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Avoiding False Conversions in Google Analytics

Posted by R0bin_L0rd

Preface

The first half of this post is a quick rundown of some of the standard ways in which your conversions could be going awry.

The second half of this post — everything after “How to filter conversions with Tag Manager” is an advanced way of intelligently filtering conversions using Tag Manager and cookies.

If you’re confident you’ve already covered your bases, feel free just to skip to the advanced section, I just feel it’s important to go through some of the basic stuff before diving into more complex solutions.

Avoiding false conversions

Aside from failing to record important data, one of the best ways to screw up your analytics is to record the wrong thing and lump it in with all the times you’ve recorded the right thing.

For example: if you’re counting conversions when you shouldn’t be, that can screw up automated ad bidding, how much you value individual channels, or even how well you think your business is doing. For this post, we’ll be referring to this issue as “false conversions”.

There are a huge number of ways you can track conversions in Google Analytics, and a huge number of ways to screw it up. This post is going to focus on some of the main ways you can mess up conversions when you’re basing them on users completing a form and then landing on a thank-you page.

We’ll cover:

  • Some useful tools
  • Things to check — how might users be accidentally converting?
  • How to protect destination-based goals from false conversions
  • An ideal event-based goal approach
  • How to protect event-based goals from false conversions

Useful tools

The tools below will help you with some of the checks in this post.

Chrome DevTools

F12 will open Chrome DevTools (you may need to press the “function” key depending on your keyboard). You can test JavaScript in “Console”, and view active cookies in “Application”.

Google Tag Manager preview

Google Tag Manager has a new preview which will show you what happens on a series of pages over time.

Adswerve dataLayer Inspector

This plugin summarizes dataLayer information in Chrome Console.

Analytics Tracking Monitor plugin

I’ve found this plugin really useful for checking what information is being sent to GA. One nice feature is being able to block hits from actually being sent to GA while recording what would be sent.

Tag Assistant

The Chrome Tag Assistant plugin will show you what Tag Manager tags are present on the page. If you click to record the session, it’ll also give you a breakdown of everything that’s happened on each page. That said — I don’t tend to rely on the recordings as much if I have Tag Manager access, because a lot of the useful information is covered between the new GTM preview and the tracking monitor plugin.

Tag Mapper

I created a free Tag Mapper tool to make it easier to see what impact Tag Manager changes might have. If you’re planning on changing something in your GTM account, you can see what else might be impacted. Likewise, if you’ve noticed that something is broken, it can help you find the root cause.

Things to check

It can be tempting to leap straight to a catch-all solution, but if you’re recording conversions when you shouldn’t be, that could be because your website visitors are doing things they shouldn’t be.

Let’s start with a quick rundown of checks you should do to make sure you’re not making the numbers look right by just ignoring problems on your site.

1. Are you only recording conversions on thank-you pages?

To check if you’re recording conversions on pages you shouldn’t be (like, every page on your site or something) have a quick look at the Reverse Goal Path report in Google Analytics:

Conversions > Goals > Reverse Goal Path.

The first column on the left should show you where your goal conversions are taking place, unless you’re doing something unusual. If you’re seeing a bunch of pages in that column which you don’t expect, that’s a sign you need to change your criteria for conversions.

One thing to bear in mind here: if you’re recording conversions based on events rather than pageviews, and you’re seeing the wrong page appearing in that left-hand column, make sure your conversion event only ever fires after your pageview.

2. Are you linking to conversion pages in other ways besides form completions?

If you’re using any goals based on a user loading a specific page (like a thank-you page), and you know you’re only recording conversions on thank-you pages, another way you could be screwing things up is accidentally linking to those thank-you pages. If a user can click on the wrong link and end up on a conversion page, you need to fix that.

One way to check for this is using a tool like Screaming Frog to crawl the site and just see if your conversion pages appear. If they appear at all, you know that’s probably a problem. To find out how to fix the problem, you can select the offending pages and check the “Inlinks” panel, which will give you a list of where you’re linking to them.

3. Are users landing directly on thank-you pages?

A quick way to check if users are landing on your thank-you pages is to use segments. If you create a segment where the landing page is your thank-you page, you can get an idea of how often Google Analytics thinks users are landing on your conversion page.

Below, you can see a screenshot of the segment interface. I’ve set it to include any session where the first interaction was a user landing on a thank-you landing page. As you can see, that was the case for 339 sessions on this site:

Once you see how often users are landing on your thank-you pages, you can pinpoint the sources which are bringing those users to the site.

Below, I’ve applied a “lands on thank-you page” segment to the Source/Medium report, and it looks like we’re getting a bunch of direct sessions, but also some CPC sessions, and organic sessions elsewhere, too:

An important thing to bear in mind here is that this is based on what Google Analytics thinks is happening. It doesn’t necessarily mean users are landing on these pages directly from adverts. In fact, in this example, we know this isn’t always the case, and sometimes it’s a symptom of our tracking code being broken or confused in another way. Even so, it gives us some things to investigate.

For example:

  • Do we have adverts or other activity pointing straight to conversion pages?
  • Are our conversion pages indexed in Google?
  • Do we have a page in the middle of our conversion flow that isn’t being tracked?
  • Is our tracking code broken, or are users doing things on-site which would confuse GA?

3.1 Do you have adverts or other activity pointing straight to conversion pages?

I won’t be able to walk you through all of this, but all advertising platforms should allow you to check active landing pages. It’s also important to make sure that you don’t have any affiliates linking directly to conversion pages — either accidentally or maliciously — as you could be paying them a lot more than they deserve.

It may be harder to check non-paid links, like social media activity. That said, it’s worth spending the time checking. If you find you’re linking to these conversion pages by accident, you can work with relevant teams to put policies in place for that in future.

3.2 Are your conversion pages indexed in Google?

Google can be a frequent cause of conversion page issues. It’s a ravenous crawler. It’ll follow links inside and outside of your site, and if there’s a machine-crawlable link to your thank-you page, it’ll probably find it.

A quick way to check if Google has saved your thank-you pages (and might be sending users straight to them) is to search for the pages in Google.

Using “site:” filters Google results to just pages on your site. Using “inurl:” filters results to just pages that contain a specific string.

Below is an example of a check we did for one of our clients. We found that they had a lot of “thank-you” pages in the index (over 600). Some of those pages were fine, but it highlighted a number of conversion pages for us to deal with:

3.3 Is your tracking code broken, or are users doing things on-site which would confuse GA?

We don’t have time to go through all the things that could go wrong here. Some things to check are:

  • Are you missing tracking code on some pages? Perhaps you’re failing to record the user before they land on the thank-you page.
  • Do you have different versions of Google Analytics on different pages? This can, again, cause confused or split sessions.
  • Are you including UTM parameters on any internal links? Any website crawler should help you find this.
  • Do you have the wrong timezone set in GA? Sessions can’t cross “midnight” — if they do, GA will split them into two separate sessions.
  • Are you including important information on the thank-you page that could cause users to bookmark the page, or try to come back to it later? One solution here is to include pretty much nothing visitor-specific on the thank-you page, and assure them that you’ll email them details. It’s worth testing this to make sure it doesn’t hurt visitor confidence.
  • Do you have any forms, that take more than half an hour to fill out, and don’t record interactions in the meantime? You can avoid this by splitting the form into different pages and tracking when visitors fill out a form field or when they hit errors. Entirely aside from what we’re looking at in this post, but all of these things should help you make your forms more user-friendly.

Once you have all of those checked off, you can start to look at ways to improve the way you filter your conversion data.

How to protect destination-based goals from false conversions

If you have your goal type set to “Destination” in Google Analytics, that means that any time GA records a pageview for a specific page, it’ll count as a conversion.

You can make your destination goals require users to have visited other pages first by using a funnel. If you edit the goal and switch “Funnel” on, you can specify the steps leading up to the goal. This means you can make sure that you don’t record goal conversions when users land directly on your thank-you pages.

You can also use it to separate out different kinds of goal conversions. For example, if you use the same thank-you page for multiple forms, you could have one goal where the funnel involves traveling through one form page, and another goal which involves traveling through another.

This will work if you:

  • Have a smaller (and fairly static) number of different goals.
  • There is a small (and fairly static) number of ways users can legitimately complete each goal.

However, funnel steps don’t allow things like regex, so they aren’t very flexible. Also, you can only use funnels with destination-type goals. So, funnels won’t help if:

  • Your goals are event-based.
  • You have lots of ways users could reach a goal.
  • You have multiple teams managing the site, and it doesn’t make sense to keep track of all the ways users could reach a goal.

You should be aware that if you have a problem like internal UTMs or sessions timing out, these form funnels can mean you stop recording some conversions you should be. Seriously, make sure those problems are fixed.

The ideal approach: event-based goals

The ideal approach involves using event-based conversions rather than destination-based ones. You work with your developers so that as the users complete the form you tell GA that an event has occurred, rather than GA having to wait for a thank-you page pageview. GA then records each instance of that event as a Goal conversion.

Below is the criteria for one event-based goal conversion, if you haven’t seen them before and are struggling to picture how they’re set up. It records a conversion for this goal any time GA receives an event of the category “thank_you_page”:

The reason this is ideal is, you’ll only record a conversion when the user actually does what you want them to do. Most conversion goals based on pageviews are just us trying to guess what the user has done. That’s why you run into problems with destination-based goals, like users landing directly on your thank-you page without completing the form you wanted them to complete.

You might think it’s a bit strange to leave this “ideal” solution until so late in the post, but I’m doing so because this is often not the simplest solution. It can require the most work on the developer side, and you could be using something built into your CMS that your dev team has to edit, or even worse, you could be working with an external form solution that they have to hack their way into.

I’m bringing this solution up at this point because if you don’t already have this in place, you’ll need to convince someone to do it. Their first question may be “have you considered other options?” When you have that conversation, you can say:

  • We’ve made sure we’re only recording conversions on the right pages.
  • We’ve made sure users aren’t getting to those pages in ways we can prevent.
  • We’ve made sure there aren’t other issues with how we’re tracking the site.
  • Our conversion data is being polluted in a way we can’t prevent because we have to rely on thank-you pageviews.
  • We can’t filter out those conversions using Google Analytics.
  • The best way to make sure our data is accurate is to use events, and the most accurate events to use are ones that only occur when the user does exactly what we want them to.
  • If you can help me I’ll be your best friend.

An alternative to Google Analytics funnels

It could turn out that the events-based solution above is impossible. Life has its frustrations, we soldier on.

An alternative is to switch to event-based conversions anyway and use Tag Manager to handle it all yourself. Using Tag Manager and cookies, you can create a more flexible version of GA’s funnel to only send conversion events when users land on a thank-you page having visited a qualifying page. How does that work? In short:

  1. When a user visits one of your qualifying pages, you put a cookie in their browser.
  2. When the user loads a thank-you page, you check for the cookie, and, if it exists, you send a conversion event to Google Analytics. If it doesn’t, you don’t.
  3. Then you clear the cookie.

That means you won’t record the following false conversions:

  • Users landing direct on thank-you pages.
  • Users accidentally clicking to thank-you pages when they haven’t visited the relevant form.
  • Users leaving the thank-you tab open, or bookmarking it, and clicking back to it later after their GA session expires.

The section below gets into some specific Tag Manager terminology (the most confusing being that a “Custom Event” and a “Google Analytics Event” are two different things entirely).

Some terminology to know

I’ve color coded Tag Manager terminology in blue and all Google Analytics terminology in orange, but if you find yourself getting lost, you might want to read around a bit or talk to a knowledgeable colleague or consultant.

Event: Something we send to Google Analytics to record a specific action.

Custom event: Something that happens on the web page, which we can use as part of the criteria for a Tag Manager trigger.

Trigger: A set of conditions we lay out in Tag Manager. When these conditions are all fulfilled at the same time, the trigger fires and usually activates a tag.

Tag: Something in Tag Manager that does something. This sounds vague because it could be almost anything from sending an event to Google Analytics to completely rewriting the page.

Variable: A piece of information in Tag Manager that we can easily reference in triggers, tags, or other variables.

Data layer: Structured information on the page which makes it easier to pass information to Tag manager.

How to filter conversions with Tag Manager

1. Make sure Google Tag Manager is installed on your site

It’ll need to be on every page. Google has shared a Tag Manager quick-start guide if you need further guidance.

If you’re switching from standard GA code to Tag Manager, make sure you don’t include both GA and Tag Manager, or you’ll double-count.

2. Tell Tag Manager every time a thank-you page is loaded

We’ll assume your thank-you pages are all the same type of page, so you can reasonably say to your dev team, “please make this change to all of our thank you pages”. Ask them to add something like the script below.

Example script

<script>
window.dataLayer.push({
   “event”: “conversion”
});
</script>

 

If you need to test this process before getting the devs involved, you can try adding the code yourself by pasting it into the console using Chrome DevTools.

When the page loads, that script will add information to the data layer. Tag Manager will detect the change, and you can use it as one of the conditions for a trigger. In this case, Tag Manager would detect a Custom Event called conversion as this data is added. We’ll come back to that.

3. Tell Tag Manager every time a qualifying page is loaded

We’ll also assume there are some similarities between your qualifying pages. For one thing, they’ll probably all have a form on them. You can coordinate with your dev team to automatically add/activate a script any time one of those forms is added.

Example script

<script>
window.dataLayer.push({
 “event”: “qualifying”
});
</script>

In this case, you’d see a Custom Event called qualifying. Again, you can test this by pasting directly into Console.

4. Whenever a user lands on a qualifying page, set a cookie

You’ll use your “qualifyingCustom Event as the criteria for a trigger. Below is a screenshot of the trigger setup:

Then you’ll create a tag which will be activated by that trigger. The tag will add some content to the page, in this case adding JavaScript (even though the tag type specifies HTML). The JavaScript will run as soon as it’s added and set a cookie for the user, that way you can pass information from one page to another.

Example script

<script>
// Get time 30 minutes from now (this is because the default GA session timeout
// is half an hour and we want our cookie timeout to match)
var dt = new Date();
dt.setHours( dt.getHours() + 0.5 );

// Set a cookie called ‘qualified’ with the value being ‘true’ which expires in 30 minutes
document.cookie = “qualified=true; path=/; expires=”+dt;
</script>

5. Get the cookie value

Use a Tag Manager variable to make sure you’re detecting the value of the cookie, which will give you the current value of your “qualified” cookie each time you check.

6. Determine whether you should filter the conversion

In step two, you created a dataLayer event that will occur on all of your final conversion pages.

Now you create a trigger which fires on your “conversion” event.

Then create a tag which is activated by that trigger, and creates another Custom Event.

Below is the custom HTML to add. It checks if your qualifying cookie is set to “true”, which shows the user has already visited a qualifying page this session. If it is true, you create another Custom Event called “create_filtered_conversion”. If it’s false, you don’t. Either way, delete the cookie by setting its expiry time to be far in the past.

Example script

<script>
// When we are about to fire a conversion – check if we should.
// If we should – create an event that will trigger the conversion
// otherwise, don’t. Either way – clear the cookie

// Get variables
var isQualified = {{Variable – qualified cookie}}

// Check if the conversion is qualified
if (isQualified === “true”){
  // If the user has a qualifying cookie
  window.dataLayer.push({
  “event”: “conversion_confirmed”,
  });
} else {
  // Do nothing if we have determined the conversion shouldn’t fire
  “”
}

// Set cookie expiry in the past to clear it
document.cookie = “qualified=false; path=/; expires=Thu, 01 Jan 1970 00:00:00”;
</script>

7. Send event to GA

First you create a trigger which is waiting for that “conversion_confirmedevent.

Then you create a tag, activated by the trigger above, which sends the relevant event to GA. The specifics of the event sent to GA can be whatever you want, you just need to make sure they match the criteria of your goal in GA.



8. Don’t switch off your old conversions straight away

One nice thing about this is you can run it alongside your existing conversion tracking to see how often conversions are being filtered out. Keep your old conversion setup running for a while (how long depends on how often you get conversions).

Watch the two numbers and check if you’re filtering out loads of conversions. This check will help you spot mistakes in either the old setup or the new one.

Let me know what you think

Google Analytics will never be a perfect record of everything on your website, but these checks and processes should help you weed out some of the ways it can mislead you.

What do you think? What GA improvements do you think people have been missing? Let me know in the comments or on Twitter @robinlord8. <strong style="color:orange" event

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Reblogged 1 year ago from feedproxy.google.com

The Local SEO Stats &amp; Practical Tactics of Google&rsquo;s Top-Ranked Grocery Stores

Posted by MiriamEllis

Grocery stores belong at the center of the 2021 local SEO industry conversation.

Other than medical facilities, no enterprise stands out more clearly on the map as essential to daily life in the US, and few verticals have had to adapt more rapidly in mid-flight than our neighborhood food stores in the COVID-19 era. From independent grocers to major supermarket chains, there are heroes in every aisle keeping the nation fed. Any data that supports the strong continuance of these businesses is well worth sharing.

In this article, I’ll provide results from 900 data points I pulled while analyzing the top local-pack-ranked grocery store in each of the 50 US capital cities. I’ll also summarize the practical tactics I’ve learned from listening to grocers and their marketers, highlighting how they’re adapting and succeeding in unprecedented times.

It’s my hope that both in-house and agency grocery marketers will discover important takeaways in my analysis to ensure a successful 2021 for each vital store.

Methodology

I manually queried Google for “grocery store”, modified with the city name of each of the 50 US capital cities. I was not physically located in any of the cities where I searched, which should exclude the influence of user-to-business proximity. In a spreadsheet, I manually recorded 18 characteristics for each of the winning grocery stores, and then drew my statistics from this data.

The GMB characteristics of top-ranked grocery stores

Review these statististics to assess how a grocery store you’re marketing measures up.

Location within city limits

100% of the grocery stores ranking #1 had a physical location within the city limits of the specified search phrase city. No shop, however strong, was getting the number one spot in the local pack if it wasn’t within the city.

Takeaway: Having a location within city limits correlates with a good chance of ranking for searches that contain that city’s name.

Keywords in business title

Only 6% of the top-ranked businesses had business titles that matched any part of my search phrases. This was good to see, given Google’s known (and unfortunate) rewarding of brands that stuff keywords into their business titles in violation of Google’s guidelines. I saw only one business that had extraneous keywords in its title.

Takeaway: You don’t need to spam Google with keywords in your business title to rank as a top grocery store.

Brand diversity

No one brand is winning the top spot across the country. Results were extremely diverse, and made up of a vibrant mix of independent grocers and large chains. Some brands were winning out in more than one state, however. Safeway won five local packs, Whole Foods won four, and Hy-Vee and Hannaford each won three. Beyond this, brands were very varied.

Takeaway: Any brand, large or small, can compete for premium local visibility. No one brand has a monopoly on rankings.

Page Authority of GMB landing page

Page Authority (PA) is a 100-point score developed by Moz that predicts how well a specific website page will rank within search engine results. PA is believed to exert a strong influence on local pack rankings.

Examining the PA of the website landing page linked to from each grocery store’s Google My Business listing, I found that the average PA was 40. The highest PA was 58 and the lowest was 26. Five of the top-ranked supermarkets had no website link at all, amazingly, and this must be a source of mystery and frustration for lower-ranked grocery stores in these cities with GMB listings that do link to their websites.

Takeaway: An average PA of 40 is not prohibitively high. Using Moz Pro to measure competitive PA and actively seeking relevant local links for each location of a grocery brand can help you beat out sleepier competitors. When low PA or even a missing website link are still being rewarded with a high ranking for a competitor of the brand you’re marketing, it’s time to conduct a local business audit to discover which other local search ranking factors might be at play.

Primary GMB category

82% of top-ranked grocery stores use “grocery store” as their primary category. The remainder of brands had chosen a few other categories, like “supermarket” or “organic food store”. The primary category chosen for the GMB listing is believed to have the most impact on which terms the business ranks for in Google’s local packs.

Takeaway: “Grocery store” has a much higher estimated monthly search volume than any other keyword phrase I investigated, such as “supermarket” or “food store”. Grocers wishing to rank for this top term are best off choosing “grocery store” as their primary GMB category.

Rating

The average rating of top-ranked grocery stores is 4.2 stars. The highest rated market had 4.7 stars, and the lowest had 3.6. Star ratings are believed to influence local rank.

Takeaway: No top-ranked grocery store had a perfect 5-star rating. Don’t be overly concerned about the occasional negative review, but do aim for customer satisfaction that yields ratings in the 4-star range, cumulatively.

Review count

Grocery stores receive a massive number of reviews, and review counts are believed to influence rank. Overall, the 50 grocery stores I analyzed had received a total of 62,415 reviews, indicating just how common usage of Google as a dominant consumer review platform has become.

The average review count per store location is 1,248. The count for the most-reviewed grocery store in my data set is 3,632. The fewest reviews a top-ranked store received is 227. Bear in mind that the reviews each store location needs to achieve maximum visibility will be predicated on their unique geographic market and level of competition.

Takeaway: The fact that the overwhelming majority of reviews I saw are unmanaged (have no brand responses) leads me to believe that professional review acquisition campaigns aren’t likely the force driving the high number of total reviews in the grocery industry. Rather, I’d suggest that Americans are self-motivated to review the places they shop for food. Nevertheless, if a brand you’re marketing is being outranked by a competitor with more consumer sentiment, launching a formal review acquisition program is a smart bet for impacting rank and improving customer service for a store location.

Review recency

The recency of your reviews signals to Google and consumers whether your business is a place of bustling activity or a bit on the quiet side. It’s long been theorized that review recency might have some impact on rank as a user behavior signal. In my data set, 52% of top-ranked stores had been reviewed within the last day. 46% had received a review within the last week. Only 2% had seen more than a week go by without receiving a new review.

Takeaway: Multiple consumer surveys have found that customers tend to be most interested in your most recent reviews when making a decision about where to shop. If a grocery store location you’re marketing hasn’t been reviewed in weeks or months (or years!), it’s definitely a signal to begin actively asking customers for feedback.

Always remember that your customers are your grocery store’s best sales force. They freely convince one another to shop with your company by dint of what they say about your brand in reviews. A steady stream of recent, positive sentiment is priceless sales copy for your market.

Owner responses to reviews in 2020

Making use of Google’s owner response function on the reviews a grocery store receives is absolutely basic to providing good customer service. However, in my data set, 60% of top-ranked grocery stores had not responded to a single review in 2020, and of the 40% that had responded to some reviews, not one brand had responded to all of their reviews.

Takeaway: While ignoring reviews appears to have had no negative impact on grocery stores’ ability to achieve top local pack rankings, I can’t emphasize enough what a waste of opportunity is happening in this vertical.

Every review is a customer starting a conversation with a brand, whether their goal is to thank the business or to complain in hopes of receiving help. Ignoring the majority of conversations customers are starting must be extremely deleterious to consumer satisfaction and reputation. 2020 was a year like no other, and grocers have had their hands full adapting and surviving, but going forward, supermarkets that allocate resources to responding to every review will have an incredible customer experience edge over less-engaged competitors.

Place topics

Google excerpts common topics from the body of each store’s reviews and puts them at the top of the review display. 40% of top-ranked grocery stores have “produce” as their most-mentioned place topic, and it was also present for many, many other stores even if it wasn’t their #1 topic. 6% have “organic” and another 6% have “to go” as the most-talked about element, but beyond this, place topics are greatly varied. This area of Google’s interface is sprinkled with terms like “clean”, “cashier”, “deals”, “sales”, and many other words.

Takeaway: I’m not yet convinced of the usefulness or ultimate staying power of this aspect of Google’s review displays. However, it provides very shorthand sentiment analysis for grocers and marketers wanting an at-a-glance idea of what customers are saying in reviews for a brand and its competitors. You need to drill down into the text of the reviews, though, to see whether frequent mentions of something like “clean” are from customers saying a business is or isn’t clean. Place topics just aren’t terribly sophisticated sentiment analysis, at this point.

My data set reveals that Americans are putting premium focus on produce, so one takeaway here is that the quality of your produce department drives consumers to leave reviews. A great produce department could lead to a great rating and great consumer-created content about your market. A disappointing produce section could create the reverse. I also found the prevalence of “organic” place topics revealing, given stats I had seen on the 10X growth in purchases of organic produce between January and March of 2020. There is a clear demand trend here for healthy food that should be informing inventory.

Price attributes

Google places a 1-4 point “$” attribute on many listings as an evaluation of costliness. It’s believed these designations stem, in part, from attribute questions Google asks users, but the overall data set is incomplete. In my sampling, Google only had a price attribute for 42% of the top-ranked grocery stores. Of that number, 76% were marked with the moderate “$$” price attribute.

Takeaway: As I found in my previous piece on The Google Characteristics of America’s Top-Ranked Eateries, neither Google nor consumers tend to consider either the cheapest or most expensive food options to be the most relevant. Concepts of thrift and spendiness differ greatly across the US, but it’s good to know that a modest price evaluation tends to correlate with top local rankings. That seems to be in-step with the current economic picture. The grocery brands you’re marketing don’t need to be the cheapest or the most expensive; the ideal would be delivering good value for a reasonable price.

Google Posts usage before and during COVID-19

Google Posts are a form of microblogging that enables brands to post fresh content to their Google Business Profiles. Prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, 24% of grocers were publishing Google Posts, but in 2020, only 16% were actively making any use of this feature.

Takeaway: Google offered special COVID-19 post capabilities to businesses in 2020, but top-ranked grocery stores largely ignored this opportunity. Pre-pandemic usage was very meager, with only about a quarter of grocers using Google Posts to boost engagement. The 8% falloff in 2020 may paint a picture of a vertical too preoccupied with other, more urgent priorities to give this feature a try.

Use of Google posts is not believed to impact ranking, and neglect of this feature clearly didn’t hold any of the subjects back from achieving top rankings, but if a brand you’re marketing can allocate resources to this type of publishing, it’s worth trying. Moz Local can help you publish Google Posts to your listings, and increase the opportunities for consumers to engage with your profiles.

Google Questions & Answers

Google Q&A is a Google Business Profile function that lets a company publish and answer its FAQs, as well as letting the public ask and answer questions. Cumulatively, the fifty grocery stores in my survey have received 1,145 questions. The highest number of questions for a single location is 192, and the lowest is two.

Just 14% of grocers have responded to any of the questions their stores have received, and in no case had a grocery store responded to all of its questions.

Takeaway: The majority of the questions I saw were leads — customers asking if a market had this or that product, or offered a particular service or amenity. Sadly, public answers, often left by Google’s Local Guides, were often flippant and barren of information to help the customer making the query. While Q&A is not believed to have any impact on rankings, ignoring customers is not consistent with goals of providing excellent customer service.

Moreover, ignoring leads has a monetary context. One source estimates that the average American grocery trip bill is $60. This means that the total number of questions in my survey, if answered, could bring in $68,700 for that pool of stores. However, in my household, the average grocery bill is about $150 per trip, which could make answering this many questions in California worth something like $171,750, if the shops have the goods and services the customers are seeking. My numbers are just estimates, but one thing I know is that few brands can afford to leave money on the table.

I would highly recommend that grocery stores make the time to populate Google Q&A with their top FAQs, including whether the business offers delivery, curbside service, and requires mask-wearing. Beyond this, using a product like Moz Local will let you know each time a new question comes in at any of your locations, so that you can be sure no potential customer is being ignored and that all leads are the subject of careful stewardship.

The COVID-19 adaptations top-ranked grocery stores have made

Beyond analyzing the GMB listing elements in my data set, I phoned each of the grocery stores to ask them a few questions to understand how they have adapted fulfillment and policies in response to the pandemic.

I could have relied on the Google attributes depicting curbside and delivery service, but I’m glad I made the calls, because I found discrepancies in use of these attributes and actual services provided. In some cases, stores with these amenities had not been tagged with these attributes yet, and in others, the attributes that were displayed were wrong.

These are my findings:

Home grocery delivery

62% of the stores in my survey set are now offering home grocery delivery. I was surprised that this number wasn’t higher, given consumer demand for the safest ways to keep their households supplied, coupled with the clear need to keep grocery workers as safe as possible.

Of this number, only 12% of grocery stores I spoke with have managed to create an in-house delivery service. 31 of the 50 brands in my data set were having to go with the costly option of third-party last-mile fulfillment. Of this number, 29% are using Instacart, 26% are using Doordash, 8% are using Amazon Prime, 4% are using Peapod and Shipt, and 2% are using Grubhub. Three brands were partnering with more than one third-party service, and two were offering both third-party and in-house delivery options.

Finally, I saw multiple instances of Google allowing third-party fulfillment companies to advertise on the Google Business Profiles of grocery stores. Grocery store staff who told me they had no delivery service are almost certainly unaware of this practice. I find this scenario to be one of the least-acceptable in Google’s local playbook, particularly because they place the burden on business owners to try to get such advertising removed from their listings.

A business working hard to develop an in-house delivery team doesn’t deserve to have Doordash or Instacart or Grubhub parked on their listing, eating away at profits. Be sure you’re checking the Google Business Profiles of any grocery stores you’re marketing and seeking removal of any third-party links you don’t want.

Google Trends recorded the massive spike in searches related to grocery delivery that occurred in spring of 2020 as Americans sought strategies for keeping their households supplied while staying safely at home. When you couple this with the tragic reporting UFCW has been offering on the COVID-19 mortality of grocery workers, increasing delivery options is essential.

Keeping the majority of the public at home and limiting face-to-face contact for grocery store staff has made home delivery a vital COVID-19 adaptation that must expand beyond the 62% adoption rate I saw in my study.

Curbside service

For brands that are still struggling to develop a workable delivery program, curbside pickup has been a welcome option. 64% of the stores in my study are offering curbside service now — a number just slightly higher than the home delivery figure. I saw that in multiple cases, brands that weren’t yet set up to do delivery were at least able to create this fulfillment alternative, but we’d need to see this figure at 100% to ensure no one has to walk into a grocery store and risk infection.

Mask policy

When I asked grocery store staff if their location required all employees and shoppers to wear masks, 83% said yes and 17% said no. This was the most important question in my survey, given the state of the pandemic in the United States, and I want to share what I learned beyond the numbers.

  • In the cities/states where grocery store workers reported no masking requirements, they invariably told me they “lacked the authority to enforce mask-wearing”. Lack of government policy has left the people in these communities helpless to protect themselves.
  • Reviews sometimes told a different story for the 83% of grocery stores where employees told me masks are required. Despite a stated mask-requirement policy, reviewers report instances of encountering unmasked staff and patrons at some locations and express distress over this, sometimes stating they won’t return to these venues. This means that the actual enforcement of PPE-wearing is actually less than 83%.
  • On a purely human level, I sensed that my question about masking made some employees anxious, as if they feared a negative response from me when they told me that masks were required. I can only imagine the experiences some of these staff members have had trying to cope with customers refusing to protect themselves and others from contagion. The exchanges I had with staff further cemented my understanding of the need for clear, national policy to reduce and, hopefully, eliminate COVID-19 so that everyone in our local communities is safeguarded.

My friend and colleague Mike Blumenthal has done the best job in the local SEO industry documenting consumer demand for masking as evinced in reviews, and also, how to get political rant reviews from anti-maskers removed from your GMB listings, should the store you’re marketing receive them. Out of my deep concern for grocery store workers and communities, it’s my strong hope that national leadership will result in 100% participation in grocery industry masking requirements in 2021.

Full contactless fulfillment

0% of the grocery store brands in my study have switched to contactless-only fulfillment, but this methodology may become essential in overcoming the public health emergency. When grocery stores can operate as warehouses where food is stored for curbside pickup and delivery, instead of any in-store shopping, workers and customers can substantially reduce contact.

When the COVID-19 pandemic first emerged in America, markets like Oneota Community Food Coop in Decorah, Iowa switched to pick-up-only for a time, and may need to do so again. Meanwhile, my neighbor is receiving her complete grocery delivery every week from Imperfect Foods, which launched in San Francisco in 2015 and has experienced phenomenal expansion in the past few years on its mission to deliver economical foods in a convenient manner. This comes on the heels of the meal kit delivery bubble, encompassing Blue Apron, HelloFresh, Purple Carrot, and many other options. Even convenience stores like 7-11 are making a strong effort to go contactless.

In April of 2020, 40 million Americans placed online grocery orders. Rapid adaptation is absolutely possible, and until COVID-19 can be placed in the country’s rearview mirror, a national effort may be essential to recast grocery brands as curators of food delivery rather than places to shop in person. Local search marketers should fully participate in grocery store client ideation on how to shape public perception that supports safety for all.

Satisfaction, reputation, and rankings

Delivery, curbside service, and strict masking policies may not seem to have a direct connection to local search rankings, but in the larger scheme of things, they do. Customers reward businesses they love with positive reviews. When a customer is extremely satisfied with how a business like a grocery store takes care of them, studies show this motivates them to award reviews as a thank-you.

The more you demonstrate to customers and communities that the grocery store you’re marketing cares for them, the more you’ll grow your corpus of positive reviews with high star ratings. This, then, will support the local pack ranking goals you’re hoping to meet for maximum online visibility. And your reputation will have become the sort that generates high conversions. 79% of shoppers say contactless pickup is very important to them — whatever you can do to deliver satisfaction to the consumer majority is a very smart move.

What I’ve learned about agility from grocers and their marketers

“There shouldn’t be a brand between you and your customer. You shouldn’t be introducing them to somebody else and nobody should own your information.” — Brian Moyer, CEO, Freshop

It’s not overstating the case to say that the grocery industry is undergoing a revolution. Annual online grocery sales in the US increased from $1.2 billion in August of 2019 to $7.2 billion in June of 2020.

As a local SEO, I can’t think of another industry I can learn more from about adaptation, ingenuity, and resilience. I’ve been following food industry news, and was especially engaged by a webinar I tuned into hosted by digital grocery software provider, Freshop. I’ll summarize seven key takeaways here:

1) If you can develop an in-house delivery program, do it, because it’s the only way to maintain ownership of the full customer experience with your brand. It also makes financial sense in the long run, as I covered previously here in my column on Third Party vs. In-house delivery: A Guide to Informed Choice. In the Freshop webinar, Brian Moyer reminded attendees that Blockbuster once had the opportunity to buy Netflix, but passed on the chance. Now is the time for grocery stores to protect themselves from giving their trade away to the Instacarts and Doordashes on the scene.

2) Whatever software you use to digitize your grocery inventory, it should be strong on POS integration, inventory management, and analytics. I was impressed with the short demo I saw of Freshop’s analytics dashboard coverage of pick times and slot fulfillment for delivery management, profitability across time, tracking of both non-transactional and transactional behaviors, and integration of Google Analytics for measuring conversion rates.

3) Take a page from meal kit services and offer them yourself. Create breakfast kits, supper kits, dessert kits, holiday meal kits, etc. Make it easy for customers to think in terms of meals and get everything they need in a couple of clicks.

4) Consider leveraging digital ads on your grocery store website from brands you already carry. This can create an additional revenue stream.

5) Create online shoppable circulars. Remember that I saw “deals” and “sales” showing up as GMB place topics? Many customers who used to take cues from print circulars can learn to transfer this habit to clickable digital circulars.

6) Carefully evaluate the community support options of the digital shopping software you choose. Most grocery stores aren’t direct competitors and can help one another out. A great example I saw was how one grocer shared the letter he wrote to apply for taking SNAP payments. He was happy to let other grocers copy this form letter to use for their own applications.

7) Celebrate the fact that online commerce has removed historic barriers to customers locating store inventory in a complex floor plan. With a search box, any customer can find any product in any aisle. As difficult as things are right now, this is one silver lining of genuine value to grocers and their marketers.

Summing up

The dominant characteristics of Google’s top ranked grocery stores in the 50 US capitals are:

  • Being located in the city specified in the search
  • Accomplishing GMB landing page PA in the 40 range
  • Not relying on spamming GMB business titles
  • Using “grocery store” as their primary category
  • Winning a 4+ star rating
  • Being heavily reviewed and having received a review in the last week
  • Receiving leads in the form of Q&A
  • Offering delivery and curbside shopping options
  • Requiring masks

The key areas of GMB opportunity that are not yet being utilized by this group to protect dominant visibility are:

  • Customer service in the form of review responses
  • Lead management in the form of answers to Q&A
  • PR in the form of Google Posts

The grocery industry is undergoing a period of significant challenge and opportunity encompassing:

  • The challenge of digitizing inventory
  • The challenge of managing the full consumer experience with delivery and curbside service to avoid being cut out by third parties and to greatly increase safety
  • The opportunity of selling to customers in new ways by fulfilling new needs
  • The opportunity of building permanent loyalty by creating memorable experiences of care and satisfaction during the pandemic that will inform post-pandemic relationships

I want to close with a thank-you note to my favorite, great-hearted neighborhood grocer — a family-owned country store in a rural area. You found me ice during a power shutoff in the midst of a fire, you found me bath tissue during the shortage, and locally-distilled hand sanitizer to keep my family safe. You set up curbside pickup to protect me, and when my car was out of service, your family offered to bring groceries to my home, even though you don’t yet have the staff for a full delivery service.

My grateful loyalty is yours.

As a local search marketer, I may look at data, I may share numbers, but really what I’m thinking about is people. People feeding the nation, deserved of every protection and safeguard ingenuity can devise to get us through these hard times together. If you’re running or marketing a grocery store and have local SEO questions, please ask them in the comments and I’ll do my best to provide helpful answers to support your success. Thank you for all that you’re doing!

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2020 – The year we unlearned everything we learned

Five facts to bear in mind as we prepare for the New Year.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

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One view of the future of events: niche and hybrid

There are still many questions to be answered about the events landscape post-COVID.

Please visit Marketing Land for the full article.

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How to Detect and Eliminate Keyword Cannibalization

Keywords are king when it comes to engaging users and increasing your search engine ranking.

As a result, search engine optimization (SEO) has become a multi-million dollar business with a host of experts offering advice on how best to move up the search engine results page (SERP) and claim the coveted number one spot.

Most actionable SEO advice boils down to a few solid suggestions: Do your market research so you know which keywords are relevant to your target audience, and create content that’s timely and relevant.

Something that doesn’t make the SEO rounds quite so often is keyword cannibalization. While this unpleasant-sounding issue won’t sink your website, it can cause your pages and posts to rank lower than they should and — if left unchecked — could harm the overall reputation of your site.

Here’s what you need to know about finding, evaluating, and eliminating keyword cannibalization.

What is Keyword Cannibalization in SEO?

Keyword cannibalization occurs when two or more pages on your website end up competing for the same keyword.

Let’s say your company sells roof shingles. Your blog content will likely include posts about how to extend shingle life through proper care and maintenance — with the right combination of authority and actionable insight, this kind of content can attract the attention of your target audience and lead them to purchase shingles from your site when their home requires repair or replacement.

To ensure you’re capturing the right audience, you do a keyword search and find that “roof shingle prices” ranks extremely high. You then create multiple pages that all leverage this keyword — one piece might deal with the most costly shingle types, another with less-expensive options, and a third with the costs of potential repairs if shingles are damaged.

The problem? By using the same keyword for each page, you’re essentially stealing search engine rankings from yourself.

Here’s why: From the perspective of search engines each of these pages is its own separate entity with its own authority and page ranking, meaning your pages are fighting for SEO attention.

What’s more, these similar-but-different pages will split your click-through rate (CTR) across multiple links, in turn decreasing the value of each page. As a result, these three pages might rank sixth, seventh, and eighth in SERPs while a single page could rank second or even first.

How to Detect Keyword Cannibalization

The simplest way to detect keyword cannibalization is to create a spreadsheet containing the keyword(s) for any content you create.

Before making a new post, check your spreadsheet and see if you’ve already used the same keyword. If so, consider tweaking your content to focus on another keyword or ensure that the content you’re creating is substantially different than that of previous posts.

You can also check for keyword cannibalization with a quick online search of your most relevant keywords. If you see multiple pages from your site listed close to one another in SERPs for the same keyword, you have a cannibalization problem.

In addition, keyword cannibalization checker tools can help ensure you’re not missing potential overlap — better to know ASAP and modify your content before it gets pushed down the search rankings by more targeted posts from your competitors.

How to Eliminate Keyword Cannibalization

So what happens if you discover keyword cannibalization on your site?

First, take a look at the content on each page. Wherever possible, combine the information from both pages into a single post to boost search rankings and increase authority.

In the case of our shingle company, for example, it’s worth combining the “most costly” and “least expensive” shingle pages into a single post that targets the “roof shingle prices” keyword. If there are particular aspects of low-cost or high-priced shingles that could help customers make their decision, create new posts with new keywords, and link to them in the original post.

In other cases, you may find that older posts on your site are still ranking highly thanks to targeted keyword use but are no longer relevant to your company’s product line or service offering. Here, it’s a good idea to integrate any useful data from older posts into newer content and then delete the original, in turn allowing search engines to rank up your most relevant post.

Worth noting? As with anything in SEO, there are exceptions to the keyword cannibalization rule.

For example, if you have two posts with the same keyword that are both highly ranked and their ranking position isn’t fluctuating, there’s no need to combine them.

If competitors’ pages start to rank higher, however, or if your top-ranked page stops delivering sustained click-through rates, this could indicate the need for action.

Keyword Cannibalization Checker Tools

While keeping a spreadsheet of page URLs, metadata, and keyword use can help reduce the risk of unintentional cannibalization, this becomes prohibitively complex as sites scale up.

Consider an ecommerce site that sells multiple types of winter jackets — with a product page for each jacket, category pages for each jacket type, and blog posts around jacket care, storage, and repair, it’s easy for keywords to overlap and SERP to suffer.

Keyword cannibalization checker tools can help streamline this process and reduce the risk of missing a potential keyword problem. Some popular options include:

1. Keylogs Keyword Cannibalization Checker

The Keylogs Cannibalization Checker offers a free trial — simply log in with a Google account that’s connected to your website(s) and the Checker does the rest.

You’ll get results about any pages on your site that are competing for the same ranked keyword along with strategies to resolve the issue. Worth noting? The free tier of this tool only tracks three keywords across one site. Paid plans are required for multiple sites and unlimited keyword tracking.

2. SEMrush Position Tracking Tool

SEMrush is a popular SEO tracking and monitoring toolset. With a paid plan, site owners have access to a Cannibalization report within the SEMrush Position Tracking Tool, which provides a cannibalization score for the keywords entered.

A 100% score means no cannibalization has been detected — lower scores indicate potential problems and will specify both affected keywords and cannibal pages.

3. Google Search Console

Using the performance report section of Google Search Console lets you view the queries that have earned your site impressions and clicks from Google searches.

Drill down into these queries with the “pages” tab to see a list of URLs that rank for specific keywords and queries — if you see more than one URL from your site listed for the same keyword, you may have a cannibalization issue.

4. SEOScout Cannibalization Checker

SEOScout’s Cannibalization Checker offers an alternative to managing keyword spreadsheets. Simply create an account for a 7-day free trial, enter your site’s domain and the tool will create a report detailing any duplicate keyword rankings, allowing you to quickly track down and eliminate cannibal content.

5. Moz Keyword Explorer

The Moz Keyword Explorer lets you find ranking keywords, determine page ranking positions, and make decisions about which pages to keep and which ones need to be reworked or eliminated. Moz also makes it easy to download CSV spreadsheet files which can then be analyzed offline for duplicate keyword listings.

Staying Aware of Keyword Cannibalization

For site owners and admins, cannibal keyword content is problematic — multiple URLs ranking for the same keyword can negatively impact page authority, frustrate potential customers, and reduce SERPs.

Solve for keyword cannibalization by finding duplicate keyword use, then combining or deleting content as needed to ensure your most relevant content earns the highest SERP placement with popular search engines.

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Unlock actionable tactics to measure search marketing success

Join us online SMX Report, February 23, 2021.

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Google Search Console brings back request indexing tool

After 69 days of it not working, it is now back up and running.

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Align Your B2B Digital Marketing Strategy With The Sales Team

One B2B paid media pro reflects on all of the important questions to ask your Sales and Marketing teams to drive alignment and improve paid media performance.

Read more at PPCHero.com

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Seven essential enterprise SEO skills to master in 2021

30-second summary:

  • SEO holds the keys to digital success.
  • Managing SEO across large enterprises or multiple sites requires many skills.
  • SEO can be time-consuming and gets increasingly harder by the day.
  • A combination of talent and technology is needed for Enterprise SEO success.

From a global pandemic to the continuing economic, environmental, and leadership crises we’ve seen throughout 2020, brands are being challenged now to rise up and rethink ‘business as usual’. Unprecedented shifts in consumer expectations and behavior, placing digital convenience and personalization at the top of the must-have list, present an opportunity unseen to date for those who can master enterprise SEO skills to deliver for increasingly demanding consumers and clients.

As we head into 2021, the importance of SEO as part of a comprehensive marketing strategy cannot be understated. SEO holds the keys to digital success; from the insights and context, it delivers to the content it optimizes and the results it facilitates. SEO is the most viable and cost-effective channel for enterprises today.

One quick note on the term ‘enterprise SEO’ before we dig in. Enterprise SEO pertains to large companies with complex organizational structures and various lines of business and products, and that is the most common definition of it. Yet enterprise SEO may be practiced by smaller companies and agencies, as well—particularly those managing large or multiple sites. It’s a common misconception that size is a prerequisite for enterprise SEO success. At its core, enterprise SEO is the management of digital campaigns (search and content) holistically. A platform of integrated tools and features, including monetary, productivity and customer relationship management, enterprise SEO platforms take digital strategy from the page to the personal – and what business couldn’t benefit from that?

Organizations of all sizes can leverage enterprise SEO to deliver meaningful, personalized experiences to their customers in real-time. Managing SEO across large enterprises or multiple sites requires many skills, and for those new to the world of enterprise SEO deciding which skills to focus on first can seem a daunting task. But an innovative, technologically-savvy SEO knows there’s always room to grow.

As the ongoing evolution of SEO fuels careers (and creativity), this developing industry presents endless learning opportunities. Here are seven essential skills for SEO success in 2021.

1. Industry and market-specific knowledge

Whether your agency-side or in-house, the depth, and breadth of your knowledge about the industry determine how you interpret the data SEO and analytics tools provide. In short, enterprise SEO strategies are only as good as the thinking behind them.

AI-powered technology can help deepen your knowledge and understanding of the company’s place in the market, particularly its place in SERPs. But truly keeping ahead of the curve means understanding what your customers need and want, then translating that industry and market-specific knowledge into action supported by SEO. There really is no one-size-fits-all approach. The more you know about your industry and target market, the better equipped you’ll be to leverage searcher intent as the driving force behind your SEO strategy, delivering the right resources to satisfy consumer curiosities and secure sales.

2. Data-driven digital awareness

SEOs must understand the comprehensive digital marketing ecosystem and where SEO fits in. Data-driven digital awareness enables you to collaborate and strategize with the wider marketing and communications teams including paid search, social media and community managers, copywriters, and producers, and provide real value. How you continually support one another from insight sharing to process optimization is the key to holistic digital marketing.

Data-driven digital awareness can support ongoing ideation and optimization, allowing businesses to maximize spend and execute pivots to plans in real-time. Once we understand that set-and-forget strategies simply no longer meet the need, the question becomes simply where to start.

Consider for a moment your content marketing strategy. Designed to engage consumers and answer questions at each stage of the buying process, ultimately earning the consumers business, it’s only as good as the insights behind it. With the right collaboration and reporting support, the types of content your team develops can evolve to meet and exceed your customers’ expectations. What’s more, AI can help drive dynamic content optimizations that meet each customer’s needs in real-time.

Keen awareness combined with the right data and analysis can help you to connect and remain engaged with prospects, saving time, and directing resources more efficiently.

3. Multi-tasking and big picture thinking

SEOs wear a number of hats. It’s important that you understand what’s going on at other points of the customer journey and have that big picture view of what each person and channel is doing to support content discoverability, engagement, and conversion.

Take a step back and think about cross-departmental collaboration, from sales to service and everything in between—how often are you coming together (virtually or otherwise) to ideate and strategize? As consumers are increasingly demanding more from the companies they choose to do business with, seamless experience is key, and that demands collaboration across teams. Your ability to see the bigger picture and map the customer journey, understanding pain points, and optimizing experience along the way, will set you apart from the pack.

Be curious, ask questions of your colleagues, and think outside the box in terms of the sorts of solutions SEO can help to support. You’re only limited by your imagination.

4. Technical proficiency

Knowing how, why, and when to utilize technology and automation is key. Technology isn’t just about automating certain tasks; it has the power to dramatically impact the customer experience.

More than simply moving consumers through a generic funnel approach, for example, once equipped with the right knowledge—from demographics to buyer traits and behaviors—and the right technical expertise, a savvy enterprise SEO can leverage the technology to deliver on market opportunities by triggering meaningful real-time personalized experiences for consumers. Technical proficiency alone isn’t enough but combining your skills with strategic thinking and the right vision can provide incredible value.

5. Management skills

How skilled are you at inspiring, motivating, and building up those around you?

As an enterprise SEO, you’re dealing with multiple stakeholders at every level. It is critical that you understand and play well within the organizational hierarchy so you’re able to advocate for SEO, win buy-in for SEO initiatives, defend budgets, and generally communicate the importance of this incredible tool.

Being a leader means cross-functional collaboration. Now more than ever before, SEO has an opportunity to step in and lead by providing insights and analysis to inform the customer, and indeed employee, experience.

6. Excellent communication skills

Throughout the enterprise, communication skills are key. You need to be just as comfortable in the boardroom as in conversations with engineers and developers. Strong communication skills, and an understanding of your audiences and their priorities, are critical to delivering engaging presentations, market research, and background data.

From brand reputation to pay-per-click monitoring and management, SEOs who keep optimization of results top of mind and provide insightful and easy to understand reporting are communicators to learn from. Keep it simple, harness the data and insights SEO provides, and share your knowledge with the wider organization every chance you get.

7. Multimedia skills

You don’t have to be a writer by day and a video editor by night, but a top enterprise SEO needs to know how great content comes together whether that’s in video, graphic, text or another format. You may be responsible for managing teams of creatives or outsourcing content creation, so you need to know what you’re asking of people, how much it should cost, and how to evaluate and improve upon it.

Combining your data and insights with an understanding of each of the components of the digital marketing mix – and the creative that supports them – goes a long way in managing workflows and resource allocation. Once you have a multimedia foundation, your insights can help to ensure that your creative team is driving prospective clients to your website, and engaging those prospects in conversation, in the most efficient way.

Talent + Technology = Winning SEO Strategy

As the world continues to adapt and shift consumers will increasingly prioritize convenience while craving seamless and personalized experiences from the companies they choose to have relationships with. Ultimately, it’s about leveraging the right data to serve up the right offers to the right people, in the right places, at the right time.

SEO is time-consuming and gets increasingly harder by the day. SEO’s can use an average of 6 tools cobbled together and 4 hours a day on research, reporting, and analysis.

Smart SEOs look to platforms that can save them time on research, reporting, and analysis. This makes it easier for them to find the time to actually make the most important SEO changes and drive strategy.

Enterprise SEO is the best way to deliver the digital experience consumers now demand, and with these seven essential enterprise SEO skills in your toolbox, you’ll be well-positioned to identify opportunities and deliver business results for your clients.

Jim Yu is the founder and CEO of BrightEdge, the leading enterprise SEO and content performance platform.

The post Seven essential enterprise SEO skills to master in 2021 appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Reblogged 1 year ago from www.searchenginewatch.com

Ring in the New Year with Free, Animated Email Templates

So much time and energy goes into strategizing, planning, and executing Black Friday, Cyber Monday, and holiday email promotions. But have you thought about what happens when the gifts are wrapped and shopping is done?

Well, the holidays aren’t quite over just yet. The New Year celebration brings yet another new opportunity to meet your year-end sales goals. 

Plus, running a New Year email campaign can be a great way to connect with your customers and thank them for their patronage this year. 

To help you save time this holiday season, AWeber’s design team created email templates with a bit of extra sparkle just for your New Year’s email campaigns. Plus, they’re  animated!

Log in to your AWeber account — or get started with a free AWeber account today — to access the templates. 

Examples of New Year’s Email Newsletters 

Animated Seasons Greetings

Animation is eye-catching, particularly when combined with fresh, simple graphics. The shimmering tree animation is simple but effective without being overly distracting from your message.

Seasons Greeting email templates with animated snow.
The “Seasons Greetings” template is located in the template gallery under Holiday

Animated Happy New Year’s

The confetti animation is guaranteed to bring a smile to your subscribers’ faces. In this template, there are two different design options to select from with different font treatments and icon options. Choose whichever version works for your brand. 

Happy New Year’s Fireworks

If animation isn’t your thing, don’t fret. Sometimes, your audience prefers simpler email design (remember to A/B test your messages to uncover what content your audience loves!) 

The New Year’s fireworks email complements a clean and crisp, uncluttered layout with eye-catching graphics that will get your reader’s attention.

Happy New Years firework template
The “New Years” template is located in the template gallery under Holiday

Rooftop Merry Christmas & Happy New Year

It’s not too late to send a holiday message to your audience. The “Wishing You a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year” email template series is festive enough to work for both holidays.  There are two color variations to choose from depending on your preferred color palette. 

Get your New Year’s email ready today!

New Year’s emails can be full of glitz and confetti or just a simple, genuine seasonal greeting.  A New Year’s email campaign is a perfect opportunity to connect to your audience, offer a special end of year discount,  and share how much their support has meant to you and your business.

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