Building a brand for your business

Posted by on Mar 31, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Building a brand for your business

At Yoast, we pride ourselves on our branding. I would go as far as saying that it has attributed a lot to our success. I also think that good and consistent branding needs to be talked about more, as it is one of the hallmarks of a great enterprise. Please let me explain why I think it’s important for a business to think about their branding and give some examples of what we did. Hopefully, it’ll inspire you to do better branding for your company!

What is branding?

First, let’s look at some definitions. The American Marketing Association on their site defines a brand as:

A brand is a name, term, design, symbol or any other feature that identifies one seller’s good or service as distinct from those of other sellers.

Lexico defines branding as:

The promotion of a particular product or company by means of advertising and distinctive design.

On the scientific side, definitions range widely too. David Aaker, called the “Father of Modern Branding” by marketing text book writer Philip Kotler, defines branding as:

“Far more than a name and logo, it is an organization’s promise to a customer to deliver what a brand stands for…in terms of functional benefits but also emotional, self-expressive, and social benefits”

David Aaker in Aaker on Branding

So, branding is the whole package: the name, the images, the advertising, the story. Good branding associates your company and/or product with positive feelings. Some major brands even go as far as only promoting the feelings in their advertisements, because we all know what the product is. If you’re in that stage, you’ve reached true “brand recognition”. If you succeed in making people feel certain feelings because they’ve bought something from you, the way I feel when I drink a Diet Coke, for instance, you’ve hit the jackpot.

How do you measure branding?

As digital marketers, we tend to want to measure everything and we think we can measure everything equally well. I don’t think that’s the case for branding. You might have the budget to do large scale brand research, but only truly big brands usually have that kind of money. And when you’re doing that research, the bigger question is: what do you want to do with the outcome of that research?

To go one step deeper, we probably need to define better what we’d be measuring if we can measure anything. I find this brand knowledge pyramid in this article by P. Chandon from INSEAD very useful:

Brand knowledge pyramid which describes going from brand awareness, to strong, favorable & unique brand assocations to postitive & accessible brand evaluations, to intense & active brnad loyalty.

So, if you see the above pyramid, brand awareness is a pre-requisite for everything else. If people don’t consider you when they’re making a purchase, everything else you do to “charge” your brand is useless. More people searching for you online, which you can see through, for instance, Google Trends, is a good measure of brand awareness. Note that it is always relative to your competition. Comparing searches for “Yoast” with searches for “Coca-Cola” is both non-sensical and mostly just self-flagellation. However, comparing searches for “Yoast SEO” with searches for “WordPress SEO” makes much more sense, and luckily, it shows that we won that battle 5 years ago.

If you really want to measure the impact, I think the smartest thing to do for smaller businesses is just seeing whether more people search for your brand online.

The brand “Yoast”

Given our definitions above, the brand Yoast has two sides to it: the brand image and the “functional” aspects of the brand. The functional aspects are a result of the functionality of our product, the quality of our UX, the usefulness of our features. To be able to build a good brand, having at least one good product is a requirement. Of course, that product can be a news site, or information, or whatever you want it to be, but it has to be great. For the purposes of this article, I’m going to assume that’s a given. The great product is there and exists.

The brand name

Some things get lost in history, and that’s kind of funny. Yoast is how you pronounce my first name (Joost) if you’d pronounce it in English. Basically, toast with a Y. These days, people at conferences who don’t know this, sometimes introduce me as “this is Juiced from Yoast”, which always cracks me up. What’s most important though is that Yoast is short, it’s easy to remember and it’s unique in our space.

For a while, keyword domain names were all the rage in the SEO industry. If you want to include the most important keyword for your business, make sure you stick something on to it that makes it rememberable and unique. This will make it a lot easier for people to search specifically for you. Some examples of this are for instance SearchEngineLand and Search Engine Journal. While they both clearly have the keyword in their brand name, the addition does make it a lot easier to search for them. At the same time, they do have longer brand names because of that. If your company name is long, think of whether abbreviating it is a good idea. Some of the best brands in the world are abbreviations: KLM, IBM, H&M, AT&T. You might not even know the words behind some of those abbreviations!

Building the brand image

Mijke, our brand manager, was one of the very first people I hired when I started hiring people. Erwin, the illustrator behind all of our avatars and a lot of the other images you see on this site, followed soon after. From the very beginning, things like color schemes and logos were important. But, also our positioning on who we are in the world are things that we’ve deemed as very important.

Even before he was a Yoast employee, Erwin drew my avatar. Paul Madden created my very first avatar as a doodle at a conference, and while very nice, Erwin improved upon it quite a bit. Later, when Yoast started growing, we asked Erwin to create an avatar for every new employee. We still endeavor to do this, but admittedly we’re running quite a bit behind at the moment.

If you’re interested in our avatars, this infographic is quite interesting (click to enlarge as it’s rather big):

Logos, but also: so much more

In many ways, our avatars were more important at the beginning of Yoast than our logo was. Our avatars, with their recognizable style, immediately made clear that someone who responded somewhere was a Yoast employee. People remember our avatars while most people do not remember our older logo’s.

Image of the old Yoast logo and the current Yoast logo.
The old Yoast logo vs the current one

You cannot just create a logo and then be done with it, you’ll have to give it some more thought, and depending on how big your company is, sometimes even a lot of thought.

Our branding is in every post image we create. You won’t find a lot of stock photos on, we use custom made illustrations for every important aspect of our site. Illustrations that contain exactly what we want them to contain, and are examples for the world we want to live in. These illustrations also hang in our offices as decoration, and during the COVID-19 work from home episode, we allowed our employees to pick one and we sent them some of these illustrations to hang on their home walls. That’s when you know your branding does bring a sense of community, just as in the pyramid above.

Branding in the search results

One of the things that I’ve always been very keen on is doing proper branding in the search results. It’s really important that when someone is researching a topic and you rank for a lot of the terms in that topic, they see you rank. Even if they don’t click on the first result. This is why I’ve always said it’s very important to include your brand name in titles. This is another spot where a relatively short brand name will help you, as you’ve got just so much more space to add a meaningful title. Usually, it makes the most sense to add the brand name to the end of the title and make it easily distinguishable. This can be as simple as - Brand name, we chose to use • Yoast. I think it stands out just a bit more, but mostly because hardly anybody else uses it, so think about what works for you and pick something!

Another opportunity for branding is the knowledge panel that might show up for your brand. Knowledge panels are a type of rich results in the search engines. They are a great asset to have. Be sure to optimize everything you can in that if you have one!


So, we’ve seen that branding is more than just having a logo. Branding needs to be consistent, as it is one of the hallmarks of a great enterprise. But, truly measuring and researching your brand is hard (and expensive). And, what exactly do you want to do with the outcome of that research? So, smaller businesses better just monitor searches for their brand to gauge if their branding efforts pay off. And, don’t forget: branding in the search results is something relatively simple, which can result in a lot of brand recognition. Which steps will you take to do better branding for your company?

Read more: 5 tips to improve your branding »

The post Building a brand for your business appeared first on Yoast.

Generating Local Content at Scale – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by on Mar 27, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Generating Local Content at Scale – Whiteboard Friday

Posted by rjonesx.

Building local pages in any amount can be a painful task. It’s hard to strike the right mix of on-topic content, expertise, and location, and the temptation to take shortcuts has always been tempered by the fact that good, unique content is almost impossible to scale.

In this week’s edition of Whiteboard Friday, Russ Jones shares his favorite white-hat technique using natural language generation to create local pages to your heart’s content.

Click on the whiteboard image above to open a high-resolution version in a new tab!

Video Transcription

Hey, folks, this is Russ Jones here with Moz again to talk to you about important search engine optimization issues. Today I’m going to talk about one of my favorite techniques, something that I invented several years ago for a particular client and has just become more and more and more important over the years. 

Using natural language generation to create hyper-local content

I call this using natural language generation to create hyper-local content. Now I know that there’s a bunch of long words in there. Some of you are familiar with them, some of you are not. 

So let me just kind of give you the scenario, which is probably one you’ve been familiar with at some point or another. Imagine you have a new client and that client has something like 18,000 locations across the United States.

Then you’re told by Google you need to make unique content. Now, of course, it doesn’t have to be 18,000. Even 100 locations can be difficult, not just to create unique content but to create uniquely valuable content that has some sort of relevance to that particular location. 

So what I want to do today is talk through one particular methodology that uses natural language generation in order to create these types of pages at scale.

What is natural language generation?

Now there might be a couple of questions that we need to just go ahead and get off of our plates at the beginning. So first, what is natural language generation? Well, natural language generation was actually originated for the purpose of generating weather warnings. You’ve actually probably seen this 100,000 times.

Whenever there’s like a thunderstorm or let’s say high wind warning or something, you’ve seen on the bottom of a television, if you’re older like me, or you’ve gotten one on your cellphone and it says the National Weather Service has issued some sort of warning about some sort of weather alert that’s dangerous and you need to take cover.

Well, the language that you see there is generated by a machine. It takes into account all of the data that they’ve arrived at regarding the weather, and then they put it into sentences that humans automatically understand. It’s sort of like Mad Libs, but a lot more technical in the sense that what comes out of it, instead of being funny or silly, is actually really useful information.

That’s our goal here. We want to use natural language generation to produce local pages for a business that has information that is very useful. 

Isn’t that black hat?

Now the question we almost always get or I at least almost always get is: Is this black hat? One of the things that we’re not supposed to do is just auto-generate content.

So I’m going to take a moment towards the end to discuss exactly how we differentiate this type of content creation from just the standard, Mad Libs-style, plugging in different city words into content generation and what we’re doing here. What we’re doing here is providing uniquely valuable content to our customers, and because of that it passes the test of being quality content.

Let’s look at an example

So let’s do this. Let’s talk about probably what I believe to be the easiest methodology, and I call this the Google Trends method. 

1. Choose items to compare

So let’s step back for a second and talk about this business that has 18,000 locations. Now what do we know about this business? Well, businesses have a couple of things that are in common regardless of what industry they’re in.

They either have like products or services, and those products and services might have styles or flavors or toppings, just all sorts of things that you can compare about the different items and services that they offer. Therein lies our opportunity to produce unique content across almost any region in the United States.

The tool we’re going to use to accomplish that is Google Trends. So the first step that you’re going to do is you’re going to take this client, and in this case I’m going to just say it’s a pizza chain, for example, and we’re going to identify the items that we might want to compare. In this case, I would probably choose toppings for example.

So we would be interested in pepperoni and sausage and anchovies and God forbid pineapple, just all sorts of different types of toppings that might differ from region to region, from city to city, and from location to location in terms of demand. So then what we’ll do is we’ll go straight to Google Trends.

The best part about Google Trends is that they’re not just providing information at a national level. You can narrow it down to city level, state level, or even in some cases to ZIP Code level, and because of this it allows us to collect hyper-local information about this particular category of services or products.

So, for example, this is actually a comparison of the demand for pepperoni versus mushroom versus sausage toppings in Seattle right now. So most people, when people are Googling for pizza, would be searching for pepperoni.

2. Collect data by location

So what you would do is you would take all of the different locations and you would collect this type of information about them. So you would know that, for example, here there is probably about 2.5 times more interest in pepperoni than there is in sausage pizza. Well, that’s not going to be the same in every city and in every state. In fact, if you choose a lot of different toppings, you’ll find all sorts of things, not just the comparison of how much people order them or want them, but perhaps how things have changed over time.

For example, perhaps pepperoni has become less popular. If you were to look in certain cities, that probably is the case as vegetarian and veganism has increased. Well, the cool thing about natural language generation is that we can automatically extract out those kinds of unique relationships and then use that as data to inform the content that we end up putting on the pages on our site.

So, for example, let’s say we took Seattle. The system would automatically be able to identify these different types of relationships. Let’s say we know that pepperoni is the most popular. It might also be able to identify that let’s say anchovies have gone out of fashion on pizzas. Almost nobody wants them anymore.

Something of that sort. But what’s happening is we’re slowly but surely coming up with these trends and data points that are interesting and useful for people who are about to order pizza. For example, if you’re going to throw a party for 50 people and you don’t know what they want, you can either do what everybody does pretty much, which is let’s say one-third pepperoni, one-third plain, and one-third veggie, which is kind of the standard if you’re like throwing a birthday party or something.

But if you landed on the Pizza Hut page or the Domino’s page and it told you that in the city where you live people actually really like this particular topping, then you might actually make a better decision about what you’re going to order. So we’re actually providing useful information. 

3. Generate text

So this is where we’re talking about generating the text from the trends and the data that we’ve grabbed from all of the locales.

Find local trends

Now the first step, of course, is just looking at local trends. But local trends aren’t the only place we can look. We can go beyond that. For example, we can compare it to other locations. So it might be just as interesting that in Seattle people really like mushroom as a topping or something of that sort.

Compare to other locations

But it would also be really interesting to see if the toppings that are preferred, for example, in Chicago, where Chicago style pizza rules, versus New York are different. That would be something that would be interesting and could be automatically drawn out by natural language generation. Then finally, another thing that people tend to miss in trying to implement this solution is they think that they have to compare everything at once.

Choose subset of items

That’s not the way you would do it. What you would do is you would choose the most interesting insights in each situation. Now we could get technical about how that might be accomplished. For example, we might say, okay, we can look at trends. Well, if all of the trends are flat, then we’re probably not going to choose that information. But we see that the relationship between one topping and another topping in this city is exceptionally different compared to other cities, well, that might be what gets selected.

4. Human review

Now here’s where the question comes in about white hat versus black hat. So we’ve got this local page, and now we’ve generated all of this textual content about what people want on a pizza in that particular town or city. We need to make sure that this content is actually quality. That’s where the final step comes in, which is just human review.

In my opinion, auto-generated content, as long as it is useful and valuable and has gone through the hands of a human editor who has identified that that’s true, is every bit as good as if that human editor had just looked up that same data point and wrote the same sentences.

So I think in this case, especially when we’re talking about providing data to such a diverse set of locales across the country, that it makes sense to take advantage of technology in a way that allows us to generate content and also allows us to serve the user the best possible and the most relevant content that we can.

So I hope that you will take this, spend some time looking up natural language generation, and ultimately be able to build much better local pages than you ever have before. Thanks.

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Top 10 Best St. Louis SEO Companies for 2020

Posted by on Mar 24, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Top 10 Best St. Louis SEO Companies for 2020

Looking for the best SEO companies in St. Louis to help you improve your Google rankings and organic search traffic?

You’re in the right place.

This is an unbiased list and none of these companies have paid for placement. Our detailed ranking criteria is below.

In short: it’s 100% based on publicly available data about each company.

Top 10 SEO Companies in St. Louis, Missouri

  1. Gotch SEO (30 points)
  2. Web Design and Company (29 points)
  3. St Louis Digital Media (22 points)
  4. SEO for Growth (20 points)
  5. Beanstalk Web Solutions (19 points)
  6. Clix (19 points)
  7. Timmermann Group  (19 points)
  8. Red Canoe Media (18 points)
  9. Clicked Studios (18 points)
  10. Kotton Grammer Media (18 points)

1. Gotch SEO

Gotch SEO St Louis

Yes, you’re on right now and yes, we’re #1 on this list.

While it may seem biased, it’s 100% based on data using the scoring system outlined below.

Gotch SEO is a St Louis SEO company founded by Nathan Gotch in 2013. Nathan is an internationally recognized SEO expert. His SEO blog attracts thousands of visitors every day, his YouTube channel receives over 500 views every day, and Nathan’s SEO expertise has been featured on Forbes, Entrepreneur,, Search Engine Journal, and many other prominent publications.

Gotch SEO has two divisions.

Our SEO services division helps qualified companies improve their rankings and grow their organic search traffic. Gotch SEO works with local, national, and e-com businesses with annual revenue of $1 million+.

Unlike most of the other companies you’ll see on this list, we only offer SEO services. We know what we’re good at, and we stick to it.

The other division is Gotch SEO Academy, which is a complete SEO training platform with over 1,000 students. It covers everything from creating an SEO-friendly website, to promoting your content to acquire more backlinks. This has helped some companies see an 300% lift in monthly revenue for their business.

2. Web Design and Company

Web Design and Company

Data shows that Web Design and Company deserve the second spot on our list of SEO companies in St Louis. They’re ranking well for the term, have a high domain rating, and a bunch of do-follow links pointing to their website.

As the name suggests, Web Design and Company focus primarily on web design, but offer SEO services, too. They’re a great option for businesses who need help with other areas of their digital marketing strategy (like web development) alongside SEO.

They’ve been in business for 18 years, claim to have created 500,000+ Google rankings, and serve a huge range of industries (rather than specializing in one niche.)

Web Design and Company pride themselves on delivering SEO reports that are “transparent and thorough”—one of which shows a search visibility uplift of 28% for a previous client.

Plus, Web Design and Company have created a range of WordPress products—like the Content Generator and Search Engine Simulator. The goal? To help companies do their own SEO more effectively.

3. St Louis Digital Media

St Louis digital media

As the name suggests, St Louis Digital Media is a full-service media agency. Marketing and SEO forms a branch of their service offering, alongside website design and PPC management.

St Louis Digital Media was created by Kyle O’Donnell in 2012, a marketing and advertising expert with a Bachelor of Science in Business Administration (BSBA) from the University of Missouri-Columbia. He also holds a Google AdWords certification.

Kyle’s team offers a free marketing consultation and/or website evaluation for every enquiry. This gives you a chance to see whether their recommendations for your website are something you should consider taking action on.

LinkedIn shows they have a small (but specialized) team of seven, including account managers and content marketing specialists. suggests their hourly rate falls between $150 and $199, with a minimum project size of $1,000.

The offices of St Louis Digital Media are on West Port Plaza Drive, near Page Avenue.

4. SEO for Growth

SEO for Growth

SEO for Growth is widely known as being an SEO book. The book touches on various SEO strategies, including lead generation, the Google algorithm, and content marketing. It has glowing reviews from Brian Dean, Sujan Patel, Larry Kim and Ann Handley.

However, SEO for Growth has a different business model. Instead of being a standalone agency operating in Missouri, they offer SEO consulting, audits, and link-building services for businesses in specific areas—similar to a franchise business model.

The St Louis branch of SEO for Growth is run by Ken Tucker, an Inbound Marketing Certified Consultant. Ken previously taught social media marketing and content marketing classes at the St. Charles Community College. He is also an Inbound Marketing Certified Professional, and Duct Tape Marketing Master Consultant.

To become a certified consultant for SEO for Growth, you need to take their SEO certification. This is level one of their training; you need to complete further training to use their franchise-style system in a specific location.

5. Beanstalk Web Solutions

Beanstalk Web Solutions

Beanstalk Web Solutions is another company who focus on web design services, but also help businesses in the St Louis area with their SEO.

Tim Hebel launched the company in 2013, and has grown to an 11-strong team based on West Moody Ave. They claim to have completed 450 projects for more than 400 clients, and have won awards such as Best Marketing Firms in St. Louis’ 2019 and The Top 50 Small Companies in St. Louis by Small Business Monthly. They’re also a certified Google Partner.

Beanstalk Web Solutions offer a 5-step SEO strategy for businesses in the St Louis area, starting from keyword research and website audits, and ending with detailed reports on the activity taken. They also help with the technical side of SEO with website maintenance and analytics services for WordPress sites.

And, because they’re a full-service marketing agency, they can help with other areas of your strategy—such as app development or website design—alongside your SEO campaigns.

6. Clix


Clix have offered both generic and local SEO services for over 22 years. They focus heavily on the technical side—including site speed, validating website coding, and developing metadata—due to their experience with web design and development. They work with large and small B2C, B2B, and government businesses.

Their team has 60+ years of industry experience and have Google Partner status. They’ve also made their way onto the Inc 5000 list of America’s fastest-growing private companies, and worked with a bunch of businesses in the St Louis area.

Clix was founded by Jason Hylan, a well-known blogger and national speaker in the marketing space. He’s also a Board Member of Entrepreneurs’ Organization in St Louis, Missouri.

They have more than 30 team members in their two offices in St Louis and Little Rock, all of which are specialists in a specific area—such as social media and copy. Again, this makes them a superb option if you’re in the market for more than SEO services.

7. Timmermann Group

Timmermann Group

Timmermann Group is another full-service marketing agency who offer services to companies in St Louis, Missouri. Their services include everything from photography and graphic design to branding and SEO.

They were recently voted as the best St Louis Marketing Firm, according to their website. And, they’re a certified Google Partner.

This agency was founded by Rob Timmermann in 2003, who has been voted one of the top St Louisans to know by Small Business Monthly. Now based on Locust St, they have a team of 22 marketing experts. They have continued to win awards like Best Marketing Firm and Best in Customer Service by Small Business Monthly.

Timmermann Group offers SEO services to both B2B and B2C companies. Their website shows they’ve worked with every industry from manufacturing and contracting to non-profit and healthcare.

And, as far as keyword rankings go, their website shows they’ve claimed some impressive positions for huge keywords. This includes “hospice services st louis” and “senior living services st louis”, which their client’s websites are ranking in the top spot.

8. Red Canoe Media

Red Canoe Media

Red Canoe Media is a marketing agency offering SEO services to businesses in Missouri who have annual revenues of between $2m and $20m/year. A small team of six, Red Canoe Media is headed-up by Will Hanke. They’re also a Google Partner agency.

Red Canoe Media also has an educational side to their agency. Their founder, Will, teaches monthly classes and runs coaching webinars about marketing through their St Louis Digital Marketing and SEO Workshops.

They also offer free online training you can take before enquiring about their services, host a Facebook Group for marketers, and a membership community to dive deeper into SEO-related questions.

However, one of the biggest differentiators between this SEO company and the others we’ve ranked so far is this: Red Canoe Media is owned by veterans.

Their founder, Will Hanke, served in the United States Air Force, and Will’s son is currently serving in the same force. This deep-rooted belief is shown in their agency’s name. The “RED” stands for Remember Everyone Deployed to show support for troops.

9. Clicked Studios

Clicked Studies

Clicked Studios is a digital marketing agency based in St. Louis, MO that serves B2B businesses and B2C e-commerce companies. However, they’re not a traditional SEO agency. Clicked Studios focuses on brand and app development—with SEO playing a role in that wider approach.

They offer monthly digital marketing services and charge between $5,000 and $15,000 for their design and development services, which includes everything from brand strategy and layout design to copywriting and mobile-friendly website design. Their award for Best Branding Agency in St Louis in 2019 backs this up.

Their founder, Frank Spohr, created the agency back in 2008. They’ve since grown to a specialized senior team of four and have an ever-expanding fulfillment team who have worked with local brands (like the St. Louis Auto Show), and huge brands (like eBay and Expressionery).

Clicked Studios works with House of Denmark. There was already a substantial amount of organic traffic coming to the client’s site, but those visitors weren’t converting. Since implementing their conversion strategy, Clicked Studios grew its email list by 460%.

Spohr’s LinkedIn profile states that they also managed to boost Clicked Studios’ website traffic by 106% after implementing their own advice on omnichannel digital marketing.

10. Kotton Grammer Media

Kotton Grammer Media

The final St Louis SEO company on our list is Kotton Grammer Media—a marketing agency that also helps businesses in 20+ other major US cities including Chicago, Orlando, and New Orleans.

Their owner and founder, Kotton Grammer, has been featured in sites like Forbes, Inc, The Huffington Post, and Entrepreneur. He also has a bunch of Google certifications that show proficient skill in Analytics, AdWords, and Video Advertising.

Plus, Kotton hosts marketing webinars for small businesses alongside the agency’s service offering. He claims to have generated $40,000,000 in digital products through these webinars, according to his LinkedIn profile.

In return for an enquiry, the team at Kotton Grammer Media offer a free report card. This free SEO audit includes important changes that promise to grow your traffic—a great way to spot whether you need help from their team to implement them. You don’t need to handover cash, nor commit to a long contract, to get their input.

Scoring Criteria

Ranking the best SEO companies in St Louis isn’t as simple as taking Google’s word for it. There are several things to take into consideration.

Granted, the SEO performance of the company’s website is important. But we dug deeper, looking at this alongside other key data—like their Google reviews, for example. Our scoring criteria also meant each company must be located in the target city.

We ranked the top companies using metrics like:

  • Whether they had an SSL certificate
  • If the site was mobile-friendly
  • If the site loaded in less than 3 seconds
  • Domain rating
  • Number of referring domains
  • Total traffic to the site
  • The total number of Google reviews
  • The average review score of each

These SEO companies were all given a score out of five for each category. We ranked them based on this score, with Gotch SEO coming out on top with 30 points, shortly followed by Web Design and Company with 29 points.

The final three companies, along with two others that didn’t make the top 10, all received 18 points. So, we ran a tie-breaker scoring system that ranked them from best to worst for their loading speed, number of referring domains, and total number of Google reviews:

Tie Breaker

You can view the scoring criteria here.

Start sending enquiries today

If you’re looking to hire an SEO agency in St Louis, use this guide as your starting point.

This guide is a comprehensive list of the best SEO companies in St Louis, based on actual data—not opinion. Each list we’ve shared meets key SEO criteria, and has proven experience that indicates they might be a great fit for businesses in Missouri.

The only thing left to do is to judge for yourself. Browse their website, read their case studies, and submit an enquiry. Use your own judgement call to pick the one most-likely to help you meet your SEO goals.

Revenue Quality & Leverage

Posted by on Mar 23, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Revenue Quality & Leverage

The coronavirus issue is likely to linger for some time.

Up to 70% of Germany could become infected & some countries like the UK are even considering herd immunity as a strategy:

“I’m an epidemiologist. When I heard about Britain’s ‘herd immunity’ coronavirus plan, I thought it was satire”
– William Hanage

What if their models are broken?

Many companies like WeWork or Oyo have been fast and loose chasing growth while slower growing companies have been levering up to fund share buybacks. Airlines spent 96% of free cash flow on share buybacks. The airlines seek a $50 billion bailout package.

There are knock-on effects from Boeing to TripAdvisor to Google all the way down to travel affiliate blogger, local restaurants closing, the over-levered bus company going through bankruptcy & bondholders eating a loss on the debt.

Companies are going to let a lot of skeletons out of the closet as literally anything and everything bad gets attributed to coronavirus. Layoffs, renegotiating contracts, pausing ad budgets, renegotiating debts, requesting bailouts, etc. The Philippine stock market was recently trading at 2012 levels & closed indefinitely.

Brad Geddes mentioned advertisers have been aggressively pulling PPC budgets over the past week: “If you have to leave the house to engage in the service, it just seems like it’s not converting right now.”

During the prior recession Google repriced employee options to retain talent.

In spite of consumers being glued to the news, tier one news publishers are anticipating large ad revenue declines:

Some of the largest advertisers, including Procter & Gamble Unilever, Apple, Microsoft, Danone, AB InBev, Burberry and Aston Martin, made cuts to sales forecasts for the year. With the outlook for the spread of the virus changing by day, many companies are caught in a spiral of uncertainty. That tends to gum up decisions, and ad spending is an easy expenditure to put on pause. The New York Times has warned that it expects advertising revenue to decline “in the mid-teens” in the current quarter as a result of coronavirus.

More time online might mean search engines & social networks capture a greater share of overall ad spend, but if large swaths of the economy do not convert & how people live changes for an extended period of time it will take time for the new categories to create the economic engines replacing the old out-of-favor categories.

[IMPORTANT: insert affiliate ad for cruise vacations here]

As Google sees advertisers pause ad budgets Google will get more aggressive with keeping users on their site & displacing organic click flows with additional ad clicks on the remaining advertisers.

When Google or Facebook see a 5% or 10% pullback other industry players might see a 30% to 50% decline as the industry pulls back broadly, focuses more resources on the core, and the big attention merchants offset their losses by clamping down on other players.

At its peak TripAdvisor was valued at about $14 billion & it is now valued at about $2 billion.

TripAdvisor announced layoffs. As did Expedia. As did As did many hotels. And airlines. etc. etc. etc.

I am not suggesting people should be fearful or dominated by negative emotions. Rather one should live as though many other will be living that way.

In times of elevated uncertainty, in business it is best to not be led by emotions unless they are positive ones. Spend a bit more time playing if you can afford to & work more on things you love.

Right now we might be living through the flu pandemic of 1918 and the Great Depression of 1929 while having constant access to social media updates. And that’s awful.

Consume less but deeper. Less Twitter, less news, fewer big decisions, read more books.

It is better to be more pragmatic & logic-based in determining opportunity cost & the best strategy to use than to be led by extreme fear.

  • If you have sustainable high-margin revenue treasure it.
  • If you have low-margin revenue it might quickly turn into negative margin revenues unless something changes quickly.
  • If you have low-margin revenue which is sustainable but under-performed less stable high-margin revenues you might want to put a bit more effort into those sorts of projects as they are more likely to endure.

On a positive note, we might soon get a huge wave of innovation

“Take the Great Depression. Economist Alexander Field writes that “the years 1929–1941 were, in the aggregate, the most technologically progressive of any comparable period in U.S. economic history.” Productivity growth was twice as fast in the 1930s as it was in the decade prior. The 1920s were the era of leisure because people could afford to relax. The 1930s were the era of frantic problem solving because people had no other choice. The Great Depression brought unimaginable financial pain. It also brought us supermarkets, microwaves, sunscreen, jets, rockets, electron microscopes, magnetic recording, nylon, photocopying, teflon, helicopters, color TV, plexiglass, commercial aviation, most forms of plastic, synthetic rubber, laundromats, and countless other discoveries.”

The prior recession led to trends like Groupon. The McJobs recovery led to services like Uber & DoorDash. Food delivery has been trending south recently, though perhaps the stay-at-home economy will give it a boost.

I have been amazed at how fast affiliates moved with pushing N95 face masks online over the past couple months. Seeing how fast that stuff spun up really increases the perceived value of any sustainable high-margin businesses. is hiring another 100,000 warehouse workers as people shop from home. Amazon banned new face masks and hand sanitizer listings. One guy had to donate around 18,000 cleaning products he couldn’t sell.

I could see online education becoming far more popular as people aim to retrain while stuck at home.

What sorts of new industries will current & new technologies lead to as more people spend time working from home?


URL Structure. Dos, Don’ts and Best Practices for SEO

Posted by on Mar 20, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on URL Structure. Dos, Don’ts and Best Practices for SEO

Hey, we get it. The URL structure is a difficult SEO topic. It’s not easy to master, but not impossible, either.
In fact, we’re here to make things easier for you.


In this article, we’ll try to answer all your questions and provide examples for a better understanding of how the structure of your URLs influence your SEO strategies.


URL structure_cognitiveSEO


Even if you own an eCommerce website or are struggling with Local SEO and WordPress, after reading this article you’ll know how to set up your website’s URL structure for great SEO results.

So, keep on reading.


  1. What Are URLs?
  2. Why Are URLs Important for SEO?
  3. Does URL Structure Affect Google Rankings?
  4. URL Structure & User Experience
  5. URL Types: Static URLs vs. Dynamic URLs
  6. Click Depth vs. URL Structure
  7. Subdomains vs. Subfolders
  8. Trailing Slash vs. No Trailing Slash
  9. Best URL Structure for Local SEO & WordPress
  10. The Best URL Structure for eCommerce Websites
  11. URL Structure Mistakes
  12. Best URL Structure for SEO (Tips & Tricks)
  13. Does Google Plan to Get Rid of URLs in the Future?



What Are URLs?


A URL (short for Uniform Resource Locator) is the address of a resource on the internet.


You can think of it as a regular address, for a house.


Servers and browsers use URLs to access web pages and resources on the web. You type in an address, you reach a web resource. It’s pretty simple on the surface.


Now, of course, there are a lot of technical aspects to Uniform Resource Locators. However, most of them aren’t an issue for the regular web developer, since they’re handled well by servers and platforms these days.


url structure



Because platforms make it so ‘easy’, the URL structure of a website is often neglected. It’s not easy to understand and nobody tells you why you should pay attention to it.


People end up with big sites and bad URL structures and, unfortunately for them, URL issues are pretty nasty.




Because they require a lot of patience and double, if not triple check-ups to make sure nothing goes wrong.


If you mess things up, you can end up with a big drop in all your rankings.


So, it’s a lot better if you get things right from the beginning instead of fixing them later, when the site is big.


URL Web Address


Why Are URLs Important for SEO?


A lot of search engine optimization experts say that the URLs are very important for SEO.


So, are they?


Well… yes, they are.


A URL is important as it’s a link between the user and your content.


Google shouldn’t really care what your URL is as long as it’s compliant, indexable & unique. But what does this mean exactly?


google webmaster url structure


What’s really important is what’s behind that URL #thecontent.


Many say the URL needs to be short but, in my personal experience, Google handles long URLs just fine. And they can rank well too.


So, only “refining” your URLs constantly won’t help you very much to achieve true SEO success.


There are other, more important, OnPage SEO tasks to attend to.


What Google actually cares about in relation to your URLs is your site’s structure.


Structure is related to your URLs, but also to click depth, which we’ll soon talk about.


The good thing with URL structure is that you just have to set up things right once (for the bigger picture).

Then, just follow a simple list of best practices (which I’ll share with you soon) when creating new URLs.



Does URL Structure Affect Google Rankings?


URLs can definitely impact SEO.


There are a number of issues that are related to URLs that can affect your rankings. Two of the most important ones are keywords and length.


First of all,  you have to make sure that your URLs are valid. Only use the allowed URL characters. If you don’t know what those are, then the best thing to do is to stick to letters, numbers and dashes. Not underscores, but dashes.


As Google recommends:


Consider using punctuation in your URLs. The URL is much more useful to us than We recommend that you use hyphens (-) instead of underscores (_) in your URLs.


Keywords in the URL can also help you rank better for a specific phrase. For example, if I want to write for “Site Explorer” it’s a good idea to have my URL as /site-explorer.


Having something completely irrelevant in the URL can negatively impact the rankings of that  page, as the URL should be descriptive of the content within the page.


So that’s  why it’s a good idea to do some keyword research before writing your URLs. You can use our Keyword Research Tool.


Another important factor is the URL length. This isn’t an official ranking factor, but there is a strong correlation between shorter URL length and higher rankings.


It’s a good idea to read this entire article to find out how to have the best URL structure for your website, as it can definitely have an impact on your rankings on the long term.


URL Uniqueness


A URL has to be unique. Well… there’s no other way around it, actually. You can’t have two of the same URL and not land in the same place.


What you need to understand is that there’s a big link between URLs and content.


Google likes mapping content to a single URL. That makes it unique.


Can You Have the Same Content on Different URLs?


Have the same piece of content on different URLs and Google won’t like it.


For example, duplicate content is mostly considered a content problem when, in reality, it’s strongly linked to URLs.


Don’t believe me? Let me show you what I’m talking about:


You have a product that fits two categories on your site. That’s perfectly fine. However, if your standard website URL structure is an hierarchical one, then the product might show on two different URLs (with the same content).


So we could have a plant-A in the category green-plants but also in tall-plants. If the URL structure is hierarchical, it will look something like this:


This way, and both host the same content, which makes it duplicate content.


That’s why, for big eCommerce websites, it’s a good idea to separate the products from the categories. This way you could have:


This issue above is strongly related to structure. If you structure your website in a hierarchical way without considering the above mentioned, you’re bound to have duplicate content issues.


Of course, sometimes you can use hierarchical structures to your advantage, such as when you have a simple local website with presentations.


If you know that ‘logo’ and ‘design’ are bound to the ‘branding’ category and ‘ads’ and ‘seo’ are bound to the ‘digital marketing’ category, then there’s no issue in keeping them like that. It actually makes sense to do so!



URL Structure & User Experience


Many SEOs say that URLs are important for a user’s experience. Let’s see why. 


Usually, you end up on a website either through the root domain name or from another website, through a link.


You’ll rarely type in in the browser to access that page.


Most probably, you’ll go there through the Google search results or via our navigation menu.


Even if it was for you to access that URL from another website, it would probably be under an anchor text, like this: SEO Case Studies.


Google has been making efforts to shorten/hide the display of URLs in the browser, if not removing URLs altogether.
(Yes, indeed… well talk more about this at the end of the article.)


Sure, a very long URL can look shady and discourage people from clicking it.


What would you rather click?



Well, if it comes from a reliable source (such as a friend), you’ll probably click it. But otherwise, most likely, you won’t. 


From what I know, the longest URLs on the web are Google search results pages and links with Facebook ID parameters. Please feel free to share your opinion on this matter on the comments section below.


URLs are, however, important for a blogger’s experience.


If you want to get backlinks, you want to make your URLs appealing.


You don’t want to discourage a blogger to share your post on social media or link to your site from their blog posts.


That’s what I think an ‘SEO Friendly URL’ means. So keep your URLs pretty.


URL Types: Static URLs vs. Dynamic URLs


URLs can be split into two categories. You have dynamic URLs and static URLs.


But which ones should you use?


Websites, especially eCommerce stores, have both static and dynamic URLs.


In fact, any platform which has a database probably has some sort of dynamic URL protocol.


So if I set up a basic HTML website, those would be true static URLs. When I have a platform with a database and I’m trying to pull information from that database (let’s say eCommerce filters, such as colors and sizes) the platform will generate dynamic URLs.


Static Vs Dynamic URL


In Google’s eyes, all URLs are ‘static’. Once they’re indexed, it’s done. Change it without a 301 and Google will consider it gone and derank it.


The issue with dynamic URLs is that there’s an infinite amount of URLs that can be generated. That happens because of filters.


If you’re not careful, you won’t be able to keep track of them easily.


It’s a good idea to avoid too many parameters in a single URL. Limit them to 2 or 3.


This usually occurs when people add too many irrelevant filters and index too many pages.


Most of the time, people index all the parameters, which is a bad practice. Why index a page if it doesn’t have any searches?


Make sure that the parameters you’re letting Google index actually have searches. So if you have a sweater in 10 colors, see if people search for all those colors.


If not, index only the ones that do have searches.


Thus, if people only search for ‘red sweaters’, then you will only index This means that ?color=blue, ?color=black would remain unindexed.


Moreover, keep your parameters in an absolute order!


What does that mean? It means that if your user selects the color first and then the size, the URL will be ?color=red&size=small but if he selects the size first and then the color, the URL will still be color=red&size=small.


So the order of the parameters in the URL doesn’t change. It’s the better option.


Sometimes, it’s not easy to set up a proper faceted navigation that benefits both the user experience and SEO.


If you want to set up a filtering menu properly, read this article about Faceted Navigation & Filters.




Keeping an absolute order is not always easy to achieve. You’ll need a good web developer.


In case you can’t keep absolute order for parameters, canonicalization is an easy alternative.


So if you have both URLs (?color=red&size=small and ?size=small&color=red) you can just pick one as the main URL.


Remember to also self canonicalize the main URL.


Therefore, if ?color=red&size=small is our main URL, it would have a rel=”canonical” to ?color=red&size=small and then ?size=small&color=red would have a rel=”canonical” to ?color=red&size=small.


Confusing, I know, but very important. You can find out more about canonical tags & URLs here


301 Redirects


I want to make sure I also cover 301 redirects in this article, because they’re really important.


If you simply move a web page from one URL to another, Google will just consider the old page gone and the new page a fresh one.


301 redirects SEO



This means that it has to rank it again, which means you’ll lose the rankings of the old one and have to put up all the work again to rank the new one.


To keep the rankings and make Google understand that the old page simply changed its location, you have to use 301 redirects.


You probably know all that, but you’d be surprised how many people forget to properly 301 when merging websites. This has catastrophic consequences, so make sure you properly 301.


It’s also a good idea to avoid redirect chains. So, it’s better to have A > C and B > C than A > B > C.


If you’re looking for SEO tools that can trace redirect chains, the CognitiveSEO Site Audit is a good choice. You’ll find what you need under Architecture > URLs / URL Chains.


Redirects & Redirect Chains


Click Depth vs. URL Structure


URLs are about technical SEO. Not so much user oriented. Click depth, on the other side, is very user oriented.


Remember when I said that click depth also matters in the site’s structure?


Your site’s structure reflects itself in the click depth and your users react to it.


The more users have to click to get to where they want, the less likely they are to convert.


Click Through Rate


The same thing goes with Google. The deeper the click depth to a page, the less important Google thinks it is.


Click Depth is also technical, but it reflects the human behavior, more specifically users’ interaction with your website.


Click depth matters for SEO. We could even say it’s one of Google’s ranking signals. In fact, Google official John Mueller said it himself.


Now if you read my stuff in general, you know I’m not a big fan of just going after what John Mueller says.


However, in this case, there’s a lot of proof to back it up.




Breadcrumbs can be a sketch of your site’s structure.


There are multiple ways you can implement breadcrumbs on your site.


The first would be in relation with the URL and site structure and the second in relation with the user’s click path.


It’s better to implement the first one, in general. A user’s click path can also be followed via the back and forward buttons in the browser.


You also have more control on making the breadcrumbs useful to the user if you structure your site properly.


Breadcrumbs & Trails URL Site Structure


For example, if you list the featured product Tuna on the Homepage and the user clicks it, a history based breadcrumb system would generate Home > Tuna.


Not very useful if the user also wants to see other types of fish.


Instead, if I have the I can have Home > Categories > Fish > Tuna, regardless of where the user comes from on that page.


The breadcrumbs can (and should) be hierarchical, even if the URL structure isn’t.


This means that I can have and


Home > Shoes > Running > NikeXYZ where ‘NikeXYZ’ would link to, ‘Running’ would link to and ‘shoes’ to, while the Home breadcrumbs will link to


You can see how the site’s structure doesn’t always reflect in the URL path.


Subdomains vs. Subfolders


When structuring your site, there’s always the option of using subdomains.


A subdomain is what’s before your root domain name. Thus, is a subdomain, while is a subfolder.


Subdomains act… sort of like separate websites.


Many say there’s no difference between using subdomains vs. using subfolders, but many have also brought proof that it’s safer to use subfolders.


If your internal links strategy is set up properly, subdomains should also work very well.


While subdomains can rank properly, if you don’t know what you’re doing it’s better to stick with subdirectories.


Trailing Slash vs. No Trailing Slash


I’m just going to keep this short: it doesn’t matter.


Just make sure you keep it consistent and properly 301 to the main version.


Google treats and as separate URLs.


If you don’t use 301, both pages will get indexed and they will cannibalize each other.


In the old days of the internet, most web pages would have an extension as they were all seen as file names (such as page.html).


The trailing slash would represent a folder instead of a file, but today that’s not the case anymore. Just be consistent and 301 properly.


Relative URLs vs. Absolute URLs


Links can be absolute URLs or relative URLs.


Absolute URLs include the protocol, subdomain, subfolder and everything else after.


An absolute URL would be


A relative URL would be /page/subpage/.


It’s very important to use relative URLs only on your website and absolute URLs on other websites.


So, if you do link building to get backlinks, make sure you always use absolute URLs.


For Google, it doesn’t really matter which one you use on your website, but it can affect you if you want to change your domain name or switch from HTTP to HTTPS.


If you use absolute URLs as part of your internal linking strategy, when you change your domain, those absolute URLs will remain, thus still linking to the old domain.


Sure, you will have 301 redirects set up, but it’s always better to have the new domain in all your internal links.


So make sure that when you do internal linking, you use relative URLs if possible, so when you make any changes to your domain, the platform can take care of everything and you won’t have to manually replace thousands of links.



Best URL Structure for Small Sites, Local SEO & WordPress


Small websites can have hierarchical URL structures, as previously mentioned. Just make sure you won’t cause duplicate content issues.


If you’re targeting multiple locations, then you should have separate pages for each location you’re targeting.


I know, many might say that these are doorway pages and that Google penalizes them.


However, they’ve been proven to work countless times. There’s also no alternative to doorway pages.


Keep it relevant and Google will reward you.

Local SEO URL Structure

If you have a WordPress blog, then you most probably want to keep the pages immediately after the root URL.


We’ve separated our blog under /blog because we have a separate WordPress install in /blog which makes it impossible for us to place article URLs immediately after the root domain name.


You might also notice the numbers after the blog. That’s an identifier, which was a technical necessity some time ago. It’s better if you don’t have those.


So, if you can, go for instead of


If you’re wondering why we’re not doing this, here’s the answer: We could remove them, but it would require a big effort mapping all the articles for 301 redirects and we don’t consider this would have a big / positive impact on your rankings.


Our website has multiple functionalities and is pretty big and complex. We have our tools landing pages in our root domain, so it makes sense to separate our blog in the /blog subdirectory.


If you just have a blog, then keep URLs immediately after the root. Brian Dean’s blog on is a good example.


Avoid using the date in the URL if your post is evergreen. This will discourage users to click your result in the future and will also make Google think your content is ‘old’.


The Best URL Structure for eCommerce Websites


When it comes to eCommerce websites, things aren’t that simple with URLs.


The safest way to go for it is to separate each section in its own subdirectory.


This means that you’ll need a /blog/ or /articles/ prefix for your articles and posts, a  /products/ prefix for your products and a /categories/ for your categories and so on.


This helps you keep track of your pages. If you every crawl your website to analyze it… it will be a nightmare to analyze the information if all the post types were in the root domain.


Image result for site structure



Make sure you don’t add too many subcategories. Remember, try to keep the click depth … shallow.


Take advantage of the breadcrumbs recommendations I’ve made above.


Make sure you know exactly which URL parameters/filters you index and which you don’t.


You should definitely read this article about Faceted Navigation for SEO


URL Structure  Mistakes


There are some things that you must definitely avoid when creating your URL structure.


Here’s a list of the top biggest mistakes that webmasters make when they create their URLs.


Changing URLs without 301


As you’re on a page about URLs, if your structure is bad or you’re contemplating on changing it, then I can’t stress this enough.


Your rankings will drop if you don’t properly 301 from the old pages to the new ones.


Remember, if you change the URL, you MUST use 301 redirect from the old one to the new one.


Having multiple variants


One problem that  many websites have is not properly redirecting all the variants of the site to a single one.


For example you can have HTTP and HTTPS and then with WWW or without WWW.


This results in 4 versions which Google sees as separate sites, in a way:


Make sure you pick one and 301 redirect all the others to it.


You can read more about which version you should choose in our article about WWW vs non-WWW .


Having multiple URLs for the same content


Sometimes, it can happen the different URLs have the same content. This is called duplicate content and it can happen often in eCommerce websites.


You can have, for example, two filter parameters such as ‘red’ and ‘small’.


However, if all your red products are small and all your small products are red, those pages will mostly be identical.


This is just a hypothetical example, but things can scale pretty quickly, creating hundreds if not thousands of very very similar URLs with not much value.


If you want to read more about how to fix this issue, check out our Faceted Navigation Guide.


Using ‘bad’ characters


Browsers only support certain characters in the URL.


Most content management systems know how to handle these and will strip them from the URL if you add them unknowingly.


It’s best to avoid parameters and complicated URLs, at least for the pages you want to be indexed and ranked well.


Google can handle parameters with numbers and other characters, but most of the pages you want to rank high for very competitive keywords should be static URLs with keywords in them.


Using too many subdirectories & categories


If you have an eCommerce website, try to keep things short. Don’t add hundreds of layered subcategories. Only add the important ones.


A good idea to know which ones are important is to do proper keyword research. If nobody searches for those terms, maybe don’t add them as subcategories.


You might have some granular structure that seems important, but if users only search for the 5th level, then maybe make it the first or the second and cut the other ones.


Keeping everything in root domain


When you create the structure  of the site, make sure to separate different articles


Some web masters consider that the shorter the URL, the better. But not in every case!


If you have a blog on a certain topic, such as, it might make sense to keep everything in the root domain. You have very few pages and it’s easy to manage.


However, if you have a big site, and you have services, products, articles, locations and so on, it will be a nightmare to analyse the website after a crawl if everything is in the root domain.


Not using keywords or using too many keywords


Make sure you have some of the most important keywords the users are searching for in your URL.


Not having keywords at all is a very bad idea, especially if you have only numbers, or dates or so.


So if you have an article about really good rock bands don’t let your URL be but instead have it


On the other side, it’s a good idea to not have the keywords too many times. It looks spammy and Google can pick up on that.


Avoid creating duplicate iterations of the keywords in the URLs.


This can happen often on eCommerce websites, when creating categories and not editing their URLs.


The content management system will just pick up the title of the page, and the hierarchical URL structure will look like this.


A better option would be:


Best URL Structure for SEO (Tips & Tricks)


There is no clear best URL structure for SEO as this depends on very many factors. However, in order to maximize the search engine optimization benefits, make sure to follow these best practices for SEO friendly URLs.


Use Keywords in Your URLs:


Keywords are very important for SEO. It’s a good idea to add them in your URL. These URLs are called semantic URLs.


It’s more important to have your target keywords in your title tags and content than in the URL.


However, adding them in the URL can bring some benefits:


For once, if users look just at the URL, they’ll know what it’s about.




If you do link building to your page without using keyword rich anchor texts, the URL will act as the anchor text so it’s a good idea to have the keywords there!


You can simplify URLs by removing short or less descriptive words such as stop words. Here are some stop words examples: to, the,  how, and, for, it, a, why.


For example, instead of /how-to-jump-really-high/ you could just go for /jump-higher/ or /improve-jumping/.


You don’t always have to remove the stop words from your URL.


For example, you might have the target keyword “how to cook” where the URL is just perfect.


It’s also a good idea to add the main keyword in the URL, if you have one and it also has searches.


In this case, it fits my article: people search for “url structure seo” and my URL is /url-structure-seo/.


But people also search for “how does URL structure affect SEO”. Why didn’t I choose this keyword phrase as my URL?


Because the first one has more searches 🙂 I’ll let you figure out the rest.


If you’re looking for SEO tools that can check that for you on a large scale, make sure to check out CognitiveSEOs Site Explorer. You’ll find what you’re looking for in the Architecture > URLs section.


Keywords in URLs SEO Tools

CognitiveSEO Site Audit URL Analyzer Tool


Keep the URLs Short:

The popular opinion is that shorter URLs rank better.


While I personally still have to investigate this matter, I still keep my URLs short and to the point.


Why? Because they are better for user experience. Here’s how our most important pages URLs are:


URL Structure SEO  Examples


On a WordPress platform (not our case for the main site), they would be generated using data from the post title.


Content management systems such as WordPress would strip  some elements that are incompatible, so they would be like this:


Not… horribly, but not very good either.


And it’s also on the safer side to keep them short. If URL length does actually matter for OnPage SEO, better have it short rather than long, right?


While there’s a correlation between shorter URLs and high rankings, it doesn’t 100% mean it’s because of the shorter URLs.


Maybe very well optimized sites also like to have prettier, shorter URLs.


However, don’t try to make them too short. For example, some use /p/ instead of /products/ and /c/ instead of /categories/.


I don’t think that’s necessary. In fact, I consider it looks more spammy.


Too short might also mean removing some important keywords


Keep URLs Unique


Make sure you don’t already have very similar pages before you write and publish a new page.


If you do, it might be a good idea to better optimize the other page instead, or target a different topic/set of keywords for the new one.


Use Hyphens Instead of Underscores & Avoid Special Characters in Your URLs


Hyphens and underscores look very similar, but on the internet they’re treated pretty differently.


Google recommends that you should avoid underscores in your URLs. They can cause issues.


Underscores are treated as word joiners by Google, while dashes as word separators.


People are also used to dashes more. So your URL should be url-structure-seo not url_structure_seo.


Also, avoid any special characters in your URL, except the basic ones used for parameters and anchors such as ? & = #.


Most platforms won’t even let you do it but, if your URL contains characters such as , or ; or ‘, it can cause problems.


If you don’t know what a special character means or does in a URL, then it’s better not to use it.


Of course, there’s also the trailing slash /, which is ok to use.


Use as Few URL Parameters as Possible


Parameters can add to length and they also make a URL look 


However, in certain situations, they also add keywords in your URL which can be a good thing if people search for those keywords.


Remember to only index the pages people actually search for instead of every possible filter combination your site can come up with.


Prioritize & Think about Click Depth


Don’t add too many deep pages, such as subcategories inside subcategories #inception.


Keep it short and to the point.


If you do have a lot of deep pages which are important, make sure you use internal links in your blog posts or other sections of your website so that Google can properly find them.


You can also share these pages on social media or other websites from time to time.


Avoid Hierarchical URLs When You Have a Site that Changes Often


This goes mostly for eCommerce or any site that is very dynamic, such as news sites, car trading sites, events sites, etc.


You can use hierarchy if you’re sure a resource won’t change its parent.


Don’t Stuff Keywords in Your URLs


Keyword stuffing is bad in content, bad in title tags and bad in URLs.


Don’t do it!


Sometimes, people stuff in keywords in their URLs by mistake.




I’m not sure it’s the best example, but I hope you get the point.


Instead, maybe go for something like:


Avoid Duplicate, Similar & Thin Content


Again, duplicate issues are mostly caused by poor URL structure implementation, bad canonicalization and indexation practices.


Make sure you don’t have very similar pages on your website or they will impact your overall website SEO performance.


If you’re looking for SEO Tools that can fix duplicate content issues, then the CognitiveSEO Site Audit Tools is perfect for you. You can find what you’re looking for under the Content Section.


Thin & Duplicate Content SEO


Does Google Plan to Get Rid of URLs in the Future?


It might be the case that, in the future, Google will pursue its dream of getting rid of URLs.


The first step would be not to display them at all, first in the search results and then in the browser itself.


However, getting rid of URLs 


This all started with Google AMP, where Google caches the resources on their web servers, therefore displaying them on their ugly URLs, which they then hid.


If you want to know more about the subject, read this article about Google trying to remove URLs.




The URL structure of your website is important. Don’t neglect it! You only have to set it up right once.


Once you structure things properly, just follow the best practices. Add your target keywords, think about URL length, avoid keyword stuffing, limit irrelevant URL parameters and you’re good to go.


How did you set up your URL structure? Let me know in the comments section below!

The post URL Structure. Dos, Don’ts and Best Practices for SEO appeared first on SEO Blog | cognitiveSEO Blog on SEO Tactics & Strategies.

How eCommmerce is Being Impacted by Coronavirus and What SEOs Could Do

Posted by on Mar 19, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How eCommmerce is Being Impacted by Coronavirus and What SEOs Could Do

Covid-19 has had a noticeable impact on our economy so far, there is no doubt about that. Here at Distilled<>Brainlabs, we are doing our best to help our clients understand consumer insights and behaviors during this unprecedented time. With no surprise, e-com has been very affected by such circumstances, especially in geographical areas where the virus has been more prominent.

With this post, we aim to share some of the insights we have been seeing, with the intent to help other agencies and brands gather valuable insights to emerge faster from a time of crisis.

We’ve had many clients asking:

  • Is just them being impacted?
  • What about their competitors? 
  • What impact is this having across various regions?
  • How will regions yet to be “hit” be effected?

The main takeaway is that, from our current research, what we are seeing in the SEO industry is that traffic drops are drops in interest, not rankings.

Top level findings

Here you will find a list of top-level insights, gathered in the first two weeks of March. It is worth clarifying that most (not all) of the findings relate to the clothing e-commerce space, with a stronger focus on the luxury vertical.

  • As expected, luxury brands are among the worst hit by this uncertain situation. Traffic in Continental Europe is significantly down due to the anticipated change in consumer behaviour, which sees luxury brand searches considerably in decline.
  • Generally speaking, Italy is the country which has experienced the highest drops in traffic, followed by Spain, France and Germany.

Google Trends data for three brand queries of popular e-commerce websites in Italy, in the last 30 days vs the same brand queries in the UK.

While interest in these three brand queries dropped drastically in Italy after the events of the lockdown, we have witnessed very little to no change in UK’s trends for the same period of time – after Boris Johnson (the UK’s prime minister) addressed the nation on live TV, there has been a slight impact on such terms, which seem to be on the verge of a slight decline after the weekend.

  • China, a key market for most luxury brands, seems to show slow signs of recovery for some western luxury brands, with promising sales levels which match the country’s positive news regarding the slow-down of the virus spread (read more here). However, due to the rising concern about a second-wave of the virus, there is still a lot of uncertainty on how consumers will react in Q2.

Baidu Index data – a similar data source to Google Trends – for a series of luxury brand queries (selected based on Gartner data for China) in China since January 2020. [Enlarge image]

After a very large drop between mid to end of January, interest appears to pick up form mid-February.

  • While traffic driven by brand & transactional keywords is struggling, informational & navigational terms are showing good traffic numbers. Brands with blogs and content hubs have witnessed a similar if not more number of clicks to such sections of their site, based on our initial research.

We analysed the number of clicks recorded in Google Search Console (GSC) for the blog of a client of ours based in the UK, for the following period: 19th of February to 17th of March, comparing two weeks periods. We removed all brand & irrelevant queries while focussing on the top 500 informational & navigational terms in GSC.

As shown in the bar chart above, clicks driven by the keywords analysed have seen a slight improvement from 550 to 638 clicks.

  • A good portion of the current organic traffic to eCommerce sites seems to be originating from queries such as: “returns”, “exchanges” and more generic “online delivery” and “size guides”

What should you do to help limit this decline?

The list below contains a series of recommendations that can be applied to all e-commerce sites:

  • Despite the fact that conversions have been in decline (and are likely to be down for a while) due to the uncertain economic climate, users will still browse and consume tons of content – find out more in this post from the global web index. We recommend prioritising top of the tunnel and re-purposing your existing editorial content, in order to boost traffic to your site and engage users with more informational and navigational pieces.

See an example here – this is Nordstrom’s homepage: they have increased the visibility of their editorial content, easily accessible from the homepage.

  • Make sure the information on your online delivery (and size guides) are made more prominent and accessible from the homepage and navigation menu as people who would normally purchase in-store are now going online.
  • Monitor what products seem to be more in demand in this period, and update the homepage banners to promote such products, in particular items that encourage indoor consumption (for instance: games, home products, furniture, loungewear, craft and so on). Use your social media to support this strategy.

Nordstrom’s homepage appears to be a great example again.

  • Update your metadata (especially title tags) to highlight your online shopping capabilities and emphasise your delivery & return options.

See an example here – this is Zalando women’s dresses page

  • Consider making shipping policies more competitive. Some brands are offering free deliveries for lower order amounts (for instance: if you offered free delivery for orders over £100, consider cutting it to £50). Again, social media can help you emphasise this message as fast as possible.

See this Instagram post – the Italian clothing brand Gutteridge is now offering free delivery on orders over 30 Euros, while supporting the hashtag to stay at home during the lockdown.

  • Do not forget about any video content you may have already, that can help with the above recommendations (size-charts, deliveries, returns and more), using social channels to promote it even further – YouTube is your friend here.

See an example here – M&S has a plethora of sizing and buying guide videos on YouTube that could be used to reinforce their marketing message.

Should my SEO strategy change?

We do work in the SEO space but in times like these, it is important to be objective: differently from other channels, SEO has always been a long-term play. Learning from the 2008 economic crisis (Moz post on the subject is very interesting), it is worth considering how investing in SEO now while other companies aren’t, might help you be in a better position when good times resume.

Your SEO roadmap should probably change (see the paragraph below), but your overall strategy should not vary much. To reiterate what mentioned at the beginning of the post: what we are seeing in the SEO industry is that traffic drops are drops in interest not rankings, which means this decline is driven by a change in consumer behavior and not by Google.

What SEO activity should I focus on?

In terms of actual tasks and things to prioritise:

  • For the risk-adverse SEOs out there: it may be worth focusing on structural SEO activities, such as tech audits and health checks. Or simply pick up those activities that you never have time to do: review your analytics and make sure reporting is flawless, refresh your keyword research, update your structured data, and so on.
  • For the more adventurous SEOs: It is a good time to be testing “riskier” strategies, as they could be reversed with limited damage, given that less traffic is at risk.

No matter what approach you prefer among the two above, editorial content should be a priority. Yes transactional terms are experiencing lower interest (hence, traffic), but people have a lot of time to browse your site and most importantly, they have a lot of time to consume digital content – whether it is from social media (read how covid-19 has created a surge in social media usage) or from search engines. Repurposing / creating top of the funnel content, together with a strong social media strategy to support it, should be your focus.

See an example of two queries that are driving a lot of interest in the last week or so: “kids activities at home” and “home exercise”.

CRO is a serious opportunity

Consider switching your attention to conversion rate optimisation (CRO). It is worth evaluating what you can do to improve the likelihood of conversions, with the low(er) traffic available to the site. Experimenting with CRO (while keeping an eye on SEO) might be worth a shot right now.

Either focus your attention on pages that have the highest organic traffic or go for bolder changes on lower traffic pages/sections that you might be typically too risk-averse to try. Experimenting with CRO (while keeping an eye on SEO) might be worth a shot right now.

Consider using the new schema just released a new type of structure data to address the global response to the Covid-19 outbreak. In particular, two new types have been highlighted: “SpecialAnnouncement” and “eventAttendanceMode” which can support websites providing event updates in the SERP. The latter will specifically help those businesses whose events have moved from a physical location to online (find more on the event subject here)

Final Thoughts

To reiterate some of the key points in this post, we have also included a screenshot from Google initial findings and forecasts on the retail industry.

Undoubtedly, covid-19 is disrupting the digital marketing space, creating a lot of uncertainty for consumers and businesses. However, there is still a lot we can do to limit its effects, while waiting for the economy to recover. The companies that play their cards right and are digitally-forward thinking, will be better positioned coming out of these tough times, similarly to what happened after SARS (2003) and the economic crisis (2008).

What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers

Posted by on Mar 18, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers

By now you have heard about the Coronavirus.

The sad reality is that it is spreading quickly and will continue to spread for a while.

Did you know that we are getting roughly 13,000 new cases a day and it’s growing fast?

No one really knows how many people will be infected (or will pass away sadly), but it has caused the global stock markets to crash, which means as a business (or even a marketer), you will be affected.

And because my ad agency works with hundreds of companies in all the major sectors and we have 7 offices around the world, we are already starting to see how it is impacting marketing (I’ll share the data below).

So what does this mean for you?

Well, before I go into that, let me be clear on what marketers should NOT do.

Don’t exploit the situation

The first thing we are seeing is people trying to exploit fear.

What I mean by this is supplies are running low around the world. From masks and toilet paper to hand sanitizer and other basic necessities… I am seeing marketers buying them and then reselling them on eBay or running ads and selling them for 10-50x the price.

This isn’t entrepreneurship and this isn’t marketing. I highly recommend that you avoid exploiting the Coronavirus situation to make a quick buck.

Not only is it wrong but it is also very short-sighted. Sure you may be able to make a quick buck, but it won’t last… you are better off spending your time on anything that is long term.

So now that we got that out of the way, what does the Coronavirus mean for marketers?

Businesses are going to struggle for a while

Even if the virus slows down fast as the numbers have dropped in China, businesses are going to struggle for well over a year because they will have to make up for their losses.

For example, in China the virus caused retail sales to drop by 20.5% and the unemployment rate jumped to 6.2 in February.

When companies like Apple shut down their stores to help reduce the spread, it means less income and less profit. Sure they are able to pay their employees during their temporary shutdown, but not all companies have their bank balance and most won’t be able to do the same.

Just look at the travel industry. The virus is expected to lose them 820 billion dollars. Virgin Atlantic just asked their staff to take an 8-week unpaid leave.

The ports are also empty and the first rounds of layoffs have already started.

It’s estimated that in total COVID-19 will cost the global economy $2.7 trillion.

And not only are people losing money but they are losing traffic and conversions.

Organic traffic is down in most industries

As I mentioned above, we work with hundreds of clients in different industries through my agency. On top of that, we also have tons of data because of Ubersuggest.

Before I dive into the data, note that we didn’t focus on any one single country, we decide to look at the traffic stats from a global perspective. We also didn’t include data from sites with less than 5000 visitors a month as they tend to have drastic swings from a percentage perspective even when there are no global issues or algorithm updates.

We also don’t have data on every single industry, for example, we don’t really work with many restaurants nor do we purchase data for that category as local restaurants usually don’t have the biggest marketing budgets. We have data on most of the major ones, but again not all.

Now, from an SEO standpoint, last week we saw huge drops in organic traffic for most industries we are tracking. Just look at the chart below (compares last week to the previous week).

If you are in the news industry or financial space, your traffic skyrocketed. 

And if you are in the travel industry, you saw massive drops in traffic.

You can’t tell by the chart, but e-commerce was a mixed bag, depending on what sites sold, traffic was either up or down. For example, if you were selling baby products like diapers or wipes then you saw a nice bump in traffic.

But if you were selling luxury goods like big-screen televisions you saw a drop in traffic.

Conversions were also down for most industries

From a conversion rate standpoint, we saw drops in most industries as well. Even the financial sector, which had big traffic booms in traffic, dropped in conversions.

Just look at the chart below (comparing last week to the previous week):

As for news (media) sites, they had a big conversion lift as many of them charge for people to read their updated information.

For example, you can only read a certain amount of content from the Washington Post for free until you see a message that looks like this:

People didn’t want to miss out on Coronavirus, political and financial information with the turmoil, hence news sites saw a nice lift.

And with some sectors like travel, they are currently offering massive discounts, which is helping counteract some of their traffic declines. Overall, they are still seeing a massive revenue hit.

Pay-per-click data

We don’t have as much pay-per-click data as we do for SEO as Ubersuggest is mainly used for SEO purposes, but we haven’t seen big shifts in cost per click… even for things like the travel industry.

We don’t have a big enough sample size, but as I mentioned, costs haven’t come down much.

For example, even though we saw big dips in the number of people searching for things like flights or hotels, we didn’t see a drastic drop in CPC but we did see a big increase in cost per acquisition.

In other words, you can still roughly pay the same amount per click, but the cost per conversion has been going up for most industries… unless you are selling necessities like toilet paper.

So what does this mean for marketers?

Be fearful when others are greedy, and greedy when others are fearful

I didn’t come up with that saying, it’s actually a line from Warren Buffett.

You will see people cutting back because the economy is predicted to get hit by 2.7 trillion dollars and experts are saying that we are going to go into a recession.

You even have billionaire investors like Carl Ichan saying that the market has more room to go down and we should expect the sell-off has longer to go.

But what I’ve learned from going through two crashes (the dotcom crash in 2000 and the real estate crash in 2008) is that the best time to double down is when others are not.

During an economic downturn, you’ll find that you will have less competition, which means it is easier and faster to get results, and in some cases, you’ll be able to get deals, such as a potential reduction in pay-per-click advertising.

Just think of it this way: out of all the publicly traded companies in the United States, if the market keeps going down, many of them will struggle to pay off their debt, which has exploded to $75 trillion.

This means some companies will either go bankrupt, get bought out, or get bailed out by the government. Some may be able to cut costs enough to pay their bills, but for most, it will be too late.

Again, this just means less competition for you.

If you are lucky enough to be sitting on some cash during the recession this is the best time to buy out other companies. The ideal ones to buy are media companies.

The more eyeballs you control, the more power you will hold in the future. Plus, by controlling eyeballs, it gives you the ability to sell anything you want in the future.

It’s the reason I bought the KISSmetrics website for $500,000 a couple years ago. During their peak, they had 1,260,681 million unique visitors a month.

That’s a lot of traffic.

When I bought the site out, I was out a good amount of money for me, but the moment I merged it into the site, I increased my lead count by 19% and recuperated my investment in less than a year.

In other words, this is your opportunity to strike and gain market share.

So when you see your competitors closing down or slowing down on their marketing, the goal is to double down. You may not see the biggest return right away, but in the long term, you will.

Every time the market goes down by 20% or more it roughly takes 536 days to recover.

As we recover, you’ll see your revenue climb and the ROI from your marketing spend go through the roof.


Hopefully, the Coronavirus passes soon and it has minimal impact on lives. For the time being, try not to socialize with others too much or go into crowded places.

You should read this article by the Washington Post as it breaks down great simulations of how the Coronavirus will spread and what we can do to reduce the impact on the world.

And as for your marketing, this is the time for you to double down. Don’t be fearful when others are also afraid. Do what Warren Buffett does… be greedy when other people are fearful.

In other words, double down. 

How have you seen the Coronavirus affect your traffic?

PS: Please be safe and, if possible, stay indoors.

PPS: To help out a bit, I’ve opened up the keyword ideas report on Ubersuggest as well as historical keyword data. I know many of you may be facing financial difficulty, so hopefully having the data helps you save a bit of money on marketing.

The post What The Coronavirus (COVID-19) Means For Marketers appeared first on Neil Patel.

10 Silent killers that affect your website speed

Posted by on Mar 17, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 10 Silent killers that affect your website speed

Time is the most valuable asset. Nothing is more frustrating than slow page loading. A slow website kills conversions and impacts search rankings. Google stated that it is important to consider website speed when determining search rankings.

Here are some interesting website load statistics:

  • An Akamai study showed that 47% of customers expect websites to load in a few seconds or less.
  • One second delay on Amazon could cost $1.6 billion on sales every year.
  • According to Pingdom, 78% of the top 100 retail websites take under three seconds to load.
  • One second delay on your page load results in a seven percent reduction in conversions.
  • The average load time on the desktop is 1.286 and 2.594 seconds on mobile.

Optimizing your website’s speed is not a necessity, but a must-have, especially if you want to beat out the slower competition. Once you notice that your site is loading more than three seconds, it’s time to figure out things that can slow down your website speed and improve the overall performance.

Let’s discover lesser-known causes of website slowdown and find the best solutions to deal with each one.

 1. Caching issues

Browser caching is very important for repeat visitors. Every time users come to your website for the first time, their browser stores all the files like images, CSS, and Java files for a specified period. The next time the visitors come back to the web page, browser caching allows these stored files to be served quickly upon the user’s next visit.

Reducing the number of round-trips results in faster page load times and improve user experience. Caching can definitely help you speed your website, but it’s not without its issues. If you don’t set up caching properly, it can hurt user interaction. It’s essential to develop a solid caching strategy to maintain strong user experiences.

If you don’t use WordPress, you can add the Cache-Control and Entity tags (ETags) headers to HTTP response headers. ETags are used to validate whether the client has the recent version of a record. While Cache-control is used to define browser caching policies in client and server responses. As a result, these headers help you reduce the need for visitors to download the same files from the server twice and reduce the number of HPPT requests.

If your website is running on WordPress, you can use cache plugins for better performance. WP Rocket is a great premium cache plugin that includes a lot of extra features like lazy loading, database cleanup, CDN integrations, and many more. You don’t have any technical skills to set it up to have faster websites.

2. Overloaded database

An overloaded database can be a silent killer when it comes to website performance. One of the pitfalls with WordPress websites is that your database is overloaded with multiple post revisions, deactivated plugins, saved drafts, and others. Trackbacks and pingbacks don’t have any practical use in WordPress. Ensure to disable both of them because they clog up your database and increase the number of requests.

Make sure to delete other garbage files like spam and trash folders, transients, and database tables that can also slow down your website. As I mentioned above, WP Rocket is one of the easiest ways to schedule and clean up these files every week. You can optimize your database using the ‘Database’ tab.

database overload that slows the website speed

Source: Screenshot made by the author 

Using WP Rocket, you can also schedule an automatic database cleanup.

3. Outdated CMS

Running an outdated version of your CMS can slow down your website and cause different security vulnerabilities. Most CMS like WordPress, Joomla, or Drupal let you know once any update is available. Having the latest versions of plugins and any software will result in faster load times.

In case you haven’t still updated your CMS or don’t get any notice, run a regular page speed test on different pages of your website to find out whether the latest updates or versions of the software are compatible with your web hosting or available fixes that can improve the overall performance of your website by making them faster to load.

4. Excessive usage of social media scripts

Social media has become a crucial part of every website. No matter how large your website is, you still need to connect social media to your site and make it easier for users to share your posts. The excessive usage of social media scripts and plugins can kill your site’s performance.

Limit the number of social media plugins and scripts that you don’t use at all and find alternate ways to schedule and automate your social media tasks. Zapier is a great website service that can help you automate these tasks and reduce the burden on server resources and your website.

When it comes to sharing options at the end of each post, it’s a great way to easily share your publications, but these options can add a lot of load to your website. Try not to use them at every single page of your website and include only the essentials.

5. The use of chatbots

Chatbots are great for handling customer inquiries. According to Salesforce, 69% of customers want to use chatbots to speed up their communication with a brand. But there are two sides to the coin. Chatbots can hurt your website speed in case the script isn’t implemented properly and can take your website longer to load.

It’s important to ensure that your chatbot is loading asynchronously. I mean when your chatbot performs any action on your website like initiating a conversation with a customer or sending pings, this action should be routed by external servers. So, make sure to use the right code that enables this action. Check whether there is any problem with a chatbot script using Google’s PageSpeed Tools.

For easier set-up and simple communication, you can use an out-of-the-box solution like Tidio that doesn’t require any coding skills and takes only a moment to create a chatbot. The best thing is the ability to communicate with customers in one simple dashboard. The tool also integrates with different third-party apps to provide better customer service.

usage of chatbots that slows the website speed

Source: Screenshot by Tidio

6. Broken links

Broken links are not only a pain for website visitors but a real drain on bandwidth. I’ve recently made a detailed analysis of one of my clients and have detected a lot of 404 errors in Google Webmaster Tools. Once I’ve fixed them, the average load time per user boosted from seven seconds to two seconds, and there was a huge decrease in bounce rate.

So, if you have many broken links on your website, you are just wasting resources. Moreover, they can hurt user behavior metrics and negatively affect your rankings. To detect broken links, I would recommend getting audit reports with the SE Ranking Website Audit. The tool sorts all your web pages by status code to view which ones are 404.

Source: Screenshot by SE Ranking

One of its major benefits is the ability to go deeper than others and find out crawl errors that other tools don’t. Once you get these broken links, you can fix or remove them for good.

7. Render-blocking JavaScript

Every time your website loads in the browser, it sends out calls to every script in a queue. That queue of these scripts should be empty before the website appears in the browser. If this queue is very long, it can slow down your web pages without allowing visitors to fully view the site. These kinds of script queues are called the render-blocking JavaScript and CSS files.

To make your web pages load faster, Google recommends eliminating render-blocking scripts. Before removing them, identify which scripts cause problems using Google’s PageSpeed Insights. 

Most website owners use different traffic and conversion analytics platforms to analyze and measure any type of traffic and conversions with one click. Most of them are installed by using JavaScript code that can slow down your website. The best way to track different events is to use Finteza whose main tracking script (downloaded from the Finteza server) doesn’t impact website performance and can be embedded into the page asynchronously.

Source: Screenshot by Finteza

8. Accelerated mobile pages (AMP)

Everyone knows that Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) is a Google project created to speed up web pages on mobile devices by adding an “AMP” stamp next to your mobile snippets. While the idea of having a fast mobile website with content sounds like a great idea, there are some challenges when it comes to AMP.

While creating AMP improves website performance, it removes all of the dynamic features that slow down websites. In other words, it changes the design of your website and provides less functionality for your visitors that can result in reducing conversions. According to this case study, Kinsta saw their mobile leads drop by 59% after adding AMP, so they disabled it.

So, use AMP carefully as it can lower your mobile conversions. If you still want to use them, do it properly (more instructions here). Make sure to validate AMP for Google Search and fix any possible issues.

9. Gravatars

While Gravatars offer convenience and easy customization to your user base, there is one drawback, speed. This is not really visible on smaller websites, but if you have a large website with a lot of blog comments, you will notice much of a slowdown. You have some options to fix that:

  • Disable Gravatars in WordPress
  • Remove comments that don’t have value
  • Use caching Gravatars like Harrys or Optimum Gravatar Cache
  • Reduce your Gravatar image sizes
  • Paginate comments in WP Disable

10. Invalid HTML and CSS

If you stop using invalid HTML and CSS codes, that will increase the rendering time of web pages and the overall site performance. Make sure to create HTML and CSS that aligns with the W3C standards if you want browsers to interpret your site more consistently.

Check your HTML through the W3C HTML Validator and CSS through the W3C CSS validator. One of the options is to validate HTML with the Grunt HTML validation package and Stylelint.

Bottom line

A slow-loading website is something that will turn your customers away before they can visit your website. To keep your site running well and loading fast, you need to focus on these web performance killers and do the best to prevent these issues and make your site more efficient.

Irina Weber is Brand Manager at SE Ranking. She can be found on Twitter @irinaweber048.

The post 10 Silent killers that affect your website speed appeared first on Search Engine Watch.

Online Reputation Management Guide for Freelance and Small Business Owners

Posted by on Mar 12, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Online Reputation Management Guide for Freelance and Small Business Owners

A Guide to Online Reputation Management for Freelance and Small Business Owners

As a business owner or marketer, you already recognize the value of your reputation and probably work to manage it. Also, you have most likely been around long enough to witness the growth of online commerce and website profiles highlighting the world’s companies.

Now more than ever professionals and consumers rely on the internet. This means that as the world economy quickly digitizes its operations, online reputation management is more crucial to success than ever before.

Staying conscious of your online reputation should be no different from staying conscious of your real life reputation. They are, professionally speaking, one and the same and the benefits to giving just a little attention are worth the net gains you will see without costing them.

While online reputation management is more crucial than ever, it is also easier than ever. Anyone can have success and save time with a bit of education and a little help from industry friends.

We’re going to be one of those friends and in this article, we’ll breakdown the process and provide great resources for building and maintaining your brand reputation.

We hope to help people like you – small business owners and freelancers – recognize the untapped value and utilize the effective marketing tools needed to stand strong in an online universe often dominated by giant companies who have staff dedicated solely to reputation management.

First, what is included under the large umbrella of online reputation management? What aspects of online presence are vital for a successful and respected business?

Vital tips for online reputation management

I. Diversified digital marketing is key!

There are a ton of different ways to market online, but behold this one fundamental:

Frame your marketing around SEO by looking through the eyes of the people you hope to have as clients. Instead of only your perspective, ask yourself, “What keywords might others use to find my business?”

To do this, you’ll need some help from Google. Open up your Google Search Console account, click on search result under the performance tab.

There you’ll see the list of exact keywords your visitors used to find your business, no more guessing game.

II. The Power of the Press Release

Press releases are content-rich pieces of copy that provide news and updates and can easily be shared and spread far and wide. One great thing about the press release format is that it helps tie important keywords to your company. This increases visibility in search engines.

Backlinko shares an easy-to-read guide on how to write a good press release in 2020. This content from Fabrik is also helpful, we have also created quite some blog posts on the same subject, remember to check them out as well!

A few quick points for press release:

1. Just like any content, you need to have your keywords in there. Do some keyword research and make sure they are included in the headline and the start of the press release.

2. A press release should be straight to the point and no fluff. Press release ≠ sales letter, so facts only, no empty promises.

3. Keep the tone neutral. A press release is an official statement, it needs to read like one.

III. Activate and frequently update your social media

Become an active presence on social media platforms. You can do this by frequently sharing worthwhile content and engaging with followers.

Social media is where you have your two-way dialogues with your clients, potential clients, trolls, haters and more. It is also a great, free platform to build or ruin your brand reputation.

An example,

If you think that’s bad, here’s something worse.

This is what happens when your brand reputation through social media is so bad, someone makes an account on that same platform, just to make you look even worse.

Take control of your own social media presence, and don’t ruin it.

On a brighter side, a great example of social media brand-building win is everyone’s favourite double braided girl, Wendy’s!

Being sassy on their social media account isn’t just an entertaining way to portray their brand, it also translates into cold, hard cash. The fast-food chain grows its revenue more than 4 times in the same quarter when compared to the previous year, when they haven’t started this genius social media strategy.

A classic Wendy’s roast that paved their branding.

IV. Providing quality copy is the single most important part of digital marketing.

Sharing useful copy makes your business an authority on information within your respective niche. Quality and reliable copy brings you consumers that believe in what you offer and will think of you when it is time to spend money.

Good copywriting also strengthens online visibility by empowering SEO. Consumers may even look past weaker parts of your online presence (i.e. design, ease-of-use). Certainly having it all in in order will contribute to your success.

Do you want to know more about implementing strategies to build your reputation? You can find specific brand reputation management strategies in this Walker Sands article, but for ease, we’ve quickly highlighted 7 Ways to Build Brand Reputation from Marketing 91 :

1) Be Proactive – approach marketing with foresight and fast course-correction when plans need tweaking

2) Be Specific – “Under Promise and Over Deliver”! With so many alternative options, your business needs to be on its game with issues like delivery and customer service.

3) Be Authoritative – Don’t be shy when highlighting what makes your business or product better than the rest!

4) Be Consistent – Whether customer service, product quality, or sharing content, being reliable goes a long way.

5) Deliver Promises – If you say you are going to do something, do it!

6) Collect Feedback – Learn from your strengths and your weaknesses. Implementing quality feedback is vital for growth.

7) Indulge in Corporate Social Responsibilities Activities – Give back to society! Participate in worthwhile organizations and causes quarterly, semi-annually, or annually.

Free Marketing Tools to Boost Your Marketing and Reputation Management Efforts

Next, we will share a short marketing tools list that is sure to help your business level up. Effective marketing tools are the foundation of any high-level marketing success. Any job and profession are made better with the right tools.

Simply knowing what marketing tools are out there will give you an advantage. These tools will help you build and maintain an online reputation. They will also save you money in the long run because they’ll provide a way to be more strategic in how you spend your marketing dollars.

An underrated, but vital tool is a good copywriter. It’s either hire someone good or learn to write effective copy yourself! Copywriting is your first line of offense.

With that out of the way, let’s talk about Google. This super company offers three tools you can easily use to help maximize SEO and boost ranking and visibility.

I. Have you ever heard of Google My Business?

Google My Business is the program that helps you drive local customer traffic across Google Search and Maps. It is specifically powerful in helping business owners direct their marketing to ideal audiences and to fine-tune SEO presence.

An example of a local search result that returns the Google Map and local businesses directory.

We suggest Google My Business be apart of the online foundation of any business website. If you haven’t already, check out how it can help you improve your flow. Visit these sources for in-depth strategies and tips on how to optimize Google My Business.

More and more of us turn to Google when deciding on paying a local business a visit, if you’re missing your Google My Business profile, you’re missing out your first line of online presence and we’re not even talking about your online reputation yet. So make sure to claim and set up your Google My Business profile if you’re running a local business.

II. What about Google Analytics?

Google Analytics allows you to run web analytics and measure advertising ROI on your website and social media accounts. It is a very handy report system that calculates multiple considerations. It even allows business owners and marketers to fine-tune equations to reach the right people. This makes it a must have tool for every businesses with an online presence.

III. We can’t forget Google Trends.

Google Trends will give you access to the world of popularity and search queries. If you want to hone in on the perfect search words or industry phrases, this tool will let you. The applications are endless.

Once you have some ideas from Google Trends, you can use the last great SEO tool we will share to really make the best of your online presence.

IV. LSIGraph, your keyword research booster.

LSIGraph is a freemium service that helps you find the perfect keywords for your niche. Their websites boast that you will get the “most profitable, semantically related keywords for all your SEO and paid marketing needs”. We vouch for them.

One great thing I like about LSIGraph is that they acknowledge me being an SEO Champion.

Okay, jokes aside, LSIGraph provides me localized data on my keyword. For our global readers, they also support a bunch of other languages like Japanese, Hindi, Mandarin and more. So that’s handy.

Doing a good job on keyword research and targeting the right audiences is the basic of creating a good online reputation. So having a keyword tool such as the LSIGraph can be a major help.

So why does online reputation management even matter?

Do you remember that terrible, 2.5 minute Pepsi ad starring Kendall Jenner a few years back? Pepsi thought they would show how tolerant and open-minded they were, but their ad projected an entirely different message. It’s so terrible I won’t even show any screenshots here.

They spent a ton of money on a risky ad that was not rich in content and did not have a clear message. Their ad was like a Coca-Cola sponsorship because it didn’t inspire confidence in the Pepsi brand.

Had Pepsi taken proper preliminary measures, they may have prevented such a negative backlash. Reputation management is about cleaning up the past, projecting quality in the present, and carefully planning the future.

It matters if you want to be respected and remain limitless and unshackled in your ability to grow your business.

Here’s the Reputation Management for Dummies recap on what we covered today:

  • Stay Conscious of your Online Reputation by Managing It!Remember: Your online reputation is no longer separate from your personal reputation.
  • Diversified Digital Marketing Is Key!
    1. Press Releases are Gold!
    2. Improve your Social Media Presence
    3. Quality and Reliable Copy is King!
  • 7 Ways to Build Brand Reputation
    Be Proactive, Be Specific, Be Authoritative, Be Consistent, Deliver Promises, Collect Feedback, and Indulge in Corporate Social Responsibilities Activities.
  • Reputation Management should matter if making money matters!
  • A few effective marketing tools:
    1. Good Copywriting
    2. Google Products: Google My Business, Google Analytics, Google Trends
    3. LSIGraph

We hope this article, doused with high-quality resources, will be the fuel that flames your online makeover. May your steady and sincere effort to build and manage your online reputation pays off!

A brief history of Google’s algorithm updates

Posted by on Mar 9, 2020 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on A brief history of Google’s algorithm updates

These days, the way we do SEO is somewhat different from how things were done ca. 10 years ago. There’s one important reason for that: search engines have been continuously improving their algorithms to give searchers the best possible results. Over the last decade, Google, as the leading search engine, introduced several major updates, and each of them has had a major impact on best practices for SEO. Here’s a — by no means exhaustive — list of Google’s important algorithm updates so far, as well as some of their implications for search and SEO.

2011 – Panda

Obviously, Google was around long before 2011. We’re starting with the Panda update because it was the first major update in the ‘modern SEO’ era. Google’s Panda update tried to deal with websites that were purely created to rank in the search engines, and mostly focused on on-page factors. In other words, it determined whether a website genuinely offered information about the search term visitors used. 

Two types of sites were hit especially hard by the Panda update:

  1. Affiliate sites (sites which mainly exist to link to other pages).
  2. Sites with very thin content.

Google periodically re-ran the Panda algorithm after its first release, and included it in the core algorithm in 2016. The Panda update has permanently affected how we do SEO, as site owners could no longer get away with building a site full of low-quality pages.

2012 – Venice

Venice was a noteworthy update, as it showed that Google understood that searchers are sometimes looking for results that are local to them. After Venice, Google’s search results included pages based on the location you set, or your IP address.

2012 – Penguin

Google’s Penguin update looked at the links websites got from other sites. It analyzed whether backlinks to a site were genuine, or if they’d been bought to trick the search engines. In the past, lots of people paid for links as a shortcut to boosting their rankings. Google’s Penguin update tried to discourage buying, exchanging or otherwise artificially creating links. If it found artificial links, Google assigned a negative value to the site concerned, rather than the positive link value it would have previously received. The Penguin update ran several times since it first appeared and Google added it to the core algorithm in 2016.

As you can imagine, websites with a lot of artificial links were hit hard by this update. They disappeared from the search results, as the low-quality links suddenly had a negative, rather than positive impact on their rankings. Penguin has permanently changed link building: it no longer suffices to get low-effort, paid backlinks. Instead, you have to work on building a successful link building strategy to get relevant links from valued sources.

2012 – Pirate

The Pirate update was introduced to combat illegal spreading of copyrighted content. It considered (many) DMCA (Digital Millennium Copyright Act) takedown requests for a website as a negative ranking factor for the first time.

2013 – Hummingbird

The Hummingbird update saw Google lay down the groundwork for voice-search, which was (and still is) becoming more and more important as more devices (Google Home, Alexa) use it. Hummingbird pays more attention to each word in a query, ensuring that the whole search phrase is taken into account, rather than just particular words. Why? To understand a user’s query better and to be able to give them the answer, instead of just a list of results.

The impact of the Hummingbird update wasn’t immediately clear, as it wasn’t directly intended to punish bad practice. In the end, it mostly enforced the view that SEO copy should be readable, use natural language, and shouldn’t be over-optimized for the same few words, but use synonyms instead. 

2014 – Pigeon

Another bird-related Google update followed in 2014 with Google Pigeon, which focused on local SEO. The Pigeon update affected both the results pages and Google Maps. It led to more accurate localization, giving preference to results near the user’s location. It also aimed to make local results more relevant and higher quality, taking organic ranking factors into account. 

2014 – HTTPS/SSL

To underline the importance of security, Google decided to give a small ranking boost to sites that correctly implemented HTTPS to make the connection between website and user secure. At the time, HTTPS was introduced as a lightweight ranking signal. But Google had already hinted at the possibility of making encryption more important, once webmasters had had the time to implement it. 

2015 – Mobile Update

This update was dubbed ‘​Mobilegeddon​’ by the SEO industry as it was thought that it would totally shake up the search results. By 2015 more than 50% of Google’s search queries were already coming from mobile devices, which probably led to this update. The Mobile Update gave mobile-friendly sites a ranking advantage in Google’s mobile search results. In spite of its dramatic nickname, the mobile update didn’t instantly mess up most people’s rankings. Nevertheless, it was an important shift that heralded the ever-increasing importance of mobile.

2015 – RankBrain

RankBrain is a state-of-the-art Google algorithm, employing machine learning to handle queries. It can make guesses about words it doesn’t know, to find words with similar meanings and then offer relevant results. The RankBrain algorithm analyzed past searches, determining the best result, in order to improve. 

Its release marks another big step for Google to better decipher the meaning behind searches, and serve the best-matching results. In March 2016, Google revealed that RankBrain was one of the three most important of its ranking signals. Unlike other ranking factors, you can’t really optimize for RankBrain in the traditional sense, other than by writing quality content. Nevertheless, its impact on the results pages is undeniable.

2016 – Possum 

In September 2016 it was time for another local update. The ​Possum update​ applied several changes to Google’s local ranking filter to further improve local search. After Possum, local results became more varied, depending more on the physical location of the searcher and the phrasing of the query. Some businesses which had not been doing well in organic search found it easier to rank locally after this update. This indicated that this update made local search more independent of the organic results.

Read more: Near me searches: Is that a Possum near me? »

2018 – (Mobile) Speed Update

Acknowledging users’ need for fast delivery of information, Google implemented this update that made page speed a ranking factor for mobile searches, as was already the case for desktop searches. The update mostly affected sites with a particularly slow mobile version.

2018 – Medic

This broad core algorithm update caused quite a stir for those affected, leading to some shifts in ranking. While a relatively high number of medical sites were hit with lower rankings, the update wasn’t solely aimed at them and it’s unclear what its exact purpose was. It may have been an attempt to better match results to searchers’ intent, or perhaps it aimed to protect users’ wellbeing from (what Google decided was) disreputable information.

Keep reading: Google’s Medic update »

2019 – BERT

Google’s BERT update was announced as the “biggest change of the last five years”, one that would “impact one in ten searches.” It’s a machine learning algorithm, a neural network-based technique for natural language processing (NLP). The name BERT is short for: Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

BERT can figure out the full context of a word by looking at the words that come before and after it. In other words, it uses the context and relations of all the words in a sentence, rather than one-by-one in order. This means: a big improvement in interpreting a search query and the intent behind it.

Read on: Google BERT: A better understanding of complex queries »

Expectations for future Google updates

As you can see, Google has become increasingly advanced since the early 2010s. Its early major updates in the decade focused on battling spammy results and sites trying to cheat the system. But as time progressed, updates contributed more and more to search results catered to giving desktop, mobile and local searchers exactly what they’re looking for. While the algorithm was advanced to begin with, the additions over the years, including machine learning and NLP, make it absolutely state of the art. 

With the recent focus on intent, it seems likely that Google Search will continue to focus its algorithm on perfecting its interpretation of search queries and styling the results pages accordingly. That seems to be their current focus working towards their mission “to organize the world’s information and make it universally accessible and useful.” But whatever direction it takes, being the best result and working on having an excellent site will always be the way to go!

Keep on reading: Should I follow every change Google makes? »

Feeling a bit overwhelmed by all the different names and years? Don’t worry! We made a handy infographic that shows when each Google update happened and briefly describes what the purpose was.

Google's algorithm updates 2011-2020

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