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Using STAT: How to Uncover Additional Value in Your Keyword Data

This may be of some interest.

Posted by TheMozTeam

Changing SERP features and near-daily Google updates mean that single keyword strategies are no longer viable. Brands have a lot to keep tabs on if they want to stay visible and keep that coveted top spot on the SERP.

That’s why we asked Laura Hampton, Head of Marketing at Impressionto share some of the ways her award-winning team leverages STAT to surface all kinds of insights to make informed decisions.

Snag her expert tips on how to uncover additional value in your keyword data — including how Impression’s web team uses STAT’s API to improve client reporting, how to spot quick wins with dynamic tags, and what new projects they have up their sleeves. Take it away, Laura!

Spotting quick wins 

We all remember the traditional CTR chart. It suggests that websites ranking in position one on the SERPs can expect roughly 30 percent of the clicks available, with position two getting around 12 percent, position three seeing six percent, and so on (disclaimer: these may not be the actual numbers but, let’s face it, this formula is way outdated at this point anyway).

Today, the SERP landscape has changed, so we know that the chances of any of the above-suggested numbers being correct are minimal — especially when you consider the influence of elements like featured snippets on click-through rates.

But the practical reality remains that if you can improve your ranking position, it’s highly likely you’ll get at least some uplift in traffic for that term. This is where STAT’s dynamic tags can really help. Dynamic tags are a special kind of tag that automatically populates keywords based on changeable filter criteria.

We like to set up dynamic tags based on ranking position. We use this to flag keywords which are sitting just outside of the top three, top five, or top 10 positions. Layer into this some form of traffic benchmark, and you can easily uncover keywords with decent traffic potential that just need an extra bit of work to tip them into a better position.

Chasing position zero with featured snippets and PAAs 

There’s been a lot of chat in our industry about the growing prevalence of SERP features like featured snippets and “People also ask” (PAA) boxes. In fact, STAT has been instrumental in leading much of the research into the influence of these two SERP features on brand visibility and CTRs.

If your strategy includes a hunt for the coveted position zero, you’re in luck. We like to use STAT’s dynamic tagging feature to monitor the keywords that result in featured snippets. This way, we can track keywords where our client owns the snippet and where they don’t. We can also highlight new opportunities to create optimized content and attempt to capture the spot from their competitors.

This also really helps guide our overall content strategy, since STAT is able to provide quick feedback on the type of content (and, therefore, the assumed intent) that will perform best amongst a keyword set.

Making use of data views 

Data views are one of the most fundamental elements of STAT. They are tools that allow you to organize your data in ways that are meaningful to you. Holding multiple keyword segments (tags) and producing aggregate metrics, they make it possible for us to dissect keyword information and then implement strategically driven decisions.

For us at Impression, data views are essential. They reflect the tactical aspirations of the client. While you could create a single templated dashboard for all your clients with the same data views, our strategists will often set up data views that mirror the way each client and account work.

Even if we’re not yet actively working on a keyword set, we usually create data views to enable us to quickly spot opportunities and report back on the strategic progression.

Here are just some of the data views we’ve grouped our keyword segments into:

The conversion funnel

Segmenting keywords into the stages of the conversion funnel is a fairly common strategy for search marketers — it makes it possible to focus in on and prioritize higher intent queries and then extrapolate out.

Many of our data views are set up to monitor keywords tagged as “conversion,” “education,” and “awareness.”

Client goals

Because we believe successful search marketing is only possible when it integrates with wider business goals, we like to spend time getting to know our clients’ audiences, as well as their specific niches and characteristics.

This way, we can split our keywords into those which reflect the segments that our clients wish to target. For example, in some cases, this is based on sectors, such as our telecommunications client who targets audiences in finance, marketing, IT, and general business. In others, it’s based on locations, in which case we’ll leverage STAT’s location capabilities to track the visibility of our clients to different locales.

Services and/or categories

For those clients who sell online — whether it’s products or services — data views are a great way to track their visibility within each service area or product category.

Our own dashboard (for Impression) uses this approach to split out our service-based keywords, so our data view is marked “Services” and the tags we track within are “SEO,” “PPC,” “web,” and so on. For one of our fashion clients, the data view relates to product categories, where the tracked tags include “footwear,” “accessories,” and “dresses.”

At-a-glance health monitoring

A relatively new feature in STAT allows us to see the performance of tags compared to one another: the Tags tab.

Because we use data views and tags a lot, this has been a neat addition for us. The ability to quickly view those tags and how the keywords within are progressing is immensely valuable.

Let’s use an example from above. For Impression’s own keyword set, one data view contains tags that represent different service offerings. When we click on that data view and choose “Tags” in the tabbed options, we can see how well each service area is performing in terms of its visibility online.

This means we can get very quick strategic insights that say our ranking positions for SEO are consistently pretty awesome, while those around CRO (which we are arguably less well known for), tend to fluctuate more. We can also make a quick comparison between them thanks to the layout of the tab.

Identifying keyword cannibalization risk through duplicate landing pages 

While we certainly don’t subscribe to any notion of a content cannibalization penalty per se, we do believe that having multiple landing pages for one keyword or keyword set is problematic.

That’s where STAT can help. We simply filter the keywords table to show a given landing page and we’re able to track instances where it’s ranking for multiple keywords.

By exporting that information, we can then compare the best and worst ranking URLs. We can also highlight where the ranking URL for a single keyword has changed, signaling internal conflict and, therefore, an opportunity to streamline and improve.

Monitoring the competitive landscape 

No search strategy is complete without an understanding of the wider search landscape. Specifically, this means keeping track of your and/or your client’s rankings when compared to others ranking around them.

We like to use STAT’s Competitive Landscape tab to view this information for a specific data view, or across the whole account. In particular, the Share of Voice: Current Leaders board tells us very quickly who we’re up against for a keyword set.

This leads to insights such as the competitiveness of the keyword set, which makes it easier to set client expectations. It also surfaces relevance of the keywords tracked, where, if the share of voice is going to brands that aren’t your own, it may indicate the keywords you’re targeting are not that relevant to your own audience.

You can also take a look at the Share of Voice: Top 10 Trending to see where competitors are increasing or decreasing their visibility. This can be indicative of changes on the SERPs for that industry, or in the industry as a whole.

Creating a custom connector for GDS 

Reporting is a fundamental part of agency life. Our clients appreciate formalized insights into campaign progression (on top of regular communications throughout the month, of course) and one of our main challenges in growing our agency lies in identifying the best way to display reports.

We’ll be honest here: There was a point where we had started to invest in building our own platform, with all sorts of aspirations of bespoke builds and highly branded experiences that could tie into a plethora of other UX considerations for our clients.

But at the same time, we’re also big believers that there’s no point in trying to reinvent the wheel if an appropriate solution already exists. So, we decided to use Google Data Studio (GDS) as it was released in Beta and moved onto the platform in 2017.

Of course, ranking data — while we’d all like to reserve it for internal insight to drive bigger goals — is always of interest to clients. At the time, the STAT API was publicly available, but there was no way to pull data into GDS.

That’s why we decided to put some of our own time into creating a GDS connector for STAT. Through this connector, we’re able to pull in live data to our GDS reports, which can be easily shared with our clients. It was a relatively straightforward process and, because GDS caches the data for a short amount of time, it doesn’t hammer the STAT API for every request.

Though our clients do have access to STAT (made possible through their granular user permissions), the GDS integration is a simpler way for them to see top-level stats at a glance.

We’re in the process of building pipelines through BigQuery to feed into this and facilitate date specific tracking in GDS too — keep an eye out for more info and get access to the STAT GDS connector here.

Want more? 

Ready to learn how to get cracking and tracking some more? Reach out to our rad team and request a demo to get your very own tailored walkthrough of STAT. 

If you’re attending MozCon this year, you can see the ins and outs of STAT in person — grab your ticket before they’re all gone! 

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

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The Non-Programmer's Guide to Using APIS

This may be of some interest.

Even if you don’t know what an API is, you’ve undoubtedly interacted with one.

Today, we take connectivity between technology largely for granted. For instance, we don’t question when we use OpenTable to make a reservation at a nearby restaurant.

Alternatively, if you use Kayak.com to book flights, you’ve probably never wondered, Wait a minute … how does Kayak know JetBlue has an open seat in 27A?

Ultimately, any time you need applications to communicate with one another, you need an API, or application programming interface.

Here, we’re going to explore what an API is, and why you’d need to use one. Even if you’re not a programmer and don’t need to know extensive technical jargon, you should still understand the basics, since nowadays, integrations between technology are often critical components of anyone’s job.

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit. 

What is an API?

At its most basic definition, an API lets one piece of software talk to another piece of software.

To understand an API in action, let’s consider a real-life example — HubSpot’s integration with Typeform. Typeform, a tool that supplies mobile-ready quizzes, contact forms, and signup forms, needs to integrate with HubSpot’s Forms API to to interact with the forms tool and seamlessly send submissions from Typeform forms into the HubSpot CRM.

To do this, Typeform’s API and HubSpot’s API need to talk. An integration can act as a translator, ensuring each API’s information is correctly translated for the other application — in this case, the integration may ensure that Typeform form fields are correctly mapped to the corresponding HubSpot fields.

Isaac Takushi, a HubSpot Developer Support Specialist, explains — “You can think of APIs and the ‘endpoints’ they comprise as access points for different information. Each API endpoint may only have one specific job. When combined, however, different endpoints can support powerful, multifaceted integrations.”

Kayak.com, for instance, needs some API to communicate with JetBlue’s systems. When you search “Boston to Charlotte” in Kayak, JetBlue’s booking API will essentially receive this request from Kayak, pull up information related to that request, and send it back. However, Kayak will need its own API or code to understand and act on the information the JetBlue API returned.

To use an API, you’ll want to check out the API’s documentation for access requirements. For instance, HubSpot’s Contacts API requires authentication:

Similarly, you’ll need an API key to access Google’s API, Facebook’s API, and Twitter’s API.

Once you have access requirements, you can use a tool like Postman or Runscope to manually interact with an API. These third-party tools, or “REST clients,” allow you to make one-off requests to API endpoints without coding. They’re great for getting a feel for what your backend systems may do automatically. Check out this resource on how to make your very first API request with Postman.

If you’re not quite ready to jump in on the deep end with a REST client, try punching the following into your browser:

//restcountries.eu/rest/v2/name/united

This is a public API endpoint from the free REST Countries service. Specifically, we’re using the “Name” endpoint, which accepts country names as search queries. A successful search will return potential country matches, along with key information about each nation. In this case, we’re searching for countries with names that contain the word “united.”

You should see following block of JSON data returned:

Congratulations! You just made an API request from your browser!

The endpoint returned raw data (formatted in JSON) on countries with “united” in the name.

It may not look pretty, but remember that APIs are designed for applications, which don’t require the styling humans expect on an HTML web page. While you can easily Google “countries that begin with ‘united’,” applications cannot. They might have to rely on services like REST Countries to look up that information.

If you’re unsure whether you should use your in-house developers to create APIs or look externally, check out First vs. Third-Party APIs: What You Need to Know.

Improve your website with effective technical SEO. Start by conducting this  audit.  

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