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SearchLove Boston 2019 - Tom Capper - The Two Tiered SERP: Ranking for the Most Competitive Terms

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Like it or loathe it, as SEOs we often find ourselves being asked to explain rankings, especially for highly visible head terms but I’ve noticed in the last few years that for these most competitive terms, the normal rules don’t always apply. In this session, I'll talk through new data, examples, and real world tests to explore the hypotheses that Google is increasingly going beyond our normal understanding of ranking factors.

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SearchLove Boston 2019 - Tom Capper - The Two Tiered SERP: Ranking for the Most Competitive Terms

  1. 1. The Two-Tiered SERP SearchLove Boston 2019 Ranking for the Most Competitive Terms
  2. 2. @THCapper The Dreaded Conversation @THCapper
  3. 3. What are your views on Donald Trump?
  4. 4. Why aren’t we first for {head term} ?! - your boss, every week
  5. 5. @THCapper@THCapper
  6. 6. @THCapper@THCapper
  7. 7. @THCapper I was missing something @THCapper
  8. 8. @THCapper@THCapper https://www.slideshare.net/THCapper/does-google-still-need- links-searchlove-san-diego-2017
  9. 9. @THCapper https://www.slideshare.net/THCapper/does-google-still-need- links-searchlove-san-diego-2017 @THCapper Yes, it does
  10. 10. @THCapper I had part of the answer @THCapper
  11. 11. At the competitive, data-rich top end, links mean increasingly little Me, February 2017
  12. 12. @THCapper@THCapper Strength of correlation: Domain Authority & Rankings February 2017 October 2018 0.07 0.02
  13. 13. SEO in 2018 is winning at user testing, brand awareness, and perception Me, February 2017
  14. 14. @THCapper I was still wrong @THCapper
  15. 15. @THCapper What if: Head terms are no longer about ranking factors ? @THCapper
  16. 16. @THCapper@THCapper Ranking Factors
  17. 17. @THCapper@THCapper Ranking Factors Not Ranking Factors?
  18. 18. @THCapper The Two- Tiered SERP @THCapper Ranking Factors Not Ranking Factors?
  19. 19. @THCapper Evidence Explanation Implications @THCapper Agenda
  20. 20. Back to basics: Why might a site rank well?
  21. 21. @THCapper Google is changing (it’s a cliché) @THCapper
  22. 22. Google in 2017: 31,584 experiments 2,453 search changes https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/17/google-tests-changes-to-its-search-algorithm-how-search-works.html
  23. 23. @THCapperhttps://moz.com/blog/how-often-does-google-update-its-algorithm
  24. 24. @THCapperhttps://moz.com/blog/seo-back-to-basics
  25. 25. @THCapper Why is that site outranking me? Basic technical
  26. 26. @THCapper Why is that site outranking me? Basic technical Targeting
  27. 27. @THCapper Why is that site outranking me? Basic technical Links Targeting
  28. 28. @THCapper Why is that site outranking me? Basic technical Links Targeting Hygiene factors
  29. 29. @THCapper 2004 Reasonable surfer 2011 Panda 2012 Penguin 2014 Pigeon 2015 Mobilegeddon @THCapper
  30. 30. @THCapper Building on the old model @THCapper
  31. 31. @THCapper https://www.slideshare.net/DistilledSEO/searchlove-boston-2017-will-critchlow- building-robot-allegiances
  32. 32. @THCapper You sucked @THCapper
  33. 33. @THCapper@THCapper https://www.slideshare.net/DistilledSEO/searchlove-boston-2017-will-critchlow- building-robot-allegiances
  34. 34. @THCapper I scored 0% @THCapper
  35. 35. @THCapper I scored 0% ...repeatedly @THCapper
  36. 36. I’m a frog & Google is a saucepan
  37. 37. @THCapper We are asking the wrong questions Basic technical Links Targeting Hygiene factors
  38. 38. Evidence
  39. 39. @THCapper@THCapper https://www.slideshare.net/THCapper/does-google-still-need- links-searchlove-san-diego-2017
  40. 40. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://www.slideshare.net/THCapper/does-google-still-need- links-searchlove-san-diego-2017
  41. 41. @THCapper Strength of correlation: Domain Authority & Rankings May 2015 (Moz) February 2017 (Me) 0.07 0.26
  42. 42. @THCapper Moz Study My Study 17,600 queries from KWP 4,900 queries from STAT
  43. 43. @THCapper Moz Study My Study 17,600 queries from KWP 4,900 queries from STAT Top 50 results Top 10 results
  44. 44. @THCapper Moz Study My Study 17,600 queries from KWP 4,900 queries from STAT Top 50 results Top 10 results Desktop only (?) Desktop & Smartphone
  45. 45. @THCapper Moz Study My Study 17,600 queries from KWP 4,900 queries from STAT Top 50 results Top 10 results Desktop only (?) Desktop & Smartphone May 2015 Feb 2017, Oct 2018, May 2019
  46. 46. @THCapper Moz Study My Study 17,600 queries from KWP 4,900 queries from STAT Top 50 results Top 10 results Desktop only (?) Desktop & Smartphone May 2015 Feb 2017, Oct 2018, May 2019 Mean Spearman correlations Mean Spearman correlations
  47. 47. @THCapper Moz Study My Study 17,600 queries from KWP 4,900 queries from STAT Top 50 results Top 10 results Desktop only (?) Desktop & Smartphone May 2015 Feb 2017, Oct 2018, May 2019 Mean Spearman correlations Mean Spearman correlations
  48. 48. @THCapper Links are less important in the top 10? @THCapper
  49. 49. @THCapper I need a fairer comparison @THCapper
  50. 50. @THCapper Hypothesis: The higher you rank, the less “ranking factors” matter @THCapper
  51. 51. @THCapper Prediction: We’ll see a weaker LRD & ranking correlation in positions 1-5 @THCapper
  52. 52. @THCapper@THCapper 0.036 6-10
  53. 53. @THCapper@THCapper 0.028 0.036 1-56-10
  54. 54. @THCapper@THCapper 1-5 0.028 0.036 6-10 0.067 0.053 Branded Search Volume Linking Root Domains
  55. 55. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://www.stonetemple.com/link-as-a-ranking-factor/
  56. 56. @THCapper@THCapper Top 50 vs. Top 10 0.33 0.29 DA of linking URLS Links 0.32 PA of linking URLShttps://www.stonetemple.co m/link-as-a-ranking-factor/
  57. 57. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://www.stonetemple.co m/link-as-a-ranking-factor/ Top 50 vs. Top 10 0.33 0.29 DA of linking URLS Links 0.32 PA of linking URLS 0.06 0.11 DABranded Search Volume 0.05 LRDs
  58. 58. @THCapper Hypothesis: The higher you rank, the less “ranking factors” matter @THCapper
  59. 59. @THCapper Hypothesis: The higher you rank, the less “ranking factors” matter @THCapper
  60. 60. @THCapper Caveat: We only looked at one factor @THCapper
  61. 61. @THCapper Caveat: We only looked at one factor @THCapper (& one potential factor)
  62. 62. @THCapper@THCapper Caveat: We lack a control
  63. 63. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://moz.com/blog/seo-ranking-factors-and-correlation
  64. 64. @THCapper Theory: Head terms are no longer about ranking factors @THCapper
  65. 65. @THCapper@THCapper Evidence: 1. Links less relevant in the top 5
  66. 66. @THCapper@THCapper
  67. 67. @THCapper Rankings 2 weeks before Mother’s Day Site 1 Interflora 2 Flying Flowers 3 M&S 4 Serenata 5 NextFlowers 6 eFlorist 7 & 8 WaitroseFlorist 9 Appleyard
  68. 68. @THCapper Ubiquitous offline brands
  69. 69. @THCapper Lesser known, online-only brands
  70. 70. @THCapper Fairly well recognized, primarily online
  71. 71. @THCapper Rankings 2 weeks before Mother’s Day Site Specialist? 1 Interflora Yes 2 Flying Flowers Yes 3 M&S No 4 Serenata Yes 5 NextFlowers Ish 6 eFlorist Yes 7 & 8 WaitroseFlorist Ish 9 Appleyard Yes
  72. 72. @THCapper Rankings 2 weeks before Mother’s Day Site Specialist? DA 1 Interflora Yes 53 2 Flying Flowers Yes 46 3 M&S No 82 4 Serenata Yes 56 5 NextFlowers Ish 40 6 eFlorist Yes 44 7 & 8 WaitroseFlorist Ish 42 9 Appleyard Yes 44
  73. 73. @THCapper Site Specialist? DA BSV 1 Interflora Yes 53 212,000 2 Flying Flowers Yes 46 24,000 3 M&S No 82 3,060,000 4 Serenata Yes 56 5,000 5 NextFlowers Ish 40 4,850,000 6 eFlorist Yes 44 16,000 7 & 8 WaitroseFlorist Ish 42 924,000 9 Appleyard Yes 44 1,700 Rankings 2 weeks before Mother’s Day
  74. 74. @THCapper Site Specialist? DA BSV 1 Interflora Yes 53 212,000 2 Flying Flowers Yes 46 24,000 3 M&S No 82 3,060,000 4 Serenata Yes 56 5,000 5 NextFlowers Ish 40 4,850,000 6 eFlorist Yes 44 16,000 7 & 8 WaitroseFlorist Ish 42 924,000 9 Appleyard Yes 44 1,700 Rankings 2 weeks before Mother’s Day
  75. 75. @THCapper Nice rankings... shame if something happened to them. @THCapper
  76. 76. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  77. 77. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  78. 78. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  79. 79. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  80. 80. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  81. 81. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  82. 82. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  83. 83. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  84. 84. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  85. 85. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  86. 86. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  87. 87. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  88. 88. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  89. 89. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  90. 90. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  91. 91. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  92. 92. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers Offline brands: Doing pretty well
  93. 93. @THCapper Keyword: Mother’s day flowers Offline brands: Doing pretty well
  94. 94. @THCapper Eflorist & Serenata: Strong domains you never heard of, the “SEO” winners Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  95. 95. @THCapper Why is that site outranking me? Basic technical Links Targeting Hygiene factors
  96. 96. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on Keyword: Mother’s day flowers
  97. 97. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on
  98. 98. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on
  99. 99. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on
  100. 100. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on
  101. 101. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on
  102. 102. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on
  103. 103. @THCapper Flying Flowers & Appleyard Small brands, small domains, clung on
  104. 104. @THCapper Flying Flowers Simple, price-orientated, emphasis on free delivery
  105. 105. @THCapper Site DA BSV Specialist? Change WaitroseFlorist 42 924,000 Ish +7 M&S 82 3,060,000 No +4 Winners
  106. 106. @THCapper Losers Site DA BSV Specialist? Change eFlorist 44 16,000 Yes -5 Serenata 56 5,000 Yes -16
  107. 107. @THCapper Hangers on Site DA BSV Specialist? Change Interflora 53 212,000 Yes -2 Flying Flowers 46 24,000 Yes -2 NextFlowers 40 4,850,000 Ish 0 Appleyard 44 1,700 Yes 0
  108. 108. @THCapper@THCapper Evidence: 1. Links less relevant in the top 5 2. SERPs change when they become high volume
  109. 109. @THCapper Money where my mouth is @THCapper
  110. 110. @THCapper Valentine’s Day strategy 1. Free delivery 2. Same day / free delivery focus in meta data 3. Push cheaper, postable products
  111. 111. @THCapper Valentine’s Day results: Top keywords Keyword Change in 14-day run-up Flower delivery +2 Flowers +2 Spring flowers - Valentine’s card messages +2 Flower delivery UK +2 Send flowers UK - Roses +1
  112. 112. @THCapper Mother’s Day 2019 pushback 1. No more free delivery 2. No more letterbox flowers 3. Otherwise identical
  113. 113. @THCapper Mother’s Day 2019 results: Top keywords Keyword Change in 14-day run-up Flower delivery -2 Send flowers UK +1 Flower delivery UK -4 Flowers -5 Send flowers -3 Order flowers online -2 Flowers UK -1
  114. 114. @THCapper@THCapper Theory: Head terms are no longer about ranking factors
  115. 115. @THCapper@THCapper Evidence: 1. Links less relevant in the top 5 2. SERPs change when they become high volume 3. Pricing affects rankings
  116. 116. @THCapper Intent @THCapper
  117. 117. @THCapper Medic update: Winners Site Visibility NHS +4.6% WebMB +6.5% Healthline +3.5% Bupa +4.9% Cosmopolitan +4.6% Elle +3.6%
  118. 118. @THCapper Medic update: Winners Site Visibility NHS +4.6% WebMB +6.5% Healthline +3.5% Bupa +4.9% Cosmopolitan +4.6% Elle +3.6%
  119. 119. @THCapper Medic update: Winners Site Visibility NHS +4.6% WebMB +6.5% Healthline +3.5% Bupa +4.9% Cosmopolitan +4.6% Elle +3.6%
  120. 120. @THCapper Medic update: Winners Site Visibility NHS +4.6% WebMB +6.5% Healthline +3.5% Bupa +4.9% Cosmopolitan +4.6% Elle +3.6%
  121. 121. @THCapper -20% traffic @THCapper
  122. 122. Revenue impact?
  123. 123. @THCapper
  124. 124. @THCapper
  125. 125. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://www.distilled.net/resources/john-mueller-at-brightonseo/
  126. 126. @THCapper@THCapper Theory: Head terms are no longer about ranking factors
  127. 127. @THCapper@THCapper Evidence: 1. Links less relevant in the top 5 2. SERPs change when they become high volume 3. Pricing affects rankings 4. Google is re-assessing intents for established keywords
  128. 128. Explanation
  129. 129. @THCapper Why is this happening? @THCapper
  130. 130. @THCapper Let’s practice some empathy @THCapper
  131. 131. “what percent of users clicked through a picture-link and then quickly clicked back” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/17/google-tests-changes-to-its-search-algorithm-how-search-works.html
  132. 132. @THCapper@THCapper KPI 1: Pogo-stick rate
  133. 133. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://moz.com/blog/misuses-4-google-analytics-metrics-debunked
  134. 134. “whether there was a significant increase in the time until they made their first interaction” https://www.cnbc.com/2018/09/17/google-tests-changes-to-its-search-algorithm-how-search-works.html
  135. 135. @THCapper@THCapper KPI 1: KPI 2: Pogo-stick rate Time to SERP interaction
  136. 136. @THCapper@THCapper Do links get you this? KPI 1: KPI 2: Pogo-stick rate Time to SERP interaction
  137. 137. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://www.distilled.net/resources/john-mueller-at-brightonseo/
  138. 138. @THCapper Reminder: Links are a proxy for popularity & trust @THCapper
  139. 139. @THCapper Potential factors: - Price - Aesthetics - Short-sighted interstitials @THCapper
  140. 140. What should you do about it?
  141. 141. Don’t tweet this: @THCapper
  142. 142. The fundamentals still work
  143. 143. @THCapper “Online” @THCapper
  144. 144. @THCapper@THCapper Removed “online” Added back “online”
  145. 145. @THCapper Optimize for Google’s metrics @THCapper
  146. 146. @THCapper@THCapper KPI 1: KPI 2: Pogo-stick rate Time to SERP interaction
  147. 147. @THCapper What impacts pogo sticking? @THCapper
  148. 148. @THCapper https://youtu.be/At51X-aZ4Y4 First Impressions
  149. 149. @THCapper Price
  150. 150. @THCapper Pop-ups
  151. 151. @THCapper Pagespeed https://www.thinkwithgoogle.com/feature/mobile/
  152. 152. @THCapper@THCapper KPI 1: KPI 2: Pogo-stick rate Time to SERP interaction
  153. 153. @THCapper What impacts SERP behaviour? @THCapper
  154. 154. @THCapper MetaData
  155. 155. @THCapper@THCapperhttps://www.distilled.net/resources/ppc-seo-synergy-how-to-find-efficiencies-between-the-two-channels/
  156. 156. @THCapper Brand
  157. 157. @THCapper “But I can’t do anything about brand” @THCapper
  158. 158. @THCapper
  159. 159. @THCapper
  160. 160. @THCapper Or just run ads! @THCapper
  161. 161. @THCapper What about existing customers? @THCapper
  162. 162. @THCapper Don’t piss people off @THCapper
  163. 163. @THCapper How can I measure this? ● Branded search ● Social following ● Survey data https://www.distilled.net/resources/measuring-brand-awareness/
  164. 164. @THCapper What about intent? @THCapper
  165. 165. @THCapper Be ready @THCapper
  166. 166. @THCapper@THCapper
  167. 167. Final Takeaways
  168. 168. @THCapper@THCapper Takeaways: 1. Traditional ranking factors are not enough 2. Inherit Google’s KPIs 3. But don’t abandon the foundations just yet
  169. 169. Thank You

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