Add value to your website by utilizing free resources from the design community. Here is a list of new web tools and design elements from winter 2019. There are designer and developer apps, coding resources, color tools, fonts, and more. All of these are free.
Free Design Tools
Best of 2018 UX Design Case Studies is the recent addition of the annual celebration of designers sharing their process through detailed and thoughtful stories. The top picks have been selected by the members of Case Study Club.
“If you want your posts to rank, you should write about long tail keywords”. You’ve probably seen this common SEO advice before. But what do we mean by long tail keywords? And why should you write about them? Here, we’ll explain what long tail keywords are and how they can help you rank. Including examples!
What are long tail keywords?
In SEO, we distinguish between head keywords and long tail keywords. A long tail keyword is more specific than a head keyword, and most of the times – but not necessarily – it consists of more words. The head keyword is a general term lots of people write about. A long tail keyword is a more specific topic or a subtopic of the head term. Usually, less people create content about this topic.
How do they help you rank?
The idea is quite simple. As mentioned above, there is less content on the web about long tail keywords, because less people have written about them. Less content means less competition! Because the competition isn’t that fierce, it’s easier to beat other web pages with content about long tail keywords in search engines.
In addition, you might find that it’s easier to target a specific search intent with long tail keywords. Search intent is the why behind a search: does someone just want information or is he/she looking to buy something? Or something else entirely?
Google announced Thursday on Twitter that it has officially removed several of the old reports within the old Google Search Console. This comes as no surprise as we reported earlier that Google would be dropping these reports on December 13.
Which reports were removed? Google removed several reports from the old version of the Google Search Console. The specific reports that were removed include the AMP, Index Status, Links, Manual Actions, Mobile Usability, Rich Cards, and Search Analytics reports.
Don’t worry. Google has replacement reports in the new version of Google Search Console. Some have the same name, such as the manual actions report, while others have new names like the old Search Analytics report is now known as the Performance report. Every report Google removed to date has a similar version in the new Google Search Console.
There are still many other reports that have remained in the old version of the Google Search Console at this point in time.
What does it look like? Google posted notices and hyperlink buttons to communicate that the old reports were removed and how users can access the new reports. Here are screen shots from a few of these old reports:
Have a problem? If you have a problem with the new reports, Google said you should submit feedback through the new Google Search Console. You can do that from the menu by clicking on submit feedback.
Organic search remains the most important step in the purchase funnel. But with hundreds, thousands, tens of thousands, and even millions of pages, sites, social conversations, images and keywords to manage and optimize, SEO has become increasingly complicated and time-consuming. Using an enterprise SEO platform can increase efficiency and productivity while reducing the time and errors involved in managing organic search campaigns.
…but please don’t come away with the wrong storyline from this statistic.
As local brands and their marketers watch Google play Trojan horse, shifting from top benefactor to top competitor by replacing former “free” publicity with paid packs, Local Service Ads, zero-click SERPs, and related structures, it’s no surprise to see forum members asking, “Do I even need a website anymore?”
Our answer to this question is,“Yes, you’ve never needed a website more than you will in 2019.” In this post, we’ll examine:
Why it looks like local businesses don’t need websites
Statistical proofs of why local businesses need websites now more than ever
The current status of local business websites and most-needed improvements
How Google stopped bearing so many gifts
Within recent memory, a Google query with local intent brought up a big pack of ten nearby businesses, with each entry taking the user directly to these brands’ websites for all of their next steps. A modest amount of marketing effort was rewarded with a shower of Google gifts in the form of rankings, traffic, and conversions.
Then these generous SERPs shrank to seven spots, and then three, with the mobile sea change thrown into the bargain and consisting of layers and layers of Google-owned interfaces instead of direct-to-website links. In 2018, when we rustle through the wrapping paper, the presents we find from Google look cheaper, smaller, and less magnificent.
Consider these five key developments:
1) Zero-click mobile SERPs
This slide from a recent presentation by Rand Fishkin encapsulates his findings regarding the growth of no-click SERPs between 2016–2018. Mobile users have experienced a 20% increase in delivery of search engine results that don’t require them to go any deeper than Google’s own interface.
At last count, Google’s Local Service Ads program via which they interposition themselves as the paid lead gen agent between businesses and consumers has taken over 23 business categories in 77 US cities.
4) Even your branded SERPs don’t belong to you
When a user specifically searches for your brand and your Google Knowledge Panel pops up, you can likely cope with the long-standing “People Also Search For” set of competitors at the bottom of it. But that’s not the same as Google allowing Groupon to advertise at the top of your KP, or putting lead gen from Doordash and GrubHub front and center to nickel and dime you on your own customers’ orders.
5) Google is being called the new “homepage” for local businesses
As highlighted at the beginning of this post, 64% of marketers agree that Google is becoming the new “homepage” for local businesses. This concept, coined by Mike Blumenthal, signifies that a user looking at a Google Knowledge Panel can get basic business info, make a phone call, get directions, book something, ask a question, take a virtual tour, read microblog posts, see hours of operation, thumb through photos, see busy times, read and leave reviews. Without ever having to click through to a brand’s domain, the user may be fully satisfied.
“Nothing is enough for the man to whom enough is too little.” – Epicurus
There are many more examples we could gather, but they can all be summed up in one way: None of Google’s most recent local initiatives are about driving customers to brands’ own websites. Local SERPs have shrunk and have been re-engineered to keep users within Google’s platforms to generate maximum revenue for Google and their partners.
You may be as philosophical as Epicurus about this and say that Google has every right to be as profitable as they can with their own product, even if they don’t really need to siphon more revenue off local businesses. But if Google’s recent trajectory causes your brand or agency to conclude that websites have become obsolete in this heavily controlled environment, please keep reading.
What this means is that businesses which rank highly organically are very likely to have high associated local pack rankings. In the following screenshot, if you take away the directory-type platforms, you will see how the brand websites ranking on page 1 for “deli athens ga” are also the two businesses that have made it into Google’s local pack:
How often do the top 3 Google local pack results also have a 1st page organic rankings?
In a small study, we looked at 15 head keywords across 7 US cities and towns. This yielded 315 possible entries in Google’s local pack. Of that 315, 235 of the businesses ranking in the local packs also had page 1 organic rankings. That’s a 75% correlation between organic website rankings and local pack presence.
*It’s worth noting that where local and organic results did not correlate, it was sometimes due the presence of spam GMB listings, or to mystery SERPs that did not make sense at first glance — perhaps as a result of Google testing, in some cases.
Additionally, many local businesses are not making it to the first page of Google anymore in some categories because the organic SERPs are inundated with best-of lists and directories. Often, local business websites were pushed down to the second page of the organic results. In other words, if spam, “best-ofs,” and mysteries were removed, the local-organic correlation would likely be much higher than 75%.
Further, one recent study found that even when Google’s Local Service Ads are present, 43.9% of clicks went to the organic SERPs. Obviously, if you can make it to the top of the organic SERPs, this puts you in very good CTR shape from a purely organic standpoint.
Your takeaway from this
The local businesses you market may not be able to stave off the onslaught of Google’s zero-click SERPs, paid SERPs, and lead gen features, but where “free” local 3-packs still exist, your very best bet for being included in them is to have the strongest possible website. Moreover, organic SERPs remain a substantial source of clicks.
Far from it being the case that websites have become obsolete, they are the firmest bedrock for maintaining free local SERP visibility amidst an increasing scarcity of opportunities.
This calls for an industry-wide doubling down on organic metrics that matter most.
Bridging the local-organic gap
“We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act, but a habit.” – Aristotle
When asked which one task 1,411 marketers want clients to devote more resources to, it’s no coincidence that 66% listed a website-oriented asset. This includes local content development, on-site optimization, local link building, technical analysis of rankings/traffic/conversions, and website design as shown in the following Moz survey graphic:
In an environment in which websites are table stakes for competitive local pack rankings, virtually all local businesses not only need one, but they need it to be as strong as possible so that it achieves maximum organic rankings.
What makes a website strong?
The Moz Beginner’s Guide to SEO offers incredibly detailed guidelines for creating the best possible website. While we recommend that everyone marketing a local business read through this in-depth guide, we can sum up its contents here by stating that strong websites combine:
Relevant content publication
For our present purpose, let’s take a special look at those last three elements.
On-site optimization and relevant content publication
There was a time when on-site SEO and content development were treated almost independently of one another. And while local businesses will need a make a little extra effort to put their basic contact information in prominent places on their websites (such as the footer and Contact Us page), publication and optimization should be viewed as a single topic. A modern strategy takes all of the following into account:
Keyword and real-world research tell a local business what consumers want
These consumer desires are then reflected in what the business publishes on its website, including its homepage, location landing pages, about page, blog and other components
Full reflection of consumer desires includes ensuring that human language (discovered via keyword and real-world research) is implemented in all elements of each page, including its tags, headings, descriptions, text, and in some cases, markup
What we’re describing here isn’t a set of disconnected efforts. It’s a single effort that’s integral to researching, writing, and publishing the website. Far from stuffing keywords into a tag or a page’s content, focus has shifted to building topical authority in the eyes of search engines like Google by building an authoritative resource for a particular consumer demographic. The more closely a business is able to reflect customers’ needs (including the language of their needs), in every possible component of its website, the more relevant it becomes.
A hypothetical example of this would be a large medical clinic in Dallas. Last year, their phone staff was inundated with basic questions about flu shots, like where and when to get them, what they cost, would they cause side effects, what about side effects on people with pre-existing health conditions, etc. This year, the medical center’s marketing team took a look at Moz Keyword Explorer and saw that there’s an enormous volume of questions surrounding flu shots:
This tiny segment of the findings of the free keyword research tool, Answer the Public, further illustrates how many questions people have about flu shots:
The medical clinic need not compete nationally for these topics, but at a local level, a page on the website can answer nearly every question a nearby patient could have about this subject. The page, created properly, will reflect human language in its tags, headings, descriptions, text, and markup. It will tell all patients where to come and when to come for this procedure. It has the potential to cut down on time-consuming phone calls.
And, finally, it will build topical authority in the eyes of Google to strengthen the clinic’s chances of ranking well organically… which can then translate to improved local rankings.
It’s important to note that keyword research tools typically do not reflect location very accurately, so research is typically done at a national level, and then adjusted to reflect regional or local language differences and geographic terms, after the fact. In other words, a keyword tool may not accurately reflect exactly how many local consumers in Dallas are asking “Where do I get a flu shot?”, but keyword and real-world research signals that this type of question is definitely being asked. The local business website can reflect this question while also adding in the necessary geographic terms.
Local link building must be brought to the fore of publicity efforts
Moz’s industry survey found that more than one-third of respondents had no local link building strategy in place. Meanwhile, link building was listed as one of the top three tasks to which marketers want their clients to devote more resources. There’s clearly a disconnect going on here. Given the fundamental role links play in building Domain Authority, organic rankings, and subsequent local rankings, building strong websites means bridging this gap.
First, it might help to examine old prejudices that could cause local business marketers and their clients to feel dubious about link building. These most likely stem from link spam which has gotten so out of hand in the general world of SEO that Google has had to penalize it and filter it to the best of their ability.
Not long ago, many digital-only businesses were having a heyday with paid links, link farms, reciprocal links, abusive link anchor text and the like. An online company might accrue thousands of links from completely irrelevant sources, all in hopes of escalating rank. Clearly, these practices aren’t ones an ethical business can feel good about investing in, but they do serve as an interesting object lesson, especially when a local marketer can point out to a client, that best local links are typically going to result from real-world relationship-building.
Local businesses are truly special because they serve a distinct, physical community made up of their own neighbors. The more involved a local business is in its own community, the more naturally link opportunities arise from things like local:
Event participation and hosting
There are so many ways a local business can build genuine topical and domain authority in a given community by dint of the relationships it develops with neighbors.
An excellent way to get started on this effort is to look at high-ranking local businesses in the same or similar business categories to discover what work they’ve put in to achieve a supportive backlink profile. Moz Link Intersect is an extremely actionable resource for this, enabling a business to input its top competitors to find who is linking to them.
In the following example, a small B&B in Albuquerque looks up two luxurious Tribal resorts in its city:
Link Intersect then lists out a blueprint of opportunities, showing which links one or both competitors have earned. Drilling down, the B&B finds that Marriott.com is linking to both Tribal resorts on an Albuquerque things-to-do page:
The small B&B can then try to earn a spot on that same page, because it hosts lavish tea parties as a thing-to-do. Outreach could depend on the B&B owner knowing someone who works at the local Marriott personally. It could include meeting with them in person, or on the phone, or even via email. If this outreach succeeds, an excellent, relevant link will have been earned to boost organic rank, underpinning local rank.
Then, repeat the process. Aristotle might well have been speaking of link building when he said we are what we repeatedly do and that excellence is a habit. Good marketers can teach customers to have excellent habits in recognizing a good link opportunity when they see it.
Every day, people turn to Search to explore the world of information on the web. They come looking for everything from news and helpful how-tos to song lyrics and easy dinner recipes.
As each year closes, Google Trends data reflects not only these everyday queries, but also the moments, people, ideas, and questions that made that trip around the sun so unique. During a year of highs and lows, the Year in Search highlights all the ways people continued to search for “good”—and this year, it was more than ever.
Like other feeds, Google’s comes in the form of a series of cards meant to keep users up to date on the stories that matter most to them.
The feed, which is based off a user’s browser history (pay attention to that marketing people), indicated interests, and machine learning, marks a new phase in Google search – one that doesn’t actually require any searching on the user’s part.
Rather than relying on user’s to enter in a typical search, the Discover feed gives users information before they even search for it.
And with over 800 million users, the Feed has proved to be a hit.
As Google continues its efforts to make search as seamless as possible, it debuted a slew of new features coming by the end of the year.
One of them was the revamped Google Feed, now called Discover.
Updates to the Discover feed include:
New look: The design has been completely redone, with an emphasis on visual content. And now, each post will come with a clickable topic header and Discover icon. When clicked on, it will display related content.
Updated content: Before, most of the content surfaced in the Feed was news coverage, but with the launch of Discover Google announced its plans to include more evergreen content (content isn’t new, but may be new to you). Based on your search history, it will also pull content based on your experience with a certain subject (ex. If you’re a beginner at guitar, it will show you beginner material)
More control: At the bottom of each card, you can indicate whether you’d like to see more or less of a particular kind of content.
Discover on the homepage: Previously, Google Feed was accessible through the Google mobile app, but now Google plans to show the Discover feed on all google.com mobile browsers.
Optimizing for Google Discover
Google Discover represents a major shift in how people use the search engine. Mainly, users no longer have to rely on their own search queries to find the topics most relevant to them.
For brands, it represents a shift in SEO.
Without search queries, keyword optimization won’t be enough to rank your content in Discover. But the good news is this – a lot of the same SEO rules still apply.
A close friend in online marketing approached me for advice because their son had been arrested for possession of marijuana and mugshots had begun ranking for his name in search engines. When arrest photos like this appear online, they can be fixed relatively easily, as online reputation management issues go. Read on, and I’ll explain.
The mugshot website problem
Mugshot sites are generally rather scummy. They harvest data from city, county and state policing agencies, thanks to freedom of information laws, and then they build entire websites upon the data. Arrest records and mugshots are considered public information and that used to not be all that commonly accessible. Now these mugshot websites work diligently to optimize their websites to make their pages as visible as possible.
Mugshot websites generally create a page for each individual, including information about the city and state where they were arrested, their mugshot photo, the charges for which they were arrested and sometimes additional details such as aliases, distinctive characteristics, tattoos and more.
Mugshot profile pages typically are built to feature the names of people arrested as the main titles of the pages. This particularly optimizes the pages, helping them to rank well along with the image content. So when the names of people arrested are searched upon in Google and Bing, these pages can rank high in the search results, following those individuals around as they try to live life, negatively impacting their personal relationships and careers.
These websites make money through two primary avenues: revenues derived from the ads appearing on their sites and various ways of charging individuals in return for removing the arrest records and mugshots. You might well ask whether the latter is legal, since it sounds a bit like an extortion scheme. It is, but I think it should not be since these sites rarely exercise the sort of responsibility that should ethically accompany this type of data.
Others agree with me on that – for instance, some credit card and financial service companies decline to work with the mugshot sites. And, some states have made it a crime to charge someone to remove the mugshot. Even so, the mugshot sites have found shady ways to still get money in return for removals – such as making a behind-closed-door business deal with online reputation management companies. The mugshot website recommends the reputation firm to people seeking to have information removed and the reputation firm takes the payments from people wanting removals and gives a portion of that money back to the mugshot site.
This is what makes the issue so slimy. Each time you pay a mugshot site, or a reputation firm that has partnered with them, your money helps keep the whole thing going. You may not realize that the mugshot website operator may own half a dozen other arrest websites which you also must pay in order to have the inconvenient material removed. Once you have paid one this may give them an incentive to publish the materials in other places.
If you pay one company to take it down, the chances are that there may be other websites where it also appears. Once it disappears from one website, you may find three more that you were not aware of, waiting in the wings to rise into visibility in the search results.
Google now helps those with mugshots
It is the high visibility in search engine results that often makes a mugshot so destructive. This is where Google actually has lended a hand to those facing this problem.
Five years ago, Google began demoting mugshot websites in the search rankings. This means that despite those mugshot websites’ efforts to show up as effectively as possible, they usually cannot outrank other materials for the same searches. Google made it harder for their pages and the mugshot photo images to rank as high.
Unfortunately, the mugshots or arrest pictures can and do frequently still show up. Google’s suppression fix may have eroded some in the intervening years, but typically mugshots only pop up high in search results when there are not other contents that are relevant for the same name. These things usually appear in cases where the person featured in the mugshot has a very unique name that is shared by few-to-no others, and they have kept a generally low profile on the internet. If you have no photos or few photos associated with your name on the internet, then when a photo is published with your arrest records it is likely to become prominent very fast. Nature abhors a void, and in this sort of situation, so does Google.
Google’s mugshot suppression fix helps you when there are more pictures available for your name. So, if you find your mugshot is showing up on page one in Google, then you will want to publish your own photos on pages you control which cast you in a positive light.
How to optimize your positive photos to replace the mugshots
It’s desirable to have a few handfuls of photos of yourself to use in your project. Google does not like to show a list of pages with identical content in the search results, so you cannot use 20 copies of the same photo for this purpose.
This is where your family photo album may be your best friend. You will need digital copies of the pics of you, so if you only have hard copies, scan them or take pictures of the photos with your cell phone. The best file format is generally going to be JPG or JPEG, but GIF can also work as well as PNG.
While the pictures do not have to be only of you – they can include other people in them along with you. However, you do want a number of them that are only of you, and the ones with others as well should mostly feature you within them as a primary or prominent subject.
If you already have a Facebook profile, Instagram, Pinterest or Twitter, you can use those to your advantage. Make sure you have a good picture to use for your profiles – you can also search to see what the best picture size is for each of those services. Be sure to change your settings if you have your profiles set to private or hidden posts. You need public profiles in order for the search engines to access and display photos.
Note: If you are concerned with privacy, you can set up separate social media profiles just for this project and keep your personal Facebook and Twitter accounts private. On Facebook, it is easiest to Create a Page, which is done while logged-in under your personal account. The Page can be public-facing, while your personal profile is not.
Social media accounts for this purpose should be created with your name as the profile name. Over the course of a number of days, post one or two pics a day and include your name in the captions of the image (where applicable) or in the update posting text, along with varying additional description of what the photo is of, where it was taken, and/or the dates.
Other free image sharing services can be useful, too, such as Flickr.
If you are not intimidated by setting up your own webpages, having a personal website can be very advantageous to publish more images of yourself. Obtain a domain name that is brief and contains your name. Then launch a website on it using WordPress as the website software.
As a less-daunting option, you can set up a personal website at WordPress.com for free, and the website software is already set up and ready-to-go.
Additional places to set up personal webpages include: Tumblr, About.me, Yelp, LinkedIn, Medium.com, blogspot.com, etc. Many other sites can be useful beyond these, as well, if you look around for them.
Add your personal photo as the profile image at these places as well as posts where applicable that feature your photos. Always try to include your name in the image file names (ex: “YourName.jpg”), captions and what is called “ALT” or alternative text (this is text that is hidden from the casual internet user, but which tells machines what the subject matter of an image is).
Once you have published your photos in all of these various places, and Google has had an opportunity to find them and index them, you will be delighted to see that your desired photos began appearing higher in the search results and should begin displacing the negative mugshot image!
This same approach can simultaneously work in Bing search results but at a much slower rate. Bing has not applied a helpful suppression to these sorts of sites so greater efforts over a longer period may be necessary to offset mugshots there.
It’s a common concern for marketers and analysts worldwide: As your business has grown, so have your needs for complete and accurate data that can be integrated with other platforms. It might be time to upgrade to Google Analytics 360.
This eBook from InfoTrust will provide you with everything you need to know when considering and purchasing a Google Analytics 360 license for your organization. It covers:
The differences between Google Analytics and Google Analytics 360
Identifying if there is a business case for migrating to Google Analytics 360
Negotiating the right deal with a Google Analytics 360 Reseller
For many years people have been proclaiming the demise of traditional search traffic and the death of the SEO industry that supports it. While Google has posted consistent revenue growth from its core search business for the last many years, the pundits are convinced that the proclivity of users to search on a search engine for new information is a relic of the past to be replaced by a rising always-on social media presence.
Every winter, the technology blogosphere is replete with thought pieces about how the coming new year will be the year of social or some innovation. While some may say that foretelling the growth of search in the coming year is akin to heralding the return of the palm pilot; I strongly beg to differ.
As someone who has spent the last decade deeply involved in constructing enterprise SEO strategies, I have felt that this couldn’t be further from the truth. It is my opinion that if an organization chooses to believe that no one will search for them online, they are leaving the field wide open for their competitor to dominate the organic search results.
What does the data say
However, a point of view, even one with industry experience to validate it, is still only an assumption. I partnered with my research colleagues at SurveyMonkey to gather hard data about the true state of search. We collected responses from nearly 4,000 people who had taken surveys on SurveyMonkey. (Read more about our methodology here.)
To understand where search stood as an information gathering tool, we asked questions that put users in specific scenarios. The motivation behind this line of questioning was to give a real-world scenario where a user might choose between search and other available options. As an example, we asked users to choose where they would most likely turn to find a new dentist. The motivation behind this line of questioning was to give a real-world scenario where a user might choose between search and other available options.
Not surprisingly for this kind of need, many people would choose to text or call a friend or family member for a suggestion; however, a higher number 36 percent would turn to a search engine. Only a very small minority of 5 percent would rely on social media. When this data was cut by age, millennials (18-34) were just as likely as the general population to use social media but were more likely to use search than those in the 35-64 bucket.
Social media may be a great option for gathering advice from a crowd, but when the suggestions really matter users still want control over how much and from where they gather information.