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Thoughts on BrightEdge’s Share14 Conference & Ferrari SEO Tools

September 17th, 2014

A few weeks ago BrightEdge was nice enough to invite me to their Share14 conference where they announced the newest version of their “SEO and Content Marketing Management Platform” in front of approximately 1,000 customers and search pros. I was sufficiently impressed by both the conference and the new features that I thought it would be of interest to my readers.

When it comes to industrial strength SEO tools I have historically been a bit of a luddite/skeptic. I learned SEO when there was no Google Webmaster Tools or Screaming Frog or BrightEdge. There were crappy text browsers like Xenu (Xenu was both awesome and awful at the same time) and Google. And there were always free geeky services like SEO Browser that kind of got you part of the way there, but for the most part you had to switch off your targeting computer, let go and use the Force…


Use the Force, Luke on Star Wars Video

Often when larger clients have expressed an interest in using higher-end SEO tools like BrightEdge, Conductor, SEO Analytics, etc. my typical response has been:

  1. You’re going to use it a few times in the first month and never use it again
  2. The actionable items you get are typically not actionable for you as they require page by page optimizations and the larger the website, typically the harder it is to optimize any particular page v. optimizing a template.
  3. For $30K/year (or whatever the going rate is these days – it varies by the number of keywords tracked. I think some monster brands that are paying North of $100K/year) you can license SEMRush, Ahrefs, SpyFu, MajesticSEO and 20 other SEO tools, cobble together a lot of similar data to these big tools and have plenty of dough left over for a great holiday party.
  4. The big advantage of these tools seems to be in facilitating communication/reporting amongst a large team, although they can also create confusion as yet another report/task tracker that the team has to keep track of.

So I approached the BrightEdge conference with more than a bit of jaundice in my SEO eye.

The first thing that struck me about the conference was its size and the makeup of both the audience and the speakers. According to BrightEdge there were about 1,000 attendees, many of them from large brands and agencies. And the speakers were straight out of a PubCon/SMX roster. The educational and networking opportunities were top notch. It made me wonder how this kind of event will effect the attendance at the usual search conferences. All in all, Jim Yu and co put on a great show. Note to Jim, if you ever get tired of building SEO tools, you’ve got a great future in game show hosting.

Jim Yu BrightEdge

So BrightEdge did a great job of warming me up to introduce their new toolset. Instead of doing a full review, I thought I would touch on some of the new features that made me start to reconsider the value of these Ferraris of the SEO world. If you want to get a run down on BrightEdge’s feature set check it out here.

Blended Rank
There are plenty of rank tracking tools that report on the various result types in a SERP (local, video, news, etc), but I found the UI for BrightEdge’s Blended Rank report to be a great way to get a quick understanding of how the different Universal result types were influencing rankings across a large keyword set. This could be quite helpful when deciding on a content strategy (e.g. should you invest more in local because Google is showing more images in your target SERPs). They also had a pretty cool report from their “Data Cube” that showed how seasonality affected rankings, which is something we often grapple with over here.

Content Optimizer
Content Optimizer is kind of like Yoast’s WordPress SEO plugin on steroids. It’s basically a keyword and link analysis tool that integrates into your CMS so when your writers are writing, they can get instantaneous recommendations on rankings, keyword targeting and linking. The tool also shows the content of other sites that rank for a specific keyword which is super-cool. This still requires some training for writers on how to think about this kind of data, but it goes a long way towards solving the problem we often face when writers get trained and then kind of forget everything after a couple of weeks. A very cool feature.

BrightEdge Community Edition
BrightEdge Data Cube
This was by far my favorite feature. During the conference a client had emailed me asking why a competitor ranked above them for a specific keyword. Normally this would require looking at the ranking URL, checking backlinks and internal links and then making some assumptions as to how they all worked together. BrightEdge’s Community Edition appears to make that task a lot easier and faster. They basically have boiled down all of BrightEdge’s functionality into a browser plugin so when you hover over a page, you can see all of the critical SEO info on the page (rankings, links, etc.) in a pop-up. The tool hasn’t been released yet but I kind of wanted it when I saw it. It felt like seeing a new iPhone.

As I said at the get-go, a lot of this functionality can already be had by cobbling together various SEO tools, but just as Apple has become quite good at taking stuff that already existed, like phones with Internet connections, and making them better, I think the BrightEdge team may have taken the game to the next level, particularly for sites that have a large, complex keyword set and are willing to work at a page-by-page level.

I guess I am still a luddite/skeptic, but after attending Share14, I am starting to get the big SEO tool religion. I guess we’ll have to see what Conductor announces at its C3 conference in a few weeks and how it compares, but BrightEdge has certainly come a long way from its origins as a fancy rank tracking tool.

→ 2 CommentsTags: SEO Tools
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Another Carousel Replacement Being Tested?

September 3rd, 2014

It looks like Google is testing yet another carousel replacement. This time it’s with the different “Points of Interest” searches in specific geos. This one looks different then the previous “new” carousel replacement that we had seen. So for those of you keeping score at home there are currently 3 carousels/replacements out there:

1) The newest addition to the bunch is this points of interest test, which certainly looks like a continued mobilization of SERPs. As David points out in the comments this is the same interface that Google uses for zip code searches.

New Google Local Points of Interest Carousel|

2) There is the old new pack results that was making its rounds a few weeks ago and replacing the carousel in some verticals.

Ft. Lauderdale Movers

3) And of course the OG original Google Local Carousel

OG Google Local Carousel

Any other new local SERP features out there that we haven’t seen yet? Let us know in the comments!

 

*Update

No need to speculate, it does look great on mobile

Mobile Points of Interest Carousel

→ 8 CommentsTags: Google · Google News
Posted by Dan Leibson

THE TOP 5 USES FOR THE REL=AUTHOR TAG

August 28th, 2014

1. Stick under wobbly table legs

2. Supplement for low carb diets

3. Bitcoin alternative

4. Keep kids occupied at restaurants

5. Wrap dead fish

http://searchengineland.com/goodbye-google-authorship-201975

 

→ 5 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Why Fixing Bad N.A.P. Data Issues Sucks

August 25th, 2014

Nyagoslav (think Cher, Michael, Brittany, etc.) gets all OCD on my recent post where I used our NAP Hunter extension to surface some bogus N.A.P. data issues. He really peels back the rotten onion:

“The NPI registry is one of the most trustworthy data sources in the medical industry, so the chances that this was the initial source of the bad data are very high. What is of particular interest is the fact that the NPI record was last updated on December 15, 2011, more than two and a half years ago, and there are still listings online that feature that outdated information.”

and

“Since I know that Citysearch gets data from InfoGroup, this lead me to guess that there was a listing on Infogroup that might have featured the incorrect information, but had been updated at some point in the past on ExpressUpdate.com. And, if so, it’s possible that the data made its way to Google via Infogroup, which is an official data partner of Google.

But I was left with the remaining questions:

  1. Where did Infogroup get the data from?
  2. Where did Factual get the data from?”

I have four reactions to Nyago’s work:

  1. I agree that my superficial analysis may not have solved the mystery
  2. While InfoGroup and Acxiom may have direct feeds into Google, Nyago does not take into account that Google’s crawlers may have found the data on its own from any number of sources and taken it as the source of truth. Only Google knows for sure at this point.
  3. Solving problems with bad N.A.P. data sucks. It’s the equivalent of taking a pork chop to a gun fight.
  4. Nyago should seek professional help for his unhealthy obsession. I am thinking a G+ Hangout Intervention this Wednesday at 11am PT. + me if you’re in.

→ 11 CommentsTags: Local Data
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Do HTTPS URLs Impact SEO?

August 25th, 2014

A couple of weeks ago Google announced that it would be using HTTPS URLs as a “lightweight ranking signal”. I have not switched any sites yet, but I thought it would be interesting to observe what has happened to client sites that were already using HTTPS URLs.

I took out a few outliers – one site had a lot of publicity, another implemented some SEO upgrades – but the rest had not done anything out of the ordinary to make their traffic go one way or another. There also may be some seasonality at play, but six out of nine HTTPS sites are on their way up.  It’s also interesting that most of the “product” e-commerce sites are down while “service” e-commerce sites are up.

So the answer is…maybe.

Google Traffic to HTTPs Sites 8/3-8/23 v 7/13-8/2

Directory Site: Up 40% From Small Base
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.50.38 PM

Service E-Commerce Site: Up 14%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.14.11 PM

Travel Site: Up 9%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.56.52 PM

Service E-Commerce Site: Up 5% After Flat For 2 Months
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.49.23 PM

Service E-Commerce Site: Up 4% After Flat for 1 Month
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.52.52 PM

Clothing E-Commerce: Up 3%

Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.03.46 PM

Product E-Commerce Site: Down 1% But Trending Upwards Since 8/3
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 9.43.45 PM

Food E-Commerce: Down 3%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.02.31 PM

Clothing E-Commerce Site: Down 4%
Screen Shot 2014-08-24 at 10.13.05 PM

 

→ 8 CommentsTags: Technical SEO
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Google Local Desktop SERPs Continue To Get More Mobile

August 18th, 2014

Seems like every day we stumble onto a new Google Pigeon test bucket.  Here’s a desktop SERP for “ft. lauderdale movers” that looks pretty mobilicious:

Ft. Lauderdale Movers

When you click on the “More movers” link (which had disappeared in a lot of post-Pigeon SERPs), you get another mobile-looking ordered list:

More Movers

And of course it’s full of Pigeon Poop SPAM.

We’re also seeing a service radius in the Knowledge Graph box for one of the listings. Don’t recall seeing that before:  (As Linda points out in the comments, this has been around for a while. Didn’t have my coffee yet when I posted.)

Service Area Local Knowledge Graph

Anyone else seeing these or other variations?

*Update - 

When you click on one of the tiles in the pack it does a branded + geo search like in the screenshot below:

New pack results trigger a branded + geo search

→ 7 CommentsTags: Google Pigeon Poop
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Google Local Icons & New Real Estate Snippets Spotted

August 12th, 2014

As Google morphs SERP design from desktop to mobile, it appears that it has decided that reading words is perhaps too much to ask of our educationally-challenged fellow users. And so it is now testing icons in the mobile results as shown below:

Google Local Icons

I guess it’s easier to click on a cute picture than try to read text while you’re driving right?

Rivers Pearce of Boomtown ROI just sent me this screenshot. It’s from results from the iOS Google Search App. The “Send to Mobile Phone” and “Driving Directions” icons appear next to a personalized result (but they are not clickable so WTF?). Angela Tice of Boomtown is in River’s G+ circle and had posted a link to LiveLoveMaryland.com on G+, so the icons may be triggered by the G+ connection and/or the implementation of Schema.org markup and/or Live Love Maryland’s Google My Business Page.

We are also seeing open house times and location snippets appear with real estate aggregator results in the SERPs. I have not seen that one before:

Real Estate Snippets

It’s getting interesting out there folks…

→ 4 CommentsTags: Google · Google Maps
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Paid Local Pack Results?

August 12th, 2014

Our friends over at Moz saw a new SERP feature pop up in their MozCast.

Paid Local Pack?

Notice the lovely paid ads dressed up as a local pack result? While this is a test, and nothing but a test, is it also a continued acknowledgement from Google that their current methods of dealing with Local search results suck? Or maybe it’s an acknowledgement that local data sucks and Google isn’t making enough money from local to throw serious resources into attempting to crack that nut.

→ 5 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Dan Leibson

Is Pigeon An Acknowledgement That Google & SMBs Suck At Local?

August 7th, 2014

Steve Shackford‘s tweet got me thinking:

 

We are definitely seeing a lot more national-local directory type sites showing up at the top of local SERPs as a result of Google removing or de-emphasizing the local pack results. For the most part I am seeing strong brands like Yelp, TripAdvisor & Zillow basically maintaining their high rankings now often unencumbered by those pesky Google My Business pack results.

There has been a lot of speculation, particularly by me, that this update is a continuation of Google’s drive to bias the search experience in favor of mobile users. But I wonder if this update is also an acknowledgement that people actually prefer these national-local directory type sites v. having to hunt through a seemingly random collection of local business pages or Los Links?

Song to ponder this to: Sabotage

→ 6 CommentsTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland

Google’s Top Heavy Ad Algorithm & The SEO Catch-22

August 6th, 2014

Catch 22 cover

 

The SEO Catch-22:

  1. You’ve done all of the typical technical and content SEO stuff but your organic traffic keeps trending downwards
  2. Your SEO guy suspects the culprits are the above-the-fold in-content Adsense units designed to look like content
  3. Problem is they are your top performing ad units by a factor of at least 10x
  4. Fix the ad units and maybe your traffic will turn around, but for sure your revenue will dive before then
  5. Don’t fix the ad units and maybe your traffic will continue to tank and your revenue will dive

 ”…a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane, he had to fly them. If he flew them, he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to, he was sane and had to.” 

→ 1 CommentTags: Google
Posted by Andrew Shotland