Table of Contents
This month's newsletter intro contributed by SEO team member Abby Reimer.
What a week, huh? If you're feeling distracted, you're not alone - 47% of employees have reported feeling distracted by the 2020 U.S. election. A few tips to ease the stress? CNBC suggests cooking a meal (or baking), cleaning out that closet you've been meaning to, and making sure to take news breaks.
And our own break came in the form of some exciting news last week: Our work with CaringBridge has been selected as the winner of the 2020 Search Engine Land Awards Best Overall SEO Initiative for Small Business!
So a big congrats to our SEO team, and make sure to tune into this year’s SMX - Search Marketing Expo, where we’ll be detailing more about our process. (Or you can read the case study here.)
Now let's turn it over to the search news. This month's Searchlite covers holiday spending, if it's worth it to have an SEO agency on retainer, and more:
The Story: We take a closer look at SEO retainers, answering common questions and explaining why, in most scenarios, it’s the best way to structure an engagement.
Why it Matters: It’s understandable to be skeptical of retainers, especially for a service such as SEO in which outcomes are far from guaranteed. Our natural inclination is to want to pay for the amount of time spent on a service rather than having to pay a flat rate. However, the fact of the matter is that retainers are not only better for agencies but, more importantly, better for clients.
Having a retainer means your agency is incentivized to work more efficiently, not less efficiently. It also guarantees the cost burden will be on the agency if a project takes longer than expected. And, importantly, it reframes the client-agency relationship from that of hourly service provider to long-term partner. For some great information on why it's often better for businesses to work with agencies in the first place, we recommend this article by Rand Fishkin.
The Story: Ovative has outlined five macro trends that will be impacting holiday shopping this year: the global pandemic, the 2020 presidential election, ongoing social justice movements, key online holiday dates (such as Amazon Prime Days), and early shipping cut-offs to meet online demands.
They also found that 80% of consumers are planning on changing their holiday shopping this year, with accelerated online shopping, higher shipping expectations, more mobile shopping, and category shifts based on less in-person celebrations.
Why it Matters: These are some really big and unprecedented changes that all marketers will have to manage this year. Ovative's guide breaks down 3 key steps to managing these shifts this season, and a big one is maximizing digital. Enter SEO and SEM. With so many people online shopping, it will be crucial to have an edge in this increasingly competitive space.
[Podcast] Hey Google, Are You too Big?
by Planet Money
The Story: The US DOJ filed an anti-trust lawsuit against Google last month and it might turn out to be the biggest federal case against a tech company. As with any anti-trust lawsuit, it's complex. This podcast breaks down what you need to know in 18 minutes.
Why it Matters: We all know that Google is the dominant search engine. But, did you know that they pay Apple $10 billion dollars each year to be their default search engine? That represents 20% of Apple's annual profits.
Google pays big money to lock out competitors and be everywhere consumers are searching. If the courts agree with the government that Google's practices ultimately harm the consumer, the door may open for more search engine competition in the future.
by Kevin Indig
The Story: SEO develops too quickly to rely on outdated principles. Kevin Indig covers what search actually looks like today. One of our favorite points was his comment on "category-specific ranking factors" - meaning that Google weighs ranking signals differently based on the type of query. For example, E-A-T (Expertise, Authority, and Trust) signals may apply more significantly to YMYL (Your Money Your Life) sites like healthcare and finance.
Why it Matters: Overall, the post serves as a pertinent reminder that not everything deemed "crucial" for SEO success will apply to your site, so it's more important than ever to consider your site's vertical along with user intent. And as Google continues to evolve into more of an 'answer engine' than a search engine, we must continue to optimize our content for the evolving formats, such as Google Discover.
The Story: FAQ pages are an important step in the buying process and can help convert mid-funnel customers from organic search. Ann Smarty goes into detail on specific action items you can take to up your FAQ game! Including: creating concise answers, using multiple content formats, and structuring your FAQ page is a way that works for your audience.
Why it Matters: FAQ and answer pages help users and potential customers answer questions about your products or services that search engines may never surface. Your FAQ page may be the first point of contact for potential customers, and shorten buyer journeys by lessening the confusion around the product or service, leading to a higher converting user base.
Other Interesting Stories
Free Tool of the Month: Word Counter Plus
This useful, free tool lets you right-click to view stats on the selected text. Our favorite aspect of this tool is that it lets us see the word + character counts of a given text. Perfect for quickly determining how long a page title is, or how many words a competitors' blog post uses.