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Bad Reviews, Good Reviews, No Reviews and 5 Tips to Deal With It

Posted by on Jul 24, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Bad Reviews, Good Reviews, No Reviews and 5 Tips to Deal With It

Bad Reviews, Good Reviews, No Reviews and 5 Tips to Deal With It

Reviews are the new word of mouth in the world of Google.

Clicking on a business listing on Google with zero reviews is like walking into a store with no signboard. I just wanna get a sandwich for my lunch, not a panic attack wondering what kind of service I’ll be getting.

So here are five tips for you to get more review and how to handle those reviews.
1. ENCOURAGE REVIEWS

“It’d be great if you can give us a review. Do you mind if we send you an e-mail with a quick guide to it?”

This is the most direct way to ask for reviews. While sending your clients off, you can offer them a simple line as above. A happy satisfied client will be more willing to leave you a review. Follow up quickly with an e-mail with instructions like so. Being requested directly like this, more often than not the clients would say okay. But there is always the risk that they won’t follow up with their promise. Sending them an e-mail can act as a little reminder.

Instead of e-mailing your clients with the guide, you can also just give them handouts. That way it’s even more informative. After that, if you want you can send them an e-mail with the guide again as a reminder. That may come off too pushy though. So make sure your clients are really happy and willing to give you a review before doing this.

An example of a review handout

That way, perspectively, it would feel more like a “Hey, just in case you need it but lost it, here’s the guide.” instead of “Hey, we need your review, don’t forget to review us now!”

Encouraging your customers to give you a review is ok, bribing them or buying reviews, on the other hand, are not. There are instances where Google would take down reviews if it’s exposed that they’re fueled by bribery. While Yelp doesn’t want you to ask for reviews at all.

Putting up signs like this around your premise to ask for reviews in an offhanded way

Now, what you can do to encourage reviews but in a more offhanded way is by putting up signs in your premise. Stick a little sticker on your door saying review us on Google, Yelp, and Facebook etc. Or put up little signs on your counter. You’re not actively asking them for a review. But you’re telling them that they can give you a review if they want to.

A review us page

You can also create a “review us” page on your website. Showcase some testimonials, ratings or reviews on your website. That gives them some examples on how to write a review in case they are not familiar with it. Then link them to review sites directly. You’re asking for something from them, putting in some effort to make it hassle free for them will pay off for you in the long run. There are some free websites out there that can help save you some trouble such as Owly, bitly, or this plugin from GetFiveStars.

2. BE RESPONSIVE & PERSONAL TO REVIEWS

Now that some reviews started to dribble in, you gotta show them that you appreciate their effort. They are not obliged to give you a review, instead, they’re doing you a favor. So it’s only right if you return the sentiment.

A simple trick to make a thank you message sound more personal is by addressing them by their name. “Thank you, Kate. I’m glad that you’re happy with our service. Hope to see you again.” would sound better than “Thank you, hope to see you again.”

Replying to a bad review though is a little more tricky. First of all, APOLOGIZE. Pacify them first before explaining yourself then offer a solution and finally end the reply with another apologize and express your desire to turn this situation around.

Identify what went wrong is a very important part of handling a bad review. Give them the reason for why it happened. Don’t give an excuse. A lousy excuse will only agitate the customer more. Don’t shift the blame to the customer. What’s worse, don’t take it personally and go into defensive mode. Remember that it’s business and you need to stay professional.

Here’s a couple of example on how to reply to bad reviews on Yelp

Notice how they both sound apologetic and tried to make amends. A review posted online is there for everyone to see. You wouldn’t want to get into an ugly argument because of a bad review in front of every one of your potential customers. Answering a bad review is showing every potential customer out there that you care. It shows that you want the best experience for your customers. That you will go to great lengths to make it up for any less than satisfied customers. That is what I call great customer service.

3. ENCOURAGE FEEDBACKS FROM CUSTOMERS

Now we want reviews, but we also only want good reviews. I mentioned how answering to a bad review can show the potential customers that you care. But isn’t it better if you don’t get any bad reviews in the first place? A way to help curb on bad reviews is to make sure you resolved any complains before they have the chance to reach the reviews sites. You can achieve that by encouraging feedback on the spot. In your premise where you’re present and can have a face to face conversation with an unsatisfied customer.

Again you can go the more straightforward way or the offhanded way. The straightforward way is, of course, asking something along the way “Is everything ok? Can I help you with anything?”. Make sure you tend to the customers’ need. If you’re running a service-based business. Let the customer review your work result and make sure they’re satisfied with your work. If they aren’t, you can handle the situation right away.

Like before, you can put on little signs around your premise. “Ask us anything!” or “Approach any of our staff members if you need help.” Putting up signs like this around the store can encourage customers to reach out to you first. Handling any unsatisfied customer first can curb them from having the anger bubbling in their chest and lash it out on review sites. At that time, it will take more effort and time to turn around their anger or disappointment.

Make sure any complaints go to you first

This way, you can make sure any reviews that did reach the review sites will only be happy reviews.

Making sure your customers are satisfied and happy is the surefire way to ensure happy review in return. Therefore, start working on customer service to make sure they are having a good experience. Like I mentioned before, happy customers are more willing to leave you a review. Their reviews will also, of course, be positive reviews. The kind that everyone likes.

4. TAKE SUGGESTIONS INTO CONSIDERATION

Reviews are not only useful for potential customers to decide whether they want to pay you a visit. It is also useful for the business owner to understand what people like or don’t like about your business. Monitor it actively so you can express your gratitude to happy customers. Handle any less than satisfied customers. Along the way, you can understand what you need to do to give your customer the ultimate experience to make sure they’ll only be leaving you praises on the internet.

Little gestures are what make an experience unique. Here’s a personal example, my favorite Japanese restaurants provide every table of customers with warm hand towels before the meal is served. That little gesture really makes the difference. You can start putting in little uniques gestures that may enhance a customers experience. Then monitor the reviews to see whether they noticed. If they do, voila! Now you know what gives you extra points.

Thank any customers who give you a suggestion, or have listed out what they like or don’t like about their experience with you. Compile all the points together. If a point is being mentioned frequently, take it into consideration and make a change accordingly.

Think of reviews as a two-way conversation

This can only be achieved if you actually receive reviews. Be it good reviews or bad reviews they will be helpful for you to gain incredible insights on customer experience.

So be sure to encourage customers to leave you reviews and also encourage feedback to curb any negative reviews before it happens.
5. DON’T TAKE BAD REVIEWS PERSONALLY

Last but not least, everyone takes pride in owning a good business where customers are satisfied and good reviews are gushing in. However, don’t take it personally if a bad review does happen.

You did everything. You encouraged feedbacks from customers. You attend to their every calls and cry. You trained your staff to be as attentive as possible. But still, one morning you woke up to a one-star review after a long hard day of work. I can imagine how heartbreaking this is for you. But does the customers care that they broke your heart? No, they won’t. For them this is business and they only expected the best for what they’ve paid.

So you gotta remember to treat it as business as well. Stay professional, remember that business is business and customer may not all be friends. Put on your best business smile (although they can’t see it behind the screen you get the gist), apologize and offer to amend to turn that angry customer around. Pull your hair out if you want. But once again they won’t care.

So the best way to handle this is to don’t take it personally and treat it as professional as you can. Make sure they’ll be satisfied with what you can offer as a peacemaking handshake. Turn that angry customer into a happy one, make sure they leave you a good review this time. That is the only way you can win this and gain something in return.

TL;DR

Encourage reviews either by actively asking or subtly by putting on “review us” signs. Respond to your reviews professionally but with a personal touch. Encourage on the spot feedbacks to curb any bubbling negative reviews. Take what your customers say into consideration to provide them with better service and lastly stay professional. Don’t take bad reviews personally, remember that business is business. If you manage to turn an unsatisfied customer into a happy one, consider that a win.

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Annelieke’s Analytics: 16 months of Google Search Console data

Posted by on Jul 23, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Annelieke’s Analytics: 16 months of Google Search Console data

Annelieke’s Analytics: 16 months of Google Search Console data

The new Google Search Console is out! Since the beginning of this year, more and more users have gotten the pleasure of the new functionalities in Google Search Console. After you get used to the totally new interface, you see all the cool stuff it has to offer. One of those awesome features is the 16 months of data in the Search Analytics report. Curious about where you can find this bunch of data? Well, read on then.

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16 months of Search Analytics data, where?

The new Google Search Console dashboard looks completely different and uses other words than the ‘old’ Google Search Console does. So first, let’s find out where you can find your precious 16 months of data.

You need to go to the performance dashboard, which used to be Search Analytics. When you get there, you’ll see a cool bunch of stuff already. Like total clicks, impressions, Click Through Rate and your average position. And there are filter types possible, at the top of the page. You can even add new filter options. I’d recommend you play with that – just a little pro tip. One of the filter options is Date, set by default to 3 months.

If you click on that Date filter, you can see all the date options available:

 

 

 

 

 

Next to seeing 16 months of data, you can also compare dates. For instance, the last 7 days compared to the same 7 days last year. And at the bottom of all options, you can customize your date range. Clicking on the ‘Last 16 months’ filter will give you an output that looks a bit like this:

To get something like the screenshot above you need to select the Average CTR only. You can click on all four of the items to see all four in the graph. Now another thing I noticed is these little small grey balls near the x-axis. These are messages from Google Search Console that something happened on a particular date. For this particular website, an event occurred that could’ve affected the data. Now, this is very valuable information because you then know that the data before this date is less precise. And that knowledge is especially useful when you want to compare dates because you now know that you can’t compare a recent date range with a date range before this event.

What to do with 16 months of Google Search Console data

The first thing that comes to mind is that it resolves a lot of frustration. In the ‘old’ Google Search Console, the oldest data you could get was 90 days old. People then just downloaded months old data every month and created their own Google Search Console database. But now, there’s no hassle anymore with getting a lot of data in your dashboard by exporting data sheets and adding it to your main Google Search Console data sheet. If you work for clients who want to see how the website’s done over the year, because they want to know if it’s in line with their KPI for example, that data is now just a few clicks away. Saving you a lot of time – time you can spend on actually optimizing websites – and making them better.

When it comes down to the actual data, having over a year of data means you can do year-over-year comparisons and see if you can spot a trend. Are you doing better than last year? Have your efforts been successful? Analyzing year-long trends in your data in just one click. Looking for things like seasonality is now easier, for example: is April a month in which you get more clicks than in other months? Or how is this June doing compared to last year’s June?

As you can see in the screenshot above, June 2018 had fewer impressions than June 2017 had. June 2018 also had fewer clicks, a lower average position. The only thing that went up was the Click Through Rate (CTR). Looking at a wider time frame will give you more context and can tell you if June 2017 perhaps was an above average good month or if this website is performing worse than it did last year. Those are signs for you to work on your SEO more or that your SEO efforts aren’t taking any effect.

In the Performance report in Google Search Console, you can see more information than just this graph. I’ve set the data comparison to the last 3 months compared to the same months in 2017. If you scroll down you can see more specifics about where your possible drop or rise is coming from.

I’ve sorted this grid on where the biggest difference between the last 3 months in 2018 and the same time period 2017 is. Enabling you to quickly identify the difference between the 3 months. If you notice important keywords having fewer impressions now than in 2017, that might be a reason to act. Time to work on your SEO!

You can see Queries, Pages, Countries, Devices and Search Appearance in this grid, and you can add Clicks, CTR and Position to the grid as well. Making it very informative for you to check where your priorities should lie, which keywords and pages to tackle first.

Be critical about the data you’re seeing

Please think about the time frame you’re using when comparing dates. Sometimes it doesn’t make any sense to compare June 2018 to June 2017. Perhaps it makes more sense to compare June 2018 with May 2018. You know your website best, you know when you started optimizing for a certain keyword for instance. Think about what questions you want answered before diving into this bunch of Google Search Console data. Those questions will be the answer to what to look at when you open the Performance dashboard.

At the beginning of this post, we noticed Google Search Console is showing notifications about things that occurred that can affect data:

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If you see something similar, please do not compare data with data before these notifications because your data isn’t reliable anymore and you might be drawing the wrong conclusions.

Conclusion

The Performance dashboard in the new Google Search Console lets you analyze 16 months of data. This wider time frame prevents a lot of hassle and there’s no longer need for shoestring solutions to create your own useful Google Search Console database. Making it so much easier to do your reporting. 16 months of data also allows you to make meaningful comparisons and to spot trends. But as always, think about the questions you want answered before diving into a big dataset. Otherwise, you might be drawing conclusions that don’t make any sense.

Read more: How to connect Google Search Console to Yoast SEO and fix errors »

The post Annelieke’s Analytics: 16 months of Google Search Console data appeared first on Yoast.

Google’s speed update now applies for all users – how does it affect you?

Posted by on Jul 23, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Google’s speed update now applies for all users – how does it affect you?

Google’s speed update now applies for all users – how does it affect you?

As part of an ongoing user experience crusade that has also included the introduction of AMP, Google has now rolled out its speed update to all users.

Improving the speed of your website is something that you should invest in regardless of SEO – Google’s own data shows that a 3 seconds load time increases bounce rates by 32% (when compared to a one second load time) and a 5 seconds load time can increase your bounce rates by 90%; and don’t forget, every bounce represents a potential customer lost.

1Source: Google/SOASTA Research, 2017.

Bounce rate can also affect organic search rankings in itself

If Google sees that most of the visitors to a page are going straight back to the search results then it doesn’t consider that page to be giving a good user experience.

Google sees a bounce as negative to their own user experience and drew a clear line in 2010 in the sand for site owners introducing site speed as a direct ranking factor. Being 2010, this was a desktop-only search update, at the time Google stated that only 1% of search queries would be affected, and it would only appear for searches in English on Google.com.

At the start of this year, Google introduced site speed as a mobile ranking factor in a limited roll-out, and earlier in July they announced that the update would now apply to all users.

Google once again stated that the update would only affect a small percentage of queries but with no accurate indication of percentages. Typically, vague and frustrating advice from Google that creates more questions than answers, but here’s some useful advice to see how Google’s speed update affects you.

The speed update will only affect the slowest pages

Or to be more precise, “it will only affect pages that deliver the slowest experience to users”.

This update is not an opportunity to improve the rankings of pages that are already well optimised for speed. You are unlikely to gain any extra visibility by shaving a couple of hundred milliseconds off your load times.

It also means that you should be very concerned if you do have pages with poor load times – especially if they have historically been receiving significant amounts of organic traffic.

But how slow is slow?

Google’s post on the speed update doesn’t explicitly state what they consider slow to be, but their testing tools may offer some clues.

PageSpeed Insights considers a page load to be slow if it takes 3 seconds or more to deliver the First Contentful Paint or more than 4.2 seconds to deliver the DOMContentLoaded event.

I’d recommend treating this as a red line to avoid.

1 more red than green should be a cause for concern

 

The tool also handily tells you approximately where you rank compared to other pages – if it tells you that your page is in the bottom third then you should do something about it.

PageSpeed Insights is a great tool but it only allows you to check one page at a time and possibly as a result, some digital marketers make the mistake of only checking their homepage – all of your pages need to be up-to-speed if you want them to rank.

There are 3rd party tools available like Pingdom and GTMetrix that make checking and monitoring the speed of multiple pages but for a price.

If you don’t want to use a paid for tool, Google Analytics is also very useful. If you use it then you’re probably already aware of the Site Speed tools that it offers. Analytics makes it easy to see which pages are underperforming and also helps you to identify important trends as to whether things are getting better or worse – rather than seeing a snapshot.

One thing to be aware of with Google Analytics is that by default it shows the total page load time – i.e. the time from clicking a link to the page having finished loading entirely – and while this can give you some good insights it’s not the metric that I find to be most useful.

For the more interesting page speed metrics you need to go to the DOM Timings report within GA’s site speed menu, where you can find the average document content loaded time and average document interactive time metrics. These metrics tell you more about when content becomes available to the user – and to put it bluntly – when the page becomes useful. Users are less likely to bounce if they see progress.

Once you have found pages that you are concerned about, I would recommend testing them using PageSpeed Insights as actually it tells you what you need to do to speed the page up.

2PageSpeed Insights offers useful advice

 

Avoiding slow pages

So, we’ve done the easy part and identified pages that we think might fall afoul of the speed update. What now?

Often, the easiest and biggest win is optimising images – and if you are a digital marketer who doesn’t know too much about coding, then this is something you can easily do yourself without having to take up valuable developer time.

There is plenty that can be done – and in my experience plenty that gets neglected. One of the biggest challenges for many digital marketers – especially those on the agency side – can be getting buy-in to use developer time.

Don’t make the mistake of just sending a list of recommendations copied and pasted from Google to your developers and expecting the changes to be made quickly. One tactic I’ve found very effective is to create a concise one-page document explaining what the problem is, what the potential impact is, and a brief for implementation. This helps to separate the issues out and stop them from getting lost in the day-to-day.

Don’t forget to keep making great content

Another useful insight that Google gives us about the speed update is “The intent of the search query is still a very strong signal, so a slow page may still rank highly if it has great, relevant content”.

Despite the importance of speed, I don’t think it should take precedent over ensuring that your site’s content strategy is strong. Rubbish content that loads quickly still won’t rank.

Play it safe though – if you have strong content that already performs well and your site speed is lagging, treat it as the threat that it is and sort it out.

Best Google Analytics Reports for Beginners

Posted by on Jul 23, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Best Google Analytics Reports for Beginners

Best Google Analytics Reports for Beginners

Google analytics can give you a lot of information about your web site and if you are a beginner you can easily get lost in the reports. My goal with this post is to explain and demonstrate the 7 best reports to help beginners understand some basic information about their web site.

These are the absolute essentials for any webmaster looking to answer the 4 w’s (‘what’, ‘when’, ‘where’ and ‘who’).

How many visits do I get per day and from where?
How many users are visiting from Desktop / Mobile / Tablet?
Which are the most popular pages of my site?
Which pages do people see first (landing pages) when they visit my site?
How many people are viewing my web site right now?
What buttons do users click as they browse my web site?
What time of the day I receive the most visits?

1. How many visits do I get per day and from where?

This is a report I run on a daily basis. You can view this report by selecting ACQUISITION > All Traffic > Source / Medium

What this report shows is the number of visits and their origin for the selected period. You can see how many visits are coming from search (i.e. organic), how many visits are direct etc.

Traffic by Source / Medium Report

On the top bar (below the graph) you can also see, among other things:

Pages / Session: the pages per visit, i.e. how many pages on average your readers are viewing before they leave your web site – the greater the number the better
Avg. Session Duration: How long (on average) your visitors stay on the site – the greater the number the better
New Users: The number of first time visits (for the selected date range)
Bounce rate:  Bounce rate is the percentage of people who left your web site without viewing other pages within your site. – the lower the number the better.

2. How many users are visiting from Desktop / Mobile / Tablet?

A very useful report is the Mobile Overview. It shows you how many users are visiting your website from a desktop computer, a mobile phone or a tablet.

You can access this report by selecting AUDIENCE > Mobile > Overview.

Mobile Overview Report
3. Which are the most popular pages of my site?

To find out which are the most popular pages of your site navigate to BEHAVIOR > Site Content > All Pages.

You may find out a number of surprises like that your most popular page is not your home page or which of your site’s categories are more visited etc.

Popular Pages Report
4. Which pages do people see first (landing pages) when they visit my site?

The landing pages report shows which pages are first seen when people visit the web site. You can combine this report with Source / Medium (select Source / Medium from secondary dimension dropdown) and get an accurate picture on which pages are first visited from each traffic source.

To view this report select BEHAVIOR > Site Content > Landing Pages

Remember that you can always use different combinations using the secondary dimension feature and see a whole new set of reports.

5. How many people are viewing my web site right now?

This is a very useful report that shows in real-time the number of visits. You can find this report by selecting REAL TIME > Overview.

Real Time Overview Report
6. What buttons do users click as they browse my web site?

Besides the different reports, another very nice feature of Google Analytics is In-Page Analytics. With In-Page Analytics you can see which buttons / links / areas of a page get clicked.

This is good to know for many obvious reasons and can really help you analyse and optimize your web site. Maybe you should move some content above the fold or see what your readers prefer more (text or images) and many other useful information.

To view your in-page analytics data you first need to install the official Page Analytics Chrome Extension.

Page Analytics Chrome Extension

Once installed, navigate to a page you want to view in-page analytics and click the Analytics icon in your chrome browser. You should see a screen similar to the one shown below. Move your mouse over the different metrics to get more information.

Note: In order to view Google Analytics data in your browser you have to be logged in to Google with an account that has manager role for that website in Google Analytics.

In-Page Analytics Report
7. What time of the day I receive the most visits?

By default, Google Analytics shows you statistics by Day and on the main panel you have the option to select by Week or Month.

A useful report, especially if you are selling products or services on your website is to analyze the data by time of day.

Knowing what time of the day you receive the most traffic, it can help you make better decisions as to what time to publish your new posts or even adjust your Adwords campaigns and increase the bids during those hours.

Create a Custom Report

There are two ways to do this. First, you can create a new custom report. It’s sounds difficult but it’s not, just follow the simple steps below.

From the left menu, select CUSTOMIZATION > Custom Reports > New Custom Report.

Hour of Day – Google Analytics Report

To view this report again once it’s saved, go to CUSTOMIZATION > Custom Reports and click on the Hour of Day report.

To make this report easier to read, click on the PERFORMANCE icon from the top bar and sort the report by hour (by clicking on the word hour, twice).

Visits Per hour (Percentages)

Please note that the report is using the 24hour format.

Add Hour as a secondary dimension

Hour as a Secondary Dimension

Another option is to use the secondary dimension and select hour from the drop down menu. You can add hour as a secondary dimension to almost any report you create.

Key Learnings

Google Analytics has a number of reports that cover everything that is happening on your website. If you are starting out now the best approach is to familiarize yourself with the basic reports outlined above. These reports will give you enough data to analyze to understand how much traffic you get to your website and from where.

As you become more experienced, you can start using segments and advanced filters to drill down and learn how to use Google analytics to boost your SEO.

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Consistency Is Key in Getting Ranked on SERP

Posted by on Jul 23, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Consistency Is Key in Getting Ranked on SERP

Consistency Is Key in Getting Ranked on SERP

When people talk about SEO, they talk about meta description, they talk about building backlink volume, they talk about canonicalization. All these are ranking factors. But they won’t work unless they’re used consistently.

Consistency is key

SEO is not a set up once and leave it thing. Nor is your website. As your business grows, you will be adding more content and more web pages to your website. All these need to be optimized from time to time to ensure your SERP rank.

When setting up a website it’s not only for the users. It’s also for crawlers. T

hat’s why it’s important to give the crawler all the correct and clear signs on what your webpage is. Crawler takes in a lot to consider as SEO ranking factors.

This includes keywords, fresh links, passing page rank, and for local SEO; uniformed information across multiple portals.

When all the little signs are pointing towards one, and one thing only. That’s when SEO shines and your page appears high on the SERP. Making all the pointer pointing at one thing requires patience, effort, and consistency.

Be consistent with your keyword usage

The consistent use of keywords remains one of the most important parts of SEO. Scattering keywords consistently across a webpage tell crawlers what this webpage is about. Which in turn helps it to rank higher in the SERP of a certain keyword.

Choose a keyword and stick to it.

Although Google IS getting smarter and smarter in understanding the content of each website. Still, the power of keywords should not be ignored.

Keywords give crawlers a sign about what the page is talking about. It acts as a pointer to the keyword that you want to rank.

Put keywords in your title, meta tags, meta description, in your article itself, in image ALT etc.

Consistently insert the keyword into where it matters. Combined, they’re screaming out signals to the crawler that this is what the web page is about.

In SEOPressor plugin, there exists a feature where it will detect your SQ Density automatically according to your word count and keyword position. All you need to do is input up to 3 keywords that you’re targeting.

SEOPressor automatically gives you an indication on SQ Density

However, we are also aware that a website is not only made up of one blog post or one webpage. That’s where consistency comes in. You gotta make sure that all your web pages are pointing towards one same thing.

Let’s say you’re a yoga instructor who runs a yoga academy. You will want your website to rank on the keyword “yoga instructor”. The page that ranks for this main keyword should preferably be your homepage. Where users can have an overall of what you can offer. Therefore, you would want to optimize your homepage for the keyword “yoga instructor”.

Get a list of LSI keywords of yoga instructor, utilize them if you can. LSIGraph in this occasion can help you immensely. That way you are clearly telling the crawler that “Hey, my website is about Yoga Instructor, you should show my website to anyone who made a related query.”

Be consistent with your content
SEO goes hand in hand with quality content

Quality contents that answer to what users want are those that rank.

Dishing out one after another quality content consistently is important. That tells Google that your website is relevant to queries. Not only that, you are always relevant because you are always updating.

That’s why you see so many SEO websites featuring a blog where they share knowledge and all things SEO with users for free.

You may get a sudden surge of backlinks and visit when you posted a piece of high-quality content. But you don’t want that to be a one-time thing. You want those fresh links that can keep your blog post ranked high at the SERP.

Once again, consistency is key.

There are two ways to do this. When Google updates their algorithm you gotta update your SEO accordingly. Other than that, constantly check for broken or bad links. A link can change over time, making sure that they are not affecting your web page needs a lot of consistent patience and work.

You can update your website monthly, weekly or even daily if you want. What we need is consistency.

Revamp your website maybe once a year. Get rid of all those bad links or bad code that is not contributing to your SERP.

Google likes fresh content. They like to see frequent activity on a website being signaled to their crawlers. It’s like telling them that your website is active and in use. It’s relevant, and relevant web pages rank higher.

However, don’t update your page for the sake of updating.

The main purpose of creating a website in the first place is to communicate. You want to tell the community something, whether it be telling them to take yoga classes with you or sharing tips on SEO.

That’s why you gotta feed them quality content. Good content that matches to users search intent.

So one point to remember is to not just be consistent with your updates or publishes, you also want to be consistent with the quality.

Everyone loves a quality content, optimizing it is just putting the jewel on the crown while consistency is king. Be consistent with your quality first, then comes frequency and optimization.

Be consistent with your website structure

One of the most common problems that give out a mixed signal to crawlers and affecting ranking is duplicated content.

Why is it confusing to crawler? Because it’s inconsistent!

You have one page displaying the same thing but with 3 different URLs. Why not make it consistent and only having one URL? We know the problem is not as simple as that.

Duplicate content IS a problem on the internet.

It’s such a big problem that Google made a whole help page for it. As you can see, Google asked you to be consistent.

You may not have created duplicated intentionally, but that doesn’t mean that crawlers won’t treat them as unique sites with duplicated content. That will confuse the crawlers as to which one should be preferred and ranked.

Example of duplicated URLs that may affect SERP

All these web pages will be showing the same thing to the users. But to the crawlers, they are three different unique sites. However, they’re showcasing the same contents! So which one is the real, original one that has more authority?

Which one should be ranked?

There are many ways to solve this problem as listed out by Google.

But in my humble opinion, a rel=”canonical or 301 redirects are one of the more direct solutions to a problem like this.

Utilize these commands to consistently refer crawlers to put the priority on the page that YOU WANT. Put these command in ALL the relevant web page. Not just one. You want to go through all the duplicates and make sure they’re all consistently pointing to the same thing.

To put it lightly, if you want users to stay on the page, but pass page rank to another page, then use rel=”canonical. If you don’t want users on that page AT ALL and also want to pass page rank, use 301 redirects.

Of course, this the very surface of how these things work. They are obviously much more complicated but we are not going to talk about that. What I want to talk about is consistency.

You are communicating and sending signals to the crawlers on which page is the one you think should be ranked. Instead of letting them decide. If you want to have full authority over your web pages, you gotta bark out clear directions.

Crawlers will be confused when given mixed signals thus affecting your page ranking

Be firm and sure on which webpage you want to pass page rank to. Don’t give out mixed signals like pass it from A to C then B to C and C back to B. You want everything to be pointing back to A and A only.

Choose one copy of the duplicates as genuine and original. Pass it page ranks. Be consistent throughout. You can see that your SERP started favoring the page that you’re pointing towards. That’s what being consistent can do.

You’re telling the crawlers to scoop up all that are scattered, and put it all on ONE webpage only. There are many SEO ranking factors, by uniforming them one by one you can gain great strength.

Be consistent with your NAP

Now we’re gonna touch a little on local SEO.

Every business wants to rank on the near me SERP. Every business wants to be discovered online by potential customers. You ask for reviews, you communicate with customers and tend to their needs. All of those are good for your business.

But the most basic of putting your business out there on the internet is the NAP. Make a quick search for your business on Google. Are there duplicates? Are there different listings with different details?

Again, consistency is key.

Be consistent with your NAP is one of the easily overlooked fine print.

Your premise might have a name change, so you updated your Facebook page. But have you also updated your Google listing, Yelp listing, Foursquare listing and so on and so forth?

If your Facebook page has a different name with your Yelp listing, that’s telling Google that they are two different businesses. That will not only confuse Google, it will also confuse potential customers.

Providing the exact information across multiple portals in important for both ranking and securing customers

Make sure that the information you have on the internet is uniform and consistent is important. However, that can be a tricky thing to do.

With so many review sites out there making sure you have claimed your listing is enough work already. Updating all of them accordingly is gonna take up a lot of time and requires a lot of patience.

There is a couple software out there that can help you manage all your listings from NAP down to verification.

Like this one from MOZ or this one from bright local.

A little effort can pay off in the long run. Making sure the information you’re putting out is uninformed can do wonders to your rank on SERP which in turn brings in more business.

TL;DR

At the end of the day, consistency is key in being ranked on SERP. Dishing out consistently high-quality contents is only one among the many SEO ranking factors. Revamp your website consistently to follow updated Googe algorithm and clearing out bad links. In the case of duplicated content, signals to crawlers should be clear and consistent. Be it 301 redirects or rel=”canonical. You need to make sure they’re all pointing to the same page to pass page rank. NAP is the most basic yet crucial part of a local business listing. Keep it consistent throughout every review sites as to not confuse both crawlers and potential customers.

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SEO Guide: Perfecting On-Page SEO Optimization

An ultimate guide for every marketer to optimize your on-page SEO perfectly.
Identify all the SEO elements to optimize it the right way
Improve your traffic and ranking with this actionable step-by-step guide
20 on-page SEO tips are included to help you get on the road to your SEO success

Mobile-Friendly: 6 Test Tools You Need to Know

Posted by on Jul 22, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Mobile-Friendly: 6 Test Tools You Need to Know

Mobile-Friendly: 6 Test Tools You Need to Know

Look around you, are there people currently looking at their phone screen? There sure are some around me.

The society as a whole is utilizing internet on the go more and more frequently. As a matter of fact, more than half of Google queries come from a mobile device.

Google itself has released a mobile-friendly algorithm back in 2015. Which is designed to favor mobile-friendly sites in ranking which triggered a whole mobilegeddon terror.

What’s more, just last February at PubCon a webmaster conference, Google announced that they’ll be switching more sites to mobile-first index. Even though Google said it won’t affect any SERP ranking at the moment. But as all things Google, be wary and be ready.

You can read more about the mobile-first indexing on Google itself, or this FAQ compiled on SearchEngineLand. Be aware though those two articles are kinda dated but still relevant due to the experimental nature of the indexing.

Although the mobile-first index is still being rolled out in a snail pace for the sake of experimenting. There is no doubt that being mobile friendly is a must for every website out there and it will only be increasingly relevant.

Google wants you to put out mobile friendly and responsive websites.

Maybe not now, but definitely sometime soon.

What’s more, I’m pretty sure everyone would lose less hair if every website they tap into using their smartphone fits nicely and functions perfectly.

So now that you, me and Google are all on the same page that says we want mobile-friendly websites. Here are some tools on the internet that can help you do just that.

So here is a list of 6 mobile-friendly test tools from yours truly – Google.
1. Google Mobile Site Test

Just Google “mobile friendly” to access the tool.

Now if you Google “mobile friendly”, the first column on your result page will be an input bar for you to run a test. That is Google’s very own mobile-friendly test tool a.k.a THE Google mobile site test.

The first column is Google’s very own mobile-friendly test

In fact, if you’ve been following the Google Webmaster Blog. You’ll notice that there is an illustration on the site that urges you to run a mobile-friendly test. Yes, they are both the same thing.

Do you notice on the right site that Google is asking you to check whether your website is mobile-friendly?

Thumbs up at the effort that Google is putting in. They REALLY want you to go mobile friendly.

The site is straightforward and simple to use. All you need to do is type in the URL of your website, and run the test. In less than a minute, you’ll either get a green “page is mobile-friendly” or a red “page is not mobile-friendly”.

Hey the SEOPressor website IS mobile-friendly, hooray!

This news portal, unfortunately, is not.

Straight to the point and simple.

Whether your page is deemed green or red, you can view details on page loading issues. Because let’s face it, no web page is perfect, even if we want it to be. That gives you a simple overview of what you can fix to make it better.

2. Chrome DevTools’ Device Mode

Click here to access the tool.

If you’re a Chrome user, you can utilize their DevTools’ Device Mode to help you build your own mobile-friendly site.

How it looks like when device mode is on.

Utilizing the device mode, you can simulate the environment of a list of portable device and gauge how your site performs.

I won’t go over all the functions of the Device Mode. In a nutshell, by utilizing Device Mode you can gauge the responsiveness of your webpage via a list of portable device emulators. However, there also exist some downsides. For an example, they can’t emulate GPU and CPU behavior.

The point is, the tool will be sufficient for most mobile-friendly testing tasks. So go ahead and make use of this free tool to tweak your website. Up the game on mobile-friendly and responsiveness.

Now that you get an overview on the mobile-friendly-ness of your website. Let’s talk about speed.

When users load a page on mobile, they are on the go, they want to reach a page and they want to reach it fast.

So here’s where speed comes into the big picture. 53% of mobile site visits were abandoned if a page takes more than 3 seconds to load.

Being a mobile-friendly website is important, being a blazing fast mobile-friendly website is even more important. Google helped you built a mobile-friendly website. They also want to help you to tweak it to perform at its best.

3. Test My Site

Click here to access the tool.

Taking only a minute time tells you the time required to load your webpage using a 3G connection. You can also download a free copy of the report on how to improve your performance.

4. PageSpeed Insights

Click here to access the tool.

This web performance tool also gives you some insights on how optimized your website is.

It gives you stats on your website speed, optimization level and etc. It is excellent because in one click it also provides you with a solution on how to fix any problems. Follow the appropriate guides and you can have your website updated in no time.

5. Chorme User Experience Report

Click here to access the tool.

You can pair the web performance tool up with the Chrome User Experience Report to get a clearer view of how your website performs as a whole.

The data is a part of Google Cloud Platform, free to explore via Google BigQuery

As a whole, tools 4 and 5 together give you heads up on how to perform better. A website with better performance gains more edge in the mobile-friendly race.

Now that you have optimized your website performance, you can access it on your mobile device to see it for yourself how it performs, mobile-friendly wise. What’s better than testing out how mobile-friendly a website is, by viewing it in mobile!

6. Chrome Devtools’ Remote Debugging

Click here to access the tool.

While developing your website, you can make use of the remote debugging tool to inspect your page in real time.

This gives you the advantage of examining your website under the mobile condition that you want. While still maintaining the same control over the development.

Update your website builder software

In the case where your website is hosted, it is most probable that the software homepage has already created a how-to guide for you to haul your website into being mobile-friendly. If you want to know more about how to make a website mobile-friendly.

Click here to access the guide to customize your website software.

At the end of the day, the users want more mobile-friendly websites that work. Therefore, Google tries to deliver by emphasizing on mobile-friendly optimizations.

With the mobile-first index being rolled out, the age of internet on the palm is no longer a future event.

Making use and taking advantage of all the guides and tools that have been lying in the Google dungeon will definitely benefit you. Bracing the dark, cold corridor of the dungeons may be intimidating. That’s why we did it for you and compiled these 6 tools to help shape your mobile-friendly website!

Now, brave warrior, storm your way through the optimization and you may be rewarded with a high SERP rank by Google.

The list of mobile friendly test tools

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Best Strategy To Rank Your Content On Google

3 In-Depth Research On Ways To Get Ranked On Google
5 Effective Ways To Drop Your Bounce Rate
7 Unexpected Results From The Case Studies
Rank Your Content With Not Just One, But Multiple Keywords
Best Practice To Bring Back Your Lost Traffic

How to optimize without spending all day optimizing

Posted by on Jul 21, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to optimize without spending all day optimizing

How to optimize without spending all day optimizing

My very first blog post here on Yoast.com was about why you should focus on SEO as a blogger. That post was one of the hardest posts I’ve ever written, as I was not focussing on SEO at all back then. I honestly didn’t want to spend time doing keyword research and research my audience. Now, almost four months later, I’m having fun with optimizing my blog posts and am creating a routine in this. And with success, my average position in Google is rising, along with the total impressions and total clicks. Today, I will share why and how I’m optimizing my blog posts. 

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SEO for bloggers

In the beginning of June I was at a conference for Dutch speaking bloggers. I gave a talk about SEO for bloggers and attended several talks myself. One of the talks I saw was by the owner of a big mom blog in the Netherlands. When the audience asked her how she managed to grow, she explained it was a combination of writing a lot, using Google Search Console and using Yoast SEO Premium.

“Anyone could do it,” she told the audience.

Challenge accepted.

The day after the conference, I started optimizing my blog posts. And with success. Where my average organic growth was around 10 percent per month from the start of this year, it was a whopping 86% in June compared to May. Turns out that the SEO tips we give at Yoast, even work for bloggers! Who knew?

Well, probably everyone knew. At least at Yoast. But I’m stubborn and always used the ‘that won’t work for me’ card. But really, as I wrote before, I didn’t want to focus on SEO. I’m a blogger. Who needs SEO?

How to rise in Google

The process of rising to the first page or even the top three result is a long one. You need the right tools and you need the right plan. You need patience and you need to be able to analyze your current data.

To rise in Google, I use two tools:
Google Search Console and Yoast SEO Premium.

Google Search Console is a great tool to see what keywords people use, what the click through rate to your website is and what position you are. You can compare your data as well. The newest data unfortunately is 3 days old, so you need patience with growing.

While you can do this all without our SEO plugin, I can’t live without our premium plugin anymore. I use the premium plugin to check my internal linking structure and use the link suggestions to make sure I am linking to all relevant posts on my website.

It’s hard to decide which blog posts to optimize. I found out my blog post about a lipstick review I did last year, still generates a lot of traffic. I’m not a beauty blogger, but apparently the post hit home. But posts I wanted to rank, weren’t ranking at all. I picked one of those blog posts and started to optimize it. You can do this by completely rereading the text, checking the bullets of our content analysis and adding relevant links to other blog posts – the internal linking tool helps with that, and to link from other relevant posts to this post. Orphaned content – content that’s not linked to – is horrible and it’s something you need to fix as soon as possible if you want to rank. 

A great site structure is a must for both visitors and Google. Learn how to set it up today in our Site structure training! »

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How to optimize without spending all day optimizing

I want to write. I want to blog. The last thing I want to do, is work on optimizing my blog posts for Google, Pinterest  or Facebook.

As I won’t go viral after I hit that publish button and I won’t get millions of hits after I shouted out that I blogged, I need to optimize the posts. I do this right after I finished a blog post. I reread it, go through all the bullets of the plugin and determine if I want to change its suggestions, or just ignore those stupid red and orange bullets that are out there to make my life miserable. The one thing I do check for every time, are internal links and a proper meta description. While writing meta descriptions are my nightmare, they are important in getting people to actually click that link.

Checklist

I’ve created my own checklist before I publish a post. While I sometimes go back to a blog post to create new links if I published new blogs, I make sure all my new posts at least check off the following:

There are at least 3 links to other blog posts I’ve written that are relevant to the topic. If there are no relevant links, I need to either create more content or perhaps remove the blog post altogether.
There is at least one relevant high quality image and it has the focus keyword in its alt description.
I’ve written a compelling meta description.
My readability is green. And if it’s not, the feedback it gave me was something I chose to deliberately ignore.
My SEO analysis is green. And if it’s not, the feedback it gave me was something I chose to deliberately ignore.
I’ve checked old blog posts to see if I can link to this new blog post.

Routine

It’s important to create your own routine in this. While in the beginning it might feel as if you’re messing around and it won’t have any use, if you continue to do the steps above, you will see improved results in Google and Google Search Console.

I’m curious how and if you are incorporating SEO tactics in your blogging. Please let me know, because I’m eager to learn from you too!

Read on: Site structure: the ultimate guide »

The post How to optimize without spending all day optimizing appeared first on Yoast.

WordPress Security – 8 Things You Must Do to Protect Your Site

Posted by on Jul 21, 2018 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on WordPress Security – 8 Things You Must Do to Protect Your Site

Whether you use a WordPress website to promote your Company products and services or as a blog to share your thoughts and opinion, the security of your site is very important. WordPress has become a popular blogging platform in the recent years because it is easy to develop, design, and manage. In fact, you almost do not need any special knowledge to use a WordPress website.

WordPress is preferred by most individuals and business owners for many reasons. It has a simple, DIY and user-friendly interface, called dashboard. More so, WordPress allows you to install your custom theme and Plug-Ins and edit them to taste. SEO optimization is another benefit of WordPress that cannot be overemphasized.

Excellent features of WordPress

1.     WordPress Plug-Ins

A plug-In refers to additional software that’s added to a WordPress site in order to give it a desired feature or function. There are several kinds of WordPress plug-ins for different functions. For instance, there are Plug-ins for SEO, security, display and performance, cache, image properties, comments management, social media integration, video embed, e-commerce, and lots more. Your choice will depend on what you are looking for.

2.     WordPress themes

WordPress also allows you to decide how you want your website to look. Do you want a static homepage or the one that displays all your pages? There are thousands of themes out there that you can choose from. There are free and premium themes recommended by WordPress developers and those designed by third-party professional web designers.

3.     Easy Customization

After you might have chosen your theme and plug-ins, you can still modify and customize them to your taste. Depending on the character of your installed theme/plug-in, you can choose from a wide array of customization options available.

WordPress Security

With the constant increase in the number of cyber crimes and online attacks on many websites, it is very important to keep your WordPress site as secure as possible. As earlier identified, WordPress allows you to easily and effortlessly adjust your settings to suit your needs. This makes it easy for you to avoid all forms of attacks on your WordPress website.

Why Is WordPress Security So Important?

A hacked or compromised WordPress website can be a big blow to you and/or your business. Cyber attackers can steal your login details, personal information, and caches and gain an access to your dashboard. The case can be fatal if you use your website for business transactions.

Hackers can alter your payment gateway and divert your funds. More so, they can access your database and steal your customers’ information and vital documents. Depending on the type of attack and aim of the attacker, it may take forever to retrieve your website and you know the damage and loss this can cost you.

How can you protect your WordPress site?

The fact that WordPress is an Open Source platform and everybody has access to the source codes makes it a favorite target of most cyber hackers. Most attacks come from Pakistan, India, Bangladesh, Germany, and Poland. Popular WordPress attacks include

  • SQL Injections
  • Clickjacking
  • Cloaking
  • Blackhole Exploit Kit attacks
  • Password and Login brake efforts

The truth, however, is that there is really no way to prevent an intrusion of a script master if he targets your site. Still, there are ways to protect your site from possible attacks. If your site is well protected, a hacker would prefer to pick another easier victim.

8 Things You Must Do to Protect Your Site

1.     Forget about using “admin” as your username.

Many attackers focus on the default WordPress username using brute force. Bruteforce is a password cracking robot that has the ability to guess the password to a username. Bruteforce can guess over a thousand passwords in few seconds. If you are unlucky, your password may be among the guesses and the attacker will access your account.

To avoid this, you should change your username from the default “admin” or “administrator” from your WordPress control panel.

Steps:

  • Go to MySQL tool (phpmyadmin)
  • Find your database
  • Go to wp_users and browse for “admin”
  • Under the user_login column, change it to something else.

2.     Choose a strong password

After you have changed your username, the next thing is to change your password. Usually, the best practice is to use a combination of Upper and Lowercase letters, symbols, and numbers.

Steps

  • Go to Users
  • Profile
  • Password

Furthermore, make sure you change the password to your cpanel as well because a hacker can seize your site through the cpanel. More so, make sure both passwords are unique and that you don’t use them on any other platform.

To save you the headache of having to think of new passwords to use, you can auto-generate a password using the options available on your dashboard. Auto-generated passwords are strong and unique.

3.     Use a Custom login URL

Now that you have a new Username and Password, the next is to have a custom login URL. This will guarantee you a maximum protection against brute force. Typically, a brute force attack needs your login URL and username.

There are many WordPress plug-ins that allow you to customize your login URL. The default WordPress login URL is “yoursite.com/wp-admin/”. You can change this to “yoursite.com/logmein”. This will make it hard for an attacker to locate your login URL even if he has your Username and Password.

4.     Use emails for logging in instead of usernames

Instead of adopting the native and common practice of using a username to login to your WordPress, you can make use of an email instead. Remember to input your full name at the User settings on your dashboard so that the Full name will be the one to be displayed on public posts.

5.     Use CAPTCHA for registration and login

CAPTCHA provides an extra layer of security for your data. It protects you against robots and brute force attacks. CAPTCHA is an acronym for Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart (CAPTCHA). It is a challenge test that forces the web browser to prove that he or she is not a bot. It is a bot trap that helps to prevent automated bots or scripts from accessing your website.

There are various types of CAPTCHA. We have the Image and text type of CAPTCHA. The Image form of CAPTCHA is to test if the user trying to access your website can see an image correctly or not. The number type of CAPTCHA is used to test common logical reasoning, such as rewriting what is displayed, perform simple arithmetic or identify the words printed.

If you have an unprotected registration form, hackers can simply access your page and create thousands of accounts in few seconds using automated bot system. These accounts are meant to do three things; alter your database, steal your information or spam your website.

Again, there are some useful CAPTCHA plugins available for you. Go to your WordPress dashboard, click on the plugin, add new, and search for the keyword “CAPTCHA”. Choose the one with good reviews and configure it.

6.     Enable the 2-factor authentication

Make your login page ask for additional information, such as date of birth, mother’s maiden name, and so on. This will add another layer of security. It even protects you from physical attacks or possible password leaks through phishing or keylogger. Again, check the WordPress plugin directory for a suitable 2-factor authentication plugin that suits you.

7.     Utilize SSL certificate

An SSL Certificate is highly recommended if you perform financial transactions on your WordPress website. Likewise, if you store personal or sensitive information on your site, you should consider adding an SSL certificate. The SSL Certificate is just a Proof of Identification which groups the domain name with the server name or hostname. SSL certificate usually put the mind of your customers/readers at rest that they site is verified by a trusted hostname/authority. Advent Digital offers an easy and one-time SSL certificate setup for WordPress websites. Check it out now!

8.     Always Update your WordPress

There is no gain in staying in the past when the world has already advanced to the next level. WordPress developers typically identify some major flaws and shortcomings before you and make moves to fix them. Therefore, each new version of WordPress comes with its own improved security measures.

Updating your WordPress version is easy, free, and without any downtime. Upgrade and updates are not only limited to your WordPress platform. It also comprises of your plugins and themes. The developers of each plugin work every day to ensure that their products are healthy and safe from any form of attack.

Most attacks are due to the use of outdated WordPress features. You should not be caught offside simply because you didn’t update your features as soon as new versions are released. Luckily, WordPress offers an easy and effective way to update these features. You can turn on auto-upgrade during installation or install a plugin that sends a notification to your email once a new version of any of your plugin or theme is released.

Conclusion

WordPress is an easy and convenient way to blog about your hobby or sell your business to the world. Because it is an open-source platform, cyber hackers usually use this advantage to compromise many websites and take control of vital data. Highlighted above are 8 concrete ways of protecting your website from various cyber attacks.

Ask Yoast: Nofollow tags for Amazon affiliate links

Posted by on Jul 21, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Ask Yoast: Nofollow tags for Amazon affiliate links

Ask Yoast: Nofollow tags for Amazon affiliate links

When you add a nofollow tag to a link on your site, you’re basically telling search engines that they shouldn’t count your backlink when ranking that page. Doing this helps you avoid leaking link value to pages that may not be trustworthy, or, in case of affiliate marketing, to your advertiser’s website.

But what if you include several affiliate links in every blog post you publish? While you probably link to relevant products, all these links should still have a nofollow tag. This can easily become a large amount of nofollowed links. Does this have any consequences for the link value of your pages?

Nikola was worried about this and emailed us his question:

I have a nofollow tag on my Amazon affiliate links because in Google’s Webmaster guidelines it’s said that ad links should have this tag. But I’m worried that this will cause a drop in link value of my pages as I add these links to almost all of my posts. What should I do? Do Amazon affiliate links hurt blog SEO?

Watch the video or read the transcript further down the page for my answer!

Adding a nofollow tag to Amazon affiliate links

“No, they don’t hurt blog SEO. Nofollow doesn’t hurt anything. If it’s an ad it deserves a nofollow and you’re doing it perfectly right and you shouldn’t change anything. Good luck.”

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Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Do you have an SEO-related question? A pressing SEO conundrum you can’t find the answer to? Send an email to [email protected], and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

Note: please check our blog and knowledge base first, the answer to your question may already be out there! For urgent questions, for example about the Yoast SEO plugin not working properly, we’d like to refer you to our support page.

Read more: How to cloak your affiliate links »

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Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Customer Service

Posted by on Jul 21, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Customer Service

Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Customer Service

Chatbots & Artificial Intelligence: The Future of Customer Service

“Intelligent machines are very quickly going to start taking over human functions, and this process is already in place with customer service… In the future, I see service people working hand-in-hand with machines.” – Nancy A. Shenker, Founder and CEO, theONswitch

The future is coming and it might be coming even faster than you thought. 5% of companies worldwide are using chatbots regularly in 2016. While 80% of businesses in the US want chatbots by 2020.

The number will only rise with the availability of technology gets wider while the price gets lower.

In the customer service sector where a lot of human resources are needed to answer mostly repetitive questions, AI chatbot is especially valuable.

So what exactly is a chatbot?

A chatbot is a program that is personified to conversationally assist in performing certain tasks usually in the environment of a messaging application.

To put it simply, Siri is a chatbot, Google Assistant is a chatbot, and when you tell Lyft to pick you up at home on Facebook Messenger, yes you’re talking to a chatbot.

Siri, the artificial intelligence personal assistant, can also be viewed as a chatbot.

With emerging online shopping platforms, websites and applications alike. The whole shopping experience is having a major makeover. Customers don’t visit the brick and mortar to browse through items nor they seek out salesperson for inquiries as much as they did anymore.

With a tap, a click, a zoom and reading through reviews left by other customers, they decide whether to make a transaction or not. All virtually.

What do customers want from customer service?

Now that everything in the industry is only getting better and faster, they are expecting only the best.

The best shopping experience, the best after-sales service, and the best customer service.

The most help and information. In the least time and hassle. Through the most friendly yet professional manner.

Customer service should not be just a department anymore, it should be the core and focus of a business. Communicating with the customers and knowing what they want help build the whole shopping experience.

In this era where shopping options are plenty and competition is high, the quality of customer service could very well be the push you need to win the race.

“Provide help to users before they know they need it, be predictive” Jay Baer – Marketing and customer service author and speaker; Owner, Convince & Convert

Collecting data and catering to customers’ needs will be an important step for every business owners for now and moreover for the future.

So where do Artificial Intelligence and chatbot come in?

A chatbot is the sales assistant, the customer service personnel in the new age of shopping.

As mentioned before, a chatbot is a personification. When a customer is engaged in a conversation with a chatbot, they should feel like they’re talking to someone instead of something.

Chatbot armored with AI has the power to learn. Through numerous conversation with customers, they are collecting data, and through this immense absorption, they can grow and adapt.

Although NLP (Natural-language processing) for chatbots still has a long way to go, Siri can help me shoot a quick text to Mom telling her I’m coming home with takeaway dinner. For me, that’s good enough for now.

I don’t expect Siri to be as good as J.A.R.V.I.S, I’m no Ironman. But the customers only expects the best. You better give them a J.A.R.V.I.S.

Ironman in his suit, optimized with J.A.R.V.I.S, the artificial intelligence personal assistant

When you have a large number of inquiries coming in every day. You have a lot of data to look at. Through data, you can detect a pattern. Most of the time a large percentage of customers might be making the same kind of inquiry.

“ How long will it take for my item to be delivered?”
“ What color options this item has?”
“ How can I be upgraded to premium?”

A human customer service personnel may feel numb and bored by these repetitive questions, but a chatbot won’t. They’re not living, after all, they can’t feel bored or annoyed.

Chatbots can be used to handle the long list of repetitive and easily foreseen question that can be answered with a straightforward answer.

If you noticed the same kind of questions being asked dozens of time a day? Let it be handled by a chatbot might be a better idea before your customer service personnel can’t handle it anymore.

Where are AI and chatbot now? Where will they be in the future? What about human personnels?

AI is already widely optimized and utilized in current chatbox services.

Most of the customer service chat box you can find in retail sites are actually handled by a human personnel but at the same time powered by AI.

Typeform uses a chatbot-esque flow to make your survey more engaging.

A list of suggested answers is at hand. AI also foresee what question the customer has and gives timely suggestion answers so both the personnel and customer can go through the process as hassle-free as possible.

Powered by data, technology, and clever programming, chatbots can completely take over the above situation.

Initial contact with customers could be handled by chatbots. Instead of the personnel choosing from a list of suggested answers, the chatbot itself decides which answer should be given by analyzing the incoming inquiries.

Optimizing chatbots, general inquiries can be completed within minutes. A win-win situation where the customers are happy and tickets cleared.

That gives human personnel more time and energy to solve complex or technical questions that require more than a one-liner answer.

Greatly reducing the workload of human personnel as only after filtration that an inquiry that requires their expertise would reach them.

Chatbot VS Human

In an ideal future, chatbots are perfectly capable of handling conversations and complains. They understand the human language completely and can react as needed.

However, in the realistic future, it will need a long long time before any machine can pass the Turing Test. Moreover, handle each and every kind of customer need on its own.

Chatbots can’t completely take over human personnel because, at the end of the day, they are not human.

Now that chatbot can’t be as intelligent as a human, what are they good for? Well, they should be intelligent enough to tell when they need a human to step in.

In place, is the ability of chatbot to tell when a situation requires more than what they can offer and promptly connect the customer to a human personnel.

Chatbots are not sentient nor will they point a gun on you, I think…

The line between when a human person needs to step in or should the chatbot take full control to handle customer service should be tread lightly and cautiously.

If not, you’ll be left with a lot of frustrated users, flooded email inbox, and idle chatbots.

Let’s think about what a human can do that a chatbot can’t do. First of all, a human can process a much more complex language input and output, which is critical in a conversation. A human can act without following a set of instructions. Most importantly, a human can feel emotions.

So the time when a chatbot sends a customer to a human customer service personnel should be:

when the inquiry is too complex to be understood,
when the inquiry is out of what they know, and
when the customer is here to complain, or on a brighter side, to send a compliment.

Like how AI implemented into chat box software are making things easier for both the customer and personnel. The realistic visualization of how a chatbot should function in the future should be the same, make things easier for everyone.

In the future…

Chatbots won’t completely take over the customer service jobs. Robots will not eat all the jobs. Ideally.

As mentioned before, customer service is evolving into the core of a business. It’s only getting bigger and everyone will need all the help they can get.

That help will be chatbot.

Though chatbots now are buggy and their self-learning function is terrorized by fun-loving-crowds at the moment.

As all things science, human will push the boundary of knowledge and one day NPL technology may be good enough to help create bots that can converse fluently.

In the future of customer service, customers won’t be able to differentiate whether they’re talking to a human or a bot who passed the Turing test. In the future, bots will be the first line of contact in customer service line.

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