How to Write Content for Answers Using the Inverted Pyramid - Best of Whiteboard Friday

How to Write Content for Answers Using the Inverted Pyramid – Best of Whiteboard Friday

If you’ve been searching for a quick hack to write content for featured snippets, this isn’t the article for you. But if you’re looking for lasting results and a smart tactic to increase your chances of winning a snippet, you’re definitely in the right place.

Borrowed from journalism, the inverted pyramid method of writing can help you craft intentional, compelling, rich content that will help you rank for multiple queries and win more than one snippet at a time. Learn how in this fan-favorite Whiteboard Friday starring the one and only Dr. Pete!

Content for Answers

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Video Transcription

Hey, Moz fans, Dr. Pete here. I’m the Marketing Scientist at Moz and visiting you from not-so-sunny Chicago in the Seattle office. We’ve talked a lot in the last couple years in my blog posts and such about featured snippets.

So these are answers that kind of cross with organic. So it’s an answer box, but you get the attribution and the link. Britney has done some great Whiteboard Fridays, the last couple, about how you do research for featured snippets and how you look for good questions to answer. But I want to talk about something that we don’t cover very much, which is how to write content for answers.

The inverted pyramid style of content writing

It’s tough, because I’m a content marketer and I don’t like to think that there’s a trick to content. I’m afraid to give people the kind of tricks that would have them run off and write lousy, thin content. But there is a technique that works that I think has been very effective for featured snippets for writing for questions and answers. It comes from the world of journalism, which gives me a little more faith in its credibility. So I want to talk to you about that today. That’s called the inverted pyramid.

Content for Answers

1. Start with the lead

It looks something like this. When you write a story as a journalist, you start with the lead. You lead with the lead. So if we have a story like “Penguins Rob a Bank,” which would be a strange story, we want to put that right out front. That’s interesting. Penguins rob a bank, that’s all you need to know. The thing about it is, and this is true back to print, especially when we had to buy each newspaper. We weren’t subscribers. But definitely on the web, you have to get people’s attention quickly. You have to draw them in. You have to have that headline.

2. Go into the details

So leading with the lead is all about pulling them in to see if they’re interested and grabbing their attention. The inverted pyramid, then you get into the smaller pieces. Then you get to the details. You might talk about how many penguins were there and what bank did they rob and how much money did they take.

3. Move to the context

Then you’re going to move to the context. That might be the history of penguin crime in America and penguin ties to the mafia and what does this say about penguin culture and what are we going to do about this. So then it gets into kind of the speculation and the value add that you as an expert might have.

How does this apply to answering questions for SEO?

So how does this apply to answering questions in an SEO context?

Content for Answers

Lead with the answer, get into the details and data, then address the sub-questions.

Well, what you can do is lead with the answer. If somebody’s asked you a question, you have that snippet, go straight to the summary of the answer. Tell them what they want to know and then get into the details and get into the data. Add those things that give you credibility and that show your expertise. Then you can talk about context.

But I think what’s interesting with answers — and I’ll talk about this in a minute — is getting into these sub-questions, talking about if you have a very big, broad question, that’s going to dive up into a lot of follow-ups. People who are interested are going to want to know about those follow-ups. So go ahead and answer those.

If I win a featured snippet, will people click on my answer? Should I give everything away?

Content for Answers

So I think there’s a fear we have. What if we answer the question and Google puts it in that box? Here’s the question and that’s the query. It shows the answer. Are people going to click? What’s going to happen? Should we be giving everything away? Yes, I think, and there are a couple reasons.

Questions that can be very easily answered should be avoided

First, I want you to be careful. Britney has gotten into some of this. This is a separate topic on its own. You don’t always want to answer questions that can be very easily answered. We’ve already seen that with the Knowledge Graph. Google says something like time and date or a fact about a person, anything that can come from that Knowledge Graph. “How tall was Abraham Lincoln?” That’s answered and done, and they’re already replacing those answers.

Answer how-to questions and questions with rich context instead

So you want to answer the kinds of things, the how-to questions and the why questions that have a rich enough context to get people interested. In those cases, I don’t think you have to be afraid to give that away, and I’m going to tell you why. This is more of a UX perspective. If somebody asks this question and they see that little teaser of your answer and it’s credible, they’re going to click through.

“Giving away” the answer builds your credibility and earns more qualified visitors

Content for Answers

So here you’ve got the penguin. He’s flushed with cash. He’s looking for money to spend. We’re not going to worry about the ethics of how he got his money. You don’t know. It’s okay. Then he’s going to click through to your link. You know you have your branding and hopefully it looks professional, Pyramid Inc., and he sees that question again and he sees that answer again.

Giving the searcher a “scent trail” builds trust

If you’re afraid that that’s repetitive, I think the good thing about that is this gives him what we call a scent trail. He can see that, “You know what? Yes, this is the page I meant to click on. This is relevant. I’m in the right place.” Then you get to the details, and then you get to the data and you give this trail of credibility that gives them more to go after and shows your expertise.

People who want an easy answer aren’t the kind of visitors that convert

I think the good thing about that is we’re so afraid to give something away because then somebody might not click. But the kind of people who just wanted that answer and clicked, they’re not the kind of people that are going to convert. They’re not qualified leads. So these people that see this and see it as credible and want to go read more, they’re the qualified leads. They’re the kind of people that are going to give you that money.

So I don’t think we should be afraid of this. Don’t give away the easy answers. I think if you’re in the easy answer business, you’re in trouble right now anyway, to be honest. That’s a tough topic. But give them something that guides them to the path of your answer and gives them more information.

How does this tactic work in the real world?

Thin content isn’t credible.

Content for Answers

So I’m going to talk about how that looks in a more real context. My fear is this. Don’t take this and run off and say write a bunch of pages that are just a question and a paragraph and a ton of thin content and answering hundreds and hundreds of questions. I think that can really look thin to Google. So you don’t want pages that are like question, answer, buy my stuff. It doesn’t look credible. You’re not going to convert. I think those pages are going to look thin to Google, and you’re going to end up spinning out many, many hundreds of them. I’ve seen people do that.

Use the inverted pyramid to build richer content and lead to your CTA

Content for Answers

What I’d like to see you do is craft this kind of question page. This is something that takes a fair amount of time and effort. You have that question. You lead with that answer. You’re at the top of the pyramid. Get into the details. Get into the things that people who are really interested in this would want to know and let them build up to that. Then get into data. If you have original data, if you have something you can contribute that no one else can, that’s great.

Then go ahead and answer those sub-questions, because the people who are really interested in that question will have follow-ups. If you’re the person who can answer that follow-up, that makes for a very, very credible piece of content, and not just something that can rank for this snippet, but something that really is useful for anybody who finds it in any way.

So I think this is great content to have. Then if you want some kind of call to action, like a “Learn More,” that’s contextual, I think this is a page that will attract qualified leads and convert.

Moz’s example: What is a Title Tag?

So I want to give you an example. This is something we’ve used a lot on Moz in the Learning Center. So, obviously, we have the Moz blog, but we also have these permanent pages that answer kind of the big questions that people always have. So we have one on the title tag, obviously a big topic in SEO.

Content for Answers

Here’s what this page looks like. So we go right to the question: What is a title tag? We give the answer: A title tag is an HTML element that does this and this and is useful for SEO, etc. Right there in the paragraph. That’s in the featured snippet. That’s okay. If that’s all someone wants to know and they see that Moz answered that, great, no problem.

But naturally, the people who ask that question, they really want to know: What does this do? What’s it good for? How does it help my SEO? How do I write one? So we dug in and we ended up combining three or four pieces of content into one large piece of content, and we get into some pretty rich things. So we have a preview tool that’s been popular. We give a code sample. We show how it might look in HTML. It gives it kind of a visual richness. Then we start to get into these sub-questions. Why are title tags important? How do I write a good title tag?

One page can gain the ability to rank for hundreds of questions and phrases

What’s interesting, because I think sometimes people want to split up all the questions because they’re afraid that they have to have one question per page, what’s interesting is that I think looked the other day, this was ranking in our 40 million keyword set for over 200 phrases, over 200 questions. So it’s ranking for things like “what is a title tag,” but it’s also ranking for things like “how do I write a good title tag.” So you don’t have to be afraid of that. If this is a rich, solid piece of content that people are going to, you’re going to rank for these sub-questions, in many cases, and you’re going to get featured snippets for those as well.

Then, when people have gotten through all of this, we can give them something like, “Hey, Moz has some of these tools. You can help write richer title tags. We can check your title tags. Why don’t you try a free 30-day trial?” Obviously, we’re experimenting with that, and you don’t want to push too hard, but this becomes a very rich piece of content. We can answer multiple questions, and you actually have multiple opportunities to get featured snippets.

So I think this inverted pyramid technique is legitimate. I think it can help you write good content that’s a win-win. It’s good for SEO. It’s good for your visitors, and it will hopefully help you land some featured snippets.

So I’d love to hear about what kind of questions you’re writing content for, how you can break that up, how you can answer that, and I’d love to discuss that with you. So we’ll see you in the comments. Thank you.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Small accounts and Responsive Search Ads – Adopt or not?

Small accounts and Responsive Search Ads – Adopt or not?

With Microsoft Ads recently opening a responsive search ad (RSA) beta to their advertisers, it’s clear that the automated Text Ad format is here to stay. The push towards automation continues and with it comes the pressure from platform reps to adopt. While larger accounts have the luxury, in terms of additional budget, to take their time and test these additions, those running smaller budgets often have to make a decision outright: adopt or not? 

If you follow me on Twitter, you’ll know that I have historically been a fan of the “not.” There are a lot of arguments against RSAs and few in their favor. For example, you can’t use ad customizers in the text, which limits its abilities. There’s also anecdotal evidence from across the PPC community that, while RSAs are getting better click-through-rates and driving more traffic, they’re less effective than extended text ads (ETAs) in driving conversions. However, the biggest complaint, and perhaps widest-reaching one, is that there is no insight into the data regarding which combinations are being shown and in what ways they outperform one another. You can see how many impressions each combination receives, but that’s it. In essence, you’re setting a variety of ad headlines and descriptions and crossing your fingers. For smaller accounts with less budget per day, ‘crossing your fingers’ is a terrifying proposition. 

That being said, RSAs can be beneficial. Although we don’t get insight into the data, Google can quickly test tens of thousands of headline and ad description combinations, which is something that I am unable to do with ETAs. With small, low volume accounts, part of the appeal of RSAs is being able to test thousands of ad copy combinations in one go. While it would be nice to have more insight into performance, after some experimenting myself, I think it’s a mistake to write off RSAs completely – especially with the signals we’re getting from the platforms saying that they’re here to stay. 

I’m a big fan of testing against my assumptions, especially since I know my bias lends itself to having me reject automated ad formats and other automations. I don’t like change as a person, let alone as a PPC professional, and as such I try to lean into it when the opportunity presents itself. My team adopted RSAs across the board in February 2019; here’s what we’ve learned from 4,200 ads running since then: 

  • Responsive search ads, on average, receive more impressions than extended text ads;
  • Click-through-rate is relatively similar across our accounts; 
  • Responsive search ads, on average, have a 0.20c cheaper cost-per-click.

Looking at ads from the group that received more than one conversion: 

  • Responsive search ads continued to receive more impressions on average than extended text ads; 
  • Click-through rate was higher on expanded text ads; 
  • Conversion rate was equal across the board;
  • The overall total number of conversions was higher with responsive search ads; however, they also tend to be significantly more expensive.

Although this data has its limitations, it serves its purpose here as it gives an overall picture of the potential of RSAs. After crunching the numbers I was not surprised by the fact that RSAs are receiving more impressions or that expanded text ads are receiving higher click-through-rates, but I was surprised by the fact that of the ads that generated conversions, the RSAs were generating more.

Digging deeper, the biggest thing I noticed was that RSAs typically performed better when matched with a conversion-based automated bidding strategy. In my accounts, RSAs that were in a campaign with either Target CPA or Maximize Conversions as their bidding strategy outperformed ETAs across the board on both cost-per-acquisition and amount of conversions. 

Does this mean you should switch all your ads to RSAs and all your bidding strategies over today? No, not at all. There are still pros and cons to RSAs, and the successes I’ve indicated above may not translate over to your accounts. But it does give an idea of some of the benefits, and hopefully, encourage you to consider testing.   

Adopting RSAs in smaller accounts doesn’t have to be all or nothing, and it doesn’t have to be terrifying. When creating your RSAs, I recommend the following: 

  • Add your RSAs to existing ad groups with a minimum of two well-performing ETAs;
  • Have each piece of copy be distinctly different from one another. Ask yourself if the combinations would be redundant or if each adds value; 
  • Add headlines and descriptions you already have data behind and ones that you know are high performing;
  • Consider an automated bid strategy in tandem with your RSA (but don’t do both at once, or you won’t be able to tell what caused the consequent successes or failures across the account). 

Overall, I’ve seen enough positive results from RSAs that I am comfortable having one in each ad group. For newer accounts, I often run ad groups with only ETAs until I’m confident I can identify some high performing headlines and descriptions, and add RSAs at the end of month one or two, depending on volume. 

The bottom line is really that RSAs are here to stay, and that there can be a wide range of benefits to small accounts adopting them if done properly. So, in the case of whether or not small budget accounts should adopt RSAs, this skeptic encourages adopting and testing while we have both types of ads available to us.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Amalia Fowler is the director of marketing services at Snaptech Marketing. She manages a team of strategists who develop holistic digital marketing strategies for clients. Passionate about testing, marketing psychology and digital strategy, Amalia speaks frequently at industry conferences and events. Outside of marketing, she’s a coffee, paddleboarding and Vancouver enthusiast. You can follow her on Twitter @amaliaefowler for all things marketing related.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

Google’s new snippet settings give webmasters control over their search listings display

Google’s new snippet settings give webmasters control over their search listings display

Google has released new snippet settings to allow webmasters to control how Google search displays your listings, the company announced on the Google webmaster blog These settings work either through a set of robots meta tags and an HTML attribute.

New meta tags to settings snippets. You can add the following four meta tags to either an HTML page or specified via the x-robots-tag HTTP header. The new settings are:

  • “nosnippet”: – This is an old option that has not changed, it lets you specify that you don’t want any textual snippet shown for this page. 
  • “max-snippet:[number]”: – This is a new meta tag that lets you specify a maximum text-length, in characters, of a snippet for your page.
  • “max-video-preview:[number]”: – This is a new meta tag that lets you specify a maximum duration in seconds of an animated video preview.
  • “max-image-preview:[setting]”: – This is a new meta tag that lets you specify a maximum size of image preview to be shown for images on this page, using either “none”, “standard”, or “large”.

Combine them. You can use these meta tags standalone or combine them if you want to both control the max length of the text and video. Here is an example:

HTML attribute. You can also use it as an HTML attribute and not as a meta tags. With this, you can prevent that part of an HTML page from being shown within the textual snippet on the page. Here is a code sample of how this might look:

Other search engines. As far as we know, Bing and other search engines do not currently support any of these new snippet settings. Google just came out with support for these new settings.

Directive, not a hint. Google said these are directives Google will follow, as opposed to being hints that it will consider but might ignore.

Preview. There is no real way to preview how these new snippet settings will work in live Google search. So you just need to implement it and wait for Google to show them. You can use the URL inspection tool to expedite crawling and once Google crawls it, you should be able to see the revised snippet in the live search results.

Going live end of October. Google said this will go live in mid-to-late October. Google will announce when this feature is live on its Twitter account at @googlewmc. When it does go live, it can take time to fully roll out, possibly over a week to fully roll out. This will be a global roll out a month from today.

Prepare now. Google gave us about a month of heads up notice on this so we can implement the changes to our sites now and then see how it impacts our listings in the Google search results when it goes live.

Featured snippets and rich results. Keep in mind, if you restrict Google from showing certain information, it may impact if you show up for featured snippet results and it may impact how your rich results look. Features snippets require a certain minimum number of characters to be displayed, and if you go below that minimum, it may result in your pages not qualifying for the featured snippet position.

AMP larger images. Google said you can also control what size impacts are shown in your AMP results, like top stories and other areas. Google said “publishers who do not want Google to use larger thumbnail images when their AMP pages are presented in search and Discover can use the above meta robots settings to specify max-image-preview of “standard” or “none.”

Rankings. This does not impact your overall Google web search rankings. Google will still crawl, index and rank your pages as it did before. It may impact your listing showing up with certain rich results, or your site showing up as featured snippets, as we described above. But this does not impact your overall rankings in Google search.

Why we care. One of the bigger requests SEOs, webmasters and site owners have wanted was more control over what Google shows for their listings in the Google search results. These new settings give you more flexibility in terms of what you do and do not want to show in your search result snippet on Google.


About The Author

Barry Schwartz is Search Engine Land’s News Editor and owns RustyBrick, a NY based web consulting firm. He also runs Search Engine Roundtable, a popular search blog on SEM topics.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

Getting started with Google Tag Manager

Getting started with Google Tag Manager

Ever put in a development ticket for what you thought would be a simple tracking code update? And then waited weeks for the task to be completed?

Google Tag Manager (GTM) saves marketers and developers alike by allowing you to set up tracking codes for analytics and ad platforms through one simple interface. In this article, I’ll walk through setting up a GTM account, creating your first tags and triggers, and using the platform to streamline your tracking setup process.

Understanding Google Tag Manager hierarchy

The account is the top level of GTM hierarchy. If you’re managing GTM from an agency login, you’d generally want to create one account per each brand you work with, and a container for each website that brand uses. You can access multiple accounts via the same Google login.

A container includes a unique GTM code, which you should add across the site you want to track.

Within each container, you’ll then set up tags that fire tracking codes on your site. Triggers define when tags will fire. Variables are functions you can use on a more granular level indicate when tags will fire.

Setting up your account

To start setting up your account, go here and click “Start for Free.”

You’ll then see a screen where you create an account.

Enter the relevant info into the fields and select the platform. In this article, we’re talking about using GTM for web, but you can also set up accounts for apps and AMP (Google’s framework for mobile pages).

Click Create, and you’ll see the GTM code, which you can then add to the site. If you’re comfortable editing your site’s source code, add the first code within the <head> and the next code right after the opening <body> tag, or send the codes to a developer to install.

Depending on your CMS, you may also be able to set up GTM via a plugin. If your site is on WordPress, try this Google Tag Manager for WordPress plugin.

Setting up tags

GTM includes several built-in tag templates for major analytics and ad platforms. These include Google products, such as Analytics, Ads, Optimize, and Surveys, as well as several third-party platforms, such as AdRoll, Microsoft Advertising, LinkedIn and Quora. If a tracking tag doesn’t have an existing template, you can also use a Custom HTML or Custom Image tag.

To create your first tag, click “Add a new tag” from the Overview screen. 

Now you can start defining criteria for your tag.

In the top field, add a name. Be sure to think about naming conventions that will allow you to keep track of several tags easily. I like to start with the name of the platform associated with the tag, followed by the type of tag and unique criteria.

For instance:

  • Google Ads – Conversion – Brochure Download
  • Google Ads – Conversion – LP Lead
  • Google Ads – Remarketing

Clicking within the “Tag Configuration” box allows you to choose your tag type. You can scroll through to find your desired tag, or you can click the magnifying glass to search by name.

Once you select your tag, you’ll see fields customized based on the associated platform. You can then fill in the criteria.

Generally, for each template, you’ll need to pull an ID number from your analytics or ad platform, and then you can use the additional fields to adjust what you want to track.

Have the code for a tracking tag, but don’t see a template? Choose a Custom HTML tag type, and paste your code into the box. 

Setting up triggers

Next comes the Triggering box, where you can choose a trigger that will cause your tag to fire. Triggers can be based on a number of actions such as pageviews, clicks, element visibility, form submissions, time on site, custom events and more.

Choose the trigger you want and then use the fields to specify criteria.

For instance, this pageview trigger will fire when the /thanks URL is viewed. You can also add multiple conditions, all of which will need to be true before the trigger fires. For instance, you might want to only fire a tag if a certain page is viewed and a user completes an event on the page.

Enabling variables

Note that a limited amount of variables appear in your options by default when setting up triggers. If you want to delve into more precise customization, be sure to enable additional variables in the interface.

Navigate to the Variables section and select “Configure” by “Built-In Variables.” You can now select the additional ones you’d like to add. For instance, you might want to target clicks for buttons that all have the same CSS class. You can check the box next to “Click Classes” and you’ll now see this variable as an option.

You can also create custom variables from the User-Defined Variables section. One common use is the Google Analytics Settings variable, which holds your Google Analytics ID to be used whenever setting up an Analytics tag. Custom events are also useful to target specific actions on the site that can’t be otherwise pinpointed with the default variables.

Going live and testing

All changes you make within GTM occur in a draft mode that doesn’t go live until you submit it. You can preview your setup on your site by using the Preview button on the upper right. You’ll see a bar at the bottom of your browser window letting you know when tags fire. 

Once you’ve confirmed your setup appears to be accurate, click “Submit” to make everything live.

After deploying tags on your site, you can also test for proper installation with Google Tag Assistant. Install the Chrome extension and navigate to the site. Click the Tag Assistant icon, and select “Enable” for your site.

You should now be able to see what tags are firing on your site, as well as if there are any errors. Click on an individual tag to see more details about errors and any recommendations to fix your implementation.

Start streamlining your tracking

Once you’ve set up your GTM account, take the time to play with setting up tags. A global Google Analytics tag, a Google Ads remarketing tag and a Google Ads conversion tag are good ones to start.

Once all your ad platforms’ tags are represented, you can now make simple adjustments if changes are made to the site (for instance, if Thank You page URLs change) directly through GTM versus having to change hard-coded tags on the site.

When you’re ready to move beyond the basics, you can learn about additional actions you can track. On Nov. 13 at SMX East, I’ll be talking about how to amp up your user engagement with Google Tag Manager, through tracking actions like scroll activity, video views and PDF downloads.


Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.


About The Author

Tim Jensen is a campaign manager at Clix Marketing. With over 8 years of experience in the digital marketing industry, Tim has worked with both B2B and B2C accounts in a wide variety of industries. While comfortable managing ads across all major platforms, he’s particularly intrigued with the crossover between analytics and PPC.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

Google Review Stars Drop by 14%

Google Review Stars Drop by 14%

On Monday, September 16, Google announced that they would be restricting review stars in SERPs to specific schemas and would stop displaying reviews that they deemed to be “self-serving.” It wasn’t clear at the time when this change would be happening, or if it had already happened.

Across our daily MozCast tracking set, we measured a drop the morning of September 16 (in sync with the announcement) followed by a continued drop the next day …

The purple bar shows the new “normal” in our data set (so far). This represents a two-day relative drop of nearly 14% (13.8%). It definitely appears that Google dropped review snippets from page-1 SERPs across the roughly 48-hour period around their announcement (note that measurements are only taken once per day, so we can’t pinpoint changes beyond 24-hour periods).

Review drops by category

When we broke this two-day drop out into 20 industry categories (roughly corresponding to Google Ads), the results were dramatic. Note that every industry experienced some loss of review snippets. This is not a situation with “winners” and “losers” like an algorithm update. Google’s changes only reduced review snippets. Here’s the breakdown …

Percent drops in blue are <10%, purple are 10%-25%, and red represents 25%+ drops. Finance and Real Estate were hit the hardest, both losing almost half of their SERPs with review snippets (-46%). Note that our 10K daily data set broken down 20 ways only has 500 SERPs per category, so the sample size is low, but even at the scale of 500 SERPs, some of these changes are clearly substantial.

Average reviews per SERP

If we look only at the page-1 SERPs that have review snippets, were there any changes in the average number of snippets per SERP? The short answer is “no” …

On September 18, when the dust settled on the drop, SERPs with review snippets had an average of 2.26 snippets, roughly the same as prior to the drop. Many queries seem to have been unaffected.

Review counts per SERP

How did this break down by count? Let’s look at just the three days covering the review snippet drop. Page-1 SERPs in MozCast with review snippets had between one and nine results with snippets. Here’s the breakdown …



Consistent with the stable average, there was very little shift across groups. Nearly half of all SERPs with review snippets had just one result with review snippets, with a steady drop as count increases.

Next steps and Q&A

What does this mean for you if your site has been affected? I asked my colleague and local SEO expert, Miriam Ellis, for a bit of additional advice …

(Q) Will I be penalized if I leave my review schema active on my website?

(A) No. Continuing to use review schema should have no negative impact. There will be no penalty.

(Q) Are first-party reviews “dead”?

(A) Of course not. Displaying reviews on your website can still be quite beneficial in terms of:

  • Instilling trust in visitors at multiple phases of the consumer journey
  • Creating unique content for store location landing pages
  • Helping you monitor your reputation, learn from and resolve customers’ cited complaints

(Q) Could first-party review stars return to the SERPs in future?

(A) Anything is possible with Google. Review stars were often here-today-gone-tomorrow even while Google supported them. But, Google seems to have made a fairly firm decision this time that they feel first-party reviews are “self serving”.

(Q) Is Google right to consider first-party reviews “self-serving”?

(A) Review spam and review gating are serious problems. Google is absolutely correct that efforts must be made to curb abusive consumer sentiment tactics. At the same time, Google’s increasing control of business reputation is a cause for concern, particularly when their own review corpus is inundated with spam, even for YMYL local business categories. In judging which practices are self-serving, Google may want to look closer to home to see whether their growing middle-man role between consumers and businesses is entirely altruistic. Any CTR loss attendant on Google’s new policy could rightly be seen as less traffic for brand-controlled websites and more for Google.

For more tactical advice on thriving in this new environment, there’s a good write-up on GatherUp.

Thanks, Miriam! A couple of additional comments. As someone who tracks the SERPs, I can tell you that the presence of review stars has definitely fluctuated over time, but in the past this has been more of a “volume” knob, for lack of a better word. In other words, Google is always trying to find an overall balance of usefulness for the feature. You can expect this number to vary in the future, as well, but, as Miriam said, you have to look at the philosophy underlying this change. It’s unlikely Google will reverse course on that philosophy itself.

Vertaald van MOZ

Server migrations are “uneventful for Google systems”

Server migrations are “uneventful for Google systems”

Server migrations “are pretty uneventful for Google systems” so long as everything else stays the same, although Googlebot will readjust how frequently it crawls your site, Webmaster Trends Analyst John Mueller said on the September 24 edition of #AskGoogleWebmasters.

The question. “Our site is changing servers and I’ve had this go disastrously in the past. What do I need to do to ensure SEO is preserved?” asked user @JSAdvertiseMint via Twitter.

The answer. “Server migrations — where you’re just moving from one server to another, while keeping everything else the same — are pretty uneventful for Google systems,” Mueller said. “The important part is really that everything else stays the same: the URLs stay the same, the content stays the same, the CMS stays the same. It’s all the same website, just hosted on a different IP address.”

The caveat. “The only common issue that can come up with a server migration like that is that Googlebot will readjust how frequently it crawls from your website,” Mueller said, explaining that the crawling frequency adjustment takes place automatically.

“The goal is to avoid causing problems on your server through too much crawling. So, when we recognize that your server has changed, our systems will generally throttle back, make sure that your new server can cope with the extra work of Googlebot crawling and then, over time, we’ll increase the speed again to a rate that works well for your server and that helps us to keep your website fresh in the search results.”

Why we should care. If you have to change servers, it’s important to be aware of and prepare for any side effects that migration may have on your rankings and traffic. Although your existing SEO efforts will be preserved, less frequent crawling means that new or updated content may take a while to appear on search results, so you may want to postpone publishing any big post-migration projects until crawling resumes with regular frequency.


About The Author

George Nguyen is an Associate Editor at Third Door Media. His background is in content marketing, journalism, and storytelling.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

YouTube ‘Video Reach’ campaigns let advertisers upload multiple videos for single campaign

YouTube ‘Video Reach’ campaigns let advertisers upload multiple videos for single campaign

YouTube launched a new way to run video ad campaigns on Monday. The new Video Reach campaigns make it possible for advertiser to upload three different asset types — six-second bumper ads, skippable in-stream ads and non-skippable in-stream ads — in a single campaign. Google will use its machine learning technology to determine the most efficient combination of the ads to maximize audience reach.

“This will allow for optimized, more effective campaigns and free up your time to focus on more strategic priorities that can differentiate your business,” writes Vishal Sharma, VP of product management at YouTube, on the Google Ads Blog.

Advertisers can upload three video ads to a single campaign which is purchased on a CPM-basis. The Video Reach campaigns are available to all advertisers and currently run on YouTube’s desktop and mobile platforms, but YouTube VP Debbie Weinstein said the company will likely extend the campaigns to Google video partners in the future. Weinstein said the new campaigns, “Are about making video advertising easier and simpler.”

Why we should care

By allowing advertisers to upload multiple types of video assets, YouTube’s video reach campaigns takes the guesswork out of creating comprehensive campaigns that utilize a series of ads.

Ford, a brand given early access to the new campaign format, reports it lowered campaign costs by more than 20% compared to their previous YouTube benchmarks.

“The positive results of the Video Reach campaigns not only provided cost efficiencies while maintaining effectiveness, but also the confidence to implement this tactic across additions campaigns,” said Ford’s Head of U.S. Media Lisa Shoder.

More on the news

  • Weinstein said YouTube’s machine learning technology is looking at what consumers are most likely to watch at a given time to determine when to run the varying video ad assets.
  • YouTube made the announcement ahead AdWeek which kicks off on Monday in New York City.
  • As part of the announcement, YouTube reports it is also planning to bring TrueView for action ads to the YouTube home feed during the fourth quarter of this year.

About The Author

Amy Gesenhues is a senior editor for Third Door Media, covering the latest news and updates for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. From 2009 to 2012, she was an award-winning syndicated columnist for a number of daily newspapers from New York to Texas. With more than ten years of marketing management experience, she has contributed to a variety of traditional and online publications, including MarketingProfs, SoftwareCEO, and Sales and Marketing Management Magazine. Read more of Amy’s articles.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

New Opportunities for Image SEO: How to Leverage Machine Vision for Strategic Wins

New Opportunities for Image SEO: How to Leverage Machine Vision for Strategic Wins

Image search results used to give you the option to “view image” without having to navigate to the site the image was hosted on.

When it started in 2013, sites saw a 63% decline in organic traffic from image results.

Why?

Because there was no need to click through when the image could be viewed in full from within the search results.

And then everything changed

In February 2018, Google decided to remove the “view image” button. Now searchers must visit the site hosting that image directly, restoring image results to their former organic search driving power.

According to some recent studies, this change has increased organic image traffic a massive 37%.

Given image results’ return to value, marketers are asking themselves how they can make the most out of this search mechanism.

So what are some new ways we can leverage tools to better understand how to optimize images for ranking?

To explore this, I decided to see if Google’s Vision AI could assist in unearthing hidden information about what matters to image ranking. Specifically, I wondered what Google’s image topic modeling would reveal about the images that rank for individual keyword searches, as well as groups of thematically related keywords aggregated around a specific topic or niche.

Here’s what I did — and what I found.

A deep dive on “hunting gear”

I began by pulling out 10 to 15 top keywords in our niche. For this article, we chose “hunting gear” as a category and pulled high-intent, high-value, high-volume keywords. The keywords we selected were:

  • Bow hunting gear
  • Cheap hunting gear
  • Coyote hunting gear
  • Dans hunting gear
  • Deer hunting gear
  • Discount hunting gear
  • Duck hunting gear
  • Hunting gear
  • Hunting rain gear
  • Sitka hunting gear
  • Turkey hunting gear
  • Upland hunting gear
  • Womens hunting gear

I then pulled the image results for the Top 50 ranking images for each of these keywords, yielding roughly ~650 images to give to Google’s image analysis API. I made sure to make note of the ranking position of each image in our data (this is important for later).

Learning from labels

The first, and perhaps most actionable, analysis the API can be used for is in labeling images. It utilizes state-of-the-art image recognition models to parse each image and return labels for everything within that image it can identify. Most images had between 4 and 10 identifiable objects contained within them. For the “hunting gear” related keywords listed above, this was the distribution of labels:

[full interactive]

At a high level, this gives us plenty of information about Google’s understanding of what images that rank for these terms should depict. A few takeaways:

  • The top ranking images across all 13 of these top keywords have a pretty even distribution across labels.
  • Clothing, and specifically camouflage, are highly represented, with nearly 5% of all images containing camo-style clothing. Now, perhaps this seems obvious, but it’s instructive. Including images in your blog posts related to these hunting keywords with images containing camo gear likely gives you improved likelihood of having one of your images included in top ranking image results.
  • Outdoor labels are also overrepresented: wildlife, trees, plants, animals, etc. Images of hunters in camo, out in the wild, and with animals near them are disproportionately represented.

Looking closer at the distribution labels by keyword category can give use a deeper understanding of how the ranking images differ between similar keywords.

[full interactive]

Here we see:

  • For “turkey hunting gear” and “duck hunting gear,” having birds in your images seems very important, with the other keywords rarely including images with birds.
  • Easy comparisons are possible with the interactive Tableau dashboards, giving you an “at a glance” understanding of what image distributions look like for an individual keyword vs. any other or all others. Below I highlighted just “duck hunting gear,” and you can see similar distribution of the most prevalent labels as the other keywords at the top. However, hugely overrepresented are “water bird,” “duck,” “bird,” “waders,” “hunting dog,” “hunting decoy,” etc., providing ample ideas for great images to include in the body of your content.

[full interactive]

Ranking comparisons

Getting an intuition for the differences in top ranking (images ranking in the first 10 images for a keyword search) vs. bottom ranking (images ranking in the 41st to 50th positions) is also possible.

[full interactive]

Here we can see that some labels seem preferred for top rankings. For instance:

  • Clothing-related labels are much more common amongst the best ranking images.
  • Animal-related labels are less common amongst the best ranking images but more common amongst the lower ranking images.
  • Guns seem significantly more likely to appear in top ranking images.

By investigating trends in labels across your keywords, you can gain many interesting insights into the images most likely to rank for your particular niche. These insights will be different for any set of keywords, but a close examination of the results will yield more than a few actionable insights.

Not surprisingly, there are ways to go even deeper in your analysis with other artificial intelligence APIs. Let’s take a look at how we can further supplement our efforts.

An even deeper analysis for understanding

Deepai.org has an amazing suite of APIs that can be easily accessed to provide additional image labeling capabilities. One such API is “Image Captioning,” which is similar to Google’s image labeling, but instead of providing single labels, it provides descriptive labels, like “the man is holding a gun.”

We ran all of the same images as the Google label detection through this API and got some great additional detail for each image.

Just as with the label analysis, I broke up the caption distributions and analyzed their distributions by keyword and by overall frequency for all of the selected keywords. Then I compared top and bottom ranking images.

A final interesting finding

Google sometimes ranks YouTube video thumbnails in image search results. Below is an example I found in the hunting gear image searches.

It seems likely that at least some of Google’s understanding of why this thumbnail should rank for hunting gear comes from its image label detection. Though other factors, like having “hunting gear” in the title and coming from the NRA (high topical authority) certainly help, the fact that this thumbnail depicts many of the same labels as other top-ranking images must also play a role.

The lesson here is that the right video thumbnail choice can help that thumbnail to rank for competitive terms, so apply your learnings from doing image search result label and caption analysis to your video SEO strategy!

In the case of either video thumbnails or standard images, don’t overlook the ranking potential of the elements featured — it could make a difference in your SERP positions.

Vertaald van MOZ

TripAdvisor says it blocked or removed nearly 1

TripAdvisor says it blocked or removed nearly 1.5 million fake reviews in 2018

The majority of consumers (80%90%) routinely consult reviews before buying something, whether online or off. The powerful influence of reviews on purchase behavior has spawned a cottage industry of fake-reviews, a problem that is growing on major sites such as Amazon, Google and Yelp, among other places.

Just over 2% of reviews submitted were fake. TripAdvisor is one of those other places, where reviews form the core of the company’s content and the principle reason consumers visit. How much of the review activity on TripAdvisor is fraudulent? In its inaugural TripAdvisor Transparency Report the company says that 2.1% of all reviews submitted to the site in 2018 were fake. (A total of 4.7% of all review submissions were rejected or removed for violating TripAdvisor’s review guidelines, which extend beyond fraud.)

Source: TripAdvisor Review Transparency Report

73% blocked by machine detection. Given the volume of review submissions TripAdvisor receives – more than 66 million in 2018 – that translates into roughly 1.4 million fake reviews. TripAdvisor says that 73% of those fake reviews were blocked before being posted, while the remainder of fake reviews were later removed. The company also says that it has “stopped the activity of more than 75 websites that were caught trying to sell reviews” since 2015.

TripAdvisor defines “fake review” as one “written by someone who is trying to unfairly manipulate a business’ average rating or traveler ranking, such as a staff member or a business’ competitor. Reviews that give an account of a genuine customer’s experience, even if elements of that account are disputed by the business in question, are not categorized as fake.”

The company uses a mix of machine detection, human moderation and community flagging to catch fraudulent reviews. The bulk of inauthentic reviews (91%) are fake positive reviews TripAdvisor says.

Most of the fake reviews that are submitted to TripAdvisor (91%) are "biased positive reviews."

Source: TripAdvisor Review Transparency Report

TripAdvisor says that the review fraud problem is global, with fake reviews originating in most countries. However, it said there was a higher percentage than average of fake reviews “originating from Russia.” By contrast, China is the source of many fake reviews on Amazon.

Punishing fake reviews. TripAdvisor has a number of penalties and punishments for review fraud. In the first instance of a business being caught posting or buying fake reviews, TripAdvisor imposes a temporary ranking penalty.

Upon multiple infractions, the company will impose a content ban that prevents the individual or individuals in question from posting additional reviews and content on the site. It also prevents the involved parties from creating new accounts to circumvent the ban.

In the most extreme cases, the company will apply a badge of shame (penalty badge) that warns consumers the business has repeatedly attempted to defraud them. This is effectively a kiss of death for the business. Yelp does something similar.

Why we should care. Consumer trust is eroding online. It’s incumbent upon major consumer destinations sites to police their reviews aggressively and prevent unscrupulous merchants from deceiving consumers. Yelp has been widely criticized for its “review filter” but credit the company for its long-standing efforts to protect the integrity of its content.

Google and Amazon, in particular, need to do much more to combat review spam and fraud. Hopefully TripAdvisor’s effort and others like it will inspire them to.


About The Author

Greg Sterling is a Contributing Editor at Search Engine Land. He writes about the connections between digital and offline commerce. He previously held leadership roles at LSA, The Kelsey Group and TechTV. Follow him Twitter or find him on LinkedIn.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

Store visits now available for Google Ads smart bidding optimization

Store visits now available for Google Ads smart bidding optimization

Advertisers who have store visits measurement in their Google Ads accounts can now incorporate store visits data in their smart bidding strategies.

Why we should care. The update allows stores with physical locations to optimize with and for foot traffic in addition to online conversions with smart bidding. Smart bidding strategies use machine learning aimed at predicting when a conversion action is most likely and adjust bids at the time of auction accordingly.

Search and shopping. Store visits in smart bidding is now available to all advertisers in Search and Shopping campaigns.

How to implement. Advertisers can incorporate store visits conversions into smart bidding at the account level, but many will prefer to test it out at the campaign level first. The relatively new campaign-level conversion action setting allows you to do that in Search campaigns. If you’re interested in this for Shopping campaigns, you’ll have to contact your Google Ads rep at this point.

For background on Google’s store visits measurement works, see: How Google AdWords Measures Store Visits and Google’s Surojit Chatterjee: Here’s Why You Should Trust AdWords Estimated Store Visits.


About The Author

Ginny Marvin is Third Door Media’s Editor-in-Chief, managing day-to-day editorial operations across all of our publications. Ginny writes about paid online marketing topics including paid search, paid social, display and retargeting for Search Engine Land, Marketing Land and MarTech Today. With more than 15 years of marketing experience, she has held both in-house and agency management positions. She can be found on Twitter as @ginnymarvin.

Dit artikel is vertaald van Search Engine Land

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