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How To Get Started With Enterprise Marketing Workflow Automation

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If you’re at a mid-level agency moving into the enterprise-client space – whether gradually or at warp speed – you have probably realized that you’ll need as many automated workflow processes as you can get.

You can even look at automated sales tools such as Zendesk that take 45% of tedious tasks away from humans.

Performing SEO or PPC for a handful of smaller clients can be challenging enough, especially if you’re performing many of their tasks manually.

With enterprise-level clients, though, you just can’t afford to approach things too manually anymore. You’ll need to automate your workflows.

This post is for beginners and not an exhaustive post on the best digital marketing automated workflow tools out there.

I’m going to help you get started.

My goal here is to get you thinking about the best ways to approach workflow automation as you start picking up enterprise clients.

There are plenty of areas in digital marketing where you can automate a process and free up time for other things.

Thinking About Workflow Automation: Your Goals

Like so many processes in agency life, the best starting point with workflow automation is knowing what you’re trying to achieve: Your goals.

The point of automating anything is to save time and money for the most part.

Everyone wants to save time and money, and automating a process will make that process more efficient.

However, the goals for enterprise-level workflow automation are still going to be different in the particulars for each agency.

For instance, maybe your agency focuses more on link building than any on-site SEO tasks.

In that case, you would need more of an infrastructure for monitoring and examining your clients’ backlinks and domain authority than anything else.

If backlinks are your meat and potatoes, and you need to make that process as efficient as possible, then maybe consider upping (or getting for the first time) your plan with a useful backlink tool such as Majestic, Semrush, or Ahrefs.

Sure, you’re almost always going to pay more for the increased ability to automate something like monitoring, but what do you save in employee time and company resources?

Let’s say your agency is breaking into the enterprise space and considers itself weak on the reporting end. You just don’t like the infrastructure and feel your enterprise clients deserve more.

You have to ask yourself, “Do I feel that an automation tool such as Google Data Studio can help me here?”

From experience, Data Studio is one of my go-to reporting dashboards, but don’t just take my word for it.

There are other reporting dashboard products out there for this, such as Databox or Geckoboard.

Whatever you’re working on, my overall advice to the folks just getting started with enterprise workflow automation is first to define your goals.

Whether it’s a more efficient process of site monitoring, keyword clustering, or content reporting, you need to know what you’re after.

Those goals should lead you in the right direction, i.e., to the selection of tools that offer just what you need.

What do those things usually include?

  • Accurate representation of data.
  • Tasks (with assignees and reset abilities).
  • Team member communication.
  • Scaling capabilities.
  • Customizable features.

Trust me when I tell you that once you have these automated features in your workflow, you won’t want to be without them.

Proceeding With Caution: Introducing Automation Internally

If your agency has been chugging along, doing things mostly manually for the last few years, I can tell you that wholesale process changes can be hard to swallow for some teams.

You’re taking a process that worked and introducing cell-level changes to it.

The argument is that the change was necessary because you’re in the enterprise space now.

The data is more numerous, the workflow more complex, and the requests more demanding.

But there are a few things to consider here:

  • The automation tool you ultimately select should be the best for your agency out of all the options; don’t compromise here.
  • The whole team must learn a new tool or process, which takes time and invites errors.
  • You may encounter actual resistance from some team members who prefer the old ways.

First of all, it’s always good to make changes like this gradually.

Watch product demos, get free trials, and compare all the automated workflow tools you’re considering.

On the other two points – relating to team errors and personal resistance – you can just about expect those obstacles to arise.

The solution?

Don’t make those wholesale changes all in one go.

Figure out a way to participate in your current process and automate it using the new software. Test some things in a low-stakes environment, maybe even for your own agency’s website.

What better place for your team to learn the basics and make all their mistakes?

Once your team clears a new hurdle by figuring something out and making it efficient, introduce that automated process more widely in your agency.

This process may be slower than you like, but your enterprise clients deserve optimized procedures around their SEO, paid media, or whatever other large-scale service they’re getting from you.

Also, it’s good to look at this introductory time as an investment more than anything else.

You’re putting in the time and money now to acquire this workflow automation tool and train your team in its use.

The result will be an agency using an automation tool to deliver a more streamlined product to its enterprise clients.

I can’t imagine what else you could want!

Self-Monitoring In Progress: Tracking Your Savings

Ideally, you’re going to start reaping the savings from any automated workflow tool you get.

Those savings won’t just be what you can deliver for your enterprise-level clients and how much more satisfied you’ll make them.

The savings are also in how you benefit as an agency.

Having seen multiple agency transitions from mid-level to enterprise-level, I can tell you that introducing an automated workflow tool doesn’t guarantee you’ll save resources.

You have to be smart about it and audit every expense related to your work output. Compare the data from before the tool and after it.

It might not always be as simple as you think.

For instance, you might assume that introducing an automated process into your workflow would allow you to maintain fewer employees to oversee those parts of the work.

You could be right about that in many or most cases.

But what if the enterprise client getting the work is so large and complex that it requires more hires?

And what if those hires end up costing more than what you saved from automating your workflow?

Of course, you’re still earning an enterprise-level retainer, so maybe things work out in the end anyway.

Consider these issues as you prepare for and eventually implement an automated workflow for your enterprise clients.

There are also blips you’ll run into that no one can predict.

For example, if you implement a backlink-tracking automation tool for a client with 60,000 backlinks, maybe it works just fine for a while, but then you discover you can make the monitoring still more efficient.

You’re going to have those opportunities and choices down the road.

Learning As You Go

Since my goal in writing this was to help out those who are just getting started with workflow automation in the enterprise space, I wanted to cover every possible scenario you could run into as you go.

However, you will run into issues as you progress down this road. Enterprise clients demand a lot of you.

You can’t plan for it all.

I think the little-by-little approach should work wonders for you, though.

Try something out before scaling it.

That has often been the road to success for me, and it could be for you, too.

More resources:


Featured Image: Den Rise/Shutterstock

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Google Clarifies Organization Merchant Returns Structured Data

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Google updates organization structured data for merchant returns

Google quietly updated their organization structured data documentation in order to clarify two points about merchant returns in response to feedback about an ambiguity in the previous version.

Organization Structured Data and Merchant Returns

Google recently expanded their Organization structured data so that it could now accommodate a merchant return policy. The change added support for adding a sitewide merchant return policy.

The original reason for adding this support:

“Adding support for Organization-level return policies

What: Added documentation on how to specify a general return policy for an Organization as a whole.

Why: This makes it easier to define and maintain general return policies for an entire site.”

However that change left unanswered about what will happen if a site has a sitewide return policy but also has a different policy for individual products.

The clarification applies for the specific scenario of when a site uses both a sitewide return policy in their structured data and another one for specific products.

What Takes Precedence?

What happens if a merchant uses both a sitewide and product return structured data? Google’s new documentation states that Google will ignore the sitewide product return policy in favor of a more granular product-level policy in the structured data.

The clarification states:

“If you choose to provide both organization-level and product-level return policy markup, Google defaults to the product-level return policy markup.”

Change Reflected Elsewhere

Google also updated the documentation to reflect the scenario of the use of two levels of merchant return policies in another section that discusses whether structured data or merchant feed data takes precedence. There is no change to the policy, merchant center data still takes precedence.

This is the old documentation:

“If you choose to use both markup and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

This is the same section but updated with additional wording:

“If you choose to use both markup (whether at the organization-level or product-level, or both) and settings in Merchant Center, Google will only use the information provided in Merchant Center for any products submitted in your Merchant Center product feeds, including automated feeds.”

Read the newly updated Organization structured data documentation:

Organization (Organization) structured data – MerchantReturnPolicy

Featured Image by Shutterstock/sutlafk

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What Is It & How To Write It

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What Is It & How To Write It

In this guide, you will learn about alternative text (known as alt text): what it is, why it is important for on-page SEO, how to use it correctly, and more.

It’s often overlooked, but every image on your website should have alt text. More information is better, and translating visual information into text is important for search engine bots attempting to understand your website and users with screen readers.

Alt text is one more source of information that relates ideas and content together on your website.

This practical and to-the-point guide contains tips and advice you can immediately use to improve your website’s image SEO and accessibility.

What Is Alt Text?

Alternative text (or alt text) – also known as the alt attribute or the alt tag (which is not technically correct because it is not a tag) – is simply a piece of text that describes the image in the HTML code.

What Are The Uses Of Alt Text?

The original function of alt text was simply to describe an image that could not be loaded.

Many years ago, when the internet was much slower, alt text would help you know the content of an image that was too heavy to be loaded in your browser.

Today, images rarely fail to load – but if they do, then it is the alt text you will see in place of an image.

Screenshot from Search Engine Journal, May 2024

Alt text also helps search engine bots understand the image’s content and context.

More importantly, alt text is critical for accessibility and for people using screen readers:

  • Alt text helps people with disabilities (for example, using screen readers) learn about the image’s content.

Of course, like every element of SEO, it is often misused or, in some cases, even abused.

Let’s now take a closer look at why alt text is important.

Why Alt Text Is Important

The web and websites are a very visual experience. It is hard to find a website without images or graphic elements.

That’s why alt text is very important.

Alt text helps translate the image’s content into words, thus making the image accessible to a wider audience, including people with disabilities and search engine bots that are not clever enough yet to fully understand every image, its context, and its meaning.

Why Alt Text Is Important For SEO

Alt text is an important element of on-page SEO optimization.

Proper alt text optimization makes your website stand a better chance of ranking in Google image searches.

Yes, alt text is a ranking factor for Google image search.

Depending on your website’s niche and specificity, Google image search traffic may play a huge role in your website’s overall success.

For example, in the case of ecommerce websites, users very often start their search for products with a Google image search instead of typing the product name into the standard Google search.

Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner]Screenshot from search for [Garmin forerunner], May 2024

Google and other search engines may display fewer product images (or not display them at all) if you fail to take care of their alt text optimization.

Without proper image optimization, you may lose a lot of potential traffic and customers.

Why Alt Text Is Important For Accessibility

Visibility in Google image search is very important, but there is an even more important consideration: Accessibility.

Fortunately, in recent years, more focus has been placed on accessibility (i.e., making the web accessible to everyone, including people with disabilities and/or using screen readers).

Suppose the alt text of your images actually describes their content instead of, for example, stuffing keywords. In that case, you are helping people who cannot see this image better understand it and the content of the entire web page.

Let’s say one of your web pages is an SEO audit guide that contains screenshots from various crawling tools.

Would it not be better to describe the content of each screenshot instead of placing the same alt text of “SEO audit” into every image?

Let’s take a look at a few examples.

Alt Text Examples

Finding many good and bad examples of alt text is not difficult. Let me show you a few, sticking to the above example with an SEO audit guide.

Good Alt Text Examples

So, our example SEO guide contains screenshots from tools such as Google Search Console and Screaming Frog.

Some good examples of alt text may include:

”The
”Google
”List
”Screaming

Tip: It is also a good idea to take care of the name of your file. Using descriptive file names is not a ranking factor, but I recommend this as a good SEO practice.

Bad And/Or Spammy Alt Text Examples

I’ve also seen many examples of bad alt text use, including keyword stuffing or spamming.

Here is how you can turn the above good examples into bad examples:

”google search console coverage report
”google
”seo
”seo

As you can see, the above examples do not provide any information on what these images actually show.

You can also find examples and even more image SEO tips on Google Search Central.

Common Alt Text Mistakes

Stuffing keywords in the alt text is not the only mistake you can make.

Here are a few examples of common alt text mistakes:

  • Failure to use the alt text or using empty alt text.
  • Using the same alt text for different images.
  • Using very general alt text that does not actually describe the image. For example, using the alt text of “dog” on the photo of a dog instead of describing the dog in more detail, its color, what it is doing, what breed it is, etc.
  • Automatically using the name of the file as the alt text – which may lead to very unfriendly alt text, such as “googlesearchconsole,” “google-search-console,” or “photo2323,” depending on the name of the file.

Alt Text Writing Tips

And finally, here are the tips on how to write correct alt text so that it actually fulfills its purpose:

  • Do not stuff keywords into the alt text. Doing so will not help your web page rank for these keywords.
  • Describe the image in detail, but still keep it relatively short. Avoid adding multiple sentences to the alt text.
  • Use your target keywords, but in a natural way, as part of the image’s description. If your target keyword does not fit into the image’s description, don’t use it.
  • Don’t use text on images. All text should be added in the form of HTML code.
  • Don’t write, “this is an image of.” Google and users know that this is an image. Just describe its content.
  • Make sure you can visualize the image’s content by just reading its alt text. That is the best exercise to make sure your alt text is OK.

How To Troubleshoot Image Alt Text

Now you know all the best practices and common mistakes of alt text. But how do you check what’s in the alt text of the images of a website?

You can analyze the alt text in the following ways:

Inspecting an element (right-click and select Inspect when hovering over an image) is a good way to check if a given image has alt text.

However, if you want to check that in bulk, I recommend one of the below two methods.

Install Web Developer Chrome extension.

Screenshot of Web Developer Extension in Chrome by authorScreenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

Next, open the page whose images you want to audit.

Click on Web Developer and navigate to Images > Display Alt Attributes. This way, you can see the content of the alt text of all images on a given web page.

The alt text of images is shown on the page.Screenshot from Web Developer Extension, Chrome by author, May 2024

How To Find And Fix Missing Alt Text

To check the alt text of the images of the entire website, use a crawler like Screaming Frog or Sitebulb.

Crawl the site, navigate to the image report, and review the alt text of all website images, as shown in the video guide below.

You can also export only images that have missing alt text and start fixing those issues.

Alt Text May Not Seem Like A Priority, But It’s Important

Every source of information about your content has value. Whether it’s for vision-impaired users or bots, alt text helps contextualize the images on your website.

While it’s only a ranking factor for image search, everything you do to help search engines understand your website can potentially help deliver more accurate results. Demonstrating a commitment to accessibility is also a critical component of modern digital marketing.

FAQ

What is the purpose of alt text in HTML?

Alternative text, or alt text, serves two main purposes in HTML. Its primary function is to provide a textual description of an image if it cannot be displayed. This text can help users understand the image content when technical issues prevent it from loading or if they use a screen reader due to visual impairments. Additionally, alt text aids search engine bots in understanding the image’s subject matter, which is critical for SEO, as indexing images correctly can enhance a website’s visibility in search results.

Can alt text improve website accessibility?

Yes, alt text is vital for website accessibility. It translates visual information into descriptive text that can be read by screen readers used by users with visual impairments. By accurately describing images, alt text ensures that all users, regardless of disability, can understand the content of a web page, making the web more inclusive and accessible to everyone.

More resources: 


Featured Image: BestForBest/Shutterstock

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Google Dials Back AI Overviews In Search Results, Study Finds

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Photo of a mobile device in mans hand with generative google AI Overview on the screen.

According to new research, Google’s AI-generated overviews have undergone significant adjustments since the initial rollout.

The study from SE Ranking analyzed 100,000 keywords and found Google has greatly reduced the frequency of AI overviews.

However, when they appear, they’re more detailed than they were previously.

The study digs into which topics and industries are more likely to get an AI overview. It also looks at how the AI snippets interact with other search features like featured snippets and ads.

Here’s an overview of the findings and what they mean for your SEO efforts.

Declining Frequency Of AI Overviews

In contrast to pre-rollout figures, 8% of the examined searches now trigger an AI Overview.

This represents a 52% drop compared to January levels.

Yevheniia Khromova, the study’s author, believes this means Google is taking a more measured approach, stating:

“The sharp decrease in AI Overview presence likely reflects Google’s efforts to boost the accuracy and trustworthiness of AI-generated answers.”

Longer AI Overviews

Although the frequency of AI overviews has decreased, the ones that do appear provide more detailed information.

The average length of the text has grown by nearly 25% to around 4,342 characters.

In another notable change, AI overviews now link to fewer sources on average – usually just four links after expanding the snippet.

However, 84% still include at least one domain from that query’s top 10 organic search results.

Niche Dynamics & Ranking Factors

The chances of getting an AI overview vary across different industries.

Searches related to relationships, food and beverages, and technology were most likely to trigger AI overviews.

Sensitive areas like healthcare, legal, and news had a low rate of showing AI summaries, less than 1%.

Longer search queries with ten words were more likely to generate an AI overview, with a 19% rate indicating that AI summaries are more useful for complex information needs.

Search terms with lower search volumes and lower cost-per-click were more likely to display AI summaries.

Other Characteristics Of AI Overviews

The research reveals that 45% of AI overviews appear alongside featured snippets, often sourced from the exact domains.

Around 87% of AI overviews now coexist with ads, compared to 73% previously, a statistic that could increase competition for advertising space.

What Does This Mean?

SE Ranking’s research on AI overviews has several implications:

  1. Reduced Risk Of Traffic Losses: Fewer searches trigger AI Overviews that directly answer queries, making organic listings less likely to be demoted or receive less traffic.
  2. Most Impacted Niches: AI overviews appear more in relationships, food, and technology niches. Publishers in these sectors should pay closer attention to Google’s AI overview strategy.
  3. Long-form & In-Depth Content Essential: As AI snippets become longer, companies may need to create more comprehensive content beyond what the overviews cover.

Looking Ahead

While the number of AI overviews has decreased recently, we can’t assume this trend will continue.

AI overviews will undoubtedly continue to transform over time.

It’s crucial to monitor developments closely, try different methods of dealing with them, and adjust game plans as needed.


Featured Image: DIA TV/Shutterstock

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