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15 Easy to Follow Social Media Marketing Tips to Grow Your Small Business

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on 15 Easy to Follow Social Media Marketing Tips to Grow Your Small Business

15 Easy to Follow Social Media Marketing Tips to Grow Your Small Business

15 Easy to Follow Social Media Marketing Tips to Grow Your Small Business

When you’re a small business owner, you can either pay $300-$800 to put up a small billboard for 4 weeks or spend 6 hours a week to promote your business on a free social media site.

I’m not saying free is better, but when you know how to do it well, why not?

So here’s a step by step guide for your venture into the world of social media marketing. Does that sound scary? Well really it’s just like telling your friends to try out your stuff, but on the internet.

No big, fancy, intimidating words, I promise. Now let’s get started.

1. Find out where your potential customers hang out

I personally spend more time on Twitter than Facebook but that doesn’t mean you do too, right?

If you want to start building your business presence on social media sites, the one you’re the most familiar with might not be the best one for your business.

There is a handful of social media sites that you can choose from: Facebook, Instagram, Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest etc.

So which one should you choose? Well, the one where your customers are!

Let’s look at some basic info of these 6 major social media sites to help you decide.

It is obvious that Facebook is the champion in terms of active users. 1 billion people that can potentially be your customer sounds fantastic right?

Well, it is fantastic. In fact, 68% of US adults use Facebook. So if you’re not sure where your customers like to hang out, at least some of them will be on Facebook.

The most prominent feature of Facebook is how users can share posts from others.

Create share-worthy contents so that your initial followers will share it with their friends. And their friends can share it with their other friends.

That way, you can make the most out of the 1 billion Facebook users and hopefully, actually, reach those who will buy from you.

What do people usually share? Well, discounts and promotions work the best.

Note the difference of shares between the promotional campaign post and the normal post?

Pinterest on the other hand has only 70 million active users, that number is an infant compared to those of Facebook.

But here’s the thing, their user demographic is also much narrower, which means there might just be where your customers are.

Look at this, 68% percent of Pinterest users are females. Are your customers mostly female?

Pinterest is also a visual discovery site. Do you perhaps bake cupcakes with customizable intricate frosting? Pinterest might just be where the millions of cupcake lovers hang out.

There, you got your social media site pick.

Point taken: If you know your customers, find out which social media site they hang out at. But if your customers are really everyone possible, Facebook is your safe bet.

2. If you have to be on multiple sites, don’t just copy and paste, cater to their specific demographic instead

Place your focus on one site and grow it is a good strategy. But if you want to spread out, I won’t stop you.

Before you do that though, let me ask you a question. Why?

Managing multiple social media profiles will take up more time than just having one.

If your twitter is just endless automatic sharing tweets of your Instagram post, why bother?

You’ll probably feel annoyed if the radio, newspaper, TV shows and your neighbor is all talking about the exact same thing. Your customers feel the same.

Of course, there will be people who only have Twitter. Perhaps they only do their shopping research on Instagram. Then being on multiple platforms can extend your outreach.

What you need to do is make use of the prominent features of specific social sites.

You don’t post the same thing on your Pinterest and Twitter, your business shouldn’t be otherwise.

Twitter is a microblogging platform so post your 300 words promotion pitch on Facebook instead.

Your cupcake photo is cute but it will work better on Pinterest compared to Facebook.

Pinterest loves cupcakes.

Take into account the different demographics active in different social media sites. Some might be more interested in your baked goods photos. While others will have more interest in the kind of events you have served.

Point taken: Different social media sites exist for different reasons, you should use each of them for different reasons too.

3. Be committed to your social media profile strategy

Rome wasn’t built in a day, customers won’t suddenly start rolling in after 2 weeks of social media marketing efforts.

It may take up to a year before you have a profitable following online. Just remember that everything takes time. Stay patient and stay committed.

Develop a schedule that works with your social media audience. Publish posts when they are the most active to achieve maximum momentum.

Read more on The Best And Worst Times To Post On Social Media (https://seopressor.com/blog/science-behind-best-worst-time-to-post-social-media/)

Allocate an hour or less a day to scroll through the comments you have received, check how many likes and share or perhaps retweets you have, reply any inquiries etc.

Make it a habit and integrate it into your daily tasks. That way you can avoid creating another business profile that got abandoned in the webs of social media sites.

4. Showcase personality and build your brand

Branding is a big word, so what about showing them what you are?

In order to stand out in the crowded business scene, you need to establish something that people can associate to you at once.

It doesn’t have to be all grand and purposeful. You can simply be “Male haircuts in 10 minutes guaranteed” or “Your trusty 24 hours plumbing service”.

Now treat that as the motto of your business. Don’t just say it, you have to deliver. And by delivering promises you are building your brand.

5. Don’t be all sales-ly, be more informative instead

More often than not, someone who visits your social media profile does it more out of curiosity.

They want to find out who you are, what you do, where you are, what do you have, are you any good etc.

The point is they are not looking to buy anything from you yet. The worst you can do is scare them away from becoming an actual customer.

You can post about your product but make it in a way that’s more informative than sales pitching.

6. Mix up your contents

You might ask what can you post if it’s not about your business?

The thing is you need to understand that your business social media profile doesn’t need to be only about your business.

Greet your followers a good day, make a 4th of July post or even a TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) posts. Post stuffs that your customers can relate to.

So make it a good mix between of greeting posts, promotional posts and behind the scene posts.

Utilise photos, illustrations, quotes, videos, and texts to show a variety of contents. That way you can stay fresh and your followers won’t be bored with the same thing every day.

7. Use hashtags – the correct way

This little # sign can make a big difference to your social media presence if used correctly that is.

Hashtag should only be made up of alphabets and numbers, no special symbols and no spaces. There is no difference between a capitalized and non capitalized hashtag. However, properly capitalized hashtag does make it easier to read.

A correctly formed hashtag can usually be noted by its blue font color.

One thing that is common for hashtags is they should be related to your post. It can be your location, your business category, a celebrated festival or even specifically coined ones to encourage conversation on a topic.

The easiest way to use a hashtag (noun) is to hashtag (verb, confusing I know) the topic of your posts. Like this post celebrating #MothersDay by McDonald’s.

The rule of thumb is to not use more than 3 hashtags in a post, even using 3 is pushing it.

Abusing hashtags on Twitter is especially frowned upon. As an avid Twitter user myself, I can tell you that a tweet made up of hashtags will be promptly ignored.

8. Chime in on current events and start conversations

Like what McDonald’s did, you can and should definitely try to chime in on current events. Plan your mother’s day post, father’s day post, independence day post, Merry Christmas post, you name it.

Take mother’s day as an example, you can use the opportunity to ask your followers question. Such as what is your mom’s favorite meal for a mother’s day dinner?

Ask some questions that can be useful to you. That way you can collect helpful information and at the same time engage with your audience.

9. Fully utilize a topic to create post series

Continuing with the mother’s day theme, mother’s day is a big celebration. So instead of making just one post on the day itself, you can plan a series of posts.

Maybe a reminder post one week before the actual day, a mother’s day promotion before the actual day arrives and of course a post to appreciate all the mothers around the world on the day itself.

The point here is, you can develop and make full use of your contents to build a stronger impression.

Have you realized how I’ve been using mother’s day as an example topic across three tips?

Does it make an easier read for you now that I’m not jumping examples from plumbers to barber to baker? It does make my writing process easier though. It will make yours easier too.

10. Be visual – use photos, images and even videos

One feature that is a staple across all the social media sites is inserting images. You can add one or more pictures to your Facebook posts and you definitely need a picture if you’re even thinking about posting on Instagram and Pinterest.

You need to take advantage of that. Post engaging pictures that can attract eyeballs.

Bakeries, delis, diners, and restaurants have an advantage here because who doesn’t like a photo of a good meal?

If you’re a plumber, no, stop focusing your camera on the plunger people wouldn’t want it on their facebook feed.

A photo with your happy customers would be nice instead. And that actually applies to all businesses.

Or perhaps a little behind the scene photo before you head out to rescue another clogged kitchen sink.

A simple photo can tell a big story, so share your stories using photos. Everyone likes a good story.

11. Keep your customers in mind – what would pike their interest?

I have shared with you a lot of tips about what to post, but at the end of the day the most important thing to consider is this, will your customers like it?

If you’re a little mom and pops store and you know Rebecca’s five-year-old son Taylor likes puppies, perhaps you can post some cute puppies photo.

If you just started up and don’t really know your customers yet, you gotta imagine how your customers will be.

Are they in their 20s or 40s? Are they married? What is their job? Then try to look for a topic that would interest them.

When you know what they like and you post what they like, in return, they will like you more.

Figure out where your customers are and what they like.

12. Reach out to influencers of your niche – they might promote you to their huge followings

This might not apply to every business out there but if you’re doing a beauty business, this is relevant.

There’s a lot of beauty gurus on the web that has a huge following. If you know who they are you can try to reach out to them.

Perhaps give them a sponsor and in return, they might talk about you. Then their thousands of followers will know about you and perhaps will become your customer.

Yes this Instagrammer has 1.6 million followers.

A lot of those influencers has a P.O box where people can send them stuff. The chance that they will notice you might not be that high but hey, at least you tried.

13. Track what others are talking about you

A social platform is meant to be interactive. Do some digging around to see whether people are talking about you.

Of course, some would leave you a comment or mention directly but some might not. Especially if you just started out and people aren’t aware of your social media presence yet.

Customers feedback is important. Without it, you can’t really know what you did right or did wrong.

So keep an eye out of what people are talking about you. Or better yet, reach out and tell your customers about your social media profile and they might start leaving you messages and comments.

If there are bad comments, curb it and try to make what’s wrong right again. If there are good comments, yes you’re doing the right thing and now you got free promotion.

Word of mouth is still an important way of promotion. So if people are gonna talk, make sure that they talk good.

14. Keep a calendar for your posts

We’re at step 14 now, have you sighed a little and think that this is quite a lot of work? Well, it doesn’t have to be.

You should keep a calendar and keep note of what to do every day. That way you won’t confuse yourself and get things mixed up.

Get your posts planned out at least a week ahead. When the day arrives you don’t have to spend hours researching and thinking about what to post. Since you already got it all planned out.

Everyone should keep a calendar on everything anyways. So why not a calendar for your social media posts too?

Keep a calendar to keep track of planned posts.

15.You are not alone – social media managing tools will always be there for you

Perhaps 3 months, 6 months, 12 months down the road you will have grown a decent number of following. Hey, that’s great right? But it might also be too much for you to handle on your own anymore.

You still have a business to run, the day to day operations, accounts, and on top of all of that, you need to maintain an active social media account.

The thing is, you don’t have to do it all alone. If your social media presence has grown so much it probably means your customers have grown too.

At this point, you should probably think about making a budget for either some tools for managing social media accounts or hiring someone that can handle it for you.

HootSuite, Sprout Social and Buffer are applications that help you to plan ahead and schedule posts.

For analyzing you can consider sumall or quintly.

There’s still a lot of options out there, so explore and choose the one that is the best for you.

With 69% of US adults on social media sites, you really don’t want to miss out on this huge opportunity to promote yourself.

Everything is so user-friendly now I’m sure you can handle it like a pro in no time.

Still remember the first tip? Now it’s time to find out where your customers hang out online and get started.

Download your free ‘Best & Worst Time to Post On Social Media’ Infographic!

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How Site Pagination and Click Depth Affect SEO – An Experiment

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on How Site Pagination and Click Depth Affect SEO – An Experiment

How Site Pagination and Click Depth Affect SEO – An Experiment

We’ve all seen pagination links — those little numbered links at the top and bottom of multi-page content. They are used on blogs, e-commerce sites, webcomics, gallery pages, SERPs, and multi-page articles.

31 Flavors of Pagination

 

From the human visitor’s point of view, pagination is pretty simple. If you are on page one, and you want to see page two, you click “2” (or “next”, or whatever). You don’t really have to think about it. From a web crawler’s point of view however, it’s a bit more complicated.

A search engine crawler’s perception of a small website

Web crawlers find new pages on a site by following links from pages they have already crawled. The crawler doesn’t know about a page until it has found at least one other page that links to it. (This is an over-simplification, but is generally true. There are some exceptions, like XML sitemaps and direct submission, but we’ll ignore those here.)

For sites with a simple tree-like structure, this works pretty well. The crawler reads the home page. Then it follows links from the home page to (for example) each of the top-level category pages. Then it follows links from these to the secondary category pages, and then from these to the content pages. In this simplistic example, the crawler can get from the home page to anywhere else on the site by following at most three links.

An even smaller website crawl tree

But now let’s look at an example with paginated content:

Simple “Next” Link

Suppose you have a website that contains a sequence of 200 numbered pages. For purposes of this example, it doesn’t really matter what kind of pages they are. They could be product listings, or blog posts, or even a single article split into 200 pages. (Please don’t actually do that.) What matters is that there are 200 of these pages, and they are numbered sequentially from page 1 to page 200.

For this first example, let’s assume these pages are connected by the simplest pagination possible: a single “next page” link at the bottom of each page:

next page

 

This scheme is as simple as it gets. If you are on page 1, and you click this link, you will be taken to page 2. If you click again, you will be taken to page 3, and so on. If you click repeatedly for a very long time, you will eventually get to page 200. This scheme is fairly common in the real world, mostly on blogs (typically with the link text “« Older Posts”). It is not as popular as it used to be, however. (for reasons that will become apparent below)

From the crawler’s point of view, this site looks like this:

This chart shows the discovery path that was followed by a web crawler as it crawled a simulated website. In this case, the simulated website had 200 numbered pages connected with a simple “next” link on each page. (There were also some other, non-numbered pages on this site, but the numbered pages are what matter here.)

Each colored dot represents one page. A connection between two dots means the downstream page (the smaller dot) was discovered on the upstream page (the larger dot).

That long squiggly tail is a “tunnel”: a long connected sequence of pages that the crawler has to walk through one at a time.

The main thing to take away from this chart is that this form of pagination is extremely inefficient because it creates a very long pagination tunnel. This is a problem, because:

When content is buried hundreds of links deep, it sends a strong message to the search engines that you don’t think the content is important. The pages will probably be crawled less often, if at all, and they probably will not rank very well.
If just one page in that long chain returns an error (e.g. because of a temporary server hiccup), the crawler won’t be able to discover any of the other pages downstream.
Sequential chains can’t be crawled in parallel. In other words, the crawler can’t request more than one page at a time, because each page can only be discovered after the previous page has loaded. This may slow the crawler down, and may lead to incomplete crawling.
Human visitors will probably never reach the deepest pages at all, unless they are extraordinarily patient and persistent. If a human visitor does wish to see your deepest pages (e.g. because they want to read your first blog post), they are likely to give up in frustration long before they get there.

So, how can we improve this? How about…

Adding “Last” and “Previous” Links

Let’s make a few seemingly minor changes to the pagination links:

first previous next last

 

The important changes here are the “last” and “previous” links. Together, they give the crawler (or human) the option to step through the pages backwards as well as forwards. This scheme is also fairly common on real websites, especially blogs. To the crawler, this new site looks like this:

This is somewhat better. Now there are two tunnels, but they are each half as long. One of them starts at page 1 and counts up to page 101, and the other starts at page 200 and counts down to page 102. This cuts the maximum depth in half. This is better, but still not great.

Stepping by Two Pages

Let’s try something different. In this test, there is no “last” link, but there is a way to skip ahead (or back) by two pages. For page 1, the pagination would look like this:

1 2 3

For a deeper page, it would look like this:

23 24 25 26 27

If you start on page 1, you can jump to page 3, then to page 5, then to 7, and so on. There is no way to skip to the last page. I have seen this scheme on a couple of real-world websites, both huge online stores. (I’m guessing they chose to omit the “last” link for database performance reasons.) This site looks like this to the crawler:

The most interesting thing about this chart is that it looks almost the same as the previous chart, even though the pagination schemes for the two are quite different. As before, numbered pages are split into two tunnels, each around 100 pages long.

The difference is that now the tunnels are split into even-numbered pages and odd-numbered pages. In the previous chart they were split into ascending and descending order. This raises the question: if each of these schemes cuts the maximum depth in half, what happens if we combine them both together?

Which brings us to:

Step by Two, plus “Last” Link

In this scheme, the pagination for page 1 looks like this:

1 2 3 … 200

And for deeper pages, it looks like this:

1 … 23 24 25 26 27 … 200

This is just the last two schemes combined together. This scheme allows you to skip ahead two pages at a time, and allows you to jump to the end and then work backwards. Most real-world websites use something similar to this (like the site you are reading right now, for example).

This produces the following chart:

This has cut the maximum depth down to a fourth of what it was originally. This is a significant improvement. But why stop there? What happens if we go crazy?

Extreme-Skip Nav (Crazy Idea #1)

We’ve seen above that being able to to skip ahead by just two pages can cut the maximum crawl depth in half. So why not take this to extremes? Why not allow skipping by, say, eighteen pages?

In this scheme, the pagination for page 1 looks like this:

1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 … 200

And for deeper pages, it looks like this:

1 … 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 15 16 17 18 19 20 21 22 23 24 25 26 27 28 29 30 31 32 33 34 35 36 37 38 39 40 41 42 43 … 200

 

This allows the crawler (or human) to skip ahead by as many as eighteen pages at a time. It also still allows the crawler to jump to the end and work backwards, as before. This should reduce the maximum depth by quite a bit.

Yes, all those numbered links are kind of ugly, and they add a lot of clutter. You probably wouldn’t use this on a real website for that reason. That’s OK though, because this is just an experiment. Let’s just try it and see what happens.

The above scheme produces the following chart:

This brings the maximum depth down to just seven, which is a huge improvement. Unfortunately, this scheme is probably too ugly and visually cluttered for users to be a good choice for most real-world applications.

We need some way to achieve the same improvement, but with a pagination scheme that is more compact and easy to read. Such as…

Adding Midpoint Link (Crazy Idea #2)

In this scheme, the pagination for page 1 looks like this:

1 2 3 … 101 … 200

And for deeper pages, it looks like this:

1 … 12 … 23 24 25 26 27 … 113 … 200

 

Note that this is exactly the same as the “Step by Two, plus ‘Last’ Link” scheme above, except with two additional links inserted.

The “101” in the above example was added because it is the midpoint between 3 and 200, and the “113” because it is the midpoint between 27 and 200. In other words, the new link is based on the number you get by averaging the numbers immediately to the left and right of the “…” in the old scheme. These midpoint links make it possible to for a crawler to get from any page to any other page in just a few steps.

This scheme produces the following chart:

This shows the same level of crawlability improvement as the previous chart, but now with a scheme that is much easier to read (if a bit counterintuitive).

But How Do These Pagination Structures Scale?

So far, all of the examples have had a mere 200 numbered pages. This creates simple easy-to-understand charts, but a real website can easily have tens of thousands of pages. What happens when we scale things up?

Let’s run the last two crawls, with the same two pagination schemes, but with a hundred times as many pages.

Extreme-Skip Nav, with 20,000 Pages

This is Crazy Idea #1, but with a much bigger crawl:

Yes it looks kind of pretty, but it’s terrible as far as crawlability and click depth.

The deepest page is at level 557. This scheme does not scale very well at all. The relationship between page count and maximum depth is more-or-less linear. In other words, if you double the number of pages, you double the maximum depth.

Midpoint Link, with 20,000 Pages

This is Crazy Idea #2, again with a much bigger crawl:

The deepest page is now at level 14. This is a dramatic improvement, meaning this scheme scales extremely well.

The relationship between page count and maximum depth is (nearly) logarithmic. In other words, if you double the number of pages, the maximum depth only increases by one.

In general, if a chart is mostly made of long squiggly tentacle-like structures then the relationship will be linear (which is bad), and if the chart has a finely-branched tree-like structure, then the relationship will be logarithmic (which is good).

Begging the million dollar, win-both-showcases, takeaway question: is this midpoint link pagination worth using?

The answer: a resounding “Possibly. It depends.”

If you’re looking for conclusive advice on the structure of your site, the Portent team will almost always favor user experience over pleasing the search engine overlords. But getting the right, highly specific content in front of a searcher as quickly as possible is absolutely part of user experience. If that long-tail content is hundreds, or even thousands of clicks away from your homepage today, taking proactive steps to reduce click depth could well be worth it.

If you have many tens of thousands (or even hundreds of thousands) of numbered pages, this midpoint link pagination scheme may help to get your content crawled more thoroughly, and may help the deeper pages to rank better.

On the other hand, it may be a bit confusing to the user and will add some clutter. For smaller sites, the “Step by Two, plus ‘Last’ Link” scheme may be a better choice.

In the end, the point of this experiment and exploration was to shine some light on an often-neglected part of most websites, and to show that small changes to your pagination can have a surprisingly large impact on how a crawler sees your site and all that wonderful content.

The post How Site Pagination and Click Depth Affect SEO – An Experiment appeared first on Portent.

Keyword stuffing is terrible for your SEO. Here’s what to do instead

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Keyword stuffing is terrible for your SEO. Here’s what to do instead

There’s a seemingly intuitive – but in practice misguided – logic that continues to lead marketers astray when trying to optimize website content for SEO. Since search engines are designed to accept keywords as input and show search results that are most relevant to those terms, you might reason: “Why not cram those keywords into my content as much as possible?” Well, because you’ll be doing a lot more harm than good.

This practice is called keyword stuffing, and it actually used to be fairly successful – until search engines wised up to it and began penalizing websites that did it. Today, stuffing a keyword into your content too many times can actually knock the stuffing out of your search rankings, or even cause your content to be removed from search listings entirely.

Why is the practice of keyword stuffing so problematic?

Search engines are in the business of connecting an audience with the content that will satisfy their search intentions, which means they use algorithms that do their very best to favor high-quality, informative content. When content isn’t written for a human audience, but is instead structured to game an algorithm, the result is usually a spammy and artificial read that doesn’t serve a site visitor’s needs and (in almost all cases) doesn’t deserve their attention.

Consequently, keyword stuffing is rightfully considered a black hat technique that goes against SEO best practices.

How does keyword stuffing work – and how do you know if you’re doing it?

Unfortunately, many marketers and content creators still practice keyword stuffing (believing it to be an advantageous strategy for the logic described above). However, doing so can and will cripple their sites’ standings with search engines as a result.

Here are two examples of the more common keyword stuffing varieties (i.e. do not do these):

Repeating the keyword over and over, in full view of your site visitor

Say that a kitchen appliance ecommerce site wants a content page to rank highly in search results for the term ‘most affordable toaster’. An example of keyword stuffing would be if they unnecessarily included the phrase ‘most affordable toaster’ line after line, even jamming in ‘most affordable toaster’ where the term is out of context or irrelevant to the content topic. Most affordable toaster. In the most egregious cases, the content may just repeat the keyword in a block of text. Did I mention most affordable toaster?

There’s actually a useful equation that should be applied as a best practice to govern how often a keyword ought to be included in a piece of content. While the guideline is flexible, it’s best to aim for a keyword density of 2% or less, where keyword density = the number of times the keyword appears in the copy divided by the number of total words in the copy. For example, the above paragraph is 88 words and includes ‘most affordable toaster’ five times, giving a keyword density of 5.7% – much too high!

Including the keyword invisibly

In an attempt to avoid alienating readers by making them read spammy, unhelpful copy, some sites will stuff keywords where they aren’t visible. This can include camouflaging text by making it the same color as the webpage’s background, or placing text within the page’s code, such as in meta, alt, and comment tags. Even more so than with visible keyword stuffing techniques, these efforts are aimed solely for the consumption of search engine crawlers and not actual human readers.

This attempt to fool the algorithms that determine search rankings is (once again) not as clever as it might seem, because search engines actually can and do recognize these misguided efforts and penalize pages’ search rankings in response.

Using keywords correctly

As with most aspects of life, doing the right thing is the right thing to do if you want your site’s visibility to grow. Attempting to deceive search engines with keyword stuffing shortcuts isn’t going to work – following legitimate SEO best practices will.

It all begins with creating content with real visitors in mind, and then building out that content to meet their needs. Google offers guidance on producing quality content pieces around targeted keywords, suggesting that sites should “focus on creating useful, information-rich content that uses keywords appropriately and in context”.

One important technique – which is nearly the opposite of keyword stuffing – is to be sure that each content page focuses on a single primary keyword that is closely representative of the content as a whole. Ideally, this keyword should be a popular search term with minimal competition, making it a ripe target for your page to achieve a high rank. By focusing each page on a separate keyword, you make it significantly easier for search engines to understand what each content page is about and will avoid keyword cannibalization (where two or more of your pages end up fighting for attention).

Another best practice is to make sure content pieces include more than 300 words in the main body copy. Doing so alerts search engines that the content is probably robust enough to offer valuable information, and it helps with ensuring a keyword density of under 2%.

And while keyword stuffing will earn negative results, it’s a good practice to incorporate secondary keywords, keyword synonyms, and long-tail variations of the primary keyword within content copy in order to reinforce the topic’s focus.

It’s also perfectly acceptable (and smart) to place the primary keyword once within page elements, including the page title, one or more subheadings, the title tag, meta description, one or more image alt tags, the first paragraph, and near to the end of the content.

By avoiding keyword stuffing while still providing search engines clarity around the keywords that your content pieces should be associated with, you can:

Earn the higher search ranking placements that lead to more robust organic traffic
Provide the quality of content that rewards (and brings back) your audience and customers.

 

Kim Kosaka is the Director of Marketing at Alexa.com, whose tools provide insight into digital behavior that marketers use to better understand and win over their audience.

 

 

 

New Length for Google SERP Snippets & Meta Descriptions

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on New Length for Google SERP Snippets & Meta Descriptions

New Length for Google SERP Snippets & Meta Descriptions

Update as of May 2018: There is no fixed length for search snippets according to another Danny Sullivan tweet on 14 May 2018. So, do Meta Descriptions even matter anymore? I’ve got some thoughts, read more here: Meta Descriptions are Still Important!

Just in case you hadn’t heard yet, On December 1, 2017, Google (read: Danny Sullivan) officially confirmed that the maximum length of a snippet in their search results has increased to about 320 characters.

I know, right?!

How long should my Meta Description be?

Google is now saying that the maximum length for a snippet in search results is 320 characters including spaces & snippet features, like the Published Date. I more often recommend a length of 300 characters for a Meta Description.

However, other data providers like RankRanger have noted that the new descriptions have yet to exceed 300 characters in the wild and are currently averaging out to only about 230 characters.

Do I need to rewrite all my Meta Descriptions for 320 characters?

In a word: No. But while you don’t need to rewrite all your Meta Descriptions this instant, you might want to consider it.
For instance, I’m starting the shift in length with any new pages that Portent or our clients produce. From there, we’ll be working down the list of existing pages starting with high-value pages first.

Most of these longer snippets are being dynamically generated by Google and are highly dependent on the search query. What this means is that it might not matter what you write for the Meta Description if Google thinks they can craft a better one. Thanks Google!

hbspt.cta.load(319139, ’43aa46ab-4277-435c-a0b7-7d1b9a5b243d’, {});

Ultimately we decided to go out and do some light spot checking of our own to see what’s happening out in the wild.

We found out a few interesting things using a super scientific, data-intensive study of two different SERPs, that’s TWENTY blue links people!

Of Snippets:

55% of snippets exceed 160 characters.
More than half of all snippets are now longer than the old character limit!

30% of snippets exceed 300 characters.
One snippet had two instances of internal truncation. (It looked like the dynamic generator couldn’t make up its mind.)

10% of snippets exceed the supposed limit of 320 characters!

326 characters before truncation!

Of Meta Descriptions:

Only 35% of SERP snippets matched the Meta Description for the page! (Which means Google is already re-writing two thirds of the Meta Descriptions.)
Of the re-written Snippets, 46% were from Descriptions that were longer than 160 characters. (Which means that even if your Description is shorter than the old 160 character limit, more than half of them are being rewritten.)
Only 1 Meta Description was longer than 300 characters in a targeted attempt to utilize the extra space (I see you Moz) and even THAT ONE was rewritten in the Snippet!

Ultimately, if we want Google to use our expertly written Meta Descriptions, we need to change the way that we write them by using the increased real estate to better answer user questions and encourage click-through. But, even our best efforts may go unrewarded.

How to use Portent’s SERP Preview Tool

If you’re already familiar with our SERP Preview Tool, it’s been updated!

Be sure to clear your cache for this page or do a hard refresh when you get there.

Fun story: I didn’t clear my cache the first time I used the SERP Preview Tool after we updated the character length. Portent’s developer hit me with this gem: http://shouldiblamecaching.com/

For more on Google SERP Snippets getting longer, and the variability that you’re likely to see in the wild, read these:

Search Engine Land: Google officially increases length of snippets in search results

Search Engine Journal: Google’s Search Snippets are Longer, But Don’t Go Changing Anything

Moz: What Do Google’s New, Longer Snippets Mean for SEO?

The post New Length for Google SERP Snippets & Meta Descriptions appeared first on Portent.

Should You Buy Backlinks in 2018?

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Should You Buy Backlinks in 2018?

Should You Buy Backlinks in 2018?

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Are you thinking about buying backlinks in 2018?

Don’t worry, you’re not alone.

Almost every person who has done SEO has considered buying links.

Let me start with the reasons why people (like myself) buy or have bought backlinks.

Why People Buy Backlinks

My company has spent hundreds of thousands of dollars on backlinks and these are the reasons why:

1. It Saves Time

What some people don’t realize is that both white hat or black hat link building tactics are huge time killers. Let’s say you want to focus on white hat link acquisition.

If you want to acquire backlinks through outreach, you need to:

Create a quality SEO content asset that’s worth promoting
Prospect for relevant link opportunities
Qualify those opportunities
Build a relationship with each opportunity
Request link placement on the qualified websites
Test different outreach strategies to improve your response rate
If your request is approved, you then need to create content
If you don’t want to create the content yourself, you need to go through the process of hiring a writer
Rinse and repeat

But wait, there’s more:

If you want to have a life outside of just acquiring backlinks, you to create systems, procedures, and hire staff to perform these tasks. Not only that, you will need to train each person, so that they can perform this task the right way.

Oh yeah, let’s not forget that none of this will go according to plan. That means you either have to hire a project manager or be the manager yourself.

So, the moral of this short story is that when people are buying backlinks, they aren’t actually buying a backlink.

They are buying a process.

Now you’re probably thinking:

“That’s just white hat SEO! Grey/black hat SEO isn’t that hard.”

Let’s take the preferred link building method for grey/black hat SEO:

Private Blog Networks (PBNs).

Here is the process of building a network:

Find expired domains that meet a minimum vetting criteria
Qualify each domain based on deeper analysis
Purchase the domain (or participate in domain auctions to secure it)
Buy hosting for the domain
Set the domain up on a CMS (like WordPress)
If you’re using WordPress, install and setup plugins
Create foundational pages and find a theme to make the site look real
Create a fake persona (if you’re getting serious)
Test the quality of the expired domain
If the domain passes your test, you then have to write content for placing your link
Or, go through the process of ordering content
If the site isn’t indexed, go through a process to get it indexed
Create additional filler content
Buy social signals or fake traffic to increase the “realness” of the site

Now, once again, you could do this all yourself, but your life would be dedicated to PBNs.

What I explained above is for one domain. After you get more than one, other operational issues come into play such as managing the network, dealing with hacked sites, dealing with unreliable hosts, and even dealing with your sites getting deindexed.

On the other hand, you could just use a service to go through this entire process for you. Once again, you are buying a process.

You get it:

Buying links (buying a process) saves time.

But that’s not the only reason why people buy backlinks.

2. Faster Results

I’m going to assume you’re trying to do white or grey/black hat link acquisition yourself. If that’s the case, buying backlinks would clearly increase the speed for seeing results. That’s because you aren’t spending hours on these mind-numbing tasks.

Instead, you would be able to focus on other SEO priorities such as content creation, technical optimization, UX, page-level optimization, and even CRO.

So, after what you just read, you probably think I’m all for buying links.

Let’s take it back a notch because there are some caveats that you need to consider.

It’s Dangerous

Buying backlinks is against Google’s Webmaster Guidelines. It doesn’t matter whether it’s blogger outreach or whether you are using private blog networks.

Buying backlinks is buying backlinks.

That means the big danger is if Google catches you, you will get a manual action against your site. In short, that means your organic search traffic will get murdered overnight.

Trust me:

This is not a good feeling and I’ve felt on several different occasions.

With that said, there is one undeniable truth when it comes to buying links:

Buying placements on real websites is less risky than investing time and capital into fake websites.

Don’t get me wrong:

All forms of link buying carry risk. But from a risk perspective, it’s very challenging for Google to know with absolute certainty whether a link is natural or not.

The same is not true for private blog networks.

Sure, a guy like Matt slips under the radar because he has developed strong systems. But for most people dabbling in PBNs, you will probably get nailed because you will leave footprints.

Google has no sympathy when it comes to your expired domains, but they would be reluctant to slap Forbes or some authority website with a manual action.

But this is really all common sense:

Getting backlinks on real websites is safer than get backlinks on fake ones.

Now I’m sure after reading all of this, you’re probably thinking…

“Then what should I do?”

Good question.

Option #1: Roll the Dice

If you’re willing to accept the risk of losing your traffic overnight, then just roll the dice. It’s ultimately a matter of risk analysis.

Is saving time and getting results faster worth the risk of getting nailed?

That’s for you to figure out.

Remember that certain link types have elevated risk. For example, buying PBN links is riskier than buying a link placement on a real blog.

Option #2: Use a Proxy Site

One way to decrease risk is to create a site outside of your real business. For example, let’s say GotchSEO.com is my company website. I would create a separate site hypothetically named “SEOdudes.com” and I would focus on ranking it.

That way if “SEOdudes.com” gets hit, at least my company site would still be intact.

This of course isn’t a full-proof strategy because A) it’s a waste of resources and B) your company site could still get nailed if you link the two together.

Option #3: Invest Capital Into Other Areas

I know firsthand how SEO can be all-consuming. When you’re first getting into it, it’s hard to think about anything else.

This isn’t a problem in the beginning because immersion is an effective way to learn, but you have to adapt overtime.

It’s easy to get trapped in the SEO bubble and forget that there are high-impact activities outside of SEO that can explode your business.

The truth is that some businesses are not equipped for SEO out of the gate. SEO is FUEL on the fire. It shouldn’t be your first move.

Creating a great product/service is what matters most. It doesn’t matter how good you are at SEO if no one wants to buy your product or service.

The one exception is for affiliate marketers. Affiliate marketers can make a substantial income without needing a product.

With that said, here are some areas to invest time and capital into outside of buying backlinks:

Product Improvement/Development
Customer Experience (CX)
Content Creation
User Experience (UX) / Technical Optimization
On-Page Optimization
Conversion Rate Optimization (CRO)
Sales Funnels
Growth Hacking
Branding, Design, and Corporate Identity
Paid Traffic (Facebook, YouTube, Google AdWords)
Influencer Marketing

As you can see there’s a lot you can do to grow your business outside of SEO. And this is just scratching the surface.

Now let me explain some basic math, so you can figure out how to allocate capital.

ROI Math

One of the biggest elements of effective marketing is figuring out what gets a business the best Return on Investment (ROI). SEO can produce incredible returns, but you need to understand where to invest your capital. You also need to make decisions based what stage you’re at in your SEO campaign lifecycle.

It’s always going to be better to invest in content if you’re in the early stages of an SEO campaign. There is no good reason to invest in link acquisition if you don’t have a well-optimized site or a base of content assets.

Here’s the ugly truth about buying backlinks in 2018:

Buying quality backlinks are EXPENSIVE.

For example, you can buy a NoFollow link placement on Inc. for $1,500-$2,000.

Do you know what you could do with $1,500?

Here are a few things you could do with $1,500:

Get at least (x4) 1,500 word articles written by a premium writer (~$350 per article)
Reach over 200,000 people with Facebook by boosting your content
50 hours of web design and development ($30/hour)
75 hours of video editing ($20/hour)

The big takeaway is that there are many ways to get an ROI in your business outside of buying backlinks. SEO is a long-term game. That means you would be foolish to avoid investing in these other areas while you sit back and wait for your organic search traffic to grow.

If you decide to buy backlinks, then make sure that A) you have a strong foundation and B) only invest in quality placements like those from our blogger outreach service.

A Beginner's Guide to Ahrefs for Small-Batch Keyword Research

Posted by on Jul 14, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on A Beginner's Guide to Ahrefs for Small-Batch Keyword Research

A Beginner's Guide to Ahrefs for Small-Batch Keyword Research

This post was written by Courtney Louie, a student at Washington State University. During her time in the Seattle consulting team, Courtney tried her hand at many tasks that make up the day-to-day workings of an analyst or consultant. One of those was keyword research, and she decided to share here learning process for KW research using Ahrefs…

Keyword Research is a fundamental principle of SEO. As marketers, we know by now that it can help drive traffic to our sites and improve organic search rankings. With the vast amount of tools available, it can be hard to find the right one. While doing keyword research for a client, Distilled Analyst Lydia Gilbertson introduced me to arguably the best tool out there – Ahrefs’ Keywords Explorer.

This tutorial will walk you through the keyword research process for a client and show you how to take actionable decisions from the results by using Ahrefs’ tools.

Why Ahrefs?
Time-saving:

Compared to their competitors, Ahrefs ease of use and minimal navigation required to achieve the desired results is what sets it apart.

Data-driven decision

Sure, other industry tools will give you similar data and metrics, but Ahrefs has the most comprehensive set. The variety of tools allows you to handle all your website’s metrics in one place. This is where the competitors fall short.

The client used for our example

An e-commerce site looking to improve keyword targeting on their site’s top 20 product pages. A nice, small batch of URLs that we can dive into finding trends and do competitor research around.

Selecting keywords to research
Start out with what you know

When starting research for the client, look at the product pages and examine the title and H1 tags. These give a good sign of what the page is trying to target and might currently be ranking for (Note: also where the most improvements can be made. We’ll touch on that later). It is helpful to pull this data from a Screaming Frog crawl and have the titles and H1s in a list. Seed keywords can be made by directly using a part of the page’s current title or H1.

Think like a user

Another effective technique is to think like a user or customer of your site would. For example, say a customer is looking to buy an aluminum water bottle. The first searches that come to mind are “best aluminum water bottles” or “aluminum water bottle brands”. Apply this method to some of the pages you are wanting to find keywords for. This technique is especially helpful when trying to find long-tail keywords. As always, put the ones you come up with on a separate sheet list for easy inputting into Ahrefs.

See what your competitors are ranking for

Ahrefs has a great tool for this called Site Explorer. It allows you to insert any URL and automatically generates data on the keywords it currently ranks for. In the case of the client example, one of their main competitors is a major food and gift basket brand. Let’s walk through this:

By pasting the URL into Site Explorer and keeping the “domain” setting as is, you will get keyword data on the whole domain, and not just the particular URL. Ignoring everything else on the Site Explorer page, you should then navigate to the Organic Keywords section.

Below you see a list of all the keywords the competitor is ranking for. By default, this list is sorted by traffic, but clicking any of the metrics you can sort it by that metric; either highest or lowest. There will always be self-referencing (or branded) keywords but you can remove these after exporting the data. Focus on the keywords that apply to your site.

Getting the data

I recommend combining the three methods above to generate a list of keywords. The end goal for most keyword research is to identify and aid with the searcher’s intent. This can be done by making data driven decisions, but first, it’s important to understand what the data means.

Taking the potential keywords, input them into Keyword Explorer to analyze the data. 

Paste keywords into the insert box and kept the search data country the United States. It is important to change this based on where your target audience is located. Notice at the bottom you can also select New List which will add/save these keywords into a unique list for referencing later. These lists are helpful if you want to have different saved sets of keywords for parts of your website, pages or clients in general.

The overview and metrics tabs are equally important. But for the task at hand, let’s focus on the Metrics tab. The overview tab aggregates that data from all the inputted keywords and gives a summary of it. Whereas the metrics tab breaks down the data for each keyword.

Overview

Metrics

Keywords explorer metrics

Looking at the metrics tab, let’s focus on three metrics that are the most helpful and not as self-explanatory:

KD Score

Volume

SERP feature

KD Score

This is an Ahrefs specific score that calculates how hard it will be to rank in the top 10 results for a keyword. The score is calculated by how many referring domains the current top 10 results have for that specific keyword. It’s great for judging if it is worth targeting or not. The lower the KD score, the less difficult it is to rank for it.

Volume

Volume is the amount of searches per month, averaged over the last 12 months. This metric helps you to determine how “popular” the keyword is. Be careful to not solely base your keyword research on volume though. This can cause problems with not accurately reflecting the user’s intent.

SERP Feature

This is a great metric that (at the time of writing this post) is specific to Ahrefs. It shows tiny icons next to the keyword that will explain what appears on the search engine page. For instance a related question, image pack, knowledge panel, shopping result etc.

Using these three metrics for the client’s 20 keyword list, meaningful insights can be gained. The balance between finding a keyword with an achievable KD Score and substantial volume is imperative. Use this combination of this data to your advantage.

Most marketers are so driven to increase volume and clicks, that they don’t realize the keyword they are targeting is nearly impossible to rank for in the top ten since you would need, say, 50 referring domains. They are blinded by the fact that the keyword has the highest volume. There might be a keyword that has 10-20% less volume but only needs five referring domains to rank, which is obviously a more realistic choice.

Helpful results to find additional keywords

After completing the above tasks, look at the list and use the three metrics to determine if your pre-selected keywords are realistically worth targeting. You now want to find additional keywords, based off the ones on your list that have a better balance of metrics.

Here are two results to focus on:

Parent Topic

Keyword Ideas

Both of these can be found by clicking on an individual keyword from your list. This expands the data on that specific keyword.#

Parent topic

Butter toffee is a keyword originally found for the client example. You can see that the parent topic is ‘butter toffee recipe’. You might be thinking why is this the parent topic? It’s longer and more complex. This is because parent topics are found by taking the highest ranking page for your original keyword and taking the ‘best’ keyword that page ranks for. ‘Best’ refers to a combination of volume and traffic potential.

If you click on the parent topic, it will expand the data on that word. It will also show you all the keywords that top page is ranking for.

The additional keywords listed give good ideas for ones that might serve the user intent better and have an equal balance of metrics.

For instance, with ‘butter toffee recipe’, it’s clear that the client’s page (which only targets one keyword) can rank for multiple keywords since there are many relevant ones within this list.

Keyword Ideas

The results from this are broken into three categories:  having same terms, also rank for and search suggestions.

Each category provides you with a different set of keyword ideas that are relevant or an expansion of your original keyword. To find out more about how each one of these categories is populated, check out this article from Ahrefs.

Actionable to-dos after finding keywords

After creating a list of the best keywords (using the practices above) for the client’s product pages, it’s time to begin optimizing for them. Focuse on three main on-page optimizations that can easily be changed with the help of DevOps or the webmaster.

Title Tag

H Tags

Meta Description

Optimize these three HTML elements to specifically target the new keyword that correlated with each product page.

For example; if an old product page has an H1 titled ‘Award-Winning, Champion Butter Toffee’ and the new keyword to target is ‘Butter Toffee’, replace the H1 to become ‘Butter Toffee | [company name] ’ .

Making these on-page optimizations based on your keywords will have a greater potential effect towards your organic search visibility. If you want to test these optimizations on a certain set of pages, split testing has become very popular for gaining further insight. I would highly recommend this article on the subject by Distilled Senior Consultant Tim Allen.

How does this help you or your business?

The tools from Ahrefs aid the keyword research process from beginning to end. Once you get the hang of the best practices above, time spent on keyword research will decrease and you will begin to make better, faster decisions using this research structure. People may say keyword research is a daunting task, but with the tools available presently it will feel less tedious and more about meaningful research. High-quality keyword research can be used to make some of the most impactful targeting changes that will improve your site and drive traffic in the long run.

Synonyms and keyword distribution in Yoast SEO Premium

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on Synonyms and keyword distribution in Yoast SEO Premium

Synonyms and keyword distribution in Yoast SEO Premium

In the latest version of Yoast SEO Premium, we’ve released a new feature: synonyms. In the next months, you can expect even more updates making our SEO analysis smarter and more advanced. These changes will help you to write awesome, engaging content that’ll rank in the search engines. In this post, I’ll explain to you why we added synonyms to Yoast SEO and what changes lie ahead.

Optimize your site for search & social media and keep it optimized with Yoast SEO Premium »

$89 – Buy now » Info

Why you should use synonyms

Google is getting really good at understanding what texts are about. If you want to rank for a certain term, for example for ‘SEO’, Google will know that ‘Search Engine Optimization’ is pretty much the same thing. It makes sense to use them both. Synonyms make sure a text is nice and easy to read.

A few years ago, we added the multiple focus keyword functionality to Yoast SEO. Multiple focus keywords were often used to optimize for synonyms as well. We feel that the new synonym-functionality is a better solution to optimize for synonyms. Read my post about the difference between multiple focus keywords and synonyms if you want to know more.

Why is the exact match focus keyword still important?

Google understands synonyms, but that does not mean that focus keywords are not important anymore. Every SEO strategy should start with keyword research. You should know what words your audience is using when they are searching. The exact match keyword should be the keyword or keyphrase that your audience is using most often. That’s also the thing they expect to find. The exact match is always a little bit more important than the synonyms, just because your audience uses these words instead of others.

Vocabulary people are using is important. If people are searching for volunteering, they’ll probably not click on civic participation, although the two are supposed to be synonyms. Some words are more high-end than others and might not fit your audience as well. In your keyword research, you should take this into account. What words are your audience using?

In our SEO analysis, we’ll treat the exact match focus keyword different from the synonyms. Read more about that in our release post.

Keyword distribution

Along with the new support for synonyms, we’ve added a new keyword distribution check. Before, we would just count how often you used the keyword with our keyword density check. If you used it 4 or 5 times in the first paragraph and then never again, you could have gotten all green bullets from us. That’s no longer true.

We now have a check to see whether you’ve distributed your use of your focus keyword (or its synonyms) evenly across the text. This makes sure you stay on topic throughout your text, which will increase your chance of ranking.

Roadmap for the SEO analysis

Context is the SEO word of 2018. Google is getting really good at determining what a text is about. Google understands plurals and singulars. It has a related entities database. We’re working hard to make Yoast just as smart as Google is.

Embed synonyms in our SEO analysis

We now released our keyword distribution check in which synonyms are taken into account. We’re currently determining in which other checks we should take synonyms into account as well. Of course, we’re open for suggestions and opinions.

Morphology: plurals and more

In the past weeks, our awesome developers have built morphology recognition. This enables our analysis to recognize singulars, plurals, and other forms of the same word. So, if you want to rank for the focus keyword ‘link’, Yoast SEO will (in the near future) recognize ‘links’ and ‘linking’ as a similar keyword. We’ve built this for English and are planning to do so for more languages. We’re currently testing how to integrate this new morphology recognition into our SEO analysis.

Related keywords

The multiple focus keyword functionality is not optimal yet. In the near future, we’ll change this functionality into related keywords. You can optimize your post for a specific keyword and take synonyms into account. Next to that, you can optimize for related keywords. These are not your main keywords and not exact synonyms, but you still want to use them regularly.

We know that Google has a related entities database. If you’re searching for ‘tagliatelli’, results with the words ‘spaghetti’ and ‘pasta’ could also turn up. It’s smart to focus on related keywords when you’re writing a post. So, if your post is about ‘tagliatelli’, including ‘pasta’ and ‘spaghetti’ will probably help in your ranking as well.

We are currently working on modifying our multiple focus keyword functionality into related keyword functionality.

Recalibration of the SEO analysis

In the past year, we’ve been working on a recalibration of our SEO analysis. Many of the checks in our SEO-analysis were established based on our own experience in the SEO industry.  We wanted to be able to account for every check in our analysis more thoroughly. A team of linguists, developers, and SEO-experts dove into scientific literature and SEO blogs in order to re-assess all of our checks. The recalibration resulted in some changes in the checks of our analysis. For instance: the keyword distribution check was added as a result of it. We’re planning to release the new SEO analysis in September of this year.

Big improvements in our SEO analysis are coming

Context is gaining importance in 2018. That’s why we invest heavily in improving our SEO analysis. At the end of this year, we can really account for context in your blog posts and articles. This could mean that some of your articles that get green bullets now, will have orange or red bullets later on. That does not mean that your content became worse. It only means that we’re able to give you better, smarter feedback on your writing.

Read on: Keyword research: the ultimate guide »

The post Synonyms and keyword distribution in Yoast SEO Premium appeared first on Yoast.

The #1 Fastest Way to Make Money Online in 2018

Posted by on Jul 13, 2018 in SEO Articles | Comments Off on The #1 Fastest Way to Make Money Online in 2018

The #1 Fastest Way to Make Money Online in 2018

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Wondering what the fastest way to make money online in 2018 is? No worries because that’s exactly what I’m going to show you today.

Let me start by saying that there is no guarantee you will be successful in what I’m about to show you. However, your chances of success are high if you take the right actions and are willing to put in the work to learn.

Listen:

I know the Internet marketing niche is saturated with people who claim to have the golden ticket for helping you make money online. And to be honest, there is a lot of nonsense out there. Many of these “gurus” make money by selling you products on how to make money.

Now, of course, that is still a valid business model.

But the issue I have with it, is that some of these gurus give you specific vehicles for making money online that they haven’t even had success in themselves.

That’s wrong.

So, listen:

If you have ever read my Gotch SEO blog, you know that I never share strategies unless I have personally tested, refined, and had success with them.

In fact, I even share many of my failures because those are often the biggest opportunities to learn. With that said, this method that I’m going to show you for making money online is the vehicle I used to escape my terrible job, build a thriving business, and ultimately have the capital to invest into other, more scalable business models.

So, what I’m going to show you today, is a business model that requires almost no capital to get started, has very little overhead, and can give you reliable monthly recurring revenue. After that, I’ll be showing you three strategies you can use TODAY to go out there and get your first customer or get even more customers.

What is this method I’ve been teasing you about? It’s simple:

SEO consulting or full service SEO.

So, the best way to show you the power of this method of making money online is to tell you a story. And don’t worry I’ll keep this short.

So, back in 2013, I was working a truly awful job as a loss prevention manager. During that time, I was also working on several niche websites because I wanted to make enough income to quit my job and go full-time online. My goal was $3,000 per month.

The challenge I faced is that I didn’t have enough capital to grow these niche websites fast enough. So, what I decided to do is begin looking for opportunities where I could do SEO for small businesses.

Within only a few days, I landed my first full-service SEO client for a whopping $100 per month.

In hindsight, it’s insane that I worked for that such a small retainer, but my goal wasn’t to bring in a ton of money. My goal was to get enough capital to support my niche site projects and to begin building a portfolio of successful SEO projects that I could leverage in the future.

But the truth is, back then, I realized that getting businesses to pay me to do SEO was much easier than trying to build several new businesses at a time.

So, that’s exactly what I began to do.

After this realization, I quit my job, packed my stuff up, and drove to St. Louis to not only be with my wife but to start my SEO agency. Within the first month, I built my monthly recurring revenue beyond $5,000 and ended up making over $200,000 in my first full year in business.

That is the beauty of full service SEO or consulting. You can grow your monthly recurring revenue very fast. Now of course, I’m not going to pretend that it’s all sunshine and roses.

There are some cons when it comes to client SEO.

Pros and Cons of Client SEO

Let’s start with the “cons” of going client SEO:

It’s labor intensive
It’s high pressure because you have to get results (or you get fired)
It’s very challenging to scale
It can feel like a job with many bosses
Low barrier to entry (higher competition)

Now, I’m not telling you this to scare you off. I just want to be realistic with what you can expect.

The truth is that the pros of getting into client SEO far outweigh the cons.

The pros of doing client SEO are as follows:

Low barrier to entry (pro and con)
Don’t need much startup capital (I started on a $500 credit card, but I don’t suggest doing it this way)
Low overhead
Reliable monthly recurring revenue
Multiple streams of income when you have multiple clients
Gives you capital that you can reinvest into other more scalable business models

So, at this point, you’re probably thinking what can you do right now to either get started in client SEO or get more clients for your existing SEO agency.

No worries, because I’m going to show you 3 ways you can get clients as soon as possible.

Before, I jump in, let me quickly explain what you need to get started.

3 Things You Need to Get Started

You need to know how to do SEO – It’s unethical and wrong to take someone’s money if you have no clue how to actually achieve the desired result. You don’t need to be an SEO master, but you need to have some wins under your belt. Ranking for hyper long-tail keywords is better than not ranking at all. Bringing me to my next point…

You need proof that you actually know what you’re doing – Document every single positive result that you get from SEO. Create case studies, gather testimonials, and do everything in your power to build a strong portfolio. This increases your perceived value and will make your sales process easier.

You have to be willing to face rejection and failure – Rejection and failure are effective learning vehicles and you should embrace them with open arms. There are no better teachers. As many personal development experts have said, you don’t learn much when you win. You learn far more when you lose because you get an opportunity to pivot.

Now that you know what you need to get started, let show you three ways you can get your first SEO client or add more clients to your existing business.

Strategy #1: Strategic Partnerships

This is easily one of the most surefire ways to grow your client SEO business. The challenge is that is requires you to do outreach and build relationships.

Here’s how it works:

You identify agencies that offer SEO as a service. You then reach out to them and ask them if they would be interested in using a white label SEO service provider.

If you succeed, you will then do the SEO for their clients, but they will get all the credit.

So in essence, the agency can focus on acquiring new customers and your only responsibility is to get their client’s results.

Many of my early clients were strategic partnerships. I can tell you from experience, that is a reliable and effective way to grow your agency.

But with that said, you don’t want to rely on this white label relationships as your sole source for revenue. It’s best use a combination of white labeling and direct to client relationships. That way you stay diversified.

The reason why white labeling is so great on your side is because you only have to sell to the agency one time. Once you partner up with the agency, they will send you new projects all the time.

That is, if you are getting results.

So, here’s a basic workflow you can use to build strategic partnerships:

Identify companies that offer SEO services. The most obvious target is other SEO agencies, but you should also build a prospect list of traditional marketing companies, web design/development companies, PPC companies, graphic design companies, or even video production companies.
Find contact information. You can use a tool like Voila Norbert or Hunter.io to find pretty much anyone’s email.
Start your outreach. I’m not going to give you a ton of guidance on outreach because a templated-based approach will have low conversion rates. You need to use personalized, well-thought out email to build relationships.

With that said, I’ll give you some key elements you need to cover if you want to have high conversion rates.

Get. to. the. point.

Here’s what most people think when they get an unsolicited outreach email:

Who are you?
Why do you matter to me?
What’s in it for me?
What’s your offer and how is it going to benefit me?

I see this mistake so frequently when people reach out to me wanting something.

They want without giving first.

People want to know how they are going to benefit from your proposal. Think about how you are going to help the person you want to influence before thinking about your wants and needs.

Lastly, give the individual a strong offer. Strong offers benefit the other party more than you. It’s that simple.

Strategy #2: The FOMO Tactic

Let me start by defining what “FOMO” is… FOMO stands for fear of missing out. I won’t get too deep into the psychology of FOMO, but it’s a powerful principle that works almost all human beings.

The way you are going to leverage this principle is by finding influencers who don’t have a strong organic search presence. Then you will reach out to them and give them data showing how much traffic they are missing out on. Obviously, the end goal is to do SEO for them.

So, let me get a little more specific about these steps:

1. Develop a list of influencers (Instagram, YouTube, etc) who aren’t getting much organic search traffic. The key is to find influencers where the follower to organic search traffic ratio is way off.

For example, let’s say a fashion influencer has 100,000 followers on Instagram, but you estimate their organic search traffic is less than 10,000 visitors per month. This would be a prime candidate to reach out to. Ultimately, look for unbalanced ratios or little, to no organic search traffic.

Now you’re probably thinking, how do I do that? Just throw the prospects URL into SEMRush (20-day free trial) or Ahrefs to see their estimated organic search traffic.

Take note because this will be primary leverage point when reaching out.

2. Do some basic keyword research to get search volume.

3. Reach out to the influencer(s) to gauge their interest. Use a template like this:

Hey [NAME], love what you’re doing on [Insert Platform]. My name is [Your Name] and I’m the head of SEO at [Your Agency]. I noticed that you have a large following on [Platform], but I wanted to give you a heads up that you’re missing out on approximately [INSERT TRAFFIC ESTIMATE] website visitors every month. Can I send you a quick video showing you how you can capture this traffic you’re missing out on?

4. Send a follow up sequence if they don’t respond.

5. If they do respond, then you need to show them the keywords they could rank for + how much traffic they could get from ranking for those keywords.

6. Send pitch email or get on the phone.

Just make sure your offer is “special” and that there is a deadline attached to it. If you don’t have a ton of credibility, then you use a free or ultra low priced offer just to get your feet in the door (free SEO audit, free keyword research + a SEO content strategy, free competitor analysis, free link prospecting, etc).

The key is add massive value upfront and remember that lifetime value is what really matters.

Strategy #3: Client Thief Method

Strategy #3 is the most risque method because you are calling out low performing agencies.

The truth is that businesses pay to get results. They aren’t a charity and they want to see a return on their SEO investment. If an SEO agency isn’t achieving that goal, then there is no reason that a business should continue to pay them.

Of course, every SEO agency needs a fair shot. Which means that they should be given enough time to be properly evaluated.

To put that in perspective, most SEO campaigns pick up traction around the six month mark, but this can vary greatly based on website authority, website age, and various other issues that are encountered. So, in essence, the Client Thief Method is designed to attract businesses who are unsatisfied with their existing SEO campaign.

Here’s how it works:

1. Create a landing page using Leadpages or some other platform that streamlines the process.

2. Create a Facebook ad. Here’s are some ideas:

“Does your SEO agency suck?” or “Is your SEO agency not getting you results?”… we will audit your website and SEO campaign 100% free. No commitments. We will tell you if your agency is on the right track or if they don’t know what they’re doing. This analysis is 100% free and private (don’t worry, we won’t tell your agency). Your business deserves to get results when you are paying an agency. Don’t waste another day wondering if your SEO agency actually knows what they’re doing or not. Secure your free assessment today.

3. Send a video or text-based SEO audit (pdf)

4. “We can help” pitch. Nothing complicated here. You showed them the issues in the audit and now you are simply emphasizing that you know how to fix them.

5. Categorize your prospects based on sales cycle. For example if the prospect is locked into a contract, make sure you note that in your CRM. That way you can follow up in the future.

Conclusion

Getting into client SEO or any type of consulting work is one of the fastest ways to make money online. I’m so incredibly grateful that I stumbled upon this form of monetization because it was the ultimate teacher and most importantly, it gave me the capital to try other business models.

Want to learn SEO?

Enroll in our free SEO 101 course now.

rel=canonical: the ultimate guide

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

rel=canonical: the ultimate guide

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

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

History of rel=canonical

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

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

Ironic side note

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

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

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The SEO benefit of rel=canonical

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

The process of canonicalization

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

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

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

For example, these could be their URLs:

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

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

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

That’s it. Nothing more, nothing less.

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

Setting the canonical in Yoast SEO

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

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

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

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

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

Should a page have a self-referencing canonical URL?

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

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

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

Cross-domain canonical URLs

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

Faulty canonical URLs: common issues

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

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

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rel=canonical and social networks

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

Advanced uses of rel=canonical
Canonical link HTTP header

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

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

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

Using rel=canonical on not so similar pages

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

Using rel=canonical in combination with hreflang

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

Conclusion: rel=canonical is a power tool

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

Read more: Duplicate content: causes and solutions »

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Ask Yoast: Geotargeting and SEO

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

Ask Yoast: Geotargeting and SEO

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

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

Rufino emailed us his question on the subject:

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

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

Changing content based on the location of your visitors

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

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

Ask Yoast

In the series Ask Yoast, we answer SEO questions from our readers. Have an SEO-related question? Perhaps we can help you out! Send an email to [email protected], and your question may be featured in one of our weekly Ask Yoast vlogs.

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

Read more: hreflang: the ultimate guide »

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