SEMcamp 2013 review (part 1)

On May 11,2013 inKyiv was held the SEMCamp SEO seminar on important SEO and Internet marketing questions on the Western markets. On this online marketing seminar the ways of surviving in conditions of new aggressive Google algorithms were discussed, as well as how to estimate the benefit from the SEO and how to choose right content marketing strategy for business.

Roman Dobronovsky told about the future of SEO

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Roman specified the current situation to start with. Google is still the search leader. That is why all said had respect to Google primarily, and that was the search engine to be oriented. 

Google rolls out about 500 algorithms updates annually, but the majority of those updates are hardly noticed by users. Most users notice the changes only if there are any considerable changes in search engine results pages, interface changes, or content updates. As for the SEO analysts, they notice if there are any changes when a website looses positions. Two major recent updates may stand out among others. These are Google Panda (targeted at poor content) and Google Penguin (targeted at link spam).

The main target of all Google search algorithms updates is the quality of organic results and fighting with link and content spam. But is it really that? According to official data 97% of Goggle’s revenue comes from advertising. Daily Google income is about 100 million dollars. Only in the first quarter of this year Google earned 15,7% more that in the year-earlier period. At the same time cost per click decreased by 4%.

Google is a commercial company targeted at earning money and the main channel of its revenue is advertising. To get things stay like this Google has to attract as many advertisers as possible. The method of attracting new advertisers looks like this: a new update is rolled out, some changes occur, sites incur sharp loses of positions in SERPs, SEO analysts are terrified, organic traffic decreases as well, and so Google gets new advertisers.

So, where are we going and what to do about this? The main directions for the development of Google search engine are:

• localization;

• mobilization;

• partial reduction of the role of inbound  links;

• socialization;

• personalization;

• and reliance on semantics.

SEO is not going to die. Search engine optimization may be modified but there are not going to be any significant changes, except perhaps local search – some links will loose their weight, and some factors may be changed.

The role of anchors texts will get reduced. First of all we may say this from the last year Penguin update. It may be seen on a diagram below that the algorithm mostly hit the websites with high percentage of anchor text matching keywords in their link mass.

That is why we may say that Penguin was just the first step, and the role of anchors as a significant factor influencing the ranking will decrease even more.

As an example, here are the microsoft.com anchors texts and what they should be like to avoid search engines’ penalty: “here”, “get Microsoft silverlight”, “download”, “click here”, “hier”.

But we are still going to have important ranking factors and these are supposed to be – mentions. For example, there is a mobile phone review on Nokia, without a link, just a text. Or a text link is given, not in html code (without <а hrеf=“…>). Or the instrument may be mentioned without a link being provided to a company site (for example, in an article about link analyzing Open Site Explorer tool may be mentioned and SEOmoz website is not mentioned at all). In the nearest several years the role of backlinks will still be significant but in the end this niche will be occupied by mentions.

The main factor that helps search engines to understand pages and what are they about is keywords: keywords in texts, keywords in titles, keywords in anchors texts. All these factors can be manipulated by webmasters to improve positions on SERPs. And Google strives to reduce the human factor role.

Traditional search process completely depends on queries. But things are going to semantic search.

Semantic search seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results. For example, Paris is a city in France, and Paris is the place where the Louvre is located. For the moment crawlers do not understand this. But this needs to be achieved for a variety of causes. If Google starts quickly understand that Paris is searched as a city, and the location of Paris in France is meant – the search engine will be able to process the request almost in real-time mode. First of all it is really important from the resource saving point of view. Moving from keywords search to semantic search is performed in different ways. For example, with the help of microformats.

Also, Google has lately got better in understanding synonyms.

 

Optimization for the certain queries will be pointless in the nearest time: synonyms will be as well efficient as exact match keywords. This will save SEO experts a lot of time and efforts. Synonyms in texts will be advisable and even obligatory in order to avoid search engine penalties.

Google started handling typical requests starting with “How to…”, “How can…”, “Meaning of…”, etc. really good. Practical conclusions are that a text (and a page) should answer certain question, ideally the more specialized –the better. And secondly, experts will have to focus on certain questions, but not certain keywords. Extended descriptions and microformats improve CTR, and in prospect will positively influence ranking. So we can draw a conclusion that in many niches to be ranked well by queries one will necessarily need expand descriptions and microformats being applied (but this will hardly be an official requirement).

And one more important moment Google slowly moves to is Author Rank, authorship as important ranking factor. Google allows authorizing the content with the help of Google+. This option doesn’t cope with its task for the moment because it is not possible to protect the content in this way or to prove the authorship. But there are steps taken in this directions so we may assume the reputation of an author’s profile in Google+ or the number of friends may influence the ranking in the future. Authorization with the help of Google+ is supposed to be a reliable tool to indicate the original source. So one more conclusion – one need to associate the content with an author or a company.

And the last but not the least is Knowledge Graph, which provides information without going to a site. Initially, search engine was supposed to provide a link to a site and a user was supposed to click that link to go to a site. But Google advertising model suggests that theoretically a user must stay on the site as long as possible and click ads from time to time. First of all this will have respect to content projects: Knowledge Graph will steal the significant part of traffic from those sites. This will influence new media resources, resources providing information on people research, and others.

The current situation can be called a turning point. There are supposed to occur great changes in search, and so in SEO. The model with keywords working starting from 2002 slowly dies. Links will still be the ranking factor, but anchor text matching keywords will not; mentions will play the role that was previously played by anchors. And the most important point – those who do not work hard now on semantic core loose the time and positions in the future. The future of the search lies with synonyms and webmasters can start taking the right steps right away.

Question: Don’t you think that if semantic search is put into effect it kills new sites that appear? Commercial queries will be used for advertising and informational ones will be covered by Knowledge Graph.

Roman Dobronovsky: Yes, there is such risk. Owners of website need users to come to their sites and Google doesn’t want users to come there. For example, this may be noticeable for news sites.

Informational sites do not pamper Google by marking yet. That is why there not going to be much trouble in the nearest couple of years. But eventually, this is going to be a trouble.

Question: About mentions. For example, there are several models of Nokia. Links point to different pages. Will Google consider the query density on a page?

Roman Dobronovsky: Keywords density is a secondary factor even now. If you need to mention a certain model – mention it, just don’t overdo. Eventually, Google will learn recognize such spam.

Question: On the one hand, Google fights with user’s influence. On the other hand, Google needs sites to be interesting. Microformats are a human factor.

Roman Dobronovsky: Yes, influence but not spam. If you provide untruthful information Google learn how to figure this out, sooner or later.

Question: How strong is the influence of text links or mentions on SERPs? And what we need to focus on – mentions, or are those mentions just an important addition to links when it comes to link mass “nationalization”?

Roman Dobronovsky: In this case mentions are not links at all within the traditional meaning. These are links without a code. If you use now only them this will not much influence ranking at a go. We talk about the future, the nearest future. A link without anchor plays great role and a mention tells what the information on a site is about. Mentions will play the role of anchors but not directly. One may hardly improve the positions with the help of mentions for the moment, but this may be possible in the nearest future.

Question: We talk more and more about big brands. But the main market consists of small and medium businesses.

Roman Dobronovsky: This is the topic of local search. Here Google focuses not on links but more on mentions, for example catalogues. This is how small local companies will work. Customers’ reviews will also work as a ranking factor.

In a second part of the presentation Roman told about local and mobile search segments, about their peculiarities and their employment perspectives.

Previously, two or three years ago, there was a simple division into contextual advertising and organic results – ten organic positions on a page and a couple of advertising blocks. Everything was clear and easy and Internet marketing experts perfectly worked with that system.

Now Google added a world of possibilities in commercial niches for local searches. A lot was changed for contextual advertising, a range of blocks was added, a block of inner search for hotels was added, a block local results added as well. It is not possible to get onto those results by means of traditional techniques, and not possible to buy a place in contextual advertising. 

In majority of English-speaking countries it is not used yet, or is of minimum use. But this is just a matter of time.

As for the SEO, you need to perform queries research for local search, related to corresponding cities. Than you necessarily need to expand that list of local keywords, except of a city you need to specify city districts to be able to promote topical pages.

It is necessary to preliminary check SERPs for different queries; this will help to define the promotion strategy. If the SERP is usual than optimization doesn’t require any delicacy – use geo-referenced keywords for local queries in a title and in a text on a page, local addresses, telephone numbers, links from local catalogues, news sites, etc.

Delicacy begins when it comes to Google Local block. It is necessary to manage Google Local profile. Google integrated Google Places for Business with Google+. And there is no much fun about this. For example, now the feedbacks published on other than Google+ resources are not shown.

You need to register and provide maximum information about you – full name of a company, category, correct address and telephone number, working hours and pictures. And you need to try adding review. One of the Google’s rule forbids stimulating users to leave feedbacks, you may only ask them to do that.

No need to add keywords into a name, if there are no these keywords in the business name initially – this may lead to ban. And this is what significantly distinguishes local optimization from traditional one. Any misleading information may lead to ban.

Roman specified key ranking factors in Google local: physical address in the right city, nearness to a search point, quantity of reviews, quantity and quality of mentions, correct choice of categories.

It is impossible to make one profile multi-regional and be highly ranked in several cities. Physical address of an office is a key factor in ranking. One profile may be created for one city, there are no exceptions. If you do not have physical address in a city there is no result.

It is possible to have positions both in local and organic results while promoting two different pages. You need to specify the main page of a site in Google+, for SEO promote any inner page – Services, for example.

If there are several branches in a city it is advisable to create a profile for each of them. It is important so there would be different data provided for each profile (telephone, e-mail). Matches are extremely undesirable.

If you move and change the address you loose positive weight and mentions, for the moment Google doesn’t provide any tools to keep them.

If to talk about mobile search – 44% of Americans have smartphones, 57% of them search something daily. 20-30% of queries in America are made from mobile devices, and 97% of the mobile advertising belong to Google.

When it comes to mobile optimization the first thing that must be said is that a site necessarily needs a mobile version or responsive design. Responsive design is somehow preferred.

There are some important notes on how this should be made to be made in a right way. First of all the content must coincide: capabilities of desktop and mobile users must not differ. If URLs differ there must be corresponding redirect. It is quite acceptable to redirect mobile users to corresponding version (for example, if the form of m.site.com), and if to do everything correct there will not be any problems with duplicate content. Canonical is used for mobile version.

To be highly ranked for mobile queries quick loading is very important. The site which is loaded slowly will not be good ranked. Google has PageSpeed Insights resource which allows tracking load speed for sites and secondly, provides variety of advices on how to set the structure work in a right way.

Mobile version should be optimized for mobile queries (first of all these are queries with “iPhone”, “iOS”, “iPad”, “mobile”, etc). Check the frequency of mobile searched, it may differ from desktop frequency.

Usual search results circles the drain. Localization and mobilization are already important factors. Without optimization for mobile queries it is impossible to achieve significant results. The key rules for mobile search are: adaptive design, load speed and optimization for corresponding requests.

Anna Korolekh (Promodo) told about what is content marketing for SEO and brand awareness.

Just few years ago content marketing didn’t arouse much interest. The growth in its popularity occurred in 2011, after the Google Panda algorithm was rolled out. After Google Penguin in 2012 when sites were removed from organic results due to copyright abuse claims webmasters came to understanding that content marketing may be really useful.

What is the difference between content marketing and content writing? First off all, the uniqueness of texts is of great importance to crawlers. And we need to readjust to the fact that people but not search robots are on the top of search.

You need to pay your attention to three most important steps while planning content marketing.

First of all, you need to define your goals, to have clear idea of what you want to achieve. The most commonly pursued objectives are: traffic, conversions, sales, brand awareness, establishment of an expert reputation in a particular field.

The second step is to define the target audience, to decide on who we need to attract with content that is created. Those may be housewives, middle management, entrepreneurs, programmers, teenagers and students. The more detailed is the profile of the target audience, the better.

After target audience is defined the third step is to define influence channels. It is necessary to make a list of resources, individuals, bloggers which have the greatest impact on the audience. At first, this list will serve as material for the study of interests, demands, and in the future may be the list of potential partners who can assist in content dissemination.

There exist 7 types of content:

Type #1: opinion articles, advises, guidelines, tips. The purpose of such articles is to describe a certain problem and to explain how to solve it step by step with specific reference.

Type #2: news. This is the most efficient method to attract users’ attention. But there is one “but”: those who have managed to explore the news quicker are the winners.

Type #3: overview articles. In articles like this usually a book is taken, or a tool, and all advantages and disadvantages are honestly described in details. In this case you also have a chance to attract the attentions of a book author, or the developer of a tool and improve the expansion of the content in such a way.

Type #4: cases studies and success stories. The advantage of this kind of content is that you are able to attract users’ attention to a no-name brand with the help of well-known one. Also, everybody loves the success stories, because this is something positive, easy, and clear for anyone. These are ready-made successful ideas that can be put into practice.

Type #5: article rebuttal. This kind of content is rarer because courage is required to create it. An irrepressible conflict or a matter of argument is required to be covered from one side in order to provoke agitation among readers. A perfect example of the topic for such article is: “Why I threw away my iPhone 5 and switched to Android”.

Type #6: regular articles structuring, collecting extracts from the most significant events and publications in a niche. Almost every major publication has such heading. Such content is in great demand because nowadays users have to deal with huge amounts of information every day and so many of them will be grateful to you for structured compressed information.

Type #7: interviews with experts. Ideal speakers are authors of books or some new tools because they will be happy about one more promote opportunity on a new project. That is why you should not hesitate to address to eminent experts.

You are able to make any of the above listed kind of the content even more attractive with the help of design. Instead of the ordinary text post it is better to make a video, infographics, add a podcast, checklist, presentation, guidance for download, or e-book.

Having experimented on different types and forms of content and having decided on what works better, what provides the best efficiency, and what is the easier to generate you need to get back to the list of channels of influence and address to authors and redactors with request to publish your content. Guest blogging is really popular nowadays and there are certain requirements to the posts of third-party authors.

From Promodo experience, infographics and posts on third party resources work well. Infographics are much more popular, they are reposted, and by the way, Google hasn’t invented the algorithm for non-unique pictures yet. 

Webinars work well for the brand awareness. There are also benefits for SEO because mini online events vary the content publishes by sites, videos and presentations are gladly shared in social networking websites. Moreover, webinar transcription may be separated into several articles for the blog. Also, this is ideal variant for B2B sites and outsourcing companies, it helps to establish a contact being at a distance.

To hold the webinar content, presentation, and a speaker are required. It is better when there are several speakers to hold audience and guarantee a greater percentage of interest. About a month is spent on promotion and attracting listeners – promotion in social networking sites, press releases. Also software for webinars is required, for example, Gotomeeting. You can also spend some money on advertising (LinkedIn, Facebook).

Guidelines, files for download work on strengthening brand expert reputation, and moreover leads for marketing and sales are directly generated. The content is required and time on creation may greatly vary. For each file that is downloaded a separate pages is created and promoted by means of PPC. You are going to need software to track the data about those who download files to use that data in the future for marketing and sales.

3 content marketing commandment:

● Do not wait quick results, do, try, test what works better for you;

● Do not think only about yourself and a company, create content abstract from what a company sells, but interesting for target audience;

● Do not ask to buy something at once, apply maximum of self-advertising, give a client time to get used and start trusting you.

The goal of content marketing is not to tell the world about a product but to provide valuable and really useful content until users start trusting and have a desire to buy something.

Marina Ryaschikova (Promodo) told about increase in sales and conversion optimization for online shops.

Analytics is the initial step towards the sales growth. First of all, you need to study and analyze a user if you plan a long-term perspective works.

It is necessary to make a list of questions before starting analysis. What is conversion cost? Users from what countries are the most creditworthy for your niche? What products categories are mostly sold? What products categories bring the greatest part of revenue?

But it is not enough just to receive the answers to these questions. You need also to define the metrics to discover the efficiency of initial site and the works carried out on a site.

Key Performance Indicators (KPIs) for online shop are conversion rate, average bill, bounce rate.

Google Analytics is just a tool that collects the statistics, and the results will directly depend on experience of a specialist who makes the analysis.

To track the conversion rate you need to set a goal “Place an order”, collect the information, segment and analyze the data. Average PKIs mean almost nothing while estimating efficiency that is why you need to segment them. Conversions can be segmented by categories, regions, traffic source.

To define an average bill it is necessary to set up e-commerce with “Place an order” goal being applied, to collect the statistics and analyze the data. It is possible to get a lot of interesting information which directly relates to site revenue: what goods are bought more often, what goods bring more profit, how long it takes to make a decision on placing the order.

The clearest KPI is bounce rate. It may be evaluated in terms of landing pages, traffic sources. According to KissMetrics statistics normal bounce rate for online shops is 20-40%.

According to experience of the Promodo company, it is necessary to pay attention to the following things while analyzing four the most important pages in online shop (homepage, catalogue, product page, checkout page).

There must be no “disrupted” navigation on a homepage (and on any other inner page). Main menu must in particular describe goods categories. The pictures must be of good quality and call to action – to touch, to try, and to buy.

There must be relevant content on the site. Blog or block with news should not replace goods or manufacturers present on the site. Goods must be placed on a first screen, give accent to popular goods and categories. There should be applied filters and sorting in a catalogue, the ability to compare. There must be a big picture on a product page, brand logo, technical characteristics, payment and shipping details, reviews.

Define the goal for each page.

Everything done must be tested. Buttons (text, color, size), pictures, banners, products pages, titles and microtexts – test everything. Testing period depends on traffic. Just a minor change may increase the conversion rate by 100% or even more.

 

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