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the SEO cyborg - Moz 2018 (full edition)


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relating to creating sustainable organic search strategies, being able to pinpoint where to place search team efforts, and ultimately making sites that are engaging for users and make sense to bots

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the SEO cyborg - Moz 2018 (full edition)

  1. 1. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders the SEO cyborg.
  2. 2. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders fan of the color yellow-orange works for merkle (full-service marketing agency) technical SEO manager alexis sanders | @AlexisKSanders
  3. 3. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders proud member of the merkle SEO team
  4. 4. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders SEO is about understanding how search bots and users react to an online experience +
  5. 5. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders SEO requires bridging the gap between search bots, people, and our web experiences.
  6. 6. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders cyborg (cybernetic organism) n. a being with both organic and biomechatronic body parts, whose physical abilities are extended beyond normal human limitations by mechanical elements.
  7. 7. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders the SEO cyborg n. an SEO team that works seamlessly between both technical and content initiatives (whose skills are extended beyond normal human limitations) to support driving of organic search performance.
  8. 8. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders classic SEO model crawl index rank technical content
  9. 9. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders enhanced model crawl render index rank connect technical content signaling
  10. 10. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders technical + content =
  11. 11. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders today, we’re going to cover potential areas of focus, challenges, and actionable strategies for resolving
  12. 12. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders technical relationship with bots
  13. 13. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders more straightforward, yet nuanced challenge one
  14. 14. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders different CMS platforms, frameworks, new tech challenge one
  15. 15. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders 5 6 1 hard to quantify value challenge two 0 $
  16. 16. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders how much is identifying a 403 being served to bots worth? #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  17. 17. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what about a misplaced noindex ooo meta robots tag on an important page? #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  18. 18. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders technical SEO is like roots without a strong foundation, a site is like a tumbleweed
  19. 19. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders search at scale can be quirky challenge three sometimes we have to give search engines a <br/> w/ trillions of pages to sort through
  20. 20. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders google does not instantaneously render all JavaScript upon crawling. it’s queued.
  21. 21. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders crawl index render 1. instant, first wave of indexing 2. new links to be crawled 3. as rendering resources are available 4. second wave of indexing John Mueller and Tom Greenaway’s 2018 Google I/O JavaScript Session connotation: sites are being prioritized
  22. 22. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders bigger, more authoritative sites receive somewhat different treatment
  23. 23. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders sites in the larger click brackets correlate w/higher crawl rates SEO experiment w/GSC crawl and click data for ~100 clients
  24. 24. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders ability to efficiently find web pages crawl b/c if you can’t find a page on the Internet, does it exist?
  25. 25. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders pages can be found via links seed branch page Producing a ranking for pages using distances in a web-link graph, 9,953,049, 4/2018 MajesticSEO, Moz, aHef, and even GSC offer some great resources id’ if a page was discovered via backlinks
  26. 26. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders by a redirected page
  27. 27. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders side note: if you’re seeing weird pages popping up in site crawls or performing in search, check: □ backlink reports □ internal links to URL □ redirected into URL
  28. 28. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders sites can provide a list of URLs, options include: • XML sitemap protocol • RSS 2.0 • atom 1.0 • .txt URL list
  29. 29. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders Images: • XML sitemap protocol + <image:image> tag Video: • video XML sitemap • mRSS 2.0 sites can also provide a list of multimedia content:
  30. 30. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders pages and resources need to be obtainable
  31. 31. #MozCon | @AlexisKSandersreminder: crawl and indexing are different; if you block something in index you’ll get that ugly blocked messaging w/o robots.txt w/ robots.txt a good robots.txt sanity check: /robots.txt crawlable crawlable crawlable crawlable crawlable non-crawlable should be crawled should be crawled shouldn’t be crawled should be crawled should be crawled won’t be crawled
  32. 32. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders leveraging proper http status code extended UML visual of status codes: 4xx 5xx 3xx 2xx 302 301 410 404 503 500 issue w/ request ? server- side issue? page redirected ? temp?planned ? forever? HSTS?
  33. 33. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders organized information architecture for crawling including:  simple, clear, useful main navigation  relevant on-page linking  clear, crawlable internal linking (i.e., <a href="/">)  html sitemap available  footer links to tertiary content sitebulb crawl map of site
  34. 34. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders requires: deep understanding of user  what trends appear in search volume (by location, device)? common questions?  what pages get the most traffic?  what are common user journeys?  what are user’s traffic behavior and flow?  how do users leverage site features (e.g., internal site search)?
  35. 35. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders crawl budget • search engines don’t want to break your site • if site has billions of indexable pages
  36. 36. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ important pages close to root? □ no crawl traps? □ no orphan pages? □ all pages have purpose? □ duplicate content resolved? □ redirects consolidated? □ canonical tags on fleek? □ not using parameters willy nilly? crawl efficiency (all sites)consolidatedpage
  37. 37. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders ability to capture page’s essence render
  38. 38. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders challenge one JavaScript { _(); } #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  39. 39. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders is google rendering content? direct “quotes” from content indexed? using <a href="/"> links (not onclick();)? being served to search engine bots? in the DOM? google’s mobile-friendly testing tool + JavaScript console (click “view details”)? bonus: if using SSR make sure to check-in #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  40. 40. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders infinite scroll? should all of the content be indexed? AJAX – use History API + paginated pages w/rel="next" and rel="prev") view-all page – one page w/all content (probably not feasible) #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  41. 41. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders lazy load imagery? should images be indexed in image search? <img> tags in <noscript> tags JSON-LD  "image" attributes nested in appropriate item types  ImageObject item type #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  42. 42. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders challenge two CSS background-color: blue; #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  43. 43. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders CSS rendered? CSS background images not picked up in image search CSS animations not interpreted layouts for page are important (mobile layout; avoid excessive ads) #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  44. 44. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders challenge three images+ #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  45. 45. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders images? □ alt tags, metadata, and surrounding content are still important □ inline SVGs not picked up in image search #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders potential for improvement w/machine learning to improve, check out:, they’re interpreting text in images, facial sentiments, and finding exact references across the web with creepy accuracy
  46. 46. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders challenge four personalization #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  47. 47. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders trend in broader digital to target real, known individuals (not just proxies) proxies real peopleindex-based #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  48. 48. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders google doesn’t save cookies across sessions will not interpret personalization based on cookies, meaning there must be an average, base-user, default experience #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  49. 49. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders getting URL into google’s database(s) index
  50. 50. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders getting into index □ ensure URLs are crawl and render-able □ ensure nothing preventing from being crawled, rendered, and/or indexed □ submit sitemap in GSC
  51. 51. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders “mobile-first indexing means that we'll use the mobile version of the page for indexing and ranking, to better help our – primarily mobile - users find what they're looking for.” – google webmaster blog google's mobile-first indexing >
  52. 52. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ ensure parity between mobile and desktop: □ content (text, images, videos) □ structured data □ internal links □ GSC settings □ ensure appropriate <link> tag if mobile ≠ desktop
  53. 53. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders suggesting best representation of page signaling
  54. 54. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders • google maintains prerogative over choosing URL • theoretically, only crawl canonicals in HTML* • google will typically crawl the canonical URL canonical tags
  55. 55. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders • represent a collective series • not duplicate content • all URLs will likely be indexed; however, usually first URL in chain will rank rel="next" and rel="prev"
  56. 56. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders • indicate appropriate language/country • very easy to make errors • unforgiving hreflang
  57. 57. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ “international targeting” □ “url parameters” □ “data highlighter” □ “remove URLs” □ “sitemaps” ensure GSC settings = solid use caution
  58. 58. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders appealing to bots as best response, while also developing relationship w/ users content
  59. 59. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders does page have the best response?
  60. 60. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders are you known for this topic?
  61. 61. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders search engines arranging of pages rank
  62. 62. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ textual-content □ multimedia □ meta elements □ structured data on-page content
  63. 63. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ make content both people and bots can understand □ answer questions directly □ write short, logical, simple sentences □ ensure subjects are clear (not to be inferred) □ create scannable content □ define any uncommon vocabulary or link text-based content the average american adult reading level is 7th-8th grade, one of my favorite writing resources:
  64. 64. #MozCon | @AlexisKSandersvisual by @abbynhamilton use semantic HTML
  65. 65. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders structured dataunstructured data < > markup types JSON-LD microdata microformats RDFa (e.g. text) add relevant structured data
  66. 66. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders make accessible content □ accessible rich internet applications (ARIA) □ keyboard functionality □ text alternatives for non-text media □ transcripts for audio □ images with alt text □ in-text descriptions of visuals □ adequate color contrast □ text is resizable
  67. 67. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders how to find relevant queries?
  68. 68. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders research + intuition
  69. 69. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders intuition + data + testing = better strategic decisions intuition data experiments strategy
  70. 70. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders research keyword, landscape analytics, performance user, audience
  71. 71. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders audience research
  72. 72. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders find target audience: who are users? where are they? why do they buy? how do they buy? what do they want?
  73. 73. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what do they value? Social Connection functional attributes functional consequences personal consequences personal values constant connection always informed hyper- mobile competence and belonging appearing intelligent efficient contact
  74. 74. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what is their relationship w/ tech? RELATIONSHIP WITH TECH 79% Google users (index of 119) 50% find deals online (index of 120) 59% rely on Internet for communication with family/friends (index of 136) 63% agree Internet has changed way their free time is spent (index of 120)
  75. 75. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what do they do online? MOST PROMINENT ONLINE ACTIVITES 75% booking travel (index of 145) 72% information (index of 121) 60% news (index of 125)
  76. 76. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders engaging w/other brands? brand 1 brand 3 brand 2
  77. 77. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders map out user journey
  78. 78. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders fit content into priorities P0 content P6 content conversion potential generic, non-brand branded transactional research
  79. 79. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what does “best-in- class” look like? best-in- class  search performance UX focus on UX focus on SEO
  80. 80. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders how can we improve incrementally to become best-in-class? current state best-in-classimmediate wins next step progressive development
  81. 81. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders resonating with people connecting
  82. 82. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders connecting is about understanding that customers are human (and we have certain constraints)
  83. 83. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders it is constantly: filtering, managing, multitasking, processing, coordinating, organizing, and storing information
  84. 84. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders to become psychologic ally sticky we must
  85. 85. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders 1. get past the mind’s natural squirrel…wait a minute… refocus… the mind’s natural filter
  86. 86. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders a positive aspect of being a pull marketing channel is that individuals are already seeking out information, making it possible to intersect their user journey
  87. 87. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders 2. be memorable
  88. 88. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders the brain holds what’s relevant, useful, or interesting relevant (now) useful (later) interesting
  89. 89. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders searcher’s interest is already piqued (even if they aren’t consciously aware of why they searched for a particular topic)
  90. 90. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders which means we have a unique opportunity to “be there” for people.
  91. 91. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders simple philosophy: a great brand is like a great friend.
  92. 92. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders bonding nurturing relationship building trust maintaining rekindling meeting
  93. 93. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders do your online customers use adjectives they would use for a friend to describe your brand?
  94. 94. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders e.g., available, dependable, honest, trustworthy, non-judgement, listens, genuine, respectful, forgiving, thoughtful, caring, encouraging, compassionate, supportive, confident
  95. 95. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders degrees of friendship stranger friend i don’t know you, i don’t trust you oh hey, i see you exist i love you, man i’m intrigued by you i would like more you in my life
  96. 96. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ site = crawlable, renderable, and indexable □ all signals = clear, aligned □ answering related questions □ content is relevant, useful, or interesting □ treat users as friend overall presentation summary
  97. 97. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders creating compelling experiences for users + making sense to search engines =
  98. 98. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders fin.
  99. 99. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders sophia’s #ProudAunt when we made google’s ml cookies and used our family as guinea pigs. when she coerced me into donuts machine won best cookie (if you were wondering)
  100. 100. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders huge THANKS to technical SEO mentor @maxxeight Max Prin design support & creative sounding- board /in/garitreuble/ Garit Reuble work & life mentor /in/christopher-glarner/ Chris Glarner general support +Adam Audette, Matthew Grabiak, Abigail Hamilton, Brian Barna
  101. 101. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders THANK YOU #MOZCON! @AlexisKSanders /in/alexissanders
  102. 102. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders image icons: • • /gregor-cresnar • /becris • /freepik • /smashicons • /creaticca-creative-agency • /becris • • /chemex/62388/ • Monster by Ana Lourenço • roots by • Smiley Sad by Anu Prasadh Raja • smiley struck out tongue by Anu Prasadh Raja • Happy by Austin Condiff • Robot by Creative Stall image icon credits
  103. 103. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders humantechnical
  104. 104. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders some technical SEO tools: <h1></h1> monitor pages status render as search engines crawlers log file analyzers structured data tools robots.txt mobile-first <h1></h1> <h1></h1> <h1></h1> saijo george has a list of many more tools, check it out here:
  105. 105. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders some speed tools: dissect page speed google’s speed fixes prioritized speed report + "Network" panel "Coverage" report dev working environment CDN finder find server
  106. 106. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders also, analytics! performance analytics keyword analytics use analytics proactively to id’ issues, check out troubleshooting ideas here:
  107. 107. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders toolset keyword rankings content ideation links performance crawlers mobile-friendliness data
  108. 108. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders search engines must be able to find the page if a search engine, that’s actively looking can’t find a page, it’s going to be exponentially more challenging for user
  109. 109. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders GSC’s fetch as google
  110. 110. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders search engines need to have permission to crawl appropriate pages
  111. 111. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders idea: leverage what we know about a person to tailor ads and content. goal: improve marketing efficiency, build strong brand connections, and drive business value. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  112. 112. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders crawl/index mobile URL mobile page returned desktop page returned Mobile Result Meta description Desktop Result Meta description crawl/index desktop URL associate desktop with mobile URL google’sjourney searcher’sjourney no yes no yes yes no endrel="canonical" if (mobile version exists) if (user accesses from mobile device)
  113. 113. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders challenge five new web technologies and advancements #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders
  114. 114. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders googlebot smartphone (mobile-first indexing bot) Mozilla/5.0 (Linux; Android 6.0.1; Nexus 5X Build/MMB29P) AppleWebKit/537.36 (KHTML, like Gecko) Chrome/41.0.2272.96 Mobile Safari/537.36 (compatible; Googlebot/2.1; + #MozCon | @AlexisKSandersall details here:
  115. 115. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders chrome 41 vs 69: no HTTP/2 no service workers (for PWAs) no JS ES5/6 (e.g., JS let) no JPEG XR image format no preconnect or preload resource hint no brotli accept/content-encoding #MozCon | @AlexisKSanderscheck it out here:,chrome+69
  116. 116. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ add meta robots noindex <meta name="robots" content="noindex"> <meta name="googlebot" content="noindex"> □ remove URLs in GSC (temporary solution) removing from index
  117. 117. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders • getting people’s attention • being present in search where important • scalability of content • knowing what will resonate (and what may not) top challenges for content
  118. 118. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders toolset idea generator search volume analytics competitive metrics Keyword Explorer
  119. 119. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders tools
  120. 120. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders it all starts with a query query
  121. 121. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders which is surrounded by more colorful data personal data psycho-g query search history CRM data demo-g location purchase history language device query intent time of day web activity
  122. 122. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what non- brand queries are direct competition ranking for? your non-brand rankings competitor’s non-brand rankings overlap maintain opportunity
  123. 123. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what does “best-in-class” look like? best-in-class  search performance UX focus on UX focus on SEO 
  124. 124. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders search [center for plain language] click “five steps to plain language” training/five-steps-plain-language/
  125. 125. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders Trust Aesthetics Accessible content Easy to navigate Functionality SEO and UX goals being met? Are you 20% faster than competitive set? Pages must work for users to visit site and return Information architecture should enable user to find information easily Text should be visible, click elements should be spaced appropriately, etc. How appealing is the look, feel, vibe of the site to users Without trust, sites are utilities. Are appropriate sections HTTPS? Does the aesthetic inspire trust? How easy is it to convert? Can any bottlenecks be alleviated?Frictionless conversion Speed
  126. 126. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders is content relevant? 1/2 converting? repeat visits? visit more? KPIs: orders leads revenue page flow pages per visit existing customers repeat visitors visitor recency search? rankings featured snippets, PAA share of SERP clicks/impressions
  127. 127. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders engagement? sharing? referencing? bounce rate time on page/site average duration social media engagement likes shares views watch time backlinks: quality quantity is content relevant? 2/2
  128. 128. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what is relevancy? user interest what you want to say relevant
  129. 129. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ what is content already ranking? □ what types of queries? □ does content answer the user intent? □ share of SERP (market share)? visual is SOV from BrightEdge seed questions
  130. 130. #MozCon | @AlexisKSandersvisual modified from @smrvl via @DannyProl data information knowledge insight wisdom search volume query intent content gap personas content inventory competitive ranking potential content strategy
  131. 131. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders brand + non-brand questions plug URL in to google’s keyword planner
  132. 132. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders plug URL in to brand + non-brand questions
  133. 133. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders prioritizing keywords visual concept by @abbynhamilton search volume ranking potentialrelevancy
  134. 134. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what are they looking for? categories sum of avg. monthly searches category 1 category 2 category 3 category 4 category 5 category 6 category 7 category 8 category 9 category 10 grand total Beautiful relevant quote, “what you seek is seeking you” - rumi pivot keyword data
  135. 135. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders what are users asking in internal site search? relevant search filters narrow searches relevant sorts related searches what’s being searched here is important to your users
  136. 136. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders borrowing intelligence from other digital channels 2015 1994 1950’s PEOPLE BASED COOKIE BASED INDEX/ PANEL- BASED BEST Addressable PII Match Closed Loop BETTER Addressable PII Match One Way No Closed Loop GOOD Addressable Cookies Device IDs Closed Loop FIDELITYOFAUDIENCE
  137. 137. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders repeat visitors?
  138. 138. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders core demographic information? MEN WOMEN KEY DEMOGRAPHICS 62% 38% % OF SEGMENT AS COMPARED TO TOTAL AGE 19-21 22-24 25-29 30-34 35-39 40-44 45-49 50+ 19% 35% 45% 14% HAVE CHILDREN 14% $60K-$75K, $150K-$250K index high
  139. 139. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders map out user journey
  140. 140. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders can also use for services P0 content P6 content conversion potential levelofurgency generic, non-brand branded seeking expertdo it yourself
  142. 142. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders the average human brain consists of 100 billion neurons, capable of holding an estimated million gigabytes.
  143. 143. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders theories on working memory suggest that on average, we can remember 7±2 things 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 If anyone can recall of these in-person by end of MozCon, I’ll buy you a drink
  144. 144. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders content should aim to be relevant, useful, or interesting. relates resonates utility functional meets need quirky humor emotional
  145. 145. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ https:// □ limited ads in layout □ proof of claims □ relevant reviews and testimonials □ contact information is available and easily findable □ relevant information is intuitively available to users □ it’s as easy to buy/subscribe, as it is to return/cancel □ integrity visible throughout the entire process □ maintain credible reputation across the web inspiring of trust? w/o trust brands are utilities
  146. 146. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders most influential degrees of influence what you demonstrate what customers say about you what you say about you least influential
  147. 147. #MozCon | @AlexisKSanders □ is all content either relevant, useful, or interesting? □ does content honor user’s questions? □ are you treating users as you would a friend? □ do your users use friend-like adjectives to describe your brand and/or site? □ do brand’s actions align with overarching goals? connecting w/users