Spam Score: Moz’s New Metric to Measure Penalization Risk

Posted by randfish

Today, I’m very excited to announce that Moz’s Spam Score, an R&D project we’ve worked on for nearly a year, is finally going live. In this post, you can learn more about how we’re calculating spam score, what it means, and how you can potentially use it in your SEO work.

How does Spam Score work?

Over the last year, our data science team, led by 
Dr. Matt Peters, examined a great number of potential factors that predicted that a site might be penalized or banned by Google. We found strong correlations with 17 unique factors we call “spam flags,” and turned them into a score.

Almost every subdomain in 
Mozscape (our web index) now has a Spam Score attached to it, and this score is viewable inside Open Site Explorer (and soon, the MozBar and other tools). The score is simple; it just records the quantity of spam flags the subdomain triggers. Our correlations showed that no particular flag was more likely than others to mean a domain was penalized/banned in Google, but firing many flags had a very strong correlation (you can see the math below).

Spam Score currently operates only on the subdomain level—we don’t have it for pages or root domains. It’s been my experience and the experience of many other SEOs in the field that a great deal of link spam is tied to the subdomain-level. There are plenty of exceptions—manipulative links can and do live on plenty of high-quality sites—but as we’ve tested, we found that subdomain-level Spam Score was the best solution we could create at web scale. It does a solid job with the most obvious, nastiest spam, and a decent job highlighting risk in other areas, too.

How to access Spam Score

Right now, you can find Spam Score inside Open Site Explorer, both in the top metrics (just below domain/page authority) and in its own tab labeled “Spam Analysis.” Spam Score is only available for Pro subscribers right now, though in the future, we may make the score in the metrics section available to everyone. 

The current Spam Analysis page includes a list of subdomains or pages linking to your site. You can toggle the target to look at all links to a given subdomain on your site, given pages, or the entire root domain. You can further toggle source tier to look at the Spam Score for incoming linking pages or subdomains (but in the case of pages, we’re still showing the Spam Score for the subdomain on which that page is hosted).

You can click on any Spam Score row and see the details about which flags were triggered. We’ll bring you to a page like this:

Back on the original Spam Analysis page, at the very bottom of the rows, you’ll find an option to export a disavow file, which is compatible with Google Webmaster Tools. You can choose to filter the file to contain only those sites with a given spam flag count or higher:

Disavow exports usually take less than 3 hours to finish. We can send you an email when it’s ready, too.

WARNING: Please do not export this file and simply upload it to Google! You can really, really hurt your site’s ranking and there may be no way to recover. Instead, carefully sort through the links therein and make sure you really do want to disavow what’s in there. You can easily remove/edit the file to take out links you feel are not spam. When Moz’s Cyrus Shepard disavowed every link to his own site, it took more than a year for his rankings to return!

We’ve actually made the file not-wholly-ready for upload to Google in order to be sure folks aren’t too cavalier with this particular step. You’ll need to open it up and make some edits (specifically to lines at the top of the file) in order to ready it for Webmaster Tools

In the near future, we hope to have Spam Score in the Mozbar as well, which might look like this: 

Sweet, right? 🙂

Potential use cases for Spam Analysis

This list probably isn’t exhaustive, but these are a few of the ways we’ve been playing around with the data:

  1. Checking for spammy links to your own site: Almost every site has at least a few bad links pointing to it, but it’s been hard to know how much or how many potentially harmful links you might have until now. Run a quick spam analysis and see if there’s enough there to cause concern.
  2. Evaluating potential links: This is a big one where we think Spam Score can be helpful. It’s not going to catch every potentially bad link, and you should certainly still use your brain for evaluation too, but as you’re scanning a list of link opportunities or surfing to various sites, having the ability to see if they fire a lot of flags is a great warning sign.
  3. Link cleanup: Link cleanup projects can be messy, involved, precarious, and massively tedious. Spam Score might not catch everything, but sorting links by it can be hugely helpful in identifying potentially nasty stuff, and filtering out the more probably clean links.
  4. Disavow Files: Again, because Spam Score won’t perfectly catch everything, you will likely need to do some additional work here (especially if the site you’re working on has done some link buying on more generally trustworthy domains), but it can save you a heap of time evaluating and listing the worst and most obvious junk.

Over time, we’re also excited about using Spam Score to help improve the PA and DA calculations (it’s not currently in there), as well as adding it to other tools and data sources. We’d love your feedback and insight about where you’d most want to see Spam Score get involved.

Details about Spam Score’s calculation

This section comes courtesy of Moz’s head of data science, Dr. Matt Peters, who created the metric and deserves (at least in my humble opinion) a big round of applause. – Rand

Definition of “spam”

Before diving into the details of the individual spam flags and their calculation, it’s important to first describe our data gathering process and “spam” definition.

For our purposes, we followed Google’s definition of spam and gathered labels for a large number of sites as follows.

  • First, we randomly selected a large number of subdomains from the Mozscape index stratified by mozRank.
  • Then we crawled the subdomains and threw out any that didn’t return a “200 OK” (redirects, errors, etc).
  • Finally, we collected the top 10 de-personalized, geo-agnostic Google-US search results using the full subdomain name as the keyword and checked whether any of those results matched the original keyword. If they did not, we called the subdomain “spam,” otherwise we called it “ham.”

We performed the most recent data collection in November 2014 (after the Penguin 3.0 update) for about 500,000 subdomains.

Relationship between number of flags and spam

The overall Spam Score is currently an aggregate of 17 different “flags.” You can think of each flag a potential “warning sign” that signals that a site may be spammy. The overall likelihood of spam increases as a site accumulates more and more flags, so that the total number of flags is a strong predictor of spam. Accordingly, the flags are designed to be used together—no single flag, or even a few flags, is cause for concern (and indeed most sites will trigger at least a few flags).

The following table shows the relationship between the number of flags and percent of sites with those flags that we found Google had penalized or banned:

ABOVE: The overall probability of spam vs. the number of spam flags. Data collected in Nov. 2014 for approximately 500K subdomains. The table also highlights the three overall danger levels: low/green (< 10%) moderate/yellow (10-50%) and high/red (>50%)

The overall spam percent averaged across a large number of sites increases in lock step with the number of flags; however there are outliers in every category. For example, there are a small number of sites with very few flags that are tagged as spam by Google and conversely a small number of sites with many flags that are not spam.

Spam flag details

The individual spam flags capture a wide range of spam signals link profiles, anchor text, on page signals and properties of the domain name. At a high level the process to determine the spam flags for each subdomain is:

  • Collect link metrics from Mozscape (mozRank, mozTrust, number of linking domains, etc).
  • Collect anchor text metrics from Mozscape (top anchor text phrases sorted by number of links)
  • Collect the top five pages by Page Authority on the subdomain from Mozscape
  • Crawl the top five pages plus the home page and process to extract on page signals
  • Provide the output for Mozscape to include in the next index release cycle

Since the spam flags are incorporated into in the Mozscape index, fresh data is released with each new index. Right now, we crawl and process the spam flags for each subdomains every two – three months although this may change in the future.

Link flags

The following table lists the link and anchor text related flags with the the odds ratio for each flag. For each flag, we can compute two percents: the percent of sites with that flag that are penalized by Google and the percent of sites with that flag that were not penalized. The odds ratio is the ratio of these percents and gives the increase in likelihood that a site is spam if it has the flag. For example, the first row says that a site with this flag is 12.4 times more likely to be spam than one without the flag.

ABOVE: Description and odds ratio of link and anchor text related spam flags. In addition to a description, it lists the odds ratio for each flag which gives the overall increase in spam likelihood if the flag is present).

Working down the table, the flags are:

  • Low mozTrust to mozRank ratio: Sites with low mozTrust compared to mozRank are likely to be spam.
  • Large site with few links: Large sites with many pages tend to also have many links and large sites without a corresponding large number of links are likely to be spam.
  • Site link diversity is low: If a large percentage of links to a site are from a few domains it is likely to be spam.
  • Ratio of followed to nofollowed subdomains/domains (two separate flags): Sites with a large number of followed links relative to nofollowed are likely to be spam.
  • Small proportion of branded links (anchor text): Organically occurring links tend to contain a disproportionate amount of banded keywords. If a site does not have a lot of branded anchor text, it’s a signal the links are not organic.

On-page flags

Similar to the link flags, the following table lists the on page and domain name related flags:

ABOVE: Description and odds ratio of on page and domain name related spam flags. In addition to a description, it lists the odds ratio for each flag which gives the overall increase in spam likelihood if the flag is present).

  • Thin content: If a site has a relatively small ratio of content to navigation chrome it’s likely to be spam.
  • Site mark-up is abnormally small: Non-spam sites tend to invest in rich user experiences with CSS, Javascript and extensive mark-up. Accordingly, a large ratio of text to mark-up is a spam signal.
  • Large number of external links: A site with a large number of external links may look spammy.
  • Low number of internal links: Real sites tend to link heavily to themselves via internal navigation and a relative lack of internal links is a spam signal.
  • Anchor text-heavy page: Sites with a lot of anchor text are more likely to be spam then those with more content and less links.
  • External links in navigation: Spam sites may hide external links in the sidebar or footer.
  • No contact info: Real sites prominently display their social and other contact information.
  • Low number of pages found: A site with only one or a few pages is more likely to be spam than one with many pages.
  • TLD correlated with spam domains: Certain TLDs are more spammy than others (e.g. pw).
  • Domain name length: A long subdomain name like “bycheapviagra.freeshipping.onlinepharmacy.com” may indicate keyword stuffing.
  • Domain name contains numerals: domain names with numerals may be automatically generated and therefore spam.

If you’d like some more details on the technical aspects of the spam score, check out the 
video of Matt’s 2012 MozCon talk about Algorithmic Spam Detection or the slides (many of the details have evolved, but the overall ideas are the same):

We’d love your feedback

As with all metrics, Spam Score won’t be perfect. We’d love to hear your feedback and ideas for improving the score as well as what you’d like to see from it’s in-product application in the future. Feel free to leave comments on this post, or to email Matt (matt at moz dot com) and me (rand at moz dot com) privately with any suggestions.

Good luck cleaning up and preventing link spam!

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Music SEO – 7 Lessons in Brand Optimization for 2015

Posted by evolvingSEO

Bands, music, and SEO – A different paradigm

For B2B or ecommerce, people often
discover your brand with commercial queries like “dining room lamps” or an informational search like “how to fix a dishwasher”. 

Then they look around your site, your social profiles, get retargeted—before ever making a purchase—but in many cases that journey started with an non-branded organic search. Search is certainly not the
only discovery channel. But important enough that investment in non-branded keywords is essential.

A (very simplified) illustration of this discovery path might look something like this:

content discovery path b2b ecommerce

The above is NOT the case for musicians and bands though.
When’s the last time you discovered a band with a search engine? Probably never.

For bands and musicians, the discovery path is 
flipped aroundTHIS is probably more realistic:

discovery path for bands

The search engine is 
more about reducing friction on the path to becoming a die-hard fan. I don’t think many people are discovering their new favorite band like this:

searching for bands on google

But you HAVE probably tried to learn more about bands and musicians
after the initial discovery with searches like this:

current fan search


(No, I am not a Lumineers fan—just so there’s no confusion 😉 )

I don’t think many musicians, bands, record labels or managers are looking at this aspect of search. Sure, you can hope that users and Google “just figure it out.” Or you can be proactive and create the best fan experience possible.


SEO for bands = The branded keyword experience

So the REAL opportunity in keywords for bands and musicians is the fan experience here:

google autosuggest band search terms

It’s their “branded” terms (or what I like to call “PropWords“—proprietary keywords):

  • band name
  • musician names
  • album names
  • song names
  • lyrics
  • performance dates
  • interviews
  • etc…

For example, there’s a TON of volume around Lupe Fiasco’s branded terms—and this is only the tip of the iceberg:

branded search terms lupe fiasco

Just because no one’s discovering Lupe Fiasco in organic search, doesn’t mean there’s no opportunity. It’s just not in the normal places you’d look for B2B or eCommerce opportunity.

So that’s the lens through which the rest of this post should be seen through. SEO for bands is primarily about the
fan experience searching their branded terms


Search result opportunities for bands

1. Event listings

1.1 Optimize your own site for general tour searches

As a band, it’s important to keep fans and potential fans in your ecosystem. You should keep fans on your properties (website, social etc) as much as possible—so as not to give up extra traffic to third party sites. Being visible for your own event searches is a critical way to keep them there. 

Let’s use on of my new favorite bands, 
Sylvan Esso. Here’s an example of what Google typically shows for a tour search—for the query “sylvan esso tour dates”:

search results sylvan esso

I imagine for this query,
fans are trying to get a list of all tour dates. So what is Google doing now? They are providing the list front and center

You notice that Sylvan Esso only has one result—everything else goes to a third party site. This is already a lost opportunity to drive more fans to
their site. 

They could
optimize for clicks by aligning the likely user intent with their appearance in the SERP. Using the SEO Mofo SERP tool, I came up with:

sylvan esso tour dates search results

This listing may perform better because:

  • It aligns with most likely user intent (browse all dates/location & purchase)
  • The URL is more informative
  • It promises something exclusive (as long as they deliver—maybe with a group discount, a meet and greet etc).

This is the start to funneling fans through your website instead of a third party. 

1.2 Create pages for individual shows (with caution)

Some fans may opt to click a tour date Google has provided. What does Google do next?

tour dates serp

Google then returns a page like this—with a TON of stuff:

band serp

This SERP is packed! It includes:

  • A date carousel
  • A large AdWords ad
  • A map card 
  • Knowledge Graph card
  • Top result has 4 site-links
  • 7 more normal organic results, some with date snippets and extra links

Here’s the kicker. There’s only
one tiny little link to sylvanesso.com—in the map card. And it goes to their homepage. They have a pretty poor shot at driving users to their website here.

Let’s look at a result for a specific Dave Matthews Band tour date:

dave matthews serp

They’re doing it a little better. Few observations with this one:

  • Their link in the map goes to their tour page
  • The #1 organic listing goes to their website—because they have a specific page for that exact show.
  • The amount of stuff in this SERP is still immense. The first organic result is way below the fold.
  • The “with caution” part is that—you don’t want to just create individual pages for every show, without trying to add something of value to them—like information about the venue, past show pictures from that venue, etc. These pages can get quite “thin” and this isn’t a good thing either.

1.3 Tag your site to get official ticket links

Finally, the biggest change in Google is the addition of official ticketing agents. To use one of their examples, let’s look at 
Google’s example of “ariana grande tour” (and no, definitely not a secret Ariana Grande fan—although some of the production is decent):

Not only do the tour dates show up at the top, but check out this
preferred ticketing link showing prominently in the Map Card:

official ticket agent in band serp

Google 
first announced this capability about a year ago. And they have recently expanded this for comedians and concert venues as well. Here is Google’s official developer documentation on event markup for performers: http://ift.tt/1A00TXY I want to note, they are giving preferential treatment to official artist websites:

event markup for performer sites

You have three options to specify event info:

  1. HTML—code it directly into your page
  2. Plugins or Widgets
  3. New “Delegation” Markup—indicate Google to source it from another webpage

2. Make an app (or several) and index them

For those not aware,
App Indexing is getting pretty real. I think this is a major opportunity for bands and musicians. Let’s look at mobile search volume for a few albums that have come out recently:

mobile search volume for recent albums

According to my small sample, at least 44% of album name searches are on a mobile device (not even including tablets). Recent claims are that Android has 
almost 50% of the smartphone market share. For Alicia Keys, that would mean about 18,500 searches a month for “girl on fire” on an Android.

Are you seeing the opportunity? No? Well, Bjork did:

bjork app

She had an app developed just for her new album, Biophillia. Now, Android users searching Google for this album will be able to purchase and experience the “multimedia exploration” in this app.

If I was a label, I’d be experimenting with making apps for all albums by artists—filling them with an exclusive experience—and seeing what happens.

Google put together their 
4-steps to appiness—and easy to follow guide to get your Android app indexed in Google search.

3. Get a Knowledge Graph result

I know we’ve look at musicians who have already reached a threshold of popularity. They are likely to have a Knowledge Graph result already.

But what if you’re an up and coming musician? You may not have a Knowledge Graph result—but perhaps with a little nudge you can get one. For example, a friend of mine (and old bandmate)
Lost Midas is now a solo electrofusion producer and songwriter. He is signed to an independent label and even just performed at SXSW—but unfortunately Google does not show a Knowledge Graph result:

missing knowledge graph in serp

What could someone like him do to get in the Knowledge Graph?

One thing I found interesting was Google’s suggestions for how performers specifically can get in the Knowledge Graph. It’s
buried at the bottom of the event listings page:

3.1 Get listed in Wikipedia

This is easier said than done. Be sure to read their
inclusion criteria for music.

If you feel the band or musician is notable enough to get into Wikipedia, you can then 
start the process here. That is the official page to add an article request for bands and musicians. Please note, Wikipedia does not want you to list yourself. 

As Google states above—
be sure the official homepage is recorded correctly. I take this to mean—list the exact (“canonical”) version of your homepage URL. The one you would verify in Webmaster Tools.

You may also find this article on how someone claimed to
sneak through Wiki’s notability test interesting (although I can’t officially say how good that method is).

3.2 Get listed in MusicBrainz

The other site Google recommends getting listed in is 
MusicBrainz.org. I don’t have much experience with this site, but you can go here to learn about making contributions.

musicbrainz

3.3 Upload audio to Archive.org

Note, this is
just my hunch. But if Google is using Wikipedia and MusicBrainz to inform their Knowledge Graph results—perhaps they use Archive.org. Why not? It’s one of the most authoritative sources on the web. 

With Archive.org you can
upload entire concerts to their site:

archive.org

3.4 Create and verify a Google Plus page

Right, I know. “No one uses Google Plus.” “Google Plus is dying.” Perhaps there are elements of truth there. But I’d be surprised if having a Google Plus page verified with your website doesn’t somehow impact Knowledge Graph listings.

My friend does not have a Google Plus listing currently:

searching for band's google plus page

For those needing to create and verify a Google Plus page:

  1. Go here and choose “Brand” to create a page. (Note, you are not creating a personal page. This is a mistake I see many organizations making).
  2. And then link your website to your brand page by following those instructions.

4. Customize your Knowledge Graph

Once you
have a Knowledge Graph listing—that’s just the beginning! Google recently added ways to control what appears there.

4.1 Specify your logo

For bands (and all organizations really) branding is an essential element of success. Google now gives you the opportunity to
directly control the logo users see in your Knowledge Graph result:

customizing a band's knowledge graph result

As you can see above, the jazz group
The Bad Plus has a random picture from an article showing—when perhaps there is a better photo they would prefer. This may be especially important from a consistency of branding standpoint.

4.2 Specify your social profiles

In addition, you can also
directly control what social media links show in the knowledge graph. As I’ve mentioned, getting users to follow you on social is a key goal for bands in terms of audience development. Your audience is everything. And for bands, most search activity is going to come from their brand name. Why not make it easier for them to discover your social profiles?

For example, the amazing “Livetronica” Band (live electronica music)
The New Deal could get all of their social links to show in their Knowledge Box:

missing social profiles in knowledge graph

As you can see they are missing a huge opportunity to get more fans to their Instagram, Twitter and Soundcloud profiles. There’s at least 1,700 searches a month for “the new deal music” and “the new deal band”.

5. Have a crawlable and indexable site

For some reason, I have noticed sites in the music industry tend to be pretty inferior. This could be due to labels using poor frameworks, or the band/artist needing to just get a website up the quickest, cheapest and easiest way possible. This can cause some issues though.

Let’s check out my friend’s site again. He’s currently on the Flavors.me platform. It looks like there’s several “pages” to the user, but to Google his website is just all one page:

cached band page

As mentioned, this is a common yet often overlooked issue with music websites I see. In fact, despite Bjork getting it right by having an app—her website has the same issue:

cached webpage for bjork

Her
website (which actually does looks like an impressive creative endeavor) is built with hashes # in the URLs. Which makes the individual pages uncrawlable.

This shows up as an issue if I try to find her mailing list in Google:

serp for uncrawlable band page

The first result goes to her record label’s page. That’s fine right? Well, not really because she has her own mailing list:

page visible to searcher not search engine

Because of how the website is built though, that page is basically invisible to Google—and users can not easily find it from a search.

The absence of Bjork’s mailing list in search results is a
critical oversight. For an artist, your mailing list is one of your strongest assets.

5. Leverage your own YouTube channel

As it’s often said, YouTube is the second largest search engine. And there’s no doubt music queries make up a huge percentage of their overall search volume.

5.1 Create a YouTube channel

I’m sad to have to say this, but many bands don’t seem to even have a YouTube page of their own. Again, they are missing a massive opportunity to funnel fans searching for their content to their YouTube account—where they can grow subscribers, promote music and cross-promote other channels.

For example, that band The New Deal does not have their own YouTube channel:

branded youtube channel

Their live performances are a core selling point. This drives a ton of activity around their band in YouTube (people looking for concert footage). If they added some of their own on their own channel, they could capture a lot of this activity and engage with the fans.

5.2 Add video content fans are looking for

Having a channel is great, but fans are often looking for specific pieces of content. It’s really nice to have lots of fans that upload this content for you for fun, but capturing some of this activity is important.

For example, another new band I have been liking a lot –
Made In Heights—could be doing this:

search opportunities on youtube

Fans are looking for live performances, and the only ones there now are all fan uploads.

You can use YouTube search suggest to find other things fans are searching for. I don’t see it mentioned often, but KeywordTool.io allows you to get
YouTube search suggestions:

keywordtool.io youtube suggestions

This can quickly give you ideas of what content to add to your band page in YouTube:

keyword suggestions youtube

The above screenshot shows the most common searches around “Made In Heights”. They mostly look like song names. If I were that band, I’d make sure they have video or content for every one of those songs. 

You can use YouTube directly of course to find search suggestions off of the band name. For example, there are a lot of lyric searches. This makes sense. People want to listen to the song while reading the lyrics:

lyric search autosuggest

Wow! Yet, what happens when we look in YouTube for “made in heights lyrics”?

search results lyrics youtube

Never mind the band not having any lyric results—NO one has any lyric results. This is definitely an opportunity to provide content that doesn’t exist within YouTube.

5.3 Create playlists

Playlists are also overlooked in YouTube. They have many benefits:

  • Make your content easier to discover by organizing it.
  • Keep viewers on your content, in your channel
  • I’ve heard it rumored that creation of playlists can help you rank better in YouTube search only if your channel helps YouTube keep viewers… inside YouTube. Playlists can do this.
  • You can organize videos from any account into your playlists.
  • You can also rank in Google search with playlists (more on that below)

I started using playlists on my YouTube
music channel (where I mainly post covers and tutorials of hip-hop songs on piano)—and at least anecdotally—have seen my view count rise faster than usual:

youtube playlists

(I sure did use the word “content” a lot in that screenshot!)

Many popular artists in YouTube don’t have any playlists though—for example 
Flying Lotus:

missing band playlist youtube

You can also
curate playlists of videos about your band no matter who uploaded it. For example, let’s say you’re Drake (OK, maybe Drake’s record label or social media manager). You could curate playlists of the best Drake interviews, no matter who uploaded them:

drake seo suggestions

Then when fans search, they may discover the playlist on Drake’s channel which could earn subscriptions and also get them watching their chosen interviews.

Speaking of Drake—remember when I mentioned you could rank in Google search with YouTube playlists? Take a look at this:

drake serp

That’s a random 
fan playlist ranking #1 for “drake playlist”—which gets 1,600 searches a month. That’s not an outlying case though. I barely had to look further for another example:

john legend playlist serp

“john legend playlist” gets 720 searches a month—and two fan playlists rank at the top.

6. Contribute to Medium.com

While the idea of “guest posting” is saturated in many industries, I don’t see this being done a whole lot in the music industry. That’s why I was impressed when I noticed a DJ named
A-Trak posted this compelling article about rap in 2014:

guest posting for bands on medium

A few months later, this article has earned:

  • 254 recommendations on Medium
  • 1,480 Facebook shares
  • 470 tweets
  • 336 Google +1’s
  • Including shares by Fred Wilson (380,000+ followers) and pianist Chilly Gonzales (40,000+ followers and high relevance)

It even ranks #2 for [rap in 2014]:

serp for rap in 2014

Although not super high volume, it potentially ranks for a lot of long tail—and will bring in consistent brand discovery from a relevant audience.

6. Provide exclusive content about your lyrics

The SEO world is no stranger to lyric searches. Just last year, Rap Genius (now just “Genius”) was
caught up in a Google penalty. And back on December 19, Glenn Gabe was the first to notice Google displaying full lyrics in search results:

band-provided lyric content in serps


Glenn Gabe’s screenshot from December 19, 2014 of Google displaying lyrics in search.
 

Glenn also recently published a pretty 
in depth study about lyrics in the SERPs I highly recommend you check out.

In his article, Glenn astutely points out that when you add the word “meaning” to your lyrics search—the lyrics box goes away—which I found to be true looking at Sylvan Esso “Coffee” lyrics:

lyrics meaning in serps

As a band you could release exclusive content about your lyrics such as:

  • A photo of where they were originally written (on a napkin while on tour etc)
  • The story about how/why they were written
  • An explanation about their style (rhyme patterns, metaphors, references to history etc.)
  • Share old/original versions of the lyrics or a certain line and the process of revisions

Fans and music publications could also create exclusive content about the lyrics. They could interview the band about their meaning—or publish their own in-depth interpretation of the meaning.

I also want to point out—there can be a
lot of search volume for a single line of a song lyric, if the song and artist are popular enough. Check out the volume for this one line by Drake:

lyric search by line

That’s 1,000 searches a month (certainly skewed all towards February, when the album came out) for “runnin’ through the 6 with my woes”.

And I want to point out, 65% of those searches are being done on
mobile phones


mobile lyric searches

Check out search volume for Adele lyrics from years ago now:

adele lyric search

“But I set fire to the rain” and “watched it pour as I touched your face” both get decent volume and have a good share of mobile share.

Yet there is only one result in this SERP explaining the meaning to this line:

lyric search opportunity

There’s definitely value to be found by:

  • finding lines from lyrics with search volume
  • creating content to satisfy the user intent

Both the artists AND third party publishers have an opportunity here. Genius.com is really the only true player in this space right now!

7. Optimize for real name searches

Remember my friend “Lost Midas”? This is obviously not his real name. It’s Jason Trikakis. Not a hugely common name. So a search for it should return his website #1 right? 

real name searches in serps

Wrong. You can’t always rely on Google to “figure it out.” The problem here stems back to the fact his website is not very search-friendly. His name is on the website but very hard for Google to find.

Solution in this case would be:

  • Ultimately to be on a better web platform. 
  • But also adding his name into the title of the page (if possible on Flavors.me) would certainly be a step in the right direction 🙂

Also—remember Sylvan Esso? What if one were to be searching around for “Nick Sanborn” who makes up 1/2 of the Sylvan Esso duo?

real name search for band member

Now, I’d never argue something from sylvanesso.com should appear at the top. But there’s nothing from their domain on the first page. As a fan, I’d probably enjoy at least one result from one of their own domains.

Here’s a few ideas for them:

  • Create a bio page on their own site
  • Have a personal website which can then get people to the band website etc

There’s SO much more I could have mentioned in terms of marketing music these days. When I 
played in bands it was the days of MySpace 🙂 I don’t even think YouTube was out yet. 

There are so many opportunities out there now with social media, platforms like Soundcloud and Bandcamp. I left a LOT out of this post.

If you have any questions at all, please ask in the comments below! And I also love to chat about music!

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What Does an SEO Do In Their Day-to-Day Work – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by randfish

There’s a common misconception that SEO is a “one and done” task — that you clean up and optimize a site, and once that’s done, you can focus your efforts elsewhere. There’s so much more to the day-to-day work of an SEO, though, and in today’s Whiteboard Friday, Rand walks us through those ongoing parts of the job.

For reference, here’s a still of this week’s whiteboard!

What Does and SEO do in Their Day-to-Day Work board

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans, and welcome to another edition of Whiteboard Friday. This week I want to tackle a question I get sometimes about the day-to-day activities of an SEO and what should you do after you’ve completed that first site audit, sort of fixed the problems, what does the day-to-day work look like?

A lot of SEOs, especially those coming from consulting backgrounds or who’ve joined companies as in-house SEOs who’ve had kind of this big project based SEO work to do, find themselves struggling after that’s done. Typically, that process is pretty straightforward. You kind of do an audit. You look at all the things on the site. You figure out what’s wrong, what’s missing, where are opportunities that we could execute on. Maybe you do some competitive analysis, some market analysis. You identify those fixes. You work with teams to make those changes, validate the results have been completed, and then you’re sort of in this, “Well, do I go back and audit again and try to iterate and improve again?”

That doesn’t feel quite right, but it also doesn’t necessarily feel quite right to go to the very, very old-school SEO model of like, “All right, we’ve got these keywords we’re trying to rank for. Let’s optimize our content, get some links, check our rankings for them, and then try to rinse and repeat and keep improving.” This model’s pretty broken I’d say and just not reflective of the reality of opportunities that are in SEO or the reality of the tactics that work today.

So the way that I like to think about this is the SEO audit, an SEO focused audit — which is trying to say, “What traffic could we get? What’s missing? What’s broken and wrong?” — only works at the low level and the very tactical trenches of a marketing process or a business process. What you really need to do is you want to be more incrementally based, but you need to be informed by and you need to be evolving your tactics and your work based on what is the business need right now.

So this process is about saying, “What are the top level company and marketing goals overall? For everyone in the company, what are we trying to accomplish this year, this quarter, the next three year plan? What are we trying to achieve?” Then figure out areas where SEO can best contribute to that work, and then from there you’re creating tactical lists of projects that maybe you’re going to positively move the right needles, the ones that you’ve identified, and then you’re going to evaluate and prioritize which ones you want to implement first, second, and third in what order, and test implement those.

So, hey we’ve figured out that we think that a new blog section for this particular piece of content, or we think that getting some user generated content, building up some community around this section would be terrific, or we think outreach to these kinds of publications or building up our social stats in these worlds will expose us to the right people who can earn us the amplification we’ll need to rank better, etc., etc. Okay, this is a fine process, and you’re going to want to do this, I would say, at least annually and maybe even think about it quarterly.

All this work is essentially centered on a customer profile universe, a universe of people. I’ve got my person X, Y, and Z here, but your customer universe may involve many different personas. It may involve just one type of person you’re targeting that you’re always trying to reach over and over again, but it probably involves also the people who influence that direct subsection of your market.

From there, you can take the, “Hey, you know what, person Z is really interested in and consumes and searches for these types of content topics and these kinds of keywords, so we’re going to start by taking keyword set A or content set A and figure out our keyword list and our content list. We’re going to create, launch, and promote work that supports that.” It could be content pieces, could be video, could be some combination of those things in social media, all forms of content. It could be tools, whatever you want, an application.

We’re going to launch that, promote it, and then work on some amplification, and then we’re going to measure and learn, which is a critical part of that process. I want to not only see what are my results, but what can I learn from what we just did and hopefully I’ll get better and better at iterating on this process. This process will work iteratively, kind of similar to our broken process over here or to our site audit process there. It will work iteratively, and then every now and then you should pop back up and go, “Hey, you know what, I feel like we’ve exhausted the easiest 80% of value that we’re going to get from 20% of the work on keyword set A. Let’s move on and go visit keyword set B now, and then let’s go visit content set C.”

Occasionally, you’re even going to want to move one step up and say, “Hey, you know what, maybe our personas or our market is changing a little bit. We want to try targeting some new customers. We’re going to look at these folks over here or this guy over here and see if we can reach them and their influencers with new kinds of content and topics and keywords, and that sort of thing.”

If your site is rocking and rolling, if you’ve completed your audit, things are just smooth sailing, then this kind of a process is going to work much better, so long as it’s tied to real business objectives. Then when you achieve results here, you can point back to, “Hey, remember I told you these are the areas SEO can contribute to our overall goals, and now I can connect these up directly. The metrics that I get from all this SEO stuff can tie directly to those areas, can tie directly to the business goals.” Everyone from the CEO on down is going to love what you’re doing for the company.

All right everyone, I hope you’ll join me again next week for another edition of Whiteboard Friday. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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A Sneak Preview of #MozCon 2015

Posted by EricaMcGillivray

Considering coming to MozCon, July 13-15 in Seattle this year? Maybe you’re on the fence because you’re not sure what’s going on, and most importantly, what our amazing speakers are talking about? I hear you, MozCon fans! While the agenda is still being finalized, we wanted to give you a sneak preview.

If you’re like “oh, shit, I forgot to buy my MozCon ticket!,” do so now:

Buy your ticket!

We’re still finalizing a couple more speakers and topics, and of course, community speakers submissions are fast approaching. Keep your eye out here on April 2nd for more info!


Adam Singer
Analytics Advocate at
Google
@AdamSinger

Adam Singer is Analytics Advocate at Google, startup adviser, investor, and blogger. He previously was director for a global consulting team and has provided digital strategy for brands in a variety of industries including marketing, technology, healthcare, and more.


Topic: Digital Analytics: People, Process, Platform

In a data-driven world, Adam will pull you back to think again about your analytics, best practices, and how you report.

Adam Singer


Cindy Krum
Founder and CEO at
MobileMoxie LLC.
Twitter:
@Suzzicks

Cindy Krum is the CEO and Founder of MobileMoxie, LLC, and author of Mobile Marketing: Finding Your Customers No Matter Where They Are. She brings fresh and creative ideas to her clients, and regularly speaks at US and international digital marketing events.


Topic: Become a Mobile SEO Superhero

With Google’s algorithm mobile change, Cindy will walk you through the changes, what they mean for your site and its rankings, and what you should be focusing on going forward.

Cindy Krum


Courtney Seiter
Head of Content Marketing at
Buffer
Twitter:
@courtneyseiter

Courtney Seiter examines social media and workplace culture at Buffer, and her writing has been published at TIME, Fast Company, Lifehacker, Inc., and more. She lives in Nashville, where she is a founder of
Girls to the Moon, a leadership camp for girls.


Topic: The Psychology of Social Media

Courtney dives into the science of why people post, share, and build relationships on social media and how to create an even more irresistible social media experience for your audience.

Courtney Seiter


Dana DiTomaso
Partner at
Kick Point Inc
Twitter:
@danaditomaso

Whether at a conference, on the radio, or in a meeting, Dana DiTomaso likes to impart wisdom to help you turn a lot of marketing bullshit into real strategies to grow your business. Dana is also a fan of the random fact. Kick Point often celebrates “Watershed Wednesday” because of her diverse work and education background. In her spare time, Dana drinks tea and yells at the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.


Topic: How to Make Your Marketing Match Your Reality

Too often, the tone and promises of marketing don’t match those of the business itself. Dana will help you bring your brand identity together, both in-store and online.

Dana DiTomaso


David Mihm
Director of Local Search Strategy at Moz

Twitter:
@davidmihm

David Mihm has created and promoted search-friendly websites for clients of all sizes since the early 2000’s. David co-founded GetListed.org, which he sold to Moz in November 2012. He now serves as Moz’s Director of Local Search Strategy.


Topic: Astoundingly Useful Applications of Facebook Search for Marketers

Facebook has long neglected its potential as a local search giant, and as a result, its Graph Search product is an afterthought for too many marketers. David showcases Graph-powered insights for small-business marketers—with utility well beyond Facebook.

David Mihm


Joanna Wiebe
Creator at
Copy Hackers
Twitter:
@copyhackers

The original conversion copywriter, Joanna Wiebe is the cofounder of Snap and Copy Hackers, where startups learn to convert like mofos. She is a natural-born thief who steals messages from the mouths of customers and turns their words into higher-converting copy.


Topic: Sinners Are Winners: How Messaging Your Prospect’s Darkest Desires Can Boost Engagement

Playing it too safe? Joanna will show you how to tap into your prospects’ secret wishes in your copy—and use bold messages your competitors wouldn’t dare use.

Joanna Wiebe


Kristina Halvorson
Founder at
Brain Traffic
Twitter:
@halvorson

Kristina Halvorson is widely recognized as one of the most important voices in content strategy. She is the founder of Brain Traffic, the coauthor of Content Strategy for the Web, and the founder of the Confab content strategy conferences.


Topic: How To Do Content Strategy (Probably)

Put 10 people in a room and ask them to define “content strategy,” and you’ll likely get 10 different answers. Kristina will share her own tried-and-true approach!

Kristina Halvorson


Lexi Mills
Head of Digital at
Dynamo PR
Twitter:
@leximills

Lexi Mills is a PR SEO specialist, with over eight years experience working with both small firms and big brands. She has designed and implemented integrated PR, SEO, content, and social campaigns in the UK, Europe, and USA for B2B and B2C clients.

Topic title TBD, but Lexi will be covering PR.

Lexi Mills


Marshall Simmonds
Founder and CEO at
Define Media Group, Inc.
Twitter:
@mdsimmonds

Marshall Simmonds is the Founder of Define Media Group, the enterprise audience development company specializing in strategic search and social marketing. Define works with many of the most influential brands and networks in the world.


Topic: Dark Search and Social—Run Rabbit Run!

With data from 112 publishers with 164+ billion page views, Marshall will dive into the challenges of tracking social and search campaigns. He’ll focus on history’s lessons and what’s happening with direct and mobile traffic in an app-heavy world.

Marshall Simmonds


Marta Turek
Senior Digital Marketing Programs Manager at
ROI·DNA
Twitter:
@MTurek

Marta holds seven years of experience in digital advertising, specializing in lead generation, and paid search marketing. Developing digital strategies and telling stories through data is what rocks her boat.


Topic: Too Busy to Do Good Work


Don’t let your work suffer from being busy. Instead, let Marta show you the tactics to clean up your PPC processes to finally get more strategic.

Marta Turek


Matthew Brown
Head of Special Projects at Moz

Twitter:
@MatthewJBrown

Matthew runs Special Projects at Moz. This has been going on for two years, and we’re still not totally sure what that means.


Topic: An SEO’s Guide to the Insane World of Content

Find yourself arguing whether or not SEO is just great content? Matthew will talk through a strategic and tactical journey of content strategy from an SEO’s viewpoint and leave you with new tools and tactics.

Matthew Brown


Mig Reyes
Designer at
Basecamp
Twitter:
@migreyes

Mig Reyes is a traditionally trained graphic designer who escaped advertising agency life, cut his teeth at the T-shirt powerhouse known as Threadless, and now helps lead branding, marketing and even a bit of product work at Basecamp.

Topic title TBD, but Mig will be focusing on putting your creative energies into your marketing.

Mig Reyes


Pete Meyers
Marketing Scientist at Moz

Twitter:
@dr_pete

Dr. Pete Meyers is Marketing Scientist for Moz, where he works on product research and data-driven content. He has spent the past three years building research tools to monitor Google, including the MozCast project, and he curates the Google Algorithm History.


Topic: Surviving Google: SEO in 2020

Organic results are disappearing, replaced by Knowledge Graph, direct answers, new ad hybrids, and more. How can SEOs be ready for Google in five years?

Pete Meyers


Purna Virji
Founder and CEO of 
Purview Marketing
Twitter: 
@purnavirji

Purna is the founder and CEO of Purview Marketing, a boutique consulting firm helping companies of all sizes grow via search and content marketing. Purna is an avid traveler and speaks six languages (and can swear in 17!).


Topic: How to Better Sell SEO to the C-Suite

Whether you need more resources, trust, or buy-in, Purna will share practical tips for focusing on Profit & Loss and better communicating SEO planning, forecasting, and strategizing.

Purna Virji


Rand Fishkin
Founder at Moz

Twitter:
@randfish

Husband of Geraldine. Founder of Moz. Presenter of Whiteboard Friday. Writer of blog posts. Sender of tweets.


Topic: Onsite SEO in 2015: An Elegant Weapon for a More Civilized Marketer

SEO has come full circle as on-page SEO has returned to the forefront. Rand will share how and why on-site SEO is so important and show off uncommon tactics with powerful potential.

Rand Fishkin


Richard Millington
Founder at
FeverBee
Twitter:
@RichMillington

Richard is the Founder of FeverBee, a community consultancy, and the author of Buzzing Communities.


Topic: Reaching Critical Mass: 150 Active Members

Imagine you could create and rejuvenate a successful community whenever you like? Richard Millington will take you through a step by step action plan to reach critical mass.

Richard Millington


Wil Reynolds
Director of Strategy at
Seer Interactive
Twitter:
@wilreynolds

Wil Reynolds founded Seer with a focus on doing great things for its clients, team, and the community. His passion for driving and analyzing the impact that a site’s traffic has on the company’s bottom line has shaped SEO and digital marketing industries. Wil also actively supports the Covenant House.


Topic: The Time to Do the Web Right Is Incredibly Short

In “web time,” competitive advantage can be lost in an instant, speed matters. Wil shares how keep on the pulse of competitor agility and how to get things done to stay ahead of them.

Wil Reynolds


In addition to fabulous days full of great content from extraordinary minds, we’re also cooking up three nights of great fun, networking, and MozCon love. Monday night, our partners will be hosting a pub crawl in Seattle’s Belltown neighborhood with special prizes for those who hit every spot. Tuesday night, we’re doing a networking event, featuring you, the community, and your passions besides marketing. Details to come as they’re finalized! And finally, Wednesday night, we’ll say ‘see you next year’ with our traditional party at the Garage: karaoke, bowling, pool, and chilling with friends.

Questions about MozCon? I’m happy to answer them in the comments.

See you at MozCon, friends!

Buy your ticket!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!