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Improving Brand Awareness & CTR With On-SERP SEO

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Improving Brand Awareness & CTR With On-SERP SEO

As search marketers, we all want to own as much SERP real estate as possible, because it means more visibility and more traffic.

Trouble is, page one is steadily changing.

Organic search results are now competing for the user’s attention with paid ads, knowledge panels, maps, videos, featured snippets, and the like.

In this article, you will:

  • Understand the challenge of competitive SERPs.
  • Learn how to use On-SERP SEO effectively.
  • Develop a “Traffic Potential” mindset.
  • Get seven actionable tactics to boost your search presence right now.

Understand The Challenge Of Competitive SERPs

Search engine result pages (SERPs) are more competitive than ever.

We’re starting to see many different types of media elements ranking.

The decline of organic traffic for top-performing keywords is rooted in the presence of new elements on page one.

The organic position one is now often bumped low behind ads, maps, media elements, and featured snippets.

We, therefore, call these elements “position zero” because they outrank even the top organic results.

One of the most competitive versions of SERPs is zero-click searches.

A zero-click SERP is one where the answer is displayed directly on the search results page satisfying the search intent of the user without having to click further.

So, how can SEO professionals stay effective when the SERPs are becoming more competitive?

Use On-SERP SEO To Stay Competitive Against Position Zero SERPs

On-SERP SEO is the work of optimizing the entire first page.

The goal is to take up as much real estate on page one as possible, thus increasing CTR and generating more organic traffic.

On-SERP SEO requires a paradigm shift for SEO professionals.

It is an integrated strategy to increase search appearance and brand awareness on page one.

It is the SEO taking ownership of Google traffic, no matter which SERP elements it comes from.

To be competitive in the world of zero position SERPs, this means SEO pros must coordinate all kinds of different media sources to dominate every relevant aspect of page one.

The ‘Traffic Potential’ Mindset You Need To Succeed In SEO Today

When doing your keyword research, defining your target pages and selecting target search terms, there’s one important mindset shift to make to future-proof your SEO strategy:

Factor in the new SERP reality.

In traditional SEO analysis, you’re used to reviewing:

  • Search terms.
  • Monthly search volumes.
  • Keyword difficulty.

Today, however, you must adapt your efforts to factor in:

  • The presence of featured snippets.
  • Other media elements.
  • Decreased CTR for organic results.

Therefore, you must now include CTR in your keyword research and decision-making.

To do this, most SEO tools include a traffic potential factor you can use.

This is an example from Ahrefs for a classic no click, zero position search term: “time Berlin”:

Screenshot from Ahrefs, June 2022

Ahrefs shows us a significant search volume, however, we also see that 80% of all the searches never receive a click.

You should start basing your analyses on this click potential, rather than monthly search volume alone.

Only then will you receive the best CTR and true organic traffic gains for the content you create.

By reviewing the true click potential, you will filter for keywords where a good organic ranking still equates to viable search traffic opportunities.

7 Actionable Tactics To Optimize Your Website In Competitive SERPs

Now that we’ve altered your mindset, let’s discuss tactics to boost your search presence right now.

Within these tactics, we will cover how to take over different elements of the SERP, including an increased presence in organic search, paid ads, knowledge panels, and images.

1. Optimize Your Top 10 Ranking Keywords To Win A Featured Snippet

Optimizing to win featured snippets is not an exact science, but art in and of itself.

It seems to be the case that Google usually pulls data out of the current top 10 rankings to populate the featured snippet.

So, the first step is to check your current organic rankings and determine which of those keywords already displays a featured snippet (using tools like Ahrefs, Semrush, etc.).

Those will identify your target keywords and target pages to optimize for featured snippets.

The purpose of the featured snippet is to give a direct answer to the user without them having to click or search further.

There are four main types of featured snippets, depending on the query intent:

  • Lists.
  • Tables.
  • Text.
  • Video.

Your second step is to note what kind of featured snippet is displayed for each of your target keywords.

Featured snippets are usually displayed for long-tail queries and, more often than not, question queries.

To optimize for the featured snippet, add such questions or keyword terms as a subheadline to your content.

Immediately beneath the subheadline, create a precise answer.

This can be one paragraph (around 45 words on average), a list (ordered or unordered) or a table, depending on what Google favours for that keyword.

The more precise and factual you can get, the better.

Google likes pulling lists and data directly into the search results.

You can even use schema to markup lists and comparison tables.

2. Optimize For Google Sitelinks

Sitelinks increase the visual space of your search results by displaying the most important pages of your website directly within your search result.

Although you can’t force Google to display sitelinks, you can create a clear navigational structure – with strong internal links to the core pages, as well as anchors and alt tags that are descriptive – to increase your chances of Google displaying your sitelinks.

3. Add Schema Markup When Appropriate

Product, business, and review schema markup help Google to understand what your pages and content are about.

You can review the types of schema markup at schema.org and implement them on your pages.

The review schema markup can allow Google to display a star rating within your organic search results, which increases truth, credibility, and CTR.

4. Use & Optimize Google Business Profile

You can win a lot of space for local searches by verifying and optimizing your Google Business Profile.

This will also help your presence in Google Maps.

All features, amenities, and details of your business should be listed and displayed to make your Google Business Profile listing visually longer and provide important information.

Collecting reviews for the listing will also allow you to use it for the review schema markup mentioned above.

Bonus: Make sure to collect and answer questions on your listing! This will add valuable length to your listing.

5. Run Branded PPC Ads

Even if your heart belongs to SEO, organic search is your main traffic driver and pay-per-click (PPC) is super expensive in your niche, you should run ads on your branded terms.

Users searching for your brand name have the highest chance of converting from a search into a click.

Don’t ever let someone else occupy your valuable ad space.

A basic branded Google Ads campaign should always be running for your brand name terms.

Make sure to fill out all available fields and add relevant ad extensions for maximum visual impact.

Quick note: In certain niches, it might be beneficial to run shopping ads or hotel ads since they occupy prime real estate for transactional terms.

6. Optimize Your Knowledge Panel

The purpose of Google’s knowledge panels is to display all information about your business in one condensed spot.

They are available to display for companies, nonprofit organizations, influential people, local businesses, media (movies, TV, books, music), nutritional information, and products.

If your company falls into one of the above categories you stand to benefit greatly from optimizing your Knowledge panel.

7. Optimize Images To Appear In SERPs & Featured Snippets

It’s important to review your target keywords and see if images are included in their SERPs.

Why? Because a lot of SERPs feature images.

If so, proceed with some basic image SEO to increase the chances of your relevant images ranking.

Make sure to include such images on a page where the headline and URL match the image target keyword.

For your information, image SEO ranking factors include:

  • The image file names and alt tags: Choose appropriate and keyword-optimized names.
  • Image context: Place your image on a part of the website where the surrounding content matches the keyword intent.
  • Image captions with short and relevant descriptions.
  • Image sizes with common dimensions (e.g., 900 pixels wide and 16:9)

Following these seven tactics will allow you to achieve effective wins on page one that goes beyond position one rankings.

They’ll enhance your presence in competitive SERPs and increase your chances of getting that money-making click.

The Future Of SERPs & How To Win With On-SERP SEO

A key strength of SEO lies in your ability to analyze and play to the advantage of the full search result page.

On-SERP SEO is a perfect example of this.

By following the seven actionable tactics we’ve outlined, you can enjoy more SERP real estate – and that means more opportunities to capture searchers’ attention and increase brand awareness and click-through rates.


Featured Image: Rawpixel.com/Shutterstock

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Five things you need to know about content optimization in 2023

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5 Things You Need To Know About Optimizing Content in 2023

30-second summary:

  • As the content battleground goes through tremendous upheaval, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance
  • ChatGPT can help content marketers get an edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content
  • Making sure your content rank high enough to engage the target audience requires strategic planning and implementation

Google is constantly testing and updating its algorithms in pursuit of the best possible searcher experience. As the search giant explains in its ‘How Search Works’ documentation, that means understanding the intent behind the query and bringing back results that are relevant, high-quality, and accessible for consumers.

As if the constantly shifting search landscape weren’t difficult enough to navigate, content marketers are also contending with an increasingly technology-charged environment. Competitors are upping the stakes with tools and platforms that generate smarter, real-time insights and even make content optimization and personalization on the fly based on audience behavior, location, and data points.

Set-it-and-forget-it content optimization is a thing of the past. Here’s what you need to know to help your content get found, engage your target audience, and convert searchers to customers in 2023.

AI automation going to be integral for content optimization

Technologies-B2B-organizations-use-to-optimize-content

As the content battleground heats up, SEO insights will continue to grow in importance as a key source of intelligence. We’re optimizing content for humans, not search engines, after all – we had better have a solid understanding of what those people need and want.

While I do not advocate automation for full content creation, I believe next year – as resources become stretched automation will have a bigger impact on helping with content optimization of existing content.

CHATGPT

ChatGPT, developed by OpenAI, is a powerful language generation model that leverages the Generative Pre-trained Transformer (GPT) architecture to produce realistic human-like text. With Chat GPT’s wide range of capabilities – from completing sentences and answering questions to generating content ideas or powering research initiatives – it can be an invaluable asset for any Natural Language Processing project.

ChatGPT-for-content

The introduction on ChatGPT has caused considerable debate and explosive amounts of content on the web. With ChatGPT, content marketers can achieve an extra edge over their competition by efficiently creating and editing high-quality content. It offers assistance with generating titles for blog posts, summaries of topics or articles, as well as comprehensive campaigns when targeting a specific audience.

However, it is important to remember that this technology should be used to enhance human creativity rather than completely replacing it.

For many years now AI-powered technology has been helping content marketers and SEOs automate repetitive tasks such as data analysis, scanning for technical issues, and reporting, but that’s just the tip of the iceberg. AI also enables real-time analysis of a greater volume of consumer touchpoints and behavioral data points for smarter, more precise predictive analysis, opportunity forecasting, real-time content recommendations, and more.

With so much data in play and recession concerns already impacting 2023 budgets in many organizations, content marketers will have to do more with less this coming year. You’ll need to carefully balance human creative resources with AI assists where they make sense to stay flexible, agile, and ready to respond to the market.

It’s time to look at your body of content as a whole

Google’s Helpful Content update, which rolled out in August, is a sitewide signal targeting a high proportion of thin, unhelpful, low-quality content. That means the exceptional content on your site won’t rank to their greatest potential if they’re lost in a sea of mediocre, outdated assets.

It might be time for a content reboot – but don’t get carried away. Before you start unpublishing and redirecting blog posts, lean on technology for automated site auditing and see what you can fix up first. AI-assisted technology can help sniff out on-page elements, including page titles and H1 tags, and off-page factors like page speed, redirects, and 404 errors that can support your content refreshing strategy.

Focus on your highest trafficked and most visible pages first, i.e.: those linked from the homepage or main menu. Google’s John Mueller confirmed recently that if the important pages on your website are low quality, it’s bad news for the entire site. There’s no percentage by which this is measured, he said, urging content marketers and SEOs to instead think of what the average user would think when they visit your website.

Take advantage of location-based content optimization opportunities

Consumers crave personalized experiences, and location is your low-hanging fruit. Seasonal weather trends, local events, and holidays all impact your search traffic in various ways and present opportunities for location-based optimization.

AI-assisted technology can help you discover these opportunities and evaluate topical keywords at scale so you can plan content campaigns and promotions that tap into this increased demand when it’s happening.

Make the best possible use of content created for locally relevant campaigns by repurposing and promoting it across your website, local landing pages, social media profiles, and Google Business Profiles for each location. Google Posts, for example, are a fantastic and underutilized tool for enhancing your content’s visibility and interactivity right on the search results page.

Optimize content with conversational & high-volume keywords

Look for conversational and trending terms in your keyword research, too. Top-of-funnel keywords that help generate awareness of the topic and spur conversations in social channels offer great opportunities for promotion. Use hashtags organically and target them in paid content promotion campaigns to dramatically expand your audience.

Conversational keywords are a good opportunity for enhancing that content’s visibility in search, too. Check out the ‘People Also Ask’ results and other featured snippets available on the search results page (SERP) for your keyword terms. Incorporate questions and answers in your content to naturally optimize for these and voice search queries.

SEO-and-creating-content-in-2023

It’s important that you utilize SEO insights and real-time data correctly; you don’t want to be targeting what was trending last month and is already over. AI is a great assist here, as well, as an intelligent tool can be scanning and analyzing constantly, sending recommendations for new content opportunities as they arise.

Consider how you optimize content based on intent and experience

The best content comes from a deep, meaningful understanding of the searcher’s intent. What problem were they experiencing or what need did they have that caused them to seek out your content in the first place? And how does your blog post, ebook, or landing page copy enhance their experience?

Look at the search results page as a doorway to your “home”. How’s your curb appeal? What do potential customers see when they encounter one of your pages in search results? What kind of experience do you offer when they step over the threshold and click through to your website?

The best content meets visitors where they are at with relevant, high-quality information presented in a way that is accessible, fast loading, and easy to digest. This is the case for both short and long form SEO content. Ensure your content contains calls to action designed to give people options and help them discover the next step in their journey versus attempting to sell them on something they may not be ready for yet.

2023, the year of SEO: why brands are leaning in and how to prepare

Conclusion

The audience is king, queen, and the entire court as we head into 2023. SEO and content marketing give you countless opportunities to connect with these people but remember they are a means to an end. Keep searcher intent and audience needs at the heart of every piece of content you create and campaign you plan for the coming year.

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An “Awesome Idea”

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Headings With Hierarchical Structure An "Awesome Idea"

Google’s John Mueller discussed heading elements with a member of the SEO community where he affirmed the usefulness of using hierarchical structure when using heading elements.

Background Context to What Mueller Said

Heading elements <H1> – <H6> are supposed to be used to indicate what a section of a webpage is about.

Furthermore the heading elements have a ranking order, with the <H1> being the highest rank of importance and the <H6> being the lowest level of importance.

The heading element purpose is to label what a section of content is about.

HTML specifications allow the use of multiple <H1> elements. So, technically, using more than one <H1> is perfectly valid.

Section 4.3.11 of the official HTML specifications states:

“h1–h6 elements have a heading level, which is given by the number in the element’s name.

If a document has one or more headings, at least a single heading within the outline should have a heading level of 1.”

Nevertheless, using more than on <H1> is not considered a best practice.

The Mozilla developer reference page about the use of headings recommends:

“The <h1> to <h6> HTML elements represent six levels of section headings. <h1> is the highest section level and <h6> is the lowest.

…Avoid using multiple <h1> elements on one page

While using multiple <h1> elements on one page is allowed by the HTML standard (as long as they are not nested), this is not considered a best practice. A page should generally have a single <h1> element that describes the content of the page (similar to the document’s <title> element).”

John Mueller has previously said that it doesn’t matter if a webpage uses one <H1> or five <H1> headings.

The point of his statement is that the level of the heading isn’t as important as how they are used, with the best practice being the use of  headings for indicating what a section of content is about.

What Mueller Said on Twitter

A member of the SEO community was joking around and gently ribbed Mueller about using more than one H1.

He tweeted:

The SEO followed up by sharing how he preferred using the best practices for heading elements by using only one <H1>, to denote what the page is about and then using the rest of the headings in order of rank, give a webpage a hierarchical structure.

A Hierarchical structure communicates sections of a webpage and any subsections within each section.

He tweeted:

“I’m too traditional with header elements. (HTML 4 for Life! lol)

I’d still recommend using just one H1 element on a page.

I patiently go back to pages to implement header hierarchy for fun.”

John Mueller tweeted his approval in response:

“I think that’s an awesome idea & a great practice.

Header hierarchy is not just useful to Google, it’s also important for accessibility.

(Google still has to deal with whatever weird things people throw up on the web, but being thoughtful in your work always makes sense.)”

Hierarchical Page Structure

In the early days of SEO, <H1> used to be counted as an important ranking factor, one that was more important than an <H2>.

So, back then, one always put their most important keywords in the <H1> in order to signal to Google that the page was relevant for that keyword.

H1 used to have more ranking power so it was essential to use the <H1> to help rankings.

Google’s algorithm was using keywords as a way to “guess” what a webpage was about.

Keywords in the anchor text, keywords in the title tag and keywords in the <H1> helped Google guess what a page was relevant for.

But nowadays, Google doesn’t have to guess.

It is able to understand what sections of a webpage are about, and consequently, what the entire webpage is about.

Despite those advances, many SEOs still believe that using an <H1> is some kind of magic ranking factor.

Headings are no longer about shouting what keyword you want to rank for.

The role of heading elements are now about telling search engines what a section of content is about.

Each section of a content is generally about something specific.

Heading tags make it easier for search engines to know what a page is about.

And that helps them rank the page for the topic.

And according to the official HTML specifications, that’s technically the proper way to use heading elements.

Lastly, Mueller mentioned a quality of the heading element as a way to better communicate for accessibility reasons, like for people who use screen readers.

The official HTML specifications say:

“Descriptive headings are especially helpful for users who have disabilities that make reading slow and for people with limited short-term memory.

These people benefit when section titles make it possible to predict what each section contains.”

So thank you John Mueller for calling attention to the benefits of using headings with a hierarchical structure, for calling attention to how hierarchical structure is useful for Google and for accessibility.

Featured image by Shutterstock/Asier Romero



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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

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The Challenges & Opportunities For Marketers

Google’s parent company, Alphabet Inc., reported its fourth straight quarter of declining profits.

It made $76 billion in sales over the past three months, but it wasn’t enough to meet Wall Street’s expectations.

Google’s revenue was down 9% compared to last year, and its biggest business, Google Search, saw a 1% drop in revenue. Even YouTube’s advertising sales fell by nearly 8%.

Alphabet has decided to cut its workforce by 12,000 and expects to spend between $1.9 billion and $2.3 billion on employee severance costs.

This latest earnings report shows tech giants like Google are facing challenges in the current digital advertising landscape.

But Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, believes that the company’s long-term investments in AI will be a key factor in its future success.

In a press release, Pichai says he expects major AI advancements to be soon revealed in Google search and other areas:

“Our long-term investments in deep computer science make us extremely well-positioned as AI reaches an inflection point, and I’m excited by the AI-driven leaps we’re about to unveil in Search and beyond. There’s also great momentum in Cloud, YouTube subscriptions, and our Pixel devices. We’re on an important journey to re-engineer our cost structure in a durable way and to build financially sustainable, vibrant, growing businesses across Alphabet.”

Alphabet’s CFO, Ruth Porat, reported that their Q4 consolidated revenues were $76 billion, a 1% increase from the previous year. The full year 2022 saw revenues of $283 billion, a 10% increase.

Going forward, Alphabet is changing how it reports on its AI activities.

DeepMind, which used to be reported under “Other Bets,” will now be reported as part of Alphabet’s corporate costs to reflect its increasing integration with Google Services and Google Cloud.

What Does This Mean For Marketing Professionals?

It’s important to stay updated on the latest developments in the tech industry and how they may affect advertising strategies.

Google’s declining profits and decreased revenue in their search and YouTube platforms are reminders that the digital advertising landscape is constantly evolving, and companies must adapt to keep up.

Marketers should consider diversifying their advertising efforts across multiple platforms to minimize the impact of market swings.

Additionally, Google’s focus on AI and its integration with Google Services and Cloud is something to keep an eye on.

As AI advances, it may offer new opportunities for marketers to target and engage with their audience effectively.

By staying informed on the latest tech advancements, marketers can stay ahead of the curve and make the most of these opportunities.

Despite Google’s recent financial setbacks, the tech giant is still a major player in the digital advertising landscape, and its investments in AI show its commitment to continued growth and innovation.


Featured Image: Sergio Photone/Shutterstock

Source: Alphabet



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