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Deconstructing the Gospel of Rankings By Leslie To

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From the SMX Advanced Conference in Seattle, Washington, June 22-23, 2016. SESSION: The Periodic Table of SEO Ranking Factors: 2016 Edition. PRESENTATION: Deconstructing the Gospel of Rankings - Given by Leslie To, @itsleslieto - 3Q Digital, Director of SEO. #SMX #11A

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Deconstructing the Gospel of Rankings By Leslie To

  1. 1. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Four Factors in Focus Deconstructing the Gospel of Rankings
  2. 2. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto And Me •  About me: •  Director of SEO •  Responsible for SEO strategy on all clients •  About 3Q Digital: •  Over $400 million in annual managed spend on Google •  Search, SEO, mobile, paid social, display, creative and analytics
  3. 3. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto •  Why Test Old-Guard Ranking Factors •  Old-Guard Factors: Titles, Descriptions & Content •  Understanding RankBrain Agenda
  4. 4. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto •  Why Test Old-Guard Ranking Factors •  Old-Guard Factors: Titles, Descriptions & Content •  Understanding RankBrain Agenda
  5. 5. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “Change is the only constant.” - Heraclitus
  6. 6. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto A Quick Review of The Ever-Changing Landscape 2 0 1 1 2012 2013 2014 2015 2016 (not provided) KG KG Expands 2.0 2.0 2.0
  7. 7. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Ecosystem of Ranking Factors Ranking Factors Media Domain History SSL UX Bolded Terms SERP Behavior Page Speed Link Equity Duplicate Content Internal Outbound KW Targeting Search CTR Title RankBrain H tags Meta Desc. Domain Age Body Content EMD Content Length LSI Canonicals Recency Inbound Helpfulness Crawl Errors Readability HTML errors Domain Authority Architecture Mobile Friendliness
  8. 8. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Many project plans still heavily emphasize meta data & body copy optimizations even though there are so many other levers to be pulled at any one time. I Got 99 Problems and Ranking Factors are Just One of Them
  9. 9. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Many project plans still heavily emphasize meta data & body copy optimizations even though there are so many other levers to be pulled at any one time. I Got 99 Problems and Ranking Factors are Just One of Them
  10. 10. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags? CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? Is there a diminishing return on content investment? Three Lines of Inquiry
  11. 11. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags? CTR is related to meta descriptions which has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? Is there a diminishing return on content investment? Three Lines of Inquiry
  12. 12. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Exact Match Titles vs Phrase Match Titles 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 2/28/2016 3/1/2016 3/3/2016 3/5/2016 3/7/2016 3/9/2016 3/11/2016 3/13/2016 3/15/2016 3/17/2016 3/19/2016 3/21/2016 3/23/2016 3/25/2016 3/27/2016 3/29/2016 3/31/2016 4/2/2016 4/4/2016 4/6/2016 4/8/2016 4/10/2016 4/12/2016 4/14/2016 4/16/2016 4/18/2016 4/20/2016 4/22/2016 4/24/2016 4/26/2016 4/28/2016 4/30/2016 5/2/2016 5/4/2016 5/6/2016 5/8/2016 5/10/2016 5/12/2016 5/14/2016 5/16/2016 5/18/2016 5/20/2016 5/22/2016 5/24/2016 5/26/2016 5/28/2016 Exact Phrase Control
  13. 13. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Exact Match Titles vs Phrase Match Titles 1 3 5 7 9 11 13 15 2/28/2016 3/1/2016 3/3/2016 3/5/2016 3/7/2016 3/9/2016 3/11/2016 3/13/2016 3/15/2016 3/17/2016 3/19/2016 3/21/2016 3/23/2016 3/25/2016 3/27/2016 3/29/2016 3/31/2016 4/2/2016 4/4/2016 4/6/2016 4/8/2016 4/10/2016 4/12/2016 4/14/2016 4/16/2016 4/18/2016 4/20/2016 4/22/2016 4/24/2016 4/26/2016 4/28/2016 4/30/2016 5/2/2016 5/4/2016 5/6/2016 5/8/2016 5/10/2016 5/12/2016 5/14/2016 5/16/2016 5/18/2016 5/20/2016 5/22/2016 5/24/2016 5/26/2016 5/28/2016 Exact Phrase Control Changes Pushed ?
  14. 14. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Not as much as we were expecting URLs with phrase match often times did just as well or sometimes even better than exact targeting How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags?
  15. 15. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags? Not as much as we thought CTR is related to meta descriptions which has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? Is there a diminishing return on content investment? Three Lines of Inquiry
  16. 16. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags? Not as much as we thought CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? Is there a diminishing return on content investment? Three Lines of Inquiry
  17. 17. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? - 2.00 4.00 6.00 8.00 10.00 12.00 2.50% 2.60% 2.70% 2.80% 2.90% 3.00% 3.10% 3.20% 3.30% AveragePosition CTR *CTR Avg. Position
  18. 18. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? - 2.00 4.00 6.00 8.00 10.00 12.00 2.50% 2.60% 2.70% 2.80% 2.90% 3.00% 3.10% 3.20% 3.30% AveragePosition CTR *CTR Avg. Position
  19. 19. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? 2/28 3/6 3/13 3/20 3/27 4/3 4/10 4/17 4/24 5/1 5/8 5/15 5/22 5/29 *CTR 3.08% 3.03% 2.91% 3.09% 3.22% 3.24% 3.24% 3.20% 3.15% 3.03% 2.96% 2.91% 2.81% 2.87% Avg. Position 10.08 9.38 9.15 9.47 9.00 8.55 8.86 8.90 9.12 9.67 9.59 9.78 10.29 10.09 +0.33% points -0.29 positions -0.16% points +0.42 positions
  20. 20. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto They are definitely inversely related But… Average position fluctuated minimally CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really?
  21. 21. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? 2/28 3/6 3/13 3/20 3/27 4/3 4/10 4/17 4/24 5/1 5/8 5/15 5/22 5/29 *CTR 3.08% 3.03% 2.91% 3.09% 3.22% 3.24% 3.24% 3.20% 3.15% 3.03% 2.96% 2.91% 2.81% 2.87% Avg. Position 10.08 9.38 9.15 9.47 9.00 8.55 8.86 8.90 9.12 9.67 9.59 9.78 10.29 10.09 +0.33% points (+11.4%) -0.29 positions (-3.2%) -0.16% points (-5.3%) +0.42 positions (+4.3%)
  22. 22. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto They are definitely inversely related But… Average position fluctuated minimally CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really?
  23. 23. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags? Not as much as we thought CTR is related to meta descriptions and has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? There’s a discernable inverse relationship, but rankings fluctuation was minimal compared to change in CTR Is there a diminishing return on content investment? Three Lines of Inquiry
  24. 24. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags? Not as much as we thought CTR is related to meta descriptions which has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? There’s a inverse discernable relationship but rankings fluctuation was minimal compared to change in CTR Is there a diminishing return on content investment? Three Lines of Inquiry
  25. 25. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Website #1: •  DA 77/100 •  Sample of 79 URLs No discernable relationship between word count & avg. position Is there a diminishing return on content investment?
  26. 26. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Website #2: •  DA 36/100 •  Sample of 52 URLs Negative correlation between avg. position & word count Is there a diminishing return on content investment?
  27. 27. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Website #3: •  DA 46/100 •  Sample of 1,006 URLs Biggest cluster between 500 and 600 words Is there a diminishing return on content investment?
  28. 28. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto There seems to be a strong indicator that 500-600 words is the sweet spot for 2 of the 3 websites I examined But… Since results are not conclusive, an analysis on that point of diminishing return should be examined on a case-by-case basis Is there a diminishing return on content investment?
  29. 29. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto How much does exact match keyword targeting matter in title tags? Not as much as we thought CTR is related to meta descriptions which has been thought to impact rankings. Does it really? There’s a inverse discernable relationship but rankings fluctuation was minimal compared to change in CTR Is there a diminishing return on content investment? Inconclusive Three Lines of Inquiry
  30. 30. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto •  Why Test Old-Guard Ranking Factors •  Old-Guard Factors: Titles, Descriptions & Content •  Understanding RankBrain Agenda
  31. 31. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “RankBrain is one of the ‘hundreds’ of signals that go into an algorithm that determines what results appear on a Google search page and where they are ranked, Corrado said. In the few months it has been deployed, RankBrain has become the third-most important signal contributing to the result of a search query, he said.”
  32. 32. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto But How Good Is RankBrain at Interpreting Searches?
  33. 33. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto Explicit Targeting Implied Meanings “mobile best practices” à “top ranking factors” à “why manual bidding” à “pivot tables” à “improve content reach on facebook” à Explicit vs Implicit Targeting “ways to optimize for mobile” “how to improve organic visibility” “automated vs manual bidding” “how to create pivot tables” “why does some content get more reach than other content”
  34. 34. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “design banner ads in photoshop” vs “how to create banner ads in photoshop” RankBrain on “Explicit vs Implicit Targeting”
  35. 35. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “design banner ads in photoshop” vs “how to create banner ads in photoshop” RankBrain on “Explicit vs Implicit Targeting”
  36. 36. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “is manual bidding better” vs “why manual bidding” RankBrain on “Explicit vs Implicit Targeting”
  37. 37. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “is manual bidding better” vs “why manual bidding” RankBrain on “Explicit vs Implicit Targeting”
  38. 38. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “how to choose best seo company” vs “hire the right seo agency” RankBrain on “Explicit vs Implicit Targeting”
  39. 39. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto “bing ads certification study guide” vs “bing ads certification tips” RankBrain on “Explicit vs Implicit Targeting”
  40. 40. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto •  As RankBrain gets better at interpreting searches, the pool of total keyword permutations will shrink (slowly…) Why should you care how RankBrain is interpreting searches?
  41. 41. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto •  As RankBrain gets better at interpreting searches, the pool of total keyword permutations will shrink (slowly…) •  Because of this, you’ll also have to get better at figuring out implied meanings of keyword searches in order to take advantage of RankBrain’s conflating abilities Why should you care how RankBrain is interpreting searches?
  42. 42. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto •  As RankBrain gets better at interpreting searches, the pool of total keyword permutations will shrink (slowly…) •  Because of this, you’ll also have to get better at figuring out implied meanings of keyword searches in order to take advantage of RankBrain’s conflating abilities •  Even though it’s the “third most important ranking factor”, it’s unclear how we can optimize towards it Why should you care how RankBrain is interpreting searches?
  43. 43. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto •  As RankBrain gets better at interpreting searches, the pool of total keyword permutations will shrink (slowly…) •  Because of this, you’ll also have to get better at figuring out implied meanings of keyword searches in order to take advantage of RankBrain’s conflating abilities •  Even though it’s the “third most important ranking factor”, it’s unclear how we can optimize towards it •  Understanding how it works gets us one step closer to being able to use it to our advantage Why should you care how RankBrain is interpreting searches?
  44. 44. #SMX #11A @itsleslieto LEARN MORE: UPCOMING @SMX EVENTS THANK YOU! SEE YOU AT THE NEXT #SMX

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