Apologies for a late Breaking Content issue. I got pulled away by other priorities and so had to hold off on writing.
I started working on this issue in December and was halfway through it before I had to take a break. For this reason, most of the stories in this Breaking Content are a couple of months old.
However, they are all still relevant. So instead of scrapping the draft, I decided to go ahead and finish what I started back then.
I’ll be back within a month with more recent updates and advanced tips.
Just one last note before I go. Many of you suggested that stories in the paid acquisition and strategy categories/funnel would be more related to content marketing. So from this issue on, stories in all categories will be strictly tied to content marketing.
For instance, if the story is about PPC, it will be presented in the context of content distribution or SEO, both of which impact your content performance.
Thank you for your feedback and involvement. And as always, if you have any further suggestions or questions, don’t hesitate to contact me.
A Guide to Advanced Semantic Keyword Optimization (According to Google Patents)
Why it matters: Google’s algorithm is getting increasingly good at understanding the context of queries. That’s why your content must provide context by way of semantically related phrases.
- Add phrases that suggest the context of your keywords.
- Look for common phrases on pages that rank high for your target keywords.
- LSI keywords are phrases that are used to describe the target keyword (eg. “President of the United States” is semantically related to “White House”).
- Use semantically related phrases in anchor text for more organic linking.
- Pay close attention to words with multiple meanings (eg. “Jaguar” can be a car, an animal, or an NFL football team).
- Keep in mind that semantic search also personalizes search results based on the user’s search history, location and etc.
- Today search results are based on what we type and say. In the future, personalization will extend into what we see and capture with our smartphones and other gadgets like Google Lens.
The Fall of Featured Snippets
Why it matters: Featured snippets rank above organic search results, so understanding what’s going on with them is critical to SEO success.
- Over 16% of keywords return search results with featured snippets, according to Moz data.
- The number of search queries with featured snippets has been dropping lately.
- This drop coincides with a dramatic increase of knowledge panels appearing in search results.
- One of the takeaways from this story is that Google potentially sees more value in knowledge graphs than features snippets.
UX Is the Focal Point of SEO This Year
Why it matters: User experience is becoming an increasingly important ranking factor, according to many studies and statements from Google’s employees.
In the key takeaways, you’ll find actionable tips and quick UX tweaks that will improve your SEO rankings.
- Use headings (<h1>, <h2>, <h3>, <h4>, <h5> and <h6>) appropriately. They should reflect the hierarchy of information and follow the page structure. One of the most common mistakes is to use H1 tags for all headings.
- Improve your site’s structure and navigation. Although it seems obvious, many sites forget about navigation on deeper-level pages. It’s critical for SEO because your inner pages are the first encounter with the user from organic search.
- Site speed, especially on mobile, remains one of the most critical SEO and UX factors.
- I’ve been banging this drum for the last three newsletters, but here we go again: a good mobile user experience should be your #1 priority right now. Mobiles search has already surpassed desktop a long time ago. Mobile friendliness is one of the most important ranking factors after Google’s 2015 update. Plus, Google is rolling out the mobile-first index in a not too distant future.
Google: AMP Canonical Pages Must Match (ALERT)
Why it matters: 25M sites employ AMPs, so Google’s recent policy change with regard to AMPs will affect a lot of you.
Content on the AMP page and the original page (canonical) must match starting Feb 1, 2018. If the AMP page is not identical to the original one, Google is likely to remove it from the index.
The Ultimate Guide to SEO in 2018 from Backlinko
Why it matters: Backlinko is known for one of the longest and most thorough digital marketing guides. Their SEO guide for 2018 is not an exception.
- Google’s AI-based query processing technology called RankBrain will be a key ranking factor in 2018. RankBrain currently evaluates content quality based on time spent on the page and the organic click-through rate.
- As a result of knowledge graphs, featured snippet and other forms of instant answers in Google’s search results, the organic CTR is down 37% since 2015. That’s why optimizing this metric is of critical importance.
- Context-based content optimization will trump keyword placement, which means more focus on long-form content and LSI keywords.
- Again, get ready for Google’s mobile-first index, which means optimizing content, navigation and the whole UX for mobile.
- More and more videos are appearing in Google’s search results, so double down on video content. Upload videos to Youtube and embed them to articles to enrich content and give more context to Google’s crawlers.
- Voice search is on the rise. 40% of adults do at least one voice search a day and over 20% of all mobile searches are already voice searches. It’s time to think about SEO optimization in the voice context. This actually doesn’t differ a lot from content optimization for featured snippets (I covered it in my previous newsletter, which you can find here).
- Don’t forget that links and the content itself are still key to success in SEO.
- Publish content that is based on proprietary data to attract journalists and backlinks.
- Encourage comments on the site, which directly affect your rankings, according to Google.
- Do podcasts for backlinks.
Study: How AMPs Impact Your Organic Search Results
Why it matters: Accelerated mobile pages (AMPs) allow for fast page rendering and delivery on mobile, which affects Google rankings and bottom-line results.
First off, some mind-blowing data on what impact even a mere one-tenth of a second could have on sales:
- After AMP implementation on 90% of pages, Thrilist saw a 70% increase in organic search traffic.
- A big media company in the study converted 95% of pages to AMPs and saw a 67% lift in organic search traffic.
- Ecommerce site Myntra saw a 40% drop in the bounce rate on pages transformed into AMPs.
- Event Ticket Center saw a drop of 10% in the bounce rate, an increase in pages per session of 6%, a lift of 13% in session duration, and a huge 100% rise in sale conversions.
- Here’s also a summary table with results from the 10 sites that participated in the study:
How Google Gives Us Clues about Keyword Intent in Search Results
Why it matters: Google’s RankBrain is surprisingly good at identifying the intent behind search queries and serving search results accordingly. As such, if you optimize your SEO content for the wrong intent, you will have a hard time ranking in top positions.
- Don’t target keywords without understanding the intent of the searcher.
- Google your keyword, look at the search results on the first page, and identify top two to three intents behind that search query.
- Pay attention to the “intent to position ratio”, which means the higher the intent is in organic results, the bigger percentage of searchers have this intent.
- Look for intent clues in related searches and autocomplete suggestions.
- If images are ranking at the top, you should be doing image SEO for that keyword.
- If you see highly authoritative sites or social networks, such as Pinterest or Youtube, dominating the first page, it may be better to do SEO on their platforms instead.
Google: Anchor Text in Internal Links Matters
Why it matters: Internal linking is an important part of on-site SEO optimization that could have a big impact on your rankings.
Anchor text in internal links matters. Google’s John Mueller implicitly confirmed this in a tweet at the end of last year: “Most links do provide a bit of additional context through their anchor text. At least they should, right?”
How Google Adwords Affects Organic Search Results
Why it matters: There’s a lot of indirect intersection between SEO and Adwords that you must take into consideration when evaluating the ROI of paid search.
- Adwords does not directly affect page rankings, contrary to popular belief. But paid has an indirect effect that influences organic search performance.
- The searcher is more likely to click on an organic result if the page has an ad.
- Searchers who were exposed to your brand via Adwords ads before are more likely to click on your organic listings in the future.
- Having both paid and organic listings for the keyword strongly affects the organic CTR. And as we know, the CTR is a big factor in SEO.
- Paid traffic increases site visits, social signals, mentions, and other factors that directly affect the page’s ranking.
- Paid could disrupt the dynamics of organic search queries in the industry by attracting or deterring competition, and altering rankings in the process.
How Problogger Staff Edits Their Own Content
Why it matters: Good editing makes content clear, concise, and easy to read. However, few companies have a good editing workflow in place, which often results in poor quality copy and articles.
- Check your article’s introduction and make sure it has a strong enough hook that convinces to read further. Also, avoid lengthy intros.
- Add subheadings and break the content into sections that contain a single idea. This is critical to retaining the majority of readers who will skim your content.
- Create visual breaks in the form of bullet points and short paragraphs. Don’t hesitate to use one-sentence paragraphs, especially for punch-line sentences or other critical information.
- Remove redundant and irrelevant information that could bog down the average reader. A common mistake is to include a lot of details for beginners and professionals. To accommodate more readers, it’s better to include links to further information instead of cramming everything into your article.
- Make sure there is a conclusion that gives the reader a call to action. This makes your content purposeful.
- Remove and replace lengthy and complex words. My rule of thumb is to use words with as little syllables as possible. As a reference point, use the Flesch–Kincaid readability test (you should aim for a score of 60 or higher).
- Link to your other related articles to retain readers who are seeking further information.
- Before publishing, do one more round of edits to make sure the article is error-free and as concise as possible. (If you are self-editing, take a break and do this last step with fresh eyes.)
Top 2018 Marketing Trends from Top Experts
Why it matters: Well, it’s self-explanatory.
- Traditional SEO strategies, such as links, on-page SEO, keywords are losing importance. Google’s RankBrain, an AI-driven ranking algorithm, will play a key role in organic rankings moving forward (Brian Dean, Backlinko).
- Semantic relevancy and features snippets will be huge in 2018, which presents a lot of growth hacking opportunities in SEO (Casey Armstrong, BigCommerce).
- AMPs will gain more importance this year (Lars Lofgren, I Will Teach You To Be Rich).
- Understanding email deliverability, inboxing strategies, and personalization based on behavior will be key to email marketing success (Barron Ernst, Showmax/Growth Consultant).
- First-click attribution will trump last-click attribution in data analysis (Benji Hyam, Grow and Convert).
- “Google Analytics + Salesforce integration could be a game changer for B2B Marketing” (Melinda Byerley, Timeshare CMO).
- More companies will be optimizing the entire sales funnel for mobile as users are getting increasingly comfortable with shopping using mobile devices. (Logan Young, BlitzMetrics).
- Videos will truly become the primary medium of marketing (Dennis Yu, BlitzMetrics).
- Branding will be a key CRO hack: “Focus on improving your brand. Work on improving your image, trust, and authority. This is the stealth CRO hack that no one can steal from you and it will improve your conversion rates across the board (Sean Work, Crazy Egg).
How to Create Stellar Content for Your Funnel—and Measure Its ROI
Why it matters: All too often marketers create content that has no specific purpose in the funnel, and that is a critical mistake in content marketing.
- There’s no need to create stellar content if it has no purpose in the sales funnel
- Each piece of content must have a specific goal aimed at impacting one of the stages in your sales funnel (eg. bring traffic, generate leads, convert, etc.):
- As you go down the funnel, content becomes more specific and less scalable (eg. individual presentations).
- Today marketing is responsible for both the top and the bottom of the funnel:
- The key metrics to measure are ROI (the ultimate goal), traffic and reach (are you reaching enough people? engagement and behavior (is your content achieving its purpose?), repeatability (in case of success, can this campaign be reproduced?)
Watch the full keynote panel below:
3 Marketing Myths Debunked by Analysing Youtube’s Audience
Why it matters: prejudices and stereotypes can often kill creativity and misguide our strategic decisions. This piece of content will serve as inspiration for being truly open-minded and question everything.
- One of the most common parenting stereotypes is that moms are the main caregivers. However, Google’s studies show that 86% of millennial dads seek out parenting advice on Youtube. More interestingly, dads watch more parenting-related content on YouTube than moms do.
- Contrary to popular belief, Youtube is quite popular among Gen Xers. 75% of them watch Youtube at least monthly.
- There’s a generational stereotype that millennials are an immature and dependent demographic that only seek for entertainment. However, research shows that 93% of millennials go to YouTube to learn how to navigate through adulthood, from tips on growing an herb garden to parenting advice. You shouldn’t forget that millennials are now the biggest demographic in the US, and the largest group of homebuyers.
- The key takeaway here is that you should trust nothing but data and hard facts in making assumptions about your audience and acquisition channels.
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