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Link Relevance vs. Content Relevance in Link Building

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Link Relevance vs. Content Relevance in Link Building

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Relevance is talked about a lot in the context of link building. In truth, it’s something that no one can really provide a concrete (or even close to concrete) answer to, because none of us knows exactly how Google measures relevance. Even having access to things like the Google Natural Language Processing API and seeing categories such as this doesn’t mean that we know how Google measures relevance themselves, because there will be so much more under the hood that isn’t visible to the public.

Even if we did know exactly how Google measures relevance, the extent to which they reward or penalize what they find as they crawl the web is also up for debate — like any ranking signal. We know that they use page speed, but they are also free to turn the dial on this up and down however they want.

This, in part, is why SEO is so fascinating. We’re optimizing for something that we can’t completely see and testing and refining based on the results we get. We can speculate on what Google may do or what we observe them doing, then a peer may see the exact opposite, and both may be right.

When it comes to link building and, specifically, the part that relevance plays, the potential answers are a lot more complex than we think. This is because relevance isn’t binary. We can’t just say that a link is relevant or not. We can’t say that content is relevant or not. The answers are far more nuanced than this, and we need to split things out a lot more to even begin to comprehend how Google may look at things.

With that in mind, let’s start by splitting out link relevance and content relevance.

Link relevance

When we talk about link relevance, we’re referring to the topic of the page and domain where the link is placed. When building links, we often look for target websites to outreach to and generally, it’s a good idea to find “relevant” links, but “relevant” is actually quite tricky to define. Here are some examples why.

Domain relevance

If you get a link from Moz.com, then we’d say that the topics are things like SEO, digital marketing, content marketing, etc. These are a few of the broad topics that we’d classify Moz into. Whilst digital marketing in itself is a big topic, it’s not that complex or tricky to define the Moz domain and therefore, understand what is and isn’t relevant to it.

Page relevance

Things can get more complicated than this if you think about websites such as The New York Times which has dozens of categories and hundreds of subcategories. Broadly, they would be classified as a news website, but they have categories for pretty much every topic that you can think of.

Anchor text

Additionally, we can add other elements to link relevance such as anchor text. What if you get super relevant anchor text but the page where the link is placed is about a completely different topic that isn’t relevant? Does this make the link more or less relevant?

In many cases, you may not even control the anchor text that is being used which means that it can be completely random. We know that Google use anchor text for understanding a link, but to what extent do they use it?

And this is just touching the surface of what link relevance can include.

Content relevance

We then have content relevance which is more about the page on your website that you get links to. It could be an existing page or it could be a brand new page that you’ve created to help with link building.

The attributes of content that sits on your website are far more under your control, so if you create something that is designed to get links and starts to go off topic a little, it’s perfectly reasonable to expect Google to take a harsher view on this in holding you accountable.

Things get hard when you remember that as SEOs, we often have link targets that we want to meet in order to catch up, overtake, or stay ahead of our competition. We want to get as many quality links as possible in order to increase the amount of traffic that we get from organic search.

To get more links, you can go broader with the topics and themes that you produce content about. This naturally opens up more potential link targets which in turn, increases the chances of you getting more links.

What all of this comes down to is striking the balance between producing a piece of content that is relevant to your brand, whilst getting as many links as possible. It can look something like this:

As you can see, many agencies (and in-house teams!) sit toward the right and are prepared to go wider with topics and themes because it can lead to more links. Irrelevance is driven by the pressure to build large volumes of links, and our industry does a great job of showcasing link building campaigns that have gotten hundreds of links, so we believe that this is what all of us should be aiming for.

However, Google wants us more focused on relevant themes because ultimately, they want us to deserve any links that we get.

My take: link relevance matters a lot less than content relevance

Having talked about each one, my take is that content relevance matters a lot less than link relevance to Google and therefore, to your ability to rank in organic search. Here are a few reasons why.

Anyone can link to you

Literally anyone on the web can link to your website, it’s not something that you can actually control. This is party why link spam is so hard to deal with and why the disavow tool was invented.

Even putting spam to one side, anyone can link to you for any reason they want.

For example, I can link from right here on the Moz blog to one of my favorite content pieces of all time. Neither website is related to each other in terms of the business they do and this is a blog post about link building that links to content about movies. But no one would see this as spammy.

What if your personal blog about SEO gets a link from NASA? I’m sure you wouldn’t be complaining about it!

The point being, it seems a stretch to think that Google would have a problem with links like these and therefore, shouldn’t be anything to worry about.

But, do they have value? Does the link above from Moz to a piece of content about movies hold as much value as a link from say, IMDB? This leads us onto my next point and why I think link relevance matters less than content relevance.

Authority and trust probably overrides link relevance

I do believe that Google cares a lot about how much they can trust a certain website and the links from that website. I’d venture a strong guess that Moz is a trusted domain and that it has the ability to pass value to the websites that it links to. We know that they have the ability to effectively “turn off” the ability for a website to pass PageRank to another and that they now have the ability to interpret the use of the nofollow tag so that they can decide whether it can be used for indexing and ranking purposes.

With that in mind, it would make sense for Google to make an assessment of the website giving the link and using this as a strong indicator to help decide how much value to pass across the link.

This would allow them to still pass value even when topical relevance isn’t there but they trust the website giving the link – which, as we can see, can easily happen.

The content we create is a stronger signal to Google

In contrast to the idea that anyone can link to you, you are far more in control of the content that you create. Even if you have a website that has a lot of user generated content, you still have overall editorial control over the processes for publishing that content. Essentially, you can be held accountable for the content that you create.

If you run an online pet store and you create a piece of content about personal finance, few would argue that this isn’t relevant. But the key difference when compare to getting a random link from a personal finance website is that you are accountable for the content because it sits on the website that you run. Google can hold you to a higher standard because of this.

So, even if that piece of content gets 100 links, Google could easily say that they’re not going to value those links very highly because they can’t see any topical relevance.

Does Google really want to reward irrelevant content campaigns

This one is key for me and let’s bring this all back around to link building.

Let’s imagine that you create a bunch of content-led link building campaigns for your online pet store but the topical relevance is very questionable. The quality of the content is great, it’s nicely designed and unique and even cites some expert input. This content has generated hundreds of links as a result of how good it is.

Does Google really want to reward you by valuing these links very highly and as a consequence, giving your organic search visibility a boost?

No, they don’t.

The truth is that in situations like this, it’s pretty obvious that the content has been created for the purposes of generating links. This in itself isn’t necessarily a problem, but if you do it over and over again, whilst the content clearly serves no other purpose, it’s not exactly a signal that your website is truly link worthy.

And remember, when it comes to links, Google will look for evidence that you truly deserve the links that you get and if the majority of links that you get come from off-topic campaigns, there is a strong argument to say that you don’t.

When does Google start to care about irrelevant content?

This is the big question for me and one that I can’t give you a complete answer to.

Launching some content pieces that are completely off topic and gets some links isn’t likely to get you into trouble. After all, everyone does random stuff from time to time and sometimes, a brand may decide to create some content or launch a campaign that is just a bit of fun.

If I were Google, I’d look for evidence that content is being created just for links. So I may look at a few signals such as the following.

Ratio of links to off-topic content vs. the rest of the website

If the majority of links pointing at a domain are to pages of content that is topically irrelevant when compared to the rest of the domain, I’d probably want to take a closer look at why. They may not impose a penalty or filter, but I may flag the domain for a Googler to take a look manually and see what’s going on.

The content being a little bit orphaned in terms of internal links

With many content-led link building campaigns, they are published somewhere on a website that is a little hidden away from the result of the pages. This can be for a bunch of reasons but essentially means that the architecture ends up looking like this with the orange page being your campaign:

The campaign isn’t integrated with the rest of the domain and kind of sits on its own.

Now, imagine that lots of incoming links start to appear that point to this page which is isolated, wouldn’t that look a little strange?

As an exception, this isn’t likely to mean much. But if it happens over and over again, it starts to look unnatural.

The content not linking to other pages to continue the user journey

If a piece of content isn’t relevant to the rest of the website, then it’s quite hard to add internal links or calls to action that make sense. So a clear signal for irrelevant content is a lack of links from the content to other pages.

Essentially, not only is a piece of content isolated in terms of site architecture, it’s also isolated in terms of linking back into that architecture.

This can also be common because if a piece of content is created just for the purpose of generating links, there is no incentive for the creator to link to product or category pages – that’s not what the content is meant to help with.

How to ensure more content relevance

We should accept that content relevance is important and something that Google can (rightly) hold us accountable for. So, how can we ensure that relevance plays a part in producing ideas for link building campaigns and that we don’t get sucked into just going after high volumes of links?

Start with your customers

More specifically, start with the journey that they take when finding your product or service.

When we come up with content ideas, we can fall into the trap of thinking too much about who we’re trying to get links from — bloggers, journalists, writers, etc. We trick ourselves into thinking that if we are a travel brand, then working with a travel blogger will mean that we’re getting in front of our target audience.

Unfortunately, this may not necessarily be the case.

So, we should instead look at the customer journey. There are various ways to model this funnel but here is one that we use all the time at Aira and an example for a B2B company:

This also shows that the journey isn’t always linear. Customers may move backwards in their journey as well as forwards and it may take a lot of steps before they commit to a decision. Google calls this the messy middle and is basically the stage when customers ponder their choices and are deliberating what to do next.

If you want to produce relevant content ideas for your link building campaigns, you need to start by understanding and mapping out the customer journey.

Use keyword research to inform idea generation

When we produce content ideas for link building, we often don’t think about keywords because the goal of the content isn’t to rank, it’s to get links. So we’re not really incentivized or motivated to do extra research for something that we’re not being measured on.

However, doing this can be a great way to increase relevance because target keywords for your brand are going to be closely aligned with the pain points that customers have, alongside the solutions that the brand offers to those pain points. By integrating these keywords into your ideation process, you can’t help but produce ideas that are close to the target customers.

Reduce focus on link volumes

If you have a lofty link target to hit, you are much more likely to produce content ideas that aren’t relevant to your brand. This is because in order to hit link targets, you know that you need a good level of link prospects to outreach to. Even if you have a very good link conversion rate of say, 25%, that would mean that you still need 100 link prospects for every 25 links that you want to build.

How do you get more link prospects? By widening topics so that you can target different sectors of bloggers and journalists.

Instead, the focus needs to be on link prospects that are closely aligned with your own products, services and customers.

This will naturally limit the link volumes that you’re likely to achieve, but you can be more sure that you’ll produce a piece of content that is highly relevant to because you’re moving the pressure to get high link volumes.

In summary

To summarize, try to avoid thinking of relevance as something that is binary. There are far more layers to it than this and as we’ve seen, we’ve only really scratched the surface here on what Google is likely to be doing.

When you do think about relevance, focus more of your attention on content relevance and ensure that content that you produce is unquestionably relevant to your customers and your brand.

By taking this route, you need to acknowledge that it may lead to fewer links, but is also more likely to put you in a position where you’re not worried about Google updates that may target relevancy in link building, as well as manual reviews by Googlers!

The ultimate added bonus here is that you’ll be creating content that isn’t just for links — it will be far more useful to regular customers, too, adding to the value of your work.

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MARKETING

How To Build a Communication and Implementation Plan

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How To Build a Communication and Implementation Plan

You learn about a C-suite decision that will have a transformative impact on your content marketing team. Perhaps, the announcement included one or more of these directives:

  • “We must produce more content and manage multi-platform distribution with greater agility. We plan to add ChatGPT to our editorial capabilities and implement a headless CMS.”
  • “We’re updating our three-year business strategy and need all teams to align their operations around achieving a new set of goals.”
  • “We’ve been acquired. We will be merging many of our business units and will need to relaunch our website so we can tell a more unified story.”

Or maybe it’s another substantive shift in strategy or operations. As a content team leader, whether excited or terrified, you must get your team on board and ensure the initiative succeeds.

Transformational changes are nearly impossible to implement without a clear plan that communicates the desired destination, the motivation to pursue it, and the path to reach it.

Jenny Magic, marketing strategist and professional coach, shares how to do that in a Content Marketing World presentation she co-developed with Melissa Breker.

You can watch the conversation (beginning at 2:30-minute mark) or scroll down to read her recommendations to gather support, clear obstacles, and keep efforts moving in the right direction.

5 sabotages that disrupt transformational changes

Every organization has unique conditions and challenges, but Jenny points out five common barriers that prevent the successful adoption of new priorities and practices:

  • Forced change. When workers don’t understand or agree with the change, they won’t invest in the process, especially if it requires a lot of effort or a long-term investment.
  • Misaligned goals. You can’t sell a change that benefits the company if employees don’t see how it helps them reach their personal or professional goals.
  • Group-speak. Your team may nod in agreement when the CEO says, “We’re all going to do this together, right?” But that enthusiasm might not hold when the boss’ eyes are no longer on them.
  • Rushed process. Team members already overwhelmed with responsibilities don’t give new tasks top priority. Jenny says if you can’t take something off their plate, communicate they won’t be pressured to rush it through.
  • Lack of team alignment. Everyone must be on the same page regarding the direction, intention, and actions required. Without this alignment, tasks fall through the cracks, and all the hard work may not lead to achieving the goal.

Forced change, group-speak, rushed processes can all disrupt transformational changes, says @JennyLMagic via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

For your change mission to succeed, your communications plan should account for how you’ll address (or avoid) these obstacles. These details will minimize the friction, lack of participation, and flagging enthusiasm you could have experienced during implementation.


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Plan for the transformation journey

Jenny shares a three-part approach she uses to help her consultancy clients get big ideas off the drawing board, onto team members’ priority lists, and into the marketplace.

1. Establish the destination: What’s changing, why, and what’s involved

To get your team to join the journey of change, they need to know where they’re going. Create a change summary to help with that. The simple map summarizes the relevant details about the change, the phases of implementation, and the benefits gained when the goal is reached.

First, identify the most critical details to communicate. Answer these questions:

  • What’s the nature of the change? What is being done differently, and what does that mean for the business and team? What isn’t changing that might be the stability anchor?
  • Why is it happening? Why does the organization think this change is critical? Why is now the right time to do this?
  • Who’s involved? Who will the change affect? What will they be expected to do? What about their roles, processes, and priorities? Why would they want to participate, and why might they be reluctant?
  • When will it happen? Will the change occur all at once or gradually? What happens at each stage, and which ones will require the content marketing team’s involvement?
  • What are the expected results? What is the organization looking to achieve? What benefits or advantages will it bring? What will the company and team see when the goal is reached?

With these answers, you can build a change summary to share in stakeholder and team member conversations. Any spreadsheet or presentation tool will do, though you can create a template based on the document Jenny uses for her client engagements (below).

The summary of what’s changing appears at the top of the page and details of the most critical elements appear below it. Bulleted notes detail what to expect with each element and the benefits for the business and your team. Lastly, a general timeline outlines each project phase.

2. Load up the crew: Gather support and communicate benefits

To achieve the change goal, all players must agree to travel together and move in the same direction. “If our team is not aligned on where the heck we’re going, there’s literally no chance we’re going to get there,” Jenny says.

Team members who immediately see the value in the initiative might follow your lead without question. But some key players may need a little more convincing. Jenny offers a few ideas to get them on board.

Enlist the support of an active, visible sponsor: Social media shows putting the right influencer behind your pitch can move minds. The same goes for pushing through a big change within an organization. Research from Prosci finds projects with an extremely effective sponsor met or exceeded objectives more than twice as often as those with a very ineffective sponsor.

If you have the support of senior team leaders and high-profile company personnel, ask for their help socializing the change to others. They might seed relevant information in their newsletters and other content they share internally or help shape your change activities and messaging to improve their appeal.

Translate organizational goals into personal motivations: Some team members may reluctantly participate because they perceive an impact on their role. For example, workers may think the added work will strain their already demanding schedules. Others may be skeptical because of negative experiences with similar changes in the past or disbelief that the change might benefit them.

A series of stakeholder conversations can help identify the significant concerns and disconnects that might prevent them from engaging. They also can reveal specific challenges and motivations that you can address with more resonant and appealing messaging.

Translate organizational goals into personal motivations so team members can see how they’ll benefit, says @JennyLMagic via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Some marketing tools you use to influence an audience can help you facilitate those conversations. For example, Jenny says, personas can surface critical insights about who may be impacted by the change and what it might take to nurture them onto the path.

Her personas checklist includes these questions:

  • Who’s leading the change? Do any key sponsors directly relate to the persona’s role?
  • Will this persona be impacted more or less than others?
  • Will they need information more frequently or in greater detail?
  • What reactions will they have?
  • How will you approach training for this persona? What support will be provided?
  • At what phase of the change will they be most affected?

Jenny also recommends using your marketing communication and engagement tools. For example, the simple tracking sheet she developed (below) can help visualize the audience, delivery formats and channels, optimal messages, and approval and final sign-off requirements to mention in your stakeholder discussions.

Choose the right messenger – and a customized message: Sometimes, a disconnect occurs not because of the message but because of the message’s deliverer. For example, employees expect to hear about significant corporate initiatives from executives and senior leaders. But for changes impacting their day-to-day responsibilities, they may prefer to hear from a manager or supervisor who understands their role.

Other times, preventing a disconnect could require tailoring the message to the team’s needs. Jenny suggests focusing on the direct benefits once the initiative is activated. “Consider how it might help them further their career, address something they’re struggling with, or offer an opportunity to explore an area they’re passionate about,” Jenny says.  

Surface hidden issues with confidential interviews: Valid concerns can remain hidden, especially for team members who are reluctant to voice their objections in team meetings. Working one-on-one with a neutral or external moderator – someone with no stake in the decision for change – might help them open up.

Ensure they know the confidential interview results will be aggregated so no individual responses will be identified. “It’s really helpful to get that confessional energy,” Jenny says. “It can help you surface individual reservations, causes of their reluctance, and personal motivations. “

A confidential one-on-one interview with an external moderator can help surface concerns from reluctant team members, says @JennyLMagic via @joderama @CMIContent. Click To Tweet

Jenny shares in her checklist (below) some preliminary questions for a moderator to assess during a confidential interview:

  • How does the individual feel about the change?
  • Is it the right change?
  • Is it the right time?
  • Is it supported enough to succeed?
  • What risks do they predict?
  • Do they have ideas about how we could reduce obstacles and challenges?
  • What lessons from past change efforts can they share with us?
  • Could they become a change champion?

The process can fuel opportunities to shift messaging, positioning, or delivery approach to help the outliers see how the change can benefit them and get them more excited about participating. Jenny says it can also reveal valid concerns that need to be solved so they don’t hinder progress.

3. Hit the road: Position and prepare your team for success

Big changes are always risky. They disrupt the status quo, and if they involve multiple teams and business functions, some changes may feel like a win for some at the expense of others.

Taking a few extra steps before executing your plans can keep those issues from diverting the goal or leaving any team members stranded along the way. “This is where we establish commitment and accountability and think about what could go wrong and how we’re going to deal with it,” Jenny says.

Own up to what you do and don’t know: Ultimately, you can’t plan for every contingency. “You’ll lose trust rapidly if you pretend you do,” Jenny says. She offers a few communication tips to set the right expectations from the start:

  • Be clear and candid: Directly address what you do know, don’t know, and what is and isn’t possible with this change. Outline how you will communicate status updates and new information as they arise.
  • Be receptive: Don’t take resistance personally. Listen to your team’s questions and respond to their feedback with an open mind.
  • Be visible: Socialize progress across your team’s preferred communication channels, and make sure everyone knows how to reach you if they encounter a problem. You can regularly host town hall meetings, road-show presentations, or open forums to ensure everyone stays informed and has a chance to share their thoughts.

Position project requirements as opportunities and advantages: Jenny suggests exercising creative thinking to help concerned team members see the new responsibilities as a chance to benefit personally.

For example, if they need to learn additional skills to accomplish their tasks, provide in-house training or access to third-party educational tools. Position the opportunity as a chance to expand their capabilities to help them be more prepared for this change and to advance their careers in the long run.

You can also use the big change to rethink your org chart and rebalance team member responsibilities. “Every single person has work that they hate on their to-do list. I’ve found folks become more open if they’re offered an opportunity to do a task trade-off,” Jenny says.

Incentivize the journey – not just the destination: A lengthy and gradual implementation process should include incentives at regular intervals to motivate team members to stay the course.

Rewards can be specific and tangible, such as bonuses or loyalty program points. Or they can be intangible, such as shoutouts during monthly meetings or in internal newsletters. Arrange team happy hours or give comp time for extra hours worked. These appreciation efforts can make the added burden feel worthwhile.

Overcome obstacles in predictive planning: An element of science exists in the journey of change. You can’t reach your destination if the forces of resistance are stronger than the forces propelling you forward.

Jenny shares an innovation tool from a company called Gamestorming that can help quantify the balance of those forces at each phase. By working through this force-field analysis, you can take steps to ensure the winds of change will be in your favor.

An example of how it works is shown below. In the center, an illustration represents the change you want to implement – transitioning from hierarchical to more transparent hubs.

On one side, the forces of change – all the elements of the vision that characterize the importance of the change and how it works in your favor – are listed. In this example, those forces are:

  • Improve long-term revenue
  • Help meet market demand
  • Satisfies customer expectations
  • Addresses current unsustainable costs
  • Give a competitive advantage in the marketplace

On the other side, the forces of resistance – conditions and constraints that may prevent realizing the vision – are listed. In the example, these forces include:

  • Company culture
  • Time constraints
  • Viability of new tech
  • Client adoption
  • Current costs

Rank each element’s impact on the project’s success on a scale of one to five.  Then add the rankings on each side and compare the scores to see whether you have a stronger chance of success than failure and identify where efforts should be made to overcome obstacles.

Plan the journey for a smoother arrival

Convincing your team to jump aboard the organizational-change train is rarely easy. But with a clear operational plan, aligned support, and open communication, you’ll help them see the benefits of participating and get them excited to reach their destination.

Want more content marketing tips, insights, and examples? Subscribe to workday or weekly emails from CMI.

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Cover image by Joseph Kalinowski/Content Marketing Institute



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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

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Alternative Search Engines: Why They Matter and How to Rank on Them

The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

12 billion, 3 billion, 1 billion. That’s the number of searches made in some of the top alternative search engines monthly.

While Google still holds more than 80% of the market share, ignoring search engines such as Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo can make you lose out on relevant traffic. So don’t limit yourself to Google’s algorithm as you plan the next year’s SEO strategy.

In order to grow in the digital economy, we have to diversify our efforts. What better way to do that than by making sure that you rank on all the top search engines relevant for your audience?

Generally, there’s two reasons why your audience would choose an alternative search engine over Google: geopolitical reasons and/or privacy concerns.

As such, I’ve categorized the search engines below by global market share and by data privacy.

Top alternative search engines by global market share

When analyzing the global desktop market share of search engines throughout the last decade, there are a few small but mighty search engines that stand out. These are:

1) Bing

2) Yahoo

3) Yandex

4) DuckDuckGo

5) Baidu

These are the engines you want to give extra consideration if you intend to expand internationally. They all have their own unique search algorithms that are in many ways as complex and developed as Google’s.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

If you’re like me a few years ago, a die-hard Apple fan remarkably repulsed by Microsoft’s products (I’ve now converted to the seamless team of PC), you might think prioritizing resources to optimize content for Bing or other engines is a waste of time. What I failed to consider then, and what you might be overlooking, is geographic segmentation.

Do you want to reach the American audience using voice search? Consider Bing.

Are you expanding into China? Check out Baidu.

Each search engine matters because of its unique user types. Regardless of how small that market share might look on a global scale, if there’s regional search volume from your target audience, it’s worth the optimization.

Let’s go through them one by one.

Bing and Yahoo

Screenshot of bing.com, November 2022

Since 2018, Yahoo is exclusively powered by Bing Search. So as long as you rank in Bing, you’ll rank in Yahoo.

Bing Search, in combination with Yahoo, is without a doubt the strongest player after Google. Together, they have more than 10% of the global market share for desktop.

Now, some say that Bing’s market share will increase due to mergers and acquisitions, while others argue for its decline due to the death of Internet Explorer.

Still, all Microsoft browsers, such as Microsoft Edge Legacy and Chromium-based Microsoft Edge, have Bing as the default search engine, making Bing Search the natural choice for Microsoft product users. Yahoo, which is powered by Bing Search, is the default search engine for Mozilla’s browser Firefox, adding billions of impressions to Bing’s search results each year.

If we look at the United States alone, Microsoft sites own over 18% of the market share.

This is much due to their partnership with Amazon, where all voice-activated searches on Amazon Echo and Alexa are made with Bing Search.

Microsoft also pushes Bing further by offering easy rewards for searches and more advanced image search capabilities than Google.

Although the algorithms differ, optimizing for Bing search results is not much different than optimizing for Google. With a bit of fine tuning, it’s more than possible to come up with a strategy that allows for high rankings on both.

To rank on Bing, and thus Yahoo, make sure to do the following:

Infographic by AS Marketing, December 2022


1. List your business on Bing Places

Bing Places is the equivalent of Google My Business and is the fastest way to get your business ranking for local seo. Many even consider Bing Places to favor small business owners as Bing puts their information more prominently on display.

2. Upload an XML Sitemap using Bing’s Webmaster Tools

While the debate on how much sitemaps really do matter for Google SEO continues, uploading one with Bing’s Webmaster Tool for XML Sitemaps allows the algorithm to better categorize and manage your content, making it more visible and relevant to the search audience.

3. Match keywords in your content

Check that the exact keyword match can be found in your page titles, meta descriptions and overall content. It’s known that the impact of on-page tactics as a ranking factor is much greater in Bing than Google.

4. Keep your social media profiles up to date

Go social! Bing considers your social media presence more than any other search engine. The Webmaster Guidelines specifically states that Bing considers social signals from third-party platforms to rank your content. Bing might even extract certain information directly from your Facebook company page to your Bing Places display.

5. Use high-quality images to enhance your content

Bing’s image search is much more advanced than Google’s. If you want your landing page to rank, add high-quality design assets to showcase your offerings. If you want your blog to rank, attach too-long-to-read infographics to highlight your points. Like the one above.

Yandex

Screenshot of yandex.com, November 2022

Second to Bing is Yandex, having a total of 1.5% of the market share in global desktop search.

While it looks a lot like Google, its algorithm is different in many ways. Most prominent is the way Yandex indexes pages. Unlike Google’s almost continuous indexation, Yandex indexes pages sporadically. That means that you might have to wait around for a while before your site shows up on Yandex.

Despite this, it is still possible to rank on Yandex. You just need to have a bit more patience.

While waiting for your site to be indexed, take a look at the following:

1. Focus on tags over internal site structure

According to The Ultimate Guide to Yandex SEO, your header tag, title tag and slug are way more important than your internal site structure. In fact, it was only recently that Yandex started to support hreflang tags. Before that, Yandex only allowed the <head> hreflang implementation.

2. Consider search intent to rank

Some argue that Yandex meets search intent better than Google. The modern ICS score, which replaced the Thematic Index Citation, is determined by how relevant a site is to the query. Yandex uses its own version of expertise, authoritativeness and trustworthiness (E-A-T) test to determine relevance.

3. Eliminate toxic links

Many do not know this, but Yandex was actually the first search engine to roll out a link-based algorithm. Already in 2005, 7 years before Google’s Penguin algorithm, Yandex introduced the Nepot filter, which specifically looked at the impact of toxic link exchanges and spam links.

Baidu

Screenshot of baidu.com, November 2022

With over 3 billion searches daily, Baidu is the Google of China. If you want to do business in China, it’s the place to be.

While the site is available worldwide, the site predominantly favors simplified Chinese. So before taking any other steps, hire a native speaker to help you along the way. To win at global, you have to ditch translations.

Here’s a few steps to get your content ranking.

1. Localize your keywords and content appropriately

As with all multilingual SEO, you need to work with a native language expert to ensure proper keyword localization and content optimization. If your site experiences high bounce rates, Baidu will tank your rankings immediately. As with any search experience, localization matters.

2. Position relevant content and keywords to the top of the page

Baidu favors a completely opposite layout than the Westernized one. The sooner you get to the point the better. Therefore, it is important to position your keywords as early as possible in the text and introduce all relevant content already in the top of the page to rank.

3. Obtain a verification level and get certified

By registering and paying a small fee you can obtain a verification level to improve your domain authority and rankings on Baidu. If you want to secure top ratings, you can get certified and obtain an ICP license, which is much more difficult than getting verified.

Top alternative search engines by data privacy

While most of the search engines mentioned above are tied to big corporations or political forces, global initiatives are setting the stage for more privacy-focused search engines. Among these is DuckDuckGo, the forefront runner with over 130 billion searches processed since launch.

Why they matter and how to rank on them

In many ways, the movement is a response to Google’s invasiveness on privacy. Many are fed up with how they are capitalizing on personal data and controlling the narrative with targeted search.

On a macro scale, the European Union continues to protect data privacy with strict GDPR regulations and the California Consumer Privacy Act indicates similar trends for Americans.

From a micro perspective, documentaries such as The Great Hack shine a light on how global companies monetize on personal data. As a result, privacy-safe search engines continue to rise.

If you’re working for an innovative SaaS startup, there’s a high chance your ideal customer persona is using one of these search engines.

Let’s go through how you rank on DuckDuckGo and two alternative equivalents.

DuckDuckGo

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

Screenshot of duckduckgo.com, November 2022

DuckDuckGo aims to make your search experience as simple and true to its cause as possible, i.e. no tracking for personalized search results and filter bubbles. Instead it uses semantic search to determine search intent for your queries from over 400 sources.

Consequently, this attracts tech-savvy experts with a lower bounce rate. Once they commit to a search, they stay.

Here’s how to optimize for it:

1. Sharpen Your User Experience

UX continues to make an impact on SEO, not to mention for DuckDuckGo. Make your content easily scannable and stay away from intrusive pop ups that harm your users’ experience and ease of navigation.

2. Focus on High-Quality Backlinks

As with any SEO, high-quality backlinks play a huge role for ranking. If you already have a solid backlink profile from your Google strategy, you should be good to go. If your backlink profile has a high level of toxicity, do some cleansing.

3. Rethink Local SEO

Since there’s no location tracking available for searches, location-specific searches such as “services near me” don’t work. If you like to rank for these types of searches, include a specific location in your keyword strategy. Otherwise, you won’t be able to optimize for local seo.

Startpage

Screenshot of startpage.com, November 2022

Startpage could be my personal favorite among the alternative search engines. It basically is Google without the tracking.

And while many consider DuckDuckGo to be the forefront runner of the privacy-focused search movement, many forget how Startpage ‘blazed the trail in 2006’. Offering a search experience without IP recording or tracking back when it was more or less unheard of. Now, it is the common denominator among all privacy-safe search engines.

So, how do you rank in Startpage? Simple. You rank in Google.

SwissCows

Screenshot of swisscows.com, November 2022

There are many more privacy-safe alternatives to search engines than the two mentioned above. Perhaps one without equal is SwissCows – a search engine that prides itself on being the only family-friendly, privacy-safe semantic search engine available on the web.

This means that any intrusive search results, like adult entertainment or offensive content, is naturally censored from the search results. At the same time, they never store any data nor track user specific information.

SwissCows SERPs bring up organic results and paid ads directly from Bing so in order to rank in SwissCows, you need to rank in Bing. Just make sure to omit any content that’s not PG-13.

What do they all have in common?

In the end, none of these alternative search engines can replace Google. As an SEO, I’ll never advise starting out with anything other than a Google strategy.

But when you are ready to branch out and extend your reach, give these alternatives a try. Analyze where your target audience hangs out and optimize thereafter.

Many of the privacy-focused search engines require little optimization as they pull their search results directly from other sources anyways. Simply do a quick check to see how you rank on each one.

And who knows, perhaps Microsoft will continue to steal more of the global search landscape. If that happens, you’ll be there — ranking in first position, ready to reap the rewards of your diversified efforts in an ever-changing search landscape.

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14 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

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14 Best Screen Recorders to Use for Collaboration

For your team, screen recorders can be used for several reasons — from creating tutorials for your website to recording a recurring tech issue to sending your marketing team a quick note instead of an email.

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