phrases that get about 5,000 searches or more per month, and, lastly, we want to target keywords with a relatively low keyword difficulty score of 20 or below, meaning they may be relatively easy to target.

We discover 259 keyword phrases that meet our criteria. Here are a few examples.

Keyword Phrase Volume Difficulty Position
“Coveralls for men” 6,400 7 3
“Air compressor” 112,000 18 4
“Muck boots” 77,000 6 5

If we carry these products, we may be able to rank for them pretty quickly, possibly displacing our competitor in one of these positions.

We could make “Muck boots” a focus of our SEO efforts, develop content around Muck Boots (which is a brand name), or we could consider the term for a PPC campaign.

PPC Keywords

Having identified good organic keywords, we may be interested to learn which phrases our competitor buys. We’ll use SpyFu to identify those phrases.

SpyFu focuses specifically on competitors and helps us discover which keywords Tractor Supply buys for its pay-per-click campaigns.

The tool informs us that Tractor Supply had 61,223 paid keywords. It is generating about 772,000 PPC clicks each month on an investment of around $385,000.

If we start to look at the individual keywords Tractor Supply purchases, we can see that it is buying “waterproof work boots.” The phrase is driving around 12,000 visitors to the Tractor Supply site at the cost of around $3,180 per month.

We can identify the individual keyword phrases and learn a lot about how they might perform.

This information is interesting because “Muck boots,” one of the keyword phrases we identified in the previous section, is a brand of waterproof work boots.

If Ahrefs and SpyFu are correct, Tractor Supply may be driving a lot of traffic to this category of products. In turn, this may be an indication of buying intent. We don’t know for certain, but it may be that shoppers who search for “Muck boots” or “waterproof work boots” do so because their feet are getting wet and they want a solution. Targeting these keywords or similar ones might lead not just to site traffic, but also to sales.

Keywords from Top Pages

A third technique for mining keywords from competitors is to look at a competitor’s best-performing pages and learn which keyword phrases are driving the traffic.

This data can be uncovered with SEMrush’s Organic Research Pages report or Ahrefs’ Hot Pages report, among others. The Ahrefs tool, as an example, listed thousands of individual pages from the Tractor Supply website, including the Muck Boots brand landing page, which was ranking for 863 keyword phrases and earning around 9,400 monthly visitors.

We can examine a competitor’s top performing pages, reviewing the individual keyword phrases those pages support.

We can look through the list of associated keyword phrase and find opportunities. “Muck boots for women” could be a good niche page or the topic of a blog post that featured the styles our store carries for women.

We can use this approach repeatedly to generate a long list of good keyword phrases that may represent buying intent.

Repeat the Process

With just a bit of research, we have several potential keyword opportunities taken from a competitor’s keyword profile. But we don’t have to stop with just one competitor.

Even if we are just familiar with a few competitors, we can generate a list of potential subjects using the very same tools that help us identify their keywords.

We can use SEMrush to generate a list of potential competitors. Tractor Supply, our imagined competitor throughout this article, is just the beginning as we can identify many similar companies using SEMrush’s competitors’ report. For each competitor, there will likely be unique keyword opportunities.

 

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Sourced from PracticalEcommerce

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Publishing content at scale is a painstaking task, even when it’s a labor of love. Beyond publishing insightful content, writers, editors and administrators need to ensure the content going live meets the search engine optimization (SEO) standards set by the likes of Google, Bing and DuckDuckGo in order to rank high and rake in traffic. On the other hand, they also need to ensure that spelling, grammar and code tidiness is all arranged in order to avoid penalties and general visitor frustration.

To help make that process smoother, CMSWire has this lis of SEO tools from two authoritative websites, Capterra and G2 Crowd.

1. Google Keyword Planner

Let’s start with an oldie, but a goodie. Google Keyword Planner is a tried and tested tool for search engine optimizers looking to target specific keywords with the content they write, whether it be blog posts, white papers or website page copy. Currently, Google Keyword Planner lets you pull the following data.

  • New keywords using a phrase, website or category
  • Search volume for data and trends
  • Multiply keyword lists to get new keywords
  • Find monthly search volumes for each given keyword or phrase, along with the competition level (low, medium or high).
  • Discover the average bidding price for keywords for Google Adwords.

Related Article: Top 10 Things to Measure in Google Analytics in 2018

2. Ahrefs

Ahrefs lets users perform keyword research, competitor analysis, backlink research, content research, web page rank tracking and backlink tracking, which notifies users when their competitors gain or lose a backlink. The platform claims to have indexed over 12 trillion links, which it adds to by crawling 6 billion web pages every day.

3. SEO Spider by Screaming Frog

SEO Spider is a free SEO software that allows users to crawl URLs and fetch key onsite elements to analyze onsite SEO. It collects data relating to your website’s images, links, code, and meta descriptions to give you a comprehensive SEO audit that you can use to optimize your website for search engines. You can also export your SEO audit in spreadsheet form, or keep them digital for speedy access.

Related Article: Talent Analytics: What It Is And Why It Matters

4. SEMRush

SEMRush is an all-in-one marketing tool that lets users research the keywords that their competitors focus on, discover new competitors, conduct backlink analysis and explore keyword options with multi-lingual and multi-national contexts. SEMRush users can also use the tool to carry out research on competitor ad campaigns and the keywords used therein.

5. Moz Pro

Moz Pro equips content creators with a powerful keyword research and planning tool. Plus, it helps administrators track their site’s local and national search rank, as well as giving them a Moz-generated ‘Search Visibility score’. The tool also suggests other websites that you can reach out to for backlinks based on metrics like page and domain authority.

6. Spyfu

Spyfu allows users to download their competitor’s most profitable keywords and ads for paid and organic search. In fact, Spyfu lives up to its name by letting users search for any domain and see every place a brand has shown up on Google, every keyword they’ve bought on Adwords, every organic rank, and every ad variation in the last 11 years.

7. RavenTools

Last but not least on our list is RavenTools, an SEO audit and marketing reporting tool that’s designed for agencies, but can be used by any brand looking to analyze their SEO, PPC and social media progress. On top of auditing your site regularly for crawl issues, Mobile UX issues and other common SEO pitfalls, RavenTools can access more than twenty data connectors, including Google Analytics, Google AdWords, Search Analytics from Google Search Console, Bing Ads, Facebook Ads and Twitter, compiling the data into automated reports.

What’s your go-to search engine optimization tool?

Feature Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Sourced from CMS Wire

Sourced from Scholarship Media

I’m a senior in college getting ready to graduate with a degree in English. I’m extremely lucky because I’ve already been offered a job as a junior copywriter at a digital ad agency in Boston. Truth be told, I landed the interview thanks to my uncle, who worked there for years. It’s very exciting.

That being said, I’m also nervous about it because most of my academic experience is in classical literature and creative fiction. In fact, almost all of my best writing is captured in short stories. My roommate, who interned at a PR agency, said that writing for the web is much different.

As I began to do research, I realized she was right. Worse is that writing for the web seems way more technical than I expected, especially what everyone calls “SEO.” It’s obviously too late to take classes for these things. I don’t necessarily know that I’ll be writing for the web but it makes sense to know, right? How should I get started?

You shouldn’t be too worried, since you’ve already been offered a job. The agency is likely to provide you with all the coaching you need, but that shouldn’t stop you from doing research. Taking the initiative will definitely pay off.

The first thing to do is understand the basic difference between copywriting and content writing. As the author explains, copywriting is at its core about selling an idea or an experience directly related to a branded product or service. Content writing is about informing, educating, and/or educating users. Both forms of writing strive to motivate users toward action and/or influence their thought process. Working at a digital ad agency is likely to present opportunities to develop both skills.

Something else to consider is the impact of collaborating with clients for the first time. Whereas client interaction isn’t always necessary with content writing, it’s a major aspect of successful copywriting. An author at Forbes shared five tips for managing client expectations, which are almost universally applicable. The key takeaway is to rely on effective communication. Fortunately, professional copywriting means you’ll have plenty of chances to refine your communication skills.

It’s a wise decision to learn more about search engine optimization (SEO) since it remains an extremely important investment for businesses. And despite what you might have assumed, it’s not all that difficult to understand. A contributing author at Clutch.co succinctly covers the basics in his beginner’s guide to SEO. Everything boils down to website structure and backlink profile. In other words, how a website is designed and organized is just as important as who reads it and decides to cite it as a reliable source. The two are intrinsically related.

You’d be hard-pressed to find a person or group that couldn’t benefit from positive SEO. Thanks to the digital age, businesses can now tap into global talent. For instance, a growing startup based in Singapore could leverage SEO in Brisbane to help them establish a digital presence for a recently launched production facility. It’s possible that you could experience something similar while working at your own digital agency.

The last thing to remember is not to underestimate the value of creative writing. While short stories might seem irrelevant, you’d be surprised how well the experience can translate. Your copywriting career will depend on sharing ideas and people crave a compelling narrative.

Sourced from Scholarship Media

 

Search engine optimization (SEO) very much revolves around Google today. However, the practice we now know as SEO actually pre-dates the world’s most popular search engine co-founded by Larry Page and Sergey Brin.

Although it could be argued that SEO and all things search engine marketing began with the launch of the first website published in 1991, or perhaps when the first web search engine launched, the story of SEO “officially” begins a bit later, around 1997.

According to Bob Heyman, author of “Digital Engagement,” we can thank none other than the manager of rock band Jefferson Starship for helping give birth to a new field that we would grow to know as “search engine optimization.”

You see, he was quite upset that the official Jefferson Starship website was ranking on Page 4 of some search engine at the time, rather than in Position 1 on Page 1.

Granted, we may never know if this tale is more revisionist history or 100 percent fact, all signs definitely point to the term SEO originating around 1997.

Do a little more hunting around and you’ll see John Audette of Multimedia Marketing Group was using the term as early as February 15, 1997.

Ranking high on search engines in 1997 was still a pretty new concept. It was also very directory driven. Before DMOZ fueled the original Google classification, LookSmart was powered by Zeal, Go.com was its own directory, and the Yahoo Directory was a major player in Yahoo Search.

If you’re unfamiliar with DMOZ, the Mozilla Open Directory Project (remember, Mozilla was a company and Moz was a brand well before SEOMoz), it was basically a Yellow Pages for websites. Which is what Yahoo was originally founded upon, the ability to find the best websites out there as approved by editors.

I started doing SEO in 1998, as a need for our clients who have built cool sites but were getting little traffic. Little did I know, it would become a lifestyle.

Then again, the World Wide Web was still a pretty new concept at the time to most people.

Today? Everybody wants to rule the search engine results pages (SERPs).

Search Engine Optimization vs. Search Engine Marketing

Before Search Engine Optimization became the official name, other terms were used as well. For example:

  • Search engine placement
  • Search engine positioning
  • Search engine ranking
  • Search engine registration
  • Search engine submission
  • Website promotion

But no discussion would be complete without mentioning another term: Search Engine Marketing.

At one point in 2001, one prominent industry writer suggested search engine marketing as a successor to search engine optimization.

Obviously, it didn’t happen.

Prepare yourself now: you’re going to see many false claims (e.g., “SEO is dead” “the new SEO”) and attempts at rebranding SEO (“Search Experience Optimization”).

While SEO as a term isn’t perfect – after all, we aren’t optimizing search engines, we’re optimizing our web presence – it has remained the preferred term of our industry for 20 years now and likely will be for the foreseeable future.

As for Search Engine Marketing – it is still used but is now more associated with paid search. The two terms co-exist peacefully today.

A Timeline of Search Engine History

Search engines have changed the way we find information, conduct research, shop for products and services, entertain ourselves, and connect with others.

Behind almost every online destination – whether it’s a website, blog, social network, or app – is a search engine. Search engines have become the connecting force and directional guide to everyday life.

But how did this all start?

We’ve put together a timeline of notable milestones from the history of search engines and search engine optimization to understand the roots of this technology, which has become such an important part of our world.

Dawn of SEO: “The Wild West” Era

In the last decade of the 1900s, the search engine landscape was highly competitive. You had your choice of search engines – both human-powered directories and crawler-based listings – including the likes of AltaVista, Ask Jeeves, Excite, Infoseek, Lycos, and Yahoo.

In the beginning, the only way to perform any kind of SEO, was through on-page activities. This included making sure the content was good and relevant, there was enough text, your HTML tags were accurate, and that you had internal and external links, among other factors.

If you wanted to rank well in this era, the trick was pretty much just repeating your keywords enough times throughout your webpages and meta tags. Want to outrank a page that uses a keyword 100 times? Then you’d use the keyword 200 times! Today, we call this practice spamming.

Here are some highlights:

  • 1994: Yahoo was created by Stanford University students Jerry Wang and David Filo in a campus trailer. Yahoo was originally an Internet bookmark list and directory of interesting sites. Webmasters had to manually submit their page to the Yahoo directory for indexing so that it would be there for Yahoo to find when someone performed a search. AltaVista, Excite, and Lycos also launched.
  • 1996: Page and Brin, two Stanford University students, built and tested Backrub, a new search engine that ranked sites based on inbound link relevancy and popularity. Backrub would ultimately become Google. HotBot, powered by Inktomi, also launched.
  • 1997: Following on the success of A Webmaster’s Guide to Search Engines, Danny Sullivan launched Search Engine Watch, a website dedicated to providing news about the search industry, tips on searching the web, and information about how to rank websites better. (Ten years later, after leaving SEW, Sullivan founded another popular search publication, Search Engine Land.) Ask Jeeves also debuted and Google.com was registered.
  • 1998: Goto.com launched with sponsored links and paid search. Advertisers bid on Goto.com to rank above organic search results, which were powered by Inktomi. Goto.com was ultimately acquired by Yahoo. DMOZ (the Open Directory Project) became the most sought-after place for SEO practitioners to get their pages listed. MSN entered into search with MSN Search, initially powered by Inktomi.
  • 1999: The first-ever all search marketing conference, Search Engine Strategies (SES), took place. You can read a retrospective on that event by Sullivan here. (The SES conference series continued running under various monikers and parent companies until shutting down in 2016.)

The Google Revolution

In 2000, Yahoo pulled off the worst strategic move in the history of search and partnered with Google and let Google power their organic results instead of Inktomi. Beforehand Google was a little-known search engine. Hardly known! The end result: every Yahoo search result said “Powered by Google” and they ended up introducing their largest competitor to the world and Google became a household name.

Until this point, search engines mainly ranked sites based on the on-page content, domain names, ability to get listed in aforementioned directories, and basic site structure (breadcrumbing). But Google’s web crawler and PageRank algorithm were revolutionary for information retrieval. Google looked at both on-page and off-page factors – the quantity and quality of external links pointing to a website (as well as the anchor text used).

If you think about it, Google’s algorithm was essentially about “if people are talking about you, you must be important.”

Although links were only one component of Google’s overall ranking algorithm, SEO practitioners latched onto links as being the most important factor – and an entire sub-industry of link building was created. Over the next decade, it became a race to acquire as many links as possible in the hopes of ranking higher and links became a heavily abused tactic that Google would have to address in coming years.

It was also in 2000 that the Google Toolbar became available on Internet Explorer, allowing SEO practitioners to see their PageRank score (a number between 0-10). This ushered in an era of unsolicited link exchange request emails.

So with PageRank, Google essentially introduced a measure of currency to its linking. Much like domain authority is misused today.

Google’s organic results also got some company in the form of AdWords ads starting in 2000. These paid search ads began appearing above, below, and to the right of Google’s unpaid results.

Meanwhile, a group of webmasters informally got together at a pub in London to start sharing information about all things SEO in 2000. This informal gathering eventually turned into Pubcon, a large search conference series that still runs today.

Over the coming months and years, the SEO world got used to a monthly Google Dance, or a period of time during which Google updated its index, sometimes resulting in major ranking fluctuations.

Although Google’s Brin once famously said Google didn’t believe in web spam, his opinion had probably changed by the time 2003 rolled around. SEO got a lot harder following updates like Florida because it became much more important than just repeating keywords x amount of times.

Google AdSense: Monetizing Terrible SEO Content

In 2003, after acquiring Blogger.com, Google launched AdSense, which serves contextually targeted Google AdWords ads on publisher sites. The mix of AdSense and Blogger.com leads to a surge in monetized simple Internet publishing and a blogging revolution.

While Google probably didn’t realize it at the time, they were creating problems they would have to fix down the road. AdSense gave rise to spammy tactics and Made for AdSense sites filled with thin/poor/stolen content that existed solely to rank well, get clicks, and make money.

Oh and something else important happened in 2003. I founded the site you’re on, Search Engine Journal! And I’m incredibly happy to say we’re still here, going stronger than ever!

Local SEO & Personalization

Around 2004, Google and other top search engines started improving results for queries that had a geographic intent (e.g., a restaurant, plumber, or some other type of business or service provider in your city or town). By 2006, Google rolled out a Maps Plus Box, which I was quite impressed by at the time.

It was also around 2004 that Google and search engines began making greater use of end-user data, such as search history and interests, to personalize search results. This meant that the results you saw could be different than what another person sitting next to you in a coffee shop when searching for the same query.

Also in 2005, nofollow tags were created as a means to combat spam. SEO pros began using this tag as a way of PageRank sculpting.

Google also unleashed a couple of noteworthy updates:

  • Jagger, which helped to diminish the level of unsolicited link exchanges that were flying around, as well as heralding the decline in the importance of anchor text as a factor due to its corruptibility.
  • Big Daddy (coined by Jeff Manson of RealGeeks), which improved the architecture of Google to allow for improved understanding of the worth and relationship of links between sites.

YouTube, Google Analytics & Webmaster Tools

In October 2006, Google acquired user-generated video sharing network YouTube for $1.65 billion, which ultimately became the second most used search property in the world.

Today, YouTube has more than a billion users. Due to its soaring popularity, video SEO become crucial for brands, businesses, and individuals that wanted to be found.

Google also launched two incredibly important products in 2006:

  • Google Analytics. This free, web-based tool was so popular at launch that webmasters experienced downtime and maintenance warnings.
  • Google Webmaster Tools. Now known as the Search Console, Google Webmaster Tools let webmasters view crawling errors, see what searches your site showed up for, and request reinclusion.

Also in 2006 XML sitemaps gained universal support from the search engines. XML sitemaps allow webmasters to display to the search engines, every URL on their website that is available for crawling. An XML sitemap contains not only a list of URLs but a range of further information, which helped search engines to crawl more intelligently.

Universal Search

We really began to see search starting to evolve in new and exciting ways starting in 2007. All of these updates were aimed at improving the user experience.

Let’s start with Google’s Universal Search. Until this point, the search results had consisted of 10 blue links.

Then Google began blending traditional organic search results with other types of vertical results like news, video, and images. This was easily the biggest change to Google search – and SEO – since the Florida update.

Cleaning up the Cesspool

In 2008, then-Google CEO Eric Schmidt said the Internet was becoming a cesspool and that brands were the solution. “Brands are how you sort out the cesspool,” he said.

Less than six months after his comment, along came a Google update called Vince. Big brands suddenly seemed to be ranking a whole lot better in the SERPs.

But it wasn’t really intended to reward brands, according to Google. Google wanted to put a greater weight on trust in the algorithm (and big brands tend to have more trust than smaller and less-established brands).

Shortly after this update, Google releases another to improve the speed of their indexing, called Caffeine. As SEJ reported at the time, Caffeine was “a next-generation search architecture for Google that’s supposed to be faster and more accurate, providing better, more relevant results and crawling larger parts of the web.”

Speaking of speed, in 2010 Google announced that site speed was a ranking factor.

Bing & The Search Alliance

In 2009, Microsoft Live Search became Bing. Then, in an attempt to challenge Google’s nearly 70 percent grip of the U.S. search market, Yahoo and Microsoft joined forces to partner on a 10-year search deal (though it ended up being reworked five years later).

The Search Alliance saw Microsoft’s Bing power Yahoo’s organic and paid search results. While it made Bing the clear Number 2 search engine, they ultimately have failed to break Google’s massive grip on search in the U.S. and globally.

The Rise of Social Media

Another phenomenon was emerging late in the 2000s – social networks.

Google made its big bet on YouTube (although it would try again with Google+). But other networks like Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn all emerged as major players (with many more to come and go in the following years).

Along with the rise of social media came speculation that social signals can impact search rankings. Yes, social media can help SEO, but indirectly – just as other forms of marketing can help drive more traffic to your website and increase brand awareness and affinity (which generates search demand).

While the impact of social shares (likes, tweets, +1’s, etc.) has been denied time and again by Google through the years as being ranking factor, it continued to be listed as having a strong correlation in various ranking factor studies. If you want to read more about this topic, I highly suggest reading How Social Media Helps SEO [Final Answer].

The Google Zoo: Panda & Penguin

Two major algorithmic updates, in 2011 and 2012, had a big impact on SEO that is still being felt to this day as Google once again attempted to clean up its search results and reward high-quality sites.

In 2011, Google found its search results facing severe scrutiny because so-called “content farms” (websites that produced high volumes of low-quality content) were dominating the search results. Google’s SERPs were also cluttered with websites featuring unoriginal and auto-generated content – and even, in some instances, scraper sites were outranking content originators.

As a result, these sites were making tons of advertising revenue (remember when I mentioned Google’s self-made AdSense problem?). These sites were also living and dying by organic traffic from Google.

But once Google’s Panda update rolled out in 2011, many websites saw much, if not all, of that traffic vanish overnight. Google provided some insight on what counts as a high-quality site.

Aimed at eliminating low-quality (or thin) content, Panda was updated periodically over the coming years, eventually becoming integrated into Google’s core algorithm in 2016.

With websites still recovering from the effects of Panda, Google unleashed a hotly anticipated over-optimization algorithm, intended to eliminate “aggressive spam tactics” from its results. Eventually dubbed Penguin, this algorithm targeted link schemes (websites with unusual linking patterns, including a high-amount of exact match anchor text that matched keywords you wanted to rank for) and keyword stuffing.

Penguin wasn’t updated nearly as frequently as Panda, with more than a year passing between some updates. And, like Panda, Penguin became part of Google’s real-time algorithm in 2016.

Things, Not Strings

In May 2012, Google unveiled the Knowledge Graph. This was a major shift away from interpreting keywords strings to understanding semantics and intent.

Here’s how Google’s Amit Singhal, SVP, engineering, described it at launch:

“The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about – landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more – and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query. This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.”

Google enhanced its search results with this information. Knowledge panels, boxes, and carousels can appear whenever people do a search for one of the billions of entities and facts in the Knowledge Graph.

The next step in Google’s next generation of search came in September 2013 in the form of Hummingbird, a new algorithm designed to better address natural language queries and conversational search. With the rise of mobile (and voice search), Google needed to completely rebuild how its algorithm worked to meet the needs of modern searchers.

Hummingbird was considered to be the biggest change to Google’s core algorithm since 2001. Clearly, Google wanted to deliver faster and more relevant results, especially to mobile users.

Mobile-First

Starting somewhere around 2005 or so, one question kept being asked in our industry. Is this the “Year of Mobile”?

Well, it turns out that it wasn’t in 2005. Or 2006. Neither was 2007. Or 2008. Or 2009. Not even 2010 – when Google transformed itself into a mobile-first company.

Then 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 came and went. Mobile was talked about and much hyped because it was growing like crazy all this time. As more users adopted smartphones, they were increasingly searching for businesses and things while on the move.

Finally, in 2015, we had the Year of Mobile – the point at which mobile searches overtook desktop search for the first time on Google. And while this is true in terms of raw search numbers, it’s also true that search intent is quite different and conversion rates remain much lower on mobile devices.

This was also the year that comScore reported mobile-only internet users surpassed desktop-only users.

It was also in 2015 that Google launched a much-anticipated mobile-friendly algorithm update, designed to give users “the most relevant and timely results, whether the information is on mobile-friendly web pages or in a mobile app.”

In an attempt to speed up pages, Google also introduced Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) in 2016. AMP are designed to instantly load content and mostly has been adopted by news media and publishers.

And there’s much more mobile to come. Next up: a mobile-first index is on the way sometime in 2018.

Machine Learning, AI & Intelligent Search

Earlier, I mentioned that Google, originally built around information retrieval, became a mobile-first company. Well, that changed in 2017 because Google CEO Sundar Pichai declared Google an AI-first company.

Today, Google search is designed to inform and assist, rather than giving users a list of links. That’s why Google has built AI into all of its products – including search, Gmail, AdWords, Google Assistant, and more.

In terms of search, we’ve already started to see the impact of AI with Google RankBrain. Announced in October 2015, RankBrain was initially used to try to interpret the 15 percent of searches that Google has never seen before, based on the words or phrases the user has entered.

Since that time, Google has expanded RankBrain to run on every search. While RankBrain impacts ranking, it isn’t a ranking factor in the traditional sense, where you get rewarded with better rankings for doing x, y, and z.

And there’s much more coming soon in the world of intelligent search.

Voice searches are increasing. Visual search has gotten insanely good. And users (and brands) are increasingly adopting chatbots and using personal assistants (e.g., Apple’s Siri, Amazon’s Alexa, and Microsoft’s Cortana).

Exciting times are ahead for SEO.

Conclusion

Search engines and SEO have come a long way since the 1990s. And we’ve only touched on a few of these ways in this post.

The history of SEO has been filled with exciting turns – the birth of new search engines, the death of old search engines, new SERP features, new algorithms, and constant updates, plus the emergence of great SEO publications, conferences, tools, and experts.

While search engines and SEO have evolved greatly over the years, one thing remains true: as long as there are search engines, SEO will remain vital. And we’ve only gotten started!

 

Featured Image Credit: Paulo Bobita

By Loren Baker

Sourced from Search Engine Journal

Sourced from BuzzFeed.

Carl Frederic Sealey’ If you’re looking to develop a better understanding of digital marketing, then you’ve found the right article.

Carl Frederic Sealey has shared a rundown of how digital marketing operates in 2017. Digital marketing or internet marketing as it’s popularly understood is a tool to continue marketing for our merchandise online. Direct email advertising, search engine optimization and search engine advertising are some of the tools that come under this class. They’re getting increasingly more prevalent in the internet world.

It’s a very popular type of advertising, Media is significant now because we’ve got access to a high number of information and a growing number of folks are using the large data. Other kinds of promotion include text messaging, mobile programs, electronic billboards, digital tv and radio communications. All are strong tools to boost our visibility into the clients. Businesses leverage digital stations like Google search, social networking, email, and also their sites to get in touch with their present and potential clients.

From the site itself to your internet branding assets — electronic advertising, email advertising, online brochures, and even outside — there is a massive spectrum of strategies and resources that fall under the umbrella of electronic marketing. And the most effective digital marketers have a crystal clear image of how each strength or strategy supports their overarching targets. So Just What is Digital Marketing? It’s an umbrella term for all your internet advertising efforts. Businesses leverage digital stations like Google search, social networking, email, and also their sites to get in touch with their present and potential clients. From the site itself to your internet branding assets — electronic advertising, email advertising, online brochures, and even outside — there is a massive spectrum of strategies and resources that fall under the umbrella of electronic marketing. And the most effective digital marketers have a crystal clear image of how each strength or strategy supports their overarching targets.

Here’s a fast rundown of a few of the most frequent resources and tactics: Your Site The procedure for optimizing your site to ‘rank’ high in search engine results pages, thereby increasing the quantity of free visitors your site receives. Content Marketing The production and promotion of articles resources with the intention of producing brand awareness, traffic increase, lead generation, or clients. Inbound Marketing Inbound marketing identifies the ‘full-funnel’ method of attracting, converting, final, and delighting clients using internet content.

Social Media Marketing A way of driving visitors to your site by paying a publisher each time your ad has been clicked. Affiliate Marketing A sort of performance-based advertising in which you get commission for promoting someone else’s goods or services on your own site. Native Promotion Native advertisements refers to ads which are mostly content-led and featured on a stage along with other, content that is articles. According to Carl Frederic Sealey, BuzzFeed sponsored articles are a great example, but lots of individuals also consider social networking advertisements to be ‘native’ — for instance, Facebook and Instagram marketing.

Marketing Automation Marketing automation refers to the applications which exists with the objective of automating marketing activities. Many marketing departments need to automate repetitive activities such as mails, social networking, and other site activities. Email Marketing Businesses use email advertising as a means of communicating with their viewers. Email is often utilized to market content, events and discounts, and to guide people towards the company’ website. Online PR It is similar to conventional PR, but at the internet space. On the surface, both look similar: Both happen mostly on the internet, and both concentrate on producing digital content for individuals to eat. So what is the difference?

Digital outbound approaches aim to place a advertising message right in front of as many individuals as you can in the internet area — no matter whether it is applicable or welcomed. As an instance, the garish banner advertisements you see on very top of several sites attempt to drive a product or advertising onto individuals that aren’t always prepared to get it. On the flip side, entrepreneurs that use digital inbound strategies use online content to pull their target clients onto their sites by giving assets which are useful to them.

Among the easiest yet most powerful inbound advertising assets is a site, which enables your site to capitalize on the conditions that your perfect customers are trying to find. Digital advertising, on the other hand, is an umbrella term to describe online advertising tactics of any sort, no matter whether they are deemed outbound or inbound. Does Digital Advertising Work for All Firms? Digital advertising can work for almost any company in any industry. Whatever your company sells, electronic marketing still entails building out client personas to spot your audience’s needs, and generating valuable online content. However, that is not to mention that all companies should implement an electronic marketing and advertising strategy in precisely the identical manner.

Sourced from BuzzFeed

To cut a long story short, what used to work wonders back in the old days just doesn’t anymore.

But the good news is that, at its core, the goals and basic tenets of SEO haven’t changed. Sure, some tactics and best practices may be different, but SEO is still about connecting your brand with your target audience by increasing your search rankings.

Perhaps the best way to describe new school  SEO is that it’s about optimising for real people instead of search engines. But then again, this school of thought has already existed even in the old days of SEO.

So, how do you know which practices to avoid, and which ones you should be spending more time and resources on? Here are a few key differences between old and new SEO, which should tell you everything about the kind approach to take when marketing.

Today’s SEO is About Engaging Customers, Not Just Rankings

In the past, the thrust behind SEO was to focus on a few keywords and trying to rank for them on the search engine results pages (SERPs). Some search marketers believed that it didn’t matter how you did it, as long as you managed to grab and keep top rankings on Google.

However, Google’s Penguin and Panda updates saw to it that marketers could no longer game the system with link farming and keyword spamming.

Today, SEO is about managing your brand’s reputation, and making people want to interact with your brand by spreading quality content about your products and services.

For law firms, this means creating content that attracts your target audience and nurturing them until they become your actual clients. If you have this down pat, your rankings should improve through organic sharing/mentions, and natural linking across the internet.

To put it simply, SEO is now rooted in traditional marketing and public relations, in that you’re trying to build your law firm’s authority through reputation management and savvy PR.

Keywords are Still Important, But They’re Not the Only Thing Going On

Anyone who’s been engaged in SEO before 2011 knows that for many years, the industry was always focused on one thing: keywords.

In the past, search marketers would focus on just one major keyword, hinging all their efforts on getting ranked for that specific search term, and only that term.

But as search engines continue to get smarter, the goal is now to think of what search engine users think and want when typing into the search engine. This has given rise to semantic SEO, which focuses on keyword intent and long tail keywords.

For law firms, this means the days of gaming Google with keywords are over, with the context behind searches now being taken into account when showing search results. In turn, this means your content has to be top notch and relevant in order to generate traffic and improve your site’s rankings.

Relevance will be the primary factor affecting how effective your website content is. This will be both a challenge and opportunity for providers of legal services, possibly requiring them to change their website content and marketing campaigns. But it can also place you in a prime position to beat your competitors in the SERPs.

Read more on semantic search here

Content for People, Not Search Engines

Although the concept behind using content to increase search engine rankings was to create content for readers, search marketers nevertheless deviated from its intended purpose.

In the old days, SEO was focused on creating content that would rank on the search engine results pages. This meant that keywords and keyword density took precedence before the actual quality of the content. And so, you had marketers flooding private blog networks with poor-quality and sometimes even plagiarised content stuffed with target keywords.

But Google’s Panda update pretty much put that practice to an end, forcing marketers to realise that content needs to be written for people, as it was always intended.

Focus on creating content assets that are not only relevant, but also educate and solve target audience problems.

Read my blog post content for people not for bots

Link Building Should Be Natural and Earned

To be fair, everyone knew what the best practices for link building were, even in the old days of SEO. Search marketers were already aware of black hat link building and that it was pretty much a way to trick search engines into increasing their rankings.

That didn’t stop many people from building links the shady way though. It was all about jamming as many links into content assets whenever possible, and posting them on as many websites as they could. It was pretty much open season for search marketers, which made postings on discussion forms and social bookmarking sites so popular.

But such questionable practices never had a chance of lasting, and so after Panda and Penguin, the only way to build links without suffering penalties is to do it the right way, as everyone should. In other words, links have to be natural and earned.

A link should be the result of forming a relationship between your law firm’s site and a relevant and authoritative party. Of course, there’s no rule prohibiting you from posting on forums and social bookmarking sites like Pinterest or Tumblr, but you should still be very selective on the sites you choose to avoid any penalties.

Make sure you are keeping up with search engines and observing best practices when creating and executing a strategy. Most of these changes aren’t actual changes in best practices per se, because they’ve actually been recommended since the early days of SEO—so it shouldn’t be too much of an adjustment if you’ve always put your audience first in your SEO efforts.

Still, it’s important to be fluid with your SEO methods and be ready to adapt to trends and changes when they benefit your marketing efforts.

Qamar Zaman is a renowned national SEO expert for lawyers. With his office based in Dallas, Qamar Zaman specialises in conversion rate optimisation for law firms. He works with all types of law firms and helps them get improve ROI without increasing more on marketing cost.