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Source: Google Official Blog annoucement

Make no mistake, Google’s bold start to 2012, announced this week will have a massive impact on digital marketing in the years ahead if it retains its current form. Although the change has been widely covered, even in the main stream media, you may not have seen it yet since it’s not available, in local engines the UK, Europe or elsewhere. We will let you know when it is.

How big a change is this?

If you’ve seen the chúng tôi site you’ll know it’s a big change for the user experience and the way companies gain visibility – so it will have big marketing implications we think. But in our discussions at Smart Insights, we’ve been arguing about how big the impact will be. It does depend on the type of search (is there a lot of sharing related to the search term); your use of Google+ and Gmail. The biggest impact showing your personal results is when you are logged into Gmail / your Google account as many are.

For digital marketers actively sharing on Google they will find a big difference in brand search for you or your company, but for generic or information services there will be relatively little impact on the search results. Certainly something to watch out for – you can expect visits to your Google+ presence to increase and site to decrease.

Google’s belief is that you should not only be able to find content, but personal connections:

“We’re transforming Google into a search engine that understands not only content, but also people and relationships.

You should also be able to find your own stuff on the web, the people you know and things they’ve shared with you, as well as the people you don’t know but might want to… all from one search box”.

I would describe it this way:

“We want increase adoption of Google+  so we will promote it prominently as much as possible in the search results.

Do you remember when Google stood for simplicity? Not any more. Beating Facebook is more important”

That’s why we have rated Google’s SPYW value to users (and marketers) as a lot lower than its impact. But, both groups will have to get used to it, if it stays the same as it is now. I’ve said “in its present form” above since it seems likely the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) will investigate antitrust and privacy concerns surrounding Google’s latest update to its search results – it doesn’t include previous Facebook and Twitter references from real-time search which would make it more useful.

Features of Google Search plus your World

Google describes three main features. This is how they look:

Personal Results, “enable you to find information just for you, such as Google+ photos and posts—both your own and those shared specifically with you, that only you will be able to see on your results page”.This is the default view shown for a generic search on “fashion”. Those pages like ASOS have been shared by others in my network. Companies with the largest numbers in their Google circles will get most prominence.

Profiles in Search, “enable you to immediately find people you’re close to or might be interested in following”.Profiles of people or brands appears in the autocomplete part of the search box for selection and in the results themselves. Personally, I’ve found these VERY annoying – if your searching for your own company site it can be displaced to the bottom of the SERPs.

Twitter have interesting already responded to the announcement and I definitely agree with what they have to say

We’re concerned that as a result of Google’s changes, finding this information will be much harder for everyone. We think that’s bad for people, publishers, news organizations and Twitter users.

Marketing Implications

This update increases, yet again, the importance of creating shareable content. If  you create content that’s good enough for people to want to share, it has more chance of appearing in both organic and social results.

So as we so often recommend, start with understanding your customers and provide remarkable and relevant content for them.

If you are a regular author of content online, especially across multiple websites you should definitely consider connecting your blogs and Google + account through the Authorship area, see details here.

Search Engine land have a more in-depth review here. What’s your view is the impact as big as they suggest?

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How Google Pagerank Revolutionized Search

There was once a time when there was no SEO metric more important than PageRank.

You could buy it.

You could sell it.

And that was the problem Google created for themselves when they gave us pesky marketers the green bar.

It was called toolbar PageRank.

And it broke Google.

We’ll get into that a bit further below.

But first, let’s go back even further.

The Origins of a Search Engine

In 1996, Sergey Brin and Larry Page, together with some other academics at Stanford who likely regret not getting more heavily involved with what it became, developed and patented the system that would be trademarked as PageRank.

The patent for the system was granted to Stanford, and Brin and Page gave up shares in Google for exclusive rights to it.

Shares that sold just 9 years later for over $300 million.

But what made this patent so valuable?

What was PageRank?

PageRank Revolutionized Search

In simplest terms, PageRank brought links into the ranking equation.

It’s easy to see where the idea came from.

You have a group of academics sitting around doing research.

They’re following citations in papers and noticing that the more times a paper is referenced by other papers, the more relevant and important it seems to be.

Bingo!

You have the foundation for link-based search algorithms.

I can also fully understand the frustration they were solving.

I first attempted to work on the internet in 1994 (about the time the idea would have been occurring to the paper’s authors).

I was doing some research for a poli sci paper I was writing at the university computer lab.

The search engine was Yahoo.

And I was miserable.

I remember having seen a show on chat rooms and attempted to find one where I could get some direction on where to find what I was looking for figuring if they were really popular they should be easy to find.

I couldn’t even manage to find that, and about 30 minutes I was in the university library.

Using search engines at the time, I spent probably about an hour not finding what I wanted.

It was faster to walk to the library and copy out what I wanted by hand.

It was a good few years before I tried going online again.

I continued to use computers, just not the internet. Stuff was just too hard to find there.

So, Brin and Page added links to the formula.

This is not to say that the entire Google algorithm was based on links, but this was the first time links were used by a search engine in a meaningful way.

Google rolled out in 1998 and this revolution produced the following in market share numbers:

If you’re new to search, there are probably a few names in that image that you don’t recognize. You can thank Google for that.

PageRank had such a massive impact on the quality of search results that, within the span of a decade, it took Google from a startup to power 4 out of every 5 queries.

Basically, it took the internet from a zone that this author left in frustration – to one that even the least technically proficient people could easily find mainly relevant information.

And Then Along Came the SEO Folks

We’ll get into how PageRank functions shortly, but first let’s dive into the folks who broke and continue to break it.

Us.

Well, some of us.

Starting in 2000, Google added a visual green bar to their toolbar.

This green bar reported a PageRank score from 0 to 10 for any webpage.

What did this mean at the time?

Links became hugely important.

Because very few people were doing SEO, competition was very low for most terms.

Google just gave us all a metric for measuring the value and potential impact of a page.

Most penalties were manual, so there was a huge lag time between spamming and penalties. But even then, getting a penalty would have required someone manually reporting your site – or an act of flagrant stupidity by the site owner (confession coming below).

It was a perfect storm for spam.

We knew the value of our pages and the value of pages linking to us (and our competitors).

And a whole marketplace opened up buying and selling links based on PageRank.

The Aforementioned Confession

Back in this early era of SEO, I was an affiliate marketer.

I was willing to burn sites to the ground knowing I had a dozen more coming up behind it, and probably a couple of others occupying additional positions for the queries I really wanted.

I had a nice little site promoting natural health products. It was earning a tidy $3,000/month in affiliate revenue, which added nicely to the other sites I was managing and had a PageRank of 6.

A link on a PageRank 6 page was worth hundreds and a ROS (Run-Of-Site) link was worth (as it turns out) about $500/month.

Which led to:

Woohoo!

An extra $2,000/month!

Except that I got stupid and greedy.

The next update my site dropped to a PageRank 2.

The rankings plummeted.

I post this confession of an internet spammer, to highlight the problem with showing everyone what their PageRank was.

It was intended to let searchers know the quality of the site they were on – and let SEO pros know the value of what they were doing from a link perspective.

This is why we can’t have nice things in SEO.

Toolbar PageRank vs. PageRank

We mentioned above that PageRank was scored on a 0 to 10 scale.

This was toolbar PageRank and was an estimate of the real PageRank.

Internally, I’m sure the numbers were far more complex than what we were seeing.

But in April 2024, like the last message sent from the Mars Opportunity rover, their patience ran low, and the toolbars went dark.

This was not the end of PageRank, just its use as a commodity.

As Matt Southern wrote at the time:

“Google has officially shut down toolbar PageRank to the general public. Meaning, internally Google will still be using the data, but it will no longer be visible to the public.”

We don’t talk about it much anymore because we can’t see it.

But it’s still there – and it still holds a powerful grip on rankings.

It is what makes a link powerful and some links more powerful than others.

PageRank – What It Is

The initial patents were pretty basic.

They focused mainly on volumes of links with little emphasis on position or other factors (probably because we hadn’t started manipulating things yet).

Later patents and updates added in aspects (e.g., position and trust factors) based on seed sets (essentially the manual selection of trusted sites which would pass trust downward to sites they linked to).

We could call it TrustRank, but I generally consider it part of PageRank.

For more on that, I’d recommend a great piece by Bill Slawski which you’ll find here.

I personally don’t believe the trust process is fully based on seed sets and likely has none at this stage if it ever did, I do suspect there are processes like it though they would likely be automated.

How PageRank Moves

PageRank moves from one page to another through internal and external links.

Because the scale of 10 is irrelevant now that toolbar PageRank is gone, let’s use a page with a PageRank of 100 as our example.

If that page links to 50 other pages, each page would get 2% of the PageRank.

EXCEPT – On every page, a small percentage of the PageRank simply evaporates. We will ignore this to keep the example simple for now, but it’s an extremely important part of the mathematics.

If you imagine PageRank continuously passing around without this built-in evaporation, every site on the web would approach infinite PageRank.

That poses some obvious problems.

Again though, for our example, we’ll simply assume each page gets 2% of the PageRank.

It then would pass on its own PageRank received from that first link as well as any other PageRank is received from other pages linking to it, whether internal or external.

So … the more links you put on your page, the less PageRank that passes through each. So that top nav with 300 links may be diluting weight from the pages you want it to the most.

This is the simplest piece of the equation as it’s fairly easily defined by division.

Where it gets foggier is in understanding how internal vs. external links are treated.

I tend to view them as separate things with different PageRank moving through each.

I’ve read a number of breakdowns and most SEOs fall more-or-less into this camp as well. External links do not impact your internal PageRank passing.

Nofollows do, however.

With few exceptions, nofollowed internal links should be avoided. If we look back to those 50 links in the example above and think of 3 of them as nofollowed internal links.

The remaining 47 pages will still only get 2% each, the remaining 6% simply evaporates. This means it doesn’t get to the target page which means it then can’t pass it along.

So while it’s true you may not want your privacy policy to rank and it probably won’t… it will pass PageRank through its own links and is better followed to do that task, than have all the links to it simply voided with nofollow.

Also, the position on the page impacts the PageRank flow.

Like content, the more visible a link is, the more weight it has.

It’s important then to ensure that your key pages have visible links.

Quick Summary of Impact

I thought it might be helpful to have a quick five-point impact checklist for each of the internal and external links. So here we go.

PageRank Impact on Internal Links

The more links on a page, the more diluted the PageRank passed to each.

The more links to a page, the more PageRank flow to it.

Nofollow links cause PageRank evaporation, not sculpting.

Links to other sites do not impact your internal PageRank,

PageRank Impact On External Links

Linking to other sites does not positively or negatively impact your PageRank.

External links do not impact your PageRank but may impact other algorithmic factors.

Links from higher PageRank sites will send more PageRank to the target page than links from lower PageRank pages.

The PageRank to one page on a website will pass to others through internal links.

Like internal links, external PageRank divides by the number of links so a link from a page with fewer outbound links is worth more than one with many.

PageRank: It’s Complicated

I hope that this outline of PageRank answers a few questions.

It’s a highly complicated and complex area and I suspect there isn’t even a single person at Google who could fully outline how it works at this stage.

Hopefully, the core rules outlined above (and a bit of the history) clears up some misconceptions and has given you an understanding of PageRank that you can carry with you as you consider your internal link structure, how and where you get links, etc.

If you’re in a slightly technical mood and would like to see how your pages pass PageRank internally (based on the initial patents at least), I highly recommend trying out the process outlined by Patrick Stox here.

You’ll need Screaming Frog and Gephi, but it’s quite interesting. Once you’re familiar with the tool, you’ll undoubtedly start importing other analytics and link/page metrics into it as well.

Additional Reading

More Resources:

Image Credits

Screenshot of links sold for PageRank: Embarrassed author

Remove Google Search From The Google Gboard Keyboard (Android)

Google Keyboard has changed its name as well as many other things in its latest update released this month. Gboard, as it’s now called, has been available on iOS for more than 6 months, however, has only just hit Android devices this week. If you have updated to the new style or are considering doing so, this guide will show you how to remove the one feature that is driving people crazy, the “G” search icon.

How to Group Video Chat Using Facebook Messenger.

The biggest and most bragged about feature of Gboard is the built-in Google Search function, which makes searching Google available from anywhere your keyboard will display. You no longer have to open your browser to search. If you have updated from an older version or have downloaded Gboard just recently, this function is quite sporadic in its activation. On some devices, it is active from the get-go and other devices it must be turned on manually.

Some of the Interesting Functions of Google’s Gboard.

There is also a similar function available to use for GIF’s, however, the GIF function is limited to certain boards and chats such as Google Hangouts. As the trend catches it will become more widely available.

If you are a more practical person, Gboard also allows you to toggle the number of rows displayed permanently on your keyboard, maximising the display area of your screen by reducing the keyboard’s footprint. Multiple languages are also available for those users that are multilingual.

Note: The language option doesn’t work as well on Gboard as other keyboards in my opinion. Another keyboard worth trying if you switch between languages a lot is Fleksy. If you would like great multilingual support, that’s quick to switch between languages, Fleksy will serve you well.

The last cool feature is the ability to change the theme of Gboard, which isn’t all that new of a concept, as most keyboards on offer also allow this option, However! Something that you can do theme-wise, that not many, if any at all offer, is the ability to set a custom background for your keyboard.

If you are a big fan of the new style keyboard but hate the Google search option it is possible to disable it without much trouble at all. If however, you are on the other side and don’t have it enabled and wish to decide for yourself if it is worth using, you can turn it on just as easily.

Disabling or Enabling the Google Search box on Google’s Gboard Keyboard (formerly Google Keyboard)

It doesn’t matter if you are trying to enable or trying to disable the search box at the top of Gboard, it is basically the same process. To begin, open Gboard keyboard Settings, which can be done from the app drawer. Once the settings menu is open, tap Search and toggle the Show “G” Button to either On or Off. It’s that simple! You can now open your keyboard to double check the box is gone.

Whilst you are in the settings menu, it’s worth going into the Advanced box at the bottom and turning off Share usage Statistics and Share Snippets to get yourself a little extra privacy. Having the option to turn these settings on and off is probably just for show, but who knows if it does work why not use it.

Google Debuts New Search Technology, Including In

Google is rolling out brand new search technology in India, one of the search company’s biggest markets, including bilingual search results and in-video search.

This week, Google held its eighth Google For India event, where it unveiled the following search features:

Search in video

Bilingual search results

Bilingual voice search

Natural language search in Google Pay

Handwriting to text translation via Google Lens

These features may eventually make their way to North America, so it’s worth keeping them on your radar.

Here’s more information about the above-listed features, launching first in India.

Search In Video

Google is making it possible to search within YouTube videos.

As you’re watching a video on YouTube, tap on “Search in video” and enter the topic in the video you want to skip to.

— Google India (@GoogleIndia) December 19, 2023

In a blog post, Google states:

“Besides images, videos are also a rich source of visual information but it’s often hard to find something buried inside a long clip. For example, perhaps you’re watching a long video about Agra, and you’re curious if it also covers Fatehpur Sikri. With a new feature we’re piloting, you’re now able to search for anything that’s mentioned in a video, right from Search. Simply enter a search term using the ‘Search in video’ feature and quickly find what you’re looking for.”

Bilingual Search Results

Google is making search results in India bilingual, serving results in the user’s local languages alongside English results.

— Google India (@GoogleIndia) December 19, 2023

Google states in a blog post:

“Language needs in India are becoming more dynamic, and multilingual, and we’re also seeing this reflected in people’s search experiences. Notably, the majority of Google users in India consume more than one language.

To make it easier for people who use more than one language to seek and explore information, we’re now making search results pages bilingual, for people who prefer it that way.”

This functionality is rolling out in Hindi and will expand to other Indian languages, including Tamil, Telugu, Marathi, and Bengali, in the coming year.

Bilingual Voice Search

Google is improving speech recognition technology for Hinglish speakers, a hybrid of Hindi and English.

Searchers in India can conduct a voice search using Hindi and English in the same query, and Google will be able to understand what they’re looking for.

— Google India (@GoogleIndia) December 19, 2023

Google states in a blog post:

“We want to help more people, and specifically Indians, ask questions naturally and intuitively with their voice. Today we’re announcing a new speech recognition model that can more effectively understand people who speak in Hinglish. We’re doing this through the use of a new, neural-network inspired speech recognition model that takes into account the individual’s accents, surrounding sounds, context, and speaking styles.”

Natural Language Search In Google Pay

Google is debuting a feature in India that allows users to conduct natural language searches in Google Pay.

Users can now query Google Pay using natural language questions like, “Show me how much I spent on coffee last week.”

— Google India (@GoogleIndia) December 19, 2023

Handwriting To Text Translation

Google is working on a feature for Google Lens that translates doctors’ handwriting into legible text.

— Google India (@GoogleIndia) December 19, 2023

Google hasn’t committed to a launch date for this feature and notes that it’s intended for medical professionals.

However, the development of this technology could potentially lead to other use cases in the future.

Source: Google

Google Announces Search Redesign Using Mum Algorithm

Google announced that MUM will be integrated into some searches on Google Search. Google’s search results page is undergoing changes that will introduce new ways to discover and explore topics for certain searches.

This new way of searching expands on the old way of searching for answers and introduce a more intuitive way to explore topics.

Google will in the coming months guide users down topic paths in a redesigned search experience for some searches that will be more visual.

One of these changes is apparently already in search.

The Google MUM Algorithm

Earlier in 2023 Google introduced a new search algorithm that can search across languages and with images to find answers to complex questions.

This algorithm is called MUM, which is short for Multitask Unified Model.

The feature that Google is running with most is the ability to search with images instead of just text.

Google has already announced the integration of MUM into their Lens app in the coming months.

Related: Research Papers May Show What Google MUM Is

How Google MUM Will Change Search

The MUM algorithm will be introduced into Google Search and it will bring dramatic changes to the whole idea of what search means.

Users currently search for answers. But this new way of searching will help users explore more complex tasks while also introducing an entirely different way of presenting answers, particularly with images.

The goal for these changes is to make searching more intuitive.

Google Search Redesign

Google characterized this change as a redesign of search and that’s exactly what it is.

This new version of search takes three big steps away from the old ten blue links search engine.

MUM is Changing Search in Three Important Ways:

Things to know

Topic zoom

Visually browsable search results

Related: Google MUM is Coming to Lens

What is Google’s Things to Know?

The “things to know” feature incorporates Google MUM to understand all the ways users explore a topic. Google provides the example of the keyword phrase, “acrylic painting.”

Google notes that there are over 350 topics associated to that keyword phrase.

The “things to know” feature will identify the most relevant or popular “paths” that users take in exploring that topic and surface more website content that relates to that.

So rather than waiting for users to conduct follow up searches, Google search will anticipate those related topics and surface the content.

This is how this new search feature works:

“For example, we can identify more than 350 topics related to acrylic painting, and help you find the right path to take.”

Video Animation of “Things to Know” Feature Topic Exploration in Google Search

The second new feature is referred to as Topic Zoom. This feature allows a searcher to jump in and out of related topics.

A searcher can broaden the topic or zoom in to a more granular sub-topic.

Visual Exploration

The third new MUM feature is one that appears to be available now in Google Search.

Visual Exploration is a new way visual way to explore a topic.

This new feature will not show up for all searches.

It is restricted to searchers where the user intent is to find inspiration.

Google explains it like this:

“This new visual results page is designed for searches that are looking for inspiration, like “Halloween decorating ideas” or “indoor vertical garden ideas,” and you can try it today.”

How Google MUM and AI Are Changing Search

These new ways of searching appear to be designed to help searchers discover more websites and more web pages on the web.

Rather than limit users to the ten blue links, Google is making it easier for searchers to explore topics on many more websites than the old ten blue links way.

This should be good news for publishers.

How do you SEO for this? I suspect that nothing is going to change on Google’s end as far as search optimization.

The traditional way of doing things where title tags and headings are used for dumping high traffic keywords in the Keyword-1, Keyword 2 style of SEO may have to be revisited, but that’s been the case for several years.

It may be useful to follow Google’s guidelines for titles and headings by using them to actually describe what the web page and the web page sections are about.

Making a web page easy to understand is one of the core attributes of good SEO.

Citation Read Google’s Announcement on MUM in Google Search

How AI is Making Information More Useful

The Roi Of Ranking In Google Search: How Organic Search Can Save You Thousands

SEO and content work, when at its best, provides a provably positive return-on-investment (ROI).

Predicting the ROI, however, can be difficult.

Some sites will try to project potential ROI for ranking in Google Search by looking at what ranking improvements mean in dollars and cents.

Looking for a method of determining the ROI of your content and SEO initiatives? Read on to learn more.

Two Assumptions First

One way to estimate the potential value of a ranking improvement in real dollars is to project how much it might cost to acquire the same traffic with paid search.

Using this type of metric brings a few assumptions into the picture when making predictions.

Assumption 1: Paid Search Provides a Neutral or Positive ROI

If you help a client get 500 new users per month for a particular keyword, and that keyword has a CPC of $3, you could estimate these ranking changes create $1,500 per month in value.

Over the year, $18,000 of value would be created by this ranking change.

Here, you’d be using the CPC for the keyword as a proxy for its value to your client.

In truth, the client:

Might never see a positive ROI bidding such a rate for that keyword.

Or might gain a positive ROI bidding on that keyword with an even higher value.

This uncertainty limits how accurate you might be in predicting the value of influencing rankings for a particular keyword, but it provides a place to start and with estimations that can be helpful.

In order to predict how ranking increases might impact search traffic, there are a few approaches you can take.

There’s even data for CTRs across different industries.

If you want to know what traffic increases might be if you move a client from Position 8 to Position 3 on Google Search, you can calculate this as a function like so:

This calculation also assumes that search volume estimations are accurate, as reported by tools. If the client has reliable and detailed analytics, it may be possible to make much more informed calculations here.

Search results are increasingly complicated, which presents a range of problems. Result pages are no longer a list of 10 links.

Fortunately, you can isolate data to find the percentage of search results for any given domain that has results with alternative SERPs – which might include featured snippets, knowledge panels, video, local results, etc.

This data can help you more accurately project final growth possibilities, even if it does mean leaving out some keywords or manually reviewing certain SERPs to adjust best-guess CTRs if ranking improvements are achieved.

Despite these potential inaccuracies, collecting and analyzing this data allows you to move forward with rough calculations.

If a client can provide data about revenue and traffic volume via analytics – even at a high level – it’s possible to derive ratios that help you predict by what margin your calculations might be off.

Calculating the Current Value of Traffic

Another way to gather similar data and develop calculations is to use a tool like SEMrush or Ahrefs.

This software provides an aggregate estimation of the value of search traffic for any domain, as well as per-ranking calculations when query results are exported.

This calculation is likely derived as described in the above section:

Estimating CPC multiplied by the overall search volume.

Then making estimations about a site’s predicted total organic traffic and summing the values for each ranking keyword.

Let’s look at chúng tôi as an example. (I am not affiliated with Bankrate in any way.)

If you estimate the CPC value for each keyword chúng tôi ranks for, then multiply that by the estimated volume of organic traffic it receives for each keyword, the total value would equal around $35 million per month.

In other words, if chúng tôi were to pay for all its organic traffic (the same volume) in paid search, they’d need to spend $35 million per month!

Setting Appropriate Goals Look at Recent Ranking Losses

When engaging with a new client, your goal is to provide as much immediate value as possible. This often means looking for “low hanging fruit” or opportunities to make provably positive ROI quickly.

One way to identify low hanging opportunities is to identify those keywords where ranking losses have occurred recently and to find ways to restore or break beyond previously held higher ranks.

Data from SEMrush or Ahrefs can be segmented to show keywords that have lost rankings over the past month.

You can extrapolate the value of these traffic losses in totality, grouped by URL, and also by individual keyword.

Look for Keywords and Pages with the Largest Recent Drops

If you look at the keyword rankings chúng tôi lost in the past month, organized by those that had the largest potential revenue hit, you get this.

Looking at this data, you see that a ranking loss from Position 1 to 2 for these keywords resulted in over $100,000 per month in losses.

This could mean a million or more dollars in revenue over the course of a year.

One thing to consider in the above scenario is that you’re looking quickly at rankings for individual keywords attached to individual URLs.

You can take this a step further by analyzing what the net ranking losses are for pages across the domain.

This can allow you to find those URLs whose ranking dips brought the largest overall potential revenue loss. It also gives you a better picture of:

What those losses (and gains) look like across all the keywords each individual page ranks for.

How those fluctuations impact the business in aggregate.

It’s possible that some of the largest keyword ranking losses are also happening on pages that had the highest-ranking gains (for other keywords).

Your task is to find pages that used to do well across a keyword set, helping you narrow down pages/topics/content that can be made more robust to improve rankings.

By then looking at what these losses mean in real dollars, you can set goals that you tie back to expected ROI.

When communicating with a client, you can frame recommended tactics around these pages as work to stem losses that might continue without intervention.

Especially in highly competitive verticals, there can be an arms race for the top-ranking spots, which necessitates constant investment on key pages and topical sectors to maintain rank.

Go After Keywords Within Striking Distance

In setting goals with ROI in mind, one tactic can be to examine those keywords and their associated pages that are within striking distance to the top ranking – pages that rank lower on the first page and are capable of reaching Position 1.

You can segment your data to show you what the potential revenue gains might be if these select keywords were to gain top rankings.

This investment will typically be a function of content improvements, UI/UX improvements, and link building. Budget can be set by understanding what your return will be if you achieve your goal.

You can also do this same calculation but grouped by page, which will allow you to have a rough estimation of which pages might benefit most from continued improvement and authority building.

The end goal of this type of top-level, page-specific calculation is to identify pages whose upward mobility can have the greatest impact value-wise. It can also hint at where improving authority and earning links could have the biggest impact.

Investigating Links

Links are highly important to establishing or maintaining the authority of a page. This is especially true for competitive topics and keywords sets.

Knowing that part of your prescription to stimulate growth will include earning links and building authority, it can be very helpful to know which pages are experiencing a loss of linking root domains when setting goals with ROI in mind.

There is a direct correlation to loss of unique linking domains and the loss of traffic or hard-earned rankings. This is especially true for those with ULDs with high authority.

When you find the pages that have seen a loss of links and are also important to a client’s site monetarily, you can set goals for improving that page.

Developing more robust content to enable new links for these pages is the straightforward way to improve your rank.

You can also then make estimations about the value that will be created as a result of ranking improvements. This is helpful in setting budgets for link acquisition and content development targeted at specific pages or topical categories.

There are two ways you can go about finding pages that are having issues with link attrition.

Method 1: Referring Domain Totals

Tools like Ahrefs can provide you with URL-specific data about referring domain totals.

This data is updated frequently and you are able to collect daily link counts for at least a year.

In most applications, you examine unique linking domain counts for each URL in a site over two, six, and eight months, respectively.

By plotting each unique linking domain count over a time period, you can perform a linear regression on the data.

You can then obtain a trend of the data points, which allows you to sort and compare the upward or downward link-count trajectories of each page on a domain.

Because you also have data about which pages produce the most potential revenue in dollars for a client, you can organize your data to filter the most impactful pages.

This allows you to isolate from your data a select group of pages that have lost significant link volume and whose positioning and ranking are also highly important to the financial productivity of the website.

Here is an example of the plotted unique linking domains (ULD) counts and the corresponding linear regression:

Method 2: High-Value Pages

Another method you can use to identify pages that have had significant attrition of authority is to look at the aggregate value that a link has, or as it’s commonly called, link equity.

In the same way as before, you can look through the data to identify key pages that have high value (bring in top dollars) but that have had (or will have) a likely degradation of their overall domain authority (DA).

You can get this data with tools provided by Ahrefs.

In this instance, instead of looking at the slope of the overall total ULD trajectory (positive or negative and to what degree) like you did in method 1, you can sum the DA of new and lost links to a page to predict if a page has or will soon be impacted by large aggregate changes to their perceived authority because of the changes to the link portfolio.

For example, a given high-value page might have 50 ULDs. Perhaps the distribution of DA for links pointing to that page is 5% with a DA of over 60, with even distribution of other DA links.

It’s important for you to know if high DA links are gained or lost, as they could have an inordinately strong impact on the overall authority of the page.

Your approach then is to average the DA gained and lost over various time periods. When you see high average losses, you can identify those pages that could benefit from regaining some of the strong links they may have lost.

You can also identify pages that may soon take ranking hits as a result of lost, high-authority links.

Note: Averaging the DA of inbound links is slightly more complicated than a normal averaging scenario because DA is a logarithmic scale. In other words, a DA 90 link is not the same value as nine DA 10 links.

In order to get a rough average of the trajectory of gained or lost DA for a page, you collect the incremental new and lost links, their respective DA, and then find the average of these logarithmic values.

You do this while consuming API data from Ahrefs using Python’s NumPy library, which makes averaging these log values fairly straight forward.

In the end, you can identify pages that have lost a significant volume of links or have a link attrition trajectory that corresponds to ranking losses.

You can also understand which pages have lost highly-valuable links, or in aggregate terms, have lost more total DA as the result of changes in their link profile.

It’s surprising that some pages that have a positive growth trajectory when looking at total unique linking domains. But, when you see the quality of those unique linking domains, you find that higher volumes of new links aren’t making up for losses of higher-value links for the same page.

The ROI of Ranking in Google Search

We’ll never be able to measure ROI of ranking in Google search down to the dollar.

However, using these strategies, you can clearly illustrate the value of prioritizing organic search, especially in a relative way.

Use these methods to justify your spend, adapt your budgets for the future, and highlight your past successes.

More Resources:

Image Credits

All screenshots  taken by author, September 2023

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