Do you suffer from range anxiety?

California recently moved forward with state financing for the construction of a network of hydrogen refueling stations for fuel-cell vehicles. The California Energy Commission has granted FirstElement Fuel Inc. $27.6 million to spur expansion of a project that was initially funded by loans from Honda and Toyota–prominent fuel-cell vehicle manufacturers–totalling $13.8 million. The network will include 19 hydrogen stations throughout the state, enabling fuel-cell vehicle owners to drive from the Redwood Forest to the Mexican border without ever running short on fuel.

If you were to listen to the network’s enthusiasts, you’d be under the impression California just scaled an economic hurdle never before encountered.

Fuel-cell vehicles are revolutionary, they insist, but potential buyers, afraid they’ll be unable to find a place to refuel–a trauma they call “range anxiety”–have shied away from the purchase. Without the infrastructure to support it, network enthusiasts allege, the miracle car would never see the road. This product-infrastructure conundrum served as the justification for the multimillion dollar government intervention.

But is this problem of “range anxiety” and investor and consumer caution all that unique? 100 years ago, when the automobile itself was new to the market, wouldn’t we have seen a similar economic situation with a promising technology awaiting the infrastructure to facilitate its embrace?

IER Founder Robert Bradley’s book, Oil, Gas, and Government, comments extensively on this topic. By diving in, we’ll see that at the turn of the 20th century it wasn’t government, but the market that supplied answers to these same problems:

Early in the automobile age, gasoline sales joined those of kerosene in multipurpose establishments such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and drug stores. Even coal, lumber, and ice dealers sold gasoline as a sideline. Blacksmith shops and machine shops evolved into auto garages, which became prominent distributors of motor fuel. Typically, gasoline was stored in a large open container, and customers would fill a self-brought container, pay at the counter, and lug the gasoline home or to a car. This was self-service, but it was a slow inconvenient process for motorists. Gasoline was subject to spillage, evaporation, and the hazard of explosion or fire. Some customers circumvented these problems with tank-wagon deliveries, but storage expenses, ranging from facility construction to holding costs, made this an imperfect alternative.

What was needed was a marketing breakthrough. This came in 1910 with a new dispensing device that gauged and pumped gasoline from an enclosed container to the fuel tank through an open hose. The fuel pump eliminated earlier problems. Product loss was minimized, and underground tank storage reduced hazards. The motorist could fill up without leaving the car with little wait. Competition between retailers would ensure that.

Garages were the first to adopt the new dispensing method, and competition between sellers led to free auxiliary services such as air for tires, water for radiators, and lubrication for doors and other areas. Complaints about lackadaisical service and irregular pricing by garages were heard, however, and some motorists began frequenting bulk stations as an alternative. Bulk stations welcomed the business. With delivery expenses bypassed, quantity discounts were passed through, and bulk stations offered extra services to lure business their way. When brisk business began to interfere with regular bulk-station operations, some plants physically split the wholesale and retail functions and opened “filling stations” on the curb of the street. A new era in petroleum marketing was born.

Simultaneously with bulk-station retailing, refiners recognized opportunities to open service stations that would offer expedient service and competitive pricing. Two types of stations emerged: curbside pumps to service hurried motorists in noncongested areas and drive-in stations offering wider services to more customers with a short wait. Early drive-in stations sprang up in St. Louis (1905), Seattle (1907), Denver (1909), Dallas (1911), and Memphis and Cincinnati (1912). By 1914 the novelty of filling stations had caught on, and head-to-head competition led to efforts to improve the appearance and cleanliness of stations and their attendants. Windshield cleaning, expanded hours, credit, and in some cases coupon purchases came into use. Restrooms became a major attraction. National advertising of retail gasoline brands began. With expanded road systems and long-distance travel, brand-name identification became important to assure the motorist of standard quality. All these developments accompanied great sales and station growth. By 1920, an estimated 15,000 service stations dotted the American landscape.

The development and early operations of gasoline marketing were a market phenomenon. Consumer demand dictated the evolution of gasoline retailing from the general store to the garage to the bulk station and finally to the service stations. Government intervention was perfunctory. (Bradley, p. 1309-1311)

With gasoline, it wasn’t the power of government that created the modern, convenient network of fueling stations we frequent today, but thousands of people working to figure out a better product and service as they competed with other gasoline dispensers. Through fits and starts, with failed experiments along the way, a solution to the product-infrastructure conundrum emerged. In the absence of a top-down solution, market processes brought about an answer.

Existing gas stations seem like the logical starting point for hydrogen fill-ups, but we’ll now never know what creative ideas the market may have spit out. Hydrogen and gasoline, admittedly, are not perfect economic analogues, but that’s precisely why organic market processes would have been of value. Who’s to say consumers wouldn’t have demonstrated a preference for hydrogen stations outside of the yoga studio or next to that farmers market with the killer kombucha? By entrenching the conventional gas station paradigm, the State of California short-circuited a great opportunity for us to watch the market (and gratuitous virtue signaling) play out.

What’s more, by co-signing the loan for FirstElement Fuel Inc., the State of California has undermined prospective competition. Would you want to take the risk of opening your own hydrogen station when FirstElement Fuel has the California Energy Commission propping it up? Odds are, you wouldn’t. In the near-term this will surely give fuel-cell vehicle sales a boost, but in the long-term this intervention costs consumers by sapping creativity and competition from the marketplace.

The post Do you suffer from range anxiety? appeared first on IER.

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2016/07/do-you-suffer-from-range-anxiety.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

Do you suffer from range anxiety?

California recently moved forward with state financing for the construction of a network of hydrogen refueling stations for fuel-cell vehicles. The California Energy Commission has granted FirstElement Fuel Inc. $27.6 million to spur expansion of a project that was initially funded by loans from Honda and Toyota–prominent fuel-cell vehicle manufacturers–totalling $13.8 million. The network will include 19 hydrogen stations throughout the state, enabling fuel-cell vehicle owners to drive from the Redwood Forest to the Mexican border without ever running short on fuel.

If you were to listen to the network’s enthusiasts, you’d be under the impression California just scaled an economic hurdle never before encountered.

Fuel-cell vehicles are revolutionary, they insist, but potential buyers, afraid they’ll be unable to find a place to refuel–a trauma they call “range anxiety”–have shied away from the purchase. Without the infrastructure to support it, network enthusiasts allege, the miracle car would never see the road. This product-infrastructure conundrum served as the justification for the multimillion dollar government intervention.

But is this problem of “range anxiety” and investor and consumer caution all that unique? 100 years ago, when the automobile itself was new to the market, wouldn’t we have seen a similar economic situation with a promising technology awaiting the infrastructure to facilitate its embrace?

IER Founder Robert Bradley’s book, Oil, Gas, and Government, comments extensively on this topic. By diving in, we’ll see that at the turn of the 20th century it wasn’t government, but the market that supplied answers to these same problems:

Early in the automobile age, gasoline sales joined those of kerosene in multipurpose establishments such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and drug stores. Even coal, lumber, and ice dealers sold gasoline as a sideline. Blacksmith shops and machine shops evolved into auto garages, which became prominent distributors of motor fuel. Typically, gasoline was stored in a large open container, and customers would fill a self-brought container, pay at the counter, and lug the gasoline home or to a car. This was self-service, but it was a slow inconvenient process for motorists. Gasoline was subject to spillage, evaporation, and the hazard of explosion or fire. Some customers circumvented these problems with tank-wagon deliveries, but storage expenses, ranging from facility construction to holding costs, made this an imperfect alternative.

What was needed was a marketing breakthrough. This came in 1910 with a new dispensing device that gauged and pumped gasoline from an enclosed container to the fuel tank through an open hose. The fuel pump eliminated earlier problems. Product loss was minimized, and underground tank storage reduced hazards. The motorist could fill up without leaving the car with little wait. Competition between retailers would ensure that.

Garages were the first to adopt the new dispensing method, and competition between sellers led to free auxiliary services such as air for tires, water for radiators, and lubrication for doors and other areas. Complaints about lackadaisical service and irregular pricing by garages were heard, however, and some motorists began frequenting bulk stations as an alternative. Bulk stations welcomed the business. With delivery expenses bypassed, quantity discounts were passed through, and bulk stations offered extra services to lure business their way. When brisk business began to interfere with regular bulk-station operations, some plants physically split the wholesale and retail functions and opened “filling stations” on the curb of the street. A new era in petroleum marketing was born.

Simultaneously with bulk-station retailing, refiners recognized opportunities to open service stations that would offer expedient service and competitive pricing. Two types of stations emerged: curbside pumps to service hurried motorists in noncongested areas and drive-in stations offering wider services to more customers with a short wait. Early drive-in stations sprang up in St. Louis (1905), Seattle (1907), Denver (1909), Dallas (1911), and Memphis and Cincinnati (1912). By 1914 the novelty of filling stations had caught on, and head-to-head competition led to efforts to improve the appearance and cleanliness of stations and their attendants. Windshield cleaning, expanded hours, credit, and in some cases coupon purchases came into use. Restrooms became a major attraction. National advertising of retail gasoline brands began. With expanded road systems and long-distance travel, brand-name identification became important to assure the motorist of standard quality. All these developments accompanied great sales and station growth. By 1920, an estimated 15,000 service stations dotted the American landscape.

The development and early operations of gasoline marketing were a market phenomenon. Consumer demand dictated the evolution of gasoline retailing from the general store to the garage to the bulk station and finally to the service stations. Government intervention was perfunctory. (Bradley, p. 1309-1311)

With gasoline, it wasn’t the power of government that created the modern, convenient network of fueling stations we frequent today, but thousands of people working to figure out a better product and service as they competed with other gasoline dispensers. Through fits and starts, with failed experiments along the way, a solution to the product-infrastructure conundrum emerged. In the absence of a top-down solution, market processes brought about an answer.

Existing gas stations seem like the logical starting point for hydrogen fill-ups, but we’ll now never know what creative ideas the market may have spit out. Hydrogen and gasoline, admittedly, are not perfect economic analogues, but that’s precisely why organic market processes would have been of value. Who’s to say consumers wouldn’t have demonstrated a preference for hydrogen stations outside of the yoga studio or next to that farmers market with the killer kombucha? By entrenching the conventional gas station paradigm, the State of California short-circuited a great opportunity for us to watch the market (and gratuitous virtue signaling) play out.

What’s more, by co-signing the loan for FirstElement Fuel Inc., the State of California has undermined prospective competition. Would you want to take the risk of opening your own hydrogen station when FirstElement Fuel has the California Energy Commission propping it up? Odds are, you wouldn’t. In the near-term this will surely give fuel-cell vehicle sales a boost, but in the long-term this intervention costs consumers by sapping creativity and competition from the marketplace.

The post Do you suffer from range anxiety? appeared first on IER.

Do you suffer from range anxiety?

California recently moved forward with state financing for the construction of a network of hydrogen refueling stations for fuel-cell vehicles. The California Energy Commission has granted FirstElement Fuel Inc. $27.6 million to spur expansion of a project that was initially funded by loans from Honda and Toyota–prominent fuel-cell vehicle manufacturers–totalling $13.8 million. The network will include 19 hydrogen stations throughout the state, enabling fuel-cell vehicle owners to drive from the Redwood Forest to the Mexican border without ever running short on fuel.

If you were to listen to the network’s enthusiasts, you’d be under the impression California just scaled an economic hurdle never before encountered.

Fuel-cell vehicles are revolutionary, they insist, but potential buyers, afraid they’ll be unable to find a place to refuel–a trauma they call “range anxiety”–have shied away from the purchase. Without the infrastructure to support it, network enthusiasts allege, the miracle car would never see the road. This product-infrastructure conundrum served as the justification for the multimillion dollar government intervention.

But is this problem of “range anxiety” and investor and consumer caution all that unique? 100 years ago, when the automobile itself was new to the market, wouldn’t we have seen a similar economic situation with a promising technology awaiting the infrastructure to facilitate its embrace?

IER Founder Robert Bradley’s book, Oil, Gas, and Government, comments extensively on this topic. By diving in, we’ll see that at the turn of the 20th century it wasn’t government, but the market that supplied answers to these same problems:

Early in the automobile age, gasoline sales joined those of kerosene in multipurpose establishments such as grocery stores, hardware stores, and drug stores. Even coal, lumber, and ice dealers sold gasoline as a sideline. Blacksmith shops and machine shops evolved into auto garages, which became prominent distributors of motor fuel. Typically, gasoline was stored in a large open container, and customers would fill a self-brought container, pay at the counter, and lug the gasoline home or to a car. This was self-service, but it was a slow inconvenient process for motorists. Gasoline was subject to spillage, evaporation, and the hazard of explosion or fire. Some customers circumvented these problems with tank-wagon deliveries, but storage expenses, ranging from facility construction to holding costs, made this an imperfect alternative.

What was needed was a marketing breakthrough. This came in 1910 with a new dispensing device that gauged and pumped gasoline from an enclosed container to the fuel tank through an open hose. The fuel pump eliminated earlier problems. Product loss was minimized, and underground tank storage reduced hazards. The motorist could fill up without leaving the car with little wait. Competition between retailers would ensure that.

Garages were the first to adopt the new dispensing method, and competition between sellers led to free auxiliary services such as air for tires, water for radiators, and lubrication for doors and other areas. Complaints about lackadaisical service and irregular pricing by garages were heard, however, and some motorists began frequenting bulk stations as an alternative. Bulk stations welcomed the business. With delivery expenses bypassed, quantity discounts were passed through, and bulk stations offered extra services to lure business their way. When brisk business began to interfere with regular bulk-station operations, some plants physically split the wholesale and retail functions and opened “filling stations” on the curb of the street. A new era in petroleum marketing was born.

Simultaneously with bulk-station retailing, refiners recognized opportunities to open service stations that would offer expedient service and competitive pricing. Two types of stations emerged: curbside pumps to service hurried motorists in noncongested areas and drive-in stations offering wider services to more customers with a short wait. Early drive-in stations sprang up in St. Louis (1905), Seattle (1907), Denver (1909), Dallas (1911), and Memphis and Cincinnati (1912). By 1914 the novelty of filling stations had caught on, and head-to-head competition led to efforts to improve the appearance and cleanliness of stations and their attendants. Windshield cleaning, expanded hours, credit, and in some cases coupon purchases came into use. Restrooms became a major attraction. National advertising of retail gasoline brands began. With expanded road systems and long-distance travel, brand-name identification became important to assure the motorist of standard quality. All these developments accompanied great sales and station growth. By 1920, an estimated 15,000 service stations dotted the American landscape.

The development and early operations of gasoline marketing were a market phenomenon. Consumer demand dictated the evolution of gasoline retailing from the general store to the garage to the bulk station and finally to the service stations. Government intervention was perfunctory. (Bradley, p. 1309-1311)

With gasoline, it wasn’t the power of government that created the modern, convenient network of fueling stations we frequent today, but thousands of people working to figure out a better product and service as they competed with other gasoline dispensers. Through fits and starts, with failed experiments along the way, a solution to the product-infrastructure conundrum emerged. In the absence of a top-down solution, market processes brought about an answer.

Existing gas stations seem like the logical starting point for hydrogen fill-ups, but we’ll now never know what creative ideas the market may have spit out. Hydrogen and gasoline, admittedly, are not perfect economic analogues, but that’s precisely why organic market processes would have been of value. Who’s to say consumers wouldn’t have demonstrated a preference for hydrogen stations outside of the yoga studio or next to that farmers market with the killer kombucha? By entrenching the conventional gas station paradigm, the State of California short-circuited a great opportunity for us to watch the market (and gratuitous virtue signaling) play out.

What’s more, by co-signing the loan for FirstElement Fuel Inc., the State of California has undermined prospective competition. Would you want to take the risk of opening your own hydrogen station when FirstElement Fuel has the California Energy Commission propping it up? Odds are, you wouldn’t. In the near-term this will surely give fuel-cell vehicle sales a boost, but in the long-term this intervention costs consumers by sapping creativity and competition from the marketplace.

The post Do you suffer from range anxiety? appeared first on IER.

Should SEOs and Marketers Continue to Track and Report on Keyword Rankings? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Is the practice of tracking keywords truly dying? There’s been a great deal of industry discussion around the topic of late, and some key points have been made. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand speaks to the biggest challenges keyword rank tracking faces today and how to solve for them.

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about keyword ranking reports. There have been a few articles that have come out recently on a number of big industry sites around whether SEOs should still be tracking their keyword rankings.

I want to be clear: Moz has a little bit of a vested interest here. And so the question is: Can you actually trust me, who obviously I’m a big shareholder in Moz and I’m the founder, and so I care a lot about how Moz does as a software business. We help people track rankings. Does that mean I’m biased? I’m going to do my best not to be. So rather than saying you absolutely should track rankings, I’m instead going to address what most of these articles have brought up as the problems of rank tracking and then talk about some solutions by which you can do this.

My suspicion is you should probably be rank tracking. I think that if you turn it off and you don’t do it, it’s very hard to get a lot of the value that we need as SEOs, a lot of the intelligence. It’s true there are challenges with keyword ranking reports, but not true enough to avoid doing it entirely. We still get too much value from them.

The case against — and solutions for — keyword ranking data

A. People, places, and things

So let’s start with the case against keyword ranking data. First off, “keyword ranking reports are inaccurate.” There’s personalization, localization, and device type, and that biases and has removed what is the “one true ranking.” We’ve done a bunch of analyses of these, and this is absolutely the case.

Personalization, turns out, doesn’t change ranking that much on average. For an individual it can change rankings dramatically. If they visited your website before, they could be historically biased to you. Or if they visited your competitor’s, they could be biased. Their previous search history might have biased them in a single session, those kinds of things. But with the removal of Google+ from search results, personalization is actually not as dramatically changing as it used to be. Localization, though, still huge, absolutely, and device differences, still huge.

Solution

But we can address this, and the way to do that is by tracking these things separately. So here you can see I’ve got a ranking report that shows me my mobile rankings versus my desktop rankings. I think this is absolutely essential. Especially if you’re getting a lot of traffic from both mobile and desktop search, you need to be tracking those separately. Super smart. Of course we should do that.

We can do the same thing on the local side as well. So I can say, “Here, look. This is how I rank in Seattle. Here’s how I rank in Minneapolis. Here’s how I rank in the U.S. with no geographic personalization,” if Google were to do that. Those types of rankings can also be pretty good.

It is true that local ranked tracking has gotten a little more challenging, but we’ve seen that folks like, well Moz itself, but folks like STAT (GetStat), SERPs.com, Search Metrics, they have all adjusted their rank tracking methodologies in order to have accurate local rank tracking. It’s pretty good. Same with device type, pretty darn good.

B. Keyword value estimation

Another big problem that is expressed by a number of folks here is we no longer know how much traffic an individual keyword sends. Because we don’t know how much an individual keyword sends, we can’t really say, “What’s the value of ranking for that keyword?” Therefore, why bother to even track keyword rankings?

I think this is a little bit of spurious logic. The leap there doesn’t quite make sense to me. But I will say this. If you don’t know which keywords are sending you traffic specifically, you still know which pages are receiving search traffic. That is reported. You can get it in your Google Analytics, your Omniture report, whatever you’re using, and then you can tie that back to keyword ranking reports showing which pages are receiving traffic from which keywords.

Most all of the ranked tracking platforms, Moz included, has a report that shows you something like this. It says, “Here are the keywords that we believe are likely to have sent these percentages of traffic to this page based on the keywords that you’re tracking, based on the pages that are ranking for them, and how much search traffic those pages receive.”

Solution

So let’s track that. We can look at pages receiving visits from search, and we can look at which keywords they rank for. Then we can tie those together, which gives us the ability to then make not only a report like this, but a report that estimates the value contributed by content and by pages rather than by individual keywords.

In a lot of ways, this is almost superior to our previous methodology of tracking by keyword. Keyword can still be estimated through AdWords, through paid search, but this can be estimated on a content basis, which means you get credit for how much value the page has created, based on all the search traffic that’s flowed to it, and where that’s at in your attribution lifecycle of people visiting those pages.

C. Tracking rankings and keyword relevancy

Pages often rank for keywords that they aren’t specifically targeting, because Google has gotten way better with user intent. So it can be hard or even impossible to track those rankings, because we don’t know what to look for.

Well, okay, I hear you. That is a challenge. This means basically what we have to do is broaden the set of keywords that we look at and deal with the fact that we’re going to have to do sampling. We can’t track every possible keyword, unless you have a crazy budget, in which case go talk to Rob Bucci up at STAT, and he will set you up with a huge campaign to track all your millions of keywords.

Solution

If you have a smaller budget, what you have to do is sample, and you sample by sets of keywords. Like these are my high conversion keywords — I’m going to assume I have a flower delivery business — so flower delivery and floral gifts and flower arrangements for offices. My long tail keywords, like artisan rose varieties and floral alternatives for special occasions, and my branded keywords, like Rand’s Flowers or Flowers by Rand.

I can create a bunch of different buckets like this, sample the keywords that are in them, and then I can track each of these separately. Now I can see, ah, these are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving up and receiving more traffic. These are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving down. These are sets of keywords that perform better or worse on mobile or desktop, or better or worse in these geographic areas. Right now I can really start to get true intelligence from there.

Don’t let your keyword targeting — your keyword targeting meaning what keywords you’re targeting on which pages — determine what you rank track. Don’t let it do that exclusively. Sure, go ahead and take that list and put that in there, but then also do some more expansive keyword research to find those broad sets of search terms and phrases that you should be monitoring. Now we can really solve this issue.

D. Keyword rank tracking with a purpose

This one I think is a pretty insidious problem. But for many organizations ranking reports are more of a historical artifact. We’re not tracking them for a particular reason. We’re tracking them because that’s what we’ve always tracked and/or because we think we’re supposed to track them. Those are terrible reasons to track things. You should be looking for reasons of real value and actionability. Let’s give some examples here.

Solution

What I want you to do is identify the goals of rank tracking first, like: What do I want to solve? What would I do differently based on whether this data came back to me in one way or another?

If you don’t have a great answer to that question, definitely don’t bother tracking that thing. That should be the rule of all analytics.

So if your goal is to say, “Hey, I want to be able to attribute a search traffic gain or a search traffic loss to what I’ve done on my site or what Google has changed out there,” that is crucially important. I think that’s core to SEO. If you don’t have that, I’m not sure how we can possibly do our jobs.

We attribute search traffic gains and losses by tracking broadly, a broad enough set of keywords, hopefully in enough buckets, to be able to get a good sample set; by tracking the pages that receive that traffic so we can see if a page goes way down in its search visits. We can look at, “Oh, what was that page ranking for? Oh, it was ranking for these keywords. Oh, they dropped.” Or, “No, they didn’t drop. But you know what? We looked in Google Trends, and the traffic demand for those keywords dropped,” and so we know that this is a seasonality thing, or a fluctuation in demand, or those types of things.

And we can track by geography and device, so that we can say, “Hey, we lost a bunch of traffic. Oh, we’re no longer mobile-friendly.” That is a problem. Or, “Hey, we’re tracking and, hey, we’re no longer ranking in this geography. Oh, that’s because these two competitors came in and they took over that market from us.”

We could look at would be something like identify pages that are in need of work, but they only require a small amount of work to have a big change in traffic. So we could do things like track pages that rank on page two for given keywords. If we have a bunch of those, we can say, “Hey, maybe just a few on-page tweaks, a few links to these pages, and we could move up substantially.” We had a Whiteboard Friday where we talked about how you could do that with internal linking previously and have seen some remarkable results there.

We can track keywords that rank in position four to seven on average. Those are your big wins, because if you can move up from position four, five, six, seven to one, two, three, you can double or triple your search traffic that you’re receiving from keywords like that.

You should also track long tail, untargeted keywords. If you’ve got a long tail bucket, like we’ve got up here, I can then say, “Aha, I don’t have a page that’s even targeting any of these keywords. I should make one. I could probably rank very easily because I have an authoritative website and some good content,” and that’s really all you might need.

We might look at some up-and-coming competitors. I want to track who’s in my space, who might be creeping up there. So I should track the most common domains that rank on page one or two across my keyword sets.

I can track specific competitors. I might say, “Hey, Joel’s Flower Delivery Service looks like it’s doing really well. I’m going to set them up as a competitor, and I’m going to track their rankings specifically, or I’m going to see…” You could use something like SEMrush and see specifically: What are all the keywords they rank for that you don’t rank for?

This type of data, in my view, is still tremendously important to SEO, no matter what platform you’re using. But if you’re having these problems or if these problems are being expressed to you, now you have some solutions.

I look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2016/07/should-seos-and-marketers-continue-to_29.html
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Should SEOs and Marketers Continue to Track and Report on Keyword Rankings? – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

Is the practice of tracking keywords truly dying? There’s been a great deal of industry discussion around the topic of late, and some key points have been made. In today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand speaks to the biggest challenges keyword rank tracking faces today and how to solve for them.

http://fast.wistia.net/embed/iframe/3mov88kckb?seo=false&videoFoam=true

http://fast.wistia.net/assets/external/E-v1.js

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

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week we’re going to chat about keyword ranking reports. There have been a few articles that have come out recently on a number of big industry sites around whether SEOs should still be tracking their keyword rankings.

I want to be clear: Moz has a little bit of a vested interest here. And so the question is: Can you actually trust me, who obviously I’m a big shareholder in Moz and I’m the founder, and so I care a lot about how Moz does as a software business. We help people track rankings. Does that mean I’m biased? I’m going to do my best not to be. So rather than saying you absolutely should track rankings, I’m instead going to address what most of these articles have brought up as the problems of rank tracking and then talk about some solutions by which you can do this.

My suspicion is you should probably be rank tracking. I think that if you turn it off and you don’t do it, it’s very hard to get a lot of the value that we need as SEOs, a lot of the intelligence. It’s true there are challenges with keyword ranking reports, but not true enough to avoid doing it entirely. We still get too much value from them.

The case against — and solutions for — keyword ranking data

A. People, places, and things

So let’s start with the case against keyword ranking data. First off, “keyword ranking reports are inaccurate.” There’s personalization, localization, and device type, and that biases and has removed what is the “one true ranking.” We’ve done a bunch of analyses of these, and this is absolutely the case.

Personalization, turns out, doesn’t change ranking that much on average. For an individual it can change rankings dramatically. If they visited your website before, they could be historically biased to you. Or if they visited your competitor’s, they could be biased. Their previous search history might have biased them in a single session, those kinds of things. But with the removal of Google+ from search results, personalization is actually not as dramatically changing as it used to be. Localization, though, still huge, absolutely, and device differences, still huge.

Solution

But we can address this, and the way to do that is by tracking these things separately. So here you can see I’ve got a ranking report that shows me my mobile rankings versus my desktop rankings. I think this is absolutely essential. Especially if you’re getting a lot of traffic from both mobile and desktop search, you need to be tracking those separately. Super smart. Of course we should do that.

We can do the same thing on the local side as well. So I can say, “Here, look. This is how I rank in Seattle. Here’s how I rank in Minneapolis. Here’s how I rank in the U.S. with no geographic personalization,” if Google were to do that. Those types of rankings can also be pretty good.

It is true that local ranked tracking has gotten a little more challenging, but we’ve seen that folks like, well Moz itself, but folks like STAT (GetStat), SERPs.com, Search Metrics, they have all adjusted their rank tracking methodologies in order to have accurate local rank tracking. It’s pretty good. Same with device type, pretty darn good.

B. Keyword value estimation

Another big problem that is expressed by a number of folks here is we no longer know how much traffic an individual keyword sends. Because we don’t know how much an individual keyword sends, we can’t really say, “What’s the value of ranking for that keyword?” Therefore, why bother to even track keyword rankings?

I think this is a little bit of spurious logic. The leap there doesn’t quite make sense to me. But I will say this. If you don’t know which keywords are sending you traffic specifically, you still know which pages are receiving search traffic. That is reported. You can get it in your Google Analytics, your Omniture report, whatever you’re using, and then you can tie that back to keyword ranking reports showing which pages are receiving traffic from which keywords.

Most all of the ranked tracking platforms, Moz included, has a report that shows you something like this. It says, “Here are the keywords that we believe are likely to have sent these percentages of traffic to this page based on the keywords that you’re tracking, based on the pages that are ranking for them, and how much search traffic those pages receive.”

Solution

So let’s track that. We can look at pages receiving visits from search, and we can look at which keywords they rank for. Then we can tie those together, which gives us the ability to then make not only a report like this, but a report that estimates the value contributed by content and by pages rather than by individual keywords.

In a lot of ways, this is almost superior to our previous methodology of tracking by keyword. Keyword can still be estimated through AdWords, through paid search, but this can be estimated on a content basis, which means you get credit for how much value the page has created, based on all the search traffic that’s flowed to it, and where that’s at in your attribution lifecycle of people visiting those pages.

C. Tracking rankings and keyword relevancy

Pages often rank for keywords that they aren’t specifically targeting, because Google has gotten way better with user intent. So it can be hard or even impossible to track those rankings, because we don’t know what to look for.

Well, okay, I hear you. That is a challenge. This means basically what we have to do is broaden the set of keywords that we look at and deal with the fact that we’re going to have to do sampling. We can’t track every possible keyword, unless you have a crazy budget, in which case go talk to Rob Bucci up at STAT, and he will set you up with a huge campaign to track all your millions of keywords.

Solution

If you have a smaller budget, what you have to do is sample, and you sample by sets of keywords. Like these are my high conversion keywords — I’m going to assume I have a flower delivery business — so flower delivery and floral gifts and flower arrangements for offices. My long tail keywords, like artisan rose varieties and floral alternatives for special occasions, and my branded keywords, like Rand’s Flowers or Flowers by Rand.

I can create a bunch of different buckets like this, sample the keywords that are in them, and then I can track each of these separately. Now I can see, ah, these are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving up and receiving more traffic. These are sets of keywords where I’ve generally been moving down. These are sets of keywords that perform better or worse on mobile or desktop, or better or worse in these geographic areas. Right now I can really start to get true intelligence from there.

Don’t let your keyword targeting — your keyword targeting meaning what keywords you’re targeting on which pages — determine what you rank track. Don’t let it do that exclusively. Sure, go ahead and take that list and put that in there, but then also do some more expansive keyword research to find those broad sets of search terms and phrases that you should be monitoring. Now we can really solve this issue.

D. Keyword rank tracking with a purpose

This one I think is a pretty insidious problem. But for many organizations ranking reports are more of a historical artifact. We’re not tracking them for a particular reason. We’re tracking them because that’s what we’ve always tracked and/or because we think we’re supposed to track them. Those are terrible reasons to track things. You should be looking for reasons of real value and actionability. Let’s give some examples here.

Solution

What I want you to do is identify the goals of rank tracking first, like: What do I want to solve? What would I do differently based on whether this data came back to me in one way or another?

If you don’t have a great answer to that question, definitely don’t bother tracking that thing. That should be the rule of all analytics.

So if your goal is to say, “Hey, I want to be able to attribute a search traffic gain or a search traffic loss to what I’ve done on my site or what Google has changed out there,” that is crucially important. I think that’s core to SEO. If you don’t have that, I’m not sure how we can possibly do our jobs.

We attribute search traffic gains and losses by tracking broadly, a broad enough set of keywords, hopefully in enough buckets, to be able to get a good sample set; by tracking the pages that receive that traffic so we can see if a page goes way down in its search visits. We can look at, “Oh, what was that page ranking for? Oh, it was ranking for these keywords. Oh, they dropped.” Or, “No, they didn’t drop. But you know what? We looked in Google Trends, and the traffic demand for those keywords dropped,” and so we know that this is a seasonality thing, or a fluctuation in demand, or those types of things.

And we can track by geography and device, so that we can say, “Hey, we lost a bunch of traffic. Oh, we’re no longer mobile-friendly.” That is a problem. Or, “Hey, we’re tracking and, hey, we’re no longer ranking in this geography. Oh, that’s because these two competitors came in and they took over that market from us.”

We could look at would be something like identify pages that are in need of work, but they only require a small amount of work to have a big change in traffic. So we could do things like track pages that rank on page two for given keywords. If we have a bunch of those, we can say, “Hey, maybe just a few on-page tweaks, a few links to these pages, and we could move up substantially.” We had a Whiteboard Friday where we talked about how you could do that with internal linking previously and have seen some remarkable results there.

We can track keywords that rank in position four to seven on average. Those are your big wins, because if you can move up from position four, five, six, seven to one, two, three, you can double or triple your search traffic that you’re receiving from keywords like that.

You should also track long tail, untargeted keywords. If you’ve got a long tail bucket, like we’ve got up here, I can then say, “Aha, I don’t have a page that’s even targeting any of these keywords. I should make one. I could probably rank very easily because I have an authoritative website and some good content,” and that’s really all you might need.

We might look at some up-and-coming competitors. I want to track who’s in my space, who might be creeping up there. So I should track the most common domains that rank on page one or two across my keyword sets.

I can track specific competitors. I might say, “Hey, Joel’s Flower Delivery Service looks like it’s doing really well. I’m going to set them up as a competitor, and I’m going to track their rankings specifically, or I’m going to see…” You could use something like SEMrush and see specifically: What are all the keywords they rank for that you don’t rank for?

This type of data, in my view, is still tremendously important to SEO, no matter what platform you’re using. But if you’re having these problems or if these problems are being expressed to you, now you have some solutions.

I look forward to your comments. We’ll see you again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

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from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2016/07/should-seos-and-marketers-continue-to.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

SEI Alumni Highlight: Derek Mast – Commitment to Continuing Education

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 6.14.55 AMDerek Mast, a foreman for a large, multi-state solar company. Derek has been in the solar industry for a year and a half and before joining the solar industry, Derek was an electrician for six years. He is one of several dozen employees his company has sent to SEI for training. They put all new hires through SEI’s introductory class and some employees, through more advanced solar training. Derek joined SEI for PV 351L, a hands-on lab class covering tools and techniques for operation and maintenance of PV systems. The course is advanced training designed for solar professionals like Derek, who are already working in the PV industry who want to take their technical skills to the next level ­and gain hands-­on experience with a wide range of advanced analytical tools and meters.

While Derek is an experienced electrician, he speaks to the need for training for everyone getting into the field. For himself, though he came from a strong technical background, he emphasizes the amount of knowledge and experience he needed to assimilate in order to fully understand the DC side of systems. And for anyone new to the field, he said “There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know that you don’t know you don’t know. Just getting some base level education is important. There’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re wiring up a solar system. And knowing how to install things well, figuring out what best practices and why they’re best practices is important as you’re learning your field.“

And why did his company send people to SEI for solar Installer training:  “My company really values bringing their students a lot of education through SEI”. He added that training really adds to the company’s overall effectiveness, increasing their reliability and diagnostic ability. While he definitely believes in on the job training Derek said “I can teach people on the job but I’m going to miss stuff that the course will take them through.”He added that he really appreciated the shared experience of instructors who have been in the field for such a long time who can speak to scenarios and systems that you encounter much but will eventually need to in your career. But even for his co-workers that are not directly involved installs, Derek emphasized that “my company puts everyone through PV101 online. It just gives so much context to everyone, even if they’re in accounting… It really helps communication within the company.”

Derek is enjoying his transition into solar, intrigued by all he is learning and the quickly advancing technology in the industry. He is quick to share his knowledge with his crew and excited to encourage everyone in the field to continue to learn and evolve with industry.

The post SEI Alumni Highlight: Derek Mast – Commitment to Continuing Education appeared first on Solar Training – Solar Installer Training – Solar PV Installation Training – Solar Energy Courses – Renewable Energy Education – NABCEP – Solar Energy International (SEI).

from Raymond Castleberry Blog http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com/2016/07/sei-alumni-highlight-derek-mast.html
via http://raymondcastleberry.blogspot.com

SEI Alumni Highlight: Derek Mast – Commitment to Continuing Education

Screen Shot 2016-07-28 at 6.14.55 AMDerek Mast, a foreman for a large, multi-state solar company. Derek has been in the solar industry for a year and a half and before joining the solar industry, Derek was an electrician for six years. He is one of several dozen employees his company has sent to SEI for training. They put all new hires through SEI’s introductory class and some employees, through more advanced solar training. Derek joined SEI for PV 351L, a hands-on lab class covering tools and techniques for operation and maintenance of PV systems. The course is advanced training designed for solar professionals like Derek, who are already working in the PV industry who want to take their technical skills to the next level ­and gain hands-­on experience with a wide range of advanced analytical tools and meters.

While Derek is an experienced electrician, he speaks to the need for training for everyone getting into the field. For himself, though he came from a strong technical background, he emphasizes the amount of knowledge and experience he needed to assimilate in order to fully understand the DC side of systems. And for anyone new to the field, he said “There’s a lot of stuff you don’t know that you don’t know you don’t know. Just getting some base level education is important. There’s a lot that can go wrong when you’re wiring up a solar system. And knowing how to install things well, figuring out what best practices and why they’re best practices is important as you’re learning your field.“

And why did his company send people to SEI for solar Installer training:  “My company really values bringing their students a lot of education through SEI”. He added that training really adds to the company’s overall effectiveness, increasing their reliability and diagnostic ability. While he definitely believes in on the job training Derek said “I can teach people on the job but I’m going to miss stuff that the course will take them through.”He added that he really appreciated the shared experience of instructors who have been in the field for such a long time who can speak to scenarios and systems that you encounter much but will eventually need to in your career. But even for his co-workers that are not directly involved installs, Derek emphasized that “my company puts everyone through PV101 online. It just gives so much context to everyone, even if they’re in accounting… It really helps communication within the company.”

Derek is enjoying his transition into solar, intrigued by all he is learning and the quickly advancing technology in the industry. He is quick to share his knowledge with his crew and excited to encourage everyone in the field to continue to learn and evolve with industry.

The post SEI Alumni Highlight: Derek Mast – Commitment to Continuing Education appeared first on Solar Training – Solar Installer Training – Solar PV Installation Training – Solar Energy Courses – Renewable Energy Education – NABCEP – Solar Energy International (SEI).