Posts by AndrewF

Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization

Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization

 

Adding images to your articles encourages people to read them, and well-chosen images can also back up your message and get you a good ranking in image search results. But you should always remember to give your images good alt attributes: alt text strengthens the message of your articles with search engine spiders and improves the accessibility of your website. This article explains all about alt tags and title tags and why you should optimize them.

Note: the term “alt tag” is a commonly used abbreviation of what’s actually an alt attribute on an img tag. The alt tag of any image on your site should describe what’s on it. Screen readers for the blind and visually impaired will read out this text and therefore make your image accessible.

What are alt tags and title tags?

This is a complete HTML image tag:

<img src=“image.jpg” alt=“image description” title=“image tooltip”>

The alt and title attributes of an image are commonly referred to as alt tag or alt text and title tag – even though they’re not technically tags. The alt text describes what’s on the image and the function of the image on the page. So if you are using an image as a button to buy product X, the alt text should say: “button to buy product X.”

The alt tag is used by screen readers, which are browsers used by blind and visually impaired people, to tell them what is on the image. The title attribute is shown as a tooltip when you hover over the element, so in the case of an image button, the image title could contain an extra call-to-action, like “Buy product X now for $19!”, although this is not a best practice.

Each image should have an alt text, not just for SEO purposes but also because blind and visually impaired people won’t otherwise know what the image is about, but a title attribute is not required. What’s more, most of the time it doesn’t make sense to add it. They are only available to mouse (or other pointing devices) users and the only one case where the title attribute is required for accessibility is on <iframe> and <frame> tags.

If the information conveyed by the title attribute is relevant, consider making it available somewhere else, in plain text and if it’s not relevant, consider removing the title attribute entirely.

But what if an image doesn’t have a purpose?

If you have images in your design that are purely there for design reasons, you’re doing it wrong, as those images should be in your CSS and not in your HTML. If you really can’t change these images, give them an empty alt attribute, like so:

<img src=”image.png” alt=””>

The empty alt attribute makes sure that screen readers skip over the image.

alt text and SEO

Google’s article about images has a heading “Use descriptive alt text”. This is no coincidence because Google places a relatively high value on alt text to determine not only what is on the image but also how it relates to the surrounding text. This is why, in our Yoast SEO content analysis, we have a feature that specifically checks that you have at least one image with an alt tag that contains your focus keyphrase.

Yoast SEO checks for images and their alt text in your posts:We’re definitely not saying you should spam your focus keyphrase into every alt tag. You need good, high quality, related images for your posts, where it makes sense to have the focus keyword in the alt text. Here’s Google’s advice on choosing a good alt text:

When choosing alt text, focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and is in context of the content of the page. Avoid filling alt attributes with keywords (keyword stuffing) as it results in a negative user experience and may cause your site to be seen as spam.

If your image is of a specific product, include both the full product name and the product ID in the alt tag so that it can be more easily found. In general: if a keyphrase could be useful for finding something that is on the image, include it in the alt tag if you can. Also, don’t forget to change the image file name to be something actually describing what’s on it.

alt and title attributes in WordPress

When you upload an image to WordPress, you can set a title and an alt attribute. By default, it uses the image filename in the title attribute, which, if you don’t enter an alt attribute, it copies to the alt attribute. While this is better than writing nothing, it’s pretty poor practice. You really need to take the time to craft a proper alt text for every image you add to a post — users and search engines will thank you for it. The interface makes it easy: click an image, hit the edit button, and you’ll see this:There’s no excuse for not doing this right, other than laziness. Your (image) SEO will truly benefit if you get these tiny details right. Visually challenged users will also like you all the more for it.

Read more about image SEO?

We have a very popular (and longer) article about Image SEO. That post goes into a ton of different ways to optimize images but is relatively lacking in detail when it comes to alt and title tags — think of this as an add-on to that article. I recommend reading it when you’re done here.

Read more: Optimizing images for SEO »

The post Image SEO: alt tag and title tag optimization appeared first on Yoast.

 

Read More

It’s Not Too Late To Localize Your Black Friday SEO Strategy

It’s Not Too Late To Localize Your Black Friday SEO Strategy

Black Friday and Cyber Monday are very important because, for most retailers, Black Friday is one of the biggest revenue generators of the year, but it’s surprising (except perhaps to most SEOs) how many of them neglect the basics. If you fall into that category, you still have a few days to try to turn that lemon into lemonade with some very simple updates to your site.

If you search for “black friday sale near me” you will likely see a Local Pack like this:

Notice how Google calls out that these sites mention black friday sales, deals, etc.

While most retailers likely already have a Black Friday Sale page and mention it on their home page, two out of the three sites above, Macy’s and Walmart, also mention Black Friday on their store location pages. For example:

Macy’s Black Friday:
https://l.macys.com/stoneridge-shopping-center-in-pleasanton-ca

Walmart Black Friday:
https://www.walmart.com/store/2161/pleasanton-ca/details 

While Kohl’s shows that you don’t need the location pages to be optimized for Black Friday to rank for these queries, updating your location pages to target Black Friday & Cyber Monday queries in both the title tag and in the body copy should likely improve your chances of appearing in localized Black Friday SERPs.

Even if your site is in code freeze, you (hopefully) should be able to make these updates and maybe next week you’ll find yourself with more than just some leftover turkey…

The post It’s Not Too Late To Localize Your Black Friday SEO Strategy appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

 

Read More

Avoid these site structure mistakes!

If you take your SEO – and users – seriously, you’ll be working on a kick-ass site structure. But, setting up a decent site structure can be difficult. Maintaining a solid site structure when your site is growing, is even harder. It’s easy to overlook something or make a mistake. In this post, I will share 5 common site structure mistakes people often make. Make sure to avoid all of these!

Don’t know where to start improving your site’s structure? Our brand new site structure training will help you! You can currently get the course for $129!

Get the Yoast Site structure training now »Only $149 $129 (ex VAT)
#1 Hiding your cornerstones

Your most important articles – your cornerstones – shouldn’t be hidden away. Cornerstone articles are the articles that you’re most proud of; that most clearly reflect the mission of your website. But some people forget to link to their most precious articles. That’s not good: if an article receives no or few internal links, search engines will find it less easily (as search engines follow links). Google will regard articles with few internal links as less important, and rank them accordingly.

Solution: link to your cornerstones

Ideally, you should be able to navigate to your cornerstone articles in one or two clicks from the homepage. Make sure they’re visible for your visitors, so people can easily find them.

Most importantly, link to those cornerstone articles. Don’t forget to mention them in your other blog posts! Our internal linking tool can help you to remember your cornerstones at all times.

#2 No breadcrumbs

Breadcrumbs are important for both the user experience and the SEO of your website. And yet, some people do not use them. Breadcrumbs show how the current page fits into the structure of your site, which allows your users to easily navigate your site. Breadcrumbs also allow search engines to determine the structure of your site without difficulty.

Solution: add those breadcrumbs

No excuses here! Just add those breadcrumbs. Yoast SEO can help you do that!

#3 HUGE categories

Categories should be relatively similar in size. But, without noticing, people can sometimes write about one subject way more often than about another. As a result, one category can slowly grow much larger than other categories. When one category is significantly larger than other ones, your site becomes unbalanced. You’ll have a hard time ranking with blog posts within a very large category.

Solution: split categories

If you’ve created a huge category, split it in two (or three). To keep categories from growing too large, check the size of your categories every now and then, especially if you write a lot of blog posts.

#4 Using too many tags

Don’t create too many tags. Some people want to make tags very specific. But if every post receives yet another new unique tag, you’re not adding structure, because posts don’t become grouped or linked. So, that’s pretty much useless.

Solution: use tags in moderation

Make sure that tags are used more than once or twice, and that tags group articles together that really belong together. You should also ensure that visitors can find the tags somewhere, preferably at the bottom of your article. Tags are useful for your visitors (and not just for Google) to read more about the same topic.

Read more: Using category and tag pages for SEO »

#5 Not visualizing your site structure

A final site structure mistake people make is forgetting to visualize their site’s structure. Visitors want to be able to find stuff on your website with ease. The main categories of your blog should all have a place in the menu on your homepage. But don’t create too many categories, or your menu will get cluttered. A menu should give a clear overview and reflect the structure of your site. Ideally, the menu helps visitors understand how your website is structured.

Solution: dive into UX

To create a good and clear overview of your site, you should dive into those aspects of User eXperience (UX) that could use improving on your site. Think about what your visitors are looking for and how you could help them to navigate through your website. You could, for instance, start with reading our blog posts about User eXperience (UX).

Fix your site structure mistakes!

Site structure is an essential aspect of an SEO strategy. The structure of your website shows Google what articles and pages are most important. With your site’s structure, you can influence which articles will rank highest in the search engines. So, it’s important to do it right. Especially if you’re adding a lot of content, the structure of your site could be changing quickly. Try to stay on top! And if your site’s structure is starting to look good, you can check for other common SEO mistakes as well.

Did we forget a site structure mistake that you encounter often? Please share it with us in the comments!

Keep reading: Site structure: the ultimate guide »

The post Avoid these site structure mistakes! appeared first on Yoast.

 

Read More

Ways to improve your link building

With the right strategy in place, link building can be a hugely effective way of building strong authority to increase longer term, sustainable organic visibility. Unfortunately, it’s very easy to find yourself returning to old, outdated methods. With so many different approaches to link building, it’s important to take a step back and look at the bigger picture to make the greatest impact.

There are a variety of link building tactics that don’t require a huge amount of resource or expense, so whether you’re working for an agency or in-house, dust away the cobwebs that are plaguing your strategy and step up. Below are just a few ways you can improve your approach to link building.

Don’t forget the basics

The first step is not to forget the basics, it’s so easy to forget these – particularly when you’re constantly being served with ‘inspirational content’ that promises to be the best and only method you’ll ever need. Revisiting old, unlinked brand mentions and fixing broken links can have a huge impact, particularly when from a strong authority site.

Immerse yourself in the brand

If you are working with an agency, having a ‘brand immersion’ or ‘discovery day’ can be incredibly useful if you approach it correctly. Start out with a full list of everything you’d want to know about a client, their product or brand – and pretty much interrogate them.

A client of ours recently said he’d been running his business for so long he assumed everyone knew everything he did about their business and products, when in fact they were probably only conveying 10% of their USPs digitally. If a client holds their cards close to their chest, a brand immersion day is an opportunity to get a grasp on who they are as a brand and how they work.

Even better, this is a chance to meet with their PR representatives and see how you can work together to make the best of each other’s work. There may be things you uncover that can be used as an asset, things that they would never consider telling you proactively. For example, new product launches or an existing relationship with a site that you’ve been trying to crack for months.

Future-proof your strategy

If only one thing is certain in life, it’s that Google will continually change its algorithm. Unfortunately, we can’t predict the future and may spend a long time securing a link, only for it to suddenly have no value.

Bend fate in your favor by thinking about the bigger picture, and developing strategies that are built solely on authenticity. Build good solid links from authoritative websites. Be real and genuine, provide value in your content and insights. Always drawback to why you’re building links, whether it’s for the brand awareness they could build, to the referrals they could bring.

Monitor your own backlink profile

Monitoring your own backlink profile is a vital part of growing it, and is surprisingly something a lot of link-builders put to the bottom of their to-do list. It’s essential to see which new sites are linking to you, so you can build that relationship and contribute more great content or insights.

Second to this, a lot of sites will link to you but won’t tell you, so it’s crucial to keep on top of this. It’s also vital to see which sites stop linking to you, as there will be opportunity to try and get that link back, or try and build a relationship with that site.

Relationships over anything else

Having a good relationship with a site or influencer is almost as important as how good a piece of content is. Follow them on Twitter, comment on their activity, be a familiar face and a name that is regularly in touch with pitches and ideas. You will find that they start coming directly to you for content and ideas – instead of the other way round.

Keep a close eye on the competition

Monitoring your competitors’ activity is a very cost and time-effective way of identifying new sites to contact, new content opportunities and outreach methods to use. Using competitor links for your own gains are always fruitful and don’t require a lot of time or creativity

To make things even easier, it’s something you can automate by setting up Google Alerts or backlink alerts and reports on tools like SEMRush. Competitors are always acquiring new links, so this is something that should be continually monitored.

Don’t be afraid of a nofollow link

As mentioned above, we should be focused on the bigger picture and future-proofing link building strategies. Sometimes this means getting a nofollow link or an unlinked citation now and again. Some sites have a policy, some sites do nofollow links automatically. If a citation is genuinely driving traffic and brand awareness, then the fact that it’s a nofollow or unlinked shouldn’t be troubling you too much.

Most link building tactics fall under the category of ‘quick-wins’, and the results can have a huge impact on your site’s authority and brand awareness. Fundamentally, staying wary of the latest link building developments is key, as an outdated strategy can distill your wider SEO strategy and hold back the success of your site.

 

Read More

How to monitor your competitors’ content marketing efforts

Can I tell you a secret? Around one quarter of my content marketing strategy is directly informed by what my competitors are doing. It’s immensely helpful to watch their tactics and see how they work in a real time or historic context. All the information I need is at my fingertips, and I didn’t have to gather, curate or analyze it myself.

Using competitive marketing monitoring is the perfect way to help you to see what your audience (many of whom overlap with those competitors, big or small) are responding to. That then gives insight into their needs.

Create your competitive analysis summary

What is it that your customers are looking for right now? Do they have any questions that they are burning to have answered? Maybe you have some information that gives a different perspective on an element of the industry they hadn’t considered.

These are ways in which you can frame your content marketing strategy, part of which is going to come from your own research and labor. The rest will be readily available by watching your competitors and the people they are managing to target.

It is also possible to do your own monitoring through a manual process of curating data.

First, you will need to curate data about your competitor’s content by auditing all of their content, from blogs and podcasts, to videos and social media. Make sure you search for forms of content like webinars, white papers, ebooks and case studies, too.

Once you have a good selection of competitor content, categorize it by Competitor and state what kind of content they make, how often they post it, how much is currently available and the quality. Be sure to notice the finer details, such as length of the most popular posts and the keyword density.

I’ve adapted one of SmartSheet’s templates for this purposes:

[Action items: Download your template here. Then adapt the first column based on what it is you’re going to analyze and monitor. If you plan to collaborate on it with your team, upload it to Google Docs and then use plugins to add it to your WordPress dashboard.]

From there, begin to look at individual pieces and find patterns. What do they do in their most popular pieces? What questions are they answering? What keywords are they targeting within those works?

I will usually make a spreadsheet with this info and update it every few months. It is good to go back and get a full picture of their strategy.

Automating the hunt with competitor monitoring tools

Tools to monitor mentions and writers: Buzzsumo, Google Alerts and Cyfe

Buzzsumo (+Buzzsumo Alerts)

Buzzsumo is one of my personal favorites. It gives you so much information, from web statistics to SEO and social media. It can get a little costly to use the pro version, but it is worth it for most people who want an extensive look at what is going on with other brands, or their own. To try them out you can go to their homepage and carry out a search.

They have all kinds of awesome filters and search operators that allow you to easily dig deeper into your competitors’ content tactics. Author search allows you to search content by a certain writer (e.g. your competitor’s lead blogger) to find all the articles they put outside of their own blog within a certain period of time:

In Buzzsumo Alerts I manage all my competitor monitoring. It works well because their search engine focuses on content, so I get alerts on the mentions that really matter (i.e. those from high traffic blogs and media outlets).

Google Alerts

Google Alerts is a simpler tool that can be used in conjunction with the others, and is an easy way to set alerts for any topic or brand. Create various alerts for different topics, some brand-related and others industry-specific. You can ask it to tell you once per week, day or with every mention.

Sadly, it will give you a fair amount of unrelated content so if you find you are getting too many unhelpful alerts, try specifying your keywords a little more directly.

There are more monitoring tools you can find here and more marketing tools listed here.

Cyfe

Cyfe (Disclaimer: this is my personal content client) is an affordable business dashboard that can be used to monitor almost anything you can think of, including your competitors and their content marketing tactics.

You can create your own custom widgets to form your dashboard and use pre-built ones that include:

  • Google Alerts (you can view and archive alerts using the widget)
  • Twitter search (you can monitor and archive your competitors’ Tweets – Tweets mentioning them as well as their branded hashtags)
  • Google Trends to spot when there’s a spike of interest in one of your competitors
  • RSS feeds (to easily combine your competitors’ RSS feeds in one).

Tools to monitor on-page tactics: SE Ranking

SE Ranking is the multi-feature SEO platform that can be used for many purposes, including competitive analysis. One of my favorite features is the Page Changes Monitoring, which sends email alerts any time a page is changed.

Add your competitors’ most important pages there. These may include:

  • Core product pages
  • Pages that rank for important and expensive search queries
  • Pages that attract most backlinks.

Any time your competitor is there to optimize or re-optimize one or many of their key landing pages, you’ll get an email alert and will be able to guess what is going on:

  • Have they discovered better keywords (i.e. those that are easier to rank for, those that convert better, etc.) to target?
  • Have they found a better way to get their pages featured in search?
  • Are they expanding/narrowing their product offering?

It’s also a good idea to monitor your competitors’:

  • Home page
  • YouTube channel (to get alerted once they add new videos)
  • Directory and local category pages (to look out for more competitors being added).

Tools to monitor email marketing tactics: Competitor and Owletter

Competitor.email

I have not personally used Competitor, but I have heard good things from a number of people who have. It views, tracks and analyzes competitor email marketing campaigns in a handy dashboard. The insights look amazing and the reports could be doubtlessly invaluable.

They have a white paper available that talks more about their tool and how you can apply it to your own monitoring and marketing campaign. You can also try a demo version to get an idea of how it works.

Owletter

For a long time, I have been signing up for competitor newsletters. It is a no-brainer way to see how they are managing their email marketing campaigns, but it can get a bit full in my inbox as a result. Owletter solves the issue by making a dashboard with competitor emails, storing, analyzing and reporting on them in one place.

Do you have a tool you think deserves to be on the list? Know a hot tip for monitoring competitor content? Let us know in the comments.

 

 

Read More