How Google is Connecting Keyword Relevance to Websites through More than Just Domain Names – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

We’re seeing Google continue to move beyond just reading pages, instead attempting to truly understand what they’re about. The engine is drawing connections between concepts and brand names, and it’s affecting SERPs. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand explains just what Google is doing, and how we can help create such associations with our own brands.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

Video transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re talking about how Google connects keyword relevance to websites, particularly how they do this beyond just the domain name.

Obviously, for a long time Google looked at the name of a particular website and the queries that were entered and might rank that site higher if the domain name had some match with the query. We called this the exact match domains or the partial match domains.

For a long time, they did have quite a bit of power. They’ve gone down dramatically in power. These days MozCast is reporting 2.5% to 3% of domains that appear in the top 10 over many thousands of search results are exact match domains. It used to be above 7% when we started MozCast. I think before that it was in the 12%, 13%, or 14%. So it’s gone way, way down over the last few years.

Google has gotten tremendously more sophisticated about the signals that it does consider when it comes to applying relevance of keywords to a particular domain name or to a particular website.

I’ll give you some examples. One is RealSimple.com. If you’re someone who does searches around home organization or gadgets for the home, or especially quick recipes, not like the long, drawn out recipes, but like 10, 15 minute recipes, cleaning products, physical fitness and workouts, makeup and beauty, all of these topics Real Simple always seems to rank on the first page, at least somewhere. I’m not talking about these specific terms, but anything related to them.

It’s almost like Google has said, “You know what, when people are searching for cleaning products, we feel like Real Simple is where they always want to end up, so let’s try and find a page that’s relevant on there.” Sometimes the pages that they find are not particularly excellent. In fact, some of the time you will find that you’re like, “That doesn’t even seem all that relevant. Why are they showing me that page for this query? I get that Real Simple is a good site for that usually, but this doesn’t seem like the kind of match I’m looking for.”

You’ll see very similar things if you look at Metacritic.com. Metacritic, of course, started with games. It’s gone into movies and now television. They essentially aggregate and assemble, sort of like Rotten Tomatoes does and some other sites like that, they’ll assemble critic reviews and user reviews from all over the place, put them together and come up with what they call a METASCORE.

METASCORES are something that they rank very well for. But around all of these pop culture mediums, PC game reviews, critics opinions on games, PlayStation games, TV show ratings, movie ratings, they always seem to be in the top 10 for a lot of these things. It doesn’t have to be the broad PC game or TV show. You can put in the name of a television show or the name of a movie or the name of a game, and it will often show up. That seems to be, again, Google connecting up like, “Oh, Metacritic. We think that’s what someone’s looking for.”

You can see this with all sorts of sites. CNET.com does this all the time with every kind of gadget review, electronics review. Genius.com seems to come up whenever there’s anything related to lyrics or musical annotations around songs.

There’s just a lot of that connection. These connections can come from a number of places. It’s obviously not just the domain name anymore. Google is building up these connections between terms, phrases and indeed concepts, and then the domain or the brand name probably through a bunch of different inputs.

Those inputs could be things like brand and non-brand search volume combined together. They might see that, gosh, a lot people when they search for song lyrics, they add “genius”‘ or “rap genius.” A lot of people who search for quick recipes or cleaning products, they add “Real Simple” or “Martha Stewart.” Or if they’re searching for PC games they look for the Metacritic score around it. Gosh, that suggests to us maybe that those domains, those websites should be connected with those search terms and phrases.

Probably there’s some aspect of co-occurrence between the brand name and/or links to the site from lots of sites and pages on credible sources that Google finds that are discussing these topics. It’s like, “Oh, gosh, a lot of people who are talking about cleaning products seem to link over to Real Simple. A lot of people who talk about cell phone reviews seem to mention or link over to CNET. Well, maybe that’s forming that connection.”

Then where searchers on these topics eventually end up on the web. Google has access to all this incredible data about where people go on the Internet through Chrome and through Android. They can say, “Hmm, you know, this person searched for cleaning products. We didn’t send them to Real Simple, but then eventually they ended up there anyway. They went to these other websites, they found it, maybe they typed it in, maybe they did brand search, whatever. It seems like there’s an affinity between these kinds of searchers and these websites. Maybe we need to build that connection.”

As this is happening, as a result of this, we feel as marketers, as SEOs, we feel this brand bias, this domain bias. I think some of the things that we might put into brand biasing and domain authority are actually signals that are connections between the domain or the brand and the topical relevance that Google sees through all sorts of data like this.

As that’s happening, this has some requirements for SEO. As SEOs, we’ve got to be asking ourselves, “Okay, how do we build up an association between our brand or our domain and the broad keywords, terms, topics, phrases, so that we can rank for all of the long tail and chunky middle terms around those topics?” This is now part of our job. We need to build up that brand association.

This is potentially going to change some of our best practices. One of the best practices I think that it immediately and obviously affects is a lot of the time Metacritic might say, “Hey, we want to target PC game reviews. We’ve got this page to do it. That’s our page on PC game reviews. All these other pages, let’s make sure they don’t directly overlap with that, because if we do, we might end up cannibalizing, doing keyword cannibalization.”

For those broad topics, Metacritic might actually say, “You know, because of this functionality of Google, we actually want a lot of pages on this. We want everyone, we want to be able to serve all the needs around this, not just that one page for that one keyword. Even if it is the best converting keyword and our content resources are limited, we might want to target that on a bunch of different pages. We might want to be producing new content regularly about PC game reviews and then linking back to this original one because we want that association to build up.”

Other best practices that we have in SEO are things where we will take a keyword and will essentially just make our keyword research very limited to the ones that have produced returns in our paid search account or in our advertising. That also might be unwise. We might need to think outside of those areas and think, “How can we serve all of the needs around a topic? How can we become a site that is associated with all of the keyword topics, rather than just cherry picking the ones that convert for us?”

That might get a little frustrating because we are not all content factories. We are not all big media brand builders. But these are the sites that are dominating the search results consistently, over and over again. I think as Google is seeing this searcher happiness from connections with the brands and domains that they expect to find, that they want to find, they’re going to be biasing this way even more, forcing us to emulate a lot of what these big brands are doing.

All right, everyone. Look forward to some great commentary, and we will see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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September 19, 2014  Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Outdated SEO Concepts People Still Think are Reality

Posted by katemorris

Blaise Alleyne

It’s on the internet, so it’s true.

The bane of the existence of all search marketers is old or incorrect information given to clients at
any point in time that they still hang on to. This post was inspired by an interaction with a client’s co-workers, people that are not thinking about SEO on a regular basis. This is not to knock them, but to bring to the attention of everyone that there is a continual need for education. These concepts have a way of hanging around.

And this isn’t about just clients either. This is about friends, parents, and partners. Does anyone else still get asked if they make pop-up ads when they try to explain what they do? (Just me? Crap.)

Doing research for this post, I noticed there are a ton of SEO misconceptions out there, and people are talking about them regularly, but many are related to content marketing or online marketing overall. I’m not covering all misconceptions, but those concepts that seem to be stuck to the idea of SEO and will not let go. Then I’ll give you resources to help educate the people that believe these misconceptions and alternate solutions to give them.


Hiding Cat by Aftab Uzzaman

Putting text behind an image

The inspiration. The client is struggling with balancing revenue and content on the page. There is a large image on the page now and we suggested editing the page to add content about the product. The question was asked if we could just put the content behind the image and solve both problems.

My client stepped in and answered the question wonderfully, but it brought to mind how many times I’ve seen overstuffed alt text attributes and content in a noscript tag that doesn’t match what’s in the Flash.

Additional resource

A Comprehensive Guide to Hidden Text

Alternate solution

In this instance, we recommended putting text below the fold for the users that wanted the information and keeping the current image for returning users. Balance that satisfies both user needs and the business goals.


Copying a competitor’s actions

This isn’t as obvious as hiding text, but it’s something that companies refuse to stop doing. It’s the concept that if a competitor is doing something, it must be worth doing. This goes for competitors ranking above a business, but it also covers competitors that the business just dislikes. We all have those competitors we want to “beat” and sometimes that makes us do things that are not fully researched and planned.

Amazon.com is my biggest annoyance. I can’t count how many times I’ve heard the reasoning “but Amazon does it” by major brands that other businesses look up to. Amazon, like most major companies, tests many things, and there is a different person behind each test. If you work for a large company, you understand what I mean.

Additional resource

Stop Copying Your Competitors, They Don’t Know What They are Doing Either

Alternate solution

Everyone is on the hunt for the best results and bringing in new customers, retaining current customers, and making other stakeholders happy. The way you beat competitors is to listen to your stakeholders (customers, clients, partners, employees, investors) and make decisions based on their feedback as well as what is going on in the market.


Sheer number of links equals ranking

This has been debunked so many times it makes my head swim. That doesn’t change how many people still think that the total number of links (as reported by a third party tool like Moz, Majestic, or AHREFs) is the sole factor in ranking. Want to do better in SERPs? Well, we need to hire someone to build us some links! I’m going to leave one screen shot here (Search: “insurance”) and then we’ll get into resources and solutions for when you have to face this.

Additional resource

Moz Search Ranking Factors

Alternate solution

This is more of an “additional solution,” as links and mentions are still very important, but as seen above, it’s far from the only factor in ranking. It’s best to explain the different ranking factors like content relevance to the query, some social data, query deserves freshness, local, news, personalization, and all of the other things that can impact ranking. Focus on a marketing strategy that will not only result in links, but also send new customers through those links and engage the customers into lifelong evangelists.


A loss in traffic means you’ve been penalized

The next two are focused on the issue of penalties. So many people are afraid of being penalized. I think this goes back to the days of black marks in your school record. That or people are worried about losing revenue. Maybe that.

The media gets involved with SEO when there is a penalty and so that is what most people hear about. FTD and Overstock types of situations. Then disaster strikes and revenue falls unexpectedly. After some digging, they find that website traffic is down. This paired with emails business owners get at least once a quarter (in a good year) from fly by night SEO companies telling them they can help with SEO, promise the moon and warn of penalties.

The only logical conclusion is a penalty! We have all seen it and most reputable agencies pipelines are filled with leads from companies in this exact situation. The thing is that we never know if there is a penalty unless we dive into the situation, but I have seen times where there is no penalty.

Many things could have happened including:

  • A developer added a noindex tag to a section of the site when meaning to add it to one page or they disallowed that section.
  • The site was redesigned with URL changes that can drop the traffic coming into many sites if not done correctly.
  • PPC traffic stopped due to a corporate card expiring and not being updated.

Additional resource

Guide to Common SEO Penalties and How to Recover From Them

Alternate solution

Rather than paying the first person that will call you back, first look into what part of the site lost traffic and where that traffic was coming from in the past few months. Did you lose traffic from organic search, paid search, referral traffic, or social media? Try to narrow down what happened and figure it out from there. If you’re sure it was organic search, look into the date and ask your developers if anything changed about the site. If nothing did, check Google Webmaster Tools for any messages from Google about a penalty. If you’re sure it’s organic search and there are no messages, that’s a good time to contact a reputable agency. 


Duplicate content can incur a penalty

Penalty by Daniele Zanni

I did a talk on this very topic a few years back at Pubcon. So many people don’t take the time to understand what duplicate content is and how to fix it. More importantly, there is a misunderstanding that duplicate content can cause or is a penalty. 

Most clients assume that having duplicate content will incur the “search engine gods’ ” wrath, and that just isn’t true (for the most part; I mean, if your whole site is a copy of someone else’s site …). Duplicate content is a hindrance to site performance most of the time, but most likely not the cause for a substantial drop in traffic and definitely not a penalty from the search engines. 

Additional resource

Google’s Guidelines for Duplicate Content


Alternate solution

Don’t fret. Take the time to visit Webmaster Tools regularly and check out your duplicated title tags and meta descriptions for an easy look into what might be causing duplicate content or crawling issues on your site. Maintenance is the best medicine!


A call to educate

Education by Sean MacEntee

We sometimes live in a bubble where we think people know everything we do and take for granted information like everything above. If someone asked you how to create a P&L Statement, could you? Maybe, maybe not, but you get what I mean. Take the time to answer questions, whether from clients or colleagues if you are in-house. You would be amazed how much more YOU can learn from teaching others. 

So what are your horror stories? Let me know in the comments below!


Photo credits (all images are linked):

  • Internet Open by Blaise Alleyne
  • Hiding Cat by Aftab Uzzaman
  • Penalty by Daniele Zanni
  • Educate by Sean MacEntee

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September 18, 2014  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

Ways to Proactively Welcome Women Into Online Marketing

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

A lot of my life’s work has been focused on increasing the visibility of women and other minorities in male-dominated professional fields. I’m not here to give you an intersectional Feminism 101 lesson or explain to you that institutional sexism is indeed alive and systemically present in online marketing. Instead, in the spirit of the Moz blog, I want to give you tips and tricks to make our corner of the world more welcoming to women. Several of these tips can also easily be adjusted and applied to other groups of marginalized people. Some can really just be applied broadly to life. According to our 2013 industry survey, 28.3% of online marketers are women, and at MozCon 2014, 31% of the audience self-identified as female (up 11% from 2013). We’ve been here for a while.

If this post gets your bristles up and you’re ready to yell at me in the comments, I ask you to 
check out the many resources at the bottom to help build the basics to better understanding the “whys” and realizing “yes, this is a thing.”

Equality doesn't mean Justice cartoon

In order to be better marketers and better people, we need to open ourselves up to the experiences of others, particularly to the voices of people whose backgrounds are different than ours. But because of how our cultural biases work, we often must actively and consciously work at creating more welcoming environments. It sucks to think we’re any less than awesome, and even when we consider ourselves non-prejudiced, our behavior can still support systems of sexism, racism, ableism, homophobia, transphobia, and more.

Let’s dive in and shake up the industry!


Never assume someone’s gender, especially in online communications. If you’re in doubt, either ask or use a gender-neutral pronoun.

If we had a nickel for every time the all-female-identified community team was emailed or Facebook messaged as “Dear Sirs” because we work for a SaaS technology company, we’d be rolling in nickels Scrooge McDuck-style.

Nothing can instill
imposter syndrome or make someone personally upset like being misgendered. Human culture is so sensitive to displays of gender and identification of gender that a misplaced “sir” or “ma’am” can be incredibly insulting. If the person being misgendered is genderqueer or transgendered, they may be even more sensitive due to the vulnerability of displaying to the world who they are as opposed to who society thinks they should be.

If you’re ever communicating with someone whose gender you’re unsure of, it’s better to ask than to use an errant pronoun. So rip out that “Dear Sir” and replace it instead with “To Whom It May Concern,” or better yet, something more specifically personal. Dump the he, she, or s/he and just use an epicene “they.” If emailing my team, try “Hi, awesome community team…” You’ll probably see better success with your request by not starting out on the wrong foot.


Girls vs. women: Refer to groups of adults with words that imply adulthood, especially in professional settings.

Perhaps one of my top offenses as a professional woman: being labeled as a girl or seeing another woman or group of women labeled as such. The worst is when it’s the “men and the girls” or “the guys and the girls.” Stop infantilizing women!

Again, this elicits imposter syndrome and also makes women appear inferior, as children have more to learn than adults. So please stop referring to us as girls and conjuring up images of pink, pigtails, and Barbie dolls. We’re professionals and grown-ups.

The girls are gushing... tweet

The tweet above was sent out by a company I’ve worked with and expected more from. The webinar was with two women I’ve also worked with and are some of the sharpest, smartest minds out there in our industry. They were talking about online marketing, and it was completely inappropriate for the company hosting the webinar to refer to them as “girls.” (Neither of these women worked or have worked for said company in the past.)

And before anyone mentions the phenomena of the term “geek girls,” let me take a moment to address it. I know there are many organizations that are working hard to bring the achievements of women in all forms of geekdom, including tech, and inviting more women to join that call themselves “geek girls” or have some variation in their name. This is fine. This is their group’s choice for self-identification, branding, and rolls-off-the-tongue alliteration. However, you would never say “All the girls going to Geek Girl dinners…” They’re adult women.


It’s not appropriate to have value judgments about the way a person looks in a professional setting.

Unfortunately, because women are too often seen as objects instead of people, those objects are given value judgements on their appearances. Women shouldn’t be treated like you’re picking out the best sofa for your living room. It doesn’t matter how cute you may think a woman in the industry is, she likely doesn’t want to hear it or doesn’t care.

Constantly judging women based on our appearances damages self-esteem. It entrenches stereotypes about beauty having been a woman’s most important asset
since she was a little girl. It also puts women who don’t fit up to traditional Western beauty standards—maybe they’re plus-sized, women of color, genderqueer, etc.—at a disadvantage to gaining the professional attention of anyone. Think twice before commenting to a woman how beautiful she is. Or, conversely, how unattractive. (Same goes for men, by the way.)

At the end of the day, what matters most is brainpower, so let’s actually act like it.

Hillary Clinton is asked about who designs her clothing, and she asks if men ever get that question.
When I think of highly successful women, who are constantly judged on their attractiveness, Hillary Clinton’s a powerful example. Do we pay the same attention to current US Secretary of State John Kerry’s pantsuits?

For more things not to say to women in a professional setting, I highly suggest reading
Ruth Burr’s Things You Think Aren’t Sexist, But Really Are.


Follow more women on social media.

Particularly on social media that’s public and open like Twitter. With networks like Facebook, many women I know actually don’t “friend” people they have met face-to-face or actually consider friends for safety reasons. Sadly, on networks such as Twitter and even the female-dominated Pinterest,
men are followed at higher rates than women.

In a perfect world, content on social networks would be shared based entirely on merit. We’d only share the funniest tweet, the cutest cat photo, the most insightful post on Google Analytics, or the best hack we learned today. The best people and brands would have millions of followers. We’d have no internal biases.

But the truth is that as the world gets smaller, in that we’re more connected, and as technology serves “smarter” content, we’re only going to see people more like ourselves.
Eli Pariser called this the “filter bubble.” And while he particularly noted the consequences of this in politics and being attuned to world events, this also applies to the experiences of people who are not like you demographically.

For example, over the Memorial Day weekend this past May, Google released a Penguin update. My Twitter stream was full of Penguin talk by male-identified SEOs. What were the women talking about that weekend? #yesallwomen. I couldn’t help but wonder if male SEOs, who followed other SEOs primarily, which is a male-dominated industry, even saw the hashtag actively in their streams? Did they know how big the #yesallwomen hashtag was until they saw news stories? I hope for the best, but realistically think about the bubble.

“The internet is showing us what it thinks we want to see, but not necessarily what we need to see.” — Eli Pariser

So how do we see the world we need to see? How do we work to essentially outsmart these built-in features? On Twitter, it’s actually pretty easy to find and follow people who aren’t like you.

Twitter’s own analytics and our own
Followerwonk will break down the gender of who follows you and whom you follow. Here are some breakdowns of my own Twitter account and those of my fellow Twitter-loving Mozzers, including the genders of the people we follow:

Mozzer Twitter followers gender breakdown

Here’s Twitter’s own analytics on the gender breakdown of who follows me (which I think speaks volumes about our industry as “SEO” is the top interest of people following me):

Gender breakdown of my Twitter followers according to Twitter Analytics

It’s worth noting that Twitter has categorized every account as either male or female. This is problematic because some accounts are companies, not people, and it discounts people who do not identify with either gender or are somewhere in the middle.
Twitter’s using a mix of self-reported demographics (what Followerwonk picked up), name categorization of gender, and natural language processing to look for gender signifiers. My recommendation for Twitter: join Facebook in giving people more gender options and toss those companies out.

Recently, our own Rand Fishkin took a close examination of his followers and those he followed back, in a concerted effort to follow more women on Twitter. Rand was pretty shocked to learn how many more male followers he had than female, and he was perhaps more shocked about my followers, given that my Twitter bio identifies me as a feminist and I tweet more about social justice than online marketing.

Rand wants to have a more gender balanced Twitter following

In addition to following more women, look at the gender balance of people you retweet and whose voices you’re helping amplify.
Twee-Q analyzes your last 100 tweets and shows the gender balance who you’ve been retweeting. Entrepreneur Anil Dash talked about how he spent a year only retweeting women. Even if you don’t follow Dash’s footsteps, it’s pretty eye opening to see just who you’re retweeting.

My twee-q score
I swear I did not stage this equal RTing result. Usually, I skew toward more women than men.


Create inclusive community guidelines or a code of conduct for your site, blog, forums, reviews, social media, events, etc.

As a community manager, I’m a little obsessed with keeping the virtual living room free of hatred, especially on sites directly owned by a brand. I love, for example, that the comments on the Moz Blog are actually valuable to read, unlike almost every other site out there.

It’s hard to backpedal and bring order to your community; we all watched YouTube integrate G+ and Huffington Post hire an army of comment moderators. But most of us aren’t managing a community with millions of incoming comments and forum posts. Community guidelines or a code of conduct give you more room to be explicit about expectations for behavior on your properties.

For example, Moz works in the SEO space. So while it’s not very
TAGFEE to put a spammy link in a comment, it saves argument time that it’s actually outlined in our community etiquette. While not directly tied to stopping discrimination, you can easily see how parallels in explicitly outlining what kinds of speech your brand won’t tolerate. “Be excellent to each other” can just bring on too many arguments from the person you’re moderating.

The allowance of hate-fueled user-generated content sends a signal loud and clear to women, minorities, and allies just what your brand is about, and this feeling is only amplified when we all meet face-to-face.

This year at MozCon, we implemented a
Code of Conduct. For those that don’t know, in the events space, there’s been an increasing awareness of harassment at conferences. One way organizers are combating it and making attendees safer is by explicitly laying out a policy against this behavior and how event organizers will respond to said bad behavior. Again, this should be solvable simply by saying “be TAGFEE”—or whatever other motto your brand chooses—but unfortunately, this is not the case.

Some of you have speculated about what happened to make the MozCon committee decide we needed a code of conduct.
We created the code to be proactive. This is just one more way to improve our conference and be welcoming to marketers of all stripes.


MozCon 2014 attendees having breakfast before the show.


Make your brand voice and design guides inclusive instead of exclusive.

Many people make employment choices, not to mention purchase decisions, based on “culture.” Culture is a nebulous idea, and while it’s formed by the combination of how people in your company act and brand perception, you can start out on the right foot. Culture’s not a top-down dictate, but the signals come from both directions, and a strong brand voice and design guide can help company communication on what’s implicitly acceptable and what’s not.

Most of us work for brands that are gender-neutral. We don’t cater to an exclusively female-identified or male-identified audience. However, we tend to adopt cultural tones that identify our band as a specific gender, and furthermore our industry as exclusive, instead of inclusive.

You’re probably thinking about how Moz’s own Roger Mozbot uses the male pronoun. While Roger’s name and his use of the male pronoun will likely never change, those of us who work on Roger as a mascot strive to make him as gender neutral as possible. He doesn’t use specific masculine language, and despite many requests from our community, he doesn’t have a love interest. Roger’s first love is SEO, after all. He’s beloved by all our community members, not just the male-identified ones.

Not all companies think about these nuances. For example, why is banking portrayed as a masculine industry? Why does it need to support stereotypes that women are bad with money, math, and the financial market? Doesn’t every adult need a bank account, retirement savings, and access to their money? Does the marketing-bias only reflect the hiring bias?

JPMorgan and Chase's hiring page
Who’s getting interviewed here? Who looks most like a banker? Who should apply here?

Brands who do live in a sphere where they can say 80%+ of their audience comes from a particular gender should also pay attention. If none of your competitors are going after that other ~20% of audience share, you have a market opportunity. At the very least, small tweaks to your voice—like using that epicene “they”—or adding a pop color not commonly associated with your industry’s dominant gender can make you the friendly, go-to brand for those who feel like outsiders in your niche.

ExOfficio shows actual customers fishing, not just models in the clothing.

Outdoor and travel clothing brand
ExOfficio is known for their fishing clothing. Fishing is considered a male market, but they do a great job making the same fishing clothing for women too. Sure, they might add in different styling and colors and offer some variations geared toward women’s fashion, but their imagery and their core offering of fishing clothing doesn’t shout out that these are women fishing.

Let’s also look at a cautionary tale of what can happen when brands try to be more inclusive toward women: the pinkification of the market.

While yes, this is marketed toward girls, not women, this fishing set nicely illustrates pinkification. Turning it pink and labeling it with Barbie somehow makes it “for girls.” But what really makes me upset is the language. Behold the “Purse” of fishing, which contains the exact same actual equipment as the Spider-Man one marketed toward boys.

While this may seem a bit consumer-focused, the products you put out the world and the marketing behind them reflect directly if someone can see themselves working at your brand. When I first heard Apple announce the iPad, my gut reaction was to ask if there was a single woman working on the Apple marketing/product team. Because to me,
this MAD TV sketch about the then-newly released iPad (possibly NSFW) said all the things I was thinking.

Conversely, if your employees know this matters, when something bothers them, they’ll likely bring it up. Recently at Moz, our team worked hard on new customer personas. At the end of the day, four were chosen as Moz’s current target market and the rest put on hold as future markets. While the personas were gender-balanced overall, it so happened that three of the four current customer personas were male. Because of Moz’s culture, multiple people approached the persona team questioning this. The team then pivoted to change the names to be gender neutral selections and edit the accompanying art and descriptive text to reflect this.


Publishing an image of your company, what’s the gender balance?

While we’re thinking about how your brand looks to potential employees, what images are out there of your company? Are they only men? Is there only one type of woman?

Recruiting at Moz

Unfortunately, this main image on our recruiting page presents Moz as looking for a certain type of employee: a young, fit, white professional, preferably with light-colored hair. This doesn’t reflect the actual makeup of Moz, especially at 140+ people. But what if this was the only image? What would a potential employee or recruit who didn’t fit that image think?

This can be particularly challenging for small businesses. You also don’t want your employees to feel tokenized for their gender identity or minority status. Perhaps it’s time to think more about what a photo means to applicants.
BarkBox had 30 employees in early 2014, and here’s their simple, yet more welcoming recruiting image:

BarkBox's recruiting image

It only takes a little extra effort to go a long way.


Include women in interviews, quotes, and other articles and events touting industry experts.

There’s simply no excuse for an article or an event full of industry experts and to not have the final lineup include a single woman. While there’s no “magical number” to achieve diversity, it’s simply bad practice when a lineup features only men. If you seriously can’t think of a single woman expert in your field, you’re doing something wrong.

There’s
a strong correlation between seeing yourself demographically and dreaming that you could do that job too. We all need inspiration and heroes to look up to and aspire to be like. And great marketers, we come from all kinds of backgrounds and make this industry a better place because of that.

If you’re a white man asked to speak as an industry expert, it’s time to ask who else is being featured or speaking. Turn down engagements that only have male voices. Ask more of authors and conference runners. If you’re the author or event curator, reach out to someone in the industry who’s opinion you respect for ideas of experts you’re not thinking of. I’ll gladly send you my binders full of women marketing experts.

SMX East 2014 speaker lineup
A sample of the speakers at SMX East 2014


When you witness sexist behavior, say something.

I saved this tip for last because it is one of the most powerful. Simply not keeping quiet and speaking up can change the world. We all have to work together.

“People will not listen unless you are an old, white man, so I’m an old white man, and I will use that to help people who need it.” — Sir Patrick Stewart

Unfortunately when women call people out on sexist behavior, it’s not as powerful as men saying the same thing. Same goes for a black person calling a white person out on racist behavior, etc. And when a woman calls a man out, she’s making a “political” statement and suffers real consequences in her life. Despite laws in many countries against these things, complaints of any kind can lead to economic consequences of losing jobs or clients and to safety concerns about harassment both online and offline.

A recent study actually showed that whistle-blowing or any kind of confrontation wasn’t even necessary for economic consequences. Women and people of color who promoted other women and people of color and/or valued diversity in the workplace received lower performance reviews than white men who did the same.

Male-identified friends, if you see someone or a company doing these things, please help and speak up. Please stand up for those who are doing this hard work and please be aware of your own biases.


More resources…


Basic resources:

White Privilege: Unpacking the Invisible Knapsack by Peggy McIntosh
The Male Privilege Checklist by Barry Deutsch
30+ Examples of Heterosexual Privilege in the US by Sam Killermann
Straight White Male: The Lowest Difficulty Setting There Is by John Scalzi
The Problem When Sexism Just Sounds So Darn Friendly… by Melanie Tannenbaum
Derailing For Dummies
Aamer Rahman from
Fear of a Brown Planet on “Reverse Racism”
8 Things White People Really Need to Understand About Race by James Utt
An open letter to privileged people who play devil’s advocate by Juliana Britto
Yes, All Men: Every Man Needs to Understand Internalized Misogyny and Male Violence by Tom Hawking
Roll up, roll up, to see a man talking about feminism. What could possibly go wrong? by Robert Webb


SEO, tech, and startup specific resources:

Not all men. Not all industries. But nearly always men in my industry by Martin Belam
Why Women Aren’t Welcome on the Internet by Amanda Hess
Women as Entertainment in the SEO Industry by Jane Copland
The Problem with ‘Brogrammers’: Why is Silicon Valley so stubbornly white and male? by Rebecca Burns
Meritocracy [in Tech] is Almost as Real as this Unicorn by Tara Hunt
Death by a thousand cuts: the reality of being a woman in tech by Meg Kierstead
In Tech Marketing Jobs, Women’s Successes Are Rarely Recognized by Laura Sydell
Eve wasn’t invited: Integrating women into the Apple community by Brianna Wu


Further resources:

On being an ally and being called out on your privilege by Andrew David Thaler
TEDxWomen Talk from Anita Sarkeesian about
Online Harassment & Cyber Mobs
Dissent Unheard Of, real and economic impact of speaking out by Ashe Dryden
Dos and Don’ts To Combat Online Sexism by Leigh Alexander
In Which We Teach You How To Be A Woman In Any Boys’ Club by Molly Lambert
The Confidence Gap by Katty Kay and Claire Shipman
“Raving Amazons”: Antiblackness and Misogynoir in Social Media by I’Nasah Crockett
Visibility Conundrums of Being Queer by Erica McGillivray

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September 17, 2014  Tags: , , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

How to Combine Screaming Frog Data with Google Analytics Data

Posted by Iamoldskool

I love Screaming Frog. It is without doubt the best SEO tool I use on a daily basis (no offense, Moz). The sheer amount of data you can get about your website, or someone else’s website, is incredible. You can find broken links, you can check for your Google Analytics (or any other) code on all pages through the custom search, and you can even go so far as to follow all the redirects and find out the redirect paths in a website.

In this quick guide, I’m going to show how Screaming Frog data can be used to help perform a content audit.

The data in Screaming Frog is incredible, but one thing it can’t do (yet…give it time) is tell you how popular your pages are. For that, you need an analytics package. We’re going to be working with Google Analytics on this one, as it’s probably the most well known (and well used) of the analytics services out there, and we’re going to combine the two data streams into one to give you a full overview of your content and just how popular it is. As this data is from a website I work with (rather than my own), I’m going to hide the URLs in the screenshots for obvious reasons.

Why would you want to do this?

Combining Google Analytics data with your Screaming Frog data has a myriad of advantages. You can get an overall picture of your site and identify any issues that are occurring on popular pages. You can see which pages within your site have no page views at all, or the ones that have very few page views. Maybe there are issues on these pages that become immediately apparent when you combine the two datasets.

Getting your data

Step 1: Screaming Frog

Spider the website you’re working with in Screaming Frog. Just type the URL in the box and click go, and off it goes getting all the data from your website.

Filter the list to just include HTML and hit export:

Step 2: Google Analytics

Head over to Google Analytics and go to the “All Pages” tab:

Set a decent data range of a couple of months so you get some decent data (especially if it’s a low traffic site), and set “show rows” at the bottom to 5,000 so you get as much data as possible.

“Hang on a minute, Jim,” you’re saying….I have a lot more than 5,000 in my list. How do I get the rest? Well, that’s a simple hack. Go to the URL at the top and look at the end of it for the 5000. It will look something like this:

Now just up that figure to cover all of your page views, and you’ll have a huge long list. I have 9,347 on my list, so I’m going to up it to 10,000.

Great. Now export that data to an Excel file:

Now you have the two sets of data in Microsoft Excel format. Next, we’re going to combine these two data sources into one

First step. Open them up and put them both into a single excel file on different worksheets, then label them so you know which is which:

Now, make a third empty worksheet for your compiled data. Here’s a view of the worksheets you should have at this point:

To make this work, we’ll need the URL (page name column) to be the same on both sheets. The Screaming Frog data contains the domain, where as the GA data doesn’t, so use find and replace on the Screaming Frog data to remove the domain up to the first trailing slash. The two data sources should now have URLs that match.

With me so far? Great. Now it’s time to link the data sets together and get that lovely combined data in your third worksheet.

Linking the data

OK. Go to your Screaming Frog worksheet and select all the data and on the formula tab, click define name – give it an easily identifiable name (I would name it the same as your worksheet).

Then do the same with the GA data: Select it > Formula Tab > Define name > Name it the same as the worksheet.

Got both of them defined? Groovy, time to put this data together.

Save your file.

Go to your third worksheet, named “compiled data.”

Then on the data tab, select “From Other Sources” then From Microsoft Query.

It will then ask you to choose your data source, choose excel file from the options and click OK. Then, find your saved Excel file and select it; you’ll be given the option to include your two named data sources.

Select both, and add them to columns in your query. Click next, you’ll then be presented with what looks like an error message (but isn’t really).

Click OK.

Then drag “Page” on the GA Data onto “Address” on the Screaming Frog Data like this

And, you’ll notice all the data from the two data sources below will reorganise itself.

Then, click file > “Return data to Microsoft Excel.”

On the next one, just click ok… and that’s it. You should now have a single worksheet with the combined data from Screaming Frog and Google Analytics to play with and do what you want.

Hope my little tutorial made sense and people find it of use. I’d love to hear what other people use this tutorial to accomplish in the comments :-)

Thanks all!

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September 16, 2014  Tags: , , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments

5 Hacks for Creating and Promoting the Right Content

Posted by Paddy_Moogan

In my last post on Moz a few weeks ago, I talked about the idea of paying to promote your content using social channels. Today I actually want to go a step backwards in the process and talk about content creation. 

1. How to verify you have a good idea

I could write a whole post on this one topic, but maybe that’s for another day! For now, I want to share a few ways you can make sure you’re on the right track and increasing the likelihood that you have a content idea that is going to be well received.

Made to Stick principles

I really like the book 
Made to Stick by Chip and Dan Heath. They go into detail about a framework that can be used to evaluate whether an idea is “sticky” or not. There are six core parts of this framework:

  1. Simple
  2. Unexpected
  3. Concrete
  4. Credible
  5. Emotional
  6. Stories

You’ll notice that is spells “succes” (deliberately leaving off the s at the end!) which makes it sticky to remember. I encourage you to read the book but I’ll quickly summarise each part of the framework so that you can get an idea of how it can help verify your content ideas.

Simple

Is the idea simple to understand and explain? A good way of testing this is to force yourself to explain the idea to someone who you previously haven’t spoken to about it. If you can do this pretty quickly and they understand it, then it’s probably simple enough.

The other thing to remember here is if you can’t explain the idea quickly and easily, then you are probably also going to struggle when it comes to promoting the idea using email or the phone.

Unexpected

This doesn’t mean that your whole idea needs to be totally unexpected, but there needs to be
something unexpected about it. It may be the design, an interactive element or a new story that has been crafted from some data. If you’re just doing something that has been done before and are not adding anything unexpected to it, then you may struggle to get coverage and interest. 

Concrete

When doing client training, this is always one that provokes confusion. So I’m going to use an example from the book itself.

When JFK made 
this speech in 1961 about landing a man on the moon, his wording was very concrete. It had to be because he wanted to capture the imagination and support of congress and the US public. This is what he didn’t say:

“We will win the space race.”

If he had said this, he wouldn’t have ben wrong. This is what they wanted to do right? However, it’s not concrete. What does it actually mean? 

Contrast this with what he actually said:

“First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth”

This is really clear for anyone to understand, you can see what JFK intends to do and there is very little room for ambiguity. 

Credible

There are two types of credible when it comes to content we may produce. 

The first one is the credibility of the author themselves, what makes them qualified to write on this particular topic? Are they an expert? Are they respected in their field? It would make sense to say that someone like Phil Nottingham is qualified to 
write about video marketing or being a pirate. But Phil isn’t qualified to talk about quantum physics or Python programming. 

The other side of credibility is whether or not the brand behind the content is qualified to talk about a certain topic. This is a mistake I see made quite often and quite honestly, one I’ve made myself. Sometimes, you can produce a piece of content with the explicit purpose of getting links which means it can go off topic a bit. A car insurance company probably isn’t qualified to publish an infographic about cats for example! Even if the infographic gets lots of links and social shares.

Emotional

How can you trigger an emotional response through your content? Ultimately, forcing some kind of emotional response is very difficult but can be one of the most powerful elements of this framework. I’d be careful here though because provoking a negative reaction can be dangerous and lead to bad feeling towards your brand. I’m not a believer in “all PR is good PR” – even if it generates links as a result!

Stories

The final element of the framework is whether your content tells a story. A story can inspire people to take action and a story can make people remember something. We always remember a great story, it’s programmed into us from when we were kids and not a lot changes, even as we get older!

Chip and Dan Heath recommend that an idea ticks a couple of these boxes but remind us that it’s very, very rare for an idea to tick all of them. There can also be times when an idea or piece of content performs very well and becomes sticky without any of these elements! However if you use this framework, it can help reduce the chance of your idea failing.

2. Use FullContact for audience research

It took me a while to start using 
FullContact but once I did, I really liked it and it has a range of uses. The use I want to talk about in the context of content creation is audience research.

For those of you that aren’t familiar, there is a feature of FullContact called person enrichment which allows you to gather more information about someone based on various inputs. These inputs currently are:

  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Twitter handle
  • Facebook ID

In the Excel template mentioned below, it looks something like this:

So you could upload a list of email addresses and FullContact try to find associated pieces of information such as:

  • Twitter account
  • Facebook account
  • LinkedIn profile
  • Klout score
  • Twitter bio
  • Location
  • Gender
  • Job title

You can download their 
Excel template here which allows you to do this kind of report without having to use the API yourself. To use the Excel template, you’ll need to go get an API key too. Once you have that, you can upload your data and start to enrich it.

So where does audience research fit in?

As you may have noticed above, one of the data points that FullContact tries to find is job title. Another data point is Twitter bio. You can use these points to get insight into your audience and tailor your content accordingly. 

You can with uploading your information to FullContact, let’s say this is a list of Twitter handles. These Twitter handles are your followers on Twitter which you’ve exported using a tool like 
Followerwonk. Once it’s finished running, you’ll have a list of these handles with related information if FullContact has been able to find it. Here is a snippet of one of my outputs to give you an idea what you’ll get back:

If you take the column for “Occupation” and paste the entire column into a word cloud tool such as Wordle, you’ll get something like this:

This gives you a really good, quick snapshot of the type of people who follow you on Twitter. If you’re looking to create content that will appeal to these people, you can immediately see where you may choose to pitch it. In the case above, this may mean we want to create content that appeals to senior management / marketing people and perhaps we should promote this content using something like LinkedIn where these people may be active.

3. Pay to promote your top content

With the right tracking setup in your analytics, it’s possible to see how content has contributed to conversions. Most content created outside of product / category pages is unlikely to lead to direct conversions, but it is perfectly possible for them to play a part in the process somewhere. 

If you use Google Analytics, then you can do to the 
assisted conversions report and then set the report to include the landing page URL for your content piece. This looks something like this:

Once you’ve done this, you’ll be able to see if any of your content pieces contribute to the conversion process:

Assuming they have contributed to conversions as the example above did, you can make a decision to try and send more traffic to this piece of content, knowing that it may help send more conversions. There are obviously a few ways to do this including usual organic outreach to try and get links. But you should also consider using some budget to send paid traffic to the content piece too. You wouldn’t want to spend loads of money on this because the conversion rate for the page is likely to be pretty low in comparison to product and category pages.

Having said that, using something like Twitter, LinkedIn, Outbrain, Taboola or Facebook advertising as outlined in 
my previous post could be a good way to send more traffic and more assisted conversions.

4. Find your content competitors and learn from them

Most of us have done competitor analysis at some point or another. The goal is usually to get an idea of where your website sits in the industry landscape and know what you’re up against. The problem with the usual type of competitive analysis that we do is that it tends to show us pure search competitors – based on similar product or service offerings. 

Your competitors in terms of products and services can be very different to those who publish content which competes with you. 

Let’s use an example to illustrate the point. 

A while ago at Distilled, we published a guide to social media for 
Simply Business. If we’d limited our competitor research to their direct competitor – websites that sell business insurance – then we wouldn’t have come across this guide from Mashable.

Clearly, Mashable don’t sell business insurance! 

By looking outside their immediate competition, we could see that the content idea had been done before. This meant that we could take a look at how successful the piece was and see what we had to do in order to be successful too. It also meant that we had to ask ourselves questions around whether we could do a better or different job on it. Remember the Made to Stick principles above? Those applied to us and we had to try and do a better job than Mashable.

There are a number of ways to find your content competitors but the simplest way is to use Google!

In the example above, it was simply a case of searching for “social media guide” and searching through the results. If you want to go a bit further, you can use the 
Moz keyword difficultly tool which gives you all sorts of metrics alongside each result too:

Whilst a goal of your content may not be to rank for many keywords (although it very well could be), these metrics are useful because it gives you an idea of how linkable this kind of content is. This is valuable to know if  goal of your content is links!

5. Find positive or negative sentiment from your target audience

When it comes to generating content ideas, one of the things you should think about is the mindset of your target audience. What causes them problems when it comes to your product, service, brand, competitor or industry? Going back to Made to Stick, this would sit in the emotional part of the framework. 

Once you can find something that causes them pain or causes them to be positive, you can use this to drive your content ideas forward. 

One hack for this which I’ve stolen from 
Mark, our VP Creative, is to use the following searches to reveal these kind of things:

These can reveal discussions from your target audience that are emotional in nature. The words love and hate are pretty strong, especially when being typed! So if you can find discussions that mention these words, it could lead you towards content ideas that your target audience feel emotional about in some form or another. 

To wrap up, I’d encourage you to also take a look at this slide deck from Mark which steps through his process for producing ideas, as it gives lots of examples of the things I’ve described above.

How to Produce Better Content Ideas from Mark Johnstone

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September 15, 2014  Tags: , , , ,   Posted in: SEO / Traffic / Marketing  No Comments



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