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rel=canonical: the ultimate guide

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on rel=canonical: the ultimate guide

rel=canonical: the ultimate guide

A canonical URL lets you tell search engines that certain similar URLs are actually the same. Sometimes you have products or content that can be found on multiple URLs – or even multiple websites, but by using canonical URLs (HTML link tags with the attribute rel=canonical), you can have these on your site without harming your rankings.

What is the canonical link element?The SEO benefit of rel=canonicalThe process of canonicalizationHow to set canonical URLsCorrect example of using rel=canonicalSetting the canonical in Yoast SEOWhen should you use canonical URLs?301 redirect or canonical?Should a page have a self-referencing canonical URL?Cross-domain canonical URLsFaulty canonical URLs: common issuesrel=canonical and social networksAdvanced uses of rel=canonicalCanonical link HTTP headerUsing rel=canonical on not so similar pagesUsing rel=canonical in combination with hreflangConclusion: rel=canonical is a power tool
What is the canonical link element?

History of rel=canonical

In February 2009 GoogleBing and Yahoo! introduced the canonical link element – if you want to learn about its history, Matt Cutts’ post gives the clearest explanation. While the idea is simple, the specifics of how to use it are often complex.

The rel=canonical element, often called the “canonical link”, is an HTML element that helps webmasters prevent duplicate content issues. It does this by specifying the “canonical URL”, the “preferred” version of a web page – the original source, even. Using it well improves a site’s SEO.

Ironic side note

The term Canonical comes from from the Roman Catholic tradition, where a list of sacred books was created and accepted as genuine and named the canonical Gospels of the New Testament. The irony is it took the Roman Catholic church about 300 years and numerous fights to come up with the canonical list, and they eventually chose four versions of the same story…

The idea is simple: if you have several similar versions of the same content, you pick one “canonical” version and point the search engines at it. This solves the duplicate content problem where search engines don’t know which version of the content to show in their results. This article takes you through how and when to use them, and how to avoid common mistakes.

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The SEO benefit of rel=canonical

Choosing a proper canonical URL for every set of similar URLs improves the SEO of your site. This is because the search engine knows which version is canonical, so it can count all the links pointing at all the different versions as links to the canonical version. Setting a canonical is similar in concept to a 301 redirect, only without actually redirecting.

The process of canonicalization

When you have several choices for a product’s URL, canonicalization is the process of picking one of them. In many cases, it’ll be obvious: one URL will be a better choice than others. In some cases, it might not be as obvious, but even then it’s still pretty simple: just pick one! Not canonicalizing your URLs is always worse than canonicalizing your URLs.

How to set canonical URLs
Correct example of using rel=canonical

Let’s assume you have two versions of the same page, each with exactly – 100% – the same content. The only difference is that they’re in separate sections of your site and because of that the background color and the active menu item are different – that’s it. Both versions have been linked to from other sites, so the content itself is clearly valuable. So which version should search engines show in results?

For example, these could be their URLs:

http://example.com/wordpress/seo-plugin/
http://example.com/wordpress/plugins/seo/

This is what rel=canonical was invented for and, unfortunately, this happens fairly often, especially in a lot of e-commerce systems. A product can have several different URLs depending on how you got there. In this case you would apply rel=canonical as follows:

Pick one of your two pages as the canonical version. This should be the version you think is the most important. If you don’t care, pick the one with the most links or visitors, and if all else is equal, flip a coin. You just need to choose.
Add a rel=canonical link from the non-canonical page to the canonical one. So if we picked the shortest URL as our canonical URL, the other URL would link to the shortest URL in the <head> section of the page – like this:
<link rel=”canonical” href=”http://example.com/wordpress/seo-plugin/” />

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

What this does is “merge” the two pages into one from a search engine’s perspective. It’s a “soft redirect”, without redirecting the user. Links to both URLs now count as the single, canonical version of the URL.

Setting the canonical in Yoast SEO

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$89 – Buy now » InfoOur Yoast SEO WordPress plugin lets you change the canonical of several page types in the plugin settings. You only need to do this if you want to change the canonical to something different from the current page’s URL. Yoast SEO already renders the correct canonical URL for almost any page type in a WordPress install.

For posts, pages, and custom post types, you can edit the canonical in the advanced tab of the Yoast SEO metabox:

For categories, tags and other taxonomy terms, you can change them in the same place in the Yoast SEO metabox too. If you have other advanced use cases, you can also use the wpseo_canonical filter to change the Yoast SEO output.

Want to bump your SEO to a higher level? Become a technical SEO expert with our Technical SEO training! »

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When should you use canonical URLs?
301 redirect or canonical?

If you are unsure whether to do a 301 redirect or set a canonical, what should you do? The answer is simple: you should always do a redirect, unless there are technical reasons not to. If you can’t redirect because that would harm the user experience or be otherwise problematic, then set a canonical URL.

Should a page have a self-referencing canonical URL?

In the example above, we link the non-canonical page to the canonical version. But should a page set a rel=canonical for itself? This question is a much-debated topic amongst SEOs. At Yoast, we strongly recommend having a canonical link element on every page and Google has confirmed that’s best. That’s because most CMS’s will allow URL parameters without changing the content. So all of these URLs would show the same content:

http://example.com/wordpress/seo-plugin/
http://example.com/wordpress/seo-plugin/?isnt=it-awesome
http://example.com/wordpress/seo-plugin/?cmpgn=twitter
http://example.com/wordpress/seo-plugin/?cmpgn=facebook

The issue is that if you don’t have a self-referencing canonical on the page that points to the cleanest version of the URL, you risk being hit by this. If you don’t do it yourself, someone else could do it to you and cause a duplicate content issue, so adding a self-referencing canonical to URLs across your site is a good “defensive” SEO move. Luckily, our Yoast SEO plugin does this for you.

Cross-domain canonical URLs

Perhaps you have the same piece of content on several domains. There are sites or blogs that republish articles from other websites on their own, as they feel the content is relevant for their users. In the past, we had websites republishing articles from Yoast.com as well (with express permission), but if you had looked at the HTML of every one of those articles you’d found a rel=canonical link pointing right back to our original article. This means all the links pointing to their version of the article count towards the ranking of our canonical version. They get to use our content to please their audience, and we get a clear benefit from it too. Everybody wins.

Faulty canonical URLs: common issues

There are many examples out there of how a wrong rel=canonical implementation can lead to huge issues. I’ve seen several sites where the canonical on their homepage was pointed at an article, only to see their home page disappear from search results. There are other things you should never do with rel=canonical. Here are the most important:

Don’t canonicalize a paginated archive to page 1. The rel=canonical on page 2 should point to page 2. If you point it to page 1, search engines will actually not index the links on those deeper archive pages…
Make them 100% specific. For various reasons, many sites use protocol-relative links, meaning they leave the http / https bit from their URLs. Don’t do this for your canonicals. You have a preference, so show it.
Base your canonical on the request URL. If you use variables like the domain or request URL used to access the current page while generating your canonical, you’re doing it wrong. Your content should be aware of its own URLs. Otherwise, you could still have the same piece of content on – for instance – example.com and www.example.com and have each of them canonicalize to themselves.
Multiple rel=canonical links on a page causing havoc. Sometimes a developer of a plugin or extensions thinks they are God’s greatest gift to mankind and they know the best way to add a canonical to the page. Sometimes, that developer is right, but since you can’t all be me, they’re inevitably wrong sometimes too. When we encounter this in WordPress plugins, we try to reach out to the developer doing it and teach them not to, but it still happens. And when it does, the results are wholly unpredictable.

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rel=canonical and social networks

Facebook and Twitter honor rel=canonical too, and this might lead to weird situations. If you share a URL on Facebook that has a canonical pointing elsewhere, Facebook will share the details from the canonical URL. In fact, if you add a ‘like’ button on a page that has a canonical pointing elsewhere, it will show the like count for the canonical URL, not for the current URL. Twitter works in the same way.

Advanced uses of rel=canonical
Canonical link HTTP header

Google also supports a canonical link HTTP header. The header looks like this:

Link: <http://www.example.com/white-paper.pdf>;
rel=”canonical”

Canonical link HTTP headers can be very useful when canonicalizing files like PDFs, so it’s good to know that the option exists.

Using rel=canonical on not so similar pages

While I wouldn’t recommend this, you can definitely use rel=canonical very aggressively. Google honors it to an almost ridiculous extent, where you can canonicalize a very different piece of content to another piece of content. However, if Google catches you doing this, it will stop trusting your site’s canonicals and thus cause you more harm…

Using rel=canonical in combination with hreflang

We also talk about canonical in our ultimate guide to hreflang. That’s because it’s very important that when you use hreflang, each language’s canonical points to itself. Make sure that you understand how to use canonical well when you’re implementing hreflang, as otherwise you might kill your entire hreflang implementation.

Conclusion: rel=canonical is a power tool

Rel=canonical is a powerful tool in an SEO’s toolbox, but like any power tool, you should use it wisely as it’s easy to cut yourself. For larger sites, the process of canonicalization can be very important and lead to major SEO improvements.

Read more: Duplicate content: causes and solutions »

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Ask Yoast: Geotargeting and SEO

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Ask Yoast: Geotargeting and SEO

Ask Yoast: Geotargeting and SEO

Geotargeting is when you serve a user content, based on their location. There are several ways to determine where a user is located, for example by checking IP-address, device ID or even using GPS. It can be beneficial to present your user content that’s customized for their locale, for instance using familiar imagery.

Still, it pays off to give some thought to the implications for your site’s SEO if you start using geotargeting. And of course, make sure you don’t go through all this trouble, without properly implementing everything!

Rufino emailed us his question on the subject:

“We’re considering using a geotargeting tool on our WordPress site, in which images and content on the landing page will change based on the city the person viewing is located. How will doing this impact SEO?”

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

Changing content based on the location of your visitors

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$199 – Buy now » Info“Well, to be honest, even if a lot of this stuff on the page changes, Google always comes from Mountain View, California. That’s what it will report. So, that’s the only version that will be in the search results if all those changes are being shown everywhere.

If content really changes then I would suggest changing the URL and doing an hreflang implementation. If it’s just images, you don’t need to worry as much. But if it’s really content that’s changing, then you should probably look at our Multilingual SEO Course and look at how Hreflang works and what you can do about that. Good luck.”

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Perhaps we can help you out! 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: hreflang: the ultimate guide »

The post Ask Yoast: Geotargeting and SEO appeared first on Yoast.

DIY WordPress SEO Audit Inventory

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in Greg's SEO Articles | Comments Off on DIY WordPress SEO Audit Inventory

If you are a site owner, you know the importance of keeping up with the changes in online technology so that your site will maintain and improve its rank in Google. The many major Google algorithm updates that have been implemented by Google over the past few years have greatly affected the rankings and status of many websites.

WordPress is unique because it has its internal server, but you still need to get your site noticed with SEO and other techniques so that you will get new views and traffic while maintaining your current visitor base.

How do you maintain your rankings?

If you have a website on the WordPress platform, you need to know how to maintain your rankings and to use search engine optimization techniques to improve your rankings. The answer is an audit inventory.

Performing a site audit is a method of testing your site for discrepancies, technical mistakes, and other issues that might affect your rankings in the search engines. Jeanine Krzyzanowski, director of link building strategies, stated, “Conducting an audit is key for every business.” (Rogeracuna.com)

Krzyzanowski believes that audits are essential because of the increasing level of sophistication of Google’s algorithm updates and emerging technologies. By conducting a review of your search engine optimization techniques and language, you can troubleshoot problems and fix what is wrong before it starts to affect your search results.

What does Google want?

At the most basic level, Google still wants valuable, useful content, according to Google executives. We have seen this stated in many of their previous algorithm updates in which they stated that sound relevant content is the most important element of smart content marketing.

What should your audit look for?

When performing an audit of your optimization factors, you should focus on everything that the search engines might pick up as a potential problem. This can include the technical layout of your pages, your navigation, backlinks, general content, and social media connections, to name a few.

Think of an audit inventory as a type of x-ray of your page that can see through your web pages to the backlinks, framework, and keywords and analyze all of it to reveal what the potential obstacles are.

How to Conduct an Audit (Manually)

If you are a WP site owner and don’t have a professional to conduct your site audit, you can do it yourself manually. Just make sure and include all of the following elements so that you will know what is amiss with your site so you can make the changes you need.

Page Content: Checking for Quality

Before you get into the technical aspects of your site that the search engines pick up, you’ll want to check on the general quality of your site content. This includes checking the content of every page, not just your main page since Google crawls every single page on your site separately.

Look for content that has a clearly-defined focus. Weed out content that is too wordy or that does not follow grammatical or spelling rules. It doesn’t have to be APA style or based on academic prose. But it should be free of any apparent errors that detract from the quality of your content. There should also be a clear sales funnel if you are presenting information about products and services and you should have a clear call-to-action that incites the visitor to action.

HTML and URLs

Once you have “audited” the content of your site, you will need to start looking at the more technical aspects. Check your HTML to make sure you have title tags, headings, and image tags that will be picked up by the search engines. If you are using visual search, you will need to make sure your image titles make good use of your keywords that you have used in other places within your site. This will increase your results in the searches and improve your SEO.

While you are working on the HTML aspect of your site, test for “bad links” or links that do not lead to relevant content. Google has strict standards on what they expect regarding backlinks, and this includes links that are relevant to your main site content.

Spend some time with your title tag to make sure it has a unique name with some of the keywords that you have used within your page. Your HTML title page is one of the main things Google picks up on during a search for your keywords. It tells the bots what your page is about.

Work on image optimization

When auditing your site, don’t forget to pay attention to your images. Keep image file sizes at a minimum, keeping in mind the platform you are placing them on for best quality and to slow download times. You should also use static URLs to avoid confusion in rendering results.

Avoid Duplicate Content

Most site owners understand the importance of having original content. But don’t forget that even small blocks of text within your site housing duplicate content can make it hard to rank your page. Also, you could get cited for copyright infringement if you are using content from other pages without permission.

The Need for Speed

During your DIY technical audit, you should also consider how long it takes your page to load. Slow page load time is one of the biggest factors in bounce rates of your main page. So you need to make sure your page is not so slow that it discourages visitors from spending time on your site. You can use Google’s PageSpeed Tool to check your site’s speed.

Checking your site on multiple devices

Don’t forget to check your site load times, images, HTML behavior, and other factors on more than one type of device. Remember that you do not know where your customers are going to come from or what type of device they will be using. So it’s a good idea to test it on both desktop and mobile devices, as well as different browsers to see how different visitors might engage with your site.

Crawlability

Remember that Google crawls and indexes every page in your website. You should utilize tools like Google Webmaster Tools to see how many pages are being currently indexed by Google.

Knowing your competitors

If you are going to get a leg up on your competition, you need to know what techniques they are using and how they are ranking, as well. You can use tools such as Majestic or SpyFu to get an idea of how they are doing in the rankings and which keywords they are using.

By the way, Majestic is a great tool to use for your site when performing the DIY audit of your website or to spy on your competitors, as well.

Usability and Design

The most important component of your DIY audit should be to focus on the degree of usability and design that your site possesses. This is sometimes referred to as “UX” meaning “the user experience.” You need the overall user experience to be excellent because keeping your on-site visitors happy is the key to your success as a site owner.

Bringing it All Together

Go through our checklist of DIY audit components and check them off one at a time. By the time you get to the bottom of the list, you may be surprised at the results you get. In case you missed it, you can try out this automatic audit at the Majestic site to get an idea of how the bots are currently crawling your site. You’ll learn a lot about how the search engines see your site, and this will give you an idea of how to improve upon it.

But to be thorough in your audit, try to do this manually at least once in awhile as this will allow you to dig down deep into the inner workings of your site and see what you need to focus on to improve things for the best UX and customer experience.

The Mobile-Friendly Test

Don’t forget the mobile-friendly test when testing the optimization of your website. Whether your site is on WP or any other server, you need to make sure it is ready for mobile customers. Google has placed just as much importance on this factor as they have in creating high-quality content in recent algorithm updates.

Finally, use common sense and pretend to be the visitor to your site. Look for image issues, load times, and other factors. What do you honestly think of your page? How easy is it to find your site when you type in the keywords you’ve chosen to rank for? Answering these questions while performing regular audits for the search engines will guarantee that your rankings will improve over time and you’ll be the winner in the end.

SEO Training Guide: Top Free and Paid SEO Training Courses (Updated 2018)

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on SEO Training Guide: Top Free and Paid SEO Training Courses (Updated 2018)

SEO Training Guide: Top Free and Paid SEO Training Courses (Updated 2018)

In the past, when I was still new to the concept of SEO, I would ask my tech-savvy friends for advice regarding what to do with my website.

Back then, I barely knew anything about SEO and I’ve always thought that it’s especially hard to find the most profitable keywords for my content because chances are, those keywords are probably the exact same keywords that my competitors are already working on.

My friends wouldn’t really mind me asking questions from time to time. But when my desire for SEO learning intensified, these infrequent queries became a barrage of inquiries.

That’s probably the point when one of these friends got fed up and talked to me straight. He basically said that in this day and age, learning is very easy. There are countless ways to find out how to do things and there are so many tools anyone can use for free.

He was probably annoyed at that point because he said something “You should really try to be more resourceful. You’d need that if you want to make something out of internet marketing.”

I realized, he did have a point. I knew I needed to learn. I wanted to learn! So I decided to go online and find informative materials regarding SEO.

Best SEO Training Courses (Free and Paid)

To my surprise, I found some in just a few clicks. There were even a few websites offering SEO courses. I tried and enrolled in many of these SEO programs.

And of the many SEO courses available today online, I would like to share with you those that I believe to be the most useful and convenient.

The Complete SEO Course (by Reliablesoft)
Google Digital Garage
Google SEO Starter Guide
SEO Training Course (by Moz)
Yoast SEO Training Courses
Coursera SEO Courses
Advanced Guide to SEO (by Neil Patel)
Search Engine Land SEO Guide
WordStream SEO Guide
Serpstat Academy
How Search Works (Google)

The Complete SEO Course
The Complete SEO Course

This course was developed by Reliablesoft. It includes 16 lessons which are subdivided further into several lessons.

It tackles everything SEO-related starting from the basics, then advancing to more complex SEO lessons like conversion optimization, HTTPS and SSL.

Different from most online SEO courses, this program includes actionable tips and checklist in order to quickly translate theoretical learnings into action.

Additionally, the case studies provided give you security and confidence that the lessons that are being taught are effective.

And because the online world is dynamic, The Complete SEO Course regularly updates its contents. This is to account for new trends and improved SEO practices.

Enrolling in The Complete SEO Course gives you lifetime access and free updates.

Included in this are lifetime access to all the courses offered, permission to download contents, and SEO course certification.

Google Digital Garage
Digital Garage Courses by Google

Google Digital Garage offers courses on SEO and other digital marketing aspects. Anyone, regardless of skill level, background, or personal objectives can take the course.

The first recommended step in the whole course is taking a diagnostic exam to assess your digital marketing knowledge.

Subsequently, based on the exam’s result, you can create a lesson plan on the different topics of the course.

Alternatively, you can always skip these steps and just jump into exploring the different topics listed in the Library section of the website.

You will learn the lessons provided by Google Digital Garage through watching video tutorial. Moreover, when needed, they can also provide a tailored learning plan that suits your needs.

After finishing a particular lesson, you will be able to take the multiple choice exam covering the discussed topics.

If you pass, you will be awarded a badge. Additionally, after finishing the entire course, you will also be given a certificate of completion.

Google Digital Garage is free for anyone.

All you have to do to start the course is create an account.

Google SEO Starter Guide
SEO Starter Guide by Google

The Google SEO Starter Guide is a free manual that covers all the basic and most important aspects of SEO. It is meant for beginners who want to promote their own website content.

As a manual, the guide just presents information that you will find helpful regarding your SEO ventures. It does not provide feedbacks, certifications, or actual application assessments.

The Google SEO Starter Guide is comprehensive. It covers in detail the fundamental aspects of SEO like getting to know related SEO terms.

It then advances to teaching more complicated lessons including addition of structured data markup, using of breadcrumb lists, and optimizing for mobile usage.

Finally, when you are ready, it also shows how to perform website analytics including analysis of search performance and monitoring of user behavior on site.

SEO Training Course by Moz
SEO Training by Moz

This course was developed by Moz, a leading developer of software for digital marketing. Their experience in the field makes this training course not only credible but also extremely effective.

This free SEO training program is video-based. After signing up and enrolling to the course, you will gain a full lifetime access to over three hours of SEO tutorial content.

The program focuses on enhancing both the internal and external factors that may affect a website’s search engine rankings as well as traffic generation.

Although many parts of the course are theoretical, some topics also involve a step-by-step implementation guide. This makes learning easier for beginners.

The curriculum is broken down into seven general categories, and each category contains several lessons. After all the lessons are learned, you will receive a certificate of completion from the company.

Yoast SEO Training Course
Yoast SEO Training

Yoast SEO training course is a complete learning program in terms of scope. Some of the offered courses include essential SEO courses like basic SEO, and SEO copywriting training.

Additionally, more specific and specialized courses like SEO for WordPress, multilingual SEO training, and structured data training are also available.

Enrolling in the program will give you access to several hours’ worth of video tutorials. Supplementary PDF files are also handed out to make learning easier.

Quizzes in every lesson also assess you to make sure that you understand all vital information that is taught.

To enroll, you will have to pay $39 – $199 depending on the particular course chosen. If you are interested to learn everything, there is also an all-in-one package for $699. Included in this are all of the 6 SEO courses offered by Yoast, and the opportunity to save $185.

Coursera SEO Specialization
SEO Course by Coursera

When it comes to bare SEO knowledge, the SEO Specialization of Coursera is the king. It focuses on you finding the most profitable keywords and ranking high in search engines alone. As a beginner’s crash course, it does not include other more technical SEO strategies.

The whole SEO Specialization course is further subdivided into six courses and multiple lessons. Learning is based on three different methods: reading, video viewing, and peer review.

Aside from these, projects and assignments are also given out to assess your performance as well as to help you execute the skills you have gained.

When you have passed all projects and assignments, you will be awarded a certificate as proof that you have completed the specialization.

Enrolling in Coursera SEO Specialization will require you to pay a minimal amount. After enrolling, you will be given a limited trial period so you can know if the course is suitable for you.

If you feel that it is not, you can refund your payment as long as you unsubscribe before the trial period expires.

However, if you have no money but still would like to learn, you can apply for their financial aid in order to take the course free of charge.

The Advanced Guide to SEO by Neil Patel
Neil Patel SEO Guide

As its name implies, this SEO guide is intended for the more advanced learners. As a prerequisite of the course, it is better for you to read the guide if you have already mastered the fundamentals of SEO.

The guide includes nine chapters of extensive and detailed SEO techniques. Some of the chapters include indexation and accessibility, advanced data research, and link building techniques.

Different from other online SEO courses, The Advanced Guide to SEO is made entirely of Infographics. By combining short texts with easily-comprehensible images, you will be able to reach the desired objectives easily. Moreover, SEO technique execution will be much easier since examples are shown.

This guide is free to read online. However, there are no tests or certifications to be given.

Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO
Search Engine Land SEO Guide

The Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO is composed of nine chapters of SEO lessons. The course follows the Periodic Table of SEO Success Factors, which is like the Periodic Table of Elements, only modified to show proper SEO strategies.

The lessons in this guide focuses on choosing the most reliable keywords and combining them with signals or those other factors that award a website high rankings in search engines.

Aside from theoretical learning, tips and tutorial on technique execution is also provided by the guide.

Search Engine Land’s Guide to SEO is also free to read online. To be able to download the whole content, email subscription is required.

WordStream’s SEO Basics
WordStream SEO Guide

This guide is not an extensive one. It just covers the basics of SEO and a few advanced lessons like information architecture, and international and local SEO techniques.

Although the guide is essentially just like an article or blog entry, it contains eight different chapters. Each chapter is not very detailed but lengthy enough to show the main points of the lesson.

Additionally, images, Infographics, and screenshots are also supplemented to make the lessons more understandable.

The free guide can be viewed through WordStream. No registration or subscription is required for this course.

Serpstat Academy
Serpstat SEO Training

Serpstat Academy provides learning designed for both beginners and advanced learners. In here, you may choose from several courses based on your learning objectives and skill level.

The primary course for beginners is called Basic Information About Keywords, while the more advanced courses include Backlink Analysis, and Advance Competitor Research.

Aside from the education itself, you may find Serpstat useful because it is also an all-in-one SEO platform. This means you can immediately start working on your project while attending the class.

But if that is not desired, Serpstat will still serve as a training ground because all SEO tools are generally all the same in terms of usage.

To enroll in one of Serpstat’s SEO courses, you must first provide your email address and create an account. All the courses in Serpstat Academy are free of charge.

When you have finished all SEO courses, you can take an online quiz to gain Serpstat certification.

How Search Works
How Search Works by Google

How Search Works is not your typical online SEO course. In here, you will not learn about techniques to promote your website.

Instead, you will know about the basic algorithms behind Google’s search results and ranking methods.

The entire guide is composed of three sections: crawling and indexing, search algorithms, and useful responses.

Like what is stated above, How Search Works does not give practical tips on improving your website’s search rankings.

But still, this is a relevant guide not only because google search is the most used search engine in the world, but also because the topics discussed here are the foundation wherein the practical SEO techniques are based upon.

By learning the concepts discussed in this guide, you will have a clearer understanding regarding the more executable SEO strategies.

If you really want to strengthen your SEO knowledge, you should definitely read this guide. This guide is available to read online for free.

Over to You

Like what my friend have said to me before, learning nowadays is easy. And if I may add, with the unlimited online resources today, there really is no excuse to be ignorant.

If you are reading this, it’s not a stretch to say that you want to learn proper SEO techniques. Whether for online marketing, brand promotion, or just for increasing audience traffic, it is not a good idea to just rely on luck and chance.

To know the most profitable keywords and overall improve yourself and your website, you must be willing to take the necessary steps. We can’t just depend on shortcuts.

You can learn SEO. You only need to take the first step. Read up, enroll in online courses, the move is yours to make.

You must remember that the first steps are usually the hardest to take. I am sure that you will be able to see the difference not too long after.

As a parting gesture, I leave the floor up to you.

Which SEO course are you using to grow your business?

Please feel free to chime in on the comments section below.

The post SEO Training Guide: Top Free and Paid SEO Training Courses (Updated 2018) appeared first on reliablesoft.net.

Anchor Text Guide for 2018

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Anchor Text Guide for 2018

Anchor Text Guide for 2018

What is anchor text and how do you use it?

Don’t worry! This guide will show you how to use anchor text so that you can maximize your SEO results.

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Let’s jump right in:

Table of Contents

What is Anchor Text?
Anchor Text Before Penguin
10 Different Types of Anchor Text
Co-Occurrence: Build Relevancy Without Exact Match Anchors
Anchor Text Percentages
Anchor Text Cycling
Anchor Text Placement
Anchor Text Distribution for EMDs & PMDs
How to Fix Over-Optimized Anchor Text

What is Anchor Text?

Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link.

Here’s how anchor text looks in HTML:

Why Does It Matter?

It will always “matter” as long as backlinks matter. Prior to the Penguin update in 2012, anchor text was one of the easiest ways for Google to understand the relevancy of any given website.

Now, it is one of the best ways for Google to penalize spam and over-optimization.

Does this mean anchor text is becoming meaningless? Not in the slightest.

I’m willing to go out on a limb and say that it’s even stronger than it was before… (when it’s used the way I’m going to show you).

Anchor Text Before Penguin

Before the first Penguin update, you could go absolutely buck wild with your anchor text.

You could use 100% exact match anchors for all of your backlinks and you would rank.

It was like stealing candy from a baby, and that’s why Google had to make a change.

That change was the Penguin update.

Anchor Text After Penguin

The first Penguin update in 2012 changed the link building game forever.

Penguin targeted any website that was blatantly doing low-quality, artificial, or spammy link building in an effort to “game” the search engine.

How did they determine if a website is building artificial backlinks or using spam to rank?

Simple.

ANCHOR TEXT.

Why, might you ask?

Because a normal website should not have 100% of its backlinks with the anchor text “Payday Loans”.

You need to understand how Penguin analyzes anchor text and how it determines whether a site should be penalized or not.

I promise you, it’s not complicated, but it is CRITICAL that you understand so your site doesn’t get penalized.

Here’s exactly how Penguin works:

You build a backlink
Google indexes the backlink
Google places this new backlink into its database for your specific website, also known as your “link profile”
Steps 1-3 are repeated over and over, and now you have a “link profile” that the algorithm can analyze

Now, this is where the real magic happens:
The algorithm analyzes your link profile and compares it to your on-site keyword optimization.

If your on-page content is optimized for “Payday Loans” and 100% of your anchors are “Payday Loans”, then you will get a penalty.

That’s because it’s very easy for Google’s algorithm to see that you are:
A) trying to rank for “Payday Loans”
B) you are building links artificially

Exact match anchor text + keyword-rich optimization = Penguin penalty

So, how do you avoid getting penalized?

You need to understand HOW and WHEN to use your keyword-rich anchors.

You will be learning about this in the following sections.

10 Different Types of Anchor Text

In order to create a “natural” anchor text profile, you need to understand all the different types of anchors.

Branded Anchors

“Branded” anchors are any anchor that uses your brand name in it. Here are some examples:

Sentence sample: “Over at GOTCH SEO you can learn search engine optimization.”

Branded anchors are the safest type of anchor text if you have a branded domain. If you have an exact match domain, they aren’t too safe. I will explain this more in a later section.

To see the power of “branded” anchors, simply look at any big brand’s link profile.

Here are some examples for you:

1. Nordstrom

2. Best Buy

3. WebMD

These screenshots are from Ahrefs. Here’s how you can optimize your anchor text using Ahrefs:

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Generic Anchors

“Generic” anchors are typically calls-to-action (CTAs) like:

In a sentence: “Go here if you are looking for SEO information.” – “Go here” is the generic anchor text.

Naked Link Anchors

Any anchor that use a raw URL is considered a “naked” link. Here are some examples:

No Anchor Trick

This is a tricky little strategy I see big brands doing.

Whether purposefully or not, it’s a good idea. Here’s what it looks like:

What’s a better way to diversify your anchor profile, then not having ANY words at all?

The easiest way to build “noText” anchors is through images, or you can simply “forget” to include an anchor within an article, which will have a similar effect.

Image Anchors

Throw in some image links with your campaigns because it’s a great way to diversify your profile.

Google uses the “ALT” tag as the anchor text in an image.

If you leave this blank, you will get a “noText” anchor like I mentioned above.

Brand + Keyword Anchor

This is another great way to stay “safe” and to build a diverse, natural anchor profile.

I’ll use “Gotch SEO” as the brand and my target keyword as “link building”.

The anchor text would look like this:

You are simply combining your target keyword with your brand.

LSI Anchors

“LSI” is the acronym for “Latent Semantic Indexing”.

It really just means variations of your main keyword.

So, if I’m targeting “backlinks”, then some LSI keywords would be:

Finding LSI keywords is super easy.

Just enter your keyword into, scroll to the bottom, and you’ll see the ideas:

Partial-Match Anchors

Partial matches are very similar to LSIs. The big difference is that you are creating the anchor text variation instead of using a tool.

Here are some examples for target keyword “anchor text”:

I use partial-match anchors often because it’s a very natural way of linking to another website.

Exact Match Anchors

Exact match anchors are the king of all anchor text.

They have the power to increase your rankings, but also have the power to land you a penalty.

An exact match anchor is the exact match of whatever your target keyword is for the target page.

Example: if “buy backlinks” is my target keyword, then my exact match anchor would be “buy backlinks“.

Co-Occurrence: Build Relevancy Without Exact Match Anchors

Before I jump into percentages, you need to have a firm understanding of co-occurrence.

Don’t feel intimidated by this nerdy terminology. It’s actually really simple.

Since you won’t be using a ton of keyword-rich anchor text, you will need a way to create relevancy for your links.

Remember:

Relevancy is king in link building.

To get the “co-occurrence” effect, you are going to place your target keyword somewhere around your anchor text.

It’s best to place your target keyword as close to the anchor as possible.

It doesn’t HAVE to be, but it is ideal.

Always value doing what’s natural over doing what could be deemed as “spammy” or “manipulative”.

Sample #1: Generic Anchor

Target Keyword: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “go here”

“If you are looking for more information about anchor text go here right away.”

Sample #2: Branded Anchor

Target Keyword: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “Gotch SEO”

“Anchor text is the visible and clickable text in a link. For more in-depth information you should read this article from Gotch SEO.”

Sample #3: Naked Link

Target Keyword: “anchor text”
Anchor Text: “https://www.gotchseo.com/anchor-text/”

“For more in-depth information about anchor text I highly recommend this article: https://www.gotchseo.com/anchor-text/.”

Place Your Anchor Text in Super Relevant Content

Below, I’ve given you a few different examples of the types of content I would use for link building purposes. The better the relevancy of your article to your target keyword, the higher you will rank.

Keyword: “anchor text”

Instead of writing a broader article about link building, you would actually write articles specifically about anchor text. The tighter the relevancy of the linking article, the stronger your link.

Keyword: “New York personal injury lawyer”

You would write an article like “How to Find a Reputable Personal Injury Lawyer in New York” instead of a generic article about personal injury.

Keyword: “garcinia cambogia”

Instead of writing an article about health or weight loss, you would write an article like “10 Garcinia Cambogia Scams to Watch Out For”.

Last Word on Co-Occurrence

Surround your links with highly relevant content to increase their power.

Google is fully capable of understanding the relevancy of a link without you needing to shove hundreds of exact match anchors in its face.

Now it’s time to learn the exact anchor text percentages you need to use to drive results and keep your site safe from penalties.

Anchor Text Percentages

Now that you have a firm understanding of all the different anchor text you can use, I’m going to show you the anchor text percentages that will keep your websites safe through every Penguin update.

Keep in mind:

These percentages are what work for me.

Always test your own techniques and play with the percentages.

Branded Anchor Text: 70%

Google wants you to create a brand.

Not a fly-by-night operation.

One of the easiest ways for them to differentiate between a “brand” and a spam website is to look at the amount of branded anchors hitting the site.

In the next section, I’m going to show you the best platforms for getting quality branded links.

Naked Links: 20%

As I mentioned above, naked links are a very safe and a very natural anchor text. The bulk of your backlinks should be using naked links.

Generic Anchors: 5%

Generic anchors keep your link profile looking “natural” and are a necessity. Try not to use “click here” for every single one. You can pretty much use any word in the English language that isn’t related to your keyword, and it will be considered generic.

LSI, Partial Match Anchors: 1-5%

Okay, so after branded, naked, and generic anchors, you are left with around 5% leeway for keyword-rich anchors.

The majority of the last 5% anchors should be variations of your main keyword.

Exact Match Anchors Text: Less Than 1%

I use exact match anchor text as a LAST resort, not a first option.

Keep one important fact in mind:

The less exact match anchor text you use, the more powerful it becomes.

Also remember that assigning a distribution percentage to exact match anchor text is a very, very, VERY dangerous idea!

I want you to think about this for a second:

Let’s say we take the 5% exact match anchor text ratio that some SEOs recommend and do a little math:

Website A: 100 backlinks = 5 exact match anchors
This is definitely possible and generally would not put your site at risk.

Website B: 1,000 backlinks = 50 exact match anchors
The possibility of 50 different websites linking to your page with the same exact anchor text is pretty unlikely.

Website C: 10,000 backlinks = 500 exact match anchors
Obviously this isn’t possible and your page or website would get drilled by Penguin.

Now do you see why assigning a percentage to exact match anchors is a bad idea?

There is some good news for you:

The technique I’m about to show you is WAY more effective then drilling your site with exact match anchors.

Let me introduce you to anchor text cycling.

Anchor Text Cycling: More Rankings With Fewer Backlinks

Anchor text cycling works like this:

Step 1: Hit your target page with an exact match anchor

Step 2: Hit your site with unoptimized anchor text variations

Step 3: Track your rankings and watch the progress

Step 4: Hit your site with another exact match anchor (if necessary)

Here’s a visual example:

If you follow this process correctly and your content is strong, then you likely won’t need many exact match anchors.

The point of anchor text cycling is to spread your exact match anchors out over the course of months.

This is much more natural.

Here’s a scenario:

Let’s say you have a brand new website with a fresh link profile (fresh = no backlinks built).

The first thing you would do is hit the target page with a strong, relevant link with an exact match anchor.

You might be wondering: “Isn’t it dangerous to hit a brand new website with an exact match anchor?”

Negative.

No one in history has ever been penalized for one link. You can quote me on that.

Sites get penalized for their overall link profiles, not one or two links.

It’s like saying eating McDonalds one time is the reason why someone is overweight.

We know that it’s the combined effect of a bad diet over a period of time that leads to obesity.

The same goes for your link profile!

Repeatedly building over-optimized, spammy backlinks over time will lead to a penalty.

Now that I got the weird analogy out of the way…

Why do I use an exact match anchor for my first backlink?

A) I want to see how the site reacts

B) I want to establish what my site or the target page is about right away

Don’t forget!:

It doesn’t take a ton of backlinks to rank for most keywords.

Always focus on quality over quantity when it comes to link acquisition.

The smarter you are with anchor text, the fewer links you will need to rank.

After I hit the site with an exact match anchor, then I begin the process of cycling.

In the excel file, there will be a few examples of how I would cycle through anchors with a branded site, an EMD, and partial match website.

The entire point of using anchor cycling is to build a diverse and natural link profile.

Do you want to know the secret to a having a “natural” anchor profile?

The answer:

Be completely random and avoid patterns.

Take a look at these two examples:

Site #1 is the typical link profile you will see when someone is using automated link building tools. Or when someone has no idea what they’re doing.

Google’s algorithm can easily conclude that this site is building links artificially. A manual reviewer wouldn’t even be necessary.

Site #2 has a natural and diverse anchor profile.

It will outrank Site #1 with fewer backlinks and less keyword-rich anchor text.

This of course assumes that Site #2 has relevant, high-quality links.

It doesn’t matter whether you are doing black, grey, or white hat SEO, this concept still applies to you.

Now that you understand how to cycle your anchors, let me show you WHERE to place your anchors.

Laser-Targeted Anchor Text Placement

If you understand what I’m about to show you, you will be 99.9% safe from any Google updates.

Understanding WHERE to place your anchor text is absolutely critical to the success of your link building campaign.

Many SEOs immediately stop using a link building platform once it’s been devalued by Google.

This is the wrong approach.

The only reason why certain platforms such as article directories, web directories, and press releases have been “devalued” is because of people using commercial anchor text trying to “game” the search engine.

Many of these “devalued” properties are still very good sources for sending authority and trust to your website as long as you use the right anchor text.

Below, I’m going to show you every type of backlink along with what anchor text you should use.

“Power” Backlinks

“Power” links are any links that can have a big impact on your keyword rankings. These are the link types where you should concentrate your keyword-rich anchor text.

Editorial Links

An editorial backlink is a link placed in content “naturally” on a relevant website. These links take lots of time to acquire and sometimes require investment. Do not put your time and money to waste by using an unoptimized anchor! Editorial links are your opportunity to use an exact match or partial match anchor.

Niche Relevant Guest Posts

Sites that allow guest posts will typically let you leave a backlink in the author bio box. You should use unoptimized anchors for author bios because Google has cracked down on guest posts. If the site allows you to link within the body of the content, then make sure you drop a keyword-rich anchor.

Resource Pages

Quality resource pages will either allow branded anchors or the title of the resource. If you are linking to a content resource on your site, you should use the title of the page.

For example, if this article you are reading was placed on an “SEO resources” page, I would use “Official Anchor Text Guide (With Proven & Tested Strategies)” as the anchor text.

This is considered a partial match anchor.

Private Blog Networks (PBNs)

I don’t mess around with PBNs too much anymore, but you should use exact and partial match anchors. You invested money to buy the expired domain, so you should try to get the most out of it.

301 Redirects

If you are a beginner, then I do not recommend messing with 301s quite yet. As you may or may not know, 301 redirects are basically like stealing rankings in Google. In a flash, your site can transform from a weak new website, to an authoritative one overnight.

If you didn’t know, a 301 redirect is a permanent redirect of a website. With a 301, a large majority (not all) of the authority is transferred to the new domain.

So, why am I telling you this? Because one thing that many people do not take into account, is that the 301 will also transfer the anchor text from the redirected domain.

This means, if the redirected domain has a spammy anchor profile, it WILL transfer to your new website. It also means, if the redirected domain was penalized for over-optimized anchor text, there is a good chance that it will transfer to the new website.

There are some ways to avoid this.

Option #1: Make sure the new website has a good amount of unoptimized anchor text BEFORE you hit the site with the 301 redirect.

Option #2: Build unoptimized anchors to the domain that will be redirected if the anchors are too aggressive.

I recommend combining both options to make sure your new site stays safe.

Foundational Links

“Foundational” links are backlinks designed to “dilute” your anchor text profile and increase your site’s trust.

That means you should not use ANY keyword-rich anchors for the following link types:

Paid Directories
Traditional Directories
Business Citations
Press Releases
Niche Relevant Blog Comments
Branded Web 2.0s
Forum Signatures
Sidebar/Footer Links
Profile Links
Social Bookmarks
Donations/Sponsorships

The only anchor text that should ever be used on foundational links are naked, branded, and generic anchor text.

Tier Two and Three Anchor Text

Figuring out anchor text on tier one is hard enough, but what about tier two and three?

Fortunately, the percentages aren’t as strict.

Before I explain, you need to know what “tiered” links are:

Tier One = The backlinks directly hitting your website
Tier Two = The backlinks directly hitting your tier one
Tier Three = The backlinks directly hitting your tier two

Tier Three -> Tier Two -> Tier One -> Your Website

Since these links aren’t hitting your site directly, you can be a little more aggressive, but don’t go too crazy.

Here’s how your tier two anchor ratios should typically look:

Naked links: 40%
Generic: 30%
LSI, Partial-Match: 25%
Exact Match: 5%

To see what backlinks are best for tier two read this guide.

Just like your tier one, you are using your keyword-based anchors only with your most powerful links and saving the foundational links for diversity.

I typically don’t build a tier three, but if you decide to, you can go pretty crazy with anchor text.

When I do use tier three, here’s how I do it:

Naked links: 10%
Generic: 10%
LSI, Partial-Match: 50%
Exact Match: 30%

EMDs, PMDs: Avoid Like the Plague (If You Are a Beginner)

First, let’s make sure we understand what “EMD” and “PMD” actually mean.

Exact Match Domain (EMD): a domain that is an exact match of your target keyword.

Example: if my target keyword is “anchor text”, then my exact match domain would be “anchortext.com”, “anchortext.net”, etc.

Partial Match Domain (PMD): a domain with part of the keyword or a domain with the keyword, but also with filler words.

Example: if my target keyword is “anchor text”, then two different PMDs could be “anchortextbible.com” or “theanchorbible.com”.

Why should you avoid these types of domains if you are an SEO / link building beginner?

Answer: EMDs are very susceptible to over-optimization penalties.

PMDs aren’t as dangerous, but in inexperienced hands, could trigger a penalty.

Now the real question:

Are EMDs or PMDs even worth it?

Most SEOs who follow the Google propaganda would say they are “dead”. This is mainly because of the EMD update in September 2012.

Those SEOs are partially right.

LOW-QUALITY exact match domains with thin content, low-quality links, and over-optimized anchor text are definitely dead.

All the percentages I’ve shown earlier in this guide, are suited for branded domains.

For EMDs the percentages will be slightly different.

Ratios for Exact Match Domains:

Naked Links: 70%
Generic: 20%
LSI: 5%
Partial Match: 1-5%
Branded / Exact Match Anchors: 1-5%

How to Fix Over-Optimized Anchor Text

If you have been hit by an algorithmic penalty, then it IS possible to get your rankings back if anchor text is the problem.

In my experience, over-optimized anchor text mixed with over-optimized on-page SEO is the perfect formula for getting your website hit by Penguin.

There is a lot of evidence that both Google Panda and Penguin work together when analyzing a website.

Both algorithms analyze different factors, collect and pool data, recognize spammy patterns, and then penalize a site.

Example:

The good news is that both of these problems are pretty easy to fix.

Although this guide is dedicated to anchor text, I will explain some quick on-site SEO tips that will help you recover from a penalty.

On-Page Changes for Penalty Recovery
Keyword Density

Typically the biggest issue stems from keyword density.

YES, keyword density DOES matter.

Stuffing a page with the same keyword over and over will set you up for a penalty.

Go back to the section “How Penguin Works” to understand why this happens.

Obviously, the first plan of action is for you to fix your keyword density.

If you want to rank a particular page, you don’t need to go crazy with stuffing keywords.

Place your target keyword in these critical spots on your page:

Title
First sentence
ALT tag of first image
First H1 or H2 tag (you can use a variation of the keyword here)
Last sentence

Assuming your article is longer than 600 words, your density will probably be 1% or less.

This is ideal.

You can go as high as 3%, but I don’t recommend higher if you are looking for long-term rankings.

If you are having trouble keeping your percentages low, then you need to use variations of the main keyword.

Not only will this keep you safe, but it will actually help your page rank for variations of your keyword.

Keyword Dilution

Many people don’t take this one into account, but it can really hurt your rankings.

Keyword “dilution” is when you are trying to rank more than one page for the same or very closely related keywords.

For example, if my homepage was targeting “Los Angeles Personal Injury Law Firm”, and I had a subpage targeting “LA Personal Injury Law Lawyer”, Google would then choose which page it thinks is most relevant to the searchers.

At the same time, whatever page it chooses will decrease in value because it’s a spammy on-page tactic whether it’s on purpose or not.

Keyword dilution confuses Google because it won’t know what page to prioritize.

A confused Google = no search engine visibility

This problem can be solved very easily:

Target only ONE page for your keywords: after the Hummingbird update, Google is very good at ranking pages for many variations of the same keyword. If you are targeting “Los Angeles personal injury lawyer” and you use the anchor text strategies in this book, your page will rank for all variations of that keyword such as “LA personal injury attorney”, “personal injury lawyer in Los Angeles”, etc.
If you decide to keep an inner page for targeting your keyword, then change the META information on the duplicate page to avoid keyword dilution. If you are going to use the homepage to target your main keyword, then 301 redirect the other landing page to the homepage.

Backlink Strategies for Penalty Recovery

There are a few different link building techniques you can use to recover from a penalty.

Depending on the severity of the penalty, these tricks will work on the majority of penalized domains.

Keep in mind, my personal approach to penalties is to just start over with a fresh domain.

But if you are in love with your current site, the strategies below will help.

Should You Disavow?

I wanted to clear the air before I explain the strategies:

Disavowing is an absolute LAST resort, not the first.

The only time when you really need to use this tool is if your website was hit with negative SEO or it’s impossible to remove some of the links that you previously built.

You can recover from ALL algorithmic penalties without ever needing to use this tool. If you have a manual penalty, then it may be necessary (I’ll be addressing manual penalties after this section).

Remove Links With Commercial Anchor Text (From Spammy Sites)

As I discussed in the section about anchor text placement, you should only use commercial / keyword-rich anchor text on “power” link sources.

Please read How to Build Backlinks to see what types of links should be directly hitting your website.

If you made the unfortunate mistake of building backlinks on low-quality sources with keyword-rich anchors, then you have two options:

Go back and delete the links.
If you can’t delete the links, then disavow.

After you’ve done all you can do to remove keyword-rich anchors from spammy sources, then it’s time to jump into anchor text dilution.

Please notice that I said “spammy” sources.

Don’t go on a link-deleting spree because you will end up deleting links that are actually helping you.

Anchor Text Diluting

This is the most common technique and it does work in many cases.

All you are going to do is build unoptimized backlinks to your website with nothing but branded, generic, and naked link anchors.

Absolutely no keyword-rich anchors!

Use the “foundational” links I explained in the previous section to dilute your anchor text profile.

Before Penguin 3.0, you could counter over-optimized anchors by using the dilution technique.

Diluting still works, but there are some added factors now.

We have noticed, like the Micro Site Masters, that one important element of the penalties is a lack of GOOD links.

If you combine a low-quality link profile with lots of keyword-rich anchor text, then you are asking to be hit.

These are the links you should use to create a better anchor profile (in order of priority):

1.) Strong, Relevant Backlinks

These are the most costly, but are also the best for improving your overall link profile. Get as many as you can. Relevancy is king with or without a penalty. If you don’t want to put in the effort to get these links, then I recommend our new blogger outreach service.

2.) Business Directories / Local Citations

Take the time to create business listings because it’s a perfect way to send quality link unoptimized anchors to your site. This is an extremely time-consuming process, so I recommend you use our service to avoid wasting your precious time.

3.) LEGIT Social Profiles

Go out and build REAL social profiles for your website. Populate the profiles with your information, content, etc.

Only use the best sites: Twitter, Facebook, Google +, Tumblr, etc.

These sites will give you a nice mix of NoFollow and DoFollow unoptimized anchors and will build trust for your website.

4.) High-Quality Press Release Distribution

Create a quality press release and distribute it through a quality channel. Press releases are great for quickly getting unoptimized anchors from many different IPs. You will also build diversity in your link profile because of the NoFollow / DoFollow mix.

301 Penalty Recovery Trick

Remember in an earlier section when I said that anchor text travels through a 301 to the new website?

You are going to use this to your advantage to recover from an algorithmic penalty.

There are two variations of the 301 penalty recovery trick.

Variation #1
Expired Domain -> Penalized Domain

For the first variation, you will need to find a quality expired domain through a service like Freshdrop. Make sure the anchor profile is clean and has very little keyword-rich anchors.

Look for a domain with branded, generic, and naked link anchors or what some people may refer to as a “natural” anchor profile.

Although you are not necessary using this expired domain for ranking purposes, it’s not a bad idea to find one with solid metrics.

Preferably PA 30 +, DA 20 +, PR 2 +, and a Trust Flow of 10 +.

Also, if you can find a domain that is relevant to yours, it will work even better.

All that you are going to do now is 301 redirect the expired domain to your penalized site and track the results.

Variation #2
Links -> Penalized Site -> New Website

For variation two, you are going to start fresh with a new website, but you are going to piggyback off the authority of your penalized domain (hopefully it has some).

Step 1: Buy a new BRANDED website (avoid EMD, PMD)

Step 2: Build high-quality branded backlinks to your new website
Use business directories, quality paid directories, niche relevant blog comments, press releases, etc. Only use branded anchor text.

Step 3: Build unoptimized backlinks to your penalized domain
The goal is to decrease the percentage of keyword-rich anchors. The percentage all depends on the severity your particular situation. If you have 70% keyword-rich anchor text, then you will need to get that down to at least 30% or less. If you have 30% keyword-rich anchors, then you will want to get it down to 10% or less.

Step 4: Check your anchor profile with Ahrefs, Majestic, or Open Site Explorer.

Step 5: If you have cut your keyword-rich anchors in half, then it’s time to redirect your penalized site to the new domain.

This works because, A) you are using a new branded website with an established branded text anchor profile, B) you have improved the anchor profile of the penalized website, and C) you have transferred authority to a new domain.

What About Manual Penalties?

It’s less of a headache and much more cost-effective to just start a new website, than to try to get out of a manual penalty.

Like I always tell my clients, getting a manual penalty is like going to prison for a felony.

Although you may get out of prison one day, you are still always going to have the felony on your record.

Do you really think Google wipes the slate clean for a website that was previously given a manual penalty?

Even if you do get the penalty lifted, ranking your site will never be easy and it’s always going to feel like “something is holding you back”.

Changing Anchor Text: Red Flag?

I’ve heard this question a lot and I’ve actually done this many times.

The answer is: sometimes.

I know it’s an annoying answer.

If you want to raise a red flag, then change a non-keyword-rich anchor to a keyword-rich anchor. Google may or may not devalue a link when this happens, but it’s definitely not worth it.

Just leave the link how it is, and go acquire a link somewhere else.

Situations that won’t throw up a red flag:

1. Changing a keyword-rich anchor to a non-optimized anchor – going back and decreasing your amount of commercial anchor text can often increase your rankings. If your exact match anchors or keyword-rich anchors are above 25%, then you may want to consider unoptimizing some of those.

2. Deleting an anchor and placing it within a different part of the article – if you decide to change an anchor, you should always place the new one in a different part of the article. When you do this, it makes the anchor / link “new” in Google’s eyes.

You will be losing an aged link, but in theory, starting with a fresh link.

IMPORTANT: You should only change anchor text under extreme circumstances.

Most over-optimized anchor text issues can be solved with the techniques I listed in the penalty recovery section.

Number of Links + Brand Searches = ?

Although this has more to do with links in general, it’s still important to note. If you have a certain amount of links, then you should be getting a certain amount of branded searches. It’s hard to give a definitive number or ratio of brand searches to links, but Google is actively implementing this into the algorithm and it will be a strong ranking factor once it’s refined.

For example, if Gotch SEO has 1,000 backlinks, then hypothetically, 1,000 websites have found my content or site to be useful.

For this reason, my website will have buzz and people should be searching to learn more about my brand on Google or by revisiting my website.

I should be getting searches like “Gotch SEO”, “Nathan Gotch”, “who is Nathan Gotch”, etc.

This is exactly what you want.

Now, there are two ways to get more people searching for your brand.

#1: Create highly valuable content that people share and link to naturally
#2: Create highly valuable content, rank it well in Google, THEN people will share it naturally (if it’s good).

Option #1 is the hoping and praying approach, while #2 is the action-taking approach.

As you will notice, creating valuable content is a must for both.

Don’t get so obsessed with rankings that you forget that you are actually supposed to provide the searchers with some sort of value.

If you don’t, then you won’t make money from your website or business, and you just wasted months trying to rank on Google for no apparent reason.

Focus on Option #2, and you will get the branded searches you need to keep your site looking natural in the eyes of Google.

Anchor Text Tracking: Don’t Shoot Blindly at the Target

Tracking your anchor text is absolutely critical if you are building backlinks. If you aren’t, you are basically shooting at a target blindfolded.

There needs to be organization and you need to make sure you’re not overdoing it with keyword-rich anchors.

I use a good ol’ Google sheet to track my anchors.

In the sheet, I typically only track the keyword-rich anchors and keep a mental note of the branded links I’ve built thus far.

Conclusion

That’s all I think can of on anchor text. I know these strategies will help you achieve some awesome rankings while keeping your site from any future Penguin updates.

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How to Implement Hreflang & Canonical Tags Correctly

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How to Implement Hreflang & Canonical Tags Correctly

How to Implement Hreflang & Canonical Tags Correctly

On the surface, both the hreflang tag and canonical tag do similar things – tell search engines which version of a page they are supposed to index and deliver to particular searchers. However, these tags do not have the same function. They are not the same thing.

As digital marketers, we keep abreast of the latest search marketing news and technical best practices with the same kind of zeal seen in tweens following the Kardashians on Instagram. (Disclaimer: I have no idea if the kids are even still using Instagram.) Sometimes those official announcements or directions from search engines are straightforward but other times you can still read a post from Gary Illyes and end up doing some head-scratching. The hreflang and rel canonical tags are seemingly simple HTML meta tags but have repeatedly caused confusion within the International SEO community.

At Portent we’ve seen various implementations across our clients’ international sites:

Hreflag and canonical tags implemented
Only using canonical tags
Only using hreflang tags
Hreflang instructions within XML sitemaps

And the list goes on.

Once you factor in the added complexity of things like trying to serve up the right page of a non-responsive site with mobile pages, even really good webmasters can end up cross-eyed with the resulting web of directives and tags. Worse still, when the next gal takes over, there’s seldom a map left behind to explain the mess logic. I’d argue that’s a pretty good reason to take a close look at these tags, and make sure it’s not just working but actually done right.

But before we start to break down the confusion and get into prescriptive guidance, let’s get clear on the basics.

What is the hreflang attribute?

Webmasters with international websites often have multiple versions of the same page that have been localized to target users in a specific country or speaking a different language.

For example, a webmaster might have an “About Transwarp Beaming” page on their English and German domains:

English/USA – https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/
German/Germany – https://www.example.de/transwarp-beaming/

So, how does a search engine decide which of these technically “duplicate” pages should show up in a search engine result? And how would that change if, say, an ex-pat American was living in Germany?

Google introduced the hreflang tag (a.k.a. rel=”alternate” hreflang=”x”) way back in 2011 to help webmasters with multiple international sites deliver the correct version of localized content to searchers.

Language Signals

The hreflang tag signals to search engines that if a user is querying in “German” to return the German version of the “About Transwarp Beaming” page instead of English. Matching the correct piece of content to searcher helps to improve CTR and ensures that your users have a better user experience reducing bounce rate and increasing conversions.

Regional Signals

The hreflang tag can also be used to show that a site has content targeted toward regions that speak the same language. For example, let’s say a webmaster wanted to target English users in Ireland, Canada, and Australia and all other users to see a generic English (default) page. These are the hreflang attributes you should see on all pages:

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/en-ie” hreflang=”en-ie” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/en-ca” hreflang=”en-ca” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/en-au” hreflang=”en-au” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/” hreflang=”en” />

What is a canonical tag?

It’s 2018 and I’m fairly certain even my cat knows what a canonical tag is, so I won’t spend too much time here. Canonical tags (aka rel canonical) are used to inform search engines that one URL is the official version of a page. This means if you have duplicate pages on your site, a canonical tag is used on those duplicates to point to the one official version and informs search engines to “index and deliver this in the SERPs.”

<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/”/>

At this point you might be getting confused again and thinking “gee, earlier you said the tags were different, but the two tags are starting to sound similar again.” Although slight, there is a difference:

Canonical Tag – Says “I’m the official version of this page so index me”
Hreflang Tag – Says “I’m the X language and X country version of this page”

So how do we implement hreflang and canonical tags correctly?

Let’s get back to the example of the webmaster with the “About Transwarp Beaming” page in English and German.

English/USA – https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/
German/Germany – https://www.example.de/transwarp-beaming/

Both pages can have both canonical and hreflang tags. One important thing to note is that the hreflang tag on each page should reference itself as well as its alternate language versions. In other words, the German and English versions of the page must refer to one another. This is also why hreflang tag is also known as the “rel alternate tag.”

This is the on-page markup you should see in the HTML <head> sections of the English page:

And this is the on-page markup you should see in the HTML <head> sections of the German page:

Example markup for canonical tag – German

Most common mistakes implementing hreflang and canonical tags

While it might seem pretty intuitive by now, the very common mistake we see in the wild looks something like this:

German Page

<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.de/transwarp-beaming/” hreflang=”de-de” />
<link rel=”alternate” href=”https://www.example.com/transwarp-beaming/” hreflang=”en-us” />
<link rel=”canonical” href=”https://www.examples.com/transwarp-beaming/”/>

Why is this wrong, and why is it so common?
The implementation above is telling search engines that even if a German user searches for this page, we’d like the English page to show up. The mistake lies in referring to the “.com” page as your canonical or universally preferred version.

This is extremely common for sites that grow organically over time, and who may have had some form of duplicate content issue that they were trying to manage. “Our SEO told us to declare a canonical version of the home page because we were splitting our authority across multiple URLs for the same page, so we did.” Absolutely the right decision at the time, but if the page was updated with hreflang markup later and the canonical structure goes untouched, you’ll end up with some seriously crossed wires for international visitors.

Other common misconceptions about hreflang and canonical tags
Misconception 1: Canonical tags are not needed when hreflang tags are on a page.

This is incorrect, as we’ve shown above canonical tags and hreflang tags can be used together when implemented properly.

Misconception 2: The URLs from the default site should always be used as the canonical URLs over the regional pages

This is incorrect. Always using your default site pages as your canonical URLs will tell search engines to ignore the regional versions and index and feature the default sites in the SERPs.

Misconception 3: I don’t have a responsive site and have separate mobile URLs. I don’t need hreflang tags on my mobile URLs, I only need canonical tags pointing to the desktop URL.

This is outdated and incorrect. In the past, non-responsive mobile URLs only required canonical tags referring to desktop versions. However, with the mobile-first index announcement, Google is changing their advice. John Mueller recently confirmed in November 2017, that hreflang tags should be used on mobile URLs and desktop URLs.

Hreflang tags must use absolute URLs.

Okay you caught us, this is correct. The current SEO best practice is to use absolute URLs in hreflang tags.

Extra tips and tools for hreflang
Hreflang implementation for non-HTML files.

HTTP header – For any non-HTML files (i.e. PDF) use the HTTP header like this: Link: https://www.example.de/transwarp-beaming/; rel=”alternate”; hreflang=”de”

Give hreflang information via XML

Instead of using markup, submit language version information in a XML sitemap.

For example, on this Australian/English page, here is an example of the language version information you would include in an XML sitemap:

Language information example for an XML sitemap

Google’s Developer Guide

https://support.google.com/webmasters/answer/189077?hl=en

Moz Hreflang Attribute

Learn more about hreflang tags.

Hreflang Tag Generator

Aleyda Solis’ hreflang tag generator.

Summary

Although nuanced, implementing hreflang and canonical tags does not have to be confusing. Both tags are helpful signals to search engines and important to include when crafting a solid international SEO strategy. Canonical tags are used to signal the official version of a URL whereas hreflang tags are used to match the correct piece of content to region-specific users speaking another language.

However, it’s important to remember that the hreflang attribute and canonical tags are just signals or hints and are not directives. It’s still ultimately up to the search engine’s algorithmic discretion, meaning there are other SEO factors that may take precedence or be weighted along with both of these tags that can cause alternate versions of a page to rank higher.

Hopefully you’ll walk away from this post with a clear sense of when and how to use both the hreflang and canonical tags, especially in tandem. Now go forth, and use that wisdom to ensure the correct version of your pages are delivered to create a great user experience.

The post How to Implement Hreflang & Canonical Tags Correctly appeared first on Portent.

What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO?

What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO?

Breadcrumbs are an important part of almost any good website. These little navigational aides don’t just help people visualize where they are on your site, but also help Google determine how your site is structured. That’s why it makes a lot of sense to add these helpful little pointers. Let’s see how breadcrumbs work.

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What are breadcrumbs?

When Hansel and Gretel went into the woods, Hansel dropped pieces of bread on the ground so they could find their way home if the two of them ever got lost. These breadcrumbs eventually became the model for the breadcrumbs we see on websites nowadays. A breadcrumb is a small text path, often located at the top of a page. On yoast.com, for instance, the path to our Yoast SEO plugin page is Home > WordPress Plugins > Yoast SEO for WordPress. This breadcrumb immediately shows you where you are. Every part of that path is clickable, all the way to the homepage.

Breadcrumbs also appear in Google. If you use Yoast SEO or add the correct form of structured data to your site, search engines can pick up this data and could show your breadcrumbs in the search results. These provide users an easy to understand overview of where the page sits on your site. Yoast SEO automatically adds the necessary structured data in JSON-LD format for you. Flip the switch and see the necessary lines show up in your source code.

Different kinds

Looking closely, we can distinguish different types of breadcrumbs. These are the three most common types of breadcrumbs you will find on sites:

Hierarchy based breadcrumbs

These will pop up most often. We use them on our site as well. Breadcrumbs like this will tell you where you are in a site structure and how many steps you can take to get back to the homepage. Something like Home > Blog > Category > Post name.

Attribute based breadcrumbs

Attribute based breadcrumbs appear after a certain selection has been made, for instance, while searching for a product on an e-commerce site. Maybe, Home > Product category > Gender > Size > Color.

History based breadcrumbs

History based breadcrumbs do what it says on the tin; they are ordered according to what you have been doing on the site. Think of these as a replacement for your internet history bar. These would appear like this: Home >  Previous page > Previous page > Previous page > Current page. It’s also possible to combine these like Macy’s does in the screenshot below.

Advantages to using breadcrumbs

There are a couple of advantages to using breadcrumbs on your site. Let’s go over them quickly:

1. Google loves them

Your visitors like breadcrumbs, but Google likes them as well. Breadcrumbs give Google another way of figuring out how your website is structured. In addition to that, Google might use your breadcrumbs to show these in the search results. This way, your search result will at one become much more enticing to users. To increase the chance to get these breadcrumbs in Google, you need to add structured data or use Yoast SEO.

2. They enhance the user experience

People hate to get lost. When confronted with a new location, people often look around in search of recognizable objects or landmarks. The same goes for websites. You need to keep visitors happy and reduce as much friction as possible. Breadcrumbs can help your user experience since it is a well-known interface element that instantly shows people a way out. No need to click the back button!

3. They lower bounce rates

Hardly anyone comes in via the homepage anymore. It’s all organic search nowadays. That means every part of your site could be an entry point. You must come up with a way to guide these visitors to other parts of your site if the selected page does not meet their expectations. Breadcrumbs can lower bounce rates because you’re offering visitors an alternative means of browsing your site. Don’t you think it’s better to send a visitor to your homepage than back to Google?

How to add breadcrumbs

There are several ways of adding breadcrumbs to your site. Firstly, if you use a WordPress site, you can use one of the many breadcrumb plugins or just use Yoast SEO. If you use a different CMS the process might be different. It is also possible to add them by hand. If you want them to appear in Google as well, you need to use structured data in a way that Google understands. You can find more information on this in Google’s developer documentation on breadcrumbs.

Yoast SEO offers an easy way to add breadcrumbs to your WordPress site. It will add everything necessary to add them not just visible on your site, but get them ready for Google as well. To add breadcrumbs to your site, you need to add the following piece of code to your theme where you want them to appear:

<br />
<?php<br />
if ( function_exists(‘yoast_breadcrumb’) ) {<br />
yoast_breadcrumb(‘</p>
<p id=”breadcrumbs”>’,'</p>
<p>’);<br />
}<br />
?><br />

This code can often be placed inside the single.php or page.php files, just above the title of the page. Some themes want it at the end of the header.php file. Try not to add it to functions.php since this could create problems.

After adding the code, you can go to the advanced settings of Yoast SEO and switch on breadcrumb support. Here, you can also determine how the breadcrumb structure will look and what prefixes will be used. Find out more on our Knowledge Base page on implementing breadcrumbs with Yoast SEO.

Conclusion

While using breadcrumbs, Hansel and Gretel still got lost in the woods. Don’t let that happen to your visitor. Breadcrumbs provide an easy to grasp way of navigating for users. Visitors instantly understand how the site structure works. For the same reason, Google loves them as well. Use Yoast SEO to add breadcrumbs to your site easily.

Read more: ‘Site structure: the ultimate guide’ »

The post What are breadcrumbs and why are they important for SEO? appeared first on Yoast.

31 Reasons to Start Doing SEO for Bing

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 31 Reasons to Start Doing SEO for Bing

31 Reasons to Start Doing SEO for Bing

Rumor has it that Bing from Microsoft can really take your marketing and SEO efforts to a whole different level. Is it true though that Bing can be gold when it comes to better traffic to your website, increased ROI, affordable advertising, convertible exclusive visitors, and an overall friendlier search environment? 

 

Given that we don’t lean on rumor, we figured out it’s best to check ourselves what’s there that makes Bing a smart target to marketers of all kinds.  

 

 

In a world full of Google-first mindsets, it’s wise to take a step back and reconsider our choices. Is Google the only medium worth investing into? We gathered 31 facts that prove that Bing might just be that missing piece in your overall online marketing strategy. Be ready to be amazed by statistics, testimonials, and webmaster-backed tips about Bing.

 

Bing Traffic Might Have a Lower Bounce Rate
Yahoo and Bing Own a Third of the U.S. Search Market
Most Google SEO Practices Apply to Bing As Well
Bing Has Lower Competition
Bing Currently Powers Yahoo and the Majority of Voice Search
Bing Is More Open About Their Ranking Factors Than Google
Content Is Not a #1 Ranking Signal
On-Page SEO Matters More Than Off-page SEO
Bing Has a Taste For the Good Old Practices
Better Multimedia User Experience
Social Signals Are a Vital Ranking Factor
Bing Has a Stunning Array of Free Analysis Tools
Content Needs to Be Top-Notch
Backlinks: Numbers Talk
Bing Teams Up With Google Against Shady SEO Practices
Bing Prefers Older Websites to Newer Ones
Meta Description and Keywords Impact CTR and Ranking
EMDs Rank Higher on Bing SERPs Than on Google’s 
Bing Can Interpret Flash Websites
Small Local Businesses Get a Boost in Bing’s Local Search Area
Bing Is Gentler When It Comes to Mobile-Friendliness 
CTR Is a Turn-Point Ranking Factor
Bing Is Very Secure For Authors
Bing Puts Less Importance on Links Than Google
HTTPS Is Not a Ranking Factor
Bing Has a Simpler Penalty System
Most of the Bing Audience Is Exclusive and Doesn’t Visit Google
Bing Promises Increased ROI
Bing Is a Much Cheaper Advertising Alternative to Google
Bing Prefers 301 Redirects
Microsoft’s Success Is One of the Finest Coups in History
So How Can Microsoft’s Bing Change Your SEO Game?

 

In many ways, Bing is similar to Google. It provides a variety of search services, including web, video, image, and map search. As you’ve probably already seen in the table of contents, many optimization steps meant for Google also fit into the Bing world. And yet, we’re here to talk about what’s Bing offering to businesses and marketers that Google is not. 

 

First things first, you should know why the Bing name. One idea struck me the other day and made me wonder whether the Microsoft team watched and worshiped the renowned sitcom tv-show “Friends” like everybody else on this Planet (well, almost everybody!). It would’ve been funny though if they got inspired by Chandler Bing’s name, especially when everybody in the show made fun of it.

 

However, let’s get back to our sheep and let you know that the Bing name was brainstormed and picked through focus groups. The proposed name pleased Microsoft for a number of reasons: it was easy to remember and spell, short, and friendly. It also reminded people the sound made when discovering something or deciding upon an idea. Qi Lu, president of Microsoft Online Services also said that Bing meant “very certain to respond/answer” in Chinese. Hey, I’m already sold!

 

 

Should you be craving for some more proof regarding Bing’s performance and charm besides our 31-fact list, you should also check what people say about it and why they prefer Bing to Google. Here are some interviews deployed by TechRadar where working-class people explain how Bing’s a step forward for them when it comes to search engines.

 

Long story short, it’s time we listened to the founder and CEO of Market Domination Media, Jonathan Long’s advice and move forward and check what Bing has to offer to the SEO world.

 

Stop treating the Yahoo Bing Network like the red-headed stepchild.

jonathan long

Founder of Market Domination Media /  @long

 
1. Bing Traffic Might Have a Lower Bounce Rate

 

Matthew Woodward’s experience with the Google and Bing traffic is very interesting. Although many say Bing doesn’t bring too many leads, Woodward experienced something else: this search engine provides lower bounce rate, more page visits, visitors spend more time on site, and there are more subscribers in general. 

 

source: matthewwoodward.co.uk

Strong user engagement is very important for Bing and usually penalizes anything that’s not aligned with this requirement. There’s something similar to bounce rate but with an uglier truth – pogo-sticking. While bounce rates don’t always mean something bad, pogo-sticking always does. It occurs when somebody, after having shortly landed on your site, quickly hits the “back” button, returns to search results, and clicks on another website.

 

Another guess for the small bounce rate would be that, given the very precise search results aligned with Bing’s Webmaster Guidelines, people do get what they want most times they enter a query and spend enough time on site to satisfy their needs.

 

2. Yahoo and Bing Own a Third of the U.S. Search Market

 

The 2018 comScore stats revealed the new Bing search market status at both a global and country level. We’ll generally treat Yahoo as being an integral part of the Bing traffic, as they’re powered by the latter. Therefore, the combined strength of Bing and Yahoo nails around a third of the market share for search in the US.

 

Did we mention Bing is bigger than you think ? #SEM #PPC #bingadswebcast pic.twitter.com/jeJxJGcxl5

— Bing Ads (@BingAds) August 17, 2017

 

Although Google’s traffic is double, we’re still talking big numbers and users that are active on a search engine that surprisingly is other than Google. Given the ton of search done on Bing, it’s very important for digital marketers to know what they’re missing out when struggling to rank on the first Google pages. This way you’ll know where to start optimizing your website, preferably with as little effort as possible.

 

source: link-assistant.com

 

We all know that most times, numbers talk.

Imagine that you could be missing 143 million unique searchers each month and 5.2 billion searches a month probably don’t display your website in SERPs.

Pretty tough, isn’t it? To rub some more salt into the wound, financial and automotive queries on Bing and Yahoo is triple to that of Google, counting up to 11 million out of a 14 million total. 

 

source: searchenginewatch.com

 
3. Most Google SEO Practices Apply to Bing As Well

 

There are two sides when it comes to the theory that says if you rank high on Google, you rank well pretty well on Bing too. Most agree with this, although with a critical eye, but others are reluctant and argue that search algorithms are different, hence searching for the same query won’t provide you the same SERPs but a quite different one. 

 

Either way, we can’t deny the fact that Google and Bing share many similarities, while most guidelines provided from webmasters working for the former are listed as important by webmasters from the latter as well. Nobody says that if you’re on page 1 on Google you MUST be ranking on the same page for the same query on Bing as well.

It’s just that you actually don’t need to reinvent the wheel with Bing but only consider some retouches.

 

Again, although their algorithms are somehow different, you can easily target Bing for ranking your website high. SEO for Bing is not so different from Google – you could easily get the best of both worlds. What’s more, most SEO efforts meant for Google will also translate well with Bing and Yahoo as well, given that the latter is powered by the former. 

 

Both Google and Bing value relevant content, look for well-placed keywords, place big brands higher, ask for mobile-friendliness and unique user experience, correlate social signals with quality content and better rankings, consider backlinks very important for websites, require the on-page SEO to be up-to-date, and have similar search layouts. Moreover, all three major search engines, Google, Bing, and Yahoo, allied and signed an agreement to make search listings richer and more accurate through structured data. 

 

Should you decide to start optimizing for Bing, it would be wise if you checked what impact those tactics might have on your Google ranking, so that you’ll avoid losing popularity and the lead for a search engine with the biggest market share of all.

 
4. Bing Has Lower Competition

 

Reading various comments on this Bing topic, I noticed there are very few to no people doing SEO for Bing, mostly because they already rank pretty high inside the search engine or simply have no interest in it. Truth be told, the majority of websites focus only on optimizing for Google, leaving the other search engines behind, hence unconsciously allowing Bing develop a fertile search environment where there’s not much of a competition and brands could easily rank high. 

 

Bing is second in line after Google when it comes to marketer’s best practices given that everybody struggles to please the bigger master, but it could really add some value to your strategy. 

 

Moreover, taking the nearly two decades into account in which SEOs have purely focused all their efforts on ranking high on Google, it’s hard for newcomers to compete with people who already forged their skills for years in a row. But now there’s a new land for people to sow their brands into and see them grow and thrive. Targeting Google is the right move and there’s nothing to blame, as Sherry Bonelli would say. But you should at least be aware of what Bing might do for you.

 

If you’re guilty of “Google-first”, it’s not without reason.

sherry Bonelli

Digital Marketing Guru at Early Bird Digital Marketing / @sherrybonelli

 
5. Bing Currently Powers Yahoo and the Majority of Voice Search

 

For many years now, beginning July 2009, to be exact, Yahoo search has been powered by Bing meaning that the former’s searches are backed by Bing’s index and ranking algorithm. Should you doubt, just do a test search and see for yourself that search results are very similar. Hence, optimizing for one should please the other as well, at least when looking at the bigger picture.

 

Furthermore, should be a little behind with news, Oath is the new name for the Yahoo+AOL mix that came into effect after Yahoo was purchased by Verizon in 2017, including TechCrunch, hence you’ll often see this name in the charts that will follow shortly.

 

One of my biggest surprises was to find out that Bing also powers the Siri voice search feature on people’s iPhones. To all the Siri users and aficionados out there – you are using Bing and have no clue about it yet.

 
6. Bing Is More Open About Their Ranking Factors Than Google

 

Although Bing offers users guidelines as to how they should optimize their websites, Bing specifies that this is not going to guarantee higher rankings or more traffic from the search engine, although it’s wise to tick them on your list nevertheless. This shows you should expect contingencies but they’re ready to guide you through and, when necessary, tell you the naked truth.

 

Bing is much more transparent about ranking factors; just check their Bing Webmaster Guidelines and case studies and you’ll agree. Plus, they give you the tools to beautify your website to their taste, hence little to no hidden strings.

 

Interesting enough, there’s yet no evidence as to what Bing values most when it comes to ranking – links, content or anything else. They do value quality content but they don’t specifically say links or content play a major role as Google uses to.

 
7. Content is Not a #1 Ranking Signal

 

As previously said, content is rendered neither as #1 ranking signal on Bing nor as a part of the privileged few that are part of the top. As long as it has the three pillars of content quality, they’re happy.

 

source: Bing Webmaster Guidelines

 

Bing knows how they like their content in order to rank it high, but there’s one element that might make your page contents more appealing: multimedia files.

 

Bing looks for rich and engaging content, one that uses spot-on images, video, audio, so on and so forth.

 
8. On-Page SEO Matters More Than Off-page SEO

 

On-page SEO is king on Bing. This is what reigns the Bing lands, while off-page follows next. Although digital marketers invest time, money, and effort into both, it’s a universally known fact that successful off-page SEO only follows good on-page SEO.

 

source: searchmetrics.com

 

Therefore, Bing is not cherry-picking the best one out of two but only gives on-site SEO its well-deserved tribute. To some extent, it’s a chicken-or-the-egg type of debate.

 
9. Bing Has a Taste For the Good Old Practices

 

Unlike Google who’s always updating everything, Bing is more into the classic. Generally speaking, what’s new-school for Bing is somehow old-school for Google.

 

Bing has a rather tangled search algorithm, one that is focused on things such as exact-match domains and keywords in headings, titles, copy or meta description (although Google dismissed them as a ranking factor, Bing relies on them), or high-quality content – authority, display, multimedia, relevance. Those who are fond of the old Google interface and ranking factors could easily feel at home when using Bing.

 

As we optimized specifically for Bing and Yahoo, I felt like I was optimizing for Google a few years ago. Tactics and tasks that were significant to me years ago, were now a factor again, just on different search engines.

william kammer

Director of SEO at Levy Online / @williamkammer

 
10. Better Multimedia User Experience

 

Bing has a better entity understanding in regard to multimedia and considers it a big plus if added to text content. Therefore, the Microsoft search engine uses it as a ranking factor which they also signal in their Bing Webmaster Guidelines. 

 

Another good thing would be that Bing is more user-friendly when queries ask for images. The search engine gives exact search results without related searches or suggestions of this kind, as Google visitors are used to. 

 

So you can get Bing’s favorite should you provide nice and tidy, unique, high-quality, and relevant images.

 
11. Social Signals Are a Vital Ranking Factor

 

According to Neil Patel, Bing  has officially stated that they use social shares to understand if a page is popular among users. Social media engagement is a positive sign. The more social signals you have, the higher you’ll go in SERPs. Experts argue that most time they correlate very well with better rankings, and this is all thanks to the content being frequently shared and used by users. 

 

Bing says social signals pass on influence at alll levels, especially to brands’ social channels and to search engines.

Their impact should really mean that marketers should put an emphasis on increasing their social media audience and receive some feedback.

 

source: searchmetrics.com

 

As expected, Bing too is against fake social media followers and engagement, such as it is against keyword stuffing when it comes to relevant content. 

 

Although Google doesn’t say anything regarding the power of social signals, they greatly influence your rankings and many experts and SEO gurus vouched for them, so it’s wise to use them and benefit from both search engines, Google and Bing.

 
12. Bing Has a Stunning Array of Free Analysis Tools

 

Be it on the link level, the site structure level, or the page level, Bing has it all. Plus, Bing Webmaster Tools are free and provide actionable insight and tips on how to optimize your website for them.

 

Matthew Woodward thinks they’re superb and encourages marketers to use it right away.  It’s like Bing has concentrated all marketing superpowers in one toolset and now lends it for free for people to learn what’s worth and what’s not in Bing’s eyes.

 

source: matthewwoodward.co.uk

 

Bing is definitely SEO-friendly. One look at their in-depth structured Webmaster Guidelines, Tools, and case-studies, all there in order to make the search engine a better and easier-to-live-in place.

 

Bing provides the right means to sign up your website for analysis – be they backlinks, keywords, link profile etc -, mobile friendliness -, find out whether you’re penalized or not, even get your SEO reports that point out the flaws they see when crawling your site.

 
13. Content Needs to Be Top-Notch

 

As previously said, content is not a ranking content per se but it’s still important how it looks and “displays itself” on the internet. They prefer unique content, content written by professionals from well-known sources or people with field expertise instead of recycled content which is widely available everywhere on the web. 

 

The Bing Webmaster Guidelines defines optimized content as: “clear, easy to understand and scan, deep, without ads, without affiliate links or redirecting readers to other links shortly after they landed on their page, should be friendly, easy to navigate, engaging, information-rich”.

 

Content should be multimedia-rich, with graphs, images, and videos meant to engage and offer all the necessary information to the reader. Generally, Bing places a higher value on in-depth, unique, long and engaging content rather than on shorter content. Bing is pretty simple to understand and follow – all you need is to know what you need and the search engine will provide it for you.

 

 
14. Backlinks: Numbers Talk

 

The number is so important that it can even beat the link quality.

Although it’s possible for Bing to look more to quantity than to quality, to some extent, it does prefer the ones coming from highly-authoritative websites, usually ranking .edu, .gov, .org sites higher.

 

This might be one explanation as to why Bing ranks older, hence richer in links and social activity, websites. Similar to Google, the search engine from Microsoft prefers organic links from relevant, trustworthy websites that vouch for the traffic they lead to your page and old – as age is a sign of trust and influence. Should the backlinks be do-follow and with exact match anchor text (contain your target keywords), you win the jackpot. 

 

The Bing team says on their Webmaster Guidelines page that links are necessary to help them spot new pages on your site, as they don’t crawl all your pages, but only the 10 most influential ones. Links show you’re popular, trustworthy, and relevant to real users who eventually generate organic and continuously increasing traffic. 

 
15. Bing Teams Up With Google Against Shady SEO Practices

 

Link schemes, cloaking, social media schemes, reciprocal or paid links, duplicate content, overly advertised pages, quality over quantity content, misleading markup, link farms, and excessive link manipulation, in general, are not welcomed on Bing. 

 

source: Bing Webmaster Guidelines

 

Therefore, all the white hat SEOs out there searching for a safe place to develop their brand in the online market, Bing is one of the places-to-be.

 
16. Bing Prefers Older Websites to Newer Ones

 

I know this one tells a different tale compared to what Google values most, but Bing is old-school and likes to deal with websites that have aged beautifully and you can easily put your trust in. 

 

This is genuinely because Bing looks at site authority when checking backlinks or websites, in general. Having a “vintage” (old) domains helps. Older websites have a story to tell, and more often than not they engage in healthy digital marketing practices and have build a trustworthy name in their niche.

 

Bing though everything through, isn’t it?

 
17. Meta Description and Keywords Impact CTR and Ranking

 

This is an old debate where search engine officials state they don’t use metadata as a ranking factor, however, when optimizing your website with meta keywords and description, brands seem to send another vibe to both search engines and readers.

 

Although Duane Forrester from Bing Webmaster Outreach announced they don’t take metadata (keywords and descriptions) into account when ranking websites, quality research (testing and experience) show something else. 

 

A client came to us with good Google ranks, but very poor Yahoo and Bing. This caused us to look deeply into specific optimization techniques for Bing and Yahoo. One of the first things we noticed was the lack of meta keywords and descriptions. Once we completed filling these out, we saw noticeable increases across the SERPs (except Google).

william kammer

Director of SEO at Levy Online / @williamkammer

 

Either way, Bing needs meta keywords and description to position you higher and understand your content better, while it also helps Google users have a better understanding of your provided info, if not the search engine. Although Google say they don’t use metadata for ranking, it’s still important to optimize your pages with them given the overall impact on CTR.

 
18. EMDs Rank Higher on Bing SERPs Than on Google’s 

 

Bing is not very good at grasping the meaning from the context, it needs the stuff to be already chewed. As a consequence, Bing puts more emphasis on the exact match anchor text as compared to Google.

 

Although Google is somehow against exact-match settings knowing that many spammy websites use exact-match domains, it’s a bit risky to optimize your website this way, should you want to rank high on both search engines. Think of all those online movie websites that wear a domain name matching the very query – “watchmoviesfree”, “tvmovies”, “freemoviescinema” etc. 

 

However, given that in the Bing world exact match keywords in your domain name matter, you should try to incorporate it naturally. This is one of the perks of optimizing your website for Bing – exact-match domains get lucky here.

 

Bing has lots of EMD sites ranking before some legit sites for many keywords.

william kammer

Director of SEO at Levy Online / @williamkammer

 

Should you want to have yet another shot at ranking higher on Bing, you should focus on exact-match domains in the title, description, HTML, headings, and copy. 

 
19. Bing Can Interpret Flash Websites

 

Long story short, Bing can interpret flash websites, while Google Chrome has a rather difficult time with them.

 
20. Small Local Businesses Get a Boost in Bing’s Local Search Area

 

Local businesses will rejoice when hearing this: it’s easier to get increased local visibility with Bing.

 

The issue is twofold: first, Google generally favors the bigger local businesses when compared to Bing, secondly, the former often times misses the point when delivering results to a query because it uses contextual clues to figure out what you’re really searching for, whereas Bing will show your local results first.

 

Moreover, brick-and-mortar businesses have a better shot at being visible on Bing than on Google with the Bing Places for Business.

 

 

All you need for Bing’s free local listing service is your physical address, contact info, opening hours, your website link, and nice photos of your business. In addition, Bing provides users a feature Google is missing at the moment: an agency dashboard feature to help users run local search campaigns easier and at a quicker pace.

 
21. Bing Is Gentler When It Comes to Mobile-Friendliness 

 

Bing values mobile-friendliness set-ups but has a different approach to it. They consider mobile-optimization a plus in ranking higher in SERPs, while Google made it rather mandatory, saying they will start ranking you based on your mobile website first.

 
22. CTR Is a Turn-Point Ranking Factor

 

This is a simple calculus. As you probably figured out already, Bing likes things easy and tidy. Imagine two websites ranking on #1 position and #2, respectively. They’re both performing exquisitely, yet #1 position has lower CTR compared to the one on the second place. Guess what: there’s going to be a switch.

 
23. Bing Is Very Secure For Authors

 

We already talked about Bing preferring authoritative websites with some history on the web. They’re willing to offer the same sense of security to content authors as well.

 

With Google providing people with the chance of claiming content they have written, Bing also had a “Klout-orship” program which provided author details such as Linkedin summary, social profiles, Klout score, 2 most popular posts from Twitter in the last 7 days and 2 most engaging posts from Instagram in the past 90 days. However, not until recently we have learned that Klout has unfortunately reached an end on May 25, 2018, Lithium announcing that “Klout is now kaput“. Wonder what Bing will do next…

 

Anyways, Bing is quite strict when it comes to website authority and trust, hence they will continue taking into account a variety of factors such as social signals, name recognition, cited sources, the author’s identity and more.

 
24. Bing Puts Less Importance on Links Than Google

 

Matthew Woodward said that Bing puts less importance on links when compared to Google, although it does favor editorial links coming from websites with high-quality content and top-notch marketing tactics. 

 

It’s the same debate as the one with content: content is very important, as links are too, but they are not rendered as a top ranking factor with Bing.

 
25. HTTPS Is Not a Ranking Factor

 

This fact is backed by Bing Lead Program Manager Vincent Wehren.  Whilst for Google it is a ranking factor, Bing considers it irrelevant for website positioning and they are not going to give it any credit.

 
26. Bing Has a Simpler Penalty System

 

Besides being quite transparent about it’s ranking algorithm, Bing also doesn’t name a vast array of penalties, except the one where they delist a website when shady SEO practices are noticed in their behalf. And it’s very easy to find out whether you’ve been penalized in their Webmaster Tools area.

 

We don’t know a whole lot about Bing’s penalties but what we do know for sure is they are a much friendlier beast than Google.

matthew woodward

Award Winning Blogger matthewwoodward.co.uk / @MattWoodwardUK

 
27. Most of the Bing Audience Is Exclusive and Doesn’t Visit Google

 

In 2014, comScore published some statistics that might surprise you. In addition, they will help you draw a better picture of these unknown figures who seem to slip through your fingers. 

 

According to the stats, the Bing searchers seem to be college graduates and graduate school students and mature people fitting the 35+ age group. Women represent a slightly bigger figure than men, most of them managing households with children. What’s more, these households have incomes more than $75.000.

 

Bing’s demographic is more mature in age and affords to spend more money.

 

72% finance and business searches happening on Bing and Yahoo are not to be found on Google’s ground. This is almost 21 million people you might be missing in finance, and that’s tough, as they are the ones holding the biggest share of the money, aren’t they?

 

Curious though why they keep their searches exclusive and don’t check all search engines for what they’re interested in. Could it be that Bing focuses on older and more authoritative and trustworthy brand websites?

 
28. Bing Promises Increased ROI

 

ROI is vital to digital marketing and Bing can double it or even more. According to comScore, Yahoo Bing Network traffic converts better, spending 6.8% more money online than the one searching on Google.

 

Source: link-assistant.com

 

Given that usually on Google it can take up to 12 months in order to get your payoff from your SEO efforts on their site, you should also consider Bing. Thanks to the lower competition for page one, it takes less time to see results on your investment. And this is splendid news especially for smaller companies who have a more fragile budget plan and smaller chances of seeing some decent ROI on their SEO efforts. All in one, Bing might have a better conversion rate than Google.

 

Source: matthewwoodward.co.uk

 
29. Bing Is a Much Cheaper Advertising Alternative to Google

 

Thanks to the lower competition available on Bing, it is cheaper for PPC advertisers to place their mobile and desktop ads. You can check the exact 2017 paid search trends on iProspect.

 

With Bing, you can afford both to advertise on and optimize for it.

 
30. Bing Prefers 301 Redirects

 

Bing prefers to use 301 redirects (sending people to a permanent location) instead of 302 ones. Their latest Bing Webmasters Guidelines update tells 302 redirects are fine, although, in reality, they still don’t work as they should. Normally, they wouldn’t recognize a 302 eredirect but after the crawlers would hit it multiple time, Bing would turn it into a 301.

 

Canonical tags instad of a proper redirect are not welcome either. Same with meta refresh redirects.

 
31. Microsoft’s Success Is One of the Finest Coups in History

 

Experts call it the Big Bing. In 2014 Mozilla released version 34 of their Firefox browser and made a move that changed the history: they removed Google as the default search engine and changed it to Yahoo! For North America, also replacing it with other search engines for Russia and other neighboring countries.

 

 

And boom! search traffic numbers changed for good in only 24 hours. Is this bad or good luck? It depends whom we’re looking at. Plus, imagine that many people (especially the older ones) don’t really care what search engine they’re using as long as they get answers to their queries, hence still use Bing from the day they purchased their laptop up till today. Here is the search engine’s success story in a nutshell, told by Tom McKay

 

source: gizmodo.com

 

Either way, Bing is bigger than most of us think. On August 17, 2017, Bing tweeted their search market share across major countries around the globe and the statistics are stunning.

Bing is bigger than you think! #SEM #PPC #bingadswebcast pic.twitter.com/fFtEDvM634

— Bing Ads (@BingAds) August 17, 2017

 
So How Can Microsoft’s Bing Change Your SEO Game?

 

It was high time we shedded some light on Bing. Even our blog craved for some words of wisdom regarding this search engine few (or so many, it depends on the perspective) turn to. 

 

Let’s apply Dan Petrovic’s technique of ending a talk on a topic: “When you do a talk, tell them what you’re gonna tell them, then tell them, and then tell them what you told them“. Remember that Bing:

 

has lower competition
has lower bounce rate, more page visits,  more time-on-site, more subscribers
is much friendlier than Google in terms of ranking signals and penalties
has no top ranking signal 
considers social signals a ranking signal
has great free analysis tools
needs meta data to rank you high
EMDs rank higher than on Google
it hasnearly a third of the search market share (US) together with Yahoo
powers Yahoo and Siri web search
increases local businesses visibility
has a bigger ROI
is a cheaper advertising alternative to Google

 

As Dan Petrovic said in one of our cognitiveSEO Talks: On Search and Traffic podcasts, we need to see a third search engine come up with something different, not just be a few years behind Google, and act as a fully revolutionary search engine.

 

What I would love to see is one proper competitor to Google, whether it’d be Amazon, or eBay, or a new search engine, or even Facebook. I’d love to see a proper competitor in terms of information retrieval and presentation to users. […] I think there needs to be good competition, and that’s a good thing for Google and a good thing for users if there’s proper competition to Google, so they’re not driven just by their shareholders but by pure competition.

dan petrovic

Search Marketer dejanseo.com.au / @dejanseo

 

Bing is one of the three search engines that rule the world wide web (www). Many know it for having surpassed Yahoo in both traffic numbers and success, most of them assuming that Bing’s younger than Yahoo on the search market.

 

However, even to my own surprise, Bing is a search engine created and operated by Microsoft, one that has replaced in 2009 the former Live Search (2007), Windows Live Search (2006), and MSN Search (1998) Microsoft engines. It seems like Bing’s the Big Brother who’s been always here watching us without us knowing it. 

 

Hopefully, you have a better picture as to why you should let Bing play an important role in your SEO strategy.

 

source: searchenginejournal.com

 

The post 31 Reasons to Start Doing SEO for Bing appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

Brainstorming, The First Step to A Money Making Blog

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Brainstorming, The First Step to A Money Making Blog

Brainstorming, The First Step to A Money Making Blog

Brainstorming, The First Step to A Money Making Blog

Content creation sounds like a magical mantra that can give you views, exposure, leads, conversion, money, success and all that jazz.

Don’t you just want a part of it?

The money’s at where people’s at, right?

So how can you start a blog and start on content marketing and earn some money?

The thing is before you get your hands on any content, you need to generate some ideas.

That’s where brainstorming comes in.

What is brainstorming?

The term was introduced by Alex Faickney Osborn in his 1953 brainstorm book called Applied Imagination.

It is essentially a group activity. Where people get together to discuss and debate to generate ideas.

Sometimes it could be used to solve a problem or to understand something better. But in our case, we just want ideas to create some good content.

Let’s pull up the Ws and Hs so we can understand how to pull this off.

How many people do you need for brainstorming?

(source)

You can start with two and the number can go up to ten. When the group has more than 5 people though, break them up into smaller groups.

The point is,

you want people from diverse point of views or positions so you can get a complete picture from the whole spectrum. People doing sales and doing marketing has different insights. And you want those differences.

But you don’t want too many people. If there’s someone who’s not talking, you know you need to cut the numbers down.

Brainstorming session is where everyone talks AND listen, anyone who’s doing only one of those is not who you want.

What if I’m the only one wanting to start this blog thing? Well, more steps will be discussed below, so sit back and read on.

How many ideas I need?

As much as you can.

The brainstorming session is not where you scrutinize an idea for 10 minutes then decide to drop it.

You want to go wild, get creative and just try to pump out as many ideas as you can. There’s no brainstorming rule saying you can only have 10 ideas.

Refinement and planning come after this. This is the messy big bang stage of your content creation.

Settling dust should be left to the next step.

Google started because Larry Page wanted to download the whole internet. Wild.

A lot of the time, ideas don’t fall into the bad or good idea category. It falls into the do-able and not do-able category.

How you execute it makes it good, or bad, or, you know, most of the case, meh.

You start with a seed of an idea, then expand on it and trim it as you go.

How can you know which seed is the best if you only have one to look at?

So have a note taker and take down all the ideas shared during the session. If the session happened in your head with only yourself, note it down still. Who knows when you’ll need it.

How long should a brainstorming session be?

22 minutes.

The answer is the brainstorming process should be done is 22 minutes. Nicole Steinbok from Microsoft believes and advocates it.

Why not 30 minutes? Well, 30 minutes sessions leave no time for a wrapping up and casual exchange because everyone is busy rushing to their next agenda.

22 minutes is also much more flexible.

You look at the clock as quarters. You stack them up into an hour after hour of schedule you’re running after to.

You don’t need to if you end stuff on 22 minutes. You have some time left before the quarter ends, turn off working mode and make some small talks perhaps.

People don’t work nor behave in a straight line, your time doesn’t have to as well.

Where can I get my ideas from?

Brainstorming is meant to be your way of generating ideas, but 22 minutes can feel a little rushed in igniting the machine of creativity.

So go in the meeting prepared. Warm up the engine and set up your navigating system before heading into the storm.

Here are some ways to warm up and get that creative juice running for a fruitful brainstorming session.

1. Read up on news

Scan through the headlines and pick up a few that interests you. They can be used to create content that interest others too.

The Atlantic published a timely article lamenting the relationship between Thailand’s caves and local mythologies. In the wake of the drama where 12 boys and their coach trapped in a cave, the interest on Thailand caves is on an all-time high.

Brilliant, really.

2. Read books

CNET created a whole headline and article based on a couple of lines from a new book and name dropping Sergey Brin and Google.

If that’s your cup of tea, go for it and get your hands on more books.

People rarely have time to read books nowadays but content creation can really benefit from a couple of books fresh on the shelf.

3. Grab a buddy

Sometimes a little fresh insight can really get the gears running.

Don’t you feel kinda brain dead looking and reading and working on the same thing on the same field again and again?

Simply talking with someone that don’t know and don’t care about a single thing about your focus can feel like a breath of fresh air.

Clear your mind off a minute, and you can go back feeling much more stimulated.

4. Start with a word

Choose a single word and start building a map around it, think laterally.

Especially when you already have a topic or a theme, this can be an effective way to expand the idea.

Sometimes just going to the most simple and basic steps can be the best way to get started on discovering new ideas.

5. Do keyword research

If you already have a topic in mind, you can start mining for some keywords.

Valuable keywords that are currently trending, has a lot of backlinks or generates the most traffic will be something that you’d want to tap into.

In SEO it’s all about keywords, especially LSI long tail keywords that are less competitive and easier to rank.

6. Use an idea generator

If you don’t really have much time to sit down to get the gears kicking, why not get some help from the internet?

Just enter your keyword and let the website feed you a list of actionable blog titles.

The result may not be perfect, but they give you some ideas on which direction you can go.

7. Read through your notes

Do you keep a note? Or a swipe file? Or you pocket all the interesting articles you’ve read?

Why not go through them again?

A little peek on my swipe file that I built using Evernote.

Be it to look at some old project that you work on, or some silly old musings, some random thought.

Look through them and think about why they were worth noting down at that moment?

That can put you in a different mindset and help you break free from the box and be ready for some brand new ideas.

9. Look at your competitors

Especially the BIG competitors, there’s a reason that they’re so big.

They probably have a whole lot of insights and first-hand information. You don’t want to be left behind right?

So take their content as inspirations for your own, you already see how good they can do, now you can focus on brainstorming ideas on how to make it even better.

10. Think like your audience

You gotta have a targeted audience, and better yet a focused targeted persona right?

Now that you know who they are, why not try to get in their shoes and think like them?

Why would interest them, what would they want to know, what do they don’t know yet?

How can I make sure the ideas are good?

C.U.R.V.E method is developed by Alex Williams, Creative Director & Digital Strategy Director of Trendline Interactive to create an eye-catching subject line.

We at SEOPressor use it to make sure that every content is engaging and that every do-able ideas can be trimmed into a good idea.

Make sure that the ideas born from the brainstorming session include at least 2 of the C.U.R.V.E.

Curiosity: does the content make the recipient curious?

Urgency: does the content make the recipient want to take action?

Relevance: is the content relevant to the recipient’s situation or context?

Value: does the content reflect the recipient’s values and/or is it valuable to the recipient?

Emotion: does the content evoke emotions in the recipient? Is it funny, fascinating, surprising…?

Why content?

Because content is the way to get FREE traffic!

You don’t need to spend thousands of dollars to start a business or run ads for promotion.

You only need to sign up for a free CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, pump out some content, SEO them, and you’ll get visitors coming in.

When you have a steady flow of visitors coming in, you can start making money by selling ads or affiliate marketing.

All you need is you, maybe a team, and a brain sharp enough for writing contents.

See what the good folks at Niel Patel have to say about quality content and how they are the core of conversion a.k.a money.

Pairing up good content with SEO you’ll be raking up organic traffic.

The first step you need is simply, brainstorming some content ideas.

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18 Effective Tips To Generate Ideas For Your Blog

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

Does The Meta Description Tag Affect SEO & Search Engine Rankings?

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Does The Meta Description Tag Affect SEO & Search Engine Rankings?

Does The Meta Description Tag Affect SEO & Search Engine Rankings?

There’s a lot of confusion when it comes to meta descriptions and SEO. Do they affect search engine rankings? Is it worth spending the time to write a good meta description?

 

Well, in theory, meta descriptions do not affect SEO. This is an official statement from Google, released in 2009. However, since meta descriptions show in the search engine results, they can affect CTRs (click through rates), which are linked to SEO & rankings. So, in practice, meta descriptions might have an impact on SEO.

 

Things are a lot more complicated than that. In order to better understand the topic, I recommend you to continue reading this article. It will explain everything you need to know about the importance of meta description tags.

 

What Is the Meta Description Tag?
Why Meta Descriptions Don’t Matter (In Theory)
Why Meta Descriptions Matter (In Practice)
How to Add Meta Description Tags
How to Write Good Meta Description Tags

 

Before we start, let’s make it clear for everyone what a meta description is.

 
What Is the Meta Description Tag?

 

HTML runs with tags. A tag is a set of characters that result in a command. In web development, these tags specify to the browser how elements should be structured on a web page.

 

The <meta> tag is a tag that contains data about the web page itself. It’s the data behind the data, just like in metaphysics. In our case, the meta description provides a summary of what the page is about. The users read it to figure out what they’re about to click on.

 

Google uses the meta descriptions (along with the title tag and the URL) to come up with search results on its pages. You can usually recognize the meta description by taking a look at a web page’s search result. Here’s a branded search for the keyword “cognitiveSEO”:

 

 

If the meta description tag is missing, Google will just pick a piece of content from your page, which it thinks is the most relevant for the user.

 

I have a good example from no other than Wikipedia, the 5th most popular website on the planet. I’m not sure if it’s missing on this page only or if it’s a general thing, but… well, the meta description tag isn’t there.

 

But how do I know there’s no meta description tag? Well, the correct way of checking a meta description tag is to look into the source code of a web page. You can do this by hitting CTRL + U in Chrome, or by right-clicking the web page and selecting View Page Source.

 

 

Then, just use the find function (CLTR + F) to search for <meta name=”description”. If you get the result, it’s there and you can view it. You can also see if it matches the one on the search results. If it’s not there… well… it’s not there.

 

 

As you can see, in Wikipedia’s case, it’s not there. You can also search for variations, such as “description” or “<meta” in case the tag is written in a slightly different way. I made sure that Wikipedia doesn’t have it.

 

Even if the meta description tag is missing, Google does display something pretty relevant in the search results.

 

 

It’s actually a phrase taken from the content of the page. In this case, it’s actually the first paragraph. You can view it in one of the images above.

 

Although widely believed so, Google doesn’t always pick the meta description tag to display it in the search. Even if the meta description tag is there, Google can still alter the text shown in the results pages. In fact, Google always chooses to pick what it wants. For example, if I add another keyword found in the homepage, Google will alter the text in the results to also show parts from that text.

 

 

Sometimes, if Google thinks the description is completely irrelevant for the article, it will ignore it completely and pick something else. Having control over what shows in the search engine results is very useful. You should craft your meta description well, so that Google picks that instead of anything else.

 

We’ll talk about how to write good meta descriptions for SEO soon in the article, so keep reading.

 
Why Meta Descriptions Don’t Matter (In Theory)

 

A long time ago, meta descriptions used to impact SEO directly. Search engines would parse these lines of text and look for keywords. A page would then be boosted on a keyword phrase if that particular keyword phrase was also found in the meta description (among with title tag and content).

 

I think you’ve figured out what followed. Obviously, people tried to abuse it by stuffing keywords in it, in an attempt to rank for as many phrases as possible. Since Google doesn’t like it when people abuse ranking factors, it made a big change in its algorithm, affecting everyone.

 

If this sounds familiar, then you might be mixing up the meta description tag with the meta keywords tag, which is actually obsolete (at least for Google).

Another common confusion is that meta descriptions matter for SEO and only meta keywords don’t matter.

I’ll clarify this right now:

 

In 2009, Google officially released a statement entitled “Google does not use the keywords meta tag in web ranking“. But, because they were lazy, many people didn’t read through the entire post and missed the following section:

 

Even though we sometimes use the description meta tag for the snippets we show, we still don’t use the description meta tag in our ranking.

Google

 

 

Even more, there is a video of Matt Cutts (Former Head of Spam @ Google) that talks only about the meta keywords tag not being used as a search ranking factor:

 

 

This doesn’t mean that Google completely ignores these meta tags, or all meta tags, as some users might think.

 

 

Although some people still use the meta keywords tag, it’s usually a good idea to show Google that you’re keeping up with the news. Older websites still use meta keywords internally, for things like product search or sorting. It’s also useful for Google Search Appliance. However, if you don’t use them, there’s no point in showing them.

 

Important note: Other search engines, like Yandex, still use the meta keywords tag as a search ranking factor. So if you’re trying to rank there, you should keep them. If your site is multilingual, you can try to keep the keywords meta tag for the /ru version and remove it from other languages that mainly use Google.

 
Why Meta Descriptions Matter (In Practice)

 

Ok, so Google says that meta descriptions don’t alter search engine rankings. But Google says many things and it’s also hard to find accurate information. As seen above, you have to carefully extract the semantics between the lines to clearly understand a topic. There’s more about the meta descriptions than just rankings.

 

Should you just ditch them altogether, if they don’t help with rankings? Hell no!

 

The description meta tag has a great importance and, indirectly, it might even affect search engine rankings.

 

How? Well, the short answer is: through CTR (click through rate).

 

Meta Descriptions Can Affect CTR

 

Click through rate represents the percentage of users that click on your search result from the total number of users that view your search result. It’s the same principles as a conversion rate, but with a different, more specific name.

 

The formula for calculating CTR is: Clicks / Impressions * 100. So, if you had 700 impressions and 20 people clicked on it, your CTR would be 20/700 * 100 = 2.86%. Or, much easier if you have 100 impressions and 5 clicks, then the click through rate would be 5%.

 

But why do meta descriptions affect CTR? Well, the answer to that is pretty simple. On the search page, you have 3 elements that mix up in order to create your search result:

 

Title tag
URL
Description (Meta description tag or other piece of text)

 

If you take a look at the results on a Google search page, you can see that the meta description takes up about 50% of the space. Sometimes, even more.

 

 

Even if the title tag is the most important one, description still matters. Google bolds important phrases in the description, which catch the eye. In order to make sense of the bolded phrases, you have to read the entire sentence or at least part of it.

 

The following example is a localized search result, so your search engine results might differ from mine. Nonetheless, it’s a good example of something that catches the eye. Now I know nothing about shoes, so in my opinion, branding here doesn’t matter. For me, the most interesting result is the last one.

 

Why? Because it mentions things I’m actually interested about, before actually seeing the shoes. I might not like them, of course (although there are over 15000 models to choose from), but I sure do want that 85% discount and prices as low as $15. For example, ASOS lists something about women. Well… I’m a man (a boy, at least) and I don’t care. Yoox has the luxury of getting 2 positions, which is great and also states something about delivery and online payments.

 

 

Now there could be a lot of other factors why the other websites are ranking higher. For once, shoes.com’s title is too long and the URL sucks. Other websites might be linked to locations closer to mine. Then we could go into technical SEO issues and number of referring domains.

 

Anyway, the results were inconsistent. Changing location from US to UK showed different results. For example, 6PM sometimes shown its own meta description and other times just showed menu elements, like in the picture above. In other cases, shoes.com showed at the top.

 

Now, the question that remains is: Does CTR affect SEO? Well, according to Google, yes! Brian Dean also mentioned this in his famous article about top Google ranking factors, at number 135. A wide number of other experts also agree that CTR is a Google ranking factor.

 

 

You see, Google gives a lot of importance to the user’s experience. If a user doesn’t click on your result, it has no experience whatsoever. Your score is basically 0. Only after the user clicks on your result can Google take a look at things like scroll count or bounce rate.

 

Meta Descriptions Are Used by Other Web Platforms

 

Secondly, meta descriptions might be important for other platforms. Just to mention a few of them, think of Facebook and Twitter. When you share a link on these platforms, they extract data from the HTML in order to display titles, images and descriptions.

 

Now these very popular platforms have their own tags. Twitter has Twitter Cards and Facebook uses the Open Graph tags to correctly display the required information.

 

However, many other web platforms might not have their own universally accepted tags and could rely on standard meta tags. Meta tags can also be important for apps and browsers.

 

Take advantage of custom tags, such as Twitter Cards and Facebook Open Graph. These will enable you to use different titles, descriptions and images across different platforms, which can increase your CTRs.

 

What works on search engines might not work on Facebook and what works on Facebook might not work on Twitter. This is mostly true with images. Facebook, for example, requires a specific size to display images nicely. Your website’s featured image might require a different size. Open Graph provides a solution to this issue.

 
How to Add Meta Description Tags

 

Writing a meta description tags is easy. Adding it is even easier. You just have to edit your HTML template from the cPanel of your web hosting service and add the following code between your <head> & </head> tag in the page.

 

<meta name=”description” content=”Here goes the description that you want to be shown in Google”>

 

Sounds hard? Don’t worry, I’m joking. Although you can do it on plain HTML websites, most websites use databases which makes things different.

 

If you’re running on a popular CMS (Content Management System) like WordPress, you can use a plugin. The most popular one is Yoast SEO. It’s pretty easy to use. After you install it, a box will appear under the article’s body, in the editor.

 

 

By default, WordPress uses the article/page heading as the <title> tag. A big advantage of using an SEO plugin is that you can use different titles on your site and on Google.

 

For example, maybe your heading doesn’t fit Google’s search engine results, but you really like it. You can keep that on your site and use the SEO plugin to display something shorter for the search engines.

 

If you click the preview, it will enable you to edit the fields. Right now, my fields are empty, but by the time I publish this article they will be filled up accordingly. If you click the social media tab on the left, it will also enable you to enter social media titles, descriptions and images. This will add the correct tags to your HTML and display the proper elements on each platform.

 

There are similar plugins for most popular platforms. Some themes even have their own SEO fields sections. I recommend that you use Yoast though. It’s definitely the best.

 
How to Write Good Meta Description Tags

 

It’s difficult to master the art of copywriting. It is definitely more complex than I can cover in this section and takes years of practice, trial and error to improve. When you write meta descriptions, think about selling the user something in one short paragraph. You’re selling him the click to your website.

 

Focus keyword: First of all, let’s discuss about keywords. I’ve stated that you shouldn’t stuff keywords in when writing meta description tags. While this is good advice, it doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t add keywords at all.

 

It’s important to add focus keywords to your descriptions. Why? Because Google bolds them and people like to see what they search for. If what they search for is in bold on your description, it reassures them that what they’re looking for lies behind that link.

 

 

If you’re targeting multiple keyword phrases, conduct some keyword research to identify the most important one. Use that in your description if others don’t fit. Which brings us to the next important aspect…

 

Length: Secondly, make sure you don’t exceed the number of characters. You might get your description cut in the wrong place and it won’t have the same impact anymore. As of May 2018, the recommended length is around 160-180 characters. Google confirmed shortening the length back to its initial state, after expanding it to around 300 characters, less than 6 months before, in December 2017.

 

Interesting & Relevant: You don’t have to deceive people. You just have to make them curious or excited. State out your discounts and premium features. Things that your competition doesn’t have. It’s interesting how people add discounts and interesting things in their paid search (Google Adwords) descriptions, but stuff keywords instead in meta descriptions for SEO. They serve the same purpose!

 

Call to Action: People like to be told what to do. If you view the source of this page (CTRL + U) and search for the description meta tag, you’ll see that I tell users to click the link. If you’re here through search engine rankings, it’s a clear sign that it worked. Add a call to action!

 

Every page should have its own, personalized meta description. This might be difficult for large eCommerce stores. You can use patterns to generate similar descriptions but with different elements, such as focus keyword and discount amount. However, be careful with duplicate meta descriptions, as this could tell Google that you have very similar pages and that could harm your website.

 

Conclusion

 

In short, Google says that meta descriptions do not directly impact search engine rankings. However, these descriptions can indirectly impact SEO through click through rates.

 

This is very important when you’re fighting between 1st, 2nd and 3rd place. There, things like technical SEO and backlinks tend to matter less. Google also has more room to play with the CTR, as the top 3 positions get about 80% of all the clicks.

 

Make sure you take advantage of the meta description tag and write your descriptions in a clever way, to convince users to click your link.

 

Do you use meta descriptions? What’s your experience with changing them? Did they have any impact on your click through rates? Let us know in the comments section. Also, if you have any questions, feel free to ask them. We’ll gladly reply.

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