Google Panda Refresh and More Search Marketing News

July 23, 2015 by

Search News Round-Up

The search marketing industry is always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest news and best practices. Here’s a round-up of some of the most recent updates and trends. Hope you enjoy!

1. Google Panda Refresh is Here

After months of waiting, Google announced a Panda refresh has taken place. You probably won’t notice any immediate changes as Google is rolling out the update at an incredibly slow pace. Google said the update has only affected two to three percent of websites so far, so it could take months before you see an algorithmic impact on your site.

The new update means that sites who suffered or were penalized from the last Panda update have the potential to rise up in Google’s search results again. If you were hurt from the last Panda refresh, expect to see a gradual change in organic rankings over the next few months.

2. How Does Google Handle the New Top Level Domains?

After a lot of questions and misconceptions about how Google handles the new top level domains, Google’s John Mueller published a blog post to clear the air.

For those who don’t know, a Top Level Domain (TLD) is the most general part of a domain name in an internet address and always comes after the last dot in a URL (.com, .org, etc.). Search marketing practitioners often believe that Google prefers some TLDs over others. John Mueller squashed those beliefs when he stated there are no TLDs that Google finds more important than others–they are all treated equally when it comes to rankings.

Google said new TLDs like .BRAND and .how will be treated the same way as old TLDs like .com and .org. Mueller said the new TLDs won’t influence the way they crawl, index or rank URLs.

Don’t go running to a new TLD just yet. Moving you website to a new domain can have big impacts on your SEO efforts. Domain changes take time to adjust to, so it’s best to stick with a domain that will benefit you for the long-run.

For more info, check out Mueller’s blog post.

3. Bing Search Traffic Decline

Notice a big decrease in Bing organic search traffic? You’re not alone. Webmasters everywhere are wondering if this could be due to an algorithmic update. Turns out it might have to do with Google Analytics. Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land analyzed dozens of websites in Google Analytics and noticed the same pattern—about 20 percent declines in Bing organic search traffic across the board. On the flip side, he also saw about a 200 percent increase in referral traffic.

Sounds fishy. Both Google and Microsoft are investigating the issue.

4. Google Maps Rolls Out Location History Timeline

Ever wish you had a way of remembering the restaurant you went to at the beach last summer? Well, if you used Google Maps to get there, you’re in luck! Google announced they are producing a new feature in Google Maps that lets desktop and mobile users see a timeline of where they’ve traveled in a given period. Google hopes its users find this feature beneficial for remembering and viewing the places they’ve been in a given day, month or year.

For more information, read Google’s blog post.

5. Most Googled Products On The Planet

Kidneys, Nose Jobs and Cows… Oh my! Ever wonder what people are searching for the most around the world? Check out this cool map showing what different countries are filling in the phrase “cost of ____” with.

Why Outlines Make Me a Better Writer

July 16, 2015 by

Believe it or not: Outlines improve writing

For the past few weeks, Arketi has been all about the importance of outline development. It may seem elementary, but I know that I often jump straight into writing without taking enough time to look at the bigger picture of the work, whether it’s a blog post, press release or other marketing piece.

I’m not sure whether I have an aversion to outlining because I was forced to do it in middle school, or because it feels like it takes extra time, but I’ve found that it actually saves time in the long run. I can get my outline approved to make sure I’m on the right track before I start writing. After some research on outlining and some reminiscing on my time in the sixth grade, I’ve put together some tips for crafting a useful outline. 

Do the write thing - Outlines improve writing

What’s the Point?

Decide on the main topics that you want to cover. Then, figure out which points are most important, and position those closer to the top. Make sure your topics are in a logical order.

Next, expand upon your main topics by creating sub-points. The middle school rules for outlining demand several sub-topics with numerous bullets below. They also require letters, numbers and Roman numerals, which I find confusing and pointless. Use indentation and bullets under your main points to organize your thoughts and guide your writing.

Do the Write Thing.

Once your outline is complete and on target, it’s time to actually write. Start a new document, but keep the outline in front of you while you work.

If you find yourself straying from the outline a little bit or adding and deleting ideas, this is normal. If you decide to reorganize the whole piece, edit your outline first.

Outline Again.

Once you’re done writing, outline the work again. Compare this outline to the one that you originally created. If they’re different, that’s fine, but try to figure out why they differ and whether the new structure does a better job of accomplishing your point.

If you find it difficult to outline what you’ve written, this may be a bad sign. See if you can reorganize the work to better match the original architecture of your outline, or if need be make a new outline and rearrange the writing. My outline for this blog post follows.



  • Importance of outlining
    • Save time
    • Decide on the bigger picture

Order your Main Points

  • Most important at top
    • Logical order
  • Create Sub-Points
    • Expand upon your main ideas
    • Roman numerals, etc. are unnecessary


  • Follow the structure of your outline
    • Start with a fresh document
  • Don’t be afraid to add ideas
    • Make a new outline if you wander too much


  • Finish writing, then re-outline
    • Compare to the first outline
  • Edit if it does not make sense
    • If structure is hard to see, writing may be hard to understand


I hope you found these tips and my outline example helpful. If you have other thoughts on how outlines can help improve writing projects, leave us a comment below.

SES Atlanta Re-cap

July 14, 2015 by

Last week, a few of us at Arketi had the opportunity to attend SES Atlanta, an industry-leading search marketing conference held in various cities across the world. The focus of the conference was education about search marketing best practices and trends, but also served as an outlet for attendees to network and share knowledge and experience.

The search world is always changing, so it’s important to pick the brains of industry leaders as they share ideas and tactics that have helped them stay ahead of the curve. With that in mind, here’s a re-cap of the key messages we took away from the conference.

ses atlanta

Understand Searcher Interest and Intent

Keynote speaker Bill Hunt, best-selling author and president of Back Azimuth Consulting, emphasized the importance of examining the intent of search queries as it provides insight into consumers’ interest and needs. Specifically, one of the best things search marketers can do is to integrate search strategies in all areas of organizations—from IT to finance. He also explained how to best use data to advance your agenda and how to understand the economic value of search marketing.

How to Show ROI in SEO

Ivey Evans, Digital Strategy and Analytics Manager at Aflac, led a session on SEO ROI analytics. She emphasized the importance of establishing KPIs and setting a benchmark to compare performance over time. The KPIs she recommends tracking are traffic, engagement and conversion, while keeping in mind that the definition of engagement and conversion will vary across organizations.

For example, Aflac defines engagement as “the percentage of people who stay or the site three or more minutes, view three or more pages or complete a site interaction.” Defining conversions can be difficult, especially in B2B organizations where it’s hard to find value of your leads, so sync with your team and define what a conversion means to you.

Its important to keep in mind that there is no real x+y=z formula for SEO. Investing in SEO is like investing in the stock market and a long time strategy and a lot of patience is needed.

Mobile SEO Best Practices

There’s no question that searchers have gone mobile. In May, Google announced that smartphone searches officially overtook desktop searches. In light of this and the recent Mobilegeddon Brian Ussery, a leading SEO Consultant, shared insights on how to adapt to a mobile-friendly world. Here are a few best practices he shared:

  • Create a mobile friendly website design (responsive, dynamic, material, m. mobile site, etc.)
  • Keep mobile website menus short and sweet
  • Make it easy for your users to get to the homepage
  • Place your calls to action front and center
  • Limit promotions
  • Autopopulate forms, credit card information, etc.
  • Create a site search function

Content Creation for Linkbuilding

The last session of the day was a panel of social media and content creation managers who shared insights on how to leverage compelling content to drive more links. The panelists stressed the importance of focusing on creating content that makes sense for the sites you’re reaching out to. With this in mind, organizations should create content that is not only specific to their audience but also specific to the channel in which the audience is interacting with them.

The panelists also recommend using tools like Google Trends to determine what consumers might be interested in seeing or hearing about.

We hope you find this recap helpful, even if you weren’t able to attend. However, if you were also at SES Atlanta, let us know what your key takeaways were in the comments section below!

Google’s Cross-Device Benchmark and More Search Marketing News

July 9, 2015 by

Search News Roundup

The search world is always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest news and best practices. Here’s a round-up of some of the most recent SEO and PPC updates and trends. Hope you enjoy!


1. Google’s Cross-Device Benchmarks

New research from Google proves that users often switch devices before converting. Therefore, if you aren’t tracking cross-device conversions in Adwords, you’re letting valuable insight into how your advertising dollars are performing pass you by.

But what are cross-device conversions? According to Google they are estimates based on aggregated, anonymized data from a sample set of users that have previously signed-in to Google services. If you want to dig deeper, Googler Matt Lawson can help: What Google’s New Cross-Device Benchmarks Actually Mean For Advertisers.Search News Roundup - Google’s Cross-Device Benchmarks

2. Bing Got You Down?

If you’ve noticed a drop in your Bing rankings recently it’s most likely because your site has moved from HTTP to HTTPS using an extension of TLS called SNI. As more sites migrate to HTTPS to receive Google’s promised rankings boost, Bing has failed to keep up. Why? Bing can’t crawl sites with this specific implementation of site security, but can only manually whitelist them.

For more information, check out this article on Search Engine Land: Drop In Bing? Moving To HTTPS (SNI) Would Have Caused It.

3. Google Panda Refresh Still Coming Soon

At the beginning of June, Google’s Gary Illyes announced that the new Panda refresh would be released in two to four weeks. By doing some simple math, it’s easy to figure out that a month has come and gone and there’s still no refresh in sight. However, late last week in a German Google Hangout, Google’s John (Johannes) Mueller said that we can expect to see the Panda refresh “in a few weeks.”

4. Bing Mapping Upgrade

Earlier this week, Microsoft announced that its Bing Maps update will include new search layers and enhanced content. More specifically, the company’s placed an emphasis on context, exploration and planning, bringing the service closer to Google Maps functionality than ever before. In fact, users will now be able to create layers of search results around a specific point or area thereby planning out an entire trip in one map.

However, while this will prove useful for those planning their next big vacation or night out on the town, experts expect it will be less so for those simply seeking business listing or directions from A to B.

What Content Do Business Executives Look For?

July 1, 2015 by

Developing content for business executives

In the world of content marketing, content reigns king. However, a recent survey from The Economist and marketing research firm Peppercomm reveals that there is a massive disconnect between the content that business executives seek and the content that marketers provide.

No one likes a blatant sales pitch–especially business executives. So why do marketers continue to develop and push out content that focuses on their products or services instead of content that prospects are looking looking?

Developing content for business executives

A recent Media Post article examined findings from a survey report titled, “Missing the Mark: Global Content Survey of Brand Marketers and their B2B Audiences.” From this piece, the following findings stood out to us the most:

  • 75% of global business leaders surveyed report that they turn to content to research complex business ideas within their industries. Executives find the most value in content that helps them better understand the general views and practices of their peers.
  • Content that presents two sides of complicated industry issues and content that confirms or sheds new light on business strategies are considered to have value.
  • Conversely, 71% of executives have a strong distaste for content that reads like a sales pitch. Unfortunately, most marketers produce content in order to sell. 93% of marketers surveyed reported that they connect their content directly to a product or service.
  • By evaluating the success of content marketing strictly by leads, brands end up creating the exact type of sales-centric content that business leaders dislike. Many of these brands simply have no better alternative, as a third of global marketers report that they simply do not know (or do not have access to) the proper KPIs to accurately measure and assess their content marketing campaigns.
  • Traditional digital content mediums,  still resonate best with global business leaders, says the report. 85% of those surveyed prefer text-based articles, while only 5% polled find video to be useful for helping to make business decisions. 78% of executives surveyed prefer to browse content on their laptop or desktop computers, with only 7% reporting a preference for smartphone consumption.

The global survey included 500 global business executives to find out what they look for from content providers and 500 global brand marketers to determine their expectations of “content.”

Our Take?

The majority of content we develop as BtoB marketers should be thought leadership pieces targeting the top levels of the sales funnel. In fact, content that positions an organization as a thought leader is stronger than most sales collateral.

For examples of thought leadership pieces that shed new light on complicated industry issues and other content for business executives, check out our Arketi Insights!

You can also check our webinars, videos, and white papers for a wide range of topics on best practices in digital PR, BtoB marketing budgets, buyer-centric marketing and mobile marketing for B2B.

Post-Mobilegeddon and More Search Marketing News

June 25, 2015 by

Search News Round-Up

The search marketing industry is always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest news and best practices. Here’s a round-up of some of the most recent updates and trends. Hope you enjoy!

1. Post-Mobilegeddon: What Happened?
Google’s mobile-friendly update, coined by many as “mobilegeddon,” has been quite the topic of conversation amongst digital marketers. Since the announcement of a mobile update, SEOs have worked hard to get their sites up to par as the impending doom of the mobile update loomed over their heads. The mobile-friendly update finally took place and after taking some time to adjust to it, the update was not as dramatic (or surprising) as imagined to be.

Some key findings are:
• Non-mobile friendly URLs are showing up less in the first three pages of Google’s search results
• Sites with user experience scores of 80 and higher are deemed “mobile friendly”
• Brand name searches were not significantly impacted – even brand sites not optimized for mobile

2. Google Trends Update
Based on Google’s more than 100-billion searches completed every month, Google Trends implemented its biggest update since 2012. The new update allows searchers to track the topics most people are searching for and where in the world interest is highest. If you are wondering what was trending yesterday or two years ago, you can now select any time range from the date picker to determine trends. Google also announced it is combining YouTube and Google News data with search data to determine which topics are gaining the most attention.
Google has also redesigned its homepage to be more “story centric,” focusing on currently ranking topics.

3. How Google Uses Clicks in Search Results
Google’s Gary Illyes explained how Google uses clicks for rankings at SMX Advanced last month. He cleared things up by stating that Google uses clicks made in search results for evaluation and experimentation—not for ranking. Google believes clicks are too easily manipulated and thus cannot be considered for ranking purposes. If clicks went into ranking, companies could simply hire people or robots to click on links in search results, making it appear your site is better than your competitors. This was Google’s official statement, but many SEOs believe it is still open for debate and testing.

Google Panda Update Coming Soon and More Search Marketing News

June 18, 2015 by

Search News Round-Up

The search marketing industry is always changing, so it’s important to stay up to date on the latest news and best practices. Here’s a round-up of some of the most recent updates and trends. Hope you enjoy!

Google Panda Update SEO News

1. Google Panda Update Coming Soon Earlier this month, Google’s Gary Illyes announced the new Panda update will be released in the coming weeks. Illyes said the update will be more of a “data refresh” rather than an algorithmic change. What does this mean? It’s hard to tell now, but Illyes speculates some sites suffering from this algorithm may see a recovery in the future.

2. Domain Authority Decline Did you recently notice a decline in your Domain Authority? Don’t worry, so did we. Early last week, Moz released their latest Mozscape Index leaving many perplexed as to why their Domain Authority dropped drastically. This update includes even fewer URLs, root domains, subdomains and total links than the previous Index from May 5. The good news is that Domain Authority is a relative metric and is most valuable when examined against a group of similar sites. We would suggest looking to see if your competitors’ Domain Authorities dropped as well, and if they did, you don’t have much to worry about and should continue monitoring and optimizing your site as usual. It’s always a bummer to see your Domain Authority drop when you’ve been working to gain quality links, but remember it can take 2-3 indexes before Moz recognizes the new links, so don’t give up just yet.

3. Google “Near Me” Searches Double According to Google, search queries containing phrases like “nearby” or “near me” have doubled in the past year with 80 percent of searches coming from mobile devices. In response, Google has launched a new Nearby Business mobile ad product tool that features buttons to get directions or to click to call a business. A click to buy button will also start appearing on select search ads soon.

4. Google TV Attribution Last year, Google released Adometry TV Attribution, which measures the online impact of offline channels such as television and radio. Recently, Google announced that search query information is now being integrated with Rentrak airings data to help marketers better understand the important searches their broadcast investments generate.  Broadcast media doesn’t only drive people directly to websites—it drives them to search.  According to Google, “TV attribution allows companies to analyze minute-to-minute aggregated Google Search query data against spot-related keywords to detect and attribute search ‘micro-conversions’ to specific TV airings.” With this data, brands can better assess their broadcast investments, keyword performance and ad creative.   Check back over the next few weeks for more SEO news and the latest updates from key players in the world of search.

What is Considered a Good Domain Authority?

June 8, 2015 by

Our SEO team is often asked by clients, “What is a good Domain Authority?” and “What should our Domain Authority be?” These questions are tricky to answer as a website’s Domain Authority, often written as DA, is the combination of many factors. With many misconceptions and opinions floating around about what a good Domain Authority is, it’s time to set the record straight.

Before diving into what is considered to be a “good” domain authority, there are a few things you should know:

  • Domain Authority is a score (on a 100-point scale) created by Moz that predicts how high your website is likely to rank in Google’s search results.
  • Domain Authority is measured by dozens of factors, primarily link metrics such as how many domains are linking to your site and how authoritative (trusted) those links are
  • Because there are many factors affecting Domain Authority, improving it is difficult to do and can take time

So, What is a “Good” Domain Authority?

While in a perfect world everyone would have a Domain Authority of 100, only websites like Facebook and Google have a perfect score. Therefore, it’s unlikely your website will score in the upper echelon. Some SEO experts say a good website is one with a score of 35­­-50 and an outstanding website is one with a score of 50 and above, but the truth is, there’s no all-encompassing answer.

There is a common misconception that Domain Authority is a measure of your SEO efforts. However, it’s really more of a competitive metric best used to compare your site against others in your space.

Instead of fixating on a random number, compile a list of your competitors’ Domain Authorities and set the highest number as your benchmark goal. Don’t get bogged down about your score of 39. As long as you have a site that competes with the authorities of your competitors, you’re in good shape and are likely to rank higher in search results.

There are ways to bump up your score, like gaining more authoritative backlinks, getting rid of spam links and creating lots of engaging, linkable content. But, increasing your Domain Authority takes time, so don’t expect to go from a 20 to a 50 in a matter of months. Patience is a virtue!

Putting the “Y” back in Marketing – Marketing Questions to Ask

June 1, 2015 by

The Arketi team has started asking “why?” more. It’s not that we’ve regressed back to our toddler days. Rather, we believe this simple question has the power to make us, and our clients, better marketers.

As any 4-year-old will tell you, the power of “why?” lies in its implicit questioning of the status quo. Just because something’s always been done one way, doesn’t mean it should continue to be. After all, repeating the same action but expecting different results is Einstein’s definition of insanity.

So let’s put the “why?” back in marketing, by reminding ourselves to question four commonly held assumptions.

Why this target?

Our firm recently hosted a roundtable for some 70 B2B marketing and PR executives. Nearly all agreed that small, tightly defined prospect lists – maybe as few as 50 or 100 names – are the new norm. Shotgun campaigns aimed at a broad list of targets simply no longer pay off. These days, we see Marketing working with Sales to define highly targeted groups of prospects by asking, “why is this prospect group a true bull’s-eye for us?”Marketing questions to ask

Why this content?

At the same CMO roundtable, 9 out of 10 marketers said they plan to develop more content in the year ahead. That said, all agreed that content is under greater scrutiny and subject to higher expectations. The “content for content’s sake” approach of recent years has led to content overload, and untenable marketplace noise. Avoid content fatigue by asking, “why is this content something a solid prospect will value?”

Why this channel?

In the rush to jump on the social media bandwagon and leverage marketing automation, many of us are guilty of putting channel above the content in their marketing mix. Now dawns the realization that channels are key but not all channels are right for all content, or all audiences. Pinterest for engineers, anyone? Let’s start every campaign by asking, “why does this communications channel trump audience or offer?”

Why this metric?

Big data is powerful. But it can also mean big headaches. Big dirty data is like a New Year’s Day hangover that won’t go away. Many marketers are waking up to the reality that 20–30 percent of prospects in their databases go bad annually. We all acknowledge data and analytics are no longer nice-to-haves but must-haves. But before we open the data floodgates even wider, let’s ask ourselves, “why is this a metric we need to know?”

“Why why why?” is a new mantra for B2B marketers when it comes to marketing questions to ask. Answering the “Why?” ensures marketing leaders, teams and outside partners put themselves in the best position to drive bottom-line results and deliver business value. As the art and science of marketing continue to merge, let’s all heed Einstein’s other sage advice, “The important thing is not to stop questioning.”

Searching For Leads Online – Search Optimization

May 27, 2015 by

Online search lets scrappy startups be found by new customers as easily as established providers. Which sounds great – unless you’re the established provider.

That was the challenge facing Ian Oxman, vice president of marketing for Aderant. It’s his job to ensure Aderant – the world’s largest independent provider of legal software – remains the market leader and is included on every potential buyer’s shortlist.

When every brand is shouting, “shout louder” isn’t the answer. Instead, this savvy marketing VP decided to shout smarter.

It’s a cliché – and probably unfair – that whenever you talk with a lawyer, “the meter is running.” But the truth is, in the majority of legal firms, tracking how much time is spent on each client’s case is still essential to billing and profitability.

These days, most attorneys have moved from paper timesheets to automated time tracking. Like everyone else, the legal profession increasingly relies on technology for documentation, scheduling, and of course, billing. Legal software is big business, and there are plenty of providers vying for a slice of the attorney’s IT budget.

Banking on ranking

Like all of us, law firms considering new software usually start their search online. So, Oxman was concerned to find that Aderant’s website was not “ranking” – displaying near the top of the page – in Google’s results pages. Legal software is a hot space these days, and competitors were drowning out even well-established providers. Not being seen could mean not being shortlisted – and that could mean lost sales.

Aderant was already working with Arketi Group on a number of marketing initiatives, but the BtoB agency also has a thriving search practice, so Oxman teamed with Arketi digital marketing consultant Amy Jones to tackle his Google visibility challenge. She quickly identified multiple areas for improvement, starting with basic search engine optimization techniques, such as optimized title tags, description tags, and strategic internal linking.

Additionally, many of the sites that ranked better than Aderant in search results pages had been around longer, and as a result, had more incoming links from other sites – the most important factor in Google’s ranking algorithm. Aderant needed some innovative strategies to cultivate more incoming links from other respected websites.

Diagnose, then prescribe

Arketi started by developing a keyword strategy for Aderant. Using a mix of analysis and brainstorming, the team developed a list of all the words and phrases prospective buyers might type into Google when searching for legal software, and analyzed how frequently each term was being searched for.

Then they reviewed Aderant’s website to find pages with content containing or related to those potential search terms. A search term for which there was no obvious page of content indicated a missed opportunity to appear in search results. New page content would need to be written specifically to target users searching for these terms.

Arketi also helped Aderant optimize existing pages that had the potential to rank better for frequently-searched terms (aka search optimization). One tactic was to embed product collateral into the pages. This enriches the site for visitors who might find it convenient to download a fact sheet; more importantly, when “structured data” mark-up is applied, it helps the search engines better understand what each page is about.

Staying on top of things

Google’s algorithm assigns particular weight to pages that have many incoming links from other sites, so developing more links was key to increasing and maintaining Aderant’s rankings. Arketi approached link-building in classic PR fashion – strategically “pitching” great content to relevant, industry sites.

Fortunately, Aderant already had strong collateral with which to start this process, and the team worked to supplement this content by creating additional compelling “linkable assets.” An existing whitepaper was distilled into a catchy infographic, and a second infographic was created to outline the findings of an industry survey.

Content pages were developed with well-crafted copy about each infographic. Arketi then pitched the content to influential legal industry bloggers and sites, many of which embedded the infographics – along with the all-important link back to Aderant as the source.

Moving on up

Organic search optimization is not an overnight process; patience and persistence are called for. But sure enough, within a few months, the Aderant site began to show ranking improvements.

This time last year, Aderant ranked on the first page of Google for four of its target terms; today, it ranks for 21 terms. On Bing, it’s a similar picture: at the start, Aderant was not on the first page for any target term; today, it ranks for 18. This bump in search visibility has paid off in site traffic. Initially, the site received around 5,200 visits a month, from 3,700 visitors (some visit than once). In recent months, those numbers have averaged almost double that.

Much of this improvement has been the result of Arketi’s link-building strategy. Referral traffic – that is, visitors arriving on the site by clicking a link on another site – has increased 34 percent year-on-year. Indeed, just one of these link-building blog posts alone – “The Emergence of Tigers and Bears and Other Law Firm Trends,” which includes an infographic and survey findings – has drawn several hundreds of visitors to the site.

When Oxman looks back to where the site was a year ago compared to its performance today, it’s clear the search effort has paid off. Not that he spends much time looking back. Search marketing is an ongoing battle, so the Aderant and Arketi teams are already working on new strategies for maintaining their hard-won position and advancing the brand’s visibility online.