Join us as we announce the latest Ads and Analytics innovations

Google Related questions for SEO

Tune in live to the Google Performance Summit Keynote on Tuesday, May 24 at 9am PT / 12pm ET to hear the latest Ads and Analytics innovations.

We live in exciting times when technology seems to upend everything as we know, every few years. And nothing has changed consumer behavior and business innovation as much as the mobile phone. People are attached to their phones, tapping and swiping their way through places to go, stuff to buy, and things to do. This presents a tremendous opportunity for marketers to connect with customers in more meaningful, relevant ways. And Google is a key partner for advertisers, providing the media and tools to help you make those connections and measure the results.

To ensure we are building the right products for consumers and businesses all around the world, my team and I make it a priority to regularly visit our ads and analytics customers. Last year, we met with advertisers in India, Japan, China, the UK and Germany, and gained new insights from every country.

For example, in Europe, we learned that universal app campaigns are effective at growing installs across a broad range of app users. Now, advertisers want the ability to reach very specific audiences. In Asia, home to three of the five top smartphone markets, advertisers asked for more control and flexibility on mobile devices for both creatives and bidding. And in every country we visited, we saw customers working hard to integrate data from across their organizations and transform it into actionable insights. Marketers want better data to understand the customer journey across devices, contexts and channels.

We were all grateful for these insights and have been using them to build a whole new generation of Ads and Analytics products. We look forward to sharing many new innovations with you at the Google Performance Summit on Tuesday, May 24, 2016 at 9am PT / 12pm ET.

Register for the livestream here.

Until then, follow us on our +GoogleAds page for sneak previews of what’s to come.

Posted by Sridhar Ramaswamy Senior Vice President, Ads and Commerce

When Your Business Email Gets Hacked

The email account you use for your business is one of the most valuable digital assets you control. It is the hub of most of your online accounts, likely your main method of communication and one of the pillars of your online presence. Due to the efforts of cybercriminals and other hackers online, it is all too easy to fall into a trap or scam and lose your business email. Should this happen, your online accounts will be compromised, and you won’t be able to maintain the integrity of any confidential information or accounts associated with the address. It is…

The post What To Do When Your Business Email Gets Hacked appeared first on The Daily Egg.

Redesigned Google Analytics mobile app now available

google analytics mobile

Never be more than a “tap” away from your data 

The world doesn’t stop moving when you’re not at your computer. We’re making it easier to monitor and share your key Google Analytics data on the go with a new, updated Google Analytics mobile app.

You can now download the new and improved Google Analytics mobile app for Android and iOS. The app works on all modern phones and tablets, in 39 languages and in all countries currently where Google Analytics is available.

Here’s just a few of the highlights about the new app:

  • Easy access to a full overview of your Google Analytics data 
  • See what is happening now with real-time business data 
  •  Go deeper into your reports with segments 
  •  Customize your own mobile dashboard 
  •  Easily share your insights with others 

Digging deeper into the app 

The new Google Analytics mobile app simplifies Google Analytics reports into a small screens format that puts an incredible depth of data at your fingertips.

Want to track a specific key metric that’s not there by default? You can now build or modify a report quickly and save it to your mobile dashboard.

Find something interesting? Share it with anyone via email, social, messaging or in any manner supported by your device.

Here’s a quick walkthrough to show how the new Google Mobile analytics app looks in action:

Now you can keep up with what is happening with your sites and mobile apps anytime, anywhere. Download the Google Analytics mobile app today on Google Play (Android) or Apple iTunes (iOS).

Note: The app currently supports portrait (upright) orientations on tablets and phones. Landscape support is coming soon.

A Step-by-Step Guide to Creating Reader Personas

reader personas

There’s only one key behind producing great content, day after day…

You don’t need to be the best writer.

You don’t need to be a top expert (although it can help).

You don’t need any fancy tools (although they can also help).

What you do need to do is understand your reader.

Most marketers would rather spend time learning about a new traffic tactic than spend time learning about their readers, and it’s the reason why they struggle.

Let me illustrate the importance of this with a simple example:

Imagine: You’re writing for an audience that consists of one person – yourself.

Do you think you could come up with something that you’d love to read?

I’d be worried if you said no.

You know not only what you want to learn about but also how you want to consume that information.

If you can’t write something great for yourself, there’s no way you can write something great for any other audience.

There’s no tactic or strategy that will make up for a fundamental lack of understanding of your reader.

Hopefully, you’re nodding your head at this point.

The question you should be asking is:

How can you understand your readers better if you don’t happen to fall into that audience?

And that is a great question.

The answer is that through research, you can create reader personasavatars of your typical readers.

The more fleshed out these are, the more effective they will be.

Personas aren’t created out of thin air.

Although your experience may help you create them, you need to follow a system, which is what I’m going to detail for you today.

Download this quick step by step guide to learn how to create reader personas.

Step #1 – Start with stats—demographics

Certain characteristics of a persona are easier to research than others.

We’re going to start with the easiest one: demographics.

The reason why demographics are the easiest to research is because they are statistics. A demographic is any statistic or value that can describe a group of people.

Here’s a list of common demographics, but there are more:

  • location
  • age
  • gender
  • income
  • educational level
  • religion
  • ethnicity
  • marital status
  • number of children

If you already have a blog and some readership, it’s much easier to determine demographics.

However, you can nail down some important attributes of any audience with a few free tools.

Always start with Alexa.

You can enter you site, or a close competitor’s site (which has the audience you want), into the search bar. It works best on high traffic sites.

When you do, you’ll get information on gender, education, and browsing locations.

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Write down these rough percentages somewhere.

Next, go to the Google AdWords Display Planner. It gives you more than just search volume data.

Put in a keyword into the first text box that fits your niche well, target whichever countries you’d like, and then submit the form:

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Front and center of the next page will be a graphic that looks like this:

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Most people ignore it because they’re only looking for search volumes.

However, this is some of the most accurate data you can get for gender and age.

Repeat this process for a bunch of keywords, and then average out your results.

Next, we’re going to use Google Analytics (GA), but only if you already have a decent-size audience.

Go to “Audience > Demographics > Overview” in GA, and enable data collection if you haven’t yet.

Then, come back a day or two later, and you will see a bunch of data collected from your actual visitors, including age and gender.

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This is the most accurate data, so use this as a primary source and the others as supplementary.

Still in GA, go to the “Audience” menu option. Browse through the tabs such as “geo,” which will give you language and location results.

By now, you should have 4-5 core demographics about your readers. Write them down in point form in a file somewhere. For example:

  • Gender – about an even 50/50 split, might be skewed toward more females
  • Education – slightly less educated than the average Internet user
  • Location – most likely readers are from the US, the UK, and India
  • Age – average age is about 30, very few senior readers
  • Income – likely low to medium due to a relatively young age

Some demographics, such as income, are tough to research. However, you can take educated guesses about them based on other demographic stats.

That’s a very good start, but if you want to get even more detailed demographics, you can use some of the tools I compiled here.

Step #2 – What is your reader thinking?—Psychographics

Next up are psychographics, which inform you about the values, attitudes, preferences, and thoughts of a group. In this case, it’s your readers.

Here’s a basic list of questions you’ll eventually need to answer:

  • Why do they want to learn about (your niche)?
  • How important is (your niche) to them, i.e., is it a hobby or part of their job?
  • What common questions do they have about (your niche)?
  • How knowledgeable are they about (your niche)?

Unfortunately, we can’t just look these up on Alexa or GA.

You need to spend time observing your readers and learning about them before you can answer these questions.

To do this, first you need to find your audience.

Option #1 – Start with Reddit: You’re looking for any specific forum or group where your potential audience is active. You need to be able to see discussion among the people whom you’re trying to understand.

I suggest starting with Reddit unless you already have a specific group in mind.

You can find most audiences on Reddit. All you need to do is use the subreddit search function and type in your niche.

For a nutrition site, I’d search for “nutrition”:

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Subreddits are essentially small forums within the site.

In this case, “r/nutrition” is the subreddit where people discuss nutrition, while “r/bodybuilding” is where people discuss bodybuilding.

Pick the most relevant subreddit that has at least a few thousand subscribers.

If you’ve never used Reddit before, check out my guide to marketing on Reddit, which will walk you through the basics of how the site works.

Start by clicking the “top” filter, and set it to show links from “all time”:

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This will show you the most popular (upvoted) posts in the subreddit of all time.

It tells you what the readers of the subreddit care about the most.

In this case, nutrition enthusiasts care about:

  • busting myths (i.e., cholesterol in eggs is unhealthy)
  • the current nutritional guidelines (and why they are wrong)
  • learning about nutrition (good courses and tutorials)
  • creating practical, healthy, and enjoyable diets

Look through at least 50-100 threads.

Then, go back to the default subreddit filters, and go through another few hundred threads.

Look for things they don’t like (get zero votes) or don’t care much about (get a few votes).

From doing this, you can start answering the questions we identified earlier, understand what your audience’s big problems are, and what helps them the most.

Option #2 – There’s always a forum: Any audience that uses the Internet participates in at least one forum.

Google “(your niche) forum,” and you’ll find at least 2-3, if not several.

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Employ the same process as you did with Reddit. Go through at least a few hundred threads, observe, and note down what the readers like and dislike.

Now, go back to your sheet with your demographics, and jot down the answers to those questions I asked at the start of this section.

Step #3 – Base your decisions on behavior

People don’t always act how they should.

People on a diet shouldn’t eat that piece of cake, but sometimes they do.

That’s because behavior doesn’t always follow intent, which means that psychographics alone are not enough.

When it comes to content, there are a few main questions about your audience that you should be able to answer.

Question #1 – How do they like to consume content? Every audience likes to consume content differently.

There are 3 main aspects of content that you need to determine:

  • What format do they prefer (e.g., video, text, audio)?
  • How often? (an hour a week? an hour a day?)
  • What length of content do they prefer?

There are many ways in which the answers to these questions can be combined to produce different optimal types of content.

You find these answers by going back to those forums.

Note down the three aspects for all the content that gets voted up or gets a lot of replies.

You might find that your potential audience likes to consume long, in-depth (>2,000 words) written articles once every few days.

Or you might find that they prefer to watch quick videos multiple times per week.

Regardless, this will tell you how they connect their problems to their behavior.

Questions #2 – What are they most convinced by? The first question is the most important, but it’s also important to understand what your readers trust.

If someone has a problem they want to solve, they need to trust you and your content before your content can help them.

Again, go back to a forum or two, and read through the most popular threads.

Take note of the credibility of each post.

For example, here’s a post from “r/nutrition” that was highly upvoted. It links to official sources and studies:

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After browsing more threads, I saw that this was common.

The readers in that nutrition audience trust only research, so all posts written for them should be well-cited and data-driven.

Alternatively, you might find that your audience prefers quotes and advice from experts in the field.

Or you might find that people are open to learning from hobbyists.

Once you find out this information, add it to your sheet, which should be getting pretty detailed by now.

Step 4: Put your reader persona together, and use it

The goal here is to take all that information and apply it to a specific avatar. Give him or her a name.

Then, turn all those bullet points into sentences that describe your avatar. Essentially, you’re describing his or her life situation (as it pertains to your content).

Here’s an example:

Reader name: Sneil Patel

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Sneil is a 30-year-old man living in New York, USA. After going to community college, he was able to find a job as a data entry clerk, making approximately $60,000 a year.

Sneil has developed an interest in getting healthier through nutrition, and he spends time actively learning about this subject online.

He particularly likes to read about nutrition myths and ways to create a diet that works for him and his professional lifestyle, which sometimes requires him to work long hours. In addition to reading, he tries to take at least one in-depth course or tutorial a month.

Since Sneil likes to investigate the truth behind claims, he appreciates content that cites credible research studies. He prefers medium-long content (1,000-2,000 words) that is mostly text. He has time to read a few of these articles a day.

Do you see how that story brings all the data we’ve collected together?

Paragraph 1 is all about demographics.

Paragraphs 2 and 3 both contain psychographic information.

Finally, paragraph 4 addresses your avatar’s behavior.

Using your reader persona: At this point, you should have a persona that you can use. I recommend printing it out and putting it close to where you write.

Every piece of content should be written with this person in mind.

Now that you understand your persona almost as well as you understand yourself, if you keep asking yourself what would Sneil want to read here?, you’ll be able to create content that resonates with a large part of your audience.

One final note: an avatar can evolve. This first version is your best guess at what your readers are like, but as you get feedback from them through comments and emails, you can revise it.

Conclusion

There is nothing more important than understanding your reader if you want to create content that truly makes an impact.

Simply put, a reader persona is the best way to understand your reader.

That’s why I’ve given you this simple 4-step process to creating your own reader persona.

I encourage you to use it as soon as possible and start integrating your reader persona into your content creation processes.

Finally, I’d love it if you shared the reader persona(s) you’ve created in a comment below.

4 Ways to Make Your Content Gripping to Readers

mind grip

Do your readers hang on to your every word?

I bet they don’t.

Okay, that’s not fair because mine don’t all either.

The facts clearly show that a large chunk of your readers will skim your content, no matter what.

But that still leaves a lot of readers.

And these readers can choose to skim as well, read somewhat closely, or read every single word you write.

I think you’ll agree that the last option is the best for us as content creators.

Think of the blogs you read on a regularly basis. How many recent posts have really gripped you?

I mean those cases when you read every single word because you couldn’t help it.

Maybe one or two?

It’s certainly not common. And because it’s challenging to create content that does grip your readers, you won’t be able to achieve it in every case.

But that’s the goal that you should have in mind. It’s what I’m always trying to do when I write a blog post, guide, or guest post.

Wondering why your readers don’t hang on to your every word? Follow these 4 ways to make your content gripping to readers.

In this post, I want to share four methods that I personally try to use to accomplish this.

Start incorporating these tactics into your own content, one-by-one, and I guarantee that you’ll start seeing more comments, more subscribers, and better on-page metrics (like time on page, bounce rate, etc.). 

1. We NEED answers as readers

The first requirement for gripping content is that it needs to be interesting.

It doesn’t matter how well-written something is if your reader doesn’t have at least some interest in it.

I’m going to assume that you can come up with some decent content ideas fairly interesting to your audience.

More importantly, you need to use a principle called curiosity gaps as often as possible.

Curiosity gaps have less to do with what you’re writing about and more with how you are writing—to maximize interest.

Here’s what a curiosity gap is:

The more we are interested in finding an answer, and the less of an idea we have of what the answer actually is, the more curious we are. A curiosity gap is the space in between what we know and what we want to know.

Sites like Upworthy and Buzzfeed use curiosity gaps in their headlines all the time, despite their claims that they don’t.

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And it’s because they work.

Joanna Wiebe, from Copy Hackers, implemented curiosity gaps on a pricing page and increased clicks on it by 927%.

Using curiosity gaps to make your content gripping: Okay, neat, but how do you actually use curiosity gaps in your content?

You can’t control what your reader already knows; that’s going to be different for everyone.

What you can control is how much they want to know the answer to something.

It starts off with the benefit that your content provides. That’s where you get the initial interest.

The benefit might be:

  • Showing how to make an extra $1,000 a month
  • Teaching how to use a tool to save 5 hours a week
  • Learning from your 10 biggest mistakes as a business owner
  • Or anything else that most of your readers would want to find out.

If you emphasize a good benefit in your headline and first few paragraphs, you’ve already built up some interest—perfect.

Now, you need to deepen the curiosity gap by increasing your reader’s desire to know the answer even more.

There are a few ways to do that, but the best way is to surprise them.

Take that first example I just gave you: a method to make an extra $1,000 a month.

Most readers will be interested in it, but they’ll also assume that it’s going to be straightforward, like working an extra 5 hours a week or getting a second job.

Instead, you need to surprise them.

What if we changed it to: A non-obvious method to make an extra $1,000 a month.

Now, the reader is even more interested because they don’t even have a good guess at your answer.

But you can apply this within your content itself, not just the headline and first paragraph.

Tell the reader that you’ll reveal a trick or secret of yours to get even better results from whatever you’re writing about.

The final note I need to make here is that you need to deliver on your surprise. If you promise a non-obvious method, it needs to actually be non-obvious, or you’ll lose your reader’s trust.

2. If you saw an angel, wouldn’t you pay attention?

We’ve all seen it on TV: a guy sees a girl he thinks is beautiful, the music starts playing, and light begins radiating outwards from her.

All of a sudden, he can’t focus on anything else but her.

That’s obviously not completely realistic, but it has some truth to it:

When we are in awe of something, or even just impressed by it, we focus our attention on it.

Can you guess how this applies to content?

If your reader is impressed by either you or your content, they’ll be glued to every word on the page.

The tough part is finding a way to impress your readers.

One of the best methods to do that is to use the “halo effect”: once we see someone or something in a positive light, we rate them highly in other aspects as well.

For example, studies showed that we naturally think that beautiful people are kinder, more trustworthy, and smarter than less attractive people.

But it goes beyond just basic traits.

One study had subjects grade a written essay, but only after they saw a photo of the supposed author. Some study participants were shown photos of attractive authors, and others were shown photos of unattractive authors.

Here’s the twist: the essay was the same regardless of the author photo the subjects saw. 

The researchers found that the clearly attractive authors got a rating of 6.7 out of 10, but the unattractive writers got only 5.9 out of 10.

On a different essay with the same setup, the attractive authors got 5.2, while unattractive authors got only 2.7.

Basically, if a reader thinks highly of you in one area, their opinion of you will transfer over to other areas and, in particular, your content.

When we like people or are impressed by them, we give them the benefit of the doubt.

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You’ll see a few things when you come to Quick Sprout or any of my other blogs, starting with a picture of me in the sidebar:

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No, I’m not ready for GQ, but I had professional pictures taken and cleaned myself up the best I could before the photo shoot.

Present yourself in the most attractive light you can, and that will carry over to your content.

It’s not all about looks: I went over only a few studies about the halo effect above, but there are many more. And others prove that the effect applies not just to looks but indeed to all traits.

If someone is really nice, we think that they’re probably smart.

If someone is really accomplished, we think their content must be amazing.

And so on…

You can see that I use the halo effect further within the biography under my picture.

When someone first finds out who I am, they see that I’ve worked with massive companies and have founded two successful companies.

When someone gets to my content, they’ll see I’m not just some random guy. Instead, they’ll think something like:

Holy crap, this guy is successful! He must know what he’s talking about, so I’d better pay attention.

But don’t think the halo effect is about tricking people. It’s about making sure they see your best traits as soon as possible.

Find a way to impress people either above or beside your content or within the content itself (tell a story that relays an impressive accomplishment).

Your face isn’t the only thing that can be pretty: Think about what makes a person attractive.

It’s not just their actions or looks. It’s also things like their clothes.

Pop quiz:

Which content do you think readers would rate higher:

  • a guide with minimal formatting?
  • a guide with a beautiful design?

The answer is obvious. The same content will be rated higher when it’s designed well, and that’s because of the halo effect.

That’s one of the reasons I spent so much on design for my advanced guides (in the sidebar):

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Yes, the content is great, but the design is as good, or better, than that of almost any other piece of content on the Internet.

Readers have carefully read the whole guide throughout the years not only because of the content but also because of the design.

You don’t necessarily have to go to the same length, but do whatever you can to improve the look of your content (images, formatting, font, etc.).

3. Explain complex topics like your readers are 5 years old

Think about the last piece of gripping content you read.

Chances are you weren’t scratching your head every 5 seconds or heading to Google because you didn’t understand something.

The best content isn’t written in complex terms, which is why some of the smartest people can’t write content to save their lives.

This is a very simple tweak you can make to instantly make your content more gripping—just write simpler.

You don’t have to write as if your readers were literally 5 years old, but you want to write in a way that will allow 95% of them to understand everything you wrote without having to look up words, acronyms, or other terms or concepts.

4. The same old angle is never gripping

Remember when you were a kid and when learning basic addition was fun?

Most people enjoy new things.

What they don’t enjoy is repetition.

Once you learned how to add, did you really want to spend hours every day doing it?

I’m guessing no—because doing exactly the same thing over and over is boring.

This goes back to the curiosity gap. If there is no gap (because you already know the end result), there’s no curiosity.

And yet marketers regularly produce content that is very similar to tons of other content already out there.

For example, if you search for “guest post guide,” you’ll find a few different guides from well-known sites:

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But you can go down hundreds of results, and you’ll still find more guest-posting guides.

Who’s going to find those interesting after they’ve learned 99% of what they need from those first few guides?

Approach it from a new direction: I’m not saying you can’t write about topics that have been written about. But I’m saying you need a unique angle that hasn’t been done (at least not too much).

More lectures on addition will be boring to anyone who can already add. However, teaching someone to add in their head could be new and fun.

Readers and students will always pay more attention to new angles and new ideas.

My challenge for you here is this: the next time you’re writing an article, see if it’s been done before. Search for similar articles.

If you find several, you need to change the approach you take to your article because chances are many of your readers have already seen those other ones.

For example, you might want to write an SEO guide.

Well, there are hundreds out there that go over all the basics of SEO, so there’s nothing you can add to that.

However, you can take unique angles to appeal to specific audiences. For example:

  • How to SEO a Joomla site in under 10 minutes
  • How SEO for a local business differs from SEO for a typical website
  • How to set up your social media accounts for better search rankings

Be different.

Conclusion

If you want true fans, you need to create content they love.

They can’t just like it because in that case they’ll often skim it.

You want them to read every single word because they can’t help it. These readers will then sign up to your email lists, buy your products, and help share your content.

This isn’t easy, which is why I showed you these four ways to make your content more gripping.

Start by applying a single method, and once you have that down, start with the next one.

Track your results before and after applying each tactic, and I think you’ll be happy with the improvements you’ll get in reader engagement.

If you’ve found any other technique particularly useful to make your content more compelling, please share it with everyone in a comment below—and I’d love to hear about it too.

4 Ways Google’s Keyword Planner Might Be Tricking You

google

Keyword research isn’t always fun.

But it is necessary whenever you’re starting most digital marketing campaigns.

It’s mandatory for some channels such as SEO and PPC.

Even for things like content marketing, I still highly recommend doing keyword research to understand your target audience better.

So, where do you start?

If you’re like most marketers and business owners, you go to Google’s very own keyword planner.

It’s the only way you’ll get any real data from Google itself.

There are many keyword research tools out there, but for the most part, they just pull data from Google’s keyword planner anyway.

They may do it in a more effective way than you could on your own, but it’s important to understand that they still have limitations.

Why?

Because Google will never tell you everything it knows, just bits and pieces.

So, while the keyword planner is a fine starting point for keyword research, it is not enough.

If you only use the keyword planner, you will end up missing out on many opportunities and spending your time and resources on keywords that aren’t as good as they appear.

That’s where this post comes in. I’m going to show you 4 different ways that Google’s keyword planner can mislead you. 

1. Averages don’t always tell the whole story

How does the keyword planner come up with a single monthly search volume for each keyword suggestion?

It averages the previous 12-month period.

You may have known that, but do you know how this can affect your keyword research?

It can have a big impact.

Most niches do not have a consistent search volume year round as a whole.

And neither do keywords. If you hover over the little graph icon in a set of keyword results, you’ll see a little graph pop-up showing you the search volumes for that keyword over time:

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In the above picture, the peak search volume is about 8,000, while the minimum is around 3,000. The peak is more than double the minimum.

This isn’t always a big deal, but there are two main reasons why you should be checking the monthly search volumes for individual keywords.

You miss out on emerging keywords: If you’re the first one to write about a topic, you’ll automatically rank #1 for its keywords most of the time.

Being at #1 gets you more links when people search for the keyword and then link to your results.

But if you do keyword research based only on the averages, you’ll never be #1.

Do you see why?

New popular keywords come along every once in awhile in just about every niche.

Search volume slowly picks up steam, and often, it starts growing exponentially at some point.

It’ll look something like this:

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The average search volume that the keyword planner shows for that keyword is 18,100.

To me, that’s not an 18,100 keyword—it’s likely over 100,000 from here on out (maybe much more).

You’ll probably notice an 18,100 search volume, but imagine if it was a keyword with a 900 search volume. You might skip over that, not noticing the emerging trend.

In reality, if it’s just picking up speed, it could be an over 10,000 searches per month keyword.

By the time Google shows you the number big enough to grab your attention, you will have already missed your chance to be among the first by a long shot.

If you’re going to skip over a keyword, check its recent search volume first.

Consistent is better: If two keywords have the same average search volume, would you prefer the search volume to be consistent or highly variable?

You’ll find that some keywords in your niche are evergreen (popular all year round), while others are highly seasonal.

Here’s an obvious example: snow shoveling:

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Of course, searches like this one spike in the winter months and almost disappear in the summer months.

If you don’t rank in the top 3 by the main winter months, you’ll derive just about zero benefit from all your work until the next year.

Considering that getting to rank highly for a keyword can take weeks or months, you never know.

SEO has a long enough wait time to produce rankings, so you probably don’t want to wait too long to start getting traffic (if you still have your rankings at that time).

Additionally, when you have a spike of traffic, it’s much harder to split test to improve conversion rates. It’s better to have consistent traffic so you can consistently test new variations.

You may not have a choice and have to target seasonal keywords, but sometimes you do.

So, check the variation in the monthly searches when you’re considering which keywords to target. Invest your efforts into the most consistent ones.

2. Beware of rounding

One more thing about those averages: they’re not “true averages.”

Ever noticed how all the keyword suggestions from the planner have search volumes that end in zeros?

That’s because there’s rounding going on behind the scenes.

But Google is not always rounding up or down to the nearest 10; instead, it groups keywords into “buckets.”

Picture a bunch of buckets in a line with a value assigned to each of them.

Google throws keywords with similar search volumes into each bucket, likely because it makes handling all the data simpler on its end.

As you get to the higher numbers, there are fewer keywords to go in the buckets, and that’s when Google removes a bunch of buckets.

At low numbers of searches, most keywords are rounded to the nearest 10.

However, keywords with even a few thousand searches can be off by hundreds in either direction because the next closest bucket is far away.

At really high search volumes, the differences can be even bigger.

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The keyword.io team did a great analysis of 57 billion different search terms in the keyword planner.

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The x-axis represents the different buckets that Google shows.

The y-axis is the number of keywords that come back for each bucket.

As you’d expect, there are many more low search volume terms than those with huge search volumes.

More importantly, you can see the differences in bucket sizes.

At first, the difference is small (10 > 20 > 30 > 40 > 50 > 70).

However, that difference quickly increases (720 > 880 > 1,000 > 1,300 > 1,600).

Why is this a big deal? The obvious reason is because you want accurate search volumes.

A more common reason is because it makes comparing similar keywords incredibly difficult.

Say you have two keywords in your results:

  • “Keyword 1” – 1,000 searches per month
  • “Keyword 2” – 1,300 searches per month

The second keyword is obviously way better, right?

In reality, the first keyword might have 1,149 searches per month while the second 1,151.

Essentially, they’re identical.

Or if the two keywords were both showing 1,000 searches per month, it’s possible that one actually has 1,149 while the other 941 (about a 20% difference).

The higher the search volumes are, the less certain you can be about the actual number of searches.

Which means that when you’re trying to decide which keyword to go after based on such data, it’s likely that you’ll make wrong decisions.

What can you do about this? The unfortunate part is that there’s nothing you can really do to fix the problem.

The best thing you can do is mitigate the issue by not putting all your eggs in one basket.

Focus on long-tail keywords when possible, and only once you start getting some real data in Google Analytics and webmaster tools should you heavily invest in any particular keywords.

3. Misspellings and variations affect search volume a lot

This particular quirk of the keyword planner doesn’t lie to you, but you need to be aware of it, or your keyword analysis will be incorrect.

When you search for a keyword, Google will show you different results based on the specific variation you enter.

For example, if you search for the TV show “brooklyn nine nine,” you’ll see these numbers as the top results:

image06

I chose this example because there are multiple variations that mean the exact same thing from the searcher’s perspective.

  • Brooklyn 99
  • Brooklyn ninenine
  • Brooklyn nine-nine

When you enter these other variations, you get different sets of results:

image04

This is strange because if you type them into Google itself, it knows what you mean when you type any variation.

Why this is important: If you’re comparing the search volumes for different keywords, you need to make sure that you’re considering all variations.

Try out different misspellings and see if they have any search volumes (they won’t show up unless you type in the exact misspelling).

Then, add all the search volumes of the variations together to get a more accurate representation of the overall search volume for your main term.

Keep in mind that you’re adding rounded search volumes together (point #2 in this post). This means that with each term you add, your figure becomes less accurate (but still more accurate than if you ignore the variations).

4. Did you know that Google hides keywords?

It’s understandable that Google doesn’t want to hand over all its data to SEOs.

But not all limitations of the keyword planner are designed on purpose; some just exist due to the way the tool works.

The most important one is that Google won’t show you all the keywords you want to see.

It’s not malicious in any way, but it really impacts your keyword research.

For example, let’s say you typed in “wooden decks”:

image00

I’ve filtered down the results to only closely related ones (that have “wooden” and “decks” in them).

That’s all of the results I got.

But when I searched for “how to build a wooden deck,” I got a search volume of 210:

image05

Even in the full original results, that keyword was not there.

In addition, “how to build wooden decks” has another 10 searches per month.

No, these aren’t big keywords, but they illustrate the point that there are obviously related keywords that won’t show up when you search for terms.

The solution? Again, there’s no concrete solution. The best you can do is enter as many seed terms as you can and include several variations.

Additionally, use a tool such as Keywordtool.io to get keywords from other sources, and then run those through the keyword planner to get exact search volumes.

The data is there; it’s just hidden until you find the keyword from other sources.

Should you abandon the keyword planner?

These are some pretty big limitations, which begs the question in this heading.

I don’t think you should abandon the keyword planner. Why? Because the data, while not perfectly accurate, is still the only real data you can get from Google.

However, I think as a way to discover keywords in the first place, it has extreme limitations.

There are many great alternative keyword research tools out there that are worth the few dollars they cost to use.

What they typically do is extract a bunch of seed keywords from different sources and then run those through the keyword tool for you. Then, they return to you a more complete set of keyword results than you’d get if you used the planner yourself.

You could do all of this yourself, but it will take you a ton of extra time, which is just not worth it in most cases.

Conclusion

Google’s keyword planner is a great tool, which should be used by all marketers and business owners for keyword research.

However, it has limitations.

I’ve shown you the 4 main limitations of the tool and what you should do to mitigate their negative effects.

Go forward with your keyword research in the future, but keep this post in mind. Don’t use the keyword planner as your sole tool for keyword research, or you’ll miss out on a lot of great opportunities.

If you have any questions about any of these concepts, just leave me a comment below. Also, if you love a particular keyword research tool, share it with everyone.

Spotlight on Optimize 360, part of the Google Analytics 360 Suite

analytics 360

Because better web experiences start with integrated marketing tools

A recent survey of marketers found that only 26% believe their marketing tools are well-integrated and work seamlessly together.1

And with all the channels and screens that customers are using – plus all the data that results – poor integration makes it hard to understand and respond to all the journeys that customers take to interact with your brand.

When your marketing tools are integrated, you can use all the rich behavioral insights you’ve learned about your customers to make their experience on your site better. You can quickly identify areas of your site that can be improved upon and more easily tailor your site for specific audiences so your business can provide the optimal site experience to each customer.

That’s why we created Google Optimize 360 (beta). This new testing and personalization solution is built with full native integration for all the data that matters to your business.

Get a clearer view and faster action

The Google Analytics 360 Suite was built to make sense of all this data. Optimize 360 helps you take that integrated data and build better web experiences, not just for the “average user” but for individual users with all their different needs and goals. It offers you:

  • One data source. Work with confidence as your web analytics data and experiment data can now work together in one tool. 
  • Experiment and business objectives are the same. Many businesses already use Analytics 360 to measure key activity on their site as they make critical business decisions. Now their experiments can easily test against those same activities. 
  • Simple, powerful personalization. It’s easy to use the Analytics 360 segments you’ve already discovered to deliver more personal web experiences. 

 Enterprise-level testing and personalization made simple

Refresh your site messaging or re-imagine the entire customer journey — just about anything is possible with the easy-to-use visual editor in Optimize 360.

Once you’ve created a new variation of your site to test, you can select your Analytics 360 goals as experiment objectives and target your Analytics 360 audiences. After you’ve launched your experiment, you can review experiment reporting that matches your web analytics reporting. It’s both easy and powerful ― because testing and personalization are seamlessly integrated with Analytics 360 from start to finish.

The Motley Fool increases order page conversion rate by 26% with Optimize 360

Many Optimize 360 customers have seen first-hand the benefits of an integrated and simple-to-use testing solution. The Motley Fool is one such customer.

The Motley Fool is dedicated to helping the world invest — better. The company was begun by brothers Tom and David Gardner in 1993 as a simple investing newsletter for family and friends. The Motley Fool is a global financial company now, but newsletters remain a key product.

During regular reviews of their Analytics 360 data, The Motley Fool team began to see a weak link in the sales chain — email campaigns were driving visitors to the newsletter order page, but a high percentage of those sessions weren’t leading to an order.

The Motley Fool team began experimenting with ways they could make the newsletter order process as simple and easy as possible for their users. They used Optimize 360 to put their ideas to the test and measured their results against an already created Analytics 360 goal that was measuring newsletter orders.

“The ability to use our existing Analytics 360 data in a testing platform was huge for our team,” says Laura Cavanaugh, Data Analytics Manager for The Motley Fool. “Our server-side event tracking for key metrics like leads and orders is 99% accurate — far better than with other sources.”

Even before results came in, Optimize 360 made a big impact on The Motley Fool team by saving valuable time and resources. “One of our marketing managers can set up a test from start to finish in less than 10 minutes,” says Cavanaugh.

When the experiment results did come in, they were clear and powerful. The redesigned order page resulted in an improvement in conversion rate over the original order page.

And The Motley Fool isn’t stopping there. Now they plan on testing new elements for many different audience segments, like better landing pages for new prospects and custom experiences for loyal customers.

And having the combination of Analytics 360 and Optimize 360 gives them a more complete view of the greater business impact each of their changes have.

Read the full case study with The Motley Fool for more details.

More to come 

This is only the beginning. In the coming months we’ll share even more product features and integrations that we’re now building into Optimize 360, so you can take seamless action on your Google data wherever it exists.

Want to learn more? Visit our website to read more about Optimize 360.

1Source: Forrester Research, Inc. Discover How Marketing Analytics Increases Business Results

How to Get Extra Organic Search Traffic with Google’s “Related Questions”

Google Related questions for SEO

seo

Most SEOs go after the most competitive traffic from Google.

Years ago, that’s all there was, but Google has created many new features—many of which can be used to get extra search traffic.

The best part about these features is that most SEOs never even try to take advantage of them.

If you’re smart, you’ll want to take advantage of them.

Want to get extra organic search traffic? This handy little guide will teach you how to use Google’s “Related Questions” to get more traffic.

I want to single out one of these features in particular—the one that’s relatively new:

Related Questions. 

You might have seen these when searching for various terms. They appear as small boxes within the search results themselves (usually around the 4-5th spot).

image15

When a searcher clicks one of the questions, it expands to show a brief potential answer as well as a link that the searcher can click for more information:

image04

These links will get high click-through rates.

For the rest of this post, I’ll further explain how related links work and then show you how you can increase the chances of your site showing up in these searches.

Why you should care about “related questions”: It’s a neat feature, but is it worth spending time and effort trying to show up in related questions?

The fact I’m writing this article means I think the answer is yes.

While it’s a fairly new feature, it’s grown incredibly fast.

Moz started tracking “related questions” in early 2015 when they were first rolled out. They showed up on just over 1% of queries.

But since then, there have been massive spikes in the number of queries with related questions, and that upward trend could continue:

image06

At the end of 2015, related questions were showing up for just over 8% of all queries that Moz tracks (that’s a very significant portion).

When do “related questions” show up?

The tough part is finding out which searches related questions actually show up for.

From the name, related questions, you might think that they would show up only for searches that are phrased as questions.

In fact, it’s the opposite.

Related questions rarely show up in the search results of queries that are specific (like other questions).

Instead, they show up often when the search query is a broad term.

For example, if you search for “US food pyramid,” you’ll probably see this:

image16

From Google’s perspective, the searcher is looking for general information when they enter a broad term.

In order to help them find a more specific path to learn about, Google provides common questions (and answers) with the “related questions” box.

Take a few minutes to search for a few general terms in your niche, and see if you can get the “related questions” box to come up.

Even if you can’t find many, that doesn’t mean that Google doesn’t use “related questions” in your niche. Unfortunately, there’s just no easy way to find them at the moment.

That being said, you can still implement things that should let you take advantage of this extra traffic source, so keep reading on.

Where related questions and answers come from

It’s time for us to do a little investigating.

Let’s say someone searches for “gyro sauce.”

They’ll see a “related questions” panel like this one:

image11

Let’s expand one of the answers and take a closer look at the answer and link:

image12

It’s clearly a relevant answer to that question (a tzatziki sauce recipe).

It makes sense that Google pulls this answer from the data it has for the related question query: “How do you make tzatziki sauce?”

In fact, that Allrecipes article does rank #1 for that query.

So, that’s it, right?

Not quite. In fact, many of the answers that Google links to are not in the #1 spot for their own query.

However, almost all are on the front page.

Take the query “search engine optimization backlinks” as an example. There are a few related questions within the results:

image05

When we click on Search for: What is a backlink?, that webopedia page shows up as the 4th result.

image03

Clearly, you don’t need to rank #1 for a related query to still get chosen to be featured in a related question. However, ranking high will help.

How to get your answer to show up in related questions

There hasn’t been very much in-depth analysis done on “related questions.”

That being said, it’s clear from just looking at enough of these related questions that there are a few main factors that lead to answers being selected:

  • Authority for the related question query – Just as we have seen above, if you rank better for the results of the question, you have a better chance to appear in the “related questions” section.
  • Schema (rich text markup) – “Related questions” are part of Google’s knowledge graph, which we know uses schema to understand content better. It’s not necessary to be chosen as an answer source, but it’s probably not a coincidence that most answer pages use schema.
  • Clarity and relevance of content – For Google to provide an answer to a question like “what is a backlink?”, you need something like “a backlink is…” as a heading (or even just as bolded text) somewhere on the page. For example, the answer to that gyro sauce question was taken from a section called “directions”:

image00

So, where does that leave us?

You get page authority mostly from the backlinks to your page and site. Start with my advanced guide to link building if you need help.

I also won’t go into the clarity of your content much because it’s pretty self-explanatory. Have clear headlines, and emphasize the important parts of your content naturally.

You don’t need to force in certain keywords, just maintain a simple and clear format. If you’re writing naturally, you’ll do this automatically.

The most interesting factor for you here should be the schema markup because a lot of the sites that rank ahead of you on these related questions won’t use it. It’s an extra opportunity to increase your traffic from these related questions.

Understanding schema

If you’re already familiar with schema, you can skip this section. But you still might want to read it for a quick refresher.

Schema refers to a specific type of rich text markup, which is essentially an HTML code that doesn’t show up to readers.

The markup was designed to help content creators explain their content better.

It’s not very widely used, which is probably why it is not a ranking factor. However, Google definitely draws upon it for features such as rich snippets and for understanding pages better in general:

image02

Those pictures, ratings, reviews, etc., can all improve your click-through rates, which could improve your search rankings indirectly.

But we’re not concerned with that here. Instead, we want to use schema to help Google understand our content better so that it is used for “related questions.”

Implementing schema to get shown in “related questions”

The reasons why most websites don’t implement schema is because it does take some extra work, but mainly because it’s scary.

If you’ve never used it before and you go to the Schema site, you’ll be overwhelmed.

I don’t want that to happen to you, so let me break things down and simplify them. I promise it’s not that bad.

If you go to the Schema.org library, you’ll see that there are hundreds of different properties that you could apply:

image07

Now, do me a favor: ignore them. Why?

Because 99% of them will never be useful to you, especially not for the purpose we have in this post.

There are, however, three important schema tags you do need to understand.

1. “itemscope”: This is a top level tag. You can put it inside any HTML tag to tell search crawlers that everything inside that HTML division (or span, body, etc.) refers to one specific topic.

You do not have to specify a value.

Here’s an example:

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The arrow points to the “itemscope” tag. That tells Google that everything within that div tag (in the rectangle) is related.

2. “itemtype”: One level down is the “itemtype” tag. For this one, you do have to specify a value.

When you add this tag to an HTML element, it tells the crawler that everything in that tag is one specific type of content.

Because of this, it’s often paired with the “itemscope” tag.

There are tons of different types in the Schema.org library:

image13

Again, I don’t want you to worry about them because for our purpose, we are focusing on getting our written content included in Google’s “related questions.”

The types we care about are:

You can see in the following picture that an “itemtype” of “WebPage” was applied to the body tag:

image09

3. “itemprop”: This is the last tag that you’ll need to understand and use.

The first two basically marked broad things about your content, but the “itemprop” tag lets you get a lot more specific.

Go ahead, and click one of those “itemtype” links I just gave you above in the bullet points.

You’ll get a list of different properties (guess what “prop” in “itemprop” stands for?):

image08

You can include as many or as few of them as you’d like. Just include enough to accurately describe your content.

Before we get into specific properties you’ll want to use in this situation, let’s take a look at the “itemprop” tag in action:

image10

Just like the other tags, you can add it do any HTML element. You simply include the property name in quotation marks.

There is one other variation you might see:

image01

You can add “meta” tags that have no other purpose than to describe your content.

In the case above, these meta tags each describe one aspect of the content in the div (that is marked with the “itemscope” markup).

Both the width and the height of the image are specified as 800 (pixels), and even the URL is explicitly labelled.

This is what I mean when I say that you can get as detailed as you want to.

Now, let’s get back to those three types of content that we’ll be using here. Each of them has many properties, but again, we won’t need most of them.

Instead, we’ll focus on a select few.

For “webpage”:

  • mainContentOfPage – Put this tag right around the actual body of your content.
  • about – This is a general tag that describes your content. You’ll need to describe your content in a few words (do it in a “content” tag in the same HTML element).
  • description – describes a particular section of content. Using the “content” tag again, you could say something like “lists the ingredients of tzatziki.”

For “article” or “blogposting”:

  • articleBody – Put in the tag that wraps around the text of your content.
  • about – This is a general tag that describes your content. You’ll need to describe your content in a few words (do it in a “content” tag in the same HTML element)
  • description – describes a particular section of content. Using the “content” tag again, you could say something like “lists the ingredients of tzatziki.”

Does it matter which one you should use? In my opinion, not really.

You can see that they are all almost identical. As long as you’re using them when possible, you’ll do fine.

Do you need to use schema for every piece of content? You don’t have to always use schema.

Here, we’re focusing on content that answers a few questions and that might get referenced by Google.

If your post doesn’t really answer many common questions, you don’t have to include markup (although it’s still a good idea).

Conclusion

SEO today is a lot tougher than it used to be.

But there are some opportunities to get extra search traffic that are much easier to implement than your typical SEO.

The related questions that show up in search results are one of those opportunities.

If you want your content to show up in those questions, implement the tactics we went over in this post, and you’ll have a good chance at achieving that. Focus on your typical on-page and off-page SEO, and start implementing the specific schema markup, as I showed you above, in your content.

If you have any questions about Google’s “related questions” feature, leave me a comment below, and I’ll do my best to answer them.

Why Integrated Marketing Analytics Are Critical to Success

Marketers have an increasingly complicated job, with access to an unprecedented amount of customer insights and analytics tools. A new study from Forrester Consulting uncovers how successful organizations use marketing analytics tools to develop relevant customer experiences.

Consumers expect to find what they want anytime, anywhere from their smartphones, tablets, and laptop. These micro-moments offer marketers more opportunities than ever before to connect and engage. They also enable marketers to learn valuable insights about consumer behavior. With so much customer data to consider, effective marketing measurement is more important than ever before. 

To understand the challenges marketers face in measuring performance and creating a well-integrated tool set, Google commissioned Forrester Consulting to perform an in-depth survey of 150 marketing, analytics, and information technology executives. The research revealed how successful marketers are able to leverage analytics tools effectively so they make the most of consumer interactions.

Key findings:

 • Marketers must be able to tie performance to business results. Among the survey respondents identified as “sophisticated marketers,” 53% stated they adhere to well-established metrics that tie directly to business objectives. These marketers support organizations that are at least 3X more likely to hit their goals than other marketing organizations.


 • The right tools are critical to success. Only 26% of marketers surveyed believed that their marketing analytics tools are well-integrated and work seamlessly together. But, marketers with well-integrated tools were more likely to outperform revenue goals.


 • Marketers that implement complete marketing analytics platforms see an increase in performance. Sophisticated marketers who deploy a complete marketing analytics stack of five or more tools are 39% more likely to see improvement in the overall performance of their marketing programs.


 To learn more about improving marketing performance with analytics, check out the full study, “Discover How Marketing Analytics Increases Business Performance.

 Post By, Suzanne Mumford, Head of Marketing, Google Analytics 360 Suite