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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.

10 Tools You Need To Build A High Converting Landing Page

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Tools You Need To Build A High Converting Landing Page

10 Tools You Need To Build A High Converting Landing Page

If one of your online marketing goals is to convert leads (which it should be), then your website has to have high converting landing page. Landing pages are the pages that your calls-to-action should link to.

They are the pages that contain the forms your leads fill out in return for whatever you’ve offered, whether it’s downloadable content, a product discount or a monthly email newsletter, to name a few options.

High converting landing page should be succinct, and they should remind leads what they are doing and help drive them to action. You can also read our ultimate guide on how to create high converting landing pages.

While landing pages are the most effective pages on your site when it comes to converting leads, not all landing pages are successful in their own right. Because of this, there are a number of landing page tools that you should use to improve and optimize your conversion rates. The following are 10 essential landing page tools that you should use in just a short amount of time:

1) Unbounce

The idea of Unbounce is to help prevent visitors from leaving your landing pages without converting. It’s a tool that lets you build an effective landing page. The name refers to the “bounce rate”, which is the term used to measure how many visitors leave your page without performing additional actions within a short period of being on it.

Unbounce is an extremely user-friendly tool, which is why we highly recommend its use. You can choose from many different templates and then customize them with a drag-and-drop function in which elements, such as images, forms, and text boxes, can simply be chosen from a side menu and dragged onto a section of your landing page. Once dragged into place, you can edit them however you want.

In addition to helping to ensure that your landing page has all of the necessary elements, it’s also responsive, which means it will have no trouble being viewed on a mobile device. Last but not least, Unbounce even provides A/B testing, so that you can determine which elements on your landing pages are the most effective at helping drive conversions.

Because of how many features Unbounce offers, it will cost you $49 a month for the most basic plan.

2) Instapage

Instapage is another landing page building tool like Unbounce. It also offers users a drag-and-drop system along with the ability to edit individual elements. You can test your landing page creations using their A/B testing feature.

Instapage is a tool that’s particularly useful for those who don’t have a lot of technical know-how. It’s about as user-friendly as it gets due to its simplicity.

Instapage makes it easy to publish your landing pages directly to your site. They even have a WordPress plugin that lets you sync your landing pages to your site in just a couple of clicks. There’s a limited version of the tool available for free. For more options, consider their basic option, which is only $29 a month.

3) LeadPages

LeadPages is another landing page creator tool, and it’s probably the best known of all of them. While the basic tool is a basic landing page creator, there are several higher tier plans available that provide users with more features, including A/B testing and Leadboxes.

One of the things that makes LeadPages unique, even when it comes to their basic landing page creator, is that they have tons of templates to choose from. You can sort them by landing page conversion rate, thereby giving you a good idea of what types of templates are the most effective right off the bat. These templates will cost extra on top of the service though – between roughly $10 and $15 each.

The feature that makes LeadPages more unique than other landing page tools is the LeadBox feature, which allows you to create and configure pop-up forms to display in a non-obtrusive way on your site when visitors click certain links.

4) Launchrock

Launchrock isn’t quite a landing page creation tool. The tool helps you create what’s basically a “coming soon” page. If your setting up a site for a brand new business, such as a startup, are advertising a one-time event or your business wants to gauge interest in certain products or services, then Launchrock can be a very useful tool.

It’s user-friendly as well. Launchrock lets you choose from a variety of themes and then gives you the opportunity to edit your message however you want. A free version even provides advanced user analytics and reporting, while the more advanced version, which also provides promotion free and custom HTML and CSS features, is only $5 a month.

5) 5 Second Test

One of the elements of an effective landing page is whether the message is clear. Your landing page should convey what your message is and why visitors should convert immediately. The inability for visitors to figure this out within a few seconds on your landing page can result in a lost conversion. This is because people generally don’t want to have to search for what they’re looking for or think about what’s on your page too much.

The 5 Second Test tool allows you to figure out whether your offer is apparent to your visitors within five seconds or not. By implementing the tool, random registered users will receive a message asking them to look at your page for five seconds and to remember as much as they can about what they see.

They will then be prompted with several questions following that five-second page. If they are unable to answer those questions correctly, then you have a problem with your landing page layout or content.

Basically, the 5 Second Test tool is a useful feature that allows you to get feedback from your users about your landing pages. The tool is available for free if you answer questions about other landing pages or you can purchase tests for $1 each.

6) User Testing

While the 5 Second Test provides useful feedback, the User Testing tool provides much more in-depth feedback. The tool will actually record audio of the interaction that users have with your landing page. They will be shown your landing pages and will be asked to navigate through it and possible through parts of your website. They will record their thoughts out loud as they do this.

This can result in valuable feedback, especially if users don’t understand what they’re supposed to do, where they’re supposed to go or why they are even on your landing page to begin with. Because of its in-depth nature, you can even target who reviews your landing pages by selecting their age range, income range, gender, country and web expertise.

The User Testing tool is a bit expensive at $49 a video for the first ten videos, which means it’s a more realistic option if you’re expecting to make a substantial amount of money from your landing page conversions. There is a free option called “Peek”. Peek will allow users to review your site, but caps the videos at five minutes and you won’t be able to target the type of user that provides the review.

7) Olark

Olark is a chat widget that you can install on your landing pages to help guide visitors. It’s unobtrusive and will only show up at the bottom of your landing page if a visitor chooses to expand the window. It can be very useful for determining how successful your landing page designs is since visitors will be able to ask questions if they are confused.

If you find that visitors keep asking what the offer is or how they are supposed to sign up, then there’s a good chance that your landing page is weak and needs to be redesigned.

What’s nice about Olark is that you can set it up so that a team of individuals can help your visitors using Olark in real time instead of limiting it to just a single support provider. You can also toggle it on and off, which is helpful in case you can only provide support at certain times.

8) Optimizely

Testing your landing pages is an important way to find out what elements work and what elements don’t work. While some of the landing page tools do offer A/B testing features, not everybody uses these tools to create their landing pages. If you create your landing pages from the ground up, then you should use the Optimizely tool.

Optimizely makes it easy to test your landing pages. All you need to do is enter your landing page URL. The tool will then load your page as a new variation. You can click on elements to make changes using a variety of editing options from the menu, and you can add more variations to your A/B testing.

Once you’re done with your variations, you’ll be provided with a code to paste into your landing page’s header. Optimizely will then ensure that your landing page traffic will be split evenly between the different variations you’ve created in order to properly compare their performance.

9) Crazy Egg

Crazy Egg is a tool that allows you to see how your visitors are using your landing pages. You’ll be provided with a heat map that’s generated by data collected based on where visitors are focusing most of their time on your landing pages (as well as other pages on your site). This can be helpful in a few different ways.

For example, if they’re spending more time hovering over content that can’t be seen unless you scroll down the page than on other parts of the landing page, then you might want to consider bumping it up to the top of the page. If they are skipping over a part of the landing page, then maybe you could do without it.

Installing Crazy Egg is easy. Just create an account via their site and you’ll be given a personal code that you can copy and paste into your site. Once you confirm that it’s been installed, your data will be tracked and your heat maps will be generated.

You could also use the Crazy Egg WordPress plugin in order to install a tracking script if that’s easier.

10) Visual Website Optimizer

The Visual Website Optimizer tool is similar to Optimizely. They are both effective A/B testing tools. Like Optimizely, you’ll be able to create numerous variations so that you can test the performance of different elements. You’ll be able to track a number of different things, from page visits and engagement to clicks on link and form submits. For landing pages, form submits is the main metric you’ll want to compare.

Over To You

Because your landing pages are so important when it comes to converting leads, it’s vital that you put some effort into making sure that they are effective. If your landing page conversion rates are low, then be sure to turn to some of these landing page tools. Most of these tools provide stripped down versions that are free or free trials so that you can figure out which tools will benefit your landing pages most.

Taking advantage of these tools will allow you to greatly improve your landing pages, thereby increasing the potential of boosting your conversion rate. Do you have any tips to create a high converting landing page? If you’ve used some of these tools before, be sure to share your experience with other readers by commenting below!

#optin-template-3{
float: left;
margin: 0;
width: 100%;
max-width: 654px;
height: 100%;
}
#optin-template-3 .container{
float: left;
width: 100%;
height: 100%;
text-align: center;
background: #fff;
border: 0px solid #4a78bd;
padding-bottom: 16px;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row{
display: inline-block;
width: 88%;
padding: 3% 6% 0%;
}
#optin-template-3 .top-row h2{
margin: 5px 0 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
color:#4a78bd;
font-weight: 600;
text-align: center;
padding:0px 0px 5px;
font-size:2.2em;
}
#optin-template-3 .left-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 100%;
max-width: 270px;
min-width: 270px;
height: 100%;
vertical-align: top;
padding-top: 32px;
}
#optin-template-3 .ebook-img{
width: 100%;
min-width:270px;
height: 280px;
background: url(https://seopressor.com/wp-content/uploads/2015/10/2015-10-25.png);
background-size: cover;
}
#optin-template-3 .right-column{
display: inline-block;
width: 60%;
min-width: 250px;
max-width: 305px;
padding: 24px 4% 32px;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul{
text-align: left;
padding-left: 0;
}
#optin-template-3 .bodycopy ul li{
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
margin-left: 20px;
}
#optin-template-3 .optIn-form{
display: block;
bottom: 0;
}
#optin-template-3 .email{
display: block;
width: 100%;
border: 0;
padding: 8px 0;
font-size: 18px;
text-align: center;
border: 1px solid #4a78bd;
}
#optin-template-3 .submit-button{
display: block;
margin-top: 4%;
width: 100%;
padding: 8px 0;
font-family: “roboto”, helvetica, sans-serif;
font-weight: 400;
color: #fff;
background: #4a78bd;
font-size: 21px;
border: 0;
outline: 1px solid #4a78bd;
cursor: pointer;
}

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!

Better Than Basics: Custom-Tailoring Your SEO Approach

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Better Than Basics: Custom-Tailoring Your SEO Approach

Posted by Laura.Lippay

Just like people, websites come in all shapes and sizes. They’re different ages, with different backgrounds, histories, motivations, and resources at hand. So when it comes to approaching SEO for a site, one-size-fits-all best practices are typically not the most effective way to go about it (also, you’re better than that).

An analogy might be if you were a fitness coach. You have three clients. One is a 105lb high school kid who wants to beef up a little. One is a 65-year-old librarian who wants better heart health. One is a heavyweight lumberjack who’s working to be the world’s top springboard chopper. Would you consider giving each of them the same diet and workout routine? Probably not. You’re probably going to:

Learn all you can about their current diet, health, and fitness situations.Come up with the best approach and the best tactics for each situation.Test your way into it and optimize, as you learn what works and what doesn’t.

In SEO, consider how your priorities might be different if you saw similar symptoms — let’s say problems ranking anything on the first page — for:

New sites vs existing sitesNew content vs older contentEnterprise vs small bizLocal vs globalType of market — for example, a news site, e-commerce site, photo pinning, or a parenting community

A new site might need more sweat equity or have previous domain spam issues, while an older site might have years of technical mess to clean up. New content may need the right promotional touch while old content might just simply be stale. The approach for enterprise is often, at its core, about getting different parts of the organization to work together on things they don’t normally do, while the approach for small biz is usually more scrappy and entrepreneurial.

With the lack of trust in SEO today, people want to know if you can actually help them and how. Getting to know the client or project intimately and proposing custom solutions shows that you took the time to get to know the details and can suggest an effective way forward. And let’s not forget that your SEO game plan isn’t just important for the success of the client — it’s important for building your own successes, trust, and reputation in this niche industry.

How to customize an approach for a proposalDo: Listen first

Begin by asking questions. Learn as much as you can about the situation at hand, the history, the competition, resources, budget, timeline, etc. Maybe even sleep on it and ask more questions before you provide a proposal for your approach.

Consider the fitness trainer analogy again. Now that you’ve asked questions, you know that the high school kid is already at the gym on a regular basis and is overeating junk food in his attempt to beef up. The librarian has been on a low-salt paleo diet since her heart attack a few years ago, and knows she knows she needs to exercise but refuses to set foot in a gym. The lumberjack is simply a couch potato.

Now that you know more, you can really tailor a proposed approach that might appeal to your potential client and allow you and the client to see how you might reach some initial successes.

Do: Understand business priorities.

What will fly? What won’t fly? What can we push for and what’s off the table? Even if you feel strongly about particular tactics, if you can’t shape your work within a client’s business priorities you may have no client at all.

Real-world example:

Site A wanted to see how well they could rank against their biggest content-heavy SERP competitors like Wikipedia but wanted to keep a sleek, content-light experience. Big-brand SEO vendors working for Site A pushed general, content-heavy SEO best practices. Because Site A wanted solutions that fit into their current workload along with a sleek, content-light experience, they pushed back.

The vendors couldn’t keep the client because they weren’t willing to get into the clients workload groove and go beyond general best practices. They didn’t listen to and work within the client’s specific business objectives.

Site A hired internal SEO resources and tested into an amount of content that they were comfortable with, in sync with technical optimization and promotional SEO tactics, and saw rankings slowly improve. Wikipedia and the other content-heavy sites are still sometimes outranking Site A, but Site A is now a stronger page one competitor, driving more traffic and leads, and can make the decision from here whether it’s worth it to continue to stay content-light or ramp up even more to get top 3 rankings more often.

The vendors weren’t necessarily incorrect in suggesting going content-heavy for the purpose of competitive ranking, but they weren’t willing to find the middle ground to test into light content first, and they lost a big brand client. At its current state, Site A could ramp up content even more, but gobs of text doesn’t fit the sleek brand image and it’s not proven that it would be worth the engineering maintenance costs for that particular site — a very practical, “not everything in SEO is most important all the time” approach.

Do: Find the momentum

It’s easiest to inject SEO where there’s already momentum into a business running full-speed ahead. Are there any opportunities to latch onto an effort that’s just getting underway? This may be more important than your typical best practice priorities.

Real-world example:

Brand X had 12–20 properties (websites) at any given time, but their small SEO team could only manage about 3 at a time. Therefore the SEO team had to occasionally assess which properties they would be working with. Properties were chosen based on:

Which ones have the biggest need or opportunities?Which ones have resources that they’re willing to dedicate?Which ones are company priorities?

#2 was important. Without it, the idea that one of the properties might have the biggest search traffic opportunity didn’t matter if they had no resources to dedicate to implement the SEO team’s recommendations.

Similarly, in the first example above, the vendors weren’t able to go with the client’s workflow and lost the client. Make sure you’re able to identify which wheels are moving that you can take advantage of now, in order to get things done. There may be some tactics that will have higher impact, but if the client isn’t ready or willing to do them right now, you’re pushing a boulder uphill.

Do: Understand the competitive landscape

What is this site up against? What is the realistic chance they can compete? Knowing what the competitive landscape looks like, how will that influence your approach?

Real-world example:

Site B has a section of pages competing against old, strong, well-known, content-heavy, link-rich sites. Since it’s a new site section, almost everything needs to be done for Site B — technical optimization, building content, promotion, and generating links. However, the nature of this competitive landscape shows us that being first to publish might be important here. Site B’s competitors oftentimes have content out weeks if not months before the actual content brand owner (Site B). How? By staying on top of Site B’s press releases. The competitors created landing pages immediately after Site B put out a press release, while Site B didn’t have a landing page until the product actually launched. Once this was realized, being first to publish became an important factor. And because Site B is an enterprise site, and changing that process takes time internally, other technical and content optimization for the page templates happened concurrently, so that there was at least the minimal technical optimization and content on these pages by the time the process for first-publishing was shaped.

Site B is now generating product landing pages at the time of press release, with links to the landing pages in those press releases that are picked up by news outlets, giving Site B the first page and the first links, and this is generating more links than their top competitor in the first 7 days 80% of the time.

Site B didn’t audit the site and suggest tactics by simply checking off a list of technical optimizations prioritized by an SEO tool or ranking factors, but instead took a more calculated approach based on what’s happening in the competitive landscape, combined with the top prioritized technical and content optimizations. Optimizing the site itself without understanding the competitive landscape in this case would be leaving the competitors, who also have optimized sites with a lot of content, a leg up because they were cited (linked to) and picked up by Google first.

Do: Ask what has worked and hasn’t worked before

Asking this question can be very informative and help to drill down on areas that might be a more effective use of time. If the site has been around for a while, and especially if they already have an SEO working with them, try to find out what they’ve already done that has worked and that hasn’t worked to give you clues on what approaches might be successful or not..

General example:

Site C has hundreds, sometimes thousands of internal cross-links on their pages, very little unique text content, and doesn’t see as much movement for cross-linking projects as they do when adding unique text.

Site D knows from previous testing that generating more keyword-rich content on their landing pages hasn’t been as effective as implementing better cross-linking, especially since there is very little cross-linking now.

Therefore each of these sites should be prioritizing text and cross-linking tactics differently. Be sure to ask the client or potential client about previous tests or ranking successes and failures in order to learn what tactics may be more relevant for this site before you suggest and prioritize your own.

Do: Make sure you have data

Ask the client what they’re using to monitor performance. If they do not have the basics, suggest setting it up or fold that into your proposal as a first step. Define what data essentials you need to analyze the site by asking the client about their goals, walking through how to measure those goals with them, and then determining the tools and analytics setup you need. Those essentials might be something like:

Webmaster tools set up. I like to have at least Google and Bing, so I can compare across search engines to help determine if a spike or a drop is happening in both search engines, which might indicate that the cause is from something happening with the site, or in just one search engine, which might indicate that the cause is algo-related.Organic search engine traffic. At the very least, you should be able to see organic search traffic by page type (ex: service pages versus product pages). At best, you can also filter by things like URL structure, country, date, referrers/source and be able to run regex queries for granularity.User testing & focus groups. Optional, but useful if it’s available & can help prioritization. Has the site gathered any insights from users that could be helpful in deciding on and prioritizing SEO tactics? For example, focus groups on one site showed us that people were more likely to convert if they could see a certain type of content that wouldn’t have necessarily been a priority for SEO otherwise. If they’re more likely to convert, they’re less likely to bounce back to search results, so adding that previously lower-priority content could have double advantages for the site: higher conversions and lower bounce rate back to SERPs.Don’t: Make empty promises.

Put simply, please, SEOs, do not blanket promise anything. Hopeful promises leads to SEOs being called snake oil salesmen. This is a real problem for all of us, and you can help turn it around.

Clients and managers will try to squeeze you until you break and give them a number or a promised rank. Don’t do it. This is like a new judoka asking the coach to promise they’ll make it to the Olympics if they sign up for the program. The level of success depends on what the judoka puts into it, what her competition looks like, what is her tenacity for courage, endurance, competition, resistance… You promise, she signs up, says “Oh, this takes work so I’m only going to come to practice on Saturdays,” and everybody loses.

Goals are great. Promises are trouble. Good contracts are imperative.

Here are some examples:

We will get you to page 1. No matter how successful you may have been in the past, every site, competitive landscape, and team behind the site is a different challenge. A promise of #1 rankings may be a selling point to get clients, but can you live up to it? What will happen to your reputation of not? This industry is small enough that word gets around when people are not doing right by their clients.Rehashing vague stats. I recently watched a well-known agency tell a room full of SEOs: “The search result will provide in-line answers for 47% of your customer queries”. Obviously this isn’t going to be true for every SEO in the room, since different types of queries have different SERPS, and the SERP UI constantly changes, but how many of the people in that room went back to their companies and their clients and told them that? What happens to those SEOs if that doesn’t prove true?We will increase traffic by n%. Remember, hopeful promises can lead to being called snake oil salesmen. If you can avoid performance promises, especially in the proposal process, by all means please do. Set well-informed goals rather than high-risk promises, and be conservative when you can. It always looks better to over-perform than to not reach a goal.You will definitely see improvement. Honestly, I wouldn’t even promise this unless you would *for real* bet your life on it. You may see plenty of opportunities for optimization but you can’t be sure they’ll implement anything, they’ll implement things correctly, implementations will not get overwritten, competitors won’t step it up or new ones rise, or that the optimization opportunities you see will even work on this site.Don’t: Use the same proposal for every situation at hand.

If your proposal is so vague that it might actually seem to apply to any site, then you really should consider taking a deeper look at each situation at hand before you propose.

Would you want your doctor to prescribe the same thing for your (not yet known) pregnancy as the next person’s (not yet known) fungal blood infection, when you both just came in complaining of fatigue?

Do: Cover yourself in your contract

As a side note for consultants, this is a clause I include in my contract with clients for protection against being sued if clients aren’t happy with their results. It’s especially helpful for stubborn clients who don’t want to do the work and expect you to perform magic. Feel free to use it:

“Consultant makes no warranty, express, implied or statutory, with respect to the services provided hereunder, including without limitation any implied warranty of reliability, usefulness, merchantability, fitness for a particular purpose, noninfringement, or those arising from the course of performance, dealing, usage or trade. By signing this agreement, you acknowledge that Consultant neither owns nor governs the actions of any search engine or the Customer’s full implementations of recommendations provided by Consultant. You also acknowledge that due to non-responsibility over full implementations, fluctuations in the relative competitiveness of some search terms, recurring changes in search engine algorithms and other competitive factors, it is impossible to guarantee number one rankings or consistent top ten rankings, or any other specific search engines rankings, traffic or performance.”Go get ’em!

The way you approach a new SEO client or project is critical to setting yourself up for success. And I believe we can all learn from each other’s experiences. Have you thought outside the SEO standards box to find success with any of your clients or projects? Please share in the comments!

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Content maintenance for SEO: research, merge & redirect

Posted by on Jul 31, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Content maintenance for SEO: research, merge & redirect

Content maintenance for SEO: research, merge & redirect

As your site grows, you’ll have more and more posts. Some of these posts are going to be about a similar topic. Even if you’ve always categorized it well, your content might be competing with itself: you’re suffering from keyword cannibalization. At the same time, some of your articles might get out of date, and not be entirely correct anymore. To prevent all of this, you need to perform content maintenance.

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In a lot of cases, content maintenance is going to mean deleting and merging content. I’m going to run you through some of that maintenance work as we did it at Yoast, to show you how to do this. In particular, I’m going to show you my thinking around a cluster of keywords around keyword research.

Step 1: Audit your content

The first step in my process was finding all the content we had around keyword research. Now, most of that was simple: we have a keyword research tag, and most of the content was nicely tagged. This was also slightly shocking: we had quite a few posts about the topic.

A site:search in Google gave me the missing articles that Google considered to be about keyword research. I simply searched for site:yoast.com “keyword research” and Google gave me all the posts and pages on the site that mentioned the topic.

I had found a total of 18 articles that were either entirely devoted to keyword research or had large sections that mentioned it. Another 20 or so mentioned it in passing and linked to some of the other articles.

The reason I started auditing the content for this particular group of keywords simple: I wanted to improve our rankings around the cluster of keywords around keyword research. So I needed to analyze which of these pages were ranking, and which weren’t. This content maintenance turned out to be badly needed.

Step 2: Analyze the content performance

I went into Google Search Console (the new beta) and went to the Performance section. In that section I clicked the filter bar:

I clicked Query and then typed “keyword research” into the box like this:

This makes Google Search Console match all queries that contain the words keyword and research. This gives you two very important pieces of data:

A list of the keywords your site had been shown in the search results for and the clicks and click-through rate (CTR) for those keywords;
A list of the pages that were receiving all that traffic and how much traffic each of those pages received.

I started by looking at the total number of clicks we had received for all those queries and then looked at the individual pages. Something was immediately clear: three pages were getting 99% of the traffic. But I knew we had 18 articles that covered this topic. Obviously, it was time to clean up. Of course, we didn’t want to throw away any posts that were getting traffic that was not included in this bucket of traffic. So I had to check each post individually.

I removed the Query filter and used another option that’s in there: the Page filter. This allows you to filter by a group of URLs or a specific URL. On larger sites you might be able to filter by groups of URLs, in this case, I looked at the data for each of those posts individually.

Step 3: Decision time

As I went through each post in this content maintenance process, I decided what we were going to do: keep it, or delete it. If I decided we should delete it (which I did for the majority of the posts), I decided to which post we should redirect it. The more basic posts I decided to redirected to our SEO for Beginners post: what is keyword research?.  The posts about keyword research tools were redirected to our article that helps you select (and understand the value of) a keyword research tool. Most of the other ones I decided to redirect to our ultimate guide to keyword research.

For each of those posts, I evaluated whether they had sections that we needed to merge into another article. Some of those posts had paragraphs or even entire sections that could just be merged into another post.

I found one post that, while it didn’t rank for keyword research, still needed to be kept: it talked about long tail keywords specifically. It had such a clear reach for those terms that deleting it would be a waste, so I decided to redirect the other articles about the topic to that specific article.

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Step 4: Take action

Now it was time to take action! I had a list of action items: content to add to specific articles after which each of the articles that piece of content came from could be deleted. Using Yoast SEO Premium, it’s easy to 301 redirect a post or page when you delete it, so that process was fairly painless.

With that, we’d taken care of the 18 specific articles about the topic, and retained only 4. We still had a list of ~20 articles that mentioned the topic and linked to one of the other articles. We went through all of them and made sure each linked to one or more of the 4 remaining articles in the appropriate section.

Content maintenance is hard work

If you’re thinking: “that’s a lot of work”. Yes, it is. And we don’t write about just keyword research, so this is a process we have to do for quite a few terms, multiple times a year. This is a very repeatable content maintenance strategy though:

Audit, so you know which content you have;
Analyze, so you know how the content performs;
Decide which content to keep and what to throw away;
Act.

Now “all” you have to do is go through that process at least once a year for every important cluster of keywords you want your site to rank for.

Read more: Keyword research: the ultimate guide »

The post Content maintenance for SEO: research, merge & redirect appeared first on Yoast.

#3 – Is It True That SEO is Always Changing?

Posted by on Jul 30, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on #3 – Is It True That SEO is Always Changing?

#3 – Is It True That SEO is Always Changing?

You often hear that SEO is always changing and you need to stay on top of it or you’ll get left behind. This is partially true. That’s why in Episode #3 of The SEO Life podcast I’ll be explain what’s changed SEO, what’s going to change in SEO, and lastly, what won’t change in SEO.

Let’s jump in.

First, let me explain what’s changed in SEO.

There are three core areas that have changed since I got started in SEO back in 2011.

Change #1 – Content Quality Standards

The first is content quality standards. Before Google’s Panda algorithm, you could rank with pretty much any garbage content you want as long as long as it was optimized for a target keyword. Quality didn’t matter much. This has changed dramatically.

The other big update that smashed low-quality content (mainly thin content) was the EMD update. This update targeted exact match domains that had low-quality or thin content. In short, it devastated many niche site builders who didn’t take content quality standards seriously.

There’s no other option at this point than to create quality SEO content and pages. It’s the bare minimum you need to compete in Google. Sure, you’ll find some low-quality pages ranking from time-to-time, but overall, the content quality across almost every vertical has improved as a whole.

Change #2 – User Experience (UX) Quality Standards

The second big change, which is more recent are User Experience (UX) Quality standards. Many website owners don’t take UX seriously, but they should. It doesn’t matter if you can rank well in Google if you searchers are bouncing of your website because of the poor user experience. Your user experience is what will determine whether they stay or go.

If the majority choose to bounce, then I can assure you Google is tracking this and it’s a negative signal against your website. I believe UX signals will become a larger part of the ranking equation overtime.

I’ll stop preaching, but you just need to take your site’s User Experience seriously because it will not only help your SEO performance but it’s a good business initiative as well because a strong user experience can increase your lead volume and sales.

Change #3 – Backlink Quality Standards

The other big change, which almost everyone knows about, is backlink quality standards. Back in the day, you could build pretty much any type of backlink and use aggressive keyword-rich anchor text and you would rank very quickly. This is NOT the case anymore.

In short, you need to try to get backlinks from websites that are relevant to yours and you need to use natural anchor text. Keep in mind that not every backlink needs to be a 100% match as far as relevancy. That’s why I created the concept of the Relevancy Pyramid to make this concept easier to understanding. Imagine placing each of your link prospects into a pyramid.

At the top of the pyramid, you have your most relevant link opportunities. For example, if you are a coffee business, then coffee blogs would be in this section. Since your pool of perfectly relevant opportunities will be limited, it’s at the smallest part of the pyramid, which is at the top. And you can imagine how the rest of this works.

Your link opportunities get less relevant as you go down the pyramid, but there are also more opportunities. I always focus my effort at the top and work my way down. In most cases, you’ll almost never get the bottom of the pyramid, which are going to be opportunities that are not relevant at all. One thing to keep in mind is that your link opportunities should be high-quality. Meaning, although the prospect may not be relevant, it should still be a legit website.

Okay, so those are three big factors that have changed in SEO. But now the question is: what’s going to change? Well, first, anyone that acts like they know what’s going to happen tomorrow, in a month, or in 5 years is purely speculation. No one knows what the future holds. But, there’s enough information and visible technological advances that can help make some educated guesses.

Study Voice Search and Artificial Intelligence (AI)

With that said, I believe the biggest change in the SEO world is voice search. Then when you pair that with Artificial Intelligence and you’re have quite the potent combination for disruption in the SEO world and world in general.

All I can say is to study voice search and AI. I will say my biggest concern as far as SEO is when Google has the capability of responding to a question or search query without needing any other resources. For example, let’s say someone searches “how to get rid of yellow mold from mulch”, which is a legit problem I’m dealing with at my house at the moment.

Any way, I predict that Google will eventually be to respond to this search query and it may be something like “According to MulchPros, you need to do X, Y, Z.”. Now this is amazing for users if they don’t even need to open a computer or even type on their phone. But it will murder organic search traffic. Any way, I don’t want to get too futuristic with this episode, but just take some time to study Voice Search and Artificial Intelligence (AI).

Now the original question from this episode was is it true that SEO is always changing? Well, based on what I’ve said, it seems that way. Google’s algorithm is constantly changed and improving and companies like Google are bring new technologies to the marketplace. But let’s step back and think about the fundamentals.

Do you know the Phil Jackson, who’s considered to be one of the greatest professional sports coaches of time, used to make Michael Jordan practice bounce passes? Michael Jordan, the guy who eventually won six championships and is considered the greatest basketball of all time, practiceed bounce passes. Why? Because Phil Jackson wanted him to remember the fundamentals. SEO has fundamentals and these don’t change.

The funny part is that I’ve already mentioned them in this episode:

You need to create incredible content that solves your target audience’s problem BETTER than your competitor’s do.
You need to care about User Experience (UX) because it’s what keeps searchers on your website and what will eventually lead to conversions.
You need to focus on building relationships with people in your industry, which will eventually leads to relevant, high-quality backlinks.

Content, experience, and relationships. These are the core pillars of successful long-term SEO campaigns. Sure, backlinks in general may become less important in the future, but building relationships with people who have influence in your industry will always be a good use of time.

So, I think I’ll call it quits here. I hope you got some value out of this episode and please subscribe to get access to future episodes! Thank you so much for listening and we’ll talk soon.

Something to hide? The rise of privacy-focused search engines

Posted by on Jul 30, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Something to hide? The rise of privacy-focused search engines

Many people are comfortable opening up their world to others, some are not. This can even extend to the use of the Internet; some feel uneasy at the thought of somebody watching and analyzing every move to build a profile. And ultimately, when users believe this to be the case, they self-censor and think twice about what they search for and how to word it.

In the past the usual question would have been, “what do I have to hide?”. Surprisingly for some (disappointingly for others), the answer is often quite straightforward and benign. For me, it’s simply because I prefer to keep myself to myself, which helps to eliminate a feeling of shyness and preserve the energy it would have otherwise consumed.

Times are changing

The major search engines have increasingly pushed the envelope on user privacy, often expanding their surveillance by stating it somewhere deep within the terms of service. Many, often non-technical, individuals may be completely unaware of the scope and scale of data mining happening on an individual’s behavior.

Still, the majority of people continue to sacrifice some of their privacy in order to use free services such as Google. This is understandable as Google remains top in search, but that is changing. A growing number of people are starting to wonder where to draw the line; what is acceptable and what is too invasive? At what point do they no longer feel comfortable with the level of intrusion that comes with using these ‘free’ services. More people are therefore seeking out alternatives that respect their privacy.

This has led to the rise of search engines such as DuckDuckGo, StartPage and others. These search engines not only provide ‘privacy as a service‘, but also burst ‘filter bubbles‘ that use online tracking to target and customize results and content. Without tracking, these bubbles are burst and you are shown content based on what you looked for and not your previous history. This helps to prevent confirmation bias.

Enough is enough

The Snowden leaks, Cambridge Analytica, advertising that follows you everywhere, filter bubbles, advertising/search companies bypassing your phone’s security to more thoroughly track you, personalized pricing based on a profile – where will it end?

It would appear these companies have no real intention to change their ways. If the past is anything to go by then these stories are only going to continue. It will only be stopped by regulation or people saying enough is enough, voting with their clicks, and choosing an alternative that sees and treats them as a customer, and not a product.

Perhaps we’ll reach a crunch point and there will be a max exodus from these companies, or maybe just enough people to allow healthy competition to flourish. Hopefully this will give rise to a whole new wave of companies that put the people who use them first, and their privacy at the forefront of everything they do.

And where better to start than with search – an activity everyone participates in and which is increasingly seen as the gateway (and unfortunately in some cases, the gatekeepers) to the Internet.

 

How Alexa and Siri are changing SEO: AI and voice search

Posted by on Jul 30, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How Alexa and Siri are changing SEO: AI and voice search

The Internet changes rapidly, which means marketers and business leaders must hurry to change with it. While most Internet searches were once done on laptops and desktops, people are now using their smartphones with similar devices to conduct searches for information, local businesses, products, and services.

That shift was closely followed by another somewhat more distinctive shift called artificial intelligence (AI)-assisted voice search.

In the past, a smartphone user would need to type a question or phrase into Google or another search engine to get a set of results to sift through. Now, AIs like Siri and Alexa – which reside in smart speakers and on smartphones, tablets, and laptops – have changed the way users are searching for the information, products, and services they need.

You can conduct searches with nothing more than the sound of your voice. And that’s rapidly changing the SEO landscape.

How voice-assisted search is changing searches

Most people have smartphones these days, and the vast majority of smartphones have voice-assisted search capabilities. According to 2017 data from the Pew Research Center, 77% of Americans now own smartphones. Among 18–29-year-olds, that same figure is 92%.

This means an enormous share of the general public is able to use voice-assisted AI search. When users of smartphones and smart speakers ask those devices for an answer to a query, that leaves the job of searching to certain AI like Siri and Alexa.

While Amazon’s Alexa will not deliver the answer to a voice search query unless it has been proven accurate, Google Voice Search tech (Google Home and Android devices) reports top results from Google. It doesn’t report results lower down on the search engine results page (SERP) or on subsequent results pages.

This makes being at the top of Google’s results more important than ever.

The language of voice search

As voice search through AI becomes more prevalent, the language of search changes.

When typing a phrase or question into Google, a searcher might use a non-sentence, such as “Indian restaurant Houston”, but when conducting a voice search through Alexa or Siri, the searcher will likely use full sentences and grammatically correct language:

“Siri, where is a good Indian restaurant in Houston?”

AI platforms try to respond to such queries in a human way, and they use the text of pages in search results to do so. Content should be optimized for conversational language with clear, grammatically correct answers to specific questions, such as who, what, where, when, and why.

Location and navigation searches

Thanks to voice search, mobile-friendly sites are becoming more important than ever. That’s because many people who use voice-assisted search do so on their smartphones.

Owing to the mobile nature of smartphone use, a large portion of voice requests through Alexa, Siri, and similar AI technologies deal with navigation and location. Integration with Google Maps means an opportunity for greater traffic for businesses with a local search presence.

For instance, a person may conduct a voice search for a “dentist near me” rather than doing a typed general search for top-rated dentists.

AIs process the spoken search query while keeping the user’s location in mind. This places further importance on business integration with Google Maps and creating optimized landing pages with location references.

To put it simply, voice requests lead to a SERP, where local businesses will want to rank. Claiming and maintaining Google My Business listings will become more important as voice search gains popularity.

Why FAQ pages work for voice search

Frequently asked questions (FAQ) pages appear to serve voice search purposes well. Long-tail keywords formulated as complete and conversational questions, answers to those questions, or location (“near me”) searches are becoming more important because they often answer voice search queries.

While a text-based search may seek broad information, a voice search generally seeks key information that can be concisely communicated, such as hours of operation, location, and directions.

Creating landing pages with this key information in mind is likely to improve placement in SERPs for AI-assisted voice searches.

Smartphone search vs. smart speaker

Smartphones are everywhere, but smart speakers are gaining traction quickly. In fact, around 39 million Americans own one of these devices, according to a January 2018 poll from Edison Research and NPR. As smart speakers like Google Home and Amazon Echo become more popular and available, people are beginning to use them to conduct searches.

As smart speakers aren’t linked to a screen or display of any kind, users only receive a verbal response to voice searches. That response is often based on a single search result – chosen by the AI assistant in an unseen selection process that takes only a few seconds.

Developers of these devices and AIs want the single result delivered to the user to answer the question or query fully and concisely. A business that is not highly ranked is not likely to be included in the limited results delivered by AI-assisted voice search.

Looking forward

Whether they’re aware of it or not, AIs like Alexa and Siri are changing SEO, and it’s up to marketers and businesses to adapt. From opting for conversational content to fully integrating businesses with Google Maps, there are plenty of steps to take to capture the benefits of this new type of search.

While AI-assisted voice search brings new goals and challenges to the table, the ultimate goal of SEO remains the same, whether you’re involved in SEO for law firms, restaurants, doctors’ office, or any other business. To convince AIs to include your content in their very limited answers to voice searches, you still need to occupy the top of the SERPs.

A page two or even top five ranking isn’t what it used to be. As voice search gains traction, being number one becomes more important than ever.

 

This article was originally published on our sister site, ClickZ.

 

The Connection Between Site Speed and SEO Today

Posted by on Jul 30, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The Connection Between Site Speed and SEO Today

The Connection Between Site Speed and SEO Today

Do you have a minute to spare? Probably. But I bet you won’t spend it waiting for a website to spin, sputter and load. We all hate that. And search engines hate that, too. But if your site is lighting fast, everyone will love you.

SEO or search engine optimization has a lot of moving components and is affected by numerous occurrences online. Through the years, Google and many search engines strive hard to provide the end-users optimum and useful information online to their fingertips. One of the most vital factor of your website strength is the site speed.

As a matter of fact, load time is important for both search engines and end-users. A snappier website improves customer experience and the view of your company in more ways than one, all of which help improve SEO and conversions.

Always keep in mind that a fast website always converts better.

What is Site Speed and How Important Is It?

Fast loading websites obtain higher rankings on Google.

Site speed is described as the amount of time it takes for your website to load, no matter what page you’re on. This includes images, photos, content, and any other additional features.

Many people think search engine optimization is focused primarily on using the right keywords in your content and building backlinks to get your website to the top of search engine rankings. In fact, there are actually various factors and the one that often goes unnoticed is site speed.

So, does site speed affect ranking? If you haven’t already know, Google considers your website’s loading time in its algorithm and uses that as a factor to determine your place in search results. With that being said, knowing your site speed and working to improve it could move you up to that coveted top spot you’ve always wanted.

The other reason why having a fast loading website is crucial is so that your visitors don’t get impatient and leave before you have a chance to tell them how great you are. After all, you worked so hard to get them to click on your website. You don’t want them to leave because your website loads slow do you?

Of course not.

There are several factors that affect your site’s speed, including file sizes, plugins, servers and more, but we’ll delve into that a little later on in this blog post.

Before we jump into that, let’s see what is the ideal site load speed that we should adhere to.

What is the Ideal Site Load Speed?

Keep your site load speed in a blink of an eye!

Have you ever wondered what is the ideal page load time? Anything slower than the blink of an eye – 400 milliseconds. Site speed can impact your SEO efforts as well. When pages take too much time to load it can cause your targeted customers to bounce off your website. Engineers at Google have discovered that the barely perceptible page load time, 0.4 seconds is long enough to cause users to search less.

From Google’s perspective, this means that sites with a faster load speed are going to be accessed more often, and are thus deemed more relevant – hence the inclusion of site speed in the ranking algorithm.

What Can Lower Your Site Speed?

Nothing is more frustrating than a slow website.

Technological advancements have not only changed how we access the internet, but also how we interact with it. The more options we have for finding online content, the less time we spend looking at it, seemingly. People are becoming quicker, so to speak. We’re always in a rush and we’ve always got something to do.

We live in a fickle generation that needs instant assurance and gratification. We don’t have time for a three-hour read on the history of content marketing especially when what we are looking for could have been presented in less than a paragraph.

So, what slows down your site speed?

1) Server Performance

Your website loads from the ground up. When someone clicks on your site, it’s like turning the key in the engine of a car. Your visitor is asking your engine to start up. If your server’s performance is poor, it will take a longer time to respond. No matter how quick everything else is, a slow server will always give you a slow start.

Your host performances depend on the price you are ready to give.

Ultimately, a cheap web host usually gives you a shared server, which means you’re sharing space and resources with countless other websites. If your site is slow, it’s because you’re in queue with lots of other sites! So, make sure to opt for the appropriate host that is suitable for your business needs.

2) Outdated CMS (Content Management System)

If you’re using WordPress, Drupal, or Wix to manage your website, you’ll notice a regular popup. It’s asking you to install updates or new versions of the softwares.

An update generally means they’ve ironed out problems, particularly in regard to speed. Install the latest versions of all software and plugins to help load your site faster and smoothly.

3) Large and heavy images

Do you remember the old days of dial-up internet? When a site loads so slowly you want to throw your computer out of the window. A large image could take up a minute to load, one small bit at a time! Infuriating, wasn’t it?

Things have improved greatly now, but the general rule still applies. After you ping the server, it will start carrying each bit of the website to your browser screen. The server will carry content, text, and images. This is like our shopkeeper bringing your stock from the storeroom.

When you think of it like this, it’s simple. Large, heavy items are going to take a longer time to bring out.

Both image size and image formats can make a difference to your site load times.

Similarly, a large image is going to take a long time to load up. If you’ve got a ton of large images on your website, you’re adding extra load time for every picture. The file format plays a vital part too. Browsers can load JPG, PNG and GIF images nice and quickly. But, heavy formats like TIFF and BMP are going to eat huge chunks into your load time. Avoid them!

4) Code density

Large, dense elements will slow down your website. One of the densest elements of your site is the code that creates it.

If you’re familiar with CSS, HTML, and Javascript, you’ll know that there is an enormous amount of code behind your website. If the backend of your site is clogged up with excess coding and javascript, it’s going to take longer to drag it up.

5) Too Many Plugins

If you’re running WordPress, you’ve probably got a host of plugins behind the scenes. Well, each one of those makes its own file request. Each has a CSS file and some javascript to load.

That means more weight to carry and more file requests. If you’re running a lot of plugins, it’s going to slow things down. Ask yourself which ones are absolutely necessary.

6) Unnecessary Redirects

Imagine you ask for directions to the train station. Then you get there and find out it’s closed down. It’s been moved to the other side of town, and now you’ve got to walk across the city.

Takes you ages, doesn’t it?

The same thing happens with redirects, It’s like loading a page twice. Unless you have a fantastic reason for doing it, avoid redirects on your site.

So, What Can You Do to Improve Website Speed?

The real question is, how can you speed up your website today?

Developing a great website takes a huge amount of work. The knowledge of investing in the right set of website speed optimization solutions and services, website management and perhaps coding is essential to yield maximum website performance. Now, here are some of the ways you can do to improve web page load time.

1) Start with Images

As a general rule of thumb, larger files take longer to download than smaller files. High-quality bulky images are the largest contributors to Web page size, degrading page speed and agitating visitors eagerly waiting for the web page to load.

But having no images on your site is boring! Rather than removing them, optimize images before uploading them to your site by:

Changing the resolution: reducing the “quality” of the images (and thereby the file size)
Compressing the picture: increasing the efficiency of image data storage
Cropping the picture: when cropping, you are cutting out unneeded areas and thus making the image smaller in size.

2) Find the best host possible

Hosting is the real deal breaker or maker when it comes to how your site loads for your visitors. An incapable hosting company can not only cause security problems for your files, but it can also drag down your page load speeds.

The solution? Always start your website building process by researching the best hosting solutions out there. A regular hosting account is generally the best solution for most sites, but if you’re trying to scale up super fast and reach an international network, a content delivery network (CDN) comes into play because it delivers content based on serves located closest to the users.

3) Remove Excess Ads

Constant bombardment of advertisements affects site speed.

One of the biggest issues sites faces today is the overabundance of ad slots on the page. Ads are a problem because they come with scripting and pixels and third-party calls. We can see page weights go up by more than 100 percent when a site is overloaded with advertisements.

A good ad campaign isn’t about simply placing more ads on the page. It’s about creating relevant and seamless page experiences where users are likely to click on your ad (not be put off by them). Removing excessive advertising from your site often positions you better in Google and reduces your bounce rates.

4) Speed Up Your Scripting

Sites today are overloaded with scripting. Scripting that adds functionality, tracks users, or loads pages. The issue with scripting is the more you add the slower your pages become. In short, every script creates more obstacles to fast loading. When you’re adding scripts to your pages you should consider this:

Do you need this script? Seems basic, but most of the time, scripts are added to add something “cool” to a site. What users care about is not cool but fast. So before you add them in, try asking yourself if it improves user’s experience and does it add to the experience without slowing it down?

5) Enable Caching

Page caching is when web pages store static files (like HTML documents and images), which allow visitors to access that page more quickly, since the database does not have to retrieve each file every time there is a request.

The thing with caching, though, is that in most cases it only works for repeat visitors. This can reduce load time and improve site performance.

6) Understand Your Audience

Now, you’ve looked at the technical aspects of your site speed, what’s actually presented on the pages should be your priority.

You can have a page that loads super fast, but if it isn’t useful to the user, then they’re going straight back out there. A mistake that a lot of content creators make is that they write content that they think is going to do well in the rankings. People are writing content that they think the search engines want to see, when what they should be doing is writing for their audience.

To succeed online, you have to understand and leverage the hidden psychology of your users. This is a really good point as if you don’t truly understand your users, then they are not going to be interested in what you have to say.

If you do have a proper understanding, then you won’t have to worry about trying to write for your audience. It will just come out naturally and that is exactly what search engines want.

Wrapping Things Up

Today, speed rules.

Google is paying a lot more attention to it than ever before. It is a critical element to run a successful website and should always remain a priority for site managers.

Everything discussed above can find its way into all aspects of SEO. However, something that I’ve found in my time in SEO is that quite often, we can forget the basics. There’s a desire out there to excite.

Many feel that impressing and standing out from the crowd with something flashy and out-there is the most effective approach. To have that mindset is not completely wrong, but don’t forget the basics and above all don’t forget the users.

The better your site usability, the more likely they are to stay on your site and the better chance there is for you to close a sale. Isn’t that the point of SEO in the first place? That’s it from me today. In the upcoming posts, I will be discussing with you about site speed tools. So, stay tuned!

How has site speed affected your rankings? Do you have any tips and tricks to speed up website that you’d like to share with us? Tell us by dropping a comment down below!

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SEO Guide: Perfecting On-Page SEO Optimization

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