SEO for 2015: How Search Has Changed & How Marketers’ Tactics Must Shift

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Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com SEO for 2015: How Search Has Changed & How Marketers’ Tactics Must Shift

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This Presentation Is Online Here: bit.ly/seocode2014

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A brief look at how SEO has evolved over the past five years. What Changed?

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Searchers (and engines) are demanding more from results than ever before #1

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Page Speed Expectations Via http://www.relentlesstechnology.com/insights/page-speed.html

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Design & UX Expectations Via The Rise of Customer Expectations Around User Experience

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Content Quality Expectations Via http://www.searchmetrics.com/en/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/

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Employing User & Usage Data

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Leaning More Heavily on Human Quality Raters Via http://www.thesempost.com/google-rewrites-quality-rating-guide-seos-need-know/

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Past SEO Success May Not Be Indicative of the Future

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The move from keyword matching to topic association #2

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1998-2008 Keyword Matching

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2009-2012 Keyword Matching

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2013+ Keyword Matching

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2013+ Keyword Matching

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2013+ Keyword Matching

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2013+ Keyword Matching

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Google’s Upgraded Their Understanding Have We Upgraded Our Content?

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Domain-level keyword connections are on the rise #3

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Google’s Algorithm Used to Be Very Page-Level Biased This page has the most relevance and links. This one has the 2nd most.

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In the Past Few Years, They’ve Become More Inclusive of Domain-Level Signals We’ve seen a lot of searchers around this type of topic get positive results from this site. Let’s see if we can find a relevant result from it.

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Don’t Have a Domain-Level Content Strategy? You May Lose to Less SEO-Sophisticated, More Brand-Focused Competitors

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Google’s crackdown on spam is basically a crackdown on ranking without a brand #4

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Manipulating Google? You’d Better Be a Brand. Via http://marketingland.com/10-big-brands-that-were-penalized-by-google-69646

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Ranking Well, But Not a Brand? Google’s Gonna Reclassify Those Tactics. Via http://www.seobook.com/learn-seo/infographics/brand-branding-brands.php

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Critical SEO data still flows for the 1%, but is unavailable to the 99% #5

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~10% of Referral Data Still Available Via www.notprovidedcount.com/

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AdWords’ [Exact Match] No Longer Exact Via http://adwords.blogspot.com/2014/08/close-variant-matching-for-all-exact.html

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Via http://moz.com/blog/keyword-research-and-targeting-without-exact-match-whiteboard-friday

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But If You’re a Big Advertiser, that Keyword Data Still Flows Through Your Reports

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GA Sampling is Pervasive Unless You Pay… Via https://support.google.com/analytics/answer/2601061?hl=en

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This Inequity Might Feel Familiar Over time, behaviors of brands, searchers, & algorithms have combined to create something similar in SEO

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Processes and practices to change in the year ahead to stay a step ahead Tactics

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Research & Targeting Keyword

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Classic Keyword Process Brainstorm Collect Input Generate an Ideation List Use KW Research Tools to Expand Group Keywords by Targeting & Ranking Ability Produce List of Pages to Create Based on KWs Don’t KW Cannibalize – Consolidate if Need Be

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What’s Broken? Brainstorm Collect Input Generate an Ideation List Use KW Research Tools to Expand Group Keywords by Targeting & Ranking Ability Produce List of Pages to Create Based on KWs Don’t KW Cannibalize – Consolidate if Need Be

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Use KW Research Tools to Expand Instead of This: Do This: 1) Search the web, news, images, YouTube, & Buzzsumo using your list 2) Collect the concepts, topics, intents, related searches, & popular content you find 3) Aggregate into a new keyword list for refinement via volume estimate/expansion tools

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Group Keywords by Targeting & Ranking Ability Instead of This: Do This: 1) Group keywords by overlap in searcher intent 2) Break into buckets of 1-5+ terms/phrases that all serve those same intents. Worry less about precise KW match targeting in the title/URL/headline.

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Produce List of Pages to Create Based on KWs Instead of This: Do This: 1) Produce a list of searcher intents w/ 1-5 KWs each. 2) Create pages to target each intent, and plan ongoing content efforts w/ more competitive & temporally demanding KWs

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Don’t KW Cannibalize; Consolidate if Need Be Instead of This: Do This: 1) If you have multiple pages already targeting the same KW intent(s), consider consolidation (especially if they don’t rank well). 2) Anticipate creating fresh content that may repeatedly target the same KWs based on temporal changes, new intents, & the goal of connecting your domain w/ those terms in the engine.

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A simplistic example to help illustrate: Keyword Brainstorm List Evil Mustache Wax Mustache Products for Baddies Evil-Doers Facial Grooming Bad Guy Moustaches Criminal Mustaches Villainous Men’s Grooming “Infamous!” “Sinister!” I’m already getting expansion terms from searching

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People are clearly curious about what signals mustaches send! A perfect topic for my content. Johnny Depp & Lyft… Potential partners in moustachio’d crime?

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Google clearly has search volume and data for terms like this, but they won’t show them in Adwords ?

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Using the data I received from my searches, however, gives me some new opportunities (w/ very light competition)

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Group keywords by intent, not matching Villainous Mustaches Bad Mustache Evil Mustache Villain Mustache Monster Mustache Criminal Mustaches Vile Mustaches Styles Evil Mustache Styles Sinister Mustache Products Unsavory, Moustachio’d Characters Sacrilegious Mustaches Loathesome Mustache Wax Detestable Stache Products Vampiric Mustache Grooming Goods Famous Villain Mustaches Movie Badguy Mustaches Searchers looking for any of these keyword phrases likely have the same, shared intent/goal

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Make Pages that Focus on Intent Content that engages people AND fits with topic modeling algos

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Build Up Your Site’s Association with a Topic (or set of topics) Beardbrand’s constant presence across the web (in social, video, news, blogs, etc) means Google associates mustache product searches with their site.

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Building Earning Link

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We Sometimes Have Blinders On In Link Building Mode…

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Instead of This: Must. Get. Followed Link with Anchor Text.

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Do This. Build. Relationship.

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Social Media Can Build Relationships

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Comments Can Build Relationships

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A Friendly Email Builds a Relationship Even when the email is simply through a form, a note of thanks/compliment goes a long way.

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Advertising is a Relationship

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The goal isn’t links. The goal is to grow the quantity of interactions to the point where the relationship is real. Links are just a great side effect of the relationships (BTW - that’s exactly the type of link Google wants to count)

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Pro Tip #1: These are terrible targets: Sites #1-10 get all the attention, and likely experience online interaction fatigue very fast

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These are ideal targets: Sites #12+ are far more likely to be flattered by/interested in online interactions, and have far fewer pre-existing, web-based relationships

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Likewise, these are probably terrible targets: Folks with heavy Twitter followings often get bombarded with offers

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While these are likely excellent targets: A high social authority means lots of RTs per tweet, but probably not nearly as much attention as the vanity metric owners

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Pro Tip #2: Need a warm intro? GoConspire I can find anyone at a given company and/or any specific person and how we’re connected. Whoa.

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Pro Tip #3: Correlation Exists Between Advertisers on Small-Medium Sites & Links There’s a strong probability that at some point, the blogger/site owner will editorially link to these folks, simply because they’re top of mind.

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Pro Tip #4: Brand Mentions Near Keywords May Have Link-Like Effects This page isn’t even a great match, but Google’s associations of MarthaStewart.com w/ terms like “house” and “home organization” and “checklist” likely play into the ranking

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Creation Content

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Content Marketing May Be Creating False Expectations & Bad Practices

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Me. Must. Get. Viral. Hit.

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Me. Must. Publish. Every. Day.

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Me. Must. Write. Good. Unique. Content.

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Me. Must. Make. Content. Convert.

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Why. Me. No. Get. Results.?

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Criteria for Modern Content Investments: One-of-a-Kind – appears nowhere else on the web Relevant – contains content engines can interpret as on-topic Helpful – resolves the searcher’s query in a useful, efficient manner Uniquely Valuable – provides information that’s unavailable elsewhere Great UX– is easy & pleasurable to consume on any device Likely to Spread– convincingly answers the question: “Who will amplify this content and why?”

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Pro Tip #1: Imitate What Works!

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e.g. Buzzsumo can tell you the content that’s performed best for any given keyword, timeframe, platform, author, or website

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Pro Tip #2: In General: Text < Visuals < Interactive This planner from DefensiveDriving.com made Reddit’s homepage , in part thanks to interactivity

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Pro Tip #3: Even great content benefits from paid amplification Check out Quicksprout’s Guide to Content Syndication Networks

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Invest Choosing Where To

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Measurability is Often Inversely Correlated w/ Opportunity

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More: Manufacturing Serendipity & WB Friday on Serendipitous Marketing Serendipity is Powerful Because It’s Hard to Track, and Almost Never Competitive Attend a conference in Portland Meet a woman through a mutual friend who invites you to participate in a webinar Webinar attendee is impressed, invites you to speak at an event in San Jose San Jose event leads to $1mm in new business How do you attribute/measure the value of going to conferences in Portland?

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Only by increasing the vectors of exposure to potentially powerful events can you scale ROI

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Overinvest in your unique strengths. Blogging Video Photography Presentations In-Person Relationship Building Twitter Facebook Instagram Research Illustration Illustration Offline Advertising Display Ads Social Ads Google+ Podcasts Whitepapers Email Networking LinkedIn Pinterest SEO PPC Interviews

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SEO is getting harder

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But, that high barrier to entry means greater opportunity for those who succeed.

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Rand Fishkin, Wizard of Moz | @randfish | rand@moz.com bit.ly/seocode2014