With the holiday season almost upon us, this month may be your last chance to buckle down and meet your goals. Fortunately, this month’s rich set of guides and data breakdowns will give you the edge you need to make two months of progress in one.
The guides are first. They’ll teach you why online businesses make the best cash flow investments, how to create copy for higher conversions, and a possible cause for high rankings that don’t correspond to increased click-through rates.
After that, you can catch up on the latest data. You’ll learn a process for predicting the ROI of SEO, whether there’s evidence that Google’s next update will leverage BERT, and Youtube’s dominance of Google video searches.
Finally, you’ll get the latest SEO news. It includes a breakdown of Google’s AI announcement, some recent chatter on how site sections can impact an entire site’s rank, and an official announcement of my Black Friday deals.
Why Online Businesses Make the Best Cash Flow Investments
Sarah Nuttycombe of Empire Flippers brings us this defense of why online businesses make the best cash flow investments.
A cash flow investment is an investment that is intended to deliver early and constant dividends instead of maturing at a later date. Sarah argues that online businesses excel as cash flow investments, possibly better than any other alternative out there.
She starts her case by comparing online ventures to traditional cash flow investments such as rental properties, dividend stocks, or savings accounts. As she points out, these conventional and trusted investments have some severe drawbacks, including:
- High initial investments
- Dependence on market performance
- Small cash flows
She then compares those limitations to the natural advantages of online businesses, namely that:
- Startup capital is not a barrier to entry.
- There’s no limit to returns.
- Positive cash flow can be immediate.
- It can still work as a long-term investment because the value can be cumulative.
She makes good arguments for each benefit, based on the many ways that websites can be leveraged into different opportunities. Reading through this guide could give you some new ideas on making your own website’s pay.
One reliable method to make websites pay is to make the content perform better. The next guide in line has some ideas on how you can do that.
SEO Copywriting: The 19 Best Tips To Increase Traffic and Conversions
Chris Collins of SEObility brings us this guide based on his theory of how to optimize. He begins by pointing out, any copy you create has two jobs from the start. It must attract people to the page (SEO), and it must work to convert the people who are attracted to a specific action.
Working toward one goal alone won’t work. With that in mind, Chris launches into a series of themed tips around serving both goals simultaneously. Among other suggestions, he recommends that you:
- Explore online courses for any niche you write about: Courses are developed by field experts more than other types of content, so they’ll give you a better idea of how content should be introduced and structured.
- Create a “slippery slide”: Your content needs to be able to draw people further in by creating incentives that flow down from the title to the next subheading, to all the subheadings that follow.
- Implement a table of contents: Make any large content more navigable by giving readers a front-loaded way to skip introductions or the information they already know for the information they want most.
- Scour Amazon reviews: Let niche fans tell you what they value most by taking in reviews. This will give you a ton of insight into the keywords you should be targeting and the features that truly motivate them to buy.
In addition to these off-the-beaten-path tips, he also has many tips on handling some of the most common advice you receive on writing copy, such as building better titles and doing competitor research.
Excellent copy is great, but copy alone isn’t going to help you win the war on SERPs. You need great image SEO, too. Our next guide will help you diagnose an image search problem that may be holding you back.
Image Packs in Google Web Search – A reason you might be seeing high rankings but insanely low click-through rate in GSC
Glenn Gabe of GSQI brings us this guide on how to respond to an odd ranking situation: You’re winning the ranking war with your images (at least according to GSC), but no one is clicking.
You then search yourself and find out that your (apparently dominant) result doesn’t even appear in the search.
This isn’t a new situation. In his research, Glenn found that many people were experiencing it and some suspected that a bug might be responsible. He decided to do a bit of his research to determine the most likely culprit.
First, he theorizes that SERP’s features may not perform well at all for images. As in, most people were likely to skip the image packs and scroll down to the results. It’s also true, he points out, that every image in a block gets the same rank—meaning #1 isn’t as high as you think it is.
He points out that clicking an image in the pack doesn’t take you to the website that hosts the image. It takes you to the image results—where you’re free to copy, enlarge, or perform other actions on an image without ever visiting the site.
Furthermore, he shows that knowledge panels (another major destination of ranking images) work the same way. Clicking on the set of images that appears will take you to another SERP feature.
He concludes that due to these factors, an error is not likely the cause of images that rank #1 and don’t translate to clicks. It comes down to that images just may not be very fertile ground for getting website visits, no matter how well they do.
That covers the guides for this week. Our next roundup set is going to focus on the numbers. We’ll start looking at how you can generate ROI projections for SEO based on traffic and revenue.
The ROI of SEO – How to predict traffic and revenue
Kevin Indig brings us some helpful revenue formulas for different SEO-related business models, packaged with some advice on how to project the value of SEO recommendations made to clients.
His advice comes down to a section he originally included in an earlier guide:
With that in mind, he launches into a project for selling revenue that relies on two relatively simple steps:
- Project traffic
- Tie traffic projections to revenue
He recommends that in your proposition, you narrow traffic predictions for five possible focus areas:
- Traffic to the whole site
- Traffic to a page type (For example, product or category pages)
- Traffic from keyword syntax (For example, “best of”)
- Traffic to a single page
- Traffic for a single keyword
Starting with any of these areas, Kevin presents a step-by-step process you can use to project how the traffic may increase. He recommends that you:
- Identify your keywords by whatever method you know best.
- Calculate your traffic TAM (total addressable market) by measuring the total sum of clicks that exist for a keyword/region.
- Perform a site audit to determine where the best growth opportunities exist—for example, pages with only minimal content or pages that aren’t optimized.
- Estimate the impact of seizing those opportunities by looking at the vertical, competition, and backlink profiles.
- Launch your strategy to assess and adapt your predictions.
Each of these steps is laid out with complete instructions, and some tool recommendations you can use make them easier. He follows up with a series of formulas you can use to customize this method for e-commerce, marketplaces, SaaS, and other business models.
It’s helpful stuff if you like the business end of SEO, but let’s get back to the elbow-grease end of it for our next item. It looks at the evidence that Google passage indexing is leveraging BERT.
Could Google passage indexing be leveraging BERT?
Dawn Anderson at Search Engine Land brings us this look at passage indexing, and whether the next update will utilize BERT. Before I go any farther, let’s refresh your memory on both those terms.
BERT is a part of the Google algorithm that launched as part of the major update in late 2019. The acronym stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.”
If that’s not helpful, don’t worry. All you need to know is that it greatly expanded the algorithm’s capacity to understand the context in human speech.
Our other term, passage indexing, refers to Google’s capacity to rank specific passages of a whole piece of content and display them in SERPs.
So, back to the main question: Is this technology used to power Google’s work to deliver key passages directly to searchers? Some of Dawn’s evidence points to “no,” or at least “not necessarily.”
First, the update that’s going to come for passages isn’t about retrieving passages; it’s about ranking them. That’s a different sort of technology.
Second, as Dawn points out, BERT as a model isn’t quite ready to index passages across every search. BERT is only being utilized in about 10% of all searches so far, and if it is being used to massively index passages, it’s probably getting help from other, larger models.
Regardless of the model that’s being used—and this article goes into many of them—the takeaway for SEOs is mostly the same: Modern content needs structure and focus more than ever. “Keywords” will increasingly matter less than clarity when it comes to ranking.
Our next set of data looks at how video is performing in SERPs and whether there is any way to rank if you aren’t on the internet’s leading video platform.
YouTube Dominates Google Video in 2020
Dr. Peter J. Meyers at Moz brings us this look at YouTube’s truly dominant hold on Google Video searches. He opens with the results of a case study that looked at more than 2.1 million searches.
If you’ve tried ranking video content before, you probably know that YouTube is dominant, but would you have guessed that results from that site control 94% of all page one carousel results?
The carousel is the primary way that videos are presented in searches, so controlling the carousel is the same as controlling those searches overall.
The case study further revealed that the next top video results (Khan Academy and Facebook Video) couldn’t even break 3% of the share when put together.
The study also went further by looking at the popular “how-to” category of video searches. In this category, Google was even more dominant, landing between 97-98% of all carousel results.
Expanding the test to 10,000 search phrases across separate categories didn’t change the results, either. Neither did performing tests once-per-month for a year. This isn’t a fluke. YT is truly in control of the carousel.
The takeaway for SEOs seems to be that you better be hosting videos on YouTube if you want to rank videos. There isn’t even an up-and-comer alternative at the moment.
That’s all the numbers for this month. Let’s start with the month’s most prominent news. We’ll start with Google’s recent AI announcement and what it might mean for SEOs.
How AI is powering a more helpful Google
Prabhakar Raghavan of Google released a lengthy statement this week that may partially introduce upcoming updates and what they hold for everyone using (and making money from) the search engine.
The announcement mainly dealt with AI technologies and the advancements that Google has recently developed. He focused on the search engines:
- New capacities with spelling: The algorithm can now understand misspelled words used in searches and interpret them as the correct word more accurately.
- Greater power to retrieve passages: The algorithm can more accurately pull answers to queries from deep in content, even if it’s not well-labeled by headers and surrounding sections.
- A better understanding of subtopics: The algorithm can better understand what subtopics exist for a search (for example, affordable exercise equipment or small space exercise equipment) and deliver more mixed results for general searches.
Prabhakar also stressed that Google had used the pandemic to double down on efforts to detect and deliver accurate information about health and control the spread of results that deal with misinformation.
He also introduced Google’s new abilities to retrieve results from singing voice searches (for example, if you need to know a song and you only know some of the lyrics) and it’s increasing power to find and navigate to relevant sections of a video automatically.
It’s just a showcase, but the implications for SEOs may be profound. These new features are likely to play a huge role in future updates and the future of SEO.
Google also gave us some more clarity about how sections of a site can impact the rest. The next piece will deal with what they said and what it might mean for you.
Google Answers If Site Section Can Impact Ranking Score of Entire Site
Roger Montti of Search Engine Journal brought us this exchange between John Mueller and a publisher worried about a bad neighborhood on his website.
As the publisher explained, his site, in general, had excellent core web vital scores. However, he hosted a forum on the same site that was (naturally) home to tons of unoptimized content created by his visitors.
This is an essential question because core web vitals are scheduled to become a ranking factor by 2021. Any section of a site could become a liability if there isn’t some way to separate it from the rest.
Mueller’s answer wasn’t entirely conclusive. He said that the algorithms “tries” to get granular information and recognize different individual parts.
He further clarified that speed might be a more significant factor than others. As long as individual sections aren’t slow, they aren’t a significant risk.
He closed by committing to provide more answers around the time core web vitals were formally fixed as a ranking signal.
That’s all for the news this week, but before you go, I have some exciting deals dropping for black Friday and Cyber Monday that I hope you won’t want to miss.
Black Friday & Cyber Monday Deals
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We’ll see you on Black Friday, November 27th.
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