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The Clef plugin made logging into WordPress easy and more secure thanks to two-factor authentication. But it was recently announced that Clef is sunsetting and now users need to find an alternative. So what the fudge are we supposed to do now? Two-factor authentication for logging into WordPress meant you didn’t have to fumble trying to […]
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Here we come again with our list of this week’s best articles on digital marketing that we found across the Internet. These have been categorized into content marketing, social media, search…
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Technical search engine optimization is all about describing the efforts of webmasters where they ensures that their website is compatible with the latest set of search engine guidelines. The…
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With the advent of machine learning and artificial intelligence, the future of human jobs is now in question. Some say only a few occupations will be lost due to technology, while others say nearly half will be replaced by robots. There are reports of artificial intelligence already replacing human workers.
Famous futurist Elon Musk said artificial intelligence will eventually replace most jobs and that to stay relevant, humans must merge with machines in this AI age.
Given that artificial intelligence is the future, when will it take over SEO?
This #SEJSurveySays poll question was a contested one. Check out what our Search Engine Journal Twitter community had to say.
According to a survey sent out to Search Engine Journal’s Twitter audience, 28% say AI will never take over SEO, 55% predict AI will take over SEO within 10 years, and 17% say in 11-20 years.
We may be unsure when exactly artificial intelligence will dominate SEO, or if it will ever completely take over search. But one thing’s for sure: Artificial intelligence is here to stay. Once we accept that fact, we can better prepare for AI and factor it in our SEO efforts.
More Insights on Artificial Intelligence and the Future of SEO
Looking to gain more understanding of how artificial intelligence will affect the future of SEO? Check out this list of articles from our SEJ contributors for insight:
Have Your Say
When do you predict AI will take over SEO? Tag us on social media and have your say in the next survey by checking out the hashtag #SEJSurveySays on Twitter for future polls and data.
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Want to ask Jenny an SEO question? Fill out our form!
Time for more great #AskanSEO questions!
Why does Google show a different number of pages indexed in two places in the search console and another different number when I search with the site: command?
There’s actually a good reason for this. First, let’s take the “Index Status” part of Search Console.
The “Total Indexed” shown here is a bit easier to understand if you open up the “Advanced” option as I have done below. What you can see is that pages blocked by robots or removed are not shown in the total indexed value.
By contrast, when you do a site: search, that value isn’t the total pages indexed but the total pages Google knows about. That’s why sometimes you see this:
Now let’s take a look at the other part of Search Console that shows indexed pages — the Sitemaps section:
That “indexed” value is not the total number of pages indexed, it’s the pages from your sitemap that Google has chosen to index. You want that difference to be as low as possible, but understand that it’s not going to be 100% most of the time. Not all of your pages are important to Google.
And then as I mentioned above, the site: search is going to consist of every page Google cares about with regard to your site. You’ll find lots of pages here that are redirected, blocked by robots.txt, or sometimes even 404 or 410 status. This has never been a reliable tool for knowing what pages are indexed, and Google’s Gary Illyes even said recently that you shouldn’t use it for that purpose.
I find it to be an invaluable tool when auditing a website though, as it can be a goldmine of old pages with broken redirects and other similar problems.
Why does the Fetch and Render tool from Google search console show a green check mark and “Partial” sometimes? Why is this different from Fetch, which shows “Complete”?
Typically the “fetch” command can be executed without any issues, as it’s just a GET command to get the code of the page. If Google is unable to fetch a page, that generally indicates that it is blocked in some way.
The “fetch and render” command is an attempt to actually render all of the items on the page. If there are certain items that are blocked, Google will reply with a “partial” message and a list of the things that were blocked.
If these blocked items are not necessary to render the page (such as third-party scripts), then there’s no problem. If the render comes back and actually looks incomplete or incorrect, that’s an indication you may have a problem.
I have lots of products in categories and in subcategories. For each, I display 25 products, and then provide a “Load More” button to load the rest of the products. Is it ok to have the same products showing in the main category and the subcategories? Example: /clothes, /clothes/mens is a subcategory, and /clothes/mens/jeans is a sub-sub category.
Yes, it is okay to have products in multiple categories and subcategories. To help Google understand where they fit, it is best to use rel commands on those “Load More” buttons so Google understands these are additional “pages” of products that are a part of the whole. Read up on rel next/prev commands for more detail on how to implement this.
Is there a way to link directly to a business’ G+ page instead of Google’s search results?
Yes, this is quite simple. Navigate to their G+ page and copy the URL. It will be something like this:
http://ift.tt/2mVeZzs, or if they have taken advantage of the custom URL feature, it may look like this: http://ift.tt/2nmaf1o
Then just link to that page directly.
That’s it for now! Come back soon for another installment of #AskanSEO.
Want to ask Jenny an SEO question?
Featured Image: Image by Paulo Bobita
In-post Images: Screenshots by author. Taken March 2017.
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Twitter is making big changes to tweet replies.
Whenever you reply to an individual or a group of Twitter users, you’ll have more characters to work with. All 140 in fact. The user names of those people won’t subtract from your tweet’s 140 character count, the company has announced.
In addition to reducing constraints on tweet character limits for conversations, Twitter is changing the appearance of replies.
“When reading a conversation, you’ll actually see what people are saying, rather than seeing lots of @usernames at the start of a Tweet,” Twitter said in a blog post.
That means instead of showing a user name at the start of tweets that are replies, you’ll see a line “Replying to @username” appearing below the account handle and above the actual tweet.
Here’s an example, where Search Engine Journal’s Executive Editor Kelsey Jones replied to @WTFSEO on Twitter:
Additionally, whenever you tap on the reply button to tweet your replies, Twitter will let you manage which accounts you reply to in that conversation.
For example, if you hit reply to join an ongoing tweet conversation involving three people, you could only reply to one or two of those people if you wanted, or all three. Simply make sure their name has a green check mark next to it.
Twitter said these changes, which are rolling out now to the Twitter site and its apps for iOS and Android, are based on feedback and research. When testing out these changes, Twitter observed higher engagement for conversations.
Image Credit: Twitter
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The digital marketing conference scene has changed a lot in the last decade. In 2007 most search marketers were looking at SES and it was the first year we saw an SMX. In 2017 everything is different. As you can see on our events list, there is a lot more to choose.
Having more events is a good thing. It gives the audience choice. They are able to better choose who they want to see and when and where they want to go. At the same time, an event is a great marketing tool for any business. It shows thought leadership, it shows your brand and it gets you a lot of goodwill.
But what does it take to run a conference? It’s not easy!
We asked Craig Rayner, Director of Search Elite and Jo Turnbull, Moderator at Search Elite and Organiser of Search London. They gave us input on this article. Together we found out what it takes to run a successful conference in 2017.
No conference without an audience. That’s what makes or breaks the success. If you have nobody there, it will only hurt your brand. But where do you get the audience?
Finding an audience can seem to be one of the most logical aspects when running a conference. As an organiser, you know what the event will look like. You understand all the benefits for the attendees and why it will be such a great spend of their time and money. Why wouldn’t they come? It’s a perfect fit, everyone walks away happy and it’s a win-win situation.
“If only it were that easy!” says Craig Rayner. “The attendees need to buy into your vision, take time out of work and invest. The audience is out there by the droves but the digital landscape is noisy. You have to cut through the noise and hand hold the potential audience to make them feel warm about the commitment they are about to make. It’s a relationship, which needs trust that their investment is more than worthwhile.”
There are many conferences. Too many copy and paste, offering little to no new knowledge. Recently some larger established events have ceased. It came as no surprise; they charged a fortune and benefited only the organisers. Why would sponsors and attendees invest in something diluted, repeated and a waste of time?
Craig continues: “However annoying that is to those of us who care about the sponsors and attendees alike and want to offer something relevant/important to our digital futures. Alas, some attendees have become tired and jaded of the same old stuff. Why would you invest time and money in something that left you feeling ripped off with nothing new learned? These people need to be re-engaged and brought back to the thriving and beneficial event scene. “
Jo Turnbull acknowledges how difficult finding an audience is:
“Finding an audience who want to come to your event can be difficult. There are many events taking place in London. But, people always want to learn. Especially in our industry, where there are so many updates going on (especially with Google). People want to keep up with the news and how to put in place these updates in their business. It is thus very important that there are actionable tips. Takeaways people can put in place straight away. People are tired of theory and presenters talking about things that should be implemented but not going into detail on the “how to”.”
It’s about understanding your audience
Like with almost all things in marketing, it’s about understanding your audience. Knowing who you are targeting. What you need to do is get to know your audience before you even start organising anything.
Why do people go to conferences? In a nutshell: to learn more. To be better at what they do. To hear from the best in the business about how they do things. And to meet like-minded people and make new connections. If you are to spend a workday at a conference you or your employer want to benefit from the experience!
To find your audience, you need to speak their language. Empathise with their pain points and show why they need to be at your event.
Craig says: “Our events are highly focused and the programmes are to-the-point and fluff free. But the environment is warm, happy and fun. No frills and no fills, just great speakers on hand all day and a few beers and networking at the end. We know where the audience work so we simply make sure they are fully aware why they should take a day out and meet some fellow fantastic people. Keep it simple.”
Things to remember on your audience:
- Know where they come from
- Understand which topics are interesting for them
- Understand what brings them to a conference
- Give them what they want
Like with the audience, without speakers, there is no conference. And more important: if you have the wrong speakers, your audience won’t like the conference. They won’t even buy a ticket. Speakers are the ‘artists’ that will sell tickets. If you’ve always wanted to see Rand Fishkin or Dave Naylor speak, for example, you will find an event that hosts them.
Plus, speakers determine the topics of the conference. They are the experts. They bring to the table what the audience wants and needs to learn. So for many reasons, you have to think about who you are inviting to speak.
And that’s where it starts. Thinking about who to invite. You want a mix of speakers. You don’t want the same line up as another conference a few weeks earlier. You also don’t want all ‘new’ speakers. And at the same time, you want the right names to show up (and sell your tickets).
It starts with making a list of topics. After that, you add names to the topic. Who are the experts on a topic? Which speaker can explain this in the right way? And which speaker will be able to ‘attract’ the biggest crowd?
Craig Rayner has his own way of finding speakers: “Finding speakers is a constantly evolving part of conference organising. You keep in with all the best minds and people and ask those leaders for referrals. My line to a speaker is often ‘so if you were an attendee who would you want to see on stage?’. It works. Again, keep it simple.”
Jo explains that it gets easier, the longer your conference exists: “The Search Industry has many great speakers and those willing to share what they have learnt. When I first started running Search London, we were new to the market so it was harder to find speakers. As we have grown, speakers who have attended ask to come and speak at the next event. Search is a small industry and it is also a place where people are keen to share information and news. When running a new conference, those who I have been in touch with before or who I have met at other events, I can ask to get involved.”
There is one important thing to remember when looking for speakers. Some speakers might not sell you the tickets now, they will sell them next year. Meaning that great speakers are important before the conference. Because they do a great job, the audience will be happy and buzzing. They will then come back and tell others to go as well.
Things to remember on your speakers:
- Don’t ask the same speakers all the time
- Know who sells tickets
- Know who will give your audience the right feeling
Where to host the event? This, of course, is a matter of taste, preference, and of course, budget. We can’t all afford to rent out the O2 Arena. Which brings me to another point: it has to fit the audience. And at the same time not be too big.
Having a big venue might sound interesting, if it doesn’t fill up, it will backfire. Don’t try and get a room for a 1,000 people, when all you are targeting is a few hundred. The room will feel empty. Better take a smaller venue than a bigger one.
Craig Rayner acknowledges this: “For our conferences, under 100 attendees is the optimum quantity. This brings together a good split from both sides of the industry where everyone feels comfortable and has a good chance to meet many fellow attendees and all the speakers/leaders. Therefore we find a venue to accommodate usually in an area associated with digital talents like Old Street / Shoreditch / Farringdon in London or in Manchester or Leeds.
Finding a venue is dependant on how many attendees you want to be under one roof at the same time. We are a million miles away from those events in soulless, massive exhibition halls, full of students because it’s a free event, with row upon row of exhibition stands for pointless card swapping. Our ethos is simple. If you are running a workshop, how many people does the host wish to teach? Maybe 6, maybe 12 but usually not much more. Thereafter we find the right space to fit the event. “
For Jo, they need a simpler venue, since the event is a lot smaller: “With my experience of running the meetup group, Search London, there are many places in London that can cater for under 80 people. Many of the venues available for this number are pubs and are free in the evening for hire. You need the time to have researched venues. Visiting some so you know the layout and then ensuring they are available on the date of your event.”
If you hire a venue of a Monday/Tuesday, the prices are very competitive. When you want to have a day time event or an evening event later on in the week, the venues become very expensive. It can be difficult to find a venue at a competitive price to cater for a larger number of attendees.
Things to remember on your venue:
- Make it fit the style of your conference
- Find a place people can get to easy
- Don’t go too big
- Look at the ‘feel’ of the venue: will people feel happy there?
Organising a conference is hard!
To conclude. There’s something you should realise: running a conference is hard work. It’s not easy selling tickets. It’s not easy finding the right audience, speakers or venue. And during the days before and the actual event, you will be full of stress. Because you don’t want anything to go wrong.
What is most challenging?
According to Craig, it is the audience and sponsors: “The most challenging things when organising a conference are getting the buy-in from attendees and sponsors/partners. Making sure they fully understand why this event is perfect for them and how they will benefit from being part of it. “
Jo focuses on speakers and venue: “It is always hard to get the venue, commitment from the speakers and interest aligned at the beginning when you have first decided to run an event.
Confidence is key as well as ensuring the event brings value from when you first announce it. Therefore it is important you are in touch with the speakers and the venue at the same time and you can then plan the day accordingly. If you have the venue but all your speakers are busy then that does not work. The same is true if you have the venue but no one is available to present. In this industry, there are many different events taking place throughout the year, so it is important to check the calendar and make sure you are not running your conference the same time as some of the bigger events. I have changed the date of some of my past events due to conflicting conference schedules in London.”
Is it worth it?
If it’s that hard work, is it worth organising a conference? You bet. Not only for the above-mentioned marketing reasons. But also for networking. For learning yourself, as well as your staff. And for the experience. It might be stressful, but bringing a conference to a good end is priceless. And then we haven’t even discussed the money and sponsors ;-).
Let us know, would you like to organise a conference?
Get your tickets to the SearchElite conference right here and see how it is done!
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Even if you know — deep down in your heart of hearts — how important SEO is, it’s hard to prioritize when you have less than 3 hours a month to devote to it. But there’s still a way to include the bare minimum, even if you run on a tight schedule. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand covers a minimum viable SEO strategy to give those with limited time a plan going forward.
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Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week, Minimum Viable SEO. So if you only have a few minutes in a month, in a week to do some SEO, and I know many of you are professional SEOs, but you work with lots of folks, like content creators, clients, web developers, who have very, very limited time, what I want to try and do is provide a path for you of "do this if you have no other time in the week to do your SEO."
So let’s say here’s my calendar. It’s February, so 28 days. Start of the month, you have an hour to give me, sometime in the first week of the month. It doesn’t have to be, but that’s a great way to go. At the start of each week, I’m going to ask for 10 minutes just to do a little bit of planning, and then each time you publish content, a very, very small amount of time, just 3 minutes.
I know it sounds hard to believe, but you can get a fair amount of solid SEO work. Especially if you’re in an industry that is not hyper-competitive or if you’re going after the right kinds of keywords, that aren’t super competitive, you can really make a difference. If you’re building up a lot of content over months and years, just following this simple protocol can really take your SEO to the next level.
Start of the month: 1 hour
So, all right, let’s say we’re at the start of our month. We have our hour. I want you to do one of two things, and this is going to be based on if you’re technical SEO, meaning if your website is using WordPress and it’s pretty much nicely crawlable, maybe you’ve signed up for Google Search Console, you don’t see a lot of errors, there’s not a lot of issues, you haven’t created a bunch of technical data on your website in the past, great, fine, then you’re going to be focused on keywords and content. A keyword to content map, which is something we’ve discussed here on Whiteboard Friday — I’d urge you to check that video out if you haven’t yet — but I’m going to make an MVP version, a very, very small version that can help a little bit.
Keyword → content map MVP
Create a spreadsheet with valuable keywords…
That spreadsheet, I just want a spreadsheet with a few things in it, three things really. The most valuable keywords, so just the most valuable keywords that you know you’re targeting or that you care about right now for your business. You think that people are searching for these keywords. Maybe you’ve done a little bit of keyword research. It could be for free, through Google’s AdWords tool, or you could pay for something like Keyword Explorer for Moz, but, really, just 50 to 100 keywords in there.
…current rank and SERP features…
I want the current rank and whatever SERP features appear. You could even trim this down to just your current ranking and the top search SERP feature, so if it has a featured snippet, or if it has videos, or if it shows maps or news, whatever that is, tweets.
…and the URL targeting it (or a note to create content).
Then I want the URL that’s targeting it. Or if you have no URL targeting it yet, you haven’t yet created a piece of content that targets this keyword, put a little, "Okay, that’s a ‘needs to be created.’ I need this before I can start targeting this keyword and trying to rank for it."
You’re going to update this weekly. You can do that totally manually. Fifty keywords, you can look them up in an hour. You can check the rankings. You can see where you’re going. That’s fine. It’s a little bit of a pain in the butt, but it can totally be done. Or you could use a tool, Moz Pro, Ahrefs, SEMRush, Searchmetrics. There are all sorts of tools out there that’ll track rankings and show you which features appear and whether your URLs are in there or not.
Okay, this is our keyword to content map. If you have that hour, but you know you have technical issues on the site, I’m going to urge you, before you focus on keywords and content, to make sure your technical SEO, your crawl is set. That means, step one, just a basic, simple crawl analysis. So for free, you can use Google Search Console. It will show you, most of the time with relative accuracy, big important errors like 404s and 500s and things that Google thought we’re duplicate content and that kind of stuff.
If you want to pay, you can get a little bit more advanced features and some better filters and sorting and more frequency and those kinds of things. Moz Pro is fine for that. Screaming Frog is good, OnPage.org. All of these are popular in the SEO field.
Crawl/technical SEO review
Step two, you don’t need to worry about every single crawl issue. I just want you to worry about the most severe, most important ones with your one hour. Those are things like 404s and 500s, which can really cause a lot of problems, duplicate content, where you potentially need to use a rel=canonical or a 301 redirect, broken links, where you just go in and fix the broken link to something that’s not broken, missing or bad titles, title elements that are particularly long or include misspellings or that just don’t exist, bad, very bad to have a page on the web with no title, and thin content or no crawlable content. Those are really the worst of the bunch. There’s a number more that you could take care of. But if you only have that limited time, take care of this. If you’ve already done this, then we can move on here.
Every time you publish a piece of content: 3 minutes
Finally, last thing, but not the least, every time you publish a piece of content, I’m going to ask for just three minutes of your time, and that is going to be around this minimum viable pre-publish checklist.
The minimum viable pre-publish checklist
So does the content have a keyword target? Yes, no, maybe? If it doesn’t, you’re going to need to go and refer over to your keyword content list and make sure that it does. So if you’re publishing something, I’m assuming you’re not publishing a tremendous amount of content, but a little bit. Make sure everyone has a keyword target. Make sure, if you can, that it’s targeting two to three additional keywords, related keywords. So let’s say I’m going after something like Faberge eggs. I probably also want to target Carl Faberge, or I want to target Faberge eggs museums, or I want to target Faberge eggs replicas, so these other terms and phrases that people are likely searching for that could have the same or similar keyword intent, that could live on the same page, that kind of thing.
Is that keyword in the title, the main one you’re targeting? Do you have a compelling meta description? Is your content doing a good job of truly answering the searchers’ queries? So if they’ve searched for this thing, are you serving up the content they need?
Then, have you used related topics? You can get those from places like the MozBar or MarketMuse or SEO Zone or Moz Pro. Related topics are essentially the words and phrases that you should also be using in addition to your keyword to indicate to the search engines, "Hey, this is really about this topic." We’ve seen some nice bumps from that.
You’re doing this every time you publish content. It only takes three minutes.
Start of the week: 10 minutes
And the last thing, at the start of the week, I’m also asking you for these 10 minutes to do one or two actions. I just want you to plan one or two actions at the start of the week to bump your SEO. It could include some publication stuff. But let’s assume you’re just doing these three minutes every time you do that.
Take a few actions to boost your SEO
Link outreach and targeting keywords with content
At the start of the week, the last thing you’re doing is just choosing one of these, maybe two. I don’t need more. I want you to do something like link outreach. Reach out to a couple of high-potential targets. Maybe you use like a LinkedIn or SecTool to figure out people who are linking to two of your competitors. Or reach out to partners, to friends, do some content contributions, just a little thing to get one or two links. Or maybe create some content that’s targeting a missed keyword. When you do that, of course, you go through your pre-publish checklist.
Upgrade ranking content
Maybe you are upgrading some content that’s already ranking, like number 5 through 20. That’s where there’s a lot of opportunity for a high-value keyword to get bumped up. You could just do little things, like make sure that it’s serving all of these items, try and get it a featured snippet, identify content that might be old, that needs a refresh, that’s not serving the searcher intent as well because the information in there is old.
Contribute off-site content
Or you could try contributing some offsite content. That could be to places like YouTube, maybe you’ve seen videos show up for something, guest posts, a forum where you contribute, answers some questions on Quora, contribute something to LinkedIn or Medium, just something to get your brand, your content, and hopefully a link out there to a different audience than what’s already coming to your site.
You do these things, right, you start the month with an hour. Every time you publish content, you put in 3 minutes, and at the start of the week, you put in 10 minutes to do a couple pieces of planning, this will take you a long way. Look, SEO professionals are going to do a lot more than this, for sure. But this can be a great start, a great way to get that SEO kicked off, to have a minimum viable SEO plan.
I look forward to your thoughts. And we’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.
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