Can SEO Be Made Predictable? - Search Engine Journal
- Can SEO Be Made Predictable? - Search Engine Journal
- Content Ideation: 12 Awesome Tools to Use - Search Engine Journal
- AdWords Keyword Planner Explained: How to Use Keyword Planner - WordStream
Posted: 24 Sep 2019 10:02 PM PDT
3. Unintentional Collateral Damage During Optimization Efforts
A page has the potential to rank for multiple keywords.
Finding the balance between the right content, the right target keywords, and the right optimization efforts is a challenge.
As an SEO practitioner, the following scenarios may seem familiar to you:
4. The Unreliability of Standard CTR Benchmarks
There is significant uncertainty in the number of click-throughs that each URL will receive at different positions on the search engine results page (SERP).
This is because the click-through rate (CTR) a page generates is a function of multiple elements in the SERP layout, including:
Calculating CTR by rank position is just one measurement challenge.
The true business impact of SEO is also hard to capture, due to the difficulty identifying the conversion rate that a page will generate and the imputed value of each conversion.
Search professionals must have strong analytical skills to compute these metrics.
5. Inability to Build a Business Case for Further Investments into Data Science
When making investment decisions, business stakeholders want to understand the impact of individual initiatives on business outcomes.
If an initiative can be quantified, it is easier to get the necessary level of investment and prioritize the work.
This is where SEO often struggles. Business leaders find SEO efforts to be iterative and unending, while search practitioners fall short in trying to correlate rank with impact on traffic, conversions, leads, and revenue.
The ROI of SEO can seem minimal to leadership when compared to the more predictable, measurable and immediate results produced by other channels.
A further complication is the investment and resources required to set up data science processes in-house to start solving for SEO predictability.
The skills, the people, the scoring models, the culture: the challenges are daunting.
Making SEO Predictable: The Need for Scoring Models
Now that we've established the path to predictability is one fraught with challenges, let us go back to my initial question.
Can SEO be made predictable?
Is there value in investing to make SEO predictability a reality?
The short answer: yes!
At iQuanti, our dedicated data science team has approached solving for SEO predictability in three steps:
Step 1: Identification of Critical Variables & Data Integration
As mentioned before, one of the major roadblocks to SEO success is the inability to integrate all necessary metrics in one place.
SEO teams use a myriad of tools and browser extensions to gather performance data – both their own, and comparative/competitive data as well.
What most enterprise SEO platforms fail at, however, is making all the SEO variables and metrics for any particular keyword or page accessible in one view.
This is the first and most critical step. And while it requires access to the various SEO tools and basic data warehousing capabilities, this essential first step is comparatively easier to bring to life in practice.
We haven't yet entered the skill- and resource-heavy data modeling phase, but with the right data analytics team in place, the integration of data itself could prove to be a valuable first step toward SEO predictability.
Let me explain with an example.
If you are able to bring together all SEO metrics for your URL www.example.com with an understanding of the value of each metric, it becomes easy to build a simple comparative scoring model allowing you to benchmark your URL against the top-performing URLs in search. See below.
Automate this, and you have at your disposal, a reliable and continuous benchmarking process. Every time you implement changes toward optimization, you can actually see (and measure) the needle moving on SERPs.
Tracking your score and its components over a period of time can provide insights into the tactics deployed by competitors (e.g., whether they are improving page relevancy or aggressively building authority) and the corresponding counter-movements to ensure that your site is consistently competing at a high level.
Step 2: Building Algorithmic Scoring Models
Search rankings reflect the collective effect of multiple variables all at once.
To understand the impact of any single variable on rankings, we should ensure that all other parameters are kept constant as this isolated variable changes.
Then, to arrive at a "score," there are two ways to develop a modeling problem:
Creating such an environment where we can identify the individual and collective effects of multiple variables requires a massive corpus of data.
While there are hundreds of variables that search engines take into consideration for ranking pages, they can broadly be classified into content (on-page), authority (off-page) and technical parameters.
I propose focusing on developing a scoring model that helps you assign and measure scores across these four elements:
1. Relevance Score
This score should review on-page content elements, including:
2. Authority Score
This should capture the signals of authority, including:
3. Accessibility Score
This should capture all the technical parameters of the site that are required for a good experience – crawlability of the page, page load times, canonical tags, geo settings of the page, etc.
4. CTR Algorithm/Curve
The CTR depends on various factors like keyword demand, industry, whether the keyword is a brand name and the layout of the SERP (i.e., whether the SERP includes an answer box, videos, images, or news content.)
The objective here is to determine the estimated click-through rate for each ranking position, granting SEO professionals knowledge of how each keyword contributes to the overall page traffic.
This makes it easier for the SEO program to monitor the most important keywords.
If you can compare these three sub-scores and underlying attributes, you would be able to clearly identify the reasons for the lack of performance – whether the target page is not relevant enough or whether the site does not have enough authority in the topic or if there is anything in the technical experience that is stopping the page from ranking.
It will also pinpoint the exact attributes that are causing this gap to provide specific actionable insights for content teams to address.
Step 3: Strategy & Simulation
An ideal system would go one step further to enable the development of an environment where SEO pros can not only uncover actionable insights, but also simulate proposed changes by assessing impact before actually implementing the changes in the live environment.
The ability to simulate changes and assess impact builds predictability into the results. The potential applications of such simulative capabilities are huge in an SEO program.
1. Predictability in Planning and Prioritization
Resources and budgets are always limited. Defining where to apply optimization efforts to get the best bang for your buck is a challenge.
A predictive model can calculate the gap between your pages and the top-ranking pages for all the keywords in your brand vertical.
The extent of this gap, the resources required to close it and the potential traffic that can be earned at various ranks can help prioritize your short-, medium- and long-term optimization efforts.
2. Predictability in Ranking and Traffic Through Content, Authority, and Accessibility Simulation
A content simulation module will allow for content changes to be simulated and the resulting improvement in relevance scores – as well as any potential gains in ranking – to be estimated.
With this kind of simulation tool, users can focus on improving poorly performing attributes and protect the page elements that are driving ranks and traffic.
A simulation environment could grant users the ability to test hypothetical optimization tactics (e.g., updated backlinks and technical parameters) and predict the impact of these changes.
SEO professionals could then make informed choices about which changes to implement to drive improvements in performance while protecting any existing high-performing page elements.
3. Predictability in the Business Impact of SEO Efforts
SEO professionals would be able to use the model to figure out whether their change is having any bottom-line impact.
At any given or predicted rank, SEO pros can use the CTR curve to figure out what kind of click-throughs the domain may receive at a particular position.
Integrating this with website analytics and conversion rate data allows conversions to be tied to search ranking – thus forecasting the business impact of your SEO efforts in terms of conversions or revenue.
The Final Word
There is no one-size-fits-all when it comes to developing SEO scoring models. My attempt has been to give a high-level view of what is possible.
If you are able to capture data at its most granular level, you can aggregate it the way you want.
This is our experience at iQuanti: once you set out on this journey, you'll have more questions, figure out new solutions, and develop new ways to use this data for your own use cases.
You may start with simple linear models but soon elevate their accuracy. You may consider non-linear models, ensembles of different models, models for different categories of keywords – high volume, long tail, by industry category, and so on.
Even if you are not able to build these algorithms, I still see value in this exercise.
If only a few SEO professionals get excited by the power of data to help build predictability, it can change the way we approach search optimization altogether.
You'll start to bring in more data to your day-to-day SEO activities and begin thinking about SEO as a quantitative exercise — measurable, reportable, and predictable.
Posted: 24 Sep 2019 05:43 AM PDT
As a content marketer, sometimes coming up with new content ideas is extremely challenging. Never mind great content ideas that are going to move the needle for your website.
We've all been there. Everything is great when you first start writing for a website – there are a ton of untapped opportunities and brilliant ideas flowing.
However, after you've been writing for a website for a couple of years, things may begin to feel more challenging.
Leveraging the many content ideation tools available will not only help you address this challenge, but it will also ensure your topic ideas are backed by data.
12 Awesome Tools for Data-Backed Content Ideas
In this post, you'll discover a variety of content ideation tools to use when brainstorming new content ideas and building an editorial calendar set up for success.
There are many ways to spike content ideas using SEMrush; however, one of my favorites is by using the new Topic Research tool. You can plug in a topic area or domain to generate related information and ideas.
By analyzing the most popular subtopics, headlines that are earning the most links, interesting/related questions being asked and more, you'll be able to craft a post that truly resonates with your target audience.
This will also give you a solid idea of what sites and assets you'll be going up against.
Use the filters to sort by:
Additionally, you can save ideas to "Favorite Ideas" to go back to them later.
2. FAQ Fox
This content ideation tool displays the questions that people are asking around the keyword target at hand.
You can enter specific sites to scrape, or pick from suggested categories of sites to search from.
Essentially, the tool asks search engines to find what, why, how, and where in the titles and meta data that incorporates the keyword.
This tool is especially powerful for a few key reasons. It helps figure out:
In addition to searching across relevant forum sites and social media platforms, search your competitors' sites to see what questions they are answering around a particular topic.
Quora is a fantastic community, especially to determine what type of information people are looking for around a particular subject.
The platform allows you to search by topic, and displays the most popular questions (or threads) around each topic.
Questions being asked on Quora can lead to some really great content ideas.
Additionally, once you've created the asset inspired by a particular thread, go back and share your article with high quality and valuable response.
This will help generate brand awareness, strengthen thought leadership, drive visibility to the new asset, and provide users with the information they are looking for.
Pro tip: To take a more targeted approach, run Quora.com in SEMrush to see the threads that are organically ranking in search results for your keywords. Threads ranking in the top 10 results on Google for your priority terms present an immediate opportunity for content creation, as well as distribution after the post is live.
4. Google Search Console
Consider the queries that are already driving people to your website.
Look at the top queries, impressions, clicks, and click-through rate (CTR) in Google Search Console to identify terms that are underperforming.
Queries with low click-through rates likely indicate that you need new pieces of content to better address the topics, or that the existing assets are lacking something.
For example, if there is a query driving thousands of impressions to your site each month but the CTR is less than 10%, there is clearly a lot of visibility to gain.
Start with these keywords, and you will likely see some quick-wins.
5. Google Keyword Planner
Keyword Planner is essential to discover new phrases that are being searched for, which can be used to generate new content ideas.
You can enter products and/or services closely related to your business, or a specific domain to uncover new keyword opportunities.
I'd highly suggest running your own domain, as well as competitors' domains to uncover potential keyword gaps and areas where your site needs the most improvements.
From there, start digging into the keyword suggestions.
Remember, don't ignore keywords with little or no search volume.
Zero search volume does not equal zero traffic. This has been proven time and time again.
In fact, low volume terms can lead to huge traffic wins!
6. Google Search Results
When evaluating the keyword opportunities that you've determined, go directly on Google and see what is currently ranking in search results. This will help ensure that your content ideas are set up for success.
This type of analysis will help you come up with topic ideas that are aligned with the assets that Google has already deemed related, quality and worthy of ranking.
Search results that are made up of mostly education and informational content likely present an opportunity to create blog posts, while results that display product and services are better geared toward your main site landing pages.
Be sure to look at the People Also Ask, Searches Related to, and Google's "Try searching for" suggestions, as these will also lead to some really great content ideas.
This goes back to my point about not ignoring keywords that show zero search volume. Often times if you run these suggestions (from People Also Ask, Searches Related to, etc.) in Keyword Planner, it will display zero average monthly searches.
However, Google suggests them for a reason. People are looking for this information.
This is one of my all-time favorite tools to use for new content ideas. Simply plug in a seed keyword, and the tool will provide hundreds of longer tail keyword suggestions.
The best part? You can pull platform-specific research for Google, YouTube, Amazon, Bing, Wikipedia, and many more.
When digging through the longer tail keyword suggestions, pick the ideas that make the most sense for you and your content objectives. Then, export this for a complete list of priority ideas.
Use BuzzSumo to analyzing top-performing articles across the web and trigger new content ideas. Similarly to other tools mentioned above, you can search by a specific keyword or domain.
It's important to think beyond your own domain and search competitor sites as well.
With this tool, you can get a better understanding of what content assets (and topics) are generating the most shares and backlinks for your competitors.
This will help you realize content gaps on your own site, and the types of new assets you will need to compete.
9. Google Trends
In today's search landscape, it's important to craft content that addresses subtopics that Google associates with a keyword.
Google Trends helps understand searches that are closely related to the topic at hand, as well as the user intent behind these searches.
One of the best parts about this tool is that you can use it to determine the timeliness of a topic.
For example, in the screenshot shown above, you can see that the average interest over time around Patriots' games is greater than for Steelers' games. This further proves that the Patriots are better than the Steelers. (Kidding! Sortofnotreally. 😂)
But, it does show that when these terms are being searched for is fairly consistent. You can clearly see when off-season is and when the season starts to pick up.
Looking at the trends over time will help you decide if the topic is worth addressing, and the best time to publish a new asset around the subject.
10. Answer the Public
Answer the Public is another valuable tool to find the questions that people are searching for around a particular keyword or phrase.
Type in a keyword, and you'll be greeted with an awesome visualization of how people are searching around the topic.
This tool applies question-based modifiers (such as which, who, what, when, why, how, are, and where) to the beginning of the keyword and displays Google's search suggestions.
It also searches with preposition-based modifiers (including for, with, to, on and many more), as well as comparisons like versus, or, and, like, etc.
The comparison data is especially useful if you are writing about a particular product or software. Versus style content can be extremely valuable to reach people who are deeper in the sales funnel, and already comparing potential solutions.
11. Social Media Platforms
Don't forget to leverage social media as part of your content ideation process. While this type of analysis can be done across platforms, I find Twitter to be the most purposeful for content ideas.
With Advanced Search on Twitter, you can see tweets that include specific words, phrases, hashtags, mentions, and more to get a feel for the types of conversations people are having online.
Aim to better understand the language they are using, questions they are asking, challenges they are having, and the tweets that are getting the most engagement.
CoSchedule has a variety of offerings that can help take your writing to the next level; however, for the sake of this article, let's focus on the free Headline Analyzer tool.
This tool is especially helpful once you've established some new content ideas, and are looking for ways to tweak them in order to maximize visibility.
You can enter text and get immediate feedback on how to tailor your headline to drive traffic, shares, and search visibility.
Get recommendations to:
In this extremely flooded online marketing landscape, it's becoming more important for content marketers to focus on quality over quantity. And, this means identifying the right content topics.
Craft new content that is highly targeted toward your audiences, keyword objectives, and broader business goals.
Take advantage of the many content ideation tools available to you.
You will come up with amazing content ideas that are backed by data.
All screenshots taken by author, September 2019
Posted: 31 Jul 2019 12:00 AM PDT
Are you familar with Keyword Planner? The AdWords Keyword Planner is an incredibly useful and powerful keyword research tool, built into the AdWords interface, that combines two of the most popular former Google Ads tools, the Google Keyword Tool and the AdWords Traffic Estimator, and adds to it a wizard-like integrated workflow to guide users through the process of finding keywords for creating new Ad Groups and/or Campaigns.
You'll find the AdWords Keyword Planner under "Tools and Analysis."
In this article, you'll get a complete rundown of all the features available in Keyword Planner plus tips on how to use Keyword Planner for your own keyword research for SEO, PPC and other marketing campaigns. Let's go!
Getting Started With AdWords Keyword Planner
The AdWords Keyword Planner supports three key use cases:
The functionality is exposed via a wizard-like interface, as shown here:
AdWords Keyword Planner functionality.
Searching for Keyword and Ad Group Ideas Using Keyword Planner
Adding keywords to your account based on Google suggested keywords is the primary use case. The Keyword Planner (illustrated below), provides a robust keyword workbench for researching and picking keywords to add to your AdWords account.
AdWords Keyword Planner User Interface.
Using the Keyword Planner Tool you can:
Please note that AdWord's Keyword Planner returns exact match search traffic. For phrase and broad match search traffic, try these Google Keyword Planner tips.
List View vs. Grouped View and "Your Keyword Plan"
Keywords in the Keyword Planner appear either in list view or in grouped view, which is sort of analogous to the concept of keyword niches and keyword lists that we've long supported in WordStream's own keyword tools.
Additionally, you can add individual keywords or keyword groupings to "Your Plan," which is sort of a temporary storage area for saving interesting-looking keywords and keyword groupings for later.
The Keyword Planner maintains state for the duration of your session – keywords that you add are saved while you're in the process of looking for keywords.
Finally, when you're done finding keywords, click on the "Get Estimates and Review Plan" button.
Getting Estimates and Reviewing Your Keyword Plan
The next step of the Keyword Plan process involves setting a keyword bid and daily budget for your portfolio of keywords and keyword groupings.
Since keyword volume and CPC bid estimates vary wildly based on your budget, bid, location, and other factors, it's important that you provide Google with some information to customize your estimates.
For example, you could enter in a bid of $40 and a daily budget of $1,000.00 and based on those settings, the Keyword Planner will generate detailed daily estimates for clicks, impressions, average ad position, and costs, as shown here.
AdWords Keyword Planner's generated daily estimates.
Enter or Upload Your Own Keyword List in Keyword Planner
Sometimes in search marketing, you're lucky to have your own analytics data, for example, a list of top keywords that generate conversions for your website. If you're this fortunate, it would definitely make sense to use those battle-proven keywords rather than the generic keyword suggestions you get from the Google Keyword Suggestion Tool. Here's what that looks like:
Google Keyword Suggestion Tool.
When you press the Get Estimates button, you'll be brought to the same keyword workbench area; the only difference is that you'll be looking at your own keyword list, rather than the generic keywords suggested via the Google Keyword Tool.
Multiplying Keyword Lists Using Keyword Planner
A completely new feature in Keyword Planner which isn't available in either the existing Google Keyword Tool or AdWords Traffic Estimator tools is the ability to mash up and multiply keyword lists. For example, you might want to multiply a bunch of names of cities and towns with different action words to come up with all the different keyword permutations, as shown here:
Multiplying Keyword Lists Using Keyword Planner.
You can add up to 3 lists to mash up, and clicking on the Get Estimates button brings you to the same keyword workbench area.
5 Top Keyword Planner Tips
The Keyword Planner is an amazingly powerful tool for marketers, but as with any tool, it takes skill and experience to use effectively. Whether you're just getting started with keyword research or you're a seasoned PPC marketer, the following Keyword Planner tips will help you get the most out of this versatile tool.
1. Compare Keyword Volume Changes Over Time
Seasonality is a major factor in PPC and paid social advertising. Trending topics, newsworthy events and discussions, and seasonal keywords can all vary widely in volume depending on the time of year, and the Keyword Planner allows you to compare keyword search volume across two time periods, such as seasonal keywords from the previous two holiday seasons.
Compare keyword sets across time periods with Keyword Planner.
This information can be invaluable when launching seasonal or time-sensitive campaigns, so be sure to evaluate whether last year's hottest keywords are similarly popular before you bid.
2. Use Competitive Intelligence to Identify Keyword Themes
Sometimes, the most valuable keyword research data comes from our competitors. You can use the Keyword Planner to identify potential keyword topics by entering the website of your competitors and searching for keywords by theme.
Simply enter the URL of the site you wish to evaluate, then look at the results:
Using Keyword Planner for competitive research.
In this example, "Social Strategy" is a strong keyword topic that Buffer is targeting to great effect, as we can see in the figure below:
Identify themes with Keyword Planner.
If you were in a similar business as Buffer, this would be a great place to start when identifying new areas to focus on in your PPC and paid social campaigns, or when searching for potential new ad groups.
3. Use Wikipedia as a Starting Point for Keyword Research
Nobody knows your business better than you – with the possible exception of Wikipedia.
When conducting keyword research for a new campaign, leverage the power of the Keyword Planner and the wealth of information offered by Wikipedia to find new keyword ideas.
Let's say you're in the logistics management business. You want to identify potential new keywords to bid on in AdWords, and you feel like you've found, and subsequently bid on, all the terms that are relevant to your business. To check to see if you've missed any potentially valuable keywords, enter the relevant Wikipedia page into the Landing Page section of the Keyword Planner:
Wikipedia is a great resource for keyword research.
You'll then be presented with a list of potential keyword ideas based on the content of the page. Given how accurate the Google spiders are, this list is incredibly valuable, especially if you're operating in a highly niche vertical or deal with unusually specific products or services:
Keyword ideas within AdWords' Keyword Planner.
This technique can also yield valuable insight into the intent behind some of the keywords that are relevant to your business. For example, you could offer educational content that explains "what is supply chain management", or write a blog post that explains the responsibilities of a "supply chain manager".
However you choose to use it, this tip can be extraordinarily useful to marketers of all disciplines.
4. Visualize Mobile Traffic Trends
Device segmentation is crucial in today's multi-device, always-on world. However, merely knowing how much of your total traffic comes from mobile isn't enough – you have to know which keywords are proving popular with mobile searchers so you can bid appropriately.
Take the example below, for the keyword "24 hour locksmith":
Visualizing traffic across months and devices using Keyword Planner.
As you can see, mobile volume for this keyword is almost double the desktop search volume for this term. This strongly signifies the intent behind this search, as the vastly larger mobile search volume suggests that people are searching for 24-hour locksmiths from their mobile devices as they may have been locked out of their home. As such, you'd want to structure your bidding strategy accordingly to account for the disparity between mobile and desktop search volume.
5. Go Beyond Competition Data by Exporting Keyword Planner CSV Files
When evaluating the competitiveness of keywords, the Keyword Planner helpfully offers some guidance on how competitive – and, therefore, potentially expensive – certain keywords are. However, this isn't as helpful as it sounds, as there are only three levels of competitiveness offered within the Keyword Planner: Low, Medium, or High. This is great if you only need a cursory glance at how competitive a keyword is, but if you need more accurate data, you've got to get creative.
To see exactly how competitive a keyword is, export the search data from Keyword Planner as a CSV file that can be opened in a spreadsheet application. Once you've done this, you'll notice that the Low, Medium, and High competitiveness data has become a numerical value between 0 and 1, as shown below:
Calculate keyword return by exporting data as a CSV file.
Based on this number, we can calculate which keywords offer the greatest potential return by using a simple calculation.
In the example above, you'll see that the keyword "using social media for business" has a competitiveness score of 0.9 – very high in comparison to some of the other terms in this report. We can also see that the average monthly search volume is 390, and that the recommended bid is $26.85. With these figures, we can apply the following formula:
390 x 26.85 / 0.9 = 11,635
Using this calculation, the higher the end figure, the greater the potential return offered by that keyword. This can be remarkably useful if you're bidding on similar terms, or need to know with more accuracy how competitive keywords might truly perform.
Summary: The AdWords Keyword Planner
The Keyword Planner tool supports various workflows for building ad groups and ad campaigns either starting from scratch, or based on your existing lists, and provides a more cohesive user experience than previous AdWords keyword tools by integrating the keyword selection, keyword grouping, keyword analysis and filtering aspects of the keyword selection workflow. I'm a big fan!
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