7 great reasons to attend SMX Advanced in 2 weeks

Search Engine Land’s SMX Advanced is just 2 weeks away. Don’t miss your only opportunity this year to attend the conference designed for experienced SEOs and SEMs!

Fewer than 150 tickets are remaining. Register now!

Here are 7 reasons you should attend:

    Start with a deep dive. Attend a pre-conference workshop. Choose from full-day, rock-star seminars on Google AdWords, advanced SEO, social media advertising, Google Analytics, mobile optimization or content marketing. See the lineup and descriptions.
    Enjoy breathtaking sights. Elliott Bay and the Seattle waterfront are awesome! And the Bell Harbor International Conference Center has undergone a $30 million facelift. Take in the spectacular sights from this world-class facility.
    Stay connected and fully fueled. Free wifi, the best conference food you’ll ever have and all-day snacks are all part of the SMX experience.
    Explore the possibilities. Get demos from over 30 leading solutions providers that will help target your audience, convert visitors to buyers and maximize ROI. Also, Google and Bing will be presenting full days of sessions for SEM. Access to the expo and Bing/Google sessions is included with All Access and Networking passes. Compare those pass options here.
    Connect with search marketing leaders. You’ll get facetime with renowned speakers and the Search Engine Land editorial team. They’ve shared their knowledge and wisdom with you virtually — attend and meet them in person!
    Meet others in your tribe. You’ll spend two days with pros who speak your language and share the same passion for tackling the challenges of SEO and SEM. You’ll participate in multiple networking events like the Meet & Greet on the Bell Harbor rooftop, SMX After Dark @ MoPOP, Janes of Digital, and closing night bash sponsored by Moz and STAT Search Analytics.
    Get actionable tactics you won’t learn anywhere else. 40+ presentations, keynotes and panels featuring brand and agency search marketers revealing advanced tactics in SEO, PPC, social, mobile and analytics you won’t hear anywhere else. See the agenda at a glance.

What are you waiting for?

There’s still time to register, but fewer than 150 tickets are available.

P.S. – Have additional questions? We can help! Email registration@searchmarketingexpo.com or call (877) 242-5242, Monday through Friday, 9am-5pm ET.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

SearchCap: Google's latest Smart Bidding option, Zaha Hadid Google Doodle & more

Below is what happened in search today, as reported on Search Engine Land and from other places across the web.

From Search Engine Land:

7 great reasons to attend SMX Advanced in 2 weeks
May 31, 2017 by Search Engine Land
Search Engine Land’s SMX Advanced is just 2 weeks away. Don’t miss your only opportunity this year to attend the conference designed for experienced SEOs and SEMs! Fewer than 150 tickets are remaining. Register now! Here are 7 reasons you should attend: Start with a deep dive. Attend a pre-conference workshop.Google adds Maximize Conversions automated bid strategy in AdWords
May 31, 2017 by Ginny Marvin
The newest Smart Bidding option aims to increase conversion volume and will spend a campaign’s daily budget in pursuit of that goal.Google’s latest search update gives art lovers a deeper dive into the masterpieces
May 31, 2017 by Amy Gesenhues
Google’s Search team worked with its Arts and Culture team to improve art-related searches and create a new Street View feature for art museums.How to use SEO to influence B2B buyers at every stage of the buyer’s journey
May 31, 2017 by Nate Dame
Columnist Nate Dame notes that these days, B2B purchasers are performing as much as 90% of the buyer’s journey on their own. Are they consistently finding your brand along their journeys?Zaha Hadid Google doodle honors first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize
May 31, 2017 by Amy Gesenhues
Born in Iraq, Hadid studied art and architecture at the Architectural Association in London.The battleground of entities & reviews
May 31, 2017 by Dave Davies
How might Google utilize reviews to improve their understanding of entities — and produce more personalized search results? Columnist Dave Davies explores current trends and makes predictions about where the future is headed.

Search News From Around The Web:


Why We Are Giving Away Our Patents, www.conductor.comGoogle Algorithms Share Data With Other Algorithms, Search Engine RoundtableGoogle’s Compute Engine now lets you choose between CPU platforms, TechCrunch

Local & Maps

Review Spam – Which Google Categories Are Worst?, Blumenthals


Magilla is a search engine for mortgages and business loans, TechCrunch

SEM / Paid Search

Google AdWords Updates to Keep in Mind in 2017, MarketingProfsIntroducing page-level enforcements and a new Policy center, Inside AdSenseMarketing Master Class, Episode 3: The risk taker’s guide, Bing AdsUse These Competitor Tools To Improve Results, PPC Hero


10 Google Ranking Factors Every Website Should Focus On In 2017, Jeff BullasAddressing Similar Content: Canonicalize, Noindex, or Do Nothing?, Search Engine JournalTop 10 WordPress SEO Mistakes That Beginners Make, Search Engine Journal

The battleground of entities & reviews

For anyone familiar with my articles, you’ll know I like to write a lot on a couple of specific topics:

    EntitiesThe future of search

Today, we’re going to look at an area where both apply: reviews.

In this article, we’re not going to dive into specific strategies for acquiring reviews, as those change over time (though I will be linking below to a couple of fantastic pieces that cover well some current approaches). Instead, we’re going to look at why reviews are important and how Google looks at them — and likely will be looking at them in the months and years to come. We’re going to be looking at business reviews, obviously, but we’re further going to consider reviews of specific products and similar areas.

What are ‘entities’?

Before we get to any of the above, we need to cover what an entity is to really start to wrap our heads around how they play their role. If you’ve not yet heard of entities as they relate to search algorithms, they are defined by Google as follows:

[A]n entity is a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined and distinguishable. For example, an entity may be a person, place, item, idea, abstract concept, concrete element, other suitable thing, or any combination thereof.

This seems like a fairly straightforward concept, and it is. Essentially, an entity is a thing. It may be a specific person, like “Danny Sullivan,” or it may be a singular and defined idea, like “evolution.”

While simple, the impact of entities on search is massive — and it’s sadly one of the most overlooked areas of discussion in SEO. So today, we’ll take steps to remedy that in at least one area.

Let’s talk about reviews

We’re going to begin our discussion in an area we all tend to think of when we think of reviews…

Business entity reviews

From a search standpoint, it can be useful to think of your business the way the law does (if you’re incorporated, at least): it is a thing that is unique and autonomous. It may be connected with other entities, but it is not the same as them, nor does an adjustment of those connections necessarily impact the business entity itself (a business may change its CEO while changing very little, for example).

Let’s get a feel for how this all works — and since an image is worth 1,000 words, let’s look at a graphical representation of our business in Google’s eyes:

OK, perhaps this picture isn’t worth 1,000 words, but let’s assume this is your business. Now let’s add in some connections that are natural. Entities connected with your business will appear in dashed red circles, and blue arrows will establish the relationships between these entities.

Now we’re getting started in illustrating how entities work. Your business entity is connected to other entities in ways that define many of its characteristics. If you want to simplify it, you can think of them like links to and from that entity. We’ll get a into that further below; for now, it’s enough to understand that a business entity is connected to other entities that define what that business is, where it’s located, who and what it’s connected to and so on.

Now, let’s add in some reviews in green dotted circles…

Now we can start to see how reviews fit into the picture. They’re not simply an unknowable ranking factor that’s “good because it’s good,” but rather a simple-to-understand addition to a business entity calculation. The more reviews you have, the more trusted the global review average will be — but further, the reviewers themselves are entities that factor in. In this area, we’re just starting to witness the first implementations of the entity status of the reviewer factoring in, but this will push forward dramatically in the coming months and years.

At this point, you may be asking what I’m referring to regarding the reviewer entity status. Great questions, hypothetical you! As was reported last week, Google has changed the way they display reviews for hotels on mobile to look like:

The key part here is the information related to the type of visitor (e.g., Families, Couples).  This requires taking in entity information related to the reviewer and adjusting specific review scores based on it. So let’s look at how that fits into our graph:

This is extremely limited in its scope to include only the number of reviews someone has done and their marital status — in reality, there would be dozens or hundreds of different connections.

With just this limited example, however, we can see that if the searcher is married, they are highly likely to enjoy their experience with Acme Business Entity, whereas a single person may not like it. These are the types of expressions of entity metrics we’re seeing presently in hotel reviews, but let’s flash forward a bit.

Dave and Bill have also done a lot of reviews compared with Jane’s 2, indicating they are less likely to be spammers and they understand how the review system functions. Inevitably, other areas of their own entity metrics will factor in, such as their other reviews and ratings, age, location and so on, and many of these will invisibly influence the rating system.

The idea that the algorithm will be adjusted to weight reviews from people with similar demographic or interest-based characteristics higher is not a big reach. In the example above, does it make more sense for me as a married guy reading reviews to see the total average of 3.6/5 or the adjusted average only considering people with characteristics similar to my own, which would yield a 4.5/5?

What we’re seeing with hotels is fine, but it isn’t broad enough in scope to hit the nail on the head across all sectors. It’s a proof of concept, and it’s interesting. But there is more to me than whether I’m solo or married, traveling for business or with my family — and to believe Google will not be taking this into account is short-sighted. And here’s why that’s great…

The vast majority of businesses could not (and should not) attain a 5/5 rating from every demographic. They cater to their audience, and that’s what they should do. A hipster restaurant with craft beer would suit me well now, but back when I was a starving student… not so much. Understanding who’s writing a review and what they expect and enjoy needs to factor in strongly.

This recent step with hotels makes sense, but it cannot possibly cover all the variables that would go into a review being fully applicable to me. Rather, Google can weight all the various entity information they have and come up with what they determine to be the most applicable reviews for me.

For example, let’s take a review for a Mexican restaurant and look at just a few characteristics Google might consider if I were personally searching. Some of my core characteristics include:

Male40sHas favorably reviewed Mexican restaurantsHas written and rated many locationsLives in Victoria, CanadaHas reviewed and rated various restaurants with mid-to-higher price points

Armed with this data, Google is going to know that when I’m looking up a Mexican restaurant in a new city, the rating given by a middle-aged person who tends to like good food and is willing to pay for it is going to be a lot more relevant than a review from a student who tends to hit up cheaper places to save money. Both may give a five-star review to different locations, but what they recommend is not equally applicable to me — and thus, their impact on reviews and the weight they pass to an entity needs to be adjusted.

Similarly, if both reviewed the same restaurant, and if that restaurant is known to have a higher price range, the review of the one known to visit and rate pricier locations should be weighted higher than the review of someone who may have their opinion skewed by feeling the pricing is too high (or they weight it more highly because they paid more for it, not because it’s actually good).

Flash forward in review evolution a bit, and these variables would appear in an equation that would look something like:

Rating Weight Adjustment = Gender * V + Age * W + Rated Mexican * X + Number Of Reviews * Y + Location * Z

In such a scenario, each factor is given a relevancy score (how relevant is gender to the enjoyment of Mexican food?) and then adjusted by machine learning over time to account for personal considerations and the wide array of other factors that would be taken into account on top of this very short list.

Let’s look at the following illustration (these weight numbers are examples and not indicative of what actually is in the algorithm):

We can get a feel for how much weight each of the factors has, with gender hardly impacting them at all and past ratings of Mexican restaurants factoring in heavily. Remember, we’re looking at a person here and the value of their reviews on my results. Rightfully, whether the reviewer is male or female would have very little impact on the weight of their review; however, their writing of past reviews of other Mexican restaurants, their age being close to mine and having written a large number of reviews would cause more emphasis to be placed on their review.

If I’m right, then in the near future we’ll see the review system change to place more weight on reviews where the reviewer is similar to the searcher, and where generic influencer scores will be placed on individuals (human entities). Furthermore, I would suggest it’s highly likely that not only will review weighting be adjusted as a result of personalization, but the actual search results themselves will be more personalized than they are today.

Thinking about products

I’m about to go out on a limb to discuss an area that I feel makes sense, but for which I’m just spit-balling. We’ve been talking a lot about the impact of reviewers on review weighting and relevancy of a site to a specific demographic. But I would suggest that the products a business carries — and how those products are reviewed — may well impact an entity’s overall prominence, too.

Let’s look at a simple example based on our second entity illustration above.

What I would predict we will see in the near future is that the reviews of a specific product, or “product entity,” will impact a business entity’s status if they sell that product (even if the review is from a different site). If a company were selling only products with low reviews across different sites, I would put forth that that business entity’s overall score would be diminished (certainly for queries related to those products or that product category).

One can think of this as tall-tale breadcrumbs. All of these products are understood to be under a specific hierarchy/category, and that category is understood to contain low-quality items (though, again, this could be adjusted based on reviewer demographics). And thus, the Acme Business Entity would be reduced in the value assigned to it for that category of products.

I need to stress, again, that at this time I have not seen any evidence of this. As I said above, I’m just spit-balling here. But if one simply thinks about an environment where Google wants to provide its searchers with results that will meet their needs — and assuming they have the information to connect the reviews of one product with another on a different site — it is a logical and beneficial angle to pursue.

So, what do you do?

We’ve covered a lot here about how entities and reviews can and likely will impact rankings and how review scores will likely be augmented further in the very near future to place more weight on those reviews that more closely match the searcher’s intent and interests. So let’s review what you need to pay attention to…

Who is reviewing you, and what their reviews are. You can’t please all of the people all of the time, but are you pleasing your target demographic? Be clear on your site or in your business who you are catering to and what they can expect.Which of the products and services you offer are being reviewed favorably and poorly across the web. This is simply a good business move (clearing out bad products and focusing on the good); however, if I’m right, and this will start to impact your own rankings and review scores, it will be more important than ever.How your site connects with other entities (e.g., authors in your blog, companies you’re affiliated with) and how they are rated. If you’re associated with poorly reviewed and rated entities, this flow of influence (or rather, lack thereof) will impact you.

In the end, the point is that we can no longer focus on simply how our business entity is reviewed but must look at how the entities it’s connected to are reviewed and who is doing that reviewing. We’re being forced into an environment where we need to look at our business as a whole, what we offer, who we partner with and who we cater to. While we need to respond to negative reviews as always, we need to be more conscious of who is doing the reviewing and whether they are part of our target demographic.


I promised above to link to some resources on how to get reviews and the risks involved, since we didn’t talk much about those specific strategies here.  Here are some of my favorite pieces on the subject:

Thomas Ballantyne Speaking On Reviews At SMX West — Search Engine LandInfo On The Consumer Review — Search Engine LandHow To Get Local Reviews & Rating — YoastCreate A Link For Customers To Write Reviews — Google


I hope that if nothing else, this article has given you food for thought. While a lot of this article is based on ideas not yet implemented, most are logical, and we’re starting to see some of the early signs that this is the direction things are about to take. Our job (yours and mine) is to be ready for these things when they come, and being ahead of the curve in understanding what’s happening will help us make business decisions that lead naturally to a better entity status for our companies. Fortunately, there is no downside to following the ideas listed above; it’s simply forcing us to understand the complexity (and simplicity) of the way Google approaches entities as outlined in their many patents on the subject and changes we’re seeing them make every day.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Zaha Hadid Google doodle honors first woman to win the Pritzker Architecture Prize

Today’s Google doodle honors Iraqi-born architect Zaha Hadid, the first female architect to receive the Pritzker Architecture Prize. Hadid earned the prestigious award on this day in 2004.

The doodle leads to a search for “Zaha Hadid” and includes an illustration of the architect beside the Heydar Aliyev Center, the cultural center she designed in Baku, Azerbaijan. According to the Google Doodle Blog, Hadid used “… historic Islamic designs found in calligraphy and geometric patterns to create something entirely new” for the design of the cultural center.

Google reports Hadid studied art and architecture at the Architectural Association in London:

There, she found inspiration in unconventional forms. Before computers made her designs easier to put on paper, Hadid’s studio was known to use the photocopier in creative ways to bend lines and create new shapes. The type in today’s Doodle finds inspiration in Hadid’s energetic sketches, which explored both form and function.

In addition to winning the Pritzker Architecture Prize, Hadid was also the first woman to be awarded the Royal Gold Medal by the Royal Institute of British Architects. Other structures designed by Hadid include Germany’s Vitra Fire Station and the London Aquatic Centre.

Google notes users can also find Hadid’s work in its Google Earth interactive exhibit.

How to use SEO to influence B2B buyers at every stage of the buyer's journey

Content marketing isn’t a new strategy anymore, and as every corner of the web fills up with content, marketers increasingly need to prove ROI and drive revenue. Modern SEO has, for years, been the secret weapon for creating content that stands out above the noise — and now that B2B marketers are discovering the value of mapping content to the buyer’s journey, SEO is already equipped to help.

Why align content marketing to the buyer’s journey?

Among other benefits, mapping marketing activities to the buyer’s journey has proven to increase upsell and cross-sell opportunities by 80 percent.

And that’s because the buyer’s journey has changed. The internet puts all of the info directly into buyers’ hands, which has shifted most of the traditional buyer’s journey into marketing’s territory.

Now, 77 percent of B2B purchasers won’t even speak to a salesperson until they’ve done their own research first, and they might be performing as much as 90 percent of the journey on their own. The question for marketers, then, becomes, Are those buyers consistently finding your brand along their journey?

Because if they’re not finding your company, they’re finding your competitors. Talking to prospects throughout the buyer’s journey means defining the path, discovering how prospects are navigating it online, creating content that finds them when they want it and adjusting with the market.

1. Define and understand the buyer’s journey

We all know what a basic buyer’s journey looks like, but mapping marketing activities to that journey means digging in and uncovering some specific details about the journeys that your unique buyer personas are taking. The buyer’s journey for someone investing in a tech platform, for example, might be very different from the buyer’s journey for someone hiring a logistics partner.

When defining the specifics of your audience’s unique buyer’s journey (and there may be more than one if you are targeting different personas within the purchasing team), ask yourself and your team:

What problems are buyers becoming aware of?Is internal or external pressure driving them to find a solution?How are they exploring solutions?What type of content do they desire and respond to?What are the most important factors as they compare vendors (pricing, customer support, reviews or something else)?

Answering these questions as specifically as possible for your audience will help you create a solid foundation from which to optimize content.

2. Uncover unique insights with keyword and user intent research

With detailed buyers’ journeys in hand, the next step is understanding how your audience navigates that journey online—specifically via search engines because they are definitely using search engines. 71 percent of B2B decision-makers start the decision making process with a general web search.

And traditional keyword research is no longer enough. People use Google to ask questions, and working with Google’s algorithms to get your content to your audience requires marketers to understand the questions behind the keywords.

Google has defined four micro-moments that describe most search queries:

User intent starts by understanding which micro-moment is happening with each target keyword. Google your keywords and see what organic results Google provides. Those 10 links can tell you:

what content your audience is looking for. A definition of a term? A product? A free trial? A list of steps?what type of content they prefer. Lots of videos means they watch the videos. Lots of infographics means they download infographics.where they are in the buyer’s journey. Definitions are at the beginning. Pricing sheets are at the end.who on the purchasing team you should be talking to. If you get big-picture content, the C-suite is probably using those terms. If you get detailed, technical instructions, the influencers who are actually doing the work are using those keywords.

A Google search for “content management,” for example, produces a definition in the featured snippet, several other “what is” suggestions and a whole page of organic listings for content that defines the term:

If your company produces content management software, then, you know that when your audience searches this term they are looking for a clear definition. They don’t need flashy content features, they’re at the beginning of the buyer’s journey, and they’re probably managers or executives. Use user intent insights to map your keyword to buyer journeys.

All of these insights will help you create content that meets the right personas at the right stage of their journeys.

3. Create content for every stage in the journey

It’s time to create some content — or optimize existing assets if adequate content already exists.

First, review existing content against new user intent insights, and figure out where you do and do not have content that meets (or tries to meet) the user’s need. If a keyword has a strong Buy intent, do you have a sales/product page? If a keyword has a strong How or Do intent, do you have helpful resources? If the answer is no, it’s easy to start prioritizing.

Additionally, consider whether the content:

is using your audience’s prefered format.is better than the content already ranking well.speaks to the right audience segment.includes an appropriate CTA for the buyer and journey stage.performs well on mobile devices.

Optimize content you have that is already on the right track. It’s much easier and faster than starting from scratch.

Finally, create content to fill in the gaps where you don’t have anything that answers the question/pain point for a keyword/user intent combo.

You might find yourself with a long list of content that needs optimizing and/or creating — which is great! Don’t rush through the process, though, and create low-quality content. Prioritize the work, and develop a reasonable content calendar to keep the project moving.

4. Measure and adjust

As with any SEO and content marketing strategy, of course, keep monitoring engagement and conversions to make sure you’re getting the most out of your efforts. Look for signs of engagement (or lack of):

CTAs. If CTAs are being ignored, content isn’t connecting.Forms. If prospects land on pages with gated content but don’t fill out forms, then content isn’t achieving marketing goals.

Other standard SEO metrics can also help determine how the strategy is performing before sales start increasing:

Organic ranking. If your content is climbing in organic search, it means your content is getting better.Click-through rate (CTR). Increasing CTR means you’ve successfully targeted your users’ needs and pain points.Time on site. Longer time on the site hopefully means users are engaging with your content, but it’s not a perfect measurement.Bounce rate. Consider the content before you determine if a high bounce rate is good or bad. It’s traditionally considered a bad sign, but if your content is just providing a definition, it’s probably okay. Or if you’re consistently publishing blog posts, it’s probably okay if users bounce out of each one.Total visitors/pageviews. If it’s consistent and/or increasing, you’re attracting better leads.

If something isn’t working — if an organic listing isn’t getting clicks or a form isn’t getting filled out — test some other options. Rewrite the title and meta description that appears in search results. Shorten the form and change the color of the button. If small changes don’t seem to help, reevaluate your user intent research and make sure you are answering your audience’s questions better than the competition.

These metrics demonstrate signals of a larger problem relating to your content not working.

Using SEO to influence B2B buyers at every stage

A company that fails to acknowledge how the buyer’s journey connects with content creation is ultimately wasting time and missing out on potential customers. Aligning SEO, content marketing and the buyer’s journey, however, is the secret to creating a brand voice and presence that nurtures leads through their own buyer journeys.

Define your buyer’s journey, uncover insights through keyword and user intent research, then create content for each step. When you go in to measure your efforts, you’ll find that the metrics speak for themselves.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Google's latest search update gives art lovers a deeper dive into the masterpieces

Google is rolling out a new update for art-related searches today.

According to the announcement, the Google Search team joined up with Google’s Arts and Culture team to improve how its systems “understand and recognize” artwork — offering more relevant results.

“When you search an artist like Gustav Klimt, you’ll see an interactive Knowledge Panel that will highlight ways you can explore on a deeper level,” writes product manager Marzia Niccolai. “Like seeing a collection of the artist’s works or even scrolling through the museums where you can view the paintings on the wall.”

Google says its search results will now include more information about the artwork and the artists, offering up details on the materials used to create specific pieces of art, when the art was created, and where it resides now.

Google’s latest update also includes a new Street View feature that doubles as a virtual museum tour guide.

“Now as you walk through the rooms of the museums on Google Maps you’ll see clear and useful annotations on the wall next to each piece,” writes Niccolai. Available on desktops using Chrome and mobile, it allows users to click on the annotations to find more information or zoom into a high-res image of the artwork.

Google shared the following video to show how the new Street View feature works:

To develop the new Street View feature, Google says it used visual recognition software to scan the walls of participating museums and categorize more than 15,000 works of art.

Google adds Maximize Conversions automated bid strategy in AdWords

Smart Bidding strategies in AdWords use machine learning to adjust bids tailored for every auction. The algorithms take a number of factors into account, including, of course, the type of bid strategy. The newest addition to AdWords Smart Bidding strategies is Maximize Conversions.

From this week’s announcement:

Maximize Conversions will help you get you the most number of sales from your existing budget by factoring signals like remarketing lists, time of day, browser and operating system into bids.

Maximize Conversions also takes historical performance into account. Unlike Target ROAS or Target CPA bid strategies, Maximize Conversions is concerned with conversion volume rather than return on investment goals. Maximize Conversions will spend the daily budget in pursuit of more conversions.

Google says decking company Trex saw a 73 percent increase in conversions, a 59 percent increase in conversion rate and a 42 percent lower CPA in its first test using Maximize Conversions.

A few things to note for Maximize Conversions:

    AdWords conversion tracking needs to be set up.The campaign must have its own budget, not share a budget with any other campaigns.Maximize Conversions will stay within the set budget but will aim to meet that daily budget. If a campaign is currently under-spending, expect to see spend increase when switching to Maximize Conversions.

Maximize Conversions is now listed as a Bid strategy option under campaign settings in Search campaigns.

Another study shows how featured snippets steal significant traffic from the top organic result

A new study released today by Ahrefs shows how featured snippets have a negative impact on clicks to the first organic search result.

Ahrefs analyzed two million featured snippets and found that the first organic result shows a significant drop in click-through rate when a featured snippet is present. Without a featured snippet, the first result gets a 26 percent click-through rate. With it, it only gets a 19.6 percent click-through rate, and the featured snippet gets an 8.6 percent click-through rate. Here is the chart from Ahrefs:

The study also shows that the presence of a featured snippet means fewer clicks overall for the organic search results:

Out of the 112 million keywords that Ahrefs analyzed:

12.29 percent of search queries have featured snippets in the search results.Only 30.9 percent of featured snippets rank at the very top placement in the organic results.99.58 percent of the featured snippets are already in the top 10 positions in Google.The vast majority of featured snippets are triggered by long-tail keywords.Wikipedia has by far the most amount of featured snippets in Google.Featured snippets often change sources.

This follows another featured snippets study we posted last week that looked at 1.4 million queries and hundreds of thousands of featured snippets.

I have only summarized some of the findings from the Ahrefs study, so check out the full results over here.

YouTube SEO: How to find the best traffic-generating keywords

Video marketing is becoming a digital marketing necessity. (It’s not a “nice-to-have” marketing strategy anymore.) People love to watch videos, and videos can help you sell more products or services. In fact, a study done by Cisco last year predicted that by 2020, video will account for over 80 percent of all consumer internet traffic.

As video consumption increases, consequently so does video’s influence on consumer purchases. According to recent research by Brightcove:

Almost half (46 percent) of viewers say they’ve actually made a purchase as a result of watching a branded video on social media, and a third (32 percent) say they’ve considered making a purchase as a result of watching a video.81 percent of consumers say they currently interact with brands on social media, and 43 percent say they’ve done so through watching branded social videos.When asked for their favorite type of branded content on social networks, video was the most popular answer, with 31 percent of respondents listing it as their number one choice.

YouTube is the second most popular social media platform, based on market share. And you’ll find that most YouTubers are die-hard YouTube viewers. They’re constantly watching videos, searching for videos about everything from how to jimmy your locked door to how to create a Facebook ad — and everything in between.

How to optimize for YouTube’s algorithm

YouTube is essentially a search engine for videos. Not surprisingly, it uses a sophisticated ranking algorithm to surface content to viewers.

If you want to gain a following and rank your videos higher in YouTube search, uploading fresh content is extremely important. Users love new videos! And that fresh, newly uploaded content (as well as the latest actions taken by the users) is taken into consideration by YouTube when ranking videos.

Watch time” is a very important ranking factor as well. YouTube wants to surface videos that viewers will find enjoyable, so high user engagement is a great signal for the algorithm in identifying such videos.

In addition to user signals, YouTube also relies on input from the video owner to feed their algorithm. That means YouTube is counting on you to tell it what your video is about.

What you do to optimize your video in the first 48 to 72 hours is critical to the success of your video and how it ranks. If you get it right, your video could shoot to the top when people search for your video topic. Get it wrong, and you’ll sink like a rock.

Metadata is important

According to YouTube, metadata includes information about a video such as the title, description, tags and annotations. Metadata can help your video stand out and get found by the algorithm, so content creators should make an effort to optimize metadata to maximize visibility.

Here are some tips for creating effective metadata that can help your videos get found.

Now, this first tip may sound counterintuitive, but you want to research what types of videos your competitors are doing before you create your video. That’s right — the best time to optimize your video for SEO and get more views is before you even record it.

Once you have a feel for what your competitors are doing — the type of videos they’re producing, how engaging they are, how many views they have, what metadata they’re using and so on — it’ll make it easier for you to create a video that “one-ups” them, both in terms of having better content and being better optimized for YouTube’s algorithm.

After you’ve created your video, it’s time to think about uploading and optimizing. Again, the best time to optimize your metadata is before you upload your video — have your keywords, tags, title, description and custom thumbnail ready to go before you press the upload button.

YouTube tags: Doing the keyword research

When doing keyword research on YouTube, you want to try to find keywords that will drive traffic to your video. The best place to look for keywords is on YouTube, but you should also use more traditional keyword research tools (like Google Search Console, SEMrush, SEOProfiler, Moz or others.)

YouTube allows you to include “tags” to help categorize your video by keyword, but it limits the number of tags you can include. You’ll want to look for multiword tags (i.e., long-tail keywords) that specifically relate to your video’s topic. You should also use single-word tags and broad-term tags that relate to your video’s broader topic. (Note: Do not use trademarks or copyrighted material in your metadata unless you have explicit permission from the owner to use it.)

YouTube is effective at semantically understanding your tags. So here’s an example of some tags for a video about “how to ask a boy out on a date”:

Multiple-word tags

How to ask a boy out on a dateWhat to say when you ask a boy out on a dateHow to ask a boy you like out on a dateAsking out a boy you like

Single-word tags:


Broad-term tags:

DatingDatesFlirtingMeet boysMeeting boysTalk to boys

One great way to get tag ideas is to look at the top-ranking YouTube videos that directly compete with your video. However, YouTube hides the video tags, which makes it more difficult to “spy” on your competitors and see their keyword/tag secret sauce.

Luckily, there are tools that allow you to get lots of insights into what your competitors are doing — including letting you see the tags competitors are using to get their videos to rank high.

Two of these video software tools are vidIQ and TubeBuddy. Both programs have a free version and several paid versions, depending on your company’s needs. There are pros and cons to each — so if you can afford it, I’d recommend you use them both.

How YouTube tools like vidIQ and TubeBuddy can help you get more eyeballs

Both vidIQ and TubeBuddy give you information on competitors’ YouTube videos. One of the cool things they show is the tags. So in our “how to ask a boy out” example, you can see the tags being used by the highest-ranking videos for your chosen search terms.

With TubeBuddy, you can even zero in on the most used tags the channel used when setting up the SEO for their YouTube channel:

You can also find out a whole lot of other valuable information from these tools: the number of Facebook likes, their SEO score, how many words are in the description, average view time duration, number of views and so much more. You can consider these two handy tools to be your YouTube competitor spies!

TubeBuddy also has a Tag Explorer feature, which is almost like a traditional SEO keyword finder. Enter the keyword that you’d like to rank your video for, and you’ll get some suggested keywords.

As part of the Tag Explorer, TubeBuddy includes a “Summary” section that shows the search volume, competition and the overall competitiveness of a keyword on a scale from 0 to 100 (where 100 is the easiest to rank for).

If you have a newer YouTube channel, you’ll want to look for keywords that are easier to rank for. Already have a YouTube channel that’s rockin’ it? You can afford to try to get your video ranked for the more competitive keywords.

When planning your YouTube keywords strategy, you want to come up with 10 to 20 single keyword tags that you want to try to rank for. Remember, since YouTube limits the number of tags you can include, add your most important keyword phrases first and then use specific multi-word tags that are easier to rank for. If you have room, also include the single-word tags and broader-term tags.

You want to try to get as many views from as many different (relevant) search results as possible — which is an easier strategy than trying to rank #1 for a single keyword phrase.

By having a metadata strategy in place, you can increase the chances of your videos showing up in YouTube’s search results. And since video marketing will continue to grow and grow, mastering YouTube’s ranking algorithm starting today is a great way to kick your video marketing efforts into high gear.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

Google Attribution: What search marketers need to know

One of the biggest announcements to come out of Google Marketing Next, held in San Francisco last week, was the release of Google Attribution. The new, free solution can pull in data from Google Analytics, AdWords or DoubleClick Search to provide a more holistic view of conversion actions across channels and devices for attribution modeling and bidding information.

Here’s a look at what this new solution means for search marketers.

What is Google Attribution?

Google Attribution is the simplified version of Attribution 360, the enterprise-level offering that came out of Google’s 2014 acquisition of multichannel attribution solution Adometry. It integrates with Google Analytics, Google AdWords and DoubleClick Search and doesn’t require any additional site tagging.

Marketers link a Google Analytics view that’s already associated with a Google AdWords or DoubleClick Search account. Once the account is set up, Attribution is populated with the channel performance data from the connected Analytics view. That can include offline conversion event data uploaded to Google Analytics.

Marketers can then assign an attribution model to their conversion events. And as in Analytics, it’s possible to compare models side by side.

With the native integrations, the modeled conversion data can feed back into AdWords or DoubleClick Search to inform bidding decisions.

What problems does Google Attribution aim to solve?

There are two key problems Google is aiming to address with this product

1. How to see and credit upper- and mid-funnel interactions: Bill Kee, group product manager at Google​, who introduced Attribution onstage last week, said in a phone interview that Google Attribution is focused on understanding the full customer journey versus only last-click impact. The limitation with last-click is that gives all the credit to the user’s very last touch point before converting. For example, if a user searches and clicks on an ad on a non-brand search term, then converts later from a brand ad click, only the brand ad will get credit in a last-click attribution model.

And if a marketer can’t see that a generic keyword actually got the ball rolling, she might lower the bid or pause the keyword altogether. There are obvious benefits for Google in showing advertisers that more of their search and display ads played a role in the conversion path, which brings us to second problem Attribution aims to solve.

2. How to easily inform bidding decisions based on full-funnel attribution data: By automatically sending modeled conversion data into AdWords, advertisers can see the conversion impact of keywords and ads based on multichannel and multidevice conversion path data. Automated bidding can take upper- and mid-funnel contributions into consideration. Again, this obviously has a benefit to Google as well.

How is this different from attribution already in AdWords?

Google has been taking steps over the past several years to take AdWords from an exclusively last-click platform to one that is more flexible. Google completed the migration from Converted Clicks to Conversions last September, in large part because Conversions supports attribution modeling other than last click. Google started showing click and conversion assist data from Analytics before that, but there was no way to set a conversion action to a model other than last-click for conversion reporting and bidding until last year.

The attribution tool introduced in AdWords in 2014 is for search funnels only, which means it only reports on whether users interact with multiple ads from an advertiser. It doesn’t provide any insight into the interplay of ads with marketing efforts on other channels, unless advertisers are using data-driven attribution (more on that below). Google Attribution provides the cross-channel context that is missing in AdWords attribution.

How is this different from what’s available in Analytics?

Through the existing integration with Google Analytics, AdWords advertisers have been able to see paid search and Display Network data in Analytics’ multichannel funnel reporting and in the attribution model comparison tool in Analytics. Attribution offers more depth than Analytics, however.

All of the attribution models in Google Attribution include more touch points than they do in Google Analytics. It also includes Google’s data-driven attribution.

What is the data-driven attribution model?

Attribution is by nature an imperfect science. Capturing all the touch points involved in a conversion event in one system, then assigning credit to one, some or all of those steps in a way that accurately reflects the impact on a consumer’s purchase decision is what Google is trying to get closer to with data-driven attribution.

Google’s own data-driven attribution model uses machine learning to understand how marketing touch points increase the likelihood of conversion given a particular sequence of exposures. Based on the custom probability modeling, the data-driven model assigns fractional conversion credit to each touch point.

Google first introduced data-driven attribution modeling in 2013. It’s been available in Google Analytics 360 and Google Attribution 360, and Google brought the model into AdWords last year.

Requirements: Because it doesn’t simply assign credit to an channel based on where it occurred on a conversion path, data-driven attribution needs sufficient data for the modeling to work. The modeling is done at the conversion action level. A conversion action must have at least 15,000 clicks and at least 600 conversions within 30 days to be eligible for data-driven modeling. The model then captures 30 consecutive days of data before reporting. (In a sign of advancement, when it first became available in AdWords, the data-driven model requirements were 20,000 clicks and at least 800 conversions.) If none of your conversion actions meet the criteria, it might make sense to set up a micro-conversion event that still has some business meaning and can be used to evaluate this model against the others.

Data-driven attribution in Google Analytics 360 only includes the last four touch points, whereas, in Google Attribution & Attribution 360, the model includes all touch points, whether a user visits the website or not. That means it also factors in ad impressions. Google says that where measurable, viewability can also be counted for display impressions.

In the screen shot example above, last-click/interaction attribution is compared against the data-driven model. My experience with using data-driven attribution in Adwords reflects the paid search results above, though less dramatically. Brand campaigns convert somewhat lower and non-brand campaigns convert somewhat higher when compared to last-click, which intuitively makes sense.

Google is encouraging adoption of data-driven attribution, but advertisers can still use the other models in Attribution. It’s possible to monitor and evaluate how the various models perform for each conversion action within Attribution before opting to push new models into AdWords. Once pushed, the models will override whatever models were set in AdWords, and conversion columns will reflect the new modeling. Automated bidding strategies will then use that data in decisioning.

Google Attribution is now in beta and will roll out to more advertisers over the coming months. In the meantime, advertisers can look at data-driven attribution modeling in AdWords if available.