Press "Enter" to skip to content

Ultimate SEO World

New Google Shopping Ads Policy Against Phishing & Scamming

Google has updated its Google Shopping Ads policies to add two new "unacceptable business practices." These include (1) scamming users by concealing or misstating information about the merchant's business, or product, or service and (2) offer destinations that use "phishing" techniques to gather user information.

Google: To Say All Link Building Is Bad Would Be Wrong

There you have it, Google's John Mueller said not all link building is bad. He said on Twitter "there are lots of ways to work on getting links that are fine, and useful for both the site and the rest of the web." "To say all link building is bad would be wrong," he added.

SEO Negotiation: How to Ace the Business Side of SEO — Best of Whiteboard Friday

Posted by BritneyMuller

SEO has become more important than ever, but it isn't all meta tags and content. A huge part of the success you'll see is tied up in the inevitable business negotiations. In this helpful Whiteboard Friday from August of 2018, our resident expert Britney Muller walks us through a bevy of smart tips and considerations that will strengthen your SEO negotiation skills, whether you're a seasoned pro or a newbie to the practice.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. So today we are going over all things SEO negotiation, so starting to get into some of the business side of SEO. As most of you know, negotiation is all about leverage.

It's what you have to offer and what the other side is looking to gain and leveraging that throughout the process. So something that you can go in and confidently talk about as SEOs is the fact that SEO has around 20X more opportunity than both mobile and desktop PPC combined.

This is a really, really big deal. It's something that you can showcase. These are the stats to back it up. We will also link to the research to this down below. Good to kind of have that in your back pocket. Aside from this, you will obviously have your audit. So potential client, you're looking to get this deal.

Get the most out of the SEO audit

☑ Highlight the opportunities, not the screw-ups

You're going to do an audit, and something that I have always suggested is that instead of highlighting the things that the potential client is doing wrong, or screwed up, is to really highlight those opportunities. Start to get them excited about what it is that their site is capable of and that you could help them with. I think that sheds a really positive light and moves you in the right direction.

☑ Explain their competitive advantage

I think this is really interesting in many spaces where you can sort of say, "Okay, your competitors are here, and you're currently here and this is why,"and to show them proof. That makes them feel as though you have a strong understanding of the landscape and can sort of help them get there.

☑ Emphasize quick wins

I almost didn't put this in here because I think quick wins is sort of a sketchy term. Essentially, you really do want to showcase what it is you can do quickly, but you want to...

☑ Under-promise, over-deliver

You don't want to lose trust or credibility with a potential client by overpromising something that you can't deliver. Get off to the right start. Under-promise, over-deliver.

Smart negotiation tactics

☑ Do your research

Know everything you can about this clientPerhaps what deals they've done in the past, what agencies they've worked with. You can get all sorts of knowledge about that before going into negotiation that will really help you.

☑ Prioritize your terms

So all too often, people go into a negotiation thinking me, me, me, me, when really you also need to be thinking about, "Well, what am I willing to lose?What can I give up to reach a point that we can both agree on?" Really important to think about as you go in.

☑ Flinch!

This is a very old, funny negotiation tactic where when the other side counters, you flinch. You do this like flinch, and you go, "Oh, is that the best you can do?" It's super silly. It might be used against you, in which case you can just say, "Nice flinch." But it does tend to help you get better deals.

So take that with a grain of salt. But I look forward to your feedback down below. It's so funny.

☑ Use the words "fair" and "comfortable"

The words "fair" and "comfortable" do really well in negotiations. These words are inarguable. You can't argue with fair. "I want to do what is comfortable for us both. I want us both to reach terms that are fair."

You want to use these terms to put the other side at ease and to also help bridge that gap where you can come out with a win-win situation.

☑ Never be the key decision maker

I see this all too often when people go off on their own, and instantly on their business cards and in their head and email they're the CEO.

They are this. You don't have to be that, and you sort of lose leverage when you are. When I owned my agency for six years, I enjoyed not being CEO. I liked having a board of directors that I could reach out to during a negotiation and not being the sole decision maker. Even if you feel that you are the sole decision maker, I know that there are people that care about you and that are looking out for your business that you could contact as sort of a business mentor, and you could use that in negotiation. You can use that to help you. Something to think about.

Tips for negotiation newbies

So for the newbies, a lot of you are probably like, "I can never go on my own. I can never do these things." I'm from northern Minnesota. I have been super awkward about discussing money my whole life for any sort of business deal. If I could do it, I promise any one of you watching this can do it.

☑ Power pose!

I'm not kidding, promise. Some tips that I learned, when I had my agency, was to power pose before negotiations. So there's a great TED talk on this that we can link to down below. I do this before most of my big speaking gigs, thanks to Mike Ramsey who told me to do this at SMX Advanced 3 years ago.

Go ahead and power pose. Feel good. Feel confident. Amp yourself up.

☑ Walk the walk

You've got to when it comes to some of these things and to just feel comfortable in that space.

☑ Good > perfect

Know that good is better than perfect. A lot of us are perfectionists, and we just have to execute good. Trying to be perfect will kill us all.

☑ Screw imposter syndrome

Many of the speakers that I go on different conference circuits with all struggle with this. It's totally normal, but it's good to acknowledge that it's so silly. So to try to take that silly voice out of your head and start to feel good about the things that you are able to offer.

Take inspiration where you can find it

I highly suggest you check out Brian Tracy's old-school negotiation podcasts. He has some old videos. They're so good. But he talks about leverage all the time and has two really great examples that I love so much. One being jade merchants. So these jade merchants that would take out pieces of jade and they would watch people's reactions piece by piece that they brought out.

So they knew what piece interested this person the most, and that would be the higher price. It was brilliant. Then the time constraints is he has an example of people doing business deals in China. When they landed, the Chinese would greet them and say, "Oh, can I see your return flight ticket? I just want to know when you're leaving."

They would not make a deal until that last second. The more you know about some of these leverage tactics, the more you can be aware of them if they were to be used against you or if you were to leverage something like that. Super interesting stuff.

Take the time to get to know their business

☑ Tie in ROI

Lastly, just really take the time to get to know someone's business. It just shows that you care, and you're able to prioritize what it is that you can deliver based on where they make the most money off of the products or services that they offer. That helps you tie in the ROI of the things that you can accomplish.

☑ Know the order of products/services that make them the most money

One real quick example was my previous company. We worked with plastic surgeons, and we really worked hard to understand that funnel of how people decide to get any sort of elective procedure. It came down to two things.

It was before and after photos and price. So we knew that we could optimize for those two things and do very well in their space. So showing that you care, going the extra mile, sort of tying all of these things together, I really hope this helps. I look forward to the feedback down below. I know this was a little bit different Whiteboard Friday, but I thought it would be a fun topic to cover.

So thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I will see you all soon. Bye.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don't miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year's MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry's top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It's like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

Still not convinced? Moz VP Product, Rob Ousbey, is here to share five highly persuasive reasons to attend!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

Manager Accounts Now On Google Ads Mobile App

The mobile app for iOS and Android for Google Ads now supports manager accounts. Google said "today, we're launching manager accounts in the mobile app so you can easily view and manage all of your Google Ads accounts in one place."

How to Bring Your Best Self to the Online Conference Season

Posted by cheryldraper

Conference season is here! Of course, this year it looks a bit different. Instead of signing in at the front table and snagging seats next to some new pals, you’ll be setting up your computer as the main stage.

For some, this is going to be a major learning curve. Virtual events can be tougher to follow and engage with. To help you out, we’ve compiled a list of best practices that will help you get ready to take on any online event you choose to attend this year.

Don't forget, if you haven't yet, there is still time to purchase your MozCon Virtual ticket!

Join us for MozCon Virtual!

Set your intention

To get the most out of your online event, you need to go in with an intention. That way you’ll be more likely to gain something from the experience.

Ask yourself, what are you hoping to achieve? Some examples could be:

  • Gain a business opportunity
  • Learn more about how to recover from the latest algorithm update
  • Find ways to increase efficiency within your SEO processes
  • Feel more confident selling your services

Schedule accordingly

    Many events will provide you with schedules ahead of time — look at them! (Pssst...if you haven’t yet, now is the perfect time to check out the agenda for MozCon Virtual.)

    These schedules can help you go into the conference with a clear idea of how you’re going to spend your time. Going in with a plan will allow you to focus on the content of the event and your intentions each day, as opposed to wasting time frantically trying to decide what sessions you’re going to attend.

    Choosing your sessions

    Once you know what your intentions are and you have the event schedule, determine what will be the most beneficial content for you. This can be especially helpful when the event has multiple tracks, very few break times, etc.

    Choosing your sessions may come down to a process of elimination, and it’s much easier to eliminate sessions when you have some sort of goal in mind.

    Things to consider when choosing your sessions are:

    • The topic
    • The speaker
    • The time
    • The availability of on-demand videos post-conference

    Your intention may be to broaden your horizons this year, so instead of opting to see presentations with the same topics or speakers that you saw last year, you may see someone new discussing something you find interesting but haven’t had time to explore. You may have a tight schedule and not be able to make anything past 3pm. If some of the sessions will be available after the conference, it may be worth checking out topics you wouldn’t have otherwise.

    Know when to take a break

    When you’re planning out your schedule, you need to make sure you build in time for breaks. This means time to eat, time to decompress, time to refill your coffee cup, and time to do work or home stuff.

    Conferences usually have a lot of breaks and that’s for good reason. Ideally, you’re going to be learning a lot. But if you try to learn it all at once without giving your brain a break, very little of it will stick.

    So, be sure to listen to your body. If you start to feel foggy or overwhelmed, take a break, grab some water, and move around a bit.

    Build in networking time

    Something else you want to account for when planning your virtual event agenda is when you’re going to network. Some conferences will have time to network built in, but others won’t.

    You’ll want to dedicate time to get to know the other attendees by joining conversations and adding people on social media. This will look a bit different in the virtual space, as you won’t be meeting for coffee or chatting in the lobby, but try to stay creative! Zoom chats and video calls are a great way to connect with new or old friends.

    Check out our recent blog on networking online like a champ for more tips.

    Recap at the end of the day

    At the end of each day, take some time to reflect. Think back to what your intention was, what you did throughout the day to fulfill that intention, and what you can put into action moving forward.

    This is a great exercise to ensure you’re making the most out of the event. Far too often, we take in all of the information and do nothing with it! That’s why we like to suggest creating at least three action items at the end of each day.

    Gather the essentials

      Okay, it’s the first day of the conference and you’re about to jump in front of the computer. BUT! Before you do that, you need to make sure you have everything you need to be successful.

      Get a clean notebook or start a fresh doc

      Having a clean slate for notes will help you stay focused while attending any conference (virtual or otherwise). So grab a new, crisp notebook or create a new document file on your computer before you get started.

      If you decide to go the computer route, be sure you close all other tabs and turn off notifications! You want to be sure that your attention stays on the conference.

      Taking notes during a virtual conference

      With that new notebook or document of yours, you’ll want to take the most effective notes possible. With that in mind, here are a few things to take note of:

      • What you learned
      • How can you apply it
      • What can you share with your team

      To ensure that you’re on track to capture each of these things, when you go into each session, write your intention for the session at the top of your notes page. Then, divide your pages by “what I learned,” “how to apply,” and “what to share.” This will keep your notes nice and organized and give you a visual cue on whether or not you’re getting what you expected out of the session. It will also make your end-of-day recap much easier.

      When it comes to virtual events, one of the biggest benefits is that you often get the slide decks and video bundles afterward. We suggest finding out whether the event you’re attending offers those things before you start taking notes, as it may lighten your note-taking burden a bit.

      Have some snacks, water, and coffee (or tea)

      Perhaps the most important things to have during a virtual conference are the snacks and drinks! As you know, at MozCon, we take this part very seriously, so we expect nothing less if you attend our virtual event.

      Brain food can help you stay focused. Some of our favorite snacks are granola bars, nuts, veggies, and of course, donuts. However, you have full control over the spread this year.

      Be sure to also have plenty of water and your favorite caffeinated beverage as well!

      Show up

        You’re ready to go! All that’s left is showing up. With virtual events, this can be hard to do. Especially if you know that the content is going to be available after the event is over. But there is so much to be gained by being a part of the live event and the conversations happening around it.

        So show up, and show out!

        PS: If you’re looking for a virtual event to attend this year, Roger is still hoping to give you a virtual hug at MozCon Virtual 2020.

        Join us for MozCon Virtual!

        Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

        GoogleBot Is Able To Add Products To Your Shopping Cart

        As I covered at Search Engine Land last night, according to a Wall Street Journal article, Google confirmed that it has systems that automatically will add products to your e-commerce site's shopping cart. It does this to verify the price merchants give them matches what is found in the shopping cart.

        How spam reports are used at Google

        Thanks to our users, we receive hundreds of spam reports every day. While many of the spam reports lead to manual actions, they represent a small fraction of the manual actions we issue. Most of the manual actions come from the work our internal teams regularly do to detect spam and improve search results. Today we’re updating our Help Center articles to better reflect this approach: we use spam reports only to improve our spam detection algorithms. Spam reports play a significant role: they help us understand where our automated spam detection systems may be missing coverage. Most of the time, it’s much more impactful for us to fix an underlying issue with our automated detection systems than it is to take manual action on a single URL or site. In theory, if our automated systems were perfect, we would catch all spam and not need reporting systems at all.…

        Are Link Attributes All About SEO? Check This Data From Google.

        John Mueller of Google said on Twitter "people make all kinds of links, and we ignore a lot of links, but at their core, links are not about SEO anyway." He then shared a spreadsheet of the results of the link attributes from the HTTP Archive that he grabbed a while back.

        Page Speed Optimization: Metrics, Tools, and How to Improve — Best of Whiteboard Friday

        Posted by BritneyMuller

        Page speed has always been a crucial part of SEO work, and as more companies make the shift to online operations, optimization becomes more important than ever. However, it's a complex subject that tends to be very technical. What are the most crucial things to understand about your site's page speed, and how can you begin to improve? To help you answer these questions, we're sharing this popular episode of Whiteboard Friday (originally published in February 2019) where Britney Muller goes over what you need to know to get started.

        Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

        Video Transcription

        Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we're going over all things page speed and really getting to the bottom of why it's so important for you to be thinking about and working on as you do your work.

        At the very fundamental level I'm going to briefly explain just how a web page is loaded. That way we can sort of wrap our heads around why all this matters.

        How a webpage is loaded

        A user goes to a browser, puts in your website, and there is a DNS request. This points at your domain name provider, so maybe GoDaddy, and this points to your server where your files are located, and this is where it gets interesting. So the DOM starts to load all of your HTML, your CSS, and your JavaScript. But very rarely does this one pull all of the needed scripts or needed code to render or load a web page.

        Typically the DOM will need to request additional resources from your server to make everything happen, and this is where things start to really slow down your site. Having that sort of background knowledge I hope will help in us being able to triage some of these issues.

        Issues that could be slowing down your site

        What are some of the most common culprits?

        1. First and foremost is images. Large images are the biggest culprit of slow loading web pages.
        2. Hosting can cause issues.
        3. Plugins, apps, and widgets, basically any third-party script as well can slow down load time.
        4. Your theme and any large files beyond that can really slow things down as well.
        5. Redirects, the number of hops needed to get to a web page will slow things down.
        6. Then JavaScript, which we'll get into in a second.

        But all of these things can be a culprit. So we're going to go over some resources, some of the metrics and what they mean, and then what are some of the ways that you can improve your page speed today.

        Page speed tools and resources

        The primary resources I have listed here are Google tools and Google suggested insights. I think what's really interesting about these is we get to see what their concerns are as far as page speed goes and really start to see the shift towards the user. We should be thinking about that anyway. But first and foremost, how is this affecting people that come to your site, and then secondly, how can we also get the dual benefit of Google perceiving it as higher quality?

        We know that Google suggests a website to load anywhere between two to three seconds. The faster the better, obviously. But that's sort of where the range is. I also highly suggest you take a competitive view of that. Put your competitors into some of these tools and benchmark your speed goals against what's competitive in your industry. I think that's a cool way to kind of go into this.

        Chrome User Experience Report

        This is Chrome real user metrics. Unfortunately, it's only available for larger, popular websites, but you get some really good data out of it. It's housed on BigQuery*, so some basic SQL knowledge is needed.

        *Editor's note: We've edited this transcript for accuracy. In the video Britney said "BigML," but intended to say BigQuery. It's hard filming an advanced-topic Whiteboard Friday in a single take! :-)

        Lighthouse

        Lighthouse, one of my favorites, is available right in Chrome Dev Tools. If you are on a web page and you click Inspect Element and you open up Chrome Dev Tools, to the far right tab where it says Audit, you can run a Lighthouse report right in your browser.

        What I love about it is it gives you very specific examples and fixes that you can do. A fun fact to know is it will automatically be on the simulated fast 3G, and notice they're focused on mobile users on 3G. I like to switch that to applied fast 3G, because it has Lighthouse do an actual run of that load. It takes a little bit longer, but it seems to be a little bit more accurate. Good to know.

        Page Speed Insights

        Page Speed Insights is really interesting. They've now incorporated Chrome User Experience Report. But if you're not one of those large sites, it's not even going to measure your actual page speed. It's going to look at how your site is configured and provide feedback according to that and score it. Just something good to be aware of. It still provides good value.

        Test your mobile website speed and performance

        I don't know what the title of this is. If you do, please comment down below. But it's located on testmysite.thinkwithgoogle.com. This one is really cool because it tests the mobile speed of your site. If you scroll down, it directly ties it into ROI for your business or your website. We see Google leveraging real-world metrics, tying it back to what's the percentage of people you're losing because your site is this slow. It's a brilliant way to sort of get us all on board and fighting for some of these improvements.

        Pingdom and GTmetrix are non-Google products or non-Google tools, but super helpful as well.

        Site speed metrics

        So what are some of the metrics?

        What is first paint?

        First paint is he first non-blank paint on a screen. It could be just the first pixel change. That initial change is considered first paint.

        What is first contentful paint?

        First contentful paint is when the first content appears. This might be part of the nav or the search bar or whatever it might be. --That's the first contentful paint.

        What is first meaningful paint?

        First meaningful paint is when primary content is visible. When you sort of get that reaction of, "Oh, yeah, this is what I came to this page for," that's first meaningful paint.

        What is time to interactive?

        Time to interactive is when it's visually usable and engage-able. So we've all gone to a web page and it looks like it's done, but we can't quite use it yet. That's where this metric comes in. So when is it usable for the user? Again, notice how user-centric even these metrics are. Really, really neat.

        DOM content loaded

        The DOM content loaded, this is when the HTML is completely loaded and parsed. So some really good ones to keep an eye on and just to be aware of in general.

        Ways to improve your page speed

        HTTP/2

        HTTP/2 can definitely speed things up. As to what extent, you have to sort of research that and test.

        Preconnect, prefetch, preload

        Preconnect, prefetch, and preload really interesting and important in speeding up a site. We see Google doing this on their SERPs. If you inspect an element, you can see Google prefetching some of the URLs so that it has it faster for you if you were to click on some of those results. You can similarly do this on your site. It helps to load and speed up that process.

        Enable caching & use a content delivery network (CDN)

        Caching is so, so important. Definitely do your research and make sure that's set up properly. Same with CDNs, so valuable in speeding up a site, but you want to make sure that your CDN is set up properly.

        Compress images

        The easiest and probably quickest way for you to speed up your site today is really just to compress those images. It's such an easy thing to do. There are all sorts of free tools available for you to compress them. Optimizilla is one. You can even use free tools on your computer, Save for Web, and compress properly.

        Minify resources

        You can also minify resources. So it's really good to be aware of what minification, bundling, and compression do so you can have some of these more technical conversations with developers or with anyone else working on the site.

        So this is sort of a high-level overview of page speed. There's a ton more to cover, but I would love to hear your input and your questions and comments down below in the comment section.

        I really appreciate you checking out this edition of Whiteboard Friday, and I will see you all again soon. Thanks so much. See you.

        Video transcription by Speechpad.com


        Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

        Don't miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year's MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry's top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It's like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

        Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

        We can't wait to see you there!

        Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

        Behind the Scenes at MozCon Virtual

        Posted by Dr-Pete

        Re-imagining MozCon hasn't been easy. I won't lie — I'll miss seeing so many of you in person, and, yes, I'll miss the magic of the big stage. We're working hard to make this year special, including leveling up our speakers for their remote sessions. I recently shared my own set-up on Twitter:

        This stirred up quite a bit of interest in our set-up and equipment list, so thanks to Cheryl on our events team for filling in the blanks for me, and thanks to our amazing A/V partners at Seamless Events for helping this all come together. Also, many thanks to our speakers who gave me permission to share their photos and let you in on some of the magic behind in front of the curtain.

        MozCon Virtual equipment list

        Before we get to the fun part (or maybe this is the fun part for you), here's the standard equipment list our A/V team used for MozCon Virtual (some speaker set-ups may vary):

        • Logitech C920 HD Pro Webcam (more info)
        • Neewer Backdrop Support System (more info)
        • Neewer Gray Photography Backdrop (more info)
        • UBeesize 8-inch Selfie Ring Light w/ Tripod Stand (more info)
        • Z ZAFFIRO USB Lavalier Lapel Clip Microphone (more info)
        • Vilcome 4-in-1 USB C Hub Adapter (more info)

        Note that some of the models/sizes linked to in [more info] may not be exact matches to our kit. While Moz doesn't endorse any of these specific products, I've personally been pleasantly surprised at how affordable and accessible decent A/V equipment has become, and quarantine is making the value proposition even stronger.

        The presenter remote on my desk is not part of the kit, but is my own Logitech R400 (more info). I've had this one for almost six years, and wish I'd bought my own remote sooner. I use it even when I'm presenting at my desk or practicing on a plane (that may say more about me than about Logitech, admittedly). The LEGOs and half-finished LaCroix were not included in the speaker kit, although LEGOs factor heavily into my MozCon presentation.

        Sneak-peeks with our speakers

        Just for fun, here's a sneak-peek at a few of our speakers and their set-ups.

        Dana DiTomaso (@danaditomaso)

        I was going to make all of the photos 16:9 like the one above, but Dana ruined that by having this amazing skylight in her loft, so all of the speakers are getting big photos now.

        Dana's MozCon Virtual session:
        "Red Flags: Use a discovery process to go from red flags to green lights"


        Izzi Smith (@izzionfire)

        If I hadn't resorted to full-sized photos for Dana, I would've done it for Izzi's wall art.

        Izzi's MozCon Virtual Session:
        "How to Be Ahead of the (CTR) Curve"


        Shannon McGuirk (@ShannonMcGuirk_)

        Shannon braved a trek to the office just for MozCon and wins the award for looking more professional than the rest of us. I cleaned my home office. That counts for something, right?

        Shannon's MozCon Virtual Session:
        "Great Expectations: The Truth About Digital PR Campaigns"


        Ross Simmonds (@TheCoolestCool)

        Ross has clearly got chair game. My $79 knock-off Aeron from Costco is looking pretty sad...

        Ross's MozCon Virtual Session:
        "Designing a Content Engine: Going from Ideation to Creation to Distribution"


        Robin Lord (@robinlord8)

        Robin went for the rare standing set-up. Robin has also delegated his copy of "Pandemic" to being a monitor stand, as it's far too depressing to play right now.

        Robin's MozCon Virtual Session:
        "Whatever You Do, Put Billboards in Seattle – Getting Brand Awareness Data from Google"


        Rob Ousbey (@RobOusbey)

        I'm not sure if Rob is expertly offsetting his window light with two ring lights or if we just forgot to send him the instruction sheet. He's my boss, so I'll assume the former.

        Rob's MozCon Virtual Session:
        "A Novel Approach to Scraping Websites"


        Sarah Bird (@SarahBird)

        Last, but certainly not least, our own CEO, Sarah Bird, who apparently gets to have a hammock outside her office, because she's the boss.

        Sarah's MozCon Virtual Session:
        "Welcome to MozCon Virtual 2020 + the State of the Industry"


        The idea for this post was a little last-minute, and I didn't want to personally annoy every speaker with photo requests, so a big thanks to all of our speakers for going the extra mile to make the shift to a virtual event with us and set up all of this equipment. Special thanks to Cheryl and Carly for all of their work pulling this plan together.

        What's your home set-up?

        Have you leveled up your A/V set-up and you're just itching to show it off? Let us know about your favorite equipment in the comments, or send us your home-office photos on Twitter (@Moz).

        Join us for MozCon Virtual!

        Hope to see you at MozCon Virtual on July 14-15. No need to book a hotel or flight, so there's still time to join us, and the $129 special price includes all speaker videos!

        Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

        Google Maps Adds Large Button To Support Local Businesses

        Google Maps has added a large button on some map interfaces asking you to support your local businesses. The button says "support local businesses" and lets you the explore those businesses. When you click on it, it takes you into the explore nearby feature.

        Thinking Beyond the Link Building “Campaign” [Case Study]

        Posted by Paddy_Moogan

        Over the years, I’ve often referred to our link building work as “campaigns”, which isn't wrong, but isn’t completely right, either. I think that as an industry we need to alter our mindset to focus on what link building should be: an ongoing, integrated, business-as-usual activity.

        Link building processes that work for brands now and that will continue to work in the future need to sit closer to the rest of the business. This means tighter integration with other disciplines, or at the very least, acknowledgment that link building isn’t a siloed activity or dark art like it used to be.

        In this post, I’d like to propose how we should think about link building and share some ways to make it more sustainable, efficient, and effective.

        The problem with campaigns

        I want to start by being super clear on something, and I make no apologies for reiterating this throughout this post: Link building campaigns aren’t a bad thing. My core point is that they should be thought of as one piece of the puzzle — not something we should focus all of our time and attention on.

        “Campaign”, in the context of link building or digital PR, implies a few things:

        • It has a start and an end point
        • It is a one-off activity
        • It is about a specific “thing”, whether that be a topic, product, or piece of content

        There is nothing wrong with these as such, but link building shouldn’t be thought about only in these ways. If link building is seen as a series of one-off activities, or about a specific thing and with a start and end point, it’s never going to be integrated into a business the way it should be. It will always sit around the edges of marketing activity and not benefit the bottom line as much as it could.

        Even if you are reading this thinking that you’re okay because you have lots of campaigns lined up — maybe one a week, one a month, or one a quarter — the core problems still exist, but at a more zoomed-out level.

        As digital marketers, we want link building to be:

        • Taken seriously as a tactic which helps support SEO within a business
        • Integrated with other areas to allow for efficiency and wider benefits
        • Fit into the overarching digital strategy of a business
        • Have measurable, consistent results

        Let me demonstrate the final point with the graph below, which is the monthly performance of an Aira client on a 6-8 week campaign schedule:

        On the face of it, this looks pretty good. We built over 200 links in 12 months, and were ahead of target in terms of individual campaign objectives.

        This graph is the reality of link building campaign execution. We were honest and up-front with clients about the results, and those peaks and dips are perfectly normal.

        But it could (and should) be a lot better.

        Let’s take a quick step back.

        An uncomfortable truth

        The uncomfortable truth for many link builders is that a business shouldn’t really need to worry about link building as an intentional, proactive activity. Instead, links should be a natural consequence of a fantastic product or service which is marketed and branded well.

        However, companies in this position are the exception rather than the rule, which means that as link builders, we still have a job!

        I’d argue that there are only a relatively small number of businesses that truly don’t need to worry about link building. Think of the likes of well-established and popular brands like Apple, McDonalds, Amazon and Coca-Cola. These companies truly are the exception, rather than the rule.

        Trying to be an exception and aiming to reach the nirvana of never actively worrying about link building should absolutely be your goal. Putting efforts into areas such as product development, customer service, content strategy, and brand building will all pay dividends when it comes to link building. But they all take time and you need to generate organic traffic sooner rather than later in order to grow the business.

        Link building, as part of your larger integrated and robust digital strategy can get you there quicker. I worry that businesses often leave money on the table by waiting for that nirvana to come. They may indeed get there, but could they have gotten there sooner?

        The question then becomes, how do they move quicker toward that ideal state, and what does link building look like in the interim? Running campaigns can help for sure, but you’re not really building upward as quickly as you could be.

        This is the crux of my worry and problem with running link building campaigns and allowing our strategies to lean on them too heavily:

        When the campaigns stop, so will the links.

        I know, I know — Aira launches campaigns all the time.

        Yes, we have launched many, many link building campaigns at Aira over the years and have been nominated for campaign-specific awards for some of them. I’ve even written about them many times. Campaign-led link building has a very valuable part to play in the world of link building, but we need to reframe our thinking and move away from campaigns as the primary way to generate links to a business.

        Driving the right behaviors

        It’s not just about results. It’s about driving the right behaviors within businesses, too.

        Putting link building in the corner of a one-off project or campaign-led activity is not going to encourage habitual link building. It will drive behaviors and thinking which you don’t really want, such as:

        • Link building is a line item which can be switched on and off
        • Internal processes have to bend or break in order to accommodate link building
        • There is little desire or motivation for wider team members to learn about what link builders do
        • Link building is an isolated activity with no integration
        • Link building results aren’t consistent (you get those huge peaks and dips in performance, which can bring into question the marketing spend you’re being given)

        Working under these pressures is not going to make your life easy, nor are you going to do the best job you possibly can.

        I worry that as an industry, we’ve become too focused on launching campaign after campaign and have gotten too far away from effecting change within organizations through our work.

        As digital marketers, we are trying to influence behaviors. Ultimately, it’s about the behaviors of customers, but before that point it’s about influencing stakeholders — whether you’re an agency or in-house SEO, our first job is to get things done. In order to do that, link building needs to be thought of as a business-as-usual (BAU) activity. Campaigns have a place, but are part of a much, much bigger picture. Link building needs to get to the point where it’s not “special” to build links to a content piece, it’s just done. If we can get there, not only will we accelerate the businesses we work with toward link building nirvana, but we will add much, much more value to them in the meantime.

        Link building as a BAU activity

        It is my firm belief that in order to mature as an industry, and specifically as an activity, link building needs to be understood much more than it currently is. It still suffers from the issues that plagued SEO for many years in the early days when it truly was a dark art and we were figuring it out as we went along.

        Don’t get me wrong, we’ve come a long way, especially since April 2012 (can you really believe it was over eight years ago?!) when link building began evolving into a content-led practice thanks in part to the Penguin update.

        But we still have further to go.

        We need to get out of the corner of “launching a campaign” and train our bosses and clients to ask questions like, “How can link building help here?” and “Is there a link building opportunity in this activity?”.

        A case study

        The best way I can explain this shift in thinking is to give you a real example of how we’ve done it at Aira. I can’t give you the exact client, but I can give you an overview of the journey we’ve been on with them, supporting an SEO team that is relentlessly committed to getting things done — the perfect partners for such an initiative.

        I should also point out that this has never been easy. We are on this journey with a number of our clients, and some of them are barely into it. The examples here show what happens when you get it right — but it does take time, and the reality is that it may never happen for some businesses.

        Where it started

        One campaign. That was it. One shot to get links and show the client what we could do.

        We failed.

        This was back in 2016. We were lucky in that the client trusted the process and understood why things had gone wrong on this occasion. So, they gave us another chance and this time did a great job.

        From there, the project grew and grew to the point where we were launching scaled campaigns like clockwork and getting links consistently. All was well.

        Then I was asked a question by someone on the client’s team:

        “What’s the evolution of our link building?”

        Whilst link building is never far from my mind, I didn’t have a mental model to answer this straight away with any conviction — particularly given what I knew about this client and their industry. I took some time to think about it and consolidate a bunch of observations and opinions I’d actually had for years, but never really made concrete.

        Side note: It’s often hard to take a step back from the day-to-day of what you’re doing and think about the bigger picture or the future. It’s even more difficult when you’re growing a business and generally doing good work. It can be hard to justify “rocking the boat” when things are going well, but I’ve learned that you need to find time for this reflection. For me at that point in time, it took a direct question from my client to force me into that mindset.

        My answer

        I confirmed that our existing model of link building for them was something that was likely to continue working and adding value, but that it should NOT be our sole focus in the coming years.

        Then, I explained what I’ve talked about in this post thus far.

        I told them that our work wasn’t good enough, despite them being one of our happiest, most long-standing clients. We were getting hundreds of links a month, but we could do better.

        Running campaign after campaign and getting links to each one would not be good enough in the future. Sure it works now, but what about in two years? Five?? Probably only partly.

        We knew we needed to bridge the gap between different content types:

        • Content for links (aka campaigns)
        • Content for traffic (informational and transactional pages)
        • Content for building expertise and trust

        We’d only been focusing on the first one, pretty much in isolation. We’d come up with some relevant topic ideas, build them out and get links. Job done.

        This wouldn’t be good enough a few years down the road, because link building would be taking place in a small pocket of a very large organization with limited integration.

        It’s now been over a year since that conversation and guess what? Our campaigns are still working great, but we are evolving to do so much more.

        What happened

        If you haven’t taken a look at what else your business is doing and where link building can add value, this is the first step towards better integration, and thus better link building. By the time the conversation above happened, we’d already recognized the need to integrate with other teams within the client’s organization, so we had a head start.

        With the help of the client’s SEO team, we started to discover other activities within the organization which we could add value to or leverage for greater wins:

        • The traditional marketing team had been running campaigns for years on different industry topics. Some of these crossed over with the topics we’d created content for.
        • The internal PR team had lots of activity going on and had often seen our coverage pop up on their trackers. As it turned out, they were just as keen to meet us and understand more about our processes.
        • The brand team was starting to review all on-site assets to ensure conformity to brand guidelines. Working with them was going to be important moving forward for consistency’s sake.
        • With our help, the client were building out more informational content related to their products, with us helping brief their internal copywriters.

        All of these opportunities sowed the seeds for a new focus on the evolution of link building, and pushed us to move quicker into a few things including:

        • Running joint projects with the internal PR team where we collaborate on ideas and outreach that don’t just focus on data visualization
        • Running ideation sessions around topics given to us by the SEO team, which are also focused on by their traditional marketing team
        • Building relationships with several subject matter experts within the organization who we are now working with and promoting online (more on this below)
        • Testing the informational product content for link building after noticing that a few pieces naturally attracted links
        • Working alongside the PR team to carry out brand-reclamation-style link building

        Where we are now

        Just one year from that open and honest conversation, we have been able to show our value beyond launching campaign after campaign whilst still building links to the client’s content. This will hold value for years to come and mean that their reliance on campaigns will be reduced more and more over time.

        We’re making good progress toward taking our reliance off campaigns and making it part of our strategy — not all of it. Yes, campaigns still drive the majority of links, but our strategy now includes some key changes:

        • All campaigns (with the odd exception) are evergreen in nature, can always be outreached, and have the ability to attract links on their own.
        • We are launching long-form, report-style content pieces that demonstrate the authority and expertise the client has in their industry, and then building links to them. (They’re far slower in terms of getting links, but they are doing well.)
        • We are raising the profile of key spokespeople within the business by connecting them with writers and journalists who can contact them directly for quotes and comments in the future.
        • We are doing prospecting and outreach for informational content, aiming to give them a nudge in rankings which will lead to more links in the future (that we didn’t have to ask for).

        Link building isn’t quite a BAU activity just yet for this client, but it’s not far off from becoming one. The practice is taken seriously, not just within the SEO team, but also within the wider marketing team. There is more awareness than there has ever been.

        Content strategy framework

        I want to share the framework which we’ve used to support and visualize the shift away from campaigns as our sole link building strategy.

        We’ve been aware for a while that we need to ensure any link building work we do is topically relevant. We’d found ourselves defaulting to content which was campaign-led and focused on links, as opposed to content that can serve other purposes.

        Link builders need to take a long, hard look at the topics we want our clients and businesses to be famous for, credible to talk about, and that resonate with their audience. Once you have these topics, you can start to plan your content execution. After that, you’ll start to see where link building fits in.

        Contrast this with the approach of “we need links, let’s come up with some relevant content ideas to help do that.” This can work, but isn’t as effective.

        To help clients shift their strategies, we put together the framework below. Here’s how it works:

        Let’s imagine we sell products that help customers sleep better. We may come up with the following themes and topics:

        

        Notice that “Campaigns” is only one format. We’re also acknowledging that topics and themes can not only lead to other forms of content (and links), but also that our KPIs may not always be just links.

        If we put together a long-form content guide on the science of sleep, it may not get on the front page of the New York Times, but it may get a slow, steady stream of links and organic search traffic. This traffic could include potential customers for a sleep product.

        Once you have a specific topic in mind, you can go deeper into that topic and start thinking about what content pieces you can create to truly demonstrate expertise and authority. This will differ by client and by topic, but it could look something like this:

        In this case, the blue circles denote a topic + format which may be link-worthy. While the orange ones denote a valuable execution that aren’t as link-worthy, we may still want to create this content for longer-term link and traffic generation.

        To wrap up

        Link building campaigns still have huge amounts of value. But if that’s all you’re doing for clients, you’re leaving opportunities behind. Think bigger and beyond campaigns to see what else can be done to move you and your business closer to link building nirvana.

        Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

        How to Choose the Most Link-Worthy Data Source for Your Content

        Posted by Domenica

        Fractl has produced thousands of content marketing campaigns across every topic, and for the past seven years, we’ve been keeping track of each and every campaign in order to refine and improve the content we produce on behalf of our clients.

        In my last post for Moz, I explained how to set realistic digital PR expectations for your content based on your niche. In this topic, I want to dive a little bit deeper into the data and share insights about how the source of your content can be just as important in determining how your content will perform.

        In this analysis, I looked at 1,474 client content campaigns across six different data source categories:

        • Client data
        • Social media
        • Participatory methods
        • Publicly available data
        • Survey
        • Germ swab

        It’s important to note that there are countless other data sources that we use for content campaigns every day at Fractl that are not mentioned in this article. In this analysis, each category has at least 20 campaigns, while some categories have several hundred campaigns.

        It’s also important to note that averages were collected by excluding upper outliers. For campaigns that went “viral” and performed well above the norm, we excluded them in the calculation so as not to skew the averages higher.

        In addition to sharing link and press averages, I will also be walking through how to produce pressworthy, sharable content from each data source and providing examples.

        Managing expectations across content types

        Across the entire sample of 1,474 campaigns, a project on average received 24 dofollow links and 89 press mentions in total.

        A press mention is defined as any time the content campaign was mentioned on a publisher’s website.

        There were some individual data source category averages that were on par with the sample average, while other categories deviated greatly from the sample average.

        Publicly available data

        For almost any niche out there, you can bet there is a publicly available data set available for use. Some examples include data from the CDC, the U.S. Census, colleges and universities, the WHO, and the TSA. The opportunities really are endless when it comes to using publicly available data as a methodology for your content.

        While free data sets can be a treasure trove of information for your content, keep in mind that they’re not always the simplest to work with. They do require a lot of analysis to make sense of the massive amount of information in them, and to make the insights digestible for your audience.

        Take for example a campaign we produced for a client called Neighborhood Names. The data was free from the US Census, but in order to make any sense of it, our researchers had to use QGIS, Python, text-mining, and phrasemachine (a text analysis API) just to narrow it down to what we were looking for.

        And what were we looking for? Looking at neighborhood names across America seems boring at first, until you realize that certain words correspond to wealth.

        I was the outreach specialist for this project, and by using the wealth angle, I was able to secure two notable placements on CNBC as well as a press mention on MSN. The project quickly made its way around the internet after that, earning 76 dofollow links and 202 total press mentions by the end of our reporting period.

        Survey

        Unlike scouring the internet for free data, using a survey as a methodology can be more costly. That being said, there is one major advantage to using a survey to shape your content: you can find out anything you want.

        While publicly available data will tell a story, it’s not always the story you want to tell, and that’s where surveys come in.

        Of course, when it comes to surveys, anyone can create one without paying attention to research method best practices. That's one of the problems we need to address. With “fake news” in the forefront of everyone’s minds in 2020, building trust with journalists and editors is of the utmost importance.

        As content creators, we have a responsibility to ensure that content is not only attention-grabbing and entertaining, but also accurate and informative.

        Survey campaigns, in particular, require you to analyze responses through a rigorous methodological lens. When collecting data for surveys, be sure to pay close attention to ethical upholdance, data validity, and fair visual representations.

        Germ swab

        From my own personal experience, germ swab content campaigns are the most fun, and often, the most disturbing. Fractl did some research a while back about the emotions that make content go viral, and oftentimes, germ swab campaigns hit all of the right emotions in the viral equation.

        Negative emotions like disgust are often evoked when reviewing the results of germ swab campaigns. Our study found that when negative emotions are paired with emotions like anticipation or surprise, they can still achieve viral success (internet viral, not germ viral). What is more surprising than finding out the airplane tray table is dirtier than a toilet seat?

        Publishers around the world seemed to think the content was surprising, too. This campaign performed above the norm for a typical content campaign earning 38 dofollows and 195 total press mentions — and this was before the COVID-19 pandemic.

        Participatory methods

        Participatory methods are campaigns that require active participation for the methodology. These are unique ideas — no two are alike. Some examples of campaigns that fall under the participatory methods category are when we had team members do a 30-day squat challenge, asked respondents to draw brand logos from memory, or when we literally drove from D.C. to NYC with a dash cam to record traffic violations.

        These campaigns have a certain level of risk associated with them. They require a lot of upfront effort and planning without the promise of any return — and that’s scary for clients and for our team who put in tremendous effort to pull them off.

        As you can see from the chart above, however, these ideas collectively performed right on par with other campaign types, and even better than survey methodologies for both the number of dofollow links and press mentions. In order to reap big benefits, it seems you need to be willing to take a big risk.

        Social media

        Social media as a data source is almost a no-brainer, right up there with survey methodologies and publicly available data sets. Unlike participatory methods campaigns, you don’t have to leave your computer in order to produce a campaign based on social media data.

        Through our seven years of content creation, Fractl has produced campaigns based on data scrapes from Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, Reddit, and more. From this experience, we know firsthand what kinds of social campaigns work and which ones fall flat.

        The best thing about using social media as a source for content is that it can be applied to all verticals.

        The biggest lesson we’ve learned from producing content based on social media data is that the methodology is typically subjective, so you need to keep the project lighthearted in nature in order to earn major coverage.

        For example, we produced a campaign for a client in which we looked at Instagram posts with the hashtag #sexy and a geolocation. From this, we were able to glean the “sexiest” countries in the world as well as U.S. states.

        While it would be impossible to learn what the actual sexiest places in the world were, (what does that even mean?) we were able to produce a fun campaign that used geo-bait to appeal to lighthearted publishers, like Glamour, E! Online, Women's Health, and Elite Daily.

        Make sure that no matter the topic, whatever you produce contributes to an ongoing conversation. Statistics that don’t point to anything meaningful won’t be relevant for writers actually trying to add to the conversation.

        Client data

        Client data is often the most underappreciated data source for content marketers. You may be sitting on a wealth of actionable industry insights and not even know it.

        You might think of internal data as only being useful for improving your internal processes at work, but it can also be valuable outside of your organization.

        Unlike publicly available data, internal data is never-before-seen and 100% unique. Journalists eat this up because it means that you’re providing completely exclusive resources.

        Think of this article, for example. This article is filled with data and insights that Fractl has gleaned after producing thousands of content marketing campaigns.

        An added bonus of using internal data to craft your content is that, according to our analysis, it performs on par with surveys. Unlike surveys, though, it’s completely free.

        Conclusion

        No matter what methodology you’re using or vertical you’re creating content for, it’s important to realize that as content creators, we have an ethical and moral responsibility to create with an audience in mind.

        With “fake news” on the forefront of everyone’s minds, building and maintaining trust with writers and editors is of the utmost importance.

        All of the content you produce and promote must be assessed through a rigorous methodological lens to ensure that content is accurate and informative as well as eye-grabbing and entertaining.

        Regardless of your methodology, if you don’t take the proper steps to make sure your data sources are accurate, you are contributing to the fake news epidemic.

        Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

        Google: Structured Data Does Not Help Us Trust Authority Or Expertise Of Content

        Google's John Mueller said again that using structured data does not give Google something that it can rely on for saying a page or piece of content is correct, trustworthy and authoritative. Google's John Mueller said in a recent Google hangout at the 9:53 mark "it's not that there is a specific structured data element that you can put on a page and say, well, my page is correct, or my information is correct."