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Long vs Short Landing Page – Which Works Better?

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Long vs Short Landing Page – Which Works Better?

Long vs Short Landing Page – Which Works Better?

A landing page can technically describe any page visitors arrive at when they visit your site. It’s essential to understand that these landing pages are your first impression, and a valuable opportunity to convert leads. Doing so has been our focus for a few weeks now.

So far, we’ve discussed the elements included in an effective landing page, as well as explaining how to write the best landing pages to increase your conversions.

Today, we’re going to look at a question raised in our comments section – how long should a landing page be? This is a good question with no one-size-fits-all answer. I’m going to analyze the pros and cons of each format, and give some insights and advice (including effective landing pages examples) as to when short landing page and long landing page are most appropriate.

Because landing pages help to sell the value of your company’s products, services, and content, it’s important to understand what these mean to people arriving at your site, and how you can shift that impression through your landing page in order to encourage increased conversions from your web traffic.

For some, this can be done in no time at all. For others, a longer, more extensive landing page allows for a richer sales case. It really depends on your audience and what they want from your website.

Increase Your Arsenal, Test Your Audiences

HubSpot conducted typically in-depth research into landing pages. The take-home insights were that businesses with over 40 landing pages generated 12 times as many leads as those that only had one to five landing pages.

Already, I’m opening you up to a new world – a multiverse of landing pages. You need to have more than one, and preferably more than forty. Why? Because then you can break down your audience and target them with surgical precision to increase your conversion rates.

Here’s another one for you – only 52% of people using landing pages test them to see what could perform better. This is the other big mistake – in the world of online marketing everything is a draft, and there’s always room for improvement.

So, what kind of factors do you need to be taking into account in order to target audiences more effectively with landing pages?

Audience Segments. Different demographics may well respond differently, across different strata of age, economic and social status, nationality and more. Only testing supported by Google Insights will reveal this.
Test Your Ad Copy. Different types of Ads attract different kinds of visitors, so play with your format and messaging to strike a chord with different people.
Test Different Content Interests. Different people are interested in different things. This shouldn’t come as a shock. But have you thought about using content interests and statistics to determine your suite of landing pages?
Behavioral Data. Some people are online butterflies, with multiple tabs open, flitting from one page to the next. These people aren’t likely to stick around for an over-long landing page. Understanding behavior by analyzing things like visit-time can help you create landing pages that cater to your audiences.
Keywords. Keywords are the bread and butter of SEO and PPC, and if you’re in business online you must already have begun to target these in order to increase your exposure to people who want what you’re selling. Even these, however, can be stratified according to audience type.

This introduction is simply meant to break open the world of landing pages, so you can understand this is a complex and nuanced discipline where no easy answer will present itself.

Instead, you need to gird yourself to evaluate all of these considerations when debating the simpler question of long vs short. So, let’s dive in and consider when each might be appropriate.

Long Landing Page
The Advantages

Authority

With more space to fill with high quality content, detailed insights, supported claims and convincing arguments, longer landing pages naturally create a better impression of the company as an expert authority, and one to be trusted. This increased credibility can only come from the details – the first thing to be cut in a short landing page. More space also offers more opportunities to convince visitors to perform an action.

Ranking

A long landing page can have a big impact on your search engine ranking. For this to be the case, you need to make sure you have high-quality text, properly optimized visuals, and even multimedia on your landing page. Longer landing pages perform better for SEO over the long term.

Products

Because products have a story, a process, unique features and advantages, pricing and more to include, long landing pages generally perform better for products than short. People need to be courted and convinced of the value of a product precisely because there will be so much competition out there.

Long Landing Page Good Examples

General Assembly has a long landing page with several sections covering their product offer. That said, a “sign up now” button follows you down the page, so the call to action is constantly by your side, ready for you to click.

This creates a kind of hybrid landing page, which has all the advantages of the best landing page length while being broken down into discrete sections. If you get to the bottom and you haven’t click, a pop-up registration page promises even more in-depth resources to help you commit to a decision. A great win for explanation fiends.

Crazy Egg decided to go all out and test the extremes, creating a landing page for their product that offered more information than anyone could need, and one that had only the bare essentials.

The long form landing page outperformed the short control page by 30% in terms of leads generated.

This offers a potentially interesting insight into customer behavior. Where there is an abundance of information, individuals can scan and select highlights relevant to their needs, disregarding the rest – especially when the design is clear and the sections are obvious. In a short landing page, if the information isn’t there, there’s nothing the consumer can do about it except disengage.

The Disadvantages

Fewer Leads

Even though long landing pages can outperform shorter ones in conversions, they do reduce the number of leads you get. Many people just passing by won’t invest the effort necessary to analyze all the information you present, so they’ll simply navigate away. If you need these impulsive leads to make your business work, then long landing pages aren’t for you.

More Distractions

Those leads that do stick around will be more engaged, but is this engagement in the right things? It’s always a difficult balance between providing real value and creating a compelling sales case. Long landing pages can disguise your intention to sell too well, and leave people feeling satisfied with what they found out on the page without any real desire to buy the product. You need to make sure you can maintain focus and drive across the length.

So, what about the competition?

Short Landing Page
The Advantages

Fewer Distractions

Your readers will be receiving a lot less information, which removes potential barriers to action. Assuming that your readers will have a critical eye, more information means more questions and potentially more confusion. Short landing pages force you to be focused with your messaging.

Get What You Want

If all you want is contact details to establish a relationship, a shorter landing page can actually work better. Convincing someone to buy a product requires more work, but starting a relationship requires less. Imagine being at a bar and talking to someone for 30 minutes before asking for their number.

Enough is Enough

If everything that does make it onto the page is enough to convince someone to do the action you require, why include more? The only way to know this for sure is through testing, but honing down your most active difference makers, 80/20 style (the notion that 80 percent of your outcomes come from your top-performing 20 percent of input) could mean a more emphatic.

KISS – Keep It Simple and Short

More age-old wisdom that has become a cliché only thanks to the fact keeps being true. In a competitive environment where time is at a premium, audiences will appreciate you keeping it simple.

Short Landing Page Good Examples

Salesforce has a landing page that is 56 words in total.

It gives people the briefest understanding of what is on offer and gives people an idea of what they can gain by putting their information into the contact box.

This kind of landing page does little more than creating a curiosity gap that requires your information to resolve. It entices people to download the premium content in order to get any value. It says ‘well, you’ve come this far… why not go the final step?’ This works perfectly for free resources or free trials, getting that all-important foot in the door.

Crazy Egg built on their previous experiment to see what would happen if they went the other way. Experimenting with several different shorter versions of their landing page, they created version D, which concentrated the most effective content and eschewed the more contextual information, with more CTA.

This half-length landing page improved performance by 13%.

Prioritizing features and testimonials was an important part of this performance boost – using only what works, and putting what works best first and last, giving a compelling initial and final impression.

The Disadvantages

Quantity over Quality

While you’ll get more leads, the leads you get won’t be very high quality. If you are looking for landing pages that do most of the work for you, then short landing page isn’t for you. These low-quality leads may develop into prospects and even subscribers, but are far less likely to become customers. What’s more, they are even less likely to become loyal customers. This kind of landing pages work for instant gratification.

Best Landing Pages: Your Answer Is In The Evidence

So, long vs short landing page – which is effective for you?

As we’ve seen, different products, different circumstances, different audiences can all affect the answer to this question.

We’ve also seen that landing pages need to be many and varied, which opens up the possibilities to move beyond this question. Why have one or the other when you can have twenty of both?

Why would you want twenty of both? So you can get testing.

A/B test two versions of the same page and you halve that to ten of each with minor differences.

Anything you’re uncertain of, create a version with and without a feature, or with things in a different order. Time and insights will tell you the answer.

You can even test the length of the sign-up form itself, adding and reducing the number of fields that need to be filled out to see what effect it has.

Really, this is a lesson in the importance of being comfortable saying “I don’t know”. If you know what you don’t know, you can begin to find out. You’ll notice that I used Crazy Egg as an example in both columns – that’s because they found out the ideal formula through testing.

With the resources from this blog, you should have a good idea how to start that process, and where to start it based on your particular products or services. The best landing pages are ultimately the landing pages that are proven to work.

Have you found success using long or short landing pages to capture leads? Tell us in the comments below!

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How To Improve Conversion Rate Using Colors

Interesting Facts About Color Psychology.
Real Case Scenario Included.
Best Color Tips To Increase Conversion Rates!
A Complete Guide Every Marketer Must Have!

SEO-friendly URLs

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on SEO-friendly URLs

SEO-friendly URLs

The subject is up for much discussion: SEO-friendly URLs. Should or shouldn’t I include the category? Should the URL be as short as possible or is there room for extras? Could an URL be stuffed with keywords or not?

In this post, I’ll explain our take on SEO-friendly URLs and try to elaborate a bit on why we think that is the best option for that link. First, let me tell you that a SEO-friendly URL differs per type of website. In this article, I’ll discuss a few to show the differences. There are a few ground rules, but I strongly encourage you to keep the visitor in mind when setting up your URL structure.

Ground rules for SEO-friendly URLs

No matter what kind of website you have, there are a couple of ground rules that apply to all websites.

The main thing to keep in mind is that your URLs should be focused. Strip your URLs of stop words like ‘a’, ‘of’, ‘the’ etc. In 99% of the cases, these words add nothing of value to your URL. If possible, strip your URLs of verbs as well. Words like ‘are’ or ‘have’ are not needed in your URL to make clear what the page is about.
The length of your URL isn’t really a factor in this. We do recommend to keep your URLs as short as possible. It’s not that Google doesn’t like lengthy URLs, but shorter URLs are most probably more focused. Keep in mind that if you use breadcrumbs on your site, as we do, these could appear instead of the full URL:

Length isn’t that much of an issue: Google will show what they think is important for that visitor. Keep in mind that meta titles and descriptions are cut off at 512 pixels, and so is your URL.
Don’t use underscores, as these connect the words and make them into one. Dashes are preferred.

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These are the ground rules for SEO-friendly URLs. The best SEO-friendly URL differs per type of website. Pick your type of site to jump to the information that applies to your website:

Company websites
Online shops
Blogs or news sites

SEO-friendly URLs for your company website

If your website holds information about your company and/or services and that is basically it, no matter how many pages you have, I’d go with the shortest URL possible.

http://example.com/contact/
http://example.com/about-us/

SEO-friendly URLs for your online shop

If your website is an online shop, there are two ways to go about:

http://example.com/product-name/
http://example.com/category-name/product-name/

Some content management systems (like Magento) create both. In that case, use rel=”canonical” to point Google to the one you want to appear in Google.

The question remains what URL structure to use. In this case, SEO-friendly URLs should also be helpful URLs for your visitor. If your shop contains categories that make your visitor’s life easier, by all means, include these categories in your URL as well. That way your URL, breadcrumbs, and menu will remind the visitor where they are on your website:

http://example.com/birds/crane
http://example.com/equipment/crane

See what I mean? Decide for yourself if your categories add that value to the product and URL. If so, it’s also better for SEO to include the category, as category and product are very much related.

SEO-friendly URLs for your blog or news site

If your website is a blog or news website, there are a number of ways to construct your URL. Let’s go over these separately:

http://example.com/post-title/
If your site as a whole has a strong coherence, you could consider focusing on the post title and the post title only to create an SEO-friendly URL. The coherence will indicate the main topic of your website to Google, so no need to add that in the URL.
http://example.com/category-name/post-title/
In case that your website is a news website and you’re writing about different topics, adding the topic (for instance as a category name), will make even more clear what the page is about. It’s a bit similar as explained above at SEO-friendly URLs for your online shop.
http://example.com/mm/dd/yyyy/post-title/
If your website features daily news and the news is related to a date, be sure to include that date in the URL as well. If someone is looking for the latest news on Apple’s products, the date in the URL will already show if the page is about this year’s iPhone or not. My recommendation: only use the date in the URL if the date matters.
http://example.com/post-title/three-digit-ID/
Google News’ technical guidelines clearly state: “To make sure we only crawl new articles, please make sure your URLs are unique with at least 3 digits, and are permanent.” If for some reason you don’t want to include the date in the URL of your news article, you could add an ID for the post as well to get this covered. Keep in mind that Google News is only for news that matters to the world, which doesn’t apply to most company news 😉

TL;DR

There is no one way to create the best SEO-friendly URL. It depends on the type of website you have. Especially with a blog or news site, there are multiple options. The main thing is to keep your URLs focused. Besides that, make sure to include all the information that’s important to make clear what the page is about.

Read more:  rel=canonical • What it is and how (not) to use it  »

The post SEO-friendly URLs appeared first on Yoast.

Getting an HTTPS migration done in an enterprise environment

Posted by on Aug 2, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Getting an HTTPS migration done in an enterprise environment

Getting an HTTPS migration done in an enterprise environment

There have been some excellent articles written about the steps necessary for a successful HTTP to HTTPS migration. Although we know that a move is becoming more and more pressing, knowing what to do is only a small part of the story when you’re working in an enterprise environment. Somehow, we need to figure out at the very least:

Who do we need to persuade, and what’s going to convince them?
How are we going to mitigate risk as much as possible?
How are we going to get the actual details done? – some of these steps are simple but hard

Many of you will be living this, and be feeling these challenges keenly. We’ve been putting a lot of thought and a lot of work into helping our points of contact make these cases and get these migrations done. Here are some pointers and tips we’ve learned along the way; hopefully they’ll help you.

Sidenote: read about how we used our ODN platform to help to ship an urgent HTTPS migration for a major retailer

If you want to get some sense of the challenges, or if you don’t regularly work with large sites in complex organisations, the journey of the BBC to secure their news section might give you some idea of the complexity:

Two years ago, they talk about making changes at their CDNs to enable HTTPS in the future when the individual products (e.g. homepage or travel news) get to the point of being ready on the back-end
By the end of 2017, they are talking about enabling HTTPS to their origins and worrying about how to warm up the HTTPS caches
June 2018 we get the Medium post about the elusive padlock on BBC News after problems like an Indian government-mandated network block that rendered the site totally inaccessible

And then even after all that effort, we realise that the first links I shared there are on the “BBC blogs” section of the site which is still insecure:

Making the case for the enterprise HTTPS migration

In some cases, I find that business cases and return on investment are the most powerful drivers of change, and there are possible approaches that could use data to make this case (looking first at drops in conversion rate from warnings over unsecured pages) but my first approach would be an argument that looks more like this:

We’re definitely going to have to do this eventually
External changes mean that we shouldn’t keep putting it off – there are reputational, business, and operational risks from delaying

It’s a more risk-averse argument focusing on avoidance of downside, but it has powerful emotional elements to it:

1. We’re definitely going to have to do this eventually

There are plenty of rational arguments for the move to HTTPS (great article) but this is mainly an argument that no matter what decisions we make, we can’t put this off forever. We can look at competitors, large sites, and external moves (e.g. by Chrome) to make this point powerfully:

Websites are moving to HTTPS at unprecedented rates

Google research shows that:

More than half of large sites now have HTTPS available (moving from 39% to 54% in the year to Feb 2017) with default HTTPS doubling in a single year
The bigger / more popular a site is, the greater its chance of having HTTPS available and the greater the chance of it using HTTPS by default
A majority of desktop browsing now occurs over HTTPS

All of which means that users are becoming more accustomed to seeing HTTPS everywhere and increasingly expect it. We have even seen this in qualitative feedback from website user testing (create a free account to watch this video):

High ranking websites are particularly likely to be HTTPS

In just 9 months, after announcing HTTPS as a (minor) ranking factor, the % of HTTPS results on page 1 of Google search results jumped from 30% to over 50%:

New features increasingly assume HTTPS connections

Features like HTTP/2 (which can bring significant speed improvements to many sites), and service workers (which are required for app-like capabilities such as offline functionality) require or assume the presence of HTTPS connections. If you aren’t already up to speed on them, this presentation by our VP Product, Tom Anthony will tell you what you need to know (create a free account to watch this video).

2. External changes mean we should do it now

Browser changes increase the urgency of making the change

We have known for some time that Google in particular was going to use their Chrome browser to push webmasters to HTTPS. Initially, the just flagged sites as insecure if they were on HTTP when a form was detected:

They then announced further changes to take it from just those pages to any HTTP page:

This actually isn’t Google’s last planned update on this theme, there will be a release of Chrome sometime soon that highlights the insecurity in red:

Not only is this change raising the profile of your security setup with your users and customers and most likely hurting engagement and conversion rate, but it is starting to bring bad press down on those who haven’t made the move yet. This BBC article, for example calls out a number of sites by name and cautions that while you shouldn’t necessarily entirely avoid sites that are still on HTTP, “you should be wary on those that require you to sign in or which let you buy goods and services through them”.

Mitigating the risk of an HTTPS migration

OK, so we know it’s something we want to do, and key stakeholders are coming around to the idea, but pretty early in the process, someone is going to bring up risk factors, and how we can minimise and mitigate as many of the risks as possible.

Aside from thorough testing in a staging environment, what else can you do to reduce the risks of going to HTTPS? One key tool in the arsenal is Content Security Policy (CSP) headers. One of the hardest parts of the move is avoiding mixed-content warnings, where your (secure) page references HTTP resources and assets. A good way of mitigating risks and avoiding UI issues and broken functionality from blocked assets is to roll out HTTPS initially with a very lax CSP that allows insecure assets, but reports them via the report-uri policy directive. This means, that on any HTTPS page that uses HTTP resources, the browser will still report the page as insecure but it will work and you will get collect data on which resources are still in use where.

As you then remove all HTTP dependencies, you can tighten up the CSP to much stricter policies and achieve the “secure” label in the browser. Once all pages are fully on HTTPS and redirects are in place, you can add HSTS (Strict-Transport-Security) to the mix. HSTS is a header served on the HTTPS version of your site that is cached by browsers and informs them not to trust the HTTP version in future and always to request the HTTPS version of every page on your site (until the expiry of the HSTS setting).

(Note: the more important security is to your site, the further down this rabbit-hole you may wish to go – right up to preloaded HSTS sites – though note that this is not easily reversible even temporarily in the event of certificate errors.)

There are a variety of great resources on the SEO details, with checklists and processes to follow, so I’m not going to repeat all of the steps here. I recommend:

This article on all the benefits of HTTPS and technical features you can use once you have moved over
Patrick Stox outlined the process, and Aleyda published a great checklist on the SEO steps and implications
You may find it useful to refer to the official Google line (from John Mueller) to reassure stakeholders about Google’s view of the process and its benefits

THOUGH I am very concerned about the advice to “use 302 redirects + rel=canonical to HTTP if you want to test HTTPS but not have it indexed”. I would not recommend ever having canonical links that point to pages that redirect back to the original page (even 302 redirects). I would recommend not doing this.

How are we going to get the details implemented?

As always, knowing what to do and getting agreement to go ahead is only a small part of the battle in many organisations. Large websites and big companies typically have myriad dependencies and integrations of older systems that throw up unexpected roadblocks in the way of the objective. In the case of an HTTPS migration, this is often things like:

We have mixed-content warnings that we can’t deal with at scale – how are we going to update all the references to images on http URLs? What about our 3rd-party plugins and embeds?
Our canonical links all point to the HTTP version of our site and the engineering work to update them across all the different page templates is going to add scary amounts of money to the cost of this project – potentially across multiple back-ends / CMS
We want to add Referrer-policy and especially Content Security Policy headers to enable better testing and mitigate risks, but we have no way to control HTTP headers through our CMS

Recommendations of what to do are worthless if you can’t get them done – a mantra that we repeat a lot at Distilled is it’s not our job to deliver reports – it’s our job to effect change. One of the ways we’ve done this is by building the ODN platform which makes it easy to make agile changes to HTML and HTTP responses. We just completed an urgent HTTPS migration for a major retailer where we addressed exactly these kind of blockers with the platform – you can read more about that here.

If you’re in the unfortunate situation of knowing you need to make the move to HTTPS, and having the organisation aligned, but being blocked by these kinds of technical issue, drop us a line to discuss whether we can help.

CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ODN

WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts To Work Faster

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts To Work Faster

WordPress Keyboard Shortcuts To Work Faster

If you’re like me, I’m sure you’d want to bang out a blog post as quickly as possible. After all, we already have our hands full on other important stuffs right?

We all aim to be efficient in our work. Sometimes I’d think to myself, “Why should I reach over to my mouse to click on a tab. Isn’t there a quicker way to do it with my keyboard?” Luckily for us, there are a bunch of nifty WordPress shortcuts that will save you time and avoid unnecessarily expanding calories to click your mouse.

If you don’t already know, a large part of the Internet is powered by the content management system called WordPress. Almost every blogger loves using it, being user-friendly, SEO friendly, with easy publishing. While it is often known for a blogging platform, WordPress is more than that thanks to its extensibility.

Of course, you might think why you should go the extra mile to learn the WordPress keyboard shortcuts. This may not matter that much if you post in a low frequency, but if you’re likely to post several articles or more per day, it can add up pretty quickly. Thus, these WordPress keyboard shortcuts can prove nothing less than a blessing.

In the next few sections, we’ll look at shortcuts that you can use for different kinds of tasks.

How To Turn On WordPress Shortcuts

If you try using shortcuts in a fresh installation of WordPress, you will notice that nothing will happen. This is because keyboard shortcuts are disabled by WordPress by default. It may be inconvenient at first, but here are a few steps you should take before setting up.

1) Navigate to the WordPress Dashboard.

2) At the sidebar on the left, click on “Your Profile”

3) Once you reach the profile page, simply check the box next to “Keyboard Shortcuts” and click Update Profile.

It’s really that simple!

Editor Shortcuts
Basic Formatting

First up, let’s run through the basic WordPress formatting shortcuts. There’s a good chance you’re already familiar with these, but I want to make sure I cover everything because these are very important, though these WordPress shortcuts are widely known:

These are generic keyboard shortcuts that are used on most of the software applications.

Advanced Formatting

Now, let’s see the more advanced editor shortcuts:

Alt + Shift + l = Align Left
Alt + Shift + c = Align Center
Alt + Shift + r = Align Right
Alt + Shift + d = Strikethrough
Alt + Shift + j = Justify Text
Alt + Shift + u = Bulleted List
Alt + Shift + o = Numbered List
Alt + Shift + s = Remove Link
Alt + Shift + q = Quote
Alt + Shift + m = Insert Image
Alt + Shift + p = Insert Page Break

Shortcuts for Managing Comments

If you have a busy blog, sorting through hundreds of comments daily can become a real chore.

Luckily, if you memorize some of these commands, you should be able to cut down your moderation time to a matter of minutes. In order to do so, you must select the comment first and then press the corresponding key.

Here is the full list of commands:

A (Approve) – Approves the selected comment to be published
D (Delete) – Sends the comment to the trash and/or deletes comment
S (Mark as Spam) – Marks the comment as spam
Z (Undo) – Undo previous command
U (Unapproved Comment) – Sends a previously approved comment back into the moderation queue
R (Reply) – Start a reply to the selected comment
Q (Quick Edit) – Quick edit of selected comment
E (Edit) – Advanced editing of selected comment
X (X marks the spot) – Ticks the checkbox

Bonus WordPress Hacks You Should Know

Up until here, I figured it would be boring and insufficient to just talk about WordPress keyboard shortcuts. In this section, I’ve picked out 6 handy WordPress hacks that will change the way you blog forever (I will do a detailed post about it in the future).

Again, these WordPress hacks don’t require any sort of coding or technical knowledge, and you can implement them into your blogging routine immediately.

Let’s get started!

1. Go Full-Screen For Zero Distractions

To write as efficiently and effectively as possible, you need zero distractions. The simple solution is to switch to full-screen editor, which gives you a stark-white canvas to work from.

Upon clicking on it, the essential formatting tools such as headings, links and lists are still there. They are just hidden away, appearing only when you place your mouse pointed at the top of the screen.

To get into the full-screen editor (called the Distraction – Free Writing Mode in WordPress), click the full-screen icon from your standard WordPress editor menu.

You can also get there by using a keyboard shortcut. Just press Alt + Shift + w.

To close the full-screen editor, press Escape. Or click the “Exit full-screen editor” link. (Actually, just press escape. It’s faster, and that’s what this post is about right?)

2. Let WordPress Do the Heavy Lifting When Finding Internal Links

If you’ve noticed on all of our SEOPressor blog posts, we love to build internal links form our new articles to those published ones. So whenever we come across opportunities to link to something we’ve written before, we’ll jump at it.

In the past, this led to a ton of “site:blog.seopressor.com keyword” searches in Google to find a suitable content. But a far better way exists.

Inside the dialogue box to insert/edit a link, there’s an easily-missed option lurking at the bottom – “Or link to existing content”

The dialogue box expands to how all the posts you’ve ever written on your blog.

Click the post you want to link to and WordPress automatically copies that post into the URL and Title fields up above.

3. Clean Up Your WordPress Dashboard

If you’ve installed plenty of plugins, I’m sure your WordPress dashboard can get pretty messy. Want to clean it up so that it isn’t such an eyesore?

Keep what you need; hide what you don’t. Voila!

Simple. Just click on “Screen Options” at the top right corner of your dashboard, and a list of all the widgets/blocks which you’ve got on your dashboard will appear. You may hide or show the widgets as you please.

4. Keep Tabs On Your Word Count

You can check your word count any time by looking at the bottom of your post editor:

In the standard editor, the word count is at the bottom of the text box, just above the custom settings

5. Drop Images Right Into Your Post

This is a really cool feature on WordPress. For a while now, you could drag and drop images directly into the post itself, bypassing the “Add Media” button entirely!

A really helpful time saver.

6. Add Live Links With A Shortcut

If you’re linking out a lot to other contents when writing your posts, you’re sure to benefit from this feature. Basically, instead of having to select the text you want to add a link to and then clicking the “Insert Link” button from the toolbar, you can do it in a simpler way:

First, make sure that the URL that you want to use for the link is in your clipboard, then just highlight the text you want to link, and press Ctrl + v. The link will then be included automatically.

Takeaway

Now that you have been introduced to the amazing world of WordPress shortcuts, you should be able to exponentially increase your writing efficiency as you practice them. Condensing your actions down into split-second key presses will add up to a great amount of time especially when working on a long project.

Start byactivating your WordPress account to being practising. It’s okay if a shortcut or new workflow feels strange at first. Nobody becomes a true WordPress master overnight. But time spent learning these tricks could pay back ten times over.

In the near future, I will be back with a more advanced version of WordPress Keyboard shortcuts and hacks. So be sure to stay tuned!

What’s next you ask? Content optimization of course. To know more about it, you can check out this blog post on ways to optimize your On-Page SEO.

As for now, it’s time to take your blogging to the next level!

Do you have a favorite set of shortcuts that I haven’t touched on? Which shortcut do you find to be the handiest? Share your input down in the comments section down below and get the conversation rolling!

#optin-template-3{
float: left;
margin: 0;
width: 100%;
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height: 100%;
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#optin-template-3 .container{
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display: inline-block;
width: 88%;
padding: 3% 6% 0%;
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margin: 5px 0 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
color: #4a7fa3;
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/2016/09/18-Effective-Tips-To-Generate-Ideas-For-Your-Blog.png);
background-size: contain;
background-repeat: no-repeat;
}
#optin-template-3 .right-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 60%;
min-width: 250px;
max-width: 305px;
padding: 24px 4% 32px;
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text-align: left;
padding-left: 0;
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#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul li{
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
margin-left: 20px;
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#optin-template-3 .optIn-form{
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18 Effective Tips To Generate Ideas For Your Blog

The ultimate guide for every blogger to get more ideas for your blog post.
Identify the potential topics that you should have in your blog
Get more traffic to your website by applying these techniques
18 useful tips included to help you get creative on blog titles

SEO for boring products

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on SEO for boring products

SEO for boring products

By SEO for boring products, we mean SEO for products that are impossible to write exciting content for. Products that need a thousand words to describe all tiny details and small print, but are, in the end, just car insurances, paper clips or emergency exit signs. We have all had or have been that customer that just could not come up with the right, engaging content. Sometimes it’s just hard to write something that makes sense about a product, from your own perspective. In this article, we’ll explain how to approach SEO for boring products!

Want to learn practical SEO skills to rank higher in Google? Our Basic SEO training is just what you need! »

$199 – Buy now » Info

First: get the basics right

Regardless of what product you’re selling, you always need to make sure that the basics of SEO for your site are right. That means that you’ll have to put some decent effort into:

keyword research
site structure
technical SEO

You’re in luck. At Yoast, we offer SEO courses for every one of those aspects. Or you could start out with our Basic SEO training and take it from there. And if you are using WordPress, install our Yoast SEO plugin and we’ll cover a lot of these basics for you. So far for commercial messages.

Are your products boring, to begin with?

Sometimes we feel like a product is boring, but in the end, it really isn’t.  We’re not selling insurance; we’re selling safety. You’re not selling paper clips; you’re cleaning up or organizing a messy office desk. A hammer isn’t used to drive in a nail; we’re using it to hang a painting.

If you look closely at the goal of your product for the end user, you might find that, even though your technical specs might be boring, there is still an engaging story to tell. SEO for boring products could be less about the product itself, focusing instead on the purpose of the product. That’s just the first step. Don’t be modest about your products, but look at them from your customer’s angle.

The product category, not the product

Even with the purpose of your product in mind, we understand that it’s incredibly hard to write engaging content for every one of your 1,500 types of screws. Yes, some may have other uses than others, but in the end, a screw is a screw. When it’s hard to optimize every single product page (I’m not saying it’s impossible), you could take a closer look at your category page instead. The same rules apply: look at your product category’s purpose, not at the actual products. We’re knitting a scarf, not selling threads of wool here.

Content ideas for boring content

Content used for SEO for boring products could be just informative. But it should also be content that people want to link to and share on social media. So, perhaps you could also think along the lines of more entertaining content, like a funny product video. We see a lot of these nowadays, right? Besides that, keep in mind that your product page isn’t the only place on your website that’s suitable to inform people about your product. You could have general pages about your company that are suitable for product promotion. And what about your blog? Your blog is an excellent spot to talk more in-depth about your products, like we do on our blog about our courses and plugins. A blog is obviously awesome to help with SEO for boring products.

Learn how to write awesome and SEO friendly articles in our SEO Copywriting training »

$199 – Buy now » Info

Here are some content ideas

The input for these pages can be found everywhere. And can be quite diverse.

Check social media for ideas – what is the competition doing? You are not the only one in your niche or industry, so you’ll probably get some good ideas on what to do and what not to do. See what the competition is doing, see if something similar fits your brand and create your own stories, blog posts, product pages based on that. Learn, but don’t imitate. Improve what your competitor is doing.
Talk to your users and get their stories, so people can relate to that. Recognition is always a trigger for me. If I can relate to a story about a product – not necessarily because the product appeals to me, but the person telling the story is someone that I can relate to- the product already becomes more appealing. Think similar social groups, age categories, etcetera. Talk to your users, tell their story about your product. What have they gained by it, what did it bring them? How did their lives become better after purchasing your product or reading your website?
Write an extensive how-to or manual – people are always looking for how-tos, right? If you are selling travel insurances, your visitor wants to know what they have to do when they actually need that insurance. Will it be hard to reach you and talk to you? I can imagine a lot of them want to know how to do that upfront. And why not go overboard: how to make an elephant out of a paper clip. I’m sure it can be done. But that’s a whole different angle.
Add videos. Perhaps even more than written howtos, people watch videos. When I’m looking for a product that will set me back a certain amount of money, usually certain gadgets and other stuff I think I really need, I watch unboxing videos, people using the product and preferably live reviews. I want to see other people sharing their stories, so feel free to create that video after talking to your users as mentioned before!
Create a user story and start storytelling. Storytelling is hot, you see it more and more. ‘Create’ users and share their experiences online. Social media is excellent for this, but your blog also provides a solid base for storytelling. We mentioned before in an article about testimonials that “stories have a positive influence on a customer’s perception of a brand, as well as the willingness to purchase. Stories can affect behavior, given that the story resonates with your visitor.” And you can craft that story to your own needs, as long as you keep it natural. Create a story people can relate to.
Top 10 tips and other awesome ideas with your product. I just wanted to mention this separately. The paper clip elephant could easily grow into a top 10 paper clip animals – great for social sharing. Emergency exit signs are boring, but I’m sure a few of those appear in leading roles in Hollywood blockbusters. On a more serious note, in the case of the insurances, the top 10 tips for travels to <insert country> and that travel checklist are great ideas that will attract visitors. Again, check the competition and learn from them.

SEO for boring products is about making a product less boring by focusing less on the product and more on the visitor/customer and the reason they need your product. These stories, combined with a solid SEO base and an engaging social media strategy will help you a lot.

Good luck optimizing

The last thing that I would like to mention, is that there is a real opportunity here. If you manage to make your SEO for boring products work, if you manage to create engaging content for products that you thought were dull and uninteresting, this is going to give you an edge on your competitors. You are not alone in finding it hard to come up with that content. All your competitors are probably struggling as well. Get creative! Good luck optimizing.

Read more: Product page SEO »

The post SEO for boring products appeared first on Yoast.

Paid Search Targeting Brand Keywords = SEO Death

Posted by on Aug 1, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Paid Search Targeting Brand Keywords = SEO Death

Paid Search Targeting Brand Keywords = SEO Death

For fans of the long-running SEO Death series, this isn’t really a new issue. About two years ago I posited Is Your Adwords Campaign Hijacking Your SEO Traffic?

The answer of course was “yes.” Here’s the graph that illustrated the problem:

I am re-upping this because we just got a new client that hired us because their organic traffic had started tanking, but when you looked at the data in Google Search Console, it only showed brand queries were tanking. And said tanking started pretty much when the paid traffic started increasing.

We did some back of the envelope calculations on SEMRush CPC data available for their brand queries and we calculated this client is spending an additional $20,000/day to buy $50,000 in revenue*. This isn’t such a bad deal until one considers that until the increase in paid search traffic, the client was spending ~$0 to achieve that revenue. So their margins just took a 40% haircut.

So, next time your organic traffic tanks, before you panic try this:

 Look at the Performance report in Google Search Console for your site (for all variants)
Filter the report by “Queries containing” a proxy for a brand query. It may not always be easy to do when you have a generic brand name, but try different phrases to see what captures the most traffic that is properly bucketed
If you see the traffic for queries containing your brand term going down while traffic for queries not containing your brand term is flat or going up, move on to step #4
Look over at the paid search team. If they are high-fiving each other, we have a winner…

 

*Data has been changed to protect the innocent

The post Paid Search Targeting Brand Keywords = SEO Death appeared first on Local SEO Guide.

Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You

Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You

It’s funny, when I meet people who are leveraging content marketing, they always tell me one of two things…

Either they can’t figure out how to generate traffic (no matter how many blog posts they publish)…

OR

They’ve figured out how to generate more traffic, but the traffic hasn’t turned into any sales or new customers and they can’t figure out why.

Now, I know what you are thinking… there are so many companies that make millions from content marketing that there must be a way to make it work.

But here’s the thing. Because of my ad agency, I am able to talk to thousands of companies each year and dig into their marketing. And of the ones that leverage content marketing, most aren’t able to generate even one sale from it.

In other words, it’s not working for them.

It’s not because content marketing is flawed. It’s that most people don’t fully understand it.

Why doesn’t content marketing work for most businesses?

What most people don’t realize is that all visitors are not the same. And I’m not talking about demographics and income, I’m talking about intent.

When you land on a web page that ranks on Google because of content marketing, your actions are going to be different than if you clicked on a paid listing.

And it’s not because one is paid and one is organic… here’s what I mean.

When you do a search on Google for the term “auto insurance” you’ll see a search results page that looks something like this:

And you’ll either click on a paid listing or an organic one.

Here’s what one of the paid listings looks like:

And here’s what one of the organic listings looks like:

As you can see, the organic listing contains a lot of content… including information about the city where I performed the search, insurance options, and why I should choose Nationwide.

To some extent, it is educational and salesy all at the same time, but I’m not being sold as hard as the paid listing from AAA.

The AAA landing page only has 73 keywords. That’s it… a measly 73 keywords.

In other words, if you land on the AAA landing page you are going to click on one of the two insurance options.

On the other hand, if you land on the Nationwide site (who leverages content marketing), your eyes focus on the text instead of filling out the auto insurance lead form.

And that’s what I mean by intent.

Even though I performed the search “auto insurance,” I’m more likely to buy from the AAA site because it’s a more aggressive landing page. The Nationwide site puts me in a more educational mindset, in which I am going to read and do some research versus just getting a quote.

And Nationwide isn’t doing this because they want to educate. They are doing this because it is really hard to rank organically without providing tons of content.

Google loves content, hence the average web page that ranks on page one contains 1,890 words.

That’s why Wikipedia ranks for everything under the sun.

If you are going to leverage content marketing, you have to keep in mind that when people land on your site it will put them in the mood of reading and learning instead of buying.

So, does that mean content marketing doesn’t work?

Content marketing is amazing, and it still works really well. It doesn’t produce as many conversions as paid advertising, but you can also build up massive amounts of traffic without burning a hole in your wallet.

Let’s look at NeilPatel.com and how I leverage content marketing.

Over the last 31 days, this blog has generated 2,510,893 visits of which 1,609,314 were unique. And those visitors generated 5,890,103 pageviews.

That’s not bad, especially if you consider that I am not really leveraging paid ads (other than the few blog posts I modestly boost on Facebook each month).

And during that time period, we generated 1,942 leads within the United States of which 262 came from companies who were spending over $5,000 a month on marketing.

Most leads don’t turn into sales within 30 days as our sales cycle is longer, but so far those leads have generated $972,860 in contract value (we haven’t collected all of that money yet, but we will over the next 12 months).

The number I shared above is just revenue, it’s not profit. That number, of course, will go up as many more of the leads will turn into contracts but at the same time, my expenses will go up too.

So, can you guess how I generated almost a million dollars in new contracts in just 30 days.

Well first off, it wasn’t me… I have an amazing sales team lead by a guy named Nick Roshon. And we have an amazing fulfillment team that helps the sales team close more deals.

But the lead generation is all me… and that came from content marketing.

In other words, content marketing works… as long as you think about it the right way.

So how should you think about content marketing?

The first part is traffic. You need traffic before you can do anything else.

How do you build up traffic via content marketing?

Well, you need to write blog posts. I won’t go too in-depth on how to write blog posts as I have tons of blog posts already on that.

How to write a blog post in 45 minutes – this post breaks down how you can write amazing content without it taking up too much of your time.
How to become a better blogger in 30 days – once you’ve committed to blogging, you naturally want to improve your skills. This post will teach you how to do that over the next 30 days.
Or hire my agency – if you just want someone to do it for you, you can always reach out to us.
Or hire and manage writers yourself – you can always use the Problogger Job Board to find writers.

If you are going to take the route of hiring other writers, make sure you tell them the following rules:

You and I – use the words “you” and “I” to make the blog posts seem like a conversation. For example, “Don’t you hate it when people tell you that some things just aren’t possible? I know I do.” You see how that sounds conversational?
3 sections – a blog post should be structured with 3 main sections: Introduction, body, and conclusion. By structuring every one of your posts the same way, your readers will know what to expect and it will make it easier to skim your content. (The majority of your website visitors will skim and not read.)
Conclusion – the conclusion should be labeled “Conclusion.” The reason you want to do this is that roughly 8% of your readers will scroll down to the bottom of your blog post to read the conclusion. If they like the conclusion they will scroll back up and read the rest. (The 8% stat is from NeilPatel.com. I’m not sure what the percentage will be for your blog but I used Crazy Egg to figure this out.)
Subheadings – the body should contain subheadings, that way it is easier for people to skim. The subheadings should describe what the section is about and if you can naturally place keywords within it, feel free to do so. Just don’t force it.
Short paragraphs – try to keep the paragraphs less than 5 or 6 lines. It’s easier on the eyes, especially on mobile.
Facts and data – use stats and data to back up your talking points. Feel free to reference other sites and link to them. This will validate your content and also brand you as an authority over time.
Images – use screenshots and photography to help get your point across. Some people are visual learners, so use images when it makes sense. If you are using someone else’s images, look for copyright information and make sure you cite your sources.
2,000 to 3,000 words – it varies per industry, but if you are in a competitive industry, consider making your blog posts 2,000 or more words. I showed you earlier in this post how Google prefers ranking content that is at least 1,890 words on page 1. If you are not in a competitive industry, you can write content that is less than 1,000 words. Over time you can go back to the blog posts that are gaining traction and expand them.
Headlines have to be amazing – 8 out of 10 people will read your headline but only 2 out of 10 will click through and read the rest of your article. Before you hit the publish button, check out these stats from Buzzsumo on writing appealing headlines.
End with a question – wrap up your conclusion with a question. People are more likely to leave a comment when you ask them a question. Make sure you do this as you want engagement.

Now that you have the writing process down, it’s time to come up with topic ideas. The easiest way to figure out what’s hot is to just type in keywords within your space on Buzzsumo.

You just insert a keyword and Buzzsumo will show you all of the articles around the web that are popular related to that keyword.

By doing this you will see what people like in your space. I’m not saying you should copy these articles but instead to use them for ideas. The last thing you want to do is write content that people don’t care to read.

In addition to typing in a keyword, you can also type a URL into Buzzsumo. For example, I typed in Hubspot.com and it shows me all of their top articles.

This will give you an idea of what is working for your competition.

Now that you have some topic ideas, it’s time for you to write a blog post (or pay someone to write it for you). Just keep in mind your content has to be better than your competition. If it isn’t better than what they have, it will be hard for you to get more social shares or outrank them.

When I publish a blog post, I like asking myself the following questions:

Is your blog post more actionable than your competitors? (If not, fix it.)
Did you write on something unique or provide a different perspective than your competition? (If not, fix it.)
Would you be embarrassed if a friend or co-worker read your article? (Don’t ever publish something you wouldn’t want others to read… fix your content.)
Would you be willing to ask other people to share your content on social media and link to it? (If not, make your content better.)
Did you come up with 10 headline variations? (Don’t settle on your first headline, try to think of better ones.)

Assuming you passed all of the questions, it’s time to publish your content and generate some traffic.

So how do I generate traffic?

Sadly, there is no quick way to grow your traffic. It’s a slow grind, but over time your traffic will go up.

Here’s the traffic to the NeilPatel.com blog when I first started:

As you can see I generated 9,065 unique visitors in my first month back in August of 2014. I generated those visitors from the 4 strategies that I will break down in a bit (they still work).

And if you fast forward to the 1-year mark, I was able to 10x my traffic by August of 2015.

My traffic has continually gone up over time as well, which you can see by scrolling back up towards the beginning of this post (I’m now at 2,510,893 monthly visits, yay!).

So how do you generate more traffic?

Well, first off you need to be patient. Don’t expect the same results I achieved. Marketing is what I do, and I’m willing to dedicate more time and energy than most people.

So here are the 4 strategies I used when I started NeilPatel.com (and I still use them today).

Keep in mind that these tactics work for all types of sites and I’m assuming here that you don’t have a social following, so I won’t be giving you basic advice like “share your article on LinkedIn”.

Strategy #1: Boosting posts

Still to this day I boost my posts on Facebook. It worked even better when I was starting off, but it still works well today as it helps generate traction.

As you can see from the screenshot above, I boosted my last week’s post. I tend to boost all of my posts, which is roughly 4 times a month.

I spend $400 per post. I pick the regions: United Stated States, Canada, Australia, and the United Kingdom when boosting.

You should pick the regions where most of your ideal customers are (ideally, I should only be boosting within the United States) and make your boost lasts 2 weeks as the clicks will be cheaper than if you spent it all in one day.

If you continually do this your traffic will grow over time and you will also get more organic Facebook traffic by boosting.

If you aren’t, that means people don’t care for your content… which means you need to go back and adjust your content with the tips I broke down above.

Strategy #2: Email everyone you linked to

Within your blog post, you should have linked to other sites. As I mentioned above, you want to cite your sources and link to places where you are finding data/stats.

Every time I link to a website, I will go to their site and try to find the email of the website owner so I can let them know I linked to them.

But before I share with you an email template to send, keep in mind that you will have to modify it for your website. I can’t emphasize this enough.

And I know some of you don’t think emailing works because you get so many link building requests, but if it didn’t work you wouldn’t be getting all of those emails. 😉

I typically send an email that goes something like this…

Hey John,

Thanks for taking the time to come up with stats around XYZ. I know it’s hard work, but bloggers like me appreach it. I just borrowed some of your stats for my latest blog post and of course I linked to you and gave you credit.

[insert link to your blog post]

Feel free and check it out and let me know what you think.

Cheers,

Neil Patel

PS: If you like the post, feel free and share it on your favorite social network. 

PPS: If you ever come up with any other cool research, let me know. I may want to include it in a future post.

You need to customize the email template because the more customized it is, the better it will do.

I’ve found that if I email out 20 people, 4 or 5 usually will email me back saying thanks.

When emailing people, keep in mind that there are GDPR rules. So, you may be better off going through the contact forms on people’s website versus just sending them a cold email.

If you aren’t sure if you are breaking any GDPR rules, check with a lawyer as they’ll know much more than I will.

Strategy #3: Top sharers

One of my favorite features of Buzzsumo is that it shows you all of the people who shared your competition’s content.

All you have to do is type in the URL of your competition and click on “view sharers.”

From there you will be presented with a list of people who shared that content.

You’ll want to go to each of their Twitter profiles (or do some Googling) to see if you can find their email address or website.

Similar to the previous strategy, you’ll want to email them something that goes like this:

Hey Amanda,

Hope you are doing well.

I noticed that you tweeted out [insert the title of the article they tweeted] by author [insert author name].

It’s a good article, but it doesn’t discuss [insert what the article is missing].

Because of that, I wrote a similar article that’s more complete and up-to-date.

Let me know if you would like to check it out.

Cheers,

Neil Patel

You’ll notice that I didn’t link to my article. I first wait for their reply as I have found it to produce better results.

Typically, they will email back with something like:

Sure, I would like to see it.

And then you’ll respond with:

Here you go:

[insert link]

Feel free and share it if you like it 🙂

Cheers,

Neil

PS: Let me know if I can share anything for you.

It ranges depending on which industry you are in but typically 9% to 30% of the people you email will share your article out as well.

If you are getting a percentage that is lower than that it means that your content isn’t that great or the people you are emailing tweeted the original article out years ago instead of recently (people forget what they tweeted over time).

Again, make sure you follow GDPR rules with this tactic (feel free and consult a lawyer). You can always message people through their website contact form as well.

Strategy #4: Beg for links

The last thing I like to do within Buzzsumo is to see who linked to my competitors. You can click on “view backlinks” to see who links to similar articles from your competitors.

From there you will see a list of backlinks pointing to your competition:

And just like the previous strategies you can do some manual outreach and send them an email that goes something like:

Hey John,

Hope you are doing well.

I was reading [insert URL of the page on their site that is linking out to your competition] and I noticed you mentioned [competition’s name].

The problem with the link is that you are pointing your readers to an article that isn’t complete. It doesn’t discuss [talk about why the competition’s article isn’t as useful and thorough].

If you want to fix this, check out my article below as it addresses everything I mentioned above.

[insert link to your article]

Cheers,

Neil Patel

PS: If you want to provide more value to your readers, feel free and link to my article.

PPS: Let me know if I can do anything for you.

The email template is a bit generic, but if you modify it, personalize it, and adapt it to your business you’ll see decent results.

If you email out 100 people you should get at least 4 to 6 links.

Again, make sure you check in with a lawyer about GDPR rules as you don’t want to get in trouble for sending off cold emails to people that you shouldn’t be.

You can also send the message using the contact forms on peoples’ websites.

Now that your traffic is growing, let’s focus on building up a community.

How to build a community

A blog without a loyal fan base is tough to monetize. Without this, you won’t do well. This is the big reason that most companies I talk to never do well with their content marketing.

They just lack a community.

This doesn’t mean you won’t be able to monetize if you don’t have a community, it just means it will be harder.

But before I go into building a community, you’ll want to leverage social networks like Facebook and LinkedIn. Just remember that as they continually adjust their algorithms, it will be harder to rely on them.

For that reason, I like focusing on the tactics below.

Tactic #1: Subscribers

Some of you may have noticed that every time I publish a new blog post you get a browser notification telling you about it.

Just through browser notifications, also known as push notifications, I am able to generate an extra 42,316 visitors per month.

The way I do this is through a free tool called Subscribers.

Subscribers allows your blog readers to subscribe to your blog through their web browser (Chrome, Firefox, etc.).

The way it does this is by asking people if they want to receive “notifications” from your website (aka subscribe).

It’s the same strategy as Facebook and YouTube use.

The best part about it is that it is easy for your readers to subscribe because all they have to do is click “allow”. They don’t have enter in their name, email address or any personal information.

Once you sign up for Subscribers it will give you a JavaScript or a WordPress plugin to install. Every time someone goes to your website they will then receive a notification similar to the Facebook example above.

And over time your subscriber count will continually increase… here’s a screenshot of my dashboard with my subscriber count:

As you send out push notifications, you’ll see that people will “unsubscribe” themselves, similar to email, which is fine. But in general, it is the most effective way to boost your traffic.

All you have to do is hit the “send a notification” button within your Subscribers dashboard if you want to notify your subscribers of a new blog post. When you hit the “send a notification” button, you will see a screen that looks like this:

You can even add UTM codes, which will give you tracking within your Google Analytics.

You can pick what image you want to include with the push notification (as well as see a preview of it on the left side) and you can schedule it if you want it to go out at a later time or day.

Once you hit send, your subscribers will get a notification that looks something like this in their browser:

Whether you decided to use UTMs or not, you can always see your stats for each push within your Subscribers dashboard.

Even though I don’t talk about push notifications much, it really is the easiest way to build a community and get people to come back to your site.

There is only one issue when you use tools like Subscribers, you have to be patient. You won’t have a big list of subscribers from day one. It will take months before you see it really kicking in.

It’s more effective than email marketing and best of all Subscribers is free.

Tactic #2: Collect emails

Similar to tactic number 1, a lot of you are on my email list. I received 37,726 visitors from emailing out blog posts over the last 31 days.

Although that number may not seem high, emails make up one of my most loyal segments. If I do an email blast selling a product or service, I can instantly generate $100,000 (seriously).

And similar to Subscribers, I use a free email collection tool called Hello Bar to collect emails and build a community.

You can go, signup, add your website, and install the WordPress plugin they give you (or JavaScript).

Once you are up and running I would create an exit popup similar to what I have on NeilPatel.com.

I know most of you don’t like exit popups, but they are really effective. I collect over 1,000 emails a day from my exit popup.

As long as you are providing value and giving away something people will love, then they won’t mind entering their email address.

There are two cool parts about Hello Bar that I love:

It’s GDPR compliant – they have GDPR settings in there.
It has custom targeting settings – you can pick who sees your optin and when they see it. For example, I only show it to people once and only when they are leaving the site.

Once you log into Hello Bar, you’ll see a wizard that looks something like this:

You can choose from tons of different templates and designs. You can even upload a custom background image if you want (for this purpose I just picked the most basic template to show you how it works).

And once you pick a template you like, you can easily modify the design or image using the WYSIWYG editor.

If you also have traffic from different sources like I do (mobile, tablet, desktop) you can pick different layout types and designs for each device type.

You can also create different popups for different regions. For example, here is my Hello Bar exit popup for Brazil:

Out of all the methods I’ve tested for email collection, exit popups work the best.

But if you really don’t want to use them, you can create sliders, bars, and other forms of email collection boxes using Hello Bar that aren’t as aggressive.

Now that you have an email list going, you’ll want to send out an email blast to your list every time you publish a blog (or every time you publish an amazing one if you blog too often – you don’t want to clutter people’s inbox).

What I’ve found is that I generate more comments and social shares from my push notification and email list than any other channel.

To give you an idea, over the last 31 days, push notifications made up 38.5% of my blog comments and email has made up 32.3% of my comments.

It’s crazy… they beat out every other channel by far.

So, what’s next?

Well, assuming you are growing your traffic, collecting more subscribers and emails… you should be building a nice solid user base to monetize.

You have a few ways you can monetize.

The first is to just sell more products. A great example of this is Legion Athletics. It’s an 8-figure business that started with content marketing.

When you go to Legion’s blog, you’ll notice that they do a few things…

First, they try and push you into taking their quiz as it is a great way for them to make product recommendations based on your needs.

Once you start taking the quiz, they’ll ask you personalized questions so they can direct you towards the right supplements for you.

It’s one of the best ways to convert blog readers into customers. And if you don’t know how to create a quiz, just check out Lead Quizzes. It’s a software that does it for you.

It works so well, I even have a quiz on NeilPatel.com.

In other words, quizzes work well for both B2B and B2C sites. It doesn’t matter if you are selling a product, service, or info product, quizzes work.

Heck, at one point I was able to grow my lead count by 500% through quizzes.

Now going back to Legion, they also do a few other things really well.

They notify you every time there is a new purchase made on their site. (Timothy Sykes also does a great job with this.)

And they have different types of exit popups depending where you are on their site.

Some of them sell products:

And some focus on collecting emails (they do something smart, which is they ask you a question before asking for your email… typically converts better):

By showcasing all of these examples from Legion, I am trying to show you that content marketing does convert if you focus on the conversion aspect.

Remember how earlier I talked about how when people go to websites with content they are there to read and learn? That doesn’t mean you can’t convert them into customers. You just have to put in a bit more work than just telling them to buy your product.

Legion grew to 8 figures a year using these tactics, which means it works. Sure, you all know I can do it, but the Legion team isn’t made up of marketers, it is made up of fitness fanatics.

Even Timothy Sykes, he generates 61% of his sales from content marketing. That’s a business that makes well into the millions of dollars per month.

So what’s my secret sauce?

I showed you how Legion monetizes their blog, now I want to show you how I monetize my blog.

I use 5 main channels to convert my content marketing traffic into leads and then my sales team converts those leads into revenue.

But before I go over them, keep in mind this will work if you have a personal blog or a corporate blog. And it will work if you are in B2B, B2C, selling products, collecting leads, or selling a service. In other words, it pretty much works for all blogs. 😉

Let’s go over each of them…

Tactic #1: Exit popups

I showed you my exit popup above and that’s I how I collect most of my emails. Once I collect an email, I send off an email that looks something like this:

[insert first name], as promised, here is the cheat sheet that breaks down how I ranked on page 1 of Google for terms like “online marketing” and “SEO”. (I hope you enjoy it… I spent a lot of time creating it.)

Just as a heads up, the cheat sheet is advanced, but if you follow it you’ll do well.

It goes over the tactics I personally use and over the next few weeks, I’ll also share a few marketing hacks that you won’t find anywhere else. 😉

Now, if you need more help, feel free and check out my ad agency, Neil Patel Digital, where we can do everything for you.

And if you have any questions, just hit the reply button and ask away. It’s my personal email and I am here to help you.

Seriously, don’t be shy.

Cheers,

Neil Patel

If you look at the email above, you’ll notice that I link to my ad agency.

That email helps collect a solid portion of my qualified leads. It doesn’t bring in the majority, but I’ve found that people on my email list are 278% more likely to turn into customers.

When you collect emails, don’t be afraid to promote your product or service. It doesn’t have to be in your first email, you can do it over time.

For example, Ramit from I Will Teach You to be Rich, usually waits 30 days to promote his products. You typically have to be on his email list for at least 30 days before you see any promotions.

Tactic #2: Lead flow funnel

On NeilPatel.com, you’ll notice that I have a few different URL optins.

On my homepage, I ask you for your URL:

And I push you through an analyzer that looks like this:

And then I collect a lead that gets passed to my sales team:

I have a similar flow on every page. For example, on blog posts, I have a top bar:

I also have them within the sidebar of my blog posts:

That simple analyzer that I am pushing traffic to accounts for over 90% of my leads. It works that well. Just look at how much revenue my sales team closed in the last 31 days (I shared it above).

You have to get creative with your funnel. If you are unsure of how to create a funnel, check out this blog post.

Tactic #3: Webinars

Once you are on my email list, you will see the opportunity to join my webinar.

From there I pitch you on my agency. If you are wondering how a webinar funnel works, you should read this blog post as I break it all down in there.

When I used to sell info products, for every 100 webinar registrations I was generating 3.6 sales. Each sale is worth $997. After refunds, the 3.6 sales would turn into $3,050.82.

I eventually ditched the info product webinar and focused on collecting consulting leads.

If you want to see my latest webinar presentation (feel free and use my slides and modify it for your business), you can download them here.

Tactic #4: Thank you pages

Have you seen my thank you page?

Everyone who opts into my email list sees it. I talk about my ad agency in a short video and it helps drive leads.

Tactic #5: Blog mentions

The last tactic I use to generate sales from content marketing is to just mention my business within my blog post.

How many times do you think I mentioned my ad agency, Neil Patel Digital, in this post?

Probably enough to generate an extra 500 to 1,000 visitors to my agency site.

The last time I did it, the agency had an all-time high of 970 visitors in one day. That’s not too shabby.

Sometimes it generates qualified leads and other times it doesn’t. But it’s a numbers game.

Conclusion

It’s much easier to grow traffic to a blog than it is to monetize. Content marketing is effective as long as you can drive qualified traffic and you can convert those visitors into customers.

For example, on NeilPatel.com I have a lot of posts about Instagram and how to grow followers. Although this Instagram post is one of my most popular pieces of content… in multiple languages…

Those visitors will never convert into qualified leads.

Before you do any form of content marketing, make sure you are really going after an audience that will buy your products and services.

Once you’ve got the targeting down, then start cranking out content, promoting it and building a community.

In general, it will take you a year to see decent results in traffic. And I would recommend that you avoid monetizing within the first 12 months. You could try to monetize earlier, but I’ve found it to slow down traffic growth.

So, I prefer investing in pure traffic growth during the first year and then slowly transitioning into monetization in year two. And to clarify, I don’t slow down on traffic growth and marketing, instead, I focus on both traffic and conversions.

Do you see why content marketing works for me and not most people? So, what are you waiting for… are you going to implement what you just learned?

The post Why Content Marketing Works for Me and Not You appeared first on Neil Patel.

Using behavioral design to reduce bounce rate

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Using behavioral design to reduce bounce rate

It comes as no surprise that humans have terribly short attention spans. In fact, a study by Microsoft put a number on it: 8 seconds – less than the attention span of a goldfish. The implications for online marketing are huge. In a noisy and highly competitive online space, you either grab a visitor’s attention the moment they land on your website or lose them – possibly forever.

Bounce rate is an important metric for measuring how users engage with a website. It indicates the percentage of visitors who navigate away from your site after viewing only one page.

Think of the times when, as a web user, you visited a website and immediately headed for the back button. While the decision to exit the page may have been made unconsciously, the reality is that certain ‘unappealing’ elements on the website influenced that decision. This is the basis of behavioral design. The rationale is that if certain elements of a web page can drive users away, then there must be other characteristics that can make them stay.

Leading behavior scientist, BJ Fogg, has extensively studied how technological solutions influence behavior and outlines a three-step method for using design to change behavior. These are:

Getting specific about the desired behavior
Making it easy for users to reach that outcome
Using triggers to prompt the behavior.

If we apply this method to bounce rates, then the first step is clear. The goal is to get your site visitor to click another link. But how do you fulfill the other two obligations? How do you create an environment that encourages users to perform this action?  Here are three strategies to implement.

Improve branding

Fogg, along with other researchers, studied 2500 web users to understand how they assess a website’s credibility. They found that the average consumer paid far more attention to the visual design of a site than to its content.

Almost half (46.1%) of the participants judged a website’s credibility based on the ‘design look’. This includes the overall appeal of the visual design, the layout, typography and color schemes.

What does this mean for bounce rates? If users don’t perceive your website as credible, you’ll have a hard time getting them to stick around, let alone click on anything else on your site. Uniform and visually-appealing branding immediately catches the attention of a site visitor, especially if you’re a new brand.

Therefore, it’s important to have a brand identity with uniform branding – not just for your web pages (copy and color), but your entire web presence (including social media and landing pages).

Technological advances grant businesses of all sizes the ability to create their brand’s identity based on data. Tailor Logo, for instance, is a tool for generating logos/branding kits using dedicated machine learning algorithms that enable businesses to stay consistent in all the touch points where users may come across your brand.

In addition, the tool helps users develop the perfect typography for their branding through a series of carefully designed questions that provide insights into the brand’s identity and objective. Typography is critical for improving a visual design; a Nielsen study found that small font sizes and low-contrast are the number one complaint for web users as it relates to reading online.

Reduce cognitive load

Cognitive load refers to the total amount of mental effort required to complete a task that involves processing of information. In practical terms, this is the amount of mental resources users have to dedicate to be able to understand/process the information on your website.

Since the recent GDPR implementation, I’ve lost count of the number of sites where I’m bombarded with two or three pop-ups as soon as I land on the page.

This leaves site visitors with too much choice and too many tasks to perform. What should they do first? Accept privacy policies, read content, subscribe to your newsletter, or pay attention to the flashing ebook download? It’s not difficult to see why users will choose the easiest option – a quick exit.

What you should do is consider every page as a single entity and give some thought to what a user who visits a specific page might want to do. If it’s a blog post, then getting the information they need is likely the user’s main intent. So, do away with unhelpful pop-ups and focus on giving the user a seamless reading experience. Embedding the links to your lead magnets within the content could be far more effective in this context. If you must use a triggered opt-in form, have it come up only when the user attempts to exit the page.

Perfect your triggers

Revisiting Fogg’s three-step model, the last step is to provide a trigger for the desired behavior.  In this case, you want users to follow a link on your web page. This could be a glaring CTA button or a subtler link embedded within a blog post. But how do you make it easy for users to act on these cues?

Make the triggers relevant. Suppose a user reads an interesting blog post on how to write web copy and is interested in learning more techniques, but the suggested content and lead magnet on the blog post page are about data mining. What would be the logical next step for this user? Contrast that with a page with links to relevant copywriting content. It’s clear how this user will respond differently.

Place triggers in the right places. Understanding how users interact with spaces is important. If you haven’t heard of the F-pattern yet, then you should. The Nielsen group conducted an eye-tracking research, which revealed that people scan web pages and phone screens in the shape of the letter F.

The key takeaway is that for any piece of content, users pay the most attention to the first few paragraphs, then somewhere down the middle and finally take a few glances at the end. In other words, they scan – not read – information.

If you are hiding vital information in between large blocks of text, then that’s bad news. Readers won’t see it. Your content should be easy to scan so that readers can quickly find the information they need. This includes links to more relevant content, offers or contact information.

Conclusions

A good bounce rate is important for online success. By using insights from online user behavior to improve your website design, you can increase engagement, reduce bounce rates and ultimately improve conversion.

Pius Boachie is the founder of DigitiMatic, an inbound marketing agency.

How we did an emergency HTTPS migration using the ODN to avoid Chrome security warnings [case study]

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How we did an emergency HTTPS migration using the ODN to avoid Chrome security warnings [case study]

How we did an emergency HTTPS migration using the ODN to avoid Chrome security warnings [case study]

Getting changes made in enterprise environments is hard, even when there are clear financial impacts of not making the changes. Anyone who hasn’t migrated to HTTPS by this point, is aware of the need; it hasn’t happened yet because of insurmountable blockers like mixed-content warnings in hard-to-update back-end systems.

If this sounds like you, read on because the architecture of the ODN, deploying as a CDN, or between your CDN and origin, means that it’s agnostic to whatever server-side technologies you are using, and whatever CMS you have in place, so no matter what limitations your tech stack is imposing, the ODN can help get past these kinds of blockers and allow you to migrate quickly to HTTPS if you haven’t already done so. Get in touch if you want to learn more or see a demo of the ODN.

CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ODN

With the rollout of Chrome 68 highlighting all HTTP sites as not secure, there has been widespread press about some sites getting “flagged” (here is the BBC highlighting the Daily Mail in their headline and calling out half a dozen retailers by name).

Sometimes companies behave just like the people that make them up. Most of us can remember a time when we’ve left that big piece of work until really close to the deadline, or even ended up starting work once it’s arguably a tiny bit too late. And businesses do the same – whether it’s shipping the GDPR-related privacy policy update on May 24th (yeah, ok, we did that), or fixing mobile-friendliness issues in a frantic mobilegeddon-related rush, what’s important is too often left until it becomes urgent.

In the case of HTTPS migrations, though, there are a range of reasons why it can actually be really hard to get them done in an enterprise environment. It’s common to have an organisational desire to get this done, but to have specific technical blockers. So, with the growing urgency coming from the external changes, we’ve been looking for ways to live up to our core values and effect change and get things done. In alignment with this, we recently got an urgent HTTPS migration done for a major retailer by using our ODN platform to mitigate a range of technical and on-page blockers. Here’s how:

On-page changes

One of the most common blockers to an HTTPS migration in enterprise environments is fixing mixed-content warnings where your newly-HTTPS pages rely on assets or scripts that are still loaded over HTTP. Even once you have your images (for example) also moved over to a secure hosting environment, you still need to update all the references to those images to use their HTTPS URLs.

We have used the ODN to:

Update image links from HTTP to HTTPS
Modify the embed codes and script references for 3rd party plugins
Update inline CSS references to HTTP assets

By being able to do this site-wide, across all pages sharing a particular template, or on specific pages, we get the right blend of power and efficiency that enables a large volume of mixed-content warnings to be resolved in a short period of time.

Fixing meta information

There’s a variety of meta information that might need to be updated during the migration to HTTPS, but probably the most important is the canonical and hreflang information. The ODN can inject this information into pages where it’s missing (including into the headers for PDFs, for example), and update existing links to the new scheme.

Since canonical and hreflang links are poorly-handled by many CMSs, the power of being able to fix this “outside the system” is powerful and can be set up as a final check to ensure correct canonical links.

Setting up redirects

A critical part of the deployment of a migration to HTTPS is the 1-1 page-level redirects from HTTP pages to HTTPS pages. It’s common for this to be hard to manage, because you may well want to prevent your origin server from even responding to port 80 (HTTP) requests in the new secure world, which means your server can’t handle the redirects needed. We can serve them for you, and make sure that every request hitting your origin is port 443 (HTTPS).

It’s possible to set up redirect rules at the edge with a CDN, but our platform brings two main benefits over that approach:

if you are migrating sections of your site at a time, we and flexibly update the rules for complex groups of pages
we can add logic to avoid chained redirects which is often difficult with blanket rules.

Adding and modifying headers

Content Security Policy (CSP) headers are an important part of many HTTPS setups, and in particular, in risk-averse environments, you may well want to use a changing set of CSP headers to roll out HTTPS cautiously:

Roll out initially with a very lax CSP that allows insecure assets, but reports them via the report-uri policy directive

This means, that on any HTTPS page that uses HTTP resources, the browser will still report the page as insecure but it will work and you will get collect data on which resources are still in use where

As you then remove all HTTP dependencies, you can tighten up the CSP to much stricter policies and achieve the “secure” label in the browser

You may modify this on a section-by-section basis as each section meets the technical requirements

Once all pages are fully on HTTPS and redirects are in place, you can add HSTS (Strict-Transport-Security) to the mix

HSTS is a header served on the HTTPS version of your site that is cached by browsers and informs them not to trust the HTTP version in future and always to request the HTTPS version of every page on your site (until the expiry of the HSTS setting)

It can be difficult in many hosting environments to achieve this level of granularity, control, and agility with changes to headers, and the ODN can help with controlling them at the page, template, or domain level.

Want to see it first-hand?

The architecture of the ODN, deploying as a CDN, or between your CDN and origin, means that it’s agnostic to whatever server-side technologies you are using, and whatever CMS you have in place, so no matter what limitations your tech stack is imposing, the ODN can help fix up these kinds of blockers.

If you are in an environment where you are blocked from getting important things done by a lack of agility for on-page and server configuration changes, we might be able to help. Drop us a line if you would like to see our ODN platform in action.

CONTACT US TO LEARN MORE ABOUT THE ODN

SEO Audit Checklist for 2018

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on SEO Audit Checklist for 2018

SEO Audit Checklist for 2018

SEO audits are the single best way to figure out why you’re not getting SEO results.

It is the first activity my agency does when bringing on a new client.

In this article, I’m going to show you how you can perform a complete SEO audit in 2018.

DOWNLOAD the free SEO audit checklist for 2018.

Remember two things before you begin:

The time investment for any audit is dependent on the size of your website.
A good SEO audit is all about asking the right questions.

Here’s what this SEO audit checklist will be covering:

Step 1: What Are Your Strategic Objectives?
Step 2: Keyword Analysis
Step 3: Competitor Analysis
Step 4: Technical Analysis
Step 5: Page Level Analysis
Step 6: Content Analysis
Step 7: User Experience Analysis
Step 8: Link Analysis
Step 9: Citation Analysis

Let’s jump in.

What is an SEO Audit?

An SEO audit uncovers ways for you to improve your SEO campaign.

The goal is to identify weak points in your campaign that are hurting your performance.

This process will give you a list of action items that you need to fix.

If you take action on this list, you should see improvements in your SEO performance.

When Should You Do An Audit?

As I mentioned, we always perform an audit when we bring on a new client.

But, we will also audit a current campaign every quarter.

This is to ensure that we didn’t miss anything and to identify any new problems.

An audit is always a good way to evaluate our performance.

There are two times we perform audits:

1. at the beginning of every new campaign
2. once a quarter

Now that you understand the basics, let’s jump into the first step of the SEO audit.

The Complete 9 Step SEO Audit

Follow these 9 steps and you will leave no stone left unturned. Remember, a successful SEO campaign is the product of hundreds of positive ranking factors. That is why it is critical that you examine every detail of your campaign. You don’t have to be 100% perfect, but that should be the goal.

Let’s start:

Step 1: What Are Your Strategic Objectives?

Goal: to determine what your long-term goals are for your SEO campaign and business.

I have said this before and I will say this again:

SEO is a means to an end.

It is nothing more than a marketing channel to grow your business.

That’s why your Strategic Objectives should be what your business is trying to achieve through SEO.

Clear Strategic Objectives keep your campaign focused and help you achieve your goals.

If you already have a Strategic Objective, then this is the time to review it.

Are your objectives Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Timely (S.M.A.R.T.)?

You need to refine them if they are not.

If you do not have Strategic Objectives for your SEO campaign, then now is time to create them.

Here are some examples of Strategic Objectives for an SEO campaign using the S.M.A.R.T. principle:

“Blue Widget Inc. will easily increase its organic search visibility by 50% within the next 6 months.”
“Blue Widget Inc. will easily grow from 20 linking root domains to over 100 link root domains within the next 6 months.”
“Blue Widget Inc. will easily grow its lead volume from organic search by 20% within the next 12 months.”

Your Strategic Objective should be a mix of SEO KPIs and business KPIs.

Now let’s go into keyword analysis.

Step 2: Keyword Analysis

Goal: to determine whether the current keyword targeting strategy is worth it. And, to find untapped keywords that could result in “easy” wins.

You need to reexamine your current set of keywords before jumping head first into your audit.

The first thing you want to ask is:

Are you targeting the right keywords?

Often times, the keywords that some businesses are going after are way out of their league.

They think they can win on “homerun” keywords… But they will more than likely end up failing.

A good audit will help you determine the quality of your keywords.

More often than not, I will have the client target less competitive long tail keywords.

My team and I refer to these keywords as “easy wins”.

It is a good practice to review your current set of keywords.

You should do this on a quarterly basis.

It’s always better to focus your resources on keywords that are performing well.

Do not spread your resources across many keywords.

Isolate your winners and go after those.

But, now you are likely wondering:

How do I know if I’m targeting the “right” keywords?

Think of your keywords as goals.

Every keyword that you decide to target is a goal you want to achieve for your SEO campaign.

That means you need to use the S.M.A.R.T. principle.

Specific

You need to choose a specific set of keywords to target.

A list of a thousand keyword is not specific.

Choose 10, 20, or 100 keywords depending your budget and resources.

Measurable

You must measure the performance of your keywords.

There are some SEOs that say you shouldn’t track keywords anymore.

I agree that tracking keywords without tracking other important KPIs isn’t effective.

But, tracking your core keywords is an excellent way to see how Google is valuing your website.

It’s also a way to measure the impact of your link acquisition.

To measure the performance of your keywords, I use Pro Rank Tracker.

Attainable

Are you targeting keywords that are beyond what your website is capable of?

The truth is:

New websites struggle to rank for competitive keywords.

That’s because:

The websites that rank for competitive keywords are aged and trusted.
These same websites will be more authoritative than yours because they have been acquiring backlinks for years.
Since they are ranking for competitive keywords, that means they will also have a much larger budget than you. This will allow them to buy authoritative link placements to maintain their position.

You have to be realistic.

If your site is new, then you should target long-tail keywords.

Don’t let your ego determine what keywords you want to go after.

I’m not saying you are egotistical.

I’m saying that because I have let my ego determine my keyword selection process in the past.

It went something like this:

“Dude, I’m so good at SEO and I can literally rank for anything.”

Yup.

That’s how I used to be.
Moral of the story: don’t let your ego dictate your campaign.

Be realistic and use the data to determine your path.

Relevant

This should be obvious, but your keyword should be relevant to what your business does.

Time-Bound

How long do you think it will take you to rank for your current set of keywords?

You need to put a deadline.

Remember, improving your site’s performance for a keyword is goal. You should try to achieve that goal as fast as possible.

The S.M.A.R.T. principle is only the first step to validating your current keyword set.

You now need to analyze the competition for those keywords.

Step 3: Competitor Analysis

Goal: to validate your keywords and find missed link opportunities.

A good audit will analyze the competition for a few reasons:

First, to see whether a keyword is too competitive.
Second, to see what types of content is performing well for the competitors.
Third, to scrape the competitor’s link profile for possible link opportunities.

Remember:

You need to analyze your competitors to validate your keyword selections.

You should be asking yourself:

“Are my keyword selections too ambitious?”
Or, “are my keyword selections too conservative?”

We split our competitor analysis into two segments.

The first is just a quick analysis of PA and DA in the SERPS.

You will need the Moz toolbar for this.

Let’s say we wanted to rank for the keyword “marketing automation”.

Enter “marketing automation” into Google and scan the results.

We look for websites that have a DA less than 50. In this case, there is one site ranking for the keyword “marketing automation” with a DA less than 50.

DA is a decent gauge for determining whether a keyword is worth going after or not.

At scale, this process is the quickest way to eliminate keywords from your list.

Keep in mind:

Competition is all relative.

For example, it would be foolish to target “marketing automation” if your website is new. But, if you have an established website with authority, then it may be something to consider.

The second analysis is more in-depth because we are trying to find link opportunities.

I won’t go too deep into this, but use Ahrefs or Majestic to analyze the link profiles of your competitors.

Read this guide to learn how to analyze competitors. I also recommending checking First Site Guide’s audit tool. It’s a diamond in the rough.

Are There Any Low Hanging Fruits / “Easy” Wins?

Now let me show you how you can find low hanging fruits.

We will use SEM Rush and Google Search Console for this.

Go into Google Search Console and click on “Search Traffic” and “Search Analytics”.
Select “Impressions” and “Position”.
Then sort the results by “Position” will the lowest ranking position at the top.

Like this:

These are low hanging fruits that you can target.

If you website isn’t ranking for any keywords, then you will need to use SEM Rush to find low hanging fruits.

Go to SEM Rush
Enter a competitor URL
Go to “Organic Research” and “Positions”
Sort the keyword list to show lowest search volume keywords

I prefer to start with the lower volume keywords because they are the easiest to rank for. Here are some low hanging fruits I found digging through BodyBuilding.com’s traffic data:

Now let me show you how to perform a technical analysis.

Step 4: Technical Analysis

Goal: to identify technical issues that are hurting user experience and hurting your search engine performance.

Technical issues can plague your website’s SEO performance.

The good news is that you have tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider at your side.

These tools will help you identify many of the prevalent issues.

Let’s begin:

How Fast Does Your Website Load?

How fast your website loads impacts user experience in either a positive or negative way.

That’s why it is at the top of the Technical Analysis checklist.

Use Pingdom and Google’s website speed tool to get your benchmarks.

Any website that takes longer than 3 seconds to load has room for improvement. It is ideal if you can your site load under 1 second, but this is challenging.

Here are some resources that will speed up your website:

How to Improve Your Page Load Speed by 70.39% in 45 Minutes
How To Speed Up Your WordPress Site – And Increase Organic Traffic By 39.1%
11 Low-Hanging Fruits for Increasing Website Speed (and Conversions)

Is the Website Mobile Friendly?

This is a no brainer, but you need to check whether your site is mobile friendly or not.

Google considers this to be a strong ranking factor, so do not take it lightly.

Use Google’s mobile friendly check for the analysis.

The solution is pretty simple here:

If your site isn’t mobile friendly, then make it mobile friendly.

Check these guides for further assistance:

10 Ways to Make Your Website More Mobile Friendly
Google’s Mobile Friendly Guide

Is There Keyword Cannibalization?

One of the most important factors to look for in an audit is keyword cannibalization.

“Keyword cannibalization” is when two pages are competing for the same keyword.

This can confuse Google and force it to make a decision on what page is “best” for the search query.

It’s always better to guide Google instead of letting it make decisions.

You must get rid of keyword cannibalization to achieve this goal.

There is one form of keyword cannibalization that is most common:

When you optimize the homepage and a subpage for the same keyword.

This is most common on the local level.

Example:

Let’s say it’s a local personal injury lawyer from Chicago.

The homepage title would look like this:

“Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer | Awesome Law Firm”

At the same time the client will also have a subpage optimized like:

“Best Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer | Awesome Law Firm”

These needs to be avoided.

Choose one page to optimize for “Chicago Personal Injury Lawyer” and unoptimize the competing page.

There is one other cannibalization issue you need to look for and it involves your blog.

There is nothing wrong with writing about the same topics more than once.

But in excess, it can cause some confusion.

Google will struggle to identify what page is most authoritative for that keyword.

More importantly, Google wants you to write comprehensive, original, and well-thought-out content.

Not short, thin articles that do not fully explain a topic.

There are exceptions to the rule, but thin content should be avoided for most businesses.

Remember that powerful and well-developed SEO content performs better in the search engines and will produce better user engagement.

On the contrary, publishing thin, underdeveloped content will likely lead to keyword cannibalization and Google may interpret your activity as long-tail keyword manipulation.

If that happens, the Panda algorithm will kick your website to the curb.

With that said, let me show you how you can quickly identify keyword cannibalization issues:

Open up Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

Enter your website and start the scan:

Go to “Page Titles”:

Enter one of your main keywords into the search bar (this will show you all pages competing for that keyword).

Look through your page titles and identify pages that might be competing for the same keywords.

Are There Redirect Issues?

There are four types of redirects that can hurt a website’s SEO performance:

302 redirects
redirect chains
non-preferred version of domain not 301ing to preferred
non-secured version of domain not 301ing to secured version

Let’s start with 302 redirects.

302 Redirects

302 redirects are “temporary” redirects and do not pass authority. 302s need to be changed to 301 redirects to pass link authority.

To see if you have any 302s, open up Screaming Frog SEO Spider.

Enter your target URL and start the scan
Go to the “Response Codes” tab
Click on the “Filter” dropdown and select “Redirection 3xx”
Click on “Export” to export all 302 redirects

Redirect Chains

Redirect chains are when there are a string of redirects connected together.

Like so:

Breaking the chain will send all authority to the final destination page (instead of partial authority).

Here’s how you find redirect chains with Screaming Frog SEO Spider:

Go to “Configuration” and click on “Spider”
Click on the “Advanced”, select “Always Follow Redirects”, and click “Ok”
Enter your target URL and start the scan
After the scan is complete go to “Reports” and click on “Redirect Chains”

Is the non-preferred version of the domain 301 redirecting to the preferring version?

Every website owners must decide what version of their website they want to show to their users.

Some people prefer the “www” while others prefer non-www. domains. Understand that whichever one you pick will not have an effect on your SEO performance.

Google treats them the same way, so it is a matter of preference.

Problems arise if you don’t redirect the non-preferred domain to the preferred.

For example, let’s say you decide to go with “www.awesomewebsite.com”.

By doing so, www. becomes your preferred domain.

And now, the non-www. becomes your non-preferred domain and vice versa.

You must 301 redirect your non-preferred domain to the preferred. Otherwise, you will end up with two duplicate websites AND you will leak authority.

I have found that websites built on custom platforms will suffer from this issue.

The developers underestimate the repercussions of keeping two versions of the site live.

They often won’t 301 redirect the non-preferred version of a domain to the preferred.

In essence, if you do not redirect, you have two duplicate websites.

I use this tool to see if the proper redirection has been done.

Is the non-secure version of the website 301 redirecting to the secure version?

Let’s just say that the transition to SSL hasn’t been pretty.

Many websites have made a great decision to secure their sites with a certificate.

But, many are struggling with the implementation the certificate.

Many clients forget to 301 redirect the non-secure (http) site to the secure (https). This has a similar effect of not redirecting a non-preferred domain to the preferred.

Identifying this issue is simple:

Go to your target URL: https://www.gotchseo.com/.
On the address bar in your browser, remove the “s” from http and hit enter.

It should redirect back to the secure version.

If it doesn’t, then you need to get it fixed!

You can also use the tool above to check as well.

Is the Site Being Indexed Well?

Your website can only get traffic if your pages are indexed in Google. That’s why it’s always a good idea to make sure your ENTIRE website is being indexed well.

A good place to start is with your robots.txt file.

robots.txt

Sometimes by accident, website owners will block the search engines from crawling their site.

That’s why you must audit your robots.txt file to ensure that your site is being crawled well.

The command you need to look for in your robots.txt file is “disallow”.

If you use this incorrectly, you could stop search engines from crawling your site.

The specific command you want to look for is “Disallow: /” – this instructs search engine spiders not to crawl your website.

Sitemaps

You website should have a sitemap because it helps with indexation.

If you are on WordPress, Yoast will automatically create one for you.

If you aren’t using Yoast then install the XML Sitemap plugin.

For those on custom-builds or non-Wordpress websites, you will have to take the traditional route.

“site:” Search

Go into Google search “site:yourwebsite.com”.

This will show you how well your site is indexed.

If you site isn’t showing as the first result, then you likely have a penalty.

Or, you are blocking the search engine from crawling your website.

Is There Duplicate Content?

Duplicate content can plague your website and could land your website a Panda penalty.

Ecommerce stores are most susceptible to duplicate content issues because they will copy manufacturer product descriptions.

To top it off, they will also use cookie-cutter META information for those pages.

This creates a duplicate content tsunami.

Let me show you the issues with duplicate META data first:

Duplicate META Data

Duplicate META data is most prevalent on Ecommerce websites.

This is because many Ecommerce websites have many pages with similar products.

As a result, they will get lazy and paste similar META descriptions on pages.

This isn’t a good practice.

If your Ecommerce has many similar pages, then you should consider consolidating them. There is no reason to have several pages for different colors or sizes of the same product.

Once you have taken care of this issue, then you need to write unique descriptions for every single page.

Yes, that’s right. Every single page.

You should strive to have unique META data and unique content on every single page on your website.

This will take a ton of effort and resources, but it’s worth it in the end.

Remember: you don’t have to complete it in one day.

If you improve only 10 pages a day, you will have 3,650 optimized pages within a year.

To find duplicate META data you can use Screaming Frog SEO Spider and Google Search Console.

Let’s start with Screaming Frog:

Enter your URL and start the scan

Go to “Meta Description”, on “Filter” dropdown select “Duplicate”, and “Export”.

The next place to look for duplicate META descriptions is in Google Search Console.

Go into Google Search Console and go to “Search Appearance” and “HTML Improvements”:

In this section you will find duplicate META descriptions and title tags.

Page-Level Duplicate Content

Now that you have identified all duplicate META data, you now need to find page-level duplicate content.

To perform this task you will need to use Siteliner.

This tool will show you what pages share the same or very similar content.

Go to Siteliner.com and enter your target website. Click on “Duplicate Content” and see what pages are suffering from it.

Keep in mind that this tool isn’t always accurate. For example, it may not know that you have “noindexed” your category pages. So, it will likely classify those pages as duplicate content. Use your best judgement.

Are There 404 Errors (With Link Equity)?

Not all 404 errors are equal.

First, let me dispel a common myth that “all 404 errors are bad for SEO”.

This isn’t true.

404s are an effective tool for telling search engine that the page no longer exists.

When a search engine like Google finds a 404, it will remove that page from the index.

For intentional 404 errors, this is exactly what you want.

Think about it: would you want someone to find this dead 404 page through a Google search?

Of course not.

That’s why Google removes them because it isn’t helpful for the user.

With that myth dispelled, there ARE 404 errors can actually hurt your site’s performance:

404 pages that have backlinks.

These types of 404s are leaking authority on your site.

What you want to do is reclaim these backlinks by 301 redirecting the 404 page to a relevant page on your site.

If there isn’t a relevant page, then redirect it to the homepage.

To find 404 errors, I recommend you use Google Search Console:

Go to “Crawl” and “Crawl Errors”. Click on the “Not Found” tab to see your site’s 404 errors:

Is Your Site Architecture Efficient for SEO?

Many audits skip right past site architecture, but this is a big mistake.

Most websites are not designed with SEO in mind.

Weirdly, this isn’t always a bad thing. That’s because many businesses create their website based on what they believe the user wants.

You should always be user-centric with your SEO strategy.

But, you still need to guide and please the search engine at the same time.

A strong site architecture makes both the users and the search engines happy.

When examining site architecture ask the following questions:

Is the navigation clean or is it cluttered?
Are the internal links using effective anchor text?
Can you improve the navigation to make it easier for users and the search engines?

Are the URL Structures SEO Optimized?

We always analyze the URL structure during the audit to make sure they are SEO friendly.

But, we are also careful at this stage as well.

You do not want to change URL structures if the client’s site is performing well.

The reason is because you have to 301 redirect the old URL to the new URL.

301 redirects are spotty and won’t always send the trust and authority from the old URL.

This means you could end up losing rankings for an extended period of time.

Changing your URL to a more optimized and clean version will likely help your site in the long run.

You just have to be willing to lose some organic traffic upfront. Or, you can just avoid changing the URL at all.

Now, if the client isn’t ranking for anything, we will always suggest to change the URL structure (if it’s bad).

You have to use your discretion and remember that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it”.

Over-Optimized URLs

In attempt to game the search engine, some clients will keyword stuff their URLs. Keyword stuffing anything on your site is never a good practice. In fact, it will likely hurt your performance more than help it.

Here is an example of a keyword stuffed URL that we run into a lot:

http://www.coolwidgets.com/cool-widgets/cool-widgets-with-buttons

You will notice that “cool widgets” is in the URL three times. Whether intentional or not, it will hurt a page’s performance.

I recommend removing the the subfolder “cool-widgets” so the URL look like this:

http://www.coolwidgets.com/cool-widgets-with-buttons

Are Internal Links Injected the Right Way?

Ineffective/non-strategic internal linking can confuse the search engines. Internal links are supposed to be clear and are supposed to use exact match anchor text.

If you have a page about “blue widgets”, then “blue widgets” should be your internal anchor text.

In my eyes, this seems like a pretty simple concept.

Unfortunately, I see this problem repeated over-and-over again when we audit sites.

Finding ineffective internal links isn’t easy…

You have to go page-by-page to identify them and fix them.

This is one of the most time consuming on-site SEO changes you will encounter.

To avoid this from happening, just make sure you always use good practices.

The majority of your internal link anchor text should use exact or partial match anchor text.

Step 5: Page Level Analysis

Goal: to ensure that each keyword-targeted landing page is optimized effectively.

Every audit must examine the quality of content and the optimization of each page.

Strong content without effective optimization won’t perform. Weak content with strong optimization also won’t perform.

You need both strong content and effective optimization to drive search engine traffic.

The first thing I immediately do is take the target page and run it through Copyscape.

Copyscape Check

I don’t run the target page through Copyscape because I think my client is liar.

It’s because there are some scums on the Internet that will steal content.

All you need to do is file a DMCA report to Google and they will remove the content from the index.

After we run each target page through Copyscape, we then examine the basics.

Is the keyword in the title?

Your target keyword for the page needs to be in the title. And, the keyword only needs to appear once.

That’s all!

Is the keyword in the META description?

Make sure the target keyword is in the META description. Do not stuff it in there more than once.

Is the target keyword within the first few sentences?

Your main keyword should appear once at the beginning of the content. This is to strengthen the relevancy of the page.

Is the URL SEO-optimized and clean?

The landing page should include the target keyword in the URL and the URL should be short and clean.

Does the ALT tag on the first image of the page contain the target keyword?

All of your ALT tags should be filled out, but your main keyword for the page should appear in the first image ALT tag.

Does the last sentence of the content include the target keyword?

The last sentence or conclusion is your chance to solidify the relevancy of the page. Make sure you include your keyword.

Are there internal links? If so, are they placed the right way?

As I mentioned before, if you have internal links, make sure they are using exact match anchor text.

This is all you need to analyze for page-level optimization. Now let me show you how you need to examine your content.

Step 6: Content Analysis

Goal: to determine whether or not the current content strategy is working. And, what needs to be improved to get more out of the content.

Your content analysis must explore both your keyword-targeted landing pages and any blog content that’s been published.

Analyzing content is the most time-consuming part of an SEO audit.

That’s because it is the most important part of the entire audit.

You can get all of the other parts of an SEO campaign right, but if your content is slacking, your results will not last.

You Need an Outside Perspective

It is critical that you bring in a third party to analyze your content strategy.

Why?

Because you need an outside viewpoint. It’s hard to self-examine and critique your own content because you will be biased.

You need an outside party to tell you the truth.

Most businesses do not have effective content strategies.

In fact, most don’t have a “strategy” at all.

Here are the questions you need to ask during your content analysis:

Is Your Content Unique and Original?

This should be a no-brainer, but the content on your site needs to be unique and original.

That means using your creative mind to come with awesome ideas!

No regurgitated garbage. Taking the extra effort to create something original is worth it.

Is Your Content Useful and Informative?

In addition to your content being original, you also need to make sure it’s useful and informative.

That means, it should inform, instruct, or solve a problem that your ideal customer has.

You must always consider your ideal customer when creating content.

The content on your site isn’t there to impress your co-workers.

Your content is there to serve and help your prospective customers.

Is Your Content Better Than Your Competitors?

There is no point in creating content unless you believe it will be better than what’s currently ranking in the search engine.

Every single piece of content must have the intention to beat your competitors.

Otherwise, you are wasting your time.

Is Your Content Engaging?

Your users need to feel like you are speaking directly to them. “You” and “your” need to become your favorite words.

Is Your Information Accurate?

Don’t make up facts or statistics or falsify information.

Is Your Content Long Enough?

Longer content performs better in Google and this has been proven here.

You can also do your own research and see this demonstrated in the SERPS.

Are There Grammar and/or Spelling Errors?

I’ve said this many times but dnt rite lik dis. Use the Hemingway Editor if your writing is less than stellar.

Are There Broken Links?

Google hates when there are broken links in your content because it hurts user experience. Make sure you audit your pages to make sure your links are working correctly. Use this free broken link checker to find broken links on your site.

Do You Have Excessive Ads?

Excessive use of ads can take away from your content, are distracting, and will make users hate your website.

When users hate your website, Google will hate it as well.

If you use ads, do not let them overwhelm your content or Panda will be paying your website a visit.

Are You Moderating Your Blog Comments?

Spammers love to inject nasty links in blog comments.

That’s why you need to make sure yours are properly moderated.

You don’t want to be guilty by association, so make sure you keep your comment section clean.

These questions are the first step to determining whether your content strategy is working or not.

The ultimate indicator of your content’s performance will come from real user experience data.

Step 7: User Experience Analysis

Goal: to see how well users are interacting with your content and website as a whole.

It is impossible to know what every user thinks about your website.

Fortunately, you can get a general picture of user experience based on the data inside Google Analytics.

There are few data points you want to examine in your user experience analysis:

Bounce Rate

You are likely wondering: “what is a good bounce rate?”

Unfortunately, there isn’t a clear answer.

Bounce rate is all relative and depends on what type of website it is.

For example, a “funny cat pictures” website will likely have a high bounce rate.

That’s because people go to the page, get their laughs in, and leave.

Sites like mine will have lower bounce rates because people will want to read and learn more.

With that all said, a bounce rate between 60% – 80% is solid.

80% – 90% is enough to warrant looking into the issue further.

If it is above 90%, then it needs to hit the top of the priority list.

Average Time Spent on Site

The longer users stay on your site, the more chances you get to convert them.

Like bounce rate, average time spent on site is relative.

If the average time spent on site is less 1 minute, then it’s definitely something you will want to look into.

As a general rule of thumb, users will spend more time on your website if there is a lot of content to consume.

For example, my readers spend an average of 2:52 minutes on Gotch SEO.

If this was less than 1 minute, I would have to start questioning my content strategy and my site in general.

There is one thing that will quickly repel users:

A lack of quality content.

Low average time spent on site often plagues local businesses for this exact reason.

That’s because anyone looking for a “plumber in St. Louis” is likely price shopping.

They will jump from business-to-business looking for the best deal.

The best way to combat this problem on the local level is to produce more helpful content.

You should focus on educating your prospective local clients.

Education and transparency lead to trust.

Trust leads to sells.

Focus on giving more value than your competitors.

This will improve bounce rates and force users to stay on your site for longer.

Think about this way: if someone wanted to get to you, could they learn more in 30 seconds or in 3 minutes?

Yes, I am captain obvious, but it’s necessary.

The longer users stay on your site and digest your content, the more they will feel like they “know you”.

Goal Completions

Tracking goal competitions is the most important metric in Google Analytics.

The only reason your business should even have a website is to get conversions/goal completions.

It doesn’t matter if your bounce rate is low or people are staying your website for hours…. If the visitors aren’t converting into leads, sales or email subscribers then you are wasting your time.

The goal of improving the other metrics is to make you more money!

Remember, SEO is just a means to an end. SEO by itself doesn’t make money.

YOU make money by selling.

You can have the best SEO on the planet, but if you can’t sell, it won’t matter.

The word “sell” will have a different meaning for everyone.

But there is one thing that every online business has in common:

You must sell through through copywriting or through video. If you skip this step, then no one will buy your products or no one will become a lead.

With that said, whenever goal completions are abysmal we immediately look at the client’s on-site sales strategy.

Is it easy for leads to contact you?
Is there enough information about your service?
Are you showing enough social proof?

Exit Pages

Identifying what pages users leave from the most is the first step to fixing the issue. It should be obvious, but you must analyze the most frequently exited page.

You have to ask the simple question “why are they leaving this specific page more than others?”

Believe it or not, it’s not always a bad thing to have a high exit rate on a page.

Sometimes the content does its job for the reader and forces them to go out and take action.

Don’t always think that users are leaving a specific page because they hate it.

If the content solves the user’s problem well and they leave the page, you have done your job.

There is one very important thing to consider when examining Exit Rate inside of Google Analytics.

Do not look at the total number of “Exits”.

The total number of exits will always be higher on pages that get more traffic.

The number you want to look at is the “% Exit”.

Sort your data from the highest percentage to the lowest.

A “high” exit percentage would be anything over 80%. A “normal” exit percentage is around 50-65%.

The #1 issue that will force people to leave a page at a high frequency is that your content did not solve their problem or answer the questions they had.

There are other factors that may force people to leave a page like design, but content is almost always the culprit.

Go the page with the highest exit rate and ask:

Does this page solve a problem or answer a question to the fullest extent?
Are there still some questions left unanswered?
How is the readability of the content?
Are there too many big blocks of text?
Too little images?
Broken images?
Does the page load slowly?
Are there distracting elements such as advertisements that would send a user off your site?
Are you setting external links to “open in a new window” (if not, you should)?

These questions should be more than enough to get to the bottom of the issue. Go through this process for every page with a high exit rate.

Return Visitors

The quantity of visitors who return back to your website is a strong positive user signal.

It means that your website or content is worth seeing again.

Return visitors are also good from a conversion standpoint because it gives you more opportunities to convert them into a lead or email subscriber.

If you do not have a high percentage of Return Visitors then this may be a sign that your content is lacking. Or, your website has one or many of the technical or content issues that I described above that are repelling your users.

Branded Searches

Like Return Visitors, branded searches are a strong indictor that people are interested in your website and brand.

If you are producing great content and your website is built with users in mind, then people will want to return. That means they will go into Google and search for your brand.

To see how well you are currently doing, you will need to use Google Search Console.

Go to “Search Traffic” and click on “Search Analytics”. Filter by “Clicks” so that the search query with the most clicks is on top.

Your brand name should be one of the top queries.

Social Signals

Social signals by themselves are not powerful.

BUT, if you combine them with all of the other positive user metrics, then your website will get a whirlwind of positive ranking signals.

Getting REAL social signals should be a priority for your business. The only way to get them is through creating great content and pleasing your users. You can also consider using social locker plugins if you are really struggling.

Now it’s time to take a look at your link profile.

Here we go:

Step 8: Link Analysis

Goal: to identify strengths and weaknesses in your link profile.

As you know, backlinks can make or break an SEO campaign. This is why a large portion of our audit is spent analyzing the client’s link profile. We use Ahrefs, Majestic, Open Site Explorer, and Google Search Console to analyze the links.

Now you are probably wondering: what are we looking for?

We are looking at a few different factors:

Link Relevancy

Link relevancy is king when it comes to link building.

That’s almost always where I begin a link audit.

Are the backlinks hitting their site relevant?

100% of your backlinks don’t have to be relevant, but the majority should be.

To quickly identify the relevancy of a client’s link profile, we export their links from Ahrefs and use the bulk check on Majestic.

When you export from Ahrefs, make sure you export the referring domains like so:

Now you are going to take those referring domains and use Majestic’s bulk check to see Topical Trust Flow Topics.

Although the Topical Trust Flow Topic metric isn’t perfect, it is the only scalable relevancy metric there is.

Manually checking the relevancy of each linking site would be a horrible waste of time.

The goal of this exercise is to get a general relevancy picture of the DOMAINS that are linking to the client’s site.

Go to “Tools”, “Link Map Tools”, and “Bulk Backlinks”.

Place the referring domains into the bulk checker and export the results. Sort your CSV file based on Topical Trust Flow Topics.

Identify what link sources are completely off the wall.

If you are a lawyer and you have a backlink from a domain with a Topical Trust Flow Topics of “Pets”, then you should be concerned.

Mark all backlinks that are irrelevant. This doesn’t mean you are going to get them removed.

It’s just a way for you to know that they exist. That way, you could go back to them if your site was ever hit with a penalty.

Link Authority

After link relevancy, link authority comes in a close second.

In fact, pure authority can sometimes mask a lack of link relevancy.

I prefer relevancy before authority because I believe it keeps your site safer from algorithm updates.

But to each their own!

There are several ways to find how “authoritative” your backlinks are.

You can run a bulk check on both Majestic and Ahrefs.

Ahrefs “Domain Rating” (DR) is an accurate gauge of site authority.

It is much more accurate than PA and DA because it updates on a frequent basis.

The data from Open Site Explorer updates at a snails pace and is inaccurate most of the time.

Don’t believe me?

Open Site Explorer gives GotchSEO.com a DA of 25 and claims the site only has 30 linking root domains…

Ahrefs is showing 562 linking root domains and it’s only showing about 80% of the backlinks GotchSEO.com actually has.

With that said, you can use Open Site Explorer to crosscheck, but don’t rely on it’s metrics alone.

Another metric that is nearly impossible to “game” is the SEM Rush traffic score.

That’s because it based on real organic search engine rankings.

SEM Rush uses its own algorithm to determine how much your organic traffic is “worth”.

It’s not perfect, but it’s a metric I rely on a daily basis to determine the quality of link opportunities.

Use all of the metrics available at your disposable to gauge the quality of your current backlinks or opportunities.

Link Diversity

Diversifying your backlinks makes your profile more “natural”.

Different “types” of backlinks include

contextual links
site-wide footer/sidebar links
directory links
resource page links
niche profile links
forums links
relevant blog comment links

In addition to the “type” of backlink, you also want to have diversity with DoFollow and NoFollow links.

At this part of the analysis, just ask the simple question:

“Is my link profile diversified enough?”

Link Targeting

Another important link factor you need to examine is the ratio of homepage links compared to deep links.

If you are using a content-focused SEO approach, then the majority of your backlinks should be going to deep pages.

Regardless of what approach you are using, it is always a good practice to distribute backlinks across your entire website.

This will build the overall authority of the site and improve your chances of seeing SEO results.

Anchor Text Diversification

Anchor text abuse is rampant and that’s why we always check the ratios.

The first ratio we care about the most is the client’s percentage of exact match anchor text.

After that, we want to see their percentage of branded anchor text.

If the EMA outweigh branded anchors, then there needs to be a change of strategy.

As you may know, the bulk of your anchor text profile should be branded anchors.

EMA’s should be used far and few between because it is a strong spam signal to Google.

If the client is suffering from over-optimized anchor text, there are a few solutions:

Build new backlinks with branded anchor text to offset the over-optimization
Consider getting some of the EMA changed to branded anchor text

Total Referring Domains

The more unique referring domains a site has linking to it, the better.

The analysis we do here is nothing more than a comparison against their top ranking competitors.

For example, how many referring domains do they have linking to them compared to their competitors?

The solution is simple here:

Get more relevant, high quality backlinks from unique domains.

Historical Link Velocity

Has their link velocity stayed steady throughout the life of their website? Or has it been erratic?

Massive dips in link loss are suspect.

Backlinks from real websites rarely fall off.

Backlinks from artificial websites fall off when the link providers stops paying for their hosting or do not renew a domain.

Link Growth for NeilPatel.com

Your goal should be to achieve steady link growth overtime like this:

Now that you know how to analyze your link profile, let me show you how to analyze your citations.

Step 9: Citation Analysis

Goal: to see whether or not the client has consistent NAP-W information across all listings. And, to identify business directories that the client is not listed on.

The citation analysis is used for local clients.

However, it can be used for any business who is looking to maintain consistency across all online properties.

I recommend that every business performs a citation audit even if you aren’t engaging in local SEO.

The good news is that citation cleanup is one-and-done activity.

Let me show you what we look for in a citation analysis:

NAP-W Consistency 

Having consistent NAP-W (name, address, phone, website) consistency is one of the most important ranking factors in Google Local.

There are countless tools for auditing your citations such as:

Moz Local
Yext
Bright Local

Untapped Directories

There are hundreds of business directories to submit your site and that’s why it’s best to use a tool. Once again, we use Bright Local’s Citation Tracker, White Spark, Moz Local and Yext to find these untapped citations.

Conclusion

Wow, that was super long, but I really didn’t want to leave anything out! You are now equipped to perform a comprehensive SEO audit whenever you want.

Make sure you download the SEO audit checklist so the process is streamlined.