Digisemestr #2 (2019-03-02) – SEO & Link Building

Digisemestr #2 (2019-03-02) – SEO & Link Building

Digisemestr is prestigious semester study of digital marketing. What are we learning about? SEO, Link building, PPC, RTB, Retargeting, Social media, Marketing tools, Analytics, Branding, Copywriting, Content marketing, NPS, Loyalty programs, Marketing strategy, CRO, A/B testing, UX, Emailing, Growth hacking and more.

These are my notes from the 2nd Saturday (There will be 13 in total). Writing about what we learned helps me memorize it. You can find more details about Digisemestr and why I write about it in my previous post – Digisemestr #1 (2019-02-23). One last thing, if you notice any mistakes, please get in touch with me (comment here, send me an email, message me on LinkedIn, etc) so I can fix ‘em. Don’t let me spread nonsense! Thanks!

The focus of the second Saturday was SEO, Link building and product comparison sites.

Dominik – SEO

The first speaker, Dominik Liebezeitinik talked about demographics of Google vs Seznam (popular Czech portal). Less educated and older are using Seznam compared to Google. Seznam is older than Google. What does football has to do with PageRank invented by Larry Page? Think about it for a second… In football players pass on the ball between each other. Imagine each pass is a link. To which player would you pass the ball? How many did that player get in the past? We can rank players/websites based on how many others pass the ball to them / link to them. Random statistics: In Myanmar, they browse Facebook for free, so it’s the number one website.

Google results page, organic results get about 77% clicks, paid results get 21%. When people click the paid results it’s the DO phase for them, eg. they want a specific model of washing machine. Organic results are SEE phase. Other types of results are snippets, info boxes, images… For example: Movie posters images result for query “Top action movies”.

With all these boxes and direct answers right on Google, organic results get fewer clicks.

Ahrefs tool was mentioned several times during this Saturday. It can show you how many people click on organic vs paid content. On mobile, only 2% click paid, 40% click organic.

There are millions of results in the organic search for any word. It’s extremely difficult to get to the 1st ten. You would think getting to the first page would be a win. It’s not. You want to be in the first four results. The rest 5-10th positions get much fewer clicks than 1-4th.

SEO

What is it? We want to find our target audience (keywords, users), create a landing page, optimize from the technical point of view (speed), ensure others link to us and share us (includes ads), measure and analyze, and make enhancements and updates.

SEO vs PPC

PPC has an immediate effect, but it stops working as soon as you stop paying for it. Competition might bid higher and it might not be profitable to keep bidding higher.

SEO is more gradual. It takes a while for it to show results. It might take over a year to gain traction (ie. 18 months of publishing Whiteboard Friday videos). There is a gap of disappointment when you keep investing time and effort without seeing any results. Wikipedia is well structured, quality source with a lot of internal links. Step number one is is to know what are people looking for.

What search term would you use to look up this orange/yellow object? Sofa? Couch? Settee? Which keyword to choose? If you are offering sofa and people are looking for couches you gonna have a bad time. Long keywords are specific search terms. So instead of “shoes”, they search for “running shoes adidas blue 44”. They are great for conversion because a person who is searching for something very specific knows exactly what they want to buy. They want to buy!

Keyword analysis

Market research, what are people looking for. You can use Web Scraper – for competitive analysis, Google Search Console, Google Analytics. Czech tool Sklik is good for related keyword suggestion. Marketing Miner is for when we have keywords and we want to get statistics for each of them.

Bizarre keywords are fun.

After we got our keywords it’s time to sort them. There is a logic a pattern in what are they looking for. We want to answer those queries. We should have answers to everything.

Use your keywords in images, descriptions, everywhere. Don’t forget about snippets (text below links in search results) and meta descriptions. They don’t influence ranking, but they affect CTR. Length of snippets is measured in pixels which translates to a maximum length of 320 characters. Don’t bother with meta keywords, they have no effect. Make sure URLs are human-readable (don’t go the Amazon way). Make sure content is structured with headings and stuff. Content is the King – Bill Gates. Optimize multimedia too (ie. alt text for images).

Filip – technical SEO

The second speaker of second Saturday, Filip Podstavec, talked about PageRank from the technical point of view. The crawler is navigating through the links. There are barrels which store sorted index. Sometimes we might get different search results because we end up in a different barrel. PageRank of one page can influence another page. Google keeps PageRank secret, however, there is an Open PageRank which tries to bring the metric back.

When you search on Google you don’t actually search “the web”, you only search within Google index. I would compare it to looking for people in a phone book. Firstly, Google goes from house to house (crawler) and writes down people’s names to index. When you enter your search phrase Google looks in the index and retrieves relevant records.

Do you have a blog? Have you just published a new article? Get it indexed ASAP with Google Search Console. Nowadays, it’s the mobile-first indexing, so make sure your web loads just fine on mobile phones. Optimize for mobile.

Robots.txt is for blocking or enabling crawler (eg. on WordPress blogs blocking wp-admin page). With meta robots, you can specify if search engines should index and/or follow individual links. On Google, you can use info operator to find how is the website indexed, eg. “info:web.xyz”.

What should we index? And what shouldn’t be indexed? Index homepage, categories, details of products and static pages. Sometimes you might want to index search and filter results. Don’t index steps of shopping process (eg. shopping basket), order pages (One e-shop screw up and it was possible to change the delivery address of someone’s order), paging.

What about dynamic pages with a lot of Javascript? It’s fine. They are “SEO-ble”. Progressive Web Apps (PWA), websites which act like apps on phones are a big trend. Crawl budget is how much effort search engines gives your website. Make sure your services run just fine when they are being crawled/indexed. You want as low latency between you and search engine as possible.

How to get to extensions and boxes on google search results? To get a box with map and directions just register on Google My Business. Use structured data for the rest, eg. RAM, CPU and others for laptops.

You can change parameters in google search URL to change language (hl={lang}) and to turn-off personalization (&pws=0).

Ranking

What goes into the ranking? Content, authority and user signals.

Content

What is the best answer for users? There are also technical rules for content. It should be unique, structured, relevant, interesting and beneficial. Factors are different for different markets.

Authority

Based on link building, ie. how authoritative are links to our website. Places to promote – discussions, catalogs… With higher authority, there is more crawl budget.

User signals

These are trying to represent user behavior such as CTR, dwell time (time between clicking on 2 search results).

User intent is what user wanted, why did they search? Chrome UX reports are used as a ranking factor (it’s measuring website speed).

E-A-T + YMYL = Expertise, Authority, Trust and Your Money Your Life.

E

How professional is the content and is there information about the author?

A

How authoritative is the website and are there references?

T

Is the website secure (HTTPS), is the owner known, is it up-to-date?

YMYL

Google is more strict with websites about finance, legal, retirement, health and wellbeing.

Another ranking factor is how brands are associated with search terms. This means the brand is authority for that search term.

Google Bombs are fun. “French military victories” -> Did you mean “French military defeats”?

Zdenek – link building

Our third speaker was Zdenek Dvorak and he talked about the philosophy of link building or rather strategy (ie. how to approach link building as a whole). Why do we care about PageRank? It influences how do we show on SERP and traffic for our website.

So how to think about link building?

Ask yourself: What do I have interesting for others? Why would they want to share it? Why would they link to it? What’s their motivation for it?

Why people share? When we’re creating content we can target these motivations:

  • To brag and boast – eg. blogger want to show their new jeans, “who talks about us” section
  • Funny
  • Data and Stats – Pornhub and their insights about different countries
  • Fails – all those fail compilations on YT
  • Hate
  • Trust – Recommended links on blogs
  • Affiliate programs
  • Friendly connection – on blogs
  • Promo from business partner – list of distributors, list of partners
  • Reference – our customers

Btw different segments of websites require a different amount of links.

Link building in a nutshell: assets, opportunities, motivations, link.

Number 3 reasons are: making money, being in a spotlight and wanting to help. Try to target their motivation. Zdenek showed us a funny example of a pink digital camera which had a funny Czech title. People wanted to link to it. Later, they named other pink products similar way.

Competitions, reviews, gifts, data, summaries, newsletter, clubs and many other ways exist to motivate people to link to you. You can even ask your customers who run blogs to link to you. Check your database for custom domains.

How we can tell which websites we want to link to us? They are indexed, without redirects, up-to-date, contain contact information, without spam, high position and getting clicks in SERP (check Ahrefs). Basically, the E-A-T. Great websites have a ratio of keywords and URLs larger than 1. If there are “bad” websites linking to you, you can disavow those links in Google Search Console. You can track your rank in search console to see the progress of your link building. What are success metrics in link building? Direct (revenue) and indirect (ranking position).

Where to start? With keyword analysis. Pair keywords and URLs on your website.

Content strategy – invite somebody for an interview, it’s about where to publish, how often, etc.

Newsjacking – be faster than others in fresh news delivery. It makes you rank higher since more people get to you first.

Opportunities

How to look for opportunities? Manually or using tools. There are catalogs, various lists, awards and competitions…

Link tactics – motivations for assets, when it’s applicable?

Look for media partners. Write about their event in exchange for a link from their website. Have an opinion – There was an outrage in Czech on social networks because of a black person in <insert-supermarket-name-here> leaflet. So one competing supermarket created their own leaflet saying “Black looks great on anyone” with clothes in black color. Offering traffic to partners works best. You can come up with your own certificates (eg. blogger of the month, best cosplayer, etc), thank citizens for recycling (and prepare unique text for each to put it on their blogs), charity give away (give them your products), ego baiting (people like to show themselves, when you write about them they share it), limited time offers, guest posts, offline events, …. plenty and plenty more…

Use Ahrefs to check competing domains and in Collabim through keywords. Your on-site assets are the ones with the most links.

Here are resources and links from Zdenek’s lecture (CZ): https://linki.cz/digisemestr/

Dominik – Influencers

This was Dominik’s second presentation. He talked about influencer marketing and esports. League of Legends is twice as big as Super Bowl (200M vs 103M).

How they choose the influencer to work with?

  • A partner – there are things which need to be handled, problems to be solved.
  • Experience with being an influencer.
  • Reach – large enough audience.
  • They need to choose you too, it must be beneficial for both to cooperate (Win-Win).

For their campaign, they chose Stanislav Cifka, Czech pro gamer in Hearthstone.

What about radio? People do not visit links mentioned in radio unless it’s a contest. And it needs to be simple, very simple. Make sure your questions for the quiz are really dumb.

Stanislav appeared on TV and this increased traffic by 28%. So if you have an opportunity to appear on TV, do it! The easiest way to get in is to know people.

Corporate social responsibility. CSR. Beehives on rooftops. Choose something you know your way around. Always look for new ways. Experiment. Provide value to others.

Michal – Product comparison sites and catalogs

Our last speaker for today was Michal Storkan and his topic were those product comparison sites with user reviews as well as catalogs. This kind of marketing might be of interest for those who like to analyze data and trends. It’s less about creativity.

I was a bit surprised to learn there 38k e-shops on Czech product price comparison site Heureka.cz. Most folks guessed it’s less than 10k. Heureka is also the site we were talking about the whole time, but I guess most of the lessons can be generalized for any product price comparison site.

Being present on these sites is vital! You are taking part in customer shopping decision process. The people who come to comparison sites know what they wanna buy. CTR is very good (even 20-30%). Well thought-through answer to a negative review can improve your image. Or at least neutralize it. Bad answers are funny, but that’s it.

So how can get to comparison site? Register and provide data feed in XML format. You can use XeMeL or similar tools to edit XML feed. For example, your internet shop might have different product categories than a comparison site. Or maybe you wanna tweak product name a little.

The ranking is so important! Being on 11th position or worse is useless. Not enough people. E-shops can bid to show up in the highlighted section. It might be worth it to bid $6 or more for CPC when selling very expensive products. Like $13k jacuzzi.

Bidding wars and competition. Do some math! If you aren’t bidding and being left out below 10th place you don’t get many customers. What if you bid a bit? Let’s say it moves you to 3rd place. Suddenly, you’re selling 10x as much. Is your increase in sales worth it? You’ve spent more to rank higher, but maybe now you earn a lot more to offset the cost? ROI. Usually, it is worth it, but spend some time to watch and tweak the numbers.

Last interesting bit – some e-shops show different price based on where the user is coming from. When coming from the search they show $20. To product comparison sites they show $15.

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