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Keyword Analysis Based on Semantic Intent
Friday, June 05, 2015

Keyword Analysis Based on Semantic Intent 

For years I’ve been interested in the idea of Semantic Search. As a user of Search I’ve always been one to type in full questions as part of my search queries.   In fact my first favorite search engine used to be Ask or if we go way back Ask Jeeves.  I’ve always like the concept of directly asking a question and receiving a direct answer.  I’ve often said that ASK was ahead of their time when it came to search.  I remember being at a Search Engine Strategies conference in San Jose  years back and a gentleman by the name of Keith Hogan, who was then the VP of Search at ASK at the time, presented some material on how searchers were becoming more savvy and were typing longer term phrases as part of their search queries.  His data suggested that 8+ word phrases saw the largest increase in volume based on data he shared from ASK.  To me this totally made sense.  People search because they are looking for answers.  The search engines are the mechanism people use online to find their answers.
Case in point,  in the summer of 2013 you have Google releasing Hummingbird with a shift in focus to more of a conversational search based in part on the shifting trend towards mobile search activity. It all makes sense; Search is morphing into an entirely different way to find relevant information.  It is all about convenience and still about relevance… semantic relevance.
I came across this article from Nathan Safran of Blue Nile Research where he discusses some of their recent research that may change the way you conduct keyword research.  This is something that I have been coaching our SEO teams on for a while now as we refine how we conduct truly effective keyword research. 

The Difference between Traditional Keyword Research & Semantic Keyword Research
Historically, traditional keyword research used a combination of looking at a client’s site, their analytics and leveraging tools such as Google Keyword Planner, WordTracker, SEMrush, Ubbersuggest, Soovle etc to compile a list of keywords that the client would optimize for.  Keywords would be placed on the page, in tags and other page elements and regardless of whether you admit to it a certain density formula was used to help optimize a given piece of content for a given key phrase or two, or three… and this process used to work.

However like many optimization tactics, some site owners and marketers abused this tactic and used keyword spamming techniques to try and game their search results.  Google in their ever-long fight against webspam released updates to help combat keyword spam and the manipulation of their search results.  The end result is that traditional keyword research has become less effective
A more modern approach to keyword research is Semantic Keyword Research.  Semantic keyword research still involves components of traditional keyword research, but it takes a deeper dive into intent.  It focuses on semantically relevant topics that are based more on conversation.  As a result the need to become an authority for a given topic that is supported by multiple relevant terms becomes increasingly important.   Semantic keyword research allows us to gain more insight into how people search for a given topic or a certain product or service.

One of the interesting findings from the Blue Nile Research study of Psychology of the Searcher: Patterns in How Searchers Formulate Queries is the idea of fragment queries (2-3 words) vs full queries (4+ words).  The study suggested that there is roughly a 50/50 split in the type of queries that searchers use to find their information.  This goes back to what I mentioned in the findings from ASK earlier in that there is a shifting trend toward longer phrase search queries.  Ultimately this suggests that many users are typing in longer queries in order to get the specific answer that they are looking for.  Perhaps this illustrates the difficulty in a search engine such as Google being able to consistently return the most relevant result.  If you factor in that my semantic map when I search for a “tablet” is much different than what your semantic map is you see just how difficult it is for Google ro provide the most relevant result all of the time.  I may search for “ipad” or “ipad reviews” or “Samsung tablet” or “when is the new iPad coming out?”  Whereas you may be searching for “tablet magazine”, “tablet reviews”, “tablet simulator”, “what is the cheapest tablet out there?” etc.  You can see two distinct searching or semantic patterns.

Semantic Keyword Research means that as marketers you need to leverage a strategy that includes understanding a varied and distinct way that your audience is searching for your brand, product or service.  How many brands are guilty of using their own marketing lingo only to find that the vast majority do not know or care about this jargon?  The Blue Nile Study showed that 27% of searchers phrased their query in the form of a question.  This actually seems low to me as I would expect that the number of question related queries out there is closer to the 40% mark.

The study took it one step further breaking down the distribution of question type.  According to their data, users searched for “how” the most often (38% of all questions) and “what” the least often 11% of questions.  I was surprised to see “Where” in the middle at 15% of question types.  If you think of the trend towards mobile search, searchers are looking for convenient and quick answers, “where is the nearest Tim Horton’s?” as an example.  So I would expect that in the future we may see more searchers using the “where” query more often.  The question of “How” will always be the most asked question type phrase on the Internet simply because people are seeking a solution to their problem/issue.  People have a lot of questions: “How much is the new iPad”, “how do I reprogram my key fob”, “how do I make Greek style potatoes?”, “how much does a chiropractor make?”

Source: Blue Nile Research

It becomes easy to see that understanding semantic intent is
  1. Not easy and
  2. Critical to providing the right content at the right time to your audience.
If you look at some of the innovations form Google in recent years you can see how they have been leading up to better understanding  user search intent .  At the heart of what they do, Google is attempting to return the most relevant result in the quickest manner possible:

Google has made great strides in understanding the intent behind a query.  While still not perfected the “Google A.I.” is taking a closer step into becoming that Star Trek computer that they strive to become.  The need to shift from traditional keyword research is upon us, in fact if you are just now paying attention to things like semantic search and entity search you are a bit behind.  Your keyword selection process should be based around the intent of your audience.  It may mean some extra effort from your part in understanding the search habits of your desired audience.

I’ll leave you with three tips for conducting semantically relevant keyword research:

  1. Understand the intent of your audience.  Here are a couple of great sources for this: 
    • Review your internal site search – what questions are people asking?
    • Use the Search Queries report in Google Search Console (formerly Google Webmaster Tools).  What are some of the top questions being searched for?
  2. Monitor your audience on social media.  This is where you can gain invaluable insight as to topics and terms that your audience is using to engage with your industry, your brand or your products/services.
  3. It’s not just about search volume.  Long-tail keywords which are typically longer in length (such as a question based query) can deliver tremendous value even though they may have less search volume than more generic or branded terms.

Slapping a keyword within your page copy four or five times is simply not going to help your website gain visibility in organic search results.  In some cases you do not even need the keyword to appear on the page to “rank” for it.  Your focus should be on creating relevant themes for your audience and becoming an authority around these themes. 

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posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ 1:31 PM   0 comments
Bright Edge Webinar: SEO and Using Schema
Tuesday, January 27, 2015
Bright Edge Webinar: SEO and Using Schema

High level presentation on how to incorporate schema markup.  Some of the points discussed:

  • you can use schemas for videos, articles, ratings and news
  • use Google Rich Snippet testing tool to check URL and HTML
  • perform a browser test
  • there are schema generators that can help with schema markup otherwise it is a manual process

  • there was a lot of discussion on Bright Edge features that were not entirely specific to schema
  • schema is still being under utilized (it was launched four years ago)
  • review competitors data to see if they are leveraging schema (use Google's schema checker to add the competitor's URL in)
  • you can use the GWT Structured Markup tool
Some of the questions asked included:
Is there a way to auto generate schema? - Work with programmers and create templates.  (Editor's note:  There are schema generators that can be used to assist with schema markup)

What is microdata and JSONLD?
How long does it take for schema to show up in the SERPs?  It depends on how efficient Google crawls your site.  Presenter mentioned as quick as 3 weeks.

Does schema improve your rank?  Schema can help improve your click through rate.  No real knowledge in terms of the impact on rankings.

Can I mark up individual events?  Yes.  Date is important as Google will not show anything from the past.

All in all, really a high level presentation.

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posted by PlanetNim Caretaker @ 10:31 AM   0 comments
4 Predictions for Mobile Marketing and Call Analytics in 2015
Tuesday, December 09, 2014
I attended a webinar on 4 Predictions for Mobile Marketing and Call Analytics in 2015. The presentation was conducted by Digital Marketing Depot. Speakers for this presentation included:

  • John Lee, Managing Partner at Clix Marketing.
  • McKay Allen,Director of Content & Communication at LogMyCalls
  • Jason Wells, CEO at LogMyCalls

McKay Allen was up first and touched on the following:

  • provided an overview of traditional call tracking that is used to:
    • track which ads, campaigns and keywords generate calls
    • track the raw # of phone calls
    • track the referring source
    • track call duration 
  • Conversation Analytics - analyzes phone calls as well as the words and phrases in the call conversation from both sides; as well as tone, volume and rate of speech
  • in 2013, businesses spent $73B to generate phone calls (source: BIA Kelsey)
  • 90% of customer conversations take place on the phone
  • 30B calls will be made to businesses this year from mobile search (according to Google)
  • nearly 70% of mobile searches end up in a phone call
  • callers are 10X more likely to turn into customers than form fills. (source: LogMyCalls 2014)
The gist of his presentation was that calls matter.

Jason Wells was up next to discuss some of the predictions for 2015.
  1. Phone Analytics will go deeper - more efforts will be put into conversation analytics.  Facebook has been analyzing conversations for years, but they are running deeper analytics to serve up relevant ads.  The new frontier of data is what is happening on/in the conversation. Customer are exposing and identifying keywords that they are using during the calls that you can potentially use in your ad campaigns.  At the end of the day, the most important metric is revenue (not leads, not impressions, not form completes, not phone calls), it is all about the revenue that is being generated.
  2. Analytics Meets Automation - you can receive alerts for missed opportunities. You can append lead scores to CRM records.  Create a nurturing campaigns based on the conversion.  Track sales performance and conversion rates.  In 2015, we are going to see "call marketing automation".  From here John Lee communicated the second half of the predictions.
  3. Call Tracking Goes Mainstream - John mentioned that agencies and marketers who are not using call tracking will fall behind.  What are you doing about phone calls that come from your website?
  4. Smartphone Adoption will still drive Mobile Ad Spend & Innovation - consumer adoption is slowing in the US but continues to rise elsewhere.  As smartphone use increases, mobile advertising spend will increase which in turn will further drive digital marketing and call tracking innovation.  Global smartphone penetration will reach 60% by 2019 (Erickson Report).  That translates to approximately 4.2B people with a smartphone.  
So nothing too crazy in terms of these predictions.  Ultimately communicating the importance of call tracking and conversation tracking.  Jim shared a few more tips:
  • track everything
  • drive calls to action to call your business
  • use trackable phone numbers on other marketing channels (business cards, billboards, brochures, email, radio spots, TV spots etc)
  • open up your targeting to include mobile traffic sources
  • create mobile-only ads abd Call Extensions for Google AdWords, GDN and Bing Ads
  • Create mobile-only campaigns in Facebook ads, Twitter Ads - test ideas using call as the only call to action, place phone # in the ad copy, use pictures of people using phones
  • send mobile traffic to mobile friendly/call friendly landing pages
  • test local vs. toll free numbers
Some interesting tips.  There are still a number of marketers who are not using call or conversation tracking as part of their efforts.  With the shift to Mobile, you have to think that call analytics will become even more important to help understand customers and prospects better.  The need to semantically understand he conversation will be key to provide relevant advertising to your potential audience.  There is a monumental shift to real-time content production and consumption.

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posted by Jody @ 10:48 AM   0 comments
The Economic Impact of SEO Media Services - Webinar Review
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Live blogging of this webinar sponsored by Covario on the economic impact of SEO.  The speakers included:

Shar was up first and touched on the following:

  • Shar shared some data from Forrester research speculates that email marketing, social media, display and search marketing will total $100 billion dollars by 2019.
  • we have a 15 year "lookback window" that marketers are using to create their digital budgets
  • marketers are becoming more savvy and know what not to invest in.
  • digital marketing with spend on advertising within two years.
  • search will stay at about 50% of the digital mix and is the biggest piece of the digital marketing toolkit
  • laggards are boosting budgets to catch up
  • we are seeing some veteran search marketers cap their paid budgets
Dean Davison then touched more specifically on SEO

  • he mentioned the recent Total Economic Impact study from Covario completed by Forrester:  www.covario.com/2014/09/forrester-research-highlights-impact-organic-search
  • he discussed how they changed the internal perception of SEO internal executives over a three year period to drive an increase in their return
  • he touched on the benefit of SEO to help avoid the higher cost of alternative channels (in this case from paid and display over to SEO)
  • ultimately in the case study that was referenced, the return from SEO helped reduce costs from other channels.  Some of the SEO initiatives and services that were provided as part of this three year project (which generated a 205% ROI) included:

  • A question was asked as to where the money is coming from for the increases spend on SEO.  Shar chimed in and statd that based on their research and data that it is actually "new money" is coming in for SEO based on the success of that channel
  • A question about attribution was asked:  How are you determining the exact monetary value to SEO over other channels?  A vague response stating that they have some complex tools.  Shar mentioned the shift from last click attribution and move to more advanced measurement strategies.  Some are looking at the amount of savings from paid efforts.
  • Question was asked about how they were able to quantify non-branded performance, with Google no longer sharing this data?  The response was using Google Webmaster Tools query data and looking at page level and URL level metrics.
For me this webinar was just another case study illustrating how effective proper organic search marketing can be as a marketing channel.  A lot of people think that it is smoke and mirrors but really a sound SEO strategy that focuses on the audience and providing the right messaging (content) and the right time in the right media format to the right audience.

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posted by Jody @ 10:48 AM   0 comments
A Conversation on the Future of Digital Advertising
Wednesday, June 04, 2014
Today we are live blogging a couple of webinars around the future of digital advertising courtesy of DoubleClick.  The live stream is Google's annual conversation on trends in digital advertising. Speakers include Jeffrey Katzenberg (Chief Executive Officer of DreamWorks Animation), Nikesh Arora (Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer at Google), and Neal Mohan (Vice President of Display and Video Advertising Products at Google).  The event was broadcast live from Arizona.

Digital Redefined
Neal Mohan, Vice President of Display and Video Advertising Products, Google

Neal is responsible for Google's display and video advertising offerings across desktop, tablet and mobile devices. His efforts focus on growing the overall digital media industry by building innovative media and technology solutions for Google's partners around the world.

Some of the key points that Neil mentioned:

  • he touched on how technology has evolved over the past decade and a half from phones to "smart calculator watches"
  • in the US advertisers have spent more online than offline for the first time ever in the past year
  • mobile is taking over growing at 3X the rate of fixed IP traffic - the notion of going online is going away.  We are always turned on.

  • we have more computing on our bodies that large computers had in the past
  • video is the performed form of content consumption - video has entered the fourth dimension
  • there are more 18-34 years olds on YouTube which is more than on cable TV
  • digital is a must-have channel for brand advertising
  • 500 years of video are added over the course of the month
  • consumers are moving all of their attention online
  • Google announced the release of "Partner Select"
  • also announced some updates to the DoubleClick program to reservation type environments to be more "progromattic"
  • digital is easy to measure; but does not work for brand advertisers.  A measurement revolution is required.  Real-time information is needed.  "Did a real person actually see my ad?"  "Did the right person see my ad?"
  • Google has been running numerous brand lift studies - there is a strong correlation between brand mention and brand lift.
  • the online ecosystem is much more beautiful

The Future of Advertising
Nikesh Arora, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer, Google

Nikesh oversees revenue and customer operations for Google, as well as marketing and partnerships. He developed Google's operations in the European, Middle Eastern and African markets and created partnerships in those regions for the benefit of Google's growing number of users and advertisers.

Some of the key points from Nikesh included:
  • wanted to discuss where are we going to be in the future.  Technology has changed dramatically but where do we go from here?
  • technology has been created in silos.  He touched on the idea of harnessing all of the computer connectivity and using this data collectively
  • what is going to go away?  Which devices will be able to talk with each other?
  • a lot of data will continue to be created.  There is a need for constant connectivity.
  • it's all about instant gratification - consumers want to be and are in control
  • there is a supply and demand problem with ad inventory - there is a lot of data about the consumer.  
  • creating a full internet driven experience from an advertising perspective.  It hasn't been built yet.
  • we should be looking towards a platform that can target the right audience at the right time with the right message.  Publishers need to be part of the system so that the user can have a "beautiful experience"
  • it will be easy to buy impressions but who will ensure that this is the right message to the right audience at the right time.
Fireside Chat with Jeffrey Katzenberg
Jeffrey Katzenberg, Chief Executive Officer and Co-Founder and Director, DreamWorks Animation

Nikesh Arora, Senior Vice President and Chief Business Officer, Google

Jeffrey co-founded DreamWorks SKG alongside Steven Spielberg and David Geffen. Under Jeffrey's leadership, DreamWorks Animation has become the largest animation studio in the world and has released 28 animated feature films. Prior to co-founding DreamWorks, Jeffrey served as Chairman of The Walt Disney Studios.

Mr. Katzenberg added some great insight as well:

  • he spoke about how he got to where he is now by having great mentors
  • he spoke about how in the mid-90's (1994) Disney had the top movie (Lion King), top soundtrack, top book, top TV show etc... and then Jefferey got fired.  A following partnership formed the foundation of Dream Works as a result.  Collaboration was the key.
  • there are 500 million active files on an animated movie at one time --> 1 million digital files per second
  • he spoke about how animation changed from 2-D animation to the CGI animation that we all get to experience today
  • turning legacy enterprise into new opportunity is one of the hardest things in the world to go through
  • spoke of how YouTube has become one of the most powerful platforms on the planet
  • he discussed YouTube Nation which was launched by Disney to sort through the infinite amount of video content to find "viral tidbits".  60-90 minutes of curated content per day which acts as a "lighthouse" to all things that are great on YouTube.  The channel has over 25 million views and was only recently launched a few months back.
  • traditional linear channel will not go away but people engage with them differently based on their generation
  • there is an ability to consume content when you want and where you want it
  • short form content is an opportunity and a growing place where the audience will continue to grow.  This is easily consumed via mobile or tablet.
  • mobile is where the audience is today and where it will continue to be
  • branded content with integrated advertising provides a huge opportunity
  • Buzzfeed, Upworthy, and Awesomeness TV are doing it right.  This is where the future is.
  • Advertisers have to be exceptional if they continue to do traditional linear advertising (used the SuperBowl as an example)
  • the audience engages with short form, mobile content differently.  Storytelling because a key factor to tap into consumer engagement
Some interesting thoughts on the future of digital and content.  Here some additional stats that were part of the presentation.

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posted by Jody @ 9:06 AM   0 comments
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