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WordPress Plugins – 6 that You Must Have on Your Site

Posted by on Aug 13, 2018 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Plugins – 6 that You Must Have on Your Site

BlogWordPress is perhaps the number one Content Marketing System (CMS) and the most preferred blogging platform. WordPress stays at the top of all choices for web development companies for so many reasons. The easy-to-use nature of WordPress in terms of customization and personalization has handed the platform the leading role among its competitors.

WordPress Plug-ins

In a bid to ensure that users personalize and customize their WordPress blog to suit their needs, the platform allows you to install add-ons with those specific features you want. For instance, you can incorporate stylish social media icons, embed YouTube videos, and add a few other SEO features to your WordPress blog. These add-ons are called plug-ins and are available in thousands, depending on your choice and preference.

WordPress plug-ins are designed by third-parties and most of them are tested and verified by WordPress developers. Most of these plug-ins are available on the plug-in tab on your WordPress dashboard. Regardless of the feature you want, you can always find a plug-in that will do just that. Some of these plug-ins are free while some are premium. Most times, WordPress plug-ins come with both free and premium features which means that you can purchase the premium license of you need extra/in-depth features of a particular plug-in.

6 Must-Have Plug-ins on Your WordPress Site

As earlier said, there are thousands of WordPress plug-ins each with their own distinct feature. Depending on the feature you are looking for, there are plug-in options that will do just that. Do you need a plug-in that floats a social media icon on your page or the one that places these icons at the side of the screen? There are lots of options at the plug-in directory.

Despite these enormous options, there are some must-have plug-ins for every WordPress sites. Apart from other special features, you may need, there are some plug-ins you must have regardless of what you use your blog for. So, what are the plug-ins and why must you have them?

1.     W3 Total Cache

Everybody hates a website that takes forever to load. Caching speeds up website page-load speed by capturing and creating static pages of your website pages and feeding them to users. This means that your server will not have to load scripts from your database every time a user visits. Rather, a copy of your page is saved and displayed to users whenever they visit. Apart from this, cache system helps to lift some weight off your bandwidth usage, thereby preventing your site from crashing in the long run.

A website page speed is also one of the major factors considered for Search Engine ranking. The faster your website page speed, the higher you rank. Therefore, apart from the fact that a user may become annoyed with a slow website, search engines also ignore slow websites in their ranking system.

W3 Total Cache is one of the few WordPress plug-ins that are highly essential for your blog. Although there are tons of plug-ins that offer the same service, W3 Cache plug-in stands out. With about 1 million active users and up to 4,000 users’ review, W3 cache plug-in is arguably the best caching plug-in for your WordPress blog. W3 Cache plug-in also incorporates the Content Delivery Network (CDN) caching which is vital for content marketing.

2.     Contact Form 7

Traffic generation is one of the key problems for most blog owners. While it may easy to generate traffic from your social media and search engines, retaining your visitors is another factor to consider. When a user visits your website, how do you ensure that such a user gets notifications whenever you publish a new post?

Likewise, one of the success keys for blog owners is to have a database of their visitors. This will ensure that they keep in touch with these users and turn them into frequent, returning visitors. Especially if you sell products or render services from your blog, keeping a record of your visitors is more than important.

Contact Form 7 WordPress plug-in offers an easy and hassle-free way of creating your desired contact form in order to collect the information about your visitors. Contact form 7 is a free WordPress plug-in that is actively used on over 1 million WordPress sites and attracts an average of a 4.5-star rating from about 1,400 users. This plug-in allows you stylishly create a contact form and collect users’ details with ease.

3.     Yoast SEO

One of the greatest advantages of using WordPress is its excellent SEO support. WordPress platform is designed using a simple programming language that is easily decoded by Search Engine Robots. Still, WordPress allows users to customize their SEO features by installing add-ons that will further improve their web presence in search engines.

Of all the SEO plug-ins available, Yoast SEO plug-in is extraordinary as it incorporates every feature you need to fully optimize your blog for search engines. Yoast SEO plug-in boosts of over 1 million active downloads and an average of 4.9-star reviews from over 21,000 users. So, what makes Yoast so special?

Yoast SEO plug-in allows you to create a stylish XML sitemap that you can submit to Google and Bing webmaster console. This sitemap is automatically purged and search engine robots are pinged whenever you publish a new post. What’s more, Yoast SEO plug-in allows you to set colonial URL in order to avoid duplicate contents.

Yoast SEO plug-in also allows you to set custom Meta details and keywords for each post. Premium features also allow you to set more than one Keywords per post, thereby increasing your chances on search engine results.

4.     WordFence

BlogPerhaps, security is a very vital component if you own a WordPress website. People use WordPress for different purposes; some use it to store and share vital documents, some incorporate payment options for e-commerce purposes, while some use it to share information about their hobby. Regardless of your purpose of owning a WordPress blog, the security of your blog should be your topmost priority.

Hackers can penetrate and take over your blog using different tactics. Not only this, spammers and robots can take charge of your website if it is not protected. This can cause our website to consume more resources than expected and affect your web host.

Wordfence is a top WordPress security designed to add an extra layer of security to your site. Wordfence blocks malicious traffic and log-in attempts, thereby preventing unhealthy traffic and robots from draining your host memory and resources. The plug-in also prevents Brute Force attacks by limited the total login attempts. Furthermore, WordFence provides a real-time IP blacklist which blocks malicious IPs from accessing your website thereby reducing the workload on your site.

With over 1 million active installations and over 3,000 happy users, WordFence is a must-have for your WordPress blog.

5.     Redirection

Too much error can reduce your site performance and create an impression of ingenuity to the search engines. 301 errors mean the particular link has moved permanently while 404 error means that the particular link no longer exists on the server. There are also other error codes like 302 (move temporarily), 503 (server unable to process request), and so on.

Whenever you delete a particular page on your website or you change the URL, a 404 error is displayed when visitors try to access the site. If users encounter one or more 404 errors on your site, they may lose their hope and trust in your blog. More so, it can cause a crawl error in your search engine consoles. Unfixed errors and broken links can reduce the trust of your readers and even search engine in your website and can cost you a lot of traffic.

Redirection is a free WordPress plug-in and has been in existence for over 10 years. The plug-in allows you to manage all 301 and 404 errors on your website. It is normal for you to delete some pages or modify them to suit a particular purpose. However, it is unhealthy to leave the link broken. With this plug-in, you can either permanently or temporarily redirect your broken links to another page on the website, meaning that users who visit those links will be redirected to another page.

Likewise, Redirection plug-in provides conditional redirection. How does this work? You can choose to redirect some of your visitors based on some parameters, such as login status, browser, cookies, referral, and custom filter.

6.     Elementor Page Builder

Elementor Page Builder is another WordPress plug-in that allows you to build a custom, responsive, and page on your blog. This plug-in contains several free templates from which you can choose from. More so, it offers a live edit which means that you can edit and see your new page simultaneously without needing to press any preview button.

The major features of this Page Builder include Box Shadows, Animations, Hover Effects, Background Overlays, Shape Dividers, Headline Effects, Gradient Backgrounds and much more. The plug-in also boosts of 28 free widgets which include Heading, Image, Text editor, Icon box, Carousels, and so on.

Elementor Page Builder plug-in is currently in use by over 1 million WordPress users and has a staggering 5 maximum stars review from 800 users.

Conclusion

WordPress is arguably the most popular Content Marketing and blogging system as of today. Most web designers prefer WordPress because it is easy to install, design, and set up. The plug-in feature allows you to install and customize your WordPress blog to your taste. Discussed in this article are 6 must-have WordPress plug-ins. You should try them out!

How to optimize your Google My Business listing

Posted by on Aug 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to optimize your Google My Business listing

We all know the immense importance of local search. It’s about dominating the SERPs for search queries which are closely tied to the user’s location, therefore driving customers to your business with a user intent that is very tangible and very immediate.

In terms of local searches, Google will rank your business based on relevance, distance and prominence. Your Google My Business listing plays a vital part in boosting your rankings for local search, as well as cementing your online presence outside of your website.

From our experience, Google My Business listings are definitely not leveraged enough. There is a tendency to set up a listing, verify it and then forget about it. Yet there are so many reasons to ensure you have a fully optimized listing and one that you update regularly. First and foremost, Google My Business profiles are still the most influential factor in local search results.

As if that wasn’t enough, it has never been more important to bolster your presence in the SERPs. SEOs are increasingly facing the woes of the ‘walled garden’, where users are no longer needing to click-through to websites. More often than not, all the information they could possibly need is available in the various features of the SERPs. Although this may be having a detrimental effect on website traffic, it doesn’t mean you can’t leverage the situation. It’s only increased the importance of having a fully optimized GMB profile that will rank highly and generate business.

With a top-notch GMB listing, you can rank highly in local packs, significantly boosting visibility and therefore engagement. It will also help bolster your appearance in Google Maps results, plus you can take advantage of Google reviews.  And just in case you need another reason, the service is free. There are not many marketing tools quite as powerful as your Google My Business listing that are also completely free of charge. You’d be mad not to take advantage of this.

Set up and basics

Before we get onto the really juicy stuff, it’s worth covering the basics. Some of these may seem obvious but you would not believe how many times we see the same simple mistakes over and over.

Claim and verify

The first step is to figure out whether or not you already have a GMB listing. This is important because duplicated listings can occur and are just confusing for everyone involved. Even if you don’t recall having created one, a loving customer may have done it for you, or a rogue colleague being far too efficient. Simply do a quick Google search of your business (also try this in Google Maps) and see whether a profile pops up for your business. If so, you’ll need to claim it as your business. If not, you’ll need to create a new one. Once done, you’ll need to verify your ownership – Google will send a friendly postcard to your business address with a code. You’ll then need to enter the code to verify it. It’s all very MI5.

Fill out information

Once verified, don’t just stop there. Fill out all relevant information and ensure it is accurate and kept up to date. There is nothing more frustrating than a GMB listing with the wrong opening times: cue angry customers who could have had an extra hour in bed. Also, remember to add any special hours or holiday times.

Be sure to keep the business name as the business name – don’t go shoehorning any sneaky keywords in or you’ll be at risk of violating Google’s guidelines. Write an accurate and enticing description in line with Google’s guidelines and choose a relevant category. This can be a sticking point for many businesses who feel that none of the categories accurately describe the business. It can be very frustrating. Luckily, there’s a relatively new feature called ‘Services’ where you can add products and services to your business, which will help with the categorization process both from a search engine and user perspective.

Make sure you pay attention to NAP consistency – in other words, that your name, address and phone number, as well as any other information, are all consistent throughout the web. Check other directories and also your own website. It’s a simple concept but mistakes are surprisingly common and it can make a big difference to your local rankings.

Photos

Again, an often overlooked aspect of your GMB listing and one that can make a very noticeable difference to click-through rates. People are visual beings and some snazzy photos will help build an overall positive image of your business. Include a logo, a shot of your premises if applicable and any other photos which you think will help to effectively promote your business. Ensure they are professional, appealing and kept up to date. Think about what might help push a customer to a buying decision.

Be sure to follow Google’s best practices in terms of formatting; the recommended specifications are as follows:

Format: JPG or PNG
Size: Between 10 KB and 5 MB
Minimum resolution: 720 px tall, 720 px wide
Quality: The photo should be in focus and well lit, and have no significant alterations or excessive use of filters. In other words, the image should represent reality.

You’ll see throughout your Dashboard that Google makes a point of reminding you about photos: “Businesses with recent photos typically receive more clicks to their websites.” They couldn’t make it much clearer than that – if Google says it, then do it.

As of January 2018, you can now add videos to a listing. It’s not something we’ve seen many businesses take advantage of, yet we all know how popular video content is. Any videos you add will appear within the photos section. Just be sure to follow Google’s video guidelines.

Reviews

Google reviews have been around for a long time and it’s no secret how influential they are. In fact, positive reviews make 68% of consumers trust a local business more. Don’t just sit back and wait for the reviews to pour in. Even if you’ve got the most earth-shatteringly awesome business, people still need a gentle nudge towards the review section. Actively encourage reviews because if you don’t ask, you don’t get.

Raking in those positive reviews isn’t enough. It’s also good practice to respond to reviews, especially negative ones. Even if a review seems unfounded or overly rude, be sure to keep your cool and respond in a calm and collected manner.

Google Posts

A heavily underused feature of Google My Business profiles is the Google Posts section and it works in a similar way to posting on social media. Posts are displayed as mini updates in a carousel as part of your knowledge panel, although they expire after seven days. As with a standard social media post, you can add media, some copy and a link to a website. It’s always a good idea to include an image but be careful of them being cropped within Google Maps. It’s therefore worth checking how the image formats on both desktop and mobile.

You can use Google Posts for a range of different functions, but it may be helpful to use the four official post types as a guide: What’s New, Events, Offers, Products. The ‘What’s New’ post type could be populated with exciting announcements, general updates and your latest articles. Don’t forget to add a CTA to your posts to encourage engagement and conversions.

Google posts are very prominent in Google Search so if you’ve got something important to say, then say it!

Monitor

Did you know that anyone can suggest an edit to your profile? That includes your worst enemy trying to sabotage your business. It’s therefore essential that you keep an eye on your profile and monitor any suggested changes, even if you don’t have any enemies. It could be a well-meaning customer who just doesn’t have a clue. Or it could be an internet troll. Either way, business owners are not always notified.

Users can also answer questions about your business, which may be a scary prospect for some. Google likes user-generated content as it’s all part of building a user-centric community. Just make sure that you’re keeping a wary eye out.

Insights

This is one of the most important sections of your GMB listing. It’s all very well having an all singing and all dancing listing, but the fun starts when you see how many conversions it’s generating. It’s pretty standard practice to track all key events and conversions on a website itself, but the conversions generated by the GMB listing are so frequently overlooked. Yet your GMB listing is often the first port of call for customers looking for a phone number to get in touch.

And you know the best bit about Insights? You can even find out whether customers found you via a direct brand search or via a ‘discovery’ search. This information is vital in terms of reporting, as it allows you to see how successful your SEO work has been in terms of propelling your GMB profile to the top of that local pack for key search terms.

Find out handy information like whether your GMB profile was viewed on Search or Maps, as well as customer actions, such as website visits, direction requests and phone calls. You can also see how successful your photos have been in comparison to other businesses like yours. These comparison graphs are great for pitting yourself against competitors to see where you may be falling behind on the optimization front. It also enables you to do a bit of testing with which photos work best for views and click-throughs. The Insights section is a treasure trove of information, so pay lots of attention to it.

Optimizing your Google My Business listing is not rocket science. It’s very straightforward and simple changes can have a profoundly positive effect on your SEO. Given it’s an area so often overlooked by other businesses, there really is a whole wealth of ranking opportunity up for grabs.

How to Win Some Local Customers Back from Amazon this Holiday Season

Posted by on Aug 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Win Some Local Customers Back from Amazon this Holiday Season

How to Win Some Local Customers Back from Amazon this Holiday Season

Posted by MiriamEllis

Your local business may not be able to beat Amazon at the volume of their own game of convenient shipping this holiday season, but don’t assume it’s a game you can’t at least get into!

This small revelation took me by surprise last month while I was shopping for a birthday gift for my brother. Like many Americans, I’m feeling growing qualms about the economic and societal impacts of putting my own perceived convenience at the top of a list of larger concerns like ensuring fair business practices, humane working conditions, and sustainable communities.

So, when I found myself on the periphery of an author talk at the local independent bookstore and the book happened to be one I thought my brother would enjoy, I asked myself a new question:

“I wonder if this shop would ship?”

There was no signage indicating such a service, but I asked anyway, and was delighted to discover that they do. Minutes later, the friendly staff was wrapping up a signed copy of the volume in nice paper and popping a card in at no extra charge. Shipping wasn’t free, but I walked away feeling a new kind of happiness in wishing my sibling a “Happy Birthday” this year.

And that single transaction not only opened my eyes to the fact that I don’t have to remain habituated to gift shopping at Amazon or similar online giants for remote loved ones, but it also inspired this article.

Let’s talk about this now, while your local business, large or small, still has time to make plans for the holidays. Let’s examine this opportunity together, with a small study, a checklist, and some inspiration for seasonal success.

What do people buy most at the holidays and who’s shipping?

According to Statista, the categories in the following chart are the most heavily shopped during the holiday season. I selected a large town in California with a population of 60,000+, and phoned every business in these categories that was ranking in the top 10 of Google’s Local Finder view. This comprised both branded chains and independently-owned businesses. I asked each business if I came in and purchased items whether they could ship them to a friend.

Category

% Offer Shipping

Notes

Clothing

80%

Some employees weren’t sure. Outlets of larger store brands couldn’t ship. Some offered shipping only if you were a member of their loyalty program. Small independents consistently offered shipping. Larger brands promoted shopping online.

Electronics

10%

Larger stores all stressed going online. The few smaller stores said they could ship, but made it clear that it was an unusual request.

Games/Toys/Dolls etc.

25%

Large stores promote online shopping. One said they would ship some items but not all. Independents did not ship.

Food/Liquor

20%

USPS prohibits shipping alcohol. I surveyed grocery, gourmet, and candy stores. None of the grocery stores shipped and only two candy stores did.

Books

50%

Only two bookstores in this town, both independent. One gladly ships. The other had never considered it.

Jewelry

60%

Chains require online shopping. Independents more open to shipping but some didn’t offer it.

Health/Beauty

20%

With a few exceptions, cosmetic and fitness-related stores either had no shipping service or had either limited or full online shopping.

Takeaways from the study
Most of the chains promote online shopping vs. shopping in their stores, which didn’t surprise me, but which strikes me as opportunity being left on the table.
I was pleasantly surprised by the number of independent clothing and jewelry stores that gladly offered to ship gift purchases.
I was concerned by how many employees initially didn’t know whether or not their employer offered shipping, indicating a lack of adequate training.
Finally, I’ll add that I’ve physically visited at least 85% of these businesses in the past few years and have never been told by any staff member about their shipping services, nor have I seen any in-store signage promoting such an offer.

My overarching takeaway from the experiment is that, though all of us are now steeped in the idea that consumers love the convenience of shipping, a dominant percentage of physical businesses are still operating as though this realization hasn’t fully hit in… or that it can be safely ignored.

To put it another way, if Amazon has taken some of your customers, why not take a page from their playbook and get shipping?

The nitty-gritty of brick-and-mortar shipping

62% of consumers say the reason they’d shop offline is because they want to see, touch, and try out items. – RetailDive

There’s no time like the holidays to experiment with a new campaign. I sat down with a staff member at the bookstore where I bought my brother’s gift and asked her some questions about how they manage shipping. From that conversation, and from some additional research, I came away with the following checklist for implementing a shipping offer at your brick-and-mortar locations:

✔ Determine whether your business category is one that lends itself to holiday gift shopping.

✔ Train core or holiday temp staff to package and ship gifts.

✔ Craft compelling messaging surrounding your shipping offer, perhaps promoting pride in the local community vs. pride in Amazon. Don’t leave it to customers to shop online on autopilot — help them realize there’s a choice.

✔ Cover your store and website with messaging highlighting this offering, at least two months in advance of the holidays.

✔ In October, run an in-store campaign in which cashiers verbally communicate your holiday shipping service to every customer.

✔ Sweeten the offer with a dedication of X% of sales to a most popular local cause/organization/institution.

✔ Promote your shipping service via your social accounts.

✔ Make an effort to earn a mention of your shipping service in local print and radio news.

✔ Set clear dates for when the last purchases can be made to reach their destinations in time for the holidays.

✔ Coordinate with the USPS, FedEx, or UPS to have them pick up packages from your location daily.

✔ Determine the finances of your shipping charges. You may need to experiment with whether free shipping would put too big of a hole in your pocket, or whether it’s necessary to compete with online giants at the holidays.

✔ Track the success of this campaign to discover ROI.

Not every business is a holiday shopping destination, and online shopping may simply have become too dominant in some categories to overcome the Amazon habit. But, if you determine you’ve got an opportunity here, designate 2018 as a year to experiment with shipping with a view towards making refinements in the new year.

You may discover that your customers so appreciate the lightbulb moment of being able to support local businesses when they want something mailed that shipping is a service you’ll want to instate year-round. And not just for gifts… consumers are already signaling at full strength that they like having merchandise shipped to themselves!

Adding the lagniappe: Something extra

For the past couple of years, economists have reported that Americans are spending more on restaurants than on groceries. I see a combination of a desire for experiences and convenience in that, don’t you? It has been joked that someone needs to invent food that takes pictures of itself for social sharing! What can you do to capitalize on this desire for ease and experience in your business?

Cards, carols, and customs are wreathed in the “joy” part of the holidays, but how often do customers genuinely feel the enjoyment when they are shopping these days? True, a run to the store for a box of cereal may not require aesthetic satisfaction, but shouldn’t we be able to expect some pleasure in our purchasing experiences, especially when we are buying gifts that are meant to spread goodwill?

When my great-grandmother got tired from shopping at the Emporium in San Francisco, one of the superabundant sales clerks would direct her to the soft surroundings of the ladies’ lounge to refresh her weary feet on an automatic massager. She could lunch at a variety of nicely appointed in-store restaurants at varied prices. Money was often tight, but she could browse happily in the “bargain basement”. There were holiday roof rides for the kiddies, and holiday window displays beckoning passersby to stop and gaze in wonder. Great-grandmother, an immigrant from Ireland, got quite a bit of enjoyment out of the few dollars in her purse.

It may be that those lavish days of yore are long gone, taking the pleasure of shopping with them, and that we’re doomed to meager choosing between impersonal online shopping or impersonal offline warehouses … but I don’t think so.

The old Emporium was huge, with multiple floors and hundreds of employees … but it wasn’t a “big box store”.

There’s still opportunity for larger brands to differentiate themselves from their warehouse-lookalike competitors. Who says retail has to look like a fast food chain or a mobile phone store?

And as for small, independent businesses? I can’t open my Twitter feed nowadays without encountering a new and encouraging story about the rise of localism and local entrepreneurialism.

It’s a good time to revive the ethos of the lagniappe — the Louisiana custom of giving patrons a little something extra with their purchase, something that will make it worth it to get off the computer and head into town for a fun, seasonal experience. Yesterday’s extra cookie that made up the baker’s dozen could be today’s enjoyable atmosphere, truly expert salesperson, chair to sit down in when weary, free cup of spiced cider on a wintry day… or the highly desirable service of free shipping. Chalk up the knowledge of this need as one great thing Amazon has gifted you.

In 2017, our household chose to buy as many holiday presents as possible from Main Street for our nearby family and friends. We actually enjoyed the experience. In 2018, we plan to see how far our town can take us in terms of shipping gifts to loved ones we won’t have a chance to see. Will your business be ready to serve our newfound need?

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Search trends 2018: what can marketers learn?

Posted by on Aug 11, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Search trends 2018: what can marketers learn?

Search trends 2018: what can marketers learn?

Google’s continued dominance as a search giant was evident in its third quarter earnings call, as it grew advertising revenue 18% year over year to $19.8 billion (Alphabet, as a total company, wasn’t too bad either, up 20% in total). Total paid clicks grew 33% year over year, while the cost per click dropped 11%.

So, what does this all mean? Simply put, Google is still a dominating force for both consumers, and therefore advertisers. This is an undeniable fact, but what is up for debate is how consumers and brands interact with the results Google returns to consumers.

Paid and organic increase

There have been significant updates over time in an effort to keep up with changing consumer and advertiser demands. This year so far, voice search, local listings, and mobile indexing have been big topics.

In an effort to monitor these changes, I have been tracking the search results activity for a number of brands over the past 9 years. I took 50 terms across five verticals to see how many times the same brand appears in paid and organic listings. The findings this year are very interesting.

Overall, it is clear that between Google’s changes (both algorithmically and an increasing number of paid listings), as well as each brand’s growing focus on search engine marketing, the amount of companies that appeared in both paid and organic listings reached its highest point in 9 years at 27%.

This was driven by the offset in categories going in two separate directions. Retail has gone down the last two consecutive years; I believe this is owing to an increase in Google shopping results, non-branded paid search, ROI challenges, retailers’ experiences, and of course, Amazon.

While retail is at a low, travel has increased consistently over time. I believe this category is growing as a result of direct booking on travel sites that comes with price guarantees.

The tech category also saw a spike. A big contributor to this trend is the branding that is occurring in the industry. Consumers aren’t just searching for smart speakers, they are specifically searching for Alexa and Google Home, for example.

These companies have done a good job circumventing shopping at the category level, and have jumped directly to branded terms. We’ve never seen a category have greater than 50% overlap of paid and organic brands listed. Given this trend, this year technology spiked to 68%.

Appearance in search results

In addition to brands balancing their paid and organic results, I also wanted to start watching how often four paid search ads, shopping listings and local listings appear in search results. Google has been offering these different ‘sections’ of the search results page in an effort to answer a consumer’s query with the information they might be looking for.

 

I’ve identified two major takeaways from this. First is the decrease of listings with four paid search ads. Year-over-year, every category is down, with the exception of the financial services industry, which makes sense given the competitive nature of this category and the high value of the products. These keywords have the highest CPCs of any category. So naturally, brands are willing to pay and Google is willing to take their money.

Shopping ads are fairly flat across these categories. They are prevalent for verticals where products can be purchased, and are not displayed in the other categories. Shopping is incredibly important for the retail vertical and I expect this trend to stay the same as the retail war with Amazon and consumers wages on.

 

The second trend is one that is not a surprise for BrandMuscle given our focus on local, but might be for many who are catching on to the importance of local in the mobile world. Local listings are now shown across all verticals and growing in key sectors like retail. This is extremely important to pay attention to for two reasons:

As consumers shift to mobile, they expect their devices to know where they are and show relevant local listings
These listings offer the opportunity for brands to see free traffic.

What can brands take from this?

So what are the key items brands need to think about with these trends?

Local listings are growing and demand attention. Do some searches for your category terms. Are local listings being shown? If so, are you included in those listings? These are ranked in two ways:

The distance of the location to the searcher
The validity of data across platforms – this is the one you can control.

Are your locations name, address, and phone number accurate across Google, Facebook, Yelp, and others? You’d be surprised how often these are incorrect. Spend some time focusing on cleaning up this data and monitor your results – I think you’ll be pleasantly surprised.

It’s important to consider your integrated strategy for both paid and organic search. Brands are owning more and more of the search real estate. It is vital that you have a strategy that does not give up ground to these brands, but focuses on your core strengths and differentiators. For example, perhaps you can’t afford to buy the keyword ‘car insurance’, but you can own ‘SR-22 insurance’ as a term, given your company’s key strengths.

Keep a close eye on Google’s changes. Google has been very active in staying ahead of consumer expectations and technology. This includes switching to mobile indexing and launching new tools for Google My Business, among other items. This requires focus and planning for businesses to adopt these changes and stay best-in-class.

Search is one of the most important tools in a marketer’s toolbox. These trends and feature changes make it an exciting place to work and spend time. I look forward to watching how brands react to these trends and monitoring more changes in the future.

WordPress: What is Gutenberg?

Posted by on Aug 11, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress: What is Gutenberg?

WordPress: What is Gutenberg?

You might have felt some tremors in the WordPress world. There is something brewing. Something called Gutenberg. It’s the new editing environment in WordPress and the impact it’s going to have will be massive. Some welcome it with open arms, while others are critical. There is also a large group of WordPress users who don’t have a clue what’s going on. Here, we’ll introduce Gutenberg.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

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Gutenberg is the first step for a bright new future for WordPress

It’s something many people often gloss over, but Gutenberg is not just a new editor for WordPress. It’s the start of something much bigger. Gutenberg lays the groundwork for incredibly exciting developments. Gutenberg is stage one of a three-pronged roll-out strategy. First, WordPress will get a redeveloped editor, after that the project will focus on page templates and in the final stage WordPress will become a full site customizer. You can imagine, this gives us endless possibilities and it is a necessary step to keep WordPress the #1 CMS for years to come.

Today, we’re focusing on stage one. The new Gutenberg editor will land in WordPress 5.0 sometime this year. We’re getting closer to the launch and loads of people are working around the clock to turn this editor into a solid and stable product. We have a big team working on it as well, both on the editor itself and our integration with it. Very shortly, we’ll be able to show you the first results of their hard work! So keep an eye on our plugin releases.

Opening Gutenberg for the first time

When you open the new editor for the first time you’re probably looking for the interface we have all grown accustomed to. That, however, is gone. We now have a very clean writing environment, with great typography and lots of space for your content to shine. On the right-hand side, you can open the settings — per document or per block — by clicking on the cog icon. Clicking on the three dots beside that cog lets you switch to the code editor so you can make your edits on the code side of things.

Now, seeing this screen might cause you to turn around and run — please don’t. We all know people have a hard time changing from one thing that they know well to something new. Both Marieke and Willemien had reservations regarding writing and editing in Gutenberg.

People find it hard to accept change when they don’t see why it’s necessary to change something that was working ok. Well, in this case, it’s relatively easy to understand: to get ready for the future, WordPress needs to adapt. Gutenberg introduces concepts and technologies that help make WordPress future proof. Most visible right now? The concept of a block.

In Gutenberg, everything is a block

Gutenberg introduces blocks. Previously, your content lived inside one big HTML file and for every enhancement there had to be something new: shortcodes, custom post types, embeds, widgets and the like. All with their quirky interfaces and weird behavior. Now, you can build your content precisely like you make a LEGO set: all from one box, following a standardized and straightforward set of instructions. In the animated gif below, I’ll quickly show you some blocks and add an image as a block:

By using this blocks concept, you can now determine what every part of your content is. Not only that, you can define their specifications per block. So, for instance, you can turn a single line of text into a quote by changing its block type. After that, it gets a new set of options that you can set. You can change the type of quote, its placement, text decoration et cetera. This goes for all blocks. There are blocks for, among other things:

Paragraphs
Lists
Quotes
Headings
Code
Images
Galleries
Shortcodes
Columns
Buttons
Widgets
And a ton of embeds

Every block you make can get its own layout and settings. And you can save these as reusable blocks!

Gutenberg

Reusable blocks

One of the coolest things about Gutenberg is reusable blocks. Think of these as a completed block that you can save along with its settings. For instance, if you’ve made a cool looking layout for the intro of your blog articles, you can save this as a reusable block. After that, you only have to go to Add Block -> Saved to pick your reusable intro block. How cool is that!

This is an incredibly basic example, but you can think of a lot more complex uses for this! How about a complete gallery where you only have to drop in the images. Or a multi-column article template with great typography for killer blog posts. And of course, developers can hook into this as well, so there are bound to arrive some great blocks that’ll make our lives so much easier. There is no limit to this. This is all made possible because we have full control over all individual blocks.

Yoast SEO and Gutenberg

We’ve been heavily investing in Gutenberg since the beginning. We have several developers that are helping to improve Gutenberg full time. Also, we have been actively researching how, why and where we should integrate Yoast SEO inside Gutenberg. Even for us, the possibilities are endless. We won’t be able to build everything we’re dreaming of right away, as we’re focusing on giving you the best possible basic integration first. But, keep in mind, there is a lot more to come from us!

Let The Gut Guys explain Gutenberg for you

Two of the most active Yoasters in the Gutenberg development team is our UX designer Tim and software architect Anton. These guys are so passionate about Gutenberg that we’re featuring the dynamic duo in an exclusive video series called The Gut Guys — Gut as in ‘good’. They will show you around the Gutenberg editing experience and explain the why and how of the new editor. We’re regularly adding new installments. Watch it and subscribe!

Need more? Check this essential talk

We know thinking and talking about Gutenberg can be tiring, but that’s mostly because we are keeping those thoughts in the now. We should most definitely look at the broader picture and see where Gutenberg can take WordPress. To explain that, I’d like to ask you to invest 45 minutes of your time in watching this essential talk by Morten Rand-Hendriksen.

Conclusion to what is Gutenberg?

There’s no beating around the bush: Gutenberg is coming. We’re getting ready for it and you should as well. The new editor will probably take some getting used to and it might break some stuff, but in the end, we will get a much more streamlined environment with a lot of cool possibilities down the road.

The most important thing you can do right now is installing the plugin. Play with it, test it, break it. Add every issue you find to Gutenberg’s GitHub: things that don’t work or should work better. We need as many eyes on this as we can, so we need you. Don’t just talk and yell: contribute! Your contributions will make or break this project.

Read more: Gutenberg: Concepts for integrating Yoast SEO »

The post WordPress: What is Gutenberg? appeared first on Yoast.

What Do Dolphins Eat? Lessons from How Kids Search

Posted by on Aug 11, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What Do Dolphins Eat? Lessons from How Kids Search

What Do Dolphins Eat? Lessons from How Kids Search

Posted by willcritchlow

Kids may search differently than adults, but there are some interesting insights from how they use Google that can help deepen our understanding of searchers in general. Comfort levels with particular search strategies, reading only the bold words, taking search suggestions and related searches as answers — there’s a lot to dig into. In this week’s slightly different-from-the-norm Whiteboard Friday, we welcome the fantastic Will Critchlow to share lessons from how kids search.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hi, everyone. I’m Will Critchlow, founder and CEO of Distilled, and this week’s Whiteboard Friday is a little bit different. I want to talk about some surprising and interesting and a few funny facts that I learnt when I was reading some research that Google did about how kids search for information. So this isn’t super actionable. This is not about tactics of improving your website particularly. But I think we get some insights — they were studying kids aged 7 to 11 — by looking at how kids interact. We can see some reflections or some ideas about how there might be some misconceptions out there about how adults search as well. So let’s dive into it.

What do dolphins eat?

I’ve got this “What do dolphins eat?” because this was the first question that the researchers gave to the kids to say sit down in front of a search box, go. They tell this little anecdote, a little bit kind of soul-destroying, of this I think it was a seven-year-old child who starts typing dolphin, D-O-L-F, and then presses Enter, and it was like sadly there’s no dolphins, which hopefully they found him some dolphins. But a lot of the kids succeeded at this task.

Different kinds of searchers

The researchers divided the ways that the kids approached it up into a bunch of different categories. They found that some kids were power searchers. Some are what they called “developing.” They classified some as “distracted.” But one that I found fascinating was what they called visual searchers. I think they found this more commonly among the younger kids who were perhaps a little bit less confident reading and writing. It turns out that, for almost any question you asked them, these kids would turn first to image search.

So for this particular question, they would go to image search, typically just type “dolphin” and then scroll and go looking for pictures of a dolphin eating something. Then they’d find a dolphin eating a fish, and they’d turn to the researcher and say “Look, dolphins eat fish.” Which, when you think about it, I quite like in an era of fake news. This is the kids doing primary research. They’re going direct to the primary source. But it’s not something that I would have ever really considered, and I don’t know if you would. But hopefully this kind of sparks some thought and some insights and discussions at your end. They found that there were some kids who pretty much always, no matter what you asked them, would always go and look for pictures.

Kids who were a bit more developed, a bit more confident in their reading and writing would often fall into one of these camps where they were hopefully focusing on the attention. They found a lot of kids were obviously distracted, and I think as adults this is something that we can relate to. Many of the kids were not really very interested in the task at hand. But this kind of path from distracted to developing to power searcher is an interesting journey that I think totally applies to grown-ups as well.

In practice: [wat do dolfin eat]

So I actually, after I read this paper, went and did some research on my kids. So my kids were in roughly this age range. When I was doing it, my daughter was eight and my son was five and a half. Both of them interestingly typed “wat do dolfin eat” pretty much like this. They both misspelled “what,” and they both misspelled “dolphin.” Google was fine with that. Obviously, these days this is plenty close enough to get the result you wanted. Both of them successfully answered the question pretty much, but both of them went straight to the OneBox. This is, again, probably unsurprising. You can guess this is probably how most people search.

“Oh, what’s a cephalopod?” The path from distracted to developing

So there’s a OneBox that comes up, and it’s got a picture of a dolphin. So my daughter, a very confident reader, she loves reading, “wat do dolfin eat,” she sat and she read the OneBox, and then she turned to me and she said, “It says they eat fish and herring. Oh, what’s a cephalopod?” I think this was her going from distracted into developing probably. To start off with, she was just answering this question because I had asked her to. But then she saw a word that she didn’t know, and suddenly she was curious. She had to kind of carefully type it because it’s a slightly tricky word to spell. But she was off looking up what is a cephalopod, and you could see the engagement shift from “I’m typing this because Dad has asked me to and it’s a bit interesting I guess” to “huh, I don’t know what a cephalopod is, and now I’m doing my own research for my own reasons.” So that was interesting.

“Dolphins eat fish, herring, killer whales”: Reading the bold words

My son, as I said, typed something pretty similar, and he, at the point when he was doing this, was at the stage of certainly capable of reading, but generally would read out loud and a little bit halting. What was fascinating on this was he only read the bold words. He read it out loud, and he didn’t read the OneBox. He just read the bold words. So he said to me, “Dolphins eat fish, herring, killer whales,” because killer whales, for some reason, was bolded. I guess it was pivoting from talking about what dolphins eat to what killer whales eat, and he didn’t read the context. This cracked him up. So he thought that was ridiculous, and isn’t it funny that Google thinks that dolphins eat killer whales.

That is similar to some stuff that was in the original research, where there were a bunch of common misconceptions it turns out that kids have and I bet a bunch of adults have. Most adults probably don’t think that the bold words in the OneBox are the list of the answer, but it does point to the problems with factual-based, truthy type queries where Google is being asked to be the arbiter of truth on some of this stuff. We won’t get too deep into that.

Common misconceptions for kids when searching

1. Search suggestions are answers

But some common misconceptions they found some kids thought that the search suggestions, so the drop-down as you start typing, were the answers, which is bit problematic. I mean we’ve all seen kind of racist or hateful drop-downs in those search queries. But in this particular case, it was mainly just funny. It would end up with things like you start asking “what do dolphins eat,” and it would be like “Do dolphins eat cats” was one of the search suggestions.

2. Related searches are answers

Similar with related searches, which, as we know, are not answers to the question. These are other questions. But kids in particular — I mean, I think this is true of all users — didn’t necessarily read the directions on the page, didn’t read that they were related searches, just saw these things that said “dolphin” a lot and started reading out those. So that was interesting.

How kids search complicated questions

The next bit of the research was much more complex. So they started with these easy questions, and they got into much harder kind of questions. One of them that they asked was this one, which is really quite hard. So the question was, “Can you find what day of the week the vice president’s birthday will fall on next year?” This is a multifaceted, multipart question.

How do they handle complex, multi-step queries?

Most of the younger kids were pretty stumped on this question. Some did manage it. I think a lot of adults would fail at this. So if you just turn to Google, if you just typed this in or do a voice search, this is the kind of thing that Google is almost on the verge of being able to do. If you said something like, “When is the vice president’s birthday,” that’s a question that Google might just be able to answer. But this kind of three-layered thing, what day of the week and next year, make this actually a very hard query. So the kids had to first figure out that, to answer this, this wasn’t a single query. They had to do multiple stages of research. When is the vice president’s birthday? What day of the week is that date next year? Work through it like that.

I found with my kids, my eight-year-old daughter got stuck halfway through. She kind of realized that she wasn’t going to get there in one step, but also couldn’t quite structure the multi-levels needed to get to, but also started getting a bit distracted again. It was no longer about cephalopods, so she wasn’t quite as interested.

Search volume will grow in new areas as Google’s capabilities develop

This I think is a whole area that, as Google’s capabilities develop to answer more complex queries and as we start to trust and learn that those kind of queries can be answered, what we see is that there is going to be increasing, growing search volume in new areas. So I’m going to link to a post I wrote about a presentation I gave about the next trillion searches. This is my hypothesis that essentially, very broad brush strokes, there are a trillion desktop searches a year. There are a trillion mobile searches a year. There’s another trillion out there in searches that we don’t do yet because they can’t be answered well. I’ve got some data to back that up and some arguments why I think it’s about that size. But I think this is kind of closely related to this kind of thing, where you see kids get stuck on these kind of queries.

Incidentally, I’d encourage you to go and try this. It’s quite interesting, because as you work through trying to get the answer, you’ll find search results that appear to give the answer. So, for example, I think there was an About.com page that actually purported to give the answer. It said, “What day of the week is the vice president’s birthday on?” But it had been written a year before, and there was no date on the page. So actually it was wrong. It said Thursday. That was the answer in 2016 or 2017. So that just, again, points to the difference between primary research, the difference between answering a question and truth. I think there’s a lot of kind of philosophical questions baked away in there.

Kids get comfortable with how they search – even if it’s wrong

So we’re going to wrap up with possibly my favorite anecdote of the user research that these guys did, which was that they said some of these kids, somewhere in this developing stage, get very attached to searching in one particular way. I guess this is kind of related to the visual search thing. They find something that works for them. It works once. They get comfortable with it, they’re familiar with it, and they just do that for everything, whether it’s appropriate or not. My favorite example was this one child who apparently looked for information about both dolphins and the vice president of the United States on the SpongeBob SquarePants website, which I mean maybe it works for dolphins, but I’m guessing there isn’t an awful lot of VP information.

So anyway, I hope you’ve enjoyed this little adventure into how kids search and maybe some things that we can learn from it. Drop some anecdotes of your own in the comments. I’d love to hear your experiences and some of the funny things that you’ve learnt along the way. Take care.

Video transcription by Speechpad.com

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WordPress Performance – 4 Easy Ways to Boost the Speed of Your Website

Posted by on Aug 10, 2018 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Performance – 4 Easy Ways to Boost the Speed of Your Website

What is website page speed?

BlogA website page speed is also called “page-load time”. It generally refers to the amount of time required by your website pages to load and become visible once a user requests them. Normally, the recommended standard load time for a web page is 2 seconds. Therefore, if your website pages load slower than this, you should work on optimizing your website.

A poor page-load speed results in a poor users’ experience. It usually causes a higher bounce rate which implies that visitors leave your site quicker than expected. Although you may see it as a win to have a lot of traffic flowing into your website, the fact is that a high bounce rate is counter-productive.

Apart from the fact that a poor page-load speed will make you lose your site visitors, it also affects your website placement on Google search results. This is one of the reasons why you need to act decisively on your website page speed. In this article, we shall discuss the relationship between Google and page speed, factors that determine your website load speed, causes, and solutions to poor website page speed.

Google and page speed

As of April 2010, Google added a new requirement of website page speed to their ranking algorithm. This means that the speed of your website, apart from SEO and other factors, will determine how it will be ranked on Google. At the time of introducing this new rule, fairly about 1% of the total websites were affected. However, with the rate at which new websites are being launched every day, this factor has become competitive and practically the survival of the fittest.

It is important to know that Google and other Search Engines introduce this factor to promote high-quality sites in lieu of low-quality ones. A fast page-load speed gives an impression that your site is standard and usable to visitors.

Therefore, it is even safe to conclude that Google is doing you a favor by encouraging you to optimize your website page speed because a slow website can cost you potential customers who want to load few more pages before placing an order on your product/service. More than half of website visitors lose interest if your website page takes more than 5 seconds to load. So, regardless of what Google or other search engines are forcing you to do, your website page speed should be one of the few things in your mind if you truly want to make the best out of your visitors.

Factors that affect page speed

So, what are the factors that affect/determine a website’s page speed?

1.     Images

Websites with large images, several small images or other flash graphics can lose out to websites with fewer and small images in search engines. This means that the type and volume of the images on your website greatly affect your website page speed. The fact that images do affect website load speed doesn’t mean you should not use images on your website. In fact, most websites rely on images. However, it does mean that you should be cautious about the way you use images.

2.     Scripts

Some websites are designed using complex unresponsive scripts which has a significant effect on the page-load speed. Too many scripts on a website affect the page speed. This is why most web designers avoid using too many Javascripts when designing a professional website. Not only Javascript, the Google Adsense and analytics script codes also add to the weight.

Cascading Style Sheet (CSS) is also another script that adds weight to the website. The implication of having too many scripts is that the server has to look for each of these scripts before the page is fully displayed. Therefore, the more scripts you have, the more time it takes the server to locate these scripts, and ultimately the slower the page-load speed.

Why is your website page-load speed so ridiculous?

BlogAre you wondering the why your WordPress website is too slow in loading? Here are the major causes of a slow WordPress website.

 

 

  • Web Hosting: Your WordPress website can be slow if your website hosting server is not properly configured and this can hurt your website page speed.
  • WordPress Configuration: WordPress configuration includes the HTTP protocols and cache plug-ins you use. If your website is not serving a cached page to your visitors, the pressure of having to fetch each script always will reduce your page speed and cause the website to crash finally.
  • Page Size: Your WordPress site is possibly slow because you have too many images that are not optimized.
  • Bad Plug-ins: Using bad plug-ins, especially those from third-parties can significantly slow down your website page-load speed.
  • External scripts: If your WordPress website uses external scripts, such as JS, CSS, ads, and font loaders, then your page speed can be greatly affected.

How to check your page speed

Luckily, Google itself offers an easy and hassle-free way to check your website page speed. Plus, Google also provides suggestions on how you can improve your page speed which makes it highly beneficial and useful to you. You can check out the Google Pagespeed insight tool here.

Alternatively, there are other tools online that you can use to check your page speed. These tools come with additional features, such as comparison with competitors and a host of others. These tools will help identify the factors affecting your page speed and how you can resolve them.

4 Easy Ways to Boost the Speed of Your Website

Now that you know the meaning of website page speed and aware of the dangers a slow WordPress website can bring, let us consider the 4 easy ways to boost the speed of your website.

1.     Use a Cache Plugin

Without a doubt, WordPress offers you a handful of plug-ins that allow you to personalize your website. There are several cache plugins that you can use to boost your page load time and boost the overall users’ experience.

How caching works

When a user visits your website page, your server retrieves the information in your MySQL database and PHP files, and then deliver it to your visitor in form of HTML content. This is a process usually take a long time but can be reduced significantly by using a caching plug-in.

WordPress caching plugins saves a copy of your webpage once it is visited. This saved copy is presented to other users when they visit the same page. Therefore, your server will not have to go through a whole page generation stress but rather deliver the saved (cached) page.

Another way of using cache is to encourage your users to enable cache or use a cache-enabled browser. The browser saves the webpage when the user first accesses our site. This page is saved in the hard drive of the user and is automatically generated whenever the user tries to access the website again without processing any HTTP request. Therefore, you can deliver fast website speed to your users by using the WordPress cache plug-in and by encouraging your users to enable cache on their browser. Popular WordPress cache plug-ins include W3 total cache, Cache clear, and WP super cache.

2.     Optimize Images

As indicated earlier, images play a significant role in your website’s page speed. Of course, images are an important ingredient of every website. It gives a sense of reality and visual touch to the website. However, too many images are unhealthy for your website, especially when they are not optimized. In order to boost the size of your website, you need to compress the size of your images without compromising their quality. The best way to do it by using WordPress image-optimization plug-ins, such as EWWW Image Optimizer, Compress JPG and PNG, and a host of others. These plug-ins will help you compress the images without compromising their qualities.

3.     Keep WordPress Updated

WordPress is a well-maintained open-source project and is frequently maintained and updated. Each update comes not only with new features but also fix security issues, bugs, and challenges. Likewise, your themes and plug-ins are frequently updated for the same purpose.

As a WordPress site owner, it is your responsibility to keep your WordPress, plug-ins, and themes updated as soon as new versions are released. There is no gain using outdated versions of WordPress and its compatriots when practically new improved versions have been released. Rather, it makes your website slow, unsafe, and vulnerable to attacks and security threats.

4.     Use Excerpts of Your Pages on the Homepage

By default, WordPress displays the full content of each article on the homepage. This ultimately means that your website homepage will load slower than expected. Apart from making the pages load relatively slowly, showing full articles on your homepage can disfigure the entire site layout and users may not even bother to visit and read the remaining article.

In order to increase your page-load speed and encourage users to spend more time on your website exploring full details of your articles, you should display only the excerpts on your homepage instead of the full article. To do this, navigate to Settings >> Reading and select “Summary” instead of full text. Likewise, there are several themes out there that are configured to display only the excerpts of your articles.

Conclusion

A slow website does not only turn users/readers off but also at a disadvantage when it comes to Google ranking. The average standard page-load time for website pages is 2 seconds. If your website loads slower than this, you should consider optimizing it. Discussed in this article are the causes and effects of a slow website as well as 4 easy ways to resolve them.

What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should Canonicalize Your URL

Posted by on Aug 10, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should Canonicalize Your URL

What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should Canonicalize Your URL

What Are Canonical Links And Why You Should
Canonicalize Your URL

When learning how to best optimize your website for search engines, there seem to have a new jargon or buzzword created every few months and is thrown at you expecting you to understand what it means.

One of the SEO buzzwords we’re looking at today is “Canonicalization”. While this jargon isn’t exactly new, it’s definitely a bit of a mouthful. In plain English, good canonicalization means search engines crawl more pages of your site. You’d want that to happen very much if you’re thinking of ranking high on Google or bringing massive traffic to your site.

Some of you might have heard of this before but don’t know what it means, some of you know what it means but do not know how to use it and others might not even seen this word before. Regardless of your level of knowledge on Canonicalization, you should read on to fully understand what this means and how it affects your SEO.

Since early 2009, all major search engines has supported the canonical tag. However, not many web developers or users do canonicalization on their URLs despite it’s benefits. This can be due to the lack of knowledge regarding canonical tags, its benefits or how to use it.

What Are Canonical Links?

Nope, not these can(n)ons.

Search engines like Google work by “crawling” through an enormous list of websites, analyzing the content on the page, and then categorizing the results through a cross-referenced database of variables like the website’s URL and date of last modification for rapid turnaround times on any query entered into the engine.

A canonical link is a special designation slipped into the code of a web page to indicate that another page should be considered the origin of the information when the search engine displays the findings to the user.

Other factors will weigh in on which specific web pages the search engine shows for every user, the device they are using, and the peculiarities of how they phrase their search, but the canonical link has a profound impact on the algorithms.

In your browser of choice, there should be an option to view the source code of any web page you happen to be browsing.

Typically, you’ll be able to access it by right-clicking anywhere on the page and clicking the option to “View page source”. Similarly, you can also get it by clicking “Inspect element”.

When you do, an array of text will appear in your browser window or in a new tab. You should be able to note several sections set apart by symbols, such as:

<meta content="A description of the content in the web page." name="description" />

These are blocks of code in Hypertext Markup Language (HTML). If the website has canonicalize it’s URL, a canonical link will appear somewhere in this source code using a syntax similar to the following:

<link rel="canonical" href="http://rankreveal.com/" />

For example:

Once you’ve clicked the View page source button, you’ll see something like this, a wall of HTML codes. You should be able to locate the canonical tag on the top of the page under the <head> section. Or, you can just use the find function (ctrl + F) of your browser to locate it.

Beyond these basics, canonical links vary only in how you use them to drive your search results and website layout.

#optin-template-3{
float: left;
margin: 0;
width: 100%;
max-width: 654px;
height: 100%;
}
#optin-template-3 .container{
float: left;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
text-align: center;
background: #fff;
border: 0px solid #1272bf;
padding-bottom: 16px;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row{
display: inline-block;
width: 88%;
padding: 3% 6% 0%;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row h2{
margin: 5px 0 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
color:#1272bf;
font-weight: 600;
text-align: center;
padding:0px 0px 5px;
font-size:2.2em;
}
#optin-template-3 .left-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 100%;
max-width: 270px;
min-width: 270px;
height: 100%;
vertical-align: top;
padding-top: 32px;
}
#optin-template-3 .ebook-img{
width: 100%;
min-width:270px;
height: 280px;
background: url(https://seopressor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/08/seo-jargon-mock.png);
background-size: cover;
}
#optin-template-3 .right-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 60%;
min-width: 250px;
max-width: 305px;
padding: 24px 4% 32px;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul{
text-align: left;
padding-left: 0;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul li{
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
margin-left: 20px;
}
#optin-template-3 .optIn-form{
display: block;
bottom: 0;
}
#optin-template-3 .email{
display: block;
width: 100%;
border: 0;
padding: 8px 0;
font-size: 18px;
text-align: center;
border: 1px solid #1272bf;
}
#optin-template-3 .submit-button{
display: block;
margin-top: 4%;
width: 100%;
padding: 8px 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 400;
color: #fff;
background: #1272bf;
font-size: 21px;
border: 0;
outline: 1px solid #1272bf;
cursor: pointer;
}

SEO Top 40 Jargons:
Explained In Plain English

40 of only the most useful SEO terminologies.
Your first guide to the SEO world.
Aimed at complete beginners.
Compact and super easy to read!

Why Should You Care About Canonical Links?

This seemingly simple link element, introduced jointly by Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo way back in 2009, was designed to help clean up the link structure with duplicate content for search purposes.

Simply put, the HTML tag informs search engines which page they should pay attention to in a grouping of near identical content. This useful element has unfortunately become a source of a lot of confusion which has led to many sites choosing to avoid the problem entirely by leaving it out and hoping that the impact will be minimal on their search engine rankings.

Failure to do so leaves your site vulnerable to lost opportunities from missed traffic, SEO traction, and other search engine penalties.

If you’re not using canonical link for your website, you’ll lose out SEO juice!
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Why Do I Have Duplicate Content?

There are many useful scenarios in which your site might have two or more pages with the same content. E-commerce sites, for example, often have one product featured on multiple URLs to track the origin point of click-throughs from advertising associates and social media sites.

A website featuring recipes or workout plans might have a media-rich page full of robust animations and sounds intended for a desktop environment with a broadband connection while linking to a printer-friendly version with identical content for ease of distribution.

These are just a small sample of the reasons a website administrator might want to have multiple URLs direct to the same content, but this would otherwise create issues in your SEO practices without the implementation of canonical links.

Understanding Search Engine Indexing and Duplication

Within a content management system, best practices for new material on a website includes categorization along multiple, cross-referenced points of the data and metadata of the item.

A date-based archive, a content-relevant category, a homepage presentation, and it’s original URL – this data is transmitted to the search engines who view each instance of the same information as a unique URL that must be indexed and listed individually.

One page can have up to 8 entries on each search engine. This leads to the ‘duplicate entries omitted’ line of text seen in some search results, even if the multiple entries are present only within the site’s database.

The canonical link element lets the search engine know the order of importance of each of those entries. “This one,” it tells the search engine, “rather than that one.” Each entry will still be indexed into the vast trove of information gathered by the crawler, but the one the search engine defers to when revealing the listing to the searching public is one of your choosing.

The search engine then perceives the remaining indexed pages as part of a cohesive group, rather than individual entries. This grants the site a higher ranking because the results aren’t being split between the duplicate copies.

example.com
www.example.com
www.example.com/
www.example.com/index.html
www.example.com/index.html?var=1
www.mysite.com/en/us/
www.<ExternalHostProvider>.com/example

Why Should You Use Canonical Links?

The primary benefits of properly using canonical links are derived from the direction of traffic flow across URLs with similar content and improving the reliability of the data gathered from your website analytics.

Although search engines are reluctant to give out the exact details of how their algorithms work, improperly categorized duplicate content is known to negatively impact the ratings assigned to a website and have the potential to spur a direct punishment if they believe you are intentionally attempting to mislead the crawler to draw in more traffic.

Search engines do so to provide more satisfying results to their users and thus draw in more traffic for themselves, so taking advantage of the service they provide requires adhering to their guidelines.

Another reason to use <rel=canonical> is link juice. One of the ways Google determine the quality of a link is through amount of traffic and click-through-rate. So if you website does not have a canonical link, the traffic (link juice) will be divided among separate URLs even though they are technically the same site.

Just imagine having a jug of water and pouring into a few different cups, you’ll have little left for each. But if you have a canonical link, your traffic will all go to the same URL and hence all of the link juice will go into that cup, hence giving your website maximum link juice.

Not to Be Confused: The 301 Redirect

Canonical links should not be mistaken for a 301 Redirect, a function that appears similar to the end user but goes through a different underlying process.

Canonical Redirect vs 301 Redirect

Basically, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect from one URL to another. These website redirect links various URLs under one umbrella so search engines rank all the addresses based on the domain authority from inbound links.

Despite the correlation in the behavior of the 301 and canonical links, the former forces an action on the part of users and search engines by forcing an update of the stored data for that site’s permalink. The previous link and its content is skipped entirely as the browser journeys on to its new destination.

When should you use a 301 redirect instead of a canonical link?

Although on the surface the functionality of a canonical link is quite similar to that of a 301 redirect, in terms of metrics they are not. While they both tell search engines to treat multiple pages (or URLs) as a single page, a 301 redirects all traffic to a specific URL and a canonical tag does not.

If your site structure has changed, then a 301 redirect is the preferred option, since it will also correct bookmarks. If your site has duplicate content, but you need to measure traffic to each URL, use a canonical link for the benefit of the search engines.

Below is a video of Matt Cutts explaining the benefits of a 301 redirect over rel=canonical:

Let’s Get Canonical!

Now that you are a canonical link expert, you can start cleaning up your site. Take note of the canonical links already in place and look for content that might benefit from their introduction.

Make sure to work alongside your website administrator, IT support staff, or anyone else who happens to be working on the website so that you all remain on the same page. With luck and further education, your website can be a stellar beacon of search engine optimization in no time.

This post was originally written by Zhi Yuan and published on Aug 4, 2015. It was most recently updated on Aug 10, 2018.

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The Best And Worst Times To Send Emails

Posted by on Aug 10, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Best And Worst Times To Send Emails

The Best And Worst Times To Send Emails

The Best And Worst Times To Send Emails

If you were following our blog last week you would have read our post A Beginner’s Guide to Successful Marketing Campaigns, which —you guessed it— was packed with tips on effective email marketing strategies. In the post, we also promised an upcoming blog about the best and worst times to send emails. Here it is!

When we first began sending emails to our subscribers, we first had to figure out the best day and best time to send emails. Just in the same way a café may have a morning or lunch rush hour, there’s also a ‘rush hour’ when people are more likely to get on their phones or laptops.

Finding that sweet spot brought just the benefits we hoped for: we’re able to ensure that we achieve a high rate of emails opened, and then click-through to our site. This generates high traffic, which in turn, can generate sales.

It sounds so simple, and it is! It’s just a matter of figuring out that first step. But first, let’s get to the roots.

It’s no secret that your email subscribers are your most loyal audience. They have the most incentive and the ability to share your content. Once it is sent, this sharing creates more traffic, more subscribers, and more customers.

Combining timing with a healthy subscriber list ensures your site sees all of these benefits and more. It’s a snowball effect of success.

Timing Is Everything

Your email marketing campaign is ready to launch! Your subject line is attention-grabbing, your content is interesting, your offer is compelling, your email is beautifully designed. You’re set up for success, right? Only if it were that easy!.

All of your hard work has the potential of falling flat if your timing happens to be off. The quest of getting your subscribers to open your emails relies largely on this. But don’t fear, as we’ve been there too and we’re here to figure it out with you.

The first key tip I have to share is don’t forget about time zones.

To solve the time zone issue, you can either choose to send emails based on the most important time zone or segment your subscribers lists.

We talked about this a bit more in our post The Best and Worst Times to Post on Social Media previously. It can be so easy to forget that if you schedule your email to be sent out at 10am on Tuesday your time, your recipients may instead receive it at 2am on a Monday their time. Oops!

We tackle this by using Aweber to create a breakdown list by time zone. We’re able to categorize our subscribers to ensure that they receive our emails at the same time, no matter where they are in the world.

Don’t fear if your mailing service doesn’t offer this feature. You can instead look at your data to see where the majority of your audience is based.

If your company is based locally, go with your own time zone. However, if your audience is a global one then target the time zone of most of your subscribers (Aweber also tracks this for us, as many other mailing services will do too).

For instance, if your audience is in the US, target the Eastern Time Zone, as this includes nearly 50% of the population, which is the highest population concentration in a single US time zone.

All About the Audiences

Campaign success, as always, depends on the audience. Understanding the demographic of our audience has helped us shape the content and direction of our work here at SEOPressor. It’s also the driving force in working out the best and worst times to send emails.

The first question to ask is:

Do your emails attract young professionals, or older, more experienced business people?

Knowing this will help give you a general idea of their schedule and when they are most likely to scroll through their phones. For example, sending an email on a Saturday evening will be less effective with a younger crowd, who may be out until late at night, heading home without checking their email.

In the same way, sending out your email on a weekend morning may not effectively reach subscribers with children, who may take Saturdays and Sundays out as the time to spend with their families.

So, it’s not only about the content, it’s about the audience too!

The Best Day To Send Emails

After years in the internet marketing industry, here’s what we found out:

The Three Best Days To Send Email

Research taken from 10 studies have proven that Tuesday is the best day to send email out into the world. The studies show that the highest email open rates happen on Tuesdays, which we know then leads to more click-through and higher site traffic.

The next highest open rate is shown to be on a Thursday. If you’re aiming to send two emails per week, we’d recommend choosing Tuesday as your first day, and Thursday as the second.

None of the ten studies showed that Wednesdays were the most successful day to send email, but it did come in at second a few times. Be sure not to overload your subscribers’ inboxes by sending them emails two days in a row! Flooding their inboxes could create the opposite effect, and you may see no clickthroughs at all.

So, if you do choose Wednesday as your day to schedule your emails, try to avoid sending again on Tuesdays or Thursdays.

On the other hand, Hubspot’s report revealed that Monday, Tuesday and Wednesday had the most email opens.

The worst days for open rates were weekends for majority of the businesses, hands down.

The verdict: Best days to send are on weekdays.

It’s About Subjectivity

Do keep in mind that despite these statistics, a lot of this can be subjective. We’ve found it’s best to base our email schedule on what works best for our clients. For instance, the data we gather from Aweber shows us that our email opens have a great success rate on Saturdays and Sundays, which isn’t always common. I’ll get to that in a little bit in our Weekend Warriors section below.

But first, let’s see what the best time to send email marketing campaigns is.

The Best Time To Send Email

This can be tricky, with many more options for effective time slots. What we’ve found helps is thinking of when our subscribers may be most likely to have the time to browse on their phones.

Seeing which is the best time of day to send email is especially important because data shows that the most email opens are likely to happen within the first hour of your mail being sent! This percentage continues to drop off after this first hour, so making sure you choose a productive hour is your key to success.

Mornings are definitely a great time. People are checking their phones first thing after waking up, or on their commute to work, perhaps with a cup of coffee in hand while getting up to date for the day.

The first peak, not so surprisingly, is at 6am. This is likely to be because of the statistic that indicates a whopping 50% of people begin their work day by checking their emails in bed. If your audiences are workaholics, 6am might be the perfect time for your email to land in their inboxes.

There’s also high success between 9am and 11am, with a spike at 10am. If your subscribers are likely to be settling in at work and getting up to date online at 10am, this could be the optimum time for you.

There’s another peak in the afternoon at 2pm, when people have finished lunch and are looking forward to finishing work. If a majority of your subscribers are office workers, this could be a great time to schedule your email.

Another high success rate occurs in the evenings, from 8pm to midnight. Guilty as charged, — I often check my emails again right before bed. With so many internet distractions these days, many people like to try and keep their mornings open for productivity, and will avoid marketing emails in the mornings. The evening then becomes the perfect time to check their inboxes for other, non-work related emails.

The verdict: Most people tend to open their emails in the morning, especially on business days.

What We Think

This is what we have learned as we’ve gone along, and hopefully will give you, even more insights into the best and worst times to send emails.

The Monday Blues

We all know this feeling! After a weekend off, catching up with friends, or simply staying in pajamas for 48 hours, it’s hard to get revved up for a week ahead of work.

For this reason, Mondays are generally considered to be the worst day you can send your marketing emails or newsletters. This is because people are often more likely to arrive at work, open their inboxes, and delete whatever seems like spam or unimportant emails. So, test and configure the best time to send business email as it differs for everyone.

The Weekend Warriors

This can be a tricky one, depending on your business and your audience. While internet activity does generally reduce on Saturdays and Sundays, some people also have more free time to check their inboxes.

This again is entirely based on your readers. As mentioned earlier, if the majority of your readers are full-time professionals who have children, they may be taking the weekend out to spend time with their families.

However, if the majority of your subscribers are young professionals or people without children, then you’ll see the rate of success of email opens increased.

Our own success in weekend opens and clickthroughs may also lie in the fact of how internet-based we are at SEOPressor.

As many businesses will close and not send emails on the weekend, this gives us a great opportunity to get noticed in our subscribers’ inboxes.

If this strategy sounds right for your audience and company, then weekends might be the ideal time for you. Without the flood of weekday emails, you’ll be right at the top.

The Midweek Success

The proof is in the pudding!

Although we do see a high open and click through rate on Saturdays and Sundays, our most successful email days do align with the data.

Combining our past experiences with sending out emails with the information and data collected from the studies, we feel confident in saying that, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays are likely the most successful days for sending your email out to subscribers.

A Quick Debrief: Discovering The Best Time To Send Emails

I’ve found that so much in being successful in this industry really is about getting hands on and learning as you go. So I’m going to get real and show you some of the steps I take in figuring out my perfect formula.

Step 1: Beginning with what the data tells me. Tuesdays at 10am show the highest success? Ok! I’ll start with this and see if it’s the best day and time for me.

Step 2: Checking my own data. I’m going to check with Aweber to see how many email opens and click-through my chosen time has given me.

Step 3: Knowing there’s always room for improvement. If I’m not getting the email open rate I want to see, then I begin testing a few different times and days.

Step 4: Keeping up with testing. I’ll keep monitoring my data with Aweber to work out where I’m seeing the most success, and continue to tweak my schedule based on this.

Step 5: Making sure I understand my audience. Knowing my client base and demographic will help me tailor my email scheduling to their own schedules.

Step 6: Asking: is the content right? Once I’ve figured out my audience base I need to confirm that my email content is exactly what they want to see. The first thing I think of before drafting my email is ‘what will my subscribers think?’

So, there you have it!

What’s the most successful day you’ve had with email scheduling? I’d love to know what your experiences are with your own best and worst times to send emails. Let me know if you have any more handy tips to share in the comment section down below too!

This post was originally written by Joanne Chong and published on March 31, 2018. It was most recently updated on July 27, 2018.

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Strategic Guide For Best Times To Send Emails

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Identify your customers’ pattern to increase engagement
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Send them the right message at the right time

The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques

Posted by on Aug 10, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques

The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques

Link building is one of the most essential aspects of SEO, yet also one of the most misunderstood and difficult pieces of the search marketing equation. We all know that acquiring high-quality links with White Hat Link Building to your website is one of Google’s primary ranking factors, but not all links are created equally and link building has changed considerably in recent years. Gone are the days of link farms, article directories and blog comment links designed to boost your sites’ rankings. With each tweak of the algorithm, Google has grown considerably smarter in how it evaluates and values…

The post The Crazy Egg Guide to White Hat Link Building Techniques appeared first on The Daily Egg.