New & Improved: Announcing The Beginner’s Guide To Link Building

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

Link building isn’t always easy, but if you want to rank with SEO, links are often the cost of admission.

While Google says SEOs sometimes focus too much on links, links remain one of the few confirmed ranking factors. Indeed, every study over the past decade shows a high correlation between links and ranking. And while links alone can’t guarantee a #1 spot at the top of Google, previous research has shown that it’s nearly impossible to rank without any links at all.

For many, link building also presents a challenge. Folks get sincerely frustrated with wasted link building efforts, poor outreach processes, and lack of results.

It doesn’t have to be that way.

Good link building actually helps everyone involved: the content owner, the linker, the audience, and search engines alike. Google evaluates links in so many ways, you could say its search engine couldn’t exist without them. Good link building also encourages the creation of useful content and good marketing practices. When done right, link building can also be a joy (and profitable!).

Read the Guide!

1. Updating an instant classic

Moz first published the Beginner’s Guide to Link Building in 2014. Back then, the SEO world was still adjusting to the fallout of Google’s Penguin Algorithm, which punished sites engaging in manipulative link building practices. The SEO world was looking to transition to more holistic, value-added forms of link building that wouldn’t run afoul of Google’s initiatives to sweep the web of shady practices.

Enter Paddy Moogan.

At the time, Paddy was already a respected voice among link builders, and had authored one of the few good books on link building. It was the same year that he and co-founder Matt Beswick conceived Aira, the digital marketing agency that would compel them to new heights. Moz was honored to have Paddy write the first edition of the Beginner’s Guide to Link Building.

Now, in 2021, Paddy has done it again.

A lot has changed in link building since 2014, and weirdly, much has stayed the same. Many of the tools and tactics have certainly evolved, along with Google’s algorithm (rel=ugc anyone?). As we worked with Paddy to update this edition of the guide, we realized how so many of the fundamentals of link building remain as true today as they did when we launched the first edition of the guide. As Paddy writes:

“Arguably, link building these days is more akin to great marketing, and the organizations who understand this are usually the ones who win long term.”

Without links, it’s likely Google would have never been invented in the first place. Understanding how websites link to one another allowed Google’s founders to create a search engine so superior to any other, that it grew to world domination. In fact, over 20 years later, links remain one of the most consistent Google ranking signals that we know of.

In this chapter, learn the fundamentals of why link building is important, how they help websites to rank, and other ways in which links are important to a web-based business.

Read Chapter 1 – What Is Link Building & Why Is It Important?

2. Types of Links

The truth is, not all links are created equal. In truth, the web consists of billions of links. Google, in its ranking algorithms, may only consider a fraction of these links. Indeed, algorithms like Penguin, released years ago, are specifically designed to ignore many types of links.

Understanding the types of links that you actually need, and that actually help you to rank, is crucial to effective link building.

This chapter covers:

  • Editorial Links (the most important kind)
  • User-generated links
  • Nofollow links
  • Risky vs Non-risky links
  • Sustainable links

Read Chapter 2 – Types Of Links

3. Structuring a Link Building Campaign

It all starts with a plan.

Some websites are able to attract links without much forethought, but this is rare. In truth, most successful sites have a plan for attracting links sustainably and at scale. Planning the right strategy in advance can make the difference between success and wasted effort.

Questions covered include:

  1. What are our goals?
  2. How many links do we need to rank?
  3. What assets can we use/create?
  4. How long will it take?
  5. What types of links do we need?

Read Chapter 3 – Structuring a Link Building Campaign

4. Finding your audience to get links from

Want to know what separates successful link builders from unsuccessful ones?

  • Successful link builders almost always know in advance who will link to their content, even before they create it.
  • Unsuccessful link builders build content based on guesses, and only later work to find an audience that may or may not link to it. More often than not, this approach fails.

This is a big, important chapter, involving a bit of competitive SEO research to lay the foundation in advance of your link-building campaign to better ensure success.

This includes identifying the types of content already earning links, the audiences linking to them, how to find contact information, and more.

Read Chapter 4 – Finding your audience to get links from

5. Link Building Outreach

Outreach good. Outreach bad.

Outreach has earned a rough reputation in SEO. We’ve nearly all been the recipient of really bad, really terrible outreach emails.

Good outreach makes all the difference.

Good outreach doesn’t get marked as spam. Good outreach actually adds value for the person you’re contacting. Good outreach builds links — and relationships.

In this chapter, learn the exact outreach tactics agencies use for successful link building campaigns, including detailed tips and real-world email templates to find inspiration.

Read Chapter 5 – Link Building Outreach

6. Link Building Tactics

This is what you came here for, right?

There are hundreds of legitimate link-building tactics. Which one(s) you choose will depend on your business goals, available resources, your niche, and available time.

A few of the tactics covered include:

  1. Content-based link building (with examples)
  2. Guest blogging (no, it’s not dead!)
  3. Broken link building
  4. Link reclamation
  5. Buying links – against Google’s guidelines!

Read Chapter 6 – Link Building Tactics

7. Link Building Measurement and Metrics

If you build links, will traffic come?

Building links doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Regardless if you work for an agency, in-house, or build links for your own projects, measuring the success of your efforts is vitally important.

In this chapter, explore and understand how the proper use of metrics such as Domain Authority, Page Authority, and even PageRank help in link building and reporting.

Also, look at how anchor text and raw link counts may or may not influence your link-building campaigns. For more advanced link builders, even the position of the link on the page may be tracked!

Read Chapter 7 – Link Building Measurement and Metrics

Bonus: Link Building Case Studies

Updating the link building guide was a ton of fun. Paddy was an absolute joy to work with, and his experience and expertise added immense value.

We also wanted to include real-world examples from some of the top link builders working in the industry. To this end, we reached out to experts such as:

Collectively, these individuals have built thousands of links for some of the most successful brands and campaigns on the planet. They generously contributed their expertise to the guide, and we’ve sprinkled this wisdom throughout.

What are your greatest link building tips? Let us know in the comments below.

Read The Beginner’s Guide to Link Building

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6 Ways to Bring Empathy Into Your Marketing Strategy (in 2021 and Beyond)

Posted by Nadya_Khoja

The events of 2020 have shown us just how important empathetic marketing is for businesses both large and small. The world has changed and businesses need to adapt to the new needs of their customers if they want to grow. The best way to do that is through empathy.

What is empathetic marketing?

Empathy is the ability to see events and situations from another’s perspective — to put yourself in their shoes. For brands, empathetic marketing is about seeing the world through the user’s point of view. It helps you place the customer at the center of your marketing strategy and work outwards.

But it’s important to remember that being empathetic also means being genuine — you can’t create emotional marketing campaigns for the sole purpose of manipulating customers.

Empathy is believable when it creates authentic connections between brands and users. You have to build trust and organic relationships throughout the customer journey.

Source: Venngage

Yes, increasing conversion rates is the ultimate goal of every marketing campaign, but brands need to change their mindset about how to achieve those conversions.

If your marketing strategy is focused on the hard-sell approach, it’s time to rethink your campaigns for 2021.

Why is empathy important in marketing?

We’ve outlined how empathy works in marketing, but there are numerous reasons why it’s important, especially in 2021 and beyond.

Emotion and connection are more necessary now than ever before. The way we live and work has changed in ways we couldn’t have imagined. “Business as usual” is a thing of the past, because a lot of emotion is being generated about the future — and these emotions impact how consumers react to marketing campaigns.

The range of human emotion is massive, from positive emotions like joy, interest, and amazement, to the more negative, such as fear, anger, or sadness (anger, especially, can be a powerful motivator for sharing content). Campaigns need to be geared towards evoking and connecting with these real emotions.

While brands still want to sell products and services and bring in revenue, the way they move users through the funnel has to change. And this approach needs to be from the ground up.

Adapt your content marketing, re-examine the customer journey, and educate your employees about the benefits of evoking emotion across marketing channels.

How to use empathy in marketing (+examples)

Brand marketing has been on one trajectory for a long time: sell products and amplify your brand image by emphasizing the characteristics of your company.

This mindset is ingrained in us, which makes it difficult to understand how to use empathy in marketing. But the world of marketing has had to adapt before, and we can do it again. Here are the best ways to switch to an empathetic marketing mindset.

1. Understand your audience’s pain points

We’ve mentioned the importance of walking in your audience’s shoes to get a feel for what they need right now. This is the time to update your buyer personas to reflect the new realities your customers are experiencing.

Source: Venngage

How can you do this? By understanding that customer empathy works in two ways:

  • What are the customer pain points in the real world?
  • What are the customer pain points regarding your business?

The real world, at the moment, is still reeling from the pandemic. That means your audience is missing out on traveling and meeting people, and is dealing with loneliness and uncertainty.

If your brand can step in to help with these feelings — such as offering virtual classes or providing entertainment — you’ll be able to make a powerful connection with your audience.

JetBlue has done a good job of understanding customers’ current pain points — how to travel safely in the pandemic in an emergency — and created videos addressing those issues:

When it comes to customers’ pain points with regards to your brand, you need to do a bit more digging.

Analyze your traffic and conversions each week and note the biggest movers, up and down. This is a great way to find out what aspects of your brand are attracting customers.

Use social listening to understand the sentiment around your brand. But don’t engage in every conversation, even if you’re feeling defensive. If customers aren’t happy with your brand, you should be learning why that is and how you can fix it.

Of course, nothing beats talking to your customers directly. Schedule a call or send out a short survey and ask them a few questions:

  • Are they happy with your brand?
  • What product/service has benefited them the most?
  • What would they like to see improved?

Don’t make any promises, but use this as a learning exercise to improve your customer interactions.

Once you’ve collated this information, you can design a customer traffic report that will help you adapt the direction of your marketing.

Source: Venngage

Another important component that brands need to keep in mind: avoiding confusion.

This goes hand-in-hand with marketing strategies, but clarity often goes out the door when you’re trying out a new mindset. If you’re selling a complex service that will eventually help customers, you don’t want to lose them in jargon or multi-step process.

Share comprehensive guides that they can follow during the user onboarding process. Make it as visual as possible by sharing screenshots, video walkthroughs, or use a timeline template.

Onboarding guides are a good way to show customers that you care about them and are willing to take them through every step of the process. This will help to build trust and strengthen connections between customers and brands.

2. Adapt to audience needs

Now that you know what your audience needs from the world and from your brand, you need to adapt your business model.

eBay’s Up & Running program is a good example of this adaptation:

With so many small businesses struggling during the pandemic, eBay scaled back fees, made some services free, and offered more support to sellers.

There are lessons here that brands can take into their own campaigns. You may not be able to offer discounts, but how about opening up your premium tier to all audiences?

Take smaller steps, like adapting how front-facing employees handle customers. Design job aids, like this example, to remind teams how to display empathetic behavior towards customers.

Source: Venngage

It’s also worth looking into your current customer service process to ensure your wording and tone are more empathetic.

3. Capture everyday life

A key component of using empathy in marketing is capturing the wonders of everyday life. Major life moments are on hold for the foreseeable future, so why aren’t more businesses incorporating the little moments into their content strategies?

Brands can showcase their empathy by creating content around simple scenarios: the joy of a video call with a loved one, baking a great pie, or replicating an outdoor experience inside. For example, people aren’t going to movie theaters right now, so a video about recreating the theater experience at home would successfully tap into customer empathy.

That’s exactly what Verizon did with their short video on responsive lighting:

The video is instructional and fun, and it features a real person from the company who loves the movie theater experience enough to want to recreate it at home. Human connection, right there.

Brands sometimes believe that content marketing means high-definition video quality and expansive stories. But you have to take the world as it currently is into account. Consumers aren’t living high-end lives, so the brand message needs to reflect that. Customers are home, and will be working remotely for a while longer. Choose the home as a setting when sharing your brand story to create that real-world connection.

4. Take a visually engaging, educational approach

Your content needs to be valuable to customers if it’s going to enhance their brand experience, so an educational approach might be necessary.

Audit your existing content to find pieces that are relevant to your audience. You can also update older pieces that may have outdated information, but can evoke the right emotions.

Over the past year, we’ve seen a lot of data-focused content being shared. Marketers can design content around key data to educate audiences. In fact, according to Venngage’s study into data marketing, most marketers are comfortable with data design.

This is the time to tap into data visualization skills and create data-related content to educate audiences. Customers want content that isn’t just attractive, but that also increases their understanding of the world around them.

Another way to educate audiences is to find the sweet spot between your business’ expertise and what your customers are interested in learning. That’s what Lush is doing with their “How It’s Made” YouTube series. It takes an educational and empathetic approach to showcasing their products:

This series works because customers want to know what’s going into the products they use. Lush has their experts explain the ingredients, and the overlap makes for great content.

When sharing educational content, create visuals that help tell your story. As a design solution, we’ve seen that visual storytelling can increase connections and conversions.

5. Add interactivity

Interactive marketing has been taking off over the past few years, since rapidly advancing technology (especially within social media) has made it more attainable for brands.

In the current global climate, adding interactivity in marketing content can be a great way to generate empathy in business models. As we have mentioned, consumers have had to give up on going out, meeting people, and traveling the world. If your brand can offer them solutions to these problems, then showcasing those solutions in your marketing should be a top priority.

And if you can make it interactive, like this BBC Scotland video, so much the better: 

The video works because of how simple the interactivity is. Users just need to use their touchpad to click through for more information and to change the direction of the video. Since people can’t travel right now and take in these sights in person, it has a great chance of engaging consumers.

According to recent video marketing research, YouTube not only draws in billions of monthly users, but it’s also the top purchase-driver among social media channels. So, if you have the resources to create interactive YouTube videos, you can showcase more brand empathy in your marketing efforts.

6. Utilize user-generated content

User-generated content has been a mainstay of social media marketing for a while now. But it’s also a strong tool for building brand connections with consumers.

What makes UGC stand out from other marketing strategies is how it bridges the gap between brands and customers. Users create content, either for their channels or for a brand contest, and that content is amplified on a company’s social media platform, website, or newsletters.

There are numerous benefits to UGC, the primary one being that your brand doesn’t need to create this content (though you will need to sort through entries to choose brand-appropriate content). Additionally, by showcasing users’ content, you can tap into their networks. People will feel happy about appearing on your brand’s platform and share the post or page with their circles.

Marketers should spend some time looking at the kind of content users are generating, as this will help them create a contest strategy that will appeal to their demographic, like Petco did.

Petco collected content from their customers about the little moments they share with their pets to create this video collage:

And there’s another benefit of UGC that is exemplified by Petco’s video: this kind of content acts as testimonials for the company. UGC shows that customers believe in a brand enough to send them their content. This proves to prospective customers that this brand is worth engaging with and purchasing from.

Conclusion: Use empathetic marketing to connect with customers in 2021 and beyond

The global situation has made empathetic marketing a top priority for businesses. It isn’t enough to talk about your product or the benefits of buying from your brand anymore. Brands now need to connect with customers on a deeper, more empathetic level. Show your audience that you understand their needs and are ready to adapt to them.

Including empathy in marketing campaigns is more of a mindset than a technique. And to instill that way of thinking in marketing teams, you need to follow these steps:

  • Understand your audience’s current pain points
  • Adapt to their needs
  • Take an educational approach in your marketing
  • Capture everyday life in campaigns
  • Add interactive elements
  • Utilize user-generated content

Each step is vital because the changes we’re seeing now will have long-lasting effects. Taking an empathetic approach can take a bit of time to get used to, but it isn’t impossible.

Have other tips for incorporating empathy in marketing? Let me know in the comments.

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!


Anatomy of a Perfect Pitch Email

7 Dead Simple Ways to Reduce Bounce Rate

Posted by Cyrus-Shepard

Is a high bounce rate bad? The answer is: it depends, but yes, sometimes it can be. Is a high bounce rate bad for SEO? That’s where it gets a little more complicated. In this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, Cyrus gives you seven easy SEO tips to address your bounce rate, and increase engagement and satisfaction to make your users happier.

Anatomy of a Perfect Pitch Email

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

Video Transcription

Welcome, Moz fans, to a new edition of Whiteboard Friday. My name is Cyrus Shepard. Today we’re talking about bounce rate, specifically seven dead simple tips to reduce your bounce rate. 

So most of you already know what bounce rate is. But for those who are uninitiated, bounce rate is an analytics term. It simply means a single page or non-interaction visit. When a visitor comes from Google or another website and they visit one page, they have no interaction, and they leave, that’s considered a bounce. That is a high bounce rate.

So is bounce rate bad? That’s a common question. The answer is, yeah, it can be bad. For example, if everybody is coming to your homepage and you want to get them to your sales page or your checkout page, you don’t want a high bounce rate. In that situation, yes, bounce rate is definitely bad. But is bounce rate bad for SEO? Well, there it gets a little more complicated.

Now, to be clear, Google does not use bounce rate. It is not a ranking signal for Google. That said, we do know that there’s a lot of evidence that Google does use some sort of engagement signals for SEO that we don’t have access to. So in that way you can think of bounce rate as a proxy signal for engagement and satisfaction, and that’s really what we’re trying to measure here. We’re trying to measure how satisfied our uses are, how engaged they are with a page. In some instances, there is evidence that this could help your SEO in some circumstances. 

Now just lowering your bounce rate is not going to automatically improve your Google rankings. It doesn’t work that way. But lowering your bounce rate can have positive effects. In fact, your visitors may be more satisfied.

Now to be clear, before we get into these tips, I want to be very clear the goal is not to reduce your bounce rate number. It’s just a number. It doesn’t mean anything. The goal is to increase engagement and to increase satisfaction, to make your users happier. Just reducing your bounce rate, that doesn’t do anything. But if you make your users happier, give them what they’re searching for, that’s what we’re trying to do, and we’re using bounce rate as a proxy to measure that along with other metrics, such as time on site, the number of pages visited, and things like that.

1. Page speed

So we’re looking to make users happier. So how do we do this? How are we going to lower our bounce rate? Well, seven quick tips, very basic stuff in SEO. First of all, page speed. It’s not very sexy, but I included it here because out of all of these tips improving your page speed is probably the number one way to guarantee a reduced bounce rate.

I’ve seen it on hundreds of sites. Make your site faster, bounce rate goes down. Why? Well, for one, more people can simply access your content. They’re not waiting for it to load. They’re in the subway, on their cell phone, it loads faster. Second, it’s just a better experience than if they’re waiting for images to appear and things like that.

It will almost definitely guarantee to lower your bounce rate. This is the number one reason that, in my opinion, you work to improve the speed on your website. Yes, speed is a Google ranking factor. It is a confirmed Google ranking factor. In most cases, though, it’s a pretty small one.

But if you improve engagement and satisfaction with your speed, that has downstream effects that have much broader, wider SEO implications. It’s the number one reason to improve speed, not for the ranking benefit, but for this reason alone. Yes, this includes the upcoming Core Web Vitals that are coming out, that are going to be a ranking factor soon. We’ll link to some resources on how to improve that:

    2. Broaden intent satisfaction

    So one, nail your speed. Two, the easiest way to lower bounce rate is two broaden your intent satisfaction. Now what do we mean by this? Are we satisfying the intent that people came to your site for in the first place? 

    For example, someone searches for “Nike shoes.” Well, we want to rank for “Nike shoes,” but we don’t really know what the intent is of the person who searched. Do they want to buy Nike shoes? Do they want reviews of different Nike shoes? Are they looking for pictures of Nike shoes? It could be any one of those things. The more broadly we can satisfy that intent on the page or link to other resources, the better we’re going to do with engagement and our bounce rate.

    Deep competitive analysis

    So how do we do this? So one, you want to do deep competitive analysis. You want to see what’s already ranking for these terms, for your ideal search term and look at all of the ranking results and what’s working and try to satisfy those intents. If you’re not offering the same type of content as the top 10 ranking results, you’re probably not matching that intent very well.

    Answer questions

    So you might want to rejigger your content. The second thing you should be doing is answer questions more deeply. Now we talk about long-form content typically performing better in search results. Long-form content isn’t a ranking factor. But the more complete you can answer questions, that usually has a better impact. So simply answering questions better can deepen the intent satisfaction.

    Link to related content

    Finally, and this is my number one trick/tip, link to related intent. An example is on Moz we have literally dozens of articles that we’ve written about various SEO topics, such as canonical tag. Each has a slightly different intent. When someone lands on any of those pages about a canonical tag, we can link to all the other resources about canonical tags in a prominent position.

    Now you often see related articles that are like little widgets at the end of articles. I generally like to place those much higher in the content, where people can see them and engage and click on those articles because we may not have captured the intent perfectly on this page, but we can link to all those related resources and capture the intent that way.

    As soon as they click and go explore the other page, they’re getting their intent satisfied, and we have lowered our bounce rate. So find those related articles on your site and link to them prominently. You’re going to do well. 

    3. Smart CTAs

    Number three, smart CTAs. Oftentimes that’s what you’re trying to get people to do. You’re trying to get them to click your CTA to go buy your product or check out your download or whatever it is.

    The smartest way to improve your CTAs is include the ranking keyword in the CTA itself. So this means go to Google Search Console, go to Moz Keyword Explorer, find what your pages are actually ranking for, and take those top keywords and insert them into the CTA itself. For example, if my page is about credit reports or getting a credit report score, I could have a CTA that says “Add to Cart,” or I could have a CTA that says, “Get my credit report.”

    This is psychologically 100 times more powerful than saying “Add to Cart” because I just typed “credit report” into Google, and aha, here it is. I want to get my credit report. So including your keywords in the CTAs is a very smart way and simple way of improving engagement and lowering your bounce rate.

    4. Use inverted pyramid writing

    Number four, I got this from Dr. Pete Meyers. Thank you, sir. Use the inverted pyramid style of writing. So we want to engage people in our writing, when they come looking for answers, and that means we want to hook them early and draw them into your content. The inverted pyramid style of writing, borrowed from journalism and I’m going to link to Dr. Pete’s post on this, is start with a lead. Start with a quick answer, go into the details and then your content. So you want to grab them. Show them what you’re going to promise them and pull them into the details. That’s all about creating more engaging content, drawing people in, and having good, clean content that looks great and works all well. 

    5. Make site search simple

    Moving on, make site search simple and obvious. Here’s why. If you can provide an easier search solution than Google, that gives the user a reason to search your site instead of going back to Google, which counts as a bounce. If they search on your site, you have engaged them. They’re looking at more content on your site, and you’ve reduced your bounce rate and improved engagement.

    So I like making site search very obvious, very simple. Especially if you’re a resource heavy site and people think that they can find what they want on your site, it’s going to improve it. Don’t make them search Google. Let them search your site instead. 

    6. Add media

    Adding video, images, and different media. Some of our highest engagement pages here at Moz are these Whiteboard Fridays.

    Why? They have a video. One thing I would suggest though, something we’ve learned over and over again, is mix your formats. The average person watching one of these videos stays on the page and the site for 9 or 10 minutes, which is huge for us. But one thing we did several years ago is we started adding transcripts and images to these posts.

    So mixing the media usually does much better than just adding a video or images by itself. So pages with images, video, and text generally do better than pages with just those things by themselves.

    7. Reduce rage and dead clicks

    Finally, something I’ve been getting into recently is reducing what’s known as rage clicks and dead clicks.

    Rage clicks are when people are hitting something that they think is supposed to be a button or a link and it doesn’t work. Same with dead clicks. They’re hitting something, an element on your site, maybe it’s an image, maybe it’s a special color text that they think is supposed to be a link or they think is supposed to be a call to action, and it doesn’t work. Maybe JavaScript is not loading correctly or something like that.

    Or maybe an image looks like a button. Every site has these. You can generally find these with heat tracking software. Microsoft just came out with a new product that’s free — Microsoft Clarity. There’s Hotjar. Any sort of heat tracking or heat mapping software can generally show you these rage clicks and dead clicks.

    If you fix these, people are going to click the elements that are actually workable, and it will give you insight on how to reduce these. These are definitely going to reduce your bounce rate. All right. So if you have any tips on reducing your bounce rate, please leave them in the comments below. If you like this video, please share. Let your friends know about it.

    Thanks, everybody. Bye-bye.

    Video transcription by

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    Announcing: The MozCon Virtual 2021 Initial Agenda

    Posted by cheryldraper

    Come one, come all to the hottest ticket in virtual! We’re packing up the MozCon big top and bringing all the MozCon magic straight to your front door.

    Last year we took MozCon to the virtual stage for the first time, and we loved it so much, we’re doing it again! Only this time, we’re taking it to the next level with exclusive performances by world-renowned local SEO jugglers, automation acrobats, link building magicians, and so much more!

    We know SEO doesn’t stop — searchers keep on searching, and marketers need to stay on their toes to meet their needs. (Cue the tightrope walkers!)

    Join Ringmaster Roger and marketing experts from around the world for three days packed with presentations on SEO, search marketing, mobile, conversion optimization, local search, and more — all from the comfort of home.

    Not your typical marketing conference

    Get connected

    Meet fellow attendees and don’t miss a minute of MozCon fun — follow #mozcon and join the MozCon Facebook Group!

    Birds of a Feather networking groups

    Who doesn’t love making new friends and engaging in lively discussion? After all, a big part of the conference experience is meeting new connections and reconnecting with older ones. Birds of a Feather at MozCon are purposeful yet unstructured peer discussion groups organized around topics that matter to today’s digital marketers. Grab yourself a snack or beverage and come network with some new friends! Topics vary each day at the conference and offer something for everyone.

    Tickets start at $129 for Moz customers

    Going virtual means affordability! You can snag your ticket for as low as $129 if you’re a Moz customer, and tickets include access to the virtual video bundle after MozCon wraps up.

    Save my spot at MozCon Virtual!

    Initial agenda

    Time to pull back the curtain and reveal the exciting acts we’ve got planned. Let’s bring out our MozCon Virtual stars!

    Amanda Milligan

    Marketing Director | Fractl
    A Live Guide to Finding & Filling the Gaps in Your Link Strategy

    Is your link portfolio strong enough to withstand everything Google and your competitors throw at you? If you’re hyper-focused on acquisition and you ignore strategy, you can end up with a pile of weak backlinks that aren’t relevant — and won’t move the needle. Competitive analysis is your key to finding and filling the gaps in your link building strategy. I’ll walk you through the process start-to-finish.

    Areej AbuAli

    SEO Consultant
    Taking Charge of Your Indexability: How to Optimize and Prioritize Your Technical Work

    Take charge over the indexability of your website! With a focus on aggregators and classifieds, Areej will share advice on how to best reduce index bloat for large websites. Diving into parameter handling, sitemap logic, robots directives, and more, we’ll also assess how to analyze the most impactful changes, how to get sign-off from senior stakeholders, and how to prioritize work with product teams.

    Brie E Anderson

    Owner, Founder | BEAST Analytics
    The Value of Perspective: A Use-Case for External Audits

    Remember that phone call from your client? The one where they wanted to talk to you about a “free audit” another agency did for them? Let’s talk about it. In this session, we’ll uncover the value of audits and how they can (and should) be conducted with integrity. It’s time to take back the value of perspective!

    Britney Muller

    Serial Entrepreneur + Data Science Student | Data Sci 101
    The Cold Hard Truth about CTR

    Reporting on website performance is an integral part of SEO, but not all metrics are created equal. If you think your CTR metrics are telling the full story, think again. Start building more insightful reporting methods with data science. In this session, Britney will show you how to quash your reporting woes and make easy work of identifying exactly why your website’s performance changed.

    Casie Gillette

    Senior Director, Digital Marketing | KoMarketing
    Counterintuitive Content: How New Trends Have Disrupted Years of Bad Advice

    Along with the always-shifting landscape, one of the biggest things we as marketers struggle with is the sheer volume of information. For years we were told we had to produce as much content as possible. Then we were told to focus on quality but we still had to have a consistent schedule. What about YouTube or voice search or TikTok? The fact of the matter is, there’s no one way to do content marketing. In this session, we’ll look at content from an entirely different perspective and talk about how you can start creating content on your own terms.

    Cyrus Shepard

    SEO Consultant | Moz
    Mastering 3 Click + Engagement Signals for Higher Rankings/Traffic

    Successful websites are all different, yet nearly all Google-ranked websites succeed in the exact same fundamental ways. In our quest to optimize for Core Web Vitals, mobile-first indexing, and JavaScript rendering, have we lost sight of the content and user experiences that dominate the very top of Google search results? In this presentation, Cyrus explores the three Google click and engagement signals that top-ranking web pages master: clicks, long clicks, and last clicks. Using examples and experiment results, he demonstrates how any website — and SEOs of all skill levels — can leverage these signals for improved Google traffic.

    Dana DiTomaso

    President & Partner | Kick Point
    Build for Search: Modern Web Dev That Puts SEO First

    With the debut of Core Web Vitals, modern SEO is more relevant to website development than ever before. Sure, we’ve always been thinking about title tags and making sure our pages convert — but the actual underpinnings of a website might have been left to your web development team and maybe that one technical SEO. They’re likely very skilled people, but the chances of them thinking about how development decisions impact SEO are typically slim to none. Let’s modernize the relationship between the web development process and SEO.

    Flavilla Fongang

    Founder & Creative Brand Strategist | 3 Colours Rule
    The Science of Purchasing Behavior: How to Use it Effectively to Attract & Convert More Prospects Into Customers

    Some brands have achieved the dream: a large audience who believes in them, buying from them time and time again without questioning the value or authenticity of the products and services. And they’ve done it by developing an emotional connection with that audience. These days, it’s more about building a community around your brand, rather than simply having clients. We’ll explore the power of brand psychology that’s been used by huge, successful brands such as Apple or Starbucks to earn customers that are loyal long-term.

    Jackie Chu

    SEO Lead, Intelligence | Uber
    Internationalization Errors: How to Go Global Without Losing All Of Your Traffic

    Internationalization is one of the leading causes of technical SEO debt for multinational companies. We’ll talk through common internationalization mistakes and how to avoid them so you can win visibility and grow anywhere.

    Joy Hawkins

    Owner | Sterling Sky Inc
    To Post or Not to Post: What We Learned From Analyzing Over 1,000 Google Posts

    What value do Google Posts have, and how should the average SMB prioritize them? Dive into the data from two studies conducted by Sterling Sky to answer these questions.

    The first study analyzes over 1,000 Google Posts to see what types perform better based on clicks and conversions, and measures the impact of various features such as stock photos, emojis, titles, and more. The second looks at whether posting on Google has any influence on where your business ranks in the local pack. Findings from both will have you reevaluating your clients’ Google posting strategy!

    Joyce Collarde

    SEO Supervisor | Obility
    Maximize Your Conversions: Harnessing full-funnel optimization for B2B success

    The long sales cycles presented in B2B pose a unique set of challenges for converting visitors into coveted users. Success requires a strategic approach that goes beyond the landing page to include your entire site. In this session, we’ll look at three tried-and-true methods for increasing your conversion rate and winning more business.

    Kameron Jenkins

    Content Lead | Shopify
    The Content Refresh: How to Do More With Less

    No matter where you work, there’s something we all seem to have a shortage of… time. Combine that with ambitious traffic KPIs and you’ll quickly realize that a 100% new content strategy isn’t sustainable. Enter the content refresh. Learn how to identify and execute the best refresh opportunities so you can rank faster and increase your existing content ROI.

    Lily Ray

    Senior Director, SEO & Head of Organic Research | Path Interactive
    From the Medic Update to Now: How the E-A-T Ecosystem Has Transformed Organic Search

    Learn why E-A-T (expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness) has taken a front seat in SEO discussions in recent years, the numerous places where Google focuses on E-A-T, and how the growing emphasis on surfacing authoritative content has drastically changed the organic search landscape across search, News, Discover, YouTube, and more.

    Luke Carthy

    eCommerce Consultant
    The Ultimate How-To for Faceted Navigation SEO in E-commerce

    One of the biggest FAQs in e-commerce: “How do you handle faceted navigation when it comes to SEO?”

    We’ll ask the tough questions and answer them head-on! Join Luke as he walks through case studies, real-world examples, and how to leverage faceted navigation to really capitalize on high-converting long-tail keywords. If you’re in e-commerce, you won’t want to miss this!

    Miracle Inameti-Archibong

    Head of SEO | Erudite Agency
    Let the API Do the Work: Harnessing Natural Language for More Productive SEO

    Keyword research is a vital process in getting insights into your consumer behaviour. However, it is often a very manual and labor-intensive process. How can we speed up the process so we can get to working on our implementations and getting results? Miracle walks through practical ways marketers can use APIs to do the heavy lifting and save time.

    Noah Learner

    Product Director | Two Octobers
    Game-Changing Ways to Use the Google Search Console API

    Let’s face it, you aren’t getting what you want from your keyword data. Unlock your newest SEO secret weapon with this deep dive into the power of the Google Search Console API. This game-changing tool will help you crush the competition, sell SEO to your team, and win prospects with deep SEO insights you had no idea were available.

    Dr. Pete Meyers

    Marketing Scientist | Moz
    Rule Your Rivals: From Data to Action

    Most competitive analysis ends in an avalanche of potential keywords to target, leaving you buried in indecision. Real case studies will show you how to forge your data into an actionable plan that drives strategic, targeted content. Escape from under the keyword pile and conquer your content rivals.

    Rob Ousbey

    VP Strategy | Moz
    Beyond the Basics: 5 SEO Tricks for Uncovering Advanced Insights from Your SEO Data

    Modern SEOs have no shortage of data, but you could learn even MORE about your site, content, links, and competitors by working smarter, not harder. Rob will show you how to breathe new life into your standard SEO data, and walk away with more advanced insights that are sure to impress your team (and your boss!)

    Ross Simmonds

    Founder, CEO | Foundation Marketing
    Why Marketers Should Think More Like Investors To Drive Content Results

    Every single piece of content your brand creates is an asset. So why do we view them as an expense? In this session, Ross will talk about the parallels between content marketing/SEO and the world of investing. From the techniques that take blog posts and landing pages to the moon, to the fundamentals of content investing to create a competitive advantage, learn how an investment mindset can drive results.

    Shannon McGuirk

    Client Services and Delivery Director | Aira
    Doing the Perfectly (Im)Possible: Debunking Digital PR & Link Building Myths in 2021

    “You better be pitching that campaign into the press before 9am and definitely not on a Friday or Monday!”
    “Link relevancy is important if you’re a link builder, but if you’re a digital PR, it doesn’t really matter.”
    “You’re asking the impossible to get links to category and product pages.”

    Tired of hearing bold claims and questions like these? We are too.

    Shannon is going to challenge many of the digital PR and link building myths you’re seeing debated on Twitter. From the old classic myths that stand the test of time and are always asked, through to new beliefs that are hot topics, she’s going to use data, insights and case studies to show you how to cover come some of these beliefs and improve your link building and digital PR efforts in 2021.

    Tom Capper

    Senior Search Scientist | Moz
    The Fast & The Spurious: Core Web Vitals & SEO

    Core Web Vitals are all the rage, but do they live up to the hype? Tom explores the real SEO impact of Google’s shiny new metrics, which ones you actually need to worry about, and how to prioritize fixes.

    Wil Reynolds

    Founder & Vice President of Innovation | Seer Interactive
    The 3 Most Important Search Marketing Tools…Your Heart, Your Brain, & Your [Small] Ego

    Search is a game of rankings. Only one can win the #1 spot and small tweaks can mean the difference between ranking #1 and #5. If you’re using the same tools as everyone else, what competitive advantage are you bringing to the table? Wil shows you how to transform your data into winning insights with 3 tools everyone has at their fingertips: your heart, your head, and a willingness to question everything you thought was true about SEO.

    We hope to see your smiling faces online in July!

    Yes, I’m going to MozCon!

    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!


    SEO Website Analytics: Going One Step Deeper Into GA

    Posted by Brie-E-Anderson

    Website analytics can tell us a lot about our audience and how they interact with our site. Oftentimes, we rely heavily on these analytics for reporting. But what if I told you that Google Analytics provides data that can be used as a strategy tool?

    In this post, we are going to quickly look at three very specific, very actionable Google Analytics views for uncovering SEO opportunities.

    Track Core Web Vitals

    Google has verified that Largest Contentful Paint (LCP), First Input Delay (FID), and Cumulative Layout Shift (CLS) are now part of the Page Experience ranking factor. These metrics together make up Core Web Vitals. This topic has already been covered many times in the SEO industry, and Google itself has covered the topic along with how to measure the metrics, so we won’t dive too deep into the metrics themselves.

    In the documentation provided by Google, they break down how you can pull LCP, FID, and CLS in data into Google Analytics. This can be done by setting up custom events using the code found on GitHub.

    Upon setting up those events, you’ll be able to see all of the Core Web Vital metrics in Google Analytics. They will show up when you go to Google Analytics > Behavior > Events > Top Events and toggle over to Event Action. To get further insight into how each page is performing in each category, use a secondary dimension of Page.

    Source: Noise to Signal

    To find the underperforming pages, use advanced filters to look for pages that fall under the “good” benchmark according to Google.

    Using this data, you can tackle Core Web Vitals head-on and keep a close eye on performance as you make changes.

    Find and fix 404s

    The last thing you want is for people to finally come to your site just to be sent to an “Oops” page. This can happen for a variety of reasons: a mis-shared link, a forgotten redirect, a misspelled word in the URL, etc. It’s important to find these pages early and set up a fix right away to create the best possible experience for users.

    The easiest way I’ve found to identify these URLs is to navigate to a page I know doesn’t exist on my website. For example, you may type in, then, when the page loads a 404, grab the title tag. Now you can navigate to Google Analytics > Behavior > All Pages and toggle over to Page Title. Once here, do a search using the title tag of your 404 page.

    You’ll be shown one row with all of the stats for your 404 page. If you click on the title name, you’ll be presented with a new screen with all of the URLs that resulted in a 404 page. These are the URLs you need to research, determine why people are going to them, and then decide what you need to fix.

    Again, those fixes may require creating or fixing a redirect, fixing a link (internal or external), creating content for that URL, and so on.

    Find and capitalize on easy traffic opportunities

    Search Console is a great tool for SEOs, as it gives us insights into how we’re performing in the search engine result pages. The downfall of Search Console is that the filtering options make it tough to manipulate the data — this isn’t the case with Google Analytics.

    In Google Analytics, under Acquisition, you’ll find Search Console. If you have correctly connected your Google Analytics account with Search Console, your position, CTR, query, and landing page data should all be there.

    So, if you go to Google Analytics > Acquisition > Search Console > Query, you can use the advanced search bar to help you find the data you want. In this case, let’s include Average Position less than 10, include Average Position greater than 3, and include CTR of less than 5%.


    After applying this search filter, you’ll find a list of keywords you currently rank well enough for, but that could use just a little boost. Increasing the CTR may be as simple as testing new title tags and meta descriptions. A higher CTR may lead to an increase in rankings, but even if it doesn’t, it will lead to an increase in traffic.

    Pro tip: track your changes

    The only way to know what is affecting your traffic is to track your changes. If you update a page, fix a link, or add a new resource, it may be enough to change your rankings.

    I find that tracking my changes in the annotations section in Google Analytics allows me to deduce potential effects at a glance. When a date has an annotation, there is a small icon on the timeline to let you know a change was made. If you see a bigger (or smaller) than usual peak after the icon, it could be a hint that your change had an impact.

    But remember, correlation does not always equal causation! As Dr. Pete would say, run your own tests. This is just meant to be a quick reference check.

    In conclusion

    Google Analytics is often used for reporting and tracking. But, that same data should be used to put a strategy into action.

    By taking your analytics just a step further, you can unlock serious opportunities.

    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!


    Featured Snippets: Not Gone, Just on Holiday (Apparently)

    Posted by Dr-Pete

    On February 19, 2021, we measured a dramatic drop in Featured Snippets on Google SERPs in the US. Like any responsible data scientist, I waited to make sure it wasn’t a fluke, did my homework, and published when I was sure I was onto something. Then, this happened (30-day view):

    C’MON, GOOGLE! I did all these beautiful analyses, found a lovely connection between Featured Snippet losses, YMYL queries, and head terms, and then you go and make me look like a chump?!

    Is there anything we can learn from this strange turn of events? Do I really need this stress? Should I just go pour myself a cocktail? Stay tuned for none of these answers and more!

    You want more data? Okay, fine, I guess…

    Could this recovery be a fluke of the 10,000-keyword MozCast data set? It’s unlikely, but let’s dot our i’s and cross our t’s. Here’s the Featured Snippet data from the same time period across roughly 2.2M US/desktop keywords in the STAT data set:

    So, this gets a lot messier. We saw a significant drop on February 19, followed by a partial recovery, followed by an even larger drop, finally landing (for now) on a total recovery.

    Our original study of the drop showed dramatic differences by query length. Here’s a breakdown by four word-count buckets for the before and after Featured Snippet prevalence (the data points are February 18, February 19, and March 12):

    You can plainly see that the bulk of the losses were in one-word queries, with longer queries showing minor but far less dramatic drops. All query lengths recovered by March 12.

    Who really came back from holiday?

    If you take two kids on vacation and come back with two kids, it’s all good, right? What if the kids who came back weren’t the same? What if they were robots? Or clones? Or robot clones?

    Is it possible that the pages that were awarded Featured Snippets after the recovery were different from the ones from before the drop? A simple count doesn’t tell us the whole story, even if we slice-and-dice it. This turns out to be a complicated problem. First of all, we have to consider that — in addition to the URL of the Featured Snippet changing — a keyword could gain or lose a Featured Snippet entirely. Consider this comparison of pre-drop and post-recovery:

    Looking at the keywords in MozCast that had Featured Snippets on February 18, 79% of those same keywords still had Featured Snippets on March 12. So, we’re down 21% already. If we narrow the focus to keywords that retained their Featured Snippets and displayed the same page/URL in those Featured, we’re down to 60% of the original set.

    That seems like a big drop, but we also have to consider that three weeks (22 days, to be precise) passed between the drop and recovery. How much change is normal for three weeks? For comparison’s sake, let’s look at the Featured Snippet stability for the 22 days prior to the drop:

    While these numbers are a bit better than the post-recovery numbers, we’re still seeing about three out of 10 keywords either losing a Featured Snippet or changing the Featured Snippet URL. Keep in mind that Featured Snippets are pulled directly from page-one organic results, so they’re constantly in flux as the algorithm and the content of the web evolve.

    Are Featured Snippets staying home?

    It’s impossible to say whether the original drop was deliberate on Google’s part, an unintentional consequence of another (deliberate) change, or entirely a bug. Honestly, given the focus of the drop on so-called “head” queries and YMYL (Your Money, Your Life) queries, I thought this was a deliberate change that was here to stay. Without knowing why so many Featured Snippets went away, I can’t tell you why they came back, and I can’t tell you how long to expect them to stay around.

    What we can assume is that Google will continue to evaluate Featured Snippet quality, especially for queries where result quality is critical (including YMYL queries) or where Google displays Knowledge Panels and other curated information. Nothing is guaranteed, and no tactic is future-proof. We can only continue to measure and adapt.

    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!


    The Local Finder vs. Google Maps: How Different Are They?

    Posted by MiriamEllis

    Google must be one of the most experimental enterprises the world has ever known. When it comes to the company’s local search interfaces, rather than rolling them all out as a single, cohesive whole, they have emerged in piecemeal fashion over two decades with different but related feature sets, unique URLs, and separate branding. Small wonder that confusion arises in dialog about aspects of local search. You, your agency coworkers, and your clients may find yourselves talking at cross-purposes about local rankings simply because you’re all looking at them on different interfaces!

    Such is certainly the case with Google Maps vs. the object we call the Google Local Finder. Even highly skilled organic SEOs at your agency may not understand that these are two different entities which can feature substantially different local business rankings.

    Today we’re going to clear this up, with a side-by-side comparison of the two user experiences, expert quotes, and a small, original case study that demonstrates and quantifies just how different rankings are between these important interfaces.


    I manually gathered both Google Maps and Local Finder rankings across ten different types of geo-modified, local intent search phrases and ten different towns and cities across the state of California. I looked at differences both across search phrase and across locale, observing those brands which ranked in the top 10 positions for each query. My queries were remote (not performed within the city nearest me) to remove the influence of proximity and establish a remote baseline of ranking order for each entry. I tabulated all data in a spreadsheet to discover the percentage of difference in the ranked results.

    Results of my study of Google Maps vs. the Local Finder

    Before I roll out the results, I want to be sure I’ve offered a good definition of these two similar but unique Google platforms. Any user performing a local search (like “best tacos san jose”) can take two paths for deep local results:

    1. Path one starts with a local pack, typically made up of three results near the top of the organic search results. If clicked on, the local pack takes the user to the Local Finder, which expands on the local pack to feature multiple listings, accompanied by a map. These types of results exist on
    2. Path two may start on any Android device that features Google Maps by default, or it can begin on a desktop device by clicking the “Maps” tab above the organic SERPs. These types of results look quite similar to the Local Finder, with their list of ranked businesses and associated map, but they exist on

    Here’s a side-by-side comparison:

    At first glance, these two user experiences look fairly similar with some minor formatting and content differences, but the URLs are distinct, and what you might also notice in this screenshot is that the rankings, themselves, are different. In this example, the results are, in fact, startlingly different.

    I’d long wanted to quantify for myself just how different Maps and Local Finder results are, and so I created a spreadsheet to track the following:

    1. Ten search phrases of different types including some head terms and some longer-tail terms with more refined intent.
    2. Ten towns and cities from all parts of the big state of California covering a wide population ration. Angels Camp, for example, has a population of just 3,875 residents, while LA is home to nearly 4 million people.

    I found that, taken altogether, the average difference in Local Finder vs. Maps results was 18.2% across all cities. The average difference was 18.5% across all search phrases. In other words, nearly one-fifth of the results on the two platforms didn’t match.

    Here’s a further breakdown of the data:

    Average percentage of difference by search phrase

    • burgers (11%)
    • grocery store (19%)
    • Pediatrician (12%)
    • personal injury attorney (18%)
    • house cleaning service (10%)
    • electric vehicle dealer (16%)
    • best tacos (11%)
    • cheapest tax accountant (41%)
    • nearby attractions (8%)
    • women’s clothing (39%)

    Average percentage of difference by city

    • Angels Camp (28%)
    • San Jose (15%)
    • San Rafael (24%)
    • San Francisco (4%)
    • Sacramento (16%)
    • Los Angeles (25%)
    • Monterey (14%)
    • San Diego (16%)
    • Eureka (25%)
    • Grass Valley (15%)

    While many keyword/location combos showed 0% difference between the two platforms, others featured degrees of difference of 20%, 30%, 50%, 70%, and even 100%.

    It would have been lovely if this small study surfaced any reliable patterns for us. For example, looking at the fact that the small, rural town of Angels Camp was the locale with the most diverse SERPs (28%), one might think that the smaller the community, the greater the variance in rankings. But such an idea founders when observing that the city with the second-most variability in LA (25%).

    Similarly, looking at the fact that a longer-tail search like “cheapest tax accountant” featured the most differences (41%), it could be tempting to theorize that greater refinement in search intent yields more varied results. But then we see that “best tacos” results were only 11% different across Google Maps and the Local Finder. So, to my eyes, there is no discernible pattern from this limited data set. Perhaps narratives might emerge if we pulled thousands of SERPs.

    For now, all we can say with confidence is that we’ve proven that there’s a good chance that the rankings a business enjoys in Google’s Local Finder frequently will not match their rankings in Google Maps. Individual results sets for keyword/locale combos may vary not at all, somewhat, substantially, or totally.

    Maps vs. Finders: What’s the diff, and why?

    The above findings from our study naturally lead to the question: why are the results for the same query different on the two Google platforms? For commentary on this, I asked three of my favorite local SEOs for theories on the source of the variance, and any other notable variables they’ve observed.

    GatherUp Co-Founder Mike Blumenthal says:

    “I think that the differences are driven by the subtle differences of the ‘view port’ aspect ratio and size differences in the two environments. The viewport effectively defines the cohort of listings that are relevant enough to show. If it is larger, then there are likely more listings eligible, and if one of those happens to be strong, then the results will vary.”

    Here’s an illustration of what Mike is describing. When we look at the results for the same search in the Local Finder and Google Maps, side by side, we often see that the area shown on the map is different at the automatic zoom level:

    Uberall Solutions Engineer Krystal Taing confirms this understanding, with additional details:

    “Typically when I begin searches in Maps, I am seeing a broader area of results being served as well as categories of businesses. The results in the Local Finder are usually more specific and display more detail about the businesses. The Maps-based results are delivered in a manner that show users desire discovery and browsing. This is different from the Local Finder in that these results tend to be more absolute and about Google pushing pre-determined businesses and information to be evaluated by the user.”

    Krystal is a GMB Gold Product Expert, and her comment was the first time I’d ever heard an expert of her caliber define how Google might view the intent of Maps vs. Finder searchers differently. Fascinating insight!

    Sterling Sky Founder Joy Hawkins highlights further differences in UX and reporting between the two platforms:

    “What varies is mainly the features that Google shows. For example, products will show up on the listing in the Local Finder but not on Google Maps and attribute icons (women-led, Black-owned, etc.) show up on Google Maps but not in the Local Finder. Additionally, searches done in the Local Finder get lumped in with search in Google My Business (GMB) Insights whereas searches on Maps are reported on separately. Google is now segmenting it by platform and device as well.”

    In sum, Google Maps vs. Local Finder searchers can have a unique UX, at least in part, because Google may surface a differently-mapped area of search and can highlight different listing elements. Meanwhile, local business owners and their marketers will discover variance in how Google reports activity surrounding these platforms.

    What should you do about the Google Maps vs. Local Finder variables?

    As always, there is nothing an individual can do to cause Google to change how it displays local search results. Local SEO best practices can help you move up in whatever Google displays, but you can’t cause Google to change the radius of search it is showing on a given platform.

    That being said, there are three things I recommend for your consideration, based on what we’ve learned from this study.

    1. See if Google Maps is casting a wider net than the Local Finder for any of your desired search phrases.

    I want to show you the most extreme example of the difference between Maps and the Local Finder that I discovered during my research. First, the marker here locates the town of Angels Camp in the Sierra foothills in east California:

    For the search “personal injury attorney angels camp”, note the area covered by map at the automatic zoom level accompanying the Local Finder results:

    The greatest distance between any two points in this radius of results is about 100 miles.

    Now, contrast this with the same search as it appears at the automatic zoom level on Google Maps:

    Astonishingly, Google is returning a tri-state result for this search in Maps. The greatest distance between two pins on this map is nearly 1,000 miles!

    As I mentioned, this was the most extreme case I saw. Like most local SEOs, I’ve spent considerable time explaining to clients who want to rank beyond their location that the further a user gets from the brand’s place of business, the less likely they are to see it come up in their local results. Typically, your best chance of local pack rankings begins with your own neighborhood, with a decent chance for some rankings within your city, and then a lesser chance beyond your city’s borders.

    But the different behavior of Maps could yield unique opportunities. Even if what’s happening in your market is more moderate, in terms of the radius of results, my advice is to study the net Google is casting for your search terms in Maps. If it is even somewhat wider than what the Local Finder yields, and there is an aspect of the business that would make it valuable to bring in customers from further afield, this might indicate that some strategic marketing activities could potentially strengthen your position in these unusual results.

    For example, one of the more distantly-located attorneys in our example might work harder to get clients from Angels Camp to mention this town name in their Google-based reviews, or might publish some Google posts about Angels Camp clients looking for the best possible lawyer regardless of distance, or publish some website content on the same topic, or look to build some new relationships and links within this more distant community. All of this is very experimental, but quite intriguing to my mind. We’re in somewhat unfamiliar territory here, so don’t be afraid to try and test things!

    As always, bear in mind that all local search rankings are fluid. For verticals which primarily rely on the narrowest user-to-business proximity ratios for the bulk of transactions, more remote visibility may have no value. A convenience store, for example, is unlikely to garner much interest from faraway searchers. But for many industries, any one of these three criteria could make a larger local ranking radius extremely welcome:

    • The business model is traditionally associated with traveling some distance to get to it, like hotels or attractions (thinking post-pandemic here).
    • Rarity of the goods or services being offered makes the business worth driving to from a longer distance. This is extremely common in rural areas with few nearby options.
    • The business has implemented digital shopping on its website due to the pandemic and would now like to sell to as many customers as possible in a wider region with either driver delivery or traditional shipping as the method of fulfillment.

    If any of those scenarios fits a local brand you’re marketing, definitely look at Google Maps behavior for focus search phrases.

    2. Flood Google with every possible detail about the local businesses you’re marketing

    As Joy Hawkins mentioned, above, there can be many subtle differences between the elements Google displays within listings on their two platforms. Look at how hours are included in the Maps listing for this taco shop, but that they’re absent from the Finder. The truth is, Google changes the contents of the various local interfaces so often that even the experts are constantly asking themselves and one another if some element is new.

    The good news is, you don’t need to spend a minute worrying about minutiae here if you make just 5 commitments:

    • Fill out every field you possibly can in the Google My Business dashboard
    • Add to this a modest investment in non-dashboard elements like Google Questions and Answers which exist on the Google Business Profile
    • Be sure your website is optimized for the terms you want to rank for
    • Earn publicity on the third-party websites Google uses as the “web results” references on your listings. I

    I realize this is a tall order, but it’s also basic, good local search marketing and if you put in the work, Google will have plenty to surface about your locations, regardless of platform variables.

    3. Study Google Maps with an eye to the future

    Google Maps, as an entity, launched in 2005, with mobile app development spanning the next few years. The Local Finder, by contrast, has only been with us since 2015. Because local packs default to the Local Finder, it’s my impression that local SEO industry study has given the lion’s share of research to these interfaces, rather than to Google Maps.

    Yet, Maps is the golden oldie in Google’s timeline (albeit one Google has handled irreverently with the rise and fall of the Map Maker community), and Maps has been shown to have three times more impressions than search, in one recent study. Maps is the default app on Android devices, and other mobile brand users often prefer it, too. Most intriguingly, Google is appearing to toy with the idea of replacing the Local Finder with Maps, though nothing has come of this yet.

    I would suggest that 2021 is a good year to spend more time looking at Google Maps, interacting with it, and going down its rabbit holes into the weird walled garden Google continues to build into this massive interface. I recommend this, because I feel it’s only a matter of time before Google tidies up its piecemeal, multi-decade rollout of disconnected local interfaces via consolidation, and Maps has the history at Google to become the dominant version.

    Summing up

    Image credit: Ruparch

    We’ve learned today that Google Maps rankings are, on average, nearly 20% different than Local Finder rankings, that this may stem, in part, from unique view port ratios, that it’s possible Google may view the intent of users on the two platforms differently, and that there are demonstrable variables in the listing content Google displays when we look at two listings side-by-side. We’ve also looked at some scenarios in which verticals that could benefit from a wider consumer radius would be smart to study Google Maps in the year ahead.

    I want to close with some encouragement for everyone participating in the grand experiment of Google’s mapping project. The above photo is of the Bedolina Map, which was engraved on a rock in the Italian alps sometime around 500 BC. It is one of the oldest-known topographic maps, plotting out pathways, agricultural fields, villages, and the people who lived there. Consider it the Street View of the Iron Age.

    I’m sharing this image because it’s such a good reminder that your work as a local SEO linked to digital cartography is just one leg of a very long journey which, by nature, requires a willingness to function in an experimental environment. If you can communicate this state of permanent change to clients, it can decrease stress on both sides of your next Zoom meeting. Rankings rise and fall, and as we’ve seen, they even differ across closely-related platforms, making patience essential and a big-picture view of overall growth very grounding. Keep studying, and help us all out on the mapped path ahead by sharing what you learn with our community.

    Looking to increase your general knowledge of local search marketing? Read The Essential Local SEO Strategy Guide

    Read the Guide!

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    Stop Asian Hate

    Posted by SarahBird

    We condemn the horrific acts of hate and violence targeting the Asian American and Pacific Islander (AAPI) community, which culminated in the tragic mass shooting in Georgia on March 17th. We mourn the loss of life and grieve with the families that have been broken by this latest racist, misogynistic hate crime.

    This is not an isolated incident. We must acknowledge the widespread examples of violence and prejudice, bigotry, and intolerance that have been building for some time. We’ve seen attacks on elders in the Asian community. Children face bullying from peers. There has been workplace discrimination, street harassment, violence, and vandalism. Since the beginning of the pandemic, hate crimes against Asians have increased tremendously. Anti-Asian racism is not new, but it’s been fueled by dangerous false rhetoric surrounding COVID-19. I challenge myself and my community to recognize the painful history of anti-Asian racism, to learn and understand the experience of AAPI individuals, and to use the power and privilege we have to stand up to bigotry.

    Why are we discussing this now?

    To do the work of combating hate in every corner of our society, we need to hold conversations about these issues, loudly and often. At Moz, we have a platform that allows us to shine a light on the darkness we’re facing. We have privilege that allows us to confront the uncomfortable. Silence allows hatred to flourish; discussion and accountability weeds it from the root.

    What can we all do to combat AAPI hate and support the AAPI community?

    Hatred shrinks from bravery. If you witness someone experiencing anti-Asian sentiment or discrimination, use bystander intervention training to inform your response. Intervene and educate friends and family that perpetuate harmful stereotypes, letting them know hatred cannot be tolerated. Seek out resources to educate yourself and share with your circle of influence. Show compassion and empathy to your AAPI friends, family, and coworkers, offering space before it’s asked. Listen to and amplify AAPI voices. Find and patronize local AAPI-owned small businesses — Intentionalist is a fantastic tool to use here. Support organizations fighting to make the world a fairer, safer place for all — we’ll share a few in the Resources section below.

    Perhaps most importantly, have courage. We cannot allow hate to go unchecked. Be brave. Be loud. Say no to hate.

    Many thanks to Kim Saira and Annie Wu Henry for compiling resources and education on this topic.

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    Anatomy of a Perfect Pitch Email

    Every Metric Is A Vanity Metric

    Posted by Dr-Pete

    Marketers can get caught up in specific metrics, focusing on those data points that make you look good in reporting, but don’t help you understand your performance. 

    In this week’s episode of Whiteboard Friday, Dr. Pete discusses the vanity we bring to the metrics we track, and how to take a better, more realistic view of your results.

    Anatomy of a Perfect Pitch Email

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

    Video Transcription

    Hi, everybody. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m Dr. Pete, the Marketing Scientist for Moz, and I want to talk to you today about vanity metrics. 

    So I think we all have an intuition of what that means, but what I want to discuss today is I think we get caught up in this being about specific metrics. To me, the problem isn’t the metrics themselves. The problem is the vanity. So I want to talk about us and what we bring to metrics, and how to do better no matter what the metric is. 

    SEO metric funnel

    So I want to start with this kind of simplistic SEO funnel of metrics, starting with ranking.


    Ranking via click-through rate delivers traffic. Traffic via conversion rate delivers leads or sales or conversions or whatever you want to call them, the money. Then beyond that, we might have some more advanced metrics, like lifetime value, that kind of get into revenue over time or profit over time. Naturally, over time we’ve moved down this funnel and kind of put our attention more at the bottom, at the bottom line and the dollars.

    That makes sense. I think it’s good that we’ve gotten away from metrics like hits. In the early days, when a page counted more because it had 200 images and 73 JavaScript files, that’s not so great, right? We know now that’s probably bad in some cases. But it’s possible to hold that mirror up to any of these metrics and get caught up in the vanity.

    I know we’re used to this with rankings and traffic. We’ve all had customers that wanted to go after certain very specific head terms or vanity terms as we call them, that really weren’t delivering results or maybe cost a lot or were very competitive.


    Traffic, okay, traffic is good. But if you’ve ever had a piece of viral content that went really big but ended up not driving any conversions because it had nothing to do with your site, you know that’s not so great.

    In fact, traffic by itself could be bad. You could be overloading your server. You could be stopping legitimate customers from buying. So bringing people to your site for no reason or the wrong people isn’t that great. 

    Sales and lifetime value

    So I know it’s easy to look at this and say, “Okay, but come on, sales. The bottom line is the bottom line.” Well, I’ll give you an example.

    Let’s say you have a big sale and you set everything to 50% off, and you bring in a ton of new sales and a ton of revenue. But let’s say I tell you that your profit margins were 20%. Is that a good thing? You just cost yourself a lot of money. Now maybe you had another agenda and you’re hoping to bring them back, or there’s a branding aspect. But by itself we don’t know necessarily if that’s a great thing.

    Just making more revenue isn’t so great. Even profit or something like lifetime value, this is an example based in real life, but I’m going to change it a little bit to protect the innocent. Let’s say you were a small company and you owned some kind of an asset. You owned some intellectual property, or you owned a piece of physical property and you sold that one year at significant profit, big margins.

    Then you look and you say, “Wow, this year we made 50% profits, and next year we’re going to try to make 70% based on that number.” That would be a really terrible idea because that was a one-time thing, and you’re not taking that into account. This is a bit of a stretch. But it’s possible even to take profit or something like lifetime value or EBITDA even out of context, and even though it’s a more complex metric or it’s farther down the funnel, you could miss something important about what that number really means.

    The three Rs

    So that’s the first thing. Is this a real result? Is that number going up necessarily good by itself? Without the context, you can’t know that. The second thing where I think we really need to look at the entire funnel and not get focused too far down is repairs, fixing what’s broken.

    So let’s say you track sales. Sales are going great. Everything is going well. Everybody is happy. The dollar bills are coming in. Then it stops, or it starts to drop significantly. If you don’t know what happened above this, you can’t do anything to fix it.

    So if you don’t know that your traffic dropped, if you don’t know that your click-through rate dropped, and let’s say your traffic dropped, you don’t know why it dropped, which pages, which keywords, what rankings were affected, did you have lower rankings, or did you have rankings on less keywords, you can’t go back and fix this and figure out what happened. So tracking that bottom line number isn’t enough.

    At that point, that has become a vanity metric. That’s become something that you’re celebrating, but you’re not really understanding how you got there. I think we’re all aware of that to a point. Maybe we don’t do it, but we know we should. But the other thing I miss I think sometimes and that we miss is something I’m going to refer to as replication.

    Yes, I tried a little too hard to get three R’s in here. But this is repeating success. If something works and you get a bunch of sales, even if it’s high margin, you get profitable sales, but you don’t know what you did, you don’t know what really drove that, where did the traffic come from, what was the source of that, was it specific pieces of content, was it specific keywords, what campaign was that tied to, you can’t replicate that success.

    So it’s not just about fixing something when it’s broken and when the dollars start to dry up, but when things go well, not just celebrating, but going back and trying to work up the funnel and figuring out what you did right, because if you don’t know what you did right, you can’t do it again. 

    So three R’s. Results, consider the context of the metric. Repairs, be able to work up the funnel and know what’s broken. If things go well, replication. Be able to repeat your successes and hopefully do it again. 

    So again, vanity, it’s not in the metric. It’s in us. You can have vanity with any of these things. So don’t get caught up in any one thing. Consider the whole funnel.

    I hope you can avoid the mistakes, and I hope you can repeat your successes. Thanks a lot, and I’ll see you next time. Bye-bye.

    Video transcription by

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    LSI Keywords: What Are They and Why Do They Matter in SEO?

    Posted by JessicaFoster

    The written content on your website serves to not only inform and entertain readers, but also to grab the attention of search engines to improve your organic rankings.

    And while using SEO keywords in your content can help you get found by users, focusing solely on keyword density doesn’t cut it when it comes to creating SEO-friendly, reader-focused content.

    This is where LSI keywords come in.

    LSI keywords serve to add context to your content, making it easier to understand by search engines and readers alike. Want to write content that ranks and wows your readers? Learn how to use LSI keywords the right way.

    What are LSI keywords?

    Latent Semantic Indexing (LSI) keywords are terms that are conceptually related to the main keyword you’re targeting in your content. They help provide context to your content, making it easier for readers and search engines to understand what your content is about.

    Latent semantic analysis

    LSI keywords are based on the concept of latent semantic analysis, which is a technique for understanding natural language processing. In other words, it analyzes the relationship between one word and another in order to make sense of the overall content.

    Search engine algorithms use latent semantic analysis to understand web content and ultimately determine what content best fits what the user is actually searching for when they use a certain keyword in their search.

    Why are LSI keywords important for SEO?

    The use of LSI keywords in your content helps search engines understand your content and therefore makes it easier for search engines to match your content to what users are searching for.

    Exact keyword usage is less important than whether your overall content fits the user’s search query and the intention behind their search. After all, the goal of search engines is to showcase content that best matches what users are searching for and actually want to read.

    LSI keywords are not synonyms

    Using synonyms in your content can help add context to your content, but these are not the same as LSI keywords. For example, a synonym for the word “sofa” could be “couch”, but some LSI keywords for “couch” would be terms like “leather”, “comfortable”, “sleeper”, and “sectional”.

    When users search for products, services, or information online, they are likely to add modifiers to their main search term in order to refine their search. A user might type something like “red leather sofa” or “large sleeper sofa”. These phrases still contain the primary keyword “sofa”, but with the addition of semantically-related terms.

    How to find LSI keywords to use in your content

    One of the best ways to find LSI keywords is to put yourself in the mind of someone who is searching for your primary keyword. What other details might they be searching for? What terms might they use to modify their search?

    Doing a bit of brainstorming can help set your LSI keyword research off on the right track. Then, you can use a few of the methods below to identify additional LSI keywords, phrases, and modifiers to use in your content.

    Google autocomplete

    Use Google to search for your target keyword. In most cases, Google’s autocomplete feature will fill the search box with semantically-related terms and/or related keywords.

    For the keyword “sofa”, we can see some related keywords (like “sofa vs couch”) as well as LSI keywords like “sofa [bed]”, “[corner] sofa”, and ‘[leather] sofa”.

    Competitor analysis

    Search for your target keyword and click on the first few competing pages or articles that rank highest in the search results. You can then use the find function to search the content for your primary keyword and identify LSI keywords that bookend that key term.

    For example, a search for “digital marketing services” may yield several competitor service pages. You can then visit these pages, find the phrase “digital marketing services”, and see what semantically-related keywords are tied in with your target keyword.

    Some examples might include:

    • “Customizable”
    • “Full-service”
    • “Results-driven”
    • “Comprehensive”
    • “Custom”
    • “Campaigns”
    • “Agency”
    • “Targeted”
    • “Effective”

    You can later use these LSI keywords in your own content to add context and help search engines understand the types of services (or products) you offer.

    LSI keyword tools

    If conducting manual LSI keyword research isn’t your forte, you can also use designated LSI keyword tools. Tools like LSIGraph and UberSuggest are both options that enable you to find semantic keywords and related keywords to use in your content.

    LSIGraph is a free LSI keyword tool that helps you “Generate LSI keywords Google loves”. Simply search for your target keyword and LSIGraph will come up with a list of terms you can consider using in your content.

    In the image above, you can see how LSIGraph searched its database to come up with a slew of LSI keywords. Some examples include: “[reclining] sofa”, “sofa [designs]”, and “[discount] sofas”.

    Content optimization tools

    Some on-page optimization tools include LSI keyword analysis and suggestions directly within the content editor.

    Surfer SEO is one tool that provides immediate LSI keyword recommendations for you to use in your content and analyzes the keyword density of your content in real-time.

    Here we see that Surfer SEO makes additional keyword suggestions related to the primary term “rainboots”. These LSI keywords include: “little”, “pair”, “waterproof”, “hunter”, “rubber”, “men’s”, and so on.

    Using LSI keywords to improve SEO

    You can use any or all of the LSI keywords you identified during your research as long as they are applicable to the topic you are writing about and add value to your content. Using LSI keywords can help beef up your content, but not all of the terms you identify will relate to what you are writing about.

    For example, if you sell women’s rain boots, including LSI terms like “men’s” or “masculine” may not tie in to what you’re offering. Use your best judgment in determining which terms should be included in your content.

    In terms of using LSI keywords throughout your content, here are a few places you can add in these keywords to improve your SEO:

    • Title tags
    • Image alt text
    • Body content
    • H2 or H3 subheadings
    • H1 heading
    • Meta description

    LSI keywords made simple

    Identifying and using LSI keywords is made simple when you take a moment to consider what your target audience is searching for. They aren’t just searching for your primary keyword, but are likely using semantically-related terms to refine their search and find the exact service, product, or information they are searching for.

    You can also use data-driven keyword research and content optimization tools to identify LSI keywords that are showing up in other high-ranking articles and web pages. Use these terms in your own content to improve your on-page SEO and attract more users to your website.

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