Blog

Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Oct 10, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Let’s Make Money: 4 Tactics for Agencies Looking to Succeed – Whiteboard Friday

We spend a lot of time discussing SEO tactics, but in a constantly changing industry, one thing that deserves more attention are the tactics agencies should employ in order to see success. From confidently raising your prices to knowing when to say no, Moz’s own Russ Jones covers four essential success tactics that’ll ultimately increase your bottom line in today’s edition of Whiteboard Friday.

 

Video Transcription

Howdy, Moz fans. I am Russ Jones, and I can’t tell you how excited I am for my first Whiteboard Friday. I am Principal Search Scientist here at Moz. But before coming to Moz, for the 10 years prior to that, I was the Chief Technology Officer of a small SEO agency back in North Carolina. So I have a strong passion for agencies and consultants who are on the ground doing the work, helping websites rank better and helping build businesses.

So what I wanted to do today was spend a little bit of time talking about the lessons that I learned at an agency that admittedly I only learned through trial and error. But before we even go further, I just wanted to thank the folks at Hive Digital who I learned so much from, Jeff and Jake and Malcolm and Ryan, because the team effort over time is what ended up building an agency. Any agency that succeeds knows that that’s part of it. So we’ll start with that thank-you.

But what I really want to get into is that we spend a lot of time talking about SEO tactics, but not really about how to succeed in an industry that changes rapidly, in which there’s almost no certification, and where it can be difficult to explain to customers exactly how they’re going to be successful with what you offer. So what I’m going to do is break down four really important rules that I learned over the course of that 10 years. We’re going to go through each one of them as quickly as possible, but at the same time, hopefully you’ll walk away with some good ideas. Some of these are ones that it might at first feel a little bit awkward, but just follow me.

1. Raise prices

The first rule, number one in Let’s Make Money is raise your prices. Now, I remember quite clearly two years in to my job at Hive Digital — it was called Virante then — and we were talking about raising prices. We were just looking at our customers, saying to ourselves, “There’s no way they can afford it.” But then luckily we had the foresight that there was more to raising prices than just charging your customers more.

How it benefits old customers

The first thing that just hit us automatically was… “Well, with our old customers, we can just discount them. It’s not that bad. We’re in the same place as we always were.” But then it occurred to us, “Wait, wait, wait. If we discount our customers, then we’re actually increasing our perceived value.” Our existing customers now think, “Hey, they’re actually selling something better that’s more expensive, but I’m getting a deal,” and by offering them that deal because of their loyalty, you engender more loyalty. So it can actually be good for old customers.

How it benefits new customers

Now, for new customers, once again, same sort of situation. You’ve increased the perceived value. So your customers who come to you think, “Oh, this company is professional. This company is willing to invest. This company is interested in providing the highest quality of services.” In reality, because you’ve raised prices, you can. You can spend more time and money on each customer and actually do a better job. The third part is, “What’s the worst that could happen?” If they say no, you offer them the discount. You’re back where you started. You’re in the same position that you were before.

How it benefits your workers

Now, here’s where it really matters — your employees, your workers. If you are offering bottom line prices, you can’t offer them raises, you can’t offer them training, you can’t hire them help, or you can’t get better workers. But if you do, if you raise prices, the whole ecosystem that is your agency will do better.

How it improves your resources

Finally, and most importantly, which we’ll talk a little bit more later, is that you can finally tool up. You can get the resources and capital that you need to actually succeed. I drew this kind of out.

 

If we have a graph of quality of services that you offer and the price that you sell at, most agencies think that they’re offering great quality at a little price, but the reality is you’re probably down here. You’re probably under-selling your services and, because of that, you can’t offer the best that you can.

You should be up here. You should be offering higher quality, your experts who spend time all day studying this, and raising prices allows you to do that.

2. Schedule

Now, raising prices is only part one. The second thing is discipline, and I am really horrible about this. The reality is that I’m the kind of guy who looks for the latest and greatest and just jumps into it, but schedule matters. As hard as it is to admit it, I learned this from the CPC folks because they know that they have to stay on top of it every day of the week.

Well, here’s something that we kind of came up with as I was leaving the company, and that was to set all of our customers as much as possible into a schedule.

  • Annually: we would handle keywords and competitors doing complete analysis.
  • Semi-annually: Twice a year, we would do content analysis. What should you be writing about? What’s changed in your industry? What are different keywords that you might be able to target now given additional resources?
  • Quarterly: You need to be looking at links. It’s just a big enough issue that you’ve got to look at it every couple of months, a complete link analysis.
  • Monthly: You should be looking at your crawls. Moz will do that every week for you, but you should give your customers an idea, over the course of a month, what’s changed.
  • Weekly: You should be doing rankings

 

But there are three things that, when you do all of these types of analysis, you need to keep in mind. Each one of them is a…

  • Report
  • Hours for consulting
  • Phone call

This might seem like a little bit of overkill. But of course, if one of these comes back and nothing changed, you don’t need to do the phone call, but each one of these represents additional money in your pocket and importantly better service for your customers.

It might seem hard to believe that when you go to a customer and you tell them, “Look, nothing’s changed,” that you’re actually giving them value, but the truth is that if you go to the dentist and he tells you, you don’t have a cavity, that’s good news. You shouldn’t say to yourself at the end of the day, “Why’d I go to the dentist in the first place?” You should say, “I’m so glad I went to the dentist.” By that same positive outlook, you should be selling to your customers over and over and over again, hoping to give them the clarity they need to succeed.

3. Tool up!

So number three, you’re going to see this a lot in my videos because I just love SEO tools, but you’ve got to tool up. Once you’ve raised prices and you’re making more money with your customers, you actually can. Tools are superpowers. Tools allow you to do things that humans just can’t do. Like I can’t figure out the link graph on my own. I need tools to do it. But tools can do so much more than just auditing existing clients. For example, they can give you…

Better leads:

You can use tools to find opportunities.Take for example the tools within Moz and you want to find other car dealerships in the area that are really good and have an opportunity to rank, but aren’t doing as well as they should be in SERPs. You want to do this because you’ve already serviced successfully a different car dealership. Well, tools like Moz can do that. You don’t just have to use Moz to help your clients. You can use them to help yourself.

Better pre-audits:

Nobody walks into a sales call blind. You know who the website is. So you just start with a great pre-audit.

Faster workflows:

Which means you make more money quicker. If you can do your keyword analysis annually in half the time because you have the right tool for it, then you’re going to make far more money and be able to serve more customers.

Bulk pricing:

This one is just mind-blowingly simple. It’s bulk pricing. Every tool out there, the more you buy from them, the lower the price is. I remember at my old company sitting down at one point and recognizing that every customer that came in the door would need to spend about $1,000 on individual accounts to match what they were getting through us by being able to take advantage of the bulk discounts that we were getting as an agency by buying these seats on behalf of all of our customers.

So tell your clients when you’re talking to them on the phone, in the pitch be like, “Look, we use Moz, Majestic, Ahrefs, SEMrush,” list off all of the competitors. “We do Screaming Frog.” Just name them all and say, “If you wanted to go out and just get the data yourself from these tools, it would cost you more than we’re actually charging you.” The tools can sell themselves. You are saving them money.

 

4. Just say NO

Now, the last section, real quickly, are the things you’ve just got to learn to say no to. One of them has a little nuance to it. There’s going to be some bite back in the comments, I’m pretty sure, but I want to be careful with it.

No month-to-month contracts

The first thing to say no to is month-to-month contracts.

 

If a customer comes to you and they say, “Look, we want to do SEO, but we want to be able to cancel every 30 days.” the reality is this. They’re not interested in investing in SEO. They’re interested in dabbling in SEO. They’re interested in experimenting with SEO. Well, that’s not going to succeed. It’s only going to take one competitor or two who actually invest in it to beat them out, and when they beat them out, you’re going to look bad and they’re going to cancel their account with you. So sit down with them and explain to them that it is a long-term strategy and it’s just not worth it to your company to bring on customers who aren’t interested in investing in SEO. Say it politely, but just turn it away.

Don’t turn anything away

 

Now, notice that my next thing is don’t turn anything away. So here’s something careful. Here’s the nuance. It’s really important to learn to fire clients who are bad for your business, where you’re losing money on them or they’re just impolite, but that doesn’t mean you have to turn them away. You just need to turn them in the right direction. That right direction might be tools themselves. You can say, “Look, you don’t really need our consulting hours. You should go use these tools.” Or you can turn them to other fledgling businesses, friends you have in the industry who might be struggling at this time.

I’ll tell you a quick example. We don’t have much time, but many, many years ago, we had a client that came to us. At our old company, we had a couple of rules about who we would work with. We chose not to work in the adult industry. But at the time, I had a friend in the industry. He lived outside of the United States, and he had fallen on hard times. He literally had his business taken away from him via a series of just really unscrupulous events. I picked up the phone and gave him a call. I didn’t turn away the customer. I turned them over to this individual.

That very next year, he had ended up landing a new job at the top of one of the largest gambling organizations in the world. Well, frankly, they weren’t on our list of people we couldn’t work with. We landed the largest contract in the history of our company at that time, and it set our company straight for an entire year. It was just because instead of turning away the client, we turned them to a different direction. So you’ve got to say no to turning away everybody. They are opportunities. They might not be your opportunity, but they’re someone’s.

No service creep

 

The last one is service creep. Oh, man, this one is hard. A customer comes up to you and they list off three things that you offer that they want, and then they say, “Oh, yeah, we need social media management.” Somebody else comes up to you, three things you want to offer, and they say, “Oh yeah, we need you to write content,” and that’s not something you do. You’ve just got to not do that. You’ve got to learn to shave off services that you can’t offer. Instead, turn them over to people who can do them and do them very well.

What you’re going to end up doing in your conversation, your sales pitch is, “Look, I’m going to be honest with you. We are great at some things, but this isn’t our cup of tea. We know someone who’s really great at it.” That honesty, that candidness is just going to give them such a better relationship with you, and it’s going to build a stronger relationship with those other specialty companies who are going to send business your way. So it’s really important to learn to say no to say no service creep.

Well, anyway, there’s a lot that we went over there. I hope it wasn’t too much too fast, but hopefully we can talk more about it in the comments. I look forward to seeing you there. Thanks.

 

11 Metrics to Measure WordPress Digital Marketing Success

Posted by on Oct 8, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 11 Metrics to Measure WordPress Digital Marketing Success

WordPress Digital Marketing is a crucial aspect of any online business or website, especially if your goals are to reach new audiences and generate more traffic.

The internet and WordPress have provided you with a platform and an opportunity to gain more organic traffic to your site, reach a broader audience on social media, and generate more leads.

However, digital marketing is the only thing that will help you achieve your goals. Consequently, the only way you’ll know if you’re on the right track to reaching your goals is through metrics.

In this article, we’ll look at the best ways to measure your success and the most important metrics.

Let’s take a look.


Start with a goal

How do you know if you’re on the way to success if you haven’t defined what success is for you?

Also, knowing your goals gives you a clear direction – meaning you’ll know exactly what you’re striving towards.

Without goals, you’re extremely limited with your analysis, regardless of the metrics that you use.

Essentially, you’ll track your metrics and find out if you made some progress or not that much progress. It’s too vague and doesn’t prove overly helpful for digital marketing.


Your goal should include:

A definite time frame – This will help create a sense of urgency with your goals, and help you and your team drive towards them at a collected speed.

Real numbers – Try to give direct figures and stats when setting your goals. For instance, rather than saying “increase new visitors to your site,” opt for “drive 10,000 new visitors to the website.” It’s less ambiguous and gives you a checkpoint to aim for.

How you’ll achieve them – What are your methods for reaching your goals? What digital marketing tactics will you use?

Don’t forget to follow the “SMART goals” method, where every goal has to be:

S -Specific

M- Measurable

A – Achievable

R- Relevant

T – Time-bound


Set up a template

Every digital marketing campaign or strategy works best when there’s a template or plan to follow.

Your template will serve as a guideline, which will help you on your digital marketing journey. It should include factors like your initial goals, things that worked well, things that didn’t work so well, and an overview of what happened during every campaign.

Of course, once you decide on the metrics that you use, these can also be placed into this template.

Not only will this template help you track your current campaigns, but it will help you with future digital marketing strategies.


The best metrics for digital marketing with WordPress

Now that we have the logistics out of the way, it’s time to look into digital marketing metrics, that you can track.

There seems to be an infinite amount of metrics that you can use to track your success, but not all of these will be relevant to you and your specific goals.

Read through the below metrics, and decide which ones would be the best for your KPIs, and that should be the perfect starting point.


  1. Traffic and source

One of the most important metrics to measure is the overall website traffic.

Your website is a crucial aspect of your company or brand. It becomes your label, your home base, and often your first point of contact for many of your potential customers or clients.

For this reason, the majority of your digital marketing efforts will likely focus on driving traffic to your WordPress site.

Even if your individual goal is to gain more social media followers or develop your email list – this will ultimately be to acquire more visitors to your site.

You should continuously be tracking the traffic to your website. If your digital marketing strategy is working out, you’ll likely see a steady growth of traffic.

However, if you’re still conducting steady marketing efforts, and your traffic is declining, you may want to consider double-checking over your strategy, and troubleshooting your website.

Also, you should track where your traffic is coming from.

With such a vast array of different sources, it’s vital that you track every single root.

You can use this to determine which sources are the winners, and which ones may need a little more attention. It’s also a great way to decide where you will spend your precious time creating great content.

The primary website traffic sources are:

  • Organic search – The users that searched and clicked from a classic search engine like Google.
  • Direct Visitors – These visitors type in your URL straight from the search bar. They could have also bookmarked your website.
  • Social – These are the users that come to your website from social media or content posts.
  • Referrals – If a link to your site is featured on somebody else’s website, you will often gain users from this other website.

Pay close attention to these metrics and act upon them.


  1. Visitors

The next metric to track is your visitors. Specifically, whether they are new visitors or returning visitors.

Multiple visits can confirm that you are providing valuable information to people, and they will want to keep coming back.

New visitors can also indicate that your digital marketing strategies are essential. Both are important aspects.

As you release new content (like blogs), review your new vs. returning visitors metric just to check how well it is doing.

Depending on your goals and company, one may be of more importance than the other.

For instance, if you’re looking to drive more organic traffic to your site,

perhaps for a particular service, new visitors may be essential for you too.

If you’re a news site and want to measure how many people come back to your website and read your content, the returning visitor’s traffic metric may be of more importance.

If you want to increase your new and returning visitors, make sure to create and publish valuable content. Use social media to promote all your content, and use mailing lists to send to subscribers.


  1. Sessions

Sessions are the term for the number of visits that your website receives.

Google, as an example, counts sessions every 30 minutes – meaning if somebody enters your site in the morning and then later on in the evening, it will be considered as two unique sessions.

The metric you need to look out, in regards to sessions, is the duration. Basically, how long are your user’s spending on your website before they click off, and what might be the reason for this?

Some industries generally have longer average session duration. For instance, the hospital and healthcare industry’s average session time is over double that of the information sector.

There are multiple factors that can impact a session duration. For instance, if your website is easy to navigate, the information is easy to find, or if the content you post is valuable.

Tracking these metrics will enable you to make necessary changes. Hypothetically, you could add video content or increase the readability to increase the average session time.


  1. Most visited pages

If you’re trying to discover which pages your visitors find the most valuable, looking at this metric could be imperative. This could give you information on the pages you need to improve, as well as the pages which are performing well.

Google Analytics gives you an option to check out the Behavior Flow – this will help you find out where your site’s visitors are going, how long for, and other important factors.


  1. Pageviews

This is the metric for the total number of pages viewed. Importantly, a user who repeatedly visits the same page will trigger this specific metric. However, it remains a critical website traffic metric.

For digital marketing, it’s essential to know how many pages are visited on your website in any given time period. Just like the other metrics, it will help you understand if your site is of value, or if only individual pages are.

With these analytics, you can decide how you can make the entirety of your site just as successful as the other pages.

Remember, some of these metrics may be expected. For instance, your T&C page won’t have as many views as your home page. However, comparing why your “skincare” page has more views than your “meal plans” page, as an example, could be something to look into more.

Marketing benefits significantly from understanding the target audience more.


  1. Bounce rate

The bounce rate is the term given to users that leave your website (or bounce away) after only viewing one page.

The most common reasons why users bounce from a site is if the site takes too long to load, they quickly realized they weren’t going to find what they were looking for, an error page loaded, or they just weren’t compelled enough to stay.

It’s a great metric to track, as it can showcase how successful or fast your site is. You should, in general, aim to get the bounce rate as low as possible. The only exception is if your visitors enter another site that you send them to.

One of the best ways to combat user’s bouncing habits is by sending them to the specific page that they need or want straight away.

For example, if you’re marketing a specific product or service – make sure you send them directly to the page all about it.

Also, don’t forget to add a call to action, include graphics, and decrease your page load time.


  1. Exit rate

This metric is different to bounce rate, it’s a little more specific but reveals quite a lot.

“The exit rate will show you exactly where your users leave the website. Essentially, it shows you the exact moment when a user lost interest and decided to exit off your page. Knowing this will help you discover new ways to keep your audience and ensure that they don’t lose interest in the future.“ — Brenda Saunders, Marketing Specialist at Studicus.


  1. Conversion rate

You can also track the number of conversions made on your site – basically how many of your visitors turn into a download, lead entry, sale, or subscriber, for example.

Of course, other metrics play into this result, and it might not be the thing that you’re focusing on with your digital marketing campaign. However, this is still an important metric to track, and can often highlight to you if you’re making the right marketing moves.


  1. Social reach and engagement

This will require you to take a trip away from your WordPress site, but it’s still an important metric to track.

Social media metrics tell you exactly how many people reached/saw your content. As you increase your social media efforts, you should see a steady increase in the number of people that you’re visiting.

Use your WordPress site to fully promote and brand your social media profiles – even embedding your own tweets or Instagram posts into posts.

One step further is to reach social media engagement. This refers to the total number of people that interact with any social media post.

For instance:

  • Shares
  • Likes
  • Comments
  • Clicks
  • Retweets

It’s arguably the most social media metric to track, primarily if you’re focusing on social media in your digital marketing campaigns.

Engagement is also something that you have to do organically, making it one of the most important metrics to measure success.


  1. Click-through rate

While click-through rates are commonly used when talking about email marketing. However, it can be used when referring to the total number of clicks from any platform.

For instance, if you want your visitors to go to a particular page, you can track your click-through rate for all your marketing efforts.

Your click-through rate is essential to track, as it’s a great signifier of how well your marketing campaign is doing.


  1. Return on investment

If your digital marketing campaign is costing you money, it’s imperative that you track your return on investment.

Tracking this metric should not come as a surprise, chances are you’re likely already doing this.

The ROI equates to how much investment you’ve made, and also how much you have earned from this.

It’s super easy to lose track of how much money you’re spending, the ROI makes it easy to make sure you’re not going over budget, or wasting money on a campaign that isn’t working for you.


What tools can I use?

Now that we have all the necessary metrics out of the way, it’s time to look into the tools that you can use.

WordPress already puts you at such an advantage. The platform offers you a range of different tools and plugins that you can install.

The key is to not go overboard with how many metrics you measure and the tools you use to do it. Otherwise, it will get overly confusing.


Google analytics

Of course, the number one analytics is definitely Google Analytics. It’s completely free and can be installed using the plugin option on your WordPress site.

You can also install it directly by adding code if that’s something you’re familiar with.

Google Analytics will give you insights into the majority of the metrics that are listed above.


MonsterInsights

This can be used in tangent with Google Analytics, enhancing the benefits. Again, this is one of the best analytics solutions for your WordPress site and shows you useful reports that will track your digital marketing efforts.

This plugin will add a website statistics dashboard into your WordPress admin area. It shows you your top traffic sources – something that is imperative to track. It also ranks your top blog posts, pages, and more – giving you a concise way to see if your marketing efforts are working.

If you’re an e-commerce store, this also comes with tracking for your e-commerce site. Using this data can help prevent cart abandonment on your website.


Social media insights

Of course, you should also be using built-in analytics on your social media profiles.

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest all offer insights. These will give you all the information that you need regarding reach and engagement.

With these insights, you can work our why individual posts perform better than others, and what you can do to improve your reach and engagement.

Once you have all the metrics in front of you, you can make the necessary changes. Hence why metrics are a crucial aspect of digital marketing.


Conclusion

Keeping a close eye on your website’s numbers is absolutely necessary, especially if you’re introducing a new digital marketing strategy to your WordPress site.

As with everything, it’s essential to define your own success and set realistic expectations and goals. Digital marketing can be a slow process, but seeing steady inclines can be all the information you need to know how well your site is doing.

While merely tracking your social media followers might give you an idea, but it won’t give you an in-depth summary of why and how you’re achieving your goals. e

The metrics above will help ensure that you’re going in the right direction. If not, it will help you decide where and how to make the necessary changes.

The post 11 Metrics to Measure WordPress Digital Marketing Success appeared first on WP Fix It.

The 10 SEO ranking factors we know to be true

Posted by on Oct 7, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on The 10 SEO ranking factors we know to be true

SEO has become extremely complicated and technical over the years. I’ve heard that organic search went from roughly 200 rankings factors to over 500, possibly more. But that’s speculation – only a few ranking signals were ever officially confirmed by Google. Some were “discovered” in studies, but most of them are either based on assumption or anecdotes. That creates too much room for uncertainty, speculation and straightforward wrong information.

Deep Dive: (for beginners) what is a SEO ranking factor?
An SEO ranking factor is a signal Google uses to rank pages in Google Search.

Google applies “Ranking Signals” to its index of web documents to return the most relevant result when a user performs a search. It’s important to distinguish between indexing and ranking. Google builds an index of pages by using hyperlinks to crawl through the web. Ranking doesn’t happen in this step. Many people think that when Google cannot properly index a page, say because it uses non-compliant Javascript, it is a ranking factor. That’s not the case.

Ranking signals take lots of different parameters on and off a web document into account: content, links, structure, etc. Our goal as SEOs is to figure out what ranking factors Google uses, so that we can optimize sites to rank higher in Organic Search.

We need more clarity about what we do know and what we don’t know in SEO to improve our credibility, have better conversations and achieve better results. Google’s use of Machine Learning is already making it harder to understand ranking signals and algorithm updates. It will not get easier and speculation only adds to the noise.

Instead of analogy, we need to reason from first principles.

HOW WE DISCOVER RANKING FACTORS IN SEO

“What ranking factors do we certainly know to be true?” is not a simple question. Google is a black box and it won’t tell us the secrets to its $100 billion algorithm [13]. It’s often impossible to create laboratory conditions in which we can isolate a factor and measure its impact on rank (people tried [27]). On top of that, ranking factors aren’t as “clear” as they used to be. They changed a lot over time and now even seem to be weighed different depending on the query. Yet, there are other systems of similar nature that have been reverse engineered. It’s not impossible.

To advance our understanding, we can draw evidence from 7 sources:

  1. Google’s blog
  2. Public statements by Googlers, e.g. on Twitter, in presentations or in interviews
  3. Ranking factor studies/analyses
  4. The Google Quality Rater Guidelines
  5. Google’s basic SEO guide
  6. Patents Google registered or acquired
  7. Anecdotes (people running tests and drawing conclusions

None of these sources are perfect, but in combination, they give us the best picture possible. There’s always an angle you can attack this from. For example, officially confirmed signals still don’t tell us how their weighted in the sum of all signals. Statements on Twitter are often very broad. And we even see data that conflicts with some things Google says. But, we have to work with what we have ¯\_(ツ)_/¯.

ESTABLISHING FIRST PRINCIPLES OF SEO

First principles are the smallest building blocks; the things and laws we know to be true. Establishing first principles comes with three constraints. First, we have to distinguish between direct and indirect impact. Optimized meta-descriptions can positively impact organic traffic, but don’t have a direct impact on rank. Second, the questions “how much” and “in which case” are significant. Not every ranking factor applies to every query in the same way. For example, QFD (“query deserves freshness”) and HTTPS apply to only certain keywords. Third, we have to distinguish between positive and negative ranking factors (for example, 404 errors or “thin content”).

What’s the overarching goal I’m trying to achieve with this article? The goal is to sharpen our sense of proven truths in times of uncertainty. Google’s increasing usage of machine learning makes it harder than ever to understand the algorithm(s). But, by going back to the basics, we should be able to focus on results over speculative minutiae.

OFFICIALLY CONFIRMED RANKING FACTORS

We can put ranking signals into three groups:

  1. Officially confirmed by Google
  2. Discovered through analysis
  3. Speculated

I’m covering only confirmed and discovered signals in this article. I don’t see any sense in amplifying ranking signal speculations by covering them in this article.

The order in which the ranking factors are mention is my personal understanding of their significance. I understand content to be the most important signal on this list and E-A-T the least important. However, none of the signals are unimportant.

  1. Content
  2. External and internal links
  3. User Intent
  4. CTR
  5. User Experience
  6. Title tag
  7. Page speed
  8. Freshness
  9. E-A-T
  10. SSL encryption

RANKING SIGNAL 1: CONTENT

Returning the most relevant search results is the goal of every search engine. The roll-out of Hummingbird in 2013 was a milestone in getting closer to that goal: Google switched focus on entities and their relationships, which made it significantly better at understanding context and relevance.

In the early days of search, it was enough to mention a keyword many times on the page to be relevant. Now, content needs to have high relevance for the query, informational depth, answer all questions about a topic and match user intent. So, “Content as a ranking factor” means the length, depth, and relevance of body content for the targeted query.

Deep Dive: the nuance of content

Content is not only text; it’s also images, videos, gifs, and more. All these elements play together (more under “User Intent”). Ranking in Google’s image search is not the only benefit of optimizing images. Adding a descriptive alt-tag and file name increases the relevance of your content, especially for search queries that demand more visual results, like “star wars wallpaper”.

There’s also a difference between main content and supplementary content, i.e. text in the footer, header or parts of the site other than “the body”. It’s easy to see that the topic of “content” is very nuanced, but I’m trying to keep it high-level here.

Lastly, “pruning” low quality content has shown to be effective many times. The idea is to decrease the amount of low quality content on a domain by either improving or getting rid of it (noindex, 404 or redirecting). This indicates that Google measures content quality on a domain-level, at least to a degree. Note that this is not an official ranking factor, but John Mueller addressed the topic in a Webmaster Hangout, saying:

So in general when it comes to low quality content, that’s something where we see your website is providing something but it’s not really that fantastic. And there are two approaches to actually tackling this. On the one hand you can improve your content and from my point of view if you can improve your content that’s probably the the best approach possible because then you have something really useful on your website you’re providing something useful for the web in general. […] cleaning up can be done with no index with a 404 kind of whatever you like to do that.

How do we know this to be true?

Google SEO Starter Guide

  • Creating compelling and useful content will likely influence your website more than any of the other factors discussed here.” [2]
  • […] optimizing your image filenames and alt text makes it easier for image search projects like Google Image Search to better understand your images.
  • If you do decide to use an image as a link, filling out its alt text helps Google understand more about the page you’re linking to. Imagine that you’re writing anchor text for a text link.

Presentations:

  • How Google works [18]

Interviews:

  • Andrey Lipattsev Q&A [20]

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “When we index a web page, we add it to the entries for all of the words it contains.” [1]
  • “Matt Cuts: Is speed more important than relevance?” [24]
  • “How Google is remaking itself as machine learning first company” [31]
  • “Better understanding of your site” [32]
  • “Good times with inbound links”: “*One of the strongest ranking factors is my site’s content. *” [34]
  • “Google Technology Overview” [36]
  • “Google Image Publishing Guidelines” [45]

RANKING SIGNAL 2: EXTERNAL AND INTERNAL LINKS

Links still have a decent influence on rankings, but ranking factor studies and Google statements have shown its decline over time. They still play a role in the ranking and indexation of web documents. And, like “content” as a ranking signal, backlinks are a bit more nuanced. Their quality depends on many factors, such as anchor text, strength of the link source, and matching content relevance between link source and target.

Internal links are powerful ranking signals, too. They pass link equity from page to page. Internal anchor text helps Google understand the topic and context of content like external backlinks. Already in 2008, Google recommended to “keep important pages within several clicks from the homepage“. So, URL-structure has a positive impact on rankings because it’s an indicator of a clear hierarchy of information (system taxonomy). URL optimization revolves around clean, descriptive directory-structures without duplicates or parameters.

Deep Dive: age as a quality indicator for links (and content)

I want to call out a patent invented by Matt Cutts (some might remember him) and Jeff Dean (Google’s current head of AI), amongst others. It describes using historic information in ranking, but I want to narrow down on the factor of document age and its impact on the quality of a link. A rapid spike in the number of backlinks might indicate a spam attempt or be okay depending on how old a page/site is.

In implementations consistent with the principles of the invention, the history data may include data relating to: document inception dates; document content updates/changes; query analysis; link-based criteria; anchor text (e.g., the text in which a hyperlink is embedded, typically underlined or otherwise highlighted in a document); traffic; user behavior; domain-related information; ranking history; user maintained/generated data (e.g., bookmarks); unique words, bigrams, and phrases in anchor text; linkage of independent peers; and/or document topics.” [40]

The patent contains all kinds of interesting hints, so give it a read when you have time.

How do we know this to be true?

Patents:

  • PageRank patent [14]
  • “Training set construction for taxonomic classification” [29]
  • “Information retrieval based on historical data” [40]

Interviews:

  • Andrey Lipattsev Q&A [20]

Google SEO Starter Guide [2]

  • The navigation of a website is important in helping visitors quickly find the content they want. It can also help search engines understand what content the webmaster thinks is important. Although Google’s search results are provided at a page level, Google also likes to have a sense of what role a page plays in the bigger picture of the site.
  • Link text is the visible text inside a link. This text tells users and Google something about the page you’re linking to. Links on your page may be internal—pointing to other pages on your site—or external—leading to content on other sites. In either of these cases, the better your anchor text is, the easier it is for users to navigate and for Google to understand what the page you’re linking to is about.” (also applies to external links)
  • Think about anchor text for internal links too
  • URLs with words that are relevant to your site’s content and structure are friendlier for visitors navigating your site.
  • Use a directory structure that organizes your content well and makes it easy for visitors to know where they’re at on your site. Try using your directory structure to indicate the type of content found at that URL.
  • Provide one version of a URL to reach a document

Articles

  • “Importance of link architecture” [33]
  • “Technologies behind Google ranking”: “IR gave us a solid foundation, and we have built a tremendous system on top using links, page structure, and many other such innovations.” [17]
  • “Good times with inbound links”: “As many of you know, relevant, quality inbound links can affect your PageRank (one of many factors in our ranking algorithm)” [34]
  • “Google Turning Its Lucrative Web Search Over to AI Machines” [35]
  • “Google Technology Overview” [36]
  • “Content guidelines: Keep a simple URL structure” [44]

RANKING SIGNAL 3: USER INTENT

I’ve written about the different types of user intent and how to identify them for a large set of queries in “User Intent mapping on steroids”:

User intent” is the goal a user is trying to achieve when searching online. Old school SEO distinguished between “transactional”, “navigational”, and “informational” user intent. People either want to buy, visit a specific page or find out more about a topic.

That hasn’t changed dramatically, but in the 2017 version of its quality rater guidelines, Google distinguishes between four intents:
– Know
– Do
– Website
– Visit-in-person

Content relevance and User Intent are closely related, but not the same. First, if user intent isn’t met a page won’t rank, whereas content relevance exists on a spectrum. For example, a blog article cannot rank for a query that demands listings, say for jobs or real estate. Or when you search for “Sushi”, you get local search results. Google understands that more users are looking for restaurants than an explanation or definition in this case. For some queries, images are a better format than text, for example, “tattoo inspiration”. In this case, you want to create an image gallery to rank well, not an essay.

RankBrain is the engine behind user intent understanding and the third strongest ranking signal according to Google:

Of the hundreds of “signals” Google search uses when it calculates its rankings (a signal might be the user’s geographical location, or whether the headline on a page matches the text in the query), RankBrain is now rated as the third most useful.

It’s described to assess “how well a document in the ranking matches a query” (Jeff Dean, head of AI at Google in a Wired article 2016 [31]).

How do we know this to be true?
Presentations:

  • How Google works [18]

Interviews:

  • Andrey Lipattsev Q&A [20]

Articles:

  • “FAQ: All about the Google RankBrain algorithm” [23]
  • “How Search Works”: “Understanding the meaning of your search is crucial to returning good answers. So to find pages with relevant information, our first step is to analyze what the words in your search query mean. We build language models to try to decipher what strings of words we should look up in the index.” [..] “This involves steps as seemingly simple as interpreting spelling mistakes, and extends to trying to understand the type of query you’ve entered by applying some of the latest research on natural language understanding.” [1]

RANKING SIGNAL 4: CLICK-THROUGH RATE

Click-through rate is the ratio between clicks and impressions in the Google search results. It’s affected by:

  • Brand recognition
  • Relevance of title, description, and URL for the query
  • Whether you have a rich snippet or not
  • Other features shown in the SERP (and which ones)

The exact usage of CTR in ranking is not 100% clear. It often falls between the cracks of using general feedback mechanisms in search. The questions here are how strong compared to other signals CTR is, whether it affects rankings in real-time (unlikely), or if there is an accumulation time. Besides Google being unclear about its usage, two papers show strong evidence for Google using CTR to rank pages.

There’s also evidence that Google is able to distinguish between more than just long and short clicks: “[…] rather than simply distinguishing long clicks from short clicks, a wider range of click-through viewing times can be included in the assessment of result quality, where longer viewing times in the range are given more weight than shorter viewing times.” [15]

How do we know this to be true?

Patents:

  • “Modifying search result ranking based on a temporal element of user feedback” [15]
  • “Incorporating Clicks, Attention, and Satisfaction into a
    Search Engine Result Page Evaluation Model” [26]

Presentations:

  • Gary Illes’ presentation at SMX Munich 2015 [16]
  • How Google works [18]

RANKING SIGNAL 5: USER EXPERIENCE

User Experience is one of the blurriest ranking signals of all because it’s so had to define and overlaps with many other signals. It could entail all touch points a user has with a company, but that’s impossible to measure for a search engine. It’s too soft. Instead, we need to look for hard factors:

  • Accessibility
  • Usability
  • Design

A page is accessible when it loads completely, quickly, and without issues. One way to optimize for this particular case is by providing image dimensions to avoid the “jump” when a page loads. But Ad pressure and invasiveness of ads fit into the bucket as well.

Compatibility with different devices, search functionality, and 404 errors are indicators for usability.

What most people have in mind when thinking of “user experience” is design and it does carry some importance. For example, If a site looks spammy users bounce, which can have implications on rankings. Important factors for “design’ are how easy it is for users to find and consume information and how trustworthy the experience looks. The latter plays into the next signal: E-A-T.

Good indicators for User Experience are user signals (bounce rate, dwell time, pages/visit) and engagement signals (social shares, scroll depth).

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “These algorithms analyze hundreds of different factors to try to surface the best information the web can offer, from the freshness of the content, to the number of times your search terms appear and whether the page has a good user experience.” [1]

RANKING SIGNAL 6: TITLE TAG

The Title tag has been one of the stronger ranking signals from the beginning. It’s a strong indicator of relevance and affects CTR. Having the keyword in the title is still a requirement to rank, even though Google understands the context of queries. Google looks at “[…] how often and where those keywords appear on a page, whether in titles or headings or in the body of the text.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “How Search Works” [1]
  • Google SEO Starter Guide [2]

RANKING SIGNAL 7: PAGE SPEED

Google confirmed page speed to have an impact on rank in 2010 for the first time [22] and in 2018 for the second time [21]. Where the former relates to desktop devices, the latter refers to mobile search (to no one’s surprise).

10 years ago, page speed was a simple metric. Nowadays, we need to measure several metrics to get a good understanding, as websites have become much more sophisticated. Google’s own page speed tool, WebPageTest, recommends “Speed Index” as unifying metric. It accrues metrics like TTFB (time to first byte), TTFP (time to first paint), TTFMP (time to first meaningful paint), and time to DOMContentLoad.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “Using page speed in mobile search ranking” [21]
  • “Using site speed in web search ranking” [22]
  • “Google Technology Overview” [36]

RANKING SIGNAL 8: FRESHNESS AND QDF

Fresh results are a top goal of search engines, after relevance. As mentioned in the Google SEO Starter guide:

Traditional search evaluation has focused on the relevance of the results, and of course that is our highest priority as well. But today’s search-engine users expect more than just relevance. Are the results fresh and timely?

“Freshness” in search got a push when Google introduced its new indexation system “Caffeine” in 2010. [37] It allowed Google do index (new) pages in a matter of seconds and paved the way to assign a query “freshness”: a higher relevance for time. The query “Bitcoin” is highly sensitive to news these days, for example, while that wasn’t the case 2 years ago.

“Query deserves freshness” QDF is the ranking signal Amit Signal, former head of search at Google, talked about already in 2007: “The QDF solution revolves around determining whether a topic is “hot”. If news sites or blog posts are actively writing about a topic, the model figures that it is one for which users are more likely to want current information. The model also examines Google’s own stream of billions of search queries.” [38]

The difference between “Freshness” and QDF is that the latter measures spiking search volume to indicate whether a query is “hot”. It ranks newer content higher and shows more news integrations in the SERPs as a result. The former refers to keeping content up to date by adding new facts or findings. Search engines always want to return content that’s as up to date as possible, but that’s not the same as a query that suddenly has a high interest. The two vary in intensity.

How do we know this to be true?

Patents:

  • “Information retrieval based on historical data” [40]

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “We take note of key signals — from keywords to website freshness — and we keep track of it all in the Search index.” [1]
  • “Google SEO Starter Guide” [2]
  • “Giving you fresher, more recent search results”: “Different searches have different freshness needs. This algorithmic improvement is designed to better understand how to differentiate between these kinds of searches and the level of freshness you need, and make sure you get the most up to the minute answers.” [19]
  • New York Times: “Google Keeps Tweaking Its Search Engine” [38]

Videos:

  • Matt Cutts “Query deserves freshness.” Fact or fiction?” [39]

RANKING SIGNAL 9: E-A-T (EXPERTISE, AUTHORITY, TRUSTWORTHINESS)

E-A-T (“expertise, authority, trustworthiness”) is another broad signal, like user experience. To optimize for E-A-T, you need to add information to your site that helps Google understand whether you’re an authority, for example by adding an “about” page or providing a correct and full address. Your content needs to live up to the required expertise in quality and length. Writing about rocket science sounds and looks a lot different than writing about rap (no judgment). Google will also look at recommendations and endorsements from other, neutral sites. Yes, that also includes links from highly authoritative sites like Wikipedia.

E-A-T includes factors like domain age, reputation, reviews, and ratings. Some of us might remember the days of rel=author, an attempt of Google to measure the expertise of people for specific topics. Google retired authorship, but the idea is the same.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “How Search Works”: “In order to assess trustworthiness and authority on its subject matter, we look for sites that many users seem to value for similar queries. If other prominent websites on the subject link to the page, that’s a good sign the information is high quality.” [1]
  • “Google Quality Rater Guidelines (2017)”: “The amount of expertise, authoritativeness, and trustworthiness (E­A­T) that a webpage/website has is very important. MC quality and amount, website information, and website reputation all inform the E­A­T of a website.” [30]

Presentations:

  • How Google works [18]

Articles:

  • “Obtaining authoritative search results” [28]

RANKING SIGNAL 10: SSL ENCRYPTION

Google confirmed SSL being a ranking signal in 2014, after migrating to https itself two years earlier. Once again, the question is and was how much that signal applies. Back when Google rolled it out, HTTPS affected about 1% of queries and seemed to carry less weight than content:

For now it’s only a very lightweight signal—affecting fewer than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content—while we give webmasters time to switch to HTTPS. But over time, we may decide to strengthen it, because we’d like to encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Encryption is more important in industries like insurances, finance, and e-commerce than in others. It’s also more applicable in the check-out/login part than the blog of a site, for example. Google seems to give certain queries and parts of a website a higher relevance for HTTPS. That doesn’t make HTTPS unimportant in other cases: Google often emphasizes the benefits of HTTPS for general security.

How do we know this to be true?

Articles:

  • “HTTPS as a ranking signal” [25]
  • “Google I/O 2014 – HTTPS Everywhere” [43]

RANKING FACTOR STUDY “META-ANALYSIS”

The strongest evidence in scientific research comes from a meta-analyses study. It looks at the data from many different studies on the same topic to form a holistic view. I conducted a “pseudo ranking factor study meta-analysis”, in which I compared the results of 7 studies from the last 2 years by Searchmetrics, SEMrush and Backlinko*. It’s “pseudo” because I couldn’t get insight into the raw data of the studies, so all the scientists in the audience can calm down ;-). (If any ranking factor study provider wants to grant me access – I’m all ear!).

On the chart, you see the top10 ranking factors from each study. I grouped them into five bigger fields (colored), so we can see the overlaps.

(links = orange, content = yellow, user behavior = blue, social = green, technical = gray)

When we look at the ranking factors across different studies – I don’t think anyone has ever done that before – we see foremost one thing: a big mess. On second look, I see a slight dominance of content relevance and length paired with user behavior. Backlinks seem to live on the lower end of the top10.

When it comes to backlinks, the sheer number of links and linking domains seem to still be the most prominent factor.

We can debate the meaningfulness and interpretation of ranking factor studies for the SEO industry, but I’m always open to learning from large sets of data. This little analysis merely helps to see the bigger picture.

*More caveats: Also note the timeliness of the studies. Ranking factors seem to change (or adapt?) faster in the last couple of months. Lastly, some studies focused on broad keyword sets while others looked at specific industries. That makes them only comparable to a degree.

ORGANIC SEARCH IS A NON-LINEAR SYSTEM

Organic Search is a non-linear system, meaning the whole is greater than the sum of its parts. Some factors seem to compound, others seem to be driven by thresholds. Having great content, links, and user, experience seems to have a stronger effect than each factor added in isolation. Google also seems to measure negative factors with thresholds: a few 404s won’t hurt, but after a certain percentage Google seems to reinforce negative consequences. I only have observational evidence for this, so I’m curious on your experience!

Fact is, we don’t know the exact relationship between each ranking factor. And, If there are really 200 (or more) ranking factors, we must admit that most are unknown to us. That doesn’t mean we cannot speak about them or do experiments, but we must be honest about what we know and what we don’t know.

But even without that knowledge, we can focus on the parts we know make a difference – on the first principles of SEO:

  1. Content
  2. External and internal links
  3. User Intent
  4. CTR
  5. User Experience
  6. Title tag
  7. Page speed
  8. Freshness
  9. E-A-T
  10. SSL encryption

You can never do the basics well enough.

References

  1. https://www.google.com/search/howsearchworks/crawling-indexing/
  2. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/7451184?hl=en
  3. https://backlinko.com/search-engine-ranking
  4. https://backlinko.com/google-ranking-factors
  5. https://www.semrush.com/ranking-factors/
  6. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors/
  7. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-finance/
  8. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-travel/
  9. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-media/
  10. https://www.searchmetrics.com/knowledge-base/ranking-factors-health/
  11. https://abc.xyz/investor/pdf/2017Q4_alphabet_earnings_release.pdf
  12. http://ilpubs.stanford.edu:8090/422/1/1999-66.pdf
  13. https://patentscope.wipo.int/search/en/detail.jsf?docId=US146703304
  14. http://www.thesempost.com/how-google-uses-clicks-in-search-results-according-to-google/
  15. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2008/07/technologies-behind-google-ranking.html
  16. https://www.slideshare.net/SearchMarketingExpo/how-google-works-a-ranking-engineers-perspective-by-paul-haahr
  17. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2011/11/giving-you-fresher-more-recent-search.html
  18. http://webpromo.expert/google-qa-march/
  19. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2018/01/using-page-speed-in-mobile-search.html
  20. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2010/04/using-site-speed-in-web-search-ranking.html
  21. https://searchengineland.com/faq-all-about-the-new-google-rankbrain-algorithm-234440
  22. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=muSIzHurn4U
  23. https://security.googleblog.com/2014/08/https-as-ranking-signal_6.html
  24. https://static.googleusercontent.com/media/research.google.com/en//pubs/archive/45562.pdf
  25. https://engineering.purdue.edu/~ychu/publications/wi10_google.pdf
  26. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO1&Sect2=HITOFF&d=PALL&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsrchnum.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&s1=9,659,064.PN.&OS=PN/9,659,064&RS=PN/9,659,064
  27. http://patft.uspto.gov/netacgi/nph-Parser?Sect1=PTO2&Sect2=HITOFF&p=1&u=%2Fnetahtml%2FPTO%2Fsearch-adv.htm&r=1&f=G&l=50&d=PALL&S1=08484194&OS=PN/08484194&RS=PN/08484194
  28. https://www.google.com/insidesearch/howsearchworks/assets/searchqualityevaluatorguidelines.pdf
  29. https://www.wired.com/2016/06/how-google-is-remaking-itself-as-a-machine-learning-first-company/?gi=e27d6becfaf8
  30. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2006/12/better-understanding-of-your-site.html
  31. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2008/10/importance-of-link-architecture.html
  32. https://webmasters.googleblog.com/2008/10/good-times-with-inbound-links.html
  33. https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2015-10-26/google-turning-its-lucrative-web-search-over-to-ai-machines
  34. https://web.archive.org/web/20111115090558/http://www.google.com/about/corporate/company/tech.html
  35. https://googleblog.blogspot.com/2010/06/our-new-search-index-caffeine.html
  36. https://www.nytimes.com/2007/06/03/business/yourmoney/03google.html
  37. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=17&v=QyFlIhruda4
  38. https://patents.google.com/patent/US7346839
  39. https://patents.google.com/patent/US6285999B1/en
  40. https://www.seroundtable.com/google-improving-pruning-content-24706.html
  41. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cBhZ6S0PFCY&utm_source=wmx_blog
  42. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/76329?hl=en&ref_topic=4617741
  43. https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/114016?hl=en

Google, SEO’s and ‘Quality Content’

Posted by on Oct 3, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google, SEO’s and ‘Quality Content’

GeoCities is a site previously ranking 3rd/4th for all variations of “wish promo code” (though now it’s settled in comfortably at #8).

I think 250k monthly queries related to a major brand makes this a pretty competitive query wouldn’t you say? Not only that, it came out of nowhere and is rapidly ranking for more and more search queries. Just check out the organic keyword report from SEMrush:

Seriously, you should check out the site, it has no main navigation, it’s written very poorly for the language it’s in (English), and it doesn’t have a meaningful link profile to speak of:

 

So if they aren’t ranking this site for its link profile, then I guess it’s ranking because of it’s ‘quality content’ right? After all ‘quality content’ without links can rank…

What does this mean for SEOs

Honestly, why are we as an industry still taking comments like this at face value? And aren’t comments like this detrimental without any context?

 

How often is this true? Is it for high volume or low volume searches? How often does Google rank low-quality pages by these processes aka what’s the fail rate? Google spokespeople hype up the ability of their machine process to solve incredibly complicated problems. And they do it! But they don’t do it anywhere near 100% of the time. And without the context and data, it feels irresponsible to run your digital business (whether agency side or in-house) based on statements like these.

Traditional SEO practices still work, Google doesn’t programmatically understand qualitative concepts like content quality nearly as much as they want you to think they do.

SEO isn’t dying anytime soon, and solid technical SEO, links etc still work etc.

 

6 Plugins to Improve Your WordPress Performance

Posted by on Oct 3, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 6 Plugins to Improve Your WordPress Performance

Part of running a successful website is making sure that it is performing as well as possible. You want your site optimized not only for the search engines but also for your visitors. Here is why the performance of your WordPress site is essential as well as several plugins you can use to improve the speed and performance of a WordPress.


Why You Should Care About WordPress Performance 

How your site performs is more important than ever for a variety of reasons. People simply don’t have the patience to wait for a slow website to load. Studies have shown that a site loading speed of over 2 seconds will generally result in about 47% of visitors abandoning their efforts. So, you’ll need to speed up your site to keep about half of your visitors interested.

WordPress performance also factors into your search engine rankings, which helps people find you online. Google now gives preference to websites that have faster loading times than those with slower ones, so an optimized site can help you improve your position in the SERPs.


6 Plugins to Improve WordPress Performance

The good news is that you don’t need to know how to code or do anything technical to improve your WordPress performance. It’s a user-friendly content management system (CMS) that allows you to make minor and major tweaks through themes and plugins.

Websites have common bottlenecks that slow them down and reduce performance, such as large image sizes, poor organization, and too many processes. Besides having a managed WordPress hosting for your site, here are six plugins that address many of these issues and help you improve WordPress performance.


1. Swift Performance Lite

If you’re looking to make your WordPress site as fast as possible, another optimization tool you’ll want to check out is the Swift Performance Lite plugin. This is a free caching and performance plugin for WordPress that will significantly speed up your site. Some of its features include:

  • Combine CSS/Javascript
  • Minify CSS/Javascript/HTML
  • Eliminate render-blocking Javascript and CSS above-the-fold in content
  • Leverage compression and browser caching
  • Optimize images
  • Remove query strings from static resources
  • Organize plugins

2. Tinypng

Images are major contributors to a web page’s size. It can significantly slow down page loading and increase the speed index of your WordPress. The trick is to reduce the size of your images without compromising their quality. Doing this manually with Photoshop or some other tool would be time-consuming. Fortunately, there is a plugin for that.

Tinypng is an online image optimization tool that also comes in plugin format. It will compress and optimize your JPEG and PNG images automatically. Some of its features include:

  • Automatic optimization of images when uploaded
  • Advanced image optimization in the background
  • Optimize images already in your media library
  • Set max parameters for images to resize large images
  • Option for preserve copyright metadata of images
  • Compatible with WPML, Multisite, and WooCommerce

3. WP Optimize

If your WordPress database is a mess, your site isn’t going to perform as well as it should. Over time, a MySQL database can end up with redundant databases and tables. You need cleaning tools like WP Optimize can remove any unnecessary stuff so that your site continues to perform at the highest level.

This plugin has several powerful features:

  • Cleans your database – It will search for remove and unnecessary data such as trackbacks, pingbacks, trashed and spam comments, and expired options. It gives you complete control over which options it will carry out and can do these at the intervals you select (weekly, etc.).
  • Compress images – The plugin comes with an image compression tool that will compress JPG, PNG, BMP, GIF, and TIF files up to 5MG in size. It will also do bulk compression, and auto-compress as images are uploaded.
  • Caching function – WP Optimize also has a caching engine that will temporarily store data for faster loading website loading.

4. Yoast SEO

If you want your WordPress site to get found by your intended audience, you’ll need to optimize it for the search engines. Yoast SEO, one of the most complete and powerful WordPress SEO plugins, can help you do this.

Once you install and activate the plugin, some of its valuable features include:

  • Advanced XML sitemaps functionality
  • Keyword optimization
  • Full control over breadcrumbs
  • Title and meta description templating
  • Content and SEO analysis
  • Content snippet previews
  • Create cornerstone content
  • Bulk edit content
  • Manage SEO roles

Yoast is a free plugin, and there is also a premium version. If you decide to upgrade, some of the advanced features you can access include managing redirects, suggestions for internal linking, content insights, and free support.


5. All in One WP Security Firewall

Even though WordPress is considered secure, it accounts for 90% of all hacked CMS sites. So, every step you take towards more security for your site will increase its performance. One way to take your WordPress site’s security to new a level is with the All In One WP Security & Firewall plugin.

This is a feature-rich plugin that comes with “basic,” “intermediate,” and “advanced” security and firewall features. Some of its features include:

  • Hardens user account security
  • Protects against “Brute Force Login Attacks” with a site lockdown feature
  • Add Google reCaptcha to the login system
  • User registration security features
  • Database security
  • File system security features
  • Blacklist functionality
  • Firewall features
  • Comment spam monitoring
  • Security scanner

6. UpdraftPlus

It would be a shame to work on your site for months or years and then lose everything in the blink of an eye because of an error or the actions of a hacker. This is why having backups are vital. UpdraftPlus makes backing up WordPress a seamless process.

This WordPress backup and restoration plugin does just what you would expect – and more. It backs up everything onto the cloud according to your set schedule. It will then restore your website with the click of a button. And it’s simple to use.

You can also use UpdraftPlus to clone and migrate your website to a new domain or a new host. This was once a complex process, but this plugin makes it simple with just a few clicks.


Conclusions

The biggest advantage of improving your WordPress performance is that it will help the experience of your visitors. The secondary benefit is that a higher-performing website is going to rank better in the SERPs, which will also give you more visibility on the web and help your business achieve its goals.

The post 6 Plugins to Improve Your WordPress Performance appeared first on WP Fix It.

New Keyword Tool

Posted by on Sep 30, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on New Keyword Tool

Our keyword tool is updated periodically. We recently updated it once more.

For comparison sake, the old keyword tool looked like this

Whereas the new keyword tool looks like this

The upsides of the new keyword tool are:

  • fresher data from this year
  • more granular data on ad bids vs click prices
  • lists ad clickthrough rate
  • more granular estimates of Google AdWords advertiser ad bids
  • more emphasis on commercial oriented keywords

With the new columns of [ad spend] and [traffic value] here is how we estimate those.

  • paid search ad spend: search ad clicks * CPC
  • organic search traffic value: ad impressions * 0.5 * (100% – ad CTR) * CPC

The first of those two is rather self explanatory. The second is a bit more complex. It starts with the assumption that about half of all searches do not get any clicks, then it subtracts the paid clicks from the total remaining pool of clicks & multiplies that by the cost per click.

The new data also has some drawbacks:

  • Rather than listing search counts specifically it lists relative ranges like low, very high, etc.
  • Since it tends to tilt more toward keywords with ad impressions, it may not have coverage for some longer tail informational keywords.

For any keyword where there is insufficient coverage we re-query the old keyword database for data & merge it across. You will know if data came from the new database if the first column says something like low or high & the data came from the older database if there are specific search counts in the first column

For a limited time we are still allowing access to both keyword tools, though we anticipate removing access to the old keyword tool in the future once we have collected plenty of feedback on the new keyword tool. Please feel free to leave your feedback in the below comments.

One of the cool features of the new keyword tools worth highlighting further is the difference between estimated bid prices & estimated click prices. In the following screenshot you can see how Amazon is estimated as having a much higher bid price than actual click price, largely because due to low keyword relevancy entities other than the official brand being arbitraged by Google require much higher bids to appear on competing popular trademark terms.

Historically, this difference between bid price & click price was a big source of noise on lists of the most valuable keywords.

Recently some advertisers have started complaining about the “Google shakedown” from how many brand-driven searches are simply leaving the .com part off of a web address in Chrome & then being forced to pay Google for their own pre-existing brand equity.

Categories: 

How to use SEO to make your startup more attractive for investors

Posted by on Sep 30, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to use SEO to make your startup more attractive for investors

Long before you get into deep negotiations, due diligence or just even get to pitch your startup to an investor, your chances of getting funded may be damaged by your online searchable reputation.

Your startup’s web assets, such as website, social media pages and any type of online content, as well as your personal online assets, are exposed to basically anyone who knows how to search on Google.

When someone new is interested in doing business with you, the first thing they’ll do is search your name and your startup name on Google. When this happens, you want to be sure that they are presented with the most complimentary information of yourself and your business. It means that web pages which contain positive information about you must be ranked at the top of the SERP (search engine results page).

Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is the process of affecting the online visibility of a website or a web page in a web search engine’s unpaid results. — Wikipedia.

In order to do that you need to be able to control or at least influence 2 things:

1. The content on the top search results of the SERP.
2. The rankings of the SERP for your name and your startup’s name.

How a search engine algorithm works?

Search engines such as Google use web crawlers to collect data from all around the world wide web. The collected information is then analyzed for each web page and domain through various parameters. The most important parameters are links to a web page, and content on a web page. That is how when you search for “Chicago Bulls,” you get the official website of the NBA team, and not of a bull farm in Chicago. This is accomplished simply because there are more links and content about the Chicago Bulls basketball team than any other bull in Chicago.

A SERP for the search term “chicago bulls”

While it is a huge and complex topic, which many thousands of engineers and marketers around the world everyday try to figure out, manipulate, and use to their advantage, there are actually a few things that anyone, even without previous background, can do to optimize theirs SERP rankings and content in a way that will support their online reputation.

Social Media Profile Optimization

Social media websites such as Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Google Plus and more, always rank high on Google for the account name search queries. Search engines love social media pages because they are usually the most relevant page when a user is searching for a specific name of an individual or a brand.

Here’s what you can to optimize your Social Media profiles/pages on SERP:

1 — Write persuasive profile bio:

Search for your name on Google and see how high your Twitter and LinkedIn profile appear. Pay close attention to the content snippets of the search results.

Does the text in the description create the best image of you or your brand?
If not, go to your profile settings, and edit text in the description. It may take a few days for the changes to appear, but it’s better late than never.

2 — Get a legit profile image:

Are your best images featured in the SERP? The images you see in the middle of the results page are taken from your social media accounts. If you are not happy with them, switch your profile pictures.

Make sure that your profile image is authentic, legit, and leaves a good first impression.

For your brand profile images, make sure your logo’s image is customized to the displayed size and isn’t cut in the middle of it.

3 — Remember I said it may take a few days for the new content to be indexed in search engines?

This one can sometimes help Google call its web crawlers to review your profile pages sooner. Submit the URL of your profile page to Google Search Console.

Submit your new social media profile page to get them indexed faster by Google

4 — Links are super important for search engine algorithms.

They show that a specific web page is relevant for a certain search query. Use the profile bio areas of your social networks account’s to link to your website and to your other social media accounts. Do it from your both personal and brand profile, and make sure that you link to your social media profile from your startup website as well, same as from your personal website if you have.

5 — Signup to more social networks.

If you see on the first page of the SERP other pages that you are not happy with their content or preview, go and open more social media accounts and optimize them. It will take some time for them to get indexed and climb to the top page, but it’s worth it.

Here is a list of recommended social networks to have your profile at, as they tend to rank high on SERP: Twitter, LinkedIn, Google Plus, About.me, Quora, Medium, Pinterest, and Facebook (I guess you have that. Though pay attention that the profile bio from your Facebook profile won’t be displayed on SERP.)

6— Pay special attention to these 3 social networks:

Twitter:
There are 2 main reasons why Twitter is so important for SEO. One — it almost always ranks on the first page of Google. Two — many second tier social networks are automatically generating your default profile bio using your Twitter bio description. Make sure that you pay close attention to your Twitter bio.

LinkedIn:
As with Twitter, LinkedIn will almost always rank on the first page and in many cases will be the first search result, especially in situations where you don’t own a personal website. LinkedIn will also have a higher click-through rate than any other social network. It means that if anyone is searching your name, they will more likely to end up on your LinkedIn page than on any other of your social network profile. The reason for this is that on LinkedIn users expect to find more background information about you, but also to have it outlined in a way which is more organized and easy to read.

Google Plus:
Beside the fact that this is the official social network of world’s largest search engine, there’s also a much more pragmatic reason to pay much closer attention to your Google Plus profile. Here is the reason why.
When your Google Plus contacts search for information about you on Google search, they will be presented with this box on the left side of the SERP. Ask a Google Plus contact to send you a screenshot of this box while they google your name and edit the description and the image on your Google Plus profile to deliver an optimized message to your potential investors.

People that you connected with in Google Plus will see this box (on the right) when they’ll google your name

7 — Customize profile URLs.

Include your first name and surname in profile’s URL. For brand profiles, make sure to include the exact brand name.

Guest Blogging and Content Contribution

Another group of website that search engines love is large publications. By becoming a content contributor of online magazines, you will be entitled to have an “Author Bio,” which you will use to not only brand yourself as an authority in your field, but also to link to your website and other social media profiles.

More than that, if you create the most relevant content about your brand and yourself, then you have a good chance to control more real-estate of SERPs for relevant search queries.

So here’s what you can do:

  1. If you are not writing at the moment, start with blogging. You can open a blog on Medium and begin writing articles about your niche product, or your journey as an entrepreneur.
  2. To get ideas on what to write about, you can use Google Keyword Planner which is a free tool that exists in a Google AdWords account. This tool allows you to explore popular keywords and searches of your product niche. Use these insights to optimize your writing to include answers to popular search queries.
  3. Distribute you blogs posts. You can use popular Twitter hashtags to help reach the most relevant audience.
  4. Use Facebook and LinkedIn groups to engage with other entrepreneurs or professionals in your niche and share your articles with them.
  5. When you feel that your writings has reached a good enough level, outreach to popular bloggers and editors and offer to contribute articles. You can use this list to find website that are open for content contributions.
  6. Mention your startup brand name in your articles to increase the chances of that content appearing on your startup’s brand name search queries.
  7. Link to your startup website in an authentic way, which will add value to the readers. If you do that, it will improve the rankings of your startup website.

Structured data with Schema.org

Posted by on Sep 27, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Structured data with Schema.org

Schema.org takes care of all the structured data needs on your website. If you use it to markup products, reviews, events and recipes, search engines like Google can pick up this data and present it in an enhanced way. If you want rich results like snippets, interactive mobile results, voice activated actions or a listing in the knowledge graph, you need to mark up your pages with structured data. This ultimate guide is an overview of this wide-ranging topic.

Boost your chances of Google showing rich results of your site in the search results: learn how to add structured data with Yoast’s training on structured data and SEO.

What is structured data?

Structured data is the data you add to your website to make it easier for search engines to understand. You need a so-called vocabulary to make it work and the one used by the big search engines is called Schema.org. Schema.org provides a series of tags and properties to mark up your products, reviews, local business listings, etc in detail. The major search engines, Google, Bing, Yandex, and Yahoo, collectively developed this vocabulary to reach a shared language that allows them to gain a better understanding of websites.

Structured data & Yoast SEO

Our flagship SEO plugin Yoast SEO supports multiple Schema.orgs out of the box. We’re working hard on extending this list and there’s more info in our Knowledge Base.

If implemented correctly, search engines can use the applied structured data to understand the contents of your page better. As a result, your site might be presented better in search results, for example in the form of rich results like rich snippets or rich cards. However, there are no guarantees you’ll get rich results – that’s up to the search engines.

Why do you need structured data?

Marking up your products, reviews, events, and more with structured data in the Schema.org vocabulary makes your site instantly comprehensible by search engines. This means that they can tell exactly what every part of your site is about. Search engines no longer have to guess that a product listing is a product listing, you can now say it is.

Is structured data important for SEO?

To cut a long story short: yes, structured data in the form of Schema.org is important for your SEO. Correctly implementing data might not give you better rankings, but it will indirectly make your site a better search result.

Enhanced search results give searchers an easier way to pick a result from the list of links. If your listing is rich, and your page does what your listing promises, you are a valid result for the customer and that will lead to a lower bounce rate. A lower bounce rate tells Google that your site is a well-regarded result that promises and delivers.

Also, since structured data is still picking up steam, you have a good chance of getting a head start on your competitors. Just think about it, if you have a barber shop and you markup your 300 five-star reviews, you are way ahead of your competitor who doesn’t mark up his reviews. Google picks up this data and shows it directly in the search results. If you were looking for a barber shop on Google, who would you pick? The one with no reviews or the one with 300 good ones?

Structured data leads to rich results

By making your site understandable for search engines, you’re allowing them to do interesting things with your content. Schema.org and its support is in constant development, so it is improving and expanding all the time. As structured data forms the basis for a lot of new developments in the SEO world — like voice search –, there are bound to be more in the near future. Below is a sampling of the rich search results that are currently available; you can find examples of all in Google’s Search Gallery. At the moment, there are several rich results:

  • Breadcrumbs
  • Corporate contacts
  • Carousels
  • Logos
  • Sitelinks Searchbox
  • Social profiles
  • Articles
  • Books
  • Courses
  • Datasets
  • Events
  • Fact checks
  • Job postings
  • Local businesses
  • Music
  • Occupations
  • Podcasts
  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • TV & movies
  • Video

Sitelinks Searchbox

A Searchbox is where the internal search engine of a site is presented within the search results of Google. Google uses Schema.org code for this as well. Yoast SEO has support for this built in, and there’s more info in our Knowledge Base.

The rich results formerly known as rich snippets

Rich results — we’re not supposed to call them rich snippets anymore, according to Google — are the extra pieces of information and interactive features shown on a search result page. In addition to the regular black lines of meta description text, a search result can be enhanced with product information like prices or reviews, or extra navigational tools like breadcrumbs or site search.

Keep reading: ‘Rich snippets everywhere’ »

Rich results on mobile: the carousel

Rich results on mobile are all the rage right now. Search results for certain types of items, like local restaurants, recipes, movies and courses, can get special treatment in the mobile results. These are presented in a touch-friendly, swipeable way also known as the carousel.

Google is incredibly interested in getting you to do as much as you can within these results. So, you can book your flight tickets, reserve a spot in a popular restaurant, order movie tickets and send a tasty looking recipe for cheesecake straight to your Google Home so it can assist you while baking it. Almost everything powered by structured data. And this is only the beginning.

Read on: ‘How to get mobile Rich Cards in Google’ »

Knowledge Graph

 

The Knowledge Graph is the big block of information on the right-hand side in Google. This block details different bits of information about a particular search result. Google fills this graph by checking and evaluating related content about this specific subject. If you have a validated company or if you are an authority on a certain subject, you might see your name, logo and social media profiles appear.

OK, so this might be a sneaky addition because featured snippets are rich results, but they do not get their content from structured data. A featured snippet answers a search question directly in the search results, but uses regular content from a web page to do so.

Does structured data work on mobile?

Yes, the results of implementing structured data work everywhere. Mobile implementation of Schema.org data is in its infancy, although Google has been pushing mobile rich search results for a while now.

If a page meets the criteria set by Google, you can now book movie tickets or reserve a table at a restaurant directly from the search results. If you implement structured data correctly, you could also be eligible for several interactive extras in the mobile search results pages. In addition, if you add AMP to the equation you can get even more Google approved interactive goodies on mobile.

 

Different kinds of structured data

If you look at the Schema.org website, you’ll notice that there is a lot of information you could add to your site as structured data. Not everything is relevant, though. Before you start implementing structured data, you need to know what you should markup. Do you have a product in an online store? Do you own a restaurant? Or do you have a local business providing services to the community? Or a site with your favorite cheesecake recipes? Whichever it is, you need to know what you want to do and explore the possibilities. Don’t forget to check the documentation by search engines to understand what they need from you.

Don’t go for the most obscure ones; pick the ones that are relatively easy to implement. Some Schema.orgs appear on less than a thousand sites, but others appear on millions. You can put the major Schema.orgs into groups like Creative Works and Commerce, and you will find the most common items to markup with Schema.org in these groups. These are the most important ones:

Creative works

The first major group is Creative Work and it encompasses the widest group of creative works – things that have been produced by someone or something. You’ll find the most common ones below, but the list is much longer. You’ll also find properties for sculptures, games, conversations, software applications, visual artworks and much more. However, most of these properties don’t have a rich presentation attached to them in search engine results, so they are less valuable. But, as mentioned earlier, if your site has items in the categories below, be sure to mark them up with Schema.org.

Articles

An article could be a news item or part of an investigative report. You can distinguish between a news article, a tech article or even a blog post.

Books

A book is a book, be it in a paper form or in digital form as an eBook. You can markup every type of property, from the author who wrote it to any awards it has won.

Courses

Soon, anyone offering courses can use the new Schema.org. At the moment, Google is holding small-scale tests with selected participants to see how this Schema.org performs.

Datasets

Google understands structured data for datasets and can use this to help surface and understand these datasets better. Find out more on Google’s developer pages.

How-tos

In the near future, you’ll be able to markup your how-to articles with HowTo structured data. By following a step-by-step process, users can get a specific task done. At the moment, there’s no rich result attached to this.

Music

Music also gets the structured data treatment. There are a couple of Schema.orgs of interest for music, like MusicRecording, MusicAlbum, MusicEvent and MusicGroup.

Recipes

By adding Recipe data to the recipes on your cooking website, you can get your recipes featured directly in search results. What’s more, with the advent of mobile rich results, recipes might even be presented in a stunning new way on mobile featuring great images — if you add them. And that’s not all, because you can now send your recipes to Google Home and get Assistant to speak it out loud for you. How cool is that?

TV & Movies

Movies and TV shows get their own piece of structured data as well. Searching for a movie in search engines will yield a rich result with reviews, poster art, cast information and even the ability to directly order tickets for a showing. You can even mark up lists of the best movies ever made or your favorite TV shows. What’s more, get your visitors to watch the content directly by adding ViewAction or Watch Action structured data.

Videos

It’s possible to do all kinds of interesting things with video. Google, in particular, is working on new ways to display videos in the search results, with AMP for instance. Google can use your videos in AMP carousels and Top Stories listings.

Podcast

Have a podcast? Why not mark up your podcast with structured data so Google can do cool stuff with it, like showing each episodes description and even adding a play button as well.

Commerce

The second major group is Commerce. In this group, you’ll find several important types to mark up with Schema.org.

Events

Marking up your event listings with the correct Event Schema.org, might lead to search engines showing your events directly in the search results. This is a must have if you own a nightclub, a venue or any type of business that regularly puts on events.

Businesses and organizations

If you make money with your website, chances are you own a business. If you’re a site owner or just work on a company site, you’ll find the business and organization Schema.orgs interesting. Almost every site can benefit from the correct business Schema.org. If you do it well, you could get a nice Knowledge Graph or another type of rich listing in the search engines. You can even add special structured data for your contact details so customers can contact you directly from the search results.

Read more: ‘Local business listings with Schema.org and JSON-LD’ »

Products

The Schema.org for products is almost as important as the one for businesses and organizations. Using Product Schema.org you can give your products the extra data search engines need to give you rich snippets, for example. Think about all the search results you see with added information, like pricing, reviews, availability, etc. If you have products, this should be a major part of your structured data strategy. Don’t forget to mark up your product images.

Keep reading: ‘Rich snippets for product listings with Schema.org’ »

Reviews

Reviews and ratings play an important role in today’s search process. Businesses, service providers and online stores all use reviews to attract more customers and show how trustworthy their offer is. Getting those five stars in search engines might be the missing link to creating a truly successful business.

Read on: ‘Grow your business with ratings and reviews’ »

New kid on the block: Actions

Voice assistants are all the rage and we will see a lot happen in this space in the coming months. Take recipes for instance; you can send a recipe from the search results — powered by structured data and AMP — to your Google Home to be read aloud while you are cooking. These are called Actions and there are a whole bunch of them. If you want your recipes to appear in the Google Assistant library you need to add a specific set of structured data and adhere to additional rules. You can find more on that on the Creating a recipe action page. Visit Google’s Assistant site to get a feel for what’s possible (a lot!).

Technical details

To get started with marking up your pages, you need to understand how Schema.org actually works. If you look closely at the full specs on Schema.org, you’ll see there’s a strict hierarchy in the vocabulary. Everything is connected, just like everything is connected on your pages. Scroll through the list to see all the options at a glance and note down the ones you think you need.

Google Search Console

If you need to check how your structured data is performing in Google, check your Search Console. Find the Structured Data tab under Search Appearance and you’ll see all the pages that have structured data, plus an overview of pages that give errors, if any. You can also find more insights into Rich Cards. Read this post for more info.

Let’s look at the hierarchy. A Schema.org implementation starts with a Thing, this is the most generic type of item. A Thing could be a more specific type of item, for instance, a Creative Work, an Event, Organisation, Person, Place or Product.

For example, a movie is a “Thing” and a “Creative Work”, which falls under the category “Movie”. You can add a lot of properties to this, like a “Description”, a “Director”, an “Actor”, a poster “Image”, “Duration” or “Genre”. There are loads of properties to add, so you can get as specific as you want. However, don’t go overboard, since not every property is used by search engines – at least not yet anyway. What you should do, is look at the specifications in Google’s documentation, for instance, to see which properties are required and which are recommended.

A sample Schema.org hierarchy

If we put what we know now in a hierarchy, this is what you will end up with:

  • Thing
    • Creative Work
      • Movie
        • Description (type: text)
        • Director (type: person)
        • Actor (type: person)
        • Image (type: ImageObject or URL)
        • etc.

If it would be a local business, you could use something like this:

  • Thing
    • Organisation (or Place)
      • LocalBusiness
        • Dentist
          • Name
          • Address
          • Email
          • Logo
          • Review
          • etc.

For local businesses, you could pick a more specific type of business. This makes it easier for search engines to determine what kind of business you own. There are hundreds of types of local business, but your business might not fit one of the descriptions. Using the Product Types Ontology you can get more specific information if your listing is too broad.

Sticking to the local business example, you’ll see that Google lists several required properties, like the NAP (Name and Phone) details of your business. There are also loads of recommended properties, like a URL, geo-coordinates, opening hours, etc. Try to fill out as much of these as you can, because only then will search engines give you the full presentation you’re looking for. If you need help with your local business markup, you’ll find our Local SEO plugin very helpful.

What do you need to mark up?

Looking at Schema.org for the first time might feel a bit daunting. The list is enormous and the possibilities are endless, so it’s easy to become overwhelmed. To get over this, you need to go back to basics. Think about what your site, business or product is about and write down the specifications and properties you feel are important, then work your way up from there.

Having said that, there are a couple of sections you should prioritize in your plan to add structured data to your site. If you start off with these three, you’ll have the basics covered and then you can build on that. You should absolutely start with structured data for your business details, products, and reviews. These will have the biggest effect in the short term.

 

How to implement structured data

Don’t be frightened, but here comes the technical part of the story. Actually there’s nothing scary about adding the data to your pages any more thanks to JSON-LD. This JavaScript-based data format makes it much easier to add structured data since it forms a block of code and is no longer embedded in the HTML of your page. This makes it easier to write and maintain, plus it’s better understood by both humans and machines. If you need help implementing JSON-LD structured data you can enroll in our structured data course or follow a high-level course on Google’s Codelabs.

Structured data with JSON-LD

JSON-LD is the preferred method of adding structured data to your site. However, not all search engines have been quick to adopt it – Bing being the last hold-out. Thankfully, Microsoft came round and now supports this, which is the most efficient method.

Below is a sample product listing of our flagship SEO plugin: Yoast SEO. This is only a small product listing with the basic information: type, name, image, description, and brand. At the end of the code is a call to action to buy the plugin, which costs a certain amount of dollars.

<script type="application/ld+json">
{
  "@context": "http://schema.org/",
  "@type": "Product",
  "name": "Yoast SEO for WordPress",
  "image": "https://cdn-images.yoast.com/uploads/2010/10/Yoast_SEO_WP_plugin_FB.png",
  "description": "Yoast SEO is the most complete WordPress SEO plugin. It handles the technical optimization of your site & assists with optimizing your content.",
  "brand": {
    "@type": "Thing",
    "name": "Yoast"
  },
  "offers": {
    "@type": "Offer",
    "priceCurrency": "USD",
    "price": "89.00"
  }
}
</script>

If you want to learn more about working with all this on your site, you should read Michiel’s article on how to use JSON-LD to add Schema.org data to your website, Annelieke’s article on adding structured data to your site with Google Tag Manager or learn how to add structured data with our training on structured data and SEO.

The old ways: RFDa and Microdata

The classic way of writing structured data for inclusion on your pages involves directly embedding it into your HTML. This made a really inefficient and error-prone process and is much of the reason why the uptake of Schema.org hasn’t been particularly fast. Writing and maintaining it via RFDa or Microdata is a pain. Believe us, try to do as much as you can in JSON-LD.

Microdata needs itemprops to function, so everything has to be inline coded. You can instantly see how that makes it hard to read, write and edit.

Structured data and Google AMP

The open source AMP project (Accelerated Mobile Pages) has been causing quite a stir. The project’s goal is to get pages to load lightning fast on mobile using a special kind of HTML. Google is pushing AMP pretty hard and also mentions its reliance on structured data. If you want to use AMP you need to add structured data. Google uses several Schema.org items to take care of the more interactive parts of AMP elements. You can use Yoast SEO combined with our AMP Glue plugin to take care of most AMP needs.

Tools for working with structured data

Schema.org is not too hard to work with, but if adding code by hand seems scary, you could try some of the tools listed below. If you are still not sure how to go about this, ask your web developer for help. They will probably fix this for you in a couple of minutes.

External links

Most search engines have their own developer center where you can find more information on the inner workings of their structured data implementations. Read these to see what works and what doesn’t. You should stick to their rules, because a bad Schema.org implementation could lead to a penalty. Always check your code in the structured data test tool to see if it’s correct. Fix errors and regularly maintain the code on your site to see if it is still up to scratch.

In the end

You can’t run away from structured data anymore. If your site means anything to you, you should look into it and figure out the best way to make use of Schema.org. Implemented correctly, it can do great things for your site, now and in the future. Search engines are constantly developing new ways to present search results and more often than not they use Schema.org data to do it.

The post Structured data with Schema.org: the ultimate guide appeared first on Yoast.

 

How To Fix WordPress Errors – 25 Most Common

Posted by on Sep 26, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How To Fix WordPress Errors – 25 Most Common

Knowing how to fix WordPress errors will ensure your site is always running smoothly.

WordPress is continuing to expand its horizons. WordPress 5.0 continues to get mixed reviews. More and more WordPress developers keep on adding wonderful plugins and themes to the burgeoning libraries of the CMS. And all along, the body of knowledge of common WordPress issues faced by end users also continues to expand.

In this guide, we’re going to cover 25 very common WordPress errors, and more importantly, will also tell you how to fix them.

Note: While we’ve taken care to cover all troubleshooting tips in great detail, we also strongly recommend that you take a backup of your WordPress website before making any major changes.


Internal server error

Here’s a dreaded one.

Beginners are well and truly flummoxed with this problem, because the error message doesn’t offer a clue of the nature of the cause.

So, you may need to try more than one troubleshooting tactics.

Probably the .htaccess file is corrupted. Here’s how you can resolve the problem.

  • Rename the current htaccess file to something else
  • For this, use the File Manager app in your web hosting account’s dashboard
  • Locate the file, right click it, select the option to edit or rename, and change the name
  • Revisit your WordPress website and see if the problem is solved
  • If it does, then go to Settings > Permalink
  • Save without making any changes here
  • This generates a new htaccess file

Or, you may need to increase PHP memory limit. Here are some steps you can try to fix this error.

  • Make a blank file names php.ini
  • Type in this code in the file
    memory=64MB
  • Save file
  • Upload to /wp-admin/ folder using FTP

If you receive a message that explicitly states a PHP memory limit related error, the above steps will be very useful.

There could be other causes, such as a plugin gone wrong.

Did the internal server error start after you installed a new plugin? If yes, you may want to deactivate it and see if the error goes away. If this is the case, write to the developer, and also check whether he/she’s addressed the problem on any web forum already.


The new theme’s installed correctly, yet the homepage doesn’t look like it should

Don’t lose heart, and don’t curse the theme developer. The solution may be a few clicks away.

In the WordPress admin panel, go to Settings > Reading.

Here, look for the option called ‘front page displays’

Now because you’re using a homepage template, you need to tell WordPress to set a static page as the front display.


The theme is missing the style.css stylesheet

So, you just paid for a premium theme, downloaded the files, uploaded them, only to stare at this ugly error message.

Wait, the solution is so simple, it may baffle you.

  • Unzip the theme folder you downloaded.
  • Look for a style.css file in the main directory, or in any of the subdirectories
  • Once found, zip it and upload to WordPress
  • You can also upload the theme folder via an FTP

Your changes don’t reflect on your posts

So, you’re trying to get in a quick update to your WordPress website page, and although the change is done on the editor, you don’t see it on the web page.

The solution – simply wait a few seconds.

Didn’t work? Maybe your web browser is still referring to a recently cached copy of the web page. Refresh the web browser and see it it works.

Another issue could be that you may have been logged out of your WordPress backend while making the changes. While ‘Autodraft’ (WordPress’ autosave functionality) will keep you safe, it’s better you copy the post content (or the part you changed), log in again, and simply paste and publish.


A plugin stopped working all of a sudden

That can be very irritating. Thankfully, the solution is often easier than you anticipate.

It’s highly likely that any of your recent software changes (whether it’s a WordPress upgrade, a config change, or the installation of another similar plugin) may be behind this change.

If you remember and suspect that any such change may have caused the plugin to malfunction, check whether anybody else has reported a similar problem to the developer.

Also, it could be that you’re using an outdated plugin version (particularly if you don’t use this plugin often enough).

Go to Administration > Plugin, and check whether there’s a notification of an update available for the plugin in question.

Source

Note: now that you’re here, it makes sense to remove plugins you don’t need/use anymore, and update others where you see an update notification.

Also, if you use a lot of plugins, consider using a plugin to manage their updates; something like the Easy Updates Manager.


The editor window doesn’t show you buttons

Often, users complain that the WordPress editor goes “white” and all its buttons disappear.

This is how it may look like.

The cause: concatenated JavaScript may not be functioning properly.

Or, if you recently installed an activated a plugin that tinkers with WordPress TinyMCE, you may see this problem.

How to solve this?

Option 1 – Log out, and log in. Yes, this works more often than you’d expect.

Option 2 – Clear the browser cache and check.

Option 3 – Replace the TinyMCE script in your WordPress. The folder is  /wp-includes/js/tinymce/


Image Gallery Errors

When you’re chasing a deadline, and realize you can’t get WordPress to show your images in the media library, things can get stressful.

One of the causes could be a misconfiguration in the shared hosting server. An upgrade by the web host could have changed the file permissions.

To solve this, you will need to correct the file permissions.

Go to your website’s /wp-content/ folder, right click on the Uploads directory, select the File Permissions option.

Now, set the permissions value to 744.

Mark the “recurse into subdirectories” and “apply to directories only” options.

In a similar way, you will need to change the permission for files in the Uploads directory to 644.

Once these changes are done, go back to the admin area and see if the issue is resolved.


The “File Exceeds The upload_max_filesize Error”

While uploading HD quality images, you may come across this error. Sesolution, thankfully, is pretty easy.

The simplest way to solve this problem is to edit the htaccess file, which you can find in the root folder.

Copy and paste this code in the file.

### Change max file size for file uploads

php_value upload_max_filesize 64M

php_value post_max_size 64M

php_value max_execution_time 300

php_value max_input_time 300

Note: We’d discussed the php.ini method earlier in this guide. That method will work to solve this problem also.


Mixed Content Error

This error could cause your end users to suspect whether the website is safe enough. That’s even more so because with this error in play, browsers won’t show the green padlock that signifies the security of a website.

If you’ve recently installed a TLS/SSL certificate, chances are you’ll experience this error.

The reason – images may be hard coded to use HTTP, which means they’re still loaded over HTTP instead of HTTPS.

Install a plugin to rewrite the old URLs for affected images, and then deactivate it.


Thumbnails appear distorted

When you move to a better WordPress theme, you may face this problem. Herein, you will experience that image thumbnails appear distorted, and hence spoil the look of your website.

Reason: the new theme may be defaulting a higher display resolution for the thumbnails, whereas WordPress only has the previous (lower quality) thumbnail copies.

You need to, hence, regenerate the thumbnails.

We recommend you use a plugin to do this and then simply remove it from your WordPress. The Regenerate Thumbnails plugin is a good option.

It dumbs down the entire process to a few clicks.


WordPress is not sending out emails

Are you not getting emails from WordPress? Are your emails landing in the SPAM folders in your audiences’ mailboxes?

The reason – the WordPress hosting server may not be using the PHP mail function properly.

And even if it’s working properly, chances are the email service provider is either rejecting the emails or marking as spam, because the email doesn’t actually originate from the source it claims to be. This is a common problem for anybody using PHP emailing.

Instead, switch to SMTP (Simple Mail Transfer Protocol). You could use a free service such as MailGun (with 10,000 free emails/month, it’s pretty useful for small WordPress websites).


The White Screen of Death

Here’s a nasty one. Just blankness, nothing else.

It’s most commonly caused because of PHP or database errors. That said, you can try out certain tricks to resolve it quickly.

  1. Empty the browser cache and try again.
  2. Try to remember whether a theme or plugin installation is the last major action you took and whether it could have caused the problem. Undo the steps.
  3. Deactivate all plugins.
  4. Debug the wp-config.php file – to do this, open the file, and look for this code:
define( 'WP_DEBUG', false );

Here, change the false to true and this will enable debugging.

This can further help by revealing the error that’s causing the white screen of death, which makes resolution easier.

  1. Ask your web host whether any web server changes may be causing this.

Connection Timed Out

Again, a very common problem.

We’ve already covered two methods of solving this problem.

  1. The php.ini method
  2. The wp-config.php file edit method

Try out both, and invariably the problem will disappear.


The site ahead contains harmful programs

Did you observe Google showing a warning while attempting to load your website?

The reasons could be:

Your website is affected by a trojan or malware. Or it’s showing advertisements to ads that in turn have a bad reputation.

Or, you installed a plugin from an unverified source.

Go to Google Webmasters Tools and see if you have received intimation related to any specific security issues with your website.

If that’s not the case, you need to hire an expert to identify and resolve the issue.

Once convinced you’ve resolved all issues, use this form to request Google to remove the warning.

We can also clean this up for you and secure your site.  See full details at https://wpfixit.com/product/wordpress-malware-removal-service.


WordPress keeps on logging you out

Maybe you’re not using a URL to access the login page that matches the URL declared in your website’s WordPress settings.

Go to Settings > General.

Make sure the WordPress Address and Site Address are same.


Sidebar is below the content instead of the side

The reason – you’re probably using too many div tags.

Use an HTML validator to find out and correct this.

Also, this could be because of a recent change made to your website’s style.css file. Undo the change and see if the problem is solved.


Locked out of WordPress account

We’re assuming you’ve forgotten your password, and for some reason, the recovery email is not being delivered to you (maybe you forgot the mailbox login too!).

Don’t worry, there’s a backdoor entry you can use.

Reset the password inside the database, by using PhpMyAdmin.

Locate the wp_users table, identify your username from the user_login column. Now, click edit

Next, you will see your hashed password.

Delete it and write the new password. Select MD5 from the drop down to the left of the password field, and save.

You will be able to log in via the new password.


WordPress stuck in maintenance mode

What if you get locked out of your website which is under maintenance (for an upgrade) and all users always get the detestable “we will be back soon” message?

This can happen.

The solution – go to the root directory using FTP and look for a file called .maintenance. Simply delete this file. Problem solved.


Are you sure you want to do this?

This persistent message can irritate you out of your wits.

Reasons could be any of these:

  • Trying to upload a damaged data file
  • A website security issue
  • You’re out of PHP memory
  • The theme/plugins that’s leading to this screen isn’t properly coded

To resolve, you’ll need to ascertain which of the above issues is causing the problem.

We’ve already explained how you can expand PHP memory.

A plugin/theme code related issue is best handled by contacting the original developer.

Also, ascertain your data file isn’t corrupted.


Parse error

This results from a coding error in your theme file.

The error message shows the affected file. So, go to your WordPress directory via FTP, download the file with the code error, correct it (or hire a developer to do that) and replace the original with this corrected file.


RSS Feed error

Is your RSS feed returning an error such as this?

This could because of many reasons – a faulty theme file, a dysfunctional plugin, an XML parsing error, etc.

We recommend you use a plugin to resolve the problem and then deactivate it.

Fix My Feed RSS Repair is a very effective plugin to do this.


WordPress Auto Update is Failing

Auto update takes a lot of stress out of your work, as it takes care of all necessary core, theme, and plugin updates you need.

What if it doesn’t work and returns an error message such as this:

How To Fix WordPress Errors

To resolve this, go to your WordPress directory and navigate to the file under Upgrade folder. Set the file permissions to 777 and you’re done.

How To Fix WordPress Errors


Too many redirects

Here’s the error message:

We explained how it’s important to ensure that the URLs in your settings > general are same.

If this is done, and you still face the error, then roll back the latest changes you did after which the error started showing up.


Conclusion

Now this is, by no means, an exhaustive list. We’ll continue to face problems, and we’ll continue solving them. The next time you see a problem, fret not, and use the tips and tricks we’ve shared. At least now you will know How To Fix WordPress Errors when these most commons ones arise.

The post How To Fix WordPress Errors – 25 Most Common appeared first on WP Fix It.

Why we need to think of entities and the future of SEO

Posted by on Sep 24, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Why we need to think of entities and the future of SEO

It’s time to think of the future of SEO. What should we focus on? It’s time to find out more about entities and how they affect our SEO strategies.

Brighton SEO is an exciting conference for everyone who wants to find out more about the latest trends and tactics in all things SEO. No matter how experienced you are, there’s always a session to inspire you to try out new ideas.

Greg Gifford, Vice President of Search at Wikimotive, talked about entities and the future of SEO.

Brighton SEO speaks of the future of SEO

Defining entities for SEO

Google is considering an entity a thing or concept that is singular, unique, well-defined, and distinguishable. In fact, according to Greg Gifford, entities are the most important concept in SEO.

It was back in 2012 that Google moved to entity search. Real-world entities and their relationships started being ranking signals. A year later, Google started focusing on the semantics to make its ranking algorithm smarter. Then we found out in 2015 that ranking search results started being based on entity metrics.

Thus, it’s time to start focusing more on entities and how they affect our SEO.

It’s useful to remember then that every site consists of numerous entities. The internal links are simply the relationships between entities. Our content is simply made up of entities and their relationships.

The future of search

When thinking of the future of search, we need to keep in mind that Google is becoming smarter.

Here are Gifford’s tips that will future-proof your SEO strategy:

  • The ranking will be more about real-world signals. This means that we need to explore the right balance between our current SEO tactics and the brand we are building with old-school marketing.
  • Voice search is all about the intent of conversational queries. Conversational content will become very important.
  • Mobile search will continue to make local SEO vital for everyone. Consuming content through mobile phones is pushing us to think of our mobile strategies and how we can improve them. In fact, local SEO will be the key to our future success. As Greg Gifford reminds us, links from local businesses will matter even if they are unrelated to your business.
  • Google My Business is your direct interface to Google’s entity information about your business. It is further blending into mobile SERPs that will blur the lines even more between online and offline actions. In fact, real-world offline actions related to business entities will help your ranking.
  • Start writing content that answers questions in a unique way. It’s helpful to read your content out loud. Conversational content will help you master the new world of entities and their relationships that affect ranking.
  • Another excellent tip that can be very helpful is to think like you’re targeting rich snippets. It’s not the goal but it’s the right mindset to help you create more relevant content.

Four things we need to stop doing in SEO

According to Greg Gifford, we need to stop doing these things that will affect the future success of our SEO strategy:

1. Stop concentrating on keyword matching

SEO will be less about writing content with the right keywords and more about having the best answer based on the intent of the search.

2. Stop concentrating on single pages

Build your entity and pay attention to how it’s connected to other entities instead.

3. Stop thinking about optimizing individual page elements

The optimization should not focus on one page but rather on the overall entities and how their relationships can improve your success.

4. Stop concentrating on link building as the most important SEO tactic

Links will probably always matter but will be less important as Google gets better at understanding entity signals.

Focus on the entities and their relationships

There are many interesting takeaways from this session in Brighton SEO that can be useful when planning your strategy for 2020.

  • Make sure you’re paying attention to local SEO.
  • If you want to improve your online business, focus on the right balance between offline and online relationship building.
  • Mobile search will be more important than ever so make sure you create content for mobile users.
  • Your content should be conversational. Don’t be afraid to read it out loud before you publish it.
  • There’s no need to spend too much time on individual pages and keywords if you forget to look at the bigger picture.

You can also find the session’s slides here for more details.

What future trends can you spot for SEO in 2020? Share them in the comments.

The post Why we need to think of entities and the future of SEO appeared first on Search Engine Watch.