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Key Resources to Keep Your Professional New Year’s Resolutions in Check

Professional New Years Resolutions Resources

Summary: Setting professional goals that will help you become better at what you do everyday is, after all, the whole point. Challenging ourselves to becoming more productive, creative and happier at work is essential to any team’s success.

Here we are: two weeks into a shiny new decade and – if history proves correct – some of you are already struggling with those infamous New Year’s resolutions. According to research on this, only 8% of those who make a list of resolutions success. (Yikes!) But no judgement here. We’re all guilty. Sometimes life happens and old habits are tough to break.

The thing that struck me recently is the kind of resolutions most people talk about. We’ve all heard the usual M.O. when it comes to resolutions: “This year, I will save more money…exercise more…quit smoking…learn a new hobby…etc.” These are all great personal objectives. And if you’re successful with hitting your personal self-care goals, then more power to you.

But lately, around the office, I’ve noticed the New Year’s resolutions are a buzz with a refreshing entrepreneurial edge to them. And I love it. Professional resolutions are so much more exciting to me, simply because of the network and support group you have amongst colleagues, mentors, and even your clients. And setting professional goals that will help you become better at what you do everyday is, after all, the whole point. Challenging ourselves to becoming more productive, creative and happier at work is essential to any team’s success.

I’m going talk about three of the most popular resolutions floating around our office to give you an idea of what you could add to your own business’ professional resolutions. I’ll also dive into some supplementary resources that my colleagues and I have used, which, hopefully, will help you (and us) become a part of that elusive 8%.

podcasts

1. “I will listen to more work-related podcasts (not just True Crime ones)”

Whether you’re looking to be a better marketer or looking for inspiration for launching a new business, podcasts offer up a great avenue to learning something new. And it’s truly as easy as accessing Spotify during your subway commute into work, driving to your next client meeting, or grabbing your afternoon espresso. Podcasts fit into a busy life and will put you into the right frame of mind to conquer your professional goals. And the nice things about podcasts is that there’s something for everyone. Those seeking motivation, expert tips, or even a moment of mid-day zen will find something useful. Bonus: with podcasts you don’t have to listen to the episodes in order.

A few helpful resources:

  • The Charged Life with Brendan Bouchard –  Bouchard is a high performance expert and a New York Times bestselling author who focuses on tapping into your motivational drive. It’s great for a quick Monday morning boost to get ready for the week ahead.
  • The #AskGaryVee Show – Thought leader Gary Vaynerchuk dives into topics like entrepreneurship, business management, leadership and millennialism. Tune in for both practical and inspirational know-how about creating the career you always wanted. You’ll find his perspective interesting since he’s actually only taken 3 vacations in his whole life!
  • The Growth Show with Hubspot – Hubspot CMO, Kipp Bodnar, and VP of Marketing, Meghan Keaney Anderson, discuss all things related to business growth from an organizational and cultural perspective. Explore how teams at Google, Apple and Twitter have changed the way they handle team management.
  • Entrepreneur.com 10 Podcast Recommendations –  Deep Patel from Entrepreneur.com recently shared 10 of his recommendations all of which focus on success stories, lessons and challenges from other entrepreneurs like Tony Robbins, and Tim Ferriss. I haven’t had the chance to tune into all of these yet, but a few of them will definitely get added to my list.

2. “I will keep up-to-date with Google’s every move”

google analytics

This is a tough one to make, but doable. Since Google’s algorithm changes more times than a baby’s diaper, this resolution is actually an annual must-have for any marketer, small business owner, or solo-preneur. These algorithm updates are helping searchers find the most useful content out there and you want it to come from you! So keeping up with Google’s changes is the place to start.

A few helpful resources:

  • The Beginner’s Guide to SEO – This is one of our favorites from the folks at Moz. It’s all about making your site search-friendly on Google (or any other search engine for that matter). While Google is working on their nest algorithm update, newcomers should always start with SEO education.
  • Why You Need to Care About On-SERP SEO – ‘No-click searches’ took the SERPS by storm this year, which changed the game for marketers. This is a huge Google development you need to continue to watch closely this year.
  • Google in 2020: From Everyone’s Search Engine to Everyone’s Competitor – Rand Fishkin from SparkToro (and formally MOZ) is a favorite source of ours around here for all things SEO. Keep an eye on Rand, and you inevitably keep an eye on Google. Check out this latest presentation on how Google is expected to change the web landscape this year.
  • Google – Sometimes you just gotta go straight to the horse’s mouth. Google’s team covers major updates and answers important questions directly on their blog

3. “I will learn a new programming language”

learn programming language

High five to all of you who’ve made this resolution this year. No one can ever tell you that you’re scared of a challenge! Marketers ready to jump on this one already know that having at least a basic handle on a few programming languages is an excellent way to enhance your marketing toolkit. Even just being familiar with coding can help open up doors for customized solutions, creating cooler email campaigns, executing better A/B testing, automating GoogleAds, and – naturally – working with tech partners much easier. 

A few helpful resources:

  • Programming 101 for Marketers – Kapost shared this comprehensive list of which languages might be the most helpful for marketers. From Javascript to Python, they dive into practical benefits of each. There are far more than the ones mentioned here, but it’s a decent place to start.
  • Intro to Python from Moz – Python is a hot topic in the marketing world lately and this recent Whiteboard Friday talks about how it can automate tasks, discover keyword opportunities, scrape websites and more. Plus, the episode has a cute little python named Pumpkin to get you into the mood. (Personally, I would have named the python Monty).
  • 10 Free Classes to Learn to Code (If You Have Absolutely No Idea Where to Start) – Here’s a rundown of free classes to start with on resources like Codecademy, Udemy and Skillshare. Learning to code can be intimidating to jump into, so the gratis route can do wonders for alleviating the pressure.

No matter what you choose to work on improving this year, remember there are other professionals out there tackling the same goals as you. Share resources, celebrate milestones, and ask for help if you need it. Often, it’s in your network that you will find the most motivation to reach your target.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

Expert Roundup: How Is BERT Impacting Search?

Google-Search
Summary: The kicker with this algorithm update is that you can’t really optimize for it. So if your business is executing a content marketing strategy, BERT seems a little jarring.

Lately you might have heard or read a lot of marketing chatter about some dude named Bert. And while I would love to regale you with a tale about a quirky, yet lovable gentleman from the South, I can’t. This particular Bert is actually Google’s BERT – their recently released search algorithm that appears to have some businesses nervous about their SEO strategies…arguably with good reason.

Why? Well, the kicker with this algorithm update is that you can’t really optimize for it. (Pausing now for collective gasp). So if your business is currently executing a content marketing strategy and you’re used to having marketers like us constantly advise you to optimize for your keywords, BERT – understandably – seems a little jarring.

Yes, it’s probably going to take time getting used to BERT’s impact on the results pages, but all it truly means is that search is becoming smarter. More intuitive. More searcher-friendly.

Today, I want to briefly introduce Google’s BERT for those of you who haven’t heard much about it yet. And then I’m going to jump into an expert roundup from some of the biggest players in the search marketing world.

What the Heck is Google BERT?

If you’ve already read up on BERT, go ahead and skip this section. For the rest of you, meet Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers – ultimately shortened to BERT. It’s Google’s neural network-based technique for natural language processing (or NLP). In other words, BERT can essentially help computers grasp language almost the way humans do – with nuance and context. And because of that deeper understanding of language, BERT can be used to match search queries with much more relevant results.

Let’s look at this example from Google’s blog: a search for “do estheticians stand a lot at work,” is translated differently by Google post-BERT. Before, Google has admitted that it would have matched the term “stand-alone” with “stand” in the query. Now, the BERT models can  “understand that ‘stand’ is related to the concept of the physical demands of a job, and displays a more useful response.” (Source) Simply put, BERT helps Google place more importance on the word “stand” in the context of the search query.

BERT-search-query-example

Another interesting example shows how BERT can also affect Google’s featured snippets. This search query for “parking on a hill with no curb” illustrates Google showing a much more relevant featured snippet on the results page. Pre-BERT, Google would have simply ignored the word “no” in the query with no comprehension of its importance to the entire sentence. 

bert-traveler-example-feature-snippet

Kinda cool, right? Google has described this algorithm update as “one of the biggest leaps forward in the history of Search.” So even though you can’t necessarily optimize for BERT specifically, I strongly recommend you do not ignore it!

Let’s take a look at what some of our peers in the digital space are saying about BERT.

Content Creators: Don’t Change What You’re Doing!

Our friends at the Content Marketing Institute highlight a key difference in the BERT update: it’s not sending the SEO world into chaos or causing widespread website traffic to suddenly plummet the way that algorithm updates have in the past! Because this update aims to help users search more naturally, those of you who already create natural copy can just keep doing what you’re doing! If you’ve been writing content for users, you essentially have nothing to worry about. Be less rigid in your formulaic keyword density (but don’t totally disregard it) and stay focused on writing conversationally and naturally.

Analyze Your Visitors’ User Intent

Now that you understand how BERT essentially works, apply this knowledge to your web data analysis and adapt accordingly. One of the more noticeable negative effects seen after the BERT rollout was a drop in organic search traffic. Jason Wilson, SEO pro at Better Collective, underlines the importance of optimizing for user intent. “It’s now more important than ever. Analyze the results Google serves for your search term, and produce (better) content around that query.”

Review and identify which pages or search terms aren’t performing as well post-BERT, analyze competing sites that are ranking for those terms, and tweak your content accordingly. Using your data to identify low-hanging fruit is an easy way to ensure you’re aligning strategies to BERT.

Don’t Forget About Bing!

Everyone’s talking about Google, but Search Engine Land recently pointed out that the often-forgotten search engine Bing has been applying BERT since April. That pre-dates Google’s update by six months! What’s more, is that Microsoft has rolled out the transformer models to every Bing query globally. (At the moment, for Google, BERT affects only one in 10 searches in English in the U.S.). Improvements like this underline Bing’s viability as a competing platform for both organic and paid campaigns; simply put – don’t rule out Bing in your digital strategy!

Keep Calm and Don’t Over-Hype BERT!

It’s a pretty huge step for Search overall, but NLP and machine learning still have a long way to go as far as language and context comprehension like humans. At a recent Whiteboard Friday, Moz shared an interesting research paper titled “What BERT Can’t Do” by Allyson Ettinger, a Natural Language Processing researcher and professor at the University of Chicago. One cool takeaway is that BERT isn’t great at understanding negation or what things are not. The example below shows how it lacks common sense knowledge in its search prediction in negation context (what a robin is VS. what a robin is not). Seriously fascinating and we should all keep an eye on where this technology could be heading.

BERT-Negation-Diagnostics-MOZ

Anytime a big change rolls out from anywhere in the digital marketing space, one of the key exercises we always try to do is explore and research what other marketing authorities are saying. Reviewing, researching and knowledge sharing is one of the best ways to stay on top of an industry that’s in constant flux. If you’re learning from or discovering new challenges in light of BERT or NLP technology in general, we’d love to hear about it!

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

The Anatomy of a Full-Service Social Media Team (Part 2)

Digtial Marketing Team
Summary: There’s no secret combination or magic number of how many designers, curators or analysts to add to a Social Media Department. There are many ways to build your team, which will be unique to your company’s budget, goals, industry and capacity for training.

Last time I jumped on here, we looked at what a realistic social media team of today should be comprised of. To recap, it is not a good idea to stick an entire social media strategy on one junior Marketing Coordinator. Not unless you want your social strategy to accomplish the bare minimum, hinder your ROI, while ultimately burning out your coordinator. Simply put, a full strategy deserves a full team.

A few weeks ago, the first group of professionals recommended for a full-service social media strategy team included:

  1. A Social Media Manager
  2. A Social Media Content Creator/Curator
  3. A Social Media Advertiser
  4. A Community Manager

Let’s dive into a few more integral roles that would impact your brand’s social team.

5) The Graphic Designer/Video Editor

I already talked about the content creator/curator you’ll likely need as part of your team; this particular role is very similar, but with full focus placed on visual content. So just as the content creator’s copywriting will represent your brand voice, the graphic designer will oversee your brand image. It’s important that this individual adapts alongside the ever-evolving video marketing landscape as well as the constant changes in design trends. (Google is a great example of a team who constantly tweaks their visual image). This is critical for keeping your social presence current and eye-catching.

Adobe creative cloud computer

Skills: Naturally, this team member should be pretty well versed in social media practices and tactics; it’s vital he/she understands how visual communication has an important role to play in the social world. Experience in the main design tools and software is key. I recommend looking for training in current design tools like those included in the Adobe Creative Cloud (Photoshop, Illustrator, InDesign, Muse, Animate…the list goes on!). We usually prefer to also review portfolios for visual communication roles like this one; it is a great way to assess a skill like their attention to detail.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Produces and edits visual content as it aligns to the content calendar and creative briefs
  • Develops graphic assets to accompany social content and advertisements
  • Oversees brand consistency in all visual assets
  • Produces images, illustrations, logos, videos and animations
  • Stays up-to-date on evolving design trends and new tools or software
  • Collaborates with the Content Creator/Curator, Social Media Advertiser and Community Manager to ensure cohesive brand representation

6) The Social Media Influencer Manager

This particular role is one of the newest professional positions to join many large marketing teams. It actually stems from the hugely profitable trend of collaborating with industry influencers. Your Social Influencer Manager will oversee your company’s relationship with influencers in your industry and ensure these influencers’ social content align with your own brand’s vision, values and objectives.

Skills: First and foremost, it’s imperative that your Social Media Influencer Manager understands your industry as well as your brand values inside and out. A full, bird’s eye view enables this role to make valuable connections and build meaningful relationships with your influencers as well as your target audience. That said, you will want someone who has strong relationship building skills and even stronger communication skills. A great candidate will be consider themselves an expert in social marketing and have the know-how to manage several projects at once.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Defines and manages influencer activities and campaigns
  • Researches competitors, key influencers and trends in your industry
  • Aims to align influencer campaigns to overall social media content calendar
  • Creates timely content for influencers
  • Monitors content shared by influencers to ensure brand alignment
  • Collaborates with Content Creator/Curator, Social Media Advertiser and Community Manager to ensure cohesive brand representation

7) The Social Media Analyst

Well you had to know this one was coming. I encourage every team to include at least one analyst; this is the individual who will provide insights that will define your direction. Note, this particular analyst doesn’t necessarily need to be passionate about social media per se. Instead, their interests are in working with stats and data while understanding how social media impacts the business (and vice versa).

Skills: In order to manage the dashboards and organize the data, your analyst should have knowledge of the social media management tools that the rest of your team will be using. Obviously, strong analytical skills come into play for this role; the ability to provide reports and essentially translate it for stakeholders is important for keeping everyone on the same page.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Maintains reporting dashboards on regular basis
  • Prepares, analyzes and presents key findings to stakeholders and team members
  • Provides daily recommendations for team activities to ensure goals are met (eg: sales, awareness, reach etc)
  • Actively studies and stays up-to-date on trends, tools and platforms
  • Collaborates with the whole Social Media Team

I hope this gives you a deeper view into what roles your own team might be lacking. Remember, these are just the basic, core roles to consider. There’s no secret combination or magic number of how many designers, curators or analysts to add to a Social Media Department. There are many ways to build your team, which will be unique to your company’s budget, goals, industry, capacity for training, etc.

Plus, considering the rapid growth and digital advancements made on a daily basis, flexibility is your best friend. For all we know, I’ll be back in a few months talking about brand new roles you might want on your marketing team.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

The Anatomy of a Full-Service Social Media Team (Part 1)

Marketing Team Structure
Summary: Regardless of whether you’re going to hire your own internal team or work with an agency, it’s important to understand some of the key social media positions, skillsets and responsibilities you might need on your team.

Pretty much anyone and everyone who has spent time building a social presence online for a brand knows this one truth: It. Is. TOUGH. It’s so much more than the daily tweet announcing your latest product launch. Those were the olden times of the social media world. These days, businesses – both small operations and large enterprises – require time and energy to truly thrive in the social space. Your social channels are no longer just online spaces to fill; now they’re places that help your business grow.

And since the social media space has evolved, so, too, has the professional landscape for social media marketers. Historically, a company’s social presence often required only one junior marketer who was responsible for sharing (or re-sharing) insightful information across main social channels a couple times a week. But today, successful social media strategies almost always require a team; sometimes a rather large team.

Below, I’ll dive into 4 of the 8 key roles and responsibilities within many full-service social media teams.

“Who Should I Hire to Manage Our Social Media?”

This happens to be one of the most common questions I hear from business owners. And when we tell them that a great social presence will typically require more than one Marketing Coordinator on staff, the reaction is often one of surprise and confusion. But the truth is, underestimating the resources needed to execute a full social media strategy may not only inhibit your ROI, but it will harm your marketing operational processes while potentially putting a strain on employee bandwidth.

Additionally, the size of your social team will vary. This can depend on various factors, like budget for salaries, your overall digital strategy, the workspace available, your marketing technologies, ad budget, etc. In other words, there’s no standard formula for building a social media team; the right roles and responsibilities for your team should be defined by your particular circumstances.

Now, regardless of what your circumstances are, it’s important to know what the main social media team roles are.

4 Key Roles and Responsibilities for Building Your Social Media Team

Regardless of whether you’re going to hire your own internal team or work with an agency, there are some important roles you should know about. Let’s take a look at some of the key social media positions, skillsets and responsibilities you might need on your team.

Social Media Marketer Desk

1) The Social Media Manager

Like any other team manager, your Social Media Manager will be responsible for your social reputation as well as the team itself. This individual should understand your brand, product or service, and your company values.

Skills: Your Social Media Manager should not only be familiar with your industry, but also proactively keep up to date on the latest social media trends. This individual will have a direct impact on your overall marketing strategy so solid knowledge around SEO, lead generation, social media management tools and technologies, and customer service are very important. Look for someone with an affinity for knowledge sharing and strong leadership skills, which the rest of the social team can align to and learn from. Excellent presentation skills will also come in handy as your Social Manager will need to be social (pun intended) and represent your business in front of customers and other stakeholders. Lastly, I also always recommend that the Social Media Manager have a creative background in both copywriting and an eye for design; this comes in handy for understanding and streamlining the rest of the team’s operational processes.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Defines social media campaigns as they align to the overall digital marketing strategy
  • Sets team goals and deadlines
  • Establishes company’s online reputation by building brand and product awareness
  • Manages the social media team’s performance and functions
  • Works cross-functionally and liaises with other key stakeholders (ie: other departments, marketing teams or your marketing agency)
  • Potentially creates content (if you don’t have a designated Content Creator)
  • Potentially promotes content or ad campaigns (if you don’t have a Social Media Advertiser)

2) The Social Media Content Creator and Curator

You’ve heard us say this before: content is king. So this role is very important to your whole online reputation. Your Content Creator/Curator will manage your brand’s social media voice; the information your company publishes or shares should be valuable, timely and relevant to your audience.

Skills: Aside from a strong background in copywriting, this individual should definitely understand the basics of SEO. Command over the main social media platforms and content management systems (CMS), like WordPress or HubSpot, is also key to this individual’s daily performance. Strong research skills coupled with time management skills will also help this individual manage several social channels and effectively curate third-party content that your target audience will appreciate.

Main Responsibilities:

  • Creates original content and align to content calendar
  • Curates valuable third-party content
  • Stays up to date on the latest in industry news
  • Schedules, publishes and shares content on all social media channels
  • Collaborates with the Designer, Social Media Advertiser and Community Manager to ensure cohesive brand representation

3) The Social Media Advertiser

If you’re aiming to leverage paid ads in the social space, your team will need a specialist when it comes to an advertising strategy.

Skills: Your social advertiser should have a deep understanding of social media platforms and strong budget management abilities. Additionally, a solid command of Excel and statistical analysis is essential to evaluating campaign performance. Confidence in taking calculated risks is another valuable skillset for advertisers, since they will essentially set, monitor and adjust ads in order to maximize your ad spend. Also consider hiring someone with good content creation skills; an advertiser who can independently produce compelling messages for your target audience is an invaluable addition to any team.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Collaborates with the Content Creator and Designer to develop advertising assets for target customers
  • Defines and set target audiences for social ad campaigns
  • Manages the social advertising budget for campaigns
  • Oversees A/B testing parameters and scheduling of the ads

4) The Community Manager

This particular role is the one that directly interacts with your online audience. Whenever and wherever your brand is mentioned, your Community Manager should be there listening, discussing, commenting, thanking customers, answering questions – you get the idea.

Skills: Your Community Manager is essentially your brand ambassador and will have to learn everything about your brand and become familiar with the key, front-facing employees in your company. Copywriting skills should be strong; look for individuals who can produce copy that accurately reflects your brand’s personality, be it witty, funny, contemplative or strictly business-like and sober. Understanding the basics in social media tools and customer service are also key skills for this role.

Main Responsibilities: 

  • Actively monitors social mentions and engages in conversations across social channels and web properties
  • Manages social listening tools (eg: HootSuite; BuzzSumo; Sprout Social)
  • Regularly builds brand visibility across social channels
  • Proactively builds relationship between the audience and the brand
  • Collaborates with and manages external brand advocates

Before we reconvene in a few days to discuss the next group of roles on a social media team, the key takeaway I want to leave you with today is this: building a team can be as complex as the strategy itself. After all, the amount of marketing technologies and innovations have more than quadrupled in the last decade; naturally, the anatomy of a marketing department has evolved as well.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

 

How Voice Search Will Change the Digital Marketing Landscape

voice searchIn recent years, voice search has been dominating the search landscape. It has become a convenience to many, allowing everyday users to speak into their devices instead of typing keywords into a search query to get answers. According to Forbes, 30% of all website sessions will be conducted without a screen by 2020. Speech recognition in our devices has also become extremely complex and precise. Although voice search has been around for some time and is not a completely brand new concept, we’ve experienced a technological breakthrough in recent years with the introduction of voice assistants such as Amazon’s Alexa, Google Assistant, and Siri.

As a result, a majority of devices are now optimized for voice search. What does this mean for brands and businesses? It is predicted that half of all online searches will be made through voice search by 2020. It’s now time for businesses to optimize their interfaces, platforms, and websites to keep up with the evolving landscape of voice search.

Here is how voice search will change the digital marketing landscape and what you can do to prepare for it:

Voice Search Will Prioritize Featured Snippets

When you ask a voice assistant a question, they will read the featured snippet of your search query. If you’re not too familiar with featured snippets, they are search results that are featured at the top of Google’s organic results on SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). It’s important to understand why you need to start caring about On-SERP SEO so that you can begin effectively optimizing your content to attain a featured snippet on Google’s search engine results page. Businesses need to start accounting for a voice strategy and optimize their content for voice search.

Tips to organize your content for SERPs:

  • Create content to answer specific questions
  • Organize your content in a question and answer format
  • Make sure to create high-quality content

Looking to the future, featured snippets will be more valued and there will only be more competition to win a spot at the top of search engines.

Semantics of Search Will Change

When users are using voice search, they often use a more conversational tone. While users may be typing “Brooklyn weather” when conducting a text search, they may ask “What is the weather in Brooklyn?” instead when conducting a voice search. More often than not, users are more likely to phrase queries as a question. Since voice searches are more conversational and natural in nature, it will prioritize the semantics of search queries. As a result, this will affect the digital marketing landscape and marketers will need to reevaluate the keywords used in their content and overall marketing strategy.

Instead of using short keywords in your SEO strategy, make use of long-tail keywords and direct answers to users’ most common questions. It’s time to start paying attention to how your consumers talk. Brands and businesses will need to take into account the tone, word choice, and phrasing used in voice search in this voice search revolution. Reevaluating your content’s keywords to adapt to voice search will help your website rank higher on search engines or earn featured snippets.

Voice Search Will Grow the Mobile-Friendly Environment

People are no longer only searching on their desktops. Hands-free capabilities that come along with mobile devices encourage users who are always on the go to utilize voice search. Whether you’re cooking or driving, voice search and mobile go hand in hand as a convenient tool for consumers’ everyday life.

With users always on the go, voice search is only going to continue to dominate the mobile environment.

Brands and businesses need to ensure that their websites and content are optimized for mobile. It’s time to adopt a mobile-first mindset. Set your business up for success and stay ahead of the game. Around 70% of consumers are more likely to purchase from a business with a mobile-friendly website. From a marketer’s standpoint, it is your responsibility to make sure that your business’ interfaces, websites, and platforms are all optimized for mobile.

Key considerations to become more mobile-friendly:

  • Improve your webpages’ loading times
  • Incorporate vertical content and use larger text
  • Redesign pop-ups for mobile devices
  • Resize buttons and CTAs (Call to Actions) for mobile
  • Make information easier for people to find

It’s time to think with a mobile-first mindset if you want to set yourself up for success in this changing landscape. Work with your teams to develop mobile-friendly interfaces to stay ahead of the game.

Voice Search Will Place a Larger Emphasis on Local SEO

Many people who are using voice search use it to search up local things in their area. Where is the closest gas station near me? Top 10 Italian restaurants me? Nearly 22% of voice search queries are seeking location-based content. Local businesses, retailers, and boutiques should take advantage of this opportunity to build a local SEO strategy. A local SEO strategy can ultimately help drive traffic to your website and boost sales. Not considering local SEO is just another missed opportunity.

Tips to improve your local SEO:

  • Create, update, and optimize your Google My Business Account
  • Gather positive reviews from customers
  • Incorporate local keywords in your content
  • Use location pages or create a location specific “About Us” page

Keep in mind the key considerations in today’s evolving evolving search landscape. Optimizing your content for voice search is definitely one of the content marketing ideas to try in 2019. Seek out voice search optimization services and solutions and work to build out an effective voice search strategy that will help build your brand in the long-term.

30 ways to generate more leads free ebook

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

Let’s Simplify Some Commonly Confused SEO Concepts for You

Confused by SEO concepts? Wondering how to sift through all the jargon to find some simple answers? We understand your frustration. For many business owners and marketers, it is hard enough trying to keep your website ahead of your online competitors without getting side-tracked by confusing search engine optimization terms.

To help you get a better idea of some of the most commonly confused SEO concepts, we have put together a mini-glossary of the widely used jargon. Keep reading to find out more about ranking, algorithms, SERPs and other concepts.

seo

Confused by SEO Concepts? Here’s How to Sift Through the Jargon.

In no particular order, some of the most commonly confused SEO concepts include the following:

  • SERPs. SERPs is short for Search Engine Results Pages. This means where you are placed on search engines such as Google. Page one would be the first page of the search results (which is where you want to be), while page two and three mean that web users need to click to view your ranking. The harder it is to be seen on the first page, the less likely your website will be found. It’s worth noting that there are always exceptions to this rule. If you are not on the first page yet, don’t worry… this comes with time, solid SEO practices and a great deal of work.
  • Ranking. A ranking is essentially how well your website does online. A good ranking means that your site is found on the first page of the SERPs. Although many businesses think that they need to be right at the top, you are still doing well even if you are a few places down. Although not too far down! According to Advanced Web Ranking, the click-through rate for position 5 on Page 1 of the Google search results is only 3%, and it decreases for every position after that. So high up on Page 1 is where all the action is. A number of factors determine your ranking, including on and off-site SEO, content, industry and even the keywords you are using.
  • Algorithms. Algorithms are how your website gets to that all important first page. Every so often, Google updates their algorithms to ensure a better quality experience for consumers. Google is always trying to return the most relevant search result for a user’s search, based on their language, location and search history. Factors that are typically considered include quality of content, the relevance of the content, and others.
  • Penalties. If you have been trying to take shortcuts by buying dodgy links, or your website is loaded with poor quality content, and other elements that Google thinks have a negative impact on the user experience, you may face penalties. Generally speaking, penalties take the form of lost rankings. A website that may have been at the top of the SERPs may suddenly find themselves on page three if they have been penalized by Google.
  • Keywords. A more accurate term would be “search term”. Many people assume that keywords consist of a single word. In reality, search terms need to be as specific as possible or “long tail”. An example of a bad keyword would be something like ‘shop’. Because this term appears in many contexts, it would not help anyone find your specialty kids clothing shop online if they searched for this term. A better term would be ‘Durban shop’, but there are still countless shops in Durban, so this would not help much either. A term such as ‘kids clothing shop in Durban’ meanwhile would make it far easier for your shop to be found.
  • Keyword Density: This refers to how many times your keyword appears in your content. This is tricky because you want your keyword to have a good density on the page (around 3%) but you don’t want the content to sound overly repetitive for the user. It takes good copywriting skills to write content that is both keyword-dense & reads well. You can check your keyword density using this nifty free density checking tool.
  • Search volume. This refers to the number of searches done for a keyword over the course of a month. Although a higher volume can be a good way to find phrases that are frequently searched for, lower numbers for specific searches will generally have a better conversion rate since your site is more relevant to the searcher’s query.
  • Click Through Rate (CTR): This is how many times your website is clicked when it does show up for searches. Let’s say you show up on the first page for a search 100 times, and out of those 100 impressions, your site is clicked on 10 times. This means your CTR is 10%. Google wants your site to be relevant, so good CTRs mean your site is relevant to searches and will do better in the organic rankings.
  • Competition. This refers to how many other websites are using the same term and actively optimizing for it. Be wary of high competition phrases. Even if these have a high volume of searches, you will likely not be able to rank if many others are using the term as well. A low and medium competition will be easier for your content to be found. Just imagine, if there are 2 million pages returned for a specific search result, to get to the first page of the search results, Google has to decide that you are more relevant than 2 999 990 other web pages!
  • Backlinks: Google has confirmed that 30% of your ranking score comes from your backlink profile. This means the links that come into your website from other websites. Think directories, social media, and business listings.
  • On-SERP SEO: Is the optimization of any and all content on SERPs that you can either control or influence in some way (e.g. meta title, meta description, feature snippets).
  • Featured Snippets: A featured snippet is a summary of an answer to a user’s query, which is displayed on top of Google search results. It’s extracted from a webpage and includes the page’s title and URL.
  • Zero-Click SERP: A zero-click SERP is one where the answer is displayed directly at the top of a Google search result. The search intent of the user is satisfied without having to click any actual search result links.
  • Voice Search: Also called voice-enabled, allows the user to use a voice command to search the Internet, a website, or an app.

At WSI, we are passionate about making it easier for businesses just like you to get found online. We aim to make the process as simple as possible so that you don’t have to lose sleep (or waste time) stressing about getting relevant website traffic. If you have any questions on any of these SEO concepts, or you have a specific bit of jargon you’d like us to demystify, get in touch with your local WSI expert today.

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WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

Key Considerations for Your Content in Today’s Evolving Search Landscape

Today’s internet users are changing the way they search the web and as a result, search engines are constantly evolving to adapt to this change. This has had a significant impact on how searchers find content and how content is being ranked, which affects business’ overall SEO performance. Gone are the days when measuring your SEO success was solely based on keeping track of keyword rankings. With so many factors that now come into play to achieve SEO success, it’s time to rethink your content marketing and social media strategy to keep pace with the ever-changing search landscape. You’ll need to consider how you can restructure your content so that it appears in prime search locations.

Take a look at some of the ways search engines are changing along with searchers. We will address several key considerations to take into account on how to improve your content marketing strategy to keep up with this changing landscape.

Mobile Search is Dominating the Web

It is predicted that mobile is going to become the dominant device for search in 2019. Many users are now conducting mobile searches more than searches on any other device (e.g. tablets and desktops).

Key considerations: In order for your content to rank highly and achieve SEO success, you must ensure that the content on your website is fully optimized for mobile. How do users absorb mobile content? Mobile friendliness is key. Google now expects webpages to load in under 3 seconds. Improve your website load times by compressing images on your webpage and make sure that your content is easily digestible. Huffington Post is a prime example of a company who has nailed their mobile web experience.

Their content is easily scannable, digestible, and ideal for on-the-go mobile users. When you compare both the mobile and desktop versions, Huffington Post’s mobile site is optimized to fit a smaller screen and also has fewer words on the homepage. As a result, readers are able to easily skim the webpage for content.

Voice Search is Changing the Way People Search the Web

According to Forbes, 50% of search queries will be from voice by 2020. Voice search is dramatically changing the way people search the web. This has been made possible with the help of voice assistants such as Google Home, Alexa, and Siri. As a result, search engines like Google are placing a greater emphasis on voice search optimization.

Key considerations: With voice search on the rise, the way content is being ranked is also changing. How will this affect your overall content marketing and social media as ranking factors? Instead of using short and snappy keywords to optimize your content, try to make better use of long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords involve specific keyword phrases. To effectively adapt to voice search, try writing the way you speak in order for your content to rank better. For example, when users type a search query on Google, they’ll usually type “Toronto weather.” However, when users conduct a voice search, they’ll typically say, “What’s the weather in Toronto?” Since voice search and SEO pick up on users’ natural speech patterns, keep in mind to use a more conversational tone in your content and social media marketing strategy to help boost and improve your search rankings.

Drive Greater Traffic with Featured Snippets

Google is increasingly showing featured snippets at the top of search results. Content that ranks within Google’s featured snippet section often drives higher traffic for the given search query. In order to embrace the changing landscape of search, it’s crucial to understand why you need to care about On-SERP SEO. For example, when you search up “top phones 2019,” this is the featured snippet on the SERP (search engine results page) that shows up for the query:

The featured snippet appears above the #1 search result. How do you achieve this?

Key considerations: Develop a shortlist of specific questions that you can answer and rank for. If your content can rank on the first page for one of the shortlisted search query questions, look into optimizing the rest of the content on your webpage to specifically address that question.

Help More Pages Rank with the Topic Cluster Model

Because people are submitting more detailed and conversational search queries through to get information faster, search engines are getting better at providing the exact answers that searchers are looking for. Pillar content and topic clusters are becoming more popular as a way for marketers to organize their content to ensure their content ranks higher. What is pillar content? According to Hubspot, pillar content or topic clusters help more pages rank to give searchers better answers for their queries. This is known as the topic cluster model.

Key considerations: When planning your content marketing strategy, choose a few broad topics you want to rank for. After you’ve chosen the topics, create content (e.g. blog posts) for each of the specific keywords that make up the broader topic. This will result in broader search engine authority because you can then connect specific topics to each other via hyperlinks, linking your content to help more pages on your site rank on Google.


As we continue to move away from traditional search trends, how you approach your content marketing strategy is more important than ever before. Remember to be social with your content and keep in touch with current SEO trends and how the search landscape continues to evolve. As overrated as this phrase may be, it still rings true: “Content is King.”

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

Why You Need to Care About On-SERP SEO

Editor’s Note: This post was originally published on June 8, 2018, and was updated on January 24, 2019.

In 2019 and beyond, digital marketers, and companies that embrace digital marketing strategies, need to be well versed in changing what they care about. Oh, and caring about a lot of things at once, which comes standard with living in the digital world. And for good measure, let’s throw in keeping on eye on the future with the intent to figure out the next pivot before anybody else – and boldly acting on it.

So when I see something like this, from one of the brightest and most influential SEO minds of the last decade, I think, “Hmm, maybe I need to dig into On-SERP SEO a little more.” A SERP, of course, is a search engine results page, and SEO is, well, you know by now!

on-serp-seo

A few months after the above tweet – in September 2018 – Rand gave a talk at a marketing conference. His session was called, “On SERP SEO – The Infuriating Reality of Search’s Future” and we urge you watch every second of the video if you believe what we’re saying.

 

 

Keep in mind this isn’t to say it’s time to immediately start freaking out about On-SERP SEO. Most are aware Google has been tinkering with SERPs (especially mobile SERPs) on the regular for a long time now. What it does mean is that since On-SERP SEO is on Rand’s mind a lot, it should probably be on mine (and yours). It also means I’m interested in dedicating time specifically to generating On-SERP SEO results, which is something that may be on your radar, too.

What is On-SERP SEO?

Before you can snag the answer box of your dreams, you first need to know what On-SERP SEO is (and if you don’t know, that’s totally fine).

On-SERP SEO is the optimization of any and all content on SERPs that you can either control or influence in some way. Traditionally, meta titles and meta descriptions were the main (and only!?) content that SEOs and content marketers could control on SERPs, but that changed when Google introduced featured snippets, which are:

Featured snippets are organic search results that Google doctors up to look pretty, and then places them in the most prominent position on the SERPs – yes, above the #1 results!

Here is the featured snippet on the SERP for the query, “What is an Android TV box?”:

Why You Need to Care About On-SERP SEO – Featured Snippet

For this particular result the paragraph answer box is owned by CBC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation. Start Googling things and, if you hadn’t already noticed, many SERPs will include a featured snippet at the top of the page, especially if your queries are questions.

If you’re looking for a quick primer on the different types of featured snippets and other On-SERP SEO content types, this is a great rundown.

Why is On-SERP SEO Important?

There are a number of reasons why On-SERP SEO is important. On a basic level, we can use the Android TV box example above to highlight why a business would covet the featured snippet the CBC currently has.

The CBC article explains what an Android TV box is, as well as how it allows users to “cut the cord” and essentially watch all the TV shows and movies they want – for free. It discusses the legality of the apps that allow users to stream for free, and even links out to some websites that sell preloaded TV boxes.

For a large media corporation like CBC, readership, traffic and awareness are the bread and butter of their business, so the more featured snippets they can attain, the better. In this specific case, they could likely earn some affiliate commissions with a featured snippet for a query with tens of thousands of searches per month, according to keyword data. For whatever it’s worth, CBC isn’t using affiliate links, but it’s easy to see why for content driven affiliate sites, featured snippets are extremely valuable.

There is another, less obvious reason On-SERP SEO is becoming a vital component of core SEO, and it’s summed up by this comment Rand made in the discussion thread of the tweet above:

Why You Need to Care About On-SERP SEO – Featured Snippet – Rand Comment

If more and more searches are ending on the actual Google SERPs, as indicated by Rand’s original tweet and furthered by this comment, then On-SERP SEO is critical – especially because, at least right now, it’s difficult to discern what the goal of featured snippets should be, if not to generate click-throughs. As is usually the case in the digital world, the marketers and companies who figure out how to crack these tough questions are the big winners.

How to Optimize Your Content for SERPs

Ah, now to answer the question you’re all wondering about: how do you optimize your content in order to attain a featured snippet on Google’s search engine results page?

Here’s the short answer to how you win a featured snippet on Google’s search results pages:

  1. Do keyword research to develop a shortlist of specific questions that a) you can answer and b) you can rank for
  2. Rank on the first page for one of these search query questions
  3. Optimize the content of your web page to very specifically answer the question

Simple, right? If only!

Look, nobody said this was going to be easy. The great Dr. Pete has been writing on this topic for years now, and his older articles are still some of the best content there is on the subject (herehere and here) – quite frankly because we just don’t have any more of an idea of what works. Of course, tools like Moz or SEMrush will make your life a lot easier if you’re planning on doing this alone, or you could always get in touch with us – we’d love to help you improve your On-SERP SEO!

At the end of the day, keeping up with On-SERP SEO trends, and perhaps attempting to win a featured snippet or two, likely puts you way ahead of your competition. And if you can become an expert at On-SERP SEO and make getting featured snippets like second nature, you’ll be reaping huge rewards in the future.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give me a call or email me at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

The WSI Story

Our story begins in Toronto, Canada. The year was 1995. There was no Google, no Facebook, and a mobile device was something you put on your child’s crib, but that didn’t slow down our three co-founders who were looking to recreate the business world in cyberspace.

WSI was born from the visionary statement: ‘One day we will create the distribution unit for marketing goods and services around the world, using the Information Super Highway’.

Fast forward to today and WSI is the world’s largest Digital Marketing Network.

With agencies in over 80 countries we have the largest global footprint of any Google partner in the world.

We opened our doors at the dawn of Internet Marketing. We survived the dot-com bust when others didn’t. We’ve adapted our business model as the industry has evolved, and through it all, we’ve remained profitable every year.

We can proudly say that we have developed a proven methodology for developing digital marketing strategies. Have written two best-selling editions of Digital Minds book. Have partnered with some of the industries top brands and thought leaders and have become an award-winning solution provider to businesses of all sizes and across all industries around the world.

Over the course of WSI’s two plus decades in business, tactics have come and gone, trends have exploded and faded, and the world we live in has changed profoundly from when we first started this journey.

As a company we are resilient and we have learned how to adapt and how to help other businesses adapt and capitalize on their marketing efforts.

We may have been just a visionary statement at the start but we have grown into a powerful digital agency network. One that helps businesses realize their potential by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities.

If you would like help improving your pay-per-click advertising, get in touch.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give us a call or get in touch with us at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

Making a Difference: Mike Chavez Painting – Client Success Story

Mike Chavez Painting is an established painting and decorating company with a long-standing commitment to honesty, excellent customer service and quality of work. So, when it came time for them to improve their digital marketing strategy, they turned to WSI to help them achieve those same high standards online.

The Objective

The goal was to create a new website to showcase Mike Chavez Painting’s good reputation. The web presence needed to attract more customers from local searches, then convert those visitors into:

  • Phone Calls
  • Client Meetings

The next step was to design a new conversion​ oriented website ​that looked great, and incorporated the latest design techniques to help turn:

  • Visitors into leads and
  • Enable a consistent publication of compelling content that would:
    • Drive Traffic
    • Deliver Results

The Solution

The new website was designed to showcase the quality of Mike Chavez Painting’s work and enhance their good reputation.

WSI added a company blog to the website providing an ideal platform to publish and share search friendly, customer focused content.

We then launched an aggressive:

to increase the number of targeted visitors to their new website. We accomplished this by achieving multiple first page listings.

The Results

Mike is experiencing more visitors who spend more time on his website, achieving 74% increase in organic traffic generating between 15 to 40 phone calls per month.

Let’s Leave the Last Word to Mike

‘I first heard about WSI at a local networking group here in Santa Rosa. Some of the business challenges I was going through, prior to working with WSI, was reaching a lot of people outside of just word-to-mouth marketing. It’s been really good working with them; it’s been very easy and they are very professional.

WSI has done a great job with my internet marketing. Some of the results I’ve experienced is organically receiving a lot of calls from people who don’t even know me. I would fully recommend WSI.

WSI was founded in 1995 and is an innovative digital marketing agency with offices in over 80 countries. We’ve spent over 20 years helping more than 100,000 companies and large global brands unlock the full potential of their business by leveraging the Internet and its many unrecognized opportunities. We’d be happy to help do the same for you and consult on your digital marketing strategy.  Simply give us a call or get in touch with us at rknutsen@wsiebizsolutions.net to learn more.

 

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