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10 Different Ways To Get Organic Page 1 Google Rankings

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10 Different Ways To Get Organic Page 1 Google Rankings

Google search has been continually evolving since the very beginning.

Over the past 10 years, much of that evolution was driven by improvements in technology but also changes in what users expect.

Here are 10 opportunities for more traffic from Google and how to get it.

Google has steadily been committed to making search results more useful and also in response to changing user behavior, lately driven by the new demands of mobile search.

With the introduction of knowledge panels in 2012 followed by featured snippets in 2014 – not to mention the local search packs that preceded that – optimizing for 10 blue links has become anachronistic.

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It’s an SEO practice from the past.

Rich results, featured snippets, Map Pack results, knowledge panels, and more are opportunities for more site visitors from an increasingly dynamic search results page.

How can you compete? By staying up-to-date.

In this post, we’re going to explore the different ways you can appear on Google’s Page 1 by optimizing content for various types of search results.

Note: this is in no way comprehensive and is ever-changing, as Google constantly tests and launches new features (and sometimes takes our favorite toys away).

Core Types Of Rich Search Results

The examples below will fall into one of these categories (and there may be some overlap):

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  • Rich Results.
  • Featured Snippets.
  • Knowledge Panels.
  • Local Business Results.

Rich results are enhanced organic search result that adds information to a plain text search result and expands it as a result.

Rich results make your results more dynamic, visible, and engaging.

Screenshot from search for [peanut butter cookies recipes], Google, March 2022

Featured snippets are enhanced answers that appear at the top of search results (sometimes even above paid results).

Sometimes referred to as “position zero,” it’s actually position 1 out of the traditional 10 organic positions.

These results are enhanced organic search results that contain additional visual enhancement, including stars, as part of a carousel of search results and may include images from multiple websites.

Featured Snippets sampleScreenshot from search for [wordpress stored xss vulnerability], Google, March 2022

This search result typically answers an informational query and may include text, a numbered (or non-numbered) list, and images (sometimes from multiple sites).

Featured snippets make your organic search listings more dynamic, visible, and engaging.

Research data from different sources in 2020 and also 2021 estimates that featured snippets display in the search results between 11% and 19% of SERPs.

It’s important that you’re optimizing for the search results enhancements that make sense within the context of your business goals and searcher intent.

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Knowledge panels are information panels about what is generally referred to as entities. What is meant by the word entities are people, places, organizations, movies, music, and other things.

Knowledge panels provide quick information about entities that are automatically generated.

The entities that are subjects of knowledge panels have the opportunity to “claim” a knowledge panel and influence the information that is in that knowledge panel.

Google also accepts user feedback about knowledge panels.

Knowledge panels are an opportunity for organizations and individuals to present their information through Google.

Google Business Profile (formerly known as Google My Business) is a Google program that allows local-based businesses to manage their online presence whenever someone searches for their business, a local product, or a service.

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The data in Google Business Profile powers the local Map Pack in the organic search results.

It helps to surface the correct information in Google Maps, and it provides a way to control the business profile shown in Google’s search results including things like phone numbers, addresses, and hours.

Check out a comprehensive overview of Google Business Profile if you’re just getting started or looking for improvements in that area.

The likelihood that you’ll earn a result in one of these formats depends on hundreds of factors that only Google knows, but you can safely assume that these weigh heavily into the mix:

  • Relevance to the query.
  • Vertical, industry segment, or category (such as flights, hotels, or restaurants).
  • Correct use of structured data.
  • Content quality.

Here are 10 ways you can get more Page 1 – and Position 1 or even the coveted Position Zero – results in Google.

For each one, you’ll find tips and resources to help you optimize for that type of result (although this is in no way a guarantee that you’ll achieve it).

1. Plain Text Organic Search Results

Achieving the top plain text organic search result in Google is more difficult than ever before.

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Not only is search extremely competitive, but search results consisting of just plain blue links are becoming rare for certain kinds of questions, particularly “how-to” type search queries.

As for ten blue links, those essentially don’t exist anymore on mobile devices because search results on mobile are shown with a continuous scroll so that users no longer have to click to the next page of search results.

Google Organic Search ResultsScreenshot from search for [should publishers use link disavow tool?], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Answer a searcher’s need for information.
  • Be superior in every way. Seriously, that’s what it takes.

2. Video Rich Results

It’s no surprise that YouTube results feature prominently in Google’s search results.

Until last year, videos appeared as a thumbnail alongside the blue text link.

Now, Google organizes them into Video Rich Results that are sometimes displayed above the regular text link results.

Video Rich Results Block Regular Text ResultsScreenshot from search for [how to cook with a wok?], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Help searchers and search engines understand your video’s content with relevant, quality titles, descriptions, and tags.
  • Use the appropriate VideoObject Structured Data.

3. Carousel Rich Results

Google’s documentation states that carousel rich results are available for four specific kinds of content:

  • Course
  • Movie
  • Recipe
  • Restaurant

It also appears to be available for other entertainment media besides Movies, like podcasts, and even for Victorian-era authors.

Google Carousel Rich ResultScreenshot from search for [authors of victorian fiction], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

4. Featured Snippet

A type of organic search result that displays approximately 50 words of text, the page title and URL, and a featured image thumbnail.

Featured snippets are an excellent opportunity to get more eyes on your thought leadership material.

Featured SnippetScreenshot from search for [what are google algorithms?], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Answer informational queries relevant to your business and its products or services.
  • Keep this paragraph format and a simple Q&A approach in mind as you create content you hope to rank on this type of result.
  • Do the legwork of researching what questions people have and see what results come up. Are there opportunities where no result renders? Are there results that seem low quality or outdated? Start there and use your learnings from those early efforts with the easiest opportunities to target more competitive search terms.

5. Data Table Snippet

Tables can be an effective way to share information or demonstrate concepts.

Note that Google initially developed this result for news media.

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However, as brands increasingly function as publishers and may even tackle timely news stories, this could be an opportunity for businesses, as well.

Google is also able to read data that is displayed in HTML tables (without structured data) and display them as a Data Table Snippet.

Data Table Snippet From Page with No Structured DataScreenshot from search for [europe search engine market share], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Explore Google’s approach to dataset discovery and find developer resources here.
  • Read more about displaying data tables in search results here.

6. Top Stories Carousel

The Top Stories carousel displays the headline, source name, and an expanded image. These results are open to blogs as well as media websites.

Proper optimization here can result in your article being automatically converted into action on Google Assistant, enabling people to access your content through the voice assistant.

Screenshot of a Google Top Stories DisplayScreenshot from search for [google search label for cited sources], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Google will display news content in the top stories carousel regardless if the article is published in AMP or not.
  • What is important is that the webpage uses the correct structured data in order to pass along relevant information that can be used to show in the Top Stories section of Google’s search results.
  • Additionally, be sure to use the right size featured image. It is recommended by Google that images for AMP pages be a minimum of 1200 pixels wide.
  • For non-AMP pages, Google’s article structured data developer page recommends a minimum of 696 pixels wide. However, Google’s guidelines for the Google Discover program recommend all pages use images with a minimum of 1200 pixels in width. So for Google News, it’s best to use images that are a minimum of 1200 pixels wide in order to remain eligible for being shown in Google Discover as well as Google News.

7. Local Business Knowledge Panel Card

With the proper markup and optimizations, business panels can have a great deal of functionality and interactivity.

Not only can searchers find your address, phone number, and hours of operation without clicking through to your site, but they may be able to complete actions such as booking a table, placing an order, or making an appointment.

Your panel expands as more relevant information is added, making it incredibly hard to miss on both desktop and mobile.

Local Knowledge PanelScreenshot from search for [greystone prime steakhouse], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Expand your panel as much as possible by populating your Google Business Profile (GBP) with descriptive, relevant information to help searchers make a decision about your business.
  • Monitor your GBP dashboard and interact regularly with searchers who leave reviews, ask questions, or otherwise attempt to engage your business.
  • Keep all information up-to-date in order to avoid poor searcher experience (such as directing someone to a closed location) and eroding search engine trust in your brand.
  • Find specific markup to facilitate actions such as reservation taking or online ordering here.

8. Event Rich Result

Marking up your events pages with Event Structured Data helps this information appear in Google Search and Maps results.

Searchers can also click through to see more events and filter by date.

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Events Rich Results sampleScreenshot from search for [concerts in boston may 2022], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

9. Review Snippet

When Google finds the proper markups for reviews, it may expand your rich result with a review excerpt or an average combined rating score.

Currently, this rich search result type is available for books, local businesses, movies, music, products, and recipes.

Review Featured Snippet sampleScreenshot from search for [the fundamentals of brand SERPs for business book review], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Follow Google’s instructions here for optimization whether you want to add a simple review, embed a review into another schema.org type using its review property, add ratings to your reviews, or add aggregate ratings.

10. Logo In Knowledge Panel & Search

Reinforce your branding at every opportunity by ensuring that your logo appears in your business panel and in Search.

Screenshot of Logo in a Google Knowledge PanelScreenshot from search for [bing], Google, March 2022

How To Optimize For It

  • Use a logo that is 112 x 112px, at minimum, in .jpg, .png, SVG or WebP format.
  • Make sure that the image URL is crawlable and indexable.
  • Apply the proper markup.

Overall Best Practices For Rich Search Results Optimization

  • Follow Google’s structured data guidelines. It’s pretty important to them that you do so, as evidenced by their guide entitled (you guessed it): Follow the structured data guidelines.
  • If you’re just getting started, try out Google’s Structured Data Codelab to experiment with several different types of structured data in a controlled, instructive environment.
  • Use Google’s Rich Results Test to see if your page supports rich results and get recommendations to improve.
  • Avoid being perceived by Google as a structured data spammer by resolving issues and avoiding shady behavior such as marking up content that isn’t visible to users.
  • Run Google’s Rich Result Status Report after implementation and regularly as you continue to optimize your site’s content. You’ll see which rich results Google could or couldn’t read from your site and get troubleshooting information for rich result errors. You can then request a re-crawl after you have fixed any problems.

These are just a few of the more universally appealing ways to get multiple Page 1 results. There are plenty more, especially once you get into vertical-specific results.

Before chasing any one type of result, make sure you understand the opportunity, competition, and searcher intent you hope to get in front of with that specific type of content.

Enhanced Search Results Are An Opportunity

The concept of search results as a listing of 10 blue links is a thing of the distant past.

The various rich search results provide myriad opportunities to be discovered in a way that provides new opportunities to cultivate more meaningful traffic than ever before.

More Resources:


Featured Image: Zouls/Shutterstock

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

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10 Paid Search & PPC Planning Best Practices

Whether you are new to paid media or reevaluating your efforts, it’s critical to review your performance and best practices for your overall PPC marketing program, accounts, and campaigns.

Revisiting your paid media plan is an opportunity to ensure your strategy aligns with your current goals.

Reviewing best practices for pay-per-click is also a great way to keep up with trends and improve performance with newly released ad technologies.

As you review, you’ll find new strategies and features to incorporate into your paid search program, too.

Here are 10 PPC best practices to help you adjust and plan for the months ahead.

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1. Goals

When planning, it is best practice to define goals for the overall marketing program, ad platforms, and at the campaign level.

Defining primary and secondary goals guides the entire PPC program. For example, your primary conversion may be to generate leads from your ads.

You’ll also want to look at secondary goals, such as brand awareness that is higher in the sales funnel and can drive interest to ultimately get the sales lead-in.

2. Budget Review & Optimization

Some advertisers get stuck in a rut and forget to review and reevaluate the distribution of their paid media budgets.

To best utilize budgets, consider the following:

  • Reconcile your planned vs. spend for each account or campaign on a regular basis. Depending on the budget size, monthly, quarterly, or semiannually will work as long as you can hit budget numbers.
  • Determine if there are any campaigns that should be eliminated at this time to free up the budget for other campaigns.
  • Is there additional traffic available to capture and grow results for successful campaigns? The ad platforms often include a tool that will provide an estimated daily budget with clicks and costs. This is just an estimate to show more click potential if you are interested.
  • If other paid media channels perform mediocrely, does it make sense to shift those budgets to another?
  • For the overall paid search and paid social budget, can your company invest more in the positive campaign results?

3. Consider New Ad Platforms

If you can shift or increase your budgets, why not test out a new ad platform? Knowing your audience and where they spend time online will help inform your decision when choosing ad platforms.

Go beyond your comfort zone in Google, Microsoft, and Meta Ads.

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Here are a few other advertising platforms to consider testing:

  • LinkedIn: Most appropriate for professional and business targeting. LinkedIn audiences can also be reached through Microsoft Ads.
  • TikTok: Younger Gen Z audience (16 to 24), video.
  • Pinterest: Products, services, and consumer goods with a female-focused target.
  • Snapchat: Younger demographic (13 to 35), video ads, app installs, filters, lenses.

Need more detailed information and even more ideas? Read more about the 5 Best Google Ads Alternatives.

4. Top Topics in Google Ads & Microsoft Ads

Recently, trends in search and social ad platforms have presented opportunities to connect with prospects more precisely, creatively, and effectively.

Don’t overlook newer targeting and campaign types you may not have tried yet.

  • Video: Incorporating video into your PPC accounts takes some planning for the goals, ad creative, targeting, and ad types. There is a lot of opportunity here as you can simply include video in responsive display ads or get in-depth in YouTube targeting.
  • Performance Max: This automated campaign type serves across all of Google’s ad inventory. Microsoft Ads recently released PMAX so you can plan for consistency in campaign types across platforms. Do you want to allocate budget to PMax campaigns? Learn more about how PMax compares to search.
  • Automation: While AI can’t replace human strategy and creativity, it can help manage your campaigns more easily. During planning, identify which elements you want to automate, such as automatically created assets and/or how to successfully guide the AI in the Performance Max campaigns.

While exploring new features, check out some hidden PPC features you probably don’t know about.

5. Revisit Keywords

The role of keywords has evolved over the past several years with match types being less precise and loosening up to consider searcher intent.

For example, [exact match] keywords previously would literally match with the exact keyword search query. Now, ads can be triggered by search queries with the same meaning or intent.

A great planning exercise is to lay out keyword groups and evaluate if they are still accurately representing your brand and product/service.

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Review search term queries triggering ads to discover trends and behavior you may not have considered. It’s possible this has impacted performance and conversions over time.

Critical to your strategy:

  • Review the current keyword rules and determine if this may impact your account in terms of close variants or shifts in traffic volume.
  • Brush up on how keywords work in each platform because the differences really matter!
  • Review search term reports more frequently for irrelevant keywords that may pop up from match type changes. Incorporate these into match type changes or negative keywords lists as appropriate.

6. Revisit Your Audiences

Review the audiences you selected in the past, especially given so many campaign types that are intent-driven.

Automated features that expand your audience could be helpful, but keep an eye out for performance metrics and behavior on-site post-click.

Remember, an audience is simply a list of users who are grouped together by interests or behavior online.

Therefore, there are unlimited ways to mix and match those audiences and target per the sales funnel.

Here are a few opportunities to explore and test:

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  • LinkedIn user targeting: Besides LinkedIn, this can be found exclusively in Microsoft Ads.
  • Detailed Demographics: Marital status, parental status, home ownership, education, household income.
  • In-market and custom intent: Searches and online behavior signaling buying cues.
  • Remarketing: Advertisers website visitors, interactions with ads, and video/ YouTube.

Note: This varies per the campaign type and seems to be updated frequently, so make this a regular check-point in your campaign management for all platforms.

7. Organize Data Sources

You will likely be running campaigns on different platforms with combinations of search, display, video, etc.

Looking back at your goals, what is the important data, and which platforms will you use to review and report? Can you get the majority of data in one analytics platform to compare and share?

Millions of companies use Google Analytics, which is a good option for centralized viewing of advertising performance, website behavior, and conversions.

8. Reevaluate How You Report

Have you been using the same performance report for years?

It’s time to reevaluate your essential PPC key metrics and replace or add that data to your reports.

There are two great resources to kick off this exercise:

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Your objectives in reevaluating the reporting are:

  • Are we still using this data? Is it still relevant?
  • Is the data we are viewing actionable?
  • What new metrics should we consider adding we haven’t thought about?
  • How often do we need to see this data?
  • Do the stakeholders receiving the report understand what they are looking at (aka data visualization)?

Adding new data should be purposeful, actionable, and helpful in making decisions for the marketing plan. It’s also helpful to decide what type of data is good to see as “deep dives” as needed.

9. Consider Using Scripts

The current ad platforms have plenty of AI recommendations and automated rules, and there is no shortage of third-party tools that can help with optimizations.

Scripts is another method for advertisers with large accounts or some scripting skills to automate report generation and repetitive tasks in their Google Ads accounts.

Navigating the world of scripts can seem overwhelming, but a good place to start is a post here on Search Engine Journal that provides use cases and resources to get started with scripts.

Luckily, you don’t need a Ph.D. in computer science — there are plenty of resources online with free or templated scripts.

10. Seek Collaboration

Another effective planning tactic is to seek out friendly resources and second opinions.

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Much of the skill and science of PPC management is unique to the individual or agency, so there is no shortage of ideas to share between you.

You can visit the Paid Search Association, a resource for paid ad managers worldwide, to make new connections and find industry events.

Preparing For Paid Media Success

Strategies should be based on clear and measurable business goals. Then, you can evaluate the current status of your campaigns based on those new targets.

Your paid media strategy should also be built with an eye for both past performance and future opportunities. Look backward and reevaluate your existing assumptions and systems while investigating new platforms, topics, audiences, and technologies.

Also, stay current with trends and keep learning. Check out ebooks, social media experts, and industry publications for resources and motivational tips.

More resources: 

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Google Limits News Links In California Over Proposed ‘Link Tax’ Law

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A brown cardboard price tag with a twine string and a black dollar sign symbol, influenced by the Link Tax Law, set against a dark gray background.

Google announced that it plans to reduce access to California news websites for a portion of users in the state.

The decision comes as Google prepares for the potential passage of the California Journalism Preservation Act (CJPA), a bill requiring online platforms like Google to pay news publishers for linking to their content.

What Is The California Journalism Preservation Act?

The CJPA, introduced in the California State Legislature, aims to support local journalism by creating what Google refers to as a “link tax.”

If passed, the Act would force companies like Google to pay media outlets when sending readers to news articles.

However, Google believes this approach needs to be revised and could harm rather than help the news industry.

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Jaffer Zaidi, Google’s VP of Global News Partnerships, stated in a blog post:

“It would favor media conglomerates and hedge funds—who’ve been lobbying for this bill—and could use funds from CJPA to continue to buy up local California newspapers, strip them of journalists, and create more ghost papers that operate with a skeleton crew to produce only low-cost, and often low-quality, content.”

Google’s Response

To assess the potential impact of the CJPA on its services, Google is running a test with a percentage of California users.

During this test, Google will remove links to California news websites that the proposed legislation could cover.

Zaidi states:

“To prepare for possible CJPA implications, we are beginning a short-term test for a small percentage of California users. The testing process involves removing links to California news websites, potentially covered by CJPA, to measure the impact of the legislation on our product experience.”

Google Claims Only 2% of Search Queries Are News-Related

Zaidi highlighted peoples’ changing news consumption habits and its effect on Google search queries (emphasis mine):

“It’s well known that people are getting news from sources like short-form videos, topical newsletters, social media, and curated podcasts, and many are avoiding the news entirely. In line with those trends, just 2% of queries on Google Search are news-related.”

Despite the low percentage of news queries, Google wants to continue helping news publishers gain visibility on its platforms.

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However, the “CJPA as currently constructed would end these investments,” Zaidi says.

A Call For A Different Approach

In its current form, Google maintains that the CJPA undermines news in California and could leave all parties worse off.

The company urges lawmakers to consider alternative approaches supporting the news industry without harming smaller local outlets.

Google argues that, over the past two decades, it’s done plenty to help news publishers innovate:

“We’ve rolled out Google News Showcase, which operates in 26 countries, including the U.S., and has more than 2,500 participating publications. Through the Google News Initiative we’ve partnered with more than 7,000 news publishers around the world, including 200 news organizations and 6,000 journalists in California alone.”

Zaidi suggested that a healthy news industry in California requires support from the state government and a broad base of private companies.

As the legislative process continues, Google is willing to cooperate with California publishers and lawmakers to explore alternative paths that would allow it to continue linking to news.

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

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The Best of Ahrefs’ Digest: March 2024

Every week, we share hot SEO news, interesting reads, and new posts in our newsletter, Ahrefs’ Digest.

If you’re not one of our 280,000 subscribers, you’ve missed out on some great reads!

Here’s a quick summary of my personal favorites from the last month:

Best of March 2024

How 16 Companies are Dominating the World’s Google Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

tl;dr

Glen’s research reveals that just 16 companies representing 588 brands get 3.5 billion (yes, billion!) monthly clicks from Google.

My takeaway

Glen pointed out some really actionable ideas in this report, such as the fact that many of the brands dominating search are adding mini-author bios.

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Example of mini-author bios on The VergeExample of mini-author bios on The Verge

This idea makes so much sense in terms of both UX and E-E-A-T. I’ve already pitched it to the team and we’re going to implement it on our blog.

How Google is Killing Independent Sites Like Ours

Authors: Gisele Navarro, Danny Ashton

tl;dr

Big publications have gotten into the affiliate game, publishing “best of” lists about everything under the sun. And despite often not testing products thoroughly, they’re dominating Google rankings. The result, Gisele and Danny argue, is that genuine review sites suffer and Google is fast losing content diversity.

My takeaway

I have a lot of sympathy for independent sites. Some of them are trying their best, but unfortunately, they’re lumped in with thousands of others who are more than happy to spam.

Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updatesEstimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele's site fell off a cliff after Google's March updates
Estimated search traffic to Danny and Gisele’s site fell off a cliff after Google’s March updates 🙁 

I know it’s hard to hear, but the truth is Google benefits more from having big sites in the SERPs than from having diversity. That’s because results from big brands are likely what users actually want. By and large, people would rather shop at Walmart or ALDI than at a local store or farmer’s market.

That said, I agree with most people that Forbes (with its dubious contributor model contributing to scams and poor journalism) should not be rewarded so handsomely.

The Discussion Forums Dominating 10,000 Product Review Search Results

Author: Glen Allsopp

Tl;dr

Glen analyzed 10,000 “product review” keywords and found that:

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My takeaway

After Google’s heavy promotion of Reddit from last year’s Core Update, to no one’s surprise, unscrupulous SEOs and marketers have already started spamming Reddit. And as you may know, Reddit’s moderation is done by volunteers, and obviously, they can’t keep up.

I’m not sure how this second-order effect completely escaped the smart minds at Google, but from the outside, it feels like Google has capitulated to some extent.

John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...John Mueller seemingly having too much faith in Reddit...

I’m not one to make predictions and I have no idea what will happen next, but I agree with Glen: Google’s results are the worst I’ve seen them. We can only hope Google sorts itself out.

Who Sends Traffic on the Web and How Much? New Research from Datos & SparkToro

Author: Rand Fishkin

tl;dr

63.41% of all U.S. web traffic referrals from the top 170 sites are initiated on Google.com.

Data from SparktoroData from Sparktoro

My takeaway

Despite all of our complaints, Google is still the main platform to acquire traffic from. That’s why we all want Google to sort itself out and do well.

But it would also be a mistake to look at this post and think Google is the only channel you should drive traffic from. As Rand’s later blog post clarifies, “be careful not to ascribe attribution or credit to Google when other investments drove the real value.”

I think many affiliate marketers learned this lesson well from the past few Core Updates: Relying on one single channel to drive all of your traffic is not a good idea. You should be using other platforms to build brand awareness, interest, and demand.

Want more?

Each week, our team handpicks the best SEO and marketing content from around the web for our newsletter. Sign up to get them directly in your inbox.

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