Speaker 1: 00:00:01 On this episode of EDGE of the Web.
Erin Sparks: 00:00:19 Sure, yup.
Britney Muller: 00:00:19 It’s such a great way to expand your search real estate across voice and across different types to really own that authoritative featured snippet position.
Speaker 1: 00:00:32 Your weekly digital marketing trends with industry trends setting guests, you were listening and watching EDGE of the Web, winners of Best Podcast from the Content Marketing Institute for 2017. Hear and see more at edgeofthewebradio.com. Now, here’s your host, Erin Sparks.
Erin Sparks: 00:00:56 All right, this is EDGE of the Web, episode 346. I’m your host, Erin Sparks. Every week we bring you amazing guests to chat up digital trending topics and marketing news. We unpack a key marketing topic for our digital marketing audience whether you’re part of an agency or freelancer or part of a firm, this show is for you. Be sure to check out all the recent shows over at edgeofthewebradio.com.
Erin Sparks: 00:01:21 If you’re new to the show, welcome. We certainly welcome you on board for our live broadcast every Monday at 3:00 pm Eastern. This is the ropes that we go through each and every week. We go live with our YouTube live cast and you can find us over at youtube.com/edgeoftheweb and then you can find our podcast. We take all of those audio right into iTunes, Google Play, Stitcher, Spreaker, iHeartRadio, all the podcast aggregators.
Erin Sparks: 00:01:46 Then, we go one more step further, making sure we got some great show notes and multiple blog posts to get all the information as well as transcripts of the show that you can digest as well as taking it all to social as well. We’re trying to hit all the lanes when it comes to giving you information that you need where and when you need it.
Erin Sparks: 00:02:04 Check out everything over at edgeofthewebradio.com and get all the show information plus the news that we go over. Make sure that you check out the additional news update podcast that we have each and every show as well. It’s a separate show. It’s a small show, 15 minutes or less, try to get there but I tend to talk every once in a while. Check it out because there’s certainly some topical information on a regular basis on that show.
Erin Sparks: 00:02:29 EDGE of the Web is actually brought to you by Site Strategics, the title sponsor of the show were the pioneers in Agile Digital Marketing and our core specialties are SEO and social media marketing, conversion rate optimization and omnichannel media marketing and broadcast. If you’re interested in what we can do for you, give us a call at 877-SEO-4WEB or 877-736-4932 if you don’t want to translate those vanity letters.
Erin Sparks: 00:02:56 All right, let me introduce the team over in the production booth. We got Jacob Mann, studio creative director and Allie Coons, associate producer, how are we doing guys?
Jacob Mann: 00:03:03 Hey.
Allie Coons: 00:03:04 Hey.
Jacob Mann: 00:03:05 Having a Monday.
Erin Sparks: 00:03:06 This is a Monday show, isn’t it? But it’s always a Monday show.
Jacob Mann: 00:03:09 It is, yeah. What can I say?
Erin Sparks: 00:03:16 Well, you can say that it’s going to be Friday and we’re just going to flow right through it.
Jacob Mann: 00:03:19 There we go. There we go. It’ll be Friday before you know it.
Erin Sparks: 00:03:21 Okay.
Jacob Mann: 00:03:23 I can do that.
Erin Sparks: 00:03:25 I appreciate that. You think you can actually move time? I’d love to get to Friday right now.
Jacob Mann: 00:03:28 I’ve already stopped your clock in this.
Erin Sparks: 00:03:30 Yes, you have. All right. We wanted to make you aware of upcoming show guests that are going to be on the next few episodes. Next week, we’ve got JD Prater of Quora talking about PPC; Aaron Levy from Tinuiti. I always do that, Tinuiti on March 23rd; Amy Bishop, talking about PPC on the 30th of March; and Jon Henshaw from Coywolf, we’re talking to on the 6th of April. If you’re interested in being part of the show, reach out to us or drop us a line at email@example.com or if you know somebody that you’d like to see on the show, send us a message over social or to that email and we certainly can reach out and contact.
Erin Sparks: 00:04:11 Set your reminders for the YouTube channel. Make sure you get notified when we actually get live and sometimes you got to wait a couple minutes here or there for YouTube to buffer correctly but, hey, it’s live stream and it’s free, so to speak.
Erin Sparks: 00:04:27 EDGE fans, well, we want to know a little bit more about you. We’re running a quick poll at edgeofthewebradio.com. Just got a couple of questions. We’re wanting to know what you do and what you’re interested in hearing more in 2020. Jump over to the site real quick and you can dig into that. It’s a three-page, I think. Well, three questions, I’m sorry not three pages but check it out. We’d love to hear from our audience and that’s going to help guide us into 2020.
Erin Sparks: 00:04:56 That’s the show housekeeping. We certainly want you to go over to the news podcast because we cover everything that’s trending right now including Google updates and things that are moving and shaking in the Google world. But for now, let’s meet this week’s featured guest.
Speaker 1: 00:05:13 Now it’s time for EDGE to the Web featured interview with Britney Muller, Senior SEO Scientist at Moz.
Erin Sparks: 00:05:24 Britney is a Senior SEO Scientist. That is just honestly is a fantastic title and boy, that should be the top of everybody’s SEO aspiration to get that title. Britney Muller, if you don’t know, she has been a senior scientist over at Moz where she is researching SEO concepts, creating educational content, helping to educate people around the world regarding SEO and she’s actually in the international conferences regularly. She’s talking about SEO trends, desires at the product team over at Moz. Let’s introduce Britney Muller. How are you doing Britney?
Britney Muller: 00:06:00 I’m doing good. How are you?
Erin Sparks: 00:06:03 We’re good and we’re having a Monday.
Britney Muller: 00:06:05 Yeah. Happy Monday.
Erin Sparks: 00:06:08 Well, I’ll tell you what, Britney, it’s your second time on the show. We really appreciate you joining us and thanks for doing so. You are always championing some great education in the SEO space. From all of us in SEO, thank you very much.
Britney Muller: 00:06:23 Thank you. That’s so nice to hear.
Erin Sparks: 00:06:24 You’re more than welcome. Britney let us know what your job entails.
Britney Muller: 00:06:30 Yeah, there’s a few different facets to what I do. I structure my work a lot around the research and development side of products, but also in the educational and testing aspects of SEO in general. My primary goal is really to be a catalyst of information for other SEOs and just to help them level up, but also to help plant seeds of information so that all of you can think of the next brilliant thing.
Erin Sparks: 00:06:59 Oh, well, that’s a challenge. There’s a lot of things happening right now. I know you’re also focused a good deal on machine learning. Our last show was actually unpacking a lot in that space. Anything recent that has come up in that space that you wanted to share about real quick?
Britney Muller: 00:07:17 Yes and I don’t know how much I can share, but I will just say that I have had so much fun playing around with time series forecasting models. They can be an incredibly accurate with around three years’ worth of data. That could be anything from your sales to churn to organic traffic, you name it. Anything that has a reoccurring daily metric, you can measure and forecast and these different models that we’ve been playing around with are just incredible, incredibly powerful, around 4% error rates and really kind of exciting and stuff.
Erin Sparks: 00:07:58 Absolutely and obviously, you’re looking back years over years and that’s where you can get that predictive analysis to a much greater degree because we’re dealing with big data now and we have full availability of so much data, right?
Britney Muller: 00:08:16 Right, exactly.
Erin Sparks: 00:08:17 That’s a wonderful thing. Any recent reports that you want to share regarding that or is it still kind of hush-hush right now?
Britney Muller: 00:08:25 It’s sort of hush-hush. I am working on a pared-back model to share publicly for people that want to try it out themselves and that will come out during some of my next talks. Yeah, just stay tuned.
Erin Sparks: 00:08:40 All right. Well, what else is happening over Moz? I know that you are regularly rolling out some really cool things for all of us in the SEO world. Now, did something just get launched in February?
Britney Muller: 00:08:55 This feels like a test.
Erin Sparks: 00:08:56 Actually, I thought I saw a recent tweet here. I just didn’t see what actually came out. Maybe it’s still on the backburner. Maybe I should be hush-hush right now because I know that something was brewing over there. We’ll just move along.
Britney Muller: 00:09:10 We are working on some really good releases. We have a product that I developed that’s currently in beta, which I’m so proud and excited for.
Erin Sparks: 00:09:19 Excellent.
Britney Muller: 00:09:20 Yeah. Really looking forward to integrating that into Moz and seeing that help further SEOs research.
Erin Sparks: 00:09:29 Very good. All right, we’ll have to swing back around and ping you as soon as that actually gets rolled up because we always want to get some quick updates going out into SEO and that could very well be a great announcement as well. We’re going to have to hear a little bit more about it after the show.
Britney Muller: 00:09:46 That sounds good.
Erin Sparks: 00:09:47 You just did a Whiteboard Friday here recently and it was a deep dive into what’s happening in SEO for 2020. We want to get you on the show and ask you to unpack it because we know that, I mean, you’re very good at direct delivering the Whiteboard Fridays, but you also have a small amount of time to actually unpack that and it’s a great Whiteboard Friday, going to look at all the transcript notes there but we really want to swing back around and give me time to explore a little bit more about what you covered.
Erin Sparks: 00:10:19 You covered with the initial foundational SEO basics. That’s always should be a factor of execution, but let us know some of the… Our show serves a number of different audiences, a lot of digital marketers, a lot of SEOs, but also company owners that don’t know these spaces in how to actually review what those digital marketing companies are doing for them. What should they be paying attention to from a foundational standpoint?
Britney Muller: 00:10:50 Yeah, that’s such a great question. I think to have the foundational aspects in place is still key, but with that said, I love seeing these SEOs like Emily Potter testing those norms, where she removed meta descriptions from an entire section of the site and it actually started to perform better because the way that Google was marking it up via the algorithm was actually more enticing for people to click through. I do think these things should be very specific to your site and to your specific industry.
Britney Muller: 00:11:26 By all means, should you have the foundations in mind, but I consistently want to challenge people to just try different things and try things based off what you’re seeing in search results, because Google houses all of this information. They know what most people searching for X are looking for.
Britney Muller: 00:11:51 When you’re looking at that search result page, make mental notes of what are the reoccurring themes? Are they showing lots of images or lots of video? Is that listicles? What’s going on within all these pages and how can you apply that to your perspective pages and try to move up the search results?
Erin Sparks: 00:12:11 Absolutely. That seems a bit scary, taking out meta descriptions out of an entire site, but are we in this space where we should be testing out those? I mean, we got alerted last year that multiple headlines don’t really matter. H1s don’t really matter and that was some Earth-shattering information. All of a sudden, everything that we’ve been focused on getting your H1s right, now, we really don’t even have to worry between that.
Erin Sparks: 00:12:39 There was a number of experiments, I know Glenn Gabe was actually rolling out a number of experiments regarding the removal of headlines or changing of headlines. Are we in the space where we should be really experimenting in a large scale with some of the structure that we have on our sites?
Britney Muller: 00:12:56 Yeah, I think you have to be so careful when you hear news and research like that because it’s performed with a corpus of data that’s probably specific to an individual site or an industry like automotive or medical, these things change so much space to space, especially in the medical health areas. Making sure that you are running some of your own experiments for the things that your primary concerns are around to see what really works for you. There’s an incredible amount of case studies where people have done these tests themselves but there’s also tools available to help you do some of that.
Britney Muller: 00:13:40 For example, DistilledODN, which I have no affiliation with, they do an incredible job of segmenting a set of pages and running tests on those. You can also do these things by hand and just really see what’s working for your users. It all comes back down to what are your target market really looking for? What is the intent? Are you providing that in a way that is engaging and appealing enough to win those top spots?
Erin Sparks: 00:14:11 Absolutely. There’s an entire conversation to unpack regarding consumer intent and search intent but you did make mention in your video regarding, again, these are some old elements in SEO that have always been around, the alt text and whether or not we should even use something like that, the fact of the matter is, you delivered it very clearly is that all these sites have to still be accessible and don’t gloss over these key elements albeit there are some old tactics in SEO. They still have to be there, right?
Britney Muller: 00:14:49 Correct. Yeah, absolutely. Accessibility is still incredibly important. There are still plenty of people using screen readers and that will continue to use screen readers in the future and we need to help them understand the content and the pages by providing things like alt text.
Erin Sparks: 00:15:07 Absolutely. Even to the coding level of tab control making sure that people can actually hit the different nav points the way you want them to. Don’t ignore these basics because ADA and accessibility is so aligned with SEO. It’s all in the same space and you’re helping users and Google is rewarding sites that are helping their users, right?
Britney Muller: 00:15:31 Exactly, exactly.
Erin Sparks: 00:15:33 What about internal linking, crosslinking between different pages? There was, for the longest time, the concept of Page Sculpting and PageRank Sculpting and moving value down deeper into the website. Crosslinking is still necessary, is it not?
Britney Muller: 00:15:51 I believe so. I believe so from both the link shaping aspect of it, but also just from the human side of it where you have people on your site on a regular basis. Where are you referring them to next? What’s the next logical page? Kevin Indig has incredible, he has a great talk from TechSEO Boost two years ago where he talks about doing this at a very large scale and I think it made a lot of us kind of perk up and think, what are the implications for the sites we work for?
Britney Muller: 00:16:24 Continuing to see different cases roll out where this had incredible impact on large pages that needed to really sort of showcase to Google, which pages are the most important and also, again, just for users, where you generally want users to go, what are your high converting pages, what pages bring in the most traffic. You’re likely already aware of those pages and helping to direct people to those, will be helpful for them.
Erin Sparks: 00:16:53 Absolutely, but also bearing in mind that that if that page that the user is on is an educational page.
Britney Muller: 00:17:02 Yes.
Erin Sparks: 00:17:03 Don’t move them to a transactional page immediately because they’re still in that buyer’s journey, mindset of understanding…
Britney Muller: 00:17:13 Exactly.
Erin Sparks: 00:17:13 … understanding what you’re talking about. You really should be mindful of any InLinks that you’re actually rolling through should be kind of a Wikipedia mindset of, okay, if you’re learning this particular piece of content, this is what I want you to learn next, right?
Britney Muller: 00:17:26 Exactly.
Erin Sparks: 00:17:28 Don’t jump the sharks, so to speak.
Britney Muller: 00:17:30 No, exactly. It should be very, very natural. It should make sense to a user. Yeah, you’re exactly right and that goes with anchor text for it, too. If you all of a sudden alter all of your internal links pointing to your green widget page with the anchor text screen widget, it’s going to start to look a little suspect. Just using it in natural ways that a person would find helpful.
Erin Sparks: 00:17:55 Absolutely, absolutely. Moving up the ladder here, let’s talk about schema. Schema has been the buzzword for the last three to four years here, deploying schema on your website. It’s pretty important from an optimization standpoint, is it not?
Britney Muller: 00:18:10 It is absolutely important. Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 00:18:14 Unpack some of the schema types that as either business owner or an SEO should be regularly paying attention to and deploying on their website.
Britney Muller: 00:18:24 Yeah, I mean, I think the foundational aspect of this is my business. This is where we’re located. These are ours. This is our industry type. Just spoon feeding that additional information to Google is incredibly helpful. Then, the SEO, the greedy search person in me wants to capitalize on things like FAQ markup, because that actually expands your real estate in search results and allows users to interact with questions and answers that you have marked up within a particular page.
Britney Muller: 00:19:01 Review markup, I mean, you can do all sorts of granular product markup and even things that aren’t even being used within the search results yet. It’s important to, if you have a direct application for a schema markup that’s not currently being shown in search, just give it a try. Google loves schema markup and they could very well use it and integrate the additional types in the future.
Erin Sparks: 00:19:27 Absolutely and just think of how Google gives and rewards early adopters of these pieces of data. Absolutely. Especially if you’re in a niche market, a niche competitive market, not a national market, although that’s still a very, very strong signal. If you’re a niche market, that could very well be that key factor that’s putting you over the top of your competitors.
Erin Sparks: 00:19:50 If all of a sudden you’re coming out with just that additional level of data that Google can consume and none of the players in your market are doing that, it could be a winning strategy but I got a question for you, Britney, how easy or how difficult is the deployment of schema and do you know of any tools that make it easier to do that?
Britney Muller: 00:20:17 I’m laughing because this has been a struggle for years, for years we have-
Erin Sparks: 00:20:23 That’s why I’m asking the question.
Britney Muller: 00:20:24 I know. It’s embarrassing. We still don’t have better examples or used cases or even the examples within the schema documentation will test wrong in the testing tool. It is extremely frustrating. I personally have wasted plenty of hours trying to get different things right here and there. It’s really great to see, to copy what’s working on other websites that you see in search results. What are your competitors using for markup? At least do that and then experiment with what additional things might be right for you.
Britney Muller: 00:21:03 There are some really great WordPress plugins that do some heavy lifting for schema but you just want to be careful to make sure that they don’t break upon a WordPress update or that an update of schema rolls out that isn’t integrated with your plugin. You just want to be mindful of that and maybe set up some sort of alert system.
Erin Sparks: 00:21:24 Absolutely.
Britney Muller: 00:21:27 My personal experience with Yoast has been great because they make it so easy to add just the basic schema types and to integrate basic FAQ schema. That I really appreciate it and yeah, I’m curious to hear if you have any tools for this.
Erin Sparks: 00:22:18 Anyway, because it can get sloppy out there if you’re using just automatic tools, we do recommend that tool, it’s a really cool tool. Give them a try but when it comes down to it, nothing beats hard coding on the page…
Britney Muller: 00:22:36 Yeah, I agree.
Erin Sparks: 00:22:38 … because you’re getting exactly what you’re wanting fed up to the data gods there and you’re not making any type of shortcuts. Part of it is there’s no CMS that’s ever going to auto generate anything of specific structure. You’re going to have to take the dive in the code, right?
Britney Muller: 00:22:57 Yeah, absolutely. I also would encourage people working on this or struggling with a particular kind of schema to reach out to different areas of the community whether it be on Twitter or on different Slack groups, our community has helped support and teach me so many things and so many others that I think it’s a more welcoming space than people think.
Erin Sparks: 00:23:20 Oh, absolutely. There’s so many people willing to help now, compare this to 10 years ago. It’s a whole another healthy realm of communication support and obviously, the conferences are fantastic for that.
Erin Sparks: 00:23:36 Real quick, by the way, for our listeners, be sure to hit the bell on our YouTube channel so you can get reminded when we actually go live and if you’re interested, we’d certainly love for you to jump in and give us a review on shows like this one because we’re able to bring you some really, really sharp guests and they can unpack a lot of information, but we’d love the review on that. All right, so there’s a gratuitous plug, Britney.
Erin Sparks: 00:24:01 One of the areas that you unpacked in the Whiteboard Friday was not to rely on national rankings. What’s up with that?
Britney Muller: 00:24:11 Yeah, that’s where we see Google customizing search results the most is by location. Depending on what it is that you’re searching, they’re going to try to provide you with local laws, with local businesses, with local information and context.
Britney Muller: 00:24:31 It is incredibly important that you’re taking that into consideration with where you’re ranking for particular things, especially if you’re a local business or targeting a specific area. Make sure that you’re not just grabbing national SERPs from SEO tools, but that you’re grabbing specific location SERP information.
Erin Sparks: 00:24:53 Absolutely. I know Moz provides a local variable that you can add into your rank tracking and there’s a number of tools to do that but we’re also realizing that it’s not just a particular city, it’s also different regions or different areas of, I mean, we can get down to zip code level of tracking now and we’re seeing zip code level of SERPs changing, right?
Britney Muller: 00:25:18 Absolutely. Just to be transparent, Moz acquired STAT Analytics about a year and a half ago and what was funny was during our recent featured snippet research study, one of the engineers was telling me that we’re grabbing all of these search results looking for featured snippets from this very specific location. He even sent me a Google Maps link and I could see, it was literally outside a person’s house. That was the position where we said we were pulling all of these search results from. That was pretty cool.
Erin Sparks: 00:25:52 Do they literally have just a person out there at that point in time doing searches in front of the guy’s house? I mean, to be able to get that specific-
Britney Muller: 00:25:59 That would have been terrifying.
Erin Sparks: 00:26:01 One thing I miss from Google search results page is the ability to change your location.
Britney Muller: 00:26:11 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 00:26:13 I don’t know if you have any insight. Why did they take that away from us? That would have been so beautiful to just have that because we need to be able to help optimize clients from around the country, around the world, right? Why do you think they did that?
Britney Muller: 00:26:27 I think it’s probably a used case situation where there wasn’t a large enough percent of people that were finding it useful or making any sort of use for it but MozBar does that for free. If you have MozBar, you can literally just activate it in your Chrome browser and you can add new locations. I think I have 13 different random cities across America and you can just switch to see what the results look like in that area.
Erin Sparks: 00:26:55 I completely forgot about that.
Britney Muller: 00:26:58 I know, lots of people forget about MozBar, it’s so great.
Erin Sparks: 00:27:00 It is a very cool tool, especially if you got a paid version and it’s piping in some additional factors but you’re absolutely right. You guys do have that location change. I completely spaced that.
Erin Sparks: 00:27:11 Go and grab the MozBar guys but along with that local rankings, we’re finding ourselves having to duplicate our general searches from a keyword grouping into all these different rank checker regional spaces. What we were running with 50 keywords for a location like Indianapolis, if we’re actually going into multiplications all of a sudden, we’re having 400 words because we’re literally doing 50-word tracking on different locations. There’s just no way to get around that with these tools now, is it?
Britney Muller: 00:27:45 No, there’s not and I think we saw a huge opportunity with that need. A while ago, in the development of LMA, Local Market Analytics and we’re able to, you basically can look at a map of the United States and see how you’re ranking for particular keywords in different areas at just a bird’s eye view and it’s incredibly helpful for local businesses that are trying to really expand their reach and expand their regional poll for visits.
Erin Sparks: 00:28:16 Absolutely, absolutely. That is the game. Whether you’re a national company, you’re still having to move into the local space and compete with a lot of local resources. All right, this is why I wanted to get back over to is the user intent, search intent. It is a huge factor in understanding how to be able to provide content that’s valuable to the consumers. How do you go about that research to be able to find what content is really useful to your users?
Britney Muller: 00:28:52 Yeah, I think you have to really consider the shift from keywords to intent. For example, if you do a search for men’s sweaters, you’ll get some results and then if you change that to men’s cardigans, you’ll get very similar results but if you were to change men’s to women’s sweaters, it’s incredibly different, right? The intent shift.
Britney Muller: 00:29:18 Focusing on the intent actually makes your content efforts a bit easier than trying to focus on all these keywords and keep track of all these keywords. It’s really what are people searching for and trying to discover in a particular search query. That’s why you have to lean on Google’s data. You have to lean on the results that you’re seeing for these particular searches. It surfaces so many wonderful things. It tells you who your true competitors in different niches are. It shows you what sort of content is outperforming others and how can you cultivate and integrate that sort of value and then some, right? How can you do that better?
Britney Muller: 00:30:03 It sounds so basic and so silly just look at the search results but if you can integrate that and if you can write up different ways of doing this at scale, it’s incredibly powerful for your site.
Erin Sparks: 00:30:16 It gets back to keyword research originally, but not just keyword, obviously, it gets back into you should always be paying attention to what your consumers are asking of Google, right?
Britney Muller: 00:30:29 Absolutely, absolutely.
Erin Sparks: 00:30:31 They’re shifting all the time and if something is trending that you’re not paying attention to because you had your keywords set up for rank performance two years ago, you have no idea of either a new player or just new factors when it comes into decision making for your product or service.
Britney Muller: 00:30:53 Absolutely. I think we have to consider that acquisition of a customer, right? We need to think of keyword research in terms of what is just the discovery keywords, the informational keywords? Where are they getting closer to the investigation? Where are they doing comparisons where it might be you versus someone and then transactional queries? Were they’re about to convert or call or send an email, and what does that look like for you? What I typically suggest people do is to flip that triangle on its head and focus on those long tail, lower search volume, high transactional intent keywords.
Erin Sparks: 00:31:32 Absolutely.
Britney Muller: 00:31:33 That is where you’re going to make an ROI way faster than try to target the informational keywords that have tens of thousands of searches, but are too far out of your reach to even focus on yet.
Erin Sparks: 00:31:45 Absolutely.
Britney Muller: 00:31:45 Really start to flip it upside down, focus on the transaction on, focus on the investigation on, and then move your way up-up.
Erin Sparks: 00:31:54 I’ll double down on that also, like we talked about, make sure your interlinks to different pages match that stage of the query because if you’re pushing them too far, too fast…
Britney Muller: 00:32:05 Yes.
Erin Sparks: 00:32:06 … you’re going to increase your balance rates. You’re not going to be getting what you’re getting. It goes hand in hand. You got to be able to match where your consumers are, not only from how they’re coming in, but where you’re routing them to that next stage of the journey.
Britney Muller: 00:32:21 Exactly, exactly.
Erin Sparks: 00:32:21 That was like a holistic Zen moment right there. All right. Obviously, user intent is incredibly, incredibly important, fulfilling the searcher intent, but also you unpacked, you stressed a good bit of your Whiteboard Friday discussion regarding the featured snippet combat. We know it as position zero. We know it as a knowledge panel, and while the knowledge panels to the side but the featured snippet combat, especially with the deduplication of losing the organic rank in light of the favored position zero, how valuable is this real estate in your opinion?
Britney Muller: 00:33:05 I think it’s incredibly valuable. I know people were sort of up in arms when Google removed the organic result for the featured snippet but quite frankly, as a searcher, it’s more helpful, right? It gives you more variety. It’s less redundancy within the search result. That side of me understands and I want to stress to SEOs that if you’re not actively targeting these featured snippets, your competitors will, right? Someone has to show up in voice search for different queries and it’s such a great way to expand your search real estate across voice and across different types to really own that authoritative featured snippet position.
Britney Muller: 00:33:55 Different people are also testing removal of their featured snippet, because they want the FAQ markup, which isn’t available anymore if you’re in a featured snippet. What will happen is that URL will now be somewhere on page two and page two doesn’t show FAQ markup. It’s a really interesting play to see some of these savvier SEOs experiment with losing the featured snippet on purpose to create a larger real estate below and measure the organic traffic there versus the featured snippet.
Erin Sparks: 00:34:29 Absolutely. When it got down to it, it was not only losing the organic listing, but it was also the click rate. What they were experiencing from the click rate of the feature snippet as opposed to the click rate of the organic listing, people are getting all the information they’re wanting to know from that feature snippet.
Britney Muller: 00:34:49 Yeah. I’m so excited.
Erin Sparks: 00:34:50 How does that reconcile to the ROI side of things, the transactional side of things as opposed to the brand support in growth of that value as an authority in the space?
Britney Muller: 00:35:04 Yeah, that’s a great question. My answer would be, finally we get that information. There have been so many half-done research studies claiming to know what the click-through rate of a featured snippet is. With that organic result present, it’s an impossible thing to know. It just is. Google Search Console doesn’t give you that information. These tests are faulty.
Britney Muller: 00:35:28 Now, we’re finally able to perform some better research and better understanding around is the second result having a higher click-through rate for a particular industry? Is the featured snippet getting more traffic? I mean, these are things that we can start to uncover in different sectors. I know we’re really excited and actively working on some of that research.
Erin Sparks: 00:35:53 Well, it’s great to be able to have the information but brand is not nearly as easily measured as click traffic. Boy, that’s a tough sell to your higher ups. Yeah, we’re actually going to stay in the featured because we want to build that authority, that EAT factor and stay away from potentially doubling our click traffic.
Erin Sparks: 00:36:18 Again, it is great to be able to have this conversation regularly happening because now you see SEOs really understanding the real estate that you have on that SERP, that there’s so many valuable areas there and I mean, it’s much more of a, it’s no longer such an unstable scenario. There are anchors of values what we’re seeing with the SERP now that weren’t here five or six years ago. Would you agree with that?
Britney Muller: 00:36:47 I would absolutely agree with that and I would also encourage people to in looking at all of those other staples, consider the keywords that don’t currently have a featured snippet, but could. I have had incredible personal success creating featured snippets in around 30, 40 minutes that didn’t exist previously, because Google didn’t have anything to pull in for that specific answer.
Britney Muller: 00:37:13 It’s really about making some of your own opportunities where you see questions that aren’t being answered, where you see information that isn’t packaged up in a summary, easy to consume and easy to say, voice-wise that Google could use for that spot. It’s absolutely mind blowing how fast you can get a featured snippet to show up if you try for a really low volume query with a question. Yeah, it’s been really fun to play around in that.
Erin Sparks: 00:37:46 The smart play is also looking at these people also ask displays there because not only is it great opportunity to be able to get your featured in there, but wealth of information that you can just deep dive into your own website because that’s literally crowdsourcing information that your consumers are looking for.
Britney Muller: 00:38:07 Exactly. It’s giving you more context about what most people search for. When you expand at People Also Ask box, two more will likely show up at the bottom telling you what are the follow up questions to that, what are people seeking, right? These are definitely things you should be paying attention to and similarly, in different featured snippet-types, we’re seeing those carousels along the bottom. If you’re doing a broad search for running shoes, it’ll have a featured snippet and have for women, for men. It’s basically Google going, what do you want? Let’s disambiguate this. What the heck are you looking for?
Britney Muller: 00:38:44 Paying attention to those nuances in the featured snippets and really the search results that matter to you are incredibly helpful in crafting and organizing your content in a way that includes those things in a way in which Google could potentially pull that information into the search.
Erin Sparks: 00:39:02 I mean, there’s no better research tool than what Google’s actually showing up for us.
Britney Muller: 00:39:06 Absolutely.
Erin Sparks: 00:39:06 You just have to pay attention to it and annotate it. Make sure that you’re watching and documenting this because the last thing you want to do is watch these things and not have some sort of factual representation of where things are.
Erin Sparks: 00:39:23 The rank tools now are great by giving us the ability to understand an inventory, the feature snippets that we have right now but this segues into the last key top of that I wanted to open up for you and you really did stress a good deal on the Whiteboard Friday on this and this was moving from keywords to topics to entities. Really understanding and providing guidance on how you should be looking at your site. It’s not just buyers journey pathways and user funnels, but it’s also how are you actually making a point of evidence and creating a knowledge-based regarding entities that you’re talking about? Can you unpack that for us?
Britney Muller: 00:40:07 Yeah, I think it’s incredibly important to show your authority and expertise in a space by having this breath of entities that correlate with one another and help support the overall goal and information of your website.
Britney Muller: 00:40:25 This is really what Google pays attention to. They’re indexing of information. They obviously have their own entity graph and information that way, but they really, really encourage websites and webmasters to think of what are the people, places, things that correlate with this information or can help support or that people might be searching for and integrating those into your content, into your website can be incredibly valuable for your site.
Erin Sparks: 00:40:57 Absolutely. That’s when you can strike gold in the knowledge panel side of things.
Britney Muller: 00:41:02 Yeah, exactly.
Erin Sparks: 00:41:04 That’s almost being christened by Google as the authority there. The long and short of it is, don’t look at your site structure as an organizational flow, look at are you representing the concept that you’re talking about the best way. If it gets down to… If you’ve got a singular destination page of this entity, build an argument around it with all the chess pieces you have on the board, which are your website pages, as well as the inbound factors coming in, link to the right source. Don’t link to that transactional page, the key page that is truly going to be beneficial to the user and from a data standpoint, Google understanding that you are authority, you may have to shift your link pursuits to be able to have the lift on other areas that you didn’t consider before.
Britney Muller: 00:41:54 Right. If your content starts to get long because of this and because you’re trying to provide supportive entities, make sure that it’s scannable. Make sure that it feels and looks okay on mobile and someone could just scan…
Erin Sparks: 00:42:08 Oh wow.
Britney Muller: 00:42:08 … for the subtitles and understand what it is that you’re getting across. To take that even to the next level, make sure that you’re providing page summaries either at the top or the bottom of the page. We see these summaries, I believe, it was for weight loss, had control over, I want to say 28 of the Top Most Searched for weight loss searches.
Erin Sparks: 00:42:31 Wow.
Britney Muller: 00:42:32 Because it was this really long article about all different types of weight loss and people and fitness and food but at the bottom, it had a really beautiful, summarized kind of takeaway. Google has been using that in featured snippets all over for those weight loss queries. Keeping in mind, long form content can still do incredibly well but the short, summarized, omitting, needless words, think of it as how you would speak it. It’s funny because you don’t realize how concise you should be until you start doing active voice search queries and you start getting long answers back and you’re like, “God, come on. What is the answer?”
Britney Muller: 00:43:21 It puts it into perspective that “Oh, it needs to be real short. People just want to hear it.” They’re either on the move or transferring from thing to thing. Giving people options to consume whether it’d be scanning, whether it’d be a quick summary, whether it’d be audio, what if I’m walking to work and would rather listen to this article? People love video. Giving them these different opportunities and I think Google sees that as well and will reward you and also respect the most popular consuming type. You see videos working really well for all sorts of things.
Erin Sparks: 00:44:00 Very good. That was that last piece that I want to discuss. It was the repurposing of content. Not from a repetition standpoint, but for delivery to the audience. Everybody has their own consumption preference in the digital lanes. We talked about it often, if it’s audio or it’s visual, if predominantly people are searching as opposed to other digital lanes, feeding them in that space and be able to feed mobile as well as desktop search and the like.
Erin Sparks: 00:44:33 You covered a good deal of basis in your video regarding the repurposing. Is that now starting to be more commonplace in the marketing discussions of, okay, we’re going to move this concept. Now, how are all the feeding tubes for all the different… That’s a weird analogy right there, but I mean, is that part and parcel of a mature marketing organization is repurposing for the goal of delivering it to the users’ comfort level?
Britney Muller: 00:45:08 Yeah. I don’t think it’s thought about enough, to be totally honest. I think as marketers, we tend to get really excited by shiny new objects and new pieces of content. I’m just as guilty of this as I’ll work really hard on a particular piece of content and put it out there and sort of forget about it for a while. When really, I should be considering where else could I repurpose this? Where else is my audience? Could I put this into a SlideShare? Could I expand my reach, my online real estate reach with this particular content, and see if it does really, really well on Quora or Reddit.
Britney Muller: 00:45:46 What’s fun is when you get in a specific industry, like at my previous company at Pryde, we experimented with all sorts of different platforms for very technical medical content. We looked at analytics and we decided, okay, we kind of tried Pinterest and SlideShare and YouTube and Flickr. We were trying all sorts of weird things. We saw that we’re getting the highest quality traffic from SlideShare.
Britney Muller: 00:46:15 People wanted this medical information in an easy to consume simple way. We double down on that platform. I highly suggest any of you watching, experiment that for your space, because you’re going to see outliers that outperform the others. I don’t think it’s necessary to invest in every platform out there, every big major player, but what are the players for you and also what do you seen in search results?
Britney Muller: 00:46:41 It’s funny enough Moz has a free domain analysis competitive tool. I can send you the link. What it does is it looks at your website’s top ranking keywords and it tells you who your competitors, based on those keywords, are. It’s the most accurate picture of who you’re up against but more often than not, you’ll see things like Pinterest and YouTube. It’s just a beautiful reinforcement that you should be investing and n repurposing content on these platforms. Not only that, but do it in a strategic way, you know the content that does really well for your site. Know the content that converts users or that brings in the most traffic. Start there. Repurpose the most watched videos into different things. Repurpose the most viewed blog articles. It can be very strategic in that way.
Erin Sparks: 00:47:42 Oh, absolutely. Again, that’s not an anomaly or an error that you’re seeing Pinterest in that competitive space. It means that there’s where the consumers are going. Jump into that platform. Absolutely.
Britney Muller: 00:47:55 Exactly.
Erin Sparks: 00:47:56 Britney, it’s always great to be able to unpack this with you. The last stop along our SEO 2020 train here would be what not to do in 2020.
Britney Muller: 00:48:06 Oh man.
Erin Sparks: 00:48:08 That’s a whole another bloody show. I realized that.
Britney Muller: 00:48:10 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 00:48:11 But top of mind here is what I’ve been watching as kind of a hot potato right now is guest blogging. What do you think? Is that still a viable execution? I know that there’s been some discussions of potential penalties in that space. If rel sponsored is not out there or the nofollow’s aren’t really addressed in the content, what is your thought about? Is guest blogging still a thing?
Britney Muller: 00:48:41 It’s funny is I always think to… The late Eric Ward, who made the greatest points about building links like that and particularly around guest blogging and that the way that you should look at it, and I believe this is true today, is if Google were to disappear tomorrow, would you still get adequate traffic from other sites? If you find an opportunity for a website to publish a post in an area that makes sense and that you think people will visit and read and consume and potentially go to your site because of, I think by all means, you should do that, by all means.
Britney Muller: 00:49:23 Now, when you’re looking at it just from a link perspective, you can get into hot water, especially if you’re spinning out low quality on original content and you’re not doing it for those right reasons, I would focus your efforts elsewhere.
Erin Sparks: 00:49:39 Absolutely, but if you’re actually doing that, then you probably have a few other problems that are…
Britney Muller: 00:49:42 Absolutely.
Erin Sparks: 00:49:43 … having locked away. All right, what else should we not do in 2020?
Britney Muller: 00:49:48 Oh, can we just stop getting in these tips online over what a particular word means. Our industry is built on the backs of some of the most incredible, brilliant, wonderful people and it kills me to see these things unfolding week after week on Twitter about most banal things. I would hope that as an industry, we can help each other level up. We all deserve that and especially the new and upcoming hungry SEOs.
Erin Sparks: 00:50:26 Absolutely.
Britney Muller: 00:50:26 They deserve that more than any of us.
Erin Sparks: 00:50:28 Yeah, because you certainly don’t want to have them see scorched Earth when it comes down to communication. However, we have, as an industry, grown up a bit and we are giving education regularly back to the community but we do slide every once in a while in these Twitter wars. You’re right. It’s completely unnecessary and you hate seeing that type of, what do you want to call it, just this pettiness, right?
Britney Muller: 00:51:00 Yeah. I also think it is super important to take it with a grain of salt. I definitely believe the obstacle is the way. If someone gets upset over something you said or something you published, you’re probably on the right track. The last thing I want is for people witnessing some of us getting attacked online to deter them from putting out content because we need that. We need these new up and coming SEOs and people are testing new material. That’s the most exciting part of our industry. That’s what got all of us into this is how it’s constantly changing.
Erin Sparks: 00:51:33 Absolutely.
Britney Muller: 00:51:34 I think, yeah, I wish to see more people breaking things this year and finding new stuff out.
Erin Sparks: 00:51:41 Yep. Once you mentioned some of the people that are breaking things, we asked in our preshow what excites you about your industry. We know what bugs you but who are breaking some stereotypes and really doing some good experimentation?
Britney Muller: 00:52:00 Gosh, there’s so many. Ruth Everett is doing incredible work with Python in automation of crawling for site speed. Hamlet Batista is cranking out incredible scripts to automate all sorts of SEO stuff. Paul Shapiro, JR Oakes, I mean, Emily Potter just put out that incredible deck that everyone should check out from the women’s conference over in the UK. I mean, it was so refreshing to see her testing the status quo of SEO norms and disproving different things in this particular case and stuff like that is really, really exciting to me.
Britney Muller: 00:52:42 Andy Crestodina and his team are constantly pushing the envelope with content and the things that they’re testing and experimenting with and are so fun to follow. Tyler Reardon is creating a really great Python scripts as well. David Sottimano is a big hero of mine just because he sees things differently and he is pulling in different perspectives that we need in this industry.
Erin Sparks: 00:53:17 You’re setting up my guest list, you know that?
Britney Muller: 00:53:19 Good, good. Then, obviously like, OG Rand Fishkin is doing the most amazing thing in the world right now is SparkToro. I don’t think people even have a clue how powerful this tool is. I mean, it is like scission on steroids. It is unbelievable. I went to school for PR and knowing where your market is and how they’re communicating and who they follow and in such an easy to consume way, I mean, I’m just so proud and excited for him.
Erin Sparks: 00:53:50 Very good.
Jacob Mann: 00:53:51 We’re trying to write down all the names back here.
Erin Sparks: 00:53:53 All right.
Britney Muller: 00:53:53 Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 00:53:54 Good thing we got a transcript, JR Oakes and Paul Shapiro as well. I mean, just you rattling-
Britney Muller: 00:54:03 Alexis Sanders, so many. I could keep going.
Erin Sparks: 00:54:07 Oh, that’s the thing is that and that is the testimony to what’s happening in this industry right now. We’re in a space of experimentation. We’re using machine learning now to the greater good as opposed to Skynet. We’re actually, I’m kidding. We’re plugging in now and we’re testing. We’re trying things out. We’re not fearful of breaking a few things on our website because we’re seeing Google a good deal more forgiving and appreciating. Hey, trying some things out, breaking the norms.
Britney Muller: 00:54:41 Oh my gosh, exactly. Nothing is more refreshing to me than getting emails that aren’t asking those silly basic question but are saying, “Hey, I tested this thing. Look what happened.” Emily Brady is a young green SEO who most people probably have not heard of. She is doing the coolest featured snippet tests I’ve ever seen.
Erin Sparks: 00:55:03 Oh, wow.
Britney Muller: 00:55:04 Her theories are encouraging to me. These are the things that I want other people to see and be inspired by. I think different SEOs on this face help to lift those other up and coming SEOs up, because they’re still looking at this so differently. It’s so powerful and so fun to see how that unfolds.
Erin Sparks: 00:55:25 Absolutely. Well, that’s a good roundup for SEO 2020. That’s ending it up with a nice exclamation point of just lifting up the industry collectively. Kudos to you for giving the shout outs there.
Erin Sparks: 00:55:38 Britney, it’s always a pleasure to have you on the show. We’d certainly like to have you come back again and unpack what’s going on at Moz or what else you’re actually working on regularly. The door is always open to share with our audience. Okay?
Britney Muller: 00:55:53 Thank you so much. I really appreciate it.
Erin Sparks: 00:55:54 Of course. Of course. You had a funny show, a funny moment here it goes just briefly, you were just referencing in our show notes, you were actually supposed to be on The Bachelor but what happened there?
Britney Muller: 00:56:10 This is so funny. I don’t know what happens to me on certain days where you have this information. Yeah, such a weird fact that I never talked about. I can’t believe I put that in the… I’m sorry. That’s super embarrassing. Yeah, I was supposed to be on The Bachelor several years ago and opted out at the very last minute because my dad and my brother were not supportive and rightly so.
Erin Sparks: 00:56:39 Oh man.
Britney Muller: 00:56:39 Yeah, I think it was probably for the best.
Erin Sparks: 00:56:41 Yeah, well, we can certainly support that. I have a daughter, right.
Britney Muller: 00:56:46 What do you think would have happened? If I had been that… Do you think-
Erin Sparks: 00:56:50 You wouldn’t be here? We wouldn’t be-
Britney Muller: 00:56:54 My question to you is, let’s say I did something like that or someone, some new SEO does a show or something, can they come out of that and pick something up in an industry and maintain credibility in this sort of state?
Erin Sparks: 00:57:07 I think so. I think so.
Britney Muller: 00:57:08 Really?
Erin Sparks: 00:57:08 Yeah, I do.
Britney Muller: 00:57:09 I would hope so. I would really hope so. I think that was a weird, sad concern of mine.
Erin Sparks: 00:57:14 Oh, really? Yeah, I can understand. I can understand that. You’re aligning yourself. In one aspect, I think society is a bit more forgiving than anything else, but at the same time, it’s that brand alignment and does that really translate into larger challenges? I don’t know. I think we need to poll our audience.
Britney Muller: 00:57:39 We should. God, that is so funny.
Jacob Mann: 00:57:41 We’ve got the real question in the studio over here.
Erin Sparks: 00:57:43 Was that?
Jacob Mann: 00:57:44 The production studio. It’s not for me. Who was the bachelor that season?
Britney Muller: 00:57:49 Oh. Yeah. It was… He had long dark hair and he did winery stuff. I can’t remember his name. Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 00:58:02 Here’s the thing, Britney, you’re still around killing it and we don’t even know that guy’s name.
Britney Muller: 00:58:07 Oh, thank you. That’s very sweet.
Erin Sparks: 00:58:09 No problem.
Erin Sparks: 00:58:15 It sure it was an honest thing, honest thing and thank you very much for sharing.
Britney Muller: 00:58:19 Fun fact.
Erin Sparks: 00:58:19 Fun fact.
Britney Muller: 00:58:19 Fun weird fact.
Erin Sparks: 00:58:21 All right. We want to make sure that our listeners always check out the news version of the podcast, the bonus podcast of this episode and we certainly unpacked a good deal of topical information. Go check that out. If you want to track down Britney, where can we find you on social?
Britney Muller: 00:58:38 Yeah, probably most easily on Twitter. I am just Britney Muller on Twitter. Also on Instagram, you can find me on LinkedIn. My email at Moz is just firstname.lastname@example.org.
Erin Sparks: 00:58:49 Very cool. All the best. Keep up the good work over at Moz. Any final notes? Any final thoughts for our SEOs in the audience?
Britney Muller: 00:58:57 Oh. Hmm.
Erin Sparks: 00:59:03 One thing and one thing only.
Britney Muller: 00:59:05 Okay. Just to have more empathy for other people moving forward. Yeah.
Erin Sparks: 00:59:13 We’ll roll that. Absolutely. Well, from all of us over on EDGE, thank you so much, Britney for being a part of this show. We are certainly going to catch back up with you here soon. Keep up the good work, all right.
Britney Muller: 00:59:23 Thanks, Erin. I appreciate it.
Erin Sparks: 00:59:24 You’re more than welcome. All right. That’s a wrap up with the EDGE of the Web. Do not forget to like and subscribe EDGE to the Web on YouTube. We want to make sure that you check us down whenever we go live each and every Monday. If you’re feeling up to it, leave us a review. Let us know how we’re doing on the respective platforms. Give us a review on YouTube. I certainly would appreciate the reviews on iTunes and the other podcast aggregators that are out there.
Erin Sparks: 00:59:49 If we’re not bringing you information that you’re wanting to hear, go over to the edgeofthewebradio.com and fill out our anonymous poll. Let us know what you would like to hear and who you would like to actually hear from next. Make sure to check out all the must see videos and insider information over edgeofthewebradio.com. Don’t forget to sign up for our newsletter. You can text through the number 22828 the word EDGETALK and be able to join us right there. You can also join us on edgeofthewebradio.com. We’re sending some great information regarding each and every interview that we do as well as the news of the day.
Erin Sparks: 01:00:23 From all of us over at EDGE on the Web, thanks so much for listening. Next week, we’re going to be talking to JD Prater. Make sure you tune in. It’s going to be a great deep dive into Quora PPC. From all of us over the EDGE, thanks so much. Do not be a piece of cyber driftwood. Bye-bye.