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Stop Recommending Impossible SEO Content Strategies. Do This Instead.

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Stop Recommending Impossible SEO Content Strategies. Do This Instead.


Years ago, I worked with a sales coach who insisted that I was selling my services all wrong.

She’d get on the phone with my prospects and tell them how their “site looked outdated,” their entire site suffered from sub-par content, and every page needed a rewrite.

Oh, and a redesign too.

At one point, she told a small-business prospect that his budget for writing services was “insulting” and way too low. But, of course, the poor prospect had a hard enough time trying to scrape together 5K for writing services…so my consultant’s quote of 20K was way out of his budget.

(This was the final straw and I fired her the next day.)

The thing is, my consultant wasn’t necessarily wrong. Often, the entire site’s content did suck. And many designs were terrible. 

But forcing the client to eat the entire content enchilada RIGHT NOW — when all he wanted was just a couple bites — was enough to mess up the sale. 

She was dictating a strategy that the client couldn’t implement — not right away.

And that’s the problem.

I’ve been chewing over the statistic that 56% of SEOs say their suggestions get implemented less than 40% of the time.

Ouch.

On the one hand, it’s easy to blame the end client. We’ve all had the client or boss who gives excellent lip service to our brilliant ideas — and then refuses to implement them.

Maybe because it’s “not the right time” or because the company is in a busy period. Bottom-line, nothing happens, and the suggestions go nowhere.

But then, Ammon Johns, a colleague and one of the original SEO folks in the industry, said something interesting on Facebook.

Ammon’s take on the statistic: SEOs suggest strategies that companies can’t implement for whatever reason. It’s not because they don’t want to change their process. It’s that they need a slower runway to make it happen.

We’re giving our clients (and prospects) a pie-in-the-sky, best-case strategy scenario…when what they need is something more baby-stepped and easier to implement.

For instance, these SEO writing suggestions may overwhelm your client

  • Suggesting a client increase their blogging frequency to twice a week when the client is already time-crunched.
  • Advising the client to make a massive investment in SEO content services immediately rather than spreading the work over time.
  • Telling the client that what they want will take more work than they bargained for — for instance, they’ll need a redesign AND a content strategy, AND every page needs a rewrite.

Sure, the content and strategy suggestions may be on point. After all, sometimes, it makes more sense to do a lot of the work immediately. And some site designs do look outdated and have horrible usability.

But if you hit your client (or prospect) with everything at once, you run the risk of the client not implementing your suggestions.

(And guess who the client will blame when they aren’t getting the results they want. Even if they only implemented 10 percent of your suggestions.) 

Or, in the case of selling your services, overwhelming your prospect with ideas that she can’t implement may mean you lose the gig. She’ll take one look at your proposal and think, “This is way more than I bargained for right now. I don’t have the funds/time/brainpower for this.”

Even if she agrees with your recommendations. 

It’s tricky.

You have to meet your SEO writing clients where they are.

That may mean suggesting a fraction of the actual workload now — and explaining a baby-step process that can help get everything done on a longer timeline.

That may mean suggesting a low-budget thing to get your foot in the door — and using that project to sell your skills.

Or sometimes, it means thinking super-creatively to help your client meet their SEO writing goals. For instance, video is fantastic for teams with subject-matter experts who hate to write — but they don’t mind being on-camera for five minutes.

You can take that video (and the transcript) and transform yourself into a content repurposing hero.  

It’s OK to baby-step your content campaign and get things done super slowly. What’s not OK is suggesting deliverables and timelines that aren’t possible for your client/team to implement.

That’s a setup for learned helplessness (why can’t we ever master SEO?), poor results, and resentment. If you’re freelancing, it means lost sales.

Ain’t nobody got time for that.

What do you think?

Have you received an overwhelming strategy that you had no idea how to implement? Or, have you accidentally overwhelmed a prospect or team member with all your fantastic ideas? Leave a comment and let me know!



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SEO

Google Top Stories Topics Sections On Desktop

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Google Top Stories Topics Sections On Desktop


Google Search is now grouping some of its Top Stories sections for some queries by topics. This was working on mobile for a while but is now reportedly working for the desktop Top Stories Google Search results.

Here is a screenshot for a query on [biden] where Google Search on desktop is showing a topic section for abortion articles and a topic section for the US military in Europe. You can click on the image to enlarge or check it out yourself for that query.

click for full size

Yes, the layout is now new, it is from December 2021 but the topics on desktop search is new according to Shalom Goodman, who is a news SEO and would know this.

He shared more screenshots on Twitter:

It makes sense to group some queries by topics for the Top Stories section.

Also, I wasn’t sure if this was new, but the “Topics In News” section on the right is supposedly new:

Forum discussion at Twitter.





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64.2% Of Sites Use WordPress

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64.2% Of Sites Use WordPress


WordPress continues to dominate the content management systems (CMS) market and is currently used by 64.2% of websites that have a CMS, according to data from W3Techs.com.

Shopify is a distant second for June 2022 and accounts for 6.3% of the CMS market.

Wix, Squarespace, and Joomla round out the top five with less than 3.5% market share each.

CMS Market Share June 2022 is available to reprint with attribution; see Creative Commons license for details.

W3Techs notes that 33.1% of websites do not use any of the content management systems they monitor.

WordPress is therefore used by 43% of all websites, and 64.2% of those with an identifiable CMS.

WordPress Plans To Continue Working On Security, Stability

WordPress shows no signs of slowing down and is currently about five years into a ten-year project that involves rewriting its entire codebase.

In a recent interview, Josepha Haden Chomphosy, Executive Director of WordPress, told SEJ,

“…the next year, as with all of the years in a project like that, is making sure we are still as stable and capable as a CMS as people have come to expect while also still pushing forward with a newer more modern way to manage your content online.”

WordPress rolled out version change Arturo 6.0 this month and within two weeks, 36.2% of WP sites had updated to it.

Roger Montti reported that WordPress shared a proposal for a plugin checker that would improve security and site performance by proactively vetting plugins, as well.

Shopify Enters B2B Marketplace With June Update

Shopify released its Summer ’22 Edition in June, adding more than 100 new features for users.

A new feature simply and aptly called “B2B” will connect Shopify Plus merchants with wholesalers and offer integrations with NetSuite, Brightpearl, Acumatica, and others for a more seamless experience.

See Brian Frederick’s coverage here to learn more.

Wix Publishes Structured Data Guide For SEO Pros

Wix, in third place for CMS market share this month, released “Wix Structured Data Guide: How To Use Standard & Custom Markup” in June.

Contributing author Mordy Oberstein, Head of SEO Branding at Wix, shared his comprehensive guide to implementing structured data on Wix here at Search Engine Journal.

“In fewer than three years, Wix went from supporting little by way of structured data to offering SEO pros and site owners the ability to do nearly whatever they want with relative ease,” Oberstein wrote.

He also noted that due to recent platform updates, any content elsewhere on the internet around this topic is now out of date.

See his guide above to learn more about applying structured data to your Wix site.

Stay tuned for next month’s CMS Market Share Monthly report.

Related reading:


Featured image: Paulo Bobita/Search Engine Journal
Data source: W3Techs.com, Usage statistics of content management systems, as of June 27, 2002.





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When Your SEO Competitors Don’t Match What You Know

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When Your SEO Competitors Don't Match What You Know


You know your competitors, and you’re not going to let some damned SEO tool tell you different!

Hey, I’ll give you the first part, but there are a lot of reasons that the results from a tool like True Competitor might not match your expectations, and that could be a good thing.

I’m going to dig into five of those reasons:

  1. You’re living in the past

  2. You’ve hit a brick wall

  3. You can’t see the trees

  4. You’re stuck in one tree

  5. We’re just plain wrong

First, the toughest one to hear — the world is changing, and you’re not changing with it.

1. You’re living in the past

Look, I know Big Wally at Big Wally’s Widget World said your Grandma’s meatloaf was “just okay, I guess” at the church potluck in ‘87, but you need to move on. Even if you’re not quite-so-literally stuck in the past, you may be operating on an outdated sense of who your competitors are. Especially online, the competitive landscape can change quickly, and it’s worth re-evaluating from time to time.

2. You’ve hit a brick wall

Quite literally — you’ve run headlong into your own brick-and-mortar wall. As a business with physical locations, your competitors with physical locations are absolutely important, but from a search perspective, they may not represent who you’re actually competing with online.

Take, for example, McDonald’s — you might expect the competition to include Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell, and other fast food chains with physical restaurants. Meanwhile, here are the second through fourth results from True Competitor:

While DoorDash, Grubhub, and Uber Eats don’t have traditional, physical locations, these are the places where McDonald’s online customers go to order, and they represent a significant amount of organic SERP real estate. From an SEO standpoint, this is reality.

3. You can’t see the trees

You can see the whole forest from where you’re standing, and that’s great, but are you missing the diversity and distinctiveness of the trees?

This is easier to show than tell. Let’s take a look at big box retailer, Target. True Competitor returns the following top three:

No big surprises here, and no one should be shocked that this list includes not only brick-and-mortar competitors, but online retail juggernauts like Amazon. Let’s take a deeper look, though (the following are competitors #8, #7, and #22 in our current data):

Target isn’t just up against the whole-forest, big box retailers — they also have to contend with niche competition. Their competitors in the video game space include not only brick-and-mortar retailers like GameStop, but competitor-partners like Sony and Nintendo (which both sell hardware and software directly online).

Not every grove of trees is going to have the same needs and growing conditions. Your competitive landscape could have dozens of ecosystems, and each of them requires unique research and likely a unique strategy.

4. You’re stuck in one tree

On the other hand, you could be stuck in just one tree. Let’s take Ford Motor Company as an example. Savvy marketers at Ford know they’re not just up against legacy automakers like Chevrolet and Toyota, but up-and-coming competitors like Tesla and Rivian.

That niche is incredibly important, but let’s take a look at what the SERPs are telling us:

These are Ford’s #1, #2, and #5 competitors, and they aren’t automakers — they’re automotive content producers. Does this mean that Chevy and Tesla aren’t Ford’s competitors? Of course not. It means that those automakers are infrequently appearing in SERPs alongside Ford. Ford is competing with mentions of their own products (makes and models) in leading online publications.

5. We’re just plain wrong

Hey, it happens — I’m not here to claim that we’re perfect. SERP-based competitive analysis has a couple of limitations. First, as discussed, SERP analysis doesn’t always reflect the brick-and-mortar world. From an SEO perspective, that’s fine (if they’re not ranking, we’re not competing with them for search share), but there are other essential pieces to the puzzle.

Second, our SERP-based analysis is based on national results and does not reflect regional or hyperlocal competition. Some regional businesses do have national competitors, and that’s worth knowing, but localized perspectives are important as well.

Maybe it’s a good thing…

What if a tool like True Competitor only returned information that you already knew? I guess you could pat yourself on the back and move on with life, but what did you learn? To me, the entire point of SERP-based competitive analysis is to challenge your expectations and your point of view. If the results don’t match what you expect, that mismatch represents opportunity.

More likely than not, it doesn’t mean you’re wrong (unless you’ve let vanity and personal history get the best of you) — it means that you’re missing a perspective or a niche that could be important. If you can see that missing perspective as money left on the table, then you’ve got a good chance to pick it up and walk away with a bit more in your pocket.


The Competitive Analysis Suite is now available to all Moz Pro customers, and we’d love to hear your feedback via the ‘Make a Suggestion’ button in the app.

Sign up for a free trial to access the Competitive Research Suite!

Already a Moz Pro customer? Log in now for instant access!



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