Search Kernel – October 2017 Search Marketing Round-up
SEO in 2017 – a recap on ranking factors
SEMRush have presented their insight into ranking factors after analysing their sizable data set from the year.
Their research looks at ranking signals across the top 100 positions for 600,000 keywords – which makes it the largest big data study of its kind to date. And looking at all the SEO factors for each page that ranks for each term, we can start to reverse engineer a list of factors which highly correlate with what makes a page rank higher, or lower.
What did we find out?
Word count correlates highly
Beware though, length in no way means quality. Think of it more as a benchmark for how much ‘quality’ you need.
Titles and keywords.
Not as important.
35% of pages ranking for high volume terms (more for lower volumes ones) don’t even have the their keyword in the title. Basically – Search engines are getting smarter and don’t need to rely on keywords as much.
Still very important.
Moving to HTTPS.
Kind of important. We know Chrome is now warning users about unsecure websites but besides this we also know that it’s more important in some industries more than others.
And the highest correlating factor is?
User metrics of course!
Direct traffic to a page, time on site, pages viewed per session and bounce rate correlate most highly with the highest ranking pages.
Direct traffic is a result of a strong brand, which coupled with engagement metrics show not only trust but that the page and hosting site are meeting intent and highly engaging.
What we can see, quite clearly, is that SEO correlates with rankings (luckily for us).
But also that it’s not a one-fits-all affair. Search engines already realise that different factors are more important in different verticals and for search words that have different intent.
Competitor analysis is important to understand what you’re up against, and what is the minimum viable approach to your SEO strategy in your industry. Gone are the days when we just need links and keywords. Hyper-targeted content which is relentless in being fantastically beneficial is the most important thing in SEO. This will build your brand, get you links and engage your target audience.
Google trials a new AMP badge in search results
In September 2016, Google released a new AMP label next to search results that alerts searchers to lightning-fast mobile pages. This month, Twitter user @Jonny_J_ drew attention to an interesting Google test that replaces the traditional AMP label with ‘Instant’.
After trying a few mobile searches ourselves, we were able to replicate the result in Top Stories:
This update could have a real impact on mobile click-through rates. We suspect that few searchers are familiar with what AMP means – an ‘Instant’ label could better describe the benefits of AMP pages in the search results, shepherding ever more traffic towards AMP adopters.
The Mobile-First Index has begun
Google’s Gary Illyes revealed at SMX East this week that the mobile-first index has begun rolling out, though only for a small proportion of their total index.
In fact, those hoping for definite news regarding the mobile-first index might be holding their breath for a while: Illyes admitted that the change will happen incredibly slowly, with more sites being added as they meet certain criteria.
What does that mean? Well, Google will be looking at the similarity between desktop and mobile sites – including content, links, images, video and more – and those with a greater degree of similarity can expect to be moved onto the mobile-first index faster.
Whether that will be a good or bad thing is yet to be seen, and it’s also unclear how this might affect sites with no mobile site at all. In short, it could still be a long time before the dust settles on mobile-first and what it means for your business.
What happened in the paid digital world this month?
Adwords campaign’ budget cap changes
As of early October 2017, Adwords campaigns are capable of spending up to two times their daily budget. This means advertisers will occasionally notice Google over-delivering their ads by overspending twice their set daily budget. This change might make many advertisers worry about exceeding their monthly budget targets, but Google is claiming that this won’t affect the overall monthly charging limit (avg. number of days in the month X your daily average budget). Essentially, the reason for introducing this approach is to maximise performance when the traffic spikes whilst evening out on lower-performing days. This should also ease up manual campaign budget management.
Read more on this and how to check the oover-delivery by clicking here.
Less ad rotation options on Google
Google is dropping two out of the four ad rotation settings, for simplification. As such, there will be only “Optimise: Prefer best performing ads” and “Do not optimize: Rotate ads indefinitely” options available – “Optimise for conversions” and “Rotate evenly” will be no longer supported. The new “Optimise” setting will use different signals (i.e. location, device, search term etc) to optimise for clicks whilst the “Rotate indefinitely” will rotate all ads evenly and equally.
If one would like to optimise for conversions, the automated bid strategy “Optimise for conversions” can be used, in which case Adwords will automatically select the “Optimise” ad rotation setting. Read more on this here.
Stronger ad visibility and performance achieved by having multiple ads within each ad group
Following the previous ad rotation setting update, Google has stressed the importance of having three to five ads per ad group, if marketers wanted to achieve stronger ad visibility and improved performance. This is particularly for the “Optimised” ad rotation setting. Having more ads within each ad group not only gives the advantage of being able to test different copy, but it can also increase impressions and clicks without any drastic changes in bids or budget.
Read more on this here.
You can now ‘’maximise clicks” in Bing Ads
A bid strategy that has been available in AdWords for quite a while, has now been launched by Bing Ads as well. The “maximise clicks” strategy is finally coming to life on Bing, allowing the system to automatically adjust bids whilst maximizing the number of clicks advertisers can receive within their budgets. This bid strategy is also going to allow advertisers to set a max bid ceiling that will apply to all bids in the campaign. Read more on this here.
Bid strategy overrides on AdWords
A recent announcement from Google informs us that as of November 2017, all strategies must be set at the campaign level. Previously, advertisers were able to override campaign bid strategies with ad group and keyword bid strategies, but this will no longer be supported.