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Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways

Posted by on Nov 16, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways

Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways

We invited Michael Akkerman, Global Head of Partners Program at Pinterest, to our NY office yesterday evening to speak on visual search.

He talked about discovery over search, audience engagement over audience size, less time more well-spent over more total time spent, and social communities over social networks. It was an insightful, instructive, and *obviously* visual-heavy session.

Here were some of the key takeaways / highlights.

Pinterest is a visual discovery engine — discovery over search

When people come to our platform, they’re trying to discover new pieces of information.

Our Pinners are not looking to connect with friends or post at parties. They’re doing home renovations. They’re in the market for something. They want to go and actually discover something.

Google is great for when I know what I want, but it’s really crappy when I don’t know how to articulate it. How do I describe a style I’ve only seen, a city I don’t know, a specific color?

Like this:

Or this:

I know them when I see them.

Pinterest is visual-first. We wanted it to be able to take images instead of words.

Pinterest = possibilities

What do I want to eat? What do I want to wear? How should I decorate my house? What’s my style? We help people understand their taste.

Total numbers of pins: 23 billion food and drink. 18 billion home and garden. 8 billion beauty. 23 billion style. 4 billion travel.

Are you in one of these categories? Your customers are on Pinterest.

“Even if you think your brand’s content isn’t on Pinterest, your customers are probably already bringing it there. Seems like those are people you might want to go and chat with.”

What keeps people from buying? They’re still trying to figure out what they want — they’re still discovering.

For us, the camera is the new keyboard.

Let the image be the SERP.

Shop the look. Discover products inside an image.

Personalization not as a feature, but rather the underpinning of the platform

On Pinterest, we understand that every single person has different interests. We don’t want personalization as just a feature. We want it as the underpinnings of the entire platform.

The way we’re doing it is we’re bringing what’s called the taste graph. The hipster guy from Williamsburg? His garden board doesn’t look like everyone else’s. My travel board? I want to go to Morocco. Not everyone does.

When you interact on Pinterest, it feels like it knows you.

What storytelling was on search versus what storytelling is on Pinterest. Driving people closer to an engaging experience.

Audience engagement over audience size

Content at scale:

250 million monthly active users
170 billion pins — 5x the library of congress every single day
3 billion boards

We have the largest human focus group in the world, curating content into boards.

“We’re 250 million people, not 2 billion. It’s really looking at the intent. You’ll find platforms with much larger audiences, but they’re not there to engage. We’re a smaller audience size, but people are there with intent.”

More time well-spent over total time spent

The visual revolution. 50% of the brain is dedicated to understanding visual information.

People retain 10% of what they hear, 20% of what they read, and 80% of what they see and do.

At Pinterest, that “do” part is very interesting. We’re about time well-spent. We want you off the platform as soon as possible — we want you to solve your problem as quickly as possible.

“When people use Pinterest, they feel positive. It’s about what you can build and achieve. Go make that recipe. Go build that birdhouse. Go nuts. Get off our platform as quickly as possible.”

Purposeful communities over social networks

We’re not a social network — but communities are naturally springing up all the time around given topics, images, ideas, and brands.

Most people call Pinterest “my time.” Not about my social network.

Ads within the context of purpose-based community versus in a social network

1. Annoyance: “People use social media to share things about their lives with each other. And let’s face it, ads are annoying in that context.”

2. Value: “With Google, you know the intent but not the person. With Facebook, you know everything about the person but less about the intent. I was drawn to Pinterest because it combines both.”

Ads often don’t add value, and they feel disruptive, disjointed.

Why not make them additive? If you’re searching for a certain type of shoes, we’ll show you ads for those shoes.

“If the content is valuable, I don’t mind that it comes from a brand. It solves my problem.”

How people shop: convenience and need over loyalty, bundles over individual items

Example of REI: They saw that normal human beings shop in bundles. If they’re going camping, they don’t need ten jackets and ten tents. They need a bundle of assorted things. Thus, they started highlighting and bundling trending Pinterest products on their own site.

Loyalty is elusive in today’s market

Most purchases are driven by shopping, not by loyalty to a brand. People who switch from brand A to brand B do so because brand B was present the second they were looking for a product.

Marketers like Pinterest because you can reach customers so early on in their buying journey

Pinners start the Black Friday hunt in August.

Most people start pinning, searching, saving 12 weeks before an event. That’s great for a marketer. You can drive interest incrementally over time.

When someone is designing their perfect home, looking for the perfect bag, planning their next vacation — you should be there. They’re discovering your product.

Agnostic cross-channel insight

Last-touch vs multi-touch attribution, in pictures:

“Last-touch attribution is like a shopkeeper looking out the door and seeing a bunch of customers lined up outside and saying “oh, if I had two more front doors, I’d have three times as many customers.” It doesn’t work that way.”

You need to do multi-touch attribution. You’re trying to engage customers, build brand, drive sales. But that looks different in every channel.

Kenshoo found that Facebook was undervalued by as much as 30%. We see the exact same thing on Pinterest right now.

The full livestream is available on our @Sewatch twitter here as well as online here.

The post Pinterest on visual search: key takeaways appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success

Posted by on Nov 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success

Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success

You know how important online presence is to any business and how valuable it is to deliver performance. But how well do you understand your users’ path and what makes them engaged? How often has it happened to you to find out specific things about your traffic and make correlations but didn’t know the steps for filtering your data?

 

Understanding your Google Analytics results can be hard and tricky, but Google Analytics Insights is the everyday solution. It’s like training for the race and come home with the medals.

 

 

The great side of GA insights is the personalized list of marketing tips and tricks you get based on the activity of your business. It uses a machine learning algorithm, named Analytics Intelligence, which makes it easier for the business owner to discover what’s important in the pile of data and then take meaningful action. And the best thing of all is that you can ask questions and get directions.

 

Understand Year over Year Growth of Average Order Value
Know What Users Are Interested in Purchasing Right Now
Keep Your Loyal Users Engaged
Find Any Anomalies for Your Website
Find the Landing Pages with the Worst Ecommerce Conversion Rate
Track the Revenue Trend for Your Products/Services

 

Google Analytics Insights offers great guidelines for your website. For starters, you can select some questions from a standard list to get some directions. Straight form the Insights go to list of questions regarding users, traffic trends, content analysis, users behavior, product performance and technical performance.

 

 

Creating great campaigns and improving your digital marketing results is mandatory for success, that’s why you should keep an eye on Google reports for insights.

 

 
1. Year over Year Growth of Average Order Value

 

For e-commerce websites, Average Order Value (AOV) is one of the most important metrics that should be tracked. It a metric that measures the total average of all the transactions made by a customer each time they place an order on the website, within a specific period of time.

 

AOV is determined by measuring sales per order, not sales per customer. Although one customer may come back multiple times to make a purchase, each order would be counted separately in the AOV.

 

Keeping track of Average Order Value would help business owners to be aware of key business decisions such as advertising spend, store layout, and product pricing.

Google

 

 

To find out the year over year growth of AOV you need to go to insights. You can access it from all the google analytics dashboards; it doesn’t matter where you are.

 

 

Then, you can search for “year over year growth of Average Order Value” or go to Conversions » Ecommerce » Overview. There you can see something similar to the next graphic.

 

 

You can see if your AOV has increased or suffered a drop. In the first case, a higher AOV will increase your ecommerce store’s profitability. In the last case, it means that this year’s orders (according to the graphic, it is 2018) are fewer than the ones from the previous year (2017).

 

You can increase the AOV by a few improvements/tricks in your selling process, such as:

Offer free shipping. There are lots of websites that offer free shipping with regard to the period of shipment.
Offer limited free shipping for a specific order value. For example, chose a free shipping value of $25 or $30 depending on what type of products you sell. If you’re selling luxury products, unfortunately that doesn’t apply.
Offer additional products right in the card after the customer placed a product. If you give recommendations based on what the customer ordered, you might encourage additional spending
Give coupons to loyal customers to inspire them to make purchases.
Start a loyalty program. You can create fidelity cards with points and for each purchase, the customer can collect points.

 

The beautiful side of this Overview panel form Analytics is the Marketing section, where you can see what campaigns are performing in terms of transactions, revenue, and AOV. You can see here what online marketing strategy (promotion, coupon codes, affiliation) works best:

 

 
2. Know What Users Are Interested in Purchasing Right Now

 

If you want to know who is interested in buying right now from the whole list of leads, then In-Market Segments is the choice you should make. In-Market Segments reflect the users who are interested in a product and close to converting. They can help you decide what to promote or how to remarket.

 

Simply click on Insights and search for “Know what users are interested in purchasing right now” and you’ll see a similar report for your website:

 

 

In the screenshot above, you can see the In-Market Segments for Aug 1, 2018-Aug 31, 2018. And if you look at the number, you can see that they have grown significantly over the past month. By clicking on Go to Reports from your Google Analytics Account, you will be redirected to Audience » Interests » In-Market Segments.

 

Here you can create segments and keep track of what you’re interested in. This way you have an easy management and a clear sight of who is more active and who needs a little help. You can see Google Analytics data regarding behavior, e-commerce conversions or goals completition.

 

 

Based on the results above you can use remarketing, and focus your lower-funnel marketing (e.g., promotions, discounts, product bundles) on these users. For example, create audiences with conditions like “In-Market Segment exactly matches Financial Services/Investment Services”. You can then use these audiences in AdWords, DoubleClick Bid Manager, or DoubleClick Search remarketing campaigns.

 

If you want to create audiences, you have to go to your Admin panel » Property » » Audience Definitions » Audiences.

 

 

After you select Audiences, you can set up the steps for Remarketing and create your first audience.

 

 
3. Keep Your Loyal Users Engaged

 

Loyal customers are hard to achieve and once you gained their hearts you must keep their engagement rate high. If you want to see the percentage of loyal users, you can search for “How loyal were your users from September?” in the GA insights section.

 

On the site we analyzed we could see that the loyality rate was 5.87% in September compared to August.

 

 

To follow up on these numbers, you can see the exact number or users if you go to Audience » Behaviour » New vs. Returning and select the last 28 days or check the monthly trend of users over the last 12 months.

 

You can always compare these results with the previous year and for that you have to look at the year over year growth of users. For the analyzed site, we have an increase of 4.11%.

 

 

In case there was a decrease there are some things to consider, such as adding new site features, product strategies, or marketing activities.

 
4. Find Any Anomalies for Your Website

 

If you think something strange happened to your users or your website, you can search to see if there were any anomalies in users, sessions, impressions, transactions and more. Google uses a specific model –  Bayesian state space-time series model – to forecast values that stand out beyond the normal trend in the time series data:

 

Analytics Intelligence Anomaly Detection is a statistical technique to identify “outliers” in time-series data for a given dimension value or metric.

Google

 

 

Go to Google Analytics Insights and search for “Any anomalies in the number of users last week?” and your question will be answered. For the website we analyzed we can see there is nothing abnormal regarding users.

 

 

There are two types of anomalies presented in Google Analytics:

for sites that experience a spike;
for sites that had a drop in sales or some metrics perform poorly.

 

In case you find anomalies in your account that signal some negative performance, then you should look at the results and the period of time. As you can see in the screenshot below, Google detected 1 anomaly in the time series analyzed marked with a red dot. It identified it as an anomaly because it wasn’t accurate regarding historical data.

 

Source: medium.com

 

You probably know about Google Analytics alerts. You could find them at Customization » Custom Alerts » Manage Custom Alerts » New Alert. And you could add alerts to keep an eye on the problems that appear. For example, you can have an alert in case your transactions dropped to a specific value.

 

 

 
5. Find the Landing Pages with the Worst Ecommerce Conversion Rate

 

Finding pages that don’t bring any commercial benefits can be hard to spot and Analytics insights has the information on that. For the site we used on this analysis we received some recommendation of what needs to be improved and one of them was the poor landing pages in terms of ecommerce conversion rate.

 

We saw that some of your top landing pages performed >25% worse on ecommerce conversion rate this month.

 

 

Over the time period analyzed, the overall ecommerce conversion rate of the site was 0.57%, according to the Google Analytics results. Tracking this type of data helps you see the conversion rate and the directions for improving it. For keeping the numbers high you have to keep the content relevant for the type of traffic you have for those pages. You need to answer the following questions:

 

If there have been changes in the traffic sources to these pages, have you made sure the content is relevant to that traffic?
If you changed the content on these pages, did you notice a change in user behavior?

 

To see the type of traffic you have for your pages, go to Behaviour » Site Content » Landing Pages. Here chose the secondary dimension: Traffic Type.

 

 
6. Track the Revenue Trend for Your Products/Services

 

Once you understand the popularity of certain products and discover what’s accounting for your highest ROI, your business will grow.

 

Tracking the revenue trend for your products can be really helpful in understanding what’s working and what products didn’t bring so much revenue. If you search for “Trend of Product Revenue by Product” you’ll see a chart similar to the one below:

 

 

As you can see in the picture above there is a spike in revenue. This chart is very efficient in discovering which products are most effective. So in our case, we should look at the product that had a drastic increase and go further in discovering what we did that day or during the previous days.

 

I performed the search once more to see if this spike appeared again in the last 3 months by going to Conversions » Ecommerce » Product Performance. And it seems it happened again in October so it wasn’t just a one-time thing, but still the spike is pretty high comparing to the normal growth of the website.

 

 

Conclusion

 

Google Analytics Insights is the online guide that helps you see the missing opportunities, the lacking performance, the anomalies and get recommendations and straight answers to your questions with direct reference to the reports and graphs. Following the above actionable insights we talked about, and looking through the customized reports will give you the chance to improve your Google analytics data, increase sales and perform conversion rate optimization

 

It is very easy to use. You can ask questions or look for specific metrics and dimensions and Google Intelligence will give you directions to the analytics reports. You’ll get recommendations and see what you should do to improve the metrics and the parts of your website that aren’t performing so well in the sales funnel.

 

 

The post Google Analytics Insights – The Best Tips for Your Business Success appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

SEMScoop Keyword Tool and How It Will Help You in Your Keyword Research

Posted by on Nov 13, 2018 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on SEMScoop Keyword Tool and How It Will Help You in Your Keyword Research

SEMScoop Keyword Tool will help you understand the use of website silo architecture and find LSI keywords that help you improve your marketing strategy.

 

As you already know if you are expert in SEO and keyword research, these concepts are not new, and there are other tools and methods that help you get thematic keywords and “long tail” or LSI.

 

I have used several ones before, I did not find them interesting enough to write about. However this case is totally different, and I think it’s worth to be mentioned and discussed.

 

The operation of SEMScoop is very simple: you just have to enter a keyword and SEMScoop will show you all the topics, terms and keywords related to it.

You already know that choosing the right keywords is very important to get a good ranking position in SERP.

 

it’s not just about “adding the keywords with some text …”, it’s rather about building relevant content for these keywords, using the right concepts in the right context.

 

As you may have noticed, Google’s algorithms are increasingly “smart” when it comes to “understanding” how relevant text can be on a given topic. For Google this is a necessity, because it is the only way to get to show the best possible results for each search.

 

Thanks to SEMScoop keyword tool it can give you an idea of the keyword SEO difficulty, and if you will be willing to rank if you did focus your content  around this keyword

 

When SEMScoop finishes exploring and processing all the results, you will see that the data is divided into four tabs:

 

  • Top Search Results
  • Links Profile
  • Content Analysis
  • Social Engagement

 

Each tab have different data about google top ranking pages metrics (age, authority, links, contents, socials …) it should provide a clear view for which terms are likely easy to rank

 

My recommendation is to try SEMScoop, it have a daily free usage (no sign up required), I am pretty sure it will help in improving your site overall ranking

Avoid these site structure mistakes!

Posted by on Nov 6, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 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!

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#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.

 

3 SEO Split Tests You Should Try

Posted by on Oct 30, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 3 SEO Split Tests You Should Try

3 SEO Split Tests You Should Try

Yes, split testing for SEO is a thing, and a powerful one at that. In How Split Testing Is Changing Consulting, Will sums up why high priority SEO changes linger in developer backlogs, and how we’re addressing these issues with our ODN platform that allows us to test and roll out these recommendations without using our clients’ developer resources: we can substantiate best practices like H1 changes, alterations to internal links, and rendering content with and without Javascript.

Let’s get started with three tests you should try to see if you can increase organic traffic to your site.

1. Do H1 changes still work?

It won’t come as any surprise to SEOs that testing on page elements can produce significant changes in rankings. That said, I’ve found that folks can put too much stock in on page elements: we tend to get keyword-tunnel vision and chock up our rankings to keyword targeting alone. As a result, being able to test these assumptions on Google can help (dis)prove our hypotheses (and help us prioritize the right development work).

For iCanvas.com, prioritizing web development work is key: they’re a canvas print company with a robust team of developers, but like most companies, they have limited resources to test technical changes. As a result, dubious SEO-driven changes can’t be prioritized over user experience-driven ones.

We did, however, notice that iCanvas was not targeting product type in their H1 tags. As a result, this is what a typical category page (like this one) looked like.

Here, the H1 tag was simply “Beach Decor.” iCanvas was communicating the style and subject of their products in their title tags–that product being canvas art prints–but that context was lost on a given category page. We hypothesized that if we told the world (and, more specifically, Google) what the products are (canvas prints), that we would better meet users’ search intents resulting in more organic search traffic to our test pages. Here’s what the H1 looked like for the test::

After less than a month, we had our answer: our test pages with canvas prints appended to H1 tags gained significantly more traffic than our control pages. How’d we measure that?

It helps to know how ODN works (also check out Craig’s post, What is SEO Split Testing?). The most important thing to know in understanding the chart above is that ODN observes the organic traffic your site captures in real time to develop a forecast for the organic traffic we’d expect to receive in the future. That’s how we got to the nice “7.7% uplift if rolled out” estimate. There is of course volatility–forecasts are rarely perfect, and ours isn’t an exception. Which is why we also measure statistical significance within the normal range of variance we’d expect.

As a result, we were confident that this change would positively impact traffic to their site, so we declared this test a winner and rolled the change out to all of their category pages through ODN. This meant that we didn’t have to hijack our developers’ work queue in order to see an immediate benefit. Additionally, we had evidence we could bring to our devs instead of relying exclusively on the promise of following “best practices” in keyword targeting.

2. Will altering internal links give you a big payoff?

Testing changes to internal links is often an ill-defined endeavor. Do you measure changes to PageRank (dubbed local PageRank by Will Critchlow)? Should you look at your log files to observe changes to Google’s crawling behavior?

In our case, iCanvas had a somewhat simpler internal linking issue we wanted to address: self-referential links. As an art company, it’s essential to attribute the creator’s name to their work of art.

As a result, they had made the decision to include a link to the artist of the work on every product listing.

For instance, in the above screenshot of a category page, you can see that each product has its artist listed, and those artists’ names are linked to pages listing all of their available artworks on iCanvas. While this application made sense for category pages where various artists’ products are featured alongside each other, it resulted in redundant links on those individual artists’ pages.

Each of these artist attributions, on the artist’s category page, were linking back to themselves (thus: self-referential links). Our hypothesis was that if we removed these redundant links, we’d better consolidate our PageRank. We knew this change could have a dramatic impact on artists’ products, resulting in more organic traffic flowing to their product pages. Our test, however, would measure the impact of organic traffic acquisition to our test group of artist pages. So how did it turn out?

As it turned out, our test was a success: artist pages in our test group received more organic traffic than our control pages. We were again able to test something that would’ve been touted as “best practice” before rolling it out sitewide, or manually setting up test and control groups and measuring the results ourselves. Once we saw the positive impact (less than a month later), we rolled this change out sitewide and the validation we needed to get the necessary development work prioritized.

3. How good is Google at crawling JavaScript?

If you follow our blog, you’ve already read about how we tested Google’s ability to crawl and render JavaScript. We posited that, because Google wasn’t reliably displaying iCanvas’ products in its Fetch and Render tool, iCanvas’ category and product pages would receive more organic traffic if we used a CSS trigger to load their products instead of relying exclusively on JavaScript.

Above is a screenshot of what we saw (and, presumably, what Googlebot saw) in Fetch and Render of a category page.

After our tweak, however, we plugged one of our test URLs into Fetch and Render, and we could finally produce what users see in their browsers with JS enabled. But did it actually result in additional organic traffic to our test pages?

As you can see above, it did. Based on the performance of our test pages, iCanvas would see an extra 88 pageviews daily with their products triggered through a line of CSS instead of JS. Measuring the impact of this relatively simple change could have taken much longer than this month-long experiment. By the end though, we were ready to roll this out sitewide to ensure that all iCanvas products were crawlable and discoverable.

Split testing something as simple as on page SEO can produce meaningful traffic changes that’ll allow you to validate best practices and get necessary evidence for your stakeholders (and developers) to buy into your suggestions. Is it time for you to try SEO split testing?

WORDPRESS MALWARE REMOVAL – THINGS TO DO AND NOT TO DO

Posted by on Oct 25, 2018 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WORDPRESS MALWARE REMOVAL – THINGS TO DO AND NOT TO DO

Introduction

WordPress has become the popular website management platform in the world. It is currently powering more than 80 million websites worldwide. The reason for so much popularity is the ease at which it is managed and maintained. WordPress has been freely available since 2004 and consistently remained the best blogging and website platform.

Since 2004, there have been a series of version updates in the WordPress software and each new version is meant to resolve one or two issues, especially related to security. Over the last few years, the term “malware” suddenly found its way into WordPress websites and denotes a website that has been compromised through one of the security holes. More specifically, the term is often used in relation to websites affected with SEO spam or malicious scripts.

Malware can be a pretty big deal if you have it on your website. Google can blacklist you and if this happens, a warning signal will be displayed when people try to search for your website in Google. Depending on the type and severity of the malware, your visitors can be dealt with an entirely different page or referred to another website.

WordPress Malware Removal

So, how can you remove malware from a WordPress site? This article will address two audiences – those affected with WordPress malware and others that want to learn more about the technique of WordPress malware removal. We shall critically examine 3 sets of things to do and not to do below.

Things not to do when faced with WordPress malware

1.     DO NOT PANIC AND BECOME LOST IN FEAR

One of the worst things you can do when faced with the problem of WordPress infection is panic. Of course, having an infected website is very scary especially when the website contains vital and essential details. However, you should not allow yourself to be overcome by it. Rather, you should gain confidence with the fact that WordPress malware has a solution.

Relax and stay calm. Your problem has a solution. Most of the malware infections can be cleaned up within a few hours, leaving you with a more functional and effective website.

2.     DO NOT CONDEMN THE ENTIRE WORDPRESS PLATFORM

There are many ways by which a WordPress site can become infected with malware. The WordPress platform itself is built with a collection of secure scripts and codes that are not vulnerable or prone to malicious activities on the web.

However, the several user-installed plugins, scripts, and themes pose the major risk and vulnerability. Of course, these add-ons are a beautiful way to add more functionality and design to your website. Unfortunately, most of these add-ons are well-managed and are easily penetrated by cyber hackers.

There are several themes and plug-ins out there, especially the free ones, that have been created long ago and there has not been any critical step by the developers to update them. This makes your site vulnerable to attackers and they can easily penetrate your aged scripts and codes.

Luckily, there are advanced security plug-ins like WordFence that allows you to scan your website and detect the plug-ins and themes that are out-of-date or not supported anymore. It informs you of the latest security threats and makes necessary recommendations.

What’s more, frequently scan your website, especially your list of users, and remove anyone that is not recognized. Also, make sure you use a strong password and follow our WordPress security tips that are listed here.

3.     DO NOT DELETE YOUR ENTIRE SITE

Whenever people face any problem with their WordPress site, they are often too in a hurry to resolve it. Some even go to the extent of deleting their entire website or a part of it and start all over. In many cases, this is never the right solution to the cases of WordPress malware infection.

However, if need be, you can delete the features that are not unique to your website and replace them with fresh and clean contents. These items include:

WordPress Core File

This file contains WordPress default files and the information contained therein is not unique to your website. You can remove this files and folders and replace them with the default copy from the WordPress directory to replace them.

Free Plugins

If you have one or more free plug-ins on your site that are available in the WordPress Plug-in directory, you can remove them completely and replace them with fresh copies. You can also consider removing inactive plug-ins permanently from your site.

Premium Plugins

If you have any premium plug-in that is not available in the WordPress directory, you should first track the developer and obtain a fresh copy before you remove it from your WordPress site.

Themes

Theme removal is typically more complicated than plug-in removal. If you have customized and personalized your theme, you may lose these essential details if you remove the theme. However, if you made little or no personalized settings to your theme, you can remove and replace.

Things to do when faced with WordPress malware

1.     DO HAVE A BACKUP COPY OF YOUR SITE

The first and most important rule for all WordPress users is to have a backup and restore strategy in place. This is a very simple yet vital step that is often overlooked. You will very happy to have a recent backup copy of your website when it eventually becomes infected. The best practice is to run a weekly or bi-weekly backup of your site. So, in case of any issue, you can easily restore the most recent backup and continue to enjoy your site.

There are plenty of tools available that allows you to create and store a backup copy of your site. In fact, some hosting providers have this option in their c-panel for free. So, you have no reason not to keep a backup copy of your website.

2.     DO HAVE A PREMIUM DEDICATED HOSTING PLAN

The majority of WordPress websites out there are hosted on public shared hosting platforms. What this means is that your site is hosted on a public server with many other sites. There is a greater possibility of down time involved here.

If you use your WordPress website for nothing spectacular, you may continue with the shared hosting. However, if you use your WordPress website for your business or professional purposes, you should consider purchasing your own dedicated server.

Meanwhile, most hosting websites out there also understand that problems associated with shared hosting and do everything to prevent it. If you are having security issues with your current hosting provider, you may consider shopping for another reliable one. Luckily, there are lots of reviews online that can guide you in choosing the best one for your need.

3.     DO STAY INFORMED ON WORDPRESS SECURITY

If you are running a WordPress site, you should, as a matter of necessity, be updated and educated on WordPress security. If you want a safe and secure WordPress experience, you need to stay informed. Security-related topics are something people are not normally interested in because they feel it is not important.

However, the fact remains that WordPress security is like health insurance – no one feels they need it until the need arises. If you really want to keep your WordPress site safe and secure, then you must be ready to willing to read some security information and take some simple security steps.

Bottom line

WordPress security is as important as the physical security of your life and properties. A WordPress site can be one of your most very important assets, especially if you use it for business purposes. This is why you need to take the security of your website as paramount as possible. This article discusses the things to do and not to do in case of WordPress malware infection.

Announcing Full-Funnel Testing – testing SEO and CRO at the same time

Posted by on Oct 24, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Announcing Full-Funnel Testing – testing SEO and CRO at the same time

Announcing Full-Funnel Testing – testing SEO and CRO at the same time

Until now it’s not been possible to measure the impact of SEO and CRO at the same time. Today we’re proud to announce a new feature of Distilled’s Optimisation Delivery Network that we’re calling full funnel testing.

Our ODN platform launched with a focus on SEO testing. You have probably thought about this by comparing it to tools like Optimizely that allow you to do CRO testing. If you want to know more about how SEO testing works and how it’s different to CRO, you can read more in this post on what is SEO testing.

The trouble with just using one or the other is you don’t have any insight into how they impact each other.

That’s a big problem because we know from our testing that a lot of SEO changes impact conversion rate and a lot of CRO changes (even when they increase conversion rate) can negatively impact organic traffic. If you haven’t read it already, you should check out Will’s blog post on the impact of rolling out negative SEO changes but here’s an example of when it goes wrong. This chart shows the search impact of a suggested CRO change on SEO. It decreased organic traffic by 25%.

For that reason, we see the relationship between SEO and CRO like this: 

We saw a need to be able to measure SEO and CRO at the same time. For the last few months, we’ve been running a beta version for some of our clients of what we are calling “full-funnel testing”. Today we’re opening that feature up to everyone and we’d like to show you how it works.

How does it work?

Let’s look at CRO first. To run a CRO experiment, we cookie users based on the landing page design that they arrive on, they’ll then always see that version when they move between pages.

The result is we know the impact on conversion rate, but we don’t know the impact on SEO.

When we do pure SEO testing, we split pages, not users and look at the different impacts on search traffic to the control and variant pages:

The result of this framework is that we know the impact on SEO but we don’t know the impact on conversion rate:

A new framework – Full-funnel testing

With full funnel testing, the site is set up initially in the same way as in the pure SEO testing scenario – and then when someone arrives on a landing page, the SEO testing part of the experiment is complete:

We can then pivot into a CRO experiment by dropping a cookie for that user to make sure they see the same template that they first landed on when moving between pages:

Note that, having landed on the Unicorns page initially, they now see the “A” template version on all subsequent pageviews even on pages like Cats and Badgers that would be set up with the “B” template for anyone landing directly on them as a new visitor:

The result is that we are able to measure the impact of changes on SEO and CRO at the same time.

Thanks for making it this far, you can expect to hear more about this as we get more examples of full-funnel tests and start to share what we learn. If you’d like to know more or see a demo, reach out to us here.

Google + Is Shutting Down. How Does It Impact Your SEO?

Posted by on Oct 17, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google + Is Shutting Down. How Does It Impact Your SEO?

Google + Is Shutting Down. How Does It Impact Your SEO?

Google +? Have you forgotten about it, too? While many of you seem to have been disregarding Google + over the past few years, it was there. But now, as the latest news confirms, we’ve found out that it will be shut down after user information was exposed. It is no shock for some to hear that it will be locked down, while for others it is sad news.

 

All in all, the news might affect lots of business owners. We’ve talked on our blog before, on multiple occasions, about the effect of social signals for your website. Now, it is time to see what has actually happened and what’s next.

 

 

All the fuss was powered by the news saying that Google + will be shut down after user data leak. Sources say over 500,000 users are affected because Google had leaked private information to third-party app developers between 2015 and March 2018. Google did not tell about the security breach they had in March 2018 and that came backstabbing them.

 

The problem is even more serious if we recall the similar situation that happened earlier this year, when Facebook acknowledged that Cambridge Analytica, a British research organization that had performed work for the Trump campaign, had inadequately got access to the personal information of up to 87 million Facebook users.

 

How Google’s Officials Treat the News
Will Shutting Down Google + Affect Your Business?
What’s Next in Your Social Media Strategy

 
1. How Google’s Officials Treated the News

The decision to stay quiet drew the attention of the cybersecurity community because the laws in California and Europe say a company must disclose a security episode.

 

On the other hand, Google’s decision to stay quiet was taken because it didn’t interfere with the company’s “Privacy & Data Protection Office” and it was not legal to report it. The giant mentioned in a blog post that nobody gained access to user information.

 

We found no evidence that any developer was aware of this bug, or abusing the API, and we found no evidence that any Profile data was misused.

Google

 

 

Applications made by other companies had access to Profile fields that were shared with the user, but not marked as public. Google’s officials said that:

 

This data is limited to static, optional Google+ Profile fields including name, email address, occupation, gender and age. It does not include any other data you may have posted or connected to Google+ or any other service, like Google+ posts, messages, Google account data, phone numbers or G Suite content.

Google

 

 

So apps did not have access to phone numbers, messages, Google Plus posts or data from other Google accounts. And they didn’t find any evidence that outside developers found the breach and the issue was fixed in March.

 

The funny thing in this situation is the fact that Google’s top managers stopped posting on Google + up to 3 years ago, in 2015. Which is kind of strange, because a Wall Street Journal report showed Google exposed user data around that date, as mentioned previously.

 

Larry Page, the co-founder of Google, had his last post on 21 August 2015, as you can see in the next screenshot. It seems like he gave up on Google + a long time ago.

 

 

Since 30 June 2011, Larry had posted 147 times on his Google plus account. And that’s so little! If you take into consideration that until 2015 (when his last post was made) he had 147 posts, we could make a large assumption and say it’s like he posted 3 times per month.  

 

Let’s take a look at the second co-founder, Sergey Brin’s Google + page. His last post isn’t published so long ago – on 9 September 2017. From all Google management, he’s the one that used Google + for a longer time. His last post was a photo within the Ragged Islands in the Bahamas, made just a few hours before it bore the brunt of Hurricane Irma.

 

 

A few years ago, Sergey Brin said that he is not a very social person and hadn’t spent much time on Facebook and Twitter, Google +’s competition. We discovered that more recently he lost his Twitter account (@sergeybrinn – is a suspended account). There are some voices that say he had a secret personal Facebook page, but we couldn’t find it. There are a lot of fake accounts instead.  

 

Although he expressly said he’s not more of a social person, he is the one that used Google plus the most from all Google’s officials.  

 

Sundar Pichai, the CEO of Google, last posted on 9 March 2016 about Google’s Deep Mind challenge. He was the second one who gave up on Google +, after Parry Page.  

 

 

And while his Google plus account was left in ruin, his Twitter profile is flourishing. He has 3.69M followers on Google + and only 2.02M on Twitter. Almost ~260 posts and over 1k on Twitter.

 

 

Former Executive Chairman of Google, Eric Schmidt, quit posting on 17 February 2017, long after he left Google in 2015.

 

 

On the other hand, on Twitter the last post was on 3 October 2018. Even if he is posting less often, he’s more active on Twitter than Google +.

 

It’s sad to see that even Google’s management left the social network to have a free fall. The bigger shock is the fact that none of Google’s six independent board members have ever posted publicly on Google+, according to Mashable.

 

Source: mashable.com

 

It makes you wonder when you see these results because Google + has a high influence on business. And the fact that it wasn’t refurbished explains why it got to this point. Sadly, the data breach was inevitably in this case … So, the question that we have is “How could the decision to shut down Google + influence your business and does it affect your SEO?”

 
2. Will Shutting Down Google + Affect Your Business?

 

Probably you’re thinking:

 

If Google’s top representatives don’t use Google+, then why did we?

 

The answer is simple: because of the influence social signals might have.

 

We’ve shown you multiple times that social signals are very important to drive awareness and create authority for a website to push it in SERP. In 2016, we analyzed 23 million shares to see their impact on rankings. We discovered that the average Google+ shares for the 1st rank is significantly higher, so they (might) have value for pushing pages to higher positions in Google.

 

 

Moreover, higher rankings are correlated with Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn & Pinterest high shares altogether. Now that you are losing one link to the chain, it might affect your website. But if all websites lose the same chain, wouldn’t that make loss an equal part for all? Well, that depends. We saw that micro-content that ranks 1st is correlated with high G+ shares.

 

 

Google launched plus one button for websites in 2011. Voices were saying that it used them as ranking signals used for search quality and rankings. But Google denied the allegation and said they had never used Google+ or plus ones as a ranking signal.

 

Google + started as a promising project, but it had a slow death, with nothing intriguing to offer. It was a time when Google tried to make people use it and drive conversations on the social network, by highlighting Google+ content in search results and in Google News, showing you the discussions on Google+. But in the end, it was all for nothing and even made users make fun of it in the SEO community.

 

After a few attempts to refresh the social network, Google stopped pushing it to users and slowly lost interest in it.  

 

The explanation comes in Google’s blog post where they made the announcement of closing the social network, they acknowledged it didn’t receive the fame despite all the efforts. 

 

Our engineering teams have put a lot of effort and dedication into building Google+ over the years, it has not achieved broad consumer or developer adoption, and has seen limited user interaction with apps.

Google

 

Up to this point, we can say that if Google’s algorithms are updated properly so they don’t let G+ signals influence rankings, then any website should be affected. That would be the desired situation. And as I mentioned before, Google + accounts will disappear for all websites so it would be an equal loss. Looking at this with a critical eye, we can say that there might be some cases where some websites could encounter a slight impact. For example, for websites that used mainly G+ to promote their business.

 
3. What’s Next in Your Social Media Strategy

 

What is Google planning to do in the near future now that it has lost Google +? Should we expect to see new Google products or something similar to this one? What we know is what Google stated.

 

All users have time until August 2019 to save their data. So take whatever you need before summer when it will be closed indefinitely. During this time, Google said it will offer additional information to users to help them download that data or migrate it.

 

Google might create new products or features, but only for businesses because as they said, the main focus now is to provide enterprise facilities.

 

We’ve decided to focus on our enterprise efforts and will be launching new features purpose-built for businesses. We will share more information in the coming days.  

Google

 

 

We’ll just have to wait to see what will happen, but one thing is clear: Google says that businesses shouldn’t suffer from this decision as they will come up with a solution. 

The post Google + Is Shutting Down. How Does It Impact Your SEO? appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Marginal losses: the hidden reason your SEO performance is lagging

Posted by on Oct 12, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Marginal losses: the hidden reason your SEO performance is lagging

Marginal losses: the hidden reason your SEO performance is lagging

Without a structured testing program, our experience shows that it’s very likely that most SEO efforts are at best taking two steps forward and one step back by routinely deploying changes that make things worse.

This is true even when the thinking behind a change is solid, is based on correct data, and is part of a well-thought-out strategy. The problem is not that all the changes are bad in theory – it’s that many changes come with inevitable trade-offs, and without testing, it’s impossible to tell whether multiple small downsides outweigh a single large upside or vice versa.

For example: who among us has carried out keyword research into the different ways people search for key content across a site section, determined that there is a form of words that has a better combination of volume vs competitiveness and made a recommendation to update keyword targeting across that site section?

Everyone. Every single SEO has done this. And there’s a good chance you’ve made things worse at least some of the time.

You see, we know that we are modelling the real world when we do this kind of research, and we know we have leaky abstractions in there. When we know that 20-25% of all the queries that Google sees are brand new and never-before-seen, we know that keyword research is never going to capture the whole picture. When we know that the long tail of rarely-searched-for variants adds up to more than the highly-competitive head keywords, we know that no data source is going to represent the whole truth.

So even if we execute the change perfectly we know that we are trading off performance across a certain set of keywords for better performance on a different set – but we don’t know which tail is longer, nor can we model competitiveness perfectly, and nor can we capture all the ways people might search tomorrow.

Without testing, we put it out there and hope. We imagine that we will see if it was a bad idea – because we’ll see the drop and roll it back. While that may be true if we manage a -27% variant (yes, we’ve seen this in the wild with a seemingly-sensible change), there is a lot going on with large sites and even a large drop in performance in a sub-section can be missed until months after the fact, at which point it’s hard to reverse engineer what the change was. The drop has already cost real money, the downside might be obscured by seasonality, and just figuring it all out can take large amounts of valuable analysis time. When the drop is 5%, are you still sure you’re going to catch it?

And what if the change isn’t perfect?

The more black-box-like the Google algorithm becomes, the more we have no choice but to see how our ideas perform in the real world when tested against the actual competition. It’s quite possible that our “updated keyword targeting” version loses existing rankings but fails to gain the desired new ones.

Not only that, but rankings are only a part of the question (see: why you can’t judge SEO tests using only ranking data). A large part of PPC management involves testing advert variations to find versions with better clickthrough rates (CTR). What makes you think you can just rattle off a set of updated meta information that correctly weights ranking against CTR?

Our testing bets that you can’t. My colleague, Dominic Woodman discussed our ODN successes and failures at Inbound 2018, and highlighted just how easy it can be to dodge a bullet, if you’re testing SEO changes.

What I learned From Split Testing – Inbound 2018 Snippet from Distilled
We’re talking about small drops here though, right?

Well firstly, no. We have seen updated meta information that looked sensible and was based on real-world keyword data result in a -30% organic traffic drop.

But anyway, small drops can be even more dangerous. As I argued above, big drops are quite likely to be spotted and rolled back. But what about the little ones? If you miss those, are they really that damaging?

Our experience is that a lot of technical and on-page SEO work is all about marginal gains. Of course on large sites with major issues, you can see positive step-changes, but the reality of much of the work is that we are stringing together many small improvements to get significant year-over-year growth via the wonders of compounding.

And in just the same way that friction in financial compounding craters the expected gains (from this article of the effect of fees on investment returns):

If you’re rolling out a combination of small wins and small losses and not testing to understand which are which to roll back the losers, you are going to take a big hit on the compounded benefit, and may even find your traffic flatlining or even declining year over year.

You can’t eyeball this stuff – we are finding that it’s hard enough to tell apart small uplifts and small drops in the mix of noisy, seasonal data surrounded by competitors who are also changing things measured against a moving target of Google algorithm changes. So you need to be testing.

No but it won’t happen to me

Well firstly, I think it will. In classroom experiments, we have found that even experienced SEOs can be no better than a coin flip in telling which of two variants will rank better for a specific keyword.  Add in the unknown query space, the hard-to-predict human factor of CTR, and I’m going to bet you are getting this wrong.

Still don’t believe me? Here are some sensible-sounding changes we have rolled out and discovered resulted in significant organic traffic drops:

Updating on-page targeting to focus on higher-searched-for variants (the example above)
Using higher-CTR copy from AdWords in meta information for organic results
Removed boilerplate copy from large numbers of pages
Added boilerplate copy to large numbers of pages

Want to start finding your own marginal gains? Click the button below to find out more about ODN and how we are helping clients find their own winners and losers.

CONTACT US TO FIND OUT MORE ABOUT ODN

What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one?

Posted by on Oct 5, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one?

What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one?

A good XML sitemap acts as a roadmap of your website which leads Google to all your important pages. XML sitemaps can be good for SEO, as they allow Google to quickly find your essential website pages, even if your internal linking isn’t perfect. This post explains what XML sitemaps are and how they help you rank better.

What are XML sitemaps?

You want Google to crawl every important page of your website, but sometimes pages end up without any internal links pointing to them, making them hard to find. An XML sitemap lists a website’s important pages, making sure Google can find and crawl them all, and helping it understand your website structure:

Yoast.com’s XML sitemap

Above is Yoast.com’s XML sitemap, created by the Yoast SEO plugin and later on we’ll explain how our plugin helps you create the best XML sitemaps. If you’re not using our plugin, your XML sitemap may look a little different but will work the same way.

As you can see, the Yoast.com XML sitemap shows several ‘index’ XML sitemaps: …/post-sitemap.xml, …/page-sitemap.xml, …/video-sitemap.xml etc. This categorization makes a site’s structure as clear as possible, so if you click on one of the index XML sitemaps, you’ll see all URLs in that particular sitemap. For example, if you click on ‘…/post-sitemap.xml’ you’ll see all Yoast.com’s post URLs (click on the image to enlarge):

Yoast.com’s post XML sitemap

You’ll notice a date at the end of each line. This tells Google when each post was last updated and helps with SEO because you want Google to crawl your updated content as soon as possible. When a date changes in the XML sitemap, Google knows there is new content to crawl and index.

Even better SEO with Yoast SEO Premium!

Optimize your site for the right keywordsNever a dead link in your site againPreviews for Twitter and FacebookGet suggestions for links as you write$89 – Buy now ▸ More infoIf you have a very large website, sometimes it’s necessary to split an index XML sitemap. A single XML sitemap is limited to 50,000 URLs, so if your website has more than 50,000 posts, for example, you’ll need two separate XML sitemaps for the post URLs, effectively adding a second index XML sitemap. The Yoast SEO plugin sets the limit even lower – at 1.000 URLs – to keep your XML sitemap loading as fast as possible

What websites need an XML sitemap?

Google’s documentation says XML sitemaps are beneficial for “really large websites”, for “websites with large archives”, for “new websites with just a few external links to it” and for “websites which use rich media content”.

Here at Yoast, while we agree that these kinds of websites will definitely benefit the most from having one, we think XML sitemaps are beneficial for every website . Every single website needs Google to be able to easily find the most important pages and to know when they were last updated, which is why this feature is included in the Yoast SEO plugin.

Which pages should be in your XML sitemap?

How do you decide which pages to include in your XML sitemap? Always start by thinking of the relevance of a URL: when a visitor lands on a particular URL, is it a good result? Do you want visitors to land on that URL? If not, it probably shouldn’t be in your XML sitemap. However, if you really don’t want that URL to show up in the search results you’ll need to add a ‘noindex, follow’ tag. Leaving it out of your XML sitemap doesn’t mean Google won’t index the URL. If Google can find it by following links, Google can index the URL.

Example 1: A new blog

Say, for example, you are starting a new blog. You will want Google to find new posts quickly to make sure your target audience can find your blog on Google, so it’s a good idea to create an XML sitemap right from the start. You might create a handful of first posts and categories for them as well as some tags to start with. But there won’t be enough content yet to fill the tag overview pages, making them “thin content” that’s not valuable to visitors – yet. In this case, you should leave the tag’s URLs out of the XML sitemap for now. Set the tag pages to ‘noindex, follow’ because you don’t want people to find them in search results.

Example 2: Media and images

The ‘media’ or ‘image’ XML sitemap is also unnecessary for most websites. This is because your images are probably used within your pages and posts, so will already be included in your ‘post’ or ‘page’ sitemap. So having a separate ‘media’ or ‘image’ XML sitemap would be pointless and we recommend leaving it out of your XML sitemap. The only exception to this is if images are your main business. Photographers, for example, will probably want to show a separate ‘media’ or ‘image’ XML sitemap to Google.

How to make Google find your XML sitemap

If you want Google to find your XML sitemap quicker, you’ll need to add it to your Google Search Console account. In the new Search Console, you can find the sitemaps in the ‘Index’ tab. You’ll immediately see if your XML sitemap is already added to Search Console. If not, you can add your sitemap on top of the page:

Yoast.com’s XML sitemap added to the new Google Search Console

Within the old Google Search Console you can see your sitemaps by navigating to ‘Crawl’ and then clicking on ‘Sitemaps’.  Click on the ‘Add/Test sitemap’ button which you see on the right of the arrow in the image below if you haven’t added your XML sitemap.

Yoast.com’s XML sitemap added to the old Google Search Console

As you can see in the image, adding your XML sitemap can be helpful to check whether all pages in your sitemap really have been indexed by Google. If there is a big difference in the ‘submitted’ and ‘indexed’ number on a particular sitemap, we recommend looking into this further. There could be an error preventing some pages from being indexed or maybe you need more content or links pointing to the content that’s not been indexed yet.

Yoast SEO and XML sitemaps

Because they are so important for your SEO, we’ve added the ability to create your own XML sitemaps in our Yoast SEO plugin. XML sitemaps are available in both the free and premium versions of the plugin.

Yoast SEO creates an XML sitemap for your website automatically. Click on ‘SEO’ in the sidebar of your WordPress install and then select the ‘Features’ tab:

In this screen, you can enable or disable the different XML sitemaps for your website. Also, you can click on the question mark to expand the information and see more possibilities, like checking your XML sitemap in your browser:

You can exclude content types from your XML sitemap in the ‘Search Appearance’ tab. If you select ‘no’ as an answer to ‘show X in the search results?’ then this type of content won’t be included in the XML sitemap.

Read more about excluding content types here.

Check your own XML sitemap!

Now you’ve read the whole post, you know how important it is to have an XML sitemap, because having one can really help your site’s SEO. Google can easily access your most important pages and posts if you add the right URLs to your XML sitemap. Google will also be able to find updated content easily, so they know when a URL needs to be crawled again. Lastly, adding your XML sitemap to Google Search Console helps Google find your sitemap fast and it allows you to check for sitemap errors.

Now go check your own XML sitemap and make sure you’re doing it right!

Read more: WordPress SEO tutorial: definite guide to higher ranking »

The post What is an XML sitemap and why should you have one? appeared first on Yoast.