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Posted by Dr-Pete

They say history repeats itself. In the case of the great 301 vs 302 vs rel=canonical debate, it repeats itself about every three months. And in the case of this Whiteboard Friday, it repeats once every two years as we revisit a still-relevant topic in SEO and re-release an episode that's highly popular to this day. Join Dr. Pete as he explains how bots and humans experience pages differently depending on which solution you use, why it matters, and how each choice may be treated by Google.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, it's Dr. Pete, your friendly neighborhood marketing scientist here at Moz, and I want to talk today about an issue that comes up probably about every three months since the beginning of SEO history. It's a question that looks something like this: Aren't 301s, 302s, and canonicals all basically the same?

So if you're busy and you need the short answer, it's, "No, they're not." But you may want the more nuanced approach. This popped up again about a week [month] ago, because John Mueller on the Webmaster Team at Google had posted about redirection for secure sites, and in it someone had said, "Oh, wait, 302s don't pass PageRank."

John said, "No. That's a myth. It's incorrect that 302s don't pass PR," which is a very short answer to a very long, technical question. So SEOs, of course, jumped on that, and it turned into, "301s and 302s are the same, cats are dogs, cakes are pie, up is down." We all did our freakout that happens four times a year.

So I want to get into why this is a difficult question, why these things are important, why they are different, and why they're different not just from a technical SEO perspective, but from the intent and why that matters.

I've talked to John a little bit. I'm not going to put words in his mouth, but I think 95% of this will be approved, and if you want to ask him, that's okay afterwards too.

Why is this such a difficult question?

So let's talk a little bit about classic 301, 302. So a 301 redirect situation is what we call a permanent redirect. What we're trying to accomplish is something like this. We have an old URL, URL A, and let's say for example a couple years ago Moz moved our entire site from seomoz.org to moz.com. That was a permanent change, and so we wanted to tell Google two things and all bots and browsers:

  1. First of all, send the people to the new URL, and, second,
  2. pass all the signals. All these equity, PR, ranking signals, whatever you want to call them, authority, that should go to the new page as well.

So people and bots should both end up on this new page.

A classic 302 situation is something like a one-day sale. So what we're saying is for some reason we have this main page with the product. We can't put the sale information on that page. We need a new URL. Maybe it's our CMS, maybe it's a political thing, doesn't matter. So we want to do a 302, a temporary redirect that says, "Hey, you know what? All the signals, all the ranking signals, the PR, for Google's sake keep the old page. That's the main one. But send people to this other page just for a couple of days, and then we're going to take that away."

So these do two different things. One of these tells the bots, "Hey, this is the new home," and the other one tells it, "Hey, stick around here. This is going to come back, but we want people to see the new thing."

So I think sometimes Google interprets our meaning and can change things around, and we get frustrated because we go, "Why are they doing that? Why don't they just listen to our signals?"

Why are these differentiations important?

The problem is this. In the real world, we end up with things like this, we have page W that 301s to page T that 302s to page F and page F rel=canonicals back to page W, and Google reads this and says, "W, T, F." What do we do?

We sent bad signals. We've done something that just doesn't make sense, and Google is forced to interpret us, and that's a very difficult thing. We do a lot of strange things. We'll set up 302s because that's what's in our CMS, that's what's easy in an Apache rewrite file. We forget to change it to a 301. Our devs don't know the difference, and so we end up with a lot of ambiguous situations, a lot of mixed signals, and Google is trying to help us. Sometimes they don't help us very well, but they just run into these problems a lot.

In this case, the bots have no idea where to go. The people are going to end up on that last page, but the bots are going to have to choose, and they're probably going to choose badly because our intent isn't clear.

How are 301s, 302s, and rel=canonical different?

So there are a couple situations I want to cover, because I think they're fairly common and I want to show that this is complex. Google can interpret, but there are some reasons and there's some rhyme or reason.

1. Long-term 302s may be treated as 301s.

So the first one is that long-term 302s are probably going to be treated as 301s. They don't make any sense. If you set up a 302 and you leave it for six months, Google is going to look at that and say, "You know what? I think you meant this to be permanent and you made a mistake. We're going to pass ranking signals, and we're going to send people to page B." I think that generally makes sense.

Some types of 302s just don't make sense at all. So if you're migrating from non-secure to secure, from HTTP to HTTPS and you set up a 302, that's a signal that doesn't quite make sense. Why would you temporarily migrate? This is probably a permanent choice, and so in that case, and this is actually what John was addressing in this post originally, in that case Google is probably going to look at that and say, "You know what? I think you meant 301s here," and they're going to pass signals to the secure version. We know they prefer that anyway, so they're going to make that choice for you.

If you're confused about where the signals are going, then look at the page that's ranking, because in most cases the page that Google chooses to rank is the one that's getting the ranking signals. It's the one that's getting the PR and the authority.

So if you have a case like this, a 302, and you leave it up permanently and you start to see that Page B is the one that's being indexed and ranking, then Page B is probably the one that's getting the ranking signals. So Google has interpreted this as a 301. If you leave a 302 up for six months and you see that Google is still taking people to Page A, then Page A is probably where the ranking signals are going.

So that can give you an indicator of what their decision is. It's a little hard to reverse that. But if you've left a 302 in place for six months, then I think you have to ask yourself, "What was my intent? What am I trying to accomplish here?"

Part of the problem with this is that when we ask this question, "Aren't 302s, 301s, canonicals all basically the same?" what we're really implying is, "Aren't they the same for SEO?" I think this is a legitimate but very dangerous question, because, yes, we need to know how the signals are passed and, yes, Google may pass ranking signals through any of these things. But for people they're very different, and this is important.

2. Rel=canonical is for bots, not people.

So I want to talk about rel=canonical briefly because rel=canonical is a bit different. We have Page A and Page B again, and we're going to canonical from Page A to Page B. What we're basically saying with this is, "Look, I want you, the bots, to consider Page B to be the main page. You know, for some reason I have to have these near duplicates. I have to have these other copies. But this is the main one. This is what I want to rank. But I want people to stay on Page A."

So this is entirely different from a 301 where I want people and bots to go to Page B. That's different from a 302, where I'm going to try to keep the bots where they are, but send people over here.

So take it from a user perspective. I have had in Q&A all the time people say, "Well, I've heard that rel=canonical passes ranking signals. Which should I choose? Should I choose that or 301? What's better for SEO?"

That's true. We do think it generally passes ranking signals, but for SEO is a bad question, because these are completely different user experiences, and either you're going to want people to stay on Page A or you're going to want people to go to Page B.

Why this matters, both for bots and for people

So I just want you to keep in mind, when you look at these three things, it's true that 302s can pass PR. But if you're in a situation where you want a permanent redirect, you want people to go to Page B, you want bots to go to Page B, you want Page B to rank, use the right signal. Don't confuse Google. They may make bad choices. Some of your 302s may be treated as 301s. It doesn't make them the same, and a rel=canonical is a very, very different situation that essentially leaves people behind and sends bots ahead.

So keep in mind what your use case actually is, keep in mind what your goals are, and don't get over-focused on the ranking signals themselves or the SEO uses because all off these three things have different purposes.

So I hope that makes sense. If you have any questions or comments or you've seen anything weird actually happen on Google, please let us know and I'll be happy to address that. And until then, we'll see you next week.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Posted by KameronJenkins

If the last day of MozCon felt like it went too fast or if you forgot everything that happened today (we wouldn't judge — there were so many insights), don't fret. We captured all of day three's takeaways so you could relive the magic of day three. 

Don't forget to check out all the photos with Roger from the photobooth! They're available here in the MozCon Facebook group. Plus: You asked and we delivered: the 2019 MozCon speaker walk-on playlist is now live and available here for your streaming pleasure. 

Cindy Krum— Fraggles, Mobile-First Indexing, & the SERP of the Future 

If you were hit with an instant wave of nostalgia after hearing Cindy's walk out music, then you are in good company and you probably were not disappointed in the slightest by Cindy’s talk on Fraggles.

First learning of the day: Fraggles. Fragment + Handles. A piece of information and an anchor that scrolls directly to the information on the page @Suzzicks #MozCon

— Warrior Forum (@warriorforum) July 17, 2019
  • “Fraggles” are fragments + handles. A fragment is a piece of info on a page. A handle is something like a bookmark, jump link, or named anchor — they help people navigate through long pages to get what they’re looking for faster.
  • Ranking pages is an inefficient way to answer questions. One page can answer innumerable questions, so Google’s now can pull a single answer from multiple parts of your page, skipping sections they don’t think are as useful for a particular answer.
  • The implications for voice are huge! It means you don’t have to listen to your voice device spout off a page’s worth of text before your question is answered.
  • Google wants to index more than just websites. They want to organize the world’s information, not websites. Fraggles are a demonstration of that.
Luke Carthy — Killer Ecommerce CRO and UX Wins Using A SEO Crawler 

Luke Carthy did warn us in his talk description that we should all flex our notetaking muscles for all the takeaways we would furiously jot down — and he wasn’t wrong.

“Traffic doesn’t always mean sales, and sales doesn’t always mean traffic.” @MrLukeCarthy #MozCon

— Melina Beeston (@mkbeesto) July 17, 2019
  • Traffic doesn’t always mean sales and sales don’t always mean traffic!
  • Custom extraction is a great tool for finding missed CRO opportunities. For example, Luke found huge opportunity on Best Buy’s website — thousands of people’s site searches were leading them to an unoptimized “no results found” page.
  • You can also use custom extraction to find what product recommendations you or your customers are using at scale! Did you know that 35% of what customers buy on Amazon and 75 percent of what people watch on Netflix are the results of these recommendations?
  • For example, are you showing near-exact products or are you showing complementary products? (hint: try the latter and you’ll likely increase your sales!)
  • Custom extraction from Screaming Frog allows you to scrape any data from the HTML of the web pages while crawling them.
Andy Crestodina — Content, Rankings, and Lead Generation: A Breakdown of the 1% Content Strategy 

Next up, Andy of Orbit Media took the stage with a comprehensive breakdown of the most effective tactics for turning content into a high-powered content strategy. He also brought the fire with this sound advice that we can apply in both our work life and personal life.

If you write an amazing, high-traffic blog post, the people visiting it don't have commercial intent. People landing on a sales page have 50x higher intent. #mozcon @crestodina

— Mike Arnesen (@Mike_Arnesen) July 17, 2019
  • Blog visitors often don’t have commercial intent. One of the greatest ways to leverage blog posts for leads is by using the equity we generate from links to our helpful posts and passing that onto our product and service pages.
  • If you want links and shares, invest in original research! Not sure what to research? Look for unanswered questions or unproven statements in your industry and provide the data.
  • Original research may take longer than a standard post, but it’s much more effective! When you think about it this way, do you really have time to put out more, mediocre posts?
  • Give what you want to get. Want links? Link to people. Want comments? Comment on others people's work.
  • To optimize content for social engagement, it should feature real people, their faces, and their quotes.
  • Collaborating with other content creators on your content not only gives it built-in amplification, but it also leads to great connections and is just generally more fun.
Rob Ousbey — Running Your Own SEO Tests: Why It Matters & How to Do It Right 

Google’s algorithms have changed a heck of a lot in recent years — what’s an SEO to do? Follow Rob’s advice — both fashion and SEO — who says that the answer lies in testing.

in head terms, it's about user engagement metrics. However, links are more correllated with long tail searches. @RobOusbey #Mozcon

— Matthew Decuir (@MattBasically) July 17, 2019

  • “This is the way we’ve always done it” isn’t sufficient justification for SEO tactics in today’s search landscape.
  • In the earlier days of the algorithm, it was much easier to demote spam than it was to promote what’s truly good.
  • Rob and his team had a theory that Google was beginning to rely more heavily on user experience and satisfaction than some of the more traditional ranking factors like links.
  • Through SEO A/B testing, they found that:
    • Google relies less heavily on link signals when it comes to the top half of the results on page 1.
    • Google relies more heavily on user experience for head terms (terms with high search volume), likely because they have more user data to draw from.
  • In the process of A/B testing, they also found that the same test often produces different results on different sites. The best way to succeed in today’s SEO landscape is to cultivate a culture of testing!
Greg Gifford — Dark Helmet's Guide to Local Domination with Google Posts and Q&A 

If you’re a movie buff, you probably really appreciated Greg’s talk — he schooled us all in movie references and brought the fire with his insights on Google Posts and Q&A  

Google Posts allows you to drive conversions without driving people to your site - convert on zero-click searches! @GregGifford #MozCon

— Ruth Burr Reedy (@ruthburr) July 17, 2019

The man behind #shoesofmozcon taught us that Google is the new home page for local businesses, so we should be leveraging the tools Google has given us to make our Google My Business profiles great. For example…

Google Posts
  • Images should be 1200x900 on google posts
  • Images are cropped slightly higher than the center and it’s not consistent every time
  • The image size of the thumbnail is different on desktop than it is on mobile
  • Use Greg’s free tool at bit.ly/posts-image-guide to make sizing your Google Post images easier
  • You can also upload videos. The file size limit is 100mb and/or 30 seconds
  • Add a call-to-action button to make your Posts worth it! Just know that the button often means you get less real estate for text in your Posts
  • Don’t share social fluff. Attract with an offer that makes you stand out
  • Make sure you use UTM tracking so you can understand how your Posts are performing in Google Analytics. Otherwise, it’ll be attributed as direct traffic.
Google Q&A
  • Anyone can ask and answer questions — why not the business owner! Control the conversation and treat this feature like it's your new FAQ page.
  • This feature works on an upvote system. The answer with the most upvotes will show first.
  • Don’t include a URL or phone number in these because it’ll get filtered out.
  • A lot of these questions are potential customers! Out of 640 car dealerships’ Q&As Greg evaluated, 40 percent were leads! Of that 40 percent, only 2 questions were answered by the dealership.
 Emily Triplett Lentz — How to Audit for Inclusive Content 

Emily of Help Scout walked dropped major knowledge on the importance of spotting and eliminating biases that frequently find their way into online copy. She also hung out backstage after her talk to cheer on her fellow speakers. #GOAT. #notallheroeswearcapes.

"My desire for a specific word choice doesn't negate someone else's need for safety" -- @emilytlentz #MozCon pic.twitter.com/sXF2CjXVzo

— Yosef Silver (@ysilver) July 17, 2019
  • As content creators, we’d all do well to keep ableism in mind: discrimination in favor of able-bodied people. However, we’re often guilty of this without even knowing it.
  • One example of ableism that often makes its way into our copy is comparing dire or subideal situations with the physical state of another human (ex: “crippling”).
  • While we should work on making our casual conversation more inclusive too, this is particularly important for brands.
  • Create a list of ableist words, crawl your site for them, and then replace them. However, you’ll likely find that there is no one-size-fits-all replacement for these words. We often use words like “crazy” as filler words. By removing or replacing with a more appropriate word, we make our content better and more descriptive in the process.
  • At the end of the day, brands should remember that their desire for freedom of word choice isn’t more important than people’s right not to feel excluded and hurt. When there’s really no downside to more inclusive content, why wouldn’t we do it?

Visit http://content.helpscout.net/mozcon-2019 to learn how to audit your site for inclusive content!

Joelle Irvine — Image & Visual Search Optimization Opportunities 

Curious about image optimization and visual search? Joelle has the goods for you — and was blowing people's minds with her tips for visual optimization and how to leverage Google Lens, Pinterest, and AR for visual search.

“Visual search is easier when you don’t know what you’re looking for, when you’re looking to match a particular style, and when your search way is too long or complicated.” @joelleirvine #MozCon

— Melina Beeston (@mkbeesto) July 17, 2019
  • Visual search is not the same thing as searching for images. We’re talking about the process of using an image to search for other content.
  • Visual search like Google Lens makes it easier to search when you don’t know what you’re looking for.
  • Pinterest has made a lot of progress in this area. They have a hybrid search that allows you to find complimentary items to the one you searched. It’s like finding a rug that matches a chair you like rather than finding more of the same type of chair.
  • 62 percent of millennials surveyed said they would like to be able to search by visual, so while this is mostly being used by clothing retailers and home decor right now, visual search is only going to get better, so think about the ways you can leverage it for your brand!
Joy Hawkins — Factors that Affect the Local Algorithm that Don't Impact Organic 

Proximity varies greatly when comparing local and organic results — just ask Joy of Sterling Sky, who gets real about fake listings while walking through the findings of a recent study.

Local results not only vary by city, but even within the same zip codes, there can be drastically different local results. @JoyanneHawkins #mozcon pic.twitter.com/8g6acxUDAq

— Lily Ray (@lilyraynyc) July 17, 2019

Here are the seven areas in which the local algorithm diverges from the organic algorithm:

  • Proximity (AKA: how close is the biz to the searcher?)
    • Proximity is the #1 local ranking factor, but the #27 ranking factor on organic.
    • Studies show that having a business that’s close in proximity to the searcher is more beneficial for ranking in the local pack than in traditional organic results.
  • Rank tracking
    • Because there is so much variance by latitude/longitude, as well as hourly variances, Joy recommends not sending your local business clients ranking reports.
    • Use rank tracking internally, but send clients the leads/sales. This causes less confusion and gets them focused on the main goal.
    • Visit bit.ly/mozcon3 for insights on how to track leads from GMB
  • GMB landing pages (AKA: the website URL you link to from your GMB account)
    • Joy tested linking to the home page (which had more authority/prominence) vs. linking to the local landing page (which had more relevance) and found that traffic went way up when linking to the home page.
    • Before you go switching all your GMB links though, test this for yourself!
  • Reviews
    • Joy wanted to know how much reviews actually impacted ranking, and what it was exactly about reviews that would help or hurt.
    • She decided to see what would happen to rankings when reviews were removed. This happened to a business who was review gating (a violation of Google’s guidelines) but Joy found that reviews flagged for violations aren’t actually removed, they’re hidden, explaining why “removed” reviews don’t negatively impact local rankings.
  • Possum filter
    • Organic results can get filtered because of duplicate content, whereas local results can get filtered because they’re too close to another business in the same category. This is called the Possum filter.
  • Keywords in a business name
    • This is against Google’s guidelines but it works sadly
    • For example, Joy tested adding the word “salad bar” to a listing that didn’t even have a salad bar and their local rankings for that keyword shot up.
    • Although it works, don’t do it! Google can remove your listing for this type of violation, and they’ve been removing more listings for this reason lately.
  • Fake listings
    • New listings can rank even if they have no website, authority, citations, etc. simply because they keyword stuffed their business name. These types of rankings can happen overnight, whereas it can take a year or more to achieve certain organic rankings.
    • Spend time reporting spam listings in your clients’ niches because it can improve your clients’ local rankings.
Britney Muller — Featured Snippets: Essentials to Know & How to Target 

Closing out day three of MozCon was our very own Britney, Sr. SEO scientist extraordinaire, on everyone’s favorite SEO topic: Featured snippets!

Why are we so concerned about traffic? What about branding/messaging/share of voice? You can't NOT target a keyword just because it has a Featured Snippet @BritneyMuller #MozCon

— Ruth Burr Reedy (@ruthburr) July 17, 2019

We’re seeing more featured snippets than ever before, and they’re not likely going away. It’s time to start capitalizing on this SERP feature so we can start earning brand awareness and traffic for our clients!

Here’s how:

  • Know what keywords trigger featured snippets that you rank on page 1 for
  • Know the searcher’s intent
  • Provide succinct answers
  • Add summaries to popular posts
  • Identify commonly asked questions
  • Leverage Google’s NLP API
  • Monitor featured snippets
  • If all else fails, leverage ranking third party sites. Maybe your own site has low authority and isn’t ranking well, but try publishing on Linkedin or Medium instead to get the snippet!

There’s lots of debate over whether featured snippets send you more traffic or take it away due to zero-click results, but consider the benefits featured snippets can bring even without the click. Whether featured snippets bring you traffic, increased brand visibility in the SERPs, or both, they’re an opportunity worth chasing.

Aaaand, that's a wrap!

Thanks for joining us at this year's MozCon! And a HUGE thank you to everyone (Mozzers, partners, and crew) who helped make this year's MozCon possible — we couldn't have done it without all of you. 

What was your favorite moment of the entire conference? Tell us below in the comments! And don't forget to grab the speaker slides here


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Posted by Suzzicks


While SEOs have been doubling-down on content and quality signals for their websites, Google was building the foundation of a new reality for crawling — indexing and ranking. Though many believe deep in their hearts that "Content is King," the reality is that Mobile-First Indexing enables a new kind of search result. This search result focuses on surfacing and re-publishing content in ways that feed Google’s cross-device monetization opportunities better than simple websites ever could.

For two years, Google honed and changed their messaging about Mobile-First Indexing, mostly de-emphasizing the risk that good, well-optimized, Responsive-Design sites would face. Instead, the search engine giant focused more on the use of the Smartphone bot for indexing, which led to an emphasis on the importance of matching SEO-relevant site assets between desktop and mobile versions (or renderings) of a page. Things got a bit tricky when Google had to explain that the Mobile-First Indexing process would not necessarily be bad for desktop-oriented content, but all of Google’s shifting and positioning eventually validated my long-stated belief: That Mobile-First Indexing is not really about mobile phones, per se, but mobile content.

I would like to propose an alternative to the predominant view, a speculative theory, about what has been going on with Google in the past two years, and it is the thesis of my 2019 MozCon talk — something we are calling Fraggles and Fraggle-based Indexing

 I'll go through Fraggles and Fraggle-based indexing, and how this new method of indexing has made web content more ‘liftable’ for Google. I'll also outline how Fraggles impact the Search Results Pages (SERPs), and why it fits with Google’s promotion of Progressive Web Apps. Next, I will provide information about how astute SEO’s can adapt their understanding of SEO and leverage Fraggles and Fraggle-Based Indexing to meet the needs of their clients and companies. Finally, I'll go over the implications that this new method of indexing will have on Google’s monetization and technology strategy as a whole.

Ready? Let's dive in.

Fraggles & Fraggle-based indexing

The SERP has changed in many ways. These changes can be thought of and discussed separately, but I believe that they are all part of a larger shift at Google. This shift includes "Entity-First Indexing" of crawled information around the existing structure of Google’s Knowledge Graph, and the concept of "Portable-prioritized Organization of Information," which favors information that is easy to lift and re-present in Google’s properties — Google describes these two things together as "Mobile-First Indexing."

As SEOs, we need to remember that the web is getting bigger and bigger, which means that it's getting harder to crawl. Users now expect Google to index and surface content instantly. But while webmasters and SEOs were building out more and more content in flat, crawlable HTML pages, the best parts of the web were moving towards more dynamic websites and web-apps. These new assets were driven by databases of information on a server, populating their information into websites with JavaScript, XML or C++, rather than flat, easily crawlable HTML. 

For many years, this was a major problem for Google, and thus, it was a problem for SEOs and webmasters. Ultimately though, it was the more complex code that forced Google to shift to this more advanced, entity-based system of indexing — something we at MobileMoxie call Fraggles and Fraggle-Based Indexing, and the credit goes to JavaScript's "Fragments."

Fraggles represent individual parts (fragments) of a page for which Google overlayed a "handle" or "jump-link" (aka named-anchor, bookmark, etc.) so that a click on the result takes the users directly to the part of the page where the relevant fragment of text is located. These Fraggles are then organized around the relevant nodes on the Knowledge Graph, so that the mapping of the relationships between different topics can be vetted, built-out, and maintained over time, but also so that the structure can be used and reused, internationally — even if different content is ranking. 

More than one Fraggle can rank for a page, and the format can vary from a text-link with a "Jump to" label, an unlabeled text link, a site-link carousel, a site-link carousel with pictures, or occasionally horizontal or vertical expansion boxes for the different items on a page.

The most notable thing about Fraggles is the automatic scrolling behavior from the SERP. While Fraggles are often linked to content that has an HTML or JavaScript jump-links, sometimes, the jump-links appear to be added by Google without being present in the code at all. This behavior is also prominently featured in AMP Featured Snippets, for which Google has the same scrolling behavior, but also includes Google’s colored highlighting — which is superimposed on the page — to show the part of the page that was displayed in the Featured Snippet, which allows the searcher to see it in context. I write about this more in the article: What the Heck are Fraggles.

How Fraggles & Fraggle-based indexing works with JavaScript

Google’s desire to index Native Apps and Web Apps, including single-page apps, has necessitated Google’s switch to indexing based on Fragments and Fraggles, rather than pages. In JavaScript, as well as in Native Apps, a "Fragment" is a piece of content or information that is not necessarily a full page. 

The easiest way for an SEO to think about a Fragment is within the example of an AJAX expansion box: The piece of text or information that is fetched from the server to populate the AJAX expander when clicked could be described as a Fragment. Alternatively, if it is indexed for Mobile-First Indexing, it is a Fraggle. 

It is no coincidence that Google announced the launch of Deferred JavaScript Rendering at roughly the same time as the public roll-out of Mobile-First Indexing without drawing-out the connection, but here it is: When Google can index fragments of information from web pages, web apps and native apps, all organized around the Knowledge Graph, the data itself becomes "portable" or "mobile-first."

We have also recently discovered that Google has begun to index URLs with a # jump-link, after years of not doing so, and is reporting on them separately from the primary URL in Search Console. As you can see below from our data, they aren't getting a lot of clicks, but they are getting impressions. This is likely because of the low average position. 

Before Fraggles and Fraggle-Based Indexing, indexing # URLs would have just resulted in a massive duplicate content problem and extra work indexing for Google. Now that Fraggle-based Indexing is in-place, it makes sense to index and report on # URLs in Search Console — especially for breaking up long, drawn-out JavaScript experiences like PWA’s and Single-Page-Apps that don’t have separate URLs, databases, or in the long-run, possibly even for indexing native apps without Deep Links. 



Why index fragments & Fraggles?

If you're used to thinking of rankings with the smallest increment being a URL, this idea can be hard to wrap your brain around. To help, consider this thought experiment: How useful would it be for Google to rank a page that gave detailed information about all different kinds of fruits and vegetables? It would be easy for a query like "fruits and vegetables," that's for sure. But if the query is changed to "lettuce" or "types of lettuce," then the page would struggle to rank, even if it had the best, most authoritative information. 

This is because the "lettuce" keywords would be diluted by all the other fruit and vegetable content. It would be more useful for Google to rank the part of the page that is about lettuce for queries related to lettuce, and the part of the page about radishes well for queries about radishes. But since users don’t want to scroll through the entire page of fruits and vegetables to find the information about the particular vegetable they searched for, Google prioritizes pages with keyword focus and density, as they relate to the query. Google will rarely rank long pages that covered multiple topics, even if they were more authoritative.

With featured snippets, AMP featured snippets, and Fraggles, it's clear that Google can already find the important parts of a page that answers a specific question — they've actually been able to do this for a while. So, if Google can organize and index content like that, what would the benefit be in maintaining an index that was based only on per-pages statistics and ranking? Why would Google want to rank entire pages when they could rank just the best parts of pages that are most related to the query?

To address these concerns, historically, SEO’s have worked to break individual topics out into separate pages, with one page focused on each topic or keyword cluster. So, with our vegetable example, this would ensure that the lettuce page could rank for lettuce queries and the radish page could rank for radish queries. With each website creating a new page for every possible topic that they would like to rank for, there's lot of redundant and repetitive work for webmasters. It also likely adds a lot of low-quality, unnecessary pages to the index. Realistically, how many individual pages on lettuce does the internet really need, and how would Google determine which one is the best? The fact is, Google wanted to shift to an algorithm that focused less on links and more on topical authority to surface only the best content — and Google circumvents this with the scrolling feature in Fraggles.

Even though the effort to switch to Fraggle-based indexing, and organize the information around the Knowledge Graph, was massive, the long-term benefits of the switch far out-pace the costs to Google because they make Google’s system for flexible, monetizable and sustainable, especially as the amount of information and the number of connected devices expands exponentially. It also helps Google identify, serve and monetize new cross-device search opportunities, as they continue to expand. This includes search results on TV’s, connected screens, and spoken results from connected speakers. A few relevant costs and benefits are outlined below for you to contemplate, keeping Google’s long-term perspective in mind:

Why Fraggles and Fraggle-based indexing are important for PWAs

What also makes the shift to Fraggle-based Indexing relevant to SEOs is how it fits in with Google’s championing of Progressive Web Apps or AMP Progressive Web Apps, (aka PWAs and PWA-AMP websites/web apps). These types of sites have become the core focus of Google’s Chrome Developer summits and other smaller Google conferences.

From the perspective of traditional crawling and indexing, Google’s focus on PWAs is confusing. PWAs often feature heavy JavaScript and are still frequently built as Single-Page Apps (SPA’s), with only one or only a few URLs. Both of these ideas would make PWAs especially difficult and resource-intensive for Google to index in a traditional way — so, why would Google be so enthusiastic about PWAs? 

The answer is because PWA’s require ServiceWorkers, which uses Fraggles and Fraggle-based indexing to take the burden off crawling and indexing of complex web content.

In case you need a quick refresher: ServiceWorker is a JavaScript file — it instructs a device (mobile or computer) to create a local cache of content to be used just for the operation of the PWA. It is meant to make the loading of content much faster (because the content is stored locally) instead of just left on a server or CDN somewhere on the internet and it does so by saving copies of text and images associated with certain screens in the PWA. Once a user accesses content in a PWA, the content doesn't need to be fetched again from the server. It's a bit like browser caching, but faster — the ServiceWorker stores the information about when content expires, rather than storing it on the web. This is what makes PWAs seem to work offline, but it is also why content that has not been visited yet is not stored in the ServiceWorker.

ServiceWorkers and SEO

Most SEOs who understand PWAs understand that a ServiceWorker is for caching and load time, but they may not understand that it is likely also for indexing. If you think about it, ServiceWorkers mostly store the text and images of a site, which is exactly what the crawler wants. A crawler that uses Deferred JavaScript Rendering could go through a PWA and simulate clicking on all the links and store static content using the framework set forth in the ServiceWorker. And it could do this without always having to crawl all the JavaScript on the site, as long as it understood how the site was organized, and that organization stayed consistent. 

Google would also know exactly how often to re-crawl, and therefore could only crawl certain items when they were set to expire in the ServiceWorker cache. This saves Google a lot of time and effort, allowing them to get through or possibly skip complex code and JavaScript.

For a PWA to be indexed, Google requires webmasters to ‘register their app in Firebase,’ but they used to require webmasters to "register their ServiceWorker." Firebase is the Google platform that allows webmasters to set up and manage indexing and deep linking for their native apps, chat-bots and, now, PWA’s

Direct communication with a PWA specialist at Google a few years ago revealed that Google didn’t crawl the ServiceWorker itself, but crawled the API to the ServiceWorker. It's likely that when webmasters register their ServiceWorker with Google, Google is actually creating an API to the ServiceWorker, so that the content can be quickly and easily indexed and cached on Google’s servers. Since Google has already launched an Indexing API and appears to now favor API’s over traditional crawling, we believe Google will begin pushing the use of ServiceWorkers to improve page speed, since they can be used on non-PWA sites, but this will actually be to help ease the burden on Google to crawl and index the content manually.

Flat HTML may still be the fastest way to get web information crawled and indexed with Google. For now, JavaScript still has to be deferred for rendering, but it is important to recognize that this could change and crawling and indexing is not the only way to get your information to Google. Google’s Indexing API, which was launched for indexing time-sensitive information like job postings and live-streaming video, will likely be expanded to include different types of content. 

It's important to remember that this is how AMP, Schema, and many other types of powerful SEO functionalities have started with a limited launch; beyond that, some great SEO’s have already tested submitting other types of content in the API and seen success. Submitting to APIs skips Google’s process of blindly crawling the web for new content and allows webmasters to feed the information to them directly.

It is possible that the new Indexing API follows a similar structure or process to PWA indexing. Submitted URLs can already get some kinds of content indexed or removed from Google’s index, usually in about an hour, and while it is only currently officially available for the two kinds of content, we expect it to be expanded broadly.

How will this impact SEO strategy?

Of course, every SEO wants to know how to leverage this speculative theory — how can we make the changes in Google to our benefit? 

The first thing to do is take a good, long, honest look at a mobile search result. Position #1 in the organic rankings is just not what it used to be. There's a ton of engaging content that is often pushing it down, but not counting as an organic ranking position in Search Console. This means that you may be maintaining all your organic rankings while also losing a massive amount of traffic to SERP features like Knowledge Graph results, Featured Snippets, Google My Business, maps, apps, Found on the Web, and other similar items that rank outside of the normal organic results. 

These results, as well as Pay-per-Click results (PPC), are more impactful on mobile because they are stacked above organic rankings. Rather than being off to the side, as they might be in a desktop view of the search, they push organic rankings further down the results page. There has been some great reporting recently about the statistical and large-scale impact of changes to the SERP and how these changes have resulted in changes to user-behavior in search, especially from Dr. Pete Meyers, Rand Fishkin, and JumpTap.

Dr. Pete has focused on the increasing number of changes to the Google Algorithm recorded in his MozCast, which heated up at the end of 2016 when Google started working on Mobile-First Indexing, and again after it launched the Medic update in 2018. 

Rand, on the other hand, focused on how the new types of rankings are pushing traditional organic results down, resulting in less traffic to websites, especially on mobile. All this great data from these two really set the stage for a fundamental shift in SEO strategy as it relates to Mobile-First Indexing.

The research shows that Google re-organized its index to suit a different presentation of information — especially if they are able to index that information around an entity-concept in the Knowledge Graph. Fraggle-based Indexing makes all of the information that Google crawls even more portable because it is intelligently nested among related Knowledge Graph nodes, which can be surfaced in a variety of different ways. Since Fraggle-based Indexing focuses more on the meaningful organization of data than it does on pages and URLs, the results are a more "windowed" presentation of the information in the SERP. SEOs need to understand that search results are now based on entities and use-cases (think micro-moments), instead of pages and domains.

Google's Knowledge Graph

To really grasp how this new method of indexing will impact your SEO strategy, you first have to understand how Google’s Knowledge Graph works. 

Since it is an actual "graph," all Knowledge Graph entries (nodes) include both vertical and lateral relationships. For instance, an entry for "bread" can include lateral relationships to related topics like cheese, butter, and cake, but may also include vertical relationships like "standard ingredients in bread" or "types of bread." 

Lateral relationships can be thought of as related nodes on the Knowledge Graph, and hint at "Related Topics" whereas vertical relationships point to a broadening or narrowing of the topic; which hints at the most likely filters within a topic. In the case of bread, a vertical relationship-up would be topics like "baking," and down would include topics like "flour" and other ingredients used to make bread, or "sourdough" and other specific types of bread.

SEOs should note that Knowledge Graph entries can now include an increasingly wide variety of filters and tabs that narrow the topic information to benefit different types of searcher intent. This includes things like helping searchers find videos, books, images, quotes, locations, but in the case of filters, it can be topic-specific and unpredictable (informed by active machine learning). This is the crux of Google’s goal with Fraggle-based Indexing: To be able to organize the information of the web-based on Knowledge Graph entries or nodes, otherwise discussed in SEO circles as "entities." 

Since the relationships of one entity to another remain the same, regardless of the language a person is speaking or searching in, the Knowledge Graph information is language-agnostic, and thus easily used for aggregation and machine learning in all languages at the same time. Using the Knowledge Graph as a cornerstone for indexing is, therefore, a much more useful and efficient means for Google to access and serve information in multiple languages for consumption and ranking around the world. In the long-term, it's far superior to the previous method of indexing.

Examples of Fraggle-based indexing in the SERPs  Knowledge Graph

Google has dramatically increased the number of Knowledge Graph entries and the categories and relationships within them. The build-out is especially prominent for topics for which Google has a high amount of structured data and information already. This includes topics like:

  • TV and Movies — from Google Play
  • Food and Recipe — from Recipe Schema, recipe AMP pages, and external food and nutrition databases 
  • Science and medicine — from trusted sources (like WebMD) 
  • Businesses — from Google My Business. 

Google is adding more and more nodes and relationships to their graph and existing entries are also being built-out with more tabs and carousels to break a single topic into smaller, more granular topics or type of information.

As you can see below, the build-out of the Knowledge Graph has also added to the number of filters and drill-down options within many queries, even outside of the Knowledge Graph. This increase can be seen throughout all of the Google properties, including Google My Business and Shopping, both of which we believe are now sections of the Knowledge Graph:

Google Search for ‘Blazers’ with Visual Filters at the Top for Shopping Oriented Queries Google My Business (Business Knowledge Graph) with Filters for Information about Googleplex

Other similar examples include the additional filters and "Related Topics" results in Google Images, which we also believe to represent nodes on the Knowledge Graph:

0
 Advanced issues found
 
Google Images Increase in Filters & Inclusion of Related Topics Means that These Are Also Nodes on the Knowledge Graph


The Knowedge Graph is also being presented in a variety of different ways. Sometimes there's a sticky navigation that persists at the top of the SERP, as seen in many media-oriented queries, and sometimes it's broken up to show different information throughout the SERP, as you may have noticed in many of the local business-oriented search results, both shown below.

Media Knowledge Graph with Sticky Top Nav (Query for ‘Ferris Bueller’s Day Off’)

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Posted by KameronJenkins

We had another amazing day here at MozCon — our speakers delivered some incredible expertise for Day two. But there was plenty of moments in-between that was also just as spectacular. 

In no particular order, today also consisted of: 

  • Areej parading 180 slides-worth of knowledge in 14 minutes — like a boss!
  • 1,000+ attendees singing Marie happy birthday
  • Dr. Pete bringing the "wizard" in SEO wizard to his talk (and now everyone wants to know which House everyone belongs to)
  • Dogs DO like birthday cake, thank you for coming to our TED talk
  • Yogurt parfaits
  • This tender moment between Wil and Stacy, our live event captioner
  • Cat puns

And much, much more. Let's get to it! Read on for our top takeaways from day two of MozCon.

Heather Physioc — Building a Discoverability Powerhouse: Lessons From Merging an Organic, Paid, & Content Practice

Heather kicked off day two by making a strong case for un-siloing our search teams. When paid, organic, and content teams join forces, they can reach maximum effectiveness.

“We’re dividing and conquering our organic strategy playbooks across the team [...] because we can cover more ground more quickly, [...] and we can simply deliver a better product.” @HeatherPhysioc #Mozcon

— Melina Beeston (@mkbeesto) July 16, 2019

By using her own team’s experience as an example, Heather helped us see what it takes to build a powerful, cross-functional team:

  • Start with a mantra to guide your team. Theirs is “Connected brands start with connected teams.”
  • Rip the bandaid off. Get people involved in the mission and brainstorming as soon as possible.
  • While you want to start collaborating as soon as possible, make the actual changes in small, incremental steps. Develop committees dedicated to making certain aspects of the change easier.
  • “No process is precious” means establishing clear, living processes (they use Confluence to document these) that can adapt over time. Check-in regularly and ditch what isn’t serving you.
  • Commit to cross-team training not so you can do each other’s jobs, but to promote empathy and to start thinking about how your work will affect other people.
  • Just like we should avoid siloing our departments, we should avoid siloing our reporting. Bring data from the channels together to tell a cohesive story.
  • Create a culture of feedback so that feedback feels less personal and more about improving the work.
  • Even if you’re not able to change the org chart, you can still work on un-siloing by collaborating with your counterparts on other teams.

Visit https://mozcon.vmlyrconnect.com/ for even more wisdom from Heather!

Mary Bowling — Brand Is King: How to Rule in the New Era of Local Search 

Mary took the stage next to shed some light on why brand is so critical to success in this latest era of local search.

Prominence: Is the business well-known and well-regarded in its industry? Google looks at what other people say about you. @MaryBowling #MozCon

— Ruth Burr Reedy (@ruthburr) July 16, 2019
  • With so much talk about Google taking clicks away from our websites, Mary posited that Google’s actually giving local businesses a ton of opportunity to increase our conversions on the SERP itself.
  • According to research from Mike Blumenthal, 70% of local business conversions happen on the SERP with the smaller percentage happening on websites. While both are important, Mary says that local businesses really need to concentrate on owning our branded SERPs.
  • Google loves brands, and one way we can tell Google we’re a good one is to take control of what other websites say about us.
  • Want to understand Google’s recent attention on local? They’re moving from a company that helps you find answers to a company that helps you get things done.
  • Control whatever you can on your branded SERPs, whether that’s managing reviews, making sure your GMB is up to date and accurate, and investing in PR to influence news and other mentions that show up on your branded SERP.
  • Google is giving small businesses a lot of ways to attract customers. Use them to your advantage!
Casie Gillette — Making Memories: Creating Content People Remember 

Casie told us that only 20% of people remember what they read, which means you might not remember this. We’ll try not to take it personally. In the meantime, how do you create something that people will actually remember and come back for again and again?

“We are about ourselves. We care about being seen, and people solving our problems. [...] And as marketers, we need to create content that reflects just that.” @Casieg #MozCon

— Melina Beeston (@mkbeesto) July 16, 2019

Here’s some of the advice she offered:

  • People care about brands that care about them. Make your audience feel seen and you’ll win.
  • Pay attention to your audience demographics and psychographics! Make your content resonate with your audience by knowing your audience.
  • Keep your content clear and simple to give your audience the answer to their question as quickly as possible.
  • Add movement to our images when possible. It grabs attention among a sea of static images.
  • Choose colors wisely. Color can drastically impact conversions and how people respond in general.
  • Messages delivered in stories can be 22 percent more effective than pure info alone.
  • Whatever you do, commit to not being forgettable!
Wil Reynolds — 20 Years in Search & I Don't Trust My Gut or Google  

Wil Reynolds brought the honesty in a continuation of his talk from last year’s MozCon. Massive opportunity is at our fingertips. We just need to leverage the data.

@wilreynolds admits he constantly lives in hypothesis mode.

Data-driven is great, but only if you admit that data frequently changes. #mozcon

— Travis Lofley (@TravisLofley) July 16, 2019

Here are some of the best nuggets from his presentation!

  • There’s power in looking at big data. You can usually find a ton of waste and save a bunch of money that helps fund your other initiatives.
  • Every client deserves a money-saving analysis. Use big data to help you do this at scale.
  • Looking at data generically can lead you to the wrong conclusions. Instead of blindly following best practices lists and correlation studies, look at data from your own websites to see what actually moves the needle.
  • Always stay in hypothesis mode.
  • Humans are naturally inclined to bring our own bias into decision-making, which is why data is so important. You can’t know everything. Let the data tell you what to do.

Bonus! Go to bit.ly/savingben if you want to stop losing money.

Dr. Marie Haynes — Super-Practical Tips for Improving Your Site's E-A-T

Dr. Marie Haynes serves up incredible tips for how to practically improve your site’s E-A-T — something every SEO and marketer needs.

Critically important, even if not a causal search ranking factor...

• Expertise
• Authoritativeness
• Trust

...as evidenced to Google by links and mentions to your site.

By @Marie_Haynes at #MozCon pic.twitter.com/xE03nKRFO3

— Andy Crestodina (@crestodina) July 16, 2019

Those tips included things like:

  • Using Help a Reporter Out (HARO) to get authoritative mentions in publications
  • Publishing data — people love to cite original research!
  • Create articles that answer previously unanswered questions (find those on forums!)
  • Create original tools that solve common problems
  • Run a test and publish your results

Sounds a lot like link building, right? That’s intentional! Links to your site from authoritative sources is a huge factor when it comes to E-A-T.

Areej AbuAli — Fixing the Indexability Challenge: A Data-Based Framework 

How do you turn an unwieldy 2.5 million-URL website into a manageable and indexable site of just 20,000 pages? Answer: you catch Areej’s talk. 

If you have a huge site (million+ pages) with no rules for crawlers whatsoever, you're inevitably going to run into technical issues @areej_abuali #MozCon

— At #MozCon (Still, #GreenNewDeal) (@CosperClick) July 16, 2019

  • When doing an audit, it’s a good idea to include not only what the problem is, but what effect it’s causing and the proposed solution.
  • The site Areej was working on had no rules in place to direct robots, creating unlimited URLs to crawl. Crawl budget was being wasted and Google was missing what was actually important on their site. Fundamentals like these needed to be fixed first!
  • She used search volume data to determine what content was important and should be indexed. If a keyword had low search volume but was still needed for usability purposes, it was no-indexed.
  • Another barrier to Google indexing their important content was the lack of a sitemap. Areej recommended creating and submitting separate sitemaps for the different main sections of their website.
  • The site also had no core content and its only links were coming from three referring domains.
  • Despite all of Areej’s recommendations, the client failed to implement many of them and implemented some of them incorrectly. She decided to have a face-to-face meeting to clear things up.

If she were to do this all over again, here’s what she would do differently:

  • Realize that you can’t force a client to implement your recommendations
  • Take a targeted approach to the SEO audit and focus on tackling one issue at a time.
  • At the end of the day, technical problems are people problems. It doesn’t matter how good your SEO audit is if it’s never followed.

Go to bit.ly/mozcon-areej for her full methodology and helpful graphics!

Christi Olson — What Voice Means for Search Marketers: Top Findings from the 2019 Report 

Microsoft’s Christi Olson gave us the down-low on everything you need to know about voice search now and into the future based on findings from a study they ran at Microsoft.

Over half of consumers are expecting digital assistants to help make retail purchases within the next 5 years@ChristiJOlson #mozcon

— Greg Gifford (@GregGifford) July 16, 2019
  • 69 percent of respondents said they have used a digital assistant
  • 75 percent of households will have at least one smart speaker by 2020
  • Over half of consumers expect their voice assistant to help them make retail purchases within five years
  • Search is moving from answers to actions — not smart actions like “Turn on the light” but “I want to know/go/do” actions
  • Smartphones, PC, and smart speakers are the main ways people engage with voice
  • 40 percent of spoken responses come from featured snippets. This is how you win at voice search.
  • To rank in featured snippets: 1) Find queries where you’re already ranking on page one, 2) Ask what questions are related to your query and answer them on your site (hint: even without voice search data, it’s safe to assume that many of the longer and more conversational keywords in your tools were probably spoken queries!), 3) Structure your answer appropriately (paragraph, table, or bullets), however, voice devices don’t usually read tables, 4) Make sure your answers are straightforward and clear, and 5) Don’t forget SEO best practices so it’s easy for search engines to find and understand!
  • Although speakable schema markup says it’s only available for news articles, she’s seen it used (and working!) on non-news sites.
  • 25 percent of people currently are using voice to make purchases

Main takeaways? Voice is here, use schema that helps voice, and bots/actions will help enable v-commerce (voice shopping) in the future.

Visit aka.ms/moz19 to view the full report Christi based this talk on.

Paul Shapiro — Redefining Technical SEO 

Take your textbook definition of technical SEO and throw it out the window because there’s more to it than crawling, indexing, and rendering. And Paul definitely proves it.

I love this breakdown of technical #SEO by @fighto #MozCon Everyone can know a bit of technical SEO without being a techie. pic.twitter.com/qcNh5Y8Bn1

— Kici (@Kici0835) July 16, 2019

  • We’re used to thinking of SEO sitting at the center of a Venn diagram where content, links, and website architecture converge. That idea is an oversimplification and doesn’t really capture the full spirit of technical SEO.
  • If technical SEO is: “Any sufficiently technical action undertaken with the intent of improving search results” then it broadens the scope beyond just those actions that impact crawl/render/index.
  • There are four main types of technical SEO: checklist, general, blurred responsibility, and advanced-applied:
    • Checklist-style tech SEO is essentially an itemized list of technical problems you could answer yes-or-no to.
    • General technical SEO is similar to a checklist with some additional logic applied.
    • Blurred responsibility technical SEO are those tasks that lie in uncertain territories, such as items that an SEO checks but a developer would need to implement.
    • Advanced-applied SEO involves things like SEO testing, adopting new technology, data science for SEO purposes, Natural Language Processing to enhance content development, using Machine Learning for search data, and creating automation. It involves using technology to do better SEO.
  • Advanced-applied SEO means that all SEO can be technical SEO, including:
    • Redirect mapping
    • Meta descriptions
    • Content ideation
    • Link building
    • Keyword research
    • A/B testing and experimentation

Visit searchwilderness.com/mozcon-2019 for some of Paul’s python scripts he uses to make “traditional” SEO tasks technical.

Dr. Pete Meyers — How Many Words Is a Question Worth? 

Rounding out day 2 was Dr. Pete, asking the important questions: how do we find the best questions, craft content around them, and evaluate success?

Google may be using PAAs not to serve us immediately, but to learn more about searcher-query intent. #mozcon

— Mike Arnesen (@Mike_Arnesen) July 16, 2019
  • The prevalence of People Also Ask (PAA) features has exploded within the past year! Last year they were on 30 percent of all SERPs Moz tracked and now they’re on 90 percent.
  • Google is likely using PAA clicks to feed their machine learning and help them better understand query intent.
  • Since Google is using them so often, how can we take advantage?
  • Once you know what questions people are asking around your topic, you can vet which opportunities you’ll go after on the basis of credibility (am I credible enough to answer this intelligently?), competition (is this something realistically I can compete on?), and cannibalization (am I already ranking for this with some other piece on my site?)
  • When you target questions, you’ll often get much more than you bargained for… in a good way! Don’t get discouraged if your keyword research tool shows a low search volume for a query target. Chances are, ranking for that keyword also means you’ll rank well for lots of related queries too.

Dr. Pete also announced that Moz is looking into the possibility of a People Also Ask tool! For now, he’s testing the model with a manual process you can check out today. Just go to moz.com/20q and he’ll send you a personalized list of the top 20 questions for your domain or topic.

Day two — done!

Only one more day left for this year's MozCon! What stood out the most for you on day two? Tell us in the comments below!


Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don't have time to hunt down but want to read!

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Posted by KameronJenkins

Rand, Russ, Ruth, Rob, and Ross. Dana and Darren. Shannon and Sarah. We didn’t mean to (we swear we didn’t) but the first day of MozCon was littered with alliteration, takeaways, and oodles of insights from our speakers. Topics ranged from local SEO, link building, and Google tools, and there was no shortage of "Aha!" moments. And while the content was diverse, the themes are clear: search is constantly changing. 

If you're a Moz community member, you can access the slides from Day One. Not a community member yet? Sign up — it's free!

Get the speaker slides!

Ready? Let's make like Roger in his SERP submarine and dive right in!

Sarah's welcome

Our fearless leader took the stage to ready our attendees for their deep sea dive over the next three days. Our guiding theme to help set the tone? The deep sea of data that we find ourselves immersed in every day.

People are searching more than ever before on more types of devices than ever before… we truly are living in the golden age of search. As Sarah explained though, not all search is created equal. Because Google wants to answer searchers’ questions as quickly as possible, they’ve moved from being the gateway to information to being the destination for information in many cases. SEOs need to be able to work smarter and identify the best opportunities in this new landscape. 

"Let's lift each other up."@SarahBird
This is truly what #MozCon is all about!

— Sha Menz (@ShahMenz) July 15, 2019

Today, Google is a destination. they want to keep you there and give you the answer...@SarahBird #mozcon

— Greg Gifford (@GregGifford) July 15, 2019
Rand Fishkin — Web Search 2019: The Essential Data Marketers Need

Next up was Rand of SparkToro who dropped a ton of data about the state of search in 2019.

To set the stage, Rand gave us a quick review of the evolution of media: “This new thing is going to kill this old thing!” has been the theme of panicked marketers for decades. TV was supposed to kill radio. Computers were supposed to kill TV. Mobile was supposed to kill desktop. Voice search was supposed to kill text search. But as Rand showed us, these new technologies often don’t kill the old ones — they just take up all our free time. We need to make sure we’re not turning away from mediums just because they’re “old” and, instead, make sure our investments follow real behavior.

Voice search didn’t kill desktop search. Both mobile and desktop are still big. Don’t ignore either. #mozcon @randfish pic.twitter.com/YusAXepmS9

— Yosef Silver (@ysilver) July 15, 2019

Rand’s deck was also chock-full of data from Jumpshot about how much traffic Google is really sending to websites these days, how much of that comes from paid search, and how that’s changed over the years.

In 2019, Google sent ~20 fewer organic clicks via browser searches than in 2016.

In 2016, there were 26 organic clicks for every paid click. In 2019, that ratio is 11:1.

Over time, you can see a trend of Google cannibalizing more and more clicks. In 2016 there were 26 organic clicks/paid click. In 2019? 11:1. Still big but a lot smaller. @randfish #mozcon

— Ruth Burr Reedy (@ruthburr) July 15, 2019

Google still owns the lion’s share of the search market and still sends a significant amount of traffic to websites, but in light of this data, SEOs should be thinking about how their brands can benefit even without the click.

MozCon 2019 off to a great start. First of many interesting snippets from Rand Fishkin: “More than half of all Google searches are now zero-click”.

Ouch.#mozcon #mozcon2019 #contentmarketing #google #search #seo #clickthelink @Moz @randfish pic.twitter.com/au5UZSPtP5

— Jonathan Clarke (@TechnologyJon) July 15, 2019

And finally, Rand left us with some wisdom from the world of social — getting engagement on social media can get you the type of attention it takes to earn quality links and mentions in a way that’s much easier than manual, cold outreach.

Ruth Burr Reedy — Human > Machine > Human: Understanding Human-Readable Quality Signals and Their Machine-Readable Equivalents

It’s 2019. And though we all thought by this year we’d have flying cars and robots to do our bidding, machine learning has come a very long way. Almost frustratingly so — the push and pull of making decisions for searchers versus search engines is an ever-present SEO conundrum.

Ruth argued that in our pursuit of an audience, we can’t get too caught up in the middleman (Google), and in our pursuit of Google, we can’t forget the end user.

Optimizing for humans-only is inefficient. Those who do are likely missing out on a massive opportunity. Optimizing for search engines-only is reactive. Those who do will likely fall behind.

Optimizing for human-readable quality signals means even if something doesn’t turn out to be a ranking factor, you still haven’t wasted your time. #MozCon

— Ruth Burr Reedy (@ruthburr) July 15, 2019

She also left us with the very best kind of homework… homework that’ll make us all better SEOs and marketers!

  • Read the Quality Rater Guidelines
  • Ask what your site is currently benefiting from that Google might eliminate or change in the future
  • Write better (clearer, simpler) content
  • Examine your SERPs with the goal of understanding search intent so you can meet it
  • Lean on subject matter experts to make your brand more trustworthy
  • Conduct a reputation audit — what’s on the internet about your company that people can find?

And last, but certainly not least, stop fighting about this stuff. It’s boring.

Homework: Stop fighting about this stuff, it’s boring #MozCon

— Ruth Burr Reedy (@ruthburr) July 15, 2019

Thank you, Ruth!

Dana DiTomaso — Improved Reporting & Analytics Within Google Tools

Freshly fueled with cinnamon buns and glowing with the energy of a thousand jolts of caffeine, we were ready to dive back into it — this time with Dana from Kick Point.

This year was a continuation of Dana’s talk on goal charters. If you haven’t checked that out yet or you need a refresher, you can view it here

Dana emphasized the importance of data hygiene. Messy analytics, missing tracking codes, poorly labeled events… we’ve all been there. Dana is a big advocate of documenting every component of your analytics.

She also blew us away with a ton of great insight on making our reports accessible — from getting rid of jargon and using the client’s language to using colors that are compatible with printing.

Love how @danaditomaso encourages the use of labels for her report names...

"Are people getting in touch" such a great basic label. That doesn't require a lot of interpretation / translation #mozcon pic.twitter.com/ZLUwoY1L7J

— Wil Reynolds (@wilreynolds) July 15, 2019

And just when we thought it couldn’t get any more actionable, Dana drops some free Google Data Studio resources on us! You can check them out here.

(Also, close your tabs!)

Rob Bucci — Local Market Analytics: The Challenges and Opportunities

The first thing you need to know is that Rob finally did it — he finally got a cat.

.@STATrob kicked off his preso with a kitten and I couldn’t be more interested in local SEO now. #mozcon pic.twitter.com/PKctqVcyQJ

— Angela Rivera (@angfrivera) July 15, 2019

Very bold of Rob to assume he would have our collective attention after dropping something adorable like that on us. Luckily, we were all able to regroup and focus on his talk — how there are challenges aplenty in the local search landscape, but there are even more opportunities if you overcome them.

Rob came equipped with a ton of stats about localized SERPs that have massive implications for rank tracking.

  • 73 percent of the 1.2 million SERPs he analyzed contained some kind of localized feature.
  • 25 percent of the sites he was tracking had some degree of variability between markets.
  • 85 percent was the maximum variability he saw across zip codes in a single market.

That’s right… rankings can vary by zip code, even for queries you don’t automatically associate as local intent. Whether you’re a national brand without physical storefronts or you’re a single-location retail store, localization has a huge impact on how you show up to your audience.

With this in mind, Rob announced a huge initiative that Moz has been working on… Local Market Analytics — complete with local search volume! Eep! See how you perform on hyper-local SERPs with precision and ease — whether you’re an online or location-based business.

@STATrob⁩ with a mic drop. All slides are capability reporting in Local Marketing Analytics tool in Moz Pro. #mozcon pic.twitter.com/s5aG9YCxzc

— Jeff Russell (@rock_hawk) July 15, 2019


It launched today as an invitation-only limited release. Want an invite? Request it here

Ross Simmonds— Keywords Aren't Enough: How to Uncover Content Ideas Worth Chasing

Ross Simmonds was up next, and he dug into how you might be creating content wrong if you’re building it strictly around keyword research.

The methodology we marketers need to remember is Research - Rethink - Remix.

Research:
  • Find the channel your audience spends time on. What performs well? How can you serve this audience?
Rethink:
  • Find the content that your audience wants most. What topics resonate? What stories connect?
Remix:
  • Measure how your audience responds to the content. Can this be remixed further? How can we remix at scale?

Awesome.
Ross lays out the process for finding the user / channel / content fit.

Here's the framework...
Resarch > Rethink > Remix

By @TheCoolestCool #mozcon pic.twitter.com/cBRCIZIony

— Andy Crestodina (@crestodina) July 15, 2019

If you use this method and you still aren’t sure if you should pursue a content opportunity, ask yourself the following questions:

  • Will it give us a positive ROI?
  • Does it fall within our circle of competence?
  • Does the benefit outweigh the cost of creation?
  • Will it give us shares and links and engagement?

Thanks, Ross, for such an actionable session!

Shannon McGuirk — How to Supercharge Link Building with a Digital PR Newsroom

Shannon of Aira Digital took the floor with real-life examples of how her team does link building at scale with what she calls the “digital PR newsroom.”

The truth is, most of us are still link building like it’s 1948 with “planned editorial” content. When we do this, we’re missing out on a ton of opportunity (about 66%!) that can come from reactive editorial and planned reactive editorial.

Shannon encouraged us to try tactics that have worked for her team such as:

  • Having morning scrum meetings to go over trending topics and find reactive opportunities
  • Staffing your team with both storytellers and story makers
  • Holding quarterly reviews to see which content types performed best and using that to inform future work

Her talk was so good that she even changed Cyrus’s mind about link building!

Not an easy thing to do! :)

INCREDIBLE talk by @ShannonMcGuirk_ !!!

Don't miss her #MozCon deck on strategic link building! https://t.co/f10KGDYt7y

— Britney Muller (@BritneyMuller) July 15, 2019

For free resources on how you can set up your own digital PR newsroom, visit: aira.net/mozcon19.

Darren Shaw— From Zero to Local Ranking Hero

Next up, Darren of Whitespark chronicled his 8-month long journey to growing a client’s local footprint.

Here’s what he learned and encouraged us to implement in response:

  • Track from multiple zip codes around the city
  • Make sure your citations are indexed
  • The service area section in GMB won’t help you rank in those areas. It’s for display purposes only
  • Invest in a Google reviews strategy
  • The first few links earned really have a positive impact, but it reaches a point of diminishing returns
  • Any individual strategy will probably hit a point of diminishing returns
  • A full website is better than a single-page GMB website when it comes to local rankings

As SEOs, we’d all do well to remember that it’s not one specific activity, but the aggregate, that will move the needle!

@DarrenShaw_ is on stage at #MozCon right now sharing all the awesome details of his case study on going From Zero to Local Ranking Hero. Get an inside look into the process, strategies, and tactics implemented on our site! https://t.co/7UXOpcwr5A

— Whitespark (@whitespark) July 15, 2019

Russ Jones — Esse Quam Videri: When Faking it is Harder than Making It

Rounding out day one of MozCon was our very own Russ Jones on Esse Quam Videri — “To be, rather than to seem.”

By Russ’s own admission, he’s a pretty good liar, and so too are many SEOs. In a poll Russ ran on Twitter, he found that 64 percent of SEOs state that they have promoted sites they believe are not the best answer to the query. We can be so “rank-centric” that we engage in tactics that make our websites look like we care about the users, when in reality, what we really care about is that Google sees it.

Russ encouraged SEOs to help guide the businesses we work for to “be real companies” rather than trying to look like real companies purely for SEO benefit.

Thanks to Russ for reminding us to stop sacrificing the long run for the short run!

Really great talk by @rjonesx today! Great mix of philosophical food for thought & actionable takeaways. I left feeling inspired and like I have specific action items. #mozcon #mozcon2019 pic.twitter.com/s46LvWkmIT

— Charissa Hearon (@thatnewidea) July 16, 2019

Phew — what a day!

And it ain't over yet! There are two more days to make the most of MozCon, connect with fellow attendees, and pick the brains of our speakers. 

In the meantime, tell me in the comments below — if you had to pick just one thing, what was your favorite part about day one?



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Posted by BritneyMuller

Once you've identified where the opportunity to nab a featured snippet lies, how do you go about targeting it? Part One of our "Featured Snippet Opportunities" series focused on how to discover places where you may be able to win a snippet, but today we're focusing on how to actually make changes that'll help you do that. 

Joining us at MozCon next week? This video is a great lead up to Britney's talk: Featured Snippets: Essentials to Know & How to Target.

Give a warm, Mozzy welcome to Britney as she shares pro tips and examples of how we've been able to snag our own snippets using her methodology.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Today, we are going over targeting featured snippets, Part 2 of our featured snippets series. Super excited to dive into this.

What's a featured snippet?

For those of you that need a little brush-up, what's a featured snippet? Let's say you do a search for something like, "Are pigs smarter than dogs?" You're going to see an answer box that says, "Pigs outperform three-year old human children on cognitive tests and are smarter than any domestic animal. Animal experts consider them more trainable than cats or dogs." How cool is that? But you'll likely see these answer boxes for all sorts of things. So something to sort of keep an eye on. How do you become a part of that featured snippet box? How do you target those opportunities?

Last time, we talked about finding keywords that you rank on page one for that also have a featured snippet. There are a couple ways to do that. We talk about it in the first video. Something I do want to mention, in doing some of that the last couple weeks, is that Ahrefs can help you discover your featured snippet opportunities. I had no idea that was possible. Really cool, go check them out. If you don't have Ahrefs and maybe you have Moz or SEMrush, don't worry, you can do the same sort of thing with a Vlookup.

So I know this looks a little crazy for those of you that aren't familiar. Super easy. It basically allows you to combine two sets of data to show you where some of those opportunities are. So happy to link to some of those resources down below or make a follow-up video on how to do just that.

1. Identify

All right. So step one is identifying these opportunities. You want to find the keywords that you're on page one for that also have this answer box. You want to weigh the competitive search volume against qualified traffic. Initially, you might want to just go after search volume. I highly suggest you sort of reconsider and evaluate where might the qualified traffic come from and start to go after those.

2. Understand

From there, you really just want to understand the intent, more so even beyond this table that I have suggested for you. To be totally honest, I'm doing all of this with you. It's been a struggle, and it's been fun, but sometimes this isn't very helpful. Sometimes it is. But a lot of times I'm not even looking at some of this stuff when I'm comparing the current featured snippet page and the page that we currently rank on page one for. I'll tell you what I mean in a second.

3. Target

So we have an example of how I've been able to already steal one. Hopefully, it helps you. How do you target your keywords that have the featured snippet?

  • Simplifying and cleaning up your pages does wonders. Google wants to provide a very simple, cohesive, quick answer for searchers and for voice searches. So definitely try to mold the content in a way that's easy to consume.
  • Summaries do well. Whether they're at the top of the page or at the bottom, they tend to do very, very well.
  • Competitive markup, if you see a current featured snippet that is marked up in a particular way, you can do so to be a little bit more competitive.
  • Provide unique info
  • Dig deeper, go that extra mile, provide something else. Provide that value.
How To Target Featured Snippet Examples

What are some examples? So these are just some examples that I personally have been running into and I've been working on cleaning up.

  • Roman numerals. I am trying to target a list result, and the page we currently rank on number one for has Roman numerals. Maybe it's a big deal, maybe it's not. I just changed them to numbers to see what's going to happen. I'll keep you posted.
  • Fix broken links. But I'm also just going through our page and cleaning it. We have a lot of older content. I'm fixing broken links. I have the Check My Links tool. It's a Chrome add-on plugin that I just click and it tells me what's a 404 or what I might need to update.
  • Fixing spelling errors or any grammatical errors that may have slipped through editors' eyes. I use Grammarly. I have the free version. It works really well, super easy. I've even found some super old posts that have the double or triple spacing after a period. It drives me crazy, but cleaning some of that stuff up.
  • Deleting extra markup. You might see some additional breaks, not necessarily like that ampersand. But you know what I mean in WordPress where it's that weird little thing for that break in the space, you can clean those out. Some extra, empty header markup, feel free to delete those. You're just cleaning and simplifying and improving your page.

One interesting thing that I've come across recently was for the keyword "MozRank." Our page is beautifully written, perfectly optimized. It has all the things in place to be that featured snippet, but it's not. That is when I fell back and I started to rely on some of this data. I saw that the current featured snippet page has all these links.

So I started to look into what are some easy backlinks I might be able to grab for that page. I came across Quora that had a question about MozRank, and I noticed that — this is a side tip — you can suggest edits to Quora now, which is amazing. So I suggested a link to our Moz page, and within the notes I said, "Hello, so and so. I found this great resource on MozRank. It completely confirms your wonderful answer. Thank you so much, Britney."

I don't know if that's going to work. I know it's a nofollow. I hope it can send some qualified traffic. I'll keep you posted on that. But kind of a fun tip to be aware of.

How we nabbed the "find backlinks" featured snippet

All right. How did I nab the featured snippet "find backlinks"? This surprised me, because I hardly changed much at all, and we were able to steal that featured snippet quite easily. We were currently in the fourth position, and this was the old post that was in the fourth position. These are the updates I made that are now in the featured snippet.

Clean up the title

So we go from the title "How to Find Your Competitor's Backlinks Next Level" to "How to Find Backlinks." I'm just simplifying, cleaning it up.

Clean up the H2s

The first H2, "How to Check the Backlinks of a Site." Clean it up, "How to Find Backlinks?" That's it. I don't change step one. These are all in H3s. I leave them in the H3s. I'm just tweaking text a little bit here and there.

Simplify and clarify your explanations/remove redundancies

I changed "Enter your competitor's domain URL" — it felt a little duplicate — to "Enter your competitor's URL." Let's see. "Export results into CSV," what kind of results? I changed that to "export backlink data into CSV." "Compile CSV results from all competitors," what kind of results? "Compile backlink CSV results from all competitors."

So you can look through this. All I'm doing is simplifying and adding backlinks to clarify some of it, and we were able to nab that.

So hopefully that example helps. I'm going to continue to sort of drudge through a bunch of these with you. I look forward to any of your comments, any of your efforts down below in the comments. Definitely looking forward to Part 3 and to chatting with you all soon.

Thank you so much for joining me on this edition of Whiteboard Friday. I look forward to seeing you all soon. See you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com



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Posted by Kirsten_Barkved

Show of hands if the following scenario has ever happened to you:

You make it to a conference. You sit through three to four days of amazing content, network like a boss, fill up on coffee and donuts, and cover page after page of notes — your wrist is dangerously close to being diagnosed with carpal tunnel. The energy in the room is contagious and everyone leaves the conference with the promise of new strategies, connections, and ideas that have the possibility to transform the way you think about business.

Photo credit: Turk Photos

At least, that’s the dream. The reality? Once the conference is over, you're back to the grind, no longer surrounded by that vibrant "we can do anything" energy that had you so inspired and hyped just days before. The buzz is now a dull hum. Your notebook is full of scribbles that you can no longer decipher, and you have a daunting to-do list to catch up on while you nurse a sugar hangover from eating three-days worth of donuts.

You’ve lost the fire. The conference motivation is gone. You, my friend, have the post-conference scaries.

With MozCon fast approaching, the excitement is building. But so is the anxiety: you know there’s going to be a ton of insightful talks and takeaways to write home about — how do you keep all that goodness going after MozCon?

We've all been there! And we want to make sure you’re set up for success. So myself and our Subject Matter Experts whipped up an extensive and effective guide to ensure you can put all the goodness you’ve absorbed at MozCon to work straight away. Read on to see what Britney MullerRob Bucci, Cyrus ShepardDr. Pete, and Miriam Ellis have to offer!

Get your tickets before they're gone!

Before you head to MozCon, though, make sure you do these things first

We know this isn’t your first rodeo. But on the off chance that it is, or if you need a reminder before you set foot in MozCon, make like the Boy Scouts of America: Be prepared.

Because I’m a keener (remind me to tell you about the time I waited for 24 hours to be first in line for The Fellowship of the Ring movie) with a tendency to overprepare (remind me also to tell you about my first day of school where I packed all my favorite Nancy Drews, my best pencil crayons, a raincoat, and a pair of extra socks), I spend quite a chunk of time ensuring I have everything I need before an event. 

You don't need to be as prepared as my eight-year-old self, but here’s a brief checklist of things to do before you pack your bags and set sail for MozCon:

  • Study the agenda — You’ve likely already glanced at who’s speaking. Take another skim to get an idea of who is speaking and what topics will fulfill an educational gap. Even if a topic isn't related to your area of work, it's still worthwhile to listen — who knows what you'll uncover. 
  • Set goals for what you’d like to learn — Whatever your game plan looks like, flesh it out to flesh out. Show up ready to learn.
  • Prepare your note-taking tools — There is no such thing as too many pens, not at a conference like MozCon. You’ll be taking a ton of notes, so prepare your note-taking tools, whatever they may be — charge your laptop or tablets, pack a spare notebook and some well-inked pens, or practice your telepathy if you plan on sending takeaways to your team via your mind.
  • Subscribe to the Moz blog — We have oodles of content for you to sink your teeth into and there’s something for everyone, from basic SEO to local search to the nitty-gritty technical. Plus, we'll be doing conference recaps after each day, so even if you couldn't make it this year, you'll get all the juicy details straight to your inbox when you subscribe.
  • Make connections — There is ample opportunity at MozCon to network and meet new people but it never hurts to get a lay of the digital land before you step foot in Seattle. Follow the hashtag #mozcon on Twitter to stay up to date with MozCon goers and ask important questions of our speakers, like this:

#mozcon The single most important question that probably needs to be answered before anything else: did you or did you not get the cat? #mozcon #CatCon pic.twitter.com/CGBszFXsI8

— STAT Search Analytics (@getSTAT) July 9, 2018

You can also join the Facebook group to find out when people are arriving and pop in on conversations to get your name and face out there. If you know of people you want to reconnect that will be attending, now is a good idea to reach out and reconnect. Set up a time to chat over a coffee or maybe make plans to sit together at our Birds of Feather table.

At the conference

It's Day One of MozCon and you've successfully found the coffee. Now what?

Attend every session...

And we mean every. Single. Session. 

The great thing about MozCon is that it's a single track session, so you don't have to pick one talk over another. That also means, though, that the temptation can be high for skipping one or two. 

“It may be tempting to sleep in on a morning session, but so much magic happens when you aren't there. You never know what nuggets of insight you'll miss.” — Cyrus Shepard
"I often find I have some of my best ideas at conferences, even if they're not related to anything the speaker is talking about. Capture those ideas, too, and add them to your action plan." — Dr. Pete
...But don't be afraid to mingle in-between sessions
"Take breaks if you feel like it and spend some time meeting people out in the lobby. New MozCon friends can help hold each other accountable after the conference. I've met some of my closest industry friends in the lobby of conferences during a session — hi, Cyrus!" — Britney Muller
Remember what you learn

There's a lot of information to digest and chances are that your hurried note-taking isn't going to make a ton of sense once the MozCon high is over. To make deciphering your notes easier once you're back at the office, add three key takeaways or any follow up you want to do on the topic after each session.

You can also create a page dedicated to takeaways that you think are worthy. While I’m definitely taking notes during each session, I reserve a separate page for any ideas, theories, or strategies that I think are valuable to explore.

Make sure you're keeping your goals in mind, too. If you had planned on learning new things at MozCon, keep your ears open for any topics that piqued your interest.

"Write down at least one topic that grabbed your interest but that you felt could be studied further and commit to doing that study at your business and publishing your findings. Don't forget to ping the original presenter when you do, letting them know their talk inspired your further investigation." — Miriam Ellis
"At the end of each conference day, I also like to schedule emails to myself (a few weeks out) as reminders to attempt the things I learned about that day." — Britney Muller
Keep tabs on live tweeters

MozCon has some pretty prolific live tweeters that know just how to distill all the right takeaways into 280 characters (which, IMO, is quite a feat). Some of our past MozCon live-tweeters have included: 

You can also keep up with the conference goers by following the conference hashtag, #mozcon.

"Also, follow Cyrus Shepard on Twitter and do everything he says!" — Britney Muller
Take note of any free templates, tools, or spreadsheets

Much like parents who want nothing but the best from you (and also to sometimes show off your life successes on the family fridge), the speakers want you to excel in life after MozCon. Which is why you’re bound to find a plethora of downloadable templates and spreadsheets during their talk. Take note of any that you'd like to try back at the office. Make sure to also follow the speakers on Twitter for any updates or insider tips on how to make the most of their new resources.

Thanks #mozcon! Here is the Google Tag Manager recipe we released today to help you measure if people are actually reading your content. Enjoy! https://t.co/9Iy8VQA51l

— Dana DiTomaso (@danaditomaso) July 11, 2018

Download the talks

I’m sure you already know, but on the off chance you didn't know, you’ll be able to download all the speaker's slide decks once their talks are over. So if there was something you missed, wanted to share with the team at home base, or needed clarification on, you can do so with one click of a button once they're available.

After the conference Write about it

I know the last thing you want to do right after three days of learning and writing is to go and do more writing. But Future You will be so happy that Past You did this one thing. 

The second you're done MozCon-ing, write everything down. Get it all out of your brain and onto paper. Because otherwise, you'll forget why you underlined a word or phrase three times or the cool new project ideas you had while chatting at dinner. You won't mean to, obviously. It's just one of those unfortunate facts of life. Kind of like drifting off to sleep with a really great idea for a band name — you'll tuck it away in a pocket of your brain, certain you won't forget about it in the morning. But you will. And the world will never know of They Might Be Little Pigeons. 

So, write everything down the second you can.

"I'm one of those people who takes notes like, "Cheese fritters + SEO = YES!" and am very excited about it and have no idea what it meant a week later. So: Re-copy your notes or write a summary, ASAP, while it's still fresh in your mind— even if it's on the flight home." — Dr. Pete
Schedule thinking time

The first week back at the office, block out some time in your calendar to percolate over what you learned at MozCon. I can’t stress this one enough: When we get back into the real world, we dive right into our list of to-dos, at home and at work. And the longer we delay the thinking and brainstorming process, the bigger the chance we’ll lose motivation or get bogged down by more projects. 

Carve out some thinking time for yourself in your calendar the second you’re back at your desk to ask yourself some questions:

  • What really stood out for me?
  • What do I want to apply right away?
  • What is going to be effective short term vs. long term?

I like to ideate to-do lists from these questions — maybe that’s a follow-up email with the speaker or a task to read further resources from their talk. Or maybe it’s to set up a meeting with my team to try out a new strategy. The point is: if I take this time now to marinate, the better chance I have of helping out future me — and future me really appreciates that.

"It's so easy to go from hundreds of ideas to doing nothing concrete, and as soon as you return to your desk, you're going to be buried in emails and requests. Commit to something actionable before you open up your inbox." — Dr. Pete
Review your action items

Now that you’ve done your big thinking, it’s time to turn those takeaways and actions items into, well, action. 

Think back to the goals you outlined before you set foot inside MozCon — did you meet any of them? How well did the topics address your questions? And how will you apply your action items? When I’m looking over my notes for any new ideas we can execute on, I like to make a table with two columns: 1) Things that we don’t do but could and 2) Things we’re currently doing but could be doing better.

Got a lot of action items and feel a tad overwhelmed? Just remember: If you apply just one action item a week, even if it's small, that's still fifty small changes you've made in one year. And they can all add up to one big change.

You’ll want to prioritize them like so:

  • Strategic initiatives to implement right away
  • Processes you can improve
  • Areas for future learning
“A week after the conference, review your "action items" — either by yourself or with your team. Prepare a presentation for the top things you learned and share with any team members that didn't attend." — Cyrus Shepard
"Pin yourself down to three specific to-dos for the month after the conference." — Dr. Pete
Stay inspired

Remember that anything in life worth having (relationships, bangs, product launches, puzzles) requires more than just an idea — it takes time and work. Rather than let all that enthusiasm you had at MozCon fade away, keep the momentum going by reading and learning new things. A good place to start is by subscribing to daily industry reads that can fuel your inspiration. Here is just a sampling to get you started: 

"Having a go-to list of daily industry reads is a really good way to keep the sense of inspiration up." — Rob Bucci
Use your connections

What good was all that networking if you don’t put it to use — especially if, like me, you're a Level-12 Introvert?

Make sure all those hard-earned connections don't go to waste. Chances are, if you saw them at MozCon, you’ll be seeing them at the same tracks and conferences, so it'd be good to set some sort of foundation

All it takes is a LinkedIn message or an email. And they'll appreciate you following up — bonus points if you make it personal. I’ve made several follow up emails after conferences and almost all blossomed into successful working relationships thanks in large part to emails that began as though we were continuing the conversation we had at MozCon. It doesn't have to be the same as “Hi, how’s your dog, is she still afraid of traffic cones?,” but a nice "Hi, how is life after MozCon — are you settling back into the 9-5, yet?" goes a long way.

“It’s great to collect business cards, but it’s better to form life-long relationships. If you haven’t connected with those you met at MozCon, now is the time to do so. At a minimum, email everyone you enjoyed meeting with and let them know that you can be a resource for them.” — Cyrus Shepard
Takeaways

MozCon only comes once a year — like International Pancake Day or 7-11's Free Slurpee Day — so make sure you're prepared so you can keep that MozCon fire burning all year round.

Grab my MozCon ticket now!


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Posted by MiriamEllis


Last time I counted, there were upwards of 35 components to a single Google Business Profile (GBP). Hotel panels, in and of themselves, are enough to make one squeal, but even on a more “typical” GPB, it’s easy to overlook some low-lying features. Often, you may simply ignore them until life makes you engage.

A few weeks ago, a local SEO came to me with a curious real-life anecdote, in which a client was pressuring the agency to have all their staff hit the “like” button on all of the brand’s positive Google reviews. Presumably, the client felt this would help their business in some manner. More on the nitty-gritty of this scenario later, but at first, it made me face that I’d set this whole GBP feature to one side of my brain as not terribly important.

Fast forward a bit, and I’ve now spent a couple of days looking more closely at the review like button, its uses, abuses, and industry opinions about it. I’ve done a very small study, conducted a poll, and spoken to three different Google reps. Now, I’m ready to share what I’ve learned with you.

Wait, what is the “like” button?

Crash course: Rolled out in 2016, this simple function allows anyone logged into a Google account to thumbs-up any review they like. There is no opposite thumbs-down function. From the same account, you can only thumb up a single review once. Hitting the button twice simply reverses the “liking” action. Google doesn’t prevent anyone from hitting the button, including owners of the business being reviewed.

At a glance, do Google review likes influence anything?

My teammate, Kameron Jenkins, and I plugged 20 totally random local businesses into a spreadsheet, with 60 total reviews being highlighted on the front interface of the GBP. Google highlights just three reviews on the GBP and I wanted to know two things:

  1. How many businesses out of twenty had a liked review anywhere in their corpus
  2. Did the presence of likes appear to be impacting which reviews Google was highlighting on the front of the GBP?

The study was very small, and should certainly be expanded on, but here’s what I saw:

60 percent of the brands had earned at least one like somewhere in their review corpus.

15 percent of the time, Google highlighted only reviews with zero likes, even when a business had liked reviews elsewhere in its corpus. But, 85 percent of the time, if a business had some likes, at least one liked review was making it to the front of the GBP.

At a glance, I’d say it looks like a brand’s liked reviews may have an advantage when it comes to which sentiment Google highlights. This can be either a positive or negative scenario, depending on whether the reviews that get thumbed up on your listing are your positive or negative reviews.

And that leads us to…

Google’s guidelines for the use of the review likes function

But don’t get too excited, because it turns out, no such guidelines exist. Though it’s been three years since Google debuted this potentially-influential feature, I’ve confirmed with them that nothing has actually been published about what you should and shouldn’t do with this capability. If that seems like an open invitation to spam, I hear you!

So, since there were no official rules, I had to hunt for the next best thing. I was thinking about that SEO agency with the client wanting to pay them to thumb up reviews when I decided to take a Twitter poll. I asked my followers:

Unsurprisingly, given the lack of guidelines, 15 percent of 111 respondents had no idea whether it would be fishy to employ staff or markers to thumb up brand reviews. The dominant 53 percent felt it would be totally fine, but a staunch 32 percent called it spam. The latter group added additional thoughts like these:

I want to thank Tess Voecks, Gyi Tsakalakis, and everyone else for taking the poll. And I think the disagreement in it is especially interesting when we look at what happens next.

After polling the industry, I contacted three forms of Google support: phone, chat, and Twitter. If you found it curious that SEOs might disagree about whether or not paying for review likes is spam, I’m sorry to tell you that Google’s own staff doesn’t have brand-wide consensus on this either. In three parts:

1. The Google phone rep was initially unfamiliar with what the like button is. I explained it to her. First, I asked if it was okay for the business owner to hit the like button on the brand’s reviews, she confirmed that it’s fine to do that. This didn’t surprise me. But, when I asked the question about paying people to take such actions, she replied (I paraphrase):

“If a review is being liked by people apart from the owner, it’s not considered as spam.”
“What if the business owner is paying people, like staff or marketers, to like their reviews,” I asked.
“No, it’s not considered spam.”
“Not even then?”
“No,” she said.

2. Next, here’s a screenshot of my chat with a Google rep:

The final response actually amused me (i.e. yeah, go ahead and do that if you want to, but I wouldn’t do it if I were you).

3. Finally, I spoke with Google’s Twitter support, which I always find helpful:

To sum up, we had one Google rep tell is it would be fine and dandy to pay people to thumb up reviews (uh-oh!), but the other two warned against doing this. We’ll go with majority rule here and try to cobble together our own guidelines, in the absence of public ones.

My guidelines for use of the review likes function

Going forward with what we’ve learned, here’s what I would recommend:

  1. As a business owner, if you receive a review you appreciate, definitely go ahead and thumb it up. It may have some influence on what makes it to the highly-visible “front” of your Google Business Profile, and, even if not, it’s a way of saying “thank you” to the customer when you’re also writing your owner response. So, a nice review comes in, respond with thanks and hit the like button. End of story.
  2. Don’t tell anyone in your employ to thumb up your brand’s reviews. That means staff, marketers, and dependents to whom you pay allowance. Two-thirds of Google reps agree this would be spam, and 32 percent of respondents to my poll got it right about this. Buying likes is almost as sad a strategy as buying reviews. You could get caught and damage the very reputation you are hoping to build. It’s just not worth the risk.
  3. While we’re on the subject, avoid the temptation to thumbs-up your competitors’ negative reviews in hopes of getting them to surface on GBPs. Let’s just not go there. I didn’t ask Google specifically about this, but can’t you just see some unscrupulous party deciding this is clever?
  4. If you suspect someone is artificially inflating review likes on positive or negative reviews, the Twitter Google rep suggests flagging the review. So, this is a step you can take, though my confidence in Google taking action on such measures is not high. But, you could try.
How big of a priority should review likes be for local brands?

In the grand scheme of things, I’d put this low on the scale of local search marketing initiatives. As I mentioned, I’d given only a passing glance at this function over the past few years until I was confronted with the fact that people were trying to spam their way to purchased glory with it.

If reputation is a major focus for your brand (and it should be!) I’d invest more resources into creating excellent in-store experiences, review acquisition and management, and sentiment analysis than I would in worrying too much about those little thumbs. But, if you have some time to spare on a deep rep dive, it could be interesting to see if you can analyze why some types of your brand’s reviews get likes and if there’s anything you can do to build on that. I can also see showing positive reviewers that you reward their nice feedback with likes, if for no other reason than a sign of engagement.

What’s your take? Do you know anything about review likes that I should know? Please, share in the comments, and you know what I’ll do if you share a good tip? I’ll thumb up your reply!





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Posted by BenjaminEstes

After you've put in the work with technical SEO and made your discoveries, there's one thing left to do: present your findings to the client and agree on next steps. And like many things in our industry, that's easier said than done. In this week's episode of Whiteboard Friday, Benjamin Estes from Distilled presents his framework for making technical recommendations to clients and stakeholders to best position you for success


Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi. My name is Ben. I'm a principal consultant at a company called Distilled. Welcome to Whiteboard Friday. Today I'd like to talk to you about something a bit different than most Whiteboard Fridays.

I'd like to talk about how to work with clients or bosses in a different way. Instead of thinking about technical SEO and how to make technical discoveries or see what problems are, I want to talk about how to present your findings to your client after you've done that discovery. 

Problem

What's the problem that we're dealing with here? Well, the scenario is that we've got a recommendation and we're presenting it to a client or a boss.

Easy enough. But what's the goal of that situation? I would argue that there's a very specific goal, and the best way to look at it is the goal is to change the action of the individual or the organization. Now, what if that wasn't the case? You know, what if you worked with a client and none of their actions changed as a result of that engagement? Well, what was the point?

You know, should they have even trusted you in the first place to come in and help them? So if this is the specific goal that we're trying to accomplish, what's the best way to do that? Most people jump right to persuasion. They say, "If only I could something, the client would listen to me." "If only I could present the forecast."

If only I could justify the ROI, something, some mysterious research that probably hasn't been done yet and maybe can't even be done at all. My argument here is that the idea of persuasion is toxic. When you say, "If only I could this," really what you mean is, "If only I had the evidence, the client would have to do as I say." You're trying to get control over the client when you say these things.

It turns out that human beings basically do whatever they want to do, and no matter how well you make your case, if it's made for your reasons and not the client's, they're still not going to want to do the thing that you recommend. So I've introduced a framework at Distilled that helps us get past this, and that's what I'd like to share with you right now.

Approach

The key to this method is that at each step of the process you allow the client to solve the problem for themselves. You give them the opportunity to see the problem from their own perspective and maybe even come up with their own solution. There are three steps to this. 

1. Suggest

First, you suggest the problem.

When I say "suggest," I don't mean suggest a solution. I mean you plant the idea in their mind that this is a problem that needs solving. It's almost like inception. So you first say, "Here is what I see." Hold up the mirror to them. Make the observations that they haven't yet made themselves. 

2. Demonstrate

Step two, demonstrate, and what demonstrate means is you're allowing them to emulate your behavior.

You're demonstrating what you would do in that situation if you had to deal with the same problem. So you say, "Here's what I would do if I were in your shoes." 

3. Elaborate

Finally, you elaborate. You say, "Here's why I think this is a reasonable activity." Now I've got to be honest. Most of the time, in my experience, if you use this framework, you never even make it to elaboration, because the client solves the problem somewhere back here and you can just end the meeting.

The key, again, is to let the client solve the problem for themselves, for their own reason, in the way that they feel most comfortable. 

Example

Let's look at an example, because that is, again, kind of abstract. So let's say that you've made an observation in Google Search Console. The client has all these pages that Google has discovered, but they shouldn't really be in the index or indexable or discoverable at all.

Start by suggesting

So you start by suggesting. "I see in Search Console that Google has discovered 18 million pages,"when it should be, let's say, 10,000. "This is from your faceted navigation." Now notice there's no judgment. There's no hint at what should be done about this or even the severity of the problem. You're just presenting the numbers.

Now we're already sort of at a turning point. Maybe the client hears this and they do a sort of a head slap and they say, "Of course. You know, I hadn't seen that problem before. But here's what I think we should do about it." You reach some sort of agreement, and the problem is solved and the meeting is over and you get that hour back in your day. But maybe they sort of have some sort of questions about what this means, what this implies, and they want to hear your solution.

Demonstrate what you would do

Well, now it's time to demonstrate what you would do when presented with that fact. You say, "This would be fixed by adding 'nofollow' to links to that faceted content." Maybe they see how this is an obvious solution to the problem that's completely compatible with their tech stack, and again you get 50 minutes back in your day because the meeting is done.

You've done your job. Or maybe they don't. Maybe they don't understand why that would be a good solution. 

Finally, elaborate

So finally, you get to this stage, which is elaboration. "Here's why I think this is a good idea. These pages are important for user experience. You don't want to get rid of the faceted navigation in your e-commerce store, but you do want to not link to those pages for SEO reasons, because maybe there's no search volume for related terms."

So for a particular cost range for an item or something like that, there's just no associated search activity. You need the pages still. So you say, "These pages are important for user experience, but they don't satisfy any search intent." At that point, the client says, "Of course. You've come up with the ideal solution, and I'm going to implement your recommendation exactly as you've given it to me."



Or they don't. If they don't, you're no worse off. You can basically walk out of that meeting saying, "I've done everything possible to get the client on board with my recommendation, but it just didn't work out." That feeling of being able to know that you did the right thing has been a very powerful one, at least in my experience. I've been consulting for about eight years, and just going through this process helps me sleep better at night knowing that I really did my job.

We've also found that this has a really high success rate with clients too. Finally, you'll discover that it's much, much easier to put together presentations if you know that this is the format that you're going to be presenting in. So if you think that your job is to give the evidence to the client to convince them of something, there's really no end to the evidence that you could gather.

You could always gather more evidence, and when you get to that final meeting, you can say, "Oh, it's not because I saw the problem in the wrong way or I communicated it in the wrong way.It's that I didn't justify the ROI enough." There's no leaving that. That rabbit hole just keeps going, just keeps going. So again, this method has been extremely successful for Distilled. If you're interested in engaging with this more, you can read at this URL, dis.tl/present, where I give a more thorough write-up on this.

Of course, I'd love to hear any thoughts or experiences that you have with this method. Thank you very much.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com


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Posted by Lindsay_Halsey

A few years ago, while enjoying a day of skiing at Aspen Highlands with a group of girlfriends, a skier crashed into me from above, out of nowhere. He was a professional skier traveling at an exceptionally fast speed, and I felt lucky to get away with a mere leg injury. I couldn’t put weight on my leg, though, so I went to the local emergency room.

After a few hours of various doctors and nurses running scans to diagnose the issue, a new doctor whom I’d never met walked in the room. The first words out of his mouth were, “You have a radial tear in your medial meniscus”. I had no idea what he was talking about. He continued speaking in words better suited for a medical peer than a patient.

I wasn’t at all interested in medical-speak. I was a new mom, anxious to return to my family. I wanted to know for how long and to what extent this injury would impact us, and how active I could be at home while caring for our son.

I didn’t get the answers to any of those questions. Instead, my doctor left me feeling overwhelmed, lost, and frustrated.

Using industry jargon is easy to do

Whether you are a doctor, marketer, SEO, or another specialized professional, this experience made me realize that using industry jargon is easy to do. And I realized that I was susceptible myself — I speak to clients all the time with words that made them feel alienated and confused.

The words and phrases that mean a lot to us as SEO professionals mean little or nothing to our customers.

When we utilize these phrases in conversations and assume we’re communicating effectively, we may be leaving our prospects and clients feeling overwhelmed, lost, and frustrated.

Years ago, feeling that way motivated businesses to hire SEO consultants and agencies. Ample industry jargon was tossed about in the sales process, leaving a prospect set on hiring a professional since SEO was too hard to understand.

There was no way that prospect felt confident in taking a DIY approach to getting found by the search engines; there was no other option besides signing on the dotted line. With a signature in hand, an SEO consultant could begin working some behind-the-scenes magic and deliver impactful results.

Today — and over the last five years — this approach no longer works.

Collaboration is the foundation of SEO

Today, we drive results by building a business’s expertise, authority, and trust online. Sure, there are technical SEO tasks to accomplish (and we can’t forget about foundational action items like dialing in title tags and meta descriptions). But long term, significant growth comes from impacting a business’s E-A-T. And for that, collaboration is required.

As an SEO professional, I often think of myself as a rafting guide in the search engine waters. I’ve been down this river before and already know what to expect around the next bend. I’m responsible for leading a team; our collaborative success (or failure) ultimately depends on my timely, appropriate guidance.

Yet it’s not all about me. The team (or client) is just as invested in our success. We’re sharing the same raft, and we’ve chosen to navigate the same river. They have their paddles in the water and are actively engaged in our journey, eager to work together. Working together — collaboration — means success for us all.

Communication is key to collaboration

Effective communication is critical to a collaborative environment; communication relies on language. If a rafting guide says “port side paddle forward,” his team will likely look at him with confusion. If he says “left side paddle forward,” his team will understand his language and take the right action.

One way to improve communication with prospects and clients is to remove industry jargon from our vocabulary. Over the past few years, I’ve challenged myself to use more everyday words in client communication. As a result, we are closing more business and have more satisfied customers seeing better results. It’s a win, win, win.

Here are some practical examples for communicating (and therefore better collaborating) with SEO clients:

XML Sitemap // Your Website’s Resume 

Instead of telling a client that their website “lacks an XML sitemap,” I explain that this file is like a website's resume. You wouldn’t show up to a job interview without a resume that lists out your assets in an easily digestible format. A resume quickly summarizes your “contents,” or the structure of your relevant roles and experience — just like a sitemap summarizes the contents and structure of a website.

Link Building // Relationships 

When a client hears you talk about link building, they instantly recall how they feel when they receive spammy emails requesting a favor in the form of a link exchange. They may worry that this tactic is too aggressive or short-sighted and in violation of Google’s terms of service. Consider describing “link building” as building a network of a business’s professional relationships that the search engines quickly and easily understand. Putting up signposts that search engines can read.

Featured Snippet // Above #1

Clients are often hyper-focused on their rankings. If you talk to them about “gaining a featured snippet result,” that language will leave them lost and therefore unengaged in the initiative. Instead, focus on what they want: to rank #1 for a keyword they’ve chosen. If you’re working with a client on a new piece of complete content (to help propel them to the top of the search results by sharing their expertise), you can get the client onboard by telling them the goal is to be “above #1.” 

SEO // Getting Found

Perhaps the most important term of all is “SEO.” We all assume our prospects and clients understand what SEO stands for and why it is important. But more often than not, the acronym alone can lead to confusion. Try substituting “getting found in Google” anytime you’re tempted to say “SEO,” and your client will be connected to the value instead of confounded by the vocabulary.

Removing industry jargon has been the most impactful of our changes to client communication. We also recommend (and practice) sending monthly reports, actively seeking feedback, and setting clear expectations. Read more client communication tips on the Moz blog and at Pathfinder SEO.

What expressions and words do you use in client communications?

Let’s create a shared, jargon-free vocabulary to improve how we talk to our clients. Let’s stop leaving our clients feeling overwhelmed, lost, or frustrated with SEO. After all, collaboration is the foundation of SEO. And to collaborate, we must create — and meet on — shared ground.

Please share your ideas and experiences in the comments below.


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