20220118 SEL Brief

Posted by on Jan 18, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 20220118 SEL Brief

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How to optimize an auto-playing background video in WordPress

Posted by on Jan 17, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to optimize an auto-playing background video in WordPress

How to optimize an auto-playing background video in WordPress

An auto-playing background video is a popular feature for the homepage of many websites, from big ecommerce brands to B2B software and services companies. You can use the added visual interest to capture the attention of new visitors and show off your brand personality. With WordPress, it’s very straightforward to set up a video background. However, it’s also very easy to inadvertently implement it in such a way that hampers website performance and SEO efforts.

Patagonia frequently uses video background on their website

In this post, we’ll go through the key factors to consider when putting an auto-playing background video in place. Then, we’ll learn how to optimize the feature for users and search engines alike.

Step 1: Pick the right method to get the video on your homepage

Option A: An embed code from a video hosting platform

You have the most flexibility with this option, but it also requires a small amount of technical knowledge. Just input the raw HTML embed code into an ‘embed’ Gutenberg block, or the source of the page if you’re editing directly. Use CSS to ensure the video is in line with your desired design.

This option is ideal if you’re comfortable with some light development work and want to use a hosting platform like Wistia or Vimeo. This way you can optimize the video style and appearance directly within the hosting platform. Then you can bring that onto your website via the embed code.

Option B: A ‘cover’ block via the Gutenberg editor

This option is by far the simplest to include a video background in WordPress. However, this method can create performance issues, as it requires you to self-host videos on your website. You end up loading the full-size video file on each page load. This can cause things to slow down significantly and hamper the user experience.

To use this method, simply select the “cover” block in the Gutenberg editor, then upload the video you want to use.

The “cover” block in Gutenberg offers a simple solution

From here you can add a text overlay onto the video if you wish.

Option C: Use Elementor with YouTube

If you’re using Elementor page builder on your WordPress website, there is a built-in feature here that allows you to include a video background. This short video gives an excellent demonstration of how you can do this. It is quite simple. Just select a full-width template in Elementor, add in a background video element and you are good to go!

With Elementor, you can upload your own video and self-host it on the website as well. The video will then be played using the HTML5 video tag. Another option is to include a YouTube link. If you’re going down this route, I would highly recommend using the YouTube option. This helps to avoid the performance issues that can occur when serving videos from your own web host. 

From here, you can select which section of the video you would like to loop in the background by stipulating a start and an endpoint for the loop. 

Option D: Use a dedicated plugin

There are a number of free plugins available, such as Advanced WordPress Backgrounds, which include functionality for auto-playing background videos. Advanced WordPress Backgrounds allows you to add video from a Vimeo or YouTube URL, as well as self-host. I would recommend the former option for the same reason as with the Elementor approach.

Ultimately, there are pros and cons to each method. If you have the technical skills, I would recommend working directly with the code and including an embed, then adjusting the CSS to suit. But if that’s a bit beyond your skillset, go for the plugin or Elementor options.

Read more: Which is the best video hosting platform for SEO? »

Step 2: Load the background video asynchronously in WordPress

One major problem an auto-playing background video can cause is slow loading.

If a user is on a connection with limited bandwidth, the rest of the page elements may load, while the video background may fail to appear until much later. Or, worse, with poor implementation the slow-loading video may block the rendering of other critical page elements. In either case, not only will this hamper user experience, but can also negatively affect search rankings as well – especially given the preference Google has for fast and fluid websites.

To avoid both of these scenarios, make sure you set your video to load with asynchronous JavaScript so that the other page elements and the video load simultaneously. In addition, make sure you are hosting your video with a platform that supports adaptive streaming such as YouTube, Vimeo or Wistia. Adaptive streaming means the video host dynamically degrades the video bitrate to cope with a user’s bandwidth.

While this may sound a bit challenging from a technical standpoint, it really doesn’t have to be! Because the Yoast Video SEO plugin does it all for you, ensuring everything loads quickly and seamlessly. If you haven’t already set that up for your website, make that your immediate next action!

Step 3: Choose your loop and keep it short

An auto-playing background video needs to repeat on a loop. Therefore, selecting the appropriate sequence is critical to providing an appealing experience. The way to do this depends greatly on how your video was shot. If the video has lots of cuts and scene changes, a few seconds of each scene on rotation can work very nicely. It provides almost a “preview” of the expected video.

However, it’s a bit different for videos with more of a one-shot or animated feel. You instead need to find a sequence where the beginning and the end of the loop look very similar. This is to help them flow into each other nicely.

It is important to think about how you want your loop to work when you do your edit. Ideally you should edit a video specifically for this purpose. However, if you’re stuck using some pre-existing content that can’t be re-edited, try to find a start and an end-point within the existing asset that flow nicely into one another. Then use your hosting platform, or tools within WordPress (e.g. with the Gutenberg approach) to stipulate the start and end-points.

Auto-playing background videos should generally be about 10-30 seconds long. You want enough movement and change to provide some narrative and visual progression throughout the loop. But you don’t want the video to be so long and complex that it distracts from the rest of the page.

Step 4: Decide if your video background should be click-to-play and remove extra player elements

There are basically two types of auto-playing background videos. They either act as a teaser for the full video, or they exist purely as an independent visual asset. In the first case, you want your video to have additional functionality. You want a play button that takes users into a full-screen video experience, typically via an overlay/lightbox. In the second case, you want to remove all player elements, so the video appears purely as a moving image, rather than one with visible controls.

When you want your video to act as a moving thumbnail for a bigger experience, this requires a bit of extra work. Wistia embeds provide for this feature natively, and a great example of this is on the SparkToro homepage.

SparkToro homepage video expands into full-screen when you press the play button

If you’re using a different platform, then you’ll need to essentially add a play button overlay onto the auto-playing video, which loads the secondary video over the top when clicked.

You can remove the player controls with most paid hosting platforms – such as Vimeo and Wistia. However, If you’re using a standard YouTube embed and want to remove the player controls, this will need to be handled via a secondary player. This is due to the YouTube player not allowing you to remove elements. Options C and D as detailed in step 1 provide a solution to this.

Step 5: Ensure the video background scales properly on mobile

Another common error with auto-playing background videos in WordPress is failing to ensure good mobile functionality. A 16×9 widescreen video is quite small when viewed through the standard vertical framing on a mobile device. Hence, the overall presentation of the page needs to be quite different.

Either the video can responsively adjust to just be small, with the rest of the page elements reordered and moving with it. Or the video can be hidden at a smaller screen size. Generally, I prefer to scale the video down with the rest of the page and use CSS to ensure the core text and menus are visible, along with the video even at that smaller size.

The core mistake to avoid is just having one giant video embed which gets truncated, or takes up the entirety of the page above the fold in a mobile view. Once again, the Yoast Video SEO plugin is your friend here! It automatically ensures videos are responsive for all of the major video hosting platforms.

Step 6: Include appropriate metadata for SEO

The last optimization step is to make sure you include all the necessary metadata for Google search – specifically the video title, thumbnail, and duration. Note that as an auto-playing video, the thumbnail itself will never appear to users. Nevertheless, an image file needs to be referenced in the data via microdata or JSON-LD. This ensures that the video can be presented as a video rich snippet in Google search.

Sounds complicated? Don’t worry, the Yoast Video SEO plugin automates it all for you! For a more detailed breakdown of the data required for SEO, take a look at this post on how to optimize your video pages.

Get your videos in the search results!

Get this plugin and make your videos eligible for Google’s video carousel and the Google Video search results!

Get Video SEO »Only $79 USD / per year (ex VAT) for 1 site

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Google Search Console launches desktop page experience report

Posted by on Jan 17, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Search Console launches desktop page experience report

Google Search Console launches desktop page experience report

With the upcoming Google page experience update coming to desktop, today Google launched a new page experience report for desktop in Google Search Console. “To support the upcoming rollout of page experience ranking to desktop, Search Console now has a dedicated desktop section in its Page Experience report to help site owners understand Google’s ‘good page experience’ criteria,” Google wrote.

How to access. You can access the report by clicking here or by going to Google Search Console, and clicking on the Page Experience link under the experience tab.

What it looks like. Here is a screenshot of this report for one of my sites:

More details. Google first launched the page experience report in April 2021 before the launch of the page experience update. The new Google Page Experience report offers metrics, such as the percentage of URLs with good page experience and search impressions over time, enabling you to quickly evaluate performance. You can also drill into specific pages to see what improvements need to be made.

Why we care. You can use this report to make the necessary adjustments to the desktop versions of your pages before Google rolls out the desktop version of the page experience update. As a reminder, we do not expect there to be a huge ranking change due to this update, but it may impact sites more if their stories show in the top stories section, since a solid page experience score is required to show in the top stories carousel.

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20220117 SEL Brief

Posted by on Jan 17, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 20220117 SEL Brief

The post 20220117 SEL Brief appeared first on Search Engine Land.

10 Best Social Media Management Courses (Free & Paid)

Posted by on Jan 17, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Best Social Media Management Courses (Free & Paid)

From content creation to scheduling, managing a social media presence takes a lot of work. Not only do you need to keep on top of your promotional campaigns and publishing calendar, but you’ll also need an up-to-date knowledge of various tools and platforms. When the social media rules and best practices are constantly changing, it’s […]

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Google Ads Remarketing: How to Do Remarketing on Google

Posted by on Jan 17, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Ads Remarketing: How to Do Remarketing on Google

A Google remarketing (or retargeting campaign) is an effective way to advertise to people who have previously visited your website, used your mobile app, or are part of your customer base. You can customize your Google remarketing campaigns to show them relevant ads or personalized ads (dynamic remarketing) as they browse the web or Google. […]

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Google Ads bug again for Gmail on desktop Safari browsers

Posted by on Jan 16, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google Ads bug again for Gmail on desktop Safari browsers

Google has confirmed a bug impacting how ads are served on Gmail desktop with Safari browsers. This is impacting only Google Ads that should be served in Gmail for users accessing their email using the Safari desktop browser.

What is the issue. The issue seems to be an issue with displaying or serving the ads to this “significant subset of users” on Safari desktop while accessing Gmail.

When it started. Google said this issue first started on Saturday morning, January 15, 2022 at 9:36 AM UTC.

When will we know more. Google said that it plans on giving us an update on Tuesday, January 18, 2022 at 8:00 PM UTC. Google said “we will provide an update by Jan 18, 2022, 8:00 PM UTC detailing when we expect to resolve the problem.”

Again. Yes, this happened a couple of weeks ago to the same subset of users back in late December.

Why we care. If you are running Google Ads for Gmail users, then you may see a dip in the number of ads being served. This is a known issue that Google is working to resolve.

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What happened when we turned off AMP

Posted by on Jan 14, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What happened when we turned off AMP

A little less than two months ago Search Engine Land made the decision to stop publishing versions of our content using Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages. For us, it boiled down to wanting to simplify our reporting and our desire to end the process of hosting Search Engine Land content on 3rd party servers.

Read next: We’re turning off AMP pages at Search Engine Land

Since then, a lot has happened, but the bottom line is we have seen very little disruption to our traffic and have reaped the benefit of having a clearer picture of our audience analytics.

What happened to traffic? For us, it is difficult to draw any major conclusions about traffic changes since we turned off AMP. Search Engine Land is a media website that primarily produces journalism, so we are very much tied to the news that emerges. As you would expect, when big news like core updates or major Google Ads changes happens our traffic jumps. But as the news dies down during the holiday season we usually see month-to-month declines. That why year-over-year benchmarking is generally favored by news organizations.

We did not see any year-over-year declines in traffic that we could tie to AMP aside from the loss of pageviews to a handful of pieces that routinely spike for organic traffic. For example, an older article about Google SERP Easter Eggs ranks highly for us and usually spikes a few times during the year (including Easter time!). Mobile traffic to that post was previously going to the AMP version. However, we turned off AMP at a time that piece was spiking on mobile and did not see that traffic shift back to our native page. The page itself has never really driven quality traffic so the lost traffic isn’t really a problem.

Safeguarding. Around the time we shut off AMP we also took a few steps that could safeguard us in case the experiment caused a big traffic decline. We increased our publishing volume for starters. We also adjusted the strategy in our newsletters to better optimize for click-through rate. That move was also in response to Apple’s privacy change in iOS 15 that now makes open rates a less reliable metric.

The big win. One of the main reasons for turning off AMP was to better understand our metrics. Despite several failed attempts at AMP stitching in Google Analytics, we never could tell how our audience moves from our AMP pages to our native ones. Users were undoubtedly being double-counted as unique in both the AMP and our native website dashboards. The clearest indicator that this was true is in the change we’ve seen in return visitors since we turned off AMP. The number of sessions by return visitors has jumped by 30% since we made the change, and now we have a far better picture of our most valuable audience set.

Why we care. We went into this experiment knowing there was some risk, but haven’t seen anything to make us reconsider the move. The biggest question mark had always been around the Page Experience Update. AMP pages were as fast as they come, so the worry was that our native pages that don’t benchmark as fast as AMP would lose out. We didn’t see that, and it makes sense because many SEOs are still trying to tie their own wins or losses directly to the Page Experience Update.

So we’re not looking back. And if you have your story about turning off AMP we’d love to hear it.

Read next: Core Web Vitals: SEOs aren’t sold the work was worth it

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Shopify chat bug lead (1) titles in Google’s search results

Posted by on Jan 14, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Shopify chat bug lead (1) titles in Google’s search results

Shopify chat bug lead (1) titles in Google’s search results

Over the past couple of weeks there have been complaints from some Shopify site owners that Google was showing a (1) in the title name for their pages in the Google search results page. The issue turned out to be related to a chat feature activated on those Shopify sites, the chat feature fixed the issue and the Google search results should soon no longer show (1) in the title name.

What it looked like. I found a screenshot of this happening for a site in the Shopify forums dating back a couple of weeks ago, here is that screenshot showing the (1) at the beginning of the title name in Google Search.

What it looks like now. The issue was resolved and Google recrawled and processed this specific URL, so the (1) is no longer there:

It will take time. If you still see a (1) before your title name in the Google Search results, give it more time. Google has to recrawl and reprocess all of the URLs that were impacted and that can take time. If you want to expedite it, you can use the URL inspection tool in Google Search Console and submit that URL to the index manually. But again, the issue will resolve itself over time.

Google’s statement. Google published a statement on this issue in the Google forums, basically saying it was an issue with the chat feature dynamically embedding (1) in the title attributes of these pages and thus Googlebot picked up on it and indexed it. Google’s Caio Barros wrote:

Hello, all!

We have been receiving some reports of a “(1)” showing up in some titles in search results. Upon some investigation, our Product Experts noticed that this behavior happened to websites built in Shopify and were using a chat app. It looks like these sites used a chat-bot script which added a “(1)” to the page’s title element. Titles changed with JavaScript can still be picked up, and used as title links in Search.

However, it looks like that script has been fixed to no longer change the page’s title element, so as Googlebot reprocess pages, it will no longer see the “(1)” as a part of the pages’ title, and we can take that into account when generating title links in Search. Keep in mind that title links in Search aren’t always exactly the same as the title element of a page, so it’s not guaranteed that Google will drop that element immediately after reprocessing.

There’s no need to do anything special to have pages reprocessed. This should happen automatically over time. We crawl and reprocess pages at different rates, usually you’ll see important pages like a site’s homepage reprocessed fairly quickly, within a few days at most. Other pages may take longer to be reprocessed.

Thank you all for the reports!

Why we care. If you see (1) in your titles in the Google or Bing search results, it was likely due to this chat feature in Shopify. Again, the chat feature fixed the issue and the search engines will eventually recrawl and reprocess those titles and show them correctly in the search results. It is a widespread issue, not a Google bug, but it was related to a feature in Shopify that had this unintended consequence in search.

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Top 25 blogging SEO tips for 2022

Posted by on Jan 14, 2022 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Top 25 blogging SEO tips for 2022

Here are the top 25 blogging SEO tips to help all blog posts compete for a first page Google ranking.

1. Cut the time to write a post in half by using an AI SEO tool

Artificial intelligence (AI) tools, like Clearscope and RankIQ, tell you what topics marketer should cover in their post to compete for a first-page ranking on Google. This allows marketers to create a comprehensive outline in a short amount of time.

2. Do not use single-phrase search volume when choosing keywords

One of the biggest mistakes marketers make when blogging, is using single-phrase search volume to identify keywords. This metric is only meant to be used for Google ads, and it is not an accurate measurement of the traffic you will get.

There are only two keyword research tools which provide an accurate traffic estimate, which are Ahrefs’ Traffic Potential and RankIQ’s Estimated Yearly Visitors.

3. Poll create original research posts from poll results

Original research posts get a high number of backlinks. One easy way to generate original data is for marketers and bloggers to identify large Facebook groups within their area of interest, and post polls. The answers gained from the polls can form the basis for building a research post.

4. Get interviewed on podcasts to generate high quality backlinks

Backlinks to a blogs can be generated in several ways, including being interviewed for a podcast. Links then often appear in the show notes page for the relevant episode.

One way to marketers can advertise employees as available for podcast interviews is to send emails to various show hosts. Details of podcast hosts are relatively easy to find through hosting sites; Apple’s Top Charts lists the top 300 podcasts in a number of different areas. If bloggers do not have time to send emails, there is the option to sign up to and have the hosts reach out instead.

5. Write blog posts on the most searched stats for year-round passive backlinks

Journalists citing data or specific statistics will often add a backlink to their source within their articles, but they tend to click on a title which has the highest number of data points available. (E.g., 50 Latest Dog Biting Statistics).

Marketers can boost their blogs’ SEO by researching keywords to glean the most searched for statistics in a specific area of interest. Once a blogger knows which statistics are popular, there is the opportunity for them to write a blog post with additional data points.

6. Use Google ‘friendly’ terms in your title

When marketers run an AI SEO Report through a tool like RankIQ, it lists the words Google ‘likes’ the most within titles. This enables bloggers to create perfectly optimised post titles from words driving the highest click-through rates (CTR) for specific keywords or phrases.

7. Use a targeted front-end modifier on your blog post title

A strategically placed front-end modifier, like “best,” “top” or “good”, can bump a marketers blog  ranking from #3 to #1. Different topics and areas of interest have unique front-end modifiers. Food bloggers get over 90% of their traffic from recipe posts. The top front-end modifiers for recipe posts are “easy,” “best,” “homemade,” and “simple”. (E.g., Easy chicken pot pie recipe).

8. Always go higher than your competition

Before a list post is published, marketers should look at their competition on the first page of Google. If the highest number in a title is 15, then they should consider lengthening their blog list post to 25. This is going to increase the CTR and push their blogs’ posts past titles with lower numbers.

9. Do not go over 60 characters in your blogpost title

Ahrefs SEO tool found titles with more than 60 characters are rewritten by Google 57% more often than those with 60 or less characters.

10. Use brackets with the current year at the end of each post title

Google searchers want content with the latest information. Blog posts which have the current year in their title are going ng to get more clicks than those that do not; using square brackets increased the click-through rate by 38%.

An example would be: ‘25 Email Marketing Tips for Bloggers [2022]’.

11. Internally link to a new post from two other high authority posts

As soon as a market publishes a new post through a company blog, they should link it to at least two of historical blog posts which have plenty of inbound links.

12. Write 40-50 word paragraphs to rank for featured snippets

Multiple studies have confirmed the majority of featured snippets are pulled from paragraphs which are 40-50 words in length. This is also the ideal length of a paragraph for maximum reader engagement.

13. Make sure your ‘content grade’ is an A+ before publishing

Backlinko looked at 11.8 million Google results and found posts with a high content grade ranked significantly higher in Google search. Content optimisation tools, like RankIQ, will grade a blog’s content based on what Google wants to see from a post for a specific keyword phrase.

14. Add FAQs at the end of a post to increase ‘dwell time’

One way to prolong people’s time on page is to add a frequently asked questions section to the bottom of a blog post.

To find out the best questions to include, search engines can be used by any marketer to find out the most common questions searched for on specific topic. Google even has a dedicated “People also ask” option.

Marketers should consider included around 3-5 of these questions, and their 40–50 word answers, within their businesses’ blog posts.

15. Listen to teaching podcasts like ‘The Blogging Millionaire’

The host of The Blogging Millionaire – a podcast devoted to teaching different blogging strategies – gets 5 million monthly visitors from over 100,000 first-page Google rankings.

Brandon Gaille, host of the podcast, has so far taught over 100 blogging and SEO growth hacks in short ten-minute episodes.

16. Keep your intros to three sentences or less to increase engagement

Readers want to get to the body of blog post as quickly as possible. For list posts, marketers should ensure readers can see the first item on the blog’s list above the fold.

17. Create a meta description tease to increase click through rates

In 150 characters, markets should include the best part of a post and end with an ellipsis. This can increase the click-through rate on a post enough to move up several spots in Google’s rankings.

Here’s an example of a meta description tease:

Title: 11 On-page SEO Best Practices for Blog Post

There are eleven On Page SEO tactics that pro bloggers use to get ridiculous results. The one tactic that plays the biggest role in SEO is…

18. Buy an aftermarket domain with existing backlinks to rank higher faster

Using a high domain authority expired domain will allow a blog post to rank high on Google from day one. The best place to find these domains is at GoDaddy Auctions.

In the advanced search, select expiring “.com” or “.org” domains which are at least 4 years old.
Copy all domains which come up with at least 1 bid into a Google sheet.
Run these through a bulk domain authority checker and remove all domains with less than a 30-domain authority.
Use the Wayback Machine to find domains with content which are at least loosely related to your subject area.

19. Identify the word count that google prefers for every keyword you write on

The word count needed to hit a keyword is different, depending on the subject area.  For a recipe post, it may only take 900 words. For a marketing tips post, 4000 words may be needed.

AI SEO tools like Frase and RankIQ use algorithms to determine the word count a post needs to compete for the top Google ranking.

20. Keep your URLs short by focusing on the core keyword phrase

A study by Backlinko found URLs in the top Google position are 9.2 characters shorter than the URLs in position number 10.

21. Use your own video thumbnails and links

SEO can also be bolstered by avoiding video embedding from a hosting site. The YouTube embed code significantly slows down the page speed of a post, which is a component of Google’s algorithm.

22. Place your target keyword in the first 100 words of your content

This tactic has been around for a while, and it still makes an impact.

23. Run your post through Grammarly before you hit publish

There is nothing worse than a blog post littered with spelling errors or grammatical errors; it suggests author laziness or a rushed blog post.

Grammarly’s tool is almost as good as having an editor who reviews your work. It will instantly take a rough post and flag any inconsistencies or errors and suggest corrections.

24. Include short stat-based infographics for more backlinks and social shares

There are few things which attract backlinks and social shares like simple stat-based infographics. By using a 16:9 ratio, your stat infographics will work for both desktop and mobile audiences.

25. Get a list of the lowest competition keywords with the highest traffic potential from RankIQ

Most bloggers end up writing more than 50% of their posts on keywords they will never be able to rank for.

RankIQ’s top keyword research experts have identified the lowest competition high traffic keywords in over 300 blogging niches.

Rank IQ provides AI-powered tools to help marketers and bloggers improve their SEO by identifying key words and topics that top Google’s ranking algorithm. 

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