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"Study Finds:" How Data-Driven Content Marketing Builds Links and Earns Press Mentions

Posted by on Aug 13, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on "Study Finds:" How Data-Driven Content Marketing Builds Links and Earns Press Mentions

Posted by KristinTynski

In 2019, high-authority links remain highly correlated with rankings. However, acquiring great links is becoming increasingly difficult. Those of you who operate publications of any variety, especially those who enjoy high domain authority, have likely received several link building requests or offers like this each day:

“Please link to my suspect site that provides little or no value.”

“Please engage in my shady link exchange.”

“I can acquire 5 links of DA 50+ for $250 each.”

Or maybe slightly more effectively:

“This link is broken, perhaps you would like to link here instead.”

“You link to X resource, but my Y resource is actually better.”

This glut of SEOs who build links through these techniques above have been consistently eroding the efficacy of this style of little-to-no-value ad outreach link building. In the past, perhaps it was possible to convert 2% of outreach emails of this style to real links. Now, that number is more like 0.2 percent.

Link building outreach has become glorified email spam—increasingly ignored and decreasingly effective. And yet, high-authority links remain one of the single most important ranking factors.

So where do we go from here?

Let’s start with a few axioms.

The conclusion: Leveraging data journalism to tell newsworthy stories re-enables effective promotion of content via outreach/pitching. Doing so successfully results in the acquisition of high domain authority links that enjoy the potential for viral syndication. Overall data journalism and outreach represents one of the only remaining scaleable high-authority link building strategies.

How can I leverage data journalism techniques to earn coverage?

To answer this question, I conducted my own data journalism project about the state of data journalism-driven link building! (Meta, I know.)

The primary goal was to understand how major publications (the places worth pitching content) talk about data journalism findings from external sources. By understanding how data journalism is covered, we lay the groundwork for understanding what types of data journalism, themes, and strategies for outreach can be most effective for link building.

We pulled 8,400 articles containing the text “study finds.” This keyword was used as a heuristic for finding data-driven news stories created by outside sources (not done internally by the news publication themselves). We then supplemented these articles with additional data, including links built, social shares, and Google’s Machine Learning topic categorization.

The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us four ways to show the results within each category: The main topic area (containing all relevant subcategories), just the first subcategory, just the second subcategory, and just the third subcategory.

Which outlets most frequently cover data-driven stories from external pitches?

Let’s begin by taking a look at which top-tier news outlets cover “study finds” (AKA, any project pitched by an outside source that ran a survey or study that had “findings”).

For companies conducting studies, they hope to win press coverage for, these top sites are prime targets, with editorial guidelines that clearly see outside pitches of study findings as attractive.

It’s not surprising to see science-based sites ranking at the top, as they’re inherently more likely to talk about studies than other publications. But sites like The Independent, Daily Mail, The Guardian, CNN, Washington Post, and NBC News all ranked highly as well, providing great insight into which established, trusted news sources are willing to publish external research.

Which topic areas do these publishers write about most?

Diving a little deeper, we can explore which topics are covered in these publications that are associated with these external studies, providing us insight into which verticals might be the best targets for this strategy.

There are many unique insights to be gleaned from the following charts depending on your niche/topical focus. This data can easily be used as a pitching guide, showing you which publishers are the most likely to pick up and cover your pitches for the findings of your study or survey.

Here is a view of the overall category and subcategory distribution for the top publishers.

As you can see, it’s…a lot. To get more actionable breakdowns, we can look at different views of the topical categories. The categories derived by Google’s classifier can have multiple tiers based on the keywords in the article titles, giving us several ways to show the results within each category.

You can explore the Tableau sheets to get into the nitty-gritty, but even with these views, a few more specialized publications, like InsideHigherEd.com and blogs.edweek.org, emerge.

Which topic areas drive the most links?

Press mentions are great, but syndication is where data journalism and content-based outreach strategy really shines. I also wanted to understand which topic areas drive link acquisition. As it turns out, some topics are significantly better at driving links than others.

Note that the color of the bar charts is associated with volume of sharing by topic—the darker the bar on the chart, the higher it was shared. With this additional sharing data, it’s plain to see that while links and social shares are highly correlated, there are some categories that are top link builders but do not perform as well on social and vice versa.

This next set of data visualizations again explore these topic areas in detail. In each batch, we see the median number of links built as an overall category aggregate and then by each category.

Which domains generate the most links when they pick up a data-driven story?

Another interesting question is which domains overall result in the largest number of links generated for “study finds” stories. Below is that ranking, colored by the median number of total shares for that domain.

Notice that while The Independent ranked supreme in the earlier graph about including the most “study finds” pieces, they don’t appear at all on this graph. Sites like The Guardian, CNN, The Washington Post, and NBC News, however, score highly on both, meaning they’re probably more likely to publish your research (relatively speaking, since all high-authority sites are tough to get coverage on), and if you’re successful, you’re probably more likely to get more syndicated links as a result.

Which topic areas are the most evergreen?

Now, let’s look at each category by BuzzSumo’s “evergreen score” to see what kind of content will get you the most bang for your buck.

The evergreen score was developed by BuzzSumo to measure the number of backlinks and social shares an article receives more than a month after it’s published.

When you’re considering doing a study and you want it to have lasting power, brainstorm whether any of these topics tie to your product or service offering, because it appears their impact lingers for longer than a month:

What this all means

Link building through data-driven content marketing and PR is a predictable and scalable way to massively impact domain authority, page authority, and organic visibility.

Always consider:

1. Which publishers make sense to pitch to?

  • Do they often cover external studies?
  • Do they cover topics that I write about?
  • Does their coverage lead to a high volume of syndicated links?

2. Does my topic have lasting power?

To really make the most of your content and outreach strategy, you’ll need to incorporate these tips and more into your content development and pitching.

In previous articles on Moz I’ve covered:

These ideas and methodologies are at the heart of the work we do at Fractl and have been instrumental in helping us develop best practices for ideation, content creation, and successful outreach to press. Pulling on each of these levers (and many others), testing, and accumulating data that can then be used to refine processes is what begins to make a real impact on success rates and allows you to break through the noise.

If you want to discuss the major takeaways for your industry, feel free to email me at [email protected].

Did anything surprise you in the data? Share your thoughts below!

Sign up for The Moz Top 10, a semimonthly mailer updating you on the top ten hottest pieces of SEO news, tips, and rad links uncovered by the Moz team. Think of it as your exclusive digest of stuff you don’t have time to hunt down but want to read!

17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on 17 top plugins and extensions for SEO

Here are a list of plugins and extensions we found are used by SEO experts — and they’re all free.

1. SEO TextOptimizer

This plugin’s perfect for those who deal with content as it lets you measure the quality of texts you create for your website based on how search engines would evaluate it.

The tool shows you topics you should develop as well as those you’d better eliminate for search robots to understand the text is relevant to the specific queries. The plugin also suggests you a list of words you could add to improve your content. The best thing is that you don’t need great SEO expertise to use it.

  1. SEOquake

With this plugin, you can easily analyze your key SEO metrics. Moreover, the tool provides SEO audit, backlinks analysis, and other useful functions.

One of the factors why SEO professionals choose this tool is that you can get a comprehensive analysis of a SERP and even export its results. There’s a bar appearing below each search result which provides you with key metrics such as traffic, Alexa rank, social media shares, etc.

  1. BuiltWith

This extension lets you find what a website you are visiting at the moment is built with. It’s created to help developers, designers, and researchers to discover the technologies other pages are implementing and choose those they want to use for their sites. It tracks:

Widgets
Frameworks
Advertising
Publishing
Hosting
Analytics
Content Delivery Network
Document Standards

Experts also say it’s great you can easily get global trends on using specific technologies.

  1. Serpstat Plugin

It’s an extension which helps you conduct SEO analysis of a page. Serpstat Plugin provides the most critical information on keywords, traffic, and page visibility. You can also get the report on the top 10 keywords for which your page ranks at the top of search results.

Serpstat SEO & Website Analysis Plugin has now three tabs: Page Analysis, On-page SEO parameters, and Domain Analysis. Here are the most crucial parameters you’ll get with the plugin:

Domain’s traffic.
Domain’s visibility trend for a year.
The number of results on Google, Bing, and Baidu.
The number of images on Google Image Search.
Alexa Rank.
Page speed.
Site start date.
Meta tags.
The number of shares on social media networks (Facebook and Pinterest).

The plugin is free, but to use it, you need to create your Serpstat account, if you don’t have one yet.

  1. WordPress SEO by Yoast

This incredibly popular plugin by Yoast helps experts with on-site SEO needs. The tool will let you:

Add meta keywords, title, and description to your posts.
Provide clear site navigation for crawlers and users.
Analyze your on-page SEO. You can check your content, descriptions, and keywords.
See what your snippets will look like.
Create SEO-friendly Facebook Open Graph.

This WordPress plugin has a very quick and easy-to-use interface.

  1. WAVE Evaluation Tool

This tool evaluates web content accessibility within Chrome and Firefox browsers. WAVE provides 100% secure and private accessibility reporting. The plugin checks password-protected, intranet, sensitive or dynamically generated web pages.

  1. Spark Content Optimizer

Spark Content Optimizer is a tool designed to help you develop your site’s search experience. The plugin provides you with easy access to such a crucial data as:

Monthly traffic.
The performance of your site for all the keywords.
The technical audit which analyzes more than 40 hard-to-find issues.
Information on backlink authority.

  1. Link Redirect Trace

It’s a great tool for tracking redirect path. The tool analyzes HTTP Headers, rel-canonicals, robots.txt, link power, etc. You can use Link Redirect Trace extension to analyze your competitors, your on-page and off-page SEO, and other critical factors.

Here are the main tasks this plugin can help you cope with:

Identify and fix problems in your on-page/off-page SEO.
Analyze your competitors’ links.
See the redirect chain and fix problems to make your load time faster.
After your site was redesigned or migrated, you can check your links.
Check links from affiliate and advertising networks.

  1. Ap – Data Layer Inspector+

This plugin is a perfect toolkit for digital analysts. This add-on lets you monitor, debug, get detailed data not having to switch between the page, the code, and the developer console.

With this tool, you can inspect the dataLayer in real time, insert code into the page, analyze GA hits, ignore hits to individual properties, etc.

  1. User-Agent Switcher

The tool will help you switch quickly between user-agent strings. If you want to test how your page responds to different browsers, this plugin will let you do it. Due to User-Agent Switcher, you can browse with predefined user-agents or add your own ones.

  1. Open SEO Stats

This extension provides quick access to the most important SEO stats. The tool will show you:

Traffic stats. Graphs from Alexa Rank, Quantcast Rank, Compete Rank.
Information on your backlinks.
Cached pages.
Indexed pages. You’ll see the number of pages indexed in Google, Bing, Yahoo, Baidu, Yandex, etc.
Geolocation information, such as country, city, and IP address.
The shares on social websites.
Meta information, such as title, meta keywords, description, canonical tags, internal links, external links, and more.

  1. Velvet Blues

This plugin will be handy for those who move their WordPress website to another domain and need to update internal links and references to pages. The plugin helps you fix the problem and change old links on your website. Experts say it’s great that you can find and replace any URL in your WordPress database without having to use phpMyAdmin directly.

With Velvet Blues Plugin, you can:

Update links which are embedded in excerpts, content, or custom fields.
Choose whether you want to update links for attachments or not.
View the number of items updated.

Install it only when you need to fix something and then uninstall it. The plugin treats everything it finds.

  1. WP Rocket

Experts consider this plugin to be one of the best caching tools. Using WP Rocket to cache pages, your page load time decreases, and indexing improves. Moreover, the tool lets users reduce the weight of HTML, CSS, and JavaScript files.

With WP Rocket, you can optimize your images, so that they’ll get loaded only when visitors scroll down the page. Such an action contributes to improving page speed.

  1. All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets

This tool will be useful for those who want to get rich snippets for their web pages. The plugin is created to help you make your page stand out in Google, Bing, and Yahoo search results.

All In One Schema.org Rich Snippets supports most content types released by Schema.org. Here are eight different content types for which you can add schema:

Review
Event
People
Product
Recipe
Software Application
Video
Articles

  1. Cloudflare’s plugin for WordPress

This free plugin helps to accelerate page loading time, improve your SEO, and protect against DDoS attacks.

Cloudflare plugin adds value for SMEs/Medium sized businesses, making it very easy to setup CDNs, DDoS Protection, and allow them to utilize edge SEO technologies like service workers.

  1. WhatRuns

This extension lets you find out what runs any website. You, ll get all the technologies used on websites you visit:

CMS
WordPress plugins
Themes
Analytics tools
Frameworks

Moreover, you can even get notified when websites start using new tools and services if you follow them.

  1. Grammarly

There are both free and paid access available for this plugin. The tool underlines your grammar, spelling, or punctuation errors for you to correct them. It also suggests you synonyms for overused words and gives you tips on how you can improve your texts. To get the most out of this plugin, you’d better use a paid version, as it’ll get you access to the most critical issues.

Google’s Advice for Surviving Algorithm Changes

Posted by on Aug 12, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google’s Advice for Surviving Algorithm Changes

google

In case you missed it, Google just published advice for SEOs on how to continually do well throughout their algorithm changes.

Now, what most people don’t know is Google doesn’t just push out a handful of algorithm changes per year.

They publish substantially more.

Just to give you an idea of how often Google changes, they had 3,200 algorithm changes in just 1 year.

You heard me right, 3,200 changes.

That’s a lot!

So instead of focusing on one algorithm update that you may read about, you need to focus on making your site compatible with Google’s core goal.

First I’ll go over the advice they are telling us all to follow… and then I’ll break down what it really means.

Google’s advice to SEOs

Just like most of their announcements, Google tends to be vague. But of course, they did mention that you should focus on content.

What’s interesting, though, is they did give a list of questions that you should ask yourself with your existing and new content.

But as I mentioned they are vague… so I decided to do something a bit unique. Next to each question that Google provides (in the color black), you’ll find my thoughts on what I think Google is trying to tell you (in the color orange).

Here goes:

Content and quality questions

  • Does the content provide original information, reporting, research, or analysis? – Although Google doesn’t penalize for duplicate content, they are looking for new, fresh content. With over a billion blogs on the Internet, there is a lot of regurgitated content out there these days.
  • Does the content provide a substantial, complete, or comprehensive description of the topic? – When a user performs a search, Google wants to give them what they are looking for with the least amount of work. They don’t want to have the user go to multiple sites to get their answer. Pages that are thorough and answer all parts of the user’s search query are more likely to rank. In other words, if you write thin content, it probably isn’t satisfactory for the searcher, which means you may not rank as high as you want.
  • Does the content provide insightful analysis or interesting information that is beyond obvious? – Does your content have more to offer than what your competition is producing? Go above and beyond by providing additional analysis or drawing your own conclusions using additional data that may be helpful to the reader.
  • If the content draws on other sources, does it avoid simply copying or rewriting those sources and instead provide substantial additional value and originality? – Don’t just copy and paste someone else’s content then link to them and provide a few lines of commentary. If you are going to reference someone else’s content, make sure you draw your own conclusions and the majority of the text on that page is unique and useful.
  • Does the headline and/or page title provide a descriptive, helpful summary of the content? – 8 out of 10 people read a headline and only 2 out of 10 people click through to read the rest. Your headlines not only need to be appealing, but they need to summarize the content. Don’t just focus on keywords or clickbait, focus on user experience with your headlines.
  • Does the headline and/or page title avoid being exaggerating or shocking in nature? – Google can tell if you are using clickbait as that typically causes a high bounce rate. If they see that people are going back to the SERP listing, it means that your content wasn’t up to par and you just used clickbait to trick searchers.
  • Is this the sort of page you’d want to bookmark, share with a friend, or recommend? – As Eric Schmidt, the ex-CEO of Google, once said, brands are the solution. Google prefers ranking brands, so don’t prioritize SEO. Focus first on your user. Make them love your content, your product, and your service.
  • Would you expect to see this content in or referenced by a printed magazine, encyclopedia, or book? – If you think your content is so great you are willing to print it out and hang it up on your wall, you have done a great job. If you are just creating content for the sake of it, people will be able to tell.

Expertise questions

  • Does the content present information in a way that makes you want to trust it, such as clear sourcing, evidence of the expertise involved, background about the author or the site that publishes it, such as through links to an author page or a site’s About page? – The best way to position yourself as an expert is to use data and cite your sources. In addition, if you are going to be an expert, make sure you have your name on the page and even link to your bio.
  • If you researched the site producing the content, would you come away with an impression that it is well-trusted or widely-recognized as an authority on its topic? – Compared to your competition how are you seen? If you are more respected and more popular, it shows that you are potentially an expert. You should work on your brand queries as it will help get you more visibility.
  • Is this content written by an expert or enthusiast who demonstrably knows the topic well? – Are you faking it or are you clearly an expert on this topic? Sure, I can research the law and write content about the law, but I am not a lawyer and it would be obvious. Write about what you know, and if you don’t know it, go learn it really well first before writing about it.
  • Is the content free from easily-verified factual errors? – Creating fake news will hurt you. Don’t contribute false information to the web. If you write a few pieces with false information and Google catches on, it could potentially damage your whole site.
  • Would you feel comfortable trusting this content for issues relating to your money or your life? – If someone does a search on Google and lands on your site, what will happen if they read your content? If they continue on to another site and continually researches, it means that they don’t trust you enough yet. Not only is it important for you to create amazing content, but you need to show the reader why you are a credible source and why they should pay attention to you instead of someone else in the space.

Presentation and production questions

  • Is the content free from spelling or stylistic issues? – Check your content for grammar and spelling errors. Once you do that, make sure your content is easy to read. For example, having a neon font color on a white background is hard to read.
  • Was the content produced well, or does it appear sloppy or hastily produced? – Spend time making sure the content you put out on the web is polished. From custom graphics and videos to images and podcasts, make sure the overall experience is great. Writing good content isn’t enough as everyone is doing that these days.
  • Is the content mass-produced by or outsourced to a large number of creators, or spread across a large network of sites, so that individual pages or sites don’t get as much attention or care? – Google wants individual pages to fully answer searchers questions. If someone is looking for an answer and you link out to a lot of other sites to explain your answer, then you aren’t creating the best experience. Focus on creating an amazing experience not only from a site level but from an individual page level too.
  • Does the content have an excessive amount of ads that distract from or interfere with the main content? – Your website needs to load fast. Ads slow down a site and can ruin the user experience. Monetizing shouldn’t be the core focus of your site, instead, it should be to educate and help visitors.
  • Does content display well for mobile devices when viewed on them? – Roughly 60% of searches on Google happen on mobile devices. Your content needs to be mobile and tablet friendly.

Comparative questions

  • Does the content provide substantial value when compared to other pages in search results? – If you are trying to rank for a keyword, look at the top 10 pages that currently take up page 1 and make sure your content is better and more thorough than what is already ranking. If you don’t create something that is superior in quality, there is no reason for Google to place your site above the competition.
  • Does the content seem to be serving the genuine interests of visitors to the site or does it seem to exist solely by someone attempting to guess what might rank well in search engines? – Don’t write content for search engines. Write for humans first as Google’s goal is to satisfy humans. Even in the short run if this means you won’t rank as high, that’s fine. Eventually, Google will figure it out and your content will rank higher over time as long as you are focusing on the end-user.

Conclusion

There were a few other things Google mentioned, such as their quality guidelines, but there was one really important thing that they mentioned.

It’s also important to understand that search engines like Google do not understand content the way human beings do. Instead, we look for signals we can gather about content and understand how those correlate with how humans assess relevance.

Google’s wants to please you, not the version of you that is a marketer or an entrepreneur, but the version of you that uses Google on a daily basis.

When you perform a Google search, are you happy with the results?

If you aren’t, you aren’t going to tell Google with your words as there isn’t an easy way to do that. That’s why they look at signals, such as click-through-rates or how many people hit the back button so they can go back to Google and click on the next listing.

Instead of focusing on SEO, the real trick to winning is to focus on the user.

Go above and beyond and do what is best for them even if you feel it will hurt your rankings in the short run. Because in the long run, Google will figure it out and you should rank better if you are genuinely putting the user first and doing a better job than your competition.

So, what do you think of Google’s advice to SEOs?

The post Google’s Advice for Surviving Algorithm Changes appeared first on Neil Patel.

Here’s How Learning SEO Changed My Life

Posted by on Aug 9, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Here’s How Learning SEO Changed My Life

Hey,

Nathan Gotch here.

I founded Gotch SEO back in 2013 within one mission: to help as many businesses as I can achieve SEO success.

I then pursued that goal by packing my stuff up and driving from California to St. Louis.

Drive

I had no clients, no prospects, and no money (except for a credit card with $500 limit).

I was also $40,000 in debt because of student and car loans.

I’ll be honest with you:

I was scared and I had every possible limiting belief enter my mind during that 27 hour drive…

“What if I fail?”… “What will people think about me?”

I could have crumbled from a case of “what ifs”, but I pushed through it.

As I result… I landed my first several SEO clients within 30 days of moving to St. Louis. I even took a picture of the first “big” check I ever received:

Check

I then grew Gotch SEO to six figures (profit) in less than 6 months and my life was never the same:

IMG_1834-1

(1st full year of running Gotch SEO)

I also eradicated my debt and exploded my net worth:

Net Worth

Bought my wife her dream engagement ring:

Ring

And a new mom ride:

Car

Also went on my first ever official vacation to St. Thomas:

Ritz Carlton St Thomas

And then to Mexico:

El Dorado Maroma Mexico

We even moved into my dream house (with my own office and dream basement).

House

I’m not telling you this stuff to brag.

In fact:

I’m a very introverted and private person (ask my wife). I literally had knots in my stomach deciding whether or not to show you the stuff above.

Here’s the truth:

I wanted to show you these things because I’m no different than you are. I was raised by a single mother in a low-income household. We actually lived in a trailer park at one point, here’s an aerial look:

trailer

I also got horrible grades in school…

GPA

…and nearly got kicked out of college for my poor writing skills.

I sometimes go through funks and question everything I’m doing.

And I still, to this day, make TONS of mistakes in my business.

Why the hell am I telling you this?

Because if I can learn SEO, get real results, and grow hundreds of companies, then there’s nothing stopping you from doing the same.

There’s one other thing I want to tell you:

I’m not motivated by material stuff.

What motivates me is FREEDOM.

Learning SEO helped me reach that goal.

I went from stressing out about paying bills…

…to never even thinking about them.

I went from feeling trapped at a job I hated…

…to jumping out of bed to work on a business that I love.

I went from never being able to do anything I wanted…

…to always being able to do what I want, when I want.

I went from a life of scarcity and fear…

…to a life of abundance and unlimited opportunity.

The truth is that learning how to drive consistent SEO results made it all possible.

If you’de like to learn how to drive consistent SEO results, then check out my SEO training course, Gotch SEO Academy.

Over 700 other entrepreneurs have already joined and I hope you do the same.

P.S. We only open enrollment to the public 2-3 times per year. However, if you’re dying to get real SEO results, then you can apply at any time.

How to safely change WP themes

Posted by on Aug 9, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to safely change WP themes

WordPress is one of the most used content management systems out there. The one thing that makes WordPress so accessible is its ecosystem, including the themes and plugins available. As a user, you’ll find hundreds of free and paid themes. Ease of use also makes WordPress an excellent choice for building a blog or business website.

In this article, we will focus on the steps that are required to change the WordPress theme of your website safely. If you have used WordPress before, you might know how easy and intuitive it is to change a theme, but new users may not find it so straightforward – and one wrong change can lead to site malfunction. This article will also provide some useful information for more seasoned users.

Step 1: Selecting a fresh WordPress theme

Even though this step is obvious, it is important to tick off. Getting a new theme can be a challenging task for those who don’t know how and where to get it. If you are looking for a free alternative, a good starting point is to check the free WordPress themes collection via the WordPress official repository. For paid options, Themeforest is one of the best places to look, with a vast collection of themes.

Before you choose a theme, always ensure that the new themes have all the functionality you need and that it is compatible with your current setup. Changing to a theme that breaks the site’s functionality can lead to unwanted problems.

Step 2: Backing up your website

The next step is to backup your website. This step should never be ignored – especially if you have a website with a lot of visitors. Smaller sites can skip the step, but it is highly recommend not to.

If you want to use plugins, we recommend BackWPUp, which is completely free but also very effective.

Step 3: Clone your website

The next step is to clone your website for testing purposes. It is also known as a staging site where you test out changes before pushing them to the live server.

If you are using WPEngine or GoDaddy, you get a one-click staging option. Each hosting platform has its own way to activate staging. For example, if you are using WPEngine, you can login in the dashboard and find the “WP Engine” option on the sidebar. There you will see the Staging option. Click on the option, “Copy site from LIVE to STAGING”, and you’re good to go.

If you are using other hosting platforms, do check the hosting documentation on how to create a staging website. In case of confusion, always take the offer of support before making any changes.

Step 4: Installing and testing the new theme on the clone website

Now, it’s time to install the theme on your clone website. However, before you do so, ensure that logging is turned on. Here are some of the things you need to do to ensure that the new theme works as intended.

WP_DEBUG

WP_DEBUG can help you list the issues with your theme. To enable it, you need to add the following line of code in the wp-config.php file:

define(‘WP_DEBUG’, true);

Plugins

Check whether all your previously installed plugins are working as intended. You may also want to install new plugins that you intend to use in future. This will ensure that the new theme is a perfect fit for your website.

Check on different browsers

Websites act differently on different browsers, so it’s always a good idea to test your staging website on popular browsers such as Chrome, FireFox, Safari and Internet Explorer.

Responsive/Mobile Check

Check whether the new theme is rendering correctly in mobile devices. (Go to “Customize” and you’ll see display options for a tablet and cell phone)

The checklist is not exhaustive, but you get the idea. In short, you need to make sure that the new theme works without breaking anything. Also, be sure to take your time while testing – there’s no need to be in a hurry and ruin everything. Take your time, and only move the staging website to the live site if you are 100% satisfied with the change.

Step 5: Installing the new theme on your live website

There are two ways you can install the new theme.You can move the staging website to the live site, but the simplest way is to install the new theme on your live website directly. When you do so, don’t forget to enable maintenance mode – this will let you make the changes without affecting user experience. Visitors, on the other hand, will also know ahead of time about the change.

Wrapping up

Changing a WordPress theme can be a trivial task, but it requires careful steps if you have a big website and don’t want to take risks. For a smaller site, the steps outlined in this article are also recommend as they will protect you from any malfunction later on. These five steps cover everything that you need to do to ensure that your new theme installation is as smooth as possible.

WordPress SEO – Pages vs Posts

Posted by on Aug 9, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress SEO – Pages vs Posts

Both pages and posts are important for SEO, but is one more important than the other?

It turns out that, according to the Yoast blog, the category archives obtain higher rankings in search engines than separate pages or posts. The post and the page are equally perceived. But when the author publishes several articles on certain subject, its category will most probably take the top rankings in search engines.

So proper organization of your site’s content is extremely important. The categories and category pages should be properly arranged so that Google could share the information contained on your site with Internet users.

It becomes more and more challenging to outwit Google nowadays. The search ranking algorithms became more intelligent. So Google doesn’t buy into SEO optimization tricks. Organic search rankings is a priority nowadays so your task it to provide information to it. Proper organization of pages and posts makes your site clear for Google. It should know what it’s all about.

Category pages can be compared with landing pages.

It may seem strange that Google prefers blog categories pages to separate pages and posts.

However, it’s really so. And there are reasons for it.

Google gives preference to user intent and find-ability. The category pages show the right direction therefore they are more important.

The administrator of the site should care about the structure of the site to achieve better usability and findability. This is a common problem for many resources. The visitor comes to the site and doesn’t know how to find the product because the structure of the website isn’t clear.

This factor plays a very important role contributing to better SEO and search rankings.

It’s also important to remember about things enhancing search results such as their titles and descriptions.

How to use the readability analysis

Posted by on Aug 8, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to use the readability analysis

Everybody knows the colored bullets in Yoast SEO. Two parts of the plugin use this traffic light system: the content analysis and the readability analysis. The first checks whether your post is SEO-proof, while the latter checks if it is readable for a general audience. Of course, these two are interconnected, as readable content is incredibly important if you want your site to do well in the search results. Here, I’ll show you how to use the readability analysis.

What does the readability analysis in Yoast SEO do?

The readability analysis uses an algorithm to determine how readable your post is. We’ve carefully crafted this algorithm to make it as accurate as possible without being too strict. It features several checks that’ll give you advice when you write your post. In other words, by following the advice, you can make your text easier to read and understand.

It has been said that Yoast SEO suggests to dumb down your writing. Of course, that’s not the case. We merely want to help people write easy to understand content. I always come back to this quote by content designer Sarah Richards about making your content as readable for humans as possible:

“You’re not dumbing down, you’re opening up.”

By simplifying content, you’re automatically growing your audience, as more people grasp the message of your content. Also, you’re not writing your content just for people anymore. Virtual assistants like Alexa and Siri have to be able to work with it as well. And even Google increasingly uses well-written pieces of content for rich results like featured snippets.

That being said, while the advice in the readability section is not the be-all and end-all advice, it does give you important clues to the perceived difficulty of your text. It is crucial to write with readability in mind, as we think readability ranks!

Current readability checks

At the moment, Yoast SEO uses the following checks:

  • Transition words: Do you use transition words like ‘most importantly’, ‘because’, ‘therefore’, or ‘besides that’ to tie your text together? Using these words improves the flow of your article as they provide hints to the reader about what is coming next.
  • Sentence beginnings: Do any of your consecutive sentences start with the same word? This might feel repetitive to your reader, and that can be annoying. Always keep your sentences varied, so your article is readable and free of obstacles. Unless you want to prove something or use it as a writing style, of course.
  • Flesch reading ease: This world-famous test analyzes texts and grades them on a scale from 1-100. The lower the score, the more difficult to read the text is. Texts with a very high Flesch reading ease score (about 100) are very easy to read. They have short sentences and no words of more than two syllables. Usually, a reading ease score of 60-70 is believed to be acceptable/normal for web copy.
  • Paragraph length: Some people tend to use extremely long paragraphs. Doing so makes your text look daunting as it becomes just one big blob of text. Break it up, use shorter paragraphs and don’t forget to give your core sentences some thought.
  • Subheading distribution: Similarly to long paragraphs, texts without subheadings are difficult to scan, which makes them rather daunting. So, we check if you use enough subheadings to guide your readers through the text and help them find what they’re looking for.
  • Sentence length: Sentence length is one of the core aspects that can make a text hard to read. If most of your sentences are too long – over 20 words – people lose track of your point. Readers often have to jump back a few words to find out what you mean. This very tiring and inefficient. Try to keep the number of words in a sentence in check. Shorten your sentences. Aim for easy understanding, not a complex literary masterpiece.
  • Passive voice: Using a lot of passive voice in your text makes it appear distant, and your message will be less clear. Your sentences become wordy and difficult because the sentence structure is harder to understand. Whenever you use the passive voice, always consider whether a better, active alternative is available.

Supported languages

The readability analysis is available in English and several languages, such as German, French, Spanish, and Russian. Check out the features per language for an overview. We’re continually working on adding new languages.

How to use the readability analysis in Yoast SEO

It’s very easy to use the readability analysis in Yoast SEO to improve your content. Personally, I just start writing the article I want to write. I keep the audience I’m writing for in the back of my head and try to use the words they would use. Although the readability score is calculated in real time, I won’t look at the score during the writing process. Only after (the draft of) my article is finished, I’ll check the readability score and see if I have to fix anything. If I get an orange or red bullet, I can click on the eye icon to jump to the spot where improvements can be made. Easy peasy!

Everyone has their own writing and editing process, and my way isn’t necessarily how you should use it. For instance, you might be targeting a Flesch level of 80. If so, you have to find out what works gradually. When using the readability tool for a while, you’ll notice that you’ll automatically get a feel for the text level you are aiming for. Practice makes perfect!

The readability checks in Yoast sEO

Should all bullets be green?

This is a question we often get and no, not every bullet has to be green. What you should aim for, though, is a green, happy bullet overall – the one in the tab that reads “Readability”. Having an orange bullet for one of the checks, like in the screenshot above, is ok. It’s not that your article won’t be able to rank if it doesn’t pass all of the tests. This is merely an indication, not a necessity.

We want everyone to be able to read and understand content, but we also know that there are industries where the language used is totally different from what ordinary people would use. That’s perfectly fine. Find out what works in your case. Need help? Please read our ultimate guide to SEO copywriting.

Try it out!

The readability and content analyses of Yoast SEO help you to write excellent, SEO-proof articles that are easy to grasp for anyone. In doing so, you make sure that every piece of content you write is ready to start ranking in search engines, while staying enjoyable for readers. Don’t have Yoast SEO yet, or want to take advantage of the awesome additional features our Premium plugin offers? What are you waiting for?

Read more: How to use the content & SEO analysis of Yoast SEO »

The post How to use the readability analysis appeared first on Yoast.

5 Ways to Use Google Search Console (Like a Pro)

Posted by on Aug 6, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 5 Ways to Use Google Search Console (Like a Pro)

Google Search Console is a fundamental tool for every successful SEOs toolkit.

The best part?

It’s free!

In this guide, I’ll show you how to use Google Search Console to improve your SEO performance, so you can get more traffic, leads, and customers from organic search.

Let’s jump in.

Before I show some cool tactics, I need to cover the basics.

How to Set Up Google Search Console

1. Go here and enter your email address.

Google Search Console Homepage

2. Click the dropdown on the upper lefthand side.

Step 1

3. Click “Add Property”

Step 2

4. Select the “Domain” option and enter your root domain (example: gotchseo.com). Then click “Continue”.

Step 3

5. Copy the txt record and sign in to your registrar (where you purchased your domain).

Step 4

6. If you’re using GoDaddy, click on “My Products”, look under the “Domains” section to find your domain, and then click on “DNS”.

Step 5

7. Click on “Add” under “Records”.

Step 6

8. Select “TXT”. Enter “@” under “Host”, enter the TXT record you copied from Google Search Console under “TXT Value”, and click “Save”.

Step 7

9. Go back to Google Search Console and click “Verify”. You may end up seeing the “Ownership verification failed” message like this:

Ownership Verification Failed Google Search Console

10. Google recommends waiting a day and then trying to verify again. In most cases, you’ll see the “Ownership auto verified” message like this:

Ownership Auto Verified Google Search Console

The last step is to integrate Google Search Console data with your site’s Google Analytics data.

How to Integrate Google Search Console Data with Google Analytics

1. Go to Google Analytics and click on the target website. Then click on “Acquisition”, “Search Console”, and then “Landing Pages”.

Step 1

You’ll see this screen (click “Set up Search Console data sharing”):

Step 2

If you don’t see your domain on the list, then click on “Add a site to Search Console”.

If you dont see site

As of right now, this is a glitch.

For some reason, when you add a site on the new Google Search Console, it doesn’t add to the old version. Google Analytics is integrated with the old version, so it’s causing some issues.

That said, add the target site to the old version and then go back and refresh the page. It should be showing now.

Select it, make sure it matches the “Web Property” at the top, and click save.

Select site

Click “OK” when you see the “Add association” pop up.

Add Association

Go back to Google Analytics and refresh the page. It should now be integrated.

Integrated

Keep in mind that it will take a few days to start showing data inside Google Analytics.

Now that you’re all set up, let’s jump into how to use this amazing free tool.

5 Ways to Use Google Search Console to Increase Your Traffic

  1. Optimize Crawling and Indexing
  2. Identify Low Hanging Fruits
  3. Increase Organic Search CTR
  4. Perform CRO
  5. Track Branded Search Performance

Optimize Crawling and Indexing

The first way to use Google Search Console is to use the URL Inspection tool.

The URL Inspection tool is useful because you can check the indexation and mobile-friendliness of any URL on your website. Copy any URL and enter into the search bar:

URL inspection tool

You’ll end up on this page and the goal is to have green checkmarks for every option.

URL is on Google

Here’s how it might look if Google hasn’t crawled and indexed a page on your site:

URL is not on Google

What do you do in this scenario?

First, do not “Request Indexing”.

If your page isn’t getting crawled and indexed there’s a reason (or many reasons). You need to audit your site to identify what’s preventing Google from either crawling or indexing your pages.

Let’s start with crawling because Google can’t index a page unless it can crawl it.

There a few possible reasons why Google can’t crawl a page:

  • Your robot.txt file is blocking Google’s crawlers.
  • Your page is buried within your site’s architecture that Google’s crawlers can’t it (or have given up).
  • Your website’s loading speed is too slow and Google’s crawlers give up.

If Google is crawling your site, but your pages aren’t indexed, then it might be because:

  • You’re using the “noindex” tag
  • Your site architecture is poorly structured
  • Your page is slow
  • Your page is unresponsive
  • Your website rarely publishes new content

And many other reasons outside the scope of this guide. The good news is that you can actually use Google Search Console to find some of these issues.

Let’s move onto the “Index” section. Click on “Coverage” and this section will show you every technical issue that Google has found.

Coverage section

If you’re having indexation issues, then see if you have an obvious “Errors” such as “Submitted URL marked ‘noindex’”.

Submitted URL marked noindex

Click through and make sure you actually want these pages to be noindexed.

Affected Pages

Otherwise, remove the noindex tag and Google will crawl and then index it.

If you don’t find the suspect URL in this section, go back to the “Coverage” overview section. Then click on “Excluded”. Scroll down and click on “Excluded by “noindex” tag.

excluded by noindex tag

For example, I want my “Story” page to be indexed in Google, but it’s using the “noindex” tag by accident.

Excluded

If you click on the URL, Google Search Console will give you two options:

  1. Inspect URL
  2. Test Robot.txt Blocking

Two crawl options

Start with “Test Robot.txt Blocking” and see your robot.txt is blocking Google’s crawlers (it will take you to the old version of Google Search Console).

robots txt tester

If it passes the test, move onto the “Inspect URL” option. Make sure you have removed the “noindex” tag from the target page and then click “Request Indexing”.

Request Indexing

You should see the “Indexing requested” confirmation popup.

Indexing Requested

Now just wait a few days (maybe even a week) to see if the page is indexed.

The “Coverage” section is robust and there are many technical issues you can tackle. I recommend digging through the “Excluded” section and fixing each issue one-by-one.

Excluded Section

One other issue you’ll want to look for isn’t as obvious. It’s called index bloat.

This is a very common problem when I’m conducting SEO audits. In short, “index bloat” is when you have pages indexed in Google that shouldn’t be.

This can cause crawl issues, duplicate, and thin content issues, and it can even dilute your site’s authority. I recommend exporting the URLs from the “Valid” and “Submitted and indexed” section.

Valid

The best way to decide if pages should be indexed is by using a combination of data and manual analysis.

Check out the video below on how to perform a content audit. I use Screaming Frog SEO Spider in the demonstration, but the general thought process and nuance will apply no matter what tool you’re using.

Subscribe on YouTube for more free SEO training videos.

The last thing you need to do in the “Coverage” section is to make sure you’ve submitted a sitemap.

Submit Sitemap

Now let’s move onto the “Performance” section.

Identify Low Hanging Fruits

Google Search Console’s “Performance” section is where all the magic happens.

Performance

If you’ve had it installed on your site for a while, you have tons of critical data at your fingertips.

I’m not going to bore you and show you how to look at the data.

Instead, I’m going to show you how to leverage this data to get more organic search traffic.

The first method is to identify low hanging fruits.

A “low hanging fruit” is any keyword phrase ranking from positions #11 – #20.

These keyword phrases are only a few tweaks away from landing on the first page. You know this, but being on the second page of Google is almost like being completely invisible.

To find these low hanging fruits, click on “Average position”.

Average position

Then scroll down and click the filter option.

Filter Position

Check “Position”, select “Greater than” from the dropdown, and enter “11”.

Greater than

These keyword phrases are your low hanging fruits. I recommend going after phrases with the highest volume.

Now the question is:

How?

The fastest method is to make sure the phrase is mentioned on the page. If it’s a high volume keyword, then you may need to create another section on the page.

Google is telling you what keywords should be targeted on that page. Take advantage of it!

First, click on the target keyword phrase.

query

Then click on the “Pages” tab. This tab will show you what page on your site is ranking for that keyword.

Pages tab

Second, view the page and search for the keyword phrase. “Backlink builder” isn’t mentioned once on my guide about backlinks.

Search

That means that the first step is to figure out how to integrate that phrase onto the page. I recommend searching the exact phrase in Google to see what the intent is.

In this case, 7 out of the 10 results are tools.

SERP example

That means it might make sense for me to add a section about “Free Backlink Builder Tools”. I could also reframe it to show a list of the “Top Backlink Builders”.

The key takeaway is to model the search intent for the keyword. In some cases, you can add the keyword variation a few times in the copy (read this guide about on-page SEO).

Once you’ve optimized the page for long-hanging fruits, annotate inside Google Analytics.

Then wait a few weeks. You can go back to Google Search Console and see how that keyword phrase is performing by comparing date ranges.

Click the “Date” filter option. Then click on “Compare” and select the appropriate dates.

Date Filter

You can then see how the page has performed since you made the changes.

Comparison

If it hasn’t produced any movement, then reassess your optimization and content strategy.

If you feel that both categories are on-point, then I recommend examining the UI/UX, your site’s architecture leading to that page, and the backlink profile for that page.

Increase Organic Search CTR

The next way to leverage Google Search Console data is to increase your organic search Click Through Rate (CTR).

There is no faster way to get more organic search traffic than increasing your CTR. Here’s how to do it:

Go to the “Search Results” section, select “Average CTR” and “Average Position”.

Average CTR

Then scroll down and click on the filter button. Select “CTR”, click “Smaller than” from the dropdown, and enter “1.0”.

smaller than 1

Then go back to the filter and select “Position”, click on “Smaller than”, and enter “10”.

smaller than 10

Now you should be looking at keyword phrases that you’re performing well for, but your CTR is lacking.

Bad CTR

Now there are a few things to consider before I explain how to optimize for CTR.

Here are 4 Factors That Will Impact Organic CTR:

  1. your position (lower rankings = lower CTR)
  2. Google Ads (more ads = lower CTR)
  3. SERP features (more SERP features = lower CTR)
  4. search intent

Search intent isn’t as obvious as the others. In general, navigational search phrases (like “Gotch SEO”) that you don’t own will have low CTR. For example, my CTR for “blogger.com” is a brutal 0.1%.

I can push my rankings up further for this phrase, but I know it’s a waste of time and resources. Why?

Because people searching navigational phrases are generally looking for the brand itself. The takeaway is that you prioritize increasing organic search CTR for non-navigational keywords.

That means you should focus on informational keywords like “SEO competitive analysis” or “affordable SEO service”.

Now let me explain how to actually increase your organic search CTR.

How to Increase Organic CTR

Select an informational keyword with low CTR. You should pick a keyword that has low CTR and a high position. Sort the data by “Position” to see the top-ranked keywords.

In this example, I’m going to focus on “buy backlinks for SEO”.

keyword target

Once you’ve selected a target keyword, benchmark its current CTR. I recommend adding this data to an annotation in Google Analytics.

Keep this open because you’ll be adding whatever changes you made to it as well.

Annotate in Google Analytics

Now you need to examine the SERPs for that keyword. The first thing I notice in my situation are the ads.

SERP

Take note of the headlines.

The next thing to consider is my page that’s ranking #1.

Does the search intent for the keyword phrase “buy backlinks for SEO” match my page?

search engine result

I think it’s appropriate that it’s ranking because it is on topic.

However, someone searching “buy backlinks for SEO” seems to already have an objective in their mind. It seems that they already made the decision to “buy backlinks”.

That means they may not want to change their mind about buying links.

That could be a reason why the CTR for this page is suffering.

So, in this example, it doesn’t make much sense for me to change the strategy of my blog post.

This is a good reminder that being an SEO expert isn’t always about what you do. It’s also about what you don’t do.

Since that keyword phrase didn’t pan out, let’s take a look at the keyword phrase: “seo st louis”.

ctr example

From a quick SERP analysis, it’s easy to understand why the CTR is so poor for that page. There’s a Google Ad and the local pack is pushing the organic results below the fold.

SERP features

Now if I was serious about ranking for this keyword phrase, I would focus on the local pack. My page is ranking #2 in organic search and there’s a lot of room for improvement.

SERP features example

The first step to increasing your organic CTR is to improve your position. In this case, I would see a major boost in CTR by moving from the #2 to the #1 spot.

I recommend optimizing, improving, and adding more content. Then if it makes sense, try to acquire links to the page. While that’s happening you also want to try to improve your CTR.

I always look for a featured snippet because that’s an easy way to increase your CTR. You have to restructure and optimize your page for featured snippets.

Take note of a few elements in this example:

  • The #1 result has structured data and breadcrumbs showing
  • The #3 result has site links

That means that our page can also get those features. It makes sense to add reviews to our page that are using structured data.

Not only will these increase the organic CTR, but it will also add more unique user-generated content.

I’ve talked about a lot of technical optimization tactics. Now I want to show you how to optimize your title tags and meta descriptions for CTR.

You’ll need to put on your copywriting hat for this.

The first question is:

What does this searcher want the most when they search “seo st louis”?

This individual wants to work with a competent, trustworthy, and successful SEO company located in St. Louis. They likely want to meet face-to-face and shake your hand.

How do I know?

Because I’ve done exactly that with countless businesses in this area. How business owners operate in St. Louis compared to how they operate in New York City is different.

These nuances are huge. I won’t get into the psychology of midwest culture right now.

That said, your title and meta description should persuade your ideal customer.

So, if you’re targeting business owners in St. Louis, you need to clearly state why you’re the best option.

“Best St. Louis SEO Company” is a good start, but WHY is Gotch SEO the “best”?

Ask yourself:

What does a business owner in St. Louis value the most?

Some things they might value are:

  • Only working with a company that’s located in St. Louis
  • Working with a company that’s willing to meet in person and shake their hand
  • Working with a proven company with a visible track record of results
  • A sense of security that trying SEO again will work this time because it’s never worked in the past

List as many ideas as you can. Step into their shoes. Then, create at least 10 different headlines using these ideas.

Here are some examples:

  • #1 SEO Company Located in St. Louis (with Over 153 5-Star Reviews)
  • #1 St. Louis SEO Company (See Why 134 Other Companies Trust Us)
  • St. Louis SEO Company That’s Driven Over $12,031,231 for Clients
  • Most Trust SEO Company in St. Louis (139 Real 5-Star Reviews)
  • The Only ROI-Driven SEO Company in St. Louis
  • St. Louis SEO Company with Over 1,304,012 First Page Rankings
  • #1 Recommended St. Louis SEO Company (Insane Results for Clients)
  • St. Louis SEO Company – Get 112% More Traffic Like Our Clients
  • St. Louis SEO Company – Get 212% More Revenue Like Our Clients
  • St. Louis SEO Company – See Why 174 Others Trust Us

The combinations are endless. That’s why it’s critical that you test.

Add these same concepts to your meta description as well.

I recommend making your changes and then waiting at least a few weeks to see the results.

Make sure you annotate your changes in Google Analytics.

If you don’t see better performance, then iterate, and test again. There is no “end” to optimizing a website for organic search.

Perform Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)

The third way to leverage Google Search Console data has nothing to do with SEO.

I recommend that you perform Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO) high-performing organic search pages.

Getting traffic is nice, but converting that traffic into leads and new customers are even better.

I won’t get into CRO here, but check out these resources:

One thing that you need to keep in mind is that every single page on your site should have a goal.

It doesn’t have to always be transactional either. In fact, trying to score a sale is a poor strategy because ~98% of website visitors are not ready to buy.

That’s why it’s fundamental that you convert a percentage of that traffic into email subs or get them on a retargeting list.

Track Branded Search Performance

The last way to leverage this data isn’t actually a tactic at all. I recommend monitoring your branded search performance.

Branded Search Performance

While ranking for informational keywords is critical for increasing traffic, branded search is what will keep you afloat when rankings fluctuate.

The question is:

How do you get more branded searches?

You need an all-encompassing marketing strategy outside of SEO.

In general, if you produce exceptional value and your products are excellent, then you’ll get branded searches.

I recommend using Google Search Console to track your branded search performance every month.

If it’s not growing, then you know you need to adjust your strategy.

Bonus Google Search Console Sections to Investigate

Another Google Search Console section you’ll want to investigate is “Enhancements”.

Enhancements section

The “Mobile Usability” section will show you issues impacting the mobile search user’s experience on your website. It’s important to fix anything that shows up here.

Mobile usability section

Think about this way:

If Google is dedicating a section to it, it’s likely an important factor for organic search performance.

The same logic applies to every section within Google Search Console.

The “Security & Manual Actions” section is one to visit if your organic search traffic falls.

security and manual actions

Both manual actions and security-related issues can wreck your traffic. Go to this section first if your traffic plummets.

No manual actions detected

The last section to examine is the “Links” section.

Links

I prefer using Ahrefs for all link analysis, but Google Search Console can give you some solid intel. It doesn’t give you all your link data.

However, it is a decent sample set. One thing to examine is the “Top linking text” section.

Top linking text

This is your external link anchor text profile. Ideally, your “Top linking text” should be branded.

You should also look at the “Internal links” section because it may indicate some inefficiencies with your site architecture.

Internal links section

For example, my “best link building services” page may not have as many crawler pathways as I would like.

Internal links example

The appropriate action would be to create more internal links that page, so it performs better.

The other way to use this section is if you get a manual or algorithmic penalty. In many cases, websites get penalized because of low-quality links and over-optimized anchor text.

How to Clean Up Your Link Profile Using Google Search Console

Click “Export External Links” and select “More sample links”.

Export links

Then copy 200 of these URLs and open up Ahrefs. Go to “More” in the navigation and click on “Batch analysis”.

Ahrefs Batch Analysis

Paste the URLs, click the dropdown under “Target mode”, select “domain with all its subdomains” and start the analysis.

Quick batch analysis ahrefs

Click “Export” and open the file.

Ahrefs batch analysis export

Delete every column except for “Target”, “Domain Rating”, “Ref domains Dofollow”, “Total Backlinks”, “Total Keywords”, and “Total Traffic”. Then copy the data and paste into the Google Sheet (or you can filter through it in the .csv).

backlink profile analysis

I would filter the links by “Domain Rating” and then manually go through each link.

You can categorize them as “Good, Okay, Bad”.

I won’t get into link analysis here, but I recommend reading this article about the best link building services and my backlinks guide.

These will both give you a framework for what a quality link looks like.

That’s a Wrap!

Google Search Console is a robust free SEO tool that cannot be overlooked. Take advantage of it and start increasing your organic search traffic.

Updating WP, Why and How to

Posted by on Aug 2, 2019 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on Updating WP, Why and How to

Updates include updating the WordPress core, themes and plugins installed on your website. Here are the reasons why:

SECURITY

If you don’t update your WP site, you’re leaving it susceptible to a hack attack. WordPress has a team offering security patches whenever there is a need for one.

SPEED

Some updates sent by developers help improve the speed of your website, so you’ll want to update wherever you can.

MORE FEATURES

Sometimes updates include expanded features, in order to add value to companies’ software.

BUG FIXING

Software gets updated to fix bugs that had yet to be fixed, so you’ll want to get updated on your themes and/or plugins so you don’t have any headaches caused thereby.

WHAT DO YOU NEED TO UPDATE?

There are themes and plugins, but then there are also core files of WordPress. Without such files, your site wouldn’t function, so any update to the core is paramount.

HOW TO UPDATE WORDPRESS, ANYWAY?

A link’s almost always available under “Dashboard” -> “Updates”, but for core updates it can also be seen right under “WordPress Version” on the dashboard main page. (Make sure to backup everything beforehand, just in case something goes awry.)

AUTOMATING WORDPRESS UPDATES

It is possible for WordPress to update on its own, and doing so is very simple and easy – simply open your wp-config.php file and paste the following code:

define ( ‘WP_AUTO_UPDATE_CORE’, true);

Automatic updates for themes and plugins are possible as well, and all you have to do is go to your activated theme’s functions.php file and paste the following code snippets:

add_filter ( ‘auto_update_plugin’, ‘__return_true’ );
add_filter ( ‘auto_update_theme’, ‘__return_true’ );

AMP'd Up for Recaptcha

Posted by on Jul 31, 2019 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on AMP'd Up for Recaptcha

Beyond search Google controls the leading distributed ad network, the leading mobile OS, the leading web browser, the leading email client, the leading web analytics platform, the leading free video hosting site.

They win a lot.

And they take winnings from one market & leverage them into manipulating adjacent markets.

Embrace. Extend. Extinguish.

AMP is an utterly unnecessary invention designed to further shift power to Google while disenfranchising publishers. From the very start it had many issues with basic things like supporting JavaScript, double counting unique users (no reason to fix broken stats if they drive adoption!), not supporting third party ad networks, not showing publisher domain names, and just generally being a useless layer of sunk cost technical overhead that provides literally no real value.

Over time they have corrected some of these catastrophic deficiencies, but if it provided real value, they wouldn’t have needed to force adoption with preferential placement in their search results. They force the bundling because AMP sucks.

Absurdity knows no bounds. Googlers suggest: “AMP isn’t another “channel” or “format” that’s somehow not the web. It’s not a SEO thing. It’s not a replacement for HTML. It’s a web component framework that can power your whole site. … We, the AMP team, want AMP to become a natural choice for modern web development of content websites, and for you to choose AMP as framework because it genuinely makes you more productive.”

Meanwhile some newspapers have about a dozen employees who work on re-formatting content for AMP:

The AMP development team now keeps track of whether AMP traffic drops suddenly, which might indicate pages are invalid, and it can react quickly.

All this adds expense, though. There are setup, development and maintenance costs associated with AMP, mostly in the form of time. After implementing AMP, the Guardian realized the project needed dedicated staff, so it created an 11-person team that works on AMP and other aspects of the site, drawing mostly from existing staff.

Feeeeeel the productivity!

Some content types (particularly user generated content) can be unpredictable & circuitous. For many years forums websites would use keywords embedded in the search referral to highlight relevant parts of the page. Keyword (not provided) largely destroyed that & then it became a competitive feature for AMP: “If the Featured Snippet links to an AMP article, Google will sometimes automatically scroll users to that section and highlight the answer in orange.”

That would perhaps be a single area where AMP was more efficient than the alternative. But it is only so because Google destroyed the alternative by stripping keyword referrers from search queries.

The power dynamics of AMP are ugly:

“I see them as part of the effort to normalise the use of the AMP Carousel, which is an anti-competitive land-grab for the web by an organisation that seems to have an insatiable appetite for consuming the web, probably ultimately to it’s own detriment. … This enables Google to continue to exist after the destination site (eg the New York Times) has been navigated to. Essentially it flips the parent-child relationship to be the other way around. … As soon as a publisher blesses a piece of content by packaging it (they have to opt in to this, but see coercion below), they totally lose control of its distribution. … I’m not that smart, so it’s surely possible to figure out other ways of making a preload possible without cutting off the content creator from the people consuming their content. … The web is open and decentralised. We spend a lot of time valuing the first of these concepts, but almost none trying to defend the second. Google knows, perhaps better than anyone, how being in control of the user is the most monetisable position, and having the deepest pockets and the most powerful platform to do so, they have very successfully inserted themselves into my relationship with millions of other websites. … In AMP, the support for paywalls is based on a recommendation that the premium content be included in the source of the page regardless of the user’s authorisation state. … These policies demonstrate contempt for others’ right to freely operate their businesses.

After enough publishers adopted AMP Google was able to turn their mobile app’s homepage into an interactive news feed below the search box. And inside that news feed Google gets to distribute MOAR ads while 0% of the revenue from those ads find its way to the publishers whose content is used to make up the feed.

Appropriate appropriation. 😀

Thank you for your content!!!

The mainstream media is waking up to AMP being a trap, but their neck is already in it:

European and American tech, media and publishing companies, including some that originally embraced AMP, are complaining that the Google-backed technology, which loads article pages in the blink of an eye on smartphones, is cementing the search giant’s dominance on the mobile web.

Each additional layer of technical cruft is another cost center. Things that sound appealing at first blush may not be:

The way you verify your identity to Let’s Encrypt is the same as with other certificate authorities: you don’t really. You place a file somewhere on your website, and they access that file over plain HTTP to verify that you own the website. The one attack that signed certificates are meant to prevent is a man-in-the-middle attack. But if someone is able to perform a man-in-the-middle attack against your website, then he can intercept the certificate verification, too. In other words, Let’s Encrypt certificates don’t stop the one thing they’re supposed to stop. And, as always with the certificate authorities, a thousand murderous theocracies, advertising companies, and international spy organizations are allowed to impersonate you by design.

Anything that is easy to implement & widely marketed often has costs added to it in the future as the entity moves to monetize the service.

This is a private equity firm buying up multiple hosting control panels & then adjusting prices.

This is Google Maps drastically changing their API terms.

This is Facebook charging you for likes to build an audience, giving your competitors access to those likes as an addressable audience to advertise against, and then charging you once more to boost the reach of your posts.

This is Grubhub creating shadow websites on your behalf and charging you for every transaction created by the gravity of your brand.

Shivane believes GrubHub purchased her restaurant’s web domain to prevent her from building her own online presence. She also believes the company may have had a special interest in owning her name because she processes a high volume of orders. … it appears GrubHub has set up several generic, templated pages that look like real restaurant websites but in fact link only to GrubHub. These pages also display phone numbers that GrubHub controls. The calls are forwarded to the restaurant, but the platform records each one and charges the restaurant a commission fee for every order

Settling for the easiest option drives a lack of differentiation, embeds additional risk & once the dominant player has enough marketshare they’ll change the terms on you.

Small gains in short term margins for massive increases in fragility.

“Closed platforms increase the chunk size of competition & increase the cost of market entry, so people who have good ideas, it is a lot more expensive for their productivity to be monetized. They also don’t like standardization … it looks like rent seeking behaviors on top of friction” – Gabe Newell

The other big issue is platforms that run out of growth space in their core market may break integrations with adjacent service providers as each want to grow by eating the other’s market.

Those who look at SaaS business models through the eyes of a seasoned investor will better understand how markets are likely to change:

“I’d argue that many of today’s anointed tech “disruptors” are doing little in the way of true disruption. … When investors used to get excited about a SAAS company, they typically would be describing a hosted multi-tenant subscription-billed piece of software that was replacing a ‘legacy’ on-premise perpetual license solution in the same target market (i.e. ERP, HCM, CRM, etc.). Today, the terms SAAS and Cloud essentially describe the business models of every single public software company.

Most platform companies are initially required to operate at low margins in order to buy growth of their category & own their category. Then when they are valued on that, they quickly need to jump across to adjacent markets to grow into the valuation:

Twilio has no choice but to climb up the application stack. This is a company whose ‘disruption’ is essentially great API documentation and gangbuster SEO spend built on top of a highly commoditized telephony aggregation API. They have won by marketing to DevOps engineers. With all the hype around them, you’d think Twilio invented the telephony API, when in reality what they did was turn it into a product company. Nobody had thought of doing this let alone that this could turn into a $17 billion company because simply put the economics don’t work. And to be clear they still don’t. But Twilio’s genius CEO clearly gets this. If the market is going to value robocalls, emergency sms notifications, on-call pages, and carrier fee passed through related revenue growth in the same way it does ‘subscription’ revenue from Atlassian or ServiceNow, then take advantage of it while it lasts.

Large platforms offering temporary subsidies to ensure they dominate their categories & companies like SoftBank spraying capital across the markets is causing massive shifts in valuations:

I also think if you look closely at what is celebrated today as innovation you often find models built on hidden subsidies. … I’d argue the very distributed nature of microservices architecture and API-first product companies means addressable market sizes and unit economics assumptions should be even more carefully scrutinized. … How hard would it be to create an Alibaba today if someone like SoftBank was raining money into such a greenfield space? Excess capital would lead to destruction and likely subpar returns. If capital was the solution, the 1.5 trillion that went into telcos in late ’90s wouldn’t have led to a massive bust. Would a Netflix be what it is today if a SoftBank was pouring billions into streaming content startups right as the experiment was starting? Obviously not. Scarcity of capital is another often underappreciated part of the disruption equation. Knowing resources are finite leads to more robust models. … This convergence is starting to manifest itself in performance. Disney is up 30% over the last 12 months while Netflix is basically flat. This may not feel like a bubble sign to most investors, but from my standpoint, it’s a clear evidence of the fact that we are approaching a something has got to give moment for the way certain businesses are valued.”

Circling back to Google’s AMP, it has a cousin called Recaptcha.

Recaptcha is another AMP-like trojan horse:

According to tech statistics website Built With, more than 650,000 websites are already using reCaptcha v3; overall, there are at least 4.5 million websites use reCaptcha, including 25% of the top 10,000 sites. Google is also now testing an enterprise version of reCaptcha v3, where Google creates a customized reCaptcha for enterprises that are looking for more granular data about users’ risk levels to protect their site algorithms from malicious users and bots. … According to two security researchers who’ve studied reCaptcha, one of the ways that Google determines whether you’re a malicious user or not is whether you already have a Google cookie installed on your browser. … To make this risk-score system work accurately, website administrators are supposed to embed reCaptcha v3 code on all of the pages of their website, not just on forms or log-in pages.

About a month ago when logging into Bing Ads I saw recaptcha on the login page & couldn’t believe they’d give Google control at that access point. I think they got rid of that, but lots of companies are perhaps shooting themselves in the foot through a combination of over-reliance on Google infrastructure AND sloppy implementation

Today when making a purchase on Fiverr, after converting, I got some of this action

Hmm. Maybe I will enable JavaScript and try again.

Oooops.

That is called snatching defeat from the jaws of victory.

My account is many years old. My payment type on record has been used for years. I have ordered from the particular seller about a dozen times over the years. And suddenly because my web browser had JavaScript turned off I was deemed a security risk of some sort for making an utterly ordinary transaction I have already completed about a dozen times.

On AMP JavaScript was the devil. And on desktop not JavaScript was the devil.

Pro tip: Ecommerce websites that see substandard conversion rates from using Recaptcha can boost their overall ecommerce revenue by buying more Google AdWords ads.

As more of the infrastructure stack is driven by AI software there is going to be a very real opportunity for many people to become deplatformed across the web on an utterly arbitrary basis. That tech companies like Facebook also want to create digital currencies on top of the leverage they already have only makes the proposition that much scarier.

If the tech platforms host copies of our sites, process the transactions & even create their own currencies, how will we know what level of value they are adding versus what they are extracting?

Who measures the measurer?

And when the economics turn negative, what will we do if we are hooked into an ecosystem we can’t spend additional capital to get out of when things head south?

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