- Google has the ability to measure content quality signals like never before, and with each new Core Update, they understand content quality more as humans do.
- Google uses different search models depending on the search query, meaning ranking signals can vary depending on search intent.
- In a recent correlation analysis we did in the sports ticketing industry, the top factors that correlated with good rankings were long-form landing page content and high domain authority.
- Given Google’s guidance about their forthcoming 2021 web vitals update, page experience and performance are likely going to become more essential for ranking on page one.
- LinkGraph’s CTO explains how machine learning is helping us better understand how Google finds and evaluates content quality signals when ranking web pages.
What makes a web page rank on the first page of Google? Historically, the best correlation studies regressed thousands of search factors against page one rankings in an attempt to understand the primary drivers of SERP performance.
But these ranking factors are weighted differently depending on the type of search. Google uses varying search models depending on the search intent behind the question. Local searches with the map pack, higher economic value searches with high CPC, informational queries with high search volume, searches where the most relevant results may be rich media like videos/images, and even search within highly regulated industries like health and money, can all weight ranking factors differently
To make correlation studies even more challenging, Google updates its core algorithm several times a year, meaning those signals continue to evolve. As Google continues to refine its ability to measure and analyze those signals, their bots are getting better at understanding website quality the way that humans do.
Opening Google’s black box and the North star
In the last decade, the academic fields of machine learning and natural language processing have made great strides. Starting around 2012, Google’s search algorithms evolved beyond regression-based models towards deep learning. Google’s ranking algorithm has now become a black box, and even their engineers find it challenging at times to understand why their models produce the results they do.
Ultimately, we know their goal has always been to bring the highest quality search results to users, and they’ve always done the best they could with the technologies and datasets available to them at the time.
Every core update is consistent with what they have been telling us for years: they reward high-quality pages and penalize low-quality sites and spam. Google’s updates have always been marching in the same direction, and it’s well understood among SEOs that there is a North Star towards:
- Higher-quality content
- Fast, snappy user experiences
- Increasing site authority and reputation
What can be frustrating for webmasters is Google’s lack of specific guidance about which specific ranking factors matter the most in their specific industries? When studying how certain properties like page speed, text content, and backlinks relate to rankings, advanced SEOs are turning to correlation analysis and machine learning tools to better understand how Google finds these signals through the noise.
What we learned about the primary drivers of SERP rankings
We look into an industry-specific correlation analysis, and what we learned about the primary drivers of SERP rankings.
To better understand these signals, we studied the correlation of 18 important ranking factors across 200 searches in the sports ticketing vertical. Each keyword had a CPC of over $8.
What we discovered was that the most important factors that were correlated with top rankings were high Domain Authority and long-form landing page content. Domain organic traffic value, URL organic traffic, and page load speed were among the weaker correlations.
Unfiltered backlink count and Referring Domain counts themselves were not as strongly correlated as metrics like Moz’s Domain Authority, which differentiates between low-quality links and high-value links. Additionally, Majestic’s Trust Flow and Citation Flow metrics proved less correlated to ranking on the first page then Moz’s Domain Authority.
For the startup client, we were working with, this analysis taught us that maximizing the amount of page rank on their most competitive landing pages was critical in order to contend with the heavyweights in their space, more than anything else they could do for their SEO.
In our analysis, we were surprised to see that page load speeds weren’t as strong of a factor as we might have expected. Nevertheless, given Google’s guidance about their forthcoming 2021 web vitals update, performance signals are likely to become more important. Even though these signals may not be as important as site authority in the algorithm today, I would strongly advise brands to begin preparing for the update and begin making on-page content improvements and page speed improvements right now and understand how your site stacks up in the ‘Chrome User Experience’ report.
What this means for ranking on page one in your industry
If you’re an upstart and looking to break into page one of Google, most of these Google algorithm updates should come as very good news because they create a more democratic SEO landscape. In every correlation analysis, we’ve performed, site authority has always been the most influential factor. It’s also the hardest ranking factor to improve because link building takes such a concerted amount of effort and can take years in big industries.
Seeing other ranking factors demonstrating strong influence over rankings – such as content length and quality, page speed, and web vitals, and high-quality UX. It means that new entrants gain more opportunities to succeed in SEO on the merits of their web pages, not just because they are incumbents with massive backlink profiles.
Even if you don’t have the tools to do your own comprehensive correlation analysis, you can manually reverse engineer the SERPs in your industry. Studying how your competitors to benchmark on these important search factors can reveal valuable tactical insights that help you direct your team’s SEO efforts towards the most impactful work possible and deliver faster-ranking improvements.
Manick Bhan is the founder and CTO of LinkGraph, an award-winning digital marketing and SEO agency that provides SEO, paid media, and content marketing services. He is also the founder and CEO of SearchAtlas, a software suite of free SEO tools. He is the former CEO of the ticket reselling app Rukkus.
How Gael Breton Escaped Client SEO & Built a Full-Time Income Through Affiliate Marketing
Who Gael Breton and why should you listen to him? Well, first Gael is a tremendously talented affiliate marketer who specializes in building “authority” websites. Gael got his start in the SEO agency world and transitioned into owning his own properties. In this discussion, you’ll learn: How Gael started and grew his first SEO agency …
Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners
- Value stream management is the practice that helps businesses to determine the value of the software development process.
- By managing value streams, you can improve the flow of value to your SEO agency and monitor the software delivery lifecycle.
- Mapping value streams will help you improve visibility throughout the whole software development cycle.
- You can enable value stream management by defining real-time metrics, creating a value stream map, enabling cross-team collaboration, connecting different processes, and automating the workflows.
With the scope of the competition on the market, the delivery of SEO options is becoming harder than ever. To stay competitive, all processes within the software development cycle must be optimized to their best.
If you’re looking to improve the workflows in your SEO agency, consider implementing value stream management. To help you get started, we’ve created this ultimate guide to value stream management. After reading, you’ll get a better idea of what is a value stream and how you can start managing your value streams by creating maps.
What is value stream management (VSM)?
To define the concept of value stream management, it’s important to understand the fundamentals. Let’s cover the basics and define key terms before moving further to discuss value stream management for SEO businesses.
A value stream refers to every step of the software delivery lifecycle (SDLC), from the product idea to the production and tools required to deliver your software to the customers. To help you visualize the concept, here’s an example of a value stream for product (not software) development.
In other words, a value stream is a series of activities that build up the value of your SEO software. Value is defined by something a customer gets, like high-quality software, in a fair period of time for a fair price.
Source: Maaw info
Value stream management (VSM) refers to the process of optimizing processes from the very point when you conceptualize an idea to the time when this idea is in production and generating revenue. To put it simply, VSM allows you to manage your SEO software development process from idea to cash.
The benefits of value stream management for your SEO agency
Value stream management enables SEO software companies to deliver higher quality products faster and more efficiently than their competitors while significantly reducing risks. Besides, proper implementation of VSM enables the following benefits.
- VSM helps you find and address the limitations of your workflows. By mapping out all stages of the software development process, you can identify potential limitations and blunders.
- VSM enables you to deliver higher quality SEO solutions. By optimizing development processes, you can deliver better quality products.
- VSM allows the continuous development of your agency. By investing in optimization and VSM, you can guarantee the success of your business in the long run.
- VSM helps you to make the overall flow of information across the entire process visible to people who normally manage separate functions, processes, and departments.
How does value stream mapping work?
By now you should understand that value stream management allows optimization of all development processes, from the first time an idea of a product is conceptualized to the moment when the product is produced and launched in the marketplace.
Within value stream management, many capabilities feed that process. Value stream mapping one of these capabilities.
A value stream map refers to the visualization of all critical steps in the SEO software development process. Value stream maps include a description of each stage and information, like the time, the volume of work, and spendings dedicated to each of the stages.
By creating value stream maps, you can analyze the current state of your processes and improve your product based on the series of events that take your SEO solution from the initial concept to the finished product your customers receive. To put it simply, value stream mapping allows you to identify where you’re adding value and where you’re wasting it.
Besides, creating value streams allows you to categorize activities into high priority vs. low priority items. This way, you can prioritize and triage some processes in favor of others.
How can you enable VSM?
In order to optimize your SEO software development practices and tools, you need total visibility throughout the whole development cycle. Likely, you can achieve this by mapping value streams.
Not particularly sure where to start? Follow these five steps to enable value stream management for your SEO agency.
1. Defining real-time metrics and objectives
Defining real-time metrics is the first step toward enabling value stream management. Unfortunately, many businesses fail to define metrics which leads to misleading results and inability to assess the effectiveness of their VSM efforts.
Choosing the right objectives allows you to understand what’s happening in the development and identify where value is “leaking” in the process.
Here’s a list of metrics to help you get started:
- The development cycle time
- The overall volume of change (before and after VSM)
- Lead time (LT)
- Process time (PT)
- Percent complete & accurate (percept of time when the software is received by users in the correct and ready-to-use form)
Collecting these metrics is paramount for the successful evaluation of your VSM efforts.
2. Creating a value stream map
After you’ve defined the key metrics and objectives, you can start studying your workflows. Create a map (either physical or digital) that explains each step of the software development process, from conceptualizing an idea to delivering the final product to customers. This way, you can see the distribution of resources within your software development cycle.
Here’s a great example of a value stream map.
3. Enabling cross-team collaboration
Value stream management requires you to enable cross-team collaboration. Rather than testing business analysts separately from developers and other teams, you want to optimize the workflow across all of these teams.
4. Connecting multiple processes, teams, and tools
Now, as you’ve created opportunities for all teams to work together, you should find a way to answer the following question. How do you make sure that all of the work that your employees are doing, the value streams of their development, map to your priorities?
To answer this question, you have to evaluate the workflows and roles of each team regarding your objectives and priorities.
5. Coordinating and automating workflows
VSM tools allow you to embed governance into existing system development cycles. In other words, some platforms allow you to automate the value stream management processes.
Tom Hayes, a VSM advisor at the Guerrilla Agency shares his expertise,
“By coordinating and automating workflows, you can continually improve your SEO solution and ultimately achieve better results.”
The bottom line
Value stream management is different from other approaches because it’s focused on the idea that everything that happens to your customers, from the idea to the delivery, is important and needs to be managed in a holistic manner.
By implementing VSM in your SEO agency, you can better understand your system development cycles and workflows.
Implementing value stream management is easier than it may seem. You can start by mapping value streams and defining your main objectives. Moreover, there are many platforms that will make the VSM process easy and personalized for your SEO agency.
How to Get 4,000 Watch Hours on YouTube (FAST!)
In this guide, I’m going to show you how to get 4,000 watch hours on YouTube.
Since I began my journey on YouTube in 2017, I’ve accumulated 59,000 watch hours:
And if I was able to do it with my cringe-worthy videos, then you can too.
So the first question is:
What Happens When You Get 4,000 Watch Hours on YouTube?
There is one simple reason why every YouTuber wants to reach 4,000 watch hours: to make money online.
Once you reach that threshold, you can apply for the YPP. Then you can start showing ads on your videos if you’re approved.
Now you’ll need lots of subscribers and views to make a full-time income from YouTube ad revenue. However, it’s an excellent supplementary source of revenue.
For example, I’ve made $5,596 from ads since getting monetized.
That equates to about $303 per month or $10 per day. The best part is that it’s a 100% passive form of revenue. You get paid every time someone watches one of your videos.
It’s not a massive amount of money.
It’s dead last as far as revenue sources in my company.
But it’s “passive,” which it’s pretty awesome.
Now the truth is: There is no such thing as passive income. You still need to produce quality videos consistently.
Otherwise, your audience will lose interest, your engagement will drop, your views will drop, and ultimately, your ad revenue will fall.
There’s nothing passive about the work you have to do to maintain and continue to grow on YouTube.
Now I want to let you in on a little secret:
The real reason why you should aim for 4,000 watch hours isn’t just for ad revenue. You should do it because you’re building an engaged audience.
As Grant Cardone often says, “money follows attention.”
So remember when I said YouTube ad revenue is a small part of my company’s revenue? That’s true.
However, YouTube traffic is now my third biggest source of revenue for my training course, Gotch SEO Academy.
So with that out of the way, here is a 7 step process to reach 4,000 watch hours on YouTube:
1. Find PROVEN topics
You don’t need to reinvent the wheel. Instead: you can find proven content ideas and then put your twist on it. Here’s how:
Go to YouTube and enter a keyword related to your industry. In this example, I’ll use “fashion.”
Take note of the topics that have produced lots of views. Now open a few of the channels.
If the channel has a lot of subscribers (> 30,000), then click on the “Videos” tab.
Then sort the videos by “Most Popular” to find topics that are proven to work:
Repeat this process for every channel in your industry until you’ve built a nice database of topics.
2. Qualify (and Prioritize) Your Topics
You need to be strategic with what types of videos you create if you have a new channel. If your channel is established, then you can target more competitive topics. There a few ways to qualify topics, but VidIQ will do most of the work:
Step #1: Download VidIQ
Step #2: Go to YouTube and search the topic you’re interested in.
VidIQ will show you a “Score” for the topic.
Ideally, you should only target topics with a high score. A high score is when the topic has substantial search volume but low competition.
I recommend adding the score next to each keyword in your database. Then you prioritize your topics by score.
3. Develop Your Strategy
At this point, you should have selected a keyword target. Now you need to develop a video strategy.
Here are a few questions to ask when developing your strategy:
How long should your video be?
Examine the top 10 videos for your topic and create an average. You should then aim to exceed the average length.
What are some commonalities and differences among the top videos?
I recommend watching the top 5-10 videos and taking notes.
- What do you like?
- What do you dislike?
- What are some unique things they’re doing in their videos that you can incorporate into your videos?
This is the most critical part. Dedicate time to studying their videos because that’s the first step to beating them.
What’s your title?
Did you know that 80% of Internet users don’t read past the headline? That principle applies to YouTube as well.
If your headline (title) doesn’t drive any curiosity, it won’t do well on YouTube.
You need users to click through on your video. And your title is a big piece to that puzzle (along with your thumbnail).
I recommend writing out at least ten different headlines. Then, run each headline through the AMInstitute headline tool.
There are many frameworks for producing curiosity-driven headlines. However, the ones that tend to do the best include numbers.
What will you need to produce the video?
Not all videos are created equal. Some require big budgets, while others will only need your phone.
The truth is, it doesn’t matter what you use to produce your videos. What matters is the quality of the content you’re providing in your video.
Ensure the audio and video are at least at the level of your competitors, and you’ll do just fine.
What’s your deadline?
Deadlines make projects real. Set a deadline and stick to it.
4. Create the Video
I have a simple process for creating videos that you can steal:
Script out the entire video
I know. Some people hate this idea because they’re afraid of being robotic.
However, most people go off the rails if they don’t follow a script.
Scripts keep your videos efficient and easy to consume. The goal isn’t to waste the viewer’s time.
You want to give them the information they need in the fastest time possible. A script is that solution.
I recommend including some of these key elements into your script:
- Mention your target keyword in the first line and last line of the video.
- Use open loops at the beginning of the video. An example of an “open-loop” is when I say, “Make sure you read this entire guide because tip #6 is fundamental to your success on YouTube.”
- Insert pattern interrupts (like I did above).
Did you know that video editing experts recommend changing shots every 3-10 seconds?
Watch any TV commercial. Notice how frequently the shots change. You should do the same.
It’s super hard to keep people’s attention, so you need to use every tool at your disposal.
Watch this video under tip #6 to see pattern interrupts in action.
Record your video
If you’re doing a talking-head video, you’ll need a teleprompter. Now just turn the camera on and record.
If it’s your first time, it’s going to feel like hell. That’s okay. It gets easier.
Just remember that no one is watching you.
That camera is no different than speaking to a wall. It has no emotions and no judgment.
So that means you have permission to be yourself without any consequences. The cool part is that YouTube users like people who are themselves.
So, hit record, be yourself, and add value.
Edit your video
You can do it for free with iMovie or a paid editing software like Premiere Pro. You can also hire a video editor on UpWork.
5. Optimize Your Video
Before you upload your video, you need to optimize it. I recommend including your target keyword in the filename. Now upload your video, and it’s time to optimize it for YouTube’s organic search.
Here are a few quick tips:
- Include the keyword in the title and first sentence of your description.
- Write an in-depth description. Aim for > 100 words for your description. Make sure to include variations of your primary keyword as well.
- Include your keyword in your tags. VidIQ will give you tag recommendations based on the topic.
I also recommend looking through the top videos for your keywords. Copy the tags they’re using.
Add an end screen. You should always try to get users to watch more of your videos.
This will quickly grow your watch time.
6. Promote Your Video
What I just showed you is about 50% of the process. The other 50% of the process is to promote your video.
Here are a few quick tips:
Leverage your email list.
Your email list is the most valuable asset for growing ANY channel—especially YouTube. If you don’t have an email list, I HIGHLY recommend you start building one. It is the most crucial marketing channel online (in my opinion).
Leave thoughtful comments on other channels in your industry.
Take note of when popular channels publish in your industry. Then, be there to drop an intelligent comment on every new video.
This will help you build a relationship with the creator. And it will also help drive users to your channel.
I showed you a simple process for creating an awesome YouTube video.
But here’s the deal: creating one video isn’t enough.
There’s a high probability that your first video won’t do well. That’s why you need to stay the course and keep publishing.
You will get to 4,000 watch hours as long as you keep producing.
The key to reaching 4,000 watch hours on YouTube is to GET STARTED. Then, it’s to keep producing valuable content.
There are no secrets.
Well, maybe some.
That’s why I created a brand new training program called YouTube SEO Academy. I’ll be opening enrollment soon.
In the meantime, download our free YouTube video promotion checklist.
- How Gael Breton Escaped Client SEO & Built a Full-Time Income Through Affiliate Marketing
- 6 Simple Videos Anyone Can Make for Social Media
- Defining value stream management for SEO agencies business owners
- 9 Tactical Video SEO Tips to Improve Your Content Performance
- How to Get 4,000 Watch Hours on YouTube (FAST!)
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