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Posted by AndrewDennis33There’s gold in them thar SERPs…gold I tell ya!
Now, whether that phrase takes you back to a simpler (maybe? I don’t know, I was born in the 80s) time of gold panning, Mark Twain, and metallurgical assay — or just makes you want some Velveeta shells and liquid gold (I also might be hungry) — the point is, there is a lot you can learn from analyzing search results.
Search engine results pages (SERPs) are the mountains we’re trying to climb as SEOs to reach the peak (number one position). But these mountains aren’t just for climbing — there are numerous “nuggets” of information to be mined from the SERPs that can help us on our journey to the mountaintop.
Earning page one rankings is difficult — to build optimized pages that can rank, you need comprehensive SEO strategy that includes:
Content auditsKeyword researchCompetitive analysisTechnical SEO auditsProjections and forecastingNiche and audience researchContent ideation and creationKnowledge and an understanding of your (or your client’s) website’s history And more.
A ton of work and research goes into successful SEO.
Fortunately, much of this information can be gleaned from the SERPs you’re targeting, that will in turn inform your strategy and help you make better decisions.
The three main areas of research that SERP analysis can benefit are:
Keyword researchContent creationAnd competitive analysis.
So, get your pickaxe handy (or maybe just a notebook?) because we’re going to learn how to mine the SERPs for SEO gold!
Finding keyword research nuggets
Any sound SEO strategy is built on sound keyword research. Without keyword research, you’re just blindly creating pages and hoping Google ranks them. While we don’t fully understand or know every signal in Google’s search algorithm — I’m pretty confident your “hopes” aren’t one of them — you need keyword research to understand the opportunities as they exist.
And you can find some big nuggets of information right in the search results!
First off, SERP analysis will help you understand the intent (or at least the perceived intent by Google) behind your target keywords or phrases. Do you see product pages or informational content? Are there comparison or listicle type pages? Is there a variety of pages serving multiple potential intents? For example:
Examining these pages will tell you which page — either on your site or yet to be created — would be a good fit. For example, if the results are long-form guides, you’re not going to be able to make your product page rank there (unless of course the SERP serves multiple intents, including transactional). You should analyze search intent before you start optimizing for keywords, and there’s no better resource for gauging searcher intent than the search results themselves.
You can also learn a lot about the potential traffic you could receive from ranking in a given SERP by reviewing its makeup and the potential for clicks.
Of course, we all want to rank in position number one (and sometimes, position zero) as conventional wisdom points to this being our best chance to earn that valuable click-through. And, a recent study by SISTRIX confirmed as much, reporting that position one has an average click-through rate (CTR) of 28.5% — which is fairly larger than positions two (15.7%) and three (11%).
But the most interesting statistics within the study were regarding how SERP layout can impact CTR.
Some highlights from the study include:
SERPs that include sitelinks have a 12.7% increase in CTR, above average.Position one in a SERP with a featured snippet has a 5.2% lower CTR than average.Position one in SERPs that feature a knowledge panel see an 11.8% dip in CTR, below average.SERPs with Google Shopping ads have the worst CTR: 14.8% below average.
SISTRIX found that overall, the more SERP elements present, the lower the CTR for the top organic position.
This is valuable information to discover during keyword research, particularly if you’re searching for opportunities that might bring organic traffic relatively quickly. For these opportunities, you’ll want to research less competitive keywords and phrases, as the SISTRIX report suggests that these long-tail terms have a larger proportion of “purely organic SERPs (e.g. ten blue links).
To see this in action, let’s compare two SERPs: “gold panning equipment” and “can I use a sluice box in California?”.
Here is the top of the SERP for “gold panning equipment”:
And here is the top of the SERP for “can I use a sluice box in California?”:
Based on what we know now, we can quickly assess that our potential CTR for “can I use a sluice box in California?” will be higher. Although featured snippets lower CTR for other results, there is the possibility to rank in the snippet, and the “gold panning equipment” SERP features shopping ads which have the most negative impact (-14.8%) on CTR.
Of course, CTR isn’t the only determining factor in how much traffic you’d potentially receive from ranking, as search volume also plays a role. Our example “can I use a sluice box in California?” has little to no search volume, so while the opportunity for click-throughs is high, there aren’t many searching this term and ranking wouldn’t bring much organic traffic — but if you’re a business that sells sluice boxes in California, this is absolutely a SERP where you should rank.
Keyword research sets the stage for any SEO campaign, and by mining existing SERPs, you can gain information that will guide the execution of your research.
Mining content creation nuggets
Of course, keyword research is only useful if you leverage it to create the right content. Fortunately, we can find big, glittering nuggets of content creation gold in the SERPs, too!
One the main bits of information from examining SERPs is which types of content are ranking — and since you want to rank there, too, this information is useful for your own page creation.
For example, if the SERP has a featured snippet, you know that Google wants to answer the query in a quick, succinct manner for searchers — do this on your page. Video results appearing on the SERP? You should probably include a video on your page if you want to rank there too. Image carousel at the top? Consider what images might be associated with your page and how they would be displayed.
You can also review the ranking pages to gain insight into what formats are performing well in that SERP. Are the ranking pages mostly guides? Comparison posts? FAQs or forums? News articles or interviews? Infographics? If you can identify a trend in format, you’ve already got a good idea of how you should structure (or re-structure) your page.
Some SERPs may serve multiple intents and display a mixture of the above types of pages. In these instances, consider which intent you want your page to serve and focus on the ranking page that serves that intent to glean content creation ideas.
Furthermore, you can leverage the SERP for topic ideation — starting with the People Also Ask (PAA) box. You should already have your primary topic (the main keyword you’re targeting), but the PAA can provide insight into related topics.
Here’s an example of a SERP for “modern gold mining techniques”:
Right there in the PAA box, I’ve got three solid ideas for sub-topics or sections of my page on “Modern Gold Mining”. These PAA boxes expand, too, and provide more potential sub-topics.
While thorough keyword research should uncover most long-tail keywords and phrases related to your target keyword, reviewing the People Also Ask box will ensure you haven’t missed anything.
Of course, understanding what types of formats, structures, topics, etc. perform well in a given SERP only gets you part of the way there. You still need to create something that is better than the pages currently ranking. And this brings us to the third type of wisdom nuggets you can mine from the SERPs — competitive analysis gold.
Extracting competitive analysis nuggets
With an understanding of the keywords and content types associated with your target SERP, you’re well on your way to staking your claim on the first page. Now it’s time to analyze the competition.
A quick glance at the SERP will quickly give you an idea of competition level and potential keyword difficulty. Look at the domains you see — are there recognizable brands? As a small or new e-commerce site, you can quickly toss out any keywords that have SERPs littered with pages from Amazon, eBay, and Wal-Mart. Conversely, if you see your direct competitors ranking and no large brands, you’ve likely found a good keyword set to target. Of course, you may come across SERPs that have major brands ranking along with your competitor — if your competitor is ranking there, it means you have a shot, too!
But this is just the surface SERP silt (say that five times fast). You need to mine a bit deeper to reach the big, golden competitive nuggets.
The next step is to click through to the pages and analyze them based on a variety of factors, including (in no particular order):
Page speedVisual aestheticsTimeliness and recencyReadability and structureAmount and quality of citationsDepth of coverage of related topicHow well the page matches search intent
If the page is lacking in any, many, or all these areas, there is a strong opportunity your page can become the better result, and rank.
You should also review how many backlinks ranking pages have, to get an idea for the range of links you need to reach to be competitive. In addition, review the number of referring domains for each ranking domain — while you’re competing on a page-to-page level in the SERP, there’s no doubt that pages on more authoritative domains will benefit from that authority.
However, if you find a page that’s ranking from a relatively unknown or new site, and it has a substantial amount of backlinks, that’s likely why it’s ranking, and earning a similar amount of links will give your page a good chance to rank as well.
Lastly, take the time to dive into your competitor’s ranking pages (if they’re there). Examine their messaging and study how they’re talking to your shared audience to identify areas where your copy is suboptimal or completely missing the mark. Remember, these pages are ranking on page one, so they must be resonating in some way.
Successful SEO requires thorough research and analysis from a variety of sources. However, much of what you need can be found in the very SERPs for which you’re trying to rank. After all, you need to understand why the pages that rank are performing if you want your pages to appear there, too.
These SERPs are full of helpful takeaways in terms of:
Keyword research and analysisContent ideation and strategyAnd competitive analysis and review.
These golden nuggets are just there for the takin’ and you don’t need any tools other than Google and your analytical mind — well, and your metaphorical pickaxe.
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Michael Kassan, the founder, chairman and CEO of Medialink is both an industry fixture and fixer — as well as connector and confidant to top executives. Today, he shares his thoughts about how brands and agencies can plan for success. Here are the top three actions he recommends:
1. Get out of crisis mode and into strategic planning mode. “Get out of ‘how do I plan for the short-term’ thinking. Look at 'what are the right business moves given the future of work‘ and ‘how we are going to conduct business moving forward‘ —but do it without the blinders of ‘we’re in a pandemic.’ We have to turn the page. This is the book we are reading now. It‘s just level-setting your decision making and taking yourself out of crisis mode and into strategic planning mode.”
2. Recognize that ‘nice-to-do’s’ might be more important than you think. Be thoughtful about the cuts and the reductions. Those things that you think ‘well, we don‘t need that’, don't be so quick. We all have those two piles of paper on our desk: the nice-to-do’s and the need-to-do’s. Make sure you‘re mixing those two piles in the right way because some of those nice-to-do’s become much more important if you don‘t pay attention to them. You may need to re-order your priorities.
3. Agencies: reestablish your value proposition. If I‘m an agency, I‘m paying more attention than ever to the fact that I need to reanimate and reaffirm my value proposition. With more and more direct client interaction happening with sellers, the agency becomes less relevant. Make sure you‘re cognizant of not just getting kudos ‘like great job’, but that you‘re providing good strategic, sound advice that people can rely on. Technology has lessened the importance of the tactics and increased the importance of the strategy. Tech tactics alone, not driven by strategy, are not interesting to me.
Bonus insight: create your own heat map. There has to be less defense and more offense. Find the opportunities within the chaos. It can be about controlling your own data or the move to hybrid versions of in-housing.
We still don‘t have cross platform measurement so that‘s another area… [then there’s] the inextricable link between content distribution and marketing messages. You’re going to have to figure out how to play in streaming video if you’re a marketer. And there’s e-commerce. Nobody is surprised it’s more a part of our lives. Everybody is surprised that it happened in five months as opposed to five years. You have to ask yourself: ‘where are the hot zones where can I affect change?’ That's how you find opportunity within the chaos. You create your own heat map.
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Security services in seven allied countries want to be able to hack into digital products that protect their user’s privacy through end-to-end encryption.
For an API to be maintainable and usable there should be consistency in the way responses are sent to the clients. This article talks about ProblemDetails, open source ASP.NET Core middleware from Kristian Hellang that can be used to generate detailed results for the exceptions that occur in your application.To work with the code examples provided in this article, you should have Visual Studio 2019 installed in your system. If you don’t already have a copy, you can download Visual Studio 2019 here. [ Also on InfoWorld: Rapid UI development with Flutter for Windows ]
Create an ASP.NET Core MVC project in Visual Studio 2019
First off, let’s create an ASP.NET Core project in Visual Studio 2019. Assuming Visual Studio 2019 is installed in your system, follow the steps outlined below to create a new ASP.NET Core project in Visual Studio.To read this article in full, please click here
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