Content Testing Before Going ‘All-In’

So you’re thinking about leveraging content? Before you write your eBook or webinar slides, you’ll want to try and make sure your topic will actually resonate with your target audience.

So you’re thinking about leveraging content? Before you write your eBook or webinar slides, you’ll want to try and make sure your topic will actually resonate with your target audience.

Whether you’re content magnet is free or paid, or eBook or webinar, it’s important to test the waters before jumping in with both feet.

One of the biggest challenges I hear from clients is determining which “theme” they should choose for an eBook or webinar before investing all of the time, resources and expenses that are involved with writing, production and marketing.

Sometimes, more often than not, just because you think a topic is interesting doesn’t mean it’s something the marketplace will buy into.

Consumers are very savvy these days. There’s so much free content out there, that if you’re asking for their email address (or even more, their credit card) to download an eBook or sign up for a webinar, it better be something mind-blowing … a new perspective … something that gives them that “a-ha” moment.

Clients often feel they have their fingers on the pulse of the market. And maybe they do. But it’s the marketer who needs to help drive the content machine and do some due diligence first before going all-in.

Working in online and print publishing for the last 15-plus years, I have some proven tips and best practices to help you determine the validity of content (i.e., Topic or theme) for your next eBook or webinar.

Of course, there’s no crystal ball to help you see how something will ultimately perform with so many variables that can influence conversions, such as brand recognition, ad copy, creative design of landing page, price point, etc. Ultimately, the market will let you know if it’s interested in your topic or not. But your overall efforts can be a little easier, with some solid pre-requisites …

Surveillance

Look at what you’re competitors are putting out there with eBooks and webinars. You can do some simple competitive analysis to see the types of content topics they’re focusing on. Go to their website. What free reports are they using for organic traffic? Also, check out sites like ispionage.com. This site lets you type in a website URL so you can see competitor’s paid and organic keywords, landing pages, PPC spends and more. The free version is limited. To see full data, you have to subscribe. But this can give you some good ideas.

Getting Social

Sites like Social Mention let you search for keywords, show you how often they’re being used and where they are among the top social media platforms. This is as close as you can get to being a fly on the wall.

Keyword Research

Think of your topics in terms of keyword strings of what your target audience would likely search for. Use a keyword search platform, like Google’s keyword planner or Wordtracker. Look for keyword and potential topics that are not too popular (as the market is likely saturated with that content) but also not under-searched … the sweet spot.

Trends

Sites like Trends.google.com give you a general view of what’s trending on the Web. You can search by topic and see what people are interested in.

Purchase Behavior

Sites like Clickbank.com and Amazon.com (Kindle eBooks) will show you best-selling digital content. Clickbanks is a marketplace specifically for eBooks. You can search by topic, then sort by popularity and other criteria. The more popular eBooks can be a gauge of hot topics. Kindle eBooks can be searched and sorted by topics and you can see the best-selling topics in various categories from health, self-help and more.

Testing

Before going all-out with a 25-page eBook or a 30-minute webinar, test the concept with a 1-pager, quick and dirty digital download. Create a strong PPC text ad or Facebook ad and see what the initial clicks and conversions are. This is a great way to really see how the general marketplace will react to your topic and if it’s got legs. Carve out a small test budget (anywhere from $65 to $250, depending on your marketing medium) and let the ad run for one to two weeks. Keep it simple and remember this is just a test.

Experience

Some things you just see over and over again, so you have a good inkling of what gets your target audience excited. Generally speaking, there are a few things I’ve noticed that will, nine out of 10 times, get people to convert. Topics that:

  • Tie into a current event or are time sensitive
  • Are controversial or a contrarian viewpoint (a “hot button” issue)
  • Tap into an emotion (fear, greed, vanity, exclusivity)
  • Solve a problem
  • Save you time or money
  • Help you be healthier, wealthier or wiser in some way
  • Reveal something
  • A forecast or prediction (this works well in financial newsletter publishing, i.e. Top Stocks of 2018)
  • Are sensational or “forbidden” (this tactic is not for the faint of heart)
  • Include “Top” lists (such as, “Top 10 Ways to Combat Cancer”)
  • Combine two of the above

Remember, the core of direct response marketing is testing.

So view your content testing with an open mind and let the market help dictate your next move.

Being calculated and strategic will help you either hit a home run or, even if your test bombs, save you time and money in the long run.

Multiple Niche Keywords: Taking On-Page SEO to the Next Level

Building your webpage content to target multiple niche keywords is more challenging than writing hyper-focused articles and blog posts, but it’ll take your semantic SEO to the next level.

Writing for multiple niche keywords is essential to ranking well in today's context-based semantic search algorithms. Until four years ago, Google’s search algorithm gave preference to webpages built around similar-but-different keywords. This approach was good for SEO, but ultimately led to websites with bloated site maps and repetitive content.

Then Google’s Hummingbird update introduced semantic search to its algorithm. The concept of semantic search is simple — rather than determine relevance by connecting keywords, the updated algorithm determined relevance by evaluating broader context. Focusing on user experience became more important than keyword terms.

That said, building your webpage content to target multiple niche keywords is often more challenging than writing hyper-focused articles and blog posts. Read on to learn more about how to target multiple niche keywords to take your SEO to the next level.

Which Niche Keywords Belong Together?

The first step is determining which niche keywords should be targeted using the same page.

First, write down a few questions that are relevant to each of your best keywords. If you owned a paint business, examples might include, “What is the best outdoor paint?” or “What is the cost of painting a house?”

Next, choose one of these questions and plug it into Google. You will likely see a featured snippet – a brief but fleshed-out answer to your search query – above the search results. Below that, you’ll also see a section called “People also ask.” This is where you’ll do most of your research to find the best collection of keywords to target.

Which Keywords are Most Effective?

First, open a keyword analytics tool like Moz or SpyFu. Then, one by one, plug each question from the “People also ask” section into your keyword tool. Look for keywords with favorable combinations of high volume and less competition. Keep an ongoing list of your winners. Better yet, compile them in an Excel sheet.

Dig Deeper

Click a keyword term in the “People also ask” section, and you’ll get another featured snippet with more related questions. Analyze these keywords just as you did previously, and repeat this process as many times as you’d like. Each new set of questions offers the chance of finding a low-competition keyword term that could bring loads of traffic to your website.

Also, keep an eye on featured snippets for each question you click on. Eventually, you might find snippets that seem vague or unhelpful. When this happens, it means Google’s algorithm can’t find a website from which to pull a suitable answer. Keep track of which of your analyzed keyword terms have weak review snippets. You’ll have a much easier time scoring high search rankings with these keywords later.

Sort Your Keywords

This step is easy. Look through your keyword list and sort out your terms according to topic. The simplest way to do this is to start with broad categories, then get more focused. To revisit our earlier example of owning a paint shop, you could start by sorting everything into either “indoor” or “outdoor” categories.

Keywords vs. Audience Targeting: Find Your Target in a Complex Landscape

Is audience targeting more effective than good-old-fashioned keyword targeting? This question is widely debated in marketing circles. A closer look reveals that each targeting method is profoundly different, and keywords arguably hold the edge for generating leads and sales.

Back in the day, keywords were the primary ammo in a digital marketer’s arsenal. Google AdWords, Bing Ads and other platforms were built on the simple premise of matching ads with interested consumers. Campaigns lived and died on their keyword lists.

Now, there’s audience targeting. Unlike keywords, audience targeting matches consumers with advertisements based on demographics, interests and behavioral data. Google and Facebook offer their advertisers hundreds of options for shaping their audiences. In AdWords, audience targeting was mainly a feature of Google’s Display Network, but recently Google introduced behavioral targeting options for Search Network advertisers.

In other words, audience targeting is on the rise.

But is audience targeting more effective than good-old-fashioned keyword targeting? This question is widely debated in marketing circles. A closer look reveals that each targeting method is profoundly different, and keywords arguably hold the edge for generating leads and sales. Read on, and we’ll review the differences between keywords and audience targeting and how to find your target in today’s ever-changing landscape.

The Depth of Audience Targeting

Imagine you own a shoe store, and you’re creating a Facebook ad campaign for a new model of men’s trail shoes. How can audience targeting help you meet your objectives?

Using Facebook’s custom audience settings, you can literally target a specific age group of men who share relevant interests such as running, trail running and hiking. You can target men who show interest in specific shoe brands. You can target men whose households meet certain income requirements. You can even target men whose online behavior indicates they’re on the verge of buying new running shoes.

You can tighten the screws even further by requiring audiences to meet multiple conditions. For example, you can set your ad to be shown only to people who’ve shown interest in running and hiking, or running shoes and trail shoes. Just like with keyword targeting, you can also exclude certain audiences from seeing your ads. A good example here would be excluding low-income buyers from seeing ads for your most expensive trail shoes – they’re probably less likely to convert.

Audience targeting makes it easy to get your ad in front of millions of interested eyeballs. And it’s effective on multiple ad platforms. That said, despite the obvious advancements in audience targeting, there’s still one thing that keywords do better.

And it’s a big thing.

Keywords Capture Intent

Once more, imagine that you’re marketing a new model of trail running shoes. Your biggest goal is to drive sales. That means you’re looking for people who are ready to buy. Preferably now.

In this case, keywords are king.

SEO Measurement Challenges Continue

The measurability of Web traffic has still stands as both a promise and a challenge. As an SEO practitioner who has covered many miles of digital road, I am still amazed at how often site owners are bewildered at how to measure the success of their organic search programs.

The measurability of Web traffic still stands as both a promise and a challenge. As an SEO practitioner who has covered many miles of digital road, I am still amazed at how often site owners are bewildered at how to measure the success of their organic search programs.

In my opinion, the measurement problems for search will continue to grow and expand as search options grow. For example, once upon a time, we only measured desktop traffic and did not have to think about tablets, phones or IoT devices. As search has integrated more deeply into our lives, the challenges have multiplied. It is not just the impact of a variety of devices that have swelled the problem, but also the complexity of what is offered on the search page.

When it was just 10 blue links, it was easier to work with and analyze search program success. Many site owners still rely on tools and thought processes that are archaic for their success measurement.

Casting Just a Wee Bit of Shade

In the early days, SEO practitioners measured success based on keyword rankings. Some of the earliest tools were ranking tools. These gave a clear measurement of where in the search results a site’s pages ranked for selected keywords.

Lots was missing from this approach, including how the page converted and whether the selected phrases were the right ones for the business. As the discipline has grown in sophistication, these early approaches have been abandoned by most savvy practitioners, but many site owners still cling to these keyword and page-placement metrics.

It is our fault as an industry that we have not clearly articulated new ways for how to measure optimized pages. This is incumbent on us. As a practitioner, I abandoned rank-checking as a measurement tool years ago. When Google took away the referrers to protect privacy (their claim), I stopped being able to use the keyword-focused data from the analytics. This pulled me further from my attachment to my beloved keyword data.

Where Now?

A quick tour of the Webmaster Tools Search Console will also show how transient and variable the keyword placements are in a given timeframe.

Some things have not changed. I still use a language-based optimization focus. This is because we still search using words — words matter.

Every site owner should have a clear view of what the site is about and be able to articulate it in very clear words. I have never forgotten a lesson I learned when, after reading an entire site, I still had no idea what the business did and had to call the site owner to ask some pointed questions about the business. I discovered that none of the language that actually described what the business did was on the site. My first recommendation was a site rewrite.

These clunkers are fewer and further between today, but a lack of clear focus is still a problem. When Google wants relevant content, it is a cry for clarity. How does this effect measurement? The single easiest measurement is in sales results that can be attributed to search. This may seem very simplistic. It is, but so too are the macro-econometrics of GDP and GNP. Once past this metric, the question of what to measure is as varied as the site’s intent.

Working in e-commerce, the measurement is easier and more direct. For the goal is get the cash, get the cash, get the cash.

But for other types of businesses the metrics may be more nuanced. The point is to stop measuring rankings and measure real results.

The Secret to Great Headlines: COFFEE

Headlines are important. They were always important, but I think they’re even more important now. This string of words is often the difference between success or failure. Headlines are as important as coffee in the morning. Yeah, that serious …

Headlines are important. They were always important, but I think they’re even more important now.

Most of our content — just like your marketing content — is viewed, or not viewed, based only on the merits of the headline. This string of words is often the difference between success or failure.

Headlines are as important as coffee in the morning. Yeah, that serious. serious-coffeeAdd SEO considerations and things get even more complicated. Right?  Well, maybe not.

Over the years, I’ve developed the philosophy that writing for SEO and writing for people is not actually that different. (Forgive me, Denny.) In fact, I think humans and spiders are both essentially looking for the same thing when they evaluate a headline: keywords.

The term “keyword “tends to make people thing of soulless SEO manipulation, but humans think in keywords as well. We have topics and questions in our heads that are all categorized by keyword. A keyword is just something that’s on your mind.

Someone who searches for the keyword phrase “call to action” is going to recognize that phrase when they browse our newsletters or magazine or webinars. They’ll click on headlines that have that word too, just like they would on a search engine results page.

I don’t necessarily do a lot of keyword research to figure those keywords out (although it can be very valuable). If I know the audience we’re aiming for, I’ll usually know the words that are on their minds. We write around those.

Headline COFFEE

Which brings us to COFFEE. It’s not just a delicious, pick-me-up drink for breakfast (or in my case, any time of day). It’s a way to think about how to write headlines around the words I believe our audience is thinking about, and align that all so humans and search engines will both recognize it as the content they need.

COFFEE stands for:

  • Catchy
  • Obvious
  • Far Forward
  • Emotional
  • Evocative

Catchy: The headline wording should be a catchy turn of phrase, something that sticks in the mind and grabs attention. A fish hook baited with an ear worm.

Obvious: The specific topic of the article — the keyword — should be super obvious from glancing at the headline. This is a departure from some classic headline writing techniques, which might use a mystery/reveal trick. In today’s world, we need to grab attention and build trust and convince someone to read more all at once. People see so many headlines, most of which don’t pay off on their promises, that I don’t believe they are inclined to click on a wide open mystery. Making it crystal clear that this is the article that will answer the question on your mind is essential.

Far Forward: The keywords should be far toward the front of the headline. This is a clue to search engines that those words are important in the article. I think it’s also essential for people reading digitally. Human readers looking at a paper page can recognize keywords at the end or in the middle of a headline. But online, especially on mobile where they might only see the first few words, Front-loading the keywords makes sure they’ll be seen. Your keywords should be in the first five words — first three is even better.

Emotional: Good headlines play on an emotional need. Think of the emotional copy drivers, pick the emotion you’re drawing on, and hit that hard in the headline.

Evocative: The best headlines aren’t just emotional, they trigger strong reactions, images, memories or feelings. They may even start an argument, or propose something preposterous that people hope will be true (and you will explain away in the article). This is the special sauce that turns a good headline into something that can take off and go viral.

All that together should have the same effect as coffee: It will perk the right audience up to want to read your content.

Maybe even first thing in the morning, as they’re having their other coffee.

coffeepoem

 

6 Metrics to Consider When Choosing Your Target Keywords

Consider all the advantages of thorough keyword analysis. Online marketers who are well-versed in research techniques can reach more customers while also finding entirely new audiences. They can identify trends and predict changes in their markets. They can audit their SEO strategies and stay in front of the competition.

SEO KeywordsKeywords are the bridge between you and your customers — and in search engine marketing, the ability to pinpoint great keywords can be the difference between success and failure.

Consider all the advantages of thorough keyword analysis. Online marketers who are well-versed in research techniques can reach more customers while also finding entirely new audiences. They can identify trends and predict changes in their markets. They can audit their SEO strategies and stay in front of the competition. This can’t happen without knowing your best keywords.

Here we’ll review six metrics to consider when researching your keywords. Brainstorming is always a good first step, but it’s what you do with your keyword data that can take your SEO to the next level.

Metric No. 1: Search Volume

Gauging the popularity of various keyword terms is a great way to start your research. Obviously, if more people search for a keyword term, then you’re more likely to get visitors to your website by achieving high rankings for that query. Granted, earning high rankings is difficult on more popular keywords, but search volume is still a fundamental element of keyword research.

To determine search volume, use the Google Keyword Planner found within the AdWords interface. Check out the 12-month volume graph that appears with your keyword to see how volume fluctuates throughout the year. Also, remember to factor in the search volumes of closely matched keywords.

Metric No. 2: Search Volume Trends

Do search volumes for certain keywords change over time? This is good to know, especially when you feel like you’re suddenly underperforming for certain search queries. You can glimpse monthly keyword trends in the Google Keyword Planner, or you can review your website’s analytics data to see how traffic from various search queries has fluctuated over the years.

Not all keywords have significant upward or downward trends, but many do — especially given the seasonal nature of business. Home improvement keywords may peak in the spring and summer, then decline in the winter. Holiday keywords might have short peaks, but otherwise be flat. New cars, computers and other merchandise often debut with high search volumes that taper off over several months.

Metric No. 3: Competition in Organic Searches

A good way to boost your SEO more quickly is to identify relevant keywords with less competition. This can be easier said than done, especially in popular business verticals where the paths seem pretty well-travelled.

To check a keyword’s organic competition, use a service such as the Moz Keyword Difficulty percentage. Or, if you don’t want to start an account with another company, you can also use the AdWords competition metric to see how contested a keyword is in the paid results — it’s not the same, but it will give you a ballpark idea of what you’re up against.

7 Basic SEO Mistakes That Even Experts Make  

Whether you’re new to online marketing or a seasoned SEO expert, it’s important to realize that everyone is vulnerable to some simple, preventable mistakes — sometimes through no fault of your own. Left unchecked, these mistakes can end up wasting countless hours you’ve spent honing your SEO strategy. Here we’ll review eight basic SEO mistakes that even experts are known to make.

3 Sure-Fire Mobile SEO Hacks for MarketersSearch engine optimization is an unforgiving effort if you don’t cover the basics. Whether you’re new to online marketing or a seasoned SEO expert, it’s important to realize that everyone is vulnerable to some simple, preventable mistakes — sometimes through no fault of your own. Left unchecked, these mistakes can end up wasting countless hours you’ve spent honing your SEO strategy.

Here we’ll review eight basic SEO mistakes that even experts are known to make. This list doesn’t touch on everything you should be doing to boost your SEO, but checking for these errors can save you time and money.

1. Loading Your Content With too Many Keywords

“Keyword stuffing” — packing your site with relevant keyword terms — is a long-obsolete practice of gaining better search rankings. Years ago, keyword stuffing was actually quite effective, but nowadays it’s a one-way ticket to bad SEO.

That said, too many marketers and SEO writers still (wrongly) believe that more is better. As a result, many websites are loaded with awkwardly placed keywords that do more harm than good. It’s essential to identify your most relevant keywords and make sure they’re represented on the appropriate webpages, but don’t make any extra efforts to include more keywords than necessary. Google’s algorithm is designed to reward natural, high-quality content.

2. Preventing Your Site From Being Indexed

Did someone else code your website? If so, you’ll want to double-check your HTML code and make sure your site can be indexed by search engines. Specifically, check your homepage HTML code for this line of code: <meta name=”robots” content=”noindex”>

If you find that code, then Google, Bing and all other search engines won’t index your site. And websites that aren’t indexed are virtually invisible unless you type the url into the search bar. Literally none of your SEO efforts will matter with a flawed .htaccess file.

3. Using Poorly Written Content

Most online marketers are aware of the guiding principle that content is king. However, not all marketers truly believe it. They’ll settle for second-rate content on their carefully tuned websites and then wonder why their SERP rankings aren’t as high as expected.

Now more than ever, Google’s search algorithm is programmed to deliver the most relevant, unique content for Web users’ needs. If your content isn’t unique and well-written, then Google will likely see your competitors’ sites as more valuable. There are many ways to add content to your site; you can start a blog, make infographics, add videos and much more. Whichever form your content takes, just make sure it’s high quality.

4. Stopping Search Engines From Crawling CMS-Based Sites

WordPress, Joomla and other content management systems are popular among marketers who don’t want to code websites from scratch. Unfortunately, these platforms have plug-ins and settings that might prevent websites from getting indexed. If your website is based on a CMS, make sure your “Discourage” setting is unchecked.

This is actually quite common during a website redesign. When redesigning a website you may create a brand new development website that you don’t want Google or any other search engines to crawl. So you’ll check the box to hide your development website from search engines. However, you must remember to uncheck this box after you migrate the development website to your live website! If not, you’ll be preventing your website from showing up in the search results.

Keywords vs. Topics: Optimizing for Google Search

“Content is king” is an old adage among SEO experts. But until a few years ago, an equally appropriate mantra could have been “keywords are king.” Today, that’s no longer the case — and a more fitting adage might be “topics are king.”

“Content is king” is an old adage among SEO experts. But until a few years ago, an equally appropriate mantra could have been “keywords are king.”

For more than a decade, keywords were the guiding stars by which Google connected websites with search queries. The methodology was efficient; people using laptops and desktops kept their searches short and sweet: “Honda dealership Seattle.” “Fix leaky faucet.” “Allergy symptoms.” Most queries were keywords, thus Google made its algorithms use keywords to judge relevance.

Today, that’s no longer the case — and a more fitting adage might be “topics are king.”

Don’t get me wrong; the proper usage of your best keywords is still a core component of good webpage SEO. However, Google’s algorithm was completely changed in 2013 to judge website relevance from a more human perspective. Now, rather than hunt for keywords, Google can derive the contextual meaning of websites to deliver higher-quality search results.

Why the big change? And how should you think about topics vs. keywords when optimizing Web content for Google Search? Read on for answers to both of those pressing questions.

Hummingbird: The Game Changer

The rising tide of smartphones with voice-recognition technology changed how people interact with search engines.  More people are speaking their queries into their phones, resulting in more conversational search terms: “Where is the closest Honda dealership?” “How do I fix a leaky bathroom faucet?” “What are the symptoms of allergies?” Suddenly, old-school keyword terms weren’t doing justice to mobile phone users.

The Hummingbird Update was Google’s answer. Earlier updates to Google’s search algorithm were simple adjustments, but Hummingbird was a complete overhaul. Released in August 2013, the new algorithm considers more than 200 factors when determining search rankings. Gone are the days when keyword density was the primary goal of webpage content. Now, simply focusing on quality content that delivers what your audience wants is at least just as important.

The Moz Study

To analyze the importance of keywords vs. topics, the marketing firm Moz studied the similarities and differences between traditional and conversational keywords from 10 different topics. The firm put 10 keywords from each topic through a rank-tracking tool, then analyzed the search engine results pages (SERP) for each keyword grouping.

Turns out, the study reached a split decision. Moz found no concrete evidence showing whether keywords or topics are more important for content optimization. Exact-match keywords appeared to be more impactful with some searches, while conversational and related terms worked better with others.

Technology is certainly trending toward topics and conversational queries, and more people nowadays search the Web using mobile devices than desktops or laptops. Expect topics to edge out keywords in coming years.

Optimizing Content in a Hummingbird World

So how do you write your content in a way that emphasizes topics more than keywords? The answer is by taking a more organic approach. Put yourself in your visitors’ shoes and write what you feel they’d find most valuable. Do that, and you’ll be right in line with what the Hummingbird algorithm looks for. Here are four tips to get you started:

1. Make geographic references

Before the Hummingbird update, if you wanted to rank high when local customers were searching, then you would include location-oriented keywords such as “Portland Subaru dealership” or “Dallas roof repair.” Now, you can also make more organic references to your city and local neighborhood. Write about where your customers live, prominent local clients or high-profile projects you’ve worked on. Not only will Google’s algorithm derive your location, but you’ll also score better rankings when people search for nearby businesses from their smartphones.

2. Quality over quantity

Previous updates to Google’s algorithm cracked down on “thin” websites that offered subpar user experiences, and Hummingbird took it a step further by emphasizing quality content. If you recently launched a blog or a website, you might be tempted to crank out updates in hopes of getting people’s attention. Don’t do it! You’re much better off post-Hummingbird writing longer, more comprehensive content that will help Google better understand each of your webpages.

Focusing on comprehensive content also increases your likelihood of using LSI (latent semantic indexing) keywords that can further boost your SEO. These keywords are the related terms and synonyms that would naturally be paired with specific topics. If you do a good job with your content, then you won’t need to go out of your way to hunt down LSI keywords – they’ll be there. If you do want to research LSI keywords, just go to Google and type your primary keywords into the search box. The terms that auto-fill are examples of LSI keywords.

3. Write for customers’ needs

Why are your customers visiting your website? Are they looking to make purchases, are they researching products, or are they seeking information or advice? This is crucial to consider given the rising popularity of conversational Web searches. Understand the audiences for your various digital marketing campaigns and make sure your content is appropriate for their needs.

4. Consider landing page design

Are you writing blog posts, a product comparison, a FAQ page or a description of your services? Each requires a different style of layout for the content to really shine. If Google doesn’t already consider design signals when deriving webpage relevance, then it’s only a matter of time before it does.

Keywords Still Matter

Topics appear to be supplanting keywords in the pecking order of optimizing for Google, but it’s way too soon to stop caring about keyword usage. As the Moz study showed, including your best exact-match keywords in your content is a safe bet for helping your SEO.

Also, you still want to use your top keywords in the nuts and bolts of your webpages. Make sure your primary keyword appears in your meta title, meta description and <h1> header tag. This use of keywords will always be important even as contextual meaning takes over in content.

Conclusion

It’s better to be prepared than be behind. If Google never released another algorithm update, then you might be fine writing content around a few of your top-paying keywords. That said, everyone knows more updates are coming, and the trend line favors topics. Your best bet is to write comprehensive, high-quality, carefully planned content.

Write for people, not for keywords. That’s the future of optimizing for Google.

Top 5 Search Ranking Factors and How to Improve Them

Cracking search engine algorithms is both the holy grail and the windmill chase of search engine optimization. These algorithms are fiercely guarded secrets that constantly evolve. Just when absolute clarity seems within reach, the search for answers begins anew. That said, we’re far from clueless about how these algorithms work.

Cracking search engine ranking algorithms is both the holy grail and the windmill chase of search engine optimization. If the algorithms behind Google, Bing and other search providers were revealed, then optimizing any website for a top page ranking would be easy. But these algorithms are fiercely guarded secrets that constantly evolve. Just when absolute clarity seems within reach, the search for answers begins anew.

That said, we’re far from clueless about how these algorithms work. In 2015, the marketing company Moz conducted a survey to find the most important factors in search engine rankings. More than 150 search marketers contributed, offering opinions on more than 90 possible ranking factors. Moz also partnered with other data companies to examine correlations between websites and webpages with higher search positions.

The survey’s findings don’t tell us exactly how search engines work, but they definitely shed light on key elements of SEO. Here we’ll review the survey’s top five search ranking factors and how you can improve these factors on your website.

1. Domain-Level Link Features

Domain-level link features encompass the quantity and quality of links to your website that help to establish its authority in your field of expertise. The more inbound links you have from other quality sources, the more your site is viewed as a trusted authority that’s worthy of a higher page rank.

Building a network of links to your website has always been a critical element of SEO. It’s not difficult, but it takes time. Start by asking customers and business partners to link to your site from their websites, blogs and social media pages. You can also start a blog yourself; eventually, your interesting and helpful content is likely to be shared. In addition to registering your site with Yelp and other business directories, you can also leave comments on relevant forums or do something special to get noticed by the local media. All of these things can help you earn links that can boost how your website is perceived by search engines.

2. Page-Level Link Features

Page-level link features are the same as domain-level link features, only this references the volume and quality of links that point to specific pages of your website. You can improve this factor just as you would with domain-level link features, by slowly building up a network of inbound links from other reputable sites.

One page-specific link feature to keep in mind is the phrase used in the hyperlinks, also known as anchor text. When possible, hyperlink a few important keywords on your webpage to relevant pages deeper within your site, which helps to establish authority for those keywords. Don’t hyperlink more than a few keywords, though, because that’s a red flag for Google that you’re gaming the algorithms and it could result in a penalty.

3. Page-Level Keyword & Content-Based Features

From the search engine algorithm’s perspective, the nuts and bolts of your content is slightly more important than the content itself. Yes, you want each of your webpages to be unique and compelling, but you also want each page to be properly optimized. The most important keywords for each webpage should echo through your content, headers, images and meta tags. Otherwise, the search algorithms may deem your pages as poor sources of information.

7 Common Ways to Kill Your Google AdWords Campaigns

When used correctly, AdWords is a powerful, efficient advertising platform that brings scores of visitors to your business. However, campaigns are doomed to underwhelm when not properly optimized — and folks who are new to AdWords often make the same mistakes.

Self-inflicted wounds in Google AdWords can lead to frustration, fewer customers and less money — not good things.

When used correctly, AdWords is a powerful, efficient advertising platform that brings scores of visitors to your business. However, campaigns are doomed to underwhelm when not properly optimized — and folks who are new to AdWords often make the same mistakes.

In this article, we’ll review seven of the most common errors that can kill your Google AdWords campaign. As you’ll see, these easily made mistakes are luckily also fairly simple to fix.

Mistake 1: Not Using Keywords in Your Ad Copy

People who search for products and services online are much more likely to click on your ad if it contains the exact phrase they were looking for.

Make sure at least one of the ads in your ad groups include your top performing keyword phrase. This will lead to a higher click-through rate (CTR), which means more potential leads and sales.

Mistake 2: Not Creating New Ad Groups for Different Keywords

Novice AdWords users often rush to set up campaigns. Rather than create ad groups for the different aspects of their businesses, they just throw all of their ads and keywords into a single ad group. This is a huge mistake!

The solution is to create different ad groups for all of the different keyword phrases you find during your keyword research. This allows you to write more targeted ads that will boost your CTR. Also, each of your ads can contain their most relevant keyword terms as we discussed above.

Mistake 3: Ignoring Negative Keywords

Not only do you pay for every click on your ad, but in a sense you’re also paying for folks who don’t click on your ad. Low CTRs lead to low quality scores, and low quality scores lead to higher costs. So you really want to make sure your ads are being seen by people who are most likely to click.

Negative keywords can help here.

By adding a negative keyword, you’re instructing AdWords to not show your ads when a search query includes that keyword. How is this helpful? Imagine you own a garage door repair business, and you realize you’re getting an extremely low CTR from people who are searching for “garage door openers.” Most of those folks would have no interest in getting their garage doors repaired — they just need new door remotes. So why market to that crowd? Adding “openers” as a negative keyword solves the problem.

Mistake 4: You’re Not Advertising to Relevant Locations

Online advertising is amazing because people around the world can see your ads – but that is a double edge sword…