Weekly Finds - Week 40, 2020

This week with partially indexed sites, search performance patterns, guest posting done right, short vs. long copy, and the entertainment/value curve.

Audio Version

A lot of sites on the web are either just partially indexed or have partially indexed pages on Google, including big names like Walmart, Medium, or Verizon. The partial indexing problem isn’t only caused by JS anymore, how relevant all the elements on your page are plays a role, too! Partial indexing due to irrelevance before was actually the key lesson for me here. It seems that Google skips unrelated parts of a page to save crawl resources.

I've been preaching for a while that Google faces resource and indexing challenges due to this swamp that is the internet. Sites need to earn their spot in Google's index.

What you can do, according to Bartosz:

  • compare the desktop and mobile version of the same page side-by-side
  • run both version’s HTML code through diffchecker
  • load a page with turned-off Javascript and check whether Google can index the content you can’t see"

Indexing issues aren't the only causes for ranking drops. Another one is low CTR, which you can identify in the Search Console. If a result jumps on page 1 but keeps a measly CTR, Google will kick it back on page 2. If that happens for "too many" keywords of a site, Google might devalue it in a board core algorithm update. That's why you should spot check the user intent and optimize the snippet of pages with keywords ranking in the top 10.

This article by my Ryte Technical Allstars sister Izzy Smith shoes some really cool examples of user intent and relevance. My key lesson: the many examples of Google figuring out the right keywords for a page.

Another factor that impacts rankings significantly besides content is links, and one of the most popular link building methods is guest posts. Guest posting still works but high-quality placements aren’t that easy to come by anymore. Instead of pitching other publications, the method outlined in this article by Alex Tachalova suggests building a following on social networks and then using tools like Followerwonk to find followers that work at sites you want to guest post on and then reaching out.

Besides that, one key lesson for me is including examples of previous guest blogs in your pitch. It prooves experience and can even signal authority if the publications are good enough. I also enjoy the idea of including expert quotes in guest posts to foster relationships.

Pitches don't just come in emails but also on landing pages in the form of copy. There is an unwritten myth in the SaaS world that shorter copy is better. But Should online copy always be short?

This post explains why many assumptions about short copy, such as people not reading long-form copy, are outdated. This, by the way, is something Eddie Shleyner taught me: if people are curious about something, they're going to read.

Part of the origin of these assumptions is the intense copying going on between sites and marketers. It also seems that short-form copy is hardly ever tested against long-form. That's why the key lesson for me is that the length of copy is not as important as the message, trustworthiness, and reduction of friction.

Frictionless content can be video, for example. Entertainment platforms like Youtube, Netflix, or Instagram exist along a social/value curve. Snapchat, for example, has low production value of its content but is very connecting (social). Netflix isn’t sociable but has super high production value. This article about Quibi's entertainment value explains why the company failed and how other platforms are successful because they fit on the social/value curve.

The best way to determine the sociability of a product is by looking at the relation of content creators and content consumers. Only a tiny share of Netflix consumers create content, as opposed to Snapchat. The higher the share of creators from the overall user base, the more social the product. As a result, recommendation algorithms form a power curve of views per content piece vs number of users. Snapchat has a flat curve (lots of content with low to mediocre engagement), Netflix a steep one (little content with high engagement). Quibi didn't have any of that. It's a low-production value platform with low shareability.

Key lesson: TikTok’s success is in part rooted in its frictionless loop of content creation, consumption, and sharing. The line between creators is blurred. #prosumer