90 Digital’s Founder and Chief Strategy Officer Nick Garner joined SEMrush Marketing Director Michael Stricker as special guest for a webinar, “Data Mining with SEMrush – Unlocking SEMrush for the Serious SEO’er.” Nick answered some additional questions about digital marketing and SEO changes to expect in 2015.
Question: As an agency owner, what's the deciding factor in a decision to subscribe to a digital marketing tool?
A: Simply, does it make us money? Following on from that, there has to be a really solid USP. A good example is serpwoo.com — it tracks keywords in a unique way and gives great insight into how SERPS move about as a whole for a given keyphrase. SEMrush is the same; I can do analysis which gives me insights that will help client relationships.
Q: How do you judge for SEO awards? What will define a winner in 2015?
A: It’s something I haven’t done in the last year because its very time consuming, but as someone who has done this in the past...winners are easy enough to spot. They push boundaries with something new, that has huge utility. The surprising thing about judging panels is how perceptive the groupthink is.
Q: What tips can you offer those who work primarily in very competitive industries, such as gaming?
A: I had an interesting conversation with a friend the other week. He works across several sectors and he said in competitive SEO (i.e. iGaming) people look at things very objectively. They account for Google's doctrine, but don't blindly follow it. That’s why people look at things like black hat SEO for what it is... risky and sadly, rewarding if done in right way.
Also user engagement is a very under weighted factor in my opinion. We have been testing and analyzing the effect of click through rates and user engagement on search rankings and its fairly clear there is a strong correlation. I did a presentation on this.
The upshot - too much focus on link acquisition and not enough on user engagement. Make sites users love, the search algo will respond with stronger rankings despite not many links.
Q: What challenges will international SEOs face in 2015? Anything emerging that we must be aware of?
A: I see the declining value of link acquisition and the rise of user engagement as a ranking metric. This will have a huge affect on international SEO because simply slamming lots of links into a mediocre web property won’t fly. Content and engagement have to be good. That means more work and spend on content.
Q: What tools should be in every marketer's toolbox in 2015?
A: SEMrush, and I'm not just saying that. For our link acquisition, we make it a qualifier that a site has to be indexed on SEMrush before we consider it for outreach. Once a site is qualified, we then revert to Majestic for our link metrics. We also use link research tools; Link Detox for spotting toxic sites pre outreach.
And serpwoo.com its a rank tracking tool, but shows you the top 20 search results for that phrase over time. This way you can analyze the churn in the search results, track winners and losers and generally get far more insight than you would get from a normal rank tracker. However, saying that, we love AWR cloud for bulk rank tracking.
View Nick's portion of the panel below or click through to listen to the entire panel discussion.