Tuesday, 12 May 2020

Google’s May 2020 Core Update: What You Need to Know

On May 4th, Google started to roll out a major update to its algorithm. They call it a “core” update because it’s a large change to their algorithm, which means it impacts a lot of sites.

To give you an idea of how big the update is, just look at the image above. It’s from SEMrush Sensor, which monitors the movement of results on Google.

The chart tracks Google on a daily basis and when it shows green or blue for the day, it means there isn’t much movement going on. But when things turn red, it means there is volatility in the rankings.

Now the real question is, what happened to your traffic?

If you already haven’t, you should go and check your rankings to see if they have gone up or down. If you aren’t tracking your rankings, you can set up a project on Ubersuggest for free and track up to 25 keywords.

You should also log into your Google Analytics account and check to see what’s happening to your traffic.

Hopefully, your traffic has gone up. If it hasn’t, don’t panic. I have some information that will help you out.

Let’s first start off by going over the industries that have been most impacted…

So what industries were affected?

Here are the industries that got affected.

As you can see, travel, real estate, health, pets & animals, and people & society saw the biggest fluctuations with rankings.

Other industries were also affected… the ones at the bottom of the list were the least affected, such as “news.”

There was also a shakeup in local SEO results, but that started before the core update.

One big misconception that I hear from people new to SEO is that if you have a high domain authority or domain score (if you aren’t sure what yours is, go here and put in your URL), you’ll continually get more traffic and won’t be affected by updates. That is false.

To give you an idea, here are some well-known sites that saw their rankings dip according to our index at Ubersuggest:

  • Spotify.com
  • Creditkarma.com
  • LinkedIn.com
  • Legoland.com
  • Nypost.com
  • Ny.gov
  • Burlington.com

More importantly, we saw some trends on sites that got affected versus ones that didn’t.

Update your content frequently

I publish 4 articles a month on this blog. Pretty early every Tuesday like clockwork, I publish a new post.

But do you know how often I update my old content?

Take a guess?

Technically, I don’t update my own content, but I have 3 people who work for me and all they do is go through old blog posts and update them.

On any given month, my team updates at least 90 articles. And when I say update, I am not talking about just adjusting a sentence or adding an image. I am talking about adding a handful of new paragraphs, deleting irrelevant information, and sometimes even re-writing entire articles.

They do whatever it takes to keep articles up to date and valuable for the readers. Just like how Wikipedia is constantly updating its content.

Here’s an interesting stat for you: We know for certain that 641 sites that we are tracking are updating old content on a daily basis.

Can you guess how many of them saw a search traffic dip of 10% or more?

Only 38! That’s 5.92%, which is extremely low.

What’s crazy, though, is that 187 sites saw an increase in their search traffic of 10% or more.

One thing to note is when we are calculating organic search traffic estimates, we look at the average monthly volume of a keyword as well as click-through rates based on ranking. So holidays such as May 1, which is Labor Day for most of the world, didn’t skew the results.

Now, to clarify, I am not talking about producing new content on a daily or even weekly basis. These sites are doing what I do on NeilPatel.com… they are constantly updating their old content.

Again, there is no “rubric” on how to update your old content as it varies per article, but the key is to do whatever it takes to keep it relevant for your readers and ensure that it is better than the competition.

If you still want some guidance on updating old content, here is what I tell my team:

  1. If the content is no longer relevant to a reader, either delete the page and 301 redirect it to the most relevant URL on the site or update it to make it relevant.
  2. Are there ways to make the content more actionable and useful? Such as, would adding infographics, step-by-step instructions, or videos to the article make it more useful? If so, add them.
  3. Check to see if there are any dead links and fix them. Dead links create a poor user experience.
  4. If the article is a translated article (I have a big global audience), make sure the images and videos make sense to anyone reading the content in that language.
  5. Look to see the 5 main terms each article ranks for and then Google those terms. What do the pages ranking in the top 10 do really well that we aren’t?
  6. Can you make the article simpler? Remove fluff and avoid using complex words that very few people can understand.
  7. Does the article discuss a specific year or time frame? If possible, make the article evergreen by avoiding the usage of dates or specific time ranges.
  8. If the article covers a specific problem people are facing, make sure you look at Quora first before updating the article. Look to see popular answers on Quora as it will give you a sense of what people are ideally looking for.
  9. Is this article a duplicate? Not from a wording perspective, but are you pretty much covering the exact same concept as another article on your site. If so, consider merging them and 301 redirect one URL to the other.

Fix your thin content

Here’s another interesting stat for you. On average, Ubersuggest crawls 71 websites every minute. And when I mean crawl, users are putting in URLs to check for SEO errors.

One error that our system looks at is thin content (pages with low-word counts).

On average, 46% of the websites we analyze have at least one page that is thin in content. Can you guess how many of those sites got impacted by the latest algorithm update?

We don’t have enough data on all of the URLs as the majority of those sites get very little to no search traffic as they are either new sites or haven’t done much SEO.

But when we look at the last 400 sites in our system that were flagged with thin content warnings for pages other than their contact page, about page, or home page, and had at least 1,000 visitors a month from Google, they saw a massive shift in rankings.

127 of the sites saw a decrease in search traffic by at least 10% while 41 saw an increase in search traffic by at least 10%.

Sites with thin content saw a roughly 3 times higher likelihood of being affected in a negative way than a positive one. Of course, the majority of the sites with thin content saw little to no change at all, but still, a whopping 31.75% saw a decrease.

If you don’t know if you have thin content, go here and put in your URL.

You’ll see a report that looks something like this:

I want you to click on the “Critical Errors” box.

You’ll now see a report that looks like:

Look to see if there are any “low word count” errors. If there is, click on the number and it will take you to a page that shows you all of the pages with a low word count.

You won’t be able to fix them all, as some pages like your contact page or category pages, which may not need thousands of words.

And in other cases, you may be able to get the point across to a website visitor in a few hundred words or even through images. An example would be if you have an article on how to tie a tie, you may not have too many words because it’s easier to show people how to do so through a video or a series of images.

But for the pages that should be more in-depth, you should fix them. Here are the three main questions to consider when fixing thin content pages:

  1. Do you really need to add more words – if you can get the message across in a few hundred words or through images or videos, it may be enough. Don’t add words when it isn’t needed. Think of the user experience instead. People would rather have the answer to their question in a few seconds than to wait minutes.
  2. How does your page compare to the competition – look at similar pages that are ranking on page 1. Do they have more content than you or less? This will give you an idea if you need to expand your page, especially if everyone who ranks on page 1 has at least a few thousand words on their page.
  3. Does it even make sense to keep the page – if it provides little to no value to a reader and you can’t make it better by updating it, you may want to consider deleting it and 301 redirect the URL to another similar page on your site.

Fix your SEO errors

Another interesting finding that we noticed when digging through our Ubersuggest data is that sites with more SEO errors got impacted greatly.

Now, this doesn’t mean that if you have a ton of SEO errors you can’t rank or you are going to get hit by an algorithm update.

More so it was one type of error that hurt sites more than others. It was sites with duplicate title tags and meta descriptions.

One thing to note was that many sites have duplicate meta tags, but when a large portion of your pages have duplicate meta tags, it usually creates problems.

So we dug up sites that contained duplicate meta tags and title tags for 20% or more of their pages.

Most of these sites didn’t get much traffic in general, but for the 363 that we could dig up that generated at least 1,000 visits a month from Google, 151 saw a decrease in traffic by at least 10%.

89 of them also saw increases in traffic by 10% or more, but still, 41.59% of sites with duplicate meta tags saw a huge dip. If you have duplicate meta tags you should get this fix.

To double check if you do, put your URL in here again. It will load this report again:

And then click on the critical errors again. You’ll see a report that looks like this:

Look for any errors that say duplicate meta description or title tag. If you see it, click on the number and it will take you to a page that breaks down the duplicates.

Again, your site doesn’t have to be perfect and you’ll find in some cases that you have duplicates that don’t need to be fixed, such as category pages with pagination.

But in most cases, you should fix and avoid having duplicate meta description and title tags.


Even if you do everything I discussed above, there is no guarantee that you will be impacted by an algorithm update. Each one is different, and Google’s goal is to create the best experience for searchers.

If you look at the above issues, you’ll notice that fixing them should create a better user experience and that should always be your goal.

It isn’t about winning on Google. SEO is about providing a better experience than your competition. If that’s your core focus, in the long run, you’ll find that you’ll do better than your competition when it comes to algorithm updates.

So how was your traffic during the last update? Did it go up or down, or just stay flat?

The post Google’s May 2020 Core Update: What You Need to Know appeared first on Neil Patel.

* This article was originally published here

Use the Blank Sheet of Paper Test to Optimize for Natural Language Processing

Posted by Evan_Hall

If you handed someone a blank sheet of paper and the only thing written on it was the page’s title, would they understand what the title meant? Would they have a clear idea of what the actual document might be about? If so, then congratulations! You just passed the Blank Sheet of Paper Test for page titles because your title was descriptive.

The Blank Sheet of Paper Test (BSoPT) is an idea Ian Lurie has talked about a lot over the years, and recently on his new website. It’s a test to see if what you’ve written has meaning to someone who has never encountered your brand or content before. In Ian’s words, "Will this text, written on a blank sheet of paper, make sense to a stranger?" The Blank Sheet of Paper Test is about clarity without context.

But what if we’re performing the BSoPT on a machine instead of a person? Does our thought experiment still apply? I think so. Machines can’t read—even sophisticated ones like Google and Bing. They can only guess at the meaning of our content, which makes the test especially relevant.

I have an alternative version of the BSoPT, but for machines: If all a machine could see is a list of words that appear in a document and how often, could it reasonably guess what the document is about?

The Blank Sheet of Paper Test for word frequency

If you handed someone a blank sheet of paper and the only thing written on it was this table of words and frequencies, could they guess what the article is about?

An article about sharpening a knife is a pretty good guess. The article I took this word frequency table from was a how-to guide for sharpening a kitchen knife.

What if the words "step" and "how" appeared in the table? Would the person reading be more confident this article is about sharpening knives, or less? Could they tell if this article is about sharpening kitchen knives or pocket knives?

If we can't get a pretty good idea of what the article is about based on which words it uses, then it fails the BSoPT for word frequency.

Can we still use word frequency for BERT?

Earlier natural language processing (NLP) approaches employed by search engines used statistical analysis of word frequency and word co-occurrence to determine what a page is about. They ignored the order and part of speech of the words in our content, basically treating our pages like bags of words.

The tools we used to optimize for that kind of NLP compared the word frequency of our content against our competitors, and told us where the gaps in word usage were. Hypothetically, if we added those words to our content, we would rank higher, or at least help search engines understand our content better.

Those tools still exist: Market Muse, SEMRush, seobility, Ryte, and others have some sort of word frequency or TD-IDF gap analysis capability. I’ve been using a free word frequency tool called Online Text Comparator, and it works pretty well. Are they still useful now that search engines have advanced with NLP approaches like BERT? I think so, but it’s not as simple as more words = better rankings.

BERT is a lot more sophisticated than a bag-of-words approach. BERT looks at the order of words, part of speech, and any entities present in our content. It’s robust and can be trained to do many things including question answering and named entity recognition—definitely more advanced than basic word frequency.

However, BERT still needs to look at the words present on the page to function, and word frequency is a basic summary of that. Now, word location and part of speech matter more. We can’t just sprinkle the words we found in our gap analysis around the page.

Enhancing content with word frequency tools

To help make our content unambiguous to machines, we need to make it unambiguous to users. Reducing ambiguity in our writing is about choosing words that are specific to the topic we’re writing about. If our writing uses a lot of generic verbs, pronouns, and non-thematic adjectives, then not only is our content bland, it’s hard to understand.

Consider this extreme example of non-specific language:

“The trick to finding the right chef’s knife is finding a good balance of features, qualities and price. It should be made from metal strong enough to keep its edge for a decent amount of time. You should have a comfortable handle that won’t make you tired. You don’t need to spend a lot either. The home cook doesn’t need a fancy $350 Japanese knife.”

This copy isn’t great. It looks almost machine-generated. I can’t imagine a full article written like this would pass the BSoPT for word frequency.

Here’s what the word frequency table looks like with some stop words removed:

Now suppose we used a word frequency tool on a few pages that are ranking well for “how to pick a chef’s knife” and found that these parts of speech were being used fairly often:

Entities: blade, steel, fatigue, damascus steel, santoku, Shun (brand)
: grip, chopping
: perfect, hard, high-carbon

Incorporating these words into our copy would yield text that’s significantly better:

“The trick to finding the perfect chef’s knife is getting the right balance of features, qualities, and price. The blade should be made from steel hard enough to keep a sharp edge after repeated use. You should have an ergonomic handle that you can grip comfortably to prevent fatigue from extending chopping. You don’t need to spend a lot, either. The home cook doesn’t need a $350 high-carbon damascus steel santoku from Shun.”

This upgraded text will be easier for machines to classify, and better for users to read. It’s also just good writing to use words relevant to your topic.

Looking toward the future of NLP

Is improving our content with the Blank Sheet of Paper Test optimizing for BERT or other NLP algorithms? No, I don’t think so. I don’t think there is a special set of words we can add to our content to magically rank higher through exploiting BERT. I see this as a way to ensure our content is understood clearly by both users and machines.

I anticipate that we're getting pretty close to the point where the idea of optimizing for NLP will be considered absurd. Maybe in 10 years, writing for users and writing for machines will be the same thing because of how far the technology has advanced. But even then, we’ll still have to make sure our content makes sense. And the Blank Sheet of Paper Test will still be a great place to start.

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

* This article was originally published here

Monday, 11 May 2020

How to Stay Creative With an SEO-Driven Content Strategy

Posted by Caroline-Forsey

When I first joined HubSpot's blogging team in January 2018, I loved our writing process. Once a month, we all met in a conference room with a list of ideas on Google Docs which were pitched one-by-one (intricate, I know).

The process was extremely creative, iterative, and collaborative. Of course, it was also often a matter of guess-and-check. Plus, brainstorming can be a bit of a selfish process. The ideas I pitched in those meetings, I pitched in part because I wanted to write them and because I was interested in them as a reader. I could only hope our audience would be interested as well.

While we developed a pulse for understanding what our readers liked from reviewing top viewed posts from the past, our process didn't enable us to develop content that matched what our potential readers wanted from us.

So, just a few months into 2018, our team pivoted and created a brand new SEO-driven content strategy to address our inability to move forward. Take a look at the organic growth we've seen as a result of that strategy over the past two years:

How did we do it? To start, the blogging team partnered with the SEO team. The SEO team now delivers a fresh Search Insights Report (what we've come to affectionately call the "SIR") to us every quarter, which are packed with blog topics vetted for search potential. We diligently move down the list, assigning individual blog topics to be written or updated by writers on the team. From the graph above, you can see the almost immediate growth we expereinced as a result of this new strategy. Within two years, we more than doubled the keywords for which we rank on page one.

As Editor of HubSpot's Marketing Blog, this left me with a bit of a void. I was thrilled to see the results of the SIRs and recognized how they helped us reach new audiences and rekindle our organic traffic, but, from a personal perspective, I missed the creativity that came with pitching big-risk ideas and watching them pay off. (Believe it or not, articles like "What Is Semi-Structured Data?" wasn't exactly what I dreamt about publishing when obtaining my English degree.)

However, I've learned over the past year that there are ways to remain creative even within a grander, primarily SEO-driven strategy. Here, let's dive into six tips to ensure you don't have to sacrifice your own creative freedom for the sake of organic growth.

1. Enlist the help of experts to spark creativity while ensuring posts are still keyword-driven.

A few months ago, I tackled the topic of first versus third party APIs. While I am confident in writing about our product line, "Force quit" is about the extent of my software knowledge (option+command+esc, for those wondering), so I dreaded writing the post. It was both daunting and not particularly inspiring to me as a writer.

Of course, I could've written this post the way I've written about plenty of other dry topics — by sludging through it, chugging copious amounts of coffee, and listening to Spotify to make it a little more "fun".

However, when I began writing the post, I wasn't impressed with my work. Since I didn't fully grasp the concept, it was surface-level and ambiguous. If a marketer stumbled across it, they wouldn't learn much.

To solve for this issue, I reached out to a few IT specialists at HubSpot and ended up speaking to two developer support specialists. I even met with one of them via Zoom to further discuss the intricacies of APIs, and recorded the meeting to transcribe later on.

Suddenly, I felt like an investigative reporter. I collected quotes from experts in the field, drafted up a new post that made sense to both myself and the developer support specialists, and published it. I was incredibly proud of the piece because I felt I'd worked as a liaison between the developer world and the marketing world, making the whole concept of APIs a little clearer to my team while ensuring it remained accurate and tactical.

If you're feeling frustrated by a topic you don't feel comfortable writing about, don't hesitate to reach out to experts — even within your own company. Their passion for the subject will fuel your desire to write the piece from a more human angle. Remember, keyword-driven content still leaves plenty of room to angle the piece in a number of interesting directions, as long as the insight you're providing aligns with the intent of the keyword you're targeting.

2. Interview leaders in various industries and tell their stories.

Over the past year, I've spoken to happiness researcher and speaker Shawn Achor on how happiness leads to success, Harvard professor Amy Edmondson on psychological safety in the workplace, and leadership consultant Simon Hazeldine on using performance psychology to get ahead in the workplace, among many others.

These posts, which enabled me to synthesize complex psychological issues and translate them into tactical strategies for marketers, allowed me to exercise my creative muscle. I interviewed experts via email or on the phone, and used their responses to craft meaningful, coherent narratives. Ultimately, I never felt more "in the flow" than I did when writing these posts.

Your industry undoubtedly has leaders that interest you. If you're a marketer in the catering or hospitality industries, consider speaking to top chefs in the area. Alternatively, if you're a marketer for an e-commerce website, try reaching out to e-commerce consultants to get quotes about the future of the industry.

It's not impossible to align your own interests with business impact, even if those interests are outside the scope of traditional marketing. As someone who's personally interested in psychology, for instance, I was able to find the intersection between psychology and workplace performance, which helps our readers grow in their own roles.

Including feedback from experts can also give you a competitive advantage in the SERPs. For instance, we published "HubSpot Marketers Give 6 Tips for Fighting Burnout", on January 20, 2020, and within one month, it already had over 5,000 views. This piece, over time, will likely perform better than a more generic "how to fight burnout" piece without the expert angle.

Ultimately, it's important to consider who you're interested in speaking with and how that expert's experience might align with your audience's interests, and brainstorm ideas from there.

3. Find the human connection.

As marketers, we're often tasked with writing about less-than-thrilling topics, particularly if these topics are part of a keyword-driven strategy. For example, take a quick glimpse at some of the pieces we've seen on our SIR in the past:

These titles are helpful for our readers, but presenting the information in a creative way becomes difficult. I often tell new writers on the team that you can find an interesting human angle to any topic, no matter how boring it may seem, which makes writing about the topic more exciting and offers more ways for readers to connect with the piece.

The easiest way to find the human angle is to consider the reader's point of view when searching a topic on Google. Start by asking yourself, "why would I ever search for this topic?"

Searches don't happen in silos. Nowadays, Google is increasingly trying to continue a "searcher's journey" through People Also Ask boxes, People Also Search For panels, and Related Search links at the bottom of most SERPs. These features enable searchers to rethink their search and find similar, relevant answers to other questions they might have.

Ultimately, anyone searching for one keyword is searching for that keyword as part of a larger marketing and business strategy. As a content creator, it's critical you find the bigger picture element and use these new SERP features to tell more creative, holistic stories around the topic at hand.

For instance, recently I wrote a post on how to embed videos in emails. The body of the post itself, I knew, allowed for little creativity — it was essentially a brief step-by-step guide to embedding video. However, I could still find space for creativity in my introduction, and I knew that meant developing empathy for my reader.

I started by imagining the motivation behind any marketer searching "how to embed video in email". They are likely someone who's struggling to increase CTR or email subscriptions, so I introduced the topic with a brief, big-picture overview on why email is important for a business's bottom line (in case you wanted to know, it’s because 87% of businesses use video in their marketing tactics).

Then, I empathize with the reader, acknowledging that sprucing up your emails isn't always easy, and neither is embedding videos — particularly since major email clients don't support video embeds.

Suddenly, a topic I'd initially found boring became exciting to me because I could sense the urgency and real-world impact that publishing the piece and answering the reader's query would have. In essence, what they’re really asking is "How can I continue creating engaging content for my audience?"

That's a human angle to which I think we can all relate.

4. Use multimedia to freshen up old content.

If you're struggling with a particularly dry topic, you might evoke creativity by adding multimedia elements like podcasts, YouTube videos, images, or graphs — all of which open up new traffic opportunities since you can generate image traffic through the SERPs as well.

These designs can help you stay engaged when writing the piece, and can also help your post rank on Google, since search engines prefer multimedia components such as images or video.

For instance, we embedded a video in "How to Create An Incredibly Well-Written Executive Summary [+ Example]". Readers have the option of reading my post, but alternatively, they can watch the discussion take place on-screen.

Of course, multimedia depends on your budget. We aren't able to add a video to every post we produce. However, there are plenty of simpler forms of multimedia that are free, such as embedded images and graphs.

Additionally, if you're interested in other aspects of marketing besides writing, this is a good chance to expand your professional portfolio and learn a new skill as well.

5. Frame your content from a unique angle that differentiates it from other search results.

It's important to note: not all posts need to agree with what's already on the SERPs for you to rank.

For instance, my colleague Lestraundra wrote "10 Reasons Why You Don't Need a CRM". This article currently ranks on page one for the search query "you don't need a CRM" ... but the article actually explains why you do need a CRM, in a playfully sarcastic way.

We managed to rank well while also giving readers something they weren't expecting. You might consider similar provocative arguments you can make, as the uniqueness (and sometimes controversy) of your writing will enable you to rise up the ranks on the SERPs while providing fresh, interesting content to your audience.

6. Engage with your readers in real life whenever possible.

On one particularly uninspiring day, I set up a 30-minute chat with a customer to learn more about her personal marketing challenges.

As we spoke, I realized how out-of-touch I'd become with some of our readers’ primary struggles. For instance, she was a team of one, which meant while she understood the importance of blogging, she didn't always have time to develop an in-depth strategy since she was juggling content creation for social media, email marketing, and PR for her small business.

When I got back to my desk, I had no problem writing my assigned post about free social media analytics tools, because I understood the real-world importance of this post for that reader's daily life. Ultimately, she didn't have time to research the pros and cons of various tools, and she didn't have a budget for anything fancy. The inspiration and creativity I felt that day derived from my in-person interaction with my reader.

Of course, it's not always possible to set up a call with a customer, but there are plenty of other options for engaging with readers. For instance, you might consider creating a poll for your social media audience, engaging with readers in a Twitter chat, or sending a survey to your readers in an email newsletter to learn more about what they want from your brand.


Ultimately, it can be difficult to stay creative when your department is primarily focused on using technical SEO to achieve major goals. And, of course, you'd never want to entirely forgo SEO for the sake of creativity, since that prevents you from reaching a larger audience and ensuring your content is useful and actionable for your readers.

Nonetheless, if there's anything I've learned over the past two years as a result of our new strategy, it's that analytics and creativity can, indeed, work hand-in-hand. Ideally, with these six tips, you'll be able to inspire some creativity in your daily process. Feel free to comment below with your own thoughts — I'd love to hear them!

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

* This article was originally published here

Friday, 8 May 2020

A Must-have Keyword Research Process for Winning SEO - Whiteboard Friday

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

Smart keyword research forms the basis of all successful SEO. In today's Whiteboard Friday, Cyrus Shepard shares the basics of a winning keyword research process that you can learn and master in a short amount of time.

Bonus: Be sure not to miss Cyrus's upcoming webinar, Build a Winning Keyword Strategy: Start-to-Finish on May 21, 2020 at 10am PST:

Save my spot

You'll walk through his keyword research process start-to-finish with real keywords, topics, and websites to create a complete keyword research strategy. It's a great follow-up to this Whiteboard Friday!

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to a very special edition of Whiteboard Friday talking about keyword research today. Now keyword research, you know how important it is, and it forms the basis of all successful SEO. People who are good at keyword research and having a good research strategy, that often makes the difference between winning and having an SEO campaign that just goes nowhere. 

I love keyword research because we all have an idea of what we think we want to rank for, right, but when you use keyword research, you can use data to find opportunities and surprises that you didn't even know existed. So I want to dispel a myth about keyword research. A lot of people think it's about finding the right tool, and you enter the keyword into a tool and you get a list.

Technically, that is keyword research, and that's a fine starting point. But it's not so much about the tool. It's about a process. It's about a process of creating a strategy for your entire website and finding those winning keywords that you can rank for and getting traffic from that are relevant to your business. So it's more than just a tool.

It's a process. There are entire guides and webinars about this. But I think we can simplify it. In the next few minutes, I want to show you the basics of a winning keyword research process that I think you can start to master in just a few minutes and get the fundamentals. In fact, I did write a guide about this. We'll talk about it at the end of the video. It's completely available. 

But I want to go over the basics so you can start to get an understanding of the process that will help you win with keyword research. 

1. Seed keywords

So first of all, a concept that you are probably familiar with is the idea of seed keywords. We call them seeds because they help grow your keyword list and expand it. Seed keywords are more important than people think, and I'll tell you why you in just a second.

So many tools will give you seed keywords. But I want to dismiss the idea of thinking in terms of tools for just a second. When researching seed keywords, I propose that you think of it in terms of questions, questions that you want to ask yourself. 

a. What do I want to rank for?

The first is simply, "What do I want to rank for?" In this hypothetical example, our client sells calligraphy pens.

They're like, "Cyrus, I want to rank for calligraphy pens." That's great. That will be your starting point, your first seed keyword. 

b. What do I already rank for?

So a second question you can ask is, "What do I already rank for?" Well, let's say the client has an existing website. They sell some pens. Maybe they do well, maybe they don't.

So we want to dig into the data of what is already sending them traffic, and we can do this with a lot of keyword research tools — Moz, Ahrefs, SEMrush. I prefer Moz, 500 million keywords, it's a great set. But you can use whatever you want. So you want to search keywords by site or keywords by URL. We can enter our client's site and see that, oh, they rank for "pen starter kit."

Their rank is number one. It only receives 10 visits a month, so maybe that's not such a good seed keyword. But "best calligraphy pen," they rank number 8, 500 visits a month. "Calligraphy supplies," 14th, 750 visits a month. Those are excellent seed keywords. So we're going to make note of those and use them a little later in the process.

You can also get this data from Google Search Console, rank and volume. Wherever you get it from, these are what you want to search for great keywords that you already rank for, but maybe not number one, with good search volume. 

c. What do my competitors rank for?

Finally, let's say you don't have an existing website, or you're starting a new project from scratch.

You don't have a lot of existing data. You want to ask, "What do my competitors rank for or the top ranking sites?" So I might Google "calligraphy pens" and see who ranks number one. Pop it into Keyword Explorer and see all their ranking keywords here and start to find the good seed keywords. So I can see that they rank for "calligraphy kit" -- that sounds pretty relevant — 750 visits a month.

"Pen starter," not so much. I'd probably throw that one out. "Learn calligraphy," that's a great seed keyword. I'm going to make note of that, 1,200 visits a month. You can get seed keywords from literally any keyword tool. Some of our favorites, beyond Keyword Explorer: 

Anywhere you want to get your seed keywords, that's where you form the basis of your list. 

2. List building

So next we're going to start building our list. Seed keywords move into list building. So this is where we want to use a robust keyword research tool, such as Moz, Ahrefs, or whatever you want. We're entering our seed keywords "calligraphy pens."

We're going to get a list of keywords, sorted by relevance and volume. Now there are many metrics in keyword research, such as keyword difficulty, click-through rate, importance, things like that. For right now, we only want to be concerned with two metrics — relevance and volume.

You can concern yourself with the other metrics a little later when we're sorting and filtering. But right now, we want to find more seed keywords. That's the key difference here in this process. We're not just finding related keywords. We're finding more seed keywords. We're reiterating. So "calligraphy pen set," highly relevant.

Five means highly relevant. Volume of 100. All right, we're going to mark that. That becomes a new seed. "Calligraphy Amazon," okay, that only has a three relevance score. Unless you're Amazon, that's probably not the most relevant keyword. We're going to cross it off the list.

"Calligraphy fonts." "Calligraphy pens price," well, that's great. "Calligraphy ink," great with high volume. So what we have done now is we have collected more seeds, and we're going to throw those seeds back in and discover even more related keywords, more seeds. In other words, we're going to start building out our list.

That's the process. Not just get a list of related keywords, but you're finding more seeds. When you find more seeds, continually do this, these become new pages of your site or a new entire content section. So we could have a section on calligraphy ink. We could have a page on price. We're going to group these in our spreadsheets together, and every time we find a new seed, it can become a new topic, a new page, a new idea.

The idea is you want to find as many seeds as possible. 

3. Competitor analysis

So when we get these seeds, we're going to reinsert them back, but we're also going to do one final step that a lot of people forget or just don't realize, and that is the competitive analysis. The keyword tool is going to find a lot. Moz Keyword Explorer does a particularly excellent, excellent job of this.

But if you're not using Keyword Explorer, one thing I like to do is I'll take my seed keyword, "calligraphy ink," and I'll put it into Google and I'll see who's ranking in the top 1, 2, 3, 4, or 5 positions. I'll look specifically for sites that specialize in this. I might throw out Amazon or things like that.

But Ink Warehouse, Shop Calligraphy Inks, I'll take this page and I'll put it in Keyword Explorer, keywords by site or URL, and I'll get all the other keywords that this page or site ranks for, because they've undoubtedly tried a lot of content. They know what works, what doesn't work.

I'll find new seeds that way. So I can see that Ink Warehouse ranks for "best calligraphy ink," and that's a good one. "Calligraphy ink set," great new seed keyword. "Calligraphy ink bottle," another great seed keyword. So then, we have new seeds, new pages, new topics. We can take these and start the process again, and we do this over and over and over again until we have a complete set of keywords for every page, every conceivable ranking position, and we can start to build a strategy out from that.

After this, we can start to sort and filter by keyword volume and difficulty and things like that. But that's a process for another time. So I've documented this strategy and so much more in a brand-new keyword research guide, "The Master Guide to Keyword Research." We just released it. It's available free. It covers this topic in depth, and we try to make these concepts as easy as possible to help you win SEO. We're going to link to it below. You can download it and let me know what you think. 

Read the new guide

So I hope you learned something today. If you liked this video, please share it with anybody that you can. It would be a great favor to me. Okay. Until next time, thanks, everybody.

Best of luck with your SEO.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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Thursday, 7 May 2020

Take the COVID-19 Local Search Marketing Business Impact Survey

Posted by MiriamEllis

The poet Burns once observed that the best laid plans “gang aft agley.” At Moz, we were about to publish our State of Local SEO industry report, based on our local search marketing survey to which hundreds of you generously replied. Then the public health emergency unexpectedly arose, and we decided to pause in our planning.

The findings of the survey, as they currently stand, contain valuable and surprising insights which are as relevant today as they were pre-COVID-19. Yet, in order to reflect the substantial changes the local business community is currently weathering, we are reaching out to you with a timely additional request.

If you market local businesses in any capacity, whether in-house or for an agency, please take our quick, supplementary six-question survey. Your answers will help everyone gauge the impacts of the past few weeks on our industry, and hopefully help in planning for the future. We would be so grateful for just a few minutes of your time to be sure the final report reflects the full picture of local business marketing.

Take the Survey Now

Thank you for your time, and please know that all of us at Moz are wishing your local businesses and agencies well!

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* This article was originally published here