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How to Get Backlinks in 2020 [Series] – Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by BritneyMuller

Link building is never-ending in SEO, but a little creativity and smart tactics can help you ferret out great link opportunities from their hiding spots. In this episode of Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller kicks off a series on modern link building (including the sage advice: let people choose their own anchor text!)

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we are going to be looking at the easiest ways for you to get backlinks to your website. None of these involve content creation whatsoever.

Really excited to dive into this. It will be part of a larger “Link Building in 2020 Series and Beyond.” So really excited to dive into some of the easiest things that you can do today to enhance your backlink profile. Let’s take a look.

No-brainer link building

☑ Unlinked brand, product, name, etc. mentions

This is simply just going to Google, doing a search for these things within quotes, and looking at the first several pages of results to ensure that all of those results are linking back to your site.

They likely are not, so those will be your opportunities to send a message or an email asking for the webmaster or the writer to provide a link back to your site with your mention. It’s one of the easiest things to do. So is unlinked images. 

☑ Unlinked images

This is a gold mine if you’re working with a website that has a lot of proprietary images or really great graphic design, maybe you have infographics or some things that are special to the brand or the domain. Use Google reverse image search and put in the images that you think might have been taken or used on other websites.

You will immediately see what those websites are and whether or not they link back to your site. So again, very similar to this first one. You’re basically just asking for them to credit the website and link back accordingly. 

☑ Redirect your 404 pages with backlinks

This is completely within your control. No outreach required. In fact, Moz Link Explorer provides this really, really easily within Moz Pro. You basically take a look at all of your pages that have backlinks, and you can filter by status code.

You just change that to 400s, 404s, and you can see all of the pages to your website that currently have backlinks but the page is no longer there. All you want to do with that is just simply 301 redirect that old broken page to a new relevant page, and you’re kind of saving that authority that is being sent to your site.

So, so easy. A lot of people forget about that one. It’s great. 

☑ Keep an eye on recently lost links

The keyword here is “recently.” If you can engage with another website that has recently either by accident or changed things around on purpose on the page, you are more likely to reclaim your lost link.

It’s also just important to really understand why. 

  • Is that website going through a redesign? 
  • Have they gotten rid of pages? 
  • Did a competitor come in and provide a better resource than what you currently had? 

There are all sorts of reasons why you really want to identify what’s going on.

☑ Move backlink targets

This is a new tactic that was recently brought to my attention by the brilliant Sarah Hollenbeck at Siege Media. They have a brilliant team. I highly recommend you checking out this article that’s basically all about moving backlink targets, which has never really occurred to me, where you basically have backlinks to older resources or older content or products that you want restructured to newer or more important pages on your website. 

Sarah goes into great detail about this and can help explain just how you can do this successfully and what that means for your site. So really, really neat. I highly suggest that. 

☑ Sites that list competitors, but not you

Check out sites that list competitors but not you. These might be resource pages or roundups of information of sorts.

You can play around with this in Google as well by providing competitors within quotes and then minus your company or the website you’re working on. 

It really starts to give you an idea of what websites might be great opportunities for a backlink, because you fit within that vein. It makes sense. 

☑  Sites that provide topic/industry + geo information

Similarly sites that provide topic or industry plus geo information, so again finding those resource pages, those roundups. Oftentimes you will see these on lots of .edu sites or even .gov. So you can do some different searches around, if you were Columbia, outdoor clothing in Minnesota.

Play around with this a bit. This could be in the Midwest, in the United States. You can change these words around and really start to identify some higher-quality link prospects. 

☑ Build relationships

Lastly, build relationships. I cannot speak more highly about this.

Just for your own career longevity and what you do in SEO and marketing in general, it is so important to develop genuine, real relationships with individuals that work in the industry, whether that be at other websites or just in the same vein of things.

Not only can you bounce ideas off of these people and really get help with different things, but you get to help support the incredible things that they’re working on. It’s just an all-around, feel-good, help each other out situation. So if you’re not already reaching out and building relationships, I highly suggest you do that.

It’s a lot of fun, and I can’t stress enough there are so, so many good people within our industry it’s incredible. 

☑ BONUS: Let people choose anchor text!

Lastly, we really want to take a modern look at link building practices in 2020 and beyond, and a big part of that goes around things like let people choose the anchor text for your backlink.

Five or 10 years ago it was standard to request very specific anchor text for the keyword you wanted to rank for. It’s not really the case anymore. Especially with the addition of BERT, Google has gotten so much more sophisticated in understanding text and language and websites that it’s really unnecessary and might even cause problems to ask for those specific anchor link texts.

Definitely take a look at this article we’ll link to down below by David Farkas here, who wrote about link building lies. It’s a really great article. We’ll continue to build upon this series to provide you with some fresher information around link building today. I really look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions down below.

Feel free to let us know what you liked about this, what you didn’t like. If you have any great ideas, please let us know down in the comments, and I look forward to seeing you all next time. Thanks so much. See you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


Scoop up more SEO insights at MozCon Virtual this July

Don’t miss exclusive data, tips, workflows, and advice from Britney and our other fantastic speakers at this year’s MozCon Virtual! Chock full of the SEO industry’s top thought leadership, for the first time ever MozCon will be completely remote-friendly. It’s like 20+ of your favorite Whiteboard Fridays on vitamins and doubled in size, plus interactive Q&A, virtual networking, and full access to the video bundle:

Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

We can’t wait to see you there!

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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Risk-Averse Link Building – Best of Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by rjonesx.

Building links is an incredibly common request of agencies and consultants, and some ways to go about it are far more advisable than others. Whether you’re likely to be asked for this work or you’re looking to hire someone for it, it’s a good idea to have a few rules of thumb. In this classic Whiteboard Friday chock full of evergreen advice, Russ Jones breaks things down.

Risk Averse Links

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Video Transcription

Hey, folks, welcome to another great Whiteboard Friday. I am Russ Jones, Principal Search Scientist here at Moz. I get to do a lot of great research, but I’ll tell you, my first love in SEO is link building. The 10 years I spent before joining Moz, I worked at an agency and we did a lot of it, and I’ll tell you, there’s nothing more exciting than getting that great link.

Now, today I’m going to focus a little bit more on the agency and consultant side. But one takeaway before we get started, for anybody out there who’s using agencies or who’s looking to use a consultant for link building, is kind of flip this whole presentation on its head. When I’m giving advice to agencies, you should use that as rules of thumb for judging whether or not you want to use an agency in the future. So let me jump right in and we’ll get going.

What I’m going to talk about today is risk-averse link building. So the vast majority of agencies out there really want to provide good links for their customers, but they just don’t know how. Let’s admit it. The majority of SEO agencies and consultants don’t do their own link building, or if they do, it’s either guest posting or maybe known placements in popular magazines or online websites where you can get links. There’s like a list that will go around of how much it costs to get an article on, well, Forbes doesn’t even count anymore because they’ve no-followed their links, but that’s about it. It’s nothing special.

So today I want to talk through how you can actually build really good links for your customers and what really the framework is that you need to be looking into to make sure you’re risk averse so that your customers can come out of this picture with a stronger link profile and without actually adopting much risk.

1. Never build a link you can’t remove!

So we’re going to touch on a couple of maxims or truisms. The first one is never build a link you can’t remove. I didn’t come upon this one until after Penguin, but it just occurred to me it is such a nightmare to get rid of links. Even with disavow, often it feels better that you can just get the link pulled from the web. Now, with negative SEO as being potentially an issue, admittedly Google is trying to devalue links as opposed to penalize, but still the rule holds strong. Never build a link that you can’t remove.

But how do you do that? I mean you don’t have necessarily control over it. Well, first off, there’s a difference between earnings links and building links. So if you get a link out there that you didn’t do anything for, you just got it because you wrote great content, don’t worry about it. But if you’re actually going to actively link build, you need to follow this rule, and there are actually some interesting ways that we can go about it.

Canonical “burn” pages

The first one is the methodology that I call canonical burn pages. I’m sure that sounds a little dark. But it actually is essentially just an insurance policy on your links. The idea is don’t put all of your content value and link value into the same bucket. It works like this. Let’s say this article or this Whiteboard Friday goes up at the URL risk-averse-links and Moz decided to do some outreach-based link building. Well, then I might make another version, risk-averse-linkbuilding, and then in my out linking actually request that people link to that version of the page. That page will be identical, and it will have a canonical tag so that all of the link value should pass back to the original.

Now, I’m not asking you to build a thousand doorway pages or anything of that sort, but here’s the reason for the separation. Let’s say you reach out to one of these webmasters and they’re like, “This is great,” and they throw it up on a blog post, and what they don’t tell you is, “Oh yeah, I’ve got 100 other blogs in my link farm, and I’m just going to syndicate this out.” Now you’ve got a ton of link spam pointing to the page. Well, you don’t want that pointing to your site. The chances this guy is going to go remove his link from those hundreds if not thousands of pages are very low. Well, the worst case scenario here is that you’ve lost this page, the link page, and you drop it and you create a new one of these burn pages and keep going.

Or what if the opposite happens? When you actually start ranking because of this great content that you’ve produced and you’ve done great link building and somebody gets upset and decides to spam the page that’s ranking with a ton of links, we saw this all the time in the legal sector, which was shocking to me. You would think you would never spam a lawyer, but apparently lawyers aren’t afraid of another lawyer.

But regardless, what we could do in those situations is simply get rid of the original page and leave the canonical page that has all the links. So what you’ve done is sort of divided your eggs into different baskets without actually losing the ranking potential. So we call these canonical burn pages. If you have questions about this, I can talk more about it in the comments.

Know thy link provider

The other thing that’s just stupidly obvious is you should know thy link provider. If you are getting your links from a website that says pay $50 for so and so package and you’ll get x-links from these sources on Tier 2, you’re never going to be able to remove those links once you get them unless you’re using something like a canonical burn page. But in those cases where you’re trying to get good links, actually build a relationship where the person understands that you might need to remove this link in the future. It’s going to mean you lose some links, but in the long run, it’s going to protect you and your customers.

That’s where the selling point becomes really strong. Imagine you’re on a client call, sales call and someone comes to you and they say they want link building. They’ve been burned before. They know what it’s like to get a penalty. They know what it’s like to have somebody tell them, “I just don’t know how to do it.”

Well, what if you can tell them, hey, we can link build for you and we are so confident in the quality of our offering that we can promise you, guarantee that we can remove the links we build for you within 7 days, 14 days, whatever number it ends up taking your team to actually do? That kind of insurance policy that you just put on top of your product is priceless to a customer who’s worried about the potential harm that links might bring.

2. You can’t trade anything for a link (except user value)!

Now this leads me to number two. This is the simplest way to describe following Google’s guidelines, which is you can’t trade anything for a link except user value. Now, I’m going to admit something here. A lot of folks who are watching this who know me know this, but my old company years and years and years ago did a lot of link buying. At the time, I justified it because I frankly thought that was the only way to do it. We had a fantastic link builder who worked for us, and he wanted to move up in the company. We just didn’t have the space for him. We said to him, “Look, it’s probably better for you to just go on your own.”

Within a year of leaving, he had made over a million dollars selling a site that he ranked only using white hat link building tactics because he was a master of outreach. From that day on, just everything changed. You don’t have to cheat to get good links. It’s just true. You have to work, but you don’t have to cheat. So just do it already. There are tons of ways to justify outreach to a website to say it’s worth getting a link.

So, for example, you could

  • Build some tools and reach out to websites that might want to link to those tools.
  • You can offer data or images.
  • Accessibility. Find great content out there that’s inaccessible or isn’t useful for individuals who might need screen readers. Just recreate the content and follow the guidelines for accessibility and reach out to everybody who links to that site. Now you’ve got a reason to say, “Look, it’s a great web page, but unfortunately a certain percentage of the population can’t use it. Why don’t you offer, as well as the existing link, one to your accessible version?”
  • Broken link replacement.
  • Skyscraper content, which is where you just create fantastic content. Brian Dean over at Backlinko has a fantastic guide to that.

There are just so many ways to get good links.

Let me put it just a different way. You should be embarrassed if you cannot create content that is worth outreach. In fact, that word “embarrassment,” if you are embarrassed to email someone about your content, then it means you haven’t created good enough content. As an SEO, that’s your responsibility. So just sit down and spend some more time thinking about this. You can do it. I’ve seen it happen thousands of times, and you can end up building much better links than you ever would otherwise.

3. Tool up!

The last thing I would say is tool up. Look, better metrics and better workflows come from tools. There are lots of different ways to do this.

First off, you need a good backlink tool. Our new Link Explorer is 29 trillion links strong and it’s fantastic. There’s also Fresh Web Explorer for doing mentions. So you can find websites that talk about you but don’t link. You’re also going to want some tools that might do more specific link prospecting, like LinkProspector.com or Ontolo or BrokenLinkBuilding.com, and then some outreach tools like Pitchbox and BuzzStream.

But once you figure out those stacks, your link building stack, you’re going to be able to produce links reliably for customers. I’m going to tell you, there is nothing that will improve your street cred and your brand reputation than link building. Link building is street cred in our industry. There is nothing more powerful than saying, “Yeah, we built a couple thousand links last year for our customers,” and you don’t have to say, “Oh, we bought,” or, “We outsourced.” It’s just, “We just do link building, and we’re good at it.”

So I guess my takeaway from all of this is that it’s really not as terrible as you think it is. At the end of the day, if you can master this process of link building, your agency will be going from a dime a dozen, where there are 100 in an averaged-sized city in the United States, to being a leading provider in the country just by simply mastering link building. If you follow the first two rules and properly tool up, you’re well on your way.

So I hope to talk more to you in the comments below. If you have any questions, I can refer you to some other guides out there, including some former Whiteboard Fridays that will give you some great link building tips. Hope to talk to you soon.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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!

Thank you for reading.

The SEO Elevator Pitch – Best of Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by KameronJenkins

This week, we’re revisiting an important topic for SEOs everywhere: how to show your value. In the wake of everything that’s happened recently with COVID-19, being able to describe your worth to potential clients or stakeholders is an integral skill. In this favorite episode of Whiteboard Friday, Kameron Jenkins shares how to effectively and succinctly build an SEO elevator pitch that highlights the value you bring to a business and three warnings on what not to do.

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Video Transcription

Hey guys, welcome to this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Kameron Jenkins. Today we’re going to be talking about creating an SEO elevator pitch, what is it, why we need one, and what kind of prompted this whole idea for an SEO elevator pitch.

So essentially, I was on Twitter and I saw John Mueller. He tweeted, “Hey, I meet with a lot of developers, and a lot of times they don’t really know what SEOs do.” He was genuinely asking. He was asking, “Hey, SEO community, how do you describe what you do?” I’m scrolling through, and I’m seeing a lot of different answers, and all of them I’m resonating with.

They’re all things that I would probably say myself. But it’s just interesting how many different answers there were to the question, “What do SEOs do and what value do they provide?” So I kind of thought to myself, “Why is that? Why do we have so many different explanations for what SEO is and what we do?” So I thought about it, and I thought that it might be a good idea for myself and maybe other SEOs if you don’t already have an elevator pitch ready.

What is an SEO elevator pitch?

Now, if you’re not familiar with the concept of an elevator pitch, it’s basically — I have a definition here — a succinct and persuasive speech that communicates your unique value as an SEO. It’s called an elevator pitch essentially because it should take about the length of time it takes to ride the elevator with someone. So you want to be able to quickly and concisely answer someone’s question when they ask you, “Oh, SEO, what is that?I think I’ve heard of that before. What do you do?”

Why is this so hard?

So let’s dive right in. So I mentioned, in the beginning, how there are so many different answers to this “what do you say you do here” type question. I think it’s hard to kind of come up with a concise explanation for a few different reasons. So I wanted to dive into that a little bit first.

1. Lots of specialties within SEO

So number one, there are lots of specialties within SEO.

As the industry has advanced over the last two plus decades, it has become very diverse, and there are lots of different facets in SEO. I found myself on quite a rabbit trail. I was on LinkedIn and I was kind of browsing SEO job descriptions. I wanted to see basically: What is it that people are looking for in an SEO?

How do they describe it? What are the characteristics? So basically, I found a lot of different things, but I found a few themes that emerged. So there are your content-focused SEOs, and those are people that are your keyword research aficionados. There are the people that write search engine optimized content to drive traffic to your website. You have your link builders, people that focus almost exclusively on that.

You have your local SEOs, and you have your analysts. You have your tech SEOs, people that either work on a dev team or closely with a dev team. So I think that’s okay though. There are lots of different facets within SEO, and I think that’s awesome. That’s, to me, a sign of maturity in our industry. So when there are a lot of different specialties within SEO, I think it’s right and good for all of our elevator pitches to differ.

So if you have a specialty within SEO, it can be different. It should kind of cater toward the unique brand of SEO that you do, and that’s okay.

2. Different audiences

Number two, there are different audiences. We’re not always going to be talking to the same kind of person. So maybe you’re talking to your boss or a client. To me, those are more revenue-focused conversations.

They want to know: What’s the value of what you do? How does it affect my bottom line? How does it help me run my business and stay afloat and stay profitable? If you’re talking to a developer, that’s going to be a slightly different conversation. So I think it’s okay if we kind of tweak our elevator pitch to make it a little bit more palatable for the people that we’re talking to.

3. Algorithm maturity

Three, why this is hard is there’s been, obviously, a lot of changes all the time in the algorithm, and as it matures, it’s going to look like the SEO’s job is completely different than last year just because the algorithm keeps maturing and it looks like our jobs are changing all the time. So I think that’s a reality that we have to live with, but I still think it’s important, even though things are changing all the time, to have a baseline kind of pitch that we give people when they ask us what it is we do.

So that’s why it’s hard. That’s what your elevator pitch is.

My elevator pitch: SEO is marketing, with search engines

Then, by way of example, I thought I’d just give you my SEO elevator pitch. Maybe it will spark your creativity. Maybe it will give you some ideas. Maybe you already have one, and that’s okay. But the point is not to use mine.

The point is essentially to kind of take you through what mine looks like, hopefully get your creative juices flowing, and you can create your own. So let’s dive right into my pitch.

So my pitch is SEO is marketing, just with search engines. So we have the funnel here — awareness, consideration, and decision.

Awareness: Rank and attract clicks for informational queries.

First of all, I think it’s important to note that SEO can help you rank and attract clicks for informational queries.

Consideration: Rank and attract clicks for evaluation queries.

So when your audience is searching for information, they want to solve their pain points, they’re not ready to buy, they’re just searching, we’re meeting them there with content that brings them to the site, informs them, and now they’re familiar with our brand. Those are great assisted conversions. Rank and attract clicks for evaluation queries. When your audience is starting to compare their options, you want to be there. You want to meet them there, and we can do that with SEO.

Decision: Rank, attract clicks, and promote conversion for bottom-funnel queries

At the decision phase, you can rank and attract clicks and kind of promote conversions for bottom of funnel queries. When people are in their “I want to buy” stage, SEO can meet them there. So I think it’s important to realize that SEO isn’t kind of like a cost center and not a profit center. It’s not like a bottom of funnel thing. I’ve heard that in a lot of places, and I think it’s just important to kind of draw attention to the fact that SEO is integrated throughout your marketing funnel. It’s not relegated to one stage or another.

But how?

We talked about rank and attract clicks and promote conversions. But how do we do that? That’s the what it does.

But how do we do it? So this is how I explain it. I think really, for me, there are two sides to the SEO’s coin. We have driving, and we have supporting.

1. Driving

So on the driving side, I would say something like this. When someone searches a phrase or a keyword in Google, I make sure the business’ website shows up in the non-ad results. That’s important because a lot of people are like, “Oh, do you bid on keywords?”

We’re like, “No, no, that’s PPC.” So I always just throw in “non-ad” because people understand that. So I do that through content that answers people’s questions, links that help search engines find my content and show signs of authority and popularity of my content, and accessibility. So that’s kind of your technical foundation.

You’re making sure that your website is crawlable and it that it’s index the way that you want it to be indexed. When people get there, it works. It works on mobile and on desktop. It’s fast. So I think these are really the three big pillars of driving SEO — content, links, and making sure your website is technically sound. So that’s how I describe the driving, the proactive side of SEO.

2. Supporting

Then two, we have supporting, and I think this is kind of an underrated or maybe it’s often seen as kind of an interruption to our jobs.

But I think it’s important to actually call it what it is. It’s a big part of what we do. So I think we should embrace it as SEOs.

A. Be the Google Magic 8-ball

For one, we can serve as the Google Magic 8-Ball. When people come to us in our organization and they say, “Hey, I’m going to make this change, or I’m thinking about making this change.Is this going to be good or bad for SEO?”

I think it’s great that people are asking that question. Always be available and always make yourself ready to answer those types of questions for people. So I think on the reactionary side we can be that kind of person that helps guide people and understand what is going to affect your organic search presence.

B. Assist marketing

Two, we can assist marketing. So on this side of the coin, we’re driving.

We can drive our own marketing strategies. As SEOs, we can see how SEO can drive all phases of the funnel. But I think it’s important to note that we’re not the only people in our organization. Often SEOs maybe they don’t even live in the marketing department. Maybe they do and they report to a marketing lead. There are other initiatives that your marketing lead could be investigating.

Maybe they say, “Hey, we’ve just done some market research, and here’s this plan.” It could be our job as SEOs to take that plan, take that strategy and translate it into something digital. I think that’s a really important value that SEOs can add. We can actually assist marketing as well as drive our own efforts.

C. Fix mistakes

Then number three here, I know this is another one that kind of makes people cringe, but we are here to fix mistakes when they happen and train people so that they don’t happen again. So maybe we come in on a Monday morning and we’re ready to face the week, and we see that traffic has taken a nosedive or something. We go, “Oh, no,” and we dive in.

We try to see what happened. But I think that’s really important. It’s our job or it’s part of our job to kind of dive in, diagnose what happened, and not only that but support and be there to help fix it or guide the fixes, and then train and educate and make sure that people know what it is that happened and how it shouldn’t happen again.

You’re there to help train them and guide them. I think that’s another really important way that we can support as SEOs. So that’s essentially how I describe it.

3 tips for coming up with your own pitch

Before I go, I just wanted to mention some tips when you’re coming up with your own SEO elevator pitch. I think it’s really important to just kind of stay away from certain language when you’re crafting your own “this is what I do” speech.

So the three tips I have are:

1. Stay away from jargon.

If you’re giving an SEO elevator pitch, it’s to people that don’t know what SEO is. So try to avoid jargon. I know it’s really easy as SEOs. I find myself doing it all the time. There are things that I don’t think are jargon.

But then I take a couple steps back and I realize, oh yeah, that’s not layman’s terms. So stay away from jargon if at all possible. You’re not going to benefit anyone by confusing them.

2. Avoid policing.

It can be easy as SEOs I’ve found and I’ve found myself in this trap a couple of times where we kind of act as these traffic cops that are waiting around the corner, and when people make a mistake, we’re there to wag our finger at them.

So avoid any language that makes it sound like the SEOs are just the police waiting to kind of punish people for wrongdoing. We are there to help fix mistakes, but it’s in a guiding and educating and supporting, kind of collaborative manner and not like a policing type of manner. Number three, I would say is kind of similar, but a little different.

3. Avoid Supermanning.

I call this Supermanning because it’s the type of language that makes it sound like SEOs are here to swoop in and save the day when something goes wrong. We do. We’re superheroes a lot of times. There are things that happen and thank goodness there was an SEO there to help diagnose and fix that.

But I would avoid any kind of pitch that makes it sound like your entire job is just to kind of save people. There are other people in your organization that are super smart and talented at what they do. They probably wouldn’t like it if you made it sound like you were there to help them all the time. So I just think that’s important to keep in mind. Don’t make it seem like you’re the police waiting to wag your finger at them or you’re the superhero that needs to save everyone from their mistakes.

So yeah, that’s my SEO elevator pitch. That’s why I think it’s important to have one. If you’ve kind of crafted your own SEO elevator pitch, I would love to hear it, and I’m sure it would be great for other SEOs to hear it as well. It’s great to information share. So drop that in the comments if you feel comfortable doing that. If you don’t have one, hopefully this helps. So yeah, that’s it for this week’s Whiteboard Friday, and come back again next week for another one.

Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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!

Thank you for reading.

Getting Smarter with SERPs – Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by rjonesx.

Modern SERPs require modern understanding. National SERPs are a myth — these days, everything is local. And when we’re basing important decisions on SERPs and ranking, using the highest quality data is key. Russ Jones explores the problem with SERPs, data quality, and existing solutions in this edition of Whiteboard Friday.

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Video Transcription

Hey, folks, this is Russ Jones here again with another exciting edition of Whiteboard Friday. Exciting might be an exaggeration, but it really is important to me because today we’re going to talk about data quality. I know I harp on this a whole lot.

It’s just, as a data scientist, quality is really important to me. Here at Moz, we’ve made it a priority of the last several years, from improving the quality of our Domain Authority score, improving Spam Score, completely changing the way we identify the search volume in particular keywords. Quality is just part of our culture here.

Today I want to talk about a quality issue and probably the most important metric in search engine optimization, which are search rankings. Now I know there’s this contingent of SEOs who say you shouldn’t look at your search rankings. You should just focus on building better content and doing better outreach and just let it happen.

But for the vast majority of us, we look at our rankings for the purposes of determining how we’re performing, and we make decisions based on those rankings. If a site stops performing as well for a very important keyword, well, then we might spend some money to improve the content on that page or to do more outreach for it.

We make important decisions, budgetary decisions on what the SERPs say. But we’ve known for a while that there’s a pretty big problem with the SERPs, and that’s personalization. There just is no national search anymore, and there hasn’t been for a long time. We’ve known this, and we’ve tried different ways to fix it.

Today I want to talk about a way that Moz is going about this that I think is really exceptional and is frankly going to revolutionize the way in which all SERPs are collected in the future. 

What’s wrong with SERPs?

1. Geography is king

Let’s just take a step back and talk a little bit about what’s wrong with SERPs. Several years back I was a consultant and I was helping out a nonprofit organization that wanted to rank for the keyword “entrepreneurship.”

They offered grants and training and all sorts of stuff. They really deserved to rank for the term. Then one day I searched for the term, as SEOs do. Even though they rank track, they still check it themselves. I noticed that several local universities to where I live, the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill and Duke, had popped up into the search results because they were now offering entrepreneurship programs and Google had geolocated me to the Durham area.

Well, this wasn’t represented at all in the rank tracking that we were doing. You see, the nationalized search at that time was not picking up any kind of local signals because there weren’t any colleges or universities around the data center which we were using to collect the search results.

That was a big problem because that one day Google rolled out some sort of update that improved geolocation and ultimately ended up taking a lot of traffic away for that primary keyword because local sites were starting to rank all across the country. So as SEOs we decided to fight back, and the strategy we used was what I call centroid search.

2. Centroid search sucks

The idea is pretty simple. You take a town, a city, a state, or even a country. You find the latitude and longitude of the dead center of that location, and then you feed that to Google in the UULE parameter so that you get a search result from what would happen if you were standing right there in that specific latitude and longitude and perform the search.

Well, we know that that’s not really a good idea. The reason is pretty clear. Let me give an example. This would be a local example for a business that’s trying to perform well inside of a small city, a medium town or so. This is actually, despite the fact that it’s drawn poorly, the locations of several Italian restaurants in South Bend, Indiana.

So as you can see, each little red one identifies a different Italian restaurant, and the centroid of the city is right here, this little green star. Well, there’s a problem. If you were to collect a SERP this way, you would be influenced dramatically by this handful of Italian restaurants right there in the center of the city.

But the problem with that is that these blue circles that I’ve drawn actually represent areas of increased population density. You see most cities, they have a populous downtown, but they also have around the outside suburban areas which are just as population dense or close to as population dense.

At the same time, they don’t get represented because they’re not in the middle of the city. So what do we do? How do we get a better representation of what the average person in that city would see? 

3. Sampled search succeeds

Well, the answer is what we call sampled search. There are lots of ways to go about it.

Right now, the way we’re doing it in particular is looking at the centroids of clusters of zip codes that are overlapping inside a particular city. 

As an example, although not exactly what would happen inside of Local Market Analytics, each one of these purple stars would represent different latitudes and longitudes that we would select in order to grab a search engine result and then blend them together in a way based on things like population density or proximity issues, and give us back a result that is much more like the average searcher would see than what the one person standing in the center part of the city would see.

We know that this works better because it correlates more with local search traffic than does the centroid search. Of course, there are other ways we could go about this. For example, instead of using geography, we could use population density specifically, and we can do a lot better job in identifying exactly what the average searcher would see.

But this just isn’t a local problem. It isn’t just for companies that are in cities. It’s for any website that wants to rank anywhere in the United States, including those that just want to rank generically across the entire country. You see, right now, the way that national SERPs tend to be collected is by adding a UULE of the dead center of the United States of America.

Now I think pretty much everybody here can understand why that’s a very poor representation of what the average person in the United States would see. But if we must get into it, as you can imagine, the center part of the United States is not population-dense.

We find population areas throughout the coastlines for the most part that have a lot more people in them. It would make a lot better sense to sample search results from all sorts of different locations, both rural and urban, in order to identify what the average person in the United States would see.



Centroid search delivers you a myopic view of this very specific area. Whereas sampled search can give you this blended model that is much more like what the average American or in any country or county or city or even neighborhood would see. So I actually think that this is the model that SERPs in general will be moving to in the future, at least SERP collection.

The future of SERPs

If we continue to rely on this centroid method, we’re going to continue to deliver results to our customers that just aren’t accurate and simply aren’t valuable. But by using the sampled model, we’ll be able to deliver our customers a much more quality experience, a SERP that is blended in a way that it represents the traffic that they’re actually going to get, and in doing so, we’ll finally solve, to at least a certain degree, this problem of personalization.

Now I look forward to Moz implementing this across the board. Right now you can get in Local Market Analytics. I hope that other organizations follow suit, because this kind of quality improvement in SERP collection is the type of quality that is demanded of an industry that is using technology to improve businesses’ performance. Without quality, we might as well not be doing it at all.

Thanks for hearing me out. I’d like to hear what you have to say in the comments, and in the SERPs as well, and hopefully we’ll be able to talk through some more ideas on quality. Looking forward to it. Thanks again.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Mining Reddit for Content Ideas in 5 Steps – Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by DanielRussell

For marketers, Reddit is more than a tool to while away your lunch break. It’s a huge, thriving forum with subreddits devoted to almost any topic you can imagine — and exciting new content ideas lurk within threads, just waiting to be discovered. In this edition of Whiteboard Friday, Daniel Russell takes you through five simple steps to mine Reddit for content ideas bolstered by your target audience’s interest.

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Daniel Russell. I’m from an agency called Go Fish Digital. Today we’re going to be talking about mining Reddit for content ideas.

Reddit, you’ve probably heard of it, but in case you haven’t, it’s one of the largest websites on the internet. It gets billions of views and clicks per year. People go there because it is a great source of content. It’s really entertaining. But it also means that it’s a great source of content for us as marketers. So today what we’re going to be talking about is two main groups here.

We’re going to first be talking about the features of Reddit, the different things that you can use on Reddit to find good content ideas. Then we’re going to be talking about five steps that you can take and apply today to start finding ideas for your company, for your clients and start getting that successful content. 

Features of Reddit

So first, Reddit as a breakdown here.

Subreddits

First, a big feature of Reddit is called subreddits. They’re essentially smaller forums within Reddit, a smaller forum within a forum dedicated to a particular topic. So there might be a forum dedicated to movies and discussing movies. There’s a forum dedicated to food and talking about different types of food, posting pictures of food, posting recipes.

There is a forum for just about everything under the sun. If you can think of it, it’s probably got a forum on Reddit. This is really valuable to us as marketers because it means that people are taking their interests and then putting it out there for us to see. So if we are trying to do work for a sports company or if we’re trying to do work for our company that’s dentistry or something like that, there is a subreddit dedicated to that topic, and we can go and find people that are interested in that, that are probably within our target markets.

Upvoting and downvoting

There’s upvoting and downvoting. Essentially what this is, is people post a piece of content to Reddit, and then other users decide if they like it or not. They upvote it or they downvote it. The stuff that is upvoted is usually the good stuff. People that are paying really close attention to Reddit are always upvoting and downvoting things. Then the things that get the most upvotes start rising to the top so that other people can see it.

It’s super valuable to us again because this helps verify ideas for us. This helps us see what’s working and what’s not. Before we even put pen to paper, before we even start designing everything, we can see what has been the most upvoted. The most upvoted stuff leads to the next big feature, which is rankings. The stuff that gets voted the most ends up ranking on the top of Reddit and becomes more visible.

It becomes easier for us to find as marketers, and luckily we can take a look at those rankings and see if any of that matches the content we’re trying to create. 

Comments

There’s the comments section. Essentially what this is, is for every post there’s a section dedicated to that post for comments, where people can comment on the post. They can comment on comments. It’s almost like a focus group.

It’s like a focus group without actually being there in person. You can see what people like, what people don’t like about the content, how they felt about it. Maybe they even have some content ideas of their own that they’re sharing in there. It’s an incredibly valuable place to be. We can take these different features and start digging in to find content ideas using these down here.

Reddit search & filters

Search bar

The search bar is a Reddit feature that works fairly well. It will probably yield mediocre results most of the time. But you can drill down a little further with that search bar using search parameters. These parameters are things like searching by author, searching by website.

Search parameters

There are a lot of different searches that you can use. There’s a full list of them on Reddit. But this essentially allows you to take that mediocre search bar and make it a little bit more powerful. If you want to look for sports content, you can look specifically at content posted from ESPN.com and see what has been the most upvoted there. 

Restrict results to subreddit

You can restrict your results to a particular subreddit. So if you’re trying to look for content around chicken dishes, you’re doing work for a restaurant and you’re trying to find what’s been the most upvoted content around chicken, you don’t want people calling each other chickens. So what you can do is restrict your search to a subreddit so that you actually get chicken the food rather than posts talking about that guy is a chicken.

Filter results

You can filter results. This essentially means that you can take all the results that you get from your search and then you can recategorize it based off of how many upvotes it’s gotten, how recently it was posted, how many comments it has. 

Filter subreddits

Then you can also filter subreddits themselves. So you can take subreddits, all the content that’s been posted there, and you can look at what’s been the most upvoted content for that subreddit.

What has been the most controversial content from that subreddit? What’s been the most upvoted? What’s been the most downvoted? These features make it a really user-friendly place in terms of finding really entertaining stuff. That’s why Reddit is often like a black hole of productivity. You can get lost down it and stay there for hours.

That works in our benefit as marketers. That means that we can go through, take these different features, apply them to our own marketing needs, and find those really good content ideas. 

5 steps to finding content ideas on Reddit

So for some examples here. There’s a set of key steps that you can use. I’m going to use some real-world examples, so some true-blue things that we’ve done for clients so that you can see how this actually works in real life.

1. Do a general search for your topic

The first step is to do a general search for your topic. So real-world example, we have a client that is in the transportation space. They work with shuttles, with limos, and with taxis. We wanted to create some content around limos. So the way we started in these key steps is we did a general search for limos.

Our search yielded some interesting things. We saw that a lot of people were posting pictures of stretch limos, of just wild limo interiors. But then we also saw a lot of people talking about presidential limos, the limos that the president rides in that have the bulletproof glass and everything. So we started noticing that, hey, there’s some good content here about limos. It kind of helped frame our brainstorming and our content mining. 

2. Find a subreddit that fits

The next step is to find a subreddit that fits that particular topic. Now there is a subreddit dedicated to limos. It’s not the most active. There wasn’t a ton of content there. So what we ended up doing was looking at more broad subreddits. We looked at like the cars subreddit.

There was a subreddit dedicated to guides and to breakdowns of different machines. So there were a lot of breakdowns, like cutaways of the presidential limos. So again, that was coming up. What we saw in the general search was coming up in our subreddit specific search. We were seeing presidential limos again.

3. Look at subreddit content from the past month

Step 3, look at that sub’s particular content from the past month. The subreddit, for example, that we were looking at was one dedicated to automobiles, as I had mentioned earlier. We looked at the top content from that past month, and we saw there was this really cool GIF that essentially took the Chevy logo back from like the ’30s and slowly morphed it over the years into the Chevy logo that we saw today.

We thought that was pretty cool. We started wondering if maybe we could apply that same kind of idea to our presidential limo finding that we were seeing earlier. 

4. Identify trends, patterns, and sticky ideas

Number 4 was to identify trends, patterns, and sticky ideas. Sticky ideas, it just means if you come across something and it just kind of sticks in your head, like it just kind of stays there, likely that will happen for your audience as well.

So if you come across anything that you find really interesting, that keeps sticking in your head or keeps popping up on Reddit, it keeps getting lots of upvotes, identify that idea because it’s going to be valuable. So for us, we started identifying ideas like morphing GIFs, the Chevy logo morphing over time. We started identifying ideas like presidential limos. People really like talking about it.

5. Polish, improve, and up-level the ideas you’ve found

That led us to use Step Number 5, which is to take those ideas that we were finding, polish them, improve them, one up it, take it to the next level, and then create some content around that and promote it. So what we did was we took those two ideas, we took presidential limos and the whole morphing GIF idea over time, and we combined them.



We found images of all of the presidential limos since like the ’50s. Then we took each of those presidential limos and we created a morphing GIF out of them, so that you started with the old presidential limos, which really weren’t really secure. They were convertibles. They were normal cars. Then that slowly morphed up to the massive tanks that we have today. It was a huge success.

It was just a GIF. But that idea had been validated because we were looking at what was the most upvoted, what was the most downvoted, what was ranked, what wasn’t ranked, and we saw some ideas that we could take, one up, and polish. So we created this morphing presidential limo, and it did really well.

It got coverage in a lot of major news networks. ABC News picked it up. CBS talked about it. It even got posted to Reddit later and performed really well on Reddit. It was all because we were able to take these features, mine down, drill down, find those good content ideas, and then polish it and make it our own. 

I’m really interested to hear if you’ve tried this before. Maybe you’ve seen some really good ideas that you’d like to try out on Reddit.

Do you have like a favorite search function that you use on Reddit? Do you like to filter by the past year? Do you like a particular subreddit? Let me know down in the comments. Good luck mining ideas. I know it will work for you. Have a great day.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Intro to Python – Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by BritneyMuller

Python is a programming language that can help you uncover incredible SEO insights and save you time by automating time-consuming tasks. But for those who haven’t explored this side of search, it can be intimidating. In this episode of Whiteboard Friday, Britney Muller and a true python expert named Pumpkin offer an intro into a helpful tool that’s worth your time to learn.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Today we’re talking all about introduction to Python, which is why I have a special co-host here. She is a ball python herself, total expert. Her name is Pumpkin, and she’s the best. 

What is Python?

So what is Python? This has been in the industry a lot lately. There’s a lot of commotion that you should know how to use it or know how to talk about it. Python is an open source, object-oriented programming language that was created in 1991.

Simpler to use than R

Some fun facts about Python is it’s often compared to R, but it’s arguably more simple to use. The syntax just oftentimes feels more simple and common-sense, like when you’re new to programming. 

Big companies use it

Huge companies use it. NASA, Google, tons of companies out there use it because it’s widely supported.

It’s open source

It is open source. So pretty cool. While we’re going through this Whiteboard Friday, I would love it if we would do a little Python programming today. So I’m just going to ask that you also visit this in another tab, python.org/downloads. Download the version for your computer and we’ll get back to that. 

Why does Python matter?

So why should you care? 

Automates time-consuming tasks

Python is incredibly powerful because it helps you automate time-consuming tasks. It can do these things at scale so that you can free up your time to work on higher-level thinking, to work on more strategy. It’s really, really exciting where these things are going. 

Log file analysis

Some examples of that are things like log file analysis. Imagine if you could just set up an automated system with Python to alert you any time one of your primary pages wasn’t being crawled as frequently as it typically is. You can do all sorts of things. Let’s say Google crawls your robots.txt and it throws out a server error, which many of you know causes huge problems. It can alert you. You can set up scripts like that to do really comprehensive tasks. 

Internal link analysis

Some other examples, internal link analysis, it can do a really great job of that. 

Discover keyword opportunities

It can help you discover keyword opportunities by looking at bulk keyword data and identifying some really important indicators. 

Image optimization

It’s really great for things like image optimization. It can auto tag and alt text images. It can do really powerful things there. 

Scrape websites

It can also scrape the websites that you’re working with to do really high volume tasks. 

Google Search Console data analysis

It can also pull Google Search Console data and do analysis on those types of things.

I do have a list of all of the individuals within SEO who are currently doing really, really powerful things with Python. I highly suggest you check out some of Hamlet Batista’s recent scripts where he’s using Python to do all sorts of really cool SEO tasks. 

How do you run Python?

What does this even look like? So you’ve hopefully downloaded Python as a programming language on your computer. But now you need to run it somewhere. Where does that live? 

Set up a virtual environment using Terminal

So first you should be setting up a virtual environment. But for the purpose of these examples, I’m just going to ask that you pull up your terminal application.

It looks like this. You could also be running Python within something like Jupyter Notebook or Google Colab. But just pull up your terminal and let’s check and make sure that you’ve downloaded Python properly. 

Check to make sure you’ve downloaded Python properly

So the first thing that you do is you open up the terminal and just type in “python –version.” You should see a readout of the version that you downloaded for your computer. That’s awesome. 

Activate Python and perform basic tasks

So now we’re just going to activate Python and do some really basic tasks. So just type in “python” and hit Enter. You should hopefully see these three arrow things within your terminal. From here, you can do something like print (“Hello, World!”). So you enter it exactly like you see it here, hit Enter, and it will say “Hello, World!” which is pretty cool.



You can also do fun things like just basic math. You can add two numbers together using something like this. So these are individual lines. After you complete the print (sum), you’ll see the readout of the sum of those two numbers. You can randomly generate numbers. I realize these aren’t direct SEO applications, but these are the silly things that give you confidence to run programs like what Hamlet talks about.

Have fun — try creating a random number generator

So I highly suggest you just have fun, create a little random number generator, which is really cool. Mine is pulling random numbers from 0 to 100. You can do 0 to 10 or whatever you’d like. A fun fact, after you hit Enter and you see that random number, if you want to continue, using your up arrow will pull up the last command within your terminal.

It even goes back to these other ones. So that’s a really quick way to rerun something like a random number generator. You can just crank out a bunch of them if you want for some reason. 

Automating different tasks

This is where you can start to get into really cool scripts as well for pulling URLs using Requests HTML. Then you can pull unique information from web pages.

You can pull at bulk tens of thousands of title tags within a URL list. You can pull things like H1s, canonicals, all sorts of things, and this makes it incredibly easy to do it at scale. One of my favorite ways to pull things from URLs is using xpath within Python.

This is a lot easier than it looks. So this might be an xpath for some websites, but websites are marked up differently. So when you’re trying to pull something from a particular site, you can right-click into Chrome Developer Tools. Within Chrome Developer Tools, you can right-click what it is that you’re trying to scrape with Python.

You just select “Copy xpath,” and it will give you the exact xpath for that website, which is kind of a fun trick if you’re getting into some of this stuff. 

Libraries

What are libraries? How do we make this stuff more and more powerful? Python is really strong on its own, but what makes it even stronger are these libraries or packages which are add-ons that do incredible things.

This is just a small percentage of libraries that can do things like data collection, cleaning, visualization, processing, and deployment. One of my favorite ways to get some of the more popular packages is just to download Anaconda, because it comes with all of these commonly used, most popular packages.

So it’s kind of a nice way to get all of it in one spot or at least most of them. 

Learn more

So you’ve kind of dipped your toes and you kind of understand what Python is and what people are using it for. Where can you learn more? How can you start? Well, Codecademy has a really great Python course, as well as Google, Kaggle, and even the Python.org website have some really great resources that you can check out.

This is a list of individuals I really admire in the SEO space, who are doing incredible work with Python and have all inspired me in different ways. So definitely keep an eye on what they are up to:

But yeah, Pumpkin and I have really enjoyed this, and we hope you did too. So thank you so much for joining us for this special edition of Whiteboard Friday. We will see you soon. Bye, guys.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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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E-A-T and the Quality Raters’ Guidelines – Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by MarieHaynes

EAT — also known as Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness — is a big deal when it comes to Google’s algorithms. But what exactly does this acronym entail, and why does it matter to your everyday work? In this bite-sized version of her full MozCon 2019 presentation, Marie Haynes describes exactly what E-A-T means and how it could have a make-or-break effect on your site.

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans. My name is Marie Haynes, from Marie Haynes Consulting, and I’m going to talk to you today about EAT and the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. By now, you’ve probably heard of EAT. It’s a bit of a buzzword in SEO. I’m going to share with you why EAT is a big part of Google’s algorithms, how we can take advantage of this news, and also why it’s really, really important to all of us.

The Quality Raters’ Guidelines

Let’s talk about the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. These guidelines are a document that Google has provided to this whole army of quality raters. There are apparently 16,000 quality raters, and what they do is they use this document, the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, to determine whether websites are high quality or not.

Now the quality raters do not have the power to put a penalty on your website. They actually have no direct bearing on rankings. But instead, what happens is they feed information back to Google’s engineers, and Google’s engineers can take that information and determine whether their algorithms are doing what they want them to do. Ben Gomes, the Vice President of Search at Google, he had a quote recently in an interview with CNBC, and he said that the quality raters, the information that’s in there is fundamentally what Google wants the algorithm to do.

“They fundamentally show us what the algorithm should do.”
– Ben Gomes, VP Search, Google

So we believe that if something is in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, either Google is already measuring this algorithmically, or they want to be measuring it, and so we should be paying close attention to everything that is in there. 

How Google fights disinformation

There was a guide that was produced by Google earlier, in February of 2019, and it was a whole guide on how they fight disinformation, how they fight fake news, how they make it so that high-quality results are appearing in the search results.

There were a couple of things in here that were really interesting. 

1. Information from the quality raters allows them to build algorithms

The guide talked about the fact that they take the information from the quality raters and that allows them to build algorithms. So we know that it’s really important that the things that the quality raters are assessing are things that we probably should be paying attention to as well. 

2. Ranking systems are designed to ID sites with high expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness

The thing that was the most important to me or the most interesting, at least, is this line that said our ranking systems are designed to identify sites with a high indicia of EAT, of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness.

So whether or not we want to argue whether EAT is a ranking factor, I think that’s semantics. What the word “ranking factor” means, what we really need to know is that EAT is really important in Google’s algorithms. We believe that if you’re trying to rank for any term that really matters to people, “your money or your life” really means if it’s a page that is helping people make a decision in their lives or helping people part with money, then you need to pay attention to EAT, because Google doesn’t want to rank websites that are for important queries if they’re lacking EAT.

The three parts of E-A-T

So it’s important to know that EAT has three parts, and a lot of people get hung up on just expertise. I see a lot of people come to me and say, “But I’m a doctor, and I don’t rank well.” Well, there are more parts to EAT than just expertise, and so we’re going to talk about that. 

1. Expertise

But expertise is very important. In the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, which each of you, if you have not read it yet, you really, really should read this document.

It’s a little bit long, but it’s full of so much good information. The raters are given examples of websites, and they’re told, “This is a high-quality website. This is a low-quality website because of this.” One of the things that they say for one of the posts is this particular page is to be considered low quality because the expertise of the author is not clearly communicated.

Add author bios

So the first clue we can gather from this is that for all of our authors we should have an author bio. Perhaps if you are a nationally recognized brand, then you may not need author bios. But for the rest of us, we really should be putting an author bio that says here’s who wrote this post, and here’s why they’re qualified to do so.

Another example in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines talks about was a post about the flu. What the quality raters were told is that there’s no evidence that this author has medical expertise. So this tells us, and there are other examples where there’s no evidence of financial expertise, and legal expertise is another one. Think about it.

If you were diagnosed with a medical condition, would you want to be reading an article that’s written by a content writer who’s done good research? It might be very well written. Or would you rather see an article that is written by somebody who has been practicing in this area for decades and has seen every type of side effect that you can have from medications and things like that?

Hire experts to fact-check your content

Obviously, the doctor is who you want to read. Now I don’t expect us all to go and hire doctors to write all of our content, because there are very few doctors that have time to do that and also the other experts in any other YMYL profession. But what you can do is hire these people to fact check your posts. We’ve had some clients that have seen really nice results from having content writers write the posts in a very well researched and referenced way, and then they’ve hired physicians to say this post was medically fact checked by Dr. So-and-so. So this is really, really important for any type of site that wants to rank for a YMYL query. 

One of the things that we started noticing, in February of 2017, we had a number of sites that came to us with traffic drops. That’s mostly what we do. We deal with sites that were hit by Google algorithm updates. What we were noticing is a weird thing was happening.

Prior to that, sites that were hit, they tended to have all sorts of technical issues, and we could say, “Yes, there’s a really strong reason why this site is not ranking well.” These sites were all ones that were technically, for the most part, sound. But what we noticed is that, in every instance, the posts that were now stealing the rankings they used to have were ones that were written by people with real-life expertise.

This is not something that you want to ignore. 

2. Authoritativeness

We’ll move on to authoritativeness. Authoritativeness is really very, very important, and in my opinion this is the most important part of EAT. Authoritativeness, there’s another reference in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines about a good post, and it says, “The author of this blog post has been known as an expert on parenting issues.”

So it’s one thing to actually be an expert. It’s another thing to be recognized online as an expert, and this should be what we’re all working on is to have other people online recognize us or our clients as experts in their subject matter. That sounds a lot like link building, right? We want to get links from authoritative sites.

The guide to this information actually tells us that PageRank and EAT are closely connected. So this is very, very important. I personally believe — I can’t prove this just yet — but I believe that Google does not want to pass PageRank through sites that do not have EAT, at least for YMYL queries. This could explain why Google feels really comfortable that they can ignore spam links from negative SEO attacks, because those links would come from sites that don’t have EAT.

Get recommendations from experts

So how do we do this? It’s all about getting recommendations from experts. The Quality Raters’ Guidelines say in several places the raters are instructed to determine what do other experts say about this website, about this author, about this brand. It’s very, very important that we can get recommendations from experts. I want to challenge you right now to look at the last few links that you have gotten for your website and look at them and say, “Are these truly recommendations from other people in the industry that I’m working in? Or are they ones that we made?”

In the past, pretty much every link that we could make would have the potential to help boost our rankings. Now, the links that Google wants to count are ones that truly are people recommending your content, your business, your author. So I did a Whiteboard Friday a couple of years ago that talked about the types of links that Google might want to value, and that’s probably a good reference to find how can we find these recommendations from experts.

How can we do link building in a way that boosts our authoritativeness in the eyes of Google? 

3. Trustworthiness

The last part, which a lot of people ignore, is trustworthiness. People would say, “Well, how could Google ever measure whether a website is trustworthy?” I think it’s definitely possible. Google has a patent. Now we know if there’s a patent, that they’re not necessarily doing this.

Reputation via reviews, blog posts, & other online content

But they do have a patent that talks about how they can gather information about a brand, about an individual, about a website from looking at a corpus of reviews, blog posts, and other things that are online. What this patent talks about is looking at the sentiment of these blog posts. Now some people would argue that maybe sentiment is not a part of Google’s algorithms.

I do think it’s a part of how they determine trustworthiness. So what we’re looking for here is if a business really has a bad reputation, if you have a reputation where people online are saying, “Look, I got scammed by this company.” Or, “I couldn’t get a refund.” Or, “I was treated really poorly in terms of customer service.” If there is a general sentiment about this online, that can affect your ability to rank well, and that’s very important. So all of these things are important in terms of trustworthiness.

Credible, clear contact info on website

You really should have very credible and clear contact information on your website. That’s outlined in the Quality Raters’ Guidelines. 

Indexable, easy-to-find info on refund policies

You should have information on your refund policy, assuming that you sell products, and it should be easy for people to find. All of this information I believe should be visible in Google’s index.

We shouldn’t be no indexing these posts. Don’t worry about the fact that they might be kind of thin or irrelevant or perhaps even duplicate content. Google wants to see this, and so we want that to be in their algorithms. 

Scientific references & scientific consensus

Other things too, if you have a medical site or any type of site that can be supported with scientific references, it’s very important that you do that.

One of the things that we’ve been seeing with recent updates is a lot of medical sites are dropping when they’re not really in line with scientific consensus. This is a big one. If you run a site that has to do with natural medicine, this is probably a rough time for you, because Google has been demoting sites that talk about a lot of natural medicine treatments, and the reason for this, I think, is because a lot of these are not in line with the general scientific consensus.

Now, I know a lot of people would say, “Well, who is Google to determine whether essential oils are helpful or not, because I believe a lot of these natural treatments really do help people?” The problem though is that there are a lot of websites that are scamming people. So Google may even err on the side of caution in saying, “Look, we think this website could potentially impact the safety of users.”

You may have trouble ranking well. So if you have posts on natural medicine, on any type of thing that’s outside of the generally accepted scientific consensus, then one thing you can do is try to show both sides of the story, try to talk about how actually traditional physicians would treat this condition.

That can be tricky. 

Ad experience

The other thing that can speak to trust is your ad experience. I think this is something that’s not actually in the algorithms just yet. I think it’s going to come. Perhaps it is. But the Quality Raters’ Guidelines talk a lot about if you have ads that are distracting, that are disruptive, that block the readers from seeing content, then that can be a sign of low trustworthiness.

“If any of Expertise, Authoritativeness, or Trustworthiness is lacking, use the ‘low’ rating.”

I want to leave you with this last quote, again from the Quality Raters’ Guidelines, and this is significant. The raters are instructed that if any one of expertise, authoritativeness, or trustworthiness is lacking, then they are to rate a website as low quality. Again, that’s not going to penalize that website. But it’s going to tell the Google engineers, “Wait a second. We have these low-quality websites that are ranking for these terms.How can we tweak the algorithm so that that doesn’t happen?”



But the important thing here is that if any one of these three things, the E, the A, or the T are lacking, it can impact your ability to rank well. So hopefully this has been helpful. I really hope that this helps you improve the quality of your websites. I would encourage you to leave a comment or a question below. I’m going to be hanging out in the comments section and answering all of your questions.

I have more information on these subjects at mariehaynes.com/eat and also /trust if you’re interested in these trust issues. So with that, I want to thank you. I really wish you the best of luck with your rankings, and please do leave a question for me below.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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The One-Hour Guide to SEO, Part 1: SEO Strategy – Whiteboard Friday

This may be of some interest.

Posted by randfish

Can you learn SEO in an hour? Surprisingly, the answer is yes, at least when it comes to the fundamentals! 

With this edition of Whiteboard Friday, we’re kicking off something special: a six-part series of roughly ten-minute-long videos designed to deliver core SEO concepts efficiently and effectively. It’s our hope that this will serve as a helpful resource for a wide range of people:

  • Beginner SEOs looking to get acquainted with the field concisely & comprehensively
  • Clients, bosses, and stakeholders who would benefit from an enhanced understanding of your work
  • New team members who need quick and easy onboarding
  • Colleagues with SEO-adjacent roles, such as web developers and software engineers

Today we’ll be covering Part 1: SEO Strategy with the man who wrote the original guide on SEO, our friend Rand. Settle in, and stay tuned next Friday for our second video covering keyword research!

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to a special edition of the Whiteboard Friday series. I’m Rand Fishkin, the founder and former CEO of Moz, and I’m here with you today because I’m going to deliver a one-hour guide to SEO, front and back, so that you can learn in just an hour the fundamentals of the practice and be smarter at choosing a great SEO firm to work with, hiring SEO people. 

A handy SEO resource for your clients, team, and colleagues

If you are already in SEO, you might pick up some tips and tactics that you didn’t otherwise know or hadn’t previously considered. I want to ask those of you who are sort of intermediate level and advanced level SEOs — and I know there are many of you who have historically watched me on Whiteboard Friday and I really appreciate that — to give this video a chance even though it is at the beginner level, because my hope is that it will be valuable to you to send to your clients, your potential customers, people who join your team and work with you, developers or software engineers or web devs who you are working with and whose help you need but you want them to understand the fundamentals of SEO.

If those are the people that you’re talking to, excellent. This series is for you. We’re going to begin with SEO strategy. That is our first part. Then we’ll get into things like keyword research and technical SEO and link building and all of that good stuff as well. 

The essentials: What is SEO, and what does it do?

So first off, SEO is search engine optimization. It is essentially the practice of influencing or being able to control some of the results that Google shows when someone types in or speaks a query to their system.

I say Google. You can influence other search engines, like Bing and DuckDuckGo and Yahoo and Seznam if you’re in the Czech Republic or Baidu. But we are primarily focused on Google because Google has more than a 90% market share in the United States and, in fact, in North America and South America, in most of Europe, Asia, and the Middle East with a few exceptions.

Start with business goals

So SEO is a tactic. It’s a way to control things. It is not a business goal. No one forms a new company or sits down with their division and says, “Okay, we need to rank for all of these keywords.” Instead what you should be saying, what hopefully is happening in your teams is, “We have these business goals.”

Example: “Grow our online soccer jersey sales to a web-savvy, custom heavy audience.”

Let’s say we’re an online e-commerce shop and we sell customized soccer jerseys, well, football for those of you outside of the United States. So we want to grow our online soccer jersey sales. Great, that is a true business goal. We’re trying to build a bigger audience. We want to sell more of these jerseys. In order to do that, we have marketing goals that we want to achieve, things like we want to build brand awareness.

Next, marketing goals

Build brand awareness

We want more people to know who we are, to have heard of our particular brand, because people who have heard of us are going to be more likely to buy from us. The first time you hear about someone, very unlikely to buy. The seventh time you’ve heard about someone, much more likely to buy from them. So that is a good marketing goal, and SEO can help with that. We’ll talk about that in a sec.

Grow top-of-funnel traffic

You might want to grow top-of-funnel traffic. We want more people coming to the site overall so that we can do a better job of figuring out who is the right audience for us and converting some of those people, retargeting some of those people, capturing emails from some of those people, all those good things. 

Attract ready-to-buy fans

We want to attract ready-to-buy fans, people who are chomping at the bit to buy our soccer jerseys, customize them and get them shipped.

SEO, as a strategy, is essentially a set of tactics, things that you will do in the SEO world to rank for different keywords in the search engines or control and influence what already ranks in there so that you can achieve your marketing goals so that you can achieve your business goals.

Don’t get this backwards. Don’t start from a place of SEO. Especially if you are an SEO specialist or a practitioner or you’re joining a consulting firm, you should always have an excellent idea of what these are and why the SEO tactics that you are undertaking fit into them. If you don’t, you should be asking those questions before you begin any SEO work.

Otherwise you’re going to accomplish things and do things that don’t have the impact or don’t tie directly to the impact that the business owners care about, and that’s going to mean probably you won’t get picked up for another contract or you won’t accomplish the goals that mean you’re valuable to the team or you do things that people don’t necessarily need and want in the business and therefore you are seen as a less valuable part of it.

Finally, move into SEO strategy

But if you’re accomplishing things that can clearly tie to these, the opposite. People will really value what you do. 

Rank for low-demand, high-conversion keywords

So SEO can do things like rank for low demand, things that don’t have a lot of searches per month but they are high conversion likely keywords, keywords like “I am looking for a customized Seattle Sounders soccer jersey that’s in the away colors.” Well, there’s not a lot of search demand for that exact phrase. But if you’re searching for it, you’re very likely to convert. 

Earn traffic from high-demand, low-competition, less commerce-focused keywords

You could try and earn traffic from high-demand, low competition keywords that are less focused directly on e-commerce. So it could be things like “Seattle Sounders news” or “Seattle Sounders stats” or a comparison of “Portland Timbers versus Seattle Sounders.” These are two soccer or football clubs in the Pacific Northwest. 

Build content that attracts links and influencer engagement

Or you might be trying to do things like building content that attracts links and influencer engagement so that in the future you can rank for more competitive keywords. We’ll talk about that in a sec. SEO can do some amazing things, but there are also things that it cannot do.

What SEO can do:

If you put things in here, if you as an SEO pitch to your marketing team or your business owners that SEO can do things that it can’t, you’re going to be in trouble. So when we compose an SEO strategy, a set of tactics that tries to accomplish marketing goals that tie to business goals, SEO can do things like:

  • Attract searchers that are seeking your content.
  • Control how your brand is seen in search results when someone searches for your particular name. 
  • Nudge searchers toward queries by influencing what gets suggested in the auto suggest or by suggesting related searches or people also ask boxes. 

Anything that shows up in the search results, nearly anything can be influenced by what we as SEOs can do.

What SEO cannot do:

Grow or create search demand on its own

But SEO cannot grow or create search demand by itself. So if someone says, “Hey, I want us to get more traffic for this specific keyword,” if you’re already ranking number one and you have some videos showing in the results and you’re also in the image results and you’ve got maybe a secondary page that links off to you from the results, you might say, “Hey, there’s just not more demand,” and SEO by itself can’t create that additional demand.

Build brand (by itself)

SEO also can’t build brand, at least not by itself. It can certainly be a helpful part of that structure. But if someone says, “Hey, I want us to be better known among this audience,”you can say, “Well, SEO can help a little, but it can’t build a brand on its own, and it certainly can’t build brand perception on its own.” People are going to go and visit your website. They’re going to go and experience, have an interaction with what you’ve created on the web. That is going to be far more of a brand builder, a brand indicator than just what appears in the search results. So SEO can’t do that alone. 

Directly convert customers

It also can’t directly convert customers. A lot of the time what we find is that someone will do a great job of ranking, but when you actually reach the website, when visitors reach the website, they are unsatisfied by the search, which by the way is one of the reasons why this one-hour guide is going to include a section on searcher satisfaction.

When Google sees over time that searchers are unsatisfied by a result, they will push that result down in the rankings and find someone who does a great job of satisfying searchers, and they will rank them instead. So the website has to do this. It is part of SEO. It’s certainly part of the equation, but SEO can’t influence it or control it on its own.

WORK OVERNIGHT!

Finally, last but not least, SEO cannot work overnight. It just won’t happen. SEO is a long-term investment. It is very different from paid search ads, PPC, also called SEM sometimes, buying from Google ads or from Bing ads and appearing in the sponsored results. That is a tactic where you can pour money in and optimize and get results out in 24 hours. SEO is more like a 24-month long process. 

The SEO Growth Path

I’ve tried to show that here. The fundamental concept is when you have a new website, you need to earn these things — links and engagement and historical performance in the rankings.

As you earn those things, other people are linking to you from around the web, people are talking about you, people are engaging with your pages and your brand, people start searching for your brand specifically, people are clicking you more in the search results and then having good experiences on your website, as all those great things happen, you will grow your historical engagement and links and ranking factors, all these things that we sort of put into the bucket of the authority and influence of a website.

3–6 months: Begin to rank for things in the long tail of search demand

As that grows, you will be able to first, over time, this might be three to six months down here, you might be able to rank for a few keywords in the long tail of search demand. 

6–9 months: Begin to rank for more and more competitive keywords

After six to nine months, if you’re very good at this, you may be able to rank for more and more competitive keywords.

12–18 months: Compete for tougher keywords

As you truly grow a brand that is well-known and well thought of on the internet and by search engines, 12 to 18 months in, maybe longer, you may be able to compete for tougher and tougher keywords. When I started the Moz website, back in the early days of Google, it took me years, literally two or three years before I was ranking for anything in Google, anything in the search engines, and that is because I had to first earn that brand equity, that trust, that relationship with the search engines, those links and that engagement.

Today this is more true than ever because Google is so good at estimating these things. All right. I look forward to hearing all about the amazing strategies and structures that you’ve got probably in the comments down below. I’m sure it will be a great thread. We’ll move on to the second part of our one-hour guide next time — keyword research. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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