The Future of Search

Voice search: the future of SERPs?

If you think voice search is just a gimmick, think again. According to the Comscore, half of all online searches will be made through voice in 2020.

So, with the use of voice search on the rise, now is the time to lay foundations for a strong voice search strategy.

What is Voice Search?

Voice Search is a tool that allows users to search through speech rather than by typing a query on a desktop or mobile device. As the trend for voice search increases, queries must adapt to reflect the style of language used for voice search.

How to Optimise for Voice Search

Voice Search is more conversational and natural than searches made by typing in one or two keywords. So, whilst a user might search for ‘best restaurant in Manchester’ using google on their desktop, they’re more likely to a ask this as a question – ‘which are the best restaurants in Manchester?’ when conducting a voice search. This means that voice search queries are longer than typical keyword search queries.

Target conversational search terms

To optimise for this change in search queries, businesses should target more long-tail keywords on their websites. When carrying out keyword research, it is important to consider more conversational search terms and to think about how people talk and ask questions. Think about the questions that customers ask when they call your business and make a note of the queries that you receive. If there are common queries then it would be useful to start targeting them on the website for your business by creating articles in the blog section with the long-tail keyword being the main focus.

Featured Snippets

It is common for a business to focus on ranking first in the search results, however, this can be very difficult to achieve in a competitive market. Aiming to answer long-tail keywords within your content will also help to obtain a Featured Snippet. Additionally, making small changes such as stating and answering a question consicely, including bullet points and tables will help to gain a feature snippet for a given search query. This can be more valuable than ranking first as this content will be above every other search result. 

Create FAQ pages

Most businesses have FAQs pages on their website – which is great news. FAQs pages are a strong way to target conversational terms that are likely to be popular voice searches. And they’re really easy to set up. Try focusing on question words such as Where, How and What as to target relevant question-based searches. What do does the business do? What are the main opening hours? A sports clothing retailer might sell running trainers and these pages could have an FAQ section where common questions can be answered. But don’t just stick to questions directly related to your business – branch out to common queries. For example, Search terms such as ‘What are the best running trainers for wet weather’ can be targeted along with a list of recommendations.

Did you know: Cedarwood Digital offers Search Engine Optimisation designed to make your website convert. View our full list of SEO services here.

Google Screenshot SERPS

Featured Snippets in 2020: Everything You Need To Know

The pursuit of featured snippets is well-practised across the SEO industry and has helped to shape onsite content development in recent years. This guide will run through the latest developments surrounding featured snippets, most notably touching on Google’s January algorithm update and whether pursuing a featured snippet is the best use of your (or your agencies) time. Here’s a quick snippet of what we’ll run through:

  • What is a Featured Snippet?
  • Benefits of a Featured Snippet in 2020?
  • How do I get a Featured Snippet?
  • How can I opt-out of a Featured Snippet?

What is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a Google search engine result that appears when Google deems a snippet of information to be helpful in response to a certain search query. Often referred to as ‘position 0’, A featured snippet provides the user with information at the top of the organic results, without the need to visit a website to satisfy their query. This information is pulled from web search listings and can appear in three different formats: Paragraph, List and Table snippets. SEJ (2017) reported that paragraph snippets are by far the most common type of snippet, with 81% of featured snippets pulling through as a paragraph snippet. See an example of a paragraph snippet below:

Benefits of a Featured Snippet in 2020?

The measurable benefits of a featured snippet have somewhat changed in recent months since Google’s update. Before January, it was possible for a website to rank organically in position #1, whilst additionally holding ownership of a featured snippet in position #0. This was, in some sense, the crème de la crème of organic search optimisation, as a single domain could dominate the SERPs for a given search term.

In January, Danny Sullivan announced that there will no longer be duplication of search results. If a web page listing appears as a featured snippet, then its organic position is relocated off the first page.

As you may expect, this came as a huge surprise and was met with an extremely mixed response in the SEO industry. Although there is a variety of reported statistics on the benefits of a featured snippet, it’s generally accepted that having a featured snippet is beneficial for capturing search traffic. However, an alternative argument is that Google is transitioning to keeping people on the SERPs for longer. They can use snippets to answer voice searches on smart devices, as well as answer queries to questions without the user ever visiting the web page that’s providing the answer. Some may say that this relationship works in harmony, Google uses your snippet and you appear at the top of the SERPs. You both benefit, correct?

For many in the SEO industry, there is a fear that by having no organic presence on the first page, outside of the featured snippet, it would negate all of the hard work put in to achieve an organic #1 – such as years of link acquisition practices. Google’s take on the matter is that you would have an organic presence – it’s the featured snippet!

Irrelevant of the disagreements, it appears as though Google are steadfast in their transition so it’s now a waiting game to see how organic click-through may change over time. Many are now looking to opt-out of allowing their data to pull through as a featured snippet to favour the strategy of ranking organically as a standard web listing. We’ve detailed how to opt-out in our section below: How can I opt-out of a Featured Snippet?

How Do I Get A Featured Snippet?

The acquisition of a featured snippet can be a difficult process, as there are several factors that likely go into securing a snippet. However, we’ve outlined a few tips that we’ve picked up along the way:

  • One of the key factors is your current organic ranking. Although there is a range of different speculated assumptions as to where you need to be positioned, it’s fair to say you need to be on the first page of search results – #1-10 – in order to pull through as a featured snippet.

  • Follow the best practice of the current snippet owner! If the snippet is a list snippet, ensure that the content that you’re trying to rank is in a list format and is eligible to be pulled through as a list with the relevant tag in place (<li>).

  • Answer the question. Google is constantly tweaking the SERPs to match results for relevance. We’ve had circumstances whereby a very small tweak in content has secured us the snippet. An interesting report from Moz (2019) suggested that if the snippet is constantly changing, then Google may be testing several links to find the most relevant answer to a search query.

Acquiring a featured snippet can take time. As there are so many factors that will go into which result works for the snippet, it’s sometimes difficult to know where to allocate resource. One way this can be managed is by focusing time on long-tail search terms with a healthy search volume. From there, analyse the current snippet owner (if there is one!) and see whether you think it answers the query well.

Additionally, the snippet owners domain rating and link profile will also factor into the equation. We’ve found that competing with domains such as Wikipedia can be an extremely difficult process and poor allocation of your time. Instead, focus on snippets where you genuinely believe that your content is better suited. Focused on answering the question and matching the users intent, whilst playing the format game that Google is using as a part of their relevance matching process.

How can I opt-out of a Featured Snippet?

As mentioned above, some in the SEO industry are choosing to remove the ability for their content to be pulled through as a featured snippet. This is easily done by using a ‘data-nosnippet’ tag. For example:

<p> This content can be pulled through to the SERPs

<span data-nosnippet> Whereas this content cannot. </span></p>

Why Are Links Important For SEO

Why are links important for SEO, and how can I get them?

If you’re in the digital marketing world, you’ve undoubtedly heard that getting backlinks from other websites is crucial for SEO. It’s important to utilise anything that can help to boost your website’s search ranking, so we’ll shed some light on why links are so important and teach you how to build them yourself.

Why are links important for SEO?

Building backlinks to your website (getting other websites to link back to yours) sends out a trust signal to Google that your website has good authority, and therefore should be ranked higher. However, this depends on the type and quality of the website that posts the link. Essentially, if a quality website which Google trusts links back to your site, Google determines that you too are a quality website, so should be ranked higher. You can work out the quality of a website by checking its domain rating on websites such as Ahrefs or Moz: the higher score the better.

However, Google can also penalise for backlinks which it sees as unnatural. For example, spamming forums, creating tonnes of directory listings, paying bloggers on fiver to link to your website are unnatural ways to build links, which in turn will lower your position on Google. It is far better for SEO to secure a few strong links a month than to build hundreds of low-quality backlinks in a short space of time.

Hence, you should always ensure that links have a natural connection to your business, which you can achieve with the following techniques.

Brand reclamation

 

It’s always great exposure when a publisher features your brand in their article, though sometimes they will mention a brand without linking back to the brand’s website. Whilst this can be frustrating, it’s easy to maximise this opportunity and secure a link from a high-quality website. Most of the hard work has already been done because a journalist has already noticed and written about your brand. Simply drop them an email thanking them for featuring your business and request a link to your website be added to the page in case their readers want to find out more.

Tracking brand mentions online is very easy to set up so that you don’t miss these opportunities. There are several web-monitoring tools that help you do this, such as Google Alerts (free), Ahrefs alerts and Gorkana. Some publications may have editorial policies not to include external links, but it’s always best to email and check.

Media tools

 

Now that GDPR is in place, media databases with opted-in contact details of journalists are more important than ever for sourcing good quality PR opportunities and contacts. There are a variety of tools you can pay for, as well as free databases that scrape public email addresses from across the web.

One relatively cost-effective way to find feature opportunities is through journalist alerts. These are email alerts that journalists send out to source contacts or information for the features that they are writing. You can then respond to queries that are relevant to your brand, offering information, images, product reviews or quotes. Not only do these tools allow you to effectively build links in a natural way, but they also allow you to develop relationships with key journalists in your market without the need of a pricey media database. Building your own database of journalists that you have successfully worked with makes it easier to work with them again in the future, as you can either contact them with valuable content or they may contact you with relevant upcoming features to you.

Local links

 

Big-budget content campaigns can bring in a lot of high quality links, but exploring your local link opportunities can also be a good cost-effective way to build links on a smaller scale. Investigate whether you have any current connections that you could source a link from. Is your Managing Director an alumni of a prestigious university? If so, perhaps they could make a donation or share their business expertise on their website. Is there a local charity you could work with? Or a local group linked to your industry? Explore current connections that your staff and management have to see if there are any natural links that could be secured by sending an email.

Competitor analysis

 

If a key competitor outranks you for several of your keywords, performing an analysis of where their links are coming from is a great way to see what kind of outreach work they are undertaking. Tools such as Ahrefs enable you to identify which publications your competitors are receiving links from, as well as spark ideas for potential outreach content.

Are there any high quality review websites that your competitor has a link on? If they do and your brand doesn’t, then this can be an area to explore. Do they have any links from high quality bloggers? Again, if they do then you can contact the blogger who wrote the article to introduce your brand and highlight what you can offer them, should they be planning any articles which you could contribute to.

 

Looking for more tips on outreach and link building? Check out these easy-to-action tips we picked up at Brighton SEO in how to secure links for your website.

5 simple lead generation ideas

5 simple lead generation ideas

At Cedarwood Digital, we tend to generate most leads for our clients through Google Ads and custom lead capture landing pages. However, there are many other simple ways that we have utilised to successfully generate leads: here are our top 5 recommendations.

Create engaging content

Relevant and engaging content in this digital age remains the best way to get someone’s attention and bring them to your website. What makes content engaging, you may ask? Check out tools like buzzsumo.com or ahrefs.com which show the most shared pieces of content in your field that have gone viral, and get some inspiration from there. 

The golden rule for any piece of content, according to entrepreneur Gary Vaynerchuk, is to give value to the reader. Forget about trying to sell your stuff. Put out great content and expect nothing in return. By providing valuable content you establish readers trust in your expertise. This lays a foundation that can lead to a conversation about your product or services.

Don’t hesitate to give a lot of value: research shows that posts with 2,400 words get shared the most.

Also, don’t forget to add share buttons, like these…

Create “how to” videos

Youtube is the fastest growing online platform by engagement rate, and online video viewership surpassed TV viewership in 2017. More and more people are looking for the right videos to solve their problems. Search queries containing “how to” are growing 33% annually. This creates an ample opportunity to create video content, ranging from how to create pivot tables in Excel, to how to paint your ceiling.

You should really think about what expertise you have that could solve a problem for your customers. Again, this is giving unconditional value to build your credibility. As a result of watching your video, a prospect could visit your site and get in touch with you.

Use customer reviews

If you are providing an online platform, no matter how big or small, make sure that you sign up to online review platforms like TrustRadius.com or G2Crowd.com. These reviews will massively boost the visibility and authority of your products and services. Review sites such as these usually have a high rank for many software comparison searches. Backlinks from these sites are also very valuable in terms of SEO.

References and referrals are one of the key aspects that influence buying decisions between two similar products. If you ask your happiest clients to contribute to these platforms it will go a long way in terms of building credibility, and prominence of reviews on these platforms has the potential to bring you inbound leads.

Add a quiz or estimate calculator to your website

If you get users to your website, it would then be of value to have an interactive tool available. There you could ask them a few questions and dependent on the subject area, provide them with an answer which will be of interest or value to them. For example, on our website, we have an Ad Spend ROI calculator. Users will enter their industry and monthly ad budget to get an estimate of a number of leads generated. This is a great way to capture prospect emails and generate engagement, literally.

Another example is the lead capture form on Airsorted, a service for Airbnb hosts. On their website, users need to enter their postcode and number of bedrooms to get an estimate of much money their property could earn on Airbnb, whilst providing useful information for the business. 

 

Host a webinar

Finally, online webinars are a quick and easy way to communicate with prospects, customers and employees Pick a topic that is relevant to your industry and find the best expert within your company or among your clients. Set a specific date and time, and create an event landing page with a simple lead capture form.

Promote the webinar everywhere you can – Linkedin Ads are great for this, because you can place them in front of the most relevant audiences. As you get signups, remember to send reminders both before and after the event. Furthermore, it gives your sales team an reason to get in touch with those prospects and engage in conversation.

Find more lead generation advice over on our blog.

Google Update Septemebr 2018

Google birthday update: has your site been affected?

Google has confirmed that a small algorithm update occurred on the 27th September to coincide with Google’s birthday. It has been described as being smaller than the update that took place in August, as experts report that it has not impacted as many websites as the August update.

It is important to be aware of and monitor Google Algorithm updates because they can lead to significant changes in traffic levels.

How do I check if my site has been affected?

Tracking tools such as SEM Rush help to identify if traffic levels have seen a positive or negative change. If no change is identified, then It is also possible that this recent update hasn’t had any impact on your website – which can only be seen as a positive.

As always, there are varying opinions on the impact of the update. Several industry experts are questioning whether this update has been a reversal of the “Medic” algorithm update that occurred in August, as some websites have experienced positive impacts.

 

Did you know: Cedarwood Digital offers Search Engine Optimisation designed to make your website convert. View our full list of SEO services here

10 Outreach Tips From Brighton SEO 2018

10 Outreach tips from Brighton SEO 2018

On 28th September, the Cedarwood Digital team travelled south to attend Brighton SEO, a huge one-day search marketing conference.

Here are 10 outreach tips that we picked up during the day:

Broken backlinks

Whilst many companies are familiar with fixing backlinks to their own websites, now is the time to start taking advantage of competitors’ backlinks. Screaming Frog, a website crawling tool, allows companies to find any inbound links to a competitors website that result in a 404 error. Once these have been identified, outreach teams can contact the journalist who published the article to suggest that they link to their company’s website instead. If the article contains content that the company’s website doesn’t currently have, then create this content first and then pitch it to the journalist alongside a link to the content.

Laura Hogan – Use Your Competitors For Freeeeee Links 

Reverse image search

This may be an old technique, but it is still useful for identifying new link opportunities. Find a graphic or image that a competitor had featured in national publications and then use this in a Google image search. This will show the websites that covered that graphic and the context that it was used in. Then work on creating a graphic with updated information on it and contact the publications to see if they would be interested in your material.

Laura Hogan – Use Your Competitors For Freeeeee Links 

Hashtags

Take a competitors URLs and paste it into a link tool such as AHREFS or Majestic and then identify their new backlinks. If there any hashtags in the articles they have recently received links from then make a note of these and simply Google these hashtags. This is a great way to find out which bloggers have worked with a competitor which gives an indication of the articles that they publish.

Laura Hogan – Use Your Competitors For Freeeeee Links 

Backlink analysis

A backlink analysis is a great way to understand where a competitor has been recently securing links – for example, using the SEM Rush gap analysis tool. This will not only show the domains that are linking to your competitor, but also exactly where the link is and its context. It is likely that your competitor has a large number of backlinks in their profile so it is recommended to compile a list of around 15 top opportunities to start with and then build this list up in stages.

Laura Hogan – Use Your Competitors For Freeeeee Links 

Set up alerts

Set up Google or Ahrefs alerts for your business and then set up alerts for your competitors. This will tell you when your competitors are being mentioned online, meaning that you can see if they are receiving links from high authority websites.

Laura Hogan – Use Your Competitors For Freeeeee Links 

News & media jumping

This is a technique that is used on Twitter by those who work in PR and it involves using a set of hashtags to request specific information. These hashtags are #PRRequest and #JournoRequest and journalists often use these when they are are trying to find someone to comment or interview for a story or feature. Sign up for email alerts so that you don’t miss out on a potential opportunity.

Charlie Marchant – Ways To Definitely Get Links For Your Business

Trade & industry publications

Industry-specific publications are always on the lookout for relevant content so use them as part of your outreach strategy. If you have any content that you would like to share that would be useful to others in your industry, then pitch this to relevant journalists. It is likely that the publication operates in print as well as online then this could also lead to some fantastic exposure for your business.

Charlie Marchant – Ways To Definitely Get Links For Your Business

Secure links before you produce the content

Time is very important and every second of an outreach campaign counts, so try to secure a link before you have produced the content. If you have an idea for a piece of content or infographic, check first that this is of interest to your target publications. You can find out by pitching your idea to journalists and writers to get their feedback. If you are able to compile a small list of publications that would be willing to use your content with a guaranteed link then you can go ahead and make the content.

Stacy MacNaught – Securing Links Before You’ve Even Produced Your Content

Surveys

If you want to create content or a press release on a certain topic that requires the public opinion, then try surveys. Google Surveys allow users to gather information in a short space of time, whilst Survey Monkey allows you to collect a large pool of data. Analyse this data, collate your findings and write them up into an interesting piece of content.

Charlie Marchant – Ways To Definitely Get Links For Your Business

Data outreach

If you have a content idea that requires data and statistics from reputable sources, then try government bodies. The  Office For National Statistics (ONS) and Freedom Of Information Requests are great for getting reputable data from government departments, such as the police force or the department for education. There are already requests available that other users have submitted but you can submit your own.

Charlie Marchant – Ways To Definitely Get Links For Your Business

So if you work as part of an outreach team and have been struggling for campaign ideas, then try some of these outreach tips to ramp up your link-building strategy.

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