Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity

Posted by on May 4, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity

Axios news SEO playbook: Speed, authority and brevity

If you’ve ever read Axios, you’ll remember it. At least that’s what Ryan Kellett, VP of Audience at Axios hopes. 

A news article on Axios has a distinctive look. It’s all in the name of Smart Brevity. 

Smart Brevity: “Axios gets you smarter, faster on what matters.” That’s their mission. And they have five excellent guiding principles:

Audience firstElegant efficiencySmart, alwaysNo BS for saleExcellence, always

What about SEO? Axios had 24.8 million visitors in March, with 16% of traffic coming from organic search, according to Semrush’s Website Traffic Checker. (For comparative purposes, the New York Times is the largest news site, with more than a billion visitors in March – but Axios doesn’t cover nearly as many topics as the Times, CNN or other large news publishers.)

News is incredibly competitive. And Smart Brevity seems to go against what many consider to be SEO best practices. Namely, longer and more is better.

So how does Axios make SEO and Smart Brevity work together?

Go deeper. Here are highlights from my recent Q&A with Kellett. It has been edited for smartness and brevity.

SEO is an entry point. For Axios, it’s audience first, always. Kellett said Axios delivers trustworthy breaking news and insights in the smartest and most efficient way possible. So what role does SEO play at Axios? Here’s what Kellett said:

“The goal with our SEO discipline is to introduce readers to our fact-based coverage and Smart Brevity in a way that earns their time, attention and trust. You’ll notice Axios is distinctive not just in the quality of what we produce but in the actual look of the written article. Have you seen our bullet points and bold before? It’s memorable.”“If we can convince a search reader to identify Smart Brevity wherever they next see Axios (say, in a social feed, Apple News or a forwarded email from a friend), chances are good they will eventually convert to being a subscriber to one of our many amazing newsletters.”“Sure, we’d love it if they signed up for a newsletter on the spot after coming over from search, but search mostly is a top-of-funnel entry point for readers who may be coming to us for the first or second time.”

One exception: Axios Pro, which is a specialized news subscription. Pro readers coming from search may be looking for a specific company or individual that Axios is covering, Kellett said. 

Smart Brevity is core to Axios. It’s hard to stand out in a crowded news space. Making content longer would go against everything Axios is trying to do. Kellett believes shorter is better. And that most news articles across the web could benefit from being shorter and more readable:

“Everyone focuses on the brevity part. But it’s brevity in combination with making the reader smarter that drives everything we do.”“We most certainly get dinged for this in search rankings, but we have to be comfortable knowing that the reader will appreciate Smart Brevity when they encounter us, recognize it in the wild, and eventually seek it out from us. We obviously can’t abide if our stories don’t index or rank at all, so we look to avoid that. But otherwise, we have broad shoulders and navigate the best we can.”

Why Axioms matter. As Kellett noted, Axios articles have a distinctive look. And this look has a name internally at Axios: axioms. The style can be traced back to Axios co-founder Mike Allen’s flagship newsletter, Axios AM. Kellett said axioms have debatable SEO value – but undeniable value for their audience:

“How many articles have you read where the most important point and the whole reason you should care is buried in paragraph seven or ten? We use the ‘Why it matters’ axiom so you, the reader, can quickly identify why the story is relevant in the first place.”“The SEO part of axioms may be quite subtle. I could make the argument we’re giving a consistent pattern for search engines to identify and parse our content. But I’m unsure how much it practically helps us rank at the moment. If you have creative ideas on how to extend axioms for search, my DMs on Twitter are open until Elon Musk shuts me down.”

“Start from a good place and optimize from there.” Their homegrown CMS defaults help nudge reporters to write good URLs and SEO-friendly headlines. Axios doesn’t have a separate search team outside of its larger audience team, so it relies on its newsdesk, copy editing and audience teams every day, Kellett said.

Headlines are one area Axios regularly tries to improve to enhance performance. Their teams do this manually, by looking at performance and going into the CMS. Axios does not use any kind of automated testing of headlines. 

5 Axios SEO best practices

1. SEO education. Kellett said this is ongoing and an important part of keeping up with changes to SEO.

“I am always on the lookout for myths and bad habits to correct. And Director of Audience Neal Rothschild writes a weekly email (produced using our own Axios HQ software) to the newsroom that reviews examples and changes in best practices, which is incredibly helpful to get the word out internally quickly.”

2. Authority and depth. Axios is not They don’t cover every single topic under the sun. Kellett said Axios focuses on reinforcing its areas of authority:

“Readers may see some of the breaking news coverage we publish, but we also have amazingly, deep coverage on narrow topics like space, sports betting, electric vehicles, China, privacy, immigration, to name a few. All of these are forward-looking areas that will only be more important to the country as time goes on.”“And that depth can come into play down the road. As an example, Axios had more authority than you’d think when the war in Ukraine started because we had covered Volodymyr Zelensky, including this amazing interview we did with him for Axios on HBO in 2021. Using that expertise furthers both pure journalistic and SEO goals.”

3. Explainers.

“I’ve loved working on our explainers, which really help us step back and give regular readers a chance to access a storyline with Smart Brevity. Axios Explains Ukraine is a great example of where we are headed with this.”

4. Speed. For breaking news, Axios is fast. Really fast. 

“Being among the first URLs on the web on a big story helps us rank as news develops. We’ll often get beat when the big publishers come knocking but generally staying fast, pointing to our expertise through internal links, and peeling off really great story angles gives us a fighting chance.”

5. Pillar and evergreen content. Axios publishes more than just short articles.

“We have a set of Deep Dives that cover topics in-depth and from a bunch of different angles. Those stories have potential to be great pillar content and evergreen too with some continued editorial and technical SEO work.”

Breaking Axios SEO news: Axios has just hired their first Director of SEO: Priyanka Vora, formerly Quartz’s Audience Editor. She will help build out Axios’ SEO practice further.

“I would also keep an eye on the Axios job listings page as the company is in growth mode across a number of areas, both in and around our newsroom.”

Axios’ SEO tool of choice. “We’re a Semrush shop for now,” Kellett said. Though he is personally partial to exporting GSC data to Google Sheets.

Most important SEO KPIs or metrics? Raw referrals matter to Kellett most. Also, the percentage of overall referred traffic from search.

“Though, of course, I will also celebrate anyone in our newsroom who sends me a screenshot of when Axios is in Top Stories carousel,” Kellett said.

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Google to use Customer Match lists for Smart Bidding, Optimized Targeting

Posted by on May 4, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google to use Customer Match lists for Smart Bidding, Optimized Targeting

Google to use Customer Match lists for Smart Bidding, Optimized Targeting

Customer Match lists will be leveraged more within Google Ads, according to an email sent to advertisers this week.

These lists will soon be eligible to be used within an account to help aid Smart Bidding and/or Optimized Targeting.

This is a shift from how Customer Match lists are applied today. Advertisers currently need to manually apply these to a campaign.

Customer Match lists won’t be used with manual bidding strategies. However, advertisers may still use bid modifiers manually to adjust bids.

When this is happening. Starting in Q2. The tentative timelines for the rollout of Customer Match lists in smart bidding are:

Advertisers can opt out. If you don’t want Customer Match lists to be applied to Smart Bidding or Optimized Targeting, you’ll have the ability to opt out at the ad account level. To opt out, go to Account settings then choose Customer Match and uncheck the Use all Customer Match lists in Smart Bidding or Optimized Targeting box.

You may also remove lists that you don’t want to include in this targeting.

Note: Google Ads Managers can’t opt out of all campaigns. This must be done at the individual account level.

Why we care. More signals for automation is a good thing. The ability to curate what lists are or aren’t utilized should be a boon for advertisers. Because you will need to opt out, make sure to take time for each account to ensure that the proper Customer Match lists are in play.

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BlueConic named a leader in IDC MarketScape CDP Vendor Assessment

Posted by on May 4, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on BlueConic named a leader in IDC MarketScape CDP Vendor Assessment

BlueConic named a leader in IDC MarketScape CDP Vendor Assessment

A combination of forces is putting intense pressure on companies to transform their business models. Deprecating third-party cookies, dynamic privacy environments, and rapidly changing consumer behaviors are accelerating the need to seek out new sources of revenue, data and/or competitive advantage.

A customer data platform (CDP) like BlueConic has become an essential technology in enabling a company’s broader transformation and the growth initiatives tied to it. By putting unified, privacy-compliant first-party data in the hands of marketing, customer experience, analytics, and other growth-focused users, companies can improve how they engage with customers, conduct modeling and analytics, build segments, and more — while making the underlying business processes behind those efforts more efficient.

BlueConic’s commitment to helping companies transform customer relationships and drive business growth was recently recognized when it was named a Leader in the IDC MarketScape: Worldwide Retail and CPG Customer Data Platform Software Providers 2022 Vendor Assessment (Doc # US47506221, April 2022).

The assessment highlighted BlueConic’s strengths in several areas, including its efficient integration time and ability to help companies transform their business model to create new revenue streams. According to the report, “The platform’s core capabilities support retail and CPG companies in gaining greater control over first-party data to enhance customer experience, time to market, and operational efficiencies as well as build first-party data assets for revenue growth.”

The report also recognized BlueConic’s advanced customer lifecycle orchestration capabilities, noting, ”BlueConic supports retail and CPG companies’ marketing programs in the acquisition, conversion, engagement and retention customer lifecycle phases. Unified profiles, including updated transactions and real-time behavioral and predictive scores, are used as the basis of lifecycle orchestration, helping retailers and CPG companies create relevant messaging at every point of the customer lifecycle to enhance customer experience.”

The IDC MarketScape suggests considering BlueConic when, “You are looking for a pure-play CDP provider for non-technical users and with solid delivery capabilities, for efficient setup and integration time, and flexibility to support growing use cases. Customers in medium-sized to large enterprises without granular industry-specific capability requirements and that need support primarily in the US and Europe should consider BlueConic a strong choice.“

This is the latest of several industry recognitions of BlueConic’s leadership within the CDP space. In 2021, BlueConic was named “Best Customer Data Platform” in the MarTech Breakthrough Awards and received a 2021 Silver Stevie Award for “Most Innovative Tech Company.”

To read more about the evaluation and why BlueConic was named a Leader, download an excerpt here.

IDC MarketScape vendor analysis model is designed to provide an overview of the competitive fitness of ICT suppliers in a given market. The research methodology utilizes a rigorous scoring methodology based on both qualitative and quantitative criteria that results in a single graphical illustration of each vendor’s position within a given market. The Capabilities score measures vendor product, go-to-market and business execution in the short-term. The Strategy score measures alignment of vendor strategies with customer requirements in a 3-5-year timeframe. Vendor market share is represented by the size of the icons.

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Google blocked 3.4 billion ads, suspended 5.6 million accounts in 2021

Posted by on May 4, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google blocked 3.4 billion ads, suspended 5.6 million accounts in 2021

Google blocked 3.4 billion ads, suspended 5.6 million accounts in 2021

Google blocked or removed 3.4 billion ads in 2021, according to its annual Ads Safety Report, which was released today. Google also tripled the number of account-level suspensions for advertisers in the last year.

3.4 billion ads blocked or removed. The top three categories of bad ads were abusing the ad network (652 million); adult content (287 million); and trademark (137 million). Here’s the full chart from Google:

How does 2021 compare to prior years?

In 2020, 3.1 billion ads were blocked or removed. In 2019, that number was 2.7 billion.

Earlier this year, Microsoft reported it had removed more than 3 billion ads in 2021. That means Google and Microsoft combined to remove nearly 6.5 billion ads last year. 

5.7 billion ads restricted. Certain ads can’t be shown to every searcher in every location. These ads all fell into the category of either legally or culturally sensitive. By the numbers:

Trademarks: 1.4 billionOther restricted businesses: 511.4 millionFinancial services: 223 millionHealthcare and medicines: 219.3 millionAlcohol: 128.5 millionAdult content: 126.1 millionGambling and games: 108.1 millionLegal requirements: 105.7 millionCopyrights: 68.6 million

5.6 million advertiser accounts suspended. Google reported that bad actors operated “with more sophistication and at a greater scale, using a variety of tactics to evade our detection.”

One challenging example: bad actors created thousands of accounts simultaneously and used techniques like cloaking and text manipulation to show Google’s reviewers and systems different ad content than what a user would see. 

Publisher enforcement. Google also blocked or restricted ads from serving on 1.7 billion publisher pages, and took broader site-level enforcement action on about 63,000 publisher sites in 2021. 

The top three categories Google took action: sexual content, dangerous or derogatory, and weapons promotion and sales. Here’s a chart:

Ongoing fight against COVID misinformation and abuse. Google blocked ads from running on more than 500,000 pages for violating its policies against harmful health claims related to COVID-19.

This included claims related to vaccines and testing, as well as price-gouging on critical supplies (e.g., masks). Google has blocked more than 106 million COVID-related ads since the pandemic began.

2022 Ukraine ad removals. Although this report covered 2021, Google provided an update on how many ads related to the war in Ukraine have been blocked so far in 2022: 8 million.

Earlier this year, Google paused ads from showing in Russia and ads from Russian-based advertisers.The company added that it has removed ads from more than 60 state-funded media sites from its platforms.

Why we care. These “bad actors” are bad for searchers, advertisers and publishers. This big picture view is a great (and also somewhat shocking) reminder of how many threats there are for legitimate advertisers who want to reach their target audience. This also provides more context to why Google is pushing hard for advertiser verification and instituting things like its three-strikes policy

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Off-page Seo: What Is It & How Can You Take Advantage of It

Posted by on May 3, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Off-page Seo: What Is It & How Can You Take Advantage of It

Off-page Seo: What Is It & How Can You Take Advantage of It

As smart bloggers and content marketers, we usually start with on-page SEO.

However, one of the most important Google ranking factors isn’t found on your page at all. Rather, it’s backlinks from other websites pointing towards your site. The top results on Google have an average of 3.8x more backlinks than the results that appear in positions 2-10.

Off-page search engine optimization is not just about building backlinks though.

It goes deeper than that. For example, brand mentions (your site URL or brand name mentioned on another site without a hyperlink) are an integral aspect of off-page search signals.

Off-page SEO simply tells Google what others think about your site. For example, if you’ve got a lot of valuable links pointing to your pages, search engines will assume that you’ve got great content that provides value for users.

People only cite, reference, and share content they like. Even in a brick-and-mortar business, if your product is helpful and affordable, you’ll get a lot of word-of-mouth referrals from your current customers.

If you’re ready, I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about off-page search optimization.

What is Off-Page SEO?

“Off-Page SEO” refers to all of the activities that you and others do away from your website to raise the ranking of a page with search engines.

Though many people associate off-page SEO with link building, it goes beyond that. Many activities that don’t result in a standard link on other sites are important for off-page optimization.

On-page search engine optimization happens within the site, while off-page SEO happens outside the site. If you write a guest post for another blog or leave a comment, you’re doing off-page site promotion.

Preparing a Site/Page for Link Building

Links are still very important to Google. In fact, it’s almost impossible for Google to determine the value of any web page if there are no links pointing to it, no matter how useful, fresh, or in-depth the page content might be.

Site owners are often tempted to skip initial preparations for link building. But it’s important that you give this top priority because preparing a site will ensure that you’re mindful of the links you sent to them.

So how do you ensure that your web pages are ready for link building?

1. Lay Out Your Internal Pages

Optimized internal pages can make a huge difference in your overall rankings. This includes interlinking your pages using random keywords (with more emphasis on your brand name).

According to Brian Dean’s famous post “Google’s 200 Ranking Factors,” the number of internal links to a page indicates its importance relative to other pages on the site.

Be careful when you do this, however. In a recent study, Semrush found 42.5 percent of websites have broken internal links.

To optimize internal linking, you should have silo pages that connect to your category pages and supporting pages (posts). That way, when you send a link to the homepage, the juice flows through your category and supporting pages, thus boosting your search performance.

Smart search engine optimization professionals don’t just throw links at a page. Instead, they lay out the pages so that each link will pass SEO juice to other interconnected pages.

None of your internal pages should stand alone. Make each page an integral part of your site and include seamless navigation. This is essential to your site users and your appeal to search engines.

Ideally, pages addressing the same or related topics should be linked together in order to provide a rich experience for the users.

In search engine optimization, internal pages are often overlooked. Most SEOs and site owners don’t realize that much of a site’s “SEO value” flows from how the internal pages are structured.

This is usually made possible when you have links from high-value pages on the same site. Silo your pages properly if you want healthy link equity between your internal pages.

Remember that it’s no longer only about the number of links you have. The quality of links to your internal pages is as important as the structure of the pages themselves.

In fact, sometimes reducing the number of links pointing to your internal pages could help your SEO efforts.

For example, CMS North America, a manufacturer of 5 axis CNC machines, had an established website with 170 indexed pages. Yet, the site wasn’t generating substantial search traffic.

By auditing their site using the Internal Link Juice Tool, they discovered that the site had 168 links pointing to the homepage.

This was more than best practices called for, which is especially a problem when the SEO juice from those links doesn’t flow to internal pages.

They initiated a new navigation structure and removed some of the links pointing to silo pages, while retaining the links that supported usability (such as “contact us” and support pages). In all, 70 links were removed.

After 6 weeks of re-structuring the internal pages’ links and the homepage, most of the fresh pages and links had been re-crawled by Google’s spider.

The company saw improved rankings for 18 of the 21 keyword phrases the site was targeting. Keywords that were already ranking on page 2 improved an average of 3.7 ranking slots.

2. Do Basic On-page SEO First

On-page search engine optimization is important. After all, you don’t want Google to view your site as a neglected portal.

I’m sure you’ve heard enough about meta tags and keyword density. Yet, there are other important on-page SEO factors that matter and that are often overlooked. This on-page SEO infographic from Backlinko lays many of them out for you:

One of the reasons many authority sites no longer dominate the top organic listings is because they’ve neglected basic on-page SEO.

You want to link to your internal pages using the keyword that best defines that page.

When you create a landing page that you would like Google to rank highly, you should pass more SEO juice to that page from your important pages.

If the search engine giant is seeing a lot of pages on your site for a particular search term and is unsure of which one to rank higher than the others, you’ll struggle to increase your search engine rank no matter how much value you provide.

And that’s what the basic on-page search engine optimization process is all about. There’s no magic secret formula. Just ensure that your pages are well structured, your keywords specified, and signals are being sent to Google in the right manner. This will work towards improving your search engine ranking.

Here’s an example: Daily Mail Online, a popular online magazine that ranks highly for several keywords, failed to dominate the top listings during the 2014 World Cup. Other brands took their spots:

The online magazine missed out on this opportunity to attract thousands, if not millions of search users, given the sheer interest in the tournament (with a spike peak around June 18).

With several brands dominating Google’s first page rankings, Daily Mail Online missed out on the term “World Cup.” Each new article published about the World Cup overlapped with Daily Mail’s landing page, which they desperately wanted to rank better than other pages (shown in pink).

What’s happening here is the search engine giant is seeing lots of pages from Daily Mail Online for this search term, and is unsure of which one should be ranked highest.

This has a lot to do with internal page linking—or the lack thereof.

To capitalize on the trending search term at the time, Mail Online could have linked back to the hub page from every internal page (especially those related to ‘Word Cup’).

This would have been a strong signal to Google that this page was significant and perhaps useful to users.

Sadly, Daily Mail had lots of opportunities to link back to the hub from relevant blog posts and pages, but they didn’t do so.

3. Pick Thematic Keywords, Even for Off-page SEO

Although links are still the icing on the cake, the upshot to SEO that controls every other factor is the keywords you choose.

Keywords are the fundamental building blocks for your content campaign. In the diagram below, the more accurate view of on-page SEO shows that use of related keywords and primary keywords account for 7.5% and 40% of on-page SEO, respectively.

But not all keywords are created equal. If you want to improve the odds of driving organic traffic to your site, then you need to pick thematic keywords.

The word “thematic” simply means having or relating to a particular subject.

So when you’re picking keywords, focus on those that are related to a particular subject. You can’t afford to spread your net too wide. Here’s an example:

Let’s assume that your business delivers WordPress theme customization services. It’s important to find the right related keywords that you can create content around.

Simply plug your main keyword (WordPress theme customization) into the Ubersuggest search bar. Click the “Search” button. Simply plug your main keyword (WordPress theme customization) into the Ubersuggest search bar. Click the “Search” button. Here are thematic keyword phrases that populate in the results:

Remember that you’re in business to help others. By knowing the words, phrases, and search terms they use in search, you can more easily tailor your content to meet their needs.

You can supercharge the power of your keywords by switching toward branded keywords. In other words, instead of targeting “SEO tips,” you could niche down and include your brand or domain name (e.g., Moz SEO tips, Neil Patel SEO).

Domain or brand-oriented keywords usually bring up several results from the same site in Google search results.

Of course, you have to create useful, high-quality content. When you see several of your pages ranking in Google search results, it doesn’t matter what positions those pages hold – you can pass more link juice to them through any of the link building strategies below:

Branded thematic keywords will give you an edge over the competition and serves as a leading SEO technique. No matter how many top brands are dominating the top 10 organic listings, you can find yourself driving motivated visitors to your site.

When you’re targeting keywords in on-page optimization, don’t just keep reiterating those primary keywords over and over.

Instead, use synonyms or latent semantic indexing (LSI) terms. LSI keywords have one purpose – to help search engine spiders extract meaning from normal keywords (especially those with more than one meaning). For example, Apple, the computer company vs. apple, the fruit.

Ideally, if you were writing content on a subject related to Apple, the company, Google expects you to mention relevant words and terms that are common to the organization.

Stay away from mentioning your primary keyword (e.g., cheap airline tickets) over and over in your content. Google will view that as over-optimization and may well penalize you.

You might be wondering how you can find these synonymous words. The good news is that there are several tools that you can use to research LSI search terms. Simply follow these steps:

Step #1: Go to Ubersuggest and input your primary keyword (e.g., cheap airline tickets). Click the “Search” button.

Step #2: Click “Keyword Ideas” in the left sidebar.

Step #3: Review the Keyword Ideas

Step #4: Choose Keywords

Choose keyword phrases with high search volume, a low SEO difficulty score, and high CPC.

The final step is getting a better idea of what you need to do to outrank your page one competitors.

In summary:

On-page keyword optimization all boils down to researching, choosing, and integrating keywords that you can easily rank for. You don’t want to compete with top brands with higher and stronger domain authority.

That’s why you should also focus on long-tail keywords. You already know how to find and use them to improve your search rankings.

How to Get Relevant, Authority, and User-Friendly Backlinks

In January of 2022, Google processed 12.1 million search queries. Think of all the potential traffic your website could receive if you could capture just a tiny fraction of those searches. How?

As SEOs, content marketers, and bloggers know, backlinks are currently the most important off-page SEO factor.

That’s because natural links from authoritative and relevant websites act as an independent “vote of confidence,” which helps search engines trust your website more.

When Google’s search spider crawls your site, looking for fresh content (sometimes depending on your sitemap settings), it indexes your new pages and prepares them for search users.

After your pages are added into its vast index to be returned in search results when relevant search queries are triggered, Google uses several algorithm factors to determine where those pages will rank.

In the SEO world, we refer to these as Google’s ranking factors. They’re the determining factors for organic web page rankings. Fortunately, you don’t have to memorize all of the ranking factors. This is great news since there are literally hundreds of them.

But the most important factor as far as SEO is concerned is links. Well, not the links per se, but the impact of such links. Some other off-page factors are:

In the past, if I generated 100 links to my page, and you had only 20 links, Google would view my web page as more authoritative and valuable than yours.

Link quality wasn’t all that important at the time.

But today, links are perceived differently. A lot of questions arise when Google sees a link pointing to your web page. For example:

Where does the link come from?What prompted the site owner to link to you?What is the link quality? (I.e., is it from an authority site?)How fresh is your link?How natural is your link profile?And so on…

When building links to your site or internal pages (which is more ideal in today’s SEO), focus on relevant, authority, and SEO-friendly links.

Ways to Get Valuable Links to Improve Off-page SEO

There are a variety of approaches when it comes to getting backlinks. Here are some of the most common and effective.

1. Broken Link Building

Even though I’ve written tons of posts on broken link building, sadly, not many people do it. Per Semrush, 40.5 percent of websites contain broken links, and you can leverage that by asking websites with broken links to replace the links with valid ones to your site.

Broken link building is easy, faster than guest blogging, and could provide a substantial avenue to earn the right links.

When I launched my nutrition blog, I leveraged broken link building tactics and generated a handful of natural links from trusted sites through that strategy.

The opportunities are just endless when you capitalize on dead links. Because in reality, the internet is broken…literally.

Lots of links that you see on authority blogs are actually dead. As hosting expires, sites are messed up during file transfer or migration or typing mistakes happen and links are bound to break. They lead to 404 error pages, which don’t appeal to users (more on this later).

All these broken links are to your advantage.

There is nothing new or fancy about fixing broken links. This link building tactic will never become outdated or fizzle out, because the internet will always have new broken links that need to be fixed.

If you have too many dead links on your blog, and are wondering whether your search performance will be affected, you don’t have to worry. According to the Official Google Webmaster Central blog, and confirmed by Semrush in 2021, 404 error pages or broken pages won’t affect your site’s ranking.

404s are a perfectly normal part of the web; the Internet is always changing, new content is born, old content dies, and when it dies it (ideally) returns a 404 HTTP response code. Search engines are aware of this; we have 404 errors on our own sites, as you can see above, and we find them all over the web. In fact, we actually prefer that, when you get rid of a page on your site, you make sure that it returns a proper 404 or 410 response code (rather than a “soft 404”).

Although Google likes to see a proper 404 error page, do you think it’s a good experience for the user? Absolutely not.

When people click on your web page from an organic results page, they’re not expecting to see a 404 error page, but rather want to see the exact content they searched for.

Imagine how frustrated people will be when they searched for “best digital wrist watch,” only to click on the first result and see an error page.

A few of these searchers will likely mark the site address and vow never to visit again. Obviously, the user experience was poor. And there’s nothing that drives people away more than a poor user experience, which is a natural indication of your overall customer service to the searcher.

The result of this can be disastrous. According to Sacramento Design Network, “85% of your business could be lost due to poor customer service.”

In a nutshell, broken link building breaks down to four simple steps: conduct a backlink analysis on a relevant website, find a broken link, contact the owner, and let them know about their dead links.

Since you’re helping the site owner locate non-functional links, they might do you the favor of including a link to your website. Ideally, offer a replacement link when appropriate.

If I linked to a particular web page from my Neil Patel blog and found the links to be dead, I could easily replace it with another relevant and high-value resource. If that high-value page belongs to you, that’s both SEO juice and a valuable link.

Trust me, you can get it right the first time, and build the right links to your web pages using this tactic. You’ll find these resources really helpful:

How to Build 100 Quality Links Without Writing Fresh Content13 Efficient Link Building Strategies for Busy MarketersThe Black Belt Broken Link BuildingHow to Use the Broken Link Strategy to Get Links

Create and Distribute Compelling Infographics

There’s no doubt about it: infographics still work and will likely continue to work in the future.

As of 2020, infographics were the fourth most commonly produced form of content marketing media.

While infographics can still yield impressive results, you have to understand that not all infographics will get the job done.

You’ll most likely agree that my infographics are top-notch. In fact, I spend up to $1,000 to have a single infographic designed.

However, if you’re on a tight budget or just starting out, you may not be able to afford $1000 infographics.

Luckily, you can use sites like Dribbble to find professional infographic designers for half the price. If you decide to use, you’ll get a better design – but their service costs more.

A lot of content marketers use infographics to attract the right audience, acquire authority links, and grow their email list.

For instance, Ken Lyons shared a WordStream case study in which they created a useful infographic that helped a lot of people. Interestingly, the infographic earned a link from CNN and drove loads of traffic to its site.

Ann Smarty, a prolific content marketer, created a useful infographic that generated 10 powerful links in just 2 days.

Whether you’re a B2B or B2C company, you can use visual marketing to drive engagement with your target audience and earn editorial links from the right sites.

I love creating and distributing compelling infographics. Like any compelling content, when you give it sufficient initial promotion, an infographic has a greater chance of going viral.

The good news is that you’ll continually generate organic traffic to your blog when people start to share your infographics.

In my experience, I’ve found that infographics generate 37.5% more backlinks than a typical blog post. This makes creating infographics an irresistible link building tactic that you should definitely try.

If you’re ready to create and distribute infographics to improve your off-page SEO efforts, the resources below will be helpful:

How to Create and Promote Infographics to Drive 5,000 Visitors Per WeekThe Complete Guide to Creating Visual Content (Even if You Aren’t a Graphic Designer)

Of course, there are other ways to build quality links to your web pages. For example, you can leverage blogger outreach to build relationships that will yield better links, and use social media outreach to claim unlinked brand names from relevant blogs.

How to Avoid Google Penalties for Unnatural Links

Backlinks are really important, especially if you want to sustain your site’s ranking position. But we can’t talk about off-page SEO without mentioning Google penalties and unnatural links.

The truth is that links can significantly affect search performance – for better or worse.

If you ask pro bloggers which factor they think has the strongest impact on search rankings, many of them will say “links.”

Top brands, small businesses, and blog owners are also into link building. Data from MarketingSherpa’s 2012 Search Marketing Benchmark Report found that 59% of companies have done external link building.

You want to avoid Google’s penalty as much as possible, because recovering from a penalty can be daunting and very difficult.

Many things that used to interest Google, such as links from high PR sites, no longer have that strong impact.

Google is now more concerned about user optimization, user intent, and valuable content. The focus is no longer on the search phrases people use, but their purpose for using that particular phrase.

A full backlink analysis can help you pinpoint which links are good or bad for your site – and how to stay off Google’s penalty radar.

The search engine giant hasn’t yet clued the SEO community into any step-by-step process for staying safe. However, there are things you can do to ensure that your site isn’t penalized.

These best practices have helped me generate over 700,000 blog visitors to QuickSprout without experiencing any penalty due to unnatural links and over-optimized anchor text.

1. Create Content and Optimize for the Users First

You probably already know what this means. The question is, are you putting your users first?

To truly put users first, forget about mentioning your keywords several times in the post, especially if it doesn’t flow naturally.

Putting users first goes beyond keyword usage. Sometimes you may not outright target any keyword, yet somehow your content looks too promotional.

Users don’t like to be sold. Instead, help them by creating valuable content. As much as you can, integrate data into your blog posts, and use visuals to convey your message clearer.

If you help them with great content, they’ll want to know more about you.

2. Diversify Anchor Texts

After conducting a full backlink analysis and seeing where your links are coming from, you should next work to diversify your anchor texts.

Diversifying your anchor texts simply means using different keyword phrases, brand names, and generic terms so that Google will view your links as natural and not manipulative.

After all, if you didn’t do anything fishy to get the links, then your links shouldn’t all have exact match keywords in their anchor texts, right?

When diversifying your anchor texts, make relevance your top priority. Google will analyze your link based on the topic of the referring page and how thematically consistent it is with yours.

You know that it’s impossible to control where you get links from. Anyone can share your content and link to it however they please.

Since you can’t control your anchor texts or where the links come from, you should use your brand name as anchor text more often.

If you’re a social media expert and you’re interviewed by a car blog, you should use your brand name as anchor text.

That’s because these topics — cars & social media — aren’t thematic or closely related and Google uses the anchor text of external links to the page to judge the quality, relevance and usefulness of any link gotten from there.

Last, but not least, make sure that you get links from high-quality sites, disavow low-quality links from thin pages, blend nofollow links into your link profile to make it natural, and publish fresh content to increase brand mentions.

Off-Page SEO Conclusion

What is off-page SEO?

Off-page SEO includes any signals that tells Google and other search engines that your site is valuable to your audience. Inbound links are one example.

What are some off-page SEO elements?

Links, reviews, company information, video, social media profiles and audiences

How does on-page SEO relate to off-page SEO?

By optimizing your on-page SEO, you increase the value of the page, thus making it more desirable to link to.

How do keywords affect off-page SEO linking?

There are many attributes that go into the value of keywords in off-page SEO links, including user experience, use of the primary keyword, and value/depth of the content surrounding related keywords and topics.

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Off-Page SEO Conclusion

It’s high time to get off your site and to network with other industry bloggers and site owners if you want to increase boost your search engine ranking.

Understand that Google Penguin and other algorithm updates weren’t primarily targeting search results that didn’t have tons of incoming links.

You should always use white-hat link building strategies to improve your off-page optimization.

However, you need to prepare your website to receive authority link juice as you work hard to build and earn links. Make sure your site is easily navigable.

When it comes to creating a better content experience, it all boils down to answering user’s questions. Start by identifying the questions asked by your ideal customers. You can find these questions on Quora, Twitter, and other social networks. Creating high-quality content is a top SEO technique that cannot be overemphasized.

Above all, search engine optimization is not a hit-and-run marketing approach. You should approach it knowing that the efforts you put in today will pay off in the future, ultimately increasing your search engine rank and leading you to the success you desire.

Most of all, be consistent and patient and you’ll gradually climb to the top of Google’s results.

Which other off-page SEO best practices do you think are important for improving organic search rankings? What are your thoughts on the intersection between SEO and your social network presence?

Twitter Circle: Limit who can view your tweets

Posted by on May 3, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Twitter Circle: Limit who can view your tweets

Now testing: Twitter Circle.

This new Twitter feature, which is now available for “some” Twitter users, lets you limit who can see your tweets. It can be up to 150 people.

Here’s the announcement shared today by @TwitterSafety

Some Tweets are for everyone & others are just for people you’ve picked.

We’re now testing Twitter Circle, which lets you add up to 150 people who can see your Tweets when you want to share with a smaller crowd.

Some of you can create your own Twitter Circle beginning today!

— Twitter Safety (@TwitterSafety) May 3, 2022

While generally, the idea on Twitter is to reach as many people as possible, there are instances when you may not want this to happen.

What we know. Little so far, such as when this will roll out to more people. But here’s what we know about Twitter Circle so far:

Add people: Choose up to 150 users to include in your Twitter Circle.  Tweet to only those people: Only people in your Twitter Circle can view and reply to your tweets.Edit your Circle: Twitter users won’t be notified if you remove them from your Circle.

If you reply to a tweet that someone sent to a Circle, other members of the Circle can see and react to your response.

Why we care. As responses to our poll on Elon Musk buying Twitter confirmed, marketers view Twitter as toxic. The word cesspool wouldn’t be unfair. I’ve heard from many people in the search industry that they don’t bother tweeting anymore for fear of being attacked. Many marketers have quit Twitter in recent months/years because of its toxic nature. 

The ability to limit tweets could have some interesting use cases for brands and businesses (think: exclusive content), but it’s hardly a game-changer. Will it win back former users? Doubtful.

But if you’ve stuck with Twitter this long, and want to avoid some of the toxic elements that come with tweeting to everyone, you may find this to be a welcome feature. 

Having Google+ flashbacks? If so, you aren’t alone. If you remember, a key feature of Google’s failed social network was Circles – the ability to drag and drop your contacts into various circles (e.g., family, friends, work).  

You could then specify who saw the content you shared. So you could basically show entirely different content to different audiences – or the same content to everyone. 

Sound like Facebook’s lists and groups? Exactly. Google+ Circles wasn’t even “new” then, other than in name.

Twitter Circle is basically just a slightly different form of the same function that is offered on other platforms (e.g., Close Friends on Instagram), as well as its own (protected tweets). And unlike with Google+, you only get one circle.

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Yoast SEO 18.7: Schema improvements

Posted by on May 3, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Yoast SEO 18.7: Schema improvements

Continuing our run of maintenance releases, we bring you Yoast SEO 18.7. We’re fixing several bugs in this release and adding a couple of enhancements. There are quite a few improvements to our Schema structured data implementation this time. Read on to find out what’s new in Yoast SEO 18.7.

Structured data is where it’s at

Structured data is an essential piece of today’s SEO puzzle. It helps you talk directly to search engines in a language it understands. Schema enables you to describe all those different parts and entities and how all of these parts connect. When using structured data in Yoast SEO, you are rolling out the red carpet for search engines, which might increase the chance of getting rich results.

The Schema structured data implementation in Yoast SEO is one of the best. We’re building a full graph for your site and connecting everything in an easy-to-digest manner. We’re also continuing to build on our structured data foundation.

In Yoast SEO 18.7, we’re improving the Schema structured data by changing the @id for images for Person and Organization including the logo attribute for the latter, to have a more proper format. We’ve also fixed a bug in the Schema where the thumbnailUrl attribute of the Article object would be wrong if the post had an Open Graph or Twitter image. Last but not least, we’ve added a wpseo_schema_graph filter to allow filtering of the entire Schema graph.

Other improvements in Yoast SEO 18.7

In Yoast SEO 18.7, we’ve also fine-tuned our SEO analyses. We no longer penalize you for having an H1 that is not at the beginning of the text body. Of course, we do warn you if you try to add more than one H1 to your text and encourage you to follow a proper heading hierarchy.

Update now!

That’s it for this release. This release is the next in a series of updates to bring you a trouble-free experience with Yoast SEO. We’re diving back in and continue working on our SEO plugins. See you in two weeks!

Go Premium and get access to all our features!

Premium comes with lots of features and free access to our SEO courses!

Get Yoast SEO Premium »Only €99 EUR / per year (ex VAT) for 1 site

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Google Ads reporting issues with APIs and Ads Scripts

Posted by on May 3, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Ads reporting issues with APIs and Ads Scripts

Google Ads Scripts, AdWords API and the Google Ads API all were impacted by a but that may have caused reporting issues between April 25th 2:32 PM PT and April 26th 12:24 PM PT. If you the Google Ads Scripts, AdWords API and the Google Ads API for bringing down data for your tools or reports, you may want to annotate the issue or rerun the reports.

Google’s statement. Google posted a statement about the issue over here saying:

Between April 25th 2:32 PM PT and April 26th 12:24 PM PT, there was an issue which may have impacted some read report requests across Google Ads scripts, the AdWords API, and the Google Ads API. If you were using these products to request reporting data for your accounts, then a small percentage of report downloads may have been missing rows or may have had incorrect data in a given row. This issue has been resolved. As a precaution, we recommend running again any reports that you have executed during this period as the missing data has been restored.

What should you do. It would make sense to rerun those date ranges to validate the numbers you pulled in originally were accurate. If not, you should replace the data with the revised data. Google said it recommends “running again any reports that you have executed during this period as the missing data has been restored.”

Why we care. If you have reported to your clients or stakeholders any data pulled from these sources, Google Ads Scripts, AdWords API and the Google Ads API, for the date range of April 25th 2:32 PM PT and April 26th 12:24 PM PT – your reports may be incorrect. You will want to pull revised data, compare the old reports to see if the data was accurate or not. If the data was not accurate, you should update the reports and send revised reports to your clients or stakeholders.

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Microsoft Advertising is rolling out Auto-generated remarketing lists and more

Posted by on May 3, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Microsoft Advertising is rolling out Auto-generated remarketing lists and more

Microsoft Advertising is rolling out Auto-generated remarketing lists and more

Spring has been quite the busy season for Microsoft Advertising. First we heard about the news on RSA extensions adding an extra 60 days, then the search behemoth announced innovate new cash-back incentives ads. A handful of additions and upgrades have been announced in May, led by Auto-generated remarketing lists.

New auto-generated remarketing lists

You may see a new notification about audiences when logging into your Microsoft Advertising account. These new audiences are for those looking to “get started with remarketing, or you’re already using remarketing and want to optimize performance.”

Advertisers will have the ability to choose from the following preset audiences:

All Visitors. People who have visited your website in the past 30 days.

All Converters. People who have converted in the past 180 days.

Smart Remarketing. According to Microsoft these are “People who are likely to convert”. These audiences are powered by Microsoft Advertising’s audience intelligence with a goal of providing high conversion rates.

These breakouts make sense as they give advertisers flexibility to target (or remove) those commonly used audiences without requiring advanced technical knowhow. The smart remarketing sounds promising and may be worth a test by all advertisers if in fact the intelligence works as advertised.

Dynamic Search Ad rollout, subdomain support & exact domains

In other news, Microsoft’s Dynamic Search Ads (DSAs) are rolling out to Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Vietnam, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, Peru, and Venezuela.

Advertisers will also be rejoicing as they’ll now have the ability to use DSAs on subdomains. The changes don’t stop there as Exact auto-target URLs are coming for more fine tuned “URL equals” targeting than the “URL contains” operator. This should make specific targeting much easier for advertisers.

Other Microsoft Advertising additions

A few other helpful enhancements releasing in May include:

Manage images in Microsoft Advertising Editor
You can now create new ads, upload images as well as delete/replace previous images.
Microsoft Audience Network enhancements
New bidding is coming including CPM pricing and smart bidding.

Why We Care. While most folks reading this now already have remarketing lists created, the ‘smart remarketing’ lists are a new tool to test. While the previous visitors and previous purchasers aren’t revolutionary, they may help new advertisers perform better on the platform.

Lastly, the ability to be able to use DSAs on subdomains is a much welcomed addition and the

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Google Responsive Search Ads: What you need to know

Posted by on May 3, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Responsive Search Ads: What you need to know

Google Responsive Search Ads: What you need to know

June 30 is almost here. That’s when Google will sunset expanded text ads (ETAs).

Google has given us a lot of time, advice and resources to prepare for the successor to ETAs – Responsive Search Ads (RSAs).

Are you ready? Read this guide for useful information and to understand how this transition may affect your paid search campaigns.

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Details on the transition

Starting June 30, advertisers will no longer be able to create or edit ETAs in Google Ads.

However, existing ETAs will still be able to run alongside RSAs moving forward.

Advertisers will still have the ability to pause and resume these ads based on guidance from the reporting that Google Ads will continue to provide.

What are RSAs?

RSAs are responsive search ads. Advertisers upload multiple headlines and descriptions, then let Google’s machine learning optimize the ad versions in real-time. The goal is to increase engagement (click-through rate).

Google allows up to 15 different headlines and up to four different descriptions to be considered when creating the ad combinations shown in the search results.

Think of all the possibilities for Google’s machine learning to optimize ad messages. There are more than 43,000 different variations available to keep your messages fresh and keep the ad engagement on an uphill trajectory.

Over time, the system will customize the ad versions based on the user’s search behavior, device preferences and other signals to serve the right version at the right time. The result looks exactly like the ETAs and includes up to three headlines, two descriptions and a display URL.

Google initially introduced RSAs in beta in 2018 and continued to expose advertisers to the change.

Alerts throughout the Google Ads platform have appeared over the past several months. These alerts are typically shown while creating new or editing existing ads.

RSAs became the default ad type in Google Ads on Feb. 18, 2021.

Benefits of RSAs

Yes, there are some drawbacks to this transition. For example, advertisers have less control over the ad combinations and low visibility into which combinations performed the best.

However, there are also reasons to get excited. Here are three big benefits:

You will save time. After the initial planning of the RSA, you will save the many hours of creation, testing and analysis that previously went into new versions of ETAs.Performance will improve. Advertisers are already seeing improved click-through rates associated with RSAs. As the system optimizes and learns, click-through rates will increase, and the best-performing versions will be prioritized.Optimization will happen in real-time. As the learning progresses, the system gets smarter at delivering top performers. This ensures ads will be more engaging to consumers and become more optimized as time goes on.

How does the transition affect search ad strategy?

Use the knowledge about what worked best from your ETAs and carry it over to RSAs.

All the work and testing you have done will pay off with this update.

You may believe that your best-performing ETAs will stop performing and you should pause them immediately. Not true.

Instead, you should continue running the best ETAs. Analyze their performance against RSAs in each ad group.

Now is the time to start thinking about all the headlines and descriptions you want to use in your RSAs. With Google doing the heavy lifting when it comes to combination optimization and testing, we need to give Google our most effective marketing messages.

Lack of control of the combinations requires some strategic planning and attention to what is possible.

How to write effective RSAs

Google gives some helpful advice on how to create effective search ads. All these suggestions should be considered when writing your RSAs.

Here’s what is most important when writing effective RSAs.

Headlines are your bread and butter

Headlines make your ads stand out and entice potential customers to click through on your ad versus your competitor’s ad. They also have a significant impact on how Google ranks the quality of the ad.

Keep your headline unique. Google will not display headlines that are too similar. Redundant headlines will limit the number of combinations that Google can serve.Include keywords in at least five headlines. To maximize your ad quality score, Google offers dynamic keyword insertion to insert your keywords directly into your headlines.Include three headlines that do not have campaign keywords. These headlines can include specific calls to action exclusive discount offers when available.Have a combination of short and long headlines. Headlines can have up to 30 characters.Aim to deliver at least 10 headlines for Google to optimize.

Create attention-grabbing descriptions

Use your descriptions to let potential customers know why you are the best option. Don’t make them guess. Get your marketing message across by thinking about the following:

Highlight something unique in each description. Think about the different combinations that may be put together and if they make sense in any order. This is important. One description should not be dependent on another.Tell the audience what you want them to do. Whether it be “Download a Newsletter” or “Purchase Today,” strong, clear calls to action are a must.

Use pinning to control combinations only when necessary

Google allows you to pin headlines and descriptions, so they show up in a specific position. This is an excellent feature that can help you regain a bit of the control you may feel you have lost.

Use pinning only when necessary. Google is a learning machine. Pinning one headline reduces the testing and learning Google can do by over 75%. The percentage increases as the number of pins go up.

Take advantage of Google’s ad strength score

We love the fact Google gives us a peek into how our ads can be improved. Take this seriously.

Many times, we feel our ads encompass all needed elements, but Google may not agree. The ad strength meter measures quantity, relevance and diversity in the provided headlines and descriptions.

Use this information to improve the ads until Google sees them as “Good” or even “Excellent.” Google provides an option to view ideas that may help expand your ads and make them more relevant.

Google Ads RSA preparation checklist

Continue learning: Take advantage of the next two months. Keep testing new versions of your ETAs to identify what works and move those messages over to your RSAs.Create one RSA per ad group: Make sure each ad group has one active RSA. Use the recommendations above and from Google to write effective RSAs.Use ad extensions: Implement at least four ad extensions for each group. Ad extensions can be applied at multiple levels, including account, campaign and ad group. Apply extensions at the ad group level so the extensions are relevant. A higher number of extensions increases the amount of information the searcher must evaluate before clicking on your ad.

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