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How A News SEO Conference Shaped A Community

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How A News SEO Conference Shaped A Community

This post was sponsored by NESS. The opinions expressed in this article are the sponsor’s own.

“This has been a dream of mine for so many years, to do an SEO conference focused solely on publishers.”

– NESS & NewzDash.com Founder John Shehata, Global VP of Audience Development at Condé Nast

Working in SEO is a constant learning experience – there’s always something new to discover, and when Shehata and Barry Adams founded the News and Editorial SEO Summit (NESS), they did with that principle in mind.

“People who say they’ve really mastered SEO are probably lying, or massively overestimating how good they really are.”

– Barry Adams, NESS Co-Founder & SEO Consultant, Polemic Digital

“No matter how long you’re doing it and how experienced you think you may be, you will always have those moments where you’re totally and utterly stumped, and just have no idea what’s happening.

“We always continue to learn. There’s never a dull moment in SEO. It’s a very fast-moving industry with search engines constantly evolving, user behavior constantly evolving, websites constantly evolving – so no one knows everything.”

– Adams

With NESS, Shehata and Adams are carving out a special community within the world of SEO for continued growth and discovery.

NESS Is A First-Of-Its-Kind SEO Conference

NESS is exclusively dedicated to news publishers looking to unite and share SEO knowledge.

Attendees of this online conference have the opportunity to learn from top experts in the news industry.

Whether you’re a journalist or editor involved with the day-to-day publishing of news content, or an SEO professional looking to upgrade your knowledge in the field, NESS is a valuable online conference you simply can’t miss!

NESS Is Creating A Community

When NESS officially launched in 2021, it was a longtime dream realized.

Seeing how underserved the news SEO community was, Shehata sprung into action.

“I went to many event organizers and asked them to do this conference, but I was turned down… And about two years ago, I decided that I’m going to do it, and I’m going to fund it myself, and I’m just going to go with it. And if it’s a win, it’s a win – if it’s a loss, it’s a loss. But I thought there would be a good community out there that may attend this conference.”

The goal for the inaugural event was to sell 100 tickets; they ended up with over 600 attendees from all over the world – more than 50% of whom were from outside the U.S.  

People from massive global publishing organizations down to micro news websites focused on small regional areas dialed in from various timezones to share their experiences, leave comments, give feedback, and exchange information.

“I think that’s something that sets our conference apart,” said Adams. “It’s a niche within a niche conference.”

Shehata and Adams quickly realized that news SEO was a niche worth servicing and specializing in.

“What struck me the most,” Adams continued, “is the generosity of the speakers and the attendees in sharing their knowledge and sharing their learnings with other people who are conceivably their direct competitors. There seems to be a genuine sense of community that ‘we’re all in this together, we’re all doing the same things, we’re not each other’s enemies, we’re each other’s allies, we’re trying to do the same thing, which is generate great journalism and make sure that the biggest possible audience gets a chance to read it.’ And I hope we can continue that over the next few years and continue to service that community as best we can.”

NESS Is Serving The Community

NESS is presented specifically as a virtual conference so it can have a low cost to attend. Shehata’s top priorities when creating NESS were knowledge sharing and giving back.

“A publisher can send 30 people to attend, this would never happen with a traditional conference where they charge $2,000 [per ticket]… The other thing is, I truly believe in giving back. Last year was the pandemic and it was a tough time for a lot of people, so we said, ‘How can we help?’ And last year, we gave about 30 free tickets for any SEO who got laid off or made redundant,” Shehata said.

“We also give free tickets to SEOs from developing countries who cannot afford the conference. So we’re trying every year to do good, and I think this is the ultimate goal. Regardless if you’re an SEO or not, you have to give back to the community and do good.”

This year, NESS also led a fundraising campaign for the Red Cross’s Ukraine relief efforts, encouraging attendees to donate and matching their donations up to $5,000.

NESS Pioneers Online Conference Community Engagement

Instead of a one-way stream with speakers simply talking at the audience, NESS promotes two-way engagement, allowing attendees to participate in the conversation.

The live chat feed allows guests to comment, ask questions, and vote during a presentation.

NESS also allows engagement through virtual tables of around eight people who can talk to the speaker, ask questions, network, and more.

NESS 2022 News SEO Conference Highlights

According to Adams:

“John and I, when we started planning this, we wanted talks that we ourselves would like to see delivered by experts in the field. So we selected topics and speakers based on: ‘What would we like to see? What could we learn from, in terms of SEO specifically for news publishers?’”

Here are some highlights from the NESS 2022 lineup, along with key takeaways from each segment.

How To Successfully Implement Paywalls Without Affecting SEO

Leonie Roderick, The Times, and Ben Dilks, Sunday Times, tackled the dilemma in which readers expect to read news content for free, but publishers still have to make money.

Top tips for implementing a successful paywall strategy include:

  • Have a great understanding of your target market and readers.
  • Offer a unique selling proposition that sets you apart from your competition, whether it’s better quality, analysis, or insight.
  • Don’t be a commodity publisher; have something that makes you stand out. If you don’t, readers will simply switch to another news site with a similar product.

Get all the tips in the recorded session.

Using Automated Articles Successfully: Is It Possible?

This segment of the conference was presented by Carolyn Shelby, VP of Growth at Dawn Patrol LLC.

Matt Southern, Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal and NESS 2022 attendee, noted his key takeaways from this talk:

“As much as SEO can assist with the distribution and visibility of news stories, it shouldn’t guide the direction of news coverage. Shelby spoke at length about using SEO to help machines understand your stories better. She cautioned attendees not to allow SEO to change their journalistic standards. Covering a story because it presents an opportunity to rank for a popular keyword versus covering a story because it’s the most newsworthy is an example of writing news for SEO. As a reporter, your top priority is to cover the most relevant stories for your audience, while SEO is a tool to help your audience find those stories.”

Top Stories: State Of The Union

This detailed presentation by Shehata featured data from NewzDash, a Google news monitoring system and rank tracker specifically for news publishers.

“With all the tools that John has innovated,” said Adams, “he has this wealth of data about what works in top stories, what is showing in top stories at any given time, and how things have changed.”

Career Growth Panel: What Is Your Next Move?

One of the highest-rated sessions within the conference, this panel included various types of SEO professionals who spoke about their experiences in the industry, how they got to their positions, skills that are needed, etc.

“The importance of committing yourself to a particular practice within SEO was a key takeaway,” said Southern. “SEO is such a diverse field that aspiring to become an expert in every facet of the trade isn’t as realistic as in the early days of search marketing. Moreover, the roles companies are hiring for are getting more specialized. If you’re an SEO who is passionate about news, becoming an expert in News SEO is a viable career option.”

Get access to the full session, now!

Search Engine Journal’s NESS Experience

Our own team members attended the conference; here’s what they had to say:

“As a reporter covering industry news in SEO and digital marketing, NESS was an intersection of my career disciplines. It opened my eyes to the fact that there’s a growing segment of SEO professionals focused solely on optimizing news articles for search engines.”

– Matt Southern, Senior News Writer at Search Engine Journal and NESS 2022 attendee

“It was a blast! NESS is one of the most valuable SEO conferences where experts share their practical experience in publishing, which one can quickly turn into a practice and apply. If you are running a publication or a blog, it is a must-attend.”

– Vahan Petrosyan, Director of IT and Infrastructure at Search Engine Journal and NESS 2022 attendee

Missed this year’s NESS event? You can access video recordings and presentations on their website.



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Microsoft Announces ChatGPT Capabilities Coming To Bing

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Microsoft Announces ChatGPT Capabilities Coming To Bing

Microsoft announced today that it is bringing cutting-edge AI capabilities to its Bing search engine, with the addition of a new ChatGPT-like feature.

Microsoft revealed its plans for integrating ChatGPT at a private event held at its Redmond headquarters today, which centered around its partnership with OpenAI.

Unlike recent virtual events, this particular press conference was held in person and not broadcast online.

During the event, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella highlighted the significance of this new feature and how it will revolutionize the way people interact with search engines.

“I think this technology is going to reshape pretty much every software category,” says Nadella.

Nadella proclaimed, “The race starts today,” and Microsoft is going to “move and move fast.”

The event attendees were given a sneak peek at the latest search experience, which Microsoft refers to as “your AI-powered copilot for the web.”

This new experience combines the all-new Bing search engine and Edge web browser, which are designed to complement each other.

Nadella explained that the new Bing would provide direct answers to questions and encourage users to be more creative.

He also stated that the current search experience is not working as efficiently as it should be, as 40% of the time, people click on search links and then immediately click back.

This clearly indicates that the search experience needs to be updated and improved. Nadella claims that the search engine user experience hasn’t changed in 20 years, and it’s time for Microsoft to adapt.

Introducing The New Bing

The new Bing is powered by a next-generation language model from OpenAI, which has been specifically customized for search purposes. It’s even more powerful than the ChatGPT model.

Microsoft has implemented a new way of working with OpenAI called the “prometheus model,” which enhances the relevancy of answers, annotates them, keeps them up to date, and more.

The search index has also been improved by applying the AI model to the core search algorithm, which Nadella calls the largest jump in relevance ever.

It runs on a new user experience with an expanded search box that accepts up to 1,000 characters. Examples shared during the event look exactly like recent leaks.

The new Bing includes a chatbot that behaves similarly to ChatGPT, allowing users to interact with Bing in a natural language.

Bing’s new ChatGPT-like feature will take it a step further by allowing users to have an actual conversation with the search engine, with the ability to follow up on previous questions and provide more context for their search.

The new Bing is now available for a limited preview on desktop, and anyone can try it out by visiting Bing.com and performing sample searches.

You can also sign up to be notified when it becomes more widely available.

The preview will be expanded to millions of users in the near future, and a mobile version will be available soon.

The New Edge Browser

The chat interface Microsoft demonstrated in Bing is available as a sidebar feature in Edge, allowing users to access it without navigating to the Bing website. The interface can run alongside any webpage and interact with it.

During a demonstration, the AI assistant in Edge could summarize a 15-page PDF with one click and even translate a code snippet from Stack Overflow into another programming language.

Another benefit of the Edge browser’s “AI co-pilot” is having it complete tasks for you, such as filling out forms and writing emails.

In Summary

Microsoft has made a substantial leap in search engine technology by integrating a ChatGPT-like feature in its Bing search engine.

The new Bing is powered by a next-generation language model from OpenAI, which takes key learnings and advancements from ChatGPT and GPT-3.5.

Bing with the AI co-pilot is now available for a limited preview on desktop, and a mobile version will be available soon.

Additionally, the chat interface will be available as a sidebar feature in the new Edge browser, which has the ability to summarize information, translate code, and even complete tasks.


Source: Microsoft

Featured Image: Poetra.RH/Shutterstock



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From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics

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From Competitors To Partners: Conductor Acquires Searchmetrics

Conductor, a leading enterprise organic marketing platform, has acquired European-based competitor, Searchmetrics, to accelerate its expansion in the European market.

After acquiring ContentKing in 2022, the acquisition of Searchmetrics continues to strengthen Conductor’s position in the industry.

Seth Besmertnik, Conductor’s CEO and co-founder, said that the acquisition would bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and its shared customers:

“Searchmetrics has been a competitor almost since we started Conductor, with a strong data foundation and a powerful presence in the European market. We are excited to bring the best of what Searchmetrics does to Conductor and to our now shared customers. Our goal is for customers to greatly benefit from this acquisition through delivery of more product value on a global scale.”

 

Matt Colebourne, the CEO of Searchmetrics, expressed his excitement for the company to join Conductor, calling it the “definitive global leader”:

“Conductor is indisputably the SEO space market leader. For years, we’ve admired their commitment to innovation for customers and their efforts to foster a dynamic and rewarding workplace culture for employees. By joining Conductor, we bring the best of what we do along with a large European customer base—solidifying Conductor as the definitive global leader. We cannot wait to build more for customers going forward.”

 

Ken Ogenbratt, Searchmetrics’s Chief Financial Officer, said the acquisition is a “pivotal step” for the SEO industry as the two companies move forward as partners with the opportunity to drive even greater value to customers.

With this acquisition, Conductor continues its commitment to creating a single, global platform that integrates all parts of the SEO workflow.

With Searchmetrics’ strong European presence and solid customer base, the acquisition will significantly accelerate Conductor’s growth in Europe.

Conductor has completed its second acquisition in a year with the purchase of Searchmetrics, which follows the company’s significant funding round from Bregal Sagemount in 2021.

This acquisition is seen as a sign of Conductor’s recent growth. It is expected to solidify its position as a leading player in the SEO space by incorporating the strengths of both companies for their shared customers.


Featured Image: dotshock/Shutterstock



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How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)

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How to Execute the Skyscraper Technique (And Get Results)

In 2015, Brian Dean revealed a brand-new link building strategy. He called it the Skyscraper Technique.

With over 10,000 backlinks since the post was published, it’s fair to say that the Skyscraper Technique took the world by storm in 2015. But what is it exactly, how can you implement it, and can you still get results with this technique in 2023?

Låt oss börja.

What is the Skyscraper Technique?

The Skyscraper Technique is a link building strategy where you improve existing popular content and replicate the backlinks. 

Brian named it so because in his words, “It’s human nature to be attracted to the best. And what you’re doing here is finding the tallest ‘skyscraper’ in your space… and slapping 20 stories to the top of it.”

Here’s how the technique works:

Three steps of the Skyscraper Technique

How to implement the Skyscraper Technique

Follow these three steps to execute the Skyscraper Technique.

1. Find relevant content with lots of backlinks

There are three methods to find relevant pages with plenty of links:

Use Site Explorer

Enter a popular site into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer. Next, go to the Best by backlinks report.

Best pages by backlinks report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows you a list of pages from the site with the highest number of referring domains. If there are content pieces with more than 50 referring domains, they’re likely to be good potential targets.

Sidenote.

Ignore homepages and other irrelevant content when eyeballing this report.

Use Content Explorer

Ahrefs’ Content Explorer is a searchable database of 10 billion pages. You can use it to find mentions of any word or phrase.

Let’s start by entering a broad topic related to your niche into Content Explorer. Next, set a Referring domains filter to a minimum of 50. 

We can also add:

  • Language filter to get only pages in our target language.
  • Exclude homepages to remove homepages from the results.
Ahrefs' Content Explorer search for "gardening," with filters

Eyeball the results to see if there are any potential pieces of content you could beat.

Use Keywords Explorer

Enter a broad keyword into Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer. Next, go to the Matching terms report and set a Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to a minimum of 40.

Matching terms report, via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Why filter for KD? 

The reason is due to the method we use at Ahrefs to calculate KD. Our KD score is calculated from a trimmed mean of referring domains (RDs) to the top 10 ranking pages. 

In other words, the top-ranking pages for keywords with high KD scores have lots of backlinks on average.

From here, you’ll want to go through the report to find potential topics you could build a better piece of content around. 

2. Make it better

The core idea (or assumption) behind the Skyscraper Technique is that people want to see the best. 

Once you’ve found the content you want to beat, the next step is to make something even better

According to Brian, there are four aspects worth improving:

  1. Length – If the post has 25 tips, list more.
  2. Freshness – Update any outdated parts of the original article with new images, screenshots, information, stats, etc.
  3. Design – Make it stand out with a custom design. You could even make it interactive.
  4. Depth – Don’t just list things. Fill in the details and make them actionable.

3. Reach out to the right people

The key to successfully executing the Skyscraper Technique is email outreach. But instead of spamming everyone you know, you reach out to those who have already linked to the specific content you have improved. 

The assumption: Since they’ve already linked to a similar article, they’re more likely to link to one that’s better.

You can find these people by pasting the URL of the original piece into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer and then going to the Backlinks report.

Backlinks report for ResumeGenius' how to write a resume, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

This report shows all the backlinks to the page. In this case, there are 441 groups of links.

But not all of these links will make good prospects. So you’ll likely need to add some filters to clean them up. For example, you can:

  • Add a Language filter for the language you’re targeting (e.g., English).
  • Switch the tab to Dofollow for equity-passing links.
Backlinks report, with filters, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

Does the Skyscraper Technique still work?

It’s been roughly eight years since Brian shared this link building strategy. Honestly speaking, the technique has been oversaturated. Given its widespread use, its effectiveness may even be limited. 

Some SEOs even say they wouldn’t recommend it.

So we asked our Twitter och LinkedIn following this question and received 1,242 votes. Here are the results:

Pie chart showing 61% of respondents feel the Skyscraper Technique still works

Clearly, many SEOs and marketers still believe the technique works.

Sidenote.

According to Aira’s annual State of Link Building report, only 18% of SEOs still use the Skyscraper Technique. It’s not a go-to for many SEOs, as it ranks #20 among the list of tactics. I suspect its popularity has waned because (1) it’s old and SEOs are looking for newer stuff and (2) SEOs believe that content is more important than links these days.

Why the Skyscraper Technique fails and how to improve your chances of success

Fundamentally, it makes sense that the Skyscraper Technique still works. After all, the principles are the same behind (almost) any link building strategy:

  1. Create great content
  2. Reach out to people and promote it

But why do people think it’s no longer effective? There are a few reasons why and knowing them will help you improve your chances of success with the Skyscraper Technique.

Let’s start with:

1. Sending only Brian’s email template

In Brian’s original post, he suggested an email template for his readers to use:

Hey, I found your post: http://post1

<generic compliment>

It links to this post: http://post2

I made something better: http://post3

Please swap out the link for mine.

Unfortunately, many SEOs decided to use this exact template word for word. 

Link building doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If everyone in your niche decides to send this exact template to every possible website, it’ll burn out real fast. And that’s exactly what happened.

Now, if a website owner sees this template, chances are they’ll delete it right away. 

Sidenote.

Judging by my inbox, there are still people using this exact template. And, like everyone else, I delete the email immediately.

I’m not saying this to disparage templated emails. If you’re sending something at scale, templating is necessary. But move away from this template. Write your own, personalize it as much as possible, and follow the outreach principles here.

Even better, ask yourself:

"What makes my content unique and link-worthy?”

2. Not segmenting your prospects

People link for different reasons, so you shouldn’t send everyone the same pitch. 

Consider dividing your list of prospects into segments according to the context in which they linked. You can do this by checking the Anchors report in Site Explorer.

Anchors report, via Ahrefs' Site Explorer

You can clearly see people are linking to different statistics from our SEO statistics post. So, for example, if we were doing outreach for a hypothetical post, we might want to mention to the first group that we have a new statistic for “Over 90% of content gets no traffic from Google.”

Then, to the second group, we’ll mention that we have new statistics for “68% of online experiences.” And so on. 

In fact, that’s exactly what we did when we built links to this post. Check out the case study here:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=videoseries

3. Not reaching out to enough people

Ultimately, link building is still a numbers game. If you don’t reach out to enough people, you won’t get enough links. 

Simply put: You need to curate a larger list of link prospects.

So rather than limiting yourself to only replicating the backlinks of the original content, you should replicate the backlinks from other top-ranking pages covering the same topic too.

To find these pages, enter the target keyword into Keywords Explorer and scroll down to the SERP overview.

SERP overview for "how to write a resume," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

In this example, most top-ranking pages have tons of links, and all of them (after filtering, of course) could be potential link prospects.

Pro tip

Looking for even more prospects? Use Content Explorer.

Search for your keyword, set a Referring domains filter, and you’ll see relevant pages where you can “mine” for more skyscraper prospects.

Referring domains filters selected in Ahrefs' Content Explorer

4. Thinking bigger equals better

Someone creates a list with 15 tools. The next person ups it to 30. Another “skyscrapers” it to 50, and the next increases it to 100.

Not only is it a never-ending arms race, there’s also no value for the reader. 

No one wants to skim through 5,000 words or hundreds of items just to find what they need. Curation is where the value is.

When considering the four aspects mentioned by Brian, don’t improve things for the sake of improving them. Adding 25 mediocre tips to an existing list of 25 doesn’t make it “better.” Likewise for changing the publish date or adding a few low-quality illustrations. 

Example: My colleague, Chris Haines, recently published a post on the best niche site ideas. Even though he only included 10, he has already outperformed the other “skyscraper” articles:

Our blog post ranking #3 for the query, "niche site ideas," via Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

He differentiated himself through his knowledge and expertise. After all, Chris has 10 years of experience in SEO. 

So when you’re creating your article, always look at any improvement through the lens of value:

Are you giving more value to the reader? 

5. Not considering brand

As Ross Hudgens says, “Better does not occur in a branding vacuum.”

För det mesta bedöms innehåll inte enbart efter dess kvalitet. Det bedöms också av vem det kommer ifrån. Vi upptäckte detta själva också när vi försökte bygga länkar till vår sökordsforskningsguide.

För det mesta läste folk inte artikeln. De länkade till oss på grund av vårt varumärke och vårt rykte – de visste att vi publicerade bra innehåll konsekvent, och de hade förtroende för att artikeln vi presenterade också var bra.

Med andra ord, det finns tillfällen där oavsett hur hårt du "skyskrapar" ditt innehåll, folk bara inte länkar till det eftersom de inte vet vem du är. 

Att ha ett eget personligt varumärke är viktigt nuförtiden. Men tänk på det: Vad är ett "starkt varumärke" om inte en konsekvent produktion av högkvalitativt arbete som människor tycker om? En ensam skyskrapa gör inte en stad; många av dem gör det tillsammans.

Vad jag säger är detta: Bli inte avskräckt om din "skyskrapa"-artikel inte får några resultat. Och bli inte avskräckt bara för att du inte har ett varumärke just nu – du kan arbeta med det över tid.

Fortsätt att skapa bra innehåll – skyskrapa eller inte – och resultat kommer om du litar på processen.

"Rom byggdes inte på en dag, men de lade tegel varje timme.” 

Slutgiltiga tankar

Skyscraper-tekniken är en legitim länkbyggande taktik som fungerar. Men det kan bara hända om du:

Några frågor eller kommentarer? Låt mig veta på Twitter.



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