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Best of Whiteboard Friday 2021: 21 Smart Google SEO Tips

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Best of Whiteboard Friday 2021: 21 Smart Google SEO Tips


The author’s views are entirely his or her own (excluding the unlikely event of hypnosis) and may not always reflect the views of Moz.

Our top Whiteboard Friday episode of the year was originally published all the way back at the beginning of January! So much has happened in the marketing industry since then, but Cyrus’s 21 SEO tips for the year are still definitely smart, and these go way beyond the SEO basics. He’s also included a bunch of helpful resources for your reference in the transcription below!

How many of these were you able to implement throughout the past 12 months? Let us know on Twitter @Moz, and we’ll see you in 2022 with brand new episodes!

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. Welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. I’m Cyrus Shepard. Today, so glad that you can join us. We are talking about 21 smart Google SEO tips for 2021.

We’re getting ready for a new year, a new year of SEO strategies. These are 21 practical tips that you can implement that should, hopefully, move the needle on your organic traffic. 

These are some of the best tips that I’ve collected over the past year. Many of them that I’m going to use myself in my own SEO strategies. 

Now we have four categories: increasing clicks, content/on-page SEO tips, technical SEO, and a little bit of link building.

There are 21 of these. These are going to go fast. We’re trying to do 10 to 12 minutes, so we don’t get to spend a lot of time on each one. But don’t fret. We’re going to link to appropriate resources in the transcript below so that we can keep along and explore a little bit more. All right. Ready to dive in? 

Increasing clicks

Let’s start with clicks, specifically earning more clicks from Google without actually ranking higher, because that’s one of the great things about SEO. You don’t actually have to rank higher to get more traffic if you can get more clicks from the rankings that you already have. So let’s talk about some specific strategies for getting more clicks without increasing rankings. 

1. Favicon optimization

First, favicon optimization.

Now I’m surprised more people haven’t talked about this in 2020. Google displays favicons in mobile search results, and they can influence your click-through rate if they’re high contrast, if they’re visible or not visible. Having a good favicon can make a few percentage points difference, very minor, but it does make a difference if you can get it right. Aaron Wall, SEO Book, wrote one of the very few posts about that

2. Breadcrumb optimization

While we’re optimizing our favicons, let’s take a look at breadcrumb optimization. Google displays breadcrumbs in both desktop and mobile search results. They can be keyword-rich breadcrumbs, which can influence your click-through rate. Now Google gets their breadcrumbs from a lot of places. That can be your URL, your schema markup, your actual breadcrumbs on the page.

What you want to do is make sure Google is displaying the breadcrumbs that you want them to display, using those keywords that you choose. The best way to do that, make sure that you have breadcrumbs actually on your page with links, that you’re using schema markup. Ideally, it would match your URL structure, but that isn’t always necessary. So a great breadcrumb optimization audit. 

3. Meta descriptions

Let’s optimize those meta descriptions. This is so old-school SEO. But a recent study shows that 30% of websites don’t even use meta descriptions. Now that’s understandable because another study shows that 70% of the time, Google will rewrite the meta description, usually because it’s not using the keywords that the user is searching for. But if we write a well-crafted meta description, it can compel users to click, and that means using keyword-rich descriptions that people are actually searching for, so when Google does use your meta description, it’s encouraging those clicks and acting as marketing copy for your website.

4. Numbers in titles

Along with meta descriptions, titles. Just shared a study recently showing that dates added to titles increased rankings for a particular brand. Numbers are generally one thing that I always test in title tags that usually produce pretty consistent results. Specifically, dates in title tags are often a winner, January 2021.

Don’t be spammy about it. Don’t include it if it doesn’t make sense and don’t fake it. But if you can include a number, it will often increase your click-through rate for any given query. 

5. <Title> boilerplate

How about doing a boilerplate audit for your title tag? Tip number five. What’s boilerplate? Boilerplate are the parts of your title tag that repeat every single time.

For example, here at Moz, we put “Moz,” our brand name at the end of every title tag. We used to put “Whiteboard Friday” at the end of every Whiteboard Friday until we tested it and found out that we actually got more clicks and higher rankings when we removed it. So boilerplate, you want your titles to be unique, provide unique value. So I would encourage you to experiment with your boilerplate and see if removing it actually increases your rankings.

Sometimes it’s not going to. Sometimes you need that boilerplate. But do the test to find out. 

6. FAQ and how-to schema

Tip number six: schema, specifically FAQ and how-to schema. Google gave us a huge gift when they introduced these in search results. FAQ schema gives you a lot of SERP real estate. You can’t always win it, and you can’t always win the how-to schema, but when you do, that can definitely increase or influence people to click on your result, expand those FAQ schemas out.

It’s not appropriate for every page. You want to make sure that you actually have those FAQs on your pages. But it is one way, in appropriate situations, that you can increase clicks without increasing your actual Google ranking. All right. 

Content/on-page SEO

Let’s move on to some content and on-page tips. 

7. Relaunch top content

All right, number seven. This is the year I want you to look into relaunching your top content.

Content can go stale after a few years. So we launch content. You have a blog, you launch it, and you share it on social media. Most people forget about it after that. So go back, look at your top content over the last two to five years or even 10 years, if you want to go back that far, and see what you can relaunch by updating it, keeping it on the same URL. In some cases, you can see gains of 500% to 1,000% just by relaunching some of your old content with some updates.

So do a relaunch audit in 2021. 

8. Increase internal linking

Number eight: increasing internal linking. Now a lot of top SEO agencies, when they need to quickly increase rankings for clients, there are generally two things that they know are the easiest levers to pull. First, title tags and meta descriptions, what’s getting more clicks, but second is increasing the internal linking.

You know that you can increase internal links on your site, and there are probably some opportunities there that you just haven’t explored. So let’s talk about a couple easy ways to do that without having too much work. 

9. Update old content with new links

Number nine is updating your old content with new links. This is a step that we see people skip time and time again. When you publish a new blog post, publish a new piece of content, make sure you’re going back and updating your old content with those new links.

So you’re looking at the top keyword that you want to rank for, and going in Google Search Console or checking tools like Keyword Explorer to see what other pages on your site rank for that keyword, and then adding links to the new content to those pages. I find when I do this, time and time again, it lowers the bounce rate. So you’re not only updating your old page with fresh content and fresh links and adding relevance. You’re adding links to your new content. So make sure, when you publish new content, you’re updating your old content with those new links. 

10. Remove unnecessary links

Number 10, remove unnecessary links from your content. Now this is a form of PageRank sculpting. PageRank sculpting is a dirty word in SEO, but actually it works to a certain extent. It’s not nofollow link page sculpting.

It is removing unnecessary links. Do you really need a link to your team page on every page of your website? Do you need a link to your contact form on every page of your website? In many cases, you don’t. Sometimes you do. But if you remove the unnecessary links, you can pass more link equity through the links that actually count, and those links are a major Google ranking signal.

11. Mobile link parity audit

Number 11, need you to do a mobile link parity audit. What is that? What is a mobile link parity audit? That is ensuring that the links on your mobile site are the same as the links on your desktop site. Why is that important? Well, the last couple of years Google has moved to a mobile first index, meaning what they see on your mobile site, that’s your website.

That’s what counts. So a lot of sites, they have a desktop site, and then they reduce it to their mobile site and they’re missing links. They get rid of header navigation, footer links, and things like that. A recent study showed that the average desktop page has 61 links and the average mobile page has 54 links. That means on the web as a whole there are seven fewer links on mobile pages than desktop pages, meaning a lot of link equity is being lost.

Mobile Link Parity Audit

So do a study on your own website. Make sure you have mobile link parity between your desktop and your mobile site so you’re not losing that equity. 

12. Invest in long-form content

Number 12: need you to invest in long-form content. Now I am not saying that content length is a ranking factor. It is not. Short-form content can rank perfectly well. The reason I want you to invest in long-form content is because consistently, time and time again, when we study this, long-form content earns more links and shares.

It also generally tends to rank higher in Google search results. Nothing against short-form content. Love short-form content. But long-form content generally gives you more bang for your buck in terms of SEO ranking potential. 

13. Use more headers

When you’re doing that long-form content, make sure you do number 13: use more headers. I’m talking about H2 and H3 tags.

Break up your content with good, keyword-rich header tags. Why? Well, we have research from A.J. Ghergich that shows that the more header tags you have, generally you rank for more featured snippets. Sites with 12-13, which seems like a lot of header tags, rank for the most featured snippets of anything that they looked at in their most recent study.

So make sure you’re breaking up your content with header tags. It adds a little contextual relevance. It’s a great way to add some ranking potential to your content. 

14. Leverage topic clusters

Number 14, leverage topic clusters. Don’t just launch one piece of content. Make sure you write about multiple pieces of content around the same subject and link those together. When you do that and you link them intelligently, you can increase engagement because people are reading the different articles.

You can add the right contextual inner links. I have a great case study that I want to show you in the transcript below, where someone did this and produced amazing results. So look into topic clusters for 2021. 

15. Bring content out of tabs

Finally, bring your content out of tabs. If you have content that is in accordions or drop-downs or you have to click to reveal the content, study after study after study shows that content that’s brought out of tabs and brought into the main body, so people don’t have to click to see, generally performs better than content that’s hidden in tabs.

Now to be clear, I don’t believe that Google discriminates content in tabs. They seem to be able to index and rank it just fine. But I think people generally engage with content when it’s out of tabs, and maybe some of those signals help those pages to rank a little better. 

Technical SEO

All right. Just a very few technical SEO tips. We’re going fast.

16. Core Web Vitals

Number 16: this is the year to invest in Core Web Vitals. These are some of the page experience signals that Google is bringing to the forefront in 2021. It’s going to be an actual ranking factor very soon. We’re talking about cumulative shift layout, hard word to say. Generally, we’re talking about site speed and delivering great page experience. Now some of these things are very technical, and Google has some tools, like Lighthouse, to try to help you to figure them out.

One tip I like to share, if you are on WordPress, I highly recommend using Cloudflare, in particular their APO for WordPress. It’s a great way to speed up your WordPress website and help you score better for some of these Core Web Vitals. It’s very low cost, it’s easy to implement, and it’s a great way to speed up your WordPress website.

17. Limit sitemaps to 10,000

Number 17: sitemaps. Sitemaps, you’re allowed to have 50,000 URLs per sitemap. This is always a question in every SEO quiz. How many URLs per sitemap are you allowed? Instead, if you have a large site and you have indexing issues, tip number 17, limit your sitemaps to 10,000 URLs. You don’t have to use all 50,000.

We have some evidence that using smaller sitemaps, compressing those into a limited URL set can actually improve your crawlability of those. It’s kind of like Google might prioritize those in some way. The data seems to support it. You also get a little bit better data out of Google Search Console. You can see what’s being indexed and what’s not.

18. Leverage dynamic sitemaps

Also, leverage dynamic sitemaps. Our friend Oliver Mason shows — that I’ll link to in the transcript below — that a dynamic sitemap is a sitemap that changes based upon what you want Google to crawl. So if you have a large corpus of URLs that you want Google to crawl, put the high priority ones in their own special sitemap.

Maybe you limit it to one thousand URLs. As Google crawls and discovers those, remove them and put in additional high priority URLs that you want Google to discover. Keep the sitemap small and tight, and let Google know that those are the ones that you want them to pay attention to. 

Link building

Let’s quickly talk about link building tips for 2021, because everybody loves link building.

No, kidding. Everybody hates link building. Link building is so hard. There are some professionals and there are some great people in the industry who do love it, who are great at it. Personally, I’m not that great at link building, but I still am able to build a lot of links. 

19. Passive link acquisition

One way that I’m able to do that is number 19: passive link acquisition. What passive link acquisition means is creating content that passively earns links as people discover it in the SERPs.

It means I don’t have to outreach to people. It means that when they find it, when journalists find it, when bloggers find it, they naturally want to link to it. You do that by creating the types of content that journalists and bloggers and web creators are looking for. These are generally data, guides, definitions, how to, such as this video. When you create that kind of content, it generally earns a lot of links as people find it. Passive link building is one of the most sustainable ways to earn links over time. 

20. Page-level link intersect

Number 20, page-level link intersect. When you do have to do outreach, you want to do outreach to the pages most likely to link to you. Now we’ve known for a long time one of the top SEO tips for link building is find websites that link to your competitors but not to you.

I like to make that a little more specific and find web pages that link to at least two of my competitors but not to me. That means that they are generally a resource page, if they’re linking to multiple competitors but not to me, and more likely to link to me if I ask them. We have a great tool here at Moz, Link Explorer, that does page-level link intersect. I think it’s the best tool for this specific task in the SEO industry, not because I’m biased, because I actually use it.

21. Be the last click

Tip number 21 for 2021, be the last click. What do I mean by that? I mean satisfy your users. Once you earn the first click, you want to get that first click that people click, but you also want to be the last click. That means they found what they are looking for. User satisfaction is ranking signal number one. Your goal with all of this is to satisfy the user, to give them what they search for.

That’s the magic of SEO. They’re searching for something, and you’re delivering it to them at the exact moment they search for it. When you can be the last click, you’re almost guaranteed to rise in rankings and get the traffic that you deserve. 

All right, those are 21 tips. That’s your roadmap for 2021. Hope you enjoyed it. Please share this video and share your tips for 2021 in the comments below.

Thanks, everybody.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com





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Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover

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Marketing operations talent is suffering burnout and turnover


“It’s hard to hire; it’s hard to train; it’s hard to keep people from burning out. To make matters worse, these challenges have intensified so swiftly that leaders have hardly had time to digest them, let alone mount a defense.”

That’s the main takeaway from “The State of Marketing Operations: 2022,” a new report from junior marketing ops training platform Highway Education and ABM leader Demandbase. The findings were based primarily on a survey of 800 marketing operations professionals from organizations of all sizes, more than half from mid-sized companies.

The demand for talent. The vastly accelerated shift to digital marketing — not to mention sales and service — has led inflated demand for MOps talent, a demand the market can’t keep up with. Two results: burnout as too much is demanded of MOps professionals; and turnover, as it’s easy to find alternative opportunities. The outcome for companies is the growing burden of hiring and training replacements.

Use of marketing software has grown two and a half times in less than ten years, according to the report, and the number of marketing operations professionals, across organizations of all sizes, has increased by two-thirds. Use of marketing automation alone has grown 228% since 2016, and there has been a 66% growth in the size of MOps teams just since 2020.

Perhaps most remarkable, 93% of MOps professionals learned on the job.


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Why we care. Providing beginner MOps training services, Highway Education clearly has an interest in this data. At the same time, there can be little doubt that the demand for MOps talent is real and growing. If there’s a surprising figure here, it’s that use of marketing software has grown only two and a half times in the last decade.

AWS MOps leader Darrell Alfonso, quoted in the report, says: “There’s a disconnect between marketing strategy and the actual execution — what it takes to actually operationalize and bring a strategy to life. Leadership, especially the ‘old guard,’ will be more familiar with traditional methods like field marketing and commercials. But now, during the pandemic and post, there’s an entire digital world that needs to be
managed by people who know what they’re doing.”

Read next: More on marketing ops from Darrell Alfonso


About The Author

Kim Davis is the Editorial Director of MarTech. Born in London, but a New Yorker for over two decades, Kim started covering enterprise software ten years ago. His experience encompasses SaaS for the enterprise, digital- ad data-driven urban planning, and applications of SaaS, digital technology, and data in the marketing space. He first wrote about marketing technology as editor of Haymarket’s The Hub, a dedicated marketing tech website, which subsequently became a channel on the established direct marketing brand DMN. Kim joined DMN proper in 2016, as a senior editor, becoming Executive Editor, then Editor-in-Chief a position he held until January 2020. Prior to working in tech journalism, Kim was Associate Editor at a New York Times hyper-local news site, The Local: East Village, and has previously worked as an editor of an academic publication, and as a music journalist. He has written hundreds of New York restaurant reviews for a personal blog, and has been an occasional guest contributor to Eater.



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Product Market Fit with Scott Cunningham [VIDEO]

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Product Market Fit with Scott Cunningham [VIDEO]


Scott Cunningham, CEO of Social Lite and Co-Founder of Merchant Mastery, has worked with thousands of ecommerce stores. The one thing he hears ALL. The. Time? 

“Facebook doesn’t work for my business.”

If you’ve said that about your ecommerce store, listen in as Scott shares what’s missing and how you can overcome that hurdle and start selling.

In this video:

  • Start Here to Sell More: 00:22-00:30 
  • What If I’m Selling a Brand New Product? 00:51-1:02
  • The Formula for Winning in Ecommerce: 1:21-1:34

Learn more about ecommerce:

The Future of Ecommer Marketing Is Now ➡️ https://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog/future-of-ecommerce-marketing/

Use This Framework to Build Ads That Move Product ➡️ https://www.digitalmarketer.com/blog/offer-harmonics-scott-cunningham/

NEW for 2022! Become an Ecommerce Marketing Master ➡️ https://www.digitalmarketer.com/certifications/ecommerce-marketing-mastery/




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Antitrust bill could force Google, Facebook and Amazon to shutter parts of their ad businesses

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Antitrust bill could force Google, Facebook and Amazon to shutter parts of their ad businesses


A new Senate antitrust bill could make Google, Facebook and Amazon divest portions of their ad businesses. 

The Competition and Transparency in Digital Advertising Act (S4285) would prevent large ad companies from participating on different sides of the ad transaction chain. It would ban them from operating more than one of these functions: supply-side brokers selling publisher ad space, demand-side brokers selling ads, or ad exchanges connecting buyers and sellers.

Image from CDTA factsheet

The bill, introduced yesterday by Sen. Mike Lee (R-UT) and co-sponsored by Sens. Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Ted Cruz (R-TX) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), bans companies earning more than $20 billion in annual digital advertising revenue from participating in the online ad ecosystem in a way that creates conflicting interests. 

It also imposes consumer protection rules similar to ones governing financial trading. Under the law, businesses with more than $5 billion in digital ad transactions annually would have to: 

  • Act in the best interest of customers by getting the best bids for ads.
  • Provide transparency customers can verify that.
  • Create firewalls between their buying and selling operations if they are allowed to operate both.
  • Treat all customers the same concerning performance and information related to transactions, exchange processes, and functionality.

“Digital advertising is dominated by Google and Facebook,” Sen. Lee said in a statement. “Google, in particular, is the leading or dominant player in every part of the ad tech stack: buy-side, sell-side, and the exchange that connects them. For example, Google Ad Manager is used by 90% of large publishers, and in the third quarter of 2018 it served 75% of all online display ad impressions. Google uses its pervasive market power across the digital advertising ecosystem, and exploits numerous conflicts of interest, to extract monopoly rents and stack the deck in its favor. These monopoly rents function as a tax — upwards of 40% — on every ad supported website and every business that advertises online, collectively a huge segment of the modern economy.”


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The new law is a response to the anti-competitive practices Google has been accused of. These include Project Bernanke, the focus of an antitrust lawsuit filed by the attorneys general of more than a dozen states. The suit claims Google ensured ads booked via its AdX system would win ad space auctions. 

“The conflicts of interest are so glaring that one Google employee described Google’s ad business as being like ‘if Goldman or Citibank owned the NYSE,’” Sen. Lee said.

Read next: Is there any incentive to crack down on programmatic ad fraud?


2022 MarTech replacement survey


About The Author

Constantine von Hoffman is managing editor of MarTech. A veteran journalist, Con has covered business, finance, marketing and tech for CBSNews.com, Brandweek, CMO, and Inc. He has been city editor of the Boston Herald, news producer at NPR, and has written for Harvard Business Review, Boston Magazine, Sierra, and many other publications. He has also been a professional stand-up comedian, given talks at anime and gaming conventions on everything from My Neighbor Totoro to the history of dice and boardgames, and is author of the magical realist novel John Henry the Revelator. He lives in Boston with his wife, Jennifer, and either too many or too few dogs.



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