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After a particularly busy month in March, April was far quieter in terms of search industry updates.

Google published a blog post detailing how it had seen a 20% increase in site speed in 2018 among the slowest ⅓ of websites in its index, indicating that webmasters were responding positively to the search engine’s recommendations in 2017 to do so for ranking purposes.

Google also published a new report in Search Console to help SEOs better understand how searchers find content on their site through Google Discover. This new report provides greater insights into the opportunities available for increasing organic traffic without relying on search queries.

On April 5, many SEOs reported cases of Google de-indexing or removing pages entirely from its index without just cause, an issue that was later revealed to be the result of a bug in its index. Google consequently paused all Search Console reports until the issue was resolved on April 27.

Finally, the search engine giant also confirmed that it had implemented a broad core algorithm update on April 16. John Mueller, a prominent Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, revealed that the algorithm update aimed to ensure that searchers continued to get the best answers for their queries, highlighting the importance of overall relevancy as a ranking factor.

Site Speed

When Google announced that page speed was a ranking factor for mobile searches in 2018, the world of SEO took note. Since then, Google took to their Webmasters blog in early April to recognise those who have worked to increase page speed. Key highlights included:

  • An increase to 20% for user-centric performance metrics for the slowest one-third of traffic in 2018 (compared to 2017 where no improvements were seen)
  • Over 95% of countries improved their speeds, seeing improvements across the whole web ecosystem
  • 20% reduction in abandonment rate for navigations initiated from search
  • Over a billion PageSpeed Insights audits ran for over 200 million unique URLs in 2018.
Google Search Console Adds Discover Report

Google announced on April 10 that it had added a new report to Search Console to help publishers better understand how searchers find content on their site through Google Discover. Google said that it hopes “this report is helpful in thinking about how you might optimize your content strategy to help users discover engaging information– both new and evergreen.”

What is Google Discover?

Google Discovery is a feature that helps users find breaking news on their favourite topics, such as sports or TV, without needing a query to find it. It was introduced in September 2018 as an update to the existing Google Feed that was launched the year prior, and is currently used by more than 800 million people every month. Users can access Discover via the Google app or the Google.com mobile homepage.

Search Console now includes a specific report that provides new information for webmasters to digest on the traffic they receive from Discover.

The Google de-indexing bug

Around the 5th of April, many SEOs were reporting Google de-indexing or removing web pages from their index and consequently not being displayed within the SERPs. For the majority of these websites, these pages helped generate conversions and were essential to generating revenue.

With Google finally addressing this indexing bug a couple of days after the initial chatter, they advised many SEOs to use the URL Inspection Tool to speed up re-submitting these pages into Google’s index, however this was not the most practical result for sites that had lost thousands of pages.

On April 15, Google announced via Twitter that Google Search Console was suffering from this mass indexing issue and would need to pause all index coverage and enhancement reports until the issue was resolved. Without these reports, and the URL Inspector Tool now potentially not reflecting the true live status of these webpages, many SEOs were left in the dark about the status of their pages. Search Console data was only updated on April 27, leaving many webmasters without up-to-date information on their site’s indexation status. With the data now complete once again, SEOs are now able to tackle their index coverage head-on, although many still feel that Google could have provided greater clarity when the issue was still ongoing.

Despite this issue now seeming resolved by Google’s engineers, we have now learned that data from Google Search Console over the de-indexing bug period of April 9 to April 25 could be considered as unreliable. This is due to manual actions disappearing from Search Console without any reason. If you previously had a manual action appear on your Search Console and it has not reappeared throughout this bugged period, it is likely that the manual actions are still causing an impact within the SERPs. So, can we rely on this data? Keep an eye out for any inconsistencies within this data and take anything with a pinch of salt.

Mid-April Search Ranking Algorithm Update

It was confirmed on the 16th of April that Google had rolled out another broad core algorithm update. Similar to the algorithm update that was released in March. Though many SEOs hypothesised that the algorithm update targeted low-quality pages, John Mueller confirmed that the updates as of recent focused on the relevance of pages.

“[It] might be something where we don’t think your site is exactly relevant for those specific queries. It doesn’t mean it’s a bad site, it’s just not relevant for those specific queries. So that’s something that just happens to a lot of sites overtimes. They might be really high-quality content but, over time, they’re just not seen as relevant in the overall picture of the web.” – Mueller

In short, it would appear that Google is adjusting websites’ rankings to ensure that searchers continue to get the best answers for their queries. In the Google Hangout, Mueller recommended getting objective user feedback on what your site could be doing differently to improve its user experience and targeting.

For example, if the ranking of a long-form guide on your site has seen a significant drop in rankings, this is not to say that it is of poor quality. It means that perhaps the long-tail search queries that you have crafted your heading hierarchy around might not be well targeted to the questions that your content answers. In this respect, it would be ideal to edit the titles and headings of your content to ensure that users get the exact answers that they want from your content – rather than simply targeting long-tail search queries with the highest search volume.

Alongside ensuring that your content is relevant to the search queries that it is targeting, Mueller also recommended checking the technical details such as Google’s ability to crawl and index all of your content properly. As these important parts of ensuring that your site ranks can be impacted when you make small changes to your website.

Search Industry Updates – April 2019 was last modified: May 2nd, 2019 by Hugo Whittaker

The post Search Industry Updates – April 2019 appeared first on Impression.

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This post has been written by Alex Bennett. Alex is a final year English student from the University of Nottingham and is currently part of a 10-week placement with Impression.

Conquering the fear of HTML coding

The prospect of learning to code can be daunting. There are loads of different languages that all do different things in different ways, and the whole thing can seem complicated and overwhelming. When I first encountered coding, I wrote it off as something I could never even begin to understand. There was so much jargon, and I didn’t know my <ol> from my <ul>. I’ve always been more right brain than left brain, and thought that coding just wasn’t for me. However, coding is a great skill to have in a world that’s becoming more and more reliant on technology. It’s also great to stretch your brain by learning new things, and I think pushing yourself academically is always a great thing to do.

Why is coding important?

As a final year student preparing to graduate in the summer, I think it’s so important to make sure you’re as skilled as you can possibly be before you begin to look for a job. Alongside studying, I think it’s useful to branch out and learn other skills like networking, communication and more industry-specific skills. Coding is one of these skills, and learning HTML means you have applicable, useful skills that can be applied to a variety of jobs. Alongside the importance of skills acquisition and testing your academic limits, it’s so rewarding to see code that you’ve written appear as a fully formed website. Once you’re invested in the process, the whole thing is so much fun and it feels great to achieve things you thought you never could.

What is coding used for?

Within digital marketing, HTML allows you to tell the browser how to define and display content. Coding can also help in finding and editing meta descriptions, title tags and keywords. HTML is used by Google, Facebook and Wikipedia, so is a handy one to know if you plan on building or editing a website.

Where do I start with coding?

I began my journey to learning HTML with Codecademy, which makes it so easy to learn code in an easy and manageable way. Using simple, accessible tools and fun mini tasks, you learn code without even realising it. Instead of being faced with the entire coding languages, the process is split up into smaller chunks that allow you to go at your own pace. The jargon is broken down and explained coherently, and you can go back and recap anything you don’t fully understand at any point.

I didn’t feel overwhelmed at all, and the sense of achievement after every mini task spurs you on to keep learning. Before I knew it, I knew how to build and edit a webpage – all within a few hours. I could input photos and videos, edit text and create tables, and it was all so much easier than I was expecting it to be. Also, because it’s online, you can fit it around your daily life without having to physically attend classes or break the bank with tuition fees.

Which coding language should I learn?

Codecademy offer loads of coding languages, so you can learn multiple different ones if you’re feeling up for a challenge – plus, the majority of the resources are free. Some of these include HTML, Python and Javascript, which are some of the more popular ones, alongside lesser known languages like SQL or Bash/Shell. It’s great to have such a variety of languages because they all serve different functions – your choice of language will be dependent on your requirements for the code you want to create.

Why should I use Codecademy?

The split screen format of Codecademy is really helpful, as it allows you to see the changes your code is making to the website in real time. The community forum allows you to ask questions (even the ‘stupid’ ones) and get tips and advice from other members of the coding community.

Can anyone learn to code?

Yes! The main thing I got out of Codecademy was that coding is for everyone, not just people with maths brains who already know everything about tech. Coding is useful for small business owners, anyone working in a professional industry, and ultimately anyone that is seeking a way to expand both their knowledge and their skills. You don’t need to be a tech genius to learn coding, you just need a thirst for knowledge, a bit of patience and a willingness to learn.

Get in touch to discuss the technical SEO opportunity of your business and website today.

Conquering the fear of HTML coding was last modified: April 29th, 2019 by Olivia-Mae Foong

The post Conquering the fear of HTML coding appeared first on Impression.

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Back in February 2016, Facebook introduced new reactions to posts. This was in response to the audience demand for more ways to express themselves other than a ‘like’, specifically a ‘dislike’ button. Instead, they gave us love, wow, haha, sad and angry.

They hoped that these new reactions would increase user engagement and allow business owners to better understand how people were interacting with their content. Ben wrote a blog post about this back in 2016, which you can read here.

An Increase in User Engagement

Since the release three years ago, user engagement on Facebook has significantly increased. In a 2018 study by Quintly, it was shown that post engagement with the new reactions was up from 2.4% in 2016 to 12.8% in 2018. This can be seen in the graph below.

Research has also found that 4 out of 10 millennials would rather engage with an image rather than reading text. It is no surprise, then, that other social media platforms are beginning to follow suit.

LinkedIn Reactions

In April, LinkedIn followed Facebook’s example and introduced four new reactions.

These are celebrate, love, insightful and curious.

LinkedIn’s Cissy Chen has commented on the new reactions, which were created in response to the user demand for more expressive ways of communicating. LinkedIn conducted global research to decide upon the reactions, by analysing 1-2 word comments (great news, well done, congratulations, for example) and by asking members for feedback on the proposed reactions.

Here is what Cissy believes the reactions will be used for:

“You can use Celebrate to praise an accomplishment or milestone like landing a new job or speaking at an event, or Love to express deep resonance and support, like a conversation about work-life balance or the impact of mentorship. Insightful can help you recognize a great point or interesting idea, while Curious lets you show your desire to learn more or react to a thought-provoking topic.”

It will be interesting to see how users interact with these new reactions and whether LinkedIn’s overall engagement rate will rise over the coming months.

Negative Reactions

Unlike Facebook, LinkedIn hasn’t introduced a negative reaction. This may be because of the nature of LinkedIn as a professional platform. By avoiding an angry reaction, they have cut out the possibility of trolls targeting specific brands.

However, it could have been useful for businesses releasing new products, so they could gauge an initial reaction from their audience. It’s possible that LinkedIn could release a negative reaction in the future- keep your eyes peeled!

What Does This Mean For Advertising?

It is clear that social media platforms are heading towards a more interactive experience. Gone are the days of scrolling through and aimlessly pressing ‘like’ – we’ve now got a range of reactions to share. But what does this mean for businesses?

It is likely that simple text posts about your business could be lost in a feed full of images and videos. Sales pitches are getting old and consumers are starting to look for more human, relatable content. In order to capture your audience’s attention, you need to stand out from the crowd.

Here are my top tips for advertising on social media:

  1. Create a video campaign. As we know, millennials love imagery. Researchers have found that after watching a promotional video, 64% of users are more likely to purchase the product.
  2. Add images to every post. Big blocks of text just don’t cut it anymore – users are more likely to scroll past and find something more visual.
  3. Turn data into graphs. Make informational posts more digestible by adding graphs and fact sheets to encourage your audience to engage.
  4. Create polls and surveys. You can receive instant feedback to campaign ideas by simply asking. This way, you’ll cut out the guesswork and can focus on making your customers happy.
  5. Interact with your audience. Replying to comments adds a touch of personalisation in this over-saturated world. Take the time to engage with your customers and make them feel special.

Do you engage with posts on social media by using reactions? Let us know in the comments below. 

Do Social Media Reactions Increase User Engagement? was last modified: April 29th, 2019 by Sophie Darr

The post Do Social Media Reactions Increase User Engagement? appeared first on Impression.

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What is SEO?

Search engine optimisation (SEO) is a broad marketing discipline that encompasses a wide variety of different techniques for improving a website’s rankings in search engine results. SEO techniques are often categorised as either ‘on-page’ or ‘off-page’ – both of which will be explored in the course of this article.

As this is a beginner’s guide, you don’t have to have any prior SEO knowledge to understand the concepts we’re discussing. It’s designed to give you a good foundation without you needing to read anything else. However, if you’re familiar with some aspects already or you’re looking for a particular refresher, feel free to use the table of contents below to skip to the most relevant section.

Why is SEO important?

Organic search engine traffic (i.e. traffic that hasn’t come through paid ads) nearly always makes up the largest chunk of web traffic to a site. Improving in this area can, therefore, have a significant impact on the number of visitors and conversions you see each month.

The above graph shows traffic to a small lead generation company from April 2018 to March 2019. The blue line is organic traffic, the orange is traffic from ads and green is direct traffic (from users typing the site into their browsers). It’s easy to see why it’s important for this company to spend a lot of time focusing on SEO.

In this particular example, organic traffic makes up a full three quarters of the site’s sessions and 72% of their online conversions, which leads us on to another crucial point. SEO is not just about driving traffic to a site, but driving traffic that converts.

Do we optimise for all search engines or just Google?

Search engine optimisation is a broad discipline, but you’d be forgiven for thinking that Google is the sole focus of the industry with the amount that it’s talked about. While it’s important not to ignore all the other search engines out there, there’s good reason for all of Google’s attention.

According to Statista, Google’s UK market share is a staggering 89%, with Bing in second on just 7%. The American information giant handles around two trillion searches every year, which equates to roughly 63,000 searches a second. It’s no surprise that companies want a slice of that visibility.

Google has built up to such impressive stats through industry leading technology. The search engine runs on powerful algorithms and even includes bleeding edge machine learning technology to help it understand unique search queries. Over the years, it has made a number of significant changes to its core algorithms that have moved the goalposts for SEOs everywhere. A large part of our job is ensuring that websites are optimised to achieve and maintain rankings regardless of what Google does in the future. Because of the quality that Google demands, in the vast majority of cases we find that optimising for the search giant also stands us in good stead with its competitors.

In this beginners guide, we’ll look at current best practices that we believe will stand the test of time. These techniques are grouped under three key components of SEO:

  • Optimised content
  • Technical excellence
  • Relevant link building
Optimised content

Content has been important to SEO since the earliest days of the discipline, as all search engines use a website’s content to determine which searches it’s eligible to rank for. Whenever a user enters a search query, Google scours its index for pages that contain relevant content, then uses a number of other ranking factors to determine the order it should show these pages. Because of this, keyword research is a crucial first step in any content optimisation strategy.

Keyword research

Keyword research involves using tools to discover the language with which your audience is searching. This should help to shape the language you use on a page, and can perhaps even help you decide which categories, products or services to prioritise in your wider business strategy.

Most keyword research tools, such as Ahrefs, SEMRush and Google’s Keyword Planner, provide estimated monthly search volumes for specific keywords. Ahrefs and SEMRush are both excellent, but require paid subscriptions, whereas anyone with an active Google Ads campaign can use Keyword Planner.

Whatever tool you use, your starting point should be finding the search volumes for all the phrases you can think of that relate to your categories, products and services. Most tools will also give you further suggestions, which can broaden your ideas once you’ve collected data for your core phrases.

With this information at hand, you’re all set to optimise your content.

Crafting targeted content

As great as Google is at understanding language, it’s still really helpful to make sure that a page’s primary keyword is prominent in its heading and copy. However, we’ve moved past the days of needing to mention it in every sentence.

Instead, it’s much better to mention your target keyword a couple of times, then use variants or semantically related terms elsewhere. When determining if a page should rank for a particular keyword, Google now takes into account that page’s topic, and whether or not it includes phrases that the search engine considers to be associated with the target keyword.

It’s critical that you create content for your human users first, not for Google. Keep your target keywords in mind, but any content that doesn’t read well to a regular human probably won’t rank well now, and almost definitely won’t rank well in the future.

Understanding user intent

Whatever keywords you’re targeting, you need to be able to understand the intent behind them. Google divides search queries into four categories:

  • Know – the searcher wants to find information.
  • Do – the searcher wants to perform an action, like making a purchase.
  • Website – the searcher wants to navigate to a specific website that they have in mind.
  • Visit-in-person – the searcher wants to find the physical location of a business or type of business.

Each keyword will fall into one of those intent categories, and if you’re page doesn’t satisfy the intent it won’t rank. Thankfully, the intent behind most keywords is easy to identify with a bit of common sense. The query, ‘buy cheap shoes,’ is clearly a Do query, whereas ‘what are the best cheap shoes’ is a Know query.

Generally, product and services pages work best to satisfy Do queries, while you’ll want blog posts and guides to satisfy Know queries. Website and Visit queries are harder to optimise for, but it helps to have all of your business information clearly and consistently presented across your site and to have a full Google My Business listing.

Technical excellence

Good content won’t help it if can’t be found. Ensuring that your website is technically excellent means ensuring that it can be crawled and indexed by search engines and that it will deliver on many of the ranking factors that Google weighs up when deciding which pages to rank above others.

Indexability and site structure

Your primary technical concern should be the indexability of your site. In other words, can crawl engines identify all the pages that you want them to rank? Google and other search engines send out bots known as spiders that ‘crawl’ websites – following links to discover pages and add them to their indexes. If a page is marked as ‘noindex’ it won’t be indexed, and if a link is marked as ‘nofollow’ they won’t use it to get to its destination page.

For your website to be fully indexed, it needs to be as easy as possible for spiders to access all the pages you want them to see. You can achieve this through a good site structure, in which your homepage links to your main category and service pages, which in turn link to subcategory, sub-service and product pages. It’s important not to have too many levels of links for spiders to follow and for the most important pages to be clearly signalled by being the target of more links than other pages. If you were to draw it out, your site structure should ideally look like a pyramid three or four levels deep.

Broken links

It’s crucial that you avoid having links on your site that point to a broken page (normally a page that returns a 404 error message). If you find a 404 page on your site, you should remove the links that points to it or change them so that it points to a current page. Broken links tend to crop up more if the site has recently undergone changes in its structure, so be sure to give it a thorough check if you’ve made any significant page alterations recently.

Fixing broken links is important for SEO as it makes your site much easier for search engines to crawl. Think of every broken link as a dead end street – a search engine can’t use it to find the rest of the site. To give your key pages the best chance of indexation, your site needs to be as easy and smooth to crawl as possible.

Site speed

The speed of your site is an important SEO ranking factor, but it will also give your users a better experience. Free online tools from Pingdom and Google will grade the speed of your site and give you some pointers, but unless you have a fairly broad set of web development skills it would be better to outsource any improvements rather than attempting them yourself.

Site speed is also critical for mobile site optimisation, which is more important than ever now that Google has introduced mobile-first indexing. This means that Google will judge the content and quality of a site’s mobile version as a first port of call, rather than the desktop version. Mobile optimisation is particularly important if you know that a large percentage of your customers use mobile devices to access your site. If this is something that you feel is important to your business, make sure that you raise it as a priority with your developers.

Relevant link building

Content and technical SEO both fall under the umbrella of on-page SEO, but they need to be supported by off-page SEO or, to reduce it to its primary concern, links.

Introducing PageRank

When Google was launched in 1996 there was one thing that really set it apart from other search engines: PageRank. This was a score of 1-100 given to every site in its index based on the number and quality of links pointing to them from other sites.

PageRank is a way of assessing the quality and trustworthiness of any given site. Every link pointing to a site is like a vote of confidence, but not all links are equal. Links from other authoritative sites, like the BBC, the Guardian or Vogue, are generally worth more than links from less authoritative sites.

Obtaining high quality links

Links have a direct impact on the ranking of your site, but obtaining high quality links isn’t easy. The ideal scenario is to have great sites linking to yours naturally through awareness of your product and brand, but not every business can be fortunate enough to garner that kind of attention. To be successful, most businesses need to be proactive.

The first step is to identify the sites you want links from. Every business wants to be featured on the BBC, but there will be plenty of other sites related to your industry and target market. As Google has evolved, it considers the relevance of a link over and above the linking site’s baseline authority. Industry magazines or news sites covering your sector can be great link sources.

With a list in mind, you’ll then want to get in touch with these publications to offer them something of value, whether that’s an insightful comment on industry developments, an interview with a key figure in your business or an interesting data set that you’ve pulled together. Sites will only feature you and link to your site if you’re offering something of value to their readers.

Our beginner’s guide to digital PR will give you much more information on this topic, so if you’re interested we recommend checking that out next.

Skills needed for a career in SEO

SEO is a varied discipline in which all kinds of people with all kinds of skills can thrive. It is common to find people with web development skills working side by side with people who have backgrounds in writing, management, traditional marketing and more. However, while practical skills can vary enormously, there are a few qualities that will be helpful for anyone starting out in SEO.

  • Strategic thinking – SEO involves balancing both short term and long term gains. You’ll need to be able to formulate strategies that will give you success in the short term and be sustainable for the long term.
  • Adaptability – SEO is a broad discipline, and your work could look very different day to day. You need to be prepared to shift gears and give full attention to whatever your current task is.
  • Communication – whether you work in-house for one business or you work for multiple clients in an agency, it’s essential to be able to report on what you’re doing and why to key stakeholders who won’t always be interested in the finer details.
  • Creativity – content creation, link building and even technical improvements all require creativity. SEO is a young industry in which innovation is key; to succeed you need to be able to think up and execute fresh ideas.
  • Willingness to learn – as search engines evolve, so must SEO. There are always new things to learn, and the more open you are to improving your knowledge both individually and in group contexts, the better you’ll be at your job.
Could your business benefit from SEO support?

We’ve created this beginners guide to help you get started with your own SEO strategies, but we’re also well aware that it’s a lot to take in all at once. Successful SEO strategies require a long term investment of time and effort, which can go to waste if you don’t see the results you were hoping for.

Talk to Impression’s SEO team about how we can help you in short term projects or longer term arrangements by calling 01158 242 212 or emailing us at hello@impression.co.uk.

The beginner’s guide to SEO was last modified: April 29th, 2019 by Ben Garry

The post The beginner’s guide to SEO appeared first on Impression.

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We’re absolutely thrilled to announce we’ve been shortlisted 11 times in the European Search Awards for 2019.

It’s an incredibly humbling achievement for us to be shortlisted against so many very talented agencies. It’s also a fantastic reflection of the hard work done by our team, who – for anyone who happens to be in the area and fancies joining – will most certainly be out for a bit of a celebration in Nottingham tonight!

Here are the categories and campaigns for which we’re shortlisted:

Best Use of Search – Retail

  • Impression and Feel Good Contacts – Visionary Gains

Best Use of Search – B2C

  • Impression and Buzzgrass – Sewing the Seeds for Top of Funnel Growth
  • Impression and Harvey Water Softeners – User Centric Search Expansion

Best Use of Search – Health

  • Impression and Feel Good Contacts – Visionary Gains

Best Use of PR in a Search Campaign

  • Impression and Envirobuild – A New Species of Search Led PR

Best Integrated Campaign

  • Impression and Harvey Water Softeners – User Centric Search Expansion

Best SEO Campaign

  • Impression & Cromwell – How we REACTed to the JavaScript landscape
  • Impression and Eventopedia – The Case of the Uncrawlable Pages

Best Large PPC Agency

  • Impression

Best Large SEO Agency

  • Impression

Best Integrated Search Agency

  • Impression

Congratulations to all of the agencies shortlisted. We look forward to finding out the results at the awards ceremony in Budapest later this year.

Impression Shortlisted 11 Times in European Search Awards 2019 was last modified: April 18th, 2019 by Laura Hampton

The post Impression Shortlisted 11 Times in European Search Awards 2019 appeared first on Impression.

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Steff Preyer is Business Director at Rabbit & Pork, a voice experience agency. It’s called that because it’s cockney rhyming slang for ‘talk’ apparently! You can read more about her here on the BrightonSEO site.

Today she is going to go over the importance of voice visibility, the opportunity of tracking voice results on Alexa & Google and how can you adapt your strategy to make the most of it.

You can view the slides here.

By 2020, 50% of searches will be conducted via voice.

Today we will learn how to:

  • quantify the opportunity
  • steal market share
  • track report and improve

But, firstly why the hype?

  • During black Friday last year Amazon sold out last year echo
  • 1bn voice searches every month
  • 50% smart speaker owners say that they can’t now live without them
  • Amazon and google lead the way
  • The market leads an incredible trajectory
  • More than 10% households now own a smart speaker: that’s more than own a pet rabbit
  • It’s not just about smart speakers: people want to be able to fire a question at any inanimate objects and get results
  • It’s increasingly an entire eco system rather than one channel
What do people use it for?

Top three uses of voice search right now include:

  • checking the weather
  • playing music
  • asking a question: this presents huge opp for brand for lead gen and sales

The beauty of voice search is there is no second ranking.

Quantifying the opp for your brand.

Answers boxes

Answer boxes have been leading the way. Therefore answer box optimisation is a good start, and particularly from an SEO perspective its a good focus area.

Are there other types of results? Steff said this is something they wanted to know. Therefore, they developed a top voice search ranking report. What were the results?

Voice search ranking report

Turns out theres a lot more to voice search than answer boxes.

There were 25 top responses. You can view these in the slides here:

One of the main findings was that answer boxes don’t always make up assistant results.

It turns out that only 20% of answer boxes are used in voice search results. Why?

  • sometimes the answers in position 0 are too long
  • the answer may not structured for voice
  • contains words that the assistant doesn’t know what to say

So, where do we start?


Look into your industry.

There are whitelisted phrases which are already owned by Google, such as a ‘bass guitar tuner’ for example – so avoid duplicating anything that you have no chance appearing in voice for.

Which industries would work in voice search?

Rabbit & Pork decided to run a second report specifically looking at industry.

This second report broke their original voice ranking report down into 23 different sectors. This included business, fashion, utilities, travel etc. They then went through over 100k search terms.

The results?

The report found that there are huge variants across industries on Google’s ability to answer questions. It showed that industries such as transport, property and tech actually have very little ability to provide answers. This is not a bad thing; this means there is a huge opportunity here.

Additionally, they have been running this report over time to draw comparisons, and in fact they are now seeing Google get better and better – meaning that there are new results entering the market.

Notably, knowledge graphs are being more used in voice search, as are related questions, AI and semantic related topics. Also, the noticed that ‘ten step’ type articles often are appearing in voice search, which then get sent to the google home app.

How to gain voice search results?

Focus on areas in which you can have an impact.

We can look at:

  • Areas where there is no answer already
  • Where there are existing featured snippets

Firstly, how do we gain answer boxes?

  • research to find questions
  • answer the question concisely
  • on-page level SEO
  • using correct html structure
  • schema markup
  • tracking and updating

Voice optimisation is much more than answer boxes.

What is Google action?

  • Google home is powered by the google assistant which works with Google actions, which can be powered by 1st and 3rd party apps. This works similarly within Amazon.

You can see how this works here:

Actions can come from 1st or 3rd party apps, such as the following:

Discoverability using invocation

What if you are a third party app, how can we use voice search to be discovered? There are two ways:

1. Brand: explicit invocation

Aware of the brand, the user says “take me to the trainline”

2. Generic: implicit invocation

The user asks what time the train is, it then takes you to the trainline

Steff says that they wanted to run an experiment looking at how powerful ‘actions’ are within specific industries, so they looked at the property industry.

Property industry

  • They took a google action where there was no answer: which was house prices in coventry
  • They put an ‘action’ live for home property app
  • They looked at the data on search: 22% in property market is voice


  • In some places there was an answer box served but the action then overtook

How can we optimise for voice?

  1. check the voice results
  2. classify results
  3. decide if theres an opp
  4. optimise featured sipets
  5. optmise GMB
  6. develop and action skill case to use
  7. develop action skill
  8. launch
  9. update and track

Key takeaways

  • the landscape will change
  • several methods are being used to grow the market – Google and Amazon are using low prices so everyone can afford and access the market
  • find a useful reason for an action or skill
  • track and optimise
  • It’s not just google
Brighton SEO – Steff Preyer – Voice Visibility: Tracking voice results on Alexa & Google was last modified: April 16th, 2019 by Jess Hawkes

The post Brighton SEO – Steff Preyer – Voice Visibility: Tracking voice results on Alexa & Google appeared first on Impression.

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This post has been written by Brianna Cloughan. Brianna is a Final Year English student from the University of Nottingham and is currently underway with a 10-week digital marketing placement with Impression. 

What is CRO and how is it related to SEO?

CRO stands for Conversion Rate Optimisation. It’s all about making your site the best it can be so you can start turning casual visitors into loyal customers or service users. You may have a killer SEO strategy which has ensured higher Google rankings and increased traffic, but this does not guarantee conversions. People may be clicking onto your site and leaving again before achieving your desired objective – purchasing a product or service; subscribing to emails; downloading an app, or creating an account. For some reason, people are choosing not to follow-through on this vital last step. So, get curious, channel your inner detective and find out why!

How does CRO work?

Depending on your desired outcome, there could be several reasons why someone is remaining a visitor rather than becoming a loyal customer or client. It’s become increasingly difficult to understand and track customer behaviour due to the massive number of offline and online channels. By this I mean anything from TV and radio ads to email marketing and social media platforms. Customer behaviour can be complex!

One of the best things about CRO is that it goes some way to answering the how’s and why’s of a customer’s journey. Tools such as Hotjar help online businesses to see how users are interacting with their site through, for example, a technique called heat mapping. The colour-coded visuals highlight areas on the screen which are receiving the most attention from customers. This technique measures heat-levels according to the number of clicks; how far people are scrolling; and their movements across the site or specific page. Hotjar also takes into account different devices so you can compare mobile and desktop activity. By analysing customer behaviour on the site you can start to identify and make sense of conversion funnels (end to end journey a customer makes within the website from the first click through to sale) which show visitor drop-off points. In other words, at what point you are losing visitors, and how many.

Implementing CRO

To make the most of these insights, record and gather the data so you can begin to spot trends and note down any potential changes and recommendations as you go. Think about which areas of the site are failing and how they could be improved, as well as thinking about how to capitalise on those areas which are doing well. For instance, the results from the heatmap show that visitors are browsing the site, placing items in their basket, but never commit to checking-out. Now you know this information, what do you do with it?

Well, you have gathered your research and recommendations, it’s now time to consider what methods will work best in implementing your changes. Although this process may involve a bit of trial and error, as well as patience, with the insights gathered from, for example, Hotjar, random guesswork is avoided. Instead, think about what you want to change and why, and what you hope the outcome will be. Having a hypothesis ensures a more organised and systematic approach. For example, let’s say the heat-mapping shows that people enjoy utilising the search bar on your site and so to capitalise on this you make it bigger and more obvious for users. Changes can be big or small, so when implementing them you might want to consider some of the methods listed:

CRO Methods

A/B testing this is probably the most common form of testing. It involves setting up two landing pages, A) being the original site page and B) a variation of it, containing any new changes. Visitors are split between A and B to see if big or small changes to CTA can make a difference to conversion. This is useful if you receive a lot of traffic, as data can be collected quickly. It’s important not to commit to any changes until enough data has been received to show a consistent trend.

Multivariate testing is very similar to A/B, it simply means splitting your traffic into multiple versions of the same page. Instead of just two versions, there could be A/B/C/D etc, allowing you to test multiple variables against each other.

Online surveys/customer feedback – a popular and less obtrusive option allows you to gain feedback directly from the customers themselves. Allowing them to rate or leave comments on your site will indicate what areas you need to improve.

Even tweaking the smallest aspects of your site can make a huge difference to your revenue. So make the most of your existing traffic and consider investing in CRO, you never know what opportunities you might be missing.

Do you feel that CRO would be a useful analysis for your business? Get in touch to discover how our specialists can help optimise your online conversions, today.

A Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation was last modified: April 16th, 2019 by Georgie Kemp

The post A Beginner’s Guide to Conversion Rate Optimisation appeared first on Impression.

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Greg opened his talk by commenting on how frustrating it is to see competitors rank higher in Google My Business (GMB), so his talk was designed to provide a tonne of tactical tips to take home to combat this. However, he says that there is no miracle pill for local SEO. You can’t only do a few things, you have to do everything in aggregate. But using these tips will help your GMB profile to stand out from the crowd.

Particularly if you’re in a really competitive market, GMB can really help you to get over the hump. Greg recommends that we think of our GMB listing as our new homepage, since all the people that used to come directly to our websites can now find everything they need in the SERPs. This is exactly the zero-click search problem.

He references the Local Search Ranking Factors study which comes out each year, and the fact that GMB is by far the biggest factor included. In fact, in the study, GMB signals increased by 31% from 2017 to 2018.

Greg’s tips are split out into the basics, that people tend to know about but are not necessarily doing. It’s important to make sure these bases are covered to create a strong foundation for your GMB profile. Then he follows up with some additional, more advanced steps to take once your business has mastered all of these basic tips.

The Basics

Many people are aware of these fundamental GMB requirements, so Greg provided a short summary of what is needed.

  • Use your correct business name. Don’t stuff with it keywords as this looks spammy.
  • Use UTM tracking on your website links. Google Analytics attribution is effectively broken, as it tends to report any unknown traffic as ‘direct’. It’s important to make sure credit is given fairly to the correct source, including links in your GMB profile.
  • List a local phone number. This is really important to the algorithm, but you can use a tracking number.
  • Choose the right categories. The primary category carries more weight, so depending on what type of business you are working with, think about this carefully.
  • Upload lots of awesome photos.
  • Upload videos too! The file size limit is 30 seconds and/or 100mb, so why not upload your adverts?
Exciting new stuff You should be using Google Posts

These show up in the Knowledge Panel and can drive significant pre-site conversions and interactions. They also help you to stand out from competitors, especially in the UK and Europe as nobody is really doing this yet. Google Posts only last for 7 days unless you choose a template with a date range. Some people might think it’s beneficial to use one of these templates. However, Greg does not recommend this for several reasons.

You should approach Google Posts as you do with Google Ads. With ads, we spend a great deal of time tweaking and optimising to improve CTRs. GMB is just the same. Posts need to be attention-grabbing if you want more clicks, so we need to be optimising both text and imagery to get the best CTR.  This is why Google Posts provide a great way to get insights on what works and what doesn’t work.

Some sources say that in the thumbnail view you’ll get about 100 characters or 16 words for Google Posts. However, Greg states that it depends on the template you use to create your post. By far the best post type, and the only one Greg recommends using, is the What’s New posts. This is the most common post type and the easiest to optimise for CTR because you get the most text displayed – a full four lines. All other posts types, although they may seem to have their own benefits, result in fewer lines of text so Greg recommends only focusing on What’s New.

Within these posts, Greg suggests using additional UTM tracking on CTA links. This allows us to measure the impact of the text and image optimisation on each post much more easily. Without adding UTM tags, you risk Google Analytics misinterpreting traffic that has come from your GMB profile as direct traffic.

Pay attention to GMB questions and answers

Pretty much anyone on the internet can ask a question to your business, and anyone in the community can answer it for you. This can be scary for businesses, as answers with the most upvotes show as the primary answer. Questions that get 3 or more upvotes will usually show natively in your GMB panel.

Greg makes it clear not to include a phone number or URL in your answer, or it will get filtered out and not show to the public (even though it will still be visible to you!).

It’s definitely encouraged to ask questions yourself – prepopulating your GMB questions allows you to use this as a sort of pre-site FAQ page. For inspiration consider referring to the questions on your main FAQ page, and ask your employees which questions they get asked most often.

Impression’s take…

We definitely second Greg’s tip to use UTM tagging on your GMB links. Particularly as there is such a focus on accurate attribution at the moment, taking such a quick & simple step for better data is a no-brainer!

Google My Business is a largely underutilised tool by a lot of businesses, and it’s clear from Greg’s talk (and others at BrightonSEO) that people are waking up and realising the potential of their profile. With the current trend towards more and more zero click searches, maximising the potential of that presence in the SERPs is crucial.

Brighton SEO: Greg Gifford – Harry and Lloyd’s Idiot Proof Guide To GMB Optimisation was last modified: April 16th, 2019 by Helen Freeman

The post Brighton SEO: Greg Gifford – Harry and Lloyd’s Idiot Proof Guide To GMB Optimisation appeared first on Impression.

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In a session titled “Become a Local Hero: PPC Tips To Boss Your Neighbourhood” at Brighton SEO, Oliver Ewbank demonstrates the importance of local PPC and shares some top tips to succeed in your local market.

Why Is Local PPC Important?

With the vast reach of Google Ads and the ease of national targeting it can be easy to forget about the customers right on your doorstep. The four facts below outline the ever-growing importance of local PPC to drive in-store sales.

  • Over 20% of Google searches are for local products, services or places.
  • 59% of consumers research online before making a purchase in store.
  • 82% of smartphone users use a search engine when looking for a local business.
  • 3 out of 4 people who conduct a search on their mobile visit a related store within 24 hours.
Top 5 Tips To Become A Local PPC Hero Google Maps Ads

Google Map ads provide a link to your business’s location page which includes information such as store hours, address, customer reviews and store photos.

There are four requirements to set up ads on Google Maps.

  1. Enable location extensions for your Google Ads account – learn more.
  2. Set up or update your Google My Business listing – learn more.
  3. Use location targeting and bid by location – learn more.
  4. Optimise your keywords and include location based keywords – learn more.
Campaign Structure

Consider creating two versions of each campaign, one that targets local users and one that targets nationwide users. Having multiple campaigns allows different keywords, ad copy, bids, budgets and location targets.

Variation 1 – Targets the whole of the UK but only contains location themed keywords e.g. ‘PPC agency Nottingham’ or ‘Midlands SEO agency’.
Variation 2 – Geo-targets a specific radius or location around your business and contains keywords that don’t include locations e.g. ‘Multi-award winning PPC agency’ or ‘Best large SEO agency’.

Steps to set up local campaigns

  1. Use Google Ads editor to copy and paste the original campaign, make sure to re-name your new campaign.
  2. Use ‘append’ to add relevant locations to the end of your generic keywords.
  3. Adjust the location targeting of the campaigns accordingly. Make sure to exclude the local locations from your nationwide campaign.
  4. Add negative location keywords to avoid overlap between the two campaigns.
Location Extensions

Location extensions can help people find your locations by showing your ads with your address, a map to your location or the distance to your business. Google claims location extensions will increase click through rate by 10%.

Get started with location extensions

  1. Link Google My Business to your Google Ads account.
  2. Ensure only relevant stores are eligible, you may want to filter out old stores or head offices.
  3. Review performance regularly and segment the location data by individual stores.
The Rule Of Three

The rule of three is simple, ensure the keyword you are targeting, ad copy and landing page all contain the location you want to target. This rule applies to both local targeting and specific location targeting.

The best examples to demonstrate this technique are often from the travel industry which shows specific location targeting throughout the customer journey.

Once the user clicks on the ad, it is important that the landing page is relevant to the location keyword you are targeting. A specific landing page ensures a high quality score and minimises bounce rate.

Local Inventory Ads

Local inventory ads are a type of shopping which include annotations of whether the product is in stock in the store nearest to the user. In addition to driving more store footfall to stores, these ads are ideal to align with a ‘Click & Collect’ service.

To set up inventory ads you will need to do the following

  1. Ensure you have all the relevant accounts setup – learn more.
  2. Enable local inventory ads in the merchant centre – learn more.
  3. Create, register and submit local inventory feeds – learn more.
  4. Request inventory verification from Google – learn more.
  5. Enable local inventory ads in shopping campaigns – learn more.
Key Takeaways

Local PPC can’t be ignored and can add significant value in driving both online and in-store sales. Campaign structure for local PPC is key, a clear campaign naming convention, organised negative keyword lists and shared budgets will help keep your local campaigns on track.

In addition, make use of the data in Google Ads! Regular user location reports and analysing store visit data is essential in improving performance over time.

Thanks again to Oliver for his great talk at Brighton SEO, the full slide deck can be found here.

Brighton SEO – Oliver Ewbank – Become a Local Hero: PPC Tips To Boss Your Neighbourhood was last modified: April 15th, 2019 by James Webster

The post Brighton SEO – Oliver Ewbank – Become a Local Hero: PPC Tips To Boss Your Neighbourhood appeared first on Impression.

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Unless you woke up at 2am to catch it live, chances are you’re amongst the thousands of people currently sat at work wondering if they’ll get through the day without any Game of Thrones spoilers.

Luckily for you, this is a safe space.

So mute your WhatsApp, delete your Twitter app and relax while you browse through 33 of our favourite articles from around the web.

NOTE: There are no GoT spoilers here. We promise.

6 Brighton SEO catch ups

One of the UK’s most loved search marketing conferences took place last week and the team from Impression was on hand to capture the best of the advice on offer:

7 great digital PR case studies

Our digital PR team is always looking out for inspiration, much of which we share via our Pinterest board (which you can follow here). Here are a few of our favourite campaigns from recent years:

8 SEO blogs we’ve shared recently

Our SEO team is always on the lookout for interesting experiments, new ideas and inspiration from around the web, which we share on our internal chat platform. Here are just a few of the things we’ve shared recently:

7 things we’ve written about paid media

Our PPC team regularly shares advice via the Impression blog to explore new channels and techniques. Here are some of our most recent:

5 Beginners’ Guides to Digital Marketing

If you’re just starting out in digital marketing, or you’re a marketer with a lot of experience looking to hone your skills in the specifics of digital, these guides are here for you.

Based on our own internal training programme, each lesson deep dives into the what, the why and the how of topics including CRO, PPC, PR and SEO. Check out the whole collection here, or take a look at these top level overviews:

33 Things to Read While You’re Avoiding Game of Thrones Spoilers was last modified: April 15th, 2019 by Laura Hampton

The post 33 Things to Read While You’re Avoiding Game of Thrones Spoilers appeared first on Impression.

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